A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Gideon (Finding Home #3) by Lily Morton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Gideon is a snarky, self-centered, self-destructive, talented, closeted, moody mess. And I loved him! Who knew how much I’d come to love him in just a few chapters? Eli is hired to nurse this temperamental mess back to health after a bout with pneumonia that resulted in a collapsed lung. Eli is the complete opposite—a sweetheart from the get-go.

What better way to remove a man from potential hookups, booze and other assorted vices than to put him on a senior citizen’s cruise? When Gideon is released from the hospital, his nurse Eli accompanies him, and with farewell hugs from his brother, Milo, who loves him despite his snarky comments, off they go on an adventure that will only be a peek at something new for Gideon—hope. A sunny disposition, optimistic, professional, and downright cute, Eli refuses to be cowed by Gideon and by the end of the cruise, both men have found much to like about each other.

Sticking to his professional ethics, Eli refuses to act on any attraction and insists on putting time and distance between them before any move can be made. He sets a four-month time out and heads to a new job overseas to assure they have what they need. And the moment that time is up, it’s very apparent neither has changed his mind, and they are drawn together like magnets. From this point until the end of the story, the author uses her talent to paint a vivid picture of romance, family, hugs, and unconditional love that leads Gideon to becoming a self-assured, self-confident, strong, and independent man—one who no longer kowtows to either his homophobic, underhanded manager, or to his potential loss of career by coming out. He heads out of the closet and does it spectacularly.

I love this author’s writing. She’s one of the highlights of the past year of my reading experiences. The characters are well-developed and cleverly find their way into my heart. Even someone as tough as the Gideon we met in Milo’s story and see at the beginning of this book found a permanent shelf in my memory bank. I very highly recommend this book as well as Oz and Milo, the first two in the series, and I’m looking forward to many more adventures with Lily Morton’s characters.

The attention-getting cover by Natasha Snow features a close-up of a handsome dark-haired man—Gideon in all his gorgeous glory.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 280 pages
Published May 12th 2019
ASINB07RJ1LNXT
Edition Language English
Series Finding Home :

Oz

Ten Minute’s Peace

Milo

The Big Four-Oh

Gideon

When Gideon Met Asa 3.5

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Rook by T. Strange

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Rook is sent to the alien prison planet B-226 for twenty three years for killing his husband. The average life span on the hostile planet is three weeks. His plan is to live as long as possible to honor his husband’s wishes, and then die and join him. Upon landing he is partnered with a prisoner named Stevie to help guard the miners, or he won’t get fed. There is a strange thrill in fightening off the local fauna and surviving, or having a specific daily purpose, that Rook didn’t count on. Their days are stressful, consisting of violent episodes bracketed by fighting boredom for concentration. Through his POV, the third character is Rook‘s dead husband Carlos. Stevie walks a fine line of teaching Rook how to survive, being wary of any attack or signs of madness setting in, using him for company and sex, but trying not to care too much in case Rook gets killed like all his previous partners.

I found this plot enticing as I personally enjoy when an author explores the psychology of a character. This is a new author to me so I really didn’t know what to expect. The main question here was always going to be, are they just together because of the circumstances? While that is actually asked, finding out the real answer takes the whole book. Bonding over shared trauma isn’t bad as a short cut, as long as it’s not the only thing there. While they are just trying to survive, they don’t actually know anything about each other’s previous lives. What they do know is: how they each react in an emergency, if they are trustworthy and to what extent, how each deals with conflict and triggers, and what factors motivate or de-motivate them. I would argue not knowing facts about someone’s life, or even their particular thoughts at any given moment, is less important than knowing if they can be counted on. I loved that there were so many issues touched on like the complications of choice, personal sovereignty, stages of grief, and PTSD. Having said that, it’s shocking that no one even makes a mention or an attempt at trying to deal with said mental health issues.

There are parts of this book that at times reminded me of movies like Predator, Reign of Fire, Pitch Black, Starship Troopers or Enemy Mine. I mention movies because I saw this story as pictures in my mind. That the author manages to sustain a feeling of suspense and terror for such a large (80-85%) portion of this book is amazing. There are breaks in the tension just when they are needed. There are breaks in the setting, just when they are needed. The focus of this book is very narrow, with the characters in their own world, creating a very intimate rather than epic feel so without the breaks, this could have been stifling. As it is, I felt like I went through everything with them.

Romance is not the point of this book. Finding someone you love and can get along with during one of the worst times of your life is another thing altogether. Sex is also not the point of this book–mostly it is fade to black, or described as a celebration of survival or stress relief as a realistic part of Rook‘s life and circumstances. While there is a HFN/HEA here, it is done in a realistic way consistent with the flavor of the novel as a whole. I am so thankful this author didn’t just slap a bow on it and negate all the work it took to get to the end of this journey. I thought this story was great and complete as it is.

The cover designed by Aisha Akeju is evocative of desolation and beauty. You can clearly tell it is science fiction. I do appreciate the use of the jungle as both reality and allegory.

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 7th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684311804
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Release Day Review: Why We Fight (At First Sight #4) by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Corey Ellis sure doesn’t. Oh, everyone around him seems to have found their happy ending, but he’s far too busy to worry about such things. He’ll have plenty of time for romance after he survives his last summer before graduation. So what if he can’t get his former professor, Jeremy Olsen, out of his head? It’s just hero worship. And that’s the way it should stay.

Except that this summer, bigender Corey—aka Kori—is interning at Phoenix House, a LGBTQI youth center that recently hired an interim director. And because life is extraordinarily unfair, the director just so happens to be a certain former professor, now current boss.

Desperate to keep things professional as he and Jeremy grow closer, Corey makes a major mistake: he turns to his friends, Paul Auster and Sanford Stewart, for help.

But Paul and Sandy have some ideas of their own.

Set in the summer of 2016, Why We Fight is a celebration of queer life and being true to oneself… no matter the cost.

What makes me so very sad about this book is that it finishes up the At First Sight series and I will miss it so much.  One of my all time favorite books is Tell Me It’s Real and Paul Auster is the character I would love to be.  That book is a re-read and re-listen often, I’d give it ten stars if I could.  Sandy’s story, The Queen and the Homo Jock King, is a solid 5.  Until You, Vince and Paul’s wedding story, another solid 5.  I was eagerly awaiting Kori/Corey’s story.  I have to put it out there that I never read Bear/Otter stories so I was not introduced to Kori/Coery until this series. 

Kori/Corey is a social work student living with Sandy who is a little more serious than the others,  making this story a little more serious but not overly so. Kori/Corey is interning at Phoenix House, a center for LGBTQ kids and when the book begins is desperately missing Sandy and Darren, who are in Vegas and Paul and Vince, on their honeymoon. What I love most about this series is these people, from Nana to Charlie to Matty and Larry to the guys themselves (Paul, Vince, Darren, Sandy and Kori/Corey) are hardcore there for each other.  They fold Jeremy and his dad, Robert, into the mess with little fanfare.  They are sarcastic as hell, biting at times, sappy and smoopy rarely but they love shines through.   “Hi, Kori, Vince said happily, squeezing me so tightly my back cracked.  We came back from our honeymoon early! Sandy said you were sad, and I know how much you like it when I hug you, so here I am.”  Vince…I forget how much I adore him.

I was definitely laughing here and often.  Jeremy’s love of Coldplay and forcing others to realize they are listening to Coldplay in his sorority whore’s yellow Jeep gave me the best visual ever.  Nana, who isn’t anything like my gramma but is definitely what I want to be when I grow up, taking Kori/Corey for a their first massage, “Enya was shrieking through the speakers overhead.  The lit candles smelled like lemon-flavored ass” was a highlight.  “There was a piano player. And candles on the table.  Oh my god, old people on romantic dates was my new kink.”

Jeremy is the son of Charlie’s beau, Robert.  He is also the former professor of Kori/Corey and subject of her/his mad crush.  It doesn’t help that Jeremy is now the boss at Phoenix House and is also Hot Jogger Guy, which I found hysterical that Sandy recognizes no face when the bits are bouncing.  And finding out Jeremy is the year’s Mr. Leatherman?  “I needed to articulate exactly how I was feeling.  “Blargh,” I said.  “Urgh. Marf.”  Perfect.  That about summed it up.”

But more than anything, the book is about being true to who you are and what it takes sometimes to get there. Jeremy and Robert are lonely and being enfolded into this family is miraculous.  Being accepted for yourself is miraculous.   Being suited up in leather to spy on Mr. Leatherman?  Glorious.  There is a heavier feel to this book than the others and the message isn’t lost amongst the humor.  The fight for acceptance got harder in 2016, the book is set, with the inauguration of a truly horrific president and this is made clear here.

But the overlying message is hope and love.  Having friends, loving people and making sure the ones you love know it and are cared for.

Oh and the flash mob?  Perfection.

The cover art by Reese Dante, Kori/Corey in some sexy heels, is absolutely perfect.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 350 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleWhy We Fight
ASINB07NDFWSKC
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series At First Sight #4
Characters Corey/Kori Ellis, Paul Auster, Vince Taylor, Sanford “Sandy” Stewart, Darren Mayne, Jeremy Olsen

 

At First Sight Series:

Tell Me It’s Real

The Queen & the Homo Jock King

Until You

Why We Fight

A Lila Release Day Review: Cowboys Don’t Samba (Cowboys Don’t #3) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Maury Garcia’s one of the greatest bull riders in the world—and one of the biggest liars. Can he turn forbidden love with a rodeo rookie into a lasting romance?

Ever since his brother was killed because he was gay, Maury’s worked to take his brother’s place as the bull rider, the provider, and the ideal of his family’s macho expectations. The only thing Maury’s ever done for himself is buy a secret ranch so he can get away from the responsibilities he’s chained himself to. Then he meets Tristão Silva, the younger brother of the one man who could rob Maury of his bull riding championship.

Tristão may be a world-class bull rider in his own right, but his kind, gentle nature and sexy samba hips make Maury long for something beyond his selfless, sexless life. The two men’s lives are worlds apart, even if they’re both buckling under family expectations. Will their future last beyond an eight-second ride?

Cowboys Don’t Samba is another small window into the world of bull writing. I’m glad the author included the diversity of the sport and their community. Perhaps not in the best light, but close to its reality.

The book starts a bit slow but not enough to put it away. The main characters’ stories run parallel most of the time creating a distinction between them. I wanted more time for their relationship to develop but the rest of the events compensate for it.

Some parts related to how Hispanics and Latins raise their families felt a bit preachy and as a stereotype. We get some redemption by the end of the story but I wanted a less rushed preposition.

The story is engaging and I liked the characters. The author did an excellent job meshing the previous stories’ plot and characters into this book. And like the previous two, the secondary characters are as important as Maury and Tristão. Not as over-the-top but everyone had a reason to be involved in the drama and invested in their future,

The cover by Reese Dante matches the rest of the series, showing Maury, this time.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 229 pages
Published: May 14, 2019, Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781644053959
Edition Language: English

Series: Cowboys Don’t
Book #1: Cowboys Don’t Come Out
Book #2: Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns
Book #3: Cowboys Don’t Samba

Tara Lain on My Bahian Cowboy and her new releases ‘Cowboys Don’t Samba (Cowboys Don’t #3)’ (author guest blog, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Cowboys Don’t Samba (Cowboys Don’t #3) by Tara Lain

Dreamspinner Press
Published May 14th 2019
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Book Links:

GoodreadsDreamspinner PressKindle |  Amazon Paperback iTunes |  KoboNook BAM

My Bahian Cowboy by Tara Lain

Hi. I’m so happy to be here today to announce the release of my new romance, COWBOYS DON’T SAMBA, the third book in my Cowboys Don’t series, but like all of them, a stand alone read if you want to start backwards. In this book, my bull rider hero, Maury Garcia, meets an amazing Brazilian bull-riding rookie and the rest is romance.

In fact, many of the bull riding champions of the world are from Brazil, so it gave me a wonderful opportunity to pay homage to this fascinating country I got to visit a couple years ago. I went to Brazil on a cruise ship and then ended my trip with a week in Rio. Rio is as fabulous as you can imagine, but I must confess that the real discovery for me on that trip was the enthralling and beautiful town of Salvador, the capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia. Salvador was the center of the Brazilian slave trade, a shocking commerce in human life that went on even longer than the U.S. This background has resulted in a rich Afro-Brazilian culture in the town of Salvador that completely enthralled me. It’s palpable, like the humidity and the lushness of the trees.

Salvador is the home of Candomble, a unique religion formed from an amalgam of African and European traditions. At the Afro-Brazilian Museum, I saw images of some of the Candomble orixas, the pervasive spirits or deities who protect the faithful and felt their lively and optimistic energy.  Candomble mixes wildly with Roman Catholicism in Bahia and Salvador is the home to an amazing church built by slaves over many, many years since they could only work in their spare time, which they had little of. Unlike so many European and American traditions that make the Catholic saints blond and blue-eyed, all the statues of saints in this church are black. Salvador is also a center for capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that is astonishing to watch. It combines dance, acrobatics and martial forms in mind-boggling and gravity-defying ways.

Food is Bahia is drool-worthy. I tried moqueca, the seafood stew served with rice and flavored with coconut milk and palm oil. Of course, the drink to die for (and you may) is the caipirinha, a drink made with fresh lime, brown sugar, and a clear, rum-like liquor called cachaca, all poured over ice. It goes down smooth and packs a huge punch. I own some very expensive jewelry that was fueled by caipirinhas!

Bottom line is Salvador is an amazing place where I would happily have spent way more time. While it’s not a bull-riding center in Brazil, I stretched reality a bit and made my Brazilian cowboy a Bahian, which gave me an excuse to set a short scene there. I hope you’ll enjoy the trip to Salvador and COWBOYS DON’T SAMBA.

 

Intro:
When an American bull riding champion meets a Brazilian rookie the results are one hot samba.

Book Blurb:

Maury Garcia’s one of the greatest bull riders in the world—and one of the biggest liars. Can he turn forbidden love with a rodeo rookie into a lasting romance?

Ever since his brother was killed because he was gay, Maury’s worked to take his brother’s place as the bull rider, the provider, and the ideal of his family’s macho expectations. The only thing Maury’s ever done for himself is buy a secret ranch so he can get away from the responsibilities he’s chained himself to. Then he meets Tristão Silva, the younger brother of the one man who could rob Maury of his bull riding championship.

Tristão may be a world-class bull rider in his own right, but his kind, gentle nature and sexy samba hips make Maury long for something beyond his selfless, sexless life. The two men’s lives are worlds apart, even if they’re both buckling under family expectations. Will their future last beyond an eight-second ride?

Excerpt : Cowboys Don’t Samba by Tara Lain

Breathing. Breathing would be good.

Maury watched Xesús Silva swagger in the door, but he wasn’t alone. Behind him came another guy. Young. Dark hair, pale skin. And probably the most gorgeous human Maury’d ever seen. Not that he noticed guys’ looks all that much, but hell. This dude set new records in plain beautiful. He also resembled Silva, who was, after all, a pretty handsome man if you didn’t count his soul.

Silva made a straight line to the table where the Brazilians were sitting. Some of the men definitely didn’t look thrilled, but a couple of other guys hailed him. People moved aside, and someone pulled over two chairs.

Silva straddled the chair in that hypermacho way of his. The other guy? Holy crap. Poetry. Loose-hipped and graceful, he slid into the open chair and crossed his legs. Most of the Brazilians were squeaky clean-cut, but this dude’s inky hair hung down to his neck and curved around his ears. He was a little taller than usual for a bull rider and lean rather than the more compact build of a lot of the PBRA competitors. Of course, he looked young, so that might explain the lanky body.

“That’s the younger brother I told you about.” Earl helped himself to a french fry. “Haven’t seen him ride, but I hear good things.”

“Let’s drink up and get out of here. I, uh, need some sleep.” Maury pushed back his chair with a scrape.

“Uh, boss, it’s five fifteen.” Earl grabbed for his wallet in his hip pocket. “Let me pay the check.”

Maury stood and started toward the door. Just need to get out before I meet the asshole again.

“I hear it’s your birthday, Wetback.” Usually Silva was subtler, but he yelled this halfway across the room. “No wonder the judges felt like they had to let you cheat to beat me.”

Maury plastered on a smile and turned. “No one has to cheat to beat you, Silva. Little kids can do it.” He said it like a joke, and a few people laughed, but the serious competitors, especially the Brazilians, looked uneasy.

Silva stood at his chair. “I’ve got the baby that can beat you, Garcia.” He reached down, took the young man—younger—by the arm, and pulled him to his feet. “This is Tristão, and he can ride the butt off any bull and defeat a herd of American cowboys. He’s a Silva.”

Maury gave the young guy a direct gaze. Almost too much for his eyes to take. Like looking straight into the sun. “Hey, Tris, good to meet you. Welcome to American cowboying. Good luck with that whole winning thing.”

 

About the Author

Tara Lain believes in happy ever afters – and magic. Same thing. In fact, she says, she doesn’t believe, she knows. Tara shares this passion in her best-selling stories that star her unique, charismatic heroes — the beautiful boys of romance —  and adventurous heroines. Quarterbacks and cops, werewolves and witches, blue collar or billionaires, Tara’s characters, readers say, love deeply, resolve seemingly insurmountable differences, and ultimately live their lives authentically. After many years living in southern California, Tara, her soulmate honey and her soulmate dog decided they wanted less cars and more trees, prompting a move to Ashland, Oregon where Tara’s creating new stories and loving living in a small town with big culture. Likely a Gryffindor but possessed of Parseltongue, Tara loves animals of all kinds, diversity, open minds, coconut crunch ice cream from Zoeys, and her readers. She also loves to hear from you.   

 

Author Links:

Website:  http://taralain.com/

Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog

Twitter: https://twitter.com/taralain

FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/taralain

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tara-lain

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2ICPcCZ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/taralain/

Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/255111391312743/

Giveaway

 

Giveaway Item: $10 Amazon Gift Card

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Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b4c0001d387/?widget_template=57632a0204f50f8c0cf21a68

 

Check Out the Book Blast for Last Loose End by K R Allen (excerpt)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Last Loose End

Author: K R Allen

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Fiverr

Release Date: May 6, 2018

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, Action/Adventure/Spies

Themes: Authenticity, acceptance

Heat Rating:  3 flames

Length: 122 917 words/ 296 pages

Add on Goodreads

 

Blurb

Australian secret agent Cole Pearson never could stay out of it.

Now he is AWOL and on the run with Sean Trammel, analyst for mining giant ARBUS dodging killers and cut off from help as he never is overseas. As they try to uncover the reasons behind the attack on Sean, Cole unexpectedly realises that he has reasons purely personal  and increasingly physical for wanting to keep this man safe. And as they discover the stakes for their hunters they know that it is going to take more than Cole’s charm, guns and wits to keep Sean alive and out of their clutches.

 

Buy Links

Smashwords

Amazon US 

Amazon UK

 

Excerpt

It was the skulking action that first caught his eye. Even without the dark grey fatigues, not couture de rigueur for urban Brisbane, the light step and hurried, almost sneaking motion was deeply suspicious. Cole sat up straighter in his car, the boredom from sitting for five straight hours disappearing in an instant. The skulker slid along the side of the office building heading towards the back. Any legitimate visitor to the building would go through the front door, check in at the counter maybe. It wasn’t the building Cole was supposed to be watching and it was extremely unlikely that the skulker was the Indonesian intelligence officer he was looking out for but he was intrigued nonetheless.

“Now what are you up to buddy?” he muttered. A moment later he saw the man wasn’t alone. Two more men dressed in similar dark grey fatigues followed his path. Cole looked up and down the Spring Hill street. People were coming and going and not paying the slightest attention to him or the men moving into the building across the road from him.

Cole tapped his fingers against the vinyl of the steering wheel. He knew he should mind his own business. It wasn’t what he was there for and he knew he’d only been given this surveillance detail as punishment for his latest misdemeanour. He didn’t think his career could stand many more infractions. Anyway, it was warm in the car and while it was a sunny day out and midday, outside the air was chilly in typical Brisbane May weather. Still…he caught sight of another two figures and pursed his lips. Someone’s day was about to go to crap, he thought reasoning with himself. And really he could do with some movement. For an hour he had sketched passersby and played license plate poker on and off but mental stimulation didn’t keep the blood pumping. A moment more of internal debate and he grabbed his gun from under his jacket on the passenger seat and slipped out of the car. He was just going to take a look he told himself.

On this street the buildings were actually accessed at road level half way up the building with at least four floors below due to the way a hill had been cut into years before. The skulkers had wound their way from street level up the maintenance gangways which wrapped around the sides and presumably the back of the building like a mesh exoskeleton, up two floors so Cole followed at a distance. He saw the lead man jimmy open a door and the whole string of them, bar one who stayed by the door as look out, slipped inside pulling on ski masks as they did so.

‘Just taking a look’ would end now, Cole thought. No matter how he spun it. He’d clearly seen them go into a building he wasn’t supposed to be monitoring. At most he should call the Police. Instead, he double checked the magazine in his pistol and set to finding another way into the building.

Cole went back down one floor and used a fire extinguisher to break open a door and found himself in a back hallway near a couple of storerooms and the toilets. He slipped his gun into the back of his pants pulling the buttoned shirt free of his waistband so it could hang over the top to hide the gun. Following the hallway he entered an open area with a kitchenette along one wall and an open eating area with a floor to ceiling window looking out onto a courtyard type arrangement. When he encountered a couple of people, he adopted his best ‘yep, I’m meant to be here’ countenance and kept steadily on. He’d had a lot of practice blending in and it did not fail him here. Pretty much everyone ignored him. Just beyond the kitchen was a void through at least five levels with stairs to the next level up and down. The timber stairs squeaked slightly at his steps but still no one gave him a second glance. It was the usual thing, he thought. If you were in everyone just assumed that you were supposed to be.

 

About the Author   

Kathryn Allen is an Australian cross-genre author of magic realism romance Ever Man and male/male action thriller Last Loose End along with a frankly ridiculous number of in-the-works fantasy, action and drama novels. For added confusion, she also writes under the names K R Allen and Kathryn R Allen. She enjoys writing about characters taller, bolder, quicker with the comebacks and infinitely better shots than she is.

Find out more about Kathryn at: https://www.kathrynallen.com.au/

 

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