A Lila Review: Object of Desire by Dal Maclean

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Disclaimer: If promiscuity, open relationships, or perceived cheating are deal breakers for you, this isn’t your book. 

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tom Gray is one of the world’s top models–an effortless object of desire.

Self-contained, elusive and always in control, he’s accustomed to living life entirely on his own terms.

But when Tom comes under suspicion in the gory death of his employer, his world spirals into chaos.

Someone’s framing him. Someone’s stalking him.

And as old secrets come to light, Tom finds his adversary always one step ahead.

Will Foster is the only man Tom trusts to help. But Tom brutally burned all bridges between them two years before, and Will paid a bitter price.

If he wants to survive, Tom must prove his innocence to Will–and to the world.

Object of Desire should not be confused with a romance novel. It is a well-written mix of police procedural and a thriller with romantic undertones. I used the same disclaimer than above when reviewing Bitter Legacy and it applies here quite well. By the way, I didn’t make the connection between the two books until I was done reading. And to be clear, there’s no need to read them one after the other. They just complemented each other.

In this story, we don’t get to see Will and Tom falling in love and having a fairytale HEA. We get to accompany them in their search to uncover the reasons behind the collapse of Tom’s life and are witnesses to all the machinations and actions that resulted in a new path to their worlds. There’s a lot of exposure at the beginning of the story and it doesn’t stop until the end. I would have been happy with a bittersweet ending too.

Dal Maclean knitted a wonderful set of characters with deep backgrounds and interrelations. We are given enough information to make our own conclusions and to switch those conclusions with every new piece of information presented. There’s not one single suspect or lead to followed. It is a complex web of possibilities that keeps the reader guessing until the last minute. Only to have them question if they arrived at the right conclusion.

The plot leads change often enough to make the story engaging. The reader is always trying to figure out if they have the right players and set of events right, or if they have been misled. Trying to figure out the end gets harder with each page, and there’s no way to know until the last part of the story. Anything before that would be wrong, and even then, it’s hard to know if you are correct.

All the descriptions, from clothing, decorations, smells, locations, food, etc. added to the flavor of the story. Cars, traffic, day & time, weather, and many other items make Object of Desire more than a tale and more of an experience. I’m glad to see the author didn’t Americanize this book either. There’s no need to provided comparisons about the two country systems or explain terms or phrases. It makes the whole package credible and authentic. I would love to hear the audiobook to be further submerged in this world.

The characters were marvelous, sophisticated, and intricate.  I do have a sweet spot for Nick and I need to accept is due to the great work the author did to bring him to life. He’s definitely my favorite. At the same time, it was hard for me to warm up to Tom. Which is also due to a great characterization by the author. Unfortunately, it’s the reason why this is not a perfect five stars’ book for me; even if the overall book is stellar. Every other character in between has a purpose, a story, and is more than a generic name on a page. I’m still impartial about Will.

If you are not used to complex books with intense psychological turns, this book can be overwhelming. But, at the same time, it’s rewarding to get to the end to understand how everything comes together. It would definitely make a great TV movie or show. It has the potential to be more than a once read.

The cover by KaNaXa matches the previous book by this author and it has the same issue. At first glance, it’s hard to understand the content of the cover. Especially if looking at a thumbprint. When taking the time, all the elements are present in the story.

Sale Links: Blind Eye | Amazon | Nook 

ebook, 396 pages
Published: May 22, 2018, by Blind Eye Books
ISBN: 1935560549 (ISBN13: 9781935560548)
Edition Language: English

Memorial Weekend. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Memorial Weekend.

We Remember.

That’s what this weekend is all about. What it was created for.  After the Civil War was over, Decoration Day came about to honor both the dead of the  Union and Confederate. Now we know it as Memorial Day, remembering those that have fallen, given service to their country, honoring our dead by keeping them alive in our memories, in our hearts and our thoughts.

Living near Washington, DC, Memorial Day and Weekend’s true meaning is never far away.  Rolling Thunder roars past my parents place every year on it’s way to the District.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial remains for me the most haunting and striking memorial in the District.  The WWII and Korean War Memorials will be visited heavily.  And Arlington Cemetery with its white sea of uniform tombstones stretching for miles and the incredibly moving Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, with its changing of the Guard ceremony, will be overflowing with visitors (families of those buried there and those just paying their respects).  I will be there too.  It’s a family tradition.

My father recently returned to Arlington to visit family buried there.  I forgot it had been a while since his last visit.  He stood stunned by the vista before him.  Arlington has had to expand it’s boundaries since the last time he was there.  The tombstones now spread  out before him like a vast ocean where before my father remembered nothing but trees and meadows.  It was heartbreaking.  What could we say?  So many deaths. So many to remember.  And honor.

For many, it’s a time to celebrate with family and friends.  Picnics and parades, bbq’s and cookouts.

But take time to remember.  And perhaps if you see someone in their military uniform, you might want to thank them for their service now.  I think they will appreciate it.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Weekend.  #WeRemember

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 27:

  • Memorial Weekend. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A Lila Review Object of Desire by Dal Maclean

Monday, May 28:

  • Release Blitz – Murder in New York by C.J. Baty
  • DSP Promo Julia Talbot
  • Blog Tour – #IsHeHereYet: Being the person you want to be with by Dr Tony Ortega
  • A MelanieM Review: The Lonely Dragon by Anna Lee
  • An Ali Review Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm​ by ​Hans M Hirschi ​
  • An Alisa Review: Veiled Dominance by Evelise Archer
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Consumption of Magic (Tales From Verania #3) by TJ Klune and Michael Lesley (Narrator)

Tuesday, May 29:

  • DSP Promo JL Langley on My Fair Captain
  • Cover Reveal, for Ari McKay’s Absence of the Sun (Blood Bathory #2)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Riven by Roan Parrish
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: My Fair Captain (Sci-Regency #1) by J.L. Langley
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Love You So Madly (Love You So Stories #2) by Tara Lain
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: The Quarterback by Mackenzie Blair and Greg Boudreaux (Narrator)

Wednesday, May 30:

  • Book Blast Just A Year by Jena Wade
  • A Lucy Pre release Review: My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter)by TA Moore
  • A VVivacious Review: A Love to Remember, by Sarah Hadley Brook
  • An Alisa Review: Snow Cat by Edward Kendrick

Thursday, May 31:

  • Harmony Promo Shirley Anne Edwards
  • A Caryn Review : Mason and the Dog Wrangler” by CL Etta
  • A Lucy Review: Where Do I Start? (Why You? #1) by Chase Taylor Hackett
  • An Ali Audiobook Review:  Bobby Green (Johnnies # 5) by Amy Lane and Gomez Pugh (Narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review The Solstice Prince (Realms of Love #1) by S.J. Himes and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Friday, June 1:

  • Blog Tour: The Curse by Kethric Wilcox
  • Cover Reveal- Overtime by V.L. Locey
  • DSP Promo Julia Talbot
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Recruit by Addison Albright
  • A Lucy Review: And the next Thing You Know . . . (Why You? #2) byChase Taylor Hackett
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Wight Mischief by JL Merrow

Saturday, June 2:

  • RELEASE BLITZ for Waiting in the Wings (Upstaged #2) by S. L. Danielson
  • Release Blitz  – Three-Man Advantage by Ariel Bishop

A MelanieM Review: The Gallery: The Permanent Collection (The Gallery #1) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Welcome to the Gallery, where powerful beings enjoy peace, quiet, and the company of each other, where they are free to love as they choose, be it one, many, or anything in between.

The Permanent Collection comprises those paintings which never leave the Gallery. The beings within these paintings have bargained with the Curator to stay on forever in return for gifting him their powers, resources, or knowledge. They help the Curator in running the Gallery, and provide sustenance for the Curator.

Today’s featured pieces include: The Assistant, about a lonely, misunderstood young man and the unusual new job he is offered by the mysterious curator; The Tycoon is about a rough and powerful man who went missing several years ago, and has every intention of remaining so; Three Kings once walked away from their kingdoms, and now spend their days with each other; The Bastard Son is about a man who once fled betrayal and heartache, and now uses his deadly skills and famous sword to defend the Gallery. And in The Demon Slayer, an angel arrives to find the gallery under attack, and soon one demon is slain while another falls…

I have always loved this concept.  The idea of pictures actually being alive and here Megan Derr carries it into an unusual gallery.  This is the first Collection with another installment in the works.  This one introduces us to Rex upon his entrance into the Gallery.  And as he starts to understand it’s peculiarities and occupants, so do we.  It’s also presided over by one very special owner.

Rex, who’s identity is key here becomes a thread that ties all the paintings together, along with its owner.  It’s a unifying touch that pulls all the stories together as a whole, as well as creates a foundation for the set to follow.  I truly loved Rex and wished we knew more of his background.  Perhaps that’s coming still in the Semi-permanent Collection Gallery of Stories to follow (the one that he originally played a part in).

Each painting forms very quick tales of passion and love, flashes of depth (a man alone in a tower) to a twist  on King Arthur to three Kings…all different in taste.  I wanted more of some, not of others.  But with another book to come and an overall arc appearing, I’m hopeful that I’ll see more of these occupants as well.

This us just such a juicy novella…it wets your appetite for more.  More of these fascinating paintings, more of the owner and Rex of course.  And more from Megan Derr.  You just can’t go wrong.

Cover art:  Aisha Akeju.  Not a fan.  Most of the paintings in the gallery are formal and this should have reflected that.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Author’s Note: A few of these stories were freebies on my website. All have been edited for re-release and some, like The Tycoon and Three Kings, have undergone significant changes.

Kindle Edition, 65 pages
Published May 9th 2018 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
ASINB07CQ1SXBZ
SeriesThe Gallery #1

Book Blast for His Wildest Dream by Xander Collins (excerpt)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: His Wildest Dream: A Portville Mpreg Romance

Author: Xander Collins

Publisher: Self Published

Genre/s: Mpreg, Non-shifter Omegaverse,

Length: 46,300 words

It is a standalone with a HEA in a series.

Goodreads 

Blurb

Dreams really do come true …

When Daniel goes into a debilitating super-heat while delivering a package to the office of one of the wealthiest men in town, he is horrified. It’s not like any other heat he’s had before, and he finds out it could have been caused by some very compatible pheromones.

Those of billionaire Cameron Styles.

He can’t fathom that Cameron could be interested in a young, poor omega like him, but when he’s asked to move into Cameron’s penthouse condo, he can’t turn down the chance to live out some of his dreams.

Cameron has hidden himself away in his penthouse ever since his omega partner was killed in an accident. He has made sure to not come into contact with anyone who might set off his powerful alpha hormones, or touch his heart.

Until Daniel walks into his office, that is.

After Cameron inhales Daniel’s scent and sees the sweetness in his eyes, he can’t get him out of his mind. But he’s afraid of love and pain, and most of all, of scaring an innocent omega with his depraved desires.

Can two people from different backgrounds let go of the pain in their pasts and come together to find the love they’re searching for?

His Wildest Dream is a Cinderfella-style romance of 46k words. It includes a May/December relationship between a sweet, virgin omega from a poor part of town and a reclusive billionaire single dad, and is served up with a big side of kink.

It is a very sweet, incredibly hot mpreg romance with kids, babies, a lavish wedding, and a super-HEA that will have you smiling from ear to ear.

Excerpt

Suddenly, that distinctive scent that was in the air when I walked into the office completely surrounded me like a warm, fuzzy blanket. The deep, rich woodsy scent with the touch of sweetness and coziness felt like it was closing in on me and whisking me away. I could feel the scent swirling around me, as if it were something real that I could touch. The scent tickled my skin and moved against it softly, causing every hair on my body to stand on end.

But that wasn’t all that was standing on end. I was suddenly rock hard as that incredible scent entered me. It was so overwhelming and distracting that I couldn’t remember where I was or what I was doing there. I could barely stand up straight, so I moved over to the glass desk to steady myself.

I’d never experienced anything like it in my life. I felt hypnotized, not only by the overpowering scent of the man who had just entered the room, but by his piercing eyes. It was as if I’d fallen into darkness and the light in his sea blue eyes was the only thing I could see at the end of a tunnel. An incredibly strong feeling of longing inside me tugged at my heart, urging be toward the light in those eyes.

It felt like we’d both been standing there staring at each other for hours, but really it was probably just a few seconds. I saw the alpha’s mouth moving but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. His eyes were the only thing I could focus on. They were so bright and sharp, and I wanted to do anything and everything they told me to do. And I swear, the alpha’s eyes were telling me to come to him.

I kept thinking, Just take me now. Please, take me now. I couldn’t move my mouth to form the words, so I just pleaded with my eyes. I begged him to take me right there and then. But he didn’t. My brain screamed NO! when he turned and walked back through the door.

In my haze I heard the woman say, “Yes, Mr. Styles,” then felt I hands squeeze both of my arms.

That was Cameron Styles? The alpha that had just left me in this state? I repeated his name over and over in my head, and each time I said the words, a wave of tingles flooded through me. I finally realized the woman was still gripping my arms and it took every ounce of strength I had to look away from the closed door where he had disappeared.

“Are you okay?” the woman asked. “Do you need a glass of water?”

When my eyes finally moved so that they were looking at hers, I snapped back to reality—or as close to reality as I could be in that moment. I suddenly realized there was sweat pouring down my face and back and my mouth had gone completely dry.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About the Author 

Xander Collins write super sexy, romantic omegaverse stories with the warm fuzzies, hot dudes, and cuddly babies we all crave.

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Release Blitz – Ice Fairy 3: Coming Together by S. L. Danielson (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Ice Fairy 3: Coming Together

Author: S. L. Danielson

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Dan Skinner

Genre/s: contemporary m/m, new adult, romance, swapping partners

Length:  55,551 words/166 pages

Release Date: May 25, 2018

Goodreads

Blurb

Sexy sparks fly when four best friends become roommates… and more

With Olympic Gold in his possession, Sam is the newest darling of the skating world. Brett does his best to be supportive but the brighter the light shines on his boyfriend; the more he is left in the shadows. Cracks appear and the relationship begins to break down.

Their friends try their best to assist however they can. Their advice and support is crucial when Brett suspects Sam’s creepy agent is up to no good; and even more so when a dastardly plot by Sam’s own father is uncovered.

Can this couple finally come to terms with fame and find the peace they crave? An offer by Ryan and Caleb might provide the answers they seek…if they’re brave enough to take a leap of faith.

Is it too late for Brett and his precious Ice Fairy or can they come together?

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Brett curled up on the couch in the basement; waiting for Sam to return from the bathroom. He’d muted the movie they were watching, “Star Trek; Into Darkness.” It’d become one of their new favorites in the very brief hours that they usually had together now. It was the only saving grace for Brett, who felt not only very left out of Sam’s newly found fame; he felt cracks forming in their nine month old relationship.

He had to chide himself for feeling and sounding like a woman to himself; a woman who missed her man more than anything and wished that they could have a lot more time together. But that just wasn’t happening. Not with how things were now. Brett was in college and was luckily on spring break. But it was only a week. What was a week in the life of his now very famous lover? The one that people called incessantly, especially his agent, or was it his accountant? Maybe his now very famous coach too? Or was it a reporter again?

Whoever the fuck it was, Brett wished they would vaporize. He wanted Sam to himself this evening, if they didn’t mind, thank you very fucking much!

After a grunt of a breath, Brett tried to stave off the headache that gnawed at every muscle and nerve in him. Why did it have to be this way? Everything before the Olympics had seemed so simple. They were a couple of guys in love, just living happily, going to college, skating, having some laughs, seeing their friends, and having sleepovers.

In fact, things had been awesome with Sam’s life; his father had apologized for all that he’d done and said; which wasn’t taken very seriously at first, but he’d convinced them and was back living at home with his wife and daughter. His now very famous son, Sam, was able to buy his own place if he wanted to. He stayed with his folks on a limited basis; the rest was traveling, making appearances, etc. But they weren’t with Brett at his side.

That, worst of all, tore at Brett’s heart. Jealousy. Suspicion that someone else would get to Sam’s heart the way he had, but maybe just did it way better, sans the teasing and tripping and bullying. Would he lose Sam to his newly found fame? It was heading straight to his beautiful head; and Brett hated every bit of it.

With every second that Sam was away from him lately, even though it’d been only two months since the Olympic win and their lives had changed forever…Brett missed his boyfriend. Even now, he wished they could spend the whole week together, uninterrupted; but he knew that was a pipe dream.

He grabbed a throw pillow and leaned his jaw on it, waiting for Sam’s return. As if he’d wished for it, he heard the door close and felt Sam’s strong arms around him once again.

“Hey, handsome.” Sam straddled over Brett’s lap, after he’d ditched the pillow of course, and they kissed deeply.

Now this was more like it! Holding Sam, getting to touch him, kiss him, taste his lips and his face, feel his body, and savor every cell of him.

“Mmm, there’s my Sam. I get to have you in my arms for more than a few minutes.” Brett was trying to be a good sport about all of this and to take his lover’s fame in stride. It was still tough, though.

Sam sat back and pouted. Boy, did that guy have such adorable expressions even when he was pouting. “I’m here right now, Brett. No one’s calling or bugging me. You have me all to your heart’s content.” He leaned in and kissed Brett again; they hung on for a long time after.

Well there was a small blessing anyway; not once had he heard Sam’s phone. Of course, it was likely on silent after the looks he got last time. They’d been interrupted no less than a dozen times on their last date. He could see a few; but that much? Hell no. He figured Sam likely took care of the messages while he was in the bathroom for almost ten minutes.

Putting aside his harsh thoughts on the whole situation, Brett just wanted to soak up all he could of his love. He held Sam close. “Stay with me? My folks are good about us being here; you know that. Hell, they buy breakfast for us sometimes.” He’d do anything to keep Sam there with him just that much longer.

“Brett…”

Shit, not this again. The now famous “I’d love to but I’ve got a…” fill in the blank from there. Photo shoot? Interview? Public appearance? This has gotten too old too fast.

“I know, I know,” Brett digressed. “We can be quick about it though; or just sit down here and hold each other under the blankets.” He waggled his brows. “Naked of course.” He held his lips open, so unsure of what Sam’s reaction would be, he wasn’t sure if he should smile or frown at this point.

“Brett… you know I want to…” Sam responded slowly, his dark eyes just peeking out from under his dark hair. There was a ‘but’ coming though; Brett knew it and he expected it. Sam had not been the same since his glorious win and the gold medal that had hung around his neck now dangled between them; not literally, but metaphorically. Though he wouldn’t be at all surprised if Sam wore the damn thing all the time.

“Sam, we don’t have to be out in the open here, we could go to the back bedroom or my room…” he was desperate just to hold his lover again. It’d been nearly three weeks since they’d been together sexually and he was about at the end of his rope. “Dammit, Sam. I need you, alright? I want to make love with you again; it’s been way too long.” He didn’t want to beg; but the situation was that bad.

At first, it looked like Sam would turn him down again, because he didn’t respond. But as the seconds passed and their eyes met, it looked like comprehension finally took hold. Sam nodded.

“Okay. I miss you too, Brett. Very much. Don’t you think I do too? I love sleeping with you and being naked together; it’s one of my favorite things. Time just…”

Brett held up his hand. “I know, baby. I know. But right now we’re here, and we’re good, and I want you.” He held Sam tighter and massaged his tight body. “Damn… am I ever ready.” He smiled and felt his cock pushing on his jeans. “Upstairs or here?”

They kissed deeply and savored each other’s mouths for a long moment before they answered that. It was more of a test to see just how horny the other one was. The answer was: very horny. Sam bucked against Brett and started to unbutton his shirt. “Down here. I couldn’t run all the way to your room.”

About the Author 

S. L. (Stephanie) Danielson began writing at the tender age of five. She knew it was her calling from the moment she put pen to paper. In her teens she began writing alternative works and the genre stuck. She created ever more elaborate tales and finally in her early 20’s years began to create works with her new love; male/male romance. She has since written more than 30 works (both solo and collaborations).

Stephanie is classically trained in business, accounting, and HR/training, possessing both an undergrad and graduate degree. She also owned and operated Romance First Publishing where the ultimate goal was to help other unknown, as well as known authors get their start in the publishing world.

Beyond writing, her other hobbies include: painting, gaming, and spending time with her husband and two cherished cats.

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: War Paint (States of Love) by Sarah Black

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

There’s an art to love.

Mural artist Ben has come from Tel Aviv to Atlanta to work on a commission. A successful artist, he’s still lonely and isolated after his family’s rejection. Ben is charmed and surprised when local soldier Eli mistakes him for homeless, and brings him a cup of coffee and a biscuit. This gesture opens the door. Eli is lost, trying to make sense of a future without the Army after a combat injury ends his career.

Art gives them a new language and a path forward. But lost men can reach out, desperate to hang on to anyone close. Is what they find together real, and the kind of love that will last?

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

I’ve accepted that I’ll never read a long novel by Sarah Black as she’s written that the novella is her favorite form of story.  Truly length has never really mattered other than my strong wish to spend more time in the universes this author creates and with the characters she brings so vividly to life.

War Paint is a perfect example of why I love her stories so.  Small, encapsulated, yet so fully formed a universe that every building, cafe, street, and benches across that street can easily be envisioned.  And populated with layered, wounded characters trying to find their way through life, one day, one person at a time (see Sarah Black’s guest post on Adaptive Reuse on Young Guys and Old Buildings)*.

Vet Eli feels lost, and not just because of the trauma of losing a limb and the subsequent recovery.  He’s still dealing with the loss of his “warrior self” as well as his limb.  His unusual therapist wants him to keep a diary.  Eli’s character is wounded in multiple ways and the path he takes towards healing and love is remarkable, and (in a 88 page novella) deceptively slow.

An act of kindness has Eli meeting artist Ben and his dog across the street from the cafe Eli haunts.  A conversation becomes a layered, complicated, and oh so lovely relationship that I can’t even begin to attempt to describe.  A sort of yin and yang of need, love, wounds and ability to salve.

Oh, and there’s this automobile building that’s getting repurposed (like so many older wonderful buildings are these days) and is getting a mural as well.  Sarah Black gives us some insight into that process as well.*

This story runs tender, wild, funny, and loving.  All within 88 pages.  It has so much soul.  Love even for the buildings and the man himself who is behind the construction project is treated with a light of respect and a gift.

Small gems like these leave me smiling all day, even more in memory when I spot street art or another building downtown being repurposed and saved.  I’ll remember War Paint.  And Ben and Eli, and a certain therapist.

Yes, I highly recommend this story. And the author.  Oh and check out the free story here at Dreamspinner Press, The Nutmeg King of Marrakesh.  Just amazing!  Yes, another gem.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  Cover is strong but I always wish for a little more here. Maybe something of the building itself.

Sales Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 88 pages
Published May 25th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640806412
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review: Bane (Strain #2) by Amelia C. Gormley

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation. 

Rhys Cooper once thought he was a dead man. Instead, he’s proven immune to the virus that nearly wiped out humanity.

Now the Clean Zone’s scientists want to know why. Summoned for testing, Rhys is about to learn first-hand why his Juggernaut partner, Sergeant Darius Murrell, and the rest of his superhuman comrades in Delta Company don’t trust the uninfected survivors in the Clean Zone–or the remnants of the government that unleashed the epidemic in the first place.

For a decade, Zach Houtman has yearned for his lover, Nico Fernández, but fear of infection has kept them apart. Separately they keep tabs on the last vestiges of the corrupt government, particularly the head of the Clean Zone’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood seeks to unlock the secrets of the Bane virus. But Nico knows how dangerous Littlewood will be if that ever happens.

Zach and Nico now have the perfect bait to draw Littlewood out: Rhys. But Delta Company isn’t about to let Rhys walk into hell alone. They’ll take Littlewood down together, or not at all. Even if they succeed, however, for Zach and Nico one question remains: can infected and uninfected people ever be together safely?

Bane is the second and final installment in the Strain series. As such, it really doesn’t work as a stand-alone. I would recommend you to read the prequel “Juggernaut” as well. Both couples from book 0.5 and book one are back in “Bane” and I think you really need to get to know all four of them to really enjoy this book.

It’s been years since I read “Strain” but it’s a very memorable book and I absolutely loved it. It’s very, very different. “Bane” is much more mainstream. It’s still dark, but there’s no dubious consent. The sex scenes between Rhys and Darius are fewer and not as explicit as in book one. While I’m glad that Rhys has found his peace and is starting to feel more self-confident, I just kind of missed the spark I remember from book one.

Zach made me really angry at times. I kind of understood why he didn’t want to infect himself with the Alpha strain all those years ago. The whole “it’s God’s will” pissed me off. I thought it was really cruel of him to do this to Nico.

The author definitely knows how to write sex scenes. And while it is far tamer than book one, the sex was still really hot.

Once again, the book was incredibly addicting. I just could not put it down and it really had me emotionally invested. While I did have my issues with Zach, it’s always a good sign when I get so emotional over a character’s choices.

There were so many twists and turns and intrigues and secrets, it really had my head spinning. I really did not expect some of these things. I’m actually quite satisfied with the ending. I often have issues with how books end, but this really worked. It’s not exactly a HEA but it does leave you hopeful.

Overall, “Bane” is a great read. While it’s not quite as good as the first two books, I still really enjoyed it. It’s tamer and more mainstream, but still pretty good. If you liked the first two books, I’m sure you’ll like this one too.

The cover matches the other two in the series perfectly. It’s just as dark and creepy and gorgeous.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 240 pages

Published April 20th 2018 (first published September 19th 2015)

A Lila Review: Swings & Roundabouts (The Power of Zero #4) by Jackie Keswick

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Jack Horwood. Vigilante, hacker, security specialist. Partner to Gareth Flynn. Adoptive father to their two teenage boys. Happily juggling long days and short nights.

Gareth Flynn. Ex-army officer. Ace negotiator. Righter of wrongs. Family man. Away from home more often than he likes.

Desperate for a relationship reset, Jack treats Gareth to a romantic getaway and Sweden’s frigid peace gives them the break they both need. But Jack’s a trouble magnet and the next dead body just a wild skidoo ride away.

Can love, teamwork, and trust survive the troubles that follow them around? Can Jack save what’s become so important to him?

Swings and Roundabouts shows the family Gareth and Jack have created during this series. I love Gareth and it’s interesting to see how much he had changed, and at the same time, has stayed the same as he makes Jack his priority. Jack has grown as a person too but his quirky personality still intact.

The story has three parts, not equally divided but well-balanced. The story starts pretty much into Jack’s and Gareth’s day to day routine. With how Nico and Daniel are integrating into regular life and how they are adjusting to the up and downs. The second part includes the romantic getaway, and the last part shows how everything comes together in the end.

There’s a lot of introspect and some self-recrimination from Gareth’s and Jack’s points of view. Dealing with the kids, their jobs, and their relationship is taking a toll on them, but at the same time is making them get closer. They have a great support system which is also present in this story. It’s nice to see everyone back for this installment.

As always, the author descriptions are great. Especially, anything related to food. Once again, this book has made me hungry, even if I’m not adventurous enough to try to half the recipes.  The weather was another nice integration in the story, as well as the small details as clothing and decorations. And the humor it’s on spot as always.

Overall, this is a great addition to the series. I hope this is not the last time we get to enjoy this couple and their band of misfits and adventures.

The cover by Maria Fanning shows all the elements from previous books–colors, silhouettes, and Jack’s tattoo–to create a cohesive cover. Even when it’s not too appealing.

Sale Links:  Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 340 pages
Published: May 13, 2018, by Jackie Keswick
ISBN: 9781717103819
Edition Language: English

Series: The Power of Zero
Book #1: Job Hunt
Book #2: Ghosts
Book #3: House Hunt
Book #4: Swings & Roundabouts

Sarah Black on Adaptive Reuse and her new release ‘War Paint’ (author guest post)

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War Paint (States of Love) by Sarah Black 

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Sarah Black here again talking about her latest story, War Paint. Welcome, Sarah.

♦︎

Adaptive Reuse for Young Guys and Old Buildings

Thanks for letting me visit! When I was writing War Paint, I was thinking about what happens when a door slams shut behind you. You don’t get to transition gradually, get used to the change and settle in to the new place or new role. Sometimes life just kicks us in the butt and slams the door. Retirement, divorce, an accident or injury. For soldiers and other military people, a combat injury not only changes everything today, but may change the future forever. No kids, no career, no ability to support oneself—that’s not easy to swallow at 24.

At the same time I was working on this story, about a young guy who sustains a combat injury and is trying to find a way forward, I was looking at adaptive reuse buildings. I started writing some information articles for an architectural firm to use on their blog, and the more I looked into adaptive reuse, the more I liked it. The idea of saving the old buildings, making them useful and beautiful again, appealed to me deeply. Much of the adaptive reuse is being done in cities, and as the old warehouses and factories are being turned into lofts and small creative businesses, more than just buildings are being rejuvenated and made new again.

This adaptive reuse is more expensive and difficult that simply tearing down the old buildings and putting up new. They have to be changed to support new access and new systems, while keeping their structural integrity and the design elements that people associate with the old. The care and attention, intentionally seeking out a difficult way to work, was very appealing.

But why? It didn’t make sense. Lead paint! Asbestos! Why couldn’t we just sweep those old mistakes under the rug and put up the new and shiny and efficient, with functioning air conditioning? There is just something about the slow, the old, the challenging, choosing to keep the antique and not so efficient—because it is part of our history, it reminds us where we came from, it has—forgive me—the weight of years of stories in the floorboards, the walls. We are more than our potential. We are also where we came from. For me, keeping the old buildings, making them useful again, seems like we are keeping the soul of the old places. And taking responsibility for caring for it.

Somehow my thinking about these characters, one just injured and one injured in the past, melded with the other writing I was doing about adaptive reuse. I wanted to fix everyone, the old buildings, the characters. So then I did something totally off the wall- I put myself into the story. I’m the model for the slightly flaky, totally inappropriate therapist the guys call The Manatee.

The building in the story, the Riviera, is actually an adaptive reuse Buick showroom in Roanoke, Va. It has been made into lofts and artist studios, and is called The Electra after one of the original Buick models. The work done on the old building is beautiful, and it is lovely, a grand old lady- but without a mural! However, the wall of big industrial windows on the side of the building make the artists who work there very happy. I live right up the street, in another adaptive reuse building, in a neighborhood of warehouse conversions and old buildings made new again.

Thanks for reading my story! I hope you like War Paint.

About War Paint

There’s an art to love.

Mural artist Ben has come from Tel Aviv to Atlanta to work on a commission. A successful artist, he’s still lonely and isolated after his family’s rejection. Ben is charmed and surprised when local soldier Eli mistakes him for homeless, and brings him a cup of coffee and a biscuit. This gesture opens the door. Eli is lost, trying to make sense of a future without the Army after a combat injury ends his career.

Art gives them a new language and a path forward. But lost men can reach out, desperate to hang on to anyone close. Is what they find together real, and the kind of love that will last?

Review Tour and Giveaway – Swings & Roundabouts (The Power of Zero #4) by Jackie Keswick

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Length: 100,000 words approx.
 
The Power Of Zero Series
 
Book #0 – The Power Of Zero
Book #1 – Job Hunt
Book #2 – Ghosts
Book #3 – House Hunt
 
Blurb
 

Jack Horwood. Vigilante, hacker, security specialist. Partner to Gareth Flynn. Adoptive father to their two teenage boys. Happily juggling long days and short nights.


Gareth Flynn. Ex-army officer. Ace negotiator. Righter of wrongs. Family man. Away from home more often than he likes.


Desperate for a relationship reset, Jack treats Gareth to a romantic getaway and Sweden’s frigid peace gives them the break they both need. But Jack’s a trouble magnet and the next dead body just a wild skidoo ride away.


Can love, teamwork, and trust survive the troubles that follow them around? Can Jack save what’s become so important to him?


Expect action, drama, and hot romance in book 4 of the Power of Zero series.



May 14 – Megan’s Media Melange
May 18 – RAM PA Group, MM Good Book Reviews
May 21 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews
May 25 – Gay Media Reviews, Book Review By Virginia Lee, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

Author Bio
 

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.


Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.


And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.


For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops, or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:


Website: http://www.jackiekeswick.com
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ctY9RD
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackieKeswick
FB: https://www.facebook.com/JackieKeswick
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jackiekeswick/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jackie-keswick
Queeromance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jackie-keswick/

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