A MelanieM Review: His Heart or Mine (Individualists #1) by C.S. Joyce

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

“There’s something about the way he’s looking at me now, determined. Like he might ruin me if given half the chance.”

Adam:
Success can mean a lot of things. To me it meant living a lie and getting away with it.
But pretending is exhausting. My sister’s wedding in Italy was exactly what I needed. A week on the Amalfi coast with sunshine, wine, and zero complications.
Too bad the universe saw an opportunity to ruin that plan. Because what could be more complicated than the arrival of an attractive man who sees right through my act? One that is determined to remind me that you can’t hide who you really are.
What if he tells people my secret? Or, worse still, what if I can’t control these feelings. Because right now I’m feeling all sorts of things – fear, anger, lust…
No, I need to keep this thing under control. I can’t give in.
But what if, just once, I didn’t fight it?

Jacob:
After a series of bad decisions, running away to Italy seemed like the perfect escape. A fresh start in a new country. Nothing, and no one would bring me back to Ireland.
When I meet Adam at my friend’s wedding, I’m captivated. There’s something about this rugged stranger that makes me forget that I keep messing up every part of my life.
I know it’s a bad idea and I know I’m playing with fire. But when anger turns to passion I know I can’t stay away.
He can pretend all he wants but that man belongs in my bed. He might only be here for one week, but I intend to make the most of it.
After all, I can’t ask him for more when I’m not sure I’ll stick around.
But what if, this time, I didn’t run?

I thoroughly enjoyed His Heart or Mine (Individualists #1) by C.S. Joyce.  The first in a new series, it also marked the first book by this author for me.  Told in alternating points of view, we see two men bound for a destination wedding in Italy.  For Adam, it’s his sister’s wedding he’s attending.  He’s an Irishman so deeply in the closet that he doesn’t even admit to himself that he’s gay for fear that he’ll lose the tight control he’s administered over his life all these years in denial.  On the other side of the aisle?  That would be Jacob, coming in to see the groom, his friend from medical school get married.  Jacob lives in Rome, Italy, a place he fled from Ireland after failing from completing med school with Michael. Jacob is happily out, teaching English, but feels a failure on so many other fronts and is about to run into the one man  that will want him to change his fleeing ways.

Oh instant love.  What a hard thing to get right and a theme I normally don’t go along with.  Except here, in His Heart or Mine, the characters are so well done, the attraction and arguments for their chemistry so believable, that I connected to both men immediately.  The author was quick not to dwell too long on any one factor, moving back and forth like you would in a good personal exchange, keeping the dialog lively and compelling.  You got it why Adam couldn’t stay away from Jacob.  And while the opposite was also true.  These two men were made for each other.

As they argued, kissed, and kept coming back for each other, the secondary characters sort of blended into the  background.  That was a shame.  I often feel a strong cast makes for a stronger story.  I would have liked Michael and his bride to have had just as strong an impact on me as to give us more insight into the lead characters.  I mean these two mean the world to Jacob and Adam, let us see why.

The backdrop of Italy, including Rome, is a lovely setting for most of this story and it adds to the flavor of their relatoinship and romance.  I could feel that wonderful Italian heat soaking into everything through the vivid descriptions.

In short, this was a terrific romance with great characters and it will make me seek out more by this author.  It will certainly have me waiting for the next release in this series.  Love contemporary romance?  Be sure to check out His Heart or Mine (Individualists #1) by C.S. Joyce.  Its one I definitely recommend!

Cover Art: German Creative Design.  I like this cover.  That certainly looks like Adam but it could have used a backdrop otherwise its too generic.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published September 13th 2018
ASINB07GXH4GDB
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesIndividualists #1

Review Tour and Giveaway for His Heart Or Mine (The Individualists Series #1) by C S Joyce

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 60,000 words approx.
 
 
The Individualists Series
 
Book #2 – The Heart Dealer – Amazon US | Amazon UK (Out September 20)
 
Blurb
 

“There’s something about the way he’s looking at me now, determined. Like he might ruin me if given half the chance.”


Adam:
Success can mean a lot of things. To me it meant living a lie and getting away with it.
But pretending is exhausting. My sister’s wedding in Italy was exactly what I needed. A week on the Amalfi coast with sunshine, wine, and zero complications.
Too bad the universe saw an opportunity to ruin that plan. Because what could be more complicated than the arrival of an attractive man who sees right through my act? One that is determined to remind me that you can’t hide who you really are.
What if he tells people my secret? Or, worse still, what if I can’t control these feelings. Because right now I’m feeling all sorts of things – fear, anger, lust…
No, I need to keep this thing under control. I can’t give in.
But what if, just once, I didn’t fight it?


Jacob:
After a series of bad decisions, running away to Italy seemed like the perfect escape. A fresh start in a new country. Nothing, and no one would bring me back to Ireland.
When I meet Adam at my friend’s wedding, I’m captivated. There’s something about this rugged stranger that makes me forget that I keep messing up every part of my life.
I know it’s a bad idea and I know I’m playing with fire. But when anger turns to passion I know I can’t stay away.
He can pretend all he wants but that man belongs in my bed. He might only be here for one week, but I intend to make the most of it.
After all, I can’t ask him for more when I’m not sure I’ll stick around.
But what if, this time, I didn’t run?



September 14The Novel Approach, September 15Momma Says: To Read Or Not To Read, Amy’s MM Romance Reviews, September 17Love Bytes, Open Mind For A Different View, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, September 21Mirrigold, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, Book Review By Virginia Lee

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.  We definitely recommend it!

 

Author Bio



Author C S Joyce is infatuated with love, romance and the complexities of relationships. In her novels she tries to capture that elusive spark of love and add a little magic of her own.


She writes contemporary MM romance with a dash of humor thrown in, because love and laughter go great together.


You can stay up-to-date with new releases by signing up to Carrie’s newsletter on her website: www.csjoyce.com


Or you can find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/csjoycebooks/

Giveaway

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A MelanieM Review: Whiskey Kisses by Anna Martin

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

In a small town about an hour’s drive outside Dublin, there’s a whiskey distillery.

Jim has worked in the distillery as its business manager since he returned to his home town after getting his degree. Whiskey is a slow business and rural life is quiet, but Jim takes it in his stride. That is, until the handsome and mysterious Mr Aiden Rooney moves into a room above the local pub and sets off a flurry of gossip.

Aiden’s an artist, and his devil-may-care attitude is a revelation to Jim. But he still lives in a small town in rural Ireland, and he’s not even sure if he wants to be out and proud. The choices they make could change everything, if only Jim dares to follow his heart.

I love Ireland so any romance or book with Ireland as a setting usually has me at the narrative “hello”.  I also say the same about whiskey so Whiskey Kisses by Anna Martin seemed like a sure bet.  While what I found didn’t fulfill my hoped-for promise indicated by the blurb, it still remains a very nice love story, one I think most people will enjoy.

Told from the perspective of Jim/James/Jimmy (depending upon who you are talking to in his large family and small town), he makes for a sweet narrator of his own story and romance.  He tells us of his childhood, his injury, his brief escape to college and city life and his amazingly happy and content return to the village he was born into and now resides.

The only drawback?  His sexuality and basic closeted status.  Which gets a good shakeup when an artist comes to town in the form of Aiden.  It’s one look and Jim is quite smitten as is the artist.  The pursuit and romance is on.  The rest of the story is lovely, mostly angst free and short.

All that’s wonderful except that it meant that the romance had too much instant love for me.  Jim/James is closeted but falls right into the arms of Aiden (almost literally).  The move in together and love seems practically instantaneous  (even though it’s separated by a few “and a few weeks/months later”).  The flow of the story just  doesn’t seem  to indicate too broken of a time line for me to get a feeling of time passing here.

While I loved Jim and family, Aiden always felt like more of a blank canvas.  In some stories, even when you only have one pov, you get  many fully formed characters, but Aiden always felt less than substantial.  I still rooted for the couple to succeed, but I would have loved to have more personality or as much a character foundation to Aiden as I did for Jim.

But my real quibble here?  Somehow the elements of whiskey and village life could just as easily been transported to another country altogether.  The story is called Whiskey Kisses!  So give us some real whiskey goodness here, some good old Irish background  on the peat, wood barrels, something!  Give us some marvelous foundation to wrap this story around, not bookkeeping and a dreary employee lunch room.   Make this section come alive for us and the  rest of the village too while we are at it.  I’ve been to Ireland many times but other than the names of the  nieces and nephews, you’d never know it honestly.  You could have transplanted this story anywhere.

So, for me Whiskey Kisses is a light romance, a short sweet read.  Not what I had hoped for but if that’s what you are looking for, this is the story for you.

Cover art is very generic.  I don’t know who this model is but I’m seeing him all over the place.  He’s so cute but where’s are the elements of the story?

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 69 pages
Published October 21st 2017 by Anna Martin Originals
ASINB076NN8VVM

Audra North On Favorite Themes, Inspiration, and her latest novel ‘Midlife Crisis’ (author guest post and giveaway)

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Midlife Crisis by Audra North
Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Audra North here today talking about her release Midlife Crisis.  Welcome, Audra!

✒︎

 

 

One of the reasons I loved writing Midlife Crisis is because the story is about three things I love very much: 1. self-acceptance; 2. family and friendship bonds; and 3. Texas.

In Midlife Crisis, Cam McGhee—one of the main characters—is on a fifty-year journey of self-acceptance. Because of the time in which he was born and raised, because of his familial and community background, because of so many things that go into influencing a person’s sense of self, he has spend the first half of his life wanting to accept who he is and live fully as himself, but resigning himself to never being able to. When circumstances change, and the opportunity to change his way of living is presented to him, though, he realizes the shift is easier said than done…even for a man in his fifties.

Family and friends play a big role in the book, too. Cam’s family is a source of angst and support at the same time. Dave Montoya, the other main character, has a tight-knit group of friends that looks out for him, and a sister who always has his back. For this particular story, I didn’t want to write any characters who were directly trying to undermine Cam and Dave’s journey, especially when Cam’s biggest enemy is himself—his own fears.

Oh, Texas. The third thing I love very much, though I have a complicated relationship with the state where I was born and raised (I now live in New England). Midlife Crisis takes place in Texas because of the ease of which a person can travel between rural farm communities and big cities, but still maintain that fundamental identity of Texan (it’s a thing, if any of y’all are from Texas or know Texans or watch Texans on TV). It’s an anchor point for Cam as he moves through an emotional tumultuous time in his life, and the constant of “Texas” helps him explore a new life of self-acceptance with more security.

In the end, this book is about the things I love, but at its core it’s about love, itself. Love through the self, love through connections, and love of one’s home are all secondary to the ability to love, in the first place.

 

About Midlife Crisis

 

Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.

 

Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.

 

No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to openly embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith—and a lot of love—his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.

 

Available now from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/midlife-crisis

About Audra North

 

Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series, the Hard Driving series, and the Pushing the Boundaries series. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

 

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

 

For more about Audra, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit audranorth.com.

 

Connect with Audra:

 

Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Midlife Crisis, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 2, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

RIPTIDE TOUR & Giveaway: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer

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Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by: Natasha Snow

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here at Riptide Publishing

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Elyse Springer today on her Heels Over Head tour.  Welcome, Elyse!

✒︎

 

 

Hello, and welcome to the blog tour for Heels Over Head, my new sports romance where Olympic diving hopefuls battle it out on the platform… while discovering friendship, family, and love along the way. I hope you enjoy reading Jeremy and Brandon’s romance as much as I enjoyed writing it!

 

I’ll be stopping on several blogs throughout the week, so I hope you’ll follow along and join in the discussion. Plus, don’t forget to leave a comment at the end of the post… you’ll be entered to win an Amazon gift card!

 

 

About Heels Over Head

 

Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.

 

Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.

 

They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

 

Now available from Riptide Publishing

 

 

About Elyse Springer

 

Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, El spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.

 

She’s always happy to chat with other readers, and you can find her online at:

 

Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Heels Over Head, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 3, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Clare London’s A Good Neighbour

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Buy Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Length: 18,825 


Cover: Tibbs Design


A secret affair can’t go on forever.

Dylan Philips admits it himself: he’s a relentlessly single man in a small suburban town, both proud of and resigned to being a good teacher and a devoted nephew to his mischievous great-aunts.

When the aunts take a hand in matchmaking him with Josie Whitman, the girl who lives along the street, Dylan doesn’t tell them what kind of soul mate he’s really looking for—and the fact that he’s already found the man in question. It’s not Josie who’s travelling from London every month to her town property, but her journalist brother Neal. And Dylan meets up with Neal whenever he can.

But decisions must be made for their future. Dylan is risk-averse to everything from overseas travel to coming out, whereas Neal embraces adventure—and now he wants to take Dylan with him.

Horrified that his chance at love will move even further out of his reach, Dylan realises it’s time for him to own up to what kind of man he really is. He needs to find courage and compromise. And who knows whether the great-aunts will be a help or a hindrance with that?

First Edition published as A Good Neighbor by Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure, 2009.

 

Author Bio

Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!

Website: http://www.clarelondon.com
Blog: http://clarelondon.livejournal.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/clarelondon
Facebook chat: https://www.facebook.com/groups/clarelondoncalling/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/clare_london
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/clarelondon
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/clarelondon

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A Julia Release Day Review: New Lease by B. G. Thomas

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wade Porter spent his whole life in the shadow of a lover who doled out snippets of love and time as he saw fit—and who insisted that love stay deep in the closet. But now that man is gone, and Wade finds the oceanside cottage where they spent so many weekends together in the Florida Keys cold and empty. He has come one last time, not even sure he wants to keep living.

To his surprise, the house next door is occupied by another bereaved and lonely man. Kent Walker is an artist of romantic gay paintings who is open to the future—and determinedly interested in Wade. Kent wants to show Wade the beauty in being an openly gay man and the possibilities for a real relationship.

Maybe Kent can help Wade let go of the past and discover a better way to live—and love.

After finishing New Lease by B. G. Thomas, the first thought that came to mind was “short and sweet” – but after taking some time to reflect on what I had just read, I realized that there is so much more to it. The writing is fluid and to the point with no piece of information feeling superfluous or unnecessary. The location was well-chosen and I liked how the author used the environment to incite thoughts and memories within Wade, from whose point of view the story is told. After having lost the only lover he has ever known, he is struggling to find a way back into a regulated life. The author did a good job at leading us through his head and you really get a sense of how the character feels almost stranded (emphasized by his surroundings) because of his inability to let go of the past. I was also quite surprised to hear that Wade is already fifty-one years old. His shyness and inexperience, especially when it comes to relationships, led me to expect a much younger man.

Wade forms an apt contrast to the natural and dynamic Kent, whom I took an immediate liking to. It is especially encouraging to read how comfortable and self-confident he feels with his homosexuality – something that Wade is only slowly allowing himself to do. I admired Kent for his positive outlook on life and how he deals with his own sadness. I only wished you could have learned a bit more about his past life and relationships. Through Wade’s flashbacks and explanations, you also learn quite a bit about Gene, Wade’s former lover, whom I found to be a rather intriguing character as well. It almost makes me wish the author would write a sort of prequel to this story, in which the reader gets to experience Wade’s and Gene’s relationship first-hand.

Despite its length, the story addresses a variety of complex, personal issues: losing a loved one, facing an uncertain future and coming to terms with one’s own wishes and desires. It made me think and genuinely sympathize with the characters and their situation. After all is said and done, this story left a pleasantly hopeful taste in my mouth and I quite enjoyed reading it.

The cover art by Bree Archer may seem simple at first but fits the story quite well and takes on a different layer of meaning once you’ve read it.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages

Published April 12, 2017

by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13 978-1-63533-428-9

Edition Language: English

In the Contemporary Spotlight: Growing Pains by Cass Lennox (giveaway)

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Growing Pains (Toronto Connections #3) by Cass Lennox
R
iptide Publishing
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here at Riptide Publishing

 

About Growing Pains

Gigi Rosenberg is living his best life: performances in the big city, side gigs at a dance company, a successful drag act, and the boy of his childhood dreams who now adores him. Even if the boyfriend part isn’t the sparkly ride of passion he expected it to be, life is sweet. So when his sister’s wedding calls him back to his hometown, he sees an opportunity to show the hicks from his past how wrong they were about him. Only, his boyfriend isn’t quite on board.

Brock Stubbs left their hometown and his parents behind for a reason, and the prospect of facing them again is terrifying. He swore he’d never go back, but Gigi has made it clear refusal isn’t an option, and Brock will do nearly anything for him. There’s just one deal-breaker of a problem: Brock promised Gigi he was out to everyone, including his parents. He lied.

It’s magical to run into the sunset together, but staying the course takes work. For Gigi and Brock, going home feels like the finale of a long, disappointing year. Sometimes love isn’t all you need.

Available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/growing-pains

About Toronto Connections

The winters might be cold, but hearts are warm in Toronto. Canada’s largest city is home to a big lake, a big tower, and a big queer community. People here are trying to get by like everyone else: pay the bills, deal with life in the city, and maybe find some happiness along the way with someone who’s sweeter than maple candy and more constant than a Canadian’s love for Timmie’s coffee.

For some, falling in love is a real challenge. For others, falling is the easy part—it’s the happy ever after that proves a little more difficult. But in the end, love is worth every complication, misunderstanding, and occasional swear word.

This title is part of the Toronto Connections universe.

About Cass Lennox

Cass Lennox is a permanent expat who has lived in more countries than she cares to admit to and suffers from a chronic case of wanderlust as a result. She started writing stories at the tender age of eleven, but would be the first to say that the early years are best left forgotten and unread. A great believer in happy endings, she arrived at queer romance via fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, and manga, and she can’t believe it took her that long. Her specialties are diverse characters, gooey happy ever afters, and brownies. She’s currently sequestered in a valley in southeast England.

Connect with Cass:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Growing Pains, one lucky winner will receive $15 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 25, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Marek Moran on Writing, Research and his first novel ‘The Sparky’ by Marek Moran (guest blog and excerpt)

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The Sparky by Marek Moran
D
reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Some Questions

Hello, Reader!  I’m here because my first novel, The Sparky, has just come out, and the kind people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words have let me give you a bit of idea about what it’s like via some questions they’ve posed.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

As this is my first novel, it’s only one data point so far.  But, as I imagine is pretty typical for first novels, the answer would be “quite a bit”.  There were a couple of times in the editing process where the editor would say “Would your characters really do X?”, and my answer was that that was something that had actually happened in my own life.

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

I’ve always thought that something that makes for a full Mary Sue or Gary Stu is that (in Wikipedia’s words) they’re “an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character” in addition to being an author surrogate.  The experiences of my own that I use to create a character certainly aren’t only the positive, glowing ones!  Among other things, I think my essential nerdiness comes through pretty strongly.  (You’ll see this in the excerpt.)

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

Probably research—in my day job I am an academic, after all.  I can spend days going down the rabbit hole of links and citations and references.  But as a kid I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and I enjoyed making up worlds and cultures in tandem with that.  Tolkien really got me imagining worlds at a fine level of detail.  But the world-creating authors I especially like do an awful lot of research to make their worlds plausible—right now I’m rereading Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and there’s a lot of anthropology research that went into that—so I think maybe research and making up worlds aren’t totally separate.

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

Not really.  Or maybe the answer is, Not yet.  As I mentioned, I mostly used to read fantasy and sci-fi (and still read it now, although my book diet is more balanced), but I also used to read some romance—I’d borrow the latest Mills and Boon from one of my (female) friends, although I wouldn’t tell my other friends about it, it not being the conventional teenage boy thing.  So I’m not sure why I ended up writing contemporary romance, except that it’s obviously more natural to write out of real life experience, and I’ve had more relationships with guys than with elves or aliens.  And in a sense the story had a life of its own and just wanted to be born that way.  (Cue Lady Gaga soundtrack.)

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I do, although I also read a lot of history, some fantasy and sci-fi, some mystery / thrillers, and what the other members of my bookclub refer to as Serious Literature.  In romance, it’s a pretty mixed bag of authors I read.  I like old work like Jane Austen, George Eliot, E. M. Forster and Georgette Heyer, but also some newer romance, both straight and gay.

What’s next for you as an author?

I am writing another novel, although it’s still in the early stages: I’ve just hit 10K words.  It’s also contemporary romance, but otherwise quite different from The Sparky.  There’s a bit of a thriller element to it, and a bit of politics as well—that’s how it is in my head and in my notes file at the moment, anyway.  Who knows how it will turn out …

Blurb

Aaron’s been living in what his friend Howie calls a sexual desert. But an oasis appears on the horizon when Paul, a divorced electrician with a five-year-old daughter named Sam, moves in next door. He’s a country boy from northern Australia, and although he’s never been with a guy before, he has an impression that anything goes in the city. They find that the ordinary things in life—books, footie in the park, looking after Sam—lead them into an unlikely relationship.

But as their relationship slowly deepens, with Aaron spending time on Paul’s family’s cattle station, it becomes clear that Paul might have a harder time leaving the country behind. To him, happiness means a conventional life—including a mother for Sam. Being with his old friends convinces him he’s on the wrong path with Aaron, and he starts a relationship with a girl from his hometown. If he cannot find the courage to go after what he truly needs, he and Aaron will become nothing more than awkward neighbours. 

Purchase The Sparky at

Amazon | Dreamspinner

Excerpt

[BACKGROUND: Noone knows Aaron and Paul are going out.  At this point in the novel, Aaron’s visiting his sister Deelie just before Christmas, playing paintball with her and her friends.  It’s one of those occasions when he’d really like to talk about Paul, but can’t.]

After that we go through the training and the warnings about face masks, goggles, neck and throat protection, dangerous shots, dangerous behaviour. Even as I’m walking out onto the ground, I’m not sure how I’ll bring myself to shoot teenage girls. Then I think about Mean Girls—that’ll help me see them as vicious threats. I manage to shoot one crouching in a wooden fort, and then another inexpertly hidden behind a tree, but then I’m hit. Deelie survives until the end.

As I drive us home in a rental car, I look over at her. She has a bruise forming on her right arm. I don’t know what from. “Heh, warrior princess.”

“You don’t still watch that, do you?”

“Maybe. There’s a kid next door up in Sydney and I’ve watched some episodes with her.”

I can’t talk about Paul with anyone, although sometimes it wants to bubble up out of me; this is the next best thing. Just touching on it, skirting the edges of it without actually giving anything away.

“Oh my God.”

“She’s pretty fierce, this kid.”

Last week on a visit through the back gate, Sam told me what she’d been up to at vacation care. As well as doing craft and going on an excursion to the park, she updated me on her playground relationships.

“Finn’s my frenemy,” she told me.

I wasn’t even aware that five-year-olds knew the word “frenemy.”

“Do you know what a frenemy is?”

“Someone who’s kind of a friend and kind of an enemy.”

So apparently they do know.

“Why are you frenemies?” I asked.

“We were playing Xena, and he was a baddie, and when I kicked him by accident, he hit me back on purpose.”

“Did you say sorry?”

“It was an accident.”

“You should still say sorry, though. Xena would if it was an accident.” That’s probably not in the canon, but I’m happy to make this up.

“Okay.”

I tell Deelie a bit more about Sam as I’m driving.

About the Author

Marek Moran is, in his day job, a computer science professor.  If you want to know about shortest path graph algorithms, he’s your man.  However, that’s probably not why you’re reading this.  He currently lives in Sydney, Australia, and has previously lived in France, Germany and the US, enjoying travelling around and listening to people talk: he’s learnt to respond to enquiries after his wellbeing with a ça va merci, sehr gut danke or copacetic, thanks.

The only member of his book club to like George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, he’s discovered that he enjoys writing romance as well as reading it; the other members of his book club don’t yet know this.  He plays piano, squash, and his cards close to his chest.  The Sparky is his first novel.

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Sparky by Marek Moran

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

the-sparky-by-marek-moranAaron’s been living in what his friend Howie calls a sexual desert. But an oasis appears on the horizon when Paul, a divorced electrician with a five-year-old daughter named Sam, moves in next door. He’s a country boy from northern Australia, and although he’s never been with a guy before, he has an impression that anything goes in the city. They find that the ordinary things in life—books, footie in the park, looking after Sam—lead them into an unlikely relationship.

But as their relationship slowly deepens, with Aaron spending time on Paul’s family’s cattle station, it becomes clear that Paul might have a harder time leaving the country behind. To him, happiness means a conventional life—including a mother for Sam. Being with his old friends convinces him he’s on the wrong path with Aaron, and he starts a relationship with a girl from his hometown. If he cannot find the courage to go after what he truly needs, he and Aaron will become nothing more than awkward neighbours.

The Sparky by Marek Moran is well-written, and both the plot and the characters feel current and believable.  Where that should work in most books favor, I think it hurts The Sparky because there are a lot of readers who will just find the dynamics between Aaron and Paul deplorable, especially Paul’s choices later after he and Aaron have begun a relationship. I’m not especially fond of them myself.

If Moran had not made Aaron and Paul so real, I think, perhaps, readers reactions would not be so in keeping to ones similar they would have to people they know in the same situations.  I “understood” what made Paul decide to ‘straight’ again, you get his fear and the pressures, at least the ones he encounters in the small community and inside his head.  Doesn’t make you like him or his actions any better or the pain he inflicts on Aaron.  No these aren’t spoilers, they are part of the blurb. Hell, the whole story is laid out in the blurb, another trend I’m not liking these days. And Aaron’s actions?  That of a huge-hearted man who can’t stop caring even when he’s knows he should.  Also very understandable even if you want to give him a very stern talking to.  I liked Aaron. He and Sam were among my favorite characters.  Sam is Paul’s  daughter with way more smarts than her dad.  Sometimes that happens.

For me the biggest flaw in The Sparky?  The fact that we never know the ‘whats or whys’ when Paul decides to come back around. Paul comes off as too changeable and that sets off so many flags. The switch back is too sudden and without any foundation for us (or Aaron for that matter) to judge that its real, to see why Paul made this life changing decision, the whole story just loses anchor and sort of floats away on a untrustworthy cloud of happiness.

Honestly, I hovered between a 2.75 rating and a 3 stars for The Sparky, but as I said the writing is excellent as are the characters.  Just because I didn’t like their actions or relationship doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have merit.  You might like this couple more than myself.  Let me know if you do and why.

Cover Artist: Catt Ford.  This cover art is confusing, misleading even.  The story has nothing to do with cowboys.  More with the suburbs and a electrician. Wrong, wrong. Put it on another story.

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Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: March 3rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635334470 (ISBN13: 9781635334470)
Edition LanguageEnglish