A MelanieM Review: In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.

Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.

Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.

Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?

Sometimes a story just resonates with you and In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray did just that with me.  From the location to the characters everything about this book is staying with me, taking me back to places, scenes, and people.  Reading this story became an almost visceral experience, my mouth watering through meals of local seafood, pasta, bread, and the ever present Granita al limone, my muscles ache in memory of the tortuous climbs up and down ancient steep stairways Seb walks worthy of mountain goats, and my mind and heart are envious of the sea, night stars and view that Amalfi affords the fortunate that visit and live there.

And while I’m luxuriating in all things Amalfi, I’m also deep into the characters of Sébastien Osaki and Andrea Sorrentino.  Seb grabs at your heart immediately as the point of view of this story.  On a personal journey of grief, loss, and just maybe recovery, he’s gone to Amalfi with his husband’s Henry’s travel journal, retracing Henry’s steps as Henry’s requested.  Henry was a travel writer and although he had been there ten years earlier, this time they would have gone together.  Now three years after Henry’s death, Seb is trying to find a way to move forward.   It’s a realistic, and deeply moving portrait of a man who still mourns his husband and has been mired in grief.  And you love Seb, he’s intelligent, self  depreciating, and kind.

Andrea Sorrentino is equally well drawn.  Layered, he starts off a bit “typical local Italian” but the joke is on us. Because that’s exactly the role he is playing up for the tourists.  He’s exactly…well, I won’t spoil that little revelation for you. He’s lovely, multidimensional, and  someone we can all connect with (and do).

Also, theirs is not a instant love relationship which I absolutely appreciated.  This is a realistic HFN.  It has to be because although they recognize they want to see where their feelings go, too much is new and there is also much that needs to be settled for them both.  A mature and adult ending to a mature and adult story!  Be still my heart!  It does let me beg the author for a sequel, however, so we can see how Seb and Andrea are doing down the road.  Pretty please?

And not  just Seb because there’s a whole cast of characters to care for here, including the “girls”, three woman staying at the Villa who became Seb’s  friends, listening boards, drinking and cards buddies and everything else.  Plus Lucy the manager, Andrea’s family…well, I could go  on and on….and I wish the book had too.  How I adored this story!

If you love contemporary romance, do not let this one pass you by.  It’s HFN but join with me in asking the author for a sequel.  Seb and Andrea cry out for their HEA!  In the meantime, I highly recommend In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray.

Cover Design: Tiferet Design.  The cover is simply beautiful and one of my favorites with  Seb in outline and the Amalfi coastline so vivid below.  Perfect.

Sales Link:  Amazon Kindle |  Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 212 pages
Published February 8th 2018 by Selina Kray
ASINB079329DCF
Edition LanguageEnglish

Review Tour : In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

 

 

Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Blurb
 

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.


Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.


Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.


Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.

Excerpt
 

Scent of sea and palm,

Craggy and ancient, a world

Bathed in saffron

– #17, In Blue Solitudes, S. Wilson-Osaki


“A. S’okay.” Bleary eyed and bone weary, Sébastien stared at the sign for two minutes before it registered. He kept his distance, glanced around the bushel of sun-ripened cab drivers and chauffeurs waiting to squeeze every last euro out of their charges, but no.


This was him. Smile so bright it blinded, like glare off a windshield. Footballer’s frame decked in team colors and too-tight shorts. Face Bernini could have sculpted. Hair black as an oil slick, greased into a neat, perfect slope. His tortoiseshell eyes twinkled in Seb’s direction when he took a cautious step forward.


Signor S’okay?”


“Osaki. Yes.”


“Ah, Osokay.”


“Osaki. O-sak-i. Japanese.”


“You fly from Japan?”


“No. Canada. Montreal.”


Si, si, Signor Osaki. Sebastiano.”


Seb opened his mouth to correct him but nodded instead. “That’s me.”


“Andrea Sorrentino.” He thumped a hand on his chest. “You want I take your bag?”


“Uh…”


Before he could decide, the driver clacked down the handle on his extra-fee-heavy suitcase and hefted it under his arm like an unruly toddler. “Vieni, vieni.” He dove into the crowd before Seb could get his bearings.


Spotting the clean line to the exit, Seb set his own pace, his tipsy head still mired in a post-flight fugue. Thirty-two sleepless hours, plus a morning spent tracing and retracing his path through the labyrinthine halls of the Rome airport to make his connection, left him listless. With exhaustion but also nerves. What had he been thinking, shipping off to a country he’d never been to and where he didn’t speak the language?


The answer, of course, was Henry. Who should have been there, propping him up with his rock climber’s arms, but also with his wonderment, the kid-in-a-candy store way he’d seen the world. Henry had puffed all his energy and excitement and fire into Seb’s lead balloon and—in his latest impossible feat—made him fly.


Clutching his backpack like a life preserver, Seb practiced his deep breathing as he waded through the stream of travellers. More of a trickle, really, now that he was in the flow. One foot in front of the other, he reminded himself, looking for a focal point. A taut jean-clad ass, with a carefree swagger all its own, lured him the rest of the way. Seb staggered out of the airport terminal…


… into a whole new world. The hazy afternoon sun swaddled him like a warm blanket. Ripe with the scent of palm trees and petrol, the parking lot was more social gathering than frantic hub, with drivers chatting, smoking, and laughing as they waited for clueless travellers to wander by. Stoic mountains—silent sentries at the gate to paradise—shadowed the horizon, rings of mist crowning their crater heads.


Woozy with relief, Seb lowered his lids to half-mast and basked in the moment. This was Henry’s world. He was safe.


A hulking black SUV screeched to a halt in front of him, blocking the view. Before Seb could decide whether to be terrified or outraged, his driver slid open the side door, beckoning him into his luxury air-conditioned chariot. Too polite to give in to the urge to collapse across the seats and zonk out, Seb stumbled into the nearest chair. His hands shook as he fought with the seat belt. Something about that fateful click brought the reality back home—he was trapped in a jet-fuelled coffin with a man who could barely pronounce his name, soon to be zipping down a highway where speed limits weren’t even guidelines, thousands of miles from home, by a world-famous volcano that once scorched everything for miles—


Hand on his knee. There was a hand on his knee.


Signor Osakay? You want I get you espresso? Water? Food? Is no trouble.”


“No.” Seb shut his eyes, sucked in all the air he could. “I… I’m just tired. Didn’t sleep on the plane.” When he opened them again, he met soft eyes shimmering with kindness. His exhalation came easy. So did his smile. What was his name again? Andrea Sorrentino. A gentle name, full of music.


Granita al limone. Un momento.” A squeeze to Seb’s knee, and he hopped out the door.

 



February 8 – The Novel Approach
February 9 – Booklove
February 10 – Gay Book Reviews
February 12 – MM Good Book Reviews
February 13 – Hearts On Fire Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
February 14 – My Fiction Nook
February 16 – Love Bytes Reviews
February 17 – Open Mind For A Different View
February 19 – Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Sarandipity Book Reviews

 

Author Bio

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.


Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.


If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net



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Release Blitz Tour – Selina Kray’s In Wild Lemon Groves (excerpt and giveaway)

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Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/WildLemonGroves
 
Length: 55,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Blurb
 

A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.

Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.

Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.

Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over?


Excerpt
 

Scent of sea and palm,

Craggy and ancient, a world

Bathed in saffron

– #17, In Blue Solitudes, S. Wilson-Osaki

“A. S’okay.” Bleary eyed and bone weary, Sébastien stared at the sign for two minutes before it registered. He kept his distance, glanced around the bushel of sun-ripened cab drivers and chauffeurs waiting to squeeze every last euro out of their charges, but no.

This was him. Smile so bright it blinded, like glare off a windshield. Footballer’s frame decked in team colors and too-tight shorts. Face Bernini could have sculpted. Hair black as an oil slick, greased into a neat, perfect slope. His tortoiseshell eyes twinkled in Seb’s direction when he took a cautious step forward.

Signor S’okay?”

“Osaki. Yes.”

“Ah, Osokay.”

“Osaki. O-sak-i. Japanese.”

“You fly from Japan?”

“No. Canada. Montreal.”

Si, si, Signor Osaki. Sebastiano.”

Seb opened his mouth to correct him but nodded instead. “That’s me.”

“Andrea Sorrentino.” He thumped a hand on his chest. “You want I take your bag?”

“Uh…”

Before he could decide, the driver clacked down the handle on his extra-fee-heavy suitcase and hefted it under his arm like an unruly toddler. “Vieni, vieni.” He dove into the crowd before Seb could get his bearings.

Spotting the clean line to the exit, Seb set his own pace, his tipsy head still mired in a post-flight fugue. Thirty-two sleepless hours, plus a morning spent tracing and retracing his path through the labyrinthine halls of the Rome airport to make his connection, left him listless. With exhaustion but also nerves. What had he been thinking, shipping off to a country he’d never been to and where he didn’t speak the language?

The answer, of course, was Henry. Who should have been there, propping him up with his rock climber’s arms, but also with his wonderment, the kid-in-a-candy store way he’d seen the world. Henry had puffed all his energy and excitement and fire into Seb’s lead balloon and—in his latest impossible feat—made him fly.

Clutching his backpack like a life preserver, Seb practiced his deep breathing as he waded through the stream of travellers. More of a trickle, really, now that he was in the flow. One foot in front of the other, he reminded himself, looking for a focal point. A taut jean-clad ass, with a carefree swagger all its own, lured him the rest of the way. Seb staggered out of the airport terminal…

… into a whole new world. The hazy afternoon sun swaddled him like a warm blanket. Ripe with the scent of palm trees and petrol, the parking lot was more social gathering than frantic hub, with drivers chatting, smoking, and laughing as they waited for clueless travellers to wander by. Stoic mountains—silent sentries at the gate to paradise—shadowed the horizon, rings of mist crowning their crater heads.

Woozy with relief, Seb lowered his lids to half-mast and basked in the moment. This was Henry’s world. He was safe.

A hulking black SUV screeched to a halt in front of him, blocking the view. Before Seb could decide whether to be terrified or outraged, his driver slid open the side door, beckoning him into his luxury air-conditioned chariot. Too polite to give in to the urge to collapse across the seats and zonk out, Seb stumbled into the nearest chair. His hands shook as he fought with the seat belt. Something about that fateful click brought the reality back home—he was trapped in a jet-fuelled coffin with a man who could barely pronounce his name, soon to be zipping down a highway where speed limits weren’t even guidelines, thousands of miles from home, by a world-famous volcano that once scorched everything for miles—

Hand on his knee. There was a hand on his knee.

Signor Osakay? You want I get you espresso? Water? Food? Is no trouble.”

“No.” Seb shut his eyes, sucked in all the air he could. “I… I’m just tired. Didn’t sleep on the plane.” When he opened them again, he met soft eyes shimmering with kindness. His exhalation came easy. So did his smile. What was his name again? Andrea Sorrentino. A gentle name, full of music.

Granita al limone. Un momento.” A squeeze to Seb’s knee, and he hopped out the door.

Author Bio

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.

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Selina Kray on the Historical Background for ‘Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo’ (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Selina Kray on her Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo tour. Welcome, Selina!

Hi, romance lovers! I’m Selina Kray, and this is the latest stop on the Stoker & Bash blog tour. A huge thank you to the lovely people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today. I thought I’d talk a little bit about some of the historical details in Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, in which burlesque isn’t really burlesque.

Say the word “burlesque” nowadays, and your mind conjures images of Dita von Teese in a giant champagne glass; sparkly, barely there outfits capped by a giant feather boa; or the camp-tastic film with Cher and Christina Aguilera. Erotic dance as reclaimed by fierce feminists unafraid of expressing their sexuality.

But back in the Victorian era, burlesque titillated both your body and your mind. It started as a way for working class audiences to poke some fun at the classics of theatre, opera, and ballet. The plays of Shakespeare, for instance, would be:

“…adapted into a broad comic play, usually a musical play, usually risqué in style, mocking the theatrical and musical conventions and styles of the original work, and often quoting or pastiching text or music from the original work.” (source: Wikipedia: Victorian Burlesque)

The actors would sing or speak in rhyming couplets, rife with bad puns, and the action of these parodies would often be set to the popular music of the time. Gender-swapping some of the characters was the norm. One of the most popular burlesque performers, Nellie Farren, starred as The Gaiety Theatre’s “principal boy” for over 20 years.

Eventually, theatres combined burlesques with more standard music hall fare, such as singers, comics, skits, dramatic monologues, and dances, into evening-long extravaganzas. The idea was not only to mock the haughty airs and impenetrable verses of classic plays and operas, but to dull some of the sharp-edged plot points of the tragedies. With names like The Bohemian G-yurl & the Unapproachable Pole and Cinder Ellen Up Too Late, you get the sense that audiences and performers alike had a wild, bawdy good time.

In Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, one of my characters is a burlesque performer at The Gaiety Theatre, which specialized in burlesque for 30 years. While I did research what parody was playing in that theatre in October 1873—only to be disappointed when I found out it was based on an opera—I decided to make up my own.

A performance of Robbing Hood and his Mercenary Men sets the stage for one of the most important encounters between the novel’s two leads, Tim and Hiero, and is the background for a lot of the action. So in addition to transporting you back to the Victorian era, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo will also take you to the punny wilds of “Sure Would” Forest.

 
Length: 100,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.


When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?


And just who is Hieronymus Bash?

 

 

Author Bio
 

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.


Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.


If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net

 

 

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