A MelanieM Review: From the Ashes (Boystown #6) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

It’s winter 1984. Private Investigator Nick Nowak has allowed his life to fall to pieces: He’s stopped taking cases, given up his apartment and taken a job as a bartender at a sleazy joint tucked under the El. All he wants to do is stay hidden and lick his wounds after the death of his lover, Detective Bert Harker.

But when the least likely person in the world shows up at the bar and asks him to take a new case, he finds himself investigating the very unsuspicious death of a priest. Nick is convinced he’s wasting his time until the clues begin to add up to something entirely unsuspected.

How does one come back from a self imposed mental and emotional death?  That’s the state that Nick Novak has put himself into after the devastating events of Murder Book (Boystown #5).  Shocked even by his own actions, Nick has given up his detection work, his apartment, and withdrawn from the few friends he had into a drunken isolation.

It takes the one person he leasts expects bringing him a case to finally draw him back into reevaluating his current affairs and where he thinks he can go from here.

Somebody needs to invent new adjectives for Marshall Thornton’s body of work. The ones we have just get overused because of novels like From the Ashes.  Words like “beautifully written, simply brilliant, and thought-provoking” are just not enough.

No, I’m not gushing.

Readers have been wondering what comes next for Nick.  How does he pick himself up?  Now we have our answer.  And it’s perfect.  Because it’s slow, punishing, and a surprise every step of the way.

Nothing is ever easy for this man. Life seems to just want to deliver the worst sort of  smackdown to him in every aspect of his life.  But eventually, up he gets.  Whether its his curiosity, or some ounce of self preservation, or determination not to let the “others” win…Nick somehow gets up and goes forward.

Thornton has always made us fall into step with this man.  Its not always been easy but we can’t help  ourselves.  Watching as Nick thinks or investigates his way through each murky, often seedy case is addictive.  So is watching the man work through his own issues past and  present (and there are many).  There are as many complications in Nick’s personal life as there are in his cases and often they overlap in surprising twisty ways.

That happens here again right from that start in the person who brings Nick the case that eventually jump starts his life again.  Of course, its going to get messy, dark, snarly, and bodies will appear.   But its also fundamentally about Nick’s loss and grieving.  It’s heartbreaking in so many ways.  Prepare yourself for that too.

Thornton uses Chicago’s many Catholic churches and parishes in this murder mystery and the fact that it’s parishioners often stayed with the  same parish and priest for years for Nick’s investigation.  It was fascinating and effective.  And I love the way the  entire story played out.

Thornton is a master at taking murder and suspense and weaving such heartfelt emotions throughout that at times you feel its so real, that Nick and the others are so much  flesh and blood, that it hurts in places to read on  (Murder Book is a prime example of that). That happens here too of course.

That we as readers have taken Nick into our hearts is due solely to Marshall Thornton, an author I love and highly recommend.  This book and series is but one place to start your introduction to him.

Yes, I highly recommend From the Ashes but its not a standalone.  It must be read in the order the books were written.  So start with the first collection and work your way here.  There’s also a terrific audiobook series, so start there if that’s more to your liking.

Cover art again is more about the emotions reflected inside and about branding the series.  I like the covers for the Pinx Video better.

Sales Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 198 pages
Published February 20th 2015 (first published December 1st 2013)
ASINB00R0HRH7A
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #6
Literary Awards Lambda Literary Award Nominee (2013)

Series:

Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER

Audiobook Release Blitz for Leaning Into the Look (Leaning Into Stories #6) by Lane Hayes and Narrator: Nick J. Russo (excerpt ad giveaway)

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Title:  Leaning Into the Look

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #6

Author: Lane Hayes

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Original Release Date: March 23, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 8 hours and 20 minutes

Genre: Romance, friends to lovers, San Francisco, humor, businessmen

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Synopsis

Grant Kostas made a career based on his looks before joining his family’s real estate firm. He may not love his job but he’s better at sales than he thought. And when he’s poised to bring in the biggest account of the company’s history, even his father is impressed. Unfortunately, the extra attention highlights Grant’s personal life. His parents accept that he’s gay. They just wish he’d meet a nice Greek man.

Miles Harrison is a fabulous red head going through a rough patch. Between getting dumped by his long-term boyfriend and finding a new place to live in the city, he’s nearing his wits end. He’s not sure why he thought rooming with his boss’s friend was a good idea. Miles has had a crush on Grant for years. However, he knows attractive people aren’t always pretty on the inside. As the two men grapple with external problems, they form an unexpected bond of friendship and trust that feels like the real thing. The only way to know for certain is to let go of fear and lean into the look.

Listen to an audio excerpt & purchase at Audible

Excerpt

I stopped short when we reached the other side of the street and then backed him against the brick façade of a bank building and pressed my lips over his. It was a bold move and not one I’d ever tried on any man in public before. But I couldn’t help myself. It felt oddly freeing to share one of the bleaker parts of my past with him. I wanted to thank him somehow but that seemed awkward so I kissed him instead. I held his head and glided my tongue alongside his, loving the moment when he flung his arms over my shoulders and responded with fervor. When we broke for air, I rested my forehead on his and grinned.

“Your ass is pretty spectacular too, Mi.”

He chuckled good-naturedly. “Thanks.”

“No really. I think I’m love with it.” I lowered my hands down his back and squeezed his cheeks as I molded his pelvis to mine.

“That’s kind of romantic. But if you’re thinking about falling in love with me too…don’t.”

I backed up slightly to get a better look at him. “Okay. I won’t.”

“Pinky promise.” He held up his right hand and wiggled his fingers.

“What makes you think you’re so irresistible?” I asked, wrapping my pinky finger around his.

“I’m not and you’ll figure it out sooner or later. But I like you and I want you and…”

“And what you’re really saying is you don’t want to fall for me.” I kept my tone light, hoping a jocular vibe would steer us from turning this into an uncomfortable conversation.

“Maybe.”

“Look, Mi. I’m not—”

“No. Listen. Don’t make this into a big deal. It’s not. We’re going to have a grand adventure. Just me and you. We’ll do incredible things and have amazing conversations and lots of sex. And when it’s time to say good-bye, we won’t ruin it by pretending we were ever in love. What do you say?”

Nothing. I had nothing to say. All I could think was maybe he really was crazy because who said shit like that?

But when I looked past the lighthearted swagger I saw the cracks in his armor. He was scared and battered and raw on the inside. Kind of like me. And somehow I had a feeling it wasn’t an ex-lover that made him so cautious. I only knew he was right. We were a couple of oddballs who unexpectedly found ourselves inhabiting the same circle. Temporarily.

But love? I should have walked away. Or at the very least, laughed at his wild leap. Instead I cocked my head and squinted. “What kind of adventures?”

Miles grinned. A slow-moving, gorgeous upturn of the lips that morphed into something celestial. He literally took my breath away. I hoped the dizziness faded before I gave him a reason to think it was a good thing he’d issued a warning about getting too attached.

“All kinds! We’ll turn this town upside down being one hundred percent ridiculous.”

“Okay…” I gave a half laugh and pushed a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “What do you have in mind? Dancing, parties—”

“No. More like Trivial Pursuit marathons, Netflix binge-watching fests in our Pjs, the compare and contrast game and—”

“The what?”

“Don’t worry. We’ll have fun. You’ll see,” he assured me earnestly as he laced our fingers together and pulled me away from the wall.

I glanced down at our joined hands and briefly thought about joking that he should be careful about giving me mixed signals. But I knew my limits. My comedic timing was crappy and the last thing I wanted was to push him away. I might not love Miles but I liked him. A lot. And holding his hand while we wandered through town under a sea of rainbow flags on a random Sunday felt special. The way new beginnings sometimes did.

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Meet the Narrator

Nick is an award winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane’s books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review’s Narrator of the Year – 2015. When he’s not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role playing game with his friends.

 

 

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Release Blitz for Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 40,603 words
 
Cover Design: Bree Archer
 
 
Blurb
 

When a Christmas shopping expedition brings Tomy Peralta into Jason Winters’s yarn store, both men feel an immediate and intense spark of attraction, but dance instructor Tomy intends to propose to his boyfriend, Sean, at Christmas. Unfortunately for Tomy, marriage isn’t on career-minded Sean’s agenda. Heartbroken, Tomy throws himself into his work until his mother convinces him that learning to knit might help take his mind off his failed romance.


Jason falls hard for Tomy, but he knows Tomy needs time to heal and to trust in love again. As Jason teaches Tomy to knit, Tomy teaches him to dance in return. Just when it seems Tomy is ready for a new romance, Sean shows up, wanting Tomy back. Will Tomy give his heart to Sean once more, or will Tomy finally see Sean for who he truly is, and choose the man who helped him knit his heart together again?

 
Excerpt
 

Chapter One


TOMY PERALTA opened the door of the yarn shop, feeling a little out of place as the cheerful ringing of the bell announced his presence in this unfamiliar territory. Stitchin’ Time was one of Mama and Lola’s favorite stores, but Tomy had never been here before himself, only heard about it when they gushed and cooed over the hand-dyed yarn they’d bought there.

The shop itself was large, and the rent in the fashionable Lenox Square area of Atlanta must have been enormous, but it had a surprisingly homey feel. Rather than traditional retail metal shelving, whoever had designed the interior had opted for wooden storage units, woven baskets, and what looked like enormous pasta racks dripping with hanks of yarn instead of spaghetti. There were also finished knitted and crocheted pieces displayed on the walls and on hangers at the ends of the shelves. There were the expected sweaters and scarves, of course, but also stuffed animals, knickknacks, and one intricately cabled afghan draped over the sofa where a group of gray-haired women were gathered, chatting and laughing. Several of them looked up when he entered, but he was greeted with friendly smiles rather than surprise.

The sales counter was visible from the door, a large wooden affair with more baskets of yarn and other knitting supplies stacked neatly around it. Behind the counter sat a man, square-jawed, blond, and broad-shouldered, working a set of knitting needles with amazing speed and agility. He, too, glanced up, smiling, and called out to Tomy in a deep, smooth Southern drawl.

“Hey! Welcome! Feel free to look around, and let me know if you need any help.”

Tomy gave the man an appreciative once-over. Sure, he had a boyfriend, and he hoped to be happily engaged after Christmas, but he could still look. Then he glanced around, briefly considering whether he ought to muddle through on his own, but he dismissed that thought. He was way out of his depth here, and he didn’t even know where to begin. Best to ask the professional rather than waste time wandering around utterly clueless.

“Actually, I do need some help,” he admitted, offering a sheepish smile as he approached the counter. “I want to buy something for my mother and sister, and I know they shop here a lot, but….” He looked around again and shrugged. “I have no idea where to start.”

The blond put his knitting aside—Tomy didn’t know what the item on the needles was, only that it was deep forest green—and stood up. He was tall, at least four inches over six feet, and up close, Tomy could see his eyes were a soft blue.

“I know that feeling,” he said. He moved out from behind the counter, walking with a slight but noticeable limp. “Who are your mother and sister? If they’re regulars, I can definitely help you with things I know they’d like.”

“My mother is Ana Lucia Peralta,” Tomy replied, trying to ignore the zing of wayward attraction he felt for the hunky knitter. He’d always been drawn to tall, burly blonds, much to his boyfriend’s dismay. Despite being tall, blond, and hot himself, Sean got jealous easily. He wouldn’t even let Tomy watch any of the superhero movies with Thor or Captain America in them when he was around. “My sister is Lola Barrett.” He picked up the tasseled end of the navy blue scarf he wore, which was an elaborate pattern of cables and bobbles. “Mama made this for me, if that helps. Lola made the hat,” he added, gesturing to the slouchy hat he wore, which had wide abstract colorwork stripes.

Hunky Knitter stepped closer and looked at the hat, smiling slightly, then picked up the end of Tomy’s scarf, running his fingers over the cabling. “Ah, yes. I remember when your mother bought the yarn for this. It was a special order. She wanted a particular shade of blue, and I dyed at least four batches before I managed to get the color she was picturing.”

“You dyed the yarn yourself?” Tomy gazed up at Hunky Knitter, impressed by his crafting skills. “Thanks, I really like the color. She wanted it to go with my coat, and I think it’s a perfect match,” he said, holding out his arms to show the pea coat he was wearing.

“So it is. I’m Jason, by the way.” Jason held out his hand, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled.

“Tomy Peralta,” Tomy said, enunciating his name to make it clear it was pronounced like Tony, not Tommy. “Nice to meet you.” He clasped Jason’s hand, which was warm. Jason’s grip was firm, the touch sending little tingles along Tomy’s arm, and he felt his knees wobble just a little. I have a boyfriend, and we’re very much in love, he reminded himself sternly.

“Nice to meet you too.” Jason released his hand with what Tomy thought might be a tiny bit of reluctance. “Yes, I dyed the yarn. I do custom work for people who want it, and I like to try out the various dyes and yarns just to see what they look like. I prefer not to sell or recommend things to my customers that I haven’t tried myself.”

“Are you the owner?” Tomy asked. He didn’t know many men who were into crafts, much less enough to own a shop devoted to crafting.

“Yes.” Jason’s grin became a little sheepish. “I know I don’t look like the kind of guy who’d own a yarn store, and to be honest, never in a million years did I think this is what I’d be doing, but I love it. I majored in marketing at Vanderbilt, but I was a football player. After graduation, I played in the NFL, but in my second season with the Falcons, I blew out my knee.” He slapped his right leg. “Had to get an artificial replacement, so it was goodbye, NFL. I started knitting during my rehab, and one thing led to another and… here I am.”

Tomy didn’t hear any trace of self-pity in Jason’s voice, only a matter-of-factness that implied he’d had to explain his situation before. Tomy imagined an ex-football player turned yarn shop owner got a lot of questions about his life choices.

“Who taught you to knit?” he asked, voicing the first question that popped into his head. Of all the therapeutic exercises in existence, he wondered how knitting ended up being Jason’s choice. “I know it has a lot of therapeutic value, but not for knees.”

Jason laughed. “It was mental therapy, mostly. Moving hurt, but sitting almost hurt more. My mother got tired of me always moving restlessly whenever I was in a room, so she taught me how to knit as a form of distraction. If I had something in my hands to occupy me, I tended not to dwell on the pain in my knee as much.”

“That makes sense.” Tomy nodded, and then he noticed the ladies on the sofa were watching them with avid interest. He knew matchmakers when he saw them, and he cleared his throat and took a step back so they wouldn’t get the wrong idea. “Anyway, presents? I’m open to suggestions. I have no idea what they might want or need, but I want to get them something they’ll really like this year, not just a gift card.”

“Of course.” Jason nodded, suddenly all business. “I know there’s a set of knitting needles your sister has had her eye on for a while. They’re rosewood. Your mother has indicated she’d like to knit an afghan for her sofa, and so perhaps a pattern and the yarn for it? I recently dyed a batch of a bulky superwash wool in tonal greens I think she’d like. That might run a little more than you’d like to spend, though.”

“Sounds perfect!” Tomy smiled widely, pleased with the suggestions. “Do you know which pattern she’s interested in, or is there a pattern book she might like? I don’t care how much it costs.” He gave a sheepish shrug. “I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging or anything. It’s just that I want this to be a special Christmas. I’m planning to propose to my boyfriend, and I want everyone to be as happy as I am. I guess that sounds silly, but joy to the world, right?”

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


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


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

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