An Ali Review: Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The hardest battle is the fight to be yourself….

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy–a cocky sports fan capable of drinking more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy–a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography–documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through–coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

This was an interesting book for me. I really struggled with it for the first half. I took an immediate disliking to Jesse and his dudebro friends. I actually disliked Jesse so much that I was ready to quit the book around 40%. I couldn’t see what Chuck saw in him.  I generally like this author’s work and I have a lot of reader friends who really liked this one though so I pushed through. 
The last half of the book was a lot better for me. Once Jesse makes some changes in his life I found myself liking him more. I didn’t have a problem with him being in the closet but I really hated the drinking and frat boy type behavior. For men in their mid-30’s it just seemed childish and immature to me. I intellectually know that there are different types of people in the world who have different lifestyles but I just disliked Jesse’s so much I was having trouble be tolerant. 
As I said, Jesse makes some lifestyle changes and becomes a person I liked much better around the 60% mark. I ended up liking the last part of the book quite a lot and I enjoyed the romance towards the end. Despite my personal qualms with Jesse, the writing was really good and the plot was interesting. Any negative vibes I had were personal and not in reflection to the author’s work. I also really enjoyed the author’s note at the end. I don’t think I’ve mentioned those in many reviews over the years but I thought this one was very interesting and I recommend you take a minute to read it. 

Cover art is terrific and works for the story.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 368 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by S.A. McAuley, LLC
ASINB07QBNNR5N

Blog and Review Tour Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

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Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

Publisher: Self-pub (S.A. McAuley, LLC)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 21, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 332 pages (print), 103k words

Subgenre: Contemporary

Warnings: alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting

Order now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QBNNR5N?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

 

 

Book synopsis:

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy—a cocky sports fan who drinks more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy—a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography—documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through—coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

Excerpt :

All-Stars was a dive. A worn-down shack on the literal wrong side of the tracks on the south side of James Bay. There wasn’t even a bouncer at the front door.

“This is my kind of place,” Jesse said as they walked into the bar. “Feeling those normal guy vibes.”

“Told ya.”

Tayshaun waved to them from a table at the other side of the packed room and Chuck acknowledged him before turning back to Jesse. “I’ll grab us a couple beers. Why don’t you go over and say hi.”

Jesse took a step, then hesitated.

Chuck raised an eyebrow as he surveyed one of the biggest, most physically intimidating men he’d ever met freaked over making conversation. “Just normal guys, Jesse, I promise.”

“The Bay’s quarterback is sitting at the table next to him.”

“Okay, so he’s kind of a dick. But you know all about dealing with those because of the Kensington boys.”

Jesse smirked. “Fuck you. Hurry up.”

Despite Jesse’s urging, Chuck took his time at the bar so Tayshaun and Jesse had a chance to talk. He chatted with a couple other Bay’s players who were seated there and by the time he made his way over to Jesse, Jesse was guffawing over something Tayshaun had said. Chuck slipped Jesse’s glass in front of him and took the seat next to him.

“We making friends here then?” he said.

“Your boy is sick, Chuckie. I like him.”

“No surprise there.” Chuck took a deep swig of his drink, the local craft beer rolling down his throat in a pleasant rush. “Did Jesse tell you he used to play in college?”

“Yeah, we were comparing notes on treatment for janky knees.” Tayshaun sat back and gestured between the two of them. “So how long you been together?”

Chuck froze just as Jesse’s eyebrows shot up and he gripped his glass with white knuckles, stammering, “We’re— Uh— We—”

Tayshaun thumped his beer against the table and winced. “Shit. I’m sorry. I assumed— And I— Shit. I should know damn well better, of all people.”

That brought stony silence to the table, but Chuck held his ground, waiting for Jesse to put the pieces together. While he hadn’t expected the topic to come up quite this way, he’d hoped Tayshaun would feel comfortable enough with Jesse to open up. Because Tayshaun was a regular guy, and….

Jesse leaned forward. “Wait. You’re gay?”

Tayshaun nodded. “My team knows, and so do the coaches. It’s an open secret as they call it. I don’t know if I’m ready to be the first out player in the league. Shitload of pressure.”

Chuck shrugged. “You’re a franchise player. It may be easier for you than others.”

“I ever decide to do it, then you’ll be the first I call. You’ll make my ass look like the masterpiece it is.”

“I’ll grab us another round.” Jesse excused himself and headed for the bar.

Chuck glanced at Jesse over his shoulder. He hadn’t outright denied anything between them, but he hadn’t confirmed it either. And even though he’d left the table, he wasn’t running for the door. How fucked up was it that Chuck considered avoiding a panicked exodus a win?

Chuck sighed.

It was also much too familiar.

“Sorry about that,” Tayshaun said.

All around that could’ve gone better, but he hadn’t been able to figure out how to broach the subject with betraying either Tayshaun’s or Jesse’s trust.

Chuck waved off the apology. He’d find a way to talk to Jesse about it later. “Your season’s going well.”

“Football is my life.”

“Guess that means you’re not seeing Nunez anymore?”

“We burned hot and sputtered the fuck out. Couldn’t find any time once he got traded. How about you?” Tayshaun tipped his head up. “You seeing anyone?”

Chuck downed the rest of his beer. “Yeah. And it’s—”

“Me,” Jesse finished for him, setting the beers down.

Chuck swallowed, the word complicated lodging unsaid in his suddenly dry throat. Had Jesse just…?

Jesse plopped into his chair, his gaze locked to Tayshaun’s. “We just met about six weeks ago, but I can’t seem to shake him. He keeps showing up in my bed.”

A distinct crimson stained Jesse’s cheeks and half of his beer had been drained even though he’d only been gone for minutes. Chuck grounded himself in those details as he stared disbelieving at Jesse.

“Chuckie’s tenacious,” Tayshaun said. “Like a dog with a bone.”

“Tell me about it,” Jesse responded. “Tenacious and loyal—even when I asked him to keep us quiet.”

Chuck’s head spun. With Tayshaun across the table there was little he could say to acknowledge what had just happened, but he couldn’t let the moment pass unrecognized either.

He didn’t have to scramble for the words though, because Tayshaun was already leaning across the table. “Aw hell. You’re not out either, then?”

Jesse shook his head.

“Well”—Tayshaun grinned—“then I guess we have more to talk about than knees.”

“Guess we do.”

Then Jesse set his hand on Chuck’s thigh and squeezed.

Chuck felt the echoes of that touch for the rest of the night. He nursed the beer Jesse had bought for him until the contents were flat and warm, then stuck with water after that—wanting to remember every second of unguarded conversation. Every rumbling laugh Tayshaun elicited from Jesse. Every knowing glance Jesse sent his way.

When the lights flipped on to full power at the end of the night, Chuck embraced Tayshaun and promised to come see him again, and Tayshaun embraced Jesse with just as much warmth, extracting the same promise from him.

Chuck was sober and yet punch drunk.

He started up his truck and stared out the windshield, unsure what to say now that he and Jesse were alone.

But it was Jesse who finally broke the silence. “You and Tayshaun…? He isn’t the pro you were with, right?”

“No. He’s like my little brother,” Chuck said, watching Jesse’s shoulders relax with that answer. “If you really want to talk about exes right now I will, but Jesse— What you did in there…?”

Jesse shrugged. “After how cool Emily was, and spending this weekend with you…. I didn’t want to deny it, and Tayshaun felt safe.”

“He is.”

“All good things start with one step, right?” Jesse smiled shyly. “Or something like that.”

“Yeah, something like that,” Chuck repeated. He set his hand on Jesse’s nape and ran his fingers over the back of Jesse’s head. Jesse arched into the touch, his eyes slipping closed. As emotionally shocking as tonight had been for Chuck, it had to have been taxing for Jesse. “What do you want to do? Grab a hotel or drive?”

“Let’s see how far we can drive,” Jesse mumbled around a yawn. “I really do need to get back to work on Tuesday and I’d rather not be exhausted when I go back.”

“Britney it is, then,” Chuck said, letting go of Jesse and turning on his playlist.

Jesse chuckled lowly and reached for Chuck’s hand as they pulled out of the parking lot. He entwined their fingers and rested his head against the window, snoring softly before they even hit the freeway.

Chuck hummed under his breath. The energy from Britney and the warm, powerful hand in his was enough to keep him going well through the night.

Author S.A. McAuley is a wandering LGBTQ author who sleeps little and reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Her name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. She’s a dark/cynical/jaded person, but hides that darkness well behind her obsession(s) with shiny objects.

Connect with her:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSAMcAuley

Website: https://www.samcauley.com

Tumblr: @authorquestionmark

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Ly9Rv

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

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

 

Giveaway: Celebrate the release of OUT OF THE SHADE with author S.A. McAuley by entering this giveaway for a chance to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon Gift Cards!

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Need a New Contemporary Romance In Your Life? Check Out the Release Blitz for OUT OF THE SHADE by S.A. McAuley (excerpt and giveaway)

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Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

Publisher: Self-pub (S.A. McAuley, LLC)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 21, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 332 pages (print), 103k words

Subgenre: Contemporary

Warnings: alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting

Order now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QBNNR5N?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

 

Book synopsis:

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy—a cocky sports fan who drinks more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy—a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography—documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through—coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

Excerpt :

All-Stars was a dive. A worn-down shack on the literal wrong side of the tracks on the south side of James Bay. There wasn’t even a bouncer at the front door.

“This is my kind of place,” Jesse said as they walked into the bar. “Feeling those normal guy vibes.”

“Told ya.”

Tayshaun waved to them from a table at the other side of the packed room and Chuck acknowledged him before turning back to Jesse. “I’ll grab us a couple beers. Why don’t you go over and say hi.”

Jesse took a step, then hesitated.

Chuck raised an eyebrow as he surveyed one of the biggest, most physically intimidating men he’d ever met freaked over making conversation. “Just normal guys, Jesse, I promise.”

“The Bay’s quarterback is sitting at the table next to him.”

“Okay, so he’s kind of a dick. But you know all about dealing with those because of the Kensington boys.”

Jesse smirked. “Fuck you. Hurry up.”

Despite Jesse’s urging, Chuck took his time at the bar so Tayshaun and Jesse had a chance to talk. He chatted with a couple other Bay’s players who were seated there and by the time he made his way over to Jesse, Jesse was guffawing over something Tayshaun had said. Chuck slipped Jesse’s glass in front of him and took the seat next to him.

“We making friends here then?” he said.

“Your boy is sick, Chuckie. I like him.”

“No surprise there.” Chuck took a deep swig of his drink, the local craft beer rolling down his throat in a pleasant rush. “Did Jesse tell you he used to play in college?”

“Yeah, we were comparing notes on treatment for janky knees.” Tayshaun sat back and gestured between the two of them. “So how long you been together?”

Chuck froze just as Jesse’s eyebrows shot up and he gripped his glass with white knuckles, stammering, “We’re— Uh— We—”

Tayshaun thumped his beer against the table and winced. “Shit. I’m sorry. I assumed— And I— Shit. I should know damn well better, of all people.”

That brought stony silence to the table, but Chuck held his ground, waiting for Jesse to put the pieces together. While he hadn’t expected the topic to come up quite this way, he’d hoped Tayshaun would feel comfortable enough with Jesse to open up. Because Tayshaun was a regular guy, and….

Jesse leaned forward. “Wait. You’re gay?”

Tayshaun nodded. “My team knows, and so do the coaches. It’s an open secret as they call it. I don’t know if I’m ready to be the first out player in the league. Shitload of pressure.”

Chuck shrugged. “You’re a franchise player. It may be easier for you than others.”

“I ever decide to do it, then you’ll be the first I call. You’ll make my ass look like the masterpiece it is.”

“I’ll grab us another round.” Jesse excused himself and headed for the bar.

Chuck glanced at Jesse over his shoulder. He hadn’t outright denied anything between them, but he hadn’t confirmed it either. And even though he’d left the table, he wasn’t running for the door. How fucked up was it that Chuck considered avoiding a panicked exodus a win?

Chuck sighed.

It was also much too familiar.

“Sorry about that,” Tayshaun said.

All around that could’ve gone better, but he hadn’t been able to figure out how to broach the subject with betraying either Tayshaun’s or Jesse’s trust.

Chuck waved off the apology. He’d find a way to talk to Jesse about it later. “Your season’s going well.”

“Football is my life.”

“Guess that means you’re not seeing Nunez anymore?”

“We burned hot and sputtered the fuck out. Couldn’t find any time once he got traded. How about you?” Tayshaun tipped his head up. “You seeing anyone?”

Chuck downed the rest of his beer. “Yeah. And it’s—”

“Me,” Jesse finished for him, setting the beers down.

Chuck swallowed, the word complicated lodging unsaid in his suddenly dry throat. Had Jesse just…?

Jesse plopped into his chair, his gaze locked to Tayshaun’s. “We just met about six weeks ago, but I can’t seem to shake him. He keeps showing up in my bed.”

A distinct crimson stained Jesse’s cheeks and half of his beer had been drained even though he’d only been gone for minutes. Chuck grounded himself in those details as he stared disbelieving at Jesse.

“Chuckie’s tenacious,” Tayshaun said. “Like a dog with a bone.”

“Tell me about it,” Jesse responded. “Tenacious and loyal—even when I asked him to keep us quiet.”

Chuck’s head spun. With Tayshaun across the table there was little he could say to acknowledge what had just happened, but he couldn’t let the moment pass unrecognized either.

He didn’t have to scramble for the words though, because Tayshaun was already leaning across the table. “Aw hell. You’re not out either, then?”

Jesse shook his head.

“Well”—Tayshaun grinned—“then I guess we have more to talk about than knees.”

“Guess we do.”

Then Jesse set his hand on Chuck’s thigh and squeezed.

Chuck felt the echoes of that touch for the rest of the night. He nursed the beer Jesse had bought for him until the contents were flat and warm, then stuck with water after that—wanting to remember every second of unguarded conversation. Every rumbling laugh Tayshaun elicited from Jesse. Every knowing glance Jesse sent his way.

When the lights flipped on to full power at the end of the night, Chuck embraced Tayshaun and promised to come see him again, and Tayshaun embraced Jesse with just as much warmth, extracting the same promise from him.

Chuck was sober and yet punch drunk.

He started up his truck and stared out the windshield, unsure what to say now that he and Jesse were alone.

But it was Jesse who finally broke the silence. “You and Tayshaun…? He isn’t the pro you were with, right?”

“No. He’s like my little brother,” Chuck said, watching Jesse’s shoulders relax with that answer. “If you really want to talk about exes right now I will, but Jesse— What you did in there…?”

Jesse shrugged. “After how cool Emily was, and spending this weekend with you…. I didn’t want to deny it, and Tayshaun felt safe.”

“He is.”

“All good things start with one step, right?” Jesse smiled shyly. “Or something like that.”

“Yeah, something like that,” Chuck repeated. He set his hand on Jesse’s nape and ran his fingers over the back of Jesse’s head. Jesse arched into the touch, his eyes slipping closed. As emotionally shocking as tonight had been for Chuck, it had to have been taxing for Jesse. “What do you want to do? Grab a hotel or drive?”

“Let’s see how far we can drive,” Jesse mumbled around a yawn. “I really do need to get back to work on Tuesday and I’d rather not be exhausted when I go back.”

“Britney it is, then,” Chuck said, letting go of Jesse and turning on his playlist.

Jesse chuckled lowly and reached for Chuck’s hand as they pulled out of the parking lot. He entwined their fingers and rested his head against the window, snoring softly before they even hit the freeway.

Chuck hummed under his breath. The energy from Britney and the warm, powerful hand in his was enough to keep him going well through the night.

Author S.A. McAuley is a wandering LGBTQ author who sleeps little and reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Her name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. She’s a dark/cynical/jaded person, but hides that darkness well behind her obsession(s) with shiny objects.

Connect with her:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSAMcAuley

Website: https://www.samcauley.com

Tumblr: @authorquestionmark

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Ly9Rv

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

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

 

 

 

Giveaway: Celebrate the release of OUT OF THE SHADE with author S.A. McAuley by entering this giveaway for a chance to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon Gift Cards!

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A MelanieM Review: Strength of the Rising Sun (The Borders War #5) by S.A. McAuley

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5     ★★★★★

Strength of the Rising SunMerq’s always known there’s only one way Armise and he can end.

The Opposition is losing—both the war and the fight for citizen support—and the Revolution’s victory appears certain. Despite that success, Merq knows his leaders won’t let two of their greatest assets simply walk away. But with Armise fighting for his life, getting out becomes Merq’s primary objective.

Almost two decades of selfishness can’t be alleviated with one right decision, and Merq is faced with the reality of how deeply he has wounded Armise in ways that cannot be seen from the outside. Merq’s world has been upended more times than he can count and he’s always survived, but life without Armise is no longer an option. He just has to prove that to Armise.

Merq believes there are few who are strong enough to challenge them when they stand together. But when the secret Armise has been protecting Merq from is revealed, the truth has consequences neither of them can prepare for.

Reader Advisory: This book contains graphic violence, mention of torture and genetic experimentation.

I admit I approached each Borders War book with more than a bit of trepidation and sense of anticipation.  I would be hard pressed to remember a series that has more twisted layers, more betrayals and anguished losses than this one.  The Borders War series has  involved no less than a worldwide conflagration of countries, environments and humanity that has played out over five novels through the perspective of two warriors and the band of people around them.  Not always on the same side, certainly not at the beginning, or even numerous times (even in the same book) when no one knew what side each man was on, even themselves.

If this sounds confusing, in anyone else’s hands but S.A. McAuley this series and this relationship could have been a muddy mess, instead it became one of magnificent passion, love and commitment to each other in the face of obstacles (realistic ones within this world building) that should have killed them.  And often came close.

In the beginning, One Breath One Bullet (The Borders War #1), Merq Grayson was a high-ranking officer (sniper) for the Continental States.  His enemy was the Dark Ops officer from the People’s Republic of Singapore, Armise Darcan.  These  two had met over countless battle fields and covert operations, sometimes killing those close to the other man, and even coming close to killing each other, often inflicting near fatal wounds.  But there was something more there as well.  A building passion and undeniable connection between them that neither could understand or repress for very long.

McAuley builds this confusing, angry and often violent relationship through 20 years, five books and around some shocking, often personally shattering revelations to both men.  Its hard to describe just how magnetic these men and their lives become.  Sometimes so raw and wounded, you think their  pain will never stop. That is especially true here.  Sometimes the feelings flow cold and distant, than back strong and raging.  Through vivid descriptions and dialog that pulls you into the scenes, you become a part of Merq and Armise’s world and that often leaves you feeling as pain-filled and battered as they are.

Loss of humanity, scientific experimentation (willing and not) on soldiers, the ramifications of genetic/chemical warfare on the world environment…its all addressed here in some form, as a nuanced plot thread or a direct blow to the heart by the author.  Hard to be prepared for that.

But The Borders War is a magnificent series and it deserves its equal in a final story. It gets it in Strength of the Rising Sun.  This story was the equivalent of running through a narrative mine field, you just didn’t know it at the beginning.  Just when you thought the story was getting ready to settle down, another revelation would occur,  then another shattering scene, one so devastating in its impact that it took my breathe away.  I can’t even begin to give you even a smidgen of details or plot.  It wouldn’t make sense. You have to read the story and the ones before it. And when the ending came, well,  I cried buckets of tears for the men, but also of relief that the tension and agony of the narrative was gone.  You are so involved, you couldn’t pull  out of the story, even if you had wanted you.  You, Merq, and Armise to the end.  And what a ending it was.

I have no idea how S. A.McAuley will top this.  Not a clue.

So.  Love science fiction and enemy to lovers story?  Well, this is so much more.  It sexy, violent, passionate, layered, complex and agonizing on the heart at best.  But its one I  wouldn’t want you to pass up.  One of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2016.

Cover art by Posh Gosh shows a certain eventful scene in the story.  It might not work as well as a cover before you read the story but its perfect afterwards.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing  | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 198 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781784309954
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series The Borders War :

The world has only recently emerged from a three hundred year war which saw half of the world’s population wiped out and the rise of five superpowers. Despite the hundreds of millions who died, the Borders War was nearly bloodless because of the sonicrifle—weaponized sound waves, tuned to their highest frequency, and harnessed to kill.

Merq Grayson has known only war. He is a skilled Peacemaker, soldier, and sniper. And it is his destiny to right the wrong created by his grandfather six generations removed—the man who invented the sonicbullet.

Armise Darcan is his enemy. A sniper and Dark Ops officer who fought for the People’s Republic of Singapore in the Borders War, Armise may be the only person on the planet strong enough to keep Merq from completing his mission.

Their loyalties are to conflicting countries and diverging agendas, and despite the very real threat to their lives if they’re discovered, Merq and Armise keep finding their way into each other’s beds. It is a drive which Merq is sure will kill him one day.

But how much time either of them has is questionable. As Opposition is pitted against Revolution, the Borders War reignites, and Merq and Armise have to decide where, and with whom, their real loyalties lie.

Links to MelanieM reviews:

 

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Ruin Porn (Resonator #1) by S.J.D. Peterson and S.A. McAuley

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★
Ruin Porn coverKevin Rene can’t believe his luck when he’s personally “recruited” by Miah Thade, lead singer of Resonator, a rock band on the fast track to fame. He met Miah when his band was set to be the opening act in Resonator’s first tour, Made in Americana, but when his own band members showed up drunk and high, the deal was off, and Kevin and the guys were left to languish in LA. What Kevin didn’t know is that his songwriting talent and his musical abilities did not go unnoticed and Miah wants him as the group’s fourth.

Miah Thade, Finn Reese, and Ritchie Meyer are the three young men who grew up together in Detroit and together formed the band, nicknamed Rez. Also known as the Detroit 3, the friends rely on Miah’s good judgment and welcome Kevin, now renamed Evin by Miah, into their lives.

Not willing to rely on others for promo, Miah, always the leader and most ambitious of the group, spearheads efforts to use social media to move his band to stardom. They stir up their fans in each city they visit by tweeting and using other social networking sites and getting the crazy Rezors worked up to fever pitch. But as their popularity grows, the boys start to see the lack of privacy as one of the major costs of success. At times the close quarters and differences of opinion create havoc among the guys. Miah, an outspoken homophobe, can be the worst offender sometimes, picking on the guys unmercifully.

Ritchie, the peacemaker of the group, and the man who considers Miah his best friend, takes any negativity to heart. Flinching every time he hears a homophobic remark from Miah, Ritchie worries that Miah might some day find out that he’s gay, and if that happens, he’ll lose his best friend and the man he secretly loves.

Finn, a musical genius, has been raised by Irish immigrants who only want the best for their talented son and have given him every opportunity to learn all instruments and all musical genres. Extremely talented, Finn can play anything he hears one time, and coupled with Evin’s songwriting genius and ability to play bass to Finn’s guitar in the group, it makes for a dynamic musical partnership. It also provides the opportunity for the duo to spend extra time together, and considering how hot Evin finds Finn, it eventually leads to an explosive opportunity to satisfy their lust for each other.

As time goes on, and the secret gets harder to hide, the band members realize that if Miah had any idea that Evin and Finn couldn’t keep their hands off each other, he’d flip out. And if he ever found out that Ritchie was not only aware of the attraction between the others, but had also participated in a ménage with them, the friendship between the Miah and Ritchie would be destroyed and the future of the band would be in jeopardy.

So why can’t Evin and Finn and Ritchie just say no? Why take a chance on being together? And why can’t Evin and Finn communicate their true feelings to each other? Ritchie seems to be the only one who can see that Finn and Evin have moved beyond mere sex. And what transpires if someone happens to see them? The pot is stirred with enough ammo to cause a nuclear explosion within the group, and if it blows up, will the band survive?

I appreciated the way the authors engaged the reader with the characters and created the conflict among various members of the band, first with each other, and then with the band vs the outside world. I also appreciated the setup for a sequel (and I’ll be the first in line to buy it!), and I loved the resolution of the conflict, or at least the resolution for some of the band members’ conflicts by the end of the story. Any remaining conflict will make an enticing sequel.

I certainly recommend this book for those who enjoy rocker/musician stories, but even more for those who like a story where readers get engaged in the lives of the characters, unable to predict how they’ll act, but can laugh with them, cry with them, and be happy for them when they finally work their way through the crisis and come out the other side a better person.

The cover design by Paul Richmond shows a photo of downtown Detroit with the title Ruin Porn across the bottom of the cover. Ruin Porn is a term given to photos taken of a downtown area which used to be vital and now lies forsaken in the face of the decline of the auto industry in Detroit. The term was chosen by the Resonators to be the title of their first album because it represents their hope that everyone can learn from what appears to be ruin and destruction and, rather than wallow in it, use it as a catalyst for change.

I very highly recommend this story. These two talented authors have created something special that I won’t soon forget.

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

Book Details:

eBook, Paperback, 252 pages
Published August 28th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
original title Ruin Porn
ISBN 1634764676 (ISBN13: 9781634764674)
edition language English
series Resonator #1

Sometimes Love Needs A 2nd Chance-Check Out S.A. McAuley’s Where Wishes Go (excerpt and giveaway)

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WhereWishesGo4

S. A. McAuley
Book Name: Where Wishes Go

Release Date: October 2, 2015

Buy the book: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B & N | ARe | Kobo | Google Books

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Blurb

Can you have a second chance at a first love? 

Nick Paine is just starting to return to normal after he told his wife he’s gay and asked for a divorce. Despite a daughter he loves dearly and a job he believes in, part of him is stuck in the past. He’s never forgotten the first love he let fade away fourteen years ago.

Adam “Izz” Azzi has settled into a happy rhythm. His daughter is healthy, he’s found a mosque that accepts him, and his work as a modern artist is gaining international attention. While his past is fraught with mistakes and what-ifs, his life now is good, and he doesn’t want to upset any of the balance he’s worked so hard to achieve.

When Nick and Izz are reunited by luck and fate, their attraction is just as undeniable, but what was left unsaid haunts them. They have hope for a future together, but wishing may not be enough.
Pages or Words: 246 pages

Categories: Bisexual, Contempoary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt

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CHAPTER ONE

NICK PAINE tried to duck as a gigantic scarlet bird whipped over his head and he began to lose his balance. The first airborne attack was followed a second later by a screech and another swooping red streak that caused him to crouch and fall to his knees. At least he was wearing jeans today instead of a suit.

Katie snorted, let loose a torrent of giggles, and pointed. “He’s not going to hurt you, Daddy.”

“Isn’t it me who’s supposed to be telling you that?” Nick scrunched his eyebrows together and tried to chastise his daughter while also searching the birdhouse for further threats.

Katie rolled her eyes and flipped her long blonde hair off to the side, appearing much older than her eight years. “Come on, Daddy. I’ll protect you.” She offered her hand, and Nick grinned as he stood, taking her tiny hand in his.

It was a Wednesday morning, one in which Nick should have been sitting in a colorless conference room listening to doctors and administrators fight each other over inane operational details, but despite the threat of being pecked to death by tropical birds, Nick didn’t want to be anywhere else.

It was rare he was able to escape from work during the day, and this field trip to the zoo with Katie’s class had been the perfect excuse. The hospital system was always there. It was a twenty-four-hour seven-day-a-week commitment of utter chaos. Nick still wasn’t quite sure how he’d ended up as a vice president by the age of thirty-three, but had to concede his success had a lot to do with the inordinate number of hours he spent downtown. His generous salary was meant to compensate him for the endless hours on call talking nurses and cardiologists off the ledge while also making sure all their equipment and staffing needs were met. He loved his job and he was good at it, but it took him away from Katie way too much for his liking.

Nick pushed aside thoughts of the hospital. He would be flooded with e-mails, texts, and voice mail as soon as he switched his cell back on. Instead he listened to Katie patter on about the different kinds of birds that filled the zoo aviary.

“How do you know so much about them?” Nick asked as he forced his complete attention back to her.

Katie shrugged in a gesture that was too much like her carefree Uncle Roban. “I watch the National Geographic channel.”

“That much?”

Katie huffed. “Yeah, Daddy. A lot. Loads and loads.”

Nick restrained a laugh. Where had she come up with that phrase? She was growing up so fast. Much too fast for his liking. The years just kept slipping by, and as hard as his path had been as of late, Nick was grateful for the luck he did have. Katie was a beautiful girl. Tall and thin, just like her momma, she had blonde hair shades lighter than his that ran down to her waist and snarled easily with how fine it was. He’d given up attempting to brush the mats out a year ago, leaving the task to Katie’s grandmother or her nanny.

“Look at the baby geese!” Katie exclaimed, letting go of his hand and running full tilt down the pathway toward the birds. Then just as suddenly she was veering off again, a delighted squeal emanating from her. “A waterfall!”

Nick dug into his pockets as he walked to catch up, knowing what she was going to ask even before she said anything.

“I want to make a wish,” she pleaded, looking up at him with wide eyes.

Nick placed a quarter in her outstretched hand, earning a satisfied smile from her.

She scrunched her eyes tightly closed and whispered something Nick couldn’t hear, then tossed the coin into the water.

“What did you wish for, baby girl?” Nick asked, as was part of their routine.

“Daddy, you know I can’t tell you,” she protested with a pout. “Or else it won’t come true.”

Of course he knew that. Katie wanted to flip a coin into every fountain they encountered. And she always went about it as if her whole existence was placed into making that one wish come true. But she never told Nick what it was that she silently hoped for.

Nick had to wonder if she would remember this later on. If she would remember what she wished years from now, or at the very least remember enough to tell him later whether or not they came true.

Nick looked into her brown eyes—so much like his but with a fire that was all her own—and his breath caught. Yeah, he was just about the luckiest man in the world. She stood on her tiptoes, cupped her hands around his cheeks, and planted a kiss on his lips that left Nick with an ear-to-ear grin that he wouldn’t be able to wipe off for hours to come.

A PLOP of wet plaster slid down Adam’s head, over his neck, and dripped under the collar of his shirt as Miriam’s laughter receded into the next room.

Well, then. He supposed he deserved that.

He’d been leaving Miriam to her own devices for far too long as he worked nearly nonstop to meet his deadline. Left on her own, Miriam would fill her time with the mischievous, surreptitious, and wicked dealings that could only be born of an Azzi. She was quiet like him, shy at first meeting, with the same black hair and chiseled features that stood out despite her age. Also like him, she was a goof when in her comfort zone, and Adam’s loft—even though it was a professional workspace—was one of the places she was most comfortable in. She had unlimited access to paints, pens, pencils, paper… and the plaster she’d just chucked at his head.

Adam picked up a stained rag and swiped the plaster off the back of his neck. “Miriam!”

He turned on his stool, rotating to face the kitchen area where Miriam peeked her head around the corner, hazel eyes wide and innocent. But Adam knew better than to be fooled by her appearance. He crooked a finger and pointed to the spot next to him.

She crawled on hands and knees, her eyes going Disney forest creature in size as she got closer to him, and Adam had to bite back a laugh. When she got to his feet, she sat with her legs crisscrossed, hands on her knees, and waited patiently for him to say something.

She was such a good kid. Wild at times, yes. But he’d been the same when he was her age. Unlike his upbringing, though, he was never going to allow Miriam to fear what kind of punishment she would receive. To others it might have made him seem like a soft father, but Adam had rules that were nonnegotiable and rules he expected her to challenge and break. He was always fair. Consistent. And he never touched her in anger. That alone made her childhood vastly different than his. Adam was going to protect her innocence as long as he possibly could.

“Miriam—” he started.

“Yes, Baba?” she interjected, then bit at her bottom lip.

Adam sighed. Whether it was genetics or environment, she was so like him it scared him some days.

“Why did you throw plaster at my head?” He asked the question in all seriousness, then heard how ridiculous it all sounded, looked at the growing smirk on his daughter’s face, and that was enough to send him into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Adam swooped her off the floor and hugged her to his chest, tickling her ribs. Miriam squirmed and protested, her high-pitched giggle filling the studio.

“I love you, Miri,” he said as he squeezed her tight.

Miriam tucked her head into Adam’s neck and pulled her arms in so Adam had her wrapped securely.

“I love you, Baba.”

Adam’s heart was full almost to bursting. The laughter was enough to give him a second wind. He needed to work. He had to get this sculpture done. But he didn’t want to let his little girl go.

“Finish, then play with me, ’kay?” Miriam offered.

Adam started to tear up. She knew him better than any person in the world. This brilliant, vivacious, too smart for her own good little girl was his best friend. And Adam wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“Yeah, yeah. No more plaster, though,” he chastised her, then kissed the tip of her nose.

Miriam rubbed her nose in protest and squirmed out of his arms, already retreating at full speed. On to another adventure.

Adam sank onto his stool and turned back to his sculpture. Less than three weeks until his next show. And this piece, the focal point of the entire fiasco, had to be done by then. But Adam found himself pushing the work off. He sought inspiration and didn’t find it. He would rather not show it at all than display something that was so… incomplete.

He picked up his brush and studied the form, then put the brush back down. His fifteen-year high school reunion had been last weekend and he’d had no desire to go, but the memories had been inescapable regardless. It was those memories that had led to this piece…. Led to this creative fog he couldn’t force himself out of.

He would eat first. Maybe they’d take a walk. He’d do his afternoon prayers with Miriam, grounding himself in the tradition of his faith. He wasn’t as active in his practice as his mom was, but he still found strength in the words and tenets. In Islam, he found calm, and a connection to his family and to something that was greater than him.

Then, maybe then, his head would be clear enough to see this project to its end.

 

CHAPTER TWO

“NO, ROB,” Nick said definitively into the Bluetooth mic above his driver’s seat.

“Come on, dude!” Roban yelled on the other end of the phone, and Nick had to turn down the volume on the car speakers because of the sheer volume of the accent-tinged wail. It was only when Rob was really excited or drunk that his Indian accent started to slip through.

Nick took a deep breath and rested his elbow on the armrest. “This is my first day off in five months. I want to spend it with Katie.”

“She’ll be asleep—” Roban started at the same time that Katie, from the backseat, said, “I’ll be asleep, Daddy.”

Nick frowned. Well, then. Apparently the wee ones were joining forces on this one.

“Roban—” he tried again.

“Niiiick,” Roban answered.

Nick stole a glance in the rearview mirror where Katie was strapped into her seat. She had her arms crossed and a disapproving scowl on her face that would make her Uncle Daniel proud.

“Fine,” he relented and Roban gave a much too excited whoop in response. “I’ll go out. But not too late. I have to be at work early.”

“You’re always at work early,” Roban reminded him. “Live a little before your cardiologists drive you into a heart attack.”

“Fine,” he repeated. “But I’m going to drive.” He could try to keep some measure of control over the situation.

“Nope. We’re cabbing it. I’m getting you fucking wrecked. Shit, sorry, Katie,” Roban backtracked, as if he was just remembering he was on speakerphone.

“No worries, Uncle Ro,” Katie yelled from the backseat.

“That’s my girl. Now, Nick. I expect to see you in something else besides a button-down shirt and tie. We’re going downtown. Mayhem will ensue and you must be appropriately attired.”

“It’s a Wednesday,” Nick reminded him.

“Willful Wednesday at the Screamin’ Shillelagh,” Roban responded with a laugh.

Nick stopped at the red light and hung his head in defeat. “Can’t we stay in the burbs?”

“I’ll pick you up at eight” was all Roban said, then his car notified him the call had ended.

Nick shut off his cell and threw it into the passenger seat, then pulled away when the light turned green. Roban would be the death of him. At the very least, the odds were in their favor to end up in a full-on street brawl after closing time. Either way, it wouldn’t be a boring night. Nick chuckled to himself.

“Who do you want to come stay with you, baby girl?” he asked Katie as they drove toward home. Katie was twirling her hair, deep in thought, when Nick glanced back at her. “What is it?” he asked with an edge of worry.

“Can you call Momma? See if she’ll come stay with me?”

Nick restrained a sigh and tried not to feel defeated at the sadness in Katie’s voice.

“Yeah, baby girl. I’ll call her when we get home.”

All laughter wiped away, Nick gripped the steering wheel and steeled himself for the call he was going to have to make.

RC

About The Author

Meet S. A. McAuley:
I sleep little, read a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. My name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. I’m a pretty dark/cynical/jaded person, but I hide that darkness well behind my obsession(s) for shiny objects. I’m the macabre wrapped in irresistible bubble wrap and a glittery pink bow, I suppose.
I have a never-ending-abyss-like secret love for poetry. Especially Rumi, Hafiz, and Neruda. You can predict (as well as change) my moods and my writing schedule by my playlists.
Insomnia is my greatest ally and my nemesis. I like cheese and bourbon, not necessarily in that order, but I’m flexible.
If you’re in any fandom, then I’m probably already in love with you. I’m not joking.
I like my tv shows marathoned and I have to use internet blocking software to be productive. I have software called Producteev that I loaded onto my laptop and proceeded to fill out in detail and now I haven’t touched it in a year.
I enjoy normalized chaos.
Hit me up! I love to hear from readers. xx
Where to find S. A. McAuley:
Social Media Links
Website/Blog | Instagram | tumblr |Facebook |Twitter
Email: authorsamcauley@gmail.com
Authorgraph | Goodreads | Amazon
Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Bike Book Reviews, Bayou Book Junkie, Kimi-Chan, Havan Fellows, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Happily Ever Chapter, MM Good Book Reviews, Mikky’s World of Books, Andrew Q. Gordon, My Fiction Nook, The Jena Wade, Molly Lolly, Louise Lyons, Iyana Jenna, Dawn’s Reading Nook, It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Velvet Panic

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Giveaway

Enter to  win a Rafflecopter Prize: Signed paperback copy of ‘Where Wishes Go’ by S.A. McAuley.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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A Mika Review: Where Wishes Go by S.A. McAuley

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Where Wishes GoCan you have a second chance at a first love?

Nick Paine is just starting to return to normal after he told his wife he’s gay and asked for a divorce. Despite a daughter he loves dearly and a job he believes in, part of him is stuck in the past. He’s never forgotten the first love he let fade away fourteen years ago.

Adam “Izz” Azzi has settled into a happy rhythm. His daughter is healthy, he’s found a mosque that accepts him, and his work as a modern artist is gaining international attention. While his past is fraught with mistakes and what-ifs, his life now is good, and he doesn’t want to upset any of the balance he’s worked so hard to achieve.

When Nick and Izz are reunited by luck and fate, their attraction is just as undeniable, but what was left unsaid haunts them. They have hope for a future together, but wishing may not be enough.

Low-angst, sweet contemporary story featuring a second chance love.

I really enjoyed this story, with an amazing cast to go with it. I read this in one sitting straight through, that’s how much I liked it. I feel that Where Wishes Go by S.A. McAuley lacks the passion that I require with stories like this. Very low-angst, and I love the second chance romance. I just wish the passion was there between Nick & Adam. I expected it to be fire once these two settled through their difference, instead I just felt like it was coasting through passion wise. 

Both guys deal with pretty much different aspects of their past, but they are able to move forth and understand what happened all those years ago. I liked the idea of Adam being of a different race and religion outside of being Catholic. I loved seeing his Islamic religion being accepting of him as a person, as well as his sexuality. And I liked that both guys had children. I think children in stories show a different side of their parents personalities.

I love the side characters as well. I hope some of them can get little novellas of some sort. All in all, I think the author did a good job with this story. I’d recommend to all.

Cover Art by Paul Richmond. I think it’s nice from an artistic standpoint being that Adam was an artist, but for me as a buyer, the cover isn’t that revealing. I wanted to see what this book was about in this instance I had to read the blurb.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 246 pages, also  paperback
Expected publication: October 2nd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634764728
edition languageEnglish