A MelanieM Release Day Review: There’s this Guy by Rhys Ford

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

theres-this-guy-by-rhys-fordHow do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.

What can you say about a book that opens up on the darkest moment of a man’s life, that point where he see’s no hope, no light and then carries you and him on a journey that see’s him safe, in love and with a future that burns as bright as the sun?  You say that you love it and cherish the man and couple you have been reading about.  That’s what you say.

Jake Moore is that man.  His life is one long night of pain, bloody beatings and unmeasurable sorrow.  And it hasn’t ended by any means.  The person most responsible is still barely alive, punishing Jake even from his dying bed.  The hell that this vicious man has made Jake’s life is brought vividly alive through Jake’s confused thoughts and memories of his past, his mother, conversations…his anguish bleeds off the page and into your heart.  He’s a welder by trade, also an artist which is where he pounds out his anger and confusion that he feels over his life and sexuality, welding pieces from the bits left over in the shop and things that he finds to bring home.

Then Dallas Yates and his best friend (and all around wonder) Celeste come into Jake’s life via the renovation of a Art Deco building across the street.  Between the two of them, Dallas who makes Jake yearn for everything he’s been told was evil and Celeste, flamboyant, feminine and proud of who she is (and how far she’s come), makes Jake think  past other boundaries he’s always been provided with.  It’s never downplayed how broken Jake is or that he needs professional help to recover, an important element I really loved here.  The relationship build is slow as Celeste questions Dallas on his ability to and his reasons for being attracted to Jake (there is a past element here for Dallas).  Layers upon layers here, like the detritus that has to be removed from the Art Deco building before she can shine, have to be peeled back before Dallas and Jake  can be a couple and have a future.

I almost gave this 4.75 stars over things as small as not seeing the opening of Bombshell, and other such things that really are extraneous.  Would I have loved them here?  Absolutely.  But were they necessary to the plot?  I don’t think so (although I do think they are in some cut pages somewhere on Rhys Ford’s computer).  I got the men, I got their love and their journey and that was deeply moving and so memorable.  I loved them so, and all..well, most of the secondary characters too.  From Celeste to the Yates family.

Want a story full of hope?  Want a story full of recovery, love and a journey towards a brighter future for a man who thought a future was something he didn’t deserve?  There’s This Guy by Rhys Ford is the story for you.  But let Rhys Ford put it better.  From Rhys Ford’s Foreword on There’s This Guy:

This book is for anyone who has stared into the abyss and wondered if they can or should go on.

You should.

Take that next step forward and go on.

And should you need help finding the strength for that step, reach out. There are people and places who will help you.

Keep walking until you find the sun on your face and until you can see the stars again.

You are worth that step. Worth that journey.

The world is a better place with you in it.

OK, I’m about to start crying all over again.  Probably will pick up the story and start reading it again as well.  Get the idea? Yes, I highly recommend it.   How I love this author!

Cover art is ok, but honestly I don’t know what I wanted for such a complex story and character.  Color me confused.

Sales Links 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2017 by Dreamspinner Presss
ISBN 1635334993 (ISBN13: 9781635334999)
Edition LanguageEnglish

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.

Sales Links

bef50-dreamspinner2blogo

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

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

A Jeri Release Day Review: There Has to be a Reason by Kate McMurray

Standard

 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

there-has-to-be-a-reason-by-kate-mcmurrayI am a fan of Kate McMurray’s books. If I see she has a new one, I want to read it but I don’t rush to read it. But I also know that I will enjoy it. Just like I did with this one.

A college age romance with an out and proud guy and an in the closet, just discovering that he isn’t as straight as he thought guy.

Dave never thought he was gay. Didn’t think about guys “that way”. And then he runs into Noel. A guy he immediately thinks of as beautiful. And he is completely drawn to him.

Noel is out and proud at college, but still not out to his family. Until he is outed. Instead of going back in the closet, he lets his family basically disown him. Figuring out how to pay for college is worth it for him to live an authentic life. And although he has crushed on Dave from afar and Dave is now returning those feelings, he will not live in the closet.

The relationship between Noel and Dave was super sweet. I really loved how Noel was guiding Dave to discover who he is without sacrificing himself to help him do it. As much as he wanted to.

Dave also has a relationship with his best friend Joe who does not understand why Dave is hanging out with Noel all of the time as he is so different from them. So while Dave is trying to come to terms with his sexuality and his attraction to Noel- he is also dealing with his friendship to Joe suffering. 

This was a good read. Although it was “angsty” it wasn’t full of angst. There were a lot of sweet moments and the various relationships Dave had felt very authentic. Kate McMurray’s books remind me a bit of the old Nora Roberts. You know it is going to be a good read. It certainly won’t be the best book you’ve read, but it doesn’t disappoint.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  The cover is gorgeous, pulling in the setting for the novel.

Sales Links

bef50-dreamspinner2blogo

65a2f-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Expected publication: January 9th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635332125 (ISBN13: 9781635332124)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A VVivacious Release Day Review: Thanks a Lot, John LeClair by Johanna Parkhurst

Standard
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
 
thanks-a-lot-john-leclairEmmitt LaPoint loves playing hockey. Hockey has been his refuge from the world ever since he was little. He is the golden boy of Colby, Vermont what with being the captain of the high school hockey team and having a near perfect GPA but he is also gay.
 
Emmitt finds it hard to reconcile his love for Dusty with his love for hockey because as he knows it there are no gay hockey players in the NHL. But when things between Dusty and him deteriorate, he has to take a stand for what he wants in his life irrespective of what his Dad or the world at large seems to want for him.
 
My only bone to pick with this book is that when it ended I wanted more! Lots more! I almost wish I could read about Emmitt forever.
 
This book was engaging and so very interesting. It was also incredibly well written. One of things I didn’t like about the first book was that it seemed to be composed entirely of facts with very little exposition. Also the lack of exposition made me feel that things in the first book were happening at break neck speed which could have been intentional on the author’s part but it put a dent in my reading experience. So I am delighted to acknowledge that those dents in the first book were completely hammered out in this book. It was just so beautifully written.
 
This story was written in first person and I have realized that first person narratives are especially lovely when you can relate to the narrator and that is what I loved about this book, the fact that it made me fall in love with Emmitt. I pretty much already loved Dusty, Casey and the Mortons but as the first book is mostly focused on Dusty’s life at home, I hadn’t really formed any opinion on Emmitt. So this book was an eye opener for me. One of the things I loved about Emmitt was that he realized that being impressive and courageous can actually be very tiring, even if it comes instinctually to you, when people start to expect it from you. But in this regard I loved what Coach Jackson had to say, I think I fell in love with him over his words.
 
“You think success is some trophy you put on your shelf? Some number you graduate high school with? Success isn’t something you hold up for other people to look at. It’s a life that’s filled with happiness. Hope. Meaning. Things like that. That’s what the goal is. You end up with any of those things, and it won’t matter how many trophies and numbers you have to show off.”
 
This book deals with so many themes but the most consistent theme that runs throughout this book is that of coming out. But don’t let that statement pigeon hole this book for you because it has so much else to teach. One thing I love about the young adult/new adult genre is that I always get to learn something and on that count this book is a treasure trove. And then there was hockey.  Ice Hockey is a sport I have fallen in love with only on the basis of what I have read of it in mm romance novels, I have no idea if I will enjoy its real life counterpart but I am not in any hurry to find out especially because I have really fallen in love with how it is portrayed in these books and especially this one. I love the whole new dimension that sports can add to a story and I loved how that aspect was used in this book.
 
This book is a must read. It is awfully amazing.
 
Cover Art by Anne Cain. I liked the cover but somehow I can’t agree with the choice of the font for the title what with all its sharp edges and the decision to have the title spread over so much of the cover.
Sales Links
65a2f-waxcreative-amazon-kindle
Book Details:
ebook, 204 pages
Expected publication: December 15th 2016 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN 1634774299 (ISBN13: 9781634774291)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL

A Stella Review: Strong Side (Eastshore Tigers #1) by Alison Hendricks

Standard

RATING  3,5 out of 5 stars

Strong SideTheir chemistry on the field is undeniable. But can they ever be more than friends?

Jason Hawkins is about to throw the biggest Hail Mary pass of his career.

If he can’t turn NFL recruiters’ heads this year, he’ll lose his shot at the one thing he’s ever been good at. But every quarterback needs a man he can count on down-field. For Jason, that man just might be the Tigers’ new receiver, Derek Griffin.

Four years ago, Derek nearly lost everything after being outed by his teammates.

Now he finally has a chance to get it all back as a walk-on for Eastshore College… if he can resist his immediate attraction to the gorgeous and very straight star quarterback.

An instant connection during practice leads to an easy friendship that only grows stronger off the field. Derek is convinced friendship is all it’ll ever be, but a very confusing moment of impulse leaves both of them fumbling for answers about their relationship.

As curiosity gives way to passion and passion gives way to something deeper, Jason and Derek will have to tackle their own personal demons to bring home the win and earn their happy ending.

I’m always curious about new authors, so when I saw this debut book by Alison Hendricks I soon picked it, even though I’m not a huge fan of sport themed stories but I couldn’t resist. Plus the cover wasn’t bad at all.

Strong Side was a joy to read, light, quick and lovely, there wasn’t any drama or angst.  Everything flew by easily, the coming out, the relationship between Derek and Jason, I really appreciated all of these. Sometimes  a book like this one is exactly what I want to read.

Everything about the story was believable and realistic, especially in their friendship  that first developed, and in  the love that came later. It is truly a story I had no trouble liking characters I cared for. I was waiting for the so called shoe to drop and when I understood no drama was going to happen, I fully enjoyed the rest of the story.

I usually am a little wary about the new adult genre but in this case the author did great cause both Jason and Derek are sure of themselves and what they want, ready for the future to come, even when it’s a hard one, they never fall down.

I must add, there were some mistakes, editing issues I noted even with my poor English, but I pretty much ignored them, it’s a debut book and at the end it was well done in my opinion.

Strong Side really satisfied me. I have to say I relaxed and enjoyed it a lot. I can’t wait for the second book in this new series!

The cover art is well done and eyecatching to me.

Sale Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 264 pages
Published January 20th 2016 by Amazon Digital Services
Original TitleStrong Side
ASINB01AWVK8QC
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEastshore Tigers #1

A Book Spotlight: Sawyer ( Torey Hope – The Later Years) by A. D. Ellis (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Sawyer_BTBanner

AboutTheBookSawyereBook1TITLE: Sawyer

SERIES: Torey Hope – The Later Years

AUTHOR: A.D. Ellis

PUBLISHER: A.D. Ellis Publishing

COVER ARTIST: Andrea Michelle with Artistry in Design

LENGTH: 372 Pages

RELEASE DATE: August 06, 2015

BLURB: Sawyer Morgan has a secret. Revealing his true feelings to his family could bring devastation and destruction, so he keeps the burden firmly on his own shoulders. When he moves back to Torey Hope to help with the family business, Sawyer’s hidden truth becomes too much to bear.

Luke Hamilton has a past overflowing with emotional and physical scars. A promise to his dying mother prevents him from seeking the love and acceptance he longs for. Taking a job in Torey Hope brings Luke face-to-face with taboo desires he thought long extinguished.

Secrets, lies, hatred, and fear threaten to destroy their lives. But, love has the power to overcome and lay claim to victory.

Will Sawyer succeed in proving to Luke some connections are worth fighting for?

A poignant tale of two hearts valiantly fighting to stay true and find love.

**This is a male/male romance. It has adult themes, language, and situations. Readers sensitive to homosexual relationships, abuse, hate crimes, and derogatory terms should take note. This story is meant only for readers aged 18+**

Excerpt

 

I’m gay.

His brother, Decker, had taken the news fairly well. He’d needed a solo walk through the woods to gather his thoughts; Sawyer suspected his always-in-control, serious, black and white brother also needed to come to grips with the fact that he’d never suspected his brother’s sexual preference was different than his own. How ironic that the one person Sawyer was the closest to in the whole world was the one person who was the most clueless.

Sawyer had held his breath practically the whole time Decker had been walking through the woods. A deluge of rain poured down as the dark sky broke open, yet Sawyer still sat alone at the campfire. His head had started playing tricks on him. You disgust him…he can’t stand the thought of having a gay brother…you’ve lost him…he’s not coming back. But Sawyer held out hope that Decker was just doing his usual thinking things through.

He had breathed a sigh of relief when Decker emerged, soaking wet, from the woods. Walking towards him with purpose, his twin had stopped in front of him and spoke the most heartwarming, sincere words Sawyer had ever heard from him.

“You’re my brother, always have been, always will be. I wish you could have told me sooner, but nothing has changed between us. I’ll be there in any and every way that I can.” Decker grabbed Sawyer and pulled him into a deep embrace, communicating his love and acceptance through his touch.

Telling his cousins, Zach and Kendrick, had been less emotional, and a lot more entertaining. Sawyer had to laugh at the questions his admission had stirred up.

“I’m gay.”

Two words that held such power. Would they laugh? Would they walk away in disgust? Would they be angry?

Zach smiled and nodded. “I think I’ve known that for a long time, man, but thanks for telling me.”

“Wait, you knew? Why didn’t you ever say something? Why did you joke with me about girls?”

“I don’t know, I guess I figured you’d tell me when you were ready. I didn’t want to bring it up if I was wrong and it offended you. I think I joked about girls thinking it would give you the opportunity to bring it up if you wanted to.” Zach stood and walked to his cousin, reaching a hand down, he pulled the other man up into a hug. “Nothing changes, I’ve got your back, man.”

Kendrick sat with his hand rubbing his chin. Would he be the one who couldn’t accept it?

Eyes twinkling and a shit-eatin’ grin on his face, he finally spoke. “What’s it like to suck cock?”

The other three burst out laughing.

BuyLinks

Amazon US

Apple iBooks

AuthorBio

 

AuthorPicA.D. Ellis is the award-winning author of two related collections of stories, A Torey Hope Novel Series and Torey Hope: The Later Years. Her debut novel, For Nicky, was voted #3 of the Top 50 Indie Books of 2014 by ReadFree.ly readers/voters. A.D.’s fourth novel, Loving Josie, was awarded the bronze medal in the contemporary romance category in the prestigious Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Awards.

Born and raised in a small farming town in southern Indiana, A.D. was an avid reader from the time she learned to read.  She could often be found curled up somewhere with her nose in a book. Most of her friends and family were not such book enthusiasts, so A.D. got used to dealing with snickers and joking comments about her constant reading habits. Truth be told, Ms. Ellis has always been the definition of a book nerd.

A.D. always dreamed of being a teacher. Graduating from Indiana State University in 1999 and earning a Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan in 2003, she met her goal of entering the world of education. A.D. has been teaching in the inner city of Indianapolis, Indiana for 17 years. She spent the majority of her 17 years in fourth grade, but has now taken on the challenges of teaching 3rd and 4th grade alternative education students. A.D. loves teaching fractions, variables, probability, and graphing in Math. She loves almost all aspects of English Language Arts. Figurative language, theme, making predictions, drawing conclusions, inference, context clues, making writing come to life, A.D. loves it all! Her students don’t always share in that enthusiasm.

She met her husband in college in 1996 and they married in June of 2000. She lives in a south side suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and two school-aged children. When she’s not reading or writing with music blaring, she can be found shopping at thrift stores, reading to her children, and sweating at the gym in the very early mornings.

A.D. began her writing journey in October 2013, and she is grateful for the friends and support she’s found along the way.

:: Website :: Facebook Page :: Twitter :: Amazon :: Newsletter Signup ::

RafflecopterGiveaway

Winner’s Prize: Signed copy of Sawyer (US only) or Winner’s choice of any of my eBooks (box set titles included)

Second Winner’s Prize: Winner’s choice of any of my single titles

a Rafflecopter giveaway
//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

TourSchedule

November 23  – Hearts on Fire Reviews
November 24  – Man2Mantastic
November 25  – The Purple Rose Tea House
November 26  – Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings
November 27  – Daydream Believer Book Blog
November 28  – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
November 29  – Loving Without Limits
November 30  – Drops of Ink
December 1  – Bike Book Reviews
December 2  – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
December 3  – Cia’s Stories
Bayou Book Junkie
December 4  – Frosty’s Book Corner

Our Pat Henshaw Interview and Book Spotlight! Redesigning Max
 (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw

Standard

RedesigningMaxFS

Redesigning Max
 (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw
Release Date: July 29, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Banner300x250

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Author Interview

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Pat Henshaw, author of Redesigning Max.

Hi, Pat, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Hi! I’m originally from Nebraska and have lived all over the U. S., landing here in Northern California. Now retired, I’ve held a number of jobs including theatrical costuming for the Alley Theatre in Houston, public relations for radio and television at WETA in D. C., and teaching English composition at a junior college in California.

Redesigning Max, the second of the Foothills Pride novellas, revolves around the unlikely pair of interior designer and architect Fredi Zimmer and the CEO of an outdoors equipment store and wildlife guide Max Greene. When he hires Fredi to redesign and update his Sierra Mountain mountain cabin, Max finds his life and heart undergoing a makeover too.

Not everyone in the small Stone Acres, California, community is as excited about Max and Fredi getting together as the guys are. Because Max’s been in the closet so long, he not only has to convince his friends that he’s gay but he also has to convince Fredi, who keeps getting mixed signals from him.

Do you have pictures that you use for your characters? Can you share them with us?

Yes, for this book, in my head I saw Fredi as Chris Colfer, so I watched a number of Glee episodes as well aschris-colfer-2012-tribeca-film-festival-04 ArronEckhartlooked at the accompanying photo of Chris. Max always looked like Aaron Eckhart with the addition of a droopy mustache to me and sounded like Sam Elliot.

What kind of book would you like to write that people would see as a huge departure for you?

I’d love to be able to write a children’s or YA book. Since I’ve never tried to write either one, they would be a larger-than-life departure for me. I’ve already tackled murder mysteries, fantasy (self-published The Vampire’s Food Chain about a vampire becoming a god), and het romance (as well as my gay romance Foothills Pride series).

Have you ever killed a character? Was it traumatic for you? If you haven’t killed one, would you ever consider it?

Not in the Foothills Pride series, no. I don’t think I’ll be killing off anyone in any of the gay romances I write. I have killed off characters in my futuristic fantasy novel, The Vampire’s Food Chain, but he was a vampire who needed killing. And when I was writing murder mysteries, well, a dead body is de rigueur, right?

Favorite location you’ve ever written about?

I like the Sierra Foothills where I’ve set the Foothills Pride series. I was particularly pleased when a friend of mine who grew up in the foothills told me I’d gotten the places and the people right. In fact, she said she knew Lorraine and Bud’s Rock Bottom Café really well. Since I hadn’t based it on any one place, I took that as a compliment. The last time we drove around the foothills I was saddened to see to see the place which I used as Guy’s Stonewall Saloon in What’s in a Name? wasn’t a bar anymore. It seems to be a warehouse now. Darn.

Introduce us to characters from a work in progress

Adam, the main character in When Adam Fell, is a renowned celebrity chef who walked away from his high-profile job in San Francisco to open a small foothills restaurant, Sierra Bistro. There he cooks a one seating prix fixe meal four times a week for friends, celebraties, and millionaires from the Lake Tahoe and San Francisco Bay Areas. Before he turned his back on the San Francisco gig, he was the host of his own cooking show on TV and had written a couple of bestselling cookbooks. Why he left his high-profile job and what he’s going to do next with his life are the focal points of his book.

Thanks, Pat, for stopping by and for the great interview!  Please come back!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Hunting and Fishing, hires him to remodel his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out and proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes’ he remodels, and Max is just too hunky gorgeous for words.

When Max starts coming on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated rustic cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out, he finds is the most exciting and wonderful time of his life, despite the conservative former friends who want to stop his slide into hell.

Pages or Words: 73 pages

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Romance

BannerTemplate

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

 

By the time we got to the Rock Bottom Cafe, I felt like I’d bottomed out. I was hungry, tired, and feeling the first twinges of a headache.
Max hadn’t exaggerated about how much I’d hate the Rock Bottom’s decor. It was the worst of rural cafe: hellacious plastic flowers, grotesque plastic-covered booths, peeling gangrene-painted beadboard walls, pockmarked linoleum floor, and faded food-stained menus. It made the cabin look almost palatial, except it didn’t smell as bad.
As Max slid into one side of a booth and I into the other, he said, “Food’s great here. Okay?”
I glared at him, but I had to admit the odors coming from the kitchen wove seductively around us.
After we’d ordered and had gotten glasses of iced tea, which I liberally dosed with artificial sweetener, Max leaned back in his side of the booth and blew out a little breath.
“So guess here’s what you need to know about me.” He was looking at the tabletop. “I was an only kid when my folks died. Raised by my aunt and uncle with their four boys. I was the youngest and nobody cared what I thought, so I don’t talk much.”
Oh dear. I wasn’t sure which of those statements I should answer, if any. My heart bled for the beautiful man in front of me who would give me a raging hard-on if I let my libido take control.
His words and lack of self-pity made me want to create a unique space where he’d feel completely at home and that would soothe him when he needed it. I probably wouldn’t end up his BFF or someone he could unbend with, but I could create a warm cocoon to shelter and coddle the man or let him entertain his friends comfortably.
The image of the young Max feeling like an outsider when he was thrust on his uncaring aunt and uncle to raise was banished by the waitress who put lunch in front of us.
“Oh. My. God!” I nearly drooled into the chili and homemade bread as I tasted them. “This is incredible.”
“What’d I tell you?” Max gloated. “Said you shouldn’t be put off by the decor. Some of us are more than our decor.”
I spooned up a couple of bites, then looked at Max. “You really do think I’m a snob, don’t you?”
Why was it so easy to get him to blush? I hadn’t a clue, but his quick, mercurial red cheeks had me intrigued.
“No, no, I don’t think you’re a snob,” he protested. “I mean, you’re just so….” He waved a couple of fingers at me, but kept his elbows on the table as if protecting his bowl of chili.
“I’m so what?”
Max shrugged. “I don’t know. Beautiful. And fancy,” he added, ducking his head over his bowl.
Ah, I understood now. Max was intimidated by my suit.
“Look, you came to get me in the coffee shop. I was dressed to take a rich lady through her house later this afternoon. I can work in jeans and a T-shirt”—did Max think I wore suits every day?—“or anything I want. Pajamas even. You just caught me on a suit day.” Which, I didn’t add, was too often for even my overblown sense of style.
Now Max was staring at me.
“Yeah, right. You wear jeans,” he scoffed, but looked interested, intrigued.
I shrugged. “Okay, not when I’m with a client. At home I’m way more casual.” I might have sounded a tad defensive.
“Yeah, right,” Max muttered with a grin.
I left it lying there. It wasn’t worth fighting about. But it bothered me that he saw such a divide between us. I was just a man, wasn’t I? Just like him, right? What was he going on about? Sheesh.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride series, was born in Nebraska but promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat has visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and regularly travels to Rome, Italy, and Eugene, Oregon, to see family.

Now retired, Pat has taught English composition at the junior college level; written book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helped students find information as a librarian; and promoted PBS television programs.

Pat has raised two incredible daughters who daily amaze everyone with their power and compassion. Pat’s supported by a husband who keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away writing fiction.

Where to find the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pat.henshaw.10
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6998437.Patois
Book website: http://whatsinanamenovella.blogspot.com
Website: http://patbooked.blogspot.com
E-mail: whatsinanamenovella@comcast.net
Tumblr: http://phenshaw.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @phenshaw

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

 Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: One of three $10 Starbucks Gift Cards.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Final

Tour Dates & Stops:
29-Jul
Bike Book Reviews
Rainbow Gold Reviews
Hearts on Fire

30-Jul
Nephylim
Bayou Book Junkie

31-Jul
Parker Williams

3-Aug
Mikky’s World of Books
Prism Book Alliance

4-Aug
Velvet Panic
Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

5-Aug
Happily Ever Chapter
Jessie G. Books

6-Aug
Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

7-Aug
Inked Rainbow Reads
MM Good Book Reviews

10-Aug
Molly Lolly

11-Aug
The Novel Approach
Divine Magazine

A Stella Review: Knight of Ocean Avenue (Love in Laguna #1) by Tara Lain

Standard

Rating 4 stars out of 5

Knight of Ocean Avenue coverHow can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgement blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising star, celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

 

Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain was simply a joy to read. This series started so good I can’t wait for the next one, hoping it will be sweet and light and positive like this one. If you, like me, are a sucker for flamboyant characters, gay/out for you and opposites attract, this book is definitely a must read!

The book opens with Billy being left by his girlfriend Annie. Billy, a gorgeous man and a sweet one (too sweet for Annie, let me tell you!), doesn’t have a high opinion of himself, most cause he isn’t literate, but he’s an amazing son for his parents and brother for his sisters. It’s because of his hard work in the construction area and lot of sacrifices that the girls went to college. He helps his family in any way he can. He just wanted a good girl to be by his side but each time they left him. Then he meets Shaz and things start making sense. Shaz is everything Billy isn’t: gay, flamboyant, stylish. The chemistry between them is soon explosive and evident.

“Oh God, I am gay. I am.” He wanted to laugh. He wanted to cry.
Shaz’s soft high voice sounded muffled against his chest. “Yes, dear. I think you are.”
“What does that mean?”
“We’ll find out. Don’t worry. It’s better to know.”

Talk about perfect characters! Tara created a wonderful couple, two men perfect for each other and perfect in the eye of the reader. That kind of persons you absolutely need in your life, as a brother or friend. I was soon caught in their lives, but most of all I was cheering for Billy, he so needed something beautiful like Shaz to happened to him.

“When I was a kid and other boys played baseball and rode skateboards and made fun of me, I dreamed of knights in shining armor. One knight specifically who would ride in on his great palfrey, sweep me up in his arms, and rescue me from the cruelties of being me. A hero who would look into my heart and not see a sissy who liked to sew and try out girl’s makeup, but a secret princess waiting in a tower. Waiting for him.” […]“The years passed, no knight came, and I let the cruelties make me as hard as the people who dished them out. But the day I first saw you in that coffee shop, not letting the bully get to me even though you didn’t know me at all, I saw that you were a knight. And today you stripped the cloak from your armor and revealed you were my knight.”
Billy shook his head, fighting the heat behind his eyes. “I’m no knight.”
“Kind, loyal, true, and brave. Works for me.”

I loved this book, still I didn’t give it five stars. The reason is really simply. I love angst, troubled stories and I NEED stories like Knight of Ocean Avenue in between to help me relax a little. It’s so good to read a light, lovely and simple story. But… this one was too simple. Everything went to smoothly till the end and it left me craving for just a tiny little bit more of something.

I’m waiting impatiently for the next one, I hope to get to see Shaz and Billy once again, but I have my eyes on two second characters who deserve their HEA together. Will Tara fulfill my wish?

Cover art by Reese Dante. Reese has a unique style that I’m becoming to like more with each cover I see.

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

Book Details:

Published May 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ebook, 254 pages
ISBN13 9781632165763
Edition Language English

 

A MelanieM Review: Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) by Alex Beecroft

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Blue eyed Stranger coverFor Billy Wright and Martin Deng, life presents very different but just as challenging obstacles to overcome on  a daily basis.  Billy Wright’s problem? He’s only visible when he’s wearing a mask, which is  fine as Billy performs at country fairs with his local morris dancing troupe. But when the dancing is over, Billy’s life is lonely and empty, made seriously worse by his crippling depression.

In any crowd Martin Deng would stand out but he is that more startling as a member of a historical reenactment troop . After all, there aren’t that many black Vikings on the living history circuit. But as the founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society, Martin is  lonely and harried. The headmaster as the school he teaches at doesn’t like his weekend activities, his warriors seem to expect him to run everything single-handedly, and it’s stressful enough being one minority without telling the hard men of his group he’s also gay.  Or coming out to his family.

When Billy’s and Martin’s societies are double-booked at a packed county show, they know at once they are kindred spirits, united by a deep feeling of connectedness to their history and culture. But they’re also both hiding in their different ways, and they need each other to be brave enough to take their masks off and still be seen.

The village of Trowchester crept into my heart with the first story in the Trowchester series, Trowchester Blues.  I fell whole heartedly in love with the layered characterizations, and richly textured story set within a fictional town so memorable and believable that I never wanted to leave. I knew another story was coming but wondered if it could possibly live up to the story that preceded it.  I shouldn’t have worried.   Blue Eyed Stranger is just as moving and rich as the first, perhaps even more.

Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues #2) by Alex Beecroft is not a continuation of Finn and Michael’s story.  In fact, Finn, and his book club make only scant appearances here, along with Trowchester’s archaeologist James.  No, this story belongs totally and gloriously with the characters of Billy and Martin, a duo so odd and compelling that I wondered how Alex Beecroft came to think of them at all, let alone as a couple.

Billy Wright has so many layers to his character.  We meet him in the throes of a deep depression attack.  He is unable to move, even if its to save himself from the cold and exposure.  The thought that finally creeps through the  blackness enveloping him is the county fair his Morris troop, Griffins, is to dance at and we begin to understand how important dancing is to Billy’s survival.  The music, on my what  incredible music,that exists in Billy comes later.  With Billy, its at though he is enveloped in an invisibility cloak, one that oddly enough disappears once Billy dons the makeup and yes, cloak of a Morris dancer.  And then he flies, and takes our hearts with him.

I didn’t really understand that much about Morris dancing, the various types (Border, Cotswold, etc) and apparel and facial makeup the dancers put on.  But as Billy explains it to Martin, the knowledge and history (as well as misunderstandings about the black face  makeup), flow as naturally in the dialog as it would in a conversation with someone new and interested in what you were doing.   Beecroft gave me a nice foundation of knowledge that sent me off to Youtube for examples of all types of morris dancing and music.  But its not just in the explanations but in the descriptions of Billy and his troop as they whirl and jump and the clash of their wooden staffs that make this element of the story come alive!  I felt that not only could it see it happening, I could hear the various instruments played and the crowd react with glee and appreciation.

On the other side of this unlikely pair is Martin Deng, a phyically impressive man, whose biracial appearance sets him apart (father is from Ethiopia and an English mum).  His profession is to teach history in school but his passion?  To bring it to life as an active member and founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society.  Martin is not only passionate about being historically correct in appearance and actions but as a black Viking he calls attention to himself just in his presence alone.  Martin is also gay, a fact he hides from almost everyone, including his family.  His small group, Bretwalda, is a splinter group from a larger more restrictive society and Martin is buried under the pressure of a new troop, obtaining new recruits and managing their increasing fair/event schedule while maintaining his job. It a precarious position, and becoming more so by the minute.   Martin may appear to be the opposite of Billy but underneath, that simply isn’t true.  Both men care deeply and passionately about history and representing it accurately.  While Billy is out with his sexuality, but unless he has his true self cloaked behind his Griffins attire, then Billy is less than assured about his attractiveness and appeal.

Their romance is believably full of obstacles, including Billy’s depression which is handled realistically and authentically and Martin’s fear of being ostracized if his homosexuality were known.   Both Bill and Martin need to address issues within themselves before they can move forward as a couple together and the manner in which Alex Beecroft understands this and makes the reader a part of their process elevates this narrative even higher.

Bily and Martin’s journey is fraught with misteps, fear, and ignorance but the trip they take together is gripping, emotionally rewarding, and results in what is one of my favorite books of the year to date.  You don’t have to have read the first story, Trowchester Blues, to read this one.  It does beautifully as a stand alone.  But together?  The portrait of an amazing small village full of people you would love to meet becomes richer and, quite frankly, more addictive.

Need a new passion or several?  Pick up Blue Eyed Stranger by Alex Beecroft, its my of my finest reads to date this year!

Cover art by Lou Harper.  I love the cover, but the inclusion of the gun (a minor element) surprises me other than to brand the series.  Give me a hearpe or a true Viking helmet instead!

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing   All Romance (ARe)   Amazon coming closer to April 6th.

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages
Expected publication: April 6th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
original titleBlue Eyed Stranger
ISBN139781626492127
edition languageEnglish

Books in the Trowchester Series

  • Trowchester Blues
  • Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester #2) Expected publication April 6, preorder now
  • Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues, #3)Expected publication: July 27th 2015

A MelanieM Review: Stand By You (Belonging #3) by A.M. Arthur

Standard

Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

RStand By You_coveromy Myers is still deep in recovery three months after friends rescued him from the apartment of his abusive boyfriend.  Unable to hold down most jobs, his friends offered him not only a place to stay with them at their apartment, but a  job bussing tables at their new coffee shop, Half Dozen.  Romy has almost completely shutdown, quiet and shaky from the PTSD and trauma he suffered at Carlos’ hands.  The old Romy, flirty, funny, and adorable, was buried deep inside.  After all being that person had almost gotten Romy killed.  Now alone and quiet is the key for Romy these days.  But watching his friends, Donner and Ezra so deeply in love sometimes makes Romy remember when he wanted that too.  Until it all went so wrong.

Brendan Walker has made watching over the wounded Romy sort of his job since he was the one to carry the bleeding man out of that apartment of horrors.  Ex football  player turned building maintenance worker, Brendan stays close, using funny texts and messages to stay close, developing a friendship that helps Romy stay grounded enough to get through social situations.  But Brendan finds Romy occupying his thoughts 24 hours a day.  And feelings start developing towards Romy that no straight man ought to have.

Now Brendan finds himself questioning his sexuality.  If he is gay, is that something his large family will accept?  And Romy finds Brendan protectiveness makes him feel safe, perhaps safe enough to think about love once more.  Can these men put uncertainty and their pasts behind them to make a future together?

Stand By You is the third book in the Belonging series about a close group of friendsby A.M. Arthur.  It is also the only book I have read so far in the series.  Normally I find that an impediment to understanding the characters and events that have already taken place, but in Stand By You, I missed the horrific events that precipitated Romy’s rescue from Carlos as they had already taken place.   Stand By You picks up with a physically recovered Romy still dealing with the emotional aftermath of his captivity and brutal treatment at his boyfriend’s hands.  Romy is such a clearly defined and believable character.It is easy to find yourself emphasizing with his problems and nightmares.  Watching his character learn to trust again was deeply moving and a wonderful part of this story.

Also touching was the figure of Brendan Walker.  A “bruiser” of a man in appearance, Brendan’s real self is that of a considerate, protective, thoughtful person who loves his family so much he is willing to let his assumptions  about their reactions rule his life.  Here Brendan’s biggest fear is being anything other than straight.  His attractions to men don’t start with Romy, so this isn’t a “gay for you” story but one about  acceptance and exploring your sexuality.  Brendan’s journey, while not as wounded a one, is as deeply affecting as Romy’s, especially since they are so intertwined.

There are so many issues that A. M. Arthur addresses in Stand By You, from the impact coming out has on a person and their  family, to the recovery from a trauma both emotional and physical, and people dealing with all facets of their personality, good and bad.  No matter the subject matter and the manner in which Arthur uses it in her story, this author handles it with sensitivity and care.  It makes for lovely reading and layered characters that makes an impression upon the readers from start to finish.

As with Foundation of Trust, Stand By You will drive me back to the other stories in this series.  To meet Donner and Ezra and all the rest and read their stories as well.  As I said, you could read this as a stand alone as I did. It works well as such.  Or go to the beginning (assuming you haven’t already done so) and start from there.  I will be playing catch up!  Either way, consider Stand By You by A.M. Arthur a highly recommended read at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

Cover artist not listed. But that is a good cover for this story.

Sales Links:    Carina Press   All Romance eBooks  amazon  Stand By You

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: October 20th 2014 by Carina Press
ASINB00LSDQNJK

 

Books in the Belonging Series in the order they were written:

No Such Thing (Belonging #1)
Maybe This Time (Belonging #2)
Stand By You (Belonging #3)