An Alisa Review: Laurent and the Beast (Kings of Hell MC #1) by K.A. Merikan

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
— Nothing can stop true love. Not time. Not even the devil himself. —

1805. Laurent. Indentured servant. Desperate to escape a life that is falling apart. 
2017. Beast. Kings of Hell Motorcycle Club vice president. His fists do the talking.

Beast has been disfigured in a fire, but he’s covered his skin with tattoos to make sure no one mistakes his scars for weakness. The accident not only hurt his body, but damaged his soul and self-esteem, so he’s wrapped himself in a tight cocoon of violence and mayhem where no one can reach him.

Until one night, when he finds a young man covered in blood in their clubhouse. Sweet, innocent, and as beautiful as an angel fallen from heaven, Laurent pulls on all of Beast’s heartstrings. Laurent is so lost in the world around him, and is such a tangled mystery, that Beast can’t help but let the man claw his way into the stone that is Beast’s heart.

In 1805, Laurent has no family, no means, and his eyesight is failing. To escape a life of poverty, he uses his beauty, but that only backfires and leads him to a catastrophe that changes his life forever. He takes one step into the abyss and is transported to the future, ready to fight for a life worth living. 

What he doesn’t expect in his way is a brutal, gruff wall of tattooed muscle with a tender side that only Laurent is allowed to touch. And yet, if Laurent ever wants to earn his freedom, he might have to tear out the heart of the very man who took care of him when it mattered most.
I generally don’t read biker books.  It’s a genre I’m not fond of at all but I like these authors and the time travel aspect sounded so unique I had to give it a try.   I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed this.  
The story is told is alternating points of view.  I liked this because we got to see what both Laurent and Beast were thinking.  They were very different men and their perceptions of each situation was totally different.  They start off not trusting each other but as the story goes on they start to slowly open up to each other.  
I thought both MC’s were really well done and I liked them both but for different reasons.  Beast was the tortured hero that you really want to see get a happy ending.  He struggled with his own self-esteem and it was wonderful to watch him as he starts to trust Laurent and open up to him.  Laurent was a little immature (as expected since he was very young) but overall he took the whole situation like a trooper.  He didn’t whine or complain and he made the best of a bad situation.  It was also a bit funny to watch him explore the present time and learn all about the things around him.  Their scenes together were both sweet and sexy.  The two men had great chemistry and I was really rooting for them the entire time.
The overall plot was a mystery of sorts and I loved the paranormal aspect.  There was a devil and a serial killer and a present day bad guy.  I liked the ending and was excited to see that there are more books planned in the series.  We meet all of the guys in this book and my interest was peaked for all of them.  
I thought this was unique and well done.  It had a bit of everything.  There was some action and adventure, some sexy times and a beautiful love story.  This is a definite recommend from me.
The cover was done by Natasha Snow and I loved it.  It’s got a great vibe to it and it really catches the eye.  It’s also a great representation of Beast.
Sales Links:  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 360 pages
Published April 29th 2017 by Acerbi & Villani ltd (first published April 2017)
ASINB071NCQZPZ
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesKings of Hell MC #1
CharactersLaurent Mercier, Kai

A Caryn Review: Urgent Care (Hearts & Health #3) by D.J. Jamison

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is the third in the Hearts and Health series by this author, and once again characters from the previous two books appear in minor supporting roles, but it is basically a stand-alone.  I think this was my favorite of the series, and I enjoyed it, but still not a book I’d put on my re-read list.

Both of the MCs are in the medical profession in this book.  Xavier James is a nursing student, a little older and with a lot more life experience that most of his peers.  Dr. Trent Cavendish was Xavier’s high school boyfriend, but he went on to college, medical school, and ultimately a career as a successful but workaholic surgeon.  When Trent’s best friend and fellow surgeon cracked under the pressure, it served as a wake up call to Trent, who took a good look at his life and where it was going and saw that it really held little meaning.  So he decided to go back to the beginning, back to his hometown of Ashe, Kansas, and gave up surgery to work in an indigent care clinic.  He and Xavier had been in love, but that blew up dramatically when Trent left town to go to school and Xavier stayed home to care for his family.  Though the men hadn’t spoken in 12 years, Trent still hoped that Xavier might be available to give him a second chance.

I really enjoy second chance stories, when you have the chance to reconnect with “the one that got away”.  And I think this one was well done – both men certainly had changed quite a bit, and matured, and with that actually were able to recognize why it ended so badly all those years ago.  The path back together required not only that they face those old truths (through wiser eyes), but also that they re-evaluate where they wanted to be, and how they wanted to get there.  The character development was much stronger in this book than the others in the series, and I ended up liking these men quite a bit better as well.  I also found Trent to be a much more sympathetic doctor than Paul in Bedside Manner.  As in the other books in the series, the medical details were pretty authentic – I had to laugh about the process of granting emergency privileges to Trent in the rural hospital.  I guess it could happen, but I couldn’t help thinking that any non-medical readers were probably wondering what all the fuss was about.

Overall, a decent read.  I haven’t read the rest of the author’s books set in Ashe, but I am sure fans of that series would enjoy this one as well.

Cover art works for branding the series and is more eye-catching.

Sales Links 

Buy on Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published May 4th 2017
ASINB0713YFW4T
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Hearts & Health:

A Kai Review: Anything For You (A Middleton Romance #1) by Ethan Day

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Rating: 3,5 stars out of 5
 
Jason Miller was still in the closet and didn’t see himself coming out anytime soon (or ever). He was accommodated with his situation and just the thought of what his parents, sister, and co-workers could say about his sexuality put him hiding everything he was from almost everybody.
He had never found a reason to kick the door open, walk into the light of day, and tell the world he was gay. At least that’s what he kept telling himself — along with a multitude of other solid arguments.
When Jason met Chad Wellington, an ex gay-rights activist/coming out guru, he was immediately attracted. Chad was the one thing Jason never saw coming and like a moth to a flame, these two opposites ignited.  Jason didn’t count with the feelings he started to have for Chad. He was in love for the first time. How could he give up on it? But Chad wouldn’t hide forever, so would he man up and coming out? Would he do it for Chad?
Well, guys, I started hating Jason in this book. He was a nonsense bitch guy. I didn’t pick up on the the real reason he was in the closet. I mean, his sister was an out and proud lesbian and his parents loved her anyway. So, what was his problem? He was a coward. And the worse was that he bitched at gay couples who were out, just because he wasn’t. Can you understand that? I know he was jealous, but it was irrational and even he knew it.
Thankfully after he met Chad he grew a little on me. He was yet a coward, but he was also funny and became nicer through the book.
I loved Chad and his power. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t shy about it.
When they first met I didn’t buy their connection. I felt like it had happened too fast. But along the story, I started cheering for them and connecting with them. Plus seeing them fighting for their relationship was great.
The story was centered around the coming out question and how it can affect a relationship.  I liked how it was written: fluid and with humor. I loved the funny parts, and I literally laugh out loud reading it.
Well, the only thing I really didn’t like about this book was how fast paced it was. I mean, it could have been more elaborate and a little more lengthy. I just wanted more. Lol
This book was a light, funny, and quick reading. It didn’t wow me or anything, but I really enjoyed it.
Sales Links  Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition
Published February 19th 2017 (first published March 13th 2011)
Original TitleAnything for You
ASINB06X1F3WM5
SeriesA Middleton Romance #1

An Alisa Review: The Acrobat (Blood Ties Book 1) by Agnes Moon and Kevan Houser (Translator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

The Acrobat is a professional thief with dozens of burglaries to his credit, but when he finds himself trapped in the enormous abode of a mysterious man, as seductive as he is lethal, he realizes that the police might not be the worst of evils. Vincent de Saint-Bonnet is incredibly rich, with many hidden secrets, and little will to live. A foul-mouthed little thief with magnificent blue eyes is just what he needs to bring some light back to his gray, long-drawn-out existence.

 

A thief looking for a valuable dagger, an antique dealer with hundreds of years under his belt, for whom the weapon represents an object of . . . inestimable value. Each man has a precise goal and nothing will stop him from reaching it. Not even the incredible attraction that grips them, pulling them into a duel, one fought with lies and seduction.

 

This is a wonderful story.  The Acrobat has been taking care of himself and a friend for years but when Vincent wants to keep him he doesn’t know if he should stay because of how he feels or run.  Vincent has been looking for his soul mate for a long time and is amazed when the foul-mouthed little thief throws his carefully balanced world off kilter.

 

Liam and Vincent can’t deny their attraction for each other but continue to keep secrets that hurt their relationship.  Vincent isn’t sure that he can ever forgive Liam for his betrayal but he can’t stop caring for him.

 

This book was originally written in Italian but translated by Kevin Houser and he did a great job.  The book flowed well without the choppy feeling or odd words that I have often seen in other translations.

 

This story was told from both characters’ points of view which allowed the reader to know what they were both thinking and the kinds of things they were scared to share.  Liam doesn’t know how to really trust someone and despite his instincts towards Vincent he easily assumes the worst and runs all while his heart is breaking.  Vincent is overjoyed to have Liam in his life but past mistakes and assumptions make it hard for him to forgive and see what is really going on.  I hope the series continues as indicated and I can’t wait to read about Boris and Mal.

 

The cover art is nice and gives good visuals of the main characters.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 209 pages

Published: February 19, 2017

Edition Language: English

Series: Blood Ties #1

A Jeri Release Day Review: Tied to You (Wild Side #2) by Riley Hart

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

I really loved this book. It isn’t some great piece of literature. It didn’t even vary much from other gay romance books. But what it did have was heart. A realness to it. It was genuine to me. And that made all the difference.

Miles is, for lack of a better term, the asshole of the group. He, Ollie and Chance have been best friends since they were in diapers. With Ollie’s boyfriend, Matt, they are a group of four that come hell or high water meet every Friday night. Just because they meet to hang out there every Friday night doesn’t mean that they have to go home alone.

Quinn takes Miles home on Friday night. And while it was supposed to be a one night thing, they spend the whole weekend together. Neither really wants a relationship- they just want to have a little fun. But of course they can’t stop thinking about each other.

Miles and Quinn both have some issues. BIG issues. But together they have some crazy chemistry that cannot be denied. Like, you had better have a fan handy when you are reading this book! Both could have very easily put up those stereotypical walls to keep others out. And they both do, sort of. But the walls seems to crumble easily with them. Neither has to fight the other to let them in.

One of my favorite things about this book was the playfulness between Miles and Quinn. They make each other laugh and smile. And the best part- is the playfulness before, during and after the super sexy times in the book. Someone told me once that if you can’t laugh with your partner while having sex- you’re with the wrong person. That has stuck with me for a long time and it was so evident with their relationship.

I also adored the relationship that Miles had, not only with his friends, but his parents. I loved seeing his friends give him a hard time about having a boyfriend, but also not holding back when he was being stupid. Because that is what real friends do!

Honestly, the only thing that left me wanting in the story was how Quinn flipped his attitude around. He is quite vocal about what an angry kid he was. And how that really prevented him from being adopted. And as an adult he is the guy who always looks for the bright side. A little delving into that would have been great.

This is book 2 in the Wild Side series and while I somehow missed book 1, I am going back to read it and I cannot wait for book 3.

COVER DESIGN: X-Potion Designs,COVER PHOTO: John Karrer,ARTWORK: Sarah Jo Chreene.  Sensual and eye-catching.

Sales Links

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

AMAZON CA

AMAZON AU

Book Details:

ebook, 239 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Riley Hart
ISBN139781386488583
SeriesWild Side #2

More Postcards from Leipzig and Free Dreamer. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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More Postcards from Leipzig and Free Dreamer

Last week we had our first look at F.D.’s trip to the Leipzip Book Fair.  This Sunday we pick up at our second of three installments of Free Dreamer’s Postcards from Leipzip ~ Book Adventures!  Next Sunday, we will wrap it all up and announce our winner as well.  Take it away, F.D.!

Day 2:

Welcome back to my adventures at the Leipzig Book Fair!

On Saturday, day two of our stay, we all had to go to the actual book fair together. Mandatory school programm. Which didn’t last too long, since we split up before we ever reached fair grounds. Me and my friends decided to grab breakfast at the main station. Food at the fair grounds is very expensive!
The tram to the fair grounds was packed full to the brim. So many people! I got lucky and was one of the first people to squeeze my way inside and actually managed to find a seat.
The Leipzig fair grounds turned out to be absolutely beautiful. There was even a big pond with a beautiful fountain right in front of the building. The weather was lovely, so it made for really pretty pictures.
Since the tram ride had taken longer than expected, we of course ended up being slightly late. Me and two friends had decided to listen to a dicussion about queer literature. Luckily my two friends knew where to go, otherwise I would have gotten completely lost. The entrance hall is huge, but it was packed full of people. All in all, there were five or six giant halls occupied by the book fair and every single one was packed.
We arrived just in time. The discussion was unexpectedly popular, so we ended up sitting on the floor because all the seats were long taken. The discussion was led by the manager of the “Quer Verlag”, Germany’s first publisher for gay and lesbian literature,  a gay romance author and a writer and journalist for lesbian and feminist literature. The three of them talked about what actually counts as “queer literature”. The guy from the Quer Verlag and especially the journalist seemed to think that gay romance should not be considered “queer literature” as its target audience and its authors are heterosexual women and not queer people. I absolutely don’t agree with that assessment, personally. I’ve never cared about an author’s sexual orientation. I’ve only ever cared about the sexual orientiation of their protagonists. It made me sad and angry to see m/m romance being discriminated and belittled. I think a large part of that is due to it being romance, which is still not  a very respected genre here.
They also talked about troubles with marketing and how mainstream bookshops never seemed to know where to put queer literature books and how mainstream publishers never mention the word “gay” or “lesbian” in authors’ bios or book blurbs. While I do work in a mainstream bookshop, I can’t say I have any experience with either queer publishers or mainstream publishers with queer titles. If we’ve ever had such titles in stock, I wasn’t aware of it.
One of my friends got so annoyed with the discussion that she up and left in the middle of it. She’s proof that not all readers (and writers) of m/m romance are straight. She’s a lesbian and totally addicted to the m/m genre.
After this rather infuriating and fruitless discussion, I stayed on with my one remaining friend to listen to a discussion about All Age books. After the participants all seemed to agree that TV series are a good substitute for books and consequently kept talking about Gilmore Girls, I decided to leave this discussion. I’ve never liked Gilmore Girls and found the whole discussion rather boring.
While wandering the hall, I met some classmates. I ended up touring the hall with one of them and buying 28 postcards to satisfy my postcard-addiction. Since noon was fast approaching, we decided to get lunch. We ended up sharing fries and sun bathing outside for a bit. Which led to me almost being late to a reading by Brandon Sanderson. At least that’s what it said in the program. The “reading” turned out to be an interview, which was interesting too, but not what I’d expected.
Since it was all over faster than expected, I decided to go to the meeting of the German book forum I joined years ago. I’ve been an active member there for 8 years now and I’ve met a few great people. Surprisingly enough, I managed to find to find the meeting point without too much trouble, even though my sense for directions is usually utterly awful. Once there, lots of hugging and book and postcard signing ensued.
After that was over and done with, I decided to take a look at the remaining halls. I found a few interesting books but was too shy to beg for free copies. Instead I took pictures and begged for a free copy from the safety of my work place by writing an e-mail. Some of my classmates were a lot less shy. My two temporary roommates each snagged a whopping twelve free books each!
I left the fair around 5.30, since I was exhausted and hungry and had agreed to another forum meeting at 6.30. I would have made it easily, had it not been for my awful sense of direction making me take the wrong exit and wandering around for half an hour to find the tram stop, which was on the opposite side of where I’d exited the building. Once I’d finally found it, everybody was trying to go back to the city and I had to wait at least 30 minutes till I actually managed to squeeze onto on of the trams. It was ludicrous!
The meeting/dinner was very nice and I met a few wonderful new people. I left early, though, since I wasn’t sure how to get back to our dump of a motel and was worried I’d miss the last bus there.
On the tram back, I met my teacher and she asked me how I was planning to get back home tomorrow. That left me a little confused, since I had been planning to take the train with her and my classmates.
If you want to know how I made it back home without a train ticket and how a bra that didn’t belong to either me or my roommates ended up on our door, then check back next week for the conclusion of my Book Fair Adventures.
    —-   Free Dreamer

📚Free Dreamer Book Fair Adventures Blog Giveaway📚

Have any questions for Free Dreamer? Leave them here along with your email address.  Random reader will be picked to win a $10 gift cert in the Free Dreamer Book Fair Adventures Blog Giveaway.  It ends 5/5  at midnight.  Have you been to a book fair? Met your favorite author?   Do you want to know what was Free Dreamer’s favorite part of her book fair experience was or what books she brought home?  Write in and leave a comment!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, April 23:

  • More Postcards from Leipzig and Free Dreamer.
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, April 24:

  • Blog Tour: Heir of Locksley by N.B. Dixon
  • Cover Reveal for Unsteady by Melissa Collins
  • Release Blitz – Rick R Reed’s Unhinged
  • Tour – Clare London ‘s A Good Neighbour
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Fishy Riot by Lindsey Black
  • A Ali Audiobook Review: Signs of Life (Resilient Love #2) by Melanie Hansen and Robert Nieman (Narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Pre Release Review: Risky Behavior by LA Witt and Cari Z

Tuesday, April 25:

  • BLOG TOUR See My Words by Melanie Hansen
  • BLOG TOUR Solid Ground by Jeff McKown
  • Release Blitz & Review Tour – By The Numbers – RJ Scott
  • A Jeri Release Day Review:  Darkest Hour Before Dawn (THIRDS #9) by Charlie Cochet
  • A Kai Audiobook Review: Add Love and Mix by Sean Michael and Steve Balderson (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Review: Shelter the Sea by Heidi Cullinan
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: The Necromancer’s Dance (The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #1) by S.J. Himes and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Wednesday, April 26:

  • Cover Reveal for Ellery Mountain 1,2 & 3 – RJ Scott
  • Review Tour – Starting From Scratch (Housemates #5) by Jay Northcote
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Thaw by Elyse Springer
  • A Julia Review: Thaw (Seasons of Love #2) by Elyse Springer
  • A Kai Release Day Review: Kissing Lessons (Before… and After #2) by Susan Laine
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Olive Juice by TJ Klune
  • A Stella Release Day Review:  Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary’s Boys #2) by Brandon Witt

Thursday, April 27:

  • DSP GUEST POST BA Tortuga on Best New Artist
  • DSP GUEST POST Lindsey Black on Fishy Riot
  • Release Blitz Silvia Violet – Well-Tailored
  • Release Day Blitz: Tied to You by Riley Hart
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Tied to You by Riley Hart
  • A Julia Review: The Rest is Illusion by Eric Arvin
  • An Alisa Review: The Acrobat (Blood Ties Book 1) by Agnes Moon and Kevan Houser (Translator)
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Never Lose Your Flames (New Canadiana #1) by Francis Gideon and Kevin Chandler (Narrator)

Friday, April 28:

  • DSP GUEST BLOG Marguerite Labbe on Pandora
  • DSP Publications GUEST POST: Amy Lane on Quickening, Vol. 1
  • Release Day Tour:  Unsteady by Melissa Collins
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Personal Challenges by KC Wells
  • A Julia Review: Realm of Passion by Courtney Breazile
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Best New Artist by BA Tortuga
  • An Ali Review: See My World by Melanie Hansen

Saturday, April 29:

  • Release Blitz – Laurent and the Beast by KA Merikan
  • A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Sharp Shooter Tokyoite by Charlie Godwyne

Adventures From Leipzig – Postcards from Free Dreamer Part I. This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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As promised, we are starting to post Free Dreamer’s adventures at the book fair.  We had a small teaser a short while ago.  But now let’s delve into Free Dreamer’s journey to Leipzig and her book adventures!

Adventures From Leipzig – Postcards from Free Dreamer

After a very bumpy ride on the night train from Vienna we finally arrived at Leipzig main station, early on Friday morning.Despite the early hour, the train station and the tram stops in front were very busy. Lots and lots of people arriving by train and taking the tram to the book fair.
We took the tram to our “hotel”. Oh boy, what a dump. It wasn’t a hotel but a camping site, with three of us sharing a bungalow each. It was freezing and tiny and the wireless didn’t work. We were collectively Not Pleased.
After we’d checked in and stored our luggage, my teacher made us go to a printing museum. We printed our own postcards, which was fun. And then an employee showed us one old and two really antique presses. It was really interesting to watch him work. Other than that, the museum was a bit dull and not very exciting.
Luckily, we got the rest of the day off and got to do whatever we wanted. Me and my three classmates went back to the main station. First, we explored the shops a bit. German products tend to be cheaper than those in Austria and there are some you can only get in Germany. I was getting really excited, because it wasn’t long till Brandon Sanderson, my absolutely most favourite author of all times would hopefully sign my books. So we decided to check out the book store that hosted the signing. Since nobody was around yet and we were all starving, we found food at the Pizza Hut next door. Another new experience for me, since there are no Pizza Huts in Austria.
For those of you who don’t know Brandon Sanderson: He’s an American Fantasy and SciFi author. I’ve been a fan of his works for many, many years and never thought I’d ever be lucky enough to meet him in person. Not all that many international authors ever make it to Austria.
When I got back to the shop, there was already a very long line of people waiting to have their books signed. I was so nervous and excited. I ended up standing in line for about 45 minutes. Luckily, the woman in front of me was very talkative and we had an interesting chat. A group of three showed up in cosplay, dressed as characters from “Way of Kings”. They were kind enough to pose for pictures.
And then I could see HIM. I wanted to squeal in excitement but held myself back. I was so thrilled. I had six books of his with me. And he signed every single one of them. For “Elantris”, he drew a little city map. Some of the others got a little quote from the book. And all of them got a “for Miriam”. I was happy beyond imagination.
He wanted to know if I had any questions for him. I was too excited to come up with anything good. But then I asked him why he didn’t come to Vienna and complained that I had to bring six (not exactly light) books all the way from Vienna by night train. First, he laughed and said, “Well, I flew over Vienna when I came here!” And I just thought to myself that that wasn’t very useful… Then he started to give me this speech about how a book shop had to contact his agent and invite him and so on. I cut him off. (Yes, I cut off my absolutely most favourite author!!) I explained that I’m a bookseller and that I’m aware of the procedure. And that my employer HAD invited him. He listened patiently and then gave me hope. Once he gets invited somewhere, he always visits, sooner or later. Then I posed for a picture with him and when I left, he said, “Thank youf or being a bookseller!” I was thrilled beyond words. *.*
After that amazing experience, I met up with my friends again, who are horribly ignorant people who’ve never read anything by Brandon Sanderson, even though I repeatedly told them how awesome he is. We wanted to go to the Fantasy night hosted by a German publisher. On the way there, we got horribly lost and ended up being half an hour late. Since Brandon Sanderson and two famous German Fantasy authors were there, the place was packed and we couldn’t even get into the main room anymore. We had to sit in a side room, with no view of the stage and could only listen to the three of them talking. The interview wasn’t done very well. Half the stuff wasn’t translated or was lost in translation, since Sanderson doesn’t speak German. It ended up being a rather dull affair and we left after a short while.
The day had been long and the night even shorter, so we found our way back to our dump. It was a little creepy at night. It was in the middle of a forest and not very well lit. Apparently those houses are a favourite hiding place for spiders. My two friends got rid of a huge, hideous spider, while I hid out on my bed. I think we killed five or six spiders that night. It was really rather disgusting. *shudders*
If you want to hear how we survived the night in the spider-infested dump and what Germans have to say about queer literature, check back next week.

📚Free Dreamer Book Fair Adventures Blog Giveaway📚

Have any questions for Free Dreamer? Leave them here along with your email address.  Random reader will be picked to win a $10 gift cert in the Free Dreamer Book Fair Adventures Blog Giveaway.  It ends 4/29 at midnight.  Have you been to a book fair? Met your favorite author?   Do you want to know what was Free Dreamer’s favorite part of her book fair experience was or what books she brought home?  Write in and leave a comment!

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, April 16:

  • Adventures From Leipzig – Postcards from Free Dreamer
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, April 17:

  • Book Blitz September by Robert Winter
  • Cardeno C on the Mates series + Giveaway
  • DSP GUEST POST Tali Spencer on Breaking the Ice
  • Release Blitz & Review Tour – Moments – RJ Scott
  • Review Tour – Goodnight My Angel by Sue Brown
  • A Caryn Review:  Goodnight My Angel by Sue Brown
  • A Julia (or Stella) Prerelease Review: The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
  • A MelanieM Review Tour: Moments by RJ Scott

Tuesday, April 18:

  • DSP GUEST POST RK Staunton
  • HARMONY INK PRESS GUEST POST Nikolai Joslin on Cold Front
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Wake Up Call by JL Merrow
  • A MelanieM Review:  Imagines (Imago #2) by N.R Walker
  • A Stella Review: Wake Up Call (Porthkennack #1) by J.L. Merrow
  • An Alisa Review: Beneath the Layers Anthology
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Lord Mouse (Lords of Davenia #1) by Mason Thomas and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Wednesday, April 19:

  • Blog tour Shelter The Sea by Heidi Cullinan
  • Blog Tour Beneath the Layers Anthology
  • Fierce by Rob Rosen 2 week blog tour
  • Review Tour – N.R Walker – Imagines (Imago #2)
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:  A Day Makes by Mary Calmes
  • A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Fierce by Rob Rosen
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Breaking the Ice by Tali Spencer

Thursday, April 20:

  • Blog Tour: Falling for Him by CL Mustafic
  • DSP GUEST POST Andria Large on From War to Forever
  • Review Tour – Snap Shot by V.L Locey
  • RIPTIDE TOUR A Gathering Storm by Joanna Chambers
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: A Gathering Storm (Porthkennack #2) by Joanna Chambers
  • A MelanieM  Audiobook Review: Rough Edges by Cardeno C. and Kevin Chandler (Narrator)

Friday, April 21:

  • Blog Tour Drama Queens With Love Scenes by Kevin Klehr
  • Book Blitz Sound of Us by A.M. Arthur
  • DSP GUEST POST KC Burn on Just Add Argyle + Giveaway
  • Release Blitz & Giveaway:  Clare London’s  A Good Neighbour
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Just Add Argyle (Fabric Hearts #3) by K.C. Burn
  • A MelanieM Review: Wave Goodbye to Charlie by Eric Arvin
  • A Stella Review: Falling for Him by CL Mustafic
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: The Imperfection of the Swans by Brandon Witt and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

Saturday, April 22:

A MelanieM Review: Wytch & Prinze by Kassandra Lea

 

Hello April! New Beginnings and Reviewers at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Hello April

April has arrived and with it new arrivals at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  We have been looking to add new reviewers here and have been very lucky to have two new people recently join us.  What a great way to sail into April!  In addition, we have a preview of a reviewer blog from Free Dreamer and two giveaway announcements too.  And no, there’s no April’s Fools Jokes to be found anywhere!   Far too busy for such sass!

New Beginnings Announcements ~ New Reviewers!

We have another new reviewer starting at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Please welcome Kai, another international member of our family.  You’ll be hearing from Kai in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime,  here’s a short bio from Kai herself:

Meet Kai

Hey guys, I’m a Brazilian college student, living in São Paulo with my crazy sister.
 When I’m not in class or working, you can always find me reading.
I love to read, reaaally love. Actually, I’m a little obsessed: I can’t go anywhere without something to read – thank God for the e-readers.
I used to read a lot of mystery, classics, adventure, fantasy, but my favorite kind of book always was romance [what I can say? I’m a romantic kind of girl]. I found out about mm romance last year, by accident.
I was reading a series by Aly Martinez and the second book is a mm called “The Spiral Down (The Fall Up, #2) “. I read it and liked so much that I needed more. Then I found “HIM” by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen [one of my favorites since then]… After that, I become definitely a fan of mm books. Now I’m a crazy fan. I’m so in love with this genre that I almost never read m/f anymore.
 
I also love to travel, play board games with my friends and write short stories. I wrote a lot of short stories, so far just in Portuguese and just for fun, but who knows? One day I can become a super author with a movie based on my book. hahaha
 
I like to read my books with low angst, sweet and romantic story, hot scenes[I’m only human] and remarkable characteres. Hope to find more and more books like that to read. I’m always searching and, of course, recommendations is welcome. 🙂
With the addition of Kai this week, and Julia , in Austria along with F.D.,  in early March, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is very international in our outlook! Do you know who else here lives abroad? Check out our reviewer bios! Our perspectives from all over certainly give us a wonderful international slant when it comes to reviews, books, cultures and locations for book settings!

Our Reviewer Adventures!

📚F.D. also known as Free Dreamer just finished attending a book fair in Leipzig, Germany.   I asked her to give us her impressions on the fair, meeting authors and some of the LGBT book offerings there.  Keep your eyes open for that reviewer blog coming up soon!  Here is your teaser from Free Dreamer from her upcoming blog:
As some of you may know, I earn my living as a bookseller. I’m an apprentice bookseller, to be exact. That means I go to vocational school twice a week to learn the theory behind the art of bookselling. 😉 That also means I get to go on awesome book-related school trips.
Last weekend, we went to the big book fair in Leipzig, Germany. That’s about 8 hours by train from Vienna, where I live and work. We met up late on Thursday night to catch the night train to Leipzig. Me and five of my classmates shared a compartment. Six cots in a tiny compartment, with six excited young women and a very bumpy ride… You can imagine how much sleep we all got! The train ride was definitely an adventure. At times it felt like I was about to slide out of my cot. When we were woken at around 6am, we had half an hour before we had to get off the train. Well, that certainly wasn’t enough. When we arrived at our destination, I was still missing a sock and wearing my pj top… And when I unpacked my handbag while looking for my wallet to buy breakfast at the train station, my phone was gone! Luckily the train was still at the platform and I found my phone in no time at all…
If you want to know more about my adventures in Leipzig and find out how I felt meeting my favourite author ever, then check back next week for a more detailed account of my misdeeds.
F.D.
I can just imagine her excitement! What a trip that must have been!  I’ll be reading her adventures along with all of you.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Giveaway Announcements

 

📚Free Dreamer Book Fair Adventures Blog Giveaway.

Have any questions for Free Dreamer? Leave them here along with your email address.  Random reader will be picked to win a $10 gift cert in the Free Dreamer Book Fair Adventures Blog Giveaway.  It ends 4/22 at midnight.  Have you been to a book fair? Met your favorite author?   Do you want to know what was Free Dreamer’s favorite part of her book fair experience was or what books she brought home?  Write in and leave a comment!
 📚Winner of our Wild Unpredictable Love Giveaway was H.B.  H.B.’s list of books?  H.B. had 2 on their list I hadn’t heard of and will now be tracking down (Broken in Silence and Grayson).  The other 3 are already firm favorites of mine.  H.B., Stella will be in contact with you about your certificate! Congratulations!
H.B.’s list:
ePistols at Dawn by Z.A. Maxfield
Broken in Silence by Katze Snow
Beta Test by Annabeth Albert
Connection Error by Annabeth Albert
Grayson by Morgan Campbell 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

Sunday, April 2:

  •  Hello April! New Beginnings and Reviewers at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Alina Popescu’s Free Books for Five Days Giveaway Announcement!

Monday, April 3:

  • Release Blitz for Lillian Francis’ Renaissance
  • Release Blitz and Giveaway: An Unexpected Shot by Caitlin Ricci
  • Release Blitz for Who I am When I’m with You by Tamryn Eradani
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Plaid Versus Paisley by KC Burn
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: The Android and the Thief  by Wendy Rathbone

Tuesday, April 4:

  • DSP GUEST POST Julia Talbot on Just a Cowboy
  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: Home Fires (Common Law #4) by Kate Sherwood
  • An Ali Review:  Home Fires (Common Law #4) by Kate Sherwood
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Witches For Hire by Sam Argent
  • A Paul B Release Day Review: Micah Johnson Goes West (Get Out #2) by Sean Kennedy

Wednesday, April 5:

  • DSP GUEST POST Bru Baker on Tall, Dark, and Deported
  • Book Blitz: Broken Bastard by A.L. Simpson
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Leap of Faith by Jackie Keswick
  • An Alisa Review: Broken Bastard (Broken #1) by A.L. Simpson
  • A Melanie Release Day Review: Joy (States of Love) by C.S. Poe

Thursday, April 6:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR & Giveaway: Don’t Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch
  • DSP GUEST POST: Wendy Rathbone on The Android and the Thief
  • Blog Tour for The Rainbow Clause by Beth Bolden
  • Review Tour:  Lillian Francis’ Renaissance
  • A Stella Review: Renaissance by Lillian Francis
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Don’t Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch
  • A VVivacious Review: Norwegian Woody (Let it Beatle #4) by J.D. Walker (

Friday, April 7:

  • Release Blitz and Giveaway for Snap Shot by V.L Locey
  • DSP GUEST POST Jackie Keswick on Leap of Faith
  • Release Blitz and Giveaway:  Stories From Sapphire Cay Vol 2 – RJ Scott & Meredith Russell
  • Release Blitz and Giveaway: Take a Chance by Megs Pritchard
  • Review Tour – Annabelle Jacobs – Bitten By Design
  • A MelanieM Review: Bitten by Design by Annabelle Jacobs
  • A Stella Review: Forged in Trust (Bay Area Professionals #4) by Mickie B. Ashling

Saturday, April 8:

  • A MelanieM Review:Skim Blood and Savage Verse (Offbeat Crimes #3) by Angel Martinez

A Lila Review: Enemy Within (The Executive Office #3) by Tal Bauer

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The White House, infiltrated.
The president, running for his life.
A traitorous general, intent on burning the world to the ground.

When everything falls apart, who do you trust?

President Jack Spiers fled Washington DC on the heels of a devastating attack on CIA headquarters, masterminded by one of America’s own, former General Porter Madigan. While the world believes Jack was killed in the bombing, he embarks on a wild infiltration mission, smuggling himself into occupied Russia to rescue the love of his life: former Secret Service Agent and First Gentleman Ethan Reichenbach.

Reunited, Jack, Ethan, and deposed Russian president Sergey Puchkov, along with President Elizabeth Wall—the only person left in Washington DC who Jack trusts—must work together. They piece together a desperate plan, hunting Madigan to the ends of the earth and the bitter frigidity of the Arctic, where Madigan’s world-shattering doomsday plan comes together.

Outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outgunned, Jack, Ethan, Sergey, and the rest of the team struggle to put a stop to Madigan and his army. In the desolate extremes of the Arctic, their resolve, their strength, and even their love is tested, pushed to the absolute limits as choices must be made: choices that pit the fate of the world against the love in their hearts, and the loves of their life.

As the world crumbles around them, Jack and Ethan find themselves waging a war on two fronts—against an enemy they can see, and another, hiding within their ranks.

Who can be trusted when the enemy is within you?

Enemy Within is more than one book. It’s a romance series following three couples. A political thriller, studying the tights between two former enemy countries. A history lesson with a speculative edge. It’s filled with intrigue, angst, hope, policies, friendships, psychological profiles. All, wrapped up to bring a coherent story with a single purpose, entertainment.

I normally read the whole book before I start writing the review, but in this case, it’s not possible. I’m thirty percent into the story and it feels as if I had read several books. We started shortly after the end of Enemy of my Enemy, without losing a step. Within the first pages, the major players are introduced, and the plot arcs set.

The changes between settings are well-documented at the beginning of each chapter and the frequent POV changes extend the complexity of the story, without hindering the connection with the characters. Our feelings, as readers, are drag through the mud of the Siberian wilderness and brought back into redemption. I’m sure this is going to happen many other times before I reach the end.

Yes, I did skim thru some of the prose and descriptions looking for more dialogue and less introspect, but the overall combination of elements worked for this series. With this marking the end of the road, the POV changes and the high amount of settings are easy to follow. And all the fight scenes and high action drama read as a contemporary Hollywood movie–a combination between the Bourne movies and Behind Enemy Lines.

At the moment, I had hit a moment of calm and had to stop by to highlight the balance between the love stories and the political mayhem bringing all the characters together. In any other book, this would be considered the last turn before the end, but is this story, is just one of many of false assurance they would face.

On the second segment, we still see all the action, but the love stories take precedent. We get into the heart of the series and all the ramifications Jack’s & Ethan’s relationship created. There’s a chance to the ghost of an HEA for all involved, but it’s, as expected, just a specter–hopes for closure and a deserved future. It’s going to be a mix of awws and angst.

There’s an intersection point with the ending of Enemy of my Enemy and as I mentioned in that review, not something I liked then, or now. But it was a necessary evil to advanced one of the many plots/romance arcs forward. I just stopped in the middle of it to take a break and let you know what’s happening.

I think I’m changing my mind. This story is more of an espionage tv series. The only difference is the bromance between the main characters is, in this case, a true romance. I feel like I’m reading different chapters of an overall plot. Perhaps that’s the reason I feel the need to write my review as I read. It’s like watching with a friend and chatting before starting the next DVR episode.

After way too many action scenes, I can finally say that some light is coming out. The unmasking of the moles that had carried during all three books was well-done, even when a bit telling. The fights, the overseas, underseas, and everywhere in-between settings added character to the story. A sense of suspense disbelief, enough to engross the reader and making them want to read faster. At points, it was hard to follow who was fighting who and how the movements worked, but all melted together at the resolution.

If you started reading looking for realism, this is not your story, but if you believe in the power of fiction, go ahead, and read. I’m so close I can smell the fuel and the HEA.

But before that, we have to dip into American Politics. If you’re a political junkie, like me, you will enjoy the number of similarities to our date-to-date politics. The book was written ahead of its time, but can be part of any late-night news broadcast.

The last part of the book, with the end result and the future for the couples, are beautiful. We get to see how they grow into their relationships and their hopes for the future. We get multiple happy endings, with a nice closure for all the alternative arcs, but there’s always a chance for more or a spinoff. Not necessary, but enough to bait the readers.

In the end, reading this series is worth all the time it takes. It’s long, but now that all the books are out, it would be a great time to read it in its totality.

The new covers for this series, by Natasha Snow, are interesting, but a bit generic. I do like them better than the original ones, though. Plus, they bring all the books together nicely.

Sale Links: AmazonNook | Smashwords

Book Details: 

ebook, 445 pages
Published: March 28, 2016, by Tal Bauer Publishing

ISBN: 9781310458163
Edition Language: English

Series: The Executive Office
Book #1: Enemies of the State

Book #1.5: Interlude: First Noel

Book #2: Enemy of My Enemy

Book #3: Enemy Within

Release Day Blitz: Enemy Within by Tal Bauer (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Enemy Within

Series: The Executive Office, Book 3

Author: Tal Bauer

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: 3/28/2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 176K

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

The White House, infiltrated.
The president, running for his life.
A traitorous general, intent on burning the world to the ground.

When everything falls apart, who do you trust?

President Jack Spiers fled Washington DC on the heels of a devastating attack on CIA headquarters, masterminded by one of America’s own, former General Porter Madigan. While the world believes Jack was killed in the bombing, he embarks on a wild infiltration mission, smuggling himself into occupied Russia to rescue the love of his life: former Secret Service Agent and First Gentleman Ethan Reichenbach.

Reunited, Jack, Ethan, and deposed Russian president Sergey Puchkov, along with President Elizabeth Wall—the only person left in Washington DC who Jack trusts—must work together. They piece together a desperate plan, hunting Madigan to the ends of the earth and the bitter frigidity of the Arctic, where Madigan’s world-shattering doomsday plan comes together.

Outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outgunned, Jack, Ethan, Sergey, and the rest of the team struggle to put a stop to Madigan and his army. In the desolate extremes of the Arctic, their resolve, their strength, and even their love is tested, pushed to the absolute limits as choices must be made: choices that pit the fate of the world against the love in their hearts, and the loves of their life.

As the world crumbles around them, Jack and Ethan find themselves waging a war on two fronts—against an enemy they can see, and another, hiding within their ranks.

Who can be trusted when the enemy is within you?

Excerpt

The sounds of the convoy coming alive in the frosty morning started clattering through their patch of snowy forest. Grumbled Russian, slamming doors and squeaky metal hinges, the crackle of logs in a fire, and the clang of pots and pans that Vasily insisted on bringing from Volga.

Jack nuzzled at Ethan’s neck, and the roughness of his beard, grown thick in the five days they’d been on the road, scratched over Ethan’s skin just before Jack dropped a kiss beneath his jaw. “Morning, love.”

Ethan smiled down at him, de-cocked his pistol, and slid it into his hip holster beneath their blankets. He wrapped both arms around Jack as Jack turned and faced him. “How are you? Are you warm enough?” As Ethan spoke, his breath clouded the air between them.

“I’m good.” Jack peeled off his gloves beneath the blankets and snaked his warm hands up under Ethan’s jacket and sweater. His gentle, searching fingers found the long line of ragged stitches in Ethan’s side.

Ethan flinched.

“Sorry. You know we need to check them.” Carefully, Jack felt around the stitches, testing the skin, and then rested his palm over the top of the mostly-healed wound. “No heat. No swelling. No pus. No infection.” He smiled. “You had me worried after yesterday.”

Ethan ducked his head, his cheeks warming. While rummaging through an abandoned barn, he’d walked right through a rotted-out baseboard and fallen into a cellar, into the rough, loose earth. Not his finest moment. They’d wrangled some supplies, but he’d come away filthy and bruised, his ego smarting. Jack’s worried eyes and his gentle ministrations after they’d stopped for the night had helped sooth the ache.

Jack’s gaze darted over Ethan’s face, searching. He frowned. “Did you get any sleep?”

“Some.”

“Liar.” Arching an eyebrow, Jack sat back but kept his hands under Ethan’s clothes and on his skin. “You should let me watch over you at night, too.”

“I’d rather do it. I have you close to me.” He patted his hip and his holstered weapon. “I have constant protection on you all night long. There’s no way anyone can get to you. Not without going through me.”

“Literally.” Jack smiled, but it faded fast. “I’ll drive during the day again. Rest, and let me watch over you.” He squeezed Ethan’s hip as if to emphasize his point.

Ethan nodded, and the corners of his lips quirked up. This was new, this give and take of caretaking and watching out for each other. In DC, at the White House, there had been their jobs and their duties and the world to react to. They took care of slights and wounds inflicted by the press, their suits and ties a kind of armor against the world. Out in the wilderness, in the forest, they’d fallen into a different kind of caretaking. A sharing of two lives, each supporting the other’s existence. It was primal, in a way, how they had fused together. Half of his life was in Jack’s hands, and instead of feeling vulnerable, it was the most natural feeling in the world. “Deal.” Leaning forward, he pressed a kiss to Jack’s lips.

A question hovered in the forefront of Ethan’s mind, weighing on his thoughts. Every morning, he felt the weight of his secret resting over his heart: two rings, made before the world fell apart around them. Some moments, asking Jack was on the tip of his tongue, ready to tumble from his lips with his next breath. He forced himself to swallow the words. Not yet. It wasn’t the right time. Not yet.

Jack leaned into Ethan, and his hands wound around Ethan’s back beneath his sweater. “At some point, we won’t be sleeping in this jeep anymore,” he whispered into their kiss. “We’ll have room to stretch out… share a sleeping bag…”

Smiling, Ethan pulled off his gloves and brought his hands up to Jack’s face, his thumbs caressing Jack’s cheeks. “We don’t need a sleeping bag…” One hand snaked around Jack’s neck, and the other dropped to his hip.

In a flash, he flipped Jack, laying him on his back across the bench seat. Jack wrapped his legs around Ethan’s waist as Ethan slid his hands through Jack’s blond strands.

Jack grabbed his shoulders and pulled Ethan closer, his legs tightening and holding Ethan in place. He captured Ethan’s lips, kissing greedily as his hips rocked upward. Even through the layers they wore, Ethan felt Jack’s hard cock, pressing against his own.

“I want you,” Jack breathed.  “I want you to make love to me.”

Ethan’s blood burned, searing through his body from his head to his toes, and part of him wanted to tilt Jack’s head back and ravage his throat, work his way down, unwrap him like a present until he found his cock. Suck him deep. Work him open with his tongue until Jack begged for more, and then sink his cock into Jack’s warm, tight body. Jesus, he wanted Jack. So much.

The springs on the jeep’s suspension squeaked with their rocking, and the tires groaned and crunched against the snow on the ground. In the distance, low chuckles sounded, and one catcall.

Deflating, Ethan dropped his forehead to Jack’s chest. He rode Jack’s deep, heaving breaths and listened to his racing heartbeat. “I don’t want an audience when I make love to you again.”

Jack’s legs dropped, one falling over the back of the front seat, and the other squishing against the window. His hands stroked over Ethan’s back and tangled in his hair. “I don’t want to have to be quiet.”

“Jesus.” Ethan gripped Jack and surged against him, thrusting against his hard cock once more. “That’s not helping.”

Smiling, Jack rocked his hips up once and then scooted backward, propping himself up on his elbows as Ethan sat back and tried to straighten out his clothes. A prominent bulge strained the front of his cargo pants. He ached, nearly painfully hard for Jack.

From the center of the camp, Scott called, “Coffee’s ready if you are!”

Rumbling laughter, deep and throaty, from nearly all the men.

Shaking his head, Jack started to pull himself together next to Ethan and fished out his balaclava from the pocket of his cargo pants. Outside of the jeep, he wore a full-face balaclava and, on their drive, he kept everything but his eyes covered. Ethan insisted, and Scott and Sergey both backed him up. The members of their convoy, of course, knew who Jack was, and just after Jack had shown up, Sergey had delivered a scathing speech in Russian to his people that had had even Ethan flinching, though he didn’t understand a word that had been said. But, they were traveling through a war zone, parts of Russia that were contested in the coup, under attack from Moroshkin’s forces, and that had been bombed by the United States and other nations, all trying to stop Moroshkin.

Who knew what was out there, or who was out there. Jack was, to the world, brain dead in Bethesda Naval Hospital. A front-page picture of him alive and well in Russia would go over as well as a nuclear bomb.

“Scott came by?” Jack tucked his undershirt into his pants, taking a moment to readjust. His cheeks were dusted crimson, a faint flush that Ethan wanted to nibble.

“Yeah.” He tore his eyes away from Jack and fanned the bottom of his sweater, trying to cool his body.

“How’d the scouting go?”

“The route is clear for the morning. More abandoned villages. They found fuel and some supplies. Vasily is cooking eggs.” Ethan reached out, and his fingers traced Jack’s spine through his sweater and jacket. “And you should talk to Sergey.”

Turning, Jack stared at Ethan.

“I think Scott’s worried about him.” A tight, strained smile, curved his lips. “And that’s saying something.” Scott’s trust in Sergey, and in their Russian allies, extended from meal to meal. Day to day, hour by hour. If everything came apart, Scott would be the first to say “I knew it”.

“He hasn’t wanted to talk to me.” Swallowing, Jack leaned back with a sigh. His hands dropped to his lap, and he picked at the wool fibers of the balaclava. “He’s kept his distance since Volga. I’m not sure I’m the person he wants to see right now.”

Nodding slowly, Ethan frowned. Sergey’s harsh accusations, thrown at Jack at Volga air base, had been the last direct contact the two had. “After all this time, you think he’s pulling away because of…”

Because of their love? Because he and Jack were together? Because Sergey had been loved by a gay man? Was this some kind of reaction, a fear that falling in love with another man “was contagious”, as he’d hurled at Jack?

“He’s pulled back before.” Jack sat forward, slipped the balaclava over his head. He tugged it down around his neck. “I want to do the right thing by him. I don’t want to piss him off.” He frowned, deep lines furrowing his brow. “But, no matter what else is going on, he’s devastated about losing Sasha. I remember what it felt like when I thought you were dead. I can at least try to talk to him about that.”

Ethan’s chest constricted, and his heart almost seized. Was it only a week ago that he’d thought Jack was dead and gone as well? Never, ever, again. He’d do everything in his power to keep Jack safe, keep him from ever coming to harm. And, he’d never lose faith like that again, either. The darkness that had swallowed him on his race from Saudi Arabia to Russia. The emptiness, the silent scream within his soul. The way he had wanted to die, had begged the world to kill him.

Together. They’d face everything together from now on. No matter what.

Adjusting the balaclava, Jack leaned over and pressed a chaste kiss to Ethan’s lips. “Time to face the music, love.”

Ethan pulled out his own balaclava, tugged it down around his neck, and gripped the door handle. They piled out of the back of the jeep, and Ethan caught the smothered grins and barks of laughter sent their way. Scott raised a dented metal mug toward them both. Jack headed for him, and for the small fire on which Vasily was cooking.

One of the Russians who went out with Scott every morning, Aleksey, slid up to Ethan. Middle-aged, Aleksey had been a federal police officer in Sochi and had fought back with Sergey against Moroshkin and Madigan’s forces the night of the coup. Now, he was one of Sergey’s officers in the insurgency. He had a small beer gut and a thick salt and pepper mustache beneath ruddy, pockmarked cheeks, a quick, sharp smile, and perpetually messy hair.

His eyes glittered as he clapped Ethan on the back. “You are good Russian lover!” he crowed. “Quick!”

Others laughed, and Ethan spied Jack smothering his grin and rolling his eyes as he took the coffee Scott offered. Scott shrugged and hid his smile in his next sip.

Ethan clapped Aleksey on the upper arm, smiling along with the others. When he and Jack had first met the men in Sergey’s insurgency, they’d worried about how they would be received. Two men in love in a country where only months before, Sasha had almost been killed for being gay. Another man, Evgeni Konnikov, had been murdered.

Sergey’s men, however, had been nothing but accepting. They were believers in Sergey’s government, after all, and Sergey had made equality a foundational platform of his politics and administration.

They just showed that acceptance through good Russian ribbing and teasing. The more ribald the better.

“If we had actually got going,” Ethan began, winking first at Jack and then sending Aleksey a grin, “we’d be here for days.”

More laughter. Aleksey wagged his finger in Ethan’s face and squeezed his elbow before handing him a cup of bitter, sludgy coffee. Vasily waved him and Jack over, and he scooped the last of the eggs into a scavenged plastic bowl they shared. “I save for you,” Vasily said, pointing to them both.

Jack thanked him. As they ate, Ethan spotted Sergey standing in front of his jeep, his hands resting flat on a spread-out map of Russia draped over the hood with his head bowed low. He looked up, and his piercing gaze fell on Jack. There was a moment where his face flickered, something dark passing through his eyes, but it was gone before Ethan could catch it.

And then, Sergey folded up his map and climbed into the driver’s side of his jeep. He kept his eyes downcast, not once looking at Jack again.

Purchase

Amazon

Meet the Author

Tal Bauer is an award-winning and best-selling author of LGBT romantic thrillers, bringing together a career in law enforcement and international humanitarian aid to create dynamic characters, intriguing plots, and exotic locations. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.

Pronouns: They/them & he/him

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