An Ali Audiobook Review: Crescendo (Song of the Fallen #2) by Rachel Haimowitz and Giles Barron (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bridging the hatred of centuries did not come easy for Freyrík Farr and Ayden Vaska. As prince of a war-torn human province, Freyrík could ill afford to fall for an enemy. And Ayden, an elven warrior with three hundred years of bitterness in his heart, wanted no part of love. Yet they came together despite themselves and the wills of their peoples, joining hearts and minds to fight a race of Dark Beasts threatening the extinction of mankind.

Yet the Dark Beast threat pales beside the dangers of a summons to the human High Court, home of the Aegis Exalted and the harshest test yet of Ayden’s and Freyrík’s fledgling love.

When the Aegis strips Ayden of his magic, Freyrík is forced to choose between his love for elf, Aegis, and king, all the while seeking the one uncertain path that might save his doomed race. Time is fast running out for mankind, and only by making peace amongst themselves and with their ancient elven enemies can they end the Dark war—and undo the tragedy that’s plagued humans, elves, and Dark Beasts alike for the last three hundred years.

This was an action packed and super emotional sequel to Song of the Fallen.  It picks up a few weeks after the end of the previous book.  They are headed to see the human king and when they arrive things go poorly.  Freyrick and Ayden are separated and Ayden is made a slave.  From this point on things go from bad to worse.
For much of the book the two are not together.  Freyrik is working through his own issues and how he feels about the behavior of other humans and Ayden is trying to figure out how to free the other elf slaves.  It wasn’t until the very end that I was sure things were going to work out for the two men.
I think this would have been a higher rated book for me if it weren’t for the rushed ending.  This was a pretty long book and as I previously said, the two MC’s weren’t together for much of the story.  Then all of a sudden we get an epilogue with a HEA.  It felt abrupt to me and I felt like between books one and two I had spent a lot of time with this couple.  I wanted more of the happy ending with them.
The audiobook was narrated by Giles Barron who I thought did a great job with both of the main characters as well as the many side characters.  This is not the same narrator as book one but it I took a really long time between them so this was not as issue for me.  I’m just noting it for people who are doing the books back to back. 
Overall I really enjoyed this book and felt it was a good conclusion to this story.  I highly enjoyed the audio version and would definitely recommend that.
This cover was done by Simone and I think the cover is really well done and it fits perfectly with the cover for book one.  
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 11 hours and 2 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Riptide Publishing Release Date: April 12, 2018
Language: English
ASIN: B07C325RN6

A Stella Review: Detour (Transportation #1) by Reesa Herberth  and Michelle Moore


RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Ethan Domani had planned the perfect graduation trip before tragedy put his life on hold. Smothered by survivor’s guilt and his close-knit family, he makes a break for the open road. He doesn’t know what he’s looking for, but he’s got the whole summer to figure out who he misses more: his boyfriend, or the person he thought he was. It’s just him and his memories . . . until he almost runs over a hitchhiker.

Nick Hamilton made some mistakes after his younger brother died. His violent ex-boyfriend was the most dangerous, and the one that got him shipped off to Camp Cornerstone’s pray-the-gay-away boot camp. His eighteenth birthday brings escape, and a close call with an idiot in a station wagon. Stranger danger aside, Nick’s homeless, broke, and alone. A ride with Ethan is the best option he’s got.

The creepy corners of roadside America have nothing on the darkness haunting Ethan and Nick. Every interstate brings them closer to uncharted emotional territory. When Nick’s past shows up in their rearview mirror, the detour might take them off the map altogether.

I loved the new release by these new to me authors, Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore. I first picked it brcause the blurb was so interesting and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed at all, on the contrary it was so much more. I wasn’t ready for me to be so engaged from the characters I quickly finished Detour. And for me spending just a couple of days for a book so long is not easy, that’s why I tend to choose books max 250 pages long.  Plus I usually don’t read about characters so young, I prefer my couple to at least being into their thirties. That’s to say, although the interesting blurb, Detour could have been a disaster to me.

Then it happens I found a story so well done I had to stay up late in the night.

In my opinion the main reason why I adored the book stand in the MCs. Sure, Nick and Ethan are very young, but they are not the usual eighteen years old boys with  nothing to worry about. Both of them, in different ways, already went through hell and they are not back yet. This trip they are taking (well, actually only Ethan is on his graduation trip, Nick sadly has nowhere to be) will try to heal their hearts and give both of them some hope, it will help them to overcome the deep grief they have.

So many details caught my heart and I confess more than once I shed a couple of tears, they way they lost themselves, how Nick is scared and angry, how Ethan feels guilty to have survived the death of his beloved boyfriend. Some scenes were so packed with emotions, I felt my heart ache for these young men. But the authors did a great job and at the end Detour is a light book, funny and sweet. I completely fell in love with Ethan and Nick, they were adorable and I so hope to have more about their happy ending.

The cover art by Kanaxa is not a winner to me, I usually like this artist works but this one is fitting but I don’t like it at all.

SALE LINKS  Riptide Publishing | Amazon


ebook, 339 pages

Published May 7th 2018 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN 1626497435 (ISBN13: 9781626497436)

Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Alpha Heat (Heat of Love #2) by Leta Blake


Rating 5 stars out of 5

I didn’t think it would be possible for this sequel to equal my enjoyment of Slow Heat but Alpha Heat met and surpassed it. I want more in this omegaverse where only male humans exist. They are either omega—the softer more feminine men who come on heat and bear children if their alpha impregnates them. Or they are beta—who mostly work either professionally or as servants. Betas aren’t affected by omega heats and rarely have a life partner who is bonded as an alpha and omega may be. Alphas are, of course, the more hirsute, take-charge, dominant men and choose an omega as a life partner unless they find their erosgape—their one true love and fated lifemate.

This story is about Xan Heelies, an alpha who really wants to be an omega. We first met the young man in Slow Heat. He was Jason’s college roommate and the man Jason was gaining his sexual experience with. Atypical for an alpha, Xan enjoyed being a bottom and he was heartbroken when Jason left him for his lifemate, Vale.

Xan has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders as his father’s heir, though he’s not his father’s favorite son. A few years have passed since the first book, and Xan has chosen Caleb as his omega life partner but he’s learned from the disaster of their first heat together that he can’t keep up with his omega in his deep heat so he seeks medical help from Dr. Urho Chase, the only doctor he can trust to tell that he’s “unmanned”—the term used in this universe to indicate an alpha who chooses to bottom for another alpha. Caleb, fortunately, is happy to stay with Xan because he’s asexual and Xan allows him freedom to be himself.

Dr. Urho Chase is the alpha who served Vale in Slow Heat through his heats until Vale found Jason, his erosgape. Urho lost his own erosgape and their infant a long time ago and it’s a loss he can never forget. Disdainful of Xan, a young man he knows has had sex with Jason in the past, he’s nevertheless insanely attracted to him, so he’s stayed away from him for both their sakes. Until one night when he spots Xan just after Xan has had a brutally rough sexual encounter, which could easily be labeled rape, and Urho’s heart and senses go on high alert in his need to protect Xan from this monster and from anyone else who might hurt him.

This is a love story between Xan and Urho that includes Caleb. Though Xan and Urho are sexually attracted and engage in sex—Urho calls Xan his alpha-shaped omega—their love surpasses sex and flows over into Xan’s and Caleb’s relationship where Urho is welcomed with open arms. Of course, this story is not simple at all. This is Leta Blake, so it’s complex, with a few subplots, one of which is a deadly flu that is taking down most of the citizens of their town. Jacob and Vale join Xan and Caleb at their new home in the north, where Xan is establishing a satellite for his father’s business. Naturally, Urho comes along, and thankfully he does, because with Vale’s advancing pregnancy and the flu epidemic finding them even in the remote locale, there’s plenty of drama to keep readers turning pages quickly.

In addition to the fantastic story and complex characterizations in this omegaverse, I loved the terminology the author created. My favorite example: “I can’t wait to see you with our babe in your arms, chestfeeding.” Chestfeeding! Loved it!

The story includes mpreg and knotting, which I know many MM readers love, and of course, there’s plenty of romance and sex. Near the beginning of the story, there is a brief scene of graphic sexual violence so those who may be triggered should be aware.

I’m not sure if the author is going to write more in this world but I would certainly stand in line for a chance to be one of the first to read it. As is obvious by my review, I very highly recommend this book.


The cover by Dar Albert of Wicked Strange Designs depicts a color photo of two bare-chested men embracing. It’s very attractive and fits the characters in this story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition
Published May 11th 2018 by Leta Blake Books
Original TitleAlpha Heat (Heat of Love #2)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHeat of Love #2

A Lila Audionook Review: Kill Game (Seven of Spades #1) by Cordelia Kingsbridge and Wyatt Baker (Narrator)


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Homicide detective Levi Abrams is barely holding his life together. He’s reeling from the fallout of a fatal shooting, and his relationship with his boyfriend is crumbling. The last thing he’s prepared for is a serial killer stalking the streets of Las Vegas. Or how he keeps getting thrown into the path of annoyingly charming bounty hunter Dominic Russo.

Dominic likes his life free of complications. That means no tangling with cops—especially prickly, uptight detectives. But when he stumbles across one of the Seven of Spades’s horrifying crime scenes, he can’t let go, despite Levi’s warnings to stay away.

The Seven of Spades is ruthless and always two moves ahead. Worst of all, they’ve taken a dangerously personal interest in Levi and Dominic. Forced to trust each other, the two men race to discover the killer’s identity, revealing hidden truths along the way and sparking a bond neither man expected. But that may not be enough to protect them.

This killer likes to play games, and the deck is not stacked in Levi and Dominic’s favor.

Kill Game is an interesting police procedural with a good amount of comedic relief & romance.  It’s not totally dark, but it has enough grim to make the reader guess the outcome. The book has a fulfilling ending, but as a series ends in a cliffhanger. Not enough to disappoint, but enough to want to listen to the next installment immediately.

I really enjoyed the main characters’ imperfections. Neither of them is a demi-god, superhero combo with perfect bodies or lives. They are down-to-earth men, truthful to their jobs and lovely with their friends and families. They wanted to do better for others even when their lives were less than perfect.

Their relationship is more than slow. By the end of the book they are finally coming to terms with their attraction, but even then, they took the time to get to know each other, providing the space they needed to be better before moving forward. I hope the next couple of books show us more of their relationship.

All the secondary characters were fleshed out and the victims interesting enough to carry the suspense angle. I like the Seven of Spades and the way it plays the game with Levi and Dom. Showing how much they learned from each other.

This is my first audiobook by Wyatt Baker and it didn’t work for me. I’m glad the story was solid and kept my interest. I had trouble following who was talking. At least, thanks to the author, I had enough clues to figure it out. Definitely, not looking forward to another of his narrations.

The cover by Garrett Leigh shows the main clue in the story and goes with the dark theme.

Sales Links:  Riptide | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Wyatt Baker
Length: 7 hours and 56 minutes

Published: April 20, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Riptide Publishing
Edition Language: English

Series: Seven of Spades
Book #1: Kill Game


Nicki Bennett on Research, Romance and her new story ‘Bad to the Bone’ (author guest blog)


Bad to the Bone by Nicki Bennett
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Nicki Bennett here today on tour for her new Dreamspun Desires story, Bad to the Bone.  Welcome, Nicki.




—Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Nicki Bennett Interview–

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I enjoy research so much that I have to be sure I stop eventually to actually write! But whether I’m writing historical novels such as the All for Love series or contemporary stories like Bad to the Bone, I want to be sure the details are accurate. When Ariel Tachna and I wrote Checkmate, we not only researched the Spanish Inquisition but also the distances between cities, how far a horse or carriage could travel in a day, and whether chocolate would be available tor Teodoro’s son Esteban to purchase in the local market (it would). For Bad to the Bone, I researched how Native American tribes use the income from their casinos, the Oklahoma juvenile justice system, what popular songs from 2007 the DJ might play at the Freeland High School reunion, and places where Ricky Lee could take Alex in Oklahoma City (which was so successful that now I want to visit there myself!)

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I hate killing characters off. When Ariel and I were writing Under the Skin, we set it aside for over a year because we’d worked ourselves into a place where we knew the only resolution was going to lead to a character’s death, and we didn’t want to do it. We tried and tried to come up with another solution, but we ultimately realized the only way to move forward was to write the scene the way it needed to play out, as painful as it was. Sometimes we’re more successful—while writing Checkmate, we needed someone for Teo to talk with while he was imprisoned by the Inquisition to avoid pages of internal thought. But by the time we were ready to rescue Teo, we realized we couldn’t leave his cellmate Javier to be killed! Fortunately Raul was able to save them both, and Javier went on to play a role in the next two books in the series.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m a romantic at heart—no surprise for a romance writer—and I want my characters to get their happy endings, no matter how long it takes. The Exploring Limits series may have started as a Happy for Now, and it took almost 250,000 words to give Jonathan, Kit, and Devon their Happy Ever After, but we got them there! There’s enough negative news in the world. I want my stories to leave readers feeling good.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I read a lot of everything—science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, nonfiction—but romances have always been my go-to escape reading. When I was a teen, I discovered Georgette Heyer and devoured everything she wrote, then went on to other Regency authors, though I’ve never found anyone to compare to her. In my twenties I went through category romances like popcorn—I had my Silhouette subscriptions, and I’d scrounge through secondhand bookstores looking for backlist titles by my favorite authors. When the Lord of the Rings films came out, I scoured the internet for fanfic, which soon led to my discovering slash fiction, and that eventually led to my reading, and ultimately writing, gay romance.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”? Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

At the beginning of Bad to the Bone, Alex Morrison, one of the two MCs, sees himself as a failure. He was the golden boy in high school—everyone was sure he was destined for NFL stardom. But injuries ended his college career, and he gave up the job he wanted to return home and take over the family business when his father got sick, which led to the breakup of his marriage. I think it’s very realistic that all those things could leave him feeling as if he hadn’t lived up to his potential, but I had to be careful not to make readers believe it too, or I risked making him unlikeable as a character. I hope I gave him enough good qualities to offset his lack of self-esteem, and that his friends and his sister are able to help him see those qualities in himself without turning into It’s a Wonderful Life.

What’s next for you as an author?

Ariel and I have started a series called Out and About, in which two friends start a business that organizes social events where LGBTQ+ singles can meet and mingle. Of course, you know that’s going to lead to romance! The first book, Out of Bounds, will come out this fall, and we have at least two more planned in the series. I also have ideas for several more Dreamspun Desires that I’m fleshing out to see if Dreamspinner is interested.


A second chance at first love—if he has the courage to take it.

Alex can’t think of himself as anything but a failure. In high school, he was on the fast track to a career in pro football when he forged an unlikely friendship with a half-Comanche boy from the wrong part of town, Ricky Lee Jennings. Their shared love of books could have grown into more—but a homophobic teammate attacked Ricky Lee, and Alex wouldn’t risk his scholarship to defend him. Ricky Lee was kicked out of school, and Alex never heard from him again.

Now Alex’s glory days are nothing but a memory. An injury ended his football aspirations, his marriage fell apart, and his dreams of making a difference as an environmental lobbyist are as dead as his fantasies of sports stardom.

But all that could change in one magical night, when Ricky Lee shows up at their high-school reunion.


“You have any preference on where to have dinner tonight?” Ricky Lee asked. “There’s a restaurant in the hotel, but it’s mostly burgers and sandwiches.”

“Freeland hasn’t exactly become a mecca of fine dining since you left.” Alex tilted his head, considering. “There’s not much unless you want to head up 44 to Lawton.” Stupid, Morrison, he told himself as soon as he said it. Remind him again of having to leave town.

“Maybe some other time,” Ricky Lee answered, and Alex could swear his deep voice went even huskier. “I think I’d rather stay close tonight.”

Alex hoped that was because he was tired from working on the build all morning and not because he’d put his foot in his mouth mentioning Lawton. At least it implies there may be another time. “Honestly, some of the best food in town is at the little mom-and-pop places along Wichita and Main. There’s a pretty good taqueria we could walk to from your hotel, or if you’ve had enough Mexican for the day, there’s the pizzeria, though they mostly do carryout.”

“Tacos sound good. Want to meet in the hotel lobby around six?”

“If you can wait until six thirty, that will give me time to help Alanna close up.”

“Works for me.” Ricky Lee unhooked his thumbs and took a step forward. “There’s just one more thing.” He moved even closer, backing Alex up against the ladders he’d just racked. “I’ve been wanting to do this all day.”

Ricky Lee lowered his head and brushed his lips against Alex’s. Alex drew in a startled breath, and Ricky Lee swallowed the exhale, closing his mouth over Alex’s. He raised his hands to grasp the shelves on either side of Alex’s head, pinning him in place—not that Alex made any move to get free. He clutched at Ricky Lee’s hips and opened himself to the kiss that bore as little resemblance to the innocent touch of eleven years ago as a wildfire did to the flicker of a birthday candle.

About the Author

Growing up in Chicago, Nicki Bennett spent every Saturday at the central library, losing herself in the world of books. A voracious reader, she eventually found it difficult to find enough of the kind of stories she liked to read and decided to start writing them herself.

You can find Nicki on her Facebook page:

A Free Dreamer Review: Strain (Strain #1) by Amelia C. Gormley


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In a world with little hope and no rules, the only thing they have to lose is themselves.

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. He’s spent years hiding from the virus that wiped out most of the human race, but an act of futile heroism has him counting down his remaining days. The timely arrival of superhuman soldiers offers some feeble hope–but only if Rhys can reconcile himself to doing what is necessary to take advantage of it.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little tenderness. His job is seeking out the infected to put them out of their misery, or sending the uninfected survivors to a safe haven where he and his fellow Juggernaut troops will never be welcomed. Rhys’s situation is different, though. Not only is there an improbable chance that Darius won’t have to put a bullet in Rhys’s head, but he has somehow managed to get under Darius’s skin.

The virus Rhys must infect himself with in order to survive is sexually transmitted, and optimizing his chance of exposure requires him to submit as often as possible to Darius–and the other soldiers. Though the boundaries of morality have shifted in this harsh new world, Darius and Rhys question whether their humanity is too high a price to pay for Rhys’s survival.

A warning before we begin: “Strain” is definitely not for the faint of heart. Aside from lots of explicit BDSM sex with dubious consent and big age gaps, you also find lots of explicit violence and gore and some scenes that would be considered rape under different circumstances.

At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this book. A disease that can only be cured by lots and lots of sex – that sounds a bit like an awfully cheap excuse for heaps and heaps of mindless sex, doesn’t it? Well, “Strain” was a big surprise in that regard. Sure, there’s heaps and heaps of sex. But the author did a great job at explaining everything and once you start, it all makes perfect sense. The whole thing is a clever part of world building that seemed very logical to me – not that I know all that much about medicine.

The world building was excellent and full of interesting details. It’s easy to get caught in this dark, dark future. Since the events of “Strain” aren’t too far into the future, you get a really good explanation for how we went from the world we know now to the world Amelia Gormley created. I’m a sucker for good world building and the author easily satisfied my curiosity.

Rhys’ reactions seemed very genuine to me. While he’s always been attracted to men, he’s never had the chance to explore his sexuality. He spent most of his life isolated from the rest of the world and years of homophobia from the extremely religious preacher and his power hungry son don’t exactly help him feel confident in his sexuality. So when he is forced to lose his virginity to a much older man that only has sex with him out of a sense of duty, he’s less than thrilled. But it’s his only chance at survival, so he doesn’t exactly have a choice. Rhys always remained true to himself; he didn’t just suddenly turn into a mindless sex maniac. The author painted a very convincing picture of his inner struggle and I found myself liking the boy from the start.

Darius was just as interesting. The whole thing isn’t exactly easy on him either. He tends to enjoy very kinky sex, but how could he do that to such a clueless boy? Not to mention he could easily hurt Rhys with his superior strength. He ends up feeling guilty because he just can’t keep his dominant side in check around the boy. And actually forming a real emotional connection terrifies him – if their wild plan doesn’t work out, he’ll be the one that will have to end his misery with a bullet.

The side characters were very well developed as well, with unique backstories and interesting behaviour.

Once Rhys actually started to accept his kinky side, the sex scenes got really hot. The author was very creative in that regard, coming up with lots of interesting little games.

The ending was a little predictable. My suspicions started around the middle of the book, but that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy every single page till the end. There was plenty of other plot to keep you occupied.

“Strain” is different. It’s dark, it’s kinky, there are some real concerns about consent and it is utterly brilliant and extremely addicting. If you’re in the mood for something dark and kinky with a brilliant plot, then go for it. Just beware of potential triggers.

The cover fits the story perfectly. It’s kind of creepy and makes you curious about the world.

Book details: Kindle Edition, 2. edition, 322 pages

Published April 20th 2018 first published February 15th 2014)

Marguerite Labbe on Convention Life and her new novel, A Little Side of Geek (Geek Life #1) by Marguerite Labbe (author guest blog)


A Little Side of Geek (Geek Life #1) by Marguerite Labbe
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Marguerite Labbe here today talking about her new release, A Little Side Of Geek, one of our highly recommended stories. Welcome, Margie!

Convention Life

Hello everyone. It’s so good to be back at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. The books in my Geek Life series follow the people who make up the comic book convention scene. I could probably write a dozen more book in this setting. Years ago, when our son was still little, my husband Keir decided that he was going to stop dreaming of making comics and commit to actually doing so. We started small, getting a table here and there as he continued his job as a social worker.

My sweet man has a degenerative heart condition and after several years we talked it over and had him quit doing the social work. The stress was too much for him and he became a full-time comic book artist and awesome stay-at-home Dad. We had been doing conventions several times a year, suddenly that became at least one a month, sometimes more. He got involved with a group called Artway Alliance run by the amazingly dedicated Eric Suggs. That allowed him to teach comic book art in various schools in the DMV area.

The two of us always said that by the time our son became an adult he’d either hate this life or be as big of a geek as us. Many weekends he was hauled out of town, stuck at a table for hours on end, hanging out with more adults than kids. One year we lost him at Awesome Con. If you’ve ever been to one of the mega cons you have an idea of how huge they are. As I was frantically going up one end of the con to the other looking for him with security I kept reminding myself that he personally knew a number of the vendors. He’d be able to find someone within a hundred yards. When we did finally find him, he looked at us like what’s the big deal.

In my books, Morris has a friend with a son like that. When he has to take a break from the table for whatever reason Jaydon will come by and guard it for him. My son got into cosplaying at the cons and now he’s old enough to be a volunteer and help out behind the scenes. He’s even a member of our podcast Role with Us so I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be a mega-geek.

It’s a fun life. You meet so many really creative, fun people. It’s also so much work and being naturally introverted it is exhausting. You have to get there early, set up your space, be on all day long, and then break it down again. If it’s a multiple day show you usually go out to dinner with your crew. There’s traveling. And all kinds of things involved. It’s funny because at work everyone seems to think I’m spending the weekend partying and wonder why I’m tired on Monday. It’s super fun, but it is work.

I haven’t done an excerpt in a bit, so how about one with Morris as he’s preparing to head out to a convention and contemplating his relationship with Theo. I hope you enjoy.


Morris rose and flipped on the TV, scrolling through his movie options. He put on Big Trouble in Little China. That was entertaining background noise and a movie he’d seen so often it wouldn’t pull away his attention from his work, but it would keep him from feeling lonely. When it was over, he’d text Theo.

When Morris finally finished the last of what he wanted to get done, his hand trembled and throbbed, his eyes stung with strain, and his back ached with the knots Theo had promised would end up in his muscles, but all of his projects were done. He carefully tucked away the images of Chessie, then found sleeves for the dozen new trading cards he’d sketched, inked, and colored. It was always good to have new material on the table, the quick trading cards as well as the books.

He shook his hand as he rose and stretched up on his toes, and for a moment the room spun. Morris leaned against the wall as his stomach growled and he realized how thirsty he was too. How long had it been since he’d eaten or had anything to drink? In the background, the TV droned on with the next late-night movie option.

He made his way into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water, downing the entire thing in one go. Then he pulled out a box of crackers and a can of spray cheese and munched as he considered his mostly empty fridge. He really needed to hit the grocery store on Sunday. This was pathetic.

Morris opened his freezer, looking for something to pop in his microwave, and frowned. He hadn’t realized how much food Theo had given him over the months. Instead of processed potpies, there were homemade empanadas. No more crappy but fast burritos, instead there were neatly labeled single-portion casseroles and soups. It was amoral.

Somehow, despite the plan that this was just a fling, they were beginning to blend their lives together. Morris even had his second-favorite sketch pad upstairs tucked against Theo’s couch. Scowling, he dug through the freezer until he found a frozen pizza. Maybe it wouldn’t taste as good as one of Theo’s creations, but it was the principle of the matter.

Morris ate a few more crackers and cheese while the pizza baked, pondering the problem of Theo. Cassie came into the kitchen, pausing to stretch each hind leg before coming over to Morris. He scooped her up. “Why’d you let Daddy sit all day and not eat?”

She gave him her special patented look that said quite plainly he was an idiot. “Yeah, I know. I must’ve remembered to feed you, though, or you never would’ve let me alone.” He glanced at her food and water dishes and noted they were half-full. As long as no part of the bottom of the bowl was visible beneath the kibble, Cassie was happy. But let one glint of silver show, and she was convinced Morris was starving her.

She accepted his nuzzling attention for a whole three minutes before wiggling to be let down. Morris crouched down with a sigh. “Fine, walk out on me. That’s been happening a lot today.”

He glanced at the ceiling. He couldn’t remember hearing anyone move around up there, but then again, he’d been in the zone. Lincoln could’ve broken out his sax and Morris never would’ve known.

Restless, he looked in the freezer again. The cheese and crackers weren’t cutting it. He could heat up some of Theo’s tomato basil soup; that would be done before the pizza. He hesitated and then grabbed the carton. He was too hungry to be picky over principles. It was soup, not a life decision.

By the time he finished eating the soup, his stomach was happier and the pizza was steaming on the stovetop. Gooey cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and extra-thick crust. Maybe not as good as a fresh one from Ledo’s, but it would do. As Morris cut it, he couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a homemade pizza Theo would make. He bet it would be awesome, whatever it was, probably have eggplant on it and it would still be good.

Morris leaned against the counter and bit into his first slice. The roof of his mouth was instantly scalded and Morris dropped the slice, swearing as he reached for a paper towel to spit into.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Somehow, the pizza on the floor seemed like a perfect metaphor for the day.

His hand ached, his brain was short-circuiting, and he was not in a good place. Grumbling, Morris picked up the slice and tossed it into the trash, then wiped up the mess he’d made. He glared at the rest of the pizza, his appetite for junk food gone. He wanted something home-cooked and comforting. Despite getting his work done, his day had sucked. He’d been stressed and upset, replaying his argument with Theo every time he paused to think.

He missed Theo. Maybe it wasn’t too late to go upstairs and say hi. And maybe apologize. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was apologizing, because there was no way he could’ve gone off with Theo for the afternoon, but maybe he could’ve handled it better.

Morris glanced at his watch. 4:00 a.m. Yeah, definitely too late. Fuck.

He eyeballed the rest of the pizza and sighed, going back into his freezer. He was being an idiot for no reason. His stomach knew what it really wanted. Not long after, he was sitting down to hot spanakopita manicotti, yeast rolls, and a tall glass of sweet tea.

He was willingly eating spinach in the wee hours of the morning. If that didn’t say something for Theo’s influence over him, Morris didn’t know what did. But damn, it tasted good. Maybe a little change in his life wasn’t such a bad thing.


When opposite worlds collide, it’s anyone’s game.

Proud geek and comic book artist Morris Proctor wants nothing more than to live in semiseclusion with his devil cat and gamer friends. Despite what his well-meaning family thinks, he’s perfectly content with his status quo. The last thing he needs is to date another nongeek hell-bent on changing him.

Then he meets his adorkable new neighbor, Theo Boarman, who doesn’t know Star Trek from Star Wars, but who tempts him like no other.

Theo has spent the last year recovering from the loss of his parents and trying to play both roles for his teenage brother, while working to keep the family restaurant afloat. Dating is the last thing on the menu, especially with a man who thinks the height of dining is shoving a packaged meal into the microwave.

But if Morris gives him one more shy smile or flaunts that kilt he wears so well, Theo will be forced to convince him that a hot summer fling is just the recipe to let off a little steam.

When that fling gets serious fast, Morris has to decide if he’s willing to give his heart to Theo on the chance that they’re a perfect mix.

About the Author

Marguerite Labbe has often been called both Trouble and Sunshine by those who know her. She’s not sure how she manages to make both those nicknames work together, but apparently she does. She’s a New Hampshire woman who married an Alabama man, an Air Force brat who has somehow managed to settle herself firmly in Southern Maryland, with one overgrown son and two crazy cats.

Marguerite loves to spin tales that cross genre lines, where stubborn men build lifelong ties of loyalty, friendship, and family no matter the odds thrown against them, and where love is found in unexpected places. She has won the Rainbow Award for Historical Romance with Fae Sutherland, as well as the Rainbow Award for Paranormal and the Rainbow Romance Award for Excellence, also in Paranormal.When she’s not working hard on writing new stories, she spends her time reading novels of all genres, enjoying role-playing and tabletop games with her friends, and helping out her husband with Apocrypha Comics Studio.

Review Tour and Giveaway for Alpha Heat by Leta Blake



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

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.

May 15 – The Novel Approach, OMG Reads
May 19 – Love Bytes, My Fiction Nook, Cupcakes & Bookshelves, Mainely Stories
May 20 – MM Good Book Reviews
May 21 – Making It Happen, Dog-Eared Daydreams
May 22 – Bayou Book Junkie
May 23 – Mirrigold, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Diverse Reader, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, V’s Reads, Oh My Shelves, Lillian Francis, Sexy Erotic Xciting, Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter, Gay Media Reviews
May 24 – Joyfully Jay

Check out Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words’ 5 star review here.
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.


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Release Blitz – No Luck by Kayleigh Sky (excerpt and giveaway)



Book Title: No Luck

Author: Kayleigh Sky

Publisher: Kiss Drunk Books

Cover Artist: Kayleigh Sky

Genre/s: Contemporary / Suspense

Length: 109,200 words/508 pages


It is a standalone story.


Careful what you wish for…

Close to landing a role in a sitcom he hopes will show his father he isn’t a failure, Vane Riley loses everything when his boyfriend dumps him and his father dies. With nowhere to turn, he heads home to regroup and help his sister, Rose, keep the family diner afloat. Trying to ease his grief with a guy in a bar seems like a good idea until the guy can’t get rid of him fast enough. The last thing Vane expects is for his one-night stand to appear at his dad’s funeral with a quirky tarot reader on his arm and a romantic history with Rose.

Doug Moore is a widower who isn’t ready to move on, but he can’t seem to get the clumsy guy he met the night before out of his thoughts. After helping Vane get back into the car he somehow locked himself out of, Doug figured he’d never see him again and can’t believe his lousy luck when Rose’s loser brother turns out to be the hookup he can’t stop thinking about. Doug is determined to keep his distance, but when Rose hires him to renovate the family home Vane is now living in, there’s not much chance of that happening.

Though Doug wants nothing more than to resist him, Vane ticks all his boxes. Clumsy, needy, sexy and… Oh yeah. Paranoid. Not for a minute does Doug believe somebody is out to hurt Vane despite the strange accidents that have befallen him since returning home, but Vane is sure somebody wants him dead.

Doug is solid and steady. Vane is emotional and imaginative. Nobody’s trying to kill him. Doug is sure of it…

At first.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited


The interior was dark, lit mostly by the glow of the TV.

Doug was pretty sure the guy at the table beside him was sound asleep. The dreariness of the place hit him out of the blue, and he had a feeling he was just punishing himself by staying. There were other places he could be, even sitting in a movie theater with Dorcas if he’d thought about it. But that ball of energy in his chest had brought him here.

He let his chair tip down just as the entrance door swung open and somebody in jeans and a jacket with a hoodie underneath stepped inand promptly tripped. After he righted himself, the guy fixed what had to be a glare at the raised section of weather stripping across the threshold.

Doug lifted his mug, laughing into it before he took a drink.

The newcomer headed to the bar and stood at the corner until the owner finished with another customer and turned to him. Doug couldn’t see the guy’s face in the shadows, but he heard the owner say, “Yeah?” in a surprised tone and a few words in return. “Real quick… couple miles.”

Doug doubted the owner responded to whatever the guy was talking about. A useful reply would need more than the “You gonna buy somethin’?” he came up with.

Doug finished his beer and kept his eye on them. Maybe the owner made the guy nervous because the money he dug out of his pocket flew everywhere but on the counter.


The almost curse rang loud and clear. Doug grinned as the guy chased the rolling coins, picked up a couple, turned around, and bent over again.

Nice. Cute little bottom in those worn-out jeans.

Doug watched him step back to the corner of the bar and count his coins. The owner shook his head. Doug sighed, guessing the guy didn’t have enough money and the owner wouldn’t cut him any slack. What an asshole. Doug wasn’t coming to this place anymore. It had always been sketchy, but now it was a dreary, low-class dump.

He stood and strode to the bar. “Another one. For him too.”

The guy raised his head from his pile of money, and Doug got his first good look at his face. He startled. “Jesus, are you okay?”

The guy frowned, looking cute as hell as he tried to figure out Doug’s question.

Doug pointed at his own cheek. The poor light hid a lot, but he thought the guy blushed. And then he… giggled. A real-live giggle. Doug couldn’t help but laugh. Of all the weird things. Though from the twitches running through the guy, his giggle was clearly a result of his nerves. Doug liked that. Meg had been shy too.


The words took a moment to register. Doug lifted the beer the bartender set down and motioned with his chin at the other one. The guy picked it up, nodded, and took a swallow. His sigh sounded happy.

“I didn’t think kicking people in the face was allowed,” Doug said. He didn’t for a minute believe the guy had gotten his bruises in a kickboxing match.

“Well, it was an accident. I’m kind of clumsy.”

No kidding. “Glad I have no interest in contact sports.” No, Doug was a baseball kind of guy and lazy about working out. His job was physical, and he put muscle on without even trying.

“I quit,” the guy said.

“Better part of valor,” Doug murmured.

A slow smile lit the guy’s face. “Caution is preferable to rash bravery,” he added to the quote. “You’re a Shakespeare fan.”

Doug hid his surprise with a nod. The guy was beautiful and charming and familiar, but Doug drew a blank trying to figure out where he’d seen him before. “Are you from around here?”

That changed things. The smile flattened, and the guy pulled back.

“Just visiting. My car broke down. Well, not actually broke down. I got out and dropped my keys.” He gave a blustery-sounding laugh. “Now I’m locked out.”

“I can jimmy it.”

The guy stared at him with his mouth half open. The pink of his tongue showed. Damn. Heat built between Doug’s legs. He shifted on his stool as his lust bloomed, a sensation he’d almost forgotten about. He hooked up with willing partners to expend some energy, but to be honest, attraction wasn’t usually a big part of it.

“Are you a car thief?” the guy asked, shrugging his jacket off.


The smile came back. “Just checking.”

The guy shifted to the stool between them and his hair swung, the dark ends brushing the tops of his shoulders. He tucked it behind his ears, then pushed up the sleeves of his hoodie. He had holes in his lobes but no earrings, and a tattoo of a sun done in black ink decorated the inside of a wrist.

Doug rocked forward, feeling the pressure on his balls, and set his elbow on the counter. “Drink up. I’ll take you to your car.”

The guy nodded. “That’d be great. I was going to call someone, but my phone’s broken.”

Of course it was. This guy screamed total disaster. “What’s your name?”

A whisper of a hesitation preceded his smile. “Ethan.”

Ethan. A nice name, but it wasn’t his. Or maybe it was his middle name. Interesting. Doug wasn’t afraid of him and didn’t think he was a psycho serial killer or anything. When it came down to it though, he probably couldn’t pick a serial killer out of a crowd to save his life. But this guy looked friendly, a little nervous, and a lot needy.

The perfect storm for Doug. He stuck out his hand. “I’m Doug.”

Warm fingers gripped his, and a jolt like a zap from a live wire shot up his arm and down his spine. Ethan’s mouth opened again, a slight part, the pink of his tongue a glimmer inside. “Nice to meet you, Doug.”

“You too.”

He wanted to do more than meet him though. He wanted to plant himself inside him. Ethan’s eyes widened as Doug stared at him, his pupils stretching to the edges of his irises. He flicked his lip with his tongue, picked up his beer, and chugged it.

“Want another?” Doug asked.

Ethan set his mug down. “Sure.”

Doug raised two fingers. “So whadda you do?”

“Write. I’m a writer.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Well, wannabe. I don’t have anything out, yet.”

“You will if you keep at it. That’s impressive. I have a tough time writing a two-page proposal.”

“What kind of proposal?”

“Job proposals. I own a construction company. We do mostly renos and additions.”

“Oh, that’s cool. Like the Property Brothers.”

Without the brother. Or the money. Or the fame. Doug nodded and pressed his lips into a smile. “Exactly.”

Ethan grinned. “I love those shows. I can barely use a hammer.”

“Somehow I think your thumbs thank you for not trying.”

Ethan gaped. Then he inhaled as though to speak but laughed first instead. “Okay. Okay. That’s probably true.”

His hand rested on the counter, and Doug wanted to touch it. The fingers lay flat, long, and slender. The thumb twitched, and Ethan curled it under his palm.

He was elegant and clumsy. And interested in Doug. Heat glowed in his eyes.

Doug pointed a finger at the beer. “Finish up. Let’s get out of here.”

Ethan swallowed. “Yeah. Okay.”

After he drank the rest of his beer and tugged his coat on, Doug gestured to the back door. “This way.”

They went down a short hall to a door painted the same black as the walls. Doug opened it and looked back. A hesitant smile greeted him and a flutter of panic stirred in Doug’s belly. Too sweet.

He knew with perfect certainty he should bail and also that he wasn’t going to.

About the Author

Kayleigh Sky is an m/m romance writer of complex stories of love and redemption that always end in happily ever after. Love matters, and everyone counts.


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