A MelanieM Review: Up The Ante: Four of Clubs Two (Pulp Friction 2015 Book 7) by Parker Williams

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Up the Ante coverTwo months ago, Ben Nelson stepped between a vengeful demon and psychic Artie Middleton—and has been paying for that decision ever since. Now that the last rites have been administered, doctors are ready to pull the plug on the young police detective. The trouble is, Artie has seen his future and knows that Ben belongs there.

When a friend suggests a solution that seems…out of this world, Artie must face Ben’s parents and convince them that there’s a chance their son can be saved. Unfortunately, even if he succeeds, every good deed comes with a price.

And someone is always waiting to up the ante.

I’ve been waiting impatiently to see what happened next after the soul gathering demon attacked Ben and Artie in The Devil’s Bedpost (love that title).  And while I was waiting, I heard through ripples in the Force, that this story was going to make me want to hunt the author down with a torch and pitchfork because of the ending. Did that happen?  Yes, trust in the Force!  What a story!  And what a spine tingling ending that is almost quaranteed to make you scream in frustration and anguish.

Pulp Friction stories and their series are always accompanied by a rollercoaster of suspense, chills, close calls and lethal encounters.  But never more so than in this year’s inter-connected stories in the Altered States universe.  And that brings us back to the last moments in The Devil’s Bedpost where we weren’t sure who lived, who died…we were just left to panic and ponder.

Well, the wait is over.  Up The Ante picks up two months after the events in the  first book, and things are as disheartening and unsettled as never before.  Ben lies in a coma in the hospital, hooked up to the machines with everyone losing hope for his recovery.  And Artie is blaming himself and isolating himself from the few friends he has.  It’s a desolate picture and Williams brings us into Artie’s heart and thoughts as he despairs of finding a way of helping Ben.  We feel Artie’s pain, exhaustion, and desperation and we are there with him in spirit because we have become so fond of Ben ourselves in such a short amount of time.

One of the things that helps to complete a characterization, to give it a full fleshed out persona, is to make the supporting players around that character so believable that they add weight to his authenticity.  That happens here with Ben and his family.  We meet them all in the hospital where they have gathered, helplessly waiting to hear more from the doctors.  There’s his mom, dad, sister and her husband.  Each a well-defined character that grounds Ben in a family that loves him.  And that element helps to point out its lack in Artie.  Artie’s family is made up of a dog of a surprising nature, and his small weird group of supernatural friends.  That they are his family as well is something Artie becomes aware of during the story.   How I loved/hated these hospital moments with Ben so close to death because it allows Artie to finally start to accept his feelings for Ben and the idea that Artie might have/had more of a life then he ever dreamed of.  It’s lovely, and sad, and life changing.

It’s the entrance of Tempest, the witch who works in the occult bookstore owned by Travis Boudreaux (Altered States series). She’s a strong female character, just as charismatic as the rest and I adored her.  She heralds a sea change for those characters we have been concentrating our emotions on for so long.  And hope appears along with her…

But remember those ripples in the Force I was telling you about?  And yes, because this is only the second story, you know that things have to get nasty before they get better, so yes again, Parker Williams throws a boulder into the water at the end, and it’s not ripples but a tidal wave of emotion that will hit you at last word.  I’d get out my pitchfork as threatened but I need the author to continue the story, to fix things and make it all better for all of us.  Argh and sigh…because the ante has most definitely been “upped”.

But ignore all that gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, I am loving every angst-filled bit of this story and series.  It’s so well written, that the pages and plot fly by so I often have to go back and reread parts to see what clues or omens I may have missed.  And really, that dog Duke?  Priceless.  Grab up this series and prepare to fall in love with peculiar and wonderful men in love, a story full of shocks and surprises and world building elements that never stop entertaining or intriguing you.  Don’t start here, however, go back to the first story and read them in sequence.  It’s the only way to understand the overall series plot and character development.  Happy Reading and Anxious Waiting!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I still wish for more of a dark element (not dark colors) to be included.  This is a series that includes demons and the occult so I wished for more of that in the design than a serious, sort of grumpy model.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 61 pages
Published May 13th 2015
ASINB00XNPWOCG
edition languageEnglish

About Pulp Friction 2015

Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.
Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Round Two:
Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil
Stud Player (King of Hearts: 2) by Havan Fellows
Up the Ante (Four of Clubs: 2)  by Parker Williams
Diamond Draw (Ace of Diamonds: 2) by Laura Harner

A MelanieM Review: Diamonds & Dust: Ace of Diamonds One by Laura Harner

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(PF 2015: Altered States Book 4)

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Diamonds & Dust coverAfter the traumatic events that left Jamal ‘Jet’ Gorman’s  the de facto Alpha of his pack, the time has come for Jet to take up the responsibilities and problems of a job he never wanted or thought would be his. There are rumblings of others who would fight him to the death for the position, and others maneuvering behind the scenes to make sure that Jet’s time as Alpha is a short one.  Jet isn’t certain that’s not a fitting way to exit this world…even if it puts the werewolves he’s sworn to protect in the hands of a ruthless killer. A trip to the bayou with the ancient and enigmatic new vampire in town changes everything—in ways Jet would never have predicted. Now his new mission is safeguarding his late partner’s secret.

Nicolino Sanzio da Urbino—Nico to his friends, if he had any—has been undead for centuries, and given the betrayals in his own past, it shouldn’t surprise him the depths some will go to in order to seize a power to which they have no claim. After leaving his position with the Vampire Council behind, Nico’s new job with the Odd Squad provides more flexibility and challenges. It also comes with a lot more latitude when meting out justice, so when he discovers a plot to rid the local pack of their second Alpha in as many months, Nico decides it’s time to go hunting. That is until he meets Jet and everything gets…personal.

With hearts as hard as diamonds, neither man is seeking the odd connection that seems to flow between them—but the winds of change blowing through the Crescent City seem to have everyone on edge—and not all challenges are as simple as they seem. With more and more monsters coming out of the closet, only time will tell if these two survive long enough to play the hand they’ve been dealt—before they become dust in the wind.

I know, I know, I say this with each story, but Diamonds & Dust by Laura Harner may be my favorite. At least until the 2nd books in the next round pop up.  I love Jet and the events that have already occurred at the beginning of this story shocked me!  No way did I see that coming.  And it left me a little heartbroken over Jet’s loss.

Then I met Nico.   Heartbreak gone.

In fact I couldn’t even remember that much about Russ (Russ, right?) because Nico’s first, second, and third impressions are strong, charismatic, and absolutely addicting.  He is everything that Jet (and the reader) needs. And the same holds true for Nico.  Jet is that one being he has been waiting for.  They are each other’s yin to the yang, the magnets that cling instead of repel.   Their push me/pull you meeting and beginnings of a relationship hooked me in throughly. And when that is framed by a storyline full of vicious assaults, deep plotting by everyone around, evil doers on the loose, and tons of hot sex, well, you have the setup for a memorable and yes, haunting series.

Harner’s writing style is concise, her prose tight and expressive, and the storyline is propelled along at break neck speed.  You will want to slow it down to savor certain lines or situations but the cast and plot won’t let you tarry.  It hurls you along until you reach the….argh….cliffhanger.   Yes,  yet another ending that leaves you hanging.  But that’s what serialized stories do best.  Leave you hanging and wanting more.

This Pulp Friction series, PF 2015 Altered States, is “guaraunteeeed” (try saying it in the late Justin Wilson’s voice) to make you a little crazy.  No one is safe, lots of people are going to die (and just maybe come back), with plots that are as hard to tie down as a will o the wisp!  And I love every word and exclamation point of it.  These stories are as addicting and satisfying as a New Orleans beignet!

But don’t take my word for it.  This is the  end of the first round of stories.  Get in on the beginning.  It really doesn’t matter which series you start with.  Diamonds & Dust: Ace of Diamonds One by Laura Harner is a terrific place to start.  Or go back even further to the Altered States series written by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb, that sets out the universe for the characters and events that happen here.  Do that for a wildly scary and fantastic ride into the supernatural and beyond.  One of my highly recommended reads!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Loving this group of covers, including this one.

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 1st 2015 by Smashwords Edition (first published March 31st 2015)
ISBN13 9781941841082

About Pulp Friction 2015
Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.
Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.
Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Round Two:

Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil

Snowy Days and Reading, This Week’s Schedule at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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 snowman readingBrrrrr.….it’s Cold Outside (at least for most of us!)

Is there anything better than curling up with a great book and perhaps some hot chocolate on a snowy day?  Maybe curling with my Kindle and 3 Terriers! All warm and snuggly as the flakes fall outside and the wind makes the branches rattle.  Then time for knitting and writing. I have read so many new wonderful stories recently and I can’t wait to share them with you along with the rest of the reviewers and their recent discoveries.

Coming up soon is the first story from Lee Brazil and the Pulp Friction 2015 group serial! More about that later today! The group is New Orleans bound and there’s plenty of supernatural goings on!  I just finished a new urban fantasy from Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn, Quinn’s Gambit!  It’s the first story in their new Aura series. Loved it!  And we are reading and reviewing MLR Books Storming Love: Blizzard collection, appropriate, right?  Look for the first 3 out of 6 stories to be reviewed this week.  We are also reviewing more series to come. Look for that in upcoming posts.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is also on Facebook now.  Be sure to stop by (and give us a Like if you would)!

And happy belated Valentine’s Day to all!  If you are on Pinterest and/or just love books, check out Megan Kerr’s website.  She has some wonderful images there, including this one that I thought was pretty darn perfect!

books_castle-snow-whole_sma

Publisher Announcements:

♥Dreamspinner Press: “Celebrate romance with us! Enjoy 25% off the entire store (including in-stock paperbacks) from now through February 15.” This weekend only.

♥Riptide Publishing:  Happy Valentine’s Day from Us!  Get $5.00 off a purchase of $15.00 or more at riptidepublishing.com with the coupon valentines2015. This weekend only, so don’t wait to celebrate!

♥Totally Bound Books:Holly Gunner of Totally Bound Books wants me to get the word out that they are expanding!!  Check this out! They have a new publishing house dedicated to solely LTGBQ fiction.  This is what they announced:

Our flagship publishing house, Totally Bound Publishing, has been offering Erotic Romance books for eight years, working with more than 400 authors, and releasing six – nine books per week. We are a leader of erotic romance fiction in Europe and intend to keep expanding on that. Totally Bound Publishing will always be the Home of Erotic Romance and continue to publish the best quality Erotic Romance Fiction. 2015 sees the birth of three new publishing houses: Finch Books, Pride Publishing and Evidence Press, diversifying and expanding the group.

Our plan is to launch each house in fairly quick succession during the year, starting with Pride Publishing with a hopeful date of February/March. The main reason for this is to separate out our gay fiction from Totally Bound, leaving that to focus on hetero books and allow Pride Publishing to develop gay fiction more fully.

Finch Books will be our Young Adult division and we anticipate a launch late Spring of 2015. Evidence Press will be our Crime & Thriller publishing house and we anticipate a launch in the Autumn of 2015.

If you are interested in writing for these new and exciting publishing houses, please check out the submission calls on our website. For a taster, here’s our Pride Publishing submission call.

Totally Entwined

 

 

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This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words!

Sunday, February 15:

  • Snowy Days and Reading, This Week’s Schedule at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Introducing Pulp Friction 2015! Pulp Friction 2015- Book #1 Jack of Spades, Drawing Dead by Lee Brazil

Monday,  February 16 (President’s Day for those of us in the US)

  • On Tour with Sean Michael’s Love Matters (contest)
  • Tour and Contest:  A Very Holland Valentine (Holland Brothers #6) by Toni Griffin
  • Book Blast: Whispers of Home by April Kelley (contest)
  • A Paul B Review: Renounced by Bailey Bradford
  • A Mika Review: Jackdaw by K.J. Charles

Tuesday, February 17:

  • Cover reveal for Lou Sylvre ‘A Shot of J & B‘ (contest)
  • Virtual Book Tour: Right Here Waiting by K.E. Belledonne (contest)
  • Book Focus: Jaime Reese’s A Restored Man (contest)
  • Book Spotlight: Here for You by Mia Kerick tour and contest
  • A Mika Review: Please Remember Me by Jacob Z. Flores
  • A Stella Review: Neon White E2 (A Tooth Claw and Horns Chronicle #2) by Wulf Francu Godgluck

Wednesday, February 18:

  • In the Book Spotlight: The Wrong Man by Lane Hayes (author interview/contest)
  • Author Guest Blog: Chase and Capture by Hurri Cosmo (Character interview/contest)
  • A Stella Review: Neon White E3 (A Tooth Claw and Horns Chronicle #3) by Wulf Francu Godgluck
  • A MelanieM Review: Right Here Waiting by K. E. Belledonne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Turkish Delights by Trina Lane

Thursday, February 19:

  • The Phoenix Embryo by Jeanne Marcella Book Blast
  • A Sammy Review: Chance of the Heart by Kade Boehme
  • A MelanieM Review: Kimo and Mike from Storming Love: Blizzard by Neil Plakcy
  • A MelanieM Review:  Jens and Elliot, Storming Love: Blizzard by Sara York
  • A Barb The Zany Old Lady Review: Quiet Nights by Mary Calmes

Friday, February 20:

  • Book Tour: In Darkest Peru by Louise Lyons
  • Book Spotlight:  Theory Unproven by Lilian Francis
  • Rules To Live By Anthology Tour and Contest
  • Book Spotlight: When In Bloom by Nicole Dennis (contest)
  • A MelanieM Review: Getting It Right by A. M. Arthur
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Stay with Me Audio book by SE Harmon

Saturday, February 21:

  • A Stella Review: A Working Man (Men of Manhattan #4) by Sandrine Gasq-Dion
  • A MelanieM Review: Seth and Casey Storming Love: Blizzard by RJ Scott