Review: Designated Bottoms by B.A. Tortuga , Katey Hawthorne , Julia Talbot , Sean Michael, Shannon West, Kiernan Kelly , K.C. Wells

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5
designatedbottoms700Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who’s happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!  Inside the covers, you will find seven stories by seven terrific authors, each with a different bent on the subject of love, romance, and bottoming.  They are:

➤Czech Me Out, by BA Tortuga, Korde discovers what it’s like to fall for someone when food truck owner Josh takes on the cowboy virgin.

➤The Mistell by Katey Hawthorne who’s gamer grad student Paul doesn’t date. He keeps things strictly physical. So why is Sammy so important to him ?

➤Faster Bobcat by Julia Talbot. A Lynx shifter and stripper Aleks doesn’t mix business with pleasure, but he thinks Rafe, a jaguar shifter, might just be the master for him.

➤Little Square of Cloth by Sean Michael.  Peter isn’t sure about the club his friend takes him to, especially when Doms start hitting on him. Experienced Dom Rupert is happy to help, explaining about that little piece of cloth stuck in Peter’s pocket .

➤Sgt. Hardass by Shannon West. A recent ex-Army man Jake meets up with a man he has history with, and Chad isn’t sure he can explain himself and defuse Jake’s anger.  Explosive?  Absolutely and also very hot.

➤ Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly.  Prince Liam and longtime friend Deacon have to go back to Deacon’s Appalachian home, much to the prince’s dismay. What happens when royalty and the plain folk of the Applachians clash?  Can love be far behind?

➤ Switching It Up by K.C.  Wells. Jay knows he looks like a twink, but only hunky Dean understands that looks can be seriously deceptive.  When twink meets hulk, who comes out on top? Or bottom?

What a fun anthology!  Each story presents a totally different take on romance and challenges to love.  There is something and some story for everyone to enjoy!

It starts off light and swift with BA Tortuga’s Czech Me Out.  Korde and Josh had me wanting to reach for a Kolache or two.  I felt it was missing a little substance in the boys back histories but still found it loads of fun.

Katey Hawthorne’s gamer lads of The Mistell are wonderful.  It’s funny, current, and you will love these nerds on the path to happiness and love.  I learned what a mistell is and the ones Katey Hawthorne created had me snorting. I loved Paul, Samir, and the rest of the WW gaming group.  At the end I also wished that a certain sweet, if dim ex would also find his HEA.  Maybe the next story.  This was one of my favorites.

Faster Bobcat by Julia Talbot had me purring like a kitty.  Loved both Aleks who needs structure and the hot jaguar shifter who supplies it along with love.  Put this one at the top.

Sean Michael’s Little Square of Cloth is Sean Michael doing what he does best.  Making BDSM seem hot, and exactly right for the people involved.  In this case, Peter gets more than he ever expected when a friend plays a prank on him.  Sean Michael lovers, this is for you!

Sgt. Hardass by Shannon West is a that bit of angst missing in the other stories.  West delivers a painful breakup, and even more painful reunion and hot makeup sex!.  This is one of the stories I wish had been a little longer.  The characters were well done but I needed more about Chad and Jake to make their reunion and  rapid reconciliation feel real.

I adored Kiernan Kelly’s Prince of Paupers and wanted much, much more of this story because of the small touches and comedic elements she included.  More of Alfred the butler and the grubby little boy. That scene was priceless!  Or Liam down in the “holler” learning why there is no “George” pig to go along with Ringo, Paul, and John. Still giggling over that one.  I need a full on, enlarged version of this story and so will you.  This is my favorite of the anthology.  And it ended way before I was ready for it to be resolved.

The last story, Switching It Up by KC Wells had me a little perplexed for a while.  I thought the author was heading in one direction with the romantic interest and she was headed in another opposite direction.  Was it a case of red herring or was it just me?  Not sure but it threw me off just enough that I didn’t enjoy it as I might have.  Still, its a fun story and make a good addition to this anthology.  Don’t think I would have ended the collection with it however.

My ratings  fluctuate between a 3.75 and a 4.5 for the stories individually (you can guess which is which).  That averages out to a 4 rating overall.  I do recommend picking this anthology up!  It’s stories are fun to read, highly sexy, and some will definitely leave you giggling and wanting more.

Cover art by Anne Squires.  I love that cover.  Great design and yes, what a great bottom!

Buy Links:     Torquere Press           All Romance eBooks (ARe)             Amazon                  Designated Bottoms

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 253 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Torquere Press
ASINB00M8Y421Y
edition languageEnglish

Bottoms Up? On Tour with the Designated Bottoms Anthology – Authors Katey Hawthorne, Kiernan Kelly, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, BA Tortuga, KC Wells, and Shannon West! (contest)

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Top? Bottom?  Let’s find out more with the wonderful group of authors whose stories can be found in the new m/m anthology, Bottoms Up!  

To celebrate the release of Bottoms Up, Pride Promotions and the authors have brought along a $25 Amazon Gift Card to give to one lucky person.  To enter to win, visit HERE for the entry form and all the contest details.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.   Contest information repeated at the end of the post.  Contest ends 8/6.

Book Name: Designated Bottoms
Author Name: Katey Hawthorne, Kiernan Kelly, Sean Michael, Julia Talbot, BA Tortuga, KC Wells, Shannon West

Author Bios:

Contributors:

BA Tortuga: 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, 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 responded to the call of the high desert mountains. 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. Find her at http://www.batortuga.com

♦Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills. Find Katey at http://www.kateyhawthorne.com/

♦Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex.

A full time author, Julia has been published by Torquere Press, Ellora’s Cave, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at her website  

♦Sean Michael: Often referred to as “Space Cowboy” and “Gangsta of Love” while still striving for the moniker of “Maurice,” Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and persuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to “Chicago.”

A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.
Barring any of that? He’ll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

Sean’s available for interviews, by the way. He can always be talked into, well talking about himself. Find Sean at http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com

♦Shannon West: Shannon West currently lives in the South with her husband and family. A lover and avid reader of M/M romances, she began writing them a few years ago and now has over forty short stories, novellas,and novels to her credit. Her series about wolf shifters, the Dark Hollows Series and the sci fi series, Love Slaves of the Alphas, produced sixteen bestsellers with four of them going to number one on the third party sites. She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013, a nominee for best sci fi series in the Love Romances Café and very honored to be named an All Romance ebooks top ten author for 2013. She writes BDSM and some ménage as well. She loves men and everything about them, and believes that love is love, no matter the gender. She mostly spends her days at the keyboard, trying to elude housework, which stalks her relentlessly.

Links:   Website     
Twitter: @shannonwest8
   Amazon Author Page  Facebook

♦Kiernan Kelly: Kiernan Kelly lives in the wilds of the alligator-infested U.S. Southeast, slathered in SPF 45, drinking colorful tropical, hi-octane concoctions served by thong-clad cabana boys.

All right, the truth is that she spends her time locked in the dark recesses of her office, writing gay erotic romance while chained to a temperamental laptop, drinking coffee, and dreaming of thong-clad cabana boys.

Sigh.

To date, Kiernan has over a dozen novels in print and ebook, and a plethora of short stories in both formats.

Links:   Website      Facebook  email: KiernanKelly@KiernanKelly.com

♦KC Wells: Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C.Wells always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way.

K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, where the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings – writing about men in love was even hotter…

K.C. now writes full-time and is loving every minute of her new career.

The laptop still has no idea of what hit it… it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.

K.C. can be reached via email (k.c.wells@btinternet.com), on Facebook or through comments at the K.C. Wells website  K.C. loves to hear from readers.

designatedbottoms700How Bottoms Up Came To Be:

So, what happens when you get a bunch of m/m writers together on a panel at a steamy little convention called Authors After Dark in Savannah?

In this case, we all sat around with the readers who came to our panel and chattered and laughed like idiots, and we talked about what we liked to read and write. There was a lot of smutty puns, and it was all fun and games until someone uttered the fateful phrase, “Right, and every story has to have a designated bottom.”

The writer and editor in me both went, “ooooh”. And I said, “Hey, does anyone want in on an anthology for next year with this theme?”

Enough of the writers at that panel, and a few who weren’t, said yes, and Designated Bottoms was born. When I sent out the call, this is what I said.

You’ve heard about Designated Drivers? Well, what about a Designated Bottom? The theme is open to all m/m stories where one man is a designated bottom boy, Whether self-imposed or by the Dom/lover/alpha of the pack or simply (either true or not) by society. Feel free to play with burly bottoms who surprise the deceptively sweet top, or with the too-smart kid who’s the pushy bottom to end all bottoms. BDSM is fine, but not mandatory. A bottom may simply like to catch instead of pitch.

The stories I received delighted me. From a first-time cowboy and his new lover to a hardass Sergeant falling for a determined young soldier, from a hot gamer geek who doesn’t date to a sweet young thing on his first visit to a BDSM club, there’s something for everyone. There are princes and paupers, werekitties and strippers, and skinny twink-looking tops and big, gentle bottoms. They all left me fanning my hot cheeks and smiling at how the end result was two men in love, no matter how they got there.

The authors in Designated Bottoms have all reminded me why I fell in love with m/m as a genre damned near fifteen years ago, and of why I’m still writing, and publishing those stories today.

We’d like to dedicate this book to all the readers at Authors After Dark who thought this collection was a great idea, and to all the readers who keep us going every day by reading our books and letting us know they like them! I hope y’all love these stories as much as I do!

XXOO

Twitter: @torquere
Cover Artist: Anne Squires
Publisher: Torquere Press Inc
Buy Links:      Torquere Press        

Blurb:

Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who’s happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!

In Czech Me Out, by BA Tortuga, Korde discovers what it’s like to fall for someone when food truck owner Josh takes on the cowboy virgin. Katey Hawthorne’s gamer grad student Paul doesn’t date. He keeps things strictly physical. So why is Sammy so important to him in The Mistell? Kitty shifter and stripper Aleks doesn’t mix business with pleasure, but he thinks Rafe might just be the master for him in Julia Talbot’s Faster Bobcat.

Sean Michael’s Peter isn’t sure about the club his friend takes him to, especially when Doms start hitting on him. Experienced Dom Rupert is happy to help, explaining about that Little Square of Cloth. In Sgt. Hardass, by Shannon West, recent ex-Army man Jake meets up with a man he has history with, and Chad isn’t sure he can explain himself and defuse Jake’s anger. In the Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly, Prince Liam and longtime friend Deacon have to go back to Deacon’s Appalachian home, much to the prince’s dismay. And in Switching It Up by KC Wells, Jay knows he looks like a twink, but only hunky Dean understands that looks can be seriously deceptive.

Excerpt:

From Czech Me Out by BA Tortuga:

Josh had texted the fine cowboy as early as he felt comfortable doing it. He’d waited until nine. He figured it was gratifying that he got an immediate response.

“Noon?” he’d sent, and when he got an affirmative, he’d send his address. Then he set about making lunch.

He could tear that sweet body up, turn the Marlboro Man inside out and make Korde like it. He would soften the guy up with a few barbecue-filled potato skins… Barbecue, the redneck aphrodisiac.

Josh grinned. He’d swayed more than one hot little cowboy with his special sauce and some crispy potatoes. Of course, he’d never asked one to come to his house before, and certainly hadn’t gotten so interested so damned fast.

He’d never changed his sheets and made sure he was stocked with lube and rubbers, either. Not on a not-even-a-first-date. Lord. He was hopeful today, for sure.

Hopeful, horny and… oh, man, he needed an ‘h’ word…

The doorbell rang, saving him from having to be too creative. He told his cock to stay down for a bit and went to answer.

Frack and Frick were yapping their damn fool heads off, wagging and bouncing. Silly mutts. “Y’all get down.”

Josh opened the door a few inches. “You’re not afraid of dogs are you?”

“Not even a bit.” Korde leaned down and gave scritches, easy as pie.

Those two beagle-shepherd monstrosities went nuts, yodeling and wagging and begging.

 

 

DesignatedBottoms600x600BannerBlueTour Dates: 7/30/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Cate Ashwood, MM Good Book Reviews, Decadent Delights, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Prism Book Alliance, Regular Guys, Hot Romance, Full Moon Dreaming, The Hat Party, Fallen Angel Reviews, Amanda C. Stone, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Love Bytes, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Havan Fellows, Jade Crystal, Wicked Wolves and Dreaming Dragons, Iyana Jenna

 

Contest:  $25 Amazon Gift Card.  Enter to win below:

Rafflecopter Code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get Your Wild On with BA Tortuga’s “Wolf Run” Blog Tour (contest incl.)

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ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is focused in on BA Tortuga’s latest release, Wolf Run, an m/m/m romance by one of my favorite authors.  BA Tortuga has, without doubt, one of the finest ears for regional dialects and a western settings as demonstrated by her many novels, cowboys and bullriders.  She also loves her shifters and has combined the two here in her latest story. Don’t miss out on the excerpt below.

Contest:  To celebrate, visit here – a Rafflecopter link, to be entered to win an ebook Copy of Wolf Run by BA Tortuga.  Must be 18 years of age or older and follow the rules and regulations as stated.

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Book Name: Wolf Run
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 partner, 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 is feeling the Colorado mountains calling. 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 Links:

Website: http://www.batortuga.com
Twitter: @batortuga

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Wolf Run coverBook Details:

ebook, 106 pages
Published June 4th 2014 by Resplendence Publishing
ISBN139781607357803
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8/669-978-1-60735-780-3–wolf-run-by-ba-tortuga.html
Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Buy Links:  Respendence      Amazon   ARe

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Blurb(s): Mick is a lone wolf in all ways. He’s left his pack, he’s left his homelands and he’s on the road, footloose and fancy free. Well, at least until he wanders up to a fence and finds a little wolf running his ass off behind it. Mick stops to let the pup out and is stunned to hear the young wolf, Scotty, tell him “no”. Scotty’s mate and best friend, Danny, asked Scotty to stay behind the fence, so he will be safe while Danny fights to support them both. All this leaves Mick’s fur standing on end. Maybe, Mick doesn’t need one mate to bring him home. Maybe, he needs two.

 

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Excerpt:

He dropped his wolf form as soon as he was out of sight, his body lengthening into a biped. “Dude, why are you in a cage?”

The pup yelped and scrambled back, leaping onto the porch.

“Hey, I’m not here to hurt you. I can open the gate.”

The pup looked at him then boom, a lovely lean man stood there, shaggy blond hair curling around his face. “H-hey.”

“Hi. Would you like to run? I can get you out.”

God, the kid was adorable and plenty old enough to play.

“Oh. Oh, no. Daniel would be so mad at me for getting out again.” Eyes the color of brandy caught the sun. “Daniel says I’ll get hurt, lost.”

“Does Daniel mistreat you?” Because Mick could beat someone down just for fun.

“Daniel? My Daniel?” The pup’s laugh was happy, joyous, the look on his face fond and warm. “Oh, no. Daniel loves me. He works for both of us. He brings me half his food every day. He’s a good mate. We… The Alpha said ‘too many males’, and we… Daniel pays for this home, he brushes me, he works all day every day.”

“Do you work?” Mick tilted his head, waiting, nodding in sympathy. Damn, it was hard for bachelor males to manage when thrust out on their own, especially ones who needed an alpha as much as this one did. It seemed like the kid barely held it together, at least on two legs. Sweet baby.

“I paint. I paint pictures, and I wash Daniel’s uniforms. I… I get… He follows rules better than me, and he can stop a shift, if he needs to. He can even work during the moon.”

Mick smiled, liking this kid a lot. “What’s your name, honey?”

“Scott. Scott Miller. What’s yours?”

Scott. It worked.

“I’m Mick Eagleheart. I like your belly. I kinda want to lick it.”

WolfRunBadgeTour Dates: 6/30/14WillPride


Tour Stops: Top2Bottom, Wicked Wolves & Dreaming Dragons, The Hat Party, Amanda C. Stone, My Fiction Nook, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Havan Fellows, Fallen Angel Reviews, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, MM Good Books, Parker Williams, Love Bytes, EE Montgomery, Prism Book Alliance, the Twins: Talon ps & Princess so, Redz World, Smoocher’s Voice, Renee George, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Decadent Delights, Up All Night, Read All Day, Dawn’s Reading Nook, It’s Raining Men, Iyana Jenna, Reviews & Ramblings, Sinfully Sexy, Lee Brazil, Cate Ashwood, and ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords!

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Again Contest: Rafflecopter Code:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7d5bb769/
Rafflecopter Prize: E-Book copy of Wolf Run

a Rafflecopter giveaway

January 2014 Summary of Books Reviewed

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Winter trees longs

The new years has started with an explosion of wonderful books and new authors for me.  SE Jakes and two of her marvelous series dropped into my hands and heart so I will be passing those recommendations on to you.  SA McAuley released a new contemporary fiction novel, Treadmarks and Trademarks, the start of a new series.  Ditto Susan Laine with her Sparks & Drops.  LA Witt inspired with her gender shifter novel Static, a must read for all.  Shira Anthony’s Symphony In Blue brought her Blue Notes characters together for a series holiday story, perfect reading for all lovers of romance and music.  Horror, fantasy and comedy are all represented here as well as a great non fiction tale by Joel Derfner, Lawfully Wedded Husband:How My Gay Marriage Will Save The American Family, a must read.

So many great books, see what stories you have missed, and make a list.  And don’t forget to check out the best book covers of the month at the end.
*Key:Winter_2
S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
HR-horror
N-Nonfiction
YA-young adult

Rating Scale: 1 to 5, 5 stars is outstanding
5 Star Rating:

Catch A Ghost by SE Jakes C, S
Long Time Gone by SE Jakes C, S
Static by LA Witt, SF
Symphony In Blue by Shira Anthony, C, S
The Engineered Throne by Megan Derr, F
The Fall by Kate Sherwood C. S

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Small Miracle Happened by Mari Donne, (4.5 stars) C, holiday
Dirty Deeds by SE Jakes (4.75 stars) C, S
Home for the Hollandaise by BA Tortuga,Julia Talbot *4.5 stars) C
Horsing Around by Torquere Authors, (4.5 stars) A, C
In Discretion by Reesa Herberth (4.5 stars), SF
Lawfully Wedded Husband by Joel Derfner (4.75 stars) N
Refined Instincts by SJ Frost, (4 stars) SP, S
Serenading Stanley by John Inman (4.5 stars), C
Sparks & Drops by Susan Laine (4.5 stars), P, S
Texas Christmas by R.J. Scott (4.75 stars), C, S
The Dreamer by M. King (4 stars), HR
The Lightning Moon by Sylvia A. Winters (4.75 stars) SP
Tread Marks & Trademarks by S.A. McAuley (4.5 stars) C, S

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Ashland by Lynn Lorenz (3.5 stars) SP, S
The Actor and the Thief by Edward Kendrick (3.75 stars) C, S
Tor by Lynn Lorenz (3.5 stars), SP, S

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

Dime Novel by Dale Chase (2.75 stars) H

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:  None

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Best Book Covers of January 2014

This month includes just an overall gold star to LC Chase whose great covers include the Hell or High Water series and Dirty Deeds.

InDiscretion_500x750Mindscape_500x750Sparks & Drops cover

Tread Marks and Trademarks cover

Static coverCatch a Ghost cover

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In Discretion by Reesa Herberth, Artist Simone’
Mindscape by Tal Valante, Artist LC Chase, who is having an incredible year
Sparks & Drops by Susan Laine, Artist Brooke Albrecht
Static by LA Witt, Artist LC Chase.  A Stunner with it’s Shifting Gender Person
Tread Marks & Trademarks by S.A. McAuley, Wilde City Press, no artist credited

Review: Horsing Around Anthology by Vincent Diamond, Jane Davitt, Missouri Dalton, Kiernan Kelly, Sean Michael, Aaron Michaels, B A Tortuga

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Horsing Around coverDo you have a love of horses?  Do cowboys make your heart beat faster?  From the fields of England to the dusty rodeo arena, here are six stories about that special bond  that can exist between man and horse.  Horsing Around contains stories by six wonderful authors, truly something for everyone.

Stories included:
Clear Round by Jane Davitt
A Secret in Indigo by Missouri Dalton
Ride Like a Stallion by Kiernan Kelly
For Love and Money by Sean Michael
Old Scars by Aaron Michaels
Loading Up by BA Tortuga

Horses have a special place in my heart so I adored this anthology.  But even if your knowledge or fondness of horses is slight, there is such a variety of stories included within that I  am sure you will find a tale to  love and connect with among them.  Here are my mini reviews of the stories  in the order they are found in the anthology:

1. “Ride Like a Stallion” by Kiernan Kelly  Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

This is a tale told from two very different perspectives.  One is Thomas Bone, a young man injured when he was a child on his father’s ranch.  The resulting injury permanently disabled him, leaving him with the nickname T-Bone and as the object of pity and derision by those around him.  The other?  That would be Gander, the “ugly” mixed breed colt, T-Bone pleaded with his father to save when the mare carrying him was having trouble with the delivery.  And despite everyone’s predictions and expectations, the two grow up together, becoming more than anyone could have imagined but not without some harsh

This story is  unusual as it includes the “voice” of Gander and his perspective on their story as it unfolds. This author’s use of Gander as a co narrator works surprisingly well, offering the pathos of his plight during the events that occur along with the love for “his boy”.  Also especially noteworthy is the spare, utilitarian rancher father.  He is such a strong character that his presence dominates each small scene he appears in, a man who will continue to surprise you throughout the story.  I have three favorites in this anthology and this is one of them.

2. “Loadin’ Up” by BA Tortuga.  Rating 3.75 stars

Kaycee Johns,  owner/trainer of rodeo bucking broncs, is loading his horses up to travel to the next venue when his nephew’s inexperience has one rearing, unwilling to enter the trailer.  Only the intervention of Julian Martinez, one of the new rodeo safety men, saves the horse and gets her settled and loaded without injury.  Their attraction to each other is immediately and lusty, leading to a white hot night of sex and just perhaps something more.

The paragraph above lays out the entire story.  They meet, have  sex, and decide to travel on together.   Succinct and sexy.  What elevates the story is the BA Tortuga signature voice and descriptions.  Here is our first impression of Julian.

“One of the safety men — a new kid, all braids and hawk nose and beaded chaps — looked up from where he’d been cooling down his buckskin and the rope flashed out, easy as you please. The kid caught June right around the neck, and she settled at the weight of an experienced hand. She wasn’t mean; she’d just get away with anything if you let her.”

From just a few words, we can see Julian so very clearly that almost nothing more is needed.  Combine that with her “colloquialisms”, and the regional portrait is clear and defined.

3. “Old Scars” by Aaron Michaels  Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Owen  Parker is working with one of his horses on his stable outside of Reno when Jerry appears to ask for a job.  Last time Owen saw Jerry was at the Nevada State Prison where Jerry was incarcerated.  Owen was filling in for a friend with the Nevada’s saddle horse training program for prisoners and Jerry was an inmate assigned to the program.  Now five years later, Jerry has survived his time and is looking for employment.

Owen’s specialty is mustangs, a wild, unpredictable horse not easy to train and  Owen just happens to have a horse that everyone else has failed with.  Ace is one scarred old mustang with one chance left to make it, but something about this animal reminds Owen of Jerry. Jerry had a special touch with the horses in the prison training system and before he can understand why, Owen is giving Jerry a job and Ace to train.  And there is the attraction Owen has always felt towards Jerry to consider.

Jerry realizes that this job with Owen and Ace might be his last chance to make it outside prison.  His love for horses and his feelings toward Owen being the things that kept him sane while incarcerated.  Can he save Ace, and in doing so save himself as well?

An exceedingly well written story, Michaels’ characters come to life amidst the dust and heat of a Nevada stable corral and the mustangs brought there for training and a new life.  The author’s sure touch with characterization carries over to the horses portrayed here as well.  Ace with his scarred hide and suspicious outlook, his “scars weren’t from whips or spurs, but from battles out in the wild”.  The affection the men feel for these wild horses is clear and telling, along with an appreciation for the mustang’s nature and natural history.  The men too come across as lean, whip cord tough, and wary as the horses themselves. Another one of my favorites here.

4.”Clear Round”  by Jane Davitt. 5 stars out of 5,

There is cause for an uproar in the village when the manor and field that is normally used by the region for their annual horse is sold to an “outsider”, a builder not favored for his plan for a new factory inside the village boundaries.  Appointed town messenger and beggar if need be, Danny Felden, owner of Merrydown Stables, visits the new owner, Seth Trent, to obtain use  of the field for yet another year,if for no other reason then he runs the event and his niece is entered in her division.  Unfortunately, Seth is uninterested and afraid of horses.  Undeterred, Danny manipulates Seth into a bargain for free lessons with Danny for the use of the field.   Sparks fly between the prickly Danny and the arrogant Seth, leading to romance and love.  But a disaster on the field leads to a explosive argument and separation.  It will take a clear round to bring the men back together and for love to prevail.

I adored these characters.  The dialog throws as many sparks as does the developing romance, with prickly and defensive Danny clashing with the smoothly arrogant Seth to everyone’s amusement and interest.  A clear round during a horse show is one free of errors, no missed jumps or knocked down poles, horse and rider working in unison for a  perfect round.  Its hard to do and a wonderful analogy for a romance.  I loved this story and think you will as well.

5. “The Secret in Indigo” By Missouri Dalton. Rating 4 stars out of 5

Traumatized by the loss of his lover in a fire, rider and horse trainer Beau is still in mourning for Patrick five years later.  Now working for a traveling circus, Beau helps to train and manage the horses for a sibling horse act.  Liam, the brother trick rider is interested in Beau, but Beau has no intention of opening himself up for more hurt and another love.  Then the past arrives to inform Beau that his boyfriend’s death was no accident.  With murder in the air and revenge on the mind, can Liam save Beau from his past and leave him open for a future with Liam?

This story starts off dramatically with a barn ablaze, screaming horses inside waiting to be rescued.  Missouri Dalton dumps us into the conflagration and the pain of the moment.  Its intense and scary and the rest of the story never lives up to the emotional  introduction and the events of the moment.  It picks up five years later with an emotionally withdrawn Beau, who drinks to forget, cut off from family and friends.  Our knowledge of Liam is limited, the return to Georgia a little too swift.  This story would have benefited from a longer length and more exposition.  Still, its got some stunner moments.  And horses, of course.

6. “For Love and Money” By Sean Michael  Rating 4 stars out of 5

Football star Deon Jerome, “linebacker extraordinaire”, is afraid of horses.  Now his agent has signed him to a lucrative ad campaign but the problem is that he must ride a horse for the ad and Deon is panicking big time.  Now he needs an old friend’s help, a friend whose phone number is memorized rather than listed on his cell phone.  Truck Wilson was a large animal vet and the closeted Deon’s occasional friend with benefits.

When Deon travels to Truck’s  home and farm  for help with his horse phobia, their old attraction flares into something more like love than just convenience and friendship.  With love before him warring with the fear of coming out, which will Deon choose?

Sean Michael’s gift of characterization is front and center in the men in this story.  Deon Jerome Green is a big man full of fear outside of the football field.  He is afraid of horses and he is afraid to come out as gay. But Deon’s need for Truck and the requirements of the commercial bring Deon to Truck’s for work on his phobia and a weekend of sex and togetherness culminating in a life changing decision for them both.  Michael gives us a realistic portrait of a man trying to come to grips with his fear of horses as well as being out about his sexuality.  It’s a sexy, compassionate and ultimately rewarding short story.

Consider this solid and varied anthology of horse stories highly recommended.  Great authors, with a variety of stories to choose from, truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Cover illustration by BSClay works extremely well for the stories within.

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages
Published November 13th 2013 by Torquere Press
ISBN 1610406079 (ISBN13: 9781610406079)
edition language English

Mid January Blahs and The Week Ahead in Reviews

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Winter trees longs

Normally I love Winter.  I love the contrast of the bare limbs of the deciduous trees and the lush fullness of the evergreens, the sounds of foxes crying for mates, the owls hooting in the night and the crystal clear night sky with some of the most beautiful and recognizable constellations in the Northern hemisphere.  Orion rises high, glowing bright with its two first magnitude stars, one of easiest of the constellations to learn.

But this year its different. It’s mid January and already I can’t wait for the month and indeed winter to be over.  Winter has not even been that bad here in the DC Metro area.  So many other regions have had it so much worse this season that to complain about what little harsh weather we have had seems like whining.  But these last few months have been filled full of stress and anxiety over health issues, mine and others, that I am looking forward to Spring.

I can’t wait for the new buds, returning warm weather and longer days that herald the return of the season of renewal and new beginnings.  My gardens start to come alive, the birds are singing for mates and territory as nest building begins.  Winston and I can once again count on our daily walks around the neighborhood.  Ice, wind, and the cold keep me inside for a number of reasons and Winston stays with me in total agreement.

When the weather is agreeable out we go. He loves his walks as much as I do, actually more.  His steps are jaunty as we step out the door, his head on a swivel and that marvelous natural tail is on a constant wag.    I have never had a terrier before with a natural tail as other my rescues, Kirby and Willow included,  came with the typical terrier docked tail, one that comes with the birth of the terrier breeds.  A docked tail that was used to pull the dogs out of the holes and places where they had run their prey to ground.

Now those  little tails can wag, don’t get me wrong because they can wag up a storm.  But Winston’s ?  When a rabbit is spotted, he is in ecstasy and around and around it goes until it starts to resemble a helicopter ready to lift off.  A most amazing sight, one guaranteed to lift one’s spirits and brighten the day in an instant.  This spring will be our first Spring together.  I can’t wait to see his reactions to our first walks into a new season and all that it brings.  Come on, Spring!

Now here are the books to be reviewed this week:

Monday, Jan. 13:     Horsing Around Anthology

Tuesday, Jan. 14:     Tread Marks and Trademarks by S.A. McAuley

Wed., Jan. 15:            The Lightning Moon by Silvia A. Winters

Thurs, Jan. 16:          Tor (WWF #1) by Lynn Lorenz

Friday, Jan. 17:          Ashland (WWF#2) by Lynn Lorenz

Sat., Jan. 18:               The Actor and the Thief by Edward Kendricks

STRW December 2013 Summary of Reviews and Best Dec. Covers

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Winter trees longs

December 2013 Book Review Summary and December Best Covers of the Month

December 2013 Review Summary

*Key:
S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
YA-young adult

5 Star Rating:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, C
Grime Doesn’t Pay: The Brothers Grime, Eddie by Z.A.Maxfield C,S
Oceans Apart by Laura Harner, C, S
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)by Laura Harner, TA Webb, Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows C,S

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Blue River by Theo Fenraven (4 stars)PN
Christmas Serendipity by Liam Livings, (4.25)C,
Continental Divide written by Laura Harner, Lisa Worrall (4.25) C,S
Indelible Ink by Marie Lark, (4.5) C
Kick Start by Josh Lanyon C,S
Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield (4.5)C
Mindscape by Tal Valante (4.5) SF, S
Model Love by SJ Frost (4.25) C
Roughstock: Tag Team – Fais Do Do Season Two  by BA Tortuga(4.25)C,S

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Christmas Wish by Mychael Black, Shayne Carmichael SN, S
Housekeeping by Kim Fielding (3.75) C
Ride-Off (Polo #2) by Mickie B. Ashling (3.5)C
2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
N/A

1 to 1.75 Star Rating: N/A

Best Covers of December 2013:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, cover by LC Chase
Housekeeping by Kim Fielding, cover by Paul Richmond (his M/M American Gothic)
Lost and Found by ZA Maxfield, Cover by LC Chase
Mindscape by Tal Valante, cover by LC Chase

Housekeeping

LostAndFound_500x750

Mindscape_500x750

Christmas Kitsch cover

Review: Roughstock: Tag Team – Fais Do Do by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Tag Team- Fais Do Do coverLandon Gaudet, also known as Nutbutter, is a little Cajun with a huge heart.  A horse whisperer, loyal friend and brother, a man of all trades at the rodeo including bull riding, Landon appears to be a happy person.  But he is missing one thing….his soulmate, the man with the three blue circles tattoo his dreams have shown him.  Landon’s twin sister, Lauren, is a well known Cajun healer who lives on their property in the bayou, has seen the man in her prophesies too.  But Landon is unprepared for the reality of the man his dreams has shown him, Adam Taggert.

Adam Taggert, one of the triplet Taggert brothers, is feeling his age.  Over six feet and over thirty, Adam competes with his brother, Chris, in the tag team roping events to accolades and top prizes.  Unlike the others in his group of friends, Adam has never settled on one person to love.  Instead Adam plays the field, moving from one person to another with all the speed of a bronc out of the gate.  His one regret is that he gave up Beau Lafitte, the cajun he lost to bullrider Sam Bell.  Unable to commit at the time, Beau has become Adam’s biggest regret.

At a party on Beau and Sam’s farm, Adam meets Landon and sparks fly.  And what starts out as a fling on Adam’s side starts to turn serious for both of them.  But obstacles, real and imagined, start to pile up and threaten to undo the fledgling relationship and all of Landon’s dreams.   With Adam’s family disapproving of Landon and Adam’s low sense of self worth,  can Landon and his dream of a life with his soulmate become a reality or breakdown under the weight of too much opposition.

Fais Do Do is a Louisiana country dance party and that’s the perfect title for a book about two completely opposite men dancing around each other, hoping for romance and a forever love.  From the opening paragraph, BA Tortuga plunges the reader into Cajun country and the patois of the bayou.  Here the cajun patter flows over the tongues of men such as Beau Lafitte and Landon Gaudet with a fluidity born of the bayou with its deep French origins.  And its not just the parlance, but the culture as well.  From pig roasts to voodoo, from swampy waters to small nut brown men, the Cajun culture (and BA Tortuga’s love for it) is embedded deeply throughout this story and the characters involved.  Here is a excerpt as Adam meets Landon at the party:

“You met Adam?” Sam Bell asked, leading Landon across the yard, the piles of bullriders and their women just filling the place up. Shit, the ropers and the family hadn’t even made an appearance yet. By midnight, the booze and the music would be flowing, and the whole bayou would ring.

Landon did love it here at Beau and Sam’s farm, more than almost anywhere, and Sister was here, Cotton and his gal Em. Even Adrian and Packer.

“No, sir. I mean, I knowed him good, oui? He rides and rides, but I ain’t never spoke to him, me.”

“Safety man. Like him. You.”

Landon nodded. Sam’s words got better every time they chatted together, and Landon was happy for it. Him and Sister, they prayed and lit candles for the man, spent hours on their knees with Maw-Maw’s rosary beads clicking. Sister’d even sacrificed a chicken for healing, pouring the blood out during the new moon to suck the sickness and hurting from Mr. Bell and into the dirt.

His sister was pure hoodoo, witchy as all get out, but he’d never met a better traiteur, or treater. Magical healer. Didn’t reckon he ever would.

“Adam. Cajun. Landon. Tag.”

Landon looked up, the sun bright as a penny, and the glow surrounded a tall, tall cowboy, making the man shine. Landon caught his breath, the universe spinning.

His dream. Shit fire and save matches. Ever since he’d been a boy, he’d done dreamed of this very second. Right here. Right now. The cowboy would have a light blue shirt on, a belt buckle from a 1999 roping championship. There’d be a tattoo on the inside of the man’s wrist when he went to shake — three blue circles ina row, touching. This was his cowboy. His family. The one meant to be his amant.

His. “Hey, kid.” Kid. Like he was some petit fils. “Comme ça?” “C’est bon.” Oh, the man knew some Cajun, did Adam. Landon held a hand out, and, sure as shit came from a goose’s ass, there was that ink on the man’s wrist, permanent. Three blue circles in a row. One. Two. Three.

This one was his, deep down. In his body cells. “Pleased. You want a beer?”

Adam smiled at him, eye lines wrinkling up like to catch the sunlight. “You legal to drink, boy?”

“Shee-it. I reckon.”

To drink. To fuck. To dance. To catch him the cowboy the bon Dieu offered to him.

He wasn’t no child. Not no more.

Adam looked him up and down, one eyebrow arching. “Well, then. C’mon. We’ll have us a couple three beers before things get crazy. These Cajuns, they’re nuts.”

“We is, us, for sure.” It wasn’t a bad thing, though. It was just a true thing.

You had to be crazy to love it here in the swamps.

Reading that passage you can almost hear the honey slow dialect of a man of the bayou, with hope in his heart for this man and their future.  Such a lovely way to start this story, with a dance, some beer and hope.  But as the author also grounds her characters in reality, any path to a commitment and love is going to be a long and complicated one, especially between two men so opposite each other, both on the social register and in outlook.

As with all her Roughstock stories, Tortuga brings in a number of elements to supplement the main romantic storyline.  Present are Beau Lafitte and Sam Bell.  Sam who is dealing with a near death accident in the rodeo arena, is still in recovering with his brain injuries.  Beau is trying to adjust to a difference in their relationship and Sam.  Coke Pharris, renowned bullfighter and his lover, Dillon Walsh, rodeo clown are involved with this group too.   All of these men have intermingled past histories, including that of Adam and Beau before he fell in love with Sam.  It helps to have read the core books in the Roughstock series because that will give the reader a foundation of knowledge with regard to this ever enlarging group of friends and coworkers.

It also helps to have some knowledge of a rodeo and the various events and jobs that go along with it.  Otherwise, a “safety”, the role of a clown or bullfighter, and other sundry terms and positions might fly over the readers head.  But if you have even a remote idea of the rodeo world,  then this series and book will make you want to fly out to the nearest event and climb into the stands for a better looksee at the men and animals that compete on a daily basis.  BA Tortuga has this universe down pat, and through these men, the reader will get an authentic feel for the hardship and passion the ropers and riders have for their  sport.

Tag Team – Fais Do Do has a couple of aspects to its story that might make people either uncomfortable or bogged down in the narrative.  There is some heartfelt angst that one character in particular will have to endure.  And it will be caused by the one person who is capable of inflicting such pain.  For some, it will lessen their connection to this character and that would be unfortunate.  Because I do feel that this is a pretty realistic if unpleasant viewpoint and might not be an uncommon as some would think in southern (or any) society.

The other is the colloquialisms or vernacular spoken by Beau, Landon or Laurel Gaudet, “Sister” as she is known.  It is pretty thick, just as musical and full of french words and phrases, enough to confound anyone not familiar with the Cajun dialect.   Here is Landon and Sister in their home:

“Bubba?”

Landon looked over at Sister, who was busily stirring the eggs. “Yes, ma’am?”

“You gon’ go be with him forever and leave me here alone, you think?”

His heart said he was in love with Adam, but Landon said what he knew to be true. “Sister, I ain’t never onced left you. Never once for always. I will take care of you ‘til the Rapture.”

They were twins. He wasn’t about to leave her with no way to take care of herself, and he needed to see her face. Half of him was missing when she wasn’t there.

Her dark eyes looked relieved, and she found a smile for him. “You think your man will like me?”

“Why wouldn’t he? You’re…” He searched for the right word, but fuck if he didn’t know one. “Laurel.”

She laughed, whacking him with one hand. “Uh-huh. Tell me about him.”

“Oh, lady, he’s fine. Tall and strong with these eyes like chips of rock and he can ride…” He sighed, seeing his cowboy up in the saddle, moving like Adam was one with the horse, like the wind itself.

“I knew he had to love horses.” She grinned, eyes dancing.

“He’s a cowboy. A real cowboy, not just a bullrider.” “Oh, Bubba. You have it so bad.” He put down the tack he’d been repairing for Albert and

looked over, serious as a heart attack. “He’s it, Adam. For me. I been dreaming on him my whole life. I ain’t sure I’mhis one. I fear that was Mr. Beau.” Laurel shook her head, dark hair all wild and loose. “Mr.

Beau was made to comfort Sammy in the black times, Bubba. I know that.”

Landon shrugged. “Sure. I know that, but we don’t know God, not for true. I think maybe he has a mean streak, giving people to the wrong folks. Mr. Beau is a good man, a Cajun.”

“Maybe your man, he just is a little stupid, eh? Maybe he got him some Cajuns crossed.” Laurel put her spoon down, came to him with open arms, hugging on him hard. “God ain’t mean, not a bit. The Devil, he’s a trickster and a liar and he fools folks, but God loves him us. I know that.”

“I want to believe that, Sister.” He rested his head on her, eyes closing.

“Then quit fighting it and do so.” She patted his back, her hands warm, and he could see why people came to her for the healing. Her touch felt soothing, and her voice held the surety of an angel who’d seen God’s face.

“Witchy woman.”

“Yessir, and thank God for it. Someone got to keep you boys whole.”

“Mmm.” He hugged her tight, absorbing some of her strength. “We need to get back to cookin’.”

“Yep. Need to make a soft cake for Auntie down the road. We got to pray over her bad tooth. I think it’ll take the both of us.”

He wrinkled his nose. Tooth stuff was always smelly. Still, he always helped when he could. “All right.”

“You’re a good man, Bubba.”

“You think so? I ain’t… You know I ain’t as book learned as all them boys I ride with.”

“Pshaw.” She put a hand over his heart. “You got all you need right here.”

“I sure hope so, Sister. I surely do.”

I love the way it sounds and is used to bring these marvelous characters to life.  But I also recognize that some readers will have trouble with the dialog, making it a barrier to the personalities instead of a path to who they are as individuals and as a rich culture grounded in geography and history.

My only real quibble is that I felt the resolution of the issues (huge ones) between Landon and Adam came about too easily considering the events that tore them apart.  At 185 pages, the author had plenty of time (and length) to extend the reconciliation out to a reasonable amount of time.   But that is it for quibbles, mostly.  There are some editing issues, with the wrong name used in a sentence when they are clearly talking about another character.  But overlooking those, this is a terrific story as is the series.  Consider this highly recommended.

Cover illustration by A. Squires is perfect for the story and series.  Great job.

Book Details:

ebook, 185 pages
Published September 25th 2013 by Torquere Press
ISBN 161040582X (ISBN13: 9781610405829)
edition language English

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
Roughstock: Tag Team – Fais Do Do Season Two – Novel, m/m

Upcoming Roughstock Novels
Roughstock: What She Wants – Novel, m/m/f
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

A Wintery Mix, Favorite Childhood Books, and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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We are expecting a wintery mix here in Maryland, rain, sleet, ice and snow all mixing together to create an equal mixture of beauty and angst.  Trees with limbs that glisten like diamonds to go along with downed power lines and people lost in the cold.  Joy mixed in with a little quiet reflection, softened by the grey skies of winter and clouds laden with snow.

Days like this bring back memories of winters past and winter stories I loved reading to my daughter and the children later at the nature The Winter Bear book Covercenter.  Stories like  The Winter Bear by Ruth Craft and Robert Frost’s Stopping Through The Woods On A Snowy Evening were a perfect way to convey the feelings and emotions brought on by the first snow or a cold, blustery day in winter.

The Winter Bear especially is still so close to my heart.  It’s simple story and the illustrations that hark back to the style of the original Winnie the Pooh never fail to move me.  A lost stuff bear is tangled up in a shrub looking worn , a little dirty and so very alone.  Its winter and the landscape is cold and barren.  Then a small group of children, siblings, finds the bear, gets him down and takes him home where they clean him up, Robert Frost's Stopping By Woods on a Snow Eveningdress in warmly and give that little bear a home with them.  It’s a spare, elegant and concise little story and yet it is so moving that it can still bring tears to my eyes as that last page as the children and little bear are snug  and warm in a little living room with the fire blazing and snow falling outside.  It was first published in 1976 and is hard to find.  But once found and added to your bookshelf, it will become a family treasure to bring out generation after generation no matter your religion or location.  Much like the other book that I love so well, Robert Frost’s Stopping Through the Woods on a Snowy Evening.  The illustrations are in black and white, with a splash of red in places, just glorious and perfect for this poem.  Children and adults alike love looking at them, watching the sleigh travel through town and into the woods with a surprise for the animals that live there.  And then there are those words….such memorable, wonderful words.  The last stanza is the best known..”.The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,But I have promises to keep,And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep.”  I have the entire short poem  at the end of the post today.  But those words and those illustrations together paint a memory portrait that draws adults and children into those woods time and again, a magic that is never lost.  Pick those books up and add them to your holiday collection.

Now I have a very special week ahead starting with a book that made my Best of 2013 within the first ten pages.  That’s when I started sobbing copious tears, a phrase perfect for the floodgate that opened upon reading Amy Lane’s latest book, Christmas Kitsch. Never have I been so moved by a character that quickly had me forgetting he wasn’t real.  Rusty, a wounded, glorious man child, whose open heart and mind is so transcendent that his story pulled me in not to release me until 3am, red eyed, snotty, and happy beyond belief that I had met him.  Amy Lane is running a contest and her author spotlight is Monday with my review of Christmas Kitsch is on Tuesday.  Thursday is a 4 book, 4 author Boys In the Band Blog Tour (and contest).  And Friday and Saturday…well if you have been reading the Pulp Friction authors and their combined series (City Knight, Triple Threat, Wicked’s Ways and Chances Are) then you are in for another treat.  The last book in all their series is a combined effort.  Odd Man Out wraps up all the stories of all the characters and is written by all 4 authors.  They have written a guest blog for Friday to talk about the last book and what’s coming in 2014 for Pulp Friction.  My review of Odd Man Out follows on Saturday.  And there is an amazing giveaway associated with this Pulp Friction Season Finale as well.  What a week ahead!!!!  Don’t miss out on a day of it!

Monday, Dec. 9:    Amy Lane’s Christmas Kitsch Blog Tour, Contest and Author Spotlight

Tuesday, Dec. 10:  Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

Wed., Dec. 11:          Tag Team: Fais Do Do by BA Tortuga

Thurs., Dec. 12:       Boys In The Band Blog Tour and Contest, Authors  L.A. Witt, Paula Coots, Rowan Speedwell, and Cecilia Tan

Friday, Dec. 13:       Pulp Friction Author Blog, Contest and Odd Man Out release

Sat., Dec. 14:             Odd Man Out by Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows, TE Webb, and Laura Harner, a Pulp Friction 2013 finale!

Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

ScatteredThoughts Summary of Reviews for November 2013

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November really was such an extraordinary month for books.  It almost makes me giddy with joy. I can’t remember when I last had more 5 and 4 star  rated books as I have had this month.  And their genres and plots ran the spectrum, from contemporary fiction to what I might best describe as fantasy horror, making this truly a rainbow month of great books by outstanding authors.

There are quite a few books that are a part of a series and should best be read in order, while others are stand alone pieces of fiction, with one or two in between in that they are a part of a series but could be read by themselves. It’s all in the reviews which I have linked to each title.

The holidays are upon us and ebook gift cards are a wonderful way of sharing books with those we love.  Make a list, check it twice to make sure you have the titles listed below on yours:dried flowers for november
November 2013 Review Summary

*part of a series

5 Star Rating:

Corruption by Eden Winters*, contemporary
Encore by Shira Anthony*, contemporary
Lessons for Suspicious Minds by Charlie Cochrane*,historical
Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux*, contemporary
Sweet and Sour by Astrid Amara, contemporary
The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin*, horror, fantasy
Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft, fantasy

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

After The Fall by L.A. Witt* (4 stars), contemporary
Bar None Anthology (4.5 stars) mix of contemporary, scifi
Close Quarter by Anna Zabo*(4.75 stars), supernatural
Family Texas by R.J. Scott*, (4.5 stars), contemporary
Good Boy by Anne Tenino*, (4.5 stars),contemporary
How I Met Your Father by LB Gregg (4.25 stars), contemporary
Illumination by Rowan Speedwell (4.5 stars), contemporary
Long the Mile by Ally Blue (4.25 stars), contemporary
The Retreat by BA Tortuga*, (4 stars), contemporary
The Stars that Tremble by Kate McMurray, (4 stars), contemporary

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Captive Magic by Angela Benedetti* (3.75 stars), paranormal
Hat Trick by Chelle Dugan (3 stars), contemporary
The Blight by Missouri Dalton (3.75 stars), fantasy

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
N/A