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 Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: P.S. I Spook You by S.E. Harmon and Noah Michael Levine (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

From the blurb: SA Rain Christiansen used to be the agency’s golden boy. It just takes one moment of weakness, one slight, tiny, itty-bitty paranormal sighting, and all of a sudden he’s the agency’s embarrassment. His boss gives him one last chance to redeem himself—go down to Brickell Bay, play nice with the local police, and leave the ghost sightings behind. Rain is determined to do exactly that, even if it kills him. Cold-case detective Daniel McKenna’s latest investigation is going nowhere fast. Five years earlier, high school student Amy Greene went missing after leaving her part-time job and was never seen again. Daniel is glad to finally have the FBI help that his department requested, even if it does come in the form of his ex. It doesn’t help that Rain is pretty sure he’s falling in love with Danny all over again—if he ever stopped. Add to that the frustration of seeing ghosts at every turn while he works a case that’s stalled in its tracks, and Rain is starting to wonder if second chances and happy endings are just for fairy tales.

This was a great story with an established couple who drifted apart and are thrown together by work circumstances, one reluctant medium—FBI SA Rain Christiansen, and cold-case detective Daniel McKenna, who still loves Rain but not his ability to see ghosts. 

The story has so much potential with more than one ghost making requests of Rain whose friends and former lover all seem to think he’s lost his mind. One cold case provides the main plot substance as Rain is visited by the victim’s ghost who leads him to her car hidden in the Everglades. Explain that to his boss and his lover? No way do they understand. There’s a lot of push-pull on the romance and plenty of suspects. Of course, Rain is the type of self-willed character who leaps before he looks, landing him in deep trouble. I liked the plot and the dynamic between Rain and Daniel, as well as Rain’s snarky, humorous attitude.

What pulled the story down a notch for me was the narration. When the speaker wasn’t identified in the dialogue, I couldn’t really tell who was speaking until I figured it out based on what was said. In other words, the narration wasn’t good. The narrator didn’t have enough distinction between the voices of the two MCs. He also mispronounced words, though that’s minor in comparison to the major issue of having two similar voices. I was frequently lost, and though I found the story interesting, I feel sad that I didn’t enjoy it as much as my friends who read the e-book seemed to. So, though I can recommend the story to those who enjoy a mix of romance and mystery, I don’t recommend the audio version.

The cover features two young men kissing in the upper pane while in the bottom pane of the cover a young girl stands with her back to the camera—a great representation of the missing girl.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible |

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 9 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published June 12th 2017)
Original Title P.S. I Spook You
Edition Language English setting Miami, Florida (United States)
Florida (United States)

Into the Holidays We Go and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Into the Holidays We Go and Oh What Our Lists Will Bring!

It’s official, we’re in December, the last month of the year.  The beginning of the winter celebrations where we see the longest night of the year, the bonfires light to drive the darkness away and the return of increasing daylight, one minute at a time.  We acknowledge the passing of the old and the arrival of the new.  We reflect and look forward.  A time of straddling the boundaries between what has gone the year past and what we will make of the time that’s coming.

As with all things we’ve had our incredible highs and unexpected lows in losses this year.  Authors who’s passing has left us a much smaller and poorer community.  I’ll talk about that later this month.

I want to also remember all the wonderful authors, and their stories, the cover artists and their work, on books we loved this year.  It’s so hard to winnow it down into lists.

How do you compare an  outstanding cozy mystery series with a violinist with autism with a soaring SciFy masterpiece about a sentient spaceship?  Can’t possibly go in the same category and do both authors justice!  Or the finale of a urban fantasy that  reads like a nerd’s list of wanna’s but has been constructed ever so carefully  amidst careening mind blown action.  Do you throw that in against a book with deeply drawn portraits of lovers in a contemporary romance?  No, again, I think not.

Plus we have some outstanding 5 star holiday stories that surely deserve their own category?  How to divide up the list into sections without going crazy?

Hmmmm.

Thoughts anyone?

Anyhow, I’m working on that and lists will be soon rolling out.  Let me have a few of your Best of 2018.  We will be awarding some gift certificates just because it’s December for those who participate.

 

Happy Reading, get those  lists in, and check out all the stories we have coming at you this week!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

Sunday, December 2:

  • Release Blitz – Saving Jax by L.M. Brown
  • Blog Tour for Drawn  to You by Jaclyn Quinn
  • Closer by F.E. Feeley, Jr Book Blast
  • A Barb The Zany Old Lady Advent Calendar Review:That Turtle Story by C.S. Poe
  • Into the Holidays We Go and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, December 3:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Rough Trade by Sidney Bell
  • Release Blitz  A Soldier’s Wish by NR Walker
  • Review Tour – Neutral Zone by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • An Ali Review: Rough Trade by Sidney Bell
  • A MelanieM Review :Neutral Zone (Harrisburg Railers #7) by R.J. Scott & V.L. Locey
  • A MelanieM Review:  Best In Show by Kelly Jensen
  • A Stella Advent Calendar Review: Barbies and Beaches by Asta Idonea

Tuesday, December 4:

  • Book Blitz Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon
  • Review Tour –  Christmas Angel (The Christmas Angel #1) by Eli Easton
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Sunshine in the Dragon’s Heart by Jaime Samms
  • A Caryn Review Broken Halos by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • A Stella Advent Calendar Review: Mosquitoes and Mistletoe by Ren Holly
  • A Lucy Review: Christmas Angel (The Christmas Angel #1) by Eli Easton

Wednesday, December 5:

  • Cover Reveal for  Illumined Shadows by G.R Lyons 
  • Review Tour  for Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen
  • Release Blitz Tour –  – The Deafening Silence by Amy Tasukada
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review  Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen
  • A MelanieM Review: Loving a Warrior by Melanie Hansen
  • A MelanieM Review: The Holiday Spirit by Carole Cummings
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Advent Review:The Last Birthday Party by Mere Rain
  • An Alisa Review Surreal Estate by Jesi Lea Ryan

Thursday, December 6:

  • Review Tour – Kim Fielding – Summerfield’s Angel
  • Havoc (Tattoos and Ties) by Kindle Alexander New Release Tour
  • DSP PROMO Liv Olteano
  • Cover Reveal – A World Apart by Mel Gough
  • A MelanieM Review: Havoc (Tattoos and Ties) by Kindle Alexander
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Summerfield’s Angel by Kim Fielding
  • A MelanieM Advent Calendar Review: Warren’s Peace by Emjay Haze
  • A MelanieM Review:Lucky Town by Morgan Brice

Friday, December 7:

  • PROMO Jaime Samms
  • Mischief Corner Books”Escape From the Holidays” Collection
  • Blog Tour – The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai
  • An Alisa Review: The Last Prince by Shawn Bailey
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review:  Semper Fae by Angel Martinez
  • A Stella Advent Calendar Review:Trapped in the Valley of the Kings by Blue Jones
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: P.S. I Spook You by S.E. Harmon and Noah Michael Levine (Narrator)

Saturday, December 8:

  • Release Blitz – Nell Iris – Under The Felt Mistletoe
  • Release Blitz – The Selkie Prince’s Unexpected Omega (The Royal Alphas)
  • Release Blitz for Ari McKay – Designer Holiday
  • An Alisa Review: Slow Thaw by J. Scott Coatsworth (MCB anthology)
  • A Caryn Advent Calendar Review:The Faller by Daniel de Lorne

 

A MelanieM Review: The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

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.Vi   V

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 Phantom of the Opera story is one of my favorites, tragic, dramatic, horrifying in some ways, and romantic.  It’s been told and retold countless ways  from the original novel by Gaston Leroux to movies, plays, and yes, more novels with multiple twists and turns to the original theme and storyline.  I always wonder where the next author or  songwriter or whoever will take it next.  And what their spin will be.

Didn’t expect it to be Visual Kei and Japan.  But it turned out to be an unexpected draw for me and a perfect fit for a M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera. Visual Kei is a form of Japanese rock, think American Glam rock of the 80’s.  It’s still popular today but it’s heyday was the 80’s and it’s stars (GACKT was/is one as was bands like Malice Mizer, Raphael, and Dir En Grey) were gods.  They wore makeup, elaborate costumes, and often appeared gender fluid.  It’s into this world that Estella Mirai takes us.

The author sets her story in Tokyo and a visual kei band, La Rose Verboten, already in turmoil.  The self involved lead singer Bara is looking for an excuse to quit, the small time’s band’s popularity is dropping and the remaining members, Yasu, Minori, and the drummer Teru are trying desperately to hold on when Teru gets handed a card that states.

I can help you.  Call me.

And with that a familiar story is launched, turned, and becomes one of pain, lost chances, a young man’s discovery of his sexuality, hurt/comfort, anguish, and finally redemption and great love.  In Mirai’s hands the reader falls deeply not only under the spell of Japan and these young men but get’s pulled into the world of visual kei, it’s music and lyrics, the music industry itself, and the personal costs associated with stardom.  That is quite the narrative load and the author manages to combine it all into one incredible romance.

I will admit that I stumbled a bit on the romance part at the beginning.  As with every Phantom retelling, there’s a romance triangle to deal with.  The mystery man behind the card is Rei, tortured, scarred and wounded, he wears a mask of silver.  More of his background I won’t reveal but it is peeled back ever so slowly, each layer a revelation to Teru and to us the readers.  The other?  A young girl, Kiyomi, who went to school with Teru and is now his biggest fan.    For Teru, each represents a different direction his life can take.  With Kiyomi he can stay safe, pretend to be “het”, go home, and take up his old name.  Or accept he’s gay, and his feelings for  Rei as incredibly scary as they are, embrace the path he’s on and understand  love in all its forms.  And he can become not just a  drummer but the singer he was always meant to be.  And a star.

This is not an easy romance as one hopefully would expect.  One person has been traumatized and has the personality that comes from living in constant pain and dealing with a haunted past.  One is confused about his sexuality, his future, his gifts musically, he’s in the throws of his first real love and it’s with a person almost guaranteed to make a a road strewn with walls and boulders.  Then there is a young girl who wants to make everything easy….

Those  who hate cheating will have issues here but honestly this reads so real and human you understand  the issues here and how messy the human heart can be.

But the best of the best?  The final third of this story.  The parts that break your heart and put them back together again.  And oh that ending!   As they say in the theatre, that’s worth the price of the ticket!

Estella Mirai has a marvelous story here, borrowed from Gaston Leroux, and given a Japanese rock twist.  Her characters are beautifully layered, her story well written, and destined to stay with you long after the last bars of the song have been sung.

“sakikaeru made”

Yes it did.

Find out what that means by buying this incredible book.  I highly recommend it.    And don’t forget to read all about the real people chapter at the end.

Cover art: MiblArt. I loved the cover.  Perfect for the characters, tone, and storyline.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 309 pages
Expected publication: December 11th 2018
ISBN 139781684547715
Edition Language English

 

 

 

 

THE STARS MAY RISE AND FALL is  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.

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And Into December We Go! This Weekend at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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And Into December We Go!

 

With Thanksgiving leftovers still stockpiled in the refrigerator, a few final things this blogger is happily thankful for.  All the wonderful reviewers here at  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, the wonderful tour and promotional people and groups that work so  hard to help the authors get their stories and books promoted, the publishers, the editors (in every form), the writers producing all these amazing stories that transport us each and every day into other lives and worlds from contemporary to science fiction and everything in between.

And to all the readers of our blog in every format as well.  I’m thankful for you all too.  I love reading your comments and our interaction and look forward to December and soon another year together.

Hard to believe 2018 is ending soon.

This week we welcome the arrival of December.  Oh my.

If you look over this week’s schedule, much like the store’s decorations and merchandise all around you, you will notice the arrival of all the holiday stories has gone from a trickle to a flood.  It’s a veritable holiday feast of stories from Amy Lane to KC Wells.  There’s even a Hockey Holiday Anthology where 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to charity. December 1st also begins the start of our reviews of Dreamspinner Press’ Advent Calendar stories, one a day until the end of the month.  This year’s theme is Warmest Wishes!  We will also be reviewing again collections of stories from Mischief Corner Books, a grand selection that usually ranges from pagan to science fiction and many more.  That’s just touching on a small tip of our holiday story iceberg that’s awaiting you here!

Not that we will be forgetting our normal reviews for fantasy, contemporary, and other types of LGBTQIA fiction.  Nope, those will be included as well.  Busy, busy, busy.

Plus we need to start thinking about what stories and covers made our Best of 2018 this year.  Do you know which made your list?  Start jotting down names because you know I’m going to ask for them soon!

In the meantime, check out our schedule for the upcoming week, contemplate your leftovers if any, and happy reading!

 

 

This Weekend at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, November 25:

  • Release Blitz – JM Snyder’s Accidentally On Purpose
  • An Alisa Review: Centaur of Attention (College of United Monsters #2) by C.B. Archer
  • A MelanieM Review: Best in Show by Kelly Jensen

Monday, November 26:

  • REVIEW TOUR – Comply by Lee Manarte
  • Cover Reveal for Ithani by J.Scott Coatsworth
  • Release Blitz for Neutral Zone by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • REVIEW TOUR – Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert
  • A MelanieM Review: Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert
  • A Free Dreamer Review : Comply by Lee Manarte
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Rend by Roan Parrish

Tuesday, November 27:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Vampire With Benefits by EJ Russell
  • BLOG TOUR Rough Trade by Sidney Bell
  • Santa is a Vampire by Damian Serbu BLITZ Tour
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Sweet Clematis (Being(s) in Love #9) by R. Cooper
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review:Blood for the Spilling (Studies in Demonology #3) by TJ Nichols
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Blood for the Spilling (Studies in Demonology #3) by TJ Nichols
  • An Alisa Review: Santa is a Vampire by Damian Serbu
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Secretly Dating the Lionman (Cowboys and Angels: Book Two) by Sue Brown

Wednesday, November 28:

  • On Tour with Havoc (Tattoos and Ties) by Kindle Alexander
  • Release Blitz Tour Request – Melanie Hansen – Loving A Warrior
  • Review Tour for Mr Winterbourne’s Christmas by Joanna Chambers
  • An Alisa Review Santa’s Kinky Elf, Simon by Damian Serbu
  • A Lila Review The Billionaire’s Wish (My Billionaire #3) by Geoffrey Knight (
  • An Ali Review : Mr Winterbourne’s Christmas by Joanna Chambers
  • A Lucy Review: Stay Awhile (Escape from the Holidays) by Kassandra Lea
  • A MelanieM Review: Hockey Holidays Anthology – Various Authors

Thursday, November 29:

  • Release Week Blitz Christmas Lane by Amy Aislin
  • HARMONY INK GUEST POST Jeff Adams (video)
  • Beat of Their Own Drum by KM Neuhold , Blog Tour
  • An Alisa Review: Peaches and the Shadow by K.L. Noone
  • A MelanieM Review: The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai
  • A Lila Review: Beat of Their Own Drum by KM Neuhold
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Christmas Lane by Amy Aislin

Friday, November 30:

  • Review Tour – Jay Northcote – Stuck With You
  • Review Tour – Garrett Leigh – Crossroads (Skins #4)
  • Release Blitz for Old Acquaintance – Annabelle Jacobs
  • An Ashez Release Day Review: Strays and Lovers by John Inman
  • A Jeri Review : Crossroads (Skins #4) by Garrett Leigh
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review Semper Fae by Angel Martinez
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Stuck With You by Jay Northcote

Saturday, December 1:

  • Review Tour for Leta Blake – Mr Frosty Pants
  • Release Blitz – Santa Daddy – Keira Andrews
  • Release Blitz – DJ Jamison – All I Want Is You
  • An Alisa Review Burning Down the House (Escape from the Holidays) by Gregory L. Norris
  • A Jeri Review : Mr. Frosty Pants (Home for the Holidays #1) by Leta Blake
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Law of Miracles by KC Wells
  • A Caryn Advent Calendar Review: An Everyday Hero (2018 Advent Calendar Daily – Warmest Wishes)
    by E.J. Russell

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Hidden in Darkness (In Darkness #1) by Alice Winters and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Joel, Joel, Joel. The man of a thousand voices. And when he vocalizes a younger, less experienced, or smaller, less aggressive character, he brings such life, such wonderful humanity to the character’s interactions that I may as well be sitting in front of a big screen TV.  I can picture every wonderful minute.  That’s what happened here.

I really enjoyed this story, and I know that was due, in large part, to Joel Leslie’s narration. The characters were engaging and fun with each other. Their snarky and disparaging words may have come across as rude and nasty on paper, but delivered by this talented voice actor, the barbs and insults were just plain funny! I fell in love with Felix. What a gem! Totally enjoyable and not one to live with caution. He barges into situations without much forethought and then somehow manages to get himself out of trouble.

He also takes the straight-laced Lane and makes him unquestionably loveable. Lane was an undercover copy who was tortured and blinded by one of the men he was stalking. When Felix enters his life to “assist” him in his daily life, his life becomes something he never dreamed of. Instead of feeling sorry for the blind guy, Felix pokes and prods and nags and niggles and Lane gives back just as much as he gets.  Through Felix, we see Lane come to a greater acceptance of his blindness and definitely to a greater acceptance for and need for Felix.  Their relationship is solid by the last scene.

I highly recommend this story in audio format. I’ve just learned there’s a sequel narrated by Joel.  I’ll be on that like syrup on a pancake. This is just the perfect sort of action-packed, and humor-packed, adventure I like to listen to on my walks, or in the car, and because I couldn’t get enough of these characters in Joel’s voice, this one may have accompanied me while I was working. Yes. It’s that good.

The cover features a close-up of a man in a suit jacket and tie, but only the lower half of his face. The tone is dark with a black background. It’s very symbolic of the darkness in which Lane lives.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published February 17th 2018)
ASINB07HJD9RBH
Edition Language English
Series In Darkness #1

An Alisa Audio Review: Alpha Heat (Heat of Love #2) by Leta Blake and Michael Ferraiuolo (Narrator)

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Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

 

A desperate young alpha. An older alpha with a hero complex. A forbidden love that can’t be denied.

 

Young Xan Heelies knows he can never have what he truly wants: a passionate romance and happy-ever-after with another alpha. It’s not only forbidden by the prevailing faith of the land, but such acts are illegal.

 

Urho Chase is a middle-aged alpha with a heartbreaking past. Careful, controlled, and steadfast, his friends dub him old-fashioned and staid. When Urho discovers a dangerous side to Xan’s life that he never imagined, his world is rocked and he’s consumed by desire. The carefully sewn seams that held him together after the loss of his omega and son come apart—and so does he.

 

But to love each other and make a life together, Xan and Urho risk utter ruin. With the acceptance and support of Caleb, Xan’s asexual and aromantic omega and dear friend, they must find the strength to embrace danger and build the family they deserve.

 

Another great book in this series.  I felt for Xan in the first book and to see how he has struggled the last few years made my heart break.  Urho finds out about Xan in the worst possible way but what he thinks is a straight forward plan to help quickly becomes more complicated.

 

I loved both Xan and Urho and could easily see their struggles to accept themselves and how their lives would be but how wonderful it was once all the walls were broken down.  I also adored Xan’s omega, Caleb, he is so accepting of Xan and Urho; it’s his unconditional support that helped them the most.  Their support for each other and family in the end was great and the fact that they were pretty much giving societal standards the finger was nice.

 

Michael Ferraiuolo did another great job narrating this story.  I was easily able to connect with the characters feel their emotions as he used different voices for the characters.  I have to just say again he does speak quite slowly and with increasing the speed it was made better, which also shortens how long the book takes to listen to, if that deters anyone.

 

Cover art by Dar Albert is great, I love the visual of the characters together and that it follows the same style as Slow Heat.

 

Sales Link:  Audible | Amazon | iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 15 hrs 22 min
Published: October 22, 2018 by Leta Blake
Edition Language: English

Series: Heat of Love #2

My Thankful List? Great Editors! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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On My Thankful List? Great Editors!

As we countdown to Thanksgiving, I start thinking about things I’m grateful for.  It’s not always the usual things on everyone else’s lists.  The oddest or not so odd things pop up every day that can make me grateful for various and sundry items that might not get mentioned around the turkey table come Thanksgiving. So I thought I might bring up a few starting with a doozy that struck me yesterday (and almost every day at this blog).

Editors!

I’m absolutely, stupendously, over the moon grateful to every great editor out there still  squinting at every submitted manuscript and soon to be released books they have before them, working furiously to make sure that what is finally accepted/or released, if that, is worthy of both the author and publisher as well as the reader’s emotional (and monetary) input.  Someone who throughout the process with their red pen/pencil/marker/sword of blood/ cuts a swath through any writer’s purple prose, dense narrative, self involved point of view (goddess help me, the “I, I, I, I, I’s”), the love of tricks over substance, and cliche over depth.  That’s without even getting a start on spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Damn why is the umlaut there?  I know wherefore art thou umlaut and it’s not  (insert curse word) there!

Don’t even get me started on word choice! Argh!  The help some writers have needed here!  There’s apparently a whole bunch of people out there with nary of clue about words and their definitions, just picking them willy nilly out of the air!  Miss Malaprops Indeed!

Poor overworked editors!  In the larger publishing houses, jobs are broken down into smaller sections, some of which I listed below:

Developmental editor—As detailed above, the developmental editor helps the writer from the idea stage through the final draft. He may suggest topics, help with research, verify facts, and plan the structure of the manuscript. He works through successive drafts with the writer. He’s as concerned with the structure of a manuscript as much as he is the words and meaning.*

Substantive editor—Helps a writer improve his fiction manuscript by focusing on story elements, plot, characterization, dialogue, order of scenes, point of view, voice, setting, word choice, sentence construction and syntax, and pace—anything that could improve the strength of the manuscript.

And Copy Editors that do fact checking as well as all the other things I listed above, line item elements such as spelling, etc..

But for smaller publishers and Editing services (proofreaders and copy editors), how many of those are rolled into one or two people?

I sometimes cringe when I read an acknowledgement or forward from a writer that talks about friends that read the manuscript and told them to publish it.  The writer thanks them for their loving support and encouragement.  I mentally think “that’s terrific”, and then hope that author also found a editor too.   Sigh.  Oh the perils of self publishing.  Or even a publishing house as well.  A editor doesn’t always mean a good or great editor.  Again my kudos to all you great ones out there!

Some err towards being a friend and  middling copy checker.  Nuh uh.  And trust me, that can do far more harm once that book hits release time.

How many reviews have you all read that said needed a editor or better editor?  Yep! So true.  There’s a reason for that.

What exactly is the role of an editor anyway?  Well, here is a definition I found repeated several blogs:

An editor polishes and refines, [they] direct the focus of the story or article or movie along a particular course. [They] cut out what doesn’t fit, what is nonessential to the purpose of the story. They enhance the major points, drawing attention to places where the audience should focus.

Some of that is almost guaranteed to make a writer gnash their teeth, weep tears, and pull out some hairs.  No one wants to cut words, sentences, characters, or even whole parts of plots to have a book make sense. Yet that’s an editor’s job if that’s what it takes to make the story cleaner, polished, and substantially a finer story. And the author a better writer.  It’s a process.

Again, when you say you hired a editor, what did you hire?  Or did you hire a Proofreader?  Not the same as any good or great editor will tell you.  Each and everyone has a job to do.  Hire the right one for the right job.

Really someone should have stopped these headers, right? Or placement?

One of my favorite blogs is called the Blood Red Pencil which focus’ on writing and, of course, editing.   If you are as fond of the subject as I am  check out the link below:

Blood-Red Pencil: Do Editors Use Red Pencils?

 

As to what launched this week’s post, well, it’s Thanksgiving.  I’m just going to say I’m so grateful to each and everyone one of you  overworked, gorgeous, and absolutely fabulous editors who have provided such incredible help to the authors and their stories I’ve read all through the years!  I appreciate your hard work, I hope if you’re in the States you have a great Thanksgiving, or weekend if you’re abroad.  Kudos to you all!  A big Mwah!

Thoughts anyone?

Now onto this week’s books and tours.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 Sunday, November 18:

  • RELEASE BLITZ – Comply by Lee Manarte
  • Review Tour and Giveaway for  Heat For Sale by Blake Moreno
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Heat for Sale by Blake Moreno
  • My Thankful List? Great Editors!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, November 19:

  • Release Blitz To Be Honest by S. M. James
  • Sale Blitz for 2 Robert Winter Titles
  • BLOG TOUR Secrets Revealed (Dragon War Chronicles Book 2) by AG Carothers
  • An Alisa Review: Date from Hell by Gareth Vaughn
  • An Alisa Review: Lost and Found (Dave&Carter) by Quin Perin
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Secrets Revealed (Dragon War Chronicles #2) by A.G. Carothers
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Finn by Angel Martinez

Tuesday, November 20:

  • Kaje Harper on Fair Isn’t Life
  • BLOG TOUR The Billionaire’s Wish by Geoffrey Knight
  • Release Blitz – Garrett Leigh – Crossroads (Skins #4)
  • A MelanieM Review The Burning Magus (Blue Unicorn #3) by Don Allmon
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Quenched in Blood (Asheville Arcana #3) by Ari McKay
  • A Caryn Review:Semper Fae (Endangered Fae #3) by Angel Martinez
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review:  His Consort by Mary Calmes

Wednesday, November 21:

  • Review Tour Leta Blake – Alpha Heat
  • BLOG TOUR Broken Halos by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • Release Blitz – Joanna Chambers – Mr Winterbourne’s
  • A Lucy Review: His Christmas Sweater by CM VAlencourt
  • An Ashlez Review : Walking In A Winter Wonderland by Claire Castle
  • A Stella Review: Accidentally On Purpose by JM Snyder
  • An Alisa Audio Review: Alpha Heat (Heat of Love #2) by Leta Blake and Michael Ferraiuolo (Narrator)

Thursday, November 22: Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Book Blast – Polyamory on Trial by Jude Tresswell
  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: The Burning Magus by Don Allmon
  • An Alisa Review: A Fated Bond by T.L. West
  • A MelanieM Review:  Blackwood (Perth Shifters #1) by Pia Foxhall
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Rabi and Matthew by L.A. Witt

Friday, November 23:

  • Review Tour – LA Witt – The Husband Gambit
  • Release Blitz – Pia Foxhall – Blackwood (Perth Shifters #1)
  • Release Blitz Tour – Jay Northcote – Stuck With You
  • An Ali Release Day Review: My Regelence Rake (The Sci-Regency #3) by J.L. Langley
  • A MelanieM Review:  The Husband Gambit by L.A. Witt
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Diego (Endangered Fae #2) by Angel Martinez

Saturday, November 24:

  • Tour The Cub Club by Ardy Kelly
  • Release Blitz with ARC Reviews – Lost and Found by Quin Perin
  • Judith/Oz by Lily Morton Release Blitz and Review
  • A MelanieM Review: Best in Show by Kelly Jensen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Editor’s Blog

Thoughts on Holiday Movies and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Thoughts on Holiday Movies

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I grew up with the tradition that at a certain time of the year, our tv screens at home were constantly filled with holiday movies.  A quick check of the TV Guide (oh yes, that bible of channels back then) to see when to watch such traditional fare  like Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, A Charlie Brown Christmas (cartoon), Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (cartoon), Santa Claus is Coming to Town (cartoon), and of course the classic of all classics It’s a Wonderful Life.

I got older and the movies graduated to The Grinch, A Christmas Story, The Santa Claus, Elf, Home Alone, and Love Actually.  And the Hallmark movies.  Oodles of them!

You leave home but somehow the traditions made growing up during the holidays follow you, especially when your mother calls to see if you are watching the movies (you are), she’s sniffling (as she always does) because, hey, holiday movies.  Hallmark has this down pat.  And after Thanksgiving they start running Christmas movies 24/7 (2 channels) which makes my mother giddy with seasonal bliss.  All the movies have a similar look and comforting feel, nothing too out of the ordinary to upset its viewing audience. Snow, adorable couple which has always looked the same movie after movie (often the same actors) and picturesque small towns in New England or lately the Northwest, ala islands in the Puget Sound. Similar scripts with heartwarming happy endings, usually with the snow starting to swirl about the couple’s head as they kiss (under the mistletoe, under a star, skating rink, etc.).

And almost always the couple is  white and hetrosexual. Very homogeneous right down to the religion. Which shouldn’t be surprising given Hallmark’s years in business, background, and, yes, audience.

Now that has started to change as people of color have appeared in roles as main characters, not just as the person running through the scene or the best friend you never see again. But something happened last week that made me wonder if Hallmark is thinking of making another tentative step forward again.  Hence this blog today.

There I was trying,once more to get involved in a story that just refused to contain my interest, my RPG laid closeby calling my name, the dogs were on the bed, and I had the new Hallmark Christmas movie playing on the tv, Road to Christmas.  I was only half heartedly paying attention to it when I heard some dialog like “you and your partner have your own Christmas traditions”….and boom! Interest engaged!

So story about a tv chef named Wise, her 3 adopted estranged sons (the Wise men ,get it?), and the young woman who works for her who reunited  them at Christmas time during a tv special.  She gets a boyfriend out of it too. Well, it turns out that one, (sweater, black rim glasses, perfectly coiffed hair) runs a animal rescue with his partner where it seems they live as well.  They have developed their own holiday traditions for themselves.  I blink.  They, uh, seem to be a couple. Huh. No touching, no indication of that really, cause Hallmark.  And at the end when the brothers are reunited at their mother’s home in the lovely picturesque mountains, guess who is watching it happen on live tv, adoringly, from their pet rescue/home?  Yep, it’s the partner. Home alone.

But it made me think. Was it a step forward?  Or was I reading too much into it?  Classic gay guy(s)?  Or Hallmark’s version of nerdy pet rescuer? Hmmmm.  Don’t know excerpt I’ve read that guy over and over again in countless M/M novels. So yes, I recognized him.  I think you all would too.  Thoughts, anyone?  Did anyone else see that movie?

Hallmark isn’t the only cable channel with holiday movies on it.  There’s Lifetime (Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever is one in case you were wondering), ABC Family, Oxygen, and a couple whose names escape me at the moment.  The amount of diversity in the movies varies, from none to, well, let’s say getting better.  Holiday movies really seem like the last frontier in my mind that remains to be (and needs to be) broken.  I’m hoping what I saw is the first baby steps taken by a major player in the holiday movie industry.  I can always hope.  Tis the season after all.3+

Until then I will have Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, Charlie Brown and that woeful tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas, Love Actually and Colin, God of Sex, White Christmas with “Sisters”,Miracle on 34th Street and that cane, and of course, Clarence and his bell in It’s a Wonderful Life.  And all the other countless movies and memories that mean the holidays to me.  How did I forget A Christmas Carol, every single version?  Oh my!

So yes, my tv is full of holiday movies, my Kindle getting primed with holiday stories, of which the reviews are just now starting to be posted.

And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

 

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, November 11:

  • Thoughts on Holiday Movies
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, November 12:

  • Beat of Their Own Drum by KM Neuhold Release Blitz
  • Release Blitz,for Lucky Town by Morgan Brice
  • Promo for Rick R. Reed
  • A MelanieM Review: Mary, Queen of Scotch by Rob Rosen
  • A Lila Review: Death Benefits by William Holden
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  A Vampire’s Heart by Kayleigh Sky
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Loving Loch by Kris Jacen

Tuesday, November 13:

  • In The Spotlight Tour and Giveaway:Renewing Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • Release Blitz A Kiss Before Christmas by A E Ryecart
  • On Tour with Rob Rosen on Mary, Queen of Scotch
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Heart of a Redneck by Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
  • A MelanieM Review: Renewing Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • A Lucy Review: A Kiss Before Christmas by A E Ryecart

Wednesday, November 14:

  • In the Spotlight Tour for Heart of a Redneck by Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
  • Release Blitz – A Vampire’s Heart – Kayleigh Sky
  • Alan Semrow Ripe: Letters *Author Tour*
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: The Art of Hero Worship by Mia Kerick
  • A Jeri Review: Pay It Forward (Giving Back #1) by Nic Starr (
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Blood Red Roulette by Jana Denardo

Thursday, November 15:

  • DSP Promo Z.A. Maxfield
  • Pay It Forward by Nic Starr Author Promo Tour
  • Release Blitz Tour – LA Witt – The Husband Gambit
  • Release Blitz & Review Tour – Mr Frosty Pants by Leta Blake
  • An Ashlez Review Kinky Pride Collection by Shannon West, TS McKinney, Sara York, Susan E Scott
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker
  • A Stella Review: Bishop Ridge (Sawyer’s Ferry #2) by Cate Ashwood

Friday, November 16:

  • HARMONY INK GUEST POST Gene Gant
  • Release Blitz – Irresistible Indigo (D’Vaire, Book 9) by Jessamyn Kingley
  • Review Tour – Ari McKay’s Seeking Solace (The Walker Boys #3)
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Fair Isn’t Life by Kaje Harper
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Cops and Comix (Murder and Mayhem) by Rhys Ford
  • A Lucy Review: Seeking Solace (The Walker Boys #3) by Ari McKay

Saturday, November 17:

  • Release Blitz – Walking In A Winter Wonderland – Claire Castle
  • A MelanieM Review:  Best in Show by Kelly Jensen

 

A MelanieM Audio Review: Love You so Madly (Love You So Stories #2) by Tara Lain and Ry Forest (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

A Love You So story.

Ben Shane has it all…and he’d like to give some of it back. While he loves his job heading a foundation that funds worthy causes around the world, his engagement to one of America’s wealthiest men leaves him feeling more like a trophy wife than a valued partner. The first warning that his relationship might not be designed to last is his irresistible lust for Dusty Kincaid, the golden-haired, bright-eyed handyman for his company.

Though Dusty is odd for a 23-year-old – no liquor, no sugar, and he can’t even drive – the more Ben gets to know Dusty, the more he admires him. But is Ben going to give up a guy who drives a Ferrari for one who takes the bus?

He must be mad. Dusty knows he and Ben can never work. After all, Ben’s perfect…and Dusty isn’t. But Ben might surprise everyone with proof that he’s only mad in love.

If you love sweet contemporary MM romance, then here is a light-hearted story that is high on the warmth, feel goodery aspect and pretty much low on the angst.  It’s also on the short side, so if you are new to the experience of listening to novels in the audioformat, this is  just the right length for a first introduction.

Lain’s character of Ben Shane is someone we can all connect with.  Hardworking, Ben is totally invested in his job working with charities and finding investors to partner with them.  It’s rewarding work and he enjoys it, long hours and all.  Not so his wealthy, privileged fiance,Alan Ashland, who feels that Ben’s time should be spent with him, ala kept husband since Alan has more money he can spend in several lifetimes.  It doesn’t seem to matter what Ben is saying about the importance of his job or work, Alan doesn’t seem to be getting it.  Not a great thing with a wedding in the works.

I loved the character of Ben, he’s well defined, layered, and relatable.  Alan?  Well, he’s just about every rich boy stereotype rolled into one, and that may be accurate, as a person, he doesn’t come across as anything but less dimensional.  Probably intentionally as he’s not someone you  would want to spend time with.  The voice given to him by narrator Ry Forrest reinforces that impression perfectly of a spoiled rich young man with all the depth of a summer puddle on a 100 degree day.  Nope, not lidable at all.

Than there’s Dusty who comes with a  bit of a mystery.  It won’t take a genius for someone to figure out it’s medical but as I don’t do spoilers I won;t go further here.  Dustry is the polar opposite of Alan.  With a wide open personality, charming and fun, happy and easy to be around, Ben is quickly drawn to the man that is everything he needs and wants.

This romance drew me in as quickly as I connected to the men involved.  The contrast with Alan’s annoying appearances with Dusty’s interaction with Ben and, well, everyone around him, it was clear chemistry in the air. There is a riotous, strong woman at the center as well.  Adored her too. No, not Dusty’s mother.

If I had my concerns, it was bringing up a serious medical issues in a short story of this length.  I don’t believe you can adequately address it but Tara Lain    does a good job.

This story moves along quickly, there’s obstacles (because of course you have to have a few), and and absolutely lovely ending.  The original story is only 120 pages in all, so when  I say it goes by swiftly, it does.  The narrator, Ry Forest , does an excellent job with all the characters, different voices no matter the gender, and manages to sweep us along on this sweet emotional rollercoaster ride of a romance.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  I love this cover.  It’s in keeping with the branding for the series but it’s lightness and sweetness is in character for Dusty.

Sales Links:    Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 4 hours and 36 minutes

Audible Audio, 5 pages
Published September 14th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 29th 2018)
Original Title Love You So Madly
ASIN B07HB5VT9L
Edition Language English
Series Love You So Stories #2
setting California (United States)