A MelanieM Release Day Review: Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay (Mischief holiday story)

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Rating: 5 stars plus out of 5

Life hasn’t been easy for Amir since he fled Iran after a brutal imprisonment. The trauma experienced at the hands of the guards left a dark spot on his soul. The one constant in his life since relocating to Chicago has been his lover—now husband—Esmail, whose steadfast love and support has soothed his wounded heart.

​But this Shab-e Yalda, Amir wants to be the one giving his husband something special, because even after the darkest nights, the sun will rise again.

Really, Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay  is one of those stories that makes me want to run outside, grabbing people to say “have you read this story? You must read this story…”.  Because it’s so powerful, it’s message of hope and love so enduring and impactful that I want to send it out there as a holiday gift to everyone.

And it starts out so gently, and like the gentle ripples spreading across a lake, you have no idea of the power of the swift currents waiting for you just underneath the initial surface you see, waiting to sweep you emotionally under.

You first meet Amir when he’s shopping for Shab-e Yalda.  Freddy Mackay gives a description of the religious holiday and the dishes they eat at the back of the story.  Don’t miss those.  But they aren’t needed to read the story through…the first time. Or the second. Or even third. From the manner in which you meet him and the way he’s handling the shopping, you know that there’s something wrong.  But the revelations about Amir unfold slowly, heartbreakingly, with hints and then facts that will crush you… little peeks into his  past history and horrors over the course of the story.  At points I had to stop because I just   not have enough tissues nearby to go on.  But go on you must.  Because this beautiful story is about surviving the dark, waiting for the light, the sunrise to arrive bringing hope and love.

Mackay’s writing is exquisite.  Each word, each sentence is precisely right…forming a picture in your mind and heart of the past, present, and finally, what the future may hold for Amir and husband Esmail.  Waiting for the golden rays of the  sunrise to put them back together again reminded me of the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Called Kintsugi which means golden repair because you can see the seams of gold glinting in the cracks of the newly whole pottery,  the sun shining down on Amir and Esmail seemed to help seal and mend the broken man huddled in the darkness.  So powerful, so enduring….this is a story that you will want to reread often.  It will be in the top stories of 2017 for me and I want everyone to go out and read it immediately!  That’s how highly I recommend Watermelon Kisses by Freddy Mackay.

Cover art is wonderful containing an important element of the story but nothing can really do justice to this story.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

First Expected publication: November 29th 2017 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Guardian of Magic by Dominique Frost

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

When a god falls in love with a mortal, the entire world will feel the impact…

 

Brady Jenkins is a witch whose dream job is to practice magic professionally. He doesn’t have a familiar, though, and without one, he can’t obtain a witchery license. And without the license, he’s stuck. And so the cycle goes; no familiar, no license, no practicing witchery. Brady believes himself to be a painfully mediocre witch. After all, a real witch would have a familiar, right?

 

Malachai is an ancient god who is drawn Brady who is seemingly ordinary, but unknowingly powerful…and oh so innocent. He appears to Brady as a little black cat. But things soon get complicated when Malachai begins to fall in love with Brady. He’s forced to reveal himself and asks Brady to be his eternal companion.

 

Brady’s world turns upside down when he discovers his cat isn’t a cat; he’s something so much more. If that isn’t enough, Brady must decide what he wants–the freedom of being a mortal, or the burden of immortality. Will immortality be worth it for a love that will outlast eternity?

 

I really enjoyed this story.  Brady has spent his life thinking he was a failure and has been unable to call a familiar no matter how many times he tries.  Malachai has been biding his time knowing he couldn’t claim Brady until he came into magical majority and throws everything Brady knew into chaos.

 

I liked how Malachai was willing to wait for Brady to come to terms with what they mean to each other since he has been claimed by a god.  Malachai is much more willing to live based on Brady’s wants than just doing anything he wants.  Brady is stubborn and needs to come to terms with how his life will change when Malachai comes into it.  Most of this story is about Brady getting through his witch’s license test.  This was left a little open ended and I think it would be interesting if we get to see these two in another story.

 

Cover art by Ginny Glass is eye catching and I really like it.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 115 pages

Published: October 9, 2017 by Loose Id

ISBN: 978-1-68252-422-0

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review: Texas Gift (Texas #8) by R.J. Scott

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A gift for every single reader who said they needed to know what happened next for Jack and Riley…

When Hayley arrived on the steps of the D, Riley and Jack knew life would never be the same.

Told through Riley and Jack’s eyes, this is ten years in the life of their family and watching Hayley grow up, fall in love, and start her own life. Hurricanes, illness, babies, happiness, sadness, work, play, the barn, the office, horses, friends, enemies, and above all love.

Texas Gift (Texas #8) by R.J. Scott is exactly that, a wonderful gift to all of her readers, myself included, who fell in love with Riley and Jack from book one of her Texas series.  Through seven stories, starting with The Heart of Texas, we have been through heartache, blackmail, murder, misunderstandings, accidents, illnesses, adoptions, and so much more.

We’ve watch their love grow from a business deal wedding to a deep abiding love that spans decades and expands to include children and friends cobbled together from all walks of life.  It’s been such an amazing journey.  It’s included  Max their autistic son, a character that RJ  Scott has  handled with such joy and loving authenticity that Max was at first both a poignant yet quietly awesome young man, someone we loved from the moment he entered their lives.  Of course we watched Hayley grow up and then there’s the twins as well.

Now in Texas Gift we get to see what happens…watch the years go by.  Hayley goes off to college with the appropriate parental meltdowns.  The twins grow up and we get to see what adulthood has in store for them…prepare to have your tissue boxes nearby. There are family crises, some of the other characters we have come to love over the course of the years at the DoubleD Ranch also  go through some life altering changes that will gladden your heart.  Texas Gift is like sitting down on a  couch with your family with their family albums and going through it with them as they tell you the stories from each picture, pointing out every loving detail with laughter, some sniffles and oh, so much joy.  It fills your heart with happiness and a warm glow because you’ve made such a connection with these men and their family over the course of these stories that they feel real and part of you.

Now as RJ Scott  closes the final chapter on Texas we get to see their whole story…what an amazing journey, what a marvelous gift. You’ve left me smiling and full of heartwarming memories.  I’ll miss you.

Cover art by Meredith Russell is absolutely perfect, framing out Riley and Jack when they were young and their family. Sniffles.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages
Published November 12th 2017 by Love Lane Books Ltd
ASINB077DJB1K8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTexas #8

Texas Series

Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Hearts and Hazelnuts (States of Love) by Kris T. Bethke

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Mechanic Jordan Hart is down on his luck, so he gladly accepts a temporary job servicing tractors at a hazelnut farm in Newberg, Oregon. He doesn’t expect to be attracted to his boss, Beckett Shaw. Still working on embracing his bisexuality, he’s reluctant to start anything, but Beckett’s gentle coaxing convinces Jordan to take a risk.

Beckett has vowed not to get involved with anyone until he can restore the Shaw Farms name as a leader in hazelnuts. But there’s no denying his interest in the shy mechanic who shows up at his door. Just as they begin to find a balance, outside forces threaten to tear them apart. Job opportunities force Jordan out of the Portland area he loves so much. But when danger comes too close to Beckett, Jordan must decide if he can follow his heart to the Willamette Valley… and straight back to Beckett.

One of the first things Hearts and Hazelnuts (States of Love) by Kris T. Bethke does is make you want to head out and visit the Willamette Valley of Oregon as it’s a virtual love letter to that portion, in fact all of the state.  Lushly described, the scenery and locations alone are a draw for this sweet romance novella. Then you add to it a slow burn love story and the fascinating element of hazelnut farming, and Dreamspinner Press’ States of Love and Kris T. Bethke have come up with another winner.

For 109 pages, the author did a lovely job of letting Jordan and Beckett build a relationship through working together rather than  a sort of “instant impact/love”  you often find in the shorter stories.  The attraction is there but each man has other responsibilities and issues in their lives they also need to concentrate on…a very realistic element I appreciated.  Told from both men’s perspectives, we get to see the stress they are under as well as the hopes they have for each other and the future.

There is a minor drama/suspense angle here that I thought was resolved far too quickly but again this is a novella not a novel so there’s a constraint as far as words allowed.  That aside, I thought Hearts and Hazelnuts was a lovely, heartwarming romance by Kris T. Bethke.  It certainly made me want a cup of hazelnut coffee and more.  If you love contemporary romance, check out Hearts and Hazelnuts (States of Love) by Kris T. Bethke.   I definitely recommend it.

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is not only beautiful and eye catching but perfect for the story.  Love it.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 103 pages
Expected publication: November 29th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640800007
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStates of Love

Review Tour for Texas Gift (Texas #8) by R.J. Scott (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 50,000 words approx
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Texas Series
 
Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

A gift for every single reader needed to know what happened next for to Jack and Riley…


When Hayley arrived on the steps of the D, Riley and Jack knew life would never be the same.


Told through Riley and Jack’s eyes, this is ten years in the life of their family and watching Hayley grow up, fall in love, and start her own life. Hurricanes, illness, babies, happiness, sadness, work, play, the barn, the office, horses, friends, enemies, and above all love.


Excerpt


Chapter One


Riley needed to apologize. Right now.


He’d fucked up big time, and he should have seen it coming, because everything he did went in cycles. He and Jack hadn’t argued in so long and maybe the tension that had been building inside Riley had needed an outlet; he’d provoked the argument. He’d pushed and prodded and sulked and shoved at Jack until Jack had snapped.


Not in loud, shouting temper, or anything like what Riley deserved. No, Jack had gone deathly quiet.


Absolutely. Utterly. Quiet.


Riley shouted at him, got everything out of his system, felt the weight of it all lessen by throwing it at Jack and what had happened? He’d stood there at first, confused, and then steadily calmer. Weirdly calmer.


They argued; no normal marriage went without arguments over things as important as the kids and as trivial as picking up wet towels. But they resolved things, Jack/Riley was a unit that worked. They sometimes bickered and teased, they shouted rarely, and on the odd occasion there would be sulking. Mostly from Riley. He considered it as thinking time but Jack just called him on his sulking like a child.


Their arguments always ended in love; talking, kissing, complete forgiveness that could only come when two people understood and loved each other.


This morning though, he’d made Connor cry, Lexie scowl, and Max hide under the table with Toby. Jack hadn’t even stayed for that. The crying, scowling and hiding had happened after he’d left.


“Why are you shouting at Pappa!” Connor shouted back at Riley. “Stop shouting.” Then he’d started to cry, and Riley’s heart had broken into a million pieces. He’d sat between a crying Connor, and a sullen, angry Lexie and tried to explain that he had a bad headache and he didn’t mean to shout. For headache, read migraine, tight painful migraine that blurred his vision and made him feel sick. He’d taken meds and the sharp edges of the glass in his head were easing, but he couldn’t think straight. Connor stopped crying.


“You were so mean,” Lexie summarized, but she did give Riley a hug and kiss him on the forehead to make it all better.


Max on the other hand, while not angry with Riley and the shouting, was still under the kitchen table with Toby. The black lab, Riley’s black lab, was between Max and Riley in a protective furry wall.


“It’s okay Tobes, I got this,” Riley tried to fold all six-four of himself under the wood. He got caught on a bench, his neck burned, his stomach was in knots, but nothing was going to stop him from getting to Max. Toby did eventually move to one side but not too far. Toby may well have been Riley’s dog at the start, but he and Max were inseparable now.


“Max, buddy?” he began, and Max at least looked up at him for a split second. “You okay?”


“M’okay,” Max said. “You’re noisy.”


At least he wasn’t rocking, or stimming. He was just sitting with his dog in his favorite place under the kitchen table.


“Is everything okay?” Carol said from behind him. He scrambled back and brushed himself off. “Riley?”


“I shouted,” Riley explained simply.


“At the kids?” Carol asked, aghast, as if that was the ultimate sin in her eyes. Which, to be fair, it was in Riley’s as well. He and Jack didn’t shout, they cajoled, and bargained, and ran a happy house. Most of the time, anyway. Just not this morning.


“No, at Jack.”


“Is Max okay?” she peered under the table and smiled at Max. He adored her, the kids all loved their nanny, probably quite a bit more than they loved their dad today.


“He seems fine.” Riley peered out of the window at where Jack had gone. The damage had been done, but Connie and Lexie were chatting to each other, Max was with Carol and he needed to go and make things right with Jack.


“I think we’re okay in here,” Carol said, “Go find Jack.”


Riley shot her a grateful glance, and as he left the kitchen he heard Lexie telling Carol that her Pappa had a headache and that she’d kissed it better. When he closed the door it was just him and the ranch and finding Jack. It didn’t take him long; he was outside their barn, looking up at the siding, with his feet apart and his arms crossed over his chest.


Riley inhaled the fresh morning air and pulled back his shoulders. He could do this; he could ignore the pain in his head now it had lessened a little, he could push back the nausea, and he could go and apologize to Jack for being a fucking idiot.


“I’m sorry,” he murmured, coming to a stop next to Jack, only a few inches separating their arms. Jack didn’t move.


“It’s okay.” Although it didn’t sound okay at all. Okay was one of those words that meant nothing in the context of an argument, it was a word that plastered over cracks in a relationship. Okay was quiet and tight-lipped silences and Riley recalled okay from when he was a kid.


He hated okay.


“It’s not okay, I have a headache and I didn’t mean any of what I said.”


“You didn’t mean to say that life would be easier if you didn’t have to listen to me?” Jack’s voice was low and serious, and Riley winced.


“You were saying too much, and I couldn’t think.”


Their discussion had started in the bedroom.


“I asked if you’d made an appointment to see someone about the headaches.”


“I know—”


“And why you were limping again—”


“Jack—”


“And why you weren’t sleeping, and why you spent so much time at the office, and why the fuck have we not used the barn in over a month?”


The barn wasn’t just the barn, it was a euphemism for sex. They hadn’t been together in a month, over a month now. How did Riley explain that he’d been at the office, sometimes with the blinds shut, closing out the light, sleeping? How did he explain he didn’t want to see a doctor because the headaches scared him? And how the hell did he tell Jack he was limping because every single one of his muscles hurt, because he was tired, because it was all too much?


“Jack, I’m sorry.”


“You’re not, Riley, because you won’t listen to me.” Jack pointed at the barn. “I’m thinking we turn this into a games room for the kids.”


Riley gripped Jack’s arm. “No, what the hell?” His tension fled and in its place was panic. This was their space. Sometimes they came out here to talk, to hide away from the world, but it was also the one place they had the hottest sex he’d ever experienced. He wanted that again, but he was so tired, every time he turned over in bed his neck hurt, and his head pounded, and his leg ached, and he was fucking tired of it all. “Jack, I’m sorry, don’t…”


Jack turned to face him, and his expression wasn’t angry. “Either you go to the doctor, right here, right now, or I start clearing the place for a pool table.” He looked deadly serious, and Riley couldn’t tell if this was an empty threat. Then Jack softened, cradled his face and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “Riley, please.”


Just those two words pierced the fear in Riley, he couldn’t stop the pain, or the threat of being sick, or not sleeping, but whatever was wrong, Jack would be there for him.


“I’m scared,” Riley murmured.


Jack gathered him close. “You think I’m not?”


“Please don’t,” Riley said against Jack’s neck. His words sounded slurred and fear made him sway. What the hell? “Please don’t let me chase you away.”


“I won’t.”


And that was the last thing he heard as his world went to black.

 

Find Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 Star Review Here.

.



November 15 – Sexy Erotic Xciting, Gay Media Reviews
November 21 – Making It Happen, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings
November 23 – Padme’s Library
November 25 – Dog-Eared Dadydreams
November 27 – Valerie Ullmer, The Geekery Book Review
November 29 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Bayou Book Junkie, Jim’s Reading Room, Wicked Reads

Author Bio

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
www.rjscott.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/author.rjscott?ref=ts&fref=ts
www.goodreads.com/author/show/3432558.R_J_Scott
twitter.com/Rjscott_author
www.librarything.com/author/scottrj

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Review Tour and Giveaway: Jackie Keswick’s Undercover Star

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 41,000 words
 
Cover Design: Emma Griffin
 
Blurb
 

It sounds like the stupidest idea in the history of stupid ideas. Detective Inspector Josh Ingram wants to find a deadly medieval locket and through it, a murderer. So why does his boss decide to team him up with Matisse Vervein, a pop idol many consider just a pretty face… and expect the two of them to hunt down an art thief?


Marissa Godwin, Matisse’s no-nonsense manager, isn’t stupid. Neither is her brother-in-law, Detective Superintendent Tim Montgomery. Each is looking out for a lonely man on the verge of quitting what he does best, and both believe that their charges would make a great team.


The attraction sizzling between Josh and Matisse is hard to miss, but there’s plenty of resentment, too. Focussed on pushing Josh and Matisse towards each other, Marissa and Tim haven’t imagined the kind of trouble a music star and a detective can find when they ditch their prejudices and accept that the attraction between them is mutual. Or how far each is prepared to go to prove it to the other.


A feel-good, action adventure romance set in England and Scotland, featuring a reluctant pop star who’s not out, a detective trying his hand at being a bodyguard, plenty of adventure, and a happy ending.

 



November 22 – Urban Smoothie Read
November 24 – OptimuMM
November 27 – Ebook Addicts, Making It Happen
November 29 – Zipper Rippers, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Valerie Ullmer, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews
December 1 – Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Bayou Book Junkie

Author Bio

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.


Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes, blogs about English history and food, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.


And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.


For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:



Website
Twitter
FB
Newsletter

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