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)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Sci-Regency Novel: sequel to My Regelence Rake

Opposites don’t just attract… they sizzle.

A lusty special forces soldier who lives by his own set of rules, Dalton Fairfax decided long ago to stop wishing for his father’s love, and he found his calling. Now that he’s back home and between assignments, he finds himself at loose ends. When the opportunity arises to play bodyguard and help out his country, Dalton jumps at the chance. Not only does it keep him busy, but it just so happens that his charge is the man he saw on leave last month and hasn’t been able to get out of his head.

Heir to a dukedom and a conservative politician, Blaise Thompson strives to prove himself worthy of carrying on the family legacy as the next IN Councilman. However, his closest competitor keeps getting in the way and taking credit for Blaise’s ideas. Maintaining his stellar reputation isn’t easy to do while keeping his outrageous younger brother in line and foiling his rival’s personal attacks. He has no time for a guard and even less time for romance.

When a priceless antique goes missing, Blaise and Dalton discover that Regelence has larger problems than just IN plots. Now the only way to stop a scandal that threatens both of them is to compromise, and they are forced to confront the risk of losing everything… even each other

Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley marks the first departure from the original stories already published and for me that’s a plus here.  I’m not a fan of the new versions of the original stories.  I’ve done side by side comparisons with the beloved originals and the revised stories are pallid substitutes, imo, for the robust novels they replaced. Everything from the loss of the bdsm element in Aiden and Nate’s relationship in My Fair Captain to the revisionist aspects of the personalities of major characters, I have found these new revised stories to be very flawed for those of us who loved the original novels, characters and their relationships.

But I’m also addicted it seems to the series and need to see how the overall story arc plays out and what happens to various other characters.  So onward I plunge.

Diplomatic Relations is focused on Dalton Fairfax, nephew to Raleigh (aka Cony) consort to King Stephen , which gives readers more insight into that side of the Royal family.  Dalton is or was high society’s black sheep.  Always at the center of scandals, always the rakehell.  His last one gets him a ticket into the Navy and an admonition to grow up and take hold of himself, courtesy of his Uncle Raleigh.

Meanwhile, planetside, there’s Blaise Thompson, brother to the irrepressible Bannon (who appears in multiple stories), trying to adjust to his future as heir to a dukedom and as a politician.
The two become reacquainted when the treacherous plot between Regelence and the IN brings them together when Blaise needs a bodyguard.  That’s a huge simplification of a Intergalactic plot that has been unfolding through four novels, and shows no end in sight.  I really have enjoyed watching this complicated suspenseful, and action-packed element thread through every story.  There have been kidnappings, murder, IT shenanigans, and, high rescues in space.  It’s been grand and shows no sign of letting up.
But let’s trot back to Regelence.  There’s some elements here I liked and some where the continuity again is severely lacking.
That continuity.
In the first three books, the Regency society culture, especially the Ton and High Society was rigid over its rules where its young men are concerned.  Chaperones are a must.  No public displays of affection, even among those affianced.  Three dances at a ball?  That is an announcement of an intent to wed.  Bannon and Trouble’s  (as well as Aiden’s ) in getting rid of their dance cards, while funny, was also running on the edge of ruinous.  The previous books all took note of that… all it took was being “alone” in a room with another man in order to be compromised.   That’s how innocent most of these young men were.  Cloistered and insulated by Regelence’s culture to be virgins until married.  That typified both Aiden and  Payton’s background and attitude.  Plus it’s standard “Regency” fair, whether M/M or  M/F.
But here standards are relaxed to include kissing, PDA, and more which given no declaration of intent, meant that a reputation could or was on the way to be ruined (intentional or not).  This book, unlike the others, doesn’t seem to take seriously the universe in which it’s situated.  The other novels and characters within them understood the gravity of their actions,, said so, and then moved forward.  There is none of taking responsibility here should they get caught. That whole aspect of virtue and its importance in Regency culture is ignored.  Which is curious because the author uses the strictness of Regency morality when she needs to in another part of the story. Just not here. No, the ramifications of one’s actions in this society are intense and swift.  Whether it plays out in the gossip column or in the government.  But Langley applies that when it suits her, in scenes and to certain characters here and there.  And the entire story suffers in my opinion from such an approach.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Dalton and Blaise’s relationship, because I did. I liked that they balanced each other in their personalities.d But, the shaky framework it exits within is noticeable. Here there are women employed as man servants, something brand new and not brought up as a possibility in the other stories.  One hand, it makes sense in a homosexual society, to include those of the opposite sex as butler etc.  But in the previous stories, they were all men, no mention of women even attaining the roles.  It would have been great to have some groundwork or foundation laid for women in these roles before seeing it here.  It brings up so many questions.  How widespread it this practice.  Is it only in the Thompson family that it occurs?   Like I said…questions.
The ending will make everyone happy, well except for Bannon who has the next story coming out.  There is a excerpt for that after the ending.  I am looking for it it.  Especially as its off planet. What could go wrong?
I’m recommending this story.  Those of you reading it as a new series are loving it as you have nothing to compare it to.  Those of us who love the first series still need to know what’s happening to all the characters and the overall arc.  This does both and gives us a lovely romance to boot.
Meet you all at Bannon’s story.  See you then.
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design: This is a very nice cover.  Brands the series and its bright and light.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 288 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 164080692X (ISBN13: 9781640806924)
Edition Language English
Series Sci-Regency #4

An Alisa Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A Sci-Regency Novel: sequel to My Regelence Rake 

Opposites don’t just attract… they sizzle.

A lusty special forces soldier who lives by his own set of rules, Dalton Fairfax decided long ago to stop wishing for his father’s love, and he found his calling. Now that he’s back home and between assignments, he finds himself at loose ends. When the opportunity arises to play bodyguard and help out his country, Dalton jumps at the chance. Not only does it keep him busy, but it just so happens that his charge is the man he saw on leave last month and hasn’t been able to get out of his head.

Heir to a dukedom and a conservative politician, Blaise Thompson strives to prove himself worthy of carrying on the family legacy as the next IN Councilman. However, his closest competitor keeps getting in the way and taking credit for Blaise’s ideas. Maintaining his stellar reputation isn’t easy to do while keeping his outrageous younger brother in line and foiling his rival’s personal attacks. He has no time for a guard and even less time for romance.

When a priceless antique goes missing, Blaise and Dalton discover that Regelence has larger problems than just IN plots. Now the only way to stop a scandal that threatens both of them is to compromise, and they are forced to confront the risk of losing everything… even each other.

I was super excited about this book. I have read the original three books more than once and I’ve read all the codas and short stories. I had given up hope that the series would be continued.  Then when I saw the first three were re-releasing I was overjoyed with the prospects of a new book. I went in to this with high hopes.  I’m very happy to say that this met my expectations and then some.
I was initially unsure when I read the blurb because I had figured the book would be about one of the other Townsend brothers. This one is about their cousin Dalton. After I started it I realized it was a great way to stretch out the series and introduce new characters. And, I loved Dalton. Like a lot.
Dalton is more of a handful than any of the other boys and he’s a rake in every way.  But he’s a good guy at heart and once he starts to fall for Blaise he’s totally committed. Blaise was also a really done character. He’s Dalton’s opposite. Blaise is quite proper, is a virgin and very much cares what people think.  I liked that Dalton didn’t try to corrupt or change Blaise. He was very respectful of Blaise’s beliefs. The chemistry between the two jumps off the page. This was more slow burn than the previous books.
There is the ongoing plotline of the corruption in the galactic alliance and there is also a plotline where Dalton & Blaise have their eyes opened to the poverty on their planet.  Both plots were fast paced and entertaining.
It’s a fairly low angst book and the relationship is really sweet and lovely.  There are some very romantic moments between these two.  These two ended up being my favorite couple so far in the series.
For fans of the series I have great news. There’s another book already planned and there is an excerpt at the back of this book. There is also what seems like a set up for another book running through this story. It’s a match up I’m super excited about. I’m not telling you who either couple is though….you’re going to have to read this and find out.
I have no complaints about this story. I loved it from beginning to end and was really glad to be back in this world, with these characters.
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design: I love this cover. I think it’s very eye catching and attractive and the models are a good representation of Dalton and Blaise.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 288 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 164080692X (ISBN13: 9781640806924)
Edition Language English
SeriesSci-Regency #4

A Lucy Audio Review: Rocking the Cowboy by Skylar M. Cates and Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Opposites who go together like country and rock ’n’ roll. 

Long before he was a superstar, Remy Sean had a secret crush on Jed Riley. But Jed sees Remy as a spoiled pop rocker and an extension of his father’s control. Still, Jed is willing to let Remy hide from the press on his ranch—but only as a way to get his father out of his life and business for good. 

Used to being admired and fawned over, Remy keenly feels the sting of Jed’s dismissal. Can he make Jed see him as more than a pain in the ass? Or is Jed too tangled up in his ranch to see past his old hurt?

Jed doesn’t believe someone desired by so many fans could want him, a simple cowboy. But Remy is determined to change Jed’s mind and steal his heart….

Remy goes through a terrible event and it freezes his ability to write music or be in front of a crowd.  It is his manager, Buddy, who comes up with the idea of sending Remy to the ranch Buddy owns and his son, Jed, cares for.  Buddy couldn’t be less interested in the ranch but he is stubborn (and selfish) and won’t sell it to Jed.  So the idea of hosting a diva singer in exchange for Buddy selling Jed the ranch as well as showing up for Jed’s sister’s wedding and giving her away seems like a good one.

Remy definitely doesn’t seem like a spoiled pop star. He owns a mansion that he rarely spends any time in. He mentions things like his clothes and hair products as a must, but he doesn’t whine or throw a fit about anything. He’s more down to earth than the blurb made it seem.  He definitely isn’t used to not being admired, but he wants to earn Jed’s attention and respect.  He takes to the ranch life so well, learning to ride a horse and work around the place.

Jed is quiet, used to the isolation of the ranch and unwilling to admit that the desertion of his father for Hollywood has affected him so much.  At first he takes this out on Remy because Remy was Buddy’s big break, the boy who had the potential to be a big star.  Potential that was fulfilled and Buddy left the ranch to manage his star without looking back.  As the days go on, however, Jed sees what a good person Remy is and what stress he’s been under.  Jed starts to thaw and teach Remy the workings of the ranch.  TShe two become friends and then turn to more. 

Everything is under the cloud of Remy leaving.  Remy is an internationally famous pop star and his life and world is a million miles away from the isolated ranch in the mountains that Jed loves so much.  They know the time is limited and try to make the best of it.  The wedding of Jed’s sister will bring Buddy back to the ranch and Jed knows that will be the end. 

There is not a lot of angst here although there is that sense of “how can this work” throughout.  We do get Jed acting like a brat who won’t listen, Buddy acting like a major ass and pulling a stunt that proves how selfish he is (as if we didn’t know that from his conversation about Nicky, Remy’s horrible ex-boyfriend, before Remy goes to the ranch) and Remy being his lovely self.   I liked how this got worked out and especially that Remy was the strong one throughout. 

Narration by Colin Darcy had an odd nasal quality at times but mostly worked. This was my first audiobook with him as narrator and I would try another one.

This is a sweet, low key story of two opposites who want to make it work. 

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson. Eyecatching and in the style of sthe Dreamspun Desires series.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published January 3rd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 21st 2018)
Original TitleRocking the Cowboy
ASINB07LB5XBH1
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingCalifornia (United States)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ithani (The Oberon Cycle #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Oberon Cycle: Book Three

Time is running out.  After saving the world twice, Xander, Jameson and friends plunge headlong into a new crisis. The ithani—the aliens who broke the world—have reawakened from their hundred millennia-long slumber. When Xander and Jameson disappear in a flash, an already fractured world is thrown into chaos.  The ithani plans, laid a hundred thousand years before, are finally coming to pass, and they threaten all life on Erro. Venin and Alix go on a desperate search for their missing and find more than they bargained for. And Quince, Robin and Jessa discover a secret as old as the skythane themselves.  Will alien technology, unexpected help from the distant past, destiny and some good old-fashioned firepower be enough to defeat an enemy with the ability to split a world? The final battle of the epic science fiction adventure that began in Skythane will decide the fate of lander and skythane alike. And in the north, the ithani rise….

After finishing the book, I knew writing this review was going to be frustrating.  Why?  Because it’s going to be hard to find the words to describe just how incredible Ithani, the final story in The Oberon Cycle truly isJ. Scott Coatsworth left himself quite the task in pulling together all the plot threads and overall monumental trilogy arc and bring them all to all rousing conclusion that not only is beautifully imaginative, but thoroughly satisfying.

But the author accomplished that task and then went further.  This book is magical in its reach and edifying in the joy and depth of its conclusion.  It stretches out past time and space,  it encompasses the past, present, and future with equal verve, heart-stopping action and suspense. It brings to many a deep abiding love in so many forms, a search for self and what that means and, oh, yes the astonishing winged aliens of several species.  Plus the probable end of not one but two worlds.  There are multiple cultures, languages, sciences to understand and embrace along with all the characters that Coatsworth has created.

It’s an absolute tour de force.

I am certainly not giving out any details.  Even now, thinking back on elements and tiny narrative jewels the author will deliver to the reader, I remain so grateful and stunned at the twists and turns he built into Ithani.  Ones that even now continue to astound and delight.  I’m a fan of Coatsworth’s science fiction series the Liminal Sky and, here we find a major storythread that links this trilogy to that one.  For a reader that is not familiar with the Liminal Sky Series, will they feel lost?  Not at all.  This element is beautifully explained and threaded into the plot line, it’s important and as vital as any element in the narrative.  But that it’s linked to another series altogether?  Only those who know and adore the Liminal Sky  will be dancing in dazed joy over this narrative inclusion.

That’s just the way this whole novel goes…like dancing lights above a lake.  It will entrance you, pull you in, leave you to wonder at it all.  And then make you want to take the journey all over again.

I highly recommend the entire Oberon Cycle trilogy, starting with Skythane, then to Lander, and finally to this magical, incredible conclusion Ithani.  It’s February and I already have an addition to my Best of 2019 list this year.  That would be Ithani and the Oberon Cycle.

Cover Artists: Anna Sikorska.  I love the drama and eyecatching colors of this cover.  Great job.

Sales Links:

Buy Now: Dreamspinner Press Buy Now: Amazon KindleBuy Now: AmazonBuy Now: Barnes and NobleBuy Now: KoboBuy Now: iBooks

Book Details:

Paperback and eBook 290 pages
Expected publication: February 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN 1644051125 (ISBN13: 9781644051122)Available on: February 19, 2019
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genres: Romance, Sci Fi
The Oberon Cycle:

Skythane

Lander

Ithani

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: My Fair Brady by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 4. 5 stars out of 5

KC Wells took an old classic—My Fair Lady—one of my all-time favorites—and created a Dreamspun Desires book that gave me all the feels I’d expect from a story with that theme done in the MM romance genre.

In this instance, Brady Donovan is the best PA any exec could hope for. He’s bright, cute, anal about being organized, and anticipates his boss’s every need. Jordan Wolf couldn’t ask for a better assistant, and the sweet, smart nerd with his dark-framed eyeglasses is cute too. When Brady is suddenly no longer there to meet his needs, it takes a few days, but Jordan finally goes to Brady’s place to check on the guy. There he finds a Brady so ill he can’t take care of himself and Jordan’s nurturing side comes out. Added to that, getting to know Brady in a different way tweaks something in Jordan’s heart and he no longer only sees his PA when he looks at the young man.

Not long after that, Jordan asks Brady if he’d be his plus one at a weekend party in the Hamptons, and when he agrees, Jordan treats him to a day at the spa followed by a shopping trip that awakens Jordan’s hidden desires and gives Brady hope that his attraction may not be one-sided after all. Get the picture? Of course, this is based on a well-worn trope, but KC Wells infuses it with new life, and I was transported to my happy place where the smile never leaves my face as I engage with two very nice men who needed a subtle push to get together. 

Are there angsty moments? Definitely, but they’re not overdone. And is there a nasty surprise over the weekend—a protagonist determined to break them up? Well, yes, but there are also friends who won’t let that happen, and there’s the bloom of new love and open communication which seals the foundation of their chance for love.

I totally enjoyed getting to know these characters and was caught up in their lives within the first 10% of the story. The long, slow love scenes were explicit and yet more romantic than a quick hop into bed. KC Wells does this so well. A host of secondary characters round out the cast and add enough to the story without taking it over.

All in all, a very satisfying and heartwarming read. MM romance at its best. 

The cover by Alexandria Corza features a handsome young man, wearing glasses, a button-up shirt and a bowtie. He’s the perfect representation of Brady and the bright colorful cover is very attractive.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 226 pages
Expected publication: February 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07NN5GSDX
Edition Language English

Amy Lane on Courting a Demon and her new release Familiar Demon (Guest Post and Excerpt)

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Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) by Amy Lane

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Reese Dante

Buy Links:   Amazon |   Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Lane here today on tour for her latest release Familiar Demon.  Welcome, Amy.

Courting a Demon By Amy Lane

So, what’s it like to court a demon?

Well, in the case of Edward and Mullins, there’s quite a bit of preparation.

First, Mullins must be ready to get out of hell—it turns out that hell is mostly run by bozos and that the REAL devils are humans without restraint and without conscience who are given the power to hurt. With a judicious use of magic—and some self-realization on his part—Mullins is free to go.

Except, well, about that magic…

Turns out that the spell to release a demon from hell was cooked up a long time ago. All sorts of things—horns of ibexes, dodos eggs, dinosaur bones, three strands of hair from an elven king—are sort of hard to acquire.

And let’s talk about being ready to get out of hell. Lots of us live in hells of our own making. It’s comfy here. We know where the fridge is. The whips for self-flagellation are handy. We know who to blame when the world goes wonky. Why would we want to leave?

So talking Mullins out of staying in hell—and putting together the spell that will get him out when he’s ready—are two of the focal points of the book, and neither of them are easy. So how do you start a planetary scavenger hunt in a minivan and stop a demon for blaming himself for simple human failings?

Well, like so very much else in romance, it all starts with a kiss…

Familiar Demon—Exclusive Excerpt:

“Nice,” Edward said with a sigh. “This was one of few items I didn’t have in the minivan when it blew up.”

“Wait a moment!” Mullins protested. “You… you had most of the ingredients in the minivan before it blew up?”

“Yes. Yes, I did. And then we all went on a mission without Harry and they spotted us and were completely on our tail with guns and Emma pulled us out of the minivan with that boomerang thing she does in her sleep, and the minivan was sailing through the air like an unmanned cruise missile. Are you happy?”

“But… but you were doing this before? Without my knowledge? Edward—why?”

“Because I wanted it all done before we told you!” Edward exclaimed. “I wanted to offer it—and I know it’s silly and simplistic and sad—but I wanted to offer it, like a courting gift, and say, ‘Mullins, I’ve loved you forever. Will you leave hell for me?’ And then everything I’d collected went kaboom and….” Edward’s shoulders slumped. “Harry and Suriel were separated. And I know we told you about it afterward, but… but I thought I was going to lose my brother, Mullins. And I was terrified. So I gave up the search until Suriel was released from heaven, and now—”

“Now you’re ready to search again.” Mullins bowed his head. “Edward, you have nothing to be ashamed about. You should have asked me first—”

“So you could say no?” Edward demanded.

Mullins shook his head, eyes focused on Edward’s loopy scrawl. “I wouldn’t have said no,” he whispered. “Not to you.”

And Edward had to grin, his heart warming in his chest. “And that is the best thing I’ve heard all day. But about that last thing—”

“I’ll search for it,” Mullins told him soberly. “But sometime—not now—I think I’m going to have to tell you the story about how one young cotsman became a demon.”

“I’m waiting to hear it,” Edward whispered. “Mullins, you’re growing thin. Let me kiss you, and you can wear my love under your skin, to protect you until it’s time again.”

Growing thin was the expression Francis had coined for the transparency Mullins formed around the edges before Mullins asked for the words that would banish him back to hell.

“Kiss—”

Edward ignored him, turned his head, and cupped his jaw. His fingers slid through the façade of the beast like a photo projection on the wall, and he could feel the faint bristle of day-old beard abrade his palm. “I can see you, this close, Mullins. I know who I’m kissing. You are a very beautiful man.”

He found Mullins’s mouth unerringly, and Mullins’s gasp of surprise told Edward the touch was alien, and not unpleasant.

Edward breathed softly and found the seam of Mullins’s lips with the tip of his tongue, and Mullins’s breathy little moan sent wildfire ripping through Edward’s blood.

He slid his fingers along the back of Mullins’s round, human skull and plundered.

So many years of depending on this steady, practical demon. So many years wanting to escape the strictures of courtesy and magic that bound them.

And now Edward was tasting him, and he tasted rich, sweet, exotic—Turkish coffee and cinnamon.

Mullins groaned and lifted his hand to Edward’s temple—

And sliced his skin with the sharp edge of his hoof.

Edward gasped and Mullins jerked back, turning away and shrinking inward.

“Let me go,” he murmured, like the last hour of them working together, partnering as though they had a future, had never happened.

“Never.”

Edward reached for his chin and found it—still human under his fingers. He gave a little pull and Mullins reluctantly turned toward him. Edward couldn’t see him anymore, but he could feel him under his fingers. “That kiss is my vow to you, Mullins. I fell in love bit by bit, you understand? For the last fifty years, it’s been you, just you, in my heart, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been there from the very first. You and me, we have things to do together. This isn’t the end. I may let you return to your cell, to gain strength, to think about the challenges we have together, but trust me, I’ll be summoning you again. And if you don’t come, I’ll know you’ve been taken, and thanks to you, I’ve got a plan—”

“What’s the—”

“Enough. Enough of the plan.” Edward smiled and tapped his forehead, calling up his brother’s mantra when things got really hairy. “It’s all up here,” he said.

Mullins didn’t smile back. “You’re right,” he said quietly. “I do have a soul. But if you get hurt before we can make this come true, you’ll break my heart.”

Edward nodded, suddenly sober. “Understood. I’ll say the words to let you go, and I swear I’ll call you back again.” A drop of blood dripped over Edward’s forehead from the cut Mullins had left, and before Edward knew how to react Mullins leaned forward and lapped.

The buzz of magic that passed through the room left them both breathless.

“What the—”

“I’m sorry!” Mullins muttered. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I did that—”

Edward’s cockiest grin took him by surprise. “I do. You locked that promise in blood, you clever boy. I’m sworn to it for real now—written right in the annals of hell, isn’t that how the blood oath goes?”

Mullins shut his eyes. “It was unconscionable—”

“It was heroic!” Edward crowed. “And I owe you the same sort of heart. I’ll get you out of there, beloved. Just hang on, understand?”

To his relief Mullins nodded, and Edward reached out and touched his face tenderly. “Get thee gone, demon,” he said, voice choking on the old words. “Return only when summoned, harm none in this house, harm none at my hearth. Get thee gone.”

And Mullins disappeared, fading into the air, leaving only the heat of his body and his hope behind.

Blurb: 
 

For over a century, Edward Youngblood has been the logical one in a family of temperamental magical beings. But reason has not made him immune to passion, and Edward’s passion for Mullins, the family’s demon instructor, has only grown.

Mullins was lured into hell through desperation—and a fatal mistake. He’s done his best to hang onto his soul in the twisted realm of the underworld, and serving the Youngblood family when summoned has been his only joy. Edward concocts a plan to spring Mullins by collecting a series of items to perform an ancient ritual—an idea that terrifies Mullins. He can’t bear the thought of losing Edward and his brothers to a dangerous quest.

But every item in their collection is an adventure in brotherhood and magic, and as Mullins watches from the sidelines, he becomes more and more hopeful that they will succeed. When the time comes for Mullins to join the mission, can he find enough faith and hope to redeem himself and allow himself happiness in the arms of a man who would literally go to hell and back—and beyond—to have Mullins by his side?

About the Author

Amy Lane lives in a crumbling crapmansion with a couple of growing children, a passel of furbabies, and a bemused spouse. She’s been nominated for a RITA, has won honorable mention for an Indiefab, and has a couple of Rainbow Awards to her name. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action-adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell

If you’ve read a book by RJ Scott or V.L. Locey to name two authors quickly off the top of my head, well, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  If you read some or all of the stories  in The Christmas Angel series by various authors, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  And of course, if you’ve read Forever In The Sun (co authored with RJ Scott) or Fallout,  you’ve seen a cover created by the artist for a book she’s written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus if you are a follower of either RJ Scott or VL Locey or the MM Hockey Romance Group, then you are familiar with the adorable chibis that Meredith Russell draws of the characters of the Harrisburg Railers hockey players and their mates and families.  I’m hoping she will extend it to the Rush soon.  Here is the first chibi she drew.  It’s Tennant Rowe! The others can be found here at

Railers Chibi-style promo pieces

Adorable, right?  If you are a fan of the Harrisburg Railers series by RJ Scott and VL Locey, then you know Ten is featured in a very special story that’s to be released this summer, June 30th 2019.  Here’s a look at the cover by Meredith Russell, of course|
Now onto our interview….

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Meredith Russell on Art, Book Covers and Much More

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

Making a draft varies author to author for me. Some come with ideas, or a set style they’ve adopted, or images they’ve found themselves and so we go down one route and a single draft, and it’s a rather painless process. Then others need to see something to help decide what they actually are after from a cover. I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to exactly how long I spend on a draft. There are various stages I go through – getting any info or ideas from the author, looking at what images are available and which might work together, some back and forth with the author as to whether images fit with what they’re after, and finally the cutting/pasting/making etc of the draft. The time adds up but usually after a few days I have something to show them and a starting point to tweak into something final.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock

I work pretty much exclusively with images from stock sites so I am limited in some ways to what I can find on them and how I can maybe manipulate them into what we need. However, I would love to venture into digital art but I haven’t found the time to devote myself to figuring it out or getting the resources I’d need. I’ve had fun creating some simple drawings for RJ Scott, and a couple of others, who have had me turn their characters into little cartoon people though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again it varies. Some authors have a set idea of what they want. Some (naming no names lol) come to me requesting a man with brown hair and give me a couple of details about the story’s setting. I do like to know about the storyline or at least key moments or places that can be incorporated into the cover.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

What feels like a long time ago now, I used to do bits of fan art, mostly fanfiction banners for myself and some other writers. When RJ Scott went on to self-publishing she asked me to create her a cover and it went from there.

What mediums do you use? 

I work on a pc. I do have a pen and tablet that I use for drawing the cartoon characters (see above), but also a lot of those do actually start out as pencil and paper sketches that I then digitize and use as a guide.

Do you have a favorite cover you have done? 

Oh that’s a tough one. I recently did a set of seven covers for a series called The Christmas Angel. I liked how they turned out along with the challenge some of them offered considering they were all set in different time periods. A few others I really like include Liam Livings’ And Then That Happened, RJ Scott’s Boy Banned, KC Wells’ A Christmas Promise, and an as yet untitled merman cover I created as a premade that Amber Kell bought off me. Somebody should poke her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

I do. I really love Jay Aheer’s work. She does some beautiful pieces.

Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

I don’t think so much as a child. I was more about the title and blurb, particularly considering what was popular in way of covers back then, or at least for the kinds of books I was reading. It wasn’t until maybe early twenties where I started being tempted by pretty covers, quite a few being the YA type books, or having a striking female model on them.

What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

I just really enjoy getting to work with the authors. I enjoy the sharing of emails, building a working relationship and even friendships.

If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

It would be, ‘Have you remembered about that request you got over on Facebook?’ Seriously, I have a terrible memory and am constantly emailing myself or telling people to send details in emails as my inbox is something I have open all day whilst on my computer and can easily check on my phone when I’m not at my desk.

From the Christmas Angel series…

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

Firstly, as an attention grabber. If you’re looking for something beyond the regular authors you read, the title and cover are the first things you’re exposed to so it helps if they make an impression. And secondly, covers can be a way of making a brand for authors. It might be they all have a set look – so maybe a single model on the cover, or simply keeping the font for their name consistent for all their books.

  • How has the eBook format changed that , if any?

I don’t think it’s changed it too greatly, in that whether you’re walking a row of books in a store or scrolling through online pages of somewhere like Amazon, covers are there to grab your attention.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse, generic covers ,etc.)

I think like with everything styles come in and out of fashion. There was the time of the headless models, shirtless torsos, two models, touched up single image covers,  Recently, for me at least, it’s been focusing on a single model on covers, for example The Christmas Angel series and having just one of the characters on there. And unfortunately, because cost is a factor for many authors when paying for cover art, repeated use of models from stock sites is difficult to avoid, but it offers artists the challenge to try and use them differently.

  • How do you feel about them?

Personally, I think the only trend I didn’t like was the headless men one. I know it was a way to make use of limited models in the earlier days, plus allows readers to form their own image of the character simply from whatever descriptions the authors wrote about them, but for me, I just wasn’t a fan. Otherwise, each trend has its place and does its job. There’s a risk of all books looking the same, but that’s then up to the artists, and also the authors and their input, to put their own twist on what’s popular.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

If you’re interested in my work both as an author and cover artist you can view details at my website meredithrussell.co.uk, or find me over at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/meredithrussellauthor. Thank you.

 

About Meredith

Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

Meredith Russell’s Media links
I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s spotlight with Meredith Russell.  It has been a joy getting to know her further.  Please check out more of her artwork and stories at her website listed above.
We have more Artist Spotlights Scheduled. The schedule to date (with links in case you missed one):
February 09:  Aisha Akeju
February 10:   Garrett Leigh
February 17:   Meredith Russell
February 24:  Reese Dante
March  3           Paul Richmond

Cover Artist Giveaway:

Please don’t forget to leave comments or questions for our artists to be entered into our Book Cover Artist Giveaway, a Gift Certificate for $10 the person chosen.  Please leave a email address where you can be reached.  Open until St. Patrick’s Day.
Now for this week’s reviews and tours.  Happy Reading and Listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 17:

  • Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

Monday, February 18:

  • Release Blitz Milo by Lily Morton
  • Amy Lane Author Guest Post
  • Harmony Ink YA John Goode
  • An Alisa Review: Port in a Storm (Kitten and Witch #1) by K.L. Noone
  • A MelanieM Review: Wolff (Redemption #1) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lucy Review: Shine (Uncorked #4) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review: For the Clan by Archer Kay Leah

Tuesday, February 19:

  • Book Blitz for Blood Lust by L.E. Royal
  • Cover Reveal – Broken by Colette Davison
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ithani (The Oberon Cycle #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: My Fair Brady by K.C. Wells
  • A Lucy Audio Review: Rocking the Cowboy by Skylar M. Catesj and  Colin Darcy (Narrator)

Wednesday, February 20:

  • Ostakis by Angelica Primm
  • Review Tour – Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan
  • Cover Reveal,- The Rising by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A Lucy Review: Sweet (Uncorked #5) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan Harbor Cycle #8) by Sam Burns
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez

Thursday, February 21:

  • BLOG TOUR Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock
  • An ALisa Review: The Romantic by Elodie Parkes
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Redemption #2) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lila Review The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon by Megan Derr
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin

Friday, February 22:

  • OLD SINS by Charlie Cochrane Tour by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Jay Northcote – Better Place (Rainbow Place #3)
  • DSP PROMO Andrew Grey on Reunited
  • Book Blast – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • An Alisa Review: Ace of Hearts by Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris
  • A Caryn Review: Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock

Saturday, February 23:

  • Release Blitz Signal – Kris Jacen – Step Up With Me
  • “Ithani” by J. Scott Coatsworth Mark (OWL) Tour
  • A MelanieM Review:  Step Up With Me by Kris Jacen
  • A MelanieM Review Waiting on the Rain by Freddy MacKay

A Stella Release Day Review: Rebound by Andrew Grey

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RATING 2,5 out of 5 stars

Professional basketball player Bri Early needs a physical therapist after an injury, and he’s heard that Obie is the best. Bri takes an immediate liking to the out-and-proud man with the magic touch, and even though Bri isn’t openly gay himself, he’d never let anything stand in the way of something he wants.

Obie can’t deny that the sexy athlete presses all his buttons, but he’s a professional and has no intention of getting involved with a client. While they’re working together, it’s hands off, no matter how great the temptation.

But being a pro athlete isn’t easy. Bri has enemies, and one of them is making his life hell. When his house is set ablaze, Bri can no longer pretend the threatening messages he’s receiving are jokes. He needs a safe place to stay, and Obie can’t turn his back. But the two of them in the same house is a recipe for combustion that could burn them both….

I picked this new release from one of my favorite authors because I know how great Andrew Grey is and I found the blurb quite interesting. Rebound is well written, with a good plot, well defined characters. Plus there was a mystery to solve, something I like to read once in a while.

I have to say the novel started pretty well, easy and fast to read, engaging. I liked the first part a lot, discovering Bri and Obie stories, their meeting and quick friendship, how they actually knew each other without falling in bed. Plus I had some laughs with them and their families.

That said, from a moment the story went down and I struggled a lot to finish it. First of all, I missed the feelings, I wasn’t able to see the emotions the MCs felt, they seemed strangers and things were almost forced. Then the mystery part was really unreal and puzzling, it didn’t make a lot of sense and so the all book lost its strength.

The cover art by Kanaxa is lovely, I like it very much.

Sale Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

DreamSpinner Press

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 194 pages

Published February 12th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781644051412

Edition Language English

A Stella Release Day Review: How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2) by TJ Klune

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Josiah Erickson wants to be a movie star. The problem with that is so does half of Los Angeles. But he’s on his way, what with memorable roles as a TV show background cadaver and a guy in a commercial for herpes medication. All he needs is his big break. And that break may come in the form of a novelist who goes by the enigmatic name of Q-Bert.

Q-Bert, who is ready to make his directorial debut in a film Josy would be perfect for. Q-Bert, who Josy may or may not have a friend-crush on, and potentially something more. Being demisexual can be confusing.

From the City of Angels to the small mountain town of Abby, Oregon, Josy will give his all to make sure his dreams come true—even the ones he never thought possible.

This was another amazing release by TJ Klune, if you already read How To Be A Normal Person, you will be happy to know Gus and Casey will be here in this new adventure too, along with the We Three Queens. I was over the moon, knowing what great journey this story would have been. It couldn’t have be otherwise, since I’m used to the author incredible mind.

I fell into Josy world and I wanted to stay there with him forever. Yes, following Josy and his thoughts wasn’t easy, things were always over the top, sometimes I had to reread some sentences cause I wasn’t sure I understood well his words, but I loved him since the first pages. He has a big heart and it’s clear till the last chapter how a beautiful person he is. And then there’s Quincy, writer, movie director and so much more. It can seem both MCs are frail, but they aren’t, they are both so strong and sure of their dreams. It hurt me to read about Quincy and his long battle with depression, still seeing him build a community among his readers and be an example for people who struggle each day was lovely and emotional, especially in a couple of scenes  (he was stoned in one of them but it was just a little mistake).

There are a lot of second characters, all of them memorable and so unrealistic, I laughed a lot, cried a little and spent an amazing time reading How To Be A Movie Star. It’s a light book but it reads so many topics, some more heavy, that will make you think over and over.  This was simply another winner from one of my favorite authors.

The cover art by Reese Dante is clean and simple as the cover of the first book in the How To Be series is, I like it

SALE LINKS      Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 350 pages

Published February 12th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781640807822

Edition Language English

Series How To Be #2