EJ Russell on her new release Mystic Man (a States of Love novella) (guest blog and giveaway)

Standard

Mystic Man by

E.J. Russell
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Links:

Universal Buy Link |  Dreamspinner Press 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have E.J. Russell here today talking about her latest novella and with a special excerpt for all to read.  Welcome, E.J.

 

Many thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for inviting me to stop by today as part of the Mystic Man blog tour! Mystic Man is a contemporary novella set in Connecticut, part of Dreamspinner’s States of Love collection. To celebrate the release, at the end of the tour I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Clickbait (another of my contemporary romantic comedies) to one lucky commenter.

(In this excerpt, Aaron meets Cody’s niece, Kaya, who’s having a very bad day.)

Cody led the way through the hallway into a room with french doors that opened onto a deep lawn. The mellow oak floor and the deep orange walls, warmed further by the sunlight spilling in through a pair of bay windows, reminded Aaron strongly of pumpkin pie. He sniffed experimentally, expecting scents of cinnamon and nutmeg, but instead, the aromas were much stronger. Maybe… curry?

A man and a little girl were sitting on a brown corduroy sofa in front of a fieldstone fireplace, the girl’s feet barely clearing the deep cushions. She had the same brown skin, black hair, and liquid dark eyes as the man next to her, so Aaron made the leap that this must be Cody’s niece and brother-in-law. The man looked rather harried, and the little girl… drooped. She held a booklet, covered in green construction paper and bound with brass brads.

“Hey, Hiran. Kaya. This is Aaron Templeton, the guy I was telling you about. Aaron, my brother-in-law, Hiran Chaudhri, and my niece, Kaya Chaudhri-Brown.”

Hiran stood up and shook Aaron’s offered hand. “Pleased to meet you.”

“My pleasure entirely.”

“Aaron’s a historian.”

Kaya looked up from under her bangs. “I hate history.”

“Kaya!” Hiran’s tone was admonitory but tempered with an obvious kindness.

“It’s okay.” Aaron smiled down at the girl, who was wearing a Dinosaur State Park T-shirt that matched her pink high-tops. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”

Cody dropped down on the sofa next to Kaya. “But you were so excited about it. I seem to remember reading about three hundred and seven internet pages about Amelia Earhart with you last week.”

“That was before,” Kaya said darkly.

Hiran’s pocket beeped, and he pulled out his cell phone. He winced at the screen, then glanced at his daughter, obviously torn between the message and the distressed little girl, who was glaring at her feet, kicking her high-tops together.

The phone rang, and Hiran clutched his hair. “I’m sorry. The entire team is about to melt down. I must—”

Cody shooed him toward the door. “No worries, BIL. We’ve got this.” He gestured to the sofa on the other side of his niece, and Aaron sat down gingerly as Hiran strode out of the room. “What changed your mind, munchkin?”

“I’m not a munchkin, Uncle Cody. They wear stupid shoes.” She punctuated her words with a double kick of the pink high-tops.

“Sorry, munchkin.”

“Uncle Cody!”

Aaron wondered what Cody was up to until he noticed that Kaya’s sadness had morphed into indignation. Ah. Redirection. Apparently Cody wasn’t afraid to take one for the team.

Cody leaned into the cushions and dropped an arm across the sofa back, behind Kaya. His fingers brushed Aaron’s shoulder, prompting an involuntary shiver.

He tapped the little booklet in Kaya’s lap. “Why don’t you tell us what the problem is? You wouldn’t let me see the final project at dinner the other night.”

“That’s because it wasn’t done.”

“Well, it’s done now. Can we see it?”

She clutched the booklet to her chest. “No. Ms. Jenkins said it was wrong.”

Aaron didn’t miss the flash of anger in Cody’s eyes—and he didn’t blame him. For a child Kaya’s age, just starting her long academic slog, discouragement from a teacher could be crushing. The same thing had happened to Aaron when he was in first grade. Those kinds of scars stayed with you. Although he had to admit that Kaya seemed like a kid who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Aaron cleared his throat. “Kaya, Cody told you that I’m a historian, but I’m a librarian too. I love all kinds of books. Won’t you show me yours?”

She tilted her head and gazed up at him, her huge brown eyes narrowed with suspicion. “A liberrian? Really?”

“Mmm-hmmm.”

“Well. Okay, then.” She took a deep breath, her narrow shoulders rising and falling, then opened the report almost reverently. Aaron felt a spike of his own anger. Clearly she’d been proud of this. It mattered to her, but her teacher had shot her down.

The first page had “Amelia Earhart” written in the shaky block letters of someone still practicing penmanship. The second page had a crayon rendering of a figure in a 1930s flight helmet. Although it was representational as only children’s art could be, it was still recognizable as a female pilot.

“Amelia Earhart was born in Kansas. She liked basketball and cars. But her favorite thing was airplanes.” Kaya turned the page to another picture of Earhart standing next to a bright yellow plane. “She called her very first plane the Canary because it was yellow like a canary.”

“Really?” Aaron asked. “I didn’t know that.”

“Uh-huh.” She turned the next page, which featured a plane dangerously close to very choppy bright blue water. “She did lots of things first. She was the first girl to fly across the Atlantic Ocean by herself.” On the next page, the plane was aloft over a cornfield. “The first girl to fly across America by herself without stopping.” Another page, this time with Earhart standing next to a woman in a grass skirt. “The first person, boy or girl, to fly from Hawaii to the rest of America. Then she decided she would fly around the world.”

Aaron braced himself for what was coming next—the disappearance of Earhart and her copilot in the middle of the Pacific. But when she turned the page, the picture was of Earhart with a… kangaroo?

“And then she visited Australia.”

“Um….”

Cody caught Aaron’s gaze and shook his head. “What next?”

Kaya turned the page, revealing an obvious parade between tall buildings. “And when she got to New York, they gave her a parade.” But Kaya wasn’t done—there were still more pages to go. The next one showed Earhart—still in her flight helmet—next to a tree with exuberant green leaves and dozens of red dots. “Then she went to Bishop’s and picked apples with her family.”

The next page showed Earhart in a rocking chair surrounded by a crowd of smaller figures with skin tones ranging from Earhart’s peach to a brown slightly darker than Kaya’s, all wearing pink high-tops and their own flight helmets. “And she had seven daughters and seven times seven granddaughters, and they all flew planes too. The end.”

Cody tugged gently on the heavy braid that lay on Kaya’s shoulder. “That’s kind of a big family, don’t you think?”

“No.” Kaya closed the report and hugged it to her chest again. “History doesn’t have enough girls in it. It should have more.”

Aaron met Cody’s gaze over Kaya’s head and quirked an eyebrow. “You know, she’s got a point.”

 

Mystic Man

A States of Love Novella

When a series of personal crises prompt risk-averse research librarian Aaron Templeton to apply for a job on the other side of the country, nobody is more surprised than he is. He nearly runs home before the final interview except for one little problem: he has no home anymore. He put his condo on the market before he left California and it’s already sold. Only an encounter with free-spirited Connecticut native Cody Brown at the Mystic Seaport Museum staves off Aaron’s incipient panic attack.

Cody loves nothing better than introducing newcomers to the great features of his beloved home state, and when the newbie in question is a rumpled professorial type with the saddest blue eyes on the planet? Score! The attraction between the two men deepens as they explore Cody’s favorite spots, but when difficulties arise and Aaron’s insecurities threaten to overwhelm him, will Cody’s love be enough to keep him in Mystic?

Buy links:

Amazon:

Universal: http://books2read.com/mystic-man?affiliate=off

Dreamspinner: http://bit.ly/mystic-man

About the Author

E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings. 

Reality? Eh, not so much.

She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, C.H. also loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and Satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).

E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Website: http://ejrussell.com

Newsletter: http://ejrussell.com/newsletter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ej_russell

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ej_russell_author/

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/ej_russell

Bookbub author page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/e-j-russell

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ej_russell

DSP Dreamspun Promo E.J. Russell on Nudging Fate (Enchanted Occasions #1) by E.J. Russell

Standard

Nudging Fate (Enchanted Occasions #1) by E.J. Russell
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Aaron Anderson

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have E.J. Russell here today on her blog tour for Nudging Fate. Welcome, E.J.!

♦︎

 

Thanks so much to the lovely folks at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for inviting me over as part of the Nudging Fate blog tour, and giving me a few interview questions! Nudging Fate is my first full-length novel with Dreamspinner, and it’s another of my “paranormal romantic comedies.” To celebrate the release, at the end of the tour I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Cutie and the Beast (another paranormal romantic comedy) to one lucky commenter.

Let’s get started!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

There’s always going to be something of myself in all of my main characters, even if it’s just a tiny reaction to some object or event—primarily because my own feelings and experiences are most familiar to me and therefore available to draw on.

For instance, Andy in Nudging Fate is a wizard when it comes to organization and logistics. I don’t claim to be quite as good at it as he is, but I’ve had my moments. My twin sons are professional dancers now, but when they were still in school, they studied at a local dance studio. When I say “local,” I’m speaking relatively: we live in the middle of nowhere and it takes us an hour to get anywhere.

At one point, before the boys could drive, they had class seven days a week. I had a full-time day job (although I was lucky enough to work remotely), so I’d work at home until it was almost time to pick them up from school. Then I’d throw as much snack food as I could find into a bag, pack up my computer, and go collect them. They’d consume all the food during our commute to the studio. After I dropped them off, I’d take my computer and hang out at the library or (after a Starbucks opened next to the studio) at the coffee shop and work until their classes ended and we could drag ourselves home again.

And it wasn’t only time I had to manage. My sons (especially DS B) were impossible when it came to keeping track of their possessions. I don’t think DS B ever kept a new jacket past the first month of the new school year. I can’t count the number of times we got back from a dance competition or convention missing at least one dance shoe (although that was better than showing up at the competition without the shoe—which also happened.) I recall one competition where each of them was performing in seven different routines—that meant seven costumes. Each. By the magic of addition, we know that makes fourteen costumes I had to inventory. Plus props. And hats. In hat boxes.

But on the plus side, unlike Andy, I never had to manage a goblin berserker (although if the food supplies weren’t up to the boys’ standards or requirements, it could be difficult to tell the difference!).

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

Absolutely! When I was about eight or nine, while staying with my paternal grandparents in a small town in rural Illinois, I read a book called Horace by Elizabeth Urquhart. It was the first British children’s book I’d read, and the first urban fantasy. Yes, it really was an urban fantasy! On the way to the greengrocer to buy mushrooms, a girl meets a baby dragon standing on the side of a bridge. She helps him get home and he invites her to tea. Adventures ensue.

I was enchanted.

I’ve written about that experience before (check it out here, if you’re interested: http://ejrussell.com/the-life-changing-book/), because reading it really did change my life. Can I admit that I’ve lived in breathless anticipation of being invited to tea by a dragon ever since?

And you want to know the coolest thing? Several years after I wrote that post, Elizabeth Urquhart herself (although her name is now a lot easier to spell) actually commented on it!

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I can deal with either one, but any book I read must have one or the other! I won’t read or watch anything these days that I can tell won’t end well. I need that guarantee. For instance, my Curmudgeonly Husband tried to get me to watch Breaking Bad, but I steadfastly said, “Nope. No way will that ever end well.”

That being said, I can only be completely satisfied with HFN (particularly if it’s a series with the same main characters over multiple books) if I know that HEA will show up eventually.

One of my favorite examples of total HEA crack is in Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. She includes an epilogue that basically tells the future of all the main characters! It’s an HEA dream come true!

What’s next for you as an author?

I’ve got a contemporary novella called Mystic Man, part of the Dreamspinner States of Love collection, releasing next month. The state in question is Connecticut, where my Curmudgeonly Husband was born and raised and where I went to graduate school. I had a great time writing it, because it let me revisit so many of my memories of discovering Connecticut back in the day.

I’ve contracted the second book in the Enchanted Occasions series with Dreamspinner. It’s called Devouring Flame, and features Smith, the EO tech demon, and maybe someone else you’ll meet in Nudging Fate! It’s scheduled for release in December or January.

I’m working on another trilogy in the same universe as my Fae Out of Water series. It’s centered around a supe matchmaking agency called Supernatural Selection, and the first book (Single White Incubus) is currently in line edits and scheduled for October release.

I’ll also be self-publishing the novella, featuring an asexual magician and a genderqueer cyborg, that was part of the now out-of-print Magic and Mayhem anthology benefiting Gay Romance Northwest/Read with Pride Northwest. It was originally titled simply Sun, Moon, and Stars, but I’m planning another three novellas in the same universe, so this one is now called Partnership. Look for it in September—once I figure out how this self-publishing thing works!

 

 

 

Nudging Fate

An Enchanted Occasions Story

Not exactly a match made in Valhalla.

Half-norn event planner Anders Skuldsson is under strict orders from Asgard not to meddle with Fate. But with Enchanted Occasions’ latest booking—a competition for the hand of Faerie’s one true prince—crashing around his ears, it’s really difficult to toe that particular line. But if Andy pretends to be a contender for the prince…. It’s only temporary, so Odin can’t blame him. Right?

Conall of Odstone’s half-brother, Prince Reyner, was supposed to choose a mate before being crowned and wed. But the idiot left Con to impersonate him. Again.

When Con meets Andy, his anger turns to desire… and despair. Even if Andy forgives him for his imposture, how could someone eligible for a prince’s hand settle for the court outcast? And the double-deception isn’t their only obstacle. Unless Andy makes the right choice, their fates could be sealed by…well… Fate.

Buy links:

Amazon: http://mybook.to/nudging-fate

Universal: http://books2read.com/nudging-fate

Dreamspinner: http://bit.ly/ds-nudging-fate

About the Author

E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings. 

Reality? Eh, not so much.

She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, C.H. also loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and Satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).

E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Website: http://ejrussell.com

Newsletter: http://ejrussell.com/newsletter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ej_russell

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ej_russell_author/

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/ej_russell

Bookbub author page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/e-j-russell

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ej_russell

A Caryn Release Day Review: Nudging Fate (Enchanted Occasions #1) by E.J. Russell

Standard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

We all nudge Fate every day, with every choice we make.

I just love this author when she’s being playful!  Those who loved Cutie and the Beast will also love this book.  It is not explicitly in the same universe, but still involves beings from various mythologies (the MC in this one is Norse) who are interacting with the morally ambiguous and manipulative world of the Fae, as well as mundane Earth.  This book is set primarily in the Interstices, “the pockets in reality where … magic from all supernatural realms could coexist”.  In addition to the Fae, this book has an eclectic mix of supernatural beings from just about every folklore and tradition that I can think of, cleverly integrated into a cohesive whole.  It was only as I was writing this review that I realized how very clever the author was in taking such complexity and making it seem effortless!

I will save you the trouble of looking up the norn (which I just had to do because I didn’t want to wait for the author’s specific explanation).  In Norse mythology there are three divine female beings who influence the destinies of gods and men (roughly corresponding to the Greek Fates), Norns with a capital N, and then there are other norns of lesser strength and influence.  Anders Skuldsson is one of these – half human son of one of the big three, which makes him outcast for being a half-breed, but also mistrusted because when you are around him, how to you know that he didn’t just make things happen according to his will?  Despite his questionable status, he’s a good guy just trying to do the right thing and earn a little respect.  He’s the Senior Event Coordinator of Enchanted Occasions Event Planning, and has been chosen by no less than the Fae Queen herself to be in charge of her son Prince Reynard’s ceremony to choose and bond with a consort.  This job is not only his greatest challenge so far, it is also a make or break event for Enchanted Occasions and his employees – all of whom are half-human and looked down on by most of the Pure bloods of the other supernatural races.  Anders has a lot to prove with this gig.

Prince Reynard, on the other hand, has no desire to participate in this Faerie version of “The Bachelor” and get hooked permanently to some suitable consort chosen by his mother.  He’s all about a life of freedom and promiscuity.  His half brother Conall of Odstone – bastard result of the Faerie Queen’s own consort’s infidelity centuries ago – has been blessed/cursed with the gift of responsibility:  he does what’s right, even when it’s difficult or inconvenient.  Rey is used to exploiting this trait, and Con has ended up impersonating Rey multiple times over the years for any events that Rey finds boring, or onerous, and Con once again found himself uncomfortably forced into a predicament that unfortunately has much higher stakes than he’s ever faced before.

Through a comedy of errors and missteps, these two unlikely men end up thrust together – while each impersonating someone else – and find that they really like each other, and their chemistry is off the charts.  But they are both basically men of truth and integrity, both responsible for others and wanting to do the best by them, and how can anything real and true come from such deception?

I laughed out loud at the antics of the MC’s, and at the ridiculous situations they ended up in despite the best of intentions.  The secondary characters – Talus, man of iron, arbiter and dispenser of justice for Faerie, and solid supporter of Con; Brooke and Smith, the other half-breeds who work with Andy who are brilliant at creating the perfect worlds in the Interstices; the other characters that are pure comic relief like the goblin chef who creates the most incredible and delicate food but goes into a rage when people don’t appreciate it – were just pure genius.  The Interstices themselves were an incredible and subtle weave of magic from different worlds combined with the best of Earth.  And the plot, while superficially a romp of increasingly ridiculous circumstances, was really a story of integrity and kindness overcoming manipulation and selfishness.  It’s a romantic comedy with a moral, in the style of a fairy tale, but so much more fun.  I can’t wait for the next book, and there were definitely some clues dropped about who might star in the next one…

Cover art by Aaron Anderson actually detracts from the book.  The story is otherwordly, beautiful, and magic, and this cover is downright boring…

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: May 15th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640805064
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEnchanted Occasions #1

A Caryn Review: Tested in Fire (Art Medium #2) by EJ Russell

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is book two in the Art Medium series.  In book one, The Artist’s Touch, Stefan Cobbe was possessed by the ghost Giacomo “Jeremiah” Arcoletti, but Luke Morganstern was able to rescue him, though Luke was seriously injured in the process.  In this installment, they’ve moved to Sarasota, Florida, where Luke’s art investigation company is based, and Stefan found a studio and is back to painting.  Life seems good.

Although the two men are committed to each other, Stefan is still struggling with the debt he incurred years ago by allowing himself to be completely dependent upon a boyfriend, and this time around, he wants to be able to stand on his own.  Luke just wants Stefan to be by his side, and doesn’t understand why Stefan won’t move in with him.  They can’t seem to get past this impasse, and and things only get worse when Luke is unexpectedly detained in Italy following up on a commission.  When he comes home, they have a fight, and then…

At first I wondered how these two men could be so unlucky as to run across the supernatural – and the evil side of it at that – twice in such quick succession, especially when they are now on the opposite side of the country.  Well, turns out it is more than just bad luck, and I will leave that comment as a teaser for you to learn about when you read the book!  Once again, spirits from the past are interfering in Stefan’s and Luke’s lives, and once again they have to rely on their connection with each other, and their love, in order to make it through alive.

I thought this was a wonderful continuation of the series, because the depth of Luke and Stefan’s love for each other was seriously challenged, and they truly rose to face it.  There was no hesitation in their defense of each other, and this time Stefan was the one to come to the rescue.  A good thing for both of them to realize how strong Stefan truly is, and how able to stand on his own, but unfortunately quite a blow to Luke who is left confused and ashamed by what has happened to him.

I am assuming that there will be at least a third book in the series at some point in the future (and hopefully more, I really love this couple!), but I think there will be a bit of a hiatus while things in the publishing world shake out.  However it happens, I will be eagerly looking forward to it!

Cover art by L.C. Chase is even better than the first book.  I like Luke’s (Giacomo’s?) expression as he holds the mask…

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing

Book Details:

ebook, 192 pages
Published April 2nd 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published March 31st 2018)
Original TitleTested in Fire
ISBN 1626497575 (ISBN13: 9781626497573)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesArt Medium #2

A Caryn Review: The Artist’s Touch (Art Medium #1) by E.J. Russell

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Do you like ghost stories?  Do you like creepy ghost stories?  I have to say I didn’t think I did, but this book (and maybe the others to follow in the series) changed my mind.  The review, though, was kind of hard to write without giving significant spoilers, and although as you read you can guess what’s going to happen on the next page, I couldn’t predict the outcome from the beginning.  You can read this book in one evening, so just sit back and enjoy….

Luke Morganstern is an art fraud investigator who had been at the top of his field until one big mistake, and he’s been struggling ever since.  He can’t afford to turn down a job anyway, but when a mysterious client contacts him about a possible forgery, he can’t resist when he finds out the artist being imitated.

Jeremiah Arcoletti.  He was a rising star of the American realism movement, until he disappeared without a trace, taking with him his last 13 paintings.  Paintings that he meticulously described in letters to friends, but were never seen.  Paintings that Luke has been able to picture in his mind after studying Arcoletti for so long.  Paintings that were inexplicably starting to turn up in a remote gallery in Oregon.

Stefan Cobbe is an artist with a very promising start to his career, until a tragedy destroyed his paintings and left him with literally only the clothes on his back.  Worse, he found he was completely unable to produce any art at all.  Homeless and destitute, he was taken in by a man who provided him with room, board, art supplies, and a studio.  And Stefan produced finished canvases, miraculously complete in hours – hours that Stefan had no memory of.

Luke and Stefan have a complicated history together, with guilt and blame on both sides that led to their separation years ago.  Stefan is now the most likely suspect for the forgery, and Luke has to decide what exactly he is going to do about that, especially when Stefan claims innocence.

The pace of the story was constant and the tension just kept building and building, with a few surprise twists, and I couldn’t put the book down until I finished (fortunately it’s not too long!).  Well written, great plot, outstanding characterization with significant growth of both MCs and excellent secondary characters, and throughout a perpetual sense of foreboding.  There are definitely some dark places in this book, and seeing Luke and Stefan struggle to escape those places – some of which were in their own minds – was exciting, and a little scary.

Highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to the next in the series!

Cover art by L.C. Chase is fine, though I’m not quite sure which character the model is supposed to represent…

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

book, 2nd edition, 130 pages
Published February 12th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 23rd 2013)
Original Title Northern Light by E.J. Russell
ISBN13 9781626497580
Edition Language English

Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway for The Artist’s Touch (Art Medium #1) by E.J. Russell

Standard

The Artist’s Touch (Art Medium #1) by E.J. Russell
Riptide Publishing
Cover art: L.C. Chase

Read an excerpt/Buy it Here

Thank you , Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words,  for inviting me to stop by today! Hello, intrepid internet adventurers, and welcome to the blog tour for The Artist’s Touch, the first book in my Art Medium series. After the release of book two, Tested in Fire, in April, I’ll be giving away a $40 Riptide gift card, so please leave a comment for a chance to win.

About The Artist’s Touch

Two men haunted by more than the past.

Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.

Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.

As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.

Publisher’s note: This is a heavily revised and significantly expanded reprint of Northern Light. The second book in the Art Medium series, Tested In Fire, is a first edition. Both are sold together in both ebook and print collections.

Available now from Riptide Publishing!

About the Art Medium Series

Artists use all manner of materials to express their vision, to interpret the world around them, to affect the hearts and minds of their audience.

But what if the artist himself were the medium? And what if artistic inspiration weren’t the only force at work?

If painter Stefan Cobbe and art investigator Luke Morganstern don’t answer those questions fast, they stand to lose their reputations, their relationship—and their lives.

Check out the Art Medium series now!

About E.J. Russell

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

Website: ejrussell.com

Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author

Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ejrussell/

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of both books in the Art Medium series, one lucky winner will receive a $40 Riptide credit! Winner will be pulled from entries to both blog tours. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Contest closes at midnight, Eastern time, on April 7, 2017 and is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following The Artist’s Touch tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Caryn Review: The Artist’s Touch (Art Medium) by E.J. Russell

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Do you like ghost stories?  Do you like creepy ghost stories?  I have to say I didn’t think I did, but this book (and maybe the others to follow in the series) changed my mind.  The review, though, was kind of hard to write without giving significant spoilers, and although as you read you can guess what’s going to happen on the next page, I couldn’t predict the outcome from the beginning.  You can read this book in one evening, so just sit back and enjoy….

Luke Morganstern is an art fraud investigator who had been at the top of his field until one big mistake, and he’s been struggling ever since.  He can’t afford to turn down a job anyway, but when a mysterious client contacts him about a possible forgery, he can’t resist when he finds out the artist being imitated.

Jeremiah Arcoletti.  He was a rising star of the American realism movement, until he disappeared without a trace, taking with him his last 13 paintings.  Paintings that he meticulously described in letters to friends, but were never seen.  Paintings that Luke has been able to picture in his mind after studying Arcoletti for so long.  Paintings that were inexplicably starting to turn up in a remote gallery in Oregon.

Stefan Cobbe is an artist with a very promising start to his career, until a tragedy destroyed his paintings and left him with literally only the clothes on his back.  Worse, he found he was completely unable to produce any art at all.  Homeless and destitute, he was taken in by a man who provided him with room, board, art supplies, and a studio.  And Stefan produced finished canvases, miraculously complete in hours – hours that Stefan had no memory of.

Luke and Stefan have a complicated history together, with guilt and blame on both sides that led to their separation years ago.  Stefan is now the most likely suspect for the forgery, and Luke has to decide what exactly he is going to do about that, especially when Stefan claims innocence.

The pace of the story was constant and the tension just kept building and building, with a few surprise twists, and I couldn’t put the book down until I finished (fortunately it’s not too long!).  Well written, great plot, outstanding characterization with significant growth of both MCs and excellent secondary characters, and throughout a perpetual sense of foreboding.  There are definitely some dark places in this book, and seeing Luke and Stefan struggle to escape those places – some of which were in their own minds – was exciting, and a little scary.

Highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to the next in the series!

Cover art by L.C. Chase is fine, though I’m not quite sure which character the model is supposed to represent…

Sales Link:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon (link to follow0

Book Details:

ebook, 2, 130 pages
Expected publication: February 12th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 23rd 2013)
ISBN139781626497580
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Art Medium

A Caryn Advent Release Day Review: The Probability of Mistletoe (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by E.J. Russell

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this cute holiday story about second chances, and of course I was thrilled to review another of E.J. Russell’s books after reviewing the Fae Out of Water series here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words earlier this year.  I enjoy her characters, who have just the right combination of snarky and sweet…

Keith and Parker were best friends in high school, despite significant differences in personality – Parker was popular, involved in everything, friends with everyone, and Keith was an introverted geek and computer genius who really only had Parker.  At the winter formal senior year, Keith attempted to kiss Parker under the mistletoe, but Parker freaked out and ran.  He later rationalized his actions, thinking that he would have held Keith back from becoming the success that Parker knew he could be.  After graduation, Keith left for Stanford, Parker stayed in Oregon, and though he thought of Keith often and regretted his actions, he allowed lingering embarrassment to keep him from staying in contact, and they drifted apart .

Ten years later, Parker is organizing the class reunion.  He was surprised to get a text from Keith, but happy, and he starts thinking he might be able to make up for that missed opportunity 10 years ago.  Keith also wants Parker, for business as well as personal reasons, but since he never knew the reason behind the missed kiss so long ago, he is very unsure about what will happen.

What follows is a comedy of errors, accidents, and misunderstandings that almost sabotages their reunion.  But when the probability of mistletoe is high, anything can happen…

Very enjoyable Christmas read!

Cover art by Paul Richmond is humorous, cheery, and brands the stocking stuffers for  2017.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 43 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802988
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers

 

A Caryn Review: Bad Boy’s Bard (Fae Out of Water, #3) by E.J. Russell

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Reading this book reminded me a little of my progression reading through J.R.R. Tolkein – The Hobbit’s simple characters give way to The Lord of the Rings darker tone and complex world, and The Silmarillion’s vast scope is tragic, and so detailed and interconnected that it was very hard to read.  For me, that was the end of reading Tolkein!  And of course I am not comparing the Fae Out of Water series to Tolkein, but moving from the romantic comedy of Cutie and the Beast through The Druid Next Door to Bad Boys Bard was also a journey with increasingly complex world building and darker, more tragic characters.  There is nothing of comedy in this book, and the denouement is the fate not just of Faerie, but of all creation.

Gareth is the youngest of the Kendrick brothers, and he is the last true bard.  Where his brothers have been raised to fight with body and sword, Gareth was trained to use the powerful magic of his voice to influence and change people’s behavior.  Gareth’s training came at a much greater price than his brothers’ though – he was apprenticed to an amoral ghost, locked away from Faerie and subjected to the voices of the dead, and when he finished his apprenticeship he came back changed – aloof and unable to connect emotionally to anyone. 

Niall was the one person who was able to get through Gareth’s armor, and awoke passion and happiness in him.  He is human, and though Gareth always believed the races should not mix, he was swept away by his love and desire for Niall.  When Niall was taken by the Unseelie – and killed – Gareth was broken, bitter, and his hatred for anything Unseelie was limitless.  He removed himself completely from Faerie, cut most ties with his brothers, and never felt passion or romantic love for anyone again.

All is not as it seems though, and Niall is not dead.  And not human.  When he is released from hell to attend the Convergence between the Seelie and Unseelie realms, he finds he will have to face Gareth again.  And though he still loves Gareth, coming clean about who he really is, not to mention all of the lies he told, and all of the suffering their affair caused, seems to be an insurmountable task.

I enjoyed the tragic parts of the story, as well as the way both Gareth and Niall were imperfect and had some serious flaws that they had to recognize and address before they could save the world.  My problem with this book, however, was that the world building got so complex that it was incomplete.  Celtic mythology isn’t exactly common knowledge, and in the previous books everything that was introduced was at least explained – I wondered if there originally was more exposition, that was edited out to keep the book at a certain length.  If so, the editing could definitely have been better.  Fortunately this didn’t detract from the story too much, but I had to drop at least one star for it.

Cover art by Lou Harper fits in with the rest of the series, and with this story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published September 18th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleBad Boy’s Bard
ISBN139781626496231
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Fae Out of Water:

In Our Fantasy Spotlight: Bad Boy’s Bard (Fae Out of Water #3) by E.J. Russell (tour and giveaway)

Standard

Bad Boy’s Bard (Fae Out of Water #3) by E.J. Russell
Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Read an Excerpt/Buy it here at Riptide Publishing

 

About Bad Boy’s Bard

As far as rock star Gareth Kendrick, the last true bard in Faerie, is concerned, the only good Unseelie is . . . well . . . there’s no such thing. Two centuries ago, an Unseelie lord abducted Gareth’s human lover, Niall, and Gareth has neither forgotten nor forgiven.

Niall O’Tierney, half-human son of the Unseelie King, had never lost a wager until the day he swore to rid the Seelie court of its bard. That bet cost him everything: his freedom, his family—and his heart. When he’s suddenly face-to-face with Gareth at the ceremony to join the Seelie and Unseelie realms, Niall does the only thing inhumanly possible: he fakes amnesia. Not his finest hour, perhaps, but he never revealed his Unseelie heritage, and to tell the truth now would be to risk Gareth’s revulsion—far harder to bear than two hundred years of imprisonment.

Then a new threat to Gareth’s life arises, and he and Niall stage a mad escape into the Outer World, only to discover the fate of all fae resting on their shoulders. But before they can save the realm, they have to tackle something really tough: mending their own broken relationship.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/bad-boys-bard

About the Fae Out of Water Series

Once upon a time, there were three brothers, nobles of the Seelie Court of Faerie, who set out to seek their fortunes. The eldest—

Scratch that. Rrrrrewind.

Nowadays, when tales are told in 140 character bursts on tiny LED screens, rather than spun out by the glow of a midnight campfire, even Faerie’s elite have to get with the program.

The Kendrick brothers have traded longbow for briefcase, battle steed for Harley, and enchanted harp for electric guitar.  But while they’re finding their feet in the modern world, instead of finding their fortunes, they stumble straight into love.

#faeoutofwater

Check out Fae Out of Water! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/series/fae-out-water

 

About E.J. Russell

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

Website: ejrussell.com

Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author

Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ejrussell/

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of all three books in the Fae Out of Water series, one lucky winner across all three tours will receive a GRAND PRIZE of a $50 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 23, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the Bad Boy’s Bard tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!