A Lila Audio Review: A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3) by Amy Lane and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A tomcat, a psychopath, and a psychic walk into the desert to rescue the men they love…. Can everybody make it out with their skin intact?

PI Jackson Rivers and Defense Attorney Ellery Cramer have barely recovered from last November, when stopping a serial killer nearly destroyed Jackson in both body and spirit.

But their previous investigation poked a new danger with a stick, forcing Jackson and Ellery to leave town so they can meet the snake in its den.

Jackson Rivers grew up with the mean streets as a classroom and he learned a long time ago not to give a damn about his own life. But he gets a whole new education when the enemy takes Ellery. The man who pulled his shattered pieces from darkness and stitched them back together again is in trouble, and Jackson’s only chance to save him rests in the hands of fragile allies he barely knows.

It’s going to take a little bit of luck to get these Few Good Fish out alive!

A Few Good Fish is better than Red Fish, Dead Fish. And yes, that’s exactly how I started its review. Another thing I mentioned, that it was best to read Racing for the Sun too. In this case, it’s imperative since Ace’s and Sonny’s part in this book is almost as important as Jackson’s & Ellery’s.

The events in this story take place shortly after the end of book two and gave the reader a view of Jackson and Ellery trying to find some normalcy on their lives. Their day-to-day still involved several cases but they tried to establish some time for themselves as a fairly new couple.

Jackson’s health has an important role in the story as well as his relationship with G*d and Lucy Satan. The book is pack with action and more than enough feels for all to laugh and cry a bit. None can do that better than the author. We also get a glimpse of a possible future in which they work, love, and play together, expanding their family.

Overall, this is one of those stories that is not perfect or all gooey filling but the characterization is outstanding. Jackson, Ellery, Ace, Sonny, Burton, Earnie, and everyone else are incredible characters coexisting in a world where life is not easy but love conquers all.

The short story at the end of the book could be listened at first. It will fill some holes in this story.

It feels like Greg Tremblay narrates these books back to back, without any publication time between them. The characterization is impeccable as always, and he transmits all the feelings the author gave the characters. It’s easy to follow the story, and feel like part of it.

The cover by Reese Dante still quite literal. Same clean lines and elements as the previous two. Perfect for the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Greg Tremblay
Length: 10 hours and 15 minutes

Published:  January 24, 2019 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07MXNDT9K
Edition Language: English

Series: Fish Out of Water
Book #1: Fish Out of Water
Book #2: Red Fish, Dead Fish
Book #3: A Few Good Fish

Amy Lane on Courting a Demon and her new release Familiar Demon (Guest Post and Excerpt)

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Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) by Amy Lane

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Reese Dante

Buy Links:   Amazon |   Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Lane here today on tour for her latest release Familiar Demon.  Welcome, Amy.

Courting a Demon By Amy Lane

So, what’s it like to court a demon?

Well, in the case of Edward and Mullins, there’s quite a bit of preparation.

First, Mullins must be ready to get out of hell—it turns out that hell is mostly run by bozos and that the REAL devils are humans without restraint and without conscience who are given the power to hurt. With a judicious use of magic—and some self-realization on his part—Mullins is free to go.

Except, well, about that magic…

Turns out that the spell to release a demon from hell was cooked up a long time ago. All sorts of things—horns of ibexes, dodos eggs, dinosaur bones, three strands of hair from an elven king—are sort of hard to acquire.

And let’s talk about being ready to get out of hell. Lots of us live in hells of our own making. It’s comfy here. We know where the fridge is. The whips for self-flagellation are handy. We know who to blame when the world goes wonky. Why would we want to leave?

So talking Mullins out of staying in hell—and putting together the spell that will get him out when he’s ready—are two of the focal points of the book, and neither of them are easy. So how do you start a planetary scavenger hunt in a minivan and stop a demon for blaming himself for simple human failings?

Well, like so very much else in romance, it all starts with a kiss…

Familiar Demon—Exclusive Excerpt:

“Nice,” Edward said with a sigh. “This was one of few items I didn’t have in the minivan when it blew up.”

“Wait a moment!” Mullins protested. “You… you had most of the ingredients in the minivan before it blew up?”

“Yes. Yes, I did. And then we all went on a mission without Harry and they spotted us and were completely on our tail with guns and Emma pulled us out of the minivan with that boomerang thing she does in her sleep, and the minivan was sailing through the air like an unmanned cruise missile. Are you happy?”

“But… but you were doing this before? Without my knowledge? Edward—why?”

“Because I wanted it all done before we told you!” Edward exclaimed. “I wanted to offer it—and I know it’s silly and simplistic and sad—but I wanted to offer it, like a courting gift, and say, ‘Mullins, I’ve loved you forever. Will you leave hell for me?’ And then everything I’d collected went kaboom and….” Edward’s shoulders slumped. “Harry and Suriel were separated. And I know we told you about it afterward, but… but I thought I was going to lose my brother, Mullins. And I was terrified. So I gave up the search until Suriel was released from heaven, and now—”

“Now you’re ready to search again.” Mullins bowed his head. “Edward, you have nothing to be ashamed about. You should have asked me first—”

“So you could say no?” Edward demanded.

Mullins shook his head, eyes focused on Edward’s loopy scrawl. “I wouldn’t have said no,” he whispered. “Not to you.”

And Edward had to grin, his heart warming in his chest. “And that is the best thing I’ve heard all day. But about that last thing—”

“I’ll search for it,” Mullins told him soberly. “But sometime—not now—I think I’m going to have to tell you the story about how one young cotsman became a demon.”

“I’m waiting to hear it,” Edward whispered. “Mullins, you’re growing thin. Let me kiss you, and you can wear my love under your skin, to protect you until it’s time again.”

Growing thin was the expression Francis had coined for the transparency Mullins formed around the edges before Mullins asked for the words that would banish him back to hell.

“Kiss—”

Edward ignored him, turned his head, and cupped his jaw. His fingers slid through the façade of the beast like a photo projection on the wall, and he could feel the faint bristle of day-old beard abrade his palm. “I can see you, this close, Mullins. I know who I’m kissing. You are a very beautiful man.”

He found Mullins’s mouth unerringly, and Mullins’s gasp of surprise told Edward the touch was alien, and not unpleasant.

Edward breathed softly and found the seam of Mullins’s lips with the tip of his tongue, and Mullins’s breathy little moan sent wildfire ripping through Edward’s blood.

He slid his fingers along the back of Mullins’s round, human skull and plundered.

So many years of depending on this steady, practical demon. So many years wanting to escape the strictures of courtesy and magic that bound them.

And now Edward was tasting him, and he tasted rich, sweet, exotic—Turkish coffee and cinnamon.

Mullins groaned and lifted his hand to Edward’s temple—

And sliced his skin with the sharp edge of his hoof.

Edward gasped and Mullins jerked back, turning away and shrinking inward.

“Let me go,” he murmured, like the last hour of them working together, partnering as though they had a future, had never happened.

“Never.”

Edward reached for his chin and found it—still human under his fingers. He gave a little pull and Mullins reluctantly turned toward him. Edward couldn’t see him anymore, but he could feel him under his fingers. “That kiss is my vow to you, Mullins. I fell in love bit by bit, you understand? For the last fifty years, it’s been you, just you, in my heart, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been there from the very first. You and me, we have things to do together. This isn’t the end. I may let you return to your cell, to gain strength, to think about the challenges we have together, but trust me, I’ll be summoning you again. And if you don’t come, I’ll know you’ve been taken, and thanks to you, I’ve got a plan—”

“What’s the—”

“Enough. Enough of the plan.” Edward smiled and tapped his forehead, calling up his brother’s mantra when things got really hairy. “It’s all up here,” he said.

Mullins didn’t smile back. “You’re right,” he said quietly. “I do have a soul. But if you get hurt before we can make this come true, you’ll break my heart.”

Edward nodded, suddenly sober. “Understood. I’ll say the words to let you go, and I swear I’ll call you back again.” A drop of blood dripped over Edward’s forehead from the cut Mullins had left, and before Edward knew how to react Mullins leaned forward and lapped.

The buzz of magic that passed through the room left them both breathless.

“What the—”

“I’m sorry!” Mullins muttered. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I did that—”

Edward’s cockiest grin took him by surprise. “I do. You locked that promise in blood, you clever boy. I’m sworn to it for real now—written right in the annals of hell, isn’t that how the blood oath goes?”

Mullins shut his eyes. “It was unconscionable—”

“It was heroic!” Edward crowed. “And I owe you the same sort of heart. I’ll get you out of there, beloved. Just hang on, understand?”

To his relief Mullins nodded, and Edward reached out and touched his face tenderly. “Get thee gone, demon,” he said, voice choking on the old words. “Return only when summoned, harm none in this house, harm none at my hearth. Get thee gone.”

And Mullins disappeared, fading into the air, leaving only the heat of his body and his hope behind.

Blurb: 
 

For over a century, Edward Youngblood has been the logical one in a family of temperamental magical beings. But reason has not made him immune to passion, and Edward’s passion for Mullins, the family’s demon instructor, has only grown.

Mullins was lured into hell through desperation—and a fatal mistake. He’s done his best to hang onto his soul in the twisted realm of the underworld, and serving the Youngblood family when summoned has been his only joy. Edward concocts a plan to spring Mullins by collecting a series of items to perform an ancient ritual—an idea that terrifies Mullins. He can’t bear the thought of losing Edward and his brothers to a dangerous quest.

But every item in their collection is an adventure in brotherhood and magic, and as Mullins watches from the sidelines, he becomes more and more hopeful that they will succeed. When the time comes for Mullins to join the mission, can he find enough faith and hope to redeem himself and allow himself happiness in the arms of a man who would literally go to hell and back—and beyond—to have Mullins by his side?

About the Author

Amy Lane lives in a crumbling crapmansion with a couple of growing children, a passel of furbabies, and a bemused spouse. She’s been nominated for a RITA, has won honorable mention for an Indiefab, and has a couple of Rainbow Awards to her name. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action-adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

A Lila Audio Review: A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Seeing the truth and falling in love.
Dustin Robbins-Grayson was a surly adolescent when Quinlan Gregory started the nanny gig. After a rocky start, he grew into Quinlan’s friend and confidant—and a damned sexy man.
At twenty-one, Dusty sees how Quinlan sacrificed his own life and desires to care for Dusty’s family. He’s ready to claim Quinlan—he’s never met a kinder, more capable, more lovable man. Or a lonelier one. Quinlan has spent his life as the stranger on the edge of the photograph, but Dusty wants Quinlan to be the center of his world. First he has to convince Quinlan he’s an adult, their love is real, and Quinlan can be more than a friend and caregiver. Can he show Quin that he deserves to be both a man and a lover, and that in Dusty’s eyes, he’s never been “just the manny?”

A Fool and his Manny is an all encompassing book. It brings the previous story lines into one. Reminding the reader of all the unique characters in the series over the years. I have no idea how the author can keep with the events in such a large expanse of time.

Quinlan and Dusty are great together.  It’s easy to see how their relationship evolved over the years. At times, I had trouble believing the age difference between the main characters. They both felt pretty young after they started their relationship.  As if Quinlan has stopped growing up to wait for Dusty.

This is a slow burn, very detailed story. Each tidbit of information plays a part later on, including things from other books. We get to see how the family grows and how Quinlan and Dusty are wrapped in their own little world.

Having everyone and their families show up in this book only added to that sense of family. And the author hinted to the new generation of characters taking over the series.

Overall,  this is a sweet, happy book. With real life events and many coincidences. It keeps the reader engaged even when some parts are a bit slow.

Kenneth Obi is the third narrator for this series and he did an excellent job bringing the characters we love to life. It’s easy to get back into the family and the little quirks that enhanced each character.

Another quote cover by Bree Archer. It gives the reader a little peek on Quinlan.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Kenneth Obi
Length: 6 hours 18 minutes
Published: December 6, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07L4X236Y
Edition Language: English

Series: The Mannies
Book #1: The Virgin Manny
Book #2: Manny Get Your Guy
Book #3: Stand by your Manny 
Book #4: A Fool and his Manny

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Homebird by Amy Lane

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Rating : 5 stars out of 5

 

Crispin Henry isn’t an adventurer. He learned early on that the world is a frightening place and that home is rare and precious. If his friends didn’t drag him to sports games and ill-advised trips to Vegas, he wouldn’t get out at all—and his trip to Munich for Oktoberfest is no exception. But it’s there that he meets Luka Gabriel, and he learns to take a chance.

 

Luka is a free-spirited world traveler, working at Oktoberfest to feed his enchantment with new places and new people. His only possessions fit in his backpack, and he depends on the kindness of strangers for a place to sleep. Crispin should know better—but he takes Luka’s hand anyway, and together they turn three nights in Munich into the relationship neither of them has been brave enough to risk—and neither can let go of.

 

When Luka turns up on Crispin’s doorstep before the holiday season, Crispin takes him in on hope alone. Yes, he knows the odds are good Luka will flutter out of his life again and leave him bereft, but isn’t it worth it to see if Luka is a homebird after all?

Yes, I knew to grab that box of tissues beforehand.  Check!  Because it was going to be one of those Amy Lane stories and at Christmas too!  About two damaged men, both broken in much the  same way, yet convince by life that the way to mend themselves lay in vastly different and opposite directions for their hearts.   Kill me now. The tears already threatened to flow.

But I dived right in, because on this too big for arms outstretched journey, there’s so much laughter, enlightenment, and joy to be found as well as the pain and ache that goes with life and love.

And no one does that as well as Amy Lane.

I mean I had tea out my nose when reading that burrito drive through scene.  Priceless! Getting ahead of myself.

But it’s Crispin and Luka’s tentative path towards love and a home that will make this a comfort read for me over and over again.  And Crispin’s circle of friends who became Luka’s, well, they were mine almost immediately.  How  could you not love this diverse group of men whose layers continues to unfold revealing more and more depth throughout the book, more heart, more pain, more of everything.  I wanted to hold onto them all and never let any of them go.

The imagery the author uses here, from the birds in flight, to empty nests with bits of colored yarn sprinkled throughout a neighborhood are haunting.  They play with your mind and twist into your heart, just as they do in the story, becoming unforgettable.  Just as the men they are associated with.

I loved this story.  I think you will too.  It’s beautifully written.  It contains such feeling of family (whoever that may be), recovery, and finding the path home wherever and whoever that may be.

I highly recommend this.        And don’t forget to read the author’s forward.  I would love to see that photo!

Cover art: Reese Dante.  This cover is everything.  That’s Luka and the bird with a piece of yarn in its mouth is symbolic of an important part of the storyline.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644050101
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Sometimes the best Christmas gift is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a rich, entitled, oblivious jock, and he might have stayed that way if he hadn’t become friends with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. When Oliver kisses him goodbye before Rusty leaves for college, Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But nothing can help Rusty survive a semester at Stanford, and he returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. But with Oliver’s love and the help of Oliver’s amazing family, Rusty realizes that failing college doesn’t mean he can’t pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Nobody can built characters quite like Amy Lane and put them into situations that then quietly begin to tear the reader’s heart apart, piece by tiny little piece. Rusty Baker is one such character, improbbly so.  On the exterior, he’s would appear to have everything to succeed in life.  He’s  rich, a jock, with a father who is determined to see him into a great school and going places.   That’s the exterior.

It takes  meeting Oliver, not rich not a jock, to reveal the real Rusty Baker. The gentle, insecure, and gay person Rusty is.  There’s also more that becomes readily apparent to Oliver as he tutors Rusty through his classes in high school.  Rusty has a learning disability that never goes named here but is perfectly spelled out in the way he “feels” when he get overwhelmed by his classes, projects, or professors.  God, how you feel for him.

Throughout the story, and as you can imagine Rusty’s life, the damage done to him hasn’t been delivered through physical blows, damning smacks to the body, but in deadly featherlight cuts to the heart and psyche.  It’s been his father, his mother supporting the patriarch, behind the worst of them. Amy Lane, like a surgeon of phrases, uses her words to slice through Rusty and our hearts over and over at unexpected times, leaving all of us shattered.

I was not prepared for how much this book would hurt.

But for all the wounds, there is the healing balm of Oliver, Oliver’s Dad and his family, Rusty’s sister, and even Rusty’s college roommate who encircle this damaged young man, help him to heal, build him a new foundation of family, support, and love.

Oddly, enough I think of Oliver and Rusty snuggling with Peanut as one of my favorite scenes.  All happy and content, perfect Christmas.   For me, even with all the Amy Lane tears that fell, this was a holiday story to remember.  And treasure.

It’s one I highly recommend.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  Not a fan of this cover.  There is so much more the artist could have pulled from.  Indistinguishable from any other couple.  Nothing special that separates it out for this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, Second Edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 7th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published December 7th 2013)
ASINB07JGXPM71
Edition Language English
Characters Oliver Campbell, Russell “Rusty” Calvin Baker setting California (United States)
El Dorado, California (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Hiding the Moon (Fish Out of Water #4) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Though this is the fourth book in the Fish Out of Water series featuring Ellery Cramer and Jackson Rivers, this could also be considered Racing for the Sun #2 as Sonny and Ace figure prominently in the story. In fact, Ellery and Jackson’s page time is mostly a repeat of their previous conversations and activities as they raced to bring down Karl Lacey, renegade colonel in A Few Good Fish. The difference is that we mostly hear them via the bugs planted by Lacey’s team and monitored by Lee Burton, friend of Ace Atchison and Sonny Daye (Racing for the Sun) and special ops division covert operator.

Only Amy Lane could get away with having characters named Burt and Ernie, or in this case, Lee Burton and Ernie Caulfield. When Lee takes an assignment to “hit” Ernie, he’s cautioned by his manager that the target doesn’t seem to fit the usual mold and he tells Lee to back off if he agrees. Not only does Lee agree after a few days of watching Ernie, he saves the young man’s life when Lacey’s team of hit men arrive to finish Ernie off. Sending five guys seems like overkill to Lee, and he quickly dispatches the three who have Ernie pinned in an alley. He gets Ernie to a safe place before beginning a new job—covert, of course—working for Corduroy, the organization housed with Lacey and his deranged group of “special” soldiers who Lacey is training as assassins. His job is to monitor the activities of a lawyer (Ellery) and his partner (Jackson) and to let Lacey know if they get further in their investigation of him.

In the meantime, he’s installed Ernie with Ace and Sonny. Ernie is a psychic and a beautiful character. Sweet and loveable, the guy wants the best for those around him but he can read their emotions like a book and Sonny is one explosive book. Over time, he comes to value Ace’s role in Sonny’s life and vice versa as he sees how one completes the other. He’s also growing to care for Burton who comes to see Ernie during the night, make love with him under the star-filled desert skies, and then head back into insanity to try to foil Lacey’s plans.

Amy Lane has given new life to Sonny and Ace with this story. I loved them when I first met them years ago, but I adore them now—even with the chaos that is Sonny’s brain. Ace is strong, inside and out, and loves his man wholeheartedly and that strength of character and love shines through. His ability to think on his feet, when he and Ellery have their adventure, just adds to the enjoyment of the story. Ellery and Jackson are just as sharp and fun to read as they always are. In Ernie, the author gives us a very different character. He’s sweet and innocent on the outside, but strong and complex on the inside. His ability to “see” the future or “read” others before the actual events occur and his acceptance of his gift make him totally endearing. And Lee, perhaps the strongest character of all, has great depth of character with a strength and fortitude to keep moving forward toward his objective, despite the odds. He’s intelligent, resourceful, and comes to love Ernie with all his heart. His quiet, soul-searching moments reveal more of his personality, adding to readers’ enjoyment.

Honestly, how Amy Lane juggled all those balls in the air at one time, without dropping any, and then gave us an outstanding and complex story is beyond my imagination. But she most definitely did it!

The cover by Reese Dante features a gorgeous black man staring at the night sky. This, of course, is Lee Burton, and it’s a wonderful representation of the core of the story as he and Ernie generally get their time together at night in the desert.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages
Expected publication: October 23rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Hiding the Moon
ISBN139781640809369
Edition Language English
Series Fish Out of Water #4

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Crocus (Bonfires #2) by Amy Lane and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.

High School Principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sherriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.

But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.

Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart? (

 

I fell deeply in love with these character in Bonfire, the first story in this series.  Amy Lane made it so easy because, as it’s often the way with her contemporary romances, it’s an ensemble piece.  We don’t just have a couple to focus on, but, just as in life, Amy Lane gives us growing and grown children  on both sides to deal with, separate households, pets, jobs, and even coming out to mesh and deal with.  Life is messy.  Amy Lane gets it and writes the hell out of it.  Same goes for the complexities of family dynamics, let alone two.  Then throw in kids you end of taking in and making a part of a sort of paramecium ever growing family, extending  little  arms out into a community that needs it so badly.

Talk about a book I wasn’t ready to let go of.

Now comes Crocus.  And it’s everything I could have wanted and hoped for.  More even.

Our families are back, still adjusting to each other and all the events of Bonfires.  As with all families, there’s no downtime, no respite.  And  the first upset to deal with is a pregnant, and clinically depressed daughter returning to the households.  This whole element, from baby daddy (which has some wonderfully humorous and serious elements ala Amy Lane) is folded beautifully into the story, never overwhelming the many other themes here, including the foundation love story of Larx and Aaron, who center and ground each other as well as their expanding family.  Boy, are there other serious story threads!  Child abuse, PTSD, gang violence, substance living, just to name some of the issues the author deals with here. Yet all work together in one tapestry of a novel, weaving together so many threads that combine to become an incredible story.

There are new dramas and emergencies as you might expect with Larx’s job as Principal and Aaron’s in the Sheriff’s office.  New members are slowly melded into the combined Larkin/George family outfit and seamlessly into your heart.  Jaime, who I fell in love with immediately, his broken brother Berto, Elton (not the name you will remember him by)…all welcomed and loved, all understood and embraced.  Each and everyone not characters but people that stick with you, get under your skin, and remain in your memory of those that you care about and love.

That crocus poking its head up out of the snow, offering up its promise of new life and growth?  Of hope?  Perfect for this family and story.  How I love it and them so.

I read Bonfires but listened to Crocus.  Narrator Nick J. Russo did an amazing job with such a huge cast of characters. He switched effortlessly between ages, teenagers to men in the middle ages, genders, and accents even held no issues for him.  It felt like a number of people narrating this story instead of one, the flow was so even and the acting so excellent that I lost myself instantly in the story and forgot about everything else.  I highly recommend him as a narrator, not just here but in other audiobooks.

If you haven’t already read this series, start with Bonfires and then come to Crocus.  This is a beautifully written series, with fully realized characters…a true ensemble cast that’s unforgettable in every way.  I loved listening to the audiobook version.  It makes me want to experience Bonfires in the same format.  And yes I highly recommend them both.

Cover art:  Reese Dante.  I adore this cover.  The artwork combined with the title and imagery within the storyline is shear perfection.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible |

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 9 pages
Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 32 minutes
Published September 11th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published April 17th 2018)
Original Title Crocus
ASIN B07H51CDSN
Edition Language English
Series Bonfires #2

Amy Lane on Deals with God, and her latest release ‘A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3)’ (author guest post)

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A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3) by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Reese Dante

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Lane on tour for her newest release, A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3).  Welcome back, Amy!

 

Deals with God

By Amy Lane

We do this all the time.

“Oh please oh please oh please, let me make this flight and I shall never, ever, ever, stop for coffee on the way to the airport again!”

“Oh please oh please oh please, let me find that one shirt, the perfect shirt, for this occasion before it’s time to leave and I’ll do laundry all the time and fold it as soon as it’s out of the drier forever and ever amen!”

Or, more seriously,

“OH please. Please. Please, let this person be okay. I’ll do anything. Anything at all, please, just let them be okay.”

In book two, Red Fish, Dead Fish, Ellery made a deal with God. If Jackson came home alive after a harrowing night and a terrible day, Ellery would go to temple for a year.

Now, some people would take a look at their beloved and say, “Oh, thank you God, I know you know I didn’t really mean it and you gave him back anyway!”

But some people would follow through.

The only reason Ellery won Jackson in the first place is that he’s made of follow through.

The book opens up with Ellery trying to get to temple (and Jackson trying to convince him that nobody’s that excited about Jackson’s survival and worship is a terrible waste of a Saturday morning) and the question is brought up again.

“How much does God really care about the deals we make when we’re desperate and sad? Is he really going to hold us to that, or can we sort of shimmy out of it?”

Ellery shimmies out of nothing. 

Jackson whines and bitches and complains—but he always keeps his word.

So Jackson is forced to look at himself—hard—to see if he’s worth all this trouble. He’s never been worth trouble before—he’s mostly just been trouble. As far as he sees it, he’s cannon fodder, and that’s flesh and bone well spent.

But Ellery doesn’t see him that way.

The thought leaves him twitchy. Oh my God, he is made of hangups! He’s had to work his ass off to get over the injuries from the last book and he’s still not whole! He’s not eating, he’s not sleeping, and he can’t close his eyes without waking up in a sweat-wringing nightmare.

He can’t go out on the most basic run without risking his life.

And every day, every morning, when he and Ellery walk out the door, Ellery has to face the fact that Jackson might not come back.

So in the course of book three, Jackson has to make his own deals with God. 

Not the kind Ellery made—not the straight up trade. It’s more of the, “What do I have to do to make myself worth all this trouble,” variety or bargain.

And while we all know Ellery has essentially accepted him with all his glitches, what Jackson eventually decides to do is fix what he can, so he’s not such a burden to love.

Now we know where this is heading—eventually. In order for Jackson to truly fix himself, he needs to realize he’s worthy of love while still broken. But Jackson and Ellery have many more adventures to go, and nobody said Jackson was great at the emotional learning thing.

So we have the promise of that in future books—and boy is it a big job.

As Ellery has thought at the end of book one and book two and now book three—they have so much more to do.

Blurb

Fish Out of Water: Book Three

A tomcat, a psychopath, and a psychic walk into the desert to rescue the men they love…. Can everybody make it out with their skin intact?

PI Jackson Rivers and Defense Attorney Ellery Cramer have barely recovered from last November, when stopping a serial killer nearly destroyed Jackson in both body and spirit.

But their previous investigation poked a new danger with a stick, forcing Jackson and Ellery to leave town so they can meet the snake in its den.

Jackson Rivers grew up with the mean streets as a classroom and he learned a long time ago not to give a damn about his own life. But he gets a whole new education when the enemy takes Ellery. The man who pulled his shattered pieces from darkness and stitched them back together again is in trouble, and Jackson’s only chance to save him rests in the hands of fragile allies he barely knows.

It’s going to take a little bit of luck to get these Few Good Fish out alive!

 

Excerpt

“Sh….” Ellery slicked his hair back from his face and whispered to him as he collapsed limply, Ellery’s long limbs sheltering him from the cold outside their little bed.

“Sorry,” Jackson said, blinking hard, irritated at himself for losing sight of his plan. He was supposed to keep control, dammit. He was supposed to blow Ellery’s mind, not get swept away in the sexual tide himself!

“For what?” Ellery asked tenderly.

“Was trying to make it holy,” Jackson told him, lost enough to tell the truth.

Ellery struggled out from under him, pushing Jackson to his side while Ellery rolled over to face him. “Tell me this wasn’t!” he demanded.

Jackson grimaced. “Do you have to?” he asked. “I mean, if our sex is holy and shit, doesn’t that mean you don’t have to go?”

“Nobody is holding a gun to my head! Goddammit, Jackson, do you not get why I have to do this?”

“Aren’t you too late to go this week?” Jackson asked hopefully.

Ellery laughed, grim satisfaction in every syllable. “I set the alarm early so we could have breakfast.” He glanced over his shoulder. “And you know what? We still can.”

Jackson grimaced. Dammit. “But….”

Ellery’s expression softened, and he reached out to brush Jackson’s cheekbone with his fingertips. “Baby, why does this bother you so much?”

Jackson scowled. “Because if you’re thanking God for me, God’s going to show you what a mistake that is, and I like it here.”

With a groan and a heave, Ellery rolled off the bed. “There is no talking to you about this! Now get in the shower, and I’ll make pancakes. And no! You can’t wear jeans!”

“But you said I didn’t have to get out of the car!” Jackson hollered, finding a clean set of boxers in the dresser Ellery had set aside for him.

“I lied! You at least have to visit the outside, dammit!” Ellery grabbed his sleep pants and his sweatshirt from the folds of the covers and started dragging them on.

“But won’t I burst into fire?” Jackson asked, only partially kidding. His past… oh God. His past wasn’t checkered, it was chicken-pocked! “I mean, won’t you get kicked out and excommunicated if you show up with me next to you?”

“No, Jackson, they’ve got a big ol’ reformed-slut alarm that sounds as soon as you step foot on the ground, and then a force field shoots up, separating us and catapulting you to purgatory for the length of the service. After your first six visits, they give you the option of walking there on your own while a sorcerer whispers arcane words and tries to set me up with a doctor, because that’s just how Jews roll.”

Jackson stared at him, cheeks flushed with color, fine brown eyes sparkling with righteous anger, and like it usually did, the thing in his chest melted into a gooey little puddle.

“I can see your sarcasm is functioning well this morning. Isn’t that going to taint the pancakes?”

Ellery struggled to keep his mouth firm. “I can make my pancakes both strawberry and sarcastic. But if you want whipped cream, you’re going to have to shut up, get dressed, and let me have this. Understand?”

Jackson let out a sigh. “If I see anybody there in jeans, I’m not wearing slacks next time.”

“That, too, is understood.”

“And if anybody gives you shit about the gay—”

“We shall find a temple that has no shits to give. Also understood.”

“If you find someone there who’s better than me….” He scowled and stared at the picture of them Ellery had put up on the end table, Jackson looking uncomfortable in his best dinnerwear and Ellery smiling charmingly for his father, who was perhaps the dearest man Jackson had ever met. The picture had been taken outside Ellery’s parents’ house in Boston over Thanksgiving, and while Jackson could say for certain it had been a good time, every single memory he had seemed to be tempered with the stomach-churning anxiety he was dealing with now.

An Ellery Cramer and a Jackson Rivers did not make sense in any way, shape, or form. The longer they were together, the more Jackson looked for the chapped, palsied hand of fate to try to rip them apart. And every time Ellery said he was being ridiculous, Jackson had to walk away, because the fact was, he had almost died—twice—since the two of them had gotten together in the summer.

If that wasn’t God trying to tell Jackson the facts of life, Jackson didn’t know what was.

So Ellery going to temple out of some sort of weird deal he’d made with the big guy—on the one hand, it never hurt to suck up to the person in charge.

On the other hand, Jackson was a fan of the old Irish saying “May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”

In this case, he would just as soon nobody, God or devil, even knew he was on the planet. He’d had forces bigger than he was meddle in his life, and he had the layers of scar tissue to show he’d barely survived.

“If I find somebody who’s better than you,” Ellery snapped, bringing him to the present, “I’m not the one he’ll be hitting on.”

Jackson scowled at him. “You’re being stupid.”

Ellery’s thin lips curled up into a smile. “So are you.”

“Fine. Fine, I’ll go. I’ll even be a grown-up. But Ellery, those had better be some damned good pancakes.”

Ellery rolled his eyes and grabbed his robe, swanning out for his exit, singing “My pancakes bring all the boys to the yard…” as he went.

After he left the room, Jackson allowed himself a fond smile. God, he really was being ridiculous. Who over the age of twelve pitched this big a fit over church, or temple, or whatever?

But as he jumped in the shower and started to wash, he just couldn’t shake the unease that knotted in his stomach.

For much of his life, things like food, shelter, basic safety—things Ellery had taken for granted every day of his life—had been dreams to Jackson Rivers. Now, living with Ellery in his posh American River Drive house with cavernous rooms and real wood floors, Jackson had food and shelter and, God help him, emotional safety on a daily basis.

He was just waiting for God to stop helping him and rip it all away.

About the Author

Mother, knitter, author, wife, fur-baby wrangler, dreamer–Award winning writer Amy Lane writes romance because the voices in her head are real and she wants them to be happy at the end.

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Please tell me this isn’t the last book in this series! Amy Lane had not done an action adventure thriller before this series, but she certainly knocked it out of the ballpark when she matched up a wealthy, handsome, gay, high-powered defense attorney, Ellery Cramer, with the bisexual office PI, Jackson Rivers, who grew up virtually on the streets.

In this third installment, the committed couple planned to take a bit of time to allow Jackson to recover from their last encounter with the powerful rogue soldier, Colonel Lacey, who is apparently selecting certain soldiers to be brainwashed into being killing machines—assassins for hire. Unfortunately, quite by accident, a case falls into Ellery’s lap that is connected, and the two are off on an adventure again in an effort to clear a young nanny’s name in a hit-and-run investigation.

They didn’t know, however, that their every move was being monitored by Lacey and his cohorts through bugs placed in their phones, their vehicles, and in their home—including their bedroom, where the two allow their secrets and their desires free reign. Deciding to get this guy once and for all, they head toward San Diego, his base of operations, after securing their loved ones in safe houses with extra protection.

As unlikely as it might seem, they renew an acquaintance and end up working closely with Ace and Sonny from Racing for the Sun, a story I read quite a long time ago. Now that the author has tied the characters and the circumstances surrounding their meeting and eventual relationship together, I have to go back and read that one again. I need more of those two. And as an aside, I need more of their lodger, Lee Burton, and his new love interest, Ernie (yes—Ernie and Burt!). Both men are instrumental in the plot to get “the bad guys” in this story but their journey to happiness is just beginning so more, more, more, please.

This story has everything I love—super villains, kidnapping, injury, hospital vigils, strong characters, revisits with former MCs, romance, hot sex, supportive family and friends, surprises, explosions, and more. What’s not to like? And by the way, I do believe Lucy-Satan is my new all-time favorite secondary character. That’s Jackson’s pet name for Ellery’s mother. A strong personality, highly intelligent, a force of nature, intuitive, and able to present as a concerned and loving mother one moment and a stubborn attorney and businesswoman in the next. Seriously, it’s really nice to see multiple female characters important to the story who are strong and supportive, instead of nasty and twisted.

There were so many characters in this cast who deserve attention and kudos but not enough space on this page so I’ll just say that this story deserves attention not only for the high caliber of the adventure, but also of the characters—main, secondary, and pets.

Very highly recommended.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  Love these covers, brands the series with something that at first glance seems whimsical and then perilous with the fish trapped in the water bottle.  Perfect.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleA Few Good Fish
ISBN139781640808164
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Fish Out of Water:

Fish Out of Water

Red Fish, Dead Fish

A Few Good Fish

Hiding the Moon

A Lila Audiobook Review: Stand by Your Manny (The Mannies #3) by Amy Lane and Peter B. Brooke (narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Learning to trust and falling in love.Sammy Lowell has his hands full juggling his music, college, some pesky health problems, and making the uncles who raised him proud. He needs help fulfilling his after-school duties with his siblings. Nobody can be in two places at once—not even Sammy!

An injury puts Cooper Hoskins in a tough spot—if he can’t work, the foster sister he’s raising can’t eat. But years in the foster system have left Cooper short on trust, and opening up to accept help isn’t easy.

Luckily, family intervenes—Cooper needs a job so he can care for Felicity, and Sammy needs someone who can see past his illness to the wonderful things he has planned for his life. Each heals the damaged places in the other’s heart. But falling in love is a big responsibility for young men deep in family already. Can the two of them get past their fear of the immediate future to see forever with each other?

Stand by Your Manny brings another chapter to a series that stands aside from others due to the timespan between installments. It is necessary to read, at least, book one in this series to have a better understanding of the characters. It’s refreshing to see a young character turn into an intelligent young man between stories.

This is a story of discovering, not only of love but of what a family constitutes. Due to Cooper’s and Sammy’s age, it’s easy to think about this book as a YA story. We get to see how hard they worked to accept help without losing their independence. They become a team without realizing it, and shortly after, start a relationship based on honesty and innocence.

I enjoyed the UST in the story. It turns into part of the characters and their slow discoveries. The enjoyment of their new found relationship and their love for their families it’s an integral part of their path. We get to experience a range of emotions that felt real, not only for the characters but for the readers.

Getting to see the previous couples is an added bonus. They played a special part on Sammy’s and Cooper’s relationship and it’s exciting to see how much they have grown and learned about each other. I really love how Channing and Tino dealt with a growing Sammy. It was adorkable.

It was disappointing that John Solo was not the narrator of this story. He did an excellent job bringing the previous two books together. In this volume, we get Peter B. Brooke as the narrator. He adds that young tone to Sammy and Cooper without jeopardizing the previous characters we love.

The cover by Bree Archer follows the pattern of the series as well as the collection, giving us a peak of Sammy and his music room.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Peter B. Brooke
Length: 6 hours 01 minutes
Published: July 17, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07FMF4BG4
Edition Language: English

Series: The Mannies
Book #1: The Virgin Manny
Book #2: Manny Get Your Guy
Book #3: Stand by your Manny