A MelanieM Review:Drama Castle (Nicky and Noah Mystery #7) by Joe Cosentino


Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a historical film at a castle in Scotland, co-starring his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, and their son Taavi. When historical accuracy disappears along with hunky men in kilts, Nicky and Noah will once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is pitching residents of Conall Castle off the drawbridge and into the moat, before Nicky and Noah land in the dungeon. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining seventh novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The curtain is going up on steep cliffs, ancient turrets, stormy seas, misty moors, manly men, malfunctioning kilts, and murder!

Drama Castle is the seventh Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino and I have to admit, probably my least favorite.  By traveling to Scotland and entering a castle/hotel situated over the cliffs and misty moors this jaunty crew lost its dramatic over the top edge that makes it so much fun!  It got bogged down by too many unpleasant characters, who admittedly ended up dead, but they still spent a lot of time on the page.

We got a lot of who married who, who was have affairs with who, who had kids with who but none of it carried the usual spark and sparkle. Where oh where was the pizazz?  The dancing numbers?  Oh wait this  was an historical film so that was out.  Nicky felt out of his element for most of the story, even calling his brother, a choreographer on Broadway to complain, who said they should beat it home.  And we got it.

This group needs to be home or one a cruise line, or NYC, or somewhere that can launch a drag queen murder or four, a gun that might shoot glitter or a speargun.  Something way over the top.  Nary a ghost appeared here.  What happened was sort of, well, conventional. That’s not a word I normally use in a Nicky and Noah novel.

Thank goodness for Martin and Ruben, the delightfully snarky older married couple that accompanied Nicky and Noah from the college almost every mystery.  They are truly the highlight here for me.

“Come on, Martin” Ruben grabbed his arm. “I want to be first on line at the buffet, so I can eat and go to bed at a decent hour.”

 Martin followed his husband. “I miss the old days when I danced until dawn and then wrote of my suitors in my diary.”

“Nostalgic for the hieroglyphics, Martin?” said Ruben.

Their affectionate grumbling, and snarking at each other were the gems that continued to pull me through the story when it threatened to bog  down yet   again.  That along with Noah’s parents.

A couple more things.  Taavi has been their son for a while now, so I wish the “adopted”  would get dropped except as part of the beginning exposition.  Using another adopted child name as a continued “laugh/jib element” by calling them Dung?  Didn’t strike me as funny so much as borderline racist which I’m sure was not Cosentino’s intent.  And finally for someone who has traveled as widely as this author has, I was taken aback to see in one of the opening the sentences the comparison of a character’s golden hair to heather.  Heather is many colors, from purple to a whitish pink.  But not yellow or gold.  The author might have been thinking of gorse, a common golden flower found in the highlands.  Definitely not heather.

That’s just the way the entire book went, just off enough in places that you were left wondering why you didn’t enjoy it more.

For a true pizazzy, high kick, go all out mystery, pick up any of the previous stories in this series.  I would leave this one to Scotland.

Cover art is in the style of the series.

Sales Link:  Amazon preorder

Book Details:

Expected publication: February 1st 2019 by Joe Cosentino
ISBN 139780463812563
Series Nicky and Noah Mystery #7

A MelanieM Review: Suspicion (Diversion Book 7) by Eden Winters


Rating: 5 stars out of 5


Lucky “Simon Harrison” Lucklighter left behind his criminal past to become one of the best agents in the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. He’s found a committed partner in fellow agent Bo Schollenberger and built a life.

Now, enemies within the SNB and a friend’s betrayal leave him nowhere to turn—not even to his mentor.

His boss’s life, the future of the SNB, and Lucky’s career depend on him. With the help of his lover, an old enemy turned ally, and a man Lucky thought he’d seen the last of, he must stand and fight for what he believes in.

Even if he has to step outside the law.

Suspicion picks up after the events in Reunion, the sixth book in Eden Winters’ fabulously entertaining and complex Diversion series.  There Lucky “Simon Harrison” Lucklighter had quite the reunion with his father as well as old lover.  Bo Schollenberger too had his emotional travails and sorrows that almost broke him and them.  Now with Lucky recovered, the focus shifts back to their shared office and enemies at the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control.  And that  also means danger for Walter, Lucky’s boss, mentor, and unspoken “father” stand-in.

Through six books, we have been through incredible growth with these characters.  Emotional and great personal development as they matured and endured great upheavals in every sector of their lives.  Near death experiences, addiction, great loves lost and reunited, unbelievable angst, and yes, betrayal, laughter and joy.  This is quite the saga.

At this point, Lucky and Bo have settled into an established relationship, out at work as a couple,live in nephews, pets and all.  It’s been hard won, and we’ve been with them every step of the way.  Lucky and Bo, along with all the supporting cast of characters either from their work or from outside (Lucky’s sister, people from their pasts…) are all so well constructed.  Flawed, vivid, ornery at times, and all so real that you often forget they don’t exist outside this series.  They feel that authentic as do their situations and everyday complex realities of the pharmaceutical business.

Winters plot is tightly laid out,  dense layers threaded through with both an overall series arc as well as a singular storyline plot makes for a complex, adventurous tale.  A monkey box puzzle sort of feel at times, not sure if it’s going to be scary or fun or both. So many twists and turns for us and our main characters to fight through, one hurdle, one barrier or more at a time.  At its heart is Lucky, scrabbling with everything in him for the people he loves, Bo, Walter, his extended family, trying to figure out who to trust while coming out ahead.

How I love this man and the man he loves.

Eden Winters has said she has two more books  planned for this  series.  That both distresses me because it means the end is in sight for this series I love and that it not over yet. Something to celebrate.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting both Lucky and Bo, please don’t start here.  Do these great characters and their series justice by starting at the beginning.  I’ve listed them all for you below.  Watch that first inauspicious meeting, then that wild  ride of a road to romance, love and a settled relationship you will find here.  It’s one hell of a rocky road and should be read in the order they were written.  Don’t miss a book.  I highly recommend them all, including this one, Suspicion (Diversion Book 7) by Eden Winters.  

It’s one of my favorites this year!

Cover art: LC Chase.  It’s always hard for me to really get into these headless torso covers.  They are overdone these days, especially those with a gun.  I’d at least like to a Lucky the Cat or another element special to this story or series included.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 281 pages
Expected publication: January 5th 2019 by Rocky Ridge Books
Edition Language English
Series Diversion – add to Goodreads here.








A Caryn Review: Trysts and Burning Embers (Lijun #2) By Freddy MacKay & Angel Martinez


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I have to say, this series is growing on me, and though I still have issues with some of the writing, the pacing, and am still getting bogged down in the unfamiliar Japanese elements of the book, I am now in that happy/unhappy limbo of being so completely immersed in a story that when I reached the end of the book I just wanted to get to the next one NOW!!  The ending of this one was incredibly sweet and satisfying – even though the forces trying to bring down the Bastille clan are just as strong and mysterious as ever…

At the end of Fireworks and Stolen Kisses, Haru and Tally were married, and had become parents of 3 orphaned opossum lijun children.  They were just starting to understand and trust each other, Haru was gaining the respect of the Bastille clan, and was coming to understand the American culture as Tally was learning how Haru’s traditionalist upbringing informed his actions and thoughts.  Tally was cautiously hopeful that he was breaking through Haru’s walls, and all he needed was time and patience and his em’halafi would grow to love him as Tally loved Haru.

Time, unfortunately, was something they were not to have.

Although most of the elements that set up the conflict in this book were introduced in the first of the series, there were some new ones that were a little jarring.  There were extremely dark elements of Haru’s past introduced (although not exactly explicitly, so there is still a little revelation that may come later) that I truly did not pick up on in the last book, so I wonder if the authors created them after the first book was written.  The plot also took a decidedly violent turn that I did not expect, and though it was shocking, from that point on I could hardly set the book down – prior to that point, it was moving really slowly, to the point that I might have DNF’ed it had I not committed to the review.

I think what engaged me so much in this book was the focus on how Tally and Haru continued to function in the limbo of excruciating waiting after the initial tragedy and violence.  It was truly heart-wrenching.  In so many action novels, the characters are moving so quickly from one event to the next that they never have the chance to react and absorb what just happened.  Tally had spent his entire life learning to temper the extremely threatening power of his Uktena (snake) nature with restraint in order to fulfill his role as leader of the clan in a way that fostered trust and cooperation.  Violence had become anathema to him, so his reaction was as much bewilderment as it was grief.  Watching Tally find the balance between violence and restraint in response to the threats to his family was also fascinating to read.  At the end of the book, I might have been a little frustrated with Haru, but Tally was my hero.

The cast of characters is still quite large, but seemed a little more comprehensible in this book than they did the first.  I felt like I finally had them all straight, which was a definite improvement over the first book!  And though the players and the setting are much more defined than they were at the end of the first book, there is still a wide scope of possibility for the next one.  Which I am anxiously looking forward to reading now!  Overall, a slow start, but well worth the time to read this second installment of an epic series.

Cover art by Emmy@studioenp uses the same models from the first book of the series, but the poses have a deeper meaning this time.  The models are still excellent representations of Tally and Haru.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1, 444 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Pride Publishing
Original Title Trysts and Burning Embers (Lijun, #2)
ISBN 139781786516978
Edition Language English
Series Lijun #2

An Alisa Release Day Review: Gabriel and the Devil by Robert P. Rowe


Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Flirting with the devil can lead to a helluva good time.

Gabriel is a regular angel. The former altar boy plans to graduate from college, become an accountant, get a good job, find a wife, and live a faithful Catholic life.

But one Halloween night, the devil pops in out of nowhere, challenges everything he believes, and heats up Gabriel’s lonely life.

Marcello is full of the devil. He’s lusted after Gabriel forever, but what he really wants is Gabriel’s eternal soul. Still, his mischievous sense of humor, along with his tricks and jokes, leads to a misunderstanding that could condemn him to hell on Earth. Only the truth will let these souls find true love and happiness.

Okay, the blurb for this book was interesting and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had trouble with the beginning of the book and the whole devil/angel thing as it was actually more of a joke but Gabriel wasn’t able to see it.  Once I pushed myself through the first quarter of the book I started to see the bits of the real Marcello though Gabriel still seemed blind to it.

I felt bad for Gabriel as he continued to beat himself up over how he was feeling about Marcello and what not.  I wish that we would have been able to see Marcello and Gabriel in the real relationship they ended up in once Marcello told Gabriel the whole truth and the time it took Gabriel to come to terms with it.  I assumed some things about Marcello but never learned the truth til almost the very end of the book which made it hard to connect with him. While the story was okay for me and the writing wasn’t bad I just don’t feel that this type of book was really for me.

The cover art by Tiferet Design is nice though the picture of Marcello is of a much older man than he is.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 104 pages

Published: January 4, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-445-6

Edition Language: English

Julia Talbot on Bad Boys, Weird Shifters and her new release ‘Fox and Wolf (Apex Investigations #1)’  (author guest post)


Fox and Wolf (Apex Investigations #1) by Julia Talbot

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Kanaxa

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Julia Talbot here in the new year.  Welcome, Julia.




Hey y’all!

I’m Julia Talbot, and I’m here to talk about my new novella Fox and Wolf, which is book one in the Apex Investigations series.

Raise your hand if you love weird shifters.

Now, while the weirdest shifter in the PI unit at APEX Investigations is a Brazilian jaguar, the bad guys in this one are weird.


A tiger is the leader, but his henchmen. Dire croc shifters. Dire meaning they’re caught kinda halfway between man and croc. They stink. They’re not real bright. They like water. They can destroy a building in short order.

Very bad guys.

I do love matching the shifter to their animal counterparts. I think of crocs as basically dinosaurs with little care for human law. It was really interesting writing them and seeing how they would deal with a bunch of other predators.

It was even more interesting taking a bunch of APEX predators and lowering them on the food chain.

I hope y’all will check it out!




Apex Investigations: Book One

Werewolf PI Dylan Weems is a hired to solve the murder of a client’s customer. As an ex-cop, Dylan is the perfect man for the job, but he doesn’t expect the complication of alluring fox shifter Rey.

Ever since finding the dead body of one of his clients, Rey Mercier’s life is a mess, and he needs help desperately. He has no idea why he’s the target of some ruthless people or what he did to anger them. Hopefully Dylan and his motley crew of shifters at Apex Investigations can help him find out, but first Dylan and Rey have to deal with literal corporate tigers and dire crocodiles shifters… all while deciding what to do about the mate bond that’s becoming undeniable. And is that even possible between fox and wolf?

Buy link (preorder) at Dreamspinner Press.

About the Author

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner, All Romance Ebooks, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com


Website: http://www.juliatalbot.com

FB : https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/juliatalbot

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliatalbotwrites