A MelanieM Review: Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Hangover from Hell is exactly what greets rock star Callum Carter upon being rudely awoken by his partner, artist Daniel Flynn on the last morning of their ‘On the Road’ trip along Route 66.

They have been together for five years, after meeting when the infamous ‘enfant terrible’ was commissioned to paint Callum’s portrait.

Theirs is a story of lust, laughter and all-consuming love, although this remains a closely kept secret; until the morning they wake up in Las Vegas. Married.

Dan has no memory of this miracle taking place–only one thing seems certain–he has somehow managed to pull off a masterpiece on the mischief front, and inveigled Cal down the aisle..

I enjoyed Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke.  Bad boy rockers, quixotic artist lovers, oodles of miscommunication, and a wonderful premise.  They woke up married in Vegas after being together on the down low for 5 years.  That’s sort of irresistible. I had to know how this ‘unknown to me’ author was going to handle it.

Turns out, after a little disjointed beginning, really well.  We jump right into the morning after and everyone is just waking up from what had to have been a wild and wooly night of sex, drugs and rock n roll.  Then our boys get a look see at the new rings flashing on their hands and tiny spurts of memory of Elvis and a chapel start to come back.  Yes, it’s very funny.

The jumpy, disjointedness comes in recounting who exactly these men are and their history with one another. That part of the narrative could have a more fluid feel to it. That comes in small flashbacks scattered throughout the story while the men are dealing with the ramifications of their marriage in Vegas (that’s turned into a media frenzy).  The whole story actually occurs just over the course of a couple of days.

I thought the author did a great job with the characterizations and the dialog.  Each is easily distinguishable and I loved each man’s personality. Daniel Flynn is a  particular favorite of mine and I could clearly see him as the artist he was written to be.  The same goes for Callum the rocker and they both had genuine chemistry between them.

This is the first in the Hangover series so I’m interested in where the author will take it. That means I’m definitely in line when the next story releases.  In the meantime, I’m recommending Hangover from Hell (Hangover #1) by Zakarrie Clarke to all lovers of contemporary romance and bad boys in love.

Cover art is simple but nice.  I liked it.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1 edition, 276 pages
Published March 9th 2018 by MLR Press (first published March 8th 2018)
Original Title Hangover from Hell
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Hangover #1

A Lucy Audiobook Review: The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed by Felicitas Ivey and Simon Ferrar (Narrator)

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Rated 3 stars out of 5

Fathi is uber-rich, running the family business to the point where that is all he has – working.  His grandfather doesn’t like that and when it turns out that Fathi has been betrothed since childhood to a woman from their region, what is he to do? He’s never come out to grandfather and he doesn’t want to lose his place in the company.   Fathi went to college in New York and he worked out that he is gay but since Grandfather is an old school man from the Middle East, that wouldn’t be accepted.  So he is quiet about it and look where it gets him.  He ends up engaged to Ikraam, the victim of an abusive older system, who isn’t all he seems. The two of them are so confused when they are attracted to each other and the secrets are kept.  You know that something has to give and eventually it does. 

Let’s talk about Ikraam’s sister.  Talk about devil spawn.  She is completely evil. Not only did she try to marry off her niece to a rapist, but I wanted to much more to happen to her for the atrocities she committed to her brother.  It was difficult at time to read the abuse Ikraam was put through by that evil witch.  I was so glad that Fathi turned out to be a caring, responsible person.  Even though he knew he wouldn’t be a true husband to his “wife”, he still wanted to take care of her and make her life a good one.   

I did wonder how the fact that Ikraam has been raised and treated as a female (and a second class one at that) for all his life would be addressed but it really wasn’t.  It was accepted and he would be she outside the home, he inside.  In the culture this story is set that made me question the wisdom because if society there wouldn’t accept gay, are they going to accept this?

I can say something that brought down the rating for me was the treatment of Fathi’s secretary, an educated woman who worked hard, was very professional and did nothing wrong (other than fall in love with her boss)  but who really was shamed by both Fathi and Ikraam by the end.  Made me sad and made them less sympathetic.   There aren’t any decent women portrayed here and to shame this poor woman just for being modern and trying to be something besides an ornament or abused was appalling.

The audiobook runs just over five hours and is narrated by Simon Ferrar.  I felt he did a great job with differentiating voices and accents.  I do think had I read this, as opposed to listening to it, my rating would have been lower.  He brought life to the story and even the things that I had issues with.

The cover, by Bree Archer, shows the elegant Fathi against a desert background and fits my idea of what Fathi looked like.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon | Audible| iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio
Published March 14th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07BFHB19B
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Jeri Review : Hug It Out (Haven Hart Universe #2) by Davidson King

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This book really surprised me. In a good way. I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I did for a couple of reasons. The first was total bias- a new author. She wrote one book before this that I didn’t read because new author. I’ll get to the second.

Teddy is a professional companion and hugger. Yes, you read that right- a hugger. Sounds cheesy, but the more I read into his meanings for starting his business, it totally made sense. And it could have been so cheesy- but it wasn’t. He wasn’t this overly optimistic happy guy. He was just a regular guy with an odd profession.

Riordan can safely be called a vehement non-hugger. In fact, unbeknownst to his family, he is a professional assassin. But after a job goes wrong, he takes a hiatus from the job. But he is holed up in his house, no friends, withdrawing more and more. So his sister hires Teddy to move in and help Riordan for a month.

We should not late Riordan. He is mean and nasty. He kills people for a living. He takes a gruesome souvenir from each of his kills.This is the second reason I didn’t expect to like it. I mean, GRUESOME. And yet…you kind of feel badly for him.

There is absolutely no reason that Teddy and Riordan should work. Total opposites. Warm and fuzzy versus cold and hard. But, they do. Color me shocked.

The plot line was interesting, the sex and relationship were hot and I didn’t figure out who the Big Bad (Buffy reference) was until it was almost revealed.

So I know that this author is a huge MM fan. And to bastardize a Quentin Tarantino quote “she didn’t go to book school, she read books”.

And yes, I am definitely going back to read book 1 and I look forward to book 3.

Cover art while dark seems perfect for the story.

Sales Links:

AMAZON US: https://amzn.to/2GqNjbC

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2GKqrHh

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published March 2018
Original TitleHug It Out
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHaven Hart Universe #2

An Alisa Audiobook Review: The Supers (The Supers #1) by Sean Michael and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)

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Rating:  2.5 stars out of 5

Hunting ghosts and finding more than they bargained for.

Blaine Franks is a member of the paranormal research group the Supernatural Explorers. When the group loses their techie to a cross-country move, newly graduated Flynn Huntington gets the job. Flynn fits in with the guys right off the bat, but when it comes to him and Blaine, it’s more than just getting along.

Things heat up between Blaine and Flynn as they explore their first haunted building, an abandoned hospital, together. Their relationship isn’t all that progresses, though, and soon it seems that an odd bite on Blaine’s neck has become much more.

Hitchhiking ghosts, a tragic love story forgotten by time, and the mystery of room 204 round out a romance where the things that go bump in the night are real.

Okay, I liked this story for the most part but there were a lot of little things that didn’t work for me.  I guess from the blurb I thought these guys were established in the supernatural world much more than their little group seems to be considering they need to have day jobs to support themselves.  The ghost hunting mystery was the main focus of the story which I enjoyed but there wasn’t any connection to the characters.  I felt like I was just along for the ride and not invested in the turn out of the story and we were told a lot about how they felt for each other but not really shown.  I don’t usually have a problem with insta-love but in the context of this book and with these characters it didn’t work for me either.  There were a lot of interesting characters and I plan to continue this series to see how their TV series goes I just hope I’ll be a little more into those stories.

Kenneth Obi didn’t do a bad job narrating this story, but it didn’t work for me.  Many of the voices he uses for the characters sounded like they were high or were grating on my nerves.  I think the combination of the writing style and audio didn’t make this book as enjoyable as it would have been it I had read the book myself.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is great and I love the visual of Flynn.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6hrs 18min
Published March 2, 2018 (ebook first published October 15, 2017) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: The Supers #1, Dreamspun Beyond

Xenia Melzer on Writing, Romance, and her new release A Dom and His Artist (Club Whisper #2) (author guest blog)

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A Dom and His Artist (Club Whisper #2) by Xenia Melzer
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Xenia Melzer here today answering questions and talking about her new release A Dom and His Artist.  Welcome, Xenia.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Xenia Melzer

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

Yes, I do have a favorite and even though I’m supposed to be promoting my new book here, the favorite is Ummana, the third in the Gods of War series. For the series, that book is a turning point plot-wise, and for me it’s important, because one of my favorite characters, Sic, finally reaches calmer waters after a tumultuous journey.

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?

Actually, I had that problem with the previous book in the Club Whisper series, A Dom and His Writer. Some people complained that the way Richard behaved toward Dean after they got Emily made him a jerk, and that they couldn’t understand how anybody could act that way, and how Dean could forgive him. The problem was that I used some incidents I had experienced as a new mom to show how a baby could overthrow one’s life completely and how difficult it is to deal with all the change. So in a sense, Richard’s character – and by extension the whole situation – were too real. Though I do want to mention that other readers found this realism one of the strongest points of the book – because they could relate to the situation. The problem here (if you want to call it a problem) is, that different readers have different definitions of ‘too real’ or ‘not real enough’. I think it depends on what one expects. Personally, I, as a mother, always feel a bit mocked if having a baby is depicted as pure bliss and a walk in the park, because I know better. (Boy, do I know better…). I also can understand if other parents or people who plan to become parents, want a bit more romanticism in their stories about babies.

  • Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?   

This question relates to the previous one. Many readers hated Richard, because he reacted so negatively to baby Emily in his life. I made him act the way he did because I knew – and had experienced – that this is a perfectly normal reaction with some people. It doesn’t say anything about their character, more about their ability to adapt to change. I know a lot of people, mostly women, who have decided to not have children because they simply don’t like them. This is still not a very popular opinion for a woman to have, but it’s valid. Not everybody likes children and that’s okay. And sometimes people come around and realize having children isn’t as bad as they feared, or they don’t. For the sake of the story, Richard did come around, but the fears he had in the beginning mirror what many people think about children. Which relates back to the ‘too real’ part of the first question. I surely didn’t want to make a statement or tut the horn of how wonderful children are. That’s a very personal decision for everybody to make on their own. I just wanted to show a realistic situation, with realistic fears that are overcome by romance.

  • Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Funny you should mention that. When I still was a teacher, my pupils asked a lot of questions about how I write my books and how I come up with plotlines and characters. One day, they were really getting on my nerves, not concentrating at all, and I looked at them and told them I had just come up with a whole battle scene in my head, thanks to them. (They were all fifteen or older at that point and found my comment hilarious.) Of course they wanted to know who I killed how and believe it or not, that discussion turned into a very productive lesson about using writing as an outlet. They all came up with scenes of their own and we guessed what real-life situation they were referring to.

So, yes, I sometimes do work issues in RL out in my books. Sometimes I let my characters act exactly like I acted, sometimes I let them react differently, in a way I wish I had reacted. Writing never happens in a vacuum. Even if we aren’t aware, our daily lives do interfere a lot with our plots and characters.

  • 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’m a firm believer in Escapism. I do my best writing when I’m stressed because of things happening in my personal world. Writing helps me to establish a distance and look at things from a new perspective, even if what I’m writing about isn’t directly related to my real life problems. It also helps me to work through my own issues. Sometimes things get clearer once I wrote them down and let’s be honest, with the way the world is at the moment, it’s nice to escape once in a while.

As for the knowledge part… there’s a lot to be known about BDSM and my research for the sake of the Club Whisper series still leaves me blushing in front of the screen more often than not. But I will continue to sacrifice my innocence to bring my readers realistic, yet romantic stories about the wonderful world of kink 😉

Blurb

Sometimes the perfect man can be found in the most unexpected place….

 

Martin Carmichael owns a security firm and is part owner of Club Whisper. He’s a Dom in search of the right guy, and when his car breaks down on a lonely stretch of road, he thinks he might have found him.

 

Artist Collin Malloy is talented, easygoing, but somewhat insecure. Still, he has a big heart and is quick to offer help when he sees Martin in need. To thank him, Martin invites Collin to dinner, where the attraction between them becomes harder to resist.

 

But what will become of their budding relationship when Martin reveals that he likes his men bound, submissive, and in pain? Is it something Collin can accept… and possibly enjoy exploring? Even if he can, Collin has a secret of his own—a secret he doesn’t even realize he’s keeping.

About the Author

Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she’s not writing stories. She doesn’t like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn’t discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.

Visit me at www.xeniamelzer.com or contact me at info@xeniamelzer.com

Or befriend and follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xeniamelzer/

  

Alex Whitehall on Family, and the new fantasy release Magic Runs Deep (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

Riptide Publishing

Cover Art:
Sales Links:

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alex Whitehall today on tour for Magic Runs Deep, one of our happily recommended stories. Welcome, Alex.

✒︎

 

Hello, everybody! I’m Alex Whitehall, and I’m here today touring for my fantasy novel Magic Runs Deep, which is about one man’s search to find himself—and true freedom—after a long imprisonment, and the path to trust that he follows along the way.

Family is an important part of every life—no matter what form it takes—and a lot can be gleaned from looking at family structure. In Magic Runs Deep, we see the family interactions of two very different characters, from the brother to the king to a man who comes from a large family that is strongly tied together. The Elrid, king’s brother, only has one immediately family member left, and the bond between the brothers is strong, but it also has molded Elrid into a man who is self-reliant, and who, although he loves his brother, struggles to truly understand the extent that Veier, who comes from a close-knit community with an extended family, relies on and misses his family over the course of the book.

Over the course of the book, we see Elrid and his brother interact, and the playful banter makes it obvious they care for each other—even if they get frustrated with each other as all siblings do—but both men seem to stand alone, isolated from one another. Some of this is, of course, due to the role they play on the page and what Veier can see happening, but most of it is the culture and world they were raised in.

Meanwhile, Veier comes from a large family, who he thinks of often. He mentions being raised by his uncles and mother, recalls his siblings fondly, and while his father was often absent because of duty, there was always plenty of love to go around, leaving Veier fulfilled. Elrid speaks rarely of his family, since it’s not central to his life, while Veier thinks about his family constantly, and not just because it reminds him of home.

To learn more about Veier’s family and to see if he gets to return home, you’ll have to check out Magic Runs Deep. Meanwhile, what does family mean to you?

 

About Magic Runs Deep

 

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

 

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.

 

However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

 

About Alex Whitehall

 

If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious evenings laughing with friends.

 

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerge from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, reading, and tending after their aloe plants.

 

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Magic Runs Deep, Alex is giving away an ecopy of Second Skin! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 14, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

New Release Blitz for Big Man by Matthew J. Metzger (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Big Man

Author: Matthew J. Metzger

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 9, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 58100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, YA, coming-of-age, bisexual, trans, high school, sports/martial arts, depression/grieving, #ownvoices

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Max Farrier wanted to follow in the family footsteps and join the Navy once, but he’s better off focusing on just surviving his last year of school and going to work in Aunt Donna’s shop once it’s over.

After an incident at school puts Max in the hospital, Aunt Donna’s had enough. She signs him up for private lessons at a Muay Thai gym. Boxing—she says—will change everything.

But it’s not boxing that starts to poke holes in Max’s stupor—it’s his sparring partner. Cian is fifty percent mouth, fifty percent attitude, and isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with a bully in the street. Cian takes what he wants, and doesn’t let anyone stand in his way—not even himself.

Excerpt

Big Man
Matthew J. Metzger © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
This was how everything started—on a Friday afternoon, at the very end of school, three days into the summer term and in the middle of an unreasonable, unseasonable heatwave. It had been a Friday like any other until Tom Fallowfield stuck his boot in.

Literally.

It went a bit like this, to Max’s admittedly patchy memory of the entire incident.

At three thirty-one, the bell rang, and he was dismissed out of his maths class. Friday was a notorious day for people being bored and at a loose end, so Max had (as was his habit) hurried off to his locker to try to get out of school before anyone caught up to him.

At three thirty-six, Max reached his locker. His fingers fumbled with the lock in a hurry, the metal loose in his grip because it was so ridiculously hot. Sweat was dampening the hair at his temples.

At three thirty-eight, his fingers slipped on the waxy cover of his geography textbook and sent the whole pile tumbling to the floor.

And at three thirty-eight and a half, a dirty Adidas trainer pressed down on said textbook just as Max reached for it.

That was kind of when Max knew he was a bit fucked.

“All right, Fatso?”

He didn’t have to look up. The trainer narrowed it down to one of two people who would stomp on the textbook he was trying to pick up, and the deep, drawling voice—like some villain out of a film—narrowed it down to one. Jazz Coles. And Jazz Coles was bad news.

Max swallowed convulsively and gathered the rest of his things to his chest protectively. He staggered back to his feet and turned to shove them all back in his locker. His hands were shaking. There was sweat breaking out on the backs of his thighs and under his arms, pooling in the joints and fleshy bits.

“Oi. You gone deaf, Fatso? All that grease clogged your ears?”

“M’just in a hurry, Jazz,” he mumbled.

“You what?”

“I said I’m just in a hurry,” he said a bit louder and squashed his other books into the locker haphazardly. The corridor was slowly emptying, and the emptier it got, the faster his heart was beating.

“You’re fucking rude, you are. You ought to look at someone when he’s talking to you. You want Tom to teach you some manners? Tom’s good with manners.”

“Sorry,” Max mumbled, turning hastily before the threat could be carried out. The metal of his locker bit uncomfortably into his back, pressing grooves into his skin, and he could feel his shirt beginning to stick to him. “I’m in a rush, that’s all.”

All three of them were there. Jazz Coles, Aidan Hooper, and Tom Fallowfield. Fallowfield was in Max’s year, the other two the year above. They went to some football club or something together—Max wasn’t sure. All he knew was that Jazz was the clever one, with the orders and the insults, while Aidan was the sidekick who screeched like a hyena and kept them supplied in fags and weed on a regular basis from his older brother’s grow. And Tom…

Tom was the dangerous one. When the insults stopped, Tom started. And nobody wanted Tom to start anything.

“Not got time to talk to us, then?” Jazz drawled. “Why’s that? You busy?”

“I—yes. Yes, just busy, that’s all, busy weekend…”

“Busy doing what? Got a new girlfriend?”

Tom snorted. Aidan cackled and said, “Eurgh, Jazz, man, I’ll bring up my lunch.”

“Imagine that sweaty sack of lard slithering and grunting on some poor girl. You’d crush her, wouldn’t you, Farrier?”

Max’s face heated up, and his hair stuck to his scalp. He could faintly smell his own underarms, and the metal gluing shirt to back was beginning to heat up too, at Jazz’s cool, slow delivery.

“Fatso Farrier, the flat-fucker. ’Cause that’s what she’d be once you were done. Best stick to boys, yeah? Let your boyfriend fuck you, then nobody’ll suffocate.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend.”

“Would you like one?”

“I—no, I, uh—”

“Just as well,” Jazz continued blithely. “Nobody has a drowning-in-folds fetish. So if it’s not a girlfriend or a boyfriend with some sick kinks, why’re you too busy to talk to us?”

The corridor was empty. Max started to panic.

“Answer me, Farrier!”

“I—just—plans, you know, plans…”

“What plans? Sale on at Greggs?” Jazz asked. “New bakery opened up? Or is Mummy taking pity on her lonely little wobblebottom, and baked you a chocolate cake?”

Aidan gave a whooping cackle, and Jazz kicked the forgotten geography book towards Max. It skittered across the dusty floor, hitting Max’s shoe with a dull thump.

“Best not leave that here,” Jazz said. Hands in his pockets, pale face regarding him through narrowed blue eyes, he looked calculating—and Max couldn’t figure out what he was calculating. “Oi! Fatso! Pick it up, then.”

“Thank you,” Max mumbled, hoping it would buy him a bit of a reprieve from…whatever Jazz was planning, and stooped to pick it up. His fingers scrabbled uselessly on the plastic cover, wet with anxiety.

“Thank you?” Jazz echoed. “Very polite, Fatso. Might want to make it sound fucking sincere next time.”

“Here, Jazz, fancy a game?”

That deep rumble was the only warning Max got before Tom’s boot—because of course Tom, totally mad, sadistic Tom Fallowfield, wore boots to school on a regular basis—connected with the side of his head.

Hard.

Max would have liked to say that pain exploded in his head, that he saw visions of God or heard the heavenly choir, that it was like dropping into a Tim Burton movie.

Actually, he just heard a massive bang.

And then he woke up in the back of an ambulance and knew he was in deep shit.

That was how it started.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Matthew J. Metzger is an ace, trans author posing as a functional human being in the wilds of Yorkshire, England. Although mainly a writer of contemporary, working-class romance, he also strays into fantasy when the mood strikes. Whatever the genre, the focus is inevitably on queer characters and their relationships, be they familial, platonic, sexual, or romantic.

When not crunching numbers at his day job, or writing books by night, Matthew can be found tweeting from the gym, being used as a pillow by his cat, or trying to keep his website in some semblance of order.

Website | Twitter

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