A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: A Gathering Storm (Porthkennack #2) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

My first story by Joanna Chambers, and I was struck by what a lovely romance she created with her two incredibly endearing main characters. Some of my reviewer friends have called it beautiful, but whatever synonym one uses, be it lovely, exquisite, superb, striking, or another term, it is certainly one well worth purchasing.

It’s the mid-1850s, and Nicholas Hearn is perfectly satisfied with his life as the land manager of the Roscarrock estate—at least that’s what he tells himself. His mother was Romany, and he’s the illegitimate son of the Roscarrock family patriarch, Godfrey Roscarrock. Godfrey is a tough old man, who refuses to acknowledge their relationship, though most people suspect that’s why Nick was hired there.

When he meets new neighbor, Sir Edward Fitzwilliam, he’s struck first by the man’s very rough tone of voice—a result of a childhood case of diphtheria—and second by the man’s very good looks. Sir Edward, aka Ward, comes to the local tavern seeking volunteers for an experiment for one of his scientific projects. He plans to speak to spirits who’ve passed away by recreating storm conditions present when he himself heard his twin brother speak to him just as he died. Ward convinces everyone, including himself, that his motives are scientific and altruistic, but we find later in the story that Nick’s perceptive insight is correct—Ward simply can’t let go of his twin and wants more time to converse with him before he can truly say good-bye.

The story is by no means simple, nor is it short, but it’s packed full of character development and relationship-building between the two MCs. The author delves deep into their hearts and then twines the two tightly together. And she managed to ensnare this reviewer along the way, as well.

I highly recommend this story of love, passion, heartbreak, and heartwarming triumph that ends with a very satisfying HEA. Though part of the Porthkennack series, it simply uses that setting but is a standalone novel. Don’t miss a chance to enjoy the depth of feeling this story evokes. It is beautiful, indeed.

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The cover by LC Chase features a handsome man in 19th Century dress standing before a landscape complete with cliffs and stormy sea—perfect for this story.

Sales Links

Riptide Publishing

Book Details:

ebook, 309 pages
Published April 17th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626495602 (ISBN13: 9781626495609)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPorthkennack #2

An Alisa Review: The Art of Mutual Pleasure by K.A. Merikan

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

— The path to debauchery is strewn with good intentions. —

Benjamin Snowley is trapped in a most distressing predicament. He’s been feeling poorly and after having recently recovered from influenza, he knows that the fault for his declining health lies in a vice he wouldn’t dare mention in polite conversation.

Onanism, self-pollution, masturbation. All names for the same sinful affliction.

For Benjamin, it all started back at school, where he first encountered the immoral Frederick Cory. Ever since then, the man has been plaguing Benjamin’s dreams and causing most unnatural urges.

Now is the time for all the infatuation nonsense to stop. With the help of an unorthodox doctor and an indecent proposition to a young stablehand, Benjamin will rid himself of the vile addiction.

But can the experimental treatment be enough to make him forget his feelings for Frederick?

Warning: Contains a clueless young man on a futile quest for chastity and a libertine artist eager to rid him of that goal.

This was an interesting story.  While regency style stories can be hit or miss with me I was happy with the ending to this story, I will admit that it took a bit of endurance for me to get through the first part of the book but the last third makes up for all the things that made it hard for the story to keep my attention.  Benjamin is quite disturbed by his self-pollution and seeks out even the most radical of help as he sees so other way to cure himself.  To make it worse he finds that the doctor is a fraud and even worse that he enjoys the “treatments”.  Frederick has always been intrigued by Benjamin but took his icy and prudish exterior as a sign to back off, which he does until he sees Benjamin at a brothel in all his glory and can’t stop thinking of him as his.

The beginning of this story is a bit heart breaking with Benjamin pretty much torturing himself in fear that what he is doing is bad and will end up hurting him.  We could just see how much this hurt Benjamin’s confidence and self worth as he fully thought it was slowly killing him and that he would only get worse.  When we first see Frederick I wasn’t impressed, but he really redeems himself when he finally gets thru to Benjamin and shows him what love and pleasure can feel like.

Throughout most of the story we see it through Benjamin’s eyes, so we know how he is feeling even when he tries to deny it to himself as much as all those around him.  He continues to worry even while getting his “treatments” even if he begins to feel better.  There is hope for Benjamin when we see how much Frederick wants him to feel and experience on the positive spectrum together.  While they are open in their relationship they are fully committed to each other and they both have to be comfortable with what is going on.  The abundance of self doubt made it hard to get into the story, but the end with Benjamin and Frederick’s relationship and life made up for all that in the end.

 

The cover art by Natasha Snow is a wonderful sensual view of Benjamin.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 153 pages

Published: March 29, 2017 by K.A. Merikan

Edition Language: English

 

In the Historical Spotlight: A Gathering Storm (Porthkennack #2) by Joanna Chambers (giveaway)

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A Gathering Storm (Porthkennack #2) by Joanna Chambers
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by: L.C. Chase

Read an  Excerpt/Buy It at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Joanna Chambers here today.  Welcome, Joanna!

📚

Hello, reader friends! I’m Joanna Chambers and this is the blog tour for A Gathering Storm, my new Cornwall-set historical romance. I’ll be sharing thoughts on my experience of writing about eccentric Victorian scientists, pragmatic Romany land stewards and unscrupulous mediums – come and comment to win a copy of the book and a $25 Riptide gift card!

About A Gathering Storm

When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother. 

In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.

Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.

A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it.

Now available from Riptide Publishing

About Porthkennack

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex BeecroftJoanna ChambersCharlie CochraneGarrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.

Check out Porthkennack

About Joanna Chambers

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna’s muse likes red wine, coffee and won’t let Joanna clean the house or watch television.

Connect with Joanna:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of A Gathering Storm, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit and a copy of A Gathering Storm! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 22, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Caryn Review: The Star of Versailles by Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

During the Reign of Terror, Paris was worse than a nightmare.  People were being denounced and executed without trial, neighbors turned against one another, and the guillotine claimed the lives of thousands.   The king and queen were already dead, and Robespierre and his cronies were ruling the country.  Counter-revolutionary conspirators and foreign spies also operated in the shadows, but William Knowles was only there to find more information about the Star of Versailles, a diamond of incredible worth once owned by Marie Antoinette, now disappeared.  William masqueraded as Yves Morel, notorious torturer from the south, and lived in the house of Philippe Plamondon, whose wife Claudine was rumored to have been the last to possess the Star when she fled Paris.  Also living in the house was Vincent Tessier, the Butcher of Orleans, who was also obsessively seeking the diamond.

Alexandre Gaudet was a playwright who was living in luxury in London, darling of the English court and toast of the English theater, to whom the terror of the Revolution was only an annoyance across the Channel.  Until his sister Claudine disappeared, and he came to Paris to find and rescue her.  While both men were searching the Plamondon house for clues to her location, William ran into Gaudet, which led to Tessier apprehending Gaudet and taking him off to the dungeons to torture information from him.  William rescued Gaudet, but in doing so blew his own cover and then they both needed to flee the city.  Professor Dee, the notorious spymaster who was behind the whole scheme, tasked William with sticking close to Gaudet as they fled to Le Havre, as he also wanted the diamond and knew that following Gaudet was the best way to find it.

So this was a very complicated plot, with a lot of back story that wasn’t very clearly defined, and characters were introduced as though the reader should already know about them – for instance, the spymaster Dee (there was a real John Dee who was possibly a spymaster for Queen Elizabeth I of England, but that was 100 years earlier, so I was confused).  The reasons that William became a spy, and one that spoke French like a native and was given such an important post, were also never really adequately explained.  I got the impression that the authors assumed their readers had a fair amount of knowledge about this period in French history – I don’t – and perhaps if I had I would have appreciated the story more.  William initially seemed to be a consummate undercover spy, but later on in the book he turned into an ordinary man who foolishly stumbled into things.  Dee was a shadowy figure with connections and informants all over the country who operates more as a puppet master instead of getting directly involved, until he accompanies William and Gaudet and they met up with Dee’s daughter in a French village and suddenly he was neither mysterious nor powerful, and it was unclear what he was even doing in France other than looking for the Star.  And finally, Gaudet – he was ridiculous.  While supposedly scared for his life and fleeing Paris, he stops to pick up his poodle and his powder and rouge, and acts like a complete idiot – selfish and over-the-top flamboyant – and unnecessarily puts all of them in danger.  William supposedly fell in love with him during this period, but I would have wanted to kick his ass, so I lost respect for William at this point.  And within 24 hours of their first kiss, William, who has never been attracted to men before in his life, is enjoying his first time bottoming with only spit to ease the way.  Ummm, no.

The book dragged as the party moved through the countryside to Le Havre, relentlessly pursued by Tessier who was probably the most consistent character in the book (even though it made no sense to me that he hung back for so long before confronting them).  Think Javert from Les Miserables.  And in the end, they find the diamond, but what happens to it after that is kind of murky, and it really dropped out of the plot altogether.  The Star of Versailles turned out not to be the diamond after all, and that was a surprising plot twist, but it was not really followed up with more explanation, or resolution, which I found unsatisfying since it was the whole point of the story.

I do love a good historical, but this whole book seemed like an ambitious goal that was never realized.

Cover art by Posh Gosh showed a lovely picture of a diamond, but the bare-chested men didn’t really match the setting of the book

Sales Links:   Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786515230
Edition LanguageEnglish

Karen Bovenmyer on Writing, Research, and her latest novel ‘Swift for the Sun’ (guest blog and interview)

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Swift for the Sun by Karen Bovenmyer
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Release Date: Mar 27, 2017

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press ebook | Dreamspinner Press paperback

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Karen Bovenmyer here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest novel, Swift for the Sun. Welcome, Karen!

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Karen Bovenmyer

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot. I strongly believe in “write what you know,” but I’m not a gay nineteen-year-old man in 1820, and that was the story I wanted to tell in SWIFT FOR THE SUN. While Benjamin and I do have a lot in common—we love reading, music, and are a little competitive—I don’t speak French, have an undying desire to be a sailor, nor am I very good at talking my way out of predicaments in the moment.

I researched this book thoroughly and reached out to a range of consultants for the things I didn’t know—chiefly, the gay male sexual experience. I shared chapters with gay friends and had several blush-worthy conversations about it. I wanted to get both Benjamin and Sun “right.” I also read many novels written by naval people of the time to get a feel for language and culture.

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

No. I think personal experience is complex and nuanced and having some personal experiences in common with your character is a great way to give them more dimension. If your beta-readers report that they are bored or confused, that’s when you should make sure the personal experience you included fits your character and enriches the story. If not, cut it and give them something else that shaped them. Remember past experiences predict reactions to future experiences, so do a little reverse engineering to help you understand why your character is reacting the way they are. If it enriches the story, then include that little backstory/explanation in the text, but most of the time it’s only important that the writer know it.

I find being a life-long roleplaying game nerd helps. I always try to create characters for games that will compel not only me, but the other players.

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

I usually write science fiction and fantasy, but nevertheless, I research a lot. I know my audience is brutally intelligent, and I had better have an understanding of what my space ship uses for propulsion and how it defeats the enormous gulf between stars. I don’t need to elaborate on it in the story, but I need to understand the theories behind it and have them in my back pocket if needed.

For me, what plays the biggest role on choosing a genre, is the pre-writing I do. I’ll get a loose idea, and then start playing with it on paper. Then I stop drafting and write a seven point outline to shape the story. If I’m not feeling it—I’m not bonding with the character or the predicament and it’s not interesting me, I’ll start over, reshaping the ideas. Yesterday, while drafting a new short story, I spent time on a crashing starship with shape-shifting lovers, scrapped the setting, put them in a postmodern apocalypse, scrapped the characters, then put everything on the moon with shadow-traveling space wolves. But I had better know the rules of that shadow travel and how everyone’s breathing on the moon. It’s a delicate mix of make-believe and science, for me.

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

The genre I read the most as a kid was epic fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons spinoff books, and Star Trek novels. Of the long fiction manuscripts I have drafted, none yet fit these genres. I think part of it is because I love them so deeply, I want to do them right. My current novel in progress is a Chinese-inspired fantasy murder mystery, so that one comes the closest to what I usually love to read. I like to think I’m growing toward being able to write the fiction I loved when I was a teen.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Absolutely. When a story is too close to my personal pain, I can’t make it work. I need distance before I can process. When I’m writing stories for publication or for the entertainment of my friends, I can’t get too personal, or the enjoyment of the thing falls apart for me. Every time I’ve tried to process something too fresh through a story, it hasn’t worked. Time does not heal all wounds either—when I write about something really painful, then go back to it later, all the pain feelings come back. I usually can only use the story by recombining elements and themes until I find something charged enough to be interesting but not so overpowering I can’t write about it.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I don’t like books to end. I want them to go on and on forever, so I like HFN. I like to imagine what the character might do next, and having a little hint that not everything will always be perfect for them from here on feels more realistic and fires my imagination.

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

As a teenager I read very few romances—Auel’s VALLEY OF THE HORSES, Small’s THE KADIN stick out in my mind. As an adult, I’ve read a lot of Laurell K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, and J R Ward. I primarily love fantasy and science fiction, but enjoy a strong romantic sub plot. The first draft of SWIFT FOR THE SUN was an action story, but in editorial we were able to bring the romance out of a sub plot and into greater prominence.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

That’s a hard question. Everything I read influences my writing. Growing up, Pini’s ELFQUEST was a huge influence—I’ve always been drawn to writing dramatic story arcs. I’ve been writing a lot of first person lately, which could be due to Brust’s JHEREG or the first few books of Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. A couple of short fiction authors I adore, who continually inspire me, include Kelly Link, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, and Catherynne Valente. I love reading their stories.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I like reading books on an e-reader. I read huge, door-stop fantasy, so the act of holding the physical book up and turning pages was actually causing me wrist pain before I switched from paper to e-books. I see ebooks as the new standard, with audio-books a close second.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Dreamspinner sent me five mockups by Anna Sikorska to pick from. I wanted something that wasn’t too sexy, because the book is more about the two men coming together and defeating their pasts than it is about sex. I also wanted a strong, central character looking out at the reader, inviting them into the story. I told the art department I liked two of the five they sent and gave some suggestions. Anna used the suggestions to make four new mockups, none of which I particularly liked, so they sent me four more, the first of which is the one I chose. All the work was very high quality and I was impressed with both Anna and the Dreamspinner art department.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

My current favorite is a 1500 word short fiction called “We Are Still Feeling” featuring lesbian psionic zombie masters fighting the robot apocalypse (available to read online free in Sockdolager’s Women of War issue). That story opened a world in my mind I find myself returning to. It was the first story I’d written that earned a “Finalist” ranking in the Writers of the Future Contest. My science fiction epic novella (17500 words) “Failsafe” is a second favorite, also because of the setting and character relationships. It earned an honorable mention for 2013 year’s best horror from Ellen Datlow, but I don’t think it’s the external validation that really counts for me with both of these stories. It’s the strength of character, setting, and plot that keeps calling me back there. I will probably write more stories inspired by both.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently drafting a Chinese-inspired noir fantasy novel with detectives and dragons, empresses and duelists. I hope to complete work on the novel (currently 60000 words) by August (probably topping out around 100000 or 120000) and pitch it to agents. Fingers crossed!

About Swift for the Sun

Benjamin Lector imagines himself a smuggler, a gun runner, and an all-around scoundrel. A preacher’s son turned criminal, first and foremost, he is a survivor.

When Benjamin is shipwrecked on Dread Island, fortune sends an unlikely savior—a blond savage who is everything Benjamin didn’t know he needed. Falling in love with Sun is easy. But pirates have come looking for the remains of Benjamin’s cargo, and they find their former slave, Sun, instead.

Held captive by the pirates, Benjamin learns the depths of Sun’s past and the horrors he endured and was forced to perpetrate. Together, they must not only escape, but prevent a shipment of weapons from making its way to rebellious colonists. Benjamin is determined to save the man he loves and ensure that a peaceful future together is never threatened again. To succeed might require the unthinkable—an altruistic sacrifice.

Karen Bovenmyer earned a B.S. in anthropology, English, and history; an M.A. in literature; and an M.F.A. in creative writing—popular fiction. Fans of historical romance, Tarzan, Master and Commander, and Pirates of the Caribbean will enjoy this funny, romantic action-adventure.

80k words
Pages: 230
ISBN-13 978-1-63477-764-3

About the Author

Karen Bovenmyer was born and raised in Iowa, where she teaches and mentors new writers at Iowa State University. She triple-majored in anthropology, English, and history so she could take college courses about cave people, zombie astronauts, and medieval warfare to prepare for her writing career. After earning her BS, she completed a master’s degree with a double specialization in literature and creative writing with a focus in speculative fiction, also from Iowa State University. Although trained to offer “Paper? Or plastic?” in a variety of pleasant tones, she landed an administrative job at the college shortly after graduation. Working full-time, getting married, setting up a household, and learning how to be an adult with responsibilities (i.e. bills to pay) absorbed her full attentions for nearly a decade during which time she primarily wrote extremely detailed roleplaying character histories and participated in National Novel Writing Month.

However, in 2010, Karen lost a parent.

With that loss, she realized becoming a published author had a nonnegotiable mortal time limit. She was accepted to the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program with a specialization in Popular Fiction and immediately started publishing, selling her first story just before starting the program and three more while in the extremely nurturing environment provided by the Stonecoast community, from which she graduated in 2013. Her science fiction, fantasy, and horror novellas, short stories, and poems now appear in more than forty publications including Abyss & Apex, Crossed Genres, Pseudopod, and Strange Horizons. She is the Horror Writers Association 2016 recipient of the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. She serves as the nonfiction editor for Escape Artist’s Mothership Zeta Magazine and narrates stories for Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, Far Fetched Fables, Star Ship Sofa, and the Gallery of Curiosities Podcasts. Her first novel, SWIFT FOR THE SUN, an LGBT pirate romantic adventure set in the 1820s Caribbean, will be published on March 27, 2017.

Social Media Links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenbovenmyer

https://www.facebook.com/karen.bovenmyer

https://twitter.com/karenbovenmyer

http://karenbovenmyer.com/

An Ali Review: We Three Kings by AF Henley

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Chicago 1982 is a goldmine for the construction industry, and Eric and his two business partners are thriving. Once nothing more than orphans in a Catholic boys’ home, they’ve overcome poverty and abuse to obtain success. Now living the lives they once only dreamed of, they’re sure of one thing: they will never look back.

Then the past returns, by way of a cheap polyester suit and a smile Eric has never forgotten—and all the dark memories come crashing back. Lucky for him, Jimmy has no idea who Eric is, or who Eric used to be…
This is a beautifully written story about forgiveness and redemption.  Eric and his two best friends, Mark and Devin, have overcome the abuse they suffered at the hands of the church run orphanage they grew up in.  They are now successful businessmen and they try to live their lives in a way that is positive and helpful to others.  Eric’s past behaviors though still haunt him and the walls he’s built come crashing down when he interviews Jimmy for a job at their company.  Eric sees hiring Jimmy as a way to fix past wrongs. Unfortunately the longer Eric is not honest with Jimmy, the harder time he has with the truths about himself.
This story is told from Eric’s point of view and I found him to be a fantastic narrator.  He begins each chapter with memories from his past.  I was worried about this part of the story going in because I saw that movie Sleepers and I remember it being pretty hard to watch.  Fortunately the author doesn’t make these scenes graphic.  Despite that you still get the feel for the terror these boys went through in every creak in the hallway or dark shadow that passes their door.  I was on pins and needles for everyone of those flashbacks.
Despite his lack of honestly with Jimmy, Eric finds himself attracted to the man and begins a romantic relationship.  Eric is slowly unraveling and while he knows his decisions are bad, he can’t seem to stop himself.  Throughout he does a bunch of soul searching and he’s stuck on his anger at himself for both the past and the present.
While part of the story is about Jimmy and Eric falling for each other, Jimmy is almost a side character.  He has a strong role and a place of importance but really this story is Eric’s.  I thought the connection between the two men was touching.  Eric’s two friends have smaller roles but they play a major part in the end of the story.  By far though, my favorite side character was Meryl, a homeless man that Eric talks to every day.  This was so well done.  So creative and thought provoking. I don’t want to say more about this because I don’t want to spoil anything but I loved these interactions. He and Eric are characters that will stick in my head for a long time to come.
In the end, yes, this is a romance, but it’s also a story about letting go of your past, of your fear, you anger and/or self-loathing and starting afresh.
There are a few authors I wish got more attention and this is one of them.  I’ve loved everything I’ve read of hers and I would have everyone I know read this if I could (and after this go read her Wolf series).
Cover by Aisha Akeju:  I liked the cover.  It was nicely done but did not stand out in any special way to me.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook
Published March 1st 2017 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620049600
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Review: Unspoken by R.A. Padmos

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

unspoken-2I wanted to like this book so much.  Historical (yes!), set in the Netherlands (yes, yes!) during the  years prior to and during the second World War.  I expected a romance that would develop during a time of danger, sacrifice, and privation.  And I got – well, I’m not quite sure.

Stefan was a married man with 3 children, a caring wife, and a tremendous sense of pride responsibility for them.  In the interwar period in Europe, even in countries that had not been allies of Germany during WWI, there was too much unemployment, too much poverty, and too much hopelessness.  Stefan was a hard worker, and humiliated to find himself on the dole most of the time, punctuated by brief stints of working.  In his daily walk about the city to find work, he ran into Adri, an out of work painter, who was also in line to receive benefits.  Stefan had never been attracted to men in his life, but something about Adri just struck him, and the passion between the two of them was more than he’d ever had with his wife.

Adri always knew he was a homosexual, and had discovered those subtle ways to find other like minded men.  And though homosexual activity was not illegal – as it was in most of the rest of the world – it was still frowned upon and something to be kept hidden.  (The author was insistent upon repeating, frequently, that as long as the men involved were both over the age of 21 that sex between two men was legal.  Although Stefan and Adri did get arrested once, I wan’t quite clear on why that happened, but maybe public indecency?)  Adri was also drawn to Stefan from the beginning.  The men became friends first, then lovers, and eventually Adri was even adopted by Stefan’s family as a sort of honorary uncle.

The majority of the book takes place before the war starts, and was primarily an ongoing monologue in Stefan’s mind of what it meant that he and Adri were lovers.  He insisted to himself and Adri pretty much right up until the end of the book that he was not really a homosexual, and that effeminate men were worthy of ridicule and abuse.  He kept trying to walk away from Adri – resulting in his wife getting pregnant with a fourth child – but always ended up coming back to him.  He felt responsible to provide for his family, so he would not abandon them, even when he eventually realized that he loved Adri more than he loved his wife.  When the Germans occupied the country, he was even more sure that he needed to stay with them and provide food, shelter, and safety, but he still carried on with his affair with Adri.

I was never really sure where this book was going, whether it reached any particular goal, or even how to classify it.  It’s not a romance, not a memoir, certainly not an adventure.  To be honest, the closest I can come is saying that it was Brokeback Mountain set in prewar Holland – but I never connected to these characters.  To be honest, Stefan just irritated me – I wanted him to either accept that he was going to carry on an affair, or break up with his lover, or his wife (to be fair, I felt the same way about Ennis in Brokeback Mountain).  His ongoing denial of who and what he was just didn’t touch me at all.  In the end, it was just a long, meandering book with what seemed like endless angst without resolution from Stefan, that ended abruptly and unsatisfyingly.

I do not know this author, but I guess from the writing that English is not her first language.  I would believe that she was Dutch, or at least from some part of Europe, as she had excellent grasp of the culture and the history of life in occupied Europe, as well as the hidden culture of gay men of the period.

Cover art by Posh Gosh is absolutely beautiful, and the park bench is an important symbol in the book and really the perfect image to use.

Sales Links

Pride Publishing

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

ebook, Revamp Edition
Published March 29th 2016 by Pride Publishing (first published May 1st 2012)
ISBN139781786513946
Edition LanguageEnglish

A VVivacious Review: The Puritan Pirate by Jules Radcliffe

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Rating: 3.75 Stars out of 5

 

the-puritan-pirateLieutenant Thomas Peregrine finds himself in a rather unusual position. He is serving as a naval liaison on the pirate ship, Audacious. He keeps to himself but he is unable to control his attraction to Gabriel Quinn, the sailing master of the Defiant. But one drunken night reveals one too many secrets and Gabe & Thomas find themselves on the way to a deeper connection. But when the Defiant finds itself in mighty trouble, what will Gabe’s fate be and will Thomas be able to survive it…

 

I liked this book quite a lot. It is an interesting read with well fleshed out characters and a daring plot.

 

This book uses a lot of words which are no longer in popular use and there are lots of phrases in different languages. So yeah sometimes I used to get stuck on certain words and phrases because I had no idea what they meant. Also this book is based in the West Indies and the book makes ample use of the tumultuous political scenario the countries of the Indies were facing in the late 17th century. Since I truly have no idea about the history of the Indies somethings definitely went over my head but I felt like the book definitely makes use of history to consolidate its plot. Alas, I have no idea about this history or how accurately it is depicted in this book.

 

What I loved about this book was the plot and our main characters.

 

The plot of the book is quite well written and it was interesting to read about naval warfare. For one it is very different than land warfare and has its own appeal. I loved the story of this book and its intricacies. The plot is simple but very well-executed and the book is well paced so you don’t lose interest.

 

My favourite part of this book was Gabriel and Thomas. I like the personalities of both characters, wherein Thomas is a guy firmly in control and Gabriel is just a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who can’t wait to break Thomas’ facade. But these two together were simply, hot. I mean the sex scenes between these two characters are some of the best I have ever read. I loved how the author wrote about the domination and submission between these two characters and I appreciated the fluidity of it.

 

Overall this book is a hot and interesting read.

 

Cover Art by Valerie Tibbs. I liked the cover, it complements the story.

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Book Details:

ebook
Published January 3rd 2017 by Loose Id
Original TitleThe Puritan Pirate
ISBN139781682523018
Edition LanguageEnglish

In the Historical Spotlight: The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple by K.A. Merikan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple:

Author: K.A. Merikan

Publisher:  Acerbi&Villani ltd.

Release Date: 7th of February 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 140,000 words

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Historical – 18th Century Cornwall, Highwayman, Kidnapping, Forbidden love, Violence

Add to Goodreads

 

Writing historical books requires a lot of research, otherwise they might will feel washed out. Because of the theme of this particular novel, we needed to look into the legislation of the period and find out how laws were applied.

Executions used to be major attractions at that time, with spectators filling up Bodmin every time a hanging was taking place. People’s morals must have been very different from ours, because convicts weren’t only killed for murder or highway robberies with violence. No, people had been hanged for stealing someone’s spoon, or a sheep. This shows how ferociously the wealthy protected their possessions, and how little human life meant in comparison. On the other hand, in case of livestock, one could argue life was at stake. Sometimes, a cow or a goat was vital to the survival of a poor family, so losing it meant malnourishment, and possibly even death. Either way, reading through a list of public executions from the eighteenth century is a bizarre experience.

Around the period the book is set (1785), the executions were moved closer to the new gaol in Bodmin. The previous location, known as the Five Lanes for its convenient location where roads from several towns converged, had been utilized since the mid-sixteenth century at least. I went through the list of 1785 executions to make the descriptions as true to reality as possible, and I discovered something shocking.

Talk about coincidence! A man named William Hill had been executed at the Five Lanes in Bodmin on July 23rd 1785–a date corresponding to the timeline of The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple–for the murder of none other than John Pascoe. There wouldn’t have been anything unusual about it if it weren’t for the fact that this is the name of our book’s villain. I swear we picked his name at random. We looked through lists of people who lived in eighteenth century Cornwall to pick up a surname that was local to the region.

I’m not even gonna check who that particular John Pascoe was, because that is just too freaky for my taste 😉

Have you ever had this kind of bizarre experience when reading something related to history? A known name, or a vaguely familiar face in an old photo?

The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple is the kind of book that just needed to be written, despite our already tight schedule. The idea first came to us when we watched a documentary about highwaymen, but we promised ourselves to wait. And then we went to Cornwall for a month, and initial plans collapsed. As we walked through the woods, watching the lush nature and the old stone cottages peppered on both sides of a valley where we were staying, the characters and story steadily came to us. Our aim was to write a historical book that provides as much excitement as readers learned to expect from our contemporary romance.

RELEASE DATE: 7th February 2017

If you want to see our inspiration photos for this book, check out the ‘Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple’ Pinterest board:

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The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple is our baby. It’s been a year since we started working on this book, and to celebrate its release, we’re organizing a quiz for readers who follow The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple blog tour. Answers to all questions will be provided in the blog posts, and we will then randomly pick the lucky winners. You can win:

  • a signed paperback of The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple + a selection of Cornish treats (main prize – for one person)
  • 3 ebooks of choice from our backlist + a surprise treat from Cornwall (will go to 3 more people)

For a chance to win, follow the instructions in blog posts and solve the quiz, which will be published on our website on 1st February 2017. Please, send answers to kamerikan@gmail.com with ‘Black Sheep Quiz’ in the subject line of the email.

 

Winners will be randomly chosen from readers who sent us correct answers by 17th February 2017.

LINKS TO ALL POSTS:

02/01 THE QUIZ

02/03 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

02/06 We Three Queens

02/07 Boy Meets Boy Reviews

02/08 Prism Book Alliance

02/09 The Novel Approach

02/09 Joyfully Jay

02/10 The Zipper Rippers

02/10 The Book Bella

02/11 Divine Magazine

02/12 Bayou Book Junkie

Synopsis

“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”
“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”

Cornwall, 1785

Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.

Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.

No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.

When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.

Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.

But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: highwayman, abduction, ransom, forbidden love, self-discovery, danger, crime,
Genre: Dark romance, historical
Erotic content: Explicit scenes

Length: ~140,000 words (standalone novel)

WARNING: Adult content. Contains violence, distressing scenes, abuse, offensive language, and morally ambiguous protagonists.

Excerpt

The sun was high up in the sky by the time the desynchronized orchestra left Julian’s skull. There wasn’t enough space to properly lie down anywhere in the carriage, but he managed to obtain a comfortable position by resting his legs up the wooden wall while his upper body occupied one of the benches. He still felt like the filling of an enormous rattle as the carriage bent in all possible directions on the uneven road leading away from the coast.

Horace didn’t even make an attempt to hold back his disapproval, but after delivering several biting comments and a lengthy speech about duty, he at last leaned against the side of the carriage in the seat across from Julian and closed his eyes. It was difficult to say whether he was truly in need of a nap or if it was Julian’s face that he didn’t wish to look at.

With his headache out of the way yet not quite well enough to read, Julian opened the curtains in hope of amusing himself with the views, but so far, he merely got to see the side of a narrow gully—all dirt and grass.

He couldn’t understand why Father was being so implacable about having his youngest son marry a title. Couldn’t it wait a fortnight so that Julian could finish that new novel he came up with last night? This one could truly be the breakthrough Julian had been waiting for, the one that would make the Reece family known for more than fabric trade.

Inspiration was a moment in time when Julian’s friend Martin emerged from the darkness of an alley behind the tavern. In that very second he had not resembled himself but a man made of bronze, dreamlike and yet of substance, with strong hands that could crush Julian if they wanted. The novel would start with a similar encounter somewhere in the narrow back alleys, just off the Colosseum. Haunted by the ghost of an ancient gladiator, the protagonist would be believed to be slowly descending into madness, when in reality his awareness of the supernatural would become a vehicle for truth.

Julian was not yet certain of the exact message he wished to convey, but the events would be presented from several points of view, through letters written by the protagonist, his friends, and an official of some sort who’d represent the stale world order.

He’d already had several beautifully evocative ideas for metaphors describing the gladiator himself, but they became somewhat blurry after a night of cards and drink.

Oh, if only he could travel to Rome to let the atmosphere of the city soak him all the way to the bone—without a wife fighting for his attention and pulling him away from work because of feminine fancies.

He looked out of the window with growing disdain. Who in their right mind traveled on Sunday, and so early at that? Julian would have much preferred listening to a sermon at church to spending the day in what was effectively a hearse carrying one of the brightest literary talents just waiting to be discovered.

Now that Julian was feeling better, he was upset with himself about not asking for a day’s delay on religious grounds. He’d never been as devout about prayer as he was about his art, but if the Christian faith could postpone his commitment to a woman he never met, he would gladly kneel and pray. And Miss White wasn’t even a woman but a girl of fifteen, quite pretty in the portrait Julian had been shown, and a viscount’s only daughter at that, but surely as hungry for her intended’s attention as the bawdy house wench who’d become sweet on Julian some years ago.

Back then, he still visited Madame Canard’s establishment to do what everyone else did when they visited a school of Venus. These days, Julian had neither the overwhelming desire nor patience to handle a cunt, no matter how lovely the lady it was attached to. He still enjoyed having a drink with the harlots, and no card table within twenty miles was as lively as the one at Madame Canard’s, but at twenty-five he’d much rather handle needs of the flesh in solitude.

Sweet perfume made his nose itch, the act itself made him unpleasantly sticky—with his sweat and hers—and while he would not dare to ask, it was his suspicion that the friends who usually accompanied him to the brothel were only whoring so much because of pride and bravado. It was a sign of status to be able to afford women and decent wine daily, and so fucking and gambling was the thing you did as a social activity.

Julian’s eyes darted to Horace, who slept with his head thrown back and leaning against the side of the carriage. His wide-open mouth was asking for a distasteful prank, but Julian was far too upset to think of amusing himself at Horace’s expense. So far, the day’s joke was on him.

In the years past, he’d been mocked by his father and siblings over not taking on a profession that they deemed worthy of a gentleman, but with the family being very prosperous, Julian saw no reason to divert his focus from his one true calling.

Despite frequent threats, he’d hoped that Father—having four willing sons and three daughters—wouldn’t push Julian into marriage, but it seemed a lost cause. Soon it would be a wife nagging Julian to stop wasting his time following intellectual pursuits and instead turn his attention to practical matters. As the head of his own family, maybe he’d even be pushed to join the family trade, one step farther from traveling abroad to meet the great artists of the continent.

The carriage started a steep climb up a hill, and Julian cursed, pushing the soles of his boots against the wall to keep his body from rolling off the narrow bench. How long would it take for them to reach London at this pace? It was over two hundred miles away, so a week perhaps? The last time Julian had made the journey, he was so intoxicated most days that he couldn’t properly count them.

But out of nowhere, as the slope of the hill became gentler, the ugly dirt and grass that had been Julian’s only source of entertainment for the last half an hour were replaced by lush greenery of tree tops. He grinned and glanced at Horace, but the fat sod was too busy snoring to notice the change in scenery.

A wicked plan was starting to take shape in Julian’s head, and he quietly removed his feet from the side of the carriage and lowered them to the floor. Pulling himself upright was easy enough after that, and he stalled, eyes transfixed on the permanently flushed face of his brother that was an unappetizing contrast with the white wig he wore, and made him look like a man many years his senior. Julian might be less inclined to business, less sedate than his siblings, but at the very least he had good taste and flair most of Julian’s family lacked, buried deep in the stern world of pretense and money.

Horace didn’t even stir. The old pig was fast asleep, and if that wasn’t Julian’s chance to save his life, he didn’t know what was. Careful not to make any sound, Julian gathered his valise and the coat he’d earlier taken off because of the heat, stilling when the carriage came to a halt. His eyes immediately darted to Horace, but his brother only smacked his lips in his sleep. Hunt could have stopped to relieve himself. What an opportunity this was!

Julian could feel his heartbeat in his throat when he softly pressed on the door handle. Still distinctly aware of his brother being close enough for their knees to touch, were Julian not careful enough. He opened the carriage and left it in a soft stride before closing the door with care.

A warm breeze combed through his hair, wiping away the unpleasant wetness of sweat, and his lungs filled with fresh air, but he didn’t get to enjoy it.

The shining muzzle of a pistol was grinning at him from inches away.

Despite the warm weather, Julian’s whole body was shaken by a chill when his gaze met a pair of eyes so dark they might as well have been lacquered coals. The man had a tricorn hat pulled low over his forehead, and a black scarf obscuring the lower half of his face.

This can’t be happening.

“Don’t try to scream, or I will blow your brains out.” The man squinted and lowered his gun to Julian’s pupil. “Through the eye.”

Julian opened his mouth as his throat closed, robbing him of breath. He wanted to look back, suddenly wishing Horace weren’t such an easy sleeper, but Hunt was nowhere to be seen either. Heat washed over Julian’s body, making him stiffen as if he were made of clay. Had this man hurt their coachman? If so, where was the body?

“What do you want?” Julian whispered, resting his hand on the door handle when his knees softened.

“These.” A hand in a leather glove gripped Julian’s sweaty fingers and slipped off his rings. “And all your other valuables.” The man didn’t even blink, his voice dark as if dragged through tar.

Julian stared, and his mind finally came up with the answer for what this was. “You’re a highwayman…”

“And you’re cork-brained to travel on a Sunday when the roads are empty.” The man’s gaze drifted away to Horace for a split second, but he must have judged him as no threat, and when Horace snored from inside the carriage, the highwayman chuckled quietly.

Julian’s lungs emptied, and a silly grin emerged on his face, encouraged by the highwayman’s amusement. “Ah, I should have gone to church after all.”

The smile died on his lips when the robber poked Julian’s temple with his gun.

“Your valuables,” he urged.

Julian clenched his teeth when they threatened to clatter. He needed to keep calm. His father believed his friends to be villains, so he could handle one. “I’ve been taken out of the tavern this morning with nothing but the clothes on my back. I lost everything at the tables. You should try my older brother. He’s Father’s heir. He should have a healthy sum on him.”

The highwayman gripped the front of Julian’s waistcoat and pulled him forward so hard Julian stumbled straight into the man’s arms. He was much taller than Julian, with wide shoulders that were so strong their size couldn’t be just padding. His clothes smelled of leather and horse sweat, and Julian found himself staring into the eyes above the black scarf.

Before he could say a word, the man turned him around, and pressed the gun to the side of his head.

“Go on, wake up your brother.”

Julian breathed in and out, stiff with discomfort at the warm body pressed against his back as if the highwayman was seeking warmth. The gun provided some relief against heated skin. Its presence made Julian’s blood speed through his veins. It wouldn’t go off. Murder wasn’t in the robber’s interest, but if that was the case, then where the hell was Hunt?

Then an idea illuminated Julian’s mind. “I have a proposition, Mister—”

The highwayman stilled. He’d be lying. Of course. “Noir,” he said in the end. “What kind of proposition can you have, pretty boy? With no money in your pockets.”

Something about Noir’s tone sent a hot shiver through Julian’s ribcage, but he ignored the condescending words and slowly looked back into the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. “I don’t have much on me, but you must know my father. He’s William Reece, the cloth merchant. You could take me and ask for ransom. We could split it between us like two gentlemen,” he whispered and gave Noir a polite nod. Appealing to the highwayman’s self-importance should do the trick. His kind were known for a love of opulence and status they didn’t deserve.

He must have managed to surprise the thief, because Noir’s grip on him faltered. “How much could I ask for a son who hates his father?”

Julian exhaled in relief when he felt Noir’s aggression turn away from him. “A lot. He needs me. I’m worth more than you can imagine,” he said with a small smile.

Noir stole another glance at Horace sleeping in the back of the carriage, and his gloved hand slid to Julian’s neck, squeezing around his nape in a way that had Julian rising to his toes. “You better be. You scream, or try to run, and I will kill you.”

Julian swallowed against the warm, soft leather. It felt surprisingly expensive. Might have been snatched from a gentleman. “I don’t doubt that,” he lied. “However, we share a common goal, friend.”

“Call me ‘friend’ once this is all over.” Noir shook his head and pushed Julian behind the carriage, where a gloriously jet-black stallion awaited its rider, and watched Julian with eyes as dark as Noir’s.

“I hope you haven’t hurt our driver. He’s a good fellow,” said Julian, smiling at the huge beast in front of him.

“He’ll live. Your brother will find him once he wakes up.”

Julian was sure there had to be a hint of a smile under that black scarf. When Noir put the gun inside his coat, Julian tried to assess the man more thoroughly.

The black leather riding coat was worn but of good quality. Could have been stolen too, but the clothes underneath, as black as everything the man wore, were clean, suggesting the highwayman wasn’t sleeping rough somewhere. Unless he dressed up for robbery.

Julian opened his mouth to comment on the beauty of the horse, but Noir spun Julian around and pulled back his hands.

“Good heavens. We’re partners,” Julian whispered with distaste. Hot and cold sweats were hitting him in rapid waves, and he couldn’t tell whether he was scared or excited about this new development. Once he got out of this, he could write a novel about the peril of travellers attacked by rogues while driving through a dark, rainy forest, and with a bit of poetic license, call it a true story.

“I haven’t decided on that yet,” said Noir, and a cold shiver went down Julian’s back at the proficiency with which the man tied his hands. A former sailor perhaps? That wouldn’t bode well, as those types rarely possessed the intellectual capability for complicated schemes. His speech was also far too refined to have been only recently acquired. Damnation!

“Mr. Noir. I’d much rather ride with my hands free. You see, I’ve been incapacitated by gin just this morning, and I don’t feel secure enough without my hands to assist me yet. I assure you, I am harmless.”

Once Noir had tied Julian’s hands, he turned him around. “Now you are. Up.” And just as Julian was wondering how exactly he was supposed to climb atop the tall beast, the scoundrel grabbed his legs and picked him up. Julian barely refrained from screaming. It was no way to handle a gentleman, and yet he couldn’t help but be amazed by Noir’s physical prowess.

Definitely a sailor. A naval officer, perhaps.

Julian’s face flushed with heat when he imagined his bottom sticking out like a whore’s ass at a party. Good grief, what had he gotten himself into? What was next? Being kidnapped by pirates?

His foot found the stirrup, and he exhaled with relief, pushing his other leg over the horse’s hindquarters until he straddled its back. “I see no reason for this kind of treatment, considering it was I who came up with a most lucrative opportunity for you.”

“Keep that up, and I will gag you.” Noir was quick to get on the horse himself as soon as he’d attached Julian’s coat and valise to the saddle. Julian felt completely overwhelmed when the man reached for the reins, all but embracing him.

Julian shuddered and curled his shoulders to not be in the way, though no matter what he did, the shape of the saddle brought them close together. “You’re a scoundrel. Another man in your profession would have treated me right.”

Noir laughed darkly. “You are correct, sir. How could I have forgotten.” Even though the mockery had him exaggerate the polite accent, Julian was becoming certain that Noir’s natural speech was not that of someone uneducated.

Before Julian understood what was happening, Noir pulled a burlap sack over his head.

“I will scream,” whispered Julian, staring through the dots of light in the smelly thing. He squeezed his hands into fists and pushed them hard against Noir’s stomach. His mind was rattling again, as if the drunkenness returned with full force.

“No one will hear you where we’re going.”

“Julian?” came a sleepy voice from the carriage.

Noir’s thighs tensed, and he must have urged his mount to rush, as it went almost straight into gallop.

Julian screamed at the top of his lungs. “Horace!”

The stallion flew forward, and without the aid of his hands, Julian was forced to hang on to it with his legs alone, shaken like a rattle. The rapid gait moved him back and forth over the front of the saddle, making Julian stiffen and push back against the firm chest behind him. Without seeing where they were going, Julian tried to hold on to anything he had on hand, and as it happened, it was probably Noir’s waistcoat. If the horse tripped, at least they would stumble and break their bones together. Or maybe the villain would cushion Julian’s fall in a well-meaning act of God.

It was Sunday.

 

Meet the Author

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are mistaken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite being over thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

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A Lila Review: Revolutionary Temptation by Silvia Violet

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

revolutionary-temptation1777 New York City

The American colonists are fighting for their independence, but the battlefield is not the only place to wage war. When General Washington’s head of intelligence asks Captain Jack West to spy on the British in New York, Jack agrees, despite reservations about this ungentlemanly pursuit.

Jack’s contact in the city recruits bookshop owner Elias Ashfield, an impeccably dressed sensualist who flaunts his desire for both men and women and seeks a place in high society. Jack longs for a simple life guided by clear principles. Eli is a risk-taker who knows how to get what he wants. And he wants Jack in his bed.

Events in Jack’s past have made him fearful of acting on his secret craving for a man’s touch, but Eli intrigues Jack as much as he infuriates him. As Jack and Eli search for the information the rebel army needs, they realize there’s more between them than mere lust. But finding a way to be together may prove more difficult than defeating the British Empire.

Revolutionary Temptation is the first LGBTQ+ story I read taking place during the American Revolution. It was interesting to see the mix of fictional characters interacting with historical ones. The author did an excellent job placing the story, and getting the reader into its historical frame.

The book does start slow, but it’s necessary. We get to see Jack and Eli individually and interacting with Mrs. Sullivan–who acts as a third main character. And that, I think, is where my issue with the story starts. This book is a two in one–a romance & a literary fiction story.

I wish we got more of the fiction element than the romance, though. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Jack, Eli, and their love. I simply wanted that it to merge better with the overall arc. Sometimes, I expected to know more about their work for the rebels, just to have it interrupted by the romance; and vice-versa.

The emotions and intrigues in this story run high. There’s plenty of smexy scenes and page-turning moments. The amount of detail is up-to-par and most secondary and supporting characters had a point and a story to be part of the book. I’m looking forward to more about Eli’s, Jack’s, and Constance’s adventures. The author has a great fictional world to work with.

I’m sure it was hard to find models to fit the period and Jack’s & Eli’s characteristics, but Meredith Russell did a good job adjusting the cover to fit the story.

Sale Links: Smashwords | Amazon | Payhip 

ebook, 254 pages
Published: January 17, 2017, Silvia Violet Books
ASIN: B01N2ZPANE
Edition Language: English