Rowan McAllister on Choosing Cover Art Work and her new release The Priest (Chronicles of the Riftlands #2)

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The Priest (Chronicles of the Riftlands #2) by Rowan McAllister

Dreamspinner Press
Published September 10th 2019
Cover Art: Paul Richmond

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Rowan McAllister here today talking about writing, artwork, and her latest story in the Chronicles of the Riftlands series, The Priest. Welcome, Rowan.

✒︎

 

 

Hi there!  Thanks for joining me on stop three of my blog tour! And a big thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting.

On this stop, I answer some interview questions that made me smile. I hope they make you smile too.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?

Funny you should ask, LOL. The answer is, uh, mostly not. As it says in my bio, I’m a bit of a drinkie as well as a foodie. My hubby and I like to experiment with cocktails all the time, so there have been occasions when I’ve done a bit of drunk-writing, but not often. I’ve threatened it more often than I’ve done it. This is because I usually end up fixing most of it so it’s coherent when I’m sober again. But, I will say, a little alcohol can be a useful tool to get me past some of my hang-ups and out of my shell when necessary. I am by nature a reserved person, the product of a family of quiet, contemplative Michiganders- my husband coincidentally is the same way, also the product of Michiganders. A little booze goes a long way to loosening up some of that reserve, since ‘the feels’ is kind of why we’re here. No one wants to read about two people unable to share their feelings for an entire book, or sharing them in the most reserved, polite, and unimposing terms. Jane Austen aside, I think most modern audiences prefer a bit more meat with their potatoes, a bit more passion than a “I really am quite fond of you,” murmured from a respectful distance. When I need to write the passion, a little bourbon and ginger, gin and tonic, or vodka cocktail greases the wheels. But not too much, otherwise what seemed like a masterpiece through bourbon goggles the night before can look like a second-grade book report the next day. And I don’t think day-drinking is a habit I should probably get into. There are other hobbies that are a little easier on my waistline and my liver, because getting old sucks.

How do you choose your covers?

This particular question is timely since I almost had a cover redo for book one in this series so that we could go a different direction with book two’s cover. The scuttlebutt around the internets and the writing world is that drawn covers are out of fashion. Well, honestly, the hard, cold numbers support it too. On average, books with drawn covers don’t sell as well. As much as I love them, it’s hard to argue with numbers.

Now, I choose my covers to visually represent the feel of my books. I’m a visual artist of sorts on the side, mostly with fiber, so I definitely have opinions on the ‘look’ I want. I see it as an extension of the book itself. Like for my last historical, “We Met in Dreams”, the story was my deep dive into the over-the-top melodrama of the Victorian Gothic, so obviously, I had to have a gothic novel cover- i.e. our hero running away from a spooky house or castle. I don’t make the rules, people. That’s just how it had to be. Now, I didn’t include the white dress because it didn’t seem appropriate to my hero… but I wanted to.

For book one of the Chronicles of the Riftlands, The Wanderer, I chose a drawn cover because it fit the feel of the book so much better than the more intense, photo-realistic covers that are more popular now. The series is my homage to the fantasy novels of my youth and I still have a deep, abiding love for their quirky and unique drawn covers. I likened it to the animated version of the Hobbit from the 70’s vs the darker, live-action remakes of the 2000’s forward. Each has its appeal but the look of the 70’s version fit the feel of my work better.

But then, there the publisher and I were with the second book… and we all have to make a living. I tried with the newer, flashier concepts- with brooding men in black armor and demons with red eyes photoshopped in front of a desolated, fiery landscape. I really did. But they’re just not my style. Lucky for me, Paul Richmond took pity on me and drew the cover for book two, so I didn’t have to compromise this time. Isn’t it pretty? I may have to bow the pressures of the market someday, you know, to actually sell some books… but today is not that day!

What’s next for you as a writer?

The timing worked out that I’m actually just beginning to write book three of this series right when book two is being released. It helps put me in the mindset to talk about my new release since the juices are flowing in a fantasy direction. Between each chronicle in the series, I’m writing something else to keep my eyes fresh. About a month ago, I submitted a new contemporary for consideration that was a bit more of a struggle than I had originally anticipated and therefore took me much longer to finish than I’d planned. But sometimes the muse will not be tamed, and perhaps it will turn out to be a good thing promoting book two at the same time I’m writing book three after all.

 

The Priest..Chronicles of the Riftlands: Book Two

Brother Tasnerek, one of the infamous Thirty-Six stone bearers, is facing a dangerous crisis of faith after uncovering a secret that could shake the foundations of the Brotherhood of Harot. When Tas is sent to protect a tiny village on the edge of Rassa’s borders from Riftspawn, he struggles to resume his duties, risking his life and the lives of those around him.

Girik has always been an outsider, but to help his sick mother, he agrees to be the village’s offering in a painful ritual deemed necessary by the Brotherhood. But when the priest has a crisis of conscience, Girik offers his help to untangle a web of lies—even if it means getting closer than he ever imagined and committing sacrilege in the process.

With a monster lurking in the forest, a wandering mage mysteriously appearing, and more secrets awakening to unravel the truths of their world, Tas and Girik must make grave decisions. A life without danger seems a far-off hope, but love just might be theirs… if they survive.

About the Author

Rowan McAllister is an unapologetically romantic jack of all trades and a sucker for good food, good cocktails, rich fibers, a great beat, and anything else that indulges the senses. In addition to a continuing love affair with words, she likes to play with textiles, metal, wood, stone, and whatever other interesting scraps of life she can get her hands on. She lives in the woods, on the very edge of suburbia—where civilization drops off and nature takes over—sharing her home with her patient, loving, and grounded husband, three furry rescues, and a whole lot of books, booze, and fabric. Her chosen family is a madcap collection of people as diverse as her interests, all of whom act as her muses in so many ways, and she would be lost without them. Whether her stories have a historical, fantasy, or contemporary setting, they always feature characters who still believe in true love, happy endings, and the oft-underappreciated value of sarcasm.

rowanmcallister10@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/rowanmcallister

https://www.facebook.com/rowanmcallister10

Parker Williams on Writing and his new release ‘Stained Hearts (Links In the Chain #3)’

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Stained Hearts (Links In the Chain #3) by Parker Williams

Dreamspinner Press
Published September 10th 2019
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Parker Williams today on tour for his new story Stained Hearts.  Welcome, Parker.

 

 

 

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

I wrote several stories when I was younger, including one called ‘Free at Last’. It was the story of Grant Danek and Russell Studler, two teens who were embroiled in coming out and falling in love. Oh, and murder. When I was a teen, I loved the story, because of a character named ‘Aunt Helen’, who was Grant’s mother’s sister. When Grant’s parents died, she stepped in and became his guardian, and one of his best friends. She knew he was falling for Rusty, and she was totally cool with it. What she wasn’t cool with was someone killing a man on their doorstep.

I found it again not too long ago, and thought ‘oh, hell no’. I’ve learned a lot from many different people, and the story would need a complete rewrite if I ever wanted to do anything with it.

Though I do still love Grant and Rusty.

 

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Yes! Several years ago, I was in a wicked car accident (cherry picker through my windshield). A year after that, Paul and I were rear-ended at a stoplight. Because of that, I wasn’t able to continue doing my job as a waiter (couldn’t carry heavy trays because of the strain on my back). Due to that, the hotel I worked at gave me a job as a cashier. I hated hated hated it. And what made it worse was Valerie Ricks, one of the servers. She was awful. Hateful, mean, spiteful. She made every day at work a chore, and I grew angrier with everyone because they wouldn’t do anything about her.

So I did.

I started thinking of ways she could ‘accidentally’ meet her end, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought of someone who could do those kinds of things. From my dislike of Valerie came Haven’s Creed and Haven’s War.

So, even though I still can’t stand her, I guess I kind of owe her a debt of thanks.

  

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

 

Drunk? No. I don’t drink. On the other hand, the doctor had me on some pills that made me a drooling mess (think Homer Simpson). I did some writing, and in the morning when I woke up, I had absolutely no clue what the hell I had written. They weren’t even words, just strings of gibberish.

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

Last year KC Wells was in Milwaukee and she stayed at an Air B & B. The place was gorgeous, and I loved sitting at the dining table with her and working on one of the Secrets books. To me, that place would have been perfect as a writer’s getaway.

 

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

 

I write as an escape from the world around me. There is so much awful news that I like to sink into a story and let it take me away.

What’s next for you as a writer?

Oh, so much!

So Stained Hearts is this month, Secrets #4 (On the Same Page) with K.C. Wells is in December, and then next year I have a contemporary called ‘Family Matters’ in early 2020, and then a paranormal MPREG called ‘The Night Wolf’ later.

After that, KC and I are going to be working on Secrets #5 with a character we introduce in book four and a brand new one that is first seen in book 5.

I’m also working on book two of the Night Wolf saga. Funny thing about it. The series was supposed to be lighthearted fun, where a runaway wolf found refuge in a pack and fell for the Alpha. But… Yeah, always a but.

During a scene, the one guy said, ‘You know, it would be awesome if I ended up pregnant.’ And I said, ‘Seriously?”

Apparently he was very serious, because the next thing I knew, he was with child. Oh, and that lighthearted romp? Yeah, no. All of a sudden there’s a crazy Alpha who wants Sean (he’s the one who ran from the Alpha) back, and he’s willing to kill to get his way.

So, yeah. There’s that.

 

Blurb:

Can two hearts stained by past pain find healing together?

Tom Kotke held his husband of twenty-five years on the day he died and spent nearly a year adrift. Determined to force Tom back into the world, his family takes him to the Park View Diner, where he meets young stained-glass artist Aiden Dawson. For a brief moment, Tom doesn’t think about his deceased husband—a terrifying prospect.

Slowly, Aiden draws Tom out of his shell and helps him feel alive once more. But Tom isn’t the only one who’s suffered. Aiden fears no one sees beyond his wheelchair. Even if Tom can convince him he’s different, they’ll still have to overcome their age difference and a secret that could destroy their future together.

Word Count: 67,000

Book Categories: Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance, Hurt and Comfort, Loss and Redemption


Excerpt:

There is a moment, just as twilight gives way to total darkness, when everything over the lake is still. It’s like the world is holding its breath, waiting to see what’s going to happen. It’s during this one, singular moment when I feel… free from the memories. Of course, like they always do, they surge back when I realize I can’t cling to that magical second any longer.
In October, Brian and I bought a cabin near Crivitz, Wisconsin. A quiet, peaceful tract of land where we could lie together and love each other as much as we could. I had a company come in to fix it up, so after we shared Thanksgiving dinner with our family, we could pack up our things from our home in Milwaukee and move into the cabin. The place was beautiful, but I don’t know how much of it Brian really saw. Each passing day he got weaker and weaker, and each day I wished I could freeze time.
When January came around, we went home to Milwaukee for a little while. Brian told me he wanted to go back and say goodbye to our friends and family. The trip was awful, what with my mother and father spending hours locked away with Brian, and him wanting some alone time with my brother, Robert, and his lover, Galen. After finally meeting with Lincoln and Noel, Brian also asked to go to Lincoln’s diner alone so he could sit and talk with Noel. It hurt me to have him away from me, but I understood his need to be by himself for a time. It still sucked.
I remember the night clearly. There was a haze over the lake, and the clouds obscured the moon. Around us, the night air filled with sounds, like the animals were doing whatever it took to make Brian happy. We sat there, holding hands in our little bit of paradise, where nothing bad could happen. Only… it could. Brian wanted to stay here because he didn’t intend his last days to be spent being fussed over by our friends and the family we’d created. The thought that they pitied him made his heart hurt, because Brian was the healer. He needed to make everyone else feel good. And now it was he who needed the healing, but we both knew it wasn’t going to come. The doctors had given him less than a year. He swore to me that he would prove them wrong, and he did. Being the fighter he was, Brian stretched it out to five. But every hourglass runs out eventually.
One night, just as twilight was giving way to total darkness, he reached for my hand.
“I love you.”
My throat seized. I knew what he was doing, but I wasn’t ready. Not yet. “I know.”
“You have to let me go.”
I jumped out of the chair and spun to face him. “How the hell do you expect me to do that? Since that first day in college, I have been in love with you.”
It was true. When this young Asian man knocked on the door to the dorm room, my tongue stopped working. He was so goddamn beautiful, it hurt to see him and not be able to touch his flawless skin. But that was 1993, and things were still kind of closeted. Hitting on your roommate was probably the stupidest thing you could do, despite what the porn videos said.
“I’m Brian Chen.”
His voice sent ripples of pleasure through me. I was hit hard by lust and longing, and the only thing I could think of was that it would be a very long four years.
“Hi. I’m Tom Kotke.”
He held out his hand, and after I took it, I was reluctant to let go. He smiled at me, showing off pearly-white teeth, with one just a little crooked. I wanted to kiss that mouth and let my tongue explore that tooth. I’d never had sex before, but right then I wanted to drop to my knees and show this man the pleasure one guy could give another. Or, at least what I’d seen in porn.
He chuckled. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Tom Kotke. Might I have my hand back?”
It was then I realized I still held his hand in mine. I let go of it, instantly regretting having done so. “I’m sorry.” I worried that now he’d think I was some kind of freak. “I’m not a weirdo.”
And saying that out loud seemed to prove the opposite.
He gave the barest of smiles. “No, I never thought that.”
And that was our first meeting. Over the next two months of livingtogether, Brian spent every night at home, in front of his laptop. Secretly I was grateful for that fact, because seeing him with another person would have hurt. It wasn’t too much longer before I had to admit to him that I was gay, because having him be uncomfortable around me was definitely not what I wanted.
“I figured that out when you held my hand that first day. If I’m honest, I wish I hadn’t said anything and you had continued.”
My heart beat a little faster. “You mean…?”
His grin slid into place, and my heart went pitter-pat. “Yes, Tom, I’m gay as well.”
And that sealed the deal for me. I was in love with him.
Before those memories could swamp me, a wheezed breath dragged me back to the here and now.
“I watched you every night, pen in your mouth, as you worked on one paper or another. I dragged you up to bed on nights when you told me you needed five more minutes. I sat in the audience as you stood up there, diploma in hand, and told our class that they were responsible for the world they were entering. That they had to choose kindness over money. And the day I asked you to marry me….”
“And I said no.”
I couldn’t swallow past the lump in my throat. “You said no.”
He quirked his artfully plucked eyebrow. “And why did I say no?” “Because you didn’t want me to have to choose between you and a career. You thought you were doing good by me.”
“And I was wrong. The day you slid that ring on my finger, I finally understood what it meant to be whole.”
“Right, and now you think I’m supposed to just let you go and move on? I won’t be whole anymore, so how the hell do you think I can pick up and forget you existed?”
“Sit down.”
“No.”
He gave me a weak smile. “Tommy, sit down.”
When he called me Tommy, my knees wobbled. It was a nickname
that only he could use. I wouldn’t accept it from anyone else, not even my family. From him? My heart always thumped a little harder at hearing it in his soft voice, as his light brown eyes held me captive. I sat on the bench beside him, and he put a hand on my arm.
“I’m not saying you have to do it now, but you can’t keep living for me. I won’t be here in anything more than a memory. If you really want to honor that, then you need to live. You’ll have to do it for both of us. Take that trip and go parasailing like we always said we’d do. Trek across the desert on the back of those humped nightmares. Ride the scariest roller coaster in the world. Do that, and your heart will race harder than it’s ever done before.”
“No, it won’t.” I turned my hand over and wrapped our fingers together. “The day you said ‘I do’? Nothing will ever be more thrilling or terrifying than that.”
He coughed, his body shuddering. He reached up to cover his mouth. When he pulled his hand away, dots of blood coated his palm. The inevitable had finally happened, and I was about to lose my heart.
“It’s been twenty-five years, baby. The best anyone has ever had, but—”
“Shut up.” I leaned over and put my head on his shoulder. “Please. Just stop talking. Let’s sit here and enjoy the quiet.”
He laid his head against mine. “Okay.”
The moment was perfect. A reminder of why I loved him so very much. We sat there for an hour, and when the coughing started again, worse this time, I reached for my phone. He shook his head.
“Don’t. You’ve got to let me go. It’s time. I don’t have it in me to fight anymore.”
My heart broke, knowing what was coming. “But I can’t…. I don’t want to.”
“I know, but no one can stop time, and mine has come. You need to accept that.”
My eyes filled with tears, and I scrubbed a hand over them. “Do me a favor?”
“Anything, you know that.”
“Hold me, so I won’t be so afraid.”
God, my heart tore in two. “Okay.” I wrapped my arms around him, the body that had always been delicate but was now thin and fragile. He put his head on my chest, and his wheezing grew harsher.
“I’m always going to love you, Tommy. And if there’s an afterlife, I’ll be waiting for you in the park under the big oak tree. Will you look for me?” That was where we had our first date. Him sitting there, his face tilted up at the sun, looking so fucking gorgeous. “I swear, I won’t look for anything else.”
“Okay.” He coughed, harder than before. “I’m going to miss waking up and seeing your smile every morning.”
I squeezed him tighter. I no longer had words. In my mind, I was wishing I could die along with him, because being alone? I couldn’t see how that was possible. The man I clutched to me was my life.
“You’re going to be okay. You know that.”
I started to disagree but stopped myself. He needed it to be true. He didn’t want to die with the regret of leaving me alone. “I’ll be okay.” “Stop lying to me. You’ll cry, grieve, and try to hide away from people. When we went home, I told our family not to let you do it. They’re going to hound you. They’ll force you to go out and meet new people.” He reached up and put his hand on my chest. “And one day, I hope you’ll find love again, because there’s too much in your heart not to share it with—”
Harsh coughs wracked his slight frame, and I knew the time had come. “Rest. I’m going to be right here for you.”
“You always were. And when the time comes that you need comfort, you know where to look, right?”
“Sure.” I really had no idea, but I just needed him to be at peace. I’m not sure when Brian passed away, but the night had gone dark.
As if sensing my mourning, everything around us was still. Taking out my phone, I called the hospital and told them that he had died. They sent an ambulance, and the EMTs found me still cradling the body of my husband. A numbness sapped any strength I had, and I was grateful to the men who took me to the hospital, because I wouldn’t have been able to get there on my own.
The next few weeks were a whirlwind of calls and letters, the funeral— Brian had asked to be cremated and wanted his ashes laid to rest in his favorite place in the whole world, Yellowstone National Park. He loved the beauty and tranquility of the place. Of course, I would follow his instructions to the letter, but I wasn’t prepared for what I found when I opened his urn. Brian was always so full of life. He personified grace and beauty in all things. And now? My husband was nothing but a white powder, like something I cleaned out of our fireplace. Upon seeing what was left of my Brian, I broke down in tears. Still, I sucked it up and did what he asked, burying his ashes beneath a tree that he’d carved our initials on decades ago.
Going home—to the house we had bought together a lifetime ago—was bittersweet. I could sense his presence everywhere, and more than once the memories of the life we shared overwhelmed me. Stupid things, like sitting down to watch a favorite TV show, became hollow and empty without him next to me. Going to bed, knowing his side would stay forever cool, had me moving out onto the couch. Not comfortable by any means, but still a damn sight better than rolling over to wrap my arm around him and finding him gone. Again.
One night, a few months in, a storm blew through Milwaukee. The power flickered several times, until it went out completely. I lit a candle in the living room and sat there, watching the lightning flash outside. A sense of melancholy washed over me, and I found myself on the verge of tears once more. I got up and went to the bookcase, where Brian and I had spent a lifetime gathering books from favored authors. I reached up and pulled out my personal favorite, Charlotte’s Web. Taking a seat on the couch once more, I opened the cover, and a piece of paper fluttered out and landed on my lap. I put the book aside, reached down, grabbed the paper, and unfolded it.
Tommy….
So since you’re reading this, I’ve got to assume that the cancer has finally won. We both knew it would, but I’m not ready to leave you to your own devices just yet.
Hot tears streaked my cheeks. It was as if a scab had been torn from a raw, painful wound that had never really healed. I needed his words more than I ever thought I could need something.
I’ve got so many things I’m sorry for. That we didn’t get to celebrate our silver anniversary comes to mind. I’d fully intended on surprising you with a trip to Mexico so we could go parasailing, but I’m guessing that never happened. Too bad. I was looking forward to soaring over the ocean with you.
I choked back a laugh. “Liar.”
Well, I hope that got a laugh out of you, because we both know I would have happily stood on the ground and waved at you, but no way in hell would you have gotten me up there. If God had meant for man to fly, he would have given us wings. 
I was never a believer in religion. Having seen too many times the way it was used to put pressure on people, I could never get behind the idea. Oh, I was spiritual, but that was only to the extent of empowering people. Still, if heaven did exist, Brian was up there, looking down on me, cursing the wings that he’d been given.
I don’t know how much time has passed, but knowing you as well as I do, I’m going to guess maybe a few months at best. I figured you’d go for Charlotte at some point, so that’s why I left this letter here for you to find. I just want you to know, no matter what happened or what will happen from this moment forward, my heart always belonged to you.
Maybe by now you’ve met someone—though I doubt it—and you’re happy. If that’s the case, then know you’ve done what I wanted. Don’t mourn me forever, Tommy. It’s not in your nature to be alone. I want—no, I need—you to go out and find someone special. If you won’t do it for you, do it for me.
He was crazy. He had to be. No one could replace him in my life. The thought of it was beyond insane. I glanced up at the picture on the wall of the two of us holding out a slice of wedding cake for the other to take a bite from. I frowned, trying to understand what in his mind made him think I could move on. A deep, shuddering sigh rolled out of me as I went back to his letter.
I can hear you arguing, you know. I’ve already said you’re not meant to be alone. You need someone to hold you at night so you can sleep. To wake up with you in the morning so the day is heralded with love. Please, Tommy, you need this. Maybe not now, but one day. Don’t shut yourself off, because it hurts me to think that so much love would be lost to the world.
Now, get back to reading. I’m sure Charlotte is waiting to whisk you away to a new world.
And remember, you’ve always been the only one to have my love. Brian.
I set the book on the table beside the couch and put my head in my hands. My heart ached, a battle of both sadness and joy warring for dominance. He was right—no one in the world knew me like he did. Almost a quarter of a century together had that effect on people. He could tell with nothing more than a glance when I needed him to hug me or when he needed to back off. He could make me laugh with a quirk of his brow or bring me to tears when he sang my favorite song, softly crooning in my ear, reminding me of our wedding, when he got up, grabbed the microphone, and belted out Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” in a rich, sonorous tenor.
When he finished, no one in the hall had a dry eye. He handed the mic over to someone and strode to me, our gazes locked. “How did I get so lucky?” His voice was thick with emotion. “If you were smart, you’d run off and have the life you’ve always dreamed of.”
I grabbed him by the back of his head, gripping his hair. “Funny thing about dreams is that as we grow up, we’re given new ones that let us know the others were just musings of a child’s mind. When I met you, everything I thought I needed went out the window, and you were the only thing left.”
He opened his mouth to say something, but I kissed him hard. I could feel the warmth of his tears as they mingled with mine. I knew that I would spend the rest of my life reminding him he was loved, and the thought had filled me with hope for my—our—future.
I stretched out on the couch and closed my eyes. I knew I’d dream of Brian, just like I had every night since he died. They always ended the same way, though: me curled up on the couch, clutching the small, sunflower-patterned pillow that Brian had made, with a hole in my heart that I knew would never heal.
All this talk about moving on? How in the hell was I supposed to do that without him? Hell, I hadn’t even realized what life could be like until I saw him, held him in my arms, had him under me. We were each other’s first and last, and that was perfectly fine with me.

 

Website: Parker Williams
Facebook: Parker Williams
Twitter: @ParkerWAuthor

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Dead Man Stalking (Blood and Bone #1) by T.A. Moore

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

This story features Agent Luke Bennett, aka Took, a member of the BITERs unit of the Anakim (vampire) police known as VINE. The reader is thrown into the action two years after Luke was Taken and turned. He’s been in therapy and is acting as a P.I. His case throws him in the path of his old commander Madoc, who wants him back at work, and is in love with him. It seems obvious to say Took has PTSD; he can’t remember the night he was taken and his fear seems to be getting worse instead of better, until he becomes consumed by this case and takes back his agency, literally and figuratively. As a former Cardinal for the Anakim, Madoc has always been a type of enforcer. He has a strength that Took finds and matches during the book. It switches between Took’s and Madoc’s POV. These are complex, three dimensional charcters. They have their blindspots, insecurities, and make mistakes; yet, both of these men can be cold, arrogant and prickly. For as much as these characters are not pleasant people, I loved them so much. Yes, the romance relies on the longer, off-page relationship in order to work, but the love scenes are hot (and bloody) and I love their working dynamic and banter.

I liked this new take on vampires, werewolves, and hunters. There was something called a Goat, but there wasn’t much detail about this species. I believe there may be other shifters, but that’s not explored in this book. While the political landscape is painted enough for this story to be successful, I wanted more, even if I think this book wasn’t quite the right time without info dumps that I wouldn’t want. There is also a weird shadow realm that is intriguing and terrifying, but not explained at all. The sorcerers are also not explained very much, but they are not capitalized like everyone else so I guess they are not considered born as their own species. There are times where the chapter or scene starts abruptly and I felt like I missed something until I kept reading and everything was explained: while this is a valid stylistic choice, I found it jarring. Although the secondary characters are all effectively utilized and would be great to build upon in other stories, I would have liked them a bit more concrete. (I did appreciate there wasn’t a formulaic meet these characters that will be the couple in the next book type of setup.) These may be minor things, but they did keep me from giving this a 5 star rating. It was a near thing because I loved everything else about this, so let’s talk about that. This is a book I will reread and be will on my best of the year list.

For those not familiar with this author, she always describes the scenes in stark details–gross, grimy, gory–but effective. This is brutal, as with any police case involving violence. I don’t want to give spoilers, but for trigger warnings and tags you might want to keep these in mind: child abuse, brainwashing, murder, child trafficking, kidnapping, and torture. I found this urban fantasy/police investigation mashup really effective; both the world and the case are interesting and well thought out. The action scenes are really well done. The world-building here is fantastically layered in throughout the book. There is information the reader gleans from the thoughts and instincts of the characters, suppressed memories, flashbacks, dialogue, and the actions and their consequences. All of the events and discoveries lead to logical conclusions, but not always the ones that I thought they would from the beginning, yet I never felt blindsided with too many plot twists. I liked the intricacies of the story that require thought. Now that this world is built, I want so many new cases to be written, but I am also content if they are not. The last sentence of this book was perfect. Don’t cheat, you have to read the whole thing.

The cover art is by Kanaxa. I didn’t love it, although it is striking and conveys violence and blood, which are main themes of the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 260 pages
Expected publication: September 10th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644053379
Edition Language English
Series Blood and Bone #1

Andrew Grey on Story Inspiration and his new release ‘ Pulling Strings”

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Pulling Strings by Andrew Grey
Dreamspinner Press

Publication: December 10th 2019

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Sales Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey today touring with his latest story Pulling Strings.  Welcome, Andrew.

On Story Inspiration by Andrew Grey

Some stories first come to be as a particular character and others as an overall idea or concept.  This one came to me as a question.  What would happen if I came home from work and found something something in my briefcase that I didn’t put there?  From there my mind began to race and Pulling Strings came to life.   In thai particular story I used a lot of memories and things from my old day job and consequently there is quite a bit of myself in this story.  So get ready for some intrigue, a bit of mystery, heat and definitely passion, but also some love and emotion under pressure.  Which is sometimes the best kind. After all it’s pressure that turns carbon into a diamond.

Blurb/Synopsis:

A high-stakes case of industrial espionage ties them together, but before they can pursue their attraction, they must find out who’s pulling the strings.

Devon Donaldson doesn’t know how a folio of stolen corporate secrets found its way into his bag, and certainly can’t think of anyone who’d want to frame him. The trouble is, he has to convince Powers McPherson.

Devon’s firm hired Powers to investigate the theft of a new banking system, and so far Devon is his only lead. While Powers’s gut tells him Devon is innocent, he has no intention of letting Devon out of his sight… for more than one reason. Working together to get Devon’s life back leads to feelings far beyond cooperation. But before they can act on them, they need to find the group of thieves’ intent on ruining Devon’s reputation.

 

Excerpt :

“You’re a twin?” Devon asked, and held his head. “That’s so cool. I was a twin too, only my brother didn’t make it. I was apparently born first, and in the time before my brother could be born, something happened.” He looked stricken. “You know, I always felt like there was something missing from me. I know the twin thing can be pretty special, but I never knew Danny. That’s what my mom named him. We were living near here then but didn’t stay long after that.” He lifted his gaze. “No one in the family talked about him much, but I always wondered what it would have been like if he had lived.”

“I’ve always had Lucy. She’s a force of nature. When I started Powers Solutions, she was my first hire. The two of us did about everything for the first couple of years. I think if something happened to her, I’d miss her like I’d miss a hole in my head.” He smiled to show Devon he was joking.

Another knock, and Powers got it, checking the hallway before opening the door to Lucy again. She held up the bag of takeout. “Enough for three?”

“You are a pushy broad, you know that?” Powers turned to Devon, who nodded, and he let her enter. This wasn’t how he envisioned this evening going. “Where are the materials?”

“They’re locked away,” she answered. Her car, just like Powers’s, had a strongbox implanted where the spare tire would usually be. It ensured that they always had secure document storage wherever they went. “Once we eat, I’ll go right back to the office and get on lifting the prints, but I can’t work on an empty stomach.” She set the bag on the counter, and Devon got out plates and some bottles of water.

“Oh, General Tso’s chicken,” Lucy crowed as she took the container out of the bag.

“That’s Devon’s,” Powers told her. “You can share some of my beef and peppers, and there’s sweet-and-sour as well.” He always over ordered, and now he finally understood why. Lucy had a sixth sense about whenever anyone else was eating. She always seemed to show up.

“So what was he like growing up?” Devon asked, and smirked. “Was he always so broody?”

Lucy laughed as Powers scowled at her. “Oh God, yes. He had that look down pat by the time he was eight. Our teachers used to give assignments, and if he didn’t like them, he’d give that ‘you’re going to die a horrible death’ stare of his.” She grabbed a plate, and Devon handed her a fork. “Why?”

“It’s what he was doing at the gala Friday night.” Danged if Devon’s eyes didn’t twinkle with mischief. “Before he showed up here and nearly scared me to death, I thought of him as Tall, Dark, and Broody.”

About the Author

 

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

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

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

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

A MelanieM Prerelease Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

From the moment SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls meets Ivo Rogers, he knew the tattoo artist was going to bring chaos to his neat orderly life. A hellion down to the bone, Ivo is someone Ruan not only doesn’t understand but isn’t even sure he needs to. Everything about Ivo is vibrant, brash, cocky and arrogant and Ruan wants no part of him.

Or at least that’s the lie he tells himself when he damps down his desire for the social wild child life tosses into his path.

For Ivo Rogers, his life revolves around two things; his family and 415 Ink, the tattoo shop he co-owns with his four brothers. His family might be stitched together by their battle scars from growing up in foster care but their brotherhood was tight—and strong enough to hold Ivo together during the times when he fell apart.

Now Ivo faces a new challenge when he falls for a cop with an old-school mentality on what a man looks and acts like. Ruan is the promise of a life Ivo thought he’d never have but their thunderous clashes threaten any chance of a relationship. Being the family’s hellion makes it easy to be misunderstood yet Ivo has faith Ruan will not only embrace who he is but love him as well.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford.  I had been looking forward to Ivo’s story and his HEA because Ivo is such a magnetic character with his long legs, kilts, high heels, dyed hair and attitude.  Also the baby of the made family of five men that make up this series and own 415 Ink, that tattoo shop.   Rhys Ford always leaves hints about the next story at the end of the preceding novel, so it wets the appetite for what’s ahead for that story and clues us into some of the plot.

Still I found this a lovely break from the others in this series.  Hellion leans more towards the introspective and less towards some of the more action/suspense elements that  have occurred previously.  I really sunk into that aspect of this story.  It occurs from both, actually more than both, characters pov.  For SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls , it becomes an inward journey, taking a hard look at his upbringing and its effect on his identity as a gay man.  Also how his profession as a police officer may  have enforced certain aspects of his fear as well as his need to protect. There are so many layers to pull back from Ruan and there are other characters here that help with that reveal.

One of them is Cranston, his old landlord and a tough maritime sailor.  Also gay but of the era where you never spoke it or if or even acted on it, unless you courted death.  Cranston is an indelible personality , sitting in that rocker on the porch waiting for Ruan to walk by, talking about the past and, in his own way urging Ruan to escape the fate of the life that Cranston has made for himself.  This man has impact.  On Ruan and on the reader.  Which is all the more puzzling for what the author does with him  3/4’s of the way into the story.  After creating such an multidimensional man who has such a big part in Ruan’s life, she writes him off with a “he went to live with his sister in San Jose”.  I was bereft.    As was Ruan for a sentence or two.   I had envisioned this old man as an extension of the 415 Ink family because he was actually part of Ruan’s.  But no gone he was as Yoda would say.  In my opinion, it was a misstep this author rarely makes, so again I’m greatly puzzled by it, a great and impactful character tossed away.  And a hole left in the story that I felt greatly.

Ivo too looks inward and past.  To see if he’s ready to help Ruan move out of his box and strict zone of thinking into something that might bring them a future.  It’s a shaky step full of faith, strength, and the ability to trust someone outside the family.  And Ford makes us feel every bit of Ivo’s journey, past and present.

I thought everything about their relationship and dynamics works.  Sexy, strong, faltering at times when it hits upon the shores of Ruan’s box of fears and old mentality. But the chemistry and love the author writes into their relationship shines through.

Plus there’s Spot.  Love that cat.

And Maite Suppe, Ruan’s partner, a lively and layered character, as well as an appearance by Donal Morgan.  Win, and win.

As with all the books in this series, all the brothers and their SO (and kid) make appearances.  They are an integral part of each others lives and stories.  Ford also sets us up for Luke’s story which is next. It looks to be a heartbreaker.  I can’t wait.

If you are following the 415 Ink series, grab this up immediately.  Ivo’s story is a must read.  If you are new to this made family and series, then I recommend you read them in the order they were written to understand the family, the past histories, and the dynamics that are referred to within this story.  They are not what I call standalone novels.

Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  Rarely do I think that this artist misses on the cover but I do here.  I just don’t see either character in that model.  Neither the older Irish cop for Ruan or the tall  tattooed kilt wearing, high heeled Ivo with eyeliner and dyed hair.  Uh no.  That model could be anyone with ripped jeans and a nice bod. It doesn’t speak to the characters or story.  A total miss.  You’d think he’s at least have some tattoos right other than the one star? Ivo is covered in them.

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

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:In Safe Keeping (Heroes and Babies #2) by Victoria Sue

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Victoria Sue always delivers the action and romance laced with a good dose of danger and sometimes a child or two. In this case, we get a hunky, soft-hearted fireman, a sweet, gorgeous man running from a mob boss, and the baby he’s protecting on behalf of his murdered friend—who was murdered by the mob boss. 

There’s a lot going on in this story. There’s Lucas, a firefighter who lost his wife and child to a motel arson fire several years before when she was running away with another man. That man, his brother, is now wheelchair-bound, living in a remote cabin, and happens to be a doctor. He also really wasn’t his brother’s wife’s lover. Then there’s a young man, Owen, running from a mobster, with his 7-month-old baby. A word about the baby here—the child must have Mensa-level intelligence for all she does and says in this book. She’s either super developmentally advanced, which is unlikely as she was born drug addicted, or the author’s perception of 7-month-olds is off because the child calls the dog, named Bailey, B-bee throughout the story and is remarkably interactive with the adults. Needless to say, everything related to the child threw me off when she was on-page, and that was quite often.

Owen, the young man, is gorgeous, gay, but not the best decision-maker, as we learn in the book when he falls for the hunky fireman. And the ostensibly straight fireman, who has been grieving the loss of his child and the betrayal of his wife for years, falls for the young man. How can this be? Well, he apparently loved a male friend when they were young but they never had a chance… So, it’s a stretch. It’s really too bad the label gay-for-you is frowned upon because this new trope of suddenly realizing that a long-dead spark for a childhood friend is much more annoying to me than outright GFY. Just sayin’.

There’s lots of betrayal in this book. The mob boss is out to get Owen and won’t stop until he gets his hands on the baby who he refers to as his own. There’s betrayal by the US Marshall’s Office, other cops, friends, other mobsters, and more. And there’s family time as Lucas, the fireman, finds his way to his brother’s cabin and an eventual reconciliation when he learns the truth of his wife’s flight from him.

The more I write this review, the more I realize I suspended belief a number of times in the book, perhaps more so toward the end as everything came to a head. But I enjoy this author’s writing, her creativity, and the sense of impending disaster that carries through every page from beginning to end. I did guess the bad guy but it made perfect sense and it wasn’t over at that point. There were still two more nail-biters to come, so yes, this is a good story for those who like a lot of action with their romance. And the author makes sure those who need that bedroom scene get it before the close. Then, as the sun sets, they lived happily ever after.

The cover by Tiferet Design features a firefighter carrying a baby. Perfect for this story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 199 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644055250
Edition Language English
Series Heroes and Babies #2

Heroes and Babies Series

In Safe Hands

In Safe Keeping

Victoria Sue on Research, HEA, and her new release In Safe Keeping (Heroes and Babies #2) (guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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In Safe Keeping (Heroes and Babies #2) by Victoria Sue

Dreamspinner Press
Published September 3rd 2019
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Victoria Sue here today talking about her new novel In Safe Keeping.  She has brought along a great excerpt for our readers as well as a giveaway.  Please check those out along with the interview below.  Welcome, Victoria!

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Victoria Sue…

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Very much to both of these. I read some pretty harrowing accounts of wildfire rescues and its important to accurately name the gear used, and the circumstances surrounding it.

And yes, to the second part of the question because my two “jams” as they say are Romantic Suspense and Paranormal or Urban Fantasy. I often mix them both up in the same book.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Absolutely. My favorites include Mercedes Lackey’s Dragon Jousters series, and John Flanagan Ranger’s Apprentice series. Both fabulous series whether you’re a teen or…a lot older!

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

My preference is for HEA but while the main couple themselves are in a good forever place, there is often an over reaching story ARC or baddy that might take a few books to suitably vanquish. Having said that In Safe Keeping is a standalone.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m writing the next book in my enhanced series published by Dreamspinner press, but after In Safe Keeping my next release is on Oct 1st – The Twelfth Knight. Merlin and Lancelot fighting monsters in modern day new York and managing to fall in love at the same time.

 

Blurb:

Heroes and Babies 

He can’t save everyone…

Firefighter Lucas Attiker is mired in guilt by his inability to save his young son, who perished in a fire three years ago. When he rescues a troubled young man and his baby daughter from a Colorado forest fire, Lucas finally begins to forgive himself. But the wildfire is only the beginning of the dangers facing them.

Hell-bent on saving his daughter from his crime boss ex, Owen Michaels is on the run with the baby in tow—fleeing both the killers who are after him and the US Marshals Service deputies assigned to protect him. When his desperate flight lands them in the midst of an inferno, the man who saves them offers hope for more than just survival.

They might have escaped a blazing forest and a hail of bullets, but both men will need to risk their lives—and their hearts—to give a little girl a loving family… if they can make it out alive.

Excerpt:

Lucas looked apologetically at Owen, and Owen hugged Mia close. Small towns. Whatever had given him the impression they were quiet? “Are you taking me into protective custody?” Owen didn’t mind DuPree, but O’Connor always seemed to look down his nose at him.

“Yes,” O’Connor confirmed. “And we’re leaving right now because I don’t trust those men not to come back.”

Owen glanced at Lucas. He didn’t want to go, but of course he couldn’t put Lucas in any further danger. And he wasn’t sure Lucas would want the marshals to take him, no matter what danger he was in or how badly Owen might wish they would. They met each other’s gaze, and Owen knew instantly that, rather than being glad to see the back of him, Lucas didn’t like this one little bit.

But he couldn’t ask. He didn’t want to cause any more problems for Lucas. “Will you get into trouble for calling 911?” The engine had driven off. Owen surrendered Mia, who despite having been woken up, settled immediately when Lucas held out his arms for her. Lucas shook his head and gently brushed a kiss on her forehead.

“No, we needed help.”

Owen nodded. Maybe if he did what O’Connor asked, he could make sure Lucas didn’t get into trouble. The image of Lucas cradling Mia would be burned into his brain for a long time.

He was just about to ask where they were going when O’Connor’s phone rang and the marshal stepped away to answer it.

“Have you got everything?” DuPree asked gently, and Owen nodded. Not that they had much. All his clothes and all of Mia’s were borrowed. She was sleeping in the pajamas Lucas had given her—the ones that had belonged to Stevie. Owen would make sure he got them back, though, because apart from one tiny picture, they were all Lucas had left of his son. Inexplicable anger shot through him, but this time it wasn’t for him; it was for Lucas.

DuPree answered her own phone, but as Owen glanced at her, she stilled and then said, “Understood,” and lowered the phone. “Are you ready?” O’Connor walked back in and grabbed the diaper bag from where Owen had left it.

Lucas nodded to the door and looked at Owen. “Go on, get in the car, and I’ll pass you—”

“You’re coming with us,” O’Connor interrupted and opened the door. “We can’t risk Malvetti’s men retaliating if they realize you’re involved.”

“Bailey!” Owen called as DuPree bundled him out, closely followed by Lucas, who passed Mia to Owen. He jogged to the idling Escalade and scrambled into the back. A cop car was stationed at either end of the street. O’Connor grabbed the dog’s collar and was last out of the house. “Car seat,” Owen called just as a squeal of tires was heard and a black car turned in from Main Street, driving way too fast. The cop car swerved to intercept it, but couldn’t react in time, and with a scream of tires and a crash of metal, the black car rammed it as if it were nothing. Everyone stilled for a heartbeat, and then the two marshals reacted.

“Get in.” DuPree shoved Lucas at the Escalade and ran to the driver’s side, drawing her gun.

But she wasn’t fast enough.

Some sort of automatic weapon started spraying the street and the car. DuPree flew backward under a hail of bullets just as Lucas flung himself in the front seat. “Drive!” O’Connor yelled and let Bailey go. He ducked behind a small parked compact and started firing round after round.

“Bailey,” Lucas shouted, and the dog leaped for the open car door just as Lucas accelerated. The car fishtailed slightly, but Bailey was in and the door slammed closed as Lucas twisted the wheel. “Get down,” he ordered, but Owen needed no instruction. He was bent over double, sheltering Mia as the windows cracked and exploded. He could hear more shouts and gunfire, and then he could have cried as what sounded like a dozen sirens were heard, but Lucas obviously wasn’t waiting for them. “Stay down” Lucas yelled above the shouts, the sound of more tires squealing, and Mia’s terrified cries. They swerved, then straightened.

Owen didn’t know how he managed to anchor himself because he’d had no chance to try for the seat belt. Lucas seemed to take another corner on two wheels.

“Are they still coming?” Owen shook, barely able to get the words out. Sirens suddenly blared out like they were in the car with them, and Lucas braked. Owen barely managed to hang on to Mia and stop himself from being thrown into the front seat of the car. Lucas yanked on the wheel and then shot forward. He heard another squeal of tires behind him and then a sickening crunch. Lucas looked in the mirror, set his jaw, and gunned it.

 

About the Author

Victoria Sue

Victoria Sue fell in love with love stories as a child when she would hide away with her mom’s library books and dream of the dashing hero coming to rescue her from math homework. She never mastered math but never stopped loving her heroes and decided to give them the happy ever afters they fight so hard for. 
She loves reading and writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best—and creating a family for them to adore. Thrilled to hear from her readers, she can be found most days lurking on Facebook where she doesn’t need factor 1000 sun-cream to hide her freckles.

www.victoriasue.com

@vickysuewrites

https://www.facebook.com/victoriasueauthor

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1182647028418709/

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/VictoriaSueNewsletter

 

Giveaway

 

Victoria Sue is offering a eBook  copy of any of her backlist to the reader chosen.  Please leave a comment and your email address to be entered in this giveaway. Must be 18 years of age or older.

An Alisa Review: Him Improvement by Tanya Chris

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The course of true love runs through every neighborhood….

Only one thing stands between Gregory MacPherson II and his dream revitalization project for the gritty neighborhood of Ball’s End: a rinky-dink, run-down used bookstore called Hailey’s Comic. But when master negotiator Mac shows up to make a deal with the owner, he comes face-to-face with quirky, colorful Hailey—unexpectedly good-humored about Mac’s attempted eviction and, also unexpectedly, a hot guy.

Hailey won’t give up his lease, no matter how much money Mac offers. When it comes to consummating their mutual attraction, though, he’s a lot more flexible. Soon Mac has as hard a time prying himself out of Hailey’s bed as he does prying Hailey out of the building. But Hailey doubts Mac’s plans serve Ball’s End’s best interests, and he insists Mac give him a chance to prove his case. If they’re going to build a happy ever after, one of them will have to be remade….

This was a nice story.  Greg always thought he was helping with his economic re-development, this is until he saw it through Hailey’s eyes.  Hailey has lived a much different life than Greg and he wants Greg to see what he sees in the neighborhood he calls home.

Greg just thinks it’s going to be another typical day when he goes in to talk to Hailey but Hailey throws his world off orbit very quickly.  I loved how open and giving Hailey was even when he didn’t have much but didn’t seem willing to fret about it.

Seeing the story through Greg’s eyes we got to see how he was easily enamored with Hailey but could feel his floundering and I couldn’t help but feel for him.  I really liked Greg and that he was willing to open his eyes to what Hailey was showing him and even changing how he continues to do business though I hated that he continually seemed to doubt himself or his worth to Hailey and even his parents.  Hailey was a breath of fresh air and even if he seemed like a hippy he was able to make a stand on what he felt was important.  Seeing the story through Greg’s eyes we got to see how he was easily enamored with Hailey but could feel his floundering and I couldn’t help but feel for him.

I like the cover art by Alexandria Corza and the visual of Greg in his suit.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 227 pages

Published: September 3, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-541-0

Edition Language: English

Series: Dreamspun Desires

A Caryn Review: An Uncommon Whore (An Uncommon Whore #1) by Belinda McBride

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Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

A bit sci-fi, a bit fantasy, a romance rekindled after tragedy, and just a little challenge to the psychology of traditional male gender roles…  This book ended up being a little more wide-ranging than I expected, but I truly enjoyed it.

The novel opens on the planet Warlan – mined out, ugly, and full of dangerous and desperate beings from all over the galaxy who seemingly have nowhere lower to go.  Pasha was a slave, a whore, controlled by a chip in his brain that not only suppressed his memories of who he was, but also guaranteed obedience to his owner.  Pasha was always looking for escape, but his many attempts over the years were unsuccessful, until his pimp lost him to a pirate over a game of cards.

That pirate was Captain Griffin Hawke, and he had been searching for years for his king, Helios Dayspring.  He’d heard rumors that Helios might be on Warlan, and was thrilled to find him, but horrified by what Helios had become.  He was equally horrified to learn that Helios had no memory of who he was, what had happened to their people, or how the two of them had been lovers before they became guerrilla warriors for their people.

This is the beginning of a series, so the entire restoration of the kingdom of Astrum will take a few more books.  An Uncommon Whore is all about the restoration of Helios Dayspring, as Griffin takes him off Warlan, through a series of adventures to recover his memories and return to their new homeland.  Along the way, they reunite with unexpected allies, confront traitors, and most importantly, learn more about themselves and their relationship with each other.  Helios found ways to use his experience as a slave to become a better man, and convince Griffin they could be partners despite their difference in rank.  There was a lot of discussion between the two of them about the role of dominance and submission – not in a BDSM type of way, but in regards to all the roles and positions in a sexual relationship.  Is the man on his knees submissive?  Is the top in anal sex the dominant?  Is it possible to switch roles?  What does that mean when they have political and leadership positions to maintain as well?  I think I liked that part of the narrative best, even though it was overdone at times.  This quote, Helios talking to Griffin, kind of sums it up best:

I’ve discovered that humility is not such a bad thing and that strength can be found through submission.  I’ve learned that I am not always right, and being wrong is not a bad thing, nor is it a weakness.

Some things I didn’t like were how the dialogue sometimes seemed less like Astrum and fantasy world, and more like 21st century America.  There was also a definite feeling of insta-love between Helios and Griffin – and I didn’t really buy that a man who had been an abused sex slave would be so instantly attracted to anyone.  But that aside, it was an enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson captures Helios well, and the background clearly shows the sci-fi aspect of the story.

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon |  Barnes and Noble:

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2nd edition
Published August 27th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published January 25th 2010)
Original Title An Uncommon Whore
ASINB07TZ2FRZS
Series An Uncommon Whore #1
Characters Helios Dayspring, Griffin Hawke
setting Warlan
Neo Domus

A MelanieM Review:Overtime (Scoring Chances #3.5) by Avon Gale

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

This short story (approximately 4000 words) takes place after the events of Power Play and before Empty Net. It features Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie Isaac Drake — as well as a few other familiar faces — and is available as a bonus for Avon’s newsletter subscribers.

You can access the story in three different formats here: http://www.instafreebie.com/free/2jdBs

And! Check out a bonus audio version, also free, here:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/kn5rwgj93cg…

 

Overtime is a short story that bridges Power Play and Empty Net.  It’s an important one because it features Isaac Drake, the Spitfires goalie.  He’s been an important character in this series, especially in his almost father/son dynamic that has evolved with his  coach, Misha Samarin.  Their stories and backgrounds so similar despite the differences in countries.  And the readers have been able to watch his character grow and his personality strengthen under Misha’s tutelage and support.

Here, we get another important step in the Spitfires overal team definition as it evolved towards its goal as a champion team and Isaac’s barriers that they have faced and may face again.  It also shows, yet again, another facet to their GM Belsy.

I am so addicted to this series and characters.  I just can’t get enough.  Well written, explosive ..on and off the ice ..by an author who knows the game and loves the men who plays it.

May this series never end.

Cover art: Aaron Anderson. Perfection.  Brands the series, works for the story.  Just outstanding.

Sales Links: Free

Book Details:

ebook, 13 pages
Published July 2016
Edition Language English
Series Scoring Chances #3.5

Scoring Chances Series

Breakaway

Save of the Game

Power Play

Overtime

Empty Net

Coach’s Challenge