A MelanieM Review: Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun #2)

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 Ben Rider and Nikolas Mikkelsen learn that danger comes in all shapes and sizes and often in places you least expect it.

Conscious Decisions of the Heart civIn order to appease an ex friend and covert op whose been hunting Nikolas and Ben, Nikolas heads back to Russia and his past on an errand of mercy, leaving an uncertain Ben  behind with Radulf.  Left at loose ends and missing  Nikolas terribly, Ben lights out on his own, this time to Denmark to learn Nikolas’s language and visit some of the places where Nikolas grew up. Soon Ben settles in, making friends in the small town and become prolific (or so he thinks) in Danish.  Alone and certain that Nikolas is in danger in Russia, Ben doesn’t see the enemy that is much closer to home to the peril of them all.

And when the danger explodes, it leaves them all, including Nikolas, permanently scarred and forever changed.

What an amazing series!  With Conscious Decisions of the Heart, John Wiltshire manages to give his readers a frightening mystery, a suspenseful drama, a heartbreaking romance and an exploration of the island of Aeroe, in Denmark (an excellent reason to google what is said to be one of the most beautiful spots in Denmark), all these things rolled into one gripping tale of love, passion, and suspense.

That cover alone is a clue this is not a story for the faint of heart.  Picking up after Love is a Stranger, both Ben and Nikolas find themselves in uncertain times, their previous lives in shambles and, for the first time, trying to be honest with each other about their feelings and new relationship.  But with these two complicated men who have secrets the way other men have tee times, the past is never completely out of the picture.  It will cause Nikolas to travel to Russia on their behalf so he and Ben may feel safe as well as to find some measure of closure in a relationship from his past.

Wiltshire does such an excellent job with these characters.  Already beautifully fleshed out and believable, he continues to build layers upon layers into each of their personalities and histories, peeling away some traits to reveal others lying just underneath, a pattern that continues with each man’s history and background.  Just when you think you might have some idea of how a character will behave or where he comes from, Wiltshire demolishes that bit of certainty with an astonishing new fact or shocking denouement!

And no, I absolutely won’t go into any of that here.  Sacrilege, indeed.

Conscious Decisions of the Heart feels like a magician’s act, full of sleight of hand tricks that lull you into thinking you know where the dangers are to be found and that you have a handle on the plot, all while the feature illusion has been forming and explodes with a ferocity you didn’t foresee (and neither do the characters).    And there is more than one.  It takes your breathe away.  And every aspect of this story is so well written and plotted, it just works! I loved all the action and adventure and, yes, shear terror, that the author brings to this story.  And some will break your heart.  Really, John Wiltshire, how could you do that to….sigh.

But what is equally astonishing is that while all the major elements are in flux, Ben and Nikolas become steadier, more committed to each other and their relationship. You watch the progress, the small and large steps, and your commitment to these men and their story just gets deeper. How I love this series.

I would have given this book a 5 star rating (it deserves it) but it definitely can’t be read on its own.  Part of the power (and Wiltshire’s puzzle in the making) comes from reading all parts in the order they were written.  Each book continues to build on the  previous story and without some of the back knowledge, balancing and understanding all these pieces and personalities becomes problematic.    So, if new to the series, run, lope, gallop, whatever, back to Love is a Stranger, then move onto to this story.  I am one step ahead and more books (and reviews) will be coming!  Join me along the way!

This is seriously addictive stuff here, and one of my highly recommended reads!

Cover Art by Deana Jamroz is terrifying, stark, and absolutely perfect for this story.  Be Warned, then continue on!

Sales Links:  MLR Press LLC     All Romance (ARe)        Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 3rd 2014 by MLR Press
ISBN 1020140265
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.mlrbooks.com
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #2

More Heat Than the Sun Series Books in the Order they were written and should be read:

Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1)
Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun #2)
The Bridge of Silver Wings (More Heat Than the Sun, #3)
This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun, #4)
The Bruise Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun, #5) coming soon

Down Under Winner Announcements!

Standard

Leather & Lace cover

 

Black Dog-2Cutting Out 450x675A Royal Affair cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winner Announcements for our Down Under Author Showcase Giveaways!

 

Yesterday, we announced the Down Under Scavenger Hunt Winners.  Today we are starting with the winners of our Author Contests:

 

John Wiltshire’s Contest:   Sula Holland

John Terry Moore:  3 books, 3 winners:   Suze, Sula, and Ardent eReader

A. B. Gayle:  Shirley Ann Speakman

Lisa Henry:  Amber A.

Meredith Shayne:  Jbst

Mark Cooper versus America cover

 

 

Congratulations to all!  They have been notified!  More tomorrow!

A MelanieM Review: Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1) by John Wiltshire

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Loving a total stranger can be very hard work sometimes.

Love is a Stranger coverEx-SAS soldier Ben Rider falls in love with his enigmatic married boss and secret lover Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen.  It was supposed to be only an affair of lust not of the heart.  Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen isn’t what he seems and one explosive event shatters the lie that Nikolas has been living. It’s a lie so profound that when the shadows are lifted, Ben realises he’s in love with a very dangerous stranger. Ben has to choose between Nikolas and safety, but sometimes danger comes in a very seductive package.

John Wiltshire’s Love Is A Stranger is a packed full, suspenseful tale of betrayal, danger, and lies.  The first story in Wiltshire’s More Heat Than The Sun series, it introduces us to the main players in this convoluted tale of secret identities and a struggle for love.  First there is Ben Rider, ex-soldier, cold, determined and fierce.  Ben is model gorgeous and black samba deadly.  He’s been having a supposedly “sex only” affair with his married,upper echelon boss, Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen.  A member of high society, at home in the fox hunting fields as well as the powerful political draw rooms, Nikolas draws Ben in with his intelligence, attractive body and a personality that seems to change with the light.    Wiltshire’s characters are layered, complex, and never exactly what you think they are,  each more Rubik’s Cube than solid persona.   Just when you (and Ben) think you have a handle on who and what Nikolas is and does, a bullet or something worse shatters that picture permanently.

I loved the myriad plot layers built into this story of suspense, love, and, yes, revenge.  Like Alice throwing herself down a warped rabbit hole, the twists and turns can’t be seen, only appreciated after the fact.  One fact is revealed or violent episode occurs, and you think, hmmm…I should have seen that one coming.  But you don’t.  And that immediately amps up the anticipation for the next turn or shock that is sure to come. This story is full of them, each better than the last.

Sexy?  Definitely.  Remember, this starts as an affair of lust not love, however, it ends up.  Only it doesn’t end.  In fact, this story has a bit of a cliffhanger.  Some or most might not be too happy about that but definitives in any aspect are not to be expected here.  Any foundations that exist under each man and their growing relationship is as fluid and safe as mercury.   The only sure thing is their love for that shaggy hound, Radulf, that was obtained from a shelter under dubious conditions.  I love Radulf and he helps to cement the idea that these two men might have any future between them as his addition helps to give an air of normality (perhaps the only one) to Nik and Ben.

I can’t get enough of this wild and dangerous couple and am moving on to the next stories in the series.  I hope you join me along with way.  If you love suspense and action/adventure to go along with your sexy men, this is the story and series for you.

Cover Artist: Michelle Cary.  It’s dark,  a little hard to see.  I wish there were more elements to it from the story itself. That would include the charismatic Radulf.

Sales Links:  MLR Press LLC       All Romance (ARe)       Amazon              Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook
Published 2014 by MLR Press LLC
original titleLove is a Stranger
ISBN 1020140242
edition languageEnglish
seriesMore Heat Than the Sun #1

Books in the Series:

  • Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than the Sun #1)
  • Conscious Decisions of the Heart (More Heat Than the Sun #2)
  • The Bridge of Silver Wings (More Heat Than the Sun, #3)
  • This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun, #4)
  • The Bruise Black Sky (More Heat Than the Sun, #5) coming soon

A Sammy Review: A Royal Affair by John Wiltshire

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Perhaps if I had listened more closely, I would have heard them all whispering his name. For it is his name I hear still in my nightmares and in my waking dreams. It is the everyday hum of my new life in this vast country. But it began there, on that ship, in the sense of longing in my heart. Even my heartbeat murmured his name.

I should have listened more closely.

A Royal Affair coverDoctor Nikolai Hartmann earns a reputation for himself after saving a wealthy man from evil poisons. That reputation summons him to a faraway land, to save a king who has presented similar symptoms, leaving him entertaining death. On his way to the king, he encounters despair unlike anything he’s seen before. Villages are impoverished, suffering is suffocating to all those who pass, and the cruelty is unbearable to an outsider like Nikolai.

One night, after witnessing particular horrific events, he is met by men that are camouflaged by the forest. Little does he expect to encounter them later on in his travels, or for one of them to be a Prince – the son of the very same king on his death bed.

Through poison, wars, and death, Aleksey and Nikolai come together, too entwined to ever separate again.

I was filled with searing, bitter, exalting, joyous, but awful knowledge that I loved Aleksey. I loved him as a man should love a woman. I wanted him as a man should want a woman.

But love, in my experience, was something that left you weak and vulnerable and near to death.

Some books have a plot, and yet have very little happen. This isn’t a fault of the book, merely the style. There are no explosions or great, tragic events. Just a simple story of life. This is not one of those stories. You will find all of these things in A Royal Affair, all of them in spades. Just when you think you’ve mounted the worst, more comes crashing down, sometimes quite literally.

The book was, quite bluntly, packed to the brim with events. And for the most part, it worked in the books favor. One thing can be said for sure, and that is that John Wiltshire is a master of words. Each phrase seemed to be delicately stringed together, like the author sat quietly and thought carefully about how one word would look next to the other. It’s beautiful, and especially in moments of depicting war, it was breathtaking. Death is ugly, and these words colored it in a beautiful and equally horrifying way.

It was, of course, not without its faults. For one, we met Mark in the beginning and unless I totally missed something happening to him, we never really heard of him again – just maybe two brief mentions after the actual meeting. I would’ve liked to know more about him, as all Aleksey’s other friends were wonderfully crafted and incredibly intriguing.

Also, I found that there were points in this where the book just felt so far beyond its 250 pages, and not necessarily in a good way. Had I not been so far enveloped in the story, I think it would’ve weighed far more heavy on me and made me become anxious to finally finish. If someone reads this and isn’t as interested in the nuances of a historical novel, I can see them easily growing bored with it. I, for the most part, did not, though I did feel its length, particularly at the beginning of the war section of the story.

One other thing that irritated me was the fade to black that we had for the first scene with actual penetration. There was a finger – and then just a brief summary that the night was most joyous. I’m greedy, I know this, but I wanted details. I suppose when you get to the end, it may make more sense as to why parts of the story were told as they were – simply through words and not actual dialogue between characters (these parts did coincide with the parts that began to feel a bit too lengthy to me, so that may speak to why those parts became particularly tedious).

Nevertheless, A Royal Affair is beautifully crafted and certainly a journey worth taking. I loved seeing not just a particular day or month in a characters life, but what truly felt like an entire, whole chapter of their life. This felt like I knew the characters for years, which was quite lovely. There is no doubt that I will be reading more by John Wiltshire, especially with the poetry he creates through the simplest of words.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is simply but perfect for the story. It doesn’t need any intricate cover with two men embracing or something that is commonly seen. The sword speaks for itself, and it makes for a striking first impression.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback       All Romance (ARe)        Amazon      Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published September 8th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish

Down Under Showcase Author: John Wiltshire

Standard

STRW down Under Banner sm Hearts

Radulf John Wiltshire Avatar

Meet John Wiltshire!

John Wiltshire is the prolific author of the More Heat Than The Sun series and other listed below.

To get to know John Wiltshire a little better, the author agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍Author Bio 1

John spent twenty-two years in the military, perfecting the art
of looking busy whilst secretly writing. He left as a senior officer
when his tunnel was ready for use. He is now living in New
Zealand until he can raise enough money to leave. Although he
has no plans to return to the army, he can occasionally be caught
polishing his medals.

 

Author Contacts

 

Website: http://www.johnwiltshire.co.nz
Blog: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8253345.John_Wiltshire/blog
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JohnWiltshireNZ
Facebook Author Page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Wiltshire/410956219051997
GoodReads: John Wiltshire’s Fan Club on Goodreads – join here!

********************Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Love is a Stranger coverConscious Decisions of the Heart civThe Bridge of Silver Wings coverThis Other Country

 

 

 

 

Genre(s):
More Heat Than the Sun is contemporary thriller/romance
A Royal Affair is historical romance
Catch Me When I Fall is fantasy romance

Catch Me When I FallA Royal Affair cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

********************************************

Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, John Wiltshire) is an eBook copy the reader’s choice of the author’s backlist. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green . John’s Question: Where did Nik and Ben find Radulf?

Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

******************************Author Qand A

Q When did you start writing?

I started writing for publication last year, so it’s been a very busy year!

Q.Were you a reader as a child?

Absolutely. I have a degree in English literature and I am the sort of guy who always has a book on the go. Since I got a kindle a couple of years ago I usually have half a dozen or more being currently read. I miss proper books though.

Q.What books as a child has the most impact on you?

The Famous Five. I wanted Timmy (for those of you not versed in such lofty literature, Timmy is a dog. I thought I’d better clarify).

Q. Did that impression carry over into adulthood when you started writing?

Yes, he’s now called Radulf, and he’s a bit of a star of my books. He seems more popular than the humans.

Q. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Many of my characters are ex-army, so that’s always a huge source of inspiration. Spirit of place is important to me, too. I’ve lived all over the world whilst serving in the army, and I like to bring exotic locations (is the taiga in Russia exotic?) into my stories.

Q. Do you have a favourite character that you have written?

I would have to say Nikolas Mikkelsen from the More Heat Than the Sun series. He’s so much fun to write. Also, there’s a new character coming up in Book 5 called Miles Toogood. I have a huge wellspring of love for Miles.

Q. Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)?

“Be the change you want to see”. I was going to put “kill them all and let God sort them out”, but I’m trying to be more PC.

Q. Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?

I’ve been an adult a very long time, so that’s impossible to answer. World War Z stands out as a bit of a winner, I guess.

Q. Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?

Not at all. I have to wait until I hear the voices in my head (only kidding).

Q. What inspired you to write your first book?

The voices in my head.

Q. What’s the hardest part of writing your books?

People not reading them.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?

I might have made Nikolas younger. By Book 7 he’s 48 and he’s really, really pissed about being nearly 50.

Q. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor or has the biggest influence on you?

Josh Lanyon in his Adrien English series. I would offer that series up against any detective series, straight or gay. It deserves a much wider audience. I love Adrien’s dry wit and Josh writes beautifully.

Q. What book are you reading now?

I’m actually reading Lucifer’s Hammer. I love apocalyptic novels and have pretty much read them all. This is one I’ve struggled with, so I was very evil and skipped to where the damn comet actually struck the earth.

Q. How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?

That’s hard for me to say as I’m English and squatting here like a stray migratory bird, but there is definitely a spirit of place in the Kiwi novels I’ve read. The land informs the plot. But then my novels are often set in and around Dartmoor in England, and there is nowhere in the world more beautiful than Dartmoor.

Q. My first impression of AUS/NZ was from stories and novels like Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds or Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice as well as from movies like The Man from Snowy River, The Dish, Rabbit Proof Fence, Strictly Ballroom, and yes, Crocodile Dundee! There are so many out there. What is your favorite AUS/NZ stories and favorite Australian/New Zealand movies?

Uncle’s Story by Witi Ihimaera is one of the best books I’ve ever read and very inspiring. I also really enjoyed The Colour by Rose Tremain. I love Australian cinema and recently saw Guy Pearce in The Rover, which was amazing in a bleak way. Manu Bennett is one of my favourite actors, as was Andy Whitfield.

Q. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

Dartmoor. It’s my spiritual home. If I lived a previous life, then I think I lived it on Dartmoor. It calls to me.

Q. What are your current projects?

I’m writing a novel wholly set in NZ about two men, both immigrants, who meet in very unfortunate circumstances. They are both straight, according to them, so that denial will be a lot of fun to work through with them. I have the three next More Heat Than the Sun novels finished and also the sequel to A Royal Affair with my publisher – Aleksey’s Kingdom—so I’m probably feeling a bit complacent about my writing pace at the moment.

Q What’s next up for you?

Back to England for Christmas! I’m off in two weeks for cold climes and darkness at half past three in the afternoon.

Q. Is there anyone you’d like to take this opportunity to thank?

Yes, thank you for asking that question, there is. I’d like to thank A. B. Gayle and all the guys in my fan club on Goodreads. They are a brilliant bunch and have really made the writing process a great deal less lonely and frustrating.

Down Under Showcase Day 9: Author John Wiltshire, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day and Contest Details

Standard

DownUnder_badge

 Day 9 – John Wiltshire!

G’Day!  It’s Day 9 of our Down Under Author Showcase and today’s featured writer is John Wiltshire.  John is the author of contemporary fiction, action/suspense, romance, and much more.  Check out his standalone stories and series along with our interview at the link above.  There is his contest to enter and Down Under Scavenger word to find.  Reviews of several of his stories follow his post.  It’s a full day so lets get started with our Australia and New Zealand facts of the day.

Since a dog figures prominently in one of John’s series and in his life, I thought I would include it in today Aussie fact.

Australia Fun Fact of the Day:

Dingo or Warrigal, Wild Dog of Australia:

dingo5
The origins of the dingo are obscure and there is much controversy. It is not truly native to Australia but is thought to have arrived between 3500 and 4000 years ago. Whatever its origins, the dingo was a highly valued companion to the Aborigines. They were hunting companions, guard dogs, the dingos kept them warm at night.

Some believe they were brought here on rafts or boats by the ancestral aborigines. It has also been suggested that they came with Indonesian or South-East Asian fishermen who visited the northern coast of Australia.

The dingo can be found in all areas of Australia – from harsh deserts to lush rainforests. The highly adaptable dingo is found in every habitat and every state of Australia, except Tasmania. In deserts, access to drinking water determines where the animal can live. Pure-bred Dingo numbers in the wild are declining as man encroaches deeper and deeper into wilderness areas, often accompanied by his domestic dog.

(Hmmm…did the dingo eat the baby?)
The dingo is different from the modern dog in several ways: it yelps and howls, but it does not bark, it has a different gait, and its ears are always erect. Dingos are naturally lean and they are usually cream to reddish-yellow with white points, some are black with tan points. An adult dingo stands more than 60cm high and weighs about 15kg. It is slightly smaller than a German Shepherd.

 

New Zealand Fun Fact of the Day

No Native New Zealand dogs. New Zealand has many unique native fish, insects, birds, lizards and frogs but the only native mammals are bats and marine mammals.

So onto other facts:

Caves with Stars – Glowworm Caves of Waitomoglowworm caves of newzealand

Tourists flock underground to visit the unforgettable Waitomo Caves in New Zealand’s Waikato region to see the glowworms (fireflies). The Waitomo River runs underground through the caves, which natural light cannot reach. Tourists take boat trips along the river, where there are so many of these tiny insects high above that it creates a night-sky effect, with groups of glowworms looking like stars.

glowworms

Down Under Author Showcase Continues and this Week’s Schedule

Standard

DownUnder_January Is Banner

Down Under Author Showcase continues this week.  It’s been wonderful to have all these talented authors talking about their books, and their countries.

 

So far,  Christian Baines,  Nicki J. Markus (2), and Anne Barwell (3) have been featured.  Our Down Under Author Scavenger Hunt has begun, along with the individual giveaways, and Bottom Drawer Publications contest on the Down Under Page.  We are still looking for people who have vacationed in New Zealand and Australia who want to share their favorite places and moments with us this month.

kiwi and NZ country

Our Schedule This Week:AUS flag over country

 

Monday, January 5:

  • Down Under Featured Author: N.J. Nielsen
  • Down Under AUS/NZ Facts, Updates, and Contests
  • A Sammy Review: Rival Within by S.J. D. Peterson
  • A Mika Review: In Too Deep by Kate Sherwood
  • L.M. Somerton’s Investigating Love Book Tour and Contest

Tuesday, January 6:

  • Down Under AUS/NZ Facts, Updates, and Contests
  • Down Under Featured Author:  L.J. LaBarthe
  • A MelanieM Review: The Body on the Beach by L.J. LaBarthe
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Candy Man by Amy Lane
  • A MelanieM Review: Mythica by L. J. LaBarthe

Wednesday, January 7:

  • Down Under AUS/NZ Facts, Updates, and Contests
  • Down Under Featured Author: Michelle Rae
  • Cover Reveal: Jess Buffett “Always Been You”
  • Moment of Impact by Karen Stivali Book Blast
  • A Sammy Review: A Spartan Love by Kayla Jameth

Thursday, January 8:

  •  Down Under AUS/NZ Facts, Updates, and Contests
  • Down Under Featured Author:  Renae Kaye
  • A MelanieM Review:  Safe In His Arms by Renae Kaye
  • A MelanieM Review:  The Shearing Gun by Renae Kaye
  • A MelanieM Review:  The Blinding Light by Renae Kaye
  •  E. S. Skipper (false identification)book blast and contest—cancelled

Friday, January 9:

  • Down Under AUS/NZ Facts, Updates, and Contests
  • Down Under Featured Author: John Wiltshire
  • Review: Love is a Stranger by John Wiltshire
  • Mika Review: A Captive to His Wonder by Remmy Duchene
  • A Sammy Review: A Royal Affair by John Wiltshire

Saturday, January 10:

  • Down Under AUS/NZ Facts, Updates, and Contests
  • Down Under Featured Author: N. R. Walker
  • A MelanieM Review: Red Dirt Heart Series by N. R. Walker
  • A MelanieM Review:  Red Dirt Heart 4 by N. R. Walker
  • Sammy’s Review of Thomas Elkins series by NR Walker

 

New Reviewers!  Welcome to Stella and BJ, our new Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words reviewers!