A Caryn Review: The Artist’s Touch (Art Medium) by E.J. Russell

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Do you like ghost stories?  Do you like creepy ghost stories?  I have to say I didn’t think I did, but this book (and maybe the others to follow in the series) changed my mind.  The review, though, was kind of hard to write without giving significant spoilers, and although as you read you can guess what’s going to happen on the next page, I couldn’t predict the outcome from the beginning.  You can read this book in one evening, so just sit back and enjoy….

Luke Morganstern is an art fraud investigator who had been at the top of his field until one big mistake, and he’s been struggling ever since.  He can’t afford to turn down a job anyway, but when a mysterious client contacts him about a possible forgery, he can’t resist when he finds out the artist being imitated.

Jeremiah Arcoletti.  He was a rising star of the American realism movement, until he disappeared without a trace, taking with him his last 13 paintings.  Paintings that he meticulously described in letters to friends, but were never seen.  Paintings that Luke has been able to picture in his mind after studying Arcoletti for so long.  Paintings that were inexplicably starting to turn up in a remote gallery in Oregon.

Stefan Cobbe is an artist with a very promising start to his career, until a tragedy destroyed his paintings and left him with literally only the clothes on his back.  Worse, he found he was completely unable to produce any art at all.  Homeless and destitute, he was taken in by a man who provided him with room, board, art supplies, and a studio.  And Stefan produced finished canvases, miraculously complete in hours – hours that Stefan had no memory of.

Luke and Stefan have a complicated history together, with guilt and blame on both sides that led to their separation years ago.  Stefan is now the most likely suspect for the forgery, and Luke has to decide what exactly he is going to do about that, especially when Stefan claims innocence.

The pace of the story was constant and the tension just kept building and building, with a few surprise twists, and I couldn’t put the book down until I finished (fortunately it’s not too long!).  Well written, great plot, outstanding characterization with significant growth of both MCs and excellent secondary characters, and throughout a perpetual sense of foreboding.  There are definitely some dark places in this book, and seeing Luke and Stefan struggle to escape those places – some of which were in their own minds – was exciting, and a little scary.

Highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to the next in the series!

Cover art by L.C. Chase is fine, though I’m not quite sure which character the model is supposed to represent…

Sales Link:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon (link to follow0

Book Details:

ebook, 2, 130 pages
Expected publication: February 12th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 23rd 2013)
ISBN139781626497580
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Art Medium

Release Blitz Tour – Selina Kray’s In Wild Lemon Groves (excerpt and giveaway)

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Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Blurb
 

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.

Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.

Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.

Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?


Excerpt
 

Scent of sea and palm,

Craggy and ancient, a world

Bathed in saffron

– #17, In Blue Solitudes, S. Wilson-Osaki

“A. S’okay.” Bleary eyed and bone weary, Sébastien stared at the sign for two minutes before it registered. He kept his distance, glanced around the bushel of sun-ripened cab drivers and chauffeurs waiting to squeeze every last euro out of their charges, but no.

This was him. Smile so bright it blinded, like glare off a windshield. Footballer’s frame decked in team colors and too-tight shorts. Face Bernini could have sculpted. Hair black as an oil slick, greased into a neat, perfect slope. His tortoiseshell eyes twinkled in Seb’s direction when he took a cautious step forward.

Signor S’okay?”

“Osaki. Yes.”

“Ah, Osokay.”

“Osaki. O-sak-i. Japanese.”

“You fly from Japan?”

“No. Canada. Montreal.”

Si, si, Signor Osaki. Sebastiano.”

Seb opened his mouth to correct him but nodded instead. “That’s me.”

“Andrea Sorrentino.” He thumped a hand on his chest. “You want I take your bag?”

“Uh…”

Before he could decide, the driver clacked down the handle on his extra-fee-heavy suitcase and hefted it under his arm like an unruly toddler. “Vieni, vieni.” He dove into the crowd before Seb could get his bearings.

Spotting the clean line to the exit, Seb set his own pace, his tipsy head still mired in a post-flight fugue. Thirty-two sleepless hours, plus a morning spent tracing and retracing his path through the labyrinthine halls of the Rome airport to make his connection, left him listless. With exhaustion but also nerves. What had he been thinking, shipping off to a country he’d never been to and where he didn’t speak the language?

The answer, of course, was Henry. Who should have been there, propping him up with his rock climber’s arms, but also with his wonderment, the kid-in-a-candy store way he’d seen the world. Henry had puffed all his energy and excitement and fire into Seb’s lead balloon and—in his latest impossible feat—made him fly.

Clutching his backpack like a life preserver, Seb practiced his deep breathing as he waded through the stream of travellers. More of a trickle, really, now that he was in the flow. One foot in front of the other, he reminded himself, looking for a focal point. A taut jean-clad ass, with a carefree swagger all its own, lured him the rest of the way. Seb staggered out of the airport terminal…

… into a whole new world. The hazy afternoon sun swaddled him like a warm blanket. Ripe with the scent of palm trees and petrol, the parking lot was more social gathering than frantic hub, with drivers chatting, smoking, and laughing as they waited for clueless travellers to wander by. Stoic mountains—silent sentries at the gate to paradise—shadowed the horizon, rings of mist crowning their crater heads.

Woozy with relief, Seb lowered his lids to half-mast and basked in the moment. This was Henry’s world. He was safe.

A hulking black SUV screeched to a halt in front of him, blocking the view. Before Seb could decide whether to be terrified or outraged, his driver slid open the side door, beckoning him into his luxury air-conditioned chariot. Too polite to give in to the urge to collapse across the seats and zonk out, Seb stumbled into the nearest chair. His hands shook as he fought with the seat belt. Something about that fateful click brought the reality back home—he was trapped in a jet-fuelled coffin with a man who could barely pronounce his name, soon to be zipping down a highway where speed limits weren’t even guidelines, thousands of miles from home, by a world-famous volcano that once scorched everything for miles—

Hand on his knee. There was a hand on his knee.

Signor Osakay? You want I get you espresso? Water? Food? Is no trouble.”

“No.” Seb shut his eyes, sucked in all the air he could. “I… I’m just tired. Didn’t sleep on the plane.” When he opened them again, he met soft eyes shimmering with kindness. His exhalation came easy. So did his smile. What was his name again? Andrea Sorrentino. A gentle name, full of music.

Granita al limone. Un momento.” A squeeze to Seb’s knee, and he hopped out the door.

Author Bio

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.

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A MelanieM Audiobook Review: ​Lost and Found by Rick R. Reed and Narrator: Michael Neeb

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park.

On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle.

Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem—who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be—but that’s just what Flynn experienced.

A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it—and along the way, they just might fall in love.

Rick R. Reed loves dogs, being happily owned by one himself.  And it shines through every story of his that has a canine element to it.  It’s especially clear in Lost and Found where a beagle, named Barley or Hamburger depending upon the person,  provides the bridge to romance, love, and HEA.

Here one Barley gets lost by one Flynn, found by Mac he turns into Hamburger.  One beagle beloved by two men.  But when Flynn happens upon  his beloved beagle in the  company of Mac, all the lost,, the  pain and guilt involved in not being able to find his Bailey comes rushing back.  And of course, Mac doesn’t want to lose his “Hamburger”.

Reed does a wonderful job of portraying the angst and battle involved when it comes down to our feelings for our animals.  They are an important part of us and recognizing that fact helps us understand Mac’s actions better.  We can at least empathize a little even as we recognize that he took the wrong path and then couldn’t stop.

I appreciated the slow approach to romance between the two main characters but wish that Reed had given us more insight into Flynn or at least as much as he did with Mac.  It would have helped make Flynn’s ease in decision making towards the end more grounded and realistic.  I wanted to know more about his job and how he felt about it and his friends.  Instead we are heavy on Mac’s side of the story and it sort of feels off kilter at the end.

Narrator Michael Neeb does an incredible job with the voices and the story.  I fell effortlessly into Lost and Found, pulled into the characters that Neeb’s voice created for me along with Reed’s heartwarming, sweet tale of  two men, one happy beagle and their HEA.

Cover art: Reese Dante.  I love this cover.  It’s just perfect for the characters, and storyline.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible |iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 4 hours and 52 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Audible.com Release Date: December 28, 2017
Language: English
ASIN: B078MQ29SR

An Alisa Review: Camp Lake Omega by Penelope Peters

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Jim Smith isn’t your average omega.

 

My first alpha died after we’d been bonded for a week – since then, I’ve been living a quiet life sequestered in my parents’ house. Now I’ve got one last summer of freedom working as a camp counselor at Camp Lake Omega before they force me to settle down and find a mate. I’m going to wring every drop of fun from this summer that I can, no matter how bad of an idea he – I mean, it is!

 

Zachary Ito isn’t your average alpha.

 

I watched my father screw up one relationship after another. No way am I going to let myself fall under the influence of omega pheromones like he did. I’ve devoted my life to running Camp Alpha-by-the-Lake, hoping to teach young alphas how to respect and protect omegas instead of seeking to control and overpower them. There’s no room for fun in my life, no matter how intriguing he – I mean, it is!

 

But one chance encounter at the beginning of the summer…

 

…And neither Zachary nor Jim can get the other out of their heads – or out of their beds! When Jim’s biology puts not only himself but another counselor in danger – will Zachary be there to help him to safety?

 

I am a sucker for Alpha/Omega stories of all different genres and I really enjoyed this one.  Jim has pretty much been left in limbo because his first alpha dies and not one really knows what to do with him.  Zachary is determined to not get attached to any omega because he doesn’t want to feel like a slave to his hormones.

 

I love that Zachary becomes attracted to Jim before he realizes he is an omega due to some strange omega scent stuff but that he is still willing to see Jim when he finds out if quite telling as to how he is feeling.  When Jim goes into heat Zachary has to decide what it is he really wants to be happy.  We see both of these characters’ points of view which gives great insights to their thoughts and feelings.  I got frustrated with Zachary when he makes assumptions and hurts Jim and even worse sends him running to hide.  I loved seeing that they were able to build a solid relationship that lasts years later with their adorable family.

 

The cover art by Amourisa Designs gives nice visuals of Jim and Zach.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages

Publication: July 18, 2017

Edition Language: English

CJane Elliott on Writing, HEA, and her latest release, The Wild and Precious Collection (author interview)

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The Wild and Precious Collection by CJane Elliott
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art by Angsty G

Publication Date: February 2, 2018

Buy links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host CJane Elliott here today on tour with her  Wild and Precious Collection!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with CJane Elliott

  • How much of yourself goes into a character? 

It varies. I’d say my New Adult novels had a lot of me in some of the characters. They’re set at the university I attended and I used some of my experiences – parents getting divorced, being hit on by a professor, as well as the general tone of that particular university (hard-partying, traditional) – to inform the plots.

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

I always liked contemporary stories, which is probably why I’ve never strayed far from contemporary as a genre.

  • 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 found it hard to write certain stories, such as Aidan’s Journey which deals with abuse and depression. It took a long time to write, continues to be the longest of my books, and I was never happier to get to the happy ending.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer HEA to HFN. That’s what romance is all about! After I put my characters through hell or at least profound stupidity about what’s keeping them from love, I want them to be able to savor their hard-won happy ending!

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

My publisher (Dreamspinner Press) has an Art Department. When the book is contracted, they send me a questionnaire about the story, the characters, and cover style preferences. Once the artist has come up with a first draft cover, we go back and forth until I’m happy with it.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

Wild and Precious, the first novella in the Wild and Precious Collection, has always been one of my favorite stories. I love the characters, the Washington, D.C. area setting, the changing of the seasons, the way the MC Brent has to go after what he really wants. I absolutely have a huge crush on Graham, Brent’s glamorous but kind-hearted boss. And I love Cody so much he got to be in all three of the Wild and Precious novellas.

THE WILD AND PRECIOUS COLLECTION

A Wild and Precious Anthology

If you knew you had one wild and precious life, would you jump in and live it fully?

This band of lively characters isn’t afraid to take a chance on themselves or their dreams. Creativity runs through their veins—they’re writers, poets, singers, guitarists, and even beautiful drag queens. Some are young and just beginning to find themselves. Others have lived through tragedies. Each one discovers that living a wild and precious life means opening up to love and taking a risk to find their happy ending.

Wild and Precious Series – read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words reviews~ links to the titles.  We highly recommend the series!

Wild and Precious

There You Are

Sand-Man’s Family

About the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.

E-mail: cjaneelliott@gmail.com

Website: http://www.cjaneelliott.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJaneElliott

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cjane.elliott

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/CJane-Elliott/e/B00LPIJDM2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/cjane-elliott-124