In the Spotlight and Giveaway: The Doctor Takes a Detour by Bren Christopher


The Doctor Takes a Detour by Bren Christopher

Riptide Publishing

Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Bren Christopher here today on tour for the new release The Doctor Takes a Detour. Welcome, Bren!



Hello everyone. I’m Bren Christopher and I’m excited to be here today to talk about my new release, The Doctor Takes a Detour. Thank you so much for joining me. During this blog tour, we’ll be chatting about the origin of the book, the research needed when writing a medical, and of course, all about the setting: my crazy home state of Florida. Please follow along as I go on this tour and comment for a chance to win the grand prize, a $25 Riptide gift card! The winner will be chosen randomly from comments across all tour stops.


About The Doctor Takes a Detour

An unexpected detour sets two men on the path to love and healing.

After being attacked by a drug addict, Dr. Josh Parker fled New York, his career as an ER doctor, and a failed relationship. Determined to start fresh, he takes a job as a concierge doctor to the wealthy older population of sunny Naples, Florida. Nothing to fear there. No trauma. No stress.

It’s a good idea that doesn’t last long. Traveling to his new home, he discovers a car accident and is forced to make a detour to render aid. There he meets sexy paramedic Ian Manolas.

Since Ian returned from the Army, every day has been a struggle to atone for past mistakes. The Glades Free Clinic is his chosen path to redemption. The people Ian helps are a world away from Josh’s wealthy clients though. Addicts, prostitutes, gang members: they all come to Ian’s clinic for help, not judgment. He’ll do almost anything to keep the clinic going, including roping in one reluctant—and hot—ex-ER doctor.

The attraction is immediate, but Josh wants nothing to do with Ian’s clinic. For them to have a future, both men must work together to find a path to love, while helping those who need them most.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

About Bren Christopher

Bren Christopher is a multipublished romance author who currently resides in Florida. Although Bren has always been an avid reader in every genre, it wasn’t until she discovered gay romance that the characters who had been content to reside in her imagination started insisting they needed a wider audience. She has a lot of fun helping her folks come to life, and hopes the reader has just as much fun getting to know them.

Bren loves to hear from readers, so stop by her web page at or keep in touch via Facebook at



To celebrate the release of The Doctor Takes a Detour one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 13, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave a way to reach you!

A Free Dreamer Review: Love Can’t Conquer (Love Can’t Series #1) by Kim Fielding


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

love-cant-conquerBullied as a child in small-town Kansas, Jeremy Cox ultimately escaped to Portland, Oregon. Now in his forties, he’s an urban park ranger who does his best to rescue runaways and other street people. His ex-boyfriend, Donny—lost to drinking and drugs six years earlier—appears on his doorstep and inadvertently drags Jeremy into danger. As if dealing with Donny’s issues doesn’t cause enough turmoil, Jeremy meets a fascinating but enigmatic man who carries more than his fair share of problems.

Qayin Hill has almost nothing but skeletons in his closet and demons in his head. A former addict who struggles with anxiety and depression, Qay doesn’t know which of his secrets to reveal to Jeremy—or how to react when Jeremy wants to save him from himself.

Despite the pasts that continue to haunt them, Jeremy and Qay find passion, friendship, and a tentative hope for the future. Now they need to decide whether love is truly a powerful thing or if, despite the old adage, love can’t conquer all.

There’s no doubt: “Love Can’t Conquer” was absolutely, utterly brilliant. I picked it up and couldn’t put it down, which led to a couple of nights with very little sleep.

In case the blurb isn’t obvious enough for you: This story is rather dark and quite angsty. It deals with past alcohol and drug abuse, past child abuse and a bit of mental illness (mostly anxiety, but also depression). There’s also talk about attempted suicide. If that’s not your thing, back away slowly. You won’t enjoy this book.

Qay isn’t easy to like. He’s really struggling with his life, but tries his damndest to stay clean and sober. That’s not always easy and he’s not always nice. The things he’s gone through didn’t make him a nice, mellow person. They made him distrustful and full of self-doubt. Still, he was a very interesting character and my heart really went out to him. Definitely not your typical romance hero and I liked that.

He doesn’t even look like your typical romance hero: He’s skinny, he’s got scars and he’s pale. But I believed Jeremy when he said he found Qay beautiful.

Jeremy has had a less troubled life. He did have his struggles, sure, but life dealt him a better hand than it did Qay. I loved him just as much as I did Qay. Both of them had real depth and had a unique voice that I enjoyed reading.

There was also an interesting collection of side characters, each with their own depth and a potentially interesting history. I can definitely see the potential for a sequel there.

The two of them were very different and yet it felt like they were made for each other. I immediately felt the attraction between the two of them and it was easy to believe their feelings.

I loved the way Kim Fielding handled the sex. The MCs didn’t just tumble into bed, overcome by lust, without any thought or discussion, the way it so often happens in these books. Instead, both MCs made a deliberate decision to wait and really made their first time together a special occasion. They took time to savour each other and I felt like the sex really added something to their relationship.

Aside from the romance, there was also an element of mystery regarding Jeremy’s ex. Some minor parts of that were a little bit predictable, but the overall solution was definitely not expected.

Qay and Jeremy had to really work for their HEA. There was a lot of stuff for them to overcome and they had to really fight for it. I often dislike endings, but here it seemed to fit perfectly.

The way Qay’s struggle with his addiction was portrayed was very realistic. It didn’t just all go away magically because of love. He had to work to stay clean and sober every day. Some days that was harder and some days that was easier. But the struggle never just disappeared.

The whole book had a rather bleak feel to it, with a dash of hope. Kim Fielding did an amazing job portraying both MCs’ doubts and insecurities and made it easy to get caught up in the story for hours on end, without realizing how much time had passed.

If you don’t mind dark and angsty, and want your MCs to really work for their well deserved HEA together, read this book. It’s right up there with the best books I’ve read this year.

It’s the first in a new series by Kim Fielding and I’m already looking forward to the next books.

Cover: The cover by Brooke Albrecht shows a lone figure standing in the middle of a bridge. It looks a little sad and forlorn and fits the mood of the book perfectly.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 260 pages
Published June 3rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634773217 (ISBN13: 9781634773218)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love Can’t

1. Love Can’t Conquer

Review: Illumination by Rowan Speedwell


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Illumination coverExhausted from his last performance on his band’s final tour,  Adam Craig, lead singer of the rock band Black Varen, returns to his suite to find it filled with his fellow band members and hangers-on partying out of control.  Adam feels burnt out and dissatisfied with almost every aspect of his life and now he’s had it.   Adam really wants to be back on stage, his real love. Plus, Adam is deeply in the closet, appearing to be straight because of his career.  Adam has always known he is gay but with a homophobic guitarist and Black Varen’s  fans to think about,  Adam has been forced to hide who he really is.  Now the secrecy and denial is wearing him down.  Escaping the party in a cab, Adam winds up hours way at a lake resort he remembered visiting often as a child.  It was a time and place where Adam had truly been happy.  Now its closed and the entrance chained. But a drunken Adam is not to be denied and he climbs over the chain and wanders around until he ends up falling asleep in a chair on the deck of a lakeshore cabin.

Miles Caldwell, a brilliant artist, lives in a cabin on the lake resort that his parents owned, now the property of Miles and his sister. It is the perfect place for an artist like Miles to live and paint.  It is also the only place Miles can live and stay sane.  Suffering from agoraphobia and social anxiety, Miles needs the isolation and quiet that the lodge and its surroundings give to him.  Unable to leave the resort, Mile’s only companions are his African Grey parrot, Gracie, his sister when she visits, and two old friends, a couple who help keep Mile’s grounded.

Mile’s spends his days illuminating manuscripts, often losing tracks of the hours he paints, consumed by the intricacies and tiny embellishments he creates for his masterpieces.  When Miles discovers Adam asleep on his porch, his first inclination is to call the police and have the intruder arrested.  But after introductions are made, each man is soon charmed by other.  Adam by Mile’s lack of knowledge as to his fame as a rock star as well as Mile’s gentle nature and idiosyncratic ways. And Mile’s? Well, he is enamored of just about everything about Adam, including his charm, gorgeous body and intelligence.

Before each man knows it, their accidental meeting turns into a two week romantic idyll.  Although each man tried to keep their affair light and complication free, just the opposite is happening.   When the demands of the band and his rock star way of life calls Adam away from Miles, can a man whose demons keep him trapped at home find a way to happiness with Adam, a man always on the run and still in the closet?

What is illumination? According to Webster’s, illumination is the act supplying or providing light to make something visible or bright. It is also the  manner in which an artist creates an elaborate decoration of the text of handwritten books with gold or, more rarely, silver, giving the impression that the page had been literally illuminated.  In other words, the page illustrated glows with light.   Rowan Speedwell uses both meanings of the word in her novel Illuminations to create a story that glows with its tale of love and redemption.

Speedwell has created two main characters, each a man carrying a darkness within them, both in need of love and passage to a happier life.  I loved both men.  The author has done a marvelous job making these men complicated real people, each layered with a variety of quirks, gifts, and oddities to their personalities.  And of course, each man also has his own individual demons to fight.

Adam is probably the most recognizable and even relatable of the two men.  He is a rock star tired of his fish bowl existence. He hates hiding who he really is, whether it is his sexuality or his love of the stage. Adam keeps both hidden and is paying the heavy price of denial with several types of self inflicted injuries.  He is using his best friend as a beard, having casual sex that later disgusts him and he is taking too many drugs.  Adam uses drugs to deal with life, not recognizing that it is getting out of control.   Rowan Speedwell paints a picture of an unhappy man who is self destructing with no way to stop it.

Her second character is astonishing in so many ways.  I never saw Miles Caldwell coming.  He is truly a unique creation.  Without going into spoilers, there is so much about Miles that will surprise you.  He is a artist of a very specific art form, one that is centuries old.  He illuminates text and he does so using the old methods.  He is brilliant in his artistry and known only by a small group of collectors and buyers.  His world is a much smaller canvas in all ways, not just in his artwork.  Due to his agoraphobia, social anxiety, and other issues, Miles has restricted his universe to his cabin and the lake shore in front of his cabin.  His companions have been winnowed down to his parrot Gracie, his sister Lisa, a lawyer, and two old friends, now a couple, who have known him since childhood.  And all contact with the outside world is handled either by phone, computer or by the delivery men.  It is a tight, small place in which Mile’s lives and feels safe.  And Speedwell brings the reader into Miles’ world gently and with an intimacy that makes us realize what Miles has both gained and lost in the hand life has dealt him.

Mile’s world is itself embellished by the secondary characters Speedwell creates to support him and shore him up mentally and emotionally.   Lisa is a heartbreakingly sturdy and loyal sister.  She has lost as much as Miles has, perhaps even more, and yet there is so much to admire about her.  Lisa is a well rounded creation and you will want to shed tears along side her when her pain and frustration gets too much and overwhelms her.  At little more on the odd side is Bobby and Doug, a  gay couple who have been friends with Miles for years.  Bobby, in fact, has been Miles  sex buddy with the complete approval of Doug, his long term partner.  With certain restrictions of course, because those sexual acts belong to Doug alone.  It’s a strange little arrangement that feels jarring to the reader and kind of pathetic in that is how narrow Miles’ life has become.   I understood the author’s reasoning in its inclusion but how you feel about this arrangement, whether you can accept it or not, might complicate your feelings  about this story and their friendship.

And of course, there is Gracie, the Congo African Grey Parrot.  As someone who has one as part of her family, I loved Gracie and thought the author did a  superb job of bringing the ACG to life in a remarkable way.  These are extraordinary birds with the recorded intelligence of a 5 to 7 year old child.  And given the right socialization and treatment act exactly as Gracie does.  So wonderful to see the African Grey as part of this story and this relationship, I loved it.

The art of illumination is such an amazing element of this story.  We learn about the types of ink, and how they are created as well as the calfskin used as canvas.  Every aspect of the products necessary for Miles to work as well as the history is included here. But it is done smoothly as part of the narrative rather than as a history lesson.  Through Adam and Miles’ interaction,  we learn about the types of illumination and the  intricate gold leaf work associated with it.  And as Adam is educated about illumination to his astonishment and joy, so is the reader.  This is Adam’s first introduction to illumination and Miles’ art:

Miles walked into the center of the room and pointed at the back wall. “That’s illuminated manuscripts.”

“Holy. Fucking. Shit.”

The wall was covered with framed calligraphy pieces. Adam had played around with lettering in high school art classes, but nothing even remotely like these. The calligraphy was a bunch of different styles that he supposed were historical, and they were beautiful, but the painting that decorated the pieces was amazing. What looked like real gold was interspersed with designs and foliage and flowers painted in deep, bright colors, layered and detailed. He put his nose up close to the glass covering one of them to look at the tiny brushstrokes showing the miniscule hairs and veins of a leaf no more than a half an inch long. “Christ on a crutch,” he breathed. “You did these?”

“Yeah. They’re samples,” Miles said carelessly. “That one you’re looking at is a reproduction of a fourteenth century Book of Hours—that’s kind of like a prayer book rich people carried around with them in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.”

“Whole books of these?”




Adam stood back and craned his neck to see the ones toward the ceiling. Those didn’t have as much gold—one didn’t have any at all—but they were even more intricate in the spiraling designs he recognized as Celtic. Others had amazingly realistic flowers and bugs painted so that they looked three-dimensional. One was entirely in shades of gray. The ones that had calligraphy all had the same text, that 25
started out “Lorem ipsum . . .” Some of them had the “L” ornately decorated, with pictures inside the letter of flowers or people or animals. “So this is like, what, your catalog?”

Miles laughed. “Yeah, in a way. I do have a catalog, both physical and online—I have a professional facsimile photographer take pictures of finished pieces.”

The paintings dazed Adam, already only semi-functional from the hangover. He turned and said weakly, “I need one of these.”

If you have been as lucky as I have to been able to see this work in person, then you know that its ability to stun a person with its visual beauty and astound with its intricate designs is realistically telegraphed in the scene above.   Its jaw dropping art and Speedwell not only understands that but is able to convey it through her words and characters,  an amazing achievement.  The author uses it as a metaphor for the light that Adam and Miles’ relationship brings to each man and their life, and their story is elevated further.   Like illumination, there are many stages and complicated procedures necessary before the final product is finished and will glow.   Speedwell delivers on that end too.

There are so many serious issues here for the author to address.  Issues of drug abuse, mental illnesses, family dynamics and personal growth that you might think that the story  would bog down under the combined weight of all these heavy problems and sometimes it came close.  But Rowan Speedwell also remembers to add in levity and light just when it is needed the most.  Whether it is in the reflected glory of Miles’ artwork or the comedy that is Gracie, the story swoops and climbs the emotional hills and valleys of the author’s plot with an agility that the heart can accept and the mind will enjoy.

For myself, the story works best with we are dealing with Mile’s and Adam’s issues in tandem.  Once the story removes Mile’s and his efforts at recovery from the equation to focus on Adam and his struggles with his fame and addiction, then an important part of the focus of the story is lost, not to be regained until Mile’s reappears towards the end of the book.  I wish the author had found a way to continue the equal treatment of both men as they are concentrating on their individual problems much in the same manner she  brought them together in the first place.  That would have made this story perfect.  As it is, it falters a bit towards the end when it stays on Adam and his efforts to balance his love for Miles with the reality of his life.  We need to have Miles there to balance out Adam as much as he does.  And when the story brings them back together, and the men find themselves glowing from their renewed health and love for each other does Illuminations really shine with its promise fulfilled.

Illuminations is a perfect title for this story that revolves around two artists in love. One, a man with a profession whose origins is steeped in ancient history and is consumed by the focus the small illustrations and gold leaf applications it requires.  The other man  a modern musician whose music is spread across countless stages, large venues and recording studios that carry his songs to millions everyway.  With these two diverse characters and their art, Rowen Speedwell delivers an intense and ultimately rewarding tale of love and redemption, one that I can recommend highly.   Pick it up and start reading.  And maybe once you are done,  head to the library or the computer and check out The Book of Kells and the art of illumination.  Prepare to be astonished and happy that the author incorporated such a magical art form into such a marvelous story.

Cover Art by L.C. Chase,  What a wonderful cover, perfect in every way.

Book Details:

ebook, 307 pages
Published September 30th 2013 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN13 9781626490529
edition language English