A MelanieM Review : Touch Of A Yellow Sun (Color of Love #2) by V.L. Locey

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Rating : 5 stars out of 5

It’s been a rough couple of years for Marek Hafer, roaming hockey protagonist and pugilistic expert. Ending up in Berger Lake, Pennsylvania, on a financially unstable minor league team might just be the ending his wretched career deserves. On the other side of thirty, Marek knows his time on skates is dwindling. His goal now is to spend a few quiet years playing for the Berger Lake Badgers, knock a few helmets together as needed, and then call it quits before his salty personality gets him booted out of hockey permanently.

After a bloody encounter his first night on the ice, the Badgers coach suggests that Marek find a way to lower his violent tendencies before he’s sent packing yet again. That decree leads Marek to knock on the door of his next-door neighbor, Shey Pierson, the owner of Sun Touch Yoga Studio. Shey ticks every box Marek has with his soft blue eyes, flowing golden hair, and long limber legs. The only problem is that Shey is yin to Marek’s yang.

Can a man famed for throwing punches find serenity in the arms of a man known for his tranquil ways?

I just love this portrait of a deeply troubled man who just happened to be a hockey player, a sport that no matter how much he loved it brought out the worst in him.  From his anger issues to the expectations of the owners and fans, Marek and the manner in which he played “his” sort of game was the only way he could continue his career in hockey, no matter the level.

And when we start into the story, we see Marek at the lowest level of his career, the ECHL.  His actions, anger, and violence that followed him have sent him down the leagues from the NHL to the AHL on down to this his final team and last chance.  As well he knows.  Why Marek is so mired in his anger, so quick with his fists is something that the author slowly lets us in on.  Of course, it all starts with his childhood and a father he idolized lost to violence himself.

But the key to unlocking Marek lies with Shey, the yogi next door who will lead Marek to a path to understanding.  I loved Shey and his studio and of course that cat!  The calm and beauty of Shey seemed to seep right out of the story and my Kindle itself.  How could he not have an affect on Marek.

But it’s Marek and the painfully hurt boy inside that will grip the reader’s heart.  The one that never got over his loss, the one that felt tossed away, and abandoned, that’s the one that we come to feel so deeply for.  He’s so real, so twisted up inside.  And that makes his slow revelations about himself, his history, Shey, and their relationship even more rewarding.

Truly, VL Locey makes us feel the warmth of the sun as it starts to settle over Marek and Shey after a long winter of cold and perhaps deprivation.

This may be one of my favorite books of hers yet.

For me, it has everything.  A memorable plot, two characters I can’t get out of my head, and a ending that I’m still smiling about.

More please.

Cover Design: Designs By Sloan.  I love this cover.   That face is stunning and Marek all the way.

Sales Links:

Universal Buy Link

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | KOBO | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 27th 2019
Edition Language English
Series Colors of Love #2

Lost in Indigo

Touch Of A Yellow Sun

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Fair Isn’t Life by Kaje Harper

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Luke Lafontaine survived the past year by not thinking about the father he lost, the dairy farm he couldn’t save from bankruptcy, or his way of life that vanished with the rap of an auctioneer’s hammer. Cleaning up city folks’ trash at the Minnesota State Fair is just another dead-end job. But at the Fair, surrounded by a celebration of farm life, ambitions he’d given up on and buried deep start to revive. And seeing Mason Bell in the parade—gorgeous, gay, out-of-his-league Mason—stirs other buried dreams.

Mason left his hometown for college in Minneapolis without looking back. Student life is fun, classes are great, gay guys are easy to find, but it’s all a bit superficial. He’s at the State Fair parade route with his band when he realizes a scruffy maintenance worker is Luke, his secret high school crush. Luke should be safely home working on his dad’s farm, not picking up litter. Mason wishes he hadn’t fallen out of touch. He’s an optimist, though, and it’s never too late for second chances. Now he just has to convince Luke.

I wasn’t entirely prepared for portions of this story. And I should have been by the description and the author’s talent for conveying pain and loss.  Still…

I live in a county that used to be almost entirely agricultural, horse farms, sweeping forests, orchards and fields of corn and grain.  Now mostly mini mansions or townhomes/condos as far as you can see depending on where you live in the county.  That you had a choice of a farm on your license plate was highly ironic given how fast the farms were being sold and plowed under.  But what we weren’t seeing was the emotional cost on the other end.  Kaje Harper puts a face to that loss. And it’s devastating.

That Kaje Harper now delivers in heart wrenching detail.  If for no other reason to buy this book, it’s for the portrait of what the loss of a legacy, a family, a person’s foundation does to one young man.  It will hit you in the gut.  And we don’t even go through the worst of it with him.  That’s already been done.  By the time we meet Luke Lafontaine, he’s survived the loss of his dad to cancer, the sale of his family house and farm, including livestock he himself  raised, to auction, and been homeless.  No, now he’s through that, but just barely.

But all through this story, how that has all impacted Luke, in small ways and large, will return.  And it will be shattering.  It will also be a reminder that it’s happening to kids and families all over the nation with  little media coverage.  It will make you weep for Luke, for all those he represents, and for the farmers that  no one seems to be speaking for anymore.  Remember Farm Aid anyone?  Kaje Harper gets this so incredibly, harshly right.  We feel the pain, as we should, of the struggle to  stay afloat in this economy.  And how fragile the bar is on keeping the farm or losing it.

Anyhow.  Combine Luke with a young man named Mason, eyeliner, clarinet, college going Mason (I love Mason) and you have such a wonderful endearing romance and relationship.  The dynamics between them was sweet and supportive. It went both ways  as Mason was used to guys being embarrassed by his love of lip gloss and liner. It felt so real, painfully so as they worked their way towards a future together.

I will remember this book for quite a while.  I’ll remember the trials and the joys that Luke went through, his “Anne” (no spoilers, but ‘sniffles”), and the fact that a Christmas story for me sometimes has a title called Fair Isn’t Life by Kaje Harper.  Really, I just loved this book.  I think you will too.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  I really like this cover, right down to the dairy cows.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 148 pages
Expected publication: November 16th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640808942
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Ghoulish by Kat Bellamy

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Colt Jager never knew what happened to the parents who abandoned him, and he never cared–until he inherited their ghoulish secret.

Raised as a human who had no idea he was anything but a blue-collar construction worker until the night of his 25th birthday, Colt finds it hard to adjust to life in the Kinship, a hidden world woven discreetly into human society.

After a grisly encounter with his true nature, Colt meets a family of human-friendly ghouls who teach him that there’s a way to be inhuman without being inhumane. But things get complicated when he realizes that the “wolf attack” responsible for killing his boyfriend’s brother was actually committed by a ghoul on the hunt.

When an elite family of especially monstrous ghouls called Alphas threatens the man he loves, Colt will have to lie to Jason to keep him safe. Can a predator ever truly be a hero, or will the man he loves become his prey?

What an unexpected treat this story turned out to be!  A first release by Kat Bellamy, Ghoulish revolves around a main character that’s yes, a ghoul in love with a human, not that he’s aware of it right at the very beginning of the story.  Now ghouls are not something I normally find as main characters in my LGBTQIA romances or any romances for that  matter in fiction.

Where do I find them?  In superb anime like Tokyo Ghoul (if you love anime’ and haven’t found this series, it’s a must) or, ok, that’s about it. I can’t think of any outside of anime or Manga. So for Bellamy to make this work (and they did), they needed to create an empathetic character, a group of support characters we can also care about, do a terrific job with their universe building, and weave in a romance and a suspenseful plot.

Check, check, check, check,  and check.  All accomplished.

Not bad for a first work.  In fact, this story had me in it’s grip from the moment Colt discovers his true nature.  From then on, it’s a “hang onto your seat, flip that page, stay riveted to the story” sort of tale.  I became so immersed in Colt’s life, his deadly situations (really no pun intended), even his romance with Jason, that I was unaware of the time flying by.  It was 2 am when I finished and I was heartily sorry to see these characters go.

Several things here.  There is a fairly large cast of characters but not too many that a reader can’t keep track of them.  The world building isn’t complete but as there’s a sequel coming, I won’t fault the author on that, hoping the new novel is going to fill in the blanks as the title (The Kinship) seems to infer. This is a HFN and honestly, the romance sort of takes a backseat, or at least slides a bit to the side, to all the other marvelous narrative work going on here.  It’s a thriller, laden with suspense, but still manages to be full of tons of heartwarming elements and love.  Huh, how about that! And that’s on the ghoul side!

Anyway. Any details would just spoil this so none are given.  Read it!  The characters are great, the writing flows quickly, the scenes are vivid, and the story will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Plus I thought the ending worked  because there’s a sequel coming and hopefully, there’s a younger character I need to spend more time with.  And we still have some mysteries to unfold.  Yes, I can see this as a series to successfully run on past the sequel.  Now I’m anxiously waiting the next book out.  Why not pick this one up and catch up to me!  I highly recommend it!  Ghouls in love are so much fun!

Cover art is eye-catching even if that model is getting to be a bit overworked.

Sales Link:  Amazon | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 314 pages
Published October 22nd 2017
ASINB076P71FF

A MelanieM Review: Wait For Me by Kris Jacen

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Master Sergeant Jeff “Mackey” MacNamara has been waiting for THE ONE for years. First it wasn’t too safe to find a partner and now his schedule is a nightmare with training soldiers and deployments.

Scott Ash has found where he always was meant to be after a brief bout of idealistic do-gooder after college. He loves his job as a child care director, if he could just find someone to love — perfect might cover it.

A chance meeting when Scott is doing a favor for a friend starts them on a journey that could take them to forever, it’s just a matter of waiting.

Sometimes a story, a theme just calls out to an author and together they make a sort of narrative magic.  I believe that happens here with  Wait for Me by Kris Jacen.  With the author’s intimate knowledge as a military spouse and all that implies,  it’s use to provide the framework for the romance of Master Sergeant Jeff “Mackey” MacNamara and Scott Ash becomes a foundation not only for these two main characters but for all of the heptad (a close knit group of soldiers) and a retired MWD (military working dog) as well.

The ties that bind and make the necessary support system for the soldiers and spouses that wait are all a deep part of Wait for Me. It starts as the very first steps of a military romance as Jacen shows here if it’s going to succeed, then through the acceptance and establishing yourself as part of support system for each other, the soldiers and those left behind, dogs included.   All while keeping the romance and love intact, a very scary and sometimes hard thing to do, made so much easier when others have your back.

The characterizations here are layered, believable, and so full of warmth and life that the time spent with them flies by.  I’m not just speaking of Mackey and Scott (although I love them), but all the members of their group, from Mooney to e their spouses, Nibblers (kids), families and sisters, and most of all, a very special retired MWD named Dill, who stole my heart from the get go.

There’s some drama, but mostly it’s about adjustment and life.  I have to admit there were times when I wish the author  had included pictures of what that unit had to have looked like dressed up for the weddings and  yes, I was choked up during the scene when the troops were welcomed back.  I defy anyone not to be grabbing for the tissues or remain dry eyed then.

Waiting for You by Kris Jacen feels so real, so heartwarming, like it’s the story the author was meant to write.  It feels intimate, loving, touching, and wonderful.  I highly recommend it for all lovers of contemporary romance and a love that feels true.

Cover art: Jared Rackler.  I love the  bottom section with the soldier and dog.  That’s perfection.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon (let me know if you find a link)

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 10th 2017 by MLR Press
ISBN139781370266845

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Every now and again, a story comes along that you wish you could give more than the allotted 5 stars.  The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth is one of those novels. A science fiction saga, the first in a series, it’s giant narrative footprint calls to mind  some of my favorite science fiction authors, from Arthur C. Clarke in it’s clear, forward use of science and up to the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, in it’s all inclusive outlook on humanity,  the sweeping scope and incredible imaginative flair of the author makes this story one of the true highlights of my reading year.

Even more amazing after reading the foreword and discovering how close The Stark Divide came to never even being published at all.  What a journey for both author and novel.  That’s also an author’s note not to be missed.

The Stark Divide is separated into three sections starting with Seed, each transitioning with huge steps in human generation (a family), huge growth (an alive IA earth world/ship), and a vision for the human race.  The Earth is an ecological disaster, the humans left barely surviving on the populated livable land masses after the event known as The Burn which killed millions, leaving the rest scrabbling for their existence.  The hope for the human race lies among the stars and the three living world/ generation ships planned for space, of which the 43 Ariadne, or Forever is one.

Coatsworth takes us through the incredible birth of Forever in Seed, the introduction of the people so important to the beginnings of this saga and the foundation of the story.  Everyone and everything in The Stark Divide grabs at your heart, and your mind, engaging both your curiosity, your imagination, and yes,  pulling at our own fears at the potential for ecological disaster going on now.  Beautifully thought out as well as soaring on the author’s on creativity and extrapolation,  don’t be surprised to feel yourself wanting to be a part of this Utopia and then beginning to fear for it when all the ugliness that killed the Earth finds it’s way to Forever.

As I said, this is only the first story in a series.  I can scarcely wait for the next one to be released.  I need to know where the saga goes next.  You will too once this saga has you hooked as thoroughly as it does me.  If you love science fiction,  grab up a copy now and prepare to sink yourself into a world unlike any other.  It’s incredible, thought provoking, highly imaginative, and easily one of the best books of 2017!

Book One of Liminal Sky

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is perfect, a wonderful artistic rendering of parts of Forever.

Sales Links:

DSP Publications (paperback)DSP Publications (eBook) | AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo iBooksGoodreads | 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 284 pages
Expected publication: October 10th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN139781635338331
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Liminal Sky #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Living in Fast Forward (Radio and the Road) by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Acclaimed musician Hollis Lee is a little bit rock, a little bit country, and a lot in need of some TLC to mend the years of hardcore partying that threatens to ruin his career. Hollis’s manager, Charlie, has the perfect solution in mind.

Personal trainer Jeremy is even-keeled and nothing if not professional—which means doing his job, getting Hollis back to his fighting weight, and ignoring his fierce attraction to the rock star.

Turns out Hollis has a harder time resisting Jeremy than giving up sausage biscuits and cheeseburgers, but succumbing to temptation could end both of their careers. While Hollis is on tour, no one questions Jeremy’s presence, and that means plenty of time to sneak away for some steamy fun on the tour bus. But when an accident separates them, how will they sustain the relationship that’s starting to mean so much?

 In Living in Fast Forward, BA Tortuga combines a staple of hers,  the troubled country rocker character with a California personal trainer and comes up with a sweet, heartwarming hurt/comfort story that’s pretty realistic for the times.  I say that because this is a re-release and unfortunately it feels so true for the current political climate than I would have thought even a couple of years ago.

Hollis Lee is a man on a downward spiral.  He’s drinking too much, and if you are what you eat, then he’s turning into a combo of Big Mac and KFC washed down by booze.  And its not helping his image or his music.  His management has had enough and made drastic changes.

B.A. Tortuga does drunk so well, especially country drunk.  I mean, that’s a talent! Because you could so dislike someone like Hollis, stumbling about his touring bus:

He tried to get up, staggered, and fell on the bed with a thud that rattled his brain.

“What? Hollis? You okay?”

“‘M fine.’ He frowned down at his legs, telling them sternly to work. ‘I just needed to get through the night. I mean, what were you thinking? Fashion Forward, for Chrisp wt’s sake. Am I a fashion icon? Fuck, no.”

He was a fucking redneck who happened to look good in jeans and sing good old-fashioned rockabilly.

“I was thinking you could clean up your image,’ Charlie said. ‘After that arrest in Tampa?.”

“Which came to nothing, as I was so not guilty.’ Scratching his belly, Hollis squinted at the ceiling, which was spinning slowly but getting faster. “Damn, Sam.”

“Name’s Charlie’. You’re in big trouble, boy.”

“Uh-huh. Sure. Look, Charlie, I gotta go. I’m gonna go puke.’ He hung up the phone and tossed it off into the ether, needing quiet and either more JD or less… maybe more.

In the end he decided just to stay where he was and sleep.

There should be no spinning involved in that.

But you don’t dislike him. Yes, he’s gotten self indulgent, but he’s also overworked and lacking a support group.  It’s clearly not his manager who’s solely in it for the money.  So you sort of get him, and the deeper you dive into the story and watch the changes that the author builds into him as a result of having a stable relationship and love, well, it makes the larger picture of what happens on the road, the stress…the hiding…even clearer.  Suddenly, a drunken Hollis, misbehavin’ can be a tragedy waiting to happen instead of a rich jerk on the way down.  All a matter of perspective and nobody makes that perspective more intimate that B.A. Tortuga.

Jeremy is even cuter, someone in control, a trainer with a mission who accidentally falls in love with his subject.  We see all the pitfalls, the why’s this shouldn’t happen, especially in country music.  I’m afraid these are even more believable now, even with Chely Wright and Ty Herdon coming out, it’s still a very conservative music arena.  I loved Jeremy, and although it might seem that their connection is a bit instalove, I think all that time on the tour bus and constant togetherness promotes that sort of relationship. So I get that too.

There’s a shocking turn of events and it’s Hollis’s manager, Charlie’s actions and Hollis’s, well, lack of fire towards Charlie, that puzzled me.  Liability alone and a threat of lawyers should have driven his manager to very different action plus Hollis acted far to laid back for my tastes.  That’s the only part that logically didn’t sit right.  All the rest, well, yes, I understood.  Some readers may not have liked it, but I felt the story felt more authentic that way.

So Living in Fast Forward (Radio and the Road) by B.A. Tortuga is a surprisingly current contemporary romance, given the political climate these days.  There is a HEA but with certain limitations.  Does it leave your heart a little bruised?  Perhaps, but I think we need that dose of reality every now and again.   Let’s us remember those that can’t be totally free to hold hands with the ones they love…not yet, not if they want to keep their career.

Someday I hope that won’t be true.  It’s just not today. Not everywhere.  Bless B.A. Tortuga for reminding us that there’s still love waiting to come out in the open and find acceptance where there’s still none to be found in every arena…music, arts, sports…life.

Yes, I absolutely recommend it.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  Love the cover.  It sparkles the way a cowboy star should and that model is perfect!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: October 6th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 1st 2006)
Original Title Living in Fast Forward
ISBN139781635335538
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Radio and the Road

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

To be loved by a dragon is to be treasured.

A hundred years ago, werewolf Alpha Montgomery took a risk driven by desperation—he borrowed money from the ancient dragon Warwick Ehecatl, putting up the pack lands as collateral. Now the debt is due, and dragons don’t forget—or forgive. Warwick demands Montgomery’s son, Avery, and three businesses as compensation. As an Omega, Avery knows he is basically useless to his pack, so he might as well agree. He soon has second thoughts, though. Warwick is fearsome, and he’s free to do as he likes with Avery.

Warwick knows his race’s reputation, and he even admits some of it is deserved. But he’d rather cut off his tail than let his innocent mate’s light go out. It won’t be easy, but buried deep, there’s something between them worth safeguarding.

I can’t resist a dragon’s tale and this new installment in Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Beyond series is another knockout! Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church combines several typical story elements such as a dragon and his hoard, a wolf shifter and mate bonding, a pack omega typical characteristics and serves up a finished romance that sees a wonderful new love story emerge from those familiar beginnings.

Our introduction is to a desperate bargain made by Avery’s father and pack Alpha with Warwick, an ancient Dragon and well-known money lender.  Only he’s someone you go to only as the last resort.  Think Dragon shark!  And Avery’s father has been very irresponsible with the pack holdings and finances.  A deal is done and he has 100 years to pay off his debt.  Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

But the wonderful thing about Church’s characters is that it’s not all black and white.  These beings have dimension, what they may be lacking in personality in one area of their character, Church makes it up in another, so you can maybe not identity with them but emphasize a little with their situation.  It’s also our first introduction to Warwick, a formidable personage, every ounce a scary, powerful dragon.

Skip forward to Avery, someone who develops in character and depth by the paragraph. Avery is living the life of a sheltered Omega, considered to weak, submissive, and a bit of a rare hothouse flower.  He doesn’t really think of himself that way but it’s the way all Omegas are regarded.  It’s tradition.  Until one special night…his birthday and the coming of age of himself and the 100 year loan his father made.

How Church builds that suspense and drama is terrific! And the quick meeting of glances! Powerful.

Warwick’s thousands of years of existence has prepared him for everything except for the possibility of meeting his mate. Church gives us two main characters thrown into total confusion, hopefulness, desire, and more.  The author delivers a wonderful twist on the mate bonding here that I loved, and many secondary characters that I loved spending time with.

I loved how this story ended but absolutely wouldn’t mind it if M.A. Church found a way back into this universe to check up on this couple to see how they are doing.  Who knew you could be so happy for a dragon and a wolf?

I absolutely recommend Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  I like the cover, it has some really nice elements to it, including that model who works for Warwick.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 234 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635338805
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Recent Review: Night Drop (A Pinx Video Mystery #1) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

It’s 1992 and Los Angeles is burning. Noah Valentine, the owner of Pinx Video in Silver Lake, notices the fires have taken their toll on fellow shopkeeper Guy Peterson’s camera shop. After the riots end, he decides to stop by Guy’s to pick up his overdue videos, only to find Guy’s family dividing up his belongings. He died in the camera store fire—or did he? Noah and his charmingly meddlesome downstairs neighbors begin to suspect something else might have happened to Guy Peterson. Something truly sinister.

The first in a new series from Lambda Award-winner Marshall Thornton, Night Drop strikes a lighter tone than the Boystown Mysteries, while bringing Silver Lake of the early 1990s to life.

I remember the Rodney King beating and the riots that followed in Los Angeles.  Here in the Washington, DC metro area we had our own race riots of the 90’s…the Mount Pleasant riots of 1991.  Still both events are in the distant past.  Yet Marshall Thornton brings it vividly to life in his novel Night Drop, the first in his new series Pinx Video Mysteries set in the 1990’s.

Thornton’s main character, Noah Valentine, is the owner of Pinx Video, that relic of the past, consigned to history by new technology.  Ah, VHS tapes, Blockbuster, and late returns!  We meet Noah in his store with his employees wondering if his store will survive the riots currently taking place.  The author seamlessly folds in all the elements and details of the era (old gadgets, movies, topics) into his story without making it a history lesson or info dump.  I lived it and loved the references, noting them yet they never took my attention away from the drama that was Noah’s life and the riots occurring in L.A.  Oh, and the murder too.

Yes, this is a murder mystery and a terrific one wrapped up within the tumultuous emotional times of the 90’s.  Race riots, gay rights, so much more and Thornton captures it all.  Noah starts off as one man who hesitates to get involved because of his own issues and then slowly he inserts himself into the investigation of a murder that no one seems to want solved in a hurry, if at all.  Noah is a man already full of loss and pain, although at first we only are aware of part of the story.  His long term lover, partner at this time in history, has died and they were estranged at the time of his death.  That estrangement has cost Noah his home, their shared friends and more, leaving him with only the video store and his apartment in the Hills.  You are able to emphasize with Noah, seeing a man in stasis, then fall in love with him as he comes back to life the more he investigates.

The characterizations here are superb.  Layered, believable and in some cases, haunting.  These are people who having staying power, whether it’s Noah’s friends in the apartment units around him (love them) or the Detective on the case that Noah makes a connection with.  I was invested in them all emotionally, needing to know what happened to each and everyone.  The verdict is still out on some and I hope to see many of them in the next story.

Then there’s the murder or should I say murders and the wild, twisty case to the revelation that follows!  It was both believable and grounded in the times, yet the suspense kept me riveted to the story!

Yet the tour de force here for me is the overall picture Marshall Thornton paints.  The bigotry and hate of the era, the closeted vs The Castro, the fear vs the bravery, the search for love vs the bittersweetness of the times.  Oh that ending, that was a punch to the heart.  And yet again the author balanced our hopes for Noah against our knowledge of the times, knowing that this is only the first of the series.  We can always strive for the best for Noah can’t we?

I highly recommend Night Drop (A Pinx Video Mystery #1) by Marshall Thornton.  It’s beautifully written, the story is timely given our current political climate, and the characters memorable and deeply moving.  I can’t wait to see where the author takes this series next.

Cover art is amazing, it all has the elements of the 90’s front and center.  I love it.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 201 pages
Published September 15th 2017 by Kenmore Books
Original TitleNight Drop
ISBN139781386704850
SeriesA Pinx Video Mystery #1

Release and Review Tour: The Rhubarb Patch by Deanna Wadsworth (recipe and giveaway)

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Title: The Rhubarb Patch
Series: A Men of Gilead Novel
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Release Date: July 24, 2017




City boy, sci-fi novelist, and recovering pushover Scott Howe doesn’t know what to expect when he inherits his grandmother’s house outside the quaint village of Gilead, Ohio—but it isn’t an enormous bald man in nothing but tighty-whities and orange rubber boots shouting at him to keep his weed wacker away from the rhubarb patch. 

Scott has never met anyone like Phineas Robertson: homesteader, recluse… Republican. A tender—if unlikely—friendship grows over the summer while Phin and his schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, teach Scott about life in the country and the grandmother he never knew. Opposites attract, but widower Phin worries his secret will send Scott running faster than his politics, and Phin isn’t convinced he deserves a second chance at romance.
Scott is convinced—rural life, and his one-of-a-kind, older neighbor, is the future he wants. Before he can settle in, his mother drops a bombshell that strains their already tenuous relationship, and a cousin who believes he is the rightful heir to the property puts Scott in danger. It’ll take a lot of compromises, and even dodging a few bullets before they’re out of the weeds, but nurturing something as special as true love always takes hard work.

 

Grandma Helen’s Rhubarb Crumble

 

Preheat oven to 350

For crust:
1 1/2 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour 
1 cup shortening (I use coconut oil)

1/4 teaspoon baking sodaCombine until crumbly then pat half of mixture into 13×9 pan

For filling:
5 cups rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Combine in a pan and cook until clear then add 1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour over crust and sprinkle the other half of the crumbly crust on top.
Bake 20 to 25 min



 

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and is the current President 2017 for Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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A MelanieM Review: The Rhubarb Patch (Men of Gilead #1) by Deanna Wadsworth

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

City boy, sci-fi novelist, and recovering pushover Scott Howe doesn’t know what to expect when he inherits his grandmother’s house outside the quaint village of Gilead, Ohio—but it isn’t an enormous bald man in nothing but tighty-whities and orange rubber boots shouting at him to keep his weed whacker away from the rhubarb patch.

Scott has never met anyone like Phineas Robertson: homesteader, recluse… Republican. A tender—if unlikely—friendship grows over the summer while Phin and his schnauzer, Sister Mary Katherine, teach Scott about life in the country and the grandmother he never knew. Opposites attract, but widower Phin worries his secret will send Scott running faster than his politics, and Phin isn’t convinced he deserves a second chance at romance.

Scott is convinced—rural life, and his one-of-a-kind, older neighbor is the future he wants. Before he can settle in, his mother drops a bombshell that strains their already tenuous relationship, and a cousin who believes he is the rightful heir to the property puts Scott in danger. It’ll take a lot of compromises, and even dodging a few bullets before they’re out of the weeds, but nurturing something as special as true love always takes hard work.

I loved The Rhubarb Patch (Men of Gilead #1) by Deanna Wadsworth.  As a fan of the ‘slow burn’ and a narrative paced according to the storyline, this book sang to me like a katydid on a summer country night.  It was sweet, realistic, heartwarming, and loving.  Wadsworth has given us a beautifully written story full of characters with heart, dealing with loss, homophobia, warring relatives, and a mother whose maternal abilities leave much to be desired.  And all the people here feel true and layered, whether we like them or not, two legged or four legged.

And it all starts with a rhubarb patch.

Prepare to fall in love with the country here and the vegetables of the garden along with Scott as Phin educates his “City Mouse” in his newly acquired home and gardens.  As the men tentatively learn about each other (also as Scott learns about the grandmother he never knew, who was adored by Phin and the people of Gilead) and Phin starts to open up to Scott about his past and his loss, the reader is pulled into the growing intimacy of their shared lives and relationship and country living.  We watch and listen as Scott’s affection, then love for this small house/farm and neighbor develops and deepens.  And the same for Phin.  We laugh and are charmed by Sister Mary Katherine, Phin’s aging schnauzer.  And yes, made more than a little crazed by Scott’s dysfunctional mother, her homophobic boyfriend and attitudes towards Scott’s life.  But always the author keeps us actively engaged in the relationships, the town, and especially in Phin and Scott’s relationship as the seasons change and the gardens along with it.

There are several elements here that Wadsworth handles beautifully.  As they aren’t mentioned in the blurb, I won’t reveal them here.  But the manner in which it is revealed, handled as a part of their lives and connected to another character is smooth, intelligent, and believable.

When I finished the story, I was happy knowing I wasn’t done with the town of Gilead, this couple and the person who most likely will be getting their romance next.  You see I’d fallen just as deeply in love with them all as Scott had and now I  can’t wait for my next visit to come around.  I want to check in on them, see how everyone is doing and see how the next romance will develop…slowly….will be my guess.  I highly recommend you pick up this book and get reading before the next one comes out.

Cover Artist: Anne Cain.  What a great cover.  From the men, to the patch to   Sister Mary Katherine over in the corner waiting to steal some vegetables.  It’s perfect!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 284 pages
Published July 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635336627
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesMen of Gilead #1 settingOhio (United States