A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn/Kirt Graves (Narrator

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire – if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the sociology department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least, not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk his heart when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

Any hockey romance is an autoread or listen for me.  I just can’t help myself, especially so one by author Avon Gale.  So I was really looking forward to listening to the new audiobook, Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn as narrated by Kirt Graves.

The first in a new series, I’m hoping it follows others in the Atlanta Venom team because several come across just as layered and interested as Tristan.  Tristan actually is my favorite character here, thoughtful, big hearted, intelligent, and sexy.  What’s not to love?  In comparison, professor Sebastian, who is older, comes off as judgmental, temperamental, and not as easy to connect with.  Oh, yes, and he’s a bit of a Dom.  Not that he’s not believable, Sebastian is, its just that he’s not so easy to like at first.

It’s lust at first sight, the liking comes later.  For both the characters and the reader.  At least for me.

As always, the hockey element is amazing.  From the interplay on ice to the team dynamics, the  game comes live and the love for all aspects of hockey is something that you can just feel as an active ingredient in this wonderful story.  It’s the foundation, framework, and spice that adds energy to everything that happens here.

The characters are so solid that even the supporting secondary cast feel just as noteworthy as Tristan and Sebastian.  You want to know more about each and every person you come in contact with and hope that new stories that arrive happen to bring these people further under the microscope.

I loved the romance, as stressful and argumentative as it got at times.  The authors made it, well, if not easy, then each characters perspective accessible.  Together the men are hot and sexy, the D/s was something they were exploring together as Tristan was new to the idea of a submissive role.  The heat factor here?  Off the charts.

Kirt Graves handled all of the roles and voices beautifully, no matter the gender.  It was easy to differentiate each character, and he made the story flow quickly.  I will definitely seek out more stories narrated by him.

Now I can’t wait for the next in the series.  Doesn’t matter whether it is the eBook or audiobook version.  I may want both.

In the meantime, I highly recommend this audiobook version for all lovers of contemporary romance with a hockey base.

 

Cover art is perfect.  Love the bench and the player with his skates.

Sales Links:    Audible

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 7 hours and 53 minutes

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published October 30th 2017)
ASINB07D2JH1XZ
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHat Trick #1
CharactersTristan Holt, Sebastian Cruz, Ryu Mori, Trevor Morley, Daniel Bellamy settingAtlanta, Georgia (United States)

A MelanieM Review: Pack Up Your Troubles by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4. 75 stars out of 5

A collection of WWI stories from Charlie Cochrane.

THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE
An officer thinks he finds love in the trenches, but is it really waiting for him on the home front?

HALLOWED GROUND
A doctor and an army chaplain spend the night in a foxhole and discover there’s hope even in the darkest situations

MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION
And an old soldier discovers that there are romantic problems to solve even after you’ve cashed in your chips.

If you have ever read any of Charlie Cochrane’s historical novels, you know not only of her intense interest in WWI but her incredible ability to bring it vividly to life. To take not only the years that encompass WWI but those that preceded it as well as the years afterward where the impact on the survivors who came in many forms, and those who remembered shaped the course of many nations and weave it memorably into her stories.

When it comes to WWI and the men who went to battle, whether they were officers or those on the front line, she takes us into their lives in the trenches.  We feel their fear, their hopes, the lives shattered in a split second and get that war is ugly, anonymous, and death has many faces.  We feel both the intimacy of the men and their yearning for home.

And their fear for it as well.

All of that makes THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE my favorite story of the three. Five stars plus as it takes us directly into the battlefield as well as the mens live before and post war.  It’s grim, the men undergo live changing experiences, and loss.  The characters are people we hurt for, believe in, and finally feel relief and happiness there at the end.  It’s an amazing story and so well written you can almost hear the sounds of battle ringing in your ears.

Next up is my second  favorite, also because of the realism and ability of the author to open her character’s up and expose their vulnerabilities…to each other and her readers in such a way that’s touching and authentic given the circumstances.  Such a moving story.  Again 5 stars for HALLOWED GROUND.  The author got the inspiration from visiting a chapel and those details carry over into the story.

The stories go from the most grim and realistic working their way towards an almost supernatural story,  MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION, that’s hard to describe.  Here the author plays with the lines between the afterlife and the living and two soldiers from different eras with a mission to accomplish.  It’s lighter in tone with WWI still but for me, there were some missing elements as the end where we didn’t find out what happened to a character or two. So  the addition of this story with the other two just didn’t completely work for me.

Now I know from the author’s guest blog that the three stories titles all came from WWI poems.  If you’re interested, check out more of Charlie Cochrane’s guest post on the subject here.  I myself am a fan of Siegfried Sassoon, another WWI author and poet as well as Wilfred Owen who the author loves so much.

I highly recommend this remarkable collection as well as the other historical novels by Charlie Cochrane.  The author has a way of putting you next to these men, letting you feel their experiences, empathize with their conditions and lives that will leave an impact on you long after the book is over.

Cover art is  perfection with the use of poppies,a symbol of Remembrance from famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.  against the white background.  Blood red.  Haunting indeed.

Sales Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 9th 2018 by Williams & Whiting
ASINB07CZKTX6G

A Stella Review: Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R Cooper

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

 

Jerry Candelario, known as Potts to almost everyone, has spent his entire adult life focused on raising his siblings and his niece. But the home he fought hard to make feels empty since everyone has grown up and moved out, and his precious baby niece is now a teen with a life of her own. With fewer people at the dinner table every night, Jerry suddenly has all the time in the world to think about what he wants. For years, Jerry has kept to himself, never going to college, never dating or doing anything with his evenings except getting lost in a book. But although he pushed aside his longing for community and romance, he never stopped imagining the freedom he might have in a distant someday. Then kind, clever, and out Lincoln Lee opened a bakery in Jerry’s small town. Jerry told himself he was lucky when they became friends. He was too busy to try for a relationship, and someone like Lincoln would never want someone like him anyway. But now that Jerry’s nights are free, all he wants to do is spend them with Lincoln. Jerry knows nothing about gay culture, or dating, or being in love. With Lincoln, he wants to try, but is he making a fool of himself or is his someday finally here?

 

Oh, this story! I could reread it a thousand times and it will always give me the same lovely emotions. Maybe because I understand Potts so well, maybe because Lincoln’s patience is what I look for in my lovers, maybe simply because the book is wonderful.

I have to say, although my relationship with the author previous works is a hit or miss, my love for her words continues and with this new release I was hugely rewarded. There was nothing I didn’t like in Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut, I found everything perfectly put in the right place and moment, every scene so well balanced with feelings, smiles and some tears. I soon emphasized with all the characters, I loved them all and so wanted to have them in my RL. Potts’ family is a mess, but his love for his sister, nice and dad is endless and so deep, it came strongly through his words and thoughts. He put himself and his needs before all his family’s needs and now for once he seems ready to start thinking just a little about his desire for Lincoln.

I adored their relationship, how Lincoln was so welcoming and open with Potts, although sometimes he seemed to be resigned to be just a friend and nothing more, he never gave up on the possibility to be loved as more than just a friend.

I want to recommend this new release by R. Cooper to everyone who is looking for a story deeply packed with feelings and positivity, It’s a light quick read but not a shallow one, not even for a second. Most of all it felt real and believable. Well done!

The cover art by Erin Gamble is lovely, fitting and kind of soft like the story is.

SALE LINKS:  Amazon   

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition

Published June 2nd 2018

ASIN B07DH5B7CW

Edition Language English

 

An Alisa Release Day Review: Mystic Man by E.J. Russell

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

When a series of personal crises prompt risk-averse research librarian Aaron Templeton to apply for a job on the other side of the country, nobody is more surprised than he is. He nearly runs home before the final interview except for one little problem: he has no home anymore. He put his condo on the market before he left California and it’s already sold. Only an encounter with free-spirited Connecticut native Cody Brown at the Mystic Seaport Museum staves off Aaron’s incipient panic attack.

Cody loves nothing better than introducing newcomers to the great features of his beloved home state, and when the newbie in question is a rumpled professorial type with the saddest blue eyes on the planet? Score! The attraction between the two men deepens as they explore Cody’s favorite spots, but when difficulties arise and Aaron’s insecurities threaten to overwhelm him, will Cody’s love be enough to keep him in Mystic?

This was a cute story.  Aaron has stepped so far outside of his comfort zone with his rash decision and Cody helps to take his mind off it.  Cody loves with his whole self and jumps in with his both feet but why does Aaron make him doubt he wants to travel again.

I could feel Aaron’s fear when he would think about the situation he is in and how Cody’s ease seemed to seep into him and help him relax and take his mind off his worries but when it overwhelms him he hurts Cody and himself.  Cody loves his home but has been a bit of a wanderer and hasn’t ever doubted how he feels until he meets Aaron and it make him want to change his plans.  These two help to balance each other out and even hope that they can have a future together.  I loved seeing them navigate their feelings and work everything out.

The cover art by Brooke Albrecht is great and gives a nice view of Cody.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages

Published: June 22, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-639-9

Edition Language: English

Andrew Grey on the Inspiration behind The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever (guest blog)

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The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art: Bree Archer

Sales Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey on tour for his new release, The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever.  Welcome, Andrew.

Dominic and I love to travel.  We both really do.  We take a winter vacation and try to take a summer one as well.  For the winter one, we usually go on a cruise and its one of those vacations that inspired Best Worst Honeymoon.  The snorkeling and fun on the water were all things Dominic and I did the last time we visited Bonaire.   And as I write this post I am sitting in a hotel room in Rome.  Dominic and I spent the day seeing some of the sites including the coliseum and ancient ruins.  At dinner tonight I was just telling Dominic that I have an idea for a new story, set here in Rome!  Dang I need to go on vacation more so I can get even more ideas.

Blurb/Synopsis:

How can heartbreak turn into happily ever after?

Tommy Gordon is all set for happily ever after—until heartbreak strikes when his husband-to-be leaves him at the altar. In a bid for distraction, his best friend, Grayson Phillips, suggests he takes advantage of the luxury honeymoon anyway! But the last thing Tommy wants is to go alone, so he invites Grayson and his son, Petey, along.

Beautiful Bonaire lends itself to romance, and along with close quarters, relaxing on the water, and a matchmaking kid, Tommy and Grayson soon find themselves closer than ever… and considering more, much to Grayson’s delight. But before they can plan the best best honeymoon ever, dark clouds descend in the form of Tommy’s ex and a sting from paradise that could ruin everything.

Excerpt:

Tommy took a deep breath and went to the door. Grayson stopped him and pointed to one of the chairs. Tommy sat down, trying not to hyperventilate.

“Xavier, what are you doing?”

“I need to talk to Tommy,” Xavier said, sounding like shit.

Grayson turned to him, and Tommy lifted his gaze, nodding. Clearly there was something wrong and he needed to deal with it. Whatever plans he’d made were most likely out the window anyway. He certainly hadn’t envisioned a drunk, hung-over groom.

Grayson stepped back, pulling open the door, and Xavier half stumbled in, looking worse than Tommy could ever have imagined.

“What the heck happened?” He hurried over, but Xavier stopped him by putting up his hand. “Are you sick?”

“I’m fine,” Xavier managed to say, slowly sitting himself down. “Gary and I went out as sort of a last hurrah, and we overdid it.” He raised his face, and Tommy got a good look at his glassy eyes.

“Okay. We still have time. Grayson and I can help you get ready,” Tommy said gently.

Xavier shook his head of thick black hair, and then his deep brown eyes cleared of some of their rumminess. “I can’t do this. The wedding and everything that you’ve got planned. It’s too much.” Xavier sat back as all the oxygen seemed to leave the room. Tommy’s head grew light, and fuck it all, he was going to faint, but Grayson was there, holding his arm. “You want more than I think I can give.”

“You waited to tell him now, twenty minutes before the wedding?” Grayson yelled. “You bastard!”

“I’ve spent the last few days trying to think about what I was going to do.” Xavier hiccupped, and his alcohol breath was enough to knock over an elephant. “I thought if I drank and told myself that I loved you and that I really wanted to do this, everything would be all right. But it isn’t true, and I can’t go through with this.” Xavier got to his feet, half stumbled toward the door, and pulled it open. “I’ll see you around.” He left and closed the door with a click after him.

Tommy watched, openmouthed, too stunned to move. The room had turned bone chillingly cold. “What did he just tell me? That he didn’t love me?” He couldn’t feel his fingers, and then his hands and feet went numb. He tried to think of what he was going to do, but nothing at all came to mind.

“Uncle Tommy,” Petey called as he raced into the room, practically barreling into him. “I saw Uncle Xavier and he looked sick. What’s wrong?” Petey looked at him and then turned to Grayson.

“Uncle Tommy isn’t going to get married. Xavier chickened out and wasn’t man enough to tell Uncle Tommy until right now.” The anger in Grayson’s voice simmered just below the surface. “What he really needs is a hug.”

Petey climbed up on the chair, stood up, and hugged Tommy, and Tommy closed his eyes, willing the rest of the world to go away.

About the Author:

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

Release Day Blitz for Something About You by Riley Hart (excerpt and giveaway)

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 Something About You RDB Banner

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU

RILEY HART

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 06.19.18

Something About You Cover

COVER DESIGN: X-Potion Designs

PHOTOGRAPHER: Wilson Models

 

BLURB

Lucky Tyler Holloway has never felt particularly lucky. Frankly, he’s about as regular as can be. He works construction with his brothers, loves his small-town life, and shares a close bond with his family—especially his grandmother. Okay, so maybe he has a few secrets in his closet, like his bisexuality…and that other thing he doesn’t talk about… Maybe that’s why he’s always felt a little like an outsider.

Grayson St. Claire has it all: a dream job in LA, money, freedom. Saint has no attachments, which is just the way he likes it. Still, he’d be lying if he didn’t admit he missed his deceased parents who were the only family he had… Until he gets an e-mail from some guy named Tyler revealing the existence of a grandmother he’s never met, and prompting Saint to drop everything to drive across the country.

Saint and Tyler couldn’t be more different. Tyler hates the guy on sight, but there’s something about Tyler that gets under Saint’s skin. It’s not until they get to know one another that everything begins to change. But the Holloways and St. Claire’s have secrets, and their pasts are tied together in tragic ways they don’t know about. The odds are stacked against them and between their distance and their differences, Lucky and Saint have to admit that love alone might not be enough.

Goodreads – Something About You

Something-About-You---Teaser-3

Something-About-You---Teaser-4

EXCERPT

Fuck. He really hated Sienna right now. But the truth was, Tyler was attracted to Saint, and he sort of hated himself for it. Saint represented everything that annoyed the shit out of Tyler. He was arrogant and full of himself. He had money, and he wanted everyone to know it. He obviously had a grudge against or didn’t understand small-town life. They were too different, so the attraction didn’t make much sense. You don’t have to know or like someone to think they’re sexy. Ugh. Truth.

He shifted uncomfortably. “You’re crazy. I don’t even like the guy.”

“And?” Sienna asked. “Since when do we have to like someone to be attracted to them? I know you’re Mr. Nice Guy, but hate sex is some of the best sex you can have. Billy and I—”

“Can you not?” Tyler cut her off. “I don’t want to hear any more about your sex life with Billy, and there’s no chance I’d have sex with Saint—hate sex or not.” Jesus, were they really going to do this? “Plus…even if I wanted to have sex with him—which again, I don’t—I’m not into fucking someone I don’t like, especially the first time I’m with a man, and I’m sure he’s straight anyway.” Just like everyone assumed Tyler was straight…and he had himself until he’d admitted the attractions he’d felt.

He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation. He wanted to go back to before he’d admitted to Sienna he thought he might be bi. Well, he was pretty sure he was obviously bi. But it just felt…strange to have this conversation with her. To discuss his sexuality, which he was still working through himself, a sexuality he hadn’t yet explored outside of a kiss. How in the world did someone know if another man was gay or bi anyway? Hell, the man who kissed him had done it without any confirmation from Tyler. How had he known it wasn’t a quick way to get his ass beat—or worse?

Sienna reached over and patted his thigh. “Oh, my dear, sweet friend. You are so innocent sometimes. He was totally checking you out.”

“He was?” slipped out before Tyler could hold it back. “I mean, I don’t care if he was. I’m not interested. This isn’t a game to me, Si.”

She sighed, and he could see the guilt in her eyes. “You think I don’t know that? I want you to have every experience, though.” She moved the bowl from between them and leaned against his side. Tyler wrapped his arm around her, Sienna’s head in the crook. “I’m sorry. I know I’m a little much sometimes. I definitely don’t want to push away the one person who always stays. I don’t know what I’d ever do without you.”

“Hey.” He tilted her head toward him. “I’m not the only one who stays, and I’d never leave you. I hope you’re not talking about Billy either. You walked away from him, and you should have. That’s nothing on you.”

“I know. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” She snuggled into him again, and he thought, not for the first time, how much easier life would be if he were in love with Sienna. Not just because she was a woman. There were other single women in town, and if he were interested, he could date them. He had dated some of them, but he and Sienna had always gotten each other on a different level. They understood each other and cared about each other. They had fun together, but anything other than friendship wasn’t there between them. Not on Tyler’s side, nor hers.

“I don’t ever want anything to hold you back. You’re the best person I know. Why shouldn’t you have every experience possible? Why shouldn’t you know what it’s like to be with a man? And he’s sort of the perfect person because he’s leaving and he wants to jump your bones. I could see it.”

Riley Hart Logo 3

Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic, a lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together.

She loves reading, flawed characters, and hanging out with her husband and children, who she adores. She and her family live in Southern California, soaking up the sunshine while also missing seasons. Not a day goes by that she isn’t thankful she gets to wake up and do what she loves.

Life is good. Riley also writes young adult and new adult under the name Nyrae Dawn.

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