A MelanieM Review: The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Derek never wished to inherit his title as a result of a bloody battle. With the old count dead and the truce dependent on his marriage to the rival duke’s son, Derek has no choice but to agree to the victor’s terms in order to bring peace to his homeland. When he learns of the sinister rumors surrounding his intended groom, Derek begins to have doubts—but there can be no turning back from saying I do.

After the death of his wife, Callan of Mulberny never expected to be forced into another political marriage—especially not to someone like the new Count of Camria. Seemingly soft and meek, it’s only fitting that Derek’s family crest is a flighty sparrow, worthy of nothing but contempt.

Another war with the seafaring people of the Outer Isles looms on the horizon, and the reluctant newlyweds must team together to protect those caught in the circle of violence. Derek and Callan slowly learn to let go of their prejudices, but as they find themselves enmeshed in intrigue fueled by dark secrets and revenge, their tentative bond is all that keeps their world—and their lives—from plunging into chaos.

 

I  enjoyed the sort of mystical historical fantasy novel, The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler. I thought it worked very well on some levels and less well on others.   From the moment I met the main characters of Derek, son of the fallen Count of Camria and now the new “head” of house, and Callen, first son of the Duke of Mulberny, victor of the war, the author eases of us the perspectives of both men and their various different worlds.    The gulf between them necessarily wide due to the losses of war, Derek his father and the fear of losing his small fiefdom and all that entails for his people and family. For Callan?  It’s merely one more political move by his father with himself as the chess piece, one he doesn’t want to make but will for duty.

The young men as characters are well thought out and presented, less so some of the people around them.  I am not sure if this is the first story in a series but much is made of Derek’s brothers, an older scholarly brother Ivo and a sullen teen brother who constantly acts up, putting his brother’s safety and that of any  political agreements in danger.  That it is allowed to continue makes no sense in this narrative other than for dramatic purposes.  The brother is unlikable, the author makes no attempt  to layer him into anything other than a cardboard character and eventually he disappears completely two thirds of the way from the story leaving the reader to wonder why he was inserted at all.  Ivo’s character  did a flip flop at the end and then exited as well after being used as a potential red herring for a relationship with Callan’s sister.  Both examples of throwaway characters that had way too much page time.

The relationship development between Callan and Derek moved along nicely when they were allowed to be out in the field doing exactly what warriors like themselves were allowed to do, bonding over field maneuvers and showing their skills at taking down marauders.  That made complete sense and I loved it.  The other   element I started to get into and I thought was absolutely underused was that of magic.

What a waste.  It was, in my opinion, such a great part of the narrative and yet so underwhelming at the same time.  One, the effects were only related  by one of the  main characters not both.What a loss because while we get the maelstrom of physical, emotional, and magical elements happening from one side, we never get to “see” it from the other’s.  Which is weird because this whole story is a two narrative novel.  Why reduce to one now?  When we want to “see” what is happening at it’s most wildest and wonderful?  Makes no sense.  The best part and powerful potential of this story is lost.  And not for the last time.

If the author was laying the groundwork for a series, that would be different, but I believe this is a standalone novel, so here is all this great promise for magic within this novel and character and quite frankly, it gets tossed away, not one but twice, because the author holds back, throwing out tidbits instead of going full throttle.  This character can control animals, have them do his biding.  Do we see it?  Uh, off stage sort of.  Control the wind and seas?  Does that come into play?  Nope.  Other cool stuff?  Pretty much no.  Just one more “bunny out of the hate” and done.

What a shame.

The end comes off the same way. Characters disappear,  there is an odd resolution that feels sort of inadequate, magically speaking.  and yes, a HEA for this couple, which seems odd, because, other than Ivo, Derek’s family is never mentioned again.

So yes, I enjoyed it but so many questions kept popping back up into my head about other characters, universe building, and the holes in the magic that it wasn’t a smooth read for me. If you are more of a surface reader than I am, perhaps this story is more in your wheelhouse than mine.  Either way, I found it went pretty quickly and the main characters were enjoyable.  I just wish the promise I saw had been fulfilled.

Cover art by Natasha Snow is eye catching and dramatic.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 300 pages
Published November 25th 2019 by Nine Star Press
ISBN139781951057893
Edition Language English

New Release Blitz for The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Wolf and the Sparrow

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 25, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72000

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, nobility, arranged marriage, abduction, enemies to lovers, witches, magic users, action/adventure, family drama, pansexual

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Derek never wished to inherit his title as a result of a bloody battle. With the old count dead and the truce dependent on his marriage to the rival duke’s son, Derek has no choice but to agree to the victor’s terms in order to bring peace to his homeland. When he learns of the sinister rumors surrounding his intended groom, Derek begins to have doubts—but there can be no turning back from saying I do.

After the death of his wife, Callan of Mulberny never expected to be forced into another political marriage—especially not to someone like the new Count of Camria. Seemingly soft and meek, it’s only fitting that Derek’s family crest is a flighty sparrow, worthy of nothing but contempt.

Another war with the seafaring people of the Outer Isles looms on the horizon, and the reluctant newlyweds must team together to protect those caught in the circle of violence. Derek and Callan slowly learn to let go of their prejudices, but as they find themselves enmeshed in intrigue fueled by dark secrets and revenge, their tentative bond is all that keeps their world—and their lives—from plunging into chaos.

Excerpt

The Wolf and the Sparrow
Isabelle Adler © 2019
All Rights Reserved

“Derek, you lucky devil,” Macon said. “A marriage proposal the minute you inherit a title. How propitious.”

Derek ignored the note of bitter mockery in his brother’s voice. Instead, he focused on the letter lying on the table in front of them. Words were scribbled across thick paper in an almost careless hand, with nothing to indicate its earth-shattering contents at a casual glance. The red wax seal bore the emblem of a wolf’s head, and an unpleasant jolt went through him as he recalled the same sigil splashed over black-and-silver banners streaming above a bloody battlefield. Pain flared in his injured shoulder, as if in response to the memory, and Derek shifted uncomfortably in his chair, adjusting the sling that held his left arm. He made himself focus on the words again, tracing them as if they could somehow magically rearrange themselves into a different message upon rereading.

“Macon, this is not helping,” Lady Casea chided.

Macon threw their mother a sullen look that clearly indicated he wasn’t there to help. He was sixteen, the age when everything was painted black and white, right and wrong, with nothing in between. Both Derek and their mother knew all too well how washed-out those colors became with time.

They were all sitting at the round table in Lady Casea’s drawing room. The upheaval of the last few days hadn’t seemed to reach it, unlike the rest of the keep. Embroidered tapestries lined the walls, displaying flowers in fanciful patterns, and the chairs were lined with soft cushions. A familiar scent of lavender and sage permeated the warmth from the fireplace. How strange it was to discuss the grim future of their family in this cozy room, with the only reminder of the presence of death in the gray mourning ribbons tied around their sleeves.

“Let us go through this again,” Ivo said, picking up the letter. His tone was neutral, as if he were discussing a passage from a recently read book. He was the scholar among Derek’s siblings, but Count Johan had long refused to send him to one of the royal colleges in Oifel, the capital. Father hadn’t approved of bookishness, especially not in a nineteen-year-old man who was perfectly capable of holding a sword.

“Duke Bergen offers Lady Casea condolences on the passing of her husband, and asks for Derek’s—the new Count of Camria’s—hand in marriage to his eldest son and heir, Callan, ‘to secure the recently signed truce in hopes of reaching a standing peace treaty between our fiefdoms and show goodwill.’”

“‘Passing,’” Macon sneered. “‘Goodwill.’”

“Derek, have you even met Callan?” Ayleen asked, turning to him. “I had no idea he was interested in you.”

“I doubt he’d know me from a signpost,” Derek said dryly.

He’d only ever seen Callan in passing while visiting the Royal Palace a few years ago, and they had paid each other little heed. Undoubtedly, Callan had been in the field along with his father, Duke Bergen, when they fought Camria’s forces, but fortunately, Derek hadn’t encountered them directly, and neither of them had been present during the signing of the truce, delegating it instead to their field commander.

Ayleen was only twelve, and still somewhat charmed by the notion of romance. Derek was a little sorry to disillusion her, especially so soon after all the other shocks she’d had to endure in the past few days, but it was better if she knew exactly what was going on. Ignorance and pretense weren’t going to help any of them when their situation was so precarious.

“The proposal isn’t coming from Lord Callan, but from his father. There’s nothing to it but politics.”

Ivo looked up. “I fear Bergen’s essentially trying to annex us. Derek would keep the title while he lives, but with him being a lower noble, it’d eventually pass to his husband or to their heirs. Not to mention that his spouse—whoever they are—would be an equal ruler of Camria while Derek lives.”

While he lives. The words sank into Derek’s mind, laden with meaning. The marriage contract would still be valid, even if he were to die, effectively passing the fiefdom of Camria to the duke’s family. And with Derek out of the way, they’d be free to do what they wished with it.

He said nothing aloud.

“Can we possibly refuse? Find some pretext to decline the offer?” their mother asked.

Ivo shook his head. “I cannot see how. This is not exactly an offer. More like an order, if courteously worded. The letter continues on to stipulate that the wedding take place as soon as possible. In fact, as soon as it would take Derek to arrive at the duke’s ancestral castle at Irthorg.”

“What about postponing it, then?” Lady Casea turned to Derek in concern. “You’re badly injured. Surely, they cannot expect you to stand at the altar, still bleeding. At least a few months, until you’re well. It will give us time to petition before the High Queen. This is nothing short of coercion under duress.”

There were fading bruises on her neck peeking above the collar of her dress, a yellow imprint of fingers that had nothing to do with the recent battle. Not for the first time, Derek thought that perhaps their father’s death was more of a blessing than a tragedy. It felt treasonous to entertain such notions, as though he was betraying his father’s memory, but he hadn’t imagined the relief in his mother’s eyes when the messenger delivered the awful news. He was ashamed to admit, even to himself, that he’d felt the same relief.

But it also meant he was now the head of the family. It was his duty and his responsibility to protect them after Count Johan had failed to do so. Even if it meant marrying a man he’d never met, who’d nearly destroyed everything he held dear, who might still want him dead.

“I’m not hurt that badly,” Derek heard himself say. “Besides, I hardly think they’d care—or if the Queen would see it quite the same way. The truce expires in a week. If I don’t give an answer by then, I’m afraid there will be no long-standing treaty.”

Casea frowned and was about to say something else, but Derek forestalled her.

“I don’t see any solution other than conforming to Duke Bergen’s wishes. I’d rather not aggravate him while his troops still have free rein within our borders. There would still be an opportunity to do something when we’re not in such dire disadvantage. A marriage can always be annulled should the Queen prove sympathetic to our case.”

“So, we just roll over and give the duke our land?” Macon said. “That’s what he’s really after, isn’t it? He basically threatens us with another war, and he has the audacity to call it a gesture of goodwill!”

“It is goodwill,” Derek said quietly. “He doesn’t need this union to take the land away from us. In fact, nothing is stopping him from storming the keep and killing us all when the truce ends. It would be his right to do so since he was provoked, and frankly, we’ve already seen that Camria cannot hold its own when it comes to military strength.”

As a warrior himself, Derek was loath to admit it. But Camria was a small fiefdom, and its contingent consisted of the Count’s Guard, which numbered only two hundred men, while the rest were mostly peasants who had been hastily called to arms and had little to no fighting experience. That was hardly a match for Mulberny, a much larger and more prosperous domain with a long and bloody history of fending raiding sea pirates off its shores. But of course, these considerations had meant little to his father in the face of a perceived slight.

“You seem very eager to go through with it,” Macon sneered. His eyes were rimmed in red and recessed in deep shadows. “Can’t wait to become the bed toy of our father’s murderer?”

“Macon!” Casea said sharply. “Watch your tongue.”

“I will not!” Macon slammed his hand against the table, making everyone save Derek jump. “He’s only trying to save his own hide while his new husband turns us out of our own home!”

“Will you stop that?” Derek said levelly, fixing his gaze on Macon. He kept a tight rein on his anger. There was no point in getting into a shouting match with his brother, whose grief was perhaps the most acute of all of them. “No one said anything about turning you out. I’m trying to keep all of you safe, and it would be much easier to do from within the duke’s castle than from the chopping block.”

“Yes, much easier for you! You’d be the duke’s lapdog while the rest of us are reduced to beggars!”

Derek’s patience, already frayed, finally snapped.

“Maybe Father should have thought about that before he waged war on Bergen over a fucking river dam and got himself killed!”

Macon rose to his feet so abruptly he knocked over his chair. Without another word, he stormed out of the room, slamming the door with enough force to rattle the flower vase on the side table.

There was an awkward silence while everybody avoided looking at one another.

Derek sighed and ran a jerky hand over his face. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Lady Casea got up from her seat. “I’ve had quite enough of this squabbling. There are still soldiers’ wages and widows’ allowances to be distributed, and I have work to do. Ayleen, come.”

With an apologetic glance at Derek, Ayleen followed Casea out the door.

Derek slumped on the table, propping his head with his right arm. He wasn’t used to being in his mother’s rooms without her there; however, he was in no hurry to leave. They were all tired, hurt, and confused. Derek had barely slept since signing the temporary truce between Camria and Mulberny. The nagging ache in his shoulder had worsened, and now his head was throbbing as well. But he welcomed the pain. It was the only thing keeping him from numbness—and he couldn’t afford to sink into it at the moment.

This was not how he’d imagined coming into his inheritance. Shouldering responsibility was not unfamiliar to him. His father had been more than happy to let Derek handle the more mundane affairs of daily life in the keep and the surrounding villages—though Derek sometimes thought it was so he’d have someone to criticize. But this…this was almost too much to take on. He was good with a sword and possessed sound common sense, which was perhaps enough for a minor ruler of a small fiefdom, but now he had to admit he was in over his head. Despite trying to present a solid front to his family, he had no idea what to do to prevent more harm coming to them.

Ivo coughed delicately, drawing his attention.

“I didn’t want to say anything in front of Mother, but there is something you should know before you make a decision.”

Derek raised his head. He didn’t like the sound of that, but what could possibly make this entire affair worse than it already was?

“What is it?”

“Did you know that Lord Callan was married before?”

“No.” Derek straightened in his chair. He didn’t like the look on Ivo’s face, the one that said he was troubled. It was a bad sign. Unlike Macon, Ivo was rarely visibly upset over anything.

“Well, he was. To an Agiennan clanswoman, no less. I don’t recall her name, but it was about two years ago. Apparently, the duke has a thing for offering his son in marriage to secure his peace treaties.”

“What happened to her?” Derek asked, already knowing he wasn’t going to like the answer.

“She died. Some sort of accident, but…there were whispers about something not being quite right with that story.”

“And you know all of this how?”

Ivo smiled faintly.

“Unlike you, dear brother, I pay attention to rumors. Most of them are nothing more than idle gossip, but some contain a kernel of truth.”

“All this might be just that—nothing more than gossip,” Derek said.

“I’m absolutely certain he was married,” Ivo repeated. “Accidents do happen even to the most lofty, but you’d better be careful. Some people have an unfortunate tendency to bury their spouses all too often.”

“What are you saying?”

“You should consider why Callan wants to marry you—or why his father wants him to. Camria is a well-off fiefdom, but it’s hardly of much strategic importance. The duke’s heir could set his eyes on a much more advantageous match, striking a union with a foreign noble, or even marrying into the royal family. Your nuptials could be nothing more than a stepping stone for whatever larger scheme he envisions.”

“He can’t subjugate Camria based on a marriage contract alone, not until Callan and I either name or produce heirs. The law is clear—if something should happen to me, the fiefdom would pass to my next-of-blood kin. To you.”

“I am not yet of age to inherit. Your husband could be legally appointed regent, and if that is what they’re after, they don’t need you for any longer than your wedding night.” Ivo shrugged. “Once you say your vows and the marriage is consummated, he could contest the inheritance of your fiefdom at the Queen’s Court if you happen to die under tragic circumstances. And then Callan is once again free to take another spouse. Maybe someone more lucrative.”

It appeared Derek had not been the only one to have thought of that, but again, Ivo had always been the smartest of his siblings, and the most astute, despite his age.

“You make him sound like some sort of fairy-tale villain,” Derek protested, out of some stubborn determination to refuse to be intimidated, whether by Ivo or by his own apprehension.

But he couldn’t help feeling there was something odd about the proposal. It seemed entirely extraneous. Whatever treaty Bergen wanted to sign would have been achieved without a marriage contract to strengthen it, given that Camria was at a dire disadvantage. And Derek entertained no illusions about being so desirable a match as to be of particular interest to the other party. Moreover, while arranged marriages were par for the course among the aristocracy, nobles of similar rank (in this case a newly minted count and the heir apparent of a duchy) did not usually enter such unions for precisely the same considerations of seniority of inheritance Ivo had voiced earlier. If this was all about upholding the peace, it would have been much more reasonable for Duke Bergen to ask for Ivo’s hand in future marriage for his son, as he was the only one of Derek’s younger siblings close enough to the age of maturity.

“I’m saying that by agreeing to accept this proposal you might be placing yourself in danger,” Ivo said.

Check Out the Release Blitz for Crossing the Line: A Dirty Angels MC/Blue Avengers MC Crossover by Jeanne St. James (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Crossing the Line: A Dirty Angels MC/Blue Avengers MC Crossover

Author: Jeanne St. James

Publisher: Double-J Romance, Inc.

Cover Artist/Photographer: Golden Czermak of FuriousFotog

Cover Models: Austin Standage & Zach Fox

Release Date: November 2, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forbidden love, Enemies to Lovers, Gay/Bisexual, MC

Themes: Coming out

Heat Rating: 4 out of 5

Length: 66 450 words / 296  pages

It is a standalone story in the Dirty Angels MC series

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK

 

When the wrong man turns out to be the right one…

Blurb

Nash, a longtime Dirty Angels MC member and lead singer of Dirty Deeds, has a secret. For years, he’s hidden his bisexuality from his brothers, fellow bikers, worried how they’d take the news. But Nash isn’t the only one keeping secrets from his brotherhood. So is Cross, a police officer and member of the Blue Avengers MC.

As opposite as they come, when Cross spots Nash across the bar, he can’t resist the unexpected attraction. Then lines are crossed, boundaries blurred. And they need to survive in two different worlds where men who like other men aren’t usually accepted, and where bikers and cops don’t mix.

Reality and fantasy are two different things. The fantasy being Cross and Nash can be together, that they can make it work. The reality being their situation is impossible. Cross will never give up being a cop. Nash will never give up being a biker. What either of them would have to walk away from is more than anyone should ask for. In the end, fighting reality could be a losing battle in a war they might never win.

Note: A standalone, Crossing the Line is a crossover gay romance involving a member of the Dirty Angels MC and one from the Blue Avengers MC. It includes forbidden love, enemies to lovers, cop vs biker, alpha vs alpha. As with all my books, it has no cliffhanger and an HEA.

 

 

Excerpt 

The man with the long dirty-blond hair, whose name he still did not know, jerked away from him and moved from the bar and through the crowd. Cross saw a few sets of interested eyes following him as he went. He understood that interest because he was feeling it himself.

The man they were watching had long, lean legs which could eat up real estate fast. His hair was a bit shaggy for Cross’s taste and his beard a bit haphazard, but his hazel eyes held a story Cross wanted to hear.

He doubted he’d ever get the chance, but he still wanted a shot at it.

How the man knew he was a cop, Cross didn’t know. He didn’t have a severe haircut like most, nor did he carry an arrogant air. When it came to his job, he tried to be fair. He treated others as he’d want to be treated if he was in their shoes when dealing with an officer of the law.

But the nameless man whose back he watched as he shifted through the crowd, didn’t seem to want to give Cross a chance.

Ignoring his beer, he quickly got to his feet and decided to follow. The more the man refused to give him his name, the more Cross was determined to learn it.

He wasn’t one to give up so easily.

He also wasn’t the one who gave up on his last relationship, his former boyfriend did. Being a cop, he didn’t want the hassle of coming out. Other cops usually didn’t like it when “one of their own” wasn’t quite “one of their own.”

And luckily, his department was one which pretty much stuck to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so Cross kept that shit to himself.

But Jeff didn’t want to keep their relationship a secret. He didn’t want to go back in the closet. He wanted to go to Cross’s station functions, like the annual Christmas party, as a couple. Or attend their own parties and fundraisers.

He also wanted to ride on the back of Cross’s Harley when the Blue Avengers, the law enforcement MC Cross belonged to, did their monthly runs.

That was never going to happen because things with him and his career would never be the same again. He wanted to make corporal by the end of the year, and he figured if he was outed that might not come to fruition. Excuses could be made why Cross wouldn’t get that fucking promotion, even though he was qualified and had time enough on the job, but Cross would know the truth of why he kept getting passed up.

If Cross had to decide between getting dick and his career, he was choosing the one that would most likely last the longest. All he needed was another fifteen years on the job and he could retire with a nice pension and full bennies.

So why the fuck he was tracking the man who refused to give him his name and who had something against cops, Cross didn’t fucking know.

And even though he knew it wasn’t smart, his feet wouldn’t change direction.

No, instead he pushed out the front door of The Cockpit and into the late fall night. The paved lot was well lit, so he spotted his target immediately moving between two rows of cars.

Cross began to jog. He needed to stop him before he left. It would bug the shit out of him if the guy left before Cross ever got to know his name.

Cross was a detail type of guy. Being a cop, that was important. While he could easily see what vehicle the man got into and run his plate, that would be an abuse of power and if he got caught doing that shit, he could kiss his promotion goodbye.

He caught up with him a few vehicles down from the entrance.

“Wait. Hold up.” Cross reached out to grab his arm and stop him. But the man spun on him, taking a defensive position by planting his feet wide.

Cross stepped back giving them space in case the guy tried to take a swing at him.

“What the fuck do you want?”

This was a bad idea. A really bad fucking idea. Cross should go inside and find someone a lot more willing. But for some reason, he couldn’t let this go. He hadn’t had this strong of a reaction to anyone in a long time, even to Jeff. Which probably was why when Jeff broke it off, Cross didn’t give a shit. Yes, he’d miss the sex, but that was it.

The only time Jeff didn’t bore him was when they were in bed, which was another major problem between the two, as well. Cross should’ve known they were doomed from the start.

Not that Cross was looking for any kind of meaningful relationship with this guy. The one who clearly had a thing against cops, which was a big part of who Cross was. But they didn’t have to discuss their career choices or anything much personal at all.

He simply wanted a name.

 

 

About the Author 

JEANNE ST. JAMES is a USA Today bestselling romance author who loves an alpha male (or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing. Her first paid published piece was an erotic story in Playgirl magazine. Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages.

Want to read a sample of her work? Download a sampler book here: BookHip.com/MTQQKK

To keep up with her busy release schedule check her website at www.jeannestjames.com

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sign up for her newsletter: http://www.jeannestjames.com/newslettersignup

 

Social Media Links

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Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of two ebook copies of Crossing the Line.

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Don’t Miss Out on the New Release Blitz for Starting from Scratch (Starting From #2) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Starting From Scratch

Series: Starting From, #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: October 17, 2019

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 80k

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Enemies to lovers, Rock and roll, Hurt-comfort, Opposites attract

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Charlie Rourke is an ultra fabulous human whirlwind on a mission to launch the next biggest band in the world. However, he might have taken on more than he could handle when he signed on to manage Zero. Promoting a rock band and finding gigs shouldn’t be hard. They’re a talented group with a ton of star power. If Charlie can find the right record label, he’s sure he can help them get to the next level. The only problem is the skater boy slash bassist with a quirky sense of humor. He’s annoying and silly, and he’s exactly Charlie’s type. Except he’s straight.

Ky Baldwin isn’t afraid to switch things up. He loves a challenge as much as anyone, but Charlie doesn’t make things easy. Zero’s manager is a force of nature with a razor sharp tongue, a quick wit, and a no-nonsense attitude. Ky can’t stop thinking about him. Winning over Charlie becomes Ky’s pet project. But when the ice between them thaws, neither is prepared for the intensity of going from enemies to lovers. They’ll have to decide if they’re willing to start from scratch and take a chance on the unexpected.

Excerpt

“I know that was random, but it’s not a bad idea if you think about it. Want something to drink?” Charlie asked as he moved toward the kitchen.

I grabbed his wrist before he got anywhere. “Hang on. What are you doing?”

He cocked his head curiously but didn’t pull away. “I’m being practical. If you read any further about Virgos you probably found out we’re known for being sensible. And polite. So, I’m politely asking if you’d like a beverage while sensibly suggesting that I help out with your skating lessons.”

“Okay. First up…I don’t want a fuckin’ snack and second, it’s not a skating lesson. We’re skateboarding,” I said, glowering at him.

“I’ve heard it said both ways. Skating, skateboarding. I looked it up in Urban Dictionary too, so I’m pretty sure I’m right.”

“No. There’s something in your tone that makes it all wrong. Like you’re purposely trying to sabotage this.”

Charlie opened his mouth in a perfect O. “Gasp! I wouldn’t do that!”

“Cut the crap. You’re doing it now. You don’t want to learn, and you don’t want Oliver to either. It’s a control thing. But you can’t control what you don’t fuckin’ get. So take a seat and let me teach him without you freaking out or—why are you looking at me like that?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. You’re doing something weird with your eyes, though. You look spaced out.”

“Mmm. I’m trying not to swoon. You look so fierce and you’re holding my hand, Ky. You should feel my heart. It’s beating out of my chest. Seriously.” He fluttered his lashes a few times and bit his bottom lip.

I chuckled softly and stepped closer. “Are you flirting with me, Char?”

“No, it’s the other way around. You’re flirting with me. Big macho displays really get my motor running. Medium-sized ones do too. I love it when…”

Okay, so I lost myself. I tuned out the sound of his voice and concentrated on him. The mischievous glint in his eyes, the proud set of his shoulders, and the way his mouth curled at the corner. He was doing it again. Owning the moment. Taking it over. Charlie looked for weakness in any form, then slyly made adjustments before moving in for the kill. No doubt he thought I’d back down fast and run away. I wasn’t going anywhere.

I fixated on his bottom lip and inched closer. He kept talking…something about dick size or muscles…I wasn’t sure, but I liked the cadence of his voice. The teasing lilt and easy humor. I let go of his wrist, brushing his fingers before setting my hand on his hip. He went perfectly still.

Before he could ask me what the fuck I was doing, I kissed him.

It was more of a press of lips than a grand gesture. And though it might not rank as the kind of kiss that would change the world, I immediately knew it would change mine.

Everything in me went on high alert. I’d never been so in tune with a moment. The flutter of his eyelashes, the brush of his nose, and the soft sweetness of his lips against mine. Fuck, it was amazing. Like mind-blowing amazing. He tasted like cherries and smelled like sunshine mixed with something exotic.

I couldn’t be sure over the roar of my heart attempting to beat its way out of my chest, but I thought he hummed in approval, so I angled my head slightly to deepen the connection and pulled him closer. If he was anyone else, I probably would have stuck my tongue between his lips and let my hands roam all over his body. I wanted to, but I didn’t want to scare either of us. So I stayed where I was until the need for oxygen became an issue.

Then I jumped back two feet and stared at him with my eyes bugged out. “Holy fuck.”

Charlie set his fingers on his bottom lip and blinked like he was coming out of a daze. “You kissed me,” he said softly.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

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Need A Little Fantasy In Your Life? Check Out the Release Blitz for Yours, Forever After by Beth Bolden (excerpt and giveaway)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Yours, Forever After

Author: Beth Bolden

Cover Artist: Sarah Jo Chreene

Genre/s: MM fairytale/fantasy

Trope/s: Enemies to lovers, forced proximity

Themes: Expectations versus possibilities, good versus evil, subverting expectations

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Word Count: 95 000 words

Add on Goodreads 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link   |  Amazon US   |  Amazon UK

Blurb 

Fifteen years ago, Prince Graham of Ardglass barely escaped from the ancestral castle with his young life. Rescued by a magical creature and spirited off to a faraway valley, he grew into a strong, capable man—never shirking his duties on the farm, but forever bitter over his father’s betrayal. But just when he has finally come to terms with being lost and staying lost, a visitor arrives in his valley and changes everything.

After a lifetime spent lost in his beloved books, Prince Emory awakens to find his villainous aunt working to usurp the throne of Fontaine. When she sends him on a dangerous quest, he’s certain the journey is a trap, but he’s not willing to accept defeat without a fight.

But a fight is something Rory is unprepared and untrained for, until he’s saved by a handsome, unassuming farmhand and his snooty, smug, and surprisingly talkative unicorn.

Excerpt

“Hey, watch yourself,” a voice said, and Rory looked, and then kept looking as a very tall man, shirtless, his face and muscular chest smeared with dirt, rose from the middle of a patch of squash.

Marthe was instantly by his side, sword out of her belt, but the man simply looked at her, expression blank and bored. He spread his empty hands in front of him. “If you’re hungry,” he said, “take what you like. If you are lost, you may stay.”

The man’s hair was long and dark, nearly shaggy, but did not obscure the bright blue eyes that gazed out at him. A bead of sweat trickled down his bare and undeniably dirty pectoral muscle. Rory swallowed hard. He had never met anyone like this man before—someone rough and uncouth and utterly, completely compelling. Rory felt his blood sizzle, like a drop of water on a stove that had been stoked with firewood all day. He stared, mesmerized, by the man. Was he a bandit? He certainly did not seem like one, if his offer of food and shelter was any indication.

“Sir,” Rory said, trying to find his voice under Marthe’s accusing stare, “we are in search of some dangerous criminals who have been looting the supply wagons from Fontaine.”

The man gave him a disbelieving look. “Does it look like we’re harboring bandits here?”

Truthfully, it did not. It looked to Rory that all the man was harboring was an excellent crop of vegetables. As well as a physique that made Rory desperate to reach out and place a palm on that firm chest, even though it was smeared with dirt and sweat. Somehow, that made it even more attractive, though Rory did not think that thought could possibly be logical.

But Marthe was clearly not as distracted by such a fine chest as Rory was. Her glare was still fierce. “You will not mind if I do not take your word for it,” she said. “I would like to search the grounds and buildings of your farm.”

The man threw his head back and laughed. Rory did not know what was so amusing, but he discovered that he was desperate to know.

“There is nothing here but my farming implements, the animals I keep here, and the store of food to last us through the winter,” he admitted. “But feel free to search all you like.”

“Do you have any weapons here?” Marthe asked, her hard voice making it clear she did not believe the act. If it was even an act. Rory was strangely inclined to believe his words, but that might have been because of his beautiful eyes.

“A dagger or two,” the man said, leaning against his shovel. “We have no need of weapons here.”

Marthe sniffed. “We will be the judge of that.” After throwing Rory another reprimanding look, she marched away, clearly intending to find the rest of the guard and do a thorough search of the farm. Rory thought she must not have thought the man was a threat, or else she never would’ve left him alone.

The man stared at Rory, who stared back. “Do you always travel with a full complement of lady warriors?” he asked offhandedly.

Rory blushed. It was impossible to admit to this man, who looked eminently capable of dispatching any threat, weapons or no, that Rory had to, because he could not defend himself. “It was very rude of me not to introduce myself,” Rory said, extending a hand, “I am Prince Emory of the kingdom of Fontaine, but you may call me Rory.”

It was as if his words changed everything. The man’s eyes went blank, his face cold and hard, and he turned away, leaving Rory awkwardly standing with his hand out. “Gray,” he said shortly. “Welcome to the valley.”

One of the reasons Rory had always loved reading was that he felt an inescapable compulsion to know things. His curiosity was legendary, and faced with a man such as Gray, couldn’t have been more engaged even if he’d tried.

“How long have you lived here?” Rory asked, as Gray returned to his squash, carefully digging around a plant. “How did you come to be here? I have never seen this valley on a map before.”

Gray did not bother to meet his eyes as he responded, his tone short and hard. “I have been here many years. It’s a haven for those who are lost, a magical place not found on any maps.”

It did not make any sense at all for Sabrina to believe that the bandits stealing their supplies would hide in a magical valley for the lost. They might have little in the way of a moral compass, but they could hardly be lost.

“Are you lost then?” Rory asked.

Gray looked up then, eyes boring into Rory’s own. He said nothing for a long moment. “Aren’t we all lost?” he asked.

About the Author 

A lifelong Oregonian, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband and their sweet kitten, Earl Grey. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to start a chapter of Keeping Durham Weird.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published thirteen novels and five short stories. Yours, Forever After is her first fantasy/fairytale re-telling.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter

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

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Cover Reveal for The Marshal’s PI (Yours To Protect #2) by Este Holland (excerpt)

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COVER REVEAL

Book Title: The Marshal’s PI

Author: Este Holland

Cover Artist: The Write Designer – Lisa Messegee

Release Date: August 29, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Enemies to lovers

Themes: Forgiveness

Heat Rating:  3.5 flames   

 

Dodging bullets shouldn’t be fun…should it? 

 

Blurb

It is when the man protecting you is hot as sin.

Kai is a happy-go-lucky guy. At least, he was before the mob came knocking on his door. 

He’ll go to any length to protect a secret, even work with US Marshal Gannin West.

The only man who can help.

The only man who drives him crazy.

To figure out how to stop the one who wants Kai erased, he’ll have to cooperate… But will it be too late? 

 

Excerpt 

Kai woke when the SUV stopped and turned off. Stretching, he looked around. “Where are we?”

“A new hotel. I checked out of the Four Seasons.”

“Why?”

“Because if Walcott was watching the bank, he may have seen me there. Don’t want to take any chances.”

“Good point.”

Kai grabbed his bag and followed Gannin to their room. Apparently, he’d already checked in.

“The Golden Nugget? I haven’t been here in a while. What name did you check-in under?”

“Cliff Williams. It’s one of many names we use for hiding witnesses.”

Kai scrunched his face. “Cliff Williams? Why does that sound familiar?”

“He’s in AC/DC. Famous names throw people off.”

“How? Doesn’t it scream fake?”

“No. The bad guys know we’d know they’d think it’s a fake.”

“Gannin, I just woke up. Why are you giving me riddles?” He rubbed at his face with a knuckle, dizzy from the red-and-orange swirly carpet, then looked around the lobby. “Oh, look!” He smacked Gannin’s arm with the back of his hand and pointed to a sign. “There’s going to be a wedding reception here. We should totally crash it.”

Gannin side-eyed Kai. “Why would we do that?”

Kai stared at him with a puzzled frown. “Free cake.”

Shaking his head, Gannin stalked to the elevator.

Kai had to scramble to keep up. “What?”

“I thought you were going to say something else.”

Kai racked his brain. “You thought I wanted free booze?”

Gannin stared straight ahead. “Never mind.”

“Uh-uh. Nope. You have to tell me, or I will bug the ever-loving shit out of you tonight.”

The elevator stopped on the fifth floor, and Gannin led Kai to the end of the hallway.

“I thought you’d be looking for someone.”

“Someone? Like to hook up with?”

Gannin opened the room door. “That was my first thought.”

“What was your second thought?”

“I don’t know.” Gannin dropped his bag onto the queen-sized bed by the door, leaving the other for Kai. “I guess, I thought, no, he probably wants cake.”

Kai chuckled. “I read somewhere that your first thought is society’s conditioning. Your second, is who you are as a person.” Kai kicked his shoes off and wandered around the room checking out the amenities. The beds were fluffy white clouds he couldn’t wait to sink into.

“Huh, that’s interesting. I’ve never thought about it that way before.” Gannin unzipped his suitcase and took his toiletry bag to the bathroom. “But we aren’t going to that reception. We weren’t invited.”

Kai bounced on his bed and opened his duffle. He grabbed his purple sleep pants and followed Gannin into the bathroom. Kai took off his shirt and tried to turn the water on with his injured hand. “Shit!”

“Let me get it.”

Gannin stood close behind Kai and reached around him to twist the knobs.

“Will you wash my back?” Kai lifted his bandaged hand and stuck his bottom lip out.

Gannin straightened, glanced at Kai’s face, his hand; then a big smile shifted his beard. Straight white teeth contrasted sharply from the black whiskers, and his eyes shone with laughter as he chuckled.

Kai was dumbstruck, lost in a sea of gorgeous smiles, not noticing when Gannin reached forward and unbuttoned his jeans. He snapped out of it when Gannin lowered the zipper, and Kai wiggled until they fell, then kicked them off.

“Go ahead. I’ll watch and make sure you don’t use your hand too much.”

 

About the Author 

Este Holland is a writer and reader of all things romance. She’s also a treasure hunter, a word wizard, a lover, and a fighter. She was born in southern WV, and is a reader and writer. She lives in Virginia now, and works in marketing. Her favorite book is impossible to name. Her favorite movie are Romancing the Stone and Some Like it Hot. She began writing her first novel in 2012 and has practiced and studied ever since to get better. 

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram: @este.holland.writer  |  Pinterest

 

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Cover Reveal for Yours, Forever After by Beth Bolden

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COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Yours, Forever After

Author: Beth Bolden

Cover Artist: Sarah Jo Chreene

Genre/s: MM fairytale/fantasy

Trope/s: Enemies to lovers, forced proximity

Themes: Expectations versus possibilities, good versus evil, subverting expectations

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Word Count: 95 000 words

Blurb 

Fifteen years ago, Prince Graham of Ardglass barely escaped from the ancestral castle with his young life. Rescued by a magical creature and spirited off to a faraway valley, he grew into a strong, capable man—never shirking his duties on the farm, but forever bitter over his father’s betrayal. But just when he has finally come to terms with being lost and staying lost, a visitor arrives in his valley and changes everything.

After a lifetime spent lost in his beloved books, Prince Emory awakens to find his villainous aunt working to usurp the throne of Fontaine. When she sends him on a dangerous quest, he’s certain the journey is a trap, but he’s not willing to accept defeat without a fight.

But a fight is something Rory is unprepared and untrained for, until he’s saved by a handsome, unassuming farmhand and his snooty, smug, and surprisingly talkative unicorn.

 

About the Author 

A lifelong Oregonian, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband and their sweet kitten, Earl Grey. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to start a chapter of Keeping Durham Weird.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published thirteen novels and five short stories. Yours, Forever After is her first fantasy/fairytale re-telling.

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter

Newsletter Signup

BookBub

 

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

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On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd
Riptide Publishing

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

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

✒︎

Lindsey Byrd on Designing the World

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blurb

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

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

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

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

Now available from Riptide Publishing and where ebooks are sold.

 

About Lindsey Byrd

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

Twitter: twitter.com/TheLindseyByrd

Tumblr: tumblr.com/blog/lindseybyrd

Email: thelindseybyrd@gmail.com

Goodreads: goodreads.com/LindseyByrd

 

 

Giveaway

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

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

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Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love New Adult Stories? Check Out the Release Blitz for Not Gonna Lie (#lovehim #4) by S.M. James (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Not Gonna Lie

Author: S. M. James

Publisher: May Books

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Release Date:  May 16, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s:  Enemies to lovers

Themes:  Online bullying culture, eating disorder, anxiety

Heat Rating:  1 flame

Length:  85 000 words/ 400 pages

Add on Goodreads

Not Gonna Lie is a standalone story within the #lovehim series.

There’s also the novella prequel (To Be Continued, book 6).

It will show you where it all began for Gram and Digi.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

At this year’s Webcon, nothing will stay secret for long.

Blurb

Everyone has their secrets. 

Last year Digi walked out on Webcon, on his fans, and on Gram. 

Now he’s back determined to give what they had a real shot, but Gram is more prickly than ever, not willing to risk his heart again. 

Despite trying to stay out of the spotlight, the anonymous Public Service Announcements draw Digi back in. As the secrets of the internet’s top celebrities are leaked to the world, it’s only a matter of time before Digi and Gram are next. 

To get through it, they have to set their rivalry aside. 

Will Digi handle the pressure of the bright lights long enough to find who is tearing their world apart? Or will the threat of full exposure be too much for him to handle?

Excerpt

Gram tosses his cell phone onto the bed between us. Playing along, I grab his phone and check the screen, and the selfie we took last night stares back at me. I smile, we both look relaxed and totally comfortable, even though my hand on his thigh had me buzzed in that exact moment.

I set my mug down and toss the phone back to Gram before rolling onto my side. “Reminds me of when we used to vlog together.”

He stares at the photo for a minute. “Yeah. It does. Did you see the comments?”

“Nope.”

“Turns out, people are still insanely curious about where you’ve been for the last year.”

“Eh. Why?”

“Because you disappeared, Digi. You were one of the biggest vloggers and then you were gone. All those comments are asking about you. So … let’s collab.”

“What?”

“Well we’re friends, aren’t we? I haven’t lined up any guest vloggers yet, and if you do this with me, I won’t have to.”

“Yeah, no. I’m not doing that anymore.”

“I’m not saying you have to go back to it, but this will give you a chance to tell your piece, then everyone will stop speculating and you can go back to whatever the bloody hell you’ve been doing.”

I scrunch up my face, not real interested in the idea. “I dunno, Gram. I like being able to come here and not be hassled. If I do that, I’m opening the door on everyone thinking they can stick their noses back into my life.”

He sighs. “I can’t say I don’t understand. And it is your choice though.” Gram watches me, completely unguarded for a change. There’s no tension in his face, and it’s the way I like him best.

“Hey, remember that time we snuck off while our mom’s were on a panel, and went to that dolphin place?”

“Oh yeah …” His gaze goes unfocused and I know he’s remembering that day. “Yeah, that was amazing.”

It was. We’d spent the whole day there, participating in the training sessions and swimming around. Gram hadn’t started dying his hair at that point, and I can still picture the way he kept pushing his black bangs back off his face.  

His gaze flicks to me and away again. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

I blink, noting how wide my smile stretches. “I just felt real close to you that day.”

“Probably because you kept hugging me.”

“I think that’s when we first really became friends.”

“When I first realized I’d never be rid of you.” He pretends to cringe, but doesn’t do enough to cover the affectionate tone.

“When I first realized I never wanted to be rid of you,” I counter, knowing he won’t expect it.

He sighs. “You just say whatever is on your mind, don’t you?”

“Sometimes. Unlike you. You never say what’s on your mind.”

“I do when it’s important.”

“So tell me what you’re thinking now.”

“Well that’s easy, I’m thinking I’m going to be late.”

The smile drops from my face as I glance at the time. “You don’t have to go yet.”

“You know my schedule, do you?”

“I just … I mean, you can hang out for a bit longer if you wanna. We can order breakfast up here. You won’t have to worry about fans interrupting that way.” I’m just throwing out words at this point, but his schedule doesn’t start for another two hours and he’s clearly ready. There’s no reason he has to race off, right?

“I thought you were tired,” he says.

“Not anymore.”

He’s frowning at the bed and it takes him a bit to answer, like he’s trying to come up with an excuse to go. “I told my mother I’d eat with her …”

“You get to see her any old time. We’re only here for two more days, Gram. Would you really deny me your company?”

He laughs despite clearly trying to hold it back, and shoves my shoulder. “Okay, fine. Just stop.”

“Stop what?”

“Being so needy.”

I shrug, sitting up so I’m facing him. “What can I say? I like attention.”

“Tch. No you don’t.”

“I like your attention.”

Gram frowns, wide mouth falling into a pout. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were flirting with me, Digi Lynch.”

I blink, eyebrows pulling up. Flirting with him? Am I? I replay my words over, and actually, I think I might be. Huh. “Would that be a bad thing?”

“It would be a strange thing.” He’s still looking at me odd, so I leave him to be confused and pick up the room phone to order our breakfast.

Gram settles back against the pillows, long legs stretched over the bed and crossed at the ankles. He’s not too much shorter than I am, but he seems smaller. Maybe it’s the over excitable personality he puts on for his vlogs, or the way his delicate face scrunches when he’s trying to be mean. I could scoop him up easily, like I did when we took that photo, and I’m hit with the impulse to do it again.

I grin as I imagine how surprised he’d be if I just grabbed him and pulled him close. I dunno want I’d do when I got him there—hug him for sure, but maybe … maybe he’d let me kiss him again?

“I’m sorry for shaving your eyebrows off,” he says suddenly, glancing over at me.

“Gram that was two years ago.”

“But I didn’t apologize.”

“You didn’t, but like I care now.”

“They’ve never grown back properly though, have they?”

I rub a hand over my eyebrows. “They’re a bit of a mess.”

“They make you look permanently bewildered.”

I laugh, lying on my side so I’m facing him. “To be fair, I feel like I don’t know much of what’s going on anyway.”

“You are adorably vague.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Gram screws his mouth up to the side, but his eyes light up, and it’s all I need to know that he’s definitely flirting with me too.

About the Author

S. M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee. 

Member of SCBWI. 

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBT+ characters.

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