An Alisa Audio Review:All the Way to Shore (Stories from the Shore #1) by CJane Elliott and Tim McKiernan (Narrator)

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

 

What happens when a cruise ship romance crashes on the rocky shores of reality?

 

Poor-little-rich-boy Jonathan Vallen is the heir to Vallen Industries, but is more interested in music and gardens. He clashes with new CEO Marco Pellegrini, a self-made man and rising star in business, who is brought in to salvage the company. Jonathan gladly leaves Vallen and moves to Cape Cod. When they meet again on an LGBTQ Caribbean cruise, Marco doesn’t recognize Jonathan, who has spent a year transforming from an ugly duckling into a very sexy swan. After Marco shows interest and sparks fly, Jonathan reluctantly assumes a false identity, egged on by his cousin Anthony. None of them expect a shipboard fling to deepen into true love.

 

Back on land, the romance crashes when Marco discovers his perfect man is not only a lie but the son of his boss, Frederick Vallen. Jonathan resolves to win Marco back, but Frederick takes vengeful action. Jonathan and Marco must battle their own fears as well as Frederick’s challenge to get to the future that awaits them on the horizon.

 

Okay, I am not a huge fan of the blurb (I don’t like when it makes fun of one of the characters) especially since Jonathan was the character I connected most with.  It was great that he was given the opportunity to break free of his father’s company when Marco came, though I’ll admit I did not like Marco what so ever in the beginning.

 

Marco seemed a bit two-faced to me, switching his opinion from one to the other about the company and people.  And I’m not sure what I felt about how different he was away from work (yes that person was perfect for Jonathan) but something rubbed met he wrong way.  Jonathan is adorable and I hated that he felt so inferior because of this father and late brother.  I have to give Jonathan credit for how far he came in the year living away from the company and how Marco made him feel that he could embrace his life fully.  I did think that Jonathan and Marco’s “courting” gifts were adorable.

 

This is my first book narrated by Tim McKiernan and he did a nice job.  I was mostly able to keep track of the story through the voices he used, though the lisp come characters had for their thoughts didn’t agree with me.

 

I liked the cover art and that it had their pendant, which became very important to them.

 

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon 

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 5 hrs 55 min
Published: April 19, 2018
Edition Language: English

Series: Stories from the Shore #1

Love Listening to Your Stories? Join Us for the Audio Tour for All the Way to Shore by CJane Elliott and Tim McKiernan (Narrator) ~ giveaway and excerpt

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Title: All the Way to Shore

Author: CJane Elliott

Narrated by: Tim McKiernan

Publisher: Self-Published

Original Release Date: 11/23/16

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 5 hrs and 55 mins

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

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Synopsis

What happens when a cruise ship romance crashes on the rocky shores of reality?

Poor-little-rich-boy Jonathan Vallen is the heir to Vallen Industries, but is more interested in music and gardens. He clashes with new CEO Marco Pellegrini, a self-made man and rising star in business, who is brought in to salvage the company. Jonathan gladly leaves Vallen and moves to Cape Cod. When they meet again on an LGBTQ Caribbean cruise, Marco doesn’t recognize Jonathan, who has spent a year transforming from an ugly duckling into a very sexy swan. After Marco shows interest and sparks fly, Jonathan reluctantly assumes a false identity, egged on by his cousin Anthony. None of them expect a shipboard fling to deepen into true love.

Back on land, the romance crashes when Marco discovers his perfect man is not only a lie but the son of his boss, Frederick Vallen. Jonathan resolves to win Marco back, but Frederick takes vengeful action. Jonathan and Marco must battle their own fears as well as Frederick’s challenge to get to the future that awaits them on the horizon.

Excerpt

The strains of a steel band mingled in the air with the tantalizing aroma of meat on the grill. Jonathan was thinking about getting something to eat when Anthony suddenly clutched his arm.

“Jonny! Over there!” Anthony practically hissed the words as he jerked his head to the right.

“What?” Jonathan took another sip of his sangria, not too concerned. Anthony got worked up about everything.

“I think that’s Marco Pellegrini!”

He lifted his head and stared in the direction Anthony indicated. A tall, dark-haired man in glasses stood surveying the crowd next to a younger woman bearing a strong resemblance to him. Both were stunningly good-looking. The man’s tousled curls were longer than Jonathan remembered Marco’s being. But when the breeze lifted them from his face, his Roman nose and defined cheekbones were unmistakable. So was the amazing body clad in a tank top and shorts ensemble that managed to combine elegance with sexiness. Damn. It was Marco. “On this cruise? I thought he was engaged or something. And straight.”

“Guess not. I knew that guy was gay!”

“I think you mean bi.” Jonathan’s mouth grew dry as Marco squinted in their direction, and the humiliation of their past encounters rose in his mind. “Oh, damn, damn it, Tony. What’s he doing here?”

He was about to turn and flee to their stateroom when Anthony said, “He’s staring at you, Jonny. I think he likes what he sees. Stop fidgeting! Let’s go over and say hi.”

“Are you kidding?” Jonathan whispered. “I never want to see that guy again. And he for sure doesn’t want to see me!”

“No? Then why’s he walking over here? My God, the man is gorgeous! If you don’t want him, I get him.”

“You—” Jonathan cut himself off because Marco was indeed strolling in their direction, the woman at his side.

Anthony grabbed Jonathan by the arm and all but dragged him closer, then beamed at Marco. “Hello, there!”

While Jonathan tried not to die a thousand deaths, Marco smiled and said, “Hello.” He showed no recognition that he’d ever met Jonathan before. What he did show, shockingly, was a rather blatant interest in him, running his eyes up and down Jonathan’s body before saying, “I’m Marco.” Jonathan had never seen Marco in shorts or a close-fitting tank before and was having a hard time breathing at the sight of his tanned shapely legs and muscled shoulders.

The woman, who had to be his sister or cousin, nodded at them and smiled warmly. “And I’m Sophia. We’re also known as the Pellegrini twins, only we’re not really twins. Just sister and brother.”

Before Jonathan could respond, Anthony jumped in. “Nice to meet you! I’m Andrew Arrington, and this is my cousin, Jonah Rutledge.”

Jonathan felt his mouth drop open. Then he gave a weak smile, still poised to flee, sure that Marco was going to recognize him any moment. “Um, hello. Where are you from?” After they got through this fiasco, he planned to kill his cousin

Purchase at Audible

NOW AVAILABLE on Kindle Unlimited HERE

PURCHASE an Ebook at the preorder price of $1.99 HERE

Meet the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop. Be sure to check out CJane’s new Facebook Group!

Website | eMail | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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Looking for Your Next Holiday Story? Check Out the Book Blitz with Excerpt for Pattern for an Angel by CJane Elliott

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Title: Pattern for an Angel

Author: CJane Elliott

Publisher: CJane Elliott

Release Date: December 1, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/NB

Length: 17,150

Genre: Romance, holiday, single dad, drag queen, contemporary, genderfluid, nonbinary, acceptance, family, angel, Christmas, chosen family, meet cute

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Can an angel gown for a little boy let a single dad and a drag queen stitch together a new pattern for love?

Hospice nurse Gabe Martin is bisexual but doesn’t have time for love—his main priority is raising Ian, his adopted five-year-old son. Ian loves wearing dresses at home and wants an angel gown for his kindergarten holiday pageant. When Gabe visits a sewing store to get help with Ian’s costume, he’s assisted by a bewitching employee named Loren who opens up Gabe’s focused world.

Drag queen Loren Schuster likes playing with gender norms and wearing skirts and dresses in everyday life. A bad breakup killed his interest in serious relationships, but he reconsiders that stance when gorgeous single dad Gabe walks into the shop. Loren helps young Ian see it’s okay to be himself, and together, Loren and Gabe create a new pattern for a family full of love.

Excerpt

Oh well, you win some, you lose some, Loren thought after he rang up her purchase. As he was replacing the purple-blue material on the shelf, the bell to the shop door tinkled. The store had been crazy busy, which was to be expected for the Friday after Thanksgiving. He turned. Now there’s someone I’d love to win.

The guy coming in the door was seriously hot—dark and lanky with a mouth made for kissing. He was being steered along by a gal, but they were enough alike to be siblings. Loren hoped. His mouth twitched at the expression on the guy’s face and his wide eyes. Safe to assume he’d never been in a sewing shop before.

Loren stepped out from behind the counter and remembered that he was wearing one of his favorite skirts when the guy’s gaze dropped. He braced himself for some negative reaction and was floored when the guy smiled happily and nudged his companion. She brightened.

“Oh, you’re perfect,” she exclaimed.

“I am? I mean, of course I am, but why?”

“We’re looking for a way to sew an angel dress for a little boy.”

“Aww. That’s wonderful.” Loren waited for Hot Guy to say something, but his smile was more than enough. “Do you have the pattern?”

“Oh. Yeah.” Hot Guy had a deep voice. Lovely. He got the pattern out of his bag and handed it over.

“Hmm. Yes.” Loren inspected it and nodded sagely. “This seems straightforward enough.”

“It does?” Hot Guy was even hotter with that hopeful expression.

The truth was, Loren was talking out of his ass. Mia was the expert, and this was her store. Loren enjoyed being around the fabrics and different materials, the buttons and the lace, because he loved playing dress up. But you could put what he knew about sewing into one thimble. However, Hot Guy and his girlfriend/partner/sister didn’t need to know that.

“The problem is,” the gal said, “neither of us know fuck-all about sewing. I still can’t believe Ian’s kindergarten expects the parents to sew these costumes. I mean, are we in the 1950s or what?”

“So this is for your little brother?” Loren asked.

“My son,” the guy said.

Huh. He didn’t look old enough to have a kindergarten-aged child. Bummer that Hot Guy was apparently married or whatever. But that was the story of Loren’s life.

Then the gal piped up. “Gabe adopted him last year. He’s a great kid.”

Sounded like they weren’t together if only Gabe adopted this kid. “Great. So you’re Gabe, and you’re…?”

“Nita. We’re sister and brother. Gabe’s a single dad.” Nita cut a significant glance at Gabe, who frowned back. Loren could relate. Sisters always loved to meddle in their siblings’ love lives.

“Hi, Gabe and Nita. I’m Loren. I’m sure we can help you figure out the sewing part. Let’s start with material.” Loren’s favorite. White satin was way more fun than drab paisley.

Ten minutes later, after a delicious wallow in all the permutations of white satin, they had the fabric. Gabe hadn’t offered many opinions about which material but had seemed amused by Loren’s and Nita’s many exclamations.

But when Loren confronted the rest of the pattern instructions, his head spun. Mia was usually here and helped folks with deciphering the patterns. Loren could only guess what some of it meant but did his best to pick out thread and other needed parts and assembled them on the counter.

“Well. This is everything.” Loren hoped. He started to ring up the items.

“Everything but a sewing machine. What do we do about that?” Nita asked.

“You can rent them. This seems a simple enough pattern.” Panic rose in their faces, and Loren quickly added, “Or, better yet, you can hire someone to sew the costume.”

“Could you?” Gabe asked, shooting a sudden intense glance in his direction.

Damn. Of course he could not. But something made Loren say, “Why, I’d love to!”

Life was getting interesting. Even if Loren had to learn to sew. By tomorrow. How hard could it be?

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane is an award-winning author whose sexy, passionate stories explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is bisexual and an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail | Instagram

 

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A Melanie Release Day Review: The Player’s Protégé (Campus Connections #2) by CJane Elliott

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When his friends bet cynical Jerry that he can’t turn sweet Arlo into a player, Jerry might win the bet but lose his heart.

College senior Jerry Helstrom survived a gay childhood in Texas by being fierce and fabulous. At school he’s known as a player and has kept his heart so guarded that he’s forgotten he has one. When his friends bet him he can’t teach inexperienced Arlo Barnes to become a stud like him, Jerry takes on the challenge and quickly finds himself drawn to his enticing trainee.

Arlo kicks butt as a Tae Kwon Do black belt, but his sexual game is lacking. He’s been dumped by his only boyfriend and needs help getting himself out there. Enter Jerry Helstrom, player extraordinaire and happy to provide Arlo with some hands-on coaching. Jerry encourages Arlo to ask for what he wants in sex and in life, something Arlo struggles with. The struggle deepens when Arlo discovers that what he truly wants is the seemingly unattainable Jerry Helstrom.

Jerry can teach Arlo to play the field, but can Arlo teach Jerry to play for keeps?

The Player’s Protégé by CJane Elliott is the second story in the author’s Campus Connections series and another winner in my estimation.  I forget how much great characterizations and story plot this author can cram into a novettle but here again in 93 pages Elliot manages it again.

We have several familiar tropes here, a bet, an almost Pygmalion theme of a makeover with Jerry the jaded, rich player (and the one with the bet) tasked with the makeover of the almost innocent, sweet farmboy Arlo (who is unaware of the bet) into a player like himself.  Almost every reader who has reads romances knows that it”s almost written in stone that the jaded teacher will fall for the pupil.  The fun is seeing how they fall, how the pupil reacts during the teaching sessions and, well, how does the relationship develop and the story end?

The Player’s Protégé works so well  because the characters have so many unsuspecting aspects to their personalities.  Jerry isn’t just a jaded rich playboy, no, he’s a set and costume designer for a children’s theatre, loves his older sister, and deep parental issues and  has the high emotional walls because if it.  And Arlo?  Another heartwarming surprise with a couple of kinks thrown in.  He is such a lovely surprise that I won’t go into him here, just let the reader discover him as Jerry does.

We get to see both young men’s families, for better and worse, so each has a firm foundation to stand on.  Also from the beginning of the story, Arlo and Jerry are surrounded by the couple, Will and Eric as well as Tyrone (from the first story,The Kinsey Scale.  So you get a feel for the universe the author continues to build with each story and couple as they head past graduation and into their future together and possibly as a group in a theatre.

My only complaint that these are terrific characters and I felt the ending could have been a little longer.  I would have been happy fleshing out their resolution and epilogue.  However Im sure I will be seeing more of them in Tyrone’s story next.  I can’t wait.

Campur Connections is a joy of a series, a heartwarming series of contemporary romances.  Pick them all up and enjoy!  I recommend them all , including this one.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  I like the cover, more somber than  would have predicted but it works.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 93 pages
Expected publication: June 7th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07QD1GG65
Edition Language English

SeriesCampus Connections #2

The Kinsey Scale

The Player’s Protégé

A Lucy Release Day Review: The Kinsey Scale (Campus Connections #1) by CJane Elliott

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Life is good for Eric Brown. He’s a senior theater major, an RA for a freshman dorm, and has a great circle of friends. Single since sophomore year, Eric isn’t looking for love. But then Will Butler—fellow senior, co-RA, and the cutest guy Eric’s ever seen—walks into his dorm. Will has a girlfriend he sees off campus—a minor disappointment that becomes a major problem when a housing shortage causes Will and Eric to become roommates, and Eric is forced to witness Will’s hotness day in and day out. For protection, Eric asks Jerry, his ex-boyfriend, to pretend they’re still together. Jerry warns him it’s a stupid idea, but he reluctantly agrees.

Too bad it won’t save Eric from losing his heart.

Will Butler has never believed in himself. His dysfunctional family saw to that. Although Will has loved music since childhood, he’s never seriously considered pursuing it, and the person he’s dating doesn’t encourage him. Then he and Eric Brown become roommates, and everything changes. Eric believes in Will and his talent. He’s also gorgeous and playful and fast becoming Will’s best friend. And that’s not good, because Will is hiding some big things, not only from Eric, but from himself.

This novella (89 pages) does a good job of making me like both Eric and Will.  They are co-RA in a freshman dorm who, by some overcrowding of the college, end up having to room together.  The fact that Eric initially takes Will for a freshman and then has a little meltdown about it, “Uh, don’t take it personally.  I’m a drama queen on my best days” show how laid back Will is.  So it shouldn’t be a hardship for them to share a room, right? 

Together, they make a great RA team and they take it seriously.  They also get to be friends, even as Eric has a crush he hides due to Will having a girlfriend, Jesse, that he visits every weekend.  Will’s Texas drawl, his musical talent and his sense of humor all work together to make Eric fall even more.  In desperation, he calls on his friend and former boyfriend, Jerry, to act as his current boyfriend.  Jerry is a doll and with some bribery, agrees.  I have to say I loved both Jerry and Tyrone and hopefully they will be getting stories as well but I didn’t really see the point of the fake boyfriend being thrown in there.

“Only you could get three flaming queens like me, Jerry and Tyrone to have brunch in a sports bar.”  That’s the power of the likeability of Will.  As they get to know each other more, Eric is fighting his attraction, Will is spending less time with Jesse and more time with Eric, and we have the lovely Jerry there being awesome. Jerry is actually the one who tries to tell Eric that straight or not, Will has a thing for Eric. Which of course Eric doesn’t believe. A discussion about the Kinsey scale turns Eric’s preconceptions around a bit.

Since it is just a novella, there are things I wish had been fleshed out more.  Will’s right-wing, Trump supporting, homophobic, alcohol loving family is mentioned but no real background is given.  I’d loved to have known the why’s of the music vs economics in more detail.  This isn’t insta-love because they take their time becoming friends but I’d loved to have had more.  Just more.  That aside, I liked this one very much and I hope the series continues.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas. The cover was a little off for me.  It shows a shirtless man (Eric?) peeking out what appears to be a shower door as another man (Will?) is studying.  I didn’t get it – Will isn’t overly studious in the book, at least no more than Eric is – and Eric doesn’t flaunt himself throughout.  So was kind of a miss.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 89 pages
Expected publication: November 9th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07HPD6Z82

Series Campus Connections #1

An Ali Audiobook Review: All the Way to Shore (Stories from the Shore #1) by CJane Elliott and Tim McKiernan (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Jonathan Vallen has never felt good enough. A gentle musician who loves to garden, he’s woefully unsuited to running Vallen Industries, the family business. When his father hires a hotshot executive, Marco Pellegrini, to save the company, Jonathan moves away and leaves his humiliation behind. A year later and forty pounds lighter, Jonathan runs into Marco on an LGBT cruise. Marco doesn’t recognize him, the sparks fly, and Jonathan pretends to be someone else for the week—Jonah Rutledge—someone good enough to be loved.

Marco Pellegrini has always been driven. He rose from poverty to the pinnacle of business success, and he’ll do anything to protect his reputation—including hiding his bisexuality. Having saved Vallen Industries, he’s weary of the rat race and ready for a more meaningful life. When Marco meets his soul mate for that new life—Jonah Rutledge—on an LGBT cruise, he prepares to stop hiding and start living.

Back on land, the romance crashes when Marco discovers his perfect man is not only a lie but the son of his boss, Frederick Vallen. Jonathan resolves to win Marco back, but Frederick takes vengeful action. Jonathan and Marco must battle their own fears as well as Frederick’s challenge to get to the future that awaits them on the horizon.

This was a fun and enjoyable story.  The blurb does a good job of explaining the plot.  The romance is well done and I enjoyed both of the main characters.  They’re a bit flawed but still good guys.  They each have a quirky side character which I also thought added to the story.
The story was narrated by Tim McKeirnan and I thought he did a good job on it.  I enjoyed the way he did both of the main characters as well as the side characters.  I thought the narration added to the overall story.  I had not listened to this narrator before but will definitely try him again.
Overall this was an entertaining audiobook.  The plot was fun and sweet and had really likable characters and the narration was also good.  It’s relatively short and would make  for a great summer pool side listen.
 
The cover was done by L.C. Chase and I think it was well done.  It fits the characters and the overall plot well.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio
Published April 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published November 23rd 2016)
Original TitleAll the Way to Shore
ASINB07CGQG495
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStories from the Shore #1

CJane Elliott on Writing, HEA, and her latest release, The Wild and Precious Collection (author interview)

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The Wild and Precious Collection by CJane Elliott
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art by Angsty G

Publication Date: February 2, 2018

Buy links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host CJane Elliott here today on tour with her  Wild and Precious Collection!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with CJane Elliott

  • How much of yourself goes into a character? 

It varies. I’d say my New Adult novels had a lot of me in some of the characters. They’re set at the university I attended and I used some of my experiences – parents getting divorced, being hit on by a professor, as well as the general tone of that particular university (hard-partying, traditional) – to inform the plots.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I always liked contemporary stories, which is probably why I’ve never strayed far from contemporary as a genre.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I have found it hard to write certain stories, such as Aidan’s Journey which deals with abuse and depression. It took a long time to write, continues to be the longest of my books, and I was never happier to get to the happy ending.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer HEA to HFN. That’s what romance is all about! After I put my characters through hell or at least profound stupidity about what’s keeping them from love, I want them to be able to savor their hard-won happy ending!

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

My publisher (Dreamspinner Press) has an Art Department. When the book is contracted, they send me a questionnaire about the story, the characters, and cover style preferences. Once the artist has come up with a first draft cover, we go back and forth until I’m happy with it.

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

Wild and Precious, the first novella in the Wild and Precious Collection, has always been one of my favorite stories. I love the characters, the Washington, D.C. area setting, the changing of the seasons, the way the MC Brent has to go after what he really wants. I absolutely have a huge crush on Graham, Brent’s glamorous but kind-hearted boss. And I love Cody so much he got to be in all three of the Wild and Precious novellas.

THE WILD AND PRECIOUS COLLECTION

A Wild and Precious Anthology

If you knew you had one wild and precious life, would you jump in and live it fully?

This band of lively characters isn’t afraid to take a chance on themselves or their dreams. Creativity runs through their veins—they’re writers, poets, singers, guitarists, and even beautiful drag queens. Some are young and just beginning to find themselves. Others have lived through tragedies. Each one discovers that living a wild and precious life means opening up to love and taking a risk to find their happy ending.

Wild and Precious Series – read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words reviews~ links to the titles.  We highly recommend the series!

Wild and Precious

There You Are

Sand-Man’s Family

About the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.

E-mail: cjaneelliott@gmail.com

Website: http://www.cjaneelliott.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJaneElliott

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cjane.elliott

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/CJane-Elliott/e/B00LPIJDM2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/cjane-elliott-124

A Caryn Advent Release Day Review: A Holiday Crush by CJane Elliott

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This story was very much what I’ve come to enjoy about CJane Elliot’s work.  There is angst, but it’s believable, the characters are appealing guys that I’d love to meet myself, they exist in a world complete with good friends who are essential to the story, and they have real jobs and real world concerns.  I like this type of contemporary so much better than billionaires and spies…

Brad is in his early 40s, and has been feeling for some time that his life doesn’t really have much meaning or direction, and he feels a “pervasive sense of weariness”.  He is a successful lawyer, but winning the big cases doesn’t bring him joy anymore, and certainly doesn’t make him feel that he is making a difference in the world.  As Christmas comes around, he is reminded again that he doesn’t have the partner he had hoped and planned for at this time of his life when he was young.

Michael had done some videography of Brad’s depositions, and though he is just Brad’s type, Brad didn’t pursue anything because the case was ongoing, and because Michael seems very young, and Brad doesn’t feel right with that type of age gap.  Fortunately for Brad, Michael is persistent, so when the case is over, he asks Brad out.  Brad surprises himself by accepting, and is introduced to Michael’s world of unconventional, bohemian friends.  Michael is outgoing, impulsive, and wears his heart on his sleeve, and he admires Brad in many ways from their time with the case, but then they also find they both share a love of music and singing.  Music is a part of Brad that he’s put aside to fit in with the other lawyers in the firm, and finding someone to share it with, especially someone like Michael who is so joyful, is a revelation.  Despite his misgivings about the age gap, Brad is utterly charmed, and starts finding ways to spend time with Michael.

The angst comes in when Michael’s friends start questioning what he hopes to get out of this relationship, and whether he is even serious about it.  Michael LOVES the holiday season, and despite his friends’ blasé attitude, he celebrates with gusto.  And that always includes falling in love, because isn’t that a thing to do at Christmas?  His friends think this is just Michael’s usual holiday crush, and they are persuasive enough that he starts to doubt himself as well.

So this is a story of how two very likeable guys learn to step outside their comfort zones, and find not only love, but new meaning in life.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story!  One warning though – this is a very politically slanted book.  And though I might agree with the politics to an extent, I’m not sure that I really wanted to read about them in my spare time.  What started out as introducing a liberal alternative to Brad’s life turned into a full on diatribe against the presidency, the congress, and Republicans in general, and the ranting was really turning me off.  I took off half a star for that, but decided that fortunately, the rest of the story was good enough that I could just skip over those parts…

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  The Cover is the series cover, cute and cheery but not really relating to the individual stories.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803121
Edition Language English

A Caryn Release Day Review: In Over Our Heads (Stories from the Shore #2) by CJane Elliott

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Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I really, really expected to like this book, having enjoyed the first in the series, All the Way to Shore, and because I like this author.  Ugh, I hate to be disappointed.

I feel like this book had most of the tropes that are totally overdone, ineffective, and ultimately turn me off.  It was evident from the very beginning, and never got any better.

Anthony Vallen is the fabulous, campy cousin who was introduced in book one.  He’s been all about casual hookups, and though he believes in fairy tale endings for others, he has been avoiding getting emotionally involved since his first love – in highschool at age 17!!! – broke his heart.  OK, that’s annoying trope number one.  He’s now on the cusp of 30, and is going on a vacation in Key West with Marco and Jonathan and Sophia from the first book.  Marco and Jonathan are disgustingly sweet together – which was not how they are portrayed in the other book – and Anthony is feeling jealous of a relationship for the first time in his life.

The first night in Key West they go to a bar, and lo and behold, there is Walter Elkins, the boy who ran away from Anthony just after high school graduation and ruined him for any other man.  And not only does he own the bar, he is also the owner of the scuba diving business where they’ve booked their trips.  So there is no way they can really avoid each other.

The background is that Anthony almost drowned while swimming with Walter the summer after graduation, and that’s when Walter left him, with the words “I’m not good for you…I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”  And that would be annoying trope number two, especially when the excuse was so flimsy.  Yeah, yeah, turns out there was a traumatic event in Walter’s past (of course), but I was not convinced.  And when he goes on to continue to use that same excuse (with other misplaced responsibility issues) to avoid Anthony in Key West,  it just irritated me more.  Walter is supposedly a very successful businessman, who reinvented himself after he abandoned an equally successful career as a chemist, who used to be pathologically shy but is now friendly with and supported by all of the locals, and I just couldn’t reconcile that with a man who was so deeply insecure about Anthony.  To give her credit, the author tried to sell it, but I just wasn’t buying.  Anthony was only marginally better at communicating.

To top it all off, both men then go into TSTL (too stupid to live) mode when a hurricane strikes.  I may be a little more picky than average about that, since I live in Florida we know hurricanes, but going outside when winds are at peak is ridiculous.  If someone needed to be injured to move the plot along, that was not the way to do it – and to make it worse, several of the locals were happy to brave the winds along with them.  Just, no.  Annoying trope number three.

So this book was almost a total fail for me.  Anthony was childish and annoying, Walter was pathetic, and I didn’t like either one of them.  I didn’t really care if they got together or not.  I was happy to revisit Marco, Jonathan, and Sophia, and I did enjoy the new character introduced – Miles, pansexual, genderfluid, and likely to be the main character of the next book in the series.  So I will look forward to reading it when it comes out, and that is the only reason I gave this book 2 stars.

Cover art by L. C. Chase is again lovely, the underwater scene is appropriate, but the models – both in expression and looks – didn’t fit the characters as much as I would have liked.

Sales Links:

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 192 pages
Expected publication: October 16th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339819
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStories from the Shore #2

A MelanieM Review: There You Are (Wild and Precious #2) by CJane Elliott

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

There You AreBisexual musician Cody Bellstrom is a free spirit, easygoing and unattached. On a cross-country trip, Cody befriends young Sandy Nixon and gets him safely to Portland and his uncle, Phineas MacDonald. Beautiful Phineas turns Cody’s life upside down, and Cody learns he’s not as unattached as he aspires to be. With the hard-won knowledge of what lies underneath his need to be free, Cody wins a chance at real freedom and true love.

Ever since his longtime lover Allen died, Phineas MacDonald has lived a circumscribed life. He stopped performing as fierce drag queen Phanny Hill and works part-time in a bookstore. Phineas never expected to find love again. But when sexy and caring Cody Bellstrom turns up, Phineas feels his orderly life slipping out of his control. Cody brings him alive again, but now Phineas must find the courage to let go of his grief over Allen and give love a second chance.

“And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” –  Buckaroo Banzai, (and possibly Confucius)

A story whose author has one of my favorite quotes worked into her story’s tapestry has already won me over. Of course it doesn’t hurt that I thought highly of this story’s precursor too.  That would be Wild and Precious where we first met  Cody Bellstrom in Washington, DC, where things didn’t quite work out for him.  Now, he’s looking for a new start and he thinks he’s found it on the opposite coast…Portland to be exact.

In Wild and Precious, it was Mary Oliver’s poem,  ‘The Summer Day’, that wound through that story like a ribbon pulling it all together. In There You Are, its this quote that becomes not just the narrative device that moves through the story but a revelatory element for Cody as well at the end.  Its this special literary touch that really works for me in these two stories that helps elevate them as well.

This is also a story of multiple relationships and of letting go, that painful fact of life we’ve all dealt with.  Phineas must deal with his grief over his loss of Allen (something he hasn’t done), there is the blossoming new relationship with Cody which can’t move forward just yet, a new (fatherly) relationship with with his nephew Sandy and he must learn enough, become alive enough to bring back ‘Phanny Hill’, who has her own fierce inner voice here.  And if that ‘s not enough there is Cody, who has his own issues with the past that he has never looked at and will need to if he isn’t going to start running again and lose what he has always wanted.

I thought CJane Elliot did a remarkable job in getting the family dynamics right, the harsh as well as the tender.  I loved the confusion and support that flowed from Phineas, when the call came that would shake up his life as well as the wonderfully descriptive train ride that Cody and Sandy took west to Portland.

If I had anything I wish I could change, it would be to expand some sections of the story.  This is a huge tale and yet the author crammed it into 101 pages.  The section where Cody talked to the actor?  We needed more of a revelation.  So did the subsequent events.  Still, this is such a wonderful story, that it quite stands on its own.  You don’t need to read the first book to understand Cody and his history.  It serves only as a nice addendum to this story and lovely way to meet the strong lesbian couple who shows up here as Cody’s continued support and sounding board.

Looking for a story with a huge  heart and depth?  This book has enough for one double the length.  There You Are will intelligent, warm hearted and very well written. I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: AngstyG.  I love the cover.  That one model especially works for Cody.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 122 pages
Published December 23rd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634767039 (ISBN13: 9781634767033)
Edition Language English