A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Beneath This Mask ( Enhanced World #3) by Victoria Sue and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

As with the rest of the series, this story is spot-on, from the author’s nicely crafted plot and characterizations to the narrator’s outstanding vocalizations.

We first met Gael Peterson in the earlier books in this series. Gael is the enhanced team member whose face is scarred. In this installment, it’s his turn to get a human law enforcement team member. But Gael and Jake rub each other the wrong way, or at least, Gael takes Jake’s actions the wrong way, so Gael ends up with Drew as his partner, at least temporarily, and Jake is assigned to Vance whose new partner is on an undercover assignment and not yet available to the team.

It’s actually good that Gael and Jake aren’t partnered because they develop a friendship on their own that leads to a more romantic involvement—until Gael perceives Jake has turned against him. The intrigue and action that takes place in the main plot and in secondary scenarios is something one must pay close attention to in this audiobook. It’s not so easy to turn a few pages back to reread when one is listening, so I’m glad I was glued to my device from beginning to end, and I had already learned from past experience with these books that it’s important to listen carefully. The excitement and intrigue swept me away. Add to that the fact that I really wanted Gael to have a life partner and Jake was perfect for him. Then, there was the subplot surrounding Ethan, the young enhanced boy who only communicated with Gael, and when it looked like he was being transferred to a psych unit, it broke my heart. So as I said, I was fascinated with this story, totally wrapped up, and was by turns either heartbroken or rooting for the enhanced team like a crazed cheerleader.

The only thing I didn’t like in the story was one particular character, but his coworkers didn’t like him either so I’m in good company. And maybe the voice Nick J. Russo gave that guy had a little to do with it. Just sayin’—great narration.

And what an ending we got! There was not only a Gael and Jake HEA, but there was a perfect segue into Vance’s story, which I’m sure will be next in the series. Between the excellence of the writing and the awesome narration, this is one book, and series, I can highly recommend to friends who like an action adventure with a light paranormal twist.

~~~

The cover by Brooke Albrecht depicts a scarred face in the upper right pane, all done in shades of red, likely indicating the fire that caused the scars. And in the lower pane, a man with a machine gun is poised to take a shot. With the swirling bright colors, the cover is attractive and is tied in by those colors with the other books in the series. Very cleverly done.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

7 hours and 16 minutes.

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 8 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published January 16th 2018)
ASINB07DYK4WRV
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEnhanced #3

Annabelle Jay on the Inspiration Behind her new release Jesse 2.0 (guest blog and excerpt)

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Jesse 2.0 by Annabelle Jay

Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon (not available)

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Annabelle Jay here today talking about her new release Jesse 2.0. Welcome, Annabelle.

 

♦︎

The Inspiration for Jesse 2.0

by Annabelle Jay

On a long car drive on the way back from a wedding, my husband, his friend, and I got into a debate about cloning. If, for example, a painting is reproduced exactly, down to every piece of dust and light damage, is it the same painting? What about when we sleep? If our consciousness stops, and then it starts again, are we still the same person? Is there any difference between that and a teleportation device that disassembles you and puts you back together? Is it different than death?

As I said, it was a very long drive.

Since I’m a fiction writer with an overactive imagination, I decided to explore my own thoughts about cloning in a novel. What if people who are dead could come back to life using the same technology as teleportation, only with the slight change that their bodies have been restarted? Are they the same person?

In the scene from Jesse 2.0 below, you can see most of this conversation play out between Jesse, the cloned character, and Maddy, Jesse’s boyfriend. Maddy has moved on and is dating a girl named Georgia, which complicates things even further.

Is Jesse still Jesse?

Or is he, as the title states, Jesse 2.0?

***

Excerpt

“He didn’t want any mistakes,” he continued. “Took so many pills that even pumping his stomach wouldn’t have worked. He was gone by the time I got there, anyway…. It was like he was a lamp, and someone had just switched him off.”

There were so many things I wanted to say: I’m sorry. I should never have done that to you. I love you.

“The ‘old Jesse’ is me,” I said instead. “We’re the same person.”

“You’re Jesse 2.0,” he corrected.

“No. I’m not.” I tried to think of how to explain this in a way he would understand. “All that happened was that my conscious mind turned off, they made a perfect copy of me, and then my mind turned back on. Think about it this way: If I was a famous painting, and they made a perfect copy of me down to the movement of every brush stroke, wouldn’t I be the same painting as the original?”

“You’d look identical, but the way you were made would be different. As an artist, I’m surprised you’re even making this argument.”

“Of course it would be made differently. But my question is, would it matter? Would the backstory to the painting negate the fact that the paintings are the same painting at that exact moment in time? That they have the same dust engrained in their paint, the same combination of colors, the same fading from light exposure?”

“No—”

“And sure, from that moment of creation on, those two paintings would have different experiences. One might get more light, the other more water… and suddenly they’ve started on two different paths. But the ‘old Jesse,’ as you call him, isn’t alive.”

“So you’re the only painting. The only path the ‘real Jesse’ has gone down. That’s why transporters are made to recreate you on the other side, not actually transport your matter to another place. They’re creating a perfect copy of you at that exact moment in time and destroying the original.”

“Right.”

“That’s insane. I mean, I understand it, logically… but emotionally, I don’t want to believe that an original Monet is the same as a cloned copy.”

I’d had all these same thoughts when I’d woken up at home. I’d panicked, I’d screamed, I’d tried to die all over again. But then they’d realized how to get through to me: They’d shown me two pictures of the same painting and asked me to select the original. Naturally, I couldn’t.

“Think of it another way.” I put my hand out in the dark and found his eyes, then covered them with my hand. “Pretend you’re asleep. Technically, your conscious mind shuts off, right?”

“Right….”

“So really, there’s no difference between falling asleep, being transported, and being brought back to life as a copy. Your mind goes off, time goes by, and then your mind goes on again.”

“I’m not sure that I buy—”

“I know, but think about it. If, while you were sleeping, we made an exact copy of you, that copy would wake up thinking that it’s the original you, right? All it would remember is falling asleep and waking up?”

“Yes….”

“So really, right now, you’re Maddy 1.0. Tomorrow, when you wake up, you’ll be Maddy 1.1. And the next day, Maddy 1.2. At any point during your sleep, HORUS could make a repro of you, destroy the original, and you wouldn’t know the difference. Now that repro is Maddy 1.2, soon to wake up as 1.3.”

He couldn’t seem to think of anything to say to that. I wondered if he wanted to touch me as much as I wanted to touch him, or if his mind was on the college girl back home.

“It’s not the same,” he said finally. “The history matters. The truth matters.”

“Only if you know it.”

Blurb

What would the world be like if anyone who died could come back?

That’s a question that bookworm Maddy Stone never thought he would need to answer. But when he saves a drowning man at the psychiatric facility where he volunteers, he discovers the man is his ex-boyfriend, Jesse, who committed suicide several months before. Jesse tells him that not only was he revived using “reproduction technology,” a type of cloning that relies on the same principals as teleportation, but that the doctor who brought him back was Maddy’s father. There was only one stipulation: Jesse could never talk to Maddy again.

Now, with the help of Georgia, Maddy’s new girlfriend, Maddy and Jesse must escape before their parents track them down. But when Maddy finds out that maybe Jesse—or Jesse 2.0, as Maddy calls him—isn’t the only repro, he must decide whether to continue with his new life or return to the Maddy he was before he knew the truth.

About the Author

If there’s one thing author Annabelle Jay believes with all her heart, it’s that there is no such thing as too many dragons in a book. As fantasy writer with few other hobbies—does being bribed to run with her partner or dancing awkwardly in the kitchen count?—she spends every day following her imagination wherever it leads her.

A hippie born in the wrong decade, Annabelle has a peace sign tattoo and a penchant for hugging trees. Occasionally she takes breaks from her novels to play with her pets: Jon Snow, the albino rabbit who is constantly trying to escape; Stevie, the crested gecko that climbs glass with the hairs on its toes; and Luigi, the green tree python that lives at the foot of her bed despite her best efforts to talk her partner out of the idea.

During her day job as a professor of English, Annabelle is often assumed to be a fellow student playing a prank on the class—that is, until she hands out the syllabus. When people stop mistaking her for a recent high school graduate, she will probably be very sad.

 

Links:

Author’s Website: www.annabellejay.com

Twitter: @AnnabelleAuthor

Instagram: @AnnabelleAuthor

Publisher’s book page: https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/books/jesse-20-by-annabelle-jay-549-b

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14191901.Annabelle_Jay

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Annabelle-Jay-376249719245415

There’s More to Romance and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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There’s More to Romance …

The last couple of weeks we’ve been discussing the elements that “break” our romance books.  The things that stop the reading cold or leave us with a DNF.  Cheating is up there on the list.  And at the end of today’s blog hand out a few gift certs and post the last of the comments on the subject.

But what about the opposite?

What in our romance stories gladdens our hearts?  Makes a story jump out of the ordinary?  Widens our outlook?  Let’s us perceive something special about a piece of the world or aspect of falling in love that we hadn’t seen or thought of in the same way before?  That in some way the author dug a little deeper into your heart with their tale, that some element that connected you so completely to the characters and their relationship hooked you, that even now, you can’t forget their love story.

Something that made that story magic beyond your expectations.

I was thinking Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt series) by Heidi Cullinan , Clear Water by Amy Lane, and RJ Scott’s the Texas series (and attached Legacy group),  Watermelon Kisses by Freddy MacKay,Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan,Tales From Verania series by T.J. Klune just for starters.  Those are a few that leapt to mind in seconds.  Can you guess what elements in each might have made them memorable?  Have you read the stories?

Of course my list stretches for far longer.  That’s merely a tease.

But each of those grabbed at my heart while stretching my mind and horizons in some way. They made me cry and laugh and fall in love. Over and over.

Quickly now…which books popped into your head?  Let me know…let all of us know and why.  And then I’ll fill you in  next week on more of my choices and why they made my list as well.

Now let’s put a close to our Romance No’s:

From P.R.:

I’ll chime in here – so busy couldn’t comment last week but agree with most everything. My perspective is that I understand why folks can not like cheating – ONE reason folks can like rom is for escapism, and they don’t like RL intruding b/c they already have too much of that. In that way, I think rom is a type of fantasy, and I can relate. Been there. But I usually appreciate more where MCs have RL flaws, and that’s reality, which includes in a majority of straight & gay relationships, “cheating,” (I love the Boystown series). And my being a cis gay male amongst other gay guys, let me tell you – I know there is much more diversity there than depicted in m/m rom, that it’s part of the culture, and frankly that’s why many guys think gender makes a difference among authors b/c one does not often “get it.” I think personally it has more to do with targeted audience, experiences, preferences, empathy, deep understanding … and it’s all good. You said it best “Life is messy and its always been about how the author has handled the subject.” A WELL-WRITTEN TALE TRUMPS A TROPE EVERY TIME (pun intended).

Ami:

Holy! EXCREMENT!?!? WTH!!! Okay, that will be a HUGE NO for me

Furthering my comment from last week in which I can still tolerate cheating but getting really pissed off when it comes to threesome, or ‘forced’ threesomes brought me to a couple of books. “A Vintage Affair” by Josh Lanyon made me VERY angry because the love-interest suddenly brought a woman to sleep with the MC because he wanted to “challenge” the MC that sex is just sex. Then I also DNF “My Heartache Cowboy” by ZAM who also introduced threesome scene in the middle.

I guess i’m good if the threesome is stated in the beginning, or the book is marketed as threesome. But if it somehow introduced in the middle, without any warning, it’ll be huge NO for me.

And H.B. with a no on poo, “Blood play and humiliation would also bother me.”

Yep, poo is a big no for lots of us.

Very enlightening!  And while cheating still remains a big no, it still comes down to the author and great writing.

Winners Announcement!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is handing off $10 gift certs to: Chris Tharrington and ashleyomelia

Please contact Stella at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com and she will get your gift cert to you.  Congratulations!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July 8:

  • There’s More to Romance and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Release Blitz – Riza Curtis – The Dragon’s Thief
  • The Pet Stylist and The Playboy by Rebecca James Release Blitz

Monday, July 9:

  • DSP Promo Scotty Cade
  • Release Blitz for Tight Quarters by Annabeth Albert
  • BLITZ – Nectar and Ambrosia by E.M. Hamill
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: WITH A KICK Collection #1 by Clare London
  • A MelanieM Review: Hard Contact (Guild Enforcer, #1) by Ali Atwood
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Familiar Angel by Amy Lane and Narrator: Gomez Pugh

Tuesday, July10:

  • Leaning Into Forever by Lane Hayes Blog Tour
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo j. leigh bailey
  • BLOG TOUR The Wulf Chronicles by Wulf Francu Godgluck
  • A Caryn Review: Love Me Louder by Christina Lee
  • An Alisa Review A Desperate Love by J.D. Walker
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into Forever by Lane Hayes

Wednesday, July 11:

  • Review Tour – Garrett Leigh – Believe (Skins #3)
  • Temple of Time by Geoffrey Knight Blog Tour
  • RELEASE BLITZ Love it Like You Stole It by Ki Brightly
  • A Jeri Review : Believe (Skins #3) by Garrett Leigh
  • A MelanieM Review: Bloodlines (Boystown #7) by Marshall Thornton
  • A MelanieM Review: Born of Air (Dragon Soul #4) by Sean Michael

Thursday, July 12:

  • Harmony Promo Annabelle Jay
  • Release Blitz – The Omega’s Second Chance by Kenna Grace
  • DSP Promo Andrew Grey
  • An Alisa Review: Discovery (Kinky in the City #3) by Quinn Ward
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Camwolf by JL Merrow
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Family Man By Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton/Colin Darcy (Narrator)

Friday, July 13:

  • DSP Promo Z. Allora
  • BLOG TOUR for Badlands by Morgan Brice
  • 99c Book Blast – Double Dare by Jeanne St. James
  • A MelanieM Review: Ground of Insurrection by Mell Eight
  • A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Galaxies and Oceans by N.R. Walker
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Balefire (Whyborne & Griffin #10) by Jordan L. Hawk

Saturday, July 14:

  • BLOG TOUR (Exclusive Post) Pursuing Happiness by Jessie Pinkham
  • Release Blitz – To Love & Protect His Omega by Quinn Michaels
  • A MelanieM Review: The Wolf at Bay by Charlie Adhara

Hello July. More On Romance Don’ts For You. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Hello July.

More On Romance Don’ts For Readers

Welcome to July! The month that means the halfway point of summer, the week of the beginnings of many celebrations for Americans in the States and abroad as we celebrate our Independence Day on the 4th with fireworks and parades. and just a flood of people heading out for summer vacations (beach, mountains, tourist destinations) or good old staycations.

It’s also a time for tons of summer reading which is why I’m still talking about those  Romance Don’ts or at least one of the reasons.  I don’t know if you all caught Kate Sherwood’s blog last week here but she was talking about an early story of her’s where she had her mc’s cheat and the readers wrote in disgusted with her.  And she felt she had broken an unwritten bond with them. The title of her guest blog?  The Romance Taboo by Kate Sherwood.  You can find it here.   I was totally intrigued although not surprised.  Its something I’ve heard over and over myself.

Another reason I’m still inquiring?  That would be the Boystown series written by Marshall Thornton.  Several novels in this series have either won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Mystery  or been a finalist.  And deservedly so.  But I wonder how many have started these stories and ended up with a DNF.  And the reason being that the main character,  PI Nick Nowak, rarely turns away from a hookup (underage the only exception), despite being in a relationship.  Yes, its the 80’s and gay sex/monogamy was admittedly looked at differently then.  But, and let me know if I’m wrong here, I get the feeling that context doesn’t come much into play when the  element is cheating with regards to the main character or couple.  it’s simply “no, not in my story”.

Which is a damn shame because these books and this series is simply brilliant.  I’ll be reviewing more of them this week. And  I’d like to know what I can possibly say to change readers minds.  For me this subject hasn’t been an issue.  Life is messy and its always been about how the author has handled the subject (as with any other element in their story).  But this is an emotional issue in RL and it carries over into our reading.  Can it ever be separated?  Not sure.  I hope you all will continue to chime in here.  I will be handing  out gift certificates next week.

And yes, I’ve been reading and loving everyone’s comments.  Here is what some of you have had to say on the subject:

On Readers Romance Don’ts:

H.B.

I think it depends on how the characters are portrayed. I can sometimes stand cheating characters but it has to be under certain circumstances (abuse, loveless marriage where spouse is cheating already, open relationship where both characters know and is okay with it). I really don’t like politically or religiously driven stories. Regarding sex scenes I like them enough just to spice up the read but not overtake the entire book. One every chapter is too excessive in my opinion I think maybe for a full length story I would like just maybe 2 to 4 sex scenes. Of course no sex scenes and more intimacy scenes are okay too. I think the one thing a book can’t come back from is if it kills off an important character (I’m going to exclude Andrea Speed’s Infected series from this even tho I didn’t complete the series I have plans to go back and read it after I heal from the lost of Paris). I once read a book where a main character in the earlier series was killed off in the sequel that featured new main characters. Luckily the series only had two books and there were no plans for more because I was completely turned off from it and resented that I had wasted time reading it.

Chris Tharrington

I can tolerate cheating if it advances the storyline while leading to the MCs having an HEA. Regarding sex scenes, I don’t need one every chapter. The first sex scene is the most important, because that sets the foundation for future exploration, especially if one character is primarily a top or bottom. The only things that turn me off in a book are domestic abuse, child abuse, rape, and mpreg storylines.

ashleyomelia

I agree. I hate it when they kill off the pets! [my pet peeve] I just finished reading a short story this morning where a cat got thrown of a building. I was so mad!
As for romance, I’m not sure. I do a lot of ghostwriting, and my clients are often very specific that they don’t want the main characters to have sexual involvement with anyone else. Must be a big rule!

Ami 

In terms of cheating. it depends on my mood — I mean, I’ve read when cheating happened, and I was okay with it as long as there’s SIGNIFICANT GROVELING happened in the book.

My romance No No are mostly about tropes… I don’t read Mpreg, I don’t read M/F/M or F/F/M. for example, rather than something in the plot.

I will have to tell you all I didn’t even mention last week one of my biggest bugaboos.  A  romance book where one of the MC was intensely involved with his own excrement. I believe that was my very first DNF story and it was years ago.  And yes, I found my limit on kink in that novel as well.  Another romance don’t for me.  So let’s hear from you all.  More on this cheating element and any other Romance Don’ts!

Lucky readers will be chosen next week to receive gift cards.  Now on this our week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July 1:

  • RELEASE BLITZ – Leaning into Forever by Lane Hayes
  • Hello July. More On Romance Don’ts For You.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, July 2:

  • Release Blitz for Nobody Else’s by Nell Iris
  • Release Blitz Badlands by Morgan Brice
  • Release Day Blitz Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1) by JP Jackson
  • A Lucy Review: Nobody Else’s by Nell Iris
  • An Alisa Review: Challenge (Kinky in the City #2) by Quinn Ward
  • A Jeri Review: Wash Out (Anchor Point #7) by LA Witt
  • A MelanieM Review:  A Time For Secrets (Boystown #4) by Marshall Thornton

Tuesday. July 3:

  • BLOG TOUR TIGHT QUARTERS by Annabeth Albert
  • DSP Promo Rhett Heath
  • Release Blitz  Play it by Ear by KM Neuhold
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review:  Stranger in a Foreign Land by Michael Murphy
  • A MelanieM Review: Tight Quarters (Out of Uniform #6) by Annabeth Albert
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade
  • A Caryn Review: Finn (Endangered Fae #1) by Angel Martinez

Wednesday, July 4 (Happy Independence Day!) 🇺🇸

  • AUDIOBOOK TOUR – WITH A KICK Collection #1 by CLARE LONDON
  • Review Tour for  Rainbow Place (Rainbow Place #1) by Jay Northcote
  • REVIEW TOUR for Daniel (The Third Legacy) by RJ Scott
  • A Barb the  Zany Old Lady Review:  Daniel (The Third Legacy) by RJ Scott
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Rainbow Place (Rainbow Place #1) by Jay Northcote
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Treasure for Treasure (Being(s) in Love #7) by R. Cooper and Dominic Carlos (Narrator)
  • A Lucy Review: Play It By Ear by KM Neuhold

Thursday, July 5:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway:  Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister
  • BLOG TOUR fo My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick
  • DSP Dreamspun Promo Michael Murphy on Stranger in a Foreign Land
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Armistice (The Amberlough Dossier #2) by Lara Elena Donnelly
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review: Bromantically Yours by K.C. Wells and Narrator: Daniel Henning
  • An Alisa Review:  That’s My Ethan by Tarian PS
  • A MelanieM Review: Murder Book (Boystown 5) by Marshall Thornton

Friday, July 6:

  • Cover Reveal for Curl Around My Heart by Londra Laine l
  • Review Tour and Giveaway for Stag and the Ash (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #5) by Sam Burns
  • Review Tour for Spark (North Star #1) by Posy Roberts
  • Blog Tour for  Magic or Die (Inner Demons, Book One) by JP Jackson
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Stag and The Ash (Rowan Harbor Cycle #5) by Sam Burns
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay
  • A Stella Review: Spark (North Star #1) by Posy Roberts

Saturday, July 7:

  • BLITZ – Leaning Into the Look by Lane Hayes
  • Release Blitz for  Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay
  • A MelanieM Review: From the Ashes (Boystown #6) by Marshall Thornton

 

 

 

 

Release Blitz and Giveaway for Day Of Wrath (Taking Shield #5) by Anna Butler

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Length: 106,470 words
 
Taking Shield Series



Gyrfalcon (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Heart Scarab (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Makepeace (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Chains of Their Sins (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


In less than a week, Bennet will finally return to the Shield Regiment, leaving behind the Gyrfalcon, his father, his friends… and Flynn. Promotion to Shield Major and being given command of a battle group despite the political fallout from Makepeace the year before is everything he thought he wanted. Everything he’s worked towards for the last three years. Except for leaving Flynn. He really doesn’t want to leave Flynn.


There’s time for one last flight together. A routine mission. Nothing too taxing, just savouring every moment with the best wingman, the best friend, he’s ever had. That’s the plan.


Bennet should know better than to trust to routine because what waits for them out there will change their lives forever.

Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.


Website and Blog
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What Are Romance Don’ts For You? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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What Are Romance Don’ts For You…in Stories of course?

I’m always interested in what turns readers on, makes them keep searching out certain authors, certain types of stories and series.  The reverse is also true.  I’m curious to know whats the turnoff for readers.  What will kill a story faster than a full moon can make a were all fluffy?

I’m not talking about simple bad writing, paroxysms of purple prose (I sorta love those…I giggle away), and cardboard characters and unintelligible plots.  No I’m talking about something that while you are reading along, the book is going fine and all of a sudden, there it is.  The thing that has you going “nope, not reading further”, and you are done.

I have to admit the one I hear the most is that people don’t want their main characters to cheat.  At all. It doesn’t matter whether they haven’t even met the guy they are going to have their HFN or HEA yet.  They don’t want to see them with anyone else in the story.

These are readers who place a strict moral behavior line on their mcs and expect it to be adhered to.

Some readers  want light, sweet romances (which does not necessarily exclude depth in storyline or characters). Others place a limit on the amount of violence or types of sex or kink they may want in the novels. Do you exclude anything other than a typical M/M coupling from your reading lists?  Not judging, just curious.

And how much sex is too much?

I actually went to a couple of How to Write Romance sites to see if they addressed any of this and the answer is not really.One said not to have a sex scene in every  chapter.  Many recommended no instant love but to build it up gradually. Many said to learn how to write “good” sex scenes. Under one site with 5 Mistakes to Avoid with Romance novels:1

  • : Avoid immediate, total attraction between your story’s lovers (guess they never met Grindr or instant lust) Really

But specifics like cheating never come up.  That they leave up to each individual author and their  tastes.

I personally avoid novels that kill off the pets and other animals.  That’s one of my things (looking at you and that horse, Amy Lane).

One recent story that I gave low ratings to didn’t even introduce the one main character’s “true love” until the last couple of pages of the story.  For most of the book he was involved with a lovely intelligent man who most readers, including myself thought he would end up with, until surprise!  He runs off back to Canada leaving the nice guy in Scotland and us with our jaws on the floor.  Because there was no set up in the narrative and we had no idea who this person was.  Stunningly awful.

So while the mc’s don’t have to be together (letters written, two povs), I must actually know who he is. Smh.

And finally, if you have a narrative bugaboo, is there a author or book that convinced you or was so well written that they made you overlook it?

Write in and let me know….there might be gifts ahead for those that chime in.

 

 

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 24:

  • Book Blast Witchbane by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Review: A Time For Secrets (Boystown #4) by Marshall Thornton
  • What Are Romance Don’ts For You? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 25:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Daniel (The Third Legacy) by RJ Scott
  • Release Blitz – JM Snyder – Commanding Officer Thomas
  • Release Blitz – Speed Dating the Boss by Sue Brown
  • DSP Promo EJ Russell
  • An Alisa Review: Commanding Officer Thomas by J.M. Snyder
  • A Jeri Review: Something About You by Riley Hart
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Cash Plays (Seven of Spades #3) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Tuesday, June 26

  • Release Blitz – Spark by Posy Roberts
  • Release Blitz – Nic Starr’s Lies & Deception
  • My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick Release Blitz
  • Release Blitz and Exclusive Guest Post forJanice Jarrell’s Love’s Magic
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Lies & Deception by Nic Starr (
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Speed Dating the Boss (Cowboys and Angels #1) by Sue Brown
  • A MelanieM Releases Day Review: All That Glitters by Kate Sherwood

Wednesday, June 27:

  • Cover Reveal for  Second Chance Ranch (Montana #5) by RJ Scott
  • Kate Sherwood on All That Glitters (guest post)
  • Review Tour – Tarian PS – That’s My Ethan
  • Series Recap Blitz/Tour – RJ Scott – Montana Series
  • A Caryn Review: Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister
  • A Stella Review Home Skillet (Culinary Kings #1) by Cate Ashwood & Sandra Damien
  • A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Love Me Tomorrow by Ethan Day and Jason Frazier (Narrator)

Thursday, June 28:

  • Release Blitz – Believe (Skins #3) by Garrett Leigh
  • Release Blitz – Day Of Wrath (Taking Shield #5) – Anna Butler
  • Release Blitz for  Date Discovery by Quinn Ward
  • DSP Promo Nic Starr on LIes & Deception
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly
  • An Alisa Review: Jordan and the Secret Pack by Sam Magna
  • A MelanieM Review Learn with Me by Kris Jacen

Friday, June 29:

  • Review Tour – Love’s Magic by Janice Jarrell
  • Release Blitz – Sam Burn’s  Stag and the Ash
  • DSP Promo Louise Collins
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Unfit to Print by KJ Charles
  • A Caryn Review: Fourteen Summers by Quinn Anderson
  • A MelanieM Review: Love’s Magic by Janice Jarrell
  • A Lucy Audiobook Review: A Full Plate by Kim Fielding and Narrator: Kenneth Obi

Saturday, June 30:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Love Me Louder by Christina Lee
  • Release Blitz + Giveaway – A Dance For Two by Colette Davison
  • A Lucy Review A Dance For Two by Colette Davison

More June Romance. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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More June Romance

 

We are still merrily swinging along mid June with our romances and  finishing up with our Royals….recommendations of course!  Cheeky!  More below from our wonderful readers who came up with some simply great books for everyone to read. I put my own recs back in as well and hopefully by the end of the month will merge of all them into one big royal recommendation list for one and all.

I read and reviewed a story this week which fits in perfect with our romance theme, Made in Portugal by Ana Newfolk.  Two men, who had their first kiss as teenagers and best friends and then were abruptly separated for years meet once again when one returns to the land of his birth.  Its lovely, layered, and romantic.  I loved it.

Then  oddly enough, a series which is the antithesis of romance.  Gritty, noir, the sex impersonal, the mc often unlikable, and yet the writing is  so well done (as are the mysteries) you just have to keep reading…yes, that would be Marshall Thornton’s award winning Boystown Series.  What was thinking putting them here? I definitely need a Noir Month.

Do we even have enough LGBT Noir Books?

There’s a question for you!

But the sun is shinning on our romance stories, so let’s concentrate there.  More  stories to come as June contineues.  In the meantime.

Here is another winner of our Royal Recommendations Contest:  Purple Reader.  Please contact Stella for your gift card at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com

 

 

 

Royal Recommendations and Love Stories – Part II

 

Historical

Crofton Hall series by Rebecca Cohen (with some contemporary stories too)

Contemporary:

Wake Up Married Series by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths
Suddenly Yours by Jacob Z. Flores
Marriage of Inconvenience by M.J. O’Shea
The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom by Kate McMurray
First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony
Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker

Science Fiction:

Mate of the Tyger Prince series by Shannon West (shifter aliens, humans, mpreg)

Supernatural/Paranormal:

Mage of Inconvenience by Parker Foye

Fantasy:

The Gryphon King’s Consort by Jenn Burke

Purple Reader:

There’s already some good recs here. Like H.B., I don’t keep track of weddings in books, but I did remember a few that I thought were good … they aren’t all just about the wedding, but it does figure into the story:
– Fantasy:
THE LAST GRAND MASTER by Andrew Q. Gordon
THE LODESTAR OF YS by Amy Rae Durreson
THE ENGINEERED THRONE by Megan Derr
– PNR:
TRIED & TRUE by Charlie Cochet
GUNS N’ BOYS: HE IS MINE by K.A. Merikan
– Sci-Fi/Futuristic:
MY FAIR CAPTAIN by J.L. Langley (the original unless you want yours kink free then go for the 2018 version)
IMPERFECT MATCH by Price, Jordan Castillo
Oh, I thought of a few more, so why not add several to our list 🙂 … (again, good stories where even if it’s not all about the wedding, it plays a part):
– Historical:
INTO DEEP WATERS by Kaje Harper
DAYS WITHOUT END by Sebastian Barry
– Contemporary:
A MORE PERFECT UNION – Anthology by B.G. Thomas, Coatsworth, Fessenden, Michael Murphey
WILL & PATRICK WAKE UP MARRIED by Leta Blake
PIECE OF CAKE by Mary Calmes
THE HEART OF TEXAS, and TEXAS WEDDING by R.J. Scott
THE MARRYING KIND by Jay Northcote
– Mystery/Suspense:
CRASH & BURN by Abigail Roux
HERE COMES THE CORPSE by Mark Richard Zubro
ALOHA CANDY HEARTS by Anthony Bidulka
– Purple Reader, TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

From Ami:

TAMING GROOMZILLA by E.N. Holland (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6931204-taming-groomzilla)

and

SIX NECKTIES by Johnny Diaz (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35061750-six-neckties) which revolves around wedding and wedding preparation

Now on to this week at our blog!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 10:

  • A MelanieM Review: Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves
  • More June Romance. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, June 11:

  • SERIES REVIEW TOUR for Shoes and Ties by JENA WADE
  • BLOG TOUR George Loveland – Up In The Air #2: West Coast
  • Review Tour – Ari McKay – Blood Bathory: Absence of the Sun
  • A MelanieM Review: Ari McKay ‘s Blood Bathory: Absence of the Sun
  • A Stella Review: My Anti-Valentine (My Anti-Series #1) by DJ Jamison
  • A VVivacious Review: Flowers for the Gardener by Sharon Maria Bidwell
  • An Ali Review Behind the Lights (Social Sinners #1) by T.L. Travis

Tuesday, June 12:

  • Release Blitz Twenty-One Arrow Salute by Kasia Bacon
  • Release Blitz – George Loveland’s Up In The Air 2: West Coast
  • Review Tour –  Made In Portugal by Ana Newfolk
  • A Lucy Review: Whatever Comes First by MK Lee
  • A MelanieM Review: Made in Portugal (Made In #1) by Ana Newfolk
  • A Stella Review:  My Anti-Boyfriend (My Anti-Series #2) by D.J. Jamison
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review:  Staggered Cove Station (Coast Guard Rescue #1) by Elle Brownlee and Colin Darcy (Narrator)

Wednesday, June 13:

  • BLITZ – To Have and to Hold by Tamryn Eradani
  • DSP Promo Sean Michael
  • River City Tour (Other World Tour)
  • Release Blitz – Overtime by V.L. Locey
  • An Alisa Review:  Wrenching by Deirdre O’Dare
  • A MelanieM Review: Overtime (Cayuga Cougars #4) by V.L. Locey

Thursday, June 14:

  • TOUR INSIDE DARKNESS by Hudson Lin
  • Release Blitz – DJ Jamison’s My Anti-Marriage
  • A MelanieM Review: Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton
  • A MelanieM Review: Three More Nick Nowak Mysteries (Boystown #2)  by Marshall Thornton
  • A MelanieM Review: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries (Boystown #1) by Marshall

Friday, June 15:

  • Ardulum Series (Other World Tour)
  • Release Blitz Catch Me by Beth Bolden
  • Release Blitz Rainbow Place – Jay Northcote
  • A MelanieM Review:Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton
  • A Stella Review My Anti-Marriage by DJ Jamison
  • A MelanieM Review: ​Silent Hearts by Cameron D. James.

Saturday, June  16:

  • Blitz Tour (Lori)The Recruit by Addison Albright
  • A MelanieM Review: Murder Book (Boystown #5) by Marshall Thornton

 

Alan Chin on Writing, Early Influences and his new release Surviving Immortality (author guest interview)

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Surviving Immortality

by

Alan Chin
DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  DSP Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a

Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y9mefgad

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alan Chin here today on tour for his latest novel, Surviving Immortality. Welcome, Alan.  Thanks for sitting in our author’s interview chair today.

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Alan Chin 

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

All my characters come from aspects of my multifaceted personality. I pick and choose different characteristics based on the needs of the plot, but they all come from somewhere inside that gray area I call me. It’s one of the things I love about writing; I’m forced to explore different facets of myself.

  • Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Not entirely sure what you’re asking here. I feel that the only way to create a multidimensional, realistic character is to use my own life experiences to define the parameter of feelings and emotions and actions a character will encounter. My own life defines the only guidelines I have to create. Fortunately, I’ve had countless experiences over the last sixty-plus years to draw from and my memory is still sharp enough to recall them.

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

An old friend of mine, Victor Banis, once said he believed that I didn’t choose my stories, my stories choose me. I believe that is true of genre as well. Generally, story ideas knock about my head for years before I finally put pen to paper to scratch out some notes. During that phase I don’t give any thought to which genre to use.

For example, Surviving Immortality started with a question of which is more destructive, man’s greed or his lust for violence, and what happens when you pit those two traits against each other? That premise rattled around my brain for three years before I was ready to get serious about it. It grew in scope and intensity until I had a breakthrough moment of inspiration of how to present it. At first, I had no idea there would be a love interest for the protagonist, let alone where he would end up. I was too engrossed in staging the theme.

I seldom research ideas until I’m ready to start outlining. Once I’m into a story, I enjoy the hell out of digging deep to find the most interesting tidbits for the telling of the story. And I like to keep my stories as factual as possible, even in a fictional world. Once I’m absorbed in a story, information flies at me from all directions and from totally surprising places. It’s part of the fun of writing.

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

No. As a child and young adult, I hated reading. I didn’t take up reading until I was in my twenties, and I didn’t start writing until my fortieth year. I was a late start, but reading and writing grew into a love affair between me and books of all genres. Early on, I read general fiction almost exclusively. I started with the old masters. Lately, I’ve been reading mostly non-fiction and biographies. For the last few months I’ve been immersed in the French Revolution and Napoléon Bonaparte. A fascinating time and man.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Once I get hooked on the story and feel connections with the characters, nothing short of nuclear annihilation can keep me from working on it. Even when I’m not at my keyboard or writing notes, I’m always thinking about the story, examining, refining. I can’t wait to climb out of bed in the mornings to get started, usually before sunup. I’m afraid it’s become an overly obsessive passion.

With Surviving Immortality, it took me over a year to write the first longwinded draft. It took another year to edit it down into something I’m exceedingly proud of. In those two years, there were only a handful of days that I didn’t work on it in one way or another.

I do suffer emotional ties with my characters and sometimes that feels painful. But I also experience their joys and their confusion and a whole range of emotions I don’t experience in my non-writing life. And isn’t that why we read? To experience that wide range of feelings and ideas?

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I like whatever the plot dictates. What’s important, for me at least, is for the reader to experience emotional satisfaction. There is nothing more gratifying than coming to the end of a story and knowing why it ended the way it did, but also knowing that the ending fit, that it was, emotionally and intellectually, the most suitable outcome.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

As an adult, oh yes. Romance adds spice to any story. And for me, when it comes to spices, the hotter the better. Romance can make fools or heroes out of the most stable men and women. It adds pressure to any situation and gives us a truer idea of the character’s makeup. Nothing exposes a character’s internal being better than how he/she treats their love interest.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

There are so many. Colm Toibin and Marguerite Duras for their beautiful prose. Truman Capote for his vivid characters. Christopher Isherwood, Michael Cunningham and Evelyn Waugh for everything. I’m also a fan of Michael Crichton for his solidly entertaining storytelling. And of course, Annie Proulx for her brilliant short stories.

We are so lucky to live in a time where we have so many masters to choose from.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

You’d have to shoot me to pry my Kindle from my grip. I love it, especially when I travel. I generally travel three months at a time, and up to six months each year. Before ebooks, I loaded my luggage down with a dozen or more books. It was always a fight with my husband, who likes to travel as lightly as possible. Now I take hundreds of books, all on my Kindle. I love it and so does Herman.

Also, I’m getting older (I signed up for Medicare last month), and the larger print really helps. As much as I love hardbacks, ebooks are here to stay and I’m good with that.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

My publisher, Dreamspinner Publications, has a brilliant staff of artists. We exchange several emails delving into the stories characters, plot, themes, and they present me with several options. I’ve always been blown away by their talent to express ideas in images.

With Surviving Immortality, we agreed it was important to show a protagonist with the weight of the world on his shoulders, for indeed, the future of mankind pivots on his decisions. The first time I saw this cover, I knew they had nailed it. The whole universe is pressing down on him. I love it.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

My favorite is always the book I’m currently writing. In fact, I get so engrossed in my current work, that I have a hard time remembering the details of my previous stories.

Over the years my stories and characters have become more complex, and hence, more interesting, at least to me. I also feel that with each passing year, I become a better writer. It’s not what you write, it’s how you write it, and I feel I keep improving with each book.


  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I think there is a danger in making a character so complex that the reader will have problems relating to him or her. It’s great to give characters faults, but not just for the hell of it. A faulty trait is there for a good reason. It needs to be a vehicle that relates to the plot, and something the character can overcome or take advantage of in order to complete his or her arc.  

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

Loyalty. E.M. Forster once said: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” This, I believe goes to the heart of the protagonists I try to create, and it’s a trait my antagonists seldom display. I’ve always regarded loyalty to friends and loved ones as going beyond admirable to heroic. It represents the best qualities of mankind.

I’m drawn to people who, like me, are outsiders—people who don’t really fit in. These characters are varied: some don’t fit in because of sheer defiance, some because they are terrified of society, some are simply scandalous. There are some, like the protagonist in Surviving Immortality, who have such a high degree of integrity that they don’t fit in anywhere in a world tainted by corruption. Because outsiders are on the fringe of society looking in, they tend to have a much different viewpoint from the norm. They often see things more clearly. All my protagonists are outsiders, hence abnormal, sometimes painfully so. Fish out of water.  For me, it’s what makes them interesting.

  • 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?

No. As I said earlier, stories knock about my head for years. I don’t begin to write them until I’m so excited about them that I absolutely must write them. By then, there is no stopping until it’s complete.

  • 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?

I’m constantly dealing with my real-life issues in my work. I’ve always assumed that all writers do that.

  • What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

I won’t describe the scene because it is the crisis/conclusion of Surviving Immortality, and I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who chooses to read it. But trust me, it is one of the most chilling and exciting and heartbreaking and uplifting scene’s I’ve ever written. It’s a scene that may very well haunt a reader for a good long while. It did me.

 

  • 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.

Writing is hard work for me. So I tend to write early in the morning when I’m fresh and alert. I generally start writing at sunup and often work until lunchtime. That’s a little early for me to be drinking. <smile> However, many times I’ve had to work while suffering a horrific hangover, which is no fun at all. These days, I still like my glass or two of wine around dinnertime, but I’ve given up on the hard stuff. When you reach your mid-sixties, you’ll know doubt understand why.

 

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

I’ve travel to over sixty countries over the last twenty-five years, and I write most days when I travel. In all those places I’ve not once found a writing environment more suitable than my own office at home. Here in my workspace, I’m surrounded by the books I love and the quiet I need to concentrate. And even more important, my next cup of coffee is just down the hallway.

When it comes to a work environment, for me, less is better. I need quiet and internet access. And coffee, gallons of it, but that goes without saying.

  • 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 to first help me understand the world I live in, both my internal gray matter and the external world, and then to present my reaction to those two worlds. And yes, there is a lot going on. Surviving Immortality tackles, among other topics, the epidemic of gun violence in America, the buildup of weapons of mass destruction, and the issues that lead our politicians into corruption. It’s a very topical love story.

I don’t think there has ever been a better time to write. We have such a rich tapestry of culture to draw from. 

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

For the next several months I’ll be promoting my new release, Surviving Immortality.
About a month ago I completed the first draft of my next novel. I’m currently in editing mode on that project, and I suspect that will continue for the rest of the year. Not sure what 2019 will bring, but this year will be busy with those two projects.

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel, Surviving Immortality, is now available in paperback and any eBook format, at

Dreamspinner Press Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a

Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y9mefgad

This story is purely fictional and not based on real people or true events.

About Surviving Immortality

This is the story of the fountain of youth.

When Kenji Hiroshige discovers a formula that will keep people youthful and healthy for several thousand years, he tells the world he will not divulge his secret until every gun, tank, battleship, and bomb hasbeen destroyed. When the world is free of weapons, everyone can live forever. And then he goes into hiding.

Before he disappears, his son Matt Reece is exposed to the formula. Kenji takes Matt Reece on the run with him, but as they struggle to elude both government agencies and corporations who will do anything to profit from Kenji’s discovery, Matt Reece learns that world peace might not be his father’s only goal. But what can a young man who’s barely stepped foot off his isolated ranch do in the face of something so sinister?

This is the story of human greed and the lust for violence. It’s the story of a world on the brink of destruction, but it’s also a tale of one young man who finds in himself the will, courage, and compassion to stand against the darkness—both outside and within himself.

This is a story of hope.

About the Author

Alan Chin’s books explore spiritual growth through finding the right relationships. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, romance, Eastern religion, and the paranormal, his underlying focus is the power of love.

Alan is the author of nine novels, an anthology of short stories, and three screenplays.

Alan’s first novel, Island Song, won the 2008 QBliss Excellence in Literature award. His novels, The Lonely War and Match Maker won a total of five Rainbow Literature Awards. His book, The Plain of Bitter Honey is a 2014 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year finalist in the Science Fiction category.

Alan lives and writes half of each year at his home in Southern California, and spends the other half of each year traveling the globe with his husband, Herman Chin.

You can learn more about Alan Chin and his writing at: http://alanchinauthor.com or his blog: http://AlanChinWriter.blogspot.com  

Highlight Tour for Mercs by Dorian Dawes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Mercs!

Author: Dorian Dawes

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 4, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 72100

Genre: Science Fiction, sci-fi, military, gay, trans, aliens, space

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Famous bounty hunter Talisha Artul is not having a good day. A hostile alien planet full of bandits and refugees, an entire group of mercenaries all told to kill her and take her armor, and it’s barely even noon. All she wanted was to earn a paycheck and make her mother proud. They’ve barely shared a kind word since she came out of the closet as trans and took her mother’s name.

Now she’s travelling with an android cowboy with split-personality issues and an eight-foot-tall warrior woman to beat a group of vengeful pirates and the galactic federation’s military forces to uncover an ancient alien temple. Talisha soon learns that despite her legal standing, there is little that separates her from these marginalized cutthroats and outcasts. They’re all victims here, all pawns in their shadowy employer’s game.

Excerpt

Mercs!
Dorian Dawes © 2018
All Rights Reserved

“Were these seriously the best mercs you could hire?” The cigarette moved in the corner of Madame Inspector’s mouth as she spoke. She flicked her fingers across the pile of folders strewn across her desk. “Absolute rubbish.”

A little man with lily-white skin stood fidgeting with his spectacles in the doorway, clutching a briefcase close to his chest. Madame Inspector scared the living hell out of him. She liked it that way and would have smiled at his discomfort if she thought it’d make him squirm just a little bit more.

He took a tentative step, but she held a palm up and he froze where he stood. Good dog.

“Madame Inspector, I assure you they are highly qualified.” The overhanging lamp cast a glare over his glasses. “I’ve assembled before you the most dangerous individuals in the galaxy.”

Madame Inspector scowled, spreading out the files and pictures of each motley outcast passing themself off as a mercenary. “These bozos are more danger to themselves than anyone else, Mr. Snidely. Crooks and ruffians.”

“That’s why they’re perfect for the position,” Snidely said. He mustered up the courage to give her a wicked smile. “They’re completely disposable. Should be easy to turn them on one another when we’re done.”

Madame Inspector leaned back in her seat. She tapped the ashes of her cigarette into the tray and stared at him until his smile melted into open-mouthed fear. She said nothing, waiting for him to wither before the cold deadlights of her eyes.

“Mr. Snidely,” she said, a voice like gravel. “Not once have I witnessed one with as much audacity…or initiative. Good work. You’re dismissed.”

Snidely bowed his head and ducked hurriedly out of her office. She frowned as he left. The kid had gumption, ambition. They could be useful qualities in the right doses. She’d have to test him.

Archimedes IV, a war-torn rock populated by refugees and outlaws. It’d been deemed unfit for life by the Council of Thirteen following a resource war that’d decimated the planet and irrevocably altered the landscape. Some forests remained, having evolved to meet the harsh environmental conditions. The trees had become predators themselves, feeding off unwary travelers.

With its constant dangers and inhospitable environment, Archimedes IV had been abandoned by the Intergalactic Peacekeeping Federation, which made it the ideal location for all sorts of criminal scum to stash their ill-gotten gains. So long as they hid away in backwater filth, the law paid them no mind. It was out of their jurisdiction.

Talisha Artul had no jurisdiction. If the job told her to go, she’d go. The IGF had found her as reliable a resource as her mother. Abandoned science station deemed too dangerous to send in a full squad? Talisha was there with her arm cannon and jet pack.

Becoming a space-faring licensed bounty hunter had a few perks. The pay was decent—a huge bonus considering over half her funds were split between expensive hormone treatments and helping support her mother’s orphanage. Being able to traverse the galaxy and visit other worlds definitely ranked high on the list. Getting shot at on a daily basis was a minor drawback in comparison.

Reservations about this latest assignment scratched at the back of her mind as she sorted through the information provided to her on her tablet. An anonymous corporate employer had contacted her, leaving the legality of the assignment in question. She’d have to make a call to the appropriate channels to make sure her licensing fees had been taken care of. New information presented itself that she’d be assigned to a task force after previous assurances that she’d be working alone.

She threw the tablet against the ship console. “Shit!”

Talisha preferred working alone for multiple reasons. Silence kept her head clear and victory assured in any firefight. Other people introduced far more variables than she was comfortable with.

Maybe Mom would know what to do.

Talisha grabbed the headset from a compartment just above her and slipped it over her head. She made a sour expression at the tablet as she slumped back into her seat. A few moments later, her mother’s voice crackled into her feed.

“Talisha? Thought you’d be on-world by now,” Ms. Artul said.

“Mom, when is it okay to back out of an assignment?”

“Uh-oh. What happened?”

Talisha filled her in on the particulars of the assignment, making notes of the new last-minute information.

Her mother thought about that one for a while. “Your reputation is pretty strong right now. You could probably afford to back out.”

“What about you?” Talisha asked. “How’s the orphanage doing?”

“Expensive. Feels like there’s new orphans every day. People keep dying and leaving behind their little ones. This planet’s in need.”

“Do you have enough to make it through the month?” Talisha propped her elbows against the console and scratched the back of her neck with one hand.

Ms. Artul muttered under her breath in Swahili, then spat out, “Don’t you dare. If you don’t feel good about this mission, don’t take it.”

“You can’t order me around, Mom. I’m just being stubborn and paranoid…like you.”

“I wish you hadn’t called then.” There was a lengthy pause. “Fucking hell, kid.”

Talisha’s eyes watered. These were the types of conversations that drove people to drink. She gritted her teeth and pursed her lips, fingers shaking.

“I’m taking the job,” Talisha said, then threw the headset against the console.

Bluebird had seen her fair share of overcrowded dung heaps in her time—claustrophobic messes violating every single fire safety law in the galaxy; easy places to get stabbed and looted before you even had a chance to know what had happened. Folks in a hurry could trample your corpse without even noticing. By contrast, the spaceport on Archimedes IV was practically empty. A dumpster left at the back end of the long passage looked like it’d been overflowing for years. Shit and graffiti marred the walls, and it was nearly impossible to see through the teller’s window for all the grime and filth covering it.

Bluebird sniffed. She might come to like it there. Smelled just like home.

The poor terminal worker did a double take at her through the glass. “P-p-passport.”

By this point, Bluebird had become well accustomed to most people’s reactions to her appearance. She was proud of the severe scarring that marred one side of her face, the mark of a fine battle. Bluebird also knew that most people had never seen a Karstotzkiyan in their lives and were unaccustomed to seeing eight-foot-tall women with striking blue hair and hardened jowls. It’s where she’d gotten the nickname Big Ugly Bluebird. She liked it.

“Identification provided!” She slammed a meaty hand against the counter and slid a thick wad of papers through the slot beneath the window.

He stared at the mess of documentation and sighed. There were official licensing documents in the scattered heap to be certain, but there were also receipts to fast food joints, hair salons, old concert tickets dating decades back, etc. Bluebird grimaced, feeling a twinge of guilt. It’d take this poor man hours to sift through it all. She rummaged around in her pockets from some additional cash and deposited it atop the mess of documentation.

He sighed. He gulped, staring at the blue veins bulging beneath her thick muscles and the giant satchel strapped to her back. She did her best to give him a reassuring smile but was certain she only came across as even more imposing. Oh well, it couldn’t be helped.

He put a stamp on top the chaotic mess of pages and handed them back to her. “You know what, this is fine. Have a lovely stay on Archimedes IV.”

“You are most efficient. Thank you!” She gave him a thumbs-up and snatched the documents beneath her arm. She sauntered out the spaceport with a satisfied smile.

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Meet the Author

Dorian Dawes is a self-described social justice witch and full-time gender disaster who never grew out of their goth phase. In addition to fiction, they have also written for tabletop rpgs and several published essays on feminism and LGBT issues. When not writing they can be found playing video games and plotting the revolution of the proletariat.

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A Free Dreamer Review: Bane (Strain #2) by Amelia C. Gormley

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation. 

Rhys Cooper once thought he was a dead man. Instead, he’s proven immune to the virus that nearly wiped out humanity.

Now the Clean Zone’s scientists want to know why. Summoned for testing, Rhys is about to learn first-hand why his Juggernaut partner, Sergeant Darius Murrell, and the rest of his superhuman comrades in Delta Company don’t trust the uninfected survivors in the Clean Zone–or the remnants of the government that unleashed the epidemic in the first place.

For a decade, Zach Houtman has yearned for his lover, Nico Fernández, but fear of infection has kept them apart. Separately they keep tabs on the last vestiges of the corrupt government, particularly the head of the Clean Zone’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood seeks to unlock the secrets of the Bane virus. But Nico knows how dangerous Littlewood will be if that ever happens.

Zach and Nico now have the perfect bait to draw Littlewood out: Rhys. But Delta Company isn’t about to let Rhys walk into hell alone. They’ll take Littlewood down together, or not at all. Even if they succeed, however, for Zach and Nico one question remains: can infected and uninfected people ever be together safely?

Bane is the second and final installment in the Strain series. As such, it really doesn’t work as a stand-alone. I would recommend you to read the prequel “Juggernaut” as well. Both couples from book 0.5 and book one are back in “Bane” and I think you really need to get to know all four of them to really enjoy this book.

It’s been years since I read “Strain” but it’s a very memorable book and I absolutely loved it. It’s very, very different. “Bane” is much more mainstream. It’s still dark, but there’s no dubious consent. The sex scenes between Rhys and Darius are fewer and not as explicit as in book one. While I’m glad that Rhys has found his peace and is starting to feel more self-confident, I just kind of missed the spark I remember from book one.

Zach made me really angry at times. I kind of understood why he didn’t want to infect himself with the Alpha strain all those years ago. The whole “it’s God’s will” pissed me off. I thought it was really cruel of him to do this to Nico.

The author definitely knows how to write sex scenes. And while it is far tamer than book one, the sex was still really hot.

Once again, the book was incredibly addicting. I just could not put it down and it really had me emotionally invested. While I did have my issues with Zach, it’s always a good sign when I get so emotional over a character’s choices.

There were so many twists and turns and intrigues and secrets, it really had my head spinning. I really did not expect some of these things. I’m actually quite satisfied with the ending. I often have issues with how books end, but this really worked. It’s not exactly a HEA but it does leave you hopeful.

Overall, “Bane” is a great read. While it’s not quite as good as the first two books, I still really enjoyed it. It’s tamer and more mainstream, but still pretty good. If you liked the first two books, I’m sure you’ll like this one too.

The cover matches the other two in the series perfectly. It’s just as dark and creepy and gorgeous.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 240 pages

Published April 20th 2018 (first published September 19th 2015)