A MelanieM Review: The Calling by MD Neu

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Being a nobody isn’t Duncan Alexander’s life goal, but it’s worked for him. He has a nondescript job, a few good friends, and overall he’s content. That’s until one fateful trip to San Jose, California, where he is “Called” to meet the mysterious Juliet de Exter. Juliet is a beautiful, wealthy, powerful Immortal who is undertaking The Calling—a search for a human to join her world of Immortals. Inexplicably, Duncan’s calling is more dangerous than any of the Immortals, even Juliet, ever thought it would be.

There is more to this nobody, this only child of long-deceased parents, than anyone thought. When Duncan experiences uncontrollable dreams of people he doesn’t know and places he hasn’t been, Juliet and the other Immortals worry. Soon, his visions point to a coven of long-dead witches. The dreams also lead Duncan to his one true love. How will Duncan navigate a forbidden romance with an outcast Immortal? How will he and the others keep the balance between the Light and Dark, survive vicious attacks, and keep the humans from learning who they truly are? More importantly, who is this implacable foe Duncan keeps seeing in his dreams?

I first found M.D. Neu through his fantastic Halloween horror tale The Reunion.  That was an amazing well written short story that haunted me long after I  finished it.  So when I saw The Calling I knew even without reading the blurb it was a novel I needed to read based on the author alone.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Duncan Alexander seems to be nobody special until he’s ‘called’ to San Jose to meet Juliet de Exter and  change his life forever. And from that moment on, into a lush and richly woven story , Duncan and the readers jump into a world that smells of  vanilla and roses, blood and mystery, pain and love. We do so with energy and some trepidation.  

I love how  M.D. Neu builds not only his characters, allowing us to see them grow, adding on their history while letting us see the true depths to their inner qualities, their honor, courage, steadfastness, loyalty, intelligence and more as the story quickens. But also adding to his world building and mythology.  It’s as though he’s constantly assembling his world view throughout the tale. And that makes The Calling even more intricate and magical because the beginning narrative structure and universe is so beguiling to begin with.

It starts with the Immortals, now divided into two factions of LIght and Dark, but not necessarily as you would imagine of Good and Evil.  No, instead it’s more of order and chaos.  Rules versus a lack of rules but then again not always.  So many shadows here between the two factions.  The Immortals are of course vampires but even the vampires here don’t follow some of the expected “vampire norms”.  Neu has created his own vampire mythology and its as complicated and bound in ritual as you would imagine given the nature of Duncan’s calling.

Nor are the vampires the only beings with magic.  There are witches as well, an enemy with a need for revenge.

And there is romance as well.  Although to be honest.  The romance does feel at times like a lesser storyline than the one about the mystery of Duncan’s importance and the war that’s being waged all around them.

But what kept me absolutely glued to this story was the incredible plot, the cast of characters (oh how I love Victor), the suspense and the action.  I couldn’t put this book down.  I was in agony along with all of them, through every battle, through every loss, and then at that ending!  Well, I can see that Neu is setting us up for a series and I couldn’t be more pleased.

For those that like to be warned about het sex, yes, there is some.  It comes as part of the ritual turning.  Yes, Duncan is gay but it’s as thought it’s just a part of who he is and not central to this story.   And yes, this is a M/M romance but I still don’t feel that’s the main focus here either.  The Calling is a powerfully engaging suspenseful supernatural story.    One I highly recommend along with its author who has now become a must read author for me.  Check out The Reunion and The Calling.  And I think you’ll agree.

Cover art: Natasha Snow is  haunting and lovely.  Just like the book.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published January 1st 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947904798
Edition LanguageEnglish

 

 

Amy Lane on The Holiday Crafter’s Blues, and her release Regret Me Not (author guest blog and excerpt)

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Regret Me Not by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art: Reese Dante

Buy Links:Dreamspinner PressAmazon  | Kobo iBooks  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Amy Lane here talking about the holiday crafter’s blue and her new release Regret Me Not.  Welcome, Amy!

✒︎

The Holiday Crafter’s Blues

By Amy Lane

One of my first blogging idols was The Yarn Harlot, and she was one of the first people I know who put a name to this.

She called it IT.

As in, IT starts in September, if you’re lucky. For some people, the chosen few, IT starts in June.

Took me a few blogs to figure out what she was talking about, but when I did… oh, it hit me hard.

I’ve been a part of IT.

IT of course is the misbegotten idea that, hey! I can craft! I can knit/crochet/cross-stitch/quilt/sew! I shall make something for EVERY family member for EVERY holiday, and I will be known as the knitting/crocheting/crafting cousin/aunt/mother and nobody will ever be able to doubt my place in the holidays again!

Before any of you get any ideas about this, IT can only end in tears.

And terrible, terrible guilt on all sides.

I used to try to craft toys/clothes/whathaveyou for the kids, as well as knit or crochet something for all the members of my family every year. I would start in August, work feverishly for months, and still end up, shotgunning Supernatural for three nights straight while living on coffee and Christmas cookies so I could sustain the holiday pace needed to frolic with four children through on until blissful, peaceful December 26th.

The day we traditionally sit in the rubble of wrapping paper, play with our gifts and sleep like the dead.

One Christmas, I was really into it. I made the little kids these ADORABLE mittens, and my aunts and mom all got these really cool “Impossible yarn” wraps (easiest thing in the world involving Lion Brand Homespun and Dead Muppet of Your Choice—people loved them!) and there were hats and fingerless mitts in between.

I was into it, yes, but late. So late. So late that when Mate took three of the four kids into my aunt’s house to start the revels, I opted to finish a shawl in the minivan while ZoomBoy finished his nap. (It was a rule back then—let sleeping ZoomBoys lie. In fact, we have lots and lots of pictures on the blog of that kid asleep while dangling upside down from six different furniture items, because that’s just where he decided to nap.)

But oh, it would be worth it, I thought. Because I had done my filial duty, and I had showered all of my relatives with love and they would love me and they would appreciate me and they would…

Forget my gift at the gift exchange?

Well, apparently grandma had drawn my name, and she was right at that place where she went from Machiavellian manipulator of family (as are all good Italian grandmothers) to slightly confused elderly woman—and we were not ready for that. Grandma always dealt with her Christmas duties using grace and aplomb.

Except this time when she forgot her exchange gift, and I was the exhausted, addled recipient.

Who, embarrassingly enough couldn’t stop crying.

Yes, I know. It was stupid. I still maintain I didn’t do all that work for a great gift back—it’s not what I was thinking as I was working on stuff, and it’s not how I give gifts now. (Okay—when I was younger, yes, but sometime around the third kid I finally grew the hell up.)

But something about, oh, I don’t know, not sleeping for several weeks and stressing out over the deadline and, you know, four kids, full time job, writing…

Just caught up to me. I spent about an hour feeling like an idiot and trying to explain to everyone that I really wasn’t that fragile a snowflake while falling apart. My aunt ran and grabbed one of her presents—a very pretty green scarf that I still have today—and gave it to me, hoping I would calm down.

I did eventually—and I mean “calm down” in the broadest sense of the phrase. I stopped trying to make everybody all the things—in fact, I started making myself some as well. And I stopped trying to make them by a deadline. Now I just make them and send them to the recipient when they are done. Because a gift from the heart doesn’t have a deadline and it doesn’t have an obligation attached and it doesn’t have expectation of reciprocation.

It’s one of the crafter’s most important lessons.

It’s one of the gift giver’s most important lessons.

And it’s what I wanted for my boys, Pierce and Hal. That they give gifts from the heart. That what they say they mean. And that, if they love each other, their gifts don’t come from obligation, they come from wanting to see the other person happy, the end.

It’s one of my favorite holiday feelings – and it’s a lot harder to achieve than the perfect pair of mittens. 

Blurb

Pierce Atwater used to think he was a knight in shining armor, but then his life fell to crap. Now he has no job, no wife, no life—and is so full of self-pity he can’t even be decent to the one family member he’s still speaking to. He heads for Florida, where he’s got a month to pull his head out of his ass before he ruins his little sister’s Christmas.

Harold Justice Lombard the Fifth is at his own crossroads—he can keep being Hal, massage therapist in training, flamboyant and irrepressible to the bones, or he can let his parents rule his life. Hal takes one look at Pierce and decides they’re fellow unicorns out to make the world a better place. Pierce can’t reject Hal’s overtures of friendship, in spite of his misgivings about being too old and too pissed off to make a good friend.

As they experience everything from existential Looney Tunes to eternal trips to Target, Pierce becomes more dependent on Hal’s optimism to get him through the day. When Hal starts getting him through the nights too, Pierce must look inside for the knight he used to be—before Christmas becomes a doomsday deadline of heartbreak instead of a celebration of love.

Excerpt

The Morning After….

 

THE EVER-PRESENT shush of the sea echoed in his ears. Even before he was awake, Pierce Atwater knew that sound had haunted him in his dreams.

He yawned and stretched, the familiar aches of healing injuries pulling at his skin and muscles and the unfamiliar ache in his backside waking him up fully. Oh, hey. It had been a while since that happened.

With a heave, Pierce sat up entirely, getting his bearings. The beach house he’d lived in since Thanksgiving glowed as bright and gold as he remembered—too beautiful. Almost pristine.

His body, on the other hand—that felt well-used.

He turned and looked at the bed he’d just vacated, noting that it was rumpled and sex stained; lovemaking and sweat permeated the room.

Oh wow. Oh damn. What had he done?

A piece of paper—the ripped-off corner of a brown grocery bag—caught his attention on the other pillow of the king-sized bed.

 

Please don’t leave without saying goodbye—

 

—H

 

Pierce stared at the note, only marginally prepared for the giant ache that bloomed in his chest.

Aw, Hal—you deserve so very much more.

He looked around the room again, eyes falling on the clock radio. He was supposed to leave in an hour—he’d told his sister specifically that he’d be in Orlando by lunch so he could bake cookies with her kids.

He looked at the note again and tried hard to breathe.

 

 

 

The Month Before

 

“SO YOU have the Lyft app, right?”

“Yeah, Sasha—don’t worry about me, okay?” Pierce regarded his younger sister fondly. She was made to be a mother—even if she came into being one a little young.

Sasha bit her lip, trying not to argue. She’d been such a sweet kid growing up—never saying boo to either of their rather domineering parents. She’d gotten pregnant right out of high school, and even though Marshall had stepped up and married her and they’d both managed to get their degrees, their parents… well, they’d never let Sasha live down what a disappointment she’d been. Or—their words—what a slut either.

Pierce had hated them long before Sasha got pregnant, but the way they’d tried to destroy her for a simple human failing had sort of sealed the deal.

But parenthood had made Sasha—and Marshall—a great deal stronger than they’d been as feckless teenagers, and while Sasha wouldn’t argue with her beloved older brother, she would discuss things she disagreed with.

“Pierce, you almost died,” she said quietly, her thin face suddenly lost in the pallor of anxiety and the cloud of fine dark hair she could never keep back in a ponytail. “I mean… I refuse to see Mom and Dad over the holidays because they’re just… just….”

“Awful,” he supplied with feeling. Yeah. He’d resolved not to put up with awful anymore.

“Toxic,” she agreed, leaning back against her aging SUV. Darius and Abigail were sleeping in the back seat after playing out in the surf under Pierce’s supervision while Marshall and Sasha moved Pierce into the condo. Pierce had worried—he couldn’t move very well without the cane these days, and what did he know about kids and water?

But mostly what they’d wanted to do was run away from the waves and collect shells, and the one time Abigail had been knocked on her ass into the surf, Pierce had bent down and picked her up by the hand before the pain even registered.

The move had hurt—but it had given him some hope. His doctors kept assuring him that he could get most of his mobility back if he kept active and remembered his aqua regimen. Picking Abigail up and reassuring her that Uncle Pierce wouldn’t let her drown gave him some confidence that his body might someday be back up to par. And the condo had a pool, which was why he’d taken his best friend Derrick’s offer to let him use it over the winter months while Pierce got his life together. Pierce was definitely in a position to follow his doctor’s advice.

So now, looking at his sister and thinking about how much self-assurance she’d had to grow to push a little into Pierce’s state of mind, he couldn’t be mad at her.

And he had to be honest.

“I’ll be grumpy and pissed off and bitter,” he said, letting his mouth twist into a scowl of disdain for the land of the living. He’d been fighting it off since Sasha picked him up at the airport. “It’s a good thing you made me get the car app, because seriously, I may have let myself starve to death. As it is, the groceries are going to keep me going for a good long time.”

Sasha’s eyes grew big and bright, and he took her hand and squeezed.

“Don’t worry, sweetie. None of it is your fault. You would have let me stay at your place forever, and I was getting in your way. This is good. I’ll hang out here, find a little peace, and when I go back to Orlando, I’ll be up for getting my own apartment and getting out of your hair, okay?”

“I’d never kick you out, Pierce,” she said miserably. “You know that.” She wiped the back of her hand across her big brown eyes. “You just… you got out of the hospital and—”

“And I was an awful fucking bastard,” he said with feeling. Oh God. The defining moment for calling up Derrick to take him up on his offer was when he’d heard his father’s words coming out of his mouth, telling his sister she was useless because she couldn’t help him off the couch without pain. “Sasha, you deserve better than me. You deserve better, period. I’m not going to hang around you and get in your way again until I’m decent company for human beings, okay?”

Sasha shook her head, still crying. “You were in pain,” she whispered. “And you were sorry right after. And you’ve done so much for me, Pierce. I can forgive you for being mean once when you did so much for me….”

He remembered the night she’d shown up at his apartment, in tears, practically hysterical, because she’d told the parents about an impending Darius and had been read the riot act about what a fuckup she was.

He’d taken her in—let her stay with him for a couple of months until she and Marshall scraped up enough money for rent and a car. She’d gotten a job, and Pierce had paid her tuition as she made her way through school. She had a career now—one she could work from home as a developmental editor of a small press. Marshall had his degree in software engineering, and together they made a good living—good enough to afford a guest bedroom and to put Pierce up for a month after the accident.

Pierce squeezed her hand now. “You listen to me,” he said gruffly. “You don’t owe me a thing. You’re the only family I want to see—pretty much ever. So just let me work shit out in my own head, and I’ll come back for Christmas a whole new man, okay?”

“I like the one you are right now!” she said staunchly, and then she threw herself in his arms and held on tight. “Love you, big brother,” she whispered, and Marshall stood behind her, guiding her away.

“Love you too,” he said belatedly, and Marshall turned and shook his hand firmly.

“Come back when you promised, okay?” Marshall was just as slight as Sasha—two small, mild-mannered people getting along in a bright, brash world. Pierce had always fancied himself their champion knight—he couldn’t be that as he was.

He had to make himself better.

“Christmas Eve,” Pierce vowed. “Don’t worry, Marshall. Nobody likes being alone on Christmas.”

Marshall shrugged. “We wouldn’t be alone, Pierce. We just don’t want you to be.”

With that, the guy Pierce and Sasha’s parents had driven off their property with a baseball bat guided a disconsolate Sasha into the old vehicle and piloted it away.

As soon as they’d left the parking lot, Pierce allowed his shoulders to sag and dragged his sorry ass to the back door of the condo.

He crawled into bed and stayed there until he absolutely had to get up and pee the next morning.

 

 

STAYING IN bed for sixteen hours had consequences—he almost didn’t make it to the bathroom, he was so sore. After he’d taken care of business and washed down a granola bar, he realized he was going to have to be serious about that pool thing, or he really could end up curling into a ball and dying in a beach condo in Florida.

For a moment he contemplated it—he’d always been the kind of guy to consider all the angles—but eventually he decided he wouldn’t go quickly enough and managed a pair of board shorts and a T-shirt. As he walked through the tiled hall of the condo, he realized the tile was going to destroy his body almost as quickly as the inactivity, and made a mental note to buy some rubber mats at the very least, so he’d have some padding for his joints. Derrick had said to make himself at home—ergonomic home decorating was a go!

Just as soon as he got into the… ahhh… pool.

Heated, of course, and a perfect counterpoint to a cool day in the high fifties/low sixties. He’d set his phone on a lounge chair, playing something disgustingly upbeat and perky, and went about doing the exercises he and his physical therapist had worked on.

Actual physical motor activity really did have magical properties—it must have. He was working up a head of steam, the resistance and buoyancy of the water supporting his body as he used active stretching techniques, when a voice cut into his workout Zen.

“If you don’t straighten your back, you’ll be in a world of hurt!”

Crap. Whoever that was, he was right.

Pierce adjusted his form and then looked over his right shoulder, from whence the voice—deep and sharp and young—had issued.

“Thanks,” he said briefly, taking in the sprawled form of what looked to be a teenager wearing board shorts, a leopard-print bathrobe, and giant aviator sunglasses, lounging in one of the chaises. Dark hair, faintly sun streaked, was cut almost Boy Scout short around an adorable frat boy face. His hands were sort of a mess, loosely wrapped in gauze, but other than that, he was as untouched as a virgin’s dreams.

“Dude, what in the hell are you listening to? This shit.” The boy shuddered. “I’m saying. I bet you could work up a sweat if you had decent music.”

“It’s a mix,” Pierce said weakly, feeling old and slow. “I just hit an easy button, you kn—”

“I’ll get you a better sound,” the kid said, picking up the phone. “What’s your password?”

Pierce gave it to him and then stopped dead in the water and almost drowned. He was in the deep end, and he had to work to stay afloat and—

“Don’t spaz,” the kid said on a note of deep disgust. “My phone’s in the condo, and I could give a shit about your passwords. Jesus, if I was a hacker genius, I’d be someplace warm, you think?”

Pierce took a deep breath, and suddenly Katy Perry came blaring out of his phone. Well, okay, so everybody had heard this song; it did make him want to work harder. Pierce was calling it a win.

“Thanks,” he said again, panting now because he was moving faster.

The kid shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. You gonna be here tomorrow?”

“Yeah, but—”

“Same time?”

“Yeah.” ’Cause why not. Nothing better to do, right? No job, no wife, no life?

“Good. I’ll see you here with better music. Now stop doing that water walk thing and do a mountain climber—come on—I know you can.”

Pierce glared at him—and switched the move.

“There you go. Now follow my pace. You can go faster.” The kid started clapping, and Pierce struggled to keep up.

“I can’t… do… that…,” he gasped. He expected attitude back, because the kid had given him nothing but, and he was surprised when the clapping slowed.

“Sorry. You just look younger than this pace.”

Pierce had his back to the kid, but he had the sensation of a thorough visual once-over. He adjusted to the new pace and found his wind again. “Car accident,” he managed, trying not to be offended.

“Aw… aw hell. I’m sorry. I’m being an ass. I should just leave you to your workout.”

“No,” Pierce called out, stopping to tread water and cool down enough to talk. “Sorry—just… I was getting a workout. I suck doing this alone.” He kept his arms and legs moving and found the kid on the side of the pool again—he’d moved from where Pierce had first spotted him to stand right in front of the line Pierce was using to go back and forth.

“Yeah, well, being alone sort of sucks on all fronts,” the kid said philosophically. “I’ll try not to be an ass if you try to do a hard workout, how’s that?”

Pierce found himself nodding, even though he’d only come out to the pool out of what he deemed necessity. “Deal,” he panted.

“Okay, now back to mountain climbers. I’ll set the pace, and if it’s too fast, cry uncle.”

“Groovy,” Pierce breathed, positioning himself to go. “Now shoot.”

The kid put him through a decently difficult workout, adjusting for the things Pierce couldn’t do yet and pushing him hard in the stuff he could. After forty-five minutes, Pierce was starting to cramp up, though, and the kid had him stretch out.

Good stuff, really—the blue freedom of the water, the structure of the workout, and the congeniality of dealing with another human being without bitterness or backstory served as sort of a purge—some of the self-pity Pierce had wallowed in for the past sixteen hours was rinsed away.

But not all of it.

He was getting out of the pool when the damage in his calf and thigh screamed protest, and he groaned and grabbed on to the rail. The kid was right there, though, stepping into the water regardless of his pricey flip-flops and the hem of his leopard-print bathrobe.

“Uh-oh—overdid it. C’mon, let me help you to the hot tub. I’ll give you a rubdown, okay?”

“No,” Pierce grunted, suddenly aware of this kid. Lean and narrow but defined practically by muscle group, his body was a work of art, and Pierce didn’t even know if he was of age. And even if he was of age, he was too damned young for Pierce.

“No hot tub?” the kid asked sharply. “Or no gay guy touching you?”

Pierce’s face heated. “No hot teenager touching me?” he mumbled, limping toward the steamy goodness of the little spa and trying not to lean too much into the kid’s strong arms.

The youngster’s throaty chuckle didn’t reassure him in the least. “I’m twenty-three, old man, so cool your jets. Besides, I’m”—his voice dropped sadly, and the suddenly vulnerable look on his frat boy face made him look even younger—“well, I’d like to become a massage therapist, but I’ve only got half the coursework and hours done. Seriously, though, I’m halfway a professional, and I’m pretty good, so maybe let me work out the cramp in your leg?” He smiled winningly and used his free hand to lift his shades so he could bat a pair of admittedly limpid and arresting amber-brown eyes. “After all, I did work you over pretty hard.”

Pierce rolled his eyes at the double entendre, but as he reached for the rail of the hot tub, he had to concede that having his leg worked on would make the whole working-out thing feel like less of a mistake.

“Yeah, sure,” he muttered, taking the steps creakily one at a time. “Sure, you can squeeze my muscles till I scream.”

The kid chuckled again, inviting Pierce in on the laugh. “So you’re happy to let me rub one out on you?”

Pierce groaned. “God, kid, I can hardly walk. No sex jokes until I can make it out of the pool without collapsing.”

“So there can be sex jokes. Eventually. I just want to make sure.” Very gingerly the kid lowered Pierce until he was sitting. After he straightened, he scampered up the steps and pulled off his sodden robe, laying it out on the chaise to dry, and kicked off his ruined leather sandals.

“Oh geez.” Pierce thought of the massacre of perfectly good shoes and robe and was attacked by his conscience, which he’d assumed was dormant or dead. “Kid, I’m sorry about the clothes—”

“Don’t be.” He shrugged. “They’re my old man’s, and since he kicked me out of the house for Christmas, he can pretty much kiss off his super classy robe and huaraches, you hear me?”

Pierce wasn’t sure whether to chuckle or be horrified. “Just for Christmas?” he asked, making sure.

He lowered the sunglasses over his eyes again, probably to help him look insouciant when he was—in all likelihood—wounded. “Folks were having important political friends over. I’m a gay embarrassment, so I got the beach house. Last year they were in Europe, and I got the beach house with my boyfriend and we fucked like lemmings. No boyfriend this year.”

“The lemmings are safe?” Pierce asked, sympathies reluctantly stirred. Parents who judged their kids for sexual activity? He knew those assholes! Pierce and Sasha had grown up with their very own set.

Kid laughed, sounding young and happy instead of casual and cynical. Pierce liked the sound. “Here, let me rub your leg down—I promised.”

Pierce grunted. “Kid—”

“Hal—”

“Like the computer?”

Hal stared at him, unimpressed. “Oh dear, a Space Odyssey joke. I’ve never heard one of those, given that I’ve had this stupid name since birth. Now give me your leg.”

Pierce complied, startled by the venom. “Well, I could call you ‘Prince Hal,’ like—”

“King Henry the Fifth? Like in the Branagh movie?”

Pierce racked his brains, trying to remember. “I thought Branagh just did Hamlet,” he said, confused.

Hal gasped and wrapped his hands around Pierce’s ankle. “Heathen! How could you not know about the Branagh King Henry? He was young and still faithful and downright adorable!”

As he spoke, Hal worked his capable, agile fingers up Pierce’s leg—between that and the hot, bubbling water, Pierce’s entire body was melting like chocolate in the sun.

About the Author

Amy Lane has two grown children, two half-grown children, two cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

A MelanieM Review: Trust with a Chaser (Rainbow Cove #1) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

One hot cop. One bar owner out for redemption. One smoking-hot summer fling destined to leave scorch marks…

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash. Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision—is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Trust with a Chaser is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, a hot law-enforcement hero, opposites attract, plenty of sexy times, and one hard-fought, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

Annabeth Albert introduces us to a  brand new series with another heartwarming winner of a contemporary romance!  The first in her Rainbow Cover series, Trust with a Chaser brings us Mason Hanks (so named because he was no bigger than a Mason jar when born) being reunited with his hometown and disreputable family clan when he returns to Rainbow Cove to open an eatery with partners.  Mason is fighting many battles upon his return.  He’s trying to separate his reputation from his family’s, introduce new tastes and dishes to customers not sure they want change or a gay bar and eatery in their community. Albert makes us love everything about Mason.  His enthusiasm for the new business, his love of food and even his family loyalty, especially for his niece.

Nash Flint is the sheriff with the weight of the  town on his shoulders.  Nash feels his responsibilities, not as a job but almost as a family righteous “carved in stone” duty handed down from his dead father, one who could do no wrong in the town’s eyes.  It’s kept him from having a personal life that he wants, an openly gay life with a partner, something he feels the town (or his mother) would never accept.  With Mason’s return and Nash’s attraction, the shakeup that follows is one that is both frustrating to the reader and yet, understandable to a man like Nash.

Albert lets the story and the situations and Mason slowly crack the walls around Nash.  The town is full of complicated relationships and the dynamics are on full display here whether in small situations at the Sheriff’s Office or during Town Meetings about the state of Rainbow Cover and potential development.  The author builds her universe and characters with care and love, with smooth writing and a storyline that pulls you into this couple and their growing relationship.

This is a slow-burn romance with I just fell in love with!  A new book from Annabeth Albert is always a cause for joy, a new series even more so!  Trust with a Chaser is a great new contemporary romance with the promise of more in this universe!  I  can hardly wait!

Cover art is cute and perfect for the character!

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 255 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Annabeth Albert
Original TitleTrust with a Chaser
ASINB073VPJX56
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Rainbow Cove #1 setting Oregon (United States)

 

A MelanieM Review: The Bones Of Our Fathers by Elin Gregory

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.

Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?

Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his heart.

The Bones Of Our Fathers by Elin Gregory is the type of book I sigh and cuddle up with.  From the moment I settle into the quaint Welsh village of Pemberland and its surrounding towns of Escley, Brynglas and King’s Norton, I know I’m in for a treat.  I love Elin Gregory and having a main character who’s a museum curator is a subject she’s uniquely qualified to write about (read her author’s bio).   The descriptions of the Pemberland Centre for Heritage and Culture, formerly the Town Museum and its staff are vivid, sometimes hilarious,and feel created with an eye of someone familiar with similar settings and associates, albeit with fondness and sometimes exasperation.  The last with the ladies of the Library with whom Mal and his staff now have to share a building.  The bickering, the relationship dynamics that unfold between the town’s inhabitants and Mal, someone newly arrived in Pemberland and new to small village society maneuverings is both charming, believable, and cosy reading.

Its Rob Escley and their mutual attraction that helps to launch Mal further into becoming part of his newly adopted town and further his passion for his new little museum. Rob makes a remarkable discovery upon land that’s being prepared for development and that find propels Mal and Rob to new togetherness and a fight to save it for the village and prosperity.

However, nothing is ever simple.  This is a terrific story where trust is a big issue for Mal, misunderstandings and miscommunication loom large, mostly because Mal just doesn’t understand what it means to live and be part of village life as he’s been so solitary for most of his.  To switch from one mental and emotional state to one of almost constant connectedness is a transition we watch Mal make throughout the story.  Sometimes funny, sometimes it filled with mistakes and angst (a rainy bike race through town is one of my favorite scenes here), Mal has to choose which life he’s going to live in the end.  That choice will include Rob.

Ah Rob Escley.  A bundle of vulnerability, sex appeal and smarts.  Plus loyalty of course.  He was so easy to fall for.  But then this entire story from Betty , Zoe, Harvey, the regulars at the tavern called the Friday Nighters, even Morris,  a certain gigantic dog, The Bones of Our Fathers overflows with characters to love.  I mean I swear I’m going to hound this author until we get a story for a certain PC Brian Ferriner. I need to know his back history and want him to find a love too.  How I really hated for this story to end and for me to have to leave this town and people behind.

I highly recommend The Bones of Our Fathers by Elin Gregory.  The romance is gentle, believable and happy.  This village and townspeople have a staying power and an ability to creep into your heart as a place you’ll want to return to.  I hope the author decides this is a universe she will visit often in future stories as well.

Cover art by Michelle Peart is wonderful with a mug that shows up in the storyline.

Buy Links: Manifold Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 231 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Manifold Press
ISBN139781908312549
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://manifoldpress.co.uk

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 5+ out of 5

A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

I’ve loved this author and her stories just forever and for so many different reasons.  And I have many several 5 stars reviews of her stories.  Cullinan always was one of my baselines in for bringing in unusual yet thoroughly realistic characters and situations and letting me connect emotionally on deep levels with each and every one.  Yet once I finished Antisocial, I was stunned by it’s beauty and its depth, Cullinan’s handling of asexuality and the main characters relationship.  I think it’s the best story she’s written.  Even now Xander and Skylar, their transformation from, well, if not frenemies, strangers on campus, to friends to lovers with their own HEA is one that continues to resonate within me.

The warmth of Cullinan’s style of writing is one that pulls a reader, this reader, intimately into her stories and lives of her characters.  Whether it’s the damaged, artistic Xander or stressed, high-society Skylar Stone, the Greek with the silver tongue and closet of secrets, Cullinan gently ushers you into their minds and hearts.  She reveals the detritus of Stone’s upbringing that’s keeping him from growing into the person he can be, the same being said for Xander too.  Then uses the Pygmalion story in a wonderful reversal that will thread elements together and bring closure in an emotionally satisfying and joyous climax.

In between, we get an amazing exploration of what asexuality in different forms can mean to a couple, to a person or persons and to a romance/relationship. The scenes with simple touches gave me shivers of delight as her descriptions telegraphed what it meant to Xander, Skylar and both of them as couple so beautifully.  Each explore the fact that there’s not just one “ace label” or two, but a spectrum of grey as it were.  Something other characters will or already understand.  Cullinan brings the element of asexuality and threads it throughout Antisocial in a number of ways, stunning, unexpected, and important ways.

A great plus?  The manga details and Japanese art history details that this story is laced with, like the woodcuts of Hokusai, seen to the right.  Finally, there is the cast of characters that surround and support Xander and Skylar, ones that I want to see so much more of.  All the tight members of the group from Lucky 7, especially Unc.  I would  plead with the author to bring them all back for more stories as I fell in love with all of them too.

But this is truly Xander and Skylar’s story and it’s in my top five of 2017.  The beauty of its story, its characters and relationship, the complexities of their romance, the growth and change each underwent in order for a future to be possible for them together.  Well, it still brings tears to my eyes and a glow to my heart.  I highly recommend this to you all.

 

Cover art by Natsukoworks, Cover design by Kanaxa Designs.  An absolutely perfect cover for an absolutely perfect story.  From the style, coloring and characters, its exquisite.

Buy Links  

Amazon US ebookAmazon US paperback,
Amazon UK ebookAmazon UK paperbackBarnes & NobleiTunesKoboScribdSmashwords

Book Details:

ebook, 460 pages
Expected publication: August 8th 2017 by Heidi Cullinan
ISBN13 9781945116094
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Best New Artist by BA Tortuga

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

Kasey “Tuff” Tuffman just told Nashville to kiss his you know what. After winning Best New Artist at an award show, he knows it’s time to head back home to Texas. So after a very public meltdown, Tuff makes his way to Austin, where the Red Dirt music lives large.

Jonah Littlejohn once loved KT more than anything in the world. When KT loses it on national TV, Jonah knows he has to reach out and offer his home studio as a place to heal and make music. A bad relationship has left Jonah broken and wary of romance, but he wants to help his old lover out.

Seeing Jonah again proves to Tuff that he’s made the right decision. Now all he has to do is convince Jonah that they’re the most perfect duet there’s ever been.

Because of BA Tortuga and  Best New Artist, I now know about Red Dirt music, its place in Texas country music and and the artists so often thought of when that term comes up. I want to listen to all their music.  I know about a place called Amaya’s in Austin that makes the best enchiladas. I know I need to go and eat there.  I know about Tuff and JoJo, Littlejohn recording studio and their family of friends and well, family.  I know I love them all too.  Finally, I know know that B.A. Tortuga needs to write another book with these people in them not in the least because of Doodle and Nana, because I need everyone back home in Texas, where they belong, happy deep in my heart.

That’s a lot of knowing.

But then again, Best New Artist is a lot of book.  There’s no question that B.A. Tortuga is a  Texas gal,  this book oozes love for this state out of every narrative pore possible.  Locations, names, food, music…the story is steeped in all things that this author loves and wants to share with her readers.  It’s doled out in bits through her characters, two and four footed, an element I treasure.  In Best New Artist, we have Kasey “Tuff” Tuffman who left home and the man he loved behind 10 years ago chasing a dream of fame and fortune only to find what he wanted wasn’t what he found.  Cue a very loud, unrehearsed and bridge-burning meltdown on television after being awarded Best New Artist.  Watching said meltdown?  The man he still loves and left behind.

The story is told from Tuff’s and JoJo’s (Jonah’s) perspectives which is necessary in order to catch up on some of the 10 year gap between the time they split up and the time they reunite.  Who was responsible each time for the breakup and the decision to reunite might surprise you.  Jonah Littlejohn isn’t just the man  waiting on Tuff to return, thank goodness.  He’s become a hugely successful musician in his own right with a sought after recording studio and group of in house musicians.  But he also has his own story to tell, a darker element here but very well done.    There is no immediate romance but a slow burn  as they get to know each other once more, figuring out trust issues and the question of being outwardly gay in a country music world.  BA Tortuga has layers upon layers for these characters to work through, just as it should be after 10 years apart.  Taking that journey with this couple, as painful as it is at times?  So rewarding and heartwarming, even more so as they come back together.

Its also not just Tuff and JoJo working out their relationship, all the people around them are involved and affected by the changes they are going through and realistically, we get believable behaviors from all of them as well.  I adored them all, and don’t even get me started on Doodle!  As I have a Doodle, I recognized him immediately, he runs the pack here.

Best New Artist by BA Tortuga is a terrific contemporary romance.  It sings with the lyrics of a deep love that not even a 10 year separation can vanquish, and dances to a Red Dirt tune that only this amazing author can write.  Its heartwarming and wonderful.  Pick it up today.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  I love the cover.  Its bright and eye-catching and works for the story.

Available for Purchase at

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635336589 (ISBN13: 9781635336580)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Imago (Imago #1) by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

imago-by-nr-walkerNerdy, introverted genius lepidopterist, Lawson Gale, is an expert on butterflies. He finds himself in a small town in Tasmania on a quest from an old professor to find an elusive species that may or may not even exist.

Local Parks and Wildlife officer, Jack Brighton, is an ordinary guy who loves his life in the sleepy town of Scottsdale. Along with his Border collie dog, Rosemary, his job, and good friends, he has enough to keep from being lonely.

But then he meets Lawson, and he knows he’s met someone special. There’s more to catching butterflies, Jack realises. Sometimes the most elusive creatures wear bowties, and sometimes they can’t be caught at all.

Lawson soon learns there are butterflies he can’t learn about it in books. They exist only in a touch, in a kiss, in a smile. He just has to let go first, so these butterflies can fly.

Imago is the story of finding love, bowties, and butterflies.

If I had asked N.R. Walker to write a book just for me, Imago is it.  Talk about a book made for a naturalist who reads m/m romances!  Imago comes complete with N.R. Walker’s outstanding matchup of characters, a setting to sink into, and a storyline that grabbed me at every narrative choice the author makes.  If I could, I’d add on a star or two as I loved it that much.

Starting with the meet up on the plane and then in the airport, Walker lays out that these two are special, ready to deflect all the stereotypes ready to be thrown at them. Sure, some initial traits you might expect are there.  The  fumbling, the lateness, etc from  Lawson and from the tall, handsome Jack the sheer capability to manage things.  But Walker uses that as an outline to slowly fill in the real men, the ones full of intellect and passion for all sorts of things that we get to discover as the story continues and they reveal themselves to each other.  I love that in a romance and N.R. Walker brings us so intimately into these men’s lives that I feel as though I’m there with them, listening and watching something special unfold.

Imago has a scientific meaning, one that’s revealed at the end of the story.  I’m going to leave it for the reader to discover as its a beautiful way to end the novel.  But science and the passion for nature and conservation is woven throughout this story.  One man is a Parks and Wildlife officer, the other a lepidopterist.  Both men love nature and understand the need to preserve, document and promote conservation of the species.  I believe the author believes in this as well but the message is delivered beautifully through her ties with her country and with the flora and fauna she describes in her stories.  We get plenty of that here through Jack and Lawson’s hikes and preservation work.  I loved every word and sentence! The science is well researched and tools of the trade are spot on. It was so well done in every way.  I didn’t find myself cringing once (which is a real thing when reading books about field research and park rangers).

Along with the passion for each other and for their jobs, there’s some action and suspense too.  Walker gives us everything as well as a HFN that’s realistic and perfection.  I’m so happy we didn’t get a HEA for these men.  That would never work here.  But there’s a promise for more and I can’t wait!

Here’s a book I’m already getting ready to open up again for the shear pleasure of a second read.  So yes, I highly recommend it.  Now if only I can find the patience to wait for the second book to come out.

Cover art is perfection as well.  Look at that butterfly as a bowtie!

Sales Links

Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon AUS | Amazon DE

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 158 pages
Published February 18th 2017
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesImago #1

A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

theres-this-guy-by-rhys-fordHow do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.

What can you say about a book that opens up on the darkest moment of a man’s life, that point where he see’s no hope, no light and then carries you and him on a journey that see’s him safe, in love and with a future that burns as bright as the sun?  You say that you love it and cherish the man and couple you have been reading about.  That’s what you say.

Jake Moore is that man.  His life is one long night of pain, bloody beatings and unmeasurable sorrow.  And it hasn’t ended by any means.  The person most responsible is still barely alive, punishing Jake even from his dying bed.  The hell that this vicious man has made Jake’s life is brought vividly alive through Jake’s confused thoughts and memories of his past, his mother, conversations…his anguish bleeds off the page and into your heart.  He’s a welder by trade, also an artist which is where he pounds out his anger and confusion that he feels over his life and sexuality, welding pieces from the bits left over in the shop and things that he finds to bring home.

Then Dallas Yates and his best friend (and all around wonder) Celeste come into Jake’s life via the renovation of a Art Deco building across the street.  Between the two of them, Dallas who makes Jake yearn for everything he’s been told was evil and Celeste, flamboyant, feminine and proud of who she is (and how far she’s come), makes Jake think  past other boundaries he’s always been provided with.  It’s never downplayed how broken Jake is or that he needs professional help to recover, an important element I really loved here.  The relationship build is slow as Celeste questions Dallas on his ability to and his reasons for being attracted to Jake (there is a past element here for Dallas).  Layers upon layers here, like the detritus that has to be removed from the Art Deco building before she can shine, have to be peeled back before Dallas and Jake  can be a couple and have a future.

I almost gave this 4.75 stars over things as small as not seeing the opening of Bombshell, and other such things that really are extraneous.  Would I have loved them here?  Absolutely.  But were they necessary to the plot?  I don’t think so (although I do think they are in some cut pages somewhere on Rhys Ford’s computer).  I got the men, I got their love and their journey and that was deeply moving and so memorable.  I loved them so, and all..well, most of the secondary characters too.  From Celeste to the Yates family.

Want a story full of hope?  Want a story full of recovery, love and a journey towards a brighter future for a man who thought a future was something he didn’t deserve?  There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford is the story for you.  But let Rhys Ford put it better.  From Rhys Ford’s Foreword on There’s This Guy:

This book is for anyone who has stared into the abyss and wondered if they can or should go on.

You should.

Take that next step forward and go on.

And should you need help finding the strength for that step, reach out. There are people and places who will help you.

Keep walking until you find the sun on your face and until you can see the stars again.

You are worth that step. Worth that journey.

The world is a better place with you in it.

OK, I’m about to start crying all over again.  Probably will pick up the story and start reading it again as well.  Get the idea? Yes, I highly recommend it.  You’ll have to wait until March but trust me, the wait will be worth it.  How I love this author!

Cover art is ok, but honestly I don’t know what I wanted for such a complex story and character.  Color me confused.

Sales Links to be provided

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Switched by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

switched-by-nr-walkerIsrael Ingham’s life has never been easy. He grew up in a house devoid of love and warmth. Nothing he ever did was good enough. The fact Israel is gay just added to the long list of his father’s disappointments.

Then a letter from Eastport Children’s Hospital changes everything.

A discovery is made, one of gross human error. Twenty-six years ago two baby boys were switched at birth and sent home with the wrong families.

Sam, Israel’s best friend, has been his only source of love and support. With Sam beside him every step of the way, Israel decides to meet his birth mother and her son, the man who lived the life Israel should have.

Israel and Sam become closer than ever, amidst the tumultuous emotions of meeting his birth family, and Sam finds himself questioning his feelings toward his best friend. As Israel embraces new possibilities, he needs to dissect his painful relationship with his parents in order to salvage what’s left.

Because sometimes it takes proof you’re not actually family to become one.

Switched is such a deeply moving story, different in some respects from what I expect from this author and yet so similar in the feelings it will pull from the reader that you know you are reading a  N.R. Walker story.  It hits so close to the heart that it brings up comparisons to my favorites, especially my beloved Red Dirt series.

In Switched we have a superb friends to lovers tale, with Israel Ingram also known as I.I. or Captain and his best friend, Sam.  Israel, wealthy, raised by his nannies, gardeners and other staff than by his cold emotionally removed parents has relied on the support and friendship of Sam and his family to supply him with the love and care he so needed and lacked growing up.   Sam, not wealthy in money, but in every other way, has been there, watching the cold disapproval and disinterest eat away at Israel, hoping to staunch those wounds made by Israel’s parents with his own love and support.

Immediately we get this turmoil, all this emotional cost and years of abuse that has gone on, through Walker’s descriptive, vivid  scenes and believable dialog.  It brings us intimately into these peoples lives and keeps us there.  Our connections to these characters become tight and our hearts are tied to their futures and happiness.

Then comes the shattering moment when Israel and his family find out that he was switched at birth.  And Israel falls apart. As does his world.

To move through this situation that fractures a man, and watch him put himself back together again, with the love and support of Sam, Sam’s family and much more?  Its a true joy.  It takes such a moment for  Israel and Sam to move past friendship into the love that’s been theirs all along.  And in the hands of N.R. Walker, you’ll sob, and laugh, and sob some more as Israel struggles to figure out who he is and where he now stands in this new realigned world.

I have to mention all the layers of supporting characters because there are so many.  All believable, all so important to this story.  From the father who has behaved so cold as to be abusive, the mother equally coldly detached?  They too have layers and, while they must answer for those years, not all is black and white.  Walker recognizes Israel’s right to be angry over his upbringing and has him seeing a therapist.  Again and again in the story, the right choices are made in the narrative, no holes are left, people move forward with their lives while dealing with the past as best they can.  Such a remarkable book.

I just loved Switched by N.R. Walker.  I recommend it highly as I do its author, N.R. Walker.

Cover art accurately reflects by idea of Israel, I just love it.

Sales Link

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 269 pages
Published December 25th 2016
Original TitleSwitched
ASINB01N7M3PBW
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Mad Lizard MamboKai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.

Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.

Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.

The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.

Rhys Ford’s dark, snarky fae mongrel Kai Gracen is back in Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen, #2) by Rhys Ford and never has a folded, jumbled up world looked so scary or  so good.  Now unhappily serving as a sort of go between for Lord Rider and the humans the sidhe are interacting/living with, Kai is once again called in for a favor.  One he wants to be paid handsomely for as he desperately needs the money to help out his sick mentor/father figure Stalker.  That the mission seems a little insane is about par when Kai considers that he’s dealing with Ryder the sidhe Lord he can’t seem to get out of his head and sidhe magics that he wants nothing to do with.

I really could read about Kai Gracen and his gritty conglomerate of a world all day long and never tire of either.  Somehow Ford has managed to gather all the elements I love about the Fae (not your kiddies elves) and fantasy, throw them in with action/adventure with a great deal of mystery and UST, rub in a ton of dirt, grit and a big smattering of blood (yep always blood) and car chases to come up with a whomper of a tale.

Molding this universe must be like having the most twisted set of maps ever, laid out on Playdoh and crammed together by a child on a sugar high.  Plains weave and warp, mountains are closer than they appear. Or are they?  Oh, look pretty butterflies.  But don’t touch or they may kill you.  Nothing like having a story where I wanted to just sit and examine the landscape, the flora and fauna for a bit.  Heck I wanted a whole new Natural History guide as the author’s imagination soars freely through the desert skies on dragon wings and lopes scarily along in herds.

Its up to the Stalkers to navigate these daunting territories and Kai Grace is among the best.  That’s one of the reasons he’s been requested to head up the team to go looking for this mythological lost court deep in some Fae Mountains.  Yep, like Kai, it smells rank too.  But he needs the money.  So to outfit such a endeavor, Kai heads to all the people who support the Stalkers and who helped raise him.  Some we met in the first story, Black Dog Blues, some are new.  The machines needed to transport them will conjure up images of Mad Max as armored monsters capable of getting them to their location, each as unique as their wonderful creator.  I love all the secondary characters here.  They are as elemental and tough as the desert they live on.  You can see how each contributed to Kai, the person who stands before them.  I don’t actually say Fae because Kai considers himself more human than Fae no matter what his biology says differently.  His outlook is human.  And when contrasted to Ryder’s, you get that absolutely.

There’s so many twists and turns here, lost cities and yes, be still my heart, dragons.

Ford also has some answers to Kai’s back history, startling ones, while opening new questions for future stories.  This is a standard procedure for Ford and one I also always look forward to as it means another story.  Bring it on!

Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen, #2) by Rhys Ford once again soars, rocks, and scrambles through the gritty urban fantasy world and brings us a story you won’t be able to put down until it over.  I love this character and series, and can’t  wait for more.  Its really not a romance, all that UST running around.  Its high action, swiftly paced, tons of twists and turns, and yes, fae (light and dark) and dragons!  If that’s your thing as its definitely mine, I highly recommend this story and the one preceding it.  I love them both and think you will too.

Cover art shows Kai and a special dragon.  Love the colors, and the design.  Perfection.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634777441 (ISBN13: 9781634777445)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Kai Gracen – add to Goodreads here:

Note from DSP Publications: Spend your weekend with Kai Gracen! Mad Lizard Mambo by Rhys Ford will be released on the DSP Publications website 3 days before other retailers, on September 10. Additionally, eBook one in the Kai Gracen Series, Black Dog Blues, will be 99 cents September 6-13, 2016.