An Ali Audiobook Review: Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers #1) by RJ Scott and VL Locey/Sean Crisden (Narrator)

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The Rowe Brothers are famous hockey hotshots, but as the youngest of the trio, Tennant has always had to play against his brothers’ reputations. To get out of their shadows, and against their advice, he accepts a trade to the Harrisburg Railers, where he runs into Jared Madsen. Mads is an old family friend and his brother’s one-time teammate. Mads is Tennant’s new coach. And Mads is the sexiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.
Jared Madsen’s hockey career was cut short by a fault in his heart, but coaching keeps him close to the game. When Ten is traded to the team, his carefully organized world is thrown into chaos. Nine years his junior and his best friend’s brother, he knows Ten is strictly off-limits, but as soon as he sees Ten’s moves, on and off the ice, he knows that his heart could get him into trouble again.
Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters?
I’m a big hockey fan so I try to read all the hockey romances out there.  This series is one that has been on my to be read list for awhile now so I was happy to have the chance to review the audiobook.  It was kind of a mixed bag for me.  There were some things I really liked about this and some that I didn’t.
I can’t believe I believe I’m going to say these words but “There was way too much hockey in this book”. There is an enormous amount of game and practice time in this book and lot’s and lot’s of plays and strategies  talk. I felt like this aspect overshadowed the relationship.  There is very little on page relationship development.  The majority of them getting close to each other takes place off page.  We see them having sex, them with their families and mostly them playing or practicing.
I’m not sure why the authors chose to have the majority of the relationship development off page.  There were some other relationship dynamics that were excellent.  Really well written.  Ten’s coming out scene with his parents and later a scene between him and his mother were beautiful.  There was also a scene between Jared and his son that was very emotional.  I felt so much more between Jared and Ten and their family than I did between the two of them as lovers.  There was a lot of telling and very little showing between the two of them.
Another thing that bothered me a lot was the fact that Jared was Ten’s coach and it was never really presented as an issue.  Jared mentions it at the beginning but this thread is never followed up on.  They talked about Ten coming out and how it would effect him being a professional sports player but no one seemed to bat an eye that he was having sex with his coach.  I think it’s a huge deal and should have been presented at such.
My last issue was that it ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. The guys are together and happy but a giant part of the plot is left hanging.  I felt a bit annoyed that after all the talk of Ten coming out we don’t see any of it. It seems from the set up of book two that it might be shown some there but I am not sure.
The audio was narrated by Sean Crisden and I thought it was fine.  I liked his voice but he spoke very quickly and I wasn’t always sure who was talking.  I had to slow the narration down from how I normally listen.  Once I did that it worked better for me.
Overall I thought it was a solid start to the series.  I appreciated the authors’ love of hockey that clearly comes through in this book.  While I had some issues I will probably try book two at some point.
Cover by Meredith Russell:  I like the cover.  The models on the cover really fit the description of the main characters well.
Buy Links: Audible US | Audible UK
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, Unabridged, 6 pages
Published July 25th 2018 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published July 12th 2017)
Original TitleChanging Lines
ASINB07FTRYXFF
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHarrisburg Railers #1 settingHarrisburg, Pennsylvania (United States)
Pennsylvania (United States)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Denying Fate (A Series of Fates #1) by C.C. Dado

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Fate is a funny thing. Some try to cut its threads, while others wrap themselves in it like a blanket.

Young wolf shifter Max is cocky and crass. Unlike others his age, he has yet to discover a talent that will serve his pack. Since childhood, he’s been convinced the pack alpha is his mate, but Alpha Christian cannot envision unfiltered and directionless Max taking the place of his elegant mother at the head of the pack. As Max begins to build a life with his best friend, he also begins to see that maybe what he thought was inevitable was all in his head, and it’s time to move on.

Or are they both denying fate?

I must admit I really enjoyed the way this story started out.  The potential for humor, the real exuberance the flashes through the character of Max that I had really seen before in a young were just captivated me.  A young shifter so sure he knew that the Alpha was his mate that he calls him nicknames in a car after being rescued!  Irrepressible!  A total but he’s my boyfriend…sort of thing when no one else believes him.  He’s young effervescent, and you get it.  Plus he has Seth his best friend as a support and listening block.

From the way it started out, I was sure  I was in for a real special story.  But unfortunately the author either just couldn’t  or wouldn’t sustain this or the other plot (not the one that had anything to do with the bonding) so overtook the character of Max that it dimmed what made him so original.  He become another sweet young were but without the sparkle that had me anticipating this story.  That was gone.

Instead the whole story took a quick turn into a narrative road tread by many where the Alpha recognized the bond etc. Another drama ensued, everything felt extremely rushed and, while I honestly liked the characters of Max and Seth still, I felt some real promise was lost here.

The character of Christian, the Alpha, comes across as little better than a stand in which is a shame because Max deserves the best.  Trust me you’ll agree with me on this one.

There is a whole sweet element about a bakery shop. Nice but could have been used for more time developing the relationship between Christian and Max which was  basically nonexistent.  The best relationship here is between Max and his best friend Seth, that’s deep, believable, and real.  That’s what the bakery element contains…its all Max and Seth. Go figure.

So I gave this story a 3 rating because I liked the characters of Max and Seth.  There is really little development to the relationship between the romantic leads and zero sex.  There is tons of bromance between friends.  If I think about the plot, I will reduce the rating because of all the holes I will have to mention.  But the bromance?  Totally sweet.  I only wish that the original sighting of Max had lasted until the end.  Boy, was he special.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  It’s a beautiful cover but again.  It doesn’t really fit this story in anyway other than throwing that paw print in there.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 83 pages
Expected publication: August 31st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640807297
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesA Series of Fates #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Patience (Forbes Mates #2) by Grace R. Duncan and Chistopher Boucher (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Jamie Ryan literally runs into the man of his dreams. Jamie has shifted to his wolf form earlier than he expected, and while it’s rare, it’s dangerous in the city where humans may see. It’s also dangerous for the wolf when authorities spot him—authorities in the form of the local animal control officer. In his effort to creep away from the man with the long, looped pole, he’s gobsmacked by the scent of the human he meets.

Chad Sutton is a darn good detective—a former cop and now PI—and he reacts quickly to help the dog when his instincts tell him he needs to save the poor guy. Little did he know his wolfie-looking dog is a cute young man who happens to be a shifter. Chad doesn’t react poorly when confronted with the evidence as Jamie shifts to human. In fact, he’s quite accepting of everything Jamie tells him—including the fact that he’s Jamie’s mate.

The two get along very well immediately and Chad is totally accepting of the concept of a mate and the fact that it’s a man. The main thrust of the story is whether or not a mate bite will harm or kill Chad. Together, they research whatever they can find out from pack leaders, past and present, and ultimately the headquarters in Rome. Though Chad immediately emotionally accepted Jamie as his mate, whether or not he can handle the physical bite is something Jamie worries about. Actually, I found it odd that he easily accepted not only Jamie’s bond with him but he adapted to man-on-man sex quite easily. There was a bit of an explanation later in the story but for a man who never considered either a mate or sex with a man, this was a bit difficult to accept. And add to that the fact that Chad’s mother was also totally accepting and even enthusiastic, that segment of the audiobook required a stretch of the imagination until the author later explained his mother’s background.

Without going into further detail, I’ll simply say that this is one of those stories without a lot of outside conflict—inner turmoil? yes—outer conflict?—no. It’s a sweet tale and a smooth ride to love for these men. Christopher Boucher did a great job with the variety of voices and gave both Jamie and Chad distinct voices so it was easy to follow on audio.

This can be read as a standalone, even though a few characters from book one return in cameo roles. Their presence is fully explained, making it easy to follow on its own.

The cover by Reese Dante features two men cuddled together with a white wolf superimposed in the foreground. It’s attractive and well represents the essence of this love story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio,Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins

Published July 26th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published March 7th 2016)
Original TitlePatience
ASINB07FV1CJ3K
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesForbes Mates #2

A Free Dreamer Review: Dawn (Expedition 63 #3) by T.A. Creech

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Sequel to Expedition 63 Book 2: Dark

Yakecen Sinohui can see the end in sight for the stranded crew of the Station. Each breath is a countdown until they’re able to return to Earth, until the poison clouds have cleared enough to leave. Though it’s a bad idea, Yakecen is drawn into the orbit of their resident biologist, Eli, someone who has kept Yakecen’s head in the game with his sunny presence.

The universe, however, has one last middle finger to give the weary crew.

Eli Palamo doesn’t object to Yakecen’s covert attention. He’s pined for his friend from the first moment they met, and isolation has strengthened their bond as the hardships forced them lean on each other completely. Yakecen is all he’s ever wanted. Nothing will be enough to tear them apart, if Eli has anything to say about it, not even Yakecen’s own demons. Definitely not the end of their disastrous mission and their fight for survival.

“Dawn” is the third and most probably final part of the “Expedition 63” series. While each book features a different couple, I don’t think it will work as a stand-alone.

Just like the two previous books, I found “Dawn” too short and shallow for my likes. The setting is fascinating and has great potential but the execution just kind of fell flat for me.

This time, Eli and Yakecen are paired off, the last two singles on the station. There are some hints that Yakecen has faced abuse in the past. He’s very particular about personal space, loud noises and intimacy. He also seems to have some physical scars. We never find out what kind of abuse he faced, though. Really, we learn next to nothing about either of our MCs, only small bits and pieces but not enough to make them feel like real people with actual depth.

The relationship felt very rushed. Which is odd, because they’ve known each other for years and were stuck on the small space station for three whole years. But the book is so short, and there was need for some actual plot in the second part, I guess there just wasn’t time for any kind of build-up. We don’t learn much about these two in the previous books, so that’s no help either.

The action in the second half was actually kind of exciting. Quite dramatic, certainly. Again, I wish it had gotten more depth, though. As such, it was all a mad rush with very few details.

I’m assuming this will be the final part of the series, since there’s nobody left to pair off. As such, I found the ending kind of dissatisfactory. There were just too many unanswered questions left. I’d love a fourth book for some kind of closure, but I don’t think there will be one.

Overall, the “Expedition 63” series was an okay read for me. Great potential, but lacking in the execution. It was all too short and shallow and “Dawn” was probably my least favourite of the three.

I’m still not a fan of the cover. Once again, the space station and the planet underneath are gorgeous, but the guy just looks like an alien. At least it fits with the rest of the series.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 101 pages
Published July 28th 2018 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07FSGDZJN
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesExpedition 63 #3

Julie Lynn Hayes on Writing, Influences and her new release ‘No Way Out’ (author interview)

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No Way Out by Julie Lynn Hayes

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Christine Coffee

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Julie Lynn Hayes here today talking about writing, influences, and her new release No Way Out. Welcome, Julie.

 

♦︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Julie Lynn Hayes

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think it depends on the character, some of them are more me than others. And some are nothing like me at all. With some characters, it’s more like playing a part than being myself.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to play a character?

I don’t believe Mary Sues/Gary Stus are based on a person’s experiences as much as on what the author wishes were there experiences. I believe those types of characters typify an impossible perfect ideal which is utterly realistic and has a tendency to get on the reader’s nerves, at least in my experience. They know everything, can do everything, and never fail. Plus they have no redeeming qualities that would make you love them. So, just ugh.

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

I wouldn’t say research plays a role. I write whatever genre calls to me at any given time. However, I do have to admit I love research, being a history major, so that is never a problem. Although I do have to look up things that are not historical as well, just to make sure I have my facts straight. For example, a particular geography or botany or food. I love creating worlds as well and building them from scratch.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

No, because when I was a teenager, there was no m/m romance like there is now, and if there had been, without the Internet, there would have been no way to find it.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer HEA to HFN, I have to admit. An HFN feels incomplete, like my characters are settling instead of finding true happiness. But sometimes it happens, especially in a series. However I do try to rectify that in the next book. I don’t do HFN very often.

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

I started reading teen-age level romances when I was still in grade school and loved them. I read romances throughout my teen years, and when I was older, I was introduced to the “bodice ripper” romances. I don’t read romances as much any more, usually m/m, but I do enjoy a good Regency.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I still write fanfiction from time to time, and lately I’ve been playing in the world of Hamilton. I’d like to write some stories about a young Burr and Hamilton, because I love history, and do something with that. I also have a number of WIPs to work on, as well as more books in my Rose and Thorne series.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Now and growing up?

As a writer, I think my major influences have been William Faulkner and PG Wodehouse. As a result, I’m wordy and have a dry sense of humor lol Growing up, I read a lot of the classics, so maybe my influences would be Emily Bronte and Jane Austen.

  • 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?

To say someone is so flawed that they cannot be considered a love interest is to say they aren’t worthy of being loved. I would never say that. Besides, we all know people, whether friends or relatives or people we see on TV, who are with partners that makes us shake our heads and ask what they see in that person? Love works in mysterious ways.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain? To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? Why do you write?

I think my love of writing grew from my love of reading. I started reading when I was two. Even now, I read constantly, whether it’s a book, or my computer screen, the back of a box of cereal or billboards on the highway. My head is populated with characters, some I haven’t met you. I like to look around me and observe, or sometimes I’m inspired by something I hear, whether a bit of conversation or a song lyric. My mind asks what if, and I begin to imagine a story where none existed. I enjoy exploring these characters and their lives, I enjoy putting just the right words together, even if I have to polish the same scene over and over to get it right. I love words and stories, and there are a million of them out there, if not more. I can’t imagine not writing.

Blurb

Wyatt Findley is an up-and-coming artist, attending a prestigious art institute in St. Louis. His mentor, Lukas Callahan, has snagged a sweet house-sitting job for him in a gorgeous home in a well-to-do part of town. Wyatt notices two men who live just across the street. They make an odd couple, since there must be a good twenty years difference between them. And yet there is something about the younger man that calls to Wyatt 

Shylor Lind has been living with Randy Grant for fifteen years, ever since Grant hired Shy’s mother as his live-in housekeeper. But five years ago, their relationship changed when Shy’s mother sold him to Grant and took the money and ran. Since then, Randy has been training Shy in how to be his submissive, dominating him in every way.  There is nothing Shy can do about the situation, and he has nowhere to go, no one to turn to.

And then Wyatt enters his life… and nothing will ever be the same, as Wyatt engages in a battle for Shy’s very soul.

The author is donating 10% of the royalties from this book to No Kid Hungry. Visit nokidhungry.org for more information about this organization.

Buy link

Dreamspinner https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/no-way-out-by-julie-lynn-hayes-9831-b

 

About the Author

Julie Lynn Hayes lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah, who is a grad student at the University of Illinois. She first began to write over fifty years ago, and doesn’t see that stopping anytime soon. She likes to write in different genres, to stretch herself in order to see what is possible. When someone tells her something can’t be done, she feels compelled to do it. Much of her writing is in the m/m romance category.

When she isn’t writing, or working at her day job with a third party elevator inspection company, she enjoys crafts, such as cross stitch and crochet, and watching her favorite programs. Her favorite chef is Geoffrey Zakarian, and her favorite historical character is Aaron Burr—she is obsessed with all things Hamilton!  Never say never is her motto!

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Blog Tour for He is Mine by Mel Gough (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: He is Mine

Author: Mel Gough

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh, Black Jazz Design

Genre/s: M/M psychological romance (with M/F elements)

Release Date: September 7, 2018

Buy links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Universal Amazon Buy Link

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Mel Gough here today talking about writing, romance and their new release He is Mine.  Welcome, Mel.

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Mel Gough ~

 

Why did you choose to write GLBTQ romance? Why not another genre?

I started out in fanfiction. After a period of writing bad Fantasy stories in my teens, that was my first foray into fiction writing. A lot of fanfiction is M/M romance, where you take two male characters from the canon of a show or movie (or book, anime, game etc.) and pair them up. It’s a great playground to learn the craft, and I really enjoyed writing those stories. I like reading about vulnerable characters, and people taking care of each other, and it was a new way of looking at some really tough guys and making them more real. I wrote some fanfic that had female characters, too, but I felt more drawn to the M/M pairings. My guys are often bisexual, I think that’s one of the main things in my writing that bleeds over from real life.

Do you write any other genre?

I love reading a wide variety of genres, including (these days) hard SciFi, horror and crime/mystery. I don’t think I could write space opera-style SciFi because I’m not terribly good at world-building and feel intimidated by those who do it so well (Ursula LeGuin is one of my all-time favourites). But I have plans to expand into crime/mystery in one of my next projects, and I have a very strong plot bunny for a dystopian story. Both of these still have a M/M romance focus, though. The great thing about stories involving relationships is that you can fit that in with other themes.

Describe a scene in your writing that has made you laugh or cry?

I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s one scene in He is Mine where Brad experiences a very personal loss, and that scene was really hard to write. I tried to conjure up the saddest memories I have to get a feeling for how he feels in that scene. It still makes me tear up when I read it now.

Give the readers a brief summary of your latest book or WIP.

I’m here today to promote He is Mine, so I’ll talk about that. It’s my first full-length novel that I’m self-publishing, and it comes out as ebook on Amazon (it’s in Kindle Unlimited) and paperback from all the major retailers, on September 7.

He is Mine is the story of three people who find themselves in a slightly different ménage – Vivienne Aubert is a successful Hollywood actress who is married to an up-and-coming director. While shooting a movie in Las Vegas, she sets her eyes on one of her co-stars, Damien Thomas.

In New York, NYPD detective Brad Moretti is struggling with heartache over a recent breakup. When Damien returns home to New York after filming the movie, he and Brad cross paths. A bit of bad luck brings them together again, and they hit it off.

When Vivienne, who has pursued Damien to New York, finds out about Brad and Damien she’s less than thrilled, and sets out to win Damien for herself, becoming more and more divorced from reality in the process. There’s a definite fatal attraction, bunny boiler vibe to the story, and it was a terrific experience to write a character like her.

What genre does it fall in?

It’s definitely M/M romance, but with a lot of dark twists. It’s suspenseful, with a strong emphasis on psychological themes. All three main characters are quite flawed, but it’s not just black and while. Viv is a very strong antagonist, but this is also very much her story and she has a definite journey throughout the book – it’s just not a very wholesome path she travels.

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.

I started out as a pantser, but as I learned more about writing I’ve also learned how to make plotting work for me. I realized that I did a lot of plotting in my head anyway, just never very structured. Now I sit down and make an overview of the entire book before I start writing. I like to use index cards because you can move them around and easily replace any that don’t work.

He is Mine actually mostly happened without those aides, but for the book I’m editing right now I did a lot of plotting and research. When I look at the cards now, I can see the outline that’s the backbone of the book, but most of the details have changed in the writing process. I think the secret is to find a way to plan without getting too rigid and stifling the creative process.

What was the last book you read? What did you like about it?

I have to make a plug here for a writer I recently discovered and love more than I can put into words. His name is Marshall Thornton and he writes mostly mysteries with gay main characters. I love a good mystery, and I have an especially persistent weakness for gay investigators and law enforcement officers (Josh Lanyon is one of my other faves). Marshall has a knack to write absolutely realistic and believable characters, fantastically realistic sex scenes and gritty settings that just come at you from the page. His Boystown series, set in Chicago in the early Eighties, is by far the best thing I’ve read this year! I can’t wait for the next installment!

 

 

Blurb

For you, it was just a fling. For me, so much more…

NYPD detective Brad Moretti’s life is in tatters. A relationship destroyed by his boyfriend’s bipolar disorder has left him feeling guilty, inadequate and emotionally scarred.

Vivienne Aubert seems to have it all – a Hollywood career, supermodel looks, and a director husband about to make it big. And yet, a one-night-stand with rising superstar Damien Thomas makes Viv wonder if she hasn’t settled for second-best. Used to getting her way, she embarks on a ruthless quest to make Damien hers.

Unaware of Viv’s fatal attraction, Damien returns to New York, where a chance encounter with Brad sparks a prompt and rapidly growing affinity between the two men – which Viv is determined to terminate.

Can Brad head off her delusional desires before she destroys his newfound happiness, or will he fail to protect yet another lover?

Excerpt 

Chapter 1 is on Mel Gough’s website

or read it here:

Chapter 1

Brad stretches and rubs his eyes. He squints up at the ceiling; the first rays of morning light just start to creep along the plaster above his head. He sighs. This is his weekend off; his next shift isn’t until Monday. But he’s an early riser by design more than by desire. As if the day can’t start without you, Aiden used to mock him.

Aiden. Like every morning these last two weeks, Brad stretches his arm across the mattress, finding the sheets cold and undisturbed. He can see the empty pillow from the corner of his eye without moving his head. An equally empty spot in his heart aches in response.

Nothing has changed in the last eight hours. It still hurts. That fact established, Brad rolls out of bed. As he pads into the bathroom, he thinks about his very short To Do list for the day. A couple of phone calls to return, gym, then lunch. He promised to meet Maria, his friend since his high school days in Baltimore, at their favorite sushi place. While he pees, Brad contemplates whether to cancel that date. But he’s made excuses to Maria for two weeks; unless he meets her soon of his own free will she’ll send a search party. Going to Hibino will be less painful than another week of ignoring her texts and calls.

Brad steps over to the sink to brush his teeth. He hates to drink coffee before his mouth is clean, so he always makes time for two rounds with the electric toothbrush. Aiden used to roll his eyes at what he considers a waste of toothpaste.

As he moves the oscillating bristles from one side to the other, Brad studies his face in the mirror. His spirits plummet. Even after a good night’s sleep there are dark circles under his chronic fatigue-dulled brown eyes, and his skin is sallow. Ever since Aiden walked out on him, each good night’s sleep is followed by two or three with hardly any. And it’s no use kidding himself. The last few weeks, he feels much older than thirty-seven, and the lack of sleep shows.

Not that his face would ever have won a beauty contest. His jaw is too square, and his brows are too full. Combined with the crooked nose, broken in a bar brawl during his first year on the beat in Baltimore and never properly set, he looks like the worst cliché of an Italian gangster. On better days, he tries to cultivate the image of sophisticated athlete, but lately that doesn’t even convince him.

Grimacing at his reflection, Brad spits out the toothpaste and rinses his mouth. With wet hands, he brushes over his short dark hair to flatten it into a semblance of order. On his way back into the bedroom he grimaces again.

What he sees hanging over the bed is another reminder of Aiden, the biggest and most obnoxious of them all. The huge canvas was a sore spot between them from the moment Aiden bought it from his friend three years ago. “Kyle’s the next Jackson Pollock,” he’d enthused, his eyes bright with what Brad hadn’t yet clocked as maniacal exuberance. “In five years, this will be worth a fortune!”

All Brad has ever seen there on his wall is ten feet by five feet of blotches and untidy scrawls. He just doesn’t get it. As he leaves the bedroom and descends the stairs, he makes up his mind. That wannabe Picasso needs to go.

Over coffee, Brad’s mood improves. Out of the kitchen window it looks to be a brilliant, warm day, much nicer than they have any right to expect in mid-March. Sipping his strong, black coffee, Brad decides he will meet Maria. She’s his closest friend, and she deserves to hear his sorry tale, as much as he can bring himself to share. She’s a good listener, even if she has a way of twisting his arm into revealing much more than he intends.

He also decides not to skip breakfast, which has become another bad habit. If he doesn’t eat something now he’ll be ravenous and irritable long before lunchtime. His mood swings are bad enough.

After a bowl of fruit, cereal, and yogurt, Brad gets dressed in his workout clothes. The gym is a five-minute walk from his brownstone on Garfield Place he’d never be able to afford on his salary. When his batty Aunt Hedda died six years ago, Brad inherited her house and a small life insurance settlement, enough to foot the renovations and ensure he’ll get a more comfortable retirement than a career with the NYPD can provide.

After a strenuous workout at the gym, he would usually exchange a few words with the other regulars in the locker room while getting dressed, but ever since Aiden left, words don’t come so easily. And Brad needs to conserve the ones he does have for Maria, who won’t let him off the hook until she has as much detail about the breakup as possible.

Back home, Brad sends a few texts to friends who have left frantic and worried messages these last two weeks, apologizing and promising to call soon. He returns a call to his dentist, who wants to reschedule an appointment, puts in a load of laundry, and straightens up a bit before acknowledging that he’s all out of excuses for putting off one more call. Standing in the kitchen, he dials Aiden’s number from memory.

Brad expects the call to go to voicemail, but to his surprise Aiden picks up on the fourth ring.

“Brad.” Even on the one word, Brad can hear the coldness.

A flustered silence follows. Brad hasn’t prepared for anything other than leaving a brief voicemail message. He casts around for some niceties. “Hey, uh… hi, Aiden. You okay?”

“Since when do you care?”

“’Course I do…” Brad’s legs feel shaky. He hadn’t expected Aiden to be so hostile. He pushes himself away from the kitchen counter and goes into the living room, where he drops onto the sofa.

“What do you want?” Aiden asks. The man Brad met five years ago, who could easily fill their whole day with chitchat, is gone. Brad should’ve realized it, but it still hurts. And he deserves Aiden’s hatred.

“I, err…” Brad clears his throat. “That painting in the bedroom… I was wondering…”

“You want to be rid of it.” Aiden knows him well. Brad can hear his breathing get heavy and fast, and his heart aches. He’s hurt Aiden yet again.

Maybe he can take it back. But before Brad can backpedal, Aiden speaks again. “No problem. You home tonight?”

“Yeah.” The thought of seeing Aiden gives Brad a knot of dread in the pit of his stomach.

“I’ll have someone pick it up then. Six okay?”

Aiden’s voice is emotionless. Brad’s stomach drops. Aiden won’t come himself. He can’t decide if that’s worse than seeing him.

Being excluded from Aiden’s hurt is new, and it stings. They know each other’s emotional life intimately, and Aiden’s refusal to show his anger and pain shakes Brad. It hits home: There’s really no way back.

“Sure…”

“Was there something else?” Aiden sounds impatient. He wants this conversation to end. Brad rubs his face.

“No, I… no, there wasn’t.”

“Good.” Aiden’s relief is palpable.

“Bye,” Brad says, but the line is dead before he gets the word out. He drops the phone into his lap. What did he expect? Aiden never wants to see him again, and Brad can’t blame him. But it hurts. Unbidden, the last words he said to Aiden’s face return for him to dwell on once again. You destroyed us, and I don’t have the energy to put us back together again. Not anymore. 

He rubs his face and gives himself a shake. Then he looks around the room. It’s not just the painting; Aiden is still everywhere in the house. The green wall paint, the strange, antique-shop floor lamps, the sofa cushions — all were chosen by Aiden and paid for by Brad. He’ll have to at least get rid of the lamps and the cushions.

With a sigh, Brad gets up to change for his lunch date. Maybe Maria will agree to help him redecorate the house.

About the Author

Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.

If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.

Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.

In her day job, Mel works as PA and office manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.

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Book Blitz and Giveaway – Patchwork Paradise by Indra Vaughn

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Dar Albert
 
Length: 205 pages
 
Blurb



Oliver and Samuel’s relationship is fairy-tale perfect. They share a gorgeous house in Antwerp, go out with their friends every weekend, and count down the days to their dream wedding. But their happy ending is shattered one late night, and just like that, Ollie is left bereft and alone.


The months that follow are long and dark, but slowly Ollie emerges from his grief. He even braves the waters of online dating, though deep down he doesn’t believe he can find that connection again. He doesn’t think to look for love right in front of him: his bisexual friend Thomas, the gentle giant with a kind heart and sad eyes who’s wanted him all along.


When Thomas suddenly discovers he has a son who needs him, he’s ill prepared. Ollie opens up his house—Sam’s house—and lets them in. Ollie doesn’t know what scares him more: the responsibility of caring for a baby, or the way Thomas is steadily winning his heart. It will take all the courage he has to discover whether or not fairy tales can happen for real.

 
Author Bio
 

After living in Michigan, USA for seven wonderful years, Indra Vaughn returned back to her Belgian roots. There she will continue to consume herbal tea, do yoga wherever the mat fits, and devour books while single parenting a little boy and working as a nurse.

 

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A VVivacious Audiobook Review: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton and Matthew Shaw (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Robby Riverton is a rising star of the stage. He is on his way to something big when Robby witnesses a murder committed by a notorious gangster know to be meticulous enough to leave no witnesses alive. Robby’s life changes in a single moment leaving him to flee all he has ever known to live in obscurity.

Trace Crabtree is the Sheriff of Flat Bottom and he finds himself getting bored with his life. On a trip to Santa Fe, he comes across a woman being hassled by two men as he interferes he finds out that the woman is a mail-order bride intended for his little brother. But, as he soon finds out the mail-order bride isn’t who she says she is or more precisely isn’t who he says he is

Firstly, I have to commend Mathew Shaw’s narration. It was so good. The narrator’s voice has a lot of influence on how you perceive an audiobook, it could make an average book good or worse depending on the narration. But, this was definitely one book in which it made a great book greater. Mathew Shaw was amazing. He did different accents for every character which made it even better. I especially loved his accent for Marcy, it was so very unique and the accent became the embodiment of how the character spoke in my mind which is something I have never given much thought to despite how unique and identifying voices can be. There is definitely something to be said about someone whispering a story in your ear though expositions can be particularly torturous in audiobooks.

On the whole, this story is very entertaining. I definitely had some laugh-out moments with this one and this story just kept me amused and feeling all the feels as the story went about its twists and turns.

I really enjoyed the story but there is something that just niggles at the back of my mind with this one which is wholly responsible for the docked half star. Robby plays a woman for the better half of this book. It is only at the very beginning and nearing the end that he is himself. A lot of the times all the characters view Robby as a woman and thus perceive and act accordingly. There is a point in this book where Robby stands up for Emmie and Marcy and points out very tactfully and decisively that they be treated better. At this point, I must confess that the point he brings out also includes the family’s manner and their shoddy attire which is actually for the benefit of everyone. But, still this particular point makes me a bit ill at ease, on the outside, Rowena standing up for the woman is something daring, brave and amazing but we as the readers know it is a man standing up for the women. This scene was one in which the image of the scene as seen by the characters held more significance than as that seen by the readers, because a woman fighting for the rights of other women when a woman’s rights weren’t always guaranteed is different than if a man already assured of his rights fights for the same. It’s just different at least from my perspective so I put it out there. This was the one thing that really made me re-assess my view on the storyline and in a way, I am really glad that Trace knew that Robby was Rowena all throughout, so such situations wouldn’t bias his POV. Also, since the author doesn’t pursue this avenue further and even manages to rectify it to some extent by the end, does help matters.

Also, it’s sometimes weird when you want a 2018 happy ending to a 1860s storyline. So, I had to swallow that down because the author stays true to the era. Not that there isn’t a happy ending, there is, it’s just different to what I would have wanted. This story really has me conflicted at times for some reason I am thrusting my own version of a happy ending on Robby’s happy ending. The author does justice to both her characters but for some stupid reason, I feel disappointed because that is not the ending I personally wanted for me… as these two. It’s complicated. God, this book really messed me up. It’s almost like I was Robby living with the Crabtrees and I just wanted him to continue on like that forever irrespective of the dis-service it would be to his own character. I feel like I put myself in Robby’s place a little too much.

Anyhow those idiosyncrasies aside (that probably anyone who isn’t me wouldn’t have even noticed), this book is truly amazing, hilarious and all around entertaining. I loved how Robby faces so many hurdles as best as he can adapting and trying to make the World a better place. It’s amazing what he is able to do for the Crabtrees and Clovis. That conversation that Rowena has with Clovis about manners is like a warm ray of sunshine, I wanted to snuggle in it. I loved Rowena’s interactions with Pa-pa and especially with Marcy and Emmie. I kind of loved the trio these three made.

I really loved the real Miss Rowena Fairchild, Robby as Rowena, Emmie and Marcy. Emmie, Marcy and Clovis were such amazing people and I whole-heartedly feel in love with these characters.

Trace was someone who I didn’t like when the book began but somehow slowly but steadily without me even realising it I had been won over, as at the end of the book I was shocked to realise that I had started out pretty cold towards Trace.

Trace and Robby were so good. There was so much to overcome when it came to Trace’s view on relationships, particularly those between two men an I liked how the author stayed true to the 19th century in that regard. But, I loved how well Robby and Trace were together and how inevitable.

All things considered, this book is an amazing read. It was so much fun listening to and I really really, enjoyed this one.

Cover Art by Dar Albert / Wicked Smart Designs. I loved the cover especially when I came across the author’s note on the same.

Sales Links: Amazon US |  Amazon U |  Amazon CA | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
Published August 2nd 2018 by Pinkerton Road (first published April 24th 2018)
Original Title Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride
Edition Language English
setting New Mexico (United States) 

A Lucy Review: Boyfriend Or Bust by Claire Castle

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Fake boyfriend?  A favorite trope of mine and I devour those stories like candy.  There is nothing I like more than having two guys realize the pretense has led to something real.  That is the basis behind Boyfriend or Bust.  Told in alternating first person point of view, we have Carson, a nice guy with a nasty ex, who gets an invite to said ex’s wedding. A wedding to the boss who was banging Hugo while he was with Carson. Rude, right? Carson thinks so too and when he calls Hugo the Horrible to tell him off for the invite he instead makes up a boyfriend, conveniently seeing a bottle of Samuel & Sons hand soap and inventing Samuel who will accompany him as a plus-one.  Hugo doesn’t believe it, but whatever.

When Nate’s best friend, Sloan, finds out about it she is all for shoving it in Hugo’s face.  “Sloan hated him from the beginning, I knew that much.”  So she brings up using her brother, auspiciously named Sam, a man that Nate has crushed on.  Nate has “…admired her brother from afar for years” but was also caught referring to Sam as “…an airhead gym rat…”, as Sam is a personal trainer.  Nate claims it was only a joke, but I didn’t understand how that would be funny at all.  Sam has also crushed on Nate over the years as well.  Sam agrees. 

This is where I started to question the story.  First off, the wedding is in Greece.  Nate is paying for the two weeks there.  That is a lot of money to spend just to show up an ex-boyfriend that you realize is a complete jerk.  Second, while Sam claims to have agreed to this crazy idea because he loves his sister, “How could I say no to my little sister? I would do anything for her.”  Yet later in the book he talks about how he and Sloan aren’t close.  There was some family trauma and it tore everyone apart. “I love her as a sister, but it’ll never be the same, you know?”  So it was surprising then that he would take two weeks from work to accompany Carson, someone he barely knows and heard smack-talking him, to be a fake boyfriend at an ex’s wedding.  Especially when they are supposed to be getting to know each other in the two months before the wedding, yet when Sam tries, Nate blows him off.  It was odd. It makes Sam really think, “We can hang out.  I know you don’t like me much, but if you want me in this with you, I will help you show this jerkwad what he missed out on.”

They do, however, start to get to know each other better and realize that they might just be good for each other.  It actually turns to insta-love fairly quickly, considering it’s two months from the time they first talk to the wedding trip itself.  Here was another thing that got me.  I was already thinking that the two-week trip to Greece was a going pretty far to tick off an ex, but once they are there Hugo is so over the top rude, condescending and nasty that I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they would attend the wedding.  Carson already got to let Hugo know he’s put the cheating man behind him, so why not just enjoy the vacation.  Hugo’s reaction, “The fake tone of his voice was hard to miss.  “what’s he paying you then? Do you work for 1-900-MEN-4HIRE?  Even Sam asks, “On second thought, do we really have to attend the wedding?”  Honestly, I felt like it was a manipulation to get some bad behavior (well, more bad behavior) on the part of Hugo into the story.  Bad behavior that honestly didn’t make sense in the context it was placed.  Holding up your wedding for that reason?  “…he’s the type to use it against you, if you don’t show.”  Does Hugo work with Carson? Otherwise, they don’t speak so who cares.

Carson and Sam do have a lot of sex over the course of the months.  There is dialogue that was very off-putting during some of this. Sometimes too sappy, sometimes it was like they were mechanical.  “When you are about to come inside me, pump once, and we’ll come together.”  The writing overall was a little simplistic and sometimes awkward.  Finally, Carson at one point says, “I want you to know, I never judged you for being a personal trainer.”  Why on earth would you even think to judge someone for that?  Sam’s response, “I know, Carson. That’s one of the things I love about you. You’ve always taken me as I am.  You’re genuine and nonjudgmental.”  What? Personal training is a stable, healthy career. 

It is unfortunate that this book didn’t really work for me.  There were too many things that made me question or roll my eyes. It had a lot of potential but I don’t think it lived up to it all.  I would try this author again and see if maybe next time I’d like the story more.

The cover art, a handsome man set against a background of the sea, is pretty and fits in well with the theme of the book.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 231 pages
Published August 11th 2018
ASINB07GCVQQH5
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Meik & Sebastian (Obsessed #2) by Quin Perin

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Ever since the first sexual encounter with Sebastian, Meik has felt off-kilter.

He can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t work without thinking about the musician and so, Meik decides to settle into an arrangement with him. There is no love. There is no romance. Sebastian gets a warm place to sleep, and Meik gets to keep his boy toy.

The perfect bargain.

But when Sebastian’s presence triggers memories of his first and only love, Meik unravels under the reminiscences that carved him into the man he is today. Will Meik be able to hold himself together or will his carefully crafted badass image fall apart?

This is the second book of the Gay Erotic Romance “Obsessed” which features explicit adult m/m content as well as romantic elements. The book ends on a cliffhanger.

This story delves deeper into Meik’s subconscious and gives us a little background on him.  I am enjoying the way the authors are presenting the stories and it’s written in a way that I don’t necessarily have to like the characters to like the book.  I’m not usually good with cliffhangers but I’m trusting they will get the next segment out quickly.

Meik is still an ass in this story but we get the chance to see he wasn’t always that way and we see a slight crack in his walls when Sebastian is sick.  I find myself being impatient for the next story so that I can see what happened to make him the way he is now.  We see Sebastian but other than fighting back with Meik on being tested he is just there for Meik’s enjoyment.

The cover art by Vanessa Rödiger is nice and typical of serials matches the other stories.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages

Expected Publication: September 1, 2018

Edition Language: English

Series: Obsessed #2