A MelanieM Release Day Review: Stetsons and Stakeouts by BA Tortuga

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

Gianni Cesare is a DEA agent and rancher—who also happens to be a millionaire heir to an Italian count. Running a multiagency sting out of his East Texas ranch means he needs a new foreman… preferably someone a little wet behind the ears who won’t ask too many questions.

Gianni’s Aunt Jerilyn hires Bonner Fannin, a roughstock rider with zero ranch experience and a sister who’s pregnant with a violent biker’s twins. If that’s not bad enough, Bonner is pretending he and his sister are married to protect her and to help get him the job.

Gianni didn’t think Bonner was the marrying type during their torrid beach affair years ago, but he’s not sure if he has time to explore that thought now, as overrun as his ranch is with drug cartels, macho government agents, and local cops. Looks like Bonner and Gianni are both in over their heads, and they may have to band together during this adventure to swim rather than sink.

BA Tortuga has set a huge agenda for this story and at 292 pages almost gets it all in. The author is juggling so many plots threads here and just as big a cast of characters to go along with them.

It starts with Gianni Cesare who wears identities like people put on clothes.  He’s Italian count in his father’s side, Texas ranch royalty on his mama’s.  He’s also a DEA undercover agent and millionaire with his fingers in a number of agency “pots”, local and otherwise.  We enter the story just as a drug biker bustup is going south and it introduces us to Gianni, his partner, and associates.  Briefly, just enough to see their camaraderie and the fact they’ve been together a while. It also introduces the fact that whatever they have been working on includes drugs, highways, and Gianni’s ranch being run by his aunt.

Which brings in another group of characters and necessitates the hiring of Bonner, his storythread with his pregnant sister,  and the thug of a biker after her.  I will be truthful here.  I find the sister, her pregnancy the weak section here.  There is, for me at least, ample storyline without her and in the  end she just sort of fizzles away.  I found her whiny and unnecessary.  Surely BA could have found another way to bring these two together other than this sister. And doing an unnecessary injury to the aunt as well.  Nothing about this element ended up satisfactorily with me.

The duo of Sheriff Chris and badboy/vet Xavvy, IT mad guy Colt and medic Mason, even Gianni’s partner Alison, his parents and aunt as well as Bonner’s best friend.  They are all terribly interesting and engaging personalities and the story just doesn’t have time for them all.  Although it tries hard.  And that’s pretty much the issue here.  Each  character/couple has major elements in this novel and for a while get’s a narrative spotlight shone on them.  Just not enough because of the overall plot arc which gets a little murky.  If this is the first in a series, then this is all just the author laying the foundation for future stories to come.  Which I get.

But if this is a standalone, then we are left at the end of this novel with several characters just sort of fading away that had major page time, an aspect of the crime story that is never fully resolved, and a general feeling of “where’s my wrap up?”  And not just with the aunt, or the deputy, or some of the others in the team.  I was just left with a sense of incompleteness somehow. That’s not a feeling I expect in a BA Tortuga story.

Like I said this is a huge novel with a huge agenda and a cast to match.  Somehow I think something got lost here.  Maybe it’s that intimacy, that sense of “knowing” that this author is able to bring to her Texas characters that I never felt with “Gianni”.  He never rang true.  Bonner did, so did the others.  I don’t know.  My usual connection was never made and I missed that.

If you love BA Tortuga, I’m sure you have already grabbed this up.  If its action/adventure you crave, this has some of that as well.  I’m just not sure it all made as much sense as it should have.  I’ll leave that up to you.  Romance?  Check, it’s got that covered!

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  I like the cover with the Stetson and badge.  Simple and yet, catches your eye and tells you about the character.  Like it.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 292 pages
Expected publication: December 11th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640809154
Edition Language English

Release Blitz for Claw Marks & Card Games (Stallion Ridge #2) by Maz Maddox (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Claw Marks & Card Games (Stallion Ridge #2)

Author: Maz Maddox

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Shaleah Poster

Genre/s: m/m romance, paranormal, western, action/adventure

Length: 74 000 words

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Release Date: October 1, 2018

Can be read as stand-alone story.

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Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Blurb

Cooper Woodlock is a man who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Between his gambling debt and being a widowed father, he can never seem to get Lady Luck back on his side.

Desperate for a winning hand, Cooper starts hitting saloons and tempting fate in order to keep the blood thirsty Spades at bay.

When a black clad gunslinger enters the game promising a slice of freedom, Cooper realizes all too late what he is actually playing for.

Excerpt

His cards were a sure thing. He was winning. He was about to double his winnings, and it was making his stomach dance, even as he kept his face schooled. This would ease the tension in his shoulders for a good month after tonight. The Spades would be off his back, and he could figure out his job situation. Hell, he’d even get Marybell some sweets to celebrate. His daughter deserved something nice. 

This beautiful stranger not only saved his life, but was also about to make some of his troubles ease for a little while. As their cards were tossed onto the table and Cooper drank in the sight of each hand, a cold pit formed in his gut. 

He had lost.

Everything.

All the winnings of the night were swallowed up by one goddamn game. Cold sank into his bones as the blood drained from his face, his eyes locked on Gunner’s winning spread. The man didn’t make a move to collect everything. Instead he sat back and pulled a rolled cigarette from his vest and put it between his teeth.

“Guess you were right about your luck,” he said casually, striking a match and lighting his cigarette. The flare of the fire close to his face made his green eyes seem to glow as he focused them on Cooper’s devastated face.

“Fuck,” Cooper whispered, putting his head in his hands, fisting some of his hair in heartbreak. He had been so damn close to getting some peace in his life, and he blew it all in one stupid game of chance. Hell, he had almost died for that pot, and now it was all gone.

Smoke curled around Gunner’s face as he exhaled some smoke from his lips. “Win it back.”

Cooper shook his head, pulling his glasses off to rub at his tired eyes. “I ain’t got it in me. Not after all this.” Cooper huffed. “My head’s turned inside out, and my stomach’s in knots.”

“You have a chance to not leave empty-handed.” 

Cooper glanced up as Gunner reached into his pocket, taking out a stack of rolled bills and tossing it onto the table. If Cooper’s jaw was able to reach the floor, it would have bounced off his boots. That stack was probably hundreds of dollars. Hundreds. Something that would actually put a real dent in what he owed the Spades and give him and Marybell a slice of life back.

Working some saliva back into his cottonmouth, Cooper finally croaked, “I ain’t got that much to wager.”

“What else do you have to wager?” Gunner asked, pulling from his cigarette, his tone deceptively calm. Cooper narrowed his eyes and pulled his glasses back on, sitting up taller to not look so defeated. 

“What are you asking me, exactly?”

About the Author

Maz is an m/m romance fanatic, dabbles in yaoi, adores dinosaurs and writes romance stories with a healthy heaping of adventure mixed in.

When she’s not pairing up Centaurs with bank robbers, she’s plotting new stories and sending inappropriate texts to her friends.

Author Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter: @mazmaddox  

RELEASE BLITZ SCHEDULE

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Hush by Tal Bauer and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

It’s impossible to summarize the “meat” of this story in a single paragraph. Even the blurb only covers part of it, but in a nutshell—Federal Judge Tom Brewer has hidden his sexuality ever since he was a young college grad eagerly looking forward to law school. In the climate of the early eighties, when men were first diagnosed with the new AIDS disease, there was no room for doubt if a young man wanted to become a successful lawyer, so he turned away from everything he was and buried his sexuality very, very deep. Mike Lucciano, the US Marshal assigned to the federal judges protection detail, is an out and proud gay man, and he may just happen to hold the key to that safely locked away heart of Judge Tom Brewer.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Joel Leslie made this story 5 stars for me, though the raw material was certainly exemplary to begin with. This action adventure, complete with political intrigue was done in combo with a beautiful heartwarming MM romance amidst the chaos of a federal court, terrorist plots, and political intrigue.

Action packed, nail-biting suspense abounds in this story. And just when I thought things were going to run smooth, they took a turn toward crazy. And the people? Who do I trust? Who’s guilty? Who’s innocent? Who’s clueless? And who’s simply misinformed? Amazing characters, awesome situations, a grand international adventure—all rolled into one powerful story.

There are plots and subplots, characters to love and characters to hate, and both subtle and not-so-subtle nuances to the importance of any given situation. There’s no doubt Tal Bauer is a storyteller and there’s no doubt Joel Leslie can take that story and run with it. A man of a thousand voices, he brings me to my knees in heartbreak when one of our characters is at death’s door. And he brings an ear-to-ear smile to my face when the joy of finally being the man he should have been able to be all along comes to Tom Brewer.

I very, very highly recommend this story in audiobook format to all lovers of MM romance, especially to those who love older men, action/adventure, political intrigue, and a heartwarming HEA.

~~~

Cover art depicts a man with a gun to the back of his head, set against a background of the metro DC area. Just perfect for the story!

Sales Links:   Amazon  | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Length: 19 hrs and 22 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 05-01-18
Language: English
Publisher: Tantor Audio

An Ali Release Day Review: Darkness (Common Law book 3) by Kate Sherwood

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A murdered prostitute. An obvious suspect. Clear evidence. For once, Jericho Crewe has a straightforward crime to investigate, and Wade Granger isn’t involved.

It all seems so simple, but Jericho’s instincts won’t let him rest. As he investigates, he finds troubling suggestions that the murder is a part of something larger and more sinister. But working within the boundaries of the law may keep him from finding the truth. If Jericho doesn’t break the rules, an innocent man may rot in jail while a killer remains free to strike again.

Inevitably, it all comes back to Wade. Because who else knows as much about breaking rules? And who else knows Jericho the way Wade does—not wisely, but far, far too well?
This book picks up a month or so down the road. Jericho is doing is his best to avoid Wade and he’s continuing to work as an under-sheriff for the town. He’s gets a call on a murdered prostitute and while the case and the bad guy seem cut and dried, Jericho thinks something’s not right. He ends up looking into it in more detail and opens up a more complex case than he initially realized.

Of course along the way he runs into Wade again. These two can’t seem to stay apart. They’re like moths to a flame with each other. The UST between them is off the charts as usual but as this story goes along Jericho decides he’s done fighting it. He doesn’t care what Wade does for a living. He wants him and he knows they’re going to end up together. This leads me to my one complaint with this book. When they finally get together it fades to black. Now I don’t usually complain about that. I’m not they type of romance reader who has to have sex scenes in all her books and in fact many of my favorite series are ones filled with fade to black. I just really hated it in this series because the UST has been off the charts and such a major part of the story. I feel like we were waiting for this really great thing and then it was snatched away before we could enjoy it. *boo, hiss*

I have gone back and forth in this series trying to decide if Wade really is a criminal or if he’s working deep undercover for a law enforcement agency. I’m happy to say I still don’t know. The author has done a great job keeping the air of mystery around Wade and even at the end of the this book I still am not sure how this series is going to end for these two.
Cover by: Natasha Snow I love the cover.  I have loved the covers in this series actually but this is my favorite of them due to the color.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 189 pages
Published March 6th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626495319 (ISBN13: 9781626495319)
SeriesCommon Law #3

Blog Tour: Adrift by Isabelle Adler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Adrift

Series: Staying Afloat, Book 1

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 30

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66000

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, NineStar Press, sci-fi, futuristic, aliens, military, smugglers, pirates, demisexual, pilots, action/adventure, space battle, age-gap, slow-burn

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Synopsis

Some jobs are just too good to be true.

Captain Matt Spears learns this the hard way after a mysterious employer hires his ship to hunt down an ancient alien artifact but insists on providing his own pilot. Ryce Faine is handsome and smart, but Matt has rarely met anyone more obnoxious. With tensions running high, it isn’t until they are attacked by the hostile Alraki that Matt grudgingly begins to respect Ryce’s superior skills, respect that transforms into a tentative attraction.

Little did he know that their biggest challenge would be reaching their destination, an abandoned alien base located on a distant moon amid a dense asteroid field. But when Matt learns that Ryce isn’t completely who he says he is and the artifact is more than he bargained for, he is faced with a difficult choice. One that might change the balance of forces in the known galaxy.

Matt doesn’t take well to moral dilemmas; he prefers the easy way out. But that might not be possible anymore, when his past comes back to haunt him at the worst possible moment. When faced with a notorious pirate carrying a personal grudge, the fragile connection Matt has formed with Ryce might be the only thing that he can count on to save them both.

Excerpt

Adrift
Isabelle Adler © 2017
All Rights Reserved

 

“No way,” Matt said. “No way in hell.”

The low hum of music and the loud voices threatened to swallow his response. The Blue Giant was like any other canteen on any other small-time maintenance space station, offering cheap drinks and free talk, catering to drifters, smugglers, freelance pilots, and the dregs of every known society. The strong smell of synthetic spirits enveloped the crowded room in an almost tangible cloud. It really wasn’t the best location for conducting business, even over interstellar communications channels, but one could stand being cooped up in a spaceship for only so long.

Matt ignored the noise best he could as he squinted at the commlink screen. This wasn’t a regular type of job, but then again, freelancers didn’t exactly have regular jobs. As it was, this one promised to be very well paying. His potential client had introduced himself as Mr. Ari, though Matt suspected it wasn’t his real name. They usually weren’t. At the moment, he was more concerned with Mr. Ari’s terms and conditions than with his identity, fake or otherwise.

“This is nonnegotiable,” Ari said firmly. There was no image on-screen, just his computer-altered voice in the earpiece. “I require that my own pilot navigate your ship to destination. He’s the only one who will know the exact route and the details of the mission. I’m merely hiring your ship to transport my man and provide him with assistance.”

“It’s my ship and I’m the only one flying her,” Matt said indignantly. “No way I’ll just let some stranger take over. Now, a passenger, that’s another matter. I’ve nothing against passengers, so long as they’re nice and quiet.” And good-looking, but he wasn’t about to say that to the client’s face, or to the lack thereof, as the case was. But another pilot? This was ridiculous. If the only thing this guy needed was a ship, there were much simpler alternatives than hiring Matt’s services.

“As I’ve said before, Captain, this job requires subtlety and a very specific set of skills,” Ari said. Even with the distortion, he somehow managed to make “Captain” sound like an insult. “Which, with all due respect, I doubt you possess. This is a salvage mission, and the location must remain a secret until you get there. To put it simply, you sit back, let my man do the job, get back safely, and collect the cash—as long as you keep your mouth firmly shut about any of this. I’ve been told that your ship is fast and well equipped, and that you are discreet. I’d hate to think that I’ve been misinformed.”

Matt took a long sip of his beer to stall for time. The beer had a distinct sour artificial aftertaste, but at least it was cold. “What kind of salvage?”

“An abandoned alien site. I’m afraid I can’t divulge further information at this point, other than it would require a jump to another sector.”

“Huh,” Matt grunted. The guy was definitely too well-spoken to be a scavenger; on the other hand, off-world archaeological salvage (if that was indeed Ari’s intent) was usually done for strictly academic purposes and required government permits. Any other form of salvage, whether human or alien, was considered theft and was absolutely illegal. That and some other guy had to fly his ship? There was no way in hell he’d agree to that. This Mr. Ari could either fuck off or pay him way more than he was offering. “Well, you make it sound very tempting and all, but still. A pilot has his pride, you know. No one takes my seat, twenty thousand Fed-creds or no.”

“Name your price,” Ari said tersely.

“One hundred thousand,” Matt said, testing the waters.

“Done,” Ari said with a finality that left Matt a little dizzy. He was sure Ari would balk at the asking price. He wondered belatedly whether he could have gotten away with being even bolder. “My pilot will meet you at Dock G5 in two hours. You’ll get twenty percent of your fee now, and the rest when the job is done.”

“Agreed,” Matt said. How did this guy know exactly where his ship was? Shit, he could hardly back down on the offer now. “I’ll send you the account number.”

“Now, Mr. Spears, I must stress again how delicate this assignment is.”

“Of course,” Matt said. Really, this was tedious. Every client thought they were the only one in the galaxy who had dirty secrets. He wouldn’t have been in this line of work for as long as he had if he couldn’t keep his mouth shut and his eyes averted.

“You might encounter…competition,” Ari said. “While this is unlikely to happen, there is a chance that other parties might try to intercept you.”

“What do you mean, ‘intercept’?” Matt asked suspiciously. “Just to make it clear—I’m a runner, not a mercenary. If it’s something dangerous—”

“The reason I’m not willing to be more specific is precisely because I don’t want any information to leak out and pose a threat to your mission,” Ari said, sounding a bit too vague for Matt’s comfort. “However, you should be on alert, and report any incidents to my agent.”

Now he wanted him to report to the guy? Matt was utterly and completely done with reporting to anybody for the rest of his life. He was more than capable of handling any situation, and he wasn’t about to play the chain-of-command game with his client’s representative. However, he kept it prudently to himself. You didn’t sass somebody who was willing to shell out all those credits.

“Got it,” he said dryly. “I’ll be on alert. Anything else?”

“You may discuss further details with my man, and he’ll be handling all future communications. Good luck, Captain.”

“My pleasure,” Matt said. He disconnected the call and sagged back into his chair, pushing away the beer. He had a very, very bad feeling.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

Tour Schedule

1/30 Love Bytes

1/30 Stories That Make You Smile

1/31 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

2/1 Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

2/1 Prism Book Alliance

2/2 Happily Ever Chapter

2/2 Reviews by Tammy and Kim

2/3 We Three Queens

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Release Day Blitz for Oops Caught by Alli Reshi (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Oops, Caught

Series: Expanding Horizon

Author: Alli Reshi

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 2nd

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 16500

Genre: Romance, sci-fi, aliens, captivity, action/adventure, shoot-out/gunfire, PTSD/post-traumatic stress, hurt/comfort

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Synopsis

Mark Noland can’t figure out how he got into such a fix. How does an ex-mercenary (okay, an almost-reformed mercenary) get himself caught, stuck in a holding cell, on a hostile alien planet? Held captive by strange bug-like creatures who’d just as soon eat him as look at him. How can a simple mission go so awry? To make matters worse, Noland’s not alone. His fellow prisoner, a certain high-ranking, elite Stella officer holds him responsible for their failed plan. Yeah, it was supposed to be a quick in and quick out sort of mission. But no… Officer Gavnson just can’t let it go.

It’s not so easy trying to plan an escape when Noland keeps getting distracted by how his mission partner so very nicely fills out his uniform. And he suspects Gavnson is hiding something, too. As tensions run high, secrets are revealed that will change the both of them. There’s nothing like gunfights and running for your life to make that special bond.

Excerpt

I sat against a wall, watching as my companion paced the length of the cell. Groaning, I leaned my head against the concrete, bored now that we had been caught and taken out of the main action.

At least I had an excellent view to keep me occupied. I could finally appreciate what everyone liked about a man in uniform. My cellmate’s pants were very complimentary to certain areas of his anatomy. With his hands clasped at his lower back as he paced the room, I had the pleasure of an alternating view of his broad back and the strong frame of his chest.

The stern look almost marred his handsome face as he stared at the locked door, set into a row of bars. But his strong jaw, highlighted by a twitching muscle, somehow added to his appeal. Men usually didn’t interest me as much, but having a galaxy of choice opened one’s view of preferences, and to be honest, I had admired worse.

I wondered what his thoughts on a tall, broad-chested, human man were. Would there be any interest on his part, or did he only prefer his own kind? Maybe he had someone back home. A slim-waisted Resconian woman who cooked him warm dinners. Would that be more to his taste? Then again, maybe being an elite Everian-ranked officer in the Stella Corps galactic military didn’t leave much time for romance. I pushed the thoughts away before I could get too involved in them.

“So, Gavnson. Found our way out of here yet?” I asked, watching him make another pass in front of me as he headed for the left side of the jail cell. He ignored that question, like he’d ignored all the others I’d asked.

Our part of the mission had been a distraction tactic that hadn’t worked as well as I had hoped. In any case, it should have given enough time for the rest of our team to break into the other side of the compound where the data center was located so we could take back the information the Awoknains had stolen. Lists of undercover agents and stealth plans weren’t something you wanted up for grabs among enemies. I knew it would be a matter of time until Ken, my master mechanic and sometimes arsonist, broke us out. Though it seemed Gavnson wasn’t content to be patient.

He reached for one of the hinges at the top of the door. Bolting forward, I wrapped my arms around his waist and pulled Gavnson back before he could touch the knot of metal. We slipped off balance, and I tried to take a step back to regain my footing, but it was useless; we tumbled to the floor in a heap. The wind was knocked out of me, and I gasped for air. Gavnson was heavier than he looked.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Noland?” Gavnson yelled. He rolled off me effortlessly and sat up, directing a harsh look at me.

“Saving your ass. Don’t touch those; they’re electrified. Not enough to kill you, but it’s a hell of a shock that’ll give you nasty burns,” I said, wheezing as I sat up. I didn’t miss his flinch, though he tried to hide it. I was instantly curious, but ignored the itch to question. Starting a fight with Gavnson wouldn’t help us break out.

He was silent after his near miss with the electrified hinge. I was glad he was finally sitting still. The constant nervous motion wore on my nerves. No matter how fine an ass he had.

The silence that followed made my skin crawl; it was the quiet before the storm hit. I was tempted to ask Gavnson any random question, but if the tension in his body was anything to go by, he obviously wasn’t much in the mood for conversation.

I stared at the far wall through the bars on the door, hoping Ken would hurry his blue ass up and break us out so we could be done with the job. He had been part of the retrieval team. Footsteps echoed down the hall, headed in our direction, but I didn’t recognize them. There were more corpsmen as part of Gavnson’s team; hopefully, that would be some of them. Luck was not on our side, though. Our insect-like captors now stood in front of our cell, their green skin and horns gleaming.

“You. Up now. Come.” The raspy demands issued from mouths that didn’t move. That would never not be creepy. I didn’t have time to think on that, though; the guards motioned at Gavnson to get up.

“No, you can’t,” I said. I grabbed Gavnson’s shoulder to stop him from moving.

“Why?” The attention of the two guards flicked to me. A simple question with complex implications. Think fast, Noland.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Alli has always had a love for just about any story she can get her hands on. Be it from books, TV, or even video games—if there’s a good story, she will love it. Given that, it’s easy to see how Alli moved on to making stories of her own.

Raised in a small Colorado town, Alli also has a love of the outdoors and enjoys hiking. Nowadays she lives in a bigger city and fits in fine there too, liking how close and comfy everything is. Often at home with her two cats, Alli is never far from her computer, whether for work or for play. She believes the truth is a multifaceted thing and always works to write the world, and subsequently the truth of the world, as she sees it.

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Its Love Times Three with ‘No Remedy (Bounty, #2)’ by Christine d’Abo (author guest post and giveaway)

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No Remedy

No Remedy (Bounty, #2)  by Christine d’Abo
R
iptide Publishing
Cover Artist Lou Harper

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

**********

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christine d’Abo here today to talk  about the second novel in her Bounty series, No Remedy.  Welcome, Christine.

********

Hello, my name is Christine d’Abo! Thank you so much for having me here on the blog today.

There’s something really enticing about a ménage story. Am I right?? Lots of hot, sweaty bodies all crammed together doing all sorts of things to one another. In the case of No Remedy, that crammed space is both in the cockpit and under the bedsheets.

Mace is on a mission to save her friend and captain, Faolan Wolf. She’s been working closely with Alec, a brilliant scientist who seems to be on the verge of a cure for the disease that’s killing Faolan. But when his ex-lover Byron shows up, Mace realizes that there’s more to Alec than meets the eye.

Byron is dominant in the bedroom and just as pushy outside. While she might put up with it for a few rounds of great sex, there’s no way she’ll let him put Faolan’s life in jeopardy. Too bad the lines get blurred and she starts to fall for both Alec and Byron. But she’s not sure if there’s room enough in their relationship for three.

If you would like to learn more about me, please pay a visit to my website www.christinedabo.com. I’m also very active on Twitter as @Christine_dAbo and have a monthly newsletter. If you’d like to sign up, simply click here to fill out the form.

About No Remedy

For months, Mace Simms has been seeking an antidote for the poison killing her mentor. Her only hope is Alec Roiten, a brilliant scientist hiding on a backwater planet. Posing as a research assistant, Mace offers the elusive genius all the help she can, ignoring the explosive chemistry between them. Soon they’re close to a cure.

But then Alec’s former love Byron shows up, attempting to claim a bounty on Alec’s head, and all that careful research gets left behind when they’re forced to flee. And when Byron realizes the tip-off about Alec was a ruse by his rivals to lure him out into the open to kill him, the bounty hunt turns into a three-person scramble for survival.

Byron wants his old lover back, Alec is consumed by a haunting secret about the poison he’s desperate to defeat, and Mace is caught between them. But she’s beginning to think that’s exactly where she belongs as the three are drawn together in their race against death.

Publisher’s note: This title is an edited second edition, previously published in 2011.

About Christine d’Abo

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

Connect with Christine:

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of the Bounty series, one lucky person will receive a $50 gift certificate to Riptide. Winner will be selected from across all three book tours (No Quarter, No Remedy, No Master) and as such, the contest is open until midnight, Eastern time, on July 2, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Comment to enter, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Bounty

Bounty hunters and pirates may contend for dominance in the vast reaches of interstellar space, but the heart of the conflict always comes down to who you know. Who you hate. Who you love.

Whether the prize is a priceless gem, political gain, the antidote to a rare poison, or a bounty big enough to secure any hunter’s future, the only way for a pirate or a hunter to come out ahead is by building alliances. One system, one planet, one person, one heart at a time. The distance between the stars may be infinite, but love doesn’t care about boundaries.

Publisher’s Note: While books #1 and #2 should be read in order, #3 stands alone and can be read without the first two.

No Quarter (Bounty, #1)  by Christine d’Abo

No Remedy (Bounty, #2) by Christine d’Abo

No Master (Bounty, #3) byChristine d’Abo

McKay’s Warriors are Back in Ari McKay’s ‘Herc’s Mercs: The Harder They Fall’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Herc’s Mercs: The Harder They Fall (Herc’s Mercs #5) by Ari McKay
Release Date: January 6, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: Kris Norris

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Blurb

Chris Hardison never expected the simple consulting gig to put him on somebody’s hit list, but Hercules Security’s resident computer whiz never does anything by halves. Now he’s on the run, guarded by gorgeous Jason Hekili, the newest member of Herc’s crew. But Chris and Jason have a past, and holing up in a safe house together is as complicated as it is dangerous.
Jason still wants Chris even though his broken heart hasn’t healed. He isn’t sure he can trust Chris, but when a crime syndicate targets Chris for assassination, Jason has to put his life on the line to protect Chris or risk losing their second chance for happiness before it even begins.

 

Pages or Words: 44,000 words
This book can be read as a standalone
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Thriller, Action/Adventure

Excerpt

It took him a few minutes to find the right place, and his heart lurched when he saw Jason sparring with a tall, broad-shouldered Native American merc. He hovered in the doorway of the training room, torn between wanting to run over, fling himself at Jason, and beg for forgiveness, or wanting to flee.

Jason had changed. Gone were the thick, dark waves that Chris had loved to run his fingers through; Jason had shorn it all off in favor of a buzz cut, and Chris wanted to cry at the loss. Jason’s shoulders were broader, and he was even more muscular overall. After working with mercs for so long, Chris knew the difference between bodybuilder muscles and working muscles, and he could tell Jason had gotten those hard muscles from work. Jason’s body wasn’t the only thing that looked harder; Jason’s face looked different as well. More closed off, more distant. It was enough to make Chris want to turn and run. How could he possibly stand a chance with this Jason?

Before he could slip away unnoticed, the other merc knocked Jason on his ass. Jason let out a grunt when he hit the floor, but he didn’t grimace or show any other sign of pain. He simply bounded to his feet and turned—and spotted Chris.

For a long moment, he simply stood there, holding Chris’ gaze, and something that Chris thought might be hope brightened his eyes. Then Jason turned away, said something to his sparring partner, and headed toward the far side of the room.

Chris’ heart plummeted at that clear rejection signal, but he knew he deserved it. He lifted his chin and squared his shoulders. Jason had seen him, so he couldn’t just sneak out like this had never happened, and he hadn’t come all this way to give up so easily anyway. The other merc’s eyebrows climbed as he watched Chris march across the room, and Chris heard him say something about going to the showers, but Chris’ attention was focused entirely on Jason.

“Jason, I’d like to talk,” he said firmly as he approached.

Jason draped a towel around his neck, his spine straightening before he turned slowly to face Chris. Up close, Chris could see that a slender, pale line of a scar now bisected Jason’s right eyebrow. The line mercifully skipped over his eye, but picked up again on his cheek, running down to the sharp line of his jaw. It made his cheekbones look even more pronounced and pulled the line of his lips slightly crooked, though that wasn’t easy to judge, since he was clenching his jaw.

“I believe you agreed six months ago that there was nothing more to say,” Jason replied, his voice ragged, betraying emotions that didn’t show on his face. “And you didn’t want to subject yourself to a long, awkward ride.”

“A lot can change in six months,” Chris pointed out, aching to reach out and touch Jason but knowing he didn’t have that right yet. “You have. So have I.”

“Is that so?” Jason regarded him with narrowed eyes, a muscle twitching slightly in his jaw. It was something Chris recognized at once as a “tell,” an indicator that Jason wasn’t nearly as unaffected by Chris’ presence as he was trying to appear; sometimes the little things he’d learned from being around people in the physical side of the security business were quite useful.

“Yes, that’s so,” Chris replied quietly. This was the part where he laid himself utterly bare and held nothing back, which was terrifying, but it was necessary if he wanted any hope of winning Jason back. “I’ve had plenty of time to think about what an idiot I was. I’m sorry I hurt you, and I’m sorry I didn’t trust you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It was all me and my stupid insecurities getting in the way. Letting you go was the biggest mistake of my life.”

Jason’s eyes widened slightly as if he was surprised at Chris being so blunt and forthcoming. At first, he stared back at Chris, seeming to search for something. Finally he gave a terse nod. “I’m glad you realize that,” he said quietly.

“I do, and I’m willing to do anything to make up for my stupidity.” Chris took a little step closer, gazing up at Jason hopefully. “I’ve missed you so much, Jason. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how good we were together. I came here to see if there was any way you’d consider giving me a second chance.”

Again, Jason didn’t answer immediately, and this time, there was no mistaking the pain in the look he gave Chris. “There’s a problem with that.” He glanced away from Chris and frowned. “Trust has to go both ways.”

Buy the book:  Torquere Books

RC

Meet the Author

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who collaborate on original m/m fiction. They began writing together in 2004 and finished their first original full-length novel in 2011. Recently, they’ve begun collaborating on designing and creating costumes to wear and compete in at Sci-Fi conventions, and they share a love of yarn and cake.

Arionrhod is an avid costumer, knitter, and all-around craft fiend, as well as a professional systems engineer. Mother of two human children and two dachshunds who think they are human, she is a voracious reader with wildly eclectic tastes, devouring romance novels, military science fiction, horror stories and Shakespeare with equal glee. She is currently preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops: January 5, 2016

Parker Williams, The Hat Party, Havan Fellows, BFD Book Blog, Bayou Book Junkie, Happily Ever Chapter, A.M. Leibowitz, Unquietly Me, V’s Reads, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Bonkers About Books, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Molly Lolly, Alpha Book Club, Velvet Panic, MM Good Book Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews, My Fiction Nook, Kirsty Loves Books

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Herc’s Mercs: The Harder They Fall’.  Must be 18  years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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In the Book Spotlight: Sword of the Gladiatrix by Faith L. Justice (author interview and giveaway)

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Sword of the Gladiatrix cover

Sword of the Gladiatrix by Faith L. Justice
Release Date: May, 2015

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Goodreads Link
Publisher: Raggedy Moon Books
Cover Artist: Todd Engle

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Sales Links: 

Amazon.com Worldwide (US, UK, Canada)
BarnesandNoble.com 
CreateSpace (print only)
iBooks (ebook only)
Kobo (ebook only)
Smashwords (ebooks–all formats)

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My Interview with Faith L. Justice…

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Faith L. Justice, author of Sword of the Gladiatrix. Hi Faith, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Thanks so much for having me here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I’m a science geek and history junkie and have been all my life. I knocked around a bit and worked as a lifeguard, paralegal, systems analyst, human resources executive, and college professor before settling into full-time writing. I live in Brooklyn with my family and the required gaggle of cats. For fun, I like to dig in the dirt—my garden and various archaeological sites.

My current book is an action adventure, lesbian romance set during Nero’s reign. A departure for me. I usually write novels based on real historical women—ones who should be in the history books but aren’t. Sword of the Gladiatrix features two fictional characters from the far ends of the Roman Empire: Afra, scout and beast master to the Queen of Kush; and Cinnia, warrior-bard and companion to Queen Boudica of the British Iceni. Both try to replace lost friendship and love in each other’s arms, but fate intervenes. Before they complete their journeys, I toss in a pair of trained hunting cheetahs, a nasty snake dancing bitch, a natural disaster or two, a neurotic emperor, and several gladiator fights.

Whenever I pitched Sword of the Gladiatrix as my “lesbian gladiator novel,” I encountered raised eyebrows and skeptical snorts. The first question everyone asked: “Were there really lesbian gladiators?” My answer: “Of course!” We know there were females fighting in arenas for a couple of centuries, although far fewer than men. Some had to be lesbian. What really surprised people was the fact of female gladiators. They rarely appear in popular culture. Despite the popularity of Xena Warrior Princess and the myths of the Amazons, they don’t come to mind in the media-soaked imaginings of brutal, bloody, gladiatorial games. Women warriors? Maybe. Women gladiators? No. Yet they are there in classical literature, art, grave markers, and archaeology. All you have to do is look.
• Was there a basis for your story? A previous experience or something else?

I love museums (see science geek and history junkie above). I spend days wondering around and reading all the labels. When I visited the British Museum several years ago, I came across a stone carving, from the first or second century, found in Turkey. It showed two women named Achilla and Amazon fighting with swords and shields, their helmets on the ground. Female gladiators! At that time, I didn’t know they existed. I researched the topic and found that females (in small numbers) fought regularly over a two hundred year period

The image of those two women haunted me. They were real women who lived and died centuries ago. Who were they? Where did they come from? How did they feel about their lives? That’s when I decided to tell their story. Well, not their story precisely—no one knows their background or fates. So I created Afra and Cinnia to stand in for those two women carved on the stone.
• What skills do you think a writer needs?

Writing is a craft and can be taught. There are aisles full of good how-to books on writing in bookstores and libraries, but the one thing any writer—fiction or non-fiction—needs to master is storytelling. How do you develop your characters, plot, and setting in such a way that it draws the reader in and keeps them turning the pages. A good storyteller can get away without sparkling prose, but the opposite isn’t true.

Also persistence and a thick skin help. I’ve known several people over the years who (I felt) were wonderful writers with original voices and compelling stories, but they gave up after getting a couple of rejections. Write your story or novel to the best of your ability, put it out there, and move on to the next. All writing is practice and useful. Someone once said you need to write one million words before you get good. Rewriting the same sixty thousand over and over doesn’t count.

Oh, and either a deep understanding of English grammar or a crack copy editor. I loved your rant: Win a Celery Stalks At Midnight Can A Balled Bare Bear Bee Far Behind?: Vocabulary Goes Bad with Homonyms! I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. I recently caught a blooper in one of my draft blog posts where I talked about “navel battles”—belly button wars! Glad I caught it before I posted it, but if it made it into a book, shame on me and my editor.

• What for you is the perfect book hero?

I like complicated and flawed. If s/he is perfect, everything comes too easily, there’s no conflict or risk—boring! I’m also partial to the underdog and the odd one out like Tyrion from Game of Thrones. A hero has to make mistakes and overcome the consequences, not just overcome external obstacles; otherwise there is no growth or emotional throughline. They also have to learn from their mistakes. In my first book, Selene of Alexandria, my protagonist is an impulsive young woman who—like most young people—suffers from a feeling of invincibility. She learns her rashness has consequences—sometimes deadly—but also understands that her impulsiveness comes from a deep need to do good and make the world a better place. Some actions she regrets, others she doesn’t.

• Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

No so much the craft. My challenges go back to persistence: getting my butt in chair and fingers on keyboard. In today’s connected world, it is so easy to get distracted and fritter the day away on the internet. Working at home doesn’t help. Stuck on a scene? Oh, there’s laundry! Or cats to play with. Or…you name it. I schedule a minimum of three hours—preferably in the morning before I look at email/Facebook/Twitter—that is dedicated to new writing (not rewriting!) I take my ancient laptop to the couch in the parlor (no TV, no Wi-Fi) and sit staring. Sometimes the words flow and I’m “in the zone.” Other times it’s like pulling teeth, but I sit there until I write one word, then the next, then the next. Each word gets easier.

• Tell us about your favorite childhood book.

Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians by Mary Nash (1962, Little, Brown & Co.). My parents signed me up for a book-of-the-month club and this was one. The story is simple: Three siblings on their own because their parents are on a trip, their housekeeper won a cooking contest, and their substitute babysitter is in bed under a voodoo spell that the youngest child Theodore (Toad) put on her. Malcom and Molly, the oldest two children, work hard to keep the house going and make it a nice Christmas for their younger brother, but things keep getting weirder and weirder. Chaos, hilarity, and an impossible snowstorm ensue.

It’s not great literature. The dialog sucks and the gender stereotypes are…1962, but I read this to my little sister every year at Christmas till she could read it herself. It wasn’t Christmas until we read Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians. I found my old hardback copy with the battered dust jacket a few years ago and gave it to my sister. Best Christmas present ever! Sweet memories of a lovely time.

Thanks again for letting me visit your site. Many hours of great reading to you all!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

From the far edges of the Empire, two women come to battle on the hot sands of the arena in Nero’s Rome. They seek to replace lost friendship, love, and family in each other’s arms; but the Roman arena offers only two futures: the Gate of Life for the victors or the Gate of Death for the losers.

Pages or Words: 260 pages, 75,000 words

Categories: Fiction, Gay Fiction, Historical, Lesbian Romance, Action/Adventure

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

A slave wraps my lower legs with felted wool and straps a gilded greave to my left shin, because I fight as myrmilla. He smells of sour sweat, as do I. I’ve already fought once today, tested fate, and won. The gold sand that Nero favors in the arena still crusts my hair and rasps the skin under my sweat-soaked breast band. I will go again before the ravenous crowds to satisfy their bloodlust. For what? An emperor’s whim? The crowd’s passing fancy? A sacrifice to their gods?

I swallow the bitter gall that surges into my mouth.

Across the room, another slave straps armor on Cinnia, my beloved. She looks at me with pride in her eyes and a brief smile on her lips. We said our goodbyes last night, clasped breast to breast, thigh to thigh, a stolen moment before being sent to our lonely cells. My heart beats an irregular rhythm.

My love. Light to my dark. Fire to my ice. ‘

Cinnia is goddess-given to me; from a land of mists and forests, so different from my country of desert and blistering sun. Without her, I would be dead. Without me, so would she. We have suffered, struggled, lived, and loved. Now we go out upon the sands of the great arena to die. One by her lover’s hands, the other by her own.

It is not the life or death I chose for myself, but it is the one the gods gave me.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About the author:

FAITH L. JUSTICE writes award-winning novels, short stories, and articles in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, Writer’s Digest, The Copperfield Review, the Circles in the Hair anthology, and many more. She is a frequent contributor to Strange Horizons, Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine, and co-founded a writer’s workshop many more years ago than she likes to admit. For fun, she digs in the dirt—her garden and various archaeological sites.

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://facebook.com/faith.justice.7
Twitter: https://twitter@faithljustice
Author website: https://www.faithljustice.com
LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/profile/view?id=64543293

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Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: Copy of ‘Sword of the Gladiatrix’ by Faith L. Justice

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Tour Dates & Stops:
15-Jun
The Hat Party

16-Jun
Hearts on Fire
7-Jun
Love Bytes
18-Jun
All I Want and More Books
Amanda C. Stone
19-Jun
Bayou Book Junkie
22-Jun
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
23-Jun
Bike Book Reviews
24-Jun
Prism Book Alliance
25-Jun
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
26-Jun
Inked Rainbow Reads

Review: Hostile Ground by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Enemy territory is a dangerous place to fall in love.

HostileGround_500x750After three undercover cops died while investigating a Seattle crime lord with international ties, Detective Mahir Hussain was chosen next to infiltrate the drug ring and finish the job they started.  His superiors reasoned that Mahir had an advantage the other officers didn’t, the first and foremost being that Mahir is gay and currently lacking a partner. The drug ring operates out of a disreputable nightclub in one of the worst districts in Seattle and its head of security is known to only hire gay men. Mahir is also a Muslim and of Arabic descent which makes Mahir work that much harder to prove himself while taking on jobs that others might flinch at, including this one.

Mahir joins the club’s security team but only after passing his inspection and initiation by Ridley, the drug lord’s right hand man.  And as only gay men are allowed to protect the strippers, Ridley knows exactly how to test each man that applies for work there….by testing his sexuality up close and personal. A test that Mahir passes with enthusiasm to his surprise. Ridley is not only cold and intimidating but extremely dangerous and dangerously handsome as well.  Mahir finds himself getting in deeper than he expected….deeply involved with the sexy, ruthless Ridley and  pulled deeper into a crime organization that is more than it seems from the outside.

Mahir knows that his position is shaky.  He must find the answers he needs as well as the evidence to convict the criminals. And Mahir must do so quickly before he is discovered to be a cop and the ties and emotions he feels towards Ridley become too deep to cut. Mahir Hussain is a man on hostile ground. Will he be able to save himself when the danger is to his heart as well?

Undercover cops in danger is a terrific and exciting element for any story and in Hostile Ground, it is only the jumping off point for the action and adventure that Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt have in store for the reader with this marvelous tale of crime, passion, and deception.  With Voinov and Witt at the helm, mayhem and hot, dangerous liaisons are sure to follow.  And one half of the explosive duo here is a not only a total surprise but my favorite characters in the story.  That would be Mahir Hussain.

To have your tale unfold from the viewpoint of an American Muslim of Middle Eastern descent is not only unexpected but adds a dimension of tension and potential for bigotry not found to often in the m/m genre or any genres I can think of outside the role of villain or conspirator.  Having Mahir Hussein, as a main character in a m/m story, someone who is both a Muslim and of Arabic descent, who is also the romantic “lead” is both fascinating and compelling.  That Mahir faces discrimination and hostility in both his law enforcement profession and from the criminals in his undercover role just points out that bigotry and race hatred has no boundaries.  Between the “camel jokes” Mahir makes before anyone else can and his interaction with his strict Muslim brother who refuses to accept Mahir’s sexuality. we are given a broader picture of the consequences of his heritage, sexuality, and religion within society, whether that society is legal or not.  Mahir is such a great character, flaws and all, that the reader will fall for this intense and complicated man from the outset.

Mahir’s character is grounded by his family, estranged brother included.   The authors have given Mahir a young, gay nephew whose troubles with his father and family mirror those that Mahir went through earlier in his life.  Seen through both their eyes, the struggle to remain a part of the tightknit conservative family while staying true to who you are and who you love becomes understandable with its familial pull and emotionally explosive issues to resolve.  I loved the nephew too, so young, troubled, and in need of love and support from his uncle.

Ridley, the head of security for the crime boss, is deadly, ruthless, and sexually commanding. Ridley is both a threat and the magnet that is pulling Mahir into a relationship he never expected and a sexual role that is outside his comfort zone, or so Mahir thought.  Prior to Ridley, Mahir has always been the person in command in the bedroom and elsewhere but Ridley expects submission and obedience.  How Mahir handles that change in roles is both challenging and extremely hot to read about.  Witt and Voinov up the suspense and action as the relationship between Mahir and Ridley gets as out of control as the situation they find themselves in.

Things I would have loved to have seen expounded on was Mahir’s role within his family and his nephew Kinza, mainly what happened to Kinza who I adored. Plus a little more transition between the last two chapters and the epilogue.  It all happens so quickly at the end (as it would when that action was going down) but a little more explanations after the climax would have fleshed out the resolution as deeply and completely as the rest of the story felt.  I know that is asking a lot as the book is already at 362 pages, but a complex plot needs that complexity mirrored at the end and I am just not sure that happens to its full potential.

As with all reviewers, the challenge is to talk about the book  but leave out the information that spoils the plot and the ending.  That is particularly tough here where the plot has more layers than an English Trifle. You must first navigate your way through all the layers of this story that the authors have constructed, to figure out all the hidden subterfuge, the antagonists and their roles, and exactly what the criminals are hiding, selling and willing to kill for….well, that’s a deep and complex dish.  It’s very satisfying but the smallest additional information would reveal the wrong thing at definitely the wrong time.

Do I recommend Hostile Ground?  Absolutely.  It’s hot, sexy, surprising, and action packed.  It’s a love story and a thriller.  What’s not to love?  Add an undercover Muslim detective, a commanding and dominant sexy criminal, a young, naive gay nephew and more secrets than any one cop can handle, and you have a recipe for an entertaining and hard to put down story.  Grab this up and begin your investigation on Hostile Ground today.

Cover art by LC Chase.  Chase gives us a dark and sexy cover which totally works for this story and its characters based in Seattle.

Book Details:

Word count: 96,600; Page count: 362
Kindle Edition
Published May 11th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ASINB00K9YM52I
edition language English

Buy Links:   Riptide Publishing           Amazon               ARe