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

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Rating: 3.75 Stars out of 5
 
Benjamin Snowley is very ill. He suffers from the sinful affliction of self-pollution or masturbation. His moral descent began the day he caught Frederick Cory kissing, among other things, another boy. Since then he has been unable to stop.
 
Just as his health is taking a turn for the worse he comes across Dr. Tissot, an expert in treating this particular illness. But the unorthodox treatment he suggests might be a tad too overwhelming to follow through until a proposition to a stablehand sets Benjamin on the path of debauchery.
 
Will this unorthodox treatment cure Benjamin of what ails him or will it bring with it a whole new set of ailments to deal with?
 
This book is a fascinating read. It is intriguing how well the authors have managed to spin out the story for this book. I loved the premise of this book; it was bizarre enough to be completely believable. This book’s very well written and makes for a compelling read. This story is undoubtedly hot, but the added intrigue of their actions being forbidden makes it even hotter and somehow Benjamin’s misguided beliefs just give him permission to enjoy even the unlawful whole heartedly even if he might be unaware of it.
 
I really liked the characters of this book because even the most trivial characters in this book left an impression. I especially came to really like Benjamin in all his innocence and wantonness. I felt like the character is very central to making this story work because there has to be this perfect mixture of character traits for the story to not feel or read like it’s completely ridiculous.
 
While the sex in this book is beyond hot, I felt like it was heading into the border of too much of even a good thing can be bad. Because at one point I was like enough with this no-strings attached sex, I want feelings with my sex because at that point in this book I was really missing the kisses and the caresses. Thankfully it lasted for only a little while and the story headed into new terrain soon after.
 
Another point of contention I have with this story is Tom. Tom is an amazing character and I felt like there was a lot of potential between him and Benjamin and the fact that Tom just up and left didn’t feel like a good enough explanation for why he wasn’t the significant other in Benjamin’s life because the scenes between Benjamin and Tom have way more chemistry between the characters than those featuring Frederick and Benjamin.
 
Having said all that, I truly enjoyed the story as it is written. It is a hot, fascinating story that makes for a very enjoyable read.
 
Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I loved the cover for this book.
Sales Link: Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 153 pages
Published March 29th 2017 by Acerbi & Villani ltd
ASINB06XVXF5JM
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Blitz- Bryan T Clark’s Come To The Oaks (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK 


Length: 89,745 words


Blurb

n 1845, as America is drowning in its own racial conflict, in a time when forbidden love has to remain a secret, can two young men find love when one has everything to lose, and the other has nothing?

For Tobias, a young African man, life has ended before it began. Snatched abruptly from his homeland and enslaved into the Antebellum South, grand homes and majestic oak trees meant little to him. Now he is considered the property of other men, but his spirit would not be broken.

The awkward Benjamin Nathanael Lee lives a privileged life. His father owns the largest tobacco plantation south of the Mason Dixon line. Ben wants little to do with the harsh realities of running a plantation—that is, until he meets Tobias, the one person that changes everything for him.

Wealth, greed, and power brought them together. The same now threatens to separate them forever. The two men are on the verge of losing the one thing that matters: their love for one another. Against the odds, they steal off and embark on a journey to find freedom: the freedom to love one another and to live a life without the chains of slavery.

Come to the Oaks is the tale of a forbidden romance—a love forged by two young men as they journey through a land that is tearing itself apart.

Excerpt

In the dead of night, Tobias made his way out into the giant oaks. His heart pounded like that of a cat chasing a mouse as the cool air filled his lungs. Bursting with excitement, he had to slow his steps in the dark, to force his body not to run. They had shared a kiss, and he wanted more. Swiping away at a harassing cicada in front of him, he focused on where he was stepping, listening for Ben as he thought of that kiss.

Tobias smiled when he first heard what sounded like an owl’s call being carried to him on the gentle breeze. Immediately, he knew it was Ben—it was the worst impression of an owl he had ever heard.

Tobias must have been five feet in front of Ben before he saw him kneeling beneath the leafy canopy created by the massive oak trees.

“You’re right, it’s dark out here.” Tobias stopped in front of Ben and started to sit.

“No, not here.” Ben took Tobias by the hand and led him about thirty feet deeper into the grove of oak trees. “Here.” Ben pointed to a quilt spread out over a carpet of dried leaves.

Tobias stood over the small patchwork quilt as he listened for something, anything indicating that they weren’t alone. The rattling buzz of the cicadas and the susurration of the branches swaying above them was all he could hear. Being in the dark didn’t scare him—he was used to running through the jungle at night by himself. So why was he nervous?

Ben lay on the quilt. “Sit down.” A slight smirk brushed his face as he gently patted the quilt beside him. A devilish grin turned the corners of his mouth.

Tobias hesitated before taking a seat. He wondered what was going to happen. Was Ben going to kiss him again? Tobias forced himself to take a breath. When did I get so nervous? I was fine when I left the cabin. A light touch on his hand from Ben caused him to jerk his hand back and suck in a breath of cool air.

“Relax, no one’s out here.”

Tobias sighed deeply. “How long have you been out here?” His eyes had adjusted to the low light of the moon, and he was able to see Ben’s beautiful smile.

“About an hour. Beginnin’ to think you weren’t comin’.” Ben moved in closer to him. Their eyes locked onto one another. Leaning in, Ben gently kissed him. The ever-so-light touch of his lips caused Tobias to gasp for air.

The gentleness in the kiss, the sweetness in Ben’s innocent eyes as they focused solely on him, sent a warm sensation throughout his body. Meeting Ben’s piercing stare, Tobias initiated the next kiss. It was wet and awkward as they struggled to find the place they had been the other day. Feeling a light push across his chest, Tobias realized that Ben was trying to lay him down.

“Wait, wait!” Tobias broke free and sat up. “I’ve never done this.” His heart was pounding as he tried to think of what to say. He could feel his entire body quivering as if he was about to explode.

“Me neither,” Ben murmured, as he reached for Tobias again.

Author Bio


Bryan Thomas Clark is a boisterous extrovert who is a proud member of the GLBT community. After twenty-seven years in law enforcement, he retired in 2015. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bryan now lives in the Central Valley of California with his husband of thirty-one years. Behind his keyboard working on his next novel, Bryan writes gay fiction with an emphasis on a moral dilemmas and M/M romance. On the rare occasions he isn’t writing, Bryan enjoys traveling, following his husband around the state of California to various equestrian competitions, laying by a body of water soaking up the sun, and watching a good movie while snuggled up with his husband on the couch.

 

https://www.facebook.com/Authorbryantclark/
https://twitter.com/bryantclarkx2
https://www.instagram.com/romanceauthor/

Giveaway

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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.

~~~~

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

 ✒︎

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!

✒︎

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

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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.

Sales Links

Loose id

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Book Details:

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