A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Second Chance by Jay Northcote


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A beautiful and unique love story, Jay Northcote seems to have put so much of himself into this book that it brought the characters, especially Nate, to life and gave me a deep appreciation of the struggles many transgender persons face in daily situations that some of us simply take for granted.

Nate and his teen daughter, Cass, return to his hometown to live with his mother until Cass finishes high school. She had some problems related to drugs and boyfriends and depression at her former school but she and her dad on are on good terms now and he believes she’ll benefit from being in his small hometown. He and his mother are also on good terms in their relationship—nothing like the struggles they went through when Nate was Nat and wrestling with his need to be the same on the outside as he was on the inside.

When Nate runs into Jack, his former bestie, he doesn’t reveal who he is. Now in his midforties, Nate’s changed enough that he’s not recognizable at first glance and he’s not willing to face the twenty questions most people ask. For his part, Jack thinks the guy looks familiar—he’s definitely hot and attractive—but Jack is suffering from depression and is kicking an addiction and simply isn’t in a good space after life as he knew it fell apart and he had to return home to live with his parents.

The two men do eventually gravitate back together, first as friends, and over time their feelings grow stronger, though neither admits that to the other. When they have sex, Nate is impressed that Jack is respectful of the terminology Nate prefers to use, and he’s even happier that Jack seems to have no issues with experimenting in various ways and genuinely seems to enjoy sex with Nate—as much as Nate enjoys it with him. To Jack, the biggest issue in being with Nate is his parents’ attitude. They are not gender respectful to Nate and can’t seem to get past the fact that today’s Nate is the past Natalie.

I looked forward to every page in this book. The writing was polished and mature; the story was exactly right for the times; the family drama was believable; and the characters were three-dimensional and engaging.

The plot was interesting, educational, and because I’ve followed along on social media as the author transitioned over the past few years, it felt very personal. I cheered for these two men as they navigated through their new relationship while living life with family who knew them as teens and now must learn to accept them as the very different men they are today.

Kudos to Jay Northcote for bringing this story to life. Everyone deserves a “Second Chance” and I’m so happy these men got theirs.


Cover art by Garrett Leigh is a black-and-white close-up of a good-looking older man, with dark hair and beard. He’s the perfect depiction of Nate.

Sales Links:Universal Buy Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 240 pages
Published April 20th 2018 by Jaybird Press
Original TitleSecond Chance
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review Replay: Forged in Fire (Asheville Arcana #2) by Ari McKay


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The magic touch.

Ever since Harlan Edgewood was bitten by a possessed werewolf, his monthly shifts have been agonizing. When he meets Whimsy Hickes—a mage who specializes in transformation—the attraction is mutual. But Harlan believes his curse is too great a burden to inflict on any romantic partner.

Fortunately, Whimsy thinks he can help.

When Harlan is provoked into an unexpected change, Whimsy uses his magic to help ease Harlan’s pain, but with an unexpected consequence. While he’s shifted, Harlan’s wolf claims Whimsy as his mate.

As they draw closer, suspicious events in the Asheville magical community escalate. Shifters are disappearing, others are murdered, and Harlan’s curse makes him an obvious target. It will take all of Whimsy’s magic to force back the rising evil—and if he fails, Harlan will lose not only his life, but his very soul.

Whimsy Hickes! Of all  of the character names that have leapt across the  pages I have read all these years, this is one of the ones I wish I could grab for myself.  Just the sheer charm of this name speaks to me.  As does the character himself.  I have adored  Whimsy since I met him in Out of the Ashes (Asheville Arcana #1).  Then he was dealing with the loss of his triad relationship when his friend and lover, half-elf Arden Gilmarin, finds true love with his mate werewolf Eli Hammond.  When their other third, the Vampire disappears in his research, it leaves Whimsy lonely and searching for something for himself in Forged in Fire (Asheville Arcana #2) by Ari McKay.

The Asheville Arcana series or maybe trilogy is so wonderful.  Layered over with multiple storylines that keep your attention glued to every sentence less you loose a clue or important element that will frame out the next action, McKay never forgets that its the people (or beings) that are the foundation here.  And I mean every character, not just the main ones.  Just terrific characterizations all around.

Both Whimsy and Harlan are looking for something….and find each other unexpectedly.  It’s the mate bond that shows them the way.  Each character is lovingly built up so that they feel alive, each detail, right down to the handmade candles that one makes and the other joyfully receives, gives us insight into them as people and as a couple.  I loved that and them.  And could see them so clearly in my mind that I felt I  was nearby, listening in as  a friend and happy for them.

Of course, there is an ongoing series storyline arc here with a great evil and that is carried through here with suspense and wonderful action.  I was holding my breath at parts to see how it would all shake out and how if any resolution would happen knowing the series was only as book two.  I wasn’t disappointed. The authors can write action as well as romance.  And of course, we still have a lonely vampire at large.  Can’t have that, can we?

So what have we got?  A terrific magical series with supernatural and fantasy characters that feel alive and so vivid that you will connect with them easily.  An evil so pervasive that it sends chills down your spine and make you fear for all involved.  And plenty of love and romance for all lovers of, well, love and romance.  Plus the name Whimsy Hickes. You know how I feel about that.

I can’t wait for the next story in this series.  Until then, if you are new to the Asheville Arcana series, pick up book one and find out what’s in store for you.  None of them are standalones.  Then read this one.  I highly recommend them both.

Cover art:  Aaron Anderson.  Love this  cover.  That’s my idea of Whimsy Hickes now absolutely.

Sales Links:     Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Asheville Arcana

Out of the Ashes (Asheville Arcana #1)

Forged in Fire (Asheville Arcana, #2)

An Ali Review: Contraband Hearts (Porthkennack #10) by Alex Beecroft

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

His future depends on bringing the smuggler to justice. His heart demands to join him.

Customs officer Peregrine Dean is sent by his patron to investigate rumors of corruption in the Porthkennack customs house. There he is tasked by the local magistrate to bring down the villainous Tomas Quick, a smuggler with fingers in every pie in town. Fired with zeal and ambition, and struck to the core by his first glimpse of Tomas, Perry determines to stop at nothing until he has succeeded.

Tomas Quick is an honest thief—a criminal regarded by the town as their local Robin Hood. He’s also an arrogant man who relishes the challenge posed by someone as determined and intelligent as Perry. Both of them come to enjoy their cat-and-mouse rivalry a little too much.

But the eighteenth century is a perilous time for someone like Perry: a black man in England. Two have already disappeared from the wrecks of ships. Tomas and Perry must forsake their competition and learn to trust each other if they are to rescue them, or Perry may become the third victim.

The story begins when Peregrine “Perry” Dean arrives in Porthkennak to take up a position as a customs officer. He’s been sent to clean up corruption in the customs house, and the town magistrate orders Perry to target a local sailor, Tomas Quick. Unfortunately for Perry, Tomas is a respected member of the community and the townspeople have no desire to aide in his capture.  While he struggles to build a case against Tomas, the two men begin to fall for each other.
I thought the author did a great job with world building and setting the stage for this story.  It was so well done I felt I was in historic Cornwall.  She also did a great job with the character development.  She spent a lot of time building up Perry and Tomas and I enjoy how she put not only them but their relationship together.
The story is pretty action packed and a lot of stuff happens.  It was as much suspense and action plot as it was romance.  Actually it was more suspense than romance.  That may be an issue for some readers.  The love story is a very slow build and fits well with the time period it takes place in.  It felt pretty realistic which was a nice change of pace from many current love stories.
I think if you are a fan of this author’s you will really enjoy this.  If you have not read her before this is a lovely story and you should give it a try.  While this is an ongoing series, each book is written as a standalone and you will have no problem enjoying this even if you have not read any of the other books.
This cover was done by L.C, Chase and I think it’s a lovely cover.  It fits the description of Perry well and it captures the mood over the story well.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

ebook, 270 pages
Published April 30th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626498040 (ISBN13: 9781626498044)
Edition Language English

BA Tortuga With a Special Excerpt from her release Latigo (Latigo #1)


Latigo (Latigo #1) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have BA Tortuga here today talking about a book we read years ago and still love today, Latigo.  Welcome, BA.

Hey y’all. I’m BA Tortuga – writer of rednecks and cowboys and down home folks that manage to fall in love. It’s my thing. Latigo is a rerelease from years ago and it’s still the story that is home for me.


Latigo Excerpt



Will laughed. “My pop used to take me all the way up to Ruidoso or Elephant Butte to go fishing. He had a thing for trout. Now me? I like a nice bass. They fight like crazy.” He grinned over at Dean, struggling against the sudden, strong urge to invite himself along.

“Shit, yeah. But I tell you what, some butter and lemon and cook it over the fire… sheer heaven.” Dean gave him a sideways look. “You got something set up in Tulsa already, Ace? ’Cause Gypsy’s needing a rider, and God knows another pair of hands on the steering wheel for a piece wouldn’t hurt.”

“Yeah? Because Tulsa’s nice and all, but I wasn’t hankering to stay there.” Wow. Maybe his damned luck was on the way to changing.

“It’s the same six dollars a day whether there’s one or ten, and fishing’s better with someone to jaw with.” Dean nodded, then winked. “Besides, Oklahoma’s no damned place to be stranded, Ace. I mean, to be so close to heaven and just miss it by one state?”

He had to laugh at that. “Yeah. Oklahoma’s, well… there’s a reason the South, the West, and the Midwest all refuse to claim it. That’s really decent of you, Dean.” It was, and he meant it, and he’d do whatever he could to earn it.

“No problem. You a roper by trade?”

“Yeah. I did team roping right out of the gate, but my partner decided to go back and go to college. Then I did calf roping a bit. Now I just do the bareback competitions.” He laughed ruefully, thinking it was no wonder he never made any prize money anymore. Bronc riding wasn’t his strongest event.

“Bareback’s a hard row to hoe. Good money in it if you win, but the competition’s rougher than hell.” Dean finished his Coke and shook his head, tongue swiping the drops of soda off the salt-and-pepper mustache. “Calf roping is my main thing now. The only thing I won’t do anymore is the bulls. That’ll kill a man, sure as shit.”

Oh yeah. He knew that one. “Damned good money there. But I’m lucky. I’m really too damned tall to ride them. Else I’d probably be fool enough to try.” He laughed, sucking down his own Coke.

“Yeah. I got six months in traction that tells about being all kinds of fool.” The George Strait CD stopped, and Alan Jackson came on. “It’s fixin’ to be time to eat, and Sadie needs her walk. You reckon you can drive after? We could bunk down in Enid. There’s a KOA there.”

“Sure. Sounds good, and I was just about to need some roadside relief myself.” Maybe his luck really was changing. Just maybe.

They headed down the road, then stopped at a little rest stop. Dean pulled a loaf of bread and some bologna and cheese out for a quick sandwich before they headed straight on through Tulsa, the Dodge purring down the highway.

He was damned lucky he stumbled on the man, and he figured Dean looked like the salt-of-the-earth type. Because bass fishing with a fine man like that was a heck of a lot better than grease and wood chips. Yeah. Definitely looking up.


Much love, y’all.

BA Tortuga


Official blurb:

Being a hard-core rodeo cowboy means getting by with little money and less of a future. But for two hardscrabble rodeo riders, that might change….

Dean’s been around the rodeo circuit long enough to know when a new kid is down on his luck. Giving young Will a ride to the next event is just the neighborly thing to do, passing on some of the kindness strangers have shown him over the years. Who’d expect Will to be such good company? So good in fact, that Dean figures he might just keep Will around—especially since Will feels the same.

Traveling from rodeo to rodeo, enjoying all the fringe benefits they can, is a dream come true for Dean and Will. Troubles with Dean’s family and Will’s stubborn pride separate them for a while, but they always come back together when the chips are down. These two cowboys are a match made in heaven—now they just need to convince everyone else to let them live the life they love and find their future together.


Latigo first published by Torquere Press, July, 2005.

Bits of Leather first published by Torquere Press, July 2007.

Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/latigo-by-ba-tortuga-9589-b

About the Author

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.

You can find BA at:

Review Tour for Forged in Fire (Asheville Arcana #2) by Ari McKay (excerpt and giveaway)



Cover Design: Aaron Anderson

Length: 59,473 words

Ashville Arcana Series

The magic touch.

Ever since Harlan Edgewood was bitten by a possessed werewolf, his monthly shifts have been agonizing. When he meets Whimsy Hickes—a mage who specializes in transformation—the attraction is mutual. But Harlan believes his curse is too great a burden to inflict on any romantic partner.

Fortunately, Whimsy thinks he can help.

When Harlan is provoked into an unexpected change, Whimsy uses his magic to help ease Harlan’s pain, but with an unexpected consequence. While he’s shifted, Harlan’s wolf claims Whimsy as his mate.

As they draw closer, suspicious events in the Asheville magical community escalate. Shifters are disappearing, others are murdered, and Harlan’s curse makes him an obvious target. It will take all of Whimsy’s magic to force back the rising evil—and if he fails, Harlan will lose not only his life, but his very soul.

May 1 – OMG Reads
May 2 – Bayou Book Junkie
May 3 – Making It Happen
May 5 – Love Bytes
May 7 – My Fiction Nook
May 8 – The Novel Approach
May 9 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, RAM PA Group, Drops Of Ink, Momma Says: To Read or Not To Read, United Indie Book Blog
May 10 – MM Good Book Reviews
May 11 – Bayou Book Junkie, Mirrigold, Valerie Ullmer, Virginia Lee
May 12 – Diverse Reader

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.

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

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

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


Review Tour – Jay Northcote’s Second Chance (excerpt)



Length: 67,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Nate and his teenage daughter need a fresh start, so they move back to the village where he grew up. Nate’s transgender, and not used to disclosing his history, so it’s hard living where people knew him before. When Nate reconnects with Jack–his best friend from school and unrequited crush–his feelings return as strong as ever.

Jack’s returned home to get his life in order after an addiction to alcohol caused him to lose everything: his job, his driver’s licence, and nearly his life. He’s living with his parents, which is less than ideal, but rekindling his friendship with Nate–or Nat as Jack once knew him–is an unexpected benefit of being back home. Jack is amazed by Nate’s transformation, and can’t deny his attraction. Trying for more than friendship might ruin what they already have, but the chemistry between them is undeniable.

Doubting his feelings are reciprocated, Nate fears he’s risking heartbreak. Jack’s reluctance to tell his parents about their relationship only reinforces Nate’s misgivings. With both their hearts on the line and their happiness at stake, Jack needs to make things right, and Nate has to be prepared to give him a second chance.


A hint of cigarette smoke carried on the wind caught Nate’s attention, and he realised he wasn’t alone. A hunched figure sat on a bench by the church. Wearing a heavy coat with the hood up, their head hung low staring at the grass between their feet rather than at the landscape stretched out before them. A cigarette hung from bony fingers that protruded from black fingerless gloves. As Nate watched, the man—because Nate could see his face now—raised his head to take a long drag before stubbing the cigarette out on the bench.

A shock of recognition made Nate’s heart jump, thudding erratically.


Torn between conflicting urges to approach and flee, Nate stared at him, powerless to move.

How many years had it been since Nate had seen him? At forty-five Nate found each year passed faster than the one before. It must have been twenty years at least since he’d seen Jack, maybe more, and longer still since they’d spoken properly. Their last meeting had been nothing more than an awkward exchange of greetings when they ran into each other in the village pub one Christmas. The distance between them had cut Nate like a knife, so different to their teenage years when they’d been best friends, and almost inseparable.

Jack slumped forward again, letting the cigarette butt fall from his fingers. He put his hands over his face and Nate recognised despair and hopelessness, because they’d been his companions in the past. Acting on instinct, he approached.

“Sorry to intrude,” he said, pausing in front of Jack. “But are you okay? Is there anything I can do?”

Jack jerked his head up in surprise. His pale cheeks flushed as he shook his head. “Not really. Just having a bad day. You know how it is… or maybe you don’t.”

“I do.”

Nate studied him. The years had changed Jack, of course, but the essence of him was still the same. Sharp features, the strong nose Jack had always hated, even more defined with age, but more balanced now with dark stubble and the lines that the years were beginning to carve around his eyes and mouth.

As Jack stared back, Nate realised there was no recognition dawning on Jack’s face. To Jack, Nate was a stranger. Five years on testosterone had changed Nate to a point where Jack couldn’t see the person Nate had been before. Normally this was something Nate was glad about, but now he felt a pang of regret.


Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

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