A MelanieM Release Day Review: Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Harrison Campus Story

When the stakes are this high, you better be sure you can win.

Jackson Murphy lost his parents to a boating accident, but they’re never far from his thoughts. He attends the same university as his parents, joined the same fraternity as his dad, and even lives in his father’s old room, along with his adopted brother, Marcus. Life brightens when he meets the man of his dreams.

Edward Knowles trades full-time college for working during the day and community college at night when his father’s factory closes. He intends to stay deep in the closet to keep his job in heating and cooling. But Jack pushes all his buttons.

Jack’s college rival challenges him to bring a date to the upcoming dance. He goads Jack into accepting even though failure means he and Marcus will lose their room and Jack must leave the fraternity.

Jack is falling hard for Ed, but Ed will never agree to go the dance. Ed—not knowing the stakes of the wager—has also made it clear that Jack taking another man will end their romance.

With pressure from friends and enemies alike, will Jack hold on to his legacy… or his heart?

While reading Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo, I can’t begin to count the number of times something about either an aspect of the situations these characters founds themselves in or the dialog/conversations I got pulled into (that involved multiple people)  made me reflect just how well author got their ages and timing right.  Even as I might have gotten frustrated over their fears getting the better of communication, I got it.  Boy, they are young, dealing with peer pressure, stress, and well, just stuff.

Gallo obviously understands this age, these young men, and makes us feel it too.  It rings of authenticity from the tight bonds of fraternity brothers through the ages to that of adopted brothers through trauma and devastation.  Better Be Sure covers a range of topics, from coming out to bullying to self acceptance, and grief, even clinical depression.  Plus formals, townie versus college, family stress, homophobia, and so much more.  Gallo set himself a huge agenda here and almost pulled it off perfectly.

I think only that he tried to do too much in the end kept this from a higher rating but really it’s so good.  The characterization alone makes this story easy to dive into.  You fall immediately into love with these true to life, complicated, moving young men trying to get through school and their fraternity life.  That includes tests, a formal, dating, a bully, and for Jack, the fact that he’s still dealing with the traumatic death of his parents four years ago.  It’s left him with having “episodes” which read like clinical depression, which is one of my issues here with the story.

Jack clearly has needed therapy dealing with not only the tragic loss of his parents but the horrific material free for all and monetary squabbling that ensured after they died.  The combined emotional impact on Jack was devastating.  Only his adopted family, including Marcus, saved him.  But even with all the mentions of his multiple breakdowns, never it is mentioned the need to get Jack help.  I do understand at that age you can’t be forced to accept help,  but I wish that more had been made of this element, especially since it’s such a big part of Jack’s story.  And the “episodes” he continues to have throughout the story, never exactly calling them what they are.  For me, that is actually one of the reasons this story didn’t get a 5 star rating. I just wish this had been explored a little more thoroughly.

I never joined the Greek life at my college, having flown the Freak flag myself, but I have faith that Gallo gets that right too.  It feels like it in the dynamics that goes on the the fraternity and between the big and little brothers. But I do remember the “townie vs college” aspect of it and that’s dead on.  From both perspectives!  How that brought back memories.  Weaving all this into his characters made for deeper personalities and gave us young men we feel we know.

Tight bonds are everywhere here and not just between young men.  Jack’s best friend is also a young women, one of several of strength in this story. It’s a great cast of characters and I loved spending time with all of them.  So I’m thrilled that this is just part of the beginning of a series.  I will be happy to follow each one as it releases.

Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo is a terrific contemporary new adult romance, and a great start to a new series.  It’s one I definitely recommend.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  I so connected to that cover.  That is Jack all the way.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 211 pages
Expected publication: March 26th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
Series Harrison Campus #1

BLOG TOUR for Red Zone by TS McKinney & Shannon West (excerpt and giveaway)


Red Zone Tour Banner


T.S. McKinney & Shannon West

Gay Romance, Contemporary New Adult, Sports Romance, & BDSM

Release Date: 03/15/19

Red Zone 1


From the outside, it looks as if college football quarterback Kingston Bentley has it all—good looks, outstanding athletic ability and a 4.0 average in his classes. But looks can be deceiving. Kingston is battling inner demons that are jeopardizing his safety and slowly driving him to more and more acts of desperation. Everywhere he looks, he’s got nothing but trouble, and when he loses his coveted first-string position on the football team, he goes back to the one thing he can count on—cutting to relieve the pressure and the emotional pain.

The gorgeous new quarterback on the team, Memphis Sabine, is the Coach’s son, and under enormous pressure of his own to lead his new team to the national championship. For that, he needs Kingston’s help, and they soon become an unbeatable force both on the field. But when Memphis discovers Kingston in the act of cutting, he uses his forceful nature and all he knows about being a Dom to take Kingston in hand and ensure his welfare. Kingston loves the pain, but he rebels against the idea of being Memphis’s sub. As Kingston begins his training, however, Memphis discovers just how fragile their relationship really is, and how desperately he needs to help Kingston deal with the secrets from his past.

AMAZON US: https://goo.gl/9uvUkd

AMAZON UK: https://goo.gl/bn4gtN



I took hold of his wrist and held on, squeezing a little. “Who’s in charge here, fireball?”

I could see it trembling on the tip of his tongue to cuss me out and tell me to go to hell. His eyes got stormy and his face sullen, but I waited him out, pressing his wrist harder. “I’m waiting for an answer. I thought we’d already decided this last night. Now who’s in charge here?”

Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was really only a few, long seconds, he dropped his gaze. “You are,”he said, grudgingly. I loved his little hesitations. They told me this was hard for him, but he was doing it anyway, because I’d told him to.

“That’s right,”I said, my voice soft and coaxing. Sometimes it felt like I was encouraging some wild animal to come out of its hiding place in the shadows. “And what is it you have to worry about today?”

He looked up at me, a little blank at first, and then he got a nervous look in his eyes, like he’d forgotten something. I sighed and said, “The answer is nothing. You don’t have to worry about a damn thing because I got this for both of us. I’m making the decisions now and all you have to do is go along for the ride.”


I have spent my entire life reading, reading, and reading some more! I love to get lost in the land of fantasy where I can be as naughty as I like without facing too many penalties! Earlier this year, I decided that maybe I should try writing my own naughty stories. That way I can do wickedly delightful things to my imaginary boyfriends without serving any serious jail time! My publishing company, Dark Hollows Press, has been awesome and most patient when dealing with their newbie.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2T8BkEV

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006245056875


Shannon makes her home in Georgia and North Carolina with her husband and family. She believes that love is love, no matter the gender. Shannon mostly spends her days at the keyboard trying to elude housework, which stalks her relentlessly.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2TOsKzN

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shannon.west.399


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Robert P. Rowe On Book Covers, Concept , and his new release Gabriel and the Devil (author guest post and excerpt)


Gabriel and the Devil by Robert P. Rowe

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |   Amazon   |   Apple Books 


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Robert P. Rowe here today talking about his new story Gabriel and the Devil and how it’s cover developed.  Welcome, Robert!


How do you choose your cover?

Dreamspinner Press has a whole art department dedicated to cover design and interior layout. When I first started with DSP they solicited a lot of feedback from writers about their books. In my case that was easy. I’m an art director. I knew exactly what my covers needed to look like. But most writers aren’t art directors too. Most don’t have a great idea of what they want their cover to look like.

Recently, DSP has changed their cover design process. They say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” But everyone does. So the DSP marketing department has stepped in to play a stronger role in cover design. At the 2018 DSP Writer’s Workshop the new process was introduced along with a large sampling of covers.

The audience was thrilled. They saw covers so inspiring that they wanted to write books to go along with the covers.

In the case of Gabriel and the Devil I had a very clear picture of what my main characters should look like. But the art and marketing department had different ideas—two to be exact. I was shown two covers created by Anna Sikorska. The cover that DSP marketing liked the best was bright and colorful, but the cover model looked sad. In fact the whole cover seemed a bit of a downer to me.

The alternative cover was very close to the cover that I chose. This cover tells so many stories. Main character, Gabriel, is very uncertain about his life and ultimately about his beliefs. The cover model wears and expression that perfectly fits this character. But the first version of the devil, Marcello, looked sad too. When I pointed out that this character is fun loving and should be smiling he came back with an evil looking grin. But finally we were able to get just the right look. There needed to be a wink to the readers letting them know that this story is fun. Perhaps it’s a bit of devilish fun, but it’s fun.

Best of all the cover is bold and striking. The devil is contrasted on a white background while the angel is on a black background. The image not only contrasts good and evil, it also is very reminiscent of the yin and yang symbol. In fact that is an underlying message in the story: “Evil brings out the best in people.”

Gabriel and the Devil blurb:

Flirting with the devil can lead to a helluva good time.

Gabriel is a regular angel. The former altar boy plans to graduate from college, become an accountant, get a good job, find a wife, and live a faithful Catholic life.

But one Halloween night, the devil pops in out of nowhere, challenges everything he believes, and heats up Gabriel’s lonely life.

Marcello is full of the devil. He’s lusted after Gabriel forever, but what he really wants is Gabriel’s eternal soul. Still, his mischievous sense of humor, along with his tricks and jokes, leads to a misunderstanding that could condemn him to hell on Earth. Only the truth will let these souls find true love and happiness.


A Very Short Except:

“You don’t know God at all, Gabriel.”


“Really. God is love—eternal, unconditional love. There are no exceptions, and that includes his love for Satan.”

“God hates sin.”

“Your God. Let me tell you a little story about the real God. This is a story that they won’t teach you in catechism. I can’t say it happened a long time ago because there was no such thing as time when it happened. There was only God and his angels. And all eternity was light and good.

“God knew everything there was to know. And he was bored. He wanted to learn more. So he went to his angels, whom he loved unconditionally, with a proposal. He needed one of his angels to rule over darkness. Now his angels all loved him so much that they would have done anything he asked. Of course, his angels had no idea what darkness was, but if God needed an angel to take charge over it, he wasn’t exactly short on volunteers.

“But before Lucifer got the job, God explained what the position entailed. You see, Gabriel, all light and goodness isn’t enough. There has to be contrast or you have nothing. You, my dear soul, can’t only be good because you’ll never get a chance to learn. God needed the darkness so he could learn more. And trust me, darkness, evil, and bad things only bring out the best in people.”

Author Bio:

Robert P. Rowe has spent his entire career as a storyteller making an incredible leap from Disneyland ride operator to show-designer and art director at Walt Disney Imagineering. Immersive storytelling presents a distinctive challenge unlike that of live theater, film, radio, or print media. He is currently on staff as an art director for Universal Orlando. His many other works can be found around the world, primarily in Disney and Universal Studios parks.

His “real” job takes up much of his time, but his active imagination can’t stop dreaming up new stories. Whenever time permits, he’s writing about new characters off on their own incredible journeys.

Additionally, his outside interests include all aspects of architecture, with a specific fascination for the theatrical design of homes from midcentury movies and television. He has a keen enthusiasm for midcentury science fiction.


Website: www.robertprowe.com

Rick R. Reed on the Writing Process, Influences, and his new release ‘Bigger Love (Big Love #2)’ (author guest post)


Bigger Love (Big Love #2) by Rick R. Reed
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Reese Dante


Amazon paperback |  Amazon Kindle  |   Dreamspinner Press paperback |  Dreamspinner Press ebook 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Rick R. Reed here on tour for the latest story in his Big Love series, Bigger Love, Rick R. Reed. Welcome, Rick.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Probes BIGGER LOVE Author Rick R. Reed

How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot. Whether I’m aware of it or not (sometimes I don’t spot it until long after a book is in print), I think a bit of myself goes into every character I write. That may be a small part or a big part. For example, in my latest, Bigger Love, I identify strongly with Truman Reid, my bullied, yet out-and-proud high school student. Like him, I suffered from being different when I was growing up (and the loathing came from both inside and out). But the wonderful thing I could do with Truman is give the strength, spirit, and self-love I wish I’d had at his age.

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

I can’t say that I have. I’m the kind of writer who starts with the first sentence and writes through to the end, never straying. Once I’m committed to a project, I finish it and always from beginning to end, never in any other order. As the kids say, “I can’t even…” However, that’s not to say things I’ve written haven’t been painful to me, especially when they hit very close to home. The books I’ve cried the most while writing were CAREGIVER, RAINING MEN, BIG LOVE, BIGGER LOVE and BLINK. Those books all came very close to my own personal life and it was impossible to write them without feeling both the pain and joy of the experiences and people who inspired them.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

In real life, that would be my college creative writing professor, Milton White, who was an old, gay man, who wrote a couple of brilliant books that no one, sadly read (A Yale Man and Listen, the Red-Eyed Vireo). Milton was funny, abrasive, and demanding when it came to teaching and he imparted so much wisdom to me about writing. For example, one of the many lessons I learned from him was that there’s a big difference between simple and simplistic. You always want to strive for the former. In the book world, authors like Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell, Flannery O’Connor and Stephen King all shaped who I am as a writer today. I have endless admiration for them and only hope that my work perhaps just begins to approach their talent and world-view.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

It’s here to stay. Look at Amazon, who are just this month releasing a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite, so there must be some demand for it. Take a look at any royalty statement I get, where ebooks outsell print books easily by 100 to 1. And personally, I read almost everything these days on my Kindle or on my phone/iPad on the Kindle app. Books are books and whether they’re paper or pixels, it’s the idea and the imagination that counts, not the vessel in which they’re conveyed to you.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

No. I believe it’s our flaws that provide conflict and make characters interesting. Flaws are something that can, during the course of a story, be improved upon, especially by the redemptive power of love. That power is a common theme in my work and brings about the most joyous changes among my characters and leads to their happy-ever-after. The more flawed the character, the greater the redemption and, I think, the more satisfying the story.


What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

Here you go. This is from a novella you can get on Amazon for only $1.99 called OUT ON THE NET (https://www.amazon.com/Out-Net-Love-Story-Blog-ebook/dp/B01F9M21DW)


A Visit to a Rest Stop

Oh, I know what you’re going to say when you see the title of this entry. You’ll roll your eyes and say, “Now, I understand why this blog is labeled ‘adult content.’” And you’re probably thinking that things are going to get juicy and scandalous.

Because everyone in Summitville knows what goes on at that little rest stop just north of town, on the way to the highway. There’s a reason people snicker about it and call it “Lollipop Park.”

Are you rolling your eyes and hoping in every sense of the phrase that I will not go there?

Hang on to your hats, boys and girls, because I did go there. Sordid. Seedy. Shameful. I know. I went there in real life and I’m going there now on paper. Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

But I didn’t yet tell you why I drove out there just a couple of weeks after the disaster that was to have been my wedding day. And I haven’t yet related what happened there, so just hold your horses on your judgments, Mary. I am trying to learn to talk as I imagine a gay man would and it’s not coming easy. Case in point—calling you “Mary.” So stupid.

Anyway, Summitville, PA has no gay bars, no gay clubs, no gay newspaper. To the untrained eye, one might even claim the little riverside town has no gay people, but discerning minds know that in a town of 12,000, that can’t be true. If you take the more or less accepted rule of thumb of one in every ten people is gay (don’t ask me where I got that statistic; I’ve heard it all my life), that would mean there are at least 1200 people here just like me, or at least like me in that they prefer sausage over pie or vice versa.

I digress. Why did I stop by the rest stop, when I neither needed to rest, nor to pee? What made me go to that shadowy, stinking-of-excrement, gravel-fronted little rest stop with the obscene graffiti and lone men lingering too long in parked cars? What would possess a nice, clean, upstanding guy like me to wander out to a place known for anonymous sexual encounters?

Curiosity. Don’t give me that crap about killing the cat, either. It was curiosity. Because, you see, even though I knew now that I was a gay man, I had no idea what gay men did, where they went, how they met. Maybe if I lived in that big city to the west, Pittsburgh, with its gay bars and clubs, I would have a better idea. But here in Summitville, where when people think of “cornholing,” they think of a summertime game played with beanbags and slotted boards, I just hadn’t had much opportunity to know much about gay life—the ins and outs of it (yes, I hear you snickering…shut up!).

Ergo the rest stop, rest area, Lollipop Park, whatever you wanted to call it. It was my only frame of reference for where gay men met up. I had driven by many times, on my way to the mall, and had heard the whisperings and jokes about the place, had even pretended to find the idea of such a locale humorous. But when I was alone, I put the humor aside and toyed with the rumors I’d heard—that men sucked each other off in the woods nearby and sometimes even right there in the stalls; that guys picked each other up and went back to each other’s home for God knew what. Parcheesi? Root beer floats? I don’t think so. These ideas made me feel paradoxically sick and weak and, at the same time, queasy with desire.

So I decided that my first act as a gay man should be to meet another one. And my very limited frame of reference left this as my only option. The idea of driving up to Pittsburgh or down to Steubenville and setting foot in one of the gay bars there filled me with terror. I was so not ready to mingle with my more urban, and sophisticated, gay brethren.

So I was stuck with this seedy and unseemly choice. I pulled into the gravel parking lot, where several other cars were already sitting, and shrugged. What would be the worst that could happen? Okay, okay, I could be fag bashed or arrested…that would be the worst. But if I was careful, maybe I would come out of this at least knowing someone else like myself and maybe, oh God, just maybe, I would have my first sexual encounter with a man.

Whoa there, boy, you’re getting ahead of yourself! I quieted the lustful thoughts and the rising erection that both seemed to arrive of their own accord, with no prompting from me.

I sat in my car and looked around the little parking lot. It was around nine o’clock, dusky. A few fireflies danced in the air over the grassy area just ahead of our cars, where the Summitville park district had kindly put out a pair of decrepit looking picnic tables. Who would want to picnic here? And what was on the menu?

Shut up with the weenies comment, please!

Because of the dying light and the setting sun reflecting off car glass, it was hard to see any of the other occupants of the three other vehicles in the lot. One thing was for sure, though: from the silhouettes, I could tell that a lone male occupied each car. One of them was smoking; I could see the glow of the cherry at the tip of his cigarette as he brought it to his mouth and drew in.

What was I supposed to do now? I didn’t know, so I just sat in my car, the butterflies dancing in my stomach, for what seemed like hours, but was, in reality, only about fifteen minutes or so. I drew in a deep breath and gathered up my courage. Someone had to start something.

I rolled up my car windows and exited my Kia Soul, closing the door softly behind me. I used the remote over my shoulder to lock the car up as I headed to the little cinder block structure to my left. Even from here, the word, “MEN” beckoned in white on a blue background.


I went inside and thought of uttering that old Bette Davis line, “What a dump!” and then chastised myself for being such a queen.

But the shitter, er, the restroom was not exactly a sight for sore eyes. It was dingy and dark, the only illumination came from a bare, low-watt bulb hanging from the ceiling. The paint-peeling industrial green walls looked like they would be damp to the touch. Flies buzzed around, obviously delighted with the luxurious accommodations. Cigarette butts and toilet paper littered the floor. Twin pieces of reflective metal, trying hard to find their motivation as mirrors, had been affixed to the wall above a pair of old, dripping, and rust-stained sink. On one wall was mounted a dispenser out of which one could get a condom for just a quarter. What was that doing here? The whole place stank of urine and shit.

Isn’t it romantic?

If this was gay life, perhaps I should crawl back to Alice on my hands and knees and beg for forgiveness.

But, as the saying goes, “in for a penny, in for a pound,” I thought I should at least check out the rest of the place. See what some witty scribes had written on partition walls…

I headed over to the two toilet stalls and, after wiping the seat with a piece of single-ply toilet paper, I nervously sat down. Even though I had wiped the seat, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to lower my cargo shorts.

The first thing I spied was some graffiti that said, “10-4 good buddy, this is the place, pull down your pants and fuck my face.”


I wondered what poet wannabe had written those lines on the wall and if any burly trucker had ever heeded its siren call. I searched in vain for more rhyming couplets, but none of the other graffiti matched its poetic flair. In fact, the rest of it was downright crude, exhortations to suck and be sucked, to fuck and be fucked, penis sizes, and messages left by people who cared so little about their privacy that they left phone numbers.

I could not imagine calling one of those numbers…or what kind of person would be hanging out on the other end of the line.

I stiffened—and not in a good way—as I heard footsteps. It was then that I noticed the hole drilled into the partition wall. It was just the right size to fit a hand—or, oh my Sweet Jesus, another part of the anatomy—through and positioned at waist height.

Did people really use that hole for what I thought they did?

Was there no romance in the gay world?

The footsteps neared my stall, and because there was no front door, I locked eyes with my new restroom buddy. He stopped in front of my stall and stared at me. I didn’t know what to do. Even though my shorts were up, I placed my hand over my crotch.

He had his hand over his crotch, too, and was rubbing it suggestively. He squeezed and I could see the outline of an erect cock beneath the denim.

Suddenly, my mouth felt dry and my heart was beating at double its usual rate. Good Lord, when had it gotten dark outside?

I eyed the man and he met my stare almost with a challenge in his eyes. He was about my age, but had long, stringy blond hair. He was too skinny and his bare arms (he was wearing a grimy wife-beater) were tattooed up and down their sinewy lengths. A hoop earring dangled from one ear, peeking in and out from the strings of his platinum locks as he glanced down at his own crotch, as if making sure it was still there.

My mouth was dry and I wanted to lick my lips, but was afraid of giving the wrong idea. I was learning fast that the language spoken here was with the eyes and not-so-subtle gestures.

Finally, he smiled at me and I saw he had what my mom used to refer to as “summer teeth.” Some are here. Some are there.

Suddenly, he reached for my crotch, as if to give it a neighborly squeeze. I swung my legs around to ensure his intended was out of his reach.

He sighed impatiently and ducked quickly into the stall next to mine. For a long time, there was silence and I dared not hazard a peek through the hole in the wall to see what my new buddy was up to.

But finally, I could stand the suspense no longer. I leaned forward a little, positioning my eye so it was level with the hole.

Boy, did I get an eyeful. Mr. Summer Teeth had had no compunction about dropping his drawers and working himself up into a frenzy. A huge cock, what I would estimate to be between eight or nine inches, rose up from between his tanned thighs. He worked it hard and there was a drop of precum poised at the slit in his head.

I have to admit it. My mouth wasn’t so dry anymore.

I watched. I think I was a little in shock. All kinds of things were running through me, making me feel both nauseous and lustful. I wanted that thing. I needed to get the hell out of here now.

He must have noticed me peering through the hole because the next thing I knew that big missile was coming right through it. Hey, buddy, watch it! You could take out someone’s eye with that thing!

Suddenly the cock was right in front of my face, dripping precum. With just a slight lean forward, I could have the pleasure of tracing a bulging purple vein with my tongue.

Did I touch it? Did I take it in my mouth?

Are you crazy? I ran out of there as fast as I could and if it didn’t mean being labeled as a drama queen, I would have said I rushed out screaming into the night.

As I drove away, tires sending up a spray of gravel behind me, I wondered if I would ever make a very good gay.


Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Being drunk is not a time to write. Neither is being high. I’m well-acquainted with both and am happy to say I’ve mixed lots of things with both states, but never my writing. That says something about me, but I’ll leave it to you to figure out what.


If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

My home office, with no distractions, and my dog snoring behind me as I write.



Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first gender-fluid star to ever win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self….

About the Author RICK R. REED 

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.


Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RickReedWRITER

Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/

Website: www.rickrreed.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed

Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

A MelanieM Audio Review: When Everything is Blue by Laura Lascarso and Michael Mola (Narrator)


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When they were kids, Chris Mitcham rescued Theo from the neighborhood bullies and taught him how to “be cool.” Now, years later, Theo’s developed feelings for his best friend that arise at the most inopportune times. Theo hates lying to Chris, but in coming out, he might lose the one person who understands him best, a risk he’s not willing to take.

When a relationship with another young man goes south, Theo is forced to confront his own sexuality along with his growing attraction to Chris and his stunted, tenuous relationship with his father. Will Chris abandon Theo when he learns the truth, or will he stand by him in this tumultuous season of self-discovery?

In this quirky coming-of-age romance, Theo’s path to manhood is fraught with awkward firsts and a few haters, but also the unexpected comfort of a friend turned lover.

I fell hopelessly in love with this story, with Theo from the moment narrator  Michael Mola ushers  us into his gentle, brilliant interpretation of Laura Lascarso’s teenage character discovering his love for his long time best friend just before his birthday and beginning of school.

From the accent, to the confused musings that sound exactly like they would come from a teenager, When Everything is Blue by Laura Lascarso is that new adult coming out story that hits every high mark you expect in such a novel and rarely get.

The characters are beautifully nuanced, believable, and ones that grab at your heart.  Theo’s home situation rings especially true where the father has a new younger family (also a layered portrait where the new wife is struggling and deserving of our compassion), a twin sister desperate for her father’s approval, and a quietly supportive mother whose Puerto Rican culture has contributed so much  to who Theo is becoming as an adult.  It’s understated in some ways and so much of the character’s foundation at the same time.  A beautiful job by the author and the narrator as seen by the gorgeous accent given to Theo in the audiobook.

In tandem with Theo is Chris, Theo’s best friend,next door neighbor, and the boy he’s in love with.  They’ve been joined at the hip for years, surfing, skateboarding, just being with one another, until now Theo has his “sexual awakening” and knows that it’s Chris that he’s not only attracted to but in love with.  His straight best friend and that causes all sorts of confusion and heartache.

There is so much here in this story much of which I can’t relate without venturing into spoiler territory.  And that would be unfortunate for this is a journey I recommend readers take for themselves as I’m putting this book (and this audio version) on my Best of 2018 List.  The beauty of the friendship and support between Theo and Chris is one to be remembered and treasured.  The strength of Theo as a young man finding his way through coming out and establishing himself as a gay youth to his family, friends, and community is also not to be missed.

Lascarso has done a tremendous job in creating not only a compelling story of teenage young love and relationship dynamics (between love lovers, siblings, and family) but also in making a realistic unfortunate use of the media part of her storyline.  That is something teenagers deal with every day.  It’s almost routine and here the consequences have the same devastating effects.

Reading it?  Brings the issue vividly to life.  Hearing it?  The emotional toll becomes so cuttingly real, so heartbreaking that you immediately think of all the others dealing with the same issues in schools everywhere.

Never fear, the ending is as remarkable as the rest of this story.  How I love it so.

After having listened to the marvelous voice of  Michael Mola, his range of diversity when it comes to the cast of characters of this novel, I can’t imagine just reading When Everything is Blue by Laura Lascarso.  I highly recommend you listen to the audiobook version and settle in for an outstanding evening of contemporary listening pleasure.  As I said this one is high on my list for Best of for 2018.  After you listen, I believe you will agree as well.

Cover Artist: AngstyG.  Along with the perfect of the writing and the narration, we have the great cover which has major elements from the storyline and is just beautiful to look at.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, Length 07:01:00

Published August 13th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published March 6th 2018)
Original TitleWhen Everything Is Blue

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


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/

A Jeri Release Day Review: Guyliner by j. leigh bailey


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

guylinerBoth sweet and sad, this YA coming of age story was a delight to read.

Connor is the classic all American boy. Baseball star, straight A student, beautiful girlfriend. All of those gave him the nickname Goldenboy- which he secretly hates. Behind closed doors he is the oldest of 5, his very existence making his parents marry young and his father to give up on his dreams. So he works hard to get a scholarship and leave the small town with little opportunity.

Graham is new in school. Moving there ostensibly for the soccer team, but in reality it was to escape the town where his boyfriend didn’t stick up for him after being gay bashed by his boyfriend’s brothers. After a year of recovery, he is ready to move on.

Graham knows who he is. He is out and proud- wearing tshirts that blatantly express the fact that he is gay and wearing eyeliner to school everyday. When Connor defends Graham- again- against the school bullies, they are accused of fighting by the baseball coach and are given the punishment of cleaning out the equipment shed every Saturday until it is done. While there, they get to know each other and look forward to their Saturdays.

Connor is fighting his attraction to Graham, and Graham won’t be a dirty little secret again.

I loved how Graham stood up for himself and what he was willing to be and do. But he also did it with general empathy toward Connor- a boy scared to not only come out of the closet, but scared to admit to even himself that he is gay. Graham is willing to be just friends with Connor, because something is better than nothing.

I also really enjoyed that Golden boy Connor is from such a blue collar family. Usually the sports star comes from a well to do family with all of the support in the world. But watching him babysit his siblings, share a room with his brothers, cook dinner for his family- all while doing his best in school and baseball are so representative of real life.

Graham was so strong. I fully expect a character like that to be broken- to hide from the world, put up walls, etc. But he didn’t. He was who he was and he wasn’t apologizing for it, even when he was getting bullied.

Connor and Graham together were just so sweet. I love a great YA book that expresses the feelings of the characters so well. There was no falling back on sex to move the story along.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  Love this cover.  It is, in every way, eye-catching!

Sales Links



Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published October 17th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777263 (ISBN13: 9781634777261)
Edition LanguageEnglish