New Release Special! King of the Fire Dancers (Shift Happens #1) by S.T. Sterlings (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  King of the Fire Dancers

Series: Shift Happens, Book One

Author: S.T. Sterlings

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: Aug 14, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 89700

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, abduction, captivity, shifters, slow burn, enemies to lovers

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host S.T. Sterling here today on her King of the Fire Dancers tour. We have a author’s interview, excerpt and giveaway for all our readers to check out.

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~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with S.T. Sterlings ~

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

I have the habit of starting a WIP, and then just fizzling out with it, especially when self-doubt starts to rear its ugly head.  King of the Fire Dancers is the first full original story that I’ve ever written, so I’m really proud of myself for actually seeing it through to the end! Unfortunately, the inspiration behind it is a huge spoiler, so I’ll just say that the idea itself came from furniture we used to have in our house when I was a child, haha.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

I generally write when I can find the team. I’ve been saying that I need to get on a writing schedule for years. I used to write freelance articles, and I’m a horrible procrastinator, so I learned to write really quickly. Sometimes I’ll ask friends to give me deadlines, so that I’ll have something to aim for. Otherwise, I write whenever I can find the time to do so.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

In the past, I never used outlines. I never want to go back to that life, haha. I need an outline now. I lose sight of the finer details without one. Every now and then, I’ll search for photos or videos as inspiration. I love music, and I may use it to put me in the writing mood, but I can’t write while it’s playing. If I have anything playing in the background while I write, it’s usually a (bad) horror movie.

Normally, I let the words flow out, and then try to make sense of it later. There have been times where I go back to edit, and I have no idea of what I was going for, lol. Editing is super important, as is a great editor.

Where did the desire to write LGBTQIA+ stories come from?

I’m in the community, so I always feel more comfortable writing LGBTQIA+ stories. I think I’ve read so many strictly heterosexual romances over the years that I don’t really have it in me to want to read more. I want to read stories about people like me. We deserve to have our stories told, and our voices heard.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

Honestly, it depends on the story. My day job is a librarian, so I LOVE research. As for authentic voice, I think this comes from reading as much as you can in various genres. Also, pay attention to the people you interact with, and the world around you. None of my characters are particularly based off of anyone, but some of them may share characteristics of people I know.

Synopsis

When he’s propositioned by a wealthy stranger, it seems Coy Conlin’s impoverished life is about to be upgraded. But before he can share the news with his family, he comes home to find his grandmother murdered and his little brother missing. To make matters worse, he’s thrown in prison along with every other shifter under the Sovereign’s orders.

August Seaton left his laboratory job at the Asuda Registry to become a Registry officer. But after a mission with his partner goes horribly wrong, August ends up with Coy’s dead grandmother on his hands, and Coy thinks he’s the murderer. Worst of all, his partner discovers his secret.

August is a shifter. And now he’s Coy’s cellmate. Coy and August must survive each other, abusive guards, and a scientist hell-bent on forcing Coy into a breeding program.

Teamed up, the pair escape prison and journey across the country. With the Registry hot on their trail, they have enough things to worry about. Falling for each other wasn’t supposed to be one of them.

Excerpt

King of the Fire Dancers
S.T. Sterlings © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

There were two things that Coy Conlin was exceptionally skilled at. The first was dancing. The second, and more unconventional, was turning into a dragon. Both were in his blood and took years of trial and error to perfect, but the former wasn’t a danger to those around him. It wasn’t easy maneuvering a dragon body, especially not one as big as his. Dragons had claws, scales, and fangs. He even had the misfortune of retaining his proneness to seasonal allergies, which sure as hell took explosive sneezing to a whole new level. Still, thanks to his grandmother—a dragon shifter like him—he’d mastered shifting and everything that it entailed from a young age.

Like hunting.

His prey was a slender boy with white skin and blue eyes. The boy raced past, auburn hair catching the wind and blowing about his head. He scurried through the dried grass, his pale, gangly legs kicking up dirt as he rushed to hide behind a large tree. Laughter disguised as a growl escaped Coy’s mouth. As if a mere tree would provide the boy sanctuary.

Coy hated flying. Dragon or not, he preferred to keep his feet—and claws—securely grounded. But, humans were often smarter than they looked, and he knew that if he continued to creep along the ground, the boy would feel the vibrations caused by his heavy footsteps. And so, he pushed off, sharp talons grazing earth as he hovered above the coarse ground. His wings, as wide as sails on a cutter, pierced the air and sent forward a powerful gust of windblown, dusty dirt. He flapped them again, creating a mini dirt storm between himself and the tree and, most importantly, his prey.

A shower of prickly leaves and thin, brittle branches fell to the ground. Seconds later, the boy emerged from behind the tree, arms up and over his head, shielding himself from the downpour. Amidst the cascading debris, Coy caught the look of determination on the boy’s face. Wedged tightly in the boy’s grip was a rock, jagged and angled, the tip pointing toward the sky. A rock? Really? A puny, misshapen hunk of slate? What good would that do against a ninety-foot-long dragon with scales as black as onyx and five times as hard?

A rock.

The little idiot.

The boy let out a wail of a battle cry and charged forward, gripping the rock in his hand like a warrior wielding a sword. There were hundreds of ways Coy could have reacted, and most would have ended with the boy dead on his feet. Instead, he stood there, a beacon of massive power and pride, and allowed the boy to attack. He didn’t feel the impact of the rock smashing against his leg, though he did see the resulting blood. It wasn’t his. It would have taken much more than a rock to puncture his scales.

It was the boy’s.

The force behind the thrust of his hand had caused the rock to ricochet off a section of scales and created a shallow cut in the center of his reddened palm.

Coy had been specific with the rules—no blacking out, no crying, and no bloodletting. If any of those happened, the game ended immediately. And, although the human tried to hide it, he was definitely bleeding.

“No, wait. I’m okay. I swear it. I’m fine. Look. It barely—”

The protest fell on deaf ears—literally. Coy couldn’t hear—or see—anything during the transformation. It was as if he were alone in a black, soundproof room, nothing but darkness and depth and the feeling of endless falling. His heart rate quickened, slamming against his chest like a musician’s calloused hands pounding against a hand drum. He inhaled through his nose, focusing on the rhythm and physically and mentally controlling the pace of his heartbeat. He calmed his mind, grasping at emotions pulsing like lightning, smoothing them out until his vision began to return. First, blurs of colors: reds and browns and a single blob of white standing directly in front of him.

Then, all at once, everything returned.

“It’s barely a scratch,” the boy muttered, folding his pale arms over his chest.

“Too bad,” Coy replied, rubbing at his jaw. It felt good to use his vocal cords again. He was incapable of speech as a dragon, just limited to snarls and hisses…and fire breathing. That last one came in handy. “Rules are rules, Ari.”

Ari—Coy’s adopted brother—frowned. “You didn’t even give me a chance.”

“A chance to what?” Coy rolled his shoulders in an attempt to relax some of the tension in his muscles that came from shifting. “Find another rock? What was that supposed to do?”

He trudged away from his younger brother, crushing dead grass beneath his bare soles. He spotted his discarded sarong lying by a fragment of slate, the latter’s golden-brown surface highlighted with speckles of fiery red. The color was reminiscent of his own skin, warm brown with red undertones—the exact opposite of Ari’s. Even if Ari had somehow managed to slightly injure him with his dumb rock, the bruise would have been difficult to see. One of the many perks of having brown skin was that it didn’t display bruises well. Growing up, that played to his advantage with the number of fights he got into.

Ari pouted. “It was the only thing I could think of.”

“Yeah, well.” Nude, Coy bent down to retrieve his sarong. “That type of thinking is going to get you killed. Or worse, you’ll get your ass kicked.”

Ari rubbed his bloody hand against his sweat-soaked tunic. “How can getting beat up be worse than dying?”

Coy watched as the blood stained the faded fabric. Ari had already outgrown most of his clothes. What he had left was either tainted or torn. Coy would have to take up private performances at this rate just to make sure he could afford to buy Ari clothes.

“If you’re dead, you won’t have me around to rub it in.” He grinned at Ari and then motioned toward the open wound on his hand. “Better not let Dinina see that. You know how she gets.”

He wrapped the thin, cobalt-colored sarong around his waist, securing the two ends into a knot. They’d spent half the morning outside, which meant he’d spent just as long in his dragon form. He’d be exhausted later, but it was worth it. He always had fun hanging out with his little brother. Still, he felt like he was forgetting something.

And then he remembered.

“Shit!” he shouted, the sound so loud and sudden that it startled an unkindness of ravens perched in a nearby tree.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Ari asked, blue eyes wide with concern.

There were several things wrong, and all of them could be summed up with two words.

“The Registry.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

ST Sterlings is a librarian, and a mother of two (two boys, and one exhausting female GSD). She’s an avid fan of LGBTQ romance, and also loves the horror genre. She’s from Hampton, VA, but currently lives in Lancaster, CA.

Website |Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

8/14    MillsyLovesBooks

8/15    MM Good Book Reviews

8/15    Erotica For All

8/16    The Novel Approach

8/16    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/16    Drops of Ink 

8/17    V’s Reads 

8/18    Love Bytes Reviews

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Release Tour for The One Thing I Know (B-Sides #1) by Keelan Ellis (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The One Thing I Know

Series: B-Sides, Book One

Author: Keelan Ellis

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: Aug 14, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66600

Genre: Historical, romance, gay, bisexual, historical-1970’s, California, musicians, rock star, drugs/alcohol use, enemies to lovers, road trip

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Synopsis

Talented studio musician, Henry Cole, is offered the dream job of touring with popular rock band, the Vulgar Details. Things aren’t all rosy, though, as he is hired to replace Dell Miller, creative force behind the band, who recently flamed-out in a car accident.

Henry is all too aware that he’s no replacement for someone like Dell. He’s not the only one who feels that way, either. Terry Blackwood, band front man, has been giving him a hard time even before the tour start. He seems to resent Henry’s presence beyond all reason. What Henry doesn’t know is that Terry and Dell’s relationship was both intensely close and fraught with conflict.

Terry’s grief over Dell’s death is overwhelming and threatens to destroy not only the band but his life. It doesn’t help that the new member of the band makes him feel things he doesn’t want to. Worse, when he sings, Henry sounds just like the man Terry cared so deeply for.

With so much at stake, everything could come crashing down around them and mean the end for the Vulgar Details. Or, just maybe, Henry and Terry will find the one thing they need most.

Sometimes redemption comes from the last place you expect to find it.

Excerpt

The One Thing I Know
Keelan Ellis © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

January 1972

Henry woke up to the sound of the shower turning on in the bathroom down the hall. He got up and sorted through the clothes strewn around on the floor, separating his from his guest’s. The two pairs of white briefs were, unfortunately, the same brand and size, so he took his best guess and tossed one of them on top of the pile he was holding. He set the whole thing down outside the bathroom door and went to the kitchen to make coffee. He lit a cigarette and opened the window above the sink. The shower shut off just as the coffee finished brewing, and a few minutes later, his previous evening’s date appeared in the doorway. His name was Danny, and they’d been introduced by a mutual acquaintance. He was as cute as he was dumb, but Henry was fairly certain one night had been enough to satisfy his curiosity.

“Morning,” Henry said. “There’s coffee if you want it.”

“Thanks,” Danny said. He poured some into a cup and leaned against the counter. “Hey, I’m going to the beach later. You want me to stop by and pick you up?”

“Nah. I have work.”

“Oh, right. On the Details’ new record, wasn’t it?”

Henry nodded. He was slated to play pedal steel and Dobro on six tracks for the Vulgar Details’ upcoming album. It wasn’t the first time he’d played with those guys. The band counted on Henry to fill in the gaps whenever their songwriter and pedal steel player, Dell Miller, was off taking peyote in the desert or barricading himself in a hotel room shooting up with whoever he’d brought home that night. Henry had never met Dell and still thought of him as more myth than man. “I should get in the shower pretty soon,” he hinted.

Danny either didn’t pick up on it or didn’t care, and he poured more coffee into his cup. “You think it’s going to be a good one?”

“I think it’s the best one yet.” He rinsed his cup out and put it in the drainer. “I need to get ready. Thanks for coming over. It was fun.”

Danny raised his eyebrows at him, and his lips turned up with wry amusement. Maybe he wasn’t as dumb as Henry had thought. “Sure thing. You got my number. Call if you want.” He set his cup down and gave a little salute before he left. Definitely cute, Henry couldn’t deny that.

Henry got to the studio early and ran through his parts before the band arrived. The songs that Henry had learned for that day’s session were, hands down, the best work the band had done. The new songs were dark and personal, explorations of loss and hopelessness, set to some of the loveliest melodies he’d ever heard. The Vulgar Details had come so far from their beginnings as a brash blues rock band that they were almost unrecognizable. Henry had never thought of them as anything special until their third album, Heart’s Desire, was released back in ’69.

Henry had been lying by the pool at his friend Richard’s house, passing a joint back and forth with him, when he first heard that record. Henry was twenty-four then, and Richard was ten years older, with family money and a beautiful house he’d had built in Laurel Canyon. He threw amazing parties attended by young musicians and hippie hangers-on who were there for the free food, booze, and drugs. Richard didn’t care why they were there. He loved the beautiful boys and girls, the music, and the easily available sex. When he wasn’t partying, he liked having Henry around. Sometimes they fooled around, but Richard never made it seem like a requirement. That day, when he put on the new Vulgar Details record, Henry scoffed.

“I thought you had more interesting taste than that,” he said.

“You’re getting too old to be such a snob.”

Henry stretched and grinned up at him. “Probably getting too old for you, then, huh?”

Richard smiled, shook his head, and sat back down. “Give it a chance. You might be surprised.”

It started out sounding much like all of their previous stuff, but somehow better. Previously, their songs tended toward aimless, slightly silly rip-offs of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” or juvenile rock and roll songs about pretty girls. These were something else altogether. They dealt with love, anger, and desire—the subjects of most rock lyrics—but with a depth almost never heard in popular music.

“Jesus, this is great,” Henry said. “Where the hell did it come from? Did Terry Blackwood get a brain transplant or something?”

Richard laughed. “Not quite. They got a new member. Don’t you follow this stuff, working in the industry?”

“Must have missed that one.”

“His name’s Dell Miller. Actually, he was at that party you came to last month. Skinny, pretty, long-haired country boy? Walked around with his shirt open the whole time?”

“Oh yeah. I think I remember him. The girls were all over him. He wrote all of these?”

“All the good ones,” Richard said.

The last song on the album, “Traveling Abroad,” was the best one, and Henry insisted playing it three times in a row. It had an entirely different sound from the rest of them. It was almost a traditional country song, but the arrangement was complex and the lyrics made him want to cry. There was so much yearning in it that it was almost hard to listen to. When he left Richard’s house that afternoon, he went straight to the nearest record store to buy his own copy.

That was three years and two albums earlier. The Vulgar Details had only gotten better, despite Miller’s increasingly unreliable presence. The band’s sound drifted more and more toward the mellow country- and bluegrass-influenced style Miller had brought with him from Tennessee. A few of the blues rock numbers that were Terence Blackwood’s bread and butter still remained, but these no longer represented the bulk of their output. This new album took that even further, and Henry had to wonder how the rest of the band—Blackwood in particular—felt about that. In most bands, a shift like that would have led to at least one angry departure. Somehow, the Details had managed to keep it together without any public drama, unless you counted Miller’s multiple rehab stays and a short stint in jail for public intoxication and possession.

They weren’t planning to record any vocals that day, so Blackwood wasn’t around. The lead guitarist, Steve Smith, and drummer, Kenny Sailes, had entered the studio in the middle of a contentious but good-natured disagreement over which one of them would be harder to replace if they went into rehab. Alex Benton, the bass player, shook Henry’s hand and gave him a one-armed hug.

“Maybe you can settle that argument, Cole,” he said, grinning.

“They can both go, as far as I’m concerned,” Henry said. “You’ll have to tough it out, though, Benton. I don’t like playing bass.”

“You heard him, you assholes. Cole here is gunning for you, and he’s a man of many skills. Watch your backs.”

“Not me. I don’t want to be a rock-and-roll star. I prefer to work for a living.” They all laughed, and Henry said, “So, uh…how is Dell doing, anyway? Rehab working out, I hope?”

The mood turned slightly somber, and they all glanced down at the floor. Finally, Smith shrugged and said, “Terry said the place looked pretty nice, and Dell told him he was actually going to try this time. Who the fuck knows.”

Benton sighed and nodded. Sailes snorted skeptically and muttered, “I think we all pretty much know, Steve.”

“Sorry,” Henry said. “I didn’t mean to—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Benton said. “It’s not your fault. You gotta understand, we’ve been on this ride a few times, man. Dell is…Dell.”

Henry cleared his throat. “Well, anyway—the new songs sound great.”

“The fucked-up hillbilly bastard sure knows how to write a goddamn song. Can’t take that away from him,” Smith said, smiling again. “It’s going to be the best thing we’ve ever done.”

The session went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for, and Henry left the studio on a serious high. He wanted to get laid, but the thought of calling Richard to see if he wanted company left him restless. As soon as the idea of going to a bar occurred to him, he knew it was exactly what he was looking for. He rarely went out to bars alone, and rarely with the express purpose of finding sex. That night, he felt like a different person.

Henry’s usual haunt, the Westside Clubhouse, was a relatively laid-back place. Guys went there for the same reason they went to any other gay bar, but mainly because it was a place they could relax and be themselves. The drinks were generous, the bartenders were cute but not intimidating, and they all knew Henry. But that wasn’t the kind of place he was in the mood for. Instead, he went to the Hammer and Nail, which he’d heard about but hadn’t yet ventured into.

He stood in line outside the club while the bouncers checked everyone out at the door. While he waited, a couple of guys got turned away for not being fit enough, young enough, handsome enough, or for not fitting who-knew-what other criteria. Henry had been confident when he first queued up, but by the time he got to the front of the line, he was nervous. The tall, blond, muscular bouncer eyed him up and down and motioned him inside without a word, smacking him on the ass as he walked past. The whole process was fairly disgusting, and while Henry was opposed to the attitude in theory, he couldn’t deny that it felt good to know he passed muster.

Inside, the bar was dark and loud. At least half the guys were shirtless, and all of them were beautiful. He bought a gin and tonic and walked through the throngs of sweaty men. He’d need at least two more drinks before he’d be able to get on the dance floor, so he didn’t wander too far from the bar.

“Henry?”

Henry turned around to see a sound technician at one of the studios where he regularly worked. “Hey, man,” he said, searching frantically for the man’s name.

“Pete.”

“Pete, right, of course. I’m sorry. From Blue Door Studios, right?”

Pete nodded. “I didn’t know you were…” He motioned vaguely around the room.

“Yeah, well,” Henry said, smiling lamely and shrugging. “I don’t usually come here, though. It’s not exactly my scene, but I was in some kind of mood tonight. I had a good day.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Laid down some tracks with the Vulgar Details,” Henry said, striving for casual, as if it was the kind of thing that happened every day. “Great stuff.”

“Oh, cool. Was Terry Blackwood there? He’s so sexy.”

“Nope. No Blackwood, and no Dell, of course. He’s the reason I got hired.”

“Right, the drug thing,” Pete said. “Too bad you didn’t get to meet Blackwood though. I bet he’d think you’re cute.”

Henry rolled his eyes. “I have met him. He treated me like the hired help, which I was. And I think those rumors are all bullshit anyway. Just because he partied with Lou Reed or got a blow job from some drag queen—supposedly—doesn’t mean he’s into guys. I think he wants people to think he’s interesting, like Bowie, instead of a second-rate Mick Jagger.”

“Meow!”

Henry gave him a sheepish grin. “I was unaware I had any opinion of him whatsoever until just that moment.”

“Well anyway, a boy can dream.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Keelan Ellis is an author of romance and detective fiction, who is always seeking to expand her literary horizons. She is a lover of music and food, and has an intense love/hate relationship with politics. Her stories reflect her passions.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tour Schedule

8/14    Drops of Ink 

8/14    Hoards Jumble

8/14    Happily Ever Chapter

8/15    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/15    Stories That Make You Smile

8/16    A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog 

8/16    Erotica For All

8/17    Love Bytes Reviews

8/17    MM Good Book Reviews 

8/18    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/18    Bayou Book Junkie

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Release Blitz for KA Merikan’s My Dark Knight (Kings Of Hell MC #2) (giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Length: 145,000 words
 
Kings Of Hell MC Series
 
Laurent & The Beast (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Love or hate. Life or death. No inbetween. No compromise. No rules in love and war.

Knight. Party monster. Handsome Savage. Doesn’t do monogamy.


Elliot. Obsessive. Intense. Uncompromising.


Newly single, Knight is done with relationships. All he’s interested in is bringing down The Count, an Internet personality who is tarnishing his family name. An opportunity to crush him comes when the audacious clown shows up at the Kings of Hell MC clubhouse to film for his YouTube channel. But when Knight meets Elliot, the man behind The Count, he no longer knows what to do with him.


Knight has never seen a more pathetic creature than Elliot. He’s also never met anyone who needed him more. Skinny, messed up, and a bucket of trouble as thick as tar, everything Elliot does seems to be a wordless death wish. No matter how much Knight hates Elliot’s alter ego, under the makeup and theatrics hides a fragile young guy with a passion for history, and Knight can’t help but catch Elliot every time he falls.


Elliot has bad taste in men. Always hopelessly attracted to violent brutes, his favorite is a long dead serial killer. But he gets more than he’s bargained for when he seizes an opportunity to meet the man of his dreams. The ghost is manipulative and dangerous, offering Elliot all he’s always wanted, for a price he can’t possibly pay.


Elliot is faced with an impossible choice between two men.


One alive, one dead.


One carnal and honest, one drizzling sweet, poisoned promises into his ear.


One unwilling to commit, the other promising an eternity together.


And Elliot doesn’t settle for half-measures. He craves a love that is all or nothing, passion that will consume him, and desire to burn him alive.


Elliot is ready to either get that, or die trying.


POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: enemies to lovers, protector, cruelty, motorcycle club, alternative lifestyles, demons, tattoos, impossible choices, deception, crime, self-discovery, healing, black magic, gothic, commitment, ghosts, possession

 

Author Bios
 

K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.


K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.

 

Giveaway

A VVivacious Review: Oversight (The Community #2) by Santino Hassell

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Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
“After the disturbing events that rock Evolution and send aftershocks throughout the Community, Holden finds himself in the middle of the upheaval that has the Community uneasy, and eager to brand Holden as the scapegoat.
When Holden finds himself saddled with another babysitter he is beyond pissed considering all the problems his last babysitter caused but when the babysitter comes in the form of a tall man with ridiculously broad shoulders and huge biceps covered in tattoos who is an invulnerable to boot Holden can’t help but find himself intrigued.
Sixtus Rossi is an invulnerable and thus a complete enigma to Holden who doesn’t realise how dependent he is on his ability to perceive emotions. But Sixtus has a  hidden agenda unknown to Holden.
As these two find themselves in the eye of the storm ready to wreck the Community the swirling mix of attraction and animosity that they share will come to a head in the most unexpected of ways.”
I didn’t like this book, it just didn’t work for me. The book is actually quite well written and I feel that a lot of people will enjoy this book but I also feel that this book just doesn’t have as compelling a story as the first book did.
Initially the thing that was a little irritating was the fact that Holden is completely unaware of just how selfish the Community is. There is a very distinct disconnect between Holden’s view of the Community and the tone of this book with regards to the Community wherein it felt like Holden was holding back the story from progressing just because he wasn’t ready to accept the truth.
The idea of Holden and Sixtus feels intriguing because an empath and an invulnerable can’t be more opposite and we all know what they say about opposites. But contrary to what you would believe, this book actually doesn’t focus much on the psychic abilities of its characters. I for one was very interested in the amount of advantage Holden has over people to know what they truly feel and extrapolate this knowledge to make quick deductions because Holden is a stronger empath than Nate. But despite the fact that Holden is supposed to be a stronger empath he makes almost no use of his abilities and for the most his abilities don’t play a big part in the book and almost no part in the plot. Also, there seems to be a disparity between the empath abilities of Nate in the first book and in the second book he seems stronger in this book but the fact that he now appears to be a stronger empath than Holden was really unexpected, I mean what the hell is up with Holden?
On top of that, Holden and Six feel like they happened too quickly. I wanted more of the angst of being on such different places in the psychic spectrum, more friction between their personalities instead it feels like they were moving along a predestined path and nothing offered any excitement.
The end of chapter thirteen offers the rare glimpse into what I expected this entire book to be like. The entire conversation between Nate and Holden followed by the scene between Six and Holden offers a peak into how this book could have been.
Overall the plot of this book comes across as a little too easy, there is almost no security on the farm and yet some of the strongest psychics have never managed to find their way out. I mean either something more sinister is at play or things aren’t as organised as you would think they would be.
On the whole I think this book suffered more because it couldn’t stand up to my expectations because I never felt like this book was boring or that I didn’t want to finish it. But reading this book made me feel that the emotions that this book should have been making me feel hit an invisible shield and fell short of their target.
Cover Art by Kanaxa. I liked the cover quite a lot.
 
Book Details:
ebook, 242 pages
Published June 26th 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleOversight
ISBN 1626495076 (ISBN13: 9781626495074)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Community #2

RIPTIDE TOUR & Giveaway: Oversight (The Community #2) by Santino Hassell (special excerpt)

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Oversight (The Community #2) by Santino Hassell
Riptide Publishing
Cover by: Kanaxa

Available for Purchase at Riptide Publishing

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Santino Hassell on his tour for Oversight, the latest in The Community series. Here’s an excerpt from that story.

♦︎

 

About Oversight

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

Now available from Riptide Publishing

Excerpt

“You look homeless.”

Holden jerked to awareness so abruptly that his neck spasmed as he looked up. Six was looming over him in a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie. He wore running shoes and a headband to keep back his man bun.

“And you look like Rocky Balboa goes hipsta-matic. What are you, doing a remake?”

Six didn’t crack a smile. “Why are you crying?”

Was he? Jesus. Holden ripped an arm over his face. “I’m not.”

“You are. I can see tears on your face. That was a stupid lie.”

“You know, Six, this would be an apt time to put those body-language-reading abilities to good use since your mental shield has also blocked off people skills.” Holden sniffled and wiped his face again. “For future reference, heckling someone who’s trying to hide their tears is generally not the sort of thing normal humans do.”

“I’m not a normal human. I’m an invulnerable.”

“Oh my God. Forget it.” Holden climbed to his feet, wincing. When had his knees become this much of a problem? He blamed the cold instead of his age. “Are you following me?”

“Yes.”

Holden froze with his hands poised to brush over his coat. “What?”

“I followed you to Elijah’s house. I was jogging now though, so this part is a coincidence. I live in a loft a couple of blocks away.”

“Wait. Rewind. Why the hell did you follow me to Elijah’s apartment?”

“To see what you were doing.”

Holden was going to kill him. He really was. “Why?”

“Because you seem emotionally unstable lately, and I wondered where you were going.”

“Again—why?”

Six shrugged. “I have nothing else to do.”

“So you just go around following people?” Holden demanded. “This is not okay.”

“Why? Was I not supposed to know you were meeting him?”

“You’re not supposed to be fucking following me,” Holden shouted, his voice carrying over the water. “Did my father put you up to this?”

“No.” Six scanned the area around them. With the exception of the cars speeding along the highway, there appeared to be nobody around for blocks. And yet he kept looking. “Let’s just say I wanted to make sure I’m the only one who was sent to keep an eye on you.”

Holden stopped wanting to throttle Six long enough to look at him sideways. “Excuse me?”

“I was given a job. That job was to keep you and your stupid club out of trouble.” Six stopped analyzing the desolate streets to meet Holden’s confused gaze. “Which means there should be no other Community thugs following you around the way they do your friends. You feel me?”

“I . . . No. I don’t.” Holden shook his head. “So you’re saying you followed me . . . to make sure nobody else was following me?”

“Yeah. Thanks for catching up.”

Holden flipped him off. “Your logic is completely off.”

“Maybe, but that’s how I operate.”

“What would you have done if you’d found out someone else was following me?”

“I would have found out why.”

“And would you have told me?”

Six started walking backward. “Yes.”

There was no reason in the world why Holden should have believed Six, but for some reason . . . he did.

“Let’s go,” Six said, turning. “It’s cold.”

About The Community Series

What lies beneath the surface of the world you thought you knew?

Secrets and lies have twisted an underground community founded by psychics escaping persecution. Blackmail, sex, and social climbing in the name of power has created an irreparable rift.

In the eyes of the founders, there are two sides: loyalists and everyone else. Surely no one would emerge from their tightly woven webs. And they certainly wouldn’t sow the seeds of rebellion within the heart of the Community’s only queer night club.

Now an outcast, a scion, and a runaway are leading a revolution to save not only the men they love, but the entire Community.

Check out The Community series! https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/series/community

About Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Connect with Santino:

 

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Oversight, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 1, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

An Ali Audiobook Review: Wedding Favors (Bluewater Bay #7) by Anne Tenino and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Lucas Wilder’s best friend is a traitor. First, Audrey moved back to their hick-infested hometown, Bluewater Bay, and now she’s marrying a local. His own brother, in fact. And as her man of honor, Lucas gets coerced into returning for an extended stay. Although, between his unfaithful ex-boyfriend and his artist’s block, going home isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Even if the best man is Gabriel Savage, Lucas’s first crush, first hookup, and first heartbreak.

The only reason Gabe hasn’t been waiting for Lucas to return to Bluewater Bay is because he never thought it’d happen. Not that it matters now that Lucas is back—Gabe’s still a logger who’s never been anywhere (Canada doesn’t count), and Lucas is now a famous sculptor who’s been everywhere twice. Plus, there’s that shared past.

When Audrey asks Lucas to make her wedding favors, the only place to set up a kiln is at Gabe’s tree farm. Soon, they pick up where they left off twelve years before, then blow past it, discovering why neither of them forgot the other. Now they have to choose how much of their history they’ll repeat, and what future they’ll make together.
I forgot how much I enjoyed this author.  This was a great example of her story telling style. This was funny, sweet and steamy.  It starts as a bit of an enemies to lovers story due to a fall out between the two MC’s back when they were in high school.
I also liked the fact that the story felt realistic.  It was believable that these two could come together like they did.
I liked both Lucas & Gabriel as characters and they went well together.   I also enjoyed the side characters.  They all added to the story and I was so interested in one of them, Seth, that I had to look to see if he had gotten his own book.  (I’m glad to report he has & I’m off to read it as well).
This is a long series that is done by a collaboration of authors.  Since each of the books is written by a different author they can be read as a standalone with no problems.
This audiobook was narrated by Nick J Russo & I felt like he did a very good job on all of the characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this and I would definitely recommend it.
Cover by L.C. Chase:  I like the cover and feel it is a good representation of the MC’s and the storyline.
Audiobook Details:
8 hrs 14 mins
Audible Audio, 9 pages
Published April 13th 2017 by Riptide Publishing (first published April 11th 2015)
Finalist: Best Gay Romantic Comedy in the 2015 Rainbow Awards!
Original TitleWedding Favors
ASINB06Y3MWY3S
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBluewater Bay #7
CharactersLucas Wilder, Gabriel Savage settingBluewater Bay, Washington (United States)

Christi Snow on Romancing St. Louis and her latest release “Believe in the Wish’ (guest blog and giveaway)

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Title:  Believe in the Wish

Author: Christi Snow

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: May 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: ~55,000 words

Genre: New Adult, enemies to lovers, forbidden love, twins, contemporary romance, mourning death

Add to Goodreads

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christi Snow here today talking about her latest novel, Believe in the Wish. Welcome, Christi.

✒︎

Romancing St. Louis by Christi Snow

I try to write most of my books in places that I’m familiar with, even though I may use made up town names…i.e. Snowcroft is based on a real New Mexico mountain tourist town where we lived when we were first married (many, many moons ago), but that wasn’t the name of it.

For Believe in the Wish, I chose to put the characters in St. Louis, specifically a cross between two of my favorite towns that are suburbs of St. Louis… Kirkwood and St. Charles. I love Kirkwood because it’s filled with the old, big houses like you see in Meet Me In St. Louis. It’s not hard to imagine the carriages driving down some of the roads in that modern-day quaint little town.

Although none of these huge mansions make an appearance in Believe in the Wish, the entire picturesque quality and cozy ambiance of the town does.

Before we moved to Texas when my husband retired from the military, we lived in another suburb of St. Louis…Belleville, Illinois. Our entire family fell in love with St. Louis. 

St. Louis is one of those perfect cities. It has tons of history…the Lewis and Clark expedition came through there, but the Mississippi has been a major waterway for this country the entire time people have lived here. 

When we lived there, they had pro football (Rams, who have since moved), pro hockey (St. Louis Blues), AND pro baseball teams (St. Louis Cardinals). It’s also the home of Budweiser, which means when friends and family come to town, you can go tour the plant and drink free beer. Double win. The same goes for kids theme parks like Grant’s Farm…seriously all kids parks like this should offer free ice-cold beer to parents.

St. Louis is a major city with all the amenities that go with it, but it never felt overwhelming or huge when we visited it. We regularly went into the city…for shopping, entertainment, festivals, and activities. We truly loved it there.

So when it came time for this book, St. Louis was an easy fit for location. Plus it offered lots of options for the tasks that Emma left Ethan and Hawk to do. 

My favorite scene is the two of them going up the Arch. Not only is that scene pivotal to the story…hello, first kiss…but it’s simply fun, because the Arch and the ability to travel up it is something unique to St. Louis. And I promise you, once you’ve gone on that little, weird roller coaster ride up the inside, you will never forget it. There are videos on YouTube about riding the tiny cars up to the top. It’s wild…and yes, sometimes a bit eerie and scary, but it’s an experience everyone should have.

I hope that you see a bit of the city I loved through this book, Believe in the Wish. While the romance is most definitely the focus, I thought the romance of St. Louis provided the perfect backdrop for two of my favorite men and their guardian angel.

Synopsis

I buried my twin sister six months after she found out she had cancer. Her funeral was three months ago. Today is our birthday and it started with delivery of letters from her.

It seems she didn’t trust me to move on after her death. She knows me too well. But how can I go on when my other half is just…gone? That’s not something I can recover from with a snap of my fingers. But I also can’t ignore her instructions even though I’d be perfectly content to cuddle up with my buddy, Johnnie Walker, and call it a year.

She has a list of things for me to do and there are rules attached.

There’s one major problem besides the fact it’s been three months since I left the house. I have to do all these things with her jerk of an ex, Hawk Simmons. He abandoned her shortly after she found out she was sick. If that wasn’t enough to make this a really bad idea, the fact that he makes an appearance in all my nighttime fantasies probably does.

I don’t think I can do this, but I owe it to my sister’s memory to try.

This is a stand-alone male/male contemporary romance novel.

Excerpt

Katya ended her call and promptly pushed the ‘away’ button for receiving phone calls. “I’m sorry. No more calls. They may not think so, but they can survive without me for an hour or so while we have our chat.”

Ethan’s stomach rolled over. That brought them to the question of the hour…chat about what? But he was almost afraid to ask at this point. Instead, he redirected. “Do you have your own firm, or do you work for someone else?”

She raised an eyebrow at him, but with a slight tilt of her head she must have seen something in his expression because she answered, “I own my own firm. When I graduated from law school, I went into a partnership that was later dissolved when I bought my partner out. It’s all mine now, which keeps me very busy.”

He grimaced. “And that’s further complicated by hermits like me who refuse to answer phone calls or mail deliveries. Sorry about that.”

“No.” She shook her head. “It’s time for you to stop apologizing. This is a hard time for you and that’s okay. To a certain extent, that’s the way it should be…”

She hesitated for a moment. “At least for a little while. You’re allowed to grieve. But Emma knew this would be an issue for you, so she made plans.”

“What kind of plans?”

Katya reached into her briefcase and pulled out a file. She reached inside and pulled out an envelope that she handed to him. On the front was his name, written in Emma’s handwriting. Suddenly it was hard to breathe.

“What is this?” he whispered.

“The first of your instructions. You need to open and read it.”

He didn’t want to. He didn’t know why, but he really didn’t want to. “I’d rather wait until I’m at home.” At his house, if he fell apart, he could do it without witnesses.

She shook her head kindly. “No, that won’t work. She was very specific in how she wanted this all to go. I need you to open it now.”

Ethan swallowed against the huge lump in his throat as he tried to find air to breathe. His heart pounded in his chest. Surely, everyone around them could hear that.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I promise.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” He glanced up at her. “It’s never going to be okay again.” His voice cracked.

She lowered her lids, and her lips compressed into a tight line as if his grief was too much for her.

His hands shook as he turned the envelope over, lifting the sealed flap. It had to be his imagination, but he could have sworn that he smelled a faint whiff of the strawberry lotion Emma always liked to wear.

For just a moment, he shut his eyes and tried to calm down his emotions going haywire. He didn’t know whether to be angry that she’d done this to him, sad that she wasn’t here to tell him whatever information this letter held, or scared at whatever Emma had cooked up for him.

Throughout her life, she’d kept him hopping. As the exuberant, outgoing twin, she’d always dragged him into trouble when all he’d wanted to do was stay home. In that regard, this whole scheme of hers was very apropos.

He took a deep breath and pulled out the single sheet of paper and unfolded it. At the very first words on the paper, his eyes filled with tears.

Happy Birthday, baby brother.

He glanced up in disbelief at Katya. “It’s May fifteenth?”

At her silent nod, he gazed down at the paper in his hands, his eyes filling with tears. It was their twenty-fifth birthday. The first birthday he’d ever celebrated without her. She’d only been twenty-four when she’d died. How unfair was that? To her. To him. To the world that missed out on everything she had to offer it.
Emma’s handwriting wavered in front of his eyes, but he continued to read, not knowing what else to do. His other option—sobbing in the middle of the restaurant—would be mortifying.

I’m sorry I’m not there to go out partying with you. Remember when we were little and you didn’t want to share your birthday with me? Now you get your wish.

He’d been a horrible person. The tears overflowed his eyes. He’d made that wish more years than he even wanted to remember. How selfish was that? How could he have wished for a life without her in any way? She’d been his light.

Katya shoved a tissue into his hand.

Right. He was in public. Time to get it together.

My bad. It was probably too soon for a joke like that.

I love you, Ethan.

I know I didn’t say that enough—you know emotional displays and I didn’t mix—but beyond anything else that happens over the next few weeks, KNOW THAT. I love you, and if I could have figured out a way to stay, I would have…for you.

But God obviously had different plans for me, so now I’ll just have to content myself with being your guardian angel for the next seventy-five years. I’ll have your back, bro. I promise.

And in the interest of having your back, that’s why Katya is here.

I know you. You’re stubborn, and right now, I imagine that you’re more than a little sad. I get that, but that doesn’t mean you stop living. My death means you have to live twice as much because you have to do it enough for both of us. I’m counting on you.

But, again, I know you, so I’ve enlisted some help from my friends just to get you going.

Make a Wish, Ethan. Believe in it. It’s time to live.

~Emma

When Ethan finished reading, he took several deep breaths. The sobs had welled in his throat, and it was all he could just to hold them inside.

“You okay?” Katya asked.

“Yeah.” His voice sounded husky, but he’d managed to say the word, so he figured that for a win.

“Then it’s time for step two.”

He looked up just as she held a flaming lighter to the candle on top of a cupcake. She pushed it in front of him. “Make a wish and blow. All you have to do is believe.”

As he sat there, looking at the flickering candle, it occurred to him at just how sad this was. His twin was dead, and he was at some bizarre birthday celebration with someone he’d never even met before. Even from the grave, Emma was working to pull him out of his shell.

So he closed his eyes and blew as he made his wish.

I wish I wasn’t so alone.

But when he opened them, nothing had changed. He was still sitting in a restaurant with a woman he didn’t know, mourning the twin sister who’d died. Not that he expected a miracle, but Emma wanted him to believe.

Believe.

How was that even possible? She’d been the one who believed in the magic of things like wishes and fairy tales. What had that gotten her? She’d died before she’d even had the chance to live. What kind of magic could he possibly believe in with that kind of reality?

Purchase

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

As an avid reader her entire life, Christi Snow always dreamed of writing books that brought to others the kind of joy she felt when she read. But…she never did anything about it besides jot down a few ideas and sparse scenes.

When she turned 41, she decided it was time to go after her dream and started writing. Within four months, she’d written over 150,000 words and hasn’t stopped since.

She’s found her calling by writing about sexy, alpha heroes and smart, tough heroines falling in love and finding their passion. She’s truly living the dream and loving every minute of it.

Her tagline is… Passion and adventure on the road to Happily Ever After. She’s loving this adventure!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Instagram

Tour Schedule

5/11 ~ Hearts on Fire Reviews

5/11 ~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/12 ~ MM Good Book Reviews

5/13 ~ Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

5/14 ~ Dog-Eared Daydreams

5/15 ~ Happily Ever Chapter

5/16 ~ Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

5/16 ~ MM Book Escape

5/17 ~ Book Reviews Janisf & Leisha

5/17 ~ BFD Book Blog

5/18 ~ Dirty Books Obsession

5/19 ~ Reviews for Book Lovers

5/19 ~ Love Bytes Reviews

5/20 ~ Bayou Book Junkie

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Pre Release Review: Risky Behavior (Bad Behavior #1) by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Rookie detective Darren Corliss is excited to finally start his career as a detective. Stepson of the former police commissioner, Darren spent seven years as a beat cop before sitting for his detective exam. Though still young, he wanted to come on board with experience. Unfortunately, he’s been enlisted by IA to keep an eye on his new partner, an experienced, older man—a hard-ass detective who’d sooner break the rules than abide by them. And yet, Detective Andreas Ruffner has never been caught at anything other than bucking the system.

And Darren soon finds out why as Andreas proves to be evasive and stubborn in his refusal to share with Darren. But Darren isn’t what Ruffner thinks, and he soon shows he’s tougher than Andreas thought—and then proves he’s so much more than just a good cop partner. Darren and Andreas are attracted to one another, a fact that’s even more certain once they begin to establish some grounds for trust. That trust is shaken along the way, but not enough to completely upend the attraction, and definitely not enough to stifle the lust that burns between them.

When things start to really heat up on the case they’re working and Andreas is framed and put on suspension, Darren’s true nature comes out. He can also be sneaky and a bit of an ass, but he’s trustworthy and loyal, and despite what he lets others think, he doesn’t give up on Andreas—no matter what.

This is a wonderfully complex, exciting, and emotional roller coaster ride. These gifted authors prove how versatile they can be as they work together to bring us an extremely interesting story, complete with political intrigue, betrayal, dirty cops, danger, and major sexy times. I highly recommend this book to lovers of MM romance, especially those who enjoy enemies to lovers, age gap, law enforcement, and just plain old excitement. Kudos to the authors!

Cover by: G.D. Leigh.   It’s as gritty, and exciting as the story.

Sales Links

Riptide Publishing

other links to follow

Book Details:

ebook, 309 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleRisky Behavior
ISBN 1626495645 (ISBN13: 9781626495647)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bad Behavior #1

A Book Release Highlight! Spritzer – A Sparkling Gay Romance by Jon McDonald (guest blog with a short story, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance

Author: Jon McDonald

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 27

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75300

Genre: Romance, LGBT, gay, bisexual, contemporary, enemies to lovers, humorous, romance

Add to Goodreads

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jon McDonald here today to celebrate the release of his new book, Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance.  He’s brought a remarkable short story along with him for our readers, in addition to an excerpt and giveaway.  Welcome, Jon!

✒︎

Jon McDonald: Here’s a short story from another of my NineStar books, Gotta Dance with the One Who Brung Ya.

Midnight Clear

   There was a seam on the roadway crossing the bridge, such that when a car passed over, it sent a thump thump echoing underneath. When it was busy during the day, the thump thumps came frequently, overlapping and creating a thunder that echoed along the riverbank. During the night, the sound came infrequently and accented the stillness.

   It was going to be a very cold Christmas Eve—with the scent of snow already in the air—and there had been a few flurries as the afternoon gathered into dusk before the clutch of night took its frigid hold.

   Rainbow and Gal were huddled around their meager fire, kept alive by scavenging the riverbank for anything that would burn—hopefully through the entire night. Their few belongings were stacked up like sandbags around a foxhole to help keep out the needles of icy wind. The tips of their fingers poked out through worn gloves as they fumbled with a dented pot to heat water so they could use the damaged Ramen Noodle Soup packet scrounged from a dumpster behind the 7–Eleven . Maybe Gal would wait till midnight to give Rainbow his gift—a short flask of brandy that Gal had saved for from a week of panhandling when Rainbow wasn’t around.

   In country, the coppers flew overhead like crazy-wheeling drunks—thump thump, thump thump. Rainbow was Corporal Edward Declan Connelly—Boston Irish. So raw he still thought they were fighting the enemy for the good of the country. He was called Rainbow because he was that way. His best and only buddy was Gal—short for Gallagher but also because he was perceived to be Rainbow’s gal. They had soon found each other despite the monsoons, the mud, the lousy food, the blood, the moans, the endless boredom, and the constant rain of shells—thump thump, thump thump. They managed, however, to get away together now and then for half an hour, hidden amongst the sacks of flour in the storeroom behind the mess. Time so precious and ever so brief, their hearts—thump thump, thump thump.

   After the slaughter was over, and they were shipped home and dumped on the streets of LA, they stayed together. Somewhat broken, keenly cunning, resourceful as two feral cats, together they opened a shop repairing typewriters and small business machines. Then came the computer. They struggled, tried to adapt, created more debt to stay afloat, and finally had to flee in the dead of night in their broken-down Pontiac to the Rocky Mountain west. Their car barely made it across the Continental Divide—thump thump.

   They never completely recovered. Too many demons. Too much alcohol. Inner wounds too tender. But they stayed together through it all. There was never one without the other through many decades, many journeys, many disappointments.

  * * * * *

   “Deck, oh Deck. I can’t believe you’re still abed. And this being Christmas morning and all.” His mother called him Deck, not Eddie. But he didn’t want to stir. The room was cold—the covers warm, scooched up tight around his head, cradling his ear. Only his susceptible eyes and nose were exposed to the bite from the window slightly ajar. He promised he’d get up at the count of ten.

   “Eight, nine, nine and a half, nine and three quarters…”

  * * * * *

    “Soup’s ready.” Gal offered Rainbow the watery, soft noodles.

    “Thanks.”

    It was dark now. The fire glowed and sputtered. Gal put on a few more pieces of wood from a broken table someone had tossed onto the riverbank rather than take to the dump. They ate in silence.

   Thump thump. Rainbow’s mind wandered to the sleeper car his family was taking to Chicago to visit his grandmother; snuggled in his berth, eyes almost closed. Thump thump. The sound of the train lulled him toward sleep. Thump thump. He always watched for that moment when waking turns into sleep like a snake gliding silently into water. But he could never quite grasp it—it always just slipped away. Thump thump, thump thump.

   Gal always cooked. Rainbow always cleaned—tonight taking their few bowls and cooking pot down to the stream to wash up. With tonight’s cold, it was hard to find any running water, and Rainbow had to hack at some ice to find the little trickle to serve his need. Though poor and without much provision, they were both meticulous about keeping clean—their persons and their possessions. Rainbow carefully rinsed the pot and bowls and climbed back up the bank to their shelter under the bridge. He stored the utensils and scooted up close to Gal, sitting by the fire.

   “Here, let me warm you,” Gal whispered as he straddled Rainbow from behind, wrapping his blanket around the both of them. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his gift. “I know it’s not quite Christmas yet but thought you could use this now.” He opened the brandy and handed it to Rainbow. Rainbow bowed his head in gratitude and offered the first sip to Gal.

   They sat like that for some time, drinking quietly, the cars overhead passing less often now. Thump…thump.

   Rainbow was the first to notice the child—six, maybe seven. The way the boy stood at the edge of the bridge it looked as though he was lit from within, but of course, Rainbow thought, it had to be the play of the streetlight against the ice reflecting up from the river below.

   “Gal…” Rainbow breathed so softly it could hardly be heard. Gal looked up and saw the child now holding out both his hands filled with Christmas cookies.

   “For you,” the child said softly.

  * * * * *

   Eddie continued his countdown, “Nine, nine and a half, nine and three quarters. Nine and seven-eighths…”

   “Edward Declan Connelly, I am not going to call you again,” his mother boomed from the kitchen.

   “Oh boy, she means business now.” Eddie knew that for sure. And for just a minute longer he savored the warmth of the covers trying to drag him back into sleep. But then he could smell the wafting scents of Christmas—oatmeal, apples, cinnamon, brown sugar. And there were tangerines, coffee, and bacon sizzling on the stove. He bounded up and out of bed, shut tight the window, and still in his pajamas with the fuzzy feet, faced the light pouring through the door and quietly walked toward his mother.

  * * * * *

   The police cruiser was parked on the bridge, the lights blinking and swirling. Thump thump. Two officers were responding to a call from a pedestrian who believed he had spotted something suspicious under the bridge. The officers scrambled down the riverbank and peered. It was dim and hard to see. There were the remains of a fire still smoldering, sending up curls of smoke like lazy spirits going home. And there, huddled together and covered with a thin blanket, were the bodies of two men locked in a tight embrace, drifted snow cradling their faces.

   “Oh jeeze,” one of the officers commented. “Looks like we got ourselves a couple of stiffs. Better call it in.”

   The second officer stared uncomfortably at the bodies. “Will you look at that,” he said. “Two guys in each other’s arms. So desperate to keep warm they had to resort to that.” Thump thump.

Synopsis

Spritzer Vallier is the manager of a large commercial jug winery in Northern California. The new owner, Spritzer’s great-aunt Del, wants to make a quality champagne as well as the cheap wine that is the bedrock of their business. Being a down-to-earth, no-nonsense guy, Spritzer resists Del’s fantastic idea. However, she insists and hires Michel, a French champagne master, to direct the setup of the new venture for four years until Spritzer can take over the running of the winery by himself.

Spritzer and Michel must work closely together and right from the beginning it is clear there will be fireworks. Michel tends towards arrogance and control. Spritzer resents Michel’s authority and demands, and is a bit of a stubborn hot-head.

Keeping the two in check is Del—steady, caring, and wise, she directs the two toward the accomplishment of her dream.

Storms, accidents, and money problems plague the progress of the new winery, but eventually Michel and Spritzer work their way towards a successful conclusion to their efforts. But fate seems to have another destination for them as well, as they begin to fall in love with each other.

Excerpt

Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance
Jon McDonald © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Spritzer Vallier stood in contemplation, gazing at the strange sight before him—a couple of dozen or more folks, dressed mostly in black, standing at the crest of a hill overlooking a Sonoma vineyard. It stretched out below them as far as one could see in every direction; rows and rows of cultivated grape vines, marching neatly in their straight lines. The early morning mists slowly evaporated in the warmth of the climbing morning sun.

Spritzer ran a hand through his dark, curly, unkempt hair, distracted from the immediacy of the memorial service for his recently departed great-uncle Tom, as his mind wandered to the urgent need to be harvesting the glowing, ripe grapes spread out before him. There is a moment when the grapes’ sugars are at their peak, and any delay might harm a season’s harvest. Spritzer had checked the sugar levels in the grapes just yesterday afternoon and decided that they should start the harvest today. But Aunt Del, Tom’s sister, had already arranged for the memorial service to be held this very morning.

He shook himself free from those thoughts, and turned his attention back to the droning priest. Spritzer was standing between his great-aunt Del—short for Deloris—and his childhood buddy, and occasional girlfriend, Kan. He turned to his aunt and squeezed her arm, as the priest extolled her brother’s many virtues.

“Are you holding up all right?” Spritzer asked gently.

Del looked over and smiled. “It’s still hard to believe he’s gone.”

“I know.”

Kan—blonde, lean, and tomboyish—leaned into Spritzer and whispered, “Nice service, don’t you think?”

Spritzer turned to her and said, “Yeah, yeah. But look at all those fuckin’ grapes. The old man would kick off just when I need to start the harvest, right?”

Just then, a biplane approached from behind the gathering, flew low over the heads of the crowd, and began to spray the vineyard.

Kan looked puzzled. “Isn’t this an odd time to be spraying insecticide, for Christ’s sake?”

“That’s not insecticide, that’s Uncle Tom,” Spritzer answered, with a flash of his quirky grin. Kan looked at him questioningly. “Some people want their ashes at sea. Uncle Tom…” He gestured toward the vineyard.

“Yuck. It’s going all over the grapes. What’s that going to do to the wine?”

Spritzer thought about that for a moment, then answered. “Probably make the horrid supermarket plonk we produce a hell of a lot better than it was when he was alive.”

Kan laughed and turned back to the service.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Jon McDonald lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has seven published novels, a memoir, and three children’s books. His short stories have appeared in a number of prestigious publications. He considers himself a genre-bending author—he loves to take an established literary genre, play with it, and turn it on its head. He has lived abroad and traveled extensively.

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Tour Schedule

3/27    Hoards Jumble

3/27    Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/28    The Novel Approach

3/28    Zipper Rippers

3/28    Happily Ever Chapter

3/29    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/29    Stories That Make You Smile 

3/30    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/30    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/31    Bayou Book Junkie

3/31    MM Good Book Reviews

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An Alisa Review: Rough Edges by Cardeno C

Standard

Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

 

Kyle has an unwelcome crush on his nemesis Brent. Brent has a welcome crush on his friend Kyle. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn’t have to be a line at all.

 

Born on the wrong side of the tracks to the wrong family, Kyle Potter has spent his life clawing his way toward a better future. When he gets the perfect job at the perfect firm in perfect Los Angeles, Kyle is sure there are only blue skies ahead. And then he meets perfect Brent Haralson.

 

Born with a silver spoon to a well-established family, Brent Haralson has never been interested in leveraging his connections. Friends, success, and dates come easily to Brent and rejection isn’t something he has to deal with in life. And then he meets perfect Kyle Potter.

 

Kyle despises his unwelcome crush on his lazy, arrogant nemesis. Brent welcomes his feelings for his stubborn, brilliant friend. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn’t have to be a line at all.

 

This was a great story that shows that quick assumptions aren’t always the most correct.   Kyle has had to work hard for what he has and has no respect for those who don’t contribute to society.  Kyle and Brent have been friendly enemies for years, but when Brent gets the opportunity to help Kyle when he needs it he jumps at the opportunity.

 

Kyle is one stubborn man, no matter what his other friends say he has never changed his views on Brent.  When he is down on his luck Brent takes him into his home and Kyle slowly sees that Brent may not be quite what he seems, but isn’t quite willing to back down from his original views completely.

 

I loved seeing both of these characters interact.  Even though Kyle is constantly trading barbs with Brent there doesn’t seem to be too much fight behind them.  Kyle is amazed when he does finally open his eyes to really see Brent.  I loved Brent’s attitude towards Kyle, knowing that he uses is attitude as a defense mechanism he slowly begins to break down his walls until they crumble.  Both of these characters are sweet deep down and really just want someone to love them.

 

Cover art is great and is a sweet picture of the characters together.

 

Sales Links: Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 70 pages

Published: 2nd edition, February 1, 2017

ISBN: 9781942184669

Edition Language: English