A Stella Review: Relationship Material by Jenya Keefe

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

It’s not always possible to meet in the middle.

Registered nurse Evan Doyle doesn’t consider himself fit for more than occasional hookups. He has a good life, but the emotional aftermath of a horrific crime makes him feel too damaged to date. So when his sister’s hot bestie, Malcolm Umbertini, comes on to him, he turns him down flat. Mal is Relationship Material: the kind who thinks in the long term. What would Evan do with a man like that?

As a prosecuting attorney, Mal’s learned how to read people, and he knows there’s more to Evan than meets the eye. Mal has faced his own hardships since his family kicked him out as a teen, and he respects Evan’s courage and emotional resilience. More than that, he wants Evan—in his bed and in his life. But can he weather another rejection?

Both wary, they agree to a no-strings fling. Mal knows that Evan wants things to stay casual, but he’s falling in love a little more with each encounter. With health, happiness, and bruised hearts on the line, Mal and Evan must risk everything for love.

I picked this new release cause from the blurb I understood it wasn’t going to be an easy reading, I usually prefer easy and simply stories, I need them to brighten my real life. Still once in a time I want novels like Relationship Material by Jenya Keefe, with characters and plots that break my heart and leave me sobbing. So be aware this is not a light story. <spoiler>There’s a mention of rape too</spoiler>.

That said, although more than once I had to breath and make a pause, I quickly finished the book, I fell into Evan and Mal lives from the beginning and throughout the whole story I wanted to hug both of them and shelter them from the heavy pasts they carried on their shoulders, too heavy for anyone, most of all for someone so young. I saw not just how much they were hurting, I saw how brave they were: Evan to try and live a normal life, the same life that was taken from him since he was a child, the same life he’s trying to rebuilt with a new name, in a new city, with a lovely dog by his side. The same city his sister (and her best friend Mal) is now living in. He took a lot of courage for Evan to let her approach him after so many years spent apart. And then I saw how brave Mal was too, first of all to recognise real love and then to fight for it, although Evan was maybe not so ready yet to trust a stranger.

Relationship Material is a beautiful story, one I feel to recommend, it’s packed with love and tears, but the ending part was so worth it. Plus the writing is superb, I was sucked into each word till the end, I really can’t wait to read more by this new to me author.

The cover art by LC Chase is well done, I like it.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 215 pages

Published August 5th 2019 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN13 9781626498792

Edition Language English

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

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RATING 3,25 out of 5 stars

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.

I had a great time with this new novel, I found the plot so in tune with what I usually like to read, I finished it quickly. I loved Noah deeply, he sacrificed his life and job in New York to take care of his father dream, even if later he discovered it was his own dream too. I knew his pain and his devotion, I ached for him when things weren’t going well. I was glad he had first Henry and then Kyle to help, and the whole Aster people.

The book is beautifully written, it wasn’t a surprise knowing some of the authors’ previous releases. That said there were a couple of things that didn’t work for me: first in all in this story I think Kyle’s POV was necessary. His background, his fears, the reason why he was in Aster and he acted like he was from another planet, knowing all of these from his mouth would have made the narration more fluid and complete. I missed his thoughts, his POV, it wasn’t enough having only Noah’s. Plus the romance part fell a little short to me, I wasn’t able to feel a connection between the MCs.  I can understand the authors wanted to probably focus the book on Noah and his loss and more, but a romance is made of two parts, it seems to me like on of them was not ignored, cause we knew a lot about Kyle, but almost like not developed or less important. And because of this, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate and understand Kyle feelings for Noah.

I will surely read the next installment in the series, I was conquered by Aster population and can’t wait to discover more about it.

The cover art by Tiferet Design is lovely, I like it a lot

Sales Links:   | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 234 pages

Published July 30th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781644054666

Edition Language English

Series Aster#1

A VVivacious Review: Toy by R Parr

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Troy works as a sex worker at a licensed brothel, Priapus where one day a client turns out to be his old high school bully, Nick. Things immediately go south but Nick decides to make things right and apologises for mistreating Troy when they were in high school. Nick proposes they start a bromance but things get messy when Troy realises a bromance isn’t all he wants.

With a whole host of characters, Toy is a romance about taking chances and putting yourself out there.

I really liked this story, even though it used the miscommunication trope which I really hate but it made it work. Even though all I really wanted was for Nick and Troy to talk about their feelings the fact they didn’t till the end wasn’t such a stretch of imagination and works very well given the plot.

Troy starts working part-time as a brothel as a way to support his mother while still going to Uni but when Uni gets over and Troy finds himself overqualified and under-experienced for most job opportunities and he decides to take up the work full time. I really liked the way the author handles this accept of Troy’s characterisation. I really liked the level of maturity that this book has while dealing with this topic. Also, I instantly liked Troy.

Troy is a very likeable character and I found myself invested in him very quickly. He is really lovable and fun. He radiates so much positivity that you can’t help but gravitate towards him.

I really loved all the characters at the brothel, Brett, Ari, Qiu, Melissa and Damien and even their various clients with their quirks. All those conversations in the staff room made for a lot of fun moments. Also, it was really good to revel in the level of friendship these characters share.

Nick is a nice guy and mostly I am not miffed about him and Troy getting together but it is pretty obvious from the beginning that Damien also likes Troy and while Damiens’ feelings are handled very respectfully I really wanted Damien to have more of a chance because I was really intrigued with that idea. So, my opinion of Nick is very biased even though I can objectively point out the author works hard and succeeds at making Nick a three-dimensional character while limited to Troy’s Pov.

In the end, this was a real slice-of-life kind of fiction, salty and sweet with all the emotions mixed it. In the end, I was really satisfied with this book and the ending we got.

This book has a bunch of illustrations and photographs that didn’t show up well on a kindle but despite that hindrance, they really added to the story and I liked the personal touch. Also, the author hid a heart in every illustration and it was fun to go back and try to find each one in the end. Overall, I had a great time reading this book.

Cover Art by R. Parr. I like the cover, I think the illustration of Troy on the cover really lends to his character and how he perceives himself.

Sales Link:  Amazon’

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 380 pages
Published April 29th 2019 by R. Parr
ASIN B07RB63CBZ
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Rules to Follow (Davey’s Rules #1) by Susan Hawke

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Davey’s Rule #86: A good Daddy will never lie to his boy… even by omission.

Travis Miller has a pretty solid life in the small California beach town he calls home. He’s working his way up in the district attorney’s office, he owns a home with an ocean view, and he has close ties with his family. Life is good. If only he could find a sweet boy to call his own, life would be… perfect.

Adam Nichols’ life has never been easy. Growing up in foster care taught him to be strong, so finding himself in a violent relationship was a shock. Now that he’s finally free of it, he faces new problems. He’s jobless, homeless, and terrified of starting from scratch.

With a little help from an old friend, Adam discovers a whole new world. He goes from rock bottom to renting a room from a hot assistant DA and working at Daddy’s Lap, a kink club that opens his vanilla eyes to things he’d never imagined. His new roommate is a balm to Adam’s damaged soul. The tender way Travis cares for him is almost like the Daddy kink community he’s seen at the club. But Travis isn’t a Daddy… right? If he were, surely he’d have said so.

What happens when a lie by omission threatens to bring their budding relationship tumbling down around them? Will Travis ever be able to earn Adam’s trust again?

This book took me a bit to get into, I’m not sure why but it did but once Travis and Adam got into their groove I was fully invested.  I’m still not sure why Travis ever went on a date with Davey but it helps connect him with Adam.  Adam hasn’t had the worst luck lately and the support Travis, Davey and the whole crew at Daddy’s Lap give him the push and help he needs.

Travis is a natural Daddy just as much as Adam is a natural submissive but they need to be open to each other about their needs.  Adam is a little extra skittish after his last relationship but everything about Travis feels comfortable and safe.

I really liked both of these characters and getting a dose of Davey, who is a hoot was great too.  Travis is such a caretaker, we can see that he’s doing it for Adam before he even realizes it.  Adam is intrigued by the Daddy/Boy relationships he sees at work and begins to long for that connection, he has had to work so hard just to stay afloat and keep up since he was a kid the idea of letting go is so welcome to him.  This story was adorably sweet with Travis and Adam and I look forward to other books in the series and to see what other Daddy/Boy dynamics the author shows with the MCs.

The cover art by Cate Ashwood is great and I love the visuals of Adam.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 284 pages

Published: July 14, 2019

Edition Language: English

Series: Davey’s Rules #1

Jamie Fessenden on Writing Characters, Research and his new release Small Town Sonata (author guest blog)

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Small Town Sonata by Jamie Fessenden

Dreamspinner Press

Published August 6th 2019
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jamie Fessenden today, on tour with his latest novel, Small Tour Sonata.  Welcome, Jamie.

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Jamie Fessenden:

 

How much of yourself goes into a character? 

A lot. Every major character I write is me in some aspect, flaws and all. Which means my music major and philosophy minor in college often shape their behavior. Minor characters are frequently inspired by friends and family, though I attempt to disguise it.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Perhaps, but the way to avoid that is honesty. The character of Tom in Billy’s Bones was definitely a lot like me in his understanding of psychology and PTSD (both of my parents are psychologists and I’ve worked with clients at my mother’s agency). But he also had my tendency to psychoanalyze friends who don’t appreciate it.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

Yes. I would never make one of the main characters in a romance deliberately hurt animals or children, or slap his partner around. As every therapist and police officer knows, abusers being sorry for what they’ve done and swearing never to do it again doesn’t prevent them from lashing out in the future. I can’t trust a character like that.

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

Most of my novels involve a large amount of research. I enjoy exploring different cultures and locales, and completely immerse myself in them. Small Town Sonata was an easy one, because I was largely writing about my home town and using my experiences in the music world.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Both. I tend to think that HFN will become HEA, but sometimes it isn’t possible to get to HEA in the timeframe of the story.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

Thinking, and yes. I am totally disgusted with characters who refuse to listen to reason, especially if they drag arguments out for days, weeks, or months. Tempers flaring is one thing. Refusing to calm down and listen the next day is childish.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I discovered Phyllis A. Whitney through her YA novels, when I was a teenager, then began reading her adult gothic romances and fell in love with them. From there, I moved on to Mary Stewart and several other romance writers.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

As a teenager, I discovered Phyllis A. Whitney wrote articles for “The Writer” magazine, and our local library had several years’ worth of them in the stacks. I still remember some of her advice, such as when the two main characters meet, there must be an emotional “zing” between them. It can be hostility or intense dislike, but it should never be tepid. As a science fiction reader, I admired Robert A. Heinlein, and loved his clear prose. So I strived to emulate it.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Thanks to failing vision, I rarely read print books these days. eBooks allow me to increase the font size at will, so I prefer them. I’ve been trying to keep tabs on the industry, and from what I’ve seen, eBook sales are still hovering at about 20 percent of the total market. It’s declined a bit, but since those figures often leave out self-published sales, it’s difficult to say what the truth is. And one article claimed 90 percent of romances sold are now eBooks. Personally, I know eBooks are here to stay.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I want striking images, even if they aren’t necessarily “sexy.” If it’s something that would catch my eye, while searching among several other romance covers on Amazon, I’ll generally go with that. The best example is the cover for “Violated,” which is about a man who gets raped and loses everything – his best friend, his partner, his job, his entire sense of who he is. The cover by L.C. Chase is a misty image of sunset on a lake with a man standing in silhouette at the end of the pier. It’s striking and conveys the feeling of isolation perfectly.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I wrote a novel called “By That Sin Fell the Angels” about how a teen suicide impacts a small community. It deals with the vicious way evangelicals often treat members of the LGBTQ community, but I struggled not to make anything cliché or hackneyed. The boy’s father is a pastor and nominally the villain, but he’s a real person struggling with his beliefs, and ultimately the story is about his redemption. That story exhausted me, tapping into my own experiences as a fundamentalist Christian teenager, and I’m very proud of it.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently finishing up a ghost story with co-author F.E. Feeley, Jr. and about a third of the way into a novel (possibly another Dreamspun Desires) that takes place on a farm. It’s located outside the town of Springhaven, which features so prominently in “Small Town Sonata.”

 

Blurb:

Can the trusted town handyman rebuild a broken pianist’s heart?

When a freak accident ends Aiden’s career as a world-renowned classical pianist, he retreats to his New Hampshire hometown, where he finds the boy he liked growing up is even more appealing as a man.

Dean Cooper’s life as handyman to the people of Springhaven might not be glamorous, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever. But Aiden is distraught over the loss of his career and determined to get back on the international stage.

Seventeen years ago Dean made a sacrifice and let Aiden walk away. Now, with their romance rekindling, he knows he’ll have to make the sacrifice all over again. This time it may be more than he can bear.

Author’s Bio:

Jamie Fessenden is an author of gay fiction in many genres. Most involve romance, because he believes everyone deserves to find love, but after that anything goes: contemporary, science fiction, historical, paranormal, mystery, or whatever else strikes his fancy.

He set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie wrote several novels and published his first novella in 2010. That same year, Jamie and Erich married and purchased a house together in the wilds of New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them under the stars.

Blog: https://jamiefessenden.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/349365308959423/

Don’t Miss out on the Audio Tour and Giveaway for Will & Patrick Wake Up Married (Episodes 4-6) by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths/John Solo (Narrator)

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Narrated by: John Solo
 
Length: 15hrs 45mins
 
Wake Up Married Series


Episodes 1 – 3 – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 
Blurb
 

Continue the fun in episodes 4-6 of the soapy serial by best-selling author Leta Blake and newcomer Alice Griffiths!


Episode Four: Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings


Will and Patrick have embraced adding hot sexy times to their fake marriage, but as their emotions deepen, they confront whether or not they want to be more than friends-with-benefits. The heat is high (and occasionally kinky) as Will and Patrick struggle to accept their mutual affection.


Episode Five: Will & Patrick Meet the Mob


Patrick has finally accepted that he’s in love with Will, but his newfound determination to do something about that runs up against his father-in-law’s mobster plans. Will must face the truth about his family before he can fully come to terms with his feelings for Patrick. And Patrick has to decide if this whackadoodle world is something he truly wants to be part of forever.


Episode Six: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending


Sure, Will, and Patrick are in love now, but they weren’t when they got married in Vegas. For Patrick, that’s no problem, but Will can’t shake his doubts that a relationship started through coercion can ever become the real deal. Since the Molinaro crime family has reversed their position on divorce, Will and Patrick have a chance to rectify their drunken mistake. But is divorce the right choice for them?

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

 



Alice Griffiths – Facebook | Goodreads

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