An Alisa Release Day Review: Teaching Ben by Shae Connor


Rating:  4 stars out of 5


Learning to love means a study in patience.


Fresh out of the military, Ben Cooper is ready for a new start. He’s away from his domineering father, making his own choices… and out of the closet. On his first day of college, he meets David Powell, who’s just the kind of gorgeous man Ben’s dreamed of. Too bad he’s the teaching assistant—which makes him off-limits in Ben’s eyes.


David is Ben’s age, but his life has taken a different path. He’s close with his family, who helped him deal with personal struggles after he came out. And while he’s staying away from any hint of scandal, Ben’s a kind of temptation he hasn’t faced in years. If only they’d met on more equal footing.


As the semester progresses and their lives become more entwined, keeping their relationship platonic becomes more difficult. They just have to hold out until the end of the semester….


I enjoyed the nice slow burn of this story.  Ben and David are attracted to each other from the start but know that they need to keep their building emotions to themselves until after the semester is over.


David made some mistakes in the past and he is continuing to accept that he doesn’t need to be punished for those forever.  Ben is finally away from his father and the military, getting to live his life on his own terms.  They both become an integral part of each other’s lives as their friendship grows.


I loved watching David and Ben grow a strong friendship as the semester goes on.  Without even realizing it David gives Ben just what he needs, a family.  David and his sister quickly envelope Ben into their fold and bring him home.  I loved seeing the emotions of these characters and connected with them easily.  I just think this was wonderfully sweet with little bits of conflict thrown in to not make it too sweet.


The cover art by Bree Archer is nice and gives  great visual of Ben.


Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N


Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages

Published: February 20, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-412-8

Edition Language: English

Series: Dreamspun Desires

A Lila Audiobook Review: Finding Mr. Wrong by Charlie Cochet and Andrew McFerrin (Narrator)


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

He’s nobody’s definition of Mr. Right—but that might make him perfect.

Matthew Hart is heir to the family fortune and owner of Hart & Home. When a near-death experience has him fretting over the future, he decides he needs a husband, and not just any husband—an appropriate man to protect the Hart legacy. The last thing Matthew expects is to cross paths with Jax Foster, his first love and the boy who crushed his heart when he disappeared.

Jax is unlikely to make Matthew’s list of suitable candidates. Bad boy, vagabond, deep in debt, with a father who can’t keep out of trouble, Jax has nothing to offer—except his heart and a second chance at the romance they never got to explore.

Finding Mr. Wrong is a sweet second chance story. It has two unlikely cupids and a list of qualities a good husband should have. In the end, Matt will find all those in the less likely place and with the last person he would have expected.

The author did a great job letting the reader know how important Jax and Matt were to each other since the moment they met. By the time they see each other again, the reader is ready for them to have their happily ever after. It’s easy to cheer for them.

Even when the plot and the bases of the story are somewhat traditional, the main characters’ jobs and backgrounds bring them to the front, having those aspects carry the story. They are well written and interesting to get the reader wanting more with each page.

Andrew McFerrin did a nice job bringing all the characters to life. I especially enjoyed Jax’s characterization and the differentiation between the rest of the clan.

The cover by Bree Archer is an adaptation of the e-book cover and follows the traditional Dreamspun series style. I only wish the model looks were a bit more realistic.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Andrew McFerrin
Length: 5 hours 46 minutes
Published: December 22, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English


A Caryn Release Day Review: Swann’s Revenge by Shira Anthony


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What a great book!  It’s a story of second chances, with just a little bit of enemies-to-lovers thrown in.  And of course who doesn’t appreciate the hero who overcomes a difficulty to become a success?

In high school Jimmy Zebulon was a band geek, overweight, asthmatic, socially awkward, and unwillingly out as gay, which made him a target for the football jocks.  His first crush was Danny, who was also on the football team, but was much kinder.  During one unfortunate game, Jimmy was humiliated by the other jocks in front of Danny, and in the process lost a love letter he’d written (but never intended to show) to Danny, and it was just too much – he ended up leaving the school, moving to a different city, and even took his stepfather’s name.  Jimmy Zebulon disappeared, and J. Graham Swann was born.  He grew 8 inches, started competing in marathons, became a successful lawyer, and essentially was completely unrecognizable to anyone who would have known him before.  Outwardly he was the epitome of a self-made man and owner of a prominent labor law firm, but there was a large part of him that inwardly was still that awkward and insecure teenager.

Daniel Parker was in the closet until an injury ended his college football career.  He married a wonderful man, they adopted a little girl, and were living their dream in NYC.  When his husband tragically died and Daniel became a single father, his life and goals changed.  He moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, to pursue an equally rewarding, but less stressful job with one of the rising stars in the world of labor law, Graham Swann.

Their first meeting is during a triathlon when Dan gives up a chance to place to help out another runner.  Graham had been admiring his ass, but then had to admire his kindness as well.  They didn’t recognize each other from high school, didn’t even exchange names, but their instant chemistry led to what was going to be an incredibly hot encounter, when mid-blow job, Dan took a call and abruptly left.  Graham was pissed, but blew it off and went back to his regular life.  On Monday, he was shocked to find that Dan was the new lawyer hired by his partner, and his aborted one night stand was also his high school crush.  All of his past insecurities came rushing back, and Graham’s goals immediately became keeping their shared past secret, and avoiding interacting with Dan as much as possible.

The characters really made this book.  These are both men I would want to be friends with.  They are driven, and successful, but still managed to be warm and caring, and had their priorities right where they should be.  Dan put his daughter first, and Graham took care of his employees.  Although Graham’s fear of being recognized made him exceptionally cold and aloof to Dan at first, Dan and his daughter Lacey eventually broke through the stony facade, and both men found much to admire in the other.  Graham’s insecurity caused him to give off a lot of mixed signals, leading to clumsy starts and stops in their developing friendship, but Dan remained infinitely patient.  The kindness that Graham had noticed 15 years ago was still there, and still just as attractive, and ultimately what brought and kept them together.  Although Dan may have been the catalyst, when Graham confronted his fears, and his past, he finally started to truly believe that he was worthy of Dan’s love, and the final transformation from ugly duckling to swan was complete.  The secondary characters were interesting and supportive, and though Lacey is a little too precocious – like most of the kids that bring the MCs together in romances – it wasn’t enough to turn me off.  I found this book to have more depth than the others I’ve read in the Dreamspun Desires series, and I would definitely recommend it!

Oh, and remember the love letter?  It worked 🙂

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is the standard for Dreamspun Desires, but I did think the model was a good match for Graham.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English

Shira Anthony on Writing the Happily Ever After and her latest release Swann’s Revenge (author guest post, excerpt, and giveaway))


Swann’s Revenge by Shira Anthony
Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspun Desires
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:  

Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon |  Kobo |  Barnes & Noble iTunes 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Shira Anthony here today on tour for Swann’s Revenge.  Welcome, Shira!

Writing the Happily Ever After, Dreamspun-Style, by Shira Anthony

Thank you, Melanie and company, for hosting this stop on the Swann’s Revenge Book Tour! I’m so happy to share my third entry in the Dreamspun Desires line of romance-forward, tropey love stories from Dreamspinner Press. Be sure to read to the bottom of the post about how to enter to win a cool unisex leather heart bracelet to celebrate the book tour and read an excerpt from the story.

I’ve been a romance reader since as far back as I can remember. I don’t have nearly enough time to read anymore, but when I do, it’s almost always gay romance. But whether it’s gay, lesbian, or het romance, the elements are usually the same. That’s especially true for Dreamspun Desires books, which follow the old Harlequin/category-romance formulas and tropes.

For me, the best part of any romance is the HEA. I don’t write books without them, and I don’t read them either. If it’s a sad ending, it is so not for me! Even more so with the Dreamspun line, the HEA is key. But what does it take to end up with a truly satisfying HEA?

A great happily-ever-after is almost entirely dependent upon the tension the author creates.

I know you’ve stayed up reading late into the night because you have to know what happens. I definitely have! Why? Because you can’t stand leaving the two MCs hanging. You need to know that MC 1 is going to forgive MC 2 for not having told him something important. Or maybe it’s that MC 2 hasn’t told MC 1 how he feels. The thing that keeps you hanging—that keeps you reading even though you’re going to sleep through your next day—is tension. Pure and simple. And what do you get after the tension?

HEAs are all about resolution of tension between the main characters: the more powerful the tension, the sweeter the HEA.

In the Dreamspun line, you’re not going to find the all-out-angst you might in a more dramatic romance. But you will feel the tension build toward the resolution. And when that resolution comes? You’ll probably be smiling. Or letting out a long sigh.

Swann’s Revenge is no exception. When Graham and Dan meet, sparks fly. But both men have pasts that influence who they are and what they expect from a relationship. For Graham, who left behind his ugly-duckling high school self, his past is a secret he doesn’t have the courage to share. And that secret could spell the end of his fledgling relationship with Dan. That’s the tension that needs a HEA. And I guarantee you’ll get the HEA. I hope it’ll leave you smiling, too.

Happy reading, and don’t forget to comment on this post to be entered to win the cool unisex “Follow your heart” bracelet I’m giving away at the end of the tour! –Shira


Can a swan make peace with his ugly duckling past? 

Chubby geek Jimmy Zebulon’s heart broke the day his high school crush, Danny Parker, looked on as his teammates tormented Jimmy. Fifteen years later, Jimmy is long gone, and from his ashes has risen Graham Swann, a movie-star-handsome law firm owner. Graham thinks Jimmy and his past are long forgotten—until attorney Dan Parker shows up for his first day of work. 

Getting injured playing college ball was the best thing that ever happened to Dan. It turned his future in a better direction and allowed him to emerge from the closet that trapped him.

Graham wants to believe his childhood dream can come true, but he can’t bring himself to tell Dan who he really is—and their pasts might ruin any chance for a happily ever after….




“Terri tells me you’re from my neck of the woods,” Dan said and leaned back in his chair.

Graham met Dan’s gaze. The urge to shift in his seat passed as he reasserted control. “Oh? Where would that be?” He made it his practice never to divulge too much about himself. Even Terri, whom he’d met when they were both taking prep classes for the Tennessee bar examination, only knew so much. The past was best forgotten.

“Carletonville. My folks still live out there.” Dan chuckled. “They still go to all the football games at Merrill High.”

Graham pretended the name hadn’t made his stomach drop into his feet. The back of his neck felt cold and clammy. “How nice,” he said evenly. “Did you play?”

“I did. But that was a long time ago,” Dan said with a sigh and shake of his head. “A different lifetime.”

“I see.” Graham glanced at his watch. He needed to end this interview soon or he’d lose his composure.

Fortunately, Dan got the message and stood. “I’m probably keeping you from something. I’m sure we’ll have more time to chat later.”

“I’ll have my assistant set up a few hours for us to go over strategy tomorrow morning.” Graham smiled and added, “Good to have you aboard.”

“Thanks again.”

Graham watched Dan leave, all the while struggling to keep his discomfort from showing. Dan closed the door behind him and Graham let out a long breath. How had he missed it before?

The Invincible Danny Parker. North Carolina All- State Quarterback of the Year. Full ride at Carolina. NCAA All-America Quarterback. A shoo-in for the pros until he tore his ACL in his senior year and had to quit the game.

Graham thought he’d forgotten what it felt like to sit in the mud as half the football team looked on and laughed, but he’d been wrong. All his memories came barreling back, and with them the pain and humiliation of fifteen years before.

The day after, he’d quit the band. When his mother remarried in June, they moved to Memphis and he took his stepfather’s name. He grew nearly eight inches his senior year.  He put high school and the chubby kid behind him. In college, he learned he didn’t have asthma at all—he’d been allergic to the mold in the Carletonville apartment where he and his mother lived. He started to exercise. His roommate taught him to play racquetball and he started running regularly. He got into shape and learned to imitate the way the popular students dressed. He was accepted into a great law school and never looked back.

Fifteen years before, Jimmy Zebulon, the chubby kid with a face covered in zits, left Carletonville and never returned. Jimmy had moved on with his life. He’d banished the memories and the shame. He’d been absolutely fine.

Until now.


About the Author

About Shira: Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: Shira’s Singing

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 35′ catamaran sailboat, Land’s Zen, at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.


Remember don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway for this every cool bracelet:



Jeff Adams and Will Knauss on Video Tour for The Hockey Player’s Heart (Hockey Hearts #1) (vid and giveaway)


The Hockey Player’s Heart (Hockey Hearts #1)
by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Bree Archer

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon: | iBooks  | Kobo  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jeff Adams and Will Knauss here today on their Video tour for The Hockey Player’s Heart.  Welcome, Jeff and Will.


Hi! We’re thrilled to be here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for the blog tour for The Hockey Player’s Heart. We hope you’ll have a look at the video to see an interview we did with each other using Scattered Thoughts great question list. Plus there are some other goodies below the video too, including giveaway info!


Hometown hero. Hockey superstar. Perfect boyfriend?

When hockey star Caleb Carter returns to his hometown to recover from an injury, the only thing he’s interested in is a little R & R. He never expects to run into his onetime crush at a grade school fund-raiser . Seeing Aaron Price hits him hard, like being checked into the boards. The attraction is still there, even after all these years, and Caleb decides to make a play for the schoolteacher. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, right?

Aaron has been burned by love before and can’t imagine what a celebrity like Caleb could possibly see in a guy like him. Their differences are just too great. But as Aaron spends more time with Caleb, he begins to wonder if he might have what it takes to win the hockey player’s heart.


Caleb worried that Aaron wasn’t having a good time. The evening was supposed to just be two people catching up. Yes, Caleb found Aaron more attractive than ever, and he’d love the chance to take things further. But he wouldn’t risk the renewed friendship, or Pam’s wrath, just to get what he’d wanted since he was sixteen. So far Aaron hadn’t seemed interested in going down that path.

“You sure this walk’s a good idea?” Even as he asked, Aaron led them away from where the SUV was parked and down a sidewalk filled with storefronts.

“If my foot acts up, I’ll let you know,” Caleb said as he looked at the buildings around them. “This area has really transformed. Pam said there’d been changes, but this is quite impressive.”

“Most of it’s happened in the last year. Nate moving in and updating the look of the building before he opened has a lot to do with it, from what I’ve heard. New places are still popping up in this area too.”

“I remember when hardly anything was open after seven, even on the weekends.” Caleb traded nods with the people who acknowledged him. “It’s weird seeing all this activity and it’s almost nine.”

“Pam and I spent many weekend nights sitting in the same booth at Denny’s because it was the only place open late.”

Caleb enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Denny’s was the place he and his teammates would go after hockey games because it could easily accommodate a couple dozen hungry teenagers. “It still around?”

“Oh yeah. Most of the new places are too expensive for the high school crowd, so they still end up there.”

“It’d be fun to get Pam and hang out in your old booth.” Caleb laughed at his idea. “If you’d let me, that is. You two never wanted me to hang around there.”

“You were a junior and her brother. It just wasn’t right.” Aaron became more animated and Caleb liked it. It was the freest Aaron had been all evening. “As the local sports star, I think you’d decide who could sit with you. And I’m sorry to say, our booth is gone. They remodeled, and that side of the restaurant is all freestanding tables and chairs.”

“I can’t believe Pam let them do that.”

“Right. Although she blames me since I wasn’t here to help stop it.” Aaron’s mood faltered. Caleb knew Pam would’ve only meant that as a joke, so the reaction was strange. “Sometimes she acts like I didn’t miss her because I didn’t visit, but it just never worked out.”

About the Authors

Jeff Adams and Will Knauss are husbands, authors, and podcasters based in Northern California. They write gay romances, sometimes together and other times separately. Jeff also writes young adult LGBT fiction. Together they host Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast, a weekly show devoted to gay romance literature and the pop culture they love.







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On Tour:

Anne Barwell on Research Ice Creams and her latest story Prelude to Love (guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)


Prelude to Love by Anne Barwell
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art : Bree Archer

Buy Links: Dreamspinner PressAmazonBarnes and Noble  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Anne Barwell here today. Welcome, Anne!

Research Ice Creams by Anne Barwell

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for Prelude to Love, a Dreamspun Desire novel from Dreamspinner Press.

I have a Rafflecopter running as part of the tour so be sure to enter. 

One of the things I really enjoyed about writing Prelude to Love was setting it locally, i.e. in Wellington, New Zealand.  After recently writing books set in the U.K, and WWII France and Germany, it was great not to have to spend hours pouring over google maps and reading guide books in order to get the locations right.

But that didn’t mean that I didn’t have to do some research…  It’s been a while since I stopped off at Oriental Bay in Wellington and had ice cream, and apparently things have changed since the last time I did.  One of my beta readers—Reesha—read the scene where Joel and Marcus meet at the beach for ice cream and told me that if they’re doing that, there’s a place they really need to go.  I googled the place she mentioned—Kaffee Eis—went through their menu and chose flavours I thought the guys would like.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go try them out as I had a deadline fast approaching, and I knew Reesha would pick up on any errors as she’d been there.

Fast forward about a month after I sent submitted the book and Reesha and I headed into Wellington after work to pick up a friend from the airport.  With time to spare, we stopped off at the location where that scene in the book takes place and…. went to Kaffee Eis for ice cream.  They were every bit as good as I’d imagined, and as a bonus we took photos of the ice cream, and the view from the waterfront as we ate them.

If you ever come to Wellington, walking along Oriental Parade with an ice cream from Kaffee Eis is definitely something I’d recommend!


Music speaks directly to the heart.


Two very different men face turning points in their lives after the collapse of long-term relationships….

Joel is a music teacher who knows it’s time to forget his ex and move on, while Marcus runs a lawn-mowing business and has come to Wellington to escape the reminders of a recent breakup. Although they’re opposites, when Joel and Marcus connect, their romance has the potential to hit all the right notes.


Too bad neither of them feels ready for new love.


With family and friends in common, dating is risky—things could get messy if it doesn’t work out. The sweet song of possibility draws them to each other, though, and they share a kiss following a Chopin prelude.  But it will take some practice and perseverance to find their perfect harmony….


Joel stood on the stage at the front of the orchestra. He looked up when the door opened, and smiled.

Several of the kids in the orchestra turned around to see what Joel was looking at. A couple of the girls sitting in the front row of violins glanced back at Joel and then again at Marcus, but didn’t say anything.

Joel cleared his throat. “Okay, let’s take that one from bar thirty. Everyone found that? It’s two bars before the first time bar, so we’re going to play from there and do the repeat. I’ll give you a bar for nothing.” He raised his baton. “One. Two. Three.”

The orchestra began playing one of the tunes Joel had been humming the week before.

Marcus found a seat at the front of the hall, next to a woman about his own age. She tapped her foot along with the music and kept her eyes on Joel more than the musicians did.

A few other adults sat around them, listening. One woman seemed absorbed in whatever was on her tablet, although she nodded in time with the music and looked up when the flutes began to play.

Probably parents come to pick up their kids.

Marcus suddenly felt the odd one out, although he didn’t regret coming. Joel had an intensity about him when he conducted that was missing when he gave piano lessons. Although he’d been focused on his students then too, this felt different. Conducting was something Joel clearly loved—it reminded Marcus of when Joel had played the prelude for him.

A trumpet blared, jarring Marcus from his thoughts.

Joel lowered his baton, and although most of the orchestra stopped, the kid playing the trumpet didn’t seem to notice.

“Quentin!” Joel called, and the kid suddenly stopped playing.

“Yes, Mr. Ashcroft?”

“I think you’re a couple of bars ahead of the rest of us,” Joel said. “You’re sounding great, but it doesn’t quite work if you come in at the wrong place.” He spoke softly, so it didn’t sound like a reprimand.

One of the boys playing clarinet grinned, and the girl next to him giggled.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Joel said. “Next time it might be someone else coming in at the wrong place. Even me.”

The whole orchestra laughed.

“Now,” Joel said, “I think we can run this through from where we were before, but this time we’ll just keep going until the end of the piece. So play the second time bar instead of the first. Okay?”



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You can follow the tour here:
January 2 – Happily Ever After Chapter
January 3 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
January 3 – Gillian St Kevern
January 4 – Love Bytes Reviews
January 5 – My Fiction Nook
January 8 – Kimi-chan Experience
January 8 – Two Men Are Better Than One
January 9 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews
January 10 – Dreamspinner Press Blog
January 11 – Anna Butler
January 12- Nic Starr
January 16 – Aisling Mancy

About the Author

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Website & Blog:


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New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers:

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Prelude to Love by Anne Barwell


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Music speaks directly to the heart.

Two very different men face turning points in their lives after the collapse of long-term relationships….

Joel is a music teacher who knows it’s time to forget his ex and move on, while Marcus runs a lawn-mowing business and has come to Wellington to escape the reminders of a recent breakup. Although they’re opposites, when Joel and Marcus connect, their romance has the potential to hit all the right notes.

Too bad neither of them feels ready for new love.

With family and friends in common, dating is risky—things could get messy if it doesn’t work out. The sweet song of possibility draws them to each other, though, and they share a kiss following a Chopin prelude. But it will take some practice and perseverance to find their perfect harmony…

Prelude to Love by Anne Barwell is another sweet, heartwarming romance in the Dreamspun Desires line from Dreamspinner Press.   Relatively low key and with only a bit of realistic family style angst, Barwell’s story is a lovely tale that gives a reader the flavor of the Wellington, New Zealand location, some believable characters and happy HEA that readers will be delighted with.

The cast that Barwell created for Prelude to Love here was immensely likeable and real, including the child and cat. I enjoyed following their interactions and relationship dynamics.  If the attraction between Joel and Marcus found it’s way from physical attraction and friendship to instant love, well, that for me was my only issue with this story.  At times they felt more like best friends instead of passionate lovers, and it was that missing “spark” here that made it and this couple a little less memorable for me.

The family drama between father and son over Joel’s homosexuality plays out realistically.  I was less sure how I felt about what it said about the relationship between Joel and Marcus and the events that took place.  I found myself less connected with them both than I should be.  It could be just me and someone else will feel more suitably empathetic than irritable, which is what I felt at certain points.

Prelude to Love by Anne Barwell is a sweet contemporary romance.  I love the Wellington location, that’ s  a plus for those of us who always want an extra look at the New Zealand city.  Want a new story?  Check out the latest from the Dreamspun Desires….

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  It’s a lovely cover, complete with the Wellington coastline.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 234 pages
Expected publication: January 2nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Cover Reveal for Teaching Ben by Shae Connor (guest blog and cover reveal)


Teaching Ben by Shae Connor
Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 20

Cover Artist:  Bree Archer

Hi all! I’m happy to be here with the cover reveal for my next novel, Teaching Ben. Part of the Dreamspun Desires line, Teaching Ben releases on February 20. The covers for the books in this line are built on a standard template—like many category romance lines—but Dreamspinner’s cover artists work wonders within those boundaries. I was thrilled with the cover that Bree Archer came up with for Teaching Ben, which is the story of a former military college student and the teaching assistant for one of his classes. It’s set at a fictional college in Savannah, Georgia.

And now… the cover!

Gorgeous, right??

Now here’s all the info you need to preorder Teaching Ben for yourself!


Learning to love means a study in patience.

Fresh out of the military, Ben Cooper is ready for a new start. He’s away from his domineering father, making his own choices… and out of the closet. On his first day of college, he meets David Powell, who’s just the kind of gorgeous man Ben’s dreamed of. Too bad he’s the teaching assistant—which makes him off-limits in Ben’s eyes.

David is Ben’s age, but his life has taken a different path. He’s close with his family, who helped him deal with personal struggles after he came out. And while he’s staying away from any hint of scandal, Ben’s a kind of temptation he hasn’t faced in years. If only they’d met on more equal footing.

As the semester progresses and their lives become more entwined, keeping their relationship platonic becomes more difficult. They just have to hold out until the end of the semester….

Length: 54,700 words

Price: $4.99

Preorder links (other links coming soon): Ebook/Paperback

Dreamspun subscriptions: Ebook/Paperback

About the Author

Shae Connor lives in Atlanta, where she’s a lackadaisical government worker for a living and writes sweet-hot romance under the cover of night. She’s been making things up for as long as she can remember, but it took her a while to figure out that maybe she should try writing them down.

A member of the Romance Writers of America, Shae was first published in 2010. She’s released a long list of short stories, novellas, and novels, and has won two Rainbow Awards for Best LGBT Anthology/Collection, for her novella bundle Hands On in 2017 and for the baseball-themed anthology Playing Ball in 2014. Her novel Unfortunate Son was a 2015 Rainbow Award finalist for Best Gay Erotic Romance.

Shae is part Jersey, part Irish, and all Southern, which explains why she never shuts up. When she’s not chained to her laptop, she enjoys cooking, traveling, watching baseball, reading voraciously, giving and receiving hugs, and wearing tiaras. She also volunteers as director and editor of the Dragon Con on-site publication, the Daily Dragon.

You can find Shae hanging out on Twitter most any time @shaeconnor, or on Facebook at, but for the more direct route, you can visit her website at or email her at shaeconnorwrites You can also sign up for her mailing list.

B.G. Thomas on Writing, Names and his latest novel ‘Getting His Man (Getting His Man #1)’ (guest post)


Getting His Man (Getting His Man #1) by B.G. Thomas
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

BUY LINKS: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Amazon UK

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host B.G. Thomas here today to talk about many things including his latest release, Getting His Man.  Welcome, Ben.


Hello Constant Readers!

My name, for those of you who don’t know me, is BG Thomas. But I prefer to be called Ben.

I wish I had gone with my first name when I started in this wonderful business, but it was a time where interviewers for jobs frequently Googled prospective employees, and I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. And sadly, if they saw that you wrote gay romance, they immediately jumped to the wrong idea and concluded that you wrote porn.

Geeze! One of my best friends introduced me to a group of his friends by telling them I wrote porn that made you cry and smile and…etc. I pulled him aside and asked him why he did that. “If I wrote heterosexual romances would you have told people I wrote porn?” He shamefaced told me no, and that he was sorry. But the kicker is—he is gay!

Things have changed enough that today I wouldn’t be concerned with a possible employer Googling me. Heck! I don’t care who knows what I do. And if they think I write porn, I don’t care. Except that if you are buying my new book, Getting His Man, or any of my books, for the sex, you’re going to be disappointed. Not that I don’t write good sex. I think I write hot sex. But it is also sweet, and doesn’t come into the story until the very right moment!

Here are some questions that Scattered Thoughts and Rouge Words asked me to answer. I hope you enjoy…!

STaRW: How much of yourself goes into a character?

Ben: Well, it depends on the character. Some yes, some no. For instance, in my new book, there is a lot of me in Artie. In fact, the whole part where he gets arrested for drug dealing could very well have happened to me. My first roommate was quite the druggie and blasted his music and when you walked into the apartment building, you could often smell the pot smoke downstairs. I was scared to death I would get arrested. I used the scenario and how I would have reacted if I actually would have gotten in trouble with the law. Then with the other character in the book, August, well I am no fearless bounty hunter! LOL! August is more of a dream man hero, or even the kind of man I wish I could be.

STaRW: 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?

Ben: Oh yes! Most of my novels take me two to four months to write. Winter Heart took me over a year. The main character, Wyatt, was very much a reflection of me and what I went through with an emotionally and mentally abusive ex-spouse. It kept bringing up so much hurt and pain I had to set it aside. But it was also cathartic and helped me work through it all, and heal as well!

STaRW: Do you like to write HFN or HEA? And why?

Ben: Again, it depends on the book. But I can tell you as the writer, pretty much any story I end with for a HFN? It is a HEA! The book just doesn’t go on long enough for the reader to know that for sure. That is why my characters are bound to show up in other books so readers can see that the lovers from one book are still happily together weeks, months, and even years later!  🙂

STaRW: 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.

Ben: LOL! Would you believe it if I said, again, that it depends on the scene/book? See I have written scenes where my character got drunk or stoned or whatever and I got pretty darned tipsy to feel what they were feeling and wrote it from that angle. In another story was sort of a paranormal experience they were having. The “drunk” state helped me write the scene with that “feeling.” And I was surprised (and happy) how very little editing I had to do. And as some famous person once said, “Write drunk, edit sober!”

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

Ben: A beach house. OMGosh yes! With lots of glass. And a big deck. I am a water baby and that connection to the sea would be unbelievable. A house that is not crammed up against the next house. Not a mile away mind you! Oh no. I am way too social an animal for that. I like people. So I’d want the ability to have privacy, but also to have coffee with a neighbor. And I wouldn’t mind if I had lots of gay neighbors. The commonality would be wonderful and a constant influence and inspiration.

 STaRW: 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?

Ben: Yes. That is exactly what I do and why.

 STaRW: What’s next for you as a writer?

Ben: In several of my novels some of my characters have gone to a vegan restaurant called Café Namasté. I am finally writing the story about the man who owns that place. I am learning a lot. And it is going to be a book that explains, lets you get away, to move past and to widen your knowledge. And it is going to make you laugh and cry too. And get all gushy inside. And maybe turn you on too!

And there! I hope you liked my answers. Now here is the cover blurb of my new book!


A love story worthy of an old movie… with a new twist.

Artie needs a hero, a man like those he’s always revered in Golden Age films. His drug-dealing jerk of a roommate got him arrested, and since his savior isn’t likely to sweep in and save the day, Artie calls a bail bondsman.

August has always imagined himself a hero from a black-and-white movie, but he’s never found a man willing to let him play that role—at least not until he gets the call from Artie.

Both of their dreams might come true, but not before August must use his skills as a bounty hunter as well as a bondsman. Artie is on the run for his life, and August must protect him and help him clear his name. Only then can they both finally get their man.

And hey, after you’re done reading it, I would love to hear what you think!

Love, Namasté, and Happy Holidays!

BG “Ben” Thomas

About the Author

B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and their fabulous dogs Sarah Jane and Oliver. He is blessed to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends. He has a great passion for life.

B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to literature conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.

In the nineties, he wrote for gay adult magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. He submitted a novella and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the romantic tales have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of story-telling!”

In 2015 he made an entry every day in his blog “365 Days of Silver,” where he found something every day to be grateful for. You can find it right here:

“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message. “It is never too late,” he testifies. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”


A MelanieM Release Day Review: High Test by Elizabeth Noble


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The coffee is rich. Hayden isn’t. But Neal doesn’t need to know that—yet.

Hayden Owens is just your typical graduate student working his way through school as a barista for the Owens Coffee Company—no relation. But he keeps the “no relation” part to himself when he meets dashing architect, Neal Kirchner, a successful older man from an old-money family. Hayden doesn’t exactly lie, but he figures it can’t hurt for Neal to believe he’s a rich kid. After all, Hayden doesn’t want Neal thinking he’s a gold digger.

The closer they become, the harder it gets for Hayden to come clean. Something always seems to get in the way. When a company bankruptcy and a jilted, vindictive woman threaten to expose his charade, Hayden thinks it’s all gone down the drain. Luckily Neal is ready with some innocent trickery of his own.

High Test by Elizabeth Noble is a sweet contemporary romance from Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Desires line.  While not exactly Cinderfella, it does have the rich man/poor man trope down  as part of the storyline.  Student Hayden Owens meets older rich Neal Kirchner at his university function for his department.  Their attraction is mutual and a relationship is built over a succession of dates.

The author’s characterizations are solid and multidimensional. We immediately like both men and understand the attraction between them, the age difference notwithstanding.  The same goes for the vast disparity in station and income…we are able to see the imbalance through the descriptions of Neal’s attire, house, etc. but his mannerisms are such, that he gently makes that fade away in his actions towards Hayden.  This is a lovely romance and their interactions and personal dynamics as they work their way towards a relationship will have you rooting for the couple.

There is some drama as there should be and then a wonderful finale.  All ends well and downright as romantically as you would have hoped for. Such a sweet, warm hearted read that I can’t help but smile as I recommend it to all lovers of romantic stories.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  I love the cover art and the character it represents.  Just perfect.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 202 pages
Expected publication: December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635339642
Edition Language English