A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane

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Rating 5 stars out of 5

In my opinion, this is the best of the Mannies series and one of my favorite Amy Lane stories.  As the author states in her promo, her work is divided into three flavors: alt universe, angst, and sunshine-yellow happy.  Well, color this one bright sunshine because it was one of those stories that grabbed me from the first chapter and pulled me through to the end when the very clueless Quinlan Gregory realizes just how very loveable and needed he is.

Quinlan was kicked out by his wealthy parents when he announced he was gay.  He had a feeling it would happen, so he had all his worldly goods packed and all his finances in order. In fact, the moment he left the house he changed all his passwords so his family couldn’t access his accounts or his trust fund.  Good thing too, because years later he found out they’d tried to access them immediately.

Quinlan is Sammy’s college friend and fellow musician, so naturally, kind-hearted Sammy sees being a manny for his aunt’s brood is the perfect job for Quin, and the timing is perfect since Taylor is getting married and leaving the position. Though he knows nothing about being a manny, he really wants to be a part of the world of this close-knit family—a world so far from the cold, lonely life he left behind. When he spots Dusty, the oldest, and boldest, of the kids, acting out and assuming the role of family troublemaker—Quin realizes he can definitely make a positive contribution to the Robbins-Grayson’s lives.

Time passes, and as Quin and Dusty become friends, Dusty bides his time to reach his goal of making Quinlan see him as an adult, an equal, and a mature responsible lover. There aren’t more than six years between them, but Dusty knows he’ll need to be in his twenties before he can actively pursue the man of his dreams.  So by the time he’s twenty-one, he starts to make his move, and though it takes more than one attempt, he’s finally in a position to help the kind, caring man when Quin comes home from summer band tour with a bad virus and virtually falls into Dusty’s open arms.

What follows is a courtship that made my heart melt. Dusty is the perfect mate for Quin and he sets out to prove it as Quin receives news his father has died and his mother is again attempting to access Quin’s money.

The most outstanding feature of this story is the character development and family interactions. These are real people in a large, happy family composed of those both born into, and folded into, their collective arms. Dusty’s character was a surprise on the one hand, but knowing his parents, it shouldn’t have been. He’s very much like his father in temperament and he’s goal-driven like his mother with an attitude that proves good things come to those who wait.

I laughed and I cried with Quin and Dusty, and I wallowed in the pure enjoyment of seeing where Channing and Tino are in their relationship, as well as where Sammy and Cooper are in theirs. Quin’s reaction to Sammy’s good news was spot-on and showed just what a wonderful friend and caring character he is.  There’s so much to this story, it’s hard to pick a favorite segment, and conversely, it’s almost impossible to pick something I didn’t like—other than the evil, cold-hearted woman who birthed Quin, of course. And to be honest, to make the story work, she needed to be exactly the way she was.

I wouldn’t recommend this book as a standalone, purely because of the interactions with the other characters in the series, but I would highly recommend it to those who’ve read the others, especially books one and three.  And to those who haven’t read them—start from the beginning and enjoy this whole series. It’s so worth it.

The cover by Bree Archer, in typical Dreampun Desires style, features a handsome young man, likely Dusty, set against a dark purple background.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages
Expected publication: July 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleA Fool and His Manny
ISBN139781640805040
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Mannies #4

 

A VVivacious Release Day Review: Stranger in a Foreign Land by Michael Murphy

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Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Patrick is in Thailand when his cab gets involved in a brutal accident resulting in him losing all of his memory. Lost and confused not to mention tired, bruised and helpless Patrick finds shelter near a pineapple cannery where he meets Jack.  Jack starts to take care of Patrick now known as Buddy and earns his trust and more. Just as Patrick and Jack find themselves deeply in love Patrick’s past comes knocking in the form of his brother.

Oh! I have a lot to say about this one. There were just so many things in this one that bugged me right from the very beginning. The first and foremost one being the wandering POV. Right in the very beginning of this book when Patrick was all alone the author managed to make the POV wander between Patrick and Amnesia Patrick aka Buddy.

In the middle of Patrick/Buddy trying to save his life, you would find yourself in the middle of some exposition on money which actually held no relevance to the story whatsoever and ended on the note that it wasn’t the first and foremost thing on Patrick’s mind, maybe because he is trying to flee a car moments from exploding.

But, the wandering POV just didn’t let up and when we got to Jack, the POV changed every paragraph until it resulted in passages such as the one below –

“I don’t know,” Jack answered honestly.

Feeling uncomfortable, Buddy decided to make a joke, or try to anyway.

It was obvious to Jack what Buddy was trying to do.

“You obviously see the bed,” he said, gesturing toward the double bed against another wall.

By the end, I had no idea who was actually talking.

Generally, I can tolerate head-hopping to quite a great extent but since in this book it was happening from the very beginning, it kept bringing me out of the book, as a result, I just wasn’t as invested in the characters and therefore was hypercritical of everything.

For me the shower scene came across as very predatory, especially considering Buddy’s almost child-like enthusiasm with everything Jack. I was hyperaware of the power Jack had over Buddy in that situation and I truly feel that not addressing that inequality did nobody any favours because till the very end Buddy/Patrick is way too dependent on Jack for everything. Jack is his entire life and frankly if this relationship doesn’t pan there will be no Patrick which is a horrifying thought.

Also, would it have killed Patrick to sympathise with his parents? He acts as nothing short of a petulant child in all those scenes. I was actually quite shocked to face the reluctance with which Patrick approaches the entire ordeal of learning who he was. He definitely doesn’t seem interested and makes no efforts to reconnect or at least sympathise with his parents which was something I couldn’t understand. Like he refers to his mother as that woman, I mean yeah I know you have no recollection of her but she is your mother and just for that fact you owe her respect if nothing else.

For some reason the author goes back to calling Buddy as Patrick even though he has no idea what it is to be Patrick and more so ever has no interest in finding out either and considering how Patrick/Amnesia Patrick/Buddy reacts to everything Patrick, I really don’t think she should have gone back to it.

Also, I have got to mention this but Patrick at one point asks James if his/their, mother is aged, and I was left gawking, well she has to be older than you doofus and you are no spring chicken yourself. This was just one of those many things in the book that made the story veer into the implausible. I couldn’t relate to the story and the plot just seemed far-fetched.

I, for the most, liked Jack but it was very hard for me to tolerate Patrick he was just so many things at so many different times that it was hard to know who he was, whoever this character was, Patrick or Buddy since I am not even sure about that.

Despite its flaws, I still managed to finish the story which seems like an accomplishment in itself.

Cover Art by Bree Archer. I liked the cover though I have no idea who that model is supposed to depict.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 216 pages
Expected publication: July 3rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802506
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Audiobook Review: A Full Plate by Kim Fielding and Narrator: Kenneth Obi

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Bradford Tolliver, Tully, is a contract lawyer who is very successful at his job.  Whether he is as successful in his personal life is questionable.  When his colleague, Carrie, asks for a favor he’s a little bewildered as to what it could be. I loved that he jumps to the conclusion that Carrie and her wife wanted him to father their children and loved even more that he was willing.  The favor, alas, is something completely different.  Let her cousin, Sage Filling (gah, that name), live with him for a while and definitely not permanently while he earns money. 

Sage is a chef who had to give up his family’s restaurant, the Filling Station, and who is right now working at neighborhood Dolly’s as a cook. The food descriptions alone made this work for me.  While Tully has a state of the art espresso machine, worth more than Sage’s car, he really doesn’t cook.  Sage, on the other hand, is gourmet and as they spend more time living together, Sage begins leaving food for Tully.  Some of the things he cooked I would have loved to try, especially the spicy eggs he leaves Tully for breakfast.  “What would you call it?” Sage asked.  “Heaven in a bowl.” 

Sage goes home every weekend but he begins leaving food for Tully.  Tully may be a cutthroat lawyer but he’s a teddy bear inside.  When he orders all sorts of kitchen equipment so Sage can cook for them, he uses overnight shipping and orders the best of everything.  Then feels remorseful for “showing off.” Tully remembers what it’s like to have empty pockets.

We get to know each of them as themselves before they start being a couple. This is not an instant relationship.  They begin as strangers, working odd hours and sometimes not even seeing each other.  It progresses to the food Sage leaves and the notes Tully leaves, then they begin to become friends before they start to be more. The problem, of course, is that there is an end date.  Sage is going back home to Hair Shaker.

There is also the issue of their different social standing.  Tully is very wealthy, Sage is in the city because he desperately needs money and family issues demand he return to Hair Shaker.  Add in the extremely wealthy ex of Tully’s, Eddie,  who wants him back and also sees to it that Tully is working for him (through the firm) and basically gets into a pis*ing contest with Sage.  I thought it was funny until Tully pukes on Eddie’s shoes.  Tully knows what he wants but is fighting it.  “Stop it.  Stop it right now, Tully commanded himself every time he swooned over Sage.  He crafted a zillion airtight arguments about why falling for Sage was a sucktastic idea, even going so far as to cite precedent.”  I loved it.

This is part of the Dreamspinner Dreamspun line, so it of course is a little bit fairy tale (especially the ending) but that’s what I expected and it didn’t disappoint. So cute and fluffy. 

The audio is narrated by Kenneth Obi and I felt he did a good job.  His voice carries inflection.  I would have appreciated a little more differentiating between the various voices but Kenneth made them different enough that I had no trouble knowing who was talking.

The cover art by Bree Archer shows Tully in a suit with a city backdrop. While it is a decent enough cover, I would have preferred Sage to be on it, or even Hair Shaker, to make it a little different than the usual.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published June 5th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published April 17th 2018)
Original TitleA Full Plate
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingPortland, Oregon (United States)

Andrew Grey on the Inspiration behind The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever (guest blog)

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The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art: Bree Archer

Sales Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andrew Grey on tour for his new release, The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever.  Welcome, Andrew.

Dominic and I love to travel.  We both really do.  We take a winter vacation and try to take a summer one as well.  For the winter one, we usually go on a cruise and its one of those vacations that inspired Best Worst Honeymoon.  The snorkeling and fun on the water were all things Dominic and I did the last time we visited Bonaire.   And as I write this post I am sitting in a hotel room in Rome.  Dominic and I spent the day seeing some of the sites including the coliseum and ancient ruins.  At dinner tonight I was just telling Dominic that I have an idea for a new story, set here in Rome!  Dang I need to go on vacation more so I can get even more ideas.

Blurb/Synopsis:

How can heartbreak turn into happily ever after?

Tommy Gordon is all set for happily ever after—until heartbreak strikes when his husband-to-be leaves him at the altar. In a bid for distraction, his best friend, Grayson Phillips, suggests he takes advantage of the luxury honeymoon anyway! But the last thing Tommy wants is to go alone, so he invites Grayson and his son, Petey, along.

Beautiful Bonaire lends itself to romance, and along with close quarters, relaxing on the water, and a matchmaking kid, Tommy and Grayson soon find themselves closer than ever… and considering more, much to Grayson’s delight. But before they can plan the best best honeymoon ever, dark clouds descend in the form of Tommy’s ex and a sting from paradise that could ruin everything.

Excerpt:

Tommy took a deep breath and went to the door. Grayson stopped him and pointed to one of the chairs. Tommy sat down, trying not to hyperventilate.

“Xavier, what are you doing?”

“I need to talk to Tommy,” Xavier said, sounding like shit.

Grayson turned to him, and Tommy lifted his gaze, nodding. Clearly there was something wrong and he needed to deal with it. Whatever plans he’d made were most likely out the window anyway. He certainly hadn’t envisioned a drunk, hung-over groom.

Grayson stepped back, pulling open the door, and Xavier half stumbled in, looking worse than Tommy could ever have imagined.

“What the heck happened?” He hurried over, but Xavier stopped him by putting up his hand. “Are you sick?”

“I’m fine,” Xavier managed to say, slowly sitting himself down. “Gary and I went out as sort of a last hurrah, and we overdid it.” He raised his face, and Tommy got a good look at his glassy eyes.

“Okay. We still have time. Grayson and I can help you get ready,” Tommy said gently.

Xavier shook his head of thick black hair, and then his deep brown eyes cleared of some of their rumminess. “I can’t do this. The wedding and everything that you’ve got planned. It’s too much.” Xavier sat back as all the oxygen seemed to leave the room. Tommy’s head grew light, and fuck it all, he was going to faint, but Grayson was there, holding his arm. “You want more than I think I can give.”

“You waited to tell him now, twenty minutes before the wedding?” Grayson yelled. “You bastard!”

“I’ve spent the last few days trying to think about what I was going to do.” Xavier hiccupped, and his alcohol breath was enough to knock over an elephant. “I thought if I drank and told myself that I loved you and that I really wanted to do this, everything would be all right. But it isn’t true, and I can’t go through with this.” Xavier got to his feet, half stumbled toward the door, and pulled it open. “I’ll see you around.” He left and closed the door with a click after him.

Tommy watched, openmouthed, too stunned to move. The room had turned bone chillingly cold. “What did he just tell me? That he didn’t love me?” He couldn’t feel his fingers, and then his hands and feet went numb. He tried to think of what he was going to do, but nothing at all came to mind.

“Uncle Tommy,” Petey called as he raced into the room, practically barreling into him. “I saw Uncle Xavier and he looked sick. What’s wrong?” Petey looked at him and then turned to Grayson.

“Uncle Tommy isn’t going to get married. Xavier chickened out and wasn’t man enough to tell Uncle Tommy until right now.” The anger in Grayson’s voice simmered just below the surface. “What he really needs is a hug.”

Petey climbed up on the chair, stood up, and hugged Tommy, and Tommy closed his eyes, willing the rest of the world to go away.

About the Author:

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

A Lucy Review: The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Tommy is a wealthy game designer who is so happy to be getting married to the man of his dreams, Xavier.  All the plans are made, the expensive honeymoon is booked and he’s anxiously awaiting his groom.  Except when said groom shows up, he has the hangover from hell and some incredibly upsetting news.  “I can’t do this.  The wedding and everything you’ve got planned.  It’s too much.”  And so Tommy is left at the altar to explain to guests why there will be no wedding.  The only saving grace is Tommy has his best friend, Grayson, and Grayson’s son, Petey there for moral support. 

When Tommy decides to take Grayson and Petey on that expensive honeymoon he blocks Xavier’s number and tries to concentrate on healing, at least a little.  They are at a luxury resort on an island, a trip that Xavier wanted, not the water-hating Tommy.  It seems Tommy had done so much trying to make Xavier happy, it was heartbreaking.  “Because I wanted him to love me.  Because I was so desperate to be loved by someone, and not be alone, that I didn’t see that Xavier didn’t really care and was only interested in me for …what I had.”

For his part, Grayson has had feelings for Tommy for a while but he’s never let Tommy know.  At one point he was going to let Tommy know but that was when Tommy met Xavier, so Grayson let it drop, living with being in the friend zone.  He also has to worry about Petey.  His last boyfriend, Jeffrey, was first a friend who was close to both he and Petey, but after they broke up he deserted both of them and it was hard on Petey.  He doesn’t want that to happen again.

I liked that they took Tommy out of his comfort zone in the water and got him out doing things.  There is a twist with Xavier that shows Grayson’s protective side.  A sting from paradise happens and I like the fact that their feelings and relationship were not based on that.  It didn’t take a near miss for them to know they cared.

I had questions about some of this book, however.  Xavier claims at one point he has nothing but his job and his car, yet he was able to take an expensive flight to Bonaire.  Where did that money come from?   He says that he realized that he wouldn’t have a good marriage because Tommy was always working and so got cold feet but he charged upwards of three thousand dollars on Tommy’s credit card.  The biggest issue for me, though, was that even though Xavier didn’t love him, Tommy had clearly loved him, so the moving on to Grayson after just days seemed too quick.  He says at one point, “It feels like Xavier left me yesterday, and it hurts, Grayson.  It really hurts.”  That was just a week after the wedding-that-wasn’t, so of course it hurts.  I know that Xavier being a douche helped things along but it did seem too fast.

Supporting characters such as Petey and Aunt Gin, were awesome.  Aunt Gin, that’s the woman I want to be and if I can’t, I want her in my corner.  She made me so happy.   “Just like that she had switched from aunt to family lawyer and all-around advice giver.”   She is the reason Tommy wasn’t more financially hurt by Xavier. 

Cover Art by Bree Archer is a little nondescript.  A blond smiling man with the ocean in the background.  I’m not sure if he is supposed to be Tommy or Grayson.  It’s a pretty cover, just not really definitive as to the story.

Sales Links: 

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: June 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07DFDBL8R

Blog tour The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey (Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Title: The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: House Line DreamSpun Desires | #60
Genre:  M/M
Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 19 2018
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
Blurb/Synopsis:

How can heartbreak turn into happily ever after?
Tommy Gordon is all set for happily ever after—until heartbreak strikes when his husband-to-be leaves him at the altar. In a bid for distraction, his best friend, Grayson Phillips, suggests he takes advantage of the luxury honeymoon anyway! But the last thing Tommy wants is to go alone, so he invites Grayson and his son, Petey, along.
Beautiful Bonaire lends itself to romance, and along with close quarters, relaxing on the water, and a matchmaking kid, Tommy and Grayson soon find themselves closer than ever… and considering more, much to Grayson’s delight. But before they can plan the best best honeymoon ever, dark clouds descend in the form of Tommy’s ex and a sting from paradise that could ruin everything.

Tommy took a deep breath and went to the door. Grayson stopped him and pointed to one of the chairs. Tommy sat down, trying not to hyperventilate.

“Xavier, what are you doing?”

“I need to talk to Tommy,” Xavier said, sounding like shit.

Grayson turned to him, and Tommy lifted his gaze, nodding. Clearly there was something wrong and he needed to deal with it. Whatever plans he’d made were most likely out the window anyway. He certainly hadn’t envisioned a drunk, hung-over groom.

Grayson stepped back, pulling open the door, and Xavier half stumbled in, looking worse than Tommy could ever have imagined.

“What the heck happened?” He hurried over, but Xavier stopped him by putting up his hand. “Are you sick?”

“I’m fine,” Xavier managed to say, slowly sitting himself down. “Gary and I went out as sort of a last hurrah, and we overdid it.” He raised his face, and Tommy got a good look at his glassy eyes.

“Okay. We still have time. Grayson and I can help you get ready,” Tommy said gently.

Xavier shook his head of thick black hair, and then his deep brown eyes cleared of some of their rumminess. “I can’t do this. The wedding and everything that you’ve got planned. It’s too much.” Xavier sat back as all the oxygen seemed to leave the room. Tommy’s head grew light, and fuck it all, he was going to faint, but Grayson was there, holding his arm. “You want more than I think I can give.”

“You waited to tell him now, twenty minutes before the wedding?” Grayson yelled. “You bastard!”

“I’ve spent the last few days trying to think about what I was going to do.” Xavier hiccupped, and his alcohol breath was enough to knock over an elephant. “I thought if I drank and told myself that I loved you and that I really wanted to do this, everything would be all right. But it isn’t true, and I can’t go through with this.” Xavier got to his feet, half stumbled toward the door, and pulled it open. “I’ll see you around.” He left and closed the door with a click after him.

Tommy watched, openmouthed, too stunned to move. The room had turned bone chillingly cold. “What did he just tell me? That he didn’t love me?” He couldn’t feel his fingers, and then his hands and feet went numb. He tried to think of what he was going to do, but nothing at all came to mind.

“Uncle Tommy,” Petey called as he raced into the room, practically barreling into him. “I saw Uncle Xavier and he looked sick. What’s wrong?” Petey looked at him and then turned to Grayson.

“Uncle Tommy isn’t going to get married. Xavier chickened out and wasn’t man enough to tell Uncle Tommy until right now.” The anger in Grayson’s voice simmered just below the surface. “What he really needs is a hug.”

Petey climbed up on the chair, stood up, and hugged Tommy, and Tommy closed his eyes, willing the rest of the world to go away.

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Staggered Cove Station (Coast Guard Rescue #1) by Elle Brownlee and Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Rescues are wild in the Alaskan terrain. So is romance.

Sun-kissed California guardsman Dan Farnsworth might be at home in the water, but he’s out of his element at remote, rugged, and freezing Staggered Cove Station. Acclimating proves hard enough, but he’s also digging into how the station’s previous rescue swimmer was lost at sea. Was it an operation gone bad or something more sinister? Add to that the instant tension between him and his partner—no-nonsense Alaska-born Karl Radin—and Dan has his hands full.

As his investigation heats up, so does the attraction between Dan and Karl, even if they don’t completely trust each other. But as suspicious events escalate to sabotage, Dan starts to fear that he and Karl won’t get the chance to become more than reluctant coworkers.

This was an alright story for me, more focused on the mystery than the romance between the two men.  Dan is trying to find out what really happened to his brother while not trying to bring any attention to what he is doing.  Karl can be a bit grumpy but wants to keep those under his watch safe and there seems to be something about Dan that’s not adding up.

I felt bad for Dan as he realized the full depth of his brother’s actions and to find out that the only family you had you never really knew.  Karl is very no nonsense and when Dan realizes he can trust him is willing to help him find answers.  I didn’t really see the relationship between these two building except for some off handed thoughts about attractiveness or how safe they felt with the other.  It takes extreme circumstances for them to do anything together or acknowledge it.  These two didn’t know each other long but were quick to jump together and go from there and I just couldn’t feel the connection.

Colin Darcy did a nice job narrating this story.  For the most part I was able to easily keep track of the story with the voices he used for each character though the voices didn’t connect with how I really saw the characters.

Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and gives a visual of the background for this story.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6hrs 11mins
Published April 20, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: A Coast Guard Rescue Novel, Dreamspun Desires

A MelanieM Release Day Review: His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

He wrote a comedy. Fate directed a romance.

Drew Beaumont is bored of the same old roles: action hero, supervillain, romantic lead. He’s not going to let a fresh gay buddy comedy languish just because they can’t find him the right costar. No, Drew bats his eyelashes and convinces everyone that the movie’s writer should play Drew’s not-so-straight man.

Aspiring writer Steve Sopol has never had a screenplay optioned. Now one of Hollywood’s hottest properties wants to be in a movie Steve hasn’t finished writing—and he wants Steve as his costar. Turns out the chemistry between them is undeniable—on and offscreen.

Drew swore off dating in the biz, but Steve is the whole package: sharp, funny, humble, and cute. For Steve, though, giving in to the movie magic means the end of the privacy he cherishes. Will the credits roll before their ride into the sunset?

Sometimes all you want is an extremely well written angst free romance.  One completely lacking in murderous ex lovers, psychotic stalkers, or even the normal life driven “why  did it happen to me/them” elements that realistically thread through some contemporary novels these days.  Sometimes, I just want happy.  A well plotted story, full of multidimensional characters who were easy to connect with, and, had a journey towards HEA that just pulled me in for hours.

His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane is that story.  Two intelligent, nice, hardworking men who find each other at the right time in their lives and it works.  It was so enjoyable!  I fell effortlessly into the tale of actor Drew Beaumont and writer Steve Sopol on the set of Steve’s low budget movie Dog Gone that he’s written.  It’s Steven’s first screen play and his big break into movies as a writer.  For Drew?  This low budget film represents something different.  Smartly written, dialog his loves, as well the the comedic character and tone of the story?  And LGBT storyline?  It’s something he’s been looking to play.

Ashlyn Kane brings us right into the dynamics of creating a low budget movie, writing a screenplay and acting, all the while as two men discover each other and fall in love.  We get both points of view, a cautious relationship that moves from friendship to dating to love, and with each step, I fell in love with this couple and this story even more.

I first read Ashlyn Kane from her hockey books but it had been a while since I’d last turned a page of one of those.  What a delight to rediscover her and her stories again in His Leading Man.  This just showed me what I’ve been missing.  Now I’m off to see what else she’s been  writing in the interim.

Do you love contemporary romance?  One’s guaranteed to reach into your heart with a sweetness and lightheartedness that will make your day?  Then I recommend His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane to fit the bill.

Cover art: Bree Archer.  Light, fun, and romantic.  It  works for the character and tone of the story.  Perfect.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner website |  Amazon.com.

Book Details:

ebook, 222 pages
Expected publication: June 5th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleHis Leading Man
ISBN139781640801080
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

Ashlyn Kane on Characterization, Gary Stu, and her new release His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane (author guest blog)

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His Leading Man by Ashlyn Kane

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Bree Archer

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ashlyn Kane here today talking about her latest contemporary romance, His Leading Man.  Welcome, Ashlyn.

 

Hi all! I’m Ashlyn Kane, and I’m here as stop one on the His Leading Man blog tour. Thanks so much to Stella and Melanie for hosting me! If you haven’t heard about the book, here’s the blurb:

He wrote a comedy. Fate directed a romance. 

Drew Beaumont is bored of the same old roles: action hero, supervillain, romantic lead. He’s not going to let a fresh gay buddy comedy languish just because they can’t find him the right costar. No, Drew bats his eyelashes and convinces everyone that the movie’s writer should play Drew’s not-so-straight man.

Aspiring writer Steve Sopol has never had a screenplay optioned. Now one of Hollywood’s hottest properties wants to be in a movie Steve hasn’t finished writing—and he wants Steve as his costar. Turns out the chemistry between them is undeniable—on and offscreen.

Drew swore off dating in the biz, but Steve is the whole package: sharp, funny, humble, and cute. For Steve, though, giving in to the movie magic means the end of the privacy he cherishes. Will the credits roll before their ride into the sunset? 

If that strikes your fancy, you can buy it on the Dreamspinner website or on Amazon.com.

And now for more about me!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

If I’m doing my job right, just enough to get me into their mindset for writing, and not so much that they all start to sound alike. That was a bit tricky in my newest book because it features Steve, who’s a somewhat private writer, so of course we’ve got that in common: the desire to tell stories, particularly unique ones. But Steve’s leading man (or vice versa depending who you ask) is Drew, who’s a flashy movie star—very different on the surface, until you realize that is just another way to tell stories.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I grew up in fandom mumble-mumble years ago, which gives me a knee-jerk reaction to those names. To me Mary Sue or Gary Stu doesn’t mean just a self-insert but a character who’s “too perfect,” and when people use the term that way I want to go off on a tangent about how male power fantasies are allowed (Bruce Wayne, anyone?) but female ones get called out as two-dimensional. But to answer the question I think you mean: this isn’t something I personally struggle with. I’m a deeply boring person. No one would read a book about me, and I wouldn’t want to write it!

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

Hmm, I think only in that I’ve always been eclectic. As a kid I read everything I could get my paws on, from the Bunnicula series and Nancy Drew to Harry Potter to The Green Mile. The first romance novel I ever read was about a woman with superpowers. I write a little bit of everything too (except historical, which is too much research!), the flashy Hollywood romance sort of books but also the quieter, almost pedestrian ones, and even paranormal. My next book after this is magical realism, which is a fun universe to write in and I’m debating revisiting it. The only thing I haven’t really done yet is sci-fi, which I read a ton of growing up but I think I’m too—lazy? intimidated? uninspired? all of the above?—to try writing. I mostly write for fun, so I prefer not to have to think too hard. Thinking is for editing!

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA all the way. This is why sequels make me nervous! What if you take the happy ending away from them??? No, thank you!

 

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

A sense of humor is so important. Life can be brutal and tragic and lonely and hard. I think that it’s important to share it with someone who can cheer you up. That could come in the form of kindness too, rather than humor, but it’s usually the humor people notice first. Kindness is quieter, but also important. I think, in this genre, a lot of what people are looking for boils down to levity and kindness, so I try to make sure each book has a good portion of each, however that works out character-wise.

 

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.

Oh sure, only every time I’ve ever gotten stuck on a sex scene!

  

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

Because I need to tell stories. I’ve been writing since I was six years old. My parents used to read me bedtime stories; once they turned off the lights and closed the door, I’d lie awake and make up more stories to tell myself. It’s a part of me that’s always been there—some kind of self-soothing behavior, maybe. It’s like watching TV, except backwards.

 

What’s next for you as a writer?

Well, I’ve got another book coming with Dreamspinner late this summer, and then we’ll see! I have a few ideas floating around, but none of them has taken quite firm enough root yet. Ask me again in two months—maybe I’ll have a better answer!

ASHLYN KANE is a Canadian former expat and current hockey fan. She is a writer, editor, handyperson, dog mom, and friend—sometimes all at once.

On any given day, she can usually be found walking her ninety-pound baby chocolate lapdog, Indy, or holed up in her office avoiding housework. She has a deep and abiding love of romance-novel tropes, a habit of dropping too many f-bombs, and—fortunately—a very forgiving family.

Twitter: @ashlynkane

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ashlyn.kane.94

Website: Ashlynkane.ca

Nicki Bennett on Research, Romance and her new story ‘Bad to the Bone’ (author guest blog)

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Bad to the Bone by Nicki Bennett
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Nicki Bennett here today on tour for her new Dreamspun Desires story, Bad to the Bone.  Welcome, Nicki.

✒︎

 

 

—Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Nicki Bennett Interview–

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

I enjoy research so much that I have to be sure I stop eventually to actually write! But whether I’m writing historical novels such as the All for Love series or contemporary stories like Bad to the Bone, I want to be sure the details are accurate. When Ariel Tachna and I wrote Checkmate, we not only researched the Spanish Inquisition but also the distances between cities, how far a horse or carriage could travel in a day, and whether chocolate would be available tor Teodoro’s son Esteban to purchase in the local market (it would). For Bad to the Bone, I researched how Native American tribes use the income from their casinos, the Oklahoma juvenile justice system, what popular songs from 2007 the DJ might play at the Freeland High School reunion, and places where Ricky Lee could take Alex in Oklahoma City (which was so successful that now I want to visit there myself!)

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?

I hate killing characters off. When Ariel and I were writing Under the Skin, we set it aside for over a year because we’d worked ourselves into a place where we knew the only resolution was going to lead to a character’s death, and we didn’t want to do it. We tried and tried to come up with another solution, but we ultimately realized the only way to move forward was to write the scene the way it needed to play out, as painful as it was. Sometimes we’re more successful—while writing Checkmate, we needed someone for Teo to talk with while he was imprisoned by the Inquisition to avoid pages of internal thought. But by the time we were ready to rescue Teo, we realized we couldn’t leave his cellmate Javier to be killed! Fortunately Raul was able to save them both, and Javier went on to play a role in the next two books in the series.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m a romantic at heart—no surprise for a romance writer—and I want my characters to get their happy endings, no matter how long it takes. The Exploring Limits series may have started as a Happy for Now, and it took almost 250,000 words to give Jonathan, Kit, and Devon their Happy Ever After, but we got them there! There’s enough negative news in the world. I want my stories to leave readers feeling good.

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

I read a lot of everything—science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, nonfiction—but romances have always been my go-to escape reading. When I was a teen, I discovered Georgette Heyer and devoured everything she wrote, then went on to other Regency authors, though I’ve never found anyone to compare to her. In my twenties I went through category romances like popcorn—I had my Silhouette subscriptions, and I’d scrounge through secondhand bookstores looking for backlist titles by my favorite authors. When the Lord of the Rings films came out, I scoured the internet for fanfic, which soon led to my discovering slash fiction, and that eventually led to my reading, and ultimately writing, gay romance.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”? Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

At the beginning of Bad to the Bone, Alex Morrison, one of the two MCs, sees himself as a failure. He was the golden boy in high school—everyone was sure he was destined for NFL stardom. But injuries ended his college career, and he gave up the job he wanted to return home and take over the family business when his father got sick, which led to the breakup of his marriage. I think it’s very realistic that all those things could leave him feeling as if he hadn’t lived up to his potential, but I had to be careful not to make readers believe it too, or I risked making him unlikeable as a character. I hope I gave him enough good qualities to offset his lack of self-esteem, and that his friends and his sister are able to help him see those qualities in himself without turning into It’s a Wonderful Life.

What’s next for you as an author?

Ariel and I have started a series called Out and About, in which two friends start a business that organizes social events where LGBTQ+ singles can meet and mingle. Of course, you know that’s going to lead to romance! The first book, Out of Bounds, will come out this fall, and we have at least two more planned in the series. I also have ideas for several more Dreamspun Desires that I’m fleshing out to see if Dreamspinner is interested.

Blurb:

A second chance at first love—if he has the courage to take it.

Alex can’t think of himself as anything but a failure. In high school, he was on the fast track to a career in pro football when he forged an unlikely friendship with a half-Comanche boy from the wrong part of town, Ricky Lee Jennings. Their shared love of books could have grown into more—but a homophobic teammate attacked Ricky Lee, and Alex wouldn’t risk his scholarship to defend him. Ricky Lee was kicked out of school, and Alex never heard from him again.

Now Alex’s glory days are nothing but a memory. An injury ended his football aspirations, his marriage fell apart, and his dreams of making a difference as an environmental lobbyist are as dead as his fantasies of sports stardom.

But all that could change in one magical night, when Ricky Lee shows up at their high-school reunion.

Excerpt:

“You have any preference on where to have dinner tonight?” Ricky Lee asked. “There’s a restaurant in the hotel, but it’s mostly burgers and sandwiches.”

“Freeland hasn’t exactly become a mecca of fine dining since you left.” Alex tilted his head, considering. “There’s not much unless you want to head up 44 to Lawton.” Stupid, Morrison, he told himself as soon as he said it. Remind him again of having to leave town.

“Maybe some other time,” Ricky Lee answered, and Alex could swear his deep voice went even huskier. “I think I’d rather stay close tonight.”

Alex hoped that was because he was tired from working on the build all morning and not because he’d put his foot in his mouth mentioning Lawton. At least it implies there may be another time. “Honestly, some of the best food in town is at the little mom-and-pop places along Wichita and Main. There’s a pretty good taqueria we could walk to from your hotel, or if you’ve had enough Mexican for the day, there’s the pizzeria, though they mostly do carryout.”

“Tacos sound good. Want to meet in the hotel lobby around six?”

“If you can wait until six thirty, that will give me time to help Alanna close up.”

“Works for me.” Ricky Lee unhooked his thumbs and took a step forward. “There’s just one more thing.” He moved even closer, backing Alex up against the ladders he’d just racked. “I’ve been wanting to do this all day.”

Ricky Lee lowered his head and brushed his lips against Alex’s. Alex drew in a startled breath, and Ricky Lee swallowed the exhale, closing his mouth over Alex’s. He raised his hands to grasp the shelves on either side of Alex’s head, pinning him in place—not that Alex made any move to get free. He clutched at Ricky Lee’s hips and opened himself to the kiss that bore as little resemblance to the innocent touch of eleven years ago as a wildfire did to the flicker of a birthday candle.

About the Author

Growing up in Chicago, Nicki Bennett spent every Saturday at the central library, losing herself in the world of books. A voracious reader, she eventually found it difficult to find enough of the kind of stories she liked to read and decided to start writing them herself.

You can find Nicki on her Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011754789784