A MelanieM Review: Rain and Whiskey (Stormy Weather #1) by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

rain-and-whiskeyGalen Frost buys a house and a bait shop in a small Florida town to get away from his life as a semipro football player. When he meets good-time bartender Shane Barton, the heat between them is instant and intense—like the burn of good whiskey.

Galen and Shane don’t have much in common beyond their healthy libidos and their love of a good time, but the intoxicating heat brings them together like rain on the ocean, whipping up a frenzy of weather… good and bad. When trouble blows ashore, they will have to ride out the storm that breaks between them as Galen’s past rears its ugly head.

I first read Rain and Whiskey way back when so I was beyond delighted to get reacquainted with Len and Shane of B.A. Tortuga’s Stormy Weather series.  Turns out  I had missed them something fierce.

From the moment Shane and Galen lay eyes on each other in Miss Lynn’s bar where Shane is tending bar there is no keeping these two apart!  In true Tortuga style, they almost combust right on the bar floor but make it to Galen’s new home in the swamp and Bait shop.  Its heat, sweat, and sex…all delivered in that wonderful Tortuga vernacular and style!

Shane grabbed a bottle of Cuervo and started pouring a round of shots, laughing at Vic’s lame-assed joke about titty bars and avoiding Old Man Roberts’s roving hands, all the time moving to the music, knowing his ass in those jeans in the big mirror behind the bar? Money in the bank, baby.

Everybody who was anybody stopped by, chatted him up a second, grinning and trying to talk over the music. Jake kept giving him that “how do you do that,” stupidass, monkey-face look. Shit, he’d been tending bar here for a good long time— since spring break in ’95, just under seven years ago. He’d come down to play with a couple three baby faces from college and sorta got stuck in the sand and the surf and the good life.

He was thinking he’d not go home after his shift tonight. He liked the crowd, liked the band, and got his booze for free. That way he wouldn’t have to deal with that… smell in his apartment.

Whatever the hell it was.

“Can I get a whiskey?” He could hear that voice right through the music, maybe because it had a drawl that wouldn’t quit. Brown eyes, cowboy hat pulled low, and tall enough to lean right over the bar.

Oh, hello.

It doesn’t matter whether the person talking is a Florida conch or a Tennessee  country boy, Tortuga has the sayings and dialog that flow from their lips just right.  It fluid and natural without sounding corny, unless of course that’s her intension.  This author has the ability to throw you not only into the characters but the location and the local culture as well just by a few utterances by a person, no matter their importance.  It’s right there in the “Miss Lynn”, “Old Man Dewey’s bait shop”, and what’s in those ever present coolers outside. Nothing is left to chance.

Part of what I love about these stories is learning about the characters as we go. That slow reveal, the peeling back of layers. The spark is instantaneous but both men take the time to get to know each other.  That includes why a semi pro football player is down in the swamps with a bait shop.  This story is chock full of sex but its being had by very believable men.

For those who like some angst with their romance, there is an element of that here for you.  Its realistic and well done.  There’s also a bit of kink here too.  These are some hot, feisty men who can’t keep their hands off each other.  So be prepared for lots of sex.

As  I said, I was so happy to see this back, and that mean the next will follow.  Normally you find B.A. Tortuga’s men out west, but don’t miss out on Shane and Galen residing in the swamps in Florida.  I absolutely recommend them.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  I liked the cover.  It works for the story.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 220 pages
Published October 7th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 1st 2005)
Original TitleRain and Whiskey
ISBN 1634775694 (ISBN13: 9781634775694)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesStormy Weather #1

A MelanieM Review: Roughstock: Blind Ride – Season One by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Blind Ride cover 2Jason Scott is at the top of the field in his career, that of professional bull riding.  Jason, along with his traveling partner and best friend, Andy Baxter, are riding the circuit, both hoping to finish at the top of the boards and win enough money to see each of them set for life.  Jason and Bax have been dancing around the fact that they are crazy about each other.  Each is afraid of losing his best friend if they admit how much they actually love each other. It will take something huge to make a change in their relationship.

Being a professional bullrider is a dangerous game and in one horrible instant everything changes for both Jason and Bax.  When a ride on one of the top bulls goes wrong, an injury to Jason’s head causes him to go blind. Reeling, Jason and Bax retreat to Jason’s family ranch to recover and wonder what’s next for them both.  For Jason, it appears his life is over and he has nothing to live  for.  Bax is determined to prove him wrong, both personally and professionally.

Bax thinks Jason can ride the bulls even blind.  But it will take Bax, his love and their small circle of friends to prove to Jason that even blind bullriders have their life and love ahead of them.

I have a huge fondness for both the Roughstock series and its author, BA Tortuga.  So it pains me when I have to report that this story, while having so many of the great qualities I have come to expect from this series, is guaranteed to frustrate the reader to the point that it is hard to recommend it. First let’s look at the merits of this story.

The characters are wonderful.  Jason “Mini” Scott and Andy “Bax” Baxter are typical of the cowboys you will find in the stories of B.A. Tortuga.  Their personalities are so authentic to the bull riding circuit and the locale that I would also expect to run into them at any PBR event.  They become so real that they feel like a part of your family.  And it is this intimacy that connects the reader to them and their futures.  You feel the dust that coats them as they pick themselves up off the arena floor and the pain their profession inflicts upon their bodies.  They are just so realistic that you hurt for them.  And Tortuga is one of the best authors around when it comes to dialog.  The words that issue out of the mouths of her cowboys ring with authentic local flavor and colloquialisms.  And it does so without being hokey or off sounding.  Here they are heading down the road to get supper:

Bax threw his duffel back, too, sliding into the driver’s side. “So, where to? I figure that one little place where you circle your order will be closed.” “There’s that one place by the highway — about twenty minutes out. It’s nothing but old ranchers taking their women out. Nice T-bones.” And he always got tickled by those tables with the ads printed on them. Reminded him of going to auction with Pa-paw.

“That works.” The big dualie slid right into traffic like an elephant into a herd of zebras, Bax muscling them right in.

They scooted down 35, radio blaring. He found a pack of smokes in the console and lit one for Bax, then got himself one. Three days of rest, then Tulsa.

“You think we ought to try and hit home ‘fore Tulsa?” It was kinda eerie sometimes, the way Bax read his mind. Then again, they’d been on the road together for nigh on six years.

“We can. Momma’d like to see us. ‘Course, we could go on to the city. Goof off. Depends on how much you want Momma’s pineapple upside down cake.”

“Oh, I’d rather go see your momma.” That man did have a sweet tooth. Pineapple upside down was Bax’s very favorite.

“Cool. I’ll call her. Let her know we’ll be in.” He took a deep drag, grinned. Lord, lord. “I hope your knee’s up to riding fence.”

“Shit, you know it. Just don’t ask me to walk fence.” Wheeling around a little Honda, Bax started humming with George on the radio, off tune as anything. “Nah. You wouldn’t be worth shit in Tulsa, then.”

They both hooted, and Jason leaned back, easy in his bones. Man, event win number three. Check in his pocket. Him and Bax heading for steak.

Life, she was good.

Of course, we know it’s all going to change and soon.  But in that short exchange we see the ease and contentment of Jason and Bax’s relationship.  It sings of a friendship long established and perhaps much more.

And once they fess up and go for a full romantic relationship, it is still in keeping with their cowboy ways and personalities.  No flowers here.

 It was like a good ride, all motion and want and spinning. He tried to warn Bax, tried to let the man know he was gonna be way quick off the mark, but it wasn’t happening. And it didn’t seem to matter one bit. Bax was pushing him on, making these amazing noises, just as hot for him as the Fourth of July.

Their relationship is hot, sexy, and emotionally deep.  How we fall for them.

Pretty much everything works here for much of the story.  The narrative suffers a bit from almost too much sex.  We want more of Jason coming to grips with his blindness.  And we want to see exactly how Jason, with Bax and Coke’s help, will learn to ride again.  At one point, even Bax remarks that he and Jason have sex instead of talking.  OK, but as a reader, while I love the hot sex, I want more of the relationship that produces it.

After all I have been through with Jason and Bax, feeling side by side with them on their emotional rollercoaster, I want and deserve to have the emotional payoff I expect at the end of the story.  And that is exactly what’s missing.  No “aha” moment, no ending.  Nothing.  It just stops prior to Jason ever getting back up on a bull, even one on his friend’s ranch.  The emotional reward, the moment everything has been building up to never happens. Frustrating? You betcha.  And totally unexpected from this seasoned author.  And it is this aspect that dragged the rating down to a 3 star rating.

So who should read this book?  Well, hard core fans of B.A. Tortuga for one as well as fans of the Roughstock series.  Coke, AJ, Bax and Jason are the core characters of the Roughstock series so its good to have this part of the story.  But that lack of ending just makes me want to grab a beer and go watch some PBR instead of continuing to bemoan what could have been an outstanding book.

Cover art by Posh Gosh.  I like this cover, it feels more representative of the story and characters.  Terrific job.

Sales Links:  Pride Publications |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, Pride Publications (a LGBT imprint of Totally Bound, now Totally Entwined)
Published July 7th 2015 by Totally Bound Publishing (first published January 1st 2007)
original titleRoughstock: Blind Ride – Season One
ISBN139781784306397
edition languageEnglish
seriesRoughstock #1
charactersJason Scott, Andy Baxter settingUnited States

Books in the Roughstock series:

Roughstock: Blind Ride — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Give it Time: the Seven of Wands – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: And a Smile — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Doce — A Roughstock Story – Novella, m/m
Amorzinhos — A Roughstock Story – Novela, m/m, threesome
Roughstock: File Gumbo — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Roughstock: And a Smile — Coke’s Clown – Novela, m/m,
Shutter Speed, A Roughstock Story: the Seven of Pentacles – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: City/Country – Novel, m/f
Roughstock: Picking Roses – Novel, m/f
Needing To: A Roughstock Story – Novella, m/m

Upcoming Roughstock Novels
Roughstock: What She Wants – Novel, m/m/f
Roughstock: Tag Team – Season Two – Novel, m/m
Roughstock: Terremoto – Season Two- Novel, m/m

Roughstock Shorts:
Cowboy Christmas (Coke and Dillon)
Barbed Wire and Bootheels (Sam and Beau)
Some Good Doctoring (CB and Jonesy) – Free Read

 

Mix it Up with B.A. Tortuga’s Deconstructing Channing Book Tour and Contest!

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Today our focus is on a blog favorite, B.A. Tortuga, and her latest shifter release, Deconstructing Channing!  It’s a M/M/F story and typically Tortuga hot!  Enter to win an eBook copy of Deconstructing Channing by using the Rafflecopter link here or at the end of the magnifying glass and bookpost!  Happy Reading all! Don’t forget, you must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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Book Name: Deconstructing Channing
Author Name: BA Tortuga

Author Bio:
Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds, getting tattooed, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing porn sites in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife (still amazing to say that), Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has gone to the high desert mountains and fallen in love. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.

Author Contact:

deconstructingchanning_msrTitle:  Deconstructing Channing
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Cover Artist: Kelly Martin
Pairing: M/M/F menage

Sales Links:   Ellora’s Cave          Amazon
Blurb:
When they were young together back in their werecat pride, Bowie and Channing experimented with love and sex, as well as flirting with a threesome with their best friend, Emma. Channing and Emma both ran from their needs, leaving Bowie to break away and find his own life. Now a confident master dominant, Bowie discovers Channing again through a video of a consummate sub, one who Bowie knows he needs to find once more.

When Bowie shows up on his doorstep, Channing feels like a teenager again, all confusion and need. He doesn’t date his own kind, only humans, and he’s not in the market for a full time master. Bowie is impossible to deny, a force of nature, and while both men know they’ll have to think about Emma eventually, now is the time to see if they can get to know, and love each other, all over again.

Excerpt:

The trip was designed to give him time. Time to figure out what he was going to say to Channing Lanier when he saw the sorry son of a bitch again.
He could start with “Hey, you rat bastard. Amazing how you came out after you dropped me like a hot rock.” That would be fun. Or maybe, “I thought you weren’t into spanking and bondage, and your precious asshole was sacrosanct, but now you’re a bottom in the underground BDSM scene,” would work better.
Bowie wouldn’t even be going to see said bottoming asshole if it wasn’t for the flyer tucked neatly away in his briefcase.

Tawny Catnip.

Seriously?

Their Emma was a fucking stripper?

A Vegas stripper? The revue was touted as a classy burlesque show and topless nightclub called Catnip Crazy.

Hell, the crazy thing was that both of his ex-lovers had called him a goddamn perv.

Him. Because he’d wanted them both. Because he’d wanted Emma over his lap. Because he’d wanted to see Channing bound and on his knees between the both of them.

Fuckers.

BlueBadgeChanningTour Dates: 8/27/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Cate Ashwood, Inked Rainbow Reads, Andrew Q. Gordon, Prism Book Alliance, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Fallen Angel Reviews, Love Bytes, the Twins: Talon ps & Princess so, Iyana Jenna, Tara Lain, Wake Up Your Wild Side, MM Good Book Reviews, Carly’s Book Reviews, The Hat Party, Michael Mandrake

Rafflecopter Code to win an eBook copy of Deconstructing Channing...
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Review: Adding to the Collection (A Roughstock story) by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Adding To The Collection coverCloseted rancher Derrick Stahlman has always had a thing for professional bull riders.  Once a year he treats himself to a small vacation to watch the PBR Finals in Reno and get himself laid in the process.  This year Derrick has a chance to watch a young bull rider he has been following on the circuit, Stone Haverty.  Everything about that small firecracker of a man turns Derrick on like nothing in recent memory.  And a specific kind of memory to take back to the ranch and keep him warm is just what Derrick is pursuing.

Stone has been doing well this year and his rides have put him in the money and top 20 rankings.  Stone also happens to be gay, although quiet about it because of the PBR sponsors.  When he spots that handsome rancher cheering him on from the fan seats in the stadium, he recognizes a kindred spirit, and a big sexy one at that.  The men come together for a couple of days of white hot sex and major snuggling before parting ways with a quiet “come see me if you are in the area” from Derrick.  And then at Christmas time, Stone appears at Derrick’s ranch and Derrick has some big decisions to make and maybe make his dream come true in the process.

First a little bull rider history.  If you aren’t familiar with PBR (here that doesn’t stand for Pabst Blue Ribbon but Professional Bull Riders, Inc.) then you are missing out on a wonderful group of athletes often overlooked outside certain sections of this country.  A professional bull rider is someone who has to remain on the back of a bucking bull for 8 seconds.  Within that 8 seconds, the rider will be judged on control and rhythm in matching the movements of the bull,  and at the same time, the bull is equally being judged for their performance. their athletic ability to buck off the rider with high jumps and unexpected  twists.  It is athlete versus athlete, rider versus bull but here the riders average around 5’6″ and a hundred and more pounds versus these amazing bulls weighing in at  close to a ton or over.  Needless to say, it is the bull rider who often comes off the worst in this contest of skill, will, and might, hopefully walking away with no more than a bruised ego and behind to show for a ride lasting less than 8 seconds, sometimes much worse happens.  Not surprisingly, this is a young man’s sport with the average age being in their twenties.  Countries like Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico each have their own PBR tours and bull riders from all over the world come to participate in the World PBR Tour.

B.A. Tortuga knows her bull riding.  B.A. Tortuga also writes some of the best regional voices in the business.  Her characters conversations are flavored with  colloquialisms that never fall over the edge into parody.   It certainly helps that she knows her roughstock and bull riders like the back of her hand too.   Here is her description of Stone Haverty:

“Short, lean, but not bird-like, Stone was a little nut-brown dynamo with a pair of blue eyes that looked like lasers, glinting from under the brim of that straw hat. That callused, scarred hand worked resin into glove and rope, up and down, mimicking an action that made Derrick’s mouth dry.”

Two sentences that so fully describe this man you could pick him out of a crowd.  Here is Stone’s first impression of Derrick:

“Solid and broad, with hands that would be rough and hard on a man’s skin…This one looked like he didn’t get to town much. Oh, the boots were clean, and the hat was obviously expensive, but the guy scanned the crowd like he was starving, like he had a powerful itch.”

Derrick is a lonely, closeted rancher from California who collects bull riding memorabilia on his annual trip to the PBR Finals in Reno.  He accepts that his lot will be that of a man lacking a real romantic relationship in order to live the life he has on his ranch, although he dreams of much more.  I loved solid, grounded Derrick and wanted much more of his backstory.  Stone too only gives us hints as to what drives him.  He comes from a huge family and is the baby of a family of eight brothers but you get the feeling that there is much more to his story than is revealed here.  We get realistic glimpses of the hardships that come with competing on the circuit too, the lack of insurance and rootless existence can mean in the long run.

The sex scenes are hot, desperate in their need,  funny and totally realistic.  I mean you are laughing along with the men as pants get stuck on boots and clothes refuse to fly off the way they do in the movies. And you will hurt with them too as the injuries arrive.  These men breath and bleed, laugh and hump so authentically that you expect them to climb out of the pages.

My only quibble with this story is the length.  It just cries out for a much longer version so all the requisite back history of these men and their journey to this point in their lives is layered into this story to finish it out.   At 60 pages, it is just enough to “wet our whistle” as it were but not enough to fully satisfy.  I hope B.A. Tortuga revisits this couple and lets us in on how they are faring.  I loved my short visit with them and am ready for the rest to follow.

Cover: Cover illustration by BS Clay is lovely and pertinent to the story

BA Tortuga. Adding to the Collection (Kindle Locations 83-87). Torquere Press.

The Week Ahead in Reviews

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Well, I hate to throw this out there but this coming week is full of things I don’t like to talk about, mostly doctors appointments.  I would much rather dwell on things like the arrival of Spring, plants I want to establish in the gardens, the latest antics of my terrors three, and what knitting projects are in the pipeline. But sometimes I just have to face up to the fact my health takes priority, even over the Caps and the Nats. So if things don’t exactly arrive as scheduled, this is the reason.  Just saying.

I want to finish out Charlie Cochrane’s Cambridge Fellows series over this week and the next, so grab onto that box of tissues and be prepared. I also have the latest Josh Lanyon book he self published after his year off.  This week I am also posting books from favorite authors like B.A. Tortuga and K. A. Mitchell that were reviewed for Joyfully Jay’s Jock Week.  I know you will enjoy them as well. So here is the schedule as planned.

Monday, Feb. 25:              Lessons In Trust by Charlie Cochrane

Tuesday, Feb 26:                Blood Red Butterfly by Josh Lanyon

Wed, Feb. 27:                     Life, Over Easy by K. A. Mitchell

Thursday, Feb. 28:           Adding To The Collection by B. A Tortuga

Friday, Feb. 29:                 All Lessons Learned by Charlie Cochrane

Saturday, Feb. 30:             Scattered Thoughts On Authors, Conventions and Hurt Feelings

 

In the meantime I have become familiar with the music of Kaija Saariaho,  In “Lonh”, a work for soprano and electronics, Saariaho combined a medieval love poem with bells and bird song to arrive a composition both memorable and eerie.  What do you think?