A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Salt Magic Skin Magic by Lee Welch

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Good heavens, this was outstanding! I’m shocked that a new author could produce such an in-depth, riveting, complex, historical drama like this. Every single page was better than the one before it.

The characters were complex and their relationship understated enough that it was woven into the fabric of the story but was not the most important part of this epic tale.

Soren, Lord Thornby, has been trapped on his father’s isolated country estate. No matter what he tries, he can’t seem to get beyond the boundaries. Dragged there from London with only the clothes on his back, he can’t figure out why his father has him all but chained in. In fact, it’s very odd that his entrapment isn’t physical—it’s more mental in that he forgets why he wants to leave once he’s at the border.

When John Blake, an industrial magician, arrives to investigate a claim of witchcraft, he finds much more. It appears that some dark evil force is driving Sir Dalton, Soren’s father, and it’s so unique that even John can’t tap into the source. All he knows is that Thornby is in very grave danger, and when he takes it upon himself to drag Thornby over the border, the results are disastrous and they must return without delay.

The men become involved in a story of intrigue that dates back to a time before Soren was born, to the moment his father met his mother in the North. There’s magic in the air and in order for the men, who find themselves attracted to one another, to solve the mystery, they may need to risk both their lives.

There’s no way to adequately describe this story except to say that the author has created an exceptional tale—very reminiscent of the work of KJ Charles—and this one is most definitely going to be nominated as my favorite debut of 2018. There’s so much here that I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to read it for review. Honestly, I can’t even begin to find words to encourage everyone to immediately get to the bookstore or hit that one-click button. This is simply not to be missed.

~~~

The drawn cover features all the key elements to this story: the handsome lord, the magician who saves him, the sigil, the pelt, and the ocean. Very bright and attractive, it’s perfect for this book.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book details:

ebook, 241 pages
Published August 9th 2018 by Lee Welch
ISBN139780473444518
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Love in Spades (Four Kings Security #1) by Charlie Cochet and Greg Boudreaux (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When the cards are stacked against you, the Kings will even the odds.

Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.

As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future….

Charlie Cochet’s stories are usually piled on my TBR list, so getting to listen to them is a wonderful way for me to enjoy this author’s writing.  Love in Spades is the first in Cochet’s new Four Kings Security series and based on my total enjoyment in this story, I’m highly anticipating the next tale to be released.

The four kings of the series are ex-military men, a tight band of brothers, who have gone into the security business together after their military service ended.  The “kings” tag each  is given comes from the deck of cards and the full story behind the names is slowly revealed over the course of this action/adventure tale.

The first “King” up to get his story and HEA is Anston “Ace” Sharpe.  The Four Kings Security firm is well known in high circules for their discretion, superb ability to get things done, high  attention to detail, and 100 percent accuracy.  They get the job done. So their skills are known and wanted by corporations and individuals around the world.  Their newest assignment is one  Colton Connolly, who’s father has hired them to guard him against every increasing threats.  To say Colton is resistant to their hiring and protection, is mild indeed.

Cochet does the meet and clash of personalities beautifully between Ace and Colton.  The dialog sparkles and pops with testosterone and sex, the scenes snap with instant attraction, irritation, and amusement, and the characters solidify before our eyes. Or should that be  ears?

This push and pull between the two men continues throughout the story as they learn to work together as discover more of each other’s pasts as well.  This is where the reader learns more about the Four Kings start up, revelations about Ace’s past along with his “brothers” like Lucky, Red, and King.

I want to stop for a moment and talk about the amazing job that Greg Boudreaux does as a narrator.  He swings between characters so easily, capturing different personalities with changes in voices,even accents and languages, that you would think you were listening to multiple actors, and not just one.  I have to laugh out loud at his “Lucky”, I can see him so clearly, from his love of clothes to his accent.  But it’s also Red, King, Laz, and other important (and even strong fleeting characters) that Boudreaux voices so well that makes an impact on the reader and pulls this story forcibly together as an audiobook.

As the mystery unfold as to who is stalking Colton and the passion intensifies between the men, the action ramps up. The suspense and action go up tenfold, with Greg Boudreaux keeping pace, making our pulse race with anticipation and a little fear.

The final scenes are just out of control. I just loved them.  I did nothing but lay in bed  listening to this story unfold and hoping for the best outcome.  Which came of course.

Terrific ending.  Great story.  Love, love the narrator.  Now I can’t wait to see what the next King brings.  I’m gong to wait for the audio version.  This has quite spoiled me.

I highly recommend it.  For all you fans of Charlie Cochet, I’m sure you will have picked up the eBook first.  For M/M action/adventure romance, if you haven’t done so, I recommend this version too.  I just loved it.

Cover art is perfect for the character of Ace.  It’s eye  catching and works for the story too.

Audiobook Sales Links:

Audible.com 💛 Amazon 💛 iTune

Audiobook Details:

7 hours, 52 mins

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published June 20th 2018 by Charlie Cochet (first published April 21st 2018)
Original TitleLove in Spades
ASINB07DVXHWYT
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Love-in-Spades-Audiobook/B07DVXHWYT
SeriesFour Kings Security #1
CharactersAnston “Ace” Sharpe, Ward “King” Kingston, Russell “Red” McKinley, Eduardo “Lucky” Alejandro Morales, Jacopo “Jack” Lorenzo Constantino, Sacha “Joker” Wilder

We Missed National Book Day? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Apparently we here (well, me, haven’t talked to the others) missed National Book Day which was 2 or 3 days ago. Mea Culpa!  Of course, every day here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is book day but I like to think we help to celebrate books every chance we get!  So I went looking for the actual information and found out lots about book celebrations throughout the year and  all over the world.  Pretty cool stuff actually.

And of course, thought you all should know about it.  So here it is.  And it helps me to remember that September is National Literacy Month.  We normally see Charity Anthologies appear to help support LGBTQIA youth in need during that month. LGBTQIA shelters, local PFLAG Youth YA libraries (yep, they exist), and so much more.  September will be here before you know it. So if you have any local shelters (addresses etc) to contribute, please send them in.  We keep a list going.

Book Day Celebrations – Days-Weeks and Months! These are the approximate dates as they can change every year:)

  • World Book Days by country
  • January is National Book Month
  • Third full week in January is National Book Week
  • Last full week in January is Celebrity Read a Book Week
  • February 23 – Printed Book Day
  • March 2 – Unesco World Book Day
  • March 2 – UK World Book Day
  • March 28 – Children’s Picture Book Day
  • April 2 – International Children’s Book Day
  • April 16 – Book-of-the-Month Club Birthday
  • April 23 – World Book Days by country
  • April 3 through May 6 – Children’s Book Week
  • June is AudioBook Month
  • September is National Literacy Month
  • September is when the annual 2 day National Book Festival is held
  • American Library Association (ALA) Banned Book Week is the last week of September
  • October is National Book Month per National Book Foundation
  • October is National Information Literacy Awareness Month
  • First full week in October is Great Books Week
  • December is Read a New Book Month

Saturday things Redux!

We sent out a call for reviewers.  Check out the post here.  And then contact either Stella or myself about reviewing for us. If you love books, this is the place to be!

Review Redux!  I reviewed Forged in Flood by Dahlia Donovan on Saturday.  I think it’s her finest story yet.  And it’s a tough one to read on many levels.  Three men, a triad, lost everything, when they drove drunk after graduating from university.  That subject matter alone will get people.  It cost them their future in rugby due to disabilities, and each other due to a deep abiding guilt, shame, rage, and more.  This is the story back to each other.  Just amazing.  Did I say it was only 130 pagesI have to agree that there seems to be a lot of diversity in this day and age than there was maybe five, ten, or fifteen years ago. There’s a lot of gay couples surfacing on tv dramas these days and in books asexual, pansexual, demisexual individuals are being written in as main characters and have their own stories whereas a several years ago those terms weren’t present in m/m fiction (well none of the fiction I read). Even in the media there are celebrities who are coming out as gay, pansexual, bi, etc.

Representation and Romance Stories.

We’ve been talking about the increasing LGBTQIA representation in fiction and here are some of the comments from two of our readers:

H.B. “I have to agree that there seems to be a lot of diversity in this day and age than there was maybe five, ten, or fifteen years ago. There’s a lot of gay couples surfacing on tv dramas these days and in books asexual, pansexual, demisexual individuals are being written in as main characters and have their own stories whereas a several years ago those terms weren’t present in m/m fiction (well none of the fiction I read). Even in the media there are celebrities who are coming out as gay, pansexual, bi, etc.”

Ami: “As an asexual and aromantic reader, it warms my heart that ACE/ARO have started to be represented in romantic fiction.

Having said that, I still feel that it is mostly focused ONLY in the LGBTQIA books or genre. In my own opinion, it’s not enough. Yes, ACE falls in the queer spectrum, but there are a number of ACE who also identify themselves as heteroromantic asexuals. I guess until I see more ace representatives in MF romance, not just Queer romance, I still think there’s room of improvements.

Lately, I see more “diversity” in mainstream romance more focused on race — meaning representing non-White people. I think it’ll be nice to see more MF romance with trans* as well, or heteroromantic pansexual, or even bisexual in MF romance.”

 

I agree with you both.  I want to see diversity as the norm, not as something we need to point at as a goal.  Or even to the point its past mentioning.  Wouldn’t that  be lovely?

Alas and alac…I can’t even get through an audiobook where someone states things like “acting like a teenage girl”.  Really?  Maybe teenagers, yes.  But   can’t we at least bury the sexist phrases?  I’m so done with stuff like that. “Maning up” “Acting like a girl”….all the poisonous ways we demean the sexes, divide the genders.  So maybe we still have a long way to go in a lot of ways.  But I will take whatever forward motion however miniscule.  Positivity!

Sigh.

Now to this  week at the blog.

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, August 12:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • We Missed National Book Day?

Monday, August 13:

  • DSP Cover Reveal Gateway to Love by Sarah Hadley Brooke
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Liv Olteano
  • Release Blitz – Michelle Woody’s Merrick The Art Thief
  • Release Day Blitz To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen
  • An Alisa Review An Arranged Mating by Jane Wallace-Knight
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Love in Spades (Four Kings Security #1) by Charlie Cochet and  Greg Boudreaux (Narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: A Courageous Ride (The Bullriders#3) by Andrew Grey and John Solo (Narrator)

Tuesday, August 14:

  • DSP Cover Reveal Calculated Magic by SJD Peterson
  • Release Blitz – Sky Full Of Mysteries – Rick R Reed
  • Release Blitz – Bitten By Her (Regent’s Park Pack #4.5) – Annabelle Jacobs
  • An Alisa Review:Exercising Restraint (Different Dynamics #2) by Tamir Drake
  • A VVivacious Review : Sky Full Of Mysteries by Rick R Reed
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Super for You Bad for Me by Asta Idonea

Wednesday, August 15:

  • Something About Us by Riley Hart Release Blitz
  • Series Review Tour for Revving It Up Series by W.S. Long
  • Review Tour – Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • Release Blitz –  Boyfriend Or Bust by Claire Castle
  • A MelanieM Review: Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • An Ali  Review: To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen
  • A MelanieM Review: Gifts Given (Boystown #10) by Marshall Thornton

Thursday, August 16:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: To See The Sun by Kelly Jensen
  • DSP Publications Promo Jayne Lockwood
  • Promo Jackie North on Shoulder Season (World of Love)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Salt Magic Skin Magic by Lee Welch
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review: Love You so Hard (Love You So Stories #1) by Tara Lain and Narrator: Ry Forest / Stephen Kurpis (Vitruvian Sound)
  • A MelanieM Review:  Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories by Andrea Speed

Friday, August 17:

  • DSP Promo Sean Michael
  • DSP Promo Charley Descoteaux
  • Blog Tour Don’t Let Go by Andrew Grey
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Tempt Me by Remmy Duchene
  • A Lucy Review: Challenging Chance (Love Letters #3) by Anyta Sunday

Saturday, August 18:

  • Blog Tour for Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood
  • A MelanieM Review: Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood

—— Reviewers Wanted——

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—— Reviewers Wanted——

 

 

Love to read?  Want to share your opinion with other readers on the stories you’ve read?  Find a new author you absolutely adore?  These are the things we want our reviewers to share with our readers….

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is looking for a few reviewers to join our happy international family of reviewers and wonder if it could be you!  All genres. all book formats, audio and ebook, and all parts of the  Rainbow spectrum….we want you.

Never reviewed before?  Look at one of our reviews  to see the format we use.  It’s also written up under Rating Scale and Review Info.  Send us a sample of a review of a book you’ve recently read to scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com

Review as little or as much as your schedule allows. We are flexible.  Contact Melanie or Stella at the email address above.

We are happy to answer your questions!

A MelanieM Review: Forged in Flood by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

When one drunken night forever scars three best friends, will they ever find a way to pick up the pieces?

Eaten up with guilt, Ivan Black spends ten years hiding from the world. He retreats to his family forge to wallow in misery. Alone. So lonely his heart aches with it.

Wesley Cook and Rolland Spence have been together since university. They struggle through the physical scars of the accident, building a life in the ruins of their dreams. They find happiness but continue to miss their angry ginger Viking—Ivan.

In all the anger of wasted years, the three men find a way to forge a relationship as hot as the fires in the smithy.

I’ve long been a fan of the novels of Dahlia Donovan, but Forged in Fire may be her best story yet.  It is a deeply moving love story between three men who lost each other and their chance at major careers in rugby directly after the university. Young men drove drunk and disastrously crashed, rolling the car, ending their triad through grievous injuries and the guilt one still carries to this day.  That would be the driver Ivan.

All this we learn in bitter bits and pieces one wet, flooded night as the waters rise about the village of Boscastle and Ivan’s family’s forge high on the hill.  It’s over a decade after the accident and “Ivan the Terrible” as his family calls him has fully retreated from life to his forge, shutting off all contact, including the two men who used to mean the most to him.  He’s plagued by memory loss from brain damage, deep guilt, and a deep seated rage that is his legacy from his father, now in prison.  His past not only haunts him but he fights it every second of the day.  And it mostly wins and tears him down.

Ivan is a savage portraiture of a man.  Driven by his demons yet Donovan continues to make us understand him as she reveals more and more of his past and his struggles to get by them.  They include his father who we meet in prison and who Ivan is named after.

But the heart and soul of this story is the dynamics, return of love and relationship of the triad. Born in the rising flood waters in Boscastle, it’s painful, so slow its like slogging through the rising tide, full of anger, resentment, pain, and loss.  They have a decade of issues to work through…even abandonment.  Incredibly, the author also manages to bring in laughter, giggles, light touches, and some incredibly  sexy scenes that show that the pull between all three men isn’t just some surface attraction.  No, it’s cellular.  These men need each other in order to be complete.  Donovan makes us believe it absolutely.  We feel it as much as the men do.

If Ivan is a complete character, so is Wesley Cook and Rolland “Rolly” Spence, who have been together as an existing couple since the accident.  They have returned to get their third, Ivan, and bring him “home”.  Each one of them, so clearly defined and beautifully written that its a joy to meet them and be included in their relationship.  It’s fun to watch and listen to, the dialog shows the ease of a couple who has been together for years as does the sex between them.  Loving, quick, and warmhearted.  Yet still they yearn for Ivan, all prickles and anger who they’ve missed all this time.  And he’s missed them as well.

The emotions here are huge, the growth, the pain, the fear the oozes off of Ivan as he faces his past, his father, his disabilities and even his future, it will scare even you.  Bring tissues.  For 130 pages, this is a big book.

I can’t begin to tell you all how much I love it and the men here.  It will leave a lasting impact.  One incredibly stupid decision and three lives changed forever.  Now we how the aftermath turns out and lives change again.

I highly recommend this story. The writing is incredible, the descriptions vivid and carry such emotional heft, and the characters so real you believe in them and invest in them absolutely.

And for those of you who are wondering, no this is not connected to her Sin Bin series other than a brief mention of Taine Afoa.  It’s completely standalone.

So yes, go pick it up, dive in and lose yourself in these men and their road back to each other.

Cover art: Claire Smith.  I love this artist’s work and this cover is no different.  It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing  | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 130 pages
Published July 14th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB07DS6HLPJ
Edition LanguageEnglish

Forged in Flood is a British contemporary M/M/M romance. With heartache, hot men with foul mouths, and plenty of heat, enjoy getting to know Ivan, Wesley, and Roland.

A Free Dreamer Review: Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray. When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

While I’m not big on normal historical fiction, I absolutely love historical fantasy and Salt Magic, Skin Magic had me sold at “dark fairytale”. I had high expectations and was not disappointed.

The setting as such is quite unique. I’ve read lots and lots of fantasy of all sorts, but never before have I come across a combination of all the elements Lee Welch came up with. I loved how magic was such a normal part of life and yet still remained somewhat mysterious. There was just the right amount of world-building and I really enjoyed the whole set-up.

Both Thornby and Blake were immediately likable. They come from very different backgrounds and it was very interesting to watch them overcome those differences. There’s a huge gulf between nobility and working class, even if Blake has some rather important friends.

I liked the minor characters as well. Thornby’s aunt seemed like a fascinating woman and I’d have loved to find out more about her.

The attraction between Thornby and Blake has a delightful air of forbidden romance. Lots of sneaking about and avoiding discovery had me constantly on my toes. It gave the love story a certain amount of suspense that I liked very much. The romance unfolds slowly and is anything but rushed. I loved how these two gentlemen get all rough and dirty with each other.

The ending was completely unexpected. Of course I had my theories as to why Thornby couldn’t leave his father’s grounds, but I certainly did not expect that. There were no easy solutions to be had and I was quite satisfied with what the author came up with.

Long story short, “Salt Magic, Skin Magic” is brilliant. It’s highly unique and extremely well written. If you’re a fan of unusual fantasy with gentlemanly lovers, I’m sure you’ll love this book.

I really, really hope Lee Welch will write more fantasy. She clearly has a talent for it. It’s so hard to find really well written fantasy with a well written love story, where neither takes away from the other.

The cover is quite the eye catcher and really fits the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book details:

ebook, 241 pages
Published August 9th 2018 by Lee Welch
ISBN139780473444518
Edition Language English

Release Blitz for Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 54,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Harrisburg Railers Series
 
Book #1 – Changing Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – First Season – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Deep Edge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Poke Check – Amazon UK | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Last Defense – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Fear and sadness mark Bryan’s life, can Gatlin show him that you have to trust before you can love?


Gatlin Pearce is creeping up on thirty-eight and is still single. It’s not that he wants to be alone, it’s just that he’s too damn old to be in clubs filled with glittery gay boys who can’t even tell him who the Rolling Stones are.


Better to just spend his evenings at Hard Score Ink – his tattoo and artwork shop – creating masterpieces on human flesh, listening to the Railers games, and nursing a cold beer.


His solitary life is about to end when Bryan Delaney, the new Railers backup goalie, shows up at his shop looking for new artwork for his helmet. There’s some sort of sad story in those beautiful eyes of Bryan’s, and Gatlin finds himself more than a little infatuated with the tender new goalie.


Bryan Delaney leaves home at fifteen to live with a billet family. He just wishes that he could have escaped his alcoholic father and strictly devout mother earlier. Drafted to the Arizona Raptors he finds a new family, and his first love affair even if that relationship is marked with violence.


Being traded to the Railers is a shock to the system but the team isn’t like any other he’s ever played on and they truly seem to care about him. It’s only when he meets artist Gatlin, with their shared love of music and hockey, that he realizes how hard it is to escape the past.


Excerpt


Keep your eye on Ten, he’s trouble.


That was all the text said, and I re-read it a few times as if more words would suddenly appear.


I don’t know why I looked for affection in any text that Aarni sent me because, in my kind-of-boyfriend’s own words, he wasn’t the demonstrative type. And he would always point out that someone could get hold of my phone. Then they would know that Aarni Lankinen, the villain of the Arizona Raptors, wasn’t everything he made himself out to be, that he wasn’t the playboy who fucked every woman within his reach. That he had a boyfriend on the side, and that it was me.


The phone rang, and I answered as soon as I saw his name. Aarni wasn’t the most patient guy on earth, and he liked it when I was fast to respond.


“Did you get my text?” Aarni asked without preamble.


“I did.”


“Don’t let me down now.”


I got the feeling, as he laughed, that he expected me to do that very thing. I still wasn’t sure what would count as letting him down. But given the kind of person I was—clumsy, quiet and only really focused when I was dressed for hockey—I kind of expected to fuck up.


The Arizona Raptors had chosen me in the 2014 draft, not long after my eighteenth birthday. I was the second highest ranking goaltender drafted that year, something to be proud of, I guess. But I’d not managed to stay up at NHL level, spending the rest of the time in the Raptors’ development team in Tucson. Until last year, when I’d actually been a starting goalie after both main goalies had been injured.


I hadn’t been stellar, and Arizona put me on waivers, leaving me vulnerable to being picked up by who the hell ever. My confidence had been rocked. I was a solid goalie for the development team, but the minute I got up to the primary team, NHL level, I choked. Why the hell did the Railers even want someone who hadn’t lived up to their early promise? I assumed I’d attend this training camp, and that would be it. They’d push me down to the Railers’ development team, and there I would stay.


Which wasn’t a bad thing, except they’d taken me from Arizona and from Aarni and it was the first time I’d been really on my own.


“Hello? Are you even listening to me?” Aarni snapped.


“Of course, I won’t let you down,” I lied.


I’m a good goalie, I stop pucks, I can be strong and focused and stay in my own head to track the plays in front of me.
Still, Aarni knew about me what I knew about myself; I’d choke at NHL level just as I had for the majority of my time with the Raptors.


I’m not ready. I should go back down to the minors.


“Also, don’t get comfortable there. They’re not going to keep you for long.”


“I know.”


“And don’t forget what assholes the Railers are. Don’t trust them, particularly wonder-boy Rowe. Arrogant fucker.”


I didn’t see Ten as arrogant at all, but then I was basing my assessment on TV interviews, including the one he’d given with Jared when they’d announced their relationship. I’d been proud of Ten and Jared for doing that, and part of me, the dark, hidden, ruined part, was green with envy that they were able to be open with the world.


I’d said that to Aarni, but he’d reacted badly and hadn’t talked to me for three days. His disappointment was a knife in my gut, and I hated every second of it. That was not happening again. He was right. Ten was a Stanley Cup Champion, a superstar, and if there had been NHL players at the Olympics, then he would undoubtedly have been on Team USA. No team would ask him to leave just because he had a boyfriend. It didn’t seem to be hurting the Railers, and they had a growing reputation as being LGBT-friendly.


“Jesus Christ, Bryan, are you even on this phone call?”


I pulled myself back from the edge. Aarni had said something about Ten being arrogant.


“I won’t forget,” I spoke with confidence so he’d realize I was listening.


“And remember I’m not there to watch your back.” He sighed deeply. “I worry there’s no one to look after you when you attract trouble. Especially from defenders like Max van Hellren. Asshole should have been thrown out of that game against us for what he did to me. Fucker lost us the chance at a championship. So fucking pleased he ended up collapsing. He deserved it.”


My chest tightened. Max wasn’t part of the Railers anymore. He’d retired after the cup win, but Aarni was right. There would be other guys there to step up in his place. Aarni had been furious, with a side order of mean, over what Max had done to him, checking him into the boards. But he’d finally calmed down, said he’d show Max what was what the next time the two teams met. He’d been so disappointed when Max had retired.


But Aarni was a good guy. He was the one who’d gotten involved when the bullying on the Raptors had gotten to be too much for me to handle. When the guys in the toxic locker room got on my case. I’d only played a few games at that level with the Raptors and had fucked every single one of them up. They’d hated it, but Aarni had been there for me.


He seemed to know the point when the rest of the team pushed it too far, always stepping in just before I was going to run from the room. He’d helped me so much, but he was back in Arizona, so far away.


“I’ll be okay,” I murmured, fear gripping me again about the kind of things I needed to face with this new team.


“I doubt that.” He sighed. “But you weren’t enough of all that for the Raptors to keep you, so you have no choice, and there’s nothing we can do about it, can we?”


“No.”


He must have heard the desperation in my voice. I hadn’t wanted the Raptors to give up on me, but that was hockey. One day I had woken up in Arizona as the backup to the backup, fucking things up, and the next day, the team had put me on waivers, and I was suddenly in snowy Pennsylvania.


“Good boy,” was all he said, but it was enough.


He hung up, but those two words gave me a shot of steel to my spine, and I settled my breathing before opening the car door. Security had let me right through to the player parking lot, and my Toyota sat right next to a sexy red Porsche. My salary had taken a hike, up to three million for the two-year contract I had here, so I probably needed a new car.


Even if the Railers saw through me and sent me packing, I’d still have enough money to buy a car.


“Hey,” someone called from behind me, and I immediately assumed that I was standing somewhere I shouldn’t have been. The man was in a guard’s uniform, tall, built and smiling at me benignly.


“I’m sorry. They told me to park there.”


“Of course. Bryan Delaney, right?” he asked and extended his hand for me to shake, which I did immediately after wiping the sweaty palm on my jeans.


“Yeah, Bryan,” I said when I realized I hadn’t answered his question.


“Welcome.” He thumbed at himself. “Name’s Pete. They said I needed to keep an eye out for the new guy.”


He dropped my hand, and I forced a smile onto my face, even though my stomach was churning. “Thank you.”


“This way.” He chatted on about the weather, life, hockey and something about his sister who lived in Arizona. By the time he dropped me outside an office, I knew enough about Pete to write a book. Thing is, his chatter stilled my nerves, and I wasn’t going into this room blind. I knew the name on the door, Alain Gagnon, former goalie for Vancouver, and one of the best goalie coaches in the business. I’d skyped with him once in his capacity as Goalie Coach for the Railers after they’d claimed me off waivers. He’d seen me coming to the Railers as a positive thing, a great thing. All I’d seen is my failure at NHL level hockey with the Raptors, and I remembered going back to Aarni and needing to be held.


Of course, Aarni had said he didn’t need to hug me, but he’d reassured me that, however I played, he would always have my back. I’d needed the comfort. His words of advice stayed with me even now.


I just want you to realize what you are and what your place on the team will be. Ten acts friendly, but he won’t care about you like I do. Stan? He’s had some lucky saves, and as for that fucker Van Hellren? You saw what he did to me in our last matchup. I wish you weren’t so naïve, Bryan. It’s unlikely you’ll get many starts, so don’t be disappointed when you get sent down to the minors.


I won’t be disappointed. I’d promised Aarni, and I’d made a vow to myself not to get too excited and involved.

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.


RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.


She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.


The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the following links below:


Email RJ (rj@rjscott.co.uk)

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.


When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Truth & Betrayal by KC Wells

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When I began to read this story in the morning, little did I know I would not be able to put it down until the last page—and that was somewhere past midnight. This story was so interesting, so riveting, and so beautifully written that I kept reading throughout the day to the exclusion of everything else in my life.

Character-driven, this emotional tale takes us from the time Jake learns his older brother Caleb has died in a traffic accident through the next year as Jake discovers that he’s not the only one with a Caleb-sized hole in his life. Through Caleb’s death, he learns more about his brother as he meets both his partner and his friends who lead Jake on a journey that reveals details of the last seven years of Caleb’s life. Some details are sweet, and some are shocking, but they help to bring him closure. They also give him the willingness to accept who he is and move forward with a new strength to his convictions. He falters and stumbles along the way but ultimately with support of his new friends, he discovers the love of his life, a man who can be both friend and companion, supporting him, loving him, and giving him hope for a bright future together—that man is Liam, Caleb’s former lover.

Without giving away spoilers, it’s tough to describe the full scope of what takes place, but I must say one of the things that stood out clearly to me was the fact that the story wasn’t rushed. Details weren’t glossed over. Situations were realistic. And the pace was unhurried. This story literally unfolded, page by page, and each page was filled with dialogue. To me, an author who “shows” the action rather than “tells” the action can engage the reader and pull them into the story more easily. Allowing the characters to come to life with words and thoughts through dialogue, text messages, and email conveys what’s actually happening at the time and adds to the overall enjoyment.

Ms. Wells also covers sensitive topics throughout the story. Liam is black and gay and Caleb and Jake come from a rural, predominately white Southern town. Several gay couples Jake meets while visiting Caleb’s friends in Atlanta have an open relationship. He learns intimate details of Caleb’s relationship with Liam that shock him. And he learns the pros and cons of PrEP and bareback sex for men in a committed relationship. The author brings a sensitive approach to these topics but is clear and concise in explaining a variety of views.

I believe this story is the best KC Wells has written, to date. I have my favorites as I’ve read almost all of her work, but this touched my heart in a special way. I don’t recall being so captivated by a story in a long time. It’s the love that shines through here—love for a brother, a lover, a parent, a family, a friend, and more. I suppose I could go on and on, and I could go into detail about Jake’s discovery of love and Liam’s discovery of the kind of love that lasts a lifetime, but it’s best if I leave the details for the next reader. And I hope there are many. This is a story that deserves to be shared. And it’s most definitely going on my Best of 2018 list. I very highly recommend it to all lovers of MM romance.

The cover by Meredith Russell perfectly depicts both MCs, exactly as described in the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 403 pages
Published August 3rd 2018
ASINB07G1BWKXF
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Mammoth! (Repeating History #3) by Dakota Chase

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In what might be their most dangerous adventure so far, Grant and Ash are sent back in time ten thousand years to recover a mammoth talisman for their teacher, Merlin. Life is a struggle in the Stone Age, and if they want to eat, they’ll have to learn to use spears, track animals, and build fires without the benefit of matches.

Most importantly, they must recover the artifact so they can get back to their own time, but it won’t be easy. They’ll need to reunite two warring tribes, help a boy around their age prove his worth, and demonstrate their own courage on a deadly mammoth hunt. In this harsh and unforgiving world, hate and suspicion are as prevalent as they are in modern times, but understanding and acceptance can also be found if they know where to look.

Well, this series just keeps getting better and better.  This time Merlin sends the boys, Grant and Ash, back 10,000 years in pursuit of a bone carving worn around the neck.  This time the boys face the most dangerous challenges of their lives and just find out how resourceful they can really be when their lives depend upon it.

Dakota Chase just absolutely amazed me here.  The author took meticulous research about the Ice Age, cultures, flora and fauna and these resilient young men and turned it into a heartwarming, sometimes hair-raising adventure that truly belongs up on the big screen.

From the moment Ash and Grant tumbled onto the sandy beach in Virginia and realized belatedly that their outfits belonged  not in cosplay or a carnival but in an era where the passing giant sloth lived, we were off on an incredible adventure into the past.  Chase brings Ice Age Virginia, the tribes that lived there, their daily lives as the author imagines it (beautifully and vividly) to life.  You walk with Rabbit, Ash, and “Grass” through every aspect of the Bison Tribes lives. You see how precarious it is and yet how real it feels.

Like the boys who get caught up in the Tribe’s politics, drama, and need for survival which includes a rivalry with another tribe and  a hunt for the mighty mammoths, a big element in the storyline.  This was a story I couldn’t put down.  Told from Ash’s pov, again the author’s stays perfectly within Ash’s age and yes, character.  He’s far from  perfect.  Stubborn, argumentative, sticking his foot in his mouth, and blurting out the wrong thing at the very worst time happens far too often.  And Ash knows it.  And isn’t happy that’s a trait of his.  Lack of self control is something he’s working on.  Both boys have their issues but together they make quite the team.

That’s the other thing.  Each of them show personal growth, they support and communicate with each other, and even find time for an occasional stolen kiss.

This story, this series and these two young men have me totally hooked.  I can’t wait to see where Merlin send them next.

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design.  Once again, an excellent job.  Recreates the feel of the old time covers of the old adventure books and pulls you in with the design and feel of the graphics.  love it.

Sales Links:   Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages

Expected publication: August 7th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781640806719
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Repeating History :

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Risk Taker (Mixed Messages #3) by Lily Morton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 6

Henry goes through men faster than his friends can count. None of them have been worth an effort to get to know, and he doesn’t need them anyway, because he loves his best friend, Ivo, maybe more than he should. But his other friends (from Rule Breaker and Deal Maker) are so happy together, settled, with plans for children and a long-term future that it makes him yearn for stability. He decides to give up casual sex and look for the real deal. Of course, his friends are full of suggestions, and so begins a parade of calamity dates that Henry most definitely isn’t interested in.

In the meantime, Ivo has come home, but he’s wounded and knocked down, suffering from nightmares and PTSD and wanting nothing more than comfort from his best friend, Henry, the man he loves. Yes, this is one of those stories with unrequited best friend love. I would normally think, ho-hum, not my cuppa, but the author has injected humor with the angst and provided readers with a heartwarming story of two emotionally damaged, yet sweet and perfect for each other, young men. The characters are well-developed and each has enough unique charm to hold readers’ interest on their own. But together, they make a terrific package deal.

The story progresses through the time Ivo is recuperating at the home they share, and he and Henry are growing closer, yet each still thinks he doesn’t want to ruin their friendship by going one step further. Ivo steams as he awaits Henry’s return each time he goes on a blind date, but he still can’t take the first step to stop him. Though this portion of the story could have dragged, it actually went quickly because some of the dates were hysterically funny.  The author also wove Henry’s and Ivo’s back story in by opening each chapter with a note or letter from one to the other, most from the time they were schoolboys separated by holidays or vacations.

The revisits from characters featured in the earlier stories will be appreciated by those who’ve read the series, but their presence does not take away from this story being a standalone. In fact, the highest praise I can give this story is to say that I am going to purchase the first two books in the series so I can catch up because the author’s writing style, sense of pace, and touches of humor have dug into my subconscious, which is now begging me for more.

This story was, in a nutshell, an unexpected gift, and I highly recommend it to those who love MM romance with a touch of humor and a very happy ending.

The cover by Natasha Snow features a handsome young man wearing a suit coat and glasses with an intense look on his face. The coloration is a faded black and white with some gold and purple splashes. It ties nicely in with other books in the series.

Sales Links:    Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published July 22nd 2018
ASINB07FM48TW5
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesMixed Messages #3