A BJ Review: Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Winter Kills coverFBI Special Agent Adam Darling was moving up the ranks until a mishandling of a high profile operation left someone dead and his career on shaky ground. Now he’s working a serial killer case when him and his partner are sent to investigate a body in the little town of Nearby.

Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell is laid-back, easy going and a bit of a joker, but an efficient and tough cop. When the town Sheriff calls in the FBI on a cold case, Agent Darling comes to town and him and Rob enjoy an unexpected one-night stand before the man goes on his way. Rob doesn’t figure to see the intriguing man again, but when the curator of a Native American museum is murdered several months later, the Sheriff calls in the FBI a second time and asks specifically for Agent Darling. With the body count rising, it soon begins to appear that they may be investigating more than one serial killer—one past and one present.

There are actually two mysteries here going on at the same time, some cold cases from twenty years prior and some a modern killer. Could the killer be one and the same? Or are have two serial killers made the small town of Nearby their hunting ground?

The beginning of the story happens in the past from a POV that is never revisited (for a very good reason), and then we go to the varying POV of the two MC. That initial different point of view, the time jump, and then the other two points of views threw me off a bit, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like this for the first few chapters. But Lanyon’s writing is excellent as always, so I kept going and it paid off. I was soon sucked in.

The plot/mystery is quite complex. There is a lot going on, at one point almost too much, but it was reeled by in nicely. I enjoyed the setting, winter in a small, rural town, because rural is right up my ‘lives in middle of nowhere’ alley. I also enjoy reading stories with Native Americans and their histories and legends. The tough female cop who had instincts sharp enough to pick up on little things that even Rob had been overlooking was an awesome addition to the cast of characters. And the pairing of the laid-back, somewhat argumentative but humorous Rob with the more uptight, by the book, and troubled-by-past-events Adam worked well for me.

As far as the mystery in this book goes, there is no neatly tied up with bow ending. We do get to know who did what, but the motives, whys and wherefores are not fully explained. Some may complain about it not being scrupulously tied up. But I was fine with it. In real life, I tend to think the arresting cops don’t really get to know all that stuff, especially right away and in a scenario such as this set up. The guys don’t collect all the clues and put it all together to solve the mystery. They start to put bits and pieces together, and then WHAM, events explode and the stakes are instantly high. So maybe later when it comes to trail possibly the guys will find out more, but I accept that they wouldn’t know all that and found it to be just realistic

Towards the end, the focus shifted to the romance rather than tidying up all the loose ends and motives of the crime. The case was over, solved. In their past and time to focus on their own life. YES! I’m all in with that. In fact, the ending was my favorite part, and I don’t want to give too much away. However, I will say that I thought it was sad and yet brilliant the way Lanyon began the book with a hopeful man in love who didn’t get his HEA, and then wrapped it up with a hopeful HFN for the main couple.

There were two things that kept this from being a perfect five for me. First off, most of the sex scenes started off fun but ended as fade to black. Why? I wanted more. And second, for the first time in a Lanyon book, I found editing errors. Gasp.

Oh, and one more thing. I want to ask Josh Lanyon to please tell me the ex named Tucker that Adam Darling mentioned without a last name is NOT Elliott’s Tucker! Tucker and Elliott are a favorite couple.

The cover photo at the bottom gives a sense of place, season, cold; and the photo at top is right in your face–a gun sighted straight on you. ‘Go ahead, make my day.’ it seems to say. And this book might do just that.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 181 pages
Published May 31st 2015 by Just Joshin
original titleWinter Kill
ISBN139781937909277
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.joshlanyon

A Jeri Release Day Review: The Dom’s Way (Iron Eagle Gym #5) by Sean Michael

Audio

Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Honestly, the only good thing I can say about this book is- if you like all sex and pretty much nothing but sex, this is the book for you. Otherwise, I totally stand by my 2 stars.

I have read a couple of others in this series and while they weren’t great works of literature, they were fun, sexy and had a story. This installment had the premise of a story- but it never materialized.

Neal takes Way on as his new submissive. Even though Way has no experience in it at all- save for working at the gym that caters to Doms and subs. Neal proclaims that he will go slowly and teach Way everything there is to know about D/s. I didn’t see that happen. I just saw tons and tons and TONS of sex, Way constantly agreeing to things because Neal wanted him to and absolutely no character depth.

On top of that, Neal doesn’t really act like a Dom. He convinces Way to do things, but to me it seemed like coercion rather than teaching. He isn’t stern or strong. I’d consider him pretty wimpy really. And Way isn’t submissive, he is shy and unexposed. Not only to life to but to sex and relationships.

I’m sorry, but this was a wasted read for me.

Cover art by LC Chase

Sales Links:

Dreamspinner Press: eBookand Paperback |

Amazon |  Barnes & Noble |Kobo  

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: June 23rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleThe Dom’s Way
ISBN 1635334373 (ISBN13: 9781635334371)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL
SeriesIron Eagle Gym #5

An Ali Review: Mai Tais and Murder (Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #1) by J.C. Long

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Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Gabe Maxfield never wanted to be a detective or a policeman or anything of the sort. The closest he wanted to come to the law was writing legal briefs and doing research for a big-shot law firm. Nice and safe, and without all the stress. No unanswered questions, just well-defined legal precedents.

When he moves to Hawaii in the wake of a disastrous breakup and betrayal by an ex, a murder investigation is the last thing he expects to get wrapped up in, but he can’t help himself when a dead body, a hunky cop, and his best friend get involved.

So much for sipping mai tais on the beach and admiring the well-tanned bodies around him.
I think this story could be best described as a cozy mystery.  I have to be honest, that was not what I was expecting.  I had read another mystery this author has written and it was more gritty and realistic and that was what I was expecting here.  Although in retrospect the cover may have been an indicator is was more light hearted than what I thought it would be. 
I did enjoy the story though.  The blurb does a good job explaining the story.  Gabe doesn’t intend to be an investigator but gets caught up in a case as he tries to help his good friend out.  He ends up getting some help from his neighbor Maka who he has been crushing on.  I enjoyed both of the MC’s and liked them together as a couple. 
I think the strongest part of the book was how the author set the atmosphere.  He did a great job painting a picture of Hawaii and I could totally picture being there.  In fact in brought back a lot of fond memories of the times I have been there in the past.  I felt like he captured the “vibe” of the state very well.
The mystery was just alright for me.  I had to suspend a lot of belief on their investigation and I figured out very early on who the killer was.  I really think the quality of this depends on what the author was trying to do.  If it was supposed to be a serious mystery then I don’t think it was very good.  But, if it was supposed to be a cozy mystery then I think it fits well with other books in the genre.  I’m kind of hoping that’s what the author was doing because I don’t know of any other cozy m/m series.
If you’re looking for a short and easy read with a lovely beach/island setting this would be a good pick.  It’s a nice, easy read for sitting around the pool etc this summer.
This cover was done by Natasha Snow and I liked it a lot.  It’s really well done artistically and I loved the details and the bright colors.
Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 156 pages
Published June 12th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139190
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #1

A MelanieM Review: Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Play from bestselling author Josh Lanyon  

One final game of cat and mouse… 

Ex–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot’s hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn’t acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner’s gruesome mission.

When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it’s the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him.

The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor—but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer’s twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.

I don’t know if Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon is the end for one of my favorite couples, Elliot Mills and Tucker Lance, but if it is, Josh Lanyon is sending them off in an magnificent “Bon Voyage” of a story!  Fair Game, the first story, is one novel I still return to when I want one of those comfort read romances, not because of the story line, which is downright horrific and scary but for the couple and the intense relationship and hot sex! That book never gets old.  Fair Play, the second story, was a little more problematic, still great, it dealt with Elliot’s father Roland Mills, his past with a sixties activist group and a missing person.  I love the interchange between Elliot and Roland, Roland and Tucker, and the dynamics between the three are always charged and somehow that book almost destroyed that for me (and them).   At the start of Fair Chance, things are still strained between father and son.

But Fair Chance?  It not only returns to the case and serial killer that made that such a stunning mystery, The Sculptor, but it takes the relationship between Elliot and Tucker and shows us just how far they’ve come from that first story.  The couple has worked on resolving their trust issues, open lines of communication between them and their partnership has evolved into a mature, warm, and deep-hearted strong one.  Still hot, amazingly sexy but now based more more than attraction, need and a love they were afraid to admit to.  All of which makes Tucker’s disappearance even more devastating when it occurs.

As others have  said, damn that blurb!  There are far too many elements given up there.  I wish that one in particular had not been mentioned.  But even with that huge one glaring at you (and a few more as well), Lanyon’s elegant writing, purposeful, elaborate construction of the mysteries and investigation, as well as the ever building suspense keeps one at the edge of both hope and despair along with Elliot.

Roland is present here as a steadying presence for his son just when he needs him the most and Elliot acquires a dog named Sheba, an amazing character in her own right.  All of these things are excellent and I  loved them.  But at the core here is Elliot, Tucker, and their love.  That’s at stake here with Tucker’s disappearance.  We never forget that, not for a moment.  Nor do we forget who Elliot is up against…evil incarnate in the form of the Sculptor and his plans for them both.  It’s a heart-stopping race and I was invested emotionally the entire story, and not just because of my love for this couple, but at the thought of just what was loose on those around them.  What an amazing read!

I highly recommend Fair Chance, along with its predecessors, Fair Game and Fair Play. This whole series is downright addictive as is this couple.  I hope Lanyon is going to continue the series but if she doesn’t she’s given them a powerful sendoff.  I couldn’t ask for more!

Cover art is ok.  I probably wouldn’t be happy with any cover depicting the characters as I have my own ideas of what they look like at any  age.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 336 pages
Published March 13th 2017 by Carina Press
ISBN139781459293618
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesAll’s Fair #3 settingWashington (United States)

A VVivacious Review: Sex in C Major by Matthew J. Metzger

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
 
I really can’t write an adequate blurb for this one. My fumbling attempt at writing one for this book yielded this –
“Stefan is a transgender male who has fantasies that could get him killed especially combined with his mile long issues. When a chance encounter with Daz seems to get him exactly what he wants, will he finally come to terms with what he wants or will it take something very different to force Stefan to recognise himself?”
…just read the blurb, its pretty spot on.
 
I finished reading this book on the 4th of June and as I sit down to write this review it is the 8th of June. I have taken a lot of time to assimilate my thoughts regarding this book and I still don’t think I have grasped them all. Reading this book feels like an experience. It’s the kind of book that pulls you kicking and screaming into its world and wrings you out till all you can do is absorb everything this book has to offer. This book is a sensory overload and that might be the most truthful thing I think there is to say about this book.
 
Regarding the warnings that come with this book, while this book is pretty dark and overwhelming with emotions and frankly pulls you in a million different directions it didn’t even come close to my limits so I on the whole didn’t have to deal with discomfort when I read it, but I feel that for a lot of people this is going to be a significant aspect of this book. This book is bare bones reality it doesn’t cover up anything nothing fades to back and everything is starkly defined so there is no getting away. So when you pick up this book heed the warnings.
 
When I started reading the book it was like reading the book you love to hate. I had a million problems with this book when I started it but if I have to be true to myself I realise that I loved the book then as well. But at that point, in the beginning, there was so much I had a problem with. Stefan harps on normal so much in the beginning of this book that I hated seeing the word come up in the text and it comes up a lot. Also Stefan has some extremely outdated views on woman and it felt really wrong to hear those from him. One of the biggest wins for me in this book was when Daz sets the record straight on that account. It instantaneously made me respect Daz even when I was in the love to hate phase with this book. Initially I felt like this author isn’t for me because I have read another book by this author and I didn’t like that much but this book proved me wrong in that regard.
 
The best thing this book has to offer is undoubtedly Yannis. Reading a character like him made me realise why diversity is so important because looking at the world from a different perspective can be beyond enlightening it can be transcendent. He is the kind of character that you don’t even know you want to read about till you have met him and then you realise how much you were missing when you finally do. When Yan fights it’s something so amazing.
 
Yan and Daz’s relationship has got to be the most mind boggling relationship of all times because it is missing all the tradition elements that you find in relationships. It is a sexual and romantic relationship but only from one side of the equation and the other side is completely indifferent. While indifferent is the word that comes to mind it has also made me realise that love is more than romance and sex and while those are the two things that love is most often related with and for some people romance + sex = love it is nice to meet a couple that doesn’t fit the former part of the equation at all but still manages the latter. I loved the fact that these two characters loved each other without their Love being love. It’s truly made me realise that Love is so much more than our mind can comprehend and it truly is something else, more than you know, more than you can imagine and is the most unclassifiable thing in the world.
 
Daz is a quintessential male. While writing this review the thing that comes to mind when I think of Daz is a classical romance hero who is nice but dark except Daz’s so called darkness isn’t an indefinable something but something you are made familiar with in the very beginning of the book. He is dangerous and he is sweet. I loved his sweet and cuddly moments and it’s very funny to think of the fact that he is the only romantic one in the relationship he shares with Yan because he is kind of the guy in books who is the least interested in romance but in this book if he wants romance he has to grab it with both hands. Irony thou art funny.
 
Stefan is the one character in this book who was not an instant favourite. Initially his very skewed view on cis gendered people was really getting to me and then his obsession with normal was maddening. The only thing that I could understand of Stefan’s initially was his kink. I got his need for it and I also got his hatred for it and how he would let his want for it made him go crazy but when the want was fulfilled it would leave him defiled. One of the things that Stefan learns during the course of this book was to let be, to not let his impression of normal prevent him from living his life the way he wants to live it. There is a conversation between Daz and Stefan which in a very overly simplified manner amounts to Stefan harping on the fact that he wasn’t normal and Daz telling him to get over it, to get over the fact that he enjoyed things others wouldn’t consider normal because the fact was that he enjoyed them, so he should and fuck anyone else who thinks otherwise. Surprisingly I have been on Stefan’s end of this conversation and while what Daz was saying to Stefan is exactly what I wanted to say to Stefan I also understand how hard it is to just let go of your beliefs no matter how wrong they may be, so Stefan’s struggles made a unique impact.
 
There is this scene at the end of the book which is really intense. I read two reviews that I read before reading this book both in their own way propelled me to read the book. I only read one line of the second review and that said DNF @98%. Now this was really surprising for me and insanely for who would possibly stop reading a book just before it’s about to end. So yeah there is something at the end of the book that could possibly be distressing enough to just DNF the book on the spot, but for me while the scene is intense it also fits the story and the characters, it is not jarring and it didn’t feel unreal in fact I am very surprised how naturally that scene flowed. But I guess this scene will be the source of quite a lot of debate. Personally for me Daz and Stefan’s sex life is something I completely understand. I get both the desire to submit to the extent Stefan wants to as well as the desire to call something someone yours.
 
Whenever I think of this book I think of colours so bright you feel you can touch them.
 
This book is like notes on a page when you play the notes some will hear a noise while others will hear the symphony.
 
Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I loved the attention to detail in the cover. It is an amazing cover.
Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 426 pages
Published May 27th 2017 by JMS Books LLC
Original TitleSex in C Major
ASINB06Y1QZP55
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Audiobook Review: The Interborough (A Five Boroughs Story) by Santino Hassell and Michael Ferraiuolo (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5
The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.
 
I know I’m in the minority here, but Ray and David were my least favorite couple in this series.  I really didn’t have much interest in reading more about them but the author promised more Nunzio so I was here in a hot minute.  I have to say this turned out to be a really enjoyable story and I’m super glad I read it.
 
These two have been together over a year at the time this takes place and they are really struggling.  Ray is working himself ragged with two jobs and school and David’s struggling with insecurities due to a number of things.  The book starts with them in a bad place and things only go down hill.  I probably say this in every review of this author’s work but I think his number one strength is his ability to make his characters feel so real.  He writes every day, average people who are flawed and who you can relate to in different ways.  There’s a saying in marriage therapy that there is “your side, their side and the truth”.  This was the case here.  Ray and David are both trying but they see everything differently and they were both wrong.  But they were also both right.  Anyone who’s been in a long term relationship knows how hard it can be sometimes.  There’s even a discussion at one point about how love is not always enough to make a relationship work and I think a lot of us know how true that can be.  So, there’s some angst here. There’s a bit of heartache for both of the MC’s.  But, there’s also some beauty in the rawness of their emotions.  These two work for their hea but that just makes seeing them get it so much more beautiful.
Hands down though, my favorite part of the book was the epilogue.  That was everything!  Maybe my favorite thing this author has ever written.  I enjoyed this entire book but even if I hadn’t have, it would have all been worth it just for the epilogue.  
I had originally read this book when it first came out but wanted to try it on audio, mostly for the epilogue part.  This was narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo and I have to say it was a fantastic narration.  He took this book to another level and his narration made Ray and David come to life. Every bit of humor, romance, sadness, anger, it was all here and it was packed with emotion.  I bought into these two and their romance way more in hearing it than I did in reading it. The audio took me from liking this story to loving this story.
This is the fourth book in this series and should not be read as a standalone.  It is basically a continuation of the book Sunset Park.  You would definitely need to read at least that one before you read this.  If you’re a fan of this series I definitely recommend this audio.  It was just wonderful.
The cover was done by Mel Seser and I think it was nicely done.  The same model was used for all the books in the series about the Rodriguez brothers and I think that was a great move.  It ties them all together nicely and is a good representation of the characters.
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 1 page
Published May 15th 2017 by Riptide Publishing (first published October 24th 2016)
Original TitleInterborough
ASINB071VP1NQ4
SeriesFive Boroughs #4

In the Spotlight: Sean Michael on The Dom’s Way (author interview and excerpt)

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The Dom’s Way (Iron Eagle Gym #5) by Sean Michael
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Buy links:

Dreamspinner Press: eBookand Paperback |

Amazon |  Barnes & Noble |Kobo  

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sean Michael here today talking about books, writing and the latest in his Iron Eagle Gym series, The Dom’s Way.  Welcome, Sean.

✒︎

 

Thank you Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me today.

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

They live in my head, so there’s got to be some of me that goes into them. A lot of times there will be one or two little details about a character that comes from me. A favorite food, a habit, how they watch tv, that kind of thing.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I was, and still am, a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan. I tend not to write either of those. Maybe because that for me is entertainment? I don’t know, because I love writing and reading MM, too. Although, really, if asked I’d still say that sci-fi and fantasy are my favorite.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

The more my characters hurt, the faster I write. Once I hit angst, I hate leaving them there and I write like a fiend until I get them through it.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I love HEA (and I’ll take HFN). Everyone deserves their happy ending. Besides, there’s so much terrible stuff in the world, it’s important to me that the books I write add happiness.

  • How do you choose your covers?

Each publisher is slightly different, but with Dreamspinner you fill out a form, and most of the time the artist manages to interpret what I’ve written down into a great cover. I’m especially pleased with the Iron Eagle Gym covers – they are all clearly a part of the same series.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I have just submitted the next Iron Eagle Gym book – The Eager Boy. This one features Robin and Stack who make appearances in The Dom’s Way.

Sean Michael

smut fixes everything

Blurb

Neal and Way from The Closet Boy are back, only now they’re Dom and sub, and exploring their relationship through the lifestyle. Way is eager to learn everything, and more in love with his master every day. For his part, Neal can’t believe how lucky he is to have found such an innocent but sensual boy.

As they learn what works best for them both, Way has trouble obeying some of the rules Neal imposes. Like the no touching himself rule. Neal wants Way to learn control, but Way, after so long holding back, has trouble not indulging. The two men must work together to find the balance that brings them each the most satisfaction and happiness.

Excerpt

Neal stopped him in the stairwell, tilted his chin, and took a kiss, tongue slipping into his mouth. “I love you. And I want to know how the plug feels inside you.”

“It’s really there. Like pressing on my hole. I’m worried it’ll fall out.”

“You have underwear and jeans to make sure that doesn’t happen. But I think you’ll keep it in under your own power.”

“I can’t believe we’re talking about this. This is where I work.” He wanted to curl into Neal and hide.

“Well, there’s no one around, and this isn’t just any place.” Neal hugged him tight. “Given what goes on here, I don’t think a little conversation about a plug is going to shock anyone.”

Way gave in to temptation and snuggled in. How on earth had he ended up here—on the run from parents who believed he was going to Hell for kissing a boy to working for a gym with a gay BDSM clientele?

He knew his parents would say he’d lost his way entirely, but he liked to think he’d gotten lucky.

About the Author

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:

SA Stovall on Writing, Books and her novel Vice City (author interview)

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Vice City (Vice City #1) by S.A. Stovall
DSP Publications
Cover art by Aaron Anderson

BUY LINKS FOR VICE CITY

DSP Publications: https://tinyurl.com/ycumb5d2
Amazon:
https://tinyurl.com/yagll39f
Barnes & Noble:
https://tinyurl.com/y7tuowhk
Google Play:
https://tinyurl.com/yajyrwt9
Kobo:
https://tinyurl.com/ycu3wnl6

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host S.A. Stovall here on tour for her debut novel, Vice City.  Welcome, S.A.!

 

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with SA Stovall~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

13%

Nah, I’m joshing.

For the most part, I try not to put a lot of myself into a character. I’ve never written a character that was an author, gamer, or attorney (the three life roles I identify with) and I have a lot of odd mannerisms that I never write into my stories (saying kooky things, living a hermit lifestyle, talking to myself, etc.).

That being said, I use my life experiences to shape characters, and sometimes an odd phrase of mine will slip through. 

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue, or should I say Gary Stu, and using your own experiences to create a character?

No, not really.

From my understanding, a Mary Sue/Gary Stu character is a self-insert that lacks flaws, is admired by their peers, and is often the key to solving the story’s dilemma (either by being the chosen one, or by being soooo much smarter than the villain, you guys).

Like I said above, I try not to write myself as a character, but if I did, I would need to write several flaws. I’m somewhat awkward, a little too literal, and if I don’t eat something after I wake up, I tend to get hangry (hungry + angry).  Not the Mary Sue type.

And I imagine that’s the same with everyone. Everyone has flaws. If an author is using their own experiences (honestly) there’s no way they can avoid their flaws, which would defeat the definition of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Even if I make up my own world and cultures, I still end up doing a lot of research. I like my fantasy/speculative fiction to carry some real-world parallels. Additionally, I’m not an expert on everything (though that would be cool) and I tend to read a fair deal of information, even for minor scenes, just to make sure I get them accurate.

That being said, research isn’t all parties and confetti. It’s like editing—I’ve got to do it, no matter how soul-draining it can be. I know it’s all worth it in the end, however. I can be proud of the finished product, and that’s what matters.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

The first book I read and fell in love with was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. It sparked my imagination like no other books had—to this day I remember the impact it had on my thoughts.

After that, I read a ton of fantasy and science fiction, especially anything with animals (Rats of NIMH, Watership Down, Plague Dogs) or with darker themes and characters (Black Jewels Trilogy, Dune, Ender’s Game, 1984).

I would definitely say these novels have an influence on my work. I love dark, gritty themes, and one day I’ll write my own animal novel, just you wait and see!

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer Happily Ever After. That being said, I also like a few stories that end in straight tragedy, but those two aren’t as dissimilar as some might think.

I like definitive endings. It’s good, or it’s bad, I don’t want wonder.

Happy For Now endings are filled with uncertainty. Will the future be okay? Will it all fall apart? I don’t want to think about that. I like knowing!

How do you choose your covers?  (Curious on my part)

Well, my publisher was gracious enough to hire an artist, and I sent said artist a written out description of what would be my ideal cover. Then the artist got back to me with a few mock-ups.

When I look at the mock-ups, I go with my first gut reaction. Did I like it? Did I trust it? Then I focus in on the details. What’s going on here? Is it clear? Does it get the tone across?

The cover for my novel, Vice City, captures the tone to a T. It’s dark, atmospheric, and it’s set in a gritty cityscape. I fear it may scare people away, in all seriousness, but I want people to know Vice City is a noir-style thriller, not a light-n-fluffy crime drama.

What’s next for you as an author?

Lots and lots! The sequel to Vice City, titled Vice Enforcer, is already set for publication April 2018. Additionally, I have several novels with my agent, and three more in the works. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my adoring fans (*waves to the two people on twitter* – Vice City is my debut novel – doesn’t mean I can’t pretend).

BLURB FOR VICE CITY

After twenty years as an enforcer for the Vice family mob, Nicholas Pierce shouldn’t bat an eye at seeing a guy get worked over and tossed in the river. But there’s something about the suspected police mole, Miles, that has Pierce second-guessing himself. The kid is just trying to look out for his brother any way he knows how, and the altruistic motive sparks an uncharacteristic act of mercy that involves Pierce taking Miles under his wing.

Miles wants to repay Pierce for saving his life. Pierce shouldn’t see him as anything but a convenient hookup… and he sure as hell shouldn’t get involved in Miles’s doomed quest to get his brother out of a rival street gang. He shouldn’t do a lot of things, but life on the streets isn’t about following the rules. Besides, he’s sick of being abused by the Vice family, especially Mr. Vice and his power-hungry goon of a son, who treats his underlings like playthings.

So Pierce does the absolute last thing he should do if he wants to keep breathing—he leaves the Vice family in the middle of a turf war.

AUTHOR BIO

S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.

As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.

You can contact her at the following addresses.

Twitter: @GameOverStation

Website: https://sastovallauthor.com

Release Day Blitz for A Way with Words by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A Way with Words

Series: A Way With Stories Series

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Self Pub

Release Date: June 22

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 24k approximately

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Humor, New York City
Amazon- http://amzn.to/2sXx9mn

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Synopsis

 

Tony De Luca is a simple guy. He works for his uncle’s Brooklyn-based construction firm. And he knows from experience that keeping his head down and doing his job is the best way to deal with the meddlesome family members he sees daily. They think he’s quiet and maybe a little awkward but the truth is more complicated. Tony has a secret he isn’t ready or willing to share. He’s an expert at avoiding familial scrutiny. At least he was until the sexy guitar player showed up.
Remy Nelson is a small-town, free-spirited guy looking for a new life in the big city. He stays busy playing his instrument on a busy Manhattan street corner during the day and bartending at night. Remy is more interested in finding steady employment than a mate, but he can’t deny his attraction to the dreamy construction worker with soulful eyes, a kind heart, and a unique way with words. Falling for Remy wasn’t what Tony expected, but keeping him will require courage. And an end to keeping secrets.

 

Excerpt

“Yeah, that’s no fun. But it’s good to make new friends.” He gave me a sideways grin. “Like us.”

“Yeah, except you make me sweat,” I admitted with a half chuckle. Then I added, “In a good way. I like you.”

Remy hummed softly and sidled closer to me, resting his thigh against mine. “I like you too, Tony. You make me smile.”

We stared at each other for a long moment. All those funny details came rushing at me. Things I never noticed about other people. The gorgeous halo of curls, the shape of his eyes, the freckle on his cheek and those luscious lips. The lone bulb above the back door illuminated him in a yellowish light that shouldn’t have been flattering but I had a feeling Remy would look good with a paper bag on his head. Wait. That didn’t make sense. I furrowed my brow and cocked my head just as Remy set his arm over my shoulder and pulled me forward.

My heart raced when the tips of our noses brushed and our breath commingled visibly in the cool air. With a courage I didn’t know I possessed, I angled my head and slowly touched my lips to his. Just a touch. He had room to pull away. Hell, he even had room to punch me if I got this totally wrong. But when he purred softly and licked the corner of my mouth, I knew we were on the same page.

I cradled the back of his head and gently threaded my fingers through his hair. I held him like he was a fragile flower or something. Then in my typical bull-in-a-china-store style, I plunged my tongue between his lips. Remy gasped at the onslaught but he didn’t miss a beat. He wrapped both of his arms around my neck, drawing me close as he glided his tongue over mine, twirling and sucking feverishly.

I didn’t know how long we made out on that stoop but I could have done it all damn night. He tasted incredible and he felt even better. I loved the way he pressed his chest against mine and those sexy noises he made drove me wild. I wanted more than we were able to do on a cigarette break. Much more.

We broke for air and eyed each other, looking for clues. Or maybe that was just me. I couldn’t be the one in charge of directing traffic here. I was out of my depth. He had to tell me what came next. I’d never figure it out on my own. Remy caressed my cheek and smiled before leaning in to nibble on my bottom lip.

“I have to go,” he whispered.

“Okay. I’ll see ya ’round.” My huskier than usual voice didn’t mesh with the casual vibe I was going for.

Remy pulled back with a smirk. “That’s all you’re going to say? “See ya”? Don’t you want my number or something?”

“Um yeah. Yeah, I do.” I pulled out my cell and handed it to him. “Put it in. My hands are shaking.”

This time when he smiled, I felt it deep inside me. The butterflies in my stomach fluttered like crazy but in a good way.

Available for Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Blog Tour for Strong Enough by Melanie Harlow & David Romanov (excerpt)

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Strong Enough, an all-new sexy standalone from USA Today Bestselling author Melanie Harlow and David Romanov is available now !

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Strong Enough

by Melanie Harlow & David Romanov

Genre: Contemporary MM Romance

Publication Date: June 19, 2017

I wasn’t looking for Derek Wolfe.

I wasn’t looking for anybody. All I wanted was to start a new life in America. But when I found myself stranded here with no place to go, he came to my rescue, offering me a place to stay.

He’s smart, successful, and sexy as hell—I can barely sleep knowing he’s right down the hall. And when the chemistry between us explodes one night with fierce, fiery passion, it’s hard to deny there’s something real between us.

But he does.

He says he was drunk. He says it was a one-time thing. He says he’s not into guys and what we did meant nothing.

He’s lying. Because it happened again, and again, and again. And it’s better every time.

I know we could be good together, and I want the chance to try, but I’m done hiding. If he’s not strong enough to admit the truth, I’ll have to be strong enough to walk away.

Excerpt:

Figuring I’d had enough booze to blunt his effect on me, I rolled up the sleeves of my black button-down shirt and moved next to him. “I’ll help you.”

“Okay.”

I caught him trying to not to look at my wrists and forearms, and it made me smile. How does it feel to want someone and have to hide it? “You wash, I’ll dry?”

“Sounds good.”

We worked in silence, shoulder to shoulder, and I found myself increasingly—and disturbingly—pleased at the thought of him being attracted to me and being forced to conceal it. It was fucking horrible of me to take pleasure in his discomfort, but I liked being secretly wanted. Being illicitly desired. Being the object of his covert glances and maybe even his darkest, dirtiest thoughts. I let our arms touch more than necessary, as thrilled by the physical contact as I was by the thought of what it might be doing to him.

For there is no man who does not sin.

My dick started to get hard, clearly unbothered by the whiskey that was breaking down my inhibitions, pushing past all my defenses, and letting my imagination run wild.

What’s in that gorgeous head of yours, Maxim? What’s behind those cobalt eyes? What would you do to me, if I let you? What would you let me do to you?

“Carolyn is so nice,” he said, handing me the last serving dish left to be dried.

What? He was thinking about Carolyn right now? He wasn’t supposed to be thinking about Carolyn—I was, goddammit!

But I wasn’t. “Yeah.”

He turned off the water. Rested his wet hands on the edge of the sink. “I didn’t realize you had a girlfriend.”

And I heard it in his voice—the slightest edge of jealousy, so faint I might never have noticed it had I not been so hyperaware of everything about him right now. I fucking loved it.

“She’s not my girlfriend.”

“Oh.” Now there was confusion. “I guess I misunderstood.”

“She wants to be my girlfriend.”

Silence.

Of course there was silence. Maxim would never ask what the problem was. But I wanted to tell him. I wanted him to know. I wanted to share the impossible longing I felt with one person who might understand it.

“The problem is me.”

He was completely still. Before I could stop myself, I covered his right hand with my left. “Sometimes I don’t know what I want.”

He yanked his hand from beneath mine and we faced each other.

For the first time tonight, I looked him right in the eye. Nothing around us existed for me anymore. I heard only his breath. Smelled only his skin. Saw only his guarded expression.

I had to have him.

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Read  Today!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2sfN27l

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/YwYlrO

iBooks: Strong Enough

Nook: https://goo.gl/nCsAec

Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/eU1rwv

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About Melanie:

Melanie Harlow writes sexy, emotional romance about strong, stubborn characters who can’t help falling in love. She’s addicted to bacon, gin martinis, and summer reading on the screened-in porch. If she’s not buried in a book or binging on Netflix, you might find her running, putting a bun in someone’s hair, or driving to and from the dance studio. She lives outside Detroit with her husband and two daughters.

Melanie is the USA Today bestselling author of the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, MAN CANDY, AFTER WE FALL, IF YOU WERE MINE, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s.

Connect with Melanie:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieHarlow/?fref=ts

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NPkYKs

Twitter: @MelanieHarlow2

Website: http://www.melanieharlow.com

Sign up for Melanie’s Newsletter: http://www.melanieharlow.com/subscribe/

About David:

For David Romanov, STRONG ENOUGH is to a great extent autobiographical. Born in Russia and raised in Europe, he landed in the United States at the age of 24, where he learned a lot about cultural differences between East and West. David firmly believes in ‘The One’ and learning through love. When he isn’t traveling or educating Melanie in Russian culture, he enjoys books and the company of his husband and dog in Los Angeles.

Connect with David:

GoodReads: https://goo.gl/2Bekxz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/David-Romanov-Author-1487479804635708/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2rWkfUO