A MelanieM Review: Calloway by Thad J.

Standard

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Welcome to the Township of Calloway! Home of the world-famous Daddy Cains’ Foods Company, a staple for the local community.

No one knows this better than James (Jimmy) Cain, heir to the family business, and his father’s pride and joy. With his limitless resources and a family that is always there for him, his life could not be more perfect. But that changes when he meets Benjamin Rei.

A determined and intelligent man, Benjamin is a junior acquisitions officers eager to close his first major purchase. His company has set Daddy Cains’ between its crosshairs and will stop at nothing to get it. Although Benjamin has a simple enough task, people and forces outside of his control will test the limits of just how far he is willing to go to make it to the top.

First of all, I’m well-versed in Southern small town living, having parents who both grew up in small southern towns and scads of relatives (whole States worth) who never left and send invitations to family reunions regularly. So I always look forward to books that have that theme or location going for them.  Calloway certainly seems to fit the bill.

However, don’t go looking for this to be a romance, as it’s not really.  More like a family drama, southern style.  In Calloway, author Thad J. lays down his foundation of town history, complicated intertwined relationships going back decades (or further), current explosive family dynamics, and the power struggle going on for control of the world-famous Daddy Cains’ Foods Company.  If that sounds like a lot of exposition, it is.   Calloway is crammed full, so much at times you might just need a notepad to keep all the players straight.

It helps that the dialog is lively, the characters interesting… like James (Jimmy) Cain who is both constant sexdog and crafty businessman, ditto his father.  However, I found Benjamin less than charming.  I suspect I’m supposed to like him and connect more with him as an outsider, however, given my background, I saw him more as an interloper and his acts self serving or worse.  No matter where I was in the story, my vision of Ben never really changed, that includes the ending.

There are many twists and turns here, some really neat ones, some you see coming.  And the end is, depending upon how you look at it either a nonexistent or a total cliffhanger, which is my way of saying you have no idea of how it ends.  Not my favorite here or elsewhere and it brought the rating down.

If you’re a fan of southern literature, snappy dialog and surprise twists, Calloway might be the book for you.  Just  don’t way I didn’t warn you about the ending.

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow.  I like the cover.  BBQ contests and pop.  Very appealing.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 271 pages
Published July 10th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN13 9781947139404
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Optical Illusion (Paint #1) by Emma Jaye

Standard

Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

optical-illlusionSmile, wiggle, lie, apologise, and run for the hills.

That’s the formula Chris has used all his life, but this time, he has something he’s never had to lose before, a family that cares. The problem is, his new brother’s very edible friend isn’t fooled by his act. If his secrets are revealed, they won’t want him and he has nowhere else to go.

Thanks to a suicide bomber, ex-military police sergeant Jase Rosewood is back in the English countryside. His plans for quiet recuperation are ruined by the effervescent, go-go dancing twink who has everyone wrapped around his little finger. Luckily for the gullible Matt, Jase can smell a liar a mile away, and Chris Bacon, if that’s even his name, stinks to high heaven. Assigned ‘Chris-sitting’ duty while Matt’s on honeymoon, Jase has a week to discover what is hidden beneath the bright camouflage. It’s a job, just like any other, so why does it feel so different?
Unfortunately, Jase isn’t the only one drawn to the boy who can’t stay still, but instead of wanting to reveal his true colours; they want to dull them forever.

Contains issues of physical abuse, but not between the central couple.

What an incredible story.  Emma Jaye, a new author for me, has written an angst filled, gritty book almost guaranteed to make you run through a range of emotions, not all of them welcome.  I was very surprised by the shift in tone and feel of the story from the beginning.  I was really expecting a different story than the one the author delivered.  From the blurb, it comes off  much lighter in theme and tone.  Not  so.  This is a dark story in almost every aspect and those expecting a light romance will be not only disappointed but find it  overwhelming in its pain and mystery at points. There is a gang rape.  Well handled, not as graphic as it could have been but its there. And the aftermath on the character is realistic and horrific.  But lets back up. I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Jase Rosewood…layered complicated man, home with his planned career gone and his future uncertain meets Chris while at his best friend’s wedding.  A best friend who he used to be in love with.  Oh the complications.  But that’s all very straightforward because Chris Bacon is a Rubik’s Cube of a character.  He’s really beautifully written.  Jaye take’s her time showing us and Jase one side, only to start ripping that to shreds the next, unveil another, then that one is gone too.  Its done  with such angst, pain, and vulnerability on the part of Chris that our heart just bleeds for him and Jase, and all around him.  His past has  taught Chris one thing, his present is trying to show him another is possible and Chris can’t believe in a future for himself.  Its heartbreaking.  As much as Jase tries to protect Chris, and Chris wobbles between his past and present, the reader is caught up in the author’s scary storyline and both their lives.

There are any number of mysteries here.  A relationship between Jase and Chris that tries hard to find itself, an almost impossible feat given the characters and the circumstances surrounding them.  Things that I cannot go into because this whole book is one big spoiler, one small mention can lead to you knowing what’s coming in the next.

But my biggest disappointment is that cliffhanger ending.  Its why this book didn’t get the 5 star rating it probably deserves.  I have rated other cliffhangers higher but those were serialized stories, meant to end in such a manner.  Not a novel.  A novel, for me at least, comes with a certain expectation of at least some ending, even though you can see where another story will pick up.  Not a ending like this.

The second book, Blank Canvas, is out.  Boy, am I going to approach that one with trepidation and a ton of curiosity.   I need to know what happened here but I’m afraid to know what this author will do to these outstanding characters and my heart in the process.  She’s really that good.  I guess I’ll be finding out.  I must know.  That means you will too.

So who should read this story?   Those who love their romances dark, angst filled and hurt/comfort.  This is not for those who like sweet, light romances.  Emma Jaye is a new author and this is a terrific story.  Take a chance on it if it sounds like the type of love story you like.  I highly recommend it.  I’m on to book two.

Not crazy about the cover.  Could have been so much better.

Sales Links

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 333 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Purindoors Publications
Original TitleOptical Illusion
ASINB01KCB8UX0
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPaint:

 

A MelanieM Review: Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2) by Shira Anthony

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Blood and Ghosts coverWith vampire Nicolas Lambert’s marriage to a rival clanswoman only weeks away, Adrien Gilbert struggles to come to terms with his defeat at the hands of Verel Pelletier, a vampire hunter and an immortal like himself. Adrien and his former teacher, Roland Günter, begin to explore his newly acquired abilities. But without his soul’s sword, Adrien flounders.

On Nicolas’s wedding day, a two-hundred-year old secret is revealed, sending the wedding party into a blazing battle between hunters and vampires. Once again Adrien finds himself facing Pelletier’s superior strength. Just as Adrien believes all hope of a future with Nicolas is lost, he finally learns his true gift—he can turn back time. But time travel comes with a high cost. To save Nicolas, Adrien must become strong enough to use his power without descending into madness.

After the death and destruction of Blood and Rain (Blood #1), I was hoping for some resolution to some of the loose ends and ever expanding plot threads but I should have known better as Blood and Ghosts is the middle story of Shira Anthony’s Blood Trilogy.  This book only ups the drama, danger, and multiple timelines these characters seem to exist in.  And therein lies this story’s strengths and weaknesses.

Time travel can be an extremely tricky element in any story but especially in one where one of the main characters or perhaps more, switch time frames frequently within chapters or pages for that matter.  For me, this format worked in several ways.  As Adrien chases not only his enemy Pelletier through  time, he is also looking frantically for his beloved Nicholas, who Pelletier has stolen away (long story, you must read the first book for this one to make any sense at all).  As the search continues through multiple eras and time periods, an exhausted Adrien is carrying with him the knowledge of the future, and all the dangers that brings with it.  With each change, the suspense and anxiety increases along with Adrien’s anguish and physical exhaustion.  We can connect with the fact that he’s losing hope with each century he passes through.  Anthony’s format serves to involve us with Adrien’s emotions and pain as the search continues even as his enemy taunts him.  I liked seeing all the “different” Adriens that existed, even if we see them only briefly.  I also liked getting more of a sense of history behind the various feuds and vampire/hunter lore.  That also serves to solidify some of the world building laid down in the first story.  But there is a downside to all this time flipping, and that’s confusion and a tendency towards density.

There are so many different eras and time periods to keep track of and with them, different logistical nightmares and ever expanding plot threads that your mind can grow tired trying to keep track of them all and how they figure into whatever current situation Adrien is finding himself in at the time.   I had to refer back to my notes several times in order to figure out  who was where at what time and why.  I can see what Anthony was going for and its works in the long view, however, I also wished for a few less stops along the time continuum and a tighter time line for the story all together.   At one point we are just jumping around way too much for us to get a feel for the “Nicholas” seen or for the other characters that are involved, there’s just not enough “time” for that to happen.

Make no mistake, there are some very cool components here.  I loved all the action sequences and the stuff that happens with Adrien’s sword had me swooning with glee.  It was unexpected, wildly imaginative, and vividly realized.  And it also made other parts of the story pale in  comparison.    Now that was a battle.

And while Adrien is believably flawed, impatient, angry, and powerful, Nicholas remains a bit of a shadow character.  I was just starting to get a sense of him before the traumatic events of Blood and Rain.  Then nothing.  I find him even more elusive here than Adrien does, and the switching of personas through the centuries doesn’t help that.  I’m continually told that their love is eternal and they know it “through the blood”.  But I would have wished for more showing to help me connect with the person behind all the drama and events that happen.

Blood and Ghosts is the middle story in this trilogy and it ends on a heartbreaker of a cliffhanger, one I can’t wait to see the author write her way out of.  I thought it was a fascinating way to end this story as it supplies tons of questions with little answers, its thought provoking in a major way and the riddle it implies will keep you guessing until we get the answers in early 2016 which is when the final story, Blood and Eternity, will come out.   If you aren’t a fan of cliffhangers, perhaps you might want to wait and read all three stories one right after the other.   If you are like me and have the impulse control of a magpie, then go ahead and pick this up and see what happened after the carnage of Blood and Rain.

But if you are new to this trilogy, run back to the first story and start there otherwise you will find yourself lost in time, along with the characters here.  For all vampire lovers, this is a new take on vampire lore and vampire hunters.  This story and series is beautifully written, intricately plotted and heavy with elements and logistics.  And yes, there’s some hot men/vampires and sexy times too.  The time travel can get a wee bit wearying but hang in there, for the acton sequences and rocky journey to everlasting love worth every minute, hour, and year.  Now if only I could time travel my way to 2016 and get my hands on Blood and Eternity….

Cover art by Reese Dante. I’m not a fan of this cover, not sure why.  Perhaps its the models or the design color.  Either way, its more of a miss than hit.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press   –   All Romance (ARe) –  Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 242 pages, available in DSP paperback too
Published April 20th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press (first published April 2015)
ISBN139781634761154
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.shiraanthony.com/books/blood-and-ghosts/
seriesBlood #2

Books in the Blood Trilogy are:

A MelanieM Review: Blind Stud (King of Hearts #1) (PF 2015) by Havan Fellows

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

In a world where supernatural creatures openly exist, who can blame them for coalescing in one of the most fascinating and erotic places on earth? Welcome to New Orleans.

Laurant likes sex…

Blind Stud, King of Hearts cover PF2015Who is Laurant?  An incubus of course, so the pleasures of the flesh aren’t just enjoyment, they’re food. However, Laurant isn’t attracted to women, but to men.  In his family, being a gay demon means you are the wrong type of demon. And that makes Laurant’s life more than a little difficult when your family looks down on you for your choice of food and companionship.

But all that changes when Laurant catches sight of a lost and alone human who definitely needs his help…a gorgeous young man about to become prey to the human sort of predator.  Once saved, a larger mystery looms.  That of the stranger himself who is a stranger…to himself.

What are you supposed to do when you blink your eyes and realize you have no idea who or where you are? Pretty sure the answer isn’t trust a sex demon with your life…all things considered that may be the lesser of two evils…

You just know a series is going to be captivating when the first character you meet is not only unapologetically outrageous and charismatic but also oozes with merriment and sex appeal.  That’s Laurant.  A incubus with the appetites of a succubus.  Laurant comes equipped with corny pickup lines and the ability to make the local squirrels and any other living being around him, go into a sexual frenzied state.  He also has a more complex personality than is first apparent.  I think all readers will love Laurant upon introduction.  He’s a terrific character and Fellows did a great job in providing him with layers that makes one look past some of his more “eye rolling” actions and dialog.

But what or in this case who pulls at Laurant’s attention and needs is a young amnesiac he rescues off the streets in New Orleans.  First given the name “Vic” for victim by Laurant, the young man sets the incubus straight (kind of) and names himself for the street they are on.  For all the questions posed by his presence, Havan Fellows crafts a wonderful character who is a strong fascinating man behind the mystery and soon we are as drawn to him as Laurant is.

And yes, danger to both lurks just around the corner.  Fellows throws so many neat clues around the mystery man that I was making a list of bribes to offer her so she would tell me who and what he possibly might be.  And then that ending…

This story flew by so rapidly that it felt as though the ending appeared seconds after I started on page one.  Not true but I was so into this tale, that the story was over before I was ready for it to end.  For those of you for whom cliffhangers are beyond frustrating (you binge watchers know who I’m talking to), you just might want to wait for another story or two to come out.  Those readers who love to be surprised, stymied by plot and events, and who enjoy every minute of it, grab this up and start reading.

Round One is four stories and only two are out.  Each represents additional layers to the overall series and world building and you can see the stories start to interlock here as old and new characters appear.  But as interesting as those peripheral (for now) characters are, nothing and nobody will steal your  attention away from our couple here.  They are amusing and astonishingly equal in their interactions, sexually dynamic,  and just plain out engaging.  And they make this story unputdownable – yes, that’s a word and I’m sticking to it.

I highly recommend this story and its companion in the Altered States Pulp Friction 2015 combined story.  I’ve become a fan once more of serialized fiction and think you will feel the same.  If you are new to the Pulp Friction gang, once you’ve delved into these stories, go back and read the Pulp Friction series of 2013 and 2014…all terrific and must reads for me!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Great cover, love the model and the branding at the bottom.

Sales Links:     All Romance (ARe)        Amazon            Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 49 pages
Published March 1st 2015 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
ASINB00U634T2Q
edition languageEnglish

 

About Pulp Friction 2015
Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.
Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Not familiar with the Altered States series? Check them all out here:

Books in the Altered States Series in the order they should be read:
• Altered States (Altered States, #0.5) by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb
• Deep Blues Goodbye (Altered States, #1) by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb
• Deadly Shades of Gold (Altered States, #2) by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb
• Free Falling Crimson (Altered States, #3)  by Laura Harner and T. A. Webb (aka Tom Webb)

Review: Lying with Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions #2) by Aleksandr Voinov

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

If you lie with scorpions, you’d better have a taste for poison.

Lying with Scorpions coverNow that Adrastes, ex leader of the Scorpions and Kendras’s lover, has assumed the throne of Dalman along with his sister Queen, Kendras is finding himself increasingly out of his depths. He feels uncertain not only his own leadership of the Scorpions but of Adrastes the King. Kendras was brought up to fight, his enemy clear.  Now he is smothered in political games of treachery, poison and succession.  Even his past is shaken when old memories are stirred up of his childhood and parents.

Adrastes has a new role for the Scorpions, one which means leaving their centuries old rules and traditions behind to become a fighting army for the king.  Once Kendras would have followed Adrastes blindly but now he starts to have questions.  And with the arrival of the formidable Commander Graukar, General of the West, Kendras becomes even more unsettled.  Graukar is the opposite of everything that Adrastes seems to becoming.  Graukar is forthright, a formidable fighter, a person  unlike any Kendras has known before.  Now the future seems uncertain. What is the truth and what is false?  Can Kendras, the Officer and lover, still trust the man he risked everything to find and save?  Or is there more going on around Kendras that even he can imagine.

What a brutal and brilliant saga this is turning out to be.  In the first story of the series,Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions, #1), we are introduced to Kendras, member of the Scorpions, an elite fighting force that has been decimated by the constant warfare between the rival cities.  Kendras’ world has been a very straightforward place up until recently.  He had a mission, to find and rescue his Officer, the leader of the Scorpions who also happens to be his lover.  No person or obstacles kept Kendras from accomplishing his task.   His life is the Scorpions, a group of men who have become a family steeped in the traditions of this mercenary unit.  But by the end of that story, Adrastes, the Officer Kendras rescued turns out to be someone unexpected, a King. And upon assuming the throne, the title and responsibilities of the leadership of the Scorpions passes to Kendras.  Suddenly his life is overwhelmingly complicated and his loyalties stretched to include not just his close-knit band of fighters but a king and his political agenda.

One of the elements I appreciated with this story is the manner in which Voinov deepens his characterizations to compete with the equally evolving complexity of his plot.  With each new political intrigue or added plot layer the author unfolds a revelation about a character to ensure that all the elements remain in balance. Central to the story is the growth that Kendras must experience in order to cope with his ever changing (and precarious) position in almost every aspect of his life.   The author paints a very clear portrait of a man out of his depths, a “rank in file” soldier promoted to Officer, a position he reluctantly assumes.  His lover went from Officer of a small fighting corp to ruler of two city kingdoms and possibly more. Kendras used to be certain where he belonged and his role in the Scorpions, now everything around him feels like smoke and mirrors, leaving Kendras desperate to adjust.  The story is again told from Kendras’ point of view, and that provides the reader with a front seat to his confusion and increasing doubts about Adrastes, his role in the King’s life and indeed, the very future of the Scorpions themselves.

Voinov has a gift of creating characters that exude a  great vitality, a certain brutal realism that is perfect for the world they inhabit. This ability to believe in Kendras, Adrastes, Widow, and all the others makes it relatively easy to slide into their lives and the conflicts that arise around them.  Kendras is the core of the story and its through his eyes that we watch his world undergo fundamental changes that start to force him to question the very tenets of his life.   The introduction of new important characters is one aspect of the change in direction for both storyline and character growth.   It is also one of the most disconcerting elements of Voinov’s series.  Much like Game of Thrones, this is a savagely violent and ruthless world where conflict and death is the norm and lives are short lived.  It contains merciless killers, barbarous priests, and sadistic, conniving rulers.  Deceit and treachery are not only commonplace but almost necessary for survival.  Need I say that to get too fond of anyone in the series is probably a mistake?  Because everyone in this series seems expendable, perhaps even Kendras himself.

The author starts expanding his universe with this story.  New lands and seas are added, and the Jaishani themselves make a remarkable and stunning entrance into the story and Kendras’ life.  Richer in texture and more deeply layered, Lying with Scorpions is full of surprises and twists.  Like shards of glass, small bits of information are laid out for Kendras and the reader to ponder, wondering where they will fall and who they will cut the deepest.  Foreshadowing of the future or a deception designed to obscure instead of instruct?  A mask, a mosaic and even a legend, all have the ability to bring forth both shivers of dread as well as anticipation.  Just more of Voinov’s master storytelling at work.

Prepare to undergo as many changes as Kendras in your feelings towards all the characters here.  Some you thought trustworthy prove otherwise, and some show sides of themselves that will surprise you with their resourcefulness as well as their loyalties.  I loved the character of Lord/Lady Amrash as well as that of Runner.  Not surprisingly, I fear for their future in the next story, A Taste of Poison (Memory of Scorpions #3) coming soon.

I quickly became addicted to this series with Scorpion, and this story only saw that addiction deepen.  I am fascinated by the author’s ability to get under the reader’s skin with his  believable characters, imaginative plot and ever widening world building.  If you are a lover of warriors, of ancient kingdoms, of lust and loyalty and so much more, then this intense magnificent saga is for you.  Lying with Scorpions ends with a bit of a cliffhanger so I am desperately waiting for the next story to arrive.  I don’t expect any quick or neat resolutions nor do I want them.  It’s not Voinov’s style nor would it work for this character and series.  I will be content to let the anticipation build.

If you are new to the series, start with the first book, Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions #1).  There are two versions.  Make sure you  have the recently revised and redited one to start with.  The cover is the quickest indication you have the correct one.  Then more on to Lying with Scorpions.  It will take your breath away.  One of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014.

Cover by Reese Dante.  At first I thought the subject of the cover was Kendras and the lack of blue eyes confused me. But the author informs me that the person on the cover is Adrastes,  who is half-caste,  being the son from a sacred marriage between the Jaishani Besh and Ashangul who is white.  He was chosen for the cover because the story is mostly about his rise to power.  He has brown eyes per the description in the first story in the series.

Books in the series in the order they should be read to fully understand the characters and complex plot are:

Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1)
Lying with Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions #2)
A Taste of Poison (Memory of Scorpions #3) coming soon

Book Details:

ebook, 317 pages
Published January 20th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published January 18th 2014)
ISBN139781626491106
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/lying-with-scorpions
series: Memory of Scorpions

Get Personal with SE Jakes On The Dirty Deeds Book Tour and Contest

Standard

DirtyDeeds_TourBanner-1

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have SE Jakes here today to talk about her outstanding new release Dirty Deeds, the first in the new Dirty Deeds series.

Hey everyone!!! Thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me back here for my Dirty Deeds blog tour 🙂 Dirty Deeds is the first in this spin-off series of Hell or High Water. Dirty Deeds focuses on Cillian and Mal, two characters who’ve been in both Hell or High Water books 1 & 2 (Catch a Ghost and Long Time Gone.) Dirty Deeds # 1 captures a very specific moment in time for the Cillian (the spook) and Mal (the former SEAL in exile).DirtyDeeds_150x300
STRW: 1.  What was the first story you wrote?

SEJ:  I actually wrote the proposals for Bound by Honor and Bound for Keeps at the same time, and I wasn’t sure which one should go first. I picked Bound by Honor, because I knew Law would have a story, and then I realized that Bound for Keeps needed to wait a bit. I realize now I needed to wait for Prophet to introduce himself (since he shows up in Bound for Keeps)…

STRW 2.  What was the subject matter?

SEJ:   Bound by Honor is the first in my Men of Honor series. It’s the story of Tanner, an Army Ranger (who is training for Delta Force). His dying teammate made Tanner promise to go visit his Dom a year after his death. Damon, Jesse’s Dom, doesn’t want anything to do with that, but he decides to honor Jessie’s wish.

STRW 3. I love stories where the mc are undercover.  What made you decide to pair a Navy Seal with a British Black Ops?

SEJ  :They honestly paired themselves. It surprised the hell out of me. They showed up separately in the Hell or High Water series and halfway through writing Long Time Gone, out of nowhere I realized they were going to be together.

STRW 4. Which of the two characters was hardest to write?

SEJ: Probably Cillian, at least at first, because he didn’t really reveal himself to me right away. Definitely a mysterious spook. I found out things I didn’t know about him writing Dirty Deeds, and I think readers will be pretty surprised too. He’s definitely been a polarizing force in the books.

STRW 5. How many books do you have planned for the Hell or High Water series?

SEJ: There are four books for Hell or High Water, plus one short (all Prophet & Tommy as main characters). Dirty Deeds # 1 runs along the same timeline for the Hell or High Water series (all with Mal and Cillian as main characters), but for Dirty Deeds 2 & 3, they really have their own plot apart from the Hell or High Water plot.

Thanks, SE, for stopping by.  Dirty Deeds is part of the Extreme Escapes universe.  All the connected stories from Hell or High Water can be found here.  Dirty Deeds is one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Highly Recommended Books/Must Reads of 2014.

DirtyDeeds_400x600Dirty Deeds: Dirty Deeds book 1:
Two seasoned operatives finally meet their match: each other.
Cillian works for the mysterious Special Branch 20: an organization that runs black ops commissioned by the British government. His specialty is deep undercover assignments with virtually no support. He’s been alone for so long that he no longer knows anything else.

Mal’s also used to being alone. Wanted in several states and even more countries, he’s not allowed in the vicinity of any of his former Navy SEAL teammates. And his current assignment is to track Cillian in order to discover the spook’s endgame. Except he’s no longer sure which one of them is getting played.

Cillian isn’t about to let the mission that’s consumed him for the past several years crumble because an outsider is poking around where he doesn’t belong. But Mal forces his way through Cillian’s defenses—and into his heart—exposing a devastating betrayal that could destroy them both.
*

This title is part of the Extreme Escapes, Ltd. universe.

*****************************

Contest Rules and Other Stuff You Need To Know:

To enter the contest, visit http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/a31df32/

Prizes:

  •  1st prize: $50.00 Amazon Gift Card
  • 2nd Prize: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
  • 3rd prize: $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

****************************
SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life.
She lives in New York with her family, and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

Connect with SE:
Website
Tumblr
Twitter
Facebook
Email
Goodreads author page
Goodreads author group: Ask SE Jakes

Review: City Knight (City Knight #1) by T.A. Webb

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

City Knight 1 coverWhen Marcus lost his lover Jeremy he lost everything.  Two punks shot and killed his doctor lover over just a few dollars and Marcus and his partner were the ones to find him.  Jeremy’s death demolished Marcus, and he needed to do something to help protect the innocent, things he couldn’t do while on the force. So Marcus quit his fifteen year job as a detective on the police force and became a private detective.  He quit sleeping and he gave up on love.  Then Marcus spots  Ben, a young man prostituting himself on the bad streets of Atlanta and things begin to change.

Ben has been damaged badly by his past but is still struggling for a better life for himself.  To pay for grad school and living expenses, Ben is whoring himself out on the streets of Atlanta.  Only another year or so and then he will be done.  A past traumatic event has convinced Ben that sex is only tolerable when it is fast and anonymous. And paid for.

Against their wishes, the men find themselves falling into a relationship.  But Ben’s past arrives and shatters everything, the budding romance and Ben’s fragile existence.

City Knight is a monster of a book crammed into a mere 50 pages.  T.A. Webb skillfully frames out Marcus’ and Ben’s past traumas, then with descriptive slashes of anguish and threat, delivers the start of a pain-filled journey to love and redemption for both men and the readers.

The first in a series, City Knight switches point of view from Ben to Marcus so the reader can see what events has brought each damaged man to their present day situation.  This format works here beautifully to impress upon the reader just how damaged and conflicted these men are as neither has moved past the events that succeeded in demolishing their lives. Webb’s characters clash and then start to come together, reawakening their desires for intimacy and sex.  It’s painful, and realistic.  It’s also grubby ,desperate but also starts to show slivers of hope for each of them.

At that point, the reader is quite naturally uneasy as we have come to expect the worst for each man, and Webb delivers that too in a heart crunching cliffhanger that will haunt you and leave you wanting more immediately.  I used to mark down stories that ended in this way but have come to accept this ending as long as it is a part of a series or serialized stories like this one.

In this case, Webb has set the stage for the next story in the series, while leaving the reader ramped up in anxiety and anticipation for the events to follow.    I can’t wait (and didn’t have to).   My review for the next in the series follows shortly.   Read these tales one at a time or cobble them up in one reading, it works both ways.  I loved City Knights and think you will too.

Stories in the City Knight series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events to follow:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages
Published February 15th 2013 by A Bear on Books (first published February 13th 2013)
ISBN13 9781937252380
edition language English
series City Knight

Review of The Night Shift by Missouri Dalton

Standard

Revised Rating: 4.25 stars on 6/10/2013

So, here it is Mea Culpa time.  I just finished reading, out of order again, the other two books in this series and now have to revise my rating upward.  I think what irritated me so much about this book was that it showed so much promise, that the characters were able to hit home even as they dangled in the atmosphere so to speak, that I took it to heart that it felt incomplete.   I get emotional about  stories and authors that resonate with me for some reason, and this author and book did.

After finishing The Hellfire Legacy, I knew that I had made a mistake.  The author had a sensational series on her hand and I blew it by reading them  out of order.  Taken together and read, 1-2-3, they are spectacular and one of my favorite series of the year.  But they must be read in sequence as only the first book could be considered a stand alone.

If you read this book as I did (out of sequence), then the review holds up.  It really does seem to be floating around, cut loose from it’s mooring and adrift without a map.  But the characters I fell in love with in The Hanged Man’s Ghost (Night Wars #1) and were firmly addicted to by The Hellfire Legacy (Night Wars #3)  are all here, but just as cut loose from their foundations as was the book.  It is my opinion that each and every book should contain the same elements, regardless of whether they are a part of a series or to be read by itself.  Considering how necessary the first book is to ground the characters with their history and relationship circumstances, I still believe it  even more important that some of that narrative needs to be included in the next book in the series. This helps readers remember particular plot points and connections between events and characters, especially if there is a long time between publication dates.

So with the first and third books fully in mind, I found myself nodding in appreciation over aspects of character development here and how certain events further along the overall series objectives.  I really liked this story while agreeing with my original assessment that it needed further  exposition and background support.

I love this series and think you will too.  But again, read them as the author intended, starting with The Hanged Man’s Ghost and continuing on. This series will delight you even while sending chills down your spine and whiten your knuckles.  Continue through to The Hellfire Legacy.  I hope the author has much more ahead for us.  I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Rating: 2.75 stars

Flynn Adder, husband to Jack, father to Tara, former addict, has been assigned a new partner, Simon, to train.  Simon is young, troubled and the son of a mob boss in the city.  Flynn, in trouble with his  boss, has a large case load at their Agency which handles cases dealing with the supernatural elements in town, the werewolves, the vampires, necromancers, trolls and more. It’s his daughter’s birthday. So just as Flynn is coordinating her party, he and Simon get thrown a gruesome case.  A young boy is found dead and all the evidence points to a new necromancer in town.  As Flynn, Simon and the rest of the investigators of the Unit work to gather clues, another boy is killed and it looks as though the necromancer is also working with a vampire but to what end?  The race is on to find out who the necromancer is and stop them before more children die.  If that wasn’t enough, someone is stealing mystical objects from the evidence vault to sell on the black market.  It has to be a inside job and suspicion is falling on Simon.  It’s enough to shake Flynn loose from his sobriety if things aren’t solved soon on The Night Shift.

This will be a short review.  When learning the basics of writing, one things we are all taught is that whether it is a short story or novel, there is a structure to be followed, there is a beginning, a middle and an end.  And each part has a distinct purpose.  The beginning is where the author introduces the main characters, the setting, the goals, and any conflict.  The middle is where a series of events happen. This is also where the characters grow as they deal with the conflicts within the story.  While some elements of the story are resolved the story “continues in the direction of a major crisis, or climax.”* And finally, the end where the storyline is resolved, any conflicts or loose ends tied up, and the reader is left satisfied by a well told tale.  Up until now, all the stories I have reviewed or read have followed those rules.

Missouri Dalton in The Night Shift totally disregards the basic tenants of writing in my opinion.  Here, the novel starts in the middle.  I have no backstory on any of the main characters, only able to glean what I could a little at a time.  Flynn is an addict, his husband Jack used to be his partner, they have a daughter.  Supernatural creatures are a common element in society.  Flynn has some background with Simon that we are supposed to know about but don’t.  Simon has a backstory we are supposed to be familiar with but aren’t.  And we are left totally in the dark about the Agency they all work for.   Flynn has a twin brother, Michael, who is dead but alive (living corpse? who knows?).  Michael tried to commit suicide which left him brain damaged but he is also schizophrenic and possessive of his brother.  I think he was dead and then tried to kill himself again and was hospitalized but  I really am not sure of anything here.  It is all middle ground.  There are some nice elements buried in the reader’s confusion and shear bafflement over the storyline and characterizations.  It all could have been resolved with a beginning that is desperately needed.

So no beginning, a promising but confusing middle and here is the real problem.  Absolutely no ending, just a cliffhanger.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It leaves an already confused reader hanging with a cliffhanger and does not resolve the story.  I just find that so unprofessional. Now I know of several authors who write these wonderful serial free stories on their blogs and websites.  And that is great and I have enjoyed them immensely.  But The Night Shift is a novel that you are expected to buy at $6.99!  If I had purchased this book at that price, I would be clamoring for my money back.

I will leave you all with this final thought.  If you like Missouri Dalton’s fiction and want to read this book, wait!  Make sure there is a sequel, although given the way this was handled, I don’t know that I would trust that book to be resolved at the end either. Or if you like cliffhangers and don’t care if you never find out what happens to the main character, then go ahead and read this.  I promise you the frustration you seek.  As for me, I am totally done here.

Cover:  Nice cover by Alessio Brio, the 2nd cover by the artist that I have seen.