A MelanieM Release Day Review: Bonfires by Amy Lane

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

Bonfires is one of those Amy Lane books that’s bigger than any review any reader could possibly write about it.  It encompasses so many huge elements and hits so many big emotional targets that when it comes to pulling it all together in one review I find it escapes me.  It doesn’t help that you go willingly into this story knowing there’s an aspect of it that’s going to tear you apart in Amy Lane’s “shred your heart” way.  You do it knowing something worthwhile will come out of it, as it does here.

Bonfires is not simply a romance any more than starting a fire is about putting two twigs together and expecting a spark. No, Bonfires is about how families are built, how foundations are laid for people to come together to become a strong cohesive unit, powerful enough to withstand some of life’s worst blows, public condemnation and more.  First you get these two men who have already had long relationships that led to having families and children. The men are real, grounded in their lives and ages.  You get them and understand them immediately.

Then you get the amazing, believable, (and not so amazing) kids on both sides.  Yes, just as in life, not all the offspring are sweetness and light.  That’s always a relief to see that bit of reality hit the pages even if its not so welcome for the couple. There’s no instant meshing of families.  Things take time, talking, and work.  There’s actual adulting here.  There’s two houses, schedules, and how and if to come out to your various working environments and staff.  Complicated? You bet and  absolutely absorbing.  Why?  Because we care about these men and children.   We gotten to know them intimately.  At school and at their workplaces.  So when deeply concerning things are happening at the school to people, adult and teens we are intensely concerned about, we care about that too.

Along with Aaron and Larx trying to figure things out for themselves and their kids, there’s another storyline unfolding that’s of equal importance and intertwined with Aaron and Larx.  Its the element with the tragic repercussions that reverberate throughout the community and the two men’s burgeoning relationship.  All things elements, all these pieces of tinder that add up to Amy Lane’s powerful Bonfire….and there’s more.  Of course, there’s always more…

When I  said its about families.  I mean families of all types. Its also the flip side of families…those that do irreparable damage to their young and their community.  And its about the larger families found within the various social communities.  Here Amy Lane’s knowledge of the school system comes in handy with the interplay with the Board of Directors, the various school teachers and factions within the education system.  It all rings very true.

At the end of Bonfires, when you finish the last sentence and reflect back on all those lives and people that Amy Lane created and you spent time with, the tears shed,  the hearts that broke and got pieced back together again, the families made into one…I still think back over this incredible story and realize there’s so much more that I never addressed or could even begin to.   Its as though she crammed a series into one book and no one noticed.  What I do think you should do is read this book.  Its one for thinking about, thinking about families and love and all the astonishing things it takes to get that right.  If we’re lucky and work hard.   When making my Best of 2017 List, Bonfires will be on it.  That’s my recommendation.

Cover Artist: Anne Cain.  Works for the story, although I’m not sure I’m that crazy about it.  Don’t exactly know why.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 280 pages
Expected publication: March 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press, LLC
Original TitleBonfires
ISBN 1635333415 (ISBN13: 9781635333411)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Review: Here for Us (Us #1) by A.M. Arthur

Standard
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Cris Sable doesn’t walk into popular gay bar Big Dick’s expecting to find more than a casual hookup, so he’s surprised by his instant attraction and intense chemistry with go-go dancer Jake. Jake’s sexy as hell and a firecracker in bed. The sparks between them are undeniable, and what starts as a hookup evolves into something deeper, possibly permanent—until Jake dumps Cris flat on his ass for no good reason. 

Angry and confused, Cris finds comfort with his longtime friend and employer Charles “Chet” Greenwood. Cris’s emotional state stirs up Charles’s long-buried feelings for Cris. Feelings he’s denied for eight years, because Cris is his employee and therefore off limits—not to mention two decades younger than Charles. Cris admits he has feelings for Charles, too, but he’s still getting over Jake and both men agree nothing can happen between them while Charles is still Cris’s boss.

Jake Bowden knows he doesn’t have anything to offer a guy. He’s a go-go dancer with no degree and no real career aspirations. He’s also used to everyone who loves him leaving, so it makes sense to cut Cris loose before things get too serious. Cris is kind, passionate and totally deserves a guy like Charles—wealthy, owns a home, successful businessman. Jake can’t compete so why bother? They’re better off together. But when Jake has a serious personal crisis, Cris and Charles unite to pull him back together, and the three men discover it’s possible—maybe even inevitable—to fall in love with more than one person at a time.
 
I generally enjoy this author’s stories but this one didn’t really work for me.  I had a very difficult time connecting to any of the three main characters.  I especially struggled with Cris.  Nothing he did or felt made any sense to me.  He had been in love with Charles for years but then when there’s a chance for their relationship he hesitates over a guy he had a one night stand with. I had a hard time buying his reasoning for this and it made the entire Cris/Jake thing seem like unrealistic insta-love to me.
This is a spin off series in a way of the author’s Perspective’s series and while you don’t need to read that to read this, you will see all of those couples in this book.  That dynamic was overwhelming.  There were six of them and a bunch of them had two names each because one was there porn name and one their real name.  They’re referred to as both depending on who’s talking to them and Cris has two names and Chet has two names and gah……..it felt like there were 100 side characters.  
These guys as a group had a ridiculous amount of problems.  It was never ending and it just felt over the top to me.  It took away any emotional impact I might have felt.  Instead of being concerned about them I found myself rolling my eyes.  Another thing that continuously made me roll my eyes was the fact that they non-stop referred to Chet as “grandpa” or the “old man”.  Mind you he was 48 years old not 84.  I know it’s a petty complaint but it really annoyed me.
The note at the back indicates that the next book in the series will continue to be about these three men so maybe their relationship dynamics will be more deeply looked at in that.  For now though this just felt too hard for me to believe or buy into.
Cover:  I think the cover is average.  There is nothing wrong with it but it does not stand out in any way.

Sales Links

Amazon

Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 332 pages
Published March 17th 2017 by Briggs-King Books
ASIN B06X156VN3
Edition Language English
Series Us #1

In Our Contemporary Spotlight: Don Travis on The Bisti Business (guest excerpt)

Standard

The Bisti Business (A BJ Vinson Mystery #2) by Don Travis
D
SP Publications
Release Date: March 21, 2017

Available for Purchase at

amazon square borderB&N borderApple border

Also available for purchase in paperback at DSP Publications

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Don Travis today.  He’s brought an excerpt from his latest BJ Vinson mystery, The Bisti Business. Welcome, Don.

Excerpt from The Bisti Business

BJ Vinson Hosts Lt. Eugene Enriquez for Brunch at Eulelia’s in Historic La Posada Hotel

BJ’s not above asking his old partner at the Albuquerque Police Department for help when he needs it.

BJ knows his new client is trouble right off the bat. In Don Travis’s The Bisti Business, the confidential investigator accepts the assignment to locate the missing gay son of a homophobic multi-millionaire Napa Valley Wine mogul because as a gay detective, he has sympathy for the college kid and his traveling companion. So he sets off to find two young men traveling New Mexico in a bright orange Porsche Boxter. The first thing he does is turn to his old partner at APD for some help. How? By feeding him brunch, that’s how. The following scene comes toward the end of Chapter 2 of the book:

Gene Enriquez, my old partner at APD, had recently made lieutenant, and he sometimes chaffed at the rein the promotion put on his fieldwork. When I called he indulged in some bellyaching about being swamped but agreed to meet for a cup of coffee at Eulalia’s in the La Posada on Second and Copper, a short walk for each of us.

The central core of my building opened onto an atrium soaring through all five levels. As the elevator doors parted on the ground floor, my eyes automatically swept the waxed tiles. A year ago, a man had died on those hard clay squares when he went over the railing after attacking me on the landing outside of my office on the third floor. Sometimes I still saw smears of blood on the floor, but it was an illusion. The blue-black terra-cotta was scrubbed spotless and polished to a high shine.

I exited the building and headed east on Copper, pausing to say hello to the Sidewalk Society, nine life-sized bronzes by the Santa Fe based sculptor, Glenna Goodacre, that were grouped on the corner sidewalk outside the Hyatt Regency. After greeting the cast figures almost daily for the past few years, I had reached a few conclusions about them. The young woman with a briefcase was said to be an up-and-coming CEO, but I’m convinced she was a 1950s lawyer. The construction worker and his foreman, who sported a battered, old-style broad-brimmed hat, represented the thirties or forties. It had taken me some time to tumble to the fact the statues reflected different time periods in Albuquerque’s more recent history.

Gene yelled for me to wait for him as he strode briskly across Civic Plaza. “You always talk to statues?” He was a little breathless after running to beat the light change at the intersection. A stocky Hispanic with regular, pleasant features that seem vaguely Polynesian, Gene always appeared slightly frazzled; a consequence of dealing with the Albuquerque Police Department, a wife, and five kids on a daily basis.

I accepted both his hand and his ribbing. “Every time. Get some of my best answers from them.”

“I keep expecting one of the rookies to arrest the kid.” He motioned to the bronze of a teenager with a skateboard.

We entered the La Posada by the north entrance and stepped into another world. The interior was done in Spanish Territorial with aged wood copings, corbels highlighted in scarlet and turquoise, and heavily carved lintels. Nichos, small shelves in the white plastered walls, held carved wooden santos and ornate Mexican tinwork. This hotel had once been part of the Hilton chain—Conrad’s first in New Mexico, as a matter of fact—but had been recently sold, yet again, and was scheduled for a makeover in the near future.

Gene and I selected a heavy oak table stained ebony by the passage of time, and claimed a pair of sturdy straight-backed chairs padded in green and gold. We spent a few minutes bringing one another up to date on our lives.

After making a brunch of the restaurant’s éclairs and a wedge of superb lemon meringue pie dribbled with chocolate, Gene was through chitchatting. “Okay, so what do you want?”

“What makes you think I want something? Can’t I call a pal without having an ulterior motive?”

“No.”

I pretended to think for a moment. “Okay then, I’ve got a client looking for his missing son and the kid’s traveling companion.” In less than two minutes, I’d briefed him on the situation.

“So they’re like that, huh?” He wiggled his hand back and forth, a gesture that was supposed to convey something. Gene knew me too well to be sensitive about my sexual orientation.

“You mean are they gay? Yeah, I’d say so.”

“And you want to get in their hotel room.”

“Seems a logical place to start since one of their fathers hired me to represent the family.”

“These two, they’re emancipated, right? Adults.”

“Both are twenty-one, according to Alfano.”

“Hmm. Alfano gonna file a missing person’s report?”

“He will if you think it’ll help.”

“Naw. We’ve got enough to do without looking for a couple of kids who’ve run off to play hanky-panky. But if they strayed across the border into Arizona, they might be cooling their heels in some county sheriff’s jail as we speak. They take that shit seriously over there.”

“Possible, but not likely. They could be in real trouble, Gene. Alfano keeps a tight rein on his boy, and the fact he’s looking for him is troubling.”

“Maybe the colt got out of the family pasture and is feeling his oats. But okay, have the old man file a report, and I’ll see if I can get us inside the hotel room. Unofficially.”

I picked up the tab to see what kind of damage Gene had done to my pocketbook. Anthony P. Alfano’s pocketbook, actually.

Gene caught me peeking at the check. “Come on, you can afford it.”

“Maybe so, but it’s not my expense, it’s my client’s, and I don’t know how picky he is.”

Gene Enriquez is a good detective and a smooth talker, at least smooth enough to get us access to the room occupied by—or held in the names of—Orlando Alfano and Dana Norville. There was little to see. The pair had taken their traveling bags with them, leaving behind nothing personal except for two bundles of clothing destined for the laundry, the only sign they intended to return. One set of duds was expensive Abercrombie & Fitch, the other bundle was GAP. It wasn’t hard to figure which clothes belonged to what dude.

The breast pocket of one shirt held a carefully folded Chamber of Commerce brochure extolling the virtues of El Moro’s Inscription Rock and the Ice Caves near Grants. A rumpled pair of trousers—the expensive ones—gave up a not-so-neatly folded tourist road map of the state.

The bell captain remembered the two men asking his advice about the Enchanted Circle in the Taos area. They had specifically asked about white water rafting along the Taos Box.

The clerk in the gift shop remembered the pair because, she blushingly admitted, they were both so handsome. Shortly after checking in, they had picked up several pamphlets from her, expressing interest in the Turquoise Trail, a fifty-mile National Scenic Byway up Route 14 to Santa Fe studded with quaint, historic villages. Orlando and Dana had been especially curious about Valles Caldera, the thirteen-mile wide crater of an extinct volcano south of Los Alamos, the Atomic City. Unfortunately, they also asked about Lincoln County and Carlsbad Caverns to the south and east, as well as Mesa Verde and the Bisti Badlands in the northwest corner of the state.

As we drove back downtown, Gene agreed to put out a bulletin on Orlando Alfano’s Porsche, an orange 2008 model Boxter S, California vanity plate LANDO 06. The kid probably got his undergraduate degree that year.

“A buggy like that’s bound to have a navigational system with a GPS satellite signal,” Gene said.

“A 750 Plus Magellan. The old man has his attorney contacting the company to get the present coordinates. They’re touchy about giving out such information, and Alfano is bound to have more clout than I do. The way I read this guy, he’ll have everyone from the governor on up calling the company if he can’t buy the data from them.”

“You do attract a certain type of client, don’t you?”

*****

About The Bisti Business

Although repulsed by his client, an overbearing, homophobic California wine mogul, confidential investigator B. J. Vinson agrees to search for Anthony Alfano’s missing son, Lando, and his traveling companion—strictly for the benefit of the young men. As BJ chases an orange Porsche Boxster all over New Mexico, he soon becomes aware he is not the only one looking for the distinctive car. Every time BJ finds a clue, someone has been there before him. He arrives in Taos just in time to see the car plunge into the 650-foot-deep Rio Grande Gorge. Has he failed in his mission?

Lando’s brother, Aggie, arrives to help with BJ’s investigation, but BJ isn’t sure he trusts Aggie’s motives. He seems to hold power in his father’s business and has a personal stake in his brother’s fate that goes beyond familial bonds. Together they follow the clues scattered across the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area and learn the bloodshed didn’t end with the car crash. As they get closer to solving the mystery, BJ must decide whether finding Lando will rescue the young man or place him directly in the path of those who want to harm him.

About the Author

According to custom, I’m supposed to tell you something about me. That won’t take long. Born an Okie, I took a roundabout journey to my adopted home in New Mexico… which shows up in all her glory in all my stories. Texas Christian University gave me my education, the US Army contributed foreign travel (Germany) to my experience, Colorado gave me my first permanent job before transferring me to Albuquerque. When earning a living monopolized my time, I turned to painting to satisfy a creative urge. Did okay at it, but that craft didn’t scratch the itch I was feeling. Penning short stories seemed to do that. After selling around sixty of them under a pseudonym, I turned to writing novels. Zozobra is the first to see the light of publication, and Bisti is the second. A third BJ Vinson novel, The City of Rocks, is scheduled for release on July 18, 2017. The first draft of a fourth in the series, The Lovely Pines, now rests on my OneDrive.

I do a weekly blog about my writing and recounting some of my personal peccadillos on dontravis.com. I am a member of SouthWest Writers and give back to the community by teaching a free writing class at Albuquerque’s North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center.

Here are some links to me and my writing:

Blog: dontravis.com

Email: dontravis21gmail.com

Facebook: dontravis

Twitter: @dontravis3

Many thanks to Stella and Melanie at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for permitting this guest post. And a tip of the hat to DSP Publications for bringing out the book.

Release Day Blitz She Belongs to Them Both by Sedonia Guillone (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Synopsis – She Belongs to Them Both by Sedonia Guillone

Two werewolves are her chosen mates for life!

 

Since he was bitten three years ago on the plains of Tibet, Jie Sing has fought back the ravening beast inside him. His attempts are unsuccessful until the stars lead him to the woman destined to be his mate, half a world away in Boston’s Chinatown. Fighting a deadly rival to keep her, Jie finds that in Megan’s arms, their passion keeps the beast at bay. Then Jie receives an urgent call summoning him back to China. Jie’s ex-wife in Beijing has accused Jie of attacking her in the street and had him arrested. But that’s impossible, seeing as he’s in America with Meg! Who is this “twin”—and why does Meg need to make love to both of them?

 

Publisher’s note: This book was previously published at Ellora’s Cave Publishing under the title, Kiss of the Werewolves.

 

Buy Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJRDYYG

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XJRDYYG

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B06XJRDYYG

Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B06XJRDYYG

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sedonia_Guillone_She_Belongs_To_Them_Both?id=KzpqDgAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/she-belongs-to-them-both

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/she-belongs-to-them-both-sedonia-guillone/1126007901?ean=2940157564865

Excerpt

Only then did she become aware again of their surroundings. The motors hummed and vibrated through the small space, reminding her they were in the plane lavatory. She couldn’t help smiling to herself. Before Jie, something this wonderful, this erotic would never have happened to her.

 

Finally, when they were rested, they maneuvered in the tiny space, worked around each other to do up their clothing. Once dressed, Jie took her in his arms again and nuzzled her hair. “Now,” he said softly, “we should both try to get some sleep.” His hand slipped into her hair, cradling her head. “As soon as we get to the hotel and settle in, I have to contact Su Lin.”

 

Meg sighed. “I know.” She wished she could just enjoy the languorous aftermath of their lovemaking without the specter of meeting Jie’s ex-wife hovering. She was tempted to ask Jie to just let it go, not to bother defending himself. But she knew how guilty he felt and how important it was that he was cleared of Su Lin’s accusation.

 

She let her thoughts wander to the stranger whom Su Lin thought was Jie. A strange tingle shimmered down her spine. Who was this man who looked so much like Jie that Su Lin thought he was her ex-husband? As a woman, she felt she would know Jie anywhere, even if he’d changed physically and she hadn’t seen him in a long time. She had taken Jie into her body and heart. He was imprinted on her very soul, as no doubt, he was on Su Lin’s. That thought made jealousy simmer deep in her gut, relieved only by Jie’s tender adoration.

 

Jealousy aside, the truth remained. There was something strange going on—though it couldn’t possibly be more bizarre than the fact that the man she loved changed from a man into a wolf-like beast at every full moon. They would obviously have to see this mysterious stranger and Jie would need to identify him while they were in Beijing in order to prove to Su Lin and to the authorities that he had been in the United States at the time of the stranger’s arrest.

 

“What are you thinking, Meg?” Jie’s gentle tenor cut through her musings.

 

She looked at him. Guilt snaked through her for all her private thoughts. She searched her heart for the words she really wanted to say. Now was no time to express fear and jealousy. “I was thinking how much I want everything to work out.”

 

He rested his hands on her shoulders and nodded. “Me too,” he murmured.

 

Jie left the lavatory first and she followed him after washing her face and smoothing and repinning her mussed hair. Then she went out and took her seat next to Jie, trying to get some rest with her hand laced in his.

 

Giveaway

Prize: $10 Amazon Gift Card
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

About the Author

Award-winning, multi-published author of erotic romance, SEDONIA GUILLONE spends her days writing deliciously naughty romances—when she’s not cuddling with the man she loves or watching kung fu and samurai films and eating chocolate.

 

Sedonia welcomes comments from readers.

 

Sedonia Guillone can be found at:

Website: www.sedoniaguillone.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sedonia.guillone

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SedoniaGuillone

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sedoniag

In the Contemporary Spotlight: Embrace the Fire (Through Hell & Back #3) by Felice Stevens

Standard

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2nJFEj1

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ndvTba



Cover Design: Reece Dante 


Photography: Varion Krylov of Strangeland Photography


Length: 90,000 words


Through Hell & Back Series


A Walk Through Fire (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
After The Fire (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb

Brandon Gilbert has spent years in hiding, but he’s finally accomplished his dream of working as a public school teacher. When offered the chance to help bullied children, there was no way he could say no. Not to mention that meeting Dr. Tash Weber, the psychiatrist who helps them, a sad yet sexy older man, ignited a spark inside Brandon he’d never had before.

Though five years have passed since the death of his lover, Dr. Sebastian “Tash” Weber has no interest in relationships or love. But young, enigmatic Brandon awakens his heart and his desire. Despite Tash’s best efforts to push him away, Brandon unlocks the passion for life Tash thought he’d lost forever.

Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan for either Brandon or Tash, but neither family disapproval nor self-doubts can stop them from embracing the fire that burns between them. And when Brandon returns home to fight for a future he never imagined possible, he and Tash discover that the one thing worth fighting for has been with them all along.

NB This is a re-release and has been extensively re-edited and revised with almost 10k words of additional content added.

About Felice
 

I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, My characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love, but getting there is oh so fun and oh so sexy.


I live in New York City with my husband and two children. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass (or two of red wine). I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there are bound to be a few bumps along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

 

Newsletter
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

 Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into the Fall (Leaning Into #2) by Lane Hayes

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Lane Hayes is one of my favorite authors, and this story proves why. Faced with a secondary character in a short story who was really the anti-hero—a bisexual guy who jilted his (female) fiancé and disappointed his best friend and business partner—Ms. Hayes decided to give him his own story, in which he demonstrates why he was such a letdown in book one, and then falls into deep and everlasting love with a handsome and sweet older man.

I was skeptical when we first saw Nick in this story—buried nose-deep in code in his and Eric’s IT security business—and seemingly clueless to what’s going on in the rest of the world. He keeps bugging his BFF friend Eric, who’s on a well-deserved honeymoon vacation in Bora Bora, so faced with penalty of death from Eric’s new husband, Zane, (Leaning Into Love) Nick decides to take a break from work and return the wine he purchased as a wedding favor for his own cancelled wedding months ago.

There he runs headlong into Wes Conrad, winery owner, who refuses to allow Nick to return the wine that was labelled with the personal information for Nick’s wedding. It’s company policy not to take it back, and Wes digs in his heels and outright refuses. And so begins the crappiest day of Nick’s life, but also one that turns out to be the day he went head-on with the man who would ultimately become the most important person in his life.

I love the way the author took the time to explain and explore Nick’s issues—issues with antisocial behavior, a constant side focus on the numbers in his head—mathematical equations—that needed to be addressed. She also gave Nick an older, more mature man—one who has lived through multiple life experiences, including the tragic loss of his business, his former lover, and a good friend. Wes has the maturity and the patience to handle Nick, and though wildly attracted to one another from early in the story, there’s no rush into deep and everlasting love. It evolves over time, and every moment and every step of the way is absolutely necessary for this couple. Business deals, takeover possibilities, poor decisions, partnership problems—this story has it all. But most of all? It has a young man who seemed to be irredeemable learn to face his issues and take responsibility for his own actions and then take the leap into falling head over heels with the man he most needs in this world.

That might sound a bit mushy and romantic, but that’s how I saw it. And I have a particular soft spot in my heart for older men who find romance in the MM genre. This one is terrific, and I highly recommend it. Why not a full 5 stars? I couldn’t shake all of the prejudice I had against Nick from the first book. Let’s just say he’s darn lucky he had such a great author to tell his story. And I can’t wait to see if Ms. Hayes has more in store for us in this series. I suspect maybe Nick and Eric’s friend Josh will be next. Can’t wait!

~~~~
Cover by Reese Dante is similar to the first cover in that it features a faceless male torso, with opened shirt, against a background of the San Francisco skyline and bay.

Sales Links

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Published March 15th 2017 by Self Pub
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into #2

A MelanieM Recent Release Review: The Case of the Guilty Ghost (End Street Detective Agency #6) by R.J. Scott and Amber Kell

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his life, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt-ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam.

Magic tears Sam from the vampire castle and he has to face new adversaries alone, when all he wants is Bob at his side.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony for his soul to be torn from his body. Aset Ka has other plans, and Ettore finds himself reunited with a lost love and fighting alongside his brother.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore, and with the curse tied to Ettore broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a battle between gods, and long forgotten love leaves no time for Sam and Bob to take a breath. Is it too late to save the supernatural world?

The last book in a series always has an enormous job to do.  It can’t simply tell its story, no it has to wrap all up the loose ends and dangling plot threads from multiple couples and books that came before it.  How it does all that and tell its story will leave the reader either feeling really good about the series and couple/couples or feeling that they’ve missed something and that it all fell rather flat. Or even, quelle horror, a waste of their time! What a burden placed on that last novel!

I’m so happy to report that The Case of the Guilty Ghost wraps things up quite nicely for everyone at the  End Street Detective Agency and even gave us a look at the future that left me all aglow as they say.  Nothing so wonderful as bringing a series full circle as the authors did here.  I’ll say right at the beginning that it doesn’t get the full 5 stars because someone coming into the story without reading all the previous books would be quite lost.  You need to have read all the others to have a firm foundation and fix on the characters and situations already established at page 1, starting with the  grieving Bob.  Yes, I still love a vampire called Bob.

I also thought this was the weakest link here.  There’s no real reason for Bob to separate himself from his family during this time of mourning.  Everyone seems to be telling Bob to buckup and bring at least Sam there to help him through this.  But of course, Sam’s presence is needed elsewhere and Bob won’t soon be mourning.  So begins an action packed supernatural adventure that brings so many characters together one last time.  We learn who and what Sam truly is, a mystery that ran throughout the series.  How that bracelet Sam wears comes into play and a outstanding fight to end all fights at the end.   And our Terry, the resident ghost of End Street Detective Agency? Well, he figures into this in a huge way as well. Oh and did I mention there’s sex too? That too, lots of that.

If a plot is tied up too neatly, well, ok.  I thought that banishment was quick and pretty handy.  But the rest of the story was so good and answered so many of my questions, that I’m willing to overlook something so expedient as that.  Plus it worked within the narrative, so I’m happy even if I wanted something a little more complicated.  Sam, Bob and daughter Mal have their HEA as do our other favorite characters.  That’s what I wanted here and what I got with a lot of suspense and acton along the way.

Then Amber Kell and RJ Scott threw in the marvelous Epilogue and brought things full circle.  That was just delightful and left me smiling even more.  I could walk away from the End Street Detective Agency happy and content.

Cover design by Meredith Russell is perfect for the characters and storyline.

Sales Links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mYNrYY

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2nDMEK6

Book Details:

ebook, 164 pages
Published March 15th 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited
ISBN139781785640759
SeriesEnd Street Detective Agency #6

Review Tour & Giveaway – The Case Of The Guilty Ghost (End Street Book #6) by Amber Kell by RJ Scott

Standard

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2mYNrYY

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2nDMEK6



Length: 111 pages


Cover: Meredith Russell

Series


End Street Vol 1 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
End Street Vol 2 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Case of the Purple Pearl – Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his life, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt-ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam.

Magic tears Sam from the vampire castle and he has to face new adversaries alone, when all he wants is Bob at his side.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony for his soul to be torn from his body. Aset Ka has other plans, and Ettore finds himself reunited with a lost love and fighting alongside his brother.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore, and with the curse tied to Ettore broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a battle between gods, and long forgotten love leaves no time for Sam and Bob to take a breath. Is it too late to save the supernatural world?

Author Bios
 

Amber Kell has made a career out of daydreaming. It has been a lifelong habit she practices diligently as shown by her complete lack of focus on anything not related to her fantasy world building.

When she told her husband what she wanted to do with her life, he told her to go have fun.
During those seconds she isn’t writing, she remembers she has children who humor her with games of ‘what if’ and let her drag them to foreign lands to gather inspiration. Her youngest confided in her that he wants to write because he longs for a website and an author name—two things apparently necessary to be a proper writer.

Despite her husband’s insistence she doesn’t drink enough to be a true literary genius, she continues to spin stories of people falling happily in love and staying that way.

She is thwarted during the day by a traffic jam of cats on the stairway and a puppy who insists on walks, but she bravely perseveres.

Website: http://www.amberkell.com
E-mail: amberkellwrites@gmail.com

 

 

Author Bio

 

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

 

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
www.rjscott.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/author.rjscott?ref=ts&fref=ts
www.goodreads.com/author/show/3432558.R_J_Scott
twitter.com/Rjscott_author
www.librarything.com/author/scottrj

 

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

Russell J. Sanders on Writing, Characters and his new novel ‘All You Need is Love’ (author interview/Harmony Ink Blog Tour)

Standard

All You Need Is Love by Russell J. Sanders
H
armony Ink Press

Available for Purchase at

Harmony Ink Press

📚

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Russell J. Sanders here today talking about writing, characters and his latest story, All You Need Is Love. Welcome, Russell.

📚

✒︎Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Russell J. Sanders✒︎

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think it’s impossible for an author to create a character that doesn’t have some aspects of him/herself. We are products of our own experiences, thus we use those experiences—whether physical or emotional—in our characters. But in my new novel All You Need Is Love, that “putting myself into the character” goes far beyond where I’ve gone before. The main character Dewey Snodgress is I, and I am he. I’m not saying that everything that happens to Dewey happened to me as a teenager. The plot of the book is totally fabricated. But Dewey has so much me in him that I consider the book autobiographical. Like Dewey, I was a soloist in my high school choir, I was an actor with my high school drama group, and I was so sheltered that I barely knew what was going on in the world outside my high school. Also like Dewey, I never met a black person. In my 1960s Texas world, we had no black kids in our high school. They lived across town, and we never had occasion to mix with them. My fantasy of how Dewey meets LuLu is inspired by how I met one of my dearest friends—many years later—a beautiful, wildly funny African-American woman. And adding to the similarity between me and Dewey, I graced Dewey with the same childhood nickname my dad christened me with.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I’ve done both. I have written novels like Special Effect and Colors where I’ve set the story in “today,” and not had to do much but create a story and characters from my own experiences and knowledge-base. Then there’s The Book of Ethan, set in the “now,” but is a book I had to meticulously research in order to create the world of a religious cult. Much of what I wrote is true, some is what I invented based on my research, in order to fuel the plot I wanted to tell. My first book Thirteen Therapists is set in modern-day Chicago, a city I love and have visited many times. But still I needed to do research to get the sense of place I needed. Then there are my historical novels, the current All You Need Is Love and the upcoming (in 2018) Titanic Summer. I did extensive research for both. I wouldn’t have thought I needed to research a story set in the era where I grew up in the town in which I grew up, but All You Need Is Love continuously sent me to experts to check facts or to fill me in on things my brain had lost. My brother, younger, handsomer, and smarter than I, was able to refresh my memories of our childhood neighborhood, while I got invaluable assistance from experts about the Vietnam War and the Texas one–act play contest of the time. For Titanic Summer, I spent hours reading about the famous ship that hit the iceberg so I could re-create that time and experience. Perhaps the novel I’ve researched the most is the one being released in 2019—You Can’t Tell by Looking. One of its main characters is a Muslim-American teen, and I read several books, learning about Islam, so I could get it all right.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

When I was a kid, I read everything. And I do mean everything. My mother, a voracious reader herself, raised me with this philosophy: “If he doesn’t understand it, it can’t hurt him; if he does understand it, it can only broaden his perspectives.” I remember my sixth grade teacher, at the beginning of the year, announced that she wanted us all reading books outside of the classroom, but she wanted to approve of each book. After I took her three or four books I was reading, she threw up her hands and said I didn’t need approval any more. It wasn’t that she felt she couldn’t control me, it was that she trusted that I could read whatever I wanted, and what I wanted to read were often bestsellers written for adults. So my love of reading certainly influenced my choice to become a writer.

As for choosing to write young adult novels, that came about more because of my teaching career. Actually, when I grew up, young adult novel was not a genre. Books with teen protagonists were just books, either young enough in perspective for children to read or old enough in perspective for adults to enjoy. But as a high school teacher, I learned to love young adult novels and love teenagers. I wanted to create books that reflected their experiences and spoke to them, and thus my career writing YA was born.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Never. I’ve put aside stories because I suddenly got stumped and couldn’t continue because I didn’t have a clue where the story was taking me. But those were stories that weren’t meant to be. The process many writers follow is to outline a plot and write from the outline. I think of a character, a setting, an incident, and then I start writing. My fingers take me all the way to the end. I’m continually amazed at what my characters do and where they go. I once wrote a murder plot that had a choice of six different murderers, and I didn’t know who did the dastardly deed until he confessed! I love that my characters take on their own lives and let me write those lives down for them. I get to live through them instead of my creating their lives.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I love romantic stories. Romance novels, as a genre, are not something I pick up very often. Amazingly, the genre seems to require two or three explicit sex scenes, and I get bored reading those, whether hetero or homo. You’d think I, as a gay man, would want to read about a hot encounter, but I think I, as a storyteller, want the story to keep advancing, and a sex scene just stops the action for me. And so, in my romantic young adult novels, my sex scenes are pretty tame, created to show character or plot development, rather than to add steam. And don’t get me wrong, I applaud the readers of Romance novels and I admire and honor the writers of that genre. As they say, different strokes for different folks.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Definitely, growing up it was my mother. The woman had a book at her easy chair, a book in the car, a book in her purse, a book by her bedside, and yes, a book in the bathroom, so she would never be without something to read. And she kept all those ongoing plots straight! So how could I not be influenced by that? (And yet, to my chagrin, my younger brother is not an avid reader, although I’m proud to say he’s read all the books I’ve written and is one of my greatest champions.)

As far as now, I suppose one of my greatest influences is the award-winning author Benjamin Alire Saenz. He truly is the finest writer alive today in my opinion. He is also a great human being, and it shows in his writing. I love all his books from my favorite, his first novel Carry Me Like Water, to his young adult novels like his Lambda award-winning book Ari and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. If I could be one tenth the success that Ben is and garner even 1% of the good reviews he gets, I would feel like an ultra-successful writer.

Aside from Ben, though, I continually sing the praises of my mentors: Kathi Appelt and Kelly Bennett. Both are amazing writers, teachers, and friends. Kathi encouraged me by example and by words long before I even began writing novels, and Kelly not only taught me and critiqued me, she has been steadfast in supporting my quest to be published and the continuance of this budding career I have. And she is one of my dearest friends.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Love/Hate. I love that it is successful and that many younger readers are actually reading because they are comfortable tied to their electronic devices. And selfishly, I love that royalties from an ebook purchase are greater than those from a print book purchase. But personally, I hate ebooks. There is something cold about the format. I feel that I’m not reading a real book if I can’t turn pages, look back easily to see what I missed, turn to the back cover and read the blurb one more time. Reading a print book is a sensory experience that I don’t get from an ebook.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I’m blessed to be published by Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press. They have the most incredibly talented artists. From a questionnaire I fill out (where I present some outlandish, unworkable ideas,) the Dreamspinner Press artist comes up with the perfect distillation of the essence of my book. And presents me with three or four choices! And then I’m further blessed that my husband is a graphic artist, for he can look at each choice, ask me questions, take my feedback, and help me either choose the best or know what to say if I deign to ask my artist to do further work. But lordy, lordy, lordy—no matter what I suggest, the artist comes back with the perfect cover. I was honored to have artist Anne Cain design the cover for The Book of Ethan. She evoked the two worlds of the cult-fleeing Ethan and the black rapper Kyan so beautifully. Aaron Anderson did Special Effect, with its shadowy figure trapped in the half-light of a dark theater; Colors and its stained glass that main character Neil is so tormented over; and All You Need Is Love’s iconic gun with the daisy in its barrel with the 1960s-inspired psychedelic paisley lettering. Aaron’s covers take my breath away.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

My favorite, I guess, is the one I’ve just finished. I finished Thirteen Therapists and loved it. Then I wrote Special Effect, and I was amazed I could create a murder mystery. Next came The Book of Ethan, and I was enthralled by the world I painted. Colors came after that, and I marveled at how I managed to tackle such an important, difficult subject. But oh—I wrote All You Need Is Love, and it is so much my life story that I can’t help but cherish it. The upcoming novels Titanic Summer and You Can’t Tell by Looking, when I see each in print, will probably capture my heart, respectively. What can I say? I love writing, and I love what I write. Does that sound too self-aggrandizing?

  • What’s next for you as an author?

What’s next? What’s next is to make sure All You Need Is Love finds its audience. Besides how much I love the story and want to share it with everyone, I think it is an important book because it sheds light on the era of the 1960s, a turbulent, life-changing time in America that most teens today know very little about. Even if they don’t learn enough from my book, I hope it spurs them to search for more about that time.

And then, of course, are my two novels already under contract. Spring of 2018 will see Titanic Summer, a novel that tells of a gay teen in the summer of 2015 in Houston, Texas, when the fight for the Houston Equal Rights Amendment was being fought. That fight was ultimately lost, but my hero wins his parallel fight with his gay identity, his problems with his father, and his feelings about a newfound friend. And along the way, I might add, he learns about a teen who perished on the Titanic.

A year later, I’ll have You Can’t Tell by Looking, a story of a love that develops between a Christian boy and a Muslim-American classmate, replete with all the things a relationship of that sort stirs up.

And finally, there’s a new story rumbling in my gut. I know very little about it, but sooner or later, it’s going to poke its head out and introduce itself. And then my fingers will fly across the keys to tell that story!

All You Need Is Love…blurb

It is 1969 when Dewey Snodgress, high school theater star, meets irrepressible hippie Jeep Brickthorn, who quickly inserts himself into Dewey’s life—and eventually, into his heart. Meanwhile, Dewey prepares to appear in a production across town, a play about protestors of the Vietnam War, where he befriends the wild and wonderful Lucretia “LuLu” Belton, who is also determined to follow her dreams and become an actress—whether her parents approve or not.

 The show has a profound effect, especially on Dewey’s father, who reconsiders his approval of the war after his son’s performance. But Dewey knows his dad won’t be so accepting if he reveals the love he’s developing for Jeep, so he fights to push his feelings away and keep the peace in his family.

 Still, Dewey can’t ignore the ripples moving through society—from the impending Woodstock Festival to the Stonewall Riots—and he begins to see that the road to happiness and acceptance for him and Jeep might lead them away from conservative Fort Worth, Texas—and Dewey’s dad.

Russell J. Sanders…bio

Russell J. Sanders is a life-long devotee of the theater. He’s a singer, actor, and director, winning awards for his acting roles and shows he has directed. As a teacher, he has taught theater arts to hundreds of students, plus he’s also taught literature and writing to hundreds of others.

Russell has also travelled the world, visiting Indonesia, Japan, India, Canada, the Caribbean, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice—and almost all the US states. His friends think he’s crazy, but wherever he goes, he seeks out Mexican restaurants. The Mexican food in Tokyo was great, he says; in Rome, not so good. Texans cut their teeth on barbecue and Mexican food. Russell’s love for enchiladas led him on a quest to try them wherever he can find them, and he has found them in some very out of the way places. And good or bad, he’s delighted to sample his favorite food.

Most importantly, Russell is an out and proud Gay man, living in Houston with his husband—a relationship that has lasted almost twenty years. He hopes that his novels inspire confidence and instill pride in his young Gay fans, and he also hopes others learn from his work.

Media Contacts for Russell J. Sanders:

Author of…

   Thirteen Therapists (Featherweight Press)

   Special Effect (Harmony Ink Press)

   The Book of Ethan (Harmony Ink Press)

   Colors (Harmony Ink Press)

   All You Need Is Love (Harmony Ink Press, coming March 2017)
   Titanic Summer (Harmony Ink Press, coming Spring 2018)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: An Invitation by Jay Northcote

Standard

Rating- 3.25 stars out of 5

Originally part of an anthology, this little story is packed with sexual tension that finally gets a bit of a release at the end. Unfortunately, it’s so short that it’s difficult to rate it much higher than enjoyable.

Jake is a two-week temp employee at a firm owned by a Scot named Cal Mackenzie. Cal is hot, but his brogue is hotter, and Jake can’t wait to get in his pants—or vice versa.

Cal refuses to be tempted however—no matter how much Jake makes his desires and availability known. Cal draws the line—no sex with employees. Good thing Jake is only going to be there two weeks. On the last night, disappointed that he’d never get a chance to be with Cal, Jake is surprised when Cal gives his employees the funds to go enjoy themselves, and Cal finally taps in to all Jake has to offer.

As I said, the story was too short to go too far, but given the number of words, Jay Northcote did a great job with character descriptions and with building sexual tension. I wouldn’t mind seeing these guys in the future, especially if the little spanking Cal administers in this story is developed into so much more. And maybe a kilt? A man in a kilt with a Scottish accent? Who could want more?

If you’re looking for a tidbit that will whet your whistle for more, this little appetizer should do the job.

Cover by Jay Northcote is a simple partial torso shot of a man in a suit, quite appropriate to the story.

Sales Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK| myBook | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 35 pages
Published March 6th 2017 by Jaybird Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersJake Wilson, Callum Mackenzie settingLondon, England (United Kingdom)