A Free Dreamer Review: Wren and Oak (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #9) by Sam Burns

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Rowan Harbor has been peaceful for a now unprecedented two months, but everyone knows it’s the calm before the storm. The Summer king is coming for the thorn—a weapon destined to bring his end—and Fletcher has never felt so helpless.

When the disturbing dreams start and his mentor, Oak, is hesitant to discuss them, Fletcher doesn’t know where to turn. He and his boyfriend Conner are in the process of moving in together, and he doesn’t want to add anything else to Conner’s list of concerns.

With a vengeful fae waiting for his chance to raze Rowan Harbor to the ground, Fletcher has to find a way to protect everything he loves and survive the coming storm.

This is it. The final part has arrived. And I can’t believe I actually managed to finish a series with 9 whole books. Okay, 9 short books, but still. And to think I almost didn’t continue reading after the first part…

So we’ve all eagerly anticipated “Wren and Oak”. It didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure.

Fletcher and Conner are my second most favourite couple and I love reading about Oak.  So the scenes with Fletcher and Oak together were a big plus for me. Oak makes a great teacher and it was really interesting to learn more about Fletcher’s abilities. I just wish he’d done a little shapeshifting.

The strange dreams bring an undercurrent of suspense to the whole story, which not a lot of the previous parts had. And the sex was hot, of course.

There were some things that I didn’t like as much, though. One of them was the lack of communication between Fletcher and Conner, which led to a bit of relationship drama, which could have been avoided. I’m not a fan of that particular trope.

Some parts of the story were a little over dramatic for my likes. I’m not going to go into details, because that would be a spoiler, but that final showdown was a bit much.

At the same time, the book also felt too short as a whole. Maybe I’m a little biased because it does make me kinda sad that this is the end, but it feels like there was more to tell.

Overall, it was a worthy end of a good series. If you’re reading this review to figure out whether the series is worth reading, I can only say it definitely is. It does have its ups and downs, but on the whole, it’s a pretty great read.

Cover Design: Melanie Farlow @ Clause & Effect The cover, while accurately depicting a part of the plot, looks a bit too gloomy and dramatic for me. But it fits with the other covers and it’s not your run-of-the-mill m/m romance cover, so it’s alright.

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

Book details: Kindle Edition, 145 pages

Published December 26th 2019

Length: 45,000 words 
 

The Rowan Harbor Cycle Series


Book #1 – Blackbird in the Reeds – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Wolf and the Holly – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Fox and Birch – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Hawk In The Rowan – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Stag and the Ashe – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Adder and Willow – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6.5 – In Any Light – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Eagle In The Hawthorn – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #8 – Salmon and the Hazel – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 – Wren and  Oak series finale

An Alisa Review: Rules to Obey (Davey’s Rules #5) by Susan Hawke

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Davey’s Rule #83: Daddy will encourage his boy to be the best he can be and be supportive of his boy’s career choices.

 

Marcus Alves has waited most of his adult life to find the perfect match. A sweetheart who will love cuddles, need a Daddy to help him thrive, and most importantly… be the type of boy that might want to use the binky that Marcus keeps hidden in his pocket. Now in his forties, he’s refusing to give up on his dream—or the unused playroom that’s waiting for someone to enjoy.

Jeff Robustelli has had a rough life. Growing up in a commune with absent parents was hard for a rule-following straitlaced guy with a genius IQ. When the uncle who saved him died, Jeff did what he does best—buried his head in the sand and pretended life wasn’t changing. Working in a Daddy club has shown him what he really wants, but Jeff is too afraid to take a chance on something new.

When Jeff has a sudden need for a fake fiancé, he strikes a deal with the older man who always seems to be there when his world is crumbling and makes him feel safe. In exchange, he agrees to a fake Daddy/boy experiment designed to let him try out being little without any pressure.

While Marcus and Jeff navigate their “deal” and the unexpected new feelings that begin to emerge, Marcus also must help the younger man through a series of life changes that put him on the road to being the adult he’s been too afraid to be. When everything in Jeff’s life is in turmoil, Marcus is his one stability. But can Jeff trust his own heart when nothing else in his life is making sense anymore?

This is the fifth book in a series about not-so-perfect Daddies, adorable “boys,” and one sassy brat with an insane list of rules. Grab your fan and tissues because this series comes with both a high heat advisory and all the squishy feels you’d want from a Susan Hawke book.

I love how they started out fake basically because Jeff was scared, though neither of them ever acted like it was fake.  I loved the care and patience that Marcus showed Jeff and let him build up his confidence and their relationship without pushing.  Funny enough it was always Jeff pushing for them to jump ahead so he could get his family out of his father’s manipulating hands.

I felt for Jeff, we learned a little bit about him in previous books but in this one we got to see how horrible his birth family really was and how lucky he was to be rescued by Raphael and Sammy.  The fun continues with Davey’s antics and it seems that he has drug Sammy along for the ride but I was so happy to see him moving on with his life.  I can’t wait for Davey’s book to come next and to see what twists and turns it throws into his life.

The cover art by Cate Ashwood is great and I love getting to see Marcus.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 223 pages

Published: December 12, 2019

Edition Language: English

Series: Davey’s Rules #5

Check Out the New Release Blitz for Unraveling by Rick R. Reed (excerpt and giveaway)

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Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 13, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 68300

Genre: Contemporary LGBT, deep closet, coming out, men with children, virgin, #ownvoices, humorous, EMT

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Synopsis

Randy Kay has the perfect life with his beautiful wife and adorable son. But Randy’s living a lie, untrue to himself and everyone who knows him. He’s gay.

Marriage and fatherhood, which he thought could change him, have failed. He doubts if anyone can love him for who he really is—especially himself.

With his wife’s blessing, he sets out to explore the gay world he’s hidden from all his life.

John Walsh, a paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department, is comfortable in his own skin as a gay man, yet he can never find someone who shares his desire to create a real relationship, a true family.

When Randy and John first spy each other in Chicago’s Boystown, all kinds of alarms go off—some of joy, others of deep-seated fear.

Randy and John must surmount multiple hurdles on the journey to a lasting, meaningful love. Will they succeed or will their chance at love go up in flames, destroyed by missed connections and a lack of self-acceptance?

Excerpt

Unraveling
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
RANDY

I have my death all planned out.

Unlike the thirty-two years that have gone before, I want my passing to be peaceful and free of the discord and pain I’ve lived with for as long as I can remember. I want it to be easy. Effortless. Guilt-free.

Whether it’s any of those things remains to be seen.

I’ve rented this hotel room at a small boutique hotel off Michigan Avenue. The Crewe House has been standing on this same ground on Oak Street for at least a hundred years. The rooms are small, fussy, and charming, with flocked wallpaper, four-poster beds, and claw-foot tubs and pedestal sinks in their black-and-white bathrooms. It’s charming, and I deserve something nice to gaze at before I close my eyes for good.

I have some sandalwood-scented candles lit, and the fragrance is warm, enveloping. Their soft flicker is the only illumination. Outside, the winter sky darkens early. Dusk’s cobalt blue makes silhouettes of the water towers, train tracks, and buildings to the west of the hotel. Near the horizon the sky is a shade of lavender that mesmerizes me, makes me think of changing my mind. If a sky like this can exist, with its electric bands of color, maybe the world isn’t such a horrible place.

Maybe I can go on.

No.

What else have I done to ease my passage into whatever comes next? I have a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, my favorite champagne, uncorked and resting in a silver ice bucket, filled with melting ice. A flute stands next to it, waiting.

I’ll wash the sleeping pills down with the bubbly.

Before getting into bed, I’ll turn on the cassette I have in my boombox, Abbey Road. I have it queued up to “Golden Slumbers.”

I’ve been carrying this weight for such a long time.

I long for smiles.

At last, I’ll undress and stretch out on the four-poster. I’ll pull the eiderdown duvet loosely over me and close my eyes.

The plan is I will slowly slip under, my brain becoming a soft velvety fog, and I’ll simply fall into the arms of a comforting—and obliterating—slumber.

I will not dream.

It won’t take long.

And I’ll leave a beautiful corpse.

That’s the plan, anyway. Some of my research into this method of offing myself runs counter to this gentle fantasy, but I don’t want to consider the downside of overdosing on strong barbiturates.

I want to go to sleep.

I want to forget the impossibility of being able to become the man I know I should be.

Husband.

Father.

I blink back tears as I sit on the bed, staring out at the deepening twilight. They don’t deserve this: what you’re going to leave them with. I know the voice inside, the one that’s always made me do the right thing, at the expense of my very being, is right. And even though they don’t deserve it, you know they will hurt, of course they will, but in the end, they’ll be better off.

Who wants a husband and father who can’t seem to make himself straight, despite trying therapy, the Catholic Church, the Buddhist faith, self-help groups, and self-help books. A group of pathetic married men meeting once a month and thinking they can change. Nothing works. If I could change, I would.

And since I can’t change, I’m left with three options:

Accept myself as I am. How can I do that? I’d be a failure as a husband, a father, a son, a brother. I’d go on wearing this suffocating mask. I’d continue to live a life that’s essentially a lie.

Everyone who loves me doesn’t even know me.

They love a façade, a projection, a mirage made of wishes, impossible hopes, and self-hatred.

No, acceptance is not an option. It never was.

Second, I could resist. I could knuckle down and brace myself against the attractions I feel, the dreams that pop up in my sleep despite my desperately not wanting them there. I could hold myself back from falling prey to the temptations I feel on the streets, the subway, the locker rooms—everywhere I encounter a beautiful man.

The reason I find myself here is because I can’t resist. Not anymore.

And the third option is simply the one I have to choose—remove myself from the pain. Remove myself from existing as this broken thing that God nor man can fix.

Yes, Violet and Henry both will find a way to move on, and they’ll be happier, more anchored in life without me.

Who needs a gay dad? Or a husband who, deep down, doesn’t want what his wife has to offer? Or worse, a dad who contracts the death sentence of AIDS?

Enough of the grim thoughts. They were not part of my plan. Tonight, I go out peacefully. I’ll shut my eyes and remember things like my joy six years ago when Henry was born and seeing him take his first breath. I shouted, “We got a boy!” and fell into the deepest, most effortless love I’ve ever felt. I’ll remember proposing to Violet when we were both college sophomores and the thrill when she accepted the cheap diamond-chips ring I gave her. Things will be okay now, I remember thinking. I can change.

I really believed that. And I know I love Violet as best I can.

It’s sad when your best simply isn’t good enough.

I reach over for the bottle of sleeping pills on the nightstand. There are thirty of them, and I intend to take them all, two or three at a time. If it takes the whole bottle of champagne to get them down, well, things could be worse. No?

I tip the bottle and look at the tablets against the dark wood, so innocent, yet so lethal.

I’m just reaching for one when there’s a sudden knock on the door. Loud. Forceful. Urgent.

“Randy? Randy? Open up, please.”

The door knob turns as Violet’s voice penetrates the heavy wood of the door, making her sound muffled.

I close my eyes. I could ignore her, hope she goes away.

How did she find out where I was anyway?

She wasn’t supposed to know until she got the letter, the one neatly folded and an arm’s length away on the nightstand.

Pounding. “Please!” Violet calls.

I gather the pills, shoving them back in the bottle, then hide the container in a nightstand drawer.

How will I explain?

I get up, cross the room, and open the door.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.

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Join us for the Release Blitz with Excerpt for His Fake Prison Daddy by Thursday Euclid and Clancy Nacht

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: His Fake Prison Daddy

Author: Thursday Euclid and Clancy Nacht

Publisher: Eine Kleine Press

Cover Artist: Clancy Nacht

Release Date: January 15, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forced Intimacy/prison

Themes:  Opposites attract

Heat Rating: 4 flames   

Length:  62 000 words/ 249 pages

It is a standalone story.

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Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

Beauty and the Beast, but with more daddy issues and violence.

Blurb

When eighteen-year-old hacker Elias Stuyvesant ends up in a maximum security state prison, he’s woefully unprepared despite his time in juvie. On day one, he’s thrown in with a man known as the Santa Fe Slayer, Ambrose Hughes.

Hughes is quiet, disfigured, and weirdly urbane. Elias was so young when Hughes committed his crimes that he has only the faintest idea what Hughes is in for. However, Hughes makes clear that Elias is his ideal victim type…and there’s no one to protect Elias from the much larger man with his prison-jacked body and that hard gleam in his dark eyes.

Whoever paired them has it in for Elias; that much is obvious.

Elias is terrified of Hughes, but he soon realizes the other prisoners are worse. If Elias is going to survive, he’ll have to choose the lesser of the evils: To preserve himself, he’ll need Hughes for his Daddy. And given Hughes’s skewed morality, they’ll have to fake it till they make it.

 

 

Excerpt 

Then the guard exhaled and stopped outside a heavily reinforced door set in a wall of solid concrete. It looked nothing like the cell blocks they’d passed earlier, with their steel bars or Plexiglas, open to the guards’ gazes and Elias’s curiosity.

“This is…” Elias searched the guard’s face for clues, unable to finish articulating his question.

“Yeah, this is it. You’re in with—” The guard licked his lips with what looked like legit nervousness. “Ambrose Hughes.”

Elias blinked at him, not grasping the gravity invested in that name. Who the hell was that?

The guard looked at Elias with visible pity. “The Santa Fe Slayer.”

Shit.

No.

Shit shit shit.

The Santa Fe Slayer was fucking crazy. Not that Elias knew precisely what Hughes had done beyond killing people, but if he’d been active in most other states, he’d be on Death Row. But motherfucking New Mexico abolished the death penalty, so Hughes was just waiting to die in prison, no hope of parole.

Which meant, Elias quickly grasped, that he really had nothing motivating him to behave. What was one more murder to him?

He was already serving like twelve consecutive life sentences. Was he one of those who ate people?

Elias didn’t have time to collect his wits or steel his bladder before the guard knocked politely at the door and then unlocked it, pushing it open to reveal a windowless room thick with shadow. It was somehow even smaller than Elias had expected, with nothing to look at but a sink, a toilet, a little shelf built into the wall currently stocked with what looked like battered novels, and a bunk against the far wall, its bottom bed stripped bare, waiting for the bedding Elias carried. It took him a moment to realize the big shadow up by the ceiling was his cellmate.

Hughes stretched languidly and started to slide off the top bunk with the predatory air of a panther. “Garcia, sweet man, who have you brought to visit me?”

“New cellmate.” The guard—Garcia?—stepped back through the door and quickly removed Elias’s cuffs before shoving him forward toward the Santa Fe Slayer’s approach.

Elias looked desperately back at the guard as the thick steel door clicked shut. It beeped as it locked. A small, barred hole at eye level revealed that Garcia had already turned away.

“Hughes,” the man said, his voice pleasantly deep and drawling but edged with something unpredictable. Excitable. “Welcome to Hell.”

Elias clutched the bedding to his chest as if it might ward off attack, or maybe just because he needed to hold something.

This was why Edward Snowden ran. The government clearly sent Elias here to be murderated. Well, if he was lucky, he’d be murdered before this dude started to eat him.

Though he wasn’t even conscious of moving backwards, his heels hit the closed door behind him, leaving him nowhere to run.

In some ways, it reminded Elias of his first day in juvie, when he’d been so terrified, but at least then he was of comparable size and flexible enough sexuality to avoid becoming a target.

Taking a deep breath, Elias tried to collect himself, put on a brave face, and lifted his chin proudly. “Do you prefer being called Hughes? I mean, if it was me, I’d want to be called Slayer. Or Hannibal or something. Not that you probably need a badass nickname, I guess.”

Rambling. Fuck.

Awkward since the man just kept watching him, Elias gathered his bedding in his left arm and offered his hand to shake. “I’m Elias or Stuyvesant, or, you know… whatever.”

Hughes stared at him, dark eyes glinting dangerously in the low light. Something was wrong with his face, though it was hard to tell with how dim it was, but the texture was wrong, too reflective, scarred. He cocked his head to the side and said, “Maybe I’ll call you Bitch. Do you answer to that?”

He didn’t take Elias’s hand. He just stood there, looming, radiating amused malice.

“Um, well, I guess I could, but… um…” Great. So they were already going there. He was being fed to this Freddy Krueger motherfucker and there wasn’t a lot he could do about it. “I mean, this is prison. Won’t there already be a lot of people responding to that name? Wouldn’t want to step on any toes or cause confusion.”

What am I saying?

On the bright side, if he pissed this guy off, he might die quick.

In the silence, Elias was aware of Hughes’s shoulders shaking as his breathing turned choppy. Then, with mingled relief and horror, he realized Hughes was laughing at him.

With him?

At him.

“Stuyvesant then. No one else will carry that moniker surely.”

 

About the Authors 

Thursday Euclid

Thursday Euclid (he/him) is the m/m romance pen name of Rainbow Award winning author Will Craig, a thirtysomething disabled, fat, white, queer trans man from Houston, TX. For those who care, he is an Aquarius, and if you’ve met him, you probably can’t imagine him being anything else.

Proud da to two incredible queer, nonbinary kids aged 16 and 18 and honorary da to a 17-year-old black trans girl, Thursday spends a lot of time cooking vegetarian food in his Instant Pot while listening to Radiohead and dishing out advice and hugs to the younglings. Many of those scorching sex scenes were written or edited while obnoxiously loud teenagers danced to BTS in the living room.

When he’s not playing World of Warcraft with his handsome trans boyfriend, he’s probably watching horror movies or talking to his best friend and frequent collaborator Clancy Nacht. 

Author Links

Blog/Website

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Twitter

 

 Clancy Nacht

 Clancy Nacht is a bisexual genderqueer person who lives in Austin. Clancy has published several bestselling romances. Many of her books have been honored with Rainbow Awards; Le Jazz Hot won for Best Bisexual/Transgender Romance & Erotic Romance. In 2013, Black Gold: Double Black was a runner-up for a Rainbow Award. In 2015, Gemini won an Honorable Mention for Gay Erotic Romance and in 2016, Strange Times won an Honorable Mention for Science Fiction. Wyatt’s Recipes for Wooing Rock Stars was a finalist in the highly competitive William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance. The Phisher King won second place in the Rainbow Award for Romantic Suspense, 16th for Gay Book of the Year.

 

Author Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter

 

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