A Caryn Review: Enlightened (Enlightenment Series #3) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*Happy sigh*

What a wonderful happy ending!  If you’ve read the first two books, you will be so satisfied with this culmination of David and Murdo’s story.  I’m a little sad to leave them behind, but there’s always another reread!

I also found that by the time I finished Enlightened, the titles of each book really started to have new meaning to me.  Provoked introduced David and Murdo not only to each other, but to a new type of attraction that neither had experienced before.  Beguiled showed them discovering new and increasingly fascinating aspects of each other, and letting down some of their internal barriers.  Enlightened found them realizing that not only was a relationship possible, but absolutely necessary, and a source of more happiness and contentment than they ever imagined.  The words, the titles, are a perfect description of the progression of their friendship and love.

The book opens with David still residing at Murdo’s estate at Laverock.  Their time there has been idyllic – a time of quiet companionship, physical exploration, growing mutual respect, and surprisingly an evolving business partnership.  Both men were aware of how fragile and fleeting this time was, but knew it had to come to an end eventually.  The end, however, came in an unexpected and somewhat tragic way when David’s old mentor and Elizabeth’s father, Patrick Chalmers, made a dying request:  for David to find Elizabeth and once again keep her safe from her abusive husband.  Doing so required David to travel to London, and quickly, and leave their protected life in a bubble behind.  Murdo had been putting off going to London for weeks, but he now had a good excuse to delay their parting, so he accompanied David.

London for David was just the place Elizabeth and Euan lived, a place for the job he had to do.  But London to Murdo was so much more – the site of his father’s political machinations and the mistakes that Murdo made trying to live up to his father’s expectations.  Also the place he hid a secret from David that he was afraid would tear them apart – the woman he was engaged to.

That is the only spoiler I will give in this review.  Once that little nugget of information was dropped, the pace of the book sped up and the resolution to their problems was striking, shocking, complete, and perfect.  I loved this description:

The knot of ropes that bound Murdo to his father was Gordian in its complexity and subtlety.  Tonight, Murdo had swept a sword through it, disdaining its cleverness.  Severing it with determination and without concern for the consequences.

With one swift stroke, all the pieces fell into place, and if there was sacrifice, it was worth it.  And they rode off into the Scottish highlands to live in peace and happiness.

I still love the cover art for the series, the models were perfect, but I wish they would have incorporated both models onto this final cover.  I thought Murdo deserved at least as much presence as David in this one…

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published April 23rd 2017 by Joanna Chambers Books (first published May 6th 2014)
ASINB071RK71MR
Series Enlightenment #3

A Caryn Review: Beguiled (Enlightenment Series #2) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Don’t you just love it when a sequel is even better than the original?  Provoked may have been a good book, but Beguiled just blew me away.  I can’t wait to read the last installment, so forgive me if this review seems a little rushed!

Those of you who read my reviews know that I am a huge fan of characterization, and falling in love with the characters is what makes me fall in love with a book.  I am so deeply invested in David and Murdo now, that I am already grieving leaving them behind when I finish book three.  Both men were introduced to the reader and to each other in the first book, and there was a subdued type of adventure going on that introduced the city of Edinburg, as well as all of the secondary characters who reappear in Beguiled.  What makes this second book so appealing to me is the deeper delving into the backgrounds and motivations of both men, the beginnings of their awareness of something new and different, and a slow sea change in attitude.  So, the rest of this review will barely touch on plot!

In Provoked, Murdo was presented as a typical aristocrat, blissfully ignoring the plight of the common man, devoted to pursuing pleasure without the sticky moral trappings of 19th century societal expectations.  He didn’t exactly toy with David, but he made it clear in the very beginning that what he and David had was purely physical attraction.  Although he had been able to dally with men in a bit freer fashion than David because of his wealth and status, emotional attachment was not something he wanted or even considered the first few times they met.  Murdo did not feel that same sex activity was immoral, and also found nothing wrong with marrying a woman while continuing to have sex with men.  David had a much more conventional set of principles, so he not only felt sinful by “indulging” in sex with men, but felt there was something perverted about him that he wanted it.  He viewed marriage as a sacred bond before God, so he would not even consider marrying a woman, much less being unfaithful to her with a man.  Although their motives were different, the result they expected was the same:  sex without emotional involvement.

Beguiled occurs two years after the events of Provoked.  In those two years, both David and Murdo found themselves thinking back on their brief time together in ways that surprised them – with a great deal of yearning, and a sense of something important irretrievably lost.  Meeting again was therefore much more emotional on both sides, and the two years apart broke down barriers in both men.  In this book, David’s inner conscience was much less vehement about declaring him a pervert for wanting men, and he was able to see that there was more between them than just lust and physical release.  Murdo was willing to accept that he wanted more from David, and found himself sharing secrets he never intended to as he opened himself.

Against this impassioned background, the historical events and adventure played out with a great deal more meaning than that of Provoked.  I liked how once again ideas such as universal suffrage and rights of women were presented as incredibly radical (it is so good to live in 2017!), and our heroes – who by nature of their homosexuality were already outside the norm – were willing to embrace those notions as well.

The only thing I really didn’t like about the plot was at the end when David did not tell Murdo his plans for the rescue, which didn’t really make sense when in all other ways they had become so trusting of and necessary for each other.  Painting that decision as another of David’s self-sacrificing moments just didn’t sit quite right with me.  Of course, it created a perfect set up for the next book, but I wish the author could have found a way to achieve those ends without David keeping Murdo in the dark.

On to the final book!

Cover art is again superb.  The model’s intense expression and partially shadowed face are perfect for Murdo.  Even the font of the title is ideal for the picture and the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published April 23rd 2017 by Joanna Chambers Books (first published December 24th 2013)
Original TitleBeguiled
ASINB0722GJFD4
SeriesEnlightenment #2

A Caryn Review: Provoked (Enlightenment Series #1) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When this series was re-released by Joanna Chambers, I jumped at the chance to review them.  I read them initially a few years ago, and I remember that I thought this first book was only OK, although I ended up absolutely loving the rest of the series.  Rereading it, and knowing some of what was coming next, made me notice all of the ways the rest of the story arc was being set up in this book, that was not clear to me the first time around, and I have to say I enjoyed this book so much more for it!

The series starts with Provoked, told from the viewpoint of David Lauriston, in 1820s Edinburg, Scotland.  David is an advocate, a lawyer who deals with court cases, and at the beginning of the book he had just defended two men who were convicted of treason, hanged, and beheaded.  The case touched him deeply, as in its most basic form it represented the class struggle that was spreading widely throughout Britain during the Industrial Revolution.  David was the son of a farmer, and he and his family worked and sacrificed so that he could become educated as an advocate – though he could speak and act as a member of the middle class, he identified with the lower class.  Although the conviction for treason was almost a foregone conclusion, it was clear that the men were incited and betrayed by an agent provocateur – who got away scot free.

While David was working on getting drunk the night of the hangings, he met Murdo Balfour.  There was an instant physical attraction between the two men, and although David had consistently tried to deny that part of himself that wanted other men, he gave in because he needed the escape, and both men knew they wouldn’t meet again.  David was a little surprised to find Balfour giving him a  tenderness and connection that he had never encountered with a man before, and for the first time he felt regret upon walking away.

Weeks later, David was approached by Euan MacLennan, a man whose brother had also been involved in the case of treason, although his sentence was transport to the prison colonies in Australia rather than hanging.  Euan was determined to find Robert Lees, the agent provocateur he felt was responsible for leading the entire group of weavers into treason, and had a lead that brought him to Edinburg, but he needed David’s assistance to follow it.  David was absolutely opposed to revenge, but he felt responsible for Euan because he was unable to prevent his brother’s conviction, and he reluctantly agreed to help.

When the clues pointed to Lord Balfour, David was caught between his promise to Euan, and his growing certainty that Murdo was innocent.

This book really hit all of my buttons – the characters were complex, and faced with situations that challenged their beliefs.  The search for Lees really was only a backdrop to highlight the interaction and growing attraction between David and Murdo.  David had a very strict and upright moral code, was honest to a fault, but was generous and had a tendency to take on too much responsibility for all the wrongs he saw in the world.  He felt his attraction to men was not only wrong, but damning, and castigated himself every time he gave into temptation.  He didn’t know how to react to Murdo, who felt no shame at all in being with men, and seemed as helplessly drawn to David as David was to him.  Murdo’s point of view was not presented at all, but his responses and reactions to situations indicated a growing fascination with David and his opposing principles.

So even though I know what is coming – although I’ve forgotten many details – I can’t wait to dive into the next book.  I can’t wait to hear what Murdo thinks, and how the men will come together again!

I could not find who created the cover art, but it was perfect.  Granted, David is a red-head, but this model was ideal both in looks and expression, and is now how I think of him.  This cover is much improved over the previous one!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd edition, 202 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Joanna Chambers (first published July 23rd 2013)
ASIN B071YJ254F
Edition Language English

Retro Review Tour for Enlightenment Series by Joanna Chambers

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Covers by Natasha Snow


Provoked (Enlightenment #1) 

 
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK  (FREE till June 17)
 

David Lauriston is struggling to build his reputation in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. His humble origins are enough of a hurdle, never mind his recent decision to defend a group of weavers accused of treason, prompting speculation that he may harbour radical sympathies. The last thing he should be doing is agreeing to help the brother of one of the convicted weavers find the government agent who caused his brother’s downfall.

David’s personal life is no more successful. Tormented by his forbidden desires for other men, and the painful memories of the childhood friend he once loved, David tries his hardest to live a celibate existence, castigating himself whenever his resolve slips. 

But then—into David’s repressed and orderly world—bursts Lord Murdo Balfour.

Cynical, hedonistic and utterly unapologetic, Murdo could not be less like David. Whilst David refuses to entertain the prospect of entering into a loveless marriage for propriety’s sake, Murdo is determined to wed one day—and has no intention of giving up the company of other men when he does so. But as appalled as David is by Murdo’s unrepentant self-interest, he cannot resist the man’s sway.

Murdo tempts and provokes David in equal measure, distracting him from his promise to find the agent provocateur responsible for the weavers’ fate, and forcing him to acknowledge his physical desires.

But is Murdo more than a mere distraction? 

Is it possible he could be the very man David is looking for?

 


Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 

Two years after his last encounter with cynical nobleman Lord Murdo Balfour, David Lauriston accidentally meets him again in the heart of Edinburgh.

King George IV is about to make his first visit to Edinburgh and Murdo has been sent North by his politician father to represent his aristocratic family at the celebrations.

David and Murdo’s last parting was painful—and on Murdo’s part, bitter—but Murdo’s feelings seem to have mellowed in the intervening years. So much so, that he suggests to David that they enjoy each other’s company during Murdo’s stay in the capital.

Despite his initial reservations, David cannot put Murdo’s proposal from his mind, and soon find himself at Murdo’s door—and in his arms.

But other figures from David’s past are converging on the city, and as the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit unfolds around them, David is drawn into a chain of events that will threaten everything: his career, his wellbeing, and the fragile bond that, despite David’s best intentions, is growing between him and Murdo.

 


Enlightened (Enlightenment #3) 



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

David Lauriston has been recuperating at Lord Murdo Balfour’s Laverock estate for the last five months. At Laverock, he has regained his health and confidence and has found—with Murdo—more happiness and contentment than he has never known before.

David is all too aware that some day soon he will have to leave Laverock—and Murdo—and return to his legal practice in Edinburgh, just as Murdo will have to return to his life in London. But when David’s mentor, Patrick Chalmers, asks David to return to Edinburgh to visit him on his deathbed, it seems that day has come sooner than either David or Murdo would have wished.

Chalmers begs David to undertake one last piece of business for him: to secure the future of Chalmers’s daughter Elizabeth. But to carry out his old mentor’s wishes, David must travel to London, with Murdo.

No sooner have the two men arrived in the capital than they encounter Murdo’s ruthlessly manipulative father, who reveals a shocking secret that rocks David to his foundations. What’s more, when David discovers Elizabeth is facing far greater danger than even her father feared, he is determined to help her, no matter the cost to his own safety.

As the stakes rise, it is Murdo who must choose what he is prepared to sacrifice to keep David at his side, and ask whether there is any possibility of lasting happiness for men like them.

June 13 – Bike Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews
June 15 – Keysmash, The Librarian’s Corner
June 17 – Dog-Eared Daydreams, Padme’s Library
June 19 – Jessie G Books
June 21 – It’s About The Book, Sarandipity, Bayou Book Junkie, My Time Out Book Blog, Gay Book Reviews, Ellie Reads All The Books, My Fiction Nook, Urban Smoothie Read, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, From Top To Bottom Reviews, Boy Meets Boy Reviews

 
Author Bio



Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

 

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Pride Month Continues with Readers Recommended Best Coming Out Stories! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Pride Month Continues with A Winner Announcement

 

June continues and so does Pride Month celebrations!  We have had some wonderful comments and book suggestions for Best Coming Out stories. I’m going to put them all into a list and have them up by the last Sunday this month. Here’s  some of the wonderful comments and recs we’ve had:

Readers Recommended Best Coming Out Stories!

✒︎From H.B.:

“I’ve never been to a Pride event but it sounds like something fun and exciting to support.
My favorite stories that have characters coming out are:
Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain
Ready For Love by Stella Starling
Falling Together by SK (Shelley) Grayson
#gaymers series by Annabeth Albert
Thanks a Lot, John LeClair by Johanna Parkhurst
Patient Eyes by Andy Eisenberg

H.B. has several of my favorites there. Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain and the #gaymers series by Annabeth Albert.  H.B. also has some I’m going to have to look up. Yay!

✒︎From Didi:

“Happy Pride Month to everyone of queer spectrum. A few of coming out titles that stay in my head are Kaje Harper’s Life Lessons, Josh Lanyon’s Death of A Pirate King, also John Goode’s Tales from Foster High. On the first two titles the coming out might not be the main issue of the story, but it’s something that affected the character deeply and overall emotionally engaging to me.”

Didi hit all 3 of mine, including a favorite Josh Lanyon series!

✒︎Purple Reader came through with a book I haven’t read either (so my list grows). Here’s what he has to say:

“DC is one of my fav cities for a couple special reasons. I’m not from there, but on a trip 15 yrs ago that’s where I came out (so you could say that’s my fav coming out story :-); and on another trip that’s where I proposed to my husband. Oh my, a fav novel about coming out? So many, and as always I like to go for beyond the norm. So one fav is “Mysterious Skin.” With its coming of age there’s self-awareness/coming out to oneself as well as others, and it deals with tough issues, but that it all the more poignant.”

That’s Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim.  I’ve got a GR link included.

✒︎Suze294 also chimed in with an all time favorite of mine Sean Kennedy.

Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy! One day I plan to get to a Pride event – probably Manchester or Liverpool as closest”

✒︎Ardent Reader surprised me with one of the first m/m books I ever read on her lists (non fan fiction that is).  Here is Ardent Reader’s list:

“A few of my favorite stories that have coming themes are: My Summer of Wes– Missy Welsh, Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, The Catch Trap-Marion Zimmer Bradley

Because of the great response, we are going to pick 2 winners this week!  They are Ardent EReader and waxapplelover!  Congratulations!  You both win a $10 Dreamspinner gift certificate.  Stella will be in touch with you both shortly.  The rest of the comments, recommendations and full list will be up next Sunday.

Now for this week’s giveaway to finish up Pride Month!

 

Pride Father’s Day Celebration Giveaway!

Give us your best suggestions for books involving LGBTQIA families or LGBT people with children stories.  I just finished last week’s wonderful Accepting The Fall by Meg Harding, with firefighter Zander Brooks learning to cope with fatherhood as the parent of a bright, frightened 5 year old.  Terrific story.  And Dragon Home by Mell Eight with William, the foster parent of two growing dragons kits (a whole different set of parenting skills required there).  But I know there are soooo many out there!  Let’s start a list!

So for Father’s Day, what books melted your heart?  That had children, maybe puppies or kittens or both?  Amy Lane’s Promises series just jumps to my mind.  What comes into yours?  Ones that break your heart and then puts them back together again.  Stories you never forget because your heart won’t let them go….

Tell me which ones you love and let’s share our favorites.  A random reader who leaves a comment or readers (you never know here) will receive a $10 gift certificate.  Dreamspinner Press or Amazon, your choice.    Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Happy Pride Month.   Giveaway ends midnight June 30th.  Winners announced July 1st.

 

 

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 18:

  • Pride Month Continues with Readers Recommended Best Coming Out Stories!
    Winner Announcement.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 19:

  • Release Day Blitz for Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes by Kevin Klehr
  • Review Tour: The Great North (A Legendary Love Book 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • Release Blitz & Review Tour – Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path #2) by Amy Tasukada
  • A Stella Release Day Review:  Love Wanted by John Inman
  • A MelanieM Release Week Review: The Great North (A Legendary Love Book 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A MelanieM Review: Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path #2) by Amy Tasukada
  • An Alisa Review: Chasing His Cottontail (Hoppity Shifter #1) by A.R. Barley

Tuesday, June 20:

  • In the Spotlight: Chief’s Mess (Anchor Point #3) by L.A. Witt (Riptide Publishing Tour & Giveaway)
  • Blog Tour for Sum of the Whole by Brenda Murphy
  • A MelanieM Review: The Monet Murders (The Art of Murder #2) by Josh Lanyon
  • A VVivacious Review:  Reckless Passion (Reckless #3) by Amanda Young
  • AN Alisa Review:  Romancing the Bouncer by J.D. Walker
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: The Deep of the Sound (Bluewater Bay #8) by Amy Lane and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

Wednesday, June 21:

  • Review Tour for Enlightenment Series by Joanna Chambers
  • Blog Tour for Strong Enough by Melanie Harlow & David Romanov
  • Blog Tour for Queer Magick by L.C. Davis
  • A Caryn Review: Beguiled  (Enlightenment Series #2) by Joanna Chambers
  • A Caryn Review: Provoked (Enlightenment Series #1) by Joanna Chambers
  • A Caryn Review: Enlightened  (Enlightenment Series #3) by Joanna Chambers
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Patron by C.B. Lewis

Thursday, June 22:

  • DSP guest blog SA Stovall on Vice City
  • Release Day Blitz for A Way with Words by Lane Hayes
  • DSP GUEST POST Sean Michael on The Dom’s Way
  • A MelanieM Review: Fair Chance (All’s Fair #3) by Josh Lanyon
  • A VVivacious Review: Sex in C Major by  Matthew J. Metzger
  • An Alisa Review: Forest of Thorns and Claws by JT Hall
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: The Interborough (A Five Boroughs Story) by Santino Hassell and Michael Ferraiuolo (Narrator)

Friday, June 23:

  • Blog Tour for  Kevin Corrigan and Me by Jeré M. Fishback
  • Release Blitz for RJ Scott’s Kingdom Series Vol 2
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Kind of Home (A Kind of Stories #4) by Lane Hayes
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: The Dom’s Way (Iron Eagle Gym #5) by Sean Michael
  • A MelanieM Review:Kingdom Series Vol 1 by RJ Scott
  • A MelanieM Review: Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon
  • An Ali Review: Mai Tais and Murder by J.C.Long

Saturday, June 24:

  • Release Blitz  for  Scrap (The Bristol Collection #3) by Josephine Myles
  • A MelanieM Review: Scrap (The Bristol Collection #3) by Josephine Myles

 

 

 

 

Selina Kray on the Historical Background for ‘Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo’ (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Selina Kray on her Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo tour. Welcome, Selina!

Hi, romance lovers! I’m Selina Kray, and this is the latest stop on the Stoker & Bash blog tour. A huge thank you to the lovely people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today. I thought I’d talk a little bit about some of the historical details in Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, in which burlesque isn’t really burlesque.

Say the word “burlesque” nowadays, and your mind conjures images of Dita von Teese in a giant champagne glass; sparkly, barely there outfits capped by a giant feather boa; or the camp-tastic film with Cher and Christina Aguilera. Erotic dance as reclaimed by fierce feminists unafraid of expressing their sexuality.

But back in the Victorian era, burlesque titillated both your body and your mind. It started as a way for working class audiences to poke some fun at the classics of theatre, opera, and ballet. The plays of Shakespeare, for instance, would be:

“…adapted into a broad comic play, usually a musical play, usually risqué in style, mocking the theatrical and musical conventions and styles of the original work, and often quoting or pastiching text or music from the original work.” (source: Wikipedia: Victorian Burlesque)

The actors would sing or speak in rhyming couplets, rife with bad puns, and the action of these parodies would often be set to the popular music of the time. Gender-swapping some of the characters was the norm. One of the most popular burlesque performers, Nellie Farren, starred as The Gaiety Theatre’s “principal boy” for over 20 years.

Eventually, theatres combined burlesques with more standard music hall fare, such as singers, comics, skits, dramatic monologues, and dances, into evening-long extravaganzas. The idea was not only to mock the haughty airs and impenetrable verses of classic plays and operas, but to dull some of the sharp-edged plot points of the tragedies. With names like The Bohemian G-yurl & the Unapproachable Pole and Cinder Ellen Up Too Late, you get the sense that audiences and performers alike had a wild, bawdy good time.

In Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, one of my characters is a burlesque performer at The Gaiety Theatre, which specialized in burlesque for 30 years. While I did research what parody was playing in that theatre in October 1873—only to be disappointed when I found out it was based on an opera—I decided to make up my own.

A performance of Robbing Hood and his Mercenary Men sets the stage for one of the most important encounters between the novel’s two leads, Tim and Hiero, and is the background for a lot of the action. So in addition to transporting you back to the Victorian era, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo will also take you to the punny wilds of “Sure Would” Forest.

 
Length: 100,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.


When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?


And just who is Hieronymus Bash?

 

 

Author Bio
 

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.


Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.


If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net

 

 

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A Free Dreamer Review: Seidman by James Erich

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In Viking Age Iceland, where boys are expected to grow into strong farmers and skilled warriors, there is little place for a sickly twelve-year-old boy like Kol until he catches the eye of a seið-woman—a sorceress—and becomes her apprentice. Kol travels to the sorceress’s home, where her grandson, Thorbrand, takes Kol under his wing. Before long Kol discovers something else about himself that is different—something else that sets him apart as unmanly: Kol has fallen in love with another boy.

But the world is changing in ways that threaten those who practice the ancient arts. As Kol’s new life takes him across the Norse lands, he finds that a new religion is sweeping through them, and King Olaf Tryggvason is hunting down and executing sorcerers. When a decades-old feud forces Thorbrand to choose between Kol and his duty to his kinsman, Kol finds himself cast adrift with only the cryptic messages of an ancient goddess to guide him to his destiny—and possibly to his death.

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient mythology, and when I discovered this book about Iceland Viking mythology, I just couldn’t resist. And I’m glad I didn’t, because “Seidman” was utterly brilliant.

There are plenty of books out there that feature ancient mythology in some way or another. But most of the time, it’s Greece or Roman mythology. Other myths are much rarer and I don’t think I’ve come across a book with a similar setting to “Seidman” before. I’m not overly familiar with Viking mythology, I just know the bare basics, but that was enough to understand what was going on here. Unfamiliar terms were explained and the glossary at the beginning was a huge help as well. I loved that the author actually included a bit about how to pronounce the language. I’m a bit obsessed with foreign languages and it always bothers me immensely when I have absolutely no clue how to pronounce words. So the bonus points started adding up before the actual story even began.

James Erich created a very intricate world, that felt extremely realistic, seemingly without any effort. The world building was brilliantly done. It all just fell into place, without any need for lengthy explanations or boing info dumps.

I liked Kol from the beginning. He’s really sweet and charming at the beginning and it was interesting to watch him grow up and change. The love story between him and Thorbrand was low key and yet obvious from the very beginning. It felt inevitable, really. But in a good way. The two of them were just meant to be. When they had to seperate, it broke my heart.

I liked that the author didn’t just skip over any homophobia. It’s just the way it was, back then. Glossing over uncomfortable topics makes a story unrealistic. I’m glad the author chose to address all the issues Kol and especially Thorbrand would have had to face. I loved the book all the more for how realistic it was.

The ending was perfect for the story. It was in tone with the rest of it. A bit sad, but ultimately it left me happy.

Overall, I really enjoyed “Seidman”. I think it’s a wonderful Young Adult story, also suitable for a bit younger readers. I’d recommend it for ages 13 and up. If you have a thing for Vikings and mythology and don’t need it to be overly bloody, then go for this book. It was brilliant and probably won’t be my last by the author. I wish there were more books about this topic!

Cover: The cover is simple but fits the story. I like it.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 210 pages

Published May 31st 2012 by Harmony Ink

Honorable Mention: Best Gay Debut Novel/Book

Honorable Mention: Best LGBT Young Adult / Coming of Age

A Caryn Review: To Love a Traitor by JL Merrow

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book is a great examples of why I love historicals.  Clearly this was well-researched, with no irritating anachronisms, and I felt like I was right there in inter-war England.  The language is so very appropriate – not only the dialogue, but the somewhat formal prose as well.  The attitudes towards women who had only recently been granted the right to vote, the general feeling of the public about the aftermath of the war and how veterans were regarded, the frequent references to the Spanish flu that ended up killing over a quarter of a million people in the UK – so many authentic details!  It was easy to completely immerse myself in the era, and in the story.  I’ve read several of Ms. Merrow’s contemporaries, and I really enjoyed them, and I feel doing such an excellent job at a historical just showcases her versatility as an author

The story is told from the point of view of Roger Cottingham.  He was a conscientious objector – “conchie” – who was imprisoned for a year at the beginning of the war and then went to work as a cryptographer in the Admiralty.  While there, his brother Hugh was killed on the front lines.  Hugh’s fiancée, Mabel, started hearing rumors after the Armistice that Hugh’s death might have been the result of treason, and Roger vowed to help her find the man/men responsible, and bring them to justice.

Enlisting the help of an old friend from the intelligence section of the Admiralty, Roger finds suspicious circumstances surrounding another officer in Hugh’s regiment, Captain Matthew Connaught.  Roger’s friend can investigate no further, but he did encourage Roger to do a little spying of his own, and set him up with the perfect cover:  George Johnson, who rented a room in the same house Matthew lived in.

Matthew actually was a rather simple character.  He is a veteran who lost his right arm, but managed to maintain a cheerful and optimistic attitude in spite of that.  He just exudes friendliness and integrity, and Roger can’t help but like and admire him – but what does this mean when he is supposed to be spying on Matthew and finding out his wartime secrets?  I loved the struggle Roger/George had trying to reconcile what he instinctively knew to be true – Matthew is a decent man who would never have betrayed his fellow brother-in-arms – with his desire to find out what really happened to Hugh when Matthew was the only clue he had.  Roger’s struggle only intensified when he realized that not only was Matthew also an invert (homosexual), but that they were attracted to each other.  Roger was also fundamentally an honest, forgiving, and peace-loving man, uncomfortable with the duplicity he had to maintain to continue his undercover role, and he spent a good part of the book grappling with those feelings.

The book is primarily character driven, rather than plot driven.  When the mystery was finally revealed, it really wasn’t a surprise to anyone – the characters or the reader.  Learning the different facets of Roger and Matthew as they traveled this journey towards a relationship was my whole enjoyment of the book.  The period details just made it all even better.  The only thing I didn’t like was that Matthew was a little too one-dimensional, but Roger almost made up for that.

Just for fun, check out this really interesting little tidbit of history that was briefly referenced in the book:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_feather.  I love learning new things when reading fiction!

The expression of the model used for the cover art by Written Ink Designs was just about perfect for how I imagined Roger would feel.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published May 6th 2017 by JMS Books LLC (first published September 15th 2015)
ASINB06Y646324

June is LGBTQIA Pride Month! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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June is LGBTQIA Pride Month!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is celebrating Pride Month! 

Its no surprise that Trump broke with Obama’s tradition of designating June as ‘LGBT Pride Month! But the majority of organizations, groups and government agencies recognize it as such!

Writer Peter LaBarbera in his article on Pride Month writes ” As LifeSiteNews reported last week, the U.S. Army Surgeon General and Commanding General of the Army Medical Command, Lt. Gen. Nadja West, issued an “LGBT Pride Month” statement.

Earlier, the State Department posted a pro-homosexual “pride” essay on its website, and U.S. Embassy in Macedonia flew the homosexual-activist “rainbow flag” beneath Old Glory to celebrate an annual LGBTQ activist day. (Under Obama, American Embassies from Spain to Israel repeatedly flew the homosexuality-celebrating flag abroad in this manner.)”

Our support for the LGBTQIA community has never been needed more.  Get involved, march, show support! There’s so many ways in which to do this!

From Equality Now to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, to all the wonderful Pride Parades soon to come, let’s celebrate the right to love who you want, be who you want with equal rights and respect you are due.  Happy Pride Month!

Pride Month Giveaway #1 – Coming Out Stories

To start off our Pride Month Celebration, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is having a Coming Out Giveaway.  Enter to win a $10 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press by naming your favorite coming out story!  Author and title please.  A winner will be chosen at random on Saturday, June 17th (that’s 2 weeks). You need to leave your email address where you can be reached if chosen.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 4:

  • Blog Tour – Unexpected Powers by Chris McHart
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno C and Charlie David (Narrator)
  • A Free Dreamer Review Seidman by James Erich
  • June is LGBTQIA Pride Month! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 5:

  • Blog Tour Waiting for You by Megan Derr
  • Release Blitz IT COULD HAPPEN by Mia Kerick
  • Release Day Blitz Painting Class by Suzanne Clay
  • Review Tour Request & Giveaway: RJ Scott’s Back Home
  • A Kai Release Day Review: It Could Happen by Mia Kerick
  • A Melanie M Review: Back Home by RJ Scott
  • A Stella Review: Tradeoff by Susan Laine
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford

Tuesday, June 6:

  • Katey Hawthorne Release Day Blog for THE TAKEDOWN (Superpowered Love #8)
  • Release Blitz – Something Like The Real Thing (Sing Out #4) by Hanna Dare
  • RIPTIDE TOUR & Giveaway: Broke Deep by Charlie Cochrane
  • A MelanieM Review: Junk (Bristol Collection #1) by Josephine Myles
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: THE TAKEDOWN (Superpowered Love #8) by Katey Hawthorne
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: A Kind of Honesty (A Kind of Stories #3) by Lane Hayes and Seth Clayton (Narrator)

Wednesday, June 7:

  • Cover & Blurb Reveal – Changing Lines by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • DSP GUEST POST Julia Talbot
  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: Action by Quinn Anderson
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Perfect Alignment (Thorne and Dash #3) by Silvia Violet
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Sunset at Pencarrow (World of Love) by Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell
  • An Ali Review: Action (Murmur Inc. #2) by Quinn Anderson
  • An Alisa Review: Human Instincts (Roguefalls #1) by April Kelley

Thursday, June 8:

  • DSP GUEST POST Jamie Samms
  • Release Blitz – Accepting The Fall by Meg Harding
  • DSP GUEST POST Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell on Sunset at Pencarrow
  • A Caryn Review: To Love a Traitor by JL Merrow
  • A Kai Review: Conning Colin: A Gay Romantic Comedy by Elsa Winters & Brad Vance
  • A MelanieM Recent Release Review: The Wounded Warrior (Rocking W #1) by B.A. Tortuga
  • An Alisa Review: My Highland Cowboy by Alexa Milne

Friday, June 9:

  • DSP GUEST POST Susan Laine on Tradeoff
  • INTERLUDE PRESS TOUR Grrrls on the Side by Carrie Pack
  • Release Blitz for Spring Break by Elle Keaton
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Road To The Sun by Keira Andrews
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Growing His Dream by Andrew Grey
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Draakenwood (Whyborne & Griffin #9) by Jordan L. Hawk
  • An Alessandro Audiobook Review: As You Wish (Shatterproof Bond #1) by Isobel Starling and Gary Furlong (Narrator)

Saturday, June 10:

  • Release Blitz for Stuff (The Bristol Collection #2) Josephine Myles
  • Release Blitz for  Summer Heat by Jay Northcote
  • A MelanieM Review: Stuff (The Bristol Collection #2) by Josephine Myles
  • A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Dragon Adventure (Supernatural Consultant #5.1) by Mell Eight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its Release Day Blitz for ‘The Ties that Bind’ by S. Davidson (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Ties that Bind
Author: S. Davidson
Genre: M/M Fiction
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Cover Art: Rue Volley
Editor: CSL Editing Service
Publisher: Encompass Ink Publishing

Flashback 1990’s – Rollerblades, bungee jumping, the laptop, cellular phones the size of bricks, and AIDS – the gay men’s cancer

This is a story about love, friendship, and family. It is a story about growing up, about trying to change the past and the realization that no matter how fast, or how far we run, that The Ties That Bind us as children, many times come back to haunt us as adults.
We become part of the life of a young counselor, Morgan, who specializes working with homeless, male hustlers. He seems like an angel from heaven to many. He cares deeply for every one of his boys and would literally die to save them from harm. He deprives himself of life’s basic needs in order to reach just one more, but why?Morgan has his own agenda to work out, his own demons to exorcise. While avoiding his own past, he meets a particular young man, Greg, who is able to see through this well-crafted, public image. Greg sees Morgan’s pain and denial. It is in this discovery, this role reversal that Greg, a life-long hustler begins to heal himself. He helps Morgan come to terms with his own violent past. Greg becomes his strength, the knife to cut the rope and release the guilt Morgan has denied for years. Just as they both begin to heal, Greg discovers the truth.The Ties That Bind can sometimes be very restricting but many times we find that The Ties That Bind can also provide our strength.

The Ties That Bind are necessary for the sustenance of life.


A badly warped, archaic recording came on of some disco group of the forgotten past. Slowly, the black shield lifted in front of the room, revealing an oiled up young man, ready to dance. The boy was grinding and gyrating his hips with the best of them when the shade reached the top and he saw who was on the other side.

 

“Hey, Morgan,” he said, stopping his dance.
“Hi, Zack. You’re looking pretty good,” he said.
“I’m sorry.” He began dancing again.
“Stop.” Morgan laughed, thinking it funny that this boy would actually think Morgan was a customer. “I didn’t come for the show. I came to see how you were doing. You disappeared on me.” Morgan popped another quarter in the slot.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Julio glared at Greg. Greg was gritting his teeth, hoping Tomi wouldn’t notice the grip on his upper arm. He knew she would kill Julio.

 

“You do give lunch breaks, don’t you?” Tomi taunted.

 

“Only when he’s the lunch.”

 


Shelly always had a goal to get a book in print. Well, that goal has been met. Another coming June 1, 2017, and one more still in the works. Always finding writing to be a way to escape into another world, M/M fiction is her passion and causing her beautiful boys a bit of agony is just what she does. None of her characters are flawless and most are pretty damn messed up! But they always persist, always try to be the best men they can be and hopefully find a kindred spirit along the way.

Shelly is a mother, grandmother, and has a Bachelor’s in Social Services. Come on over to her Facebook page for current and upcoming release info. While she doesn’t post about what she’s having for dinner or what movie she’s watching, she will give you info on her writing when there is news to share. Just remember, no matter who you are or what beliefs you practice, love is love and we all deserve to love.

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