First of Our Best of 2018 Lists. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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First of Our Best of 2018 Lists

So this Sunday we are starting off with our first of our Best of 2018 lists.  First up is our reviewer Alisa with her Top Stories down to her Top Covers.  Yes, we have always shared our love of book covers here along with our appreciation of the various artists talents.  Lately we have had some new names appear doing absolutely incredible covers alongside the artists who represent the best in the industry.  So make sure you check out all the names to go along with the beautiful covers we put out there.  Maybe give us a few suggestions of your own.

Also relatively new are the narrators in the  audiobook Best of category.  I listen to more and more audiobooks every year and can’t stress the importance of a fabulous narrator.  They can make or break an audiobook.  Check out who Alisa has as her favorites below.  Do you have yours?

Each week we will roll out more lists…keep an eye out to see how our lists compare with yours.  Did you miss some books?  Did we agree on others?  Let me know!

 

From Alisa:

2018 Top Stories/Novels

Guarding His Melody by Victoria Sue

Blood for the Spilling by TJ Nichols

Promises Part 4 by AE Via

Elemental Magick by Jacki James

Us by Shaw Montgomery

Professor Adorkable by Edie Danford

Discovery by Quinn Ward

Expecting by Sarah Havan

After the Weekend by Silvia Violet

The Swap by Annabella Michaels

Best Audiobooks

Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn, narrator Kirt Graves

Kairos by Mary Calmes, narrator Michael Fell

Freckles by Amy Lane, narrator Nick Russo

BFF by KC Wells, narrator Michael Mola

Pins and Needles by AJ Thomas, narrator Jason Riley

Best Series

Men of Meadowfall by Anna Wineheart

Studies in Demonology by TL Nichols

Promises by AE Via

Requiem Inc. by Kris T. Bethke

College of United Monsters by CB Archer

Cold Case Psychic by Pandora Pine

Enhanced World by Victoria Sue

The Accidental Master by MA Innes

Kink in the City by Quinn Ward

Strength by MA Innes

Best Covers

Blood for the Spilling by TJ Nichols, cover artist Catt Ford

Heart of a Redneck by Jodi Payne, cover artist Alexandria Corza

Edge of Living by HL Day, cover artist HL Day

Elemental Magick by Jacki James, cover artist Vicki Brostenianc

Expecting by Sarah Havan, cover artist Melissa Liban

 

Now here is this week at our blog.  We continue with more Advent Calendar stories, I have reviewed an incredible M/M historic romance today called The Bibliophile by Drew Marvin Frayne.  You really should check that out. The Yakuza Path series by Amy Tasukada is as far from a holiday saga as you can get.  But it’s brilliant, bloody, and a must read. Number 4 is out this week.  If you love holiday series, The Christmas Angel series is not to be missed, several of them are also on to be reviewed as well.  So much going on.  Don’t miss a day here.

 

Happy Reading!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, December 9: ☃️

  • First of Our Best of 2018 Lists.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Book Blast Love’s Trials by Janice Jarrell
  • A MelanieM Review: The Bibliophile by Drew Marvin Frayne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Oz (Finding Home #1) by Lily Morton
  • An Alisa Advent Calendar Review: Holiday Island by A.D. Ellis

Monday, December 10:☃️

  • COVER REVEAL: Amanda Meuwissen’s A Model Escort
  • Release Blitz for Home For Christmas by RJ Scott
  • Review Tour for A Soldier’s Wish (A Christmas Angel Story) by NR Walker
  • Release Blitz Tour for  Trusting Jack by Ruby Moore
  • A Lila Advent Calendar Review: Boca Dreams by Scudder James Jr
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Soldier’s Wish (A Christmas Angel Story) by NR Walker
  • A Lucy Review : Under The Felt Mistletoe by Nell Iris
  • An Alisa Review: Mine for Christmas by AD Lawless

Tuesday, December 11: ☃️

  • PROMO Andrew Grey
  • Release Blitz  Tour – Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs
  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Chasing Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Stetsons and Stakeouts by BA Tortuga
  • A Lucy Review : All I Want Is You by DJ Jamison
  • A Free Dreamer Advent Calendar Review: Tulsi Vivah by Anna Kaling
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Showers, Flowers, and Fangs by Aidan Wayne

Wednesday, December 12: ☃️

  • Review Tour – Jordan L Hawk – The Magician’s Angel
  • Review Tour – Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs
  • Review Tour – The Deafening Silence (The Yakuza Path #4) by Amy Tasukada
  • A MelanieM Review:The Deafening Silence (The Yakuza Path #4) by Amy Tasukada
  • A Lucy Review : Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs
  • A Lila Advent Calendar Review: Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady :The Magician’s Angel (The Christmas Angel #3) by Jordan L. Hawk
  • An Alisa Review: Celebrations in the Season of Long Nights by Mere Rain, a”Escape From the Holidays” Collection from Mischief Corner Books

Thursday, December 13:  ☃️

  • Spells & Stardust Anthology Tour
  • HARMONY INK PROMO Aidan Wayne
  • Book Blast for Pain and Promise by Lazlo Thorn
  • Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code by Charlie Cochrane Blog Tour
  • A Caryn Review: Vampire with Benefits (Supernatural Selection #2) by E.J. Russell
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Blessed (The Matawapit Family #1) by Maggie Blackbird
  • A MelanieM Review: Spells & Stardust by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • An Alisa Advent Calendar Review: Death to Christmas Sweaters by LE Franks

Friday,  December 14:  ☃️

  • Review Tour –  Christmas Homecoming by LA Witt
  • PROMO BA Tortuga
  • Review Tour for Shrewd Angel (The Christmas Angel #6) by Anyta Sunday
  • Review Tour  for Rebellion by Naomi Aoki
  • An Ali Advent Calendar Review:The Night Sky Festival by S.A. Stovall
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Rebellion by Naomi Aoki
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady: Christmas Homecoming (The Christmas Angel #4) by L.A. Witt
  • A Lucy Review: Shrewd Angel (The Christmas Angel #6)by Anyta Sunday

Saturday, December 15:  ☃️

  • Review Tour – Neve Wilder – Dedicated (Rhythm Of Love #1)
  • Tour for  Meik&Sebastian – Obsessed #4 by Quin Perin
  • Book Blast: Blessed (The Matawapit Family #1) by Maggie Blackbird
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Advent Calendar Review: Too Hot for Santa by Helena Stone
  • An Alisa Review: Meik&Sebastian – Obsessed #4 by Quin Perin
  • A MelanieM Review: Dedicated (Rhythm Of Love #1) by Neve Wilder
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: The Holiday Home Hotel (An Escape from the Holidays Story) by Lou Sylvre
  • A MelanieM Review:  Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code (Cambridge Fellows #12.7by Charlie Cochrane

 

 

 

 

An Alisa Advent Calendar Review: Holiday Island by A.D. Ellis

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

***No peacocks were harmed in the making of this story.

 

Rafa’s nautical skills are less than stellar. He’d rather be a full-time artist, but he has a duty to the family business and a fear of standing up to his father and brother.

 

Carpenter Lucas is determined to rebuild his business after a lover’s betrayal nearly destroyed it. But he runs into a snag when he misses the last boat to the job site.

 

Rafa offers to take him, but Rafa isn’t much of a sailor.

 

When they end up on the wrong island, fears for survival gradually give way to an appreciation of the beauty around them—and each other. Rafa insists a holiday miracle will save them, and he teases Lucas for being a Scrooge.

 

In the end, Rafa’s miracle might come from the last place he expects: inside himself.

 

This was a nice story.  Rafa and Lucas are stranded together and seem like people that wouldn’t have anything in common but they both need support from someone.  I liked them finding a common ground and affection for each other.  It was nice to see how supportive Lucas is a Rafa in the face of his family’s homophobia and they have a tentative plan to go forward.

 

Book Details:

ebook, 43 pages

Published: December 9, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

A Caryn Advent Calendar Review: The Faller by Daniel de Lorne

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

A historical set in Australia – why haven’t I read one of these before?  I have to admit that’s what caught me about the blurb on this one, and I loved the term “faller” instead of the North American “lumberjack” that I am used to.  The author did a great job of making me feel like I was right there in the jarrah forests, with men hewing railway sleepers from the mighty trees with only muscle and axe, living in primitive and dangerous conditions to support the booming timber industry.

The story starts with Charlie Young, skinny, short, and, yes, young, in the forest trying valiantly, and mostly failing, to cut railway sleepers with 4 other experienced fallers.  Working the forest was potentially a lucrative job, but the fallers got paid by the piece, so Charlie was in very real danger of running out of money and starving.  The best faller in the group was big, strong Jack Tapper, able to turn out perfect sleepers at a rate 2-3 times faster than the others.  Jack kept to himself, but his size, reputation, and mere presence intimidated all the men in the camp, and especially Charlie.

Even though Jack was exactly the sort of man that Charlie was most attracted to.

When all the men but Charlie and Jack went in to the town for a four day holiday around Christmas, Charlie found that Jack felt the same way he did, and knowing their time together alone was short, they made the best of it.  But the hyper-masculine nature of the timber industry in 1912 Australia was not a safe place at all to be gay, and hiding their connection proved to be a lot harder than Charlie thought it would be…

As is usual with short stories, I wanted more – more time to build the background, more time for the men to learn about each other and fall in love, and more time to develop the conflict that would give interest to the story.  But even in the constraints of a short story, I thought there was too much of Charlie’s inner monologue going on, which made the story move slowly.  The conflict and danger toward the end of the book was certainly very real – I don’t think the word homophobia could come close to adequately describing what could happen to a gay man in this setting – but somehow seemed superficial, and the resolution and ending seemed a bit too easy and abrupt.  Charlie’s immature decisions were consistent with his character, but I think the author made the bad guys a little too villainous, and it felt over the top.  Jack, on the other hand, was beautifully portrayed, with just the right amount of description and dialogue.  The historical details were really well done and clearly well researched though, and for me that made up for a lot of the areas I didn’t like.  Overall, I really enjoyed this, and I will look for more form this author.

Cover art by L.C. Chase doesn’t do justice to the historical aspects of the story, but the lumberjack is spot on.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 46 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050453
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Sometimes the best Christmas gift is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a rich, entitled, oblivious jock, and he might have stayed that way if he hadn’t become friends with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. When Oliver kisses him goodbye before Rusty leaves for college, Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But nothing can help Rusty survive a semester at Stanford, and he returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. But with Oliver’s love and the help of Oliver’s amazing family, Rusty realizes that failing college doesn’t mean he can’t pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Nobody can built characters quite like Amy Lane and put them into situations that then quietly begin to tear the reader’s heart apart, piece by tiny little piece. Rusty Baker is one such character, improbbly so.  On the exterior, he’s would appear to have everything to succeed in life.  He’s  rich, a jock, with a father who is determined to see him into a great school and going places.   That’s the exterior.

It takes  meeting Oliver, not rich not a jock, to reveal the real Rusty Baker. The gentle, insecure, and gay person Rusty is.  There’s also more that becomes readily apparent to Oliver as he tutors Rusty through his classes in high school.  Rusty has a learning disability that never goes named here but is perfectly spelled out in the way he “feels” when he get overwhelmed by his classes, projects, or professors.  God, how you feel for him.

Throughout the story, and as you can imagine Rusty’s life, the damage done to him hasn’t been delivered through physical blows, damning smacks to the body, but in deadly featherlight cuts to the heart and psyche.  It’s been his father, his mother supporting the patriarch, behind the worst of them. Amy Lane, like a surgeon of phrases, uses her words to slice through Rusty and our hearts over and over at unexpected times, leaving all of us shattered.

I was not prepared for how much this book would hurt.

But for all the wounds, there is the healing balm of Oliver, Oliver’s Dad and his family, Rusty’s sister, and even Rusty’s college roommate who encircle this damaged young man, help him to heal, build him a new foundation of family, support, and love.

Oddly, enough I think of Oliver and Rusty snuggling with Peanut as one of my favorite scenes.  All happy and content, perfect Christmas.   For me, even with all the Amy Lane tears that fell, this was a holiday story to remember.  And treasure.

It’s one I highly recommend.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  Not a fan of this cover.  There is so much more the artist could have pulled from.  Indistinguishable from any other couple.  Nothing special that separates it out for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, Second Edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 7th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published December 7th 2013)
ASINB07JGXPM71
Edition Language English
Characters Oliver Campbell, Russell “Rusty” Calvin Baker setting California (United States)
El Dorado, California (United States)

A Stella Advent Calendar Review: Trapped in the Valley of the Kings by Blue Jones

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

A Story from the Warmest Wishes: Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar

Rival archaeologists Will and Jude slept together a year ago, on the night of the Summer Solstice at a dig in Stonehenge. But they were both wearing masks, so Jude has no idea it was Will he slept with, and Will’s been harboring a powerful, one-sided crush ever since.

Now they’re in Egypt, competing to find the lost tomb of Queen Nefertiti. Jude falls through a crack in the cave floor, and when Will reluctantly climbs down to help him, they find themselves in Nefertiti’s tomb, surrounded by archaeological treasures—where they must spend Christmas stranded by a sandstorm.

Will a few sultry hours stripped almost bare from the heat and sharing a bottle of whiskey sort out who should get credit for the discovery—and the real reason for the tension between them?

This was another short story from this year Dreamspinner Press’ Advent Calendar. I quite enjoyed it. It’s a super quick reading, interesting and cute. It left me with a goofy smile on my face. I’m going to be honest, I was able to know pretty much nothing about Will and Jude, apart from their jobs and the attraction they feel for each other. There is not even one second character, just these two men trapped in the tomb of Nefertiti. Still I found this short well done, very sweet and sexy; I loved seeing the MCs  tease each other and then finally be honest about their feelings.

I would so love to know more about Will and Jude, they totally deserve more words.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is not what I  like a cover to be, eye catching and fitting, this cover doesn’t have these qualities.

SALE LINKS  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 24 pages

Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781644050446

Edition Language English

Jaime Samms on Backyard Paradise and her new release Sunshine in the Dragon’s Heart by Jaime Samms

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Sunshine in the Dragon’s Heart by Jaime Samms
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Tiferet Designs

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jaime Samms here today on tour with her latest novel, Sunshine in the Dragon’s Heart.  Welcome, Jaime.

This book has been such a joy to write. It really brought me back to some childhood places. I set it in what I call my “back yard”. In my head, I was once again wandering the acres of scrub forest that have overgrown the cow fields where my own mother used to drive the cows to the barn. They are by no means old growth, majestic or wonderous. They are poplar stands and aspen groves and dense, prickly pine and spruce stands. When I was a kid, there were also a ton of white-bark birch trees. A tiny creek runs through it and there is a hill near the back line of the property where blueberries grow thick and wild in the summer.

It’s not paradise. But as a kid growing up with that out the back door, it was my paradise. The squishy moss beds and the trickle of the creek were the backdrop for all my day dreams. And trust me, I had many, many day dreams.

I hope I shared some of my love of that place in this book. Life changes all the time, and some day, this might not be there any more, or might not be mine to visit whenever I want. So I had to do my best to preserve it however I could, and since words are my thing, that’s what I used this time.

Hopefully, Sunny and Emile can inhabit that spot in our imaginations for a long, long time.

Blurb:

When Sunny retires to the northern Ontario wilderness to mourn his parents’ deaths, he’s hoping the change of scenery will afford him some peace and quiet.

 

His hopes are soon spectacularly dashed.

 

In self-imposed exile, dragon Emile runs across the Fold between his dimension and Sunny’s—and right into Sunny’s arms. Centuries out of touch with human culture, bright, beautiful Emile incinerates any hope Sunny had for an ordinary existence. With dryads and water sprites coming to life all around them, Sunny can’t deny the magic Emile brings to his life—or his heart. But that same magic leads the unrelenting dragon who would keep Emile captive right to them. To save his love, Sunny will have to reach deep and find some magic of his own.

About the Author

Jaime has been published since the fall of 2008. Her Stories about men falling in love are the stories that she loves to read, so they are also the stories she loves to write.

 

Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, is spent crocheting, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!), or watching movies. She has a day job which she loves, and two kids, and thankfully, wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share.

 

She graduated some time ago from college with a fine arts diploma, and a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all . . .

 

 

Website: http://jaimesamms.com

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000982219151&ref=tn_tnmn

Deviantart: http://dontkickmycane.deviantart.com/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/#!/JaimeSamms

Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/jaimesamms

Newsletter Sign Up: https://mailchi.mp/8794d0772cd9/welcome

A MelanieM Advent Calendar Review:Warren’s Peace by Emjay Haze

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

The holidays are a time for second chances.

Warren Blessing lost his wife (two years ago), and his kids decide he’s been alone too long. They send him on a holiday singles cruise so he can meet someone new.

On the flight from Chicago to Miami, he sits next to an attractive man, but when the flight’s over, he doesn’t think he’ll see him again.

Fletcher Hammond is a professional mystery shopper for vacation destinations and travel. After a split from his unfaithful fiancé, he’s embarking on a singles cruise. He meets a lovely gentleman on the flight, whose conversation and cocktails help Fletcher through his fear of takeoffs, but he doesn’t expect to see him again.

As if by fate, a meeting in the ship’s dining room renews their mutual attraction. But can they build a relationship with distance and baggage working against them? Or will they part ways when they return to port?

Warren’s Peace by Emjay Haze has a number of familiar elements to it, two strangers on a plane are attracted to each other, deplane expecting never to see each other again only to find that very thing happens at the next destination.  Here it’s a single’s cruise at Christmas time. Warren is there because his grown children have booked it for him.  He’s lonely after the long illness and death of his wife and wants to move forward.  Fletcher is there because of his job.

This is really a sweet, no angst story.  Warren was aware he was gay before he got married as did his wife, but he fell in love with her and got married. As his preferences has been only men before her, he’s ready date men again. When he meets Fletcher on the ship again, he  makes it plain he’s ready to mingle with men, not women.  The two develop an onboard relationship which turns into something more once the cruise is over.  Haze works hard to turn an instant love into a believable HEA and for the most part it works.  Both men are at the right stages of their  lives and seem perfect for each other in every way.

If I had one issue here, its Warren is calling himself first gay, then bisexual.  Warren had only dated men, then fell in love with the person that was his  wife but there sex life for him was unsatisfactory. He loved her and their kids without a doubt, but his attraction remained to men.  I think if the author is going to make Warren  bisexual or even pansexual then you should go for a layered portrait.  But 51 pages is not enough to interpret or untangle the sexual sort of mess that is Warren Blessing.  And now with Fletcher Hammond in the picture, he doesn’t have to. Nor does the author.

.If none of that bothers you, then you might adore this.  It’s sweet and has a HEA which is perfect for the holidays.

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde Media.  Didn’t do anything for me. The guy is gorgeous but where are the other elements?  Tells me nothing about the story and the characters are older.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 51 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 21st 2016)
ISBN 139781644050439
Edition Language English

Liv Olteano on Writing, Characters, and her new release ‘Lover Behind Enemy Lines (Dreamcatchers #3)’ (guest post and giveaway)

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Lover Behind Enemy Lines (Dreamcatchers #3) by Liv Olteano 

M/M Adult Paranormal Romance

Release date: December 4 2018

Cover designer: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:   Dreamspinner Press eBook and  Paperback  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Liv Olteano here today on tour for the latest story in her Dreamcatchers  series, Lover Behind Enemy LInes.  Welcome to our Author’s Chair!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Liv Olteano

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

My ideal scenario for writing (and reading too, come to think of it!) is this: I’m in a cabin somewhere in the mountains. Out my huge windows, I can see mountain peeks somewhere in the distance. I’m sitting in front of a fire place. The scent of burning wood mixes with the clean air, and the scents of wood from inside the cabin. The armchair I’m cuddled into is huge, and the fluffy blanket covering my feet makes me feel warm and strangely protected – like it’s a magic shield, keeping all evils of the world (like alarm clocks and cars honking – God, I have those!). The huge steaming mug of coffee resting beside my laptop is warming up my hand as I’m cupping it. My cats are lounging on the sofa, right beside my armchair. I set up some nice background music, close my eyes for a moment, and then when I open them up my fingers fly over the keyboard as I write with wild abandon. Sigh. Having that be a part of my regular day-to-day life – wouldn’t that be amazing? 🙂

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

If I’m honest, one of the things I find most interesting in someone is intelligence expressed via humor. A good sense of humor and being funny (the snarky flavor, particularly) is the sport of a sharp mind, in my opinion. I do tend to make my characters funny, if not consistently throughout the story, then at least here and there. I can’t help it. I love someone who has a lot of knowledge that I don’t, so they always have things to tell me that I’ll be really curious about. But they need to be the humble sort of smart, not arrogant about it. I hate arrogance in people. Cocky can work here and there, if sprinkled with the right amount of self-deprecation.

I don’t really think about these things when I help a character climb out of my head, lol. But I suspect that my likes do seep into my creation, if not in every character, then in at least one of them in every story.

  •  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

As a reader, I love stories about characters that have plenty of faults. In fact, I love them to be unrepentant about those faults. And I don’t want the author to “fix” them, either, unless it’s really destructive…and not even then, most of the time.

I’m a firm believer in realistic fiction. I love realistic romance, with stories that don’t end in idealized endings and characters that more often than not make the wrong choices and end up hurting those they love. The grace of forgiveness comes when it’s very hard to achieve it, not when everything conspires to help you along.

Blurb:

True mates, together at last.

Claw—fearless leader of Seattle’s Team 32—has faced many dangers during more than a century and a half as a dreamcatcher. Yet nothing has ever scared him more than his obsession with Nathan Gallagher. Tormented by visions and dreams about the man ever since he first laid eyes on him, Claw now has to deal with living under the same roof with the object of his most ardent desires. And Nathan is so much more than a simple crush.

Brother of the caster who’s been plaguing Team 32’s area and less-than-willing houseguest of the team after a strange break-in attempt, Nathan may hold the key to finally apprehending his sister and putting a stop to the havoc she’s wreaking on Queen Anne…. Meanwhile, Nathan’s wreaking some havoc of his own on Claw’s heart.

Excerpt

“Nathan stirred on the bed, and as he opened his eyes, his eyelashes fluttered. They were blond and long, mostly visible through the shadows they cast on his cheekbones. His eyes were a very dark brown, though; as dark as night, full of doubt and mistrust, but also holding some tantalizing secret that refused to make itself known to me despite my attempts to uncover it. Nathan stirred my interest in so many ways that it was getting very scary very fast.

I sat on the chair next to the bed. “Hey. I thought I should bring you something to eat.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” he asked and squinted.

“What do you mean?”

“I broke into your house, pitiful as it went. You were all pissed. Okay, I get the point: I won’t break into this house again.”

“Well, at least you learned that lesson.”

“I did, okay? I did. But why are you keeping me handcuffed to a bed now? Do you run some human trafficking ring?”

“Why did you break in?”

This was familiar ground. I’d asked that question a lot of times since he was here. He had yet to give me a believable answer.

As expected, he pouted and looked away. His gaze landed on the plate I’d brought. “Can you at least free one of my hands so I can eat like a normal person?”

I sighed and got the fork out of the nightstand drawer where I’d stashed it. “Because that went so well the last time.”

“You’re not feeding me again. I’m not your fucking pet.”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t handcuff a pet.”

“Screw you,” he muttered.

“I wouldn’t do that to a pet, either. And I’d advise against waking everyone up. They won’t like the fact that I’m feeding you the leftovers they were no doubt planning to devour later on. Now, are you hungry or not?”

His light cheeks colored a delicious rusty shade. “I’d rather you just killed me already than humiliate me like this.”

I sat back in the chair. “We don’t kill people, Nathan. Surely you know that.”

“No, I don’t know; in fact, I don’t know much of anything except that you have an obvious boner for handcuffs.”

I didn’t. I did have a boner for him, but I disliked seeing him cuffed to the bed. Unfortunately, it was how things had to be for the moment. And Nathan refused to help me help him out of the situation.

“Again with that?” I sighed heavily. “You broke into our house. You have to know who we are.”

“Well, I know next to nothing about you people.”

“You knew something before deciding on this house.”

“You only think that because you know who I am,” he hissed.

“And what a coincidence it was, then, that you—who knew nothing about us—broke into this home, where we—who know things about you—live. Call me crazy, but I think it just seems far-fetched.”

He looked away, and silence fell over us like a thick blanket. It was almost smothering for me. If he kept this up, Aashi would lose her patience and cast the forgetting spell on him. He’d lose track of ever seeing either of us. And I’d lose my chance to get through to him. If that happened, I felt sure that sooner or later I’d follow him. Why I was so sure, I couldn’t really understand. But it was an unshakable and terrifying truth. If he refused to see things our way, then that had to mean he was on his sister’s side and maybe even working for her. And if the side he’d choose was his sister’s, then I would follow in that direction too, sooner or later. If that meant I’d cross to his sister’s side, as detestable a thought as it was, then I would eventually do it. Being around Nathan was that much of a necessity already.

Decades of longing and regret were weighing down on me, and they would keep on doing so until I’d lose it. I knew for sure that this was my second and last chance at making things right between what I saw in Nathan’s eyes and my own heart. But he knew nothing about me. He remembered and felt nothing. This was part of my torment.

His eyes haunted my dreams and my waking hours since I’d first glanced into them, what felt like a lifetime ago, back in Denny Park. Drew and I had followed him due to one of Drew’s infamous though usually on-point gut feelings. It was how we’d identified the caster we were dealing with—obviously Nathan’s sister, considering how much they resembled each other.

I knew a lot about the man lying on a bed before me. He was Nathan Gallagher, son of an influential family of ley line witches that was part of the strongest coven of Seattle. Despite his pedigree, in witch circles he had a reputation for avoiding the practice of magic like the pest. He had a sister, Vivian Gallagher, who had been reported missing as a child. Our caster lady had to be precisely that sister. That was one more thing we needed him to tell us about, in fact. That and why he’d decided to break into our house.

I knew the story of Nathan Gallagher’s life as Taka could piece it together from his research. But when I looked into his eyes, it wasn’t Nathan Gallagher that stared back at me. His eyes, windows to his soul, told me he was someone else. When our gazes met, I wasn’t in the here and now anymore. I went back to the sound of water gurgling down rocks and wind whistling through trees; to the sound of laughter, to skinny-dipping in crystal clear waters while everything inside us seemed murky but exciting. When I looked into his eyes, I saw my sweet and so terrible first love, and felt the pang of more than a century-and-a-half-worth of longing.

“Look at me,” I said in as terse a tone as I could so I wouldn’t betray my emotions.

He turned his face back in my direction, though it took him a couple of seconds to find my gaze with his.

“Let me feed you. I assure you I see absolutely no humiliation in it.”

His gaze scanned my face. I wished he’d be reassured by the sincerity in my heart. It was a joy and privilege for me to feed him, in fact; it would never be a way to belittle him, regardless of circumstances. But I couldn’t tell him that. I knew he’d think I was crazy, and that I really couldn’t afford—even if the thought crossed my mind more often than not of late.

“Is this some elaborate scheme to gain my trust? Do you guys think the good cop/bad cop routine is going to get better results than just asking? Because it won’t.”

“You are not my enemy, Nathan.”

“Well, I’m your prisoner, so you are my enemy.”

“Fine, then. See me as an enemy, if you so desire. But please eat.”

He looked at the plate again, this time with a tint of suspicion. “Is it drugged?”

I used my fingers to grab some bits of cold turkey and carrot salad and stuffed them in my mouth. After swallowing, I wiped my hand on one of the napkins stashed under the plate. “Happy now?”

“Delirious.” He huffed and rolled his eyes. “Maybe you drugged just some bits, though.”

“Think of it this way: if the food is drugged, then you’ll be aware of less time spent here.”

“Encouraging thought,” he deadpanned. “And then you can cheerfully rape me, because I’m so out of it. Don’t think I don’t see how you look at me, buddy.”

I widened my eyes. “Rape you? Dear spirits and heavens, I would never.”

“I bet that’s what all rapists say.”

“And how could I prove to you that I wouldn’t do such a thing?”

“You could uncuff me,” he said, shrugging a little.

I smiled. “Nice try.”

“It was worth a shot. So you’re sure you don’t want to rape me?”

“I’m positive.”

“Bummer,” he muttered. “Sex would have given me something nice to do to pass the time, at least. It wouldn’t be rape, though.” He waggled his eyebrows.

“So you actually enjoy handcuffs,” I concluded.

“Not necessarily. But I’d enjoy you.” He looked at the plate for a moment, then back at me. “That stuff smells torturously good.”

“Are you asking me to feed you, then?”

“Of course not. You keep me handcuffed to a bed and refuse to make the most of it, so I won’t humiliate myself by asking you to feed me next. But if you felt so inclined to get some of the food close enough to my mouth, it wouldn’t go to waste. That’s all I’m saying.”

So I did just that. He ate everything I’d brought up. When he was done, I wiped his mouth—to his mortification, if his expression was anything to go by. It wasn’t really necessary to wipe his mouth, I had to admit; that one I did purely to indulge myself. ”

Want to read more from Chapter 1? Check out the book on the Dreamspinner Press site (Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/lover-behind-enemy-lines-by-liv-olteano-9940-b ) and hit the Read an Excerpt button right beneath the cover xD

About Liv Olteano:

Liv Olteano is a voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional.

She believes stories are the best kind of magic there is. And life would be horrible without magic. Her hobbies include losing herself in the minds and souls of characters, giving up countless nights of sleep to get to know said characters, and trying to introduce them to the world. Sometimes they appreciate her efforts. The process would probably go quicker if they’d bring her a cup of coffee now and then when stopping by. Characters—what can you do, right?

Liv has a penchant for quirky stories and is a reverent lover of diversity. She can be found loitering around the Internet at odd hours and being generally awkward and goofy at all times.

Links:

http://liv.liviaolteano.com

http://blog.liviaolteano.com/

https://twitter.com/LiviaOlteano

https://www.facebook.com/LiviaOlteano

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6952513.Liv_Olteano

 

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A Chaos Moondrawn Advent Review: The Last Birthday Party by Mere Rain

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Their favorite holiday is going away. Will it take their friendship with it?

Since 1989, the birthday of the Emperor of Japan has been celebrated on December 23rd. But this is the last year; the Emperor is abdicating, and next year there will be no holiday.

This is the last time they will have this day as a national holiday on Akihito’s birthday, so has a sad, bittersweet quality as seen through Akihito’s point of view. The story does talk about Japanese culture, festivals, and places without explaining–and that’s fine as they would not explain things that are a part of them, not to each other or in their thoughts. Their parents were neighbors and they have been a part of each other’s lives since birth, but now go to different universities and are on that cusp of adulthood where they will continue moving in different directions as work and life happen. As they spend the day together, Akihito struggles with his feelings for Kenji. Kenji has been struggling to tell Akihito his feelings as well. This is short and sweet with hope for the future.

The cover art is by Brooke Albrecht and captures the story well.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 25 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050422
Edition Language English

A Stella Advent Calendar Review: Mosquitoes and Mistletoe by Ren Holly

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

After Andrew’s boyfriend dumps him just before Christmas, he decides to take a job far, far away from city life. It’s a dishwashing job on a remote island off the coast of Georgia. Expecting sunshine, palm trees, and some quality alone time, Andrew is surprised to find alligators, mosquitoes, rattlesnakes, and Garrett—a devilishly handsome naturalist. Andrew desperately tries to resist Garrett’s charm, because a twice-broken heart before Christmas is just not an option. Besides Andrew’s new friend Anna might already have a thing for Garrett.

But where do Garrett’s interests lie, and will Andrew find out before he’s surprised by a visit from his ex?

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar “Warmest Wishes.”

I have to say I was nicely surprised by this novellas, the love story between Andrew and Garrett caught my interest from the beginning. There was never a dull moment, the scenes were all well done and it was clear the romance was growing. I adored Andrew, and his passion for baking was a bonus, but I was conquered by his strength and honesty. Both him and Garrett were positive and open persons. I saw their hearts and the attraction they felt.

Mosquitoes and Mistletoe has been the first title I read by Ren Holly and I liked it a lot, the writing style was great, the reading flew easily and it was a joy to follow these two young men into a new adventure. A very cute story.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is not a favorite of mine, although it fits the plot, I don’t like it so much, I’m not even sure why.

SALE LINKS Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 1st Edition, 64 pages

Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ASIN B07L1ZJ7NZ

Edition Language English