A MelanieM Release Day Review: All In (Wild Cards #3) by Ava Drake

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All In by Ava Drake

Rating 3 stars out of 5

In crime, like in love, there can be no half measures….

Fashion model Zane Stryker needs money—badly. At almost thirty, his glory days are behind him, and he needs capital to start over. When his luggage is switched with a bag containing contraband he’s forced to deliver, it’s either the worst thing that’s ever happened to him… or the best.

Enter Sebastian Gigoni, formerly of the British Special Forces, who has to decide just where Zane’s loyalty lies and why. Sizzling attraction erupts between them, but that doesn’t mean they can trust each other. They double down in a race for their lives—and their love—but are their purposes at odds? As they struggle to reconcile their goals, their consciences, and the needs of their hearts, one thing is clear—they must go all in or give up altogether.

All In is the third story in the Wilds Cards series by Ava Drake and I have to admit it was a fun if improbable read.  You have a gorgeous fashion model Zane Stryker who ends up in the middle of a crime/espionage case via a suitcase which is a well established trope true. Throw in a mystery man named Sebastian Gigoni, who eventually turns out to be formerly of the British Special Forces (of course we don’t get that at the beginning, neither does Zane), so the confusion is rampant and complete.

I get that March was going for that old zany sort of adventure/mystery/scarum sort of thing done in the 60’s with Audrey Hepburn with Grant or other leading men.  Those were fun comedies with just enough thrillers to make us fear for the couple.  But this just didn’t make sense at parts or perhaps there just wasn’t enough time to make a big enough connection between the two main character for this to work for me.  Why on earth would these men trust each other given their actions? Not a clue….

And that ending?  Truly far fetching even for a Dreamspun Desires title.  Sweet though, and very romantic even as it had it rolling my eyes a bit.

For this series, the best remains the first story which I adored, Ace in the Hole (Wild Cards #1).  I thought that was just terrific and wish to see that couple revisited again.

But until then.  All In is a nice little romance adventure to while away your afternoon with.

Cover art by Bree Archer is terrific.  Love the action and drama. Great job.

Sales Links : Dreamspinner Press

Book Details:

ebook, 178 pages
Published July 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635336511
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

 

A Lila Audiobook Review: Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony and Narrator: Andrew McFerrin

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

It’s dangerous diving for secrets.

When a mega company threatens to take over his family-owned business, programming prodigy Adam Preston escapes the stress with a much-needed vacation in the Dominican Republic. There he meets attractive, intelligent, insightful Jonah James, a scuba dive instructor, and what starts as a holiday fling soon blossoms into much more.

But Jonah has a secret: ten years ago he woke up on an island beach with no idea how he got there… or even who he is. Their paradise may not be as perfect as it seems. When Jonah’s memories come crashing back like waves on the sand, will it be Adam clinging to the proverbial life raft, or will the two men find a safe harbor to ride out the storm?

Forgotten Paradise is a quick summer read with a delightful love story. Perfect for a relaxing afternoon in the company of great characters and an easy going, but interesting plot.  The traditional troupes of this series let the reader’s imagination free and into a travel adventure.

Adam and Jonah are both “bigger than life characters.” They live in that imaginary bubble with all want to believe in. The spin on the amnesia plot brought the two parts of the story together–the vacation and their real lives.  I enjoyed the time the author took making each part unique.

There are a lot of descriptions about the settings, the diving trips, and Adam’s vacation. It was a bit overwhelming at times, but it added to the color of the story. The romance itself is the central part, but the small twists and turns framed the story well.

One thing I appreciated about the story was the path Adam and Jonah followed. They both grew as individuals and businessmen. And their HEA work well with the rest of the story.

Andrew McFerrin did a remarkable job with the narration. My only complaint comes from the accents of the Dominican characters. They really didn’t sound the part, but overall, it was an enjoyable work.

The cover by Bree Archer matches the series and Jonah’s description. A bit generic, but it follows the format.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Andrew McFerrin
Length: 5 hours 49 minutes
Published: June 1, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B071LTJB8J
Edition Language: English

Amy Lane Sharing “too quiet” kid stories on her Manny Get Your Guy Tour (author guest post)

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Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art by Paul Richmond
Available for Purchase at:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is so happy to have Amy Lane back again, this time sharing “too quiet” kid stories on her ‘Manny Get Your Guy‘ tour.  Welcome, Amy!

 

…too quiet… Part 3 by Amy Lane

So my last two posts in the tour have been “too quiet” kid stories—and seriously, most parents have a zillion of them. Somewhere in my archives I’ve got pictures of not one, but TWO little girls who thought it would be a laugh riot to get into mom’s makeup when they were bored. Squish’s picture has lipstick everywhere on her face. Chicken’s has mascara EVERYWHERE—right after her bath.  Never turn your back on them—something will attack.

But in a bustling household, sometimes, you just can’t be everywhere at once. And sometimes, little things get overlooked.

Our cable service provider is Comcast. I know—this doesn’t SEEM like it has anything to do with childcare, but bear with me.  Because in our neighborhood, we can have Comcast or Direct TV, and at one point in time—back when Squish was a baby and Zoomboy could fit in tiny places—we thought we were getting Direct TV.

The two bozos they sent to drill holes in our house and restring all our cables and generally screw up our entertainment system were not only not very bright—they were also not very FAST. They instilled maximum damage, but it took them nine hours of walking in and out of my relatively crowded, busy house in order to do it. And in the meantime, I had to make dinner and give baths and generally try to run my house while Mate said things like, “Do we HAVE to drill the hole?”

Anyway…

Around about hour seven, it got to be “too quiet.”

We were missing a kid. 

Strange people had been going in and out of our house all day and WE WERE MISSING A KID.

MANHUNT!

Lock the dog in the bedroom, the big kids were looking under the bed, in the closets, behind the shoes, Squish was clung to, on somebody’s hip, as the whole family wandered our 1000 foot square house with increasing panic, screaming ZoomBoy’s name.

WE COULDN’T FIND ZOOMBOY!

The panic.

Seriously.

The panic.

Mate ran a circle around the block, and we couldn’t find him.

He ran the half-mile, larger circle.

Nothing.

I got into the car and turned on my brights and tooled around the neighborhood. Holy God, my kid was missing, I was going to have to call the police, I was going to have to issue an amber alert, I was going to have to…

Slow down as I was pulling into my driveway because he was running out of the house looking really pleased with himself.

“Mom! Mom! I hid between the coffee table and the couch and NOBODY FOUND ME!”

I almost smacked my child in the face.

“Were… uh… were we uh playing hide-and-seek?” I asked, spots floating in front of my eyes.

“No. I just thought I’d hide.”

“Uh, okay, hon. That was, uh, special. Maybe next time, tell somebody we’re playing that game? Mom was really worried.”

“Okay. Where’d you go?”

“TO FIND YOU!”

“But I was in the coffee table!”

“I know that now.”

“Are you okay?”

“I need to go cry on Dad now.”

“Can the guys go?”

“Yes.”

“Are they done?”

“I don’t care.”

“Good. They’re loud.”

So, yeah. Too quiet.

Also, a lesson in how no matter how hard you try as a parent, you never have it nailed down. 

By the way—Direct TV? Didn’t work. We had no service for the first 48 hours and when we complained they told us we’d forfeit our deposit if we quit now.

We forfeited the deposit, fixed the hole in our wall, and never ever strayed from Comcast again.

And we made it a family rule that you could never, ever, ever start a game of hide-and-seek unless you told people that you were hiding first.

Yeesh… I have to admit, I feel bad giving Taylor four kids and chaos for this book. I mean, I survived it, but poor Taylor.

He’s not going to know what hit him.

It’s a good thing Brandon’s there to help.

Blurb

The Mannies

Starting over and falling in love.

Tino Robbins’s sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica’s best friend, Taylor Cochran, is back in town, released from PT and in need of a job.

After years in the service and recovering from grave injury, Taylor has grown a lot from the callow troublemaker he’d been in high school. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start with Nica and her family.

Jacob’s cousin Brandon lives above the garage and thinks “Taylor the manny” is a bad idea. Taylor might be great at protecting civilians from a zombie apocalypse, but is he any good with kids?

Turns out Taylor’s a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn’t just love their family—he’s desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.

Sequel to:

The Virgin Manny

Blurb:

The Mannies

Growing up and falling in love…

Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver her premade Italian dinners when he should be studying for finals, he’s pretty sure it’s the latter! But one delivery might change everything.

Channing Lowell’s charmed life changes when his sister dies and leaves him her seven-year-old son. He’s committed to doing what’s best for Sammy… but he’s going to need a lot of help. When Tino lands on his porch, Channing is determined to recruit him to Team Sammy.

Tino plans to make his education count—even if that means avoiding a relationship—but as he falls harder and harder for his boss, he starts to wonder: Does he have to leave his newly forged family behind in order to live his promising tomorrow?

Available at:  Amazon

Blog Tour Dates:

June 24 – MM Good Book Reviews

June 27 – My Fiction Nook

June 28 – Open Skye Book Reviews

July 1 – Boy Meets Boy

July 3 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words  

July 5 – Love Bytes

July 6 – Long and Short Reviews

  

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Starting over and falling in love.

Tino Robbins’s sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica’s best friend, Taylor Cochran, is back in town, released from PT and in need of a job.

After years in the service and recovering from grave injury, Taylor has grown a lot from the callow troublemaker he’d been in high school. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start with Nica and her family.

Jacob’s cousin Brandon lives above the garage and thinks “Taylor the manny” is a bad idea. Taylor might be great at protecting civilians from a zombie apocalypse, but is he any good with kids?

Turns out, Taylor’s a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn’t just love their family—he’s desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.

Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane is a sweet, heartwarming romance.  I’m just in love with this series!  The first, The Virgin Manny (The Mannies #1), with Channing Lowell and Tino Robbins gave us the foundation families and characters with Tino as the original Manny.  It was a terrific story but I have to admit I loved this one better.  Taylor Cochran was a shallow, sort of bad guy in that story.  Here in Manny Get Your Guy Tay gets his redemption, a new family, and a HEA love.  Yep, I’m all behind that.  That’s Tay on the cover with one of the Nica brood and it’s a perfect representation.  

Taylor’s horrible upbringing, his deep friendship with Nica, his issues with his sexuality and his injuries while in the service are all brought up and inspected here.  We see what made Taylor act the way he did in the first story and the  growth he shows here.  It’s an incredible range of character development and it works to not only bring the reader closer to Tay but also to make us see just how badly he needs the family slowly forming around him.

Brandon, with his snap judgements, actually was harder for me to like, funnily enough.  It wasn’t until he got over them and decided that Taylor was ok with with children that I started to connect with Brandon as well.

The children here are a real plus!  They are genuine, funny, and their interactions with Taylor made me laugh and sometimes cry.  Amy Lane does this family thing so well, pulling at our hearts with so  many elements in play, children, family, romance and more.  It all works.

It also makes me wonder where the series will go next.  Goodness knows Nica has enough children for 4 mannies.  I can hardly wait for book three.

I highly recommend Manny Get Your Guy.  Its heartwarming, tender, well-written and wonderful.  That cover says it all.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  This has to be one of my favorite covers. As the most famous nanny in the world would say ” Practically Perfect in every way.”

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635336474
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Mannies #2

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Romancing the… #2) by Clare London

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Is this the makeover of a lifetime?

Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.

Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.

Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.

Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Romancing the… #2) by Clare London is everything I look for in a contemporary romance and more.  Beautifully written, great characters, fantastic storytelling! I fell completely in love with every aspect of Clare London’s tale, from the characters to the location (especially the location) to the plot.  This is one of those stories I just wanted to add on a star or plus sign because the characters touched me so.

Told from both Perry and  Greg’s povs, the blurb doesn’t give the reader any idea of the bad situation Perry is in when given the assignment by his boss to track down the estranged brother of a popular “pop/media” family to bring him back into the fold for a TV reality show.  Perry is in a bad situation at home, due to an ex-boyfriend and the stress at work, the family is a challenge to work with and the place he must travel to?  An unknown factor to Perry.

Greg Ventura left family, his brothers and their bullying behind, preferring life on the isolated isle of North Uist.  There he’s made a life without tvs or media and even phone for the most part.  So it’s not surprising he’s unaware of the arrival on the island of one Perry Goodwood, there to bring him home and make him over.  But Perry’s arrived under the worst conditions, Greg’s not only what he not expected but he’s refusing all offers and Perry’s stuck.  It’s such a engaging situation and London makes it magical.

North Uist is a featured  player here along with all its inhabitants and local charm.  It pulls the reader in as thoroughly as it did Greg and it does Perry,  the landscape’s harsh beauty combining with the warm-hearted, enveloping nature of the villagers and the isolation provide a enchantment that serves as a solid foundation for story and romance.  I wanted to find a plane, then a ferry, and then immerse myself in life here as well.  It’s as real to me as anywhere I’ve ever visited and the pull here feels true.

With North Uist as the background, having two main characters such as Perry and Grey, well, the story becomes irresistible imo.  Greg has been so wounded by his family, his brothers specifically.  Constantly belittled and bullied, made to feel ugly and not wanted, that mindset became a permanent part of his emotional and mental state.  He’s withdrawn to the island, almost hiding thinking himself unworthy in so many ways, unable to see himself as others do.  That he has friends who look after him, trying to pull him into the meager social life of the isle is testament that they see him far more clearly than he sees himself.  Greg is a wonderfully constructed character and watching the layers peel away here is a true joy of this story.

Perry also is a bundle of pleasing depth.  Interested about everything, outgoing, he finds himself embracing the island and its people to his surprise.  And Greg too.  From Greg’s introduction (and his stone cottage and his dog) to Perry, we are both completely lost in their relationship.  Perry is intelligent, charming and perceptive.  He’s a great match for Greg, and for the island itself.  He  just has to figure that out.

But it’s not just the main characters, it’s all the other people you meet here.  From Bridie, Greg’s friend, Greg’s dog Rory, the people at the pub, Marty who gets the fresh scallops and so many others, you’ll feel like you’ve known these people for a lifetime.  You get tangled up in the lives of island, how it’s lived…how they share it together. It’s a strength here as well as the fear from the parents that all the young people will be lost to the mainland.  I don’t know…I just can’t say enough about this entire story.

Yes, I can.  I didn’t want it to end.  I could have happily stayed there, watching these men live out their lives among friends.  I wanted to see that too.  Leaving that place left me sort of heartbroken.  I wasn’t ready.  But I was so happy to have read it in the first place.  You will be too.  I’m putting Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Romancing the… #2) by Clare London on my highly recommended list.  Don’t miss this one!

Cover art by Bree Archer is perfect with the island in the back and Perry in the front.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, Dreamspun Desires #36, 260 pages
Expected publication: June 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleRomancing the Ugly Duckling
ISBN139781635333879
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Romancing the… #2 settingScotland

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Two Cowboys and a Baby (Dreamspun Desires #30) by B.A. Tortuga and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

A little bundle of joy means big changes.

 

Hoss McMasters has a working ranch, a bull riding career, a nosy momma, and a best friend he’s been in love with since he can remember. He’s a busy, happy cowboy, living the good life.

 

Then one morning he discovers a baby on his doorstep.

 

Well, Hoss does what any reasonable man would do—he calls his momma and his buddy, Sheriff Pooter, and they head to the clinic to see if Doc knows of any suddenly not-so-pregnant girls.

 

In the meantime, Hoss and his best friend, Bradley, have their hands full trying to care for an infant, run a ranch, and deal with the sudden confession that Bradley doesn’t hate Hoss for coming out to him in high school. In fact, Bradley’s been trying to catch Hoss’s attention for damn near a decade.

 

This was essentially a sweet story the biggest problem is that these two don’t know how to communicate, at all.  They have been completely oblivious to each other for years with Hoss actually thinking his best friend really hates him to being gay but still letting him live on his property and spending time together.  Huh?  That just confused me even more.

 

I could see Hoss’s confusion when it came to the baby showing up on his porch, I mean really who would expect a man with no experience with children to suddenly be willing and able to be the care giver to a baby that showed up on his porch?  He and Bradley work well together taking care are the baby and starting to show each other how they feel when they are thrown another curve ball.  And Bradley does what he did in high school, basically runs away to protect himself.  I was glad that they were able to work things out but up until the very end both of them were so unsure of their relationship I had trouble really connecting with them.

 

Dorian Bane did a nice job narrating this story.  I was able to keep track of the story and characters which is always nice.  I enjoyed the different voice he used and he portrayed their emotions and personalities well.

 

Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and follows the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 5hrs 51min
Published April 25, 2017 (ebook first published March 15, 2017) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Dreamspun Desires

Release Blitz and Review Tour for Clare London’s Romancing The Ugly Duckling (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 63,000 words
 
 
 
Blurb

 

Is this the makeover of a lifetime?


Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.


Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.


Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.

Excerpt

After the meal, they settled in the living room again. Greg poured himself a glass of what he introduced as his homemade wine, but Perry politely declined a glass for himself. He couldn’t recall any decent wine he’d ever drunk being that particular shade of purple. He was definitely making a mental shopping list for when he could find somewhere civilized, and gin and tonic would come several steps above couscous on that.

Greg picked up a book and started reading. Perry waited a while—after deciding against asking what they could watch on the miniscule TV in the corner of the living room, with obvious dust settling on the controls—then coughed to get Greg’s attention. “Where do you need me tomorrow?”

Greg peered at him over the book. “What are you talking about?”

“Working together, remember? Um. What exactly do you do, apart from painting?”

Greg’s look was possibly sly, but that could have been due to the waning light outside the cottage.

“Sometimes I work in the Sea Bird restaurant.”

Perry thought he remembered seeing a sign to that place on his journey here in Dougie’s car. The building itself had been very small, more like a tea room, with a single light on in the front porch, and it didn’t look very open for business. But he’d go with the flow. “Are you a chef?”

Greg laughed. He seemed more relaxed tonight. “No, I think you’ve realized my cooking skills aren’t the best. And it’s not really big enough for a chef and full kitchen staff. I mean, it wouldn’t meet your London standards.”

“That has nothing to do with anything.”

“What?”

“My London… standards, experience, whatever you want to call it. I’m in Uist now, and I want to know what you do here.”

Greg was looking at him oddly. Was he, Perry, coming across as too bossy? God, this man was impossible to gauge properly.

“It’s more of a large dining room where friends can hang out.” Greg still sounded reasonably relaxed. “It’s owned by a couple of elderly sisters who are marvelous cooks, and we sometimes hire it out for a celebration. We’re not big on dinner parties here, you can imagine. I help out with serving when it’s busy. But mainly I provide the fish dishes, especially scallops.”

“You’re a fisherman?”

Greg nodded slowly, his gaze still on Perry. “Yes, you could say that. I’m a diver. I dive for scallops.”

“Can’t you just… I don’t know.” Buy them in a shop? “Don’t they have official suppliers?”

Greg frowned. “Hand-collected scallops are better. The sweeter ones are chosen, and the dish is more precious. Haven’t you ever tasted the difference?”

It pained Perry to admit weakness, but he did. “I’ve never had scallops in my life.”

Greg’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you lived in the center of the sophisticated city?”

“We can’t all afford posh restaurants,” Perry snapped back, then blushed at—yet again—having to admit shortcoming.

“Oh.” Greg blinked. “Well, you’ll see them in the raw when you come out in the boat tomorrow with me.”

“When I…? Tomorrow…? Boat?”

Greg smiled slowly. “Yes. The weather should be fine, so I’m driving west past Lochmaddy to one of my favorite coastal seawater lochs. I’ll pack some provisions so we can eat lunch there. You can help carry the equipment, then collect the scallops into boxes and keep watch for me.”

“We… I….” Perry was struggling for words. Worse, Greg seemed to realize it and find it highly amusing. “I’ve never been in one.”

“One what?”

“Boat. I’ve never been in a boat. Well, until the ferry two days ago.”

Greg nodded, also slowly. “That’s fine. You can stay here if you want.”

“No!” Perry’s cry was instinctive. Did this brute of a bloke think he, Perry, was a lightweight? “I will not! We made a deal.”

“Okay. Well, I hope Bridie brought a selection of decent waterproofs as well as your day clothes, because you’ll need them.”

“You said the weather should be fine….”

“Just in case,” Greg said ominously. He concentrated back on his book.

Perry sat silently for a long moment. In fact, everything was silent, inside the cottage and out, apart from the occasional call from a bird, and Greg turning a page. Perry wasn’t used to such quiet. Nor was he used to living in close quarters with a man who barely tolerated him, and actually wanted him to get lost. There was a small pile of paperbacks on the table beside Greg’s armchair, and Perry picked one up. He also wasn’t used to reading anthologies of horror stories, his preference being for romantic comedies and the occasional biography—but he supposed there was always a first time. Opening it to the first chapter, he bit back a sigh. At least he’d won this stage of the battle with Greg Ventura, and he had more time to convince him about the TV project.

But thinking about the trip out onto a likely freezing Scottish loch tomorrow, he wasn’t sure whether the price would be too much to pay.

Author Bio


Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.


She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.


Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Breaking Bonds (The Walker Boys 2) by Ari McKay

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

From the frying pan into the fire.

After a critic’s review attacks both Chef Liam Walker’s culinary skills and his personal life, Liam can no longer take the heat of the cutthroat New York City restaurant scene. He needs to get out of the kitchen—at least long enough to cool down and regroup.

At the Overlook Resort in North Carolina, Liam meets owner Carter Galloway. Carter has a passion for the hospitality business to rival Liam’s own, and it’s not hard to see where their shared interests—and attraction—could lead. But Carter has no interest in a fling, and Liam has no intention of walking away from the career he fought so hard for. If they want a taste of happiness together, they’ll have to find the courage to break the bonds threatening to pull them apart.

Breaking Bonds by Ari McKay is the second in The Walker Boys series and my favorite so far.  For me, Breaking Bonds has everything the first one, Striking Sparks, didn’t.  From the gorgeous setting in the Smokies (a favorite location of mine) near Asheville to the mouthwatering food descriptions and finally to the great chemistry between two layered MCs, Breaking Bonds has exactly what I look for in a sweet contemporary romance.

Breaking Bonds is about the ties that bind us, in this case it’s Carter to his family’s expectations of him and their future for him which run counter to his dreams.  Its also about their lack of acceptance of his homosexuality, thinking it “phase” or action to get back at them.  Torn between trying to be a “good son” and himself,  it’s cost him financially  and emotionally everything as he chose his own path.  Carter is so open a character, so vulnerable that it’s easy to feel for him at this moment where he could lose everything.  That McKay surrounds with a staff every bit as charming and easy to connect with is a plus.  Rocky, the young chef, is especially appealing.

Chef Liam Walker also has many ties around him, some he acutely aware of that’s pushing him in directions he’s not even sure he wants.  He’s too busy to think about directions any more, consumed by the restaurant and his mentor’s and owner Marco’s demands.  Primed for the ultimate success in NYC, one bad review and rash action because of anger issues sees Liam needing a vacation from the stress and demands of the restaurant.  That first night at the Overlook does not go well for either man.  It’s so realistically written that you both cringe and laugh at the same time, then as it plays out the humor turns to sadness for all involved.

The romance here is balanced by the needs of the men to figure out their futures, their businesses and how to break the ties, the bonds holding them back.  As they do so, we also get wonderful recipes, a lush location and a great cast of secondary character (yes, I’m talking about Rocky…I adore that boy).

I have really come to love the Dreamspun Desires line from Dreamspinner Press and this story is a great example why.  Its sweet, romantic and you can read it as a standalone without having read the first one.  I wonder what the Walker Boys have in store for us next.  Bring it on, Ari McKay!

Cover Artist: Bree Archer gets the backdrop just right and the character too. Very inviting.

Sales Links

 Dreamspinner PressAmazon  | Barnes & Noble

 

Book Details:

ebook, Dreamspun Desires #35, 190 pages
Expected publication: June 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleBreaking Bonds
ISBN 163533151X (ISBN13: 9781635331516)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Walker Boys #2

Ari Mckay on Breaking Bonds (guest post and excerpt)

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Breaking Bonds (The Walker Boys #2) by Ari McKay
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reamspinner Press

Buy Links

 Dreamspinner PressAmazon  | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Arionrhod of Ari McKay here today talking about the second book of their  Walker Boys series, Breaking Bonds.  Welcome!

✒︎

Hello, everyone! Thanks for taking time out of your day to spend a few minutes with me today. I’m Arionrhod, the “Ari” half of Ari McKay, and I’m here to talk a bit about our upcoming release on June 1, Breaking Bonds.

This story is the second involving one of the Walker Boys, our fictional family of Texas hunks who love cooking. Like his cousin Beau from Striking Sparks, Liam Walker was born with a spatula in one had and a tasting spoon in his mouth. But Liam’s path takes him out of Texas, to the cutthroat culinary world of New York City, where he spends almost a decade working his way up the ladder. He has the good fortune to be discovered by a famous celebrity chef, Marco Cabrisi, who makes Liam the executive chef of one of his premiere restaurants. Yet even as Liam stands only one step away from the dream of opening his own restaurant, his temper lands him in hot water. Marco tells him to take a vacation to cool off, and so he picks a resort at random — and finds himself taking up the role of savior for handsome resort owner Carter Galloway.

Carter has some issues of his own, trying to fulfill his dream of owning his own resort, against the wishes of his domineering parents. The Overlook has potential, but Carter is cash-strapped and stretched incredibly thin. He knows he’s taking a risk when he hires an inexperienced chef, but he doesn’t know just how bad things are until Liam Walker complains about the food. He’s desperate enough that he accepts Liam’s offer of help in getting the restaurant turned around, and can’t help being attracted to Liam playing white knight.

As the two of them work together, they realize they have great chemistry, but they both have obligations that prevent them from acting on it. Carter isn’t going to fuel the prejudices of his homophobic parents by engaging in a short term fling — no matter how much he really wants to — and unfortunately, Liam has a life and commitments in New York, so he can’t offer anything else. That is the central conflict of the story — both men finding a way to cut the chains binding them to the past in order to embrace a future together.

It’s not all conflict, of course! There is a real connection between Carter and Liam, and they each recognize the passion in the other, and the desire to succeed. Plus there is great food, amazing scenery, and a lot of Southern charm.  We hope you’ll give Breaking Bonds a try — this was one of my favorite stories that we’ve ever written, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Here’s a little taste, to whet your appetite. Bon appetit!

After they were loaded up, Liam asked Eckhart for recommendations for meat markets, pulled out his phone, and made note of the information.

“I think that takes care of everything here,” Liam said. “Shall we tackle the meat now? I think Rocky can handle lunch. We’re keeping it simple, and I made the soups during breakfast.”

Carter knew Liam’s comment about tackling the meat wasn’t meant to be suggestive, but that he wanted to snicker like a twelve-year-old meant that he’d probably been celibate too long. “Meat tackling sounds good to me,” he replied as he started up the van.

Liam turned in his seat, raising one eyebrow as if he’d read something of Carter’s thoughts in the tone of his voice. “It sounds good to me too,” he drawled. “I normally frown on mixing business and pleasure, but considering I’m not really your employee, I suppose it doesn’t cross that boundary.”

Carter shot a wide-eyed look at Liam, startled that Liam had not only picked up on his innuendo but had also responded with such bluntness. At least that answered the question of Liam’s sexuality.

“I—uh—” Carter floundered for a way to respond that wouldn’t offend Liam, because he couldn’t get involved, not even short term. He had too little time in the day as it was, and besides, he was fighting enough hard battles with his parents already. He didn’t have the energy to start waging another one. “I’m sorry if that was inappropriate. You’re an attractive man, but you’ve made it clear you’re only here for two weeks, and I don’t do flings.”

Liam looked at him for a long moment, then shrugged. “Sure,” he said, not seeming offended, though there might have been just a touch of disappointment in his voice. “To be honest, part of the reason I said it was because I caught the flirtation last night. I was trying to see if that was actual interest or if that’s just your way.”

“A little of both,” Carter replied, deciding he might as well be honest. Liam was attractive, and under different circumstances, Carter would have taken him up on the offer, but the timing was all wrong right now. “I’ll stop if it bothers you, though. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

With a snort of amusement, Liam shook his head. “I’ve spent the last ten years in New York City, working as everything from a dishwasher to an executive chef. I’ve seen it all, son—and been hit on by half of it.” A slight shadow crossed his face, but it was gone quickly. “It takes a lot more than an innocent bit of flirtation to ruffle my feathers.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” Carter smiled, relieved to know he hadn’t damaged their working relationship. “So which of the meat markets do you want to try first?”

BLURB

From the frying pan into the fire.

After a critic’s review attacks both Chef Liam Walker’s culinary skills and his personal life, Liam can no longer take the heat of the cutthroat New York City restaurant scene. He needs to get out of the kitchen—at least long enough to cool down and regroup.

At the Overlook Resort in North Carolina, Liam meets owner Carter Galloway. Carter has a passion for the hospitality business to rival Liam’s own, and it’s not hard to see where their shared interests—and attraction—could lead. But Carter has no interest in a fling, and Liam has no intention of walking away from the career he fought so hard for. If they want a taste of happiness together, they’ll have to find the courage to break the bonds threatening to pull them apart.

About the Author(s)

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

Arionrhod and McKay

CONTACTS:

An Ali Audiobook Review: Snowblind by Eli Easton and Narrator: John Solo

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Snow, steam, and secrets.

The latest snowstorm carries something unexpected to the doorstep of Hutch’s secluded Alaskan cabin: a stranger named Jude, the most beautiful man Hutch has ever seen. Jude says he’s in the area for a ski trip and that he fled a domineering lover, thinking he could make it into town. But Hutch is a suspicious SOB and treats his unwanted guest warily. The problem is Jude isn’t just gorgeous, he’s funny and smart and flirtatious.

Two gay men snowed in for three days—things happen. Really good things. By the time the storm clears, Hutch finds himself a little too attached to Jude Devereaux, San Francisco-based male model. But is Jude what he claims to be? Or is he entangled in the secrets Hutch moved to Alaska to escape?
I went into this thinking it was going to be a sweet story because it was part of the Dreamspun Desires series.  It started off in that vein and for the first third or so of the book it was what I was expecting.  Two guys trapped in a cabin together and while they wait out the storm they start to fall for each other all while getting down and dirty.
Then it had a big twist that I didn’t see coming.  It took the story in a whole new way and I thought that was a great thing.  I don’t want to say more about that because it would be a big spoiler but it made the story turn into a fast paced adventure as well as a romance.  The guys get their hea but not before the author takes us on a wild ride.
I loved both Jude and Hutch’s characters and their chemistry was great.  It jumped off of the pages.  They were very different personalities but they really fit together well.  The epilogue in particular was heart warming and I loved seeing the happiness they finally found.
This was narrated by John Solo and I thought he did a very good job on both of the MC’s as well as all of the side characters.  He was easy to listen to and I never had a hard time figuring out which MC was talking.
I really enjoyed this story and definitely recommend it.  It was also a well done narration so if you listen to audios, I think you will enjoy it.
Cover by Bree Archer:  This style of cover overall would not be my number one preferences but I think it’s really well done with the theme that the publisher has going on.  It’s also a good representation of Hutch and the overall plot.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Listening Time: 5 hrs 39 min
Audiobook
Published April 5th 2017 (first published March 1st 2017)
Original TitleSnowblind
Edition Language English
settingAlaska (United States)