A MelanieM Review: We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.

What an incredible story! Full of current, tough topics and damaged characters, elements  guaranteed to make one think, flinch, and often weep, as well as a romance that encapsulates some of the best and yes, worst that love can bring out in us.  In short, We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer is an amazing work of contemporary fiction, romance fiction is just a part of that.

Domestic shootings, whether it is at schools, workplaces,malls, or events, has, unthinkingly and horrifically, become part of our lives.  Here in We Still Live, author Sara Dobie Bauer exams what it means to have survived one of those shootings ,not just the main character’s trauma ,but that of an entire campus’. Bauer’s vivid descriptions of a darkness that hangs  heavy over the town, campus, and people is so real that it creeps over the reader page by page until you feel it just as Isaac must.  We are coming into the situation just as he is, almost an interloper, an outsider who slowly starts to become part of their neverending landscape of pain, loss, and regret.

I can’t begin to find the words as to how beautifully written this story is.  Or how achingly subtle and fragile her characters.   Both in their strengths and their vulnerabilities.

The true measure of the damage done to Professor John Conlon is only slowly revealed here, layers peeled away as core truths come to the surface.  And not just for John.  Because Isaac has his own demons he has brought to the campus.  Ones just as current today, given the rising conservative values and his own religious background.  Bauer has developed these themes and woven them flawlessly into her narrative and romance, bringing me to tears multiple times as well as to laughter.

It’s not just the main characters that are so well developed but all of them, from those with minor parts to those with larger supporting roles like Tommy, John’s best friend professor who lived through the shooting too.   This is a story that will stay with you, lines that will haunt you, from a dedication in a Student literary magazine to the last lines of this novel which I will leave for the reader to read for themselves.

It’s life affirming as well as wrenching.  It’s so damn real.  It will be on my Best of 2019 list this year.

Cover art by Natasha Snow,  Honestly I expect more from this artist than a bunch of trees (while I get the symbolism), especially with this exceptional book as inspiration. Meh.  Feels like a stock photo you can purchase anywhere.

Buy Links

NineStar Press  |   Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  Paperback 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 233 pages
Published December 9th 2019 by NineStar Press (first published December 4th 2019)
Original Title We Still Live
ASINB082BJDX2P
Edition Language English

Join Us for the Blog Tour with Excerpt for We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

Standard

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: We Still Live

Author: Sara Dobie Bauer

Publisher: NineStar Press

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: December 9, 2019

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Tropes: Friends to lovers, hurt/comfort

Themes: Coming out, depression, anxiety, PTSD/post-traumatic stress, mental illness

Heat Rating:  4 flames   

Length: 62 000 words

It is a standalone book.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links

NineStar Press  |   Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  Paperback 

 

To escape the past, accept it.

Blurb 

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.***

 

 

Excerpt

Close as they were to the foyer, Isaac was the first to notice the front door opening. A student walked inside. The kid dragged a heavy-looking suitcase behind him. Dressed as he was in a slim-fitting button-down, Isaac immediately assumed preppy, although that assumption altered and changed when taking into account the tight black jeans, Converse sneakers, and shaggy hair the color of caramel and chocolate—a mass of waves and curls that fell down the back of his neck but not quite to his shoulders. 

The kid pushed his hair out of the way and looked up, eyes finding Isaac and flashing a moment of panicked nonrecognition before seeing Tommy.

“Um.” Isaac pointed toward the new arrival.

Tommy turned and shouted, “John! My man!”

Not a student, then.

Tommy wrapped John in a hug that actually lifted his feet off the ground. Isaac imagined it wouldn’t be difficult. The new guy might have been average height, but he was gangly, skin and bones. 

Tommy ruffled his hair. “Have you lost weight?”

John grumbled and scratched his face with his middle finger. “What are you freeloaders doing in my house?” His voice was surprisingly resonant for someone Isaac considered “pretty.” At John’s pronouncement, crows of approval rang from every direction.

“Come meet Isaac,” Tommy said.

John wiped his palms on his jeans before reaching out to shake, and Isaac’s large hand dwarfed his. 

“Isaac Twain is the newest addition to our special corner of Hambden hell. Isaac, this is John Conlon.”

John brushed more hair out of his face. “Nice to—”

“John Conlon?”

John and Tommy froze.

Isaac jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “The books on the shelf. Those are yours?”

John’s face, immobile in what looked like dread a moment before, melted into relief, tinged with a bit of blush. “Oh, yeah. You’ve read?”

“No, but I should. You’ve published a lot of books. You must be good.”

John’s nose wrinkled, and he looked away. 

Tommy shook him by the shoulders. “John is an amazing writer. He had a story published in The New Yorker when he was, like, five. Are you working on anything right now?”

John glanced at the bookshelf. “Not lately.”

“You need a drink,” Tommy said.

John’s eyes widened on a big breath. “God, yes, I do.”

“Nice to meet you,” Isaac said, but John just nodded quickly, smile thin, before allowing himself to be herded farther into the house toward the sound of quiet laughter and clinking bottles.

Isaac felt it then—an outsider’s emptiness. He became a nervous-looking coat rack in the corner, a terrified tree waiting for the ax. As the party doubled in auditory volume, he bemoaned his spilled wine. Was it okay for him to leave? It wasn’t like he was supposed to make a speech. He was only there because he figured it was the easiest way to meet everyone before the first official faculty meeting, but he’d been standing around too long. He wanted to run.

Out of curiosity, he reopened John’s book from earlier and read the front flap. It was a coming-of-age story about a gay kid in the Midwest. He flipped to the back, and a picture of John stared back at him. He’d assumed the guy was tired when they first met, but no; apparently, John had perpetual bedroom eyes, and his hair was always an artful mess. He skimmed…creative writing professor at Hambden University…gay rights activist…Converse-wearer and “old-people music” enthusiast.

All arrows pointed to John’s probable sexual preference for men. A spark of interest flickered but quickly went out. True, John Conlon was what most people would consider beautiful, but he wasn’t Isaac’s type. John was the kind of man butch guys fought over in gay clubs, but he was too small for Isaac, too fragile-looking, girly. After all he’d been through, the last thing Isaac wanted was someone feminine.

A thin figure ducked into the library and literally hid against the doorframe. He took a long drink of something brown and leaned his head back. “It’s not good when you want to hide in your own house.”

“Library is the best place for it,” Isaac said.

John kicked away from the wall. “Tommy mentioned you just moved here? I’ve been in Lothos forever, so if you need anything…” He examined Isaac from his brown boat shoes to the top of his blond head. John’s large eyes, dark green, seemed bottomless—drowning pools of intellect and soul—only slightly overshadowed by his thick eyebrows.

 

About the Author  

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series and Escape Trilogy.

 

Photo credit: Bill Thornhill

 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Private Facebook Group

Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Newsletter Sign-up  |  BookBub

 

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

A Free Dreamer Review :Art of Death (Lychgate #1) by Bob Appavu

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Starving artist Riley Burke refuses to be dependent on his rich older boyfriend—hence his second job as a nude model at the local art school.  When the famous artist Coliaro requests him for a private modeling session, he jumps at the chance to earn some real cash.

But then Westwood, a mysterious stranger, warns him to steer clear—it’s said Coliaro is undead. That his worshippers perform rituals to fill him with life energy. That every time he paints a male nude, the painting transforms to depict a gruesome murder. And that shortly after, a young man turns up dead.

Riley dismisses the rumors—until they start to play out before his eyes. When he becomes a target, Westwood comes to his aid. But Westwood is secretive and dangerous himself… which just makes him more attractive to Riley. Riley is in over his head, and even his tenuous alliance with Westwood might not save him.

Art of Death is the first book in a new series. The blurb made it sound like a rather unique story and I certainly haven’t read anything like it before, but it still failed to wow me.

First of all, you should know that Riley’s dealing with mental health issues, namely depression. He could also use a therapist, but can’t afford one and doesn’t want to tell his boyfriend about his “angst”. There’s also talk of homophobic parents and the suicide of a family member. And, well, the murders are gruesome, but they don’t actually happen on-page. So beware if any of this triggers you.

This isn’t much of a romance. Riley is in a failing relationship with his rich boyfriend. He has some serious trust issues and can’t bring himself to open up about his troubles. And then there’s this very attractive, if somewhat dangerous and scary, stranger that Riley just can’t stop thinking about. Personally, I enjoyed that. I just wish there’d been a bit more of an explanation why things in the bedroom didn’t work out for Riley and Nick. It seemed like a big issue on Riley’s part, but we never get a reason.

Riley’s lack of curiosity kind of baffled me. The first thing I’d want to know if I met an undead, immortal person, is how it all works. Are you born that way? Do you need to die under specific circumstances to come back to life? And so on. Because these undead aren’t zombies, they’re more like normal people, who just can’t die. And some of them have a serious lack of morals.

The plot itself had a few holes in it. Dead bodies turn up around Riley and yet there’s very little police involved. It’s just mentioned in passing that they showed up at the crime scene, but there’s zero follow-up.

Riley is a starving free-lance artist and yet we never see him do any actual work. There’s the occasional mention of a new job designing this or that, but nothing about Riley actually working on that job. I think it would have added a little more depth to the story, which seemed a bit flat overall.

This book has less than 300 pages, which isn’t a lot. Yet it took me a surprisingly long time to finish. I guess I just wasn’t that motivated. It wasn’t boring or bad or anything, it just didn’t wow me and it couldn’t hold my interest for any length of time.

All in all, “Art of Death” is an okay book. The idea behind it is fairly unique, but the execution was a little bit lacking to me. I’m not sure yet if I want to actually read the next book in the series. I guess I’ll make that decision when it comes out.

The cover by Bob Appavu is okay. I think a bit more connection to the plot would have been nice. As it is, it’s a little bit average.

Sale Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 271 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by DSP Publications
ASINB07RF668N5
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLychgate #1
Other Editions
None found

Need a New Story to Dive Into? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Beyond Identity by Karrie Roman (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Title: Beyond Identity

Author: Karrie Roman

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 2, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 74200

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, New Adult, college, depression,hurt-comfort, friends to lovers

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Noah Lancaster’s life is a mess. He doesn’t know much about his past or who is parents really were. When he’s beaten on the streets one night while sleeping rough, the attack doesn’t feel like just another random assault on a vulnerable target. Somebody wanted Noah dead. But who’d want to hurt him? He’s a nobody who doesn’t know where he came from or who he truly is.

Harry Cooper wants to launch his career as an investigative journalist by telling the stories of the hardships faced by the homeless. His latest subject was lucky to survive a brutal attack—the mean streets almost swallowing him up like so many others. Noah is a mystery to Harry and it seems to the man himself.

When Noah’s attack brings these two men together, neither could imagine they’re about to be pulled into a mystery one hundred and thirty years old—and half a world away. They’re about to discover a secret someone has already killed once to protect and one that might get them both killed.

Sometimes who you are goes far beyond who you thought you were.

Excerpt

Beyond Identity
Karrie Roman © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Noah had been here before. People didn’t have sporadic stints of living on the streets and expect to escape the occasional bashing. An assault could come from anywhere—another rough sleeper, a junkie, pimp, or sometimes from some teenage twat who thought they were being hilarious beating the shit out of someone whose life had already kicked them in the teeth. When someone was homeless, they were either invisible or a goddamn target. The fucking irony.

This was different though. This wasn’t some son of a bitch grabbing the nearest body and laying his fists into them. Noah had been stalked. He’d watched this bastard skip first one and then the next rough sleeper he’d come across in the alley until he’d spotted Noah.

Noah recognised what the man wanted, could tell by the tense set of his shoulders, the white knuckles of his clenched fists. He wanted to make Noah hurt. Sensing danger became heightened when surrounded by it day and night with no locked door to offer even the illusion of safety. So, when he’d first spotted this man, Noah had wanted to run, he’d never wanted to run so desperately in his life. But he had nowhere to go. He’d chosen poorly the night before—a rookie mistake, though he was no rookie to sleeping on the streets.

He’d been so damn exhausted, when searching for a spot to lay his head, he hadn’t cared that there’d been no second exit, no escape route in this alleyway. He’d trapped himself, and a monster had walked right into his trap. But Noah was the one caught in the deadly snare.

Noah could fight. He was scrappy, no finesse, no training, but he could throw a half-decent punch. He was capable of delivering a hit to make his opponent think twice about going after him, and if that didn’t work, he knew how to bite, kick, scratch; hell, he’d go for the balls if he had to. Another thing learned on the street if someone wanted to survive was to use every weapon in their arsenal.

The monster coming for him was tall, not the biggest man Noah had ever seen, but definitely the biggest one he’d ever had to fight. The darkness shadowed his features, but he knew the eyes were bleak, cruel; he’d seen a flash of them in the streetlight near the top of the alleyway, or maybe his imagination was making the man’s physicality as sinister as his demeanour. Noah felt those eyes on him. Glaring. And he wondered what the hell he’d done to this guy to piss him off so badly.

Noah stood, legs wide, shoulders high, chest out, trying to make himself appear as big as possible. From the man’s bearing and manner, it was evident he had next to no chance of scaring this guy off, but he had to try. Any fight he didn’t end up actually fighting was a win.

Much of his time on the street Noah was alone, but never more so than when some fucker decided to take a potshot at him. He didn’t really blame anyone for their indifference. They lived in a don’t-get-involved kind of world and when no one had their back having someone else’s could be very hard.

The man kept coming. He was close now, close enough to allow Noah to see him more clearly. His eyes were as cruel as Noah had thought, but the rest of his face he’d describe as a baby face, soft, almost sweet-looking. His cheeks were puffed as though full of cotton wool, a perfectly shaped snub nose sat above rich red cupid’s bow lips pulled into a sneer. Without more light he was unable to pick accurate skin and hair colour, but he’d guess fair for both.

Noah raked his gaze quickly down the man’s body. He was muscular but not hulk-like. He had no obvious weapon, though from the size of his hands, Noah suspected he’d be able to do plenty of damage with those alone.

He wondered if the man would speak. Sometimes they did, especially the arsehole teens who, for whatever reason, felt the need to justify why they were beating the shit out of their victim, all while bragging amongst themselves about how tough they were.

Faster than he’d have thought possible, the man lashed out. Noah’s head snapped back, and a spray of blood bloomed from his nose, the sickening crack turning his stomach. He hadn’t had a chance to move. The stranger’s speed and accuracy confirming to Noah this man was no amateur—and Noah was in big trouble.

Before his head had even righted, he took a blow to his stomach, the force of it doubling him over. He gasped for air, trying to suck in big gulps through his mouth. The man’s knee connected with his already broken nose before he could catch his breath, and the follow-up blow to the back of his head sent him to his knees.

Noah didn’t stand a chance; he understood how dire his situation was now. This man was a professional—he knew what he was doing.

His vision was darkening, tiny purple-black spots making it difficult for him to see clearly. He lashed out with a fist, connecting with what he thought was the man’s thigh. He wondered if his attacker even felt the blow there was so little power behind it.

The man aimed for his head again, but somehow Noah managed to dodge backwards so the blow was only glancing. Unlike in the movies, Noah knew a normal person couldn’t take too many direct, powerful hits to their head without substantial damage or worse. His focus was scattered, not sharp enough for him to decide what to do about the punches raining down on him though. Did he duck and cover, hope to ride out the attack while protecting his head? Or did he try to get up and fight?

He kind of roll crawled to put some distance between them but the man charged relentlessly after him. Noah kicked out with his leg. He tried to aim for the man’s knee, but his head was spinning worse than the one time he’d had way too much whisky. He wasn’t sure where his foot ended up connecting, but his attacker only grunted and kept coming.

Noah curled into a ball, pulling his head down to his chest and wrapping his arms around the vulnerable area. He felt a sharp hard kick to his back and then another. He tried to roll to his knees, but the bastard wouldn’t relent even a little.

“Hey! You there!” A booming voice called.

Noah’s attacker stopped immediately. He heard running footsteps and glanced out from beneath his arms just in time to see the man sprint down the alley, barrel into a man and woman at the opening, and keep right on running. He didn’t have the energy to move, much less chase after him or even call out for help. He closed his eyes and groaned.

He wasn’t quite sure what happened to time then—it either slowed down or sped right up. He was too out of it to know which. He heard voices, vaguely registered they were occasionally talking to him, but he couldn’t be fucked answering. He wanted to sleep. His eyes were welded shut—they had to be—but lights flashed continually behind them. There were more voices and then some arsehole was poking and prodding at him. It was the strangest thing—as though he was there but wasn’t.

One minute he was curled up on the cold, filthy concrete and then suddenly, he was being jostled around in some kind of vehicle. Ambulance, probably—at least he hoped it wasn’t a cop car. He smelled pee and knew it was his, but he didn’t have the wherewithal to be ashamed. He was amazed he was capable of smelling at all, given he was sure his nose must be shattered in a million pieces. Mixed with the acidic pee was the coppery stench of blood.

Someone was asking him for his name. He thought his name was Noah, but everything was a bit hazy. He couldn’t for the life of him think of his last name.

“Can you tell me your name?” the voice asked again.

“Shh. I’m sore,” he replied, though the words were so slurred he didn’t know if he’d be understood.

He heard a soft chuckle and then that damn voice again. “I know you’re sore, but can you tell me your name.”

“Noah,” he groaned, so the voice would shut up.

“Noah, do you have any allergies?”

Jesus fucking Christ, didn’t this idiot know he just had the stuffing beaten out of him? He didn’t give a shit about allergies. He groaned again. The fucker could take his whimpered reply however he wanted.

“I’ll take that as a no. I’m going to give you a shot of morphine. Have you had anything to drink tonight?”

“Don’t drink.” Fuck, the slurring was getting worse. He shook his head no to make sure this guy would understand him. He felt like his goddamn brain was rattling around in his skull.

“Okay, good. Here we go then, just a small pinch.”

Noah felt a bite—a fucking painful one—in his arse cheek. “Fuck,” he spat. Small pinch my arse.

“I know, sorry. Morphine shots kinda hurt.”

“Arsehole,” he groaned. Every part of him hurt, but hopefully the morphine would kick in soon. He knew he was being taken to a hospital but wished he wasn’t. He wished he could talk them into letting him out now. With his veins full of morphine to dull the pain, he’d be okay. He’d find somewhere to curl up for a while and sleep it off. But they had their duty of care and blah, blah, blah. He’d sign something to say they did all they could, and he’d happily take the blame if he died from his injuries on the street.

He hated hospitals, loathed anywhere really that put him on the radar. He was no criminal, and he wasn’t on the run, but the idea of anyone knowing exactly where he was sent shivers up his spine for no particular reason except that’s just the way he was made.

Hands busied themselves all over his body. He had neither the energy nor the ability to open his eyes and watch what they were doing. From the noises being made and the sensations on his skin, they were putting in an IV and attending to his wounds. Noah floated happily on his morphine cloud, content to lie back and let those hands have their way with him. He still wished he wasn’t headed for a hospital, but he’d keep the worry for when the drugs wore off.

He felt the cold air rush in when the doors of the ambulance were yanked open. His body was jostled around when the stretcher was pulled from the back, though he knew they were trying to be careful—that pesky duty of care. He really tried to peel at least one eyelid open when he heard voices gathered over him, discussing him as if he wasn’t there. He heard them say assault and concussion and lucky. He didn’t care about any of it. He was in no pain now, and all his other worries seemed far off, silly, unimportant.

He heard them say something about topping the dose, and then even the haziness in his brain faded as he drifted away.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Karrie lives in Australia’s sunshine state with her husband and two sons, though she hates the sun with a passion. She dreams of one day living in the wettest and coldest habitable place she can find. She has been writing stories in her head for years but has finally managed to pull the words out of her head and share them with others. She spends her days trying to type her stories on the computer without disturbing her beloved cat Lu curled up on the keyboard. She probably reads far too much.

Website |Twitter

Giveaway

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

Blog Button 2

Lindsey Byrd on Designing the World and her new release On The Subject Of Griffons (guest blog and giveaway)

Standard

On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd
Riptide Publishing

Cover Art: L.C. Chase
Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Lindsey Byrd here today on tour for her new novel, On the Subject of Griffons.  Welcome, Lindsey.

✒︎

Lindsey Byrd on Designing the World

 

When I first started writing this story, I had a general idea of what I wanted the country to look like. I knew its borders and its main cities and I could see it very clearly in my mind. While I was considering what to write for this blog tour, my best friend suggested I finally draw what I had seen so clearly in my mind. It didn’t take long, and the results are in the image above.

I marked out every main city or stop that the protagonists mention or travel to. The Trent empire and Ruug are both alluded to in various parts of the book, but they aren’t locations that our characters physically reach. As mentioned in a previous blog post – the long lakes are based off of the New York finger lakes, and you’re welcome to go back and look at the pictures posted there if you’d like another reference.

Actually drawing the map itself wasn’t too difficult. I have an idea of how I’d like to expand the universe so I knew in advance what features I wanted to add. Some of them, like the island in the middle of the Great Sea, aren’t referenced in this book at all. I’m still looking forward to sharing it somewhere down the line.

The map on this blog post, however, is not my original drawing. One of my closest friends took my original sketch and made it the fancy, beautiful, version you see here. She flushed out the detail on the image and made sure that the rivers and coastline made some form of logical sense, and everything you see on the map above is the highly rendered version of her imagination.

As we worked on it together, we discussed the future of this world. One of the other concerns I had, was not showing what I hadn’t planned out. To this end, there are many cities, names, or other kinds of locations I haven’t added to this version of the map. There are other stories there, and hopefully interest and intrigue will inspire future readers to wonder what those possibilities are. But for now, we made sure to keep everything as simple as possible. This is On the Subject of Griffons’ world. And hopefully in the future I’ll be able to share what goes on in all the blank spaces you can’t yet see.

If you enjoy reading this book, feel free to send me a message and let me know what you’d like to see in this world. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Blurb

They’ll do anything to save their children’s lives, even if it means working together.

Kera Montgomery is still mourning the sudden death of her husband, Morpheus, when her youngest son falls victim to a mysterious plague. With no medicinal cure, Kera must travel to the Long Lakes, where magical griffons capable of healing any ailment reside.

As an heiress unused to grueling travel, Kera struggles with the immense emotional and physical strain of her journey—one made more complex when she crosses paths with her husband’s former mistress, Aurora. Aurora’s daughter is afflicted with the same plague as Kera’s son, so despite their incendiary history, the two women agree to set aside their differences and travel together.

The road is fraught with dangers, both living and dead. Each night, old battlegrounds reanimate with ghosts who don’t know they’ve died, and murderous wraiths hunt for stray travelers caught out after dark. If Kera, Aurora, and their children are going to survive, they’ll need to confront the past that’s been haunting them since their journey began. And perhaps in the process, discover that old friends may not be as trustworthy as they once thought—and old enemies may become so much more.

Now available from Riptide Publishing and where ebooks are sold.

 

About Lindsey Byrd

Lindsey Byrd was brought up in upstate, downstate, and western New York. She is a budding historian of law, medieval, and women’s studies and often includes historical anecdotes or references within her works. Lindsey enjoys writing about complex and convoluted issues where finding the moral high-ground can be hard to do. She has a particular love for heroic villains and villainous heroes, as well as inverting and subverting tropes.

Twitter: twitter.com/TheLindseyByrd

Tumblr: tumblr.com/blog/lindseybyrd

Email: thelindseybyrd@gmail.com

Goodreads: goodreads.com/LindseyByrd

 

 

Giveaway

To celebrate this release, one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 1, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd

Standard

Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

They’ll do anything to save their children’s lives, even if it means working together.

Kera Montgomery is still mourning the sudden death of her husband, Morpheus, when her youngest son falls victim to a mysterious plague. With no medicinal cure, Kera must travel to the Long Lakes, where magical griffons capable of healing any ailment reside.

As an heiress unused to grueling travel, Kera struggles with the immense emotional and physical strain of her journey—one made more complex when she crosses paths with her husband’s former mistress, Aurora. Aurora’s daughter is afflicted with the same plague as Kera’s son, so despite their incendiary history, the two women agree to set aside their differences and travel together.

The road is fraught with dangers, both living and dead. Each night, old battlegrounds reanimate with ghosts who don’t know they’ve died, and murderous wraiths hunt for stray travelers caught out after dark. If Kera, Aurora, and their children are going to survive, they’ll need to confront the past that’s been haunting them since their journey began. And perhaps in the process, discover that old friends may not be as trustworthy as they once thought—and old enemies may become so much more.

On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd is such an unexpectedly deep, and emotionally rich journey.  Not of one woman, although Kera Montgomery is the main character who undergoes the most personal growth and development.  So too does the woman who starts out as her adversary and the source of so much of her pain,Aurora., Kera’s deceased husband’s’ ex-mistress.

The writing and characterizations in this story are simply brilliant. Told from the perspective of the “Widow Montgomery”, she is at moments controlled, raw, open, distraught, and as the story moves forward comes a woman of strength, determination, and incredible bravery.  Someone able to go forward and love again, building a future for herself, others and more. But when it starts out she is a woman overwhelmed by the deceit of her husband, buried in grief by his loss, mired down by the weight of responsibility for the huge brood of children she has and and lack of control over his   own future which seems lay in the hands of her father and the bankers of the town which want to pressure her into selling them her home, Ivory Gates.  She’s barely  coping and we are made to feel every tear, every throbbing pressure headache, every lost to depression episode Keri is feeling.

Then the deadly sickness that is sweeping the town invaded her home and her smallest child falls critically ill.  And again, we are in Kera’s heart and head that just as we don’t believe this  woman can stand any further pain, humiliation, or despair, now her youngest child is going to die.  And we are weeping with her.   And raging with her over her feelings of inadequacy and helplessness and the anticipation of yet another crushing deep loss.

It’s rare that I get pulled so fully and deeply into such a character as Kera Montgomery because of, I suppose, her state and, like all others, outward impression of her at the beginning.  Kera inhabits a rigid society that gives women little choice as to their roles in life.  Nice women in society are wives and mothers.  The men manage things, money, estages, society,  and wars. When Kera’s husband, Mori dies in a duel disgraced, he leaves her a widow of 7 children and a large estate she never wanted, Ivory Gates, teetering with looming debts and no pension of her husband’s to use as income.  Bankers are at her door and no one is asking her what she wants to do but her father instead.    She’s feeling invisible, emotionally battered, once more in mourning and feeling betrayed by a husband she loved who never seemed to think about the consequences of his actions.

Grief, helplessness and depression have mired this woman down until her youngest son is struck down and will soon die if nothing is done. It’s that desperation that is the impetus for Kera to finally act, against society and for herself and her son.

To save him she must find a Griffin’s feather and they exist only in one part of the territory.  In the cruelest of ironies, the first person she encounters on the road is her husband’s mistress who’s daughter is critically ill with the same sickness.

The journey then becomes this incredible saga  of multiple complex story threads, magic, and redemption.  Kera must learn to get past her hatred of Aurora, her pain and need for understanding about the affair, there’s forgiveness and personal growth, and so much more than this review can begin to describe.  Really, these women are beyond amazing as is their road to saving their children and finding a new future together.

It is labeled as F/F but the heat level is low, limited to kissing and off scene sex that is not described.

If I had any issues its that it ended a little too pat but what came before was just too magnificent for me to really quibble about that.  The writing and characterizations are just that outstanding.

Honestly, if you love fantasy and some of the best womens characterizations I’ve read this year, pick up On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd.  I highly recommend it.  It’s just a stunner of a story!

Cover art: L.C. Chase.  The cover is a little dark and it does fit parts of the story but it could easily be a contemporary fantasy which this is not.

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 316 pages
Published May 27th 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title On the Subject of Griffons
ISBN 139781626498822
Edition Language English

In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: A Chip and a Chair (Seven of Spades #5) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Standard

A Chip and a Chair (Seven of Spades #5)  by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Riptide Publishing

Cover Art: Garrett Leigh

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

Thanks for checking out the blog tour for A Chip and a Chair, the conclusion to the Seven of Spades series!

Just as the Seven of Spades investigation is closing in, an act of terror devastates Las Vegas. In order to save the city they love, Levi and Dominic may need the help of the very killer they’ve been hunting…


About A Chip and a Chair

It’s time to lay all the cards on the table.

Detective Levi Abrams and PI Dominic Russo are reunited and more committed to each other than ever, but they can’t truly move forward with their lives until the serial killer who’s been tormenting them is behind bars. When a secret burial site is discovered in the desert with the remains of the Seven of Spades’s earliest victims, that goal finally seems within reach.

But just as the net is tightening, the neo-Nazi militia Utopia launches their master plan with a devastating act of terror that changes the landscape of Las Vegas forever. As Levi and Dominic scramble to prevent the city’s destruction, they’re opposed by treacherous forces that propel them toward catastrophe. In the end, Levi’s fate may rest in the hands of the very killer he’s been hunting.

The race to save Sin City is on, and these players are going for broke. No matter how hopeless things seem, as long as they’re together and they’ve got a chip to play and a chair to sit in, they’re still in the game.

Now available from Riptide Publishing.

About the Seven of Spades Series

Las Vegas has never seen a serial killer like the Seven of Spades.

The self-styled vigilante is on a mission to cut down the wicked and treacherous, and Sin City has no shortage of targets for their bloody wrath. What happens in Vegas . . . ends with the Seven of Spades’s calling card on a grisly corpse.

Standing against the killer are Levi Abrams, a dedicated homicide detective locked in a constant struggle to restrain his own dark side, and bounty hunter Dominic Russo, a charming rogue with a heavy secret weighing on his shoulders.

The hunt for the Seven of Spades sends Levi and Dominic on a collision course, igniting a passionate relationship forged in conflict and sealed with blood. Together they’re stronger than the sum of their parts, but a wily, elusive serial killer isn’t the only threat that will strain their bond to the breaking point.

Ante up, because the Seven of Spades is all in. Are you?

Check out the Seven of Spades series!


About Cordelia Kingsbridge

Cordelia Kingsbridge has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh, but quickly discovered that direct practice in the field was not for her. Having written novels as a hobby throughout graduate school, she decided to turn her focus to writing as a full-time career. Now she explores her fascination with human behavior, motivation, and psychopathology through fiction. Her weaknesses include opposites-attract pairings and snarky banter.

Away from her desk, Cordelia is a fitness fanatic, and can be found strength training, cycling, and practicing Krav Maga. She lives in South Florida but spends most of her time indoors with the air conditioning on full blast!

Connect with Cordelia:


Giveaway

To celebrate the release of A Chip and a Chair one lucky person will win a $10 Riptide Publishing gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 16, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) by Kelly Jensen

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.

Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.

Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.

But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.

If you haven’t found Kelly Jensen’s This Time Forever series, you seriously need to.  While each story uses a structure like a legacy home or lodge at its heart, it’s the author’s ability to create and bring to life a group of interlocked men of varying ages, often older than your usual contemporary romance, intelligent, each carrying more than their share of life’s baggage.  Some are easily more damaged than others, some emotionally, others physically, some both. Through the stories we’ve met several of the characters over and over through their complicated relationship dynamics with each other, as couples form and ex’s watch from the sidelines.

In Chasing Forever, one of those ex’s, Brian is someone we’ve “seen” through other characters perspectives and the view hasn’t been a pretty one.  Here Brian’s past is revealed, the truth of the man  peeled back, and he’s set on the path to redemption.  One reason? Mal “Malcolm” Montgomery, history teacher  and track coach who is trying to recover from a devastating hit and run accident.  Prior to the accident he was someone who defined himself by his physical ability…to run, to coach…to just do and now it’s a struggle to just walk.  In these two amazingly complicated and damaged men, Jensen brings about both redemption, recovery, hope, love, and, finally an emotionally triumphant future.  All done within a realistic, adult plot with the expectant struggles, arguments, and hurdles to overcome.  What a joy to read!

Threaded through this romance is the series foundation that features, in this case, not a family house or lodge but a bar that needs saving because the historic structure is slated to   be  sold to a developer in town.  This is an ongoing battle in this series, as the developer has made an appearance in a previous story and I expect to see them again  in future novels.  How it all plays out I will leave out to each reader to discover for themselves.  It too is a rich, multidimensional element of this story, just as I would have expected from someone who clearly loves her old structures as much as this author does.

In fact, there are several other floating storylines here that will capture your heart, along with the characters that go along with them.  There are no people here that I could honestly consider “supporting” cast because each feels so meaningful to the town and each other.

It’s like that with each and every story here.  For me they build on each other with their relationships, their place in the town, and in each other’s lives.  This is one series I would go around waving at people, recommending the hell out of it because it’s just that great.  Start with the first one and work your way here.  Get to know the town and its people.  Love them as I do.  Then you will know why I highly recommend this story, this series, and it’s author.  And do the same.

Cover Art:  Natasha Snow.  It matches the other novels in the series in style and element perfectly.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 333 pages
Published December 10th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 139781626498426
Edition Language English

Series This Time Forever 

Building Forever

Renewing Forever

Chasing Forever

Kelly Jensen on Characters, Animals Comparisons and her new release ‘Chasing Forever (guest blog and giveaway)

Standard

Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) by Kelly Jensen
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: Natasha Snow

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kelly Jensen on tour with her latest novel, Chasing Forever.  Welcome, Kelly.

✒︎

If You Could Be Any Animal by Kelly Jensen

This post is another in a series I’ve written for all three books of the This Time Forever trilogy. To recap, in Building Forever, I decided that Charlie was most like a golden retriever and Simon wouldn’t mind being associated with a rare leopard. For Renewing Forever, Frank still hasn’t forgiven me for comparing him to an otter, but Tom said it first. For his part, Tom’s quite pleased with the choice of coyote. So what about Brian and Mal?

Mal’s actually pretty easy. I had his animal pinned down month ago. Easily, he’s a St. Bernard. To begin with, it was a bit of a whimsical choice. I sort of pictured Mal (in St. Bernard form) racing to the rescue of someone (probably Brian), barreling over a mountain landscape, never flagging, tongue lolling, handy little keg of something warm bouncing from his collar.

What? I’m a writer. I have a very active imagination. Also, I might have been drinking whiskey at the time and it’s definitely whiskey in that little keg. Tell me you don’t immediately picture the little barrel hanging from its neck when you think of a St. Bernard.

What really drew me to this particular breed, though, was their temperament. The St. Bernard epitomizes the phrase “gentle giant.” They’re large, loving, puppy dogs. They’re patient and sweet. They’re notably good with children. Like all large breeds, they do need proper exercise and socialization, and that could be why Mal is such a grump at the beginning of the book. Active people don’t do well with broken limbs.

Mal has a twin, Donny. They’re fraternal twins, alike enough in appearance to be brothers, but in no way identical. Physically, they’re similar, though, and Donny is as much a St. Bernard as Mal. Donny is the one who’ll grab you by the scruff of your neck when you’re lying half dead in the snow and drag you back down the mountain to a cozy little village so you can be fussed over. (I feel another book idea coming on…)

Donny is also the one who’ll drool all over you as he enthusiastically licks you clean. Or just says hello. Thankfully, Mal is a little bit more restrained. Or just shy.

So what about Brian? I had to think long and hard about Brian because he holds so much of his self close. He’s very guarded, which is odd when you consider how social he is. My first idea for him was a cat, but that felt too easy. Also, Simon was a cat and I didn’t want to give them the same animal. I started thinking about more secretive, furtive animals, but they didn’t feel right, either. Brian isn’t small and he’s not shy. He just has secrets.

I briefly considered giving him my own avatar, the mythical creature I most closely identify with: the phoenix. He does transform during this story and in a way, he does pass through a veil to return from the ashes of his past. But it felt a little unfair to give Brian something so magnificent when everyone else got regular creatures.

Brian, by the way, thinks it’s very fair. But he’s not writing this post.

But he is a bird. A golden eagle. I did hesitate to use an eagle, because they’re notably monogamous, or mostly so. But Brian is human, first of all, and not solely driven by the imperative to mate (not for the purpose of offspring, anyway). Secondly, he does desire just one partner. He’s not polyamorous, he’s just… not settled. His domestication starts the very minute he finds his nephew on his couch, though. Suddenly, Brian’s home is no longer just a house. It becomes a nest, and he begins the process of making it a safe place for Josh. He’d already set his sights on Mal, and Mal is just the sort of partner he’s always needed.

By the end of the book, Brian is very much an eagle. He has soared—and he knows exactly where his home and family is, meaning he will always return to his nest.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts. It’s fun to be whimsical with my characters, and so often after I finish a book and particularly a series, I miss hanging out with my guys. These posts have been an opportunity to revisit them for a while, as well as introduce them to you.

 

Chasing Forever is the final book in the series This Time Forever. Brian and Mal’s story is special in all sorts of ways. Even though these books all standalone, Brian has been there since the beginning–as the character everyone loved to hate in the first book, and the character who seemed to have more to him in book two. In this final story, I share who Brian really is, and hope you’ll all come to love him as much as I do. Then there’s Mal, his other half, my serious soldier who has been waiting all his life for a challenge like Brian. Sometimes we have to be knocked lower than ever before in order to reach that high, and Mal’s journey is one I treasure. I hope you enjoy reading this story of redemption and learning to live out loud.

About Chasing Forever

Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.

Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.

Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.

But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

About the This Time Forever Series

Small towns and second chances.

Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.

This time it’s forever.

This series includes:

  1. Building Forever — released October 15
  2. Renewing Forever — released November 12
  3. Chasing Forever — released December 10

About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly:

 


Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Chasing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 15, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

Blog Promotion Tour – Why I Left You by Colette Davison (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

REVIEW AND BOOK TOUR

 

Book Title:  Why I Left You

Author: Colette Davison

Publisher: Smudged Ink Press

Cover Artist: Charlotte L R Kane

Genre/s: gay contemporary romance

Length: 72,000 words/234 pages

Release Date: November 7, 2017

 

Blurb

Jamie is struggling with university, money and depression. The last thing he needs is for Brett—the guy who left him four years ago—to walk back into his life. Yet it could be just what he needs.

Ever since Jamie left him, Brett has been running away from commitment. But when he meets Jamie again, he’s forced to re-examine every aspect of his life.

Brett and Jamie are drawn back together by an undeniable spark, but unless they can come to terms with the past, their relationship won’t survive the present.

**Contains explicit language and scenes**

 

 

Buy Links ~ Available on KU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Add on

Goodreads 

 

Excerpt

Holy shit. Jamie was kissing him. Brett’s head told him to back off and walk away, but his body remembered those lips and how much he’d once enjoyed having them pressed against his own. His body wanted to lean into the kiss and respond with four years’ worth of regret. For a few precious moments, he let himself give in to desire. His heart hammered against his ribs, desperate to escape his body and reclaim what it had lost. His fingers tingled as he wrapped an arm around Jamie’s shoulders and held him tightly, his thumb making small circles on Jamie’s shirt.

Then his brain kicked into gear again. What the fuck was he doing? This was the guy who had ripped his heart out in the worst possible way. Besides, Jamie was clearly at least half-gone. What they were doing was a mistake at best.

He pulled away, breathing heavily as he stared at Jamie, whose pupils were blown wide.

“You’re drunk,” Brett said in the most matter-of-fact tone he could manage.

Jamie curled his upper lip and turned away, shaking his head. It was dumb for Brett to follow him, but he did it anyway. They’d been best friends long before they’d realised they were attracted to each other. Brett had always looked out for Jamie, back when they’d lived next door to each other. Those instincts kicked in.

“Let me walk you home.”

Jamie stopped and rounded on him, fists clenched, teeth gritted. “Don’t pretend you give a shit.”

 

About the Author

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairy tale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website 

Facebook 

Twitter

Bookbub

 

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEW AND BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

DECEMBER 16

Books Laid Bare Boys  REVIEW

Tangents and Tissues   

The Day Before You Came

Millsy Loves Books

DECEMBER 17

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

MJ’s Book Blog and Reviews  

Stories That Make You Smile    

DECEMBER 18

Louise Lyons

Lily G Blunt

DECEMBER 19

BFD Book Blog  REVIEW

Nell Iris  www.nelliris.com

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words  REVIEW

DECEMBER 20

Sur l’étagère, derrière la sirène en plastique  REVIEW

Love Unchained Book Reviews REVIEW

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

DECEMBER 21

Drops of Ink

MM Good Book Reviews REVIEW LATER

DECEMBER 22

Bayou Book Junkie  REVIEW

Blazing Zane Book Blog  REVIEW

MM Midnight Cafe   http://mm.midnightcafe.uk/mm/   REVIEW

Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog  REVIEW

~

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.