A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: A Daring Ride (The Bullriders#2) by Andrew Grey and Narrator: John Solo

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This review is of the audiobook version of this book, and as such, narrator John Solo deserves a shout-out at the beginning for bringing this sweet tale of a young bull rider to life.

In typical Andrew Grey fashion, this story is a sweet romance that focuses on Simon “the Frizz” Frizzell who wants to be a bull rider more than anything.  His ultra-conservative Christian parents, however, want to keep him under their wing.  They own and operate a string of Christian bookstores and have plans for Simon that include marrying the “right” girl and taking over management of one of the bookstores. 

But Simon, who just snuck away for the weekend and garnered a top prize for seating his bull, is gay and he just knows that when his parents find out they are going to flip out and then kick him out.  As it happens, he’s not far wrong. In the meantime, Simon has written to Dante Rivers, the well-known bull rider, to ask if he can have a job at Dante’s ranch and apprentice with him so he can refine his riding skills.  Having met Dante and his partner, Ryan, and Ryan’s friend Jacky at the last event, he’s hopeful the man will remember him and agree.  It’s Ryan who actually contacts him and offers him a job and Dante reluctantly goes along with it. But it’s Jacky who seals the deal as he and Simon rekindle their spark of desire and go all the way toward making Simon’s dreams a reality—and not just the dreams of riding the bull. 

As expected, the parents don’t understand, and as expected, there are plenty of misunderstandings.  To be honest, it was a bit cliché and I’m getting pretty tired of the nasty mother and/or father who beat the Bible into the ground trope.  This one relied heavily on those clichés so it wasn’t more than a three star read for me.  And as it was, it’s really only a three star due to John Solo’s narration. He did an outstanding job with all the voices—both male and female—and his storytelling was very easy to follow.

If you like a sweet romance, love cowboys, and don’t mind some Bible-banging, I can recommend this one.

~~~~

Cover art by LC Chase features two young men, one muscular, in the upper panel and a bull in the ring in the lower panel. The cover is bright and colorful and aptly portrays the characters and theme of the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Release Date Mar 23, 2018
Type Novels
Length 7:00 hrs.

Amy Lane on Making It Work and Crocus (Bonfires, #2) (author guest blog and tour)

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Crocus (Bonfires, #2)  by  Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Reese Dante

Sales Links:  AmazonDreamspinner Press |  Kobo 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have one of its favorite authors back to talk about one of its highly recommended series and stories Crocus, the second story in the Bonfires series from Amy Lane. Welcome, Amy.

♦︎

Making it Work

By Amy Lane

*Note—If you follow my blog, you know these people—ZoomBoy is my 14 YO son, Squish is my 12 YO daughter, Chicken is my 23 YO daughter and Big T is my 25 YO son. Mate is my long suffering mate.

So, Wednesday night was dance lessons. It’s always dance lessons, since Chicken was in dance and it’s in our blood by now. We’re coming up on recital and the kids missed some time for our trip back east, and they absolutely had to make dance lessons.

Wednesday night was also Open House, which I didn’t find out about until we were leaving for dance lessons, but dammit, recital, and ZoomBoy couldn’t have at least told me that this was why he had a minimum day which I also didn’t know about until I was packing to go to the gym and ZoomBoy texted me and said he needed a ride home which meant I didn’t go to the gym and I didn’t get a shower until one in the afternoon either!

So, dance lessons, and I might have wanted to go to Open House but Mate had a soccer meeting—his second this week, and he’s got practice with Squish Tuesday and Thursday as well. But in a week filled with helping Chicken with her sick cat and driving ZoomBoy to her nanny job so he can help with the little kids so she doesn’t lose her mind, and getting Big T so he can do laundry at our house so he doesn’t go broke, and needing to get the car serviced and my own cat to the vet and a dentist appointment, dance lessons are sort of the cherry on the sundae that is a typical week at our house.

So anyway—Mate calls up while I’m driving the kids and says, “I’ll come sit with you and chat while the kids are dancing.”

And my entire body lights up.

Because he’s been tired—he’s fallen asleep in front of the TV at ten twice this week.  I’ve been busy—I’ve crawled into bed after two a.m. a couple of times, and I’m a joy to be around without sleep as well. So, he’s going to drive across town to sit in a car with me for an hour and share a snack and talk about our week and—maybe—hold my hand and kiss my cheek.

So he can be with me.

And all those thoughts I’ve had about running away to join the circus so I can at least read a book backstage disappear. My Mate is going to be with me. That’s really all I’ve needed all week.

The primary complaint about Bonfires was that it was too “busy”—and I’m gonna tell you, Crocus is busier—but I can’t apologize. I mean, I’m a writer for a living—walking the dogs and going to the gym are the highs of my workweek and having a 4,000 word day just doesn’t have the thrill of having a kid go berserk in your class or tazing a perp as he crosses the street. But my days are full—full—and finding time to be with my Mate, to talk to the person who makes me light up inside and lets me know that I’m not alone on the ferocious hamster wheel of raising kids and having a productive life can be a brutal exercise in time management.

And, like I said, I’m a writer.

Larx and Aaron are a Sheriff’s Deputy and a high school principal, and their lives make mine look like I’m sitting still. (Well, I often am.)  And their kids are busy, even the grown ones, and they’re trying to be good parents and their ferocious hamster wheel is powered by giant feral mutant gerbils on speed.

So I can’t apologize for the busy-ness, or the lack of sleep or the terrible struggle to find an hour, or forty-five minutes, or a heartbeat alone with the love of your life—because that’s what life is at this stage in the game. That’s what a relationship is when your kids and your careers and your digestive track are all at a certain age and you have to put in double-time to take care of each and every one.

Crocus and Bonfires are going to be busy.

But hopefully, there will be moments–hushed moments in a parked car, tender moments in a bed, full-body moments under the sky—when the world falls away, and two people can touch soul deep, and two hearts can draw strength from each other to sustain themselves for the race that tomorrow brings.

Blurb

Bonfires: Book Two

Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.

High school principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sheriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.

But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.

Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart?

Excerpt

Larx’s phone, sitting on the table next to him, buzzed, and he was damned grateful.

Hello, Principal—are you being a good boy and getting your work done?

Larx groaned. Sort of. Olivia showed up on the doorstep this morning. Oh hell. He didn’t even want to ask Aaron about using his house.

Is she visiting for the weekend?

No.

The phone rang. “Are you kidding me?”

“Sorry, Aaron.” He sighed and sipped his tepid coffee, then took a deep breath. “I don’t know what’s going on. She came in talking a mile a minute, tripped over the dog—”

“Is Dozer okay?”

Larx had to laugh. “Your dog is fine, Aaron.”

“He’s your dog,” Aaron protested weakly. Yes, the puppy had been a gift for Larx when his oldest cat passed away, but Aaron—big, solid, strong—had apparently been waiting for Dozer for most of his life.

Larx wasn’t going to argue that the dog was definitely Aaron’s, but it was true. Dozer—a mixed breed somewhere between a Labrador retriever and a German shepherd—was fine with Larx, answered to him just as well as he did Aaron, appreciated the hell out of the full food bowl, gave plenty of sloppy, happy kisses, and pranced about on spindly legs and feet the size of dinner plates.

But when Aaron came home, Larx watched the dog melt, roll to his back, offer up his tummy in supplication, and beg for pets.

Larx couldn’t object or be jealous—he felt the same way. Except Larx wanted Aaron to pet more than his belly.

“That dog’s your soul mate from another life,” Larx said now, scratching Dozer behind the ears. “Yes, you are. Yes, you are. But you can’t have him. He’s mine.”

“Wow. Just wow.”

Larx chuckled, because the distraction had been welcome, but now… now grown-up things. “She’s asleep on the couch,” he said softly. “Aaron… she’s not sounding….” He took a big breath. His ex-wife had suffered from depression after a miscarriage, and he remembered coming home from work bringing dinner once so she didn’t have to cook or clean up because she’d been so sad. She’d yelled at him—didn’t he think she was capable of cleaning her own kitchen? Then she’d burst into tears for an hour, while Larx had fed the girls and tried to calm her down.

It had been like standing on the deck of a ship in a storm—and Larx had that same feeling now, with his daughter, when his children had always been the source of peace in his heart.

“Pregnancy?” Aaron asked hesitantly. They were so new. Larx hadn’t spoken about Alicia more than a handful of times. Nobody talked about depression or mental illness.

Nobody knew what to say.

“Yeah.” Larx didn’t want to talk about it right now. He just couldn’t.

“Baby….” Aaron’s voice dropped, and considering Larx had gotten him at work, where he had to be all tough and manly and shit, that meant he was worried.

“Later,” Larx said gruffly. “Just not, you know….”

“When the whole world can hear. I get it.” Aaron blew out a breath and then took the subject down a surprising path. “Larx, do you have a student named Candace Furman?”

Larx stared at the paperwork in his hand, shuffling back to where he was right before Olivia had knocked.

“Yeah. Not one of mine, but… huh.” He reached over to his laptop and accessed the school’s portal site. “Hm….”

“That’s informative. Want to tell me what you’re looking at?”

“It’s sort of privileged, Deputy. Want to tell me why you need to know?”

Aaron’s grunt told him he was being annoying, but Larx couldn’t help it. He didn’t want to just divulge information on a kid if it wasn’t necessary. It went against everything he’d ever stood for as a rebellious adolescent.

“I just got…. It was weird. We got a domestic call to her house—her parents answer, and it’s all great. ‘No, Officer, we have no idea why somebody would call in screaming or a fight in the snow.’ We take a look inside, house is okay—but really clean.”

“Like somebody just swept up all the pieces of all the things?” Larx hazarded.

“Yeah. Either that or just… unhealthily antiseptic. And Candace and her sister—”

“Shelley,” Larx supplied since he had the file open on his computer.

“Yeah. Anyway—the girls are fine. ‘Yessir. Nossir. It’s all okay, sir.’ But they’ve both got these… like, girl masks on?”

“Makeup?” Larx said, trying to picture it.

“No… like… face goop. Like… whatwazit? Mrs. Doubtfire stuck her face in the cake ’cause she didn’t have her makeup on?”

It took Larx a minute to process all that. “A facial,” he said, blinking hard because the movie was that old, and the antitrans messaging had been so strong that Larx forgot he too had been part of America who’d laughed their asses off at a man in a dress with flammable boobs.

“Yeah. That. And that shit could be hiding anything, right? Their eyes were red, but then, for all I know the facial goop did that. So I’m not sure if they’re hiding shiners or if their neighbors just got hold of some bad weed—”

“Did you knock on their door?” Larx asked. Between him and Aaron, they really did know most of the town. “Who’s their neighbor?”

“Couple of brothers,” Aaron said thoughtfully. “Just moved at Christmas. Youngest one goes to Colton High—”

“Jaime Benitez,” Larx said promptly. “Junior.” He pressed the right link and there was the master schedule. “He and Candace are in some classes together.”

Aaron grunted. “Well, the older brother had been lighting up pretty hard—but it doesn’t seem like Jaime’s the type to indulge.”

“You didn’t bust them?” Larx asked curiously. He’d done his share of weed in college—but Aaron had been off fighting and bleeding for his country when Larx was in college. This was something they’d never talked about.

“Hell,” Aaron muttered. “Unless they’re growing to distribute, it’s mostly legal. Not for minors, of course, but both boys were functional, polite, and their eyes were clear. Roberto—who’s twenty-one, by the way—actually produced a prescription for anxiety without being asked. I could have made a stink about it, but I couldn’t see the point.”

“I love you so hard,” Larx breathed. “Seriously. I can’t think of a sexual favor good enough for you. I’ll have to make something up.”

“I’m sorry?”

Larx couldn’t articulate it. It wasn’t that he’d smoke it now unless it was prescribed, and he didn’t want his kids—or his students—indulging without cause. But something about knowing Aaron, for all his law-and-order propensities, didn’t push rules just for the sake of there being rules made Larx even prouder of him.

“Just you’re a good guy. Jaime Benitez is getting good grades. He’s part of the local service clubs, including one where he tutors eighth graders in trouble. Nice boy.”

“In your class?” Aaron wanted to know.

“Senior year, like Kirby. Christiana is sort of—”

“Special,” Aaron said fondly. “Yeah. I know.”

Well, Larx’s youngest was the girl with the flower—her brightness and sparkle was coupled with a quiet good sense. Irresistible. She was also razor-sharp, which was why she was taking Larx’s class in her junior year.

“So what about Candace?” Aaron prompted.

Larx sighed. “She’s… well, she was a straight-A student, but no involvement in anything.”

“Nothing?”

Aaron might well be surprised. It was a small school in a small town. Activity involvement wasn’t mandatory, but if a kid wanted any sort of social life, being part of a club or a sport was pretty much the only thing going on after school.

“No—that’s odd. And that’s probably why I can’t place her. Her sister’s in grade school, so I wouldn’t know her. But Candace is just… not involved.”

“Was,” Aaron prompted, and Larx rested his chin on his fist and looked woefully at his paperwork. Ye gods, the pile wasn’t getting any smaller.

“Yeah. Was getting straight As. Is no longer. Is veering off into C and D territory. And I have in front of me, waiting for a signature, her very first referral for behavior.”

He stared at it, wondering how the pieces fit.

“What’d she do?” Aaron asked patiently.

“Well, it says she got to class late and then ran out a few minutes after the bell rang. It was her first-period class, and when she came back—looking pale—the teacher asked if she was okay. Apparently she laughed hysterically and told the teacher to fuck off.”

“Uh….”

Larx sighed. “Yeah. That’s why I’m up to my eyeballs in paperwork, Aaron—so I can look for kids like this and ask them what happened. I’m on it.”

“That’s my boy,” Aaron praised softly. “Good. Keep me in the loop, okay? I don’t know if the girls were being abused, and frankly I didn’t have enough evidence to so much as make them wash their faces. I don’t know the story behind the boys living together without parents, and I don’t know why one of them would be anxious enough to get a prescription for a ton of weed. These are things I would like to know before I go venturing in there with CPS and the DEA to make sure everything is kosher, you understand?”

“Got it, Deputy.” Larx looked at both kids’ files again and wondered at the puzzle. “Aaron, I’m serious. You’re a good man. These kids—there’s pieces missing here. Yanking them away from their homes, dragging them into the fray—I’m not sure if that’s the best thing here.”

Larx was starting to know Aaron’s grunts—this one was the respectful disagreement grunt. “Some stuff needs to see light, Mr. Larkin,” he chided gently. “If something’s festering in that girl’s life, it’s our job to make sure she’s okay.”

Of course.

“Roger that.” Larx tilted his head back and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Have you eaten?” Aaron asked.

“Uh….” He’d gotten a sandwich for Olivia, but he’d put off getting his own.

“Eat, Principal. Work on your paperwork. And maybe take a nap on the couch before I get there. Save up your strength.” He gave a chuckle that was absolutely filthy. “You’re going to need it.”

Larx whined. “But… but Olivia—”

“If hearing us have sex gives her reason to move out, more’s the better,” Aaron intoned darkly.

Oh shit. “She… uh… she sort of hinted… never mind.”

“My house. Yes. We’ll move her tomorrow.”

Larx groaned and rested his forehead on the paperwork on the table. “God. You’re the perfect man. Where’s the rub? Where’s the flaw? There’s got to be something here that makes me want to smack you—where is it?”

“Mmm….”

Oh yeah. That conversation they weren’t having because of all the conversations they were.

“Understood.” Larx sighed. “I’ll see you when you get home.”

“Eat, dammit.”

Larx smiled, reassured. “Sure. Take care of what’s mine.”

“Always do.”

“Love you.”

“Thanks for the info.”

Aaron signed off, and Larx’s text pinged thirty seconds later.

Love you too.

Yup. Too good to be true.

Larx’s worry about his daughter—and about Aaron’s input into the situation—doubled down in his chest.

Please, Olivia—please. Don’t make me choose between you two. Please.

About the Author

 

Amy Lane has two grown kids out of college, two half-grown kids in high school and middle school, three cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with some of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

BLOG TOUR: Redeeming the Stepbrother by Andrew Grey (excerpt)

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Title: Redeeming the Stepbrother

Author: Andrew Grey

Series: Standalone (Currently) 

Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: April 10 2018

Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print

Blurb/Synopsis:

Family can be a blessing and a curse, but for artist Florian, it’s a nightmare he longs to escape.

As chief designer for Bartholomew Artist Porcelain, Florian specializes in painting birds. He also watches them in the wild to distract himself from his short-tempered mother, at least temporarily. Florian’s heart is too soft to leave his stepsister, Ella, to suffer alone. Still, he can’t help dreaming about one day finding happiness and love.

When Count Dieter von Hollenbach arrives in town to visit a friend and present an award, he isn’t looking for romance. Then again, he doesn’t expect someone as perfect as Florian to come into his life. To make sure Florian is all he seems and that their connection is genuine, Dieter keeps his title to himself.

But he isn’t the only one with a secret.

At a masquerade ball to celebrate the award, some of the masks fall away, but those that remain in place could destroy the love beginning to grow between them.

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Excerpt 

I crouched in the reeds, finding a dry spot and using the tall grasses as cover to watch, listening and filling my camera with images. There was almost too much activity to take in all at once.

An engine sound grew near, and I turned but didn’t see the car. I didn’t want to scare any of the birds away, so I stayed where I was until slurpy footsteps came closer.

“Florian,” Dieter said with his deep voice and German accent.

“Right here. Stay low and move slowly. There is a lot of activity today.” I waited until Dieter got nearer and moved over to share my firm, dry patch of ground. I pointed. “Look over there. The baby egrets are learning from their mother to hunt for food.” Dieter leaned in the direction I had pointed, and I inhaled his sweet, slightly musky scent. Dang, he smelled good. I inched a little closer, just so I could get another whiff of him. Too bad I’d never learned how to add scent to a painting—other than the smell of paint, that is.

“Look over there.” Dieter pointed to a sandpiper as it scampered over the sand, poking its long beak down every now and then.

A motor sounded in the distance and grew louder and louder. It was one of those large cabin cruisers going full speed, motors rumbling throatily as it approached. The birds scampered for cover or took to the air, flying off for safety.

“I hate that. They’re supposed to slow down in this section of the Bay, but they don’t always do it. Danged tourists.” This was a known birding area and most locals left it alone or stayed clear when they were on the water.

There was no use sitting here any longer. The birds were gone, and while they’d return eventually, they were scattered now. Besides, it was getting late.

I stood, stretching my back and legs. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s not your fault.” Dieter was wearing the same sort of clothes as he had the last time I saw him. Definitely something out of another era. His gaze traveled downward as I smiled. “My clothes?”

I nodded. “Where did you get them? At an antique store?”

Dieter shrugged. “They were my father’s. He used to take me bird-watching in Bavaria when I was a little boy. It was one of the few things he and I did together.” He slowly and carefully made his way back toward the cars, and I followed him, enjoying the view. “My father was a difficult man.” Dieter opened the trunk, took off his binoculars, and set them inside their case. “He didn’t seem to have a lot of time for me, but we used to go hiking in the Alps and to lakes, where we watched birds. My father used to take me hunting, but I was miserable at it.”

I shivered. “I hate hunting. I could never get the hang of shooting.” I opened the trunk to my car and starting taking off my gear, getting out my sneakers. “My stepfather took me once and I nearly shot my foot off and then dropped the gun. It almost disappeared into the mud. After that, I decided that watching birds was a lot more interesting than trying to shoot them. I can buy chicken in the store when I want poultry.” I smiled, and Dieter grinned in return.

“I can shoot very well. I just don’t think hunting is very sporting. Not when my father’s version was standing in a field while the gamekeepers released captured birds and he shot them as they tried to get away.” Dieter looked downward once again. “But these were what he wore when we went bird-watching, and I kept them after he passed away.” He changed his shoes, and I did the same.

I wasn’t sure what to do or talk about now that we were done watching the birds. I needed to get some dinner and was about to ask if Dieter wanted to join me, but his phone rang before I could.

Dieter answered it and spoke softly in German before ending the call. “I must go. It was very nice bird-watching with you.” He nodded once, sort of a small bow. I didn’t understand what it meant, but I did the same in return. “I hope to see you again.” Dieter got into his car and hurried away. I watched him go and for a second wondered if I suddenly smelled bad.

With nothing more I could do, I packed up my things and headed to town. I wasn’t particularly interested in going home, so I figured I’d get something to eat and read for a while. I had my Kindle in my bag, and some quiet time away from family chaos was probably a good thing.

As I passed through town, I noticed the dark Mercedes parked outside the café. I thought it was Dieter’s and debated eating there. It was my favorite place in town, and Betty, the owner and hostess, usually gave me a table by the window so I could watch people and relax. I didn’t want Dieter to think I was following him, though, and nearly drove past before deciding to park and go anyway.

“Hi, honey,” Betty said as I stepped inside. “Your usual table?”

I nodded. “Thanks.” I sat down, and she brought me a cup of tea and took my order for a chicken salad sandwich. One of these days I really needed to work on becoming less predictable. Even I thought my life was a bit boring and a little redundant.

“How are things going at the studio?” Betty asked after she put in the order.

“Good,” I answered, glancing over at the tables on the other side of the café. Dieter sat with Dante, talking quietly. I didn’t want to appear to be eavesdropping on my boss, but I had to confess that I barely saw Dante, my gaze only for Dieter. Dieter leaned over the table, his hair falling slightly forward, framing his profile, and I might have sighed slightly.

“I see,” Betty said, and I looked up at her. “You know Mr. Dante is taken.”

I must have looked askance at her because she nodded.

“Honey, the other man is a business associate of Dante’s. He’s dreamy, if you ask me, but I don’t know how long he’s going to be staying, so don’t get your heart set on that one.” Betty and husband had run the diner for three decades or so, and due to diner gossip, had a pretty good idea of everything that went on in town. “There haven’t been any rumors as to why he’s here, but there have been various ladies who’d like to take him for a spin.”

Author Information

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

A Lila Audiobook Review: Late in the Day (The Vault #2) by Mary Calmes and Greg Boudreaux (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

What they say this book’s all about?

Terrence Moss. Conrad Harris. Gold Team Leader. Darius Hawthorne. The Vault. Juggling all these names would bother some, but for Darius, it’s business as usual. When he closes a chapter in his life, he leaves a name—and the people associated with it—behind. He’s managed to keep a few colleagues, even fewer friends, and no companionship through his forty-plus years… but that’s now changing.

The newest chapter of his life is bringing serious change: a stable home, a recovered identity, an unlikely family, and now a chance encounter with the one man Darius ever loved: Efrem Lahm. The reasons they parted are still valid, and there’s no way they can trust each other. But Efrem has already decided he won’t let Darius go… and Darius will have to decide if he wants to take a chance with his heart this late in the day.

Late in the Day is a story of second chances and hard happily ever afters. It starts right into the action and personally, it took me a moment to make the connection between the end of the last book and the start of this one. One thing I didn’t like was the switch between the current moment and snippets of past events. By the time the characters moved back to the current timeline, I was ready to skip over.

Like many of the author’s stories, we have met Conrad before and we get to see many others helping us discover the events that shaped Conrad. Also, to learn how he fell in love with Efrem. Perhaps a bit far-fetched but it works in the end.

I did want more time with Conrad and Efrem. It seems as if we lost the majority of their love story within other books. Don’t get me wrong, they have great chemistry but I wanted them to show it, not having it be implied. It does end with a pretty wrapped up, sigh-worthy HEA.

And definitely, kudos to Mary Calmes for having characters over forty; getting closer to fifty. 🙂

As always, Greg Boudreaux did an excellent job bringing to life the new characters in this book and bringing the rest from the previous ones. It was easy to feel what the characters felt and this added to the listeners’ enjoyment.

The cover by Reese Dante has a lovely depiction of Conrad. The strength in his gaze shows through the book.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Length: 5 hours and 41 minutes

Published: March 7, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07B86XWF8
Edition Language: English

Series: The Vault
Book #1: A Day Makes
Book #2: Late in the Day

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Getting His Man (Getting His Man #1) by B.G. Thomas and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

A love story worthy of an old movie… with a new twist.

Artie needs a hero, a man like those he’s always revered in Golden Age films. His drug-dealing jerk of a roommate got him arrested, and since his savior isn’t likely to sweep in and save the day, Artie calls a bail bondsman.

August has always imagined himself a hero from a black-and-white movie, but he’s never found a man willing to let him play that role—at least not until he gets the call from Artie.

Both of their dreams might come true, but not before August must use his skills as a bounty hunter as well as a bondsman. Artie is on the run for his life, and August must protect him and help him clear his name. Only then can they both finally get their man.

I really enjoyed this story.  Artie is so adorably sweet and innocent but not at the same time, he just trusts easily and trying to make it on his own.  Artie is just what he has always wanted in a man but tries hard to keep some distance between them, at least at first.

These two were perfect for each other, down to the dream of dancing the night away with the right person.  I loved how they were both romantics at heart though August doesn’t outwardly show it as much but no matter how different they are in the end they want the same thing.  Part of Artie’s innocence is he can’t stand the thought of seeing anyone hurt and I could see how much he hurt himself when trying to keep August and his family safe.  August has a very determined personality and he uses it to help protect and guide Artie in just the way he needs.

Kenneth Obi did a great job narrating this story.  The voices he used for each character were perfect and helped me to connect with their personalities and emotions.  The different voices also helped with keeping track of the story.

Cover art by Bree Archer is perfect and I liked having a visual of August.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 5hrs 52mins
Published March 7, 2018 (ebook first published December 15, 2017) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Getting His Man #1, Dreamspun Desires

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Crocus (Bonfires #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The characters from Bonfires return and this time, their lives have finally settled down—or so they think.  But danger comes in many forms—mental, emotional, and physical—and the guys get a whammy from all sides.  Larx’s pregnant daughter, Olivia, comes home after ditching her boyfriend and dropping out of school. She begins a depression hibernation that isn’t broken until she has to step up and help said boyfriend who has shown up in town, been in an accident, and is now hospitalized.

Larx is dealing with a student who may be being molested in her home and that situation comes to a crisis at the same time he’s also helping Jamie, a young teen who’s living with his brother who was previously severely beaten and suffers from PTSD.  Unfortunately, paths cross in their neighborhood in the small town in California and when the girl’s stepbrother shows up with a gun and looks for her at the home of the kid with PTSD, Aaron arrives just in time to intervene and be injured in the line of duty. 

Larx honestly doesn’t know which way to turn when his lover is carried off in an ambulance, his young male student and his brother are traumatized by what went on in their home, and the girl who’d been hiding in the shack in their back yard takes off cross country in the middle of a major snowstorm. Could it get worse? You bet. Amy Lane weaves a complex tale of yours, mine, and ours that is definitely not The Brady Bunch. 

I love Larx!  I love his BFF, Yoshi!  Aaron!  And now Tane, Yoshi’s quiet and unassuming lover who steps up and helps the young man with the PTSD.  Olivia’s boyfriend is released from the hospital where he’d been suffering from a concussion, Jamie and his brother move in with them into Aaron’s old house, and the rest of the gang, including Kellan (Bonfires), who now lives with Larx, all manage to fit into Larx’s home and the chaos seems to have no end. 

I really enjoyed the underlying humor in many of the personal interactions, the strong and evident love between Larx and Aaron, the support for the young brothers, one of whom gave up everything to keep his baby brother from being enlisted by gangs, and the variety in the family drama.  Olivia’s depression and potential treatment was addressed, and even Aaron’s oldest daughter’s hostility was brought in when she was informed of her father’s injury and then abruptly cut off for the sake of everyone’s peace when she kept singing the same old tune. 

I suspect there may be at least one more book to come in this series as several threads remain unresolved.  Plus, if we are really lucky, we may get to attend a wedding between these two older men who captured my heart so completely in book one that I never want to see them disappear. 

I highly recommend this story. It’s full of action, adventure, drama, family issues, heartache, and of course, heartwarming interactions. 

~~~

The colorful and attractive cover by Reese Dante depicts a beautiful crocus that is symbolic of the storyline. Per the author, crocuses are tough enough to push their way through snow to give people “hope for a gentler moment in time.”

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleCrocus
ISBN139781640806351
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bonfires #2

An Alisa Release Day Review: Lost Souls Found (Requiem Inc. #2) by Kris T. Bethke

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Dying is all in a day’s work. Love is more dangerous.

Ghostwalker Sam Jones has been half in love with Michael King since he started working at Requiem Inc. But Michael is his boss and a Guardian, to boot. Sam thinks they could make it work anyway, but Michael uses his position and his age to keep Sam at arm’s length.

When Sam continues to volunteer for the most dangerous cases, Michael has to intervene. He tells himself he’s just doing his job, but he’s always seen Sam as more than another operative, and he can’t bear the thought of not taking his chance. The connection between them has been strong from the beginning, and Michael’s telepathy adds unexpected depth and an edge to their new romance, but working together while they try to build their relationship might be the hardest part of their job if they don’t make some sacrifices.

I have been excited to read about Sam and Michael since I read the last book and it didn’t disappoint.  Sam has been pining for Michael since they first met ten years ago but Michael finally crosses a line and Sam decides to take the step to separate them.  That’s just the step that pushes Michael to actually talk to Sam about his feelings and see that future may be possible for them.

Michael continues to break Sam’s heart every time he denies their connection but it’s just that unfortunate thing to finally push Sam too far and for Michael to open his eyes.  Michael needs to take care of Sam and even with good intentions it bleeds into their work life.  There is a solution coming but will it be too much of a sacrifice for one of them to make?

We don’t get to see how these two have interacted in the past but seeing them in the previous book helps with that along with seeing both of their points of view.  I loved seeing Sam find the support he has always wanted from Michael which gives them both the type of connection they have longed for.  Michael has been hesitant and has trouble not being able to take care of Sam in all ways and causes some tension when bringing Sam back to life.  I see the next story is going to be about Avery who we got to know in the first story and can’t wait to see him find love again and see a potential for Tyler to be a focus in the future too.

The cover art by Aaron Anderson is great and I love the visual of Sam how it follows the same style as the first book.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 212 pages

Published: April 17, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-453-1

Edition Language: English

Series: Requiem Inc. #2, Dreamspun Beyond

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Full Plate by Kim Fielding

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Bradford Tolliver, Tully to friends, has everything and nothing—he’s wealthy, a highly sought attorney, has a beautiful condo but has no friends, no family to speak of, and is clueless as to how empty his life is.  That is, until Sage Filling enters his life.  Yes, Sage’s father had a sense of humor when he named him and when he named his dog Tooth (Filling).  I love Kim Fielding!

Sage knew from an early age that he’d be a chef someday.  Growing up, he worked for his family’s business, a restaurant named The Filling Station, and his greatest wish for birthday and Christmas gifts was always food-related: a subscription to Gourmet Magazine, a new kitchen utensil, etc.  But as the story opens, he’s moved to Portland to earn extra money to support his family and needs a place to stay.  His cousin Carrie, one of Tully’s coworkers, asks Tully to allow Sage to be Tully’s roommate for the one year he’ll be in town. 

Not wanting to refuse, and willing to give it a try, Tully agrees.  Little does he know his life has taken a turn for the better.  It takes a while – I love a slow burn! – but eventually Tully and Sage find their way into each other’s arms…and beds.  But they know their time is limited.  Tully can’t work from Sage’s little hometown and Sage can’t stay in Portland because of family issues. 

I love the way Kim Fielding crafted these characters.  We have time to get to know them individually before we get to the coupledom.  And when we do, we don’t just have sex, sex, sex.  We have sex, yes indeed, but we also have romance and the caring, concern, and support one would hope to see between two people who love each other.  Sage finds it hard to believe that this gorgeous, smart, wealthy man can possibly love him beyond the time they spend together.  And Tully finds it hard to believe that Sage sees himself as anything other than the perfect man he is through Tully’s eyes. 

I just loved it and I hope others will too.  These Dreamspun Desires stories are just the ticket to brighten a day and warm a cold heart.  I highly recommend this to all who enjoy contemporary MM romance. 

~~~

Cover art by Bree Archer features a good-looking, well-dressed man—no doubt Attorney Bradford Tolliver—set against the Portland city skyline.  The cover is no more or less attractive than others in the series but is done in a similar theme so readers will certainly know this is one of the Dreamspun Desires books.   

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Expected publication: April 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640801028
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

Kris T. Bethke on Lost Souls Found (Requiem Inc. #2) (author guest blog)

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Lost Souls Found (Requiem Inc. #2) by Kris T. Bethke
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kris T. Bethke here today, talking about her latest release Lost Souls Found. Welcome, Kris.

♦︎

Hey there! I’m Kris T. Bethke, and I’ve stopped in today to bring you an exclusive excerpt of my new book, which releases tomorrow. Lost Souls Found is the second book in my Requiem Inc series. Thanks for taking a second to check it out!

Blurb:

Dying is all in a day’s work. Love is more dangerous.

Ghostwalker Sam Jones has been half in love with Michael King since he started working at Requiem Inc. But Michael is his boss and a Guardian, to boot. Sam thinks they could make it work anyway, but Michael uses his position and his age to keep Sam at arm’s length.

When Sam continues to volunteer for the most dangerous cases, Michael has to intervene. He tells himself he’s just doing his job, but he’s always seen Sam as more than another operative, and he can’t bear the thought of not taking his chance. The connection between them has been strong from the beginning, and Michael’s telepathy adds unexpected depth and an edge to their new romance, but working together while they try to build their relationship might be the hardest part of their job if they don’t make some sacrifices.

Excerpt:

Michael’s dark eyes flared as he sucked in a sharp breath through his nose. “It’s not. I am your boss. And getting involved is just wrong. Because of that.”

“Okay.”

“Dammit, Sam. Don’t you think if there weren’t this huge thing between us, I would have already made you mine? But I can’t. The abuse of power is just unacceptable.”

Sam didn’t say anything as he watched the anguish take over Michael’s face. It was the most emotion he’d ever seen from him, and he hated that Michael was so upset. But it was all on Michael. He’d put them in this situation.

“But I don’t know that.” Sam was careful to keep his voice low and nonconfrontational. “You’ve always said no. You’ve always kept the job between us. I was the one who put myself out there, even when maybe I shouldn’t have. And you said no.”

Michael’s eyes blazed. “I kissed you, if you recall.”

“I do. But I pushed you to it.” Sam sighed and crossed his hands over his stomach. “It’s always me, Michael. I have no doubt you feel… things. But for someone who’s so open to loving whoever catches his eye, you sure keep yourself closed off from me. So. Say what you want. Think what you want. I know there’s more going on here.”

Michael squinted. “How can you be sure?”

Sam cocked his head to the side and tried to find the words for the revelations he’d recently had. He’d had a lot of time to think since he left Michael’s office.

“Because, if it were just the job, you would have shut it down a long time ago. I mean, sure you’ve said we can’t. You’ve told me to stop flirting, but you didn’t mean it.” Sam sighed. “That didn’t come out like I meant. I just mean, if you really wanted me to stop, you would have reprimanded me formally. You wouldn’t have given me small indications for years that you feel things too. You wouldn’t have let me hope.”

The last came out like an accusation, but Sam didn’t care. He was tired—tired of hoping and hurting, pining and needing. Things could have been so good between them, but he was done. Michael’s shoulders slumped, and though Sam hated to see him defeated, he couldn’t just let it go.

“I’m leaving. Okay? I’ll make a new home somewhere else. And this thing between us will fade in time. For both of us.” He took a breath. “So how about you tell me the truth now.”

Michael’s head shot up. “I’ve never lied to you.”

“Maybe not outright. But you haven’t told me the whole truth either. Can you do that now? Since I’m leaving anyway. Don’t I deserve that?”

Silence. The only sound was the little bell on Cameron’s collar as he skirted the edge of the living room and shot up the stairs. Sam was sure he could feel the tension in the room, and Cameron never liked dealing with tension. Sam didn’t either, for that matter. But he couldn’t take off like a cat.

“I can’t be what you need.”

Author Bio:

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long.  An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head.  She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project.  Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time.  A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures.  She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head.  She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.

Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-T-Bethke/100014524539852 or on Twitter https://twitter.com/kristbethke

Feeling Springy! What’s Old is New Again.This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Feeling Springy! What’s Old is New Again.

So many things that I love about Spring! Yes, new things abound from young sprouts to tadpoles but also the fact that what has seemed old and seemingly dead, perhaps even barren, teems with life once more. Old oaks and maples majestically green out with canopies wide  where before you may have seen only bare limbs and trunks scarred and bent by age.  Gardens left covered with weeds still send forth bounty of flowers and produce no matter what sort of neglect they have suffered, and those secret patches of wildflowers sought out year after year, the lady slippers and the showy orchis, still emerge, no matter what changes their habitat have undergone, thankfully.

Other things can be like that and sure enough one of my favorite movies came up.  Somewhere in Time.  It’s not only a beloved movie that has been used recently in a M/M romance story (Somewhere on Mackinac by Jeff Adams)   but uses a familiar trope (time travel to see  or save a loved one).  Of course, right on the heels of that one, I watched a new Netflix anime Kuromukuro (outstanding) that had another man out of time element.  He was seeking revenge for a woman.  No spoilers.  But more movies and books of this vein started to pour through my mind, all the twists and turns that various authors and writers had given this theme.  Taken something old and made it new again.  And again.  And again.

We love our familiar tropes for just that reason.  Our monsters turned heros who find love, second chance at HEA, meet cutes, our lovers reunited, our ghostly romances, our time traveling lovers, even our aliens from space, all of these come up again and again.  Writers reach back and try to make the old new, fresh with their own perspective and storylines.

So in keeping with our Spring topic.  What  tropes do you see the most of?  Which do you think are overused or just plain used? And which get the best new spin?  I’m just plain curious to see what you all have to say on this topic.  Name stories or movies if you wish or just comment.  It’s our What’s Old is New Again Giveaway!.  And it will carry us into the end of the month for a gift cert for $10.  Leave your name and a comment and a email where you can be reached if chosen.

✒︎

♦︎Announcement:  The winner of our What’s New In LGBT Romance Fiction Giveaway is Steve Wroten.  Steve, please contact Stella at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com and she will hook you up with your gift certificate. Congratulations!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, April 14:

  • Feeling Springy! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  •  BLITZ Deadly Dorian by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott

Monday, April 15:

  •  Dreamspun Promo Kris T. Bethke on Lost Souls Found (Requiem Inc. #2)
  • Harmony Promo Sean Kennedy on The Obstruction of Emma Goldsworthy (Get Out #3)
  • Release Blitz – Addison Albright – The Contingency Plan
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Full Plate by Kim Fielding
  • A Caryn Review:Asylum (Pride and Joy #2) by Robert Winter
  • A MelanieM Review: Big Man by Matthew J. Metzger
  • An Alisa Review :Precious Moments by Casper Graham

Tuesday, April 16:

  • COVER REVEAL – Under Five by Michael War
  • AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – Shatterproof Bond Series by Isobel Starling
  • BOOK BLITZ for NATURAL ENEMIES by Roan Parrish
  • TOUR Whirlwind by J.V. Speyer
  • A Lucy Review: Big Man by Matthew J. Metzger
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Lost Souls Found (Requiem Inc. #2) by Kris T. Bethke
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Crocus (Bonfires #2) by Amy Lane
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Obstruction of Emma Goldsworthy (Get Out #3) by Sean Kennedy

Wednesday, April 17:

  • BLOG TOUR SQUARED AWAY by Annabeth Albert
  • Book Blitz – Five Dares – Eli Easton
  • REVIEW TOUR Ari McKay – Like The Night
  • Theoden: A New Haven Series Prequel by Nicholas Bella Blog Tour
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Late in the Day (The Vault #2) by Mary Calmes and Greg Boudreaux (Narrator)
  • A Lucy Review: Coming Out In The Art by J. Sanders
  • A MelanieM Review: Like the Night (Blood Bathory #1) by Ari McKay
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Getting His Man (Getting His Man #1) by B.G. Thomas and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)

Thursday, April 18:

  • DSP Publications Promo Aidan Wayne
  • RELEASE BLITZ Life Is A Stevie Wonder Song – V.L. Locey
  • BLOG TOUR Redeeming the Stepbrother by Andrew Grey
  • A Jeri Review: Campus Life by TC Orton
  • A MelanieM Review:Inked in Vegas (Heathens Ink #5.5) by K.M. Neuhold
  • A Lila Review: Let Me In by Luna David
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady  Review: Soul to Keep (Rented Heart universe) by Garrett Leigh

Friday, April 19:

  • BLOG TOUR Heartbeats by Jenna Kendrick
  • Book Blast – Omega Required by Dessa Lux
  • DSP Promo Amy Lane
  • BLOG TOUR Redeeming the Stepbrother by Andrew Grey
  • A MelanieM Review :
  • A Caryn Review: Surprise Delivery (Hearts & Health #5) by DJ Jamison
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: A Daring Ride (The Bullriders#2) by Andrew Grey and Narrator: John Solo

Saturday, April 20:

  • Release Blitz Jay Northcote – Second Chance
  • Release Blitz – Love For All Seasons – Various Authors
  • A MelanieM Review: One Last Heist by Dahlia Donovan