Release Blitz & Review Tour for Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks by Rebecca Cohen (excerpt and giveaway)



Length: 45,613 words
Cover Design: Brooke Albrecht

Neither of them wants to fall in love, but getting exactly what they don’t want might be the best thing to ever happen to them.

Mark hopes his boredom with his current job will be alleviated by a short stint in Basel, Switzerland. When he meets Steffen, who struck out on his own from an old-money family to establish an IT firm, Mark expects some fun, great sex, and a clean break when his job is done. The arrangement is perfect for Steffen, who has been content with casual after a betrayal—and has a taste for British men after attending university in the UK. But as they explore the city’s rich history and traditions, Mark begins to see Steffen as much more than a tour guide with benefits. If he isn’t careful, the trip meant to break the lull in his career might end up breaking his heart instead….


Mark had two and a half months left in Basel, and the idea of several weeks of no strings attached sex was as exhilarating as it was nerve-racking. It was the kind of offer his younger self would’ve jumped at—but he wasn’t that man anymore, and he wasn’t sure he could be again. “I wouldn’t say reticence.”

“No? Then perhaps my English is rusty, as I do not have a better word for it.”

“Okay, you’ve a point. But you have to understand that it’s not every day that an attractive man states so bluntly that he wants to fuck me.”

“Then the men in the UK are stupid. Or you are not mixing with the right type of men.”

Steffen wasn’t completely wrong. The truth was he had spent his university days shagging about, enjoying the writhing mass of bodies in the clubs and gay bars. At the time he’d loved the anonymous and varied encounters, but then he’d decided he needed to grow up and join the adult world. Suit, tie, steady job, and long-term boyfriend, with cozy Friday nights in and dinners for two, not body shots and glory holes. “I gave up clubbing after university. These days I don’t go to the type of places where men go to keep things casual.”

Steffen seemed to consider his response before replying. “So it would be the fleeting nature of our encounters that would bother you?”

“Possibly. I suppose my needs changed, and I wanted more than the emptiness of another hollow shag.” It felt like an important admission, something he’d never talked about before, but it needed to be said to explain why he wasn’t dragging Steffen out of the restaurant and back to his lodgings. “The only one-night stand I’ve had in the last ten years turned into a yearlong relationship. I hadn’t planned it. It just sort of happened.”

Steffen waved a piece of veal in his direction. “I cannot give you permanence.”

“I’m not asking for it,” Mark added quickly, and he meant it.

“What I am hearing is you are not against the theory of enjoying a few weeks of fun before you return home. But equally, I am not convinced you are fully in favor either. If you do not wish this, we will finish our dinner, shake hands, and depart as friends. You are not beholden, either way.”

Steffen wasn’t offering an anonymous shag. It wasn’t thanks for the fuck, now fuck off, but instead something in the middle. Mark’s love life had been in the doldrums since John left, ostensibly because Mark’s job had eaten away any free time and John had decided enough was enough. He didn’t have any more free time now, and that wasn’t going to change, which would no doubt annoy any new boyfriend, so why not take Steffen up on his offer? He picked up his wine and took a sip of liquid courage. “Throw in being my personal tour guide of the city and I’m in.”

Steffen offered up his wineglass in a toast. “I plan to give Basel Tourism Office a run for their money.”

Mark copied and took a sip of his wine. Never had agreeing to sleep with someone felt so formal, borderline making a business deal. But somehow it didn’t feel wrong; instead it was as though he was entering something that didn’t require constant renegotiation. He would know where he stood with Steffen. Sex, hopefully very good sex, if he was lucky, and he suspected Steffen’s experience might make up for his own rusty skills and help polish them up nicely. “Let’s hope I don’t find you lacking—I’d hate to leave a terrible review on TripAdvisor.”

“Oh, there are plenty of people who can attest to my abilities.” Steffen waggled his eyebrows. “I will give you my personal guarantee that you will not find me wanting—in any capacity.”

Mark skewered the last piece of meat. “You’re certainly not lacking in confidence.”

“Have you only just noticed?”

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here! We highly recommend it.

Author Bio

Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.




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Erik Swill on Characters, Personal Experience and his story ‘Too Many Temples (World of Love)’ (guest blog)


Too Many Temples (World of Love) by Erik Swill

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning

Available for Purchase at

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Erik Swill here today on his Too Many Temples tour. Welcome, Erik, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest story.



I am thrilled that my latest novella, Too Many Temples, is set to be published by Dreamspinner Press in June 2017. I’m also happy to have the opportunity to rant a little bit about myself here on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. And what better way to do so than to say just how dissimilar I am personally from the characters I write!

I have always found this curiosity on how much an author is like the characters they write to be odd. Usually characters are assumed to be manifestations of the author. Naturally, it is difficult for a writer to express him or herself without letting personal biases, prejudices and experiences flavoring the way we write. This applies even when creating a whole new world and a character that is supposed to be as far removed from ourselves as possible. After all, if the character is nothing like the author, then that means the act of penning this character used the author as the model in which to “other” it.

Many authors seem to be limited to creating characters that are based on themselves and follow a n event that happened in their life or someone close to them (or worse yet, something they saw on a Lifetime television movie and decided to give the story a queer twist to it). Some authors are good enough writers and have interesting enough lives that they can pull it off. Others less so.

I like to think that I have lived an interesting life as well! But I don’t like the idea of crafting a character based on something that happened in my life. I mean, I write fiction. Why shouldn’t I “make something up”??? I see that as a sort of standard for fiction writing anyhow. Write fiction, not your life story with different names for the characters.

Writing under other names, I have had readers (sometimes scarily so!) grill me to find out just how similar the protagonist and his actions are to my own life. I love it if readers enjoy the character I’ve written, but I never really understood the need to know how much it is based on my own life. In general, my stock reply is that the character is not based on me or anyone I know. I created them.

But … I also tend to write using settings and scenarios that I am familiar with. This is a blessing and a curse. Obviously, it reduces the amount of research I need to do if I already know the material and location(s) inside and out! But it also can be frustrating. If I do write a unique (read: crazy, off-the-wall, you’d-never-believe-it-if-you-didn’t-see-it) event into a story–something that I witnessed firsthand or something that happened to me–it runs the risk of being criticized for being unrealistic. A reviewer telling you that something that happened in your life that you inserted into your book isn’t realistic … when it DID actually happen like that in real life … well? [Throws slipper at laptop in outrage while cursing their ignorance] How else to respond?

But I digress. What I DO acknowledge is that my personal experiences very much so influence how I write my settings, scenarios and the characters’ reactions to the world around them. This is how I interpret the question “how much of you is written into your characters?”

I travel a lot. Sometimes because I have to but mostly because I can’t sit still for too long in one place. Call it a travel bug or some mental disorder–whatever it is, though, it works for me. Because when I travel, I am throwing myself into a set of scenarios that I would not otherwise come across. I’m pulled out of my comfort zone and need to consider how I would deal with the challenges that confront me. Later in retrospect, I can rethink my actions (or lack thereof) and reimagine how else I could have reacted in those situations if I were someone else … like one of my would-be characters. If one of those what-if scenarios sits well in my head, then a possible plot element is born or a potential character trait starts to develop.

Now I’m living in a country where I only speak a basic amount of the language. Ya, it’s still at a basic level from a complete lack of effort on my part. My bad. But while that limits me from some spheres, it also can lead to some pretty challenging situations. And that’s always good fodder for fiction. So while the specific turn of events or even content of the (failed) interaction are easily transferred to other cultural settings, the human element is very relevant. How did it make me feel when I really wanted low-fat vanilla almond milk in my coffee but the barista misunderstood what I had said and gave me low-fat regular milk instead? {Shock and horror] Still, that awkwardness in communicating across languages and/or cultures exists in so many different contexts. So I can, for example, apply my personal difficulty ordering food in one country and turn that into my protagonist’s frustration at trying to make a doctor’s appointment in another country where the protagonist and I have similar communication problems.

In my latest novella, Too Many Temples, the characters are from Australia and Bali (Indonesia), two countries that I do have a lot of experience in. They are also presented with the challenges of a potential long-distance relationship between two very different cultures–something else I have also had to deal with. Yet, the events in the novella are nothing at all like my experiences. Happily so at that!

All relationships have their problems. But when you add geographical, emotional, and cultural distance into the mix, it can get even more complicated. Especially when … oh, well maybe you will just have to read it to see how the characters handle this hook-up gone right, despite the mess it creates!


Looking to spice up his stagnant sex life in Brisbane, self-professed player Adrian takes a week-long vacation in Bali, anticipating sun, surf, and plenty of no-strings-attached hookups. He doesn’t expect his attraction to the tour guide, Ketut, to become an obsession. As he travels around the beautiful Island of the Gods, Adrian is startled that he might be falling in love after swearing off relationships for good.

When Ketut opens a window of opportunity for a real relationship in Queensland after the vacation ends, Adrian retreats into his life of commitment-free fun. Unable to forget about Ketut, though, Adrian strikes out to the rural Queensland town of Rockhampton to find the man of his desires—hoping he hasn’t lost the chance for true love.


“The sea here is both beautiful and deadly. The color of the water and the temptation to walk out at low tide to the base of the temple… but when the tide comes in and you are left stranded out there, the currents are strong and poisonous sea snakes swim here in large numbers. It’s odd that something so beautiful can also be so deadly. Many people have died here.”

“So it is better to avoid it completely.”

Ketut thought for a moment before answering. “No, Adrian. That makes it all the more important to visit. That people have died to see something so beautiful, so holy, makes this even more special. Sometimes taking a risk can lead to a life-changing experience. Or at least one that you will never forget for the rest of your life. How long will you remember this moment, Adrian? Right here, right now?”

Adrian had been staring into Ketut’s striking eyes as he spoke. There was a depth to him that Adrian admired, something that he would never know based solely on their first encounter. For a moment, Adrian wondered how many of the guys who had served as one-off fucks for him over the years also had something more than a tight ass to offer him. But the thought was short-lived.

Ketut leaned in and pressed his lips lightly against Adrian’s, pulling back slightly after a brief kiss. Adrian refused to let go. He pushed his face forward to continue what Ketut had started. He wasn’t done. The moment was too immediate to settle for anything less.

About the Author

Erik Swill is a professional editor and a cheeky storyteller. He has spent half of his life living abroad and half of that time trying to convince friends that he is not an international fugitive or secret agent. He isn’t. Really. But it probably doesn’t help that he writes under several pseudonyms, moves house frequently, and rarely posts anything on his social media accounts. He has published short fiction in Gay Flash Fiction and erotica in the Nifty Archives. With his longtime partner, Swann O’Hara, he coauthored the novella Wild Goose. Erik likes to write contemporary fiction but will try any genre once. Because why not?

Twitter: @ErikSwill


An Alisa Release Day Review: The Dusk Parlor (World of Love) by S.A. Stovall


Rating:  3 stars out of 5


Former soldier Hugh Harris is a “hāfu”—half-Japanese, half-American—and, after his father’s death, he returns to Kobe, Japan, in order to connect with his mother and her family. Confused and feeling out of place, Hugh finds work as a waiter at an upscale nightclub. The other employees, an odd and eclectic bunch, quickly make him feel at home, especially the bartender, Ren, and the club host, Kaito.


But the tranquility doesn’t last forever. As Hugh gets deeper into his relationships with both men, he finds they may have dubious connections with the yakuza in town… and when the local street leaders send their enforcers to the Dusk Parlor, Hugh, Ren, and Kaito may be in for a storm of trouble.


This was a nice story and the author did a pretty good job of explaining the thought process of those in Japan but I was still with Hugh in being frustrated in how those around him were thinking.  Hugh and his mother have just moved to Japan after his father’s death and he is having a hard time finding work and people who won’t judge him based on his heritage.  When Ren and Kaito give him the opportunity to work at the Dusk Parlor he is determined to show that he can be just as good as everyone there.


Ren is a complete flirt from the get go but we soon learn that Kaito and him have a secret little relationship going.  When Hugh discovers this he can’t help but desire them both together.  We see everything through Hugh’s eyes which makes understanding him pretty easy but it’s harder to really understand what the others are thinking as many in that culture are closed off.  There is a nice HFN ending with Hugh, Ren and Kaito and I can’t help but hope that Hugh will continue to bring Kaito out of his shell.


Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is a great and gives a wonderful visual of Hugh.


Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N


Book Details:

ebook, 86 pages

Published: May 3, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 9781635333978

Edition Language: English

Series: A World of Love Story

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Runaway (World of Love) by Nic Starr


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Dr Nathan Powell is ready to settle down near his family, and hopefully find the man of his dreams. He returns to the small coastal town where he grew up, but while life is simpler than it was in the city, there are also complications—like patients’ reactions to an openly gay doctor. And like running into Nate’s first love, Damien, an out-and-proud local business owner who is unwilling to be any man’s dirty secret. The reunion reignites old desire even while it stirs up Nate’s guilt over the way things ended with Damien.

When Nate’s nephew runs away, Damien accompanies Nate on his mission to find the young man. The drive to Sydney, and the search of the city, gives Nate time to reconnect with Damien—and to wonder if he made the right decision years ago—when he determined a future for them was impossible. Is a fresh start realistic for two men in their forties? But before he can ponder the second chance they’ve been given, Nate must locate his nephew.

Runaway is a short wonderful story of personal exploration and acceptance by Nic Starr.  Dr. Nathan Powell had his high school first love and steps out of the closet crushed by a bigot.  Years later he returns home, ready to settle into a practice and reunite with his sister and her family.  But that comes with all the old feelings he still hasn’t dealt with all these years and the man he never forgot.

I thought the author brought this stunted man to life. Perhaps not stunted but halted in some way.  He pushed parts of his past below the surface the better to cope and the author lets the reader see the whole picture of what that option has done to his life and his family’s.  Several believable elements start to break up Nathan’s emotional blockades.  One is his reuniting with Damien and Damien’s fresh outlook on their past together.  The second is Nathan’s nephew.

Runaway could easily have been enlarged.  The characters are wonderful, from the main couple to the secondary ones like Nathan’s sister and children.  Sydney and its memorable stopping points also acts  as another main character here as well.  It colors the story with its  own unique vibe and energy.  It certainly made me want to pack up and head out to visit as well.

Love to read romances with a special location in mind?  Here’s one with a down under heart I absolutely recommend!

Cover art by L.C. Chase is perfect.  I love this cover.  It works for the characters and storyline.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 86 pages
Expected publication: April 12th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635334101 (ISBN13: 9781635334104)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWorld of Love settingNew South Wales (Australia)

Nic Starr on Sydney’s Special Places and her latest release ‘Runaway’ (guest post and giveaway)


Runaway (World of Love) by Nic Starr
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase at


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Nic Starr here today talking about her latest release Runaway and giving us a tour of some of her favorite places in Sydney. Welcome, Nic.


A big thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today as I celebrate the release of Runaway.

Runaway is part of the Dreamspinner Press World of Love collection. The World of Love stories are “contemporary romances spotlighting the unique features, qualities and attributes of a specific country as well as the universality of love wherever it’s found.”

I’m using this release as a chance to show more of my beautiful city. Runaway, the story of Nate and Damien, takes place in the Australian state of New South Wales, starting in a small country town on the north coast where both men live, followed by time spent in Sydney.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour is the key focal point of Sydney and a lot of events take place on or around it. You’ve most likely seen or heard of the magnificent New Year’s Eve fireworks display that occurs each year, but there are a lot of other events that showcase the beautiful location.

Here are two of my favourite things to do around the harbour.

♡Open Air Cinema

For about 6 weeks during the summer months, the harbour foreshore becomes a movie theatre! A different movie is shown each night, preceded by dinner and drinks. It’s a beautiful place to spend a couple of hours as it overlooks the Botanic Gardens, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is my favourite event of the year: sharing a meal and a bottle of wine while watching the sun set, then seeing the huge movie screen rise. It looks like it’s coming straight out the water. And while the movie is playing, you can see the lights of the city.

Here’s a photo taken while the screen was rising before the movie started. You’ll have to agree it’s pretty spectacular!

♡Wine Island

My new discovery is Wine Island. Sydney Harbour is dotted with some small islands and they are available for events. Wine Island is an event where you spend the day tasting wine from a huge number of winemakers so it combines two of my favourite things – wine and a day spent in the sun. The day started with a glass of bubbles on a ferry as we were taken to the island. The theme from the TV show the Love Boat was playing in the background so it was destined to be a great day.

I hope you liked seeing a little piece of my city and enjoy experiencing a little more when reading Runaway.

If you’d like to see some more of my beautiful country, you can visit the following blogs who are hosting me during the Runaway release.

April 5 – MM Good Book Reviews

April 10 – Alpha Book Club

April 11 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

April 12 – The Novel Approach

April 13 – Open Skye Book Reviews

April 13 – Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews

April 14 – My Fiction Nook

April 17 – Love Bytes

April 18 – Divine Magazine

April 19 – Long and Short Reviews


Dr Nathan Powell is ready to settle down near his family, and hopefully find the man of his dreams. He returns to the small coastal town where he grew up, but while life is simpler than it was in the city, there are also complications—like patients’ reactions to an openly gay doctor. And like running into Nate’s first love, Damien, an out-and-proud local business owner who is unwilling to be any man’s dirty secret. The reunion reignites old desire even while it stirs up Nate’s guilt over the way things ended with Damien.

When Nate’s nephew runs away, Damien accompanies Nate on his mission to find the young man. The drive to Sydney, and the search of the city, gives Nate time to reconnect with Damien—and to wonder if he made the right decision years ago—when he determined a future for them was impossible. Is a fresh start realistic for two men in their forties? But before he can ponder the second chance they’ve been given, Nate must locate his nephew.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

About the Author

Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told.

Nic loves to spend time with her family—an understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a cherished Cairn terrier. Nic is a foodie and wine lover who lives in the city but is a country girl at heart. When not writing or reading, she is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.

You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.

Author Social Media Links


Nic Starr has brought a giveaway to celebrate the release of Runaway. The prize is a $10 Amazon Gift Card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Thank you, Nic!


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A Stella Release Day Review: My Paradise is You (World of Love) by Lucie Archer


RATING 3,5 out of 5 stars

my-paradise-is-you-by-lucie-archerWhen two very different men are stranded on a deserted island, will opposites attract, or will they end up killing each other—if the elements don’t get them first?

Marc Reed is an expert scuba diver and leads underwater tours of the infamous shipwrecks scattered around Bermuda. When a robbery forces him and his boss’s son—a man he despises on principle—to take shelter on an uncharted island, he might have to reassess his opinion of the spoiled snob.

Ian Blythe-Darcy II lives a life most would envy. He’s a trust-fund kid being groomed to take over his father’s empire of hotels and resorts. But it’s not a life that matches what’s in his heart. He’s in the closet and engaged to a socialite he doesn’t love, but he’s about to get a crash course in being true to himself—and maybe learn money can’t buy happiness after all.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

My Paradise is You is the first book I read by Lucie Archer, I’m always curious about new to me authors and the cover of this new release is really eye catching; that’s why I was very enthusiastic to read it, plus I enjoyed the stories in the World of Love series I read so far.

I quite liked My Paradise Is You, it was quick and light, the reading flew easily and although Ian is in the closet and engaged with Francesca, there wasn’t really drama or complicate situation, apart from the MCs being stranded on an island together for a week.

I adored how they bickered from the first time they met, the way they teased each other was cute and funny, and gave the novellas a little sparkle needed in a plot like this, pretty simple and granted. It made me more curious to see how it was going to be developed and how Ian and Mark would overcome they differences in backgrounds and lifestyles.

I particularly liked how the author chose for the main characters to wait and be back from the island before they have sex. As I said, Ian is engaged and I (and Mark) would have considered a betrayal versus his girlfriend is they acted on the attraction they strongly feel for the other on the island, instead, as the author did, of explain how things really are to Francesca. I appreciated this choice a lot and in my opinion made the relationship more real and believable.

My Paradise Is You is a lovely reading, it was pleasurable light and I’m curious to see what else Lucie Archer wrote. I definitely recommend it.

The cover art by Bree Archer is a winner, it’s perfect and I love all that blue. And yes, the model is pretty hot.

Sale Links




ebook, 97 pages

Publication Date: March 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635333423 (ISBN13: 9781635333428)

Edition Language English

Reece Pine on ‘In Your Court’, A Dreamspinner Press World of Love story (DSP GUEST POST)



In Your Court (World of Love) by Reece Pine
reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Available for Purchase at


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 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Reece Pine here today to talk about her release, In Your Court.  Welcome, Reece!

Hi and thanks for letting me introduce In Your Court, part of Dreamspinner’s World of Love series, which sees Californian college grad Ray in Vietnam for a week teaching basketball and English to elementary-age kids. For Ray, the chance to hide his (often) invisible physical disability while he’s far from home is a way to have a holiday from what he hates most about it, which is being unable to play basketball anymore. So although he knows that doing a lot of physical activity all at once is a bad idea, he plans to indulge himself for as long as he can until his chronic pain catches up with him.

Translator/businessman Xin considers himself a pro communicator – he takes pride in patching up communication gaps between other people, and is frustrated when he can’t help people fulfil their desires. Secretive Ray is a tough case for him to handle, but their shared interest in seeing Ho Chi Minh’s sights and in the Vietnamese language lets him scratch Ray’s surface and get him to begin to open up. The hard part is Ray already knows that communication is the key to getting what he wants, but first he and Xin both have to figure out what they want and can realistically have in a relationship and in their futures.

The inspiration for the book came from a weird, jealous, nostalgic thrill I felt watching a lot of basketball while being myself laid up with a condition. It’s one thing to fully understand the limits physical disabilities impose, but another thing to actually obey them, so I’m sure Ray’s not the first character (or person) to want to push such limits to their breaking point for the sake of enjoying a sport. The on-court atmosphere of a tense basketball game has a lot in common with the bustling, humid streets of Ho Chi Minh, so I jumped at the chance to set the story there, since Vietnam and Singapore (which is also seen in the book) are also incredibly scenic and romantic cities. I hope you check it out, or any of the other beautiful places represented in the World of Love series.



With a shot at happiness in sight, it’s no time to drop the ball.

A back condition ruined Ray’s basketball ambitions, but he wants one last opportunity to play before hanging up his sneakers. While volunteering as a coach at a special needs school in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, he meets Singaporean Xin, who works matching wealthy corporations with compatible charities. Xin helps the American navigate the local customs in order to see the smile Xin fell for at first sight, but Ray makes sure no one sees how hard it is for him to keep upright, let alone keep enjoying Vietnam and playing the sport he loves.

When Ray’s back pain becomes too great to hide, Xin accommodates him in Ho Chi Minh and in Singapore—and in bed. Ray wants to imagine a future for them but fears he’s damaged goods, and Xin’s obligations in Asia aren’t easily forgotten. Ray won’t be another charity of Xin’s, especially when Xin also needs someone by his side. Their romance will be cut as short as Ray’s basketball dreams unless he can close the Pacific-sized distance between them.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.



Gray dawn and blaring big-band music that sounds like it’s been filtered through three DIY crystal radios creep in on the draft spilling under our door. The electro-pop communist march song is an effective call to arms in that I’m up and swearing, just not in allegiance.

“Good morning, Vietnam,” Xin mumbles, rolling over on his creaking cot and snaking a hand under his thin cotton sheet to scratch his stomach. A pirated copy of The Quiet American, the kind of photocopied book I saw street stalls selling yesterday, sticks out from beneath his pillow. I loved the movie they made of that. Good Morning, Vietnam too.

I have six days left. Still in yesterday’s stinking jersey and slacks, hair damp with old or new perspiration, I peel myself off my mattress to start my usual routine of push-ups on the floor between our beds. In no time, sweat drips Rorschach splatters on the concrete, on which I try to focus rather than on the dude beside me moaning as he languidly stretches his body to its full horizontal height.

“Aren’t you energetic?” He sits up, head tilted to match his half smile, and lazily reaches for my shoulder. “If I sit on your back, will that help—”

Don’t,” I snap, wrenching straight up and crawling a step away. My morning voice rattles in my throat and in the heavy air, so I clear both with a cough before spreading my hands on the floor and recovering my rhythm within two push-ups. My lower back’s familiar ache is waking up too, but it has yet to seep into my hips. I shouldn’t have played yesterday after so long sitting in a cramped airplane chair. Not that it was that cramped for little old me, but it was too rigid, and I didn’t pace the aisle as much as I should have.

In the corner of my eye, I watch Xin quietly unlatch his hefty wheeled suitcase  to  extract  linen  shorts  and  a  long-sleeved  raglan  tee.  He looks comparatively casual today, but the outfit’s clearly styling. The cotton shirt is luxuriously creamy in color and texture and spills down his pale back as he dresses, eyeing me warily. “Are you against queer folk?”

I laugh. “When I’m lucky.”

Xin pauses, silent.

Shit. Did he just come out to me? Did I just come out to him? And did I imagine him calling me cute last night? Probably. “You’re queer?”

An automatic smile pulls at my lips. I stop doing push-ups at the count of a hundred and the sight of Xin’s calm expression probing my hard-to-hide relief. “’Cause I am.”

“Are you touch-averse ace or anything? Because I’ll let people know if you need. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

“No, I’m gay. You planning on making me uncomfortable?”

“No, I’m gay,” he parrots, preening his short hair with a black lacquer comb. I can’t tell its fine teeth from the shining hair it parts. “Just… that was a pretty strong shutdown to being nearly touched, Ray. This is Asia. Guys are going to touch you, no sex implied.”

Oh wow, after being possibly called ‘cute’ last night, I’ve been shot down before my eyes are even properly opened. ‘No sex implied’—well, at least I know where I stand with him today. “Is it an Australian thing too to touch up your… mates?”

Xin laughs. “Fuck, no. There it’s only cool for men to slap around butch, strapping athletes like you, especially when you’re panting and glistening.”

It takes me a second to get that the lascivious wink he hits me with is a sarcastic stand-in for ‘Apology accepted.’ He didn’t take my snapping personally. “Do even Australians get Australian humor?”

“When we’re lucky. Shower’s three doors down on the left. It’s a faculty one, but all the teachers who live here are housed in another block, so we don’t have to share it.”

“Except with each other,” I mumble into the tangle of clothes I’ve gutted from my backpack.

“Thanks for the invite, but right now it’s all yours. Mate.”

“I take back yesterday’s request. You’re the last person whose job it should be to rein me in for stepping out of line.”

“Then I’ll just have to do it for fun.”


About the Author

Reece is a human pinball who’s moved around the world 20-odd times in the last 15 years. At the moment she’s in Australia, ignoring her handful of degrees in law, science and other subjects in order to make things up instead. She loves genre-jumping when writing and reading, and seeing diverse characters appear everywhere, as in real life. Although she’s a big fan of twists and drama, good representation of genders, sexualities, and disabilities remains as important to her as ensuring all of her stories end well, because we all deserve a happy ending.

Social media links:
Personal website:

A VVivacious Release Day Review: In Your Court (World of Love) by Reece Pine

Rating – 1 Star out of 5
in-your-court-by-reece-pineRegan a.k.a Ray is in Ho Chi Minh City (a.ka. Saigon), Vietnam as a volunteer basketball coach at the Ho Chi Minh Central Crane School for a week. But this week is also Ray’s goodbye to a sport he has loved for too long but is now unable to play because of his crippling back ache.  So for one week he is going to play through the pain and when the week ends he plans to curl up and pay for it.  He has everything worked out but what he didn’t take into account was falling in love, unfortunately a distance as large as the Pacific Ocean isn’t going to be easy to ignore.
Have you read the blurb for this story? If you haven’t, read it, it is painfully accurate and also 80% of the story.
The book is written in a lingo which as the book is written entirely from Ray’s perspective translates into I have no idea why Ray thinks and talks like this.
This story is extremely disjointed and vague. It is so vague that  having read it I still have no idea what Xin does for a living, why or how Ray was in Saigon and also who both these characters actually are. I mean yes the story does inform us about these things but if you stop and think about it you will be completely befuddled. Let’s take Xin’s job for example he tells us in many words that he is a glorified translator but later on we find out that he matches companies with tax-deductible sponsorship opportunities, makes connections, talks to a lot of people and since he speaks multiple languages he translates for his father, but in all this mess of words I still don’t know in any concrete sense what it was Xin does for a job and how that translated in him being in Vietnam coincidentally on the first day of Ray’s stay there. Also if volunteers other than Ray had been there in Crane School, why the hell did they need a translator for Ray when they had managed without one before?
Basically the story seems to make no sense. Things seem to happen just because they are planned to happen that way and the strings calling the shots are not so invisible. I couldn’t for the life of me understand Ray’s motivations or what he wanted from life and that is despite being in his head all the time so it was almost impossible to get a grasp on Xin, he might has well have been an alien.  Also while Ray’s condition is one of the only things in this book that is spelt out, while the science made sense, I had no idea how the disease translated to Ray and his life.
One of the aspects of this book was the culture shock. The author talks about the differences in culture but the problem was that at no point in the story did the differences seem to end at no point in the story was there the realization that we are all just people no matter how different, in fact the differences just seemed to be building on till they became almost insurmountable.
The first half of the story which is the part in Crane School adds absolutely nothing to the story. The story actually doesn’t start till Ray’s obligations with the school are over so technically Ray and Xin fall in love over 3 days, the worst part is I would have accepted it if it was written in a convincing matter but yeah that never happened.
I just can’t understand why Xin and Ray fell in love. They have nothing together that would equate a good relationship and they have no chemistry. The first sex scene in this story is around the 60% mark and it was the slowest sex scene in history, the scene spans 10 plus pages and was just so boring, why, just why was this so long and so detailed. Unfortunately the subsequent sex scenes were no improvement.
One of the reasons I picked up this book was that I thought this book would focus more on the relationship between Xin and Ray and would centre around their decision to stay together despite odds and I was hoping we would get to see them take a leap of fate as they rearrange their lives around being together but that was a pitiful 5% of this book and the answer was a yes without any thought, planning, knowledge or understanding.
If you ask me just skip this book the only pleasure I got from this book was when I was pounding my frustration into this review. The characters are vague, they story makes no sense and the blurb reveals all there is to know.
Cover Art by Garrett Leigh. I liked the cover but the guy on the cover fits no description of Xin’s and I’m pretty sure that is not supposed to be Ray.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 120 pages
Expected publication: January 18th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635332249 (ISBN13: 9781635332247)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWorld of Love settingVietnam

In Our New Release Spotlight: I Love You More Than Pierogi (World of Love) by K.A. Merikan (author guest blog and excerpt)



I Love You More Than Pierogi (World of Love) by K.A. Merikan
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska




Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host K. A. Merikan, the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan.  Welcome to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Tell our readers about I Love You More Than Pierogi?


We’ve been thinking about setting a book in our native Poland for quite some time now, and the submission call for “World of Love” helped us come up with an angle 🙂 The two main characters are former high school sweethearts who meet after several years, and after the bitterness that resulted of their breakup, the reconnection is everything but smooth. Through those characters we explored two conflicting feelings many immigrants face – the longing for home and everything it stands for, and the unstoppable curiosity that pushes them to explore. Who knows, maybe one doesn’t have to choose 😉


Marek and Adrian dated in high school, but a bitter breakup led them to choose different paths. Adrian is out and proud while Marek is in the closet. Adrian embraces his eccentricity while Marek clings to a conservative image. And while Marek worked hard to build a successful life and financial stability by climbing the corporate ladder, Adrian threw caution to the wind and has spent the last five years backpacking across the world.

Now Adrian is back in Warsaw, Poland, but while Marek thinks they will have a hookup and have a blast from the past, Adrian is just looking for a place to crash. Worse still, Adrian turns up at Marek’s advertising agency for help with his outrageous new business venture, and if Marek wants to get promoted, he might have to work with the guy who broke his heart.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.



Adrian stirred the pierogi, and already his mouth watered at their scent. This was exactly why he learned to cook in the first place. “I worked in many kitchens for the charities I had connections to. At some point I got an understanding of the most basic processes, and the cooks gave me tips. Obviously, foreign cuisines do stuff differently, so in the end I started asking my mom and gran for recipes. It happened organically.”

“Don’t you think that people in Poland might not have the same appreciation for our food as they do for foreign stuff?” Marek asked but sat up straighter on the barstool to have a look at the pierogi sizzling in the fat.

Adrian frowned. “Don’t you? What do you eat on a daily basis? Burgers, kebab, and sushi?”

Marek nodded. “Yeah, the usual kind of takeout. I like pizza but can’t really have too much of it.” He patted his flat stomach.

Adrian smirked. “Oh, I’ll fatten you up if you let me stay here a bit longer.”

“That’s what I’m worried about.” Marek laughed and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked much younger and more relaxed without the suit on. “Though I do miss the traditional home-cooked food,” he admitted. “Frozen pierogi are not the same, and I feel weird going to restaurants on my own.”

Adrian watched him, stirring the food in the pan. He could relate to Marek’s words all too well. “You know, when you immerse yourself in a different culture, everything seems great. It’s all fresh new things, and it’s all delicious. I love spiciness, the sweetness of coconut milk, and I think frying spices before adding anything else frees the flavors, but that kind of food also gets old after a while.”

Marek raised his eyebrows. “I thought you were all about visiting new places and trying new things.”

Adrian shrugged. “Yes and no. It’s all exciting, but at the end of the day you want a steaming bowl of bigos stew with juniper sausage. The comfort food your gran served you after a bad day.” He licked his lips. “Slavic cooking uses a lot of pickles and sour flavors. I really missed that. And when I learned to cook, it was a cure for feeling homesick.”

Marek cocked his head and had more borscht. “Weren’t you too busy to feel homesick?”

Adrian finished frying and put all the pierogi on one plate, generously topping them with lardons. He added a side of rhubarb and carrot salad and sprinkled the remaining chives over the plate. “I don’t think one could ever be too busy to be homesick.” He stopped, looking at the pretty picture that was the plate, and reminisced about the past. “At some point your emotions become a bit stifled, so you don’t think about it too much.”

Marek smiled at Adrian… shyly? “These do look great.”

He reached out for the plate, but Adrian pulled it away and grabbed a fork, then divided one of the pierogi in two.

He picked up one half and blew air over the hot food, watching Marek with amusement. “You will be all over my project after you try these. It’s a secret recipe.”

“Oh? What’s it with?”

Marek’s smile widened, and Adrian was once again reminded of how nice it was to be alone with him, without the roommates or Marek answering e-mails late at night. It made him think[KM1] of Marek’s failed attempt to kiss him and made Adrian wonder if he would ever try again.

He stepped closer, still blowing on the morsel, and put the food against Marek’s mouth. The filling was slow-cooked goose meat with root vegetables, but Marek would have to taste it to find that out. “It’s a secret.”

Marek looked up as he took a big bite, and Adrian couldn’t help but remember how Marek had looked at him while he sucked his cock all those years back. As if Adrian was the center of his universe.

Adrian pulled the fork away and put the remaining food into his mouth, sensing the sweetness of the caramelized onion, which was a perfect addition to the herby meat and vegetables. He stepped closer until his knee brushed Marek’s. “Good?”

Marek nodded with a smile and his mouth full. “Oh, it’s delicious. The real thing. My mom tried to teach me over Skype how to make pierogi with mushrooms one Christmas Eve, and it was such a failure. The dough turned out useless.”

Adrian grinned, looking at Marek while moving even closer between his spread knees. He picked up another piece and fed it to Marek. “It does require the right consistency. You can’t get that just by following a recipe.”

Marek ate more voraciously by the second. “Needs skilled hands. I’m afraid I don’t have the touch for it.” He stared into Adrian’s eyes. “So damn good.”

Adrian chewed on his lip, sensing that familiar tingle in the tips of his fingers as he fed Marek the crunchy salad. So many memories were flooding his brain now, like latent electricity that was finally tangible. “I’ve been told mine are very skilled.”

Marek took a deep breath through his nose. “I might have even been the one to tell you that….”

Adrian’s mouth twitched, and he slowly turned around before casually sitting on one of Marek’s thighs. Anticipation was far more than a tingle now, and he looked Marek in the eyes as he ate a piece of pierogi. “I think you did.”

Marek put his fingertips against Adrian’s back. “Maybe the business idea isn’t that stupid after all.”


About the author

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are mistaken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.


More information about ongoing projects, works in progress and publishing at:

K.A. Merikan’s author page:



Agnes Merikan’s Twitter:



Follow the blog tour:

December 29 – MM Good Book Reviews

January 4 – Boy Meets Boy

January 5 – Open Skye Book Reviews

January 5 – The Novel Approach

January 6 – Love Bytes

January 9 – Alpha Book Reviews

January 10 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words