An Alisa Review: Paradise Lodge by Riina Y.T.

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Azariah Bell is a nervous wreck. He isn’t prepared to spend the final week of the year with his best friend, Ky O’Sullivan, lead vocalist for their pop rock band, Moving Insignia—especially after the fight he caused before they parted ways two weeks ago.

Afraid of not being taken seriously by Ky, Azariah was concerned about what confessing his feelings would do to their friendship, or the band. He tried to keep his emotions in check, but instead, he exploded in anger over some petty issue, and now he’s potentially lost Ky forever.

Ky is looking forward to the band’s annual writing retreat for a week of songwriting and recording at a secluded mountain resort. Spending Christmas with his family gave Ky time to reflect on how he’d handled Azariah’s epic meltdown. It wasn’t good, and Ky is determined to uncover the true nature of Azariah’s unusual behavior. They didn’t keep secrets from each other, or so he believed.

Expecting to see the rest of the band when they arrive by helicopter, Ky and Azariah are shocked to learn they are alone at a deserted lodge. When they discover they’ve been set up by their bandmates so they can “sort it out,” their choices are few. But it’s critical for them to resolve their problems if they have any hope of enjoying the new year together, let alone make that new album happen.

A nice adorable story.  Ky and Azariah have been best friends since they met and their band took off but they are both hurting after their last explosive argument.  Neither want to lose the other but are afraid the truth may be worse.

After they find out about their situation, it doesn’t take much time for the truth to come out from both sides.  I could see their biggest fear was losing their friendship but they found so much more together.  I liked seeing them together months later much happier than at the beginning of the book.

I like the cover art by Natasha Snow is cute and one of the standard for holiday shorts this year.

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 26,100 words

Published: December 3, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949909-52-4

Edition Language: English

A Free Dreamer Review: Forbidden Pursuits (The Galactic Captains #2) by Harry F. Rey

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Daeron’s mother is offered a risky but lucrative job—rescuing an experimental galinium scientist from Aldegar—the lost loves lurking in her past mean she must send Daeron away to the other end of the galaxy; to the father he’s never met on the Kyleri Empire’s capital, Jiwani.

On Jiwani, the heir to the galaxy’s most powerful empire Prince Osvai balances deference to rigid Kyleri customs with his desire to explore the forbidden secrets of the Royal Baths, and the dark desires no prince should have.

But when a mysterious stranger from the Outer Verge turns up to work with his ambitious Uncle Viscamon, Osvai’s temptations lead him into a web of intrigue that could change the Galactic Balance forever.

As Sanya, Daeron and Osvai pursue their forbidden desires, they become entwined in a galactic power struggle stretching from the frozen tundra of Jansen to the searing memories of Captain Ales’ lost homeworld, Teva.

They’ll soon discover all love has consequence, and the more forbidden the desires, the more deadly the pursuits.

After the brilliant first installment of the series, I was really looking forward to “Forbidden Pursuits”.

I’m not sure if this works as a standalone, tbh. You probably shouldn’t have too much trouble following the plot, since this is set on a different planet, with different protagonists. But you will definitely miss out on some of the finer nuances of the plot, if you lack the background knowledge of book one. So I’d recommend you read “Siege Weapons” first to get the full experience.

Jiwani is a fascinating planet and the author obviously put a lot of thought into the Kyleri culture. The world-building was extremely well done and it was a lot of fun to discover all the details. It’s quite an unusual culture, where noblemen meet up in the public baths and do their business completely naked. And yet they follow a very strict moral code and homosexuality is frowned upon. A gay crown prince would be a huge scandal, so life isn’t too easy for Osvai. I liked the clothes the Kyleri men wear. One of my favourite scenes was when Osvai was getting dressed for an official speech, which is quite the procedure, with countless layers of silk wrappings.

One thing about the world-building had me confused, however. Homosexuality and infidelity are very much frowned upon and yet there are male pleasure slaves that are trained to have sex with other men. This happens quite openly and it just didn’t fit with the strict morals the emperor enforced.

I liked Osvai from the beginning. He probably lost his virginity in the absolutely most unromantic way I’ve ever come across in a book and I loved it. Unlike so many royals in fiction, Osvai is perfectly fine with his role as a future emperor and tries very hard to not let his uncle overpower him.

Daeron is very different and I didn’t particularly care for him. He was irresponsible and very selfish. All he ever seemed to do was complain, have sex with a random stranger or masturbate. He’s a prime example of a man who’s led by his dick.

Just like in book one, there’s a lot of sex. Some of the scenes with Daeron and random strangers weren’t very appealing to me. Sex in a stinky public restroom, bent over the toilet bowl, just isn’t my idea of sexy. And there was one sex scene that was at least dubiously consensual. It didn’t directly involve Osvai or Daeron, but Osvai was a very enthusiastic spectator.

There was a bit more romance than there was in book one and the sex in general isn’t as rough. I have to admit, I didn’t quite feel the attraction between Osvai and Daeron, though. It wasn’t a major part of the novel, however, and only happened toward the end.

Overall, “Forbidden Pursuits” was good but not as good as part one of the series. But it has made me very curious about the next installment. Even though only one of the characters from the first book gets a short scene here, the overall plot is getting moved forward quite a bit.

Again, this is not a romance novel per se. It’s SciFi with gay protagonists that have a lot of sex, but it’s not erotica either.

I like the cover by Natasha Snow. It fits the story and matches the cover of book one very well.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details: Kindle Edition, 164 pages

Published December 3rd 2018 by NineStar Press

A MelanieM Audio Review: Q*Pid by Xavier Mayne and Rudy Sanda (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Can a computer program understand love better than the human heart?

Archer, the AI at the dating service Q*pid, realizes humans don’t always make the best choices, so it begins making some unconventional choices for them.

Fox Kincade is the last of his group of friends to be single, so he’s delighted when he discovers a new match in his Q*pid app—one that, according to the new AI wizardry, should be the love of his life. Instead of the woman he’s expecting, he’s paired with Drew Larsen, a shy, somewhat nerdy PhD student who has also grown discouraged with romance.

Drew and Fox have little in common—aside from the fact that they’re both straight. Or so they thought. But as the guys get to know each other, they realize Archer might have the right idea. Their path isn’t smooth, because both need to overcome every idea they have about themselves and what true love might look like. But with the help of Archer—and some friends who have stuck with Fox and Drew through the thick and thin of their relationship trials—they might find their way into each other’s hearts.

Q*Pid by Xavier Mayne and Rudy Sanda was one of those stories I both liked and was left feeling sort of bereft of that happy warm feeling that I get from the romances and stories that I truly love and connect with.  The writing was well done,  the story layered, and the narrator did an excellent job with all the characters and storytelling.  Sigh.

So where exactly was the issue?

I’m not sure.  I like the slow burn stories and boy, was this one.  Both men identify as straight for most of the  story, the only “being” certain they are a perfect match is a AI called Archer, the IA forQ*Pid, who “bends” his creator’s rules and invents an algorithm that goes beyond their client’s checklists into their actual needs and wants.  And then paired them up with their actual mate, regardless of gender.  A company no no and a shock to these men and their perceptions about their sexuality.

The sections where Archer and Veera, his creator, although interesting, and the rest of her team, have a tendency to bog down the flow of the  story.  It picks up once they stop “popping in” often, interrupting the already molasses slow flow of Drew and Fox’s steps towards a relationship.  We do need to understand what when  wrong or right with Archer but the dynamics within   Veera’s team is messy, nasty (and however realistic) takes away from the romance.

The character of Fox is almost another problem in itself.  It takes an inordinate amount of time to actually like him.  And his friend or maybe it’s the voice assigned to his friend by the narrator.  Turned me off totally.  Fox is locked down tight by his background, history and riches. The author has written him as difficult to identify with, surface hard, and far too obnoxious.  Less personality than Archer at the start.  It’s not until he’s halfway into his “non dating” of Drew that he softens and his character changes enough that you can see his potential as a mate for Drew who has been a “real person” from the beginning.

Perhaps that’s it.  There’s been a real imbalance throughout most of the story, with our affections resting squarely on Drew’s side, including that of his neighbor.  Everything with Drew feels authentic.  Role on over to Fox?  Not so much.  It take a while for that to even out, and that happens only towards the last part of the story.

It was Drew that had my heart and he had it from start to finish.  Wish that I could say the same about Fox and their romance.   I think this story came really close on many levels but it just didn’t check all my romance boxes in the end.

Rudy Sanda did a wonderful job with the voices.  The only exception being Fox’s best friend. Chad.  For some reason I found that one extremely irritating and hard to listen to.

Q*Pid by Xavier Mayne and Rudy Sanda (Narrator) ended up being a sweet contemporary romance with some terrific touches.  I liked the  narrator and thought the writing was great.  If this sounds like something you would like, than I recommend it for your listening pleasure.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  Great cover and I think it’s eye catching in model and colors.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 12 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published August 28th 2018)
ASINB07JNZFMMP
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Advent Calendar Review: Summer Santa by Ward Maia

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Sam struggles with the climate, the job, and the language when he arrives in Brazil after accepting a job transfer.  With the Christmas holidays coming, Sam is looking forward to being alone in his small, boring apartment and that’s about it.  He wishes for more when his sexy coworker James helps him with a computer problem, but Sam’s too backward to ask him out.

A key phrase in the blurb is “significant low self-esteem” as that is the driving force of this story.  His family surprises him with a holiday he won’t soon forget and he bumps into James on the beach and that leads to a night before Christmas Eve that fulfills his dreams.  But Sam is not the driving force behind any of these good things, and his insecurity and inability to articulate what he wants form the crux of the story. 

It’s evident the author is new as the writing style and repetitive words and phrases are quite elementary—he “found himself” once too often for me.  The trope of the cute guy who’s insecure about his looks, his ability to find someone to love him, etc. is overdone and, unfortunately, not one I like at all. 

A key element in the blurb is that Sam is a magazine journalist, and yet that’s not mentioned in the beginning pages of the story and when it finally is stated, it’s only in passing.  Another issue is the language barrier he apparently can’t get past, and yet that, too, is only mentioned in the beginning and seems to disappear. We never learn whether James is also an American or if he’s Brazilian, and if a native, does he speak English fluently? Because Sam sure doesn’t speak anything other than English.  Sam’s family members were a bit OTT as well, especially his aunt and his sister.

Though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped, others may not be as bothered by the insecure and lonely MC theme as I am and so may enjoy the story.

The cover by Adrian Nicholas is one of this year’s holiday designs featuring two characters in a portal with the lower edges a standard red with large white snowflakes. The characters represent the two MCs, though Sam is much better-looking than one would think from reading the story, and James looks much more like a player than a nice-guy coworker. 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050576
Edition Language  English

JS Harker on Winter, Characters, and her new release ‘Tit for Tat’ (author guest blog)

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Tit for Tat by J.S. Harker

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |  Amazon  |   B&N  |   Kobo 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.S. Harker today talking about the inspiration behind her character Flynn and her new novel Tit for Tate.  Welcome, J.S.

✒︎

Hi there, I’m JS Harker. I’m here to promote my new holiday release Tit For Tat. It’s my second book published in the Dreamspinner Beyond line and I can’t believe the year’s flown by. I’m excited to share the new story with you, especially anyone who, like me, would rather be reading in my room than braving holiday parties. I wanted to balance the holidays with the time of year as well.

Call me strange, I actually like winter. Give me snow, long nights, and cold winds and I’m pretty happy. One winter, in college, the Goo Goo Dolls were playing on campus. While my college spread out over several blocks, walking from place to place never took terribly long, so I encouraged my friends that we should walk instead of taking the shuttle out to the arena. Normally, not a problem. But that night? Full blown blizzard. I’m talking the see six feet ahead of you maybe kind of storm. And somehow, I stubbornly made my friends walk it. It’s not something I recommend because wow, it could have gone way wrong. We had a straight path to walk and we knew the campus really well. But it’s been a decade and I can still feel how bitter cold the wind was, the plodding slow pace we had to go at, and the sheer utter amount of snow that was everywhere. That was also the year I climbed the giant snow piles cleared off the parking lots.

Those experiences were part of the inspiration for Flynn, one of the leads from Tit For Tat. He’s a Winter fairy and comes from the part of the fairy kingdoms that resemble wide open plains covered in snow. As much as he loves his home, he also has this need to explore our world. He and Ariel from Little Mermaid would probably make good buddies—they both just have to know what’s out there. Flynn’s gone so far as to get a job in a mall, playing one of Santa’s elves. He gets to see a wide variety of humans there, but it’s Derek, who works at the toy store, that catches his interest.

While confidence and curiosity come naturally to Flynn, Derek is much more of an inside person. He’s insecure, but he still longs to have adventures. He just doesn’t think they’re possible until he meets Flynn. Writing an insecure, introverted character was a little harder for me. In part it was because Derek shares a lot of the same feelings I’ve had and I’m still new to intentionally opening up on the page, but also because he liked hiding away while I was drafting the story. But he’s in awe of Flynn, fascinated by him, and eventually in love with him.

When I was editing Tit For Tat (because of course the muses strike when you’re busy with a project, right?), I got inspired to write more stories set in the same universe. Every novel is a complete stand alone and focuses on a different season. I’m currently working on a summer story and a fall/Halloween adventure. I’m also working on another novel for Dreamspinner that would feature an FBI agent who investigates the paranormal and attracts the attention of an agent of a secret government organization.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll check out Tit For Tat, and that your new year is shiny and full of good fortune.

Blurb

Cold has never been so hot.

College sophomore Derek is busy working over his holiday break—but his shifts at the toy store are no hardship if they mean more opportunity to dream about the sexy new guy working as an elf in Santa’s Workshop. When his mother gifts him a bag of cookies, Derek regifts them to Flynn as an excuse to get to know him. Flynn has presents to offer as well, and soon they’re dating, with Derek finding out his comfort zone is bigger than he imagined.

But Flynn is hiding a secret—he’s really a winter fairy whose magic is bound to the season. He can’t stay in the mortal realm, and Derek doesn’t want to lose contact with his family. Can they find a way to hold on to each other when the snow and sugar plums melt away?

 

About Author J.S. Harker

JS Harker loves stories. She was one of those kids who always had a book in her hands and spent many hours adventuring with her siblings. These days she wanders into her imaginary worlds and conjures up tales of magic, passion, and happily-ever-afters. She currently lives in the part of the Midwest that makes Tatooine look interesting by comparison (not that she’s ever obsessively thought about becoming a Jedi or anything).    

Links:

Website: www.jsharker.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JS-Harker-236521747017598/

Release Blitz – Kink Aware (Kiss of Leather 9) by Morticia Knight

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Kink Aware (Kiss of Leather 9)

Author: Morticia Knight

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Genre/s: Gay/Genderqueer BDSM Contemporary Romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 58 500 words/184 pages

It can be read as a standalone story, although part of a series.

If it is part of a series are the other books also available for review? Yes

Release Date: December 18, 2018

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon Germany

Kobo

B&N

Pride Publishing

Blurb

Working at Rogue Ink is a dream job for Cruella, especially being around the hunky co-owner, Ray. Even though the money isn’t great, the eye candy and Ray’s caring heart make it all worthwhile. When Cruella risks rejection by inviting Ray to be their partner for a shibari class at Kiss of Leather, they’re thrilled when Ray accepts.

Cruella’s invitation both excites and terrifies Ray. He wants Cruella, but does he also want to become more kink aware? Still, he could kick himself for not making a move yet on the sweet and beautiful Cruella, so maybe this is his chance. His protective instincts have gotten him into serious trouble before, so he’ll be sure not to make the same mistake with Cruella. They’ve made it clear they can take care of themself.

Cruella fears that Ray won’t accept their genderqueer identity and Ray aches to be the strong man Cruella needs. However, when Cruella’s dark past intrudes on their blissful present—Ray’s definition of strength might turn out to be harsher than Cruella is willing to accept.

Excerpt

I don’t know why I torture myself like this.

Cruella slid each delectable garment along the new arrivals rail in the Rags & Rhinestones vintage clothing store, almost drooling over the spectacular collection of goodies that Heath had picked up at an estate sale over the weekend. Their rather limited clothing allowance of the past couple months had gone to purchase rope for the shibari class. They sighed. It would be so worth it if Ray would let them tie him up in bed.

It certainly seemed to turn him on the other night when I suggested it.

If they were being honest, the idea had them rather hot too. When they had originally signed up for the class, the eroticism of the art hadn’t been the strongest attraction to learning shibari. At least not in terms of tying up a partner for sex. Their thought process had been more along the lines of the visual appeal, not necessarily using it as a prelude to, or as part of, making love.

They stepped behind a round rack to conceal their arousal as their mind wandered to Saturday morning when Ray had kneeled before them in the shower and sucked them to completion. While they’d never viewed themselves as someone who wanted to dominate a partner, they’d begun to consider that the desire to do so had been there all along but hadn’t been allowed to flourish.

That sure as hell was the case with Tucker.

Ray on his knees, Ray tied up and at their mercy, Ray beneath them as they fucked him into the mattress—all those scenarios had been playing on a loop in their head ever since they’d last seen him. They knew one thing for sure, when they got together with Ray that night to finally work on their class project, they were going to get a little rope action in bed if nothing else.

“Hey, Cruella. See anything you like?”

Cruella glanced up at the shop owner, Heath. “Hi, hon. Trust me, I see plenty I like.” Cruella let out another mournful sigh. “But I’m broke this month.”

Heath tsked, shaking his head. “I keep telling you, come work for me. You have a better sense of style than anyone who’s ever worked here, and you’d get an employee discount.”

Cruella barked out a laugh. “And never come home with a paycheck. No, they pay me well at Rogue, at least a couple more bucks an hour then I would get for that type of job. Especially since I’m not a manager or anything.”

“I’ll match what they’re giving you right now, with an eye toward making you a manager here eventually.”

Cruella blinked repeatedly as they stared at the tall, blond-haired cutie they’d come to know over the past few years of being a regular at the shop. Heath had teased them more than once about coming to work for him, but had never made such a serious offer. Cruella hadn’t been kidding, though, about never coming home with a paycheck. The killer clothes, shoes and handbags that regularly filled the shop to the brim would suck the cash right out of their pocket. Their buyer resistance was next to non-existent.

“You can’t be serious, hon. Why would you do that? And why do you need a manager?”

Heath draped an elbow over the rail and leaned against the rack. “So fucking serious, doll, you have no idea. Look, to begin with, most of the staff who come through here are either clueless and couldn’t give two shits about fashion or chose this job by wandering down the street until they spotted it and thought, ‘gee, this looks like a great place to steal from.’ I can’t even with these losers anymore.” Heath glanced around the shop, the few other customers in the large, rectangular space seemingly lost in their own perusing. He leaned in closer. “I love this shop. I’m flippin’ proud of what I built up over the past five years. But damn, honey. I haven’t had a social life since I turned twenty-two.” Heath huffed. “And I was only out and proud for two years before that, so this girl hasn’t had nearly as much fun as she should’ve by now.”

Cruella fingered the nineteen-twenties mauve velvet coat that they could totally picture themselves in and considered Heath’s words. “Wow, I guess I never thought about how much work it must take to run this place on your own. Although, the owners of Rogue seem to work nonstop. But at least there’s three of them to handle the responsibility.”

Heath furrowed his brow. “Is that little sweetheart who was kidnapped still doing okay?”

After the dust had settled from the horrible events surrounding Liam’s kidnapping, Cruella had been able to work out that Heath’s shop was where Neal had called the police from.

“He’s doing fine. I think in his case having the responsibility of a new business has done wonders at keeping him distracted and dwelling on what happened.” Cruella chuckled. “Of course, his fiancé keeps him more than distracted enough anyway.”

Heath smiled. “That’s good to hear.” Heath glanced over his shoulder as someone approached the register. “Listen, you think about what I said.” He squeezed Cruella’s arm. “I meant every word.”

Cruella let their finger run down the beaded edging of the coat until they found the price tag. They sucked in a sharp breath as they absorbed the amount of the vintage item. Two hundred and twenty-five dollars. They whimpered. I wonder how much of a discount?

About the Author

Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little hearts desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share—her adventures as a published author began in 2011. Since then, she’s been fortunate enough to have several books on bestseller lists along with titles receiving recognition in the Rainbow Book Awards, Divine Magazine and Love Romance Café.

Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the North Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men, she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.

Author Links

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