A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Stan Lyamin has seen many of his dreams come true. He’s found his soulmate, loves Noah like his own, hoisted the Cup, and has his Mama living with him in his new country. But his fantasies of a loud, loving, madcap home overflowing with childish laughter linger. When a distant family member passes, Stan and Erik immediately agree to take in the two orphaned children, but that means a trip back to Russia for Stan, an idea that both exhilarates and terrifies him.

Erik’s world tilts on its axis when a phone call wakes him and Stan in the middle of the night. Abruptly, Stan is returning to Russia, making deals, working with people who know people, and fully intending to bring two orphaned children home. The red tape is overwhelming, and Erik is alone in Harrisburg with the nearly impossible task of finding a nanny who can speak fluent Russian. Being on his own is one thing, but add in fears about Stan’s safety and team issues, and Erik is finding everything hard to balance; not least of which is spending quality time with Noah.

When their family expands from three to five, the journey won’t be easy, but love can always find a way.

Sometimes, especially now, you just need a story, that makes you laugh, feel absolutely wonderful down to your toes,  and makes your heart feel all shmoopy. That would be the latest in the Harrisburg Railers series, Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey.

This story has every element that’s guaranteed to make your face ache because it’s smiling so hard with the love and warmth that is overflowing from the characters and plot here. Yes, it feels that good.  Children, dogs, a grandmother, Elvis, well, not him exactly, but glitter, red tuxedos and so much more.  Plus you get Stan!!! Who I have to admit is my favorite Railer, he just is, fractured English and all.

Goalies, real and fictional, are just that special breed of human.  They take quirkiness to a whole new level and these two authors have always been able to bring that to the goalies they have created for their different hockey romances, Harrisburg Railers included.  But meeting him, heart to heart, is his soul mate Erik, another Railer.  Their relationship and deep love as well as  family is here, and it’s beautiful.

I love how the authors treat the expansion of Stan and Erik’s family, the careful consideration of the child already there, the patience and care with the new children coming into the fold.  It’s loving and endearing.  Plus we get the madcap too.

In the end, as usual, I’m left wanting so much more.  I can never get enough of Stan and Erik. I’m clearly obsessed here.  They make me feel great and just when I needed it the most.  I’ll probably be rereading it again instead of the news.

I love this series.  Such a variety in couples and plots.  Drama, suspense, hilarity, and romance.  And love of course, so much love.  I highly recommend them all.

 

Cover art: Meredith Russell.  I just love this cover.  It’s pertinent to the story and so clean and adorable.  Perfect!

Sales Links:

Amazon US | UK | CA | AUFR |DE (and other territories)

Apple Books | KOBO | Smashwords |Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 10th 2019 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published 2019)
ISBN 139781785641466
Edition Language English
Series Harrisburg Railers #8

Harrisburg Railers Series:

Changing Lines | First Season | Deep Edge | Poke Check | Last Defense | Goal Line | Neutral Zone | Hat Trick | Save The Date (30 June)

Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell

If you’ve read a book by RJ Scott or V.L. Locey to name two authors quickly off the top of my head, well, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  If you read some or all of the stories  in The Christmas Angel series by various authors, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  And of course, if you’ve read Dead Things or Fallout,  you’ve seen a cover created by the artist for a book she’s written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus if you are a follower of either RJ Scott or VL Locey or the MM Hockey Romance Group, then you are familiar with the adorable chibis that Meredith Russell draws of the characters of the Harrisburg Railers hockey players and their mates and families.  I’m hoping she will extend it to the Rush soon.  Here is the first chibi she drew.  It’s Tennant Rowe! The others can be found here at

Railers Chibi-style promo pieces

Adorable, right?  If you are a fan of the Harrisburg Railers series by RJ Scott and VL Locey, then you know Ten is featured in a very special story that’s to be released this summer, June 30th 2019.  Here’s a look at the cover by Meredith Russell, of course|
Now onto our interview….

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Meredith Russell on Art, Book Covers and Much More

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

Making a draft varies author to author for me. Some come with ideas, or a set style they’ve adopted, or images they’ve found themselves and so we go down one route and a single draft, and it’s a rather painless process. Then others need to see something to help decide what they actually are after from a cover. I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to exactly how long I spend on a draft. There are various stages I go through – getting any info or ideas from the author, looking at what images are available and which might work together, some back and forth with the author as to whether images fit with what they’re after, and finally the cutting/pasting/making etc of the draft. The time adds up but usually after a few days I have something to show them and a starting point to tweak into something final.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock

I work pretty much exclusively with images from stock sites so I am limited in some ways to what I can find on them and how I can maybe manipulate them into what we need. However, I would love to venture into digital art but I haven’t found the time to devote myself to figuring it out or getting the resources I’d need. I’ve had fun creating some simple drawings for RJ Scott, and a couple of others, who have had me turn their characters into little cartoon people though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again it varies. Some authors have a set idea of what they want. Some (naming no names lol) come to me requesting a man with brown hair and give me a couple of details about the story’s setting. I do like to know about the storyline or at least key moments or places that can be incorporated into the cover.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

What feels like a long time ago now, I used to do bits of fan art, mostly fanfiction banners for myself and some other writers. When RJ Scott went on to self-publishing she asked me to create her a cover and it went from there.

What mediums do you use? 

I work on a pc. I do have a pen and tablet that I use for drawing the cartoon characters (see above), but also a lot of those do actually start out as pencil and paper sketches that I then digitize and use as a guide.

Do you have a favorite cover you have done? 

Oh that’s a tough one. I recently did a set of seven covers for a series called The Christmas Angel. I liked how they turned out along with the challenge some of them offered considering they were all set in different time periods. A few others I really like include Liam Livings’ And Then That Happened, RJ Scott’s Boy Banned, KC Wells’ A Christmas Promise, and an as yet untitled merman cover I created as a premade that Amber Kell bought off me. Somebody should poke her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

I do. I really love Jay Aheer’s work. She does some beautiful pieces.

Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

I don’t think so much as a child. I was more about the title and blurb, particularly considering what was popular in way of covers back then, or at least for the kinds of books I was reading. It wasn’t until maybe early twenties where I started being tempted by pretty covers, quite a few being the YA type books, or having a striking female model on them.

What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

I just really enjoy getting to work with the authors. I enjoy the sharing of emails, building a working relationship and even friendships.

If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

It would be, ‘Have you remembered about that request you got over on Facebook?’ Seriously, I have a terrible memory and am constantly emailing myself or telling people to send details in emails as my inbox is something I have open all day whilst on my computer and can easily check on my phone when I’m not at my desk.

From the Christmas Angel series…

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

Firstly, as an attention grabber. If you’re looking for something beyond the regular authors you read, the title and cover are the first things you’re exposed to so it helps if they make an impression. And secondly, covers can be a way of making a brand for authors. It might be they all have a set look – so maybe a single model on the cover, or simply keeping the font for their name consistent for all their books.

  • How has the eBook format changed that , if any?

I don’t think it’s changed it too greatly, in that whether you’re walking a row of books in a store or scrolling through online pages of somewhere like Amazon, covers are there to grab your attention.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse, generic covers ,etc.)

I think like with everything styles come in and out of fashion. There was the time of the headless models, shirtless torsos, two models, touched up single image covers,  Recently, for me at least, it’s been focusing on a single model on covers, for example The Christmas Angel series and having just one of the characters on there. And unfortunately, because cost is a factor for many authors when paying for cover art, repeated use of models from stock sites is difficult to avoid, but it offers artists the challenge to try and use them differently.

  • How do you feel about them?

Personally, I think the only trend I didn’t like was the headless men one. I know it was a way to make use of limited models in the earlier days, plus allows readers to form their own image of the character simply from whatever descriptions the authors wrote about them, but for me, I just wasn’t a fan. Otherwise, each trend has its place and does its job. There’s a risk of all books looking the same, but that’s then up to the artists, and also the authors and their input, to put their own twist on what’s popular.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

If you’re interested in my work both as an author and cover artist you can view details at my website meredithrussell.co.uk, or find me over at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/meredithrussellauthor. Thank you.

 

About Meredith

Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

Meredith Russell’s Media links
I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s spotlight with Meredith Russell.  It has been a joy getting to know her further.  Please check out more of her artwork and stories at her website listed above.
We have more Artist Spotlights Scheduled. The schedule to date (with links in case you missed one):
February 09:  Aisha Akeju
February 10:   Garrett Leigh
February 17:   Meredith Russell
February 24:  Reese Dante
March  3           Paul Richmond

Cover Artist Giveaway:

Please don’t forget to leave comments or questions for our artists to be entered into our Book Cover Artist Giveaway, a Gift Certificate for $10 the person chosen.  Please leave a email address where you can be reached.  Open until St. Patrick’s Day.
Now for this week’s reviews and tours.  Happy Reading and Listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 17:

  • Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

Monday, February 18:

  • Release Blitz Milo by Lily Morton
  • Amy Lane Author Guest Post
  • Harmony Ink YA John Goode
  • An Alisa Review: Port in a Storm (Kitten and Witch #1) by K.L. Noone
  • A MelanieM Review: Wolff (Redemption #1) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lucy Review: Shine (Uncorked #4) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review: For the Clan by Archer Kay Leah

Tuesday, February 19:

  • Book Blitz for Blood Lust by L.E. Royal
  • Cover Reveal – Broken by Colette Davison
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ithani (The Oberon Cycle #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: My Fair Brady by K.C. Wells
  • A Lucy Audio Review: Rocking the Cowboy by Skylar M. Catesj and  Colin Darcy (Narrator)

Wednesday, February 20:

  • Ostakis by Angelica Primm
  • Review Tour – Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan
  • Cover Reveal,- The Rising by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A Lucy Review: Sweet (Uncorked #5) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan Harbor Cycle #8) by Sam Burns
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez

Thursday, February 21:

  • BLOG TOUR Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock
  • An ALisa Review: The Romantic by Elodie Parkes
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Redemption #2) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lila Review The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon by Megan Derr
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin

Friday, February 22:

  • OLD SINS by Charlie Cochrane Tour by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Jay Northcote – Better Place (Rainbow Place #3)
  • DSP PROMO Andrew Grey on Reunited
  • Book Blast – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • An Alisa Review: Ace of Hearts by Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris
  • A Caryn Review: Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock

Saturday, February 23:

  • Release Blitz Signal – Kris Jacen – Step Up With Me
  • “Ithani” by J. Scott Coatsworth Mark (OWL) Tour
  • A MelanieM Review:  Step Up With Me by Kris Jacen
  • A MelanieM Review Waiting on the Rain by Freddy MacKay

A Stella Release Day Review: Rebound by Andrew Grey

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RATING 2,5 out of 5 stars

Professional basketball player Bri Early needs a physical therapist after an injury, and he’s heard that Obie is the best. Bri takes an immediate liking to the out-and-proud man with the magic touch, and even though Bri isn’t openly gay himself, he’d never let anything stand in the way of something he wants.

Obie can’t deny that the sexy athlete presses all his buttons, but he’s a professional and has no intention of getting involved with a client. While they’re working together, it’s hands off, no matter how great the temptation.

But being a pro athlete isn’t easy. Bri has enemies, and one of them is making his life hell. When his house is set ablaze, Bri can no longer pretend the threatening messages he’s receiving are jokes. He needs a safe place to stay, and Obie can’t turn his back. But the two of them in the same house is a recipe for combustion that could burn them both….

I picked this new release from one of my favorite authors because I know how great Andrew Grey is and I found the blurb quite interesting. Rebound is well written, with a good plot, well defined characters. Plus there was a mystery to solve, something I like to read once in a while.

I have to say the novel started pretty well, easy and fast to read, engaging. I liked the first part a lot, discovering Bri and Obie stories, their meeting and quick friendship, how they actually knew each other without falling in bed. Plus I had some laughs with them and their families.

That said, from a moment the story went down and I struggled a lot to finish it. First of all, I missed the feelings, I wasn’t able to see the emotions the MCs felt, they seemed strangers and things were almost forced. Then the mystery part was really unreal and puzzling, it didn’t make a lot of sense and so the all book lost its strength.

The cover art by Kanaxa is lovely, I like it very much.

Sale Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

DreamSpinner Press

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 194 pages

Published February 12th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781644051412

Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Little (Trenton Security #2) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Insanity was in the eye of the beholder.

Harmon Little was a surveillance expert. He lived in the shadows, and he liked it there. There wasn’t a place he couldn’t get in and out of without detection. As usual with his mischievous nature, his current assignment went south, and he ran. He thought he was free and clear until he knocked someone over in a grocery store aisle.

Sanity wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Solomon “Solo” Poe was counting calories. Working out until he fell into bed hungry and exhausted. He was plain and pudgy, plus he couldn’t remember when he’d last gone on a date. He wanted more than the occasional, lights out, one-night stand. So, he was going to lose the weight and find himself a man. At least that was the plan, then a big man with a huge smile tried to kill him in a store aisle. There was one thing he was sure of, Harmon was his.

There is something just a little bit….softer, an air of gentle humor combined with poignancy that somehow lessens the bleakness that lies just under the surface of much of this story.  There is always a truck ton of darkness in a J.M. Dabney story, especially those associated with any of these interconnected series. But in   Little (Trenton Security #2) by J.M. Dabney, the author gives us an element of lightness, a fun tenderness, if that makes any sense, that could be at odds with the horrendous details of Little’s backhistory, Trenton Security’s jobs, or the hardness of the men around him.  But no, here is translates into a story about a man’s overwhelming need to be loved, to be touched…to be claimed by a very special man in a bowtie. What an incredible journey J.M Dabney gives us!

Solomon “Solo” Poe is having body image issues.  But the solution and acceptance of who is he is about to barrel into him in a grocery aisle.  Poe is such a special character here.  I adored him and the relationship dynamics that developed between himself and Harmon.  The acceptance flowed both ways, the acknowledgement and realization of who they are as people and then their acceptance.  It was funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking in parts, and downright, moving.

If the journey is Harmon’s, then there are many people helping him to find his way.  As I have mentioned before in my reviews of these series, they are very much a community of stories.  The same important characters are intimately connected to one another and so it makes sense for them to appear at important moments in novel after novel.  As they do here.  Lily especially as she is Harmon’s “mother”.  She may not be his biological one but she is in every other way and her scenes, while not long, are great in their impact.  Each person showing up to shore up Harmon and give their “familial” support to the man their consider theirs.

There will be drama and suspense, because….well J.M. Dabney and Trenton Security.  It’s hard not to believe that this part of the storyline won’t have reverberations down the line.  I’m anxious to see if that occurs.

The resolution and the relationship, however, is everything I could ask for.  Moving, fulfilling, and heartwarming.  I just loved this.  This may be my favorite book of this series.  Harmon and Poe…I can’t wait to see more of them in the books to come.

Yes, I highly recommend this story and all the series connected to them.

Cover Art:  Reese Dante.  What splendid covers by Reese Dante.  That is Harmon for me!

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 188 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
Original Title Little
ASINB07CL4C5W7
Edition Language English
Series Trenton Security #2

Trenton Security – fourth series

New Release Blitz for Snowed In: Nen and Anani by Nell Iris (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS 
 
Length: 22,312 words
 
Publisher: JMS Books 
 
Blurb
 

It is time to go to my son.


Nen waited to hear those words from the Vasilissa for fifteen rotations, since that time the snow wouldn’t stop falling. But now that he’s about to meet Anani, the love of his life, again, he’s afraid. What if Anani doesn’t feel the same anymore?


Anani, the guardian of the water element, was only seventeen when he was banished from his mother’s court. Heartbroken he couldn’t be with the one he loved, he lost control over his emotions and his power. No matter what he tried, the snow wouldn’t stop, and as a last resort, he was sent away.


When they finally meet again, Anani is hopeful but disillusioned. The law that kept them apart hasn’t changed. How will they be able to find their happily ever after?


And what happens when the snow starts falling again?

 
Excerpt
 

A third knock hushes the forest even more. Not a single insect can be heard. Is the wildlife waiting for me to leave? Is he? Would he answer if I call out to him? Or will the sound of my voice make him even more resolved to stay behind the closed door?


Before I have time to come to a decision, the door is yanked open and he appears in the opening.


The Vasilieu.


Oh, great Spirit, still my heart!


He is magnificent!


He is willowy tall and has grown so much these last fifteen rotations, reaching me to my nose, standing over a head taller than any other member of his family. He’s dressed like a commoner in a tunic and pants even plainer than my own — where’s his kaftan? The clothes hug his body and reveal every long sinewy muscle in his legs and arms.


Hair as white as newly fallen snow is parted in the middle and hangs straight to his waist. His nose, slightly upturned, gives him a mischievous look. His pale lips, imperceptibly darker than his skin color, are pillowy but set in a severe line.


But it’s his eyes that draw my attention. Pale blue eyes staring at me as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing. After a few heartbeats, they widen, and he lets out a gasp.


A wave of emotions hit me square in the chest. What was muted just moments before grows into an avalanche as though he let them loose, or lost control of them. They overwhelm me; I physically feel them, poking and prodding my breast, invading my heart. I stagger a few steps backward and sink to my knees without hesitation. I don’t avert my gaze. “Vasilieu.”


He narrows his eyes. “Do not call me that. You know my name. Use it.”


The barrage of his emotions intensifies, making it hard to breathe but easy for me to identify them. Disbelief. Uncertainty. Hope.


… Happiness?


Yes, definitely happiness.


“Anani,” I whisper. Never before have I uttered his name, not even alone in the night. Saying it now is terrifying and freeing all at once. And it feels right, as though my lips are meant to say it. Whisper it in his ear as our limbs are entwined and sweaty.


He surges forward and throws himself on his knees before me. Cups my cheeks and lets his thumbs caress my beard. His gaze flits over my face as if though he’s trying to take in all the changes that have happened since we saw each other last. The crow’s feet by my eyes. The corners of my mouth that are downturned from the lack of smiling. The first gray at my temples in a sea of black, bristly hair.


I’m an older, more tired-looking version of the man who watched him walk away all those rotations ago, while he’s more breathtaking than ever.


“Vasilieu. Don’t kneel before me. It’s not proper.”


“Nen. Oh Nen. Is it really you?” he asks as if he didn’t hear my plea. His hands explore my face; the fingertips linger in my wrinkles and lines, sending sparkles through my body. He tugs lightly on my beard and gazes into my eyes. I wonder what he sees.


“Vasilieu. Anani.” The second time I use his name is even more momentous. “Stand, I beg you.”


He sits back on his heels. “What are you doing here?” His disbelief melts away. Clearly, he trusts his own eyes and what he can see before him. Confusion takes its place. With grace, he rises to his feet, bends down to grab my hands, and pulls me to standing with little help from me. Spirit, he is strong!


He doesn’t let go.

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies’ room), loves music (and singing along but, let’s face it, she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (“Make it so”). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!


Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.


Nell is a forty-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, and now spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her lifelong dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.


Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angst, and wants to write diverse and different characters.


Email contact@nelliris.com
Web www.nelliris.com
Twitter @nellirisauthor
Facebook page www.facebook.com/nellirisauthor
Facebook profile www.facebook.com/nell.iris.12
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/nelliris
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/nell_iris/
QueeRomance Ink https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/nell-iris/

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A Lucy Review: Blush (Uncorked #3) by Shea Balik

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Fifteen years ago, Kadyn Bellamy and Valor Lee had blown any chance of building a future together. Valor had joined the CIA to hunt down terrorists and Kadyn abhorred violence. At the time, their differences had seemed insurmountable. 

When Valor shows up in Dahlonia looking as hot as ever, Kadyn needs to decide if he can reconcile their divergent viewpoints. The choice wasn’t as easy as it might seem. If only the love he’d felt for Valor had diminished, he could easily walk away. It didn’t seem fair that he might have to give up the love of his life, twice. 

All Valor wanted was the future he and Kadyn had dreamed. For fifteen years, his love for Kadyn had only grown. He’d known when he’d walked away from Kadyn all those years ago, it would be a challenge to convince Kadyn they could still make their dreams come true. 

It was only when tragedy struck, that Kadyn was forced to come to grips with the past. With eyes wide open, he was ready to take a step into the future. He just needed to decide if Valor would be a part of it or not 

We got to know Kadyn in Nolan’s book, Full Bodied, and I loved him there.  Blush is Kadyn’s book and actually begins with a scene from Full Bodied, this time from Kadyn’s point of view.  This was incredibly interesting to me because it was such a great example of how much you can fool people into believing you are doing great.  Even your best friend. 

Kadyn owns Sugar Daddys, a popular bakery in Dahlonia.  He is best friends with Nolan and has a great group of other friends there but he goes through men like popcorn.  No one ever lasts long and in his words, “…he used men to try and fill a void he wasn’t sure would ever be complete again.”  To others, it appears he is always happy and cheerful and just likes to date.  Fifteen years ago the man he loved beyond measure left him to take a job with the CIA, hunting terrorists after his father died in a plane on 9/11.  Kadyn, very anti-violence, couldn’t be with someone who was willing and able to do that. Valor walked away without a backwards glance.  “Desperately wanting to make those responsible pay for killing his father, Valor had left Kadyn behind, determined to never look back.”  Those were Valor’s thoughts.

Now, however, he’s in Dahlonia and looking to win Kadyn back.  He’s been back for a while but just now runs into Kadyn at the grocery story. When Valor goes for a kiss, I was ready to quit reading if Kadyn just melted and magically everything was roses.  Luckily, that didn’t happen.  Kadyn is rightfully angry and shows it.   While Valor claims to have loved Kadyn all this time, I had a hard time believing that for fifteen years he didn’t contact Kadyn at all and it wasn’t until he was dissatisfied with the CIA that he made any effort to contact Kadyn, who may be anti-violence but was shattered by the thought Valor might die. But I digress.

“Valor had chosen hate over Kadyn’s love.”   This seems to be what happened and Valor himself, “Look, Kadyn, I know I hurt you, but…” has that same attitude. I really appreciated that Kayden had to think it over and weight it out on whether he could do this.  “And you’re right, there are some in this world who probably should be killed.  I just don’t know that I can be with someone who is willing to be with that person.”

As the story progresses, however, it’s like someone else started writing because now it’s Kadyn’s fault they were torn apart.  That somehow the dark side of Valor, the side willing to hurt and kill, was always there and Kadyn just didn’t want to see it and was asking Valor to change who he was.  Which I didn’t understand because by asking Kadyn to accept the violence, which Valor freely admits if he needs to he would go right back to the CIA and do this work, Valor is asking Kadyn to change who he is.  Kadyn is very upfront, “If you are even thinking of rejoining the CIA, or in any way hunting down terrorists, I can’t be a part of your life.  I couldn’t take it.”  The response after fifteen years?  “Then you don’t love me, Kadyn.  Maybe you never did.”   My rating went down because it was so hypocritical for Valor to demand Kadyn change his views and stance, while not honoring that Kadyn do the same.

I may be in the minority on this but I did NOT think Kadyn was the one in the wrong here.  The story sort of heads that way and that was irritating me.  I was really interested in how they were going to work this out, how to come to some sort of compromise that would make this possible and it seems they were slowly trying to.  Then a plot device was thrown in that made things too simplistic for me.  I wanted them to work things out intellectually between them, not because of some outside happening forcing a change.  The conversations surrounding this, however, were powerful and necessary.

I really wanted to know the story of Chet and Leo, who are an established couple here, because they are lovely together.  I’m not sure if their story has been told but I am very happy that the next in the series is Shine because he is such an interesting character and his “Southernisms” were actually some of the ones my own grandfather used to say!

This was another solid addition to the Uncorked series.  My wish right now is to know – what in the world is going on with Andrew and Brogan?

Cover art instantly grabs your attention with the striking models and informs with the blush wine. Great job.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 184 pages
Published November 29th 2017 (first published August 2017)
Original Title Blush
ASINB077PVX6MD
Edition Language English
Series Uncorked #3

A MelanieM Review: Peony Lanterns by Patricia Correll

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Mitsu has been Shiro’s personal servant and best friend since they were both six years old, and he’s been in love with him for nearly that long. While Shiro takes lovers of both sexes, the gulf between their social classes is so vast that Mitsu has never spoken his feelings aloud.

When Shiro meets the beautiful Lady Keiko, he’s instantly infatuated. His affection soon turns to obsession, and Mitsu resigns himself to a life of unrequited love.

But as Mitsu looks deeper into Keiko and her motives, he realizes that Shiro is in grave danger. He will need all his courage– and some help from a master of the occult– to save the life of the man he loves.

Peony Lanterns by Patricia Correll is a short but exquisite Japanese historical romance.  The story carries its historical accuracy and the authenticity of its era throughout the tale with the lightness of a Sakura petal, a tribute to it’s author’s ability to fold facts and cultural elements gently into her story. The focus here is on Mitsu, his feelings for his master, Shiro, and the current drama/mystery playing out between Lady Keiko, Shiro, and the brokenhearted Mitsu who carries a deep love for Shiro.

It unfolds naturally and then the pace picks up as does your heartbeat, racing as the revelations come one after another.  Even as the world building expands, the author never misses, either with the narrative or with the details.  She keeps the reader hooked to the action and the drama unfolding , hoping that Mitsu;s bravery and love will prevail.

I would love to see more in this universe, more with this couple.  It’s just amazing in every way.  I highly recommend this story.  It’s quite the gem!

Cover art is beautiful and works within the culture and times.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 91 pages
Published February 12th 2019
ASINB07N12QDLH

A Lila Review: The Faeted: Box Set By Caitlin Ricci

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Rating: 3.3 stars out of 5

The Faeted Series

Joshua

There’s only one place to go for a guaranteed happily ever after…

Joshua, a dragon shifter, hates having to go to the Faeted Matchmaking Agency, but he’s running out of time to find a mate, and he’s failed everywhere else. He only has a few more months before he enters the next stage of his life, and he’s getting desperate. Dragon tradition states that he must have a partner to help him transition into independence from his clan. A long-time friend would be sufficient, but Joshua doesn’t have any of those, either. Faeted is his last hope.

Rex expected Faeted to set him up with someone fun and sexy, but he was never expecting a dragon. As Rex is an eagle shifter, a dragon would be a good match for him, since they’re both born to fly. Joshua is far more cautious than Rex expects a dragon to be, but Rex knows he can get Joshua to loosen up with a bit of a push.

Adrian

There’s only one place to go for a guaranteed happily ever after.

Finding a Faeted match is always supposed to lead to true love, but Adrian doesn’t believe that anymore. After six months of perfect bliss with his fire mage Corrin, Adrian caught him kissing someone else at a party. Now he wants a new match, and he never wants to see Corrin again. A matchmaker at Faeted gives Adrian another mate and tells him to go to a hotel to find him.

But when Adrian gets to the hotel room, he finds Corrin there, waiting for him. Naked and bound, Corrin has served himself up as a perfect peace offering, if only Adrian is willing to take a second chance at love with him.

Caldren

There’s only one place to go for a guaranteed happily ever after.

Caldren has been looking forward to having his own Faeted match for a long time. It’s what all the brownies do, and Faeted has always taken good care of them. As a brownie, he’s a gentle person who just wants to help his mate out and keep things clean. He likes honey, books and a tidy house.

He’s surprised when his mate turns out to be a dragon, at least, according to Faeted. They’re aggressive and powerful, so Caldren doesn’t think he would be a good match for someone like that, but his kind have always trusted Faeted to do what is best for them.

Bannock is a scary dragon, just as Caldren expected him to be. But he’s also fair and firm. He appreciates what Caldren is and what he needs. It isn’t long before Caldren realizes that sometimes a little brownie needs a dragon to be whole.

Faeted includes three very short erotic stories:

Joshua: 4 stars

This story has the most plot of all three in the series. Perhaps since it’s the first one and it’s the readers introduction to the Faeted Matchmaking Agency.

It has a nice premise but Joshua changes drastically as soon as he meets his mate. Gone is the shy dragon trying to find a companion. Lust takes over him and everything he mentioned wanting at the beginning of the story.

Definitely an erotic short for those with an exhibitionism fetish.

Adrian: 3 stars

I’m guessing Adrian is the least favorite story for many people. If you don’t tolerate cheating, this story is not for you. Even when it’s an intoxicated misunderstanding in the end.

The sex scene is a bit tedious with many stops and goes. It was nice, just not great.

Caldren: 3 stars

This was an insta-lust submissive story. The characters were interesting and the sex scenes well thought. Unfortunately, not enough to make it memorable.

The cover by Posh Gosh is for Joshua, and it matches the main concept of the story. The Sepia color gives it an old feel.

Sale Links: Amazon | Nook | Pride

Book Details:
ebook, 106 pages
ISBN: 978-1-78651-714-2
Published: November 20, 2018, by Pride Publishing
Edition Language: English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review :Royal Guardian (Rise of the Symbionts #1) by Jo Tannah

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Lando is a man genetically bred by machines for security purposes. By the age of 12, he is one of the top 20 security specialists on the planet Oryon based on his intelligence and skill. He is training to be a Royal Guardian assigned to Prince Kallen, a powerful technomage. Prince Kallen was born sickly and is dying. When unknown inhabitants of the planet Nigul sent a distress call to Oryon, they arrive too late to save anyone while the planet is destroyed. Lando finds an egg with a sentient being inside that seems to have empathic abilities. The symbiont, Bobik, attaches itself to the Prince after it hatches, healing him.

There is an eight years age gap between the Prince and Lando. While Lando is in love with his prince, he never thinks anything will come of it. Kallen has other ideas–though he waits until his 18th birthday to make his feelings known. When Kallen names Lando Prince Consort, Lord Commander Militant Cheol, unhappy with the union and the symbiont, resigns his position and leaves with fifteen thousand guardsmen. While Lando hunts Cheol, Kallen leaves for Vespa to study magical protocols for two years. Lando becomes Lord Commander Militant, security and advisor to the King. When the Prince is kidnapped and Bobik is not with him, they fear the worst. Is Cheol involved? Are there other enemies they don’t know about? Many fear the alien Bobik and Kallen is such a powerful technomage already.

Although this was slow to get going, I actually enjoyed this. The love scene is strange as Bobik is involved. Part two will undoubtedly take up the search for Cheol. Lando also found a new egg as part of a mission assigned him by the King. I expect this is how the rise of the symbionts (the subtitle) will happen. I would have preferred this to be a long novel rather than having the story broken up into three novellas. Now I have to know what happens. This was an easy enjoyable read with likeable characters, low angst, and palace intrigue.

I like the cover art by Angela Waters, which communicates the story is science fiction and shows Lando.

Sales Links:       Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 76 pages
Published March 31st 2017 by eXtasy Books Inc
ISBN 1487412029 (ISBN13: 9781487412029)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesRise of the Symbionts #1

Love Fantasy Fiction? Check out the Release Blitz for Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title:  Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1)

Author: Isobel Starling

Publisher: Decent Fellows Press

Cover Artist: Valentine Pascadian (Lennel)

Genre/s:  Fantasy, M/M Romance

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length:103 600 words/ 556 pages

Release Date:  February 15, 2019

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Blurb

After a traumatic event, Winter Aeling finds himself destitute and penniless in the backwater town of Mallowick.  He needs to travel to the city of Serein and impart grave news that will bring war to the Empire, but without a horse, money, and with not a soul willing to help him, he has no choice but to line up with the common folk seeking paid work on the harvest.  

As wagons roll into the market square and farmers choose day laborers, Winter is singled out for abuse by a brute of a farmer.  The only man who stands up for him is the farmer’s beguiling son, Adam, and on locking eyes with the swarthy young man Winter feels the immediate spark of attraction.

Winter soon realizes there is a reason he has been drawn to Blackdown Farm.  The farmer possesses a precious item that was stolen long ago from Winter’s family, and he determines to retrieve it.  He also cannot take his eyes off the farmer’s son, and as the young man opens up Winter can’t help wondering if Adam is just kind or his kind!

Excerpt

“Apple Boy” by Isobel Starling

CHAPTER 1

MARKET SQUARE

“You boy, aye, YOU.  Ain’t never seen ye round ‘ere before,” The farmer directed his bellow at me.  

It was sunrise, and at last, I’d found the courage to step out of my hiding place and join the common laborers who gathered in Mallowick market square.  We were waiting for the farmers’ carts to come by and choose their day workers.  I’d watched this ritual each morning for the past three days, peeking out from shadowed doorways, or while crouching behind barrels.  

It was harvest time, and it appeared to be routine for peasants to walk from the surrounding hamlets before dawn and assemble in the square to seek work on the farms.  There was wheat, barley, root vegetables, and tree fruits to be gathered before the weather turned. I was informed by a ruddy looking fellow in the tavern that anyone could get work on the harvest, and so, with my pride cut to ribbons and my pockets empty, I’d stepped out of the safety of my hiding place and joined the commoners.

“Does ye wants work or no’?  Look at me when I’m talkin’ to ye.  What’s yer name?” The burley farmer roared.  I looked up, stunned to be singled out from among all of these strapping men and hardy looking women, for I felt invisible.  Four carts had already passed and taken their pick of the young, strong peasants, but none of those farmers gave me a second glance.  I should have known something was afoot, for when this particular wagon turned up the women in the square shrank back into doorways, and men sidled away to lean against buildings.  On the side of the wagon, writ-large in bold off-white letters were the words BLACKDOWN FARM. There were around thirty of us left on view, like cattle.

I had never partaken in manual labor or any kind of work before.  I was a gentleman and far more familiar with spending my days relaxing, reading, attending social events in the city, or taking a horse for a gallop in the country.  But my life had changed since I’d become stranded here in the Pasturelands provincial town of Mallowick two weeks earlier.  Now I was living on my wits.  Each day was a fight for my life, and I’d sold all of my fine belongings, intending to pay for passage on the stagecoach from Mallowick to the city of Serein.  But I had not thought things through, and it did not happen that way.  My body’s needs took precedent. I’d become so ravenous, and therefore the meager coin I’d gathered from selling my finery was spent on what I could afford—basic rough barley bread and ale, just enough to stave off the gnawing pangs of hunger in my belly each day.  Now, I had no belongings, and the money was all but gone. I was no thief, and the only thing I had left to sell was my body. Looking like a wretch, I did not believe I could earn even a copper that way! Before I left on my travels, I was warned that the province of Erias had strict rules about men bedding other men and I did not want to tempt fate.  I was at a loss—hard labor or starvation were the only choices available to me. Gods, if my father could see how far I’d fallen in such a short time, he would be thoroughly ashamed.  I was living hand-to-mouth, and if I dared to seek out my reflection and observe my disreputable state of dress, I was sure I would see I was no longer a gentleman at all.

I assured myself that all would be well as soon as I could get to the city of Serein.  There I would attend my father’s depository and obtain funds from his account—as had been arranged, and then, I could find my way to my uncle’s residence and attend to a much grimmer business.  

So, with no other choice, I was here, standing in Mallowick market square with a bunch of rough-looking fellows and ruddy-faced women with just the ragged clothes I stood in to my name.  I wondered if my visage had taken on the same gaunt, starved, haunted look some of them wore.

“WELL?”  The farmer roared.

“Leave him be Pa; I think he’s a mute.  P… p… please don’t—” A swarthy young man urged, stepping to the farmers’ side.  The man appeared to be in his early twenties, with broad angular shoulders, slim hips, and wavy jaw-length hair that longingly reminded me of Montestein tea.  When the morning sunlight broke through the clouds and caressed him, the strands of his hair revealed all the shades of autumn.  It was beautiful.  His eyes were bright emerald green, and his skin bore the wind-burned tan of a man who spent his days working the land.  I met his gaze for a second that seemed to stop time, and I felt a flutter of longing erupt in my gut. I found myself mesmerized by him.  He appeared a little embarrassed, for himself or for me, I wasn’t quite sure. The farmer turned to his son.

“Shut that filthy mouth o’ yours, apple boy!” he spat.  His large meaty hands twitched.  He sneered and glared at his son in such a wicked way I knew it should have been followed up by a sharp slap.  I worried that the young man would endure further public humiliation at the hands of his father, but the farmer moved his disdainful glare back to me.  I shuddered with fear. I had a feeling that he was saving his son’s punishment for later—away from the prying eyes of the townsfolk. I did not like that thought, not one bit.  I did not know why the farmer was drawn to me, but he sized me up with a sweeping glance of consideration, then wrinkled his nose as if he’d sniffed a revolting stench—I hadn’t bathed in two weeks, so maybe I did smell a tad ripe!

“Is ye a mute?”

I shook my head.  I would say, if anything, I was deeply traumatized by the unfortunate circumstance I’d found myself in, but no, I was certainly not a mute.  I just wasn’t used to a lowly man speaking to me so roughly. Generally, men who dared to address me knew their betters and behaved appropriately.  But here in Mallowick, in the province of Erias, I was no better than a beggar on the street.  There was no one I could call on for favors, no one who, on hearing my family name, would loan me coin for the stagecoach or a horse to ride to the city and send word to my father.  

When I’d first arrived in Mallowick, telling the truth of my station had gotten me dragged down an alley where my finger and earrings were stolen, and I’d received a beating.  This farmer from Blackdown Farm had no idea who I was, and I would not make the same mistake again.

I took a breath and stepped out of line.  “Master Irwin Harding, sir. You may call me Win.”  I winced at hearing my own soft, well-spoken voice, with my accent, the clipped tongue of Thorn.  I had not used my real name and wished I had not used my true voice either.  The fact that I was the son of the Duke of Thorn meant nothing here.  Thorn was west of Erias, on the other side of the Silua Montis Mountain range, and I doubted any of these illiterate souls in Mallowick knew anything other than that folklore passed around by storytellers.

The farmer stepped to stand in front of me.  He was a big, bulky bastard of a man and stank of stale sweat and baccy.  He had a grizzled podgy face and thick dark hair shot with strands of silver pulled into an untidy tail.  The tension grew between us, and I worried I’d spoken out of turn. I looked down and watched my bare, filthy feet as if they held endless fascination.  I’d seen men like him before. He had hands like shovels, and I’m sure they’d done damage in their time. My father would have used a man like him well, probably as muscle to intimidate the city folk while the Royal Chancellor did the rounds collecting taxes.  

Afraid and sweating with anxiety, I glanced up and away, unable to look at the farmer directly and meet his fierce piggy eyes.  Instead, I looked left and caught the eye of his son. I felt another flutter of attraction. I was grateful for it because it dampened my fear a little.  The glance the farmers’ son sent me back was sheepish, apologetic. He shrugged and put a finger to his lips, signaling for me to hush. I’m sure now he knew what was coming.

Master, is it?”  The farmer gave a raspy malevolent chuckle.  “Well, well, well aren’t ye an uppity little scrote.  Such a pretty voice an’ all. Have your balls dropped yet, lad?”  

The townsmen men standing around me shuffled on their feet and snickered uncomfortably.  I could tell from the tentative laughter they were afraid of this man too. My chest tightened with fury, and I felt the flare of heat rush to color my cheeks.  If in Thorn I would have put this fellow in his place, but as directed by the farmers’ handsome son, I held my tongue.  

I dared to look up as the farmer scratched his grizzled chin and consider me.  It was then I saw it. A chill iced my bones. On his chubby right index finger, he wore a gold ring set with a large red gemstone that I was aghast to see held the intaglio engraving of a rose thorn—my family’s seal.  How had this disgusting Pasturelands farmer come upon my family’s ring?  Anger curdled my gut, but I forced myself to focus and fixed my features so as not to alert the man to what I was looking at.  That ring was more precious than I could say. It was not set with any common gemstone, oh no, the setting was Star-fall.  The legend was that mortal tools could not cut the rich-red Star-fall stone.  The gemstone was shaped by sorcery, and the power that carved into the gem was stored inside it as if the Star-fall was a reservoir for the magic.  It was illegal for any other than the Twin Kings of Osia to own Star-fall.  The king’s men had scoured the Empire to remove all traces of the priceless gem from common and aristocratic hands and possessing it was a death sentence.  Did this ruffian have any idea what he wore?

Not getting a rise from me, the farmer stepped yet closer and found out for himself if my balls had dropped.  He reached for my privates and squeezed.

Ahh, ye got some big stones de’re al’right, boy,” he said with a filthy sneer.

“Done any labourin’ before, lad?”  My eyes watered.  I shook my head and winced as the pressure on my most sensitive parts rose.  I wanted to shout and push him away, punch him in that bristly pug face. I’d trained in hand-to-hand combat and swordplay, but that was of little use to me now that I had no sword and was cast as naught but a commoner myself.  I stood frozen to the spot with fear, my cock, and balls in the hand of this brutish man. I was sure that clutching my nethers was not the best way to test if I would be a good apple picker.  

The farmer let go, stepped back, and looked me over again like he was sizing up a prize pig.  I wanted to keel over, hold my sensitive parts and howl, but, with my eyes watering, I kept my back ramrod straight and looked past the farmer, using his son’s regretful, pretty green eyes as my focus.  

I appeared to be a boy, but I am nineteen and about to make my majority.  I have a tall, willowy frame, and little muscle to show for my near twenty summers.  Weeks before, I was clothed in the silken garb of a lordling, but all I wore now were my stinky silk britches and a once-white linen shirt.  I’d even had to sell my fine leather boots. My flaxen hair hung loosely to my shoulders and was bedraggled. My mother had always told me my hair shone like a golden halo.  I guessed that was no longer the case. I had not seen my reflection in two weeks so I could only imagine how frightful I appeared to onlookers. My circumstance was terrible, but I refused to let it defeat me.  I was a son of Thorn, I was a gentleman, damn it, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to do to find my way to my destination and seek justice for all the ill-luck that had befallen me.  

“Right, scrote, up on the wagon,” the farmer declared.  “We can always do wit a few extra scurrier’s fer the windfalls.”

I had no idea what that actually meant, but strangely relieved to be selected, I nodded subserviently and then, ducking my head to avoid the farmers’ glare, I scurried to the wagon where I surreptitiously gave my aching intimate parts a gentle rub.  

I’d heard from a fellow in the tavern that harvesting wheat at Robinswood Farm was backbreaking, as was digging root vegetables at Windy Oakes Farm.  He advised that apple picking was easy work and if I could get employment at Weatherby’s or Blackdown Farm, they paid good coin.  He said the mistress at Blackdown was particularly well-liked and always gave laborers a bread and cheese luncheon with last season’s cider.  I was so hungry that bread and cheese sounded like a banquet. The fellow had neglected to tell me that the farmer was a brute!

The farmers’ son met me by the wagon and offered to help me aboard.  For a moment, from the look of consideration in his eyes, I thought he could see past the disheveled state of me to the gentleman I’d once been.  But that was ridiculous. The farmers’ son hopped up onto the back of the wagon with dexterous athleticism, and then offered me his hands. I took them without a thought.  His warm touch and the strength in those work-roughened fingers twisted my gut into uncomfortable knots. He fixed my gaze as he gripped both of my hands and tugged me up as easily as if he were lifting feather down.  He pulled me closed and pressed me to his hard chest.

“Don’t back chat him or it’ll be the worst fer you,” he whispered the warning to my ear.  Alarmed, I eased back from him and cautiously met his eye for a split second. In the look he gave me I saw that the warning was well-meant.  Bewildered, I nodded in thanks and understanding. I had no idea why this stranger was looking out for me, but the fact he was warmed my heart.  I choked back a tear. No one had looked out for me over these past weeks, and I had been so terribly lonely. I’d learned some hard life lessons on this leg of my journey, and I’d come to understand that here my title was irrelevant, and without money I was suddenly invisible; therefore small kindnesses meant more than I could say.

My adventure into the provinces had been made to appease my father for my supposed ‘lack of direction.’  I’d become bored with my easy life in Thorn, and not intending to marry; I’d told my father that in-light of my upcoming twentieth Bloomsday I wanted to tour the Empire.  If I were to one-day become Duke of Thorn, I needed to know a little of the politics of each province and so, pleased with my initiative and happy to be rid of me for a while, he’d set me on my way.  I’d toured the provinces of Terria, Corvay, and Reuss and then continued to the province of Osia, spending time in the capital city Altea, at the court of the Twin Kings, Kristoff, and Fabian Von Harte.  With this journey to Erias, I was to have the full set of provinces under my belt.  But fate was not on my side.

On benches affixed to either side of the farmers’ wagon sat fourteen men morosely staring at their bare, filthy feet, not a word of chatter between them.  They each owned a small pack of belongings and a wrapped blanket that each had stowed beneath the bench. At this moment they were better-off than me, for I did not even have a blanket to my name.  There was space for me and five more, totaling twenty men. The farmer chose from the remaining laborers with less consideration than I had been afforded.

“Right…  I’ll take Allin, Jed, Arthur, Bartram, and Matty, that’ll do me fer the week,” he hollered decisively.

The week?  I thought I’d promised myself for a hard day’s labor?  But then again, I considered the harvesters who were sitting in the wagon, and yes, they appeared to have prepared for an overnight stay.  Confused, I sat down as the other laborers were pulled up onto the wagon by their comrades, and then we shuffled along the benches until we were all seated.  I noticed the shoulders of the remaining men in the market square sag a little in apparent relief as if some mighty weight had lifted from them. I didn’t understand it.  I thought they’d wanted to work?

The farmers’ son clambered over into the front of the wagon.  His father climbed on, the man’s bulk shaking the timbers of the rickety wagon as he settled on the bench beside him.  The son handed his father the ribbons, which the farmer greedily snatched up, and then with a fearsome bellow of “Geddup” and a thunderous whip crack, the large mottled grey workhorse began its cumbersome trot down the main street and onto the dusty road to Blackdown Farm.

About the Author

Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland.  She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.

Isobel is currently working on her nineteenth book.  

“As You Wish” (Shatterproof Bond#1) narrated by Gary Furlong won the Audiobook Reviewer Award for Romance 2018.  It is the first M/M Romance audiobook to win a mainstream audiobook award.

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