A MelanieM Review: The Dragon CEO’s Assistant (Golden Kingdom) by Jenn Burke

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Golden Kingdom Novel

The heart remembers.

When Aidan Bishop staggers out of the woods, naked and suffering from amnesia, he needs to relearn who he is and where he fits in the world.

His boss, nearly five-hundred-year-old dragon Nassim, head of a successful tech company, hurries to claim his wayward assistant and guide him back into the life he disappeared from. As they get to know each other again, Aidan wonders if their relationship went deeper than employer and employee. But Nassim isn’t telling, and Aidan has a secret of his own… even if he doesn’t know it yet.

I am always up for a dragon book.  Can’t help myself.  So The Dragon CEO’s Assistant by Jenn Burke felt like it was in my wheelhouse.  Fantasy, a mit of a mystery, romance, and yes, a dragon!  Yippee!

Turns out I enjoyed Jenn Burke’s tale of dragon romance and mystery, although I hadn’t realized it was part of a series, one I wasn’t familiar with.  Not that it made a difference here as this story works very well as a standalone.

We are dumped immediately into the mystery as Aiden appears naked and without memory coming out of the woods within distance of a building.  One that happens to be one where he used to work.  From there we meet several co-workers, and of course,, his boss, the gorgeous and impressive dragon,Nassim.  The story is told from Aiden’s perspective so we get his total puzzlement, his lack of foundation for everything around him, and his awareness of Nassim on many levels.

The story progresses as Aiden tries  to figure out who he is and where he figures out his place in the world, getting hints that all isn’t well from things happening around him.

Burke gives us different fantasy beings, elements of mystery and suspense while not forgetting the romance and love.  I wish I could say that the aspect of romance and love felt substantial here but that didn’t feel like it to me.  That was the only element that I thought needed strengthening.  The mystery, the suspense?  All good but the relationship?  The love and background between Aiden and Nassim?  That was missing and the story felt the lack

The Dragon CEO’s Assistant by Jenn Burke was a sweet fantasy romance with a touch of mystery and suspense.  I enjoyed it as I do most of this author’s writings. If you like dragon’s, lovers reunited, and second chance stories, I am sure this is one you will enjoy too.

Cover art: really works for the character and story.  Nice!

Sales Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X3T8JYJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-dragon-ceo-s-assistant

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dragon-ceos-assistant-jenn-burke/1132374115?ean=9781644055175

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-dragon-ceos-assistant/id1471192566

Book Details:

ebook, 211 pages
Expected publication: October 29th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title The Dragon CEO’s Assistant
ISBN 139781644055175
Edition Language English
Series Golden Kingdom

Love a Touch of Fantasy in Your Romance? Check Out the Tour for The Dragon CEO’s Assistant (Golden Kingdom #2) by Jenn Burke (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Dragon CEO’s Assistant by Jenn Burke

Series: Golden Kingdom #2

Release Date: October 29, 2019

Subgenre: LGBTQ+ Paranormal Romance

Order here:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X3T8JYJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-dragon-ceo-s-assistant

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dragon-ceos-assistant-jenn-burke/1132374115?ean=9781644055175

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-dragon-ceos-assistant/id1471192566

Synopsis for The Dragon CEO’s Assistant:

The heart remembers.

When Aidan Bishop staggers out of the woods, naked and suffering from amnesia, he needs to relearn who he is and where he fits in the world.

His boss, nearly five-hundred-year-old dragon Nassim, head of a successful tech company, hurries to claim his wayward assistant and guide him back into the life he disappeared from. As they get to know each other again, Aidan wonders if their relationship went deeper than employer and employee. But Nassim isn’t telling, and Aidan has a secret of his own… even if he doesn’t know it yet.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48057624-the-dragon-ceo-s-assistant

Release Blitz Teasers:

#1:
“You have PTSD.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Why, because it’s been three hundred years?”

“Yes, that, and I’m—”

“Don’t say dragon.”

Nassim huffed and snapped his teeth shut. Aidan tried not to flinch at the noise.

“Seriously, though. It makes perfect sense. That kind of shit changes you.” Aidan couldn’t remember a specific example of how posttraumatic stress disorder affected someone, but he felt the rightness of that truth, as nebulous and intangible as it might be at the moment. “I bet there are mythos therapists who can—”

“No.”

“Do not pull the ‘I’m dragon, I’m too cool to be helped’ thing.”

“It’s not that important. I don’t need to seek out professional help.”

“Huh.” Aidan rubbed a finger over his chin. “What do you think Jasper would say if I asked him about this?”

Okay, that rumble was more a growl than a happy noise. Nassim whipped his head up. “I told you this in confidence.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Aidan—”

“There was no mention of confidentiality in our conversation.”

“Aidan!”

“Hmm. You might be right, Nassim. I don’t think I’m very objective at all.”

“But foolhardy,” Nassim breathed, his words more felt than heard. “Very, very foolhardy.”

“No.” Aidan stood and leaned forward to look Nassim in one of his big, fiery eyes. “Just unwilling to let you suffer in silence anymore.”

Nassim blinked, and the fire embedded in his eyes dimmed. After a moment his head sank back to the ground. “I will consider it.”

Excerpt :

“You’re in deep shit, Nassim.”

With a soft chuckle, Aidan sat back down at his desk and told himself he shouldn’t listen to the conversation happening between the brothers, but the door was open and the office was really quiet…

“I told Inas I wasn’t coming tonight,” Nassim rumbled.

“And you thought she’d be okay with that, why?”

“Faz, I can’t.”

“I get it,” Fazl said, his voice low. “But your family obligations don’t disappear just because—”

“She understands.”

“Our sister has a huge heart. Of course she understands. That doesn’t mean she isn’t disappointed you won’t be there for her eard al’usra.”

“I’m not comfortable leaving him alone.”

Aidan frowned at the image of Mace Windu on his desk calendar, not really seeing it. Had Nassim picked up on how he needed someone nearby all the time?

They rarely saw each other after dinner most nights—Nassim went upstairs to his office to do whatever, and Aidan amused himself with his laptop or books—but he was always aware that Nassim was only a dozen or so steps away. Aidan knew he’d have to get over this fear eventually.

Maybe—maybe he should make an effort tonight.

“So bring him along.”

Aidan’s eyes widened.

“Fazl.” Nassim’s voice was intense and full of warning. “No. He’s not ready to—”

“Merry gods. It’s a family party, Nassim. Not—”

“Don’t take that tone with me. You know we’re overwhelming on the best of days, and he’s not… he’s not ready.”

“He’s not? Or you’re not?”

Why would that even be a question? Why would Nassim not be ready for Aidan to meet his family? Maybe he didn’t want to blur the lines between his personal and professional lives any more than they already were. The situation was weird. How many employees lived with their CEO boss temporarily because they had nowhere else to go? But the wording Fazl used… that was even weirder.

Two things were clear, though—Nassim had to attend this family event, and he didn’t want Aidan there. So time to suck it up and be a big boy.

Biting his lower lip, he stepped up to the open door and rapped softly on the frame. “I don’t mind being alone. You can drop me off and go.”

Nassim’s gaze shuttered. “No.”

“It sounds like this is an important family thing. I’m not going to do anything but stay in the apartment and—”

“No.”

Fazl reached across the desk and smacked Nassim on the back of the head. “Enough.”

“Asshole. Just because you’re older, you—”

“Wait,” Aidan said. “He’s older?”

“By about fifteen years,” Fazl confirmed happily.

“But… you’re…”

“Younger-looking?” Fazl flicked the silver at Nassim’s temples, and Nassim arched back, away from his fingers. “Poor baby bro went gray early.”

“Because I’ve had to deal with you all my life.”

Fazl laughed.

A smile flickered across Nassim’s lips and then disappeared as he regarded Aidan. “I don’t want to leave you alone.”

“Moron,” Fazl said under his breath. Then, louder, “Aidan, since my brother is being a stubborn ass, I have a question for you.”

Nassim’s eyes flashed. “Faz—”

“Would you come to our family event tonight?”

“Uh….” Aidan’s gaze traveled between the brothers. “If I wouldn’t be intruding, I—”

“You would be more than welcome,” Fazl assured him. He turned to Nassim. “There. See? Easy.”

Nassim ignored him and moved around the desk to come closer to Aidan. “We don’t have to go. Seriously.”

“Is there a reason I shouldn’t go? Will it be a problem for a human to be present?”

Nassim pressed his lips together. “No.”

“Then I—” He glanced between Fazl’s wide, welcoming grin and Nassim’s gentle frown and solidified his decision. “I’d love to go.”

“Excellent,” Fazl said with a clap of his hands.

“Do you need a ride?” Nassim asked grudgingly as his brother slipped through the doorway past Aidan.

“You and your cars. No, I’m good.”

Rolling his eyes, Nassim said, “For the gods’ sakes, don’t scare the humans.”

“No promises.” Fazl waggled his brows as he headed out the door.

Aidan watched him leave, his brain working overtime. “Is he—”

“Going to transform and fly? Over a heavily populated area with humans who aren’t used to seeing dragons in the sky? Yes. Yes, he is.” Nassim sighed. “We’d best get going if we’re to get there on time.”

“There meaning…?”

“My family’s estate and caves. It’s a couple of hours to the west.”

“Caves?” Aidan murmured. But Nassim was already busy packing his laptop into his messenger bag, leaving Aidan to contemplate what the hell he just agreed to.

Author Bio:

Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.

Jenn is the author of a number of paranormal and science fiction romance titles, including the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (authored with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press.

She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.

Author links:

Website: http://www.jennburke.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeralibu

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jeralibu/

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/295814398039168/ (Jenn Burke’s Epic Adventurers)

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeralibu/

Newsletter sign-up: http://bit.ly/jennburkenewsletter

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9869819.Jenn_Burke

 

 

Giveaway:

Win a amazing prize package for the “The Dragon CEO’s Assistant” release!

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A MelanieM Review: Something Wild by Anna Martin

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

The South Pacific Archipelago is home to a tiny island community of around three hundred scientists… and twenty thousand dinosaurs. As a paleogeneticist, Kit Sterling leads a team studying the dinosaurs to unlock the unanswered questions of evolution.

But there is something more dangerous than dinosaurs on the islands.

Head ranger Logan Beck discovers evidence of poachers, while rumors of a black market for dinosaur leather swirl around the community. Kit and Logan haven’t always gotten along professionally, though that has nothing to do with their attraction to each other. So when they’re thrown together to save an injured infant dinosaur, their professional disdain turns into a clandestine romance.

With not just the injured dinosaur at risk, but all of the precious dinosaurs on the islands too, Kit and Logan have to figure out how to balance their budding romance without letting their careers go extinct.

I enjoy the writings of Anna Martin and looked forward to something a little different from her latest release, Something Wild.  It has just a smattering of Jurrassic Park about it, however, in this case, there is no genetic tampering but islands that had been discovered with dinosaurs living on them all long somewhere in the Pacific ocean.  Yes, a bit of a stretch but go with it.

A quick moving science fiction romance, it has elements of some action adventure (of course, there’s dinosaurs involved) and espionage, to go along with the romance.  For me the romance is one that you could call “instalove” given that the men themselves go from frenemies (loudly arguing over science papers etc) to lovers in a blink of an eye.  But the characters themselves are so engaging that the jump into bed and a full blown relationship that could get them fired gets an eye roll and then accepted.

I also liked the dinosaurs, Dizzy included, and would have loved to have had this element made more inclusive here.  We get some realistic science work and labs which is then promptly thrown out the window narratively speaking for the sake of the plot and some action adventure.  Neither of which made sense given the intensity of these men’s previous careers and their commitment to them and their jobs.  They start of as highly praised professionals in their fields and then start acting as interns flying about the island.  That sort of puzzled me to no end.

Same for other characters.  Loved the mothers, but the character of one lab assistant/roommate had a personality that first read older, then younger, then older.  No  real foundation to her, although she started out so strong.  A real shame.  That more of less happened throughout the story.  Certain elements or storylines started out of the narrative gate with real appeal or fullness but sort of petered out, leaving holes as the story trudged towards it’s ending.   And then there was that ending.  Oddly unsatisfying.  The epilogue trailed off, with no certain resolutions to specific problems.

Did I enjoy this?  Sure.  Will I remember it?  Hmmm, probably not.  It was fun, but the issues kept stopping me here and there just enough to make me question certain things and I need a steady read all the way through for a total enjoyment in my stories.  How do you all feel about that?  If cute dinosaurs and scientists in love are your thing, check out Something Wild by Anna Martin.

Cover Design: Alexandria Corza.  Come on.  The model looks like Kit so that works but why not at least give us a dinosaur instead of tracks.  Just ok cover.

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07WN8VWVF

Length: 67,000 words

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: I’ve Got This (Joy Universe #1) by Louisa Masters

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Derek Breyer is the director of one of the theme parks at Joy Universe, a park the author modeled after the infamous mouse park. He’s gorgeous, smart, personable, and career-driven. He also happens to be as nice as he looks, but when he meets the new dancer, direct from Broadway, Trav Jones takes an instant dislike to him. Derek seems too good to be true, and very much like the high school bullies Trav had to avoid in his teens.

When circumstances keep throwing them together, and Trav gives him a chance, Derek turns out to be the opposite of Trav’s original suppositions, and within a few weeks of dating and hanging out, they realize they are in love. Now a new problem arises: what happens after Derek’s contract expires midsummer?

I liked this story but, to be honest, the first person POV in present tense is something I really dislike. And to top it off, the author kept dropping asides from the character to the audience, i.e., me—the reader, and that totally turned me off and tuned me out. This happened more often toward the end of the story so by the last page I was happy to say goodbye to Joy Universe and its cast of characters.

The story itself is interesting as a murder occurs at the beginning along with a major disaster that strikes much of the cast of performers and Derek has to hustle to keep it all contained. As the story unfolds, the murder brings negative publicity to the park and Derek faces the loss of the job that is a part of his life. He may also lose Trav if he can’t open up to him emotionally. All that was well and good, but those times when the character speaks directly to the reader? No, just no. I don’t only dislike that—I hate it. So overall, though the romance was sweet, it was pretty much insta-love, the sex was off-page so those who like fade to black will be happy, and the situation is resolved enough at the end that all parties are happy.

The cover by Reese Dante features a head shot of a handsome blond man, exactly like the MC in the story. The light colors and the face of the man attracted me to the story and I wasn’t disappointed.

Sales Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo |  | Goodreads

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 195 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644053256
Edition Language English

Shira Anthony on Life Aboard and an Exclusive Excerpt from The First Step (Coastal Carolina #1) ~ guest blog and excerpt

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The First Step (Coastal Carolina #1) by Shira Anthony

Dreamspinner Press
Published September 17th 2019
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press |  AmazonBarnes & Noble | ITunes | Kobo

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Shira Anthony on tour for her new release The First Step.  Welcome, Shira.

 

 

Life Aboard and an Exclusive Excerpt from The First Step

Thank you, Melanie and Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, for hosting this stop on The First Step blog tour! The First Step is the first in my brand new series of gay romances set at the Carolina coast and featuring men who live and work near the water. Be sure to read to the end for an exclusive excerpt from the book.

Starting in December of this year, my husband and I will be living full-time on our beautiful catamaran sailboat, Prelude, named after one of the books in my Blue Notes series. I posted a tour of our boat on Facebook if you’d like to check her out: https://www.facebook.com/shira.anthony/videos/vb.100002261894384/1727557950662918/?type=3 She’s 38 feet long and nearly 24 feet wide, with a good size galley (kitchen), salon (boat living room), 2 heads (bathrooms), and 3 cabins. If you include the outside space in the cockpit, which has a table that seats 6, she’s bigger than the apartment I lived in years ago in New York City. But living aboard a boat presents lots of challenges, including lack of storage, constantly having to keep complicated mechanical systems working, not to mention keeping enough water and food aboard to live while you’re away from land.

Since one of the main characters in The First Step owns a sailboat and also works as an ocean pilot (he navigates the huge cargo ships into port for a living), I thought it might be fun to talk about life aboard a pleasure (cruising) boat. Half of you are probably thinking “no effing way would I live on a boat for years!” and the other half think it sounds like heaven.

To be honest, it’s somewhere in between for me. Yes, I love being on the water (as long as it isn’t too rough, since I get seasick sometimes), but I also love having my “stuff,” and the idea of giving up my apartment makes me pretty uneasy. There’s very little room on a boat for lots of clothes, especially for this clothes (and shoe) horse. Same goes for food. Our fridge is about as big as a large dorm fridge. Fortunately the freezer is a little bigger. But mostly you need to stock up as you go, which means cooking whatever you find locally.

And then there’s the toilet…. If you’ve ever been to Central America, you’ve probably been like me and grumbled at having to put toilet paper in a garbage can next to the toilet. Welcome to the world of the boat “head.” My husband’s least favorite thing is sticking his arm up to his elbow into the “hold”. Which holds what you might expect it would. Yuck! So we tend to steer clear of putting anything in the toilet that isn’t “natural.” And yes, you have to get someone to pump out the holding tank the same way you do on an RV.

When you’re on the water, it’s pretty ironic that conserving water is a huge issue. The problem is, of course, that there’s tons of salt water, but very little fresh. On land, especially in the US, we take an abundance of water for granted. But in many island nations like the Caribbean or Bahamas, fresh water can run upwards of a dollar a gallon, which when you think of how much water you use for just a shower, it gets really expensive, really quick. We have a water maker, which takes salt water and converts it to fresh, but it doesn’t make infinite water, so you have to conserve in everything you do. That means turning the shower off to soap up and turning it on again to rinse off. Same with doing dishes (I have a dishwasher – his name is Bob). It also means using ocean water to flush the heads.

Of course, most of the downsides of boating pale in comparison to the best part: being on the water. There’s nothing better than exploring the coast, meeting other boaters, and stepping back from the rat race to enjoy the beauty of the ocean. Our boat is my Zen place for writing, and I’m looking forward to writing many more stories about the coast. Who knows, maybe even a story about a writer who takes a few years off to sail?

Be sure to read on for an exclusive excerpt from the book. Happy reading! -Shira

Exclusive Excerpt:

The slight movement of the mainsail ceased and the fabric smoothed. Reed knew enough about sailing to appreciate just how well Justin controlled the boat, correcting in tiny increments to keep the sails full. Justin must have noticed him watching, because he asked, “Would you like to steer?”

Reed swallowed hard. “Are you sure?”

Justin scooted over. “Absolutely sure. It’s not like you can hit anything out here. You know the basics, right?”

Reed nodded and put his hands on the wheel. “Keep her pointing so that the sails don’t luff?”

“Yep. We can keep sailing on this tack until we’re ready to head back through the inlet, so that’s really all there is.” He put his hand reassuringly over Reed’s, causing Reed to momentarily lose his focus.

“Shit.” Reed adjusted the helm but overcompensated.

“Patience,” Justin said. “It takes the boat a couple of seconds to finish making the correction.”

“Got it.” Reed eased the wheel back a little and felt the boat pull against the wind, a familiar sensation he remembered from sailing as a kid. He laughed and glanced over at Justin, who beamed back at him.

“How many summers did you sail?”

“Two,” Reed replied. “Of course, the boats were a lot smaller than this one. So was my dad’s.”

“Once you understand the basics, the feel’s the same, big or small.” Justin watched him for a few minutes, then added, “You’re doing great.”

“Thanks.” He hadn’t expected Justin’s praise to feel so good. I didn’t expect any of this. He knew he needed to get back to interviewing Justin at some point, but he was having way too much fun to dampen the mood with lots of questions.

A comfortable silence settled between them as they sailed. The day was perfect, and the feel of the sleek boat under Reed’s hands made him remember what he’d felt like when he was a kid sailing with his dad. Good memories. Things had been simpler then, before he’d gone to middle school and stopped fitting in. The little kid in him wished his father could see him now. The adult in him wished his father was sitting in the cockpit with them, enjoying the ocean and the bright blue sky above.

“Thanks for inviting me,” Reed said after a while. “I’d forgotten how great it feels to sail. Last time I was on the water other than taking photos this past week was taking the Staten Island Ferry to some political rally.”

“Not exactly the same, is it?”

“Not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, I love New York Harbor on a sunny day.” He just didn’t have the time to enjoy it.

“One of these days I’m going to sail up to New York Harbor,” Justin said. “Take a few months off and head north.”

“Sounds amazing.” Reed imagined what it might be like to live aboard a boat for months at a time. The First Step wasn’t that much smaller than his high-rise studio apartment in Midtown.

Justin stretched his arms over his head and yawned.

“Tired?”

Justin shrugged. “I had a tough time getting to sleep last night.”

“At least I wasn’t the only one.” If you only knew. Justin had featured prominently in his dreams, and it made for a very long night of tossing and turning.

“We’ll nap on the beach after lunch.” Justin took a sip from his soda and looked over his sunglasses at something in the distance.

“What do you see?”

Justin put a hand on the wheel. “Go look for yourself. Starboard, about two o’clock.” He gestured to the life vest belt pack Reed had been wearing earlier. “You’ll see better on the foredeck.”

“Okay.” Reed snapped the pack on and walked along the lifelines to the bow. He saw them a moment later—a pod of dolphins swimming a few hundred feet off the right side of the boat. One of the animals jumped out of the water and dove back down, showing its tail flukes. Reed gasped in happy surprise.

“Bottlenose dolphins,” Justin said from beside him.

Reed stared at him in surprise. “Who’s…?”

“Autopilot.” Justin showed Reed a small electronic device. “I rigged this baby so I could sit on the foredeck and steer. Came in handy the other day when I was fishing you out.”

“This is much more fun.” Reed nearly clapped with excitement as several dolphins began to swim alongside.

“If you head out to the Gulf Stream,” Justin said, “you’ll see spotted dolphins too.”

“Do you ever see whales out here?”

“Yep. Never seen one on this boat, though. We usually see them come November, but I had to steer around one last week near the Cape Fear Inlet.”

Reed wished he could have seen that too. “I’m jealous.”

“I have the best job.”

Reed had to force himself not to reach for his notebook—he didn’t want to give Justin an excuse to shut down again. Besides, this was a quote he’d remember without having to write it down.

Blurb:

A Coastal Carolina Novel

The first step is the hardest. After a scandal, New York political reporter Reed Barfield is lying low at the North Carolina coast, writing a story about the seafood industry. But it’s the harbor pilots on the Cape Fear River who capture his interest—men who jump across ten feet of open ocean to grab a rope ladder and guide huge container ships into port. Men like sexy but prickly Justin Vance. 

After surviving an abusive childhood and a tour in the Navy, Justin isn’t fazed by his dangerous job—it’s certainly easier to face than Reed’s annoying questions. Justin isn’t out at work, and he doesn’t need Reed digging into his personal life or his past. 

But Reed’s no stranger to using his considerable charm to get what he wants, and as he wears Justin down, they realize they have a lot in common—and that they like spending time together. Moving beyond that, though, will mean Justin confessing his sexuality and learning to trust Reed with his secrets—if Reed even decides to stay. Both men want a future together, but can they find the courage to take the first step?

About the Author

Author bio: Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: Shira’s Singing

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 38′ catamaran sailboat, Prelude, at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

Shira Anthony: http://www.shiraanthony.com

Twitter: @WriterShira

Release Blitz and Giveaway for The Secrets We Keep by Rick R Reed

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Length: 195 pages
 
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
Blurb
 

Jasper Warren is a happy-go-lucky young man in spite of the tragedy that’s marred his life. He’s on a road to nowhere with his roommate, Lacy, whom he adores, and a dead-end retail job in Chicago.


And then everything changes in a single night. Though Jasper doesn’t know it, his road is going somewhere after all. This time when tragedy strikes, it brings with it Lacy’s older, wealthy, sexy uncle Rob. Despite the heart-wrenching circumstances, an immediate connection forms between the two men.


But the secrets between them test their attraction. Will their revelations destroy the bloom of new love… or encourage it to grow?

 
Excerpt
 

It’s always exciting for me, both as a writer and as a reader, when the two main lovers in a book first meet. In THE SECRETS WE KEEP, that first meeting is at a funeral home wake, for someone both men loved deeply (and for whom many of the secrets in the book are kept).

***



When he stepped out of the bathroom, someone was waiting for him. An older man.


Jasper tried to thread his way around the guy. “Did you want to go in?” Jasper gestured toward the open bathroom.


“No. I was waiting for you.” The guy eyed him. He was probably a good twenty years older than Jasper, but as inappropriate as it was at a time like this, Jasper couldn’t help noticing how sexy he was. Trim, a little on the short side, it was obvious, even in his impeccably tailored black suit, he was in very good, and very powerful, shape. Jasper was certain those weren’t shoulder pads testing the seams at the tops of his arms.


He had kind eyes. And they were the most amazing shade of pale gray. Jasper had seen a husky once with eyes like that; he couldn’t say he’d ever seen anything like it on a human being. Those eyes were mesmerizing, arresting, and chilling, framed in long, black lashes.


His hair was silver, shorn close on the sides with a bit more on top, spiked with some gel.


He wore a fashionable five-o’clock shadow that Jasper couldn’t deny he wanted to feel—either with his fingers or against his own smooth cheeks.


“For me?” Jasper smiled. “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”


He simply smiled enigmatically. “Probably not. But I bet I know you. You’re Jasper, Heather’s roommate, right?”


“Yeah. And you are?”


“I’m Robert. Robert Burroughs.” He extended his hand.


Jasper gripped the warm hand, slightly soft and a little damp. He didn’t take his eyes off Robert the whole time, and the “whole time” was much longer than the duration of a handshake for most guys. It sent a shiver through Jasper.


“Burroughs?” Jasper had a terrifying thought. What if this is her dad? Good Lord, I’m flirting with Lacy’s dad! At her funeral! The very thought caused beads of sweat to pop out on Jasper’s forehead. He held in a giddy burst of laughter. “Are you, um, related to Lacy? Er, Heather?”


Please don’t say you’re her father.


“I’m her uncle Rob. Did she never mention me?”


Jasper wracked his brain. One thing neither of them did much of was talk about their respective families. They liked to believe they were each other’s family now, “chosen family” was the term they used. The idea, the memory of this, brought a lump to Jasper’s throat, bringing home for real that his best friend was gone. “I’m not sure.”


“It’s okay if she didn’t. I hadn’t seen her in quite some time. My schedule doesn’t afford me much opportunity to see family, as much as I might want to.” He smiled, and Jasper noticed the sadness around his eyes despite it. Robert went on softly, “I wish I’d had one more chance to talk to her, to tell her how I loved her. I’m afraid she didn’t know.”


Jasper nodded. “Me too. If I could just talk to her one more time, maybe we wouldn’t be here.”


Robert cocked his head. “No?”


Jasper didn’t want to disabuse him of the notion that Lacy had not killed herself, if that was what he was choosing to believe. So he simply said, “Who knows?”


“Heather used to write sometimes, a long time ago. She’d shoot me a text, you know, a birthday emoji or a holiday one. We were close when she was a kid. I used to take her places with me whenever I could. Her parents never really got her, you know?”


“Oh, I know.”


“They were always trying to change her. Like, she was left-handed naturally, and they worked and worked and worked on getting her to use her right. They tried to get her to hang out with what they deemed the popular girls. They bought her American Girl dolls when all she wanted was a set of paints and a good book, preferably horror. I could stand here all day and tell you how little my brother and sister-in-law knew their girl. But I won’t.


“I just wish I’d stayed in better touch with her. Once my career took off, back when she was just becoming a teenybopper, I kind of got preoccupied and we lost touch.” He paused and Jasper noticed the tears standing in his incredible eyes. Unexpectedly, he laughed. “When she was a little girl, and I mean like three or four, she would sigh and say, ‘Woe is me.’ What little girl says that?”


“Lacy. It so figures.”


“You call her Lacy. Why?”


“That’s how she referred to herself. She was even thinking of legally changing her name. She hated Heather.”


Robert nodded. “I get that. I never thought of her as a Heather. I’m glad she found something else.” He glanced over his shoulder into the viewing room. “I wish they’d respected that.”


I do too. Jasper felt, suddenly, even sadder. For his own loss, sure, but more for Lacy’s loss. The rest of her life. She could have done so much. She could have been happy. He just knew it.


He placed his hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Look, I intended to stay longer, but I need to get out of here. This place is too oppressive. And it honestly feels like someone else is being waked, not the girl I know. So I’m gonna book. But it was nice to talk to you.”


Robert nodded. “Will you be at the funeral tomorrow morning?”


The funeral was set for one of Rogers Park’s Catholic churches. Then they’d fly the body back to California for burial in the family plot.


It was all wrong. All not what Lacy would have chosen.


Jasper shook his head. “No. I don’t think so. This isn’t her. I think I’ll just remember her as I knew her.”


Jasper turned away, feeling on the verge of tears. He didn’t want to cry in front of Lacy’s uncle—or anyone else gathered at the funeral home, for that matter.


As he reached the door, Robert’s voice stopped him.


“Jasper?”


He turned.


“Would you mind if I came with you? I need to get out of here too.”

 

Real Men. True Love.


Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.


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A MelanieM Review: Romancing the Rough Diamond (Romancing the… #4) by Clare London

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Trust is the most precious jewel of all.

When Mayfair jewelers Starsmith Stones wins the commission for a gay royal wedding, CEO Joel Sterling is recommended to the brilliant young designer Matt Barth—only to discover Matt’s the man with whom he shared an anonymous and passionate kiss on the celebration night.

Disenchanted with the commercial jewelry industry, Matt nowadays prefers muddy archaeological digs to designing. Openly resentful of Starsmith’s hostile takeover of his family’s firm, he is horrified at the realization he’ll be working with the man who engineered that deal—but the opportunity to create something fabulous and unique for the royal couple is too tempting to refuse.

Working as a team reignites the spark between Joel and Matt. But when betrayal from within Starsmith threatens both the project and Joel’s confidence, will they have built enough trust to keep their newfound love as precious as the royal jewels?

I’m thoroughly enjoying Clare London’s Romancing The series and that extends to her latest release Romancing the Rough Diamond (Romancing the… #4). A wonderful combination of entertaining subject matter and romance plus great location, it was easy to read, the romance and relationship made all the more  interesting because of the main character’s professions and the jewelry at the heart of the story.

I liked the characters. CEO Joel Sterling, extremely capable, intelligent, with a love of the jewelry and the art behind it  Jewelry designer Matt Barth, artistic, hot headed, loyal, and highly moral, if judgemental.  A pair where the chemistry is calculated to burn hot.  Which it did.  I love the passages where they worked as a team to achieve the special commission.  That worked so well, highlighting the group dynamics and the entire process which I found fascinating. It broke down somewhat  later on over the whole “betrayal” element because that never seemed so  realistic

The lack of security measures, followup, etc. The accusations that occured never felt more than a unrealistic plot device unfortunately.  I could see it happening, just not that way.

What I was terribly interested in?  Another highly born couple.  I wanted their story and much, much , more of them.  They intrigued me and almost stole the story away.

As did Matt’s family and the archaeological dig at the farm.  I could have had more of that as well.  Especially Joel sloshing about in the mud in the fields and the excitement it drew from Matt.

So many great elements here.  The jewelry industry, another high couple, an archaeological dig, Matt’s family, and, Matt and Joel.   I just think they all sort of fought against each other because each needed more time and perhaps more of the story or another story altogether.  Not sure what I’m saying other than there was a feast of elements here that added to to being too much of a good thing.

Still a lovely romance to read.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza. It has some of the right elements and a great model for Matt. Still it’s lacking something.

 

Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644056370
Edition Language English
Series Romancing the… #4

An Alisa Review: Love You So Sweetly (Love You So Stories #4) by Tara Lain

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Reading his future in a glass of sweet tea.

The youngest son of one of America’s richest families, Remy Merced is so busy trying to save his family company from collapse, he’s never taken time to figure out if he’s gay, much less if he’s happy. Then his meddling mama hires him an assistant who’s everything Remy thinks he doesn’t want. Cute Harper Treadwell, from rural Arkansas, is a brilliant business prodigy… and openly gay. His wit and charm could confirm Remy’s suspicions about his own sexuality almost instantly—if they weren’t both already partnered.

When Remy’s girlfriend and Harper’s boyfriend get a little too friendly, Remy finds that the path to happiness requires a long drive in an old Prius, a growing appreciation for small towns, and a whole lot of sweet tea. But before they can forge a future—they have to let go of the past.

I love how sweet these stories are and how they aren’t all so closely connected.  Remy keeps himself so busy that he hasn’t actually been able to spend the time to contemplate his life and if he is even happy with how it’s going, let along if he really wants women or not.  Harper was taken in by a smooth talking man and while it pushed him away from his hometown it did bring him into Remy’s life for the better.

I liked both of these characters, both of them were so innocent in different ways.  Harper was just so trusting and when that trust is broken I hated that he felt he had to run away.  Remy wants his family’s company to succeed and it was hard to see him re-evaluate his life when he meets Harper.  I liked that when the time came Remy was able to step up and then their brilliant minds were able to come up with the solution to both of their problems.

The cover art by Reese Dante is great and I love the visual of Harper and the sweet tea that was a bit of a catalyst for Remy.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 161 pages

Published: September 13, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-568-7

Edition Language: English

Series: A Love You So Story

Tara Lain on Five Fabulous Facts about Love You So Sweetly and her new release the Love You So Sweetly (Love You So Stories #4) by Tara Lain

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Love You So Sweetly (Love You So Stories #4) by Tara Lain

Dreamspinner Press
Publication: September 13th 2019
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Book Links:
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Five Fabulous Facts About LOVE YOU SO SWEETLY

Hi! I’m Tara Lain and today I’m here to introduce my new book, LOVE YOU SO SWEETLY. Here are five facts about the book 

  1. LOVE YOU SO SWEETLY is the fourth book in my Love You So Series, but these books are very lightly connected, making them stand-alone. The main character, Remy Merced, was a minor character in Love You So Madly, but you don’t have to have read that book to understand who Remy is from page one of this book. Feel free to read these stories in any order.
  2. If you’ve read any of my books, you know I love the “opposites attract” trope, but this book outdoes itself. This story is rich boy/poor boy, big city/small town, sophisticated west coast/rural southern, in the closet/out and proud. See, it’s got it all!
  3. I always love happy-ever-after stories and most of my books have HEA endings, but these stories are really, really happy. If you’re looking for angst, try elsewhere. LOL.
  4. While I’m usually associated with the west coast, most often Southern California and now southern Oregon, I was actually born in Georgia. I left when I was a baby, but I think somehow the humidity, live oaks and Spanish moss crept into my spirit. Every now and then, I revisit my roots as I do in LOVE YOU SO SWEETLY.
  5. In real life, I love Pilates. I’ve taken Pilates classes from many different teachers and own my own Reformer, but I’ve never included a Pilates scene in a book – until now. In LOVE YOU SO SWEETLY, some of my fave scenes are in the company gym, with special emphasis on a Pilates class my two heroes both attend.

And that’s it for now. I hope you love my opposites-attract lovers! Hugs.

About Love You So Sweetly

Reading his future in a glass of sweet tea.

The youngest son of one of America’s richest families, Remy Merced is so busy trying to save his family company from collapse, he’s never taken time to figure out if he’s gay, much less if he’s happy. Then his meddling mama hires him an assistant who’s everything Remy thinks he doesn’t want. Cute Harper Treadwell, from rural Arkansas, is a brilliant business prodigy… and openly gay. His wit and charm could confirm Remy’s suspicions about his own sexuality almost instantly—if they weren’t both already partnered.

When Remy’s girlfriend and Harper’s boyfriend get a little too friendly, Remy finds that the path to happiness requires a long drive in an old Prius, a growing appreciation for small towns, and a whole lot of sweet tea. But before they can forge a future—they have to let go of the past.

Excerpt LOVE YOU SO SWEETLY — Dasher

But he and Felicity hadn’t had sex in weeks. Shouldn’t he have a set of horns that would put Dasher, Dancer, and Prancer to shame? Hell, he was in his twenties. Even if he was sleepwalking, shouldn’t he be ready to stick his cock in anything female that passed within five feet of him? Wasn’t that the way most guys felt? Shit, these questions haunted the back of his brain all the time while the front worried about the business. And it wasn’t like he didn’t know why it worried him.

He sipped coffee and glanced at John Jack, who was smiling at his wife with open lust. It’d be nice to have somebody he trusted to tell him straight if he was undersexed or asexual, or…. He sighed softly. But he and John Jack didn’t have that kind of relationship. John Jack was seven years older and was more a product of Arkansas than California. He put a lot of store in “being a man,” and Remy was scared of what John Jack would say if Remy tried to get personal. Remy worked all the time, so everyone he knew was associated with the company, and since Remy was the boss, who the hell was he going to tell his troubles to?

His mama’s voice came from the direction of the kitchen, telling Nigel she’d like some more ice cream.

Felicity turned to Remy and leaned in. “I’m going to make my excuses. I’m too tired.” She put a hand on his arm. “Sorry, dear.” She kissed his cheek, rose, said a fast goodbye to Trudy and John Jack, and was gone before Mama even made it into the room.

Remy had a pretty good idea he shouldn’t be smiling.

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About the Author

Tara Lain believes in happy ever afters – and magic. Same thing. In fact, she says, she doesn’t believe, she knows. Tara shares this passion in her best-selling stories that star her unique, charismatic heroes — the beautiful boys of romance —  and adventurous heroines. Quarterbacks and cops, werewolves and witches, blue collar or billionaires, Tara’s characters, readers say, love deeply, resolve seemingly insurmountable differences, and ultimately live their lives authentically. After many years living in southern California, Tara, her soulmate honey and her soulmate dog decided they wanted less cars and more trees, prompting a move to Ashland, Oregon where Tara’s creating new stories and loving living in a small town with big culture. Likely a Gryffindor but possessed of Parseltongue, Tara loves animals of all kinds, diversity, open minds, coconut crunch ice cream from Zoeys, and her readers. She also loves to hear from you.   

Author Links:

Website:  http://taralain.com/

Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog

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About the Series:

Book Links:
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Series Information

Link above image to Amazon: https://amzn.to/2M0bb7O

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39509418-love-you-so-hard

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Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39674254-love-you-so-madly

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Book Links:
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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford

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Rating:3.75 stars out of 5

This is the third book in the series featuring five brothers who own a tattoo shop together. The whole series has a strong theme of survival and friends as family, so they would have the best emotional impact if read in order, but there is so much recapping that it’s not necessary. This opposites attract story revolves around SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls and tattoo artist Ivo Rogers. I have to admit I was looking forward to this pairing, so I enjoyed seeing how they first met. It’s not what happens plot wise that is the draw so much as exploring what happens when people put aside their learned behaviors of defense mechanisms and judgment.

While I like both of these characters, most of the words were spent re-weaving a world that was already built. A novel without a lot of plot could have really delved into getting to know Ruan’s partner Maite, or his friend and landlord Cranson, or his boss.

The prose is always beautiful and focused on observations: “There was a simple beauty in an older woman—a purity of the soul having settled down through life, a river-tumbled gemstone run smooth from its journey through the waters and over unforgiving rocks.” Yet, no one is explored with much depth, nor are any of the words used to layer in more information about the other brothers and move their story forward.

About 50% of the way in, it gets real as Ruan and Ivo connect, talking about their professions, which are their lives. Then it grabbed me by the throat and ripped my heart out. While this scene is powerfully emotional, it is a standout. Also, it is way too much, too early, for a couple barely dating who have seen each other a few times. It works because it’s what damaged people do: throw it all out there to see if the other person runs away. Ivo definitely gives Ruan one hell of a test when he shows up at the police station. My complaint is that Ruan don’t seem to lay himself bare as much as Ivo does, which means the reader doesn’t get to know him in the same way. Yes, the books are about the brotherhood, but the person each picks–their person–needs to be as fleshed out as they are. It gives you glimpses of Ivo’s and Ruan’s daily life and how they start to mesh them into one, but I didn’t live and breathe it.

To be fair, I have been really thinking hard about why I’m a little disappointed because I know fans of this series will love this. While I don’t like to compare books, it’s difficult when I just read Ramen Assassin by the same author and it’s just so much more entertaining. This gives a nice, romantic ending that I think will please everyone. There is a bit at the end dealing with James, so the audience knows whose romance is up next.

The cover art is by Reece Notley (reece@vitaenoir.com). The covers of the series are eye-catching with great models and have a unified look. This isn’t quite how I picture Ivo because of the hair.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644056301
Edition Language English
Series 415 Ink #3

415 Ink Series

Rebel

Savior

Hellion