A MelanieM Review: Big Man by Matthew J. Metzger

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

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.

Big Man is my first novel by Matthew J. Metzger that I can find.  It will definitely not be my last.  Big Man is an incredibly moving, deeply impactful story.  It recounts one young man’s journey from a state of intense poor self esteem, wanting to hide within the walls of his home due to bullying and his body hatred, to one of happiness, pride, and ability to move forward in life.

It is not always an easy story, especially since the voice is Max’s and as we meet him he’s a beleaguered young man under attack at school.  The bullies there are relentless, having just put him into the hospital again.  The reader gets the raw account of this very attack right down to the moment he blacks out from Max’s perspective and it so painful.  Trust me when I say parts of this book are very difficult to read as it must be for those who are actually bullied.  You can actually feel Max’s fear when those three boys approach him.  It’s visceral in its ability to churn your stomach and his.

You see Max is a big, gentle man. Read that to be obese as well as large period.  He’s called Fatso Farrier at school by the bullies and that name has become ingrained in his mind and soul to the point he can’t move past it.  There are other major transitions as well in his life.  His beloved grandfather, who stood in for his dad who died with he was a toddler, has passed.  They recently moved into his ‘Aunt Donna’s’ house. His mother is happily remarrying… his ‘Aunt Donna’ (not that he has a problem with that, he doesn’t), and he needs to decide his future if he is going back to school for 2 more years.  So much on Max at the moment that he’s caught in stasis.

I’m debating saying more here because later in the story so much becomes clear to Max and to the reader at an important juncture.  If you are familiar with people fighting with  poor body image and/or issues with weight, some may be aware of some of the emotional factors that go along with them.  Here those factors are gently clued in, one by one until finally we get the entire package that is Max Farrier, past, present and, yes, future.

I will say that the author seems familiar with these issues and treats Max with sensitivity and compassion while sort of coming at it sideways.  By that I mean, Max (and the reader) isn’t seeing the whole picture right up until the end.  We are Max.  We don’t notice things changing until others tell us.  It’s a format that works here beautifully.

One of the ‘people’ telling Max things?  His boyfriend Cian.  I have no intention of spoiling that wonderful aspect of this story. I’ll just say that character and storyline is an absolute joy. In fact, one of the things about this story is families. What makes a family, finding and creating families.  And the love that  binds them together.  This story is full of that.  Max survives because of that, and lives to become the person he was always meant to be. Someone magnificent.  A Big Man.  Don’t miss out on this story.  It’s heartbreakingly wonderful in all the best ways.

Yes, it’s one I highly recommend.

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  The  ocean is an important element for Max and the story but I wish somehow the cover was different to reflect how amazing this novel was.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published April 9th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608381
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Review:Asylum (Pride and Joy #2) by Robert Winter

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I’m a huge fan of Robert Winter, and I adore the universe he’s created with the Pride and Joy and Nights at Mata Hari series.  Although this book is a standalone, there are a few spoilers for September, the first in the Pride and Joy series that introduced the MC of this book, Colin.  Brandon and David do show up briefly in Asylum, and I was happy to hear a little more about them.

I was very impressed with the research that went into the writing of this book, and the lengths that the author and publisher went to in order to create a book as culturally sensitive accurate as this one.  In today’s climate of increasing xenophobia, when it seems that all illegal immigrants are demonized, this was a story that needed to be told: one man’s escape from true persecution in Central America and his hopes for a safe and peaceful life here.  It was also encouraging to read about the efforts other American citizens are making to ensure that asylum is available to people who need it.  I don’t know if the author was trying to make a political statement, but I hope that this book will be an eye-opener for readers who are not aware of these stories.

The book is written from alternate points of view of both main characters.  Colin comes from wealth and privilege, though he tries to avoid showy displays of it and truly doesn’t feel that he is superior to any other man just because of that accident of birth.  He’s an idealist who wants to make a difference in the world, and has chosen to do so by working with a non-profit that helps illegal immigrants.  Hernan is an illegal – he has been specifically targeted by a gang in El Salvador because he has witnessed a murder and because there are suspicions that he is gay.  He made the harrowing journey to the US (the trip is recounted in all of its horrifying details later in the book) with the help of friends and family, and though he is managing to keep his head above water, he lives in constant fear of being discovered by both the gang, which has members all over Central and North America, and ICE.

Hernan rescued Colin from drowning when he drunkenly fell off the pier and escorted him safely home, but would not tell Colin who he was and would not accept any recompense from him for his good deed.  When they met by chance again a few days later, Colin felt not just indebted to Hernan, but also attracted to him physically and emotionally.  Despite Hernan’s efforts to remain anonymous, Colin eventually convinced him and his cousin (Rudy, who is a legal immigrant and another character introduced in September) to allow Colin to help him avoid exploitation and deportation.  As the two men work together towards getting legal asylum for Hernan, they begin to tentatively develop a relationship; but the differences between the two men in culture, background, and experience are almost insurmountable.

I really did enjoy the book, and the author certainly made a great deal of effort to tell what went through the minds of these men as they tried to overcome both Hernan’s situation and their differences.  But I never got really invested in the romance – I guess it was too much of a fairy tale (and not in the good way, since I love a well written fairy tale) for me to believe in it.  How did Hernan manage to rescue the one man who was just waiting for a guy like him that he could rescue in turn?  How convenient is it that Colin is not just idealistic and wealthy, but also works for the specific agency that not only makes him understand what Hernan is going through, but also is best poised to give Hernan exactly what he needs?  I felt the book was trying to be either a romance or a documentary, and though the author clearly wanted it to be both, it ended up not being truly satisfying on either count.

Cover art by Dar Albert is standard for MM romance, but the cover models are pretty close to how I imagined the MCs.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st, 430 pages
Published April 2nd 2018 by Robert Winter Books
Original TitleAsylum
ASINB07C93GWDM
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPride and Joy #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Full Plate by Kim Fielding

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Bradford Tolliver, Tully to friends, has everything and nothing—he’s wealthy, a highly sought attorney, has a beautiful condo but has no friends, no family to speak of, and is clueless as to how empty his life is.  That is, until Sage Filling enters his life.  Yes, Sage’s father had a sense of humor when he named him and when he named his dog Tooth (Filling).  I love Kim Fielding!

Sage knew from an early age that he’d be a chef someday.  Growing up, he worked for his family’s business, a restaurant named The Filling Station, and his greatest wish for birthday and Christmas gifts was always food-related: a subscription to Gourmet Magazine, a new kitchen utensil, etc.  But as the story opens, he’s moved to Portland to earn extra money to support his family and needs a place to stay.  His cousin Carrie, one of Tully’s coworkers, asks Tully to allow Sage to be Tully’s roommate for the one year he’ll be in town. 

Not wanting to refuse, and willing to give it a try, Tully agrees.  Little does he know his life has taken a turn for the better.  It takes a while – I love a slow burn! – but eventually Tully and Sage find their way into each other’s arms…and beds.  But they know their time is limited.  Tully can’t work from Sage’s little hometown and Sage can’t stay in Portland because of family issues. 

I love the way Kim Fielding crafted these characters.  We have time to get to know them individually before we get to the coupledom.  And when we do, we don’t just have sex, sex, sex.  We have sex, yes indeed, but we also have romance and the caring, concern, and support one would hope to see between two people who love each other.  Sage finds it hard to believe that this gorgeous, smart, wealthy man can possibly love him beyond the time they spend together.  And Tully finds it hard to believe that Sage sees himself as anything other than the perfect man he is through Tully’s eyes. 

I just loved it and I hope others will too.  These Dreamspun Desires stories are just the ticket to brighten a day and warm a cold heart.  I highly recommend this to all who enjoy contemporary MM romance. 

~~~

Cover art by Bree Archer features a good-looking, well-dressed man—no doubt Attorney Bradford Tolliver—set against the Portland city skyline.  The cover is no more or less attractive than others in the series but is done in a similar theme so readers will certainly know this is one of the Dreamspun Desires books.   

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Expected publication: April 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640801028
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

An Alisa Review :Precious Moments by Casper Graham

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Blake Hill is a twenty-five-year-old omega who’s too old to be single. No alpha wants to mate with him. He’s prettier than most omegas and he smells just as sweet as any of them, but he’s too tall and too muscular. Alphas prefer smaller-built omegas, and not a freak like him.

Mason Armstrong and Kian Evans have been alpha-mates for years. They’re ready for a third mate, preferably an omega they can agree on. Both men are thirty-seven and stable enough in their careers to not worry about their financial future.

When mutual friends set up a blind date between the three men, sparks fly, but the alphas insist on the ancient courting ritual before claiming the omega.

Do they have a future together? Or will the fire burn out before they reach the mating stage?

This was a sweet story.  Blake has been rejected by way to many alphas and doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.  Mason and Kian think Blake is the perfect omega for them as long as they can convince him.

This was an interesting world that these characters live in which many of the relationships have three people.  I loved how supportive Kian and Mason are and the old fashioned courting they did with Blake to show their intentions.  These guys seem to build a very stable family and I loved to watch it.  The only thing I didn’t like about the world they lived in was the focus on omega’s being mated younger and alphas being older.

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and it a typical romance cover of the three men in the story.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 87 pages

Published: February 24, 2018 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634865937

Edition Language: English

Kris T. Bethke on Lost Souls Found (Requiem Inc. #2) (author guest blog)

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Lost Souls Found (Requiem Inc. #2) by Kris T. Bethke
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kris T. Bethke here today, talking about her latest release Lost Souls Found. Welcome, Kris.

♦︎

Hey there! I’m Kris T. Bethke, and I’ve stopped in today to bring you an exclusive excerpt of my new book, which releases tomorrow. Lost Souls Found is the second book in my Requiem Inc series. Thanks for taking a second to check it out!

Blurb:

Dying is all in a day’s work. Love is more dangerous.

Ghostwalker Sam Jones has been half in love with Michael King since he started working at Requiem Inc. But Michael is his boss and a Guardian, to boot. Sam thinks they could make it work anyway, but Michael uses his position and his age to keep Sam at arm’s length.

When Sam continues to volunteer for the most dangerous cases, Michael has to intervene. He tells himself he’s just doing his job, but he’s always seen Sam as more than another operative, and he can’t bear the thought of not taking his chance. The connection between them has been strong from the beginning, and Michael’s telepathy adds unexpected depth and an edge to their new romance, but working together while they try to build their relationship might be the hardest part of their job if they don’t make some sacrifices.

Excerpt:

Michael’s dark eyes flared as he sucked in a sharp breath through his nose. “It’s not. I am your boss. And getting involved is just wrong. Because of that.”

“Okay.”

“Dammit, Sam. Don’t you think if there weren’t this huge thing between us, I would have already made you mine? But I can’t. The abuse of power is just unacceptable.”

Sam didn’t say anything as he watched the anguish take over Michael’s face. It was the most emotion he’d ever seen from him, and he hated that Michael was so upset. But it was all on Michael. He’d put them in this situation.

“But I don’t know that.” Sam was careful to keep his voice low and nonconfrontational. “You’ve always said no. You’ve always kept the job between us. I was the one who put myself out there, even when maybe I shouldn’t have. And you said no.”

Michael’s eyes blazed. “I kissed you, if you recall.”

“I do. But I pushed you to it.” Sam sighed and crossed his hands over his stomach. “It’s always me, Michael. I have no doubt you feel… things. But for someone who’s so open to loving whoever catches his eye, you sure keep yourself closed off from me. So. Say what you want. Think what you want. I know there’s more going on here.”

Michael squinted. “How can you be sure?”

Sam cocked his head to the side and tried to find the words for the revelations he’d recently had. He’d had a lot of time to think since he left Michael’s office.

“Because, if it were just the job, you would have shut it down a long time ago. I mean, sure you’ve said we can’t. You’ve told me to stop flirting, but you didn’t mean it.” Sam sighed. “That didn’t come out like I meant. I just mean, if you really wanted me to stop, you would have reprimanded me formally. You wouldn’t have given me small indications for years that you feel things too. You wouldn’t have let me hope.”

The last came out like an accusation, but Sam didn’t care. He was tired—tired of hoping and hurting, pining and needing. Things could have been so good between them, but he was done. Michael’s shoulders slumped, and though Sam hated to see him defeated, he couldn’t just let it go.

“I’m leaving. Okay? I’ll make a new home somewhere else. And this thing between us will fade in time. For both of us.” He took a breath. “So how about you tell me the truth now.”

Michael’s head shot up. “I’ve never lied to you.”

“Maybe not outright. But you haven’t told me the whole truth either. Can you do that now? Since I’m leaving anyway. Don’t I deserve that?”

Silence. The only sound was the little bell on Cameron’s collar as he skirted the edge of the living room and shot up the stairs. Sam was sure he could feel the tension in the room, and Cameron never liked dealing with tension. Sam didn’t either, for that matter. But he couldn’t take off like a cat.

“I can’t be what you need.”

Author Bio:

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long.  An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head.  She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project.  Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time.  A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures.  She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head.  She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.

Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-T-Bethke/100014524539852 or on Twitter https://twitter.com/kristbethke

Release Blitz – The Contingency Plan by Addison Albright (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 8,040 words approx.
 
Publisher: JMS Publishing
 
Blurb
 

A sheltered prince. A sudden death. An unexpected choice. How will Prince Marcelo react to discovering he’s The Contingency Plan?

For eighteen years, there has been peace between Sheburat and the kingdom of Zioneven. The untimely death of a princess throws the marriage arrangement — the final phase to complete the terms of the treaty — into disarray, and the contingency plan is put into motion. Now the Crown Prince of Zioneven gets to make his own choice from among the princess’s younger siblings.

As a rare royal son in the matriarchal sovereignty of Sheburat, Prince Marcelo grew up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period. Except, Prince Efren isn’t from Sheburat, and he has other plans.

 

Excerpt


With everyone now in attendance, Queen Giselle stepped forward. “Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Lords, and people of Zioneven, please accept our warm welcome to Sheburat, and I hope you’ll accept our sincere apology for the chaos in which you find us today.”

Prince Efren inclined his head. “Of course, Your Majesty. On behalf of Zioneven, I offer our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beloved daughter.”

“Thank you,” Queen Giselle replied. “Sadly, our loss yesterday affects more than simply causing us private pain.”

“Indeed.” Prince Efren kept his reply short, perhaps diplomatically leaving it to Queen Giselle to either further the conversation toward whether or not he was ready to choose his alternate, or to wait for a time when her grief would be less immediate.

His mother would put diplomacy first, Marcelo didn’t doubt that. The conversation may or may not happen today, but it would occur during this visit. Diplomacy always came ahead of personal concerns.

“Although disappointment caused by the cancellation of the wedding we’d expected tomorrow is unavoidable,” Queen Giselle said. “I hope you’ll find a small comfort in knowing that you may now make your own choice of your future bride from among my younger daughters rather than the arrangement made on your behalf at the tender age of five.”


Again, Prince Efren inclined his head. “Sibling.”
“I’m sorry?”“Sibling. The terms of the treaty specify I may choose an alternate from among Princess Marcela’s younger siblings. It didn’t restrict the choice to daughters.”

Marcelo stiffened. What in the world could Prince Efren mean by that? Men didn’t marry men. At least, he’d never heard of such a thing occurring in Sheburat. Marcelo wasn’t alone in his bewilderment. Everyone on his side of the room stilled. None of the faces opposite them exhibited confusion. Was that an acceptable option in Zioneven’s culture?

It was only by mere minutes, but Marcelo did qualify as a younger sibling to Marcela.

For the first time in Marcelo’s recollection, his mother faltered. “Do…surely…but…”

Marcelo turned his head toward her, his wide eyes silently imploring her to voice an objection. Kemble may have recently grown complacent thinking herself in the clear, but she’d at least spent her life knowing she was the likely backup plan.

As a royal son in this matriarchal society, Marcelo had grown up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period.

He’d been perfectly happy with that knowledge because he’d never experienced the attraction that men outside the royal family felt toward women. In fact, he’d enjoyed knowing he would not have to merge his life with a woman’s with the expectation of having to bed her.


His gaze flicked back and forth between Queen Giselle and Prince Efren before settling on the prince. Prince Efren had kept his eyes locked with the queen’s, but as if sensing Marcelo’s scrutiny, his head turned to reflect Marcelo’s regard.
Marcelo’s heart thudded so vigorously in his chest, surely everyone in the room must hear it. His respiration quickened. That single word uttered by Prince Efren had shattered Marcelo’s understanding of everything he knew about the world and had expected in his life.Queen Giselle remained frozen for a few more moments, her brows drawn together as she processed the unexpected direction of this discussion. She cast a brief, apologetic glance toward Marcelo, then lifted her shoulders in a barely visible shrug. “The treaty does indeed use that word. Prince Efren, the choice is yours.”

Marcelo’s stomach dropped as her words echoed through the silent hall even though he’d known in his heart that she’d put Sheburat before her son’s individual concerns. So, he felt no personal betrayal. It was who is mother had to be.

Prince Efren continued to stare at Marcelo as he firmly stated, “I choose His Royal Highness, Prince Marcelo. The wedding will proceed tomorrow as planned.”

Marcelo swayed as the blood drained from his face. How could this be? How did such a marriage work? Would he be expected to—

“Marcelo?” Suky’s whispered tone voiced her concern. “Are you unwell?”

She repeated the words, but from farther away. Or did her voice only seem distant? He wobbled as the people around him faded, and then, thankfully, this nightmare all went away.

Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance in contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal genres. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.


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