Ari Mckay on Breaking Bonds (guest post and excerpt)

Standard

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

Standard
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)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Two for Trust by Elle Brownlee

Standard

Rating: 3. 5 stars out of 5

A fairy-tale vacation—if he can get the ending right.

American nurse Finch Mason steps beyond the comfort of his orderly life and takes a dream trip to England, complete with a National Trust Pass so he can visit numerous historical sites. At the first one on his list, he’s warmly welcomed—and told he bought a pass good for two.

Finch doesn’t hesitate to offer the pass to Benedict, a handsome Brit also there on an outing. They spend a magical week touring the countryside, and while it’s too soon to get attached, Finch wishes their time together would never end.

Then Finch finds himself stuck abroad with no money, and he has no one to turn to but Benedict. Benedict is happy to help, but he also owes Finch some answers—such as who he really is and why he was at the estate where they first met.

Two for Trust by Elle Brownlee is a very old fashioned romance.  It reminds me very much of those old movies and books where the heat was in the touch of a hand and the shared looks because that’s pretty much all you’re going to get here.  This is romance sans the physical aspect except for the kiss and the implied “togetherness” to come.  Fade to black.

However, the rest was charming,  maybe a little fusty in that old way I’d forgotten, that I enjoyed the book for what it was.  A slow buildup of a relationship between Finch and Benedict and when I mean slow I mean molasses on a cold winter morning slow.  They aren’t clueless about the way they feel about each other. No, but it’s tied up in all sorts of things money, and estates and well, British.  Honestly Finch reads more English then he does American. If I forgot about the fact that he’s supposed to be from the US, then it fit better.  Finch could be anyone away on his first big trip and it works.  His mistakes are those of a first timer and are very believable.  Brownlee has made him a nurse and his inclination to help, to jump in and rescue defines his character.  We get Finch, and so does Benedict, although not that he wants to at the start.

What makes this book so lovely and warm are the characters that Brownlee creates for it. Not just Benedict and Finch, but all the wonderful supporting cast, including the ones at the manor to Benedict’s family that ends up playing a major role in their relationship.

Eddie Izzard does a very funny bit in his routine about the difference between US and British films.  He talks about in the British one (Room with a View) , romances where the mc is shuffling matches to the American ones where we switch it up to Room with a View of Hell, Pond of Hell etc.  If you haven’t seen the bit, You Tube it or click on the link, it’s brilliant.  This story is the shuffling matches one, with just one or two nods to the American in it.

Anyhow, now I’m thinking about Eddie Izzard.

If you like sweet stories with zero heat and lovely characters, then this Dreamspun Desires addition from Elle Brownlee is just the thing for you.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  Design and art works for branding the series and this story.  Nicely done.

Sales Links

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 252 pages
Expected publication: May 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN B071KTP61X

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony

Standard

Rating: 3.5 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?

I’m such a fan of the Dreamspun Desires series from Dreamspinner.  Here in Forgotten Paradise Shira Anthony plays with the person with amnesia trope, another staple in those romances (still is).  Who can resist a MC with a forgotten past? The mystery man!  That just screams romance and a history that will come thundering back at some point to break up or threaten whatever couple is the focus.  Readers love that, myself included.

Here its Jonah who washed up on the gorgeous shores of the DR ten years ago, almost a tabula rasa.  Since then he’s built a life and been happy…almost, except for those pesky headaches.  Then Adam Preston comes along with his  own basket full of problems hoping to push them aside for a brief holiday of fun in the sun.

The author is so familiar with her location that it jumps to life on the page, the water so blue, the suns shines so brightly I’m surprised I didn’t have to wear sunglasses to read my Kindle.  It’s clear she has great affection for that location and the DR in general.  So it makes sense to put Jonah there as well.  It gave him and Adam a firm foundation for their tentative romance and friendship.  That’s needed for when things start to come crashing down.

I have to admit, for the first portion of the story, Adam represents the more fully realized of the two characters, and not just because Jonah is missing 10 years of his memory.  Adam’s personal baggage is laden with the fear of failure to his family, duties, self worth, things most people can relate to.   That he’s so stressed out he’s unable to unwind? Well I think there are many out there who could relate to that and Adam too.

Jonah represents a bigger question mark and that’s not just the void where 10 years should be.  I liked that Anthony had him seek help for his amnesia, that he wasn’t content to ride out his life with a 10 year blank spot (sort of).  I didn’t quite believe that.  Especially once all of  Jonah’s memories came back and then when we switch locations. Its then you realize this Jonah is far more interesting than the one you meet on the island.  Turns out you do need the more than just the sweetness here.

The second half of the story deals with the repercussions of the recovered memory, not only for Jonah but for everyone he left behind and Adam as well.  It’s a  far more intricate and interesting story, as it deals with a past Jonah as well as the one he became.  I almost wish there had been more of this  but then I can hear the complaints that we didn’t get enough of the couple before to connect with so I guess there’s just more I’d want, a common refrain.

There is one element there irritates me and I can’t go into it here without a huge spoiler but it deals with a best friend of Jonah’s and an action of his.  To me how it was handled still feels all wrong.  But that’s just me.

Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony is another lovely romance from the Dreamspun Desires series.  You get a HEA for a great couple and a visit to a paradise that will make you want to book a flight immediately.

Cover art by Bree Archer goes straight to paradise with the theme.

 

Sales Links

amazon square borderB&N border

 

Book Details:

ebook, Dreamspun Desires #32
Expected publication: April 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635332036 (ISBN13: 9781635332032)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Shira Anthony on Inspiration, A Family Trip and her release ‘Forgotten Paradise’ (guest post and giveaway)

Standard

Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony
D
reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at

amazon square borderB&N border

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Shira Anthony today. Shira is talking about the inspiration behind her latest release Forgotten Paradise and has brought a wonderful giveaway for all the readers as well. Welcome, Shira.

✒︎


My Little Piece of Paradise by Shira Anthony

Thank you, Melanie and all the crew here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, for hosting me today! I’m offering up a fabulous December Diamonds Cupid merman ornament to one lucky winner in the US who comments on one of the blog tour posts, or a $10 Dreamspinner Press Gift Card for winners worldwide, so be sure to comment below by answering this question: what is the most romantic place on earth? Once you’ve left your comment, click on the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of the post and you’ve snagged yourself an entry!

April 15th is release day for my 20th published book, Forgotten Paradise! It’s hard to believe I’ll have published twenty this month, let alone a single book. Much as the Blue Notes series was inspired by my experiences as a professional opera singer and before that, as a violinist, my Mermen of Ea series was inspired by my travels aboard our catamaran sailboat, Land’s Zen. Forgotten Paradise is no exception.

The concept for Forgotten Paradise was born on a family trip to the Dominican Republic in the winter of 2015. My entire family—my parents, my sister and her family, and my husband and kids—spent a week at a gorgeous resort in the southeastern part of the island, about 45 minutes south of Punta Cana. My husband and I dove every day in clear turquoise waters with some of the most incredible fish and aquatic animals I’ve ever seen.

The first part of Forgotten Paradise takes place in a resort in the DR much like the one we stayed at, complete with immaculately tended gardens, ponds with birds and fish, an enormous swimming pool, and a beautiful white sand beach where you can dig your feet into the sand and sip on a pina colada to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. There, Adam Preston escapes for a week in paradise and meets the charming Jonah James, a scuba instructor at the resort. But Jonah has a secret: he doesn’t remember anything before he woke up on a Punta Cana beach 10 years before.

I hope you’ll enjoy finding out who Jonah really is and that you’ll be able to imagine the sand between your toes as you read Forgotten Paradise. I’ll leave you with the blurb and a short excerpt from the book and, of course, the Rafflecopter. Be sure to leave your comment before entering! And good luck! –Shira

Blurb

It’s dangerous diving for secrets.

When a megacompany 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?

Excerpt

WHILE HENRI washed down the patio, Jonah hung the last two wetsuits and sprayed down the rinsing bins. Small rivulets of sand and water streaked the painted concrete.

“I can finish,” Henri told him.

“Thanks.” Jonah walked over to the benches and retrieved his BC and regulator from a hook. “I owe you a drink.”

Henri laughed. “Good thing they’re free or you’d have to take out a loan.”

“Meet you at Giuseppe’s in an hour?” Jonah hung his gear inside the staff room.

“Not tonight. Got a date with Viola.” Henri stopped spraying for a moment and gestured toward the office. “It’s our six-month anniversary.”

“Six months? Impressive. So what’s for dinner?”

“Sushi,” Henri said. “At Yumi.”

“You’re taking her all the way to Punta Cana?” Jonah chuckled and slapped Henri on the back. “Must be love.”

“A man does as he does.” He winked and added, “I borrowed Torey’s car.”

“A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do,” Jonah corrected. Henri’s English was damn good, so Jonah enjoyed teasing him the few times he made mistakes.

“So how about you?” Henri asked with a crooked grin.

“Me?” Jonah knew where Henri was going, but he wasn’t going to bite on that particular topic.

“You’ve been here a few weeks now. Met anyone interesting?”

Jonah shook his head. “If I had, I wouldn’t be telling you about it,” he teased.

“Fine. To be that way.”

Be that way. Not ‘to be.’”

Henri laughed and headed over to the counter, where Viola was working on assignments for the next day’s dives. “The guests think I’m sexier when I get things wrong.”

“You wish.”

Jonah pulled the elastic from his hair and ran a hand through his still-damp curls. He waved at Viola. “Have fun tonight!” He slipped on his sandals and headed down the path to the staff dormitories. He’d only made it to the towel-return shack when he noticed a man standing in the middle of the intersection of two paths, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

“Perfect,” the man muttered.

“Lost?” Jonah forced his gaze up from the dusting of reddish hair on the man’s nicely defined pecs.

He looked at Jonah with warm brown eyes. “That obvious?”

“Happens a lot,” Jonah reassured him. “Where’re you headed?”

“Dive shop. Although by now, it’s probably closed.” American, judging by the accent. East Coast. A hint of New Jersey but polished so it was barely noticeable.

Jonah glanced at his watch. “You have another ten minutes.” He pointed the way he’d just come. “It’s about a hundred feet that way. You can’t miss it.”

“Thank you.”

“No problem.” Jonah offered the man a reassuring smile. “Took me a few days to get my bearings.”

“My mother used to tell me I’d lose my way in a shower stall.”

Jonah chuckled. “That bad?”

The man nodded.

“I could think of worse places to get lost with you,” Jonah quipped, immediately regretting it. The man’s lean body was far too interesting, especially given the no-fraternization policy Jonah had signed when he was hired. Not that the hotel had ever fired someone for taking a guest to bed, but Jonah felt more comfortable following the rule. It made things easier. Celibacy was safer. Flirting was downright dangerous.

The man flushed. Even more interesting.

The man quickly regained his composure. “Do I know you?” he asked.

Jonah also got that a lot. “I’m sure I’d have remembered you,” he said truthfully. It wasn’t every day he met a redhead, let alone one this attractive.

“My mistake.” The man offered his hand. “Adam Preston.”

“Good to meet you, Adam.” Jonah shook Adam’s hand. Strong grip. Confident, but not overly so. “I’m Jonah. Jonah James.”

“I’d better go,” Adam said. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“I hope so.” Jonah watched as Adam headed toward the dive shop. No fraternization, he reminded himself with a sigh. Maybe it was time to rethink the celibacy gig.

Rafflecopter Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cf0ba94916/?

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Bru Baker on Writing, Books, and her latest release ‘Tall, Dark, and Deported’ (author interview)

Standard

Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker
Release date: April 1, 2017

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Buy links:

Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Bru Baker here today talking about her latest novel, Tall, Dark, and Deported! Welcome, Bru!

✒︎

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Honestly, I draw a lot more from the people around me than I do myself. It’s not even a conscious thing, but after I’ve formed a character I might realize I’ve incorporated mannerisms, speech patterns, and personality quirks from people I know. I do my best not to base a character on a real person, but there are often bits and pieces of a few people influencing things.

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?

There’s definitely a line there that we as authors have to skirt. That said, I often use my own experiences in books because I’m able to give a scene more depth if I know how a situation or event feels firsthand. Actually, the entire premise for Tall, Dark, and Deported came about from an experience I had coming home from GRL in 2015. I found myself stranded after my connecting flight home from Chicago was cancelled. The ticket counters were overwhelmed and no flights were available. They offered me a solution that would get me home thirty-six hours later–and Chicago is only a three-hour drive from my home in Indianapolis! So I started talking with two strangers who’d also been scheduled for that flight and we hatched a plan to rent a car and drive. Granted, I just used the experience as a jumping-off point. I certainly didn’t find myself crossing an international border and engaging in a Green card marriage like Mateus and Crawford. (My husband would have something to say about that, I’m sure. *g*)

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

I’m a former journalist and I work in the reference department of a library–it’s safe to say I adore research. I have so much respect for authors who can craft a world out of the ether, but I’m not one of them. I tend to blend research with make believe. I’ve driven from Seattle to Vancouver along the road Mateus and Crawford take in Tall, Dark, and Deported, but the hotel they spend is plucked from my imagination. And of course, I’ve taken a lot of liberties with immigration policies.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m a fan of HFN, mostly because I have an overactive imagination and leaving a couple at the HFN give me the chance to fill in the blank for them myself as a reader. As a writer, I don’t like to tie up all the loose ends in a pretty bow because that’s rarely how life works. I want to leave my characters in a place where they’re happy and clearly meant to be together forever but without spelling out every action they’ll take.

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

I was a horror and classic literature fan as a teenager. My favorite authors in high school were Daphne DuMaurier, Emily Bronte, Robin Cook, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton. It’s an interesting mix. They’re still my go-to comfort reads, especially Rebecca and Wuthering Heights. As an adult I read a broad spectrum of things as part of my job as a librarian, but my favorites at the moment are cozy mysteries and quirky romances.

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

I know most authors would say they couldn’t choose because they love them all, just like parents are supposed to say that when you ask them which of their children they love the most. But I do have favorites, both among my books and my kids. (I joke, I joke. Most days both kids annoy me equally. No favoritism!) Playing House is hands-down my favorite of the books I’ve written, and I think it’s because it was the hardest to write. Writing is almost always sheer joy for me. I’m pretty sure I smiled maniacally all the way through writing King of the Kitchen, and writing Talk Turkey actually made me laugh out loud. But Playing House came from a very painful place for me–imagining what kind of emotional bonds someone with autism could forge as an adult, and whether or not they could successfully navigate marriage and parenthood. My son is on the spectrum, and there just isn’t a lot of positive representation of people with ASD in books and movies. So Playing House was me challenging myself to write a character who could make the average reader fall in love with a character who is flawed in a way that wasn’t quirky or eccentric, but real. I’ve had readers message me after reading the book and tell me they see themselves or their partners in the main character and that it encouraged them to seek help or a diagnosis, sometimes for the first time ever. And that’s amazing.

What’s next for you as an author?

Right now I’m working on a submission for Dreamspinner Press’s Advent Calendar Anthology. I absolutely love fluffy holiday romance, and I have a really soft spot in my heart for the Advent anthology in particular because it gave me my break into publishing in the 2012 calendar with my short story, Traditions from the Heart. I’m also in edits right now on a release that’s coming out toward the end of the year with Dreamspinner as part of the Dreamspun Beyond line–it’s about werewolves! True to my style, of course, one of them turns out to be a pretty big failure as a werewolf. So big, in face, that he has to go to a camp to learn how to werewolf. Enter hilarity, a little angst, and, of course, romance.

Blurb

Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 236 pages

Tags: Gay; M/M; Dreamspun Desires

About the Author

Bru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

 

In Tall, Dark, and Deported author Bru Baker takes that old trope of the fake marriage and makes something wonderful and real.  I’ve read countless stories that use this old great workhorse of a theme but few make it past the cute and fluffy.  Which is fine, don’t get me wrong, I adore those stories too.  But I love it when a writer takes it deeper, adds those layers and dimension to their characters, their situation and locations that make me sit up and pay more attention.  That happened here.

It starts with Mateus, his almost expired tourist visa and the vineyard/wine business he and his sibling (and her family) have back in the Northwest.  They’ve suffered setbacks, and now, because he let it slide in face of other issues, he’s got to take care of his visa.  The option he took?  Backfires in the most believable manner possible.  We will all be groaning there with him in full blown panic mode.  In a short amount of time, the author has let us get to know Mateus, find him so real and likable that we need to know he’s  going to be alright.  Then in comes Crawford.

Crawford is another man who’s easily accessible.  His first marriage to someone shallow and callous ended the way you might expect.  Unfortunately he didn’t see it coming and the result is a bitterness towards love and commitment.  But Baker lets us see Crawford as a kind, generous man, a little trampled on but with a big heart.  When these two connect, we want them to be together.

There are so many details here I loved.  One the fact that they could not just easily get married and poof, that was it.  No, there were rules and regulations to be followed.  Suspicions about their marriage on both sides of the border (no quickies marriages, thank you very much) so government agencies were brought in. That dose of reality was wonderful.  Loved Mateus’ family and town as well as the idea of exactly what Crawford did for a living.  It spiced up the story and gave a foundation for both the men and their relationship.

But it was their fumbling towards love and  HEA that made this story.  I believed absolutely in them and their feelings for each other.  The tenderness and the hot attraction, it was all there in the story. Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker is another wonderful Dreamspun Desire novel you won’t want to miss. I’m so glad I didn’t.  I highly recommend you pick it up and make your acquaintance with Mateus and Crawford today.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  Works for the character but the background is pretty nondescript. Eh.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776844 (ISBN13: 9781634776844)
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingVancouver, British Columbia (Canada)
Washington (United States)

A Lila Audiobook Review: The Virgin Manny (The Mannies #1) by Amy Lane and John Solo (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Growing up and falling in love…

Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver premade 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 live his promising tomorrow?

The Virgin Manny is a cute, trope filled love story. I really liked the way Tino and Channing met and how their relationship grew from there. This is a slow-burn story that can be considered May-December even when the age gap was only ten years.

As any other Dreamspun book, this story has very over-the-top events and reactions from the characters. It’s a feel-good tale even when the events that brought the MCs together were nothing to be happy about. Everyone is content with the new little family and there’s minimal to no angst.

There’s a bit of mystery added which gives the book a soap opera feel. I don’t think it was necessary, but it added to the story’s charm. The last part was too slow, but as a whole, the story works great.

John Solo, as always, did a nice job bringing all the characters to life. I enjoyed the different cadence between Tino and Channing and appreciated how well the female voices were integrated.

The cover by Bree Archer shows the main idea behind the story, but it’s a bit generic and stereotypical.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours 14 minutes
Published: February 14, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B06WLJTZW4
Edition Language: English

Series: The Mannies
Book #1: The Virgin Manny

 

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Two Cowboys and A Baby by BA Tortuga

Standard

Rating: 4 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.

Well, hell.  Two Cowboys and A Baby.  Shakes head.  Really, its hard to get much cuter than that.  So of course, I loved this sweet baby left on the doorstep story by B.A. Tortuga, a favorite author of mine.  B.A. talked about loving tropes like this in her author guest post on this story (read it here), but the tale of how these long time friends (yep since childhood) finally move towards HEA and a family is heartwarming and sweet.  Of course, there’s some wild plot doozies here that I throughly enjoyed.  There’s almost a ‘B.A. goes Texas soap opera’ thrown in but who knows?  Totally possible so I rolled with it.  These days  anything goes so it could happen.

I of course, loved Hoss.  The author makes Hoss and his profession so painfully real with all its breaks, pain, and physical wake up in the hospital realism.  That the part of the life, people never see when watching the rodeos.  Here (and in all of B.A. Tortuga’s stories) its laid out in all it stark, bill and injury-laden reality. Another element that I look forward to when reading a Tortuga novel?  Her families and its another key element here.  Bradley has been a part of that, living as he has been on Hoss’ land in a trailer.  But all that’s about to change with a baby bundle lands on Hoss’ doorstep.

I think if I have only one major issue here, it would be Bradley’s behavior at one point.  His lack of faith in Hoss and inability to talk to him.  I kept trying to rationalize that as fear but still it seemed as unlike the man’s personality as laid out before so it brought down the rating.  There’s another hugely intriguing area that just cries out for its own story.  If you read this book you’ll know what I’m talking about and who.  I hope the author is already working on that. What a story that would be.

As it is, I loved Two Cowboys and a Baby.  Its sweet, heartwarming and a wild journey of two men towards HEA and a family.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer. Cover art is perfect and just as cute as the story.

Sales Links

 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: March 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635333855
Edition LanguageEnglish

B.A. Tortuga on Writing and her release ‘Two Cowboys and a Baby’ by B.A. Tortuga (author guest post)

Standard

Two Cowboys and a Baby by B.A. Tortuga

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have B.A. Tortuga here today to talk about writing and her latest story in the Dreamspun Desires series from Dreamspinner Press, Two Cowboys and a Baby.  Welcome, B.A.

~Our Interview with B.A. Tortuga~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I have to be honest – my culture is very much expressed through my characters – their lives, their voices, their environment, but me personally? Not so much. 😀

  • 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?

No, not at all. I write the places I know and love, the archetypes I grew up with. I don’t find them to be Gary Stus.

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

I tend to stick fairly close to home, I think, but I research the specific time period or bull rope or breed of cattle. I call my daddy a lot. 😉

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

I was (and still am) a voracious reader. I read all the Harlequin and Silhouette romances, Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey. All of them. My favorite book as a little girl? Little Women. OMG. I wanted to be Jo and my wife assures me that I’ve come close.

I have to admit, I’m a trope whore, to the bone. points to Two Cowboys and a Baby Tropes, y’all. Tropes, joy and cowboys.

Wallow in it with me.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m an HEA all the way type of girl. That’s what I read and that’s what I write.

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

Oh, lord yes. I love the promise of a happy ending, the comfort of the story. It does it for me, 100%.

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

Stephen King, no question. He taught me about being faithful to your own voice, your own accent. He’s my hero.

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

My favorite is always the one I’m writing. Always. Those are the boys I’m in love with, right now.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

After Two Cowboys and a Baby? I have a novel coming out April 28th that’s my love story to Red Dirt Texas music called “Best New Artist”. I’m currently writing the next Roughstock novel and co-writing a m/m book with Jodi Payne.

Much love, y’all.

BA

Two Cowboys and a Baby Blurb

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.

About BA Tortuga

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com