A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: World Turned Upside Down by Elyse Springer

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 Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Set at the McMurdo station in Antarctica, this story is told through the first person POV of a janitor named Simon. It follows his crush on Asher, a new researcher. With them stuck there for four months to over winter, Simon is afraid of rejection and making it awkward in an enclosed space where they can’t avoid each other, even if they want to. What starts out as a harmless bet, made in jest to get Simon to talk to Asher, ends up being the albatross around his neck as his thoughts change from lust to care. Sweet, shy, and awkward, Asher is not who Simon thought he was. Simon seems to suffer from low self-esteem and has no interest in a real relationship. Fantasies aren’t usually the same as reality, and Simon has to navigate what he thought he wanted vs. what he actually wants.

I understand just wanting to play the field, not wanting to get serious. I don’t understand Simon’s panic at the thought of a relationship; by the time he changes his mind…he has hurt Asher by not realizing he was already in one. Part of what happens is his fault for not communicating to Miranda and Oli that his feelings about Asher had changed, but it was none of their business and he didn’t really owe them an explanation. In fact, they are more acquaintances than friends. They’re not malicious, but they are self absorbed about their own amusement and thoughtless in their actions throughout the book.

Though this is enjoyable, there isn’t much detail. The Aurora is colorful and pretty. It’s cold and there is much ice. Simon is never really described even when he is looking in the mirror so all I know is he has: a flat stomach; a round butt; his bangs to the side; and a smaller physique than Asher. Several months pass and not much happens. The sex scenes start slow and build up as their intimacy increases; these are the best described scenes in the book. Overall, I think they make a cute couple because Asher is actually a nice guy. Who wouldn’t want to date him?

The cover is by Brooke Albrecht (http://brookealbrechtstudio.com). I assume the cover is Asher, who is described as a fit, tall man with blond hair that goes darker down his face and green eyes. I think the cover is very striking and matches the story well.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Kobo | GooglePlay | Apple Books

Book Details:

ebook, 105 pages
Expected publication: August 9th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644054277
Edition LanguageEnglish

Dem Had on Writing, Influences and new release ‘Barricades’ (author interview and giveaway)

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Barricades by Dem Had

Dreamspinner Press
Published May 24th 2019

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.

BUY LINKS

Dreamspinner Press: https://bit.ly/2JLGGFj
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2UMTWfq

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2Wb9o5e
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2CHZQaX

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Dem Had here today on tour for the new World of Love release from Dreamspinner Press, Barricades. Welcome, Dem!

 

✒︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Dem Had

Q: How much of yourself goes into a character?

A: Everything and nothing. The honest answer is that I don’t know. Creating a character makes me their god, and like every god, I’m the archetype of my creation. As to what I mean when I say “god”, let me clarify that I don’t mean it in any religious or narcissistic way. I mean that I create them, I give them traits and put them wherever I want, but in the end, they are the ones who make choices. Sometimes, that’s as frustrating as it sounds.

Getting to know my characters is never boring but is not always fun. I’m learning more about myself in the process and this sometimes leads to identity crisis and endless philosophical conversations with myself. I like experimenting, like giving the character one trait or one experience of mine but change the circumstances. Sometimes I watch as my character makes a different choice from mine (not necessarily the right one) and see the outcome.

Q: 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?

A: I don’t think there’s any line between the two. On the contrary, I feel like an author wouldn’t have the urge to go through a bad experience again by writing it down, if not to “make it right”. Maybe, making the character a “Mary Sue” is what it’s needed to change that experience. I believe in balanced characters, with flaws and strengths to their cores; big flaw comes with a big strength and vice versa.

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

A: My research is usually based on what I’ve already chosen to write, not the other way around. Also, I’m not the one choosing the genre; I choose the story and the story chooses its genre.

I enjoy the research of existing cultures but I flirt with the idea of creating my own world.

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

A: No! I have a confession to make: Even though I loved reading books since I learnt how to read, I’d found genre fiction boring and pointless. I couldn’t bring myself to read a chapter without finding a million reasons to stop. On the other hand, I loved reading about religions, psychology and paranormal. I remember myself as a kid, sneaking into my sister’s bedroom and reading from the encyclopedia. I would spend hours every day at the library during my university years. My love for novels bloomed at twenty-two, when I became a stay at home mother. I was so angry at myself for being so late. (lol)

Q: 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?

A: Yes! Most of the times, writing about emotionally painful memories can be therapeutic and liberating, but there was a time when I spent three days writing and rewriting a specific scene. I became so obsessed with it and the memories of it from real life made me cry at night. In the end, the scene was nothing like I wanted it and it took me several days to recover.

Q: Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

A: HEA accompanied with a sense of a loss or HFN, because they can be satisfying and still leave uncertainty in the reader’s mind, making the story more memorable.

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

A: As an adult, yes.

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

A: Music. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a song is worth a thousand pictures.

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

A: I have mixed feelings about ebooks. On one hand I love the sense of holding a physical book and the aesthetic of getting into a library, but on the other hand ebooks are more affordable and practical. I also read faster on my smartphone instead of a physical book – I’m not sure why.

We are the first generation to have ebooks at our disposal. They are being around for twenty years, widely known for the last decade and some people already have big collections of ebooks. I give it fifty more years for physical books to become collectibles, equivalent to Vinyl records.

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

A: Barricades is my first book to be published, so a designer was assigned by the publisher for my cover. I’d like to design my own cover next time – not because there are not excellent designers out there, but because I can. You see, I’ve studied architecture and worked as a designer in the past, which puts cover design in my skills

Q: 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?

A: As a matter of fact, I was warned that I might have done that (haha). It depends on the reader, really. Personally, I was raised to be real and never change to please others; same goes for my characters. If they are not likeable, then it is what it is. I believe in balance; I believe we all have the same amount of positive and negative traits. For some, a character’s negative traits make them “too flawed to become a love interest” but to me, it’s a challenge to get to know them more and discover with which positive trait that flaw balances with.

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

A: Stoicism is my favorite, especially when it’s accompanied with deep empathy. I like a sneak peak in such a character’s mind as they crush inside and show nothing to others while being fully functional. I think that deep inside, this is a trait I wish I had but was never able to adopt.

High intelligence with arrogance make an amazing couple of traits in a character but I can’t really stand this kind of people for long IRL.

 Q: 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?

A: It happened unintentionally. I was already too deep into Barricades when I realized that I was projecting on my character’s emotions for his mother. As the character matured and dealt with it, I did too. By the end of the last round of edits, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

 Q: 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.

A: I’m not a drinker, not really, but part of being over thirty is that sometimes you don’t “want” a drink, you “need” a drink. That’s why I always have wine at home (lol). The truth is I almost never drink more than a couple of glasses. The only one time I drunk written, I was trying to beat a writer’s block. It worked, in a way; I had written an amazing synopsis but never evolved into anything else. Alcohol intoxication might give me some weird ideas, but never gets my creativity juices flowing.

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

A: Let me paint it for you: A secluded, tiny cabin in the woods, next to a lake where the temperature never exceeds 22°C. What can I say? Clichés are clichés for a reason.

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

A: I write to tell a story. Of course I get away and that’s the reason I love writing so much. Sometimes the story is explanatory, others has a hidden meaning but I don’t use the story to carry out a message or to make a point.

 Q: What’s next for you as a writer?

A: The story I’m currently writing is different from the contemporary romance I’d been writing until recently. I’m exploring magical realism with this one.

BLURB

Born to be enemies. Raised to hate each other.

When introverted Orestis escapes his homophobic parents and abusive home for a night out with friends, he meets artist Emir.  The passion between them is instant and explosive but neither society nor their families will accept their love. If they want a romance that lasts beyond one fiery, forbidden night, they’ll have to face the backlash.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

About the Author

Dem has never been diagnosed with ADD, but it’s common to start talking about cats and end up mentioning the stars while using metaphors about food, just after she’s told you about a childhood memory.

As a cynical romantic and a lover of dark romance, she loves pushing her characters to their limits and refuses to give them their happy ending if they don’t work hard to earn it.

She has a soft spot for manga, anime and anything regarding the Japanese culture. She loves spending time with her son, playing music with her husband and posting on social media about writing and her life as a cat-mother. You can also find her in the roads of Limassol driving and singing with the windows wide open.

Dem’s writing journey has just begun.

https://www.demhad.com

SOCIAL MEDIA

https://www.facebook.com/demhadauthor

https://www.twitter.com/demhadauthor

https://www.instagram.com/demhadauthor/

 

 

The author would like to giveaway one eBook copy of Barricades to a reader.  Please leave a comment for the author below along with your email address where you can be reached if chosen.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Barricades by Dem Had

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

They were raised to hate each other, but love has other plans.

When introverted bookworm Orestis escapes his homophobic parents and abusive home for a night out with friends, he meets artist Emir, and the passion between them is instant and explosive. But Orestis is a Greek Cypriot and Emir is Turkish, and neither society nor their families will accept their love. If they want a romance that lasts beyond one fiery, forbidden night, they’ll have to face the backlash.

Let me say immediately that Dem Had has a wonderful story here, with a location, situation, and main couple I really hadn’t seen before.  If the full promise indicated by the blurb isn’t fulfilled, mark that up to the shortness of the story.  Given the writing, the gritty details, the research, and many of the facts and emotional layers to Barricades, had it just been extended further, this would have been a remarkable novel.

As released, Barricades by Dem Had is a contemporary romance that takes us to the divided island of Cyprus, a tiny paradise that’s currently in the middle of a economic boom …on the Greek side.  Yes, its divided by religion and countries, Turkey and Greece, Islam and Christianity. And in between lies a border and years of hatred.  All on one small exquisite island.

Had uses Cyprus’ division and pasts which will always extend into its present as a foundation for Barricades and it’s main couple, one a Greek Cypriot and the other a Turkish Cypriot.  Four words that are almost swear words depending on which side of the border you live on.

While Had brings the fanatical animosity between the two factions alive, she never really accounts for the depth of feeling for being a Cypriot which I know from being friends with someone there.  Their love for Cyprus, in this case they never say Cyprus , no its always, always, “Im a Greek Cypriot”, is on a cellular level.  Away, the word pining for his town and land is entirely accurate . His pride in returning after getting his degrees abroad?  Beyond words.  In the story, you get the anguish and the bitterness of both mens’ situation.  The cultural divide that brings the bullying and endless harassment feels real, especially as they live so close to the border (which my friend never mentions, it’s as though that part of the island does not exist).

It’s as though we are only getting part of their story and you feel the hole because of the richness of what remains. These are terrific characters.

Orestis with his physically abusive father, comes in for twice the hatred, he’s gay and his boyfriend is Turkish.  His pain and fear on the page is visceral. His father treatment of Orestis includes the way the father feels the family is now seen by everyone around them, that the son has “failed” them. A real situation there.Emir is the one that needs more layers.  You never see the full artist in him, yet supposedly he’s successful commercially.  But that part of his character never feels real or part of the story.  He’s clearly a conflicted person emotionally over his sexuality, driving him to cheat and have anonymous sexual encounters behind Orestis,’s back.  That part of their relationship or should I say Emir’s conflict within himself is never resolved satisfactorily.  It can’t be within this short a story.

Yes, readers who have problems with a mc that cheats is going to have issues here.

Had is dealing with so many legitimate issues here.  She could have filled a 500 page novel with this couple and their relationship alone with dealing with their backgrounds, the issues of their differences in religion which never arises, the culture of hypermasculinity that exists in Greece and Cyprus, the idealization of Greek sons within the family and the family’s high expectations, domestic and child abuse, along with LGBT rights which are admittedly shaky there.

All of which made the ending extremely puzzling because there was no foundation set for it.  Had the author built the groundwork, ie shown the readers that the men truly loved  their island and why (the places, their homes) we would have understood the choice better.

But perhaps this is just me seeing so much promise in this story and characters and wishing for more.  As written, I do recommend it,  It’s different, terrific, and will make you think while enjoying a romance with its feet on an island both torn and exquisite.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  Dramatic and eye catching.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, World of Love #27, 85 pages
Expected publication: May 24th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644052266
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Yuchae Blossom (World of Love) by Asher Quinn

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Can two men find happiness in a country that doesn’t accept their love?

When Jack Calloway is transferred to his firm’s South Korean branch on Jeju Island, he’s assigned a valet, the beautiful but shy Song Woo-bin. He stirs feelings Jack has rarely experienced for another man, but everything seems to be against them—Jack is older and Song Woo-bin’s supervisor. He is just beginning to understand the new culture surrounding him even as he accepts his own desires for the first time, and Song Woo-bin is closeted, inexperienced, and estranged from his family. Their path to each other is full of obstacles and societal disapproval. Will the two men eventually come together amid the clash and complement of Eastern and Western culture… and find a home among the yuchae blossoms?

I have to say I was very conflicted when it came to writing my review for The Yuchae Blossom (World of Love) by Asher Quinn.  One, this is the author’s debut novel and I thought Quinn did a wonderful job with several elements here.  It’s those sections that really raised this story up for me.  Primarily, the Korean setting, the author’s knowledge of the south Korean culture, use of language and settings which added not only considerable depth but obvious affection to the story and characters.

It made me want to visit several places Quinn mentioned, and I spend time searching out pictures of places and dishes to better familiarize myself with a place that already felt like a destination I needed to fly to.

On top of that?  Amazing secondary Korean and American characters that I seriously treasured, from one grandmother housekeeper to an Assistant who needed to be wearing a cape.  They came off real, personable, and compelling in their own right.

No, unfortunately my struggle here was with the main character of Jack Calloway, who, although supposedly familiar with the region, acted with all the finesse of a bull in a china chop.  Angry, borish, rude, with little regard to the Korean customs and people working for him.  Yes that changed ….mostly.    But here is a man who had a sister in a committed lesbian relationship  but left his son to live with his bigoted parents (they wouldn’t let her partner come for the holidays) for three years while he was going to be living in South Korea getting his “project” underway.  Really? With all those assistants, and you are leaving your son with them?  It was one thing after another that just kept me from connecting with this man.  Even to the end, it was other people keeping him out of jail and suggesting ways to thwart the “evildoers”.  Smh!

Song Woo-bin on the other hand is a wonderful character, easy to relate to and someone who will grab onto your heart.   I wanted more of him, his backhistory, just more him, less Jack. The author never made a case for what Song saw in Jack.  Because all Jack did was yell, bluster, crash over the niceties of their culture.  To mix  national monsters…Jack came across as a bit of a American Godzilla. See?  Mixed bag.    Way too good for Jack.  Had the author been able to make the readers see exactly what made Jack so attractive to Soon Woo-bin I might have bought into the relationship and the “deep love” they said they had for each other.  But I never got it.

The  intolerant attitude towards homosexuality in South Korea is only lightly addressed and considering the role it played here, more  information should have been relayed about the current laws and cultural family framework that holds this society so tightly in reign.   Of course, maybe that’s asking too much of 162 pages and a light contemporary romance.

This is a coming out, sexual discovery story too for two men of two different cultures and that sort of got glossed over in favor of a “love almost at first sight” story.  As I said there is a  lot going on here.

So while I may not have fallen in love with Jack, I did with his household and its surroundings. Asher Quinn did a lovely job of bringing small parts of Southern Koren alive for me, along with several great characters.    I can’t wait to see what this author does next!

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht  Lovely cover with the character of Song Woo-bin and of course, the Yuchae Blossom of the title.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 162 pages
Expected publication: April 5th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644051924
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Beneath These Fields ( World of Love) by Ward Maia

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Sometimes true worth is well hidden.

Ellis Campos is a successful divorce lawyer with little to no time for a personal life. His predictable routine is disrupted when he inherits a coffee farm from an estranged aunt. There’s no room in his life for all the complications that come with managing a farm in another state. But his plans to quickly sell it and go back to the big city fall apart when he’s manipulated into spending a week on the estate.

Adding to the unexpected surprises, he meets Rudá, a native Brazilian who works on the farm, and while teaching him about his aunt’s home and family, also tempts Ellis like no one ever has.

He doesn’t expect his life to change in such a short time, but as he finds value and comfort in the farm’s routine, Ellis quickly realizes that, like the land itself, Rudá has secrets that could send him running back to Rio.

Beneath These Fields by Ward Maia is another story from the World of Love line at Dreamspinner Press.   This time the location is Brazil , specifically a coffee farm far away from the comforts of Rio.  That the author himself is from Brazil and loves his country from the city to the rolling hills of farmland gives Beneath These Fields a warmth and depth lacking in other stories.  Familiarity will do that as will fondness when you write what you know.

When he writes of the heat, the character sweating so badly that the clothes are sticking to his back, or the little used air conditioning of an older truck spraying dust and insect wings over Ellis, it feels authentic …and funny.  Or of a man smelling like the very coffee he raises.  That too feels real, believable, and incredibly sexy.

For me there was so much I really connected with and enjoyed.  The coffee farm, its employees and inhabitants itself,right down to the dog Duke.  The  daily natural feel of the place, including the harvest of the beans and the way Ellis was learning to love the place his aunt built as he learned about her from her books and the people around her.  It was charming, fluid, and easy.  Maia made us see this place as though it was real, he gave it charm, a solidity, and heart.

Less satisfactory was some of the mystery surrounding his aunt, her lost connection to one side of the family which to my mind was never really explained.  It was made a big element and then sort of left there.  Also the ending felt rushed after all the marvelous story that came before.  It was nice. mind you, but, left you with too many questions.

Overall, I enjoyed this story.  It had a wonderful framework, some outstanding elements and characters, and I found myself many times wanting to know more about Ruda’ tribe or the region. I wanted to go exploring because this story pulled me there and made me love the people and place.  That includes the couple.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  Not my idea of Ellis in dress or age, or background.  Doesn’t really work for me.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 144 pages
Expected publication: January 25th 2019
Original Title Beneath These Fields
ISBN 139781640809758
Edition Language English

Ward Maia on Writing, Research, and his new release Beneath These Fields (author interview)

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Beneath These Fields ( World of Love) by Ward Maia
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ward Maia here today on tour for his latest novel Beneath These Fields.  Welcome, Ward.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Ward Maia

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I try to pour as much of my experiences into my characters, but not a lot 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?

I don’t understand the question, sorry.

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

Yes, I like to read a lot of History and Mythology books, so research definitely plays an important role. But I enjoy doing both. Research is always fun and finding out about different cultures is always interesting. But making up new worlds, creating different sets of rules and tossing your characters into that mix also makes for interesting stories.

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

Not really, I grew up reading the classics and science fiction, but I prefer to write contemporary and fantasy novels.

  • 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?

Yes, that has happened. Coming to terms with being transgender was very difficult for me, so some of the stories I was writing I didn’t really know how to process or how to properly finish because it was difficult to unpack all the emotions tied to the characters and the story I was trying to tell.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I think HFNs are valid, but I’d much rather read a book with a HEA. It might sound a little cliché, but I think real life is difficult enough, so I like my fiction to make me happy. Also, I’m a helpless romantic, so it’s HEA for me all the way.

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

I read a lot of classical books as a teenager and now, as an adult, I read a lot more romance, especially contemporary.

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

Growing up, Herman Melville. Moby Dick is hands down one of my favorite books of all time. Also The Lord of The Rings Trilogy; the first time I saw a map of Middle Earth, was the first time I realized creating an entire different world with an entirely different set of rules for your characters was possible.

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

At one point in my life, I was the proud owner of over three hundred books, so printed books will always have a special place in my heart. Having said that, I love ebooks because they completely changed how I accessed books and even the books I had access to. There’s not a lot of printed transgender representation where I’m from and ebooks are easier to access than physical ones.

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

I like covers to reflect some essential aspect of the story, whether it’s explicit or not. In my case, the farm played a very important part in Ellis’s journey so I chose a cover I felt reflected the dichotomy between Ellis-the-city-boy and Ellis-who-inherited-a-coffee-farm.

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

I don’t like to play favorites, but there are always characters that stay with me for longer than others. Ellis was one of those characters. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about him and his journey of self-discovery.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I want to write epic stories with unapologetically-queer trans masc main characters because I feel it’s an important representation that’s lacking in fiction. Especially in Brazil.

  • 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 the concept of flaw varies greatly depending on which character you ask. What one might perceive as a flaw, another sees only as a personality trait. Having said that, I don’t think there’s such a thing as making a character too “real”. I enjoy reading about all-powerful characters with world-changing destinies just as much as the next person, but I also enjoy seeing just your average trans guy, doing average things and navigating the ins and outs of a romantic relationship like everyone else.

 

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

The traits I find most interesting in people are the ones they sometimes don’t even realize they have. For instance, how someone reacts to shocking news, if their eyes go wide, or they bite their nails, bounce their knees or even laugh. I do actually write them into my characters, because I feel it makes them more “believable’, so to speak, seeing as they can be traced to a real trait of a real person.

 

  • 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?

Yes! The first serious story I sat down to write was a contemporary romance with a best friends-to-lovers trope I started writing when I was seventeen. Recently, almost a decade later, I’ve picked the story back up and decided to develop it. It ended up turning into a duology and I have just finished writing the first Book. But who knows if it will ever see the light of day?

 

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

Yes, I have. Writing helps me deal with my anxiety – it’s kind of like therapy. So whenever I have a serious issue to work through, I usually try to write it out. Maybe I’ll write a scene similar to what I’m going thorough, to try and see how I’d feel or react in a given situation.

 

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

I once imagined a scene where the main characters are breaking up and one of them is sneaking out of the house when his partner wakes up and ends up running behind his car, shouting for him to come back and not leave. It hasn’t made it into any of my stories yet, but who knows? Maybe I’ll write a second chance romance and include that scene.

 

  • 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.

I’m a very boring guy, meaning I don’t drink anything remotely alcoholic. So no, I’ve never written a drunk chapter, but anything is possible. I tend not to pull back my punches when it comes to my characters, so writing drunk could end up being an interesting experience.

 

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

I love writing in my back yard, or just by the seaside. But maybe one day I’ll have a private writing room, overlooking snowy mountains and quite possibly the sea or a lake.

 

  • 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 because my words demand to be given life and space to breathe. But also, because most people have severe misconceptions about transgender folks and how being transgender varies from person to person. And if I can clarify some of that while maybe entertaining a couple of people, why not?

And of course, I write because it’s something I love doing.

 

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

Like I said, I want to write about everyday trans masc individuals accomplishing both extraordinary and everyday feats. I don’t want to change the world, I just want to share my words with it.

Blurb:

Sometimes true worth is well hidden.

Ellis Campos is a successful divorce lawyer with little to no time for a personal life. His predictable routine is disrupted when he inherits a coffee farm from an estranged aunt. There’s no room in his life for all the complications that come with managing a farm in another state. But his plans to quickly sell it and go back to the big city fall apart when he’s manipulated into spending a week on the estate.

Adding to the unexpected surprises, he meets Rudá, a native Brazilian who works on the farm, and while teaching him about his aunt’s home and family, also tempts Ellis like no one ever has.

He doesn’t expect his life to change in such a short time, but as he finds value and comfort in the farm’s routine, Ellis quickly realizes that, like the land itself, Rudá has secrets that could send him running back to Rio.

About the Author :

Ward Maia was born and raised in Brazil and has seen almost every corner of that great and beautiful country. With a M. in Geology and Metamorphic Petrology, spending time in underground labs was more commonplace than interacting with real humans, which lead to the creation of entire fictional universes. The heroes that populate those universes are usually flawed and find love in unexpected places.

Having travelled throughout the country, from North to South, Ward now calls the Northwest of Brazil home. Alongside a grumpy sixteen-year old poodle (that insists on always having the last word) and hundreds of paperback novels, Ward lives five minutes from the beach and enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee and feeling the ocean breeze while writing about unexpected places and people.

Social media links

Twitter: @_WardMaia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ward.maia.583

Buy links

Crystel Greene on Writing, Flawed Characters, and her new release Glacier Gold by Crystel Greene (guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Glacier Gold by Crystel Greene

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Universal buy link |  Dreamspinner Press buy link

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Crystel Greene here today on tour for the latest World of Love story from Dreamspinner Press, Glacier Gold.  Welcome, Crystel!

 

Hello everyone! I’m Crystel, and I’m so happy to be here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to celebrate the release of my m/m romance novella  . Thank you for having me!

I’m going to answer two questions about writing romance and talk about what my protagonist, Justin, has in common with fairy tale heroine Rapunzel…

  • 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?
  • With so much going on in the world, do you write to get away?

Can a character be too flawed? Like, a murderer who has greasy hair and hates puppies? Yes, I guess there is such a thing as too many faults, but as a writer and a reader, I feel the bigger problem would be a hero who’s too perfect.

Any story needs a flawed hero. Contemporary or fantasy, the main character needs to have at least one major flaw. How else could they grow? Why would I want to read about a hero who only has to kill that dragon or hunt down a murder suspect or defeat an army of aliens?

What I really want to know is, will they overcome their fear of dogs and try to get to know the cute guy running the dog shelter next door?

A flawed hero is certainly a challenge for a romance author, because they have to make not only the reader care for the protagonist but also the love interest. As a writer, I’m aware I’ve got to draw the line at some point when it comes to a hero’s faults. A fear of dogs is acceptable in a protagonist, I’d say; hatred for puppies isn’t. The same goes for a habit of murdering people: a serial killer wouldn’t be a protagonist I’d be interested in as a reader, and I wouldn’t enjoy writing their point of view either, nor want to force another character to develop a crush on them.

In my opinion the one flaw that destroys a character (and their story) is a lack of empathy. A character can have trouble showing emotions, they can be rough or cold on the outside, but they have to hide a heart somewhere.

As a romance writer, I have another hard limit concerning character flaws: I won’t write a main character who cheats on their partner or is unable to commit to a relationship. 

But apart from that, flaws are fantastic! I love characters who are fussy, bossy, jealous, fearful, annoyingly meticulous, reckless, obsessive compulsive, or, like Justin in GLACIER GOLD, competitive and a little vain.

Character flaws are especially important in a love story. Because where’s the fun in writing about a perfect person finding love? It’s so infinitely more satisfying to write or read about someone who’s not that easy to love and who still finds someone who’ll put up with them because they’ve fallen for them.

What’s better than a protagonist making mistakes, making a fool of themselves, trying people’s patience with their deficiencies, and still winning the heart of the cool billionaire/sweet doctor/hot pirate? Because there’s good in them too, and the billionaire/doc/pirate can see that, and it counts more than the bad.

To me, the whole point of romance is to see love conquering all; to see it’s stronger than people’s (make that: my) flaws and weaknesses. In romance, there’s always the underlying certainty that ultimately the characters will find deliverance in love. No matter how much they might have fucked up before.

That’s something that never gets old, and it’s why I love this genre so much and couldn’t imagine writing anything else!

As a writer, I often fall in love with my characters not in spite of their imperfections, but because of them. I came to love Justin in GLACIER GOLD for his total lack of coolness. For being so emotional he’s sometimes a little irrational. Justin struggles with low self-esteem. He has a lot of talent as a graphic designer, he’s an artist really, but he has never seen himself as such. In fact, he’s rather self-conscious about his “doodling” on his graphic tablet and thinks of himself as a secret nerd. And as a loser who flunks their college exams: he has a history of academic failures, and since he hasn’t freed himself of his mother’s expectations and plans for his future, he seeks validation in hook-ups. To him, sex is just another opportunity for scoring, same as sports. His competitive streak is really just him coping with the feeling of not being good enough. He means no harm, he’d never hurt anyone, but he’s clueless about his true needs.

And here’s my answer to the second question: Yes, I am writing to get away, to help my readers get away. That’s romance. But that doesn’t mean I’m writing about perfect people whose journey to happiness is plain sailing. On the contrary.

Romance stories are like fairy tales: they seem to be the opposite of realism, but in truth they aren’t. They tell us about our flaws, how they lead us into trouble, and about how we need to put in work to grow. And about how we, too, can find love.

There’s this fantastic book by psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, “Children need Fairy Tales”. He makes the case that fairy tales, far from being simple bedtime stories, can be a tool for young people to understand their own soul and find confidence and hope. He argues that fairy tales deal with timeless human problems, and that they show us that we have the power to overcome them.

Rapunzel is probably the fairy tale character who’s closest to Justin (and not just because they both wear their hair long and like braids), so here’s a quick look at her story as an example: Rapunzel has to learn that she has allowed her foster mom to limit her and to define her future for her, and that she has to risk everything to break free, including taking a chance on the prince.

Translate: if we dare believe in our own strength, we will overcome what holds us back and find our way in this chaotic world, and we will find love, and all will be well.

This isn’t escapism; it’s a narrative of empowerment for young people and adults alike.

True empowerment starts with acknowledging we can’t do it all by ourselves. The Beatles got it right: We need love. In whatever form.

And here’s my bottom line: I think it’s not only legitimate to read and write romance with what’s going on in the world, I think it’s essential. The simple truth is, we can use all the empowerment we can get! And all the fun too.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading Justin’s journey to his happy ending as much as I did writing it! ―

Have you ever felt reading romance is more than just a guilty pleasure for you? Have you ever found images or concepts in a romance story that stayed with you for some reason?

*

About Glacier Gold

Up in the Alps, a single night can change your life.

Struggling college student and self-taught graphic artist Justin Bennet isn’t the most self-confident guy, but he knows he’s good at two things: snowboarding and sex. Why does Andi, the hot instructor at the Tyrolean ski resort, pretend Justin doesn’t exist?

Justin becomes all but obsessed with the idea of scoring with the young Austrian. Because for all the man’s reserve, he made it quite obvious he likes Justin—at least from the neck down.

When Justin books a private heliboarding trip with Andi as his guide, he thinks he’s one step away from striking gold.

But then the forces of nature take over, trapping the men in a snowstorm, and things get real. What was supposed to be about some freeriding fun and inviting a closeted guy to start exploring his options suddenly becomes about survival—and the hidden truths of the soul.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

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Excerpt

(After a series of failed attempts on Justin’s part to flirt with Andi in public, the two guys have met at midnight in the hotel’s ski room for a private heart-to-heart. Justin wants to convince Andi it’s a good idea for them to hook up.)

“I get you aren’t out, and you don’t want to do anything here in your father’s hotel. Perfectly understandable. But here’s what we could do. How about we go to Innsbruck tomorrow night and rent a room in the youth hostel? It’s just a two-hour drive, but at a safe distance from here. It would be all discreet. No one would ever know.”

That’s the central point of the speech I’ve prepared.

He’s still listening. It’s great, but also a bit unnerving.

“Here’s the thing,” I plow on. “I think, in case you want to start, like, exploring your options, I might be just the right guy for you.”

He sharply inhales.

“For experimenting, I mean,” I quickly clarify. “Like, I’m this random dude? I’m going to leave in three days’ time? What I mean is, with me, there’s zero expectations. No strings attached and all that. Please, Andi. Say yes?”

I stand before him, eagerly waiting for his response.

When he finally looks up at me, his eyes are very bright. He quickly casts them down again and gets up from the bench, walking a few steps away from me.

“You’re making this harder than it has to be, Bennet.”

The sinking feeling is so strong I feel I might slip right through the concrete floor.

“But I thought you found me attractive! You said… I thought… I’ve been hoping….”

I break off, choked by the unexpected force of my feelings.

He gives me a quick, loaded glance. For a short, crazy moment I feel he’s about to close the distance between us and pull me in for a kiss. I feel ready to swoon, as if this were an ancient Hollywood romance movie.

But the movie kiss doesn’t happen. He doesn’t step up to me or try to touch me. He just stands with his hands clenched into fists, looking at the floor again. Eventually he says, “You are super hot, and you know it.”

“So you do find me attractive.”

“I like you, okay?”

Before I can think about whether he might actually mean by this that he likes me, like, as a person or something, he goes on, a little breathless.

“But I’m not interested in sneaking off to grab a quickie with a tourist. I’m not the type who’d sneak off to some shady corner for five minutes of sex, okay? Or for a night. I’ve never done it, and I won’t start now. It’s not what I’m looking for.”…

“The point is, you want me because I’m gay, and around. For you, it’s all about fun and not missing out on an opportunity. This is not an accusation, it’s just how it is. You and me, that doesn’t make sense.”

Okay.

Okay, this sounds like not being out and his family potentially freaking out and all that is just part of the problem. This sounds like he wants someone who brings more to the table than just girth, muscle, and a good fashion sense. This sounds like he’s looking for a relationship.

And he doesn’t see me as someone who’d qualify for that.

“Maybe I want more too,” I say, floundering, feeling at sea. What he just said about me summed up my attitude about making out pretty accurately. Or what has been my attitude up to now.

He’s shaking his head at me.

“You just told me the best thing about you is that you’re going to be gone in three days’ time!”

I did, but I only said that because I thought he thought it was the best thing about me; I hoped it might tip the scales in my favor. Apparently it did the opposite. Fuck, I’m not used to having to navigate my way around all kinds of pitfalls in presex conversation, I’m not used to having to argue so much with guys who told me they liked me just to get them to act on it!

If he goes on like this, I’m going to crack and say something like I dream of you all the time, and I think I love you.

*

About the Author

The first man Crystel fell in love with was Beauty’s Beast. Next came Robin Hood, then Mr. Darcy. Two decades of married life later, she still loves fictional men—especially when there are two of them who are meant to be! She likes it best when she can create their plights and fights herself, and she can always be counted on to throw in some sizzling hotness and a lot of feels. Here’s her author promise: no fade-outs when things get steamy or emotional, and an ending that will leave you smiling.

Crystel is a lawyer by training, a lover of pastry, and a believer in Happy Ever Afters. Born and raised in Hamburg, Germany, and a North Sea girl at heart, she lives in the beautiful Austrian Alps with her husband and four kids.

PS She loves reader mail!

crystelgreene@gmail.com

https://www.crystelgreene.com

https://www.instagram.com/crystelgreene/

https://twitter.com/CrystelGreene

https://www.facebook.com/CrystelGreene/

https://www.goodreads.com/crystelgreene

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/crystel-greene-1081

https://www.amazon.com/author/crystelgreene

 

Giveaway

The author is giving away a prize a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jackie North on Writing, Iceland, and her new story ‘Shoulder Season (World of Love)’ (guest blog and special excerpt)

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Shoulder Season (World of Love) by Jackie North
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art:  Brooke Albreacht

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jackie North here today to talk about Iceland, Research, and her new story Shoulder Season.  Welcome, Jackie.

🌎

Hello, and thank you for having me on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to talk about my upcoming release with Dreamspinner of Shoulder Season. The inspiration being Shoulder Season is a fun one. Years ago, I worked with a guy who was traveling with his boyfriend to Iceland. They’d been saving up for ages and ages and were quite looking forward to their adventure.

My first thought was that they were crazy. Why on earth would someone actually want to travel to such an inhospitable place as Iceland? Yes, I knew that people did live there and enjoyed it, so it couldn’t be entirely inhospitable, but seriously. It’s almost to the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t shine six months out of the year, and there are no trees.

Literally, there are no trees! (Actually, that’s not true, as 1.5 % of Iceland is covered by woodland!) But you see what I mean. I guess I was pretty young and couldn’t see how this would be a fun thing to do, but it did plant a seed in my mind. The company soon began layoffs, which I was subject to, and I never did hear how this guy’s trip with his boyfriend went. Knowing him and his steady, kind nature, I’m sure it went rather well.

Since that time, I’ve had a hankering to go to Iceland, until last year, I determined I would go. I did a ton of research, but due to financial considerations I was unable to go. But guess what I did have? A ton of research so that when Dreamspinner proposed their Worlds of Love series, I was good to go writing this story in a heartbeat.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Are you a mechanic?” asked Solvin.

“Currently I am,” said Ben. “I’ve got an engineering degree, but engineers are thick on the ground in Colorado, so I’m working at a garage in North Boulder at the moment and sending out résumés.”

“What kind of engineer?” asked Solvin, and by the tone in his voice Ben gathered that Solvin was already familiar with the different types.

“Mechanical,” said Ben. “I like to work with my hands, so the garage is okay, but I’d really like to use my degree, you know?”

“That’s how you could fix the pipe in my kitchen,” said Solvin, nodding.

“I could fix—” began Ben, meaning to go on with the racy statement about the kinds of pipes he could fix. He clamped his mouth shut so hard he almost bit his tongue, and he waited, chagrined, for some blast of recrimination, because really, that was moving way too fast, what with Solvin still recovering from his automobile accident. Besides, it was such a little joke, and somewhat off-color, that it didn’t bear speaking out loud.

“Go on,” said Solvin, his eyes twinkling and the pink blush in his cheeks already on the rise. “Go on, please, I want you to.”

“I—I could fix your other pipe,” said Ben in a deadpan voice, like he didn’t realize the insinuation of what he was saying. Obviously, he did, and Solvin did too, which made it come out all the more funny. Much to his pleased surprise, Solvin almost spit out his iced tea, though he was too mannerly to allow this to happen and hid his laugh in his napkin.

“I could fix all of your pipes,” added Ben, which made Solvin laugh even harder into his napkin. Tears leaked out of the corner of his eyes as he wiped them. Then, with his eyes sparkling with laughter and his smile wide, Solvin leaned close as though he were on the verge of kissing Ben right there in the classy restaurant.

Shoulder Season – Book Blurb

Two young men from two different countries find a common language as they recover from broken hearts and broken bones. Can they rebuild their lives together?

Ben’s boyfriend has not only dumped him, he’s also cancelled their mutual travel plans. Since Ben has the time off and the money saved up, he decides to travel anyway, and based on a last-minute, very inexpensive red-eye airline fare, ends up in Reykjavik, Iceland.

He’s ill-prepared for the weather and knows nothing about the country, so he considers flying home the next day. Except his new neighbor, Solvin, a local Icelander who is currently on leave from work due to a car accident, shows up with a cane and shoulder sling and literally falls into Ben’s apartment. It’s the beginning of an adventure that might show Ben how good life can be… and that coming home sometimes means traveling halfway around the world.

Jackie North – Author Bio

Jackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and travel the world. She also wanted to put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.

As fate would have it, she discovered m/m romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she turned her grocery-store romance ideas around and is now putting them to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)

She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.

Jackie North – Social Media

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JackieNorthAuthor/

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/jackienorthMM

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackieNorthMM

Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/jackienorthauthor/

Website: https://www.jackienorth.com

Email: jackie@jackienorth.com

Luca Domani on Writing, Books and ‘An American in Venice’ (author interview and guest blog)

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An American in Venice (World of Love) by Luca Domani
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Luca Domani here today talking about books, writing and his latest release, An American in Venice.  Welcome, Luca!

✒︎

An Interview with Luca Domani

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think that there is always a bit of myself in each of my characters. In An American in Venice, Tom resembles me in that he also is a shy engineer. Like Tom, I also spent a lot of my younger years in school. Giovanni resembles me as well, since he is in the family business; I come from a family of scientists and engineers. He also feels that he is obligated to put aside his dream of becoming an international chef to keep his grandparent’s pizzeria going. In a similar way, I put aside my writing to focus on engineering. When it comes to matters of the heart, I am more like Giovanni – both of us are passionate and stubborn.

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?

This question feeds back into the first one. I do use my own experiences – sometimes directly, and other times for inspiration and starting points. In this story, I also draw heavily on my own time in Venice to create the setting.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

When it comes to romance, my preference is for a happy ending in some form or another. I have been fortunate in love in my own life, and I enjoy reading stories where characters are similarly lucky. I suppose I am a bit of a sap; I wish that everyone could find their special person, including fictional characters.

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

When I was growing up, I tended to write only fantasy stories, so my inspirations included Piers Antony, David Eddings and J.R.R. Tolkien. Later on, I wrote mostly technical papers. Now that I am back to writing fiction, I find myself influenced by my time in graduate school. I prefer to be succinct, and I dislike flowery terms for genitalia and sexual acts. I admire spare prose: The Road by Cormac McCarthy is one of my favorite works. I still enjoy fantasy and science fiction as well; one of my favorite authors is Brandon Sanderson.

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

I think ebooks are here to stay. To be honest, I prefer holding a copy of a book in my hands and giving my eyes a break from the screen. There is something about the smell of a book, the feel and weight of the paper between my finger tips: these are all things that an ebook cannot duplicate. On the flipside, there is the convenience and the thriftiness of ebooks. There is something so wonderful about being able to carry a book in your pocket, or even a whole shelf of books. My hope is that ebooks and paper books can both exist in harmony, although it seems that electronic media is quickly edging out printed media. If there is a future where bookstores and libraries are obsolete, I don’t want to see it.

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

Well, I have only published two books to date, but I do enjoy An American in Venice, because it also reads as a travelogue. It was fun taking a trip back to Venice through my writing and reliving many of the special memories during my time there.

What’s next for you as an author?

I have another M/M romance in the works. Hopefully I can get over my current case of writer’s block and get it finished! And eventually, I hope to finish my zombie apocalypse novel.

Blurb: 
Tom has always been steady and predictable—a formula he’s sure will lead him to success in his career. When his method fails him and he loses his job, he throws caution to the wind for the first time in his life and books a European holiday.

Maybe Tom shouldn’t be surprised that Cupid’s arrow finds him in one of the most romantic cities in the world: Venice, Italy. When he encounters Giovanni working in the family pizzeria, it’s lust at first sight. Their time together touring the city is so magical it feels like a dream. But Tom is shy while Giovanni is charming and flirtatious. Tom has a newfound freedom with his unemployment, while family burdens weigh heavily on Giovanni. Add culture differences and miscommunication into the mix, and their brief romance might fade as quickly as the beautiful dream it resembles.

About the Author
 
Luca Domani has been writing stories since childhood. Although he has a doctorate in engineering, he has never given up on his dream of being a writer. He adores science fiction and is partial to postapocalyptic epics with zombie hordes, but at heart, he is a hopeless romantic. Luca is married to his high school sweetheart, who is his muse and the love of his life. They reside in Massachusetts with their dog and cat. An American in Venice is his second publication outside of a technical journal.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: An American in Venice (World of Love) by Luca Domani

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Rating: 3.25  stars out of 5

Tom has always been steady and predictable—a formula he’s sure will lead him to success in his career. When his method fails him and he loses his job, he throws caution to the wind for the first time in his life and books a European holiday.

Maybe Tom shouldn’t be surprised that Cupid’s arrow finds him in one of the most romantic cities in the world: Venice, Italy. When he encounters Giovanni working in the family pizzeria, it’s lust at first sight. Their time together touring the city is so magical it feels like a dream. But Tom is shy while Giovanni is charming and flirtatious. Tom has a newfound freedom with his unemployment, while family burdens weigh heavily on Giovanni. Add culture differences and miscommunication into the mix, and their brief romance might fade as quickly as the beautiful dream it resembles.

As a travelogue, I can’t recommend An American in Venice (World of Love) by Luca Domani highly enough.  The descriptions of Venice, the alleys, the markets are visually enticing and intimate in a way only someone greatly familiar with the city and totally in love with her would write it.  You flow through Venice, night or day, places well known or not, and it makes you want to be there in Tom’s shoes..wet, wet shoes..because the it’s flooding fall season…falling in love, feeling the magic of Venice everywhere.  For me it’s the best element of the story and it never let me down.

But there is a romance to talk about and two main characters.  Tom is a predictable puss who’s lost his job and decided to take that trip he’s put off for far too long.  Off to Italy and his first stop Venice, a place he traveled with his parents and has always wanted to return as an adult.  I liked Tom, he has depth to him and a certain “everyman essence” that feels real enough.  I certainly felt for him slogging through the flooded hallway of his hotel during the latest bout of rising water in Venice something he wasn’t prepared for.  Great start to the novel and his visit.

It’s his introduction to Giovanni who’s my issue here.  I liked what I saw of his character but there’s just not enough of him here or something feels missing in Tom and Giovanni’s interactions to let me connect with their burgeoning relationship.  Giovanni’s background was supplied and interesting enough, he has history but it never felt substantial for some reason. And neither did he.  Not like Tom did.  Don’t know.  But I never felt it or them.

Others may feel differently.

Anyhow it ended as a HFN, which was realistic enough but still far too much instalove for me.  Sweet romance, outstanding travelogue.  Just for Venice alone I would read this story.

Cover art by Bree Archer.  She has Tom down pat and love the background.  Just perfect.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 61 pages
Published July 19th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB073JGNCRD
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWorld of Love settingVenice (Italy)