An Alisa Release Day Review: In the Desert (States of Love) by Elliot Joyce

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

Can a Navajo trans teen and a nerdy Catholic find the place they belong… and maybe themselves? In the desert, anything is possible….

 

When Wren came out as transgender before his senior year, it cost him most of his friends. His father hopes joining a Boy Scout troop might help Wren meet other young men his age and be accepted for who he is.

 

Felipe Nieves wants the new guy in the troop to feel comfortable, and he reaches out to Wren. They become fast friends… with something more beneath the surface. Those feelings confuse Felipe, since his religion considers this a sin—and he’s always assumed he was straight—but he can’t help pining for Wren. Asking him out will take courage, and getting together won’t be easy… but through their friendship, both young men might find their identities… and learn to embrace them in a unique coming-of-age story set against the beauty of the American Southwest.

 

Ohh, both of these boys are adorable. Wren is still dealing with coming out and all the backlash he received but finds friends and acceptance joining his brother’s Boy Scout troop. Felipe doesn’t have many friends other than Kyle and Travis but sees something in Wren that draws him.

 

I love trans stories because they seem to get so much more in depth than many. This was different getting to see an accepting and loving family along with the new friends Wren has made, many are when the characters are older and usually haven’t have good experiences. I was able to connect easily with these characters, they didn’t try to hide their emotions but needed some help to accept their feelings. The encouraging friends and family helped both of them the most. This was such a feel good story and shows how much love and acceptance can help anyone.

 

The cover art by Brooke Albrecht is nice and perfectly understated.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 106 pages

Published: May 4, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-448-7

Edition Language: English

Series: A States of Love Story

 

Elliot Joyce on Growing Up, Coming Out ‘In The Desert’ (author guest blog and new book release)

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In the Desert (States of Love) by Elliot Joyce
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Elliot Joyce here today talking about his latest novel In the Desert, a States of Love novel from Dreamspinner Press. Welcome, Elliot.

♦︎

 

Hello, I’m Elliot Joyce, the proud author of the upcoming novella In The Desert. The book is about two queer young men who live in Arizona and how they face down their personal fears, whether it be about identity or societal expectations, in order to pursue something — or rather someone — that makes them happy.

Without giving too much away, Wren and Felipe come from opposite situations. While Wren is the oldest of his siblings and has a certain level of pressure to “perform” as the responsible one, Felipe is the darling of the family — and the youngest. Wren also has a very healthy and traditional family, while Felipe was raised by his grandmother ever since his parents lost custody.

That isn’t to say that his family life isn’t healthy. The amount of support Felipe has as he pursues his studies, hoping to go to college unlike his parents, is shown throughout the story. He is loved by his family and loves them back — which is why he’s so concerned as he starts to realize his romantic feelings for Wren.

Wren also comes from a much more liberal, secular family while Felipe is rather Catholic — seriously enough to cross himself when he passes under the cross hanging above his grandmother’s kitchen doorway for example. Religion doesn’t play a huge part directly in the book, but it provides a backdrop and more information as to who these people are.

Felipe also gets along better with his siblings — at least he does now — than Wren, who argues and fights with his two younger sisters and his younger brother. Wren is bitter that his siblings don’t understand him and doesn’t feel like they support him while Felipe relies on his older siblings to have his back. The two have different family lives and different pasts, which makes them meeting even more of an unusual event.

However, both Wren and Felipe are loved and supported in many ways, not only by their family but by their friends, and that’s really the crux of the story. In The Desert takes place in Arizona and it would have been easy to talk about homophobia or transphobia, both of which are unfortunately rampant in the state. But even though Arizona does have its faults — I lived there for over a decade so I feel pretty confident in my ability to assess its qualities — there are good people there.

I wanted In The Desert to look at those people but I also knew I wanted to look at what it is like to not know how you feel. Felipe’s never had romantic feelings towards another young man and his only interaction with queer people is with another Boy Scout, a transgender guy who barely talks to Felipe outside of meetings.

Realizing that you’re gay or bi or trans or whatever can be terrifying, especially when you aren’t sure how your family will react, and I wanted Felipe to capture that. Hopefully audiences can empathize with him regardless of their own personal experiences.

On the flip side — and continuing the contrasts between Felipe and Wren — there’s Wren who has already come out to pretty horrible consequences. We see the aftermath of him coming out as transgender, with him switching schools and practically friendless. He struggles, at points, with mental health which is unfortunately a very realistic and very normal thing for transgender folks.

He also feels like his parents — and by extension his younger siblings — are not as supportive as they could be. Wren in many ways captures that feeling of loss and lack of support, but the reality is that he does have support from his family even if it’s at their own pace. Coming to terms with that is important to Wren’s development outside his relationship with Felipe, where Wren fears that Felipe sees him as a girl.

Like I said above, I won’t spoil anything and there’s plenty in the story itself to be dissected and enjoyed. Thanks for reading this post and check out In The Desert, coming to an e-book shelf near you.

About In The Desert

Can a Navajo trans teen and a nerdy Catholic find the place they belong… and maybe themselves? In the desert, anything is possible….

When Wren came out as transgender before his senior year, it cost him most of his friends. His father hopes joining a Boy Scout troop might help Wren meet other young men his age and be accepted for who he is.

Felipe Nieves wants the new guy in the troop to feel comfortable, and he reaches out to Wren. They become fast friends… with something more beneath the surface. Those feelings confuse Felipe, since his religion considers this a sin—and he’s always assumed he was straight—but he can’t help pining for Wren. Asking him out will take courage, and getting together won’t be easy… but through their friendship, both young men might find their identities… and learn to embrace them in a unique coming-of-age story set against the beauty of the American Southwest.   

Buy: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/in-the-desert-by-elliot-joyce-9571-b

About the Author

Elliot Joyce is a social-media obsessed, selfie-taking millennial and he’s proud of it. He can usually be found in his room playing D&D or in a theater lurking on the catwalks. Sometimes he even writes.

Other notable facts include the fact that he’s bisexual, he cannot juggle, and he regularly trips over thin air. Catch him on tumblr or really any social media, he spends enough time on it.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/eleldelmots

Tumblr: http://theonewiththewords.tumblr.com/

New Release Blitz for On a Summer Night by Gabriel D. Vidrine (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  On a Summer Night

Author: Gabriel D. Vidrine

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 2, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56200

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, YA, trans, bisexual, asexual, coming-of-age, coming out, family drama, HFN, #ownvoices

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Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Casey is determined to have fun this summer going to camp with his best friend, Ella. His overprotective mother frets that attending this one instead of trans camp like he’s always done will cause problems, but Casey has his heart set on going stealth anyway.

His mom just might be right.

All Ella wants is love for her best friend, and she’s determined to set him up with someone, despite Casey’s protests that he just wants to have fun, not get involved in a summer romance. But things get complicated when camp bully Ryan focuses his energies on the two friends. At least Casey’s cute bunkmate, Gavin, appears interested in getting to know him better, making Casey rethink the whole romance thing.

Until he finds out Gavin and Ryan are good friends.

Summer camp turns into so much more when Casey has to decide if Gavin is worth pursuing, friend of a bully or not.

There’s just one more problem: Ryan knows Casey is transgender.

Excerpt

On a Summer Night
Gabriel D. Vidrine © 2018
All Rights Reserved

“Do you have your socks?” my mother called up the stairs.

“Yes, mother!” I shouted back down at her. Of course I had socks. But I double-checked the large footlocker anyway, scrabbling through it until I found them. They were buried under my binders, but there they were.

“Don’t forget towels!” came another shout up the stairs.

She knew me well. I always forgot something. I went back to my bathroom and rummaged around in the linen closet until I found enough towels for the trip.

When I got back to my room, Mom was staring down into my trunk, her hands on her hips. “Anything else?” she asked, eyeing how much was in it.

“I hope not.”

I tossed the towels in the trunk, only to be crushed into a hug from her. “I’m going to miss you Casey,” she said into my hair.

I patted her awkwardly. She meant well, but ever since I announced my desire to transition two years ago when I turned twelve, she’d gotten super overprotective and clingy. “I’ll miss you too, Mom.” I did mean it, but it was going to be a relief to be away from her for almost two weeks. Even though I’d never been away from my parents that long before, not even at trans camp.

She squeezed me harder until I gasped and then let me go. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“For the millionth time, yes,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“Okay. I’ll get your dad to get this down the stairs,” she said, and then she was gone in a whirl of brown hair and scarves.

I shook my head at her back and pulled out my phone to text my best friend, Ella.

Me: Almost ready. U?

I knew she wouldn’t answer right away (she actually hated her phone, the weirdo), so I nervously went through my list again to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I needed a distraction.

While I was rummaging, my dad, a big guy who had prematurely gone bald so he always wore an ugly hat, had lumbered up the stairs and was frowning down at my trunk. “Are you sure you need all that?” His voice was very deep.

“Yeah, Dad.” My phone buzzed in my pocket, but I ignored it. “It’s almost two weeks.”

“Twelve days,” he said.

“Yeah, I know.” I scratched at my head, slightly embarrassed to talk about my transition stuff with my dad. “I, you know, need some extra stuff.” I thought of the binders lying next to my socks.

He glanced at me and nodded, and then looked quickly away. He hadn’t been as supportive of my transition as my mom. When I first told him, he blurted, “But you’re a girl.”

We stood there in awkward silence for a moment as I wondered what I should say to him, father to son. But he hadn’t yet called me his son.

He cleared his throat, still not looking at me, and then crouched and heaved up the trunk onto a roller cart he’d carried up the stairs. It was going to be a pain getting it down on the cart, but at least he wouldn’t kill his back picking it up this way.

I helped him maneuver it down the stairs, wishing not for the first time I could start hormones. I wanted to be as strong as my dad, but I wasn’t old enough yet. Well, I was, but my parents wouldn’t approve it until I was sixteen. I figured Dad was the one holding out, because Mom would give me whatever I wanted.

Two more years.

When we finally got the trunk down the stairs, I pulled my phone out. Ella had texted back.

Ella: Yeah, loading the car. Are you ready?

Me: Yes! Just gotta say bye.

Ella: We’ll be there soon.

“Ella and her parents are going to be here soon,” I told my parents.

Mom had argued long and hard about how I was getting to camp. She wanted to take me, but I wanted to go with Ella and her parents. My friend and her brother had been going to this camp for years, and her parents knew exactly how to get there. Mom pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. “Okay. Are you sure you have it all?”

Annoyance flared up. “Yes!” I said.

“Don’t take that tone with your mother,” Dad warned.

I closed my mouth and let the anger subside. It wouldn’t do to get into an argument with them now. They’d probably not let me go, whether or not they had already paid for my spot. And summer camp wasn’t cheap; I’d seen prices on the website.

“Sorry,” I mumbled, and Mom pulled me into another hug.

“Be safe, okay?” she said. “I wish you wanted to go to the trans camp instead.”

“Mom, please!”

“Okay, okay, I know. You want to go to regular camp like any regular boy.”

“I went to trans camp last year,” I said.

“I know, and you loved it. That’s why I wish you’d go again.”

“Stop worrying so much, Mom,” I told her. “The kids won’t hurt me.”

She didn’t look convinced when she finally let me go. It was true; trans camp had been fantastic. But everyone there knew I was trans. I wanted to go someplace where I didn’t always feel trans. I knew it was impossible, but I wanted a shot at it. All the other kids at trans camp had loved it, because they’d said they could shed their trans identity there. Since everyone was trans, we got to talk about other things. It made it less special, which was, in reality, a relief.

And that was the problem for me. I just wanted to be like any other boy. And all the other boys went to summer camp like the one I was going to, not to trans camp. I wanted to be a boy with the other boys.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Gabriel D. Vidrine is a trans masculine scientist, dancer, and writer but is working towards reversing that order. They teach and perform belly dance all over the country, but still manage to cram in writing time whenever and wherever possible.

They are an avid reader and writer, and love science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance, but will give any genre a try.

Gabriel lives with their husband, video game systems, and ridiculous cat, Selina, in Chicago, IL.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Release Blitz – Closets Are For Clothes (Dream On #1) by Addison Albright (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 43,199 words
 
Publisher: JMS Books
 
Blurb
 

Mike’s life is carefully compartmentalized. He’s deep in the closet to his family back in Kansas, but lives life honestly and openly in Austin. He’s unnerved when Wes, his old university crush, turns up at his door in answer to a roommate advertisement, but quickly sees the potential…benefits of the arrangement. Wes has never doubted nor denied his sexuality. With the support of his family he’s an out and proud LGBT activist.


On the scale balancing his self-esteem on one side, and the love of his family on the other, Mike has to decide which weighs more. Is Mike being fair to his parents by not giving them the chance to know his real self? When the delicate balance of his life is disrupted, he decides he’s tired of living a lie. Will Wes understand his concerns, or will their fledgling relationship crumble under the strain of Mike’s uncertainty?

Excerpt
 

I walked down the narrow aisle with a book jammed under my arm and holding my carry-on bag in front of me as I focused on the labels for the rows. Due to the effect my nerves were having on my stomach, I was beginning to regret the meal I’d eaten during the two-hour layover in Houston.


I found my aisle seat, but it was occupied. Nobody sat in the window seat. This leg of my trip used a smaller plane—Wichita was hardly a bustling hub—and there were only two seats on either side of the aisle.


My shoulders stiffened, waiting for the request. My guess was he had a traveling companion, but they’d booked their flight too late to get two seats together. I’d be willing to trade, but I hoped it would at least be to another aisle seat. I wasn’t claustrophobic at all, but I preferred the freedom an aisle seat provided.


I stopped in front of my row and looked at the man, my eyebrows raised questioningly. He stood and stepped into the aisle. I opened my mouth, but wasn’t entirely sure what to say. He hadn’t moved on. He stood as if waiting to sit back down after letting me in. “I’m sorry.” I held up my boarding pass. “Apparently, there’s some confusion. This is my seat, here.”


“You don’t mind, do you?”


My whole body tensed at his tone. As if he simply assumed I’d switch seats for no obvious reason beyond he preferred mine. Which frankly—dammit—was likely to happen because I was non-confrontational and this wasn’t worth the fight. But it pissed me off that he wasn’t asking, acting like it was a done deal, and he didn’t even try to offer justification. He also had the kind of smile you see on people trying to sell you a load of crap, be it a used car or a dubious political position.


“Is there a problem?” The inquiry came from behind—a male voice with a polite but firm tone.


“No problem,” the man in front of me said. The slick politician smile that had come so naturally to him now seemed strained, or rather, a mild sneer supplemented it. “We were just switching seats.”


“Sir, do you want to switch seats with this gentleman?” the flight attendant asked.


“Gentleman” was a generous term for the jerk, but points for diplomacy. I was sure the answer was obvious. I’d booked an aisle seat because that’s what I preferred. But I imagined that wasn’t the real question. I wasn’t sure if the flight attendant would rather, like me, avoid a confrontation, or if he’d like to see the pushy bastard put in his place. I knew which I’d rather see if I were a random spectator, but I wasn’t.


“I’m willing to switch.” But I refused to say I “wanted” to. It was a cop-out, but it would be miserable enough sitting next to the guy for the next couple hours without adding the possibility of his simmering hostility to the mix.


I hefted my carry-on bag into the overhead bin and sidled across to the window seat. I sat with my book in my lap and stared out the window at the tarmac, hoping it was clear I wasn’t interested in making small-talk and wished to be left alone.


The man parked himself back in the seat that should have been mine, and the flight attendant made his way toward the back of the plane.


“Jesus H. Christ. We had it under control,” the man muttered.


Apparently, being left in peace was too much to wish for. As my dad liked to say, you could wish in one hand and—


“Don’t know why that faggot felt he needed to stick his nose in our business.”


My grip on the book tightened and I spun without thinking toward the man. “Excuse me?” My tone oozed with aversion. I didn’t try to hide my feelings, so I’m sure the incredulous disgust I felt at his use of that word showed on my face as well.


Was it Wes’s influence or was I more likely to stick up for someone else than for myself? I wasn’t sure which, but I found I couldn’t let that go without expressing my repugnance at his shameless and vocal bigotry. I didn’t even know if he was simply using the word as a general derogatory insult or if he’d assumed the flight attendant was gay because of his career choice.


His lip curled as a soft snort puffed from between his thin lips. “I said, I don’t know why that fellow felt he needed to stick his nose in our business.”


That wasn’t what he’d said. I hadn’t imagined it. But I wasn’t going to pursue it. If nothing else, at least he knew his prejudice wasn’t always going to be accepted when aired in public. The more people realized it was bigotry that needed to be hidden in a closet, not the targets of it, the better the world would be. Yeah, Wes’s activism was influencing me.


I turned back to the window, closed my eyes, and counted to ten before reopening them. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with on the flight home to come out to my parents. My gut was churning enough without this added stress.


I’d been rather proud of how I’d managed to push aside my uncertainties the past two weeks and return to being my regular normal self. Right up until it had been time to head to the airport, anyway. I’d studied Wes’s pamphlets, and Greg had taken a set of them home, too, so he could be prepared on my behalf. That alone had taken a huge share of the weight off my shoulders.


Even so, now that the big moment was looming, it took a concerted effort to not be that jittery guy on the plane that everyone kept an eye on, waiting for them to crack and brandish a nail file that had slipped by security. Sure, there was a good chance everything would be fine. But there was still a possibility that my relationship with my parents would never be the same, and there was a huge sliding scale of degree for that potential unpleasantness.


Would my dad react similarly to the man sitting next to me? Under pressure, faced with his son admitting to being gay after he’d spent years talking about how wrong he felt that was, would he crack? He’d never used that word—“faggot.” He’d never used any kind of derogatory word.


Thinking back, I knew Greg was probably right about Dad’s apparent angle during his campaign to convince me it would be wrong to be gay. It all boiled down to the motivations behind his efforts. Was it as simple as he’d convinced himself I was making a choice, and wanted the best possible life for me, or did he think there was something intrinsically wrong—sordid, contemptible—with being gay?


Would I lose his respect? His love? Would holidays forevermore be tense? Helen was on my side, thank goodness, but what if Dad were to become convinced that I couldn’t be trusted around her two young children? I shifted in my seat, trying to get comfortable, but it couldn’t keep my mind from picturing him mining for all his arguments from only websites that were biased against LGBTQI+ people and not seeking the truth from a fair balance of sources. If that was the case, then there’d be a good chance he’d bought into a lot of the bullshit they were peddling. The fact he’d held off saying the more disparaging claims didn’t mean he hadn’t read them and thought there might be something to them.


The plane taxied down the runway and took off, and I turned my gaze to my book. I’d brought Andy Weir’s The Martian because I’d read it before and loved it, and I’d figured I might be distracted, so it’d be best not to try to follow a new story.


I opened the book, read the first three lines with the character thinking he was “pretty much fucked,” and closed it again. I didn’t believe in omens, but that summed up how I felt. It was just a question of degree.

About Addison
 

Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance in contemporary settings. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.


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New Release Blitz for Sweethearts by Gemma Gilmore (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Sweethearts

Author: Gemma Gilmore

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 29, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 62600

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, YA, high school, friends to lovers, alcohol use, visual arts, coming out, teen pregnancy, coming of age, slow burn

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Synopsis

When seventeen-year-old Ingrid Harper realizes she may not have the talent to pursue a scholarship for the most prestigious art school in Australia, she turns to pink hair dye as a distraction.

Her new hair captures the attention of a fellow art student, Kat, who introduces Ingrid to the LGBT clubbing scene, and although Ingrid enjoys partying with her new friend, she becomes caught up in confusion about her sexuality. Her fear is overwhelming—she can’t think about anything else.

Until her best friend, Summer, reveals that she is pregnant.

As her best friend faces the realities of being pregnant at seventeen, Ingrid is shown the true definition of courage. It motivates her to come out about her sexuality—she likes girls. Only girls. Now she just has to work out what that means for the other areas of her life.

Excerpt

Sweethearts
Gemma Gilmore © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
I am desperately trying not to attract attention.

My arms are folded across my chest. My chin is tucked into my neck. I am leaning against the brick wall as I watch her sing. It takes every ounce of strength I have to keep my face still, hiding any expression that bubbles to the surface. Any reaction I have to her lilting voice is shoved down, adding to the pit in my stomach.

The younger students are sitting respectfully in their seats. They are still too naive to question the teachers when they are told they must be present. I know better than to think that this school performance is anything special to Amber Freeman. She’s been singing since before she could walk, and although I am always the first viewer, her YouTube videos are gaining more and more popularity with every upload. This is just practice to her. A warm-up.

The spotlights are trained on her, and she throws her hands up whilst the climax of the song cascades from her talented lips. I let my eyes flicker shut and Amber’s voice surrounds me, caressing my ears as she sings deeply. Her voice is crashing through me, tingling across the skin on my arms and seeping through my body, calming me.

My head has fallen back against the wall, and I remain frozen there as I listen to her sing. In this moment, nothing else matters. With my eyes closed, she’s right next to me. Singing softly, untying the knot that’s sunken deep into that pit in the bottom of my stomach.

“Ingrid? What the hell are you doing?” The voice that hisses right next to my ear jerks me out of my daydream.

I jump with shock and wrench my eyes open, tearing myself away from the peaceful moment. In front of me, my best friend Summer stands, her arms folded across her chest and her eyes wide in that you are busted expression.

“Jesus,” I mutter. “I thought you had better things to do than sneak up on people. Way to give me a heart attack.”

“I thought you had better things to do than stand here creepily at the back of the gym listening to Amber sing,” Summer challenges me, an amused smile dancing across her full lips.

“You snuck up on me and you’re calling me the creep?” I snort. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

The quicker I can get Summer outside of this gym, the quicker I can shove away the fact that she caught me watching Amber’s performance. We duck behind the last row of seating and out of the door in the corner of the room, swiftly ignoring the Emergency Exit Only sign. We’ve done this so many times now that it’s like second nature.

Outside, the rain lashes against the building. The wind howls so loudly that I’m surprised no one noticed our little escape from the gymnasium—then again, they never do. For Summer, there’s more to life than just sitting in a desk at school. Any chance my best friend has to escape the mundane restrictions of life is an opportunity she must take. She’s never been the kind of girl to follow the traditional paths.

Then again, neither have I.

My thoughts still spin as we duck through the car park and head out to the tin shed at the back of the school. Summer knew exactly where to find me during Amber’s performance. She knows that I watch Amber. While everyone else in our grade snuck off to make out in abandoned classrooms or smoke cigarettes behind the main building, I followed the crowd into the gymnasium with one intention.

Why did I need to watch her?

“I had a headache and the gym was dark.” I shrug off Summer’s curious stare as we take shelter under the tin roof. The rain really lashes down now, bouncing off the pavement and whipping through the trees. “It was better than watching you make out with Jackson for an hour straight.”

My snide comment is low but, right now, I’ll do anything to take the attention away from me.

“You had a headache, so you decided to listen to Amber sing?” Summer rolls her eyes at me. “Makes sense.”

She fidgets with her oversized tartan scarf, staring out into the rain. Maybe I’m not the only one who is trying to avoid things today.

“You were in there too,” I argue half-heartedly. “What’s your obsession with her?”

This time, Summer does turn to me. “I’m obsessed?” She snorts. “Ingrid, honey, if I’m obsessed, then you’re deranged.”

“Then I’m deranged.”

Summer rolls her eyes, signalling the end of that particular conversation. “Whatever. Your deeply disturbing issues are the least of my problems right now. Look, Ingrid, I think I’m going to have to take a test.”

Red splotches gleam against Summer’s pale cheeks, and I watch her carefully. She tugs on that scarf like it’s strangling her.

“Like an STD test?”

“Are you stupid?” I know her voice is harsher than intended, and I brush it off with a blunt laugh. “A pregnancy test.”

“Oh, for god’s sake, here we go again. You and Jackson really need to invest in some efficient birth control because this I’m pregnant freak-out that you have every month is getting boring.”

“Trust me, I know.” Her tone is suddenly tense, and she blinks back emotion. “But right now, I’m pretty sure I have the devil’s spawn growing inside of me, so I’m allowed to freak out. I’m two weeks late.”

I raise my eyebrows. She’s never been this late before. “Jackson is not the devil’s spawn. You know he loves you. But I highly doubt you’re pregnant. It’s all the stress from thinking you’re pregnant every month starting to get to you.”

“Yeah, okay, whatever.” She says, throwing her hands up in defeat. “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. I don’t know what you’re moping about—we got a free class and you got to watch Amber singing. It’s a damn good day for Ingrid Harper right now.”

“Listen, I really did just have a headache. I don’t care about Amber’s singing. And you and Jackson were quite obviously distracted. You didn’t seem to have pregnancy on your mind during that public make-out session. Or maybe you did. Either way, I think it’s a damn good day for both of us, don’t you think?”

I know what Summer is doing. She is the ultimate denier of reality. More than that, she is aware that I will follow along with every topic change she throws at me. I get distracted easily, apparently.

Summer laughs, but the smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. Distraction is inevitable right now, for both of us. These are not issues we should be faced with at seventeen years old. Summer’s mother is getting married soon, so that’s just one more thing to top off what I’m coining Summer’s Distressing Summer.

We stand silently as the rain pours over the sides of the flimsy tin roof. Muddy water pools right to the edges of the door. It’s mid-December. While politicians are throwing around the term climate change like it’s currency, I stare at the pools of water near this emergency exit, wondering if our town has sufficient flood safety plans.

“Come over tonight,” she murmurs. “Please, Ingrid.”

“You’re buying me McDonald’s.” I sigh in return. The truth is, I have my own things to worry about, whether Summer is pregnant or not. She’s been with Jackson for three years—that’s three years they have successfully been together and prevented pregnancy. It’s not a possibility. It just isn’t.

Summer is wild, just like her name. Her light-brown hair is constantly tangled, but her dominating blue eyes seem to distract everyone.

But today, she stares out at the grey sky and nervously chews at her lip, clutching that damn scarf so tightly that I know she’s already certain about this pregnancy. More so than I’ve ever seen before. Her blue eyes don’t seem so bright today.

“I heard Jackson was thinking about transferring to the art school. I didn’t think that boy had an artistic bone in his body.” I smirk, desperately trying to relax Summer. I don’t know what to say when she’s so shut off like this. My lie is smooth, slipping off my lips easily.

“Yeah, he does comics. I don’t know, I guess they’re funny.”

“It’s our last year of high school. Surely he’s left it a bit late?” I frown in earnest now.

What Summer doesn’t know is that I’ve known Jackson a lot longer than she has. I know that he’s been wanting to do art since he started high school, but his military-driven father would never allow it—he’s all about physical education, mathematics, and science. He used to drill that into Jackson every time I was around; none of this fairy fluff nonsense, he would say pointedly.

“Look, Ingrid, I don’t really want to talk about Jackson right now,” Summer snaps, finally releasing the titan grip on her checked scarf and running a frustrated hand through her frizzy hair.

“Do you even want me to stay tonight then?” I throw back. “I can’t deal with you when you’re being like this. Either let me in or let me go. I’ve got shit to do.”

To my complete surprise, Summer snorts as she turns to face me. “Just shut up and come and sleep over at my house. I need your brutal honesty, but I also need you to do literally everything I say right now. You know I’d do the same for you.”

I don’t bother telling her that to be in her position, I’d actually have to get closer than two feet to a guy, but I think she already knows that.

“Look, I don’t like that you called Jackson the devil before. I don’t care if he’s annoying sometimes, if you are…pregnant…it’s definitely not the devil’s spawn that could be growing inside of you. And that’s all I’m going to say about that,” I huff.

“Okay, I didn’t know you were Jackson’s number-one cheerleader, but whatever.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Gemma Gilmore is graduated from university with a degree in Journalism and a passion for writing and travelling. In 2016 she was awarded a highly competitive residency with the Tasmanian Writers Centre. When she’s not writing YA fiction, she’s spontaneously booking trips across the world so she can draw inspiration from new cultures and places.

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) by Lisa Henry

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Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) by Lisa Henry
Riptide Publishing
Cover art: Natasha Snow

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

 

About Two Man Station

Gio Valeri is a big city police officer who’s been transferred to the small outback town of Richmond with his professional reputation in tatters. His transfer is a punishment, and Gio just wants to keep his head down and survive the next two years. No more mistakes. No more complications.

Except Gio isn’t counting on Jason Quinn.

Jason Quinn, officer in charge of Richmond Station, is a single dad struggling with balancing the demands of shift work with the challenges of raising his son. The last thing he needs is a new senior constable with a history of destroying other people’s careers. But like it or not, Jason has to work with Gio.

In a remote two man station hours away from the next town, Gio and Jason have to learn to trust and rely on each another. Close quarters and a growing attraction mean that the lines between professional and personal are blurring. And even in Richmond, being a copper can be dangerous enough without risking their hearts as well.

Available now from Riptide Publishing.

About Lisa Henry

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

Connect with Lisa:

Website: lisahenryonline.com

Blog: lisahenryonline.blogspot.com

Twitter: @lisahenryonline

Goodreads: goodreads.com/LisaHenry

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Two Man Station, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit and a package of Australian goodies! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 27, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Kai Audiobook Review: One Call Away by Felice Stevens and Seth Clayton (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 
When a brutal attack from a jealous competitor leaves Noah Strauss, darling of the modeling world, physically scarred and emotionally damaged, he quits the runway to become a psychologist. Using his contacts from his time in the spotlight, he creates One Call Away, a radio show dedicated to gay men looking for love, advice or someone to talk to. But with secrets of his own and a mother who refuses to understand the career path he’s chosen, the one person Noah can’t seem to help is himself.

On a drunken dare from the senior partner’s grandson, Oren Leavitt calls Noah’s radio show, pretending to be gay. Only Oren isn’t certain if he’s pretending. He’s left his strict Orthodox Jewish upbringing behind, but the guilt remains. Guilt that his actions have prevented his sister from finding a husband and guilt that he’s failed his parents. Talking to “Dr. Noah” helps, and as he finds himself calling the man again and again, he knows he must be honest. But Oren is unsure if he’s lying to Noah or himself.

For Noah, trust is paramount; he’s been deceived in his personal and professional life and while he desperately wants to help Oren, he also finds himself falling for the sweet and tortured man. Oren is trapped: he risks losing his job and more importantly the love and security of his family but knows he can’t hide if he wants to be with Noah. When unresolved heartaches from the past rise up to control the present, Noah and Oren discover that love often comes from the most unexpected places, and sometimes a call for help not only saves a life, it can be a new and beautiful beginning.
 
 

OMG! this is such an emotional and amazing story!

Say that I loved this novel is an understatement. Really, guys, I can’t recommend this audiobook enough. So go there and listen to it. Like now!

 

The story wasn’t only about two men falling in love. No, it was so much more. It was also about struggle and fear of coming out. About acceptance. About being real and true to himself. About take help and help others. About family. And yes, about love.

Felice Stevens did an exceptional work in this book. And here’s a revelation: I had never read or listened to anything by this author before. Can you imagine how I am mad at myself now? I can’t believe I waited so long to get to know the work of this amazing author. Of course, now my TBR is even more crowded. Lol

In one call away we are introduced to Noah and Oren. Two great and well-developed characters. They both have been struggling with life. Noah was deeply emotionally affected by the brutal attack he suffered in the past. Oren lives a life where he doesn’t know who he is and when he finally face some trues, his love for his family and fear about their reaction hold him back. Together, the two men will help each other to overcome their fears and stand up for themselves.

 

 Noah and Oren’s journey is touching and gave me a lot of feels. I loved the friendship they developed along the story. The attraction they had was palpable and I was so cheering for them. They felt real and their story was so interesting that I couldn’t stop. Really couldn’t.

The narration by Seth Clayton was incredibly well done. He actually brought life to each character and made the story even more exciting. I loved especially his interpretation of Noah. The deep and sexy tone was just perfect for the character. I actually could identify each one of the characters by the voice, so you see how incredible Seth was in this narrative.

And look how sexy and emotional is the cover art by Reese Dante. I really liked it. And it fits the story perfectly.

Guys, I couldn’t love this story more. I highly recommend it!

 
Sales Links

Audible

Audiobook Details:

  • Written by: Felice Stevens
  • Narrated by: Seth Clayton
  • Length: 10 hrs and 54 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release Date:08-31-17

A Stella Recent Release Review: Five Dares by Eli Easton

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.

But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod . As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.

But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.

Eli Easton writes is a success, her name has simply become a guarantee of great quality to me, there is really no space for boring or shallow stories.

I love the kind of books like Five Dares, because I adore the friends to lovers trope  and Andy and Jack were perfect, friends so close, so devoted to each other. They were great as just friends and then amazing as lovers. They were hot together when sex was just a sort of experiment (for Andy) and then when they realised that something big was happening all the past years fell into the right perspective. Although Jack was already in love with his best friend, not once I had doubts this was used against him, not even when Andy knew Jack’s feelings.
I want to recommend Five Dares, I found it very well done. The reading flew easily thanks to a perfect writing that makes the reader able to be right there with the characters and fall in love with their lives. I liked how the chapters are grouped into the five dares. And the double POV is exactly what I prefer to understand the MCs minds.
I’m deeply satisfied with this new release by Eli Easton.
Cover art by Natasha Snow is amazing and perfect.
Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon
 
Book Details:
ebook, 245 pages
Published October 2nd 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Five Dares
ISBN139781626496507
Edition LanguageEnglish
setting Cape Cod, Massachusetts (United States)
Massachusetts (United States)
California (United States)

A MelanieM Review: First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) by RJ Scott & VL Locey

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Layton wants success, Adler wants family, how can love make both these things possible?

Layton Foxx works hard for what he has. The condo, the career, the chance to make his mark, is all down to the sacrifices he has made. With tragedy in his past, he doesn’t want or need love. Then he meets Adler Lockhart, the extroverted, sexy winger for the Harrisburg Railers and abruptly he can’t avoid love even if he wanted to.

Adler Lockhart has had everything handed to him his whole life. Cars, villas, cash, college tuition at the finest Ivy League schools. The only things he doesn’t have are parents who care or the love of a good man. Then Layton walks into his privileged life and shows him what real love can be like.

First of all, this book has oodles of elements that just set off the book sparklers for me.  Starts with the authors because I love R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey, then moving swiftly to the facts that you also have hockey players (be still my heart), a opposites attract trope and a good dollop of hurt/comfort?  Count me in!

When you mix that all together in the story First Season, it all comes together in a romance that hooked me in from the very start, made me love its characters from the main couple to the secondary cast and kept me invested as well as connected in everyone’s story.  First Season is the second in the Harrisburg Railers series and while you don’t necessarily have to have read the first one , it does help to give you background information here on the couple Layton Foxx is coming to help.  They make appearances is as does the next person getting his story.

But your heart and focus is on Layton and Adler and their slow, awkward, often painful dance towards love and a relationship.  I absolutely loved  Ads.  At one point he’s described as a Irish Setter, ginger, bouncy, lots of energy, maybe a small attention span….you can so see it … totally adorable in the huge body of a hockey player.  He also has almost no filters in his brain…so what he’s thinking is out his mouth without a checkpoint with obvious ramifications.  All because of a upbringing with parents that had little to do with him and left him with no social skills.  Talk about someone hungry for love and a home.

Then he meets damaged Layton Foxx who comes from an opposite background, but one where he can’t stand to go back to.  PTSD and a pain-filled past has him trapped in another way and landed him in a job filled full of his worst nightmares…jocks.  Watching Layton having to navigate his way around while trying to do the best for his clients AND deal with the confusing attentions of Adler? The dynamics are interesting, heartbreaking, funny, and often a bit convoluted even to the people involved themselves.

Locey and Scott also address the professional side of hockey and coming out, the costs to the team, the individual players etc.  I thought this was handled beautifully.

First Season came very close to a 5 star rating but I felt that parts of Layton’s story and his clear lack of recovery needed to be further addressed.  I wasn’t sure if Layton was still in therapy (I could have missed it to be honest), but the extent of his trauma I thought needed more attention here.  Not in details but in their relationship and his family towards the end after Adler and Layton decided they were it for one another. A phone call and a comment about one portion of their sexual life didn’t quite get to the depth of the trauma they are dealing with.

Others may feel the authors dealt with it to their satisfaction.

Either way, I feel it’s a wonderful story. One I absolutely recommend.    It has memorable characters, a team of hockey players to love and a series to look forward to each new release!  Bring them on!

Cover art by Meredith Russell.  The artist does both characters justice in a terrific cover.  Love it.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | KOBO | Smashwords | B&N | iTunes

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 229 pages
Published September 27th 2017 by Love Lane Books Ltd
ASINB073HGLT5X
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Harrisburg Railers 

Anniversary Blog Tour for Caught Inside (A Boys on the Brink Novel) by Jamie Deacon (giveaway)

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CaughtInside_TourBanner

Title: Caught Inside

Series: A Boys on the Brink Novel

Author: Jamie Deacon

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: September 29, 2016

Romance Genre(s): Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT

Words: 83,000

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jamie Deacon here today talking about their Top 5 Guilty Pleasure and their latest release Caught Inside.  Welcome, Jamie.

 

My Top 5 Guilty Pleasures

First, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for inviting me here today to kick off the anniversary blog tour for my debut release, Caught Inside.

As anyone who has read this book will know, guilt and pleasure go hand-in-hand . My heroes, seventeen-year-old Luke, and Theo who is two years older, know what they’re doing is wrong, seeing each other in secret. Luke has a girlfriend, Zara, who also happens to be Theo’s cousin. Their relationship, when discovered, has the power to hurt people and destroy friendships. But they’re young and in love, and the attraction they feel for one another is too strong. They simply can’t help themselves.

Since guilty pleasure plays such an important role in the story, I thought I’d reveal a few of my own. I’d love to hear yours as well, so feel free to share!

  1. Lazy mornings. I’ve always been rather too fond of my bed. There’s something so comforting about snuggling up under the covers last thing at night, mug of hot chocolate in hand and the radio playing softly in the background. My favourite times, however, are those precious mornings—increasingly rare these days—when I have nothing urgent to do and there’s no rush to get up. I’ll prop myself up on a mountain of pillows, drink endless cups of tea, and lose myself in whatever book I happen to be reading at the time. Bliss!
  2. Jilly Cooper novels. This love affair began in my teens and has continued, undiminished, into my mid-thirties. I’ve read her Rutshire Chronicles more times than I can count. In fact, it was these books that inspired Brookshire, the fictional county in my Boys on the Brink series. There’s just something about her larger than life characters and their interweaving stories that keeps me coming back again and again. Would it be fair to call these novels trashy? Absolutely! Yet, if there were an award for the best researched, wittiest, most compulsive trash, Jilly Cooper would win hands down.
  3. Desserts. Well, everyone loves a good dessert, right? Me? I’m a glutton for anything sweet, so much so that it’s become a family joke. When I was putting this list together, I tried to choose just one dessert that sends my salivary glands into overdrive more than any other, but it proved impossible. Apple crumble, raspberry pavlova, treacle sponge, vanilla cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding, lemon torte… I adore them all, and if it happens to come with a generous dollop of extra thick double cream, so much the better!
  4. Roleplaying games. OK, I admit it. I’m a total geek. I’m just amazed it’s taken me all these years to figure this out, but as soon as I discovered those choice-driven games, the interactive narratives where you get to pick your character and choose how the story unfolds, it was official. Now there’s no going back. At the moment, I can’t get enough of Life of a Wizard.. You can become anything from an arch mage ushering in a golden age for the country, to an undead necromancer taking over the world. It’s completely addictive!
  5. Late-night chats. Even after being together for eighteen months, it feels as though my boyfriend and I will never run out of things to say to each other. Currently, we’re separated by a two hour train journey, and so during the time we’re apart, we live for our nightly phone calls. Of course, once we start talking, we can’t stop, the sharing of news about our day and planning for our future carrying us into the early hours. We both know we should hang up and go to sleep, that we have to get up in the morning, but still somehow end up staying on the line far too long.

View on Goodreads

About the Book

Blurb

CaughtInside

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.

Caught Inside was named a finalist in the 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards for Best Gay Romance, the 5th Annual Bisexual Book Awards for Best Young Adult Novel, and the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Best LGBT Fiction.

Buy Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About Jamie Deacon

Author Bio

RainbowBooks

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are thrust headlong into the breathless, euphoric, often painful whirlwind called love.

Connect with Jamie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

To celebrate the first anniversary of the release of Caught Inside, Jamie is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The contest closes at midnight EST on October 13, 2017, and is open to entrants worldwide.

Good luck!

Enter here.

Tour Stops

September 25
Guest Post at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

September 26
Author Interview with A.M. Leibowitz

September 27
Exclusive Excerpt at Shh, I Am Reading

September 28
Exclusive Excerpt at Outrageous Heroes of Romance

September 29
Author Interview with Drops of Ink

September 30
Guest Post at Stories that Make You Smile

October 1
Exclusive Excerpt at Abibliophobia Anonymous

October 2
Character Interview with Liz’s Reading Life

October 3
Exclusive Excerpt at Loves Great Reads

October 4
Character Interview with My Fiction Nook

October 5
Exclusive Excerpt at The Bookworm Lodge

October 6
Exclusive Excerpt at Books, Dreams, Life

October 7
Author Interview with Love Bytes Reviews

October 8
Guest Post at Boys on the Brink

Tour Hosted by LoveBound Promotions

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