A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

In my opinion, this is the best of the Mannies series and one of my favorite Amy Lane stories.  As the author states in her promo, her work is divided into three flavors: alt universe, angst, and sunshine-yellow happy.  Well, color this one bright sunshine because it was one of those stories that grabbed me from the first chapter and pulled me through to the end when the very clueless Quinlan Gregory realizes just how very loveable and needed he is.

Quinlan was kicked out by his wealthy parents when he announced he was gay.  He had a feeling it would happen, so he had all his worldly goods packed and all his finances in order. In fact, the moment he left the house he changed all his passwords so his family couldn’t access his accounts or his trust fund.  Good thing too, because years later he found out they’d tried to access them immediately.

Quinlan is Sammy’s college friend and fellow musician, so naturally, kind-hearted Sammy sees being a manny for his aunt’s brood is the perfect job for Quin, and the timing is perfect since Taylor is getting married and leaving the position. Though he knows nothing about being a manny, he really wants to be a part of the world of this close-knit family—a world so far from the cold, lonely life he left behind. When he spots Dusty, the oldest, and boldest, of the kids, acting out and assuming the role of family troublemaker—Quin realizes he can definitely make a positive contribution to the Robbins-Grayson’s lives.

Time passes, and as Quin and Dusty become friends, Dusty bides his time to reach his goal of making Quinlan see him as an adult, an equal, and a mature responsible lover. There aren’t more than six years between them, but Dusty knows he’ll need to be in his twenties before he can actively pursue the man of his dreams.  So by the time he’s twenty-one, he starts to make his move, and though it takes more than one attempt, he’s finally in a position to help the kind, caring man when Quin comes home from summer band tour with a bad virus and virtually falls into Dusty’s open arms.

What follows is a courtship that made my heart melt. Dusty is the perfect mate for Quin and he sets out to prove it as Quin receives news his father has died and his mother is again attempting to access Quin’s money.

The most outstanding feature of this story is the character development and family interactions. These are real people in a large, happy family composed of those both born into, and folded into, their collective arms. Dusty’s character was a surprise on the one hand, but knowing his parents, it shouldn’t have been. He’s very much like his father in temperament and he’s goal-driven like his mother with an attitude that proves good things come to those who wait.

I laughed and I cried with Quin and Dusty, and I wallowed in the pure enjoyment of seeing where Channing and Tino are in their relationship, as well as where Sammy and Cooper are in theirs. Quin’s reaction to Sammy’s good news was spot-on and showed just what a wonderful friend and caring character he is.  There’s so much to this story, it’s hard to pick a favorite segment, and conversely, it’s almost impossible to pick something I didn’t like—other than the evil, cold-hearted woman who birthed Quin, of course. And to be honest, to make the story work, she needed to be exactly the way she was.

I wouldn’t recommend this book as a standalone, purely because of the interactions with the other characters in the series, but I would highly recommend it to those who’ve read the others, especially books one and three.  And to those who haven’t read them—start from the beginning and enjoy this whole series. It’s so worth it.

The cover by Bree Archer, in typical Dreampun Desires style, features a handsome young man, likely Dusty, set against a dark purple background.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages
Expected publication: July 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleA Fool and His Manny
ISBN139781640805040
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Mannies #4

 

A MelanieM Review:The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.

When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.

The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.

I just love The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara.  It’s a first for me by this author.  I picked it up because I was intrigued by the cover and the description.  At the time I had no idea it was part of a series.  I had to find that out once I went scrabbling for more information at Goodreads for information about the author and found that there was a story that preceded this one.  Too late, I was already heavily involved with Cooper Dayton, Oliver Park, and Cooper’s visit home.

I’ll tell you immediately Adhara’s characterizations are amazing.  Layered, complex, and highly interesting people/beings emerge immediately from the story.  I didn’t have to read the first novel to get into the stress filled  relationship and shaky dynamics that is the partnership, personal and professional, between Cooper and Oliver.  It’s like being close to quiet lightning. it crackles and you don’t want to look away from the energy.

They are struggling to figure out how to emerge from what was clearly a disastrous event.  Cooper’s ex partner and his unwitting involvement  in his corrupt affairs.  Yes, this will send me running back to that first story but I didn’t feel I needed it to read this book.  I got enough information to feel satisfied that I had sufficient groundwork here to go on.

A call from Cooper’s family and  an invitation from Cooper for Oliver to accompany him seems like a good idea until a body is found under the gazebo in his family’s backyard.

How Adhara builds this case, all the emotions, the labyrinthine path filled with clues, old personal history, memories both good and bad is incredible.  The author builds it around Cooper’s family, his memories of his childhood, and his tenuous connections to his father in present time.  All the while as he and Oliver try to figure out where they stand with each other.  And keep Oliver’s identity as a werewolf from the family.  I did say that, didn’t I?

I’m so in love with this author and story.  I  need the next book in the series to arrive.  I guess the first story will have to do until then.

Love shifters?  Murder mysteries?  And romances?  Why not combine all three?  Pick up one beautifully written story with outstanding characters and a romance you will go crazy over in The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Cover art is simply and relevant from a scene in the story.  Love it.

Sales Links | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 249 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2018 by Carina Press
ISBN139781488089367
SeriesBig Bad Wolf #2

An Alisa Review: The Dragon’s Thief by Riza Curtis

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Chester. Magpie shifter, renowned thief.

Chester knows better than to get involved when a dragon requests his services. Anyone who steals from a dragon’s hoard is not to be screwed with. There’s something alluring about Michal though, and Chester’s always loved playing with fire…

Michal. Dragon shifter, first-born son.

Michal knows exactly who’s taken the centrepiece of his hoard—his estranged brother. The one person he can’t touch thanks to family politics. It seems simple enough to hire the little magpie shifter to retrieve what is his. But, Chester is nothing like Michal expected, and in the end he might need to decide whether the last piece of his mother is worth more than the man who could own his heart.

This was a nice story.  Michal wants the piece of his hoard back but it becomes less and less important as he starts to get to know Chester.  Chester wants to get Michal his piece back but ends up giving Michal so much more.

Chester has never really had any close connections to people and the two he is closest to he hardly ever sees and they have a parental connection.  Getting mixed up with Michal throws him for a loop but I loved watching him see that there is a chance for him to be happy.  I really like seeing Michal find something more important that his hoard, which is a common problem with dragons.  The story wasn’t very deep but I thought it was really enjoyable.

The cover art by Riza Curtis is great, I love it.

Sales Link:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 65 pages

Published: July 6, 2018 by Riza Curtis

Edition Language: English

A Lucy Audiobook Review: Hearts and Flour By Tara Lain/ Ry Forest (narrator), Stephen Kurpis (narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

In a word, I thought this story was adorable. Micah is a raw vegan food evangelist who owns a vegan cafe, making up for a childhood of poisoning (alcohol) that finally killed his mother. He is rabid about all things healthy and wants his customers to take it as seriously as he does. He gets upset when they “mostly” follow healthy guidelines.  To top it all off,  he goes home early and finds the cheating, pathetic loser he calls his boyfriend having sex in their bed with someone else. Very classy guy, who is then shocked that Micah is kicking him out.  Dharmaram is such a user it is ridiculous.  But poor Micah.  “And here he sat.  Alone.  Dharmaram didn’t want him.  His customers didn’t want him.”

When he begins to realize even his most loyal customers may be following some of his advice but certainly not all of it (as evidenced by the giant cupcakes he keeps catching them eating), its demoralizing for him. He decides to attend his friend Yancy’s anti-Valentine’s Day party (orgy) to get laid and forget the cheater. Here, he meets Queen, who is so pretty in a fire engine red dress that Micah first thinks he is a woman, and hot sex ensues. Queen is very reticent about meeting up again but Micah can’t forget him. When he calls Queen, they go out again and sparks again fly.

It is when Micah realizes who Queen really is, i.e. Quentin the evil cupcake baker, that the problem starts.  Despite the obvious attraction, “So masculine and ladylike at the same time.  So brazenly sexy and so innocent. You turn me on like a Ferrari ignition”, Micah can’t get past the “poison” that Quentin is selling to his customers.  As a vegetarian, even I was thinking “Micah, calm down!” but poor baby, he had a rough week.

There is more drama with Dharmaram, who really just is a piece of work.  There is Queen’s lovely Southern grandmother, Mary Beth, who is gentile and the typical Southern lady.  Or is she? The love she has for Quentin and he for her is so wonderful.

There is quite a bit of sex for the length of the book and the rest really is fluffy and cute. I did want to get to read Micah having an orgy of cupcakes (SUGAR cupcakes) but that will have to wait. I am positive he will succumb to Charismatic Cupcakes sooner or later. Recommended for a light, quirky read.

Interestingly enough, there are two narrators, Ry Forest and Stephen Kurpis, but I would have sworn it was all the same person.  I was a little worried at first because the voice seemed melodramatic but as the book progressed the voices fit.  Quentin is given that South Carolina drawl, sexy as hell.

Cover art by Amanda Kelsey shows Micah holding a fluffy pink cupcake and I felt that was a great fit to the book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible |

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published June 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published January 30th 2013)
Original TitleHearts and Flour
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingCalifornia (United States)
Laguna Beach, California (United States)

Release Blitz – Thief Of Hearts by Ruby Moone (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 72,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

It’s 1806 and aristocratic, bastard born jewel thief, David Lambert has few rules in his life. Never bed the staff, never bed a man more than once, and never kiss. In the space of one weekend, all his rules are shattered by a stunning, violet eyed footman with a secret.


Jeremy Naylor thought he had found the man of his dreams. Thought he had found the one person that might, just might, understand him. But in one shocking moment his dreams are destroyed, and he is forced to run for his life.


When Jeremy is flung into Newgate for a crime David committed, it’s a race against time to get him free and David is forced to face up to his past, his family, and accept that he might have a future if he has the courage to fight for it.

 
Excerpt
 

David hammered on the door of Charnley’s Grosvenor Street mansion and, finding the door unlocked, let himself in. He strode through the hallway, boot heels ringing on the marble floor, and was met by a flurry of agitated staff.


“Get me Charnley. Now.”


The butler emerged and addressed him in condescending tones, but David brushed him aside. “Where is he? Study?” he stalked across the hallway and headed for the study door with the staff flapping behind him. He threw open the door, but there was no-one inside.


“Charnley!” he bellowed. “Get out here now.”


The flurry of footmen was swiftly replaced by burly, determined looking grooms, so David pulled out a brace of pistols from the back of his breeches and aimed them.


“Hold it right there,” he said, and the men stopped. “I have no quarrel with you, but I will see Charnley. Anyone who tries to stop me will be shot. Those of you who know me know I will do it.” He raised the pistols and waited. No-one moved.


“So, where is he?”


“What in God’s name is going on?” Charnley appeared, leaning over the gallery balcony, then running lightly down the stairs wearing only his shirt sleeves and waistcoat. “Lambert, why are you causing ructions in my home? For God’s sake, man, put the pistols down.”


“First, call off your lap dogs.”


With a flick of a hand, the staff were dismissed, but David held onto the pistols. “Shall we?” he asked, nodding towards the study. He slammed the door shut behind them with his boot.


“Get him out. Whatever you want from me is yours, just get him out.”


Charnley frowned. “What the hell are you talking about?”


David stalked across the room, gun in hand and put the muzzle against Charnley’s chest. “You have until the count of three to tell me you will get him out. If you do not, I will shoot you and get him out myself.”


Charnley staggered back and held up both hands. “What … who are you talking about? Get who out of where?”


“One.”


“Lambert, I do not know what…”


“Two.”


“God… man will you … Oh Christ. Not Naylor?” A look of genuine shock on Charnley’s face surprised David.


“Three. Yes.” He pushed against Charnley’s chest.


“Yes, yes… of course I will help. Just put the fucking gun down.”


David lowered the pistol slowly, and Charnley backed away, one hand going to his throat. Sweat stood out on his brow.


“Get your coat, get down to Newgate, and undo whatever lies you told to put him in there. Now.”


Charnley lifted both hands. He was a little taller than David, and heavier having a few years on him, but he was treating him with a healthy respect. “Now, listen to me.”


“I’m listening. Get your coat.”


“David, I will do everything in my power to get Naylor out, but we have a serious problem here.”


“Which is?”


“He is not there because of anything that I did. I did not order his arrest.”

My name is Ruby Moone and I love books. All kinds of books. My weakness is for romance, and that can be any kind, but I am particularly fond of historical and paranormal. I decided to write gay romance after reading some fantastic books and falling in love with the genre, so am really thrilled to have my work published here. The day job takes up a lot of my time, but every other spare moment finds me writing or reading. I live in the north west of England with my husband who thinks that I live in two worlds. The real world and in the world in my head…he probably has a point!


Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/RubyMoone/?ref=bookmarks
Twitter – @RubyMooneWriter
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rubymoone/

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Book Blast for Drive Shaft by Geoffrey Knight (excerpt and giveaway)

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DRIVE SHAFT

GEOFFREY KNIGHT

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 06.11.18

 

AMAZON US:  https://amzn.to/2Jmj9H6

AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2JlvjQH

BLURB

Jensen Rivers wasn’t looking for trouble. As the new kid on the block at Clyde’s Body Shop, all Jensen wanted was a job, a place where he could put his head down and ass up.

But Dean ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson plans on getting more than just Jensen’s hands dirty. Reckless and arrogant, drenched in sweat and dripping with a masculinity that cannot be tamed, Hutch is determined to claim victory over his new work colleague – both physically and sexually.

Will Jensen risk everything to find the love trapped behind Hutch’s fearless façade? Will Hutch bury the secret tragedy of his past before he throws away his last chance at a future? Will the dangers that confront them both be enough to tear them apart… or bring them together forever?

** This novel combines two sequential novellas previously published separately, titled Drive Shaft and Drive Shaft: Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

 

EXCERPT

Jensen’s chest was smooth and brown, his back broad and wet with perspiration by the time he’d removed the Maverick’s radiator and replaced it with the new one. His blond hair had turned to mud-honey with sweat while he took down the leaning tower of tires and built a new, sturdier tower out back. Every now and then Hutch would roll out from under the car he was working on and pretend to look for a different tool, just to steal a glance at Jensen as he lugged the tires with his bare hands, sometimes three or four at a time, his biceps shining, veins straining.

When Jensen didn’t return after the last trip out back, Hutch got suspicious.

Outside, Jensen’s wide glistening shoulders drank up the hot sun. His right shoulder caught a bright flash of sunlight as he flung the last tire on top of the solid stack he’d made. He wiped the sweat from his brow with his forearm and left a murky streak, then something else in the yard caught his eye.

Over by the side of the auto shop, sitting on a second driveway behind an old pick-up truck, was a car.

Correction, it was a car concealed beneath a snug-fitting tailor-made car cover.

Jensen’s curiosity got the better of him and he wandered over. He squatted by one of the front tires, only able to see the bottom half of its gleaming black surface and sparkling alloys. Jensen smiled approvingly without even knowing it and murmured to himself, “Michelin Pilot Sport 2. Nice.”

The Michelin instantly gave him a pretty damn good idea what was under the cover and he couldn’t wait to see the rest.

He unfastened the clips on the front driver’s side and began to unveil the beauty beneath, getting the briefest glimpse of royal blue before—

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Jensen let go of the cover. It parachuted back down over the hood of the car as he spun about to see Hutch glaring at him, coveralls still hitched low, leaving plenty of room for his scuffed hands to grip his hips, fingers hooked on his deep-etched obliques. And that tuft of pubic hair was still visible, just, where his coveralls hung loose and open.

Jensen felt light-headed, maybe it was the heat, but right now he wanted to reach inside those coveralls and lift out whatever was hiding underneath just about as much as he wanted to lift that car cover.

“I was…I couldn’t help myself…I was just kinda curious about what’s…under there.” He didn’t realise he was still looking at Hutch’s crotch.

Hutch followed his gaze down and couldn’t help but smirk. “Are you talking about my car or my cock?”

“The car!” Jensen snapped his gaze straight back up to Hutch, then suddenly realized he couldn’t look the grinning, gorgeous mechanic in the eye and spun about to once again gaze distractedly at the covered car next to him. He blurted nervously, “If I ain’t wrong it’s a fourth generation Dodge Viper coupe. 6-speed transmission. Triple first-gear synchronizers and doubles for the higher gears. Zero to a hundred miles in 7.8 seconds. Clocked at speeds faster than the Corvette Z06 and the Porsche 911 Turbo with a record of 202 miles per hour.”

Hutch raised one eyebrow, somewhat impressed by the kid’s knowledge, then corrected him. “7.6. She does zero to a hundred in 7.6 seconds. I’ve timed it myself.”

“Can I see it?”

“No.”

Hutch crouched down, took the corner of the car cover in his hands and began fastening the clips. The coveralls sat even lower from behind, sliding down to reveal the top of his round hard ass cheeks and the slit of his crack. Jensen watched a trickle of sweat run down Hutch’s spine and glisten in his ass crack.

“Please can I see?” he pressed.

Hutch stood and stepped close to face the blond Texan.

Jensen could feel the heat coming off Hutch’s warm skin, smell the sweat from his chest and armpits. It was sweet. Intoxicating. Jensen felt light-headed again and shuffled his feet a little wider to steady himself. He took a deep breath.

Suddenly Hutch jabbed his finger into the dead center of Jensen’s chest and held it there, buried in the valley that ran down between the Texan’s pectoral muscles. “You want me to show you what I got? Then bring it. Tonight, you and me shut up shop, then it’s you and your little Vespa versus me and the Viper.”

“It ain’t a Vespa.”

“Whatever.” Hutch slid his finger slowly down Jensen’s pecs, zigzagging from one to the other.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoffrey Knight is the author of more than 30 gay fiction novels, novellas and short stories, ranging in genre from gay adventure, gay romance, gay suspense and gay comedies. He is the recipient of two Rainbow Awards including Best Mystery Winner and Best Overall Gay Fiction Runner-up. His work has been featured in several anthologies including Best Gay Erotica 2013, and he appeared as Guest of Honor at the inaugural Rainbow Con in Florida, 2014.

Geoffrey has worked in advertising, politics and journalism, but nothing is as fun as telling stories. He lives with his partner, their baby daughter, two dogs and two cats in a rambling old house in North Queensland, Australia, where the paint is fraying and life is good.

Amazon Author Page

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What’s Made Your Favorite Books Magic? And This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Romance Do’s In Your Romance Novels.

What’s Made Your Favorite Books Magic?

 

Several books I finished this week just furthered my ideas as to what helps launch a romance novel above the mass of romance stories you read or will read over the course of a year or more.  One wasn’t terribly successful in the romance department in my opinion while succeeding wildly in almost every other aspect, while two others had an almost constricted romance that still managed to allow their main characters love shine through along with an unusual storyline that unfolded around them.

Why does one fail while others succeed?  What makes a well done romance novel?  Yes, yes, I know so much can be subjective.  I remember that one write’s advice that I repeated (and still think is awful) on concentrating only on the main characters and leaving secondary characters totally alone.  Insert roll of eyes here.  Because imo a well done supportive cast makes a novel…romance or not.  All of my favorite  stories mention a marvelously done secondary grouping of characters, almost or as memorable as the main ones.

For some authors, they use their stories as love notes to  locations, towns they visited or grew up in or in one instance (Basil, Switzerland) one they live now.  The result can be a superb blending of location, culture, and story.  For others, its some other element…tree planting, apple orchards, a trip to the Sun Temple and Machu Picchu.  This list is endless.  Then there is the fantastical…the marvelous blending of mythologies, cultures, gods, and beasts that can come about when imaginations soar and blend with romances.

All of the above have managed to come together for me in romances that became something splendid, magical…even when the book itself was contemporary or science fiction.  The author or authors wrote and their story spoke to something deep inside of us.

Stories and characters we remember.

What are those books that still speak to you now and why?  What’s so special about them?  I really want to know.

What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway

So let’s make this official with a What Makes a Book Magic List Giveaway.  Send in your comments, it will run til the end of the month and we will giveaway 2 gift certificates to 2 lucky readers.  Leave your name and email address where you can be reached if chosen.

I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

 

Now for this week’s books and tours.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July 15:

  • Smoke in the Mirror by Aimee Nicole Walker Release Blitz
  • Fireworks and Stolen Kisses by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay Tour
  • A MelanieM Review:Fireworks and Stolen Kisses (Lijun #1) by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay
  • Romance Do’s And This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, July 16:

  • Drive Shaft by Geoffrey Knight Book Blast
  • Release Blitz – Thief Of Hearts by Ruby Moone
  • Review Tour – Riza Curtis’s The Dragon’s Thief
  • An Alisa Review:  The Dragon’s Thief by Riza Curtis
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review: Hearts and Flour By Tara Lain/ Ry Forest (narrator), Stephen Kurpis (narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane
  • A MelanieM Review:The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara

Tuesday, July 17:

  • DSP Dreamspun Promo JS Harker on Soul Bond
  • DSP Promo Tia Fielding
  • Audio Tour for Unscripted Love by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Soul Bond by JS Harker
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:  Soul Bond by JS Harker

Wednesday, July 18:

  • DSP Promo Rayna Vause
  • Release Blitz – Nothing Serious – Jay Northcote
  • Review Tour – Ari McKay – Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together
  • A Dangerous Dance by Davidson King Release Blitz
  • A Lucy Review: The Pet Stylist and The Playboy by Rebecca James
  • A MelanieM Review: The Lies That Bind (Boystown #8) by Marshall Thornton
  • A MelanieM Review: Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay

Thursday, July 19:

  • In the Spotlight: Sink or Swim (Anchor Point series) by L.A. Witt
  • Blog Post – V.L. Locey – Lost In Indigo
  • DSP Publications Promo August Li
  • An Alisa Review: Tainted Life​ by ​Mel Gough
  • A MelanieM Review: Lucky Days (Boystown, #9) by Marshall Thornton
  • A MelanieM Review: Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1) by JP Jackson
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Beneath This Mask ( Enhanced World #3) by Victoria Sue and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

Friday, July 20:

  • BOOK BLAST – Daisy, Yellow by Angelique Jurd
  • DSP Promo Hudson Lin
  • DSP Promo JL Merrow on Camwolf
  • A Lila Review: The Merchant’s Love (Chronicles of Tournai #6) by Antonia Aquilante
  • A Caryn Review Daisy, Yellow by Angelique Jurd
  • A MelanieM Review: A Trust to Follow (Wild Magics #1) by Diana Waters (
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Sink or Swim (Anchor Point #8) by L.A. Witt

Saturday, July 21:

  • Audio Tour for Someone to Call My Own by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • A MelanieM Review: Gifts Given (Boystown, #10) by Marshall Thornton

A MelanieM Review: Fireworks and Stolen Kisses (Lijun #1) by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5 (world building, creativity, characters)

Enjoyment Rating: 2 stars

Book one in the Lijun series

No. Eating. Pixies.

At the annual Global Lijun Alliance conference in Tokyo, Tally Bastille makes the first impulsive decision of his life. Others perceive his uktena—the enormous legendary serpent that’s his dual-spirit—as a threat, which makes him all too aware that he frightens fellow lijun. But an encounter with a passionate, obviously not-straight otter lijun one evening convinces Tally that he’s found his Em’halafi, his destined match. Tally is determined to barrel through all obstacles to make the match happen, including the otter’s conservative, traditional family.

Trained as a Satislit—a bride-son—Haru Tanaka chafes at the strict boundaries set around their life. They rebel against their clan’s constant attempts to force an arranged match and wish desperately for someone who will love them. At the conference, Haru is horrified to learn their family has accepted an offer for them, one too lucrative for the clan to refuse. Not only has the Urusar sold Haru to a stranger, but the lijun is also a giant snake and one who believes in the tired old superstitions regarding Em’halafi. Threatened with banishment if they refuse, Haru has no choice but to marry the wealthy American serpent.

Back in Tally’s home in Wisconsin, Haru and Tally must navigate both the widening gulf between them as they realize how much they’ve misunderstood about each other, and the tricky politics of the lijun clan Tally leads. Murder, intrigue and increasing hostility threaten to tear apart the little town of Wadiswan and the arranged marriage they’ve barely managed to begin.

I have been debating over how to write this review since I finished this story.  And honestly I’m still not sure how this review is going to turn out.

Never have I been more conflicted about a novel than I am about Fireworks and Stolen Kisses (Lijun #1) by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay.  First its written by two of my all time favorite authors and bears many of the elements that makes them so.

First of all there is the world building.  Its  highly imaginative, working mythology, natural history, and various cultures into a rich tapestry upon which they weave their story.  Native American and Japanese cultures are highlighted to an impressive degree right down to the clothing different individuals will wear at various times.  The research done and the manner in which all the details are woven into this  story is absolutely wonderful.  I  found myself enchanted by detail after detail.

I loved the idea of the two spirits, the Lijun, the name of the series.  The way this is brought to life with many species here, not just otter and snake, but some adorable opossums too is truly heartwarming and for me the best part of the story.  They  kept me coming back truthfully when I often wanted just to put the book down.

Angel Martines and Freddy MacKay’s ability to create characters (fantastical or otherwise) that jump off the page, alive and breathing, is without doubt, one of the major reasons I love them so.  I remember their characters, their worlds, and what happens to them. I go through it with them, emotionally every step of the way.

As I did here.  Unfortunately.

I’m not sure what I thought I was getting into with this story.  The first few pages sparkled with a lighthearted delight, lovely, intriguing as we met both Tally and got glimpses of Haru as they led children on a great desert battle.  I was captivated by both Tally’s charm and Haru’s drunken kindness with the children.

What a great start! Then with one false move Tally, Haru, and frankly, the story, took a dive that it never pulled out of.  Not even until 90 percent when it looked like Tally and Haru might find a way to make things work.  That’s right not until you  reach 90 percent finished.

Until then it’s almost stomach churning in the constant refrain from Haru of “he bought me, he owns me, I’m stuck, etc”.  With no attempt to talk to Tally who   has no idea Haru feels this way at all.  Tally who feels that he’s married his soulmate and thinks Haru feels the same about him.  And while at first you feel sympathetic towards Haru, that starts to chip way…faster than you might think.  He’s befriended by an otter, one who will bear their children, feels comfortable enough to have sex with this otter before the marriage ceremony, and yet doesn’t believe them when they tell Haru they are safe and within a wonderful environment.  Especially when Haru is shown that over and over, and Tally asks them to communicate. Instead Haru remains tightly within their established emotional and cultural boundaries without making any attempt to step outside, even given amble evidence things aren’t as “black and white” as Haru thinks.  On one hand Haru seems to be one individual, all rainbow suspenders and modern, and another so held by culture that they are totally victimized by their situation.  Its a dichotomy not resolved by this story in my opinion, even if planned that way.

On one hand it’s an interesting argument of “What would happen if the mating bond is one sided” sort of thing.  It’s also a look at an arranged marriage with a species twist on it.  But does it make for romantic or happy reading? No. Its as pleasant you might think listening to someone’s refrain of “he owns me, he bought me, I’m stuck, I’m in prison”. etc.  Its non stop  yet they do little to communicate to the person their true feelings when given the chance. Haru says they grew up accepting this would be their fate and yet their treatment of Tally is anything but.  Somehow it’s forgotten that Tally is also a victim here along with Haru.  He believes strongly that Haru is his soulmate and thought Haru would feel the instant attraction he felt.  That caused he to act with the disastrous results.

In so many scenes I just put my Kindle down or switched to another story because I needed a break from the nastiness this was leaving with me. I ended up reading with an Excedrin bottle next to me.  Still, the story is beautifully written for all that.

And there’s a murder mystery too but with everything else going on, I barely noticed.

At around 88 to 90 percent, Tally and Haru finally talked, lightbulbs went on and they looked to salvage something of their marriage.  I was exhausted.  And more than ready to move on too.

This is the first in a series.  I’m flummoxed as to what to tell you.  About the book or series.  I’ll leave it up to you. I’m still divided.

Cover art is exquisite. Exactly how I would have picture them both.

Sales Links:

Pride Publishing | Pride Publishing (print) | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Kobo | iBooks | QueeRomance Ink | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


 

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 246 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786516701
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.pride-publishing.com/book/fireworks-and-stolen-kisses
SeriesLijun #1

 

Special New Release Tour for Firelights & Special Kisses (Lijun #1) by Angel Martinez and Freddy MacKay (guest post,excerpt, and giveaway)

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Freddy MacKay and Angel Martinez have a new M/NB Urban Fantasy: Fireworks and Stolen Kisses.

Opossum are Your Friend

Why lijun opossum? Because we felt that the opossum gets a bad rap. They’re actually pretty neat critters.

So how about some fun facts about opossum?

Opossum are naturally immune to rabies, and not only rabies, but some or all immunity to different snake venoms. A neat superpower if you ask me. It was this immunity that actually attracted us to them as a lijun type we wanted to showcase.

Baby opossum sneeze to get their parent’s attention. How adorable is that? It’s f**king priceless. The babies are also referred to as “joeys.”

Opossum have prehensile tails. It’s a useful thing to have when running about. They also have opposable thumbs, which means they can cause havoc because they have skills when it comes to using their paws.

Eclectic diet habits of opossum are good for you and your garden. Opossum eat ticks. This is a good thing. That means the ticks don’t get on you, and with the way the climate is changing, a certain type of tick that causes a meat allergy in humans is slowly moving north. You really want to be bit by a tick like that? They also eat snails, slugs and other garden pests. To be honest, opossum eat a lot of things—they’re not picky eaters for sure. Snails? Small birds? Grain? Good. Dead animals? Also good.

Opposum have a beef with cockroaches and rats. It’s over food, of course, but if either of those two pests are around, opossum kill them too. Helps they have 50 teeth to do it with.

A group of opossum are called a passel.

There are more than 60 species of opossum and they are the only marsupial found outside of Australia.

No. Eating. Pixies.

At the annual Global Lijun Alliance conference in Tokyo, Tally Bastille makes the first impulsive decision of his life. Others perceive his uktena—the enormous legendary serpent that’s his dual-spirit—as a threat, which makes him all too aware that he frightens fellow lijun. But an encounter with a passionate, obviously not-straight otter lijun one evening convinces Tally that he’s found his Em’halafi, his destined match. Tally is determined to barrel through all obstacles to make the match happen, including the otter’s conservative, traditional family.

Trained as a Satislit—a bride-son—Haru Tanaka chafes at the strict boundaries set around their life. They rebel against their clan’s constant attempts to force an arranged match and wish desperately for someone who will love them. At the conference, Haru is horrified to learn their family has accepted an offer for them, one too lucrative for the clan to refuse. Not only has the Urusar sold Haru to a stranger, but the lijun is also a giant snake and one who believes in the tired old superstitions regarding Em’halafi. Threatened with banishment if they refuse, Haru has no choice but to marry the wealthy American serpent.

Back in Tally’s home in Wisconsin, Haru and Tally must navigate both the widening gulf between them as they realize how much they’ve misunderstood about each other, and the tricky politics of the lijun clan Tally leads. Murder, intrigue and increasing hostility threaten to tear apart the little town of Wadiswan and the arranged marriage they’ve barely managed to begin.

Series Blurb:

From the time humans became a unique species, the lijun have lived among us. Dual spirit beings able to change at will between their human halves and their animal halves, at different periods throughout history lijun have been revered, feared and reviled. Modern lijun realized some time ago that their survival in the human world depends upon successful, peaceful integration—a partnership with humans who are unaware of their existence. But in the little town of Wadiswan, Wisconsin, tensions between rival factions run high, escalating to the point where the secretive lijun community risks exposure. The survival of lijun everywhere may depend on which side wins.

Pride Publishing | Pride Publishing (print) | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Kobo | iBooks | QueeRomance Ink | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Giveaway

Angel and Freddy are giving away a $25 Pride Publishing gift certificate with this tour. Enter via rafflecopter for a chance to win:

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Excerpt

Back straight, back straight. Is this person my social equal? Tally offered a futsurei to be safe while the evening’s host introduced him as the new Urusar from Wisconsin. He wished Dad had come with him. As hard as he tried to think of this as just another business conference, the names and places had started to run together. Back home, he might have reached for the worry stone in his pocket. Here, that might be rude.

The ballroom was gorgeous, with the doors to the terrace rolled back to reveal the view of Mt. Fuji. Tables groaning with food lined the walls. Arrangements of blood-red flowers decorated every table. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, though that might have been an illusion created by nerves.

“Wisconsin?” the middle-aged woman inquired with reserved decorum. “That is the state of cheese, yes?”

“Very true.” Damn it, he’d forgotten her name. She was the Uruma, the village mother, to one of the larger cities to the south. “Though thankfully the state is more than just cheese.”

She laughed politely, turned to greet another conference-goer, and Tally hoped it had been a dismissal. He shouldn’t have felt out of his element. Employees depended on his decisions all day, every day. Meetings were his lifeblood, or at least took up most of his life. Not to mention these were his people. The perfectly draped Global Lijun Alliance banner dominated the front of the room—there for anyone, human or lijun to see. For the humans, it was simply a trade organization. For the lijun, it was survival, a shared bond of secrecy and a way for lijun communities to thrive.

Except Tally would always stand outside, which simply made diplomacy that much more important. When his father had gleefully announced his retirement as Urusar, village father of their community in Wadiswan, Tally knew his duty. He’d been groomed for it all his life. He’d taken up the leadership mantle with the sobriety and respect it deserved, even though some of their lijun neighbors had whispered about another deadly serpent leading them.

Uktena.

Tally couldn’t escape his heritage or his lijun type, but he was here at this conference to continue his father’s work—to ensure his community thrived, that the lijun under his care were safe, and to fight against the ancient prejudices that branded him as dangerous.

He retreated to one of the buffets to nibble on sectioned oranges with his back to the wall so he could observe. Not everyone at the welcome dinner was as bound by formalities. The younger attendees had dressed in a variety of styles and more or less appropriately. Nearer the terrace, a young woman in a leather miniskirt tapped her boot heel to music only she could hear. On the other side of the room, a handsome young man in a strange mix of business formal and rebel-casual lounged against the bar. The suit jacket and expensive jeans fit in well enough. The faded T-shirt and rainbow suspenders? Not so much.

Tally thought he would introduce himself to this interesting person, but an older gentleman beat him there and spoke urgently to the young man, who made an impatient gesture and stalked off.

Too bad. He’d been an…otter? Tally surreptitiously flicked his tongue out to taste the air. Difficult to tell in such a large gathering, but he was sure he was right. Something beyond the rainbow suspenders drew him to the otter, a yearning that he didn’t want to deny. He was about to follow when someone touched his arm.

“Herr Bastille, is it not?” A man with flame-red hair, an educated European accent and a calculating smile stood at his elbow. “I am Gerhard Klug. I understand you are a hotelier?”

Tally offered his hand rather than a bow and smiled in return. “Good to meet you. Tal-tsu’tsa Bastille. Everyone calls me Tally. Yes, I run the family business back home. Several properties.”

“Good. Good.” Herr Klug put an arm on his shoulder and steered him toward the bar. “I’m hoping we could discuss a possible business arrangement.”

“I’m always interested in discussion, Herr Klug.” Tally signaled the bartender. “What are you drinking?”

“Gerhard, please.” The fox lijun laughed. “You’ll make me feel old. And they have a pear brandy here that is good.”

Tally ordered the brandy and a whiskey sour for himself. Yes, Gerhard was obviously here to woo him, but Tally didn’t like being put at a disadvantage right from the start, even with something as small as who paid for drinks. “What is it you do?”

“I have glassworks,” Gerhard said as he hopped onto the stool next to Tally’s. “My family has been in glass for several centuries. While we have commercial lines, we have sites dedicated to custom work, as well.”

Tally had the oddest image pop up at the phrase in glass of littles foxes running about under cheese domes. Of course he knew what Gerhard meant and the more focused part of his brain perked up at the mention of custom work. “Oh? What sort of custom work?”

Gerhard pulled a small tablet from inside his suit jacket. “For restaurants. For hotels. Erholungsort…what is the word? Resorts.”

Tally answered the fox’s calculating look with a soft laugh. “I have the feeling you’ve brought a portfolio. Please, let’s have a look.”

“Thank you. It’s very kind of you to give me a hearing.” Gerhard opened the tablet between them as their drinks arrived. “We have contracts across Europe. This first set is work we recently added for a winter resort in Sweden.”

They leaned in together to inspect the photos, Tally nodding and asking questions here and there. The images showed wine glasses, water goblets, tumblers and beer glasses in beautiful shapes and colors, with the property name and logo etched discreetly into each piece. Tally particularly admired the champagne flutes with the snowflake-shaped feet. Lovely, though he gave no outward indication that he reacted to any one set more than another.

When they reached the end of the photo samples, Tally sat back, sipping at his whiskey and making Gerhard wait. “It’s a very interesting thought. Though I imagine a certain percentage of that pretty glassware vanishes from the properties as souvenirs.”

“Ha. I’m sure some of it does. Though not offering the prettiest glasses in the guest rooms most likely reduces that number.”

Gerhard’s eyes twinkled as he laughed and if Tally had been someone who craved casual sex, Gerhard might have been a candidate, but his heart would only be half in it. The other half had already left the room with the handsome otter. The suspenders were a beacon, a flare sent up, and Tally was going to speak with the otter of definitely-not-straight orientation that evening if it killed him.

“I’d like you to work up some samples with the resort manager at Sapphire Lake.” Tally didn’t mention immediately that the manager was one of his sisters. “We’d need to see physical pieces, of course. Then we can discuss the possibility of starting a small contract there first. I do have properties in Europe, but allow me to begin closer to home.”

“Very good. A pleasure, Tally, surely.” Gerhard extended a hand and they shook—a gentlemen’s agreement to further negotiations.

When Gerhard Klug finally let him go with an exchange of business cards, the otter was nowhere in sight. Uncharacteristically disgruntled, Tally left the main ballroom to check some of the smaller venues where different sorts of food were on offer. The first meeting room had been set up as a sushi bar, which seemed a good place to find an otter. He wasn’t there. The second was a room dedicated to international cuisine, offerings from host countries of previous years. No otter.

The third was a paradise of desserts which had drawn the children since the beginning of the evening with its siren song. Tally hurried his steps when he picked up shouting from that direction and he skidded to a stop in front of the door.


Author Bio

Freddy MacKay

Freddy is a bisexual, biromantic, genderfluid nerd and geek who grew up in the Midwest playing soccer, diving, swimming and doing gymnastics, along with running around outside as much as possible—preferably spending that time in swamps and hiking through forests. The haphazard escapades have not changed, except some of them have been replaced with a healthy geocaching addiction and a love for Science Fiction and Fantasy. This love of SFF developed into a writing passion and has led to several awards in the gay science fiction and fantasy categories. Freddy likes worms, dancing and being outside… and toll passes, but you’ll have to ask on that one. (They/Them/Their pronouns.)

Angel Martinez

The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.

Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough. She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.

Author Websites:

https://freddysstereograph.weebly.com/ http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com/

Facebook (Personal):

https://www.facebook.com/freddy.m.mackay https://www.facebook.com/amartinez2

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/FreddyMacKay

https://twitter.com/AngelMartinezrr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5355677.Freddy_MacKay https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1010469.Angel_Martinez

Author QueeRomance Ink:

https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/freddy-mackay/ https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/angel-martinez/

Author Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Freddy-MacKay/e/B006GQV29U https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Martinez/e/

A MelanieM Review: Ground of Insurrection (Wizard Wars #1) by Mell Eight

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Life on the prairie isn’t easy, especially since the prairie has a habit of eating people it doesn’t like. Ruse knows the dangers, but there’s so much more to the prairie than death.

The nearby country of Ammet, however, only sees an exploitable resource to be conquered. Caught between the political machinations of Ammet and his love for the prairie, Ruse can only hope he doesn’t wind up killed by one or the other.

I honestly hesitated on the rating because the imagination behind the concept of Ground of Insurrection is just incredible.  There have been sentient planets, yes.  Sentient plants.  But here you have a sentient eco system, one that came about via a mage war.  A sentient prairie that once was a man. Mind blowing stuff.

My mind went all over the place with questions that quite frankly the author never answered.  How?   What?  As in I wanted to know exactly what it feels like to be a prairie! One that gobbles up people mind you for sustenance among other things. The adjustments to life, mind, everything that had to have taken.  There’s the book I kept thinking….

But nope.  We get Ruse as a storyteller. One of the convict’s sent to the Prairie from Ammet as a part of the city’s survive or die program.  True, Ruse has his own secrets and each small village of criminals is interesting on its own.  That would be small towns that grew as the killers, perverts, thieves…one by one…started to figure out how to survive and come together long  enough to form a village structure.

The dynamics at work within such a village are fascinating too, especially the ease at which they each accept what other societies find horrifically unacceptable:  the serial killer who continues to kill leaving bodies of the unwary to be deposed of at dawn, the psychopaths, the thieves, all working together, in a criminal harmony.

Mell Eight has other elements at  work.  Espionage, treason, assassination, and more plotting than I was honestly interested in.  No.  My focus was on the Prairie, his existence, his beginning, and how the others started to interact with him.

He is a 5 star creation in my books.  The rest almost suffers next to him.

In fact, the ending brought up so many  questions and opened up a bunch of holes in the narrative for me.  The villagers starting orchards for one thing.  Orchards are the very bane of prairies.  Any  woody plant it because its the first stages of a forest.  The very introduction of something that could mean the end of such a ecosystem seemed all wrong.  Surely Ruse and the settlers/villagers would have come up with a substitute for apples and tree grown produce?

And yes, that other ending left me unsatisfied because I still had so many unanswered questions to begin with and now had more.  It wasn’t until I looked at the title on Goodreads that I understood that this was to be a part of a series.  Still….

Magnificent creation.  And I definitely need more.  So I can handle a little frustration if I    finally get the answers I’m looking for…in book 2.  Hang in there with me and check it it.

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  Perfect cover.  Just love it.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 13th 2018 by Less Than Three Press (first published June 11th 2018)
ISBN139781684312931
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWizard Wars #1