Michael Gouda on Writing Emotions and his new release Pack with the Devil (author guest post)

 Pack with the Devil by Michael Gouda

MLR Press
Published May 30th 2019
Sales Links:  MLR Press| Smashwords

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Michael Gouda here today to talk about his new story,  Pack with the Devil. Welcome, Michael.



Hi, I’m Michael Gouda and I was born in London, England at the start of WW2.

In my mid thirties after a disgracefully enjoyable time in the gay pubs and clubs of London I decided to take life more seriously, went to University, obtained a respectable degree and took up teaching in the Worcestershire town of Evesham.

I took early retirement to a limestone cottage in the Cotswold hills where I lived with a series of neurotic collie dogs, a domineering cat and a determination to write. Since then I have written over one hundred and fifty short stories and published longer works with Dreamspinner Press and M.L.R. Press.

I like to introduce incidents from my own deplorable past into my stories of crime and misadventure. Being a romantic at heart though I never allow a tragic ending, however downbeat may be the indications in between.

In ‘ Pack with The Devil

I wanted to write a story about quite a few emotions, betrayal was actually the one that as it were rose to the surface, though of course it isnt the real one.

I intended to write a mystery. Of course the narrator himself is a bit of a mystery for in fact we never know his real name. Not that that hasnt been done before, notably in Daphne duMauriers, Rebecca

Having decided on that I wanted to spin a web of characters, any one of which could prove to be the villain, some more obvious than others. 

There was of course Lex Warrington, the handsome, super-attractive lover who himself is a mystery being forbidden by law (the Official Secrets Act 1989) to divulge his position/job whatever. It is interesting to know (to me at least) that the (mainly women) code breakers at Bletchley Park during WW2 were similarly bound, and some even went to their graves at advanced ages without telling anything. Others though did.

The second most important character was Jacob Levin, Johnnys life-long friend with whom he shared so many adventures’ in early life up to the time they were parted by the iniquitous 11+ exam which decided the fate and future of so many children, long before their potential could be realized.

Other suspects, in fact red herrings, were the terrorist whom Johnny photographs and could have identified him as his name was included in the byline of the newspapers and of course on the Internet.

I also hinted at the possibility that it might be Christian, Johnnys sexual partner at University, aggravated by rejection, or even someone in the Police Force itself, though the motivation for this was unlikely.

What I had to do was to try to head the readers attention away from the real killer and I hoped that by maintaining contact and seeing the relationship purely from Johnnys point of view, the actual denouement would be something of a surprise.

I admit that Johnnys actual escape from death was a little fortuitous but I thought that, in describing Johnnys final surroundings, I had made them sufficiently sordid for the accident to be believable, especially as the villains madness had resulted in such erratic movements.

Occasionally in my writing I include events that have actually happened to me, the incident that took place in the grounds of Alexandra Palace was real, though Im not sure I behaved then with such presence of mind, but my friend of the time did escape any harm, and we never told our parents, knowing something was wrong but not sure exactly what.

My inspiration for writing can come from anywhere. I have actually written 186 short and novel length stories and obviously they must range over a wide area. I have written stories set in Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, Rome, (which obviously needed a considerable amount of research which I enjoyed.), occasional science fiction (though Im not really a fan). There is one set in Shakespeares time where he meets up’ with his fellow dramatist Christopher (Kit) Marlowe who was murdered in a bar room brawl, though there are conspiracy theories about that – and I give an entirely fictional account as to whom the mysterious WH’ was, whom Shakespeare dedicated his sonnets to.

There is also a gay sendup of the legendary King Arthur – Gay Knights and Horny Heroes..

Most of my stories, though, are contemporary and practically anything I hear on the news, see on the TV, remember from my past (for example the flood of  2007 inspired a longish novel about a writer and his friends and their adventures). I like reading thrillers or police procedurals and many of my stories are in similar vein (like Crook’ and Crimes of Passion).

I have also written a full length novel about WW2 based on what I have read and my fathers stories. He was an ARP warden during the war, not being called up as his work was a reserved occupation.

Sometimes I include my agnosticism in my characters, who cant believe in a loving god when theres so much hatred and evil in the world and the innocent suffer. Nor can I really understand how a so-called monotheistic deity has three gods and certainly cannot comprehend life after death. However my atheist characters are able to disregard all this and remain loving and human beings .(or the opposite – such is the power of the author)

For the past three years I have been immobilized in a Home, unable to stand or, of course, walk and having to be moved via a hospital hoist. Luckily I have retained at least most of my marbles, so I can type away at my tablet whenever I get a reasonably inventive idea.

I think I write to entertain though occasionally I must admit secretly I think I also write some stories to inform, though hopefully not in a didactic, or worse in a patronizing way.

My next story is already on the stocks. It involves the complications of Mistaken Identities.


From my recliner, 🛌 Michael


Part 1 The Book

It was all his great aunt Marion’s fault…

If she hadn’t had a birthday and Adrian hadn’t felt pressured into buying her a present…

If she hadn’t made pointed remarks about liking old books and how the backstreets of the town were full of second-hand bookshops which were an excellent source…

If her birthday hadn’t fallen on the 25th of the month and his pay day wasn’t until the 28th so that he was really short…

If he could just have ignored that birthday without incurring her displeasure which might have meant being left out of her will–and she was after all pushing eighty…

And all those ‘ifs’ meant that Adrian was wandering down the High Street when it was at its hottest and grubbiest, the air feeling close and sticky and the sky a heavy uniform grey. He had just finished his part-time shift in the local BurgerBar and had hoped that the air outside would be less clogged than the greasy atmosphere of his work place. The hot spell it seemed was about to break and not before time. Stagecoach buses and cars made pedestrians’ lives hazardous while the vehicle exhausts pumped out choking pollution fumes to fill the air.

Sundry ‘homeless’ persons sat against the walls and spread their legs and feet out onto the pavements begging. Some had dogs and Adrian felt more sorry for them than he did for their human owners. Most of the dogs looked bored and would obviously have preferred to be running around a field chasing after rabbits than sitting looking forlorn in the High Street. He was pleased to see though that they looked well-fed–which was more than he could say for their owners.

Except one–who was young, dogless and quite attractive with curly dark hair and wide eyes which looked open and appealing. He was dressed in a pullover–must be hot, thought Adrian, and some tight jeans which, as the man–well he was scarcely older than a post adolescent boy really–sprawled his legs out onto the pavement, wrapped and emphasized the shape of his genitals in a very stimulating way–surely intentionally.

Adrian tried to catch his eye, but the young man seemed to be looking into the middle distance, his eyes glazed and unfocussed. Maybe he was on drugs, Adrian thought.

The Spa Town had once–perhaps some two hundred years earlier (Adrian was not all that good at history)–been the height of fashion when gentlemen in silk hose and ladies in crinolines came to take the waters at the Pump Room, but Time and the corrosive effects of sulphur dioxide had not dealt kindly with the elegant stonework which was now pitted and marked so that it looked as if it was being eaten away by a virulent disease. Nor had the economic recession helped for almost every other shop front was now boarded up, the graffiti and advertising posters making a patchwork of cluttered disorder.

But Aunt Marion had been right in one thing–there were second-hand bookshops in abundance especially in the little side streets which branched off the main thoroughfare every twenty yards or so. Adrian wondered how they could possibly make any sort of profit, there being so many of them and so few apparent customers. Some of them had tried to attract custom by putting a box of dog-eared paperbacks and old remaindered hardbacks in the front with a sign saying ‘Only 50p each’ but it was hardly an unrefusable inducement to buy.

Adrian, though, was out for a bargain so he stooped down and rummaged through the contents of one such box. Now would Aunt Marion appreciate a grubby, torn, ‘bodice-bursting’ Mills and Boon–he thought not. He might be a cheapskate, but he didn’t want to appear to be one too obviously. Right at the bottom of the box he found a yellowed book which, at first sight, appeared as unsuitable as the first. Its print was crabbed and blurred, and the paper was thick, the sides of the pages seemed almost torn rather than cut to size, their edges rough and uneven. It had no front cover and Adrian was about to toss it back in disgust when his eye caught a date in Roman numerals at the bottom of the title page–MDCLXXV.

It took him a little while to work out but eventually he deciphered it as 1675. The title seemed to be in Latin ‘Compendium Rerum Malorum’ and the author was someone called Thomas Weir of Edinburgh. None of this meant very much to Adrian, a Compendium, he thought, meant a collection–but certainly the book looked old and, if he had worked out the date correctly, nearly four hundred years, could be quite valuable. It would make an ideal present for Aunt Marion who loved Antiques. He wondered if perhaps the book had got into the box by mistake and the bookseller would make a fuss about selling it to him for 50p, so he picked out three other books from the box and took them into the shop.

“Four from your bargain box,” he called out cheerfully to the little man, crouched like a gnome behind the counter, and looking as dusty as most of the stock on his shelves. He waved them in front of the man’s face and then plonked down two-pound coins on the surface.


When Adrian Foster finds an antique book containing what appears to be spells covering all kinds of attractive eventualities. He also meets Steven Miles and the two are attracted to each other. Adrian tries out a spell which is granted, as does Steven. However Adrian decides to go even further and makes a pact with the Devil which, although his wishes are granted, the cost to himself is disastrous. Steven attempts to rescue him from Lucifer’s clutches but Adrian rapidly goes downhill until he is a wreck of his former self. Can the two youths find a way out of the appalling situation which is killing the man Steven loves?

A Stella Review:The Reluctant Husband (Goddess-Blessed #2) by Eliot Grayson

RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

Disowned, disgraced, and with nowhere to turn, Tom Drake is willing to barter anything — even himself — for a reprieve from starvation and despair. Years spent lying to protect his secrets have left him longing for someone to value him, even if it’s only for his body and the blessing of his patron goddess.
Mal Leighton’s cousin and heir is dying. Only a miracle can save him — and if a miracle doesn’t appear, Mal’s damn well going to create one. Marrying Tom for his blessing is his last desperate hope to preserve his family. And if Tom happens to be as irresistibly seductive as he is untrustworthy? Well, Mal can focus on more than one goal at a time.
Tom doesn’t fall in love, and Mal knows better than to believe he’s the exception. But when Tom’s blessing doesn’t provide the quick cure they’d hoped, it’s clear that the goddess expects them to have a marriage in more than name. To save Mal’s family and find their own happiness, they will both need to sacrifice their pride and risk their hearts.

I was a little dubious when I read the blurb of the second installment in the Goddess Blessed series, it’s not easy to fall in love with a main character you already met in the first book and deeply despised. To find Tom here in The Reluctant Husband was a shock. Then I started the reading and saw how a great job the autor did at redime this young man. I soon realized Tom was not at all the one I thought I knew, sure, he did a lot of mistakes and he’s now in need of some help, even if he’s not ready to accept it.  When Mal discovered who Tom really was, he knew the other man was his only chance at saving the life of his dear cousin.

What both of them ignored was the power of the fake wedding they were taking so ligh, was so strong they will unavoidable fall in love.

The Reluctant Husband was a lovely novel, I quickly finished it and it was too soon, I found the MCs interesting and well mixed together, the double POV help me understand better their stubborn minds and hearts.

A short note on the writing style, I said in the review of The Replacement Husband I usually had a hard time with this author, not this time,  the reading flew to me very easily. Not once I was lost, on the contrary I devoured it every word.

I really hope the author will give me more in this series.

The cover art by Fiona Jayde is lovely, I like it a lot.



Kindle Edition

Expected publication: June 7th 2019 by Smoking Teacup Books


Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Bombs and Guacamole (Border Crossing #1) by BA Tortuga

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

ER doctor Dusty Lowry grew up in a conservative rural Texas family that has never quite forgiven him for staying in New Mexico after his stint in the Army. Paramedic Nate Miller, Dusty’s best friend since their early Army days, has a hippie momma, a tiny apartment, and is in lust with his buddy. When their other Army friend, Kyle, gets married, they start thinking about settling down. In fact, they both know what they want: each other. Too bad they’ve never shared that goofy little fact.

A trip to visit Dusty’s family in Texas changes everything, and Dusty and Nate aren’t sure where to go from there. Good thing they’re smart guys, and between a series of bombings that target first responders, their friend Kyle’s wife getting pregnant, and more than one bowl of guacamole, they begin to figure out how to have a relationship.

But as the bombings get closer to home, Nate and Dusty must navigate love and commitment before they lose their chance.

Friends to lovers is a staple in BA Tortuga’s contemporary romance fiction  and Bombs and Guacamole (Border Crossing #1) is another action packed example. Sexy, fun, and full of the Texas warmth and chili pepper hotness I’ve come to expect and need in my BA Toturta stories, it features paramedic Nate Miller and ER doc Dusty Lowry, best friends since the Army who are about to get much closer.

Neither has found true love, probably because that’s what they feel for each other, although never voiced or, precisely admitted.  There is a third Army buddy who has recently married and whose wife is now pregnant with their first child who will also figure heavily in the story.

Both Dusty and Nate have been afraid to keep their relationship as anything more than friendship, not knowing how the other feels and not willing to risk it. The author brings us into both men’s torn emotions and deep love for each other.  We see their history and just how perfect their are for each other.

It takes a blast to knock them out of the stasis they’ve been in.

The rest of the novel is a scary rollercoaster of explosions, suspense, acknowledgement of feelings, and the hunt for the terrorist setting off the blasts.

It’s one wild ride every way you look at it.

The men and their relationship (and families) are easy to connect to, the drama full of suspense even if you pinpoint the bommer early on, and the ending just the right amount of sex, hot spcy food, and HEA you need in your contemporary romance from this author.

And I can see who might be getting the next romance.  Bring it on!

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza,  Simple and eye catching.  It really works.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages
Published May 6th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1632168057 (ISBN13: 9781632168054)
Edition Language English

Series Border Crossing

Bombs and Guacamole

Ammo and Enchiladas coming June 11th

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Adam Only (Those Other Books #2) by Roe Horvat

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The warning in the blurb says it all—this is a gay erotic love story. There’s a lot of sex in this. In fact, there’s sex before the characters have time to get to know one another, sex when they wake up in the morning, sex in the shower, in the kitchen, in the pool house…

The author wrote this book after The Other Book but the time frame is a prequel to that one. Adam and Christoffer, who appear in The Other Book, wanted their story told, so it was laid bare (pun intended). I would have appreciated this story much more if I had read The Other Book first because I didn’t get their heart-to-heart connection the way others who read the first one seem to have seen it.

Christoffer is older, wealthier, and much bigger physically—in all ways, if you know what I mean. Adam is lovely, graceful, slender, but muscular, as he is a dancer and it shows. He’s not had a lot of lovers in his life but craves a certain someone, and it seems Christoffer might be that someone.

Amidst the many sex scenes, we learn that Adam knew a bit about Christoffer before they met and that Christoffer is captivated by the lovely dancer. He tries to go slow so he doesn’t frighten Adam away, but that leads to the big Misunderstanding and Adam bolts. Not to worry, though. They find their way back to each other, acknowledging the beginning of feelings. Left with a HFN, this story is perfect for those who are looking for erotica with a bigger, older man and a younger, smaller one, with enough romantic interest to warm the heart. And the good news that I discovered when I immediately read The Other Book is that one shows this couple is together, emotionally connected, and experiencing their HEA.

The cover art by Roe Horvat features a head shot of a handsome young man in a brown-shaded tone


Book Details:

Published May 30th 2019 by Beaten Track Publishing
Edition Language English

Series Those Other Books

The Other Book

Adam Only


Review Tour for Adam Only by Roe Horvat (excerpt and giveaway)


Length: 39,000 words
Cover Design: Roe Horvat
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Those Other Books
The Other Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

On stage, Adam lets his passion drive him. All his secret desires, everything nasty, dirty, and beautiful flows freely through him, for once in harmony. His soul thrives when his body moves, but only on stage. Adam’s passionate nature makes him a great dancer…and a failure at life. He’s a lonely, emotional mess. Going home with a man far out of his reach is the last thing Adam should do. Christoffer represents everything Adam isn’t: strong, independent, educated, and rich. His kind eyes, at odds with his brutish form, make Adam’s knees and restraint buckle.

Once Christoffer sees Adam dancing, he’s lost. The young man is mesmerizing, otherworldly, and unpredictable. Whatever might happen between them, it will be transient, and Christoffer will most likely get hurt. The temptation is too great, however, and the sex explosive. He might as well enjoy every moment he’s given, even if it’s just one day, maybe two. If Christoffer treads carefully, Adam might stay until Monday.



He didn’t have a clue what he was doing. Why was he still here? He should leave. Now.

The house was far away from any main roads, but he could walk for a bit and then get a taxi to the nearest train station back to the city. Maybe there was a bus stop somewhere close. His thoughts sharpened—the jerking off, swim, and caffeine had cleared his brain. Determined not to waste more time daydreaming about wealthy bears who never gave a damn, he finished his coffee. He’d need to sneak back to the bathroom to get his clothes. And his phone. He shouldn’t have lingered.

He found which cabinet door in the kitchen hid the built-in dishwasher and placed the cup inside. Then he climbed the stairs on tiptoes and peeked into the bedroom. Christoffer slept on his back, snoring softly.

Adam spotted his phone on the nightstand. Christoffer must have put it on charge after Adam had fallen asleep. He wouldn’t dwell on how considerate that was. He snatched up the phone and closed himself in the bathroom.

Eying the red thong with disgust, he threw it in the trash. What had he been thinking? He dragged the jeans up his naked body, pulled on his socks and slid into the T-shirt. His jacket was downstairs. He opened the door carefully, ready to bolt without looking at the sleeping man.

Except Christoffer was now sitting on the edge of the bed, naked, staring up at Adam with sleepy eyes.


“Hi,” Christoffer murmured. His eyes slid up and down Adam’s body, noticing the clothes. His smile turned cautious.

“Hi.” Adam shifted from foot to foot. What now?

The moment dragged on until Adam’s heart was pounding. He needed to say something, quick, and get out of there before it could get any more awkward.

“I…” he began but closed his mouth again. He couldn’t decipher Christoffer’s expression. And all that skin on display was distracting.

Christoffer braced his hands on his knees and inhaled deeply, his Goliathan shoulders lifting. “You like eggs?”


“For breakfast.”

“Yeah,” Adam blurted before he thought of the implications. He was staying for breakfast? He wanted to. Stupid! He absolutely shouldn’t! Seeing Christoffer now, those gentle gray eyes such a contrast to his brutish form, Adam ached to stay. You stupid, horny, clingy asshole. Get out of here!

He opened his mouth to say something else, to apologize and whisper goodbye, but Christoffer was faster.

“Good. Wait for me in the kitchen. I just need to…” He gestured to the bathroom door behind Adam’s back.

“Oh. Sure.”

Adam stepped aside, quivering, and the big man stood in all his naked glory. He bent down and kissed Adam’s cheek, lingering, his breath hot by Adam’s ear. Then he disappeared into the bathroom. “I’ll be just a minute,” he threw over his shoulder before the door snapped shut.

Adam stood there, stunned, and touched his tingling cheek.

About the Author

Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. He came out as transgender in 2017 and has been fabulous since. He loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, bad action movies, stand-up comedy, pale ale, and daiquiri, with equal passion. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, he can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

More about the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roe.horvat.98
Twitter: @roehorvat
Website: roehorvat.com
Publisher: http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/?n1=authors&id=107


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Review Tour and Giveaway for The Color Of Summer by Anna Martin


Length: 71,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Reese Dante

Tattoo artist Max Marshall rushes into his hometown of Sweetwater, West Virginia—and is promptly pulled over for speeding. Max’s luck isn’t all bad, though, because he recognizes the deputy, Tyler Reed, Max’s childhood best friend’s older brother.

Reconnecting with Tyler helps Max settle back in, and it also leads to attraction. But when he tries to explore that connection at the grand opening of his tattoo studio—by kissing Tyler—awkwardness ensues. Max wants more, but has he misread Tyler’s signals?

As a single father raising a six-year-old daughter, Tyler doesn’t have much time to date. He’s ignored his attraction to men for years, but he can’t stop thinking about the kiss he shared with Max. If he can handle the complications of dating in a small town and the possible consequences to his career, this romance could blossom with all the colors of summer.


About The Author

Anna Martin is from a picturesque seaside village in the southwest of England and now lives in the Bristol, a city that embraces her love for the arts. After spending most of her childhood making up stories, she studied English literature at university before attempting to turn her hand as a professional writer.

Apart from being physically dependent on her laptop, Anna is enthusiastic about writing and producing local grassroots theater (especially at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she can be found every summer), going to visit friends in other countries, and reading anything thatís put under her nose.

Anna claims her entire career is due to the love, support, prereading, and creative ass kicking provided by her best friend Jennifer. Jennifer refuses to accept responsibility for anything Anna has written.



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