A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Heart Untouched (Hearts Entwined #3) by Andrew Grey and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Duncan was an Olympic hopeful when his skeleton sled crashed in training, and he ended up paralyzed and wheelchair bound, likely for life. Instead of wallowing in self-pity he decides to use some of his marketing talent to help his friend Todd, also an Olympic-level skeleton racer, earn money to pay his way in the costly sport. The author explains, on several occasions, that the US athletes in many sports, especially the little-known sports, have to pay for much of their expenses, travel, and training on their own. In fact, in some places in the story, the dialogue is quite forceful and anti-IOC. Since this was in audio format, it may be that the narrator emphasized some of these segments, but I suspect it was as the author intended. I once met him and heard him say that he often gets inspiration for his stories from real-life news stories so I have no doubt the plight of Olympic level athletes is as stated in the story.

However, I digress. This story is about the relationship that develops between Todd and Duncan as they work together to help Duncan become more mobile and independent. Slowly, they begin to act on their attraction, and also slowly, Duncan’s body begins to respond to Todd’s stimulus. Those who’ve read Andrew Grey know that the MCs are going to be sweet and sincere and will end up with their dreams coming true or on the way to coming true and their lover will be with them for a hard-won HEA. 

Characters from the previous stories in the series are present for this one and narrator Greg Tremblay does an outstanding job of bringing the story to life. I’d tag this one: #men with disabilities, #winter Olympic sports, and #HEA.

The cover by LC Chase features two young men kissing, with the silhouette of a man in a wheelchair in the bottom right pane. As usual with this artist, the cover is attractive and perfect for the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Details:

Listening Length: 5 hours and 38 minutes

Audible Audio, 6 pages
Published June 27th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 9th 2018)
Original Title Heart Untouched
ASINB07T8KFJ4Z
Edition Language English
Series Hearts Entwined #3

A MelanieM Review:Where the Night Reigns by Emilie Lucadamo

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

The barrier between worlds has shattered. Demons wreak havoc across Earth; the dead are rising from their graves; psychics and witches are vanishing without a trace. The fate of the world rests in the hands of the enigmatic Tresser Corporation, a company of demon soldiers… and a kindergarten teacher.

In other words, humanity’s odds aren’t looking great.

When hunter, David Tresser, pairs up with a High Demon, he knows he’s in over his head. Of course, there are worse positions to be in, like Henry, whose girlfriend hasn’t been seen since the demonic attacks began, or the psychic Cassandra, who has become a target of those very demons herself. As this motley crew teams up, trust is slow to be gained…but they really have no choice when the world around them is falling apart at the seams. In the midst of it all, Tresser finds himself curiously drawn to the demon he’s not even sure he can trust.

After an exorcism gone terribly wrong, the team is left with no choice. To save their worlds, and themselves, they’ll have to travel into the darkest part of Hell: the Pits of Gehenna, from which no one has ever returned.

To defeat the odds and preserve humanity, they’ll all have to work together.

This was one of those books where I definitely needed to pay closer attention to the author’s notes and tour warnings.  Usually I’m better at that.  But in this case I missed several important flags.  One the title has two formats, I only saw one.  It’s the second I wish I’d seen and paid attention too.  The one that indicated that it was the last story in a trilogy.  As in Where the Night Reigns (In the Darkness Book 3).  The other flag?  Please note that the story contains a death of a major character.

Nope missed that.

Because honestly, I would not have read this story.

And it all starts off so promisingly.  Even without knowing about any other novels (remember I didn’t know this was a trilogy),Emilie Lucadamo sets the universe and premise for the story and then dives right in.  It doesn’t take long to start connecting emotionally to the characters, especially as they start to form this odd band of fighters/family up against incredible odds sort of thing… about to ride into Hell itself.  I mean … there’s humor, pathos, and great fantastical action scenes.

And even some of our fav characters start to pair up, ridiculously, wonderfully so as we get to know them better and our brave and supernatural Scooby gang prepare to save everyone in the world even as the odds rise up against them.  I mean the author has done a mean job of getting us to the point that we are engaged with the story and all the characters.  The huge world ending battle comes and it doesn’t disappoint.  Because with what happens to everyone …well, these are special beings with otherworldly gifts…and scenarios that could happen.

Until the epilogue.  Which you just don’t believe.

It sent me searching for other stories and reviews.  Which is how I found out this was in fact the series finale, the third story of a trilogy.  There won’t be any sequel, no hoped for change. This is it.  Huh.  How depressing.  And no won’t be reading the other stories either.  What’s the point?

I know there are fans out there for this type of bittersweet sort of storytelling.  I’m just not one of them. If you are, then yes, I believe you will like Where the Night Reigns (In the Darkness Book 3) by Emilie Lucadamo, all three stories.  The characters in the preceding novels get their resolutions here.  So obviously their stories were cliffhangers.  Just a FYI.  If it hadn’t been for that ending, I probably would have rated it higher.  But that ending still rings in my mind so no.  Not happening.  I’m just not that sort of ending gal.

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  Dark and murky.  Turns out it perfect after all.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:ebook, 229 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 20191 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781951057053
Edition Language English
URL

 

A MelanieM Review: The Hate You Drink by NR Walker

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Erik Keston, son of the Keston Real Estate empire, knows what it takes to be successful. Despite his inherent wealth, he holds his own. He works hard, he’s grounded, he’s brilliant. He’s also secretly in love with his best friend.

Monroe Wellman lost his parents three years ago and never grieved, never recovered. Inheriting the family company and wealth means nothing, and his spiral of self-destruction is widespread and spectacular. Dubbed Sydney’s bad boy, he spends more days drunk than sober, and the only person who’s stuck by him through it all is his best mate.

But when Monroe hits rock bottom, Erik gives him an ultimatum, and his entire world comes to a grinding halt. It’s not until the haze lifts that Monroe can truly see what he’s been searching for was never in the bottom of a bottle. It’s been by his side all along.

An 80,000-word friends-to-lovers story about fighting the demons within and trusting in the love that takes its place.

“Because when all you drink is hate, that’s all there is inside you.”

I really wish I could put down two ratings for this story, one for NR Walker’s superb portrait of an addict hitting bottom, and then going through rehabilitation and  reintegration into his relationships.  The other rating?  That would be for the romance.

The Hate You Drink by NR Walker is a tale of two addictions and the love of two men.  Both incredibly wealthy, longtime friends as were their families who live nearby each other. The death of Monroe Wellman’s parents shatters his life and sends him spiraling downward, the vehicle of his destruction alcohol.  Not that he recognizes just out of control  his drinking or his life has gotten.  Why?  Because his best friend is there, rescuing him, enabling him in his actions.  That would be Erik Keston, richer, taller, and hopelessly and secretly in love with Monroe.  His own personal addiction.

NR Walker brings us into the story at the point where Monroe is hitting bottom.  So everything good about his life, Erik, and his previous relationship and past childhood and upbringing is in the past.  All we see is the addiction, the lies and excuses and the effects it’s having on the people around him as well as Monroe.    It’s ugly, gritty, and authentic.  The pain Monroe is inflicting on everyone including Erik as well as himself is deep and widespread, although he blithely ignores it.

As it is with every addict, the story is all about Monroe.  What it will take to shake him up enough to get the help he so desperately requires, the acceptance that he is an addict, an alcoholic, and his long rehabilitation.  That’s most of the story.  That’s really this story.  And it’s a heartrending and disturbing one to read, especially if you know someone who is an alcoholic.  Because this will all strike you again as so very, very sad and true to life. The characters are true to life, layered and believable. This part of the story rates a 5 star rating.

Less successful for me is the romance here.  Erik has always loved Monroe, he is Erik’s personal addiction.  He, in fact, loses himself in taking care of Monroe during the worst of Monroe’s downward spiral.  We are told over and over that Monroe completes Erik, that prior to his parent’s death, Monroe was different.  That he took care of Erik, etc.  But we never get “glimpses” into that past relationship, into what made Erik love “that” Monroe.  The Monroe we see is the addicted, self centered, selfish alcoholic.  Even in rehab, you don’t quite see enough of that other Monroe to get the chemistry that should make this unique and soulmate sort of relationship work. So for me, the romance element is a 3 star or less.

However, the majority of this novel is so well written, so well researched and emotional, that it overpowers the lackluster romance and makes The Hate You Drink by NR Walker an impactful story and one I definitely recommend to readers.

Cover art works so well for the theme of the story and character.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 295 pages
Published May 21st 2019
ASIN B07S5BVCWX
Edition Language English

J.P. Barnaby on Writing, Research, and their new release ‘A Pocketful of Stardust”by J.P. Barnaby and Rowan Speedwell

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A Pocketful of Stardust (Aster #1) by J.P. Barnaby and Rowan Speedwell

Dreamspinner Press
Published July 30th 2019
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:   | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.P. Barnaby here today, answering questions and talking about her latest release with Rowan Speedwell, A Pocketful of Stardust.

Welcome, J.P.

 

A Q&A with author JP Barnaby

Hello! My name is JP Barnaby and I’m the author of Aaron, the Little Boy Lost series, and a few other novels in the M/M world. Today I’m here to answer a few questions in promotion of a great new book with Rowan Speedwell (Kindred Hearts, Finding Zach, Illumination). It’s the story of Noah who inherits his father’s failing bookstore and with the help of Henry, the ghost of the previous owner, learns about community as he attempts to save it.

So, here we go with our Q&A:

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

My husband and I take a cruise to the Caribbean each year to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I’d love to say that I sit on the deck, watching the waves under the sun and write my little heart out, but that just isn’t the case. The best place for me to write is on my couch, with my dog at my side and my husband at work. I have my notes spread all around me (I’m a paper girl, despite working in IT), a Diet Pepsi on the table, and maybe some pretzels in a bowl. I can’t listen to music with words, so I’ll put on a John Williams station and listen to soundtracks from Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and more. After a couple hours of sitting under a blanket, lap desk across my legs, I usually wake up and realize I’ve only written a couple thousand words.

Does research play a role in choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

The genre in which I write depends a lot on what I’m reading at the time. Prior to meeting my husband, I read a lot of romance (straight and gay). I liked thinking that a happy ending was possible. When I got my own, I started reading more in the suspense genre. I’m a big fan of Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Stephen King, Lee Child, and now Karen Rose and Sandra Brown. For me, Romantic Suspense is the best of both worlds.

As for settings, I prefer making up my own town in an area of the country. For example in this latest book, A Pocketful of Stardust, we wanted to make it a small down in the south, so we created our own town of Aster in Georgia. It’s situated on the western outskirts of Atlanta and has a great community vibe with that unique southern charm. I like to write places I’ve lived, or at least been, so I can get a feel for the atmosphere—is it fast-paced like Chicago or New York? Does it have a party vibe like New Orleans or Orlando? Now, I also need to be concerned with the size and structure of the local law enforcement.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m not really on one side of the fence or the other. I like what’s best for the story. If these are guys who have been friends a long time and they’ve become lovers, I can see a more HEA ending. But, if they’ve been thrown into the heat of passion by mad bombers, maybe a HFN is more appropriate. As long as the ending is emotionally satisfying, I’m on board.

What’s next for you as a writer?

To date, I’ve written mostly contemporary novels with an angsty edge, books where the main character is fighting his way through trauma. Currently, I’m working on my first romantic suspense. I’d like to channel that fear and anxiety into a different form of expression. I’ve been researching police procedure which has been fascinating. This weekend I’m going to be attending the Writer’s Police Academy (https://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/classes-available/) in Raleigh, North Carolina where I’ll learn fingerprinting, blood evidence collection, and interrogation techniques. I’ve also been reading Forensic books and working through what suspects and books will take readers from beginning to end. It’s more planning and strategy than I’ve done for books in the past, so I’m taking it slowly. My plan is to have it finished for the Writer’s Digest conference next year in New York.

Thank you for taking the time to hang out with me!

 

A Pocketful of Stardust by JP Barnaby & Rowan Speedwell

Noah Hitchens loves the New York City life he worked hard to build. But when his father dies and leaves him a bankrupt bookstore in their sleepy Georgia hometown, Noah knows he has to save it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know anything about business. He finds unlikely help in Henry, the man who owned Stardust Books before his 1966 murder, and Kyle St. James, a shy but kind-hearted out-of-towner with a past almost as mysterious as Henry’s. Kyle came to Aster, Georgia, looking for redemption. On the run and out of hope, he’s just trying to get on with his life. Then he meets Noah, a ghost, and a big sloppy lab named Jake who redefine his idea of living. But his past is closing in, and when it finds him, they could lose everything.

About the Author

JP Barnaby is an award-winning contemporary romance and romantic suspense novelist with over a dozen novels. Her heart and soul, the Survivor Series, has been heralded by USA Today as one of their favorites. She recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta to appease her Camaro (Jake) who didn’t like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When she’s not working on her latest novel, she binge watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix with her husband and Jack Russell Terror, Chase.

Sign up for her newsletter and try a free story: https://bit.ly/2xSB8kE

Come hang out in her Facebook Group – Between the Covers with JP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2228150134074004/

 

Blog Tour for Mad About the Boy by Beth Laycock

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 62,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Something’s waiting for Eli. Somebody’s watching his every move…


Eli is used to looking after himself. Single for longer than he’d care to admit, he doesn’t need a man for more than a hookup, not when he’s got his loyal dog, Zeus, by his side.


But one night changes the course of his life. He meets Dominic, an actual copper and not the stripper he thought his best friend had hired for his birthday. Unfortunately for Eli, after his night out celebrating, a gift awaits him at home—but not a pleasant one.


His birthday may be over, but the threats keep coming. Keep escalating. Keep hurting those close to him. Just how far will the monster behind them go? And how much will Eli lose before he can stop them?

Beth Laycock’s books are influenced by her time living overseas as well as the gritty, urban landscape of the north of England where she grew up.


She has been reading romance since she was old enough to tell herself that line every book lover does—just one more chapter.


As a teenager she attempted to write her first novel, and many more since then that are still gathering dust on her bookshelf. It wasn’t until she discovered the M/M genre that her muse showed up and refused to quit telling her stories about beautiful men finding love together. She hasn’t stopped scribbling them down since. Beth’s muse usually shows up when she is in the shower, is allergic to cleaning, rarely lets Beth watch TV, and insists she drinks copious amounts of coffee so she can turn caffeine into words.


When not writing or reading Beth can be found procrastinating on social media or being dragged around the English countryside by her dog.


Beth loves to chat about books on social media or you can email her at beth@bethlaycock.com

 
Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

New Release Blitz for Mason’s Run (A Twin Peeks Bookstore Romance) by Mellanie Rourke (excerpt)

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Mason's Run RDB Banner

Mason’s Run

A Twin Peeks Bookstore Romance

Mellanie Rourke

M/M Romance

Release Date: 08.01.19

Mason Run Cover

BLURB

Mason:

I’ve escaped a past that would have destroyed most men: used, abused and sold for sex from a young age by those who should have protected me, an unexpected moment of compassion from a stranger gives me a chance at a new life.

Though I’ve started over, my scars run deep; I’m an LGBTQ fantasy graphic novel writer and artist with a huge following, but I’m terrified of the world. When I discover that the stranger who saved me from a life of abuse is the same man who has finally awakened my body to desire, I realize the truth: Can I ever really be free if I’m still afraid of my past and the people who shattered me?

Lee:

Serving as a medic in the Middle East, I felt the life of my fiancée slip away under my hands and was powerless to stop it. Discharged with physical and emotional wounds I can’t heal, I go home to my crazy, geeky family and try to learn to live with the damage.

Pain and grief lead me to some acts I’m not proud of, including paying strangers for sex. I’m determined to keep it strictly business, no emotions involved, but when I discover that Mason Malone isn’t a high-end escort, but a battered young man forced into a life of pain and degradation, I’m frozen in indecision. Then the man with the raven curls and blue-gold eyes whispers “”Please…”” and the barriers I built around my heart shatter.

Years later, fate brings us back together. He has a new name and career, but I could never forget those eyes. Mason, unfortunately, doesn’t recognize me. Every day I find myself more and more drawn to him, but I’m terrified of what will happen when our secrets are discovered.

As both of our pasts threaten our future, can we find a path to redemption? Can love and forgiveness overcome soul-shattering pain? Or will the discovery of our shared past create a chasm too wide to bridge?

Warning: PTSD, major anxiety issues, and sexual abuse, including rape, the aftermath of child molestation, and human trafficking.

mason

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EXCERPT

“Well, who knew? All it took was a little murder to get him back,” I said, digging my fingers into my head, trying to get rid of the headache that was growing.

“It wasn’t murder, Lee,” Bishop insisted, his voice brooking no argument. “And you know it. You were saving that him. That’s what you do: defend the helpless, protect the innocent, just like you always swore to do. Like you always did for me.”

I looked up at him and shook my head, even if he wouldn’t acknowledge it, I knew it was different.

“It wasn’t the same, Bish. There was no ‘brotherly’ love involved,” I said wryly. “Just lust. I went there to use him, just like all the other men had.”