An Ali Release Day Review: Bobby Green (Johnnies #5) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables. 

As “Bobby,” he’s a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It’s the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.

Reg Williams likes to think he’s too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.

But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?
 
 
This is the fifth installment of this series and takes places at the same time the events of the first four books are taking place. There are references to things that are happening with the other characters and most of them have some role in this. The story starts with us meeting Vern/Bobby (his porn name & what I’m going to use for the rest of the review) who’s living an unhappy life in a bigoted small town. A chance to work construction in Sacramento helps him get out but when that quickly goes bad, Bobby is desperate to not have to go back. A chance meeting with Dex gives him the solution he needs and leads him to working at Johnnies where he meets and becomes friends with Reg.

I have to be honest and say I don’t remember Reg or Bobby at all from the other books (but it’s been years since I read the first three books in this series). Reg is a veteran porn star at Johnnies and he’s the good natured guy everyone is friends with (& friends w benefits with). At first Reg was presented as being slow intellectually and I wasn’t sure this book was going to work for me. Characters with cognitive delays can be dicey for me. If there’s any hint of a power imbalance between the two MC’s I’m out. Fortunately (for me) this is not how this plays out. I thought the author did a good job looking at how social issues effect one’s IQ and how emotional IQ is also a big part of how people present. Reg has a really difficult life. He’s been responsible for his mentally ill sister since he was 16 years old. She keeps him captive in his own home and he has no life outside porn and no friends other than the Johnnies guys. His meeting Bobby changes his perspective and challenges what he thought he wanted out of life.
These two start off as friends and it’s a really slow burn between them. I really liked that change up from most romance books. They spent months just hanging out and snuggling and talking. It takes them both awhile to even realize they’re in love. 

This book is pretty gritty and parts aren’t pretty at all. Reg’s sister has a very serious mental health issue and some of the scenes with her are pretty rough. She’s verbally and physically aggressive and poor Reg takes a ton of abuse. The situation Bobby is in in the first part of the book was also pretty difficult to read. There was one scene in particular where my stomach kind of knotted up for him. 

Something else I think is important to note is these two are not together-together for the first 50-60% of the book and they both sleep with other people, on and off the set. They weren’t at a commitment stage yet, and honestly the way things played out seemed very realistic. I personally didn’t have a problem with it, although I admit a few parts were a little sad, but I think it fit the plot in a very true to life manner. I mention it though as I know that dynamic is a big “no” for a lot of romance readers.
I had a lot of thoughts while reading this. It’s a pretty complex story line and one of the best books this author has written in years imo. She gave some great detail and thought to some complicated issues. I loved these two together and they way their relationship grew came to pass felt very realistic to me. This is very much not happy/fluffy Amy Lane so know that going in. As I’ve said, it’s very gritty and there’s more than one thing that may be of issue to some readers. Those of you who are like me though and love the grit and angst, this is a winner and you need to scoop it up asap.

This could be read as a standalone. There is a lot of interaction from the guys in the Johnnies group and all of them play at least a small role in this. Some (Dex, Kane and Ethan) play pretty big roles. You don’t have to read their books to be able to follow this one. You will spoiler yourself for multiple things from the first four books though. As someone who’s read all the books, I liked seeing the other guys and it was interesting to see them & their various issues from Reg & Bobby’s view points

This started a bit rough for me but ended up being my favorite in the series except for Chase in Shadows. These two are just fantastic together and watching them as they work through their problems (in life, not with each other) was really touching. They were perfect for each other & I was happy for them in the end like they were real people (#booknerd).
Cover:  This cover was done by Reese Dante and I like it a lot.  The cover fits perfectly with the prior books in the series and I thought the guys on the cover fit the descriptions of the MC’s really well.
Buy LInks:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
 Book Details:
ebook, First Edition, 350 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802575
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesJohnnies #5

A Caryn Release Day Review: Swann’s Revenge by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What a great book!  It’s a story of second chances, with just a little bit of enemies-to-lovers thrown in.  And of course who doesn’t appreciate the hero who overcomes a difficulty to become a success?

In high school Jimmy Zebulon was a band geek, overweight, asthmatic, socially awkward, and unwillingly out as gay, which made him a target for the football jocks.  His first crush was Danny, who was also on the football team, but was much kinder.  During one unfortunate game, Jimmy was humiliated by the other jocks in front of Danny, and in the process lost a love letter he’d written (but never intended to show) to Danny, and it was just too much – he ended up leaving the school, moving to a different city, and even took his stepfather’s name.  Jimmy Zebulon disappeared, and J. Graham Swann was born.  He grew 8 inches, started competing in marathons, became a successful lawyer, and essentially was completely unrecognizable to anyone who would have known him before.  Outwardly he was the epitome of a self-made man and owner of a prominent labor law firm, but there was a large part of him that inwardly was still that awkward and insecure teenager.

Daniel Parker was in the closet until an injury ended his college football career.  He married a wonderful man, they adopted a little girl, and were living their dream in NYC.  When his husband tragically died and Daniel became a single father, his life and goals changed.  He moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, to pursue an equally rewarding, but less stressful job with one of the rising stars in the world of labor law, Graham Swann.

Their first meeting is during a triathlon when Dan gives up a chance to place to help out another runner.  Graham had been admiring his ass, but then had to admire his kindness as well.  They didn’t recognize each other from high school, didn’t even exchange names, but their instant chemistry led to what was going to be an incredibly hot encounter, when mid-blow job, Dan took a call and abruptly left.  Graham was pissed, but blew it off and went back to his regular life.  On Monday, he was shocked to find that Dan was the new lawyer hired by his partner, and his aborted one night stand was also his high school crush.  All of his past insecurities came rushing back, and Graham’s goals immediately became keeping their shared past secret, and avoiding interacting with Dan as much as possible.

The characters really made this book.  These are both men I would want to be friends with.  They are driven, and successful, but still managed to be warm and caring, and had their priorities right where they should be.  Dan put his daughter first, and Graham took care of his employees.  Although Graham’s fear of being recognized made him exceptionally cold and aloof to Dan at first, Dan and his daughter Lacey eventually broke through the stony facade, and both men found much to admire in the other.  Graham’s insecurity caused him to give off a lot of mixed signals, leading to clumsy starts and stops in their developing friendship, but Dan remained infinitely patient.  The kindness that Graham had noticed 15 years ago was still there, and still just as attractive, and ultimately what brought and kept them together.  Although Dan may have been the catalyst, when Graham confronted his fears, and his past, he finally started to truly believe that he was worthy of Dan’s love, and the final transformation from ugly duckling to swan was complete.  The secondary characters were interesting and supportive, and though Lacey is a little too precocious – like most of the kids that bring the MCs together in romances – it wasn’t enough to turn me off.  I found this book to have more depth than the others I’ve read in the Dreamspun Desires series, and I would definitely recommend it!

Oh, and remember the love letter?  It worked 🙂

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is the standard for Dreamspun Desires, but I did think the model was a good match for Graham.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802421
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review:Alpha Dragon: Taran (Treasured Ink #1) by Kaz Crowley & Kellan Larkin

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Tattooing is Taran’s passion, and opening a shop with his four best friends is a dream come true. But when his fated mate walks right in the door on day one, he realizes life is gonna get crazy.

 

And then a rival tattoo shop opens right across the street. This alpha dragon’s got too much to handle, and if he’s not careful, he’s going to lose his passion, his friends, and his fated omega.

 

All Nosko wanted was a tattoo to remember his grandmother by. He didn’t think he’d meet the man he’d been waiting his whole life for. Is it the right time, though? His art gallery’s sales are dropping, and he needs to focus.

 

Just when he thinks he has it all under control, he gets mugged by someone who has a bone to pick with dragon shifters. How can he raise a family if he doesn’t feel safe in his own home?

 

With a rogue criminal targeting dragons and a flagging business, he needs to get his head on straight. And on top of that, Taran gets him pregnant.

 

What’s a guy to do?

 

This was an interesting story.  I’m not sure how they know who other paranormals are as they can’t seem to really sense them.  I understand this is the beginning of a new series, I think it leaves a lot of questions like; what is Annika and how did they quickly become such good friends, paranormals are hiding from humans but how is Taran hiding his pregnancy.

 

Taran and Nosko did a lot of flip flopping of their emotions near the beginning.  Nosko wasn’t looking for a mate but then in the next scene was always hoping for that loving connection.  Taran seemed all in and then pushed Nosko away and quickly jumps in again and they are suddenly having a baby.  I enjoyed the story and will probably read some more of the series but something was just missing from the building of the characters and story.

 

The cover art is nice and gives some nice visuals.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 152 pages

Publication: January 16, 2018

Edition Language: English

Series: Treasured Ink #1

H. M. Shepherd On Writing, Romance, and her new release Just for Nice (guest interview/tour)

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Just for Nice (States of Love) by H.M. Shepherd
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host H.M. Shepherd here today on tour with her new book. Just for Nice.  Welcome!

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with H.M. Shepherd ~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Too much, probably, and since Just For Nice was particularly personal I probably poured more of myself into the characters than I typically would. I’m a longtime Pennsylvania resident and my background contains Italian and Pennsylvania Dutch, so I drew on that quite a bit. I think Nick took on more than Sam; thinking on it now, I gave him names from my family tree, made his grandmother from the same town as my great-grandfather, and gave him a job in my field. But while he and I share similarities, he is certainly not a carbon-copy of me.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I don’t think so. I remember when I was reading (and writing, to my eternal embarrassment) fanfiction I became a little irritated when commenters started blurring the line between a Mary Sue fic and a self-insert fic because they aren’t necessarily the same thing. I say this because I think giving characters elements of your own personality or your own experience is a great way to for an author connect them with their settings on an emotional level without beating your readers about the head with it.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I always end up doing at least a little bit of research even if I’m writing about a topic I know inside and out. There is always, always more to know, and even if it never makes it into the story I think it helps ground things better if the author can be authoritative about their subject. This includes fantasy settings–I’m currently working on a story that spun out of control from a retelling of the fairy tale Godfather Death. It’s set firmly in another world, and I’m still researching nomadic steppe cultures and how the government of the Holy Roman Empire was structured.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Oh absolutely, and I think anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves. I write the stories that I would like to read, and what I like to read hasn’t changed way too much from when I was younger. It’s just gotten more mature.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I have several works in progress that have been sitting around for wildly varying amounts of time because I just don’t have the means to finish them. It may be because of writer’s block, or a lack of time, or because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. And while I hate to admit it, sometimes it’s just because of boredom. I’m a very lazy writer.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

There’s a chapter in one of the earlier issues of Sandman where the narrator talks about a diner waitress and her writing. I don’t remember her being a particularly nice character, but I remember one line from her that still resonates with me: You have to know where to end a story, otherwise everything ends with death. I don’t believe in HEA; things get inevitably difficult, and tragic, and messy. Both main characters in Just For Nice have flaws that could put serious strain on a relationship and take away the HEA … but where I’ve ended things, they are definitely happy for now and have the potential to remain so if they continue to work for it. I think I prefer those endings.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Funny enough, I rarely read romance, at least not those that are published by mainstream companies. I don’t find that there’s a ton of variety to them, and it’s boring to read the same story over and over and over. Now works by smaller publishers, or even work just posted online? I have and still do read it voraciously.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

I hate to answer this, because I don’t want to claim that I’m anywhere near the caliber of writer that these people are. But there are definitely a few authors that I look up to. Growing up (and who am I kidding, to this day) those writers were J.K. Rowling and Garth Nix. Right now it’s probably George R. R. Martin. I’m still amazed that someone can write a series with dragons and warlocks and still make feel it so realistic.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I moved about a year ago and had to pack up my pretty substantial personal library and I have to tell you, while I still love actual books I absolutely despise moving them. I have so many books on my Kindle and on Google Play, not to mention everything I downloaded off of Gutenberg and just thinking of having to physically box up and move all of it makes my back ache.

As for where ebooks are going, I actually did a part of my undergrad thesis on this. I wrote a lot about how it would making reading a social activity and connect us on a broader scale. Mind you, this was back when I was young and too stupidly optimistic to see where social media was taking us. I still think that the ability to connect is a good thing, but I’m a little more cautious about what that could lead to. I mean, sure it’s great when you can click a link right from the book to its Goodreads page to see what other people are saying about it and recommended similar works, but what if that book was The Turner Diaries?

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

Yes, it’s possible. It’s possible in reality, too. There are some people who for reasons that may or may not be in their own control are not able to function as one half of a couple. I think it’s terrible when people romanticize the idea of one person acting as his or her significant other’s sole means of emotional/financial/psychological/social support and compensate for all of their shortcomings, while receiving none of that support in return. A relationship should be a partnership and I don’t care how unromantic and boring that sounds.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Write drunk, edit sober, right? I’ve never actually written drunk, but there is a possibility that I may have hypothetically outlined a story under the influence of a substance that is not strictly legal but may be in your state (or country; looking at you, Canada). And–still hypothetically speaking, of course–I may have found that it kept my own worst critic silent for a little bit, and made my mind wander in directions it may not have if I still had those pesky boundaries and inhibitions.

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I actually wrote most of Just For Nice in a diner. Once a week it was my job to pick up my sister after she was done her shift as hostess, so I’d go early so I could get dinner. It was perfect. Nice and quiet, with minimal distractions and the knowledge that sooner or later someone would be by with my coffee and eggs Benedict. She’s no longer working there, though, so I’ll have to find somewhere new.

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I write because I daydream a lot, and sometimes it does get depressing to keep dreaming about myself and the way things could turn out for me. I write because it’s nice to invent people and their stories and have a modicum of control over the way those stories turn out. I write because I read, and sometimes I think that while the choices the author made are all right, I would have preferred to see things turn a certain way and wanted to see how that would play out. I write because there are no stories that explore the worlds I want to know, or the worlds that I do know and want to share. I write because I like to play with words and see what I can make them do. I write because I can, and because sometimes I have to before I explode.

Blurb

Nick Caratelli flees the city in an attempt to escape a broken relationship and a career he never wanted. He plans to set up a bed-and-breakfast in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country—despite the fact he has no experience in renovating the old building. Luckily his handsome neighbor Sam approaches him with a curious proposal: he’ll help with the restoration in exchange for Nick babysitting his niece.

As they work to have the bed-and-breakfast open for business by summer’s end, their lives become interwoven without them even trying. Before he knows it, Nick is recovering from his loss and taking his place in the unconventional family that seems determined to form. But for Nick and Sam to be together in all the ways they desire, they’ll have to realize all the arguments against romance exist only in their heads….

About the Author

H. M. Shepherd is a twentysomething paralegal living in Berks County, Pennsylvania, with both parents, two dogs, a baby sister who should stop growing up, and a brother who similarly failed to launch. Contrary to the Millennial stereotype, however, she does not live in the basement—a blessing considering the size of the spiders down there. She crochets as a hobby, cooks when she can, and reads as though it were her vocation. She is also an amateur genealogist and spends entirely too much time squinting at old census records and church documents. A little spacey, she once managed to forget that her car needed an oil change until it stopped running, and regularly has milk-in-the-cupboard-cereal-in-the-fridge moments. While she is an avid writer, Just for Nice is her first and so far only professional publication.

Social Media Links:

Tumblr: http://hmshepherd-blog.tumblr.com

Rob Rosen on And God Belched (guest blog)

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And God Belched by Rob Rosen

MLR Press
Cover Art: Winterheart Designs

Sales Links:  MLR Press  | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Rob Rosen here today to talk about his latest release And God Belched, out from MLR Press.  Welcome, Rob!

🌎

 

Hello Readers! If you’re looking for a laugh, for some romance with a bit of heat, for a truly unique book, then I invite you to check out my twelfth (and, dare I say, best) novel, And God Belched, published by MLR Press.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

In this riotously funny romantic adventure, Randy and his younger brother, Craig, find themselves in a different universe, on a strange planet, desperately searching for Milo, a handsome stranger in imminent danger, all while being chased by the heavily armed local authorities. And that’s just the start of this epic journey. But what else does fate have in store for our brave heroes? And can one human save two worlds, the handsome alien he’s fallen in love with, his entire family, and a self-aware watch? Read on, dear Earthlings, to find out!

Feel free to pick up a copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/God-Belched-Rob-Rosen-ebook/dp/B078GG9L4P/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

And here’s an excerpt:

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, “let there be light,” and there was light.

Um, you know, sort of.

Actually, in the beginning, God belched out a universe—a big bang of a belch, in fact. It was, so it’s told elsewhere, an odoriferous, gaseous cloud of a rumbling belch. And like all good belches, it was followed by several smaller ones, each forming their own universes, which spread out and filled that above-mentioned void.

Ours was belch number four, the very last one. God had to pound his expansive chest to get that one out. “Oomph,” He said as our existence was made manifest, as out atoms spread outward, trailing those other far greater universes, just before that famous light was flicked on.

Click.

Picture, if you will, four bubbles floating through the blackness, turning end over end as they rapidly grew and expanded, as molecules collided and elements formed: hydrogen and helium and lithium—so that many years later we could have zeppelins and balloons and long-lasting batteries, and all because God was a bit gassy one day.

Anyway, that first belch, that first universe, went to the right; we veered leftward. Those other two, well, they’re not really pertinent to this story. So, for the sake of argument, let’s just say that one went up, the other down. Ta-ta, sister worlds. Live long and, um, prosper.

A year went by, two, then fourteen billion, give or take. I, too, was made manifest: Randy—both a name, namely mine, and an apt adjective. Made, in fact, by mom and dad, belching my way into the void on a cold January morning. Yep, just like it’s said, we truly are made in His image, at least in belching ability.

In any case, on that same January morning, in a universe far, far away—sort of, though, uh, not really—another baby boy was born: Milo. Well, that’s what I called him, anyway. Or at least would, at a time when those two universes happened to decide to play bumper cars together. In any case, his real name was close to a dozen letters long, strung together with nary a vowel to be had. I tried to pronounce it once, and was instantly stricken with a sore throat.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Back to me, Randy—the name, for the time being, not the adjective. I was born in San Francisco, the city by the bay, the city by the gays. I lived high upon a hill, one of the steepest in the city, sort of like a prince in a castle. Though our home was made of steel, not brick, not wood, not even stone. The architect was hoping to design a quake-proof house, or so the legend went. And like so many legends, such was not even close to the actual case, as it turned out. Anyway, we froze in the winter and melted when the sun poked through the endless fog. In other words, our house was wisely one of a kind.

“High upon a hill lives Prince Randy, clad in his ermine cape and golden crown, scepter raised in royal salute.” The story rolled off my mom’s tongue as she fed me Gerber’s mashed peas: my favorite.

FYI, the cape was my blankie, not ermine so much as polyester. The crown was a yellow bowl bought at Safeway. I still own said crown. Now I use it for cereal, as opposed to headwear. The scepter was my rattle. It was bequeathed to my younger brother a couple of years later. These days, I lift my cell phone in royal salute.

All the best and enjoy!

Rob Rosen

www.therobrosen.com

Author of the award-winning novels Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love, Divas Las Vegas, Hot Lava, Southern Fried, Queerwolf, Vamp, Queens of the Apocalypse, Creature Comfort, Fate, Midlife Crisis, and Fierce, and editor of the anthologies Lust in Time, Men of the Manor, Best Gay Erotica 2015, and Best Gay Erotica of the Year, Volumes 1 and 2 and 3.

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.

 

Cover Reveal and Giveaway for Out Of The Ocean by Lynn Michaels

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Release Date: March 15 2018
 
 
Length: 26,500 words approx.
 
Blurb

 

Cal Bigsby spent his life working the fishing boats and ignoring who he really is and what he needs to be happy.

Prescott ‘Scott’ Vandenburton is being primed to take over Daddy’s company, but he craves a life of his own. His only escape is sailing his yacht.

When a freak storm hits, both are forced to think about life from a whole new perspective

Author Bio

Lynn Michaels lives and writes in Tampa, Florida where the sun is hot and the Sangria is cold. Lynn is the newest addition to Rubicon Fiction, and she loves reading and writing about hot m



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