A MelanieM Review: Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.

When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.

 

In Count the Shells (Porthkennack #6), Charlie Cochrane once again brings her marvelous way of incorporating soft, sometimes unusual romances with her love of history.  The author never fails,  with her incredible ability , to bring this post WWI historical time frame accurately alive, right down to the songs and events of the era, and then add a poignant and lovely romance as well.

Here in the shadows of WWI, we are looking at a vastly different England.  It’s dealing with returned soldiers and the ramifications of war, as well as the memories of those that fell on the battlefields.  The wounds for most are still fresh as is the grief for those they buried.   Michael Grey is one dealing with both.  Injured but alive, he’s still mourning over the loss of the one man he considers his one true love, Thomas Carter-Clemence.  Parted on bad terms over a argument, Thomas joined up and then died on the battlefield,  their hoped for reconciliation never to be.

We meet up with Michael and his young nephew on a beach, counting shells in different languages.  For Michael, each shell represents a different lover he’s had.  Thomas is always the first, and the ones that follow?  Lost too.  It’s a sad refrain that his discerning nephew nevertheless asks him to repeat, and a sweet introduction to the times and characters.

Then the author sweeps us into the lives of the two families, the Greys, and their neighbors, the Carter-Clemences with the appearance of Harry, Thomas’ brother.  What starts off as a gentle reintroduction and re-acquaintance of the families as Harry and Michael establish a friendship becomes something quite unexpected when the author starts to deal out revelations that shake up the story just as WWI shook up England at the time.  The rest of the story becomes how to reassemble your vision of the things and people you know and move forward.  Again, it’s a very shattering yet familiar thing to have to deal with during that time period on a number of levels.

I thought the relationships here  were all very moving and the dynamics realistically laid out.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s between  brother and nephew, brother and sister,   sister and husband, brother and  brother in law and mostly brother  and brother of the man he loved.  Count the Shells brings  out life’s tapestry in all its interconnections,  lets us look at the power  when  one string is broken and then the ability to mend and make it whole.

I loved this story.  It’s thoughtful, moves perfectly for the plots and elements as laid out.  It allowed me to glimpse into post WWI England via the mind and heart of Charlie Cochrane and that’s a wonderful thing.  Yes, I highly recommend this story and author.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is perfect and in keeping with the character and setting.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 253 pages
Published October 16th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626496545
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPorthkennack #6

A MelanieM Release Day Review: His Mossy Boy (Being(s) in Love#8) by R. Cooper

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Being(s) in Love Story

Years ago, a very intoxicated Martin nearly died in the woods outside Everlasting, and a beautiful creature saved him, although Martin’s done his best to forget it. He spends his time in a haze of weed as he avoids his emotionally abusive mother—and the way he feels about men. Martin is already a weirdo in his isolated small town; he doesn’t need a sexuality crisis too. He’s a mess, but someone—or something—always seems to take care of him, usually a tall, sarcastic deputy by the name of Ian Forrester.

No one knows much about Ian, which is how he and his family prefer it. Ian has resigned himself to a lonely life keeping his secrets and guarding his forest. It’s safe to dream of Martin, because Martin never remembers Ian helping him. Besides, Martin barely speaks to Ian, so nothing can ever grow between them. Right?

But with the dragons—and the magic—back in Everlasting, suddenly anything seems possible, even a happily ever after for two men who never expected one….

When I pick up an R Cooper story I know exactly what I’m getting into.  A long, densely layered, fabulous fantasy tale, a slow burn romance so slow moving we are talking a smouldering peat fire, one that’s simmering under the surface and takes chapters, hundreds of pages to come to fruition. No you won’t get any sort of instant love here.  That’s the absolute love and joy for some, and total frustration for others.  For me?  It’s what I love and know I’m getting from the opening sentence.

His Mossy Boy is just part of a rich tapestry of tales that R. Cooper has been building in their (Being(s) in Love series, each story adding more vibrant storylines, characters and history to an overall mythology and town of Everlasting.  It’s sheer magic!  And like any wonderful bard R. Cooper takes their time.  Always has and I expect always will.

Martin is young man in pain.  Emotionally abused by his mother, uncertain about his sexuality, Martin feels like a freak, unloved and worthless. He takes refuge in alcohol and drugs, often ending up in a stupor outside and alone.  Cooper brings us into the mind and heart of this bruised and aching man through Martin’s perspective.  And it’s often a tortuous one.  Especially with his scenes with his mother, as she drags down and kills what little hope and progress he’s made to to self worth through the day.  It’s heartbreaking and all too believable.

But Martin has someone looking over him.  Deputy Ian Forrester who has he own secrets and heartbreak.  We get Ian’s perspective too.  We get his insight into the town, into Martin, and we see the blinders, well, not blinders but perhaps lack of knowledge is keeping him from making the right decisions about Martin and their future.  To get these two together will take the entire book.  They will come so close at times but fear, low self esteem, town pressure and more, even magic seemingly strives to keep them apart.

There’s even dragons!  Joseph and Zarrin, his sister Zazzy and Bernard the chatelaine, the dragon parents and the town of Everlasting feature prominently here.  Did I mention this is a densely woven incredible tapestry?

But primarily it’s about getting Martin to accept himself, to see beyond other’s abuse of him and their intolerance and to be brave enough to reach for what he wants and think he deserves it.  And not just Martin alone.  There are two that need to believe that boundaries can be broken, rules bent so lovers can be together.  In the end it all comes together in a powerfully simple walk down the street holding hands that makes you want to cry in happiness.

Yes, I love this story and this author.  Neither one, the story or the series is for the impatient.  Neither is the author for that matter.  But for those of us who love to meander, take our time, looking around, appreciating the trail as much as the  destination. Those of us who love the slow burn, the hesitation before the kiss…well, this is magic.

It helps to have read the story before this one, Treasure for Treasure (Beings in Love #7) to get background history on Joseph and Zarrin.  Indeed pick up the entire Beings in Love series.  It’s wonderful.  I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  His Mossy Boy and the rest are all highly recommended!

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond.  What an absolutely gorgeous cover.  Its perfect for the story and characters.  One of my favorite of the year.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages
Expected publication: September 11th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635338850
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Beings in Love #8

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour: A Cambridge Fellows Mystery novella (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?

I’m a huge fan of Charlie Cochrane.  Her love of history and her ability to bring various eras to life vividly and memorably on the page can be seen no where better than her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries.  In this series, her remarkable characters Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith meet in St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905.  That was their first story Lessons in Love.  From that start, we watch these two men grow, sometimes falter, mature, and continue to love each other through the years and history that follows.  The last book release was Lessons for Sleeping Dogs (Cambridge Fellows #12) and the year was 1921, setting Cambridge. Of course, they are at their beloved St. Bride’s College, a place that’s kept their secret and them safe all these years.

Their greatest enemy here? Well, that would be their neighboring college next to them…one so dastardly that the name is often never spoken.  Especially since its Head has been involved in several imbroglios and a nasty encounter with a beloved member of their small group of friends.  Now their are being asked to investigate whether one of their worst enemies could actually be innocent of murder?

What follows is a charming, complicated (it’s Jonty and Orlando of course) murder investigation.  It will touch on many past elements and stark realities about that era.  Soldiers in what we now call PTSD from the war being one of them,  Jonty’s past abuse as a child, and others are all threads included here. If you are unfamiliar with the series, they might slip by you without a much of a trace.  But if you are, they deepen much of the poignancy that flows here.  Jonty and Orlando have been together 20 years at this point, a lovely measure of time.  Yet still the fear of being caught out hangs over them and they are always cautious with themselves and their relationship.

The author bring’s us into Jonty and Orlando’s lives again gently, her conversations with them flows with the language and usage of words of the times yet it never feels forced or hard to read.  Indeed, its warm, welcoming, and easy.  After all these stories, it feels like  walking into the drawing room again and seeing old friends.  What a joy.   The story flew by all too quickly and it was another case closed before I knew it.

I hope Charlie Cochrane never closes the books on her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries.  I hope Jonty and Orlando never really get so old that they can’t go sleuthing together and that St. Bride’s will always be waiting for them when they return home.  Unfamiliar with the series?  Start today with Lessons in Love and work your way through.  There’s some real heartbreakers in the series but don’t worry.  The sun continues to shine on them both.  This is proof and a great story to boot.

Cover Illustration by Alex Beecroft is utterly charming and perfect for the story. Had no idea this talented author was an artist as well.

Buy links:    Amazon | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 82 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2017 by The Right Chair Press
ASINB073Z3LL3K

A MelanieM Review: Werecat: The Sim Ru Prophecy by Andrew J. Peters

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The final installment of the Werecat series, a finalist in the 2016 Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards.

A fugitive from two murder investigations in New York City and a bizarre, big cat attack at a bank in Barbados, Jacks Dowd flees to South America to find the ringleader of a shifter terrorist organization deep in the Amazon. The world is on the brink of all-out war between shifters and humans, and Jacks needs to somehow broker a deal for peace.

But a special U.S. intelligence agency emerges as a new, possibly even more dangerous enemy. Both the terrorists and the U.S. government will stop at nothing to get an arcane codex that could unleash an unstoppable threat to mankind or exterminate werecats everywhere.

While Jacks dodges danger from both sides and decodes the ancient book, he’s left with the impossible choice of how to use it.

Final installment?  Hmmmm, maybe…..

I say that because when I finished the story, the first thing I did was write the author asking if, surely, there was another story just around the corner because you couldn’t leave Jacks and the Werecat series like this.  No, there wasn’t a cliffhanger. But there was left open the possibility that Jacks still had a huge task to accomplish, one I very much wanted to read about because this is a wonderful series.

Werecat: The Sim Ru Prophecy takes up right after the last story, The Fugitive ends, with the threat of interspecies warfare, Jacks trying to track down the head of the murderous werecat splinter group called The Glaring and the world on the edge of exploding.  Peters continues to build his intriguing mythology here, bringing in more ancient history and god elements.  As Jacks investigates how the werecats came into being in his search for the werecat leader Tepe in the jungles of South America, the reader gets pulled deeply into the mysteries the author is constructing.  There are more murders, increasing mystical elements and of course a government/military conspiracy worthy of any major action/adventure movie.

Throw in Jacks and his human lover, Farzan, still trying to steady their relationship, and Jacks realizing the reality of the human/werecat age span, and still have a romance /love affair and this story has oodles to offer.  That is if any of them get out of this alive.  The odds are definitely not in their favor!

I gobbled up this book in one quick read, I couldn’t get to the next scene fast enough.  So much action, so much  suspense and yes, a ton of surprises here.  And I can’t talk about any of them because everything is folded in together, melded like one great riveting mythological tapestry, that to give out one fact, just points to another spoiler and that’s just not going to happen.  Wonderful writing and great storying telling here.  It made me want to smack all four books together for one continuous read.  I just may do that.

The characters are real and believable, the settings vivid and authentic and the situations tense and suspenseful.  Trust me it’s a white-knuckle ride most of the time.

Why not five stars?  Because of that little nudge towards another story.  Peters would only say it’s not in the works yet.  Argh!!!!  We need to know what Jacks is going to do next…the future awaits him and us.  Andrew J. Peters, are you listening?

Until he does, grab up all the Werecat stories and read all the way through to this one.  What an amazing saga!  It’s a series I highly recommend.

Cover art works, especially with that wall in the backdrop.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 287 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by Vagabondage Romance
ASINB072WT8PPN

A MelanieM Release Day Review: After the Sunset (Timing #2) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5 

after-the-sunset-by-mary-calmes-iiTwo years after riding off into the sunset with ranch owner Rand Holloway, Stefan Joss has made a tentative peace with his new life, teaching at a community college. But the course of true love never does run smooth. Rand wants him home on the ranch; Stef wants an exit strategy in case Rand ever decides to throw him out. Finally, after recognizing how unfair he’s being, Stef makes a commitment, and Rand is over the moon.

When Stef gets the chance to prove his devotion, he doesn’t hesitate—despite the risk to his health—and Rand takes the opportunity to show everyone that sometimes life’s best surprises come after the sunset.

I first read After the Sunset (Timing #2) by Mary Calmes when it came out in 2011, so I wondered how I would feel about it diving into this couple and series the second time around.  Honestly, I think I’ve loved it even more.  Something about Rand and Stef just resonate with me.  They have from the first story, Timing, and the joy and satisfaction I got from reading this sequel returned all over again.

After the Sunset moves the time frame for the series ahead two years.  Rand and Stef have settled into life on the Red Diamond, well, sort of.  Adjustments are still being made.  Stef is now teaching at a community college and the ranch is becoming more self sufficient as Rand expands his business with Stef’s help. Sounds great, right?  With Rand and Stef nothing is ever that easy.  With their past histories, their complication personal dynamics, and a somewhat messy family relationships about to push into their lives, things are going to get lively…Mary Calmes style.

That means that Stef’s need to make a commitment to Rand and the ranch will come into play yet again.  This time for the doubting ranch hands who are not only a cornerstone of the ranch’s success but have become part of the family there as well.  I love how this is their story too.  We get to see more of life on the Diamond, the secondary characters, and Rand’s extended family.  It all becomes necessary to know them better as people and as part of the ranch to get Stef settled deeper into ranch life and as a permanent fixture there as a half of the Rand/Stef couple.

There is so much drama here.  Between Stef and Rand’s cousins, Stef and a few local homophobes, plus all the amazing Stef and Rand sexy interaction.  That I  can never get enough of.  For me they just sizzle.   I love the dynamic they have  going on.  I don’t specifically categorize it because I get it with this couple.  It works for me, and I just find them hot.

One character get a spotlight on him here and that’s Glenn Holloway.  We met him briefly in the first book but his role is hugely expanded here for reasons I won’t go into because they run into spoiler territory.  I ended up liking Glenn.  He went from your basic jerk on the range to someone you start to understand and connect with towards the end.  Which is probably is really good thing considering the next story features Glenn as the main character.

So I’ve completed Timing and After The Sunset once more.  And fallen in love all over again with Stef and Rand and the Red Diamond and its crew.  Even Bella the Rhodesian Ridgeback has a huge place in my heart.  Mary Calmes series has a way of doing that.  They burrow in deep and even if its been awhile since you’ve visited with them, one visit brings all the reasons flooding back why you loved them so in the first place.  And yes, I highly recommend this series.  Coming up next?  When the Dust Settles (Timing, #3).  I’ll let you know what I find.

New cover by Reese Dante is darn near perfect. I think she has Stef captured exactly how I think he looks.  Truly one of Mary’s golden boys.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 169 pages
Expected publication: November 2nd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 16th 2011)
ISBN 1634777131 (ISBN13: 9781634777131)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Timing – add it to your Goodreads shelf here:

A MelanieM Review: Forgive and Forget (Dreamspun Desires) by Charlie Cochet

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Forgive and ForgetHe’s hot. He’s dangerous. And he can’t remember anything.

As the owner of Apple’n Pies, Joe Applin leads a quiet, uneventful life, content to spend his days serving customers who come from all over to eat his delicious homemade pies. Along with his motley crew—Bea, Elsie, and Donnie—Joe couldn’t be happier in his little kingdom of baked goods and java.

Experience has taught Joe that love is overrated—and at times dangerous. He has no intention of repeating past mistakes. But then he meets a mysterious, handsome man with amnesia, and Joe can’t deny something sweet is in the works. He isn’t one to take risks, not with his heart and certainly not with his life, but the more time he spends with the man he knows as Tom, the closer he is to losing both.

Charlie Cochet’s Forgive and Forget picks up and runs with the ‘mystery man who can remember who he is’ trope and turns it into a wonderful quick moving romance in another of Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Desires series.

Starting with the character of Joe Applin and the welcoming crew at Joe’s pie cafe, Apple’n Pies, Cochet creates a memorable cast and location guaranteed to pull the reader in and keep them throughly absorbed in Joe’s little corner of the world and his developing romance.  I thought Joe Applin had such a nice balance of quirks and professionalism, that it made his cafe real, his pies sound mouth watering delicious and his character believable and someone I could connect with.  You laughed with Joe and you hurt with Joe, that’s how much I liked this character.

I felt that way about Bea, and Elsie and Donnie too.

Then along comes “Tom”, aka our mystery man.  Tom is the one that seems too good to be true.  Handsome, good at everything, his eyes all but sparkles and yes, he’s gay and attracted to Joe.  Had Charlie Cochet been writing another story in another series, maybe I might have had a little eye roll here.  But again, the author is writing a story in a series that’s bringing back a style of romance that is perhaps not only a tad naive in outlook but originally launched when plots were, if not not as complex, then maybe more streamlined in approach.  So Tom is welcomed with a wary if swift embrace by all, including this reader, and the romance is on.

Yes, I loved that approach to romance too.  Its warmhearted, sexy, and occasionally funny.  You want these men to be together, no matter the odds, a clear sign the author has succeeded in her writing and in the love building between Joe and “Tom”.   There’s the mystery and a bit of suspense.  The ending brings things full  circle which is, again, in keeping with the format of the series and writing this story is going for. I won’t spoil it for you. Needless to say I loved this story and absolutely recommend  it to all.

Forgive and Forget is a quick, heartwarming, absorbing story.  I picked it up and forgot about everything else until I put it down.  I wouldn’t even mind if Charlie Cochet gave us a trip back to their world and let us in to see how they are doing, a Forgive and Forget  II.

Until then, go grab this up and get started on an enjoyable  trip to a New York pie cafe owned by a man named Joe and his  mystery man searching for love and something more.

Cover art by Paul Richmond continues the terrific job that is a hallmark of this series.

Sales Links : Dreamspinner Press | AReAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 194 pages
Published April 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleForgive and Forget
ISBN139781634770170
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDreamspun Desires

A MelanieM Review: Jury of One (Lindenshaw Mysteries) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

JuryOfOne_600x900Inspector Robin Bright is enjoying a quiet Saturday with his lover, Adam Matthews, when murder strikes in nearby Abbotson, and he’s called in to investigate. He hopes for a quick resolution, but as the case builds, he’s drawn into a tangled web of crimes, new and old, that threatens to ensnare him and destroy his fledgling relationship.

Adam is enjoying his final term teaching at Lindenshaw School, and is also delighted to be settling down with Robin at last. Only Robin doesn’t seem so thrilled. Then an old crush of Adam’s shows up in the murder investigation, and suddenly Adam is yet again fighting to stay out of one of Robin’s cases, to say nothing of trying to keep their relationship from falling apart.

Between murder, stabbings, robberies, and a suspect with a charming smile, the case threatens to ruin everything both Robin and Adam hold dear. What does it take to realise where your heart really lies, and can a big, black dog hold the key?

What marvelous characters! What a hedgerow maze of a plot! With Jury of One Charlie Cochrane moved her cozy mystery series even closer into my heart.

Characters Adam Matthews and Robin Bright melt you with their genuineness.  By that I mean, I believed in them utterly.  Their kindnesses and their doubts about the relationship in its newness, their intelligence and perceptions about each other and the people around them.  I accepted them as real and moved forward into the story from the first page.

The two person pov continues and I love it here.  Both Robin and Adam are strong, necessary voices here and the contributions the different perspectives make to the plot and relationship are necessary to the story and series.  We see what Robin’s continuing need to hold onto his flat is doing to the relationship on Adam’s side and his.  That’s the more intimate element.  Then when it comes to the larger scope, that of the murder mystery or mysteries here, we see how segments in both of their lives are starting to add up to a startling…well, that’s best left to the author and this wonderful book.

I think what really engages me here is the details in their lives.  Having teachers in my background, I understand when Adam faces a evening of grading papers or other such things that he has brought home to work on. He’s used to it or was until Robin entered his life. Now he loves the companionship but it seems to be missing. And Robin?  Coming home so exhausted from his cases and long hours that he can barely keep his eyes open to see his way to their bed, let alone  converse, eat, or make love in a new relationship?  He’s a inspector on a murder case and that’s his life.  Something brand new for Adam and a huge adjustment for them both.  Neither backs away from it, the author makes sure of it but I love how its handled.

And then there’s himself, that big black Newfoundland Campbell who lends a ear, a discerning look or much, much, more when needed.  Yes, I adore him too.  He’s as much of this family as Adam and Robin and the village they live in.

So make room Midsomer Mysteries, I’m adding another English mystery series to love.  I can’t wait for the third mystery to arrive.  For those of you new to the series, you have several choices.  The audiobook is out and my review will be coming shortly.  Or you can follow the ebook route.  Either way catch up.  This is a series to treasure if you love your murder mysteries and a realistic wonderful main couple like Robin and Adam, with a big Newfy thrown in for good measure.

I highly recommend them all.

Cover art by L. C. Chase is well done and works for the mystery inside.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing |  ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 298 pages
Published March 21st 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleJury of One
ISBN 1626493766 (ISBN13: 9781626493766)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series:  Lindenshaw Mysteries

Its Back to the Foothills with Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw (excerpt and giveaway)

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BehrFacts-Preview

Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3) by Pat Henshaw
Release Date: October 28, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Banner300x250

Blurb

Big, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly a family member—is stealing from Behr Construction, which primarily employs Behr relatives. Abe takes the unprecedented step of hiring an outsider, likeable CPA Jeff Mason, to go over the books and help find the culprit. They are drawn to each other as they talk to workers, including Abe’s two younger brothers and their shifty cousin.

Since he has sacrificed romance all his life to build the business, Abe’s surprised by his feelings for the handsome Jeff. He’s even more shocked when they are confronted by bigotry in the Sierra Nevada foothills community, which is being inundated by gays moving from the San Francisco area. As he and Jeff get closer, Abe must come to grips with coming out to a family and community that aren’t very tolerant. Fortunately, being the head Behr helps him find his footing and grab onto love when it bites him.

 

 

Excerpt

“You ever come up the bank to sit under my tree? Looks like a much more comfortable place to fish. Not as rocky at any rate.” Jeff took a drink of his beer as I again scrambled to keep up. “My dad called it the Fishing Tree. He seemed to think fish congregated off the shore there.”

We sat in silence. It was my turn to talk. I’m pretty good in business situations. Not so much in social ones. At social events, mostly I hold up walls. Shake hands. Grunt a lot. Let others carry the conversational load.

Lorraine set our meals in front of us. The full burger with everything for him. The grilled mountain trout and steamed vegetables for me.

“You do a lot of fishing?” I managed after a long silence.

“Not really.” He gave a self-deprecating laugh. “My dad said fishing couldn’t be taught. He said it was something intuitive. I never had any idea what I was doing. So I never saw any use in fishing. I never saw any fish either.”

Again, silence as I processed and caught up. “It’s not rocket science. You figure out what kind of fish you want. Where it lives. Lure it to you. Then catch it.”

He looked skeptical and almost self-conscious. “It can’t be so easy,” he said with a little laugh.

“Why not?”

“What about the different rods, lures, tackle, stuff?” He looked so serious, as if I were missing the point. As if I didn’t understand. He was right. I didn’t.

“Look. You can catch fish with your bare hands. If you want to. The extra stuff is just extra stuff.”

“If you say so.” He shook his head, a smile still on his lips. “Have you ever caught a fish with your bare hands?”

I lifted my hands and looked down at the mess that were my paws. Calluses, nicks, cuts, punctures, blunt fingers, the bandage now off the one with the splinter. These were the hands of a man who’d framed houses as a tall, rangy preteen and had lived in construction ever since. Could I catch a fish with my bare hands?

“Yeah. All it takes is absolute stillness and patience.” I sighed. “Not a whole lot of people have both together. Somebody once told me it’s all about Zen.” Somebody else said the only reason I could do it was because I was too stupid to know it was impossible.

“Zen.” His tone said he was surprised I knew such a word.

“You know, like the Eastern religion,” I answered. “Though why we still call it Eastern is beyond me. It’s really Far West, not Far East to us.” I was grumbling and rambling. Avoiding for some reason.

He rattled me. Nobody ever rattled me. I’m Abe Behr, the big Behr.

He was studying me as intently as I was him. He appeared too beautiful, too perfect, too unscarred. I just hoped his accountant skills were as perfect as he looked.

“What kind of fish you want to catch?” I asked. Staring at him wasted our time.

He pointed his fork to my plate. “How about that? It’s good, right?”

“Trout,” I agreed. “Lots of different kinds of trout.”

He looked like he’d never eaten any in his life.

“This is trout from our lake. Have a bite.”

He’d finished his burger but didn’t make a move on my fish. His expression was split between wanting to dig in and reluctance to do so.

“Just taste it,” I growled. “It won’t bite.”

His eyes snapped up to meet mine. His puzzled stare asked if the stupid bear had deliberately made a joke or not. Then he gave a happy, hearty laugh, and his fork raided my fish.

“So? What do you think?” I asked after he swallowed.

“I think you made a great joke,” he said with twinkling eyes. “And the trout is delicious. Is this why you threw your catch back? Did you know you’d get it cooked perfectly here at the cafe?”

“Naw. I was stalking the pie. Fish was a bonus.”

“They have good pie here?”

“Wait and see.”

Pages or Words: 90 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

 

Buy the book:

Dreamspinner |Amazon |Amazon UK |Kobo |All Romance Ebooks (English titles only)

RC

Meet the Author

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska and promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

 

Where to find the author:

 

 

 

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: A $10 Starbucks Gift Card to 3 winners.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. 
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A MelanieM Review: Diamond Flush: Ace of Diamonds Four by Laura Harner (Pulp Friction 2015: Altered States Book 16)

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Diamond Flush coverFor Alpha Jet Gorman, discovering the origins of his pack’s newest members has provided more questions than answers. Like why would someone deliberately expose the existence of supernatural beings to the human world through in vitro fertilization? And more importantly…cui bono? Who benefits most from the Revelation? With the threat of betrayal a constant presence running through the Vieux Carré, at least Jet can count on Nico to have his back.

Ancient vampire Nico Sanzio da Urbino has been given an order to kill a werewolf—not unusual given his job as an enforcer. The problem lies in the fact the targeted Alpha is often in Nico’s bed—or vice versa—and may just be that elusive soul mate he has never quite believed in. Not to mention Jet’s blood fairly sings through Nico’s veins. Caught somewhere between the Paranormal Odd Squad, the all powerful Vampire Council, and a promise to his oldest friend, Nico must make a choice before someone realizes he hasn’t carried out his orders—and takes the matter out of his hands.

With the New Orleans preternatural population continuing to increase at an unnatural rate, the local Alpha and the Odd Squad’s chief enforcer should have their attention focused on maintaining the human-to-super status quo, but with things between them at an incendiary high, their mutual distraction could prove deadly—for everyone.

Heading into the all important fifth book, Laura Harner lines up her angst and mysteries here, her characters waiting to see who will survive the upcoming evil tide of events.  Nico and Jet’s relationship has gotten deeper and richer, despite the fact that both are keeping important secrets from each other.  But Nico’s maybe the most important of them all as he has been ordered to kill the Alpha, who just happens to be his lover and perhaps his soulmate Jet.  Jet also is keeping things hidden from Nico, the worst betrayals seeming only moments away and all blended together with scenes of smoking hot sex.

One of the things I so appreciate about Laura Harner is her ability to balance the elements of  sex, suspense and horror with those of tenderness, love, and angst.  The early scene of Jet and Artie had me in tears.  It was quiet, moving, and a needed reminder of what was at stake for them all.  A gem of a moment among many.

So here we are.  So close to the end.  I have thoughts about where this might go but rarely does that line up with the author’s! This is a superb series as are all the interconnected stories associated with it.  They make a perfect Halloween read, or book choice for anytime of the year.  I highly recommend this for lovers of the supernatural, the paranormal, for M/M romance…it really has it all.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I think its missing that wonderful sexy aspect of the last cover.  Not my favorite.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 67 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Hot Corner Press
ASINB0160AL7V4
edition language English

 

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About Pulp Friction 2015

Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Round Two:
Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil
Stud Player (King of Hearts: 2) by Havan Fellow
Up the Ante (Four of Clubs: 2 ) by Parker Williams
Diamond Draw (Ace of Diamonds: 2) by Laura Harner

Round Three:

Dead Button (Jack of Spades #3) by Lee Brazil
Blind Man’s Bluff (King of Hearts #3) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Playground (Four of Clubs #3) by Parker Williams
Diamonds Edge (Ace of Diamonds #3) by Laura Harner

Round Four:

Dead Man’s Hand (Jack of Spades 4) by Lee Brazil
Blind Heart (King of Hearts 4) by Havan Fellows
High Stakes (Four of Clubs 4) by Parker Williams
Diamond Flush (Ace of Diamonds 4) by Laura Harner

A MelanieM Review: Flax’s Pursuit (AURA Series #2) by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Flax's Pursuit coverA murderer haunts the city, turning the unwary to stone. Between hunting this evil and corralling new arrivals, Flax struggles to guard both his life and his heart.

Quinn and Valerian have come through the trials of facing an undead lich queen and the perils of falling in love. Now they work to restore AURA to its previous strength and efficiency while navigating their new life with each other. Fortunately, they’re not in this alone.

Kai Hiltas has taken over as the head of the research department at AURA and has become everyone’s favourite workaholic, everyone except his lover Tenzin, who has had enough of his late nights and broken promises. As Kai tries to salvage his relationship, he finds a teacher for Quinn, who also happens to be one of Valerian’s new officers, Flax Wolfheart, a sexy elf with trouble written all over him.

Flax has motives beyond simply teaching Quinn to control his magic. He’s trying to recover from his own losses and failures, but he has a plan. The two newest elvish crossovers, Ash and Sage, are sizzling hot and might even like him. With them as backup as he tracks a deadly stone mage and figures out how to teach Quinn, Flax sees his chance to impress Val and snag a place by his captain’s side. On the hunt for both danger and redemption, Flax’s pursuit leads him ultimately down trails he never expected.

Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn’s AURA series continue’s its marvelous saga with Flax’s Pursuit.  The world has been made unstable by a magical explosion, causing tears in the fabrics of the universe to heartbreaking effect.  Beings are snatched from their worlds without notice, torn from their worlds, loved ones, family and all things familiar, and sent tumbling into the human one often with the worst repercussions you could imagine.  A mermaid falls through a tear in the fabric, appears over the Mojave desert, despairs and commits suicide, all without ever knowing why.  For others, the death is slower, achieved through addiction or other means of self destruction when the idea of never being able to return home becomes unbearable.

Martinez and Quinn bring not only this new world in a constant state of flux to vivid life but makes it carry with it the aroma of misery, shock, and depression that surrounds those who are unable to adjust to their new circumstances.  Magic has returned everywhere and people now aren’t quite sure how that is going to affect the things or beings around them. I love that these authors have a whole world and any number of mythologies to pull from when gathering ingredients for these stories.  You never know what type of being or universe the authors will pull from when the next “event” occurs to bring another creature into the human world.  It creates a level of  suspense that rolls over from moment to moment throughout the story, a anticipatory narrative note that helps to make each tale sing with surprise, delight and sometimes sorrow.

Val and Quinn return from the first story.  In fact, its Quinn’s wild powers and a need for control that bring Flax into the picture.  Quinn needs a teacher and Kai Hiltas has determined that the elf Flax is the one to teach him, willing or not, mostly not.  Flax is one of those who has not adjusted well to life within human laws or society, nor does he find human Quinn particularly suitable for the majestic Val.  Flax reeks of unhappiness and arrogance, never a good combination but the authors also make us taste the bitterness of life as he sees it.  The stench of the air pollution, or the smell from the garbage in the alleys, all an anathema to a woods elf who remember the purity of the life he can never  return to.

Then two  more elves fall into the city, taken from their lives and world mid battle. The manner in which these two will complicate everyone’s lives is lively, layered, semi-sweet, and ultimately satisfying.  At one point it looked as though the authors were taking it (the m/m/m relationship) in one direction, but didn’t.  But it was the way the story line flowed in that direction, the reasons and emotions behind  the plot twists that swirled, eddied and then moved on, and felt so natural doing so, was just one more narrative gift from Martinez and Quinn.  It was right in very aspect of the story and relationships.  Yes, this is a m/m/m but there are cultural reasons behind it.  It feels natural and in many respects, healing.  And so damn sexy.

Another moving aspect of  this story?  The murders and the culprits behind them.  For every evil, there is an explanation and accompanying pain, a blackness you can watch grey out with understanding by the end of the storyline.  That happens here.  That’s really another of the facets about this story that I love, one that the authors both bring to the story and series.  A sense of depth, an openness of attitude towards all sorts of beings…drows…yetis…trolls…there is something good in every being if you look for it. I wonder what or who  will fall to earth next?

There is a secondary love story between Kai and his yeti lover, in fact there are all manner of relationships or would-be relationships going on here at AURA headquarters.  I can’t wait to see who is up next.  This is one amazing series.  It has heroes of every variety, it has quests both small and large,  personal and for all beings involved.  It has first loves, established partnerships teetering, and lost loves mourned.  It really has it all.  Grab them up and get started today.  This is a series you won’t want to miss.

Cover artist Posh Gosh does a nice job with adding the ears and with the characters, especially as one is so young in age.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 16th 2015 by Totally Bound Publishing
ISBN139781784306229
edition language English

AURA Series

AURA, the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation: it’s a weird job, but somebody’s got to do it.
A magical catastrophe tears the fabric of reality, causing unpredictable holes between worlds through which anything might fall—elves, centaurs, trolls, yeti. The brave officers and employees of AURA struggle daily to help the lost and injured, and contain the irretrievably violent while their research staff scramble to find a way to reverse the effect.
Anything can and does pop through into the human world, sometimes with disastrous and deadly results. It’s a race against time to see if the AURA mages can repair reality and stop the inter-dimensional flood before something crosses over that proves strong enough to destroy the world.