A Julia Review :Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Watching her father’s termination, twenty-year-old Cristina Mera Richards decides to kill the reaper Edgar Verner. Verner is the resident alkemist of New Bayou, though, and since alkemists are immortal, killing him won’t be easy. But the harvesters are destroying the hovertown one citizen at a time. Edgar Verner must be stopped.

Cristina Mera has a gift for seeing and hearing ghosts. She escorts souls out of bodies ravaged by the withering sickness, taking away their pain. Her gifts are unique. Once it’s clear she’s a changeling, Verner becomes more than interested in having her by his side.

Mysterious Wanderer Alkemist Nikola Skazat is the solution to Cristina Mera’s problems—a delightful and charming one, since Nikola is a woman unlike any Cristina Mera has ever met. Becoming Nikola’s apprentice instead of Verner’s finally gives Cristina Mera the opportunity she needs to save her hovertown. It also puts her heart in high gear, gives her butterflies, and just might get her killed.

Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano is a dystopian novel with elements of Steampunk, Fantasy and Science-Fiction.

What got me hooked right away was the intriguing setting and worldbuilding. Taking place in the future after a nuclear fallout, humans are reduced to living in hovering settlements shielded from the toxic world outside and ruled over by alkemists who process the souls of citizens in order to keep the platforms afloat. First, I thought that this novel would gear mostly towards the Fantasy-genre because of the protagonist’s ability to have Death do her bidding and help sick people pass on peacefully. However, later on, as the origin behind the hovertowns was revealed, the story seemed to edge closer towards Sci-Fi.

I quite liked the protagonist Cristina Mera. She’s strong-willed, brave and knows what she wants. I also rather enjoyed seeing that she made no secret of her immediate attraction for Nikola. Her abilities were quite astounding, and I wished you could have seen a bit more of her interactions with the people she performed her so-called “mercies” on as well as their family members.

Nikola Skazat was the one I took an immediate liking to. From her mannerisms to her clothing style and her profession, she was a particularly intriguing character and I could understand why Cristina became fascinated with her right away. She projected the image of a confident woman who had already seen a lot in her lifetime and felt secure in who she was. I would have very much liked to learn more about her skills as well as seeing her teach some of those to her new apprentice. Still, I did enjoy the dynamic between the two women.

While both the setting and main characters were rather intriguing, and the plot showed potential as well, there were some parts of this novel that bothered me. For one, the first half of the story seemed to be more detailed than the second one and especially the ending felt rather rushed. The same goes for the final confrontation with Verner which fell sort of flat. The plan to take him down seemed not particularly well thought out and while the characters said so themselves, it made me wonder why they didn’t even try to come up with a few more precautions. It all seemed rather ill-advised considering that this operation had apparently been in the making for quite some time.

There were also some potentially very interesting characters like Verner’s liquidator – a type of assassin – or the leader of a rebellious group I would have liked to learn more about.

All in all, this novel showed great potential and some very good writing. Due to the way some elements were handled – particularly the fight with Verner – I sadly cannot give it as high of a rating as I would have liked. But I will definitely be on the lookout for future works by this author (including a sequel to this one) since there were quite some inspired ideas and concepts in there that just needed to be further explored and polished.

The cover design by Catt Ford features a beautiful artwork of Cristina Mera and caught my eye right away.

Sales Links:

      

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages

Published June 13, 2017

by Harmony Ink Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-419-7

Edition Language: English

Amy Spector on Writing, Books, and her release ‘That Rat, Carter Janson (States of Love) by Amy Spector (guest blog)

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That Rat, Carter Janson (States of Love) by Amy Spector
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy Links:Dreamspinner Press || Amazon US || Amazon UK || B&N

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Spector here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest story That Rat, Carter Janson.  Welcome, Amy.

 

Hello, everyone. This is Amy Spector and I’m excited to be here today on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to answer a few questions—I’ll undoubtedly humiliate myself epically—share my new release from Dreamspinner Press, and offer up a chance to win a copy of That Rat, Carter Janson.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Amy Spector

How much of yourself goes into a character? 

I think there’s always something of myself that goes into my characters. Sometimes a little, sometimes an embarrassing amount.

I think when I was first starting out, just learning my skill really, those pieces of me in my characters were more blatant. I’m still learning, still growing as a writer, but I believe they have become more subtle. More subtle and somehow more true to who I actually am.

I think with my newest book, my main characters Felix and Carter are both like me but in very different ways.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

While I always write HEA, I like reading both. The truth is, I am such a sappy romantic at heart—something I didn’t really discover until I started writing—that I’m always convinced that an HFN is going to end up a happily ever after.

For me, Rhett Butler was always going to come back. LOL

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

I read very little romance when I was younger. I mainly read classics and mystery. Then I moved on to horror. I would occasionally pick up a romance novel, but rarely.

It wasn’t until about seven years ago when a friend insisted that I go with her to a romance writers’ convention that it all changed. She dragged me from booth to booth, told me what books to buy, made me stand in line to meet and get autographs from all these people I had never heard of—like J.R. Ward and Charlaine Harris and a dozen others. And even then, those books sat on my bookshelf for more than a year before I finally pulled the first Black Dagger Brotherhood book off my shelf.

After that I was pretty much on a quest to read every paranormal romance I could get my hands on. LOL

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

Truthfully, I wasn’t instantly on board with ebooks when they first showed up on the scene. I liked physical books—the weight of them, the smell of the ink and paper—for a lot of different reasons. Part of it, I think, is that when I was young, we were quite poor and owning a book was a huge thing. I remember being about eight and buying these three old, jacketless Nancy Drew books for a few quarters at a flea market and they were like treasure to me. So I think I still like the ownership part of it, and digital books didn’t give me that same thrill.

Later I fell in love with them. It was the ease of getting books, that I could carry hundreds of books with me all the time. And there was that whole quest to read all things paranormal romance.

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

I’d have to say, it’s a tie between my paranormal romance Cold Fingers and That Rat, Carter Janson.

Cold Fingers was the first book I wrote that was wholly my idea. It was a love letter to the movies that my grandfather showed my mother and my mother, in turn, showed me. And it was the first time I wasn’t writing specifically for an anthology that dictated my story in some way. That Rat, Carter Janson was easily the most work but it also was the most satisfying to write. And it’s all about things that I love, like art, and history, museums and crime.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

People aren’t perfect, and I like to write about that.

I think flawed personalities and bad first impressions are wonderful to play with and explore. I like to present a character and have their true nature slowly revealed because we all put up fronts and show the world a facade. I like to have a reader say … Oh, I didn’t like him at first, but now I think he’s wonderful.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

I’ve never done that with an entire story. I have certainly done it with scenes many, many times.

The very first scene in That Rat, Carter Janson was the first thing I wrote. I removed it shortly after, convinced it didn’t work.

Months later, when I was almost finished with the book, I put the scene back in, added the last line, and realized it was exactly what the story needed.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I haven’t but I want to! I’m pretty much convinced it’s the answer to all those scenes I find myself struggling with. But I have young children, and a husband who could sleep through the apocalypse. And, since I do most of my writing at night, I figure one of us needs to be able to get everyone out of the house if there’s a fire. LOL

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I would love to write from a deck over looking the ocean. I already love writing outside—the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the breeze—and I can think of no better soundtrack or better view, then the waves of the ocean.

It would need to be a miraculously deserted beach. Half-naked beach goers could be distracting. Or maybe they’d be just the inspiration I need!

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To wide our knowledge?  Why do you write?

Honestly? It sometimes makes it hard to write at all.

I’ll be stressing over some scene or other, or worrying that a story subplot isn’t working and I’ll see the news—and the newest nightmare unfolding—and I’ll think… Who cares about a damn book? The world is falling apart. Then I’ll think about how often I have allowed myself to escape into a story, had the way I thought about something irreversibly changed by a simple piece of fiction, or found happiness for just a little while in the pages of a book. Then I’ll keep going.

What’s next for you as a writer?

There’s the question, isn’t it?

When I started That Rat, Carter Janson, I didn’t really see it as more than a standalone story. But, by the time I was ready to write the end I had fallen in love with too many of the characters—had played matchmaker in my head—and I knew I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye forever. And, being the HEA sucker I am, I knew I’d have to revisit them.

I currently have a novel length story in the works starring two of the secondary characters from the story.

***

That Rat, Carter Janson (States of Love 35)

Blurb:

Every man has secrets, but some are bigger than others….

Felix Peake escaped a shady past to carve out a successful career as an expert in Mesopotamian art and gain the respect of the Chicago art community. But when an assistant curator—a man Felix could easily see himself falling for—asks him to reauthenticate a cuneiform tablet to avoid a looming scandal, Felix’s carefully constructed life could crumble.

The tablet is a fake, and Felix is intimately familiar with the artist. Master forger Carter Janson—Felix’s ex and first love—disappeared from his life six years before without a word of explanation. Now, to hold his world together, Felix must find the original tablet, steal it back, and replace the forgery—all before the museum exhibit debuts. It’ll mean slipping back into a role Felix wanted to leave behind and risking his promising future. But even then, he can’t do it alone. He’ll have to confront that rat, Carter Janson.

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

***

About Amy Spector

Amy Spector grew up in the United States surviving on a steady diet of old horror movies, television reruns, and mystery novels.

After years of blogging about comic books, vintage Gothic romance book cover illustrations, and a shameful amount about herself, she decided to try her hand at writing stories. She found it more than a little like talking about herself in third person, and that suited her just fine.

She blames Universal for her love of horror, Edward Gorey for her love of British Drama and writing for awakening the romantic that was probably there all along.

Amy lives in the Midwest with her husband, children, and her cats Bowie and Poe.

Connect with Amy online: Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads || Website/Blog

An Alisa Release Day Review: Beneath This Mask (Enhanced #3) by Victoria Sue

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Gael Peterson has spent years hiding behind the enhanced abilities he wears like a mask, even though he is an important, confident member of the FBI’s exclusive H.E.R.O. team. The hurt and betrayal of his mom’s abandonment and his father’s fists are secrets buried deep beneath the ugly scars on his face, and he doesn’t trust Jake, his new regular human partner, with any of them. In a world where those with special abilities like Gael’s are regarded as freaks and monsters, it won’t be easy for him to rely on Jake to have his back, especially when the abilities of a vulnerable nonspeaking enhanced child make that child a murder suspect.

Tempers rise and loyalties are challenged, and when the serial killer targeting the enhanced finally sets his sights on Gael, not only will Gael have to trust Jake with his secrets, he might have to trust him to save his life.

This was another great story in the Enhanced World series.  I loved getting to see some more insight into other members of the team in this book.  Talon and Jake both make some assumptions about the other and slowly learn to trust themselves and each other.

Gael uses his uniform as a mask and doesn’t want anyone to see the vulnerability that is inside of him.  While Jake has been hurt in the past just not in the same ways as Gael, his need to take care of others helps break down some of Gael’s walls.

I loved both of these characters.  Gael’s soft heart and ability to connect with all those around him is wonderful, I loved seeing him with Derrick and the trust the young boy showed him.  Jake has made mistakes in the past but is working through his own hurt, some of the best mental healing he got was when Gael got the opportunity to take care of him.  I love Jake’s declaration of love to Gael and how much he wanted to build a family together.  It’s looking like the next book is going to feature Vance and I can’t wait to learn more about him and Samuel, his new regular human partner.

I love the cover art by Brooke Albrecht and it gives some wonderful visuals for the story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages

Published: January 16, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-128-8

Edition Language: English

Series: Enhanced World #3

An Alisa Release Day Review: Ghost of a Chance (Requiem Inc. #1) by Kris T. Bethke

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Only love makes life worth living—over and over again.

Ghostwalker Blake Jones dies every day. It’s his job and how he helps trapped souls cross over. But to return to life, he needs an anchor. His new partner, Derek Scott, is a surprise. Not only is he male, but his appearance belies a caring and gentle heart. Despite attraction and a strengthening relationship, they know they shouldn’t take things further.

But there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.

Their growing love presents a problem, though not the one they expect. Blake and Derek have to decide if they should take their relationship to the most permanent level—an unbreakable metaphysical bond. Doing so offers both risk and unimaginable reward. Can Blake let go of his fears and put his complete trust in Derek in order to have the happily ever after he’s always craved?

I absolutely loved this story.  Blake is used to people leaving him, his only constant has been his brother and boss and fright from the get go he wants to see if Derek has it in him to stay.  Derek is willing to take that bet from the start and exceed anyone’s expectations.

Blake’s biggest fear is someone he loves leaving him, his parents kicked him and his brother out after they learned about the ghostwalker gene and all his lovers leave once they realize he is a ghostwalker.  Derek has always wanted someone to take care of completely, he begins while they are sequestered but gets more of a chance to take care of Blake in every way as their relationship evolves.  If only they were more informed about the anchor bond.

Blake and Derek are wonderful.  Blake finding the support and strength he so desperately needs in Derek and seeing him finally able to put aside his fears was perfect.  Derek is so grounded and it’s in his nature to take care of others but he can tell from the beginning that it means more with Blake.  I could feel both of these characters emotions throughout the whole story; Blake’s fear when he had a problem in the spirit realm and Derek’s when Blake came back to life to quickly are the biggest and made my heart stop for a second.  This story is a great beginning to this new series and hope it continues.  I really hope to see Blake’s brother, Sam, find the happiness he is looking for too.

The cover art by Aaron Anderson is great and gives a wonderful visual of Blake.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages

Published: January 16, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-034-2

Edition Language: English

BA TORTUGA ON Playlists, Country Songs, and her release ‘Fighting Addiction’ (guest blog and playlist)

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Fighting Addiction (Fighting Addiction) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Buy Link:  Dreamspinner Press 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is once again thrilled to host BA Tortuga here today on tour with her release Fighting Addiction. Welcome, BA!

🎤

Howdy, y’all. I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and country music addict.

I’m a huge music fan and I can’t write without the right music playing; it’s a vastly important part of my process. Let me tell you, when you’re writing musicians? It’s more than important. It almost is the process of learning the characters.

When Sebastian and Markus took over my head, I admit, the playlist took over the entire house. Every song resonated with this song and, unlike many playlists, I didn’t delete it when the story was over.

I guess Sebastian and Markus aren’t done singing to me yet.

😀

BA Tortuga

Fighting Addiction Playlist

Play Me That Song — Brantley Gilbert

Alone with You — Jake Owen

Another Morning After — Bleu Edmondson

Back Where I Come From — Kenny Chesney

Been There, Done That — Luke Bryan

Better Than I Used to Be — Tim McGraw

Come Over — Kenny Chesney

Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Love You — Trent Willmon

Don’t — Jewel

Even If It Breaks Your Heart — The Eli Young Band

Feel Like a Rock Star — Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw

Hard to Love — Lee Brice

Hotel California — The Eagles

How Bad Do You Want It — Tim McGraw

I Can’t Love You Back — Easton Corbin

I Loved You When — Roger Creager

Kristofferson — Tim McGraw

Me and You — Kenny Chesney

Put Your Lovin’ On Me — Tim McGraw

Right Back Atcha Babe — Tim McGraw

She Don’t Get High — Alan Jackson

Somewhere with You — Kenny Chesney

Truck Yeah — Tim McGraw

The Truth — Trent Willmon

Welcome to the Fishbowl — Kenny Chesney

What I’d Give — Sugarland

Whiskey and You — Tim McGraw

Wishing — Sugarland

You and Tequila Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter

About Fighting Addiction

Country hat act Markus Kane is skeptical when he’s asked to do a joint tour. He hasn’t seen Sebastian Longchamps since he gave up drinking—and since their compulsion for each other nearly cost them both their livelihoods. But Markus’s career is on the downhill slope, while the country-fried Cajun rocker’s star is still rising. His label thinks it’ll be a match made in ticket-sales heaven.

Sebastian knows better. One wrong move and Markus will break his heart all over again. This time he has much more to lose.

Time has changed both men, though, and while Markus and Sebastian try to fight their addictions, the big music industry machine has plans for them that don’t include a quiet retirement. Can Markus convince Sebastian that there are things in life more important than adrenaline and control? And can Sebastian make Markus understand that all he really wants is his music and his man?

Second Edition

About BA Tortuga

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

Jeff Adams and Will Knauss on Video Tour for The Hockey Player’s Heart (Hockey Hearts #1) (vid and giveaway)

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The Hockey Player’s Heart (Hockey Hearts #1)
by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Bree Archer

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon: | iBooks  | Kobo  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jeff Adams and Will Knauss here today on their Video tour for The Hockey Player’s Heart.  Welcome, Jeff and Will.

🎤

Hi! We’re thrilled to be here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for the blog tour for The Hockey Player’s Heart. We hope you’ll have a look at the video to see an interview we did with each other using Scattered Thoughts great question list. Plus there are some other goodies below the video too, including giveaway info!

https://youtu.be/kQVeX6MlvDk

Blurb

Hometown hero. Hockey superstar. Perfect boyfriend?

When hockey star Caleb Carter returns to his hometown to recover from an injury, the only thing he’s interested in is a little R & R. He never expects to run into his onetime crush at a grade school fund-raiser . Seeing Aaron Price hits him hard, like being checked into the boards. The attraction is still there, even after all these years, and Caleb decides to make a play for the schoolteacher. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, right?

Aaron has been burned by love before and can’t imagine what a celebrity like Caleb could possibly see in a guy like him. Their differences are just too great. But as Aaron spends more time with Caleb, he begins to wonder if he might have what it takes to win the hockey player’s heart.

Excerpt

Caleb worried that Aaron wasn’t having a good time. The evening was supposed to just be two people catching up. Yes, Caleb found Aaron more attractive than ever, and he’d love the chance to take things further. But he wouldn’t risk the renewed friendship, or Pam’s wrath, just to get what he’d wanted since he was sixteen. So far Aaron hadn’t seemed interested in going down that path.

“You sure this walk’s a good idea?” Even as he asked, Aaron led them away from where the SUV was parked and down a sidewalk filled with storefronts.

“If my foot acts up, I’ll let you know,” Caleb said as he looked at the buildings around them. “This area has really transformed. Pam said there’d been changes, but this is quite impressive.”

“Most of it’s happened in the last year. Nate moving in and updating the look of the building before he opened has a lot to do with it, from what I’ve heard. New places are still popping up in this area too.”

“I remember when hardly anything was open after seven, even on the weekends.” Caleb traded nods with the people who acknowledged him. “It’s weird seeing all this activity and it’s almost nine.”

“Pam and I spent many weekend nights sitting in the same booth at Denny’s because it was the only place open late.”

Caleb enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Denny’s was the place he and his teammates would go after hockey games because it could easily accommodate a couple dozen hungry teenagers. “It still around?”

“Oh yeah. Most of the new places are too expensive for the high school crowd, so they still end up there.”

“It’d be fun to get Pam and hang out in your old booth.” Caleb laughed at his idea. “If you’d let me, that is. You two never wanted me to hang around there.”

“You were a junior and her brother. It just wasn’t right.” Aaron became more animated and Caleb liked it. It was the freest Aaron had been all evening. “As the local sports star, I think you’d decide who could sit with you. And I’m sorry to say, our booth is gone. They remodeled, and that side of the restaurant is all freestanding tables and chairs.”

“I can’t believe Pam let them do that.”

“Right. Although she blames me since I wasn’t here to help stop it.” Aaron’s mood faltered. Caleb knew Pam would’ve only meant that as a joke, so the reaction was strange. “Sometimes she acts like I didn’t miss her because I didn’t visit, but it just never worked out.”

About the Authors

Jeff Adams and Will Knauss are husbands, authors, and podcasters based in Northern California. They write gay romances, sometimes together and other times separately. Jeff also writes young adult LGBT fiction. Together they host Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast, a weekly show devoted to gay romance literature and the pop culture they love.

Websites:

Jeff: JeffAdamsWrites.com

Will: WillKnauss.com

Podcast: BigGayFictionPodcast.com

Giveaway

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On Tour:

Heartbreak, Hearthounds, And A Tale of Two Winstons. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Heartbreak, Heartterriers, And A Tale of Two Winstons

My heart is breaking this Sunday.  On Friday, after what was supposed to be a routine visit to the vet, for annual shots and to check out a cough, I found out that my redoubtable terrier, Winston has an aggressive tumor in the spleen, a cancer that’s already metastasized to his lungs. Prognosis is most likely one week.  This from a boy who was after a skunk, and racing the fence with a deer only days ago.  I’m in complete shock and utterly devastated.  He’s my heart terrier, my boon companion.  I was sure I would have him for at least 10 more years as I had the Winston before.  But its not to be and by this time next Sunday, my Winston will be gone.

So, because I’m in pieces and I need to spend as much time as I can with him, I’m re-posting this morning A Tale of Two Winstons, the journey of how this magnificent Winston came into my life.  Oh, he will always be a part of my heart. He’ll be so missed.

WinstonII home

 

A Tale of Two Winstons

 

Somethings are just meant to be, no explanation, no rational reason, they just are.  Somewhere a song is sung, a ripple forms in the water, a door closes, a window opens, and a dog finds its way back to its forever home.

It’s been a week to the day that Winston died, and this household has been a very changed, quiet place.  The dogs have been upset and grieving as have I.  Then this morning we woke to the smell of gas.  Flinging open the windows, we called the gas hotline and quickly the emergency crew arrived to locate the source and shut down the gas line.  It was a small issue, one quickly resolved but it meant that we were all home for the day, an unlikely occurrence. We had food we intended to donate to the local animal shelter and now had the time to do it. I checked the computer for address and hours of operation for the Montgomery County Humane Society.

There on the website was a picture that riveted me.  Up for adoption, dog 151 who looked remarkably like Winston.  I tucked that picture into my head, gathered up the food and we left for the shelter.  I checked in and we waited for our name to be called to state our business.  Upon hearing my name, I approached the desk and they gave me a slip, asked what dog I wanted to see and directed me to the back towards the kennels.  I didn’t correct them.

Through the door, past kennels full of dogs needing homes.  I averted my eyes, my heart sore.  We approached a cage, I looked down and nearly fainted.  There he stood, tail waving, face open and smiling, his entire body shaking in happiness – Dog 151.  He looked just like Winston, almost identical.  The attendant hooked him up to a leash and we took him outside, all the while telling us he just came in yesterday.  He was neutered, 4 years old, and had been rehomed twice.  We looked at him, he looked at us, and I heard myself saying “we want him, we want to adopt him”.  There was never a moments hesitation.

She handed us a slip of paper.  How can something so flimsy carry such weight?  It meant that he was taken.  How I hated leaving him there in the kennels while the routine paperwork had to be filed.

There were pages to fill out, and pages of information about him to be received.  Instead of having to wait for an interview, somehow someone was available to interview us immediately instead of the usual waiting period.  We sat and waited for our name to be called,  looking over the paperwork.  I was focused on the staff,  when I heard my name called out.

“Melanie, his name is Winston.”

“What?”

“His name is Winston!!!!!”

Disbelieving, I looked at the paper she was holding up.  There, plain as day, next to the name for the dog being given up was the word Winston.  Dog 151 was Winston.   The tears that had been threatening from the moment I saw him spilled over.  The staff asked about the tears and the story of Winston poured out.  Even they thought the series of events unlikely.  The wonderful person who was our adoption counselor. Addie Soares who interviewed us had Winston brought in and he was as much a part of the interview process as we were. Sitting at our feet, body wagging a mile a minute, it was clear to all we were a family.  We talked some more and then she asked if we wanted to take him home today.  The answer was a resounding “yes”.

We had been warned he would likely bolt because of past issues so they gave us all new tags, harness and collar.  We keep a leash in the car just in case a dog needs to be rescued.  Out to the jeep we went.  Winston took one look at the car and leaped for the seat.  The ride home was a breeze as he sat safe and interested in my lap.  Then we were home.  Questions formed in my mind.  What would Willow and Kirby think?

I shouldn’t have worried. Willow kissed him, and Winston kissed her back.  Kirby came running up, happy to greet him.  Turns out Winston was just as overjoyed to see Kirby.  We employed the usual tactics to introduce new dogs to each other but really we needn’t have bothered.  Much sniffing ensued, much licking ensured, much peeing ensued, and they were fine.  So were we, again.

Now we are all ensconced on the bed, watching The Voice, and the dogs are sleeping peacefully next to us on the bed as well.  This is why king sized beds were invented.  Winston’s feet are moving in his sleep, his brows moving in tandem.  His slumber is full of dreams. Willow is curled up on her pillow and Kirby is doing his normal imitation of a teenage boy, unmoving and splayed out.  We are at peace, and we are whole once more.

There are certainly differences between them as it should be.  One is not the other.  One is not the replacement for the other, and their differences are to be celebrated.  This Winston has a long undocked tail, and a wide open personality.  This Winston lacks the arduous back history of my other Winston.  That Winston was wary of new circumstances, never taking treats or unfamiliar food.  This Winston took two treats immediately and then looked for more.  But there are also similarities.  The huge personality that says I will not give in, that persistent nature, hearty spirit and indomitable soul.

He is sleeping on his back now, at ease in posture and attitude.  Winston knows he is home.

They had asked us if we intended to keep the name Winston.  I looked at him, and thought of all the things that came together for us to become a family, and replied “yes, that is his name.”  He is Winston, a different Winston but Winston none the less.  Different but equal.

A song is sung, a wing beats on the wind, a direction is chosen, ripples form and a dog comes home just as another leaves.  Who is to say how these patterns are formed, and the paths chosen?   Somehow I know this was meant to be and Winston is smiling down upon us.  I will always love my Winston and miss him.  I will celebrate and welcome this Winston’s homecoming.

One is mourned and one is found.  A home is made whole as is a heart.  I swear I hear a song and a bark in the air…..

Here is Winston finally in his forever home.WinstonII asleep

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 14:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Cover Reveal for LOVE TIMES FIVE by Lily G Blunt

Monday, January 15:

  • Review Tour – Lost In Time – A.L. Lester
  • BLITZ Beneath the Surface by Rebecca Langham
  • BLITZ Life After Humanity by Gillian St. Kevern
  • A Caryn Review: Lost In Time by A.L. Lester
  • A Stella Review: Friends and Lovers by Tinnean
  • An Ali Review:  A Purple Winter by Mel Bossa

Tuesday, January 16:

  • Bleeding Like Me by Riley Parks Tour
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Jeff Adams and Will Knauss VIDEO
  • DSP GUEST POST BA TORTUGA ON Fighting Addiction
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Fighting Addiction (Fighting Addiction) by B.A. Tortuga
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Beneath This Mask (Enhanced #3) by Victoria Sue
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Ghost of a Chance (Requiem Inc. #1) by Kris T. Bethke

Wednesday, January 17:

  • Cover Reveal for Selina Kray’s In Wild Lemon Groves
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway for Tribute Act by Joanna Chambers
  • Blog tour for Resist and Triumph charity anthology
  • An Ali Review: Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) by Lisa Henry
  • A MelanieM Review:  Tribute Act (Porthkennack #8) by Joanna Chambers
  • A Stella Review:The Fortune Hunter by Bonnie Dee

Thursday, January 18:

  • DSP Promo Amy Spector
  • Release Day Blitz A Way with You by Lane Hayes
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Romantic Behavior by LA Witt and Cari Z
  • A Julia Review :Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Spun! by JL Merrow and Mark Steadman (Narrator)
  • A Stella Pre Release Review: When the Devil Wants In by Cate Ashwood and J.H. Knight

Friday, January 19:

  • Book Blast – The Loss of Self – An Intimate Autobiography by Alek Martin
  • Release Blitz – The Station – Keira Andrews
  • Review Tour – Coach’s Challenge (Cayuga Cougars #3) – V.L. Locey
  • A MelanieM Review: Coach’s Challenge (Cayuga Cougars #3) by V.L. Locey
  • An Ali Review: An Amy Lane Christmas by Amy Lane (bundle)

Saturday, January 20:

  • A MelanieM Review: On Davis Row by N.R. Walker
 

A MelanieM Review: Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Neither of them wants to fall in love, but getting exactly what they don’t want might be the best thing to ever happen to them.

Mark hopes his boredom with his current job will be alleviated by a short stint in Basel, Switzerland. When he meets Steffen, who struck out on his own from an old-money family to establish an IT firm, Mark expects some fun, great sex, and a clean break when his job is done. The arrangement is perfect for Steffen, who has been content with casual after a betrayal—and has a taste for British men after attending university in the UK. But as they explore the city’s rich history and traditions, Mark begins to see Steffen as much more than a tour guide with benefits. If he isn’t careful, the trip meant to break the lull in his career might end up breaking his heart instead….

I’m very fond of Rebecca Cohen’s stories, from historical romances of The Crofton Chronicles to the contemporary Treading the Boards series, she always brings something different, a decided depth and twist to her novels.  So I was interested to see where her new story, Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks, would take me.  Surprisingly it took me to her home.

As the author states in her forward, Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks is as much a love letter to Basel, Switzerland as it is a contemporary romance.  That’s so true.  Rebecca Cohen’s love for her adopted city shines through every scene, every description, glowing like a adoring spotlight over this historical place that’s the location for Mark and Steffen’s love story.  I have to admit I was googling as fast as I was reading, so alluring and warm did Basel become in my mind.  It is a fully formed main character, as much as Mark and Steffen, enfolding them both with the culture, cobbled streets, sounds, and even flavors of Basel itself.  I want to go so badly my fingers are itching to hit Priceline.com or whatever link, book and go!

And with all that, it doesn’t overshine the easy, sweet romance of Mark and Steffen who fall in love over a simple arrangement and look like they have found their HEA.  Normally I don’t do any sort of instant love.  But here with Mark and Steffen, both men are older, coming out of relationships where they can define what didn’t work, and know what they want.  In other words, they are ready.  Right age, right timing.  It happens that way.  And the author makes it believable.  I believed not only in both men, their different personalities, their workplaces, everything.  Oh and the differences in where they lived!

I liked knowing where they took the train to, what stations they got off at.  It gave me a real feel for the city.  The walk to the Zoo and the penguins!  It made the book feel intimate and authentic.  Oh, and the Carnival in Basel, the Basler Fasnacht, along with the 4am Morgestraich, a parade unlike any other.  And so much more.  The reader is right there, watching with Mark and Steffen, laughing and amazed!

Really, it’s hard to remember this story is only 132 pages.

But every page is a jewel.  Of romance, of loving information conveyed to Mark and the reader about Basel, and a terrific love story as well.  Hard to beat that!  If you love contemporary romance and travel too,  Not All Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks
by Rebecca Cohen is a great combination of both.  Pick it up.  I highly recommend it.  And yes, I’d love to return and visit them again.

Cover Design: Brooke Albrecht. What a great cover. Incorporates both Basel and a model that’s the character. Love it.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner

Book Details:

Dreamspinner Press’ World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

ebook, 132 pages
Expected publication: January 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640800731
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Blitz & Review Tour for Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks by Rebecca Cohen (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 45,613 words
 
Cover Design: Brooke Albrecht
 
 
Blurb
 

Neither of them wants to fall in love, but getting exactly what they don’t want might be the best thing to ever happen to them.

Mark hopes his boredom with his current job will be alleviated by a short stint in Basel, Switzerland. When he meets Steffen, who struck out on his own from an old-money family to establish an IT firm, Mark expects some fun, great sex, and a clean break when his job is done. The arrangement is perfect for Steffen, who has been content with casual after a betrayal—and has a taste for British men after attending university in the UK. But as they explore the city’s rich history and traditions, Mark begins to see Steffen as much more than a tour guide with benefits. If he isn’t careful, the trip meant to break the lull in his career might end up breaking his heart instead….

Excerpt

Mark had two and a half months left in Basel, and the idea of several weeks of no strings attached sex was as exhilarating as it was nerve-racking. It was the kind of offer his younger self would’ve jumped at—but he wasn’t that man anymore, and he wasn’t sure he could be again. “I wouldn’t say reticence.”

“No? Then perhaps my English is rusty, as I do not have a better word for it.”

“Okay, you’ve a point. But you have to understand that it’s not every day that an attractive man states so bluntly that he wants to fuck me.”

“Then the men in the UK are stupid. Or you are not mixing with the right type of men.”

Steffen wasn’t completely wrong. The truth was he had spent his university days shagging about, enjoying the writhing mass of bodies in the clubs and gay bars. At the time he’d loved the anonymous and varied encounters, but then he’d decided he needed to grow up and join the adult world. Suit, tie, steady job, and long-term boyfriend, with cozy Friday nights in and dinners for two, not body shots and glory holes. “I gave up clubbing after university. These days I don’t go to the type of places where men go to keep things casual.”

Steffen seemed to consider his response before replying. “So it would be the fleeting nature of our encounters that would bother you?”

“Possibly. I suppose my needs changed, and I wanted more than the emptiness of another hollow shag.” It felt like an important admission, something he’d never talked about before, but it needed to be said to explain why he wasn’t dragging Steffen out of the restaurant and back to his lodgings. “The only one-night stand I’ve had in the last ten years turned into a yearlong relationship. I hadn’t planned it. It just sort of happened.”

Steffen waved a piece of veal in his direction. “I cannot give you permanence.”

“I’m not asking for it,” Mark added quickly, and he meant it.

“What I am hearing is you are not against the theory of enjoying a few weeks of fun before you return home. But equally, I am not convinced you are fully in favor either. If you do not wish this, we will finish our dinner, shake hands, and depart as friends. You are not beholden, either way.”

Steffen wasn’t offering an anonymous shag. It wasn’t thanks for the fuck, now fuck off, but instead something in the middle. Mark’s love life had been in the doldrums since John left, ostensibly because Mark’s job had eaten away any free time and John had decided enough was enough. He didn’t have any more free time now, and that wasn’t going to change, which would no doubt annoy any new boyfriend, so why not take Steffen up on his offer? He picked up his wine and took a sip of liquid courage. “Throw in being my personal tour guide of the city and I’m in.”

Steffen offered up his wineglass in a toast. “I plan to give Basel Tourism Office a run for their money.”

Mark copied and took a sip of his wine. Never had agreeing to sleep with someone felt so formal, borderline making a business deal. But somehow it didn’t feel wrong; instead it was as though he was entering something that didn’t require constant renegotiation. He would know where he stood with Steffen. Sex, hopefully very good sex, if he was lucky, and he suspected Steffen’s experience might make up for his own rusty skills and help polish them up nicely. “Let’s hope I don’t find you lacking—I’d hate to leave a terrible review on TripAdvisor.”

“Oh, there are plenty of people who can attest to my abilities.” Steffen waggled his eyebrows. “I will give you my personal guarantee that you will not find me wanting—in any capacity.”

Mark skewered the last piece of meat. “You’re certainly not lacking in confidence.”

“Have you only just noticed?”

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here! We highly recommend it.

Author Bio

Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Blog: http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/ 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710
Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes

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Andrew Grey on Cemeteries for Sale, Inspiration, and his new story Buried Passions (author guest blog)

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Buried Passions by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

For Sale: Cemetary by Andrew Grey

This story came about because of the lead story in the local newspaper here in Carlisle from this summer.  I was visiting my dad in the hospital after he’d become ill, sitting with him waiting for his discharge.  It read that one of the cemeteries in town was for sale.  He and I both got a laugh out of it, especially the for sale by owner signs.  It was true.  A cemetery owned by one of the funeral homes that was started in the 1840’s was for sale.  That got me wondering and my fevered little brain churning.  What of it didn’t sell, then someone would inherit a cemetery.   The result is Buried Passions.  Now in case you think I’m pulling your leg, I’ve got proof.  The pictures are of the local cemetery with the for sale signs.
The place is stunning with huge pillared stones and even a section with civil war dead.  It’s fun to walk though just to look at the various carved pieces that are amazing memorial art.  So anyone in the market?  After all, you could own dead people .  🙂

Blurb/Synopsis:

When Broadway actor Jonah receives word that his uncle has passed away and named him the heir to a property in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Jonah’s plan is to settle the estate as quickly as possible and return to his life in New York City. Much to Jonah’s surprise, the inheritance includes the Ashford Cemetery—and its hunky groundskeeper, recent Bosnian immigrant Luka Pavelka.

Jonah soon discovers Luka is more than easy on the eyes. He sees into Jonah’s heart like no man ever before, and his job at the cemetery is all he has. If Jonah sells, Luka is left with nothing. Luka is there for Jonah when Jonah needs someone most, and there’s no denying the chemistry and connection between them. But Jonah has a successful career back in New York. Now he must decide if it’s still the life he wants….

Excerpt 

I found it hard to breathe, like all the oxygen had been pulled out of the air. “You’re telling me that my uncle left me a cemetery? This cemetery?” What the fuck was I supposed to do with a goddamn cemetery?

“Yes. Parts of it date back to when the town was founded, in 1750, and it was apparently increased in the mid-1800s to the twelve or so acres it is today. Back then, this was beyond the edge of town by a good half mile, so it was a perfect place for a cemetery. When your uncle had the mortuary business, he sold plots here. There are still some that can be sold, as well as a trust fund for the care of the cemetery. Perpetual care and all that. But yes, this is part of the estate.”

He sounded so damned reasonable, like I’d just inherited an office building or apartment complex. Not a cemetery.

“Let me get this straight.” I was afraid to take a step in case the damn ground opened up and swallowed me whole. “You’re telling me that this is part of my inheritance…?” I didn’t know what else to say. I was shocked and scared all at once. What the hell would I do with a cemetery? “Oh my God.” I placed my hands on the sides of my head. “I own dead people.”

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)