A Caryn Release Day Review: The Second Time Around by Rowan McAllister

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Fans of the hurt/comfort trope are going to really enjoy this book!  When I first started reading, I was prepared for it all to be fairly shallow, but I was pleasantly surprised by the end to find there was more to it than that.

Jordan Thorndike was the middle child of a wealthy, conservative family, treading the path that his father had laid down for him, ivy league law school and all.  The book opens with Jordan driving away from his home with a few suitcases the only things he has left of his previous life of privilege, after he came out to his parents and was cut off from the family.  He had never been on his own before, had no idea where to go or what to do, when a reminder popped up on his cell phone about a planned visit to the B STAR ranch – Better the Second Time Around – a shelter for abused and neglected farm animals that was one of his mother’s favorite charities, and a place Jordan remembered fondly from childhood visits.  It seemed like as good a place as any to retreat to, and his plan was to work for bed and board and try to figure out what to do next with his life.

When he arrived at the Texas ranch, he was welcomed by Phyllis, the owner, but not so much by her foreman, Russ.  To Russ, Jordan was just a spoiled rich kid who wanted to slum it for a while, a nuisance rather than a help to a busy ranch.  Jordan didn’t tell anyone why he was there, and spun a tale of “taking the summer off” and kept up a charming facade to put off any unpleasant questions.  His truth couldn’t be kept a secret forever, and when it did come out, the response was better than he could ever have hoped for:  Russ really saw him, their walls came down, and they got together even though they both expected it to be only temporary until Jordan healed enough to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

Jordan’s own healing process was nicely reflected in the work they did with the neglected animals, especially the horse that had to get worse before she could get better.  He seemed very shallow and immature in the beginning of the book, but that made sense given his sheltered background and the emotionally stunted family he grew up in.  The preoccupation with food, his looks, “good” coffee, all made sense to me eventually, and I liked that although he did mature and start seeing the real world a lot more clearly after a few weeks at the ranch, he didn’t miraculously lose all of those bad habits just because he was in a relationship.  Russ was “over 40” – his actual age was never mentioned – but the 20 year age gap wasn’t really addressed at all, which I thought was a little strange (in my mind, Russ was 34, which made more sense to me given how he acted alone, and how he behaved with Jordan).  The suddenness of the two of them getting together was a bit jarring, Russ’ change of heart being a complete about face over the period of a few hours, but after that it seemed believable.  Mostly.  I’d call the ending more of a “happy for now” rather than HEA because I still felt their relationship needed a lot more growth to be permanent.

Not a book to knock my socks off, but definitely a nice relaxing read.  I did most of it on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I would recommend this as a vacation read.

Cover art by Adrian Nicholas incorporates a lot of the scenes from the book, but wasn’t particularly eye-catching.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: September 11th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640804814
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: The Wanderer (Chronicles of the Riftlands #1) by Rowan McAllister

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

After centuries of traveling the continent of Kita and fighting the extradimensional monsters known as Riftspawn, mage Lyuc is tired and ready to back away from the concerns of humanity.

But the world isn’t done with him yet.

While traveling with a merchant caravan, Lyuc encounters Yan, an Unnamed, the lowest caste in society. Though Yan has nothing but his determination and spirit, he reminds Lyuc what passion and desire feel like. While wild magic, a snarky, shapeshifting, genderfluid companion, and the plots of men and monsters seem determined to keep Lyuc from laying down his burden, only Yan’s inimitable spirit tempts him to hang on for another lifetime or so.

All Yan wants is to earn the sponsorship of a guild so he can rise above his station, claim a place in society, and build the family he never had.

After hundreds of years of self-imposed penance, all Lyuc wants is Yan.

If they can survive prejudice, bandits, mercenaries, monsters, and nature itself, they might both get their wish… and maybe even their happily ever after.

I really enjoyed The Wanderer. It ticked a lot of boxes for me and I just couldn’t put it down.

I liked both Yan and Lyuc immediately. They’re very different but make a wonderful couple. I really enjoyed their relationship dynamic and it was pretty obvious that they cared for each other. I really enjoyed watching their relationship blossom and especially Yan changing and growing in character.

But my favourite character by far was Lyuc’s traveling companion and friend. He’s so cool and he really added to the story.

The fantasy part has all the potential to become truly epic. It’s not exactly a brand new idea, but the author definitely made it work. The world building was well done and I immediately fell into the universe. It had me intrigued and I definitely want to find out more. This is just the beginning, after all.

There weren’t all that many sex scenes. While I don’t always need tons of sex to enjoy a book, I think this could have used a bit more. It’s implied that Yan has had some not so great experiences in the past and that he’s used sex as a favour to get out of trouble. It felt like he immediately went from “sex as a favour” to “sex out of love”. There was no slow change over time and that’s a bit of a shame. But that’s all I have to complain about.

Long story short, I absolutely loved “The Wanderer” and I can’t wait for part two. This really has the potential to become a really epic fantasy story with a wonderful relationship. I just hope the author will keep the current couple and won’t introduce a new one. I really liked our trio.

I really like the cover by Stef Masciandaro. It makes me smile and fits the story perfectly.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802360
Series Chronicles of the Riftlands #1

An Ali Audiobook Review: Power Bottom? by Rowan McAllister and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Can a pickup line from a stranger completely change the way an ordinary man sees himself?

Adrian wouldn’t have thought so, but after an ugly breakup where his self-esteem took a serious beating, he’s willing to try just about anything to repair the damage… even return to a secluded bar in rural Maryland and the intriguing stranger whose words have been on his mind since they met.

Biker, bouncer, bartender, and tattoo artist, Wyatt is a rolling stone. After fifteen years, he is tired of a life on the run, but he isn’t sure he knows how to do anything else or if he has anything besides a physical relationship to offer.

What’s supposed to be a one-off turns into another and another, and the relationship looks promising until the mob and the FBI come knocking on Adrian’s door.
 
I enjoyed this. It was sweet and sexy all rolled into one. This was an easy read w/no major drama. Just what I was in the mood for. 
 
Adrien and Wyatt meet through a fluke incident and after his life gets upended, Adrien decides to seek Wyatt out again.  The two men couldn’t be more different but they are intensely attracted to each other.  What starts off as sexual, quickly turns into friendship and then romance. 
As the blurb states they both have things going on in their lives and when they end up in the middle of a giant mess complete with mob guys and the FBI they have only each other to turn to.  This part was a bit over the top in my opinion but it was still entertaining.  I was rooting for these two the entire time and was happy to see them get their happily ever after.
This was narrated by Nick J Russo and I thought he did a very good job.  I especially enjoyed the voice he did for Wyatt.  There were a variety of side characters, including women, and they all sounded distinct and well done also.
Overall, I found this a completely enjoyable audiobook and it is one I would recommend.
 This cover is done by Angsty G.  I like this cover a lot and feel like it a great representation of the plot and the characters.
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio
Published April 17th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 19th 2016)
Original TitlePower Bottom?
ASINB06ZY2QLGQ
Edition LanguageEnglish
setting Maryland (United States)

Rowan McAllister Talks Covers, Victorian Gothic Romance and her latest novel ‘We Met in Dreams’ (guest post)

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We Met in Dreams by Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover artist: Anna Sikorska

Release Date: February 27, 2017

Available for purchase at

           

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Rowan McAllister today talking about her cover for We met in Dreams.  

Welcome, Rowan.

✒︎

Covers, Victorian Gothic Romance and We Met In Dreams by Rowan McAllister

Candlelight flickering off a darkened staircase. Skeletal branches clawing at a blue-black sky. A crumbling castle with one lit window.

Anyone with a love for romance has to have seen at least one cover featuring some or all of these themes. When I made the decision to dive headlong into delightfully spooky and melodramatic genre of the Victorian Gothic Romance, I had dozens of inspiration pics and ideas for my cover. I’d share some of the pics with you here, but unfortunately I don’t own them. Instead, I’ll urge you to Google image search “Victorian Gothic Romance” and “women running from houses.” It’ll be worth the keystrokes. You’ll have an entire screen filled with smudged pencil, pastel, and charcoal drawings of women in flowing white gowns, in varying states of undress, fleeing darkened hulks of stone or racing down stairs clutching candelabras, as dark shadows loom menacingly behind them.  It’s wonderfully moody art.

Now obviously I couldn’t have my hero in a flowing white gown— or I suppose I could have, except that would’ve been an entirely different story— but I wanted the same feel. I wanted that delicious urgency of the fleeing hero and the towering bulk of a darkened and forbidding house. I wanted the decay of winter and the air of neglect, even in a prosperous family’s stately London house. I wanted swooping bats and glowing white apparitions with skeletal hands pressed to window panes… okay I’m going a little over the top here, but you get the gist.

Poor Anna Sikorska, she had to deal with a LOT of “I wants” from me on this one. It’s only once in a blue moon that I have a clear idea of what I want for my cover, and lucky her, she got this one. But she was a trooper and kept at it until this fresh take on the classic theme became reality. I just hope she wasn’t cursing my name by the end of it. And poor Paul Richmond at Dreamspinner Press had to explain to me that there was such a thing as TOO dark a cover. Apparently there’s a little more leeway for ebook covers than ones that will also be sold in print, so I couldn’t go as dark as my soul. I learned something new there— darned reality imposing its rules on my gothic vision. But in the end, I suppose it’s better that you can actually see the cover. That’s kind of important, or so I’ve heard.

A big thanks to Anna for putting up with me and making my beautiful cover, and I hope you all enjoy reading what’s inside We Met In Dreams as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Blurb

In Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.

A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.

This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.

Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.

Genre: Victorian Gothic/Historical European

Page Count/Word Count: 268/98,457

About the Author

 

Rowan McAllister is a woman who doesn’t so much create as recreate, taking things ignored and overlooked and hopefully making them into something magical and mortal. She believes it’s all in how you look at it. In addition to a continuing love affair with words, she creates art out of fabric, metal, wood, stone, and any other interesting scraps of life she can get her hands on. Everything is simply one perspective change and a little bit of effort away from becoming a work of art that is both beautiful and functional. She lives in the woods, on the very edge of suburbia—where civilization drops off and nature takes over—sharing her home with her patient, loving, and grounded husband, her super sweet hairball of a cat, and a mythological beast masquerading as a dog. Her chosen family is made up of a madcap collection of people from many different walks of life, all of whom act as her muses in so many ways, and she would be lost without them.

E-mail: rowanmcallister10@gmail.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rowanmcallister10

Twitter: @RowanMcallister

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: We Met in Dreams by Rowan McAllister

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

a-free-dreamer-release-day-review-we-met-in-dreams-by-rowan-mcallisterIn Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.

A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.

This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.

Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.

I’m usually not big on historical romance novels, but the blurb was sufficiently unusual and slightly creepy to make me curious. I definitely didn’t regret my choice.

First of all, you have to suspend your disbelief for this story. Fox breaks into Arthur’s house, late one foggy winter night. When Arthur catches him, Fox doesn’t knock him out or harm Arthur in any other way. Instead, he stays for a chat.

Once I got past that slightly strange beginning, I started getting caught up in the story. There are so many unanswered questions and so many secrets lurking here. Is Arthur truly hallucinating? Are the apparitions real ghosts? Or is his kindly uncle plotting against him and there’s a much more mundane reason behind those creepy noises Arthur hears every night? There’s an answer to all those questions in the end, rest assured.

The setting was subtly creepy. Not outright horror-story-like, but just enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end every now and then. I like this kind of subtly creepiness and the author did a brilliant job creating an eerie atmosphere.

While the author managed to convey the creepiness of the setting extremely well, it lacked a “British” feel all over. I think it might have been better if she’d chosen to set this in the USA instead of London. Part of it is probably due to the fact that most of the story takes place in Arthur’s rooms and we hardly ever see the outside world. But when I first read “color” instead of “colour”, I found it really jarring and kept looking for the American spelling. I know it’s pronounced the same, but if a story is set in London and has English MCs, then I expect the British spelling. It should only be a minor niggle, but it started to quite bother me after a while.

The MCs were nice. A little too nice, really. I don’t see why Fox would return to the seemingly insane Arthur and risk a prison sentence in doing so. And Arthur was a little too concerned with everybody else’s well-being.

After all the suspense throughout the entire book, the ending was a little anti-climactic. The revelation felt a little mundane, to be honest.

Long story short, “We Met in Dreams” was good. It might not have been brilliant but overall, I quite enjoyed it.  If you like ghost stories and the subtle creepiness they bring, then you’ll like this book.

The cover by Anna Silkorska is perfect for this story. I love the haunted manor.

Sales Links

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Book details:

ebook, 268 pages
Expected publication: February 27th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635332966 (ISBN13: 9781635332964)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Release Day Review: Power Bottom? by Rowan McAllister

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

power-bottom-by-rowan-mcallisterCan a pickup line from a stranger completely change the way an ordinary man sees himself?

 

Adrian wouldn’t have thought so, but after an ugly breakup where his self-esteem took a serious beating, he’s willing to try just about anything to repair the damage… even return to a secluded bar in rural Maryland and the intriguing stranger whose words have been on his mind since they met.

 

Biker, bouncer, bartender, and tattoo artist, Wyatt is a rolling stone. After fifteen years, he is tired of a life on the run, but he isn’t sure he knows how to do anything else or if he has anything besides a physical relationship to offer.

 

What’s supposed to be a one-off turns into another and another, and the relationship looks promising until the mob and the FBI come knocking on Adrian’s door.

 

I really enjoyed this story.  Adrian first meets Wyatt when he is in a relationship, but can’t help but think of what Wyatt said to him.  After his relationship blows up he decides to take a chance.

 

Adrian’s life is pretty predicable and when he decides to go out of his comfort zone, he couldn’t have picked a better person than Wyatt.  A few “no feelings” hook-ups seem like the perfect answer to getting out of his funk, but he doesn’t expect to get any real feelings or for Wyatt to feel anything for him.  His innocence is adorable and you can’t help but love him.

 

This story is told from both character’s points of view, but mostly Adrian’s.  I could feel how destroyed Adrian felt when his relationship fell apart, but how hopeful he is that Wyatt could make things better.  He has a lot of self confidence to build up, but Wyatt has no problem being there and telling him how he feels and sees Adrian while Adrian would like nothing more than being Wyatt’s reason for staying.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is very nice and eye catching.

Sales Links

        

 

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Published: September 19, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN-13: 9781634776868
Edition Language: English