A Stella Review: How Not to Blend (Lovestrong #1) by Susan Hawke


RATING 4 out of 5 stars

One clueless single dad…

Dr. Corbin Davis is a busy guy just trying to do his best as a single parent. He may be oblivious to a lot of things, but surely he would’ve noticed something as important as his fifteen-year-old son, Grayson, being bullied, right? And what the heck is non-binary, and why hasn’t Gray shared this all-important part of himself with his own dad?

Plus one sassy Southerner…

Andy Ferguson, or Kandi as the Thursday night drag community knows him, is just trying to get along in a small town and hold things together while he takes care of his beloved Gam-Gam. If she’d just get off his back about finding himself a man, that would be fantastic, thank you very much. He’ll get around to love… one of these days.

Equals a pair of fake-boyfriends who will keep you in stitches.

When Corb gets the wild idea to ask Andy to pose as his boyfriend to let Gray know that his dad is bisexual and open-minded enough to talk to about his nonbinary status, Andy is amused and just intrigued enough to say yes… especially since he seems to be in the market for a fake boyfriend himself, if it will get Gam-Gam to quit nagging.

This is the first book in the LOVESTRONG series about finding love and being yourself in a small town. Intended only for 18+ readers, this is an mm romance fill with all the fun, fluff, and feels you’d want from an S. Hawke book.

How Not To Blend is the first book I read by this author (considering the other name too). I like the “fake boyfriend” trope, I like stories where the main character is a father, I like characters that carry heavy background on their shoulders. I found these elements in this new release so I took a chance and picked it up. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. In my opinion the plot was well developed and delivered. It was not a boring reading, cause things happened, I was often waiting for the next shoe to drop. Sure, a couple of scenes were over the top, sometimes facts were too simple. But what I look for in my books are escaping and good times, here I got them. Plus a lot of laughs, some tears, a lovely happy ending. And I met quite a lot of second characters I’d like to read their own HEAs. Moreover, for a very personal reason, I felt a deep connection with Andy and Corbin and that’s the main reason why I ignored the faults the story has and easily enjoyed the journey.

The cover art by Ana J Phoenix is well done but I can’t see the MCs in the model and so not fitting at all.



Kindle Edition, 276 pages

Published January 15th 2019


Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Out in the Offense (Out in College #3) by Lane Hayes


Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Christian Rafferty is a quarterback at a small private college. He’s determined to both win another championship and keep his father off his back about his future plans. He might not graduate, though, unless he gets help with statistics.  Math is not his friend.

Rory Kirkland is a former wrestler and recent college grad who tutors and coaches wrestling at the Y. He’s an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian when they meet over coffee to discuss statistics.

I love Lane Hayes’s writing style and her characters are always fresh and interesting, well-rounded and generally likeable.  However, in this story that’s about all I liked—the characters.  Christian and Rory were two nice guys, who meet, fall in love, and that’s it. Oh, did I mention Christian is deep in the closet? Well, that’s the crux of the matter. And, of course, he has religious parents and a father who has his career all mapped out for him, and he worries about all of this throughout most of the book.

So I enjoyed the story of Christian and Rory, but there was nothing distinctive about it, nothing to make it stand out from others—just the same old basic plot twist. To be honest, I was bored.  I kept hoping for more, but it was same old… The excitement came toward the end when Christian was outed to his football team and then told his father who, as expected, stopped speaking to him.  The young men found their HEA together, however, and all is well in their world.  The end. 

The cover by Reese Dante features a bare-chested handsome young man holding a football and wearing football uniform pants. The style is similar to other Lane Hayes books in the series. 

Sales Links:

US: https://amzn.to/2GYOX99

UK: https://amzn.to/2Tx3Qkk

CA: https://amzn.to/2LV8Lcm

AU: https://amzn.to/2RCe1Xv

IT: https://amzn.to/2scXJWL

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published January 10th 2019 by Lane Hayes
Edition Language English
Series Out in College #3

An Alisa Review: Elemental Magick (The Donovan Coven #1) by Jacki James


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

For most of Aaron’s life, things have been uninteresting, boring, safe–just the way he likes them. He makes his decisions based on logic and reason and he doesn’t believe in paranormal mumbo jumbo like crystals and tarot cards and witches.

When he sees an ad for an estate sale at the old house on the edge of town, he doesn’t see any harm in going and buying some things like an old book with odd symbols on the front for his antique shop. Who cares if the old woman who owned the house was rumored to be a witch; everyone knows witches aren’t real.

After accidentally raising a demon by goofing around with a spell from the book, Aaron realizes that there are things in this world that logic and reason can’t explain. That witches are indeed real, and that he just might be one too.

Malakai has been searching for the Coughlan Grimoire for years, knowing there are spells in the book that can be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands. Securing the book so his coven can protect it is of the utmost importance.

He isn’t prepared for the adorable rookie witch with the curly red hair and incredible latent power. But to his surprise, keeping Aaron safe and close by his side quickly becomes more important than the Grimoire. More important than anything.

Before Malakai and Aaron can be together they will have to battle vampires, wolf shifters, and one very powerful warlock. Malakai can’t do it alone; it will take, friends, family, and for Aaron to figure out just how powerful he is if the two of them are going to protect the book and make their new found bond last forever.

Oh, what a great start to a new series.  Aaron is confused by the sudden commotion a simple book has brought to his life but Kai is definitely the best part of it.  Malakai wants to love and protect Aaron from all the dangers they will face but still allows him to learn and fight beside him.

I loved how Aaron was able to accept and adjust his life to the new reality in which he lives.  Seeing Kai and Aaron work well together and only grow their bond was wonderful.  I loved all of the side characters in this book and look forward to more in the series to hopefully feature some of them.

We see both of their points of view and learn more about these characters’ backgrounds.  I loved how well they complemented each other.  Aaron comes to magick so naturally it will be great to see how he grows in the future.

The cover art by Vicki Brostenianc is great and I love the visual of Kai.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 153 pages

Publication: October 9, 2018

Edition Language: English

Series: The Donovan Coven #1

R.L. Merrill on Writing Characters, Romance and the new release ‘Typhoon Toby (Forces of Nature Book 2) (author guest blog)


Typhoon Toby (Forces of Nature Book 2) by R.L. Merrill

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Kanaxa

Publication: January 22nd 2019

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner Press https://goo.gl/58pSJS

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wants to welcome R.L. Merrill here today on tour for Typhoon Toby. Welcome, R.L., into our author’s interview chair.


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with R.L. Merrill



Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?


I never set out to be a writer, and I didn’t read much romance growing up. I read Stephen King and Anne Rice and I figured if I ever wrote stories, I’d want to scare the hell out of people. IO didn’t read for a long time because of college, being a brand new teacher trying to figure out what I was doing, then grad school. I read while I was pregnant with my daughter, a whole bunch of thrillers and mysteries, and then didn’t read a book again until I got sick in 2009. This time I started with paranormal romances. Sherrilyn Kenyon and Charlaine Harris were both authors I loved for their unique characters and great dialogue as well as flawed heroes who deserved redemption. My first self-published romance ended up being a contemporary so I have no idea where that came from, haha. I never really read much. I loved Colleen Hoover’s early books and I wanted to make people feel like she does. Her career is probably the one I’d love to have, although I don’t think our books are similar. I have yet to find anyone I read and think A HA! My readers tell me my characters and zany situations remind them of Kristan Higgins. I’ll take that. She’s pretty amazing as well.


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


As someone with diminishing vision, the ebook has been a lifesaver. I can’t read print books anymore. Between the dark spots in my vision and the fact that my progressive bifocals are tricky to read with, I’m struggling on a daily basis to do my job and sometimes to write. My docs are usually somewhere between 150-200% and I read on my phone or my paperwhite with the font enlarged. I’ll keep on keepin’ on as long as I can,


If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?


Contemporary romance is tricky. I’ve given up trying to write the kinds of heroes people want to read and focus on who I’d like to know and hang out with. In that sense, a lot of times my characters are based on real people, my own heroes, or celebrities that I respect. There are things that would make me personally not want to be with a person so I avoid those traits in my writing, but then other readers love those types of characters, so I just have to hope there are enough like-minded readers out there looking for flawed-but-redeemable characters.


What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?


Lately I’ve been looking at the quirky ways people deal with stress and failure in my characters. I’m also fascinated by characters that survive in that gray area. My absolute favorite TV show ever is Justified. Talk about a whole bunch of flawed characters that wallow in the gray! There’s a delicate balance, though, between how much is too much. This goes back to my last answer. Where’s that line that readers won’t blur with you?


Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.


I’m not a drinker, but if it were possible for me to write amped up on too much caffeine and write something ridiculous, I’ll do it. My drunken exploits go back twenty years and involve drunk shopping haha. My husband loves to remind me of the awful red and orange dress I bought in Hawaii on our honeymoon that had to go back the next day.


If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

The best possible place for me to write is an old building. I’ve written some of my favorite stories at the Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley which dates to the late 1800s, the Weller House in Fort Bragg, California… My friend’s house in Portland, Oregon which was built in the early 1900s and is all dark wood gorgeousness in the woods. I’ve had great writing sessions in the Jupiter, a beer pub in Berkeley as well. I’d love to find someplace old that’s closer to me that I could visit on a more regular basis.


With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? Why do you write?


I write to give hope. I write to recognize the struggles people I respect go through. I write to save my sanity.


What’s next for you as a writer?


This year is going to see a lot of different projects. After Typhoon Toby, I’ll revisit my boys Orrie and Dalton from Worst Holiday Ever and give them a Valentine’s Day Surprise. Then it’s on to a f/f story for a #loveislove anthology in June and hopefully a paranormal. Later in the summer, a new project from Dreamspinner will be out titled Summer of Hush. I’ve got lots of writing to do, including more stories in the Forces of Nature series and Summer of Hush, as well as some indie projects.

More about Typhoon Toby

Forces of Nature: Book Two

On the surface, Toby Griffiths appears to have it all—talent, money, a brilliant mind, and model good looks. With his best friend, Reese, he’s built an empire as a singer/songwriter.

But beneath that glittering exterior, Toby suffers the lasting effects of abuse. To keep his tempestuous past where it belongs, he insists on anonymity with lovers—no names, no personal information. But a vacation fling in Bali changes all that, and he can’t get his recent playmate out of his mind.

Therapist Spencer Hart left Bali with a bad case of pneumonia and a broken heart. Although he’s recovering, he’s shocked to find his secretive partner on TV, and he’s determined to see him again. Spencer arranges to attend one of Toby’s fundraising galas, and their reunion is tense.

Toby tries to stick to his rules… until a New Year’s kiss with Spencer washes away the last of his resistance. But Toby is a man with secrets, and when the storm comes ashore, it could devastate not just his professional life but his fledgling love affair and his longtime partnership with his best friend.

Will Spencer stand by his side and help him weather the storm as Toby faces his worst fears?

About the Author

Once upon a time… A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ‘n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut from Dreamspinner Press later, with more tucked away in her evil lair, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, being a mom-taxi to two brilliant and busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.



Contact the author





New Release Blitz for Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart by Liam Livings (excerpt and giveaway)


Title: Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart

Author: Liam Livings

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 21, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50800

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Doctor, nurse, contemporary, friends to lovers, child illness, gay

Add to Goodreads


Headstrong nurse Davie Penrose has moved to London from a small village in Cornwall to start work in the children’s transplant ward. He left to progress his career, but also to escape the painful memories of his ex-boyfriend, a workaholic doctor.

Ambitious Doctor Leo Westbury is in charge of a ward for now, but he has plans to be a medical director soon. Making use of his charm and avoiding commitment due to a painful past, he enjoys temporary relationships with male student nurses.

Clashing over a request to look around the ward before he starts work, Davie thinks Leo pompous, while Leo finds Davie bossy. Becoming friends over a shared passion for helping children on their transplant wards, they get closer through the inevitable ups and downs of caring for sick children. Physical attraction pulls them together; their pasts push them apart.

Both damaged and hurt in different ways, they might just find their happy ever after together.


Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart
Liam Livings © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“Davie Penrose, senior staff nurse on Twinkle Ward, starting on Monday,” he said into the phone speaker at the ward’s entrance.

“Sorry, can’t let you in. No ID, no entry.”

“I’ve got this letter.” Davie held the letter to the camera.

“Not the same as a photo ID. They’ll get that sorted for you on Monday.”

“I only wanted to have a look around, see the lay of the land. Where the staff room is, how many beds, that sort of thing.” Davie bit his lip, starting to wish he’d not listened to his friend persuading him to apply for the job in the first place.

“Go on, stretch your wings. You don’t want to be stuck in Cornwall forever do you?” Davie’s friend had said.

Now, that sounded like quite a nice place to be stuck. “Couldn’t you make an exception, ask another member of staff to walk around with me?” Davie held his room key up to the camera. “I’m in the nurses’ accommodation. Room 1004, see?”

After a long sigh, the voice at the end of the speaker went quiet, he was obviously discussing something with another colleague.

A deep, posh, man’s voice came onto the speaker. “Now, let’s see if I can sort this little mess out.” He coughed. “Davie, is it?” Without waiting for a response, he continued, “It’s doctor Westbury here. I’m the senior consultant on call this weekend. I do have other pressing matters to deal with rather than policing the ward entrance.”

Charming! “It won’t take long. If you just look at my paperwork.” Davie held the letter to the camera hopefully.

“One thing at a time, please. Let me finish, will you?”

Disappointed, and frustrated enough to be screaming in his head and wondering who’d died and left this doctor in charge, Davie knew it would be pointless to ask him, because technically as the senior consultant on call, he would be in charge. Instead, Davie said, “I have my passport in my pocket too. Proves who I am. Can’t you check a list somewhere, or something, or other?”

“As I said, one thing at a time. So, I hear you’ve got yourself in something of a situation and you’d like us to bend the rules to let you in.”

“I don’t think it’s bending the rules. Not if I can show you who I am and that I have a job offer here even if I’ve not yet technically started.” Puffing himself up a bit, feeling he was on a bit of a roll now, Davie said, “And besides, I only want a quick look around, see the lay of the—”

“Land, yes, I know. Thing is, see that’s what some old random would say wanting to get inside and make mischief. Or worse. In fact, last week—” Doctor Westbury paused. “—I’m coming out to meet you. Wait there.”

A short while later, after a buzz of the door, Doctor Westbury arrived in a white coat, stethoscope hanging around his neck, brown hair giving the impression he’d just woken. And such deep blue eyes. “Sorry about this, but I can’t bend the rules and let you in.” He folded his arms across his broad chest and shook his head. “I believe you’re starting on Monday, but I can’t take a chance. I don’t know if you noticed, but this isn’t exactly the nicest part of London. Notting Hill it ain’t.” He laughed and raked his hands through his hair. He coughed and looked Davie up and down.

“If I was a random person wanting to get in, why would I have this letter.” Davie waved it theatrically in the air. “And a key to the nurses’ accommodation block.” Jangling it loudly he stared deep into the doctor’s blue eyes. “It’s not bending the rules then, is it? Besides.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his passport. “Look, same name on the letter and passport.”

“I hear your concerns, but as the consultant in charge it would be on my head were anything to happen as a result of this… infraction shall we say.” Carefully checking the passport, letter, and keys he shook his head and tutted loudly. “Seems a bit odd to me, someone wanting to have a look around before starting. Plenty of time for that after you’re properly inducted into the trust.”

“Can’t you use your judgement? I’m sure it must be pretty sound as a consultant.” It was do or die, and Davie needed something to bring this bloody doctor out of his fixation on the damned rules.

Holding his head high, the doctor said, “Of course. My clinical judgement is second to none. I have a fantastic record here and received the highest clinical excellence award possible for the last two years.”

“Very impressive. Well then.” Was it working? Had he taken the bait?

He adjusted his stethoscope around his neck and flattened the collar on his white coat. “I’m thinking. Considering the facts. You.” He looked Davie up and down with a smile.

“Rules are rules for a reason. I’m sure they are. I do know. I have worked on children’s wards myself. Where everyone has to be police checked and all that. But really, honestly, do I look like a random. Can’t you just use some of this amazing judgement and let me in. Please?” Davie smiled.

“You’re not going to take no for an answer, are you?”

Davie shook his head. He usually never did, so why start now with this high-handed doctor? Why did doctors always think they ran the whole hospital if not the whole world? Thinking better than to voice that out loud, he simply held his letter and keys for the doctor to see. Bringing his judgement into the equation may have just worked…. Davie held his breath.

He sighed, raked his hands through his tousled hair and said, “Tell you what. I’ve looked at the evidence you’ve presented to me and I’m satisfied you are who you say you are. But you’re to stay with me the whole time. No wondering off, all right?”

Davie nodded excitedly. He’d done it! He’d won! One nil to Davie!

Entering the code into the keypad, the door opened, and the doctor opened the door. “After you.”

Now, that’s a surprise, Davie thought, expecting the doctor to be something of a me-first-damn-everyone-else man.

Following Davie through the door, the doctor said, “Now, let’s see if we can’t give you a quick tour. I’ll take the flack if I don’t see you back here Monday morning.” He flashed Davie a smile, and butterflies began to stir in Davie’s stomach.


NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He has a sweet tooth for food and entertainment: loving to escape from real life with a romantic book; enjoying a good cry at a sad, funny and camp film; and listening to musical cheesy pop from the eighties to now. He tirelessly watches an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

Published since 2013 by a variety of British and American presses, his gay romance and gay fiction focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle. He’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. With a masters in creative writing from Kingston University, he teaches writing workshops with his partner in sarcasm and humour, Virginia Heath as http://www.realpeoplewritebooks.com and has also ghost written a client’s 5 Star reviewed autobiography.

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Cover Reveal for Rat Park by Marina Vivancos (giveaway)



Release Date: January 28 2019
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
Length: 71,000 words approx.

Dominic has lived with an empty ache inside him for as long as he could remember. Maybe it started when he was six, hiding beneath his blankets as the wild animal noises of one of mom’s parties echoed in his head. Maybe it began the first time an adult plied him with drinks just to watch him stumble about.

Or, maybe, it was that he couldn’t even imagine what being loved should feel like.

Drugs washed all that away. It didn’t cure the ache, but it made him forget it for a while. Anything was better than being conscious. Than being himself. But life had another hard lesson for him: With drugs, the only way is down.

Dominic hits rock bottom when he’s twenty-three. Turns out, rock bottom looks a lot like the bars of a jail cell. With little left but his own thoughts, Dominic has to decide: Is this what I want for the rest of my life?

The world has never been kind to Dominic, but when he meets the Romeros, he wonders if that is about to change. Officer Catalina Romero seems to see something in Dominic that he is sure isn’t there. The more she pulls him towards her family, however, the harder it is not to go.

All his resistance disappears under the force that is Flor Romero. Spitfire, stubborn Flor—even at sixteen, he refuses to be taken lightly. As he grows older, putting a stop to what Flor obviously wants to happen between them is harder than Dominic would ever want to admit.

Dominic knows that he has too many demons to let anybody get too close. But life doesn’t prepare him for Flor, who just might be ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Dominic’s life—and his heart.

The question is, will Dominic’s past keep him from his future?


Author Bio

When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.

Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.

Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.

Marina tends to keep to herself unless prompted, so don’t be shy in approaching her!

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