A MelanieM Review: Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

In the two novellas that make up the third book in the popular Boystown Mysteries private Investigator Nick Nowak works two challenging cases and grapples with an even more challenging personal life.

In Little Boy Boom, Nick’s car explodes when a thief attempts to steal it. Realizing the bomb was meant for him, Nick sets out to discover who wants him dead only to find that the list of possible suspects is longer than he’d like. When he begins to run out of suspects he wonders if the bomb was truly meant for him.

Little Boy Tenor finds Nick investigating the murderer of a church choir’s star tenor, while at the same time his friend Ross asks him to discover the truth behind his lover, Earl Silver’s mysterious death. As he juggles the two cases, he becomes increasingly disturbed by what he learns.

Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton see’s Chi town’s dour, promiscuous private investigator torn between two men and deep into two cases that will impact not only himself on a deeply personal level but those close to him.

The cases have flashes of violence (murder is like that), the people seeking Nick’s help often see the P.I. hunting for clues in the seediest areas of Chicago all the way through Catholic parishes attended by his  estranged family to the haunts of Chicago’s upper society.  There is no where that Nick won’t go in pursuit of answers and a swift sexual hookup. Yes, sex and Nick are inseparable.  He never met a blowjob he didn’t like…mostly.  Even now when maybe, in the back of his mind, the thoughts are poking at him that perhaps he should  change his promiscuous ways. Not that he listens very long.  These are the years when they don’t even use condoms. No precautions are taken.  It’s just one slutfest after another, threeways and drugs included. Until something starts to happen.

Set in the early 80’s, there have been whispers of men falling ill and dying of the “gay flu”.  Then in bits and pieces Nick and various characters start to read about a bigger population, and then more theories as Ross’ lover Earl dies of a mysterious death.  And far worse, Nick’s lover Bert Harker falls ill. As Bert’s physical state deteriorates, both men look for answers and Nick faces his true feelings about Bert and Daniel.  It’s bleak, revealing, and heartrending because we have the  perspective and knowledge of the future.  We know where this particular path will lead them and so many others.  We saw the tiny pieces start to appear in the first two collections.  Small chilling appearances in the narrative that made the reader stop and take a deep breath.  And then go “oh no, please no”.  Because what’s the present for these characters is recent history for us. Inarguable, indisputable, horrific, painful history.  We know what they will live through, and because Marshall Thornton’s brilliant stories has made us care for them, we can’t look away.  We shouldn’t look away.

Their lives are messy, alive, human and so worth reading about.  And they are intertwined with Nick’s cases which will continue to have reverberations down  through the books to come.  It’s all connected, as are all the people you will continue to meet.

Marshall Thornton is weaving a Boystown tapestry of sex, murder, love, AIDS, and life in the 80’s. It’s gritty, dark complicated and ultimately moving.  It’s also not to be missed.

Cover art works for branding the series.  i wish it was more in tone like his Pinx Video series.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published January 9th 2015 (first published June 1st 2011)
ASIN B00QZKR5YS
Edition Language English
Series Boystown #3

Series:

Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREOR

New Book Release Blog Tour: THE NECROMANCER’S RECKONING (THE BEACON HILL SORCERER #3) by S.J. HIMES (excerpt and giveaway)

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 The Necromancers Reckoning Tour Banner

THE NECROMANCER’S RECKONING

THE BEACON HILL SORCERER, BOOK 3

S.J. HIMES

GAY URBAN FANTASY ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 05.27.18

Necromancers Reckoning 

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

 

COVER DESIGN: Kellie Dennis of Book Cover by Design

 

BLURB

Every action has consequences.

For a decade, Angel Salvatore has been the most powerful sorcerer and only necromancer in all the Northeast. Never one to ask permission nor apologies, he has acted with near impunity for years.

Until now.

The High Council of Sorcery has come to Boston, and Angel is their target. Charged with numerous violations of practitioner laws, his freedom and family are placed in jeopardy.

If found guilty, Angel’s apprentice Daniel will be imprisoned to serve out the remaining years of his apprenticeship. Isaac, his brother, is too vulnerable to be left unguarded, and Angel fears for his sanity and health. And Simeon, Elder vampire and Angel’s mate refuses to see Angel convicted under the laws of the Council and his actions to keep Angel free threaten to start a war that could destroy their world. And Angel faces the severest of punishments—the castration of his gifts.

The Council has never cared for the people of Boston, and Angel doubts their motives. They have come for some insidious reason, and it has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with Angel.

Dealing with an impending trial, a wayward ghost, and a grave robbing ring of thieves leaves Angel on the edge. He thinks he may have a handle on things until violence erupts across the city, and a stranger comes to town…a stranger with his own dark powers of necromancy.

This is book 3 of a series, and the previous books should be read first for full enjoyment. Trigger Warnings are on the Copyright Page and can be seen using the Look Inside feature or by downloading a sample of this book.

 

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EXCERPT

“What do you mean, I got a letter?” Angel held his smartphone between his ear and shoulder, fumbling with the keys to his office. It was still dark, and he huffed with impatience, blinking a small orb of hellfire into existence over his hands so he could find the right key. Inserting it into the lock, he opened the door and dismissed the orb, flicking the light switch by the door.

“It was delivered by courier about ten minutes ago,” Daniel replied, his apprentice talking past food. “I had to sign for it. The courier almost didn’t leave it with me until I told him I was your apprentice.”

Angel grumbled to himself, tossing his keys on his desk and grabbing his phone, rubbing the back of his neck. He left his apartment not even ten minutes before, which was only a couple blocks away, so the courier must have shown up right as he was leaving. He frowned, thinking back to the pre-dawn street, and he didn’t recall seeing anyone—not even a car or taxi.

“Well, go ahead and open it,” Angel said, tapping his phone to put it on speaker. Daniel made a happy sound past whatever he was chewing, and Angel snorted out a laugh. He booted up his laptop, looking for the appointment he had that morning at the ass-crack of dawn. Why in the world he thought it would be a good idea to have a private consultation so damn early on a Monday was beyond him. Which was why he decided on waking up everyone he lived with so he could share the misery. Though it was only Daniel since Isaac was at Nevermore and Simeon was at the Tower.

A sharp yelp and swearing came out from the speakers, and Angel laughed. “Papercut?”

“No! It shocked me!” Daniel gasped out, cussing under his breath. “I can’t open it!”

“What do you mean you can’t open it? Just rip it open.”

“I’m trying! Ouch!” Daniel yelped again, and the sounds coming from over the phone were parts hilarious and alarming. “I’m not risking my fingers. You can open it.”

“Who is it from? It might be warded if a courier brought it.”

“Now you tell me,” Daniel muttered, and Angel grinned as he found the appointment time. Daniel was finding his courage and picking up sass lessons from Isaac. His shy apprentice was learning all about sarcasm in the Salvatore household. His appointment was in about five minutes. No time to run back home and get the letter that was singeing his apprentice’s fingers. Daniel recited the address on the letter, “It says, ‘To Angelus Raine Salvatore, Necromancer of Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts. From’…Oh, wow.”

“Who’s it from?”

“The High Council of Sorcery, Bucharest, Romania.”

Angel stood up straight, hands falling away from his laptop. He stared at the phone, the quiet in his office somehow loud, heart pounding in his ears. He looked up at the door as if any second one of the Council enforcers would blast through the doorway, ready to take him into custody for crimes sundry against international sorcery laws. He breathed in, breath shaky, and flexed his fingers. He reached out with his mind, cautiously testing the wards around his office, and there was nothing.

“Angel? Angel!” Daniel squawked over the phone, and Angel snapped free of the tension that held him frozen and snatched up the phone.

“Daniel, my appointment is any minute. Can you bring the letter here? Just hang out in the main room until I’m done if we’ve started when you get here. Wake up Eroch and have him come with you.”

“Um, okay…wake up the fire-breathing lizard, he says.”

“Just pick him up and carry him with you if he doesn’t wake up. He was sleeping on my pillow when I left. Don’t walk over here alone. I’d say hold on to it until I get home, but I have a feeling I need to read that letter as soon as possible.”

“Okay. Can I take a shower first?”

“You better,” Angel chuckled and hung up. Twenty-year-old men needed showers for the sake of everyone.

A knock sounded from the front of the office, and Angel took a deep breath, calming his off-center nerves before heading to answer the door. He was still cautious, sending out his awareness, his wards humming in the recesses of his mind, unmolested. There were two people on the small landing outside his door, their auras muffled by the panel, but they were both practitioners.

Angel opened the door, a polite smile on his face.

“Angelus Salvatore?” asked a tall, bulky man in a dark coat, his face set to glower. Angel lifted a brow, unable to see the person behind the big man. He could see a flash of red hair and a small bit of alabaster skin before the big guy shifted.

“I am,” Angel replied, opening the door wider, stepping back and gesturing them inside. His wards were set to allow strangers inside, but they would dampen any magic cast in this space by strangers or those he blocked. Came in handy when dealing with young sorcerers and unexpected guests. They could still cast, but his magic permeated the space, claiming even the ambient magical energies and stifling spells cast by interlopers. Not much use against a practitioner who used their own reserves, but the more dangerous, higher-ranked practitioners tended to reach outside themselves first before casting.

A tall woman was behind the big guy, slim and covered head to toe in black, from her leather high-heeled boots and ankle-length black pea coat to her black silk scarf and a jaunty, tiny pillbox hat atop titian curls. She was familiar, but the shadows were still dark enough Angel was having difficulty determining her identity. He led them back to his office, gesturing at the chairs in front of his desk. The woman sat, unwinding her scarf, her escort taking a stance beside the office door. Angel turned on the lamps as dawn was taking its time arriving and the room had shadows in inconvenient places.

The woman removed her scarf, putting it on her lap before shrugging from her coat. Her escort stepped forward, taking it from her before returning to his spot by the door. The woman, dressed in a thin black wraparound dress that hugged every slim curve and long line of her body, smiled at Angel. She was pretty, in a very human way, nothing of the fae about her in face or form. Dark green eyes, nothing at all like the brilliant emerald of Simeon’s eyes but arresting enough in their own merits, gazed back at him, glistening with wry humor.

“Lady Kensington,” Angel acknowledged after a moment’s pause, surprised. The recent widow was a wizard and a skilled apothecary who owned and ran Nightshade Apothecary not far from where they sat in Beacon Hill. Angel would see her occasionally in the neighborhood or when he needed supplies between scheduled deliveries. Her husband, Lord Greyson Kensington, died of a heart attack three months ago while shoveling snow off the front stoop of their shop one chilly winter morning.

“Call me Heather, please,” she said, voice melodic and rich, smooth as hot chocolate with a shot of whiskey. Her chin rose as if she was expecting argument. What Angel could remember of her husband, the man was a stickler for propriety and demanded to be addressed by his title, even to friends.

Angel never liked the man.

“Heather,” Angel agreed with a grin, surprising her into smiling back at him. “What can I do for you? And why so early? I would’ve come to the shop.”

“I’m afraid this matter requires a measure of discretion,” Lady Heather replied, twisting her scarf in her fingers. “It’s regarding my late husband.”

Angel paused, thinking. Usually when the recently bereaved came to his door, they wanted either the impossible, like a resurrection, or more commonly, a summoning of the departed spirit. He rarely acquiesced as nothing good could come from repeatedly dialing in to the Other Side. It kept the living from moving on and tormented the souls he would be recalling to this plane.

She must have seen some of these thoughts on his face, as she held up a dainty hand, forestalling his coming denial. “I don’t want you to summon him from the Other Side,” she said, tears gathering on her lashes. Angel waited, curious despite himself. “I want you to find him for me.”

“I’m sorry, I’m not following,” Angel said warily, hoping she didn’t cry. Isaac or Daniel breaking down he hated but knew what to do, a near stranger crying left him awkward.

“The shop was broken into three nights ago,” Lady Heather said quickly, words tumbling over themselves as she hurried to explain. “I heard the commotion from my apartment upstairs, but by the time the police arrived, it was too late.”

“What did they steal?” Angel was trying to follow along, he really was, but he had no idea what a burglary would have to do with her deceased husband.

“They stole him,” Lady Heather said, digging out a handkerchief from her tiny black purse. She dabbed at her eyes, miraculously not smearing her mascara.

Angel frowned. “I’m going to need you to spell this out for me.”

“The thieves stole Greyson’s ghost. I need you to find him.”

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AMAZON US – THE BEACON HILL SORCERER SERIES

AMAZON UK – THE BEACON HILL SORCERER SERIES

SJ Himes Logo

I’m a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I’m at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with occasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that’s perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), The Wolfkin Saga, and the epic fantasy romance series Realms of Love. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on…. I’m a nomad, and I’ve yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.

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

Website: https://www.sjhimes.com/en

 

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A MelanieM Review: Pack Up Your Troubles by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4. 75 stars out of 5

A collection of WWI stories from Charlie Cochrane.

THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE
An officer thinks he finds love in the trenches, but is it really waiting for him on the home front?

HALLOWED GROUND
A doctor and an army chaplain spend the night in a foxhole and discover there’s hope even in the darkest situations

MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION
And an old soldier discovers that there are romantic problems to solve even after you’ve cashed in your chips.

If you have ever read any of Charlie Cochrane’s historical novels, you know not only of her intense interest in WWI but her incredible ability to bring it vividly to life. To take not only the years that encompass WWI but those that preceded it as well as the years afterward where the impact on the survivors who came in many forms, and those who remembered shaped the course of many nations and weave it memorably into her stories.

When it comes to WWI and the men who went to battle, whether they were officers or those on the front line, she takes us into their lives in the trenches.  We feel their fear, their hopes, the lives shattered in a split second and get that war is ugly, anonymous, and death has many faces.  We feel both the intimacy of the men and their yearning for home.

And their fear for it as well.

All of that makes THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE my favorite story of the three. Five stars plus as it takes us directly into the battlefield as well as the mens live before and post war.  It’s grim, the men undergo live changing experiences, and loss.  The characters are people we hurt for, believe in, and finally feel relief and happiness there at the end.  It’s an amazing story and so well written you can almost hear the sounds of battle ringing in your ears.

Next up is my second  favorite, also because of the realism and ability of the author to open her character’s up and expose their vulnerabilities…to each other and her readers in such a way that’s touching and authentic given the circumstances.  Such a moving story.  Again 5 stars for HALLOWED GROUND.  The author got the inspiration from visiting a chapel and those details carry over into the story.

The stories go from the most grim and realistic working their way towards an almost supernatural story,  MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION, that’s hard to describe.  Here the author plays with the lines between the afterlife and the living and two soldiers from different eras with a mission to accomplish.  It’s lighter in tone with WWI still but for me, there were some missing elements as the end where we didn’t find out what happened to a character or two. So  the addition of this story with the other two just didn’t completely work for me.

Now I know from the author’s guest blog that the three stories titles all came from WWI poems.  If you’re interested, check out more of Charlie Cochrane’s guest post on the subject here.  I myself am a fan of Siegfried Sassoon, another WWI author and poet as well as Wilfred Owen who the author loves so much.

I highly recommend this remarkable collection as well as the other historical novels by Charlie Cochrane.  The author has a way of putting you next to these men, letting you feel their experiences, empathize with their conditions and lives that will leave an impact on you long after the book is over.

Cover art is  perfection with the use of poppies,a symbol of Remembrance from famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.  against the white background.  Blood red.  Haunting indeed.

Sales Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 9th 2018 by Williams & Whiting
ASINB07CZKTX6G

A Stella Review: Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R Cooper

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

 

Jerry Candelario, known as Potts to almost everyone, has spent his entire adult life focused on raising his siblings and his niece. But the home he fought hard to make feels empty since everyone has grown up and moved out, and his precious baby niece is now a teen with a life of her own. With fewer people at the dinner table every night, Jerry suddenly has all the time in the world to think about what he wants. For years, Jerry has kept to himself, never going to college, never dating or doing anything with his evenings except getting lost in a book. But although he pushed aside his longing for community and romance, he never stopped imagining the freedom he might have in a distant someday. Then kind, clever, and out Lincoln Lee opened a bakery in Jerry’s small town. Jerry told himself he was lucky when they became friends. He was too busy to try for a relationship, and someone like Lincoln would never want someone like him anyway. But now that Jerry’s nights are free, all he wants to do is spend them with Lincoln. Jerry knows nothing about gay culture, or dating, or being in love. With Lincoln, he wants to try, but is he making a fool of himself or is his someday finally here?

 

Oh, this story! I could reread it a thousand times and it will always give me the same lovely emotions. Maybe because I understand Potts so well, maybe because Lincoln’s patience is what I look for in my lovers, maybe simply because the book is wonderful.

I have to say, although my relationship with the author previous works is a hit or miss, my love for her words continues and with this new release I was hugely rewarded. There was nothing I didn’t like in Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut, I found everything perfectly put in the right place and moment, every scene so well balanced with feelings, smiles and some tears. I soon emphasized with all the characters, I loved them all and so wanted to have them in my RL. Potts’ family is a mess, but his love for his sister, nice and dad is endless and so deep, it came strongly through his words and thoughts. He put himself and his needs before all his family’s needs and now for once he seems ready to start thinking just a little about his desire for Lincoln.

I adored their relationship, how Lincoln was so welcoming and open with Potts, although sometimes he seemed to be resigned to be just a friend and nothing more, he never gave up on the possibility to be loved as more than just a friend.

I want to recommend this new release by R. Cooper to everyone who is looking for a story deeply packed with feelings and positivity, It’s a light quick read but not a shallow one, not even for a second. Most of all it felt real and believable. Well done!

The cover art by Erin Gamble is lovely, fitting and kind of soft like the story is.

SALE LINKS:  Amazon   

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition

Published June 2nd 2018

ASIN B07DH5B7CW

Edition Language English

 

A Vvivacious Review: Twenty-One Arrow Salute (The Order #2.5) by Kasia Bacon

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Rating: 5 *can’t wait for more* Stars out of 5

Verhan Tŭrryés loose of tongue and looser of morals finds himself blackmailed into helping Hernan Seinnès the green eyed auburn haired Asirhwӱnian in a unit composed entirely of Highlanders.

As Verhan starts to train Hernan he finds himself exquisitely drawn to him, a whole horde of unknown feelings finding residence in his heart but will he find the courage in his heart to own up to his feelings…

I really love these elves and their shenanigans. God! I want another story with Verhan and Hernan. I really can’t believe that we didn’t get more of these two in this one. I need, I physically need the story about what happens at the Archer’s Fete. You can’t entice us with the most exquisitely set buffet and then slam the doors just when we are salivating and drooling all over the floor. That’s just unfair. At this point, I don’t even know what I want more Ervyn and Lochan or Verhan and Hernan. Can I just have more of both, pretty please?

Now that that’s over, let me get into a more wordy review compared to the squeefest above. For those like me who have completely forgotten the names of all the characters, let me reiterate. Verhan Tŭrryés is Ervyn’s annoying cousin, annoying is my adjective as far as my assessment of him in the first two Order books goes. He is the guy who tells/informs Lochan what mu’hrōnye means and what its special significance to Ervyn is.

Hernan Seinnès is the guy at the trials who is trying, trying being the operative word, to get a position with the scouts by competing with Ervyn. Basically, the guy who lost at the end of Highlander to Ervyn.

Now that that’s out of the way let’s get on with this review. So yeah, I had completely forgotten the names of these two characters which didn’t bode well for me but considering how long its been since I read “Highlander” coupled with the fact that the unusual spellings of their names really trip me up, I am actually having a hard time remembering anyone’s names in the Order Universe not that I don’t remember their characteristaions. Like someone just had to tell me that Verhan was Ervyn’s annoying cousin and I would have remembered because I guess in the Order Universe I am so so partial to Ervyn and Lochan tthat I basically can recall anything when you relate it to them. So yeah, I had my apprehensions but I sometimes really wonder why Kasia Bacon has delivered excellence time and again and so far as this Order series is going she can do no wrong because wow! I was so drawn into this story.

Verhan has a lot of growing up to do but I liked seeing him do it right in front of my eyes though I somehow came to like him even at his mischievious best, it was amazing. Hernan was the character who really rose in my eyes, he was not a character we were introduced to in Highlander but God! in this story I fell in love with him just as quickly as Verhan does.

This was so so good and God! that first kiss. I can’t believe we didn’t get any more of those tender moments between these two. Please don’t let this be the end for these two.

I loved this one so so much. Meeting these two characters along with all the interesting side characters and getting to know them was amazing. This was such a simple tale of love but it was almost magical in the feels.

I can’t *clapping my hands in glee* wait for more.

Also, will we finally get to see Ervyn buy a horse for Lochan in the Scouts because you just can’t have Verhan mention that particular custom twice in two successive books without there being some hidden meaning to it. Right?

Cover Art by Ying Draws. What an amazing cover! That is Hernan Seinnès on the cover and he is gorgeous.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published June 11th 2018 by Kasia Bacon
ASINB07DDL4RNW
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Order #2.5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Damage Control (Laws of Attraction #1) by Kate McMurray

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Senate candidate Parker Livingston chose his political dreams over a future with the man he loved. He lives with constant regret about not having Jackson Kane in his life. Or in his bed. And when a strange woman is found dead in Parker’s apartment, Jackson is the only person Parker trusts to help clear his name.

Jackson never forgave Parker for the way their relationship ended. He moved on, built a name for himself as a criminal defense attorney, and swore he’d never let heartbreak back in. But when Parker shows up on his doorstep, wild-eyed and handsome and desperate for his help, Jackson can’t say no. Parker is a lot of things, but he’s no murderer.

I absolutely loved the characters in this story. Each was well-developed and their personality was spot-on with their role in life, up to and including Parker’s campaign manager, Martha. Neither Jackson nor Parker is a yes man to the other. They disagree on politics and the economy and aren’t afraid to debate their ideas, opinions, and experiences. I wanted to dislike Parker because he basically just walked out on Jackson after they’d lived together for a few years, but because of the author’s time and patience in developing his personality and making him a living example of his political ideals, I was able to see why he left. Jackson was strong and yet the wounded one in their initial relationship—always thinking of the best ethical next step and questioning his moral judgment—a very likable character.

The host of secondary characters were also important to the plot and the underlying mystery and suspense added to the drama that culminated in the crisis in the latter portion of the story. The resolution for the question of whether or not Parker would come out and put Jackson ahead of his campaign was not one that was easily guessed by this reader. Without giving spoilers, suffice it to say that mystery was kept tight-lipped to the end.

I also appreciated the author’s depth of knowledge, and the obvious research she did, on economic topics and the political aspects of both parties—those that are more conservative and those that are more liberal. Health care, the economy, law—all were well-structured and supported in the story. In other words, it was evident the author took time to get facts and didn’t just enclose the MCs in a bubble that focused only on the couple themselves. The romance was there and the sex scenes were hot, but it was expertly woven in to a politically astute and dramatically intriguing story.

Very highly recommended.

~~~

Cover is done as a black-and-white photo of two men in suits—one leaning on a post toward the rear and the other in the front appearing to be opening his suit jacket. Though I normally don’t like black-and-white covers, this one is perfect for the story and the characters.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: June 18th 2018 by Carina Press
ISBN139781488099519
Edition LanguageEnglish

Real Life and the Blog. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Real Life and the Blog.

Happy Father’s Day!

It’s short today.  As it sometimes happens real life interferes with the blog.  Between vet visits and Father’s Day, dog instructions, medications and plans, well, sigh, where did the time go?

I’ve been busy bathing dogs and celebrating with my father.  I hope everyone has had a full and happy day. So life is a bit frazzled and scattered today.  It will come together tomorrow.  In the meantime.  Check out all the marvels that await you this week and know we (sigh, I) will be pulling it together.

Enjoy!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 17:

  • Father’s Day! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 18:

  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Bru Baker on  Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2
  • Review Tour – Annabelle Jacobs – Butterfly Assassin
  • Review Tour – Overtime – V.L. Locey Signal Boost Promotions
  • An Alisa Review: Stowaway Heart by Suede Delray
  • A MelanieM Review:  Butterfly Assassin by Annabelle Jacobs
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Recruit by Addison Albright
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Damage Control by Kate McMurray

Tuesday, June 19:

  • DSP Promo Payne/Tortuga
  • Blog tour the Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey
  • New Release Tour for Murder, Romance, and Two Shootings by Todd Allen Smith
  • A Lucy Review: The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey
  • A VVivacious Review: Just A Week by Jena Wade
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2) by Bru Baker
  • A Stella Review: Home Skillet (Culinary Kings #1) by Cate Ashwood & Sandra Damien

Wednesday, June 20:

  • BLITZ for The Merchant’s Love by Antonia Acquilante
  • Demon Familiar by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham -Book Blitz and Review
  • DSP Promo Sandine Tomas
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Denim by KC Wells
  • A MelanieM Review: Demon Familiar by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham
  • A VVivacious Review Just A Year by Jena Wade
  • AN Alisa Review: Expecting (Pine Wood Falls #1) by Sarah Havan

Thursday, June 21:

  • DSP Promo KA Mitchell
  • DSP Publications Promo Michael Ruptured
  • Release Blitz Expecting by Sarah Havan
  • A Jeri Review Wash Out (Anchor Point #7) by LA Witt
  • A MelanieM Review: Life Itself by Elizabeth Bones
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Wolf (Wayward Wolves #1) by Rhys Ford and Derrick McClain Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Review: Three More Nick Nowak Mysteries (Boystown #2) by  Marshall Thornton

Friday, June 22:

  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Andrew Grey
  • Falling Awake 2 by Kage Alllen Indigo Blog Tour
  • Release Day Blitz Something About You by Riley Hart
  • A MelanieM Review: Pack Up Your Troubles by Charlie Cochrane
  • A Stella Review Catch Me by Beth Bolden
  • An Alisa Release Day Review:Mystic Man by E.J. Russell
  • A Melanie Audiobook Review Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn/Kirt Graves (Narrator

Saturday, June 23:

  • RELEASE BLITZ – Professor Hot Pants by Ember-Raine Winters\
  • The Necromancer’s Reckoning by SJ Himes Blog Tour

A MelanieM Review: The River City Chronicles by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

I always seek out an author’s forward, if there is one, before start into a book.  It often gives me insight into the writer’s mindset when laying out their story and characters, even the inspiration behind the origins of the tale.  In this case I got that and more.

J. Scott Coatsworth’s love for his adopted city of Sacramento, the River City of the title and setting here, is deeply established and he lets us know exactly why it’s so ingrained that its almost a living character here in The River City Chronicles. Close behind it?  Coatsworth’s love for Italian language which he speaks and teaches,  Italian cooking, and the style and format of ‘Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City.

The author has gathered up all these elements, given them a mighty swirl, tossed together with his own marvelous imagination and a dose of magical realism and come up with The River City Chronicles by J. Scott Coatsworth.  What a magical heartwarming glorious blend it is!

It all starts off with Matteo and Diego, a married couple recently arrived from Italy.  They’ve reopened a restaurant where one of their relative’s old Italian restaurants was but the new one isn’t being received very well.  It’s called Ragazzi, meaning ‘the boys’.  But a bit a magic is about to  happen when one gets the  idea for a cooking class that brings in an odd mixture of people in various stages of their life and circumstances.

The very idea of a cooking class, one where you can almost smell the ingredients, plunge your hands into the dough, get wafts of the aroma of vanilla, the heat of the ovens…its a experience that just conjures up memories.  Which is exactly what the author does here with vivid descriptions and later on wonderful recipes you will be jotting down to try.  It, the  preparation, the cooking, the memories and yes, perhaps the magic, start to intertwine these peoples lives and ours until I was barely aware of the time going by outside of the story.

And oh these people, because that’s what they became to me.  Each person, each couple, carrying their troubles, burdens, voids in their hearts where children or family should be, others looking for love or asking for the approval to move on with their lives to love once more.  All the characters here are so beautifully created, so multidimensional that they are all on equal footing.  Each and every one is so important to the story and will gain equal measure in your heart.  It’s a large cast but it simply doesn’t matter.  You invest yourself completely in their lives and their stories.  You hurt with them, you laugh with them…the entire spectrum of emotion will be trotted out here between the kids thrown out of their homes to the May/December romances and  so much more.

The River City Chronicles is a rich tapestry of lives…messy, complicated, wonderful, human lives.  It’s filled with love, cooking, Italy through the language and recipes, and the singular location of Sacramento.  And I can’t get enough of it.

I want more of it.

Like visiting that restaurant you have picked out as yours and visit over and over because the food is perfect, the atmosphere warm and welcoming, the people inside familiar and everything about the place makes you anticipate an evening that  will fill your heart with love and memories.  That’s how The River City Chronicles makes me feel as well.  I hope that J. Scott Coatsworth feels that there’s more tales to tell here.  I certainly hope so.  Raguzzi is doing so well, so are the cooking classes.  Who knows who will show up next?  Scott, are you listening?

Trust me, this book is magical.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art is beautiful.  It’s dark, magical an lovely.  I love it.

Sales Links: iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, First, 380 pages
Published May 30th 2018 by Other Worlds Ink
ISBN 1732307513 (ISBN13: 9781732307513)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Made in Portugal (Made In #1) by Ana Newfolk

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

At 10 years old Joel was uprooted from his home and everything he knew in Portugal to start a new life in the States. At 26 he finds himself returning for the first time in thirteen years. So what if looking into the eyes of his childhood best friend again still makes his heart race out of his chest?

Living in sunny, laid-back Portugal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For David, dreams of being a pastry chef come second to working in his family’s café where his renowned custard tarts draw in the crowds. Seeing Joel brings old feelings back. Feelings he’s not sure he’s brave enough to acknowledge to anyone other than himself.

With the inspiration of an old travel journal, the two friends embark on a real journey through memories in a country where looking back into the past runs as deep as the blood that courses through their veins.

Falling in love was never meant to be a stop along the way, but maybe inevitable when you have the adventurous spirit and courage to pursue what you want, make love under the stars and even figure out how to jumpstart an old Citroen 2CV in the middle of the Alentejo countryside.

I really enjoyed Made in Portugal (Made In #1) by Ana Newfolk.   The author managed to bring the country of Portugal alive for me as a reader on so many levels while never losing sight of her oh so connectable romance between two best friends given a second chance at everything they ever hoped for.  The first in a series apparently, Made In Portugal takes us into the the dynamics and intertwined relationships of two families that has stretched over the decades.  It started in a village in Portugal where Joel was born to a Portuguese mother and an American  father, a place where he left broken hearted at age 10 because his parents had to move to the US, and is now finally returning at age 26 to lay their ashes to rest.

It is also the story of David, that best of friends he left behind, the one he shared his first kiss with,  The one whose mother was best friends with his mother and whose family has always been tied up  with his.  All of these families, all of these people await Joel and the reader when his plane lands.  And it actually begins at the rental car station.

The author starts to create an immediate sense of the familiar and homecoming for Joel and the reader when things go wrong with his rental car.  I  won’t spoil it but Newfolk’s ability to have secondary believable characters have meaningful interactions that leave you with warm happy thoughts of what will lie ahead?  Oh yes!  Then you know you are in good hands indeed.

This story is also about family, coming home, coming out, rediscovering love, taking journeys, and finding out exactly where your home lies….yes, all that.  And the author does a spectacular job.  The writing is smooth, the dialog realistic with Portuguese linguistic touches that makes you feel as though you are in the country, and the relationship dynamics work as well.  Its poignant, conflicted, and all family.

I felt I knew these men at the end.  And their mothers.  And truly all the rest of their family.  It takes everyone and a ancient Citroen called Ladybug to finally let Joel and David see their way to their HEA and their home.  But that journey they take?  It’s one you shouldn’t miss.  It made me want to take a flight to a place I haven’t been in years to soak up the sun, the love and laughter, the warmth and family that’s exuded from the pages of this story.  I know I can just find it  if only I can rent a Citroen named Ladybug.

Yes, I do highly recommend this story.  Grab it up now.

Cover art by Jay Aheer:  I like this cover, except only one of the models matches the  characters. Joel is blond  unlike David. But the colors and composition is lovely and bright.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Made In Portugal is a 74000 word gay romance novel with a happy ever after ending.
It is the first in a series but can be read as a standalone.

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 231 pages
Published June 1st 2018
Original TitleMade in Portugal
ASINB07DH27RR1
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesMade In #1

A MelanieM Review: Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

What a startling fantasy story Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves turned out to be.  Dark, incredibly imaginative, not always enjoyable (trust me), with a universe so full that it needs more information to be complete in its foundation, and characters that both stymy and border on the profound,  this novel will leave you muttering and loving it long after you have turned off the Kindle.

Where to start?  Forget about any romance.  There isn’t any.  But there are characters who love each other deeply, which here constitutes a clear danger to each other.  For love is a pathway for horror in this case… or not.  Here both can and does happen simultaneously. And work out in ways which at the end leaves you with your mouth flapping open.

It’s a tale of two brothers on different paths…except that every time you think you have this story figured out, the author flips it on its head with a deeper, unrevealed arc.  There are more threads here than an ancient Turkish tapestry and more I expect that are coming as this is but book one.

The characterizations are amazing, the plotlines convoluted and dark and the elements here are often shocking when it comes to relationships (pain filled).   I said this novel was dark and often gritty.

I will tell you that a couple of times I almost stopped reading as I was upset with things that happened to several main characters.  Unpleasant things happen hear. Violent things.  Not rape,  but painful actions (non con) and if that is a trigger, that one if forced to act against his will, then this is not the book for you.  Because it will stay that   way over the series.

That’s not to say there isn’t the occasional moment of tenderness here.  But its fleeting and rare.

What a book Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves is.  Filled not with your kindly glowing elves or with  rainbow sparkling unicorns but with Fae far more fiendish and unicorns of your nightmares. This book is bloody, wild, scary, and hugely wonderful in a poignant, twisted wowser sort of way.  I highly recommend it but not to all.  It’s not to everyone’s tastes.  But if you are an adventurous reader, love your fantasy, and love some startling twists and turns in dark novels?  Here is just the thing for you.

 

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  I like the cover but honestly any ocver would fall short because of this storyline.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 268 pages
Published April 23rd 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608527
Edition LanguageEnglish