A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Intoxicating (Elite Protection Services #1) by Onley James

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

I like my erotic romances with some depth and this fit the bill. There are many triggers in this book so please pay attention to the tags: past and present abuse, off page rape, self harm, flashbacks, alcohol, drugs, and suicide attempts. Of course, this all means the hurt/comfort trope is quite strong. Wyatt is full of pain from parents who don’t know what love means; he is acting out recklessly in his hopelessness. Lincoln is hired by Wyatt’s father as a babysitter for him during the Senate reelection campaign.

Much of this story takes place in a fish bowl of forced proximity. The attraction is immediate for both of them and while a misunderstanding keeps them apart for a little while, once that is gone there is no stopping the lust from boiling over, even if it all seems like a horrible idea, bound for heartbreak all around. As an erotic romance, the sex scenes are plentiful and smoking hot if light Daddy play is your thing. My heart hurt for both of them pretty quickly. Linc’s usual scenes and after care haven’t prepared him for actually caring for a boy of his own. He is in denial about his PTSD from the service and glosses over his own childhood abuse. Wyatt’s never had a man care for him at all, in any capacity. This is completely dysfunctional, but at least Linc understands that. Linc is an intimate witness to Wyatt’s life without his consent; it is Linc’s choice to share his life with Wyatt in return. With this dynamic, I wonder if anyone who showed Wyatt affection would have sufficed. Still, the moment that it becomes less about play and more about making love, the sex is real including the fear, communication, and humor.

The pacing is fast due to the feeling of racing against the clock. This has an expiration date, not just because of the senator’s campaign, but because this bubble is not sustainable. There are thankfully some interesting supporting characters involved: Linc’s boss and former service buddy Jackson, Graciela the housekeeper, Charlemagne or Charlie as Wyatt’s best friend, and Wyatt’s grandmother Violet. Charlie has the largest, much needed role as support for Wyatt when he can’t support himself. Some might criticize her for not doing more, but I think she did what she could whilst not humiliating and outing Wyatt against his will. When he makes the choice to change his circumstances, she protects them all. I admit Linc and his sister’s circumstances make no sense to me: caring for someone who hurt, neglected and abandoned them over someone Linc is falling in love with seems like a fake box to put him in. Neither does Wyatt’s situation make a lot of sense: if at 22, Wyatt is so abused and mentally screwed up that he can’t get out of the situation with his father, then he is not fit to be anyone’s partner. There are two scenes where Wyatt shows he can be supportive of Linc also–enough to give me some hope. With all the angst I had to wade through, I would have liked to see the epilogue expanded to show more of the happiness a romance brings to the table. Their kinks and childhood traumas match enough for them to bond, but I do wish there had been a bit more as to why they would work as a couple in real world circumstances for a more believable HEA.

The cover design is by We Got You Covered Book Design. This doesn’t have anything to do with the story. This model is a bit more built than I pictured Wyatt and less built than I pictured Linc. The tagline makes this seem more about discipline or BDSM, which doesn’t match the flavor of this book at all.

Sales Links: Amazon | Universal Link 

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 12th 2019 (first published July 8th 2019)
Original Title Intoxicating
Edition Language English
Series Elite Protection Services #1

Aidan Wayne on Writing, Research, and Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne (author interview)

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Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne
DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Jennifer Vance
Sales Links:

DSP PublicationsAmazon |  Barnes & Nobles | Kobo  | iBooks 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Aidan Wayne today on tour for their new release Rule of Thirds. Welcome, Aidan.

 ~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Aidan Wayne~

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Research plays such a huge role, it’s ridiculous. I do enjoy it, but I tend to fall into what I call “the black hole of research.” And for something like Rule of Thirds, wherein my main character, Jason, has crippling PTSD that’s pretty important. But I also am in the middle of a story about a Broadway star. I figured I wouldn’t have to worry too much about research for that. Wrong! I ended up basically mapping out the entire theatre district of New York to make sure I knew where everything was (eateries, parks, urgent care) in reference to where my characters lived. Of course, I also had to find them apartments and make sure that the rents made sense to the location.

On that note though, I’ve had some really neat things come from my need to research topics. For a story where the main character owns an apple orchard, I called up orchards to ask questions about production, cost, etc. I ended up getting on the phone with a 95-year old apple farmer who had planted his trees with his father before WWII. One of the coolest experiences I’ve had as a writer.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

That’s a tricky question. I was big into a lot of varied genres. I loved fantasy (Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce), historical fiction (L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott), and nonfiction (basically every well-written thing I could get my hands on). But I think that a good link-up is that all of my very favorite books are character-driven. They have solid personalities and stand out as people. In his Discworld books, Terry Pratchett has a number of characters that re-appear as main characters or side characters as the book requires and they’re always interesting and thoroughly themselves. Even the nonfiction books had good narrators. I love that. And yes, I think the influence has carried over into how I write what I do. For me, characters come first. The plot? They might be saving the world but it’s just as likely that the entire story is simply one person teaching the other how to properly cultivate a tomato plant.

I like this tomato idea actually. Hm.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I’m not a fan of the term Mary Sue or Gary Stu. It first got started in fandom, where people (usually female writers) made self-inserts to interact with characters they like, often as love interests. It was a way for them to play and explore in a world that had already been created, but with a character they’d created themselves. Because so many writers made their characters “unique” (looks-wise, having special skills, etc), coupled with the fact that the character was a love interest, these characters (and thus, often, the authors themselves) ended up garnering a lot of ridicule.

But what’s wrong with writing wish-fulfillment? What’s wrong with creating a character based on your own experiences? Maybe with your own desires and fears? What’s wrong with putting those characters into whatever setting you choose and playing? Creating someone that will love them?

Nothing, in my opinion.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

YES. Yes, yes, so much yes. I’m one of those people that needs a happy or hopeful ending to be satisfied. If I’m going to read an entire story about these characters and watch them grow and change and learn and struggle–If I’ve dedicated my time to caring about them and rooting for them–The last thing I want is for the story to end with them miserable.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I’ve been very lucky in that every cover artist I’ve worked with has been willing to take my notes and suggestions. I start by answering some questions about what I want the cover to look like: colors, tone, possible scenery, etc. Then I get a mock-up or three and usually we go from there. Sometimes I’m really pleased with the first choice, or only have a slight adjustment I’d like made, such as changing a font. Sometimes it’s a little more difficult. For Rule of Thirds, I went to a stock photo site myself to find images I thought might work for what I wanted. My very patient cover artist, Jennifer Vance, put up with a lot from me.

 

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

I started and stopped my novella Loud and Clear a bunch of times. It is literally a book about communication, and I kept getting stuck on what I wanted my characters to say, even if I knew how they’d say it. I’m glad I ended up with what I did, though. It was one of the first books I’ve ever had published so it’s definitely a little rough around the edges, but I think it really showcases what I believe in writing; communication, consent, and diversity.

 

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I’ve never written while drunk, but I have written while Ridiculously Overtired. Those are usually times when I’ll come back to a story with sentences such as “the big was very large.” But once in a while I’ll come back to a scene and –wow, I’ll look at it a bit uncertain that it came from my own brain but very pleased that it did. You know, once I edit out all the typos.

 

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To wide our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I once wrote a story because, and I quote, “I am angry and upset.” It was about a trans man starting his own transition and learning more of himself, how he was able to interact with the world and other people, getting a found family, and, eventually, a boyfriend too.

 

I also once wrote a story because I thought of a title so good it needed a story to go with it. (A cupid and a succubus fall in love whoops. Making Love. I’m very proud of myself.)

 

Mostly I write because I like happiness, and figuring out the various ways I can get it to manifest. To make me, my readers, and my characters happy.

 

And shoving in as much wordplay into the titles as I can possibly get.

Blurb:

A traumatic past doesn’t have to mean not having a future.

When Jason Diovardi, military elite, is removed from active duty after failing too many psych evals, he has only one goal in mind: get back into the field. It’s all he knows and all he thinks he’s good for, which is why he grudgingly accepts two live-in AI Companions to help him begin to recover from his severe PTSD. Chase and Shade are a matched pair, and Jason hopes they’ll keep each other distracted enough to leave him alone so he can go through the motions and be cleared for fieldwork.

Jason doesn’t expect to actually get better, and the progress he makes with his patient and caring Companions sneaks up on him—and so do unexpected feelings between the three of them. Now Jason might even be able to admit to being happy. But has he healed enough to allow himself to accept what Chase and Shade are offering?

Hope. Love. A reason to live.

About the Author ~Aidan Wayne

Aidan Wayne has been a jeweler, paralegal, neurofeedback technician, and martial arts instructor; and that’s not even the whole list. They’ve been in constant motion since before they were born (pity Aidan’s mom)—and being born didn’t change anything. When not moving, Aidan is usually writing, so things tend to balance out. They primarily write character-driven stories with happy endings, because, dammit, queer people deserve happy endings too.

Aidan lives with altogether too many houseplants on the seventh floor of an apartment building. The building has an elevator, but Aidan refuses to acknowledge its existence.

Social media links:

Website: https://aidanwayne.com  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/justsayins

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15164017.Aidan_Wayne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100019083091269

A Stella Review: Mended With Gold by Lee Welch

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

A photographer with post-traumatic stress disorder falls for a comics artist on a wild New Zealand beach, but can he find true love when he feels so wounded by life?

Everything changed when the bomb exploded. Forty-five-year old, Alex Cox worked as an international photographer until a deadly explosion left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Emotionally wounded, and desperate for a sense of safety, he’s run all the way to wild and remote Kahawai Bay, New Zealand.

Under the worst possible circumstances, Alex meets Joe, a shy young comics artist. Joe lets Alex into his playful, gentle world of comics, and soon Alex is falling for him, hard. Alex longs for more. Joe is reticent. But is it shyness? Or does Joe not want a much older lover with ‘issues’? Or is something else keeping them apart?

This is a tender and uplifting story about creativity, adversity, true love, and comics.

Mended With Gold is the first book I read by Lee Welch and I have to say it was a lovely surprise. I soon connected with the story and the characters, maybe because the author hit one of my weakness with these kind of souls like Alex and Joe. I love scarred characters, their pain makes them more real, troubled like we all are. I adore couples with an age difference and in some ways here it was evident Alex was more experienced than the younger Joe, but since life had not been easy on both of them, I later found them well matched and truly enjoyed the time I get to learn about their love.

Considering this is just a novella, I think the author developed quite well the characters and the plot, I found the setting particular and beautiful, that said to me Mended With Gold ended with a HFN and I would love to meet Alex and Joe again in a new book, and see them how they gained their HEA. I feel to recommend this story and I will definitely look for other works by the author.

The cover art by Melody Pond is lovely, clean and fitting. I like it.

Sales Links:  MLR Books | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 94 pages

Published November 17th 2017 by MLR Press

ASIN B077365FMD

Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Broken Pieces by Ruby MacIntyre

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Clint is a young but respected alpha of the Tillamook Pack, and he’s content with the life he’s built for himself after his tragic past. But after his son tells him of an omega being chased into their territory, Clint jumps into action, unaware of how his life is about to change.

 

Julian finally escaped from his abusive alpha, but the betas are hot on his tail. He has little hope of escaping, until a huge, black alpha wolf charges to his rescue. But there’s one problem–Julian doesn’t trust any alpha, no matter how kind or different Clint seems.

 

Julian hates alphas after what was done to him. Clint knows and understands Julian’s feelings, so why can’t he seem to stay away from the fiery omega? Julian doesn’t get why his wolf wants to submit to Clint, or why he’s so angry when Clint seeks affection elsewhere. Surely he doesn’t want the alpha’s attention…right?

 

This was an interesting story and I’m definitely interested to see if more books in this work come out.  Clint has worked hard to be a respectable alpha and raise his son right.  His son, Jacob quickly makes himself Julian’s champion after his rescue.  Julian doesn’t know what to do about how Jacob and Clint treat him, he has always been taught that all that ever mattered was the will of an alpha.

 

Clint and Julian’s biggest downfall was that they never just sat down and talked, they reacted quickly and then made assumptions based on the other’s behavior.  Clint is still dealing with his youth and PTSD but hasn’t really found the best way to do that and in the process ends up causing more pain for himself and Julian.  I felt for Julian in his confusion, his wolf was saying one thing while his brain was saying another and with his past experiences he had trouble getting them to work together.  For all that Clint was understanding and gentle he was also a jerk when something didn’t go his way, I was definitely not his biggest fan.  The missing omegas in the end gave the opportunity for this to continue into a series and I am definitely interested to read more and see if these two really grow together.

 

Cover art by Valerie Tibbs is nice and works well for the story.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 175 pages

Published: July 24, 2017 by Loose Id

ISBN: 978-1-68252-382-7

A Paul B Review: Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

WolfsongI always anticipate the next TJ Klune novel.  When I found out that this book would be a shifter book, I was doubly excited.   I am happy to say that I was not disappointed.

Oxnard Matheson was twelve when his father walked out.  His father told Ox that he had to be a man now that he was leaving.  Without his father’s income from the garage that he worked at, Ox’s mother struggled to pay the bills.  Fortunately, the garage owner, Gordo, took Ox under his wing.  Gordo made sure that Ox and his mother held onto their house and gave Ox work in his garage even though he wasn’t of legal age.  This would continue until Ox’s sixteenth birthday, when Gordo and the guys at the garage welcomed him as an official member of their crew. On his way home, he runs into a ten year old boy.

Joe Bennett’s life has not been easy in his short ten years.  Most of his pack was slaughtered by hunters when his father (the alpha) and uncle were out looking for food.  The family moves east afterward.  Then a previous pack member kidnaps and tortures Joe to get back at Joe’s father for not protecting the pack.  Joe is rescued six weeks later but the damage is done.  The kidnapper escapes and Joe goes into a shell.  He does not speak for 18 months until he meets a young man who smells of “candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.”  Joe’s family is shocked and grateful that this young man, Ox, has turned Joe around after just meeting.  Much to their surprise, the young future alpha of their pack gives Ox the stone carved wolf statue after just meeting.  This is a wolf shifter’s most prized possession given at birth and usually only given to one’s mate.

The years go by and Joe’s father Thomas teaches his son the lessons needed to become the next alpha of the pack.  Thomas also sees something in Ox and starts teaching him as well, as he will be the next alpha mate.  But troubles from the past come back to haunt this small but powerful pack.  The kidnapper returns and this time sets his sights on Ox.  The pack once again must mourn the loss of some of their own.  However, will the actions of Joe to exact revenge on the kidnapper be the one thing to not only tear the pack apart but his relationship with Ox?

The characters in this book are charming, delightful and strong when need be.  Ox might not be the brightest character around, but his strong character draws people to him.  Thomas gives him the choice to become a werewolf but Ox turns it down each time saying it is not right for him at the moment.  He leads what would turn into his pack of humans at the garage when Gordo leaves with Joe.  The rest of the Bennett pack looks to him for leadership in Joe’s absence.  Joe’s exuberance over meeting his mate after suffering from PTSD from the kidnapping is cute.  You would think he was a four year old at Christmas time.  While Joe going after his kidnapper seems like a good idea to someone who has suffered at his hands, the decision will affect the rest of the pack for the next three years.  Joe’s refusal to talk to the pack is especially hard on Ox.  Once reunited though, you get the feeling that this will be a power couple in the shifter world. 

The cover art by Reese Duncan is stark and perfect for this book.  The cover shows two wolf paw prints on a dark background.  It sets up the tone for the middle and latter parts of the book perfectly

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 400 pages
Published June 20th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634771656 (ISBN13: 9781634771658)
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Audiobook Review: Resurrecting Elliot (Newport Boys #2) by Cate Ashwood ~ Michael Pauley (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Resurrecting Elliot audioNightmares and panic attacks following a horrific tragedy leave Professor Elliot Lawrence a prisoner in his own home. After months of relying on his sister as his only connection to the outside world, Elliot is desperate for a sliver of independence. But leaving the safety of his home isn’t an option, not yet, and he reaches out in the most innocuous way he can think of: grocery delivery.

Colton Kelly, retired porn star and recent college grad, is struggling at two minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. During one of his grocery deliveries, he meets Elliot. Although the attraction between them is instant, they must first traverse the long road of putting Elliot back together. When disaster strikes yet again, this time in Colt’s life, Elliot’s not sure he’s strong enough to be the man Colt needs him to be.

I enjoyed this book a lot.  It was my first time reading this author and I was really pleased with the writing.  Elliot is suffering from PTSD and is isolated in his home.  When Colton delivers groceries to him they begin a tentative friendship that over time turns into something more.  Despite the fact that Elliot has major issues and Colton is a retired porn star, there is little angst in this.  It was a quiet love story but really sweet.  I thought it was a nice change of pace from the angst and drama filled books that so often make up the romance genre.  These characters seemed realistic and their behaviors were completely understandable.  When they encounter problems they just discussed it like adults and moved on.  I really liked them both and I was rooting for them the entire way.
I listened to this on audio and felt the narrator did a really good job.  He has a nice voice and was consistent through the entire story.  He did a nice job on both of the main character’s voices as well as the side characters.  This is an audio I would definitely recommend.
Cover by Brooke Albrecht. I like the cover.  I don’t think it stands out but it is nice.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes
Audiobook Details:
Audiobook
Published April 8th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 20th 2015)
ASINB01DYH3VSI
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL
SeriesNewport Boys #2