A Free Dreamer Review: Rebellion by Naomi Aoki

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Rating: 4 stars out 5

1899, political tensions are rising with the emergence of the Boxer Movement in Northern China, straining ties between the Chinese Imperial Government and the Eight Nations with stakes in the country. As a Captain in the Royal Marines, Alfred Cartwright is deployed to Shanghai, where he discovers more than he’d dared to dream of – Love. Not even the struggles with language or the fear of reprisals if their relationship is found out, can stop Alfred from falling for the Chinese man he encounters. But as the ant-foreigner sentiment of the Boxer Movement grows in strength, their relationship will be put to the test.

Where do Alfred’s loyalties lie? With the man he loves or his country, as they stand opposite each other on a battlefield neither can escape.

I’ve found Asian history in general, and Chinese and Japanese history in particular, fascinating for a long time. So when the review request for “Rebellion” popped up in my inbox, I just couldn’t say no.

First of all, you definitely don’t need to be an expert on China, Chinese history or the Boxer Uprising to understand and enjoy this book. All I knew about the Boxer Uprising before I started this book was that it happened it in China a longish time ago and a vague recollection that it wasn’t actually about boxers. After finishing “Rebellion” I can’t say I know too much more, to be honest. And that’s a shame, because when I read a historical novel, I expect to learn more about the period it is set in. But this book mainly focused on Alfred’s feelings and the time he spent with Zhang, rather than what was going on around them.

The few things I did learn about the time period were truly fascinating, however. I had no idea homosexuality wasn’t a big deal, for example. And we did get some details on how the British Empire and other nations behaved in China and how the average foreigner saw the Chinese. I just wish there had been more scenes that didn’t focus solely on Alfred’s feelings for Zhang.

The love story of these two men was deliciously forbidden and horribly dangerous, because while homosexuality might not have been a big deal for the Chinese, it certainly was for the Brits and neither of the nations approved of relationships between a British Marine Captain and a Chinese man. I think the author did a brilliant job of describing Alfred’s conflicting loyalties and I came to really feel for him and his struggles.

Their relationship was made even more complicated by the language barrier. Personally, I loved that the author chose to transliterate whole passages of Mandarin. I’ve always found foreign languages fascinating and I like to try to figure out how a language works. But I can see how other readers might get bored by it after a while. Most of the time, it’s just a couple of short sentences but there are a few longer passages. On a purely superficial note I also liked that the author only put the translation in italics, not the Mandarin.

There were several semi explicit sex scenes that I found really hot, but that’s really not an important part of the story. It just showed the developing bond between the two men.

We don’t learn too much about Zhang. He doesn’t get his own POV and we only learn some minor details about his past. He remained ever mysterious. A little more background info would have been nice.

Another minor niggle was the editing. There were a few minor grammar mistakes that kept coming up. It’s nothing too distracting but I always feel a bit cheated when such simple mistakes aren’t fixed.

My final niggle would be a spoiler, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. Let’s just say that there was a conflict between the two that I didn’t feel was ever really properly resolved. It’s brushed off with a couple of sentences, so the two of them can have their happy end without any distractions.

I did like the ending and thought it was at least somewhat realistic. Though a follow-up on how they’re going to survive would be very interesting.

Overall, “Rebellion” was a good book. I did have a few minor niggles and the book felt a bit short but all in all it was definitely an enjoyable read. A solid four star read and I’m interested to find out what else the author has written. And I also want to read more about the Boxer Uprising in general, so Naomi Aoki did a great job in making me curious.

I quite like the cover. It looks a bit mysterious and I think it works well for the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book details: Kindle Edition,172 pages

Published November 24th 2018 by Naomi Aoki

A Barb the Zany Old Lady: Christmas Homecoming (The Christmas Angel #4) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

I read this story with a sense of nostalgia as both my father and mother and my father-in-law served in World War II and I could imagine clearly what the times they lived in were like, having been raised on stories of wartime and having lived in neighborhoods where elderly bachelors lived together. We were never to go near their house, though, because God knows why two men would choose to live without wives. I include that here to give a sense of the times. And LA Witt captured it beautifully.

This story was simple and sweet—the story of two young men who parted as teens in 1939 and met again as adults in 1945. But now they were war veterans, marked by the emotional toll the war took on soldiers and sailors, having suffered loss and lived in fear.  And they struggle to find a way to tell each other that they never forgot that kiss goodbye when they parted at their favorite swimming hole.

Roger has a gift for Jack—an angel he picked up in his travels and carried with him throughout the war. She brought him peace as he thought of Jack on those lonely and fearful nights away in a foreign country and she brings them together now.

I can’t describe how good I feel after having lived this story with these men. It wasn’t long, and to be honest, I wish it was longer. It did have some drama, angst, heartache, but mostly it had hope and love and left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside—the hallmark of a sweet romance. I highly recommend it and, in fact, I highly recommend all the books in this series of stories surrounding the Christmas angel.

The cover by Meredith Russell features a 1940’s soldier in uniform standing against a snowy background. A very attractive cover, this represents Roger, home on leave after WWII.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook
Published December 2nd 2018
ISBN 139781642300352
Edition Language English
Series The Christmas Angel #4

The Christmas Angel Series

Christmas Angel – Eli Easton – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Summerfield’s Angel – Kim Fielding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Magician’s Angel – Jordan L. Hawk – Amazon US | Amazon UK
A Soldier’s Wish – N.R. Walker – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Shrewd Angel – Anyta Sunday – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Prince – RJ Scott- Amazon US | Amazon UK

A Lucy Review: Shrewd Angel (The Christmas Angel #6) by Anyta Sunday

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Pax Polo is the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.

Correction: Was the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.

Now he sports a black eye and his bros have kicked him out of their band—three weeks before Christmas. It’s an unfamiliar kick to his over-inflated ego, but . . . whatever.

No problem.

Thanks to some stellar eavesdropping, an unexpected angel ornament, and a bribe to open for his favorite band ever, Pax will weasel his way back into his mates’ good graces.

All he has to do is friend Clifford, the neighborhood man-shrew, for the summer. Distract him a bit so Clifford’s younger sister can sneak around.

It sounds like a piece of beginners Beethoven. Jolly good fun.

Easy.

Because, Pax totally knows how to friend people. He has heaps of friends. This shrew’s no match for his shrewd ways. Or is he?

I don’t know what my issue was but it took me multiple tries to get this book started.  It says to be loosely based on the Taming of the Shrew.  I feel ignorant to admit I’ve never read that, so for me this was an all new experience. 

This is part of a series of books connected by the Christmas Angel.  They are stand-alone, so no need to worry about missing anything.  In this one, Pax is a guitarist and he’s just been ousted from his band, mainly because he acts like a jerk. But he has a plan – he’s just going to get on the good side of Clifford, the crabby neighbor, so that his sister, Biance, who is 17, can go out with two men, Henry (a neighbor) and Luca (Pax’s roommate).  Both of whom I really liked, just by the way.  Clifford is a pretty protective big brother and this is the only way Bianca can get around her brother.  A carrot dangled by Henry makes Pax jump at the chance.

You just know between Pax’s sharp tongue and Clifford’s even sharper one, there’s going to be some excellent back and forth happening, and it does.  “If you love him, he’ll always be in your heart.  If you hate him, he’ll always be in your mind.”  I loved that line.  Clifford isn’t the grump or nag he can seem and he has his reasons for being protective.   Pax is charming, yes, but he’s also more fragile than he appears.  When they start to turn from enemies, to friends, to (slowly) more, you really see how they are made to fit together.  We get to see Pax grow up some and Clifford unthaw a lot.

I am a fan of Anyta Sunday’s work and this one, while not my favorite of hers, has her signature style, humor, snark, banter, wit, all of the above.  I would recommend this one for holiday fans and enemies to lovers fans. 

Cover art by Meredith Russell shows Pax and his guitar set against a golden background and captures the holiday feel.  I only wish Pax had been smiling, because he’s really not such a serious person.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 293 pages
Published December 2nd 2018
Edition Language English
Series The Christmas Angel #6

The Christmas Angel Series

Christmas Angel – Eli Easton – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Summerfield’s Angel – Kim Fielding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Magician’s Angel – Jordan L. Hawk – Amazon US | Amazon UK
A Soldier’s Wish – N.R. Walker – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Shrewd Angel – Anyta Sunday – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Prince – RJ Scott- Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review Tour and Giveaway for Christmas Homecoming (A Christmas Angel story) by L.A. Witt

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 24,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

The Christmas Angel Series

Christmas Angel – Eli Easton – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Summerfield’s Angel – Kim Fielding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Magician’s Angel – Jordan L. Hawk – Amazon US | Amazon UK
A Soldier’s Wish – N.R. Walker – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Shrewd Angel – Anyta Sunday – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Prince – RJ Scott- Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

August 1939. Roger Miller and Jack O’Brien have been close since childhood. By the time they realize there’s more between them than friendship, Jack is leaving their sleepy Iowa town for college. But they console themselves knowing he’ll be home for Christmas. Right?

It is Christmas before they see each other again, but that Christmas comes six years and a world war later. Aged, beaten, and shaken by combat, they’re not the boys they were back then, but their feelings for each other are stronger than ever.

Neither know the words to say everything they’ve carried since that peacetime summer kiss, though. Even as they stand in the same room, there’s a thousand miles between them.

But maybe that’s some distance the little angel in Roger’s rucksack can cross.

This 24,000 word novella is part of the multi-author Christmas Angel series, and can be read as a standalone.

The Christmas Angel Series

In 1750, a master woodcarver poured all his unrequited love, passion, and longing into his masterpiece—a gorgeous Christmas angel for his beloved’s tree. When the man he loved tossed the angel away without a second thought, a miracle happened. The angel was found by another who brought the woodcarver True Love.

Since then, the angel has been passed down, sold, lost and found, but its magic remains. Read the romances inspired by (and perhaps nudged along by) the Christmas angel through the years. Whether it’s 1700s England (Eli Easton’s Christmas Angel), the 1880’s New York (Kim Fielding’s Summerfield’s Angel), the turn-of-the-century (Jordan L. Hawk’s Magician’s Angel), World War II (L.A. Witt’s Christmas Homecoming), Vietnam-era (N.R. Walker’s Soldier’s Wish), the 1990’s (Anyta Sunday’s Shrewd Angel), or 2018 (RJ Scott’s Christmas Prince), the Christmas angel has a way of landing on the trees of lonely men who need its blessing for a very Merry Christmas and forever HEA.

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.  We highly recommend it.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

Website: http://www.gallagherwitt.com
E-mail: gallagherwitt@gmail.com
Twitter: @GallagherWitt
Blog: http://gallagherwitt.blogspot.com

 

 

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B.A. Tortuga on Christmas and her new story Stetsons and Stakeouts (author guest post)

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Stetsons and Stakeouts by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have BA Tortuga here talking about her  Christmas prep and her new story, Stetsons and Stakeouts. Welcome, BA.

Hey y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things Christmas!

Okay, so I’m supposed to be all promotion-girl, but y’all.

Christmas!

I know, bad author.

Sue me.

*grins*

So, I’m the woman with the menagerie on the front porch (light up basset, yorkie, narwhal, bull rider, yeti, shark, owl, rhino…), Christmas music blaring, dogs running in and out. It’s hell being my neighbor.

EXCEPT!

I cook.

So far I’ve delivered pecan pie, dinner rolls, glazed pecans, and chocolate cherry snowballs.

I’ve received baklava (homemade phyllo, y’all!), meat pies, hummus, and Swiss chocolate.

Tomorrow I’m making chili and cornbread to take next door on one side and ginger cookies for the couple on the other side.

I wish y’all a happy holiday season and many goodies.

Much love, y’all,

BA

Stetsons and Stakeouts Official Blurb:

Gianni Cesare is a DEA agent and rancher—who also happens to be a millionaire heir to an Italian count. Running a multiagency sting out of his East Texas ranch means he needs a new foreman… preferably someone a little wet behind the ears who won’t ask too many questions.

Gianni’s Aunt Jerilyn hires Bonner Fannin, a roughstock rider with zero ranch experience and a sister who’s pregnant with a violent biker’s twins. If that’s not bad enough, Bonner is pretending he and his sister are married to protect her and to help get him the job.

Gianni didn’t think Bonner was the marrying type during their torrid beach affair years ago, but he’s not sure if he has time to explore that thought now, as overrun as his ranch is with drug cartels, macho government agents, and local cops. Looks like Bonner and Gianni are both in over their heads, and they may have to band together during this adventure to swim rather than sink.

About BA Tortuga 

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:

Website: http:www.batortuga.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/batortuga

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batortuga

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/batortuga/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/batortuga

Blogger: http://batortuga.blogspot.com/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/batortuga/

Tumblr: http://batortuga.tumblr.com/

Review Tour and Giveaway for Shrewd Angel (The Christmas Angel #6) by Anyta Sunday

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 70,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

The Christmas Angel Series

Christmas Angel – Eli Easton – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Summerfield’s Angel – Kim Fielding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Magician’s Angel – Jordan L. Hawk – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Homecoming – L.A. Witt – Amazon US | Amazon UK
A Soldier’s Wish – N.R. Walker – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Christmas Prince – RJ Scott- Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

Pax Polo is the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.

Correction: Was the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.

Now he sports a black eye and his bros have kicked him out of their band—three weeks before Christmas. It’s an unfamiliar kick to his over-inflated ego, but . . . whatever.

No problem.

Thanks to some stellar eavesdropping, an unexpected angel ornament, and a bribe to open for his favorite band ever, Pax will weasel his way back into his mates’ good graces.

All he has to do is friend Clifford, the neighborhood man-shrew, for the summer. Distract him a bit so Clifford’s younger sister can sneak around.

It sounds like a piece of beginners Beethoven. Jolly good fun.

Easy.

Because, Pax totally knows how to friend people. He has heaps of friends. This shrew’s no match for his shrewd ways. Or is he?


The Christmas Angel Series


In 1750, a master woodcarver poured all his unrequited love, passion, and longing into his masterpiece—a gorgeous Christmas angel for his beloved’s tree. When the man he loved tossed the angel away without a second thought, a miracle happened. The angel was found by another who brought the woodcarver True Love.
Since then, the angel has been passed down, sold, lost and found, but its magic remains. Read the romances inspired by (and perhaps nudged along by) the Christmas angel through the years. Whether it’s 1700s England (Eli Easton’s Christmas Angel), the 1880’s New York (Kim Fielding’s Summerfield’s Angel), the turn-of-the-century (Jordan L. Hawk’s Magician’s Angel), World War II (L.A. Witt’s Christmas Homecoming), Vietnam-era (N.R. Walker’s Soldier’s Wish), the 1990’s (Anyta Sunday’s Shrewd Angel), or 2018 (RJ Scott’s Christmas Prince), the Christmas angel has a way of landing on the trees of lonely men who need its blessing for a very Merry Christmas and forever HEA.
 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.  We absolutely recommend it and the entire series.

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Thai.

Contact: http://www.anytasunday.com/about-anyta/

Sign up for Anyta’s newsletter and receive a free e-book: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

 

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Review Tour for Rebellion by Naomi Aoki

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 51,835
 
Blurb
 

1899, political tensions are rising with the emergence of the Boxer Movement in Northern China, straining ties between the Chinese Imperial Government and the Eight Nations with stakes in the country. As a Captain in the Royal Marines, Alfred Cartwright is deployed to Shanghai, where he discovers more than he’d dared to dream of – Love. Not even the struggles with language or the fear of reprisals if their relationship is found out, can stop Alfred from falling for the Chinese man he encounters. But as the anti-foreigner sentiment of the Boxer Movement grows in strength, their relationship will be put to the test.


Where do Alfred’s loyalties lie? With the man he loves or his country, as they stand opposite each other on a battlefield neither can escape.

Find Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.  We definitely recommend it.
 

Author Bio


Naomi would love to runaway to Japan or China and live there for a few years… but she can’t. Instead she goes there in her books, hoping to drag the reader into a world they’ve never been to before.


Historical. Contemporary. Time offers no constraint to the stories she writes, happily dabbling in both so long as there is a happy ending.


She is a mother of three teenage children, one of whom loves to tell people that her mother writes romance stories about gay men just to see their reaction. While she could never claim to be fluent, she has just completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Chinese, with minors in Creative Writing and Japanese.


Her stories are based predominantly in Japan or China and her historical stories often involving time periods or situations not often talked about with her characters often being actively involved in the events occurring around them.


Twitter: @naomiaokiauthor
Pinterest: naomiaokiauthor
Facebook: @naomiaokiauthor
FB Reader’s Group: Kiwi Authors Rainbow Reads
Amazon: amazon.com/author/naomiaoki

 

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