Lindsey Byrd on Designing the World and her new release On The Subject Of Griffons (guest blog and giveaway)


On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd
Riptide Publishing

Cover Art: L.C. Chase
Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Lindsey Byrd here today on tour for her new novel, On the Subject of Griffons.  Welcome, Lindsey.


Lindsey Byrd on Designing the World


When I first started writing this story, I had a general idea of what I wanted the country to look like. I knew its borders and its main cities and I could see it very clearly in my mind. While I was considering what to write for this blog tour, my best friend suggested I finally draw what I had seen so clearly in my mind. It didn’t take long, and the results are in the image above.

I marked out every main city or stop that the protagonists mention or travel to. The Trent empire and Ruug are both alluded to in various parts of the book, but they aren’t locations that our characters physically reach. As mentioned in a previous blog post – the long lakes are based off of the New York finger lakes, and you’re welcome to go back and look at the pictures posted there if you’d like another reference.

Actually drawing the map itself wasn’t too difficult. I have an idea of how I’d like to expand the universe so I knew in advance what features I wanted to add. Some of them, like the island in the middle of the Great Sea, aren’t referenced in this book at all. I’m still looking forward to sharing it somewhere down the line.

The map on this blog post, however, is not my original drawing. One of my closest friends took my original sketch and made it the fancy, beautiful, version you see here. She flushed out the detail on the image and made sure that the rivers and coastline made some form of logical sense, and everything you see on the map above is the highly rendered version of her imagination.

As we worked on it together, we discussed the future of this world. One of the other concerns I had, was not showing what I hadn’t planned out. To this end, there are many cities, names, or other kinds of locations I haven’t added to this version of the map. There are other stories there, and hopefully interest and intrigue will inspire future readers to wonder what those possibilities are. But for now, we made sure to keep everything as simple as possible. This is On the Subject of Griffons’ world. And hopefully in the future I’ll be able to share what goes on in all the blank spaces you can’t yet see.

If you enjoy reading this book, feel free to send me a message and let me know what you’d like to see in this world. I’d love to hear what you have to say.


They’ll do anything to save their children’s lives, even if it means working together.

Kera Montgomery is still mourning the sudden death of her husband, Morpheus, when her youngest son falls victim to a mysterious plague. With no medicinal cure, Kera must travel to the Long Lakes, where magical griffons capable of healing any ailment reside.

As an heiress unused to grueling travel, Kera struggles with the immense emotional and physical strain of her journey—one made more complex when she crosses paths with her husband’s former mistress, Aurora. Aurora’s daughter is afflicted with the same plague as Kera’s son, so despite their incendiary history, the two women agree to set aside their differences and travel together.

The road is fraught with dangers, both living and dead. Each night, old battlegrounds reanimate with ghosts who don’t know they’ve died, and murderous wraiths hunt for stray travelers caught out after dark. If Kera, Aurora, and their children are going to survive, they’ll need to confront the past that’s been haunting them since their journey began. And perhaps in the process, discover that old friends may not be as trustworthy as they once thought—and old enemies may become so much more.

Now available from Riptide Publishing and where ebooks are sold.


About Lindsey Byrd

Lindsey Byrd was brought up in upstate, downstate, and western New York. She is a budding historian of law, medieval, and women’s studies and often includes historical anecdotes or references within her works. Lindsey enjoys writing about complex and convoluted issues where finding the moral high-ground can be hard to do. She has a particular love for heroic villains and villainous heroes, as well as inverting and subverting tropes.








To celebrate this release, one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 1, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd


Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

They’ll do anything to save their children’s lives, even if it means working together.

Kera Montgomery is still mourning the sudden death of her husband, Morpheus, when her youngest son falls victim to a mysterious plague. With no medicinal cure, Kera must travel to the Long Lakes, where magical griffons capable of healing any ailment reside.

As an heiress unused to grueling travel, Kera struggles with the immense emotional and physical strain of her journey—one made more complex when she crosses paths with her husband’s former mistress, Aurora. Aurora’s daughter is afflicted with the same plague as Kera’s son, so despite their incendiary history, the two women agree to set aside their differences and travel together.

The road is fraught with dangers, both living and dead. Each night, old battlegrounds reanimate with ghosts who don’t know they’ve died, and murderous wraiths hunt for stray travelers caught out after dark. If Kera, Aurora, and their children are going to survive, they’ll need to confront the past that’s been haunting them since their journey began. And perhaps in the process, discover that old friends may not be as trustworthy as they once thought—and old enemies may become so much more.

On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd is such an unexpectedly deep, and emotionally rich journey.  Not of one woman, although Kera Montgomery is the main character who undergoes the most personal growth and development.  So too does the woman who starts out as her adversary and the source of so much of her pain,Aurora., Kera’s deceased husband’s’ ex-mistress.

The writing and characterizations in this story are simply brilliant. Told from the perspective of the “Widow Montgomery”, she is at moments controlled, raw, open, distraught, and as the story moves forward comes a woman of strength, determination, and incredible bravery.  Someone able to go forward and love again, building a future for herself, others and more. But when it starts out she is a woman overwhelmed by the deceit of her husband, buried in grief by his loss, mired down by the weight of responsibility for the huge brood of children she has and and lack of control over his   own future which seems lay in the hands of her father and the bankers of the town which want to pressure her into selling them her home, Ivory Gates.  She’s barely  coping and we are made to feel every tear, every throbbing pressure headache, every lost to depression episode Keri is feeling.

Then the deadly sickness that is sweeping the town invaded her home and her smallest child falls critically ill.  And again, we are in Kera’s heart and head that just as we don’t believe this  woman can stand any further pain, humiliation, or despair, now her youngest child is going to die.  And we are weeping with her.   And raging with her over her feelings of inadequacy and helplessness and the anticipation of yet another crushing deep loss.

It’s rare that I get pulled so fully and deeply into such a character as Kera Montgomery because of, I suppose, her state and, like all others, outward impression of her at the beginning.  Kera inhabits a rigid society that gives women little choice as to their roles in life.  Nice women in society are wives and mothers.  The men manage things, money, estages, society,  and wars. When Kera’s husband, Mori dies in a duel disgraced, he leaves her a widow of 7 children and a large estate she never wanted, Ivory Gates, teetering with looming debts and no pension of her husband’s to use as income.  Bankers are at her door and no one is asking her what she wants to do but her father instead.    She’s feeling invisible, emotionally battered, once more in mourning and feeling betrayed by a husband she loved who never seemed to think about the consequences of his actions.

Grief, helplessness and depression have mired this woman down until her youngest son is struck down and will soon die if nothing is done. It’s that desperation that is the impetus for Kera to finally act, against society and for herself and her son.

To save him she must find a Griffin’s feather and they exist only in one part of the territory.  In the cruelest of ironies, the first person she encounters on the road is her husband’s mistress who’s daughter is critically ill with the same sickness.

The journey then becomes this incredible saga  of multiple complex story threads, magic, and redemption.  Kera must learn to get past her hatred of Aurora, her pain and need for understanding about the affair, there’s forgiveness and personal growth, and so much more than this review can begin to describe.  Really, these women are beyond amazing as is their road to saving their children and finding a new future together.

It is labeled as F/F but the heat level is low, limited to kissing and off scene sex that is not described.

If I had any issues its that it ended a little too pat but what came before was just too magnificent for me to really quibble about that.  The writing and characterizations are just that outstanding.

Honestly, if you love fantasy and some of the best womens characterizations I’ve read this year, pick up On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd.  I highly recommend it.  It’s just a stunner of a story!

Cover art: L.C. Chase.  The cover is a little dark and it does fit parts of the story but it could easily be a contemporary fantasy which this is not.

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 316 pages
Published May 27th 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title On the Subject of Griffons
ISBN 139781626498822
Edition Language English

Release Blitz and Giveaway for Forgive Me Father by TL Travis



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
Length: 55,000 words approx.
Cover – Model: Kegan R. Ward | Photographer: Eric McKinney | Design: Mayhem Designs
Greyson Fox – Amazon US | Amazon UKCurrently only 99c/99p

Shunned and cast aside by his faith and family, Jamie is left to do whatever it takes to survive.

He comes across a group of kids in the same predicament, braving the streets of Seattle due to circumstances beyond their control. Lost souls who’ve slipped through the cracks of the broken systems society forced them into. Yet they still offer what little they have to him, including their home.

As time moves on, darkness surrounds him and when one of their own fall’s victim to the streets, Jamie wonders if there’s anything left worth living for. When his savior appears out of nowhere, he finds it hard to believe its real because he knows he’s not worth loving.

This is Jamie’s story from the #1 Amazon Bestselling book, Greyson Fox.

Potential triggers:
Sexual and physical abuse by church and family members, cheating, drug usage, prostitution and thoughts of suicide. Flashbacks of the abuse are present throughout this book. These are the opinions of the characters and in no way reflect the author.


About The Author


TL Travis is the author of The Sebastian Chronicles along with numerous other erotic novelettes (and many more in the works), The Elders Trilogy – an erotic paranormal (Vampire) romance novel series and many non-fiction articles.

In her spare time she likes to fish, enjoy all the Pacific Northwest has to offer, spin spicy erotic webs for readers to enjoy, and rescue any 4 legged lost souls she comes across. Since her children are grown and have flown the coop, she’s taken to spoiling her two deaf white boxers even more so than they were before.

To view TL Travis literary and photography works please visit her website at TL Travis can also be followed on Facebook at
Or via twitter at


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A Lucy Review: Where Do I Start (Why You? #1) by Chase Taylor Hacket


Rating: 4 stars out of 5


This is the first book of the Why You? series and I read this after I read the second book.  I wasn’t actually going to read it, considering that Fletcher Andrews, the MC, was such a cheater and broke Roger’s heart.  I don’t read cheating and I was going into this already hating Fletch.  He’s beautiful, languorous, gets what he wants and drops his pants for everyone.  So of course, I hate him.  But this book is about losing something you didn’t realize how much you treasured and what it does to you to try to get it back.

Fletch and Roger were living together, happily and homey, until Roger finds out Fletch has been cheating on him. It devastates Roger and he throws Fletch out.  They don’t see each other for two years until they accidentally meet at the opera.  Fletch is with his sugar daddy, Darwin, and Roger is with his bestie, Tommy.  While Tommy is thrilled to meet costume-designer Darwin, Fletch is more interested in Roger’s reaction.  “Was he impressed? With my six-time Tony-winning date?”  Right there I thought, my god, this guy is clueless.  Luckily, he gets that clue.  “And when Roger looked at me, he saw that I was just today’s eye candy, an expensive accessory like a watch.  The boy du jour.”  That one simple thing made Fletch take a hard look at himself.  “Let’s be honest – if you go on a date and can show profit at the end of the evening, there’s a word for that.  And that’s what Roger saw when he looked at me.”

Fletch also comes to realize that what he wants in life is Roger.  Roger has a boyfriend, Jeffrey, another lawyer but that doesn’t matter to Fletch.  He wants Roger back and he wants to do it right this time.  We get some flashbacks not only into the pain Fletch caused Roger but also the how they met and some good things.  “And although it ended miserably, which spoiled everything, if I could look beyond that – and let’s face it, I hardly ever could – but when I could look beyond that, I could see it had been a fantastic period in my life.  I knew it at the time.  I’d never been happier, and I had thought it would go on like that forever.”  Oh, Roger.

This is told in alternating first person point of view, so we get the full extent of Fletch’s remorse and Roger’s pain.   This is more striking because Roger is dealing with his current boyfriend, the infamous Jeffrey, who often acts like a jerk.  The Jeffrey of book two doesn’t seem to be the same Jeffrey here.  He does two terrible things, one of which I would expect of him but the other shocked me. No wonder Fletch got so angry, “Imagine how I felt, hearting Roger defend this smug, self-righteous, hypocritical little pr**k”. 

Fletch goes to great lengths to win Roger back, and sometimes is dangerously close to being a stalker, but he’s putting Roger first this time, all the way. Roger is trying to fight it because he’s scared.  The effects of infidelity can be long lasting and far reaching.  “Because that’s what it came down to.  Sure, Fletch says he loves me, and maybe he even meant it….But does any of this mean that he isn’t going to pull his boxers down for the next casual acquaintance or total stranger who looks even mildly interested?”  That is the biggest hurdle. 

As in Jeffrey and Theo’s book, there are times I wanted to hug Roger (well, that was really all the time) and times I wanted to hug Fletch.  These guys, they grow on you and make you care what happens.  When the bad things come out, I cringed and wanted it somehow to work out.

We get the history of Fletch, which isn’t pretty and he doesn’t share easily, and we get his dedicated efforts to win Roger back.  There are times when Jeff and Fletch seem like they are about to pee on Roger to stake their claim.  It was funny and ridiculous.   We also get to have Tommy in this and he is completely lovely.  I want his story so badly.  He gives such great advice.  “I don’t know.  Have you ever asked him?” 

One thing that I would have liked was a better reason why Fletch cheated on Roger, constantly and repeatedly, when he himself admitted he was a great boyfriend. Yes, I get it that Fletch didn’t believe in love, didn’t believe in relationships, didn’t believe in anything, but it really made him shallow.  “You could think twice about hurting me horribly, or you could get – whatever- with whomever.  And we can see which was more important to you.”  Even though it’s two years in the past, my heart broke for Roger. 

There is no on-page sex here and that worked for me.  I have a problem with all issues big and small being solved by the magic penis.  It makes me roll my eyes.  Here, they have to work things out the old fashioned way.  While I’m sure people are going to skip this book because of the infidelity, as I was going to, that would be a shame because that isn’t what this is about.  It’s about redemption, forgiveness and understanding what you need.  I would highly recommend this. 

The cover, two men walking a Scottish terrier with only half their heads visible, was pretty spot on for me.  The casual elegant beauty of Fletch and the more buttoned up handsomeness of Roger.  Oddly, throughout the book I kept picturing Roger as older or less attractive.  Maybe I was judgy about his name.  But the depiction on the cover is more how he should be. 

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Lyrical Press
Original TitleWhere Do I Start?
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhy You? #1

Release Day Blitz Drama Queens and Adult Themes by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)


Title:  Drama Queens and Adult Themes

Series: Actors and Angels, book 2

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 22, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 62350

Genre: Fantasy, performance arts, contemporary, established relationship, angels, over 40, open relationship, age gap, ménage, cheating, drugs, death, romance, fantasy, paranormal, cisgender

Add to Goodreads


Adam’s about to discover how much drama a mid-life crisis can be. He’s obsessed with Mannix, the nude model in his art class. But Adam has been married to Wade for nearly two decades, and they don’t have an open relationship.

Little do they know that Fabien, a warlock from the Afterlife, has secretly cast a spell of lust on Adam and his potential toy-boy.

As things begin to heat up, Adam’s guardian angel, Guy, steps in. But what’s the best way to save the relationship? Should Guy subdue Adam’s wandering passions or instigate a steamy threesome?


Drama Queens and Adult Themes
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One


He stood wearing a velvety white towel and an eager grin. Either could’ve disappeared at my whim. I smelled the freshly laundered lemon scent of the towel combined with the odor of his body sweat, which I was dying to lick from his forehead. I’m always a sucker for a devil-may-care attitude. It makes me weak at the knees in an instant, but in this case, I was already reclined in my gleaming white tub, so there was no danger of losing my balance. The water filled to the brim, and I knew that when he joined me, he would splash the tiles below.

I’d only known him for half an hour, and already I was under his spell. Was he a young man of style, or was he a man of simple tastes? Did he have a daytime career that gave him the world at his fingertips, or did he simply have the freedom of freelance engagements?

Time slowed as his luxurious towel fell to the floor. His body was not toned like a swimwear model. His features would never inspire a dozen wet dreams. It was his everyday physical qualities that were driving me wild. That tuft of silky chest hair that traced its way to his belly button. He even had a little flab. Not too much, just a tad. To me, it signaled a man of zero pretense.

But as the towel was now on the floor, his upper body wasn’t what I was focusing on. He lifted one leg and eased himself into the water. The other leg followed as instinct lured my face toward his luscious…

“At some point, Adam, you do need to put pencil to paper,” said my art teacher. He had crept up behind me.

My wayward daydream vanished. Hopefully, I’d find it again before bedtime. I blushed and so did the nude model. I quickly drew a line, but it wasn’t in keeping with the young man’s form.

I was startled at my own behavior. A man of my age wasn’t supposed to act like a starstruck teenager. My instructor gently gripped my hand and guided my pencil to create a more natural line.

The model winked at me as some of the other students chuckled. Another budding male artist with bleached-blond hair nodded in my direction, smiling slyly.

“Okay, I admit it. My mind was somewhere else, and I apologize to the model,” I said.

All eyes in the room were on me.

“I’m flattered,” the model replied.

“It’s not like me to act like this, seriously.”

“Can I get you a glass of water?” asked the teacher.

“Thanks but I’ll get one myself. I think I need a walk. I’ll catch up on my drawing as soon as I get back.”

I rushed out of the classroom. This was all too weird in my situation. I was in my early forties and still madly in love with the man I’d shared my life with for the last eighteen years. We had a healthy sex life, even though I fantasized more than I’d like to admit. In fact, any dreamy man wandering past my view would arouse my animal instincts faster than a straight guy in a room of lipstick lesbians. But this young man posing for art class had my tongue dragging so close to the floor I was licking it clean. I was definitely not ready for a midlife crisis, or so I thought.

I sat on a seat in the corridor. Was I capable of having a discreet fling? I lightly slapped myself on the cheek, waking up to how ridiculous this question was. Why would he want to have an affair with an old fart like me?

It was the middle of winter, and I could already feel chilled air on the tip of my nose. I stood up and headed for the bathroom. I splashed warm water on my face. I stared at the mirror, giving my reflection some sound advice.

“Adam, get a grip. You don’t know this guy, but suddenly he’s invaded your thoughts. Yes, I know he looks really cute up there with nothing but that devilish grin and a pair of turquoise socks, but come on now, he can’t be more than thirty!”

“Seems like you’re smitten,” alleged the bleached-blond student.

He had wandered through the door and was heading for the urinal.

“Were you standing outside long?”

“I heard you down the corridor. Nothing to be ashamed of, really. This is my fourth class, and I’ve had to draw that same model once before. He hasn’t got the perfect body, but boy has he got the perfect attitude. Alluring, and if there is a god, available.”

The blond zipped up his fly and wandered to the sink next to me.

“I agree, but I usually don’t go around acting like a schoolgirl with a crush.”

“Enjoy it. Not all their models have that much charisma.”

We escorted each other back to art class where the other students had made headway on their drawings. I focused on the model’s socks in an attempt to concentrate on my artwork, rather than the young man’s prominent feature. Soon the ankles were added before my pencil carefully outlined his masculine legs.

As I traced up to the hip, I sighed as I studied his most manly asset. How should I draw it? Would the teacher fail me if I portrayed it erect? After all, a great artist should display his own feelings on the sketchpad.

I decided to skip his crotch and draw his chest. His slightly defined chest. Not too developed, but not devoid of shape either. The small tuft of dark hair in the center of the upper body was outlined with great care. Outlining shape was one thing, but defining the type of chest hair someone had was another. A trail of thick small lines was carefully added to the picture from the torso to the navel.

“Okay folks, pencils down.”

The teacher wandered around the room giving us feedback. The charming model reached for a pair of frayed blue jeans, which were neatly folded over the back of a chair just an arm’s length away. He pulled them up and carefully buttoned the fly around his naked assets, as he clearly hadn’t brought underwear.

“We’ll have him back in a couple of weeks if you want to complete this particular drawing,” said the teacher.

He gave me a cheeky look.

“How far did you get?” asked the model.

He grabbed his dusty-pink T-shirt and snuggled into it tightly.

“Not as far as I would have liked,” I replied.

“Let’s see.”

He strolled over to my unfinished work. I was anxious by the thought of only a patch of denim between me and the model’s private bulge. I concentrated on my artwork and tried not to let the man’s proximity lead me to more wicked thoughts. Who was I kidding?

I had to divert my attention to our teacher instead, who was heading my way. He was a funky, retired chap. Black thick-rimmed glasses, peppered hair, and beard with a gentle face. The kind of man who’d take long walks with his wife in the park and watch Sunday arts programs on television.

“For the short amount of time you spent on this, you did pretty well for a newcomer,” he said. “But what are these strange lines to his side?”

“Um, I had this desire to add wings to my subject.”


“I know it’s odd, but you did say at the beginning of class not to be constrained by what we see, and that we all see characteristics differently.”

“Yeah, but wings? Are you picturing our model as some kind of angel?”

“Why not? I’m seeing caring characteristics.”

The young man gave me a saintly smile. The teacher stroked his chin before pointing to the socks I’d drawn.

“Are my ankles really that shape?” the model asked.

He bent over to take a closer look. I wanted to bury my tongue in the nape of his neck and lick off any imaginary sweat.

“Yes, that’s the shape of your ankles,” the instructor replied. He gestured toward a student near the window. “Ian over there did a better job on your ankles, but Adam really did well on your socks. The way the shape of the feet peep through the cotton is not something I expect from a first-timer.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “I used to do a little sketch work last year but only amateur stuff. Still life from things around the house. A clock, fruit, dirty laundry, that sort of thing.”

“Bring in your drawings next week. I’d like to see them.” He spoke up to address the class. “Now let’s check out Ian’s work, and Carla’s. Ian knows his ankles, and Carla’s good with faces.”

We walked over to look at Ian’s sketch as the other students followed. Ian’s careful study of the model’s feet almost made them look bare. Carla captured the man’s cheeky smirk skillfully, making that feature alone the highlight of her image. The budding blond artist did his best work with the chest and hips, although they were considerably more masculine than they needed to be.

We all made the rounds, admiring and commenting on the other artworks before ending back at my attempt. There were unanimous compliments about the socks, sparking the suspicion that I must have a foot fetish. Like anyone, I had my kinks, but sucking toes was not one of them. There’s something about a tinea marinade that just doesn’t float my boat.

“You know, Adam, maybe you’re onto something with the angel wings,” said Carla. “I would have put a wry smile and devil horns on him, just because I think he’s cheeky. But you see him as virtuous.”

“Divine, maybe, but not virtuous,” I replied.

Everyone strolled back to their easels to pack away their portraits except for the appealing model. He stayed to chat. He even helped me roll up the drawing as I studied the way his skillful hands worked with a cylindrical object.

“I’ll be back here in a couple of weeks if you want to finish the picture. They use me at least once a month.”

“Getting naked doesn’t bother you?”

“I have open-minded parents. They used to take me to nudist beaches when I was a kid.”

“Only child?”

“Only child.”


“A bit. Still am, I suppose, even living away from home. Mum’s always dropping off baked dinners or cookies for me and my flatmate. You’d think we can’t fend for ourselves.”

“I’m Adam,” I said.

I raised my hand, and he shook it firmly.

“Mannix. Please don’t ask what my parents were thinking when they came up with that name. On marijuana or something.”

“I like it.”

“I want to change it, eventually.”

“What to?”

“At this stage, I haven’t a clue.”

“Keep it. It sounds like the name of a secret agent.”

“Yeah, a pretty lame one at that.”

Mannix handed me my picture as I beamed at him, probably resembling a lonely bachelor with a crush on an enigmatic porn star.

“I’m honored you were taken with the subject matter,” he teased.

“Between you and me, Mannix, that’s never happened to me before. I’m sorry if I was staring.”

“Not blowing my own trumpet or anything, but Adam, you wouldn’t be the first.” He winked, which kind of made me feel embarrassed. “Do you need a lift somewhere?”

“It’s okay. I have my car.”

Instantly, I regretted this admission of car ownership. Could I grab those words from the air and stuff them back in my mouth? My beautiful partner, Wade, was not going to be home for at least another hour and a half, and maybe, just maybe? I snapped back from my adolescent thoughts and sighed.

“Do you want a nightcap before going home?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied with the zeal of a henpecked man about to get a lap dance. “I mean, sure. That’s a good idea. Whatever you want. Drink. Good suggestion.”

“Is that bar on Clarence Street on your way home?”

“As a matter of fact, it is.”

It was actually in the opposite direction.

“Looks like we’ve got a date.”

He walked ahead of me before helping get my pencils and my sketch onto the passenger seat of my car. It was a ten-year-old modest two-door hatch, which Wade and I had bought secondhand. We both used to drive it before my partner fell in love with a flashier sedan he’d found at a dealership.

I thanked Mannix as he walked to the opposite row of vehicles parked at the neighborhood center. The beep of the automatic lock made a sporty little mini double blink its headlights.

The young man eased into his understated luxury car with unassuming confidence. I was a sucker for material items I couldn’t afford, especially this type of tasteful indulgence. Mannix teased his engine before letting his vehicle make its way out of the car park.

I sat there for a minute or two, wondering if I was doing the right thing. After all, I was only going for a drink. Wasn’t I? Guilt was rising through my body. I could see Mannix climbing over me into that imaginary bathtub again. His basket of goodies inviting this old wolf to sample.

I turned the key and started my engine. As I made my way to the street, my thoughts alternated between Technicolor adultery and refined G-rated friendship. Did Mannix have an ulterior motive, or was I full of wishful thinking? It wouldn’t be hard to hide this fling from Wade, even if we just decided to meet up on another night when I was supposed to be at art class.

No, bugger it. Why wait? There was a bathtub waiting at home, and Wade was at his salsa lesson and wouldn’t be home for at least another hour. The tub would be filled to the brim, a bottle of champagne, two glasses, and a Northern soul compilation drifting in from the lounge room.

But then, I wondered what would happen if Wade’s dancing partner, Tim, didn’t need a lift home. He’d be home early. How would I have explained my need to bathe? Perhaps the other students attacked me with their charcoal crayons. Maybe the teacher hated my work so much that I was berated to the point of needing to soak up the tension.

I pictured Mannix on our sofa when Wade came home. I would try several coded words to let my husband know that a threesome was on my mind.

But this wasn’t our style. We didn’t invite costars to our bed. In fact, like most long-term couples we went through phases of being either solely devoted or acting more like two confident individuals. In recent months, we’d behaved like old souls who knew we couldn’t live without each other. We’d hold each other before we fell into slumber and awake needing to possess each other again. But it might have been fun to share that experience with Mannix.

I pulled up in front of the pub, still reeling from my own errant imagination. I took one deep breath to jolt myself back to reality. It didn’t really work. My sense of guilt magnified while I pictured that bathtub again and Mannix’s soft lips cruising toward my own.

“Adam, are you okay?”

My gaze darted to the person who was knocking on the windscreen. It was Mannix, curious to why I was taking so long to get out of my car.


NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Cold Shadow (Cold Country #2) by Mercy Celeste


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story was powerfully moving, deeply chilling, and amazingly complex. But before I even begin to review it, I need to share some of the triggers that may be problems for some readers. I know I was caught off guard by a few of them and, though they are definitely issues for some people, I was honestly shocked that they didn’t turn me away from this riveting drama.

So proceed with caution if any of these are your triggers because the scenes are vivid and realistic in many of these situations: descriptions of past rape, abuse, and torture; dubious consent; rough, often violent, sex scenes; cheating—on multiple occasions; ménage, and with it, double penetration.

Where to start? First of all, to understand this story you really need to read book one first: In From the Cold in which Nathan Truman was kidnapped, raped, tortured, and brutalized at the hands of a law enforcement coworker turned monster. Nathan’s high school best friend and lover, now deeply closeted—but still involved with him—country western superstar, Quinn Anders, was able to save Nathan’s life with help from FBI Agent, Drew Walker, a secondary character in book one. As book one ended, Nathan and Quinn had made plans to be together quietly and out of the limelight, but to be committed and to raise Quinn’s daughter by an early marriage together. Their relationship would be low profile to the world at large, but known to those closest to them, and Nathan would go back to work in law enforcement. It would be for the local sheriff’s office after he had time to make peace with what happened and heal both physically and, hopefully, psychologically from the trauma.

And that’s where this book opens, but the quiet life they planned falls apart early in the story as someone is kidnapping and maiming Hispanic workers from Truman Steel and the FBI sends in an undercover officer to assess the situation. The officer they send, complete with lip piercings and a whole lot of attitude, is none other than Drew Walker, the Feeb from book one. Apparently his mother is Hispanic and he was raised in a household of Spanish-speaking family members so he’s able to fit in comfortably. Assisting him in getting into the plant is Nathan’s sister, Natalie, who’s now the manager, and Natalie’s boyfriend, the Hispanic foreman.

The story is way too complex to try to condense in any sort of detail in a review, however, it’s easy to sum up in generalizations. First and foremost, there’s apparently a lot more going on with Nathan’s and Quinn’s relationship than most people know—both now and in the past. Quinn not only loves rough and violent sex, he’s participated in it during many past occasions and has not remained faithful to Nathan. In fact, there’s a history there between he and Drew, the man who was portrayed as straight in book one. And Nathan is sexually attracted to Drew as well. As mentioned before, this story features ménage—some pretty hot ménage, to be sure—including a scene of double penetration. But it’s the violence that might turn some readers away. Though they ostensibly love each other, there is very little tender sex between Nathan and Quinn. In fact, it’s most often brutal.

Add to that, Nathan’s nightmares of his past kidnapping, and Quinn’s behaviors when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol early in his career and sold himself for a high, and you get the picture. Now, with the new round of kidnappings and mutilation of the victims, the terror comes closer when Natalie’s boyfriend goes missing. When one of the men is then taken while out hunting the kidnapper, all will have to put their personal needs, plans, and lies aside to bring the killer to justice. And though the culprit may be a shocker, the danger is not lessened when booby traps get triggered.

Honestly, as I write this review, I wonder how I can say I enjoyed the story so much, and yet I did. That indeed is a tribute to the author who dragged me into every scene and gave me a new appreciation of her talent. Unfortunately, the end of the story didn’t have the twist I’d hoped for. I held out the hope until the very last sentence of the story when the statement made totally disappointed me. It may have been 4.5 stars if not for that. I can’t go with 5 because of the cheating that was not mentioned in any of the blurbs or advanced summaries I read. Plus, even after I went back to the previous story and searched for indications that Drew was more important to these men than appeared on the surface, I can’t shake the feeling he was a very minor character in the first story and much of what is revealed in this one as having taken place during the time of the first one doesn’t have a firm foundation in the first book. (Sorry if that sounds confusing.) So a 4 star review here. But overall, I do recommend it to those who like a dark and/or kinky story and can forgive the cheating.

Cover art shows the muscular, bare-chested Nathan in the forefront with the shadow of a man with a guitar in the background, an obvious representation of closeted Quinn.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 308 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by MJC Press
SeriesCold Country #2

A Sammy Review: Rival Within by S.J.D. Peterson


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5


“Sometimes it’s those unexpected storms that pop up out of nowhere that leave you the most satisfied after they pass.” Ben looked up at Tom with hooded lids. “Wouldn’t you agree, Officer?”

Tom pulled Ben’s keys from his pocket and handed them to Ben. “And sometimes they leave the most destruction,” Tom said coldly and opened the door.

Rival Within coverThomas Webber takes his vows in life seriously. He’s a proud officer of the law, a loving father, and he provides for his wife. He also vowed a long time ago to resist a temptation that resides deep within himself. That all changes one night when he comes across William Benjamin Parker, a stranded traveler with a hard edge and an irresistible edge.

When a storm hits the small town, the two are left stranded beneath the police station. It’s too much for Tom to resist, and finally he breaks down and gives into the desires he’s been hiding for so long.

But it’s the 1950s, and being gay only gets you ostracized or worse. And Tom’s got a family and a life to live.

Can these two weather the storm, both within each other and out in the world?

He wasn’t afraid of the new storm rolling in. The one that had blown through in the form of William Parker had already caused Tom’s complete destruction.

I was so excited for this. A new S.J.D. Peterson and a story line that sounded oh so promising. I literally couldn’t wait to read it… so I didn’t.

And I’m very sad to say that it was a big let down for me on many fronts. The first chapter was your usual character building one, in which we get to know Tom and the pressures he faces as a father, husband, and officer who has a secret. After that, the book went right into the storm and I found it to be completely unrealistic and all too sudden for me. It really felt off. For example, Ben strips down in the cell and is wearing just a towel when the storm hits. Uh… what? And then a bottle of oil magically appears when it is needed, and again, I was left to ask “what?”

Another issue I had is that the title is Rival Within – which implies that someone’s greatest rival is their inner demons, in this case, that would be Tom’s inner demons. This held up for a few chapters, and then suddenly, Tom was at peace with himself following an impromptu blow job (a hot one, but still). He’d spent his entire life building this hatred up, and for it to crumble so easily felt like it wasn’t doing the story justice. It was just too easy. With the ending, I was also a bit angered at how easily <spoiler>.

Finally, this is meant to be a historical novel. It’s set in Tennessee in 1952. I love historicals. They have a way of transporting you to a different time and place when done right. In this case, it could’ve been any year, even present, in any small town across the United States. I sensed when the author was trying to pull in bits of history, but it didn’t really work. The small town thing still exists, and this didn’t transport me anywhere beyond middle-of-nowhere United States. At one point, a character even puts a camera in his pocket. Granted, I’m not an expert of the 1950s, but I have a hard time imaging a camera that fits in ones pocket.

This book tries to tackle a lot of pretty deep topics. For one, it has an obvious theme of adultery, which you can tell just from the blurb. But it also has a really heavy amount of religion to it, which I expected, but if you’re someone who is uncomfortable with organized religions in your story, this really won’t be for you. It also has a bit of post WWII issues for a returning soldier, and then out of nowhere comes pedophilia – see spoiler for more on this. A character (not main) is caught with an underage boy. In order to blackmail him, they have another underage boy perform a sexual act with him and take pictures. It’s not really in detail, but if you’re triggered by even the idea, I wanted to let you know it exists. There is also some of what I would consider heavy alcohol use, bordering on abuse. It’s not framed that way in the story, and it could very well be the time frame, but it did stick out to me.

So that’s all of my bones to pick with the story, but it did have positives. I enjoyed Marna and how she was depicted. I expected one thing and got a complete other, and I was happy with that. I also think it had a lot of potential in general with the plot, it just didn’t come through. As a whole, it was flat.

I will not give up on S.J.D Peterson, though. One of my favorites are by Peterson, this just wasn’t one of them.

The cover art by Anna Sikorska is pretty nice. I think Anna really hit the right note with the grunge aspect, and I appreciate the use of font. It’s simple but the blurring works for the story. The problem is that there’s a heavy area around the left eye that stands out, and not in the best of ways. Furthermore, I thought this was meant to be Ben, but Ben is known to have a scar across his face – something notably missing from the cover.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press  eBook & Paperback              All Romance (ARe)             Amazon       buy it here

Book Details:

Expected publication: December 29th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish

Review of All The Kings Men by R.J. Scott


Review written for JoyfullyJay blog on 3/24/2012

Rating: 4 stars

Review of All the King’s Men by R. J. Scott

When Nathan Richardson and his boyfriend, Ryan Ortiz, broke up over Ryan’s cheating, Nathan headed for LA to pursue his acting career.  But all those miles between them didn’t stop their love or need for each other.  Months later, Ryan is heading for Los Angeles, determined to reunite with Nathan, beg his forgiveness, and hope that love will bring him home.  But Nature throws the biggest obstacle of all in their path, when the doomsday earthquake hits southern California.  Now LA is destroyed, Nathan is trapped under the rubble and Ryan is his only hope.

I liked the characters of Nathan and Ryan although they did not seem to have the usual amount of layers to them that I have come to expect of R. J. Scott.  Ryan’s insecurity that led to his infidelity never felt particularly real, in fact of the two main characters, he is the least fleshed out.  Nathan on the other hand, with his impetuous flight to California, and then his regret over ending his relationship, seems credibly young in outlook and emotions.  It is RJ Scott’s vivid descriptions of the destruction of Los Angeles, the fires, the carnage that make this book come to life.  The shear desperation that comes from the inability to get to a road, use a cell phone, and even finding a method of transportation when all is collapsing around you rises up from each and every page as Ryan struggles with the new harsh reality of the earthquake and its aftershocks.  The author skillfully pulls you along with Ryan up the hills above LA, now burning with wildfires.  All the angst and heartbreaking moments that occur during that climb will stay with you and remind you of similar scenes on the screen during any natural disaster.  Nathan, trapped under the rubble of his building, alone with his fears and pain, brings the plight of the disaster victim home, the reader empathizing with him in the dark wondering if anyone will come.

In many ways this story is also a cautionary tale of how easily the infrastructure we all depend upon can crumble.  While it is clear that RJ Scott has done her research, it is a credit to her that it never feels that way, from the National Guard to the makeshift mobile medical tents, all beautifully rendered in every detail. The true main character here is not Ryan or Nathan, it is the earthquake and the destructive power of Nature.  It will leave the greatest impact upon the reader.

If you are wondering why this book did not get a higher rating with all I have said about it above, it comes down to two things, one minor and one huge.  The prologue and the epilogue to be exact.  The Prologue is short and gives us information that most of us already know, that California is prone to earthquakes and that the biggest is yet to come.  This is all general knowledge, but ok, just a minor quibble.  But oh, that Epilogue. That’s simply not needed, and to be it bluntly kind of cheesy.  And not in a good way cheesy.  I mean cheesy in the way they tacked on endings to the disaster films of the 70’s and 80’s way.  As the last credits rolled, pictures popped up of the survivors along with a couple of lines of text, telling us what happened to them.  You know what I mean,  something like  ” Little Sally, cute child, lived to become a famous Astronaut/Brain Surgeon,  likable Granny lived to a ripe old age of 100.  Peter Everyman died in a car accident a year after fill in the blank happened.”  I believe the SyFy channel is still carrying on this proud tradition in its over the top “cheesy in a good way” movies.  That I applaud while this appalled.  I would not have minded if it stated that Ryan and Nathan moved where ever but it gave too much information about them and everyone else, more than I needed or wanted to know.  But the worst was to come.  That would be the ridiculous future of Los Angeles laid out here.  It looked at though it was a outline for a book she meant to write but then threw it in a part of the epilogue.  It had nothing to do with Nathan and Ryan, more like History of LA, part Deau.  In fact, that almost brought the rating down to a 3 I disliked it that much.  But if you discard the prologue, ditch the epilogue, then you have a great tale.  So yes, read this, but like an Oreo cookie, start with the Middle, then the prologue if you have too and give the end away.  Really, you don’t need it! Trust me.

Cover:  I liked the cover with the flames and helicopter but wonder at the pictures of the naked guys.  Did they lose their clothes in the fire?  Because as both protagonists were so badly injured for the entire book, sex was the last thing on their minds. *Head desk*.  Half a great cover.