A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: How to Bang a Billionaire (Arden St. Ives #1) by Alexis Hall and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Fun! Fun! Fun! I thoroughly enjoyed this story from the beginning. Between the author’s sense of humor and Joel Leslie’s delivery of the one-liners and humorous remarks, I was floating along on a sea of happiness and finding it difficult to stop listening when pesky things like real life kept me from continuing. 

I also wondered why the ratings for this story weren’t higher, and that’s when I found out many people were comparing this to <i>Fifty Shades of Gray</i> or citing that the author seemed to be simulating that story.  Thankfully, I not only never read it, I therefore never jumped on the bandwagon to praise it or to castigate it.  It was of no interest to me, and I’m thankful about that now because it didn’t influence my opinion on this story one little iota. 

As I’ve learned from other audiobooks, when Joel narrates, my enjoyment is not so much about the story, it’s about the performance.  And what a performance!  With a capital P.  I felt as if I was watching a movie or TV show.  And as I said, I couldn’t put this down. 

Arden was a sweetheart, a very self-effacing soon-to-be Oxford graduate, and only helping out a friend when he made the call on behalf of the alumni fundraiser and connected with Caspian Hart.  They engaged in a bit of Arden-like banter, and wonder of wonder, at the actual event, Caspian himself sought out Arden!   

Without giving away the plot, I can say that this was not the heavy BDSM that I anticipated from the blurb.  In fact, there was some light bondage, but I wouldn’t personally classify it as a BDSM story.  It’s a love story, pure and simple—but with all the complications one would expect from an emotionally aloof billionaire and an inexperienced young man with self-esteem issues. 

My heart broke for Arden, and though he was responsible for Arden’s heartache and self-flagellation, Caspian was a wounded soul in his own way, so my heart broke for him as well. 

I loved the voices Joel Leslie gave them—they felt spot-on—perfect in every way. 

Needless to say, I very highly recommend this story to lovers of MM romance—a very definite  must-buy in audio format. 

Cover art:  Rich and dark in tone.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 11 hours
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Audible.com Release Date: January 16, 2018
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B078WZLVX4

A Lila Audiobook Review: How To Bang a Billionaire by Alexis Hall and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Rules are made to be broken . . .

If England had yearbooks, I’d probably be “Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire.” So far, I haven’t. I’ve no idea what I’m doing at Oxford, no idea what I’m going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he’s brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.

It’s impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he’ll be through with me.

I’m good at doing what I’m told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian’s shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it’s him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn’t have the power to give me.

How to Bang a Billionaire is a more refined, gay version of Fifty Shades of Grey. I did laugh a lot more than with Anna and Christian, but the essence of both stories is the same. A dark, brooding hero that can’t love and keeps everyone at arm’s length, and a young man in distress, helpless without his cool and collected love interest.

There are differences, for example, this story has less supporting characters and young Arden is not a vulnerable, oblivious virgin. There’s no goddess or internal voices even when the reader spent a considerable part of the story in Arden’s head. But overall, the similarities are many.

The characters and the settings are interesting and the author’s prose beautifully written. Humor plays an important part as well as in-depth conversations between the main characters. I enjoyed the descriptions and the troubles Arden got into. I like how Caspian felt comfortable to be himself when he was with Arden.

One of the only things I didn’t like about the story related to the conditions Caspian had for Arden. He accepted him and his rules, only to complain about it a short time after. Caspian had all reasons to move forward without him; which he didn’t do. The other was the lack of background about Caspian. It was hard to get to know him thru Arden’s eyes.

Just like every series, this is not a complete story. It has the start of something good and a solid happy for now. It opens the door for a future that if it follows the Fifty’s saga it won’t have a lovely end until a third book is available.

The narration by Joel Leslie makes everything better. It’s easy to follow the characters’ perspective and how they feel about each other. He makes the reader feel what the characters are feeling making the story more personal and enjoyable.

After reading the story, I’m still unsure of who is on the cover by Brian Lemus. I believe is Caspian but I can be wrong.

Sales Links:  Hachette | Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Joel Leslie

Length: 11 hours

Published: January 16, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Hachette Audio
ASIN: B078WZLVX4
Edition Language: English

Series:  Arden St. Ives
Book #1: How to Bang a Billionaire

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Pansies (Spires Universe) by Alexis Hall

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

pansies-by-alexis-hallWhew!  I’m emotionally exhausted from following just a few weeks in the lives of Alfie and Fen as they rediscover each other and move their relationship forward from enemies to lovers.

When Alfie leaves his posh London apartment, secured with money he’s made while working as a financial guru for the past seven years, he drives in his equally posh sports car back to his hometown of South Shields in Northern England where nothing is posh.  It’s rundown and depressing, and yet he feels hopeful and renewed by getting in touch with his roots.  A night out has an unexpected result—he spies a hot twink with long hair and a gorgeous ass in the local bar, but when the two end up in bed together he learns this isn’t a stranger at all.  It’s the guy he knew as James in high school—a guy who he bullied and tortured to the point where James’s life was so miserable he went by his middle name, instead of his real name of Fenimore, nicknamed Fen.  And Fen is shocked when he learns Alfie doesn’t recognize him at all, but he sets Alfie straight when he gives him the tongue-lashing he deserves—and not the kind of tongue Alfie may have been hoping for.

Though the story was long, I enjoyed the fact that the author took the time to explore each man’s personality and psyche individually and then together, weaving memories of their pasts with the present, unfurling Alfie’s feelings of his discovery of being gay, and then of falling in love, and finally, of realizing what love really means and of coming to terms with who he is.  At times heartbreaking, at times infused with humor, each man’s story is unique, and yet the stories are easily intertwined to bring the couple to the present where they discover a love neither had envisioned and neither is willing to give up.

I was swept up in their story, at times rooting for Alfie, at times crying for Fen, and once—wanting to smack Alfie upside the head for listening to advice from Fen’s father.  Thankfully, the story ended with a HEA—always the best ending in my opinion.  I recommend this to those who enjoy MM romance, especially a romance that takes the time to fully develop between two men who were at odds previously and now learn to appreciate the best and worst in each other’s lives.

The cover by Simoné is fantastic!  In fact, I chose the book based on the cover. It clearly depicts Pansies, the flower shop around which the story is based, and it shows the couple in a joyous moment—big, muscular Alfie, holding a smaller, lithe Fen as they laugh together in front of the shop.

Sales Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Riptide Publishing

All Romance | iBooks | Kobo

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 376 pages
Published October 8th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitlePansies
ASINB01M8FV8RB
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSpires Universe

In the Spotlight with Pansies (Spires Universe) by Alexis Hall (giveaway)

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pansies_600x900

Pansies (Spires Universe) by Alexis Hall
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by Simoné

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

About Pansies

Alfie Bell is . . . fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.

It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie hasn’t met anyone like Fen before.

Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.

Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.

Available from Riptide Publishing: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/pansies

About Alexis Hall

Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret.

He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.

He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car.

He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

Connect with Alexis:


Website: quicunquevult.com
Blog: quicunquevult.com/blog
Twitter: @quicunquevult
Goodreads: goodreads.com/alexishall

pansies_tourbanner

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Pansies, one lucky winner will receive their choice of 3 ebooks from Alexis Hall’s backlist. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 15, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

An Ali Review: Looking for Group by Alexis Hall

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

looking-for-group-by-alexis-hallSo, yeah, I play Heroes of Legend, y’know, the MMO. I’m not like obsessed or addicted or anything. It’s just a game. Anyway, there was this girl in my guild who I really liked because she was funny and nerdy and a great healer. Of course, my mates thought it was hilarious I was into someone I’d met online. And they thought it was even more hilarious when she turned out to be a boy IRL. But the joke’s on them because I still really like him.

And now that we’re together, it’s going pretty well. Except sometimes I think Kit—that’s his name, sorry I didn’t mention that—spends way too much time in HoL. I know he has friends in the guild, but he has me now, and my friends, and everyone knows people you meet online aren’t real. I mean. Not Kit. Kit’s real. Obviously.

Oh, I’m Drew, by the way. This is sort of my story. About how I messed up some stuff and figured out some stuff. And fell in love and stuff.

This was a lovely story about two young men finding friendship and then love after meeting on line.  The gist of the story is that in the course of playing online games, Drew and Kit become friends and then fall for each other.  At the core though this book is about the importance that online friends can have in our lives.  I love looking at that subject because I know I have personally made a few friends online and they have been wonderful additions to my life.
The writing was really well done and the author painted such a well developed world that I felt like I knew what it was like to be caught up in these online games.  And I don’t.  I’ve never actually played any of these type games.  As a result of my real life experience there were a few scenes that were hard for me to get through.  I didn’t really understand what was going on.  There is a great glossary in the back that you can use to look up things.  Sometimes I took advantage of that and other, more extensive gaming scenes, I just skimmed.  I don’t think I missed anything by skimming them.  If there were inside comments or jokes I wasn’t going to get them anyways.  Overall it didn’t matter because the friendship and love story still came shining through.  I still got all of that and I enjoyed it immensely.  I think this book will be a special read for those who do have gaming experience and/or those who have made real life connections from their online lives.
Cover by Simone’:  I like the cover a lot.  I think it fits the story really well.
Sales Links
7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle
6f71e-all2bromance2bbutton
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published August 27th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleLooking for Group
ASINB01L54O60O

Riptide Publishing’s Tour and Giveaway: Looking for Group by Alexis Hall

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LookingForGroup_600x900

Looking for Group by Alexis Hall
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by Simoné

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Riptide Publishing’s tour and giveaway for Alexis Hall’s Looking for Group.  Check it out below and don’t forget to leave a comment and be entered in the giveaway.

About Looking for Group

So, yeah, I play Heroes of Legend, y’know, the MMO. I’m not like obsessed or addicted or anything. It’s just a game. Anyway, there was this girl in my guild who I really liked because she was funny and nerdy and a great healer. Of course, my mates thought it was hilarious I was into someone I’d met online. And they thought it was even more hilarious when she turned out to be a boy IRL. But the joke’s on them because I still really like him.

And now that we’re together, it’s going pretty well. Except sometimes I think Kit—that’s his name, sorry I didn’t mention that—spends way too much time in HoL.  I know he has friends in the guild, but he has me now, and my friends, and everyone knows people you meet online aren’t real. I mean. Not Kit. Kit’s real. Obviously.

Oh, I’m Drew, by the way. This is sort of my story. About how I messed up some stuff and figured out some stuff. And fell in love and stuff.

About Alexis Hall

Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret.

He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.

He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car.

He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

Connect with Alexis:

LookingForGroup_TourBanner

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Looking for Group, one lucky winner will receive their choice of 3 ebooks from Alexis Hall’s backlist. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 3, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

An Ali Audiobook Review: For Real (Spires Universe) by Alexis Hall and John Hartley (Narrator), Paul Berton (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

For Real AudiobookLaurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

My heart is so zing I can’t even….. Seriously. Not enough words to express how much I loved this story. I had a bunch of friends who had read this and loved it but although I like this author’s work I was still a little dubious about the age gap. It wasn’t the amount of years as much as the fact that Toby was only 19. I went into this feeling a lot like Laurie did. I thought Toby was too young for this story to feel real to me.

This story looks at two very different men at two very different stages of their lives. Toby is working and still living at home with his mother. He knows he has dominate tendencies but really all he has are fantasies. He’s not had any real experience or opportunity to learn how to be a Dom. Laurie is on the opposite spectrum. He’s in his late 30’s and is a doctor. He has an established career and is financially stable. He’s had both short and long term sexual and bdsm relationships. While Laurie should be the one with the most self-confidence he really isn’t. He’s jaded and a tad bitter and he really doesn’t believe love will happen for him again. Toby also has a lack of self-confidence in some ways but his is more an age thing. He’s not sure what he has to offer Laurie. Watching these two try to work through their respective issues was just beautiful. While Toby struggles with not knowing what he wants to do with his future and how to have the sexual relationship he wants, he’s filled with enthusiasm and maybe most importantly, hope. And after awhile with him, those thing start to spread to Laurie.

I felt the author did a great job with both characters. The magic in the storytelling for me was that we got the story told from each characters point of view. I felt like this really helped me to understand what each of them were going through. I found myself identifying with both of them at one point or the other. I understood the doubts Laurie had in regards to Toby’s age. I’m not sure I could date someone that much younger than me. On the other hand I’ve been 19 and I though Toby was a great representation of what it’s like to be at that stage of life.

I also really enjoyed the kink aspect of the story. So often in BDSM books there is a type of formula that seems to be used. This book contained none of that. Toby has the desire to dominate but no real idea how to do it and it stands to reason a young Dom would need to be taught by someone. I loved how Laurie does that in this story and how he gently helps Toby to figure out who he is and what he wants in that regard.

An added bonus to this story was listening to it on audio. I highly recommend you give the audiobook a try. There are two narrators and they both do an excellent job. I think a great narrator can add to and enhance a story and in this case I feel like these narrators did just that.

I read a lot, like 300+ books a year, and there are usually only a handful that really stand out as something unique. Something that makes me think about it for days after I’m done. This book is one of those stand outs and I really can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Cover art by Simoné. I liked the cover and I feel like it does a good job representing the characters and the plot.

Sales Links: Riptide PublishingAudible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 13 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Audible Studios (first published June 1st 2015)
Original TitleFor Real
ASINB018IJCQWY
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSpires Universe
Literary AwardsRITA Award by Romance Writers of America for Best Erotic Romance (2016)

A BJ Audiobook Review: Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall ~Narrated by Alexander Doddy

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Rating:     3 out of 5 stars

Waiting for the Flood audioPeople come as well as go.

Twelve years ago, Edwin Tully came to Oxford and fell in love with a boy named Marius. He was brilliant. An artist. It was going to be forever.

Two years ago, it ended.

Now Edwin lives alone in the house they used to share. He tends to damaged books and faded memories, trying to a build a future from the fragments of the past.

Then the weather turns, and the river spills into Edwin’s quiet world, bringing with it Adam Dacre from the Environment Agency. An unlikely knight, this stranger with roughened hands and worn wellingtons, but he offers Edwin the hope of something he thought he would never have again.

As the two men grow closer in their struggle against the rising waters, Edwin learns he can’t protect himself from everything—and sometimes he doesn’t need to try.

This is my third book by this author. I adored For Real, abso-freaking-lutely loved it. But the other one I’d read not so much, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with a third one. Even after listening to it, I’m wasn’t sure and had to really think about it. There were parts that I found quite slow, where my attention drifted away and I had to struggle to make myself focus on the story. But then there were other parts that I found to be deep and poignant, that jerked at my heart in the way they felt so raw and real. The writing was lyrical, slow-paced, contemplative.

The premise of two men meeting during a storm/flood appealed to me, as I usually adore such stories. But there were many times that I was confused by the words and conversation, which may have been part of why my mind often wandered. I enjoyed Adam’s character quite a lot, but Edwin not so much. He seemed so very hung up on his old relationship even though a few years had past, that he let it influence him to the point that he cut himself off from life, and he very nearly let it get in the way of something good several times.

I’ve not listened to too many audios narrated with a UK accent, so it took me a tiny bit to get used to it. Not that it wasn’t lovely, as it certainly was, just that it was a little bit harder to understand for me at first until my ears got attuned to it. I felt that he did a stellar job at handling Edwin’s speech impediment.

Beautiful cover… I adore rain and these guys walking hand in hand in it totally did it for me.

Sales Links:  Riptide PublishingAudible | Amazon


Book Details:

Audible Audio, 3 pages, Listening Length: 2 hours and 51 minutes
Published May 23rd 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published February 21st 2015)
ASINB01FXZ0FX8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSpires Universe

A Scary Review Redux: Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall (A MelanieM Review)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5 (for story and cover)   ★★★★★

Once upon a time . . . that’s how the old stories always begin.

And so this one begins, in a land both foreign and familiar, it’s a tale of princes, and merfolk and love…of a sort.

Once upon a time there was a king of a fallen kingdom. He was just and he was beloved. Or so the numbers said. One day, he gathered together the greatest, wisest minds in all the land—not sorcerers, but scientists—and he bade them fashion him a son. A prince. A perfect prince to embody his father’s legacy. 

Sand and Gold and RuinBut as fate would have it, nothing ever turns out as planned and the golden perfect prince had other ideas for his future. After gazing upon the dances of the mer in a performance, our prince runs off to join the circus, the Cirque de la Mer.  Once there the prince trained the merfolk,  he performed with them, and  thought he was happy…for a year.

Time brought strange thoughts and emotions to the prince the closer he got to the merfolk. Then Nerites arrives, a mesmerizing merman who refused to be trained or tamed.  Nerites was something far more than the prince ever expected.  Nerites was savage and unknown.

How does the tale end?  Ah, there’s the rub.  For every prince, there exists a beast, and for every love, there exists a forever heartbreak.  Sand and Ruin and Gold has them all.

Sand and Ruin and Gold hearkens back to the olden stories.  Not the comforting ” Disneyfied” fairytales but those of Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.  Here the darkness and unknown reign supreme, not happy endings or light.  Less a tale of romance, this beautifully written short story builds an atmosphere of  creeping foreboding, a sense that not everything is as it seems.  The poetic nature of the narrative combined with an imagery that will enchant, then leave you haunted by the possibilities, make Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall a short story that refuses to be limited by category or trope.

The feeling of something just off kilter is already present at the beginning.  Hall’s prince isn’t born, he’s a genetically perfected young man, created to be the ideal heir to a “good” king who resides over a fallen land.  The clues and telling phrases are slipped in sparingly at first, then in ever increasing numbers. As new descriptions of the circus and the shows appear, a far different picture emerges from our original assumptions of the merfolk and the circumstances at the Circus.  And along with it comes the feeling one gets when the hairs rise off your arm when frightened or the queasiness that originates in your stomach when it dawns on you that something you thought was happily normal or ordinary turns out to be fearfully, horrifically wrong.

Alexis Hall understands how to build a powerfully evocative story, one that runs more along the lines of those classics passed from bard to bard, told around fires in great halls and forests alike.  Whether those bards be from the past or perhaps even our future, that is but one more chilling aspect of this story, a tale that exists in the mists and ocean eddies of the dark seas of this unknown world. But its Hall’s stylistically vivid and powerful narrative with its lush descriptions that makes this story so stunning, so poignant.  This is how it starts out:

“I must have been very young when I saw the mermaids at the Cirque de la Mer because it was the nurse who took me and her place in my life was soon surrendered to tutors. I don’t think my father ever found out.  He would not have approved.

The day is little more than a sensory haze, of pastel children, the laughter of strangers, and the burn of salt and chemicals at the back of my throat.

The mermaids, though.  They are as vivid as stained glass, even now.”

Told from the prince’s pov, we feel his assumptions of his life and the circus fall slowly away as comprehension and understanding arrive building block by building block as events unfold around him.  It is a tale of deep love faced amidst horrifying truths.  One reading will not be enough to capture all the incredible and terrifying moments as sudden realization, and insight sets in.

And then there is that ending, the one that will refuse to let you go.  Its in the words and feelings that emerge, and the tears that will run down your face as you try to decide the implications of words strung like pearls, luminescent and beyond value.  An ending that will send you back to the beginning of the story and start this tale once more.

I highly recommend this story to all readers.  This is a story that should be on everyones shelf, whether it be made of wood or eReader.  This is one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2014 as is its cover.

Cover Artist:  Simone.  The artwork for Sand and Ruin and Gold is every bit as lush and haunting as the story itself. One of the best covers of the year.

Sales Links:    Riptide Publishing           All Romance (ARe)        amazon          Sand and Ruin and Gold

Book Details:

ebook, 39 pages
Published September 22nd 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626492318
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://riptidepublishing.com/title

A Stella Review: For Real by Alexis Hall

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

For Real coverLaurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

Usually I don’t read books this long (this one is 437 beautiful pages), cause they always dragged at some point during the story. Not For Real by Alexis Hall. I was caught in the MCs’ lives till the end, there wasn’t one little moment of boredom. I didn’t want to put it down and I could have going on for another 400 pages. I felt everything Laurie and Toby felt, almost if I was there in their amazing world.

Of course I didn’t expect anything other than perfection from Alexis Hall. Recently I realized that he could simply write my favorite pie recipe and turn it in a masterpiece. He not “just can write”, there a lot of authors that can really write, he writes magically, everything is so poetic, even the smallest and stupid description of something you could have thought useless for the purpose of the story. The use of words in the descriptions and the reality of this story were two elements that made this book a winner to me. Even if the story flows easy, still I found it complex and that was what I appreciated more.

For Real is definitely not the usual BDSM story, the way in which the roles were defined plus everything was one continuous discovery. And not just for the young Toby, too young to know how to express himself in his desire of dominate Laurie. This was a dynamic I hadn’t read yet, at first it almost sounded strange to me but then I got it. I understood that the author gave me Toby and Laurie, two real characters, both full of flaws but true in their feelings. Their story was complicated, sweet and hot. Moreover I so appreciated to be able to know every little detail that went on in their minds.

As I said a complex book with a beautiful happy ending. I already know I’m going to reread it very soon because the positive, happy vibes it gave me are addictive. For Real deserves absolutely a spot on my fave shelf. Not a crumble less than 5 stars!

Cover art by Simoné. I love this artist style, it’s magical and dreamy. This cover is perfect and fitting in every detail. I especially love the colors and all that light coming from the windows. Just like the book, it’s real.

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

Book Details:
Published June 1st 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ebook, 437 pages
ISBN13 9781626492790
Edition Language English

Spires Universe:
Glitterland
Waiting For The Flood
For Real

What’s this “Spires” thing?

Author Alexis Hall: My feeling is that even contemporary-set romance stories to an extent take place in imagined worlds. So even though they’re not direct sequels to each other, my contemporary romances often have overlapping characters, ideas and settings. Spires is how I refer to this collection of thematically linked but otherwise standalone stories.