A MelanieM Review: Made in Portugal (Made In #1) by Ana Newfolk

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

At 10 years old Joel was uprooted from his home and everything he knew in Portugal to start a new life in the States. At 26 he finds himself returning for the first time in thirteen years. So what if looking into the eyes of his childhood best friend again still makes his heart race out of his chest?

Living in sunny, laid-back Portugal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For David, dreams of being a pastry chef come second to working in his family’s café where his renowned custard tarts draw in the crowds. Seeing Joel brings old feelings back. Feelings he’s not sure he’s brave enough to acknowledge to anyone other than himself.

With the inspiration of an old travel journal, the two friends embark on a real journey through memories in a country where looking back into the past runs as deep as the blood that courses through their veins.

Falling in love was never meant to be a stop along the way, but maybe inevitable when you have the adventurous spirit and courage to pursue what you want, make love under the stars and even figure out how to jumpstart an old Citroen 2CV in the middle of the Alentejo countryside.

I really enjoyed Made in Portugal (Made In #1) by Ana Newfolk.   The author managed to bring the country of Portugal alive for me as a reader on so many levels while never losing sight of her oh so connectable romance between two best friends given a second chance at everything they ever hoped for.  The first in a series apparently, Made In Portugal takes us into the the dynamics and intertwined relationships of two families that has stretched over the decades.  It started in a village in Portugal where Joel was born to a Portuguese mother and an American  father, a place where he left broken hearted at age 10 because his parents had to move to the US, and is now finally returning at age 26 to lay their ashes to rest.

It is also the story of David, that best of friends he left behind, the one he shared his first kiss with,  The one whose mother was best friends with his mother and whose family has always been tied up  with his.  All of these families, all of these people await Joel and the reader when his plane lands.  And it actually begins at the rental car station.

The author starts to create an immediate sense of the familiar and homecoming for Joel and the reader when things go wrong with his rental car.  I  won’t spoil it but Newfolk’s ability to have secondary believable characters have meaningful interactions that leave you with warm happy thoughts of what will lie ahead?  Oh yes!  Then you know you are in good hands indeed.

This story is also about family, coming home, coming out, rediscovering love, taking journeys, and finding out exactly where your home lies….yes, all that.  And the author does a spectacular job.  The writing is smooth, the dialog realistic with Portuguese linguistic touches that makes you feel as though you are in the country, and the relationship dynamics work as well.  Its poignant, conflicted, and all family.

I felt I knew these men at the end.  And their mothers.  And truly all the rest of their family.  It takes everyone and a ancient Citroen called Ladybug to finally let Joel and David see their way to their HEA and their home.  But that journey they take?  It’s one you shouldn’t miss.  It made me want to take a flight to a place I haven’t been in years to soak up the sun, the love and laughter, the warmth and family that’s exuded from the pages of this story.  I know I can just find it  if only I can rent a Citroen named Ladybug.

Yes, I do highly recommend this story.  Grab it up now.

Cover art by Jay Aheer:  I like this cover, except only one of the models matches the  characters. Joel is blond  unlike David. But the colors and composition is lovely and bright.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Made In Portugal is a 74000 word gay romance novel with a happy ever after ending.
It is the first in a series but can be read as a standalone.

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 231 pages
Published June 1st 2018
Original TitleMade in Portugal
ASINB07DH27RR1
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesMade In #1

Deanna Wadsworth on Characters, Research, and her new story ‘La Famiglia (A Men of Gilead Novel)’ (author interview)

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La Famiglia (Men of Gilead #2) by Deanna Wadsworth
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art: Anne Cain

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Kobo Google Play  

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Deanna Wadsworth 

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A whole lot, for sure LOL. There is a bit of me in every hero I write as well as the side characters. But many are just conjured characters I base off my well rounded knowledge of people. Being a nail technician/hairdresser, my day job is a lot like being a therapist some days. I’ve had over 23 years of intimate glimpses into the personal lives of soooo many different types of people. Clients tell me their problems, wildest stories, things they’ve never told anyone! Sprinkling in my own personal experiences and a healthy dose of imagination, I can create unique yet very believable characters, faults and all.

  • 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?

Everyone and everything in my life is fair game, as far as I see it. Have I ever used a real person 100% in a book? Sure, at the start of a book maybe, or a character is based off someone I know. But my characters end up taking on a life of their own. Only once did I write a revenge character LOL—a real jerk I know—inspiring me to make the quote “Don’t piss me off or I’ll put you in a book and make everyone hate you like Voldemort, LOL.”

In La Famiglia, I used the personal experiences of a dear friend who was born deaf and has a CI (cochlear implant). Some of Kyle’s story and experiences I borrowed from her, but it was also a lot of research. Knowing her made it easier for me to make Kyle feel real.

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

Oh yes, always. I enjoy all genres and have books in every one but sci-fi (for now lol) and writing even a contemporary in the fictional town of Gilead—which is based on my hometown—I still need to do research. I haven’t dabbled in historical much lately because I don’t have the time for all the research on the eras I want to write in.

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

For Sure! I read historical romance, horror, westerns, and fantasy and sci fi. When I started to write, I began with a high fantasy concept, but kept making it romantic so I thought I would never be published. Then a friend introduced me to paranormal romance and it was like a whole new world of possibilities had opened for me. I discovered that romance had so many sub genres and I knew it was what I wanted to write.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes, which is why the third book in my Grim Life series I write for Harmony Ink Press as under the penname KD Worth still isn’t finished. It’s a story of grim reapers working for God. There is such a heavy death and after life theme it can depress me a bit when I have to tackle certain scenes

 

Blurb

Forrester Giordano comes from a huge, nosy Italian family, and with their homophobic jokes and slurs, he’s decided to stay in the closet. He finds respite in his bookstore in the quaint village of Gilead—where he has a huge crush on one of his customers, Kyle Benson.

Kyle is determined to live his dreams, and though life isn’t easy being deaf, one by one he’s making them come true. He’s scored a great job practicing law, bought a cute bungalow where he can finally have a big flower garden, and he has a dog he loves, Jasper. Now he just needs one thing to complete his happiness: a family of his own to make up for the one he never had.

Forrester and Kyle’s relationship starts off hot and heavy, and neither man can deny the depth of their connection. When Forrester’s little brother gets mixed up with their heroin-dealing cousin and his mother falls ill, Forrester has a decision to make—maybe the hardest of his life. For the first time, he’s found a man worth coming out for.

Unfortunately nothing ever goes according to plan with la famiglia.

Excerpt

“So, Forrester.” Kyle said his name in a way that never ceased to send shockwaves down his back and straight to his cock. “How does one go about trading in books around here?”

Forrester pressed his groin closer to the back of the checkout counter, not wanting his thin khakis to reveal what Kyle’s voice did to him. He knew it wasn’t an accent anymore, but the soft way Kyle spoke lured him in like a siren’s song.

Since no one else waited to check out, Forrester took a moment to soak in those gorgeous hazel eyes, then smiled impishly. “First you have to bring them in.”

“That would be helpful.” Kyle’s generous mouth cracked a grin.

He tried his damnedest not to picture those downright kissable lips wrapped around his cock while he ran his fingers through Kyle’s sun-streaked hair.

He’d always had a thing for blonds.

He plucked up one of the flyers from the counter. Somehow he managed to sound professional, educated even, when he handed it over. “Our policy is we only take gently used books.”

“Mine are in great shape.”

“I bet they are,” Forrester drawled.

“They’re like new,” he insisted. “No folded corners, never dropped one in a tub either.”

“Good to hear. I hate it when people ruin a good book.” Dammit, now I’m picturing Kyle in a bathtub!

“Me too.” Kyle folded the flyer and tucked it into his pocket.

“For every book you trade in, we give 15 percent off the purchase of a new book or 25 percent off a used one. And for every three books, you get a free used book or half off a new one.”

Kyle flashed those pearly whites, making his eyes crinkle and his dimples deepen so much Forrester longed to flick his tongue inside them. “Guess I got some free books coming.”

“I guess you do,” he quipped. “Do you want to buy these today or wait till you do the trade?”

Kyle withdrew his card. “Nah, I’ll buy them now. I’ve been dying to see what happens since you got me hooked on this series. And Scott already signed this one.”

Forrester offered him a sideways smile. “I’ll just give you 15 percent off on good faith.”

“Gosh, you don’t have to do that.”

Good Lord, the guy said gosh. Could he be more adorable?

When Forrester noticed Holly watching them, he resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at her. Instead, he shrugged off Kyle’s modesty and entered the discount into his computer. “No problem. Just make sure you bring me some good stuff, capisci?”

“Will do. Thanks a lot.”

Forrester swiped his card, then offered Kyle another inviting smile. The one Ma called his suck-up smile. “Can I get you anything else? Answer any more of your questions?”

Kyle kept smiling. “No. You’ve been pretty thorough, as usual.”

“You sure?” he prompted, unable to stop flirting so shamelessly. “You don’t need to know anything else? What’s on the bestseller list? Today’s weather? The meaning of life?”

“Forty-two.”

Official report: Forrester was in love with Kyle Benson.

Or at least in serious lust.

His grin widened so big he swore his face might crack. “A Hitchhiker fan. I should’ve known.” He tore off the receipt and slid it forward for Kyle to sign.

“Hells yeah.” Kyle laughed.

Forrester bagged the books. “Receipt with you or in the bag?”

“Bag’s fine.” He accepted his purchases, then cleared his throat and fiddled with the bag. “All right, um, thank you, Forrester. Always a pleasure.” He extended a hand and Forrester took it, electric jolts running through his blood at the feel of those lightly calloused fingers.

“No problem,” he managed, not letting go.

Kyle kept his gaze locked on Forrester, blinking and glancing from his eyes to his mouth. Warming, Forrester ran his thumb across the back of his hand. He couldn’t believe his forwardness, but Kyle had some kind of tractor beam sucking him in. Powerless against its pull, he stroked the soft skin once more with a nervous, light touch, pulses of heat and desire stirring inside him.

Forrester let go and cleared his throat. “Um, Kyle?”

“Yeah?”

The phone rang, shattering the moment.

Sighing, he snagged it on the third ring. “Thank you for calling A Novel Idea. This is Forrester, how may I help you?”

“Hey, it’s me.”

Only real friends or family could answer a phone with an “it’s me.” Lucas Beale was the former. Though totally weird, and he hated sports of all kinds, Lucas was Forrester’s “boy best friend”—Holly having the honor of being his “girl best friend.” He didn’t know what he would do without either of them.

“Hey, Lucas, what’s up?” He tried not to sound annoyed at the telephone cockblock.

Kyle waved goodbye. “I guess I’ll see ya later, Forrester.”

“Can’t wait.”

“Can’t wait for what?” Lucas asked in confusion.

He covered the receiver, hoping he didn’t sound lame to Kyle. “I mean… uh, I can’t wait to read that book together?” His entire body froze in one breath of anticipation.

Kyle cocked his head to the side, then smiled. “Absolutely.”

Still grinning, Kyle turned and walked away.

Ignoring Lucas as he started talking again, Forrester watched Kyle’s spectacular ass as he headed to the door. A woman was coming in and, like a perfect gentleman, Kyle held the door for her. Outside, Kyle slid on and strapped his helmet. Then he threw his leg over and straddled the chrome-and-black Sportster parked out front.

I got something he can straddle and ride…. Forrester’s skin flushed all the way to his toes. Was Kyle a top or a bottom? Being versatile, he really didn’t care. As long as there was manly skin touching his, lots of kissing, and he got to come, Forrester was a happy camper. But the prospect of finding out what Kyle liked made his entire body warm.

He watched Kyle put his bike into gear and walk it back out of the space. As it did every time Kyle left, a deep ache settled in his stomach.

God, I just need to marry him.

About the Author

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions for different RWA chapters, including President of the Rainbow Romance Writers in 2017. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. An avid reader, she also loves gardening, cooking, music, and dancing. Often she can be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterest goodreads AmazonInstagram BookBub

You can also find her young adult alter ego, K.D. Worth Facebook Twitter

Buy Deanna’s books at Dreamspinner Press, Decadent Publishing or at any reputable eBook seller like Amazon

A Jeri Review: The First Morning After by Marie Lark

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The First Morning AfterDanny got out of his small town as soon as he could. He headed straight for college and never looked-or went- back. Until his best friend is getting married and he has to.

Mitchel was the star baseball player who, while he did not actively bully Danny in school, he sure did nothing to stop it.

Danny has had a crush on Mitchel since forever. And Mitchel has been hiding a very important part of himself. Thrown together at the wedding, Danny takes it upon himself to talk to Mitchel. And when no one is looking, Mitchel hits on Danny.

This entire book was over the course of 2 days. The wedding day and the day after. And although a book with such a short time frame could feel overly packed with superfluous information to get the word count up, I never felt this way. In fact, it definitely kept me turning the pages. Danny has come into his own, unafraid to let the world know he is gay. But Mitchel is the opposite. The glory days of high school are over, he is single and in line to take over his father’s car business, which he hates, and travels to other towns to hook up with men in bathrooms.

You could easily not like either of these characters for different reasons. But I DID like them. Even when they did stupid things. Because people do stupid things. It is what makes us human. Perhaps Danny was a bit too forgiving. Or Mitchel was a bit too closeted and clueless. But together, they really were adorable.

My biggest complaint would be that it was too short. I wanted more. I wanted to see how Mitchel would deal with his sexuality and his job he hated. I wanted to see Danny taking Mitchel out in Philadelphia where no one knew him. So we get a happily for now, but I wanted a happily ever after.

Cover art by Valerie Tibbs.

Sales Links:  Loose id | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 129 pages
Published June 6th 2016 by Loose Id LLC
ASINB01GQN1IR8
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The Broken Road Cafe (The Broken Road Cafe #1) by T.A. Webb

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Broken Road Cafe coverFor years Daniel O’Leary worked hard to have it all.  Determination and a ruthless focus on his goals saw him  through college, law school and a job at a prestigious law firm where he made partner in a meteoric rise to the top.  All before the age of 35.  Along the way he remained close to his college best friend and found  love with an artist.  Now 10 years later, Dan has been feeling unsettled, as if having everything he wanted was not enough.    The fates heard him and in one day time, Dan lost everything.  His lover, his best friend and his job and partnership at the law  firm.

Vowing to use the shocking events of the day as a springboard to something new, Dan heads out to a small town near Stone Mountain, Georgia.  From the moment Dan steps into the town of Blue Ridge, he feels free and at home.  A new life beckons with the purchase of a local cafe,  which Dan renamed The Broken Road Cafe.  Blue Ridge’s  Sheriff, Nick Oliver,  is gorgeous, irritating, and also deep in the closet.  Surprisingly (or not) Dan finds himself falling for the Sheriff, the town’s people and life lived at a slower pace.

But people and problems have a way of refusing to be left behind as Dan learns to his dismay.  Dan wants a new start, a new life and perhaps even a new love. Now If only Dan’s his past will let him go forward into his future.

How do I love this story?  Let me count the ways!  The  outstanding characters, the intimate location and settings, the humor and of course, the wonderful plot…all courtesy of T.A. Webb, a masterful storyteller at it again with this latest release and new series.  T.A. Webb is an automatic must read, must have author for me.  And this new story, The Broken Road Cafe is a shining example why he should be yours as well.

Starting with one of the main characters,  Daniel O’Leary, Webb pulls us into the mind and life of this intelligent, moral, if somewhat ruthless lawyer, a man who worked relentlessly through the years to obtain his law degree,  earn a stellar reputation as a lawyer, and partnership  by the age of 35 at one of the most prestigious law firms in Atlanta.  His support consists of his amazing assistant, Charity, George his best friend of 20 years and George’s partner and not much else.  Oh, and his live in love too.  The author brings Dan’s emotional and mental state alive on the pages as Dan muses over his recent irritability with his job and life.  Still, Dan is going through his normal routine, when a moment of spontaneity and surprises start the avalanche that will destroy Dan’s life in just one day.   Webb makes us feel every shocking moment of every minute of the events that break up Dan’s life and perceptions of the people around him.  It’s raw, and painful, and sobering.

Then as Dan begins to gather the courage to move away and go forward, we are next to him in the passenger seat of his beloved Mustang as he heads out of Atlanta and finds himself in the small town of Blue Ridge, a place that will change his life as it works itself into our hearts.  T.A. Webb knows small town life and its all here, the pluses and the minuses, the intimacy for good and bad.  And its exactly what Dan needs.  What a believable journey this becomes for Dan and the reader.  It’s full of humor, self depreciation, wise cracks and the caring the pops up when you least expect it but need it the most.  I heart this town and its people.  And it rings with an authenticity that anyone who lives in or is familiar with small towns, especially those in the South will recognize.

Another huge piece of this heartwarming, complex story is town Sheriff Nick Oliver.  Nick is the town’s “hero”, that one person who is the town’s moral compass and go to guy no matter what the crisis.He is also just happens to be hiding the fact that he’s gay.  From everyone, including his huge and loving family.  One initial encounter with Dan upsets Nick’s carefully crafted status quo.  As you can imagine, any relationship between a man proud to be out and gay with someone deep in the closet is one strewn with problems, arguments, and adjustments. Especially as each man has erected their own barriers against love and another relationship.  It’s a marvelous dance that will ensure that the reader enjoys it almost as much as the men involved.

But it’s not just the dynamics between Nick and Dan, but all the other towns people as well that draws the reader in.  The Mayor of Blue Ridge and local real estate goddess, Patsy, is as warm, intelligent and complex character as Charity, the wry, brilliant, and scary personal assistant. I love it when the female characters are as well written and deeply layered as the men.  And with these two gems, the reader has two strong women to fall in love with as they add luster and depth to each scene they appear in.  In fact, this story and series is chock full of delights, in characters, plot surprises and a dialog that  snaps and sizzles with the verbal sparring southerners are so  good at.

I highly recommend The Broken Heart Cafe to all readers, lovers of romance, crystalline characterizations and a addicting setting that will have you wanting to make travel arrangements.  T.A. Webb’s title came from a well known country song, “God Bless The Broken Road”:

“Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars

pointing my way into your loving arms” – Robert E. Boyd, Marcus Hummon

Its so perfect for the story, for the characters, and for this series that works its way into heart to stay.  Pick it up and begin your journey to Blue Ridge, Georgia and The Broken Road Cafe.

Cover art by Laura E. Harner.  Sexy, hot, but I miss a sense of location and characters.

Sales Links:     All Romance eBooks (ARe)        Amazon        Broken Heart Cafe

Book Details:

ebook, 143 pages
Published November 3rd 2013 by A Bear on Books (first published November 2nd 2013)
ISBN139781310557057
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Broken Road Cafe #1

The Broken Road Cafe series to date in the order they were written and should be read:

The Broken Road Cafe #1

Brothers In Arms, Broken Road Cafe #2