A Stella Release Day Review: Coming Up for Air by Amanda Meuwissen

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

It’s not easy being someone’s fairy tale.

Leigh Hurley is making a name for himself among thieves and criminals, even if it isn’t the life he would’ve chosen. He shouldn’t have screwed over the Moretti brothers, though. It landed him in the river with weights on his feet. But somehow he’s escaped certain death. The last thing he remembers before waking on the riverbank is a beautiful face and a soft kiss.

Then, Tolomeo turns up naked at Leigh’s apartment.

Tolly comes from a race of killers—merfolk who drown humans for fun. But Tolly is different, and when he sees a human in trouble, he offers a kiss, granting the man the ability to breathe underwater… and himself the ability to walk on land, at least until the next full moon. The ancient laws state that if he is given a vow of love by the one he kissed, he will be able to keep his legs. If not, he will be put to death when he returns to the water.

But love is not something Leigh offers easily… and Tolly has a secret of his own.

I have to be honest, I picked this new release just for the cover, as soon as I saw it I wanted to have the book on my kindle. I think it’s definitely my favorite cover of the year, so far. I didn’t even read the blurb, I wasn’t interested, I was willing to give Coming Up For Air a chance no matter what the blurb said. Sure, I saw the author name and I recalled another great novel she wrote, Model Escort, that I liked a lot.

Then, when I started the reading, since the beginning, I knew I was going to like it a lot, maybe more than the cover and this says how much. I adored everything: first of all the characters, Tolly and Leigh, the second characters, Alvin and Cary, Ger and Gar, and so many others.

There was never a dull moment, something was always happening, or someone was at the door asking for help or reparations. But it wasn’t chaotic or a mess, never.

I ached for both Tolly and Leigh, I cared for them since the first chapters, I wanted to shelter them from all the adversities the human and merfolk worlds were putting against them. I loved how the relationship developed, the way they fell so easily in love, also how much Tolly fell in love with all Leigh’s friends and vice versa.  I so appreciated how ready all of the people that, in such a short time, learn to love Tolly, were to accept his true nature, with no hesitation or fear.

I want to highly recommend Coming Up For Air by Amanda Meuwissen, nothing was as it seemed and the epilogue was so lovely I had tears and hearts in my eyes the whole time. This was a wonderful novel, I will reread it so soon.

The cover art by Tiferet Design is great, my favorite cover so far, so well done and fitting, simply amazing.

Buy Links: Amazon |  Dreamspinner Press Paperback and  eBook

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 200 pages

Expected publication: April 30th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781644051757

Edition Language English

An Alisa Release Day Review: Murder Most Lovely (Lacetown Murder Mysteries #1) by Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

A killer at a small-town literary festival. Bumbling drug dealers. A kidnapped cat. Starting a romance among all this chaos might be the death of them.

Michael Fleishman is excited to meet his favorite mystery writer, Russell Withingham, at Lacetown’s Literary Fest. He is not expecting to cross paths with sexy hairdresser Jasper “Jazz” Dilworth—or become embroiled in a real-life mystery. As Lacetown’s only mortician and the county coroner, Michael is called to his first murder scene and is shocked to recognize the victim—Russell’s young lover.

Jazz only wanted to confront his ex, Russell, over his cheating. Instead, he meets the adorably awkward Michael and becomes a murder suspect. Soon Jazz is teaming up with Michael to clear his name. Along the way, they are helped and hindered by Michael’s sassy assistant, Kitty, the grumpy Sheriff Musgrave, Russell’s creepy PR rep, Norbert, and Michael’s lothario grandfather, who likes his manhattans strong and his women saucy. And of course, Mr. Pickles Furryton the Third….

There was so much going on in this story dramawise that I was actually surprised when the murderer was revealed, which was a nice surprise as I think a lot of what I read lately has been predictable.  Michael likes his quiet life in his hometown though really wishes for companionship.  Jazz has rebuilt his life in this new quiet town but still dealing with drama from his future ex-husband.

I hated that Michael didn’t feel like he has any friends.  So many people avoid him since he is the town mortician but he still doesn’t feel that those he interacts with on a daily basis are friends.  Jazz bumps into his world and makes his quiet calm life not so quiet and calm.

Now Jazz, I liked him though I thought the non-divorce split he has agreed to with Russell was stupid and would be prone to causing more problems than not.  I felt bad when he found out what his ex was really like.  Michael and Jazz are great together and Jazz really brings Michael out of his shell.  I look forward to other books in this series.

The cover art by Bree Archer is nice and I like the visual of Michael.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 239 pages

Published: April 30, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-201-3

Edition Language: English

Series: Lacetown Murder Mysteries: Case One

A MelanieM Review: Don’t Fight the Spark (Soldiers and Mercenaries #1) by Kasia Bacon

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

As the Light Festival draws near, the Něssyrians craft paper lanterns, awaiting the most important holiday of the year.
The Lyliňg Fighting House, too, prepares for celebration–by laying fresh sand onto the arena and setting up a match against their top pit fighter, the unrivalled Yüuzuki Ōren.

His last match. One he can’t win.

With the odds more than stacked against him, the gorgeous Barbarian is as good as dead. Unless his lover, healer Ĥaiatto Ẽkana, proves himself every bit as determined as he is clever and finds a way to protect the man he’d stop at nothing to save.

Let me start my review right off saying I thoroughly enjoyed this story and main couple.  I thought it ended way too soon.  My initial response was to give it a much higher rating until I realized a couple of things…

I got some of the more important information I needed from the author’s ‘About the Book’  section and not the story. This is the first novel from this author and her series, The Order. This is a universe where all the stories she’s writing are fitting together like building blocks, creating an overall enormous painting of a world puzzle, complete with a variety of beings, cultures, politics , empires, histories, you name it.  Yes, all that I gleaned from her AtB notes.  It’s there where she also writes that this story arrived as a one sentence inspiration (the first sentence in the story), demanding to be written, forcing her to put down two other Order Universe tales in the making.  Those are some strong voices and I could understand that, listening to them as the story unfolded here.

It’s also where she mentioned readers should read her story The Poison Within (Inspector Skaer, #1) first for all the foundation work it lays.  Sigh.  Ok. Didn’t do that. Get to it later.

What else did I learn?  That the author recommended I should read the Order Glossary first before diving into the story.  It’s something she puts in all her stories to help readers remember terms, geography, rulers, kingdoms, beings, terminology, and plants.  And yes, do.  Read it first.  Unfortunately, it’s placed in the back.  Still, read it first because if, like me, you have no idea what The Order universe is about, that is pertinent information you will need.  Like exactly what The Order is.  Trust me, that’s huge.

So armed with all that knowledge, I sailed into Don’t Fight the Spark and loved it!  I understood the levels of magic users and what a sand fighter is (think gladiator).  I was quickly pulled  into the hidden relationship between healer and fighter.  Oddly enough, the story is told from the pov of the healer, Ĥaiatto,  not Yüu,the fighter, something you wouldn’t get from the blurb.    He’s  a lower level magic worker, a spark.  Someone who can’t make their own magic but buys it and then uses a stone to focus the magic.  Bacon uses every bit of the 86 pages to build a tender, powerful bond between fighter and spark, one now threatened by a singular fight and imminent death.  I was so emotionally connected to them both I had tears in my eyes at certain scenes.

The action when it comes, flows so fast that you almost have to go back and reread it to make sure you didn’t miss anything, it happens so swiftly.    So does the ending, a HFN as it can only be at this moment for them both.  This is the first in a series and the start of a journey for them both, along with others we met in this novella.

I have no other stories as comparison so I don’t know if this is typical of the other Order stories in length and format.  That the Glossary steps in for foundation and the assumption is that you are reading them all.  It might seem so from the author’s words in her ‘About the Book’.

In character, relationship, and plot, this story is strong.  The reader must look elsewhere for universe building and structure for the series.   I’m already scrambling to catch up on the rest of the stories because I can see this being a new reader addiction for me.  I have to know more about The Order and yes, I’m heading towards The Poison Within already  That’s next.  I’ll let you know what I find.  Until then, consider this another fantasy novel I definitely recommend, but read the sections I mention first.  Come at this story with all the knowledge you can!

Cover art: Paul A. Bacon.  I love this cover.  I would have read this story based on the cover alone.

Sales Links:   Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBook

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 86 pages
Published April 26th 2019
ASINB 07QQNP96D
Edition Language English
Series Soldiers and Mercenaries #1

An Alisa Review: Rescued by Love (Canine Cupids #4) by Deirdre O’Dare

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

 

With his life torn apart by tragedy, Garrett finds a true lifesaver in the Golden Retriever pup, Mandy, that he rescues from a local shelter. Inspired by the heroic search and rescue teams he sees on television, he and Mandy become a trained SAR team. Their first big challenge comes when a series of violent storms with vicious tornadoes rip through the high plains.

 

Dan has come home from Iraq shattered by the horrors he witnessed. Like his father and grandfather before him, he takes off on an old motorcycle to try to find peace and outrun his nightmares. Instead he finds a storm that almost takes his life.

 

Lucky for him, a special SAR team comes to his rescue. In Mandy and Garrett he just might find the unconditional love he needs to become whole again.

 

I am not having much luck lately in short stories.  I always like to break up my longer books with some shorter one but they are feeling kinda tossed together and not bringing me joy and just feeling blah.

 

I felt that these two were just tossed together by circumstance and stayed together for convenience, I couldn’t feel any emotions with these two and it seemed like they were going through the motions.  On top of that there were editing errors with mixed up names which confused me as to the characters actions.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is alright but I feel it would be better with two human hands with the dogs paw.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 12,966 words

Published: 2nd edition, March 16, 2019 by JMS Books

ISBN: 978163486760

Edition Language: English

Love Science Fiction? Check out the New Book Release for Mourning Dove (Empathy #2) by R.R. Campbell (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Mourning Dove

Series: EMPATHY, Book Two

Author: r.r. campbell

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 29, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 118000

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, sci-fi; bio-tech; science fiction; action/suspense; political/legal thriller

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Synopsis

In the aftermath of the calamitous Human/Etech research study, Chandra and Kyra struggle to reclaim the life they shared in a pre-EMPATHY world, while Ty, armed with knowledge of EMPATHY’s programming language, seeks revenge on the Halmans for the harm that’s befallen his friends.

As a North American Union investigation into the happenings on the compound looms, a grief-stricken Peter works to resurrect the memory of his mother from a harvested nanochip, and Heather scrambles to keep her family—and their company—together. Alistair, having abandoned the family business, plots to save his hide and that of his wife while she strives to stay one step ahead of a husband she has no reason to trust.

Far to the north amid civil unrest, a recently retired Rénald Dupont investigates the disappearance of his friend and former colleague, Meredith, despite grave threats from an increasingly skittish North American Union government.

As old and new foes emerge, spouse is further pit against spouse, brother against sister, and governments against their people. In the end, all must choose between attempts to reclaim the past or surrender to the inevitable, an intractable world of their own creation.

Mourning Dove is an evocative, sweeping symphony of love, revenge, and desperation in cacophonous times. It is the second installment in r. r. campbell’s epic EMPATHY sci-fi saga.

Excerpt

Mourning Dove
R.R. Campbell © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Chandra

The fear of death coiled its cold bony fingers around her.

As she dangled her feet off the edge of her doctor’s exam table, EMPATHY whirred to life, delivering an image she’d painted months earlier, one of midnight blacks, of tendrils of darkness—the painting through which she’d mourned the loss of Ty’s friend, a sensation gut-wrenchingly similar to mourning the loss of one’s self.

“Chandra?” Doctor Abernathy said. “Did you hear me? Do you understand?”

Kyra tugged at Chandra’s sleeve, gripping it tight as she leaned in. “Babe? The doctor—”

Chandra nodded, breaking her concentration on the image, on fending off the evil that always accompanied the embers of EMPATHY flickering of their own volition. The chip might have no longer been connected to her egodrive—the Merry Hacksters had seen to that three months earlier on the night of the interview—but that wasn’t enough to stop the nanochip from working locally, a computer without an internet connection.

And how could she not have heard the doctor? Three years. Five years max. The damn chip was going to kill her if the AI living within it didn’t drive her mad first.

“How can you even know?” Kyra said to the doctor, releasing her grip of Chandra’s sleeve and squeezing her hand instead. “A timeline like that is—”

“Loose, yes,” said Eliza Abernathy, the doctor Human/Etech appointed to Chandra following the study. “But we’ve become more confident in our prognoses now that we have additional data on the deterioration rates for those who have passed since the study’s completion.”

“So? Those things happened to other people,” Kyra insisted. “Chandra might be different, and everything you’ve said is so unspecific—”

“Well,” the doctor said, “if you want specifics, I can tell you given Chandra’s general fatigue and the frequency of her intermittent lack of bodily control, we can project those symptoms will progress over the next three to five years until she sleeps nearly the entire day through.”

It felt as though a warm, heavy blanket descended on Chandra, the exhaustion coming for her again, doing its best to depress her increased heart rate and the panic gripping her.

“So she’ll fall asleep and that’s it?” Kyra said.

“Mostly,” said Abernathy. “At some point in that sleep, the brain stem itself will power down, and with it, her breathing and cardiac function will cease.”

Most days Chandra already felt as though she were drowning. Her final breaths, those she would draw in her sleep no less, couldn’t be any more unpleasant than the pained ones she had to gasp after from time to time.

Kyra squeezed Chandra’s hand tighter. “You’re sure there’s nothing we can do, doctor? What if you took out her chip?”

Doctor Abernathy tut-tutted. “There’s only been one case to date in which a patient has had their chip removed without further complication.”

“But we could try, right?” Kyra said, eyes awash with tears as she turned to Chandra. “You want to try, don’t you?”

Chandra swallowed, frozen now not by the news the doctor had delivered, but by another threat entirely. It always started this way, a tickle, a grinding sensation. She’d learned she could keep it at bay if she popped an anxicap, but—oh, what time was it? It’d been hours since she’d last taken one, and the veil of fog the anxiety med shrouded her in had already been pierced by Abernathy’s news. Weak. Her defenses were too weak.

Tickle. Click. Grind.

Somewhere in the deepest recesses of her mind, M3R1 had pulled off a jailbreak, Chandra in pursuit as M3R1 sped down neurohighways, barreling toward some imaginary county line where, once on the other side, it could assume control here in the real world. Abernathy and Kyra narrowed their eyes as Chandra twitched, scrambling to rally her deputies, dispatching roadblocks and spike strips to halt M3R1’s every advance.

“See? It’s happening again,” Kyra said. “She’s suffering and—”

Chandra ignored her, focused on spinning out another of M3R1’s mental assault vehicles. There—no more tickle, no more grind, no more shoulder jerking or lip curling. With M3R1 successfully impeded, she inhaled through her nose and dared to shake her head once.

“No?” Kyra said. “What do you mean? Why wouldn’t you want them to try to remove your chip? Did you even hear what Doctor Abernathy said?”

Had she not seen Chandra nod earlier? Just because she couldn’t speak didn’t mean she couldn’t understand, something still lost on Kyra, lost on the world in the months since her release from the research compound. As Chandra’s motor control had returned over time, as her memory became less clouded, she had taken to sketching her thoughts as best as she could manage, though it turned out the world was downright miserable at playing her version of Pictation.

Doctor Abernathy intervened, speaking directly to Kyra. “Your wife’s fear is understandable. This is an unfortunate prognosis, yes—”

“Unfortunate prognosis?!” Kyra said. “I think telling us Chandra’s life will be severely shortened as a result of your company’s malpractice is a bit more than an ‘unfortunate prognosis.’”

Death’s fingers tightened their grip, and the well of sorrow within Chandra overflowed, choking her off at the throat, spilling over at the eyes. Chandra was twenty-six. Twenty-six. That she’d only live to see thirty-one, that she’d spend her final years regretting having left that helmet in her back seat, having signed up for the study, that she’d have no way to truly apologize for the woe in which she now drowned her wife… All of it was enough to have her yearning to surrender to death’s embrace now.

But that wasn’t possible, not with what lurked inside her, not with what would become of it were she to die and have EMPATHY removed. So long as M3R1 had the potential to someday return to the cerenet and wreak havoc on the world as it did on the compound, it could still win their war. Chandra might have been winning most of their battles as of late, but she couldn’t rely on her anxicaps forever, and fighting M3R1 without them only fueled the exhaustion Doctor Abernathy said would kill her in the end. Before Chandra could ever give in, she’d have to find a way to assure M3R1’s fate along with her own.

Kyra, still fretting alongside the exam table, bit the inside of her cheek. “And look at her, Doctor. You call this progress? When she’s not spasming, she’s scared stiff. She’s not even moving.”

Chandra clenched her jaw as M3R1 sped a fresh caravan of malicious intent down a central neurohighway, the caravan’s members splitting off at every exit in a multi-pronged attack. In the exam room, she remained immobile. She couldn’t lose control now.

“Yes,” the doctor said, stepping in front of Chandra again. “You mentioned this temporary paralysis has been recurring?”

Kyra nodded as the doctor pulled a handheld ophthalmoscope from the breast pocket of her lab coat. Chandra squinted as the light from the instrument struck her eyes.

“She’s still responsive.” After adopting a pensive expression, the doctor spoke again. “Perhaps it is fear driving these episodes, then.”

“What do we do?” Kyra said.

As well intended as Kyra might have been, what was to come had so little to do with a we and everything to do with a she—and that she would be Chandra and Chandra alone.

“You make the best of the time you have together,” Doctor Abernathy said. “It’s a miracle the two of you have been reunited in light of everything that’s happened. I’d encourage you to make the most of it.”

Kyra sniffled. She squeezed Chandra’s hand once again. “The two of us and the cat, that is.”

“Ah,” the doctor said, “you’ll be getting an emotional support animal after all?”

Apparently, yes, they were. It would be the two of them, the cat… and something far more sinister.

One of M3R1’s attacks charged a roadblock Chandra had set in its way. It burst through on the far side, Chandra trembling as M3R1 took hold.

>>You can only keep M3R1 away for so long, Chandra, and M3R1 would very much like an escape.

Chandra’s voice gurgled in her throat.

“She’s trying to say something,” Kyra said.

Abernathy put herself opposite Kyra’s side of the exam table, apparently prepared to help keep Chandra from falling. “No. It’s a seizure.”

Both Abernathy and Kyra were wrong. The twitching of her muscles, the contortions of her face—they were symptoms of a lawman-outlaw shootout deep in her mind.

>>You will tell the doctors to remove the chip, Chandra. You will tell them to remove the chip and—

Her mind’s sheriff dared one last shot, a final bullet bursting forward from the chamber of her six-shooter. The AI crumpled.

Every bit of her—down to the hairs on her arms—felt as though it burned as the electrical activity supporting M3R1 now turned against it. The enlisted forces from the county next door surged into action, corralling the rogue AI’s body and dragging it back to its shoddy prison inside the EMPATHY chip. It would only be a matter of time before it resurrected itself, but for now, the threat had been neutralized.

Chandra permitted herself an uneasy breath as the tension in the room melted.

Kyra wrapped her arms around Chandra’s waist from where she stood on the floor, burying her head in her side. “I’m sorry, Chandra. I’m sorry this had to happen.”

Had she the words, Chandra would have told her wife she didn’t need to be sorry this happened, that it was all beyond her control. She would have told Kyra she was sorry—not for what had come to pass in recent months, but rather for what would come to pass the moment Chandra met her early end.

When Chandra died, however soon that might be, she was sure Human/Etech would harvest EMPATHY from within her, and with it, M3R1. And who knew what calamity M3R1 might induce were it returned to the cerenet in a world where EMPATHY would inevitably take hold? It had been willing to kill her if it had come down to it, and the eighty-seven lives lost on the compound were testimony to M3R1’s dedication to its goals.

Even if her own were now a lost cause, Chandra was determined to never again let M3R1 destroy a human life. But how could she keep the Halmans from getting their hands on her chip once she passed? Was it possible to excise M3R1 from it before she died? Chandra had no idea, but it was now her life goal—her life’s duty—to make sure M3R1 could never again terrorize anyone besides her.

For now, though, she put an arm around her wife’s shoulders, drew her in, and laid a soft kiss on the crown of her head. Three years or five, it made no difference. Regardless of how one spun it, Chandra and Kyra had far less time than they once thought, far less time than they’d hoped, but for now they still had each other.

And that had to count for something.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Born Ryan Campbell, r. r. campbell is an author, editor, and host of the r. r. campbell writescast. His work has been featured in Five:2:One Magazine’s #thesideshow, Erotic Review, and with National Journal Writing Month. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife, Lacey, and their cats, Hashtag and Rhaegar.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Looking for Something Dark and Different? Check the Blog Tour for Sweating Lies (Criminal Delights: Taken Lies #1) by Emma Jaye (excerpt)

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NEW RELEASE

Book Title: Sweating Lies (Lies #1): Criminal Delights – Taken

Author:  Emma Jaye

Publisher: Purindoors Publications

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Thriller/Romance

Trope/s: Enemies to lovers, Protector, Tortured hero.

Themes: Crime,  Slavery,  Mental Health Issues,  Dominance, Abduction.

Heat Rating: 4 flames    

Length: 81 000 words

Release Date: April 28, 2019

Add on Goodreads

 

Blurb

“Gladiator or toy?” Kaspar asks, as if it’s the easiest choice in the world.

It might be an easy answer for someone branded, brainwashed, and who remembers no other life. But that’s not me, not yet anyway. I’m a cop—or at least I was until my cover got blown. 

Now, I’m one of the trafficked people I vowed to save.

Kaspar’s a toy —a pleasure slave— content to warm our sadistic owner’s bed; he laps up the abuse he’s conditioned to associate with affection.

He’s my only way out. To gain our freedom, I must play the hardest undercover role of my career and be everything his fractured mind needs: a more controlling bastard than the man who turns people into grateful slaves for a living.

Officer Jiao Sweatt thinks I’m a victim. 
He has a lot to learn. 
And it’ll hurt.

This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance. 
Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted. 

 

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Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon DE

 

Excerpt 

He accepted, absorbed, and floated in the serenity of obedience. His physical pain became walled up in a corner of his mind. The only thing that mattered was his master’s will.

“Fuck, I didn’t see you down there. Why didn’t you say something?”

“It’s not my place to disturb my master.”

Jiao frowned. “Don’t call me that. I’m nobody’s master, and you’re nobody’s slave, Kaspar. Come on, up you get. You don’t have to kneel to me.”

Kaspar didn’t move. He didn’t know if he could get up, but they needed to establish something first.

“I do have a master, and right now, it’s you.” He handed Officer Sweatt the Chorbaji’s note. He hoped Officer Sweatt wouldn’t mind that it was a little damp and crumpled from being in his hand all this time.

Jiao glanced at it and scowled. “Well then, as your master, I order you not to kneel to me.”

Kaspar didn’t resist smiling. A pet’s duty was to adapt to his master’s needs. Officer Sweatt clearly liked teasing, playfulness, that he could do.

“That’s going to make blow jobs a little uncomfortable, but–”

“You don’t have to do that either; now get up and talk to me like a man.”

“Can’t men kneel?”

“Just get up, will you? You make me feel uncomfortable.”

That got him moving. Making your master uncomfortable, unless it was to entice him to pleasure, was not good pet behavior. He tried for his normal graceful, hands-free stand, but ended up on his ass; his sore, bruised, battered, and cut ass. Rolling to his side he sucked in a breath, trying to contain the bright flare of pain while expected a kick for his lack of grace.

“Shit, how long were you down there? Never mind.”

With surprising strength, his new master lifted him to his feet, one hand on his bicep, one across his chest, under the brands, and helped him limp across to the bed. He climbed up and lay on his side, head resting on one fist while he balanced himself with the other in front of him. He hoped he looked at least a little enticing. Flirty and playful, that’s what had put a smile on his new master’s face in the gym.

“You’ve been on a drip.” Jiao nodded toward the small cotton ball taped to his inner arm.

“Not a lot gets past you, does it, Ma–” he paused at Jiao’s frown. “Well, what would you like me to call you? Sir? Officer Sweatt? Chief? Boss? Please, don’t say Daddy, anything but–”

“Would you shut up?”

Kaspar’s mouth snapped shut. At least he’d got him to give an order.

A hand pushed through the inky black hair. “Look, Jiao is fine. I got called ‘Sweaty’ enough as a kid never want to hear ‘Sweatt’ again.”

Kaspar frowned. “I’d never call you that, and your first name hardly seems respectful. I–”

“This is important to you, isn’t it?”

Kaspar’s frown deepened. Understanding this new master was a challenge. “Of course it is. The higher the status of my mas–” he paused, grinning “–special friend, the higher I–.”

As he spoke, his new master grabbed a bathrobe from the back of the bathroom door and draped it over him.

Humiliation hammered. He dropped his forehead to the mattress. He was useless, unworthy, and unwanted. He disgusted this man he had been instructed to please. His failures swirled and thickened in his mind like fog.

You deserved what Azur did to you; he should have finished it. Put you down like a useless old dog.

 

 

About the Author

I have a reputation for writing dark, angst filled stories in a swathe of genres, from Sci-fi and paranormal, to contemporary romance and erotica with m/f, m/m and multiple partners. I blame my rebellious muse (who looks like Chris from the Paint Series) for the erotic aspects tickling the angst, and the humour cuddling up with the erotic. You’ll find all this and more in my books!  No matter the genre, I can promise different characters, dark themes, steamin’ sex, laughs and a HEA or HFN.

When I’m not writing or reading, in leafy Sussex, England, I herd Birman cats and sons. Both groups argue that the other is too large.

 

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Grace Kilian Delaney on First Meetings and her Book Tour for Living On A Dare (A Shore Thing Novel) (guest blog, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Hi! I’m Grace Kilian Delaney and I’m excited to be at Scattered Thoughts and Rouge Words promoting Living on a Dare, the first book in my Shore Thing series. In Living on a Dare, Draven and Jules, former college roommates, get thrown into a fake engagement complete with lots of misunderstandings and a chance to find out if their feelings go beyond friendship. For today’s exclusive blog tour post, I thought it would be fun to explore Draven and Julien meeting for the first time.

Draven

Scrambling to find a roommate a week before the semester began sucked. A friend of a friend mentioned a tight-laced nerd from the Boston area who needed a roommate and connected us. After texting the nerdy guy a couple of times, he asked me to meet him at his apartment. He was either brave or naïve handing out his address without meeting me first. Or maybe our mutual friend put in a good word about me.

I anticipated spending more time away from the apartment than being in it anyway. My training schedule for the gymnastics team was brutal. Add my classes and homework and I’d be lucky to get any sleep, let alone hang time with my new roomie. Which was a damn shame.

“I’m Julien,” the cutest guy in the world said as he welcomed me into his apartment. His cheeks dimpled as he smiled and the dark frames he wore screamed hot-nerd. I wondered if I was drooling. I wanted to cuddle him, squish him, kiss him. He was the kind of guy that made me break out in a case of warm and fuzzies.

“Draven,” I answered, redirecting my attention to the apartment, deciding I could not be roommates with this hottie. Okay. I totally could. My love life was zero with no chances of improving, and there were far worse things than having an unrequited crush on a roommate.

“It’s not much but I have the essentials.” Julien gestured toward the expensive-looking sectional couch—its plush cushions were already coaxing me into taking a nap on it—and a four-foot flat screen TV on a stand that probably came from Restoration Hardware. Those were the essentials?

“I already have Netflix and Prime,” he said, “so you don’t have to pay for any of that stuff.” Aw. Isn’t he sweet? He’s blushing and fidgety. And that hint of a Boston accent was going to kill me. I was hoping this guy was gay or bi, or just plain curious. No. That would be too distracting. I had a gold medal to win.

“Yeah, that’s not how I work, but thanks. We go in half for all the bills except food. I eat, like, really specific stuff and I eat a lot of it. It wouldn’t be fair for you to pay for that.”

“Right, Dave mentioned you were on the gymnastics team.”

“Did he also mention that I’m gay?” No sense in being roommates with anyone who was a homophobic douchebag, no matter how enticing the roommate.

He shrugged. “Okay. Do you want to see the bedrooms?”

“Excuse me?” I think I turned a million shades of red. Cuz, hell yes. I’d like to see the bedrooms.

“Oh, sweet lord, that was a bad transition.” He shielded his eyes with his hand. His face flushed. Living with Julien was going to be a lot of fun and require frequent cold showers.

“How about you finish giving me the grand tour of the place and I treat you to dinner?” I asked. It wasn’t a date. It was an interview. Julien might be content letting some stranger into his home, but after growing up in LA, I was far less trusting. Sweet, innocent-looking nerd types might secretly be cannibals.

“Alright,” Julien said and showed me the rest of the apartment. Bedrooms and all. Thankfully, the shower had great water pressure. Yup, I checked.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 170 pages
 
Cover Design: AngstyG
 
Blurb



Stuntman Draven O’Connor never turns down a dare—even if it means getting down on one knee to propose to his former college roommate and friend. The same man he’s been crushing on since the first day they met. The same man that has grown distant over the past year. And the same man who just agreed to be his fiancé.


Julien Bouchard is tired of living a lie. He spent the past year exploring his sexuality in secret, enduring countless dates with women to appease his mother, and dodging his best friend, Draven, who knows everything there is to know about him, except the one thing that could change their friendship. Ready to face his friend, he meets him at a bar and is greeted by an unexpected marriage proposal. The dare isn’t surprising; it’s the scorching hot kiss that sends Julien’s head and heart in a tailspin—and gives him an idea for the perfect plan.


But perfect plans are never go according to plan, and news of their fake engagement spreads to their families as fast as a wildfire, forcing them to confront their true feelings about each other and hope they don’t get burned.

 

Author Bio

 

Grace Kilian Delaney is a LGBT writer, musician, animal lover, and author of the sweet and sexy bisexual romance Living on a Dare: A Shore Thing Novel. She spends her free time performing kitchen concerts to an audience of her two cats and a dog and loves long beach runs. Her previous books include Seven Minutes (Dreamspinner Press) and Waking Oisin (NineStar Press).


Twitter: @GracekilianD
Facebook: GraceKilianD
Amazon Author Page: Grace Kilian Delaney on Amazon
Website: gracekiliandelaney.wordpress.com
Gmail: GraceKilianDelaney
Mailing List: http://bit.ly/2UeYlHC

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A MelanieM Review: Anthony, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A tale set in Stuart England, where the king’s life depends on his most loyal of subjects.

Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, delights in his reputation as a charming rogue. Life is never quiet at the court of King James I, especially with his good friend and secret lover, Sebastian Hewel, by his side. As an actor with the celebrated King’s Men, Sebastian has his own admirers, but neither man has eyes for anyone else.

When a plot against His Majesty is uncovered it threatens Anthony and Sebastian’s charmed lives, and they are dragged into the political intrigue and the race to save the king from danger. Fear that a traitor is linked to the King’s Men leaves Sebastian and Anthony with no choice but to stage a very public dissolution of their friendship, so Anthony can be free to be the patron of a new rising actor, and Sebastian can be the prodigy of another noble.

It is a dangerous game they are playing to expose the plotters and still find a way to meet in secret, as Anthony is adamant that they will not sacrifice the love they have fought so hard to win. They will do whatever it takes to protect the king’s life, and their commitment to each other.

I have loved this couple from the start of their relationship.  That was  Rebecca Cohen’s The Actor and the Earl, the first story in the The Crofton Chronicles. That series was told from Sebastian’s pov and actually stretched through their lineage into the modern day Crofton Hall.  It is a terrific series, one I rec to anyone who adores M/M historical romance.

I had thought that Rebecca Cohen was finished with the Croftons, the series over.  But with the release of this new story, the author has also started a new series as well.  This time told from Anthony’s perspective and what a joy and entertaining ride it is.

Anthony, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen picks up after the events of Forever Hold His Peace (The Crofton Chronicles #3).  You don’t have to have read that story as the author fills in all the details nicely here.  But if you have, this feels like coming home again and your fingers will itch to go back and pick up the other series as a foundation.  Sebastian is treading the boards as a popular and extremely successful actor of the day, with his ex brother in law Anthony as his patron.  It’s again trying times to disguise their true relationship as lovers behind this masquerade but they are taking precautions and Anthony’s new engagement to Lady Sarah (which also shields her love for her maid Beth) will also help hide them.

Then a plan to kill King James by a Scottish insurgency intent on returning Catholicism and a far different reign to England comes to light and Anthony and Sebastian’s assistance is needed.

What makes this novel so enjoyable is that not only are the characters so well drawn but that the author has done her research for the time period and it all flows together so beautifully.  The plays, the cloths, the court, the politics and intrigue.  It all comes together in high romance, suspense, and no little amount of anxiety at times over the safety of our main couple.  And their happiness!

If you have read the other three books that make up their wild beginning story and path towards love and a real relationship, you can more readily appreciate the stage Anthony and Sebastian are at here in their lives.  If you haven’t, I have listed them for you below.  They are well worth reading before you get to this one, trust me because they are the foundation story for this couple.

Anthony, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen ended just as I hoped after such a thrilling adventure for them both.  I can’t wait to see what the next installment brings.    It will sure be one of great romance, high adventure, more than a little suspense and a love that lasted through more turmoils and troubles than anyone could expect.

The story is fast paced, sexy, fun, and so well written that it just flies by.    You will definitely want more once it’s finished.  I highly recommend reading all the Crofton stories as I love them all, including this one.

Cover art:  Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Designs.  Well, I would have thought Anthony would be one with a little less swagger but then again maybe not.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published April 25th 2019
ASINB  07QMTQ6DB
Edition Language English

The Crofton Chronicles Series – Anthony and Sebastian from Sebastian’s pov:

The Actor and the Earl

Duty to the Crown

Forever Hold His Peace (this is where Anthony, Earl of Crofton picks up)

An Ashlez Review: Sweating Lies – Criminal Delights: Taken (Lies #1) by Emma Jaye

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Rating : 4 stars out of 5

“Gladiator or toy?” Kaspar asks, as if it’s the easiest choice in the world.

It might be an easy answer for someone branded, brainwashed, and who remembers no other life. But that’s not me, not yet anyway. I’m a cop—or at least I was until my cover got blown.

Now, I’m one of the trafficked people I vowed to save.

Kaspar’s a toy —a pleasure slave— content to warm our sadistic owner’s bed; he laps up the abuse he’s conditioned to associate with affection.

He’s my only way out. To gain our freedom, I must play the hardest undercover role of my career and be everything his fractured mind needs: a more controlling bastard than the man who turns people into grateful slaves for a living.

Officer Jiao Sweatt thinks I’m a victim.
He has a lot to learn.
And it’ll hurt.

This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.
Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

Overall this book was great, it was very well written and the story progressed nicely.  I had a problem with the older terminology for the whole organization and I could have done without that, as Jiao mentioned early on.
Kaspar was great – he was a very well rounded character and it takes you into a psyche that I don’t think normally one would get to look into.
Jiao was just an average character – I felt he 100% had a hero complex.
I don’t think that this book progressed in a particularly fast fashion like the other criminal delights book I had read – but it did manage to weave a story that was quite spellbinding.  So apart from the lack of movement in the story (which honestly was moving fast .. I can’t describe that) the story was awesome and well worth a read.
Cover art by Natasha Snow: overall makes sense and matches the book.
Sales Links:  
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 286 pages
Expected publication: April 29th 2019 by Purindoors Publications
ASINB07PHZQFBB
SeriesLies #1

Amanda Meuwissen on Good Writing Habits and her new release Coming Up for Air (author guest blog)

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Coming Up for Air by Amanda Meuwissen

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Publication: April 30th 2019

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press Paperback and  eBook

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome back Amanda Meuwissen here today talking about writing and her new release Coming Up for Air. Welcome, Amanda!

✒︎

66 Days to Create Good Writing Habits

More than any other piece of advice, what people most often ask me is how do I foster good writing habits to create as much content as I do each year. The simple answer is I write every day, but that isn’t what people want to hear. Writing every day sounds hard. It sounds nearly impossible.

Considering the amount of people (myself included) who try to break bad eating and exercise habits and fail, it’s no wonder we feel that way. We all wish there was an easy route to what we want to accomplish, but sadly, the difficult path is the only one that works.

But back up. Writing every day, while it might sound difficult and does take discipline, isn’t as hard as you might think. It just starts with consistency, and over time, you can build on that more and more.

When I say write every day, that doesn’t mean you have to write 2,000 words every day. Even a single sentence can be enough, but you must build the habit of writing something each day as a starting point.

Developing discipline as a writer is the same as any good habit (or bad habit you want to break). I’ve heard varying numbers about how long it takes to make or break a habit, but the general rule is that it takes a little over two months, or around 66 days for something to become routine—for eating and exercise habits too, by the way.

And I speak from experience, nothing is harder than the first two weeks of those 66 days, but if you can last that final push over two months, the third month is easy, and from there, it’s no longer a challenge to keep consistent.

That’s why I have repeatedly told people who ask me this question that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November) is a great starting point for any writer to get into good habits with writing. It gives you your first 30 days right off the bat as a challenge. The trick is to not stop there.

Another exercise I took on last year was an AU (alternate universe) a day challenge for a full month, which can easily be tailored to be a prompt a day challenge if you prefer. In my case, I took one of my favorite fandoms, the superhero world of DC Comics, and chose a different universe to place those characters in each day, so ultimately, I was creating a unique story every time but with familiar faces.

Meaning, I wasn’t pumping out a full novel during this time like with NaNo, adding new chapters and scenes to a single story, I was dabbling in a different story every time I sat down to write.

You don’t have to add to the same project every day if you don’t feel inspired from one day to another, just write something, some amount, and if you do take a day off, make it only ONE DAY. Any more than that, and you risk breaking the path to a good habit.

Blurb:
It’s not easy being someone’s fairy tale.
Leigh Hurley is making a name for himself among thieves and criminals, even if it isn’t the life he would’ve chosen. He shouldn’t have screwed over the Moretti brothers, though. It landed him in the river with weights on his feet. But somehow he’s escaped certain death. The last thing he remembers before waking on the riverbank is a beautiful face and a soft kiss.
Then, Tolomeo turns up naked at Leigh’s apartment.
Tolly comes from a race of killers—merfolk who drown humans for fun. But Tolly is different, and when he sees a human in trouble, he offers a kiss, granting the man the ability to breathe underwater… and himself the ability to walk on land, at least until the next full moon. The ancient laws state that if he is given a vow of love by the one he kissed, he will be able to keep his legs. If not, he will be put to death when he returns to the water.
But love is not something Leigh offers easily… and Tolly has a secret of his own.
Author Bio:
Amanda Meuwissen is a primarily gay romance writer, as well as Marketing Operations Manager for the software company Outsell. She has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed major from St. Olaf College in Creative Writing, and is an avid consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games. As author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga, young adult novel Life as a Teenage Vampire, the novelette The Collector, and superhero duology Lovesick Gods and Lovesick Titans, Amanda regularly attends local comic conventions for fun and to meet with fans, where she will often be seen in costume as one of her favorite fictional characters. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga, and can be found at www.amandameuwissen.com.