A Caryn Review: Vampire with Benefits (Supernatural Selection #2) by E.J. Russell

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

So I finished Single White Incubus a few months ago, loved it, and wanted to know what happened with the other two guys who were left at the altar.  And of course, this author never disappoints me, so this is the story of Rusty Johnson, inactive beaver shifter, and Casimir Moreau, vampire.  It is definitely not a stand alone book, and I will try not to put any spoilers from either book in this review.

Casimir was the youngest of the vampires, after their near extinction as a race caused them to strike a deal with the rest of the supernatural community to ban further vampire creation.  Despite only being 100 years old, he was already bored and dissatisfied with his undead existence, and he managed to get into quite a bit of trouble.  To the point that the vampire council  decided that he needed a permanent keeper, and they also decided the best way to accomplish that was to marry him to an incubus of excellent breeding and social standing.  Supernatural Selections guaranteed the match would be perfect, and the vampire council was happy to be in charge of the choice.

Rusty was an anomaly and an embarrassment to the shifter community.  Unable to shift, too tall, too awkward, and all too conscious of these faults that the beaver community would not let him forget.  The last straw was when his boyfriend dumped him for a female beaver shifter, and took the house that Rusty had lovingly built for the two of them.  Rusty signed up with Supernatural Selections and was matched to a bear shifter who lived far enough away that he wouldn’t ever have to deal with them again.  It seemed perfect.

But when Rusty and Casimir showed up at the office to get hitched, they found their perfectly selected mates had married each other, through an incredible snafu.  It wouldn’t have been such a problem, but Cas faced a very real possibility of being staked in the sun if he didn’t show up to the council married.  Shifters and vampires are anathema to each other (thank you, Twilight lore), and Cas thought getting married to Rusty would be a phenomenal fuck you to the vampire council, so he convinced Rusty – with the help of plenty of alcohol – to sign a temporary marriage contract.  Rusty was a great guy though, and Cas wasn’t completely selfish, and he figured the charade would also benefit Rusty, because what would be better than showing up at his ex-boyfriend’s wedding with a husband guaranteed to piss off the entire beaver shifter clan?

Getting to know these guys as they got to know each other was the best part of the book.  Rusty was such a boy scout, honest, kind, generous, but not prudish or stuck up at all.  He was completely unaware of his charms, both mental and physical, and that is the kind of character that I love best.  Cas was a bit of a bad boy, but he had matured enough to know there was more to life, and Rusty brought out the best in him.  They were both misfits in their communities, but what made them stick out there turned out to be what made them exactly right for each other.  But just when they were discovering how good they actually were together is when the web of lies and old grudges started closing in on them, and the consequences became a matter of life and death.

There were more plot twists and turns in this book than the first of the series – like the Fae Out of Water series that spawned this one, the books seem to be getting more complex and a bit darker as they progress.  This one is still as much comedy as it is romance, but there is definitely more of the mystery about it, and even more foreshadowing of a huge reveal in the next book.  I’m pretty sure I know what’s up with those AIs (Angel Interfaces) now, and why they are so sneaky and ominous, and I can’t wait to see if I’m correct when I read the next book.  And I’m thrilled that it will be about Zeke, the demon employee of Supernatural Selections, who’s definitely got some secrets of his own.

Once again I couldn’t give a full five stars, mainly because the resolution of the book required the use of a plot device that I absolutely hate, and that I think may screw up all the hints and foreshadowing that were otherwise really well done.  This is a personal pet peeve though, other readers might not mind it.  I was happy to see that the characters from Druid Next Door featured prominently in this book, just as those from Cutie and the Beast featured in book one.

Cover art by L.C. Chase fits perfectly with the series, but I was disappointed that it was all about Cas, and nothing really represented Rusty.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 300 pages
Published November 26th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Vampire with Benefits
ISBN 1626498563 (ISBN13: 9781626498563)
Edition Language  English
Series Supernatural Selection #2

Single White Incubus

Vampire with Benefits

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Blessed (The Matawapit Family #1) by Maggie Blackbird

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Ten years ago Emery Matawapit broke Darryl Keejik’s heart, by chosing obedience to his parents over the love he shared with Darryl. Emery’s father Nathan is the church deacon and Darryl still holds a grudge. Emery comes home from Saint Michael’s Seminary six months before he’ll enter the priesthood to address the past, and ask for Darryl’s forgiveness for the way their friendship ended. Darryl is now part of the Traditionalists Society’s mission to preserve and teach the Anishinaabe ways. The deacon is scared they’ll yank the monthly donation to his church for their hydo bill. When the church asks for even more money to hold a Healing the Spirit workshop developed by the diocese to reconcile First Nations and Christian communities, all heck breaks lose. The workshop is supposed to help recovery for the generations traumatized by the Indian Residential Schools the Canadian Government imposed on the Indigenous people throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Old hurts against the church bubble to the surface causing political problems for the reserve and personal problems for our MCs.

This book is an emotional journey and anyone with a complicated relationship with Christianity whilst supporting LGBTQIA+ people might want to read it. Where I live we just had our first Pride event and it was interesting to see which churches came and were supportive. In many ways, Protestantism is geared to be more supportive of queer people, but that doesn’t always work in practice. The issue taken up here is Catholicism and how it related to the “two spirit” on the reserve. There are many times where the author tries to say Creator and God are the same, making prayer the same whether it is the Anishinaabe way or the Catholic way. While I actually agree personally, the official Catholic and Christian line is that you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God or you are not saved and are going to hell. A lot of this book tries to justify this position of these different faiths being equal or compatible in a way that is not defensible; if that church was a Unitarian Universalist one, we might be able to have a different discussion, but not when the church is Catholic. While the Catholic (and Mormon) church may allow queer people as long as they never actually have sex, I have a difficult time understanding why anyone who believes the Lord made people the way they are would tell them that they can never experience physical love with the person they are in love with. I also can’t understand why a queer person would choose to be part of a church like that when there are churches that have a more nuanced understanding of scripture, that use proper academic translations rather than radical paraphrasing, and learn about the actual historical context of the bible, that would accept them as they are. For full disclosure, I was Christian and went as a missionary to evangelize at one point, but after studying early church history, latin, and medieval pilgrimage, as well as traveling in different countries, I became pagan. I say this because I don’t care if queer people choose to be Christian, I just don’t understand choosing a particular church that thinks queer people are abominations–that seems unhealthy. Also, I don’t have to understand, I just have to be supportive.

I like reading about some of the Anishinaabe traditions. The book doesn’t shy away from tough topics such as alcoholism, sexual abuse, and inherited trauma. I do wish Darryl was a little toned down at the beginning; he is so angry it’s off putting and comes across as immature, his constant profanity is coarse. Emery’s dad is controlling and scared his son will make a decision he doesn’t want without constant supervision. Even though he comes around in the end, it is difficult to like him. Many of the characters are difficult to like until the end and I feel this would have benefited from more time being spent with Father Arnold, Emory’s spiritual advisor, or Darryl’s spiritual advisor Basil. These two men make the most sense in the whole book–wanting what is best for everyone without forcing an agenda, giving advice but letting them make their own decisions. It was good to watch Emery listen to his heart and stand up for living his own life when the cost for him was so high. I have to say there are some awkward transitions between scenes. The sex scenes weren’t particularly erotic as the author uses some strange word choices like “tingles” and “hot shivers” repeatedly: “the ripeness in Darryl’s crotch teetered on bursting.” Part of me feels this would have been more successful faded to black, while the other part of me recognizes that would defeat the point, which is that sex between two men in love is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Sex scenes are incredibly difficult to write and are subjective to judge as not everyone will like the same thing, so it might just be me.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. I like reading about other cultures and points of view, so I’m glad I read it. There were things that didn’t work for me. In the end, it was good to see Darryl and Emory grow both together and in spirit. Keep in mind after ten years apart, this takes place within three weeks so developing the relationship longer would have added more emotional impact and made everyone’s reactions hold more weight at the end.

The cover art by Martine Jardin is how I pictured the characters. While I am not generally a fan of cover models floating in the sky, in this case, it is actually fitting.

Sales Link:  Extasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published July 6th 2018 by eXtasy Books Inc
ASIN B07F6DL98W
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Spells & Stardust by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Spells & Stardust is Scott’s first anthology – eight sci fi and fantasy shorts that run the gamut from regeneration to redemption.

The Bear at the Bar: A gay fish out of water tale with a pinch of magic.

Tight: What happens when your lover disappears in midair?

Morgan: The year when everything changed.

Re-Life: What if you were reborn in a strange new future?

A New Year: They met every eleven years. And each time, Hank’s life changed.

Repetition: What if you wanted to go back in the closet?

Gargoyle: Sometimes you get what you deserve. Sometimes it happens on All Hallows Eve.

Avalon: A few bright moments in the sun, stolen from outside time.

Most of these stories have been previously published in various anthologies and journals. This is the first time they have all been collected in one place,

As an enormous fan of this talented author, I found his first collection of short stories to be more informative, a story of Scott’s journey as a writer which I find fascinating.  Most of these stories are quite old, having been written years, even decades ago.  That’s the case with the first one The Bear at the Bar, his first published story 20 some odd years ago for a Dreamspinner Press Anthology.  From that one we travel forward, progressing by time and by experience gained as an author, although I’m not sure Scott realizes it works out that way.

After each story, the author has a small note where he offers insight into what the story means to him, what he was thinking while he was writing it.  You can feel the fondness, no love, he has for each and every one of these tales and what they represent for him.

I enjoyed reading those immensely.

So how did I feel about the stories?

My favorites include Re-Life and A New Year. Perhaps Avalon.  The others point me to the start of the  journey that the man who wrote the incredible novels like the Liminal Sky series, the Oberon Cycle, and The River City Chronicles had to start out on.  Just looking at the dates on which they were written is informative.  As a reader I don’t see the same things reflected in them that the author does.  However they have my gratitude they launched him on his path.

Cover art is amazing.  Full of possibilities and quite magical.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 169 pages
Published December 5th 2018
ASIN B07KDXHLWS

An Alisa Advent Calendar Review: Death to Christmas Sweaters by LE Franks

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Chess and Benjamin are casual lovers, each hiding his devotion to the other and his wish for more. But Chess is a wealthy playboy who—Benjamin believes—will never settle down. And Chess is sure, with the way Benjamin keeps him at arm’s length, that he can’t be interested in getting serious.

They’re destined for a head-on collision as Chess plans for a holiday escape designed to send Benjamin’s ardor spiking like the temperatures in Los Angeles, while Benjamin desperately drags his feet, wanting to cool things down to protect his vulnerable heart. But when the ghosts of Chess’s Christmas past and Benjamin’s unwelcome present converge at LAX, it’s obvious other forces are about to take over.

Drawn into their respective family dramas at a joint gathering, will Chess and Benjamin finally take a stand for each other and the relationship they both want, or will the holiday finally take its toll?

I really enjoyed this story.  Chess and Benjamin are both vulnerable in different ways but really want the other more than what they feel they have.  Chess may not act as though he has any insecurities but he really hides himself from the world and shows himself as carefree.  Benjamin is scared of losing Chess but also his parents but when push comes to shove he stands his ground.  I really liked these two together and though they had some trouble communicating it all works out in the end.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  Wonderful cover, pertinent to the story and character.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 56 pages

Published: December 12, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

Charlie Cochrane on Christmas, Traditions, and her new release ‘Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code’ (author guest blog)

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Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code (Cambridge Fellows #12.7)

by

Charlie Cochrane

Cover Illustrator: Alex Beecroft

Buy Link:  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Charlie Cochrane on tour with her latest story in the wonderful Cambridge Fellows series, Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code. Welcome, Charlie.

✒︎

Charlie Cochrane on Christmas, Traditions, and Change

 

“Are you trying to ruin Christmas?”

That’s what our daughters said to us earlier this year when we announced our intention of having, for the first time ever, an artificial tree. We’ve always had a real tree, but last year the one we bought from our usual, highly reliable source decided to pop its clogs a few days before Christmas, after only ten days of display, meaning I had to get a last minute replacement. I’m too old for enduring that sort of stress again, so artificial it is (and very nice too). Thing is, our three daughters – who are in their mid-20s – want Christmas to be like it’s always been. In fact, one of them said last year that it gets better and better as they grow older. I’m not sure if that means we’re getting it right or getting it wrong!

Trouble is, I’m just as bad. I’m like the worst sort of overexcited child about Christmas. It begins when I buy lots of things in the January sales to go away for next Christmas, goes onto “simmer” mode through the summer and bursts forth again in November. The Cochrane household at that point starts to fill with: presents bought, wrapped and hidden away; cards written and ready to post; Christmas songs being sung by me and youngest daughter at annoyingly loud volume and other seasonal delights.

The Christmas period also has family traditions that must be observed. Everybody piling into our bed on Christmas morning to open stocking presents. (The girls now give me a stocking, too, so things have definitely got better in that regard.) The Christmas quiz that occupies the time between the main course and the pudding finishing cooking. The Christmas Eve challenge that has included putting names to old family pictures, guessing the flavours of jelly beans and – last year – a Christmas themed ‘escape room’.

If we so much as suggest we change something all hell breaks loose. We’re not necessarily talking about anything as drastic as going to a hotel for a few days – we had to fight tooth and nail to get the main meat on Christmas day changed from turkey to ham, even though none of us like turkey! Does anybody else have this problem?

Lessons in Breaking the Deadly Code

St Bride’s College is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of reviving the traditional celebration of the saint’s day. When events get marred by murder it’s natural that Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith will get called in to help the police with their inside knowledge. But why has somebody been crawling about on the chapel roof and who’s obsessed with searching in the library out of hours?

About the Author

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, sometimes historical (sometimes hysterical) and usually with a mystery thrown into the mix.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Endeavour, Bold Strokes Books, and Riptide among others. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames and is on the organising team for UK Meet.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Twitter: http://twitter.com/charliecochrane

Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

Aidan Wayne on Writing, Happy Endings, and their new release Showers, Flowers, and Fangs (author guest blog)

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Showers, Flowers, and Fangs by Aidan Wayne
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist:  Tiferet Designs

Buy Links:

Harmony InkDreamspinner Press |  Amazon  |  Googleplay  

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Aidan Wayne on tour for their new YA release, Showers, Flowers, and Fangs.  It’s a novel we highly recommend!. Welcome, Aidan.

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview  with Aidan Wayne

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing? – Absolutely. I love YA of all types; fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary, you name it. I grew up on everything from Anne of Green Gables to the Harry Potter series, with a whole lot of variety in between. But while I loved all of these books, the representation in many of them was… lacking, especially when it comes to the main characters. And the books I did find that had queer MCs (usually gay white males, let’s be real here) weren’t what I wanted. I didn’t want tragedy. I didn’t want “desperately trying to fit in.” I wanted fun and humor and acceptance and escapism. And I wanted more than just the G.

Darren, the main character in Showers Flowers and Fangs, is a total flaily spaz, a loyal friend, and Tries His Best. He’s bad at math (which how both his parents are accountants), good at video games, loves the rain, and tiger lilies are his favorite flower because they taste the best. Oh, and, y’know, there’s the whole “half-fae” thing. He’s also a trans teen, bi, and completely accepted by his community.

I just want more fun stories where LGBTQ kids get to do things like be magic or pilot space stations or exist in the 1800s.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why? – Yes! Or, wait, was I supposed to pick between the two? There are pluses to both. On one hand, I love happily ever afters. I love characters getting a happy ending… as long as it ultimately makes sense within the story premise. Point A to Point B to Point C to Point HEA. But sometimes an HFN fits a story–how it’s evolved and where it’s gone. A Happily Ever After doesn’t entirely work. More needs to happen, which may or may not have taken place in the book. This is especially true in YA. For instance, Showers Flowers and Fangs is a “happy for now” ending. It has to be; the characters are teenagers. They do make great progress and the story ends happily, but a “happily ever after” makes no sense yet.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going? – I think the ebook format is great! I’m someone who never wants to be without a book, and with ebooks and a phone I can have as many as I want any time I want. Traveling used to be an exercise in Picking Books and I distinctly remember several years ago going to visit a relative and lugging around the last four Harry Potter books because I wanted to reread them. With ebooks, all those problems are solved. I do admit to enjoying having physical copies of my books though, because I think that’s really special. And, well, ebooks are also a lot easier to pirate which actively hurts me personally as an author. But there is so much merit (and better availability and accessibility) when it comes to ebooks. Overall I’m very glad they exist.

How do you choose your covers? – I’m not a very visual person at all, so usually I draw a blank when filling out a cover artist questionnaire sheet. Mostly what happens is that the cover artist gives me some options, I realize what I don’t like or want, and we sort of narrow things down from there. Actually, Showers Flowers and Fangs is the one exception out of all of my covers so far. I knew EXACTLY what I wanted. And wow, did my cover artist deliver. I love it. It perfectly captures everything I wanted it to.

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation? – I remember being… maybe fourteen? reading Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer and being furious when the main character (who had been disguising herself as a boy) revealed herself to be a girl. Worse: that’s when her love interest exhibited said interest. Not before the reveal. Same with the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce. And Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede. And so many, many, many others. Then there were the books where a male dressed up as a female–usually for laughs, or as part of some hackneyed plan that ended terribly.

I got… really tired of these trope. I wanted MCs to stay disguised as boys forever (and still get their love interests, if they wanted one) and to not be ridiculed for dressing and/or presenting a certain way. It didn’t ah, really sink in as to maybe why I reacted so viscerally to this trope until a lot later.

Anyway. The point is that, especially now, I write a lot of trans, non-binary, and otherwise gender non-conforming characters (having happy endings, this is important), and will continue to do so pretty much until I die.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why? – Ironically? Showers. Showers Flowers and Fangs is my favorite. I am varying degrees of proud of all my work (with and without ways I can think of improvements) but writing Showers was an amazing time for me. I don’t think I stopped grinning once while writing it. I was delighted to discover things as they came to me. I love all the characters. I think the plot and premise is fun. There’s overcoming sadness and getting out to the other side. There’s acceptance and love. There’s magic and friendship and laughter and ice cream.

It makes me happy.

I hope it makes readers happy, too.

BLURB

Darren is your average half-human, half-fae trans teenager, busy figuring out his powers and puberty while trying to survive finals. When Vlad, a newly turned vampire, moves in with the witch down the street, he and Darren get off on the wrong foot. Darren is always one to give somebody a second chance, though, and as they become friends, he realizes Vlad is just lonely and struggling with his new powers. That’s something Darren can definitely relate to, and he’s happy to lend his support. But while he coaxes Vlad out of his shell, Darren ends up learning about Vlad’s past… and the danger Vlad is in. Darren only wants to help—help Vlad feel comfortable in his own skin and help him feel safe.

He hadn’t planned on falling in love.

About the Author

Aidan Wayne lives with altogether too many houseplants on the seventh floor of an apartment building, and though the building has an elevator, Aidan refuses to acknowledge its existence. They’ve been in constant motion since before they were born (pity Aidan’s mom)—and being born didn’t change anything. When not moving Aidan is usually writing, so things tend to balance out. They mostly stick with contemporary romance (both adult and YA), but some soft sci-fi/fantasy has been known to sneak in as well, and they primarily write character-driven stories with happy endings. Because, dammit, queer people deserve happy endings too.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website: aidanwayne.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aidanwayne

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15164017.Aidan_Wayne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AidanWayneWrites/

Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/cO6OGL

Is Sci fi/fantasy a Favorite of Yours? Check out the collection of stories in Spells & Stardust by J. Scott Coatsworth (giveaway)

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Spells & Stardust

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi/fantasy anthology out: Spells & Stardust.

Spells & Stardust is Scott’s first anthology – eight sci fi and fantasy shorts that run the gamut from regeneration to redemption.

The Bear at the Bar: A gay fish out of water tale with a pinch of magic.

Tight: What happens when your lover disappears in midair?

Morgan: The year when everything changed.

Re-Life: What if you were reborn in a strange new future?

A New Year: They met every eleven years. And each time, Hank’s life changed.

Repetition: What if you wanted to go back in the closet?

Gargoyle: Sometimes you get what you deserve. Sometimes it happens on All Hallows Eve.

Avalon: A few bright moments in the sun, stolen from outside time.

Most of these stories have been previously published in various anthologies and journals. This is the first time they have all been collected in one place.

Get It On Amazon


Giveaway

Scott is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4740/?


Unique Excerpt – From “Re-Life”

The taxi from the Re-Life Clinic dropped out of the sky onto a raised landing pad. It alighted twenty feet above ground level like a giant dragonfly. The door lifted, and Eric looked out uncertainly. “The hostel?” he said.

“Down the ramp, on the left,” the taxi told him in a suave, gender-neutral voice.

He clambered out, dragging his shiny duffel bag along, trying hard to ignore its ever-changing ripples of color. It epitomized the gaudy nanotech that seemed to be in everything here. He’d just completed his six-week orientation and rehab at the Clinic. It had taken four weeks just to get used to this new body they’d grown for him using his own DNA. It still didn’t feel entirely… his.

It was finally time to get out into the world. The long weeks of rehab had chaffed at him—he was itching to explore this strange new city, Safris. He couldn’t wait to take a look around and see what had changed. And though he had nothing but a few personal belongings and a credit on his account, he was young and healthy again.

The cancer that had killed him half a millennia earlier was gone.

It had been utterly strange to open his eyes in the clinic for the first time, after he’d had himself frozen on the off chance that someone, sometime in the future would be able to cure him. It had also been traumatic, processing the loss of everything and everyone he had once held dear.

He’d spent a week straight crying and morose, sitting in a dark room and counting all the things he’d lost. All of that is behind me now. I hope.

He looked around. There were few people about, most of them standard-form. The buildings were so unlike those back home—they thrust upward at strange opposing angles, and they went up and up and up. Like the carry sack, some of them changed colors as he watched, and he was half-convinced that one of them moved.

He fought down his panic. It was perfectly normal to feel out of place the first time out, his counselor had told him.

Maybe so, but it was also painful.

He missed many things: Levis, trolley cars, Wild Cherry Pepsi, and the smell of sandalwood.

But he missed David most of all.


Author Bio

Scott lives with his husband of twenty five years in a Sacramento suburb, in a cute little yellow house with a brick fireplace and two pink flamingoes out front.

He inhabits in the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into science fiction and fantasy by his mom at the tender age of nine, he quickly finished her entire library. But he soon began to wonder where all the queer people were.

After coming out at twenty three, he started writing the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Crown Books. If there weren’t many queer characters in his favorite genres, he would will them into existence, subverting them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read them.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently than most – he makes connections between ideas that others don’t, and somehow does more in a day than most people manage in a week. Although born an introvert, he forced himself to reach outside himself, and learned to connect with others like him.

Scott’s stories subvert expectations that transform traditional science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something different and unexpected. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark.

His romance and genre fiction writing brings a queer energy to his stories, filling them with love, beauty and power. He imagines how the world could be – in the process, he hopes to change the world, just a little.

Scott was recognized as one of the top new gay authors in the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and his debut novel “Skythane” received two awards and an honorable mention.

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jscoatsworth/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

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Book Blast for – Pain and Promise by Lazlo Thorn

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Pain and Promise

Author: Lazlo Thorn

Publisher: MLR Press

Cover Artist: Melody Pond

Genre/s: Gay Romance / Erotica / Historical

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 73 000 words/230 pages

It is a standalone book

Add on Goodreads 

 

Buy Links

Publisher/MLR Press

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

 

Blurb

June, 1981: The small town of Frentana on the Adriatic coast of Italy was the last place Bobby would have suspected that his titanic struggle with being gay would come to a head. But then he hadn’t reckoned on the town’s evil secret weapon – Dario, a Michelangelo man with a missionary zeal for sex with men and the tightest trousers that Bobby had ever set eyes on. But then Bobby wasn’t the first Englishman in that bright land where the olive trees grew, to be dazzled and beguiled by a local boy. For there was another love story that had yet to be told. A hidden affair separated from Bobby and Dario by almost forty years. An inspiring tale of a great war time romance between two very special young men and one with which Bobby would become strangely linked.

 

Excerpt

August, 1969

Florence, Italy

As the short, strong stranger drew level with Bobby, this young man, still engaged in deep conversation with his friends, nonchalantly reached down and pulled at the front of his trousers, as if scratching an itch in his groin. For a split-second, time seemed to freeze, and Bobby became lost in a moment of furtive fascination as this Florentine beauty continued touching and prodding himself between his legs. Then, in complete disregard for the very public place in which they stood, he suggestively adjusted the contents of his trousers, in much the same way a shopper in a supermarket might casually rummage in a heavy bag of vegetables.

The encounter lasted only a few seconds, and then the young blood and his equally attractive gang of friends were gone, leaving Bobby strangely crushed at the thought that this beautiful creature hadn’t even noticed he was there. The clock on the tower above his head struck eight, and time started up again. When Bobby glanced back at his family, his father was pointing enthusiastically toward the corner of the square where, having finally spotted their destination, they went on to spend a very enjoyable evening at the restaurant, and he thought no more about it.

Bobby found coming home to England after such a great holiday in Italy quite depressing, particularly when he realised that school would resume the following week. So once again, he turned his attention to more mundane matters like his unfinished holiday homework, and all too quickly, the glittering streets of Italy seemed just a distant memory.

Until that day when he made his bitter discovery.

It was early evening, not long after returning home. Alone in his bedroom, he gazed out of the window at their back garden. The red summer roses were dying back, and the rain was drizzling down. Why the memory came to him then, he wasn’t sure. Perhaps he heard the clock in the hallway downstairs chime eight. But come it did and, for whatever reason, he suddenly remembered the attractive young men in the street outside the restaurant in Florence. In particular, the one with the very tight trousers and the bulging fly. The one who couldn’t have been less like a girl. And then the penny dropped. He had been admiring a man, and, he suddenly realised, it hadn’t been the first time. These days, he was often looking at men that way and in particular at the contents of their trousers. Furthermore, when he thought about it, he always had. The picture by his bed, the rugby players in the park and the rough cowboys on television, and, yes, he was marvelling at men because he liked the look of them and the way they made him feel when he captured them in his sights. He wanted them. He had gazed at those men in the street back in Italy the way other boys at school or indeed his brother Charlie talked about looking at girls. So, there in the bedroom that evening at the end of the summer, staring into the back garden through the window, Bobby finally made the connection. A moment forever fixed in time. There was a name for this. He was a homosexual.

 

About the Author

Lazlo Thorn published his first novel (The Signal Box) in 2018. In his work he explores themes about life, death, love and sexuality, set against the social mores and prevailing attitudes to gay sex at different times and in different places. Pain and Promise is his second novel and takes the reader to a small town on the Adriatic coast of Italy where two love stories, separated by almost forty years, become linked in an unexpected way. The author has lived and worked in various countries and travelled widely in Europe and beyond. Today, he lives in England with his husband, in a quiet seaside town on the south coast.

 

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An Alisa Review: Celebrations in the Season of Long Nights (Escape From the Holidays) by Mere Rain

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Having escaped his abusive family by winning a scholarship to college, Shahin promised himself he would never go back. So when his plans for winter break fall through and he’s left homeless for a month, he decides he’d rather camp in the park than go home. But he doesn’t realize it’s the solstice, the longest night of the year, the start of the season when the supernatural is at its strongest.

Yima is a demon-hunter, a duty passed down through his family. He doesn’t resent it, but it does get lonely, especially since his work is at its most difficult and dangerous when everyone else is celebrating with family. After he rescues Shahin from an demon attack and finds that he has nowhere safe to stay, he takes him back to his flat. He just arrived in town and hasn’t even gotten the electricity turned on, leaving the two men with little to do but talk.

It isn’t a surprise when they end up in bed, though what at first feels like a temporary comfort grows over days spent together into a deeper bond. Nomadic Yima has to find a way to stay without demons coming after his lover, and Shahin has to decide whether he can risk his heart loving a man who constantly puts his life in danger.

I felt for Shahin from the beginning, as he is trying to survive without any support from his family.  Yima is quite mysterious and not very open.  While I liked Shahin, I didn’t feel much of a connection to Yima though I know he is used to being secretive.  Shahin finds a surrogate mom along the way too.  It was nice for them both to find acceptance and somewhere to belong.

The cover art by Catherine Dair is nice and is one of the holiday series styles.

Sales Link: Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, ~12,500 words

Published: December 12, 2018 by Mischief Corner Books

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review:The Deafening Silence (The Yakuza Path #4) by Amy Tasukada

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

An unproven alliance. A broken promise. A mafia boss must shed blood to secure peace…

Nao Murata is on the verge of brokering peace between his syndicate and the rival Mafufgumi mob. To seal the deal, he’ll need to pick up Russian prostitutes to appease his newest ally. When the exchange goes sour, both sides draw blades and Nao has no choice but to care for a blood-soaked enemy. If the man doesn’t make it through the night, Nao and his crew will pay with their lives.

Outnumbered and stranded in enemy territory, Nao is forced to fight his way out before the Mafufgumi Godfather takes the deal off the table. As his wounded enemy’s heartbeat slows, Nao must act fast or condemn his syndicate to a brutal war.

The Yakuza Path: The Deafening Silence is the third book in a series of Japanese mafia thrillers. If you like twisty action, authentic settings, and a touch of gay romance, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s pulse-pounding series.

Since my first introduction to Nao Murata in the bloody and absolutely brilliant first story in this series, Blood Stained Tea, I’m almost confounded by my deep emotional involvement in the welfare of someone who is admittedly a murderous psychopath, one who’s barely contained rages have seen him want to spill the blood of dozens, often by his bare hands or any implement nearby.

But this is Japan, centuries old with ancient traditions and a culture to match. All built with such subtle nuances and  layers that can shield or hide behind.  Just as its many characters  demonstrate with their personalities.  Tasukada clearly loves and understands Japan in all it’s natural and historic beauty to the gritty darkness of the Yakuza underworld.  It has all  figured in greatly in this series as both the foundation, setting, and emotional framework for it’s characters.  Kyoto, Nao’s personal passion can stand in as another character all its own.

All those layers are built into the labyrinth personality of Nao as well.  Part of the reason for his murderous rages and psychotic breaks?  That can be found in the horrendous death of his first lover, perhaps his only love, at the hands of a rival gang boss.  It broke him, and whatever way he mended was not rational.  Of course, it doesn’t help that he was the son of the rival Yakuza gang and was already familiar with a brutal way of life.  But the dichotomy here is that the author shows us repeatedly another man.  One who loves his cat, and his tea, and who once wanted only to flee with his lover….

That is the one still seen occasionally, one the reader is still privy to his thoughts, when the rages are quiet.  Nao is a narrative tour de force.  Scary, memorable, everchanging, especially since he become the head of the family.  He needs to navigate the Korean crime families constant infiltration of Kyoto, manage his Yakuza’s many businesses and shaky alliances, all while reporting to the very top of the Yakuza boss who doesn’t trust him.  All while his mind seethes and surges like a red tide within him calling him to kill.

And at his side is another character who has shown incredible growth over the series,Aki Hisona, Nao’s personal secretary.  Aki loves Nao, a terrible fate as everyone who has cared for Nao has died, horribly. The reverse has also held true.  Everyone Nao has loved has died as well.  Nao has become convinced that the city of Kyoto has killed them.  A jealous mistress indeed.

This is not a romance.  Don’t even begin to look for one.  This is a brutal, bloody, gritty tale of crime, murder, culture, and a Yakuza crime family you can’t turn away from, starting at the top.

Amy Tasukada writes so beautifully, so skillfully here that just a twitch, a slip in a conversation sets off an avalanche of foreboding.  Everyone here is playing a game, some are merely good at it, some are masters, you have to read the story to find out who is playing the long game.  There is betrayal, untold amounts of bloodshed, and complexities beyond belief.  I expect nothing less from Nao and his gang and from this author.

I was astonished at Aki.

The author informs us at the end it will be a while until the next release as she wishes to “get it right”.  She has never, ever, gotten it wrong yet.  I would wait years for the next in this series if I had to.  It’s troubling, brilliant, and there’s no way I can predict the path going forward.  For any of them.  So yes, I’m obsessed.  So hopefully it won’t be terribly long for the next installment, maybe end of next year.

I absolutely recommend this   story and all the others in the series but they must be read in the order they were written.  Line them up like the narrative finds they are, and then devour them.  Just don’t expect any romance, unless it’s Nao’s love for Kyoto and even that comes with it’s own layer of pain and angst.

Cover art by Natasha Snow.  I’m in love with these covers.  Simple, bloody, perfection.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Buy Link


The Yakuza Path Series


Book #1 – Blood Stained Tea – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Better Than Suicide – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – One Thousand Cranes – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Macarons & Tea Publishing
ASIN B07KKFK1XB
Series The Yakuza Path #4 setting Hokkaido, 2015 (Japan

Blood Stained Tea

Better Than Suicide

One Thousand Cranes

The Deafening Silence