A Stella Review: All at Sea by J.L. Merrow

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

Eighteen-year-old Londoner Josh feels all at sea, holidaying with his family on the Isle of Wight. He’d rather be living it up in Ibiza, dancing until all hours, and maybe finding out what it’s like to be with another man. What chance does he have of getting lucky with his newly-single mum and little sisters in tow?

Cambridge student Rupe is making the most of his summer job at the boating lake, charming customers with his good looks and theatrical manner. Life looks even sunnier when he meets the cute, inexperienced Josh and asks him out for a date on a boat. But there are dark clouds in Rupe’s life, and even love on an island isn’t always plain sailing.

All at Sea was a super short story, just 26 pages. As everything JL Merrow does, it’s well written and engaging. Being so short, we just got a glimpse of how the main characters met, still we learned quite a lot about them, their families, their dreams, their hobbies. Plus at the end there were just a couple of pages to let us know if Rupe and Josh got their hea or not.
Each time JL surprises me and leaves me truly satisfied, I can’t get enough of this author and her English that at first was incomprehensible to me. Who would have guessed she would have become my fave.

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is simple but fitting, I like it

SALE LINKS  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 26 pages

Published September 28th 2019 by JMS Books LLC

ASIN B07W6LCXD2

Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Nuts (Ace’s Wild #2) by S.E. Jakes

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

This series takes place in the same town, though each book is by a different author. Jagger and Preston meet on the first day of junior year after Preston gets punished for flunking out of several private schools and sent to a rough Boston public school. Although Jagger is from a family that skirts the law, Preston sees more kindness in them than his own blue-blood family. After being disowned Preston feels his only way to make something of himself is to go into the service. On his last leave a year ago he kissed Jagger…and then ghosted him. Now that Preston is out of the service, they will have to deal with what is simmering beneath their friendship.

Jagger is bi, but Preston clings to the idea he’s straight: allowing a gay for you/bi for you/out for you trope. There is also a M/F scene in this book. This is has many firsts for Preston: first time with BDSM, first time with a man, etc. There is very slight dubcon in that Preston doesn’t want to admit what he wants–he wants to be tricked or forced into it, which he is when Jagger wins him in a card game. Of course, that is Jagger’s friends setting them up, and Preston finding a way to act out to get what he wants. I found this was one of those books where I just got so frustrated because no one is honest and they don’t communicate until the very end, but Preston finds a way to act out and finally get what he wants. I do find that the Green Beret manly-man realizing it doesn’t make him weak to be submissive, is getting to be an over-used trope lately.

The big mystery here is Preston’s family, but ultimately it’s about control…and, as the reader finds out later, something more. There are secrets and lies that bind Jagger and Preston closer than Preston knows. Jagger has always had his eye on the prize, an endgame. The villians here are supposed to be the good guys. In a way this does glorify a family with mob ties whilst trying to have it have its cake and eat it too, as Jagger tries to go legitimate. This one sentence is a spoiler: everyone is being investigated by various alphabet agencies, yet no one knows about Preston co-owning everything?! Is that even possible?

This has all the feels, but it’s slow to start, quick to resolve and then over the top after a quick 180. It’s enjoyable, hot, even romantic in its own way (ride or die), but it could have been even better if it had been longer, in order to allow more time for the story arc. Also, it tries to straddle that bad boy line whilst still trying to make Jaggar noble – to mixed success.

The cover art design is by Sleepy Fox Studio. It does pertain to the story, but it just shows Jagger, so for me it doesn’t show a partnership.

Buy Link:  Amazonhttp://bit.ly/NutsSEJakes

Book Details;

Kindle Edition, 118 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Stephanie Tyler LLC
ASINB07YF8ZVVF
Edition Language English
Series Ace’s Wild #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Nova Praetorian by NR Walker and Joel Leslie (narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

NR Walker and Joel Leslie have become my favorite duo as they bring us the kind of superb entertainment I once saw on the big screen in my younger years—Lawrence of Arabia comes to mind. This story is a sweeping saga worthy of the big screen but more readily portable as all one needs is a phone app to get lost in the glory days of Rome.

One of the best lanistas—gladiator trainers—in Rome, Quintus Furius Varus is “tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit.” Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, so he comes to Quintus with an offer he literally cannot refuse, and Quintus ends up in Neapolis, contracted not only as a trainer of guards, but head of those assigned to protect Servius. He’s told the contract period is limited, so once the threat is removed, Quintus can go home to his gladiators and resume his peaceful existence.

Kaeso Agorix was abducted from Iberia and brought to Rome as a slave. Purchased by Servius, he’s handed over to Quintus to train. Their attraction is immediate and intense, and he’s given to Quintus as a personal slave for as long as Quintus is in Servius’s employ. When Quintus discovers Servius’s treachery and plot to gain power, not only is Quintus’s life in danger, but also the lives of Kaeso and the other gladiators. What follows is a complex plot of assassination and treachery and involves not only Quintus and his gladiators, but also Servius and his slaves, and the emperor and his royal guard, the praetorian.

This story is very long and very, very complex with characters who have Ancient Roman names, so it takes time to get to know each one, and it takes a while to understand the politics and the atmosphere of the times. That all being said—it is time well-spent. A grand saga, created by the fertile imagination of NR Walker and brought to life by the brilliant and highly talented Joel Leslie, the character development is outstanding in this large cast of mighty Roman warriors and deceitful Roman politicians. Joel is most definitely a man of a thousand voices in this one. How he managed to pronounce each name, give the character a different voice, and keep up with the pace of the story is beyond me. He and the author made this interesting and exciting and the last chapters fly by quickly. The outcome is surprising and very satisfying. I very highly recommend this to all lovers of a grand adventure, MM romance, and of course, history buffs.

The cover features a Roman guard, holding sword and shield, on the battlefield with the sun coming up behind him. Beautifully done, it’s symbolic of the new guard—the nova praetorian.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Details:

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 12 hours and 24 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Love Lane Books Ltd.
Audible.com Release Date: August 27, 2019
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English
ASIN: B07WS2T7F1

Love That Hint of the Magical in your Stories? Check Out the New Release Blitz for He Dreams Magic by Emme C. Taylor (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: He Dreams Magic

Author: Emme C. Taylor

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 28, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 88100

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, alternate universe, literature, horror, captivity, magic, magic users, action/adventure, monsters, slow burn

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Synopsis

Ren has always wanted to leave, to escape his quiet village life. He wakes up from gold-tinged dreams with his heart pounding and a yearning for something he can’t name, can’t hold. He longs to experience something magical just once in his life.

Nico’s monsters don’t lurk under the bed. They walk in daylight. They haunt him every day of his life. He’s possibly the strongest magician of his time, yet he’s trapped. All he wants is an out.

At a magical carnival in the middle of a forest, Ren and Nico collide. They’ve been on this collision course their entire lives, always hurtling toward each other. For both men, escape is now. They have no choice but to flee together. Monsters and betrayal hunt them across strange lands. They find themselves on a journey to save each other—and possibly the world. All they have is one another, Nico’s magic, and a lifetime of half-remembered dreams. But finding each other, finally having someone to rely on, might be the strongest magic of all.

Excerpt

He Dreams Magic
Emme C. Taylor © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Ren

The lake was on fire. Ren dipped his oars into the water and swept himself closer to the blaze, each stroke an exultation. He’d been waiting months for this, counting down the hot summer weeks to autumn and rain and flames.

He was ready to throw himself into the burn.

The fire came on time, as it did every year. The first rainstorm of autumn brought them down from the sky. Or so the story was told. Ren couldn’t quite bring himself to believe they rode through the skies on storm clouds and dropped to the ground between thunderclaps, stealing their impossible power from the lightning.

Then again, they were magicians. Anything was possible.

Ren’s village, Klein, lay huddled in the dark at his back. On the opposite shore, half the forest flickered red. The low clouds caught and held the glowing light from below. The spectacle could be seen from every village in the surrounding valley, a beacon: come, step into the heat, play with us, burn with us.

For the first time in his life, he was going to see it up close. From the quiet safety of Klein, the spectacle always gave the impression of a town set aflame. So near to it, it wasn’t like that at all. More like the whole world had ignited. His fingers around the wood paddles twitched with anticipation. This was it. Finally. Finally.

By the time Ren reached the middle of the lake, half of it alight, a bright crimson flared across the surface and leaped like waves in wind. Reflections set the rest of the lake ablaze so that it seemed to Ren he was sitting in the very middle of the conflagration. So far, he had avoided the areas of the lake that had caught flame.

Magic. God, yes. He could practically taste it in the air, and he wanted more of it. He’d dreamed of magic for years, a gold thread of it always in his mind’s eye. Since childhood, magic remained a ball of yearning lodged in his chest. Ren had to see it for himself. Touch it. Experience it. He wanted to drink it, have it sear his throat.

For years, he’d heard whispers of this from people in nearby villages, those who had gotten close to it over the years.

Those who’d walked through it—and come out on the other side.

Ren paused in the middle of the lake to take it all in. He would be seeing fire in his dreams that night.

His turn had come to walk into this wild world.

He dug his oars into the lake, his reflection rippling away from the boat with each stroke. Ren pushed himself closer to the ruby burn, a moth drawn to the dangerous lure of light.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Emme C. Taylor can be found wandering stormy beaches with a pen and notebook in hand, waiting for inspiration or lightning to strike. She believes the atmospheric environment helps her to write the grittiest parts of her stories. Crochet and dark chocolate ease her mind when her characters aren’t cooperating. Emme will happily talk about almost anything to avoid having to talk about herself. How about this weather, huh?

Twitter | Instagram

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Love a Touch of Fantasy in Your Romance? Check Out the Tour for The Dragon CEO’s Assistant (Golden Kingdom #2) by Jenn Burke (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Dragon CEO’s Assistant by Jenn Burke

Series: Golden Kingdom #2

Release Date: October 29, 2019

Subgenre: LGBTQ+ Paranormal Romance

Order here:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X3T8JYJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-dragon-ceo-s-assistant

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dragon-ceos-assistant-jenn-burke/1132374115?ean=9781644055175

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-dragon-ceos-assistant/id1471192566

Synopsis for The Dragon CEO’s Assistant:

The heart remembers.

When Aidan Bishop staggers out of the woods, naked and suffering from amnesia, he needs to relearn who he is and where he fits in the world.

His boss, nearly five-hundred-year-old dragon Nassim, head of a successful tech company, hurries to claim his wayward assistant and guide him back into the life he disappeared from. As they get to know each other again, Aidan wonders if their relationship went deeper than employer and employee. But Nassim isn’t telling, and Aidan has a secret of his own… even if he doesn’t know it yet.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48057624-the-dragon-ceo-s-assistant

Release Blitz Teasers:

#1:
“You have PTSD.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Why, because it’s been three hundred years?”

“Yes, that, and I’m—”

“Don’t say dragon.”

Nassim huffed and snapped his teeth shut. Aidan tried not to flinch at the noise.

“Seriously, though. It makes perfect sense. That kind of shit changes you.” Aidan couldn’t remember a specific example of how posttraumatic stress disorder affected someone, but he felt the rightness of that truth, as nebulous and intangible as it might be at the moment. “I bet there are mythos therapists who can—”

“No.”

“Do not pull the ‘I’m dragon, I’m too cool to be helped’ thing.”

“It’s not that important. I don’t need to seek out professional help.”

“Huh.” Aidan rubbed a finger over his chin. “What do you think Jasper would say if I asked him about this?”

Okay, that rumble was more a growl than a happy noise. Nassim whipped his head up. “I told you this in confidence.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Aidan—”

“There was no mention of confidentiality in our conversation.”

“Aidan!”

“Hmm. You might be right, Nassim. I don’t think I’m very objective at all.”

“But foolhardy,” Nassim breathed, his words more felt than heard. “Very, very foolhardy.”

“No.” Aidan stood and leaned forward to look Nassim in one of his big, fiery eyes. “Just unwilling to let you suffer in silence anymore.”

Nassim blinked, and the fire embedded in his eyes dimmed. After a moment his head sank back to the ground. “I will consider it.”

Excerpt :

“You’re in deep shit, Nassim.”

With a soft chuckle, Aidan sat back down at his desk and told himself he shouldn’t listen to the conversation happening between the brothers, but the door was open and the office was really quiet…

“I told Inas I wasn’t coming tonight,” Nassim rumbled.

“And you thought she’d be okay with that, why?”

“Faz, I can’t.”

“I get it,” Fazl said, his voice low. “But your family obligations don’t disappear just because—”

“She understands.”

“Our sister has a huge heart. Of course she understands. That doesn’t mean she isn’t disappointed you won’t be there for her eard al’usra.”

“I’m not comfortable leaving him alone.”

Aidan frowned at the image of Mace Windu on his desk calendar, not really seeing it. Had Nassim picked up on how he needed someone nearby all the time?

They rarely saw each other after dinner most nights—Nassim went upstairs to his office to do whatever, and Aidan amused himself with his laptop or books—but he was always aware that Nassim was only a dozen or so steps away. Aidan knew he’d have to get over this fear eventually.

Maybe—maybe he should make an effort tonight.

“So bring him along.”

Aidan’s eyes widened.

“Fazl.” Nassim’s voice was intense and full of warning. “No. He’s not ready to—”

“Merry gods. It’s a family party, Nassim. Not—”

“Don’t take that tone with me. You know we’re overwhelming on the best of days, and he’s not… he’s not ready.”

“He’s not? Or you’re not?”

Why would that even be a question? Why would Nassim not be ready for Aidan to meet his family? Maybe he didn’t want to blur the lines between his personal and professional lives any more than they already were. The situation was weird. How many employees lived with their CEO boss temporarily because they had nowhere else to go? But the wording Fazl used… that was even weirder.

Two things were clear, though—Nassim had to attend this family event, and he didn’t want Aidan there. So time to suck it up and be a big boy.

Biting his lower lip, he stepped up to the open door and rapped softly on the frame. “I don’t mind being alone. You can drop me off and go.”

Nassim’s gaze shuttered. “No.”

“It sounds like this is an important family thing. I’m not going to do anything but stay in the apartment and—”

“No.”

Fazl reached across the desk and smacked Nassim on the back of the head. “Enough.”

“Asshole. Just because you’re older, you—”

“Wait,” Aidan said. “He’s older?”

“By about fifteen years,” Fazl confirmed happily.

“But… you’re…”

“Younger-looking?” Fazl flicked the silver at Nassim’s temples, and Nassim arched back, away from his fingers. “Poor baby bro went gray early.”

“Because I’ve had to deal with you all my life.”

Fazl laughed.

A smile flickered across Nassim’s lips and then disappeared as he regarded Aidan. “I don’t want to leave you alone.”

“Moron,” Fazl said under his breath. Then, louder, “Aidan, since my brother is being a stubborn ass, I have a question for you.”

Nassim’s eyes flashed. “Faz—”

“Would you come to our family event tonight?”

“Uh….” Aidan’s gaze traveled between the brothers. “If I wouldn’t be intruding, I—”

“You would be more than welcome,” Fazl assured him. He turned to Nassim. “There. See? Easy.”

Nassim ignored him and moved around the desk to come closer to Aidan. “We don’t have to go. Seriously.”

“Is there a reason I shouldn’t go? Will it be a problem for a human to be present?”

Nassim pressed his lips together. “No.”

“Then I—” He glanced between Fazl’s wide, welcoming grin and Nassim’s gentle frown and solidified his decision. “I’d love to go.”

“Excellent,” Fazl said with a clap of his hands.

“Do you need a ride?” Nassim asked grudgingly as his brother slipped through the doorway past Aidan.

“You and your cars. No, I’m good.”

Rolling his eyes, Nassim said, “For the gods’ sakes, don’t scare the humans.”

“No promises.” Fazl waggled his brows as he headed out the door.

Aidan watched him leave, his brain working overtime. “Is he—”

“Going to transform and fly? Over a heavily populated area with humans who aren’t used to seeing dragons in the sky? Yes. Yes, he is.” Nassim sighed. “We’d best get going if we’re to get there on time.”

“There meaning…?”

“My family’s estate and caves. It’s a couple of hours to the west.”

“Caves?” Aidan murmured. But Nassim was already busy packing his laptop into his messenger bag, leaving Aidan to contemplate what the hell he just agreed to.

Author Bio:

Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.

Jenn is the author of a number of paranormal and science fiction romance titles, including the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (authored with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press.

She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.

Author links:

Website: http://www.jennburke.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeralibu

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jeralibu/

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/295814398039168/ (Jenn Burke’s Epic Adventurers)

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeralibu/

Newsletter sign-up: http://bit.ly/jennburkenewsletter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9869819.Jenn_Burke

 

 

Giveaway:

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Don’t Miss Out on the Blog Tour for Nuts (Ace’s Wild #2) by SE Jakes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Nuts Tour Banner

Nuts

Ace’s Wild Series

SE Jakes

M/M Romance

Release Date: 10.01.19

NUTS ebook high-res

Blurb

Jagger’s the son of a bookmaker and fixer. Now, he’s the owner of an exclusive, underground club…and he’s also been put in charge of the family business.

Preston’s the son of a wealthy, powerful, blue-blood Boston family…or he was, until he was disowned for choosing his friendship with Jagger over his family. Ten years later, he’s a Special Forces Operator—and he’s still best friends with Jagger.

But things are about to change, for both men. Because after a long year of no contact, Preston’s coming home to Jagger for the first time since they shared a surprising kiss.

One night, one poker game, and one hand finds Jagger lucky—and skilled enough—to win a chance to fix things with Preston. But what’s at stake is far more than their friendship—it’s everything…and both men are all in to fight for what’s theirs.

***

For the first 90 days of this title’s publication, all sales and page reads will be donated to The LOFT: LGBT Center (http://www.loftgaycenter.org/the_loft_history)

Ace’s Wild is a multi-author series of books that take place in the same fictional town. Each story can be read in any order. The connecting element in the Ace’s Wild series is an adult store owned by Ace and Wilder. The main characters from each book will make at least one visit to Ace’s Wild, where they’ll buy a toy to use in their story! The only characters who cross over to each book are Ace and Wilder. And with various heat and kink levels, there’s sure to be something for everyone!

Buy Link: http://bit.ly/NutsSEJakes

Nuts Graphic 1

Nuts Graphic 1

Excerpt

Finally, Preston crumpled the wrapper from his burger and said, “An FBI agent came to my hotel tonight.”

Jagger’s jaw tightened, but he refused to look at Preston. “That didn’t take long. Sorry.”

“I wasn’t sleeping before that happened anyway.” Preston tried to make light of it. But Jagger’s family business always hung between them, an invisible barrier. A shield. Something Jagger needed to protect Preston from.

“You could’ve used the time to catch up on all the correspondence you missed.”

“I keep up just fine.”

“Not with me.”

“I read and listened to all your messages,” Preston corrected, trying to ignore Jagger’s accusing tone.

“You just didn’t acknowledge or answer them.”

Because I didn’t know how to say what I needed. But instead of telling Jagger that, he shot back, “You said you weren’t coming alone.”

“You told me not to. I didn’t answer. And I see you’re still good at changing the subject.”

“You’re determined to start a fight. I figured I’d choose the topic.”

When Jagger murmured, “Asshole,” Preston finally felt like they were back on even ground.

“You need to know that, no matter what, I’ll do time before I let him—or any of them—touch you or your family,” Preston growled.

“I’d walk into the station and surrender myself before I let that happen. They’ve got nothing.”

“I know it’s all bullshit. I can deal with it.”

“You shouldn’t have to.” Jagger’s hand went to his shoulder. “Did he touch you?”

“No,” Preston said quickly, swore his cheekbone throbbed.

As if reading his mind, Jagger ran a fingertip along the barely there—and forever reminder of their bond—scar. “That’s the day I knew.”

“Knew what?”

“That we were ride or die.”

SE Jakes Logo

SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

Facebook page: Facebook.com/SEJakes

Twitter: Twitter.com/authorsejakes

Goodreads Group: Ask SE Jakes

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Instagram: instagram.com/authorsejakes

Newsletter: www.SEJakes.com/Newsletter

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