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

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was astonished at Aki.

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

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

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

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


The Yakuza Path Series


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

Book Details:

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

Blood Stained Tea

Better Than Suicide

One Thousand Cranes

The Deafening Silence

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Showers, Flowers, and Fangs by Aidan Wayne

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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

He hadn’t planned on falling in love.

The blurb of Showers, Flowers and Fangs sounded extremely promising and I had quite high expectations. And I’m happy to say the author certainly didn’t disappoint.

I loved the world this book is set in. There are all the supernatural creatures you’ve ever heard of – and more. They live peacefully with the humans and half-breeds are far from unusual. That’s not a concept I’ve come across before. Darren got a bit unlucky with his abilities. He’s trans, but human medicine doesn’t agree with him and his fae powers aren’t all that strong either. So while he can pass with the help of a glamour, actual transitioning isn’t going to happen quite so easily. The author obviously put a lot of thought into their universe and how the rules affect the MCs. The world building was really well done and flowed naturally into the plot.

Darren and Vlad were adorable together. This is very much a coming-of-age story about the first experiences with romance, which are complicated by Vlad’s past. There are a few darker moments, but overall it was an absolutely heartwarming read, without it ever getting cheesy and overly fluffy. Just a feel-good story, with great depth and a bit of humour.

I liked both our MCs. Darren is extremely likable from the beginning and while it might take a while for Vlad to warm up, he’s still a wonderful person. Even though this is a Fantasy book, it just all felt very realistic to me.

We get quite a few surprising reveals and the book was very addicting. It was a super fast read and I enjoyed every single second of it. It’s quirky, unique and absolutely adorable. It’s also suitable for younger readers. I’d probably recommend this to kids aged 13 and above. Of course it also works for adults, like me. I hope there’ll be more books set in this wonderfully imaginative universe.

The cover by Tiferet Design is very pretty. It reminds me of a fairy tale and I love the blue background.

Sales LInks:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 190 pages

Expected publication: December 11th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press

A Free Dreamer Advent Calendar Review: Tulsi Vivah by Anna Kaling

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Story from the Warmest Wishes: Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar

The festival of Tulsi Vivah ushers in the Hindu wedding season and tears away the love of Kristopher’s life. Three years of passion and tenderness are reduced to a shameful skeleton in the closet as Arjuna submits to the marriage his parents have arranged for him. His family has never even heard Kristopher’s name.

The festival, a ritualistic wedding between the holy basil plant, Tulsi, and her eternal lover, Vishnu, is as much of a play-act as Arjuna’s upcoming nuptials, but he believes the wedding will honor his parents and please Vishnu. So why is his Tulsi plant—whose leaves heal and bless the devout, who is Vishnu’s representative on earth—dying? Arjuna tends to her with all the care of a concerned parent, but it might take more than his devotion to save her. She might need Kris, with his clever green-fingers—and maybe a revived Tulsi can heal two hearts.

I usually like neither short stories (they tend to feel unfinished to me) nor holiday stories (too fluffy), so Tulsi Vivah was a very pleasant surprise.

This isn’t really a Christmas story, it’s more about the Hindu holiday Tulsi Vivah. I’m an not an expert on Hinduism, but I do think I’m not completely clueless. Still, I’ve never heard of this holiday or the Goddess Tulasi. The author did a great job of explaining the holiday and I found it all very fascinating.

The romance was lovely, if a bit sad. It was obvious how hard the separation was on both Arjuna and Kris. It was heartbreaking, even if I could understand Arjuna’s decision. The two MCs showed a surprising amount of depth and growth, considering how short this book is. The ending felt perfect and quite realistic.

I really, really enjoyed this story. I haven’t seen all that many M/M books with a Hindu MC out there, so bonus points for an original idea. I hope there’ll be more stories like this to come from this very promising debut author.

If you’re looking for the usual Christmas fluff, however, then this story probably won’t make you happy.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas. Love this cover, just perfection. It’s just right for the character and story.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 56 pages

Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

An Alisa Review: Mine for Christmas by AD Lawless

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Matt Westin was shocked when he ran into Cody, his grade-school best friend—pleased, but shocked. Devastatingly handsome was an understatement when it came to Cody, with his hazel eyes, wide smiles, and broad shoulders.

It was less shocking, months later, when Matt found out just how far he’d go for Cody. A desperate request for Matt to play his boyfriend over Christmas and save him from his mom’s meddling blind-date plans completely hammered that fact home.

Matt couldn’t resist saying yes, not when it meant getting closer to Cody. The only question was how would he ever be able to let him go when it was over?

Such a perfect friends to lovers story.  Matt and Cody were friends as children but lost track of each other over the years but quickly begin their friendship again and grow close.  Cody puts them in an almost impossible situation but it helps push their feeling out into the open.

It was funny how much these two have had crushes on each other but being oblivious to the other’s feelings.  I loved how Cody’s family quickly accepts Matt into their midst and it makes Cody feel so much more for him.  This was so sweet and a perfect holiday story.

I like the cover art by Natasha Snow is great and the standard for holiday shorts this year.

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 14,500 words

Published: November 26, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949909-41-8

Edition Language: English

First of Our Best of 2018 Lists. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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First of Our Best of 2018 Lists

So this Sunday we are starting off with our first of our Best of 2018 lists.  First up is our reviewer Alisa with her Top Stories down to her Top Covers.  Yes, we have always shared our love of book covers here along with our appreciation of the various artists talents.  Lately we have had some new names appear doing absolutely incredible covers alongside the artists who represent the best in the industry.  So make sure you check out all the names to go along with the beautiful covers we put out there.  Maybe give us a few suggestions of your own.

Also relatively new are the narrators in the  audiobook Best of category.  I listen to more and more audiobooks every year and can’t stress the importance of a fabulous narrator.  They can make or break an audiobook.  Check out who Alisa has as her favorites below.  Do you have yours?

Each week we will roll out more lists…keep an eye out to see how our lists compare with yours.  Did you miss some books?  Did we agree on others?  Let me know!

 

From Alisa:

2018 Top Stories/Novels

Guarding His Melody by Victoria Sue

Blood for the Spilling by TJ Nichols

Promises Part 4 by AE Via

Elemental Magick by Jacki James

Us by Shaw Montgomery

Professor Adorkable by Edie Danford

Discovery by Quinn Ward

Expecting by Sarah Havan

After the Weekend by Silvia Violet

The Swap by Annabella Michaels

Best Audiobooks

Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn, narrator Kirt Graves

Kairos by Mary Calmes, narrator Michael Fell

Freckles by Amy Lane, narrator Nick Russo

BFF by KC Wells, narrator Michael Mola

Pins and Needles by AJ Thomas, narrator Jason Riley

Best Series

Men of Meadowfall by Anna Wineheart

Studies in Demonology by TL Nichols

Promises by AE Via

Requiem Inc. by Kris T. Bethke

College of United Monsters by CB Archer

Cold Case Psychic by Pandora Pine

Enhanced World by Victoria Sue

The Accidental Master by MA Innes

Kink in the City by Quinn Ward

Strength by MA Innes

Best Covers

Blood for the Spilling by TJ Nichols, cover artist Catt Ford

Heart of a Redneck by Jodi Payne, cover artist Alexandria Corza

Edge of Living by HL Day, cover artist HL Day

Elemental Magick by Jacki James, cover artist Vicki Brostenianc

Expecting by Sarah Havan, cover artist Melissa Liban

 

Now here is this week at our blog.  We continue with more Advent Calendar stories, I have reviewed an incredible M/M historic romance today called The Bibliophile by Drew Marvin Frayne.  You really should check that out. The Yakuza Path series by Amy Tasukada is as far from a holiday saga as you can get.  But it’s brilliant, bloody, and a must read. Number 4 is out this week.  If you love holiday series, The Christmas Angel series is not to be missed, several of them are also on to be reviewed as well.  So much going on.  Don’t miss a day here.

 

Happy Reading!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, December 9: ☃️

  • First of Our Best of 2018 Lists.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Book Blast Love’s Trials by Janice Jarrell
  • A MelanieM Review: The Bibliophile by Drew Marvin Frayne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Oz (Finding Home #1) by Lily Morton
  • An Alisa Advent Calendar Review: Holiday Island by A.D. Ellis

Monday, December 10:☃️

  • COVER REVEAL: Amanda Meuwissen’s A Model Escort
  • Release Blitz for Home For Christmas by RJ Scott
  • Review Tour for A Soldier’s Wish (A Christmas Angel Story) by NR Walker
  • Release Blitz Tour for  Trusting Jack by Ruby Moore
  • A Lila Advent Calendar Review: Boca Dreams by Scudder James Jr
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Soldier’s Wish (A Christmas Angel Story) by NR Walker
  • A Lucy Review : Under The Felt Mistletoe by Nell Iris
  • An Alisa Review: Mine for Christmas by AD Lawless

Tuesday, December 11: ☃️

  • PROMO Andrew Grey
  • Release Blitz  Tour – Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs
  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Chasing Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Stetsons and Stakeouts by BA Tortuga
  • A Lucy Review : All I Want Is You by DJ Jamison
  • A Free Dreamer Advent Calendar Review: Tulsi Vivah by Anna Kaling
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Showers, Flowers, and Fangs by Aidan Wayne

Wednesday, December 12: ☃️

  • Review Tour – Jordan L Hawk – The Magician’s Angel
  • Review Tour – Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs
  • Review Tour – The Deafening Silence (The Yakuza Path #4) by Amy Tasukada
  • A MelanieM Review:The Deafening Silence (The Yakuza Path #4) by Amy Tasukada
  • A Lucy Review : Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs
  • A Lila Advent Calendar Review: Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady :The Magician’s Angel (The Christmas Angel #3) by Jordan L. Hawk
  • An Alisa Review: Celebrations in the Season of Long Nights by Mere Rain, a”Escape From the Holidays” Collection from Mischief Corner Books

Thursday, December 13:  ☃️

  • Spells & Stardust Anthology Tour
  • HARMONY INK PROMO Aidan Wayne
  • Book Blast for Pain and Promise by Lazlo Thorn
  • Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code by Charlie Cochrane Blog Tour
  • A Caryn Review: Vampire with Benefits (Supernatural Selection #2) by E.J. Russell
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Blessed (The Matawapit Family #1) by Maggie Blackbird
  • A MelanieM Review: Spells & Stardust by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • An Alisa Advent Calendar Review: Death to Christmas Sweaters by LE Franks

Friday,  December 14:  ☃️

  • Review Tour –  Christmas Homecoming by LA Witt
  • PROMO BA Tortuga
  • Review Tour for Shrewd Angel (The Christmas Angel #6) by Anyta Sunday
  • Review Tour  for Rebellion by Naomi Aoki
  • An Ali Advent Calendar Review:The Night Sky Festival by S.A. Stovall
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Rebellion by Naomi Aoki
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady: Christmas Homecoming (The Christmas Angel #4) by L.A. Witt
  • A Lucy Review: Shrewd Angel (The Christmas Angel #6)by Anyta Sunday

Saturday, December 15:  ☃️

  • Review Tour – Neve Wilder – Dedicated (Rhythm Of Love #1)
  • Tour for  Meik&Sebastian – Obsessed #4 by Quin Perin
  • Book Blast: Blessed (The Matawapit Family #1) by Maggie Blackbird
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Advent Calendar Review: Too Hot for Santa by Helena Stone
  • An Alisa Review: Meik&Sebastian – Obsessed #4 by Quin Perin
  • A MelanieM Review: Dedicated (Rhythm Of Love #1) by Neve Wilder
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: The Holiday Home Hotel (An Escape from the Holidays Story) by Lou Sylvre
  • A MelanieM Review:  Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code (Cambridge Fellows #12.7by Charlie Cochrane

 

 

 

 

A MelanieM Review: The Bibliophile by Drew Marvin Frayne

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Nathanial Goldsmith is the only son of the richest man in the Idaho territory, Jessum Goldsmith, the Silver Baron of the Western Lands, as he is called in all the newspapers. But life in the late nineteenth-century American West weaves no magic spell for Nathanial, who longs for the academic worlds his father has forced him to leave behind.

To toughen him up, Nathanial’s father has indentured him to a ranchman, Cayuse Jem, a large, raw-boned, taciturn man Nathanial’s father believes will help teach his son to “become a man.” Cut off from his books and the life he has always known, Nathanial is not only forced to co-exist with Cayuse Jem, but to truly get to know him. In doing so, Nathanial discovers there is more to this silent horseman than meets the eye. And, in the process, Nathanial also learns a few things about life, about human nature, and about the differences in being a man and a boy…

I love historical fiction and romance but I’m also very aware of exactly how difficult it is to get it right.  Not only does the author have to craft a splendid plot, create multidimensional characters, give them chemistry with each other, as well as a romance to root for, but then they must place all that within the structure of a certain time period without making it look like a information dump.  Or that they haven’t done any research at all (please don’t get me started in on the use of Wikipedia as research).

So yes, rare is the author or novel that pulls it all together and gets it right.

The Bibliophile by Drew Marvin Frayne gets it right.

The Bibliophile is essentially the journal of young Nathanial Goldsmith.  It starts in September 1888 and ends in October 1890, three years that become a lifetime of growth.  The first thing the reader notices is that the language is correct for the time period.  Not modern in phrase or thought, it takes a while to adjust to Nathanial’s diary entries and internal dialog.  But very soon, that strangeness of “the tongue” and era become second nature and you ease into Nat’s world and connect with someone on the turning point of his life.

I can’t being to say enough of how Frayne was able to draw me into the mind and heart of Nat, a young book lover who only wants to stay in college and become a teacher yet is doomed by the fact that that he is the only son of a wealthy, hard man determined to mold him into the image of the son he wants, not the person Nathanial actually is.  The first entries are heartbreaking in their earnestness and honesty over his situation.  He’s at college and knows he must return to Idaho and a family that holds him and book learning in little regard.  And books are the only things he truly loves because he’s had so little of it in his life.

Nathanial has been away from the mansion his silver baron father calls home for a while so in many ways he’s younger than another boy who would have stayed on the frontier of Idaho.  He’s not “tough” or manly as his father would have him.  An altercation see’s his father sending him off to be an indentured servant to a brusk, somewhat wild rancher.  And this is where the story will, I believe, hit home with most readers.  The scenes where Nathanial is going through hardships he never believed of as a servant to Cayuse Jem are authentic, painful, and gritty.  He’s a child of privilege now a servant  performing chores he never dreamed of or knows how to do.  Since the reader has come to care greatly for Nat, this is an especially hard section to get through.

It’s also the beginning of Nat’s training.  Cayuse Jem starts to call him “boy”.   If you see that in terms of sexual use, you would be correct. The relationship here is very much daddy/boy or dom/sub without the kink. Although the sexual relationship does not come until an emotional bond is developed and Nat is ready for a sexual one.  He is also 18 when the journal starts.  But over and over again, throughout the story, the rancher is training Nat, gentling him as though he is one of the wild horses he works with, to be his. They love either other, no question, however, there is a definite framework or dynamics to their relationship. There are numerous references to historic Greek practices of older men taking younger ones as lovers, also Nez Perce same sex couplings, are used as foundation material by the author.  How the reader feels about all this will frame out how they will continue on with the story.

As a side thread to this is also an indelible storyline about two Nez Perce men who are incredibly important to Cayuse Jem and Nathanial.  That would be Chuslum and Motsqueh.  These two men will earn as deep a portion of your heart as Nat and Cayuse Jem do.  From them we venture into the lifestyle of the tribe, the Indian wars, the current situation, medicine and culture. It’s a rich, vivid element of The Bibliophile and one for me that is perhaps my favorite.

As Nat’s journal entries continues, you forget almost that he’s writing…you are there walking alongside them during their daily duties, getting a feel for life as it was lived in Idaho in the late 1800’s, from the politics to the books read, the food eaten,  and yes, even the clothes worn.  The author naturally immerses you into their world, making you care what happens to them, well aware that back then life was so precarious and could turn on a moment.

There are things I could go into here but this is a book that needs to be experienced.  Be prepared to weep.  I cried buckets.  I should have expected that and I still wasn’t ready. Damn you, Frayne!

The amount of emotional growth Nathanial shows during this story is amazing, especially in the last pages.  I needed that epilogue.  It was perfection. The flawless narrative touch.The author had me worried the chapter before and then delivered the 5 star send off.

After the story was done, I thought to myself….I didn’t get to savor all the nuances, the bits and pieces that I was sure that I had missed but I was still not ready to dive back in to the emotional journey that Nat needs to go through.  But I will and soon.  Because this is a book to be treasured.  I’ll just remember to have my box of tissues handy.

Cover art by Natasha Snow.  Not sure how I feel about this cover.  On the surface its fine, has all the elements.  But it doesn’t stand out, the tones,while right for the era are just blah.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 26th 2018 by NineStar Press
Original Title The Bibliophile
ISBN 139781949909432
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Oz (Finding Home #1) by Lily Morton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Oz Gallagher is bored with his life and decides to leave London to take on a temp job in Cornwall as an estate manager. He has some experience and his degree in Art History should be invaluable but it’s not so much that he wants the job as that he wants out of London.

When he meets Silas, the earl who happens to be a veterinarian and is fully invested in getting the country estate he’s inherited out of debt, Oz is gobsmacked. Silas is nothing like he pictured and everything he’d want. Silas has all of Oz’s requisite kryptonite: a hairy chest on a guy who’s earnest and adorable. When asked about running an estate, Oz quips that being house manager at Ashworth House will be “like being a tour manager, only with less drugs and hookers,” and that’s when I knew I was in for a treat.

Oz figures it will be easy to keep his distance from the cute earl because they are from two different worlds but the men are drawn to one another and quickly become friends and companions—long before they become lovers.

In the future if someone asks me for the perfect example of a slow burn romance that has all the elements of humor, snark, sweetness, and incredible characterization, I’m going to suggest Oz.

One of my favorite moments in the story occurs in their tour of the neighboring estate—their competition, so to speak. Oz’s humorous quips and Silas’s reactions were delightfully funny.

The author’s ability to show the depth of emotion the men develop for one another is outstanding. Describing Oz at one point in the story, Silas says: “My Oz is like a hedgehog. Bright eyes, prickly and fierce on the outside with a soft underbelly that he’ll roll into a ball to hide.”

And Oz, speaking of falling for Silas: “I’d thought the moment when I fell in love would be dramatic and full of noise and energy. Instead, it’s in a quiet bedroom where a soft song plays and the light dances on the man’s hair and the planes of his face as he makes me back into me. The only man who’s ever valued that person.”

I’m deeply in love with both Silas and Oz. There’s not much more I can say than that. I invite all my fellow MM romance lovers to share this beautiful love story with me. It’s absolutely amazing!

The cover by Natasha Snow features a gorgeous young man—the perfect representation of Oz Gallagher.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 287 pages
Published November 20th 2018
ASINB07KKN5JFB
Edition Language English
Series Finding Home #1 setting Cornwall

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Sometimes the best Christmas gift is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a rich, entitled, oblivious jock, and he might have stayed that way if he hadn’t become friends with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. When Oliver kisses him goodbye before Rusty leaves for college, Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But nothing can help Rusty survive a semester at Stanford, and he returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. But with Oliver’s love and the help of Oliver’s amazing family, Rusty realizes that failing college doesn’t mean he can’t pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Nobody can built characters quite like Amy Lane and put them into situations that then quietly begin to tear the reader’s heart apart, piece by tiny little piece. Rusty Baker is one such character, improbbly so.  On the exterior, he’s would appear to have everything to succeed in life.  He’s  rich, a jock, with a father who is determined to see him into a great school and going places.   That’s the exterior.

It takes  meeting Oliver, not rich not a jock, to reveal the real Rusty Baker. The gentle, insecure, and gay person Rusty is.  There’s also more that becomes readily apparent to Oliver as he tutors Rusty through his classes in high school.  Rusty has a learning disability that never goes named here but is perfectly spelled out in the way he “feels” when he get overwhelmed by his classes, projects, or professors.  God, how you feel for him.

Throughout the story, and as you can imagine Rusty’s life, the damage done to him hasn’t been delivered through physical blows, damning smacks to the body, but in deadly featherlight cuts to the heart and psyche.  It’s been his father, his mother supporting the patriarch, behind the worst of them. Amy Lane, like a surgeon of phrases, uses her words to slice through Rusty and our hearts over and over at unexpected times, leaving all of us shattered.

I was not prepared for how much this book would hurt.

But for all the wounds, there is the healing balm of Oliver, Oliver’s Dad and his family, Rusty’s sister, and even Rusty’s college roommate who encircle this damaged young man, help him to heal, build him a new foundation of family, support, and love.

Oddly, enough I think of Oliver and Rusty snuggling with Peanut as one of my favorite scenes.  All happy and content, perfect Christmas.   For me, even with all the Amy Lane tears that fell, this was a holiday story to remember.  And treasure.

It’s one I highly recommend.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  Not a fan of this cover.  There is so much more the artist could have pulled from.  Indistinguishable from any other couple.  Nothing special that separates it out for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, Second Edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 7th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published December 7th 2013)
ASINB07JGXPM71
Edition Language English
Characters Oliver Campbell, Russell “Rusty” Calvin Baker setting California (United States)
El Dorado, California (United States)

Blog Tour for The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Title: The Stars May Rise and Fall

An M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera set in turn-of-the-millennium Japan

Author: Estella Mirai

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: MiblArt

Genre/s: M/M romance, contemporary

Heat Rating: 2 flames

Length: 90 000 words/320 pages

It is a standalone story.

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Blurb

Teru came to Tokyo with dreams of making it big in the glam-metal visual kei scene, but three years later, all he has to show for it is a head of hot pink hair and some skill with an eyeliner pencil. He may look the part, but he doesn’t sound it, and constant bickering among his bandmates has him worried about his future. When he finds a mysterious business card in his bag, he’s willing to take any help he can get.

Help comes in the form of Rei, a crippled, disfigured composer whose own career was ended by an accident before it had really begun. With Teru’s voice and looks, and Rei’s money and songwriting skills, both of their dreams seem about to come true – but a forbidden kiss and a late-night confession threaten to tear it all apart. Now Teru, who has spent most of his life denying his attraction to men, and Rei, who vowed long ago never to love again, must reconcile their feelings with their careers – and with their carefully constructed ideas of themselves.



THE STARS MAY RISE AND FALL is an M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera, set in Tokyo at the turn of the millennium. It comes with a healthy dose of angst and a dollop of nostalgia, as well as an age-difference romance, a physically disabled love interest, and memorable characters who will stay with you long after the pages are closed.

Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Excerpt 

I can help you. Call me.

Teru ran his finger around the edge of the card. Maybe it had been a mistake. Should he call, and let whoever had left it know?

He opened the window and lit a cigarette. The smoke floated out into the muggy Tokyo night.

“This is stupid,” he said aloud. “It’s one in the morning. Whoever it is, they’re asleep.”

But Teru wasn’t asleep. His bandmates probably weren’t asleep either. If it was a musician who had left the card, one in the morning was better than one in the afternoon.

I can help you. Call me.

He picked up his phone and dialed.

It rang once, twice—and Teru cut the connection. This is stupid. But he didn’t feel stupid. He felt guilty, like he’d been doing something he shouldn’t.

He stubbed out the cigarette and walked across the room to the refrigerator. Nothing but a pack of noodles and a flat Diet Coke. Even though he’d already had a couple with the guys after the show, what Teru really needed was a beer.

On the other side of the room, the phone rang.

The floor was littered with clothes and magazines and Playstation controllers. Teru almost tripped as he lunged for the phone, and then only crouched there, watching it, with his nerves wrapped around his voice box like a snake. There was no name with the number, but Teru knew it by heart. He’d only been staring at it for the past hour.

The ringing stopped. An engine rumbled outside Teru’s window, and a train clattered over distant tracks. Upstairs, slippered feet padded across a tatami floor. The air was thick with an anticipation far from silence—but just as easily shattered by the trill of a different ring.

Teru’s fingers fumbled to open the text.

I heard you sing.

He stared, waiting for the words to sink in. They didn’t, though. They made no sense.

It had only been a mistake after all.

You’ve got the wrong number, he replied. This is Teru, the drummer for La Rose Verboten. I don’t sing.

And then: You should.

The phone rang again.

“Hello?”

“You have a beautiful voice.”

It wasn’t Yasu. It wasn’t anyone he knew.

“Hello?” Teru repeated. “Who is this?”

“A friend.” The voice was male, deep and effortlessly sensual in a way that Seika would have envied. It made Teru distinctly uncomfortable.

“Look,” Teru said. “I think you want Bara. I’m not the singer. I’m the drummer. The one with pink hair?”

“I heard you,” the man pressed. “In the dressing room. I can help you.”

In the dressing room? There’d been no one else in there.

“Is this some kind of joke?”

“Not at all.”

“What do you want?” Teru whispered.

“To teach you. To help you. Will you meet with me?”

Teru’s palms were sweaty, his face flushed. It was partly exhaustion, partly a lingering buzz… but it was more than that. He felt dirty. This was worse than what he felt with Seika—and it was just a voice on the goddamn phone.

“There’s a studio in Koenji,” he heard himself say.

“No!” the man snapped, and he took a sharp, hissing breath. “No studios. You may come to my apartment.”

“Your apartment?”

“Please. It is… difficult, for me to go out.”

“Um… okay.” What the hell did that mean?

“I live in Meguro,” the man said. “Near the live house. I can send you the address. If you’ll come.” There was a plea in his voice, a quiet desperation. Teru swallowed, hard.

“You want to give me singing lessons?”

“Yes.”

This was insane. “When?”

“Whenever you are free.”

Teru glanced at his calendar. June, 2000. Three years, almost to the day, since he had stepped off the night bus from Niigata. After all that time, he didn’t even have anything to lose.

About the Author

Estella Mirai lives just outside of Tokyo with her human family and a very spoiled lap cat. When she isn’t reading or writing, she works in editing and translation—which means that 99% percent of her day is usually words. In her minimal free time, she enjoys watching musicals, cooking (badly), and slaughtering power ballads at karaoke.

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A MelanieM Review: Loving a Warrior (Loving a Warrior #1) by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

Melanie Hansen’s ability to bring us inside this intense world of SEAL training and the brotherhood that forms between the men that make it through this grueling six months is remarkable.  As she has done before, the people she creates  come alive for us, laid out in all their frailties, brutalities, complexities, and, the inner drive and grit that keeps them from cracking under the enormous pressures and pains BUD/S puts them through to see them out as SEALs with their Tridents at the end of the story.

And in between, we are given a journey of determination, questioning, growth, and romance between two very different men. Matt Knytych and Shane Hovland.  One (my favorite) Matt is the most complex perhaps of the two, certainly the most focused on his goal of getting his Trident, being a SEAl like his uncle, his idol and mentor. Matt is that one creation that has such power as a character that it’s almost impossible to turn your attention away from him to any other character or element.  He’s blinding in his ability to draw your eye to him and his life, leaving all others to wander along the edges.  It’s funny really, because Matt’s not the “gorgeous” one here. He’s not the tall one, overly good looking one etc.  But for sheer determination, grit, and, power on the page, nothing is comparable to him.  Matt burns with a narrative incendiary intensity.  His is not the easy road you might think it will be.

Shane Hovland is the gorgeous one and, ironically, the lesser of the two men in strength of characterization but only because Matt shines so brightly and with such great strength. Shane is the former Marine taking BUD/S for the 2nd time, the reason for which I’ll leave to the story.  His back story is every bit as interesting as Matt’s but again but it comes across as lacking…something.  Unfair I know.  And totally realistic as is this entire story.

Hansen pulls us through the training, their lives, the questioning about the costs of pursuing a romance….everything and we believe in them in every way.

She also makes us feel for those that don’t make it. How is that possible?  It’s only fiction, yet I felt the anguish and their pain just as deep.  And the pride for those that receive their Tridents.

It ends as it should, a HFN.  And where it should.  A powerful story of love of country and of two men for each other.

Melanie Hansen has quickly become a Must Read Author for me and  Loving A Warrior is an excellent example why.  I highly recommend it and can’t wait for the next story in the series to arrive.

Cover art is perfect for the men and the story.  I only wish I knew who to credit it to.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published November 26th 2018 by Carina Press
ASIN B07DCTPL94
Edition Language English
Series Loving a Warrior #1