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

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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

A MelanieM Review: The Werecat Trilogy by Andrew J. Peters

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The first three installments of the Werecat series: The Rearing, The Glaring, and The Fugitive, in one eBook or paperback.

Twenty-two-year-old Jacks is on a mission to drown his past in alcohol when he meets the handsome drifter Benoit on a lost weekend in Montréal. It’s lust and possibly something more. Jacks never suspects that a drunken hook-up will plunge him into the hidden, violent world of feline shifters.

Benoit traps him in an arcane ritual to be joined as mates, from which Jacks emerges with fantastical abilities and a connection to Native traditions that were buried by his family. But his new existence pits his human instincts against his wild animal nature. When Jacks meets the young medical student Farzan, who wants to be with Jacks no matter what or who he is, Benoit’s feline jealousy rages like an inferno.

Jacks must figure out how to survive with his dual nature and a boyfriend who will kill any threat to their relationship. When a secret society called The Glaring shows up with a plan to exterminate humankind, Jacks will have to work quickly to gain command of Benoit’s magic before the world shatters into a war of man against beast.

WereCat: The Trilogy is the first collection of stories I’ve read by Andrew J. Peters and I’m impressed by his writing.  Peters did a splendid job of building a mythology for his werecats, creating a universe complete with a division within the werecat community that’s building towards all out war, and yet he doesn’t miss out on the smaller details needed to pull you back down into the immediate lives of his main characters and the drama/mating that is derailing all of their lives.

Peters has also departed from most of the other shifter stories here in that this is not one of those meet/mate/instant love stories.  In fact, it’s as far from one of those as you can get.  Without giving too much away, the romance here is not where you will be expecting it.  What Peters does deliver is concise and realistic portraits of werecats/beings acting exactly how you would expect them to act under varying circumstances.  As individuals with their own powerful emotions,  with the bodies of huge cats to use as weapons or assert control if they want to or need to.  As you watch the dynamics shift between Benoit and Jacks, the stress and tension Peters creates becomes so huge that the reader is almost afraid to turn the page.

Farzan, the human medical student is another wonderful character.  Fragile according to werecat standards, Farzan has strengths that allow the reader to connect with him ways that maybe aren’t there with the other characters.  He is surrounded by family that loves him and has a further connection to the human race that’s missing from the werecats, an important element in the larger picture.

Each story moves the reader through an  ever increasing major storyline of global warfare against humanity by a splinter werecat group called The Glaring and Jacks attempts to stop it.  The Fugitive, the last story in the trio, sees Jacks on the run and ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. Although it brings some of the storylines to a completion, the main one is still ongoing, waiting to be fulfilled in Werecat: The Sim Ru Prophecy  which is coming up next.  That’s where I’m headed.  I can’t wait to see what I find.

Until then, if you love shifters, want a bit of a different take on the usual mating ritual, and don’t mind a departure from the romance path  (although there is one),  pick up Werecat: The Trilogy.  I highly recommend them all.  Great stories!

Cover is a dramatic and,imo, beautiful representation of Benoit in both his human and panther forms.  I love it.  The only thing is Benoit’s eyes never changed in both forms.

Purchase at:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 250 pages
Published November 1st 2015 by Vagabondage Romance (first published November 15th 2014)
ASINB017HTCRPM
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWerecat #1-3

A finalist in The Romance Reviews’ 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards, Action-Adventure category

A MelanieM Review: The Monet Murders (The Art of Murder #2) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

Nothing I love better than diving back into a Josh Lanyon murder romance.  I love the tight writing, the skillfully constructed mysteries and the complex  relationships between the main characters.  It’s never, never an easy romance.  The obstacles between the men are often huge, sometimes or frequently of their own making, and by the end of the story, it can still be a question mark as to if they are together or will stay that way.  On top of dealing with their own issues and that of their personal dynamics, they have their cases and killers to deal with.  It’s just outstanding!

When The Monet Murders story picks up, the conflicted relationship of Jason West and Sam Kennedy, two FBI agents is again in an uncertain stage.  It doesn’t help that FBI Special Agent Jason West’s Art Crimes Unit is in Los Angeles and Sam Kennedy is in Quantico, VA in the Behavioral Analysis Unit as their Chief.  What it takes to bring them together again, at least physically is a murder or three, all starting with a phone call from Sam.

It kicks off with Jason at the special dedication gala of a museum wing for his grandfather.  We get another peek into the prestigious family background and makeup that belongs to Jason West.  More of that will be filled in later as the story progresses.  It’s a call to action and one that Jason eagerly answers as it means that he will be seeing Sam once more.

Lanyon gives us a crime scene under the Santa Monica pier that starts us off on the  Monet Murders and the reunion of Jason and Sam.  Needless to say nothing about that crime scene bodes well for the couple or for the case.  The LAPD called them in but some of the local cops aren’t happy about having the FBI there, it seems to tie in with another case Jason and  Sam are already working, but then again maybe not.  Muddied clues abound as does the relationship (or non relationship) between Jason and Sam.  The stress and tension is vivid, pouring off the page, a testament to the author’s ability to create just the perfect atmosphere for this scene and meeting.

A fake Monet, so poorly painted as  to be garish, ties more murders together.  As the investigation continues and Jason’s case opens up further leads to involve older crimes, I was just completely hooked.  I love the art elements here, and the mysteries (and side stories) were completely fascinating.  Woven in between the various investigations and detective work, is the romance and shaky relationship between Sam and Jason.  As before, the sex scenes between these two are combustible, making it even harder each time Sam pulls away.  How I love these two even as I want to throttle Sam.

There’s a scary island full of graveyards, some terrific action/suspense scenes to have you quaking as you read and enough plot twists and turns to keep the mystery lover satisfied.  The romance too had an ending that I just loved, although this is Josh Lanyon and her characters so you know I want to add a for now here.

The Monet Murders (The Art of Murder #2) by Josh Lanyon is a splendiferous book.  It left this reader satisfied on so many levels, the mystery lover adored the murder mysteries and how the case was solved, the romance lover can’t get enough of this couple, their convoluted relationship and their path to HEA or whatever they are going to end up with.  The Art of Murder series is ranking high on my all time favorites with just two stories so far so I can’t wait to see what book three brings.  I highly recommend them.

Cover by Johanna Ollila.  I like the cover with Monet’s Lilies painting on t-shirt.  Nice.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 311 pages
Published May 25th 2017 by JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
ASINB01MYC6ZOZ
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Art of Murder :

A MelanieM Release Week Review: The Great North (A Legendary Love Book 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

 

BOOK 1 in MCB’s House Line “A Legendary Love.”

Dwyn is a young man in the small, isolated town of Manicouga, son of the Minstor, who is betrothed to marry Kessa in a few weeks’ time.

Mael is shepherding the remains of his own village from the north, chased out by a terrible storm that destroyed Land’s End.

Both are trying to find their way in a post-apocalyptic world. When the two meet, their love and attraction may change the course of history.

In The Great North author J. Scott Coatsworth combines mythology, science fiction and romance and comes up with something quite wonderful.   Coatsworth, in an almost stunningly compact story for something of this scope,  provides us with detailed, and vivid world building.  With scenes past, present and future spread here in the story, we get glimpses into this post-apocalyptic world at differing stages.  From the use of small details throughout, we get accurate idea or pictures of where the characters are, filling things in with our own imaginations…none of it pretty of what might have happened to our world.

I really loved the characters down to their descriptions. It showed how quickly civilization had broken down so that even physical characteristics once again had become isolated into “islands” as had earlier gene types. The types of global disaster also drove the leftover population into self isolation with minimum communication with each other.  Coatsworth also worked the rationale for Dwyn village’s religion rejection of “same sex love” into a cautionary tale of birth rates and survival.  So many elements here that are woven into the story that capture the reader’s attention and imagination.

The romance between Mael and Dwyn is caught up is something huge, the mythology building here is as beautifully done as it the scientific groundwork the author laid down.  In fact the imagery and beauty of the cold is striking as it is fearsome, easy to see it both cutting and awe inspiring.  Just as it should be. I don’t really want to go into further details here other than I wish there was more to this part of the story.  However, this is only the beginning of the series.  I hope to find out more about what’s coming, what’s in store of the people there.

I love The Great North.  This whole series holds great promise.  I can’t wait to see where it goes.  But for now I leave you with how it all starts, a story I highly recommend.

“We celebrate Dwyn’s Day as a testament to true love and sacrifice. It’s a remembrance of the way things were and the way they’ve come to be. In the end, let it be a reminder that every one of us has the power to change the course of events through love.”

—Dillon Cooper, New Gods and Monsters, Twenty years After Dwyn

Cover Artist: Freddy MacKay does a good job with the character.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Books | Barnes & Noble |  Amazon |  Kobo | iBooks |  Goodreads 

Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 119 pages
Published June 14th 2017 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
ASIN B07172TL6H

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

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Length: 63,000 words
 
 
 
Blurb

 

Is this the makeover of a lifetime?


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


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


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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

“Sometimes I work in the Sea Bird restaurant.”

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

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

“That has nothing to do with anything.”

“What?”

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

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

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

“You’re a fisherman?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When I…? Tomorrow…? Boat?”

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

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

“One what?”

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

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

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

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

“You said the weather should be fine….”

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

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

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

Author Bio


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


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


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