A MelanieM Review: The Gallery: The Special Exhibits (The Gallery #2) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

Welcome to the Gallery, where you can admire hundreds of beautiful paintings, and perhaps find what you didn’t know you were looking for…

In these rooms you will find the Special Exhibits, those paintings which remain at the Gallery only temporarily. Their time here can range from weeks to decades—even centuries. But they do eventually leave, so admire while you can. The subjects of these paintings come from all walks of life, from lonely individuals seeking respite while they await their true love, all the way to dangerous beings captured by the Curator or given to him for safekeeping until such time as they can be trusted out in the world again.

Today’s featured Special Exhibits include: The Assassin, about a killer on the run and a painting of a man who once chose surrender over murder; The Lion and the Mouse, where a grouchy accountant escapes the snow only to find himself on a beach with an ancient gladiator; The Gargoyle is a beautiful, erotic statue not for the faint of heart; Shapeless brings a new and rather unique guest to the gallery when he is bequeathed to Silenus by a dead alchemist; and finally, in Fallen Soldier, a man escaping his kidnappers hides behind a statue of an unusual being who once betrayed a dying kingdom…

I absolutely loved the first book in this series,The Gallery: The Permanent Collection.  Derr gave us a wonderful concept, than an complicated buildup introduction to the owner of the Gallery, the Lord of Satyrs, and a terrific foundation of world building. Just magical.  So I was really looking forward to the sequel.  We had a brief peek at this “area” of the  Gallery and small explanation but no more.

Now the The Special Exhibits are on displayAnd depending upon the “art work” the very nature of this portion of The Gallery made it less….magical or something.  You see all the inhabitants here are only temporary.  The amount of time they have spent living inside their “art” can be a thousand years to decades.  It depends upon the person they are waiting to find them.   And what happens after that.   Which is that they leave the paintings/sculptures etc. (actually small bubble universes) to join that one they’ve been waiting all this time for.

Now in the Permanent Gallery, that person joins their fated one within the art work.  Makes sense because again.  That art work is really a contained universe.

But here the inhabitants, such as the Lion, a Gladiator who had never lost a battle, steps out of his painting into our century to become a…bouncer at a leather club with his sex club accountant boyfriend leading him?  For me that was just nonsensical.  Talk about culture shock.  A fracas at the door of a local club  is put down by a man using a net and trident? That would bring in the media.Yes, yes, I know that wouldn’t happen but that is the picture that sprung to mind.  How do all these beings face life and relationships in our world and with our technology?  Hard to answer in 66 pages to my satisfaction. As each long-term being left it’s temporary holding place in The Gallery, I just couldn’t help but think…what happens next to them?  What about the culture adjustment?  Where do the couples go? None of these questions really arise in The Permanent Collection for obvious reasons.  That book just had more depth to it imo.

The only ones I wasn’t worried about particularly, was the  Mist.  Very imaginative.  And playful. Plus the Merperson/Octopii being and the human mate. Yes, there is tentacle sex. Just a fyi.  Their ending seemed rather wonderful although I  still wanted to know  what happened next to them as well.  Especially as they were the end story to  The Special Exhibits, with the notation that another would soon replace them.  Yes, this gallery is one constant turnover.

Plus there is only a brief mention of the demon problems here that were such a major element in the first story.  All in all, this is a lighter short story collection without the depth of the first.  I would have loved to have known more about what happens next for many of the couples, a question that arises out of the nature of their temporary status in the The Gallery.

We have two books.  I wonder where Megan Derr is going next.  Will we find out more about the demons and the humans who have brought this problem into the world?  What will happen to the Gallery and it’s owner next?

I can hardly wait.

Love this series. So will you.

Cover art by Aisha Akeju is beautiful, compelling and perfect for the story and cover.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Author’s Note: Two of these stories were freebies on my website. They have been edited for re-release, and received minor changes, but nothing major.

ebook, 66 pages
Published July 18th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312986
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Gallery #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Alpha Prince (Kingdom of Askara #3) by Victoria Sue and Michael Pauley (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This author has become a must buy for me. Between her two series, both of which I’ve been reading and listening to on audiobook, I’m amazed at her fantastic world-building and creativity.

In this installment of the Kingdom of Askara, we meet a colony of hybrid wolves headed by a wolf named Justice, who has sworn to lead his people to a better life than the desolate barren existence they lead in the Askaran desert. When he learns that Darius, the Alpha of Solonara, plans to hold a contest to award the hand of his son, Cashel, in marriage, Justice sees this as his way to his pack’s freedom.

None of the gathering community of wolves knows of the cruel treatment that Cashel has suffered for years at his father’s hand. When Darius failed to conceive another male heir—an alpha male heir—he began medical experiments on his omega son Cashel to implant a uterus so that Darius would at least have an heir through Cashel. He’s obsessed with his lineage and will do whatever it takes to subjugate not only Cashel but the gamma and beta wolves he commands.

It doesn’t take long for Justice to ascertain just how bad Darius is, and he prepares his forces to take over the pack so his people can move in. But it only takes one meeting with Cashel for Justice’s world to turn topsy-turvy when he realizes Cashel is his soul mate, and his plans need to be amended to protect the beautiful young man.

I loved Michael Pauley’s narration, and that’s saying a lot, because he took over this series from one of my all-time favorite narrators. I wasn’t disappointed at all. The pace of these stories is fast, the plots intriguing, the narration outstanding, and the characters are endearing. What more could I want for entertainment?

Justice and Cashel find their way to a HEA but it’s a hard-fought battle to get there. Along the way, the supporting characters are terrific and the subplot is sweet. Picture a baby in that HEA, and you know a bit of what I mean. Very highly recommended.

~~~

The cover depicts a historical city done in a shade of light blue, surrounded by an edging of darker green. Very simple and bright but not one that would normally attract my attention among the multitude of choices of MM romance bookcovers.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 7 hours and 47 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Victoria Sue
Audible.com Release Date: July 11, 2018
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B07FDFM6ZP

Shira Anthony on Fated Love and her new release ‘Blood and Eternity (Blood #3)’ (author guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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Blood and Eternity (Blood #3) by Shira Anthony

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Reese Dante

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Shira Anthony on tour today for her latest release, Blood and Eternity, the last story in her Blood Trilogy.  Welcome, Shira.

 

 

“Blood and Eternity” Blog Tour: Fated Love

Thanks, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, for hosting the Blood and Eternity blog tour today! I’m so excited to share the final book in the Blood Series from Dreamspinner Press with everyone. Be sure to read down about how to enter the blog tour giveaway for a handmade unisex bamboo bracelet featuring bats and other vampire-ish dark themes.

I realized while I was writing the Blood Series that there’s a familiar theme in my books, or at least in my fantasy/paranormal books: fated love. It’s hardly a new concept, of course. There are stories as old as humanity’s recorded history that use some form of the trope.

The fated love trope takes a few different forms in fantasy stories, in particular. You’d recognize some of these: souls that connect and reconnect over many lifetimes (reincarnation), mates for life (a hugely popular shifter trope), and recognizing the other person/immediately knowing them in spite of the fact you’ve never met them. I used the reincarnation theme in my Mermen of Ea Series.

In the Blood series, I use a variation of the “I’d know you anywhere” trope. The series’ main pairing is between the immortal vampire hunter Adrien Gilbert and the ancient vampire (born a vampire, not created from a human) he loves, Nicolas Lambert. Through Nicolas’s powerful blood, Adrien not only becomes immortal, but he gains powers beyond those of vampires or hunters. In book 2 in the series, Blood and Ghosts, Adrien discovers he has the ability to travel through time. Unfortunately for Adrien, controlling that power is something just beyond his grasp.

There are three timelines, or “timestreams” in the series: the original timestream Adrien lives in which is chronicled in Blood and Rain, the timestream Adrien inadvertently changes when he’s sent back to a time before he ever met Nicolas we first experience in Blood and Ghosts, and finally, a confusing new future Adrien finds himself at the end of the second book. In each timeline, Nicolas and Adrien meet. How do they know each other? The answer, maybe not so surprisingly, is in their blood.

For the vampires of the Blood Series, sharing blood is more intimate than sex. Blood is a window into a person’s soul—your deepest secrets and all of your memories are available for the person drinking your blood to see. This is the reason that even when Adrien cannot find Nicolas after a century of searching for him, he will not share his blood with anyone but Nicolas.

Adrien wants to spend his immortal life at Nicolas’s side. In each timeline, Adrien and Nicolas find each other. I hope you’ll enjoy their story of eternal, fated love, and the conclusion of the series. I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the first book (no spoilers here!). Don’t forget to comment on the post to be entered to win the cool spooky bracelet! –Shira

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Excerpt from Blood and Rain:

Chapter One: On the Edge of Forever

Miami, Florida

 

SUNSET WOVE fingers of purple and red through bands of clouds and vapor trails that crisscrossed the sky. The scent of exhaust from trucks and cars mingled with the tang of salt from the ocean. People scurried about as they returned from work, trying to finish last-minute errands before dinnertime, all oblivious to the lone figure perched atop the high-rise at the edge of the Miami River.

Adrien Gilbert gazed down at the tiny figures below, vaguely aware of their presence. For more than a century, he had seen generations of humans be born, reach adulthood, start families, grow old, and die as their loved ones watched, helpless to slow time. He had grown numb to the cycle of life—a cycle to which he was immune. He was an immortal, a hunter who had shared the soul of an ancient vampire. His beloved soul.

He closed his eyes, trying to picture that perfect face. It had grown strangely difficult to remember over the years, and yet he could still easily remember the face of his mother, who had been killed when he was just a child.

I won’t forget you… Nicolas.

It would have been far easier to give in, to erase Nicolas from his memory forever. Certainly far less painful than knowing Nicolas was out there somewhere, unable to find the way back to him. Less painful, too, than admitting he couldn’t find his way to Nicolas. He would suffer the pain of knowledge; it was a small price to pay to preserve the memory.

I’m sorry.

The irony that a hunter sworn to protect humankind would suffer the loss of a vampire so deeply was hardly lost on Adrien. He’d believed that in spite of the treaty between hunters and the hunted, vampires were not to be trusted. He’d believed his duty as a hunter was simple, straightforward: kill those who threatened humanity, tolerate those who did not. But that had been before he’d met Nicolas. Before he’d lost his heart. Before Nicolas had given him immortality.

Adrien had everything a human might wish for. The small transportation business he’d started when he moved to the United States over a hundred years ago had blossomed into an international empire with cargo ships, airplanes, trucks, and dozens of storage facilities around the globe. He owned homes in Europe, Thailand, Japan, the US, and a dozen other places he rarely visited. Despite his prosperity, the men with whom he shared his bed—human, vampire, hunter—rarely stayed long. He had seen to that, with his aloof manner and his cold heart. Only one man had ever touched his soul.

 

 

THE EVENING had started, as it always did, on a far better note. Adrien had stopped by one of his favorite haunts, an upscale martini bar not far from the city center. He’d developed a penchant for gin over the past few decades, enjoying the quick work it made of his long-term memory. Three or four martinis and he could forget, even if only briefly.

The bar was small and full of people. A Sinatra song played in the background as he walked over to the stainless-steel bar, filled with men, some of whom he’d already discarded, others new faces. Eager, all of them. He sensed their eyes on him and felt the hunger they didn’t understand. He understood that hunger. The scent of his blood created it in them. The same irresistible scent that had lured many a human to fall prey to the vampires now drew them to him.

He sat down at an empty barstool and nodded to the bartender, who set to work making the driest martini possible with his most expensive gin, dropping in a tiny bit of lemon peel instead of an olive. He handed Adrien the drink without saying a word, and Adrien brought the glass to his lips.

“Nice,” a male voice said from behind him.

The man was beautiful, tall, with shoulder-length black hair and deep green eyes. He wore a pair of tight-fitting jeans and a crisp button-down shirt that emphasized his muscled chest and narrow waist. Late twenties, perhaps. A new face, but a familiar presence.

“It’s not bad.” Adrien took a sip of his drink and pretended not to care. It was easy.

“I wasn’t talking about the drink.” The man lifted his drink to his full lips but watched him intently.

“I wasn’t either,” Adrien replied without missing a beat.

“I’m Cole.”

“So you are.”

They left the bar together for his apartment, where his housekeeper had already set a table for two. A bottle of Puligny-Montrachet chilled in a cooler by the table. Between them, they finished that bottle, although Adrien drank very little. Alcohol affected immortals far more than humans or vampires.

After dinner Cole stood and walked over to the railing, looking out over the river below. “You know what I am.” Cole’s voice was as smooth as the wine.

“Yes. I know what you are.” Adrien had sensed Cole was a vampire the moment he’d seen him. No self-respecting hunter would have missed the subtle electricity in the air or the scent of mingled blood. He lifted Cole’s hair off his neck, then trailed his lips over his silky skin. Cole smelled good—an earthy and primal scent that caused the bloodlust to rise in Adrien. Once, he had embraced his lust for blood.

When he’d first become an immortal, Nicolas’s blood had done far more than sustain him. They had shared their bodies, their blood, and their souls. The blood had been their bond, the bloodlust a welcome reminder of Adrien’s love for Nicolas. Now the lust for blood had nothing to do with Adrien’s heart. It was another bitter reminder that his body would not let him perish, even though he cared nothing for living.

It’s been too long.

Cole moaned. The deep, throaty sound made Adrien’s mouth water in spite of himself. Adrien despised his body’s response, but he’d long ago learned he couldn’t fight it. Once, he had gone nearly twenty years without giving in to the call. He’d been weak, pathetic, barely able to think. He’d prayed he would die. He’d lost consciousness, but he’d awoken to find himself drinking his fill. He’d come perilously close to killing the human whose blood he’d feasted on, but he’d managed to stop. However miserable his existence, Adrien would only feed on vampires—he’d not break the oath he’d taken to protect humans when he’d become a hunter.

Adrien licked the skin of Cole’s neck, feeling the blood pulse there, hearing it call to him. Cole tilted his head in anticipation, opening himself to Adrien.

Adrien buried his teeth in Cole’s skin. Blood flooded his mouth and danced on his tongue, sweet and salty. Too long. His body was far more vampire-like in its craving for blood than when he’d first been given the gift of an ancient vampire’s soul. He wondered if it was the same for other immortals.

Adrien tried to ignore the images that flashed through his mind—the sound of silvery laughter, a mother’s loving caress. Cole’s memories. Adrien despised this forced intimacy, but he’d come to see it as the price of blood. Something to be tolerated.

It hadn’t always been that way. When he’d shared Nicolas’s blood, Adrien had experienced great joy. He’d seen himself through Nicolas’s eyes and felt the depth of Nicolas’s love. Each drop of that precious liquid had opened new doors. Each taste offered insight into Nicolas’s heart and soul. A beloved memory. A mystery—the mystery of Nicolas—unfolding with every swallow.

Adrien drank his fill, then claimed Cole’s mouth. This kind of contact he could stomach. He didn’t need sex to survive, but he enjoyed the release. Cole unbuttoned Adrien’s black silk shirt and his cock swelled against Adrien’s thigh. Adrien moaned as Cole skated his fingertips over his chest.

“I have never known a hunter to crave blood,” Cole whispered in his ear. “I thought only we experienced the bloodlust.”

“You were wrong,” Adrien said as he pulled Cole’s shirt over his head and mouthed a pretty pink nipple. Sex was always better after he fed, and Adrien’s cock was already hard at the thought of fucking such a lovely ass. He drew Cole’s body against his, walked backward into the living room, and pulled Cole with him onto the rug. Soon they were naked and he was no longer a hunter or an immortal, he was simply a man, seeking release, seeking pleasure.

 

 

ADRIEN LAY there afterward, only partially satisfied. Nothing new. Sex was like the bloodlust—it always left him wanting more. Cole brushed his fingers over Adrien’s chest, then his neck. He licked Adrien’s earlobe, then ran his tongue over Adrien’s Adam’s apple.

“May I?” he asked.

“No.” He would willingly share his blood with only one person.

“Too bad.” The vampire was clearly disappointed. “I would have liked to have known the secrets of your blood.”

Adrien watched Cole dress but said nothing.

“Perhaps another time, then.” Cole turned and smiled at him before he walked out the door.

For at least an hour after, Adrien lay on the floor and allowed the night air to caress his bare skin. He closed his eyes and dozed.

“Adrien.”

The voice awakened him. Nicolas’s voice again. Why sleep if it only served to reawaken the pain he sought to suppress?

He stood and pulled on his jeans. He walked onto the balcony in his bare feet, then climbed to the roof of the penthouse.

Pathetic.

Having reached the edge, he spread his arms. He leaned forward and fell unimpeded, riding the wind like a sigh. The glass of the building sailed by him, the breeze buffeting his face. He hit the water and sank into the cold blackness. He wished he could die.

******

 

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Blurb: Sequel to Blood and Ghosts and the final installment in the Blood Trilogy

Vampire hunter Adrien Gilbert never dreamed he’d fall for his prey or that his love, Nicolas Lambert, would give him the gift of immortality. But when a hunter bent on destroying the truce between vampires and hunters throws the gauntlet at Adrien’s feet, Adrien must travel through time to save Nicolas, and with him, the entire vampire race.

The time has come to make a choice—one they will live with for eternity.

In this final installment in the Blood Trilogy, Adrien and Nicolas must face their greatest enemy in a deadly last confrontation. But to prevail, they’ll need to master the enemies within.

When Adrien awakens to a future he doesn’t recognize, he faces an impossible decision: live a perfect life with Nicolas in a shattered world, or risk everything to repair a broken past. But before he can challenge vampire hunter Verel Pelletier, he must master the demon who lives in his own mind—and learn to control his ability to travel through time. With Nicolas by his side, he prepares for a final battle against a powerful adversary who likes to play games with the past and future.

But the price of ensuring a future for their loved ones may be an eternity spent alone.

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About the Author

 Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: Shira’s Singing

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 38′ catamaran sailboat, Prelude, at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

Shira Anthony: http://www.shiraanthony.com

Review Tour and Giveaway for Fusion (North Star Trilogy #2) by Posy Roberts

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Olive Us Designs
 
North Star Trilogy
 
Spark (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Flare (Book #3) – Amazon US | Amazon UK – Pre-Order
 
Blurb
 

Kevin and Hugo make plans to blend their lives, but bleak news changes everything. Building a future together is still a priority, but only if their relationship can survive.


Love strengthened by adversity.


Everyone in Kevin’s life knows him as straight rather than bisexual. There was no need to come out until now, but loving Hugo is worth any prejudice he’ll encounter. Hugo does his best to be patient while Kevin navigates his way toward openness, but he refuses to be put back in a closet for long.


Kevin wants to tell his kids without screwing up their newfound stability, and he worries about telling his ex because Erin might use the truth against him to renegotiate custody. Kevin wants it all finalized, but time isn’t on his side.


When Erin gets grim news, it shakes everyone to the core and rips Kevin away from the life he planned with Hugo. The news brings Hugo’s past hurts bubbling to the surface. Yet when Erin turns to Hugo for support, their new connection shows him how essential he is to Kevin and his kids.


Despite the chaos, it’s clear Hugo is very much a part of this unconventional family.



July 24BooksLaidBareBoys, Mainely Stories, July 26Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter, Katie’s Book Corner Reviews, Gay Media Reviews, Mikku-chan, July 28Diverse Reader, Dog-Eared Daydreams, Cupcakes & Bookshelves, July 30Xtreme Delusions, Making It Happen, August 1MM Good Book Reviews, August 3Bayou Book Junkie, Lillian Francis, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

 Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.

Author Bio


Posy Roberts started reading romance when she was young, sneaking peeks at adult books long before she should’ve. Textbooks eventually replaced the novels, and for years she existed without reading for fun. When she finally picked up a romance two decades later, it was like slipping on a soft hoodie . . . that didn’t quite fit like it used to. She wanted something more.


She wanted to read about men falling in love with each other. She wanted to explore beyond the happily ever after and see characters navigate the unpredictability of life. So Posy sat down at her keyboard to write the books she wanted to read.


Her stories have been USA Today’s Happily Ever After Must-Reads and Rainbow Award finalists. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and friends and doing anything possible to get out of grocery shopping and cooking.

 

Giveaway

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Cover Reveal for Second Chance Ranch (Montana #5) by R.J. Scott (Giveaway)

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Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Release Date: August 28 (wide) – August 30 (Amazon & KU)
 
Montana Series
 
Book #1 – Crooked Tree Ranch – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – The Rancher’s Son – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – A Cowboy’s Home – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 -Snow In Montana – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 
Rob arrives at Crooked Tree determined to find a safe place for his niece and nephew. A family for them is the final thing on his list, and then he can vanish completely. Falling for a local paramedic along the way, is a disaster in Rob’s otherwise perfect plans.
 
Paramedic Aaron, the middle of five brothers, would like someone to love. A great believer in fate he is convinced though, that one day he’ll find someone. He just never thought it would be a man in so much pain, or that children would be part of the package.
 
Rob is ready to leave. Aaron wants him to stay. Their love has an expiry date, and it’s tearing them apart. Can they find a way to save what they have?

 

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.


RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.


She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.


The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the following links below:


Email RJ (rj@rjscott.co.uk)