A Lila Review: Ben’s Bakery and the Hanukkah Miracle by Penelope Peters

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Adam Bernard’s love-life is on ice.

Adam gave up his dreams of professional hockey when his mom died ten years ago; now his only focus is being the Jewish son his dad’s always wanted. Problem is, the pee-wee hockey team he coaches is in Boston for an international tourney the same week as Hanukkah. Now he’s stuck in a foreign city without so much as a candle. Enter Ben Daniels, the super-cute owner of the local kosher-style bakery. All Adam wants is a chance to celebrate the holiday away from home – but sweet and sexy Ben could light more than just Adam’s candles.

Ben Daniels’s love-life is on the back-burner.

Ben hasn’t stepped on the ice in three years. The official reason is that he’s too focused on making his kosher-style bakery a success. Problem is, he’s never kept kosher in his life, and internet searches only take you so far. Enter Adam Bernard, in town for one week only, with all the cultural touchstones anyone could want. All Ben wants is Adam’s Certified Jewish Opinion on his sufganiyot – but Adam could be the one to light Ben’s desire for ice again.

This Hanukkah, Adam and Ben find their miracles aren’t only on the ice.

Their fling was only meant to last for the holiday. But Adam’s about to get the chance to rewrite his history – and Ben’s dreams of business success are about to come true. Will they be so willing to extinguish their relationship in eight days – or will their Hanukkah miracle last for a lifetime?

Ben’s Bakery and the Hanukkah Miracle is an amazing treat to start the holiday season. The prologue was a bit hard to read since it felt as an omniscient narrator took over but in the end, it worked. After the first chapter, it’s easier to follow the author’s vision.

This story reads like a Hallmark Holiday movie. It’s sweat, steamy, interesting, and filled with hope and well wishes. All the characters were well-rounded and had a roll in moving the plot forward. The secondary characters are diverse but not simple tokens. They added color to the story.  The kids were perfect and acted their age, a mix of curiosity and innocence that balanced the adults and the drama.

Ben and Adam had great chemistry from the instant they met. All their matchmakers gave the reader a little window into their personality. They are both Jewish but were brought up differently. It took them several nights to get over the majority of their differences but they made it work.

I can’t tell you everything the author shows is accurate but she did an excellent job bringing culture and religion to the forefront of the story without making it feel as a soapbox. I loved the little details and how much they meant to Ben and Adam. I haven’t tried any of Ben’s dishes but I will love to do it now, even the eggplant 😉

This is definitely the way to start the Holidays this year.

The cover by Creativindie goes perfectly with the story. The characters are exactly as the author described them, and all the other little elements are present in the book. Great color and composition.

Sale Links: Amazon | Nook | iBooks

Book Details:
ebook, 242 pages
Published: November 13, 2018, by Penelope Peters
Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Honeymoon For One by Keira Andrews

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Amazing! Kiera Andrews brings home another hit and strikes it out of the ballpark.

The day before his wedding, Ethan comes home early to surprise his fiancé before they head out to their bachelor party. Though he’s not looking forward to the crowds because he’s hard of hearing, going deaf at an early age due to a genetic anomaly, he’s a bit distracted when he first walks in. But what and who he finds in his bed is exactly what you’d imagine. His fiancé and his best friend have been carrying on for several years and the proposition his fiancé makes nearly floors him.

Gutted, and with no immediate family left and now no best friend either, Ethan makes the decision to go to Australia alone. Intended to be his honeymoon trip, a visit to Australia is something his mother always wanted, and he chose the destination in part to honor her, so why not go alone? Better than staying in big, noisy New York City, where he’s not happy anyway and half the time can’t hear what anyone is saying due to the cacophony of sound echoing from building to building.

Clay Kelly drives bus tours on Australia’s East Coast. Living in Sydney with his adult daughter, the 46-year-old divorced father of two is pretty happy with life as it is, though he never does much more than work and watch cricket—his all-time favorite sport. When a hard of hearing young man joins the tour alone, Clay decides to befriend him—especially after he overhears the man explaining that he’s alone because his wedding was called off. He figures the least he can do is help by doing as the young man asks: speak slowly while facing him so that he can understand what’s being said. So many others talk too fast or put their hands in front of their face or turn slightly away. The author makes this point really well by adding mumble, mumble to the dialogue when in Ethan’s POV so we can appreciate how difficult it is for him to hear.

The author also takes time with this subject, educating without preaching, and she develops Ethan into such a loveable character that I just wanted to take this sweet young man under my wing and show him he’s not alone.  Fortunately, that’s what Clay does. He’s never been with a man, though he had a brush with neighborhood homophobia toward a nice young man in his childhood and suspected he might have felt an attraction before the boy was run out of the area. But he’s most definitely drawn to Ethan and decides to act on his attraction, despite the fact he has to tell his kids, his ex-wife, and his parents. 

This story has all the elements I love: age gap, man over forty, first time with a man, a sweet MC (or two), ordinary—yet complex—people doing extraordinary things like falling in love with someone who lives half a world away. Just lovely and I highly recommend it.

The cover by Dar Albert is perfect for this story and features a young man sunbathing at the beach and another walking past behind him. The colors of the sky and ocean are bright blue and the title in hot pink. I think I might have picked this up for the cover alone, but the contents are definitely a solid win.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 286 pages
Published September 27th 2018 by KA Books
ISBN139781988260372
Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Prerelease Review: The Bones Beneath My Skin by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

After the death of Nate’s parents, he takes the truck he inherited to the cabin they left him in order to take some time to grieve. The drive to the cabin lets us get to know Nate and his family history; it should come as no surprise it is gut wrenching stuff from this author. If possible, Nate’s night is about to become a whole lot worse, or better–at least interesting.

When he encounters the man and girl at his cabin, the series of events are strange. The main question I think anyone would have is, why does Nate go along with everything happening? There is his curiosity, of course. He is a journalist, so it’s in his nature to dig and want information. There is shock, and sometimes you just go along with what is going on around you and do what you’re told. Sometimes when you have nothing to lose, you make different decisions than you normally would. But if he thought his life was toast before, it is really crispy now, and there is no turning back into bread ever again (read the book.)

The thing is, even in a book full of strange and impossible things, these characters are more real than the characters in most stories. Art is that child that is too knowing, yet is still excited about every new thing. Nate is that man who has lost faith in the world and himself, but he can still surprise himself. Alex is the man who is resurrected from the ashes of his own life with a new purpose. The forced intimacy of them staying alone in an isolated place, and then being on the run together, works well. The slow burn finally gets kindled when everything snaps into place–when we know they are there by choice, rather than just letting events carry them. The author set this book in the 1990’s, so the use of political events, news, and pop culture help keep it grounded in the period.

The story is told from Nate’s POV, so it’s easy to sympathize with his emotions: as he gets attached to Alex and Artemis Darth Vader, as he has his existential crisis, as he experiences things so foreign to the way his neat ordered world was before. I laughed and cried reading this. There are times we do get to see other points of view that I enjoyed and added to the emotional impact of what was happening. It’s very difficult to review without spoilers, and really her name should tell you all you need to know. The genius of this book is not that I didn’t see what was happening beforehand–it is that I was still shocked and horrified when things happened. Then, I had no idea how the story was going to get out of the walls it had built; don’t worry, it walks through them.

The ending does go to an omnipotent observer POV before switching back to Nate’s POV and that annoyed me for a second. The epilogue was the best ending I could have hoped for, the one that made sense. There is a lot to be said for people being fearful of those different, of fear turning to violence, but there is more to be said for love and hope, of building the family you choose. What sets it apart from other science fiction in a similar vein, is that it focuses on the heart and mind of the characters, so this is not hard science fiction, more of a character study. I would recommend it.

The cover art is by Reese Dante and has a “so above, so below” feel that works well for the subject matter and the idea of how we are all stardust.

Sales Links on 10/26:
Book Details:
ebook, 385 pages
Expected publication: October 26th 2018 by TJ Klune
Original Title The Bones Beneath My Skin
ISBN139781732399914
Edition Language English
setting Oregon (United States)

EJ Russell on Cooking with Love and her new release ‘Single White Incubus ‘ (guest post and giveaway)

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Single White Incubus (Supernatural Selection #1) by E.J. Russell
Riptide Publishing
Cover art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links  Riptide Publishing  |  Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host E.J. Russell here today on tour for her new novel Single White Incubus.  Welcome, E.J.

✒︎

Cooking with Love by E.J. Russell

Those of you who’ve read a few of my books may have noticed that there’s usually a scene involving food—preparing it, eating it, or both. This is due in large part to my Curmudgeonly Husband. He has a…er…close relationship with food, as both a preparer (he’s a fabulous cook, thank goodness, because I most definitely am not), an eater (he’s very serious about that), and as…well…landmarks. He actually remembers occasions based on what we were eating at the time. He may not remember people or places, but he remembers the food.

He also critiques movies based on the frequency of food-related scenes. When we first saw The Fellowship of the Ring, he was quite disappointed in how it compared to the book.

Me: Why? Do you mean because they left out Tom Bombadil or the barrow wights? I don’t think that was a big loss.

CH: Of course not. But I remember there being way more scenes involving food.

Me: …

By the way, I re-read the book after his comment. There weren’t.

Anyway, Single White Incubus is no different regarding my usual inclusion of the dining experience. In a way, food—or sustenance, anyway—is a major part of both Ted’s and Quentin’s nature.

For Ted, it’s because bear shifters (in the Mythmatched universe, the world comprising the Fae Out of Water and Supernatural Selection trilogies) consume astonishing quantities of food in the autumn, leading up to their hibernation season, where they’re much less active and eat less.

For Quentin, it’s because he’s resisting the standard incubus food source—life energies—for fear he’ll lose control again and drain someone he loves.

One of the first things that Ted does for Quentin (once their initial unfortunate encounter is behind them) is to feed him fish chowder. When I was writing the scene, I had a particular recipe in mind, one that CH makes regularly: Pierre Franey’s Soupe de Poisson from his New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet cookbook.

Our copy of the book, and its sequel, New York Times More 60-Minute Gourmet, have been used so much since we bought them in the early eighties that they’re falling apart. Sadly, they’re both out of print now, but for CH’s last birthday, I bought him used hardcover copies of both books.

If you’d like to try this dish yourself, here’s an online transcription:

http://debfood.pbworks.com/w/page/78875357/Soupe%20de%20Poisson

It says it makes four servings, but you can bet that Ted (like CH always does) doubled or tripled the recipe!

About Single White Incubus

Does a bear shift in the woods?

Well, partially. That was what got grizzly shifter Ted Farnsworth into trouble. He wasn’t trying to break the Secrecy Pact. He just wants people to see the real him. So he signs up with the mate-matching service Supernatural Selection — which guarantees marriage to a perfect partner. Not only will Ted never be lonely again, but once his new beaver shifter husband arrives, they’ll build Ted’s dream wilderness retreat together. Win-win.

Quentin Bertrand-Harrington, scion of an incubus dynasty, has abstained from sex since nearly killing his last lover. When his family declares it’s time for him to marry, Quentin decides the only way not to murder his partner is to pick someone who’s already dead. Supernatural Selection finds him the ideal vampire, and Quentin signs the marriage agreement sight unseen.

But a mix-up at Supernatural Selection contracts Quentin with Ted. What’s Ted supposed to do with an art historian who knows more about salad forks than screwdrivers? And how can Quentin resist Ted’s mouthwatering life force? Yet as they work together to untangle their inconvenient union, they begin to wonder if their unexpected match might be perfect after all.

Available from Riptide Publishing.

 

About Supernatural Selection

Are you a shifter who’s lost faith in fated mates? A vampire seeking a Second Life companion? Or perhaps you’re a demon yearning to claim a soul (mate)?

Congratulations! Your search is over!

Welcome to Supernatural Selection, where our foolproof spells guarantee your perfect match.

Until they don’t.

Check out Supernatural Selection today.

 

About E.J. Russell

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

Website: ejrussell.com

Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author

Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ejrussell/

 

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Building Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and an ecopy of Cutie and the Beast, the first title in the Fae Out of Water series! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 27, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

The Man Up Series Audio Tour Continues with Frankie:Unforgettable (Man Up #3) by Felice Stevens and Narrator: Kale Williams (excerpt)

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 frankie tour banner

FRANKIE: UNFORGETTABLE

MAN UP SERIES, BOOK 3

FELICE STEVENS

M/M ROMANCE

AUDIO RELEASE: 08.29.18

Frankie Cover 

 

Cover Design: REESE DANTE

Photographer: Wander Aguiar

Cover Model Andrew Biernat

Narrator: Kale Williams

https://amzn.to/2NIpVcc

  

BLURB

Frankie

No one understands why I love him.

Why I need him.

Why I took him back.

But they don’t have to.

I know.

Despite the hurt and the heartache, I see beneath his skin.

And I’m different now.

No more Flirty Frankie.

My dreams have changed, and so have I.

I’m stronger.

I believe in myself.

And I’m a hell of a lot smarter than a year ago.

Now it’s his turn to show me the man he really is.

To prove it.

I’ve always loved him.

But that’s not enough.

I need to learn to trust him.

Aaron

No more excuses.

No more chances.

I make this right or lose him for good.

I have to do this.

No one has ever believed in me but him.

No one has ever wanted me but him.

I can’t let him down.

I won’t.

I can’t let myself down.

I’m trying, but it’s so damn hard.

No matter what they throw at me, I’m stronger.

And I’m going to make it.

I’m on my way.

With Frankie by my side.

I can see the future.

I have a future.

Us. Together.

Forever.

Frankie-teaser1-1000x750

Frankie-teaser2-1000x750

EXCERPT

“Still no luck?”

I set a cup of coffee in front of Aaron and stood across from him at the small kitchen counter. He’d come over to my place early to use my computer and had been job hunting for hours. When Aaron got out of jail, he’d wanted to move back in with me, but I said no. The past few months, I’d let him stay over more often than not, but he still had his own place. I was being careful.

“No, I fucking can’t even see straight anymore. I need a break.” He rubbed his eyes, then took a sip and let out a gusty sigh. “Thanks, babe. Hits the spot.”

The endearment sent a warm glow through me. In our joint therapy sessions, Aaron and I discussed his dislike for showing affection and how that made me feel unappreciated. Since he’d been back, he’d made the effort. It might not seem like much, but to me, it meant he listened and that my feelings were important to him.

I put on my most positive face for him. “Something’ll turn up. What about that one at the new supermarket that opened last week on Cross Bay Boulevard?”

He grimaced, his face darkening. “They said they didn’t have openings. But they still got the sign up in the window, ya know?”

I did know. And it worried me. Aaron had been out of jail for months now and had yet to find anything. And as much as I saw him trying to work through his anger issues, I worried he might slip and bring us back to that ugly place of last year.

“You want me to have Austin ask Rhoades? He’s got so many businesses, I bet he can find you something.”

“No,” he responded with an angry snap. “Your friend hates me. I don’t need no favors from him. I’m gonna do this on my own.”

“Okay, okay. It was only a suggestion.” He stood, and God help me, I couldn’t stop that involuntary jerk of my heart when he walked around the counter to stand in front of me. I hated seeing him defeated and sad.

“I know it was.” He reached out and cupped my jaw, his palm rough and warm against my face. I wished every one of the doubters could see these tender moments between us instead of remembering the old Aaron. “I’m not blaming you. My problems are my fault.”

I put my arms around him, hugging him close. “We both were at fault. But now we can do better. I want to show everyone the person I remember from when we first met. Smart, funny, sexy.”

He palmed my ass, bringing me flush up against him so I could feel the hard ridge of his dick against my stomach. “Sexy, huh? I’m only sexy for you.…You know that, right?”

“Mmhmmm.” He got me ready in no time flat.

 

Felice Stevens Logo

Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. While life is tough, she believes there is a happy ending for everyone. She started reading traditional historical romances as a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn’t until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth’s court that her interest in romance novels was renewed.

But somewhere along the way, her reading shifted to stories of men falling in love. Once she picked up her first gay romance, she became so enamored of the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion there was no turning back.

Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. Although she practices law, she daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be some angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

 

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