A Caryn Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

Standard

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

What is family?  For the queer community, that has always been a fraught question, because redefining family as something other than shared history and DNA is something that too many of them have been unwillingly (and sometimes tragically) forced to do.  Friends are the family we choose – but letting go of the family of your childhood and choosing a new one is never going to be easy.  And that’s what this book is all about.

Isaac is a gay man who never came out to his family, though he is openly gay otherwise and has a close network of friends.  He knows his parents are homophobic, but hasn’t even told his sister, although she has her suspicions about him.  His parents are annoying, belittling, and exceedingly negative, and his relationship with them is distant and mainly involves showing up at their house for holidays to get another helping of guilt about why he hasn’t settled down to give them grandchildren.  It was mentioned that his childhood wasn’t much better.  He’s fairly close to his sister though, so was surprised when she showed up for Christmas dinner with a multiply pierced, heavily tatted, non-white man who kept hinting about past incarcerations.  He was even more surprised when that man started hitting on him!  After a very uncomfortable dinner, his sister came clean to him, admitted she brought Logan just to piss off their parents, and also told Isaac she assumed he was gay – and would be interested in Logan.  Which he was, once he found out that all the hints about a criminal past were also fabricated.

Over the course of the the following year, Isaac finds that Logan is exactly who he’s been looking for all his life.  Logan feels the same way.  Their main point of contention is that Isaac is not out to his family, and Logan doesn’t want to be a dirty secret.  Keeping Logan secret from his family is also increasingly uncomfortable for Isaac, but the fallout from coming out is more painful than either of them suspected….

The plot was predictable, as outlined in the blurb, so nothing I’ve mentioned above is a spoiler.  I really do like stories like this, but where there isn’t a lot of plot you end up with a lot of filler.  Which can be good, but here it started being a little repetitive.  The sex scenes got boring, which they inevitably do when there are too many.  And if I read one more time about licking the taste of coffee, or dessert, or wine, or other food out of Logan’s mouth to get to the taste of “uniquely him” or whatever, I was going to scream.  Mention it once and it’s a little sexy, but over and over and I start thinking of dental hygiene, which is the opposite of sexy 😦

Cover art by L.C. Chase is really well laid out, with a great looking model that is perfect for Logan.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 248 pages
Published October 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 29th 2018)
Original Title Hard Truths
ISBN139781626498464
Edition Language English

Spotlight Blog Tour and Giveaway for Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

Standard

Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Hello, everybody! I’m Alex Whitehall, and I’m here today touring for my contemporary m/m romance, Hard Truths, which is about Isaac and Logan’s whirlwind romance, as well as coming out and what family means. But it’s not all angst and drama. In fact, I hope you’ll have as much fun watching these guys fool around as I had making them be goofs.

 

About Hard Truths

He can’t have the family he wants, but he may get the love he deserves.

Isaac didn’t expect to find love at his family’s Christmas dinner, but that was before he met his sister’s new fake boyfriend. Tall, muscular, and tattooed, Logan is what Isaac would love in a partner—and also everything his parents would hate in one. Not that they know Isaac’s gay.

That doesn’t stop him from dating Logan—unbeknownst to his parents, and with his sister’s approval after she fake dumps him. The pair dive into a whirlwind romance of motorcycle rides, cheesy puns, and hot sex. They meet each other’s friends and fill their time with happiness and laughter. It’s all perfect.

Until Isaac suggests they move in together, and Logan asks Isaac to come out to his parents. Isaac wants to, but he’s scared; he doesn’t want to lose his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see that his real family has been right beside him all along.

Available from Riptide Publishing.

 

About Alex Whitehall

If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious evenings laughing with friends.

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerge from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, reading, and tending after their aloe plants.

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

Commenting below will give you a chance to win this mug:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/573454042/oh-for-fox-sake-coffee-mug-custom-fox

This mug appears in Hard Truths as one of the first presents that Isaac buys Logan. It’s similar to a mug I have myself (that my friend bought me and that might have inspired the gift)! The order will be shipped directly from the buyer, so you have to be willing to share your physical address with the buyer and myself. You can choose either size and any of the fox images.

Due to prohibitive shipping costs, this prize is only open to within the US. For international readers, indicate as such and you’ll have a chance to win a digital copy of your choice from my backlist.

Contest closes October 6. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave a means of contact!

 

A Lucy Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Isaac really drew the short straw in the family lottery.  He has a wonderful sister, Sue, and bigoted, selfish and homophobic parents.  They constantly barrage Isaac and Sue with demands to get a partner, marry and produce grandchildren.  Since they don’t appreciate or really seem to love their own children, the odds of them being any better with grandchildren is low. Isaac always tries to see the best of them.  “They lived in a closed-off little world, but they weren’t bad people.  Or rather, I liked to think they weren’t.”  Isaac is very firmly in the closet with his parents, not wanting to lose  his family. Luckily Isaac has an amazing group of friends who support and love him.

To combat this parental nightmare one Christmas, Sue brings a fake boyfriend, Logan.  Logan is tattooed, pierced and definitely puts on a bad-boy wastrel attitude.  Of course, Isaac is seriously attracted but doesn’t realize the boyfriend is fake.  So when Logan hits on him in the hallway, he is aroused and appalled.  Being a good brother, he hides in the bathroom to text Sue a warning, which Sue pushes off.  In a phone call, Sue tells Isaac about the fake, and gives her go-ahead for Issac to date Logan.  Since Isaac didn’t realize Sue even knew he was gay, he is shocked.  “So, Isaac, I love you and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay.  If you are, I want you to know that I’m a safe space.”  Sue is a great sister.

So Isaac does call Logan and off on a date they go.  Isaac is less the buttoned down prep he presents for his parents and more his hoodie and jeans wearing, tattooed and pierced real self.  Logan is also his real self, a graphic designer who owns his own company.  Since Logan was at Christmas he knows Isaac isn’t out and asks, “So no plans to tell them?”  Isaac replies that he won’t tell them until there is a significant other important enough to come out for.

As Logan and Isaac begin dating, they get to know each other, they take things pretty slow and talk.  I liked that about them.  Isaac meets Logan’s chosen family of friends (and this concept is a big one through the story).  Isaac doesn’t warm up to Logan’s friends, he always feels like an outsider and as if they don’t like him.  He takes this as proof that friends aren’t your family, because they could leave at any time.  He believes you only get one shot at family, even if they are horrible, and they are connected to you in a way no one else can be, “They’ve been with you from the beginning, for better or worse.”  Get a clue, Isaac!  When his amazing friends try to remind him they love him and they are his family, he upsets them.  “You have us.” “Yeah, but you’re not family.”  He hurts his friends so much with that, and he continues to do so, not understanding their point at all.  He won’t even accept the term “chosen family”, instead repeatedly saying they are friends.  “I wanted my family, blemishes and all.”  I wanted to smack him for being so obtuse.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand his view on this.  It irked me because the things he was throwing out there weren’t true even for him.  “Family wouldn’t break apart over something as small as this.  Because family loves you no matter what, because you’re bound by blood.”  Except that wasn’t true.  “Well, no matter what, unless you’re gay and your parents are homophobes.”

Logan really is patient with Isaac but he also knows his own self worth.  He is badly hurt when Isaac repeatedly won’t even mention Logan to his parents, pretending he is seeing no one and going to see them alone.  When Isaac suggests they move in together, Logan is so happy.  Except Isaac still doesn’t want to tell his parents.  So Logan would be the “roommate” or the “good friend”, or some other lie to explain away why they were living together.  But it’s been six months.  What happened to ‘I’ll tell them when it’s serious’?”  I couldn’t blame him for thinking Isaac wasn’t as invested as he was. Even Isaac knows.  “It’s not like that.”  But it was like that.  Exactly like that.”  And yet he still puts his nasty parents ahead of the man he claims to love, as well as his friends.

His parents, particularly his father, are so loathsome.  Racist, bigots, homophobes all, but also just rude and nasty.  I hated them even more knowing that way too many real life parents are just like this.  Made me angry and so sad.  Isaac has a lot of growing to do and I didn’t understand his willingness to put up with everything they spewed at him but I also could see the steps he was slowly trying to take.  And there is a point where he and Logan are fighting, and it is Logan who uses the, “Isaac, it’s not like that”, and this time I could see Isaac’s point.  He is made to feel he over-reacted but I could see how it would hurt.

I liked this story even as Isaac made me want to scream at times.  There are solid positive secondary characters in Sue and Isaac’s friends, Jackson, Emmett, Roe, Jenna, Marc and Laura.  I’d love to say Isaac’s parents were over the top but unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there are too many families that are just like this.  I would love to know what happens to Logan and Isaac in in the future and I was so happy when Isaac finally, finally got the true meaning of family. 

Cover Art: L.C. Chase.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 248 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleHard Truths
ISBN139781626498464
Edition LanguageEnglish

Alex Whitehall on Family, and the new fantasy release Magic Runs Deep (author guest blog and giveaway)

Standard

Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

Riptide Publishing

Cover Art:
Sales Links:

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alex Whitehall today on tour for Magic Runs Deep, one of our happily recommended stories. Welcome, Alex.

✒︎

 

Hello, everybody! I’m Alex Whitehall, and I’m here today touring for my fantasy novel Magic Runs Deep, which is about one man’s search to find himself—and true freedom—after a long imprisonment, and the path to trust that he follows along the way.

Family is an important part of every life—no matter what form it takes—and a lot can be gleaned from looking at family structure. In Magic Runs Deep, we see the family interactions of two very different characters, from the brother to the king to a man who comes from a large family that is strongly tied together. The Elrid, king’s brother, only has one immediately family member left, and the bond between the brothers is strong, but it also has molded Elrid into a man who is self-reliant, and who, although he loves his brother, struggles to truly understand the extent that Veier, who comes from a close-knit community with an extended family, relies on and misses his family over the course of the book.

Over the course of the book, we see Elrid and his brother interact, and the playful banter makes it obvious they care for each other—even if they get frustrated with each other as all siblings do—but both men seem to stand alone, isolated from one another. Some of this is, of course, due to the role they play on the page and what Veier can see happening, but most of it is the culture and world they were raised in.

Meanwhile, Veier comes from a large family, who he thinks of often. He mentions being raised by his uncles and mother, recalls his siblings fondly, and while his father was often absent because of duty, there was always plenty of love to go around, leaving Veier fulfilled. Elrid speaks rarely of his family, since it’s not central to his life, while Veier thinks about his family constantly, and not just because it reminds him of home.

To learn more about Veier’s family and to see if he gets to return home, you’ll have to check out Magic Runs Deep. Meanwhile, what does family mean to you?

 

About Magic Runs Deep

 

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

 

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.

 

However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

 

About Alex Whitehall

 

If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious evenings laughing with friends.

 

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerge from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, reading, and tending after their aloe plants.

 

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Magic Runs Deep, Alex is giving away an ecopy of Second Skin! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 14, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM PreRelease Review: Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.

However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

I just loved everything about Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall.  Here is a fantasy novel where the author managed to combine  some very dark and realistic elements like PTSD, the horror of torture , the  effects of long term prisoner captivity under the worse conditions, with that prisoner’s recovery and love.    That the prisoner is an Ursinae or bear shifter, the one to save and help him recover a mage and brother to a king, and that some of the methods used include magic?  In the hands of author Alex Whitehall, that seems normal.  Whitehall seamlessly blends modern methods for dealing with PTSD and the magical to come up with a unique combination of spells and universe for this story that entranced me.

The Ursinae had their own magic as do the Kingdoms themselves.  I could cheerfully dwell in this land for many books, hoping to learn more not just about Veier’s shifter history but all the neighboring Kingdoms across the lands.  If they are half as fascinating as the ones that Whitehall created for the ones we got to know here, I’m all in for as many stories as the author wants to tell.

These characters were amazing!  They were so well rounded and pulled so many emotions from me in their journey to  helping Veier recover from his heinous imprisonment and the scars he now carries inside and out.  As it should be, his recovery is painful, slow, full of anger and fear.  And the reader is on this agonizing path with Veier every step of the way. So is Elrid, the mage who sees the tragedy in Veier’s fate if he can’t be helped and the man fighting to regain who he was.  I was so absorbed in Veier’s tale I totally forgot what time it was and read into the early hours.

There are other equally important storylines flowing here.  Unrest in a kingdom slow to accept new rulers, people hesitant or afraid of the shifter among them, a man eager to go home again and afraid of what he would find…all these narrative threads are carried through, their importance to the overall plot arc handled beautifully, never impeding or overtaking the main plotlines but adding interest to them,  like spice does to a great meal.

But the heart and center here is Veier and Elrid and what a story that is.  It’s heartwarming, sometimes heartstopping, and always rewarding.   This is one for my “happy shelf”, when I need a book to pull out to put a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart.    How I loved this couple.  I think you will too.  I highly recommend Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall.

Cover art:  Shayne Leighton.  I like the cover, has some very nice elements on it, including the character of Veier.

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

book, 183 pages
Expected publication: April 9th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleMagic Runs Deep
ISBN 1626497478 (ISBN13: 9781626497474)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa New Release Review: A Christmas for Oscar by ​Alex Whitehall

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

a-christmas-for-oscarOscar has never liked the holidays and all the surrounding rigmarole, but that doesn’t stop his best friend from dragging him along for her Black Friday shopping spree. The only perk of the day is that he meets Nathan while he’s there.

 

With sparkling blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a smile that won’t stop, Nathan is a Christmas elf in the flesh. He even spends his days in a workshop! But Nathan is more than his bright smile, and he may be just the right person for Oscar. Assuming, of course, Oscar doesn’t drive him and his holiday spirit away first.

 

This was a nice story.  Oscar is forced into Black Friday shopping, but  while at Another Store (isn’t that a great name) he meets Nathan it doesn’t seem quite so bad when he is looking into his bright eyes.  He goes back the next day just to try and see him again and they have an impromptu date to get to know each other a bit more.

 

I loved the interactions between Nathan and Oscar as they showed such openness to each other; however Oscar continually held something back until the end.  Oscar has been hurt so much by his childhood that he has a lot of trouble separating how his parents behaved with how others celebrate the holiday.  Nathan is the perfect counterpart to Oscar and even though Nathan grew up in the foster care system he didn’t have a bad childhood and has turned out wonderfully.

 

From the very beginning we can see how uncomfortable Oscar is with anything related to the holidays even if we don’t know the reason until the end of the story.  Seeing him realize how in order to have a lasting and honest relationship with Nathan he will have to do to some compromising and how he works thru it is wonderful.  Both characters were well put together and great for each other.

 

Cover art by Natasha Snow is beautiful and shows Oscar presenting his gift to Nathan.

 

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages

Published: December 19, 2016 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 9781945952326

Edition Language: English

In Our Holiday Spotlight: A Christmas for Oscar by Alex Whitehall (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Title:  A Christmas for Oscar

Author: Alex Whitehall

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 19, 2016

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 20400

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, holiday

Add to Goodreads

AChristimasForOscar-f

Synopsis

Oscar has never liked the holidays and all the surrounding rigmarole, but that doesn’t stop his best friend from dragging him along for her Black Friday shopping spree. The only perk of the day is that he meets Nathan while he’s there.

With sparkling blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a smile that won’t stop, Nathan is a Christmas elf in the flesh. He even spends his days in a workshop! But Nathan is more than his bright smile, and he may be just the right person for Oscar. Assuming, of course, Oscar doesn’t drive him and his holiday spirit away first.

Excerpt

Alex Whitehall © 2016
All Rights Reserved

“Come on, Oscar, don’t be such a grouch.”

He glared at Marie. “That is so original.”

She shrugged, merry as ever.

He grumbled as they were forced to swerve around another mother with two shopping carts. “If you didn’t want me grumpy, then maybe you shouldn’t have dragged me out shopping on Black Friday.”

“You’re my best friend—”

“Which means you shouldn’t torture me like this.”

“Who else am I going to take?”

“Your mother?”

Eye roll.

“Your sister-in-law?”

Eye roll.

“Cindy?”

“I love the girl, but she doesn’t really know my family. And she can’t spot a sale to save her life.”

“I can’t spot sales!”

“But you know my family. Oh! I wanna hit this one.”

He sighed as he was dragged—yes, dragged—into Another Store. Under his breath, he muttered, “You could go alone.”

She continued on, oblivious. Or at least very good at faking it. He hoped this earned him some major points.

“What do you think of this?” She held up a cashmere-blend sweater in baby blue.

“For who?”

Her lips puckered in moue. “Me.”

“I thought we were shopping for your friends and family.” He mock glared. Well, mostly mock.

Marie flapped her hand at him. “Just tell me.”

He sighed and glanced over to the picked-through selection. “It’s gorgeous, but is it even in your size?”

She bounced—like she hadn’t even considered that, somehow—and twirled back to the rack, furiously searching through the remaining sweaters. She chirped and pulled out a much larger size in what Oscar could only call puce, folded it over her arm, and returned to the baby-blue ones. “I’ll have to ask if they have more in the bac— Oh my god, look at that sale!” She tossed the blue sweater to him. “Can you find a salesperson, and ask if they have a small? I need to be over there!”

And she was gone. Which left him with two options: say no and be a horrible friend, or say yes and tear through the crowds to find an overworked, overstressed salesperson. Joy.

With a sigh, he searched for someone in the store’s dress-coded uniform, and wasn’t sure if it was a blessing or a curse when he spotted the cute guy smiling winsomely, surrounded by a mob of people. The most attractive thing was that his mob was smaller than the mob surrounding all the other salespeople.

Gritting his teeth, he clenched the sweater and elbowed his way over through arguing women, grumbling men, and a few screaming children. And that was only across six feet.

When he finally arrived at his destination, he noticed his salesperson was six inches shorter than him, with curly blond hair, and wearing an elf hat. He had shimmering blue eyes and apple-round cheeks. He couldn’t possibly be real.

The bright-blue eyes flashed up to Oscar with a literal sparkle in his eye, although that had to be the overhead lights. “Hello! How can I help you?”

Despite his elfish appearance, the dude’s voice wasn’t high-pitched. In fact, to keep with the ridiculous metaphor developing in Oscar’s mind, it was more like caramel or hot chocolate. It was almost enough to make him forget where he was.

And then some jackass elbowed him in the back, hard, and he was shoved forward. He growled and pushed back, not taking his eyes off his little elf helper. “Hi. I was wondering if you have more sizes of this in the back? I need a small.” He held up the sweater in question.

The little elf’s lips puckered in thought. “I can check, sir, but I think what we have out is all we have. Wait right here.”

He was gone in a flash, and Oscar was left standing there, blinking at the space where the man had been.

“Ex-scuse me,” a woman lashed out. “Can we not stand in the middle of the aisle, puh-lease?”

He heaved a sigh and stepped back—the six inches he could—to let the woman pass. She scrunched her nose at him and hurried on to the next big sale. Restraining another sigh, he wished he could close his eyes and sink into the floor, or vanish, or at least run the hell out of here. But no, he waited, like a good friend, for the salesperson to return. And it seemed to be taking forever, but he was sure that was his imagination—and frustration—playing tricks on him.

Glancing around, he checked on where Marie was, because today he wouldn’t put it past her to leave without him or the sweater, and found her almost swallowed up in the jewelry section. He nodded and looked back to where his elf had been, only to find his helper had reappeared, cheeks rosier, curls somehow unrulier, and elf hat slightly crooked.

“Good news! There was one small tucked behind another bunch.” He held up a slightly rumpled blue sweater. “Looks like it may have gotten missed when the stock was brought out. It doesn’t look damaged or anything, but feel free to inspect it and let me know…”

The guy trailed off, probably because Oscar was staring at his hat. It shouldn’t have been humanly possible for a disheveled hat to make him that much cuter. But it did. Oscar slung the sweater he was still holding over his shoulder, reached out, righted the salesperson’s hat, and then tucked a particularly rebellious curl under the rim. There. He smiled. Much better.

“Uh, sir?” the guy asked, not quite squeaking, but definitely breathily.

Oscar’s eyes shot down to meet those sparkling blues. “Oh! Sorry. It was… You must have knocked it when you were getting the sweater. So I… It was only right that I help. Thank you. For the sweater.”

Certainly not for the pounding of his heart. He held out his hand for the top.

The elf’s uncertain, wide eyes scrunched up with his grin. “Thank you for fixing it.”

He really had the bluest eyes. It seemed like they would have to be contacts, but Oscar didn’t think even a company could manufacture that pure a blue.

“Ex-scuse me!”

Oh hell, it was the woman from before. Oscar couldn’t move much and was about to tell the woman she could probably go around, but the little elf flashed a customer’s-always-right expression and glided over, clearing the aisle and putting not much between them but the sweater.

Oscar’s breath caught. The little elf beamed up at him.

“Is there anything else I can help you with today, sir?”

Oscar had some ideas. Some very dirty ideas, actually. But then the elf blinked, casting a glance at the chaos surrounding them, and Oscar remembered now wasn’t a good time to be hitting on a salesperson.

And that he was waist-deep in Black Friday. He groaned and slid his fingers around the small sweater, gently taking it.

“I think this will be all. Thank you very much,” he murmured—well, as much as he could murmur and still be heard in this mess.

The elf’s smile widened—if that was possible, and somehow it was—and his eyebrows lifted with the excitement strewn across his face. “Well, I hope you have a good day. And I really hope you come back again sometime.”

Then, just like that, Oscar’s helpful little elf was swallowed up by the crowd.

The cheerful good-bye was probably a standard store requirement, Oscar told himself as he turned to hunt down Marie. It almost certainly wasn’t to entice him to return just to see his elf again. The guy probably wasn’t interested.

Oscar sighed. Though his eyes had seemed to light up when they’d been pressed together. And he hadn’t minded Oscar taking certain privileges with his hat. And he had been so very helpful. Which, yeah, it was his job, but…

A tiny tot ran into his shin, the mother glared at him, probably for standing in space that her child wanted to occupy. When he looked around, he realized he’d lost where Marie was.

“Goddamn it!”

Several glares were shot his way. He didn’t care, though.

“Did you find someone?” popped Marie’s voice from behind him.

He spun around, clenching both sweaters to his chest. “Jesus!”

“You found one!”

“Yes, I found one,” he snapped, shoving the smaller size at her. When his hand was free, he began searching out the original location, but even with his height advantage, the store was a swirl of bodies and colors. He glared at Marie. “And you can put the other one back.”

She pouted. “But you’re supposed to be helping me—” She clicked her jaw shut at his glare. “I mean, you found one in my size, so thank you so much! Let’s go return this one to the rack.”

She led the deceptively easy way back to the sweaters and hung it up. “Okay, with that done, let’s get on with the day.”

He groaned, knowing that the best part of the day had already walked away.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious afternoons laughing with friends.

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerges from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, searching the Internet for more books to read, and tending after their aloe plant Cornwall. That’s a lie; the single plant has become an entire forest.

Pronouns: they/them

Website | Twitter |
Goodreads
| eMail | Tumblr

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

Save

Save

In the Holiday Spotlight: A Christmas for Oscar by Alex Whitehall

Standard

a-christmas-for-oscar

A Christmas for Oscar by Alex Whitehall
N
ineStar Press
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Available for Purchase at

NineStar Press

NineStarLogoFinal

9fbbd-goodreads-button

 

 

 

 

Blurb

Oscar has never liked the holidays and all the surrounding rigmarole, but that doesn’t stop his best friend from dragging him along for her Black Friday shopping spree. The only perk of the day is that he meets Nathan while he’s there.

With sparkling blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a smile that won’t stop, Nathan is a Christmas elf in the flesh. He even spends his days in a workshop! But Nathan is more than his bright smile, and he may be just the right person for Oscar. Assuming, of course, Oscar doesn’t drive him and his holiday spirit away first.

Excerpt

Alex Whitehall © 2016
All Rights Reserved

“Come on, Oscar, don’t be such a grouch.”

He glared at Marie. “That is so original.”

She shrugged, merry as ever.

He grumbled as they were forced to swerve around another mother with two shopping carts. “If you didn’t want me grumpy, then maybe you shouldn’t have dragged me out shopping on Black Friday.”

“You’re my best friend—”

“Which means you shouldn’t torture me like this.”

“Who else am I going to take?”

“Your mother?”

Eye roll.

“Your sister-in-law?”

Eye roll.

“Cindy?”

“I love the girl, but she doesn’t really know my family. And she can’t spot a sale to save her life.”

“I can’t spot sales!”

“But you know my family. Oh! I wanna hit this one.”

He sighed as he was dragged—yes, dragged—into Another Store. Under his breath, he muttered, “You could go alone.”

She continued on, oblivious. Or at least very good at faking it. He hoped this earned him some major points.

“What do you think of this?” She held up a cashmere-blend sweater in baby blue.

“For who?”

Her lips puckered in moue. “Me.”

“I thought we were shopping for your friends and family.” He mock glared. Well, mostly mock.

Marie flapped her hand at him. “Just tell me.”

He sighed and glanced over to the picked-through selection. “It’s gorgeous, but is it even in your size?”

She bounced—like she hadn’t even considered that, somehow—and twirled back to the rack, furiously searching through the remaining sweaters. She chirped and pulled out a much larger size in what Oscar could only call puce, folded it over her arm, and returned to the baby-blue ones. “I’ll have to ask if they have more in the bac— Oh my god, look at that sale!” She tossed the blue sweater to him. “Can you find a salesperson, and ask if they have a small? I need to be over there!”

And she was gone. Which left him with two options: say no and be a horrible friend, or say yes and tear through the crowds to find an overworked, overstressed salesperson. Joy.

With a sigh, he searched for someone in the store’s dress-coded uniform, and wasn’t sure if it was a blessing or a curse when he spotted the cute guy smiling winsomely, surrounded by a mob of people. The most attractive thing was that his mob was smaller than the mob surrounding all the other salespeople.

Gritting his teeth, he clenched the sweater and elbowed his way over through arguing women, grumbling men, and a few screaming children. And that was only across six feet.

When he finally arrived at his destination, he noticed his salesperson was six inches shorter than him, with curly blond hair, and wearing an elf hat. He had shimmering blue eyes and apple-round cheeks. He couldn’t possibly be real.

The bright-blue eyes flashed up to Oscar with a literal sparkle in his eye, although that had to be the overhead lights. “Hello! How can I help you?”

Despite his elfish appearance, the dude’s voice wasn’t high-pitched. In fact, to keep with the ridiculous metaphor developing in Oscar’s mind, it was more like caramel or hot chocolate. It was almost enough to make him forget where he was.

And then some jackass elbowed him in the back, hard, and he was shoved forward. He growled and pushed back, not taking his eyes off his little elf helper. “Hi. I was wondering if you have more sizes of this in the back? I need a small.” He held up the sweater in question.

The little elf’s lips puckered in thought. “I can check, sir, but I think what we have out is all we have. Wait right here.”

He was gone in a flash, and Oscar was left standing there, blinking at the space where the man had been.

“Ex-scuse me,” a woman lashed out. “Can we not stand in the middle of the aisle, puh-lease?”

He heaved a sigh and stepped back—the six inches he could—to let the woman pass. She scrunched her nose at him and hurried on to the next big sale. Restraining another sigh, he wished he could close his eyes and sink into the floor, or vanish, or at least run the hell out of here. But no, he waited, like a good friend, for the salesperson to return. And it seemed to be taking forever, but he was sure that was his imagination—and frustration—playing tricks on him.

Glancing around, he checked on where Marie was, because today he wouldn’t put it past her to leave without him or the sweater, and found her almost swallowed up in the jewelry section. He nodded and looked back to where his elf had been, only to find his helper had reappeared, cheeks rosier, curls somehow unrulier, and elf hat slightly crooked.

“Good news! There was one small tucked behind another bunch.” He held up a slightly rumpled blue sweater. “Looks like it may have gotten missed when the stock was brought out. It doesn’t look damaged or anything, but feel free to inspect it and let me know…”

The guy trailed off, probably because Oscar was staring at his hat. It shouldn’t have been humanly possible for a disheveled hat to make him that much cuter. But it did. Oscar slung the sweater he was still holding over his shoulder, reached out, righted the salesperson’s hat, and then tucked a particularly rebellious curl under the rim. There. He smiled. Much better.

“Uh, sir?” the guy asked, not quite squeaking, but definitely breathily.

Oscar’s eyes shot down to meet those sparkling blues. “Oh! Sorry. It was… You must have knocked it when you were getting the sweater. So I… It was only right that I help. Thank you. For the sweater.”

Certainly not for the pounding of his heart. He held out his hand for the top.

The elf’s uncertain, wide eyes scrunched up with his grin. “Thank you for fixing it.”

He really had the bluest eyes. It seemed like they would have to be contacts, but Oscar didn’t think even a company could manufacture that pure a blue.

“Ex-scuse me!”

Oh hell, it was the woman from before. Oscar couldn’t move much and was about to tell the woman she could probably go around, but the little elf flashed a customer’s-always-right expression and glided over, clearing the aisle and putting not much between them but the sweater.

Oscar’s breath caught. The little elf beamed up at him.

“Is there anything else I can help you with today, sir?”

Oscar had some ideas. Some very dirty ideas, actually. But then the elf blinked, casting a glance at the chaos surrounding them, and Oscar remembered now wasn’t a good time to be hitting on a salesperson.

And that he was waist-deep in Black Friday. He groaned and slid his fingers around the small sweater, gently taking it.

“I think this will be all. Thank you very much,” he murmured—well, as much as he could murmur and still be heard in this mess.

The elf’s smile widened—if that was possible, and somehow it was—and his eyebrows lifted with the excitement strewn across his face. “Well, I hope you have a good day. And I really hope you come back again sometime.”

Then, just like that, Oscar’s helpful little elf was swallowed up by the crowd.

The cheerful good-bye was probably a standard store requirement, Oscar told himself as he turned to hunt down Marie. It almost certainly wasn’t to entice him to return just to see his elf again. The guy probably wasn’t interested.

Oscar sighed. Though his eyes had seemed to light up when they’d been pressed together. And he hadn’t minded Oscar taking certain privileges with his hat. And he had been so very helpful. Which, yeah, it was his job, but…

A tiny tot ran into his shin, the mother glared at him, probably for standing in space that her child wanted to occupy. When he looked around, he realized he’d lost where Marie was.

“Goddamn it!”

Several glares were shot his way. He didn’t care, though.

“Did you find someone?” popped Marie’s voice from behind him.

He spun around, clenching both sweaters to his chest. “Jesus!”

“You found one!”

“Yes, I found one,” he snapped, shoving the smaller size at her. When his hand was free, he began searching out the original location, but even with his height advantage, the store was a swirl of bodies and colors. He glared at Marie. “And you can put the other one back.”

She pouted. “But you’re supposed to be helping me—” She clicked her jaw shut at his glare. “I mean, you found one in my size, so thank you so much! Let’s go return this one to the rack.”

She led the deceptively easy way back to the sweaters and hung it up. “Okay, with that done, let’s get on with the day.”

He groaned, knowing that the best part of the day had already walked away.

 

About the Author

If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious afternoons laughing with friends.

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerges from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, searching the Internet for more books to read, and tending after their aloe plant Cornwall. That’s a lie; the single plant has become an entire forest.

Contacts:

AlexDWhitehall@gmail.com

Website

Twitter

http://www.alexwhitehall.tumblr.com/

 

Giveaway

NineStar Press is offering a free ebook from their website to one lucky reader leaving an comment with their email address on the post.  Giveaway closes January 1st at midnight.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

In the Contemporary Spotlight: Second Skin by Alex Whitehall (New Adult Release and giveaway)

Standard

SecondSkin_600x900

Second Skin by Alex Whitehall
R
iptide Publishing
Cover Art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

Hello, everybody! I’m Alex Whitehall, and I’m here today touring for my New Adult story, Second Skin, which is about Jay and Roswell, who are on a journey of love, acceptance, and self-discovery.

About Second Skin

When Jay heads to the university’s learning center for help with his math class, he doesn’t expect his tutor to be tall, dark, and handsome. But Roswell is all that and more, and their instant connection over cult movies, books, and TV shows quickly evolves into dating.

That’s when things get tricky.

Roswell might claim he doesn’t have issues with Jay being trans, but when he’s constantly insisting they “take it slow,” Jay’s not so sure. He’s been hurt before, and he’s not going to let it happen again.

But then Roswell reveals that he, too, has a few secrets under his skin.

About Alex Whitehall

If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious evenings laughing with friends.

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerge from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, reading, and tending after their aloe plants.

Connect with Alex:

SecondSkin_TourBanner

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Second Skin, Alex is giving away $25 in Riptide credit. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 16, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: Sharing the Pond by Alex Whitehall

Standard

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Sharing the Pond by Alex WhitehallBrent shows up on Corey and Shane’s doorstep in the dead of winter needing a place to stay—and hopeful his mates will provide it, and not mind he’s a frog shifter.

Being a shifter is nothing new to Corey and Shane, but neither is being mates. They’ve been together since before they first met Brent ten years ago—back when Brent was Brenda. Bringing a third into their relationship is more than a little complicated, but they’re willing to try.

But change is always easier said than done, and Brent wonders if he ever really stood a chance at being happy with the men he has always loved and admired.

So much wrong with this story, its hard to know where to start.  Maybe with the things I did like. The cover was cute.  And Whitehall’s use of a female transitioning to male but in an entirely different biological take was imaginative and full of possibilities.

None of which really worked well here unfortunately.

Reading through to the finish was actually a fight.

I found the characters of Corey, Shane and Brent blurred together, so similar in tone narratively speaking, that after certain plot points were made, they became interchangeable in my mind (especially two of them),   But Whitehall asks  so much from his readers, those already arriving expecting a shifter story true.  But one where a frog comes from wolf shifter parents?   Hmmm, without much back-history or biological groundwork laid-out?  Then he expects us to believe there is a pull of a mate bond between these two men as well when one is already happily mated?  And doesn’t make a case for it in the interactions between them in the scenes that play out.

With all my diminishing interest in the story playing out, I started to notice other things…such as the huge difference in species. Corey and Shane are Northern Leopard frog shifters. Brent is a Common Reed Frog, a west African frog species that have been known to spontaneously change sex from female to male. A plot element that makes sense, but why did Whitehall have the other two be a pond species?If you are going to go to the trouble to  give your shifters specific frog species you ought to make them compatible.  Green frogs and Bull frogs,  Northern Leopard frogs with Pickerel or Wood frogs, and most certainly a Common Reed Frog with fellow tree frogs like even a African foam-nest tree frog or green Congo tree frog?

But a Common Reed Frog and two Northern Leopard frogs.  Now that might present a problem right there.  the Common Reed Frog?  A small tree frog, found in Burundi (I just love saying that name) and other parts of Africa.  The Northern Leopard  frogs? A once common and now rapidly disappearing pond frog of Northern America.  So yeah, that’s not really happening in a splash about in a bathtub.

Why all this preoccupation with the natural history of the frogs?  Because my mind and interest needed something, anything to grasp onto.  The story wasn’t doing it for me, neither were the characters.

Let’s just  say this was one tough read, from shifter history I couldn’t wrap my head around to characters I just couldn’t connect with.  Even the plot was one tough slog, narratively speaking.  And I love shifter stories.

But that cover was really darn cute.

Sale Links:  Less Than Three Press |   Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 154 pages
Published November 16th 2015 by Less Than Three Press
ASINB0184EQ5BG
Edition LanguageEnglish