A Caryn Review: Dancing with the Lion: Becoming (Dancing with the Lion #1) by Jeanne Reames

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Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Focusing on homosexual relationships in historical fiction in the ancient Greek world is not new – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Persian Boy by Mary Renault have done so and reached wide audiences – but I am still thrilled to see another entry into this particular area, especially when that relationship is deep, abiding, and meaningful.  There have been centuries of writing and thinking that served to ignore and whitewash what was an important, and beautiful, part of the history of that era.  While there are certainly many parts of the culture that I am glad are no longer accepted – the treatment of women, slavery, constant wars, to name a few – the general acceptance of sexual love between two men (or women) deserves to be remembered and celebrated.

I also have a weak spot for epic stories, and the life of Alexander the Great is certainly a compelling subject.  Dr. Reames added to this book what is a new twist for me – using Hellenic (Greek) nomenclature for names, places, and concepts.  Thus we have Alexandros, Aristoteles, Philippos, etc, instead of the usual westernization of the names, which lends it an additional air of authenticity and interest.  There is a wonderful section where Hephaistion tries to puzzle out whether eros – sexual passion – can exist with true philia – brotherly love  – in his relationship with Alexandros, and the use of the Hellenic terms made me really look at the debate in a deeper way.

The book begins when Alexandros was 13, and newly entering the ranks of the Pages, or the servants of the king, Philoppos of Makedon (Philip of Macedonia).  Even at this young age, Alexandros had to find a balance between being set apart as a prince, and Philoppos’ heir, and yet still one of the youth of Makedonian aristocracy training to become a soldier and officer.  Hephaistion was 17, the youngest and only surviving son of Amyntor, who ran away from his home to Pella against his father’s wishes, and Philippos was more than willing to add him to the ranks of Pages.  Partly because both young men were outsiders in a way, and partly because of their natural intelligence and curiosity, Alexandros  and Hephaistion struck up an unlikely friendship, that deepened over the next few years in the time they spent as part of a select group of young men tutored by Aristoteles.

The coming of age of a prince must necessarily be different from that of other boys, no matter how much Alexandros might want to be like them.  The court of Philippos was full of political machinations, and Philippos himself was a master manipulator.  Alexandros’ mother had her own ambitions for him, and she also used Alexandros as a pawn in the power games she played with her husband.  Surrounded by people who wanted to use him, Alexandros found his friendship with Hephaistion one of the few things he could fully trust and depend upon.  Although their culture was accepting of same sex relationships, these relationships were typically defined with a very particular power dynamic – the older “erastes” was the lover and dominant partner, the younger “eromenos” was the beloved, and submissive.  Alexandros and Hephaistion loved one another, but how could they have that type of relationship when Alexandros was the future king?  (NOTE – by keeping the ages of Alexandros and Hephaistion relatively close together, the author was able to introduce this idea without giving it the creepy connotations of the modern day practice of pederasty, which is pretty much flat out pedophilia from what I’ve read about it.  I have to give the author props for that – even if I don’t know if their relationship was consistent with how the custom was truly practiced)

This book sets up what I expect will continue to be an amazing story.  I know how it ends of course – sometimes isn’t that the worst part of a fictionalized biography? – but I can’t wait to see the rest of the journey between here and there.  There is a large cast of characters, which can be confusing at times, but they are all nuanced, multifaceted people.  Warrior king Philippos; philosopher Aristoteles; priestess/witch/mother Myrtale; as well as the young men tutored by Aristoteles along with Alexandros, all interact in complex ways that seem to drive towards some inevitable destination.  This is definitely a character-driven plot, which is my favorite!  The book ends as Alexandros participates in a venerable ritual that fully initiates him into manhood, a logical completion of Becoming, which makes me truly anticipate the next chapter of Alexandros’ life in Book II:  Rise.

I can’t wait to read the next book!

Cover art by LC Chase captures the ancient setting well, but does not reflect the grand, heroic nature of the characters.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 282 pages
Published July 1st 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Dancing with the Lion: Becoming
ISBN139781626498969
Edition Language English
Series Dancing with the Lion #1
setting ancient Greece

An Alisa Review: Treasure Trail by Morgan Brice

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Erik Mitchell traveled the world uncovering art fraud and relic theft, which pitted him against spoiled billionaires, unscrupulous collectors, mobsters, and cartels. He worked with law enforcement across the U.S. and Europe, but then a sting goes wrong, Erik ends up injured and returns to find his partner cheating. He decides to stop globetrotting and buy an antique shop in scenic Cape May, NJ, rebuild his life, and nurse his broken heart.

Undercover Newark cop Ben Nolan went down in a hail of bullets when a bust went sideways, after a tip-off from a traitor inside the department. When he recovers, he spends a couple of years as a private investigator, only to tire of seeing the worst of human nature. So when his aunt offers him the chance to take over her rental real estate business in Cape May, it seems too good to be true. Now if he could just believe he could ever be lucky again in love.

Sparks fly when Erik and Ben meet. But when a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface, the two men are pulled into a web of lies, danger, and deception that will test their bond—and might make them Cape May’s newest ghosts!

This is the first book I have read by this author and I really enjoyed it.  Erik and Ben really had the “soulmate” instant connection that allowed them to build a quick connection.

I was actually a little surprised that Erik seemed like the more vulnerable of the two, I hadn’t gotten that vibe from him as much as I did Ben.  I didn’t like how quickly Ben began to doubt Erik but I guess Erik did so, it’s okay?  It was just one little point that bugged me.

I liked getting to know these characters and seeing the story from both of their points of view helped me understand them just a bit more.  There were a few unanswered questions for me but I can see that this will be a continuing series so hopefully some of that will be answered as their story continues.  I also recognize that this is a spin-off of another of the author’s series so there could be little things that I could have gleaned from those books if I had read them.

Cover art by Lou Harper is great and I love the visuals of the characters and the Commodore Wilson.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 246 pages

Published: June 26, 2019 by Darkwind Press

Edition Language: English

Love a Touch of the Ghostly Chill with Your Romance Story? Check Out the Blog Tour for Treasure Trail by Morgan Brice (excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Treasure Trail

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy MM paranormal romance

Trope/s: Second chance, friends to lovers, starting over, psychic/medium and a cop, mystery, action/adventure,

Themes: Taking a chance on love, running from your past, trust, friendship, found family

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Add on Goodreads 

Buy Links

Amazon US

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When a missing antique shows up under mysterious circumstances, Ben and Erik are plunged into danger as a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface. Someone wants those secrets to stay buried—and is willing to add Ben and Erik to the death toll to keep the past hidden.

Blurb

Erik Mitchell traveled the world uncovering art fraud and relic theft, which pitted him against spoiled billionaires, unscrupulous collectors, mobsters and cartels. He worked with law enforcement across the US and Europe, but a sting goes wrong and Erik ends up injured, then returns to find his partner cheating. Erik decides to stop globe trotting and buy an antique shop in scenic Cape May, NJ, rebuild his life, and nurse his broken heart.

Undercover Newark cop Ben Nolan went down in a hail of bullets when a bust went sideways, after a tip-off from a traitor inside the department. After he recovers, he spends a couple of years as a private investigator, only to tire of seeing the worst of human nature. So when his aunt offers him the chance to take over her rental real estate business in Cape May, it seems too good to be true. Now if he could just believe he could ever be lucky again in love.

When a missing antique shows up under mysterious circumstances, Ben and Erik are plunged into danger as a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface. Someone wants those secrets to stay buried—and is willing to add Ben and Erik to the death toll to keep the past hidden.

Excerpt

“What the hell did you pack in these boxes? Rocks?” Sean Meirlach shifted the heavy moving box on his shoulder. Sean looked and sounded like the Jersey Shore guy he was, brawny and blunt.

“Books,” Ben replied. “You know, those rectangular paper things? Ever read one?” The teasing was good-natured. Ben Nolan had spent most of his summers working for his cousin’s mom, and they were thick as thieves. Which, Ben reflected, was a poor analogy for an ex-cop-turned-former-private-investigator. And now, at least for this summer, a vacation rental manager in beautiful Cape May, New Jersey.

“Yes, dumbass. I’ve read lots of books. And not just the ones with pictures in them,” Sean said with a smirk. Sean played up his bad boy persona, but Ben knew his cousin had plenty of brains, hustle, and street smarts.

“Good to know. I’d hate to have to break it to Aunt Meg that her favorite son was illiterate.”

Sean snorted. “Favorite son? I’m her onlyson, asshole. And she’s already pissed at me because I just want to run my food truck in Wildwood. Which is why you’re doing me a huge solid, taking over the family business.”

“Whoa, there! Hold up. I’m here for the summer. Justthe summer. I said I’d see how it went. No promises.”

“Just the summer? You sure brought a lot of shit with you if it’s just for the summer.” Sean set the box down a little harder than necessary on a table in the upstairs apartment over the rental office, which would be Ben’s home for the next few months. Ben dumped the tangle of odds and ends he had carried up from the rented van and flopped onto the couch. He had put most of his things in storage when he left Newark and brought what he didn’t want to do without, or what the apartment didn’t have. Sean had driven the truck up to Cape May, while Ben drove his black Mustang, packed to the roof.

He owed Sean a lot for helping him move—and, if truth be told, for pushing him as the perfect candidate for the job to Aunt Meg.

“Don’t screw up the master plan, dude!” Sean chided. “You’re sick of the big city and getting shot. And I need a little of that good life, somewhere not quite as buttoned-down.” He reached for a bottle of water and took a swig. “I love this town, but I need to stretch my wings. And the vibe in Wildwood is different. People come for the Pier and the Boardwalk and the rides. More singles, not just families. And they all have to eat!”

Sean’s truck, Put A Ring On It, specialized in kickass onion rings, which went on everything—burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, even chili. The combination of great food, a catchy name, and Sean’s outgoing personality had made for a very successful launch.

About the Author

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

Join my Worlds of Morgan Brice Facebook Group! Get the early scoop on upcoming books and new series, see new covers first, enjoy insider news and special contests and giveaways! Plus it’s where I get my beta readers and launch team! 

Author Links

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Facebook Group

Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail)

Twitter: @MorganBriceBook

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for Patron Of Mercy (Lords of the Underworld #3) by Sam Burns & W.M Fawkes

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link – Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited


Length: 70,000 words approx.


Cover Design: Natasha Snow


Lords of the Underworld Series


Prince of Death – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Prisoner Of Shadows – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link


Blurb


Lach has spent the last few thousand years counting only on himself. What he needed, he took. What he wanted, he won with charm. All except a god he turned his back on an age ago, when he had a different name and didn’t know what he was giving up.


Thanatos, god of merciful death, is one of the gentlest gods in the pantheon—easing the transition between life and death for billions of mortals. But he has faced eternity alone. After breaking his heart on the sharp words of a fisherman’s son, he hasn’t been able to connect with anyone.


Now, Lach is crashing back into Thanatos’s life, dragging him into an adventure that could save the world . . . or kill them both.


PATRON OF MERCY IS THE THIRD BOOK IN A SERIES, BUT CAN BE READ AS A STAND ALONE NOVEL.

Sam Burns wrote her first fantasy epic with her best friend when she was ten. Like almost any epic fiction written by a ten year old, it was awful. She likes to think she’s improved since then, if only because she has better handwriting now.
If she’s not writing, she’s almost certainly either reading or lost down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while pretending to research for a novel.

W.M. Fawkes is an author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and paranormal romance. With coauthor Sam Burns, she writes feisty Greek gods, men, and monsters in the Lords of the Underworld series. She lives with her partner in a house owned by three halloween-hued felines that dabble regularly in shadow walking.


Website: https://www.fawkeswrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fawkeswrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FawkesWrites

 
 

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Join Us for the New Release Blitz for Beautiful Trauma (Queen City Rogues #3) by Aimee Nicole Walker (excerpt)

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Beautiful Trauma

Queen City Rogues Series, Book 3

Aimee Nicole Walker

M/M Romance

Release Date: 07.18.19

Beautiful Trauma Cover

Cover model: Joel Leslie

Photographer: Christopher John

Cover artist: Jay Aheer

Blurb

Does trauma define or motivate a person?

Homeless and rejected, Henry Sullivan arrived on the doorstep of Ryan’s Place with nothing but the clothes on his back. Life as he knew it was over. Within those walls, Henry found the encouragement and love needed to turn hopeless into hopeful. Enrolling for summer classes at his community college was the first step toward achieving the dreams he thought were lost to him. There was just one little snag: the professor standing in the front of the room taught Henry the true meaning of human sexuality.

After a crushing breakup, Professor Ezra Meyer moved to the Queen City for a fresh start where everything was new—job, home, and friends. His first challenge: prove the benefits of his biology of human sexuality course outweighed the controversy. Ezra agreed to teach the class during the summer semester at a community college associated with his university to gauge interest. There was just one little problem: Ezra had personally demonstrated the unit on Sexual Technique and Behaviors with one of his students.

Random or Fate?

It was supposed to be a harmless hookup on a night when Henry was celebrating his birthday and Ezra was trying to ease his loneliness. Fast forward six months later, the attraction blazed hotter than ever, but acting on it could have dire consequences neither man was willing to risk. Or were they? Could true love be Henry and Ezra’s ultimate reward, or were they destined to become just another sad lesson learned?

Beautiful Trauma is a story about triumph over tragedy, embracing the unexpected, and a reminder that family is more than biology. Are you looking for a feel-good romance with witty banter, toe-curling passion, and a story that stays with you long after the final page? Look no further. Beautiful Trauma is the third book in the Queen City Rogues series but reads as a standalone book. It contains sexually explicit material and colorful language and is intended for adults 18 and over.

http://mybook.to/Beautiful_Trauma

Beautiful Trauma Teaser 2

Beautiful Trauma Teaser 1

Excerpt

“Can we talk?”

“Is this about missing class, Ezra?”

I pinned him with a disbelieving look. “You think I drive around to my students’ apartments when they miss school?”

“I know how important this class is to you, and my poor attendance reflects badly on you,”Henry said.

“I’m not here to discuss your absences, Henry.”

Henry tilted his head slightly then studied me. “Then why are you here?”

How did I answer him? Did I tell him I didn’t know, or did I tell him the truth? Maybe not knowing why I came was the truth. No, I could lie to myself all I wanted, but I couldn’t lie to him.

I crossed the room until I stood directly in front of him. Even though I wanted so badly to touch him, I kept my hands to my sides. “I couldn’t stay away.”

Henry: 3

Ezra: 0
Aimee Nicole Walker Logo

Ever since she was a little girl, Aimee Nicole Walker entertained herself with stories that popped into her head. Now she gets paid to tell those stories to other people. She wears many titles—wife, mom, and animal lover are just a few of them. Her absolute favorite title is champion of the happily ever after. Love inspires everything she does, music keeps her sane, and coffee is the magic elixir that fuels her day. I’d love to hear from you.

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In the Spotlight: Oasis ( Inferno #2) by J.R. Gray (excerpt)

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Oasis by J.R. Gray
Publication: July 18th 2019 by Gray Books

Sales Links:Oasis

 

 

Blurb

I worshiped at the altar of pain, surviving on avoidance, physical to avoid the mental, anything to forget what I’d lost. When Remi walked through the door, I felt like I’d paid my price for the passage through hell and been granted a taste of Eden. Remi was my oasis and I was going to drown myself in him. 

But life takes with no remorse and everything was a mirage. The past won’t stay dead and a cruel phantom comes to destroy our happiness. The more we need each other the further apart our lives drive us. I’m torn between my perfect past and the hope of an oasis, and either choice demands I cut out part of my soul. 

Buy Oasis

First book in the Inferno series: Clouded Hell

I survive on avoidance. Physical pain to avoid the mental. Disposable flesh to avoid relationships. Work to avoid attachment. My club became my empire of avoidance. Inside the ring millions are won and lost. The fight is confined to breaths, actions and reactions, fists and pain. Rules don’t exist. Only my opponent exists. I’d been avoiding my needs for far too long when Remi stumbles into the Inferno and I’m hungry. The promise of a submissive with no attachment is far too tempting. I can’t resist him. He was only supposed to be a distraction, but I know I’ll never get over him. There isn’t a chance in this clouded hell.

Clouded Hell

Excerpts

#1

“Scared of me?” he asked.

“Only of you leaving.”

He turned to cup upside down over my chest. The scalding water burned and spread and I slipped. I slipped and floated. My lips parted and I could feel my breath pass between them. I must have moaned, but I was too gone to hear anything. The only thing I felt were his tools on me. Hands, and crops, and maybe a flogger. I craved each touch like the whisper of a lover over my skin. His marks were love written on my skin.

I pulled against the bonds wanting to touch him. The crude rope bit into my wrists, and I didn’t care. I had to touch him. I had to get to him. I knew it was useless, but how many things in life do we do that we know in the end will be useless. I’d felt like that my entire relationship with him. I was chasing someone who would never see me the way I saw him. But he was the sun, and to stand in his light was better than to suffer in the dark for the rest of eternity.

“How easy you are.”

“Only for you.” I swore.

“Even more pathetic.”

“I am. I will be anything you want me to be.”

“I have no doubt of that.” He dragged his nails over the lightly blistered flesh and I cried out.

The pain lifted me and filled me, but not as much as his words. His words broke me, but also built me. I knew they were only for me. I knew he didn’t pay this attention to anyone else.

Then there was soft. A silk touch. His lips? I had to pry open my eyes and fight my way out of the space I was in to see how he kissed my hip. His fingers played over my collar bones, and when he looked me in the eyes, I saw something there I’d never seen before. Maybe he did return my feelings in his way. I lived and died in that one look.

I was forever his, whether he remained or left. Like I’d signed my life away in his eyes. I was his devout servant for eternity.

It was more than a physical release. Better than cumming could ever be.

#2

My lips pulled back as fire raced through my veins. I had no outlet for the rage that filled me. Rain started to fall, soaking us through instantly.

“I don’t know if I want any of that anymore,” I said.

“What? It’s who you are.”

I grabbed his shirt, shoving him into the car. “You are who I am.”

I forced his lips open with mine, kissing him. He didn’t fight me. He still belonged to me. I knew he felt it as much as I did.

I tugged at the fabric and he raised his arms so I could strip off his hastily put on shirt. I shoved his jeans down, without shame wrapping my fingers around his cock.

He dug his nails into my arm. “Dante.”

“Shut up.” I stroked up his length, and his fingers tightened, drawing blood. It mixed with the rain and ran down my arms.

I bit and sucked at his lips and tongue. His other hand found my hip and dug in. I pulled back enough to meet his eyes. He was savage with his nails.

“Do your worst,” I said. 

“You don’t want my worst.”

I grabbed his balls with my free hand and twisted, smiling down at him. He returned the gesture by grabbing my cock through my pants.

“We aren’t in the playroom. I will return all of it.”

I licked over my lips squeezing more and raising a brow. It seemed like challenge.

“Hurt me. I need it.”

Both his brows rose, and he nodded. “Are we doing this out here or are we taking it inside?” Remi unzipped my pants and dugs his nails into my cock as he freed it.

About the Author

Gray is a cynical Chicago native, who drinks coffee all day, barely sleeps, and is a little too fashion obsessed. He writes realistic and damaged characters because everyone deserves a happily ever after.

Connect with J.R. Gray: Website | Instagram | Twitter – Personal | Twitter – Books | Facebook | Facebook Group | Tumblr | Mailing List | Amazon Author Page | Book Bub | Pareon

Books by JR Gray

Speak No Evil

King Consort

Forsaken

Say Yes

The Bound Series

Legally Bound

Breach of Contract

Illicit Activity

Damages Incurred

Capital Offense