STRW Author And Series Highlight: J.M. Dabney and her Linked Series

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Author J.M. Dabney

(Twirled World Ink, Brawlers, Executioners, and Trenton Security)

My first introduction to J.M. Dabney was through the story Ghost (Executioners #1) by J.M. Dabney.  It revolved around a young brutalized woman, Harper Sage and Gideon Jane,  an enormous mountain of man transplanted to the small town of Powers, Georgia.  The author was totally unfamiliar to me, but the elements of the blurb called out to me.  The location of a small town in Georgia for personal reasons, and then the haunting character of Harper Sage, an abused transgender woman who in many ways stood in for the local transgender women recently killed in this area.  This was a story that I just couldn’t turn away from.  And from the moment, I entered the J.M. Dabney universe that the location Powers, Georgia is the focal point for, I was both a captured and  committed fan.

Harper Sage was my introduction to J.M. Dabney’s ability to create incredible authentic people who bleed off the page.  The author got under this character’s skin, crawled through her psyche, and let us know what had brought her to this broken emotional state, and how much resiliency she had left in her to allow her to recover to learn to love herself and Gideon.  Dabney brings alive not only Harper’s intensity and yes, delicacy while remaining true to her choices as a transgender woman, but then  she went into the mind and heart of Gideon Jane, a musician in the band Executioners and organic farmer.  At points in this story, the reader feels as emotionally wrecked as the characters, drawn up into their lives and the small town dynamics.

There is violence in a Dabney story.  These people have been subjected to unbelievable abuse, and her characters are often violent, brutal, and borderline psychotic in return.  Their past, their upbringing has made them so, and the author doesn’t shy away from that fact.  Pain, anguish, brutality, it’s all there but it’s also offset by a deep love found by the characters who get their HEA.

So by the end of Ghost, I knew I had found something extraordinary.  J.M Dabney had created not just an incredible love story, but characters so memorable that I can see them and hear them so clearly even now.  Harper and Gideon were also surrounded by characters that resonated with me with the same impact that they had, one of which Joker was the next story in the series.  Joker is another man abused, hardened and brutalized by life.  And my second story by the author.  Into it I dove and found another astonishing tale of heartbreaking abuse, torture, and finally, if not recovery, then the ability to let someone in enough to find love.

From two novels, I then found out that Executioners was the third in a group of connected series.  Be still my heart.  I had a journey to go on!  Back to the beginning series and the original men, couples, and location that started it all, and the series that links the two.  That would be Twirled World Ink (#1), Brawlers (#2), and Executioners (#3).  What an incredible narrative journey it’s been…to see all the characters that have filled the stories, seen their growth, as well as the town’s evolution, and know there’s still more to come. .

I wanted to share my discovery of J.M. Dabney with our readers as well let them in on where this linked series are going.  Welcome, J.M., thanks for agreeing to answer Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words author interview questions.  Your characters and series have me captivated by their gritty tales and small town location,  I know I need to know more.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with J.M. Dabney

Characters.  All or most of the men in your series, from the first Twirled World Ink right up to Joker (so heartbreaking) in Executioners are men who have been abused, violent, hardened by their life experiences, and have expressed little hope in finding love until it happens to them.  Usually someone with a past equally painful.  Why these men?  What started you on writing them?    And was there a special inspiration behind Berzerker, the first? Or any of them actually?

 

To be honest, I like the idea of someone who’s harder to love, those antiheroes/heroines, getting that happily ever after. Finding love in real life or literary form shouldn’t be a color by numbers type thing. It’s like in Japan they have a process of repairing pottery with gold called Kintsugi. I mean, for me I think even the broken can be beautiful. It’s not perfect, but still beautiful. Berzerker came around when I was seriously considering that writing wasn’t for me. The characters I loved weren’t physically or emotionally perfect, so, this big, gruff and hairy guy formed in my head. I said to myself that I was going to write the book. It probably wouldn’t get published, but I wanted to write Zerk’s story. As I was writing Zerk, Trouble popped up, and he was what people would consider the epitome of the romance hero. Tall, blond, and buff, but inside he was broken and I dissected what I thought would be that tragic hero of sorts. To me, they were these amazing men, broken and hardened, sometimes violent, but they needed their other halves. I found the more I typed the more I fell in love with these characters that you wouldn’t typically see in romance. But I’m also a huge believer in body positivity and what better way to show that everyone deserves love then writing these men and women into romance?

 

 

Location:  Powers, Georgia:  Why small town Georgia particularly?  My father is small town Georgia boy  as is that entire side of the family who is spread across the state (Americus, Perry, etc.).  I understand the draw but is there a reason you chose it?

 

Small towns have a colorful history, an eccentricity to them and I’m from Virginia so I typically pick Southern states to base my stories in. As I was writing, I needed a town name and Powers, Georgia it was. I don’t like using real places because I love the challenge of building the world or town from the ground up. I wish the answer was more interesting, but Southern towns and people are where I feel at home. The ones I know best, I guess.

 

The series starts with the Twirled World Ink Tattoo shop.   I think people are fascinated by tattoos. I know I am as well as the artists, the tattooers themselves.  I have tattoos and i know the, at least for me, slow process in deciding what I wanted and who I wanted to do it.  But why start here?  Did you already have the characters in mind as well as the shop?  

 

Tattoo Artists are smart, creative, and unique. In my teens, there was this shop that I went to and one of the guys that worked there we could debate anything and I learned a lot about the history of tattoos in that shop in Edgewater, MD. I have several tattoos including a full sleeve. I always loved the process. It’s almost meditative for me sitting in that chair. So, my guys have bits and pieces of every tattoo artist or biker I’ve met in my almost forty years. I love bars and tattoo shops, so I put not just my passion for body positivity into my stories but these places I felt most at home.

 

Series.  Each series has four books, one for each man.  Has it evolved that way or was that the original plan?

 

I’ve been asked this before, I absolutely love series, short or long, doesn’t matter to me, but four seemed like a nice solid number. A close-knit group with potential for more, but I’m also an impatient reader. So, some of my decision was to keep the series short with as little wait time as possible because as I said I’m an impatient reader.

 

The Future:  Reading backwards has been sort of a literary excavation, its been wonderful to get to the beginning of it all.  But I still wish to look forward as will all our readers.  I know there are at least 2 more books in the Executioners series.  Can you tell us about them and the characters involved?  When can we hope to see them?

 

The Executioners have two more books, King who you see a little of in the course of the series. Unconsciously, I believe I kept him a bit more sequestered for the fact I wanted a bit more mystery with him. Readers see him as a player, but I also highlight his love for his son. It the dichotomy of what allow the readers to see and what is actually happening behind the scenes. Hinting at what is to come, but hopefully surprising them when they finally to read the book. The final Executioners book is Sin & Saint, it’s a menage romance, their man comes in the package of the mature and reserved new Sheriff of Powers, GA. Camden Pelter is strong and dependable, mired down in the challenge of taking over and I gave him the crazy and completely loveable twins. They are exactly what he needs. As for release dates, King should be out later this month and Sin & Saint should be ready for release in December.

 

Will there be more connected series?  Another after Executioners?

 

Yes, there will be another connected series, Trenton Security deals with Linus’s Crew. They’re a bit more hardened, some would say I made their pasts darker, but we’re dealing with men such as Livingston who is severely scarred. Some who grew up and aged out of the foster care system. There’s more action in the Trenton Series and I hope everyone loves them as much as the rest of the guys from Twirled, Brawlers, and Executioners. If people have read the Executioners I start bringing the Trenton guys out of the dark and showing the personalities that my readers will meet in the future.

 

Is there something you would like our readers to know about these men and all these series?  

 

I would just like the readers who take a chance on my books will see a love that transcends physical or emotional perfection. These are just real people. Guys you could meet in your local bar/pub or even just bumping into one of them on the street. They may be scary, you may want to cross the street, but to me these men are the type you’ll want in your corner when life gets hard. I think they are what shows that true love doesn’t have to adhere to a certain package. As I said earlier, even the broken can be beautiful.

 

What’s next for J.M. Dabney?

 

Wow, that’s a hard question, I’m generally a writer of LGBTQ+ Fiction and Romance, but I write across all genres with all pairings including M/F. If anyone ever got their hands on my Work in Progress list they’d think I’m crazier than the characters I create. With the more books that come out they’ll see that I’m all over the place and I hope in the future that I gain more readers who just want to read a great story about a character that might not be your cup of tea, but you love them nonetheless.

J.M. Dabney

Author of LGBTQI Fiction and Romance

www.jmdabneyauthor.com

About the Author

By day, she’s an introverted cook hiding out in her kitchen in the middle of nowhere Ohio, by night and any free time she may have, she is a writer of mainly LGBTQ Fiction and Erotica. Although. she’s equal opportunity when it comes to telling a story, she’ll even write a bit of straight erotic romance when the mood strikes.

She has been writing for years in old notebooks. At the age of eight, she wrote the worst poem in the history of poetry, but it sparked her love for writing. She reads too much and loves to get lost in other worlds and her favorite stories have to include laughter and having the reader doing at least one double take. Thirty-something, forever restless she uses her stories to ground herself, and find her place of peace.

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter: jmdabney_author

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the series to date.  I can’t recommend these men and their stories highly enough.  If you love hurt/comfort, broken men, and extraordinary tales, then discover the world of J.M Dabney and the town of Powers, Georgia.  There’s still so much more to come.

  • Executioners – third series

A MelanieM Review: Scary (Twirled World Ink #3) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Welcome to Twirled World Ink where the crazies run the asylum.

Gene Sheridan earned the appropriate nickname when Legend Gib Phelps employed him at Twirled World Ink—Scary. No one made it out of his old neighborhood without scars both mental and physical. At one time, Scary thought he had a chance that is until his ex-boyfriend discovered slumming with someone like him wasn’t worth his trust fund. No-strings hookups became his go-to when he needed to relieve some tension. Co-owning a bar called Brawlers with his best friend, Tank, made it easy to find a body to use for the night. If not happy he was content with his life, but one man made content seem like such a terrible thing.

Elijah Vaughn worried about everything. His life was put on hold at eighteen when his mostly-absent parents died on one of their many adventures leaving him to raise his six-year-old brother, Brody. He’d never had anything or anyone that was just his. When Brody met a tattoo artist named Trouble, Elijah hadn’t realized how much it would change his life too. He met a huge man named Scary and how the man made him feel terrified him.

Tank Davis lost his voice the night he was attacked and had this throat slit ear-to-ear. It kept him in a world of silence. Silent and intimidating, he scared off more men than he drew to him. His best friend Scary and him made a life for themselves in small town Georgia with their bar Brawlers. Most night everyone could find him working security at the door. Scary called in a favor, and Tank met the one man he couldn’t resist, proper and upstanding Elijah Vaughn.

Can one man accept that there’s not one perfect man for him, but two damaged souls who need him to be whole?

These three men get referred to as the first threesome throughout the second and third series because there is another triad that arrives late in Brawlers.  But the strength of the bonding and relationship you find between Scary, Tank and Elijah here often makes you forget, even later on, that another threesome even exists.

The power of Scary (Twirled World Ink #3) by J.M. Dabney lies in the enormous ability of Dabney to create such vivid, strong, damaged men and then launch them and their lives  directly into our hearts.  Triply so here with Scary because the  dynamics that have to be worked out involve relationships multiple ways.  Scary and Tank have known each other as friends for years, they have shared men separately but when their attraction to Elijah threatens their old arrangements and perhaps more, something needs to change…quickly.  And then it proceeds to change even further into an area neither was aware they wanted or needed between them.

While these old friends are redefining their friendship, Elijah is there in their midst trying to figure out how he has jumped from no boyfriends and commitments to two and a family. Elijah is also working through major life changing issues, not just his romantic ones.  Every element here feels believable and authentic. We get multiple povs, a staggering amount of supporting secondary characters (Twirled World Ink characters and Brawlers characters) none of which are superfluous.  When one man is hurting and confused, you feel it in your heart, when Tank starts to withdraw from his men because of certain events and guilt, you feel every bit of his pain.

That’s due entirely to the superb writing and depth of characterizations you find here.  And with every detail and new additional character (such as Juvie, how I love Juvie, a foster child whose role I won’t reveal) I found I just wanted more. More of Princess, all of the other people that make up this gritty, wonderful world.

There is one couple left in this series. That would be Lucky and Priest in Lucky (Twirled World Ink #4).  Then the wait is on for King, the third book in the Executioners series.  Be here with me for Lucky, that’s next!  For now, I absolutely recommend Scary for everyone who love romance and gritty, hardened men finding their HEA, this one times three.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  That cover is perfection.  First Scary, then Tank, then Elijah.  Each one exactly as I have them pictured in my head.  Gritty, dark perfection.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 196 pages
Published January 17th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
ASIN B01N5B9YX6
Edition Language English
setting Powers, Georgia(United States) 

A MelanieM Review: Trouble (Twirled World Ink #2) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Model perfect Jimmy “Trouble” Carver had never heard the word no. Tattooed, sexy and the quintessential bad boy Trouble had men falling over themselves to get to him. What people didn’t know about him was he was self-conscious even if life was easy for him. He’d started out as an apprentice at Twirled World Ink after college and never looked back. Trouble was exactly where he wanted to be, although there was one speed bump, his crush refused to go out on a date.

Brody Vaughn worked in a dead-end job, barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. He didn’t have much time for anyone other than his five-year-old daughter Mina and besides he’d never quite found a place in this world he fit. Chunky and average, that’s how he felt, except for when Trouble came into the grocery store where he worked. The flirty, gorgeous man asked him out every week with a sexy smile, but Brody had to refuse. It wasn’t as if he wanted to say no, it was just how could he date a man Brody knew he had no business trying to keep.

The Crazies of Twirled World Ink excel at one thing, matchmaking, and they are determined their resident bad boy would get his man. They just had to make sure that neither Trouble or Brody screwed up their plan.

Out of J.M. Dabney’s enormous cast of amazing characters you know there are just some that you latch onto more than others, just a tad more…and you do it immediately.  For some reason, something about them just resonates with you, making you want to hold them closer, want to get to know them better, and yes, see them to their HEA.  Trouble is one of those for me.  Full name Jimmy “Trouble” Carver, someone who may look perfect on the outside but feels so broken inside where it counts.  Even when you meet him in other stories, he drifts around in your consciousness waiting to pop up again.  Now you get his story.

Trouble is a dichotomy on two feet, and just the sort of character that J.M. Dabney delivers so realistically and so well.  Everything about Trouble is guaranteed to shift any judgements you may make about him.  Beautiful, tattooed, he looks, if you are judging him,  as though he should have everything.  Looks are deceiving. One reason being because his family has delivered enough punishing, brutal judgements of their own, enough to break him.  Dabney makes us feel the impact on Trouble of that familial abuse, not just his past upbringing but the continuing, constant stream of mistreatment that comes from that direction.  It will not be what you expect.

And from person judged by his physical looks to another character who has a problem with his body.  That would be Brody Vaughn, who can’t  see how much he shines because of the way he looks at his body image.  Getting them together is a wonderful journey of mind, and heart, and bravery.  Plus a little girl called Princess (how she gets to be called that is part of the charm of the story).

Trouble (Twirled World Ink #2) by J.M. Dabney is a tale that has such depth as it deals with body image, emotional and familial abuse  and still be such a wonderful love story, adorable child and Twirled Work Ink crew included.  I love this series and all the series that come after it.  See the links I’ve listed below.  I absolutely recommend them all, including this one.

Cover art by Reese Dante (old cover above). Honestly, while I like both  covers, the one here just speaks to me.  That’s Trouble looking right at you.  Be still my heart.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 132 pages
Published December 13th 2016 by J.M. Dabney
ASINB01MXU41P4
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTwirled World Ink #2
Characters Jimmy “Trouble” Carver, Brody Vaughn settingPowers, Georgia (United States)

New Cover (reedited version)

A MelanieM Review: Berzerker (Twirled World Ink #1) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Welcome to Twirled World Ink where the crazies run the asylum.

The hum of a tattoo machine was Brian “Berzerker” Anderson’s favorite sound in the world. He’d won a coveted spot at Twirled World Ink with a legend in the business, Gib Phelps. Creating beauty with his large, scarred hands was his happy place—the place where he fit in the world. Although, nothing could remain perfect forever, his boyfriend of over a year decided to move on and up without him in tow. He had two choices, return to living with his friends and co-workers or take an offer too tempting to pass up.

Landon Phelps grew up in an unconventional home as the only child to Legendary Tattoo Artist Gib Phelps and mother, Peaches. He always felt a bit out of place when he became a boring accountant instead of following in his parents’ footsteps. Boundaries were in place early on; he didn’t date the employees of Twirled World Ink. Sometimes rules were meant to be broken. Bezerker was his idea of perfection, large, husky and tattooed; the thick, grab-worthy beard was a bonus. So when the boyfriend became the ex, Landon decided it was time to get his man.

With the help of the matchmaking Twirled Crew, can Landon finally get Berzerker to see him as more than a friend and the employer’s son?

Here we are at the beginning!  The Twirled World Ink series launches the first of three interconnected series and an ever enlarging cast of addictive characters, all of whom live in the town of Powers, Georgia.  And it all starts here.  I’ve been working my way backwards from that last series, Executioners (a band) to arrive at this  point.  Now I get to meet the original characters and see how they find their HEA.

First it’s Brian “Berzerker” Anderson, the large, intimidating inked tattooer at Twirled World Ink.  Tossed aside by someone ashamed of him,  it frees him up for the man who’s been waiting for just this opportunity. Landon, the young son of the owners of the tattoo shop who’s crushed on Berzerker for ages and now intends to go after the man he wants.

This story by J.M. Dabney has enough elements to appeal to everyone.  It has an age different in couple, humor, friends to lovers, and yes, simply hot sex scenes.  I don’t really regard what happens with Brian and Landon as instant love as they have known each other for a while, but more as a recognition of what’s really been there all along.  And I love stories like that.

It’s hard for me to be impartial about this story because in a way I’ve been living with this couple for nine books now and feel like I know them intimately.  I’ve seen them grow and I know where they are going.  So for me, this is a lovely trip back in time to see where it began for them and I love it.  And yes, I’m so fond of them.

All that couldn’t happen without  J.M. Dabney’s wonderful way with characterization and decisions about location and things like a tattoo shop called Twirled World Ink.  Because as Berzerker demonstrates its never just about the couple, its also about the supporting cast of characters that you will come to love and need to see as much of as anyone else.  That includes Peaches and Gib, and the rest of the Brawler crew and everyone else from Twirled World Ink and more.   In this series (all three of them)  it takes a town, and that town is Powers, Georgia.  It too will undergo transformation along with the men who live there.

And it starts here.

I gave you all the old cover because that came with the version I read.  The new cover states that it has been reedited so I will put that one  in a smaller version below.  I hate to admit it but I really prefer the older version.  Tell me what you think.

Cover art by Winterheart Designs (old).  I really love this older cover.  It seems grittier, more perfect for the characters than the new lighter version.  Tell me what you think.

 

 

 

 

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Author’s Note: Although this is the first book in a series each book is a standalone and every book deals with a separate couple.

Kindle Edition, 138 pages
Published November 27th 2016 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC (first published November 2016)
ASINB01N0KDB60
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTwirled World Ink #1
Characters Brian “Berzerker” Anderson, Landon Phelps settingPowers, Georgia (United States)

 

A MelanieM Review: Hunter (Brawlers #4) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

If there was a way to completely destroy his life, Hunter Black would do it. He was a catastrophe waiting to happen. Survival was his only priority and having to leave his old life behind that meant a job of the legal variety. He’d found one as a bartender at Brawlers Bar and a safe place in a huge house with the rest of the bar crew who quickly became the family he’d never had. The one thing Hunter didn’t need was his old life tracking him down.

Deputy Wren Gramble hated his job and his weekend assignment of staking out a bar in the middle of nowhere waiting for drunks. Although he’d heard the homophobic and racist jokes going around about the crew and customers, he kept his head down and stuck to his job and nothing else. He despised being driven back into the closet, but he’d reached the end of the line and what he’d do if he earned another transfer he didn’t know.

Linus Trenton was considered the normal one in his family and according to the weird ones that meant he should be punished on a daily basis. He never came out one way or another, if he found someone attractive he was attracted. His life was complicated enough having a crush on the sweet and awkward Hunter but now he had to throw Wren into the mix. Linus didn’t have time for dating or romance, most of the time he didn’t even think about having a sex life, although, Wren and Hunter were ruining his calm.

Hunter was in lust with the handsome deputy the minute the man pulled him over, but a man like that wouldn’t give him the time of day. His friend, Linus, was another matter altogether. Hunter wanted both. His bosses made it work with their man, why couldn’t he? Could Hunter prove he wasn’t as much of a screw up as he appeared or would he have to call in backup to claim his men?

Hunter (Brawlers #4) by J.M. Dabney surprised me in many ways.  For me it seemed to hold  the least amount of angst that i’ve come to expect of the Dabney men and the Brawlers series.  Hunter is quiet to the point of utter silence, he’s so clumsy that he often poses a danger to himself and others, shy with a self esteem that seems to exist at basement level.  He’s bearish with long hair (how the cover missed a motherlode there) and everyone seems to want to look after him.  Surprisingly again, the author is stingy with Hunter’s backstory. At least with the others, we’ve gotten an idea of the circumstances that brought them to Brawler’s.  Here we just get the barest outline of jail time and some juvenile arrests, not nearly enough.

Those details are left for Linus Trenton and Deputy Wren Gramble, the two men vying for Hunter’s love and ending up as a threesome.  As the fourth book in the Brawlers series, it’s also the one that sees the most storyline involving the corruption within the Sheriff’s Department and how that affects Hunter, Linus, and Wren.  This book also sets the stage for my all time favorite stories and series, the Executioners.  So maybe, Hunter just had too much to do.

But whatever the case maybe I felt as though this threesome was missing some of that magic, or vivid relationship interactions that brought the other three stories alive.  Somehow I never felt as connected to these men as I did all the other couples (and it’s not due to the fact that it’s a menage – those can be very hot).   Maybe it was that it felt as though it happened too fast, or just that Hunter had ignored Linus and then he didn’t.  I’m not sure what the element here is that made me wishing for all the other couples stories again but the spark, that heat, never flared.  Sweet, happy even, yes….but never quite Brawlers red hot.

There are some really funny moments here to enjoy. I can always count on the author to supply those, usually along with some major angst which is missing here.  Dabney’s  wonderful dialog and  rough hewn characters are always something I look forward to and I needed to see Hunter get his HEA which he does.  Most importantly though, the author is tying up some story threads and setting the tone and overall plot in place for two of the best books of the connected series (all three), that would be Ghost and Joker.  I have listed all the series and stories below.

I don’t really consider any of these stories stand alone as they flow from one person to another, connecting, developing and using each as a foundation for the next.  So remarkable.   So one more jump backward to the Twirled World Ink series to see where it all began.

Whether it’s Hunter or the Brawlers series, I absolutely  recommend them all.  Then continue to  finish off all the series and wait for the rest to be released just like me!  I can hardly wait.

Cover art by Winterheart Designs is showing just the torso.  I think this is a miss as they could have included Hunter’s signature long hair.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

book, 160 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press
Series Brawlers #4

A MelanieM Review: Bull (Brawlers #3) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

They said men only get better with age, distinguished and all that BS, but Archer “Bulletproof” Woods hadn’t gotten better. At fifty-six he was still as much an asshole as he’d been in his twenties and thirties, hell, maybe he was worse. Being a bouncer at a bar called Brawlers suited him just fine and he even tolerated the rest of the crew who’d taken up residence in his house when they’d had nowhere else to go. He was big, growly and homely that kept the parade of men passing through Brawlers at arm’s length for the past decade. One night changed all that.

What he’d thought was happily ever after turned into a nearly five year nightmare. Gregory Charles appeared to have it all, a successful business, sophistication, and a perfect marriage. His friend and best employee, Landon, begged him to come out to a friend’s bar to celebrate Landon’s anniversary. What could it hurt? A night without contemplating the hell that would come down on him the moment he served his husband with divorce papers would do him good. That is until he met the brooding older man staring into a whiskey straight ignoring everyone around him.

Watching for trouble was his job and Gregory screamed mistake as soon as the long, lean and handsome man sat down beside him. But he also knew when someone was in over their head and Gregory needed someone to watch his back. That someone was Bull, only time would tell if he’d have to fight Gregory as much as the man after him.

Bull‘s story is the one I’ve been waiting for.  I’ve love the huge, hulking father figure ever since I became aware of the Brawlers and their extended family.  It’s Bull and his house whose been the home and focal point of so many of these stories.  And it’s been Bull who’s been such a steadying influence on those around him when everything felt like it was being destroyed for them.  Yet Bull was ever lonely, alpha among alphas, and you wanted to get the know the person called Bull.  In Bull (Brawlers #3) by J.M. Dabney I finally got that story.

The solitary man isn’t the one I was prepared to find.  He’s hardly anywhere close to the men he houses, although he  clearly understands them and the violence that drives them.  Instead Dabney gives us a man full of pain and loneliness, hating it, yet perhaps thinking that his time for something more has passed him by because of his age.  The sadness is overwhelming.  Then Gregory appears at Brawlers, helping to  celebrate Landon’s anniversary and a connection is made that changes everything.

Gregory is a complicated character (they all are here).  Explaining more about Gregory actually gives away too much of the the plot for my comfort, however, let’s just say trying to serve divorce papers to a husband isn’t always the easiest thing when the husband refuses to accept them.  This is a hurt/comfort story and deals with issues of domestic violence and control.

Bull’s situation (he’s divorced with a grown child he hasn’t seen in awhile) plus his age all determines the manner in which he views his actions towards Gregory and any possibility of a relationship.  Gregory’s own demons also need to be dealt with by Gregory himself and others.  Broken, bruised men are the heart of most of Dabney’s stories.  For most, life has made them hard and violent, but for some, it’s left it’s marks in other ways.

The relationship dynamics here make any romance unsure and slow as it should be.  I loved the struggle and the carefulness taken to ensure more pain wasn’t inflicted.   I like that there is an awareness of the age issue, it’s addressed, and they move forward. Was it a little rushed towards the end?  Perhaps, but the whole is darn near perfect.

I think Bull is one of my favorite Brawler books of the series.  Of course, I do love the whole series and the one that follows it.  I have them all listed below.  Check them all out and check them off as I review them.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover design by Winterheart Designs is perfect for Bull, how I love these covers.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 199 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC (first published 2017)
ASINB06Y2GHQPH
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBrawlers #3

  • Executioners – third series

A MelanieM Review: Psycho (Brawlers, #2) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

Life wasn’t easy when you were certifiable, Gerald “Psycho” Clemons lived on the fringes of society. Five years he hadn’t thought twice about riding with a group who saw most laws as flexible. When the leader of the group turned crazier than Psycho, he stepped in and made the man pay. He’d never been rewarded for his temper before, yet that’s what happened when he earned a permanent place and a job as a bouncer. Everyone walked a wide circle around him, and he liked it that way. One look from his cold black eyes and he had people backing up. Then he met a man who had to be crazier than him.

Decadence Bakery was Ben Morin’s dream come true, and he loved it, but he grew tired of his lonely existence. Six months earlier he’d turned on the open sign and hopefully changed his life for the better. Ben loved his small cottage in the middle of nowhere even with the 3 a.m. rumbling of motorcycles and loud music at the farm next door. Although one thing he didn’t love, was his new hobby of watching one of the terrifying men next door. What could a little harmless peek now and then hurt?

Sweet and older wasn’t his type, but Psycho couldn’t deny the need to possess the beautiful baker. It was stronger than even the insanity he barely kept at bay, could he have a man who looked passed it or would Ben run like all the rest?

J.M. Dabney’s explorations of the strange, sometimes twisted road to love between men who’ve been abused, hardened by life and their soulmates continues with Psycho.  The second story in the Brawler‘s series (see all connected series below), Psycho is employed at the Brawlers bar/club as one of their security men.  He does whatever it takes to keep the bar running smooth and it’s employees safe.  He’s also is one of those men barely under control at any given moment, only his boss Elijah, who seems to have ‘adopted’ him, easily brings Psycho back from the edge.

Dabney gives Psycho a profoundly disturbing, yet I suspect intentionally vague backhistory.  The author gives us just enough elements of Psycho’s background and upbringing if you can call it that to make one nauseous, letting the reader’s mind fill in the horrific blanks of how that could traumatize any child that survived it.  Yes, the name Psycho certainly fits the man.  It also makes his lack of socialization, verbal skills, and inability to recognize all the normal group/personal interactions and their subtleties understandable. It’s just all beyond him, and the rage that’s constantly with him is one consequence of that.

Here’s a brute whose actions and personality seem simple yet the truth is he’s anything but.  I loved that about this story (and series).  Dabney’s ability to create such brutalized, abused men, yet let us see beyond the surface into their backhistory into the trauma that made them, and the way in which they still find the person that accepts who they are,  despite their violence and still with the capacity for love.  Here Psycho’s man is Ben the baker.

Ben Morin isn’t quite the norm here.  Yes, he’s gotten out of a relationship and there will be some wonderful growth for him as a character, surprising growth.  Yet Ben, intelligent, accepting, loving Ben (with a little help), finds a new circle of friends and a home within the Brawlers circle and love, eventually, with Psycho.  There’s also an ex involved in a surprising thread here, but I won’t reveal who it is  and how it comes into play.  I was astonished myself how much I liked this aspect of the story.  And I admit I must have brushed over this when I came across it in the Executioners books.  Huh.  But watching these two get together is such a pleasure that sometimes I found myself just laughing out loud over the sheer joy and fun that was involved here.

Reading Psycho (Brawlers, #2) by J.M. Dabney was such a wild, wonderful experience!  I laughed so hard at places, wanted to cry over the abuse that made Psycho the man that he is, fanned myself a lot over the sexy scenes and was just so beyond happy at the HEA for all involved.  When it comes to a J.M. Dabney story, you get a village. By that I mean, all your beloved characters are going to make appearances, which is great by me.  I’m working myself backwards in the series but you don’t have to.  I’ve laid them all out for you below.  It certainly helps to know who everyone is because not only do they make appearances in each other’s stories and their relationships have matured (as they have) as the series advance.  The town of Powers, Georgia also undergoes a dramatic transformation from series one Twirled World Ink  to series three Executioners. So no, you really can’t call any of them standalones.  What I do call them is highly recommended.  Getting reading now!

Now onto Bull (Brawlers, #3), review coming soon.

Cover art by Winterheart Designs is terrific.  I just love the covers for this series, this one included.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 119 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC (first published 2017)
ASINB06XV7TLTX
Edition Language English
SeriesBrawlers #2 setting Georgia (United States)

  • Executioners – third series

A MelanieM Review: Crave (Brawlers #1) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Welcome to Brawlers Bar…

A quick pit stop for a comfortable bed to sleep turned into an eight-year stay. Vincent “Crave” Butler hit the road the day after college graduation and hadn’t looked behind him since. He’d swore to never stop moving, but the night he drove into Powers, Georgia changed the course of his life. He’d hit a bar called Brawlers with its rundown exterior and pride flag beside the door, the next day he had a job. Second in command to the Head of Brawler security, Crave found the place he didn’t have to run from. No one would call Crave sane. He lived to make people as uncomfortable as possible just for his own twisted amusement. That all changed when a certain cute as fuck bartender walked in for an interview.

No one wanted Twitch Harrison around. He was small, femme and annoying on his best days, downright abhorrent on his bad ones. When college turned out to be a no-go, and the parents canceled his credit cards he’d needed a job. Walking into Brawlers, the roughest gay bar in his hometown, was like a game of pick the thing that didn’t belong—him. The two owners, Scary and Tank, hired him on and four years later he was still that thing that didn’t belong. No one made it more apparent than bouncer Crave Butler who didn’t hide the fact he barely tolerated Twitch’s presence.

Crave threatened every man who thought they’d get the pretty Twitch but would Twitch rather be in their beds than his? Only one way to find out and he hoped Twitch was ready for forever because that’s what Crave was determined to have.

Crave (Brawlers #1) marks the new start of my backwards journey towards the starting point of all of J.M Dabney’s interlocking series. I say new because (you all know I can start at the most awkward moments in a series) I actually found this author through their first story in their latest series The Executioners and that story blew me away.  That was Ghost, a remarkable introduction to the town of Powers, Georgia that was swiftly followed by the equally 5-star novel Joker (Executioners #2).  Yes, I was well hooked by the author, the town, and the backhistory of the people and couples I was meeting that I only had bits and pieces of.  Then I find out there’s not one but two preceding series that give me all the back stories and history I could want.  Be still my heart.  So here we go backward one series, one book at the time.

Brawlers is a bar/club and each story in the series is named after a guy who works there and forms a part of the Brawler family (note: Executioners is a band that plays in the club). J.M Dabney specializes in brutal, damaged men, people whose lives have been full of trauma and ugliness.  Their bodies often reflect the scars their lives have left on them emotionally and mentally.  Some are self abusers (cutters) and others have sealed themselves off, preferring isolation to emotional pain.  Crave is one of the huge, rough, scary ones.  Hired as a bouncer, he’s brutal, violent, loves to fight, and has his reasons to be this way.  The author is clear on this.  Her characters aren’t thugs but men twisted and harmed by life, redeemable under the facade. Unable to communicate like most people, when he does say anything, it’s with no filters and guaranteed to start a fight.  It’s very safe way to stay behind walls but it makes it hard when there’s someone you want to protect as Crave finds out with Twitch.

Twitch is tiny, complicated and in pain.  I fell in love with this character immediately. He telegraphs both his vulnerability and the utter devastation he feels. He’s trying in so many ways to work through the damage done to him by his upbringing and more. Twitch has found the unlikeliest of homes and support at Brawlers if his past will leave him alone.

Dabney takes these most unlikely of mates, brings them together in somewhat combustible circumstances (a bar like Brawlers  where fights are common and the local police are corrupt at this point in the series) and makes it believable and heart wrenching.  Both men damaged in very different ways and yet looking for real love and stability.  Crave is someone who not only know what those scars are on Twink’s wrists and sides, but recognizes what they stand for.  He understands the dark places he see in Twitch because he has them as well.   This is not an easy romance.  It can’t be with characters like these and surrounded by others just as broken or out of the norm as they are.  There are fights, misunderstandings, pain galore.

I also found it fascinating because as the first story in the second series, many of the elements that make Ghost and Joker so great are being laid down here, so I’m watching the evolution of a town and “family”,  one I’m already familiar with as I started with a present time novel.  So I’m getting a time capsule effect here.

J.M Dabney has three connected series. Twirled World Ink (a tattoo shop) which is the first series which spun off into Brawlers the bar/club and now into Executioners which is the band who plays at Brawlers.  All the characters appear in all the stories so it helps to read all the books. I see the potential for another here after the Executioners with a Security Company. Right now each has four books each.  I’ll be reviewing them all.  It’s quite the universe!  The stories are gripping, the sex is hot and the characters are unforgettable.

If you love your hurt/comfort, your damaged men looking for love, you will love this story, this series and this author.  Follow along as I lead you through the books and loves of the men of the connected series of J.M Dabney!

Cover art is perfect for Crave.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 129 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
  • Executioners – third series

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Joker (Executioners #2) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating:   5 Stars out of 5

Joker, what a misnomer, but Jackson Webb’s friends were idiots. He’d joined Executioners almost three years earlier after the lead singer King caught him playing his guitar behind his garage. It broke up the monotony of his life, but once he got bored he’d move on to another distraction. He wasn’t nice. He sure as hell wasn’t friendly. He was what he was, his friends handled his attitude and standoffish nature just fine. At thirty-eight he was pretty sure he was too stuck in his way to change shit now.

Demetri “Dem” Urban was settling into a new life in the middle of nowhere. Okay, he was hiding from everywhere in a kitchen as far removed from his five-star kitchen back in New York. Gideon invited him to stay with him and his wife for awhile just until he could get everything back on track. He didn’t see it happening, but he had to admit the scenery wasn’t bad even if the man had the personality of a rabid, man-eating bear. Dem did like a challenge and that fit Joker Webb perfectly.

My first sighting of Joker was in Ghost (Executioners, #1), a deeply moving story that served as my first introduction to D.M. Dabney and that author’s interlocking series (Twirled World Ink, Brawlers and Executioners and hopefully more).  Of course, I started with the most recent in the series which has turned out a fascinating, fortuitous move and I’m now moving backwards to the beginning series.  And Joker aka Jackson Webb has appeared everywhere, a dark, violent presence, sometimes just a fleeting reference, sometimes more as a participant in a rescue or beatdown, but Joker has been an enigmatic thread running through three series who now when ready in Dabney’s mind, explodes into the cacophony that is his heartrending, beautiful and oh so memorable story.

Forewarning.  If you’ve read Ghost, which is where I fell in love with Joker, you knew peeling back the edges of Joker’s armor would be like staring into the abyss.  His past is stomach churning and even though the abuse and descriptions of what happened to him is handled “off stage” , there is no space for your mind and heart to run from his scars…physical, mental, emotional that are revealed here.  They feel intense, all too real, and full of suffering of the unimaginable kind.  For some of you, these are triggers and you should be aware of the impact they will have.  Even if they aren’t triggers, prepared to have the abuse that Jackson suffered stay with you  long after the story is over, which is as it should be I suppose.

Jackson is the town vigilante/Paladin and his friends’ worry now that Harper has found love, happiness and safety with Ghost. Jackson aka Joker is still on his mission to protect and deliver his own forms of justice to those thugs/bullies in town who have been under the protection of the old corrupt (and now dead) Sheriff.  Given that mission it’s no surprise that he’s often found in one of the jail cells,  with his friends called to bail him out.  Outside of jail, his little dog Killer is his constant companion and yes, unacknowledged therapy dog.  He’s violent, untouchable, moody, and broken.  Yet everything about him shouts need.  I wanted his story from the minute I met him in Ghost.  And love him completely.

Then comes Dem, a man from a loving home who sets his eyes on Joker, knows that he and that broken man are somehow ‘meant’ for each other like his mom and dad. Dem is unique. Some see him as broken too. Dem is also a character you come across in Ghost, but here Dem becomes a complete person.  I loved his parents, the background Dabney supplies for him and his reasons for being in this small town. He’s pretty easy to fall in love with himself.   In the book, it all makes perfect sense as do the characters.  Dabney’s characterizations and writing is so good, so perfect for the themes the author chose and the paths the story needs to take, that all I could do is be pulled in, totally absorbed by the drama and evolving relationships.

Dem’s pursuit of Joker shakes the man to his emotional and mental foundation.  It’s everything he fears and has no reason to understand.  Love. J.M. Dabney creates two of the most perfect, broken, believable characters and then takes us on their journey towards a love only they can find with each other, and a  small dog named Killer.  At times, your heart will break over the blackness and evil suffered, sometimes your breath will catch with hope as they get close at times a relationship only to see it crash under the weight of the past and reality, and finally  your heart gets to soar with laughter and love at what the author has wrought out of darkness and pain.

How I love Joker (Executioners #2) by J.M. Dabney and the entire series.  I highly recommend it and Ghost.  Start with Ghost and then read Joker.  And look for all my reviews of the Twirled World Ink, and Brawlers series by J.M. Dabney to come.  I’ll be covering them all and the evolution of a universe.

Cover Design: Winterheart Design.  I think the cover captures Joker perfectly.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Published August 29th 2017
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL https://www.jmdabneyauthor.com/executioners
setting Georgia (United States)

Series Executioners:

Review Tour and Giveaway for Joker (Executioners #2) by JM Dabney

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 38,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Winterheart Design
 
Executioners Series
 
Ghost (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
Blurb


Joker, what a misnomer, but Jackson Webb’s friends were idiots. He’d joined Executioners almost three years earlier after the lead singer King caught him playing his guitar behind his garage. It broke up the monotony of his life, but once he got bored, he’d move on to another distraction. He wasn’t nice. He sure as hell wasn’t friendly. He was what he was, his friends handled his attitude and standoffish nature just fine. At thirty-eight he was pretty sure he was too stuck in his ways to change shit now.

Demetri “Dem” Urban was settling into a new life in the middle of nowhere. Okay, he was hiding from everyone in a kitchen as far removed from his five-star kitchen back in New York as he could get. Gideon invited him to stay with him and his wife for a while just until he could get everything back on track. He didn’t see it happening, but he had to admit the scenery wasn’t bad even if the man had the personality of a rabid, man-eating bear. Dem did like a challenge and that fit Joker Webb perfectly.

Author’s Note: This story contains scenes of a violent nature, mentions of rape and torture (All off page from characters pasts) and severe abuse. If you, as a reader, find this objectionable or triggering in any way, you can skip this story without losing the transition to the next book

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star Review here.

October 4 – Dog-Eared Daydreams
 

Author Bio

J.M. Dabney is a multi-genre author who writes mainly LGBT romance and fiction. She lives with a constant diverse cast of characters in her head. No matter their size, shape, race, etc. she lives for one purpose alone, and that’s to make sure she does them justice and give them the happily ever after they deserve. J.M. is dysfunction at its finest and she makes sure her characters are a beautiful kaleidoscope of crazy. There is nothing more she wants from telling her stories than to show that no matter the package the characters come in or the damage their pasts have done, that love is love. That normal is never normal and sometimes the so-called broken can still be amazing.

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