A MelanieM Review: Beyond The Tunnel (The Wizard Shifter #1) by Dan Mitton

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 Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
 

What would you do if you rode into a mountain tunnel in North Carolina and then rode out into a different world? Adam Stephens is about to find out…


Adam Stephens is a man with a mission. It has been three years since they chopped that malignant brain tumor out of his head, and he is off on a solo motorcycle camping trip through the Appalachian Mountains.


When he rides into the Pine Mountain Tunnel in North Carolina and rides out into another realm—a realm that comes complete with a big sexy grizzly bear shifter, mages, and an evil sorcerer—he isn’t sure he isn’t lying in the tunnel after crashing his bike. Can such a world exist? Or is he dreaming? If he is dreaming…it sure is realistic.


Along the way, there will be some major hurdles to surpass including no indoor plumbing…and no coffee. A man needs some basic luxuries, correct?

I’m as divided about writing this review as I was when I finished this story. Beyond The Tunnel (The Wizard Shifter #1) by Dan Mitton has left me with so many mixed thoughts and feelings about this novel.  Generally,  they are all mostly good. I completed the story knowing I would love to read more in the series and that the characters certainly left a big enough impression that I wanted to know what happened to them after the ending.

First off?  I loved the premise of this story.  A man still in recovery from brain surgery decides to take motorcycle trip he had always planned on before his next chemo session starts.  Only the light he sees exiting a tunnel in North Carolina shines with a different glow, the highway has disappeared, and the forest turned almost primeval in it’s towering growth. Is it a delusion…a result of the surgery and tumor or is it real?  That would have been an interesting road to travel but Mitton goes for the straightford route which still works here.

Adams has found his  way into another world, complete with magic, shifters, and an evil sorcerer.  Whew.  Once here, so many things start to happen.  There’s a huge case of instant love.  And to give the author his due, Adam remarks that yes, it’s instant love with tons of sex.  Unfortunately, this part of the story doesn’t help the book.  I liked both characters of Adam and Rafe but never felt that they had the time to develop their relationship.  That ‘instant love’ thing just doesn’t work here.  Good thing both are likable.

However, there’s so much more happening here.  Mostly about an evil sorcerer, who just happens to be from Adam’s time.  I found the author’s ability to make the villages and their inhabitants come alive especially appealing and essential to this story.  I cared about them and certain events are devastating.

Mitton sets himself a high agenda here with this story, with multiple tasks he obviously he wanted to accomplish with the narrative. So much so that he starts with certain threads and then drops them throughout the storyline.  I’m not sure if that’s because he’s going to use them in stories down the line or what.  But to have these tantalizing hints tossed out here and then nothing made of them? Sort of irritating.  Adam glowed in the dark in places Rafe reported?  Had snatches of lightning that appeared around him?  Little story elements  so curious and neat that just disappear never to be seen again.  Argh.  And yes, there are huge holes in the story here that never to get explained satisfactorily or at all.  Almost all center around magic, Adam and the mysterious sorcerer.

However, there are scenes so beautifully descriptive you’ll believe you are there.  Characters both down to earth and magical that you’ll connect with and root for.  There’s so much in this story that even when you want to say “why did he pull that in”, you keep going because you have to know what happens to them all.

I won’t discuss the ending.  Parts really didn’t make too much sense, especially with regards to the evil sorcerer.  So I expect he’s coming back in the sequel.  It all ends on an up and joyous note, one that will make you want to read the next story.

Cover art works for both the characters and the storyline,  Great job.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Exstasy 
 
Length: 79,777 words

 

A Lila Audiobook Review: Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists by Angel Martinez and Michael Pauley (Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A poltergeist haunts Taro, dogging his international travels. It washes glasses, puts dishes away, and even dusts. At least he hopes it’s a cleaning-obsessed poltergeist and not his own anxieties burbling over into neat freak fits he doesn’t remember. When his property manager suggests he call paranormal expert, Jack Montrose, Taro’s skeptical but desperate enough to try even a ghost hunter.

Jack’s arrival crushes Taro’s hopes of a dashing Van Helsing-style hero. Instead of an invincible hunter, he gets Ichabod Crane. As the paranormal puzzles multiply and Jack begins to suggest the entity might not be a ghostly one, Taro adds a budding friendship with Jack to his pile of anxieties. It’s a race to see whether Taro’s poltergeist or his relationship with the obviously-not-ace Jack will reach maximum strangeness first.

Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists never pulled me in. Taro’s self-reprieves take too much of the initial part of the story for me to feel compelled by his story. The initial meeting with his family and the subsequential travels were rushed and almost identical. I understand the author was trying to set the plot of the story, but I kept waiting for something interesting to happen.

The trips were almost like a list of places he visited were the same “magical cleaning” happening. He was always tired and lonely but the minimal interactions with others and his internal dialogue didn’t make me want to know more about his situation or his past.

Getting to know Jack was hard too; especially from Taro’s perspective. Perhaps a little more information was needed to sympathize with him and their relationship. Their main conversation about their differences was a bit awkward and it was hard to believe in them and their future.

Overall, it is a nice story, with the author’s natural fun and quirky writing. It just not great.

I didn’t enjoy Michael Pauley’s narration. Yes, the voices were distinct but it was more of a performance than a narration. It was hard to get into the story without feeling as if the whole thing was being forced. It had an unnatural quality that made me want to take breaks when listening to the story.

The cover by L.C. Chase is a cute representation of the story’s main plot and it has a ghostly feel that fits well.

Sales Links:  Mischief | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Michael Pauley
Length: 4 hours 2 minutes
Published: November 15, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Mischief Corner Books
ASIN: B077GDKWBC
Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Tangled Up in You by Emily Carrington

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Retired SearchLight agent Jason Campbell stumbles into intrigue in Kansas. Never attracted to women or men, he finds himself compelled by a fox demigod who gets to him through the magical medium of music. As Jason falls deeply in love with Reynard, he discovers an awful secret: Reynard is slave to a monster. As Jason struggles to free both Reynard and the fox-god’s son, he must do so without weapons, without backup, and without all the facts, which could lead to death’s retirement.

It was nice to read another story in the SerchLight universe however even though this doesn’t need to be read in order with any other story I felt as if there was a lot of little information missing.  Jason doesn’t know what to do with himself when is forced into retirement by SearchLight.  Reynard has been captive for so long he doesn’t know how to react to the confusing human who stumbles upon him.

I felt as if I was watching this story from a distance and didn’t really get to understand the characters.  I loved that Jason wanted to help Reynard but never felt as if these two really connected and they didn’t seem to get it either.  It also didn’t make sense to me how Reynard is a demigod but doesn’t always know when he is using his powers.  There was just so much talking in circles and around topics that while I liked the story it just seemed disjointed.

Cover art by Fiona Jayde is nice and follows the style of other SearchLight stories but the models seem way too young for two guys in their forties.

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 127 pages

Published: November 20, 2017 by Loose Id

ISBN: 978-1-68252-444-2

Edition Language: English

Series: SearchLight Universe

A Stella Review: Like a Gentleman by Eliot Grayson

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

James Rowley, penniless younger brother of an earl, discovers his rejected sensational story has been stolen and printed under another name — and he’s certain his editor is the guilty party. Determined to get his due, he sets out for London to take revenge on the perfidious L. Wells. He means to have satisfaction, even if he needs to pose as a simpering fop in a pink waistcoat to get it.

Two years before, intrigued by his favorite writer’s talent and wit, Leo Wells had visited the Rowley estate incognito, seen James’s portrait — and promptly lost what was left of his heart. Ever since, Leo has fought his obsession with his favorite writer. Unaware of the manuscript’s theft, he’s bewildered and heartbroken when James, acting the part of a sneering dandy, visits him in person only to use his obvious attraction against him.

From Gloucestershire to London to Portsmouth, can two men with society and secrets dividing them find happiness?

I’m not a huge fan of historical MM romance and I’m always picky about the books I decide to read cause I don’t want to end hating them just because they are not set in the contemporary time. Nonetheless I wanted to have Like A Gentleman on my Kindle as  soon as I read the blurb, it strongly interested me and at the end the author, a new to me author, didn’t disappoint me at all.

This was a quick read, just a little more than 60 pages but they were very well done. Eliot Greyson simply succeeded in the greatest way possible with Like a Gentleman. I was able to find here everything I always look into my readings, well written words, engaging world, the characters built and likeable. I found myself into a good defined plot made of passion and revenge. And the chemistry between James and Leo was explosive. And there was some sweetness too. I couldn’t ask for more.

I’m now writing this review and to be honest, I want to reread the story, so yes, I’m going to do it right this second. Highly recommended if you are a fan of Regency romance or not, like me.

The cover art is simple and fitting to the era. I don’t despite it but I don’t love it either.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 69 pages

Published November 4th 2017 by Smoking Teacup Books

ASIN B0776F4GX7

Edition Language English

Love Historical Romance? Don’t Miss ‘The Quality of Mercy (Bent Oak Saga #2)’ by Ari McKay (guest post and exclusive excerpt)

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The Quality of Mercy (Bent Oak Saga #2) by Ari McKay
Dreamspinner Press

Cover by Reese Dante,Website: https://www.reesedante.com

Preorder Links: Dreamspinner Press: eBookPaperback:  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome back McKay of Ari McKay, here to talk about their latest release The Quality of Mercy.

♦︎

Hi, everyone! I’m the McKay half of Ari McKay, and I’d like to thank Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting us on our blog tour for our new historical Western, The Quality of Mercy. This is the second book in our Bent Oak Saga series, set in Texas in the late 19th century.

Today, I’d like to share an exclusive excerpt from the book, one that shows the uphill battle Carlos faces in winning Jules’s heart. I hope you enjoy it!

Exclusive Excerpt

“Tonight we have something new and special for the harvest festival,” Miss McManus announced. “In honor of the season, our schoolmaster, Mr. Jules Wingate, will read a selection of seasonal poetry for us, accompanied by the beautiful music of one of Mercy’s favorite cowboys, Mr. Carlos Hernandez.”

Miss McManus stepped aside and the audience applauded politely. Jules removed several sheets of paper from his coat pocket; he’d copied all the poems down in case nerves got the better of him. He waited while Carlos readied his guitar. Carlos sat down in the chair that had been provided for him, tuned his guitar, and smiled warmly at Jules when he was ready.

Jules began with the Browning poem he’d chosen, modulating his voice to reach to the back of the room so everyone could hear him. Carlos’s music suited the poem perfectly, adding its own beauty to the measured lines of verse. When they finished, there was loud applause. So it went through the other seasonal poetry. Carlos found the perfect accompaniment to enhance the spoken words and make them seem richer and more vibrant. Each was given enthusiastic acknowledgment, and Jules was pleased the people of Mercy were so receptive.

After a brief pause to let the applause die away, Jules recited “Annabel Lee.” The poem had been one of his favorites since school, the pathos of the tale elevated to something transcendent by a poet without peer. It meant even more to him after losing Carlos, for the yearning, even in the face of incredible pain, was something he knew all too well. To have loved and lost made the poem resonate with him in ways that nothing else did. To know the love he had lost and missed so deeply sat only a few feet from him somehow made it all the more heart-wrenching, and he knew the depth of his own loss was reflected in his voice.

When he finished speaking and the last beautiful, melancholy chord of Carlos’s guitar died away, there was utter silence for several moments. Jules looked out on the people who had come to listen, seeing tears glistening in more than a few eyes. Then the applause began, and it shook the very timbers of the building with its power.

Stunned, Jules took a step back, drawing in a deep breath and glancing at Carlos.

“I think they liked it,” he said, pitching his voice to not be lost in the thunderous clapping.

“Of course they did,” Carlos replied with a little nod. “You are a captivating speaker. You always have been.”

Jules smiled, feeling his face grow hot at the compliment, which warmed him far more than it should. “Thank you. But I think your music gave it that extra something.”

“Thank you.” Carlos turned away briefly to pack up his guitar, and then he stood up and moved closer to Jules. “Our talents are well matched,” he said, and a heated gleam appeared in his dark eyes before he leaned over and murmured in Jules’s ear, “We were well-matched in several ways, as I recall.”

Memories of the two of them entwined in passion rose to torment Jules, no doubt as Carlos intended. Jules felt himself flushing again, and he shook his head, taking a step back to put some distance between them, glancing quickly at the audience to make certain no one was paying attention to them. “That was a long time ago.”

“Yet not so long ago that I have forgotten the pleasure of your touch or the sweetness of your kisses,” Carlos said. He winked at Jules before picking up his case and sauntering away, seeming to put a little extra swagger in his step for Jules’s benefit.

Jules wished he could smack Carlos. Carlos knew exactly what he was doing to Jules, and Jules was frustrated with himself that he wasn’t immune to Carlos’s tactics. He watched Carlos walk off, unable to keep from thinking about how different Carlos’s body would be now that he’d filled out, all broad shoulders and lean hips.

Jules bit off a growl. Rather than dwell on it, he joined Al to watch a skit put on by the older students from school, as well as the musical performances to follow. He tried to enjoy himself and put Carlos out of his mind, but he found his gaze straying throughout the evening, watching Carlos as he interacted with other people. He couldn’t seem to help himself, and every time Carlos noticed him looking, he gave Jules a heated smile.

A young cowboy, perhaps a few years older than Al, approached Carlos, and Jules was experienced enough to recognize the subtle flirtation in the way the handsome blond stood a bit too close to Carlos and leaned in whenever Carlos spoke. He wasn’t certain if Carlos was uninterested in the young man or if age had schooled him to more discretion, but Carlos didn’t appear to give the young man any encouragement. Still, the sight gave Jules a pang he had no right whatsoever to feel. It reminded him that Carlos probably hadn’t spent the past ten years alone the way Jules had, and that even if Carlos wanted him now, Jules wouldn’t be able to hold his interest for long.

The performances ended, and Jules rose, ignoring Carlos and the other young man. Feeling deflated, Jules made himself nod politely and accept the compliments of those around him for his own part in the evening, but he didn’t linger. Instead he decided to help the group of people who were cleaning up the tables outside, keeping busy instead of dwelling on what could never be.

Blurb

 

Gil Porter and Matt Grayson’s Bent Oak Ranch in Mercy, Texas is a rare haven for gay men in the 19th century, and their friend Carlos Hernandez will need it when a man from his past unexpectedly comes back into his life.

Jules Wingate hopes to start over in Mercy as the schoolmaster after a scandal sent him and his son fleeing their former home. But he discovers he’s left one bad situation for another when he encounters his former student and lover, Carlos. No matter how Jules tries to resist, he yearns for the passionate connection they once shared… before Carlos broke his heart.

Carlos knows his foolish, immature actions hurt Jules, but he desperately wants a second chance and to show Jules he’s changed. But trust so badly broken is hard to repair. While he works to earn Jules’s forgiveness, someone else at the ranch has his sights set on Carlos—and he doesn’t care how many lives he has to ruin to make Carlos his and his alone.

About the Authors

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

AUTHOR CONTACTS:

Website: http://arimckay.wordpress.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ari-Mckay/266185570179748

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ari.mckay.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AriMcKay1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6153630.Ari_McKay

Hannah Carmack on Tagging, Writing, and her new release Seven-Sided Spy (guest blog)

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Seven-Sided Spy by Hannah Carmack
NineStar Press
Release Date: January 15th

Buy at NineStar Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Hannah Carmack here today to talk about her new release Seven-Sided Spy and her thoughts on writing, tagging and unhappily every after.  Welcome, Hannah.

Hannah Carmack on Unhappily Ever After

At first, I thought the tagging was a mistake. The manuscript was back from the proofer and below Heat Level: 0 (Which is a measure of spicy romance scenes, not general warmth of the novel’s content,) was a list of tags:

Abduction, historical, spies, no HEA or HFN, revenge, gay, lesbian, eating disorder, secret agent, graphic violence, m/c dies.

M/C DIES. My immediate thought was ‘Uh, spoiler?’ As fast as my fingers could type, I wrote my editor asking if there’d been an error in tagging. I was surprised to learn that there hadn’t. Now, my editor is the bomb.com and my press is flippin’ the best, so I was surprised that they’d include a tag that gave away so much. Especially in a book where the ending is so emotionally charged. Coupled with the no HEA or HFN (which stand for Happily Ever After and Happy For Now,) I was certain that we’d given too much away.

Then, it happened. As I sent the Advance Reader Copies out, tags included, I had a reviewer write me back. They expressed immense gratitude that I’d included the spoiler-y tags and decided that they needed to pass on the novel at this time in their life. Which I completely understand, respect, and applaud them for. Self-care comes first, kids.

The tags that I initially pushed back on were in fact that the tags that mattered the most. Had I not included them, my book, whose goal it is to bring pleasure to readers, could have hurt someone. In the times we’re in, it may be best to take the Adam Silvera Approach. Being completely upfront with your readers about anything that could be seen as upsetting or distressing –Dog deaths included– is one of the kindest things you can do. 

Blurb

In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.