A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I honestly didn’t think it would be possible for a sequel to be better than the first story in this series, Syncopation, but I was wrong—very, very wrong. This book exceeded all my expectations and effortlessly moved to my top five of 2018.

Adrian Doran heads out to dinner one night in his Brooklyn neighborhood and happens to be seated next to a stunning, nerdy looking guy who returns his casual perusal with one of his own. Adrian is a computer programmer for a NYC bank by day and a Dom by preference in the rest of his life. When the guy accepts Adrian’s offer of a bite of his lemon meringue pie and then proceeds to moan and make subtle orgasmic facial expressions, Adrian knows what, and who, his next goal is going to be.

Dominic Bradley is a quiet, unassuming bookworm, who enjoys reading most genres of literature, visiting museums, playing his guitar, and being an all-around geek. With Adrian he discovers his submissive side, but he suffers from social anxiety, especially when he needs to take the stage with his bandmates in Twisted Wishes, a well-known rock band. To do so, he dons a new personality, Domino Grinder, a rock god who wears leather, has an upper body covered in tattoos, wears makeup, and throws the finger at the world. The lead guitarist takes bull from no man. But Dominic and Domino can’t coexist and as Dominic succumbs to the allure of a new relationship with Adrian, he’s going to have to hide Domino or risk losing the man.

As their relationship grows and Dominic discovers rope play really cements his submissive role with Adrian, he despairs of ever being able to let Adrian in on who he really is. He desperately wants to introduce him to his bandmates, and he wants to find a way to merge his two sides but backs away from any confrontation until it’s almost too late. When Adrian spots Dominic’s tattoos on the arm of the lead guitarist for Twisted Wishes on a magazine cover, he loses hope for a future with the man he loves. Can these two continue their D/s relationship and continue to grow their love if one can’t trust the other completely?

I love this author’s writing style and creativity. Caught up and totally immersed in the relationship between Adrian and Dom, I rooted for both men equally and was captivated by each page-turn as their lives took new twists and turns. Adrian was being undermined at work in a job that provided no satisfaction. Dominic was playing as Domino all day while the band practiced or did promo events, yet he couldn’t let in the one man who’d make his life even better so switched to Dominic the moment Domino was no longer needed. The dynamic of the two men in both their private D/s lives and their “out in the world” lives was comfortable, strong, balanced, in sync, and loving. But their secrets nearly broke them apart.

I accidentally discovered this author last year, but I am 100% on board as a fan. I have yet to read something that isn’t top quality and I highly recommend this story. In fact, I highly recommend this series to fans who enjoy books featuring musicians, domination/submission, great plots, interesting deep characterizations, and MM romance. 

The gorgeous, attractive cover features a handsome, bearded, dark-haired guitarist—complete with the tattoo described in the story, set against a bright turquoise background, the bottom border of which shows fans at a rock concert. It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition
Expected publication: September 24th 2018 by Carina Press
ISBN139781488089374
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Twisted Wishes #2

Syncopation

Counterpoint

A Lucy Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Isaac really drew the short straw in the family lottery.  He has a wonderful sister, Sue, and bigoted, selfish and homophobic parents.  They constantly barrage Isaac and Sue with demands to get a partner, marry and produce grandchildren.  Since they don’t appreciate or really seem to love their own children, the odds of them being any better with grandchildren is low. Isaac always tries to see the best of them.  “They lived in a closed-off little world, but they weren’t bad people.  Or rather, I liked to think they weren’t.”  Isaac is very firmly in the closet with his parents, not wanting to lose  his family. Luckily Isaac has an amazing group of friends who support and love him.

To combat this parental nightmare one Christmas, Sue brings a fake boyfriend, Logan.  Logan is tattooed, pierced and definitely puts on a bad-boy wastrel attitude.  Of course, Isaac is seriously attracted but doesn’t realize the boyfriend is fake.  So when Logan hits on him in the hallway, he is aroused and appalled.  Being a good brother, he hides in the bathroom to text Sue a warning, which Sue pushes off.  In a phone call, Sue tells Isaac about the fake, and gives her go-ahead for Issac to date Logan.  Since Isaac didn’t realize Sue even knew he was gay, he is shocked.  “So, Isaac, I love you and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay.  If you are, I want you to know that I’m a safe space.”  Sue is a great sister.

So Isaac does call Logan and off on a date they go.  Isaac is less the buttoned down prep he presents for his parents and more his hoodie and jeans wearing, tattooed and pierced real self.  Logan is also his real self, a graphic designer who owns his own company.  Since Logan was at Christmas he knows Isaac isn’t out and asks, “So no plans to tell them?”  Isaac replies that he won’t tell them until there is a significant other important enough to come out for.

As Logan and Isaac begin dating, they get to know each other, they take things pretty slow and talk.  I liked that about them.  Isaac meets Logan’s chosen family of friends (and this concept is a big one through the story).  Isaac doesn’t warm up to Logan’s friends, he always feels like an outsider and as if they don’t like him.  He takes this as proof that friends aren’t your family, because they could leave at any time.  He believes you only get one shot at family, even if they are horrible, and they are connected to you in a way no one else can be, “They’ve been with you from the beginning, for better or worse.”  Get a clue, Isaac!  When his amazing friends try to remind him they love him and they are his family, he upsets them.  “You have us.” “Yeah, but you’re not family.”  He hurts his friends so much with that, and he continues to do so, not understanding their point at all.  He won’t even accept the term “chosen family”, instead repeatedly saying they are friends.  “I wanted my family, blemishes and all.”  I wanted to smack him for being so obtuse.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand his view on this.  It irked me because the things he was throwing out there weren’t true even for him.  “Family wouldn’t break apart over something as small as this.  Because family loves you no matter what, because you’re bound by blood.”  Except that wasn’t true.  “Well, no matter what, unless you’re gay and your parents are homophobes.”

Logan really is patient with Isaac but he also knows his own self worth.  He is badly hurt when Isaac repeatedly won’t even mention Logan to his parents, pretending he is seeing no one and going to see them alone.  When Isaac suggests they move in together, Logan is so happy.  Except Isaac still doesn’t want to tell his parents.  So Logan would be the “roommate” or the “good friend”, or some other lie to explain away why they were living together.  But it’s been six months.  What happened to ‘I’ll tell them when it’s serious’?”  I couldn’t blame him for thinking Isaac wasn’t as invested as he was. Even Isaac knows.  “It’s not like that.”  But it was like that.  Exactly like that.”  And yet he still puts his nasty parents ahead of the man he claims to love, as well as his friends.

His parents, particularly his father, are so loathsome.  Racist, bigots, homophobes all, but also just rude and nasty.  I hated them even more knowing that way too many real life parents are just like this.  Made me angry and so sad.  Isaac has a lot of growing to do and I didn’t understand his willingness to put up with everything they spewed at him but I also could see the steps he was slowly trying to take.  And there is a point where he and Logan are fighting, and it is Logan who uses the, “Isaac, it’s not like that”, and this time I could see Isaac’s point.  He is made to feel he over-reacted but I could see how it would hurt.

I liked this story even as Isaac made me want to scream at times.  There are solid positive secondary characters in Sue and Isaac’s friends, Jackson, Emmett, Roe, Jenna, Marc and Laura.  I’d love to say Isaac’s parents were over the top but unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there are too many families that are just like this.  I would love to know what happens to Logan and Isaac in in the future and I was so happy when Isaac finally, finally got the true meaning of family. 

Cover Art: L.C. Chase.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 248 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleHard Truths
ISBN139781626498464
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Darcy (Boyfriend for Hire #1) by R.J. Scott and Meredith Russell

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Darcy works for Boyfriends for Hire and his newest assignment is to play the role of boyfriend to a wealthy socialite who happens to be a scientist with no time for men. He never expected the intense attraction to his date’s brother, Adrian.

Adrian has been as unlucky in love as his sister, but he doesn’t approve of hiring a boyfriend, whatever the reason. Until he meets Darcy. Then he comes to realize that love can happen in the most unexpected of ways.

This story had a nice premise and I really liked Darcy’s character. He was everything a mother would want in a boyfriend for her daughter or son. Honest, a veteran, polite, handsome, and well-spoken with a calm demeanor. Unfortunately, though he’s hired to be Abby’s boyfriend, his heart is grabbed by her brother, Adrian.

To be honest, this story progressed as you’d expect this trope to go. It was very light and fluffy. The guys were honest enough to hold off until the boyfriend contract ended before they hit the sack, and they ended with a HEA and everyone happy, including Abby and the guy she really wanted and her parents who now see that both their children are settled.

If you are looking for light reading, this should satisfy your sweet tooth.

Cover by Meredith Russell depicts two men holding hands, dancing against a backdrop of a wedding. The washed out and faded look of the cover isn’t very appealing.

Sales Links:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook
Published September 10th 2018 by Lane Books Limited
ISBN139781785641398
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://rjscott.co.uk/darcybfh
SeriesBoyfriend for Hire #1

Bru Baker on Characters, Writing, and Hiding in Plain Sight (the last in the Camp H.O.W.L. trilogy)

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Hiding In Plain Sight (Camp H.O.W.L. #3) by Bru Baker 

Dreamspun Beyond Title from Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Aaron Anderson

Buy links:

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Bru Baker today on tour for her latest release, Hiding in Plain Sight. Welcome, Bru!

 

~  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Bru Baker ~

 

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

I think those are two totally different animals. We make our characters richer by using our own experiences to help shape them. That’s a far cry from a Mary Sue character where we’re inserting ourselves into the story and living vicariously through a character. Readers connect with our characters when they have personalities that leap off the page, and the way we as authors accomplish that is by giving them strong feelings and experiences that can appeal to a variety of people. Some of our first impressions of Harris in the opening scene of Hiding in Plain Sight tells the reader he loves sleeping in on his rare days off and he has a low tolerance for cutesy couples and PDA. These are traits I share, and Harris’s sarcastic take on them is definitely influenced by me. But that doesn’t mean Harris has my personality or that I’m envisioning myself as Harris as I write. Instead, by choosing a few things that I feel passionately about to include in his character, I’m able to write him with real emotions and quirks that I can easily describe to build a scene for the readers.

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

I read everything that wasn’t nailed down. I still would, if I had unlimited time in the day! I think reading across a broad swathe of genres has made me more well-rounded as a writer. I also went through a period where I was obsessed with thrillers, and I’m having fun incorporating some suspenseful elements in the Camp H.O.W.L. series. That will continue into the spin-off series, since the first book features a shifter NYPD detective and a werewolf who ends up on the wrong end of a crime ring.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Both! There are definitely times where I like that HEA wrapped up for me in a bow, both as a writer and a reader. But I also love shorter-form stories that end with that HFN and that delicious promise of an undefined but assumed amazing future for the couple. If I can end a book on a happy sigh, that’s a good ending–whether it’s an epilogue showing the couple married and established in their future or one that ends shortly after their first kiss and dangles the promise of that HEA down the road.

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

As a teenager I read all the romance of all genres I could get my hands on. Nora Roberts’ early books are still comfort reads for me, as well as Danielle Steel and of course, the Harlequin category romance books. The first book with romantic elements I read was Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, stolen off my mother’s bookshelf when I was around nine. I feel like that explains a lot about my choice to write romance with erotic elements.

As an adult I still enjoy reading broadly across the romance genres. Paranormal, romantic suspense, gothic romance, category romance, historicals, contemporaries–basically as long as it has some great banter and a swoon-worthy love story, I’m in.

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?

I think it all comes down to the author’s skill in showcasing all the facets of a flawed person’s character. One of my favorite romantic characters in fiction is Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, and it’s hard to find a character more flawed than him. He’s by all accounts unlovable, but we understand why and we see how that haunts him, and we see him try, at least as best he can. For me, that’s what makes a character real and relatable. I don’t want to read (or write) someone who has a perfect life. I want characters who make mistakes and have fatal flaws but still manage to find love despite them.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I’m drawn to people who are comfortable with who they are as a person. Someone who has the confidence to be flawed or quirky and finds happiness in that despite what anyone else might think of them. Luna Lovegood is one of my favorite characters in the Harry Potter series because she’s unapologetically herself. I love being with people who have a passion for something–even if it’s something I don’t personally care about. If they have the ability to throw all of themselves into something it usually means they’ll do the same for a relationship. (It also often means they’ll forget to eat/pick up the kids/be human, which is probably why I have developed such a love taking care of people!)

I do tend to write characters who share the same passions and hobbies as the people I surround myself with . Most of the main characters I write have a deeply rooted sarcastic side or a quirky sense of humor, and that comes from my circle of friends and family, too.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

I have multiple folders of unfinished WIPs on my hard drive, as I imagine most authors do. As readers have to put a book aside because it’s not the right fit for our mood, and the same thing happens to authors. Sometimes you have that lightning-strike moment where you feverishly plot out a book and you’re able to stay with that until it’s finished, and sometimes it’s a plod and you feel like you can’t do it justice at that moment. I wish I could say I’ve picked all those up and run with them later, but I probably have 20 or so unfinished WIPs, some pushing 50 to 60,000 words, in those WIP folders.

I did recently pull one out and finish it. Downward Facing Dreamboat is a novella that was part of a giveaway on Instafreebie a few weeks ago, and I hope to offer it in Kindle Unlimited soon.

What’s next for you as a writer?

I’m currently working on another Dreamspun Desires book that was inspired by an unexpected overnight layover in Dallas on my way home from the Romantic Times convention in Reno earlier this year. I’m also working on edits for the spin-off series for Camp H.O.W.L., which will follow the wolves to New York City as they integrate with the Connoll Pack. We’ll get to explore all the Supes we learned about in Hiding in Plain Sight and more, since the city is a hotbed for Supernaturals!

Blurb:

Hiding in Plain Sight: A Camp H.O.W.L. Novel


Happily ever after is right under their noses.

Harris has been keeping a big secret for years—his unrequited mate bond with his best friend, Jackson. He’s convinced himself that having Jackson in his life is enough. That, and his work at Camp H.O.W.L., keeps him going.

Things get complicated when Jackson applies for a high-ranking Tribunal job in New York City—far from Camp H.O.W.L. The position requires he relinquish all Pack bonds… and that’s when his wolf decides to choose a mate. Suddenly Jackson sees his best friend in a sizzling new light.

Their chemistry is through the roof, but they’re setting themselves up for broken hearts—and broken bonds—if Jackson can’t figure out a way to balance his career and the love that’s just been waiting for him to take notice.

About the Author

Bru Baker writes sophisticated gay romantic fiction with strong characters, real-world problems, and plenty of humor.

Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Blog Tour for Ride or Dye (Curl Up and Dye Mysteries #6) by Aimee Nicole Walker (excerpt)

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Ride or Dye Tour Banner

RIDE OR DYE

CURL UP AND DYE MYSTERIES SERIES, BOOK 6

AIMEE NICOLE WALKER

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 09.12.18

ride-or-dye-eBook-complete

PHOTOGRAPHER: Wander Aguiar

COVER ARTIST:  Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art

MODELS: Jacob and Matthew

 http://mybook.to/Ride_or_Dye

 ride-or-dye-3D-eReader 

BLURB 

Gabe and Josh Roman-Wyatt have been living life in the fast lane. Demanding jobs, precocious twin toddlers, an ever-growing circle of friends, and a menagerie of pets means their home is filled with love and laughter but very few quiet moments for the happy couple. Gabe’s solution is to plan a surprise vacation at a perfect hideaway where the two of them can slow things down and reconnect.

Tarlington House, a historic home located on Edisto Island in South Carolina, hosts an annual murder-mystery event which will allow Josh to use the skills he learned from his all-time favorite television detective to solve the case. The serene setting is perfect for fun days in the sun, passionate lovemaking under the stars, and a healthy wager between husbands to see who can plan the best date. But when the other guests arrive, the guys find themselves surrounded by liars and cheaters who will say or do anything to win, reminding them there’s no place like Blissville.

When a guest is killed during a vicious storm that knocks out the power and phone lines, Josh and Gabe’s murder mystery role-playing becomes a real-life whodunnit. Serve and protect will take on a deeper meaning for Gabe when he’s torn between upholding the law and protecting his husband from a ruthless killer.

Ride or Dye includes sexy sunrises, snarky banter, and swoon-worthy romance. It is the sixth and final book in the Curl Up and Dye Mysteries, which must be read in order. Ride or Dye contains sexually explicit material intended for adults 18 and older.

Ride or Dye Teaser 1 Color

EXCERPT

“THIS ISN’T THE CAR I rented,” I said to the agent at the front desk. “I requested a convertible Mini Cooper and was assured you would have one for me to pick up today. This,” I gestured to the Volkswagen Beetle, “is neither a Mini Cooper nor a convertible.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Roman-Wyatt, there’s obviously been a mistake. Another agent got the orders mixed up and gave your Mini to someone else this morning. I did call and ask them to return the car since they didn’t pay for the upgrade, but they’re halfway to Florida already.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose and inhaled slowly through it, exhaling through my mouth. I’d never be the flexible pretzel Josh was, but I was learning yoga basics to help manage stress. “I understand mistakes are made, but I’d like to know how you’re going to make this up to me?” The Beetle was cute, but there was no way in hell I was driving it all the way to the coast of South Carolina.

“I’m prepared to offer you an upgrade. We have a brand-new luxury vehicle with two moonroofs, top-of-the-line leather seats, and a killer stereo system. I’m willing to let you drive it at no additional cost to you.” “I’ll take it,” I said proudly. I had hoped to surprise Josh with a convertible Mini for this trip, but he wouldn’t turn up his nose at a luxury car. My mind was spinning with all the possibilities as I waited for them to bring the car around. Cadillac? BMW? Audi? I glanced up as a shiny, black minivan pulled up to the door and stopped. I felt sorry for the poor sucker who had to drive it. I don’t care how convenient it would be; a minivan was never going to be in my future.

The young employee who drove the car around the building entered the lobby and made a beeline straight for me. Maybe I needed to spend more time in the weight room if the guy looked at me and instantly thought soccer dad. I’d set him straight as soon as he tried to hand those keys off to me. “Are you Mr. Roman-Wyatt?”

“I am,” I acknowledged, expecting him to say my ride would be brought around next.

“Here are your keys,” he said, holding them out to me. “Let me show you some of the unique features the Chrysler Pacifica has to offer you, sir.”

“Hold up,” I said firmly. “The agent,” I turned and gestured to the counter which was conveniently unoccupied, “told me I was getting a luxury vehicle upgrade since your company gave the car I wanted to the wrong customer this morning.”

“Yeah?” he asked. “That’s a bummer. What did you choose?”

“A convertible Mini Cooper,” I replied.

“A Mini?” He looked me up and down like it was the last car he expected me to rent.

“It was a surprise for my husband.”

“Oh, well, I’m sorry we made a mistake, but I can assure you the Pacifica is the most luxurious minivan on the road.”

“Both my mother and mother-in-law own one to drive our kids around in, so I’m very familiar with it.”

“You’re all set then,” he said with a huge grin, dangling the keys in front of me. “Thanks,” I grudgingly said when I accepted the keys.

Aimee Nicole Walker Logo

I am a wife and mother to three kids, three dogs, and a cat. When I’m not dreaming up stories, I like to lose myself in a good book, cook or bake. I’m a girly tomboy

who paints her fingernails while watching sports and yelling at the referees.

I will always choose the book over the movie. I believe in happily-ever-after. Love inspires everything that I do. Music keeps me sane.

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Review Tour and Giveaway for Darcy (Boyfriend for Hire #1) by R.J. Scott and Meredith Russell

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 40,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Blurb
 

Darcy’s newest assignment is to play the role of boyfriend to a wealthy socialite, but never expected the intense attraction to his date’s brother. Falling for Adrian is dangerous and certainly not part of the plan.

Adrian has been as unlucky in love as his sister, but he doesn’t approve of hiring a boyfriend, whatever the reason. Until he meets Darcy. Then he comes to realize that love can happen in the most unexpected of ways.

One week. That is all the two men needed to fall in lust, but will they have a lifetime to fall in love?

 

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)

 

Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

 

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