A Lucy Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Isaac really drew the short straw in the family lottery.  He has a wonderful sister, Sue, and bigoted, selfish and homophobic parents.  They constantly barrage Isaac and Sue with demands to get a partner, marry and produce grandchildren.  Since they don’t appreciate or really seem to love their own children, the odds of them being any better with grandchildren is low. Isaac always tries to see the best of them.  “They lived in a closed-off little world, but they weren’t bad people.  Or rather, I liked to think they weren’t.”  Isaac is very firmly in the closet with his parents, not wanting to lose  his family. Luckily Isaac has an amazing group of friends who support and love him.

To combat this parental nightmare one Christmas, Sue brings a fake boyfriend, Logan.  Logan is tattooed, pierced and definitely puts on a bad-boy wastrel attitude.  Of course, Isaac is seriously attracted but doesn’t realize the boyfriend is fake.  So when Logan hits on him in the hallway, he is aroused and appalled.  Being a good brother, he hides in the bathroom to text Sue a warning, which Sue pushes off.  In a phone call, Sue tells Isaac about the fake, and gives her go-ahead for Issac to date Logan.  Since Isaac didn’t realize Sue even knew he was gay, he is shocked.  “So, Isaac, I love you and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay.  If you are, I want you to know that I’m a safe space.”  Sue is a great sister.

So Isaac does call Logan and off on a date they go.  Isaac is less the buttoned down prep he presents for his parents and more his hoodie and jeans wearing, tattooed and pierced real self.  Logan is also his real self, a graphic designer who owns his own company.  Since Logan was at Christmas he knows Isaac isn’t out and asks, “So no plans to tell them?”  Isaac replies that he won’t tell them until there is a significant other important enough to come out for.

As Logan and Isaac begin dating, they get to know each other, they take things pretty slow and talk.  I liked that about them.  Isaac meets Logan’s chosen family of friends (and this concept is a big one through the story).  Isaac doesn’t warm up to Logan’s friends, he always feels like an outsider and as if they don’t like him.  He takes this as proof that friends aren’t your family, because they could leave at any time.  He believes you only get one shot at family, even if they are horrible, and they are connected to you in a way no one else can be, “They’ve been with you from the beginning, for better or worse.”  Get a clue, Isaac!  When his amazing friends try to remind him they love him and they are his family, he upsets them.  “You have us.” “Yeah, but you’re not family.”  He hurts his friends so much with that, and he continues to do so, not understanding their point at all.  He won’t even accept the term “chosen family”, instead repeatedly saying they are friends.  “I wanted my family, blemishes and all.”  I wanted to smack him for being so obtuse.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand his view on this.  It irked me because the things he was throwing out there weren’t true even for him.  “Family wouldn’t break apart over something as small as this.  Because family loves you no matter what, because you’re bound by blood.”  Except that wasn’t true.  “Well, no matter what, unless you’re gay and your parents are homophobes.”

Logan really is patient with Isaac but he also knows his own self worth.  He is badly hurt when Isaac repeatedly won’t even mention Logan to his parents, pretending he is seeing no one and going to see them alone.  When Isaac suggests they move in together, Logan is so happy.  Except Isaac still doesn’t want to tell his parents.  So Logan would be the “roommate” or the “good friend”, or some other lie to explain away why they were living together.  But it’s been six months.  What happened to ‘I’ll tell them when it’s serious’?”  I couldn’t blame him for thinking Isaac wasn’t as invested as he was. Even Isaac knows.  “It’s not like that.”  But it was like that.  Exactly like that.”  And yet he still puts his nasty parents ahead of the man he claims to love, as well as his friends.

His parents, particularly his father, are so loathsome.  Racist, bigots, homophobes all, but also just rude and nasty.  I hated them even more knowing that way too many real life parents are just like this.  Made me angry and so sad.  Isaac has a lot of growing to do and I didn’t understand his willingness to put up with everything they spewed at him but I also could see the steps he was slowly trying to take.  And there is a point where he and Logan are fighting, and it is Logan who uses the, “Isaac, it’s not like that”, and this time I could see Isaac’s point.  He is made to feel he over-reacted but I could see how it would hurt.

I liked this story even as Isaac made me want to scream at times.  There are solid positive secondary characters in Sue and Isaac’s friends, Jackson, Emmett, Roe, Jenna, Marc and Laura.  I’d love to say Isaac’s parents were over the top but unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there are too many families that are just like this.  I would love to know what happens to Logan and Isaac in in the future and I was so happy when Isaac finally, finally got the true meaning of family. 

Cover Art: L.C. Chase.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 248 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleHard Truths
ISBN139781626498464
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: fangjunkie27 (FangFinder #1) by Lyssa Dering

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

fangjunkie27-fangfinder-1-by-lyssa-deringOne human. One dhampir. Seventy-two hours where anything goes.

Shameless vampire addict Eli spends every waking moment chasing pleasure, securing invites to vampire den after vampire den via the vampire/human social network FangFinder. This weekend, he’s signed up for his most extreme adventure yet, a 72-hour party where a legal contract serves as his voluntary consent to anything and everything the den members decide to do to him…

Strong and silent type Orion is the only member of his den without fangs, a dhampir who wears metal points on two fingers so he can give the human guests what they crave. What he craves is a release for the savage half of his nature; he wants to force a human into submission. When his fellow den members inform him that Eli has signed up for just this treatment, Orion lays claim to him for the weekend.

But Eli would never have agreed to spend three days with a half-breed, and he’ll fight Orion’s touch every chance he gets. Even if the pleasure he finds in the dhampir’s grip is more intense than anything he’s ever felt with a vampire…

fangjunkie27 (FangFinder #1) by Lyssa Dering is a  dark, violent short tale of 72 hours in a junkie’s life.  Instead of drugs or alcohol, Eli is chasing the high he felt from his first vampire bite and there’s nothing he won’t do or hasn’t done to get it.  He’s an addict in every way, including the sometime denial, the back history that helps with an addictive nature and the worst of an addictive’s personality.  On top of that?  Eli is somewhat masochistic (he wavers on this), likes being forced, is prejudiced towards dhampirs, in his words…he’s a “mess, a suicidal mess”.

Orion is unusual in this sort of fiction.  He’s a dhampir that is fangless (his solution to that is neat but one I’ve seen before), mortal and angry about that.  That last bit is  quite understandable. Yes, he gets called names under the guise of being “one of the gang”, yes, he’s looked down on for those characteristics by Eli who wants a ‘true vampire’.  Let the beatings and non-con sex ensue. I said it was  dark and violent.  Orion truly doesn’t have that much more going for him at least outside of the job at the den.  All he seems to have is this “den”, no other outside income or place of his own. So in a way he’s as dependent as Eli because of his less than desired stature.

There is a  redeeming factor to Orion.  He wants to give the people who come to him what they want.  Part of the game for him is figuring that out.  Eli is more puzzling than normal and that makes Orion even angrier.  Yes, more beatings and angry sex.

To give Dering some credit, its not quite as basic as that.  There’s some layering going on to both characters which is why this story got 3 stars.  But in the end you’re spending the weekend with a masochistic junkie and the angry, insecure somewhat sadistic Dom in charge of him. Look at that sentence and think hard about that. There’s an unlikely ending tacked on here probably to give reason for a second story but instead it just makes you wonder why this vampire den isn’t charging for this “cure’ for addiction.  To me this just felt unfinished, not enough payment for having to stay with Eli for 72 tortuous hours.  I’m stopping now before I rethink that 3 star rating.

For those of you who enjoy dark fiction, erotica, BDSM without restraints (no restraints here-that’s part of the contract at the den), a dhampir with quirks and fangs of his own and an blood addict on a downward spiral, this book is for you.

Cover art is dark which is certainly suitable for this story.

Sales Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Book Details:

 

Kindle Edition, 81 pages
Published February 2nd 2017 by Disobedient Publications, LLC
ASINB01N0WXHMR
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesFangFinder #1

A MelanieM Review: Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path #1) by Amy Tasukada

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

blood-stained-tea-by-amy-tasukadaA bloody past haunts him. A devastating present calls him back…

Nao hides from his violent past in the Japanese mob by opening a teahouse in Japan’s cultural center, Kyoto. His past comes flooding back when he discovers a gravely injured man with a tattooed chest, a bloody knife, and a Korean business card.

Saehyun would’ve died if not for Nao’s help. He knows nothing of his savior’s connection with the local mafia, but Saehyun has his own secrets. He commands the Korean mafia, the mortal enemy of Nao’s former syndicate.

As Nao and Saehyun grow closer, so does the strength of the Korean mob. A shocking murder pulls Nao back into a past he’d all but abandoned. War is looming, and Nao must choose between protecting Saehyun or avenging the honor of his old mafia family..

The Yakuza Path: Blood Stained Tea is the first book in a series of Japanese mafia thrillers. If you like complex characters, blood-soaked violence, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s gritty crime masterpiece.

 

This was undoubtedly one of the hardest reviews I’ve had to write in the past year, most of it is totally my fault.  I approached this story full of false assumptions. I skimmed over the blurb and immediately assumed that it was a murder/mystery romance with a Yakusa foundation along the lines of some of my favorite romances and I could not have been more wrong.  Those false expectations colored my viewpoint for two thirds of this story.  Luckily, the plot, the characters and the superb writing kept taking my assumptions and drowning them in the river in Kyoto, along with many, many bodies.

Make no mistake.  This is a brutal story.  These characters are not some criminals with heinous crimes that occur off the page.  There is torture, extreme violence that happens at once.  They are in many respects, psychopaths (especially one). Tasukada does not look away from how they got to this point in their lives, the reality of both the Korean mafia and the Yakuza in Japan.  Not for the soldiers at the basest level living in the worst possible conditions, gun fodder in the many battles or the people in the neighborhoods who become expendable in the gang fight for territory.

I know, some of you might be wondering. Why read this?  Because its engrossing, compelling.  I couldn’t put it down.  Its human drama on both an intimate and huge scale.  The author brings in both the ancient City of Kyoto and its past, the tea culture of Japan and so much more effortlessly folded into not only a psychological drama  but a gritty crime masterpiece as it says above.  Yes it deserves that in every sense that The Godfather deserves it as well.  And this is merely the first story, the first step forward.  What a gut cruncher, a heartbreaker and mindtwister Blood Stained Tea turns out to be.  Shocking really.

And it all starts with confused Nao, hiding in his Tea shop, looking for the perfect oolong tea and never finding it.

This story is still haunting me.   And yes, I need that second story.  I need to read it even as I’m cringing in expectation over what I will find there. Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path #1) by Amy Tasukada will top my list of Best Books of 2017.  It may be the top book of 2017.  Its that good.  Don’t go looking for love and romance.  It won’t be found in the blood stained tea. What you will find is a complex, human drama that will surprise you at every turn, make you run through the range of our emotions and emerge still hopelessly connected to this world and characters. Yes I think masterpiece is the word that belongs here.

The cover is perfect as it highlights an important element in the story.

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 319 pages
Published November 28th 2016 by Macarons & Tea Publishing
ISBN139780997865318
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love a Terrific Crime Novel? Check out Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path #1) by Amy Tasukada (giveaway)

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Blood Stained Tea – Amy Tasukada

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Length: 85,000 words

Blurb

Nao hides from his violent past in the Japanese mob by opening a teahouse in Japan’s cultural center, Kyoto. His past comes flooding back when he discovers a gravely injured man with a tattooed chest, a bloody knife, and a Korean business card.

Saehyun would’ve died if not for Nao’s help. He knows nothing of his savior’s connection with the local mafia, but Saehyun has his own secrets. He commands the Korean mafia, the mortal enemy of Nao’s former syndicate.

As Nao and Saehyun grow closer, so does the strength of the Korean mob. A shocking murder pulls Nao back into a past he’d all but abandoned. War is looming, and Nao must choose between protecting Saehyun or avenging the honor of his old mafia family..

The Yakuza Path: Blood Stained Teais the first book in a series of Japanese mafia thrillers. If you like complex characters, blood-soaked violence, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s gritty crime masterpiece.

Author Bio

Amy Tasukada lives in a catless home in North Texas. (She enjoys cats but can’t quite make that kind of commitment yet.) As an only child her day dreams kept her entertained, and at age ten she started to put them to paper. Since then her love of writing hasn’t cease. When she’s not chasing after stray cats, she can be found drinking hot tea and filming Japanese street fashion hauls on her Youtube channel.

 

https://www.amytasukada.com/

 Giveaway

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Love Sci Fy? Check out The Silvers by J.A. Rock (giveaway tour)

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The Silvers

The Silvers by J.A. Rock
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by Simoné

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have J.A Rock here today talking about her latest release, The Silvers. Welcome, J.A.

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Hi! I’m J.A. Rock, and right now I’m touring the internet talking about my latest release, The Silvers. Thanks so much to the blogs that are hosting me on this tour, and be sure to leave comments on the tour posts for a chance to win a $15 Riptide Publishing gift card!

About The Silvers

What humans want from the Silver Planet is water. What they find is a race of humanoids who are sentient, but as emotionless and serene as the plants and placid lakes they tend.

B, captain of the mission, doesn’t believe that the “Silvers” are intelligent, and lets his crew experiment on them. But then he bonds with Imms, who seems different from the others—interested in learning, intrigued by human feelings. And B realizes that capturing, studying, and killing this planet’s natives has done incalculable damage.

When a fire aboard B’s ship kills most of the crew and endangers Imms, B decides to take him back to Earth. But the simplicity of the Silver Planet doesn’t follow them. Imms learns the full spectrum of human emotions, including a love B is frightened to return, and a mistrust of the bureaucracy that wants to treat Imms like a test subject, even if they have to eliminate B to do it.

About the Author

J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including By His Rules, Take the Long Way Home, and, with Lisa Henry, The Good Boy and When All The World Sleeps. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of The Silvers, J.A. Rock is giving away $15 in Riptide Publishing credit. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 16, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Free Dreamer Review: Retribution (Tribute #2) by Kate Pearce

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Retribution_600x900Cheated out of his exit from the Tribute program, Kai Mexr is forced to return as a trainer for one more year. His trainee, Aled Price, is an idealistic Mitan patriot who Kai struggles not to loathe on sight, and who seems up for any challenge Kai sets him. As Aled learns to give up control and endure the program’s worst, Kai is drawn into an intense sexual game that leaves him wanting more.

But then Aled must fulfill his duty as Tribute. He must endure the Ungrich—or die.

When Aled returns, it takes Kai’s ruthless presence to pull his trainee back from the brink of madness. Surviving the Ungrich makes Aled doubt his blind allegiance to his planet—and to everything else he’d never thought to question. But with Kai at his side, Aled finds a new cause to believe in. And with the help of master trainer Akran and his partner Anna Lee, Aled and Kai forge unbreakable allegiances of blood, sex, and love that could save the entire planet from the Ungrich for good.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: Dubious Consent, Non-Consent, Explicit Violence, Heavy Kink

 First of all: Please do take that warning seriously. I don’t think there was a single really consensual sex scene in this book. There was even a bit of tentacle rape, though that was rather short and non-explicit. There’s also a LOT of kink here. If any of those things bother you, this is not a book for you.

I didn’t read book one of the series but I never felt like I missed vital information. So this definitely works as a stand-alone, even if the ending has a very mean cliff hanger.

Essentially, “Retribution” is 100 pages of pure sex, with a bit of combat training mixed in. The sex was really, really hot and very kinky. I decided not to read this while out in public after a few pages. It had me all hot and bothered. 😉

I didn’t realize there would be in this, so I was a little worried when I started reading and saw the tentacles at the beginning of each chapter. Tentacle rape is so not my kind of thing, but those scenes were mercifully brief and unlike everything else, also rather non-explicit.

There was no real plot here and the world-building was pretty much non-existent. Honestly, I didn’t mind that much. The occasional bit of porn is fun and this had just the right length.

If you’re looking for a quick, hot read with tons of kink and don’t mind non-/dub-con, then you’ll like “Retribution”. Just don’t expect too much plot.

I’m not sure if I want to read part 3 as well, since that seems to be M/M/F, which I’ve never tried.

The cover by Lou Harper is quite hot, just like the story. Well done.

Sales: Riptide Publishing |  |Amazon |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages
Published October 5th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN1626492883 (ISBN13: 9781626492882)
Series: Tribute