Poll Results, Posts, and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Poll Results, Future Posts, and  How We Look At Covers

I loved looking at our poll results from last Sunday.  It turns out that most of our readers like short LGBT stories and find the ones they are reading pretty enjoyable.  Also gleaned from the polls? Most of the books are purchased from Amazon first, then the publishers, then a third source, which is probably not a surprise to anyone as that juggernaut  continues to plow on with major consequences for all, not just the book world.  Only time it seems will be able to stop Amazon.  All others will have to adjust.

Audiobooks?  A surprise!  I really thought our numbers would reflect the industry’s here.  But for our readers only 50 percent listen to audiobooks, 43 percent don’t, and the rest don’t but can’t tell you why.  Huh.  According to the  industry many more are listening to books these days than actually  reading them.  A figure I   also find surprising.  Maybe the real answer lies somewhere in between.  Another assumption of mine?  That more readers actually followed narrators but that turned out not to be true.  They listened to books no matter who narrated them.  Now I’m sure people actually do look for certain narrators. I certainly do.  But it doesn’t stop them from listening to stories with other narrators, including narrators they may be unfamiliar with.  Which is great news for new narrators and all companies who produce audiobooks.

Then it comes down to book covers. Do they still matter?  The answer is a resounding yes!  A majority of our readers, 72 percent, say covers matter.  Which might surprise some in this age of the eBook but it shouldn’t because those covers are heavily featured too.  In tours, ads, and yes, on the books themselves on publishers sites and Amazon.  People still choose books by their covers (29 percent) but no one said they don’t look at them.  Everyone looks at them and has a judgement about them.  Do you love them?  Do they make you go meh?  Do you glance over them or is your attention grabbed immediately?  Are you transported to another world or into a story?   Did the artist do their job?  And what is their job?

And do you, my readers, sense a post coming on? lol

Why yes, you do!

You see, I have been passionate about covers all my reading life, since the first cover caught my attention and made me want to pick it up and ask “what’s this about?”  I’ve been asking that question ever since no matter the  genre.  Great artists continue to pull me in.  I even have an oil  painting on my wall that was once the cover of a book.  It’s gorgeous.  I can look at certain covers and at a glance know that it was done by Garrett Leigh or Paul Richmond, Simone’ or Anne Cain.  There’s a style , a tone that shouts that artist’s name.  The same goes for Reese Dante.  A Reece Notley cover?  Yep.  Aisha Akeju is another who’s artist is quirky and different.  Just look at that artist’s covers for Mell Eight’s series.

When I think of new or newer artists that stand out, Natasha Snow jumps to mind.  Her covers are  extremely popular and well done. Meredith Russell and Kris Jacen too.

I love it when I see a gorgeous cover that has been carefully crafted so that its not only dramatic but that it tells a story, as it should.  Covers have a job to do.  And many are forgetting that these days.

If I had a Skittle for every cover that had nothing to do with the story within, that seemed generic, that had a half naked male torso on it and left it at that, etc, I would have a gallon full.

Boy, I struggled to find great covers this year.  First time ever.

So here we go.

 

And if you could ask a cover artist any question, what would it be?  Send them in and be entered in our Ask A Cover Artist Giveaway!  Ends in 2 weeks.

And I have also give you all three covers for the amazing novel,  The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #4) by Ursula K. Le Guin.  My version was that first one.  Each was a different edition with, of course, a different cover.  What do you think of them and which do you prefer?  And why?  And how many of you have read this story?  Curious on my part…..

 

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 20:

  • Poll Results, Posts, and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Freebie Blitz for Shane and Trey (Enemies to Lovers #1) by Anyta Sunday

Monday, January 21:

  • Cover Reveal  – Rat Park by Marina Vivancos
  • Release Day Blitz Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert
  • BLITZ Unlocking the Doctor’s Heart by Liam Livings
  •  PROMO R.L. Merrill
  • An Alisa Review: Elemental Magick (The Donovan Coven #1) by Jacki James
  • A Stella Review: How Not to Blend (Lovestrong #1) by Susan Hawke
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review Out in the Offense by Lane Hayes

Tuesday, January 22:

  • Review Tour – V.L. Locey – One-On-One (Cayuga Cougars #5)
  • BLITZ Contact by M.D. Neu
  • Tour for Abaddon’s Locusts (A BJ Vinson Mystery #5) by Don Travis
  • An Ashlez Release Day Review: The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick
  • An Alisa Review: At Home (Finding Home #1) by Carly Marie
  • An Ashlez Review: I Wished For You by Colette Davison
  • A MelanieM Review: One-On-One (Cayuga Cougars #5) by  V.L. Locey

Wednesday, January 23:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway:If I Ever by SE Jakes
  • BLITZ Half Life by Gregory L. Norris
  • Blog Tour Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert
  •  PROMO Claudia Mayrant
  • An Alisa Review: Home is Where The Heart Is (Isle of Misfit Toys) by Pelaam
  • A Lucy Review: Pisces Floors Taurus (Signs of Love #4.5) by Anyta Sunday
  • A MelanieM Review: Sins of the Son (Arcadia Trust, #3) by Christian Baines

Thursday, January 24:

  • Release Blitz – I Wished For You by Colette Davison
  • BLITZ The Fairy Pond by Jason Black
  •  PROMO A. Nybo
  • A Lucy Review:  Love Around the Corner (New Milton #1.5) by Sally Malcolm
  • An Alisa Review : There’s Something about Flying by Schuyler L’Roux
  • A MelanieM Review: At War with a Broken Heart by Dahlia Donovan

Friday, January 25:

  • Ward Maia on Beneath These Fields
  • Blog Tour Stay by KM Neuhold
  • Blog Tour for A World Apart by Mel Gough
  • An Alisa Review Gargoyle’s Embrace (Polar Nights #3) by Siryn Sueng
  • A Stella Review: Living on the Inside by Londra Laine
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Beneath These Fields ( World of Love) by Ward Maia
  • A Jeri Review: Shane and Trey (Enemies to Lovers #1) by Anyta Sunday

Saturday, January 26:

  • Release Blitz – Jessie Pinkham – Acts Of Service
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review – See the Light by Kate McMurray

Freebie Blitz for Shane and Trey (Enemies to Lovers #1) by Anyta Sunday

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Shane and Trey

Series: Enemies to Lovers (Book 1)

Publisher: self-published

Free for a limited time only: January 20th – 24th

Length (Print & Ebook): 66000 words / 230 pages (print)

Subgenre: Light hearted, sweet, new adult gay romance

Tropes: enemies-to-lovers, sister’s boyfriend, college, roommates, forced proximity, inconvenient attraction, first time, slow burn romance

All buy links or pre-order links:

https://books2read.com/shane-and-trey

About the book:

Light hearted, sweet, new adult gay romance and coming out story of two college boys turning from enemies to lovers.

~ ~ ~

Shane is a little bit screwed, he’s just started college and stuck rooming with that bastard Trey. His sister’s boyfriend. His sister’s damn fine boyfriend. Uh-oh. This so wasn’t going to happen. But try as he might, there’s just a little too much to ignore between the two of them…

~ ~ ~

Each of the four fun & sexy gay romance novels in the “Enemies to Lovers” series can be read as a stand-alone and in any order.

Read what Anyta Sunday has to say about SHANE AND TREY:


Enemies to Lovers – who doesn’t love this trope?!?

I really enjoy romances that pair guys that can’t stand the sight of each other… but then, slowly, realize there’s more to the other… 

My “Enemies to Lovers” series is full of these stories, and right now you can grab the first book, “Shane and Trey”, for FREE!

This classic Anyta Sunday new adult gay romance has over 70 Amazon reviews and over 2000 ratings on Goodreads.

Freebie Blitz excerpt 1:

I took the letter and worked my pinkie under the flap. Who would my roomie be? I’d given a pretty detailed profile of myself in the application. The guy was surely going to have some of the same interests as me, right? I mean, they had a computer system for this stuff.

In a sudden burst of excitement and confidence I winked at June. “Jeez I hope he’s hot.”

She glanced around my room and gave a small laugh. “Well whoever he is, he’s lucky. You’d be a good roomie. So tidy.” She gazed at her letter again. “They should come with a profile picture. Or at least a last name to Google them. Shoot. I hope Sara will be nice.”

“Don’t worry, she will be. And you can always come hang with me if you don’t like her.”

“Or she doesn’t like me.”

I snorted, scanning over the letter. “Not gonna—”happen, June, I was going to finish. Until I read my soon-to-be-roomie’s name.

Trey.

I frowned, my insides sinking toward my toes. Surely there were like, loads of Trey’s, right? I mean what fucked up coincidence would it be to end up rooming with my sis’s boyfriend? Oh, please don’t let the world be that cruel.

“Well, who is it?”

I swallowed and managed a fake grin. “Funny. His name’s Trey.”

Freebie Blitz excerpt 2:

Near the end of the movie, Trey took another handful of chips. Actually, it might have been the rest. But he balanced them poorly and one fell onto the bed between my legs. In a movement so fast it may as well have blurred, Trey stuffed the chips in his mouth and shoved his hand down the tiny triangle of space in my lap.

I sucked in a hard breath, holding it as Trey moved about trying to find his chip. I should have found it for him, or moved or something, but I’d frozen. There was only one muscle able to move now, and I was doing my best to avoid that happening. Trey was still glued to the screen, like he had no real idea what he was doing. Just a voice in his head whispering for him to find the chip. That delicious crunchy chip. Fucking chip!

Finally he found it and came out, managing to brush his hand over my inner-thigh as he did. Bastard. I scowled as he brought the chip to his mouth and began nibbling it. Nibbling it. Like, what was this guy doing to me?

Was it possible to wish for scary Trey back? The Trey that made me want to be best buddies with my dictionary. Because, in all honesty, I think that might have been easier to handle.

As the credits rolled up, Trey rested a hand on my shoulder. I jumped a bit, and he met my gaze directly.

Trey spoke, dropping his hand suddenly, like before. “Guess it’s about time to get ready for that date of yours.”

Syd. Shoot! I sprung off his bed and checked the time. I had ten minutes before I was meant to meet him. I shrugged out of my T-shirt, quickly folded it, and slipped on a causal black shirt. Patting myself, I calculated what else I needed. I turned around, and Trey held my wallet out to me.

I shoved it in my pocket and found my keys, slipping those in behind my phone. “Right. I gotta run.”

Trey opened the door wide, but as I passed him, he stopped me, one hand curled around my wrist. His warm breath tickled my neck, and, in the lightest of whispers, he said, “Don’t sleep with him.”

Freebie Blitz excerpt 3:

We got inside no problem. Though it crossed my mind it was strange I was following him. I’d sort of just assumed we’d hang out. But what if he was wondering what the hell I was doing shadowing him through the door?

“Looks like it’s just us,” Trey said frowning.

Was that frown to say he also thought it was weird I was standing here when my house was five minutes away?

Trey hesitated, and then started up the stairs. “I thought maybe Mom would be up.”

“It’s late,” I said. “Maybe it’s best we don’t see her until morning.” Only a moment after the words came out, I froze on the stairs, as did Trey. Had I just suggested I’d be staying over? We’d barely hugged and now I jumped to sleeping over? Jesus. I wanted to knock my head against something hard. “I mean,” I said, knowing I should just shut up. But I couldn’t stop myself. You’re making this worse! “I’ll be seeing her on my way to pick you up tomorrow. Or not. Or—”

Trey twisted suddenly, and then I was pinned against the wall. Hot lips on mine. Hard body pressed against me, tight, solid.

I hiccupped on a breath. Like, what just happened? I stared into Trey’s gaze still so close.

“What . . . what was that?” I stammered.

Freebie Blitz excerpt 4:

I clapped the phone shut, Dad’s first words still ringing in my ears. How’s my son? Living up Saturday night, drunk and partying? And then his laugh. Raucous. Like a freaking bad omen. I shivered—couldn’t help it, and sat on the end of my bed where I’d wandered during the two minutes and twenty-nine seconds we’d spoken.

Trey stared at me, brows furrowed together, his mouth a straight line. Was he waiting for me to say something? And what? Yeah, that was my dad, we don’t get on, but you probably heard that in my tone, anyway, let’s not talk about it. I reached over and slammed the phone on my bedside table. Stupid phone. Stupid me for not having looked at the caller ID. Damn, what a way to ruin the mood.

Trey sighed and propped himself on one elbow, on his side. “You can’t choose ’em. Right?”

I mirrored his sigh, but just the way he’d said that—that touch of humor to lighten things up—it was like he knew exactly how to calm me down. The corner of my lips twitched. “If only.”

His eyes softened before his lips corresponded in a smile. “But you know who you can choose.” He beckoned me over, which was hardly necessary. As soon as the words had slipped from his tongue, I was on my way.

Like I’d wanted to do for ages, I pounced onto the mass of pillows next to Trey. He looked startled a moment before cracking up. “Fuck, for a second I thought you were doing some type of wrestling move.”

I grinned. “I was, but to the pillows. Be pretty stupid of me to do it to you. I may not be great at math, but I know my chances at survival would be slim.”

That had him laughing louder. How wonderful it was to hear: boisterous, unrestrained, hearty. Quite fulfilling—quite? No, more than that, incredibly. And just like that Dad drowned from my mind. Everything, except for Trey, simply vanished. Didn’t matter.

Lightly, I touched his chest and felt his laugh as it bubbled underneath my hand. It spread through me, highly infectious, until I was laughing too. We didn’t stop, even when we’d forgotten what was funny and stomach muscles hurt and limbs convulsed. It just felt so good. Every bout seemed to reflect our excitement and nervousness, and cracked through any awkwardness we had being together.

So. Fucking. Fine.

 

 

About Anyta Sunday:

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, and Thai.

Connect with Anyta Sunday:

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anytasundaybooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday

Instagram: https://instagram.com/anytasunday

BookBub: https://bookbub.com/authors/anyta-sunday

Join our giveaway: Prize: 2 e-box sets of the “Enemies to Lovers” books!

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A MelanieM Review: Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The camping trip from hell may be the first stop on the road to happily-ever-after.

Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.

Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.

Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…

Everytime I think I have a favorite series by this author narrowed down, then Annabeth Albert goes ahead and releases a new story. In this case its Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) and, sure enough my heart and attention is switched back to the Out of Uniform series from #gaymers or whatever series it happened to have landed on from the last Annabeth Albert novel I last finished reading.

It works like that with this author.

She has to ability to imbue her stories and characters with such vitality, such heart that they live beyond whatever electronic device you happen to be reading the novel on.  From the moment you meet them, dive into their lives and whatever messy situations they happen to be in, you are completely sunk!  Hooked by the fact that Albert has connected you heart to heart, thought to thought, emotion to emotion to these men and whatever she and this story has in store for them.

Rough Terrain has so much in store for us as readers and for its main characters!  From meeting Canaan Finley making smoothies and waiting for the SEALs to arrive, especially the one he’s crushing on to finding out about the upcoming weekend where Canaan desperately needs to appear with a date, the reader’s anticipation starts to rise.  We know who    he will take but how will Albert bring it about?  And what will happen.  Then we meet Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi and oh my!

This is a series filled with complicated men and rough roads to coupledom. But never have I so eagerly awaited the path these two took together and was so rewarded with the story that followed.

The dynamics between them in various situations from normal daily routines to some of the most traumatic, life threatening scenes imaginable were extraordinary.  From the dialog, to the action I felt every moment, clung to the horror, and almost cried with relief with all the events that take place in the wilderness.  It’s truly amazing in every respect.  And that and the romance will make you want to read this story  over and over.  It’s really one of the highlights of the series.

If you love contemporary stories, here is a novel and a series you won’t want to miss.  If you are a fan of Annabeth Albert, you are probably, like me, already for the next one.

I highly recommend the story, series, and author.  I’m a huge fan of all three.

Cover art by Carina Press art department does a great job in continuing to brand the series with the color tone and overall design.  The figures do well by the main characters and storyline.

Sales Links:   Carina Press |  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: January 14th 2019 by Carina Press
Original Title Rough Terrain
ASINB07GB8B4XR
Edition Language English
Series Out of Uniform #7

Series Out of Uniform /add to Goodreads here:

Off Base

Homecoming (1.5)

Off Leash (1.6)

At Attention (2)

I Do (2.5)

On Point (5)

Wheels Up (4)

Homebodies (4.5)

Squared Away (5)

Tight Quarters (6)

Rough Terrain (7)

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oh my, I really enjoyed this story. It was transported back to the early days of reading MM romance when I first discovered LA Witt.  And at first, the story seemed to be following the lines of one of my old favorites, The Distance Between Us, but it quickly diverged and became totally unique.

Rhys and Derek are over, after nine years together, seven as a married couple, they are going their separate ways—once Rhys can find an affordable apartment, and they sell their home, and tell their adult daughter about the divorce.  The situation is more complicated when she announces she’s getting married in three months. Can they hold off telling her? Can they live with the tension of staying together that long?  Those are the issues that reminded me of the long-ago book.  But the new twist is that this story is much more character-driven.

Rhys bears the burden of guilt—after a night out drinking while away from home and during a rough period in his life, he slept with a stranger. But instead of being sneaky about it, he confesses to Derek, who is unable to forgive him. Trust was broken and there’s not much more difficult to repair between two people. As the action of the story proceeds, it’s very evident that Rhys is hurting. The pain of his own betrayal is sometimes beyond bearable. Yes, Derek is hurting, too, and normally cheating is a drop-dead, don’t read for me, but in this case, the cheating happened before the story opened, and the story was written in such a way that it didn’t affect my emotional attachment to the characters.  That is something not many authors can achieve because I had to leave personal prejudices aside to be able to see Rhys as much more than the a-hole Derek thinks him to be.

Of note, early in the story Derek mentions that one of his reactions was to go out and have sex with someone else. That’s the only time it’s mentioned, however.  He never sees himself in the role of cheater and he never seems to see his own actions as anything other than justified. He never tells Rhys and the subject is dropped.  I would love to have explored this further in the story because although he was “cheated on,” his own behavior should have been questioned IMHO.

The men go through an emotional rollercoaster ride as they travel across country to attend the wedding, and during the trip they face more hurdles than a track star.  I love the way the author slowly peeled back the layers of their relationship and their roles as father. Though Derek was the biological father, Rhys was a father in heart and action. The secondary characters were well-developed and important to the story but didn’t take it over. The focus was on the men and their emotional journey. All in all, I felt drawn to these guys, and by the end I was rooting for forgiveness—not only for Derek to forgive Rhys but for Rhys to forgive himself. 

I got the HEA I was hoping for. Very definitely highly recommended.

The cover by Lori Witt is really clever. The top pane is a guy holding his head, as is a different character in the bottom pane. Dressed in clothing one might expect the characters to wear, they represent the MCs.  And then the center panel is two wedding rings against a plain poster board background that has a jagged tear up the middle. This is where the title is placed. I really like this one. Spot-on for the story and beautifully done!

Sales Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 176 pages
Published January 8th 2019
ASIN B07L7VR883

An Alisa Release Day Review: Place Setting (States of Love) by Claudia Mayrant

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Cameron Dunlop has lived in the Lowcountry town of Summer Corners, South Carolina, his whole life. He loves his home, but his little town in the Deep South doesn’t offer much in the way of dating options.

Chef Gray Callahan has enjoyed success in the kitchen, but his last relationship sunk like a bad soufflé. When plans for his sister’s wedding go awry, it provides the perfect excuse to pack up and go home, where he can help out as he decides how to start his life over.

Gray’s path crosses Cameron’s, and he realizes together they might have all the ingredients to save the day—with maybe enough left over for something sweet just for the two of them.

Such a sweet story.  Cam and Gray meet when Gray moves back to his hometown and they have an instant connection along with Cam helping Gray to find a place for and put on his sister’s wedding.

I really liked both of these characters.  Both of them are romantics at heart and are looking for love but haven’t found the right person yet, Cam can’t seem to find someone who will stick past one night and Gray has recently been burned by his previous partner.  The story didn’t get to in depth about their relationship but it was easy to see their connection and that they seem to have a great future together.

The cover art by Brooke Albrecht is absolutely perfect for this story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 70 pages

Published: January 18, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-972-7

Edition Language: English

Series: A States of Love Story

New Release Blitz for Inside Out (A Road to Blissville Story) by Aimee Nicole Walker (excerpt)

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INSIDE OUT

A ROAD TO BLISSVILLE NOVEL

AIMEE NICOLE WALKER

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: TBD

inside out cover 

COVER ARTIST:  Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art 

BLURB 

Romeo Bradly and Julius Shepherd moved to Blissville for the same reason: a fresh start. Romeo was looking for a school district where he could make a real impact in the lives of students and faculty, and Julius was eager to teach one of his passions to the best and brightest at a school with a nationally ranked science program. But the sleepy little town offered them much more than they’d bargained for—quirky people, unlikely friendships, and an all-consuming attraction that turns them inside out.

When unexpected circumstances threaten to cancel the school play, Romeo’s theater background and Julius’s musical expertise make them the perfect pair to save the day. Working together so closely makes it harder for the men to ignore their growing feelings. After all, the heart knows what it wants and doesn’t care about age gaps, race, or a professional conflict of interest. Romeo and Julius will learn that they have far more in common than they realize, and their differences will make them stronger if they give love a chance.

Their commitment to each other and the play will be tested when outside forces target them as a couple and exert pressure to cancel the production. Romeo and Julius vow to prove their love can conquer any challenge and will burn strong well beyond the curtain call.

Inside Out is a whimsical, May/December romance featuring a man learning to love again and a man falling in love for the first time. It is the sixth book in the Road to Blissville series and can be read as a standalone book or part of the series. This book contains sexually explicit material and is intended for adults 18 and older.

inside out teaser 1

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EXCERPT

I couldn’t contain my laughter if someone offered me a million dollars. Luckily, Rome laughed right along with me instead of getting pissed. How could he not? It was fucking hilarious.

“But wait! There’s more,” he said, sounding like an infomercial. “At my old high school, one of the boys bragged to his buddies in the hallway that he received a hummer the night before, and I heartily congratulated the kid and gave him a fist bump. It was much later that I realized he was talking about getting a blow job and not a new SUV.”

“I…can’t…” I laughed until I gasped for air and tears ran down my face.

“Do you realize we spend as much time laughing together as we do anything else?” Rome asked when the laughter started to fade. “It’s so wonderful I’m not even mad that it’s at my expense most of the time.”

No one affected me the way he did. I laughed harder, my heart beat faster, and my senses were heightened until he was all I could taste, feel, see, and hear. Just him. I cupped his handsome face and stroked my thumb over his square jawline. “There’s nothing I would change about us, Rome. Nothing.”

He leaned into my touch, closed his eyes, and sighed. It felt like he truly believed we could have something real and sustaining for the first time. When he opened his eyes, I knew I was right. No doubt. No hesitation. Only soul-deep gratification. “Me either.”

aimee nicole walker logo

I am a wife and mother to three kids, three dogs, and a cat. When I’m not dreaming up stories, I like to lose myself in a good book, cook or bake. I’m a girly tomboy

who paints her fingernails while watching sports and yelling at the referees.

I will always choose the book over the movie. I believe in happily-ever-after. Love inspires everything that I do. Music keeps me sane.

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Review Tour – Is It Over Yet by LA Witt (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 60,000 words 
 
Cover Design: Lori Witt
 
Blurb
 

Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.


But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.


And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.


Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here. We highly recommend it.
Excerpt
 

Chapter 1


Rhys


The suburban Chicago house I’d lived in for the past six years came into view, and my stomach knotted tighter. It was the same feeling I’d had on my way to a job I’d hated a lifetime ago, when pulling up to the building made me groan out loud at the prospect of another shift in that godforsaken place. Didn’t seem right to feel that way coming home, but there it was, same as it had been for the past two months.


By the time I pulled into the garage beside the familiar red Corolla, my jaw ached from clenching my teeth. Probably because that’s what I’d been doing every night this week at the same time. Ugh. If I didn’t move out of this place soon, my dental bills were going to be astronomical. That was a good enough reason to step things up, wasn’t it? So I didn’t grind my teeth to dust?


As if I didn’t already have a laundry list of reasons why I needed to get out of here.


With an ache in my jaw and a sour feeling in my throat, I collected my coffee cup, lunch bag, and briefcase, and got out of the car. On the way inside, I couldn’t help limping a little, which added to my festering annoyance. It wasn’t unusual for my leg to be sore by the end of the day, especially after I’d been coaching basketball, but it wasn’t doing much for my shitty mood. I couldn’t think of much that would, though. Nothing short of substances that would get me fired. Or maybe finding a note on the counter that said I moved out. There wasn’t a plant on this earth that would get me higher than reading those three sweet little words.


But unless my soon-to-be ex-husband had won the lottery since this morning, he was just as stuck here as I was.


At the door, I paused for a deep breath to steel myself, then went inside. The kitchen and living room were empty. Derek’s car was here, so it was a safe bet he was home, but he was somewhere else in the house. Good enough for me. If I was lucky, he’d stay that way long enough for me to wind down.


I went through my usual motions—cleaning out my lunch bag, rinsing the Tupperware dishes, checking the cats’ food and water, perusing the mail. For years this routine had soothed me. Helped me shift from work to home so I could relax. Not so much these days.


Our long-haired calico, Lucy, hopped upon the counter and chirped at me, and I managed to crack a smile as I scratched her back the way she loved. She arched under my hand and purred. I chuckled, and I didn’t even mind that she was kicking the mail everywhere as she strutted back and forth on the counter.


“Hey, sweetheart. You miss me?”


More purring.


I kept scratching and petting her for a moment, trying not to think about the future. Or the fact that Derek and I still hadn’t come to a custody agreement about the cats. They were littermates, and though they could fight almost as loudly as we could, they were inseparable. There was no “you take Lucy and I’ll take Chico.” When this was all over and we finally went our separate ways, someone was taking both cats, and someone would be living without them.


I scooped Lucy into my arms, and I hugged her tight, which just made her purr louder and my conscience burn hotter. Guilt had been a constant friend for the past couple of months, and every time I thought about either losing my cats or taking them away from Derek, I wanted to cry. As if I hadn’t done enough of that recently.


I’m so sorry, guys. I buried my face in Lucy’s plush fur. I fucked everything up.


The click of a door at the opposite end of the house made my spine stiffen. Lucy tensed too. By the time Derek was halfway up the hall, she’d stopped purring. As he cleared the corner into the living room, she wriggled in my arms, and I sighed as I set her back down on the counter. She jumped to the floor and trotted out of the room, probably to the office where Chico was likely watching birds.


I watched her go, fresh guilt gnawing at me. Things had really gone to shit when even the cats didn’t want to be in the same room with the two of us.


Without the cat to hold my attention anymore, I turned to see where Derek was headed so I could make my own escape. I still needed to change clothes anyway, not to mention take off my prosthetic and sit for a while to give my joints a rest. If he was going to hang out in the living room, then I could go into my bedroom or join the cats in the office.


But Derek wasn’t heading into the living room. He was coming into the kitchen. And from the way his gaze was fixed on me, he wanted to talk about something.


I swallowed. “Hey.”


“Hey.” He slid his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Do you have a few minutes?”


I struggled to hold his gaze. He didn’t seem like he was looking for a fight. There was some tension in his features, but it didn’t read as hostility or anger.


I shifted my weight, wincing at the vicious ache in my hip. “Yeah. Do you mind if we sit, though?”


“Sure. Yeah. Living room?”


“Okay.” I followed him out of the kitchen, and we sat on opposite ends of the sofa. As soon as I was seated, I leaned down, rolled up my pant leg, and disconnected my prosthetic. Derek didn’t speak while I removed it; for all our inability to coexist lately, he was still in the habit of giving me a minute to get situated, particularly when I needed to kick off the prosthetic after a long day on my feet.


I leaned the prosthetic against the end table and sat back, releasing a relieved sigh. Everything ached, especially my hips, knees, and right ankle, and taking some weight off them felt so good. I might’ve even relaxed if not for Derek waiting a cushion away to have a conversation. Ugh. God. What now?


Schooling my expression, I twisted toward him. I stole a second just to look at him. There would come a time in the very near future when all I had left of him was pictures, and even with the constant tension hanging between us, it hurt to imagine not seeing him anymore. Seeing him like this hurt too. The dark eyes that had tongue-tied me on day one were cold now. Beside his eyes and mouth were lines that deepened whenever he smiled or laughed, and they were barely visible now. The near-black hair I’d run my fingers through millions of times, the soft lips I’d tasted more times than I could count, that spot on his neck where a single kiss could make him shudder all over—it was all out of my reach now.


Maybe it was time to take my sister up on the offer to come stay with her. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could handle.


Forcing back my emotions, I tried to sound casual. “All right. What’s up?”


He mirrored me, pulling his knee up onto the cushion and drumming his fingers on his inseam. “Um.” He stared down at his hand. “So, I talked to Vanessa this morning.”


My gut clenched. Instantly my mind was filled with a million worst case scenarios. I’d expected him to have something on his mind about us, not about our daughter, and panic shot through me. Had something happened? Was she hurt? Sick? “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”


“Yeah. Yeah. Everything’s fine.” He made a calm down gesture. “Nothing’s wrong.”


“Okay. Good.” I exhaled, my heartbeat coming back down. It wasn’t unusual for her to call him, but the whole “we need to talk” thing had me on edge. “So…” I raised my eyebrows. Oh God, had he told her? Did he finally tell her we were divorcing? He’d been dancing around that for two months.


Derek cleared his throat, and to my surprise, he smiled, though he still seemed guarded. “She’s, um… She’s getting married.”


I blinked. “She is?”


He nodded. “Corbin proposed last night.”


“Oh. Wow.” I actually laughed because I was so relieved that instead of something horrible, he was breaking the news that Vanessa was engaged. “That’s great!”


“Yeah. It is.” He met my gaze, but then he broke eye contact, and his smile faltered.


How could a conversation be this much of a roller coaster after thirty seconds? Oh, right, because it was us and we were a disaster. A disaster our daughter still didn’t know about.


Derek took a deep breath and sat up a little. “Here’s the thing—they want to get married sooner than later. Corbin is going to be transferring within the next year, and he’ll probably deploy at some point. So they want to get all their ducks in a row quickly.”


I nodded. “Makes sense. How soon is soon?”


“They’re thinking February.”


I whistled. “Really not letting the grass grow, are they?”


He laughed quietly. “No. But it’s still three months away. It isn’t like they’re eloping next week.”


“True.” And why was this line of conversation making me apprehensive? Like it was going somewhere I really didn’t want it to go? I was thrilled for our daughter and her husband-to-be, but something about this discussion with Derek…didn’t feel right. After nine years together, I knew him, I knew his tells, and I knew there was more to this than just telling me Vanessa was getting married.


Chewing his lip, Derek dropped his gaze and watched his fingers drumming on his knee again. There was definitely something on his mind. Something he needed to say, but either couldn’t figure out how to or couldn’t quite work up the nerve.


“Derek?” I nudged. “What am I missing here? You’re happy about this, right?”


“Yeah. Of course. I’m… There’s just…” He closed his eyes. Finally, he met mine again. “Vanessa still doesn’t know about, um, us.”


I winced. In the two months since we’d decided to split up, we’d debated more than once when and how we should tell her. The holidays were almost upon us, so that hadn’t seemed like the right time, and we’d agreed to keep a lid on it until after the New Year. She couldn’t make it out for Thanksgiving, and she was spending Christmas with her mom, so it wasn’t as if we’d have to play happy husbands right in front of her. Just keep up the illusion on social media and on the phone. Easy. Except for the part where it meant we’d had to keep it quiet from almost everyone else so no one accidentally let it slip on Facebook. And we were still stuck living together anyway because neither of us could afford to move out yet, so the whole fucking world thought everything was quiet on the home front. The closest we’d come to letting it slip was when a friend noticed our wedding portrait wasn’t on the mantle anymore. Derek had quickly said the frame had broken, and the subject had dropped. For now.


“Right,” I said. “So what does that have to do with her getting—” I tensed, then inclined my head. “Derek, please tell me you’re not going where I think you’re going.”


He looked at me plaintively. “It’s her wedding, Rhys. The next couple of months are going to be stressful as hell for her, and I’d rather all that stress be about planning her wedding. Not worrying about her dads splitting up.”


Closing my eyes, I pushed out a long breath through my nose. We’d been married for seven years, and even though our happier days seemed like a lifetime ago, I remembered the stressful months leading up to the wedding like it was yesterday. The thought of my parents dropping a bomb like that in the middle of all that chaos? Of trying to enjoy my damn wedding while I worried myself sick about making them be in the same room? Okay, yeah, I got what he was driving at. But…fuck.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…


Website: http://www.gallagherwitt.com
E-mail: gallagherwitt@gmail.com
Twitter: @GallagherWitt
Blog: http://gallagherwitt.blogspot.com

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Out in the Offense (Out in College #3) by Lane Hayes Blog Tour (excerpt)

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OUT IN THE OFFENSE

Out in College Series, Book 3

LANE HAYES

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 01.06.19

out in the offense cover

COVER ARTIST: REESE DANTE 

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Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.

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EXCERPT

“You don’t want to hear about my game or the stupid college parties I went to, so let’s talk statistics.”I tapped the cover of the textbook meaningfully.

“We’ll get there. Did you win?”

“Yeah, it was a blowout.”

“Sorry, the acoustics in here are whack. Did you say you got a blowjob?”

I snickered, then sat back and twisted the straw in my to-go cup. “Unfortunately, no.”

Rory tsked. “Too bad, my friend.”

“Did you?”

“Yep. I want to brag and tell you it was amazing, but it wasn’t all that special. I was horny. He was willing.…You know the story.”

“Yeah, I think it’s called a short story with a happy ending,”I joked.

“Ha! Exactly. That’s what happens when you go lookin’ for love in da club. Everyone’s out for a quick fix. Sounds perfect until it’s over ten minutes later. Then you gotta deal with the uncomfortable ‘Did we really just do that?’aftermath. Not so fun. Enjoy college life while you can. This adult business sucks,”he huffed humorlessly. “And yeah, I took Spanish in school and my brother speaks it. I know enough to hold a short conversation. That’s about it. Why’d you ask?”

I frowned. “I don’t know.”

Rory gave me a patient look. “Talk to me, Christian. We covered Basic BS 101. You told me you won your game and went to a coupla boring parties. I told you I went to WeHo with some friends. Now I’m backtracking to your question about whether or not I speak Spanish ’cause I’m polite like that. Plus it was a weird one. Why’d you want to know?”

“Your tattoo,”I replied, gesturing at his wrist.

Rory turned his palms over for me to inspect. “They’re lines from a Pablo Neruda poem. This one says, ‘En mí todo ese fuego se repite’ and this says, ‘En mí nada se apaga ni se olvida.’The translation is, ‘In me all this fire is repeated’ and ‘In me nothing is extinguished or forgotten.’The poem is called ‘If You Forget Me,’and it’s poignant as fuck. If you don’t know it, look it up.”

“I will. That’s cool.”And “poignant as fuck,”as he so eloquently put it. “But what does it mean to you?”I asked.

“That goes a little beyond water-cooler talk, QB. We’ll save it for when and if we get to know each other well enough to tell secrets,”he said, winking to take the sting from his words.

I nodded in understanding but instead of pulling away, I absently reached out to touch the script. Then I looked into his eyes, and I could have sworn I saw the tiniest crack in his armor before an invisible shield fell into place. In that fraction of a second, a silent communication passed between us. He’d been through hard times and he’d emerged…possibly stronger than ever. I was curious for sure, but there was no way to politely ask his story, so I inclined my head and switched gears.

“Did you study poetry in college?”

“No.”Rory sat back and eyed me for a long moment before continuing. “Are you ready to tackle stats now?”

I slumped in my chair with a theatrical sigh and gave myself a mental high five when he chuckled at my antics. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

“I’ll go easy on you. I’ve got a feeling this is gonna hurt me more than it’ll hurt you,” he snarked.

I chuckled at the playful innuendo as I leaned forward, intent on giving him one hundred percent of my attention for as long as I could possibly stand it.

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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.

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review:Fire and Granite (Carlisle Deputies #2) by Andrew Grey and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

When Judge Andrew Phillips’s life is threatened by a criminal who escaped while being transported to prison, Sheriff’s Deputy Clay Brown steps up to protect Andrew 24/7 and each man learns the other is not who he thought he was.  Neither man previously thought highly of the other, having been across the bench in the courtroom many times through the years.  Andrew is not the cold hard persona he presents. And Clay is more than the stern-faced deputy with no personality Andrew perceived he was.

Harper, the criminal who escaped, is Clay’s cousin, not a close connection, but nevertheless, Clay has some insight into their family situation that helps with the case.  In the meantime, just as Andrew finds his house has been ransacked by Harper, he receives a call telling him his sister’s depression is so severe she’s been hospitalized, and she’s named him guardian of her children.  Though upset about his own situation, he rushes to her side. 

And there is the basis for most of the story.  As the men try to hide from Harper and both attempt to comfort the children, they stay with Clay, and both men discover they have feelings for one another. The ups and downs and dramatic turns in the story are mostly centered around Harper and his threatening texts to Andrew and Clay’s attempts to track him down.  There is a small overlap with a few characters from the Carlisle Cops series as Clay works with Red and Carter and Andrew’s niece and nephew play with Carter and Donald’s little boy.  I always enjoy seeing where other characters are in their lives when some time has passed. 

One of the major issues that troubled me, however, is that Andrew revealed to Clay that he’d seen Harper in a park known to be a gay men’s hookup area prior to the trial, but he didn’t recuse himself from being judge. He stressed that he maintained impartiality but it seems to me that would have been a violation of ethics.  The explanation didn’t sit well with me, especially since the convict was convinced Andrew had treated him poorly because of seeing him at the park.

The ending was as sweet as one would expect from an Andrew Grey story and all worked out well. Narrator Greg Tremblay was as outstanding as usual and gave me several lovely hours of listening pleasure.  He doesn’t just read a story—he lives the story, adding drama and humor to the vocalizations where indicated, making his narration top notch. 

The cover by Kanaka features a muscular man wearing a flak jacket with the word police emblazoned at the top. It fits the story nicely.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Listening length: 6 hours and 40 minutes

Audiobook, 7 pages
Published November 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 10th 2018)
Original Title Fire and Granite
ISBN 139781641081603
Edition Language English
Series Carlisle Deputies #2

A MelanieM Review: Away in a Manger by JC Owens

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Two men from vastly different backgrounds; one city, one country. They have loved each other for over fifteen years, but the balance of their relationship has always been skewed, with Nathan desperately attempting to make Malcolm content on the ranch, when his restlessness and creative soul drives him to explore the world outside. After all this time, the differences were beginning to create a divide that seemed inevitable. Sometimes, love was not enough.

Then Malcolm’s nephew goes missing and a storm brings Nathan to his knees…

Everything they have is suddenly on the brink of disaster.

It will take a Christmas miracle to show two men that everything they are, everything they need, is tied up in a love that deserves a second chance.

Away in a Manger by JC Owens is one of those short stories that not only seems like a much larger book but one that you wish would go on to fill a series.  In just 53 pages, J.C. Owens manages to create a world of characters that feel real right  down to the horses and dogs, a ranch that  comes vividly to life, and an established relationship between two men that solidifies and deepens before our eyes.

Oh, and a missing teenager finds his way to a new home.  At Christmas.  And you don’t want to roll your eyes but embrace the spirit, the love that flows from the story and all the “miracles” it contains.

There is a depth and reality to all the characters here, that includes the horses and the dogs that play big parts in this tale.  I want to spend more time with all of them.  This story and these people cry out for a series of books.  I hope the author is listening.  Until then, spread out your holiday reading to just one more story and pick up Away in a Manger by JC Owens.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art by Kris Jacen.  Just gorgeous and perfect for the story.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 53 pages
Published December 13th 2018 by MLR Press
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