Let the Romance Heat Up with the Summer Lovin’ Anthology (giveaway and excerpts)

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Title:  Summer Lovin’

Author: LJ Hamlin, Janelle Reston, Eric Thornton, Jessica Chase, A. M. Leibowitz, Sarah Hadley Brook

Publisher:  Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date:  7/20/2016

Heat Level: ranges from 1-4

Pairing: F/F and M/M

Length: 44,000

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Gay Romance, Lesbian Romance, Anthology

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Synopsis

Back in the 1950s, leather jackets, white t-shirts, and poodle skirts were the biggest styles, and going “parking” was all the rage. Summer flings were the thing to do, whether it be with the cute tomboy that caught your eye in school, your older brother’s friend, or the hot mechanic who fixes your car just right. In Summer Lovin’, love doesn’t only have to last the summer.

These six stories are penned by both seasoned scribes and new authors; the anthology provides readers with the perfect opportunity to explore offerings from their favorite storytellers as well as find a new favorite or two.

Containing F/F and M/M stories from authors LJ Hamlin, Janelle Reston, Eric Thornton, Jessica Chase, A. M. Leibowitz, Sarah Hadley Brook, Summer Lovin’ is sure to have something for fifties loving readers.

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Excerpt

 

“You okay, little man?”

Billy startled at the deep, husky voice near his ear and turned to see his new acquaintance leaning into the car, watching him closely. He swallowed and tried not to focus on the musky scent rolling off the dark haired stranger. Fighting the urge to lean in and breathe him in, Billy’s eyes swept over the chiseled jaw, dark stubble and, oh god, those full rosy lips, before rising back up to meet his gaze. Deep chocolate eyes peered into his green ones, searching for something. Wait… He asked something, right?

“Umm, what did you say?”

A smile spread across his face and Billy trembled. God, he was the sexiest man Billy had ever seen.

“I asked if you were okay,” he repeated slowly.

Billy’s eyebrows furrowed then, and he looked down at the keys in his hand, his mind trying to process something. His eyes widened at the memory and he turned his gaze back at the stranger. “Wait! Did you call me ‘little man’?” he asked, incensed.

The sexy man nodded.

Billy harrumphed, his irritation obvious.

“Give me your name and I’ll stop calling you that,” the greaser offered, still smiling. The dimple in his left cheek only upped his sexiness.

“William Hadley. Billy,” he whispered, his cheeks heating up. “And, I’m five eight,” he huffed. Why did he say that? Why did he care what this guy thought of him?

“Well, Billy,” he leaned in closer, letting his breath ghost across Billy’s face. “I’m Gene Milgram and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Gene,” Billy repeated, letting the name roll around on his tongue for a minute and swallowing hard when he realized Gene was still leaning into the car. “Um, I guess I need to call someone to tow it, huh? I wonder if there’s a pay phone anywhere near.”

Gene grinned. “Nope. But I can help you.”

Billy’s eyes widened. “You can? On a motorcycle?” He glanced back uncertainly at the small bike. “Um, yeah, I don’t think that’s strong enough to—”

Gene’s laughter rumbled out into the darkness and Billy looked him as if he was crazy. Did this guy seriously think a motorcycle could tow a big car?

“Sorry, Billy,” he chuckled. “No, I didn’t mean my bike. I own an auto shop and I just closed up a little while ago. Why don’t we just head back and get the tow truck and take care of things?”

“We?” Billy squeaked, glancing at the motorcycle again, his heart hammering in his chest.

Gene waggled his eyebrows at him, laughing. “Well, yeah, I can’t just leave you here in the dark. What if another opossum decides to pull something crazy again?”

Billy felt his face heat up. He knew Gene was just being friendly, but it had been a long time since another man had made him feel so off-kilter, even though he was sure Gene was straight. He looked back over his shoulder again and wrestled with his fear of motorcycles. Something told him that he could trust this man, though.

Sighing deeply, he finally nodded. Gene pulled the car door open and waited, his hand on the door handle. Once he climbed out, he felt a little lightheaded, swaying a little before Gene’s arm snaked around his waist, holding him close to his side.

“Whoa, there. You feeling dizzy?” Gene’s mouth was so close his breath caressed Billy’s neck, sending a shiver down his spine.

Billy nodded a little, feeling foolish. “My head hit the steering wheel, but my arms cushioned the blow. I think…I think I’m just a little dazed.”

Gene nodded his understanding and helped him up the short hill to his bike, parked on the side of the road. Billy startled when he saw it up close.

“That’s a 1947 Triumph Speed Twin! Is that a custom paint job?” Enthusiasm won out over his fear as he leaned in and traced his fingers along the seat.

Gene’s eyes widened in amazement and he finally let his arm slip away from Billy’s waist. “You know about bikes?”

“Yeah, a little. When I was a kid, I dreamed of owning one, but my mom always said they were too dangerous, of course. Then when I saw James Dean riding one, I decided to learn more about them. Last year, I finally decided to try taking a spin and I…I…” His face reddened and he looked at the ground. “I fell off the bike before I even started it,” he admitted.

Gene chuckled a little, but wisely kept his thoughts to himself.

Billy smiled, “Yeah, it wasn’t funny at the time, but…” He cleared his throat. “So, um, how do we do this?”

The greaser handed him the helmet. “Only got one and no way am I letting you ride without one.” He grinned. “You seem a little accident-prone to me.”

 

From “The Great Pretender” by Sarah Hadley Brook

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Torquere Press

Summer Lovin SquareMeet the Author

LJ Hamlin – L.J.Hamlin is a twenty something (getting older every day) writer, who has been writing all her life, mainly in notebooks no one else ever saw. But then she found M/M groups online and was encouraged by friends to share her stories. After a while (with a lot of pushing) she got brave enough to try getting published, so she could share with more people, and she hopes to never stop. LJ loves cats, and pretty much all animals, is a collector of many things, often weird, but most of all books.

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/L.j.hamlin91

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LjHamlin

Blog http://ljhamlinbooks.blogspot.com/

 

Janelle Reston – Janelle Reston is a pansexual powerhouse whose F/F and queer romance has appeared in numerous anthologies. Hobbies include watching The X-Files and making sexual innuendos. She lives in a northern lake town with her partner and their black cats.

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/janellereston/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/janellereston

Tumblr: http://janellereston.tumblr.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/jreston

Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/janellereston

 

Eric Thornton – Eric Thornton tends to write what comes to mind. You never know what could come from him next. He lives in the south with his spouse who supports his work.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eric.j.roberts.5

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ericbkroberts/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Eric_Thornton_1

 

Jessica Chase – : Jessica Chase has been writing for what seems like her entire life, and finished her first short story at the age of five.  It wasn’t very good.  Since then, she’s improved a great deal, but writing has continued to be her passion.  She loves reading and enjoys exploring the worlds of others as well as creating her own and has been involved in several writing groups.  She writes all kinds of relationships and is always looking to write more, but M/M and F/F romance is something she is particularly fond of.  She enjoys fantasy and horror, and loves putting her own spin on the genres and creating interesting characters and worlds.  Jessica studied at Oxford University and fell in love with the city and its weird quirks and traditions.  She still reads anything she can get her hands on and spends her weekends wandering around various museums and old houses, walking through the countryside looking for inspiration, or sitting in the garden and playing with her pet tortoises.  She is lucky enough to have the support of some wonderful friends.

Website: http://chasestories.webs.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.chase.96387

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jchasestories

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jessicachasewri/

Other Social Media: http://JChaseStories.blogspot.co.uk

 

A.M. Leibowitz – A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Ze keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. Hir published fiction includes four novels as well as a number of short works, and hir stories have been included in anthologies from Supposed Crimes, Witty Bard, and Mischief Corner Books. In between noveling and editing, ze blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and hir family.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amymitchell29

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/UnchainedFaith/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amyunchained

Pinterest: https://twitter.com/amyunchained

Web site: http://amleibowitz.com

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8544236.A_M_Leibowitz

 

Sarah Hadley Brook – Sarah Hadley Brook lives in the Midwest and is a mother of two wonderful young men. During the day, she works in the non-profit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. She believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.

Website: www.sarahhadleybrookwrites.com

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of the Summer Lovin’ Anthology.

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Want Some Spooktacular Stories? Check Out Haunted Hotties In Time for All Hallows Eve! (Excerpt and giveway)

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Author Names: Kiernan Kelly, Laney Cairo, Alex Cohen, Katey Hawthorne,
Jamie Jennings, Aaron Michaels, Jacey Mills, L.J. Hamlin, Shira Glassman,
Sheri Velarde, Kassandra Lea, Mychael Black

Book Name: Haunted Hotties Volume 1
Release Date: October 14, 2015

Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

Buy the book:  Torquere Books

 

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Blurb(s)

This Halloween collection has a little something for everybody. With demons, ghosts, psychics, reapers, shifters, and witches… a rainbow of paranormal/supernatural is included.

In Nine-Tenths of the Law by Kiernan Kelly, Oliver discovers he has a haunted sex toy. In Bear Hugs by Laney Cairo, Martin’s boyfriend might be bear shifter and apparently that’s news to him. In Houdini’s Masquerade by Alex Cohen, when Lila meets a succubus, everything changes. In Præsidium by Katey Hawthorne, Thackeray needs helps from a witch who won’t help him until he explains his demon. In Black Cat by Jamie Jennings, when a cat shifter can see ghosts, Micah’s simple life suddenly isn’t. In Haunted Honeymoon by Aaron Michaels, Dylan and Jake seem to be sharing their non-honeymoon with a couple of ghosts.

In And the Tarot Cards Said by Jacey Mills, an insistent ghost shouldn’t be too much to handle for psychic Vassily and his Tarot-reading assistant Ben. In Spirit Wolf by L.J. Hamlin, when Dawson rescues an injured wolf shifter, it’s not just his book that gets worked on while getting back to nature. In Wet Nails by Shira Glassman, it’s not every day a glamorous ’50s actress comes out of a TV but lonely grad student Adina isn’t complaining. In Possessed by Love by Sheri Velarde, a storm trapping them together gives Andrew and Damian the chance they’ve been waiting for. In The Last Night by Kassandra Lea, Eric gets one night a year and he always picks one particular Halloween. In Molly by Mychael Black, Detectives Cameron and Chase discover the murderer plaguing their city is more sinister than they could have known and not entirely human.

 

Pages or Words: 71,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Horror, Lesbian Romance, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Anthology

Excerpt: From Nine-Tenths of the Law by Kiernan Kelly

Let me set the scene for you. There I was, on my bed, naked, my asshole greased, and the butt plug inserted in it as far as possible, angled to hit my prostate, the vibrating option turned on. I was fisting my cock, rock hard and slick with lube, edging so close to orgasm my balls felt ready to pop.

“Fuck, it’s dark in here.”

I believe I may have completely levitated off the mattress. I know my hard-on wilted like an ice sculpture in a microwave. Scanning the bedroom, I looked for an intruder, but could see no one.

“Tight, too. I always did love a tight, hot ass.”

The speaker was British; the voice, deep and sexy, and coming from right behind me. I spun around in a circle a few times, trying to catch the person I assumed could only be a machete-wielding-chainsaw-brandishing-serial killer that happened to have a silky, dark chocolate voice, but I couldn’t see anyone. As far as I could discover, I was alone, which of course meant I’d imagined the voice.

“What are you doing, Olivier? Stop it at once. You’re making me dizzy.”

Olivier? No one had called me that in years, not since… Hearing the old nickname was shocking enough to leach the fear out of me for a minute. It took me another full sixty seconds to realize the deliciously decadent voice was not only real, but also somewhat familiar, and more importantly, coming from my ass.

That’s when I finally fainted.

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Where to find Torquere Press:

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Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Happily Ever Chapter, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews, BFD Book Blog, 3 Chicks After Dark, V’s Reads, Decadent Delights, The Hat Party, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Havan Fellows, Divine Magazine, KathyMac Reviews, Andrew Q. Gordon, Jessie G. Books, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Chris McHart, Redz World, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Sassygirl Books, Three Books Over The Rainbow, Bayou Book Junkie, The Jena Wade, The Day Before You Came, the Twins: Talon ps & Princess so, Open Skye Book Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Velvet Panic, Iyana Jenna, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Emotion in Motion

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of the anthology.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the publisher and Pride Promotions.

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In the Book Spotlight: Family Time Anthology from Torquere Books

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Family Time Anthology
Author Names: Sean Michael, Jessica Chase, Nicole McCormick, Nora Birch,
Lynn Townsend, K. Lynn, RJ Schmidt, Katherine Halle, Rob Rosen, Mychael Black,
and Andrea Dalling, Yolande Kleinn

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Release Date: June 17, 2015
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: BSClay

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Sales Links:   Torquere Books

STRW Author BookSynopsis

These twelve stories range from first-time parents, to a couple still trying to conceive, to a ready-made family hoping to make it official, to parents just trying to get from one day to the next.

But it can’t all be about the kids. Especially when the kid to parent ratio favors the kids. You might have sneak out of your own house. Or remind your spouse what grown-ups can do when the kids are away.

From veteran and new authors, these families contain several m/m couples, an F/F couple, and an asexual mom who has some explaining to do to her genderfluid teen.

Pages or Words: 77,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, Humor, Lesbian Romance, M/M Romance, Romance, Anthology, Erotic Romance (Please keep in mind that as an anthology, not all stories may reflect all categories.)

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

 

Excerpt from First Day of School, a And Manny Makes Seven short by Sean Michael

Lizzie stared at Hutch with huge, tear-filled eyes. “Please. Please, Hut. Don’t make me go away. I’ll be the best cooker ever. I promise.”

God, she was breaking his heart. Hutch managed to find a warm smile for her, though, as he crouched to give her a hug. “You’ll be home by three thirty. And I bet you find you like school. There’s so many fun things to do.” He’d known it would be hard to send the twins off to school every day, leaving the house empty until afternoon, but he hadn’t expected it to be this hard.

She shook her head, the tears beginning to fall. Felicia was desperate to be big, to go to school like Darla, but this one had been opposed to the whole idea and finding out she wasn’t in the same Kindergarten class as her twin hadn’t helped. The school claimed they split twins up to let them develop their own individuality.

Well, Hutch knew damn well his girls were plenty individual, each with their own unique personality despite being together since birth.

“When you get home you can help me make supper,” he promised. “That won’t change just because you’re going to school.”

“Please? You can tell Addie-Lou it’s okay. I know you can,” she insisted.

“No, little. He can’t.” Adam shook his head. “School is important.”

“Is not!” She stamped her little foot, glaring at Adam. “I want to stay with Hut!”

“Okay, Lizzie, that’s enough.” Hutch gave her his most firm voice. “School is important and you’re going to make friends and find really fun things to do. Addie-Lou and I will be here when you get home.”

He wanted so badly to tell her she could stay home, but he knew she needed to do this. It was his job to make sure she didn’t need him and Adam anymore and this was how it started. Even if it was the hardest thing ever.

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Family Time Anthology’.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link an prizes provided by the publisher and Pride Promotions.

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Tour Dates & Stops:
Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, MM Good Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Kimi-Chan, Havan Fellows, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Hat Party, Molly Lolly, Decadent Delights, Just Love Romance, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Bayou Book Junkie, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Mikky’s World of Books, Redz World, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Velvet Panic, Iyana Jenna

Review: Mixed Tapes Volume #2 Edited by Kris Jacen

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Rating 3.5 stars out of 5

Mixed Tape 2 coverRemember when there was nothing finer than someone putting together a tape of music that meant something to you both.  A song here that brought back memories of a special date or a song there that spelled out the love you had for each other.   That special list of songs on that Mixed Tape told you someone was thinking about you and your relationship with them when putting that list together.  Here is the second volume of songs and the stories that revolve around the relationships forever tied together by musical memories.

Mixed Tape – Volume #2:

“Never Goin’ to Let You Go” by Embry Carlysle
“Living On My Own” by Megan Slayer
“Save Your Love For Me” by Lex Valentine
“Up Where We Belong” by Rob Rosen
“It’s Raining Men” by Diana DeRicci
“How Soon Is Now” by Christopher Koehler

I did not read the first anthology in this series although I love the subject of these two volumes.  I still have locked away somewhere a tape or two that a former boyfriend mixed together for me, tapes that still manage to bring back smiles and perhaps a few tears along with the memories.  Among these stories I have found a new author to love, and several stories to recommend.  I am not sure if any of these stories have companion pieces in the first volume but one story here in particular is sending me back to check.   Here are the stories as they line up in the anthology:

1.  How Soon Is Now by Christopher Koehler.  Rating: 4 stars

Toby Meyer and Derek Tremaine are university undergraduates.  And each has been eyeing the other for months but neither has worked up the courage to approach the other man.  For Derek, past mistakes have made him overly cautious about relationship until the sight of Toby makes Derek want much more with the other man. For Toby, Derek is frustration personified.  He can’t understand why the man won’t ask him out on a date.  One night at a party which change the stalemate Toby and Derek are locked in.  For someone else has his eyes on Toby and Derek must decide to act for both their sakes.

I wished this story had been a little longer but the characters were interesting and endearing.  Derek especially was a interesting take on the “larger man”.  His sense of fashion is an important part of his personality, a trait more often seen in the young quirky characters instead of someone as huge as Derek.  Loved him, and this aspect of the story.  I only wish it has been a little longer and the resolution more drawn out.

2.  It’s Raining Men by Diana DeRicci. Rating: 5 stars

Dallas and his group of friends have come to Paper Dolls to cheer on their friend in the drag queen contest.  But from the moment he lays his eyes on Pepper Prince (aka Peter), the hostess of the club, Dallas knows he must do everything possible to get to know the man on stage.  Pepper Prince has a firm policy to never date any of his “dolls” or members of the audience who comes to see them.  Dallas, however, is impossible to ignore and persistent beyond measure.  When they do finally get together, the sparks fly.  But Peter has been hurt in the past.  Can Dallas overcome Peter’s past to make a future for himself and Peter together?

This is simply an amazing story.  Outstanding characterizations and terrific plot make this story a true standout.  DeRicci layers the story with several couples that you want to know better, along with the point of view of gay man who loves dressing as a woman and being a man.  The author makes Peter such an accessible personality, so well grounded in his beliefs that every reader will be able to understand exactly where Peter is coming from emotionally and applaud him.  Dallas too has so many wonderful strengths and accompanying insecurities that the pair is terrific apart and as a couple.  I simply wanted more of them, and their friends.  This is the best story of the anthology.  I want more in this universe.

3. Up Where We Belong by Rob Rosen. Rating: 3.5 stars

A limousine driver is standing in an airport holding a sign with a name on it – Ted Jackson.  Unfortunately for him, two men with the exact name arrive at the airport at the same time, one from the East Coast and one from the West.  The solution?  Both men take the same car to their hotel and a romance ensues that turns into something much more for them both.

This is a very cute story.  I loved the idea of two men with the same name and one very confused limousine driver.  There are some hot sexy scenes and a quick resolution.  Another case of instant love but here it kind of works.  Short and sweet.

4. Living On My Own by Megan Slayer. Rating 3 stars

Kelsey’s life is in turmoil.  He has just been dumped by his ex who has made awful accusations about him, his sister has trashed the house he let her stay in and he is lonely beyond measure.  Then Daniel Tate shows up, the man Kelsey has never gotten over.  They had a wonderful life before Daniel’s drinking destroyed their relationship.  Now Daniel is back and sober.  Daniel also wants Kelsey back.  Can Kelsey work through all the pain he has been put through and trust Daniel again?  Or will their last chance at a relationship be lost forever?

I liked Kelsey and Daniel well enough,  although I would have appreciated a little more back history on them both.  They were involved in a BDSM relationship and they pick back up on that immediately as soon as Daniel reenters Kelsey’s life.  Kelsey has just been humiliated in public due to a man he trusted, the trust he had previously place in Daniel had been destroyed due to Daniel’s drinking.  So how it is that they pick back up on that part of their relationship immediately given their test issues?  I liked the rest of their story well enough but this issues dragged it down to a 3 star rating.

5. Never Goin’ to Let You Go by Embry Carlysle. Rating: 2 stars

Takes place in Chicago in the 1980’s.  Friends Drake and Shane come to grips with each other and their sexuality.  Drake is gay and unashamedly so.  Shane is sure that he is straight to the point of making fun of gays and throwing around gay slurs.  Shane is also attracted to Drake which confuses him and makes him act out in a cowardly fashion.  Months and months go by and the miscommunications and misplaced emotions pile up.  Can Drake and Shane break through Shane’s self imposed barriers to have the relationship they want with each other?

Sigh.  I almost didn’t make it through this story.  It feels impenetrably long, like slogging through molasses on a cold day.   The writing is overly dense, the same issues repeated innumerable times throughout the story until the reader just doesn’t care any longer how the boys resolve their problems to have any sort of relationship.   Shane particularly is not a likable or endearing character.  I am not sure why the author feels like the reader should connect with him,  Instead we are left thinking that Drake should have moved on eons ago.  My least favorite story of the group.

6.  Save Your Love by Lex Valentine. Rating 2.5 stars

Starts out May 1987 in San Jose, California.  On his 18th birthday, Jay Sparks loses his virginity and finds out he is gay at a rock festival. Jay also discovers that Matt Langdon, his friend and first lover is also his forever love.  But it will be years and many different paths and lovers for each of them before they will be ready to take the chance on a relationship and a forever love.

I just couldn’t connect with these characters, however much I wanted to.  Jay, now a rock star, and Matt, a firefighter, keep meeting, usually on birthdays, having sex and telling each other how much they love each other.  They also  have to tell each other they just got tested and when was the last time they slept with someone else.  Conversations then occur where they deny their many lovers mean anything and that they know this causes each other pain.  *head desk*  Nothing about their relationship or feelings felt very realistic or believable,  When Jay says “I don’t understand how I can be with other guys when loving you feels so right, ” well, by that time I really didn’t care.  Far too short to make the reader engaged in such a relationship.  My penultimate least favorite story in this anthology.

Book Details:

ebook, 253 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by MLR Press
ISBN 1020130092
edition languageEnglish
seriesMixed T

Review of Two Tickets to Paradise Anthology

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Rating: 4 stars

Two Tickets to Paradise is a collection of 15 stories of men, alone or with a partner, traveling by car, train, plane, and the occasional time travel in search of new experiences and romance in destinations both home and abroad.  What they find runs the gamut from first time love to love rediscovered after considerable time apart. Can you buy a ticket to paradise? Within these stories, the men find the answer to that question and so much more.

After reading this anthology, I found it difficult to come to a rating, as some of the stories floundered, stuck in the mundane and predictable while others soared into great heights of emotion and romance.  The stories that have remained with me are:

J.L. Merrow’s All At Sea, a tale of youth and young love on the Isle of Wight. The characters here have hidden depths, delightful dialog, exquisite scenary and an ending I am still smiling over.

Chelle Dugan’s Off The Tracks, a middle aged man who believes that love has passed him by takes a train trip into the past and gets the chance at love he’s always dreamed of. Realistic characters, vivid descriptions of the Grand Canyon, combined with flashbacks to the 80’s.

Sean Michael’s Something Different, a story of two ex-lovers reunited in Las Vegas after a separation of 10 years.  What can I say?  It’s a Sean Michael’s story, so the sex is hot, the characters memorable and hope for a HEA is on the horizon.

Mal Peters’ Perpendicularity.  The high altitude setting of the French Alps is the perfect location for Kyle, an Olympic snowboarder, to spend Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend.  But an unplanned breakup, sees Kyle alone in the resort chalet until the smell of baking bread and a succulent pork tenderloin lead him to a young personal chef and a change of heart.  Just the descriptions of baking bread and smells emanating from the kitchen won me over, add in the characters of Kyle and Dylan, and you have a story that is a delight to read.

B.G. Thomas’ New Lease is the penultimate story and reason alone to buy this collection. Wade Porter is alone is an oceanside cottage mourning the loss of his long-time lover, a married man who only saw him for two weeks out of the year at their bungalow near Key West.  With the loss and his age wearing him down,  Wade sees no reason to continue living until he meets Kent, a man who has just moved in next door. Kent too has lost a partner and gradually shows Wade the path out of depression and into the true meaning of love.  I was still crying over this story hours later so be warned!  Get those tissues handy.

Zee Kensington’s Krung Thep, City of Angels is the final story of the anthology and my final recommendation.  Marco has dreamed of traveling and for his first trip abroad or any where actually, chooses to go to Thailand.  Marco is the typical innocent abroad who lands in the steamy, packed streets of Krung Thep also known as Bangkok.  Clearly out of his depth, his journey is almost derailed by his inexperience until he meets seasoned journalist, Chris, who writes for travel magazines.  Chris takes him under his wing, and introduces Marco to the sights, tastes and people of Krung Thep.  The author did such a great job with the vivid descriptions of the food markets, pungent odors of the food stalls, and feel of swampy heat rising from the streets that I felt like I had been there. From the bouncy innocence of Marco to the weary self isolation of Chris, the characters felt alive right down to the sweat rolling down their backs.  I wanted to continue on their journey with them, seeking the paths to paradise.

Cover:  Cover Artist Steve Walker.The cover says it all, because how can you show the range of the stories contained within this anthology?

Reviewed for and copy of anthology obtained from Joyfully Jay

Anthology available from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and ARe..

The Week Ahead and Another Great Chicken Dish To Try

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It’s a blustery rainy day here in Maryland and the storms from the south are scheduled to arrive this afternoon bringing high winds, more rain and perhaps even hail.  So long to my newly blooming roses and irises in the backyard.  Sigh.  From the 80’s back down to the 60’s, our Spring is having a wild time of it this year and so are my gardens.

Today I finished up my review of Ethan Day’s A Token in Time for Joyfully Jay but my lips are sealed until it is published there first.  So what is coming up this week?

Monday       Review of Bully by Carter Wolf as promised

Tuesday       Review of Earthly Concerns by Xavier Axelson.

Wednesday Review of Levi, Leopards Spots 1 by Bailey Bradford

Thursday     Review of Oscar, Leopards Spots 2 by Bailey Bradford

Friday           Review of Two Tickets To Paradise Anthology by Dreamspinner Press

 

Tonight I am preparing  Chicken in Vinegar, another easy and great tasting chicken dish made from ingredients that most people will have in their pantries.  Again my thanks to Laura Calder (French Cooking At Home) for this easy, great tasting dish with a couple of changes from me.

 

 

 

 

 

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces or equal amounts of chicken thighs, or legs, whatever you have available.

Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter, plus another tablespoon for finishing
1 tablespoon olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped or 1  can of diced tomatoes drained
1 bay leaf
1 large fresh thyme sprig
2 good handfuls chopped fresh parsley
DIRECTIONS

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Melt the butter and olive oil in a saute pan and brown the chicken, a few pieces at a time. You’re not cooking the chicken here, just making the skin crisp and giving it color and flavor. Five minutes per side is about right, more so if you have only dark meat. Remove the chicken to a dish.

Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and boil down by half, about 10 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, and pour in the stock. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme.  Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken to a clean dish and keep warm.

Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan, pressing to get all the juices through, and whisk in the last spoonful of butter and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

I served this with some Quinoa flavored with garlic and basil before and will do so again.  It works so well together.  So quick and easy you will make this a staple.