2013 Pulp Friction Series Finale, Finale Contest and Odd Man Out!

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Pulp Friction 4 covers

Today ScatteredThoughts is welcoming back authors Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Laura Harner and Tom Webb to talk about the last book in the Pulp Friction series…all of the series…, Odd Man Out.  Odd Man Out was written by all of the authors and ties up all the storylines for each author’s main character or characters.  There is a sensational contest to go along with this series finale, Odd Man Out 2013 Finale coverbut before we get to the contest, lets meet our authors for our final Pulp Friction get together of 2013!

Meeting already in progress, let’s listen in….

Havan: Right now, here, talking about this—this feels like it might’ve been the quickest year of my life. I swear just a couple of days ago Laura came to us with—

Wait a second…how rude, here I am assuming that you know us and our dastardly delicious Pulp Friction stories…introductions may be appreciated…”us” is Laura Harner, T.A. Webb, Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows…now back to our ramblings *winks*

—so Laura approached us with this crazy idea of bad guys being good guys and serial pulp fiction booklets and lots of man love…or something like that. After we completely thought she’d taken up some sort of (perhaps illegal lol) habit and realized she was just naturally…um…spunky like that…lmao…we sat and thought about her proposition.

I just love saying that…Laura propositioned 3 people at once…and we accepted!

And…Pulp Friction was born.

Flash forward roughly a year…and we’re now saying good-bye to the characters that became a part of our lives. Oh I’m not kidding, when Zack got mad at Wick it was hard as hell for me to not think that Laura was mad at me…and when Rory walked out on Chance hearts broke and we wanted to wrap our arms around Chance and tell him it would be okay. These are our boys, our hearts and souls…we’ve brought a very turbulent year of their lives to you and hope that you—our readers—love them as much as we do.

The dynamics of these men are really mind-boggling. We were already friends when we decided to test our boundaries with this endeavor. We knew that we could spend elongated periods of time together and not want to do each other bodily harm…lol…but could we write together? Could we allow the others into our minds and create—develop something that readers would enjoy? (Because make no mistake, even though only the last book is a combined effort we were holding each other’s hands through every single one of the twenty books that came before the finale.) That’s a scary as hell concept for private people to bear.

But we did it…and when the finale came around four extremely talented (some maybe a tad bit melodramatic *cough cough* or a touch hard-headed) and dedicated authors worked together and wrote one blazingly hot and holy-shit-hang-on-for-your-life-roller-coaster ride of a book.

Oh – and just for the record – our voices freaking sing when combined…*bows*.

And now it’s time to say good-bye to what started as five bad guys being good guys and ended as nine men (throw in a cousin & aunt, a housekeeper/mother figure, a manager of a bar & smartening up cop, a brother with two kiddos and a voice across the line) and well—that’s one hell of a family that no one wants to cross and anyone would be proud to be a part of.

We’ll miss them, we’ll think of them often and we’ll always have a place for them in us.

That being said…we’re ready to wow you next year when we take on Flagstaff and see what kind of trouble we can rouse up there.

Lee: Havan, I think you said everything that we’re all feeling right now. I’d just like to add a big thank you to readers and reviewers who supported us with such enthusiasm in this whole endeavor. It isn’t the usual fare in today’s world of instant gratification. This whole concept of waiting to find out what happens next? Well, we knew it would tick some people off, but we hoped you’d love it as much as we did! People like Melanie and Will Parkinson wowed us with their responses, and that is so encouraging. Big hugs and lots of love to all of you!

Laura:  What she said. And then some. I really had no idea what this would turn into by the end of our first year together, but I can tell you, that just as the characters grew into a family, so have the PF writers. Friends who aren’t afraid to test the limits only come along so often in life. I’m grateful to have Havan, Lee, and Tom in mine. Tom wasn’t able to be with us today, but he and I have talked so much this past year about just how lucky we are to be part of this magical collaboration. He is always so appreciative of the amazing reader response to Marcus and Ben.

Havan: Oh-kay…the feelings have been tossed out there, our boys have shared every side they have…and the Macallans Whisky has run dry—well if that isn’t our cue to wrap this up nothing is. But we don’t want to leave ya’ll empty handed…because you should always have something in your hand *winks* soooooooooooo…time for some fun.

Leave a comment…any comment you want, we aren’t picky…and FOUR lucky winners will be picked—each to receive one of the four compilations we published of the series. Oh…don’t forget to leave your email address also! And for the ones keeping count at home—yes we just said we will be giving away a total of twenty books to four lucky winners…a set of each of the series…so leave your comment already *points to comment area*

Contest Rehash (because I always wanted to use that word): Leave a comment here and four winners will be picked to receive one of the four compilations of the series.  That’s 24 books to 4 lucky winners, wow.  A set for each of you.  And please leave us your email address as well so we can get in touch.  I mean, this is remarkable.  Here is what the winners will get:

Wicked Truths coverWicked’s Way Series by Havan Fellows:

Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #1)
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #2)
Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #3)
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4)
Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Chance In Hell coverChances Are Series by Lee Brazil:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1)
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2)
Fifty, Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are, #3)
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are, #4)
Chance in Hell (Chances Are #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Darkest KNight coverCity Knight Series by T.A. Webb:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Duplicity coverTriple Threat Series by Laura Harner:

Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1)
Retribution (Triple Threat #2)
Defiance (Triple Threat, #3)
Crucify (Triple Threat, #4)
Duplicity (Triple Threat #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Review: Ride-Off (Polo #2) by Mickie B. Ashling

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Ride-Off coverPreston Fawkes and Konrad Schnell are finding it tougher than they had imagined to begin their new life together after their long separation.  With families to combine as well as ranches,  Preston and Kon are also dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath of Kon’s airplane crash, subsequent years of amnesia, and  their desperate need for each other that is taking priority over everything and everyone else in their life, including their children.

Kon’s son, Bandi wants to play polo but has entered the game with three disadvantages.  One is that he is older than the other players and everyone suspects that it is because of his father, Preson and his lover Ned that is getting him ahead and spots on the team instead of his talent.  Sasha Fawkes has always been the only son but now he not only has to share his dad with Kon but with Bandi and the newly arrived Paloma as well.  And Sasha is not happy at all.  He is struggling with his career as a actor and the lack of a love life and a secret that he has kept hidden from his father for years.  Then Paloma, his step sister, arrives from South America, demanding her father’s time, money as well as expertise and the situation with all the children explodes into an emotional mess with  reverberations for all.  What a Thanksgiving the Fawkes-Schnell family is having but there is more to come as an evil from the past invades their lives, shaking them to their very foundations of love and family.

Well, lets start off with the positive things about Ride-Off, the second in the Polo series by Mickie B. Ashling.  I did like this story better than its precursor.  With more family members included in the storyline, it achieved a more cohesive balance as far as characterizations and relationships than the previous story.  In fact, the Prologue is the scene of a sexual attack on another member of the Fawkes family, although the identity of this person is not revealed until later in the story.  The relationship of Konrad Schnell and Preston Fawkes serves as a foundation but not truly the only focus of Ride-Off. That job is left to their combined family of Bandi, Sasha, and Paloma  and their significant others.

Each son is given their own portion of the story, including current drama and items from the past that are impinging upon their future.  Conrad “Sasha” Fawkes is perhaps the most destabilized of all the children by their fathers intense and all consuming relationship.  He is, by his own words, pouting and upset that he is no longer just the focus of his father’s admiration and attention. I suspect how you relate to Sasha will color how highly you will enjoy this book as this character and his actions take over the story.  I found myself unable to relate to him at all in the beginning but as new information about his past is revealed, this character becomes an object of our sympathies.  And that change in outlook with help engage our affections for Sasha as the story unfolds.  Side by side with Sasha is Jeremy, a flamboyant makeup artist with his own agenda.  I adored Jeremy.  His character almost made the story for me.  His is a layered persona that just oozes charm along with a depth of character sometimes missing from the other “players” in the story.

Bandi, his older lover Ned, and Paloma the step sister who arrives to upset their relationship as well as everyone elses around her become more like satellite characters, reduced to secondary status by the stories of Kon and Preston, and Sasha and Jeremy.  In fact Ned leaves halfway through only to reappear at the end and tie up the loose threads of his and Bandi’s relationship.  Only Paloma remains strong enough of a character to hold her own against those other couples and the author’s need to tell their stories. The fact that Paloma is such a great character that she grabs our attention in a small amount of time demonstrates Ashling’s ability to create characters that achieve instant popularity with their  personas even if we may not always like their actions, something the author did with Preston Fawkes, Paloma’s father.

The sport of polo itself is reduced to a minor character here although the people on whom the story is focused are almost constantly talking about it.   People ride or practice the game in small asides but the game itself is lost in this book.  I don’t have an issue with this, just made note of it.

More problematic is the use of bdsm in Preston and Kon’s relationship.  I do have issues with this element of the story and have done my best to research it in hopes to resolve the “red flags” that popped up in the manner in which this alternative sexuality is used.  Instead of resolving my questions it only served to further highlight them.

Here’s the deal.  Kon’s son was attacked back in Russia and he has not dealt with that fact.  So he is angry, along with untreated PTSD issues from his injuries from his airplane crash.  He won’t attend “normal” therapy sessions so their friend, a doctor and Dom, suggests BDSM as a form of therapy, a way to work through his anger issues. And that raised the first flag.  I searched throughout the internet and couldn’t find any known medically approved usage of bdsm as a therapy tool.  Nor any doctor or group to proscribe its usage in this manner.  Perhaps Ashling can point to another source I couldn’t locate, but I couldn’t find one.  Now take that fact and add to it the following facts and perhaps you will start to see the real problem here.  I will list them as they are mentioned in the story:

1.  No Safe Word. Kon and Pres discarded the use of it because they only have these “scenes infrequently”. But that only makes a safe word more important, not less.  If these “bdsm scenes” are used infrequently than how are the partners to know each others typical physical responses to the violence that is occurring?  Familiarity is helpful in these situations so a partner can tell when it is getting out of control and stop the scene.

2. Intense physical fighting,rage with dry penetration, to the point one person has to be “snapped out of it” because he no longer recognizes his partner. The one person is attacking the other, substituting him for the man who sexually abused his son. (another huge flag). The author has one partner “snap” the other one out of it by kissing and saying I love you. Not a recommended procedure because you are supposed to use words that are not ordinarily in use, not ones you use in your day to day relationship.

3.  The promotion of this as a type of therapy by a doctor friend although I can’t find any mention of such anywhere on medical sites. or even dubious sites. Yes, the man is a Dom and their friend but as he is also mentioned as the doctor they went to for help with Konrad’s mental and emotional issues, he is also acting as their physician.

4.   Another issue that bothered me was making your partner “a target” of all that anger by imagining them as the person who attacked their son.  I still wonder at the damage that might inflict on a relationship.  Because the subconscious is a tricky thing and even though those scenes were infrequent in the story, a seed has been planted that could be poisonous later on.

I spoke to several people, one from the local bdsm dungeon and another familiar with the lifestyle, about the manner in which bdsm (resistance and bondage, even autoerotic asphyxiation) is used here.  Both acknowledged that they found it not only “unusual” but  in one person’s words “scary”.

It would take someone with more insight and knowledge of the bdsm lifestyle then myself to know whether the author has truly portrayed it accurately but the aspects of its use as it pertains to Jon and Preaston relationship that I have mentioned continue to bother me.  So many readers take it to be “gospel” if it is in a book.  And from the information I did gather in no way should any of the mentioned bdsm elements in Ride Off be taken as “gospel”.  Perhaps this won’t bother you as a reader but if accuracy matters, than you might want to conduct your own research and come to your own conclusions, just as I have.

Finally, there are a few other quibbles to mention.  Another sexual attack on a minor that appears at the beginning of the story and then disappears until the author trots it out again towards the end to insert a certain amount of angst and drama seems contrived and unnecessary because there are so many other good things about Ride-Off to enjoy.  I liked Sasha and Jeremy, I liked parts of Kon and Preston.  I also enjoyed the heck out of Paloma.  Weighing the finer points of this story against those issues raised by the author’s use of bdsm kept this book’s rating firmly in the middle of the scale.  If those things don’t bother you, than you might consider this a 4 star story and enjoy it more throughly than I did.

I would recommend this book to those of you who loved Fire Horse (Polo #1) and the other offerings by this author.  I would also recommend it with reservations to others looking for a story with multiple love relationships, including those with a kink, and a family saga to go along with it.  But take heed and don’t take the bdsm at face value.  Do your own research, make up your own mind. And then tell me what you thought about this story and that aspect of it.  I can’t wait to hear what you thought about it all.  Write me.

Cover art by Anne Cain is absolutely gorgeous and perfect for the series and novel within.

Book Details:

Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 18th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627982647 (ISBN13: 9781627982641)
series Polo

Review: Corruption (Diversion #3) by Eden Winters

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Corruption coverSNB Agent Simon “Lucky” Harrison has had many lives and just as many names. He started life and entered criminal life as Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter.  He exited life that way too when it  became necessary to fake his death as a part of a pharmaceutical drug operation that turned ugly and ended up with Lucky “fatally” injured in the hospital.  Now Simon “Lucky” Harrison is a successful agent at the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau.  He is still recovering from his leg injury he incurred during the last drug bust when a new illegal drug operation comes to light.  When a young business woman dies on a dance floor from an overdose of bath salts, she is but the first of many.  The SNB clues lead to a local motorcycle gang and Lucky thinks he is the one most likely to be chosen to go undercover.  But his bosses have another idea.  They choose Bo, Lucky’s partner and love, although he would be the last to admit it.

Former Marine Bo Schollenberger, now SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger has turned his new career into a huge success.   Now his bosses at the    SNB want him to impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper, a bad ass drug dealing biker, a total opposite from the real Bo.  Bo has been taking  classes in undercover work and excelling at adopting various personas to everyones amazement.  But Bo is hiding a secret about his chameleon-like ability, one that just might get him killed or at least lose the man he loves, Lucky Harrison.

Soon Bo is deep undercover and becoming a man Lucky would never recognize.  Brutal, ruthless and deadly, Bo settles things with his fists or a gun and soon rises to the top of the organization.  When another agent dies, Bo needs another man to be his backup and guess who arrives?  But has Lucky arrived too late to save Bo?

With the third book in the Diversion series, Corruption by Eden Winters finds the two main characters at a crossroads in both their careers and their relationship.  In the last outing, we watched as Lucky finally realized that he loved Bo but he had  problems vocalizing his need as well as his love, while Bo was able to tell Lucky he loved him.  That emotional change and uneven state of affairs brought about new issues for Lucky, a man unsure of his position and ability to give Bo what he needs, including a stable relationship and a home.  Bo also  seemed to realize the many challenges ahead if he wanted Lucky in his life.  Corruption begins with both men questioning the relationship and their ability to go forward with a future together.

I love the complexities that Eden Winters continues to build into this series as well as her main characters.  In each new book, she adds new layers and textures to their relationship while revealing more of the depths to each man’s character and past.  Lucky has to be one of the most unusual main characters in  recent m/m romance or any romance for that matter.  A former drug lord’s boy toy and thief, he now works for the same agency that put him away.  But Lucky’s past is only as far away as the next emotional crisis of which there are many these days.  As Walter, his boss and father figure, presses Lucky to take on new responsibilities within the agency, Lucky fights to keep everything the same in his life, both his career and his romance with Bo.  Lucky likes the stasis he had achieved with Bo and his job at the SNB and any change throws Lucky off guard, bringing up old and new insecurities as well as painful instances from his past life.  Bo is pressing for changes as well.  Bo wants a commitment and not just a verbal one. He wants a very specific physical acknowledgement that they are on the same mental and emotional page with each other and Lucky is reluctant to give Bo what he wants.

As the story is told from Lucky’s pov, the reader has an intimate knowledge of Lucky’s thoughts and feelings as Bo presses for more than Lucky is able to give him at the moment.  We understand that Lucky can’t figure out why he is having problems moving forward while knowing exactly what is behind  Lucky’s refusal to change his relationship with Bo because Eden Winters has crafted a man whose motives are elusive only to himself and not those around him.   Equal in complexity to Lucky is the character of Bo Schollenberger.  His depths are still forthcoming as is the pain he continues to carry around with him from his past.  Bo’s position within the SNB has been changing with each book.  Bo has been steadily acquiring new skills and respect within the agency to Lucky’s consternation and pride.  One issue Bo has had in the past has been his emotional involvement with the people he has met undercover and this new case will test everything about Bo, from his character to his ability to continue to work for the SNB.

When Bo goes undercover as Cyrus Cooper, Winters creates yet another fully realized character, only this persona lays overtop a character we already know and love.  Cyrus Cooper is Bo’s complete opposite and yet he is Cyrus Cooper, a fact that not only the reader has to recognize but Lucky as well.  This is quite an achievement by Eden Winter.  She gives us two completely real yet opposing characters inhabiting the same body and makes us believe in both of them.  And then she elevates this aspect of the story by having Lucky relate in different ways to Bo and Cyrus, changing his approach to each man emotionally and sexually.

And as if all this is not enough, Winters throws in multiple plot threads, a charismatic and scary motorcycle gang lord, and a drug bust that ends in a shocking revelation that changes everything for Lucky, Bo, Walter and the SNB.  It is a bit of a cliffhanger and still this is an incredibly satisfying book.

Eden Winters introduced us to the regulations and corporate structures of the pharmaceutical industry and made them seem as foreign and obtuse as any business that has been twisted for criminal means.  It has been a real revelation and a remarkable foundation for this romance action series or whatever you want to label it.  I find myself hesitating, not wanting to put the  limitations of a label on such a unique and revelatory series and cast of characters.  I only know that I want and need more of them and the dubious path that Winters has laid out before them.  It’s an amazing journey and I know you will want to be here with me every step of the way.

If you are new to the series, don’t start here.  Go back to Diversion and start at the beginning of this marvelous series.  Here are the books in the Diversion series in the order they were written and should be read:

Diversion (Diversion #1)
Collusion (Diversion #2)
Corruption (Diversion #3)

Book Details:

ebook, First, 195 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Rocky Ridge Books
edition languageEnglish
url http://rockyridgebooks.com/2013/10/01/corruption/
series: Diversion #3