In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Rabi and Matthew by L.A. Witt

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Rabi and Matthew by L.A. Witt
Riptide Publishing
Cover By: Christine Coffee

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

 

 

 

About Rabi and Matthew

A queer retelling of Romeo & Juliet, except no one has to bury their gays.

A decades-old family rivalry is reaching a boiling point as the patriarchs vie for a seat in Congress. Democrat vs Republican, Muslim vs Christian, Hashmi vs Swain — the Midwestern town of Arbor Hills is one spark away from an explosion of violence. So when two men find themselves irresistibly drawn together at a party, only to discover they were born on opposite sides of a bloody battle line, Matthew Swain and Rabi Hashmi know they should leave well enough alone.

The pull between them is magnetic, though, and it’s too strong to ignore. Unable to resist, they meet again in secret. Generations of hatred can’t temper the passionate love growing between them, but two men falling for each other in the middle of a war zone can’t hold back the inevitable clash.

And when decades of political, religious, and personal strife finally come to a head, there will be blood.

Now available from Riptide Publishing.

 

About L.A. Witt

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .

Connect with L.A.:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Rabi and Matthew, one lucky person will win a $10 Riptide gift card. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 10, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Surreal Estate by Jesi Lea Ryan

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Surreal Estate by Jesi Lea Ryan
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art:  Lou Harper

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

 

About Surreal Estate

Sasha Michaels is a psychic with an affinity for houses. And he’s homeless. Go figure. After months of sleeping rough, he stumbles upon an abandoned house, and the lonely place beckons him inside. He’s finally safe . . . until someone comes blundering in to his hideaway.

House-flipper Nick Cooper lost everything in the recession. Desperate to revive his business, he turns to a loan shark to fund his comeback project: flipping an abandoned house full of potential. But it turns out the house has an unexpected occupant.

Nick and Sasha make a deal: Sasha can stay in exchange for helping with the renovation. To both of their surprise, the closer they get to the loan shark’s due date, the stronger their feelings for each other grow. Problem is, Nick isn’t the only one with feelings for Sasha, and now the house doesn’t want to let Sasha go.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

 

About Jesi Lea Ryan

USA Today bestselling author Jesi Lea Ryan grew up in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, Iowa. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in creative writing and literature and a Master’s in business administration, along with an assortment of Associate’s degrees, certificates and designations, none of which have anything to do with writing books about psychics.

Jesi considers herself a well-rounded nerd. She loves studying British history, exploring foreign cities on Google Earth, watching TED talks, listening to true crime podcasts, floating in her pool, and reading or listening to books — approximately two hundred books a year in many different genres. The side effect of all this is that she’s the ideal person to have on your trivia team, or what a former co-worker called “a dump truck of knowledge.

Her biggest vice is procrastination. #TheStruggleIsReal

Jesi spent most of her adult life in Madison, Wisconsin, but now lives in Maricopa, Arizona, with her spouse and two exceptionally naughty kitties. Summers may be brutal, but at least she doesn’t have to shovel the heat off her driveway.

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Surreal Estate, one lucky person will win a $20 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 10, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Barb the Zany Old Lady: Out in the End Zone (Out in College #2) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Out in the End Zone takes place concurrently with the first book in the series, Out in the Deep End and explains where Evan’s been going while Gage has been hanging out with Derek at their house.

Evan is Derek’s roommate, a happy-go-lucky football player with a good family background. He’s fulfilling his dreams of playing football at a small SoCal college because a deadly accident four years ago took his friend and his dreams of playing pro ball. Now, for some reason, he’s attracted to a guy at a party and not attracted to most of the girls there, including Nicole who is avidly pursuing him, and Amanda, Derek’s ex. The guy is Mitch Peterson, an out-and-proud cheer crew leader who lives with his gram and has a strong Internet following for his vlog. Evan surprises himself by agreeing to help Mitch on his senior project, which will measure the influence of social media on relationships.

They will be fake boyfriends, but the question viewers need to vote on after each video session is whether or not they are real or fake. Seems simple but doesn’t include the fact that Evan is really bi and falls head over heels for Mitch. All the ensuing chaos and happy romantic times are what makes the story interesting. It’s not all as readers may anticipate, and it is a fun book to read. I particularly enjoyed Mitch’s character and even now, a few days after finishing the story, I can clearly picture him and his wide, sunny smile. Evan was great as well, but as is typical in these stories, he dragged his feet a bit too long in coming out to his family and team and that’s hurt Mitch so I’m sure other Team-Mitch readers like me will feel as I felt and want to kick Evan in the pants—a few times!

Lane Hayes does really good character sketches for young adult/new adult stories. This was an amusing premise—a different play on the fake boyfriend trope. It’s nice that it wove in and out with the first book in the series as well. Not everything in life falls in line smoothly and this proves that point well. All in all, this is a sweet and enjoyable new adult story and I recommend it to those who like the fake boyfriend theme.

The cover by Reese Dante features a torso shot of Evan that is quite attractive.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published October 7th 2018 by Lane Hayes
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesOut in College #2

New Release Blitz for Out in the End (Out in College #2) Zone by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Out in the End Zone

Series: Out in College #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: October 10

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 44000

Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Football, Coming out

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Evan di Angelo is an upbeat, good-natured goofball who loves his friends and family… and football. A traumatic accident may have ended his hopes of playing professionally, but he’s made the most of his four years on the field at a small Southern California college. He’s learned the hard way to embrace change, take chances and try things outside of his comfort zone…like agreeing to play fake boyfriends for someone else’s senior project.

Mitch Peterson knows that being his authentic self is the path to true happiness. He’s grown from a shy, quiet kid from a broken home to an out and proud budding internet sensation bound for grad school. An awesome senior project is the key. It’s unlikely anyone will believe the hunky, straight athlete is Mitch’s new lover, but it’s worth a shot. However, as their tentative friendship blossoms into unexpected attraction, the lines between reality and fiction blur for both men. Evan is forced to face old demons and decide if he has the courage to take the next step and come out in the end zone.

Excerpt

Mitch scoffed. “Cooperate, please. This is your intro. Maybe you should put your arm around me and kiss my cheek.”

“Now?”

“Yes. This is a rehearsal, so…go for it.”

I moved to his side, slipped my arm around his waist, and kissed his cheek. His scruff threw me off stride. It wasn’t noticeable because his facial hair was blond, but I could feel it. He smelled and felt different from anyone I’d ever kissed before. Sure, I’d kissed male relatives. I was part Italian. No one in my family shied from physical contact. But a hug and kiss on each cheek from my Uncle Gianni was different from kissing an attractive man. I caressed his cheek impulsively and then leaned in to sniff him the way I’d wanted to since the party. “Mmm.”

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“You smell good. I’ve never kissed a guy I wasn’t related to who had a five o’clock shadow.”

Mitch gave me a funny look. “You kissed me yesterday at lunch.”

“Yeah, but you haven’t shaved since this morning, right? The texture is like sandpaper but in a good way. I like it,” I assured him.

He looked flustered for a second but recovered quickly. “Well, that’ll make the real kiss easier then.”

“Right. When do we kiss, and what’s the intensity level supposed to be? G, PG, PG-13? Or are we going straight to the nasty?” I teased.

“Ha. G is peck on the cheek, which we just covered. PG is peck on the lips. So somewhere in between that and PG-13 works.”

“Got it. Maybe we should practice first,” I said.

“Um…sure.” Mitch turned around and gestured toward the bar stools at the island. “We can sit there, and I’ll set up the tripod a foot or so from where you’re standing now.”

“We don’t have to be in exact position. I just need to get used to touching you. It would be the same with anyone. Guy or girl.”

Okay, fine. I wanted to do it again. I’d thought about him nonstop since the party last weekend. And that throwaway kiss yesterday at the restaurant had opened a Pandora’s box. I was consumed now. I didn’t want to practice kissing him. I had to or I’d go crazy.

“Maybe you’re right. Um…okay. You can kiss me,” he said in a low voice.

“Well, you have to participate,” I chided as I stepped into his space.

“I’m…yes. Do you want to go first? Like…” Mitch set his hand on my hip and inched closer still. “This?”

I lifted my right hand and hovered it above his ear for a moment before threading my fingers through his hair. He suddenly looked nervous, which somehow worked in my favor. I held his gaze, then moved forward and gently pressed my lips to his. And fuck, it felt amazing to be here again. I tilted my head slightly, loving the intoxicating contrast of his soft lips and scratchy chin. Mitch closed his eyes and hooked his arms around my neck so we stood toe to toe and chest to chest. All the ways this felt different no longer applied. I knew what to do here. I was practically a fucking expert.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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A MelanieM Review: A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A sweet, Greek romance that will hook you from start to finish.

Jimmy has a secret.

But when he meets Ren, he can no longer hide it.

Ren is an adventurous comic-book nerd.
He transfers to Thessaloniki, Greece in an attempt to find his place in the world.
What he gets is more than just an escape from his academic family.

Jimmy is a hard working man.
After losing his mother, he has put his heart and soul into finishing his studies and helping his dad through his financial difficulties.

When he is introduced to Ren, Jimmy initiates him into the coffee-and-chill culture of his Greek city.

But something awakens in both of them. Something neither can tame.

Can the two boys be more than just friends?

And what is that feeling called? That feeling they can’t seem to shake off?

A Taste of Agapi is a sweet, low-angst, coming-out romance with some swearing, a little bit of geekiness, a lot of Greek culture and a happy ever after.

If you read that last sentence of the blurb above basically my review is written for me.  All that is true.  Review done.  Shortest review ever!  Excerpt that A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan also opens a window into Thessaloniki, Greece. We meet its people with its infinite variety, dive into Greek culture through its food, language, politics, family life, and yes, monuments.  We even get to travel into parts of collegiate life with Ren when we attend classes with him.  No, A Taste of Agapi is a treasure trove and love letter to Greece and the Greek people with it’s honesty about its issues (the elements of racism, homophobia, intolerance) that high unemployment and an economic slump has seen increased as well.  We still want to travel there, share in the love and joy of those we will meet eating and celebrating in their neighborhood bars and seaside establishments, hoping for the same welcome that Ren was lucky enough to find with Jimmy and his friends.

Ethan’s characterizations are marvelous.

Warm, layered portraits of people that you not only want to meet but might recognize anywhere.  Funny, flawed, fierce, and loving, these are young men and women at that most bright and precarious stage of their lives.  Coming into adulthood, finding themselves, figuring out futures, and just being young.  Chris Ethan captures it all and does it while making them genuine Greek youth navigating the peculiars of Greek society.  In this case, it’s the very real fear of what coming out will do to you and those around you in a culture that sees it as something not only to be reviled but criminal, the laws only now changing.  No, this is not liberal Europe or the US.

The relationship between Ren from England (and a more liberal culture) and Jimmy (definitely not out in a hostile one) still manages to be sweet, questioning, and romantic.  It also feels entirely real.  It’s very easy to connect with these two as they try to figure out what they feel about each other, what they are doing with each other (virgins), and  all the conflicting issues they face, each other’s cultures not withstanding.  Huge questions that face these young men in such a short time together.

Therein lies my one issue with this story.

It’s really only half of a book.  It ends exactly where the other half of the book should start.  That keeps this story from being a 5 star read for me.  It almost took it down to a 4 (that and a element with 2 brothers and a uncle that petered out to nothing, not that I’m complaining).

No, it’s that we need the rest of this story.  I can only hope that the author is hard at work writing it.  This couple and the readers deserve to know how it all plays out.  Until then, travel to Thessaloniki, Greece in A Taste Of Agapi by Chris Ethan for a sweet coming out romance you will thoroughly love.

Cover art:  Tiferet Designs.  Gorgeous cover with the White Tower of Thessaloniki in the background, one of the many monuments that Jimmy took Ren to.  Love it.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 190 pages
Published September 26th 2018 by Chris Ethan Gay Romance
ASINB07GTK9MP2
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Love and Lint Rollers by Kaje Harper

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Even with six beloved cats at home, Thom Fletcher can’t help opening his heart to a little injured stray he finds at Pride. Luckily, the generosity of the veterinarian who helps him means he doesn’t have to open his wallet. Thom’s budget is stretched pretty thin, between his struggling start-up and medical expenses for his Crohn’s disease, so the free cat care helps a lot. Thom may have fallen for the little feline, but he’s also intrigued by the attractive vet in the bi-pride bracelet.

Dean Edwards went to Pride with his colors on his wrist, hoping to find community after his divorce. Instead, he’s pulled into a cat rescue by an appealing man. Dean likes Thom’s kindness to strays, his blue-gray eyes, his intelligence, and his perspective from decades as an out gay man. Maybe with Thom, Dean will finally feel able to explore his long-neglected attraction to men.

They’re not a perfect match. From Dean’s cat-hating dog to Thom’s chronic health issues and preferences in bed, going from a casual date to something more will be a challenge for both of them.

I don’t know when I last read a story with so many elements that stood out as remarkable and yet still folded nicely into a heartwarming romance in the end as the ones in Love and Lint Rollers by Kaje Harper.   First the characters are older which I really appreciated, one in his early fifties, with all that means emotionally, mentally, and baggage wise.  Thom Fletcher has the added complications of Crohn’s Disease, something that has drastically affected his health and his love life (no anal sex to be explicit). Harper addresses life with Crohn’s through Thom and we see all stages of the disease and its effects on his life and relationships.  For some readers it might not be enough information. For others too much.  We definitely learn a lot about life lived with this illness and its tight restrictions.  And how not to give up as well.

The character of Thom is someone I just loved and understood, even if I wanted to given him a shake or two.  If you have ever known anyone who has or had had serious illnesses, then you know how their focus can or sometimes must narrow down to dealing with their own health issues, especially if they have been doing so over a length of time.  And doing it on their own.  Letting someone else in is hard and Harper shows that realistically.  Especially with a diseases such as Crohn’s.  Portraying Thom’s shame, fear, and belief that no one will ever stay with him because it’s too hard will ring true with all readers who will emphasize with this man.

Dean Edwards too is dealing with past issues, coming out at his age, overcoming the emotional restrictions his deceased parents placed on him that still effect him.  I really liked Dean and believed in his internal battles and choices he was making.  As well as his love of his animals and Thom. Oh, and Dean is a vet with years of medical experience behind him which helps when one has many animals and other issues.

Ah, the animals!  Cats Gin, Snap, Buster, Louie, Onyx, Salem, and Cinder.  Plus elderly but still fierce dog Tig.  All with their huge roles to play in Thom’s life, this couple’s relationship, and in the story. And of course, the reader’s heart’s they wind and twine their way into.

There is a lesbian couple with a bestie half with tendencies to want to control Thom’s life.  That was a character i found irritating, probably realistic as there are always people like that in RL who believe that they know better than another person what path that person’s life should take. That they do it out of love doesn’t make it any less controlling. That you as a reader want Thom to have this person back off?  Well, it means that Harper has done her job and written this bestie so believably we have become put off by their behavior.  Well done.

For me, I might have wished for a little less of the Crohn’s, and  a little more of Thom and Dean together at the end with the menagerie for Love and Lint Rollers by Kaje Harper to fulfill all the promise I had hoped for. But honestly?  It came so close I’m not complaining.  I loved it.  And think you will to.  Especially if you love cats as well.  I highly recommend this!

Cover Art is adorable.  At first I thought the models were too young.  Still wavering on that.  But Thom is remarked to look more like in his 40’s than the early 50’s he is and I loved the cats.  More cats.  Where is Louie?

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: October 9th 2018 by Kaje Harper
ISBN139780463646465
Edition Language English

BLOG TOUR Craft Brew (Trouble Brewing #2) by Layla Reyne (with teaser and giveaway)

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Craft Brew (Trouble Brewing #2) by  Layla Reyne

Release Date: E-Book and Audio – October 8;   Paperback – October 30

Publisher: Carina Press

Buy Links: 

Carina: http://bit.ly/2luKFZr

AMZ: https://amzn.to/2NVKiUB

UBL: https://books2read.com/craftbrew/

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Layla Reyne here today on tour for the latest story in the Trouble Brewing series, Craft Brew!

About Craft Brew

Assistant US attorney Dominic Price is staring down the barrel of his father’s debts. The bull’s-eye on his back makes him a threat to everyone he cares about, so when his lover wants to go public with their relationship, he bolts. Not because he isn’t in love—he can’t stomach the thought of putting Cam in danger.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne is determined to figure out what trouble Nic is running from, but devastating news from home brings him back to Boston and to the cold case that has haunted his family for two decades. Shoving aside his pride, he calls Nic for help.

Together they search for answers, navigating the minefield of Cam’s past. But when they get too close to the truth, Cam must use every skill in his arsenal to save the man he loves…before it’s too late.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Excerpt/Teaser

“Move in with me.”

Four words that should have resulted in amazing sex round two.

Not that Cam had ever uttered those words before, but from what he understood, they usually brought a couple closer, including a celebratory tumble in the sheets. Perfect as he and Nic were already there, naked and sweaty from amazing sex round one.

Nic’s understanding, however, was apparently not the same as Cam’s. He stiffened in his arms one second and scrambled out of bed the next. Levering up, Cam braced a hand on the mattress and watched the giant cypress inked on Nic’s back sway with his mad dash to the bathroom.

“Never known you to run from an argument, Counselor!” Technically, they’d not been arguing, but Cam knew the start of one with Nic as well as he knew the other man’s taste. Arguing was what they did best, even better than sex.

“That’s not what I’m doing,” Nic hollered over the running water.

Cam flopped back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. “Sure as fuck could have fooled me.”

Trouble Brewing Series

Imperial Stout

Craft Brew

Noble Hops  coming soon

 

 

About Layla Reyne:

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She was a 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

Author Links:

FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/216903272072959/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/layla-reyne

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/laylareyne

Newsletter: https://www.laylareyne.com/signup

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/laylareyne/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laylareyne/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/laylareyne/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/laylareyne/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/laylareyne

Giveaway

Giveaway: Win 1 of 2 e-copies
of any back catalog book by Layla Reyne!

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Spotlight Blog Tour and Giveaway for Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

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Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Hello, everybody! I’m Alex Whitehall, and I’m here today touring for my contemporary m/m romance, Hard Truths, which is about Isaac and Logan’s whirlwind romance, as well as coming out and what family means. But it’s not all angst and drama. In fact, I hope you’ll have as much fun watching these guys fool around as I had making them be goofs.

 

About Hard Truths

He can’t have the family he wants, but he may get the love he deserves.

Isaac didn’t expect to find love at his family’s Christmas dinner, but that was before he met his sister’s new fake boyfriend. Tall, muscular, and tattooed, Logan is what Isaac would love in a partner—and also everything his parents would hate in one. Not that they know Isaac’s gay.

That doesn’t stop him from dating Logan—unbeknownst to his parents, and with his sister’s approval after she fake dumps him. The pair dive into a whirlwind romance of motorcycle rides, cheesy puns, and hot sex. They meet each other’s friends and fill their time with happiness and laughter. It’s all perfect.

Until Isaac suggests they move in together, and Logan asks Isaac to come out to his parents. Isaac wants to, but he’s scared; he doesn’t want to lose his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see that his real family has been right beside him all along.

Available from Riptide Publishing.

 

About Alex Whitehall

If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious evenings laughing with friends.

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerge from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, reading, and tending after their aloe plants.

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

Commenting below will give you a chance to win this mug:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/573454042/oh-for-fox-sake-coffee-mug-custom-fox

This mug appears in Hard Truths as one of the first presents that Isaac buys Logan. It’s similar to a mug I have myself (that my friend bought me and that might have inspired the gift)! The order will be shipped directly from the buyer, so you have to be willing to share your physical address with the buyer and myself. You can choose either size and any of the fox images.

Due to prohibitive shipping costs, this prize is only open to within the US. For international readers, indicate as such and you’ll have a chance to win a digital copy of your choice from my backlist.

Contest closes October 6. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave a means of contact!

 

A MelanieM Review: Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Charlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen is one of those books to hug close to your heart.  Once finished I wanted to pick it up and start it all over again, lose myself in the richness of the relationships the author has created within.  It’s so easy to fall in love here.  To embrace the people and their lives.

Charlie and his daughter, Liv?  You can feel the truth of their lives, the pain of having lived through watching a beloved mother and wife dying of cancer and then her death, the void her loss has meant and the guilt for Charlie.  And the warmth Charlie exudes, the “realness” of that father/daughter relationship just jumps off the page at you until you almost are a part of their lives as well.

Simon is just a connectable.  Viable, human, hurting.  His chemistry with Charlie and his, unbelievably Charlie’s house (a character in its own right) is so vivid that I kept re-reading passages for the shear joy of them.  I loved these two men together.  Their conversations, the funny dialog.  Especially, Charlie’s conversations and Simon’s reactions to them.  Priceless!

But, of course, it’s so much more than that.  It’s Phil, it’s the dog, Liv, Justin, that house…it’s the whole of this story.  It’s every element that combines to bring a town, a family, and this couple together so memorably alive that your heart feels warm and happy and so not ready to see everyone go.  I wanted to stay, seated in their midst, ready for another story from Charlie, another chapter in their lives, their next step forward.  Their next anything….

Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen is beautifully written with wonderful characters and a heartwarming story you will truly love.  Yes, I absolutely recommend it.

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  I love this artist’s work but that isn’t the house as I pictured it with greystone and slate roof which is a big fail seeing that it’s a huge part of the story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 337 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626498389
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series This Time Forever #1

A Lucy Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Isaac really drew the short straw in the family lottery.  He has a wonderful sister, Sue, and bigoted, selfish and homophobic parents.  They constantly barrage Isaac and Sue with demands to get a partner, marry and produce grandchildren.  Since they don’t appreciate or really seem to love their own children, the odds of them being any better with grandchildren is low. Isaac always tries to see the best of them.  “They lived in a closed-off little world, but they weren’t bad people.  Or rather, I liked to think they weren’t.”  Isaac is very firmly in the closet with his parents, not wanting to lose  his family. Luckily Isaac has an amazing group of friends who support and love him.

To combat this parental nightmare one Christmas, Sue brings a fake boyfriend, Logan.  Logan is tattooed, pierced and definitely puts on a bad-boy wastrel attitude.  Of course, Isaac is seriously attracted but doesn’t realize the boyfriend is fake.  So when Logan hits on him in the hallway, he is aroused and appalled.  Being a good brother, he hides in the bathroom to text Sue a warning, which Sue pushes off.  In a phone call, Sue tells Isaac about the fake, and gives her go-ahead for Issac to date Logan.  Since Isaac didn’t realize Sue even knew he was gay, he is shocked.  “So, Isaac, I love you and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay.  If you are, I want you to know that I’m a safe space.”  Sue is a great sister.

So Isaac does call Logan and off on a date they go.  Isaac is less the buttoned down prep he presents for his parents and more his hoodie and jeans wearing, tattooed and pierced real self.  Logan is also his real self, a graphic designer who owns his own company.  Since Logan was at Christmas he knows Isaac isn’t out and asks, “So no plans to tell them?”  Isaac replies that he won’t tell them until there is a significant other important enough to come out for.

As Logan and Isaac begin dating, they get to know each other, they take things pretty slow and talk.  I liked that about them.  Isaac meets Logan’s chosen family of friends (and this concept is a big one through the story).  Isaac doesn’t warm up to Logan’s friends, he always feels like an outsider and as if they don’t like him.  He takes this as proof that friends aren’t your family, because they could leave at any time.  He believes you only get one shot at family, even if they are horrible, and they are connected to you in a way no one else can be, “They’ve been with you from the beginning, for better or worse.”  Get a clue, Isaac!  When his amazing friends try to remind him they love him and they are his family, he upsets them.  “You have us.” “Yeah, but you’re not family.”  He hurts his friends so much with that, and he continues to do so, not understanding their point at all.  He won’t even accept the term “chosen family”, instead repeatedly saying they are friends.  “I wanted my family, blemishes and all.”  I wanted to smack him for being so obtuse.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand his view on this.  It irked me because the things he was throwing out there weren’t true even for him.  “Family wouldn’t break apart over something as small as this.  Because family loves you no matter what, because you’re bound by blood.”  Except that wasn’t true.  “Well, no matter what, unless you’re gay and your parents are homophobes.”

Logan really is patient with Isaac but he also knows his own self worth.  He is badly hurt when Isaac repeatedly won’t even mention Logan to his parents, pretending he is seeing no one and going to see them alone.  When Isaac suggests they move in together, Logan is so happy.  Except Isaac still doesn’t want to tell his parents.  So Logan would be the “roommate” or the “good friend”, or some other lie to explain away why they were living together.  But it’s been six months.  What happened to ‘I’ll tell them when it’s serious’?”  I couldn’t blame him for thinking Isaac wasn’t as invested as he was. Even Isaac knows.  “It’s not like that.”  But it was like that.  Exactly like that.”  And yet he still puts his nasty parents ahead of the man he claims to love, as well as his friends.

His parents, particularly his father, are so loathsome.  Racist, bigots, homophobes all, but also just rude and nasty.  I hated them even more knowing that way too many real life parents are just like this.  Made me angry and so sad.  Isaac has a lot of growing to do and I didn’t understand his willingness to put up with everything they spewed at him but I also could see the steps he was slowly trying to take.  And there is a point where he and Logan are fighting, and it is Logan who uses the, “Isaac, it’s not like that”, and this time I could see Isaac’s point.  He is made to feel he over-reacted but I could see how it would hurt.

I liked this story even as Isaac made me want to scream at times.  There are solid positive secondary characters in Sue and Isaac’s friends, Jackson, Emmett, Roe, Jenna, Marc and Laura.  I’d love to say Isaac’s parents were over the top but unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there are too many families that are just like this.  I would love to know what happens to Logan and Isaac in in the future and I was so happy when Isaac finally, finally got the true meaning of family. 

Cover Art: L.C. Chase.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 248 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleHard Truths
ISBN139781626498464
Edition LanguageEnglish