Trying Times and Scattered Thoughts. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Trying Times and Scattered Thoughts

This week I’m still trying to wrap my head around several thoughts this week, none of which is actually coming together into an cohesive post.   That’s the impact of all the events of the last week is having on me I guess.

Without even knowing the people involved, I’m hurting for them.  And our LGBTQIA  community.  I don’t know why I would think that the harm to the  community would always come from outside. Several times that’s proven not to be the case.  Santino Hassell is not the first case of catfishing, but  he has also hurt others in far worse ways.  That story is still unraveling.

Then there is the deeply disturbing events that lead to Riptide Publishing cutting all ties to  Sarah Lyon, ex Editoral Director, and Kate DeGroot, ex freelance editor and regrouping.  So many elements there to occupy my mind, but floating to the top have been things like “POC can’t be on book covers because they won’t sell. ”  And the obvious racism that existed at every corner there for some personnel/authors.  In an age of diversity, when we are talking about Quiltbag fiction…how can we still be facing such blatant racism?

Any why was it allowed to continue?

I get the power imbalance.  How could any of those authors speak up?  It would  cost them their stories and perhaps their livelihood. Or the artists who design covers they authors get to choose from.  I bet they got the message loud and clear to begin with. But truly?  Now, here?  Isn’t it time for us to be done with this?

But then I started to look through all the stories, catalogs, tons of covers…and noticed a dearth of yes, POC.  I began to wonder….are there more people like Sarah out there  telling artists and authors in our community …”don’t put POC on the cover, it won’t sell…”.  What an insidious, mean, racist sentence.  Guaranteed to make someone without power stop and think, and perhaps pull back.

I think it’s becoming clear..yes racism is with us…even in the LGBTQIA community.  We just need to choose to recognize it.  And then deal with it in a positive manner.  Help support those authors and publishers going forward towards  diversity across the spectrum in every way.

What are your thoughts on this and this whole sorry week.  Mine clearly are still coming together….

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, March 18:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, March 19:

  • DSP Promo Sarah Black on American Road Trip
  • BLITZ Tomboy by Janelle Reston
  • Livingston (Trenton Security #1) by J.M. Dabney Release Day Blog
  • A MelanieM Review:Livingston (Trenton Security #1) by J.M. Dabney
  • A Stella Review One Under by JL Merrow
  • An Alisa Review: No Rulebook for Flirting by Laura Bailo

Tuesday, March 20:

  • Blog Tour Jace’s Trial by JM Wolf
  • BLITZ The Moth and Moon by Glenn Quigley
  • TOUR Cutie Pies by Barbara Bell
  • A MelanieM Review:  Mage of Inconvenience by Parker Foye
  • An Alisa Review: Captive Hearts (Deviant Hearts #1) by A E Ryecart
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: A Wild Ride (The Bullriders #1) by Andrew Grey and John Solo (Narrator)

Wednesday, March 21:

  • DSP Promo Julia Talbot
  • BLITZ The Vampire’s Angel by Damian Serbu
  • Release Blitz – Breaking the Rules by C.J. Lynne
  • A Caryn Review The Weekend Bucket List by Mia Kerick
  • An Alisa Review: The Paramedic Who Hated Jazz by Stephani Hecht
  • A Stella Review: Jace’s Trial (Trials in Abingdon #1) by J.M. Wolf (

Thursday, March 22:

  • DSP Promo S.E. Harmon
  • TOUR The Vampire’s Angel by Damian Serbu
  • RELEASE DAY BLITZ Moon Illusion by Michelle Osgood
  • An Ali Review: ​​​​Oskar Blows a Gasket​ by Al Stewart​
  • A MelanieM Review: Partner with Benefits (Kolar Creek Tales) by Val Francis
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: How to Bang a Billionaire (Arden St. Ives #1) by Alexis Hall and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Friday, March 23:

  • DSP PROMO SJD Peterson on Going Of Grid
  • Release Day Blitz for Leaning into the Look by Lane Hayes
  • Tour and Giveaway: One Under by JL Merrow
  • A Lila Release Day Review:   Going Off Grid by SJD Peterson
  • A MelanieM Review: One Under by JL Merrow
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Permanent Ink (Art & Soul #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn /Kirt Graves (Narrator)

Saturday, March 24:

  • A MelanieM Review: Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon

Authors, Blogs, and Relationships. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Authors, Blogs, and Relationships.

Given recent upsetting events concerning author Santino Hassell and other things that have occurred within the last six month, I’ve been thinking a lot about author/blog relationships.   Through this author’s campaign of lies, harassment and distortions, he was able to convince Riptide Publishing that a well-known, well-established blogger with a terrific reputation was “engaged in a campaign to doxx, harass, and smear him” to the point that they removed her and her blog from their tours and ARC lists as well as Twitter feeds, impacting her hugely.  Now this author also has or had a number of well known author friends and was also at the “stable” at Dreamspinner [see Dreamspinner Press note below] so I imagine he was working on them to get them to block this blogger as well.  I’m not sure we will ever know how far it got.

But the impact on her reputation from his deceit, however temporary, can’t be denied.  And no I’m certainly not forgetting the legends of people out there that this man has hurt by his long time deceitful behavior, catfishing, and pretense of being a cancer patient.

Today, I want to talk about author/blog relationships because they can get to be a little incentuous, a little weird, simply by the nature of the beast.  You see all bloggers/reviewers, well, we are readers first.  Then we write our first review because we want to share our thoughts on the books we are reading, then comes another review, and another.  Maybe we read a blog or decide to start one as a journal, who knows but all of a sudden you’re a blogger and a reviewer.  Then little by little you make the conscious decision to grow the blog and add more reviewers and voila!  Six years and 12 reviewers later (not all the same ones mind) Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is still rolling along.

Because we are readers who love our books and yes, authors, we like to attend conventions where we meet and connect with the authors and publishers.  You do this enough times and it can go from friendly acquaintances to downright friends, knitting buds, people you write to.   I’m sure you can see where this is going.You have a relationship with these authors.Does it make it hard to remain objective for reviews?  It would if I was the only one reviewing books here.  Thank the goddess I’m not.  There are actually 12 of us here so that makes it easier although not always true as we do have our favorite authors and always will.   But we would have those simply as readers.  And I don’t see the issue with that as long as it doesn’t carry over into how it affects our treatment of those authors on the blog.

I would like to think that we as bloggers can use  our blogs to help promote those writers who are trying to find a “platform” for their first stories as self published authors or just authors with stories period, have a place to “talk” to readers about their writing and their new releases,  and that we, in turn, are respectful of their efforts while being honest in our reviews and opinions.  After all, readers are also depending upon us to let them know if a finished story is a quality novel in every way!  It’s not just the plot, and the characters.  No, it’s also the world building and the editing.    Yes, a great editor will always be needed, an author simply cannot self edit…it never works out well.  Editors are gods no matter how much you may hate them.  Throw gold at them now.

We recently had an author tell us not to review her books any more.  Now this is an author that we had just put in our top ten of 2017, had been one of our Top Author Discoveries of 2017 and, out of the blue, wrote us a letter, demanding we not review her latest SciFy story because a reviewer (she wouldn’t name) was writing things about other authors books she didn’t like (wouldn’t say what).  Wasn’t even sure that reviewer even wrote for us since she wouldn’t name them.  I wrote back offering to open up the  conversation and keep the dialog going.  Did we hear from this author? No.  Did we review the book?  Yes.  Guess what?  It was very good.  4 stars.  We review the book,dear readers, not in this case the nuttiness that went on  around it.  And FYI?  No one tells us what books we can or can’t review.  One case in point of the strangeness that can go on in an author’s mind that she thought she  had the authority to tell us not to review a story.  Huh.


If you had asked me, this was an author I thought I had a  relationship with.  Guess not.  But her questionable judgement against us put our reputation into question without even asking for particulars   And her publisher is one that we’ve just started working with.  Now I need to contact them and gingerly open up a conversation I’m not sure I know how to start.

On the flip side, I’ve had great relationships with authors who send me their pre-release pre-final edits ARCs, trusting me not to share their stories (which I never have).    It’s a tightrope of trust and expectations that develops between blogger and author.  When it works, it’s mutually  beneficial to all, including our readers.  When it breaks down, as it did in the Santino Hassell case, it went wrong in a spectacularly bad fashion, hurting this blogger to the point it could have ruined her out of the blog she’s so lovingly created.

Have I come to any conclusions?  Not really.  I don’t attend any conventions anymore.  Mostly because of RL obligations and the costs.  My contacts with everyone are through emails, FB, and Twitter, not that it matters as to the “closeness” you feel to someone.  I would like to think that Santino Hassell is an abnormality, the author who has been uncovered while managing once more to hurt the LGBT community…again.

My heart goes out to all his victims.

If any one of our readers want to share your thoughts on this topic, I’d love to hear them…..what a disheartening couple of days it’s  been, shattering for those who believed in him, vindicating for those who have been trying to get so many to hear them for so long.

As to the author/blogger relationship?  Well, I’m not sure that’s going to change either.  It’s an odd duck as my grandmother would say.  One that needs respect on both sides to work.  And maybe a few boundaries….


{Note:  On March 9 Dreamspinner Press tweeted that Dreamspinner Press is no longer selling Santino Hassell titles. And that removing titles on third party retailers will take time.

He is no longer listed on their website.]

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, March 11:

  • Authors, Blogs, and Relationships.
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, March 12:

  • Tour:Curved Horizon by Taylor Brooke e
  • DSP Promo Ari McKay
  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: New Heights by Quinn Anderson
  • A Lila Review :Winter Cowboy by RJ Scott
  • A MelanieM Review Explore with Me by Kris Jacen
  •  An Alisa Review Special Delivery by Deirdre O’Dare

Tuesday, March  13:

  • COVER REVEAL Ari McKay ‘s Like The Night
  • DSP Promo Andrew Grey
  • Release Day Blitz Heartbeats by Jenna Kendrick
  • A Free Dreamer: Review: The Seeds of Dissolution (Dissolution Cycle #1) by William C. Tracy
  • A Lila Release Day Review:Twisted and Tied (Marshals #4) by Mary Calmes
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Running to You by Andrew Grey

Wednesday, March 14:

  • BLITZ Teacher’s Pet by Multiple Authors
  • Review Tour Silvia Violet – Of Hope and Anguish
  • Series Review Tour for Infinity #1 and #2 by C J Lynne
  • A Lila Review:  Undercover Star by Jackie Keswick
  • A Lila Review : Of Hope and Anguish by Silvia Violet
  • A Melanie Review: Family Matters (Brandywine Investigations #4-5) by Angel Martinez

Thursday, March 15:

  • Release Blitz – Lynn Michaels – Out Of The Ocean
  • Release Blitz: Would It Be Okay To Love You Box Set by Amy Tasukada
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Wheels and Heels by Jaime Samms
  • The Ballerino and The Biker by Rebecca James Release Day Blitz
  • A MelanieM Review: Promise Me We’ll Be Okay by Nell Iris
  • A Stella PreRelease Review: Cutie Pies by Barbara Bell
  • An Alisa Review: Valentine’s Day Dreaming (A Touch of Love #9) by Pelaam

Friday, March 16:

  • Book Blast PRIDE OF LOVE by Kevin Dwyer
  • Book Blast – David – Beginnings by B. J. Smyth
  • BOOK TOUR Off-Campus Setup by Maria Vickers
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Ever After by Riley Hart & Christina Lee
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: ​American Road Trip by Sarah Black
  • A MelanieM Review: Sound of Silence by Mia Kerick and Raine O’Tierney

Saturday, March 17:

  • A MelanieM Review: Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert
  • In the Spotlight: AE Via on her new release Promises Part 4
  • Release Blitz – T.A. Creech – Dusk (Expedition 63: Book One)

The Time is Right for Gay Superheroes. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


The Time is Right for Gay Superheroes

Does Black Panther’s Success

Open the Door for a Queer Superhero?

Black Panther
Hollywood is celebrating the remarkable breakthrough box office performance of Marvel’s Black Panther, the first entry in the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature a black leading character, and indeed, a mostly-black cast. Part of the shock and awe felt within the industry when it comes to Black Panther comes from the history of black superheroes in films: There just aren’t very many, …
Read more

Clearly, others were thinking along the same lines.  My friend and author J. Scott Coatsworth posted this story at his terrific site QueerSciFi (David Reddish – Full Story at LGBTQ Nation)   

From your recommendations, finds and links,  yes, there are gay superheroes out there in many forms and formats, yet few have made it through to the mainstream media yet as did Black Panther this year.  The Pride, the picture at the top of the page is from The Pride comic by Joe Glass.  It’s a small press comic series based in based in Treorchy, Wales.  Started in 2011, the first 8 page story formed about a superhero team consisting of FabMan, Angel, Bear, Frost, Sapphire, Twink, White Trash, Wolf and Cub.  I’ll let you guess who is who. Published sporadically through the years, it’s returning this year with Issue five of The Pride Adventures.  Look for more information here.

Just as Black Panther , and the call  #WakandaForever has become an affirmation of self, the beginning of a movement.  Of joy, of recognition, of belief, of strength.  If one movie…one comic has had, and continues to have the power to do all that for people of color.  What would gay comic heroes be able to do for the LGBT nation?

Clearly, we need our gay superheroes just as badly as Black Panther and Wakanda is needed and is now being treasured and loved  everywhere. Netflix series Jessica Jones comes to mind, but that’s hardly mainstream, although I love it so.  Where will it come from and when?  I have no idea but with Black Panther I hope I’m seeing a sea change, one that’s already brought us Wonder Woman and now will bring us a  LGBT superhero where we can see a representation like no other before…#LGBTsuperhero #PrideForever.

LGBT Superhero Giveaway

Further Recommendations from our Readers and Winner Announcement:


don’t think I’ve read many stories with actual superheroes (the ones with super powers and a suit) would be:
Love for the Cold-Blooded Or: The Part-Time Evil Minion’s Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero by Alex Gabriel.

Purple Reader:

Thanks for the links and other recs, especially the reference to graphics. I remembered a few more, including one graphic. Most are on those links, but these are the ones I’ve read and enjoyed:
– EARTH 2, VOL 1 by James Robinson, et al – graphic, simple plot, but a visual thrill w gay Green Lantern.
– LOVESICK GODS by Amanda Meuwissen – new one, framed around greek mythology.
– THE DIVISION by C.C. Bridges – part-time superheroes (one closeted, other has a crush) team up against alien invasion.
– EDDIE & SHADOW series by Skylar Jaye – heck, why not a son of superheroes being sub to a Dom supervillain.
– and it’s been mentioned, but I liked it too – LOVE FOR THE COLD-BLOODED, OR THE PART-TIME EVIL MINION’S GUIDE TO ACCIDENTALLY DATING A SUPERHERO by Alex Gabriel – yep, that’s the title, nuf said.


Superheroes are some of my favorite reading. Definitely Skylar Jaye’s Eddie and its sequel Shadow. Cari Z’s Panopolis series, Where’s There’s Smoke, Where There’s Fire, and Where There’s a Will are wonderful reading. Alexis Hall has a superb short in the Winter Rain anthology, Behind the Masks. Dreamspinner had a really nice anthology, Men of Steel, that has since gone out of print sadly. In YA, Hero by Perry Moore is on my keeper shelf. Also, Superior by Jessica Lack is a novella that delighted me. Refraction by Hayden Scott is another YA that I really enjoyed.

Thank you all for some great links and recs.  You all rock as always.  This is a topic close to my heart as if you all haven’t guessed already.  A huge geek I always had stacks of comic books at home (guess who’s mother tossed them..something I’ve never recovered from), seeing the resurgence of Black Panther and its impact has brought me to tears more than once.  The thought of what a gay superhero  could do for the LGBT youth and well, all the LGBT community?  Leaves me speechless….

Happy March.  Our winners are Purple Reader and Carolyn.  Please contact Stella at and she will help to get your gift certs to you.  Congratulations.  New giveaway coming up soon!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, March 4:

  • Cover Reveal for Lost Souls Found by Kris T. Bethke (giveaway)
  • BG Thomas on One NIght Stands, Writing and his new release  Orange (guest post)
  • The Time is Right for Gay Superheroes. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, March 5

  • DSP Promo Laura Lascarso
  • Hard To Let Go by Jaclyn Quinn Blog Tour
  • Release Blitz – Promise Me We’ll Be Okay by Nell Iris
  • A Jeri Review: The Time of My Life by Nora Phoenix
  • A MelanieM Review: A Matter of Justice (Hong Kong Nights Book 3) by J.C. Long
  • A Stella Review:  If Ever I Cease to Love You by Shawn Bailey
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Chief’s Mess (Anchor Point #3) by L.A. Witt and (Narrated by Nick J. Russo)

Tuesday, March 6:

  • COVER REVEAL BLITZ Invitation to The Blues (Small Change #2) by Roan
  • BLOG TOUR Unraveled by K.M. Neuhold
  • Livingston (Trenton Security #1) by J.M. Dabney Release Day Blog Tour
  • VLOG TOUR The Time of My Life by Nora Phoenix
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: When Everything is Blue by Laura Lascarso
  • A Free Dreamer Review:Finding Sanctuary (The Hampton Road Club #6) by Morticia Knight
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Cowboy in the Crosshairs (Turquoise, New Mexico #1) by B.A. Tortuga

Wednesday, March 7:

  • BLOG TOUR – Skater Boy by A.E. Wasp
  • RELEASE BLITZ Off-Campus Setup by Maria Vickers
  • Review Tour  for Winter Cowboy (Whisper Ridge, Wyoming #1) by R.J. Scott
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: The Pick Up by Allison Temple
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:Winter Cowboy (Whisper Ridge, Wyoming #1) by R.J. Scott
  • A MelanieM Review: The Calling by MD Neu
  • An Alisa Review: Switching Places By Morticia Knight

Thursday, March 8:

  • DSP Dreamspun Promo BA Tortuga
  • Harmony Promo Russell J. Sanders on Titanic Summer
  • INDIGO BLITZ Leaning Into the Fall (Audio) by Lane Hayes
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review:  Runner by Parker Williams
  • A MelanieM Review: Hard to Let Go (Haven’s Cove #1) by Jaclyn Quinn
  • An Ali Review: Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr.

Friday, March 9:

  • INDIGO TOUR Waking Oisin by Grace Kilian Delaney
  • Release Blitz: Art by Adonis by Kris Sawyer
  • Review Tour for Annabelle Jacobs’ Bitten By The Alpha
  • A Caryn Review: Room for Recovery (Hearts and Health #4) by D.J. Jamison
  • A MelanieM Review : Bitten By The Alpha (Regent’s Park Pack #4) by Annabelle Jacobs
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Heart of Glass (Lawyers in Love #3) by Ari McKay

Saturday, March 10:

  • A MelanieM Review Art by Adonis by KRIS SAWYER

Gay Superheroes and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Gay Superheroes

Last week I started off the discussion of LGBT Superheroes because of the new film Black Panther and the colossal response that’s its engendered, due in no small part to representation. Of course it helps that its an outstanding movie too. But people of color are seeing themselves represented in a major motion picture in a way that they’ve never seen before and perhaps never been possible before.  Its origin?  A comic called Black Panther.

I don’t think you can underestimate the power of seeing yourself represented…in a book, graphic or not, or on a screen, small or large.  The above section of a comic book panel belongs to a long running comic book called  Life with Archie.  Here’s the full cover:

Amazing isn’t it.  More and more of the regular comics introduced gay characters or had characters come “out of the closet” in recent years.  Anyone remember seeing this Green Lantern panel?


And while the “mainstream” comics have been busy, so have many Quiltbag authors for writing LGBT superhero books and graphic novels.  Yes, it turns out there is a burgeoning niche and demand here.  We want to see gay superheroes too!

Some of the ones I love?

Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series (up to eight books now)
Andrea Speed’s Infected Series (Roan) up to eight books minus the connected series
Light by Nathan Burgoine
Panopolis by Cari Z

Here are some of the wonderful Gay Superhero Recommendations from all of you:

From Jen:

Here are some that I found:

And here’s one that I read. It is not quite traditional superheroes, but the kids do battle bad things with magic. MAGIC BOY BASIL

From Purple Reader:

Oh boy, now we’re talkin’! I’ll be seeing BP this week, and now you are stoking my love of superheroes even more. I’m looking forward to see what others rec. There’s some fanfic that is decent, as well, as well as gay sidekicks (and then there’s separating out paranormal powers from superhero stories), but here are ones with gay MCs that I’ve read and enjoyed over the years:

– QUEEROES by Bereznai – light-hearted look at gay teens w/ powers. My first such story – me: “What?! There are gay superheroes?!” *faints*.
– HERO by Moore – misfit group of teen superheroes.
– MASKS series by Thorne – another team of YA superheros, still enjoyable.
– BROKEN HEROS series by Perdita – now how about some college superheroes.
– FIERCE by Rosen – or a nerdy college freshman.
– PANOPOLIS series by Cari Z – creative take that has you rooting for the villain.
– WAYNE OF GOTHAM by Hickman – Not the best, but decent for me – it’s a gay Dark Knight after all.
– KING CAGE series by Mike Stop Continues – new & offbeat; urban graffiti superhero.


I think Roan and Holden from “INFECTED” series by Andrea Speed to be LGBTQ superheroes :). I admit I don’t follow comic. Not my cup of tea. So I don’t know much about LGBTQ superhero in comic unless they’re being turned into movie


Deadpool is pansexual. His kiss in 2009 with gay superhero Rictor was the first same-sex kiss in a mainstream Marvel comic. The movie Deadpool 2 will feature a bisexual and polyamorous superhero!


I love this thread and our recommendations and Giveaway continues until March 3rd!

It’s our  LGBTQIA Superhero Hunt Giveaway!

Find stories and LGBTQIA Superheroes!  We will give you all the entire month that’s left.  Must be superhero stories, can be graphic novels (comics).  Giveaway ends March 3 at midnight.  Gift certificates will be given away!  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Let the hunt begin!

And the winner of our Valentine’s Day Giveaway is announced at the very end of today’s blog.  Don’t miss it!


LGBTQIA Superhero Lists You May Not Be Aware Of!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Sunday, February 25:

  • Perfect by Felice Stevens Release Day Blitz
  • RELEASE BLITZ for Captive Hearts (Deviant Hearts #1) by A E Ryecart LILY RECEIVED (2 emails)
  • Gay Superheroes and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, February 26:

  • Bite Me by Beth Bolden BLOG TOUR
  • Blog Post- Katze Snow – Demons & Wolves Series
  • Release Blitz – Closets Are For Clothes – Addison Albright
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Off the Beaten Path by Cari Z. and Jack Wesley (Narrator)
  • A Stella Review: Bite Me by Beth Bolden
  • An Alisa Review: Alpha Dragon: Bronaz by Kellan Larkin and Kaz Crowley

Tuesday, February 27:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR Where Death Meets the Devil by LJ Hayward
  • Release Blitz  – Bitten By The Alpha (Regent’s Park Pack #4) by Annabelle Jacobs
  • NDIGO BLITZ A Matter of Justice by J.C. Long
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Exodus ( Heaven Corp #2) by CC Bridges
  • A MelanieM PreRelease Review: Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

Wednesday, February 28:

  • DSP Publications Promo Sean Michael
  • Release Blitz RJ Scott – Winter Cowboy
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review:  Runner by Parker Williams and Patrick Zeller (Narrator)
  • A Stella Review :New Heights by Quinn Anderson
  • An Alisa Review: Say Cheese by Michael P. Thomas

Thursday, March 1:

  • Release Blitz – Room For Recovery – DJ Jamison
  • DSP Publications Promo Chris E. Saros
  • BLOG TOUR  Found (Hamilton’s Heroes #1) by Annabella Michaels
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Celestia by J.D Evergreen
  • An Stella Release Day Review: Touch by Remmy Duchene

Friday, March 2:

  • Review Tour – Jay Northcote – Pretty In Pink S
  • Hurri Cosmo – Ghost Wolf – Virtual Book Tour
  • Riptide Tour and Giveaway: Apocalypse Alley by Don Allmon
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Pretty In Pink by Jay Northcote
  • A MelanieM Review: Where Death Meets the Devil by LJ Hayward
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Touch by Remmy Duchene

Saturday, March 3:

  • Ever After by Riley Hart & Christina Lee Release Day Blitz
  • Release Blitz CLOSER by F.E. Feeley Jr.


Valentine’s Day Giveaway Winner is H.B.!  Congratulations, H.B.  Contact Stella at and she will arrange to get your gift card to you.

Valentine’s Day Stories and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Valentine’s Day Stories

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Week!  The air is full of love and romance, balloons, flowers, cards, and whatever else a loved one may desire.  Stuffed animals?  Songs?  Mixed tapes….yes that dates me! lol  What things have you received? From friends and loved ones…sometimes even a those little candy hearts with messages were enough to make your day.  I can remember some stories that actually captured those elements.  Apparently you all did too with your recommendations.

Here’s some stories from me you may have missed for your Valentine’s Day reading:

Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows By Ari McKay
Letters From Cupid by Ari McKay
Conversation Hearts by Avon Gale
Valentine Rainbow Anthology
A Secret Valentine by BG Thomas
A Cupid’s Wager by Deanna Wadsworth
Campfire Confessions by Bru Baker

And coming out this week on Valentine’s Day (and to be reviewed as well)

Hearts and Flour by Tara Lain
Bromantically Yours by K.C. Wells


Here are some of the Valentine’s Day Stories our readers are listing and recommending:

From Ami:

I loved this F/F novella by Aidan Wayne “Making Love” because it’s about Cupid and also featuring an asexual character. It’s cute, it’s adorable, and for me FITS the Valentine’s day vibe.

From Jen:

I just looked through my Read list and I haven’t read too many Valentine’s Day stories. But one that I really loved was

  • Lazy Valentines (Lazy Days #2) by K-lee Klein.

From H.B.:

  • Looking forward to the valentine’s book list and recs from everyone. I don’t think I have too many on my own list over the years (and I started tagging them a on goodreads a year and half after I started reading m/m fiction). My recs are:
    6 Days to Valentine by L.E. Franks
    The Colors of Romance (A Valentine Rainbow) by Ashavan Doyon
    Fruity on the Inside by G.R. Richards
    On Valentine’s Day by Raine Delight
    From Your Secret Admirer by Debora Day
    Naughty Cupid/A Cupid’s Wager by Deanna Wadsworth (A Cupid’s Wager was part of the A Valentine Rainbow Set published by Dreamspinner)


However, there’s still time to get your stories into us to be added to our Valentine’s Day list.  See our  giveaway below!  And Happy Valentine’s Day in advance!

Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Then it’s soon to be Valentine’s Day and I know there are book written with this in mind.  Can I think of them now?  No!  But maybe you can.  Who can remember Valentine’s Day stories?  Or maybe ones with Cupid in them?  I know there are a few of those out there.  Of course we will have a giveaway attached to that.  It’s our Cupid or Valentine’s Day Giveaway! Give us your favorite Valentine’s Day stories!  The one overflowing with romantic, love, roses, or whatever!  Giveaway is a gift card from Dreamspinner Press for $10.  Contest  ends on February 17th at midnight.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 11:

  • Valentine’s Day Stories
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, February 12:

  • Bite Me by Beth Bolden Release Day Blitz
  • BLOG TOUR Rebel by K.M. Neuhold & Nora Phoenix
  • Cover Reveal: Forsaken by J.R. Gray
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  The Station by Keira Andrews
  • A Stella Prerelease Review:  Love on a Battlefield by Posy Roberts
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Model Bodyguard (Haven Investigations #2) by Lissa Kasey and Brian Hutchison (Narrator)

Tuesday, February 13:

  • J. Scott Coatsworth on Lander
  • Release Blitz: Three’s the Charm by P.A. Friday
  • Review Tour and Giveaway : In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray
  • SERIES TOUR for Shatterproof Bond by Isobel Starling
  • A Jeri Review: Winning Edge by Keira Andrews
  • A MelanieM Review:In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Infected: Throwaways (Mean Streets #2 Infected Universe) by Andrea Speed

Wednesday, February 14 -Valentine’s Day 💘:

  • DSP Promo Amy Lane
  • Lander (Oberon Cycle Book 2) J, Scott Coatsworth Tour
  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Cam Boy by Quinn Anderson
  • Second Wind by Aimee Nicole Walker Release Day Blitz
  • A Lila Release Day Review:  Hearts and Flour by Tara Lain
  • A Lila Release Day Review:  Bromantically Yours by K.C. Wells
  • A MelanieM Review:Lander (Oberon Cycle Book 2) by J.Scott Coatsworth

Thursday, February 15:

  • Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway for The Artist’s Touch by EJ Russell
  • In the Promo Spotlight: Andrew Grey
  • Release Blitz for DJ Jamison’s Hearts & Health 1-3 Box Set
  • A MelanieM Review: Oh Yeah, An Elf  by L.L. Brooks
  • An Alisa Review :GHOST WOLF by Hurri Cosmo
  • A Lila Audiobook Review: Finding Mr. Wrong by Charlie Cochet and Andrew McFerrin (Narrator)

Friday, February 16:

  • DSP Publications Promo Andrea Speed  on Infected: Throwaways
  • Release Blitz Tour – RJ Scott & VL Locey’s Poke Check
  • Review Tour – Sam Burns’ Wolf & The Holly
  • A Free Dreamer Review:Wolf & The Holly (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #2) by Sam Burns
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Blackbird in the Reeds (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #1) by Sam Burns
  • An Alisa Review: Alpha Dragon: Nyve by Kellan Larkin and Kaz Crowley

Saturday, February 17:

  • Blog tour for Resist and Triumph charity anthology Joe Bone
  • BLITZ September (Audio) by Robert Winter



A MelanieM Review: Rook by T. Strange


Rating: 3 stars out of 5


For killing his husband, Rook is sent to B-226—an alien planet populated by deadly creatures, where the average life expectancy for a prisoner is three weeks. Rook is relieved by the sentence—all he wants is to die and rejoin his husband.

Upon arrival on B-226, Rook is partnered with Stevie, who has beaten the odds and survived for several months. Rook is drawn to Stevie in a way he didn’t expect in the aftermath of losing his husband. Before Rook can untangle the mess of his emotions, the already deadly situation on B-226 worsens, plunging Rook and Stevie into an even more desperate struggle to survive.

I’m really of two minds here when it comes to Rook by R. Strange, especially when rating the story, which I really liked.

It really falls into dividing my review and rating into two categories.  The  first being the characters and their relationship  which was excellent.  The second?  The world building and the creatures on planet B-226, none of which actually made any sense.  So lets get the problematic out of the way first and  end with what I loved about Rook.

If you are going to build an alien world, especially one with as important concept as a prison/mining planet whose environment is a death sentence, killing those within days of landfall, the majority lasting only 3 weeks.   With such a featured narrative aspect such as this one, then you need to make it and everything on it solid, well thought out, from the atmosphere, land masses, water features, flora, and yes, fauna.  If you are going to give us superstar killer fauna, explain why the environment produced them and supports them.  Have them make sense physically for the planet and in relation to each other. And once you do that, don’t contradict yourself.  As in, yes this creature only comes out in the rain, until oh look, the creature does come out when sunny because you need it to do so for narrative purposes.  And really, with regards to the dragons, which breathed fire, the latter made much more sense to begin with.  Why would fire breathing dragons (why dragons on this world to begin with) only come out when its raining?  Never got that one.  Plus there are cannibalistic flying kite/umbrella bats with three mouths, large reptiles I’m assuming that roll like wheels and much more.  It sounds more like a child’s book of wacky creatures than a well thought out naturali history for B-226.  Yes, Strange managed to make those bats scary but in the back of this naturalist’s mind was  much on that planet  just wasn’t supported from a animal standpoint or in the author’s worldbuilding. Why not just one mouth with serrated teeth?  Three is honestly overboard. Does it go to three stomachs?  And for what purpose?  From there my mind wanders to things like poisonous plants, (where are they, its an obvious rainforest…) because it can’t be just the fauna that’s trying to do you in.

Plus there was the whole thing about the humans smelling so bad that the animals attacked them but wouldn’t eat them.  Ok, surely that idea could have been explored more or exploited by scientists employed by the mining corporation or government or whoever.  Develop a scent, etc.  Also all the native animals showed the ability to adapt/outthink the invader/human technology to keep them out.  Yet there is no mention of sentient beings? Smh. Sigh.

And if my mind is trying to fill in the blanks and worrying over the huge holes in the  world building (this is the rarest, coveted,and important mineral in the galaxy and they haven’t done any planetary surveys, just sent in the miners?).  More questions than are answered.  Don’t give the reader reason for their mind to wander like that.  Supply a well reason, beautifully built universe to begin with and the reader’s mind will stay put where it belongs…on the story and the characters.

Well, enough of that.  You get my drift.

What I did like  was T. Strange’s character’s.  Rook and Stevie, a murderer and thief sentenced to die on B-226.  Again, the author didn’t do a great job with their backhistory.  It’s muddy for both men.  You never really get the full story   on what happened  in their pasts, just vague hints for Rook enough to piece it together and nothing really for Stevie for them to be sentenced to death.

What makes the story is the day by day building of their relationship, through the stress, fear, isolation, and anxiety of their situation.  They could die at any moment and often are fighting for their lives.  It’s those scenes and their dynamics that  the author does well and makes Rook work.  At least until the dragons show up again.  Then its back to questions all over again, one species in one location for the entire planet…etc.  Uh no. Again I’ll stop.

So I like the people, not the world.  Sounds about right.  For those that like scify fiction, I think  that Rook by T. Strange is a quick read you might want to check out.  I was given an unedited version so I hope the editor might suggest a few changes.  Check it out and let me know.

Cover by Aisha Akeju is colorful, wonderful and matches the story.

Buy Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Published February 7th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Of Covers, Valentine’s Day Books and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Of Covers and Valentine’s Day Books



I’m of two minds this Sunday.  Valentine’s Day which is coming up in two weeks and book covers which has been occupying my mind a lot recently.  So I’m going to burble on a bit about both today to get the gears cranking for major posts down the line.  Chime in please with your thoughts here.

First up books covers.   Lately I either absolutely love them, think the artists are whacking it right out of the cover ballpark so to speak or find them bland, bland, bland.  Not a whole lot of in between.  I’m not sure if that’s due to the huge amounts of authors now self-publishing and actually trying to do the covers themselves.  Or perhaps the limited choice in photography the cover artist can choice from when designing the cover?  All I know is that certain  artists names pop up again and again on the covers that people love and  that stand out on favorite lists.  Natasha Snow has had a great year (last year too).  I love her  covers.  Paul Richmond, Anne Cain, Reese Dante? So too Angsty G, and  Aaron Anderson. They continue to blow me away.  Posh Gosh over at Pride Publishing has done the same for years.  Garrett Leigh or GD Leigh has a style about her covers that so immediately recognizable that it jumps out at you. LC Chase?  Shakes head….amazing.

And I’m throwing this out here for discussion.  Back in 2008, Anne Cain did the cover for J.L. Langley’s My Fair Captain (Sci-Regency #1).  IMO its the gold standard for all half  naked torso covers and may indeed be the first.  Can anyone think of one before this?  To me, it still is beyond amazing and yes, utterly drool worthy.  Comments?  Here’s the cover.  And if you haven’t read the story, you should!  Just outstanding!

So many manage to combine an eye-catching design, story elements, along with a striking color combination that comes together in a cover that pulls you in and makes you want to read that book!  Now think of all the ones that  totally missed that mark.  The nondescript ones, the ones that could be for any book let alone the one you are reading, the “oh, here’s another….fill in the blank for me” image cover.  There seems to be a lot of those  to balance out the sublime.  So I’m planning on a couple of posts to talk about the state of covers these days.  How do you feel about them?  Do you have your favorite artists?  Fav covers?  What strikes your fancy when it comes to cover art?  More on that  later but start talking to me please!

Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Then it’s soon to be Valentine’s Day and I know there are book written with this in mind.  Can I think of them now?  No!  But maybe you can.  Who can remember Valentine’s Day stories?  Or maybe ones with Cupid in them?  I know there are a few of those out there.  Of course we will have a giveaway attached to that.  It’s our Cupid or Valentine’s Day Giveaway! Give us your favorite Valentine’s Day stories!  The one overflowing with romantic, love, roses, or whatever!  Giveaway is a gift card from Dreamspinner Press for $10.  Contest  ends on February 17th at midnight.

Winter Story List Challenge!   

So last week we offered up the Winter List Challenge!   We asked What’s your Most Memorable Winter Stories?  From now until the end of the month, get in your recommendations!  We will pick a winner or two to receive a gift card of $10.  Make sure you include your name and email address where you can be reached.  So bring on the Brrrrrs and the Winter Recommendations!  Contest ends January 28 at mid.

Now about those wonderful lists from our readers, here’s the recommendations we’ve received so far.  Remember you have until midnight tonight.   Winner  is Moondrawn.  Congrats!  Please contact Stella at and she will arrange to get you your gift card!

Now onto this week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.


This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 4:

  • Of Covers, Valentine’s Day Books and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Release Blitz – KA Merikan – Just Here For The Pain

Monday, February 5:

  • DSP Dreamspun Desires Promo Shira Anthony on Swann’s Revenge
  • DSP Promo R.L. Merrill on Hurricane Reese
  • La Famiglia (A Men of Gilead Novel) by Deanna Wadsworth Blog Tour
  • A Stella Review: Still The One (The Best Gift #2) by Shawn Lane
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Friends and Lovers by Tinnean
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: The Long and Winding Road (Bear, Otter, and the Kid #4) by TJ Klune and Sean Crisden (Narrator)

Tuesday, February 6:

  • Cover Reveal –  Out Of The Ocean  by Lynn Michaels
  • DSP Promo H. M. Shepherd
  • Rob Rosen on And God Belched
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: Swann’s Revenge by Shira Anthony
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Bobby Green (Johnnies #5) by Amy Lane
  • An Alisa Review:Alpha Dragon: Taran (Treasured Ink #1) by Kaz Crowley & Kellan Larkin

Wednesday, February 7:

  • Book Blast My Horrible Gay Dating Life by Dimitrius Jones
  • DSP Dreamspun Desires Promo j. leigh bailey
  • Release Blitz: RJ Scott’s Seth & Casey
  • A Jeri Review: Going Overboard (Anchor Point #5) by L.A. Witt
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances# 5) by Avon Gale and Scott R. Smith (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Review: Tarnished Hero by  Temple Madison

Thursday, February 8:

  • Blog tour for Resist and Triumph charity anthology by  Joe Bone, editor
  • DSP Guest Post CJane Elliott
  • Release Blitz Tour – Selina Kray – In Wild Lemon Groves
  • A Caryn Review: The Artist’s Touch (Art Medium) by E.J. Russell
  • An Alisa Review: Camp Lake Omega by Penelope Peters
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: ​Lost and Found by Rick R. Reed and Narrator: Michael Neeb

Friday, February 9:

  • From Ashes by K.M. Neuhold Audiobook Tour
  • Release Blitz – Sam Burns – Wolf & The Holly
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Going Overboard by LA Witt
  • Series Blitz – Katze Snow – Demons & Wolves
  • A Lila Review: The Man on the Balcony by Edward Kendrick
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Just for Nice by H. M. Shepherd

Saturday, February 10:

  • Release Blitz – Keira Andrews – Winning Edge
  • Heart2Heart, A Charity Anthology Release Day Blitz
  • A MelanieM Review:  Rook by T. Strange


Goodbye January, Hello February. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Goodbye January, Hello February

Okay, doesn’t it seem like we were just doing this?  Can it really be February already? January just flew by and here comes, what is for us in this area, the snowiest and coldest month of the year.  For us here in the Mid Atlantic states it means the last gasp of winter usually…. our worst winter storms whether they be of ice, cold or snow.

I say that as our  outside thermometers sit around 60 degrees and have for the past several days.

But it won’t last.  It never does.  Winter isn’t over and will be back with a bang next week because that’s what February does.  It reminds us that Winter is still with us, even though we are steadily adding minutes of light to each day….something that I love.  Come on, you Spring Equinox!  Even February’s coldest winds can’t scare my glimpses of Spring away!

Winter Story List Challenge!   

So last week we offered up the Winter List Challenge!   We asked What’s your Most Memorable Winter Stories?  From now until the end of the month, get in your recommendations!  We will pick a winner or two to receive a gift card of $10.  Make sure you include your name and email address where you can be reached.  So bring on the Brrrrrs and the Winter Recommendations!  Contest ends January 28 at mid.

Now about those wonderful lists from our readers, here’s the recommendations we’ve received so far.  Remember you have until midnight tonight.   Winner or winners announced next week:

📚From Jen:

Here are some of my most memorable winter stories:
North Pole City Tales series by Charlie Cochet
The Mystery of Nevermore by C.S. Poe
Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles by Eli Easton
Blame It on the Mistletoe by Eli Easton
A Family for Christmas by Jay Northcote
The Winter Spirit by Indra Vaughn
The Avona Tales series by Raine O’Tierney
Color of You by C.S. Poe
Third Solstice by Harper Fox

📚From Purple Reader:

It’s sometimes hard for me to recall whether even good stories were primarily set in winter, but a few do come immediately to mind. I agree with Jen about C.S. Poe’s Color of You and Nevermore. Here are two more:
Enemy Within by Tal Bauer – a thrilling conclusion to his Exec Office trilogy that travelled via sub above the Arctic Circle in Russia. And he had a number of hot couples I wouldn’t have minded snuggling up to for warmth.
Foxes by Suki Fleet – moving YA story, and she vividly captures the cold that homeless kids have to survive in.

📚From Ami:

I have sucky memories so I can only remember the latest gorgeous winter story that I read: A Frost of Cares by Amy Rae Durreson.

📚From H.B.:

I didn’t have many winter reads this year but of the ones I did read these were my most memorable:

Sometimes the Best Presents Can’t Be Wrapped by B.G. Thomas
A Very Henry Christmas by N.R. Walker
Honey and Heat by Rian Durant
Something Permanent by Roan Parrish
Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles by Eli Easton
A Christmas Kiss by Annabelle Jacobs

📚From Moondrawn:

Some great books listed already. Winter (and Christmas) are inescapable if you read any Josh Lanyon–so many to choose from: Winter Kill, Icecapade (this one is a New Years, new chances story), So This Is Christmas, Baby It’s Cold and many more.
Minnesota Christmas series by Heidi Cullinan
Deefur Dog and then Deefur Dog and the Great Mistletoe Incident (winter weather is the heart breaker here), Love Happens Anyway, and Snow In Montana by R.J. Scott.
Mountain series by P.D. Singer (although the first one is about fire fighting, the rest are about skiing)
Something Like Winter by Jay Bell
A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland.
In The Middle Of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
Something to Believe in by Sloan Parker


Of course February is the month of Valentine’s Day celebrations so you know what  stories we will be asking for next…that’s right! Valentine’s Day stories  or lacking that…your most romantic story of all!  Yes!  That hearts of hearts story! That “wild thing, you make my heart sing, you make everything groovy” story!  Or whatever floats your boat!  So get those recs ready for next week and the week after!

Now onto this week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, January 28:

  •  Goodbye January, Hello February
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, January 29:

  •  BLITZ Ibuki by Kathryn Sommerlot
  • BLITZ Sweethearts by Gemma Gilmore
  • Review Tour – Marshall Thornton’s Hidden Treasures
  • A Stella Review: When It’s Time (Go Your Own Way #3) by Zane Riley
  • A MelanieM Review: Hidden Treasures (A Pinx Video Mystery #2) by Marshall Thornton
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Wet Heat by RD Hero and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

Tuesday, January 30:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR Trick Roller by Cordelia Kingsbridge
  • DSP Guest Post Emjay Haze on Home is Where Your Are
  • An Ali Release Day Review:When the Devil Wants In by Cate Ashwood and JH Knight
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Hurricane Reese by R.L. Merrill
  • A Lila Review: A Boyfriend for the Weekend by Caitlin Ricci

Wednesday, January 31:

  • Review Tour – Meg Harding’s Contour
  • BLITZ Dantes Unglued by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott
  • Review Tour – Garrett Leigh’s Dream (Skins #1)
  • A Stella Review:  Contour by Meg Hardin
  • An Alsa Review: Spanking the Boss by Hunter Frost
  • A Jeri Review : Dream (Skins #1) by Garrett Leigh

Thursday, February 1:

  • Color Me In by Riley Hart Release Day Blitz
  • Retro Review Tour – LA Witt’s For The Living
  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: Scratch Track by Eli Lang
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Color Me In (Last Chance #2) by Riley Hart
  • A Jeri Review:  For The Living by L.A. Witt
  • An Alisa Review: Pushing Phillip (Common Powers #4) by Lynn Lorenz

Friday, February 2:

  • TOUR The Calling by MD Neu
  • Release Blitz – Meredith Russell’s Dead Fall
  • Release Blitz – Louise Lyons ‘ The Short Stories Collection
  • A MelanieM Review: Finders Keepers by N.R. Walker
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Light by Nathan Burgoine
  • A MelanieM Review:  All The World’s An Undead Stage (Offbeat Crimes #6) by Angel Martinez
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Spanking the Boss (An Office Kink Novella – Book #1) by Hunter Frost

Saturday, February 3:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Rook by T. Strange


A MelanieM Review: Velvet Claw by L.J. Hamlin


Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Researching and finding cures for illnesses is what Dr. Evan Kidd does best. When he’s asked to help determine what’s making the children of Felis Forest sick, he can’t say no. Evan accepts, and even understands, why Rene has to follow him around town. It’s not every day a human is allowed in the “cat people only” town. But being attracted to someone who doesn’t trust him, much less like him, brings back painful reminders of his past.

Rene has plenty of his own baggage and having to shadow a human—who happens to be a doctor—isn’t helping. Evan challenges all Rene’s preconceived notions about humans and about himself. If they can survive all the obstacles while uncovering the truth, they might just discover they aren’t so different after all.

Velvet Claw by L.J. Hamlin was a  new supernatural thriller for me by a new author and I thought it had a lot going for it.   First off was the premise, a human doctor brought in to find the cure for a mystery disease afflicting the children of a Felidae race.  Combine that with a interspecies romance and mystery and I’m there.

However the execution and actual exposition stopped short of 4 stars.  The world building for example, Hamlin give us a prologue in the human/ Felis history but it doesn’t explain why with all the strengths, superior might etc. it doesn’t turn out that the Felis come out on top instead of the humans.  More was definitely needed there. Just didn’t make sense to go from God to the persecuted and hunted.

I liked the characters here, from Evan to Rene and several of the other people of the cast.  However the author cant seem to decide if the story is told third person, first person or what point of view is to be used.  I can see her wanting to have all the viewpoints out there but the flows just gets disrupted instead of being able to carry the story in a more even natural way.

Finally, when the mystery is solved, the motive is never revealed, a flaw here that bothers me.   It may not bother others, but it certainly did me.  It felt that the story lacked closure, especially since the author then threw in an entirely different mystery altogether that felt unnecessary.

So much promise here and that’s why I gave it 3 stars, not because of the actual execution.

Cover art is simplistic.  Not a fan.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Knightsgift by J. Hepburn

Rating:  4 stars out of 5
Three knights, each bearing the Knightsgift that gives them power and life, ride to the aid of a small village where people are disappearing in the forest. One knight seeks the aid of a herbalist, a sharp-witted, strong-willed woman, who can tell him what the Sheriff will not…
Knightsgift is the first story I’ve read by J. Hepburn but based on the characters, themes, and worldbuilding I found within this tale, it certainly won’t be the last.  In fact, I’m hope that the author is considering making this the first in a series about the Knights here, the Healer, and the backstory into the training they all undergo when the Knightsgift comes to each of them.
The Knights here are already battle-hardened experienced Knights, years away from the time the Gift came to them.  These three Knights seem to travel together often on missions for the King, so their friendship and ease with each other speaks of a deep kinship.
The Knights are Heskan, Tahis and Donaar, and Tahis is the Knight we get to know the most intimately of the three.  Donaar, the fierce, indomitable female knight is second leaving Heskan the one with the least storytime.  Their mission is to solve who or what is behind the disappearances/murders of villagers in Sweetwater.
However, things are rarely simple and the state of Sweetwater itself is murky and needs further investigation.
I loved these Knights, the Herbalist Tala, and most of the “lowly” villagers of Sweetwater.  Hepburn came up with great characters, lively, believable, some endowed with a magic that flows from them, and an entire village of people depending on each other to get by because they knew help was not coming from the “upper echelons” in town and rules  set down to see to their safety.  The author was able to show the emotional cost and close knit relationships of all the people of the village to each other in a short story.  I believed in them all.
There’s several elements here, important ones I hesitate to mention.  One is about the nature of Tahis and how that Knight perceives themselves.  I just love how this is done, it feels natural, and the potential for a relationship with Tala is just one more reason I would love to see this story become the first in a series.  The second is the Knightsgift itself.  There are some astonishing revelations that the author unfolds later in the story that cry out for more backhistory and more exposition.    Again, more stories please.
Finally, there’s the reason behind the missing villagers….I needed a little more, not much because some of that was outstanding, grant you.  But why there?  This story came so close to a 5 star tale for me….
Knightsgift by J. Hepburn is a story that still intrigues me.  My mind is still jumping to all these places the author has led it to with their incredible imagination, great characters and wonderful plot.  If you’re looking for heat and hot sex, this is not the book for you.  But if you’re looking for a wonderful fantasy with LGBTQIA characters, a possible romance in the future, and, hopefully more to come?  This is the story for you.
Cover art:  Kirby Crow.  Cover is simple and elegant.  I liked it.
Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press  | Amazon
Book Details:
Published January 3rd 2018 by Less Than Three Press
Edition LanguageEnglish