A MelanieM Review: Earnest Ink by Alex Hall

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Rating:: 4.5 stars out of 5

While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long. Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.

When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim. But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too.

I am always enthusiastic about the stories that flow out of the mind of author Alex Hall because I know the tales will be imaginative, with twists and turns, marvelous characters with attention to details in personality and background, and as it demonstrated here, a fabulous ability to deliver a world of magic realism so very believable that i fell into it from the first page.

Earnest Ink by Alex Hall is a story that builds slowly as we get to know the characters and the world they now inhabit, one that changed drastically within their own lifetimes.  Changing their worlds and in some cases themselves fundamentally.  It’s a story revealed in pieces, pulled back in layers, as the current days events take place and our characters rush forward towards mysteries and crises that will have permanent impact on everyone.

The people encountered from the focal person of famous tattoo artist Hemingway are as incredibly complex as Hemingway is.. That extends to the roles they may play in Hemingway’s life, which may change direction or impact in a blink.  Who is trustworthy and who is not is always up for discussion.  Throw in the hunt for a gruesome killer, Jack the  Ripper, along with other mysteries, and you have a gripping thriller with tiny hints of a possible future  romance and an open ended future for all.

And that is the only thing that keeps this book from five stars.  The air of expectation for something more at the end.  A need for continuing on, that so much remains to be done or is left to be finished for everyone here.  I almost felt as though we were at 3/4 th of the story or perhaps that I should be able to sail quickly onto another book.  I was most not ready to leave this world and characters behind.

Love magic realism?  In need of a great new story to read?  I highly recommend Earnest Ink by Alex Hall.  I’m still thinking about the characters and their lives, and hoping that Hall will return to them once more for an update.

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  A beautiful cover with a major element towards the ending.

Sales Links:    NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 14th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781951057121
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady: Howling on Hold by EJ Russell

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I admit, I was attracted to this story by the cover and the blurb—and the fact that it was a standalone since I haven’t read any of the author’s other stories and I don’t like starting in the middle of a series. But I was disappointed in that there were multiple characters from previous books who played a strong secondary role in this story. There were also references to situations and past events that those who’ve read the other books would likely recognize. 

Apparently, though, when it comes to werewolves, this is the first time they’ve been explored. Those other books were about the Fae, and vampires, and other shifters and more, whereas this one focused on werewolf packs, their hierarchy, and the training of “juniors,” those who have passed certain criteria and now enter a three-year Howling school where they learn how to suppress the things that make them wolves so they can pass unnoticed in the human world. This book is about Tanner, a young wolf howling student who turns 21 and is worried that his uncle will call him back early so he can take over his legacy as pack alpha, his dad having died years before. And it’s about his RA in “the Doghouse,” Chase Denney, a guy with high moral standards who refuses to act on his attraction to Tanner. 

After a series of misunderstandings and a possible threat on his life, Tanner goes into hiding for three months. Chase isn’t aware he’s gone, due to his own series of misadventures that bans him from going back to the Doghouse, and when he returns, he immediately sets out to find Tanner and tell him how he really feels. Even when the two find each other, there’s still threats from otherworldly creatures to contend with, intercessions and assistance by the (apparently important) characters from previous books, and a dirty, underhanded plot from one of Tanner’s family members.

To be honest, the story felt way too busy with information overload. Perhaps it hit me that way because the author was trying to fill in all the past issues for those new to the book, or perhaps that’s the author’s writing style, but there was a lot of narrative, and in proportion, very little dialogue. Facts, facts, and more facts had my head spinning with information I did not find interesting so I had a difficult time following many parts of the story. I enjoyed the sweet and simple romance between the two young men, but that took up very little page time. A few less characters, both new and past, and a few less plot twists would have gone a long way toward making this a better book. More face-to-face time with more dialogue, less about the antics of the other wolves in the house (which didn’t seem to go anywhere or have a point to them), and a note linking this to the other books in this paranormal world would definitely have made the story more enjoyable.

The cover by L C Chase is really attractive and shows, in cartoon style, a wolf standing on a cliff edge, howling at the sky, with a cartoon bubble filled with hearts coming out of his mouth, instead of the traditional howl. Very cute and it’s what sold me on reading this story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 237 pages
Published January 13th 2020 by Riptide Publishing
ASINB081H7NLR6
Edition Language English

Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy? Check Out the Book Blast with Excerpt for Earnest Ink by Alex Hall

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Earnest Ink

Author: Alex Hall

Publisher: Nine Star Press

Published: October 14, 2019

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Genre/s: Queer Spec Fic, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense

Trope/s: Found family

Themes: Mystery/adventure

Heat Rating:  1 flame

Orientation: Asexual, Pansexual

Identity: Cisgender, Trans

Warning: Depictions of Trauma, Blood, Violence, Murder,

Eating disorders, Body hatred, Transphobia, PTSD, War

Length: 72 100 words/244 pages

It is a standalone book.

Add on Goodreads

 

 

Blurb 

While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long. Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.

When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim. But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too. 

 

Buy Links

NineStar Press  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Smashwords  |  B&N  | Kobo

 

Excerpt 

Earnest Ink

Alex Hall © 2019

All Rights Reserved

I work without speaking because that’s the way I prefer it. The vibration of my machine, the softer buzz of the fluorescent lights overhead, the tap of my foot on the pedal—it’s the best music in the world.

When I hit a ticklish spot, the girl I’m working on gasps, jolting in my chair.

“Don’t move,” I say. And then, with a salesman’s false cheer: “Almost done!”

The girl is sweating down the crook of her neck. She’s got silver glitter paint on her eyelids and cheeks, a new fashion trend I just can’t quite get behind. Under my lights the mix of perspiration and makeup looks like a blurry constellation.

She wanted a bee inked onto her collarbone, one of those tiny honeybees you find on good tequila bottles. Easily done, and she met the cash requirement. She’s eager, nervous, and breathing in and out in little puffs.

I can’t remember her name, but that’s fine. Customer relations is Eric’s job.

There’s another kid leaning over my glass counter, watching eagerly as I work. “Does it hurt?” he asks. “When the magic happens?”

The bee’s fat yellow thorax wriggles from side to side as it begins to wake, fighting the pressure of my needle, hungry for life.

“It looks like it hurts,” the kid says. I ignore him.

One minute more and—thanks to my peculiar magic—this bee will fly free.

I’m perched on a swivel stool, a wet paper towel in my hand to wipe away ink. It’s too hot in my studio, even with the industrial fans whirling overhead and the door propped wide open. Evening light slants in through the door and the north-facing, floor-to-ceiling window panes that look out onto West Forty-Sixth. It’s muggy, too warm for New York in October, and all of Hell’s Kitchen is wilting, including my client.

“What does it feel like?” the kid demands. He’s leaving greasy fingerprints on the surface of the glass as he strains to get a better look at what I’m doing. I study him out the corner of my eye, wiping sweat off my nose with the back of my wrist before it drips on my customer. He looks like one of the street punks who have taken to running in packs near the cruise terminals, sleeping in old, abandoned cargo containers and panhandling up and down the marina.

He’s skinny and tall, hair dyed an unsettling violet and styled into spikes all over his head. He’s got a silver ring in his septum and more hoops in his ears; his eyelashes are coated with purple mascara to match his hair. Green glitter paint sparkles on his lids. His T-shirt and jeans are torn and dirty, and he’s got a pack of black-market cigarettes rolled into one sleeve against his upper arm.

 

 

 About the Author 

Sarah Remy/Alex Hall is a nonbinary, animal-loving, proud gamer Geek.

Their work can be found in a variety of cool places, including HarperVoyager, EDGE and NineStar Press

 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Twitter: @sarahremywrites 

 

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

A MelanieM Review The Edge of the World by Garrett Leigh

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Shay Maloney is living his dream—on tour with his pirate/folk-rock band. But you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from, and that’s where moody filmmaker and researcher Ollie Pietruska comes in.

The band’s management persuades Shay to let a television company film a documentary about his roots beyond his adoptive Irish family, and Ollie comes into his life knowing more about Shay than Shay’s ever known about himself.

But while Ollie holds the key to Shay’s past, he’s also hiding deep scars. Even as the hardships of the tour bring them closer, Ollie’s demons threaten the blossoming romance. They might both reach the breaking point before Ollie realises he’s been standing on the edge of the world for too long, and it’s Shay who holds the key to his future.

A friends-to-lovers, rock star, road-tripping romance, with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

Shay Maloney and Ollie Pietruska just may be my favorite Garrett Leigh couple yet.  And that is saying a lot after all the wonderful stories I have read by this author.  But it didn’t take long for me to fall under the spell cast by these men, their incredible chemistry, and the intriguing format that Leigh created for their tale in The Edge of the World by Garrett Leigh.  

Add up two indelible characters, a memorable ragtag fusion folk band on tour, and a mystery of a lost ancestry, and Garrett Leigh had me hooked not only on a hurt/comfort romance but a mystery as well.  A narrative rich in intriguing characters, nationalities,  with a realness seated in one man’s coping with diabetes and another’s trauma, this story has it all.

And connecting it, an elusive music just out of reach, full of drums, flutes, pianos, and a pounding of feet the reader so dearly wants to be a part of .

This is a book of the  senses we ache to feel, beautifully written, gorgeously constructed.  With men so believable I hung on every part of their relationship. so fully invested I couldn’t bear to put down the Kindle until it was finished.  And then was sorry to leave them there, happy and in love.

Definitely a story for me to revisit, I love them that much.  I think you will too.   I guess you already you I am recommending it. Of course you do!

Cover Design: Black Jazz Designh:  How perfect is that cover!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 223 pages
Published January 16th 2020 by Fox Love Press

Don’t Miss Out on the Review Tour and Giveaway for The Edge Of The World by Garrett Leigh

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 60,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Shay Maloney is living his dream—on tour with his pirate/folk-rock band. But you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from, and that’s where moody filmmaker and researcher Ollie Pietruska comes in.


The band’s management persuades Shay to let a television company film a documentary about his roots beyond his adoptive Irish family, and Ollie comes into his life knowing more about Shay than Shay’s ever known about himself.


But while Ollie holds the key to Shay’s past, he’s also hiding deep scars. Even as the hardships of the tour bring them closer, Ollie’s demons threaten the blossoming romance. They might both reach the breaking point before Ollie realises he’s been standing on the edge of the world for too long, and it’s Shay who holds the key to his future.


A friends-to-lovers, rock star, road-tripping romance, with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer.


Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.


When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.


Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.


Website: http://www.garrettleigh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh

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So Squirrels. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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So… Squirrels

 

So as I counted down the days until Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words went on hiatus, I had things to do and wanted everything to go in a tidy, organized manner.  So of course, everything rapidly descended into chaos.  The dishwasher broke down, I had to deal with family RL issues, and then there were squirrels.  Well, a squirrel.  In the house.  For an extended stay.

Looks around.

I think he or she is finally gone.  Of course, with this one, you just don’t know.

Had squirrels in the house before.  Some brought in via the many animals, furkids who have lived here over the years.  Moles, voles, shrews, chipmunks, and the occasional field mouse have all made it in as the unfortunate “living gifts or toys” from various cats and dogs over the years.  Most actually made it back outside.  Then there are the visitors down through the chimney., that wonderful artificial “tree hollow” that has seen so many over the decades (my father built this house).

Most of the squirrels and I have come to a tried and true method when they arrive into the family room that way.  I open the back doors into the yard and boom, out they go.  No drama, all very  neat and quick.  I had assumed we, the squirrel community and I had an agreement on this. All very civilized of course.

But it seems in every small group there exists a rebel.  One who goes left, when all the others go right.  That is the squirrel who came down the chimney several days ago.

They did not go right out the door into the yard.  Nooooooo.  They went  left.  Dashing madly up the stairs into the living room where my tubby little dog awaited!  With glee!  They then proceeded to zoom around many levels of house, levels of rooms, well the squirrel did, tubby didn’t.  Then it happened.  I lost track of the squirrel.  And it went stealth.  No chattering, nothing.

And its scent was everywhere so said dog couldn’t find him.  Although to be fair my sausage with a head gave it his all.  All day and all night tracking the now quiet and unmoving squirrel. I had looked with my trusty flashlight.  The next day, we had a sighting!  And then it went quickly hiding until located once more. I mean is this squirrel a secret Russian operative?

Found!  Unbelievably in the closet full of Christmas Nutcrackers (honestly who writes these things) in the library, up behind all those boxes.  Couldn’t get to it and that squirrel wasn’t coming out.  So new tactic.  Call Animal Control with the nets to come and get it to release.  Right? Nope. I should have remembered.  Unless it’s actually in a trap, nope.  Back to square one. My own method.  While I was pondering what to do, Rambo squirrel made a move, busted out of the louvered door closet and out of the library for another round of madcap chasing.  Door propped up, and again I didn’t see it go out.

Sigh.

Tubby is investigating my desk in the library and the closet as I write this.  No idea if the squirrel is out or in.  Time will tell.

Good news, my little dog has had more exercise than if he’d had a zillion Peloton workouts.  Yay squirrel.

Honestly, I think its out, don’t you? 😬

In the meantime, I am thinking the hiatus will be more like me making intermittent reviews and ramblings until we are back fulltime in June 2020.  Too many books to talk about and apparently things to say.

So stay tuned, more on this later on.

 

 

 

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

 

Sunday, January 26:

  • So Squirrels. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, January 27:

  • Review Tour – Garrett Leigh – The Edge Of The World
  • A MelanieM Review: The Edge of the World by Garrett Leigh
  • A MelanieM Review: Ted of the d’Urbervilles by Rob Rosen

Tuesday, January 28:

  • Book Blast – Earnest Ink by Alex Hall
  • AUDIOBOOK TOUR – Love’s Trials by Janice Jarrell
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady:Howling on Hold by EJ Russell
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Loose Ends (Badlands Book 4) by Morgan Brice

Wednesday, January 29:

  • REòEASE BLITZ Bound to Liberty by Kai Tyler
  • Release Blitz – Hold Me Up by Colette Davison
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Stay Lucky by Leta Blake
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review Asylum by Julian Burnes

Thursday, January 30:

  • BLITZ Better Than Beginnings by Lane Hayes
  • Tour: BL Dayhoff on The Right Move
  • A MelanieM Review: Loose Ends (Badlands Book 4) by Morgan Brice
  • A Free Dreamer Review Out of Time (Out of Time #5) by C.B. Lewis
  • A MelanieM Review:Howling on Hold by EJ Russell

Friday, January 31:

  • Blog Tour – Loose Ends (Badlands Book 4) by Morgan Brice
  • Release Blitz – Say It (Fascination Series Book 1) by Sky McCoy
  • Release Blitz with ARC Reviews – Fight For This by Suki Fleet
  • A MelanieM Review: Head in the Game by Jeff Adams
  • A MelanieM Audio Review:All I Want Is You by DJ Jamison and Wyatt Baker (Narrator)

Saturday, February 1:

  • So What Happens Next?

A Free Dreamer Review: Time Turns (Out of Time #4) by C.B. Lewis

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

As a consultant analyst for the most technologically advanced firms in the country, Danny Ferguson knows he’s seen a lot of crazy stuff, but nothing comes close to his newest position at the Temporal Research Institute, the world’s foremost time travel organisation.

The corrupted piece of code Ferguson found on the TRI’s closed network is a serious concern for Lysander O’Donohue, the director of the TRI. Unable to trust his own people—any one of whom might be the source—he’s forced to put all his trust in Danny to solve the mystery of the corrupt code and find the identity of the enemy within.

But when an unexpected temporal gate opens, a straightforward code analysis becomes something a lot more complicated.

I read and really enjoyed part three of the series, so I was eager to get my hands on the next book. And Time Turns certainly didn’t disappoint.

While this is part four of an ongoing series, I think it works perfectly fine as a stand-alone. The protagonists from part three get barely any on-page scenes and the important events are summed up early on. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t read part three, though, because it’s just as good as this one, albeit quite different.

Coding isn’t necessarily something I’m crazy about. The few times I’ve been exposed to it, I found rather boring. But this book actually made it seem really fascinating. The way Danny works with it is like a new form of art. You don’t need to understand it to appreciate its beauty. And the author didn’t delve too deeply into the theory, so it never got boring or confusing.

I was utterly captivated from the very beginning and I used every free second to continue reading. Neither of the protagonists actually did any time-traveling and there wasn’t actually all that much action. But somehow there was this suspense that just made it extremely hard to put down the book. This is the kind of book that should come with a special warning: “Do not read if you don’t want to be late.” Seriously, I was almost late for work more than once.

Lysander is a really interesting guy. He’s a very private person and has some unexpected secrets. And Danny is just plain adorable. Sure, he’s cocky and overconfident, but also extremely loyal and hard-working.

I absolutely loved the relationship dynamic. Danny was so mindful of Lysander. And Lysander never took advantage. The progress felt natural and the sex scenes, while few and far between, were really hot.

As for the mystery part, the revelation of the bad guy was completely unexpected to me. I don’t read a lot of mystery, though, so maybe an avid crime/mystery reader could have deduced who the culprit is sooner.

Overall, “Time Turns” was a brilliant book and my first 5-star-book of the year. And it’s made me even more eager to read the rest of the series.

The cover by Natasha Snow fits with the rest of the series and the story, but it’s a little nondescript. I’m not a fan of covers where the models make up the largest part of the design.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 400 pages

Published September 16th 2019 by NineStar Press

Out of Time Series

Time Waits

Time Lost

Time Taken

Time Turns

Out of Time

A Free Dreamer Review: Hathornatum (Pleletus #1) by Taylin Clavelli

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Have you ever wondered if that little voice inside you is actually, your voice?

Egypt captivates Benjamin. As an adult, he immerses himself in his chosen profession, as an archaeologist in the ancient city of Abydos. For Ben, the hieroglyphs, and paintings unlock dreams of a time long lost.

The dig Ben works on is financed by Ashari Hathonatum. For many years, the man has been looking for the one who completes him. He initially saw his heart’s match from a distance. But that was a long time ago and from an alternate universe. When Ashari encounters Ben, he wonders if he is the reincarnation of the man he saw, through another’s eyes, all those years ago. Will the secrets Ashari hides about his heritage stop their love blooming, or will others from his dimension, determined to keep Ashari from his heart’s match, rule the day?

Hathonatum is quite a wild story. There’s reincarnation, aliens, fantasy and ancient Egypt all rolled into one. While I like a wild story every now and then, I have to admit this one was a little too wild for me.

The book started off strong. I was immediately captivated and fascinated. The archaeology parts were really interesting. I’m not a huge history nerd, but mix in a bit of Fantasy and I’m all for it. And then there was the mystery surrounding Ashari.

But once that mystery started clearing up, it just got weirder and weirder. I don’t want to give away too much, bet let’s just say there were a lot of unexpected revelations.

I didn’t quite buy the romance between Ashari and Ben. I just didn’t feel it, for some reason. And of course Ben, a grown man, was a virgin who’s never even had a crush on anybody before. So not a trope I enjoy.

The sex scenes were pretty good, though. I liked that they switched. That’s a trope I do enjoy very much.

The ending was the last straw for me. I wasn’t happy with how everything turned out and it essentially made me dislike all the characters. At least it’s not a horrible cliffhanger. The storyline is pretty much finished and it’s obvious who the MCs of book 2 will be. I won’t be reading that one, though.

Overall, this book was just a bit too much for me. If weirdness doesn’t put you off, give it a try. Maybe it’s just me.

The cover looks a bit weird, too. The guy (I’m guessing it’s Ashari) looks a bit like Jesus. But I guess the weirdness fits the book and at least there’s no half-naked men on it. So yay for uniqueness.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published January 18th 2020 by MLR Press
ISBN13 9781641222914
Edition Language English
Series Peletus #1

Join Us for the Blog Tour for Hathornatum (Pleletus #1) by Taylin Clavelli (excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Hathonatum

Author: Taylin Clavelli

Publisher: MLR Press

Genre/sScience Fiction, Contemporary M/M, Interracial (Alien/Human), Inter-dimensional, Reincarnation. Multi-Verse, Historical elements.

Heat Rating: 3 – 4 flames

Length:  89 000 words         

The story can be read as a standalone. It is the first book in the Pelethus Series. The next book involves different main characters that are connected to those in Hathonatum. 

Buy Links – Coming Soon

Publisher: MLR Press  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Hathonatum is a love story that spans time, dimension, universe and death.

Blurb 

Have you ever wondered if that little voice inside you is actually your voice?

Egypt captivates Benjamin. As an adult, he immerses himself in his chosen profession, as an archaeologist in the ancient city of Abydos. For Ben, the hieroglyphs, and paintings unlock dreams of a time long lost. 

The dig Ben works on is financed by Ashari Hathonatum. For many years, the man has been looking for the one who completes him. He initially saw his heart’s match from a distance. But that was a long time ago and from an alternate universe. When Ashari encounters Ben, he wonders if he is the reincarnation of the man he saw, through another’s eyes, all those years ago. Will the secrets Ashari hides about his heritage stop their love blooming, or will others from his dimension, determined to keep Ashari from his heart’s match, rule the day?

**The story is written with British spelling/grammar. **

Excerpt 

Though Ben loved the thought of studying Seti, he was part of a small crew concentrating on Narmer (3180-3120 BC), whose tomb was located to the west of the dig, almost as far away from Seti as a tomb could get. Not much was known about the first pharaoh of the combined kingdoms, and Ben wanted to help discover something new. He wanted to shed light on a life that no one knew about—a new phenomenon to capture the imagination.

Ben had been on-site for a little over a week when he saw an intriguing man talking to Terry, his dig leader. Judging by his skin, Ben suspected the man to be local, but it was difficult to tell. Other than his face, the only other exposed part of him was his hands. The rest of him was covered with clothing designed to keep out the worst of the sand—layered, lightweight, loose, and black.

When the man locked gazes with him, Ben found himself staring into a vibrant blue sea of lapis lazuli, framed with black lashes and dark eyebrows. It wasn’t until a fellow worker walked between them that the connection was broken. When Ben sought to re-establish contact, the other had his back to him. Ben returned to his work, clearing out a trench of sand. The heat and excitement over what his group might find overshadowed any musings concerning the stranger. 

At the end of the day, Ben was so tired he clambered onto the city-bound truck with as much grace as a stumbling mummy. 

That night, while lounging on his bed, images of dark blue assaulted him. The event was rare for him, considering Egypt was his prime…prime everything.

Every day, the journey to the ruins was like being transported back in time. Ben could close his eyes and almost feel like he was there, in ancient Egypt. Often, he imagined he could see a partial image of the hustle and bustle of the ancient civilization continuing around him. At other times, he was in the quiet solitude of a temple. The images were odd, considering ancient Abydos was a graveyard.

From the drop-off point the next day, Ben made his way to tombs B17 and B18—the tombs attributed to Narmer. He worked there all morning with his small, square trowel and brush, slowly moving away the sands of eons. 

As lunchtime approached, he relocated to the edge of the main dig and took his break. From there, he would imagine life in ancient Egypt.

Daydreaming, he chose to walk back to his station. 

Suddenly, an alarm sounded. It was the warning for a sandstorm. It was similar to what his grandparents had described as the air raid warning from the war. 

There was a flurry of activity while people efficiently covered artefacts and other areas of importance. Ben glanced around, noticing the storm was a lot closer than he’d originally thought. It had come out of nowhere. What crept toward the dig seemed like a moving wall of cloud, dense enough to shield the view and engulf anything below it. If it wasn’t for the cottonlike plumes of wheat colours, Ben could have believed a curtain of rain was heading his way. The screen of rapid shadow was making quick progress toward the dig, swallowing all in its path. Briefly, Ben went rigid, unable to move. When the sound of hissing reached his consciousness, and sand stung his feet and face, he dashed toward shelter. He was running a losing race. 

Abruptly, he was grabbed and pulled to the floor behind a shallow wall. In a spell of activity as sleek as the sandstorm, a mask was put over his face, and his body along with that of his saviour rolled together. Over and over, they turned. Coming to a halt, and dizzy, Ben found himself cocooned, head to toe in a thick blanket. From the outside, the two of them probably resembled a fat, discarded mummy. 

As Ben regained his senses, he could feel a wall to his back and secure arms around him. The only thing between them was his messenger bag containing the bottles of water he was required to keep on him to prevent dehydration in the desert sun. 

Panting, he opened his eyes to a familiar sea of lazuli.

About the Author 

 

I am proud to be British and proud to be an author of gay romance stories from varying genres. I write under the pseudonym Taylin Clavelli, not because I don’t want my real name out there, but because I think my real name is unmemorable for an author. The name came about from a night of Skype and a lot of wine.

My first published work – a comedy called Boys Toys and Carpet Fitters – came out in 2012. It was part of a Dreamspinners anthology called Don’t Do This At Home. Since then, I have produced a further two novels and five short stories, not including Hathonatum. 

As well as being married for close to thirty years, and have a grown-up family, who I adore – I work part-time at a Manor Hotel, where I am also the resident historian. I am a book reviewer, too for a well-known site.

Not being a spring chicken anymore, I have a few hobbies that over the years have come, gone and resurfaced again. I am an experienced horse rider, and 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. I help my husband with DIY projects, upcycle as much as possible and love my garden. As for those simple things that make me stop in my tracks. The dawn chorus, baking bread, lasagne, and the scene where Shadowfax makes his screen entrance.

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Giveaway 

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Check Out the Release Blitz with Excerpt for Ted of the d’Urbervilles by Rob Rosen

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Ted of the d’Urbervilles

Author: Rob Rosen

Publisher: JMS Books

Release Date: January 18, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, Comedy/Humour, Erotic Romance, Dark Comedy, Gay/Straight romance

Themes: e.g. Personal growth, poor to rich

Heat Rating: 4 flames   

Length:  63 600 / 195 pages

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  JMS Books  |  GooglePlay

Love is Love—though who they will find it with remains a mystery until the very end!

Blurb

Ted is an orphan, a young gay man living on the streets following the death of both his parents. Hope seems futile, though hope is exactly what he finds when a surprising email informs him that an unknown wealthy relative has died, that a reading of a will is soon to occur clear across the country. Ted will inherit something, but what that something is remains to be seen. 

Benny is a young, homeless drug addict, straight except for when cash is involved. Benny has never had a reason to be hopeful about anything until a chance encounter with Ted. 

Both men are soon traveling together from state to state, making ends meet however they can, rushing to the reading of the will that may or may not change both their lives forever. An unexpected friendship quickly forms, and then just as unexpectedly blossoms into something more as their adventure ultimately leads them to their fates. 

At turns darkly funny and tragic, deeply erotic and poignant, Ted of the d’Urbervilles uniquely shines a light on the phrase Love is Love—though who they will find it with remains a mystery until the very end. 

 Excerpt 

I found myself in a tangle of trains. Not passenger trains, but the kind that carries stuff. Coal, lumber, crates. No train cars. Nothing I could hop into so much as on. I wasn’t counting on this. I thought I’d slide open a door and bum a ride. But a ride to where? Even if I could hop on, where would I wind up? I clearly hadn’t given it enough thought. To be fair, my head was full of Chuck at the time, a peg missing its hole. It was, as analogies went, a fine one.

I needed to travel east. East I could figure out. East was away from the Rockies. But all the trains were parked. Which way were they headed once they left? And what if I hopped on and the train never stopped until its destination? What if we started east and then headed south?

I sat on the track. My salvation was somewhere in front of me. Eeny, meeny, miny, which one would the mo choose?

“Where you headed?”

I jumped. I fell backward. I stared up, shielding my face with my hand. A guy stood there staring down at me. He was on the dirty side, young, like me, gaunt, shorter by a foot. I’d seen men like this around San Francisco. I avoided men like this. You wound up homeless for a lot of reasons. You also stayed homeless for a lot of reasons. This guy either started or wound up that way because of drugs. His hand twitched. His right eye did the same. Manic would’ve been a good word for it. Or a bad one.

“Just looking,” I said as I righted my butt back on the tracks. “I like trains.”

I turned away from him. I hoped he’d take the hint. Sadly, he sat down next to me instead.

“You can’t hop them,” he said. “They check. They’re watching you right now even.” He pointed up to a lamppost. I could see the camera. It didn’t matter; there was nothing to hop into. And even if I could make it on top of a car, it would be crazy dangerous. And windy. And cold. Not an adventure so much as an ordeal. “Benny,” he said, holding out a hand. He had long nails. Dirty nails. His current state had always been a possible future for me. I seemed to always be running from it. But in which direction, away or towards?

I didn’t shake his hand. I nodded his way instead. “Ted.”

He put his hand by his side. He frowned. I felt bad. I was homeless. He was homeless. It wasn’t a bond so much as a prison sentence we shared. “Where you headed?” he repeated.

“New York.”

“That’s where I started.”

My heart pulsed. If he started from there, he knew which way to head. I pointed in front of me. “Which one goes that way?”

His grin returned. His teeth were in need of a brushing. He looked like a scrawny, shorter, pimplier Justin Bieber—if Justin Bieber hadn’t showered in a week or had a haircut or shave in ten. I felt bad for Benny. I felt scared of Benny. Were people scared of me when they saw me? I was judging a book by its cover, but covers are a pretty good indication of what’s inside. I sensed Benny was rotting from the inside out, that all he had left was a tattered cover. I didn’t want to be a part of Benny’s story, but our plotlines had intersected just the same.

In any case, he shrugged. “Been in Denver a month. My train has long come and gone.” Again, he pointed. “That one goes east.”

“How do you know?”

The shrug hadn’t moved. “That terminal is a dead end. Trains enter that way and go back the way they came. That train came from the east. Do you have any drugs on you?”

It was an unsettling segue. Benny was unsettling. You could turn a bend and wind up like Benny. Benny had no hope. You could see it in his eyes. That is to say, you couldn’t see it. “I don’t do drugs.”

“Smart.”

“You shouldn’t do drugs.”

He rested his head on his knee. “Yep.”

“It’s not that easy though, right?”

He turned his face my way. He’d been cute once. You could see it if you tried. How many people still tried? “Nope. Any money for drugs? I could trade you.”

I knew what he had to trade. I had the same thing to trade. “I have less than six dollars on me.”

He sighed. He turned his face back to the starting position. “Figures.” We sat there in silence. The trains didn’t budge. Maybe this was a graveyard of sorts. Maybe trains came here to die. Maybe Benny came here to die. Me, I had other plans.

About the Author 

Multi-award-winning and best-selling author/editor/anthologist Rob Rosen is the author of Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love, Divas Las Vegas, Hot Lava, Southern Fried, Queerwolf, Vamp, Queens of the Apocalypse, Creature Comfort, Fate, Midlife Crisis, Fierce, And God Belched,  Mary, Queen of Scotch, and Ted of the d’Urbervilles. His short stories have appeared in more than 200 anthologies. You can find 20 of them in his erotic romance anthology Good & Hot. He is also the editor of Lust in Time: Erotic Romance Through the Ages, Men of the Manor, Best Gay Erotica 2015 and Best Gay Erotica of the Year, Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Please visit him at 

Blog/Website  |  Facebook

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