An Alisa Review: Nosy Neighbors by Nina Schluntz

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Julian is used to drama, seeing ghosts tends to do that to a person’s life, but when he falls for a man known as the neighborhood murderer–the dead help him uncover secrets no housewife could predict.

 

Moving into a suburban, middle class, stereotypical neighborhood was never on Julian’s to do list. When his identical twin brother inherits their Aunt’s house in such a place, then finds a good job, Julian reluctantly follows. He expected to feel isolated by being the only gay person on the block, okay, more likely the zip code, but a few nosy housewives eagerly inform him the neighbor across the street is gay, and punned, Mr. Creepersen, due to several murders that occurred in his basement five years ago.

 

This story sounded interesting and I couldn’t resist reading this.  Julian has been with his brother since forever but truly lives a lonely life.  Keeping his “gift” a secret and his general shy personality makes it hard for him to open up or get to know people.  Neil has quietly lived his life since his husband’s death but live with reminders all the time with how all those in the neighborhood treat him.

 

Neil lives with the invisible scars from his marriage and the fallout that he lives a quiet life not really allowing anyone in.  He opens up to Julian a bit but quickly makes assumptions of his feelings.  While Julian opens himself up to the ghosts in order to help Neil get some closure he also opens himself up to more pain and is trying to figure out how to navigate through it.

 

While I’m not quite as sympathetic towards Neil as I thought I would be I understood what happened to him and how that affects what he does now.  His insecurities almost push Julian away but Julian isn’t willing to just give up when he finally found the kind of relationship he has been looking for.  While I enjoyed this story I connected with Julian way more than I did with Neil.  They seem to be heading off into the future together which was nice but more of a conclusion for these two would have been nice.

 

The cover art by Melody Pond is nice and gives some good visuals from the story.

 

Sales Links: MLR Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages

Published: September 1, 2017 by MLR Press

Edition Language: English

 

A Free Dreamer Review: Golden by R L Mosswood

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Harem boy might not be the most appropriate role for someone who’s never really seen the appeal of sex, but Elin’s status as dahabi: golden in a land of tan and brown, has marked him for The Dragon’s service since birth. He’s content enough with his life of uncomplicated, if restrictive, luxury, until an unremarkable chore becomes a case of love at first sight.

Mysterious newcomer Hathar, a roguish “merchant adventurer” from far-off lands, ignites an exploration of Elin’s first taste of physical desire, as well as a desire to experience life beyond the palace. Now, they must find a way to escape before Hathar’s ship departs, stranding them forever in The Dragon’s harem.

I love long books and I absolutely don’t mind if a book has 500 or more pages. So it’s very rare for me to pick up a book with less than 100 pages, because I often feel like there aren’t enough pages for the story to completely unfold. The blurb of “Golden” sounded too good to simply pass up because of its length, though. I’m glad I picked it up but at the same time I had my usual issues with short stories.

The premise of the book is intriguing. The Dragon, the empress of a secluded island, has a harem full of golden men. Every male person with a certain hair and skin colour is sent to her harems. She has several dozen men at her beck and call. Elin is one of them. But unlike the others, he’s only ever visited The Dragon once. He’s never really understood why everybody makes such a big deal out of sex. I thought that was a really interesting feature for a harem boy. Definitely unusual.

I was a bit disappointed at how he immediately felt sexually attracted to Hathar, I must admit. The whole lust at first sight just didn’t really fit my idea of Elin. First he’s repulsed by anything sexual and then he meets Hathar and just like that, he’s no longer disgusted. Instead, he’s all too happy to have sex with him in no time at all. There was no real time for the of them to form an emotional bond that might have justified Elin’s change of mind. They barely knew each other.

The whole plot felt a bit rushed. It all plays out in the span of a few days. Aside from the insta-lust, the romance was a bit rushed too. Within those few days, Hathar and Elin develop deep feelings and fall hard for each other. There was no real development of feelings. A little too close to insta-love for my tastes. It didn’t help that none of the characters had all that much depth. They were a bit underdeveloped.

The world building was seriously lacking. It was practically non-existent, really, and that’s a huge no-go for me.

Having said all that, I did enjoy reading this book. It’s short and sweet and it’s a fun read. It could have been great, I think, if the author’s ideas had had more room to fully evolve.

The cover by Natasha Snow is pretty cool. Love the dragon scales and the fire, though there’s not much of that in the actual book.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 92 pages
Published September 25th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139916
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Blitz and Giveaway Tour – Deacon’s Law (Heroes #3) by RJ Scott

Standard
 
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Length: 50,000 words approx.
 
Heroes Series
 
A Reason To Stay (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Last Marine Standing (Book #2) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

How can you trust the man who tried to kill you?

Undercover cop Deacon Shepherd lost everything trying to maintain his cover – the man he loved and the future he craved. He walked away and never looked back because it was the only way to keep Rafael alive.

The last thing he needs is to be dragged back in that world, but an attempt on Rafael’s life is enough to make him risk his heart again.

Rafael ‘Rafe’ Ramirez wakes up in the hospital, the victim of a hit and run. He’s horrified when the first face he sees is that of the man who betrayed him and left him for dead three years before. Witness protection had stripped Rafe of his family and friends, and now it seems his sacrifice to bring his Uncle to justice was for nothing.

Someone wants Rafe dead, and the only way he can stay alive is to go with the murdering drug dealer who broke his heart. But how can he ever trust Deacon, and how can Deacon protect Rafe without falling in love all over again?

Excerpt
 

Rafe opened his eyes, attempting to focus on the ceiling above him. He tried to lift his hand, but it felt as if there was lead in his veins, everything heavy and he couldn’t move. They’d told him he was getting better, so what the hell had happened? Had he relapsed? Why was he convinced that they’d taken him somewhere in an ambulance? That he’d leaned against a leather jacket that smelled of sunshine and soap? He blinked until the ceiling finally coalesced into the tiles he was familiar with.

Only there were no tiles.

Instead, the ceiling was a smooth white, and there were no strip lights, just a lampshade in a curious shade of blue. He blinked again. This didn’t make sense. 

But when he opened his eyes, nothing had changed. The ceiling was still white, the lampshade blue, and the drapes at the window matched the shade. The drapes. There were drapes at the window. Confusion morphed into panic and he turned his head to the right to get a better feel for where he was and he saw…him.

Sprawled awkwardly in the chair, his head back, long limbs this way and that, clearly too big for the chair, was a specter from a past that wouldn’t leave him alone.

Deacon.

Intense fear sliced into Rafe.

They’d found him, had him strapped to a bed…was it Deacon who’d tracked him down and driven a car at him? He was paralyzed with a fear that made it hard to breathe, and he yanked at his hand, hoping to escape his restraints, only he wasn’t tied down, there was no rope. Instead his hand came up fast and he rolled sideways. Catching himself and coming off the bed, forgetting the fact that his leg was in a cast and toppling sideways, falling with a crash into a cabinet. He flailed but couldn’t stop himself falling, and he knew this was it – this time he was really going to die.

Deacon was up and at his side in an instant, and Rafe wanted to shut his eyes, wanted to block out seeing Deacon’s face again as he died, but he had to watch. He wanted Deacon to see his fear, and maybe that would stop him; maybe he could make Deacon stop and think.

“Shit, Rafe— Craig,” Deacon said, and reached for him, grasping his arms.

Terror became ice inside him, and Rafe stopped fighting; like a deer caught in headlights, he froze.

“What happened?” A second man stood in the doorway, someone Rafe didn’t know – tall, dark and dangerous-looking. Maybe this new arrival could stop Deacon?

“Help me,” Rafe forced out, looking past Deacon, scrambling to stand as the ice melted and he pushed himself to move.

“He woke up, saw me, and fell out of bed,” Deacon said, and the other man came right in. There were two of them, and there was little Rafe could do to get away. There and then, he screwed his eyes shut; nothing was going to save him now.

But there was no pain, no bullet. Instead, the two men helped him to stand, and then he felt the bed at the back of his thighs and they sat him down.

“Are you okay?” Deacon asked. Even with his eyes shut, Rafe recognized his voice. He would never forget the tone of it, or the coldness of the man who’d tried to kill him. He said nothing.

“Open your eyes,” the other man asked.

No.

“Craig? Rafe? My name is Mac. We’re here to help you.”

But fear was choking him and he couldn’t breathe. “No,” he managed between attempts to inhale enough oxygen not to pass out.

“He’s panicking. What the hell did you do, D?”

“Tried to fucking kill him three years ago, remember?”

Author Bio


RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.


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


mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
www.rjscott.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/author.rjscott?ref=ts&fref=ts
www.goodreads.com/author/show/3432558.R_J_Scott
twitter.com/Rjscott_author
www.librarything.com/author/scottrj

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

Release Tour and Giveaway: Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad #2) by C.B. Lee

Standard

Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad #2) byC.B. Lee

Publisher: Duet, the Young Adult imprint of Interlude Press
Cover Design: CB Messer
Release Date: October 5, 2017

Purchase Links:

Interlude Press | Amazon |Barnes & NobleAppleKoboSmashwords

Book DepositoryIndiebound  

 

 


SUMMARY

Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants and, if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges.

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.

SBN (Trade)  978-1-945053-25-2

ISBN (eBook)  978-1-945053-43-6

Pages:  320 (79,500 words)

Price:  $16.99 print/$6.99 multi-format eBook

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer based in California. She is a first-generation Asian American and holds a BA in sociology and environmental science, which occasionally comes in handy in her chosen career, but not usually. Lee enjoys reading, hiking, rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits.

Not Your Sidekick (2016) was named a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Awards and the Bisexual Book Awards. Lee’s first novel, Seven Tears at High Tide (2015), was also a Bisexual Book Awards finalist. She is a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow.

Giveaway

Book Tour Rafflecopter Giveaway:
Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Not Your Villain // Five winners receive the multi-format eBook
Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

 

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Dream (Aisling #2) by Carole Cummings

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

To reveal the intricate machinations threatening them, two men must learn to trust each other. But how can they, when their hearts and minds—their realities—are subject to manipulation?

When he set out to escort the prisoner Wilfred Calder back to Putnam, Constable Dallin Brayden didn’t anticipate the political betrayal and malicious magic threatening their lives at every turn. To his surprise, he slips into the role of protector—and it’s more than duty compelling him to ensure Wil’s safety as they’re haunted by strange dreams.  But does Wil dare put himself in the hands of a man he believes wants him dead?

Wil’s past weighs heavily on him, tainting his perceptions as he struggles his way through a tangle of lies. With both will and magic as his weapons, he fights desperately for survival—and his soul. For the Aisling is coveted by more than the Guild and the Brethren; ancient gods and soul-eating spirits also want what lives within him. His only chance might be Dallin and his goddess, the Mother, who Wil has been taught to despise above all others.

It’s hard to describe just how exquisite this book and saga actually is.  Dream, the second story in the Aisling Trilogy, picks up exactly where the first left off, with Dallin accepting that Wil is the Aisling, the one he is meant to protect above all else.  Why?  Because Dallin is the Guardian.  What that means, how they are to fulfill those roles start to be revealed here.

That revelation and the impact upon their relationship starts immediately.  One of the biggest issues here is trust and what each man has seen/been told will happen to them.  Do they learn to trust each other and that they can make the future their own?  Or is the future already written and are they simply trodding a path they are meant to go down?  What do the gods have planned for them if anything?

The world building Cummings starting in Guardian (Aisling, #1)  becomes even more complex and wide ranging, crossing lands and picking up cultures and peoples we had only heard about in the first novel.  Mirroring the complexity of the world building is the relationship and personal dynamics between Wil and Dallin.  From enemies to friends and now the slow move into a romantic relationship, Cummings has been careful to establish the necessary trust and communication that let’s this happen between them.  I love the slow courtship between the men.  Considering all Wil has been through, the slow emotional involvement that the physical one also implies makes perfect sense.

Even as we enjoy the small touches that illuminate the growth of intimacy between the men, Cummings is busy ramping up the suspense of the chase as well.  For the evil is never far behind them, the good men chasing them for the wrong reasons as well…even their destination is fraught is peril.  The author makes us  fear the smallest of breaks in the woods,  the turn of every corner in a village is reason for the reader to hold our breath.

There is no one element or section here I can highlight.  It’s all equally fantastic.  Characters are beautifully created.  I believe in them and their relationships.  Fear for their futures.  The evil here is horrific and about to deepen with the last story.  The gods and aspects of religion the author has devised is stunning in its originality.  How this will play out for Wil and Dallin in book three, Beloved Son, is something I can’t wait to read when it’s released in December.

As with the first story, Dream ends somewhat abruptly, most likely where the final installment will pick up.  Oddly, I’m alright with that.  After the ending in Guardian, I almost expected it. At the end here Wil and Dallin are poised on the precipice of knowledge.   That next and final story tips them and us over the edge.

If you love fantasy and are new to this trilogy, you have until December to get caught up.  I highly recommend this story (not a stand alone) and the first, Guardian.  Then join me in December for the release of Beloved Son.

Cover art by Anne Cain is perfect for the character and for branding the series.

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: October 17th 2017 by DSP Publications (first published June 15th 2011)
Original Title Dream
ISBN13 9781635336740
Edition Language English
Series Aisling #2
Beloved Son (Aisling Trilogy, #3)  coming Dec 13th 2017 and I can’t wait
Everything (Aisling #3.5)

An Alisa Review: Deeds & Confetti (Mary’s Boys #4) by Brandon Witt

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Steven Conley loves the excitement of owning his own Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in Denver, Colorado, and his chosen family of coworkers makes life even better. Steven never regretted leaving the corporate grind behind until his father’s harsh deathbed words leaves him doubting himself.

 

Ryan Fuller abandoned a lucrative career to start his own party-planning business, but he keeps afloat by coordinating funerals for the local mortuary. When Ryan bumps into Steven—his best friend’s uncle and the man Ryan has secretly crushed on forever—the attraction explodes into a night of passionate abandon for both men.

 

Steven is blown away by the care and deep connection he feels for the hot young mortician—until Ryan admits who he really is. Reeling from the recent upheaval in his life, Steven must decide whether to give Ryan a chance. To find love, they must risk it all….

 

This was a wonderfully sweet story.  Steven has been living the last few years for himself despite his father’s criticism, but his father’s death and his harsh words cause Steven to doubt the life he has built.  Ryan has recently begun to live his life for himself and isn’t going to let Steven’s doubt stop them.

 

Steven has a wonderful support system in his friends and family (excluding his judgmental father).  I loved the internal strength that Ryan had and how he wouldn’t let the little things keep him down.  I chose this story for the short and sweet aspect it seemed to have which it really did but I loved seeing small glimpses of how Steven greatly affected the lives of those around him.  It makes me really want to go back and read the other stories in this series however I didn’t need them to know what was going on.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is wonderful, I love the visual of these two characters.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages

Published: September 27, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-749-5

Edition Language: English

Series: A Mary’s Boys Novella

An Alisa Review: 14 Days by Patrick Mangan

Standard

Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

That’s how long Tyler Swann and his family will visit the Riverlands Land and Cattle Ranch, a guest ranch in western Montana. Too bad Tyler is a jerk and a hot-head, pushing Logan, the ranch owner, down to the ground on day one. It’ll be a long stay for the family with their belligerent son.

 

But as Tyler and Logan patch up the hurt, they find an attraction to one another that can only be matched by the stubbornness that Tyler, a recently discharged Marine, brings to the table daily.

 

From getting his ass kicked, to a helping hand getting the fence fixed, Logan has his hands full with a willing and able Tyler. When Tyler isn’t busy stealing the keys to a truck or motorcycle, he can be quite charming. If they can only survive the explosive emotions flowing from Tyler, they just might build some kind of relationship. For 14 days.

 

It’s going to be a long 14 days.

 

Logan and Tyler don’t start off on the best footing but seem to start a tentative friendship.  Logan gives Tyler the opportunity to have a break from his father but Tyler continues to push when he gets angry.    Both of them have cracks deep down that they need someone to help patch together.

 

Logan is quite understanding and it doesn’t seem to take much for him to be willing to put things behind him.  Tyler flies off the handle quite quickly without thinking and apologizes when he’s wrong but doesn’t seem to really change much over the 14 days.  I had a hard time connecting to both of these characters.  We get much more background on Logan than Tyler but it just didn’t seem too genuine to me.  I did like to see them together a few months down the line.

 

The cover art by E Keith is nice and gives nice background for the story.

 

Sales Links: Painted Hearts Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 135 pages

Published: August 30, 2017 by Painted Hearts Publishing

Edition Language: English

Andrew Grey on the Definition of HEA and his latest release ‘Taming the Beast’ (guest blog)

Standard

Taming the Beast by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Paul Richmond

Release Date: October 13, 2017

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey here today on his Taming the Beast tour.  Welcome, Andrew.

✒︎
I’m very much a Happily Ever After kind of guy.  I like my characters to feel as though they are going to be together in the story as well as my heart.  But I seem to have a problem because I’m not sure what a HEA really means any more.  In traditional romance that path leads to the altar or at least to a proposal.  But in MM romance marriage wasn’t possible for so many years, so a HEA usual consisted of some sort of gesture of permanence.  They moved in together, bought a house, or asked each other to be their life partner, even exchanged rings with only the two of them.  Something to signify that they planned to stay together.  Now in this age of marriage equality, I’m having trouble because I’m not sure if we’ve reverted to the traditional version of an HEA or not.  In my stories I tend to use the older definition of an HEA, probably because I’m an old fart and getting older by the day.  (Rolls eyes)     But I’d like to hear what you think.  Please comment and let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear them.

Blurb/Synopsis

The suspicious death of Dante Bartholomew’s wife changed him, especially in the eyes of the residents of St. Giles. They no longer see a successful businessman… only a monster they believe was involved. Dante’s horrific reputation eclipses the truth to the point that he sees no choice but to isolate himself and his heart.

The plan backfires when he meets counselor Beau Clarity and the children he works with. Beau and the kids see beyond the beastly reputation to the beautiful soul inside Dante, and Dante’s cold heart begins to thaw as they slip past his defenses. The warmth and hope Beau brings to Dante’s life helps him see his entire existence—his trials and sorrows—in a brighter light.

But Dante’s secrets could rip happiness from their grasp… especially since someone isn’t above hurting those Dante has grown to love in order to bring him down.

Excerpt

Dante turned back to Bobby. “Do you know what we’re going to have for dinner?”

“Roast beef and potatoes and beans.” Bobby made a face. “I don’t like beans.”

“Bobby,” Beau said gently.

“Why not? They’re good, and they make you grow up big and strong. My mom always made me eat my green beans, and look at me.” He sat up straight, and Bobby’s eyes widened.

“These are green and yellow beans together,” Beau clarified.

“Even better. The yellow ones make you smarter. I really like those. And it’s good to be smart.” Dante nudged Bobby. “I’ll make a deal with you. If you eat all your beans, then after dinner, I’ll see if they have any ice cream for dessert.”

Bobby shook his head. “There’s cake.” He pushed out his lower lip. “I can’t have cake. It has gluten in it.” He turned away, his little shoulders drooping.

“I see.” Dante pulled out his phone and made a very quick call to Harriet at the house, then began to eat. When he was done with his starter, his salad was placed in front of him, and he ate it slowly. As he finished, the lady from the other couple, who had been quiet so far, asked him about what the Foundation did. “It’s to better the people and community of St. Giles and Maryland in general, though we localize our work to the Eastern Shore. We take proposals from anyone and evaluate them for community impact and need.”

“Do you get anything out of it?” she asked.

“I own the porcelain works, and half the profits go into the Foundation. We invest the money and then arrange to distribute the earnings through our projects. The principal is never touched, and so far it has grown each year through contributions.” Dante finished his salad and glanced at Bobby, who was carefully eating one piece of lettuce at a time.

“I’m Clyde Harrison, and this is my wife, Jean. I’m a second-shift foreman at the porcelain works.” He reached across the table to shake hands, and Jean did the same. They both seemed nervous, like if they said one wrong thing, Dante would fire him.

“It’s nice to meet you, Jean.” He turned to Clyde. “I’ve seen you at the plant.” He thought for a second. “You were the one who came up with the idea to reroute the laboratory-ware line last year. That was a great idea, and it’ll be done next month. We figure it will save us quite a bit.” Dante had already arranged a bonus for him, but he’d let that work through the channels.

The conversation died, and Dante turned to Bobby, who had eaten about half his salad and seemed to be finished. “Are you done?” Dante asked him, and Bobby nodded. The servers collected their plates and brought the dinners.

“Do I have to eat all this?” Bobby whispered. “Mama says I have to clean my plate and not waste food.” He looked at him and then at Beau.

“Just eat what you want and have some of the beans.” Dante winked, and Bobby took a bite of the beans and ate a few before starting on the rest. Beau helped Bobby cut his meat, and then the kid ate like a trooper. “Is it good?” Dante asked.

Bobby grinned, nodded, and went back to eating. Dante took a few bites and ate a little of the roast beef. It was okay. The potatoes weren’t exceptional. He ate the vegetables and enough of the rest to make his hunger abate and then waited for his plate to be cleared.

As the conversation in the room increased while the courses were changed, Dante excused himself and left the room. Roberts stood waiting for him. “Harriet added some ice to make sure this stayed cold.”

“Thank you.” Dante took the small cooler bag and carried it back into the banquet room. Pieces of cake had been distributed, with one sitting in front of each place, including Bobby’s, taunting the poor kid. Dante moved the cake aside and opened the bag. Dante took out a bowl of Harriet’s homemade chocolate ice cream and set it at Bobby’s place. “Guaranteed gluten-free.”

“Thank you!” Bobby said and began to eat like he hadn’t just had dinner.

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Played! (The Shamwell Tales #2) by J.L. Merrow and Mark Steadman (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

All the world’s a stage…but real-life lessons are hidden in the heart.

Tristan’s in Shamwell for one last summer of freedom before he joins the family firm in New York—no more farting around on stage, as his father puts it. But the classically trained actor can’t resist when members of the local amateur dramatics society beg him to take a role in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Especially as he’ll also be giving private acting lessons to gorgeous local handyman, Con, who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances. Tristan’s determined to get Con in his bed—not only is the man delicious, there’s fifty pounds riding on Tristan’s success after a bet made with his drama school chum Amanda.

Con’s never dared to act before. A late-diagnosed dyslexic who had a hard time at school, he’s always been convinced he’d never be able to learn his lines—but with Tristan helping him, he might just be in with a chance. Trouble is, the last time Con fell for a guy, he ended up getting his heart broken, and with Tristan due to leave the country in a matter of months, Con’s determined not to give in and start anything that’s bound to finish badly.

Just as Tristan thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes. And the curtain may have fallen forever on their chance of happiness.

Warning: contains a surfeit of Bottoms and asses, together with enough mangled quotations to have the Bard of Avon gyrating in his grave.

I’m a fan of both JL Merrow and her Shamwell Tales, the series that follows the lives and romances of this small English village and it’s little group of thespians.  Not familiar you say?  Well, Played! in audiobook format is a splendid way to make its acquaintance because a terrific story is further enhanced by the outstanding narration by Mark Steadman.

I easily sunk into the drama and every day lives of Tristan and Con with Mark Steadman’s voice casting a spell over the tale.  The narrator rose quickly to being the “voice’ of  everyone in the large cast of players as well as acting the various roles the characters/actors were playing (play inside a play) from Bottom to Puck, and giving them life as well.  I never had a difficulty distinguishing between characters, and indeed, often forgot I was listening to only one person narrating the story, Mark Steadman is that good.

And with Mark Steadman narrating, you can concentrate on the story of Tris and Con and their rocky path towards romance and love. Ah, Tris with his rich imperious father and full load of familial expectations, none of which seem particularly desirable to Tristan.  The death of his Gram, a house, and a cat lead Tris to Shamwell, the Shamwell Players and Con.  All of which starts to erode the strict goals his family has laid out for him,. Under the influence of Con and the people he’s meeting,  Tristan becomes the person he’s meant to be.

Con, a handyman, ends up with a remarkable amount of revelations for himself as well.  A learning disability has Con convinced he could never act until Tristan starts coaching him. The why’s behind that action I’ll leave up to the story.  There’s is mystery in Con’s background and an investigation to launch in the village.  Really, Played! has a cornucopia of elements and it makes for a lively, hopping plot!

Merrow’s characters have depth and a believability about them that makes it a delight to care for them and the outcome of their romance. Especially, when you want to give them a shake or two as you will Tristan!  The story just flows and the listening goes quickly.  You’ll find the book is over and your visit in Shamwell done before you are ready to leave.  At least I felt that way.  Luckily there are more Shamwell tales out there.  I hope they all end up as audiobooks with Mark Steadman as the narrator.  I can’t wait to listen.

I highly recommend this audiobook and all the Shamwell stories, ebook and otherwise.

Cover by: Natasha Snow is  perfect for Tristan.  Love the cover.

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon |  Audible |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Time: 6 hrs., 58 min.

Audiobook
Published September 15th 2017 by Riptide Publishing (first published June 30th 2015)
Original TitlePlayed!
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Shamwell Tales #2
setting England (United Kingdom

 

 

 

A Caryn Release Day Review: In Over Our Heads (Stories from the Shore #2) by CJane Elliott

Standard

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I really, really expected to like this book, having enjoyed the first in the series, All the Way to Shore, and because I like this author.  Ugh, I hate to be disappointed.

I feel like this book had most of the tropes that are totally overdone, ineffective, and ultimately turn me off.  It was evident from the very beginning, and never got any better.

Anthony Vallen is the fabulous, campy cousin who was introduced in book one.  He’s been all about casual hookups, and though he believes in fairy tale endings for others, he has been avoiding getting emotionally involved since his first love – in highschool at age 17!!! – broke his heart.  OK, that’s annoying trope number one.  He’s now on the cusp of 30, and is going on a vacation in Key West with Marco and Jonathan and Sophia from the first book.  Marco and Jonathan are disgustingly sweet together – which was not how they are portrayed in the other book – and Anthony is feeling jealous of a relationship for the first time in his life.

The first night in Key West they go to a bar, and lo and behold, there is Walter Elkins, the boy who ran away from Anthony just after high school graduation and ruined him for any other man.  And not only does he own the bar, he is also the owner of the scuba diving business where they’ve booked their trips.  So there is no way they can really avoid each other.

The background is that Anthony almost drowned while swimming with Walter the summer after graduation, and that’s when Walter left him, with the words “I’m not good for you…I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”  And that would be annoying trope number two, especially when the excuse was so flimsy.  Yeah, yeah, turns out there was a traumatic event in Walter’s past (of course), but I was not convinced.  And when he goes on to continue to use that same excuse (with other misplaced responsibility issues) to avoid Anthony in Key West,  it just irritated me more.  Walter is supposedly a very successful businessman, who reinvented himself after he abandoned an equally successful career as a chemist, who used to be pathologically shy but is now friendly with and supported by all of the locals, and I just couldn’t reconcile that with a man who was so deeply insecure about Anthony.  To give her credit, the author tried to sell it, but I just wasn’t buying.  Anthony was only marginally better at communicating.

To top it all off, both men then go into TSTL (too stupid to live) mode when a hurricane strikes.  I may be a little more picky than average about that, since I live in Florida we know hurricanes, but going outside when winds are at peak is ridiculous.  If someone needed to be injured to move the plot along, that was not the way to do it – and to make it worse, several of the locals were happy to brave the winds along with them.  Just, no.  Annoying trope number three.

So this book was almost a total fail for me.  Anthony was childish and annoying, Walter was pathetic, and I didn’t like either one of them.  I didn’t really care if they got together or not.  I was happy to revisit Marco, Jonathan, and Sophia, and I did enjoy the new character introduced – Miles, pansexual, genderfluid, and likely to be the main character of the next book in the series.  So I will look forward to reading it when it comes out, and that is the only reason I gave this book 2 stars.

Cover art by L. C. Chase is again lovely, the underwater scene is appropriate, but the models – both in expression and looks – didn’t fit the characters as much as I would have liked.

Sales Links:

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 192 pages
Expected publication: October 16th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339819
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStories from the Shore #2