A MelanieM Release Day Review: Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2) by Bru Baker

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Once in a blue moon, opposites find they’re a perfect match.

Nick Perry is tired of helping people with their marriages, so when a spot opens up to work with teens at Camp H.O.W.L., he jumps at it. He doesn’t expect to fall in lust with the dreamy new camp doctor, Drew Welch. But Drew is human, and Nick has seen secrets ruin too many relationships to think that a human/werewolf romance can go anywhere.

Happy-go-lucky Drew may not sprout claws, but he’s been part of the Were community all his life. He has no trouble fitting in at the camp—except for Nick’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing attraction between them and his ridiculous stance on dating humans. Fate intervenes when one of his private practice patients threatens Drew’s life. Will the close call help Nick to see a connection like theirs isn’t something to let go of?

Under a Blue Moon by Bru Baker is another strong novel in her Camp H.O.W.L. series. Camp H.O.W.L. is a highly expensive, secluded extended training ground for all were’s undergoing their first shifts.  Complete with psychologists, trainers, other doctors, and seasoned counselors who have been through it all, these teenagers are there to understand their new status and adjust that to the outside world…ie without letting the humans know that shifters exist.

It’s a remarkable theme to base a series on and it absolutely works as various staff have rotated out with each story.  Plus we have gotten to know the staff that remain as well as some endearing and not so endearing teens.

In Under a Blue Moon we have two new staff arriving at Camp H.O.W.L., one arriving as a result of the coupling from the first story (highly recommended).  It starts off hot, anonymous, and yes, meet cute.  Then things go downhill from there.

I really loved that beginning but unfortunately it sets up Nick Perry as a bit of a jerk for most of the rest of the story.   His stubbornness in failing to see Drew as anything other than a frail, unworthy human becomes especially irritating in the face of Drew having proved over and over that he’s anything but. I could see it at first but it carried on throughout the storyline far too long imo. Throw in the fact that Drew has been raised in a  pack environment for most of his life?  Well, after the upteenth time, you just get tired of reading about Nick period.  It wears you down.

What redeems the story is Drew.  He’s a terrific character as are all the secondary ones around him, many of whom you have met already in the first story.  The series basics as well as the book foundations are amazing.  They push you through the annoying elements until finally Nick overcomes his “human blindness” and sees the real Drew who is more than a match for him.

There was a lovely ending and of course, it makes me want the next story even more.

Want a great twist on a shifter romance and series?  Look no farther than the Camp H.O.W.L. series by Bru Baker.

Cover art:  Aaron Anderson.  Love the cover.  Works in every way.

Sales Links:

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Expected publication: June 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640806962
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Camp H.O.W.L.

Camp H.O.W.L.

Under a Blue Moon

In Our New Release Spotlight: Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2) by Bru Baker (special excerpt and guest post)

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Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2) by Bru Baker

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art: Bree Archer

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Bru Baker back talking about her latest release, Under a Blue Moon. the  second is her marvelous Camp H.O.W.L. series. Welcome, Bru.

♦︎

 

 

I’m here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to kick off the tour for Under a Blue Moon, the second book in the Camp H.O.W.L. series. Thanks for joining me!

I had a lot of fun with Tate and Adrian in book one, but I really wanted to come back to Camp H.O.W.L. so readers could get more of an idea about what a luxury werewolf camp for teens going through the Turn (aka their wolfy puberty) would be like. So this time around, we get to see more of the activities and day-to-day life at Camp H.O.W.L.

Both Drew and Nick are new hires at Camp H.O.W.L., so readers will get to experience the camp through fresh eyes. It was a lot of fun to write the two of them sampling the classes–I think my favorite has to be Agility Training, which Drew calls Werewolf Parkour. Since he’s human, he doesn’t have a great time with that one.

Drew and Nick meet on the way down to Camp H.O.W.L. Nick is struggling to cope with all the smells and sounds on the plane when things take a turn for the worse and a socked foot comes through gap in the seat to sit on his armrest. Drew comes to his rescue and gets the foot to retreat–and before you say that’s unrealistic, it happened to me on a recent flight to Los Angeles. The hilarious thing is it happened well after I wrote about it. I guess I had bad karma for putting poor Nick and Drew through it.

If Nick and Drew knew they were going to be working together their first meeting probably would have gone differently. But they were just two strangers on a plane, and when a storm grounded the plane and they had to deal with an unexpected layover, they let their mutual attraction take its course.

All hell breaks loose when Nick realizes the attractive, funny human he’d slept with is the new doctor at Camp H.O.W.L. I wouldn’t call Nick specist, but he has some definite beliefs about whether or not a werewolf and a human can relate to each other enough to have a successful relationship. Luckily, Drew spends the book proving him wrong at every corner.

Excerpt:

Nick’s seat shook as the person behind him moved around, and a second later a socked foot emerged between the seats and propped itself on Nick’s armrest. Nick gritted his teeth and fought the urge to whirl around and bare shifted fangs at the person. At least the foot didn’t smell, but still. Common decency.

He was never flying with an airline that didn’t give you seat assignments again, no matter how outrageous the baggage fees were on other carriers. He normally boarded shortly before the flight attendants closed the doors, but on this airline he’d been assigned a boarding position, and if he hadn’t boarded early, he’d have been stuck in an even worse spot than he was in now. At least the seat next to him was empty.

He’d taken the window because it was the farthest he could get from the other passengers, and thankfully the person who’d sat in his aisle had left a seat between them. With any luck it would stay empty.

Nick leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes, but that only magnified his other senses. He could hear the baggage handlers tossing suitcases into the cargo hold underneath them and the low hum of the pilots running through their preflight checks. A kid a few rows back needed a diaper change, and someone else was watching one of those annoying BuzzFeed videos without headphones.

His flight from Denver to St. Louis had left so early that his fellow passengers had been blissfully quiet. Most had slept. He’d stuffed his earbuds in and listened to Morrissey wail about toxic relationships and the failings of the human condition to while away the two and a half hours.

This flight was barely an hour in the air, so with any luck he’d make it to Indianapolis before his migraine made his head explode.

“Sorry, just sliding by,” a voice said, and a moment later someone dropped into the seat next to him. He heard a hiss and a squeal from the row behind them, and when he cracked open an eye, he was gratified to see a laptop bag sitting on top of the armrest-stealing foot.

The bag lifted and the socked foot disappeared abruptly amid angry muttering from the girl it belonged to. Nick wondered if offering the man a high five would be considered rude.

“Sorry,” the man mouthed when Nick turned to him. “That was probably rude, but oh my God, who does that?”

The man gestured toward the armrest, and Nick half fell in love in that moment. He’d done it on purpose! And he was gorgeous, Nick realized as he took in the man’s strong jaw and broad shoulders. His cheeks were flushed like he’d had to run to catch the flight, and holy hell, between that and the bedhead, the effect went straight to Nick’s groin.

“Sociopaths,” Nick mouthed back. “Same people who bring Chipotle on the plane.”

Blurb:

Once in a blue moon, opposites find they’re a perfect match.

Nick Perry is tired of helping people with their marriages, so when a spot opens up to work with teens at Camp H.O.W.L., he jumps at it. He doesn’t expect to fall in lust with the dreamy new camp doctor, Drew Welch. But Drew is human, and Nick has seen secrets ruin too many relationships to think that a human/werewolf romance can go anywhere.

Happy-go-lucky Drew may not sprout claws, but he’s been part of the Were community all his life. He has no trouble fitting in at the camp—except for Nick’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing attraction between them, and his ridiculous stance on dating humans. Fate intervenes when one of Drew’s private practice patients threatens his life. Will the close call help Nick to see a connection like theirs isn’t something to let go of?


Buy links:

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

About the Author

Bru Baker writes sophisticated gay romantic fiction with strong characters, real-world problems, and plenty of humor.

Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Moonmates exist, but getting together is going to be a beast….

When Adrian Rothschild skipped his “werewolf puberty,” he assumed he was, somehow, human. But he was wrong, and he’s about to go through his Turn with a country between him and his Pack—scared, alone, and eight years late.

Dr. Tate Lewis’s werewolf supremacist father made his Turn miserable, and now Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L. to ease the transition for young werewolves. He isn’t expecting to offer guidance to a grown man—or find his moonmate in Adrian. Tate doesn’t even believe in the legendary bond; after all, his polygamist father claimed five. But it’s clear Adrian needs him, and if Tate can let his guard down, he might discover he needs Adrian too.

A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But is Adrian up to the challenge?

This was a nice story.  Both of these characters had a lot of their own issues to get through for their relationship to work.  Adrian doesn’t connect the dots until it’s almost too late that he is going to go through his Turn.  Tate has made his life helping the young werewolves successfully complete their change and even if he’s hiding from himself.

Adrian has been living as a disappointment to his family ever since he didn’t go through his Turn like all those his age and I could feel his sadness and how detached he feels from his family because of this.  Tate has been running from the memory of his childhood for so long and helping others but you could see that even as he succeeds in helping most of the teens he doesn’t have a deep connection or friendship with many people.

I could see that they were both looking for somewhere to belong or someone to belong to but were afraid to voice that.  I still have to wonder at the end of story what about Adrian’s genetics caused him to go through the Turn late and it didn’t seem that anyone knew or seemed inclined to really find out.  I loved that they were both able to find somewhere to belong and be together with the support of Adrian’s family and their friends.

Dorian Bane did a great job narrating this story.  I was able to connect with the characters and feel their emotions in his reading as he used different voices for the characters.  His voice changes so much you really get to see the differences and personality of the characters.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is very nice and works well for this story.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6 hrs 55 min
Published: January 12, 2018 (ebook first published November 1, 2017) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Dreamspun Beyond

A MelanieM Advent Release Day Review: Homemade from the Heart by Bru Baker

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Craft store owner Grant has always been a sucker for a pretty face, and that goes double for a pretty face with an adorable sidekick. When seven-year-old Aubrey has her heart set on taking Grant’s already-full holiday craft series, he caves and gives up his one day off a week so she (and her hot guardian, Josh) can take private lessons. Their flirting ramps up week after week, and even though Josh isn’t with Aubrey’s mother, Grant can’t be sure the man isn’t straight. Maybe he’s just being friendly. And Josh, who most definitely is not straight, is afraid of being the creepy guy hitting on the teacher.

Frustrated by their stubbornness and cluelessness, Aubrey takes matters into her own hands. She decides the best gift to give Josh is something homemade and from the heart—a boyfriend they’ll both love.

Another absolutely adorable, full out Christmasy short story, Homemade from the Heart by Bru Baker is full of good cheer and romance.  How can it not be when one of the main characters owns and runs a craft store that’s making holiday crafts?  Hello Snowman and glitter by the buckets!  It made my inner kid want to reach for the glue and craft projects myself!

With a deft and loving touch, Baker’s characters come to life as Josh and Aubrey find their way to Grant’s store.  After finding Grant’s popular holiday craft series full, an improvised group of private lessons ensues and the road to romance is on.

I loved how natural, frazzled, and funny it all felt.  Nothing like a child, the oncoming date of Christmas and the need to make a series of presents can bring the pressure home and yet love of family too.  And both men are trying to make it special and find a path to each other as well.  The writing flowed, the storyline was fun and lovely, and the ending just right.

Homemade from the Heart by Bru Baker is one story I can not only recommend but wouldn’t mind checking back in on this couple later on in the year.  Aubrey too.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  That cover is perfect for the story. Loved it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 55 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803107
Edition LanguageEnglish
setting Illinois (United States)

Bru Baker on Getting to know Tate, Werewolf camp counselor and her release Camp H.O.W.L. (author guest blog)

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Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Release date: Nov. 1, 2017

Buy links:

Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Bru Baker here on her Camp H.O.W.L. tour.  Welcome, Bru.

 

Getting to know Tate, werewolf camp counselor by day, hermit by night

Hi, I’m Bru Baker, and I’m continuing my release tour for Camp H.O.W.L. here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Thanks for joining me, and thanks to Melanie, Stella, and the rest of the review crew here for having me here today.

I introduced everyone to brand  new werewolf (affectionately labeled fail!wolf in my  notes because he’s a late bloomer and in denial at first) Adrian yesterday on Love Bytes, so today I’m going to talk about Tate, the werewolf psychologist/camp counselor to troubled werewolf teens who Adrian ends up accidentally bonded to.

Tate went into psychology to help ensure that no wolfling had to deal with the same kinds of trauma and neglect he was raised in as part of a remote pack of werewolf supremacists who shunned human society and lived ruled by their baser instincts. It was no place for a reserved, thoughtful guy like Tate, and he escaped as soon as he was old enough to board a bus on his own and set out for college.

He’s been at Camp H.O.W.L. for years, and while he does have friends on the staff, Tate uses the camp as a crutch to help him avoid relationships. He spends his days surrounded by teenagers in the middle of the forest–it’s safe to say Tate isn’t known for putting himself out there with other adults. In the excerpt I’m sharing today, we see Tate trying to talk himself out of his attraction to Adrian, but his friend and mentor at the camp isn’t having any of it.

Blurb

Moonmates exist, but getting together is going to be a beast….

When Adrian Rothschild skipped his “werewolf puberty,” he assumed he was, somehow, human. But he was wrong, and he’s about to go through his Turn with a country between him and his Pack—scared, alone, and eight years late.

Dr. Tate Lewis’s werewolf supremacist father made his Turn miserable, and now Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L. to ease the transition for young werewolves. He isn’t expecting to offer guidance to a grown man—or find his moonmate in Adrian. Tate doesn’t even believe in the legendary bond; after all, his polygamist father claimed five. But it’s clear Adrian needs him, and if Tate can let his guard down, he might discover he needs Adrian too.

A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But is Adrian up to the challenge?

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 238 pages
Tags: Gay; M/M; werewolves; Dreamspun Beyond

Excerpt

 

 

He’d expected living with Adrian to be difficult, but it wasn’t. And that upset him more than the thought of sharing space with someone who inconvenienced him. Adrian didn’t inconvenience him. Not in the least. Tate liked having him there. They’d been living in each other’s pockets for two weeks, and by all rights Tate should be climbing the walls—but he wasn’t. He looked forward to coming back to the cabin and having someone there to talk to. The way their scents had mingled in the shared spaces was maddening, but also comforting. For the first time he could remember, the cabin felt cozy and welcoming.

They were on the same page almost across the board—when they liked to eat, what they did in their free time, balancing quiet time with time spent hanging out. Adrian had slipped into Tate’s daily routine seamlessly. He was the ideal roommate, which should have been a good thing.

It wasn’t. Not by a long shot. Because along with the inside jokes and comfortable companionship came smoldering looks and flirty banter that made Tate’s inner wolf sing—and the rest of him shy away.

“Tell me again how it annoys you that he puts the cap back on the toothpaste,” Kenya drawled, and Tate scowled at her from his place on the floor.

“Don’t make it sound childish,” he snapped, aware he was being incredibly juvenile even as he said it.

“It sounds to me like you’re just looking for reasons the two of you aren’t a good match,” she said, and he threw the balled-up sock he had in one hand at her.

She caught it deftly, unfurled it, and examined it. “I was looking for that one!” she said triumphantly, matching it to one in her basket and folding them together.

“Remind me again why I agreed to help you fold your laundry?” Tate asked as he sought out more socks from the pile.

“Because you’re having an existential crisis, and I told you I couldn’t counsel you officially because the existential crisis is about one of my patients?”

Tate threw the unmatched socks back on the pile and lay back down, spreading out on her carpet. “It’s not an existential crisis.”

“It isn’t,” she agreed. “It’s not a crisis at all. It’s a good thing, and you don’t know how to deal with that. You, Tate Lewis, actually don’t know a good thing when it bites you in the ass, and that’s partly my fault. I should have made you go out and do more things before you installed yourself here as the camp hermit.”

He rolled up to his side and glared at her. “I am not the camp hermit.”

“You never leave the grounds. That makes this your hermitage.” She frowned. “Is that a word? Hermitude? No, that would be your hermit-y attitude. Hermitage, I’m sticking with that. We’ll get you a plaque made to put outside your cabin. Tate’s Hermitage.”

He groaned and rubbed his hands over his face. “And you can’t make me do anything, anyway. I’m my own man.”

“Sure you are, sugar,” she said sweetly. He didn’t doubt that if they’d been close enough, she would have patted his hand. “So be your own man on this and man up and make a move!”

Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker

About the Author

Bru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Moonmates exist, but getting together is going to be a beast….

When Adrian Rothschild skipped his “werewolf puberty,” he assumed he was, somehow, human. But he was wrong, and he’s about to go through his Turn with a country between him and his Pack—scared, alone, and eight years late.

Dr. Tate Lewis’s werewolf supremacist father made his Turn miserable, and now Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L. to ease the transition for young werewolves. He isn’t expecting to offer guidance to a grown man—or find his moonmate in Adrian. Tate doesn’t even believe in the legendary bond; after all, his polygamist father claimed five. But it’s clear Adrian needs him, and if Tate can let his guard down, he might discover he needs Adrian too.

A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But is Adrian up to the challenge?

In Camp H.O.W.L. author Bru Baker gives us a story with so many wonderful new ideas that it kept me thinking of other story possibilities that extended past the ending of this heartwarming tale.  In a neat twist on wolf mates, Baker gives us “moonmates”, an instant bond that’s rare even in this universe.  We get the definition from those who ought to know, watch the progression of their bond, and then learn how the moonmate mythology has affected the couple in their pasts in markedly different ways.

Another terrific element?  That of a camp geared towards teaching werewolf youngsters how to handle the change in every way  possible.  I’m talking how not to use their Snapchat and expose  all of wolfdom to humans as well as werewolf hygiene.  It’s  rampant hormone time.  Brilliant!  Plus the breakdown in types and how that is handled at tables at the camp?  I really wanted to see more of that dynamic too.  Camp H.O.W.L. could absolutely be an endearing, connectible LGBT YA series, full of teens such as the ones  in here in need of support and guidance at the most important time of their lives.  Part of me wanted to see Tate and Adrian stay and continue on at the Camp doing just that.

However, the best part of  Camp H.O.W.L. is the romance between Tate and Adrian.  It’s sweet, mostly angst free, and downright heartwarming.  It will also make you howl for more because this is but the first stage in their lives and it ends just as another is getting started.  I know I wanted to know so much more about how Adrian’s family adjusted to Adrian’s new status and moonmate.  The “chemistry” the author got across between the characters more than made up for any small narrative gaps I felt I saw in the story.  But it  definitely doesn’t stop me from wanting to know what comes next.  And with Tate’s background, an entire book could be written on them and Tate’s new status as well.  See?  More possibilities!

Love werewolves and the mate bond?  Love a new romance with a twist?  Check out Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker.  It’s one I definitely recommend.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson did a terrific job with the cover.  Definitely caught my eye.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 238 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635338003
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingIndiana (United States)

A Lila Audiobook Review: Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

Tall, Dark, and Deported is the perfect example of green card “fake marriages” trope stories. In that aspect, the author met all the expectations, creating an entertaining love story with three-dimensional characters and beautiful settings.

I love the premise of this story and how their first meeting went. The way they take turns taking care of each other is lovely and their relationship with their family members add to their appeal. This is a slow burn, sweet, fluffy goodness story. Perfect if you want something light and engaging without much angst.

I really like Crawford and Mateus individually. They’re nice characters with great depth, and a lot of potential, but have a hard time connecting to each other. The plans they have for their relationship and what they want from each other work, but when they try to put it together there’s no chemistry. It’s like having two good friends trying to make a relationship work. It gets resolved in the end, but it takes time.

In some parts, it reads a CliffsNotes version of a longer book–rushing to achieve an HEA–when the reader wanted the same amount of detail than before. It felt a little superficial, but it has to do more with length restrictions than lack of development. Overall, this isn’t a detrimental to the actual love story.

Dorian Bane’s narration worked for the story. All the characterizations fit well except for Mateus’s. He sounded more Hispanic than Portuguese, but overall, it was enjoyable.

The cover by Bree Archer follows the Dreamspun series and shows Mateus in front of an orchard–fitting for the story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Dorian Bane
Length: 6 hours 30 minutes
Published: June 19, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B071GV8BCT
Edition Language: English

Bru Baker on Writing, Books, and her latest release ‘Tall, Dark, and Deported’ (author interview)

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Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker
Release date: April 1, 2017

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Buy links:

Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Bru Baker here today talking about her latest novel, Tall, Dark, and Deported! Welcome, Bru!

✒︎

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Honestly, I draw a lot more from the people around me than I do myself. It’s not even a conscious thing, but after I’ve formed a character I might realize I’ve incorporated mannerisms, speech patterns, and personality quirks from people I know. I do my best not to base a character on a real person, but there are often bits and pieces of a few people influencing things.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

There’s definitely a line there that we as authors have to skirt. That said, I often use my own experiences in books because I’m able to give a scene more depth if I know how a situation or event feels firsthand. Actually, the entire premise for Tall, Dark, and Deported came about from an experience I had coming home from GRL in 2015. I found myself stranded after my connecting flight home from Chicago was cancelled. The ticket counters were overwhelmed and no flights were available. They offered me a solution that would get me home thirty-six hours later–and Chicago is only a three-hour drive from my home in Indianapolis! So I started talking with two strangers who’d also been scheduled for that flight and we hatched a plan to rent a car and drive. Granted, I just used the experience as a jumping-off point. I certainly didn’t find myself crossing an international border and engaging in a Green card marriage like Mateus and Crawford. (My husband would have something to say about that, I’m sure. *g*)

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I’m a former journalist and I work in the reference department of a library–it’s safe to say I adore research. I have so much respect for authors who can craft a world out of the ether, but I’m not one of them. I tend to blend research with make believe. I’ve driven from Seattle to Vancouver along the road Mateus and Crawford take in Tall, Dark, and Deported, but the hotel they spend is plucked from my imagination. And of course, I’ve taken a lot of liberties with immigration policies.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m a fan of HFN, mostly because I have an overactive imagination and leaving a couple at the HFN give me the chance to fill in the blank for them myself as a reader. As a writer, I don’t like to tie up all the loose ends in a pretty bow because that’s rarely how life works. I want to leave my characters in a place where they’re happy and clearly meant to be together forever but without spelling out every action they’ll take.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I was a horror and classic literature fan as a teenager. My favorite authors in high school were Daphne DuMaurier, Emily Bronte, Robin Cook, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton. It’s an interesting mix. They’re still my go-to comfort reads, especially Rebecca and Wuthering Heights. As an adult I read a broad spectrum of things as part of my job as a librarian, but my favorites at the moment are cozy mysteries and quirky romances.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I know most authors would say they couldn’t choose because they love them all, just like parents are supposed to say that when you ask them which of their children they love the most. But I do have favorites, both among my books and my kids. (I joke, I joke. Most days both kids annoy me equally. No favoritism!) Playing House is hands-down my favorite of the books I’ve written, and I think it’s because it was the hardest to write. Writing is almost always sheer joy for me. I’m pretty sure I smiled maniacally all the way through writing King of the Kitchen, and writing Talk Turkey actually made me laugh out loud. But Playing House came from a very painful place for me–imagining what kind of emotional bonds someone with autism could forge as an adult, and whether or not they could successfully navigate marriage and parenthood. My son is on the spectrum, and there just isn’t a lot of positive representation of people with ASD in books and movies. So Playing House was me challenging myself to write a character who could make the average reader fall in love with a character who is flawed in a way that wasn’t quirky or eccentric, but real. I’ve had readers message me after reading the book and tell me they see themselves or their partners in the main character and that it encouraged them to seek help or a diagnosis, sometimes for the first time ever. And that’s amazing.

What’s next for you as an author?

Right now I’m working on a submission for Dreamspinner Press’s Advent Calendar Anthology. I absolutely love fluffy holiday romance, and I have a really soft spot in my heart for the Advent anthology in particular because it gave me my break into publishing in the 2012 calendar with my short story, Traditions from the Heart. I’m also in edits right now on a release that’s coming out toward the end of the year with Dreamspinner as part of the Dreamspun Beyond line–it’s about werewolves! True to my style, of course, one of them turns out to be a pretty big failure as a werewolf. So big, in face, that he has to go to a camp to learn how to werewolf. Enter hilarity, a little angst, and, of course, romance.

Blurb

Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 236 pages

Tags: Gay; M/M; Dreamspun Desires

About the Author

Bru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Crossing the border into love.

Snap decisions and misguided ideas bring Portuguese national Mateus Fontes and businessman Crawford Hargrave together at the Canadian border crossing.

Mateus is caught in a catch-22. With his almost-expired tourist visa, entrance to Canada is denied, but the US won’t let him back in either. Crawford thinks he’s solved things when he tells the border agent they’re engaged, and it works—except now they have to actually get married before either of them can get back into the United States. But Crawford has been burned by marriage once, and he’s determined not to make that mistake again.

Neither of them expects real feelings to bloom out of their fake marriage, but they do. And the two of them have to learn how to be honest with each other to make things work, which is especially hard when their entire marriage is based on lies.

 

In Tall, Dark, and Deported author Bru Baker takes that old trope of the fake marriage and makes something wonderful and real.  I’ve read countless stories that use this old great workhorse of a theme but few make it past the cute and fluffy.  Which is fine, don’t get me wrong, I adore those stories too.  But I love it when a writer takes it deeper, adds those layers and dimension to their characters, their situation and locations that make me sit up and pay more attention.  That happened here.

It starts with Mateus, his almost expired tourist visa and the vineyard/wine business he and his sibling (and her family) have back in the Northwest.  They’ve suffered setbacks, and now, because he let it slide in face of other issues, he’s got to take care of his visa.  The option he took?  Backfires in the most believable manner possible.  We will all be groaning there with him in full blown panic mode.  In a short amount of time, the author has let us get to know Mateus, find him so real and likable that we need to know he’s  going to be alright.  Then in comes Crawford.

Crawford is another man who’s easily accessible.  His first marriage to someone shallow and callous ended the way you might expect.  Unfortunately he didn’t see it coming and the result is a bitterness towards love and commitment.  But Baker lets us see Crawford as a kind, generous man, a little trampled on but with a big heart.  When these two connect, we want them to be together.

There are so many details here I loved.  One the fact that they could not just easily get married and poof, that was it.  No, there were rules and regulations to be followed.  Suspicions about their marriage on both sides of the border (no quickies marriages, thank you very much) so government agencies were brought in. That dose of reality was wonderful.  Loved Mateus’ family and town as well as the idea of exactly what Crawford did for a living.  It spiced up the story and gave a foundation for both the men and their relationship.

But it was their fumbling towards love and  HEA that made this story.  I believed absolutely in them and their feelings for each other.  The tenderness and the hot attraction, it was all there in the story. Tall, Dark, and Deported by Bru Baker is another wonderful Dreamspun Desire novel you won’t want to miss. I’m so glad I didn’t.  I highly recommend you pick it up and make your acquaintance with Mateus and Crawford today.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  Works for the character but the background is pretty nondescript. Eh.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776844 (ISBN13: 9781634776844)
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingVancouver, British Columbia (Canada)
Washington (United States)