A Mika Review: Crash & Burn (Cut & Run #9) by Abigail Roux

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5 :

Crash & Burn coverIt’s been five years since Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett first worked together to solve the Tri-State murders, and time has been both harsh and kind. Engaged now, they face the challenge of planning a deeply uncertain future together. Zane is at the pinnacle of his career with one last mystery to solve, while Ty is at sea in a world where he’s no longer the tip of a spear.

There’s just one more hurdle in the way of their happy ever after: a traitor from their inner circle who threatens to burn their world to the ground.

Squeezed between the Vega cartel, an unknown mole, and too many alphabet agencies to count, Ty and Zane must gather all their strength and resources to beat the longest odds they’ve ever faced. To make it out alive, they’ll need help from every friend they’ve got. Even the friends who might betray their trust.

I love you, Ty & Zane, you both have opened up so many people’s eyes and hearts with your love for each other. I will never be able to talk about my m/m love without ever mentioning you guys!

 I’m so proud of myself for being able to read this without spoiling it for people. I basically updated my reading status and that’s it. I was a nervous wreck reading this book. I missed the email when I got home yesterday because I was watching Being Mary Jane and her antics. Then I decided to grab my kindle during the commercial break and holy S*&%$ it was there. I started reading straight through. I think I took one bathroom break, and grabbed a box of Kleenex.

I was worried how Abigail Roux was going to wrap up an entire series in one book. She did it. I was happy with everything that happened between these two. I laughed, cried, was on edge until that very end. Everyone knows I am absolutely Team Zane, but you can’t be Team Zane without being Team Ty as well, they just don’t work well without each other.

This book had some of the emotional scenes every throughout the entire series. I loved that she brought back the gang together, threw in some old faces, family and everything came full circle. There are some things that I am confused or don’t believe it should have happened, but it’s something I’m going to have to deal with. I don’t have the usual words of my loving reviews because this is fresh after sleep and I’m still sensitive to the acts involved in this book. I think everything flowed together. I want to write about my favorite scenes but I can’t without spoiling it. I’m just going to smile while thinking of them.

Do I wish down the line we can see the company man? Sure, I actually hope to see them sooner than later. I love the dedication, strength and love that Ty and Zane decided to dedicate to each other. Thank you two for sticking together for us. Thank you , Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux for bringing these two into the world.

Cover Art by L.C. Chase, One big explosion is definitely right. From page 1 to the very end it’s non stop with the twist and turns. I liked it. I would have preferred them as a couple but that’s hopeless wishing!

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing     All Romance (ARe)      Amazon Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 419 pages
Published March 28th 2015 by Riptide Publishing (first published March 1st 2015)
original titleCrash & Burn
ISBN139781626492028
edition languageEnglish
seriesCut & Run #9
charactersTy Grady, Julian Cross, Preston, Nick O’Flaherty, Liam Bell

A MelanieM Review: Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Waiting for the Flood coverTwelve years ago Edwin Tully was happy.  Edwin was in love with Marius, had been since college.  They had found a perfect home, a cottage by the river in Oxford.  Edwin rescued and restored the books while Marius painted.  It was a wonderful life. Until it wasn’t.  Until 2 years ago when Marius informed Edwin he didn’t love him anymore and Edwin discovered his happy life was a lie.

Now Edwin’s life feels hollow. He still loves the work he does but he lives alone in his house meant for a forever two, tending only to his elderly neighbor, his books and his memories.  Until the rains come and the waters in the river start to rise, threatening his neighborhood and his house.

The rains and flooding bring Adam Dacre from the Environment Agency. An unlikely knight in  worn wellingtons, Adam offers Edwin his help, and his friendship and something more.  Adam offers Edwin the promise of a new “us” and the hope for a new beginning.  Now if only Edwin can gather his courage to give his heart away one more time.

Alexis Hall, Alexis Hall, how is it that it took 2 recent stories for me to find you?  Twice now you have managed to blow me away with your lyricism and virtuosity with the English language.   First it was Sand and Ruin and Gold, and now Waiting for the Flood, a stunning  story whose words are strung together like pearls and whose characters move with a quiet, fluid determination and respect through the current events and past traumas of their lives.   I kept wanting someone to come and read it out loud to me so I could close my eyes and savor the words and sentences the way a person might sit in the dark listening to their favorites symphonies.

This is our introduction to Edwin Tully:

When I tell people what I do, they always want to know if I’ve worked on anything famous. The Ben Johnson Shakespeare. The Austen juvenilia. The Abinger papers.

I have, but these aren’t the projects I cherish.

What I like are diaries and letters, commonplace books and ledgers, calendars, invitations and almanacs: the everyday documents of nobody in particular. Ephemera, it’s called. From Ephemeridae, those frail-legged mayfly, with their lace- and-stained-glass wings, who live only for a day.

I wonder, sometimes, if it’s a strange occupation, this semi-obsessive preservation of the transitory. But, whereas for some people history is a few loud voices, declaiming art the and making war across the centuries, for me it’s a whispering chorus of laundry day and grocer’s bills, dress patterns and crop rotations, the price of tallow.

 

What becomes clear almost immediately is Edwin’s love and knowledge of words.  The reason why Edwin feels and talks (or doesn’t talk) the way he does becomes understandable and real for his character., even more so as he is forced by Adam and his attraction to Adam into conversation. But its as the rains fall and the water rises that Edwin and the reader take measure of what his life has become, complete with empty spaces on the walls where Marius’ painting once hung and the dust in the room that Edwin no longer uses.  It’s sad, intimate and Edwin’s loneliness and stasis comes sharply into focus. And the more time we spend inside this smart, isolated man’s mind, the more completely we take him to heart.

And then there is Adam Dacre, a character who continues to surprise scene after scene.  He rises out of the water, carrying sandbags, a warrior in wellingtons, who sees a future in Edwin.  When Edwin finally ventures out to find some sandbags, he discovers Adam:

A laugh. But it wasn’t unkind. “Aye, really.”

At last, I was able to look at him, connect the voice to a body, and resolve them both into the impression of a person. Awkward height and ungainly limbs stuffed untidily into orange waders and Wellington boots. He turned away, and began to unhook the sides of the truck.

I stared at the back of his neck and at his hair, which was a schoolboy tousle only charity would have called red. It was orange, carrot, ginger, marmalade, shining like an amber traffic light, tempting you to try your luck and run.

Mrs. Peaberry, his intrepid neighbor, is another joy and cornerstone here. Her presence helps to anchor it, giving it a foundation and an observant voice for Edwin and the reader to listen to. I adored Mr.s Peaberry, with her stoic nature and kindness.  And outside of a few mentions of other people, that’s about the extent of the characters here.  This is an intimate stage, the location in or next to Edwin’s cottage that is being closed off from the world around it by the rising waters. Although in truth, it’s Edwin who has closed it off with his memories and refusal to move forward.  Its his path forward towards hope and love, however halting, that glues all the fabulous sentences and word choices together and brings the heart of the story alive.

So many analogies here, so many interesting formats and structures to look at and enjoy.  Each chapter is labeled with a part of Edwin’s home.  And his memories precede the start of each chapter.  We enter the story by means of Chapter One, The Front Door.  Through it lies Edwin, entombed in his past, waiting for something or someone to jostle him out of the rut he has gotten himself into.  Chapter after chapter we move through the rooms and Edwin’s memories, followed by the events happening in the present.  It’s a wonderfully engaging structure and it pulled me in completely.

Chapter one: The Front Door

Is green.

With frosted glass panels and a big chunky knocker. The bell doesn’t work. Has never worked. He remembers that first viewing, standing in front of it, expectant, hopeful, hand-in-hand with Marius.

He remembers, like his first kiss, the first time he put the key in the lock, turning first the wrong way, then the right, fumbling over the not-yet-familiar gesture.

It’s heartbreaking, and true, these gentle slices into the heart by means of memory of happier times.  I could really quote this story all day.  Hall’s use of language and structure mirroring that of a composer’s use of notes and chords to build a sonata or symphony, the lyricism is the same. This story so like a melody in composition and fluidity.

That water, the flood, is the force majeure is one more sparkling element in Waiting for the Flood.  While floods these days are considered catastrophic, we forget that they are a necessary part of nature, that floods act to cleanse and renew, washing away the debris even as the retreating flood leaves behind sediment that fertilizes the soil, allowing for new growth and new beginnings. That’s exactly the role that the flood plays here.  The delight is Edwin’s journey through the waters and out into a bright new future.  It’s one I will make again and again.

Just as Sand and Gold and Ruin was one of my Best of 2014, Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall has already found itself on my Best Books of 2015 list.  I highly recommend it and, its author Alexis Hall to all readers and lovers of the written word. And don’t over look the delightful surprise at the end.  It’s a recipe for Edwin’s not always successful Elderflower Wine.   It’s as fascinating, joyful and resourceful as you could want.

Cover artist Simone did a lovely job but any cover would be hard put to match the magical story  found within.  Only the cover of Sand and Gold and Ruin came close.  This is not that cover in tone or design.  I wish it was.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing     All Romance (ARe)      Amazon    Buy It Here  (links to follow)

Book Details:

ebook, 95 pages, available for preorder
Expected publication: February 23rd 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626492700 (ISBN13: 9781626492707)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://riptidepublishing.com/titles/waiting

It’s “Hell On Wheels” when Z.A. Maxfield Goes To Bluewater Bay! (Book tour and contest)

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HellOnWheels_TourBanner

Z.A. Maxfield is here with Hell On Wheels, the latest Bluewater Bay story and one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Must Read Stories!BWBlogo_Web

Check it out below and don’t forget to enter the contests Z.A. Maxfield has for all of you to enter. Hell On Wheels coverWelcome, Z.A. Maxfield.

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Many, many thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for inviting me to be here today to share my latest book release, Hell On Wheels.

While I was writing this book, one of the things that struck me was how much I enjoy writing characters who don’t do what one expects them to do. I think this goes back to my love of the screwball comedies of the thirties, to actors and actresses like Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, William Powell and Myrna Loy.

The dialogue was snappy. The comebacks often sarcastic and witty, and there’s sophistication, even in films like Duck Soup, which has more physical humor than I normally care for. I wanted to be Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. I wanted to be Barbara Stanwyck The Lady Eve.

Here’s my list of top five screwball comedies, the ones I found most memorable, and the ones that color my perception to this day. I’m not numbering them because ‘sniff” I love them all and I’d hate to pick a favorite.

It Happened One Night – what is not to love about this. Between Clark Gable’s manly chin and Claudette Colbert’s legs, nothing can go wrong here. Add the road trip realities of hitchhiking with crazies and bad motels and toss in some of the best dialogue ever, and well. DO not miss out on a classic.
The Thin Man – William Powell and Myrna Loy drink their way through a mystery. With a dog. Because Myrna Loy’s face when she says “Nicky, Darling.”
His Girl Friday – Yes. Santa Clause. There really was Rosalind Russell. And she wasn’t just a pretty face. She’s funny and acerbic in this film, and held every bit of cinematic ground against handsome scene-stealer Cary Grant. And she wore a dumbass hat.
Bringing Up Baby – Cary Grant again, with Katherine Hepburn this time, and a leopard named Baby. That’s right. I said a leopard. Comedy is serious business.
My Man Godfrey – Special because its social message is timeless. Carole Lombard is simply radiant in this film and William Powell is handsome and sarcastic. These films set the gold standard of romantic and class comedy for the time in which they were filmed.

Many of these gems are available on Netflix. Check them out today!

My Blog Tour giveaway plan is as follows:

1. Comment here for the chance to win an ebook. My assistant William will randomly pick a winner for each blog I visit, and that person will win an ebook of their choice from my backlist.

2. For the Hell On Wheels Tour Rafflecopter giveaway, I will be awarding one lucky reader with a 25.00 gift certificate for Amazon. The giveaway will conclude at midnight on December 8th, at which time we’ll choose a winner.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

3. There are many ways to enter, and some can be done more than once. Give yourself lots of chances to win by following along the blog tour and commenting.

Here’s the book’s official blurb:Hell On Wheels cover

Nash is the reliable one in the Holly family, the guy everyone counts on to keep things going. His genius twin brother is off at university, so Nash runs the family’s auto repair business and cares for his partially-paralyzed little sister while his crackpot father invents. His life seems mapped out for the foreseeable future, however much that might chafe.

So when Wolf’s Landing actor Spencer Kepler-Constantine lands in his life, Nash is ready for a diversion. Spencer is in the middle of a very painful, very public divorce and isn’t ready for a relationship—not that Nash wants one. But they both need a friend, especially one with benefits.

As they grow closer, Nash starts to see his family in a whole new light. Do they really need him so badly? Or does he simply need to be needed? Then Spencer’s ex reappears with a grand romantic gesture, and Nash has to figure out what he wants—and how to get it—before Spencer’s gone for good.

– Check out more about Hell On Wheels at Riptide Publishing’s  page.

About the Author

Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Readers can visit ZAM at her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.

A MelanieM Review: Semper Fi by Keira Andrews

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 The war is over. The battle for love has just begun.

Semper Fi coverLittle did  Jim Bennett and Cal Cunningham know what the future had in store for them when they met abroad the train bound to South Carolina and the training ground for the Marines.  The time is 1942 and WWII is underway.  From that initial meeting, a strong bond was forged, one that would see them through the rigors and pain of Parris Island where they became Marines then across the ocean to the Pacific campaign where the horrors of Guadalcanal and Okinawa awaits them.  And through all the blood, tears and anguish, the bond grows from friendship to love at least for Cal, a love undeclared, buried and forbidden.

After the war, Cal stays connected to Jim from afar until Jim’s wife dies. Then Jim’s need for Cal’s help overrides Cal’s plan to stay away from the man he loves and he arrives at Jim’s farm thinking to stay just a short time.  But Jim is a man in pain, suffering from PTSD and with an orchard and two small children to care for.  The bonds between them snap back into place and the loves Cal holds for Jim is stronger than ever.  But what happens when Jim begins to see Cal in a new light? Soon their relationship starts to deepen in ways neither expected. Can they build a life together as a family and find happiness in a world that would condemn them?

With Veteran’s Day almost upon us, I can’t think of a more appropriate time to recommend you discover this poignant and heartwarming novel Semper Fi by Keira Andrews, author of A Forbidden Rumspringa.  A richly layered saga of a love that begins on board a rickety train bound for Parris Island in the year 1942, the story continues through the war years and ends in 1957.  All the social upheaval, all the National milestones that came with WWII, it’s all here, bound up in an intimate tale of the struggle for love and family.

From the moment we encounter these men on the train, we know that these men are remarkable.  These characters exude a vitality perfect for their ages while brimming over with an authenticity of the times and the impact that Pearl Harbor had upon the nation.  Young men were eager to enlist and serve their country, a naive enthusiasm that is quickly dispelled by their Drill Sargent and the rigors of boot camp at Parris Island.  Keira Andrews has done her research for the history and minutiae incorporated into the story are factual while overlaid by the emotions and physicality of their situation and the times.  We experience “the breaking down to build up” that goes on in boot camp.  It’s humiliations, pain, and hardship that have to come before the rewards that the men go through.  And throughout it all we feel the bonds growing into place between Jim and Cal.  This deep emotional attachment that forms soon includes the readers in its intimacy and scope which translates well when the story moves into 1948 and Jim’s small home town.The characters of Jim Bennett and Cal Cunningham, both from New York but separated by social status, wealth, and self knowledge, are men who will capture your heart with their struggles and journey towards a loving relationship that must always be secretive and unacknowledged by those around them.

The author has chosen an unusual format here. Each chapter includes two different time perspectives.  One in the “present” 1948 and Jim’s Clover Grove Orchard in upstate New York, then it returns to 1942 and the start of Jim and Cal’s relationship and journey through WWII.   I hate to call this a flashback because it doesn’t feel that way.  More a turn of a prism that incorporates the whole of someone’s life journey.  A twist of the crystal and another facet comes into the light before turning once more.  We start out in 1948 as Cal arrives at Jim’s farm.  Then its 1942 and they are meeting on a train to South Carolina and training camp.  Each chapter moves the story forward in each time frame.  Far from being disjointed, this format serves to bring balance and a deep sense of history to the scenes occurring in 1948.  The men in 1948 are still trying to deal with the devastating emotional and physical aftermath of the war.  The men of 1942 are so young in outlook and naivete, a viewpoint that is eroded by war time experiences full of blood, horror and death.  And the reader is there with them …on the beaches, in the sweltering jungles of the Pacific, and the pounding bombardments of artillery fire from both sides.  And it all happens so gradually, while interfaced with scenes from the present, that we don’t even realize at first that their pain and suffering has become ours as well.

Another important element of the times and story?  The need for homosexuals to stay hidden even as they search out like individuals in situation after situation plays out again and again here.  The desperation and hunger that is found in the darkness and anonymity for people like Cal comes across the pages with a realness that almost hurts.   Cal has always know he was “queer” and the implications that it has had on his upbringing and outlook.  Jim?  That’s a far more complex and hidden aspect of his personality, one he doesn’t deal well with.  For him, his feelings are a “sin”. Their situation is fraught with peril, full of subtle touches and emotional support and the joy of discovery and the pain that arrives as well makes this story one you won’t soon forget.

There is a mystery to unravel, believable children to win over, and always a relationship in flux between two characters we have come to love.  I can’t recommend this story enough.  With Semper Fi, Keira Andrews now has two books in Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words “Must Read” Top Lists of 2014. This story will tug at your heartstrings while making our past and the sacrifice of so many young men feel immediate and haunting.  Pick up both stories today and start your journey with this remarkable author.

Cover design by Dar Albert is as lovely and haunting as they story itself.  A top cover any way you look at it.

 

Sales Links:   All Romance eBooks             amazon             Semper Fi

Book Details:

ebook, 320 pages
Expected publication: November 11th 2014 by KA Books
ISBN139780993859854
edition languageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Red Dirt Heart (Red Dirt #1) by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Welcome to Sutton Station: One of the world’s largest working farms in the middle of Australia – where if the animals and heat don’t kill you first, your heart just might.

Red dirt Heart CoverCharlie Sutton runs one of the largest working ranches in middle Australia, Sutton Station.   It is something he was born to do and Charlie can’t picture himself anywhere else even if he feels his sexuality would make him an outcast not only among the people he works among but the other stations and store owners he does business with as well.  The recent death of his powerful, overbearing father has done nothing to still his father’s voice inside his head that threatens his self worth and instills Charlie with a fear about being gay and out. Then a new arrival at the station upends the status quo, including Charlie’s perceptions of himself and the Sutton Station family.

American agronomy student Travis Craig arrives for a work study internship at Sutton Station.  Travis feels that his background as a Texas rancher and college area of study will help him fit in while hoping his studies will be beneficial to both countries.  While Travis expects to research how the Australian farmers make a living from one of the harshest environments on earth, he doesn’t expect to find that he learns to love not only the harsh beauty and red dirt of Sutton Station but Charlie Sutton himself.

Under the intense desert sun of the red dirt of Sutton Station, can two men find love and the ability to have a future together?

Readers, meet my latest obsession and its author, the Red Dirt Heart series by N. R Walker.   All it took was the first paragraph to pull me totally into the life of Charlie Sutton and the Sutton Station set in the Northern Territory (which is about the same size as Lebanon and based on a real working farm).  This author is amazing.  Walker manages to make the people and places in Red Dirt Heart so believable, so vivid, that you will feel the dust and heat enough to feel the need to brush the red dirt off the pages (or Kindle cover) as you read.

The story is told from  Charlie Sutton’s point of view.  That perspective enables Walker to bring all the Aussie terminology, colloquialisms, culture and frame of mind to life.  It also lets us into the heart and soul of this vulnerable, and marvelously complicated young man.  There is so much to Charlie.  From the insidious voice inside his head left by his father that tells him he will never be good enough or “man” enough to run Sutton Station because he is gay to the considerate, smart, and appealing person others find him to be.  What a  great character!

Travis Craig, is his equal in every manner.  A Texas agronomy student who is openly gay, Travis starts to upend Charlie’s life and life at the Sutton Station from the moment he arrives.  Travis not only works himself into Charlie’s heart but the readers as well.  Their dialog together is serious, humorous, and telling in its many meanings and impact.

Every aspect of life at Sutton Station comes across as authentic and real as the red dirt itself.  From Ma in the kitchen to the drovers that work for Charlie, the reader is immersed into the every day experiences of life lived seasonally and the hard work it takes to exist and succeed under some of the harshest conditions known.  It’s not just the romance but all the layers found here in this story and series that makes it work and  resonate deeply with the readers, myself included.   I did say it was my newest obsession, didn’t I?

Red Dirt Heart is that amazing self published story that you want to go telling everyone about.  I couldn’t put it down and then was lucky enough to already have in my possession the sequel to dive into once the first was finished.  And then I wanted more.  I wanted to move to Australia, experience the red dirt and vastness of the Northern Territory and wander until I found a Charlie and Travis of my own.  Trust me, you are going to feel the same.  The third story in the series is almost here.  Pick up the first two and get ready to fall in love with Charlie, Travis, and the Sutton Station itself.

Cover Artist:  Sara York.  I like it.  It works for the story and series branding.

Author’s Note: Please note: This book is set in Australia, using Australian English and lingo

Sales Links:    All Romance eBooks  (ARe)         Amazon                 Red Dirt Heart 1 $1.50 at Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 162 pages
Published February 20th 2014
edition languageEnglish
seriesRed Dirt #1

Books in the series to date in the order they were written and should be read to understand the relationships, events and characters:

Red Dirt Heart 1
Red Dirt Heart 2
Red Dirt Heart 3 to be released early October 2014