A MelanieM Review: Always Forward! Never Straight by Charley Descoteaux (revised 1/10)

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Baxter Bryan is the nerdy half of BaxCo, a start-up in Portland’s Silicon Forest creating cutting-edge high-tech toys. He’s also a hermit. When BaxCo sponsors the Portland Rock and Roll Half Marathon, Bryan decides to break out of his comfort zone and do more than listen to the music with a beer in hand. The race has barely started when he bumps into a fit, handsome man, causing sparks to fly. But the long hours needed to make BaxCo a success aren’t the only reason Bryan spends most of his time alone in his apartment.

Cay Nissen runs every day to stay in shape. He would love to run away from his job in a Silicon Forest cube farm, but keeps returning to support his teenaged daughter. His true love is music. Cay writes songs for the band he helped form in high school but doesn’t see any way to turn music into a career. The half marathon seemed like a decent way to pass a Saturday, make his boss happy, and catch a performance of his old band all at the same time. When he meets a man who sparks his interest, the safety of his cubicle isn’t the only part of his life that’s in jeopardy of changing.

I’m going to do something I don’t remember doing before and that’s revising a review.  In this case downward.  Whem originally wrote this review, I knew there were things that were bothering me about this story. I thought I has mentioned them, sort of and pushed this story away.  But the funny thing is this book and its red flags kept bothering me.  They popped up at night, during the day to the point I even discussed the elements with another reviewer to see if I was making too much of what this story included so nonchalantly.  The consensus was no, I wasn’t.

So back to this review I went and out came the revisions and comments that should have been there to begin with.

One of the things that bothered me?  The body issues here.  Cay was originally overweight.  How much overweight, it’s never said.Now Cay runs, not out of any enjoyment, but as a means to keep in shape.  His ex wife is there to make sure he doesn’t “backslide”.  That includes making her disapproval known that he’s dating Bryan who is slightly pudgy and who would rather watch the race with a glass of wine than run it.  Cay’s reaction to that disapproval?  Reassuring her that Baxter must be ok because he was at least running in the marathon.  So please don’t be nasty ok?  Wow.  So many wrong things there, so many red flags.

In my original review, I skirted the issue of domestic violence, a central issue here with the character of Baxter/Bryan.  It was plain from all the cues from Baxter’s body language that he had been beaten in the past. And indeed it comes out that it’s the reason he’s been hiding in his home for so many years. A long term abusive relationship that left him deeply depressed and unable to function until his cousin “saved” him. Another problem I had.  No mention of therapy,  Or the police?  Just the cousin intervention.  As he stayed in his home for years that was not the correct approach. Is that brought up? Apparently not.

There is also serious flaws within this relationship or within the characters as constructed.  Each reader will have to be the judge.  Cay either does a completely weird turn about in behavior in one horrifying scene with Bryan or their relationship is on shaky, twisted ground from the start.   And spoilers….after intentionally physically threatening a man who has been so physically abused to the point he wants to die (and one you say you love), that same guy then runs back to you, apologizes, buys farm you can all live in together? You say yes no problem. Hell no.

Flag, flag, flag, flag!  Doesn’t matter that you’re sad and say you’re sorry too.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Everything!!!!!\

What was I thinking with my earlier review?  Honestly I don’t know.  That story started off fine and then took a turn downward.  And it’s been bothering me ever since.

So here it is.  The revised review.  I guess I’m not recommending this story.

Cover Artist: Rainbow Danger Designs.  Eye catching and the hard torso does play to a certain part of the story. However, it could also be any other story as well. 

Sales Links:  Amazon Universal Link:  mybook.to/AlwaysForward

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 84 pages
Published January 1st 2019 by CeeTwo Publications
Original Title Always Forward! Never Straight
ASIN B07L6P9NTV
Edition Language English

A Lila Review: Not on My Bucket List by Tom Munroe

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Sam goes on a gay website looking for romance, he finds more than he bargained for. Rejecting all the usual requests for hook-ups, he searches for something more sincere. And he finds it in the most unexpected of places, as he is drawn to the profile of a man in a faraway place.
Amir, an Algerian descended from desert nomads, has posted a profile looking for the love of his life. Sam finds it amazing that a gay man born in the Algerian desert has the bravery to not only declare he is gay, but also to admit his dream is to find a husband to spend his life with.
While Sam doesn’t consider himself the marrying kind, he starts chatting with Amir, telling himself he just wants to learn about another culture. His friends laugh at him, saying this man just wants to use him to emigrate to the west and take him for his money. But he refuses to believe it, sensing a sincerity he has never seen with anyone else. The two begin a dialogue that moves to weekly Skype sessions, discussions of religion and world politics, assistance with life challenges and, finally, a declaration of love … and an invitation.
Can these two men from vastly different worlds and cultures meet and find common ground for a romance? The challenges are great, and spending a life together seems like an impossible dream. While Sam’s friends continue to discourage him, he knows he cannot give up this man. Is Amir sincere, or is Sam being used?
There is only one way to find out if Amir is really sincere. And Sam knows what he has to do.

Not on my Bucket List surpassed my expectations. The blurb was interesting and the author delivered. Perhaps not on a way we are used to, but it worked for the story and the characters.

This is more of a narration than a romance novel. It’s like seating with a friend at a cafe, listening to his love story. Even so, it’s hard to put down. I’m glad I read it during the Holiday Break because I stayed awake past 2 AM.

I have to admit that I spent most of the time waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, I expected a trick behind their story, catfishing… but gladly, it didn’t happen. I had trouble with Amir’s attitude in some instances but the author did an excellent job presenting all the cultural differences.

That’s something that’s well done in this story as well. The traveling process, the visas, the government bribes, and everything else related to inter-cultural relationships. Plus, the countries descriptions.

Overall, if you don’t mind some telling, this is a great story to read. Just be sure you have the time to read it start to finish or close enough.

The cover by Written Ink Designs doesn’t make justice to the story. It’s a generic couple, cute but not relevant to the book.

Sale Links: Amazon | Nook | JMS

Book Details:
ebook, 100 pages
ISBN: 9781634867962
Published: December 22, 2018, by JMS Books
Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Ta Weezo’s Blues by Layla Dorine

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Sabre never had any intentions of becoming the teacher’s pet. In fact, most of his school years have been spent trying to avoid attention. The scar that mars his cheek has made him wary of strangers, their questions and prying eyes leave him feeling exposed in ways he’s uncomfortable with. Accustomed to blending in, he lurks around the shadows in the back of classrooms, turning in exemplary work but rarely taking part in discussions.OK

Professor Locklear’s Native lit class is different though. Sabre’s interest in the subject matter, coupled with a dedicated scholar’s need to turn in the best work possible, leads him to seek out a more advanced reading list, much to the delight of Professor Locklear. When he comes across Sabre reading material beyond even the advanced list, Professor Locklear invites on a fieldtrip to a nearby village. Along the way he learns more than just the knowledge contained in the books. He learns about trust and discovers that there are others out there just like him— shapeshifters.

What he believed was an individual anomaly turns out to be something beyond legend and lore, a whole different culture he’d never known existed. The only way he can move forward is to let his shields down long enough to trust the man whose conversations he’s come to enjoy, but to do that, he’ll have to stop distancing himself from everyone.

This was so adorable.  Drax is intrigued by his new student’s dedication and when he comes to his office for more additional reading it makes him even more interesting.  The field trip gives them the opportunity to see each other in a different environment.

I could feel Sabre’s insecurity and fear of rejection and it was wonderful to see Drax give him his unconditional love and support along with accepting his differences.  I really loved their connection to each other and how it made both of their lives together.  The best part was Sabre finding acceptance with more people and it looks like he will now have some friends instead of keeping everyone at arm’s length.

Cover art by Natasha Snow is great and I love the visual of the characters.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 24,800 words

Published: December 24, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949909-73-9

Edition Language: English

Elizabeth Noble On Ebooks, Writing, and her new release Whiskey and Moonshine (author guest post)

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Whiskey and Moonshine by Elizabeth Noble

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Elizabeth Noble here today on tour with her latest release Whiskey and Moonshine.  Welcome, Elizabeth.

 

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Elizabeth Noble

Hello and welcome to another stop on my Whiskey and Moonshine tour. Thank you so much for everyone at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today. They asked me a few questions!

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 when writing a book there are many instances where, as a writer, my own experiences influence the plot. There are times I don’t even realize what I’ve done! I don’t believe I’ve ever set out to write a story based on some part of my life. However, we all have different experiences in life and some of those details work their way into a story. There are little things, such as I almost always have a character with certain likes and dislikes similar or the same as mine. I don’t necessarily consider this as inserting myself into the story in the way a Mary Sue would be.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I write in the genres I write because those are the ones I love reading the most. I enjoy research maybe a little too much but it’s the other way around. I pick the genre then I do the research, formulate a plot and develop characters to fit within that genre. Even with world building and creating new cultures there is a certain amount of research that’s needed.

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

Yes, very much so. I’ve always enjoyed scifi and mysteries and as a child those were amongst my preferred books. I don’t like horror, so the discovery of urban fantasy made me happy. I think I got into that genre a little later in life.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m not a fan of tragedies and am definitely a person who needs a good outcome to a story. The HFN or HEA doesn’t have to be flowers and weddings, but I want everyone happy by the end of the story.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I love ebooks and ezines! It’s great to have one device, whether it be a phone, Kindle or tablet, with the ability to store all sorts of reading materials. I get my newspapers that way too. Convenience isn’t the only aspect that matters to me. With eBooks there is no need for massive amounts of paper or physical storage space and of course, shipping anywhere is free. It’s really a more environmentally sound choice. As technology improves and more people develop more of a proficiency with that tech I think eBooks, ezines, digital newspapers will become more of the standard.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

The covers for the Dreamspun Desires books are stylized, so there were far fewer choices to be made. I like to have something on the cover represent the story as a whole. In this case it’s the whiskey barrels in the background. I try to match cover models to at least one character

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I’d have to say Quarry from The Vampire Guard series and Collared Souls from Sentries would be my two most favorite stories. In both books I was able to delve more deeply into the characters and their worlds while filling in some backstory. They were fun and satisfying books to write.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m alternating between an urban fantasy/romantic suspense series and a contemporary romantic suspense series.

The urban fantasy series is called El Corazon. It revolves around a family of werewolves, one of whom is a bounty hunter. In the series there are four different types of magical humans and I plan one book for each type. I hope to have book one, Scintilla, out later this year.

The romantic suspense series is called Gang of Thieves and the heroes don’t always live inside the law.

 

Blurb: 

Drunk on love.

Like a well-aged whiskey, master distiller and old-money entrepreneur Malone Kensington is elegant and refined. Unfortunately he’s also a perfectionist who is more dedicated to the success of his generations-old company than his own love life.

That company needs a public spokesman.

What Colton Hale lacks in sophistication, he more than makes up for with the charisma that’s allowed him to survive on the street from a young age and charm his way into the lucrative—if overwhelming—public position at the Kensington Distillery. When Mal takes Colt under his wing, hoping to polish off his rough edges, opposites attract and a passionate romance blossoms despite the differences in age and background. But can it survive a Kensington Board of Directors who believe Colt is nothing but a gold digger and a kidnapper determined to profit from the love of Mal’s life—dead or alive?

Excerpt:

Mal climbed down from the SUV and waited for Colt. “We have to be back at the studio in—” He glanced at his watch. “—six hours. I’m going to bed.”

“Okay,” Colt agreed brightly. As they rode the elevator to their floor, Colt said, “I think I liked the spiced cranberry the best. But damn, I understand why you drink the nonalcoholic stuff most of the time. We probably shouldn’t have sampled so many flavors.”

“Hmm, got that right,” Mal whispered.

When they left the elevator, Colt stumbled, and Mal grabbed him around the waist to steady him. Colt put one hand on Mal’s chest and smiled, sending warmth spreading through him from where Colt’s hand rested. Mal’s room was closer to the elevator, and Colt leaned against the door, searching his pockets. “I think I lost my keycard.”

Mal swiped his own card through the door lock. When it opened, Colt fell backward into the room. He would have landed flat on his ass had Mal not darted forward, grabbing him again.

“You sorta like taking hold of me so I don’t fall,” Colt murmured and leaned in close enough their lips almost touched.

“You’re sorta uncoordinated.” Mal skimmed his lips over Colt’s cheek.

Winding one arm around Mal, Colt inched closer. “I’m drunk. That doesn’t count.” He licked so lightly over Mal’s ear it made Mal shudder.

Mal kicked the door shut, then turned Colt so he was trapped against it by Mal’s presence. Colt hauled Mal closer and dipped his head so he could kiss Mal’s neck and trail his lips over Mal’s jaw.

About the Author

Mystery, action, chills, and thrills spiced with romance and desire. ELIZABETH NOBLE started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into books and fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M fiction. Being able to share her stories is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural.

Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed breed canine princess, a spunky Cardigan Welsh Corgi and their sidekick, tabby cat. She lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening, winter and summer sports (go Tribe and Cavs!). When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.

Elizabeth has received a number of amateur writing awards. Since being published, several of her novels have received Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards. Jewel Cave was a runner-up in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category in the 2015 Rainbow Awards. Ringed Love was a winner in the Gay Fantasy Romance category of the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

 

 

Website (please include at least this link)  http://www.elizabeth-noble.com

E-Mail: elizabeth.noble19@gmail.com

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Love Coming Out Romance Stories? Check out ‘Out in the Offense (Out in College #3) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Out in the Offense

Series: Out in College #3

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: January 10, 2019

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 54k

Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Football, Coming out

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Synopsis

Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.

Excerpt

“Can I do anything to help?” I asked, setting my backpack on one of the two barstools at the narrow counter space.

“Nope. As soon as the veggies are sautéed, we’ll be ready to eat. Want something to drink?”

“Yes, please. Water is fine. Where’s Buttons?”

Rory pulled a water bottle from the small fridge behind him and handed it over, then pointed at a basket next to the sofa.

“She’s hiding behind that basket. She’ll make an appearance if she decides you’re worthy. In the meantime, there’s bread in that basket on the counter next to your bag. Help yourself. I’ll bring dinner out.”

I thanked him, then twisted the cap from the water bottle and took a generous sip before rounding the corner in search of the bread. I was ravenous. I bit into the baguette with gusto before turning to check out my surroundings.

Rory’s apartment was tiny. Probably half the size of mine and much older. But unlike the rough exterior, it was…pleasant. Surprisingly so. A short wall delineated the narrow kitchen from the main living area. There was just enough room for a sofa, an ottoman, a TV console, and a smallish television. Two barstools were tucked under the small peninsula by the cut-out in the kitchen wall. The palette was basic “dude”…dark leather against stark white walls, though a large red throw rug anchored the room and provided a nice splash of color. It was simple—but tidy and very clean.

“Your place is cool,” I commented when he entered the room, carrying two plates and a large bowl.

“Thanks. Let’s sit on the sofa. We have more room to eat there,” he said decisively as he set his burden on the coffee table. “Help yourself. I’ll get some forks, napkins, and extra veggies.”

I obeyed and quickly got to work, scooping chicken fettucine Alfredo onto both plates. Rory joined me a minute later, handing over the silverware before taking a seat next to me. I shot a bashful sideways glance at him as I reached for a napkin.

“Do you eat like this every night?”

“It’s really nothing special. I make sauces in bulk and freeze them. Then it’s just a matter of adding protein and veggies. By the way, this Alfredo is a healthy version. If you want to drown it in parmesan, feel free. I won’t be offended. Cheers.” He tapped his water bottle against mine and winked.

“Cheers. And thanks again. This is incredible and very unexpected.” I smiled as I twisted the pasta around my fork.

“You’re welcome. You sounded anxious, but you said we’re cool. Are we?”

“Of course.”

Rory tilted his head and shot me a challenging look. “Then kiss me.”

“Um…now?”

“Yeah, now. The other night could have been a fluke. Instead of wondering, let’s get it over with. One kiss should be enough to tell. C’mere,” he commanded, leaning sideways.

I set my fork down and met him halfway until our noses brushed. Then I waited for him to make the next move. He stayed stubbornly still. When I couldn’t stand the growing tension, I pressed my lips to his. And wow…amazing.

Rory was a great kisser. He had the simple art of give-and-take down to a science. He molded his mouth to mine and gently pushed his tongue inside. The connection was sweet but bold. It was more about discovery than possession. I hummed as I snaked my arm around his neck, pulling him closer. He sucked my tongue, then bit my bottom lip playfully before pulling back.

“Definitely not a fluke,” he said with a devilish grin.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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