Love NonFiction and Romance? Check out the Blog Tour and Giveaway for SAINT UNSHAMED: A Gay Mormon’s Life Healing by Kerry Ashton

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: SAINT UNSHAMED: A Gay Mormon’s Life 

Healing from the Shame of Religion, Rape, Conversion Therapy & Cancer

Author: Kerry Ashton             

Publisher: Lynn Wolf Enterprises

Cover Artist: Kerry Ashton

Release Date: April 17, 2019

Genres: A Gay Memoir featuring M/M Romance & some hard core sex

Tropes: Forbidden love, Rape, Mormon Religion

Themes: Coming out, Forgiveness, Overcoming Religion, Rape, Police Surveillance & Arrest, Conversion Therapy including Electric Shock Treatments, and a 16-year battle with rare cancer

Heat Rating:  5 flames

There are many erotic passages—most are hardcore, erotic and explicit passages, all M/M. Many deal with scenes of sexual humiliation, degradation, group scenes, S&M and/or the gay male leather scene.

Length: 120 000 words /348 pages incl. 14 pages of B&W photos from author’s private collection.

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“A TRIUMPHANT MEMOIR!”  Clarion Books

Blurb                       

The first paragraph of Kerry Ashton’s new memoir explains a lot: “I told this story once as fiction in the 1980s, but this time I tell the truth. I even tell the truth, in #MeToo fashion, about being violently raped by another man when I was 18, with a knife held to my throat—a secret I kept from everyone, including myself, for over 40 years. The rape, like other experiences I endured while a student at Brigham Young University, where I came out in the early 1970s, had a profound impact on my later life. But this story is not so much about my rape or my coming of age at BYU, as it is about the lifelong effects of shame itself, not only about how I internalized and inherited a wounding shame from my Mormon upbringing, but also how I eventually unshamed myself. It is about the journey of a lifetime, finding spiritual growth, self-discovery and healing along the way, while encountering many miraculous events that pushed me forward through darkness toward the light.”

Telling about his experiences during his four years at BYU—the rape, falling in love for the first time, police surveillance, harassment and arrest, while enduring three years of conversion therapy and electric shock treatments—provide the structure of Kerry’s memoir. But intermittently, the author shares memories from his childhood, growing up Mormon in Pocatello, Idaho, and later from his adulthood, as well as from his professional career as an actor and writer, both in L.A. and NYC, describing encounters with Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis and Julie Harris, while detailing his experiences with Tennessee Williams and his brief affair with Stephen Sondheim. Lastly, he talks about the 12 years he spent in therapy, about his 16-year battle with cancer, how he eventually rid himself of the shame internalized from his Mormon youth, sharing glimpses into his sexual journey from his innocent youth through S&M and the gay leather scene in mid-life to the loving monogamous relationship he now enjoys.

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Indie Bound

Excerpt                             

READ PART ONE  HERE

The Holy War, as I have come to think of it, began on a hot day in early September 1971, the day I left Pocatello to drive four hours south to Provo, Utah, to attend Brigham Young University. As in all wars, whether holy or unholy, it would not be without its casualties.

I spent the morning packing things in my ‘56 Chevrolet, parked in the spot on the lawn where our driveway would have been had my parents ever had the money to pave it. A yellow-and-bronze, two- door coupe with cream interior, a huge cream steering wheel, and black dashboard, the car had class, which is why I named it Oscar— after the Academy Awards I hoped to win one day.

As I packed Oscar full of boxes, Dad worked under the hood of the car. Once Oscar was filled with boxes, I sank down on our front lawn. Knowing this would be my last day at home, I tried to capture everything I saw and felt around me: The red of Mom’s roses framing our side porch, the hazy blue of the late morning sky, the large pine tree at the front of our corner lot, and the blue-grey crag of Scout Mountain in the distance, where I had always imagined Santa’s sleigh flew over on Christmas Eve.

Hearing Mom humming in the kitchen as she prepared lunch, everything seemed right in my Latter-Day-Saint world.

Getting up from the grass, I walked over to where Dad was still working under Oscar’s hood. “Everything look okay, Dad?” I asked.

“Oh, sure,” Dad replied in his folksy way. “I just wanted to make sure everything’s good with your car. I don’t want you stranded on the highway.”

Though I had fulfilled every church obligation, I was not the mechanic that Dad had hoped each of his three sons would become. I left mechanical jobs to Dad or to my two older brothers, both married by then.

“I love you, Dad,” I said suddenly. He stopped tinkering with the spark plugs and looked up at me. “I love you, too, son,” he replied, embracing me with a greasy hug.

Mom came out on the side porch just then. Wiping her hands on her apron, she called out to us, “Okay, you two! Lunch is ready!”

I washed my hands at the kitchen sink and let Dad wash his hands in the bathroom. Then I joined Mom at the kitchen table while we waited for Dad.

“Kerry Lynn,” she whispered, stroking my dark brown hair as she often did, “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.”

Now a grown-up, or so I thought, I bristled at her calling me by both my given names as it sounded so girlish. But since it was my last day at home, I chose to ignore it.

“With all the kids married,” Mom continued, “and you going off to college, this house is going to feel awfully empty without you.”

“Maybe you and Dad will finally get some peace and quiet,” I kidded. “Maybe now you two can finally go on that second honeymoon you’ve talked about.”

“Maybe,” she said, laughing as she reached out to hold me. “I

love you, Kerry.” As she held me tight, I never wanted to let go. Once Dad joined us at the table, he said a blessing on the food, as we always did in our home.

After the blessing, we tore through the food. Mom had made some of my favorites: Her wonderful potato and egg salad, savory burgers with all the trimmings, and delicious corn-on-the-cob bought fresh from the farmer’s market.

After lunch, we went into the living room where Dad anointed my head with oil, laid his hands upon my head, and gave me a sacred Father’s Blessing—the blessing of a Melchizedek Priesthood Elder— warning me to be “mindful of the Adversary.”

Before I left that day, Dad took a photograph of me standing in front of Oscar. Barely 18 and dressed neatly, at 6’3” and 190 pounds, I was the very image of a conservative, clean-cut, LDS young man who loved his Mormon family, the LDS Church, and his Heavenly Father.

I arrived at Salt Lake City three hours later. From there, it took me another hour driving south on Interstate 15 before I arrived in the city of Provo.

Taking my first glimpse that day of Provo through Oscar’s wide windshield, I could see the white LDS Temple huddled against the Wasatch Mountains, its golden steeple gleaming in the late afternoon sun. Further north, Mount Timpanogos reached heavenward, while a sign at the main entrance to the BYU campus read: “The World Is Our Campus.” In reality, the campus became my world.

Driving north past the immense Cougar Stadium, and then into the foothills just beyond the BYU campus, then turning east and heading toward the mountains, I came to the huge Marriott Sports Arena under construction on my right, and stopped at the light. Once the light turned green, I made a left turn onto Sumac Avenue, climbing dramatically into the foothills, before pulling into the driveway in front of my new off-campus apartment.

About the Author

Raised in Pocatello, Idaho as a Mormon in the heart of Mormon Zion, Kerry attended BYU in the early 70s, where some of the most dramatic events recounted in his memoir took place.

Always interested in pursuing a career as both an actor and writer, Kerry wrote his first play, BUFFALO HEAD NICKELS at the age of 17, and published it at 18. Since then, he has published several works, among them most prominently THE WILDE SPIRIT, a one-man play with music, in which Ashton starred as Oscar Wilde, and also wrote the play’s book, music and lyrics. The play won Kerry critical acclaim for both his writing and performance, and three 1977 L.A. Civic Star Awards for Best Actor, Play and Direction. The play ran for three consecutive seasons in Provincetown, MA from 1990-1992, and was produced Off-Broadway in 1996, winning Kerry a National Award of Merit from ASCAP. The author now makes his home with his partner Victor Ramirez in South Florida. For more info, visit www.KerryAshton.com.

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo also known as the ‘Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla’ is heavily celebrated here in the US, but not all may know exactly what that day stands for.  Some may think it’s the date of Mexico’s Independence.  Not true.  It actually celebrates a victory in battle over the French.

From the Britannica:

“When in 1861 Mexico declared a temporary moratorium on the repayment of foreign debts, English, Spanish, and French troops invaded the country. By April 1862 the English and Spanish had withdrawn, but the French, with the support of wealthy landowners, remained in an attempt to establish a monarchy under Maximilian of Austria and to curb U.S. power in North America. On May 5, 1862, a poorly equipped mestizo and Zapotec force under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French troops at the Battle of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City; about 1,000 French troops were killed. Although the fighting continued and the French were not driven out for another five years, the victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination. The city, which was later renamed Puebla de Zaragoza, is the site of a museum devoted to the battle, and the battlefield itself is maintained as a park.”

However, according to some references, once the holiday got associated with a certain alcohol, namely tequila, it really took off and it’s widely celebrated today outside Mexico.  So happy Cinco de Mayo!  Hence, the many Margaritas flowing today!

For more about Cinco de Mayo, check out the History Channel link here.

Cinco de Mayo – HISTORY

 HEA or HFN?

Now a little more about last week’s post on HFN or HEA, we heard from H.B on the subject:

H.B. “It’s hard to say and I guess depends on the characters and the way the story goes for me. I agree that a HEA has to have stability but I think the same standard can be applied to HFN stories. I guess a HEA story for me has to have details that make me believe the characters are committed to each other, solid within their relationship no matter the situation, will have each other backs, be supportive and not waver and is willing to fight when the going gets tough. In a nutshell, the author has to sell to me that the characters are deeply in love and that they’ve met “the one” and won’t let the person go if sh*t hits the fan and each fight to keep the other in the relationship.”

It was also on my mind as I was reading a new Rhys Ford story, the first in a new series the author has coming out (yes, just terrific).  The first book ends, of course, on a HFN, which i s the only way the story could end.  It was realistic, perfect, and made me immediately want to reach for the next story….which wasn’t there! lol.  But once again, it made me realize, as did the absolutely splendid story 717 miles by Sophia Soames that sometimes a HFN is the only way to end a novel.  That a HEA would be not only be unrealistic but would even ruin the story.

I also read far too many stories where a HEA was forced onto a story where a HFN would have been a far better fit.  Haven’t you?  A rushed ending?  Or a rushed relationship?  Just to get a ending that perhaps the author thought their readers wanted to read …heading off happily ever after…before they were actually ready for it.

How do you all feel about that?  You ok with it in your stories?  Or does that turn what could have been a great book into a meh book for you?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Meanwhile here is our week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 5:

  • Happy Cinco de Mayo! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A Lucy Review:  The Accidental Baker by Clare London
  • A VVivacious Review: The King’s Fear (The Brass Machine #2) by Isaac Grisham

Monday, May 6:

  • Release Blitz – The Duke & The Dandy Highwayman (Duke & Dandy #1) by Zakarrie C.
  • Blog Tour – The King’s Fear (The Brass Machine #2) by Isaac Grisham
  • Review Tour – Jay Northcote ‘s Mud & Lace
  • A Lucy Review: Lyin’ Ryan by Kim Davis
  • An Alisa Review :The Love Left Behind by Daniel de Lorne
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Mage on the Hill (The Web of Arcana #1) by Angel Martinez
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Mud & Lace (Rainbow Place #4) by Jay Northcote

Tuesday, May 7:

  • Blog Post – Bryan T Clark – Escaping Camp Roosevelt
  • Blog Tour  for The Nature of the Game (Stick Side #2) by Amy Aislin
  • Audio Review Tour for Falling Down by Eli Easton and and Michael Stellman (Narrator)
  • A Lila Review: Starting from Zero by Lane Hayes
  • A MelanieM Review:The Nature of the Game (Stick Side #2) by Amy Aislin
  • An Ali Audio Review Audio Review:  Falling Down by Eli Easton and Michael Stellman (Narrator)
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: The Mage on the Hill (The Web of Arcana #1) by Angel Martinez

Wednesday, May 8:

  • Review Tour – Annabelle Jacobs’ Wounded Soul
  • RELEASE BLITZ for The #lovehim Series Box Set by S. M. James
  • Morgan James Promo on Love Conventions
  • An Alisa Review: A New Leash on Life by Deirdre O’Dare
  • An Ali G Release Day Review: Love Conventions by Morgan James
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Wounded Soul by Annabelle Jacobs
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Proper English by K.J. Charles

Thursday, May 9:

  • AUDIOBOOK REVIEW TOUR – Witchbane by Morgan Brice
  • Release Blitz – Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes – Prisoner Of Shadows
  • DSP PROMO Andrew Grey
  • An Alisa Review: Where Song Replaces Silence by Layla Dorine
  • A Stella Review: Made for You (Love and Family #2) by Anyta Sunday
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: Witchbane (Witchbane #1) by Morgan Brice and Kale Williams (Narrator)
  • A Lila Review: A Cordial Agreement by Ryan Loveless

Friday, May 10:

  • Release Blitz – Michael Mandrake – Love Kills (Criminal Delights)
  • Review Tour for Bryan T. Clark’s Escaping Camp Roosevelt
  • An Alisa Review : Escaping Camp Roosevelt by Bryan T. Clark
  • A Stella Review: How to Heal (Lovestrong #5) by Susan Hawke
  • A Lucy Review To Be Continued (#lovehim #6) by S. M. James
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Man-Eater by Katey Hawthorne

Saturday, May 11:

  • Blog Tour – SAINT UNSHAMED: A Gay Mormon’s Life Healing by Kerry Ashton
  • A MelanieM Review: The Poison Within (Inspector Skaer #1) by Kasia Bacon

Cover Reveal for In Case You Missed It by S. M. James (excerpt)

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COVER REVEAL

Book Title: In Case You Missed It

Author: S. M. James

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Genre/s: YA LGBTQ romance

Heat Rating: 1-2 flames

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Tagline

Brooks measured his life in breaths, until Darien took his breath away.

 

Blurb

Brooks is convinced his life is totally, one hundred percent happy. 

Until Darien tracks him down.

Darien was supposed to be the guy he kissed once and remembered forever, but now he’s back in Brooks’s life, with easy smiles and big ideas.

The first of which … show the homeschooled Brooks everything he’s missed out on. But as the pair work through a spring of playing catch up on life, it becomes obvious to Darien that Brooks has a secret. 

And as things heat up between them, Brooks’s secret might just be Darien’s worst fear.

Because Darien has always lived in the moment. 

But Brooks has always lived for the future he knows is inevitable. 

When life is set to tear them apart, will love be enough to keep them together?

 

Excerpt 

“Yo, Dare!” Cameron shouts.

Darien turns toward us in the bleachers and throws up a little wave. From the corner of my eye, I notice Chelsea pointing at me, and Darien double takes. His expression is almost comical.

Darien tosses his lacrosse stick to the side and jogs over to where we’re sitting. His eyes and smile are so wide he looks deranged, but the happiness radiating from him bathes me in warmth.

When he doesn’t say anything, I step in to fill the awkwardness. “Careful. People might think you’re happy to see me.”

He huffs a laugh, slightly out of breath. “Damn, Brooks. You could have given me some warning.”

I stand up and make my way down the few rows until I’m on the one right above him. The others are watching us creepily and it’s weird to have an audience when he’s looking at me like that. I should keep my distance. I can’t. “Are you surprised?”

“Very. You realize this is something you’ve been missing right? Checking out hot guys at practice. We can theoretically check that off your list.”

I pretend to scan the rest of the team. “Mmm … jocks in their natural habitat. My favorite.”

He whacks me in the stomach. “Mean.”

“You said it.”

“Yeah but you were supposed to say, ‘there’s just one guy I’m here for’.”

“I didn’t realize this thing was scripted,” I say, gripping the metal barrier and leaning down a little.

“Don’t be embarrassed. You’re clearly not as well versed in flirting as I am.”

Finallyyour ego makes sense. Too much flirting, not enough criticism.”

He holds his arms out. “What’s there to critique?”

And with that view of his body—his lean legs and loose shorts and tight t-shirt—I have to agree. Damn … the list of reasons why I should give him up melts away. There’s no walking away from this pull between us.

“Mitreski!” his coach calls, snapping me from my thoughts.

Darien ignores him as he drops his arms and steps closer to me. He reaches up to wrap one of his hands over mine. “Wait for me after practice?”

My mind gets loud with warning. What if he’s sick?

What if I catch it again?

What if I end up in hospital this time?

What if.

What if.

What if … he’s perfect for me? Hope surges in my chest.

What if I tell him everything and he doesn’t walk away? What if I get better? It’s an impossible thought, but when I’m with Darien, he makes me want to entertain infinite impossibilities.

“Mitreski, now!”

“Yes,” I whisper. “I’ll be here.”

Darien’s hand tightens around mine. “I don’t want to let go,” he admits.

“There are some thoughts you’re meant to keep to yourself.” But as he goes to pull away, I catch his fingers between my own. Just for a second. Just long enough to show that while I’ll keep the thought to myself, I don’t want to let go either.

As soon as I release him, he jogs back to his team, and I walk back up the three rows to where the others are sitting.

Heat has surged to my face, my ears, my neck. I’m sure I must be embarrassingly red but no one says a thing about it.

Cameron smiles at me, blue eyes twinkling, and it hits me just how much I love my cousin. He’s always been there for me, looking out for me. He knew I needed this.

I nudge him as Darien and the team set up a practice game. “Thank you.”

Cameron shrugs. “I overhead you two today. It was sickening. Really sappy. I had to get you together again, because no one needs to hear that.”

If Cameron told me why he wanted me to pick him up, I probably wouldn’t have come. I would have used the excuse of Darien being sick, and stayed away, intimidated by the thought of showing up—especially with Chelsea here too.

But as I watch Darien run back and forth, with no clue what the rules are, I feel like I’m lit up from the inside. He scores at one point and I’m practically bursting with pride as we cheer and stomp our feet, making as much noise as possible.

Instead of getting embarrassed, he mock bows, loving the attention.

I lean over to Cameron. “I’m going to tell him.”

He jerks around to look at me, all humor gone. “For real? Brooks, are you sure?”

“You’re the one who said I have to.”

He shrugs. “It’s really not up to me.”

“I know.” I hesitate before letting out a sigh. “But it’s not up to me either. I really like him, but he has the right to know what he’s getting into, before anything happens.”

“I hate to agree with you … but it’s true.”

“I’m a lot to take on.”

No, you’re not. You need to stop seeing yourself as a burden. Fuck, Brooks. You’re always going on about wanting to be treated the same as anyone else, but you need to start treating yourself that way too.”

Cameron’s right. It pisses me off that he’s right so I’m definitely not going to agree, but I note his words. Let them sit, percolate. Soak them into my subconscious. “I have to tell him.” I push as much emphasis as I can into the words, trying to convince myself as much as him. “But I have no clue how.”

“Hey, don’t overthink it. The right moment will come up, and whatever happens from there, happens.”

I watch Darien, wishing the world could just slow and give me endless days of school, and watching practice, and making friends, as I plunge into a world of incomprehensible feelings.

“It’s the ‘whatever’ part I’m afraid of.”

But facing it is inevitable.

 

About the Author 

S. M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, S. M. is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI. 

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

 

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Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Love a Bit of Horror? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Stalker/s by L.J. Hasbrouck (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Stalker/s

Author: L.J. Hasbrouck

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 14, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 113600

Genre: Horror, horror, new adult, gay, trans, post-apocalyptic, zombies, survival, island

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Synopsis

Brian Jameson doesn’t even get a chance to pick a college before a worldwide pandemic breaks out—and his home is Ground Zero. After losing his parents and sister in a whirlwind of devastation, Brian’s war-veteran grandfather takes him under his wing. But when desperate looters attack Brian’s new home, he and his grandfather must flee into a wintery Midwestern wasteland now populated by intelligent infected known as “Stalkers.”

These ghoulish creatures don’t shamble in hordes—they hide in the darkness waiting to strike, teeth bared in ghastly grins. And they laugh while they’re ripping you to shreds.

But with his grandfather’s training, Brian makes it to the home of his estranged childhood friends, twins Louis and Eva. And Brian gets a chance to experience something else he nearly missed: falling in love. Drawn to the determined—and ruthless—Louis, Brian escapes with him in search of an island paradise away from the relentless snow and infected.

But even if they make it there, it may not be the haven they’re hoping for.

Excerpt

Stalker/s
L.J. Hasbrouck © 2019
All Rights Reserved

12/19, Topeka, Kansas

Jameson Residence

1:06 a.m.

The light from Brian Jameson’s tablet danced across his face in varying degrees of intensity: somber blues, soothing greens, and sometimes the alarming tinge of blood-red. The show’s layered soundscape coursed through his earbuds. Drizzling rain enveloped the muted dialogue of two detectives, their shoes crunching against gravel as they hunted an elusive killer. Somewhere offscreen, a gun exploded. Brian’s pulse pounded so hard it blended with the strengthening downpour.

Jesus, I didn’t expect that.

Brian waited for the scene to change, for stunned gasps, for those dainty footsteps to accelerate into a frantic sprint, but the pair of detectives continued their discussion as if they were taking a stroll through a scenic garden.

Brian paused the video and plucked out his earbuds. Silence. Darkness. A small square of light with an image frozen in time tilted against his knees.

Am I going crazy? I swear I heard a gunshot.

Abrupt knocks shook his bedroom door. Brian’s tablet fell to the bed as he swiveled his legs over the edge, muscles tensed—

“Bri! I heard a buncha loud sounds an’ I’m scared!”

Brian clicked his lamp on and rushed to open the door for his younger sister, stumbling over a still-packed suitcase. After he ushered her in, he shut the door. His racing heart slowed as he gripped her fragile shoulders. We might have heard the same thing. Thunder, or maybe fireworks from the redneck neighbors.

“It’ll be okay, Becks. Tell me what happened.”

Becky’s thin eyebrows knit above glistening pale-blue eyes. “A boom woke me up an’ I ran to Mommy and Daddy’s room, but I heard another boom in there an’—”

“Wait—in their room?”

Becky nodded.

Brian jerked his cell phone from the charger. He pressed the “9” from the emergency screen, Becky’s fearful gaze locked on his. A whimper escaped her as footsteps creaked in the hall outside. Shadow sliced the sliver of light beneath the door.

Brian abandoned the phone to reach for the door lock—but someone twisted the knob before he could get to it. A sturdy figure burst in and knocked Brian back. Becky cried, “Daddy!” and flung her arms around their father’s stocky legs. Their mother pushed into the room after him, collapsing to her knees as their father slammed the door and locked it. Brian caught the glint of a gun wrapped in her shaking hand.

While his father paced the room, phone pressed to his ear and daughter wrapped around his legs, Brian guided his mother onto the edge of his bed. Her distant gaze frightened him—she seemed to be looking at something only she could see. A memory, perhaps, something keeping her from the present. Her auburn waves clung to her shoulders in sweat-matted strands. Blood spatter stained the pink and yellow flowers of a nightgown. It framed four crimson gashes gleaming from her porcelain chest.

In the background, Brian’s father spoke to a muffled dispatcher. “My kids are terrified, we’re locked in my son’s bedroom, and there’s a fucking dead guy on my bedroom floor! Why? My wife shot him, that’s why! All I know is I woke up to gunshots, my wife screaming, and some nut springing out of our closet. He scratched her—even tried to bite her! He was out of his mind, stank like…I dunno. I dunno. Can you hurry, please? I’m worried about my wife.”

Brian’s father slumped onto the bed and ran a hand through his close-cropped hair. Becky squeezed between their parents, tiny hands clutching their father’s flannel pajama sleeve while he listened to the dispatcher. His free hand curled into a fist above his bouncing knee, knuckles tightening to white.

Brian’s skin grew clammy. Tingly. He tuned out the sights and sounds around him until they became a blur and buzz, a spinning funhouse tunnel of disorientation. She shot him. This crazy guy that broke in. God, he could’ve come after me and Becks if she hadn’t…

Distracted by the motion of his mother setting the gun on his bedside table, Brian looked at her. He recognized a forced smile he’d seen many times before. “We’ll make it through this one step at a time. We always do.” She glanced down at the bloody slashes, then back up to Brian. “I know this looks nasty, but it’s only a couple of scratches. I’m okay. I promise.”

She pulled Becky to her, giving her the attention their father couldn’t. Despite his muscular build and booming voice, Brian’s father often wilted in stressful situations—like the time he lost his job at the Topeka mall and Brian and his mother found him foaming at the mouth with an empty pill bottle beside his outstretched hand.

Brian’s father lowered his phone and looked at his wife and children, scoffing. “We have to stay in here and wait for them, barricade the door. The dispatcher said we’ll be safe and that we shouldn’t disturb the scene. Can you believe that? They made it sound like you were more of a criminal than the asshole you shot, Ellen!”

“Joel, language.” Brian’s mother covered Becky’s ears. She rested her chin atop Becky’s head and lowered her hands to stroke Becky’s lank hair. Brian’s father sat beside them, staring at the thin blue carpet between his bouncing knees.

“Brian, move your desk in front of the door.”

Any other time, Brian might’ve found his father’s condescension infuriating, but he was happy to have a distraction from the questions stirring within him. He dragged the desk over to the door, hyper-aware and jittery like he’d had too much caffeine.

When he finished, Brian sank onto the foot of his bed. He swept his tablet away, certain he’d never want to finish the episode frozen within it, and curled a quaking hand around his mother’s shoulder. “Mom, tell me what happened. Please.”

She nodded, taking in measured breaths as she threaded her fingers through Becky’s auburn curls. Becky took after their mother both in appearance and spirit. Although Brian possessed the same golden-blond hair and tan complexion as his father, he’d also inherited his tendency toward escapism.

His mother kept him going. She kept them all going. Even though she’d been hurt, she still held her daughter to her, still gripped her husband’s hand in hers, still smiled at Brian.

“Someone must’ve broken in while we were at Nana and Poppa’s,” she whispered. “He hid in our closet, waited until we were asleep… I-I don’t know why he attacked me. But I…I had to protect my family, so I…”

She didn’t say anything else. Becky’s unbearable whimpering forced Brian to voice the panic bashing against his skull. “Who the hell was that guy? Was he some homeless guy that broke in to get out of the cold? Why would he hurt Mom?”

“Bri, if I told you what I saw, you and your sister would have nightmares.” Brian’s father finally looked up and met Brian’s gaze. “Your mother and I will already have them, I’m sure of it. All I know is it was self-defense: they’ll clear your mother, get her checked out at a hospital, and we can go back to normal.” His lips tightened into a strained smile. He’d been fighting to earn Brian’s trust back ever since they found him on that locker room floor, but the sacred trust built between parent and child had been shattered irrevocably.

Brian’s eyes fell from his father’s. They drifted into silence and awaited the police. His gut soured and every nerve in his body tingled until the tips of his toes and fingers felt numb. One second, he’d been watching a by-the-numbers police procedural, the next he might as well have been starring in an episode of his own.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Knowledge-seeking animal-lover, supporter of diversity, and OG Floridian. Lifelong gamer who grew up drawing Disney characters, whales, and dinosaurs. Proud INTJ (which I share with the likes of Hannibal Lecter, Batman, and Ellen Ripley).

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A Lucy Review: Midnight Angel by Kevin Klehr

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Dinner is overcooked. The guests haven’t arrived. And Luke is sitting alone at his dining table on New Year’s Eve. He was hoping to romance Nathan, one of the people he invited for this intimate evening meal.

As midnight draws closer, it seems an angel, who has magically appeared in Luke’s apartment, is the only person to drink champagne and watch the fireworks with.

But this angel has other ideas. He’s about to grant Luke the New Year’s Eve party he thought he wanted.

It is highly possible that I will be in the minority about this holiday short but it wasn’t what I was expecting.  At first, I felt bad for Luke, who is sitting at his table with chicken drying out in the oven and no one present at his party.  He has invited his crush, Nate, Nate’s best friend, Lucy, and the annoying guy who has a crush on him, Tim.  As he is sitting wallowing about how now he can’t make his move on Nate, his guardian angel, Guy,  shows up, complete with wings on his back.  I did laugh at Luke’s reaction. 

“What happened?”

“You passed out.  Your face landed squarely on your plate.” 

I do have to mention editing – that sentence in the book reads “…you’re plate…”

So what his angel does is bring him the party he wanted, with Nate and Lucy and Tim.  The thing is, I felt really bad for Tim because I thought Luke was pretty awful to him. “Luke, I’m going home.  I’m making you uncomfortable at your own party, and that’s the last thing I want to do.”   Then I felt like the whole thing was a lecture.  The definition of infatuation, what constitutes stalking and some oddly phrased dialogue.  “I was on my way to another party, but something made me drop in.  It was like a mystical force drove me here.”  It just didn’t fit with the way Tim spoke previously.  And I just kept feeling bad for Tim.  “A better body, but  not the one I craved.”  It’s fantasy yes, but it’s convoluted about Luke’s feelings.  I just didn’t get any feel of a connection.  It’s a beginning, maybe, so hopeful. 

The cover design is the standard NineStar Press is using for their holiday collection.  It is pretty but not specific to this story.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published December 10th 2018 by NineStar Press
Original Title Midnight Angel
ISBN 139781949909616
Edition Language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Forbidden Pursuits (The Galactic Captains #2) by Harry F. Rey

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Daeron’s mother is offered a risky but lucrative job—rescuing an experimental galinium scientist from Aldegar—the lost loves lurking in her past mean she must send Daeron away to the other end of the galaxy; to the father he’s never met on the Kyleri Empire’s capital, Jiwani.

On Jiwani, the heir to the galaxy’s most powerful empire Prince Osvai balances deference to rigid Kyleri customs with his desire to explore the forbidden secrets of the Royal Baths, and the dark desires no prince should have.

But when a mysterious stranger from the Outer Verge turns up to work with his ambitious Uncle Viscamon, Osvai’s temptations lead him into a web of intrigue that could change the Galactic Balance forever.

As Sanya, Daeron and Osvai pursue their forbidden desires, they become entwined in a galactic power struggle stretching from the frozen tundra of Jansen to the searing memories of Captain Ales’ lost homeworld, Teva.

They’ll soon discover all love has consequence, and the more forbidden the desires, the more deadly the pursuits.

After the brilliant first installment of the series, I was really looking forward to “Forbidden Pursuits”.

I’m not sure if this works as a standalone, tbh. You probably shouldn’t have too much trouble following the plot, since this is set on a different planet, with different protagonists. But you will definitely miss out on some of the finer nuances of the plot, if you lack the background knowledge of book one. So I’d recommend you read “Siege Weapons” first to get the full experience.

Jiwani is a fascinating planet and the author obviously put a lot of thought into the Kyleri culture. The world-building was extremely well done and it was a lot of fun to discover all the details. It’s quite an unusual culture, where noblemen meet up in the public baths and do their business completely naked. And yet they follow a very strict moral code and homosexuality is frowned upon. A gay crown prince would be a huge scandal, so life isn’t too easy for Osvai. I liked the clothes the Kyleri men wear. One of my favourite scenes was when Osvai was getting dressed for an official speech, which is quite the procedure, with countless layers of silk wrappings.

One thing about the world-building had me confused, however. Homosexuality and infidelity are very much frowned upon and yet there are male pleasure slaves that are trained to have sex with other men. This happens quite openly and it just didn’t fit with the strict morals the emperor enforced.

I liked Osvai from the beginning. He probably lost his virginity in the absolutely most unromantic way I’ve ever come across in a book and I loved it. Unlike so many royals in fiction, Osvai is perfectly fine with his role as a future emperor and tries very hard to not let his uncle overpower him.

Daeron is very different and I didn’t particularly care for him. He was irresponsible and very selfish. All he ever seemed to do was complain, have sex with a random stranger or masturbate. He’s a prime example of a man who’s led by his dick.

Just like in book one, there’s a lot of sex. Some of the scenes with Daeron and random strangers weren’t very appealing to me. Sex in a stinky public restroom, bent over the toilet bowl, just isn’t my idea of sexy. And there was one sex scene that was at least dubiously consensual. It didn’t directly involve Osvai or Daeron, but Osvai was a very enthusiastic spectator.

There was a bit more romance than there was in book one and the sex in general isn’t as rough. I have to admit, I didn’t quite feel the attraction between Osvai and Daeron, though. It wasn’t a major part of the novel, however, and only happened toward the end.

Overall, “Forbidden Pursuits” was good but not as good as part one of the series. But it has made me very curious about the next installment. Even though only one of the characters from the first book gets a short scene here, the overall plot is getting moved forward quite a bit.

Again, this is not a romance novel per se. It’s SciFi with gay protagonists that have a lot of sex, but it’s not erotica either.

I like the cover by Natasha Snow. It fits the story and matches the cover of book one very well.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details: Kindle Edition, 164 pages

Published December 3rd 2018 by NineStar Press

New Book Release Blitz for Blackwood (Perth Shifters #1) by Pia Foxhall

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
Length: 93,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Blurb
 

In a world that is still getting used to shifters, where everyone thinks omegas are second class citizens, nature photographer and omega Braden Payne lets everyone think he’s a beta. That way no one gives him a hard time and he doesn’t have to live a repeat of his failed relationship. But when his car breaks down in the remote Blackwood forest in Western Australia, without the medication that lets him hide who he is, he’s faced with what he fears most: an unmated alpha.


Government forest guardian and alpha Coll MacDubhar is tired of illegal loggers, foolish tourists and people who underestimate the wilds of Western Australia. He discovers Braden lost and in need of medical assistance in the forest he protects and knows something’s not right.


But there’s hidden depths to Braden that capture his interest, and no decent alpha would walk away when Braden’s unwelcome past comes to visit.

 
Author Bio



Pia Foxhall is a queer, nonbinary and disabled Australian author who lives in the most isolated major city in the world – Perth, Western Australia – with two rescue cats. Much of their time writing is spent working on the Patreon-supported Fae Tales serial, a dark fantasy BDSM erotica epic that has been in production for many years. They’ve always been fascinated with all types of trauma recovery stories, and they like their character’s comfort to be earned, and the growth to feel real, and need a happy ending after that trauma recovery!

 
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A MelanieM Review: Ripe: Letters by Alan Semrow

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

 

Funny, sexy, evocative, and brutally honest, Ripe is Alan Semrow’s ode to relationships with men. In this epistolary book, Semrow writes to the men who have impacted his outlook, reminded him of basic life lessons, surprised him in more ways than one, and left him reeling for days. Writing to one-night-flings, men he has never met, and men he’ll never stop running into, Semrow touches on some of the most constant human themes—love, lust, desire, and the yearning for connection. All the while, the book details a man’s journey navigating and blooming by way of the modern gay scene. Readers will find familiarity and hard truths in Semrow’s statements about the intricacy and explosiveness of the intimate moments we share.

I honestly thought that reading someone’s letters written to men that they’d met and slept with  would come with, well, more introspection, more self examination in depth and less self frippery. Instead of getting the feeling that the author has spent real time pondering these man and their impact upon the direction his life took, the reader comes away thinking Semrow was writing his hookup version of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank you notes.   These letters read just that shallow.

And about as sexy and funny.

Each with a title such as Dear Sunday, Dear Flannel, Dear Only Child, they all quickly blend together into one familiar narrative. The author meets someone or arranges to hookup with someone, they go to bed, he leaves thinks about him/them, letter over.  On and on.  If you are looking for sexual details, yo can skip that too.

Ripe: Letters just comes across more as someone keeping track of all the men he slept with or couples and then making a note next to them.  “Liked him, would do him again”.  ‘Nice sex, he made me smile.’

Something you might expect to see in a little  black book (do they even have those anymore?), or a diary.  Certainly not anything of enough heft for a book, not in this format, at any rate.  Might have been funny but again, not as the   letters posted here. Perhaps instead of posting letters, the author will reflect on the whole, wait a while, and find a new path for an narrative adventure.

Cover art is cute.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Kindle Edition, 127 pages
Published October 1st 2018
ASIN B07HY4MYR1

In Our Author Spotlight: Ripe: Letters by Alan Semrow

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Ripe: Letters

by 

Published October 1st 2018

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alan Semrow here today to talk about his new release Ripe:Letters. Welcome, Alan.

✒︎

Alan Semrow on Writing His Latest Book, Ripe: Letters

I started writing Ripe, my new collection of letters to men, at the end of the winter of 2018. The whole concept had been something I’d been playing with for some time, but, really, the impetus for these pieces came out of an opportunity that presented itself out of nowhere. I was approached by Christopher Heide at Chosen Magazine to contribute some stuff to the magazine. I’m rarely one to turn down such an offer, but I had been starting to think I was suffering from a bit of writer’s block.

See, my first book, Briefs, a short story collection had come out in 2016. At the time of its release, I felt pretty far removed from those stories—I was very ready to tell people that I wrote these stories when I was young, which is true, and that I was living a totally different life than I had been while writing Briefs.

After the release of the book, I really struggled with writing a follow-up (there were probably three or four books written in between Briefs and Ripe, but none of them sufficiently conveyed what I wanted to convey). Like I said, my life was totally different. I lived in a new, much bigger city. I’d made tons of new friends. I’d also had some very real experiences with a wide array of men. And I wanted to write about it—about coming of age in the city and the moments I shared with people who ultimately ended up shaping the last few years for me.

But how? Could I mask it all in a fictious veil? Could I straight up just write a memoir? How could I approach it in a way that felt new and different, but also allowed me to convey my point of view?

That’s where the opportunity at Chosen came into play. This was a nonfiction publication, so, yes, I’d have to write nonfiction. So, I wrote one piece called “Right Where You Left Me,” which is basically a celebration of these very specific moments I’d had over the course of two years. It went over well.

And then 40-plus letters followed VERY quickly. To me, the letters summarize these very particular experiences I’d had—they pay tribute to people that I’m ultimately glad to have spent that time with. And they do so in a way that’s positive and humorous and joyful and super sexy. I wanted to create something that was an ode to these situations I’d found myself in. But I also wanted to put out something that reflected the many ways my life had changed over really only a couple years.

I’m happy to say I’m proud with the end result. I think it does just what I wanted it to do. And I think whoever reads this will find themselves relating. It’s about the tender, sexy moments we spend with people. It’s about longing for human connection. It’s about allowing yourself to be affected (and vulnerable) when it feels right. It’s all what makes us human.

About Ripe

Funny, sexy, evocative, and brutally honest, Ripe is Alan Semrow’s ode to relationships with men. In this epistolary book, Semrow writes to the men who have impacted his outlook, reminded him of basic life lessons, surprised him in more ways than one, and left him reeling for days. Writing to one-night-flings, men he has never met, and men he’ll never stop running into, Semrow touches on some of the most constant human themes—love, lust, desire, and the yearning for connection. All the while, the book details a man’s journey navigating and blooming by way of the modern gay scene. Readers will find familiarity and hard truths in Semrow’s statements about the intricacy and explosiveness of the intimate moments we share.

About Alan Semrow

Alan Semrow’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been featured in over 30 publications. Apart from writing fiction and nonfiction, he is a professional copywriter, a monthly contributor at Chosen Magazine, and a singer-songwriter. Previously, he was the Fiction Editor for Black Heart Magazine and a Guest Fiction Editor for the Summer Issue of Five Quarterly. Semrow’s debut short story collection, Briefs, was published in 2016. Ripe is his second book. Semrow lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Purchase Ripe: https://www.amazon.com/Ripe-Letters-Alan-Semrow/dp/1723761680

Semrow’s Blog: https://alansemrowriter.wordpress.com/

A MelanieM Review: Safe Harbor by David O. Sullivan

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Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

Best friends since they were children, Mikhail and Solomon later took their friendship to the next level. But they have a falling out after a horrible mistake.

Seven years later, the men are reunited on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean where they both work as waiters. The animosity between them runs deep, but the close quarters at sea bring them back together, with a little help from a fellow shipmate.

Can Solomon and Mikhail move beyond the mistakes they made in the past and rekindle what they had? Or are they fated to only being friends?

How many ways can a author sink a story?  Let me count the ways….

In Safe Harbor by David O. Sullivan the author’s choice of adjectives in describing his characters looms as number one Sullivan’s favorite word when it comes to Mikhail is whimpering. Mikhail enters a meeting late whimpering, he whimpers upon encountering Solomon, he just whimpers all over the place.  Is the author just not aware of the imagery he’s projecting onto his poor character?  Unfortunately, I just ran across another  author with a similar bent who kept describing his main character as sniveling.  Smh!  Do these people not own a dictionary?  Who does that to main characters and why do they think readers will then find them attractive?  Questions, questions.  Plus why didn’t an editor catch that?

Anyway, while poor Mikhail is whimpering away, Sullivan has done an equal injustice to Solomon.  Both men are of the Jewish faith which is clearly of deep importance to them now and growing up.  However, in bringing into Solomon’s dialog some Jewish or Yiddish slang the character comes across more like a 50’s comic or character from a Borscht Belt comedy act or an actor in the plays in  the summer resorts of the Catskill Mountains in the 50’s and 60’s.  It’s a constant rain of ‘Schmucks’ from his lips. You’re a Schmuck, he’s a Schmuck, everyone’s a Schmuck.  Talk about tiresome.  Everyone here is a cardboard character of little to no depth.

Some authors can and have beautifully folded in the Jewish culture, language, religion, and, yes, phrases, into a story effortlessly.  This is not that book.  Here it is jarring and one-dimensional.

Even a rabbi, a fire, and Hanukkah is used, poorly, to illustrate a “miracle” on board and to bring the men back together.  It’s actually cringeworthy.

Often when I say I  couldn’t get to the end quick enough, I mean that in a great way.  I raced to the end because I was so in love with everything that the story flew by.

Here it’s the exact  opposite.  I just wanted it to be over.

How sad.

Cover art is adorable.  How I wish the book reflected what was going on in that cover.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 53 pages
Published September 29th 2018 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07H81K7KB
Edition Language English