Alex Standish on Writing, Research and her release ‘Changing Tides’ (guest blog and excerpt)

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Changing Tides by Alex Standish
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Buy link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alex Standish today on her Changing Tides tour. Welcome, Alex!

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Hey, guys!

Thank you so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today, I appreciate it. Great name for a blog, by the way. 

One of my favorite things about writing is doing research. For Changing Tides, I spent hours looking through books, watching TV shows and movies, and browsing through the internet. I love researching because I always learn something new, and obviously, it makes the story better, more real, if you will.

With Changing Tides, I learned a lot about the Caribbean Sea and islands, about pirate garb and weaponry, and especially about ships. The naval battles were particularly challenging, but I had a blast writing them, and I’ve got to say I’m quite pleased with the end result. It was difficult to let go when it was done and I’m going to miss my pirates very much.

Blurb 

While most pirates sail in search of riches, Captain Devon Hall, the infamous Phantom of the Caribbean, is driven by vengeance. Devon has sworn to put an end to the corrupt governor of Jamaica and break the ruthless man’s stranglehold in the Caribbean.

When Devon is wounded and stranded on land, an unlikely rescuer comes to his aid. Brett Campbell is nothing like his uncle, the governor, and his goals are not so different from Devon’s. Brett longs for freedom, but his obligations to protect those under his uncle’s control keep him from fleeing. Throwing in with Devon might increase both their chances of success—and survival.

When the governor’s attempts to destroy Devon escalate and place Brett in danger and in the hands of the ruthless and depraved pirate Captain Blackburn, Devon must risk everything to save the man he loves and repay his enemies.

All Devon’s ever wanted is his ship, his freedom, friends who stand by his side through thick and thin, and someone to love. But facing dangers at sea and on land, Devon wonders if they will live to enjoy it all.

Excerpt

On their fourth day at sea, a day after releasing the cruiser’s crew as promised, they spotted the Skull.

Devon coldly studied their formidable adversary. With its fifteen hundred tons of impressive bulk and its numerous artilleries, he knew they were in for a fight. The British cruiser was a good ship, fast, but would not be able to withstand much punishment.

Devon took a deep breath, trying to control his heartbeat. He wanted nothing more than to open fire on the other ship. But as desperate as he was to catch Blackburn, Devon couldn’t risk Brett getting hurt in the resulting melee.

“What are you planning?” Cody asked, a slight quiver in his voice betraying his anxiety.

As fierce and determined as Cody was, sometimes it was easy for Devon to forget just how new to this whole life he was.

“They have got more firepower than we do. And I don’t want to jeopardize Brett’s life, or ours, for that matter.”

“We could keep following them, wait until dark, and then use the cutters to overtake their ship,” Cody said. “Maybe they won’t spot us until it’s too late.”

Devon grinned at him. “We will make a pirate out of you yet.”

Suddenly, there was a flash of light from Blackburn’s ship, and seconds later a large cannonball whistled through the cruiser’s masts.

“They have seen us, Captain,” John shouted.

Devon closed his eyes for a moment, sending a silent apology to Brett. Knowing they had to return fire or be destroyed, he turned to his men.

“Battle stations.” Devon watched the men rush below deck to take their positions while the artillerymen aimed the cannons and firelocks. “Fire,” he ordered.

About the Author

Alex Standish lives in Lisbon, Portugal, a beautiful and sunny country in Europe. She loves to read, travel, listen to good music, rock the vacuum cleaner like Freddie Mercury, and hang out with her friends. When she’s not at her day job or trying to win the lottery, she’s typing away at her laptop, Probie, writing homoerotic romance. She’s a multigenre author, striving to create engaging plotlines and characters that could stand on their own and hopefully tug at one’s heartstrings. In the last eight years, Alex has written one short story and three novels.

Social media info: http://www.facebook.com/xanderstandish

Blog Tour Schedule

August 9 – MM Good Book Reviews https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/

August 14 – My Fiction Nook http://myfictionnook.com/

August 15 – Alpha Book Reviews https://alphabookclub.org/

August 16 – Happily Ever Chapter https://www.facebook.com/happilyeverchapter

August 17 – Love Bytes http://www.lovebytesreviews.com/

August 18 – The Novel Approach http://thenovelapproachreviews.com/

August 21 – Open Skye Book Reviews http://openskyebookreviews.com/

August 22 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words  https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/

August 23 – Dreamspinner Press Blog http://blog.dreamspinnerpress.com/

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Patron by C.B. Lewis

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Theodore Wentworth, who possesses little more than a sharp and well-educated mind, is trying to solicit a sponsor for his studies of Greek antiquity by performing recitations at gatherings of collectors. Desperate for luck and better skills in oratory, in jest, he places a coin at the feet of a statue of Hermes. It seems like coincidence when his fortune turns and a gentleman calling himself Alexander becomes his benefactor. Despite his friend John teasing him about it, Theodore continues to offer tokens to Hermes and sinks himself into his study of the classics.

Alexander encourages Theodore’s interest, prompting Theodore to face desires he tried to put aside years before. As Theodore embraces the knowledge, he must also resist his attraction to Alexander—knowing his feelings are a serious crime in Victorian England.

But the secret Alexander keeps will change everything in a love story for the ages, steeped in taboo, temptation, history, and myth.

Patron by C.B. Lewis was a terrific novelette!  I wasn’t expecting to be quite as captivated by Theodore and his mythological lover as I was.  Lewis weaves a tale of increasing mystery, personal exploration, faith and love set within Victorian England. The author lets us know that Theodore has an open mind and heart by giving him a friend (half Indian) that British society of those times looks down upon. John and his wife (a couple I was swift to take to heart) are Theodore’s best and perhaps only friends.  John even has knowledge of Theodore’s leanings (never acted upon really)  towards men instead of women.    Theodore’s life changes one evening when he lays a coin down at the feet of Hermes, wishing for luck and the best speech of his life during a gathering of great and influential men. Theodore emotes brilliantly.  And the story takes off.

Lewis does a beautiful job of capturing the details of 1860 England, right down to the boarding house where Theodore lives and the clothes he wears.  From the lower to upper levels, we get the entire picture (as much as you can skillfully lay down in 78 pages).  It’s a great atmosphere in which to bring out the wildly romantic mythic element.  It’s in keeping with the times, enraptured as they were with the classics and using Hermes instead of one of the other Greek gods was a usual choice but one I adored.

Little by little, we build up to the ending.  I thought it was exactly right.  But did I want more?  Yes, of course.  You will too.  Such a little gem, this is!

Patraon by C.B. Lewis is a quite, delightful read, especially for those who love the Greek classics, mythology and romance.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Blake Dorner.  Love, love this cover by Dorner.  Its perfect in every way.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 78 pages
Expected publication: June 21st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635335217
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Review: Enlightened (Enlightenment Series #3) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*Happy sigh*

What a wonderful happy ending!  If you’ve read the first two books, you will be so satisfied with this culmination of David and Murdo’s story.  I’m a little sad to leave them behind, but there’s always another reread!

I also found that by the time I finished Enlightened, the titles of each book really started to have new meaning to me.  Provoked introduced David and Murdo not only to each other, but to a new type of attraction that neither had experienced before.  Beguiled showed them discovering new and increasingly fascinating aspects of each other, and letting down some of their internal barriers.  Enlightened found them realizing that not only was a relationship possible, but absolutely necessary, and a source of more happiness and contentment than they ever imagined.  The words, the titles, are a perfect description of the progression of their friendship and love.

The book opens with David still residing at Murdo’s estate at Laverock.  Their time there has been idyllic – a time of quiet companionship, physical exploration, growing mutual respect, and surprisingly an evolving business partnership.  Both men were aware of how fragile and fleeting this time was, but knew it had to come to an end eventually.  The end, however, came in an unexpected and somewhat tragic way when David’s old mentor and Elizabeth’s father, Patrick Chalmers, made a dying request:  for David to find Elizabeth and once again keep her safe from her abusive husband.  Doing so required David to travel to London, and quickly, and leave their protected life in a bubble behind.  Murdo had been putting off going to London for weeks, but he now had a good excuse to delay their parting, so he accompanied David.

London for David was just the place Elizabeth and Euan lived, a place for the job he had to do.  But London to Murdo was so much more – the site of his father’s political machinations and the mistakes that Murdo made trying to live up to his father’s expectations.  Also the place he hid a secret from David that he was afraid would tear them apart – the woman he was engaged to.

That is the only spoiler I will give in this review.  Once that little nugget of information was dropped, the pace of the book sped up and the resolution to their problems was striking, shocking, complete, and perfect.  I loved this description:

The knot of ropes that bound Murdo to his father was Gordian in its complexity and subtlety.  Tonight, Murdo had swept a sword through it, disdaining its cleverness.  Severing it with determination and without concern for the consequences.

With one swift stroke, all the pieces fell into place, and if there was sacrifice, it was worth it.  And they rode off into the Scottish highlands to live in peace and happiness.

I still love the cover art for the series, the models were perfect, but I wish they would have incorporated both models onto this final cover.  I thought Murdo deserved at least as much presence as David in this one…

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published April 23rd 2017 by Joanna Chambers Books (first published May 6th 2014)
ASINB071RK71MR
Series Enlightenment #3

A Caryn Review: Beguiled (Enlightenment Series #2) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Don’t you just love it when a sequel is even better than the original?  Provoked may have been a good book, but Beguiled just blew me away.  I can’t wait to read the last installment, so forgive me if this review seems a little rushed!

Those of you who read my reviews know that I am a huge fan of characterization, and falling in love with the characters is what makes me fall in love with a book.  I am so deeply invested in David and Murdo now, that I am already grieving leaving them behind when I finish book three.  Both men were introduced to the reader and to each other in the first book, and there was a subdued type of adventure going on that introduced the city of Edinburg, as well as all of the secondary characters who reappear in Beguiled.  What makes this second book so appealing to me is the deeper delving into the backgrounds and motivations of both men, the beginnings of their awareness of something new and different, and a slow sea change in attitude.  So, the rest of this review will barely touch on plot!

In Provoked, Murdo was presented as a typical aristocrat, blissfully ignoring the plight of the common man, devoted to pursuing pleasure without the sticky moral trappings of 19th century societal expectations.  He didn’t exactly toy with David, but he made it clear in the very beginning that what he and David had was purely physical attraction.  Although he had been able to dally with men in a bit freer fashion than David because of his wealth and status, emotional attachment was not something he wanted or even considered the first few times they met.  Murdo did not feel that same sex activity was immoral, and also found nothing wrong with marrying a woman while continuing to have sex with men.  David had a much more conventional set of principles, so he not only felt sinful by “indulging” in sex with men, but felt there was something perverted about him that he wanted it.  He viewed marriage as a sacred bond before God, so he would not even consider marrying a woman, much less being unfaithful to her with a man.  Although their motives were different, the result they expected was the same:  sex without emotional involvement.

Beguiled occurs two years after the events of Provoked.  In those two years, both David and Murdo found themselves thinking back on their brief time together in ways that surprised them – with a great deal of yearning, and a sense of something important irretrievably lost.  Meeting again was therefore much more emotional on both sides, and the two years apart broke down barriers in both men.  In this book, David’s inner conscience was much less vehement about declaring him a pervert for wanting men, and he was able to see that there was more between them than just lust and physical release.  Murdo was willing to accept that he wanted more from David, and found himself sharing secrets he never intended to as he opened himself.

Against this impassioned background, the historical events and adventure played out with a great deal more meaning than that of Provoked.  I liked how once again ideas such as universal suffrage and rights of women were presented as incredibly radical (it is so good to live in 2017!), and our heroes – who by nature of their homosexuality were already outside the norm – were willing to embrace those notions as well.

The only thing I really didn’t like about the plot was at the end when David did not tell Murdo his plans for the rescue, which didn’t really make sense when in all other ways they had become so trusting of and necessary for each other.  Painting that decision as another of David’s self-sacrificing moments just didn’t sit quite right with me.  Of course, it created a perfect set up for the next book, but I wish the author could have found a way to achieve those ends without David keeping Murdo in the dark.

On to the final book!

Cover art is again superb.  The model’s intense expression and partially shadowed face are perfect for Murdo.  Even the font of the title is ideal for the picture and the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published April 23rd 2017 by Joanna Chambers Books (first published December 24th 2013)
Original TitleBeguiled
ASINB0722GJFD4
SeriesEnlightenment #2

A Caryn Review: Provoked (Enlightenment Series #1) by Joanna Chambers

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When this series was re-released by Joanna Chambers, I jumped at the chance to review them.  I read them initially a few years ago, and I remember that I thought this first book was only OK, although I ended up absolutely loving the rest of the series.  Rereading it, and knowing some of what was coming next, made me notice all of the ways the rest of the story arc was being set up in this book, that was not clear to me the first time around, and I have to say I enjoyed this book so much more for it!

The series starts with Provoked, told from the viewpoint of David Lauriston, in 1820s Edinburg, Scotland.  David is an advocate, a lawyer who deals with court cases, and at the beginning of the book he had just defended two men who were convicted of treason, hanged, and beheaded.  The case touched him deeply, as in its most basic form it represented the class struggle that was spreading widely throughout Britain during the Industrial Revolution.  David was the son of a farmer, and he and his family worked and sacrificed so that he could become educated as an advocate – though he could speak and act as a member of the middle class, he identified with the lower class.  Although the conviction for treason was almost a foregone conclusion, it was clear that the men were incited and betrayed by an agent provocateur – who got away scot free.

While David was working on getting drunk the night of the hangings, he met Murdo Balfour.  There was an instant physical attraction between the two men, and although David had consistently tried to deny that part of himself that wanted other men, he gave in because he needed the escape, and both men knew they wouldn’t meet again.  David was a little surprised to find Balfour giving him a  tenderness and connection that he had never encountered with a man before, and for the first time he felt regret upon walking away.

Weeks later, David was approached by Euan MacLennan, a man whose brother had also been involved in the case of treason, although his sentence was transport to the prison colonies in Australia rather than hanging.  Euan was determined to find Robert Lees, the agent provocateur he felt was responsible for leading the entire group of weavers into treason, and had a lead that brought him to Edinburg, but he needed David’s assistance to follow it.  David was absolutely opposed to revenge, but he felt responsible for Euan because he was unable to prevent his brother’s conviction, and he reluctantly agreed to help.

When the clues pointed to Lord Balfour, David was caught between his promise to Euan, and his growing certainty that Murdo was innocent.

This book really hit all of my buttons – the characters were complex, and faced with situations that challenged their beliefs.  The search for Lees really was only a backdrop to highlight the interaction and growing attraction between David and Murdo.  David had a very strict and upright moral code, was honest to a fault, but was generous and had a tendency to take on too much responsibility for all the wrongs he saw in the world.  He felt his attraction to men was not only wrong, but damning, and castigated himself every time he gave into temptation.  He didn’t know how to react to Murdo, who felt no shame at all in being with men, and seemed as helplessly drawn to David as David was to him.  Murdo’s point of view was not presented at all, but his responses and reactions to situations indicated a growing fascination with David and his opposing principles.

So even though I know what is coming – although I’ve forgotten many details – I can’t wait to dive into the next book.  I can’t wait to hear what Murdo thinks, and how the men will come together again!

I could not find who created the cover art, but it was perfect.  Granted, David is a red-head, but this model was ideal both in looks and expression, and is now how I think of him.  This cover is much improved over the previous one!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd edition, 202 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Joanna Chambers (first published July 23rd 2013)
ASIN B071YJ254F
Edition Language English

Retro Review Tour for Enlightenment Series by Joanna Chambers

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Covers by Natasha Snow


Provoked (Enlightenment #1) 

 
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK  (FREE till June 17)
 

David Lauriston is struggling to build his reputation in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. His humble origins are enough of a hurdle, never mind his recent decision to defend a group of weavers accused of treason, prompting speculation that he may harbour radical sympathies. The last thing he should be doing is agreeing to help the brother of one of the convicted weavers find the government agent who caused his brother’s downfall.

David’s personal life is no more successful. Tormented by his forbidden desires for other men, and the painful memories of the childhood friend he once loved, David tries his hardest to live a celibate existence, castigating himself whenever his resolve slips. 

But then—into David’s repressed and orderly world—bursts Lord Murdo Balfour.

Cynical, hedonistic and utterly unapologetic, Murdo could not be less like David. Whilst David refuses to entertain the prospect of entering into a loveless marriage for propriety’s sake, Murdo is determined to wed one day—and has no intention of giving up the company of other men when he does so. But as appalled as David is by Murdo’s unrepentant self-interest, he cannot resist the man’s sway.

Murdo tempts and provokes David in equal measure, distracting him from his promise to find the agent provocateur responsible for the weavers’ fate, and forcing him to acknowledge his physical desires.

But is Murdo more than a mere distraction? 

Is it possible he could be the very man David is looking for?

 


Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 

Two years after his last encounter with cynical nobleman Lord Murdo Balfour, David Lauriston accidentally meets him again in the heart of Edinburgh.

King George IV is about to make his first visit to Edinburgh and Murdo has been sent North by his politician father to represent his aristocratic family at the celebrations.

David and Murdo’s last parting was painful—and on Murdo’s part, bitter—but Murdo’s feelings seem to have mellowed in the intervening years. So much so, that he suggests to David that they enjoy each other’s company during Murdo’s stay in the capital.

Despite his initial reservations, David cannot put Murdo’s proposal from his mind, and soon find himself at Murdo’s door—and in his arms.

But other figures from David’s past are converging on the city, and as the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit unfolds around them, David is drawn into a chain of events that will threaten everything: his career, his wellbeing, and the fragile bond that, despite David’s best intentions, is growing between him and Murdo.

 


Enlightened (Enlightenment #3) 



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

David Lauriston has been recuperating at Lord Murdo Balfour’s Laverock estate for the last five months. At Laverock, he has regained his health and confidence and has found—with Murdo—more happiness and contentment than he has never known before.

David is all too aware that some day soon he will have to leave Laverock—and Murdo—and return to his legal practice in Edinburgh, just as Murdo will have to return to his life in London. But when David’s mentor, Patrick Chalmers, asks David to return to Edinburgh to visit him on his deathbed, it seems that day has come sooner than either David or Murdo would have wished.

Chalmers begs David to undertake one last piece of business for him: to secure the future of Chalmers’s daughter Elizabeth. But to carry out his old mentor’s wishes, David must travel to London, with Murdo.

No sooner have the two men arrived in the capital than they encounter Murdo’s ruthlessly manipulative father, who reveals a shocking secret that rocks David to his foundations. What’s more, when David discovers Elizabeth is facing far greater danger than even her father feared, he is determined to help her, no matter the cost to his own safety.

As the stakes rise, it is Murdo who must choose what he is prepared to sacrifice to keep David at his side, and ask whether there is any possibility of lasting happiness for men like them.

June 13 – Bike Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews
June 15 – Keysmash, The Librarian’s Corner
June 17 – Dog-Eared Daydreams, Padme’s Library
June 19 – Jessie G Books
June 21 – It’s About The Book, Sarandipity, Bayou Book Junkie, My Time Out Book Blog, Gay Book Reviews, Ellie Reads All The Books, My Fiction Nook, Urban Smoothie Read, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, From Top To Bottom Reviews, Boy Meets Boy Reviews

 
Author Bio



Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

 

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Selina Kray on the Historical Background for ‘Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo’ (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Selina Kray on her Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo tour. Welcome, Selina!

Hi, romance lovers! I’m Selina Kray, and this is the latest stop on the Stoker & Bash blog tour. A huge thank you to the lovely people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today. I thought I’d talk a little bit about some of the historical details in Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, in which burlesque isn’t really burlesque.

Say the word “burlesque” nowadays, and your mind conjures images of Dita von Teese in a giant champagne glass; sparkly, barely there outfits capped by a giant feather boa; or the camp-tastic film with Cher and Christina Aguilera. Erotic dance as reclaimed by fierce feminists unafraid of expressing their sexuality.

But back in the Victorian era, burlesque titillated both your body and your mind. It started as a way for working class audiences to poke some fun at the classics of theatre, opera, and ballet. The plays of Shakespeare, for instance, would be:

“…adapted into a broad comic play, usually a musical play, usually risqué in style, mocking the theatrical and musical conventions and styles of the original work, and often quoting or pastiching text or music from the original work.” (source: Wikipedia: Victorian Burlesque)

The actors would sing or speak in rhyming couplets, rife with bad puns, and the action of these parodies would often be set to the popular music of the time. Gender-swapping some of the characters was the norm. One of the most popular burlesque performers, Nellie Farren, starred as The Gaiety Theatre’s “principal boy” for over 20 years.

Eventually, theatres combined burlesques with more standard music hall fare, such as singers, comics, skits, dramatic monologues, and dances, into evening-long extravaganzas. The idea was not only to mock the haughty airs and impenetrable verses of classic plays and operas, but to dull some of the sharp-edged plot points of the tragedies. With names like The Bohemian G-yurl & the Unapproachable Pole and Cinder Ellen Up Too Late, you get the sense that audiences and performers alike had a wild, bawdy good time.

In Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, one of my characters is a burlesque performer at The Gaiety Theatre, which specialized in burlesque for 30 years. While I did research what parody was playing in that theatre in October 1873—only to be disappointed when I found out it was based on an opera—I decided to make up my own.

A performance of Robbing Hood and his Mercenary Men sets the stage for one of the most important encounters between the novel’s two leads, Tim and Hiero, and is the background for a lot of the action. So in addition to transporting you back to the Victorian era, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo will also take you to the punny wilds of “Sure Would” Forest.

 
Length: 100,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.


When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?


And just who is Hieronymus Bash?

 

 

Author Bio
 

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.


Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.


If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net

 

 

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A Caryn Review: To Love a Traitor by JL Merrow

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book is a great examples of why I love historicals.  Clearly this was well-researched, with no irritating anachronisms, and I felt like I was right there in inter-war England.  The language is so very appropriate – not only the dialogue, but the somewhat formal prose as well.  The attitudes towards women who had only recently been granted the right to vote, the general feeling of the public about the aftermath of the war and how veterans were regarded, the frequent references to the Spanish flu that ended up killing over a quarter of a million people in the UK – so many authentic details!  It was easy to completely immerse myself in the era, and in the story.  I’ve read several of Ms. Merrow’s contemporaries, and I really enjoyed them, and I feel doing such an excellent job at a historical just showcases her versatility as an author

The story is told from the point of view of Roger Cottingham.  He was a conscientious objector – “conchie” – who was imprisoned for a year at the beginning of the war and then went to work as a cryptographer in the Admiralty.  While there, his brother Hugh was killed on the front lines.  Hugh’s fiancée, Mabel, started hearing rumors after the Armistice that Hugh’s death might have been the result of treason, and Roger vowed to help her find the man/men responsible, and bring them to justice.

Enlisting the help of an old friend from the intelligence section of the Admiralty, Roger finds suspicious circumstances surrounding another officer in Hugh’s regiment, Captain Matthew Connaught.  Roger’s friend can investigate no further, but he did encourage Roger to do a little spying of his own, and set him up with the perfect cover:  George Johnson, who rented a room in the same house Matthew lived in.

Matthew actually was a rather simple character.  He is a veteran who lost his right arm, but managed to maintain a cheerful and optimistic attitude in spite of that.  He just exudes friendliness and integrity, and Roger can’t help but like and admire him – but what does this mean when he is supposed to be spying on Matthew and finding out his wartime secrets?  I loved the struggle Roger/George had trying to reconcile what he instinctively knew to be true – Matthew is a decent man who would never have betrayed his fellow brother-in-arms – with his desire to find out what really happened to Hugh when Matthew was the only clue he had.  Roger’s struggle only intensified when he realized that not only was Matthew also an invert (homosexual), but that they were attracted to each other.  Roger was also fundamentally an honest, forgiving, and peace-loving man, uncomfortable with the duplicity he had to maintain to continue his undercover role, and he spent a good part of the book grappling with those feelings.

The book is primarily character driven, rather than plot driven.  When the mystery was finally revealed, it really wasn’t a surprise to anyone – the characters or the reader.  Learning the different facets of Roger and Matthew as they traveled this journey towards a relationship was my whole enjoyment of the book.  The period details just made it all even better.  The only thing I didn’t like was that Matthew was a little too one-dimensional, but Roger almost made up for that.

Just for fun, check out this really interesting little tidbit of history that was briefly referenced in the book:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_feather.  I love learning new things when reading fiction!

The expression of the model used for the cover art by Written Ink Designs was just about perfect for how I imagined Roger would feel.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published May 6th 2017 by JMS Books LLC (first published September 15th 2015)
ASINB06Y646324

Its Release Day Blitz for ‘The Ties that Bind’ by S. Davidson (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Ties that Bind
Author: S. Davidson
Genre: M/M Fiction
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Cover Art: Rue Volley
Editor: CSL Editing Service
Publisher: Encompass Ink Publishing

Flashback 1990’s – Rollerblades, bungee jumping, the laptop, cellular phones the size of bricks, and AIDS – the gay men’s cancer

This is a story about love, friendship, and family. It is a story about growing up, about trying to change the past and the realization that no matter how fast, or how far we run, that The Ties That Bind us as children, many times come back to haunt us as adults.
We become part of the life of a young counselor, Morgan, who specializes working with homeless, male hustlers. He seems like an angel from heaven to many. He cares deeply for every one of his boys and would literally die to save them from harm. He deprives himself of life’s basic needs in order to reach just one more, but why?Morgan has his own agenda to work out, his own demons to exorcise. While avoiding his own past, he meets a particular young man, Greg, who is able to see through this well-crafted, public image. Greg sees Morgan’s pain and denial. It is in this discovery, this role reversal that Greg, a life-long hustler begins to heal himself. He helps Morgan come to terms with his own violent past. Greg becomes his strength, the knife to cut the rope and release the guilt Morgan has denied for years. Just as they both begin to heal, Greg discovers the truth.The Ties That Bind can sometimes be very restricting but many times we find that The Ties That Bind can also provide our strength.

The Ties That Bind are necessary for the sustenance of life.


A badly warped, archaic recording came on of some disco group of the forgotten past. Slowly, the black shield lifted in front of the room, revealing an oiled up young man, ready to dance. The boy was grinding and gyrating his hips with the best of them when the shade reached the top and he saw who was on the other side.

 

“Hey, Morgan,” he said, stopping his dance.
“Hi, Zack. You’re looking pretty good,” he said.
“I’m sorry.” He began dancing again.
“Stop.” Morgan laughed, thinking it funny that this boy would actually think Morgan was a customer. “I didn’t come for the show. I came to see how you were doing. You disappeared on me.” Morgan popped another quarter in the slot.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Julio glared at Greg. Greg was gritting his teeth, hoping Tomi wouldn’t notice the grip on his upper arm. He knew she would kill Julio.

 

“You do give lunch breaks, don’t you?” Tomi taunted.

 

“Only when he’s the lunch.”

 


Shelly always had a goal to get a book in print. Well, that goal has been met. Another coming June 1, 2017, and one more still in the works. Always finding writing to be a way to escape into another world, M/M fiction is her passion and causing her beautiful boys a bit of agony is just what she does. None of her characters are flawless and most are pretty damn messed up! But they always persist, always try to be the best men they can be and hopefully find a kindred spirit along the way.

Shelly is a mother, grandmother, and has a Bachelor’s in Social Services. Come on over to her Facebook page for current and upcoming release info. While she doesn’t post about what she’s having for dinner or what movie she’s watching, she will give you info on her writing when there is news to share. Just remember, no matter who you are or what beliefs you practice, love is love and we all deserve to love.

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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