Love’s Path Takes a Curve with Bent Arrow by Posy Roberts (excerpt and giveaway)

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Bent Arrow cover

Bent Arrow by Posy Roberts
Release Date: September 3, 2015

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Publisher: Labyrinth Bound Books
Cover Artist: DJ Mack

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Buy Links:  Amazon | All Romance (ARe) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Sometimes curves in the road take you right where you belong.

Luther Almond’s life working the Bakken oil field is perfect—short-lived jobs, temporary housing, and easy hookups. That’s one reason he won’t move home when he inherits the lake house. When Erik Heat bends over to fix Luther’s pipes, his tattoos hint he might be up for more than working on the drain. The last thing Luther expects is to want more from this guy than one night.

Every time they’re together, Luther is more grounded and Erik more confident. When the lake house demands attention, Luther asks for Erik’s help. There he imagines a more permanent life, one where he stops running. But he wants Erik by his side. Can he find the courage—and the words—to ask?

Pages or Words: 20,000 words/65 pages
Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Erik had the quintessential plumber’s crack, but holy… it was not at all repulsive. And on his left ass cheek was a tattoo. From where Luther sat, it looked like an elaborate arrow, or at least the tip of an arrow pointing toward his ass. The rest disappeared under his clothes. Luther assumed it wrapped around his side, and he wondered what sort of fletching was at the other end. Did it end right above his cock, obscured by a dark thatch of pubic hair, or nestle in his V, just skirting his hipbone?
Luther stood up, grabbed a can of pop from the fridge, and stepped closer to study the tattoo. He spied a dark smudge right above the beautiful arrow tip and barely kept himself from bursting into laughter when he realized what it said.
Insert here was inked in faded letters, nothing at all like the professional thin lines of the quality arrow. This looked like the shit tattoos his high school friends gave themselves with a sewing needle and India ink before they were old enough to get a professional one. Or a prison tattoo.
Yet it was like an invitation just waiting to be noticed.
“Is that true?” Luther asked.
“Is what true?” Erik’s voice was muffled.
“‘Insert here.’”
Erik immediately sat back and tugged both his underwear and his jeans up to cover his left hip as he cursed under his breath. “Shit. Stupid tool belt.” He flushed bright red and then muttered words that were hard to understand, but Luther thought he made out undershirt and aerator. Erik scrambled to toss his tools in his bucket, taking no time to organize them in the same way they’d been when he’d arrived, and he tripped over an area rug as he bolted toward the door.
“Hey! Stop,” Luther said. “Just—stop!”
Erik did, but he faced the door, refusing to turn around.
“I’m gay, so you’re safe here, if that’s what that tattoo’s truly about.”
Erik turned his head slightly, only enough that Luther could see his dark eyelashes as he blinked in double time.
“It’s not an easy place to be out. I know. But then… why have that tattooed on your ass?”
“Long story,” Erik said.
“You were going out to your truck to get more tools?” Luther offered, to help the guy save face.
“No.” He hiked his pants up and tightened his tool belt a notch or two. “I’m gonna keep working.”
“All right.” Luther sat down on his couch again, tugging his iPad back into his lap and pretending to no longer care about those smudged words that obviously meant a hell of a lot to Erik. At least keeping them hidden did.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Real life. Genuine men. True love.
Posy Roberts writes about the realistic struggles of men looking for love. Whether her characters are family men, drag queens, or lonely men searching for connections, they all find a home in her stories.
Posy is married to a man who makes sure she doesn’t forget to eat or sleep. Her daughter, a budding author and dedicated Whovian, helps her come up with character names. When Posy’s not writing, she enjoys crafting, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Newsletter

Where to find the author:
Pinterest: Pinterest
Other: Tumblr (NSFW)

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Tour Dates & Stops: September 3, 2015
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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $10 Amazon Gift Card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prize(s) provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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Review: Re-Entry Burn (Superpowered Love #5) by Katey Hawthorne

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Re-entry Burn coverMalory Clermont , a heat superpowered ex-felon, has just finished his time in jail and is now out on parole.  Three years ago, Malory, his Dad and their cousin Brady  (Riot Boy) planned and tried to pull off a bank robbery using their superpowers. But unknown to Mal and his criminal dad, Brady was working with the cops and betrayed them.  It got nasty, people got hurt and Mal and his dad got jail time.  Mal’s lawyer pleaded his case,citing extenuating circumstances, saying Mal’s dad and uncle had brought him up to be a criminal which was child abuse, .  Which is why Mal is out after 2 and half years in the superpowered lockup and trying to re-enter society.  His parole officer has three immediate goals for Mal.  Find a place to live, find a place to work and attend his fellow parolees group therapy session.  High goals when no one wants a ex con as a renter or employee.

Theo McCracken, a cold-superpowered ex-offender, is out on parole too.  His crime?  He murdered his abusive stepfather and would gladly do it again.  Now free after 5 years in jail, he is trying to adjust to freedom outside and not doing particularly well at it.   Theo feels pressured by outside forces and his twisted maternal ties.  Emotionally and mentally Theo is more fragile than he looks.  Theo is just that bit of out of control that is dangerous for someone recently out of jail and emotionally wanting.  Then he sees Mal.

Mal and Theo met in their weekly court mandated group therapy sessions and click.  Or at least Theo does.  Mal just hides in his chair, keeping the lowest profile possible, a mass of confused hurt and passivity.  Theo notices Mal immediately and starts his pursuit which scares Mal just enough to come out of his shell.   Theo’s cold high energy rushes up against Mal’s hot docility in a clash of opposites that reenergizes them both.  And despite abandonment issues, paranoia, traumatic family ties and events, somehow Mal and Theo start to hope that a future for them both is possible if they can just get past the re-entry burn.

Re-Entry Burn is the fifth story in the Superpowered Love series and a clear equal to Riot Boy (Superpowered Love #2), the story that made me fall deeply in love with these superpowered characters and twisted family histories.  The story is told from the haunted, pain-filled voice of Malory Claremont, who we first met in Riot Boy (Superpowered Love #2).  In that story he was a seething vessel of angst, rage and love and it was aimed directly at his cousin Brady who wanted to escape the criminal life that Brady’s family had forced on him.  It is because of Katey Hawthorne’s marvelous gift of characterization that readers saw something more in Malory, something so sad and compelling that it just cried out for his story to be told.   And now we get it and what an emotionally fraught journey it turns out to be with mental quicksand and societal traps everywhere. And in this author’s hands, its a outstanding piece of addictive storytelling

A raw, hip, and often dryly humorous dialog one of the hallmark elements of Katey Hawthorne’s stories.  And it’s an element I can’t get enough of.  When the  word “fuck” flows out of one of her character’s mouth (in this case Mal Claremont) it might be as an adjective, a noun, a verb, an adverb and most certainly an interjection. Basically Hawthorne has made it work as every part of sentence and the end result is a unique, sometimes plaintive, sometimes angry introspective voice that propels you magnetically along the narrative.  Don’t fight it, just go with the flow, following the raw musical tones of a damaged man trying to find his way out of his past and into the present.  This is how the story starts:

You Are Here

I’m not saying I’m getting this all down perfect, but it’s pretty goddamn close. It’s hard not to go back and pretend I felt and did things different than I did, but if keeping that fucking journal taught me one thing, it was that changing the words after the fact changes the point. I didn’t want to do it, but I can’t remember the last time I wanted to do anything like I was told.

I’ll try and not get ahead of myself, but this shit is new to me. Not like anyone’s reading it anyhow. Whatever, fuck it.

The story unfolds as a journal that Mal (and all the other ex offenders) must keep as a part of their group therapy and parole.  Mal writes down his thoughts and the events as they happen, using the journal to work through his mixed up feelings of anger and  abandonment towards Brady and his life.  The author lets the readers into Mal’s thought processes and the emotional and mental work that it takes for Mal to see through to the reality of the reasons behind his words and actions.  It’s tough going for Mal and we aren’t always sure that he will reach the designation we hope for him. Mal and life has placed a lot of obstacles in his way, and he must understand and remove them before he can arrive at his personal truth.  What an amazing character and story!  And his slow, pain racked path is as fascinating and authentic as Mal is.

A little bit of background.  Mal, Theo, Brady and even his parole officer are all superpowered beings called Awakened.  They are elementals with powers linked accordingly whether it is heat, cold, water, or electrical.  So already this is a group of beings on the outside of a society (Sleepers, that’s us) that is ignorant of their presence.  Imagine having such power than not being able to use it.  I think we could all imagine the frustration and the rage that would build up, so a respectable portion of the Awakened are criminals.  Others have chosen to be the group that polices their own (with special prisons to hold them), and some have turned vigilante using their powers to help others.  Hawthorne takes us into the middle of their rage, their divisive gatherings and makes us understand exactly what these beings are feelings and how conflicted their lives are.

Mal is not only having to readjust to freedom, he is also having to readjust to hiding once more who and what he is.  Inside the special prison, Mal could be the heat elemental he was.  No more hiding his powers and that was freeing in itself, a dichotomy.  Now physically free, Mal looks to the outside as being imprisoned once more inside a persona not truly him.  It’s a powerful image and not one conducive to staying outside the penal system.  Theo’s background and personality also raises impediments to a successful future outside the prison system.  His journey forward and emotional healing has  as many potholes in it as Mal’s does.

There are so many heartbreaking elements to Re-entry Burn.   Not just the realistic treatment Mal receives from his new co workers and neighbors which  runs the gamut from wary friendliness to outright hostility and fear.  No Mal is also adjusting to being in an environment where he can safely be a sexual being again as prison was not the place to explain his bisexuality.  Mal’s interest in sex is dead in the water until Theo comes and sparks it back to life. And that has consequences too for them both.  Nothing here is simple, everything has a reactive aspect that potentially could land either man back in prison in an instant. The author maintains a beautiful balance of tension between the readers and their concern for the characters and the needs of her narrative.  If the men often goes to their knees, pounded down by their needs and the pressure, well, the reader is right there with them on the cement floor, feeling their pain and intoxication with each other and their powers.

How I love these people and their stories.  I find them downright irresistible in voice and personality.  Listen to Mal working through “shit” in his journal:

I pulled out my journal on one of my fifteen-minute breaks and wrote:

I am a thief. I am a liar. I am a man. I am crooked. I am uneven. I am angry. I am lost. I am alone. I am alive. I am a queer. I am a supervillain. I am a risk. I am a joke. I am funny, funny Malory, oh so fucking funny.

People throw words at me, and I wait to see how they stick, which parts of me meld into them, which parts of me curl up in a ball and wither. Some of the words are partly right.

Some of them are right sometimes. Most of them mean nothing at all, just weird sounds and shapes when I roll them around in my head. Some of them kill parts of me or put them to sleep so I forget they ever existed until something kicks them awake again.

But the one thing I’ve always been and will always be, the only thing I’m sure of: I am fire. Pyrolysis, a thermochemical reaction, a separating of elements. As long as I have that, I think I can hold them all off. Maybe not indefinitely, but for a while.

But why do I even want to? So I can find more words to apply, this time words I like, I want, I wish? How the fuck would that be any better?

What’s the fucking point?

So puzzled, still so full of pain.  But he’s doing the work, he’s getting there and you are straining to help him every step of the way.  You will feel that way about Theo too.

If this is your first Superpowered Love story, then go back to the beginning or at least start with Riot Boy.  That will give you enough back history and insight into the characters to go forward with Re-entry Burn.  It won’t take much before you will find yourself just as addicted as I am to this universe and these characters.  Katey Hawthorne is a go to author for me and this is a perfect example why.   Go, pick it up and start on the path to a love affair with the Awakened!  You are going to love them.  And just because I can, here is one more hook to reel you in. Malory is speaking with his parole officer:

 Maybe society would start pretending I was human again. I admit, part of me was thinking, fuck that noise, and always will. But it’s as good as it gets. Less trouble too.

“Do you feel like it’s helpful with your reentry, I mean?”

I pictured myself racing through the atmosphere like the Apollo 13 capsule, trailing pieces of myself and fire.

P.L. Nunn’s cover is gorgeous as always.

Books in the Superpowered Love series in the order they were written and should be read:

Equilibrium (Superpowered Love, #1)
Jealousy: A Love Story (Superpowered Love, #1.1)
Best Gift Ever (Superpowered Love, #1.2)
Riot Boy (Superpowered Love, #2)
Willoughby Spit (Superpowered Love, #2.1)
Nobody’s Hero (Superpowered Love, #3)
Losing Better (Superpowered Love, #4)
Re-Entry Burn (Superpowered Love, #5)
Book Details:

ebook
Published August 26th 2013 by Loose Id
ISBN13 9781623005009
setting Arlington, VA

Review of Cherish (Faith, Love & Devotion #4) by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 4.5 stars

It has taken several years, 5 to be exact, for New York City Vice Detective Evan Cerelli, his four children, and former Homicide Detective Matt Haight to come together as a couple and as a family.  And for the most part they have made it without the emotional fireworks and mental turmoil that marked the first year of their relationship.

Now Even is going to be promoted to Captain of his precinct, the first out gay captain on the force, Matt is a successful security advisor when he is not a wonderful house husband to the two kids, twins Danny and Elizabeth, still at home.  Katie and Miranda are off at college, and their friends seem happy.  Life is good.

But Thanksgiving is coming and bringing with it the family explosions they thought they had left in the past. When Evan accidentally learns his oldest daughter, Miranda, is thinking of getting married to her boyfriend of less than 3 months, he flies off in a rage and is met with equal anger from Miranda who still has problems accepting her father’s relationship with Matt. A temporary truce between them sees Evan inviting Miranda’s new boyfriend and his parents to Evan and Matt’s house for Thanksgiving.  Also coming for Thanksgiving is Helena, Evan’s partner on the force and her boyfriend, Shane, and second oldest daughter, Katie, who “wouldn’t miss the fireworks for anything.”

And before the turkey is even on the table,  emotional explosions are going off and everyone is included.  Matt and Evan first have to survive Thanksgiving with their family and friends, and each minute more is making that unlikely.

This is the fourth book in the Faith, Love & Devotion series by Tere Michaels and it is a series close to my heart.  We first met  Matt and Evan in the first book Faith & Fidelity, at the angst ridden beginnings of their relationship.  Then Evan was mourning the loss of his beloved wife and first and only person he has ever slept with.  In addition to his grief, he was trying to do his job as a police officer and fill in the void for his four kids left behind when his wife died.  Evan is full of pain, grief and overburdened by stress and doubts about his ability to  be a good father and step up to the plate.  Matt is a complete mess when the reader and Evan first encounter him.  Forced to resign from the police force he loves over behavior issues, he has become a bitter, disillusioned drunk, getting by as a security cop and on anonymous sex with women. But a conversation in a bar and the exchange of personal confidences leads to an unlikely friendship that eventually turns into a shattering love affair that forces each man to rethink his sexuality and  their acceptance of the fact that they love each other.  It is a tough road for Evan and Matt, especially Evan, who has the reactions of his children, former inlaws and police force to think about.

One of the things I cherish about this series is that Tere Michaels lets us in on the emotional fallout and oscillating feelings, including bouts of denial, that come with identity earthquakes. By that I mean the paradigm shifts that occur within a person when the most basic self knowledge is proven wrong.  And being gay or bisexual is a major shift for them both.  The author lets their relationship play out, not over one book but four stories, including this one.  The Evan/Matt relationship here is the strongest it has ever been (and that’s saying something) but even here it has its shaky moments, most of which come from the stress brought on by Miranda. Let me tell you, there are many times that I am as frustrated with Miranda as everyone else in her family.  I don’t like her behavior and think that Evan needs to get a grip when dealing with her.  But does that sound like I think of them as characters?  No it does not.  And that’s the beauty of these stories and these amazing characters, they might make you gnash your teeth and pull some hair, but they are never anything less than believable.

Michaels also takes into account how much alike fathers and their daughters can be as Evan and Miranda’s behavior is often a reflection of each other.  Matt too has aged and grown into his role as caregiver/second father to at least 3 of the kids, and his growth is as realistic and wry as can be.  Tere Michaels has a wonderful grip on relationship dynamics, not only between romantic partners but familial relationships too.  Siblings squabbles,  family arguments, and the small joys of an established bond are all found here in this latest addition to the series.

I also loved that it takes place over Thanksgiving and includes the family of Miranda’s boyfriend, which adds that unknown element so often present at Thanksgiving when multiple family groups, including strangers, are brought together and forced to engage each other on the most intimate of  American celebrations, the Thanksgiving dinner.  Expectations are perhaps unreasonably high for what we think this holiday with its traditions of being grateful and giving thanks will bring.  And that stress alone has blown up more turkeys than any fryer on the market. I will tell you that all ends well, at least temporarily for this wonderful family I have become so fond of.  If you are familiar with this story, you will love Cherish as I did.  If this series is new to you,  don’t start here.  Go back to the beginning to where it all started.  It makes the place they are at now all the more precious and rewarding.

And Tere Michaels?  I need more of another favorite couple here, that would be Jim and Griffon from Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love & Devotion #2).  Pretty please?  That would be a great Christmas gift for us all.

Here are the books in the series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the history and couples involved:

Faith & Fidelity (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #1)

Love & Loyalty (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #2)

Duty & Devotion (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #3)

Cherish (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4)

Cover art by Croco Designs.  The covers for this series are just average.  They really don’t relate to the stories within nor do they make any real attempt to have models that look like the characters. Grade C

Books available at Loose id, Amazon, and All Romance.

Review of Gambling Men the Novel by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars

Quentin Jackson and Jason Spade have been best friends since their freshman days in college.  Where Jason leads, Quentin has followed. Dorm to apartment, college into business, year after year, the path ahead for one is the path for both.  Orphaned at an early age, Jason grew up with his uncle  and his partner as role models and the game poker as his bible.  Need a rule to live by? Poker has the answers, at least for Jason.  For Quint? Not so much. An out bisexual, Jason spent his years in and out of bed after bed, regardless of their gender.  Quint, on the other hand, followed his families strictures, and dated women and watched his friend avoid relationships and commitments at all costs.  Jace has been aggressive in his approach to life, his “shark like” mannerisms making him sucessful, but at a price.  Quentin has always come behind Jace smoothing the ruffled feathers and feelings of those that came into contact with Jace and his methodology.  But eight years later, all that changes in one daring moment when Jace makes a sexual move on his friend that results in a night of passion.

For years, Jace has waited until the odds of success were in his favor to make a romantic play for Quent.  When Jace is rewarded with a night of unsurpassed passion, both men must come to grips with a long unstated love now out in the open.  For Jace, he needs to learn that all of life is not a poker game.  For Quentin, he needs to trust that Jace can learn that winning at all costs will not help them build a relationship that will last.  To call or fold before a  relationship is even started?  That’s the question both men must answer before they can find their HEA.

In Gambling Men by Amy Lane, the author uses the game of Poker as a format for her story of two friends fumbling their ways to love and happiness.  As someone only minutely familiar with the game, I found using different Poker hands and actions fun if not occasionally confusing. Jace is convinced that all life is a Poker game to be won, a belief he picked up in adolescence living with his uncle and partner.  Amy Lane does her usual great job at characterization by helping us understand Jace’s somewhat juvenile application of a Poker’s rules approach to life’s hardships and hurdles.  Equally open is Quentin’s background in cementing his ideals and more passive life style.  Winning versus nurture.  Or in these case, a winning nature supported by a nurturing one.

Lane really understands relationship dynamics so the story really engaged me when Jace had to learn to adjust his life and its expectation to include Quentin in a role he had never occupied before. Up until then, Jace was still a little too shallow for me if still understandable. It was so appealing to watch each man flounder in turn, as they danced around dating, outing their relationship to their friends and employees, and then finally taking the steps to deepen their commitment to each other by moving in and finally emotionally moving on into the future they both want and deserve.  Surrounding these relationship gyrations are a circle of friends as  unique and indelible as Jace and Quent themselves.  I loved their Poker playing group, their real family, as Quent’s family disowns him after he comes out.  I wish I had been given more of these men, so compelling were the glimpses into their lives the author gave us.

Do I have a quibble with the story? Yes, I do, two in fact.  One, the Poker game analogy got a tad stale for me after a while.  I am not a Poker  enthusiast, so Flushes, Draws, etc. became overdone not only as a format for the chapters but as it was used throughout the story even with Jace’s  “life is Poker” outlook.  I am sure that there are many Poker widows/widowers out there that feel much the same.  The other wee quibble?  The title.  I have way too much Monty Python in me not to look at it and think “Gambling Men: the Novel?”  As opposed to “Gambling Men: The Paragraph”? “Gambling Men: The Comic Book”? “Gambling Men: The Tweet”?  The possibilities are endless, at least in my  somewhat warped brain.  Anyone out there with insight on the title, write me, tweet me, inquiring minds want to know.  In the meantime, pick this one up and have a wonderful time as two old friends develop into the lovers they were always meant to be.

Cover: Hysterical.  Perfect for the novel. Or should I say Gambling Men: The Novel.  Really.