A MelanieM Review: Ghost (Executioners #1) by JM Dabney

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Gideon Jane earned the name Ghost for his reclusive nature when he joined a group of guys in Powers, Georgia in a band called Executioners. It had been his way of settling into small town life after living in New York for the past twenty years. He loved the band and his small organic farm. What he didn’t love was being single, but it appeared it was his new reality. He didn’t want his ex back, although he did want something. What that was eluded him until the evening he walked into Nightingale’s Books.

Small town girl Harper Sage knew pain, and she’d lived with it—she had the scars both mental and physical to prove it. It would’ve been easier to hop in her car to find safety and anonymity, but Harper stayed to prove she was stronger than hurled fists and bruising prejudice. She found herself within the safety of a close-knit group of rough bikers and bar bouncers. That didn’t mean it was all perfect.

What’s a girl to do when she craves normalcy and acceptance: she just smiles. Choices are made, some with dire consequences and others that bring her closer to her dream. Will she make the right decision or finally discover escape is her best option?

Author Note: This book contains scenes of violence and descriptions of self-harm.

I was wavering about reading this story as I have a huge stack of books to read but something about that cover and synopsis reached out to me.  That and the fact that the times we live in has made it so important that people in the LGBTQIA spectrum be made to feel loved and normal and as part of society as everyone else. Ghost helps highlight the lives that many have been made to live as it has a main character who has been marginalized and abused for most of her life.

So I picked this up and dived into a world of pain, self abuse, recovery and love.  It’s a remarkable story, full of characters that have such staying power that I’m still mulling over how to write this review even now.  Told from Gideon’s (aka Ghost) and Harper’s perspective, an emotionally gripping, deeply moving story unfolds. From Harper, we see her pain, her self-harm, her journey from boy to woman and the trauma inflicted by others on her for that choice.  This story does contain graphic descriptions of violence as Harper chose to inflict harm on herself through bad choices in men, one horror of a man in particular.  The scenes are vivid and carry a huge emotional impact.  If this is a trigger for you be warned.  We are there inside Harper’s heart and mind, we feel how little she believes she deserves in life and how far to the ground her self esteem has fallen.  Prepare for your own heart to be as bruised and broken as Harper.

Then there’s Gideon Jane, known as Ghost because his presence around town is so fleeting.  He’s moved to this small town needing peace, quiet, friends and a new start after a long-term relationship destructed.  Gideon is beautiful and layered, moving solidly and quietly into Harper’s life like a balm, a wonderful large, perhaps chubby (his ex’s words) rock of a man.  He recognizes how wounded she is and how slowly he has to move, winning her trust inch by inch.  It’s done through communication and by actions, the reader falling in love with Gideon along with Harper.

J.M. Dabney has also chosen to have Harper not undergo gender reassignment surgery and Harper talks/muses about her emotional choice to live with body dysmorphic disorder and what it’s cost her.  Everything about this aspect of the story is handled realistically and with extreme sensitivity.  The scars that line Harper’s body are extensive.  How she views her body image and how that changes over the course of the story will bring tears to your eyes.

There is so many layers here.  The romance between Gideon and Harper is tender and slow moving as it should be.  There is the element of her abusive ex who is still around. Plus Dabney gives us a town of amazing characters whose stories we need to be told.  I hope that Joker’s story will be the second to arrive in this series.  As a character who pulled on my heart he was on a level with Harper with his angst and trauma filled past history.

The only reason Ghost did not reach a full 5 star rating is that I felt it wrapped up too quickly for everything that had gone on before. Had the author spread out the ending as she had the rest of the story, this novel would have reached perfection.  As it was it came amazingly close.

Ghost (Executioners #1) by JM Dabney is a deeply moving love story.  Its contemporary in it’s subject and timing.  But timeless in its message and beauty.  I highly recommend it but please heed the warnings.

Cover Design: Winterheart Design.  I love this cover.  It’s a perfect representation of Gideon and the story. Perfection!

Sales Links:  Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble PayHip | KOBO

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 157 pages
Published July 18th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
ASINB073WH7WFJ
URL https://www.jmdabneyauthor.com/executioners
SeriesExecutioners #1 settingGeorgia (United States)

Book Blitz & Giveaway Tour for JM Dabney’s Ghost (Executioners #1)

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Cover Design: Winterheart Design
 
Length: 40,000 words
 
Blurb
 

Gideon Jane earned the name Ghost for his reclusive nature when he joined a group of guys in Powers, Georgia in a band called Executioners. It had been his way of settling into small town life after living in New York for the past twenty years. He loved the band and his small organic farm. What he didn’t love was being single, but it appeared it was his new reality. He didn’t want his ex back, although he did want something. What that was eluded him until the evening he walked into Nightingale’s Books.

Small town girl Harper Sage knew pain, and she’d lived with it—she had the scars both mental and physical to prove it. It would’ve been easier to hop in her car to find safety and anonymity, but Harper stayed to prove she was stronger than hurled fists and bruising prejudice. She found herself within the safety of a close-knit group of rough bikers and bar bouncers. That didn’t mean it was all perfect.

What’s a girl to do when she craves normalcy and acceptance: she just smiles. Choices are made, some with dire consequences and others that bring her closer to her dream. Will she make the right decision or finally discover escape is her best option?

 

Author Bio

J.M. Dabney is a multi-genre author who writes mainly LGBT romance and fiction. She lives with a constant diverse cast of characters in her head. No matter their size, shape, race, etc. she lives for one purpose alone, and that’s to make sure she does them justice and give them the happily ever after they deserve. J.M. is dysfunction at its finest and she makes sure her characters are a beautiful kaleidoscope of crazy. There is nothing more she wants from telling her stories than to show that no matter the package the characters come in or the damage their pasts have done, that love is love. That normal is never normal and sometimes the so-called broken can still be amazing.



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Our STRW Fantasy Recommendations Continues and This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Our STRW Fantasy Recommendations Continues

Are you at glued to however you watch tv these days when GoT comes on?  That’s Game of Thrones of course.  The lavish, addictive, often dark fantasy series from HBO adapted from George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire, one that’s he still writing, I  might add if you aren’t someone who read the books  first and then started watching the series.  Or lives in Outer Mongolia, although I’m convinced they get GoT there too.  It’s a land where winter’s coming, a woman ride’s a dragon to her destiny, there are terrifying whitewalkers and even scarier queens now sitting on the iron throne.  There’s Tyrion a dwarf who drinks and knows things plus so many mad wonderful, awful, horrific events that have occurred that we stay fastened to this series as though epoxied. You can’t help it.  It’s magnificent.  And its fantasy.  People love fantasy,  From Tolkien to George R. R. Martin, to the stories of our childhood, whether it be Harry Potter or Peter Pan, imagining the impossible or the improbable has always captured our imagination and our attention.

We want to slide into those worlds, those adventures, see those dragons!  How I loved Anne Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series and Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series just to name two that I couldn’t get enough of.   But really I gobbled them all up.  And still do today.  I just finished last week Don Allmon’s Glamour Thieves and another story in Megan Derr’s Tales of the High King, a series Lila loves as well.  Megan Derr can do no wrong in her  fantasy stories.  Just check our our recommendations for her below.

We are still working on our Fantasy Rec lists.  You all know?  I forgot the Supernatural/Paranormal lists, so those may have to come next.  But for now, lets concentrate on the Fantasy ones.  Our Giveaway runs until August 26~you just might see books you never got to or ones you definitely want to reread!

(Extra note:  We are still looking for reviewers, please contact us if you know of anyone or want to review for us yourself.  Write to us at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com)

 

Fantasy Titles Recommended – 

Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling
Dance with the Devil series by Megan Derr
Charm of Magpies series by KJ Charles
Hexworld series by Jordan L Hawk
Woke Up in a Strange Place  by Eric Arvin
The Druid Stone (Layers of the Otherworld #1) by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Galway Bound (Layers of the Otherworld #1.1) by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk
The Pirate’s Game (Etsey Novels #3) by Heidi Cullinan and
Etsey novels by Heidi Cullinan

Fantasy Fiction Rec Giveaway

Send in your recs  for your favorite fantasy book/ or series!  Don’t forget to add your email address where we can reach you if chosen to receive our gift certificate of $10.

Again, gift certificates to a reader chosen at random who left a comment along with their email address where they can be reached if chosen.
Contest ends at midnight on 8/26.  That’s two weeks to get your recommendations in!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

This Week At Scattered Thoughts And Rogue Words

 

Sunday, August 20:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Our STRW Fantasy Recommendations Continues

Monday, August 21:

  • Book Blitz & Review Tour – JM Dabney – Ghost (Executioners #1)
  • DSP GUEST POST Vivien Dean
  • TOUR The Vampire’s Protege by Damian Serbu
  • TOUR Blended Notes by Lilah Suzanne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Suspicious Behavior (Bad Behavior #2) by LA Witt and Cari Z
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Fool of Main Beach (Love in Laguna: Book 5) by Tara Lain
  • A MelanieM Review: Ghost (Executioners #1) by JM Dabney
  • An Alisa Review Wrong Place, Right Time by April Kelley

Tuesday, August 22:

  • DSP GUEST POST Alex Standish for Changing Tides
  • Review Tour – Elin Gregory – The Bones Of Our Fathers
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Suspicious Behavior (Bad Behavior #2) by LA Witt and Cari Z.
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Just Add Argyle (Fabric Hearts 3) by KC Burn
  • A MelanieM Review: The Bones Of Our Fathers by Elin Gregory
  • A Stella Review: TBD

Wednesday, August 23:

  • Blog Tour *Inhuman Beings by Richard May
  • Review Tour – Jay Northcote’s Tops Down Bottoms Up
  • A Jeri Review: Tops Down Bottoms Up by Jay Northcote
  • A Lila Review: The Heart of the Lost Star by Megan Derr
  • A VVivacious Review: How to Love a Monster by Lyssa Dering
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Coasting by Yvonne Trent

Thursday, August 24:

  • Cover Reveal First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) by RJ Scott & VL Locey
  • HARMONY INK GUEST POST Julia Ember
  • RIPTIDE TOUR The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water #2) by EJ Russell
  • An Alisa Review: Dude Mama by Michael P. Thomas
  • A Caryn Review: Becoming Andy Hunsinger by Jere’ M. Fishback
  • A MelanieM Review: One in Vermilion by Kris T. Bethke
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford and Greg Tremblay  (Narrator)

Friday, August 25:

  • TOUR for Grounded by Aidan Wayne
  • Tour and Giveaway for The Runner by Karma Kingsley
  • Retro Tour: Men of London series by Susan Mac Nicol
  • A Lila Review: Conned By Jana Denardo
  • A MelanieM Review: Trust with a Chaser (Rainbow Cove #1) by Annabeth Albert
  • An Ali Review: Love You Senseless (Men of London #1) by Susan Mac Nicol
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain and K.C. Kelly (Narrator)

Saturday, August 26:

  • Blog tour FORBIDDEN LUST BY GRAYSON KNIGHT
  • Release Blitz Without A Compass – Helen Juliet
  • A MelanieM Review: The Lonely Merman (Landlocked Heart #1) by Kay Berrisford

 

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Shax’s War (Brimstone #3 by Angel Martinez and Vance Bastian (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The boys desperately need a vacation. With the not-quite-ill-gotten gains from the Frog incident, Shax takes the Brimstone’s crew to the exclusive resort planet, Opal, for some much needed rest and relaxation. The resort has everything a demon prince and his crew could want, but an incident on the Trauma Ball court sends Ness stalking off in anger and sends events swiftly spiraling out of control.

Shax will need every bit of his cunning and his legendary luck to save his Ness as he’s drawn into a web of criminal experiments and…pink hedgehogs?

I’ve been  following the unusual crew of the Brimstone since the first story, Potato Surprise, and have seen each tale bring more layers to each character, more additions to the Brimstone crew, and each novel becoming increasingly complex and potentially heartbreaking.  Shax’s War really is the pinnacle of the series to date.  Martinez takes a moment of downtime for the crew and escalates it into a flight of sheer terror and heartbreak as well as a ship of horrors for one.

When I read it in 2014 when it was first released (this series and author are must reads for me) this story put me through the wringer.  Angel Martinez can create characters like Shax, his fallen angel lover Ness, Verin, cowboy Corny,  the ship’s IA Ivana Cockatoo, and among the new additions Leopold.  Every single one able to grab at your heart, letting you connect deeply to their lives and situations.  And what situations and adventures they manage to get themselves into.  But nothing like what occurs here within Shax’s War.

Some of the scenes are not for the squeamish. Beings treated as organ donors while alive will do that.

Luckily a rescue will put an end to that horror.  But it’s there, so be warned.  This is a white knuckle ride all the way, fear and love for these characters will be driving you through listening to the audiobook in one clip, much as I did the story. Vance Bastian again does an outstanding job with this variety of characters from the gruff Verin to the improbable pink hedgehog Leopold and everyone inbetween.  He brings Shax to life with the fear and desperation ringing in his lines as he searches for his love, the horror of the ship and the pain as the demon begins to crack up under it all.  Such an amazing story and Vance Bastian brought  out new elements I hadn’t noticed before when I read it, highlighting new aspects of the story by his narration making me appreciate it all over again.

If you’re new to this series, start at the beginning and see how the Brimstone got it crew.  You can get it all in a collection.  Then you can look forward to new stories as they arrive.  I hope the author is not done with the crew yet and there are more galactic adventures to come.  I can hardly wait for both the books and the audio versions!  I highly recommend them both.

Cover art is a little jarring.  I really don’t think that’s Leopold.

Sales LInks:  Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 4 hours and 30 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Audible.com Release Date: June 29, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B073DGQ7DG

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Northern Star by Ethan Day and Jason Frazier (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Deacon Miller never had it all—he never really believed he could. Growing up in a broken home with an alcoholic mother and a revolving door of truly pathetic father figures taught him to keep his expectations low. Now at twenty-seven, on the night before Christmas Eve, his life is turned upside down yet again; his boyfriend has dumped him, he just fled the holiday family reunion from hell, and now to top it all off, a blizzard has left him stranded in an airport hotel.

Steve Steele has spent the better part of his forty-four years living a lie, ignoring his attraction to other men in an attempt to fit into the mold of the man he thought he should be, instead of living life as the man he knew himself to be. Recently divorced after coming home from work one day and coming out to his wife, Steve has floundered over the past year, desperately attempting to wade through the guilt and find the courage to start again.

That’s when a chance meeting in a hotel bar brings two lonely men together… and what should’ve been a one night stand turns into something much more than either one ever expected.

I read this story when it was first released in 2013 and loved it.  Ethan Day’s tale of a complicated mess of a romance between Steve Steele and Deacon Miller grabbed at my heart because of all they went through to be together and become a family.  Ethan Day has always been one of those writers with the ability to make me empathize with his characters and their difficult situations.  Day can make you laugh and then turn around and send you running to the tissue box for the next round of Kleenex as his characters problems become seemingly insurmountable.  Nothing put you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions better than Northern Star so I couldn’t wait to see how it would translate to audio.

Well, it was wonderful.  Jason Frazier with a cast of characters that his voice can summon takes a story I loved and made it fresh for me.  I felt as though I was hearing/coming at it for the first time all over again.  Again I’m at the hotel bar where Deacon and Steve are meeting and having really hot sex afterwards.  I’m following them through all the tumultuous days that follow at the hospital where Deacon’s mom was taken after drunk driving.  Steve’s fight to adjust to his new status, Deacon and his sister’s plight, all the incredibly complex relationship dynamics and family drama that unfolds…Jason Frazier’s voice holds our attention to the story and the characters lives happening before us.  And there is so much here.  Child abandonment issues, alcoholism in parents, the effects of being closeted and the fear of being outed for most of a person’s adult life, poor self esteem, on and on. Ethan Day addresses realistically many important issues here, ones that need to be examined before Steve and Deacon can have a shot at a permanent relationship themselves.

The pain the characters are feeling, the anger and the many other emotions all come across in the voices of Jason Frazier.  He really does justice to Ethan Day’s story and characters and he made this story a wonderful audiobook experience!  I loved it in 2013 and I adore it again in audiobook!  I highly recommend this one for all you lovers of contemporary romance.

 

Cover by Wilde City Press art director. Works perfectly for the characters and storyline.

Sales

Audible

Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Originally released in 2013 from Wilde City Press in eBook format
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 8 hours and 41 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Ethan Day
Audible.com Release Date: July 4, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B073K15ZRC

 

A Lila Release Day Review: The Foxling Soldati (Soldati Hearts #2) by Charlie Cochet

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Foxling Toka has served the Soldati king for centuries, and now he attends to the kingdom’s cherished Soldati prince. It’s a position of honor, and as Toka helps the once-human prince adapt to their magical realm, he finds joy in their friendship. He also grows bolder in his encounters with Rayner, Soldati warrior and the king’s second. But the laws are clear: servants and Soldati are not permitted to mate. It doesn’t matter that Toka lost his heart to the dashing cad long ago.

Rayner never imagined he would fall in love with a servant, but the clever and beautiful foxling has ensnared him, and he resents the regulations keeping them apart. When an arrogant and spiteful king visits from a neighboring realm, Rayner is in danger of losing everything. But Soldati warriors don’t surrender, and he intends to fight all the harder to keep Toka where he belongs—in Rayner’s arms.

The Foxling Soldati is a perfect combination of longing, love, and sweet nothings. All the encounters between Toka and Rayner showed how much they cared for each other, even before they realized the depths of their love. It was refreshing to read how they interact, not only with each other but we those around them–including those that wanted to harm them.

It’s not often that a sequel is better than the first book in the series, but in this case, it is true. Perhaps because we already know the world, their customs, and the characters making it easier to concentrate on the plot and the romance instead of trying to place the story.  All the extra details just add to a well-built world.

The story has excruciating moments in which the reader fears for Toka, Rayner, and the future they want to build together. But the author did an excellent job keeping the scenes to the point and the overall plot simple and intense.

The ending fits the romance and the drama in the story. Overall, this is great short to read between stories–with lots of aww moments and cheering for the underdog. A very cute love story.

The cover by L.C. Chase is beautiful and perfect for the story. Toka’s depiction matches the characteristic mentioned in the story well. The colors matched the previous book and we get to see Toka’s and Rayner’s shifted forms too.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

ebook, 102 pages
Published: August 16, 2017, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781635336597
Edition Language: English

Series: Soldati Hearts
Book #1: The Soldati Prince
Book #2: The Foxling Soldati

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Out of the Shadows by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This story was exactly what I look for in a romance novel.  Exactly. And, oh, how rare it is to find such a story!  Two men who get to know one another, do little things to make each other happy, date, build a friendship, avoid sex as a lubricant to romance, a little wining and dining, spending time with others, and finally a declaration of love—all before getting to the bedroom.  It’s so very rare.  And this story was so very good, I can’t express how much I appreciated the opportunity to spend time with Josh and Christian. 

Josh is a gardener and handyman in a housing complex where a mystery man resides in the first floor corner apartment.  Well, he’s a mystery because no one ever sees him, and they’ve noticed he gets everything delivered—from food to other necessities.  When Josh is promoted to the role of remodeling the apartments, his first assignment is that one, and when he arrives to the quiet of an empty apartment, he’s a little disappointed not to have met the mystery man.  It doesn’t take him long, however, to figure out that the man is there—he’s just hiding behind the locked bedroom door.

Over time, the two converse through the crack of the door, but when Josh arrives early one day and hears a crash in the bathroom, he rushes in to find Christian on the floor with the shower curtain covering his groin and blood flowing from his forehead. But it’s the scars covering half his face, his right arm, and hand that immediately grabs his attention and he instinctively knows he needs to maintain a neutral expression and look at Christian, not his scars.  It’s this instinctive reaction that sets the pace for a friendship to grow between the two.

Ultimately, trust grows as well, and then affection. And then Josh goes out of his way to find a restaurant where he can take Christian to help him make baby steps back into the world.  Christian finds the courage to accept this first date, and then the courage to meet Josh’s best buddies, and to go bowling, and finally, to tell Josh he loves him. 

I can hardly begin to describe how well the author built these characters, infusing them with life and warmth, sweet personalities, and an obvious need for each other.  Christian’s injury and resulting scars was gently handled and clearly portrayed.  Josh’s personality, his humor, his circle of friends, and his slowly developing love for Christian were all so very well done.  This just hit all my buttons and I devoured it like a starving woman.  I’m left with a case of “feel goods” that I hope will last me a while because stories like this don’t come along every day.  Don’t miss out on this one!

The cover by Bree Archer shows a very good-looking man with a hoodie pulled half over his face.  This perfectly represents the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Expected publication: August 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleOut of the Shadows
ISBN139781635338706
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Review: As Big As The Sky by Amy Aislin

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

Sam wants nothing to do with his irresponsible, sarcastic neighbor or does he?

 

Sam McAuley is having a rough start to the summer: Not only is he being sued, but the new guy running the animal rehabilitation center next door has no idea what he’s doing and his runaway chickens constantly end up in Sam’s pristine yard.

 

Everything is temporary for Bo Novak. For as long as he can remember, it’s been one town to the next, one school to the next, one job to the next. Even his current job running his sister’s animal rehab center while she’s away on a four-month leave is temporary. And he does know what he’s doing, thank you very much. Sure, things don’t always run smoothly, but the stick-in-the-mud next door could be a little nicer about it.

 

One overheard conversation, an olive branch, and a baseball game might show these guys that being at odds isn’t really what they want, and that what they want might just be each other.

 

This was a beautiful story and I loved it.  Sam and Bo don’t start out on the right foot due to Sam’s assumptions based on Bo’s sister’s warning before he came but Bo’s heartbreaking moment on the back porch give him some clarity about his neighbor.

 

All Bo wants is a friend, he doesn’t think he will ever find someone who would really love him.  My heart broke for him when he thought about being abandoned by his family and friends.  Seeing him doubt that anything good would happen for him almost made me cry.

 

We get to see the story through both of the MC’s eyes.  I was happy when Sam realized how he was acting toward Bo and quickly made a change getting to know the real man.  He did everything he could to help Bo see himself better but I think that the support of his family towards Bo did even more for him to realize that he is wanted.  I’m still not sure in the end if Bo’s sister had really changed her view of him but I think Bo realized she wasn’t as perfect as he always thought.

 

The cover art by Melody Pond is beautiful and perfect for this story.

 

Sales Links: MLR Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages

Published: August 4, 2017 by MLR Press

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: The Heart of the Lost Star (Tales of the High Court #3) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Kamir is on the verge of losing everything. Knowing full well he can’t meet the ultimatum his parents have issued, he instead finally puts in motion his plans to live completely independent of them. His plans are interrupted, however, by the unexpected return of his despised ex-husband—and thrown even further into upheaval when he ends up comforting the man he’s secretly loved for years.

Jader may not know where he comes from, but he knows where he belongs and what he wants—until he helps rescue some stranded Bentan travelers, one of whom look almost exactly like Jader, throwing his life and everything he thought he knew into tumult. Scared and overwhelmed, Jader flees—and lands unexpectedly in the arms of a man he’s always seen, but never really noticed.

Megan Derr is one of my favorite fantasy authors.  Her Lost Gods series remain at the top of my list of books and series to recommend.  Derr continues to demonstrate why I love her so with series and books like Tales of the High Court and The Heart of the Lost Star, the third story in the series.

Derr has built such an incredible universe through three stories now, threading through more mythology, cultural facts and world geography in each one, enriching each stories foundation, and enlarging our knowledge of the world these characters live in.  Even of the characters themselves.  Here gender isn’t assigned by physiology but chosen by the child when they feel  comfortable enough to choose.  And no parent has the right to force the child to live otherwise.  So Kamir, a male, can bear children, with his own twins of age to choose their own gender and it’s a lovely easy fact of life.

What’s not so easy is how they were born, and Kamir’s ex-husband’s treatment of Kamir and the children.  That is an element here that’s unfortunately too familiar even within a fantasy setting.  But Derr has created in Kamir a truly remarkable character, vulnerable, yet strong in his perseverance, graceful and kind.  Trust me, you’ll fall under Kamir’s spell just as Jader does.  Kamir has a complicated life, one he’s trying to uncomplicate himself, although love has a way of throwing in one more unexpected entanglement.  The same goes for Jader, an adopted Islander who’s now risen to a top position within the Kingdom.  Last thing he expects is his attraction to Kamir and his children, then events happen that throws Jader into turmoil…and more complications ensue for all.

At times this will seem like separate stories, one for Jader who is undergoing his own journey, one for Kamir who is fighting his own battles, and then one for them as a couple. All three stories are emotionally tumultuous, fraught with danger and suspense for each individual and the couple, and yet so full of love, especially towards the end, when it all pays off.  It’s full of adventure, high court politics (never a good thing), and passion.  In other words, a stunning great tale!

And yes we see something of the couples from the other stories as well, a trend I hope will continue because I want to see more of Kamir and Jader too.

If you can’t tell by now this is a book and series I highly recommend.  The writing is fluid and dynamic!  The characters memorable and the situations charged full of action and emotion.  I can’t wait for the next book to appear.  Neither will you once you get started!  Enjoy!

Cover art by JohnCoulthart.com  Love the covers.  It brands the series and works for the story.

Pre sales link:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon to come

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: August 23rd 2017 by Less Than Three
ISBN 1684310601 (ISBN13: 9781684310609)
Edition Language English
Series: Tales of the High Court  (add to Goodreads)

A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: House of Cards (Porthkennack #4) by Garrett Leigh

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Calum Hardy’s life has unravelled. Reeling from the betrayal of a man he once loved, he boards a train heading south, with no real idea where he’s going except a world away from London.

Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.

Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.

There’s a phrase that get’s uttered here whenever Brix or someone feels that a person has been charmed or perhaps conned even by a Lusmoore’s abilities to sway you over, they say “you’ve been Lusmoored”.  That I have by this place and people, this story. Everything about Garrett Leigh’s House of Cards resonates with me.  From the cornish seaside town of Porthkennack (mythically created for this series yet so believably alive), the harsh sea that calls to the residents, bringing them home, the characters Leigh created that I’ll not forget, or their love story that I’ll soon return to, House of Cards is one of those stories that I’ll always love.

In Calum Hardy and Brix Lusmoore, Leigh has created two damaged men that life tore apart and now ten years later throws back together just when each will need them the most.  On the surface, it’s Calum, so desperate for a life raft.  The author makes his pain, his feelings of low or no self esteem vivid, his vulnerability real and aching.  Years of  domestic abuse under the influence of his bullying, dominant boyfriend has reduced him to the point he’s turned everything over to him, finances, beloved tattoo shop…life choices to the event that breaks him and sends him fleeing.  Garrett has us with him every step of the way.

Switching perspectives, we get Brix Lusmoore, in demand tattoo artist and owner of his own shop in the village.  Brix is as full of complexities as they come, with the depth of the sea behind him.  I adore this man and his family.  The Lusmoores are an ancient Cornish family, their roots almost as old as the island rocks, some still carrying on the old ways that have served them so well in the past, ways not terribly legal.  It’s a fine line that Brix walks here with them.  Then there are the chooks, the rescue hens that are a vital element for the story and a tie for the villagers too.  A rescue line that works both ways for more than one person in this story.  Brix has his own pain and secrets to reveal as the title of the story indicates.

There is no quick romance here.  There can’t be under the circumstances.  Both men are too heavily damaged, too much needs to be revealed, too much healing needs to be done.  But it happens, quietly, beautifully and as it should.

The writing is so wonderful, the storytelling flows so naturally that it went by far too quickly in my eyes.  I could have stayed within this universe, within Porthkennack,  helping to rescue more chooks for many more stories.  A book you take to heart will make you feel that way.  House of Cards is one of those.  I highly recommend it!

Cover art by GD Leigh is gorgeous and perfect for the character and setting.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 249 pages
Published July 17th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleHouse of Cards
ISBN 1626495440 (ISBN13: 9781626495449)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPorthkennack #4