A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Korden finds out his brother Rennett has been found alive after being missing for a year. They had searched for Rennett’s trail after he went missing, but it had gone cold. Korden’s suffered the loss of access to his sibling link, which is limited by distance. His friends and crewmates Sebastian and Sorkel have helped him survive by linking with him in his mindscape. The trust and loving friendship has been a balm to the Captain. Sebastian is a Creole Human and Sorkel is Malorcian. They have been mates for 10 years. Sorkel is the ship’s doctor and Sebastian is the ship’s navigator. Korden will need them more than ever when Rennett is found with permanent physical and mental damage suffered whilst in captivity. There have been Alphas who went mad and reverted to beta or omega status before.

I have read about communication between mindscapes and visible bonds before, but I feel like this was very original in the details. Controlling the mind link with someone is complicated. Obviously eveyone’s mindscape is different. I loved the idea of memories in different boxes, marked by color as accessible or off limits. There are also different colors for the links. I enjoyed the bonding ceremony that changed Korden and Kennett’s bond from siblings to mates; they merge their mindscapes, share memories, and partially heal Renny. But, he’s not completely healed and may never be. The angst of dealing with a mentally ill loved one is difficult for Korden and their friends.

This story is very well done so that I felt the love and bond were already there and mean to be–like all of this was inevitable. Tortured physically and mentally, with permanent damage to his body and mind, no one would take Kennet as a mate. He needs a mate now that he is an omega and may have heats. His mind is already unstable and he’ll need an anchor to help moor him. As Kordan tries to keep Rennent calm, all these memories of their childhood flow through them. It’s clear Rennent has only ever been bonded with Kordan, that they likely would never have mated with anyone else. It is very clear that this is everything Renny has ever wanted, and is done with his consent. Although, it’s also clear due to his status and situation, it could have been done without his consent also. Having Renny’s POV is vital to making this whole book work. Mating links between siblings only seem to be taboo for Alphas of their status, but not unheard of in the rest of the general population on their planet.

Since Renny will need full time care, the four of them move in together on Presidian. Rennent feels overwhelmed that everyone is giving up space travel and changing their careers for him. The author makes it plain that the shared love and need for family drives them all together. With Sorkel being a healer, and having already established trust with Korden and Renny, this also seems meant to be. I should be clear that these are two mated couples who are friends and (at least in this first book) there is no sharing. All of this is well established before Renny experiences his first heat near the end of the book. I feel like this was all a natural progression. By the time it sinks into the start of a power exchange, it seems inevitable. But this hurts Kordan as it’s not in his nature and Renny is terrified his needs will be too much for Kordan. The thing that holds this whole book together is the love and communication between them. So many books use lack of communication as the obstacle. While it’s difficult to be vulnerable and share completely with someone, it’s necessary to explain why particular emotions exist–yes, even when these couples can be in each other’s minds. While this book is complete and could stop here, it does say book one and I have to admit to wanting to see them work out all of their doubts and fears and be more stable and settled. Also, there are other species and worlds to explore, not to mention politics and trade agreements. With Kordan now an Ambassador, there could be more adventures.

The cover was designed by Aisha Akeju. I would guess this is Rennett. While the stars communicate space travel and the inner turmoil as Rennett battles his shame at what has happened to him, and the birth of stars are like a new beginning…I still feel Korden should have been on the cover too. They are a unit.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:ebook, Second Edition
Published January 9th 2019 by Less Than Three Press, LLC (first published January 16th 2016)
ISBN 139781684314126
Edition Language English
Series The Alpha/Omega Verse #

An Alisa Review: Ace of Hearts by Caitlin Ricci

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

Ashton lived for show jumping, until an accident killed his horse, Atreyu, and left him unable to ride. He blames himself for Atreyu’s death and has sworn off horses. Rubbing salt in the wound, his boyfriend and friends were okay with Ashton being ace, but not with his retirement. His mom has purchased him a house with acreage in the hopes that he won’t give up on horses entirely, and a puppy, Leia, but neither is able to pull him out of his depression.

 

Ty lives next door, and it’s a dream come true to find his idol is his new neighbor. Ashton wants nothing to do with him, but being trans in a largely-unaccepting world has made Ty stubborn, and he’s long-used to dealing with people who are hurting, so it’s going to take more than Ashton can muster to push him away.

 

Oh man, did both of these guys have trust issues.  I know it comes with the territory a lot of the time with being ace or trans but they had a hard time letting it go even when reassured or shown they can be trusted.  I liked how stubborn Ty could be as it was just what Ashton needed in his life but I couldn’t help but feel that Ty just quickly fell for the first person who really accepted him.

 

These two but heads more than not at the beginning and it seemed that Ty’s ability to cook Indian food was what won Ashton over.  I was glad Ashton was able to find a balance with horses though didn’t like the fact that he felt he needed to hide to extent of his inability to ride from his mother.  Ashton’s sudden turnaround didn’t work with the beginning of the story for me but I was more than happy for Ty to gain Ashton’s mother as a support when he had been left with none after his grandfather’s death.  I wished we could have seen more of how their relationship continued to build than just down the line where they were now living together.

 

The cover art by Michelle Seaver is nice and gives a cute visual of Leia.

 

Sales Links: Less Than Three Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 34,000 words

Published: September 27, 2017 by Less Than Three Press

ISBN: 9781684310883

Edition Language: English

Andrew Grey on Unique Beginnings and his new story Reunited (author guest post)

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Reunited by Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Hannelore Nistor

Published February 20th 2019

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey here today on tour with his new book Reunited. Welcome, Andrew!
✒︎

Andrew Grey on Story Beginnings…

This story has a unique beginning.  Last year at the Leipzig Book Fair I was speaking with the head of Cursed Verlag, they translate a lot of my work into German.  They have been a wonderful supporter over the years and I wanted to do something special.  So we agreed that I would write a short story for them.  That story is Reunited.  It was published in German first and then would be released in English.  So our German friends got to get it before my English speaking readers.  They really seemed to love the story.  The cover that you see is the German cover.  I wanted them to be the same across both languages.    I really hope you like Reunited and enjoy the story.

Blurb

Back in high school, nobody noticed quiet nerd Kevin Howard.

But everybody noticed handsome, athletic, and ultrapopular jock Clay Northrup.

They had nothing in common and lived in different worlds.

But a lot can change in fifteen years, and when they meet again at their high school reunion, Clay is no longer the big man on campus, and Kevin isn’t hiding in a corner anymore.

Can they put aside who they were? Can one night really lead to forever?

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

Love Romance and Fantasy? Check out the Book Blast for Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling (excerpt)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title:  Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1)

Author: Isobel Starling

Publisher: Decent Fellows Press

Cover Artist: Valentine Pascadian (Lennel)

Genre/s:  Fantasy, M/M Romance

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length:103 600 words/ 556 pages

Release Date: February 15, 2019

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

 

Blurb

After a traumatic event, Winter Aeling finds himself destitute and penniless in the backwater town of Mallowick.  He needs to travel to the city of Serein and impart grave news that will bring war to the Empire, but without a horse, money, and with not a soul willing to help him, he has no choice but to line up with the common folk seeking paid work on the harvest.  

As wagons roll into the market square and farmers choose day laborers, Winter is singled out for abuse by a brute of a farmer.  The only man who stands up for him is the farmer’s beguiling son, Adam, and on locking eyes with the swarthy young man Winter feels the immediate spark of attraction.

Winter soon realizes there is a reason he has been drawn to Blackdown Farm.  The farmer possesses a precious item that was stolen long ago from Winter’s family, and he determines to retrieve it.  He also cannot take his eyes off the farmer’s son, and as the young man opens up Winter can’t help wondering if Adam is just kind or his kind!

 

 

Excerpt

“Apple Boy” by Isobel Starling

CHAPTER 1

MARKET SQUARE

“You boy, aye, YOU.  Ain’t never seen ye round ‘ere before,” The farmer directed his bellow at me.  

It was sunrise, and at last, I’d found the courage to step out of my hiding place and join the common laborers who gathered in Mallowick market square.  We were waiting for the farmers’ carts to come by and choose their day workers.  I’d watched this ritual each morning for the past three days, peeking out from shadowed doorways, or while crouching behind barrels.  

It was harvest time, and it appeared to be routine for peasants to walk from the surrounding hamlets before dawn and assemble in the square to seek work on the farms.  There was wheat, barley, root vegetables, and tree fruits to be gathered before the weather turned. I was informed by a ruddy looking fellow in the tavern that anyone could get work on the harvest, and so, with my pride cut to ribbons and my pockets empty, I’d stepped out of the safety of my hiding place and joined the commoners.

“Does ye wants work or no’?  Look at me when I’m talkin’ to ye.  What’s yer name?” The burley farmer roared.  I looked up, stunned to be singled out from among all of these strapping men and hardy looking women, for I felt invisible.  Four carts had already passed and taken their pick of the young, strong peasants, but none of those farmers gave me a second glance.  I should have known something was afoot, for when this particular wagon turned up the women in the square shrank back into doorways, and men sidled away to lean against buildings.  On the side of the wagon, writ-large in bold off-white letters were the words BLACKDOWN FARM. There were around thirty of us left on view, like cattle.

I had never partaken in manual labor or any kind of work before.  I was a gentleman and far more familiar with spending my days relaxing, reading, attending social events in the city, or taking a horse for a gallop in the country.  But my life had changed since I’d become stranded here in the Pasturelands provincial town of Mallowick two weeks earlier.  Now I was living on my wits.  Each day was a fight for my life, and I’d sold all of my fine belongings, intending to pay for passage on the stagecoach from Mallowick to the city of Serein.  But I had not thought things through, and it did not happen that way.  My body’s needs took precedent. I’d become so ravenous, and therefore the meager coin I’d gathered from selling my finery was spent on what I could afford—basic rough barley bread and ale, just enough to stave off the gnawing pangs of hunger in my belly each day.  Now, I had no belongings, and the money was all but gone. I was no thief, and the only thing I had left to sell was my body. Looking like a wretch, I did not believe I could earn even a copper that way! Before I left on my travels, I was warned that the province of Erias had strict rules about men bedding other men and I did not want to tempt fate.  I was at a loss—hard labor or starvation were the only choices available to me. Gods, if my father could see how far I’d fallen in such a short time, he would be thoroughly ashamed.  I was living hand-to-mouth, and if I dared to seek out my reflection and observe my disreputable state of dress, I was sure I would see I was no longer a gentleman at all.

I assured myself that all would be well as soon as I could get to the city of Serein.  There I would attend my father’s depository and obtain funds from his account—as had been arranged, and then, I could find my way to my uncle’s residence and attend to a much grimmer business.  

So, with no other choice, I was here, standing in Mallowick market square with a bunch of rough-looking fellows and ruddy-faced women with just the ragged clothes I stood in to my name.  I wondered if my visage had taken on the same gaunt, starved, haunted look some of them wore.

“WELL?”  The farmer roared.

“Leave him be Pa; I think he’s a mute.  P… p… please don’t—” A swarthy young man urged, stepping to the farmers’ side.  The man appeared to be in his early twenties, with broad angular shoulders, slim hips, and wavy jaw-length hair that longingly reminded me of Montestein tea.  When the morning sunlight broke through the clouds and caressed him, the strands of his hair revealed all the shades of autumn.  It was beautiful.  His eyes were bright emerald green, and his skin bore the wind-burned tan of a man who spent his days working the land.  I met his gaze for a second that seemed to stop time, and I felt a flutter of longing erupt in my gut. I found myself mesmerized by him.  He appeared a little embarrassed, for himself or for me, I wasn’t quite sure. The farmer turned to his son.

“Shut that filthy mouth o’ yours, apple boy!” he spat.  His large meaty hands twitched.  He sneered and glared at his son in such a wicked way I knew it should have been followed up by a sharp slap.  I worried that the young man would endure further public humiliation at the hands of his father, but the farmer moved his disdainful glare back to me.  I shuddered with fear. I had a feeling that he was saving his son’s punishment for later—away from the prying eyes of the townsfolk. I did not like that thought, not one bit.  I did not know why the farmer was drawn to me, but he sized me up with a sweeping glance of consideration, then wrinkled his nose as if he’d sniffed a revolting stench—I hadn’t bathed in two weeks, so maybe I did smell a tad ripe!

“Is ye a mute?”

I shook my head.  I would say, if anything, I was deeply traumatized by the unfortunate circumstance I’d found myself in, but no, I was certainly not a mute.  I just wasn’t used to a lowly man speaking to me so roughly. Generally, men who dared to address me knew their betters and behaved appropriately.  But here in Mallowick, in the province of Erias, I was no better than a beggar on the street.  There was no one I could call on for favors, no one who, on hearing my family name, would loan me coin for the stagecoach or a horse to ride to the city and send word to my father.  

When I’d first arrived in Mallowick, telling the truth of my station had gotten me dragged down an alley where my finger and earrings were stolen, and I’d received a beating.  This farmer from Blackdown Farm had no idea who I was, and I would not make the same mistake again.

I took a breath and stepped out of line.  “Master Irwin Harding, sir. You may call me Win.”  I winced at hearing my own soft, well-spoken voice, with my accent, the clipped tongue of Thorn.  I had not used my real name and wished I had not used my true voice either.  The fact that I was the son of the Duke of Thorn meant nothing here.  Thorn was west of Erias, on the other side of the Silua Montis Mountain range, and I doubted any of these illiterate souls in Mallowick knew anything other than that folklore passed around by storytellers.

The farmer stepped to stand in front of me.  He was a big, bulky bastard of a man and stank of stale sweat and baccy.  He had a grizzled podgy face and thick dark hair shot with strands of silver pulled into an untidy tail.  The tension grew between us, and I worried I’d spoken out of turn. I looked down and watched my bare, filthy feet as if they held endless fascination.  I’d seen men like him before. He had hands like shovels, and I’m sure they’d done damage in their time. My father would have used a man like him well, probably as muscle to intimidate the city folk while the Royal Chancellor did the rounds collecting taxes.  

Afraid and sweating with anxiety, I glanced up and away, unable to look at the farmer directly and meet his fierce piggy eyes.  Instead, I looked left and caught the eye of his son. I felt another flutter of attraction. I was grateful for it because it dampened my fear a little.  The glance the farmers’ son sent me back was sheepish, apologetic. He shrugged and put a finger to his lips, signaling for me to hush. I’m sure now he knew what was coming.

Master, is it?”  The farmer gave a raspy malevolent chuckle.  “Well, well, well aren’t ye an uppity little scrote.  Such a pretty voice an’ all. Have your balls dropped yet, lad?”  

The townsmen men standing around me shuffled on their feet and snickered uncomfortably.  I could tell from the tentative laughter they were afraid of this man too. My chest tightened with fury, and I felt the flare of heat rush to color my cheeks.  If in Thorn I would have put this fellow in his place, but as directed by the farmers’ handsome son, I held my tongue.  

I dared to look up as the farmer scratched his grizzled chin and consider me.  It was then I saw it. A chill iced my bones. On his chubby right index finger, he wore a gold ring set with a large red gemstone that I was aghast to see held the intaglio engraving of a rose thorn—my family’s seal.  How had this disgusting Pasturelands farmer come upon my family’s ring?  Anger curdled my gut, but I forced myself to focus and fixed my features so as not to alert the man to what I was looking at.  That ring was more precious than I could say. It was not set with any common gemstone, oh no, the setting was Star-fall.  The legend was that mortal tools could not cut the rich-red Star-fall stone.  The gemstone was shaped by sorcery, and the power that carved into the gem was stored inside it as if the Star-fall was a reservoir for the magic.  It was illegal for any other than the Twin Kings of Osia to own Star-fall.  The king’s men had scoured the Empire to remove all traces of the priceless gem from common and aristocratic hands and possessing it was a death sentence.  Did this ruffian have any idea what he wore?

Not getting a rise from me, the farmer stepped yet closer and found out for himself if my balls had dropped.  He reached for my privates and squeezed.

Ahh, ye got some big stones de’re al’right, boy,” he said with a filthy sneer.

“Done any labourin’ before, lad?”  My eyes watered.  I shook my head and winced as the pressure on my most sensitive parts rose.  I wanted to shout and push him away, punch him in that bristly pug face. I’d trained in hand-to-hand combat and swordplay, but that was of little use to me now that I had no sword and was cast as naught but a commoner myself.  I stood frozen to the spot with fear, my cock, and balls in the hand of this brutish man. I was sure that clutching my nethers was not the best way to test if I would be a good apple picker.  

The farmer let go, stepped back, and looked me over again like he was sizing up a prize pig.  I wanted to keel over, hold my sensitive parts and howl, but, with my eyes watering, I kept my back ramrod straight and looked past the farmer, using his son’s regretful, pretty green eyes as my focus.  

I appeared to be a boy, but I am nineteen and about to make my majority.  I have a tall, willowy frame, and little muscle to show for my near twenty summers.  Weeks before, I was clothed in the silken garb of a lordling, but all I wore now were my stinky silk britches and a once-white linen shirt.  I’d even had to sell my fine leather boots. My flaxen hair hung loosely to my shoulders and was bedraggled. My mother had always told me my hair shone like a golden halo.  I guessed that was no longer the case. I had not seen my reflection in two weeks so I could only imagine how frightful I appeared to onlookers. My circumstance was terrible, but I refused to let it defeat me.  I was a son of Thorn, I was a gentleman, damn it, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to do to find my way to my destination and seek justice for all the ill-luck that had befallen me.  

“Right, scrote, up on the wagon,” the farmer declared.  “We can always do wit a few extra scurrier’s fer the windfalls.”

I had no idea what that actually meant, but strangely relieved to be selected, I nodded subserviently and then, ducking my head to avoid the farmers’ glare, I scurried to the wagon where I surreptitiously gave my aching intimate parts a gentle rub.  

I’d heard from a fellow in the tavern that harvesting wheat at Robinswood Farm was backbreaking, as was digging root vegetables at Windy Oakes Farm.  He advised that apple picking was easy work and if I could get employment at Weatherby’s or Blackdown Farm, they paid good coin.  He said the mistress at Blackdown was particularly well-liked and always gave laborers a bread and cheese luncheon with last season’s cider.  I was so hungry that bread and cheese sounded like a banquet. The fellow had neglected to tell me that the farmer was a brute!

The farmers’ son met me by the wagon and offered to help me aboard.  For a moment, from the look of consideration in his eyes, I thought he could see past the disheveled state of me to the gentleman I’d once been.  But that was ridiculous. The farmers’ son hopped up onto the back of the wagon with dexterous athleticism, and then offered me his hands. I took them without a thought.  His warm touch and the strength in those work-roughened fingers twisted my gut into uncomfortable knots. He fixed my gaze as he gripped both of my hands and tugged me up as easily as if he were lifting feather down.  He pulled me closed and pressed me to his hard chest.

“Don’t back chat him or it’ll be the worst fer you,” he whispered the warning to my ear.  Alarmed, I eased back from him and cautiously met his eye for a split second. In the look he gave me I saw that the warning was well-meant.  Bewildered, I nodded in thanks and understanding. I had no idea why this stranger was looking out for me, but the fact he was warmed my heart.  I choked back a tear. No one had looked out for me over these past weeks, and I had been so terribly lonely. I’d learned some hard life lessons on this leg of my journey, and I’d come to understand that here my title was irrelevant, and without money I was suddenly invisible; therefore small kindnesses meant more than I could say.

My adventure into the provinces had been made to appease my father for my supposed ‘lack of direction.’  I’d become bored with my easy life in Thorn, and not intending to marry; I’d told my father that in-light of my upcoming twentieth Bloomsday I wanted to tour the Empire.  If I were to one-day become Duke of Thorn, I needed to know a little of the politics of each province and so, pleased with my initiative and happy to be rid of me for a while, he’d set me on my way.  I’d toured the provinces of Terria, Corvay, and Reuss and then continued to the province of Osia, spending time in the capital city Altea, at the court of the Twin Kings, Kristoff, and Fabian Von Harte.  With this journey to Erias, I was to have the full set of provinces under my belt.  But fate was not on my side.

On benches affixed to either side of the farmers’ wagon sat fourteen men morosely staring at their bare, filthy feet, not a word of chatter between them.  They each owned a small pack of belongings and a wrapped blanket that each had stowed beneath the bench. At this moment they were better-off than me, for I did not even have a blanket to my name.  There was space for me and five more, totaling twenty men. The farmer chose from the remaining laborers with less consideration than I had been afforded.

“Right…  I’ll take Allin, Jed, Arthur, Bartram, and Matty, that’ll do me fer the week,” he hollered decisively.

The week?  I thought I’d promised myself for a hard day’s labor?  But then again, I considered the harvesters who were sitting in the wagon, and yes, they appeared to have prepared for an overnight stay.  Confused, I sat down as the other laborers were pulled up onto the wagon by their comrades, and then we shuffled along the benches until we were all seated.  I noticed the shoulders of the remaining men in the market square sag a little in apparent relief as if some mighty weight had lifted from them. I didn’t understand it.  I thought they’d wanted to work?

The farmers’ son clambered over into the front of the wagon.  His father climbed on, the man’s bulk shaking the timbers of the rickety wagon as he settled on the bench beside him.  The son handed his father the ribbons, which the farmer greedily snatched up, and then with a fearsome bellow of “Geddup” and a thunderous whip crack, the large mottled grey workhorse began its cumbersome trot down the main street and onto the dusty road to Blackdown Farm.

 

About the Author

Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland.  She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.

Isobel is currently working on her nineteenth book.  

“As You Wish” (Shatterproof Bond#1) narrated by Gary Furlong won the Audiobook Reviewer Award for Romance 2018.  It is the first M/M Romance audiobook to win a mainstream audiobook award.

 

Author Links

Blog/Website

Newsletter Sign up

Amazon Author Page

Decent Fellows Press

 

 

BOOK BLAST SCHEDULE

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Charlie Cochrane on Her Fav Reads and her new release Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane (author guest post, tour and giveaway)

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Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Charlie Cochrane back again talking about the latest releases in her Lindenshaw Mysteries, Old Sins.  Welcome, Charlie.

 

🐾

 

 

What Charlie likes to read

Do you have a favourite book? I have many, in all sorts of genres. “The Charioteer” if we’re talking gay fiction, “Death at the President’s Lodging” if it’s mysteries, “Three Men in a Boat” for humour; the list goes on and on through different genre, fictional and non-fiction. Some of these books are a bit of a guilty pleasure, not least because I can see their flaws.

I’m a huge fan of classic age mystery writers; Dorothy, Agatha, Michael, Ngaio and the rest, but they have their feet of clay. Sayers could sometimes overcomplicate plots to the point of obscurity (which reader could really have worked out the sequence of events in Five Red Herrings?) and seems increasingly in love with her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey.  All of these authors shared a falling of their powers in later life – the last few Appleby mysteries are a pale shadow of the early ones – and, of course, all were products of their time, so modern readers might fund things which jar, such as anti-semitic references or the treatment of gay characters in a derogatory way.

Some of these authors reused plot ideas and devices. The classic story of the murderer assuming someone else’s identity, sometimes to benefit from inheritance, occurs again and again with Christie (as do other tried and tested story arcs). Marsh also showed an economy of plot, using the same method of murder both in a short story and again in a full novel. Her “Death and the Dancing Footman” falls into the category of “familiar plot” – the twist is the sort that an avid reader of the genre would soon spot –  but that doesn’t make it any less of a delightful comfort read. A sort of literary equivalent of mulled wine in front of a roaring fire.

The book has several of the staple elements of the archetypal classic age mystery: a country house, a house party cut off by snow, family rivalries, a sealed room death, an outsider who acts as ‘chorus’ and a witty, urbane and aristocratic sleuth, Roderick Alleyn. How I love “Handsome Alleyn” – I wonder if Ngaio loved him, too, like Sayers loved Wimsey. He seems just a bit too perfect at times.

That’s why I’m determined to show that neither of my male leads in the Lindenshaw series are anything less than human. They get angry, they make mistakes, they argue with each other, they make up, they talk about work, they refuse to talk about work…just like any of us. I’m also determined not to fall in love with either of them, although how can I resist falling head over heels for their dog Campbell?

A detective, his boyfriend and their dog. That’s the Lindenshaw mysteries in a nutshell. Old Sins is the fourth instalment in the series, and not only does Robin have a murder to investigate, he and Adam have got the “little” matter of their nuptials to start planning. And, of course, Campbell the Newfoundland gets his cold wet nose into things, as usual.

 

About Old Sins

Past sins have present consequences.

Detective Chief Inspector Robin Bright and his partner, deputy headteacher Adam Matthews, have just consigned their summer holiday to the photo album. It’s time to get back to the daily grind, and the biggest problem they’re expecting to face: their wedding plans. Then fate strikes—literally—with a bang.

Someone letting loose shots on the common, a murder designed to look like a suicide, and the return of a teacher who made Robin’s childhood hell all conspire to turn this into one of his trickiest cases yet.

Especially when somebody might be targeting their Newfoundland, Campbell. Robin is used to his and Adam’s lives being in danger, but this takes the—dog—biscuit.

Available now from Riptide Publishing.

 

About the Lindenshaw Mysteries

Adam Matthews’s life changed when Inspector Robin Bright walked into his classroom to investigate a murder.

Now it seems like all the television series are right: the leafy villages of England do indeed conceal a hotbed of crime, murder, and intrigue. Lindenshaw is proving the point.

Detective work might be Robin’s job, but Adam somehow keeps getting involved—even though being a teacher is hardly the best training for solving crimes. Then again, Campbell, Adam’s irrepressible Newfoundland dog, seems to have a nose for figuring things out, so how hard can it be?

Check out the Lindenshaw Mysteries.

 

About Charlie Cochrane

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Endeavour and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Old Sins one lucky person will win a swag bag from Charlie! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 16, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Blitz for Better Place (Rainbow Place #3) by Jay Northcote

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 48,000 words approx.
 
Rainbow Place Series
 
Book #1 – Rainbow Place – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Where do you go when your home is no longer a safe place?


Alex is about to turn eighteen and is firmly in the closet. He’s been biding his time, waiting to escape to uni, and finally come out away from the oppressive influence of his homophobic father. When he flunks his exams, he’s stuck in the small town of Porthladock—and what’s worse is that he’s working for his dad. The only thing that makes it bearable is Cam.


Cam’s comfortable with his bisexuality, but he doesn’t broadcast it. Young, free, and single, his social life revolves around playing rugby and hanging out with his mates. He’s attracted to Alex, but with the six-year age gap, Cam’s wary of getting involved. Plus, he thinks Alex needs a friend more than he needs a lover, and as their friendship grows, Cam decides he’s not willing to risk ruining it for casual sex.


When Alex’s dad finds out about his sexuality, Alex is suddenly both jobless and homeless. He finds work at Rainbow Place, the local LGBT-friendly café and Cam lets Alex stay in his flat for a while. But Alex would rather be sleeping in Cam’s bed than on his sofa. With them both living under one roof, their feelings for each other grow stronger, and the sexual tension is hard to ignore. Will giving in to it ruin their friendship and complicate things for Alex even more?


Although this book is part of a linked series, it has a satisfying happy ending, and can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.


One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.


Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.


Website
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Jay’s books

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A MelanieM Review: Gage (Redemption #2) by J.J. Harper

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Gage is happy, happier than he thought possible. He has Wolff Mannheim, the man he has always loved, even when he hated him, back by his side and in his bed. He is confident that their relationship can only grow stronger as they continue to rediscover each other.

When a letter appears after twelve years of silence from the family that disowned him and cast him out, he has Wolff to lean on. The contents of the letter have left Gage reeling but also have him reuniting with his estranged sister. When the shocks keep coming, it forces Gage back to his family home—a place he never thought he would return to. At least, this time, he has Wolff by his side as well as his sister.

As Gage faces the man who threw him carelessly away, he proves himself to be the better man, a stronger man, than the one forced away so many years earlier. With all his demons put to rest, can Gage live his life with his one true love?

This is book two in the Redemption Series and follows on immediately from Wolff, book #1.  While it can be read as a standalone, it’s best enjoyed reading in order. Contains some very steamy man-on-man loving and is advised for 18+ only.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to find in the follow up story after reading Wolff, but I found that I actually connected far better to Gage (Redemption #2) by J.J. Harper than I did the initial novel.  As I stated in my review for Wolff, it felt like that story, told by both main characters in alternating povs, was as much about Gage as it was Wolff, so why the title?

Here is Gage it’s clear that the main subject matter is indeed Gage,his past, and any affect it will have on his future with Wolff.  The story  picks up almost immediately after the envents of Wolff and their new commitment to each other.

While this is no instant love (can’t be with their background), it does read as a zero to sixty sort of  “erasing of years of hatred, emotional turmoil, severe nightmarish memories”.   Gage tried to commit suicide over the event that Wolff caused. Now they are humping like adorable bunnies in love.  Yes, that much sex.  They barely make to the office.  Which is where I have another issue with this being an unrealistic story.  Or at least one with flags.

Gage has been newly promoted to partner.  Wolff is a new hire in Gage’s old position.  Gage is now his boss.  So new positions for both men, unequal power distribution for starters, Gage has a admin who not only knows both men but is privy to knowledge that caused all the hurt and devastation to begin with.  And throughout the story, both men seem incapable of keeping their personal relationship separate from their business one. Gage ignoring work, snapping at his admin, giving work to Wolff that should have gone to someone else.  It’s unprofessionsal and the author doesn’t address any of this, which makes both their jobs seem like they are “tv lawyers” with all the authenticity that carries.

My favorite section of the story deal’s with Gage’s past, which returns in a huge way.  I loved the element with his sister and his mother, thought that was well done.

Also as interesting was the continuing threads with the best friends on both sides, Bannon and Theo.  Theo’s is left hanging with lots of speculation and I expect it will be addressed in the next or future stories to come.  The story with Jasper and Bannon and the abusive ex boyfriend was laid down neatly at the end  and i look forward to that one in the next book to come.

I think my issues with both Wolff and Gage is that I expect a little more authenticity within the worldbuilding, that includes contemporary stories.  Make me believe that they are lawyers, have them act professionally.  Same with emotional issues.  I thought the way Gage’s feelings towards his mother was handled beautifully.  Far more realistically than the manner in which he suddenly overcame his “deep seated hatred” of Wolff in the first story.

Other readers won’t have this problem and will love this continuation of this relationship.  With both books out, it’s easy to read one right after the other as they flow nicely together.  I’m looking forward to the next in the series.  If you enjoy contemporary romance, check these out.

Cover art works for Gage.  I like the tones and composition.  Great job.

Sales Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N6CCJ6R

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07N6CCJ6R

Universal link : mybook.to/Gagebk2

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 171 pages
Published February 7th 2019 by Self Publisher
ISBN 139781794164840
Edition Language English
Series  Redemption #2

An Alisa Review: The Romantic by Elodie Parkes

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

When Ethan Goss decides to ease a broken heart by finding a new apartment, he never dreams that he’ll also find the love of his life.

Handsome Luke Kirby loves books so when he finds boxes of old and beautiful tomes in a dusty shop, he can’t resist buying them. To his delight one of them contains what he hopes will bring an end to his loneliness and heartache. As he prepares to cast an ancient prayer-spell to the god of love, across town Ethan Goss decides that moving to a new apartment will ease his broken heart.

With the help of an eccentric real estate agent, gorgeous Ethan goes to a viewing in the block where Luke lives.

When Luke meets Ethan in the lobby, it’s the start of a passionate love affair.

Fate hasn’t finished with the two handsome men—will true happiness evade them both?

Alright, this was an interesting premise and executed pretty well but it just seemed off to me.  I liked Luke’s openness to find love though how he felt so desperate for it after only a couple months was a little desperate and Ethan was kind of the same.

They both had an instant attraction and pretty much jumped in together.  I don’t know but I didn’t feel it, I get that they were pretty much meant to be soul mates but it just fell into place way too easily.  I always love a happy ending but it just came so fast it didn’t work in my head.

The cover art by Angela Waters is nice and I liked the visual of the character together.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 79 pages

Published: January 4, 2019 by eXtasy Books

ISBN: 978-1-4874-2304-9

Edition Language: English

BLOG TOUR Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock (Excerpt and giveaway)

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Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock

Publisher: Rainbow Romance Press

Release Date: February 21, 2019

Subgenre: Contemporary Romance

Order here: Amazon only.

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NGRFKG9

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NGRFKG9

The novella will be only $0.99 on ebook during release-week and tour, February 21-27!

Synopsis:

Jasper is licking his wounds in paradise after being dumped, according to his ex, for someone more adventurous. The romantic Hawaiian getaway for two he booked hadn’t featured his sister as his plus one, but sometimes real life sucks.

For the two weeks he’s there his plans include hot dates with a sun lounger and working his way through the local craft beers. Nothing more.

Until he receives a sext from a wrong number. A mystery yoga instructor offering a private session to teach him the plow, and maybe even get plowed. Jasper’s never had a hookup with anyone before, but perhaps it’s time to prove his ex wrong.

One night with Tamal, no matter how hot it is, isn’t enough, yet that doesn’t change the fact this thing between them can’t last. Because time is running out. Jasper has to leave, has to return to London and real life.

Excerpt 

I had talked myself in then out of meeting up a thousand times. Then back in, because I wanted to see Tamal again – more than I probably should. But then the thought of seeing him again – of what we might do – had my breaths coming far too quickly and my skin itched like it had been stretched too thin. I knew nothing about the man I was meeting apart from the yoga and plowing bit if Tamal and the sexter were one and the same person. If they were then I was worrying unnecessarily because Tamal had been… A sigh escaped as the word ‘everything’ flittered through my mind. Stupid, getting carried away, and I

didn’t know what to wear. What if Tamal expected to give me an actual yoga lesson? What if I’d misunderstood the whole conversation?

My sister texted me to let me know she was having a great time at the waterfalls. So I texted her I was going out for a wander down the beach and would see he in the morning. Not a complete lie but not the whole truth. But some things my sister didn’t need to know.     

My bare feet sank into the sand as I strolled along the water’s edge. The waves crept up the beach and lapped at my feet. Goosebumps erupted up my legs, the water cool now the sun had disappeared. The tops of the waves glinted where the moonlight caught them, and a few stars twinkled like they were winking at me and in on my secret. The further I wandered the

quieter the sounds of the hotel became, to be replaced by the quiet rush of the sea and the high-pitched whistle of the frogs calling to each other that I still hadn’t got used to. Once I passed the bar lounge, there was nothing but palm trees and beach until the sand disappeared beneath a stretch of rocks. I climbed over them to find a single wooden shack with a coconut-style thatched roof, and the only thing visible in the secluded cove. If it hadn’t been for the window that glowed brightly against the inky night sky I’d have thought it was abandoned.

I hesitated. In or out? Told myself it was like a gay rite of passage – had to have at least one hookup in my dating life. And I wanted to see Tamal again. Fuck it. I strode up the beach like I owned the goddamned place. Like I would have done before Sam. Fake it till you make it, right?

Author Bio:

Beth Laycock’s books are influenced by her time living overseas as well as the gritty, urban landscape of the north of England where she grew up. She has been reading romance since she was old enough to tell herself that line every book lover does—just one more chapter.

As a teenager, she attempted to write her first novel, and many more since then are still gathering dust on her bookshelf. It wasn’t until she discovered the M/M genre that her muse showed up and refused to quit telling her stories about beautiful men finding love together. She hasn’t stopped scribbling them down since. Beth’s muse usually shows up when she is in the shower, is allergic to cleaning, rarely lets her watch TV, and insists she drinks copious amounts of coffee so she can turn caffeine into words.

When not writing or reading, Beth can be found procrastinating on social media or being dragged around the English countryside by her dog Freddie.

Author links:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/bethlaycockwrites

Facebook: www.facebook.com/beth.laycock.writes

https://www.facebook.com/bethlaycockauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2188017221465443

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18580707.Beth_Laycock

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BethLaycock_

Website: https://bethlaycock.com

Newsletter: http://bethlaycock.com/newsletter

Pinterest: www.pinterest.co.uk/BethLaycockAuthor

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/beth-laycock

 

Giveaway:

Win a $10 Amazon gift card + an ebook copy of Miracle On Three Kings’ Day by Beth Laycock.

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Release Blitz How Not To Sin (Lovestrong #3) by Susan Hawke (excerpt and giveaway)

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How Not To Sin RDB Banner

How Not To Sin

LOVESTRONG Series, Book 3

Susan Hawke

M/M Romance

Release Date: 02.20.19

SinCover

BLURB


One regular guy who happens to be a preacher…


Reverend Dr. Gabe Samson doesn’t think he’s better than any of the people in his church, so please don’t put him on a pedestal. While he’s never hidden the fact that he identifies as bisexual, he’s never acted on it either. Gabe isn’t happy to learn that the sole reason he was hired to pastor the LGBT-friendly church was that the ruling elders wanted a safe poster child for inclusivity—in other words, they wanted the rainbow flag without letting it fly.


Plus one easygoing, new age kinda guy…


Seth Thomas owns Holistic Healing, a metaphysical shop and yoga studio. He’s never really been a relationship kinda guy, but only because he hasn’t met the right man yet. Seth is laid back and goes with the flow. When fate drops a hot preacher in his lap, why wouldn’t he accept the gift?


Equals a pair of men who click from the start.


The two men find it almost too easy to get together, especially Gabe, who is fully embracing his bi side for the first time. Nothing in life is simple though. While Gabe and Seth are busy falling in love, they face an anti-gay hate group, a divided church, and a ruling elder who is hell-bent on sowing discord. Between Gabe’s patient wisdom and Seth’s snark, the pair fight the growing drama with the strongest weapons in their arsenal: love and humor.


This is the third book in the LOVESTRONG series about finding love and being yourself in a small town, and the third in series. Intended only for 18+ readers, this is an mm romance full of all the fun, fluff, and feels you’d want from an S. Hawke book.


Note: This isn’t a trigger warning, but please be prepared for a few instances of ignorance and hate speech, and mentions of violence. This is a romance, not a sermon—but please keep in mind that the main character is a pastor dealing with real-life issues in his church and these truths are reflected in Gabe.

 


mybook.to/HowNotToSin

HNTS

HNTS-2

EXCERPT

“Come on, you know you want to try it.” Gabe’s eyes danced as he tried to get me to take a bite of his Rocky Mountain oysters. “Are you really going to sit there and pretend you’re not adventurous enough to take just one itsy bitsy taste?” His fork danced in front of my mouth, as if he were trying to tempt a baby into taking a bite.

“It’s not a matter of being adventurous so much as solidarity. A bro just doesn’t eat another dude’s balls—at least, not like this. Trust me, preach. There are far more fun and less gory ways to enjoy your ball-eating fetish.” I shuddered dramatically as I leaned my head back and to the side while I batted at his hand to push it away.

Gabe snorted then brought the fork to his mouth and made a big show of pulling the meat from the fork with his teeth. His moans were almost pornographic, especially when combined with the total sex face he was making—complete with his eyes rolling back into his head while his lashes fluttered like crazy.

“You do know that people are staring, right? You’re like that chick in that movie, you know the one… where that chick’s faking an orgasm in the middle of a crowded diner?” I thought for a second, trying to remember. Once I got Meg Ryan’s face in my mind, I was able to recall the movie. “When Harry Met Sally. Yeah, you’re totally pulling a Sally.”

He took a moment to casually blot his lips with a napkin before leaning forward with a raised brow. “Were they staring at me, though? Really? Or was it maybe the look on your face while you watched that caught their eyes, hmm?”

I shifted in my seat, trying to ignore the sudden tightness in my pants. “Definitely you. I guarantee you that I wasn’t looking turned on while I watched you nosh on testicles.” I pointed to the side of his mouth. “You’ve got a little sauce right there that your napkin missed.”

My pants grew a little tighter when that tongue darted from the side of his mouth to lick it away. I shook my head. “Nope, a little down and to the left.” I couldn’t help but grin at the facial contortions he was making as he tried to get rid of it. Shaking my head, I reached over the table with my own napkin and wiped his cheek.

Gabe caught my hand as I started to pull it away. Turning it over, he kissed the pulse point of my wrist while gazing up at me from under his ridiculously long lashes. When he spoke in a low rumble, I could swear that deep voice was liquid sex. “Will you promise to wipe me clean every time I get messy?” I blinked away a vision of me licking splatters of cum from his bare chest, then feeding it back to him as we kissed. Yeah, that imagery didn’t help the tight pants issue at all.

Note to self: don’t wear skinny jeans when going on a date with a sexy clergyman.

Pulling my hand back, I made a show of rolling my eyes. “I hope you enjoyed that, Pastor Babe. After watching you eat that foul food, I’m pretty sure that’s the only part of my body you’ll be kissing tonight.”

A corner of Gabe’s mouth twitched as his eyebrows shot up. “Are you really talking about kissing body parts in the middle of dinner? Shame, shame, Seth. I’m starting to think I can’t take you anywhere. Although, as first dates go? This is definitely one for the record books.”

Susan Hawke Logo

As an avid reader and big romance fan myself, I love sharing the stories of the different people who live in my imagination. My stories are filled with humor, a few tears, and the underlying message to not give up hope, even in the darkest of times, because life can change on a dime when you least expect it. This theme comes from a lifetime of lessons learned on my own hard journey through the pains of poverty, the loss of more loved ones than I’d care to count, and the struggles of living through chronic illnesses. Life can be hard, but it can also be good! Through it all I’ve found that love, laughter, and family can make all the difference, and that’s what I try to bring to every tale I tell.

I’m a happily married mom with one snarky teenage boy, and three grown “kids of my heart.” I’m more widely known for my mpreg writings as Susi Hawke; this new name is a departure from that. Whether written by Susan or Susi, the books are filled with that all-important love, laughter, and family I mentioned; the only difference is that this name has no male pregnancy. I look forward to sharing my stories with you, and to bringing more romance and laughter into this world that needs it so very badly.

Amazon Author: https://amzn.to/2Hdgwvl

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

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