A MelanieM Review: The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Derek never wished to inherit his title as a result of a bloody battle. With the old count dead and the truce dependent on his marriage to the rival duke’s son, Derek has no choice but to agree to the victor’s terms in order to bring peace to his homeland. When he learns of the sinister rumors surrounding his intended groom, Derek begins to have doubts—but there can be no turning back from saying I do.

After the death of his wife, Callan of Mulberny never expected to be forced into another political marriage—especially not to someone like the new Count of Camria. Seemingly soft and meek, it’s only fitting that Derek’s family crest is a flighty sparrow, worthy of nothing but contempt.

Another war with the seafaring people of the Outer Isles looms on the horizon, and the reluctant newlyweds must team together to protect those caught in the circle of violence. Derek and Callan slowly learn to let go of their prejudices, but as they find themselves enmeshed in intrigue fueled by dark secrets and revenge, their tentative bond is all that keeps their world—and their lives—from plunging into chaos.

 

I  enjoyed the sort of mystical historical fantasy novel, The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler. I thought it worked very well on some levels and less well on others.   From the moment I met the main characters of Derek, son of the fallen Count of Camria and now the new “head” of house, and Callen, first son of the Duke of Mulberny, victor of the war, the author eases of us the perspectives of both men and their various different worlds.    The gulf between them necessarily wide due to the losses of war, Derek his father and the fear of losing his small fiefdom and all that entails for his people and family. For Callan?  It’s merely one more political move by his father with himself as the chess piece, one he doesn’t want to make but will for duty.

The young men as characters are well thought out and presented, less so some of the people around them.  I am not sure if this is the first story in a series but much is made of Derek’s brothers, an older scholarly brother Ivo and a sullen teen brother who constantly acts up, putting his brother’s safety and that of any  political agreements in danger.  That it is allowed to continue makes no sense in this narrative other than for dramatic purposes.  The brother is unlikable, the author makes no attempt  to layer him into anything other than a cardboard character and eventually he disappears completely two thirds of the way from the story leaving the reader to wonder why he was inserted at all.  Ivo’s character  did a flip flop at the end and then exited as well after being used as a potential red herring for a relationship with Callan’s sister.  Both examples of throwaway characters that had way too much page time.

The relationship development between Callan and Derek moved along nicely when they were allowed to be out in the field doing exactly what warriors like themselves were allowed to do, bonding over field maneuvers and showing their skills at taking down marauders.  That made complete sense and I loved it.  The other   element I started to get into and I thought was absolutely underused was that of magic.

What a waste.  It was, in my opinion, such a great part of the narrative and yet so underwhelming at the same time.  One, the effects were only related  by one of the  main characters not both.What a loss because while we get the maelstrom of physical, emotional, and magical elements happening from one side, we never get to “see” it from the other’s.  Which is weird because this whole story is a two narrative novel.  Why reduce to one now?  When we want to “see” what is happening at it’s most wildest and wonderful?  Makes no sense.  The best part and powerful potential of this story is lost.  And not for the last time.

If the author was laying the groundwork for a series, that would be different, but I believe this is a standalone novel, so here is all this great promise for magic within this novel and character and quite frankly, it gets tossed away, not one but twice, because the author holds back, throwing out tidbits instead of going full throttle.  This character can control animals, have them do his biding.  Do we see it?  Uh, off stage sort of.  Control the wind and seas?  Does that come into play?  Nope.  Other cool stuff?  Pretty much no.  Just one more “bunny out of the hate” and done.

What a shame.

The end comes off the same way. Characters disappear,  there is an odd resolution that feels sort of inadequate, magically speaking.  and yes, a HEA for this couple, which seems odd, because, other than Ivo, Derek’s family is never mentioned again.

So yes, I enjoyed it but so many questions kept popping back up into my head about other characters, universe building, and the holes in the magic that it wasn’t a smooth read for me. If you are more of a surface reader than I am, perhaps this story is more in your wheelhouse than mine.  Either way, I found it went pretty quickly and the main characters were enjoyable.  I just wish the promise I saw had been fulfilled.

Cover art by Natasha Snow is eye catching and dramatic.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 300 pages
Published November 25th 2019 by Nine Star Press
ISBN139781951057893
Edition Language English

New Release Blitz for The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Wolf and the Sparrow

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 25, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72000

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, nobility, arranged marriage, abduction, enemies to lovers, witches, magic users, action/adventure, family drama, pansexual

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Synopsis

Derek never wished to inherit his title as a result of a bloody battle. With the old count dead and the truce dependent on his marriage to the rival duke’s son, Derek has no choice but to agree to the victor’s terms in order to bring peace to his homeland. When he learns of the sinister rumors surrounding his intended groom, Derek begins to have doubts—but there can be no turning back from saying I do.

After the death of his wife, Callan of Mulberny never expected to be forced into another political marriage—especially not to someone like the new Count of Camria. Seemingly soft and meek, it’s only fitting that Derek’s family crest is a flighty sparrow, worthy of nothing but contempt.

Another war with the seafaring people of the Outer Isles looms on the horizon, and the reluctant newlyweds must team together to protect those caught in the circle of violence. Derek and Callan slowly learn to let go of their prejudices, but as they find themselves enmeshed in intrigue fueled by dark secrets and revenge, their tentative bond is all that keeps their world—and their lives—from plunging into chaos.

Excerpt

The Wolf and the Sparrow
Isabelle Adler © 2019
All Rights Reserved

“Derek, you lucky devil,” Macon said. “A marriage proposal the minute you inherit a title. How propitious.”

Derek ignored the note of bitter mockery in his brother’s voice. Instead, he focused on the letter lying on the table in front of them. Words were scribbled across thick paper in an almost careless hand, with nothing to indicate its earth-shattering contents at a casual glance. The red wax seal bore the emblem of a wolf’s head, and an unpleasant jolt went through him as he recalled the same sigil splashed over black-and-silver banners streaming above a bloody battlefield. Pain flared in his injured shoulder, as if in response to the memory, and Derek shifted uncomfortably in his chair, adjusting the sling that held his left arm. He made himself focus on the words again, tracing them as if they could somehow magically rearrange themselves into a different message upon rereading.

“Macon, this is not helping,” Lady Casea chided.

Macon threw their mother a sullen look that clearly indicated he wasn’t there to help. He was sixteen, the age when everything was painted black and white, right and wrong, with nothing in between. Both Derek and their mother knew all too well how washed-out those colors became with time.

They were all sitting at the round table in Lady Casea’s drawing room. The upheaval of the last few days hadn’t seemed to reach it, unlike the rest of the keep. Embroidered tapestries lined the walls, displaying flowers in fanciful patterns, and the chairs were lined with soft cushions. A familiar scent of lavender and sage permeated the warmth from the fireplace. How strange it was to discuss the grim future of their family in this cozy room, with the only reminder of the presence of death in the gray mourning ribbons tied around their sleeves.

“Let us go through this again,” Ivo said, picking up the letter. His tone was neutral, as if he were discussing a passage from a recently read book. He was the scholar among Derek’s siblings, but Count Johan had long refused to send him to one of the royal colleges in Oifel, the capital. Father hadn’t approved of bookishness, especially not in a nineteen-year-old man who was perfectly capable of holding a sword.

“Duke Bergen offers Lady Casea condolences on the passing of her husband, and asks for Derek’s—the new Count of Camria’s—hand in marriage to his eldest son and heir, Callan, ‘to secure the recently signed truce in hopes of reaching a standing peace treaty between our fiefdoms and show goodwill.’”

“‘Passing,’” Macon sneered. “‘Goodwill.’”

“Derek, have you even met Callan?” Ayleen asked, turning to him. “I had no idea he was interested in you.”

“I doubt he’d know me from a signpost,” Derek said dryly.

He’d only ever seen Callan in passing while visiting the Royal Palace a few years ago, and they had paid each other little heed. Undoubtedly, Callan had been in the field along with his father, Duke Bergen, when they fought Camria’s forces, but fortunately, Derek hadn’t encountered them directly, and neither of them had been present during the signing of the truce, delegating it instead to their field commander.

Ayleen was only twelve, and still somewhat charmed by the notion of romance. Derek was a little sorry to disillusion her, especially so soon after all the other shocks she’d had to endure in the past few days, but it was better if she knew exactly what was going on. Ignorance and pretense weren’t going to help any of them when their situation was so precarious.

“The proposal isn’t coming from Lord Callan, but from his father. There’s nothing to it but politics.”

Ivo looked up. “I fear Bergen’s essentially trying to annex us. Derek would keep the title while he lives, but with him being a lower noble, it’d eventually pass to his husband or to their heirs. Not to mention that his spouse—whoever they are—would be an equal ruler of Camria while Derek lives.”

While he lives. The words sank into Derek’s mind, laden with meaning. The marriage contract would still be valid, even if he were to die, effectively passing the fiefdom of Camria to the duke’s family. And with Derek out of the way, they’d be free to do what they wished with it.

He said nothing aloud.

“Can we possibly refuse? Find some pretext to decline the offer?” their mother asked.

Ivo shook his head. “I cannot see how. This is not exactly an offer. More like an order, if courteously worded. The letter continues on to stipulate that the wedding take place as soon as possible. In fact, as soon as it would take Derek to arrive at the duke’s ancestral castle at Irthorg.”

“What about postponing it, then?” Lady Casea turned to Derek in concern. “You’re badly injured. Surely, they cannot expect you to stand at the altar, still bleeding. At least a few months, until you’re well. It will give us time to petition before the High Queen. This is nothing short of coercion under duress.”

There were fading bruises on her neck peeking above the collar of her dress, a yellow imprint of fingers that had nothing to do with the recent battle. Not for the first time, Derek thought that perhaps their father’s death was more of a blessing than a tragedy. It felt treasonous to entertain such notions, as though he was betraying his father’s memory, but he hadn’t imagined the relief in his mother’s eyes when the messenger delivered the awful news. He was ashamed to admit, even to himself, that he’d felt the same relief.

But it also meant he was now the head of the family. It was his duty and his responsibility to protect them after Count Johan had failed to do so. Even if it meant marrying a man he’d never met, who’d nearly destroyed everything he held dear, who might still want him dead.

“I’m not hurt that badly,” Derek heard himself say. “Besides, I hardly think they’d care—or if the Queen would see it quite the same way. The truce expires in a week. If I don’t give an answer by then, I’m afraid there will be no long-standing treaty.”

Casea frowned and was about to say something else, but Derek forestalled her.

“I don’t see any solution other than conforming to Duke Bergen’s wishes. I’d rather not aggravate him while his troops still have free rein within our borders. There would still be an opportunity to do something when we’re not in such dire disadvantage. A marriage can always be annulled should the Queen prove sympathetic to our case.”

“So, we just roll over and give the duke our land?” Macon said. “That’s what he’s really after, isn’t it? He basically threatens us with another war, and he has the audacity to call it a gesture of goodwill!”

“It is goodwill,” Derek said quietly. “He doesn’t need this union to take the land away from us. In fact, nothing is stopping him from storming the keep and killing us all when the truce ends. It would be his right to do so since he was provoked, and frankly, we’ve already seen that Camria cannot hold its own when it comes to military strength.”

As a warrior himself, Derek was loath to admit it. But Camria was a small fiefdom, and its contingent consisted of the Count’s Guard, which numbered only two hundred men, while the rest were mostly peasants who had been hastily called to arms and had little to no fighting experience. That was hardly a match for Mulberny, a much larger and more prosperous domain with a long and bloody history of fending raiding sea pirates off its shores. But of course, these considerations had meant little to his father in the face of a perceived slight.

“You seem very eager to go through with it,” Macon sneered. His eyes were rimmed in red and recessed in deep shadows. “Can’t wait to become the bed toy of our father’s murderer?”

“Macon!” Casea said sharply. “Watch your tongue.”

“I will not!” Macon slammed his hand against the table, making everyone save Derek jump. “He’s only trying to save his own hide while his new husband turns us out of our own home!”

“Will you stop that?” Derek said levelly, fixing his gaze on Macon. He kept a tight rein on his anger. There was no point in getting into a shouting match with his brother, whose grief was perhaps the most acute of all of them. “No one said anything about turning you out. I’m trying to keep all of you safe, and it would be much easier to do from within the duke’s castle than from the chopping block.”

“Yes, much easier for you! You’d be the duke’s lapdog while the rest of us are reduced to beggars!”

Derek’s patience, already frayed, finally snapped.

“Maybe Father should have thought about that before he waged war on Bergen over a fucking river dam and got himself killed!”

Macon rose to his feet so abruptly he knocked over his chair. Without another word, he stormed out of the room, slamming the door with enough force to rattle the flower vase on the side table.

There was an awkward silence while everybody avoided looking at one another.

Derek sighed and ran a jerky hand over his face. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Lady Casea got up from her seat. “I’ve had quite enough of this squabbling. There are still soldiers’ wages and widows’ allowances to be distributed, and I have work to do. Ayleen, come.”

With an apologetic glance at Derek, Ayleen followed Casea out the door.

Derek slumped on the table, propping his head with his right arm. He wasn’t used to being in his mother’s rooms without her there; however, he was in no hurry to leave. They were all tired, hurt, and confused. Derek had barely slept since signing the temporary truce between Camria and Mulberny. The nagging ache in his shoulder had worsened, and now his head was throbbing as well. But he welcomed the pain. It was the only thing keeping him from numbness—and he couldn’t afford to sink into it at the moment.

This was not how he’d imagined coming into his inheritance. Shouldering responsibility was not unfamiliar to him. His father had been more than happy to let Derek handle the more mundane affairs of daily life in the keep and the surrounding villages—though Derek sometimes thought it was so he’d have someone to criticize. But this…this was almost too much to take on. He was good with a sword and possessed sound common sense, which was perhaps enough for a minor ruler of a small fiefdom, but now he had to admit he was in over his head. Despite trying to present a solid front to his family, he had no idea what to do to prevent more harm coming to them.

Ivo coughed delicately, drawing his attention.

“I didn’t want to say anything in front of Mother, but there is something you should know before you make a decision.”

Derek raised his head. He didn’t like the sound of that, but what could possibly make this entire affair worse than it already was?

“What is it?”

“Did you know that Lord Callan was married before?”

“No.” Derek straightened in his chair. He didn’t like the look on Ivo’s face, the one that said he was troubled. It was a bad sign. Unlike Macon, Ivo was rarely visibly upset over anything.

“Well, he was. To an Agiennan clanswoman, no less. I don’t recall her name, but it was about two years ago. Apparently, the duke has a thing for offering his son in marriage to secure his peace treaties.”

“What happened to her?” Derek asked, already knowing he wasn’t going to like the answer.

“She died. Some sort of accident, but…there were whispers about something not being quite right with that story.”

“And you know all of this how?”

Ivo smiled faintly.

“Unlike you, dear brother, I pay attention to rumors. Most of them are nothing more than idle gossip, but some contain a kernel of truth.”

“All this might be just that—nothing more than gossip,” Derek said.

“I’m absolutely certain he was married,” Ivo repeated. “Accidents do happen even to the most lofty, but you’d better be careful. Some people have an unfortunate tendency to bury their spouses all too often.”

“What are you saying?”

“You should consider why Callan wants to marry you—or why his father wants him to. Camria is a well-off fiefdom, but it’s hardly of much strategic importance. The duke’s heir could set his eyes on a much more advantageous match, striking a union with a foreign noble, or even marrying into the royal family. Your nuptials could be nothing more than a stepping stone for whatever larger scheme he envisions.”

“He can’t subjugate Camria based on a marriage contract alone, not until Callan and I either name or produce heirs. The law is clear—if something should happen to me, the fiefdom would pass to my next-of-blood kin. To you.”

“I am not yet of age to inherit. Your husband could be legally appointed regent, and if that is what they’re after, they don’t need you for any longer than your wedding night.” Ivo shrugged. “Once you say your vows and the marriage is consummated, he could contest the inheritance of your fiefdom at the Queen’s Court if you happen to die under tragic circumstances. And then Callan is once again free to take another spouse. Maybe someone more lucrative.”

It appeared Derek had not been the only one to have thought of that, but again, Ivo had always been the smartest of his siblings, and the most astute, despite his age.

“You make him sound like some sort of fairy-tale villain,” Derek protested, out of some stubborn determination to refuse to be intimidated, whether by Ivo or by his own apprehension.

But he couldn’t help feeling there was something odd about the proposal. It seemed entirely extraneous. Whatever treaty Bergen wanted to sign would have been achieved without a marriage contract to strengthen it, given that Camria was at a dire disadvantage. And Derek entertained no illusions about being so desirable a match as to be of particular interest to the other party. Moreover, while arranged marriages were par for the course among the aristocracy, nobles of similar rank (in this case a newly minted count and the heir apparent of a duchy) did not usually enter such unions for precisely the same considerations of seniority of inheritance Ivo had voiced earlier. If this was all about upholding the peace, it would have been much more reasonable for Duke Bergen to ask for Ivo’s hand in future marriage for his son, as he was the only one of Derek’s younger siblings close enough to the age of maturity.

“I’m saying that by agreeing to accept this proposal you might be placing yourself in danger,” Ivo said.

Dont MIss Out on the Release Blitz for Slashed and Mashed: Seven Gayly Subverted Stories by Andrew J. Peters (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Slashed and Mashed: Seven Gayly Subverted Stories

Author: Andrew J. Peters

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 96700

Genre: Fantasy Folklore, LGBT, retold lore/folklore, fantasy, mythical creatures, magic, magic beings, magical reality, trickster, action/adventure, established couple, over 40, Greek mythology, Hungarian folklore, Grimm’s fairytales, Momotarō, historical fiction, jaguar folklore, the Arabian Nights, African folklore, Uncle Remus.

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Synopsis

What really happened when Theseus met the Minotaur? How did demon-slaying Momotarō come to be raised by two daddies? Will Scheherazade’s hapless Ma’aruf ever find love and prosperity after his freeloading boyfriend kicks him out on the street? Classic lore gets a bold remodeling with stories from light-hearted and absurd, earnestly romantic, daring and adventurous, to darkly surreal.

The collection includes: Theseus and the Minotaur, Károly, Who Kept a Secret, The Peach Boy, The Vain Prince, The Jaguar of the Backward Glance, Ma’aruf the Street Vendor, and A Rabbit Grows in Brooklyn.

Award-winning fantasy author Andrew J. Peters (The City of Seven Gods) takes on classical mythology, Hungarian folklore, Japanese legend, The Arabian Nights, and more, in a collection of gayly subverted stories from around the world.

Excerpt

Slashed and Mashed
Andrew J. Peters © 2019
All Rights Reserved

THE GREAT HALL of the king’s palace was vast enough to house a fleet of double-sailed galleys, and its gray, fluted columns, as thick as ancient oaks, seemed to tower impossibly beyond a man’s ken. Prince Theseus had been told, he had been warned of the grandeur of the Cretans, how it was said they were so vain they forged houses to rival the palace of Mount Olympus. Yet to see was to believe. For a spell, the sight of the great hall stole the breath from his lungs and slowed his feet to a stagger. Should not he, a mere mortal, prostrate himself on his knees in a place of such divine might, such miraculous invention? It felt as though he had entered the mouth of a giant who could swallow the world.

No, he reminded himself: this was all pretend, a trick to frighten him and his countrymen, though he only half believed that. Silenos, an aged tutor who Theseus’s father had hired to teach him all things befitting a young man of the learned class, had cautioned him not to trust his eyes, that these pirates of Crete used their riches to build a city of illusions so any navy that endeavored to alight at its shores would be hopelessly confounded and turn back to sea in terror.

Theseus forced a swallow down his bone-dry throat and retook his steps to keep pace with the soldiers who escorted his party into the hall. He had brought his father’s highest-ranking admirals to accompany him, Padmos and Oxartes, and the king had sent three men for each one of them to meet them at the beach where they had rowed ashore. From there, they had been conveyed up a steep, zigzagging roadway to the palace. The armored team looked like an executioner’s brigade rather than a diplomatic corps. They were hard-faced warriors clad in bronze-plated aprons and fringed, blood-red kilts, and they carried spears that could harpoon a monster of the ocean.

He tried to look beyond the many wonders and train his gaze on the distant dais where the king and his court awaited him. Yet curiosity bit at Theseus. Oil-burning chandeliers seemed to hover in the air, hung from chains girded to a sightless ceiling. No terraces had been built to bring in daylight, nor doorways to other precincts of the statehouse, unless they were hidden. Theseus would say it smelled of nothing but damp stone and clay, the cool, cloistered air too sacred to be disturbed by perfumes. The walls shimmered with a metallic reflection of the room’s massive columns, affecting the appearance that the hall went on to infinity. The diamond-patterned carpet on which he trod was one continuous design stretching from the vaulted doorway where he had entered all the way to the other end. Such a carpet was surely large enough to cover the floors of every house in Athens!

As he neared the stately dais, he beheld the king’s high-backed throne of ebony and glimpsed the man himself along with the shadowy members of his court. Theseus lowered his gaze to disguise his impressions. He supposed it also counted as a gesture of respect. He followed the soldiers into a lake of light that glowed from thick-trunked braziers on either side of the hall’s carpeted, shallow stage.

Their steps ended some ten paces in front of the room’s dignitaries, including, of course, the king himself. The armored men knelt on one knee, drummed down the handles of their spears on the floor, and bowed their helmet-capped heads as one company.

That left Theseus and his consorts standing and wondering what to do with themselves for a worrisome moment. To kneel to the king was to surrender Athens’ sovereignty, and that had not been his father’s bargain. Though his princely leather cuirass and his laurel crown felt peasant-like, almost absurd while he stood before the king, Theseus did not break. He glanced to Padmos and Oxartes so they would know they should neither kneel nor bow.

Righteousness grew inside Theseus, arisen from the unsurpassed conviction of a youth of eighteen years who felt well-acquainted with the indignities of the world, though in truth had rarely been cut down to size. As an infant, he had been sent to live in his mother’s village, which was countries apart from the hubbub and political fray of Athens. This, no excess of fatherly protection, but a testament to his father’s severity. People later spoke of his banishment in the ennobling light of superstition, an augury of the night sky or some such according to his father. In any case, Aegeus had decreed: if his son was worthy to succeed him, he must earn the right on his own terms.

For most of his life, Theseus had not known his father. He had not even known of his paternity, though he had lived quite well as a handsome, rugged lad among countryfolk who required no more than that to smile upon him, fetch him apples, give him a rustle on the head when he passed by, a proud acknowledgment he was one of their own. Then came his mother’s confession, and his storied trek to present himself at his father’s court, which he had made on foot across Arcadia, an ungoverned, forested land that had been said to be rampant with all manner of bandits, ogres, and mythical beasts.

In Athens, he was a newcomer, an adventurer, and a fawn-haired swain, all of which earned him magnanimous gossip. Men made way for him, and women smiled and idled when he passed by.

Naturally, young Theseus was aware of none of this, as a favored flower does not question why it thrives in sunlight and has a gardener always at the ready for its succor, while others of its kind turn spiny and dull from negligence. Or, it should be said, a glimpse of his place in the world, past and present, was only just then taking form while he stood in King Minos’s great hall. He did not like how it made him feel.

He shook off the sinking sensation. He would be bold, for he alone stood for Athens in this house of tyranny. As he had heard, these foreigners had butchered his countrymen, raped their women, taken their daughters and sons as slaves, and burned their fields. He would end the war, and it did not matter if he returned to Athens on a white-sailed galley to herald a hero’s return or if a black-sailed ship should come back to his father, signaling that Crete had been his final resting place. So had he decided. He looked to King Minos to begin.

The Cretan king returned his gaze, appraising, taunting, and then he perched in his seat and craned his neck to see beyond the prince, to turn a querulous eye at the headmen of his squadron.

“Where is Athens’ tribute?” he spoke.

He appeared to be no more advanced in years than the prince’s father, a sturdy, dispassionate age. The similarity wore through at that. The king’s chestnut-brown beards were plaited and shone with oil, and he wore a miter banded with red-gold. He was clad in deep cerulean raiment of the finest dye and a draped, red stole, all adorned with fine embroidery and fringe. Theseus had never seen a man so richly clothed and groomed. His father, the wealthiest man in all of Attica, had only a sheep’s fleece and a laurel crown to say he was king.

“King Aegeus has sent me, his son, Theseus of Attica, to answer your request,” Theseus spoke.

Minos pursed his lips, sucked his teeth. “I asked for children.”

That was the compact signed by Theseus’s father to end the war—seven boys and seven girls surrendered to Minos in return for nine years of peace, during which the Cretan king had pledged he would call back his warships.

It was a war begun while Theseus still lived with his mother in the countryside, years before she had taken him to an unfarmed field outside the village and shown him his father’s buried sword, from which he came to know his origins. Theseus had only arrived in Athens one season past and been apprised of the history. This heartless war borne from a tragic misunderstanding.

Two years ago, Minos sent his son Androgeus to Athens on a friendly embassy, and when Theseus’s father took the youth on a hunt to see something of his country’s pastimes, Androgeus was thrown from his horse and landed headfirst on a rock. No physician nor priest could restore him. His spark of life had been extinguished all at once.

Aegeus returned the prince’s body to Crete with all due sacraments and respects. He had been washed to prepare him for his passage to the afterworld, and the king sent him across the sea on a bier of sacred cypress, ferried on his finest ship, oared by his best sailors, and with a bounty of funereal offerings, gold and silver, many times more than his kingdom could afford. Yet Minos declared treachery and turned fire and fury against Athens.

Three seasons the war had raged, and after a decisive battle on the Saronic Gulf, Minos claimed the vital sea passage and installed a naval blockade, robbing Athens of her trade routes and slowly starving her. Aegeus appealed to the Cretan king for an armistice. An emissary from Crete returned with the tyrant’s reply: fourteen innocent lives for the price of his son. This, after Crete had already extracted the lives of thousands of fighting men in payment for Androgeus, whose death could only be blamed on the mysterious Fates.

Aegeus decided he had no choice but to agree to the king’s terms, and his council supported him. The Athenian navy was no match for the foreigners neither by the numbers nor by the craftsmanship of their vessels. The Cretans flung barrels of fire from catapults. Their triremes were faster and their battering rams were more potent, carving apart a galley on a single run. The Athenian fleet had dwindled to a dozen vessels. Their forests were stripped of lumber, and even if they had the resources, their shipbuilders could not assemble new warships fast enough. Food shortages had depleted their force of able-bodied men to defend the city. Without a reprieve from war, the next attack on Athens would be the last. Who could stop an army empowered by the God of the Sea?

But after the lottery had been held, and weeping fathers from all parts of the country brought their sons and daughters to the naval pier where they would be ferried to Crete, Theseus could not bear it. He looked upon the children, stunned as lambs without their mothers, and wept for them, and wept for his country, and wept for the shame of being part of this abomination.

Then, in a rush of rage, Theseus attacked the sailors who would lead the children to the ship. He had come to know them as friends, yet all he saw were blank-faced monsters. By grace, he had only had his fists, and no man raised a blade to stop him. Theseus shoved, struck, and menaced perhaps a dozen before they overtook him and held him fast by his neck and arms. A terrible blackness ate up his vision, and, inspirited with a daemon’s strength, Theseus threw off his captors. He turned his fury at his father who stood at the landside end of the quay with his councilors.

Theseus shouted at them vicious oaths he had not known were in his vocabulary, and he spat at them. Did they not know what they were doing was an offense to the goddess? It was a betrayal of every free man of Attica. His throat was scorched from shouting, his voice hoarse, and he fell to his knees, dropping his bonnet, weeping and pulling at his thick, curled hair.

He looked up at his father. “Please, send me.”

Now Theseus faced King Minos intrepidly. “I have been chosen to stand for the children. I have only eighteen years, turned just this past season, and I am my father’s only son. I will face your contest.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

Andrew J. Peters has been writing fiction since his elementary school principal let him read excerpts from his mystery novel over the PA system during lunch period, an early brush with notoriety, which quite possibly may have been the height of his literary celebrity. Since then, he has studied to be a veterinarian, worked as a social worker for LGBTQ youth, and settled into university administration, while keeping late hours at his home computer writing stories. He is the author of eight books, including the award-winning The City of Seven Gods (2017 Best Horror/Fantasy Novel at the Silver Falchion awards) and the popular Werecat series (2016 Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice awards finalist). Andrew lives in New York City with his husband Genaro and their cat Chloë. When he’s not writing, he enjoys travelling, Broadway shows, movies, and thinking up ways to subvert heteronormative narratives.

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Love That Hint of the Magical in your Stories? Check Out the New Release Blitz for He Dreams Magic by Emme C. Taylor (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: He Dreams Magic

Author: Emme C. Taylor

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 28, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 88100

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, alternate universe, literature, horror, captivity, magic, magic users, action/adventure, monsters, slow burn

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Ren has always wanted to leave, to escape his quiet village life. He wakes up from gold-tinged dreams with his heart pounding and a yearning for something he can’t name, can’t hold. He longs to experience something magical just once in his life.

Nico’s monsters don’t lurk under the bed. They walk in daylight. They haunt him every day of his life. He’s possibly the strongest magician of his time, yet he’s trapped. All he wants is an out.

At a magical carnival in the middle of a forest, Ren and Nico collide. They’ve been on this collision course their entire lives, always hurtling toward each other. For both men, escape is now. They have no choice but to flee together. Monsters and betrayal hunt them across strange lands. They find themselves on a journey to save each other—and possibly the world. All they have is one another, Nico’s magic, and a lifetime of half-remembered dreams. But finding each other, finally having someone to rely on, might be the strongest magic of all.

Excerpt

He Dreams Magic
Emme C. Taylor © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Ren

The lake was on fire. Ren dipped his oars into the water and swept himself closer to the blaze, each stroke an exultation. He’d been waiting months for this, counting down the hot summer weeks to autumn and rain and flames.

He was ready to throw himself into the burn.

The fire came on time, as it did every year. The first rainstorm of autumn brought them down from the sky. Or so the story was told. Ren couldn’t quite bring himself to believe they rode through the skies on storm clouds and dropped to the ground between thunderclaps, stealing their impossible power from the lightning.

Then again, they were magicians. Anything was possible.

Ren’s village, Klein, lay huddled in the dark at his back. On the opposite shore, half the forest flickered red. The low clouds caught and held the glowing light from below. The spectacle could be seen from every village in the surrounding valley, a beacon: come, step into the heat, play with us, burn with us.

For the first time in his life, he was going to see it up close. From the quiet safety of Klein, the spectacle always gave the impression of a town set aflame. So near to it, it wasn’t like that at all. More like the whole world had ignited. His fingers around the wood paddles twitched with anticipation. This was it. Finally. Finally.

By the time Ren reached the middle of the lake, half of it alight, a bright crimson flared across the surface and leaped like waves in wind. Reflections set the rest of the lake ablaze so that it seemed to Ren he was sitting in the very middle of the conflagration. So far, he had avoided the areas of the lake that had caught flame.

Magic. God, yes. He could practically taste it in the air, and he wanted more of it. He’d dreamed of magic for years, a gold thread of it always in his mind’s eye. Since childhood, magic remained a ball of yearning lodged in his chest. Ren had to see it for himself. Touch it. Experience it. He wanted to drink it, have it sear his throat.

For years, he’d heard whispers of this from people in nearby villages, those who had gotten close to it over the years.

Those who’d walked through it—and come out on the other side.

Ren paused in the middle of the lake to take it all in. He would be seeing fire in his dreams that night.

His turn had come to walk into this wild world.

He dug his oars into the lake, his reflection rippling away from the boat with each stroke. Ren pushed himself closer to the ruby burn, a moth drawn to the dangerous lure of light.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Emme C. Taylor can be found wandering stormy beaches with a pen and notebook in hand, waiting for inspiration or lightning to strike. She believes the atmospheric environment helps her to write the grittiest parts of her stories. Crochet and dark chocolate ease her mind when her characters aren’t cooperating. Emme will happily talk about almost anything to avoid having to talk about herself. How about this weather, huh?

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Love Your Romance Combined with A Supernatural Chill? Check Out the Release Blitz And Giveaway for Treasure Trail by Morgan Brice (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Treasure Trail

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy MM paranormal romance

Trope/s: Second chance, friends to lovers, starting over, psychic/medium and a cop, mystery, action/adventure,

Themes: Taking a chance on love, running from your past, trust, friendship, found family

Heat Rating:  4 flames

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Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

When a missing antique shows up under mysterious circumstances, Ben and Erik are plunged into danger as a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface. Someone wants those secrets to stay buried—and is willing to add Ben and Erik to the death toll to keep the past hidden.

 

Blurb

Erik Mitchell traveled the world uncovering art fraud and relic theft, which pitted him against spoiled billionaires, unscrupulous collectors, mobsters and cartels. He worked with law enforcement across the US and Europe, but a sting goes wrong and Erik ends up injured, then returns to find his partner cheating. Erik decides to stop globe trotting and buy an antique shop in scenic Cape May, NJ, rebuild his life, and nurse his broken heart.

Undercover Newark cop Ben Nolan went down in a hail of bullets when a bust went sideways, after a tip-off from a traitor inside the department. After he recovers, he spends a couple of years as a private investigator, only to tire of seeing the worst of human nature. So when his aunt offers him the chance to take over her rental real estate business in Cape May, it seems too good to be true. Now if he could just believe he could ever be lucky again in love.

When a missing antique shows up under mysterious circumstances, Ben and Erik are plunged into danger as a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface. Someone wants those secrets to stay buried—and is willing to add Ben and Erik to the death toll to keep the past hidden.

 

 

Excerpt

“If the show proposal goes through, it will really put Treasure Trail and Trinkets on the map!” Corinne Scott had the bouncy enthusiasm required of an agent, and it came across as clear over the phone as it did in person.

“It’s exciting, but let’s wait before we break out the champagne,” Erik Mitchell protested. He had been dealing with the chaos of unpacking boxes and living out of a suitcase for two weeks, since his move to Cape May, New Jersey, and the complete uprooting of his life. “If they’re counting on using my supposed notoriety to sell the show, they might be disappointed. There’s a lot I can’t talk about—and it’s mostly the exciting parts.”

“You traveled the world stopping art and antiquities fraud,” Corinne continued, undeterred. “It’s like something out of Indiana Jones.”

Erik winced. Much as he loved those movies, Indy was more like the kind of guy he helped bust for swiping relics. “Um…not really. I spent a lot of time in the back rooms of museums going over old stuff with a magnifying glass. And I only got shot at a few times.”

That was enough. A collector with a very rare Fabergé egg music box wanted Erik to authenticate the egg for the buyer. Unfortunately, there were other interested parties, and they all brought more muscle than brains. The deal went sideways when they decided to negotiate with guns; all hell broke loose, and Erik nearly died. He ended up with a concussion, a bullet wound in his shoulder, and nightmares verging on PTSD.

“This wouldn’t be anything so dangerous!” Corinne was in full sales mode now. “It’s only six episodes, and it’s the local PBS station. All the crimes have already been solved. You’re just on camera for the expert cameos, and to toss out some advice on how to avoid buying fake art or accidentally stealing priceless relics.”

The longer Corinne talked, the more Erik became convinced the whole TV show was a colossal mistake. He had relocated to Cape May from Atlanta to get away from the sensational—and dangerous—aspects of his old life. Sure, chasing down art fraud had been his dream job, like something out of a thriller novel. His younger self had relished the constant travel and intermittent danger, and the work paid well—in headlines and in a very healthy salary.

Then there was the clusterfuck bust and Erik’s injury. He realized that he was ready to move on, settle down, and step out of the spotlight. He’d thought his boyfriend, Josh, would be happy about the change. Then he got home a few days earlier than expected and found Josh banging Erik’s personal assistant on the dining room table.

After all the shouting and tears were over, Erik found himself single and lacking an assistant. He’d decided right then to leave his old world behind. That meant getting out of Atlanta, out of the apartment he’d shared with Josh, and going somewhere he could get a fresh start.

 

 

About the Author

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

Join my Worlds of Morgan Brice Facebook Group! Get the early scoop on upcoming books and new series, see new covers first, enjoy insider news and special contests and giveaways! Plus it’s where I get my beta readers and launch team! 

 

Author Links

Amazon

Facebook Group

Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail)

Twitter: @MorganBriceBook

Website

BookBub

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your choice of ebook from Morgan’s backlist and a $10 Amazon gift card.

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COVER REVEAL for Treasure Trail by Morgan Brice

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COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Treasure Trail

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy MM paranormal romance

Trope/s: Second chance, friends to lovers, starting over, psychic/medium and a cop, mystery, action/adventure,

Themes: Taking a chance on love, running from your past, trust, friendship, found family

Heat Rating:  4 flames

 

When a missing antique shows up under mysterious circumstances, Ben and Erik are plunged into danger as a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface. Someone wants those secrets to stay buried—and is willing to add Ben and Erik to the death toll to keep the past hidden.

Blurb

Erik Mitchell traveled the world uncovering art fraud and relic theft, which pitted him against spoiled billionaires, unscrupulous collectors, mobsters and cartels. He worked with law enforcement across the US and Europe, but a sting goes wrong and Erik ends up injured, then returns to find his partner cheating. Erik decides to stop globe trotting and buy an antique shop in scenic Cape May, NJ, rebuild his life, and nurse his broken heart.

Undercover Newark cop Ben Nolan went down in a hail of bullets when a bust went sideways, after a tip-off from a traitor inside the department. After he recovers, he spends a couple of years as a private investigator, only to tire of seeing the worst of human nature. So when his aunt offers him the chance to take over her rental real estate business in Cape May, it seems too good to be true. Now if he could just believe he could ever be lucky again in love.

When a missing antique shows up under mysterious circumstances, Ben and Erik are plunged into danger as a cursed hotel’s long-ago scandals resurface. Someone wants those secrets to stay buried—and is willing to add Ben and Erik to the death toll to keep the past hidden.

 

About the Author

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

Join my Worlds of Morgan Brice Facebook Group! Get the early scoop on upcoming books and new series, see new covers first, enjoy insider news and special contests and giveaways! Plus it’s where I get my beta readers and launch team! 

 

Author Links

Amazon

Facebook Group

Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail)

Twitter: @MorganBriceBook

Website

BookBub

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a new release

 

 

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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

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Twitter: @mazmaddox  

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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