A MelanieM Review: The Henchmen of Zenda (Classics Queered) by K.J. Charles

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Swordfights, lust, betrayal, murder: just another day for a henchman.

Jasper Detchard is a disgraced British officer, now selling his blade to the highest bidder. Currently that’s Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. Michael wants the throne for himself, and Jasper is one of the scoundrels he hires to help him take it. But when Michael makes his move, things don’t go entirely to plan—and the penalty for treason is death.

Rupert of Hentzau is Michael’s newest addition to his sinister band of henchmen. Charming, lethal, and intolerably handsome, Rupert is out for his own ends—which seem to include getting Jasper into bed. But Jasper needs to work out what Rupert’s really up to amid a maelstrom of plots, swordfights, scheming, impersonation, desire, betrayal, and murder.

Nobody can be trusted. Everyone has a secret. And love is the worst mistake you can make.

A retelling of the swashbuckling classic The Prisoner of Zenda from a very different point of view.

I’m of two minds in writing this review and they battled it out when it came to the rating.  In the end, style won over lack of enjoyment.  Did I enjoy this story? No.  Did I think that K.J. Charles captured the feel, tone, and style of the original novel,The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), by Anthony Hope?  Absolutely and gave it the decided Charles twist on characters and storyline. That’s is the 4 star rating here.

But there’s really nothing that Charles can do to cover up the fact that at times both Zendas fall prey to just too many complications for its own good.  Two many layers of plotting, too much ‘downtime’ in activity’ before something actually happens, and for those looking for romance, just don’t.  There isn’t any.  Sex yes, action yes towards the end, but love and romance no.  It’s not that sort of story.

I admire how true K.J. Charles remains to the original novel while putting a “queer” twist to such a classic.  It comes off rather well as an adventure tale but, even knowing the story, I had a hard time connecting with it, stopping over and over before finally committing to read it  to the end.  And those expecting a romantic couple at the end here…well you shouldn’t. More like old friends still adventuring together.

So again.  Didn’t enjoy the story but throughly appreciated the manner in which the author wrote the tale.  Thought the writing was beautifully done within the framework given.  You decide if this is something you would enjoy.

Cover art is perfect for the story.  Love how vibrant and eyecatching it is.

Sales Link:   Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 15th 2018 by KJC Books
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Release Day Review: Nudging Fate (Enchanted Occasions #1) by E.J. Russell

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

We all nudge Fate every day, with every choice we make.

I just love this author when she’s being playful!  Those who loved Cutie and the Beast will also love this book.  It is not explicitly in the same universe, but still involves beings from various mythologies (the MC in this one is Norse) who are interacting with the morally ambiguous and manipulative world of the Fae, as well as mundane Earth.  This book is set primarily in the Interstices, “the pockets in reality where … magic from all supernatural realms could coexist”.  In addition to the Fae, this book has an eclectic mix of supernatural beings from just about every folklore and tradition that I can think of, cleverly integrated into a cohesive whole.  It was only as I was writing this review that I realized how very clever the author was in taking such complexity and making it seem effortless!

I will save you the trouble of looking up the norn (which I just had to do because I didn’t want to wait for the author’s specific explanation).  In Norse mythology there are three divine female beings who influence the destinies of gods and men (roughly corresponding to the Greek Fates), Norns with a capital N, and then there are other norns of lesser strength and influence.  Anders Skuldsson is one of these – half human son of one of the big three, which makes him outcast for being a half-breed, but also mistrusted because when you are around him, how to you know that he didn’t just make things happen according to his will?  Despite his questionable status, he’s a good guy just trying to do the right thing and earn a little respect.  He’s the Senior Event Coordinator of Enchanted Occasions Event Planning, and has been chosen by no less than the Fae Queen herself to be in charge of her son Prince Reynard’s ceremony to choose and bond with a consort.  This job is not only his greatest challenge so far, it is also a make or break event for Enchanted Occasions and his employees – all of whom are half-human and looked down on by most of the Pure bloods of the other supernatural races.  Anders has a lot to prove with this gig.

Prince Reynard, on the other hand, has no desire to participate in this Faerie version of “The Bachelor” and get hooked permanently to some suitable consort chosen by his mother.  He’s all about a life of freedom and promiscuity.  His half brother Conall of Odstone – bastard result of the Faerie Queen’s own consort’s infidelity centuries ago – has been blessed/cursed with the gift of responsibility:  he does what’s right, even when it’s difficult or inconvenient.  Rey is used to exploiting this trait, and Con has ended up impersonating Rey multiple times over the years for any events that Rey finds boring, or onerous, and Con once again found himself uncomfortably forced into a predicament that unfortunately has much higher stakes than he’s ever faced before.

Through a comedy of errors and missteps, these two unlikely men end up thrust together – while each impersonating someone else – and find that they really like each other, and their chemistry is off the charts.  But they are both basically men of truth and integrity, both responsible for others and wanting to do the best by them, and how can anything real and true come from such deception?

I laughed out loud at the antics of the MC’s, and at the ridiculous situations they ended up in despite the best of intentions.  The secondary characters – Talus, man of iron, arbiter and dispenser of justice for Faerie, and solid supporter of Con; Brooke and Smith, the other half-breeds who work with Andy who are brilliant at creating the perfect worlds in the Interstices; the other characters that are pure comic relief like the goblin chef who creates the most incredible and delicate food but goes into a rage when people don’t appreciate it – were just pure genius.  The Interstices themselves were an incredible and subtle weave of magic from different worlds combined with the best of Earth.  And the plot, while superficially a romp of increasingly ridiculous circumstances, was really a story of integrity and kindness overcoming manipulation and selfishness.  It’s a romantic comedy with a moral, in the style of a fairy tale, but so much more fun.  I can’t wait for the next book, and there were definitely some clues dropped about who might star in the next one…

Cover art by Aaron Anderson actually detracts from the book.  The story is otherwordly, beautiful, and magic, and this cover is downright boring…

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: May 15th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640805064
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEnchanted Occasions #1

An Alisa Review: The Power of Two by Leigh Vining

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Corey Preston has just opened his own gym. He should be proud, but frustrations with his family and his ex-boyfriend keep him from feeling fully secure.

Nick Sanders is running away from his life the old-fashioned way–hopping a train. With all his bridges burned and no idea where he’s headed or what he’ll find there, he ends up in Redding, California, and in Corey’s life.

Corey finds himself intrigued with the mysterious stranger, and hopes to forge a friendship with the young man with the boy next door charm and good looks. As Nick begins letting his guard down and sharing fragments of his life back home where he’d been living a lie and making choices he’s not proud of, Corey dreams of more. He falls fast for the handsome stranger, but Nick’s baggage and Corey’s chaotic life threaten to keep them from happiness.

I am so glad I have had a good run of stories lately because I wasn’t for a while and I really enjoyed this one.  Nick ran away from his life after a blow up with his family and is given a great chance to re-start his life out in the open.  Corey is drawn to the quiet man he helped outside of his gym and quickly builds a relationship with him.

Both of these guys have not been able to find what they need but for different reasons.  Nick is incredibly caring but was afraid of his family’s rejection and it takes a strong push for him to finally leave.  Corey has had a supportive family since moving to Redding.

I loved both of these guys.  Corey is so supportive and would do anything for someone he cares about.  Nick can’t believe someone could care about him and I could see how hard it was for him to open up about his life before he can to Redding.  I was so glad to see him be able to have a chance at a relationship with at least some of his family.  However, it does seem as though Corey’s family falls in love fast and easily.  His cousin was apparently in love with her current boyfriend but immediately after she breaks it off is serious with a previous ex-boyfriend.  And Corey fell for Nick within a week and the relationship just seemed to move extra fast it didn’t seem right.  I love insta-love stories but this seemed even more intense.

The cover art is nice and each picture is important to the story in a different way.

 

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 286 pages

Expected Published: June 1, 2018

Edition Language: English

A VVivacious Review: Angel and Firebird by Nell Iris

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Phoenix has been in love with Gabriel was as long as he can remember but losing him so tragically hasn’t gotten any easier even after five years. As he struggles with his loss, he yearns for Gabriel…

This story ended way too quickly. I wanted more. So much more. Also, I was completely unaware that this was a short story. So the ending caught me by surprise and I was reluctant to let this story and its characters go.

I remember having gotten through just the very first page of this story and being shocked at how invested I already was in these characters. This was a very engrossing story from its very first words.

It was a story of loss and overall this story has a melancholic tone but everytime Phoenix would talk of Gabriel it was like a ray of light passing through dense black clouds. Their love was palpable. God I would have loved to read about them during the time they were together.

I understood Gabriel’s grief. I understand his actions but I don’t know how justified he is if at all but I really did want him to get all the happiness he deserved.

I found myself really invested and at the risk of repeating myself, I would love to see how these two are together because the image of them together has me bursting with love and hope.

Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I really liked the cover especially because combined with how the story starts, it leaves a very vivid impression of innocence and love.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 21 pages
Published May 12th 2018 by JMS Books, LLC
ASINB07C1D4GSD
Edition LanguageEnglish

T.A. Chase on Writing, Influences and her new release Blindsided (International Men of Sports #4) by T.A. Chase and Devon Rhodes

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Blindsided (International Men of Sports #4)

by

T.A. Chase and Devon Rhodes
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have T.A. Chase here today talking about her latest release Blindsided with Devon Rhodes.  Welcome, T.A.

 

♦︎

 

 

Hello there! I’m T.A. Chase and I’m here to chat with you. 🙂 My new re-release, Blindsided, came out on May 8 at Dreamspinner. It was written with Devon Rhodes. I’m sure some of you have read it, or at least heard about it and the whole series. We did add some new scenes. I hope you might be interested in checking it out. I thought I’d answer some questions, so you can get to know a little about me and my writing process.

I think there’s a little bit of me in every character I write. I use one piece of my personality or experience to build upon. A starting point that I can expand upon. I think a lot of authors do the same.

Choosing a genre is more about what I feel like writing at that moment then how much research I feel like doing. I will admit there are times when I will write a fantasy because I can write the rules of the world as I want them instead of what they need to be in the ‘real’ world. Researching a book is important when you set it in certain places. Our Men of Sports series takes place in different countries and we did our best to use the right slang or where the cities are in the country. Also, the terms for the sports we wrote about had to be right, or as close to it as we could.

I have put aside a few stories because the problems I gave the character(s) were so emotional that I needed to: either think whether or not I should continue or whether the characters can make it through all the trouble. Angel’s Evolution is just such a book. I hurt poor Angel so badly throughout the whole story that I wasn’t sure he’d ever survive, yet I gave him the perfect hero to save him. I have a Young Adult story that I ended up splitting in two stories, which is another one that’s really emotional. I haven’t finished the second half of it because I need to recover from the rough beginning.

Do I like HEA or HFN endings? There’s no real answer. I like both. HFN endings are fine as long as I’m allowed to believe the couple will stay together. Don’t make me doubt their relationship or I won’t be happy with the entire story.

I had two major writing influences: Mercedes Lackey and Tamora Pierce. I read these ladies when I was a teenager and I still read their books today. They wrote strong characters who understood sacrifice, but also how to be strong for themselves. Tamora Pierce’s female characters especially are some of the strongest characters I’ve ever read. They don’t give up their power/strength to the male characters. They work with the men to help save their country or world. Mrs. Pierce’s books are definitely ones I recommend to young girls to read and learn how to remain true to themselves.

Do I have a favorite among my own books? Hmm…I guess at the moment my favorite would be Cold Truth. It’s the last book in the Delarosa Secrets trilogy. It’s about Victor, who is a drug lord and his second in command. Victor is a character that I worried about making too ‘real’. He had no qualms about having people killed. He didn’t feel guilty about selling drugs to people. I introduced him in the first book, and when I did, I thought that maybe how he looked after his brother softened his edges a little. I did that, knowing I was going to write his story eventually and I wanted people to care about him, even though he was this evil guy. I was happy the way his story turned out. Helped me believe that I could take a ‘bad’ guy and turn him into someone readers could root for.

I have started several stories then put them away because they weren’t working at that moment. Scarecrows and Devils (which is out of print) is one of those books. I tried to give the book a 40s/50s noir feel and I included journal entries by my main character, Ace Castle, who is a detective in the Detroit Police Department. I wrote a couple journal entries, then set it aside for a month or two because I just wasn’t sure where I was going with the story or how to keep it in the vein of that noirish feel. I think I ended up doing a good job. I’m actually working on expanding that book, adding some stuff that happened before the events in Scarecrows and Devils. Hopefully, it’ll mesh together well.

Okay…I think I rambled on enough. I really do hope you all take a moment to check out Blindsided by Devon Rhodes and me. It’s available at Dreamspinner.

Thank you so much for having me today.

Blindsided

(May 8, 2018)

Blurb:

A Men of Sports Story

Love can hit you hard before you even see it coming….

When rugby player Liam transfers to Melbourne, he’s blindsided by his attraction to the hottest lifeguard on the beach. Luckily Matty knows mouth-to-mouth….

Liam’s left his friends and family—everything comforting and familiar—back in Canberra. He knows it all comes with the job, adjusting to a new city and a new team, but he’s lonely. Maybe it’s time to find something outside his career to fulfill him.

Working as a lifeguard and being by the ocean is Matty’s dream come true. The big, blond, blue-eyed hottie new to his beach catches his attention right away. When he runs into Liam again at the pub, he takes the shy league player under his wing and into his group of mates, and they become fast friends.

But when they go from friends to lovers, the emotions that come with their deepening romance catch them both off guard. Can two men without any experience at relationships navigate their way to steady ground?

 About the Author

T.A. Chase lives in the Midwest with her neurotic but still wonderful senior cat. She believes there is beauty in every kind of love, so why not live a life without boundaries? Experiencing everything the world offers fascinates T.A., and writing about the things that make each of us unique is how she shares those insights. When not writing, she’s watching movies and reading. She’s also a part of a line-dancing group that takes over a bar on Tuesday nights and entertains at assisted living homes. It’s all about living life to the fullest.

 

She loves hearing from fans. But don’t be too upset if she doesn’t get back to you right away. Life has a way of making her lose track of days and hours. Don’t worry, though. You will hear back at some point. 

http://www.tachase.com

Release Blitz – Alpha Heat by Leta Blake (giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 130,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Strange Designs
 
Heat of Love Series
 
Book #1 – Slow Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

A desperate young alpha. An older alpha with a hero complex. A forbidden love that can’t be denied.


Young Xan Heelies knows he can never have what he truly wants: a passionate romance and happy-ever-after with another alpha. It’s not only forbidden by the prevailing faith of the land, but such acts are illegal.


Urho Chase is a middle-aged alpha with a heartbreaking past. Careful, controlled, and steadfast, his friends dub him old-fashioned and staid. When Urho discovers a dangerous side to Xan’s life that he never imagined, his world is rocked and he’s consumed by desire. The carefully sewn seams that held him together after the loss of his omega and son come apart—and so does he.


But to love each other and make a life together, Xan and Urho risk utter ruin. With the acceptance and support of Caleb, Xan’s asexual and aromantic omega and dear friend, they must find the strength to embrace danger and build the family they deserve.


This gay romance novel by Leta Blake is the second in the Slow Heat universe. It’s 130,000 words, with a strong happy ending and a well-crafted, non-shifter Omegaverse. It features alphas, betas, omegas, male pregnancy, heat, and knotting. No cheating. Content warning for brief sexual violence.


Author Bio



Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.


Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/letablake
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LetaBlake
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/letablake
Website: https://letablake.wordpress.com

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Series Recap Blitz for C.F. White ‘s Responsible Adult Series (excerpt)

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Responsible Adult Series 


Book #1 – Misdemeanor – currently 99c
Book #2 – Hard Time  – currently 1.99
Book #3 – Reformed – currently 2.99


The Responsible Adult series follows bad boy Micky O’Neill as he attempts to better his life to bring up his disabled little brother. A past full of juvenile delinquency and living in a small town rife with idle gossip means Micky struggles to be seen as anything other than a no-hoper from the wrong side of the tracks… until he takes a job at the local supermarket and meets his boss, Dan, a university graduate and self-proclaimed shy, awkward bookworm.


Dan, older and burned from a past relationship, is the one person who sees through Micky’s tough-guy facade to the true heart underneath. With fear and mistrust on both sides, the two must steer their way through a complicated relationship where outside forces are determined to break them up at every turn.


Responsible Adult is a series about growing up and learning that falling in love always brings responsibility.

 
Excerpt from Misdemeanor
 

“You can join us if you like. Enough to go around.” Dan pointed at all the food and drink.


Micky looked down, licking his lips, but shook his head. He glanced at the play park and Dan followed his line of sight to see the blond bloke by the swings surrounded by a gaggle of girls, one of whom he picked up in a fireman’s carry and proceeded to slap her arse. Micky snorted and turned back to Dan.


“Thanks, but I got Flynn.” He scrunched up his legs, hugging his knees to his chest and hung the glass down over the top.


“Your parents not around then?” Dan asked, voice full of concern.


“Nah,” Micky said with a shrug. “Mum passed away. A while back now. And Dad’s, well, Dad’s not round so much anymore.”


“Workaholic?” Dan asked, almost hopeful.


“Something aholic, yeah,” Micky said. He shuffled his feet on the blanket, bunching it up and flattening it back down. “He’s just not good to be around Flynn.”


“So you take care of him by yourself?” Dan asked.


Micky nodded.


“Wow. That’s…” Dan searched for the word. Three years spent lovingly studying the English language hoping to come into good use this time. “Commendable.”


“Not really,” Micky said, ducking his head. “Any sibling would do it.”


“I don’t know about that, mate,” Dan said. “My big sister can be a right cow. She would’ve left me on a doorstep somewhere.”


Micky chuckled. He didn’t pay Dan much attention, choosing to watch Flynn and Tamsin as she spun him on the seated roundabout. Dan watched them, too, for a bit, before turning back to Micky.


“He’s a character,” Dan acknowledged. “There a reason he’s so small?”


Micky finally turned his attention on Dan. “Yeah,” he replied, voice tiny and tight. He scraped his teeth over his bottom lip several times, dragging away the congealed moisture forming over them. “He’s got a condition. He’s a little behind in years, too.”


“Oh,” Dan said. He might have that etched onto his gravestone. “What’s the condition?”


“Williams syndrome?” Micky replied, then, with a shrug, shook his head. “Don’t worry. No one’s ever heard of it. It’s pretty rare. One in twenty thousand or so.”


“Oh,” Dan said. Again. For fuck’s sake.


“So, yeah, I’m sorry about earlier. I probably snapped at you.” Micky twirled the glass in his hand. “The friendly thing. One of the things he’s lacking is any stranger danger. They’re a bit overly social, if you know what I mean. Susceptible to being taken advantage of. Scares the crap out of me.”


Micky dipped his head, shaking it from side to side. He shuffled again and Dan sensed he was clamming up after having been so forthcoming. Dan didn’t want Micky to stop talking. He was strangely fascinated by him. It wasn’t just that the bloke was nice to look at, which he evidently was. But his voice had an undertone of something more and Dan desperately wanted to find out what that was.


“How else does it affect him?” Dan wondered aloud.


“Multitude of things.” Micky exhaled. He took a deep breath before responding any further. “Medical stuff like a weak heart. Had two major heart surgeries as a baby. Will probably need another one in his lifetime. He has stomach troubles. Bowel issues. Weak muscles. The eyes. Teeth. Hyperthyroid. Plus he’s got learning difficulties.” Micky’s eyes glazed over as he swished the glass in his hand. “He’s an eternal child. Sees the world like it should be in a fairy tale, minus the evil characters. Everything is bright and beautiful and everyone is his friend.” Micky paused. “It’s a real shame that life isn’t like that. Because a world full of Flynns would be the one I wanna live in.”


Dan paused for a moment, trying to take it all in. What Micky said. Flynn. The condition. The ideal. And how Micky described it all.


“I’m sorry you’re dealing with all that by yourself,” Dan finally said. “I had no idea.”


He’d just been lusting after his body all week. Now Dan knew the bloke had a soft, loving and caring side, what the hell was that going to do to him now?

 

Author Bio

 

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.


Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly searches for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.


She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.


Having worked in Higher Education for most of her career, a life-altering experience brought pen back to paper after she’d written stories as a child but never had the confidence to show them to the world. Having embarked on this writing malarkey, C F White cannot stop. So strap in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride…


Website
Twitter
Facebook

 



In honour of Williams Syndrome Awareness Day, Pride Publishing are putting Misdemeanor, Hard Time and Reformed on a price promotion. You can get all three books at 99p/c each on Friday 18th May. Link here: https://www.pride-publishing.com/serial/responsible-adult, but you can also buy it at this price at most other retailers.

If you’d like to learn more about Williams Syndrome, then you can find out all the excellent work that the charities in both the UK and US do here:

www.williams-syndrome.org.uk
www.williams-syndrome.org

 
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