A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Romeo for Real (Romeo & Julian) by Markus Harwood-Jones

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I’m glad I read Just Julian before this story or I may have been completely lost. Although the couple is the same and the events are the same, this story is told from Romeo’s perspective and it’s completely different from Julian’s. And yet, the two stories together complement each other. Unfortunately, the author does not indicate which book should be read first, and in reality, he probably should have simply combined both POV’s and created one book.

I liked this story, in large part, I believe, because I knew what was going to happen already. I also like Romeo’s character more—at least I liked much of his character and perspective in this book, though I didn’t care for his early participation in gay bashing. I did, however, understand the peer pressure that led to it.

I think even Julian’s mother was easier to understand when viewed from Rome’s POV. His own parents were barely mentioned in Julian’s book and were perfect examples of unlikeable persons in this one. The vice principal, Mrs. Duke, was quite nasty to him in this story, and yet was a friend of Julian’s mother and an advocate for LBGTQ rights in that book, in which she also had a larger role.

The friend base was a bit different and interactions among their friends included more on those secondary characters in this story. But like the other book, I found it odd that there was so much diversity in that high school—especially given the homophobic bullying and the parents’ attitudes.

All in all, I would recommend that if someone wants to read this, they should read Just Julian first as I believe the perspective is in better balance reading that before this one. But neither book is one I’d highly recommend to my friends in general. But those who enjoy YA stories might like this look at a little slice of life in this small town.

Cover art by Shabnam Safari using a Shutterstock image features a head shot of a beautiful young man with a perplexed or confused look on his face. The look is fitting for the character, but the man is not how I would have pictured Romeo.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 168 pages
Published April 1st 2018 by Formac Lorimer (first published February 1st 2018)
ASINB079K58SK3
Series Romeo & Julian

Just Julian

Romeo for Real

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Just Julian (Romeo & Julian) by Markus Harwood-Jones

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Rating 2.5 stars out of 5

In a nutshell, I thought this story had lots of potential that was not quite achieved. And to be honest, the number of LGBTQ+ characters for one small town seemed way out of proportion to the general population.

Perhaps because the underlying theme is YA and I don’t read many books featuring teens, or perhaps because of the very obvious play on the Romeo and Juliet theme, or perhaps the author’s writing style or his desire to pack every diverse LGBTQ character known to mankind into one short story, somehow it didn’t ring true to reality. It was okay, and I liked many parts of it, but it was a bit overdone in some of the dramatics and characterizations.

Julian Capulet is nineteen, but hasn’t finished school yet. He’s taking online courses because the bullying and physical abuse he suffered at school became impossible for him to overcome, but there’s one course left, and he can’t focus long enough to finish. When he gets stressed or depressed, he retreats to his room and paints. Well, it appears he paints—he throws paints on canvas in dramatic brush strokes. His mother seems to have a part time job and is an advocate—an OTT advocate—for LGBTQ rights. His friends are all apparently somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum: gay, bi, lesbian, trans, nonbinary, asexual, demisexual, and more. Given that so many teens in this story identify as non-heterosexual, the focus in the latter part of the story on the need to increase awareness of LBGTQ teens in the schools and stop homophobic bullying seems superfluous.

When Julian meets Romeo (yes, Romeo!) at a party and their attraction seems mutual, he’s at first distrusting since Romeo has been with the group of boys who’ve bullied him. But Romeo claims he’s different, and he and Julian become a couple. Julian’s mother very liberally lets Romeo stay overnight. Later in the story when we meet Romeo’s mother (Mrs. Montague) it’s evident that she’s not happy with the relationship.

Of course, there’s no smooth sailing for either young man because just when they think they are free to be themselves, Romeo’s former buddies show up and attack the couple (see blurb for more detail). As the story ends, the two have decided to fight for their rights by participating in a school rally organized by Julian’s mother (of course) and the mother of Julian’s trans friend. I suspect their relationship-building will continue in the next story as this ends on a HFN.

Cover art by Shabnam Safari using a Shutterstock image is a photo of a young man with auburn hair and oriental features. It clearly represents the main character, Julian, and with the cloudy sky background, it’s attention-getting.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 168 pages
Published February 1st 2018 by Lorimer
ISBN 1459412931 (ISBN13: 9781459412934)
SeriesRomeo & Julian

A Lucy Review: Admiring Ash (Love Letters #1) by Anyta Sunday

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Ash Heartford’s parents have not been the greatest role models.  Since he never knew his father and his mother had a bad habit of falling in obsessive love that pushed her men away, he’s been sort of on his own.  That was okay until four years ago when his half-sister, Danielle, turned up on his doorstep on the wrong side of Greenvile. Mom had died and Dani had nowhere to go.  Ash stepped up, put his life on hold so he could take care of Dani and make sure her future was settled.  The fact that Ash is crushing those pennies is beside the point.  “He was sick of struggling financially.  No matter how hard he worked scrubbing toilets, he was constantly failing Danielle.”  Of course, he isn’t failing her at all and he has sacrificed everything for her but he doesn’t see that.  He has his cat, Chucky, for company and that’s all he needs as he tries to survive his jobs (yes, multiple) cleaning for other people.

So it is with some trepidation that he receives a letter delivered by the beautiful River.  A letter that lets him know he did have family in a grandfather, Lester, who has now unfortunately passed away.  He is bequeathing his historic home and book store to Ash, a continuation of a family legacy.  Since River was like a grandson to Lester, he has been asked to help Ash out with anything he needs.  Everything, that is, except getting involved with him.  Ash, according to Lester, is off limits.

Silver Pines is a lovely place and there are some suits from a corporation willing to pay big money for it.  River desperately wants Ash to keep it, keep Lester’s legacy, but it’s very difficult when you are literally scratching for pennies to turn down two hundred grand.  River has a week to convince Ash the more modest living he will get from Silver Pines is worth it.  River is from the rich side of town and has never really understood what it’s like to scrounge. “River had never hated being wealthy.  Until now, as Ash dropped on all fours in the obscenely large second kitchen to scrub…”

So River begins to show Ash what the legacy means.  Who Lester was.  The letters, exchanged by River and Lester through a mailbox inside Silver Pines, were so sweet.  The last one especially, that Lester never got to read.  How to run Silver Pines and care for it.  He shares stories with Ash and they begin to be friends, and maybe more.  But Ash keeps it cool because he always remembers that everything River is doing for him, he’s doing because of Lester.  River, who never does relationships and keeps it at one-night stands, begins to understand why Lester declared Ash off limits.

Of course, there is the moment that River has his epiphany that causes problems.  Not the classic misunderstanding, per se, but something like that.  Can they come back from it?  Can they even make this work, the rich guy and the poor guy?

Secondary characters here are interesting.  Dani is not a spoiled girl and she appreciates all that Ash does for her.  When Ash realizes his 16-year-old sister is having sex, the mild attack he has was funny, if bittersweet. Because the Heartfords drive their men off, he’s very afraid that either he or Dani will fall into that same trap.  “He’d made it a point to avoid engaging with me.  Men and Heartfords didn’t stick.  Men were only ever points of obsession.”  There is River’s twin brother, Landon, a sweet man who had a week-long fling with a straight (very closeted?) basketball player and is now spending his time in constant pain of unrequited love.  Their great friend, Ben, knows that that’s like (and I know where I want the next book, Begging Ben, to go).  “I don’t chase after guys who will never return my feelings.”  Ahh, Ben.

This was a good start to a new series.  There are supposed to be 26 Love Letters, working through the alphabet, so I’m curious to see how that works.  I am a fan of Anyta Sunday and I am looking forward to this series continuing.

Cover art by Natasha Snow is simple, colored background with Ash pictured.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published July 29th 2018
Original Title Admiring Ash
ASINB07G18ZKDT
Edition Language English
Series Love Letters #1

BA Tortuga on Why She Writes and her new release Things that Go Bump in the Night (guest post)

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Things that Go Bump in the Night by BA Tortuga

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have BA Tortuga back with us again talking about her latest release Things that Go Bump in the Night.  Welcome, BA!

♦︎

 

 

Hey y’all. I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things paranormal.

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?

*grins*

Why do I write?

I write because I have faith. I have faith that love and reason will prevail. I have faith in happily ever afters. I believe in forever. I believe in love at first sight. I believe that falling in love is universal.

I write because I need to remember that the dumpster fire will run out of fuel and oxygen and we will rebuild.

I write because hate is a terrible soil to grow your garden in.

I write because I have to.

Much love, y’all.

BA

Things that Go Bump in the Night

Official Blurb

This collection of paranormal erotica will give you goose bumps, make you shiver, and keep you up at night… though maybe not with fear.

In these tales are Alpha werewolves, a literal cat burglar, a cougar-shifter with self-esteem issues, a blind vampire, a wounded angel, a psychic, and more… and they like to play with their prey. From humorous to dark, these stories show there’s a perfect lover out there for everyone, no matter who—or what—they are. With their mates by their sides, they’re heating up the world unseen by most… and making lots of things go bump in the night.

Stories included:

Guapo

Bad for Business

Home Fires

Instinctive Harmony

Pinyon

Ring My Bell

The Mind’s Eye

Cats in a China Shop

About the Author

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.

You can find BA at:

Book Blitz and Giveaway for The Music Of Love by Sandine Tomas

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USE CODE MoL40 for 40% DISCOUNT AT DREAMSPINNER! 
 
Length: 70,870 words
 
 
Cover Design: Bree Archer
 
Blurb
 

Sometimes the music of love skips a beat….


Paralegal by day, musician by night, Julian has an expiration date stamped on his forehead when it comes to love. No relationship has made it past a year, so Julian avoids romance like the plague and concentrates on his music instead.


Which works fine until gorgeous, smart, and funny Zachary joins Julian’s firm. One look at the man and Julian knows he’s dangerous. No matter what, he can’t fall for Zachary. He has to spare Zachary the pain of dumping Julian at the one-year mark. His brilliant plan? Ask a straight friend to pose as his significant other to keep Zachary away. Not surprisingly, his scheme does little to dampen the attraction—on either side.


When Zachary gives Julian a second chance despite his deception, Julian thinks his curse might be broken. But then he’s faced with the impossible choice between a life with Zachary and living his dream of touring with the band….

 
Author Bio
 

Sandine Tomas grew up an unapologetic bookworm, making friends with characters from the ancient past to the farthest reaches of the universe. Her career as a marketing writer has given her insight into the divergence between what a person thinks they want and what they truly need. Relationships are at the heart of her writing, and she enjoys creating characters who become so real that their stories beg to be told. Writing allows her to explore people and ideas from all sides, spinning a notion around like a gem until its facets glisten.


Twisting the old adage about writing what you know into writing what you feel, Sandine doesn’t shy away from raw emotions, turbulent circumstances, and above all, deep passions, fueled by humor, honesty, and trust. She enjoys instilling her characters with the flaws, courage, and idiosyncrasies that brings them to life.


Sandine lives in New York with her husband, two daughters and a Golden Retriever puppy named Noodle. An unabashed TV and film enthusiast, she happily binge watches her favorites until her eyes glaze over. Her other guilty pleasures include attending fandom conventions, sleeping in on weekends, and recharging solo by holing up with a caramel macchiato and an amazing book.


If you’d like to chat, reach out to her here or on Twitter (@sandinetomas) or Facebook (sandine.tomas).

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New Release Blitz for Push Me Pull Me by Amanda Rhodes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Push Me Pull Me

Author: Amanda Rhodes

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 30, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 20000

Genre: Contemporary, lesbian, pansexual, BDSM

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

At twenty-four, Mallory Grant is still struggling with adulthood. She can’t seem to make it in to work on time and deals better with her Tumblr friend on the other side of the world than a face-to-face with a real live human. But when her boss threatens to fire her as a rental agent, Mallory has to buckle down with her new client or end up jobless.

Corinne Ibori is moving to the Chicago area and needs a place to call home. Mallory’s goal is to find just the right location for Corinne’s needs and show her boss she’s turned over a new leaf. Corinne is thirty-five, self-confident, beautiful, flirty, has a French accent, and knows what she wants.

Mallory is finding it hard to believe that what Corrine wants might be her.

Excerpt

Push Me Pull Me
Amanda Rhodes © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Today has to be a new record for me. Forty-five minutes late for work and I’m sitting in the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru behind a line of cars at least a half mile long. One might think I have no respect for punctuality. And they’d be right. I’ve been on a losing streak lately with my alarm clock. It tries so hard to wake me up with the beeping and the screeching.

I have to have my coffee before I meet the day head-on, though. Therefore, I wait. Might as well be productive while I sit here. I text Helena, asking her if she’s seen my Tumblr post with the new pictures of Charlize Theron. She’s cut all of her hair off, and it’s sexy as fuck. Maybe she did it for a new movie role, maybe just to torture me. It’s hard to say.

Helena replies back, “Duh, Mallory. Of course, I’ve seen it.” She immediately saved it to her hard drive for safekeeping. This is why we are friends. Unfortunately, though, she lives on the other side of the ocean so most of our conversations are in the form of emails and texts.

I don’t really do so well with live humans unless I’m getting paid to customer-service them. I’m perfectly content with the friends that live inside my computer as far as my personal life goes. Helena gets me, and I make her laugh. Works out perfectly.

A few more cars move, and I’m almost to the ordering screen. I check the clock. 9:15 a.m. Yikes. This is super late, even for me. Silently, I pray that my boss isn’t in this morning—still traveling or has tripped on her kids’ Legos and sprained her ankle.

“Mallory, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to make it in today. You’ll be able to hold down the fort without me, right?”

“Absolutely, Shelly. You can count on me. I’ve been here for hours now. Everything is going smoothly.”

“Perfect. You’re an amazing employee. I’m definitely giving you a raise and maybe even an expense account. Also, I think you should take a month-long vacation when I get back. Honk.”

HONK. HONK. HONK.

The person who’s waiting behind is obviously super pissed by my delayed response.

“Sorry!” I yell from inside my car where no one can hear me. I wave, hoping they forgive my idiotic daydreaming.

Quickly, I pull through, order my coffee and the bagel I swore to myself I wouldn’t get.

When I make it to work, I realize that my daydream was exactly that. There’s a sticky note lying on my desk from Shelly.

See me when you get in.

There’s no “Thanks!” or her name with a smiley face. She knows that I’ll be aware of exactly who wrote the note. And she knows that I’ll be aware of exactly what I need to see her about.

The sense of dread I feel at moments like this never motivates me to do the right thing (i.e. show up on time), but only serves to remind me of how much I suck at life. That nasty little voice in my head is chanting “loser alert!” over and over.

Staring at the note, I take a minute to contemplate my next move. I could fake the stomach flu, invoking her pity. Well, at least temporarily. I’ll have to face the facts at some point, and that some point might as well be now. Sucking it up, I throw my things on my desk and do the walk of shame to her office.

I could easily walk through this maze of dull gray cubicles with my eyes closed. I’ve done it so many times. The chatter of twenty different people on the phone, scheduling apartment viewings, fills the air. Ben’s giant pair of green foam Hulk hands sit atop his bookshelf. I give them a fist bump. Ben glances up from his phone call, nods, and winks. He’s the only tolerable human here.

Almost every desk has one or two framed pictures of loved ones, boyfriends, kids, husbands. A candid of a group of friends at a wedding taunts me as I walk past Tracy’s desk. She also has a Post-it note holder in the shape of a red high-heeled shoe. She thinks it’s cute, and I think it’s hideous.

Each time I have to make the trip from my desk to Shelly’s, I’m forced to think about the absence of pictures and mementos on mine. Yeah, I could frame a picture of my brother or of my childhood dog, Scrabble, but I don’t actually want anyone here to know that much about me.

Peeking around the corner, I check to see if the boss-lady is on the phone or possibly reaming some other poor soul a new asshole, in which case I can hightail it out of here. No such luck. She peers up from her desk, her face the picture of annoyance. She extends her hand, waving me in.

“Hi, Shelly! You wanted to see me?” I ask cheerily.

“Save it. Sit down. We need to talk.” Her tone isn’t angry, just fed up. Honestly, this makes me feel even worse. She used to like me. And she’s stuck her neck out for me more than once. I’ve disappointed yet another person in my life. I might need to start a spreadsheet in order to keep track.

Awkwardly, I take a seat across from her, trying to work out if I should cross my legs or leave them uncrossed. Which leg position makes a person seem less like a failure?

“Listen,” she says, sighing deeply. “I know this isn’t your dream job. Nor would I expect you to treat being a leasing agent as such. But I do expect that you show some respect for me. I don’t make office hours for shits and giggles, Mal. You had an appointment this morning with a client. She sat in the lobby waiting for you for almost an hour.”

Fuck. Me.

“Exactly.”

I didn’t realize I’d said that out loud.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

Amanda Rhodes watches way too much TV and has a ridiculous amount of books on her to-be-read pile, yet she keeps buying them. She’s been writing since… well for a long time. Amanda loves the paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy but could never ever write it herself. She’ll leave that up to the weirdos who do it best. Amanda lives in Chicago with her wife, four children, and pitbull who is a lazy bum.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

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