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

A MelanieM Review: Running on Empty (Havoc #3) by S.E. Jakes

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

After years of running wild, Linc might’ve finally run out of road.

After a brutal capture at the hands of the Heathens Motorcycle Club, Linc is just trying to heal, mentally and physically. But he’s got men in his life who are complicating everything. There’s Mercy—a Havoc MC biker and the man he is falling fast for—plus an undercover ATF agent and a rogue Havoc member.

But Mercy’s keeping him at arm’s length, and Linc is spinning. In an attempt to regain his equilibrium, he heads to the bar where he first met Mercy. Night after night, he escapes Havoc bonds and continues down his merry path of mayhem . . . mainly in the hopes that Mercy will give chase.

Since Linc’s capture by his old MC, Mercy’s been dealing with the fallout of his guilt. He’s trying to give Linc space and still watch over him—all without Linc’s knowledge. But with Linc’s old job calling and a threat to Havoc MC heating up, can they make their way back together?

I have to admit that it has been a while since I have read one of S.E. Jakes stories, bothin this series and in the Hell or High Water series, but if this novel is any indication, I’m just not remembering them right.  I had anticipated coming into this a taut, well written,  somewhat kinky romance with some brutal and suspensful elements.

But instead Running on Empty (Havoc #3) by S.E. Jakes came full of errors in editing and continuity that I had to double check to see that I hadn’t been sent a pre-edited copy.   I hadn’t.   Ot just plain elements in the plot and characters that had me putting Kindle down in amazement, and not in a good way.  When you are stopping to think “who treats their main characters that way” mid paragraph, you know the story isn’t going well.  Perhaps that should be going down well.

Although, most of Linc’s torture in captivity is not described in graphic detail, you get enough details to know what happened to this man for months, months of relentless torture. Mental, physical, emotional abuse of the most horrific you can imagine, including gang rape, over and over.   He is hospitalized and then released.  Later he’s approached and agrees to resume his undercover work.  Now, he’s suffering from extreme nightmares, obviously has PTSD but has anyone, including his handler said he must come in for a Psych Evaluation?  Because perhaps he’s too messed up to continue as a agent let alone one ready for the mental and emotional rigors of undercover work? Nope.

Nor will we get into the relationship between Linc and Mercy coming off months of torture.

This is definitely not a standalone novel and should be read as part of the entire series.  So before you read this, make sure you have a foundation by reading the previous stories first.  That will get you into the mindset of the MC universe and these characters.  Then continue on if  you want. For me, this story just has far too many issues in it to be an enjoyable read.  Maybe I’ll return to the author’s Hell or High Water series, a group of novels I remember as being far more entertaining.

Cover art: L.C. Chase.  It’s a fitting cover for this story, motorcycle and all, although that’s about the only element.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Published April 29th 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Running on Empty
ISBN139781626498808
Edition Language English
Series Havoc:

Running Wild

Running Blind

Running on Empty

Looking for New Contemporary Romances? Check Out the Release Blitz for The #lovehim Series Box Set by S. M. James (excerpt and giveaway)

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 RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: The #lovehim Series Box Set

Author: S. M. James

Publisher: May Books

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Release Date: May 4, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s:  Friends to lovers, mild hurt/comfort

Themes:  Coming out, friendship, family, chronic illness, internalised homophobia

Heat Rating:  1-2 flames

Length: 290 000 words/ 1,000 pages

Box Set of three books and three short stories

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK

Six stories. Three couples. One perfect kind of love.

Blurb

Read the first three books in the #lovehim series and their short stories. 

That Feeling When 

A summer camp romance where a bi actor and a closeted ballet dancer are blackmailed into keeping their relationship a secret.

No Big Deal 

In the meet cute to To Be Honest, Angus finally gets a roommate … and a big, fat crush.

To Be Honest 

Angus and his adorkable roommate Tyler, embark on a cross country road trip to confront Angus’s catfisher. 

For The Win 

The meet cute for In Case You Missed It, Brooks agrees to one non-date with Darien because they’ll never see each other again … right?

In Case You Missed It 

Love is supposed to be simple, but Brook’s secret will put their relationship to the test. 

PLUS A BONUS NOVELLA NOT YET RELEASED

In Real Life 

The sequel to That Feeling When, where Archie and Landon visit Australia and try to make their relationship work amidst judgmental family and pushy exes.

Excerpt (From No Big Deal)

I groan and give him a playful shove, not able to resist touching him, but it just makes the urge to do it again worse. “I think I’ll manage.”

I’ll manage because I don’t even watch the end. I watch Tyler from the corner of my eye. The way his chest expands with each breath, the way he scratches his nose, or rubs his arm. I catch everything.

I really need to get out of here, to put some distance between us, but I can’t. I don’t want to, which is the really messed up part.

The movie ends with that same song that’s played through the whole thing and instead of choosing another, or returning to his own side of the room, Tyler rolls onto his side, legs hanging off the bed, and tucks a pillow up under his arm.

“Okay, if you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?”

I shift around so I’m facing him and try to be subtle about putting distance between us again. I lean back on my hands, my knees filling the void between us. “Tokyo.”

“Huh. I didn’t picture you for a big city guy.”

I shrug and nod at him. “Same question.”

“The Central Library in Vancouver. Reason one.” He holds up his thumb. “I get to visit another country without having to fly, reason two.” He holds up his forefinger. “I could spend my life there and never read all the books they have. Plus it looks like the Colosseum. Which I’ll never see. Because I hate planes.”

“You’re afraid of flying?” It’s my turn to try and hold back a laugh.

“I happen to have a healthy appreciation for how much it would hurt to plummet to my death.”

“Okay so what do you like?”

He considers the question for a moment. “Quesadillas, marine life, old school computer games … and you.” He shrugs like what he said was no big deal. Just a random list.

I try not to hide how awkwardly I swallow. “I guess you’re pretty cool too.”

He lets my lame reciprocation go. “So football … do you actually love it? Or is it one of those things where you tried it, you were good, and Mom and Dad were so proud you couldn’t give it up for fear of disappointing them?”

“Wow. That was oddly specific. Umm … no. It’s one of the ‘I’m an only child and my mom’s dead so Dad is proud of anything I do’ things.”

“Oh.” Tyler’s eyebrows jump up and it’s weird to see him caught by surprise. “I shouldn’t have pried.”

“Don’t worry about it. I was young, I barely remember her.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No. Trust me, if I do, I won’t be much fun for the rest of the day. I mean … it’s hard to miss something you never had. And, well, it makes me feel a bit guilty.”

Tyler’s looking at me with so much sympathy it’s kind of hard to look away from. He reaches out and gives the spot just above my knee a squeeze. I feel it all the way up my leg.

“Okay, how many guys have you hooked up with?” He’s trying to take my mind off it and I’m so grateful.

“Umm … two. The first was the summer before I came out. It was kind of a confirmation, I guess. Sloppy and rushed. The second …” I rub at my mouth to try and hide the smile. “The second was last Christmas break. Dad and I went to a Christmas party with some of his work friends. I didn’t know the guy, and I know I’ll never see him again, and I think that’s what made it so hot.” I nod at him again. “Same question.”

“How many guys have I hooked up with? I can honestly say zero.” He catches my eye with a grin. “Sorry, Angus.”

He gets a laugh from me. “If you ever want to try it, you know where to find me.” I don’t know what makes me say the words but I immediately regret it. Maybe repressing my sexuality for so long isn’t the best idea.

“Noted.”

“Obviously I meant girls, you idiot.”

“In that case.” He frowns as he thinks. “Also zero.”

“No way.”

“I know. I struggle to believe it myself.”

“Do you ever get lonely?” I’m not sure where the question comes from.

Tyler’s serious when he answers. “Only all of the time. Mom and Dad are super busy, and I don’t really have any friends.”

“Except me.”

He lets loose his smile, all teeth and squinty eyes. “Except you.”

“It’s very possible you’re my only actual guy friend too. At least, the only one who doesn’t see me as the gay kid.”

“What do you mean?”

“I just have so be so careful around people. Honestly, it gets pretty exhausting, but it’s safer. Like, I can’t joke around with my teammates in case they think I’m coming on to them or something. I mean, I’m not an idiot, I wouldn’t set myself up to fail by falling for a straight guy.”

“Yet you just offered to hook up with me.”

My stomach clenches and he starts to laugh but I’m kind of uneasy about it. I’d meant it as a joke—obviously—but to him … it had been too easy to say.

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.

​​Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

Author Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Instagram

BookBub

Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a $20 gift card or one of two eBooks of the box set

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RELEASE BLITZ SCHEDULE

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Release Blitz for Outlaw Girls by Miss Merikan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UKExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 60,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Blurb

 

— When a match meets gasoline. —



Mona. Mafia princess. Rebellious Italian beauty. Runaway bride.
Rain. Motorcycle club president’s daughter. Androgynous biker goddess.


After her sister was forced into an arranged marriage, Mona vowed she would never suffer the same fate. She would do whatever she had to, even set the church on fire, catch the first bus to nowhere without a dollar in her pocket while still wearing her wedding dress.


Away from her controlling family, Mona intends to fight for her financial independence on the stripping pole at the Smoke Valley Motorcycle Club. Her plan is to earn enough cash for further travels, but once she gets closer to Rain, and becomes more comfortable on the back of her bike than she ever was in the world of privilege, staying in the middle of Nowhere, Nevada no longer sounds so bad.


Rain doesn’t do girlfriends. Her biker lifestyle means secrecy and unsavory deeds no girl she’s met would roll with. Her only goal is to smash the glass ceiling of her family-run biker gang and become the first female member. She does do flings though, and the Italian beauty who crashes her birthday party is perfect for one of those.


But Mona sticks around. Rain can’t stay away, and all rules go out the window when Rain finds out Mona is the runaway daughter of a mafioso. Maybe she could just be the kind of woman who understands living outside the law


When the mafia comes after Mona, Rain has to choose between loyalty to the club and the woman of her dreams. One thing is certain – there will be no escape without mayhem.


POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: mafia, organized crime, marriage, forbidden love, danger, motorcycle club, biker chick, family, rebellion, independence, first relationship, self-discovery
Genre: F/F romance, suspense
Contains explicit, scorching hot scenes.
Length: ~60,000 words (STANDALONE novel)

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


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


FACEBOOK PROFILE
K.A. MERIKAN’S TWITTER (RUN BY KAT)
AGNES MERIKAN’S TWITTER
K.A. MERIKAN ON GOODREADS
PINTEREST
M/F ROMANCE BY MISS MERIKAN

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A MelanieM Review: Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Charlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen is one of those books to hug close to your heart.  Once finished I wanted to pick it up and start it all over again, lose myself in the richness of the relationships the author has created within.  It’s so easy to fall in love here.  To embrace the people and their lives.

Charlie and his daughter, Liv?  You can feel the truth of their lives, the pain of having lived through watching a beloved mother and wife dying of cancer and then her death, the void her loss has meant and the guilt for Charlie.  And the warmth Charlie exudes, the “realness” of that father/daughter relationship just jumps off the page at you until you almost are a part of their lives as well.

Simon is just a connectable.  Viable, human, hurting.  His chemistry with Charlie and his, unbelievably Charlie’s house (a character in its own right) is so vivid that I kept re-reading passages for the shear joy of them.  I loved these two men together.  Their conversations, the funny dialog.  Especially, Charlie’s conversations and Simon’s reactions to them.  Priceless!

But, of course, it’s so much more than that.  It’s Phil, it’s the dog, Liv, Justin, that house…it’s the whole of this story.  It’s every element that combines to bring a town, a family, and this couple together so memorably alive that your heart feels warm and happy and so not ready to see everyone go.  I wanted to stay, seated in their midst, ready for another story from Charlie, another chapter in their lives, their next step forward.  Their next anything….

Building Forever (This Time Forever #1) by Kelly Jensen is beautifully written with wonderful characters and a heartwarming story you will truly love.  Yes, I absolutely recommend it.

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  I love this artist’s work but that isn’t the house as I pictured it with greystone and slate roof which is a big fail seeing that it’s a huge part of the story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 337 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626498389
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series This Time Forever #1

In Our Spotlight: Scratch Track (Escaping Indigo #3) by Eli Lang (RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway)

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Scratch Track (Escaping Indigo #3) by Eli Lang
Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: Natasha Snow

Read an Excerpt/Buy It here

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Eli Lang today on tour for Scratch Track. Welcome, Eli!

📚

Hello, I’m Eli Lang.  Welcome to the blog tour for my contemporary m/m romance with rock stars, Scratch Track.  Join in on the discussion in the comments and have fun!  Thanks for stopping by!

About Scratch Track

Being a roadie isn’t everyone’s idea of a dream job, but it’s all Quinn wants. He loves touring, loves getting to hear amazing music every night and, more than anything, loves being someone the band members of Escaping Indigo can lean on.

When Quinn joins the band in the recording studio, it’s supposed to be fun, but it only seems to remind him of doubts he thought he’d left behind—doubts about his brother’s death, his place with the band, and his ability to care for and support his friends. So when his ex, Nicky, tumbles back into his life, Quinn’s completely unprepared.

The failure of his past romance with Nicky is yet another strike against Quinn’s confidence. But Nicky’s unassuming kindness makes it hard for Quinn to resist a new entanglement. Quinn isn’t sure they won’t make the same mistakes again, but he wants a second chance, even if that means facing the past, learning to let his friends support him, and proving to Nicky that, this time, he’ll be someone Nicky can rely on.

Available now from Riptide Publishing!

About the Escaping Indigo Series

Escaping Indigo is a busy band, whether they’re playing edgy rock music in a darkened theater, touring the country together, or meeting up with other musicians at a summer festival. And they’re always writing new melodies, new riffs, and new lyrics to tell their stories.

Micah, a drummer, is hoping to leave the memories of his old band behind by going on tour with Escaping Indigo as a stagehand. But there he meets Bellamy, the lead singer, and he finds himself tangled in a romance that makes him face everything he’s lost.

Ava, drummer for Escaping Indigo, is hoping that time away from the band will give her a chance to sort through her complicated feelings for her best friend, who’s in love with someone else. But a chance meeting with a beautiful woman leads to an unexpected romance that makes Ava rethink her plans for her future.

From unrequited love to finding your way, old friendships to lost dreams, surprising secrets to unexpected encounters, Escaping Indigo has a song to suit.

Check out Escaping Indigo now!

About Eli Lang

Eli Lang is a writer and drummer. She has played in rock bands, worked on horse farms, and has had jobs in libraries, where she spent most of her time reading every book she could get her hands on. She can fold a nearly perfect paper crane and knows how to tune a snare drum. She still buys stuffed animals because she feels bad if they’re left alone in the store, believes cinnamon buns should always be eaten warm, can tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the tardigrade, and has a book collection that’s reaching frightening proportions. She lives in Arizona with far too many pets.

Connect with Eli:

Website: www.leftoversushi.com

Blog: www.leftoversushi.com/blog/

Facebook: facebook.com/EliLangAuthor

Twitter: @eli__lang

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/eli_lang

Giveaway

  • To celebrate the release of Scratch Track, one lucky winner will receive an ecopy of Escaping Indigo and Skin Hunger! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 3, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Stella Recent Release Review: Five Dares by Eli Easton

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.

But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod . As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.

But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.

Eli Easton writes is a success, her name has simply become a guarantee of great quality to me, there is really no space for boring or shallow stories.

I love the kind of books like Five Dares, because I adore the friends to lovers trope  and Andy and Jack were perfect, friends so close, so devoted to each other. They were great as just friends and then amazing as lovers. They were hot together when sex was just a sort of experiment (for Andy) and then when they realised that something big was happening all the past years fell into the right perspective. Although Jack was already in love with his best friend, not once I had doubts this was used against him, not even when Andy knew Jack’s feelings.
I want to recommend Five Dares, I found it very well done. The reading flew easily thanks to a perfect writing that makes the reader able to be right there with the characters and fall in love with their lives. I liked how the chapters are grouped into the five dares. And the double POV is exactly what I prefer to understand the MCs minds.
I’m deeply satisfied with this new release by Eli Easton.
Cover art by Natasha Snow is amazing and perfect.
Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon
 
Book Details:
ebook, 245 pages
Published October 2nd 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title Five Dares
ISBN139781626496507
Edition LanguageEnglish
setting Cape Cod, Massachusetts (United States)
Massachusetts (United States)
California (United States)

Blog Tour and Giveaway for Permanent Jet Lag by A.N. Casey (author interview and excerpt)

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Title:  Permanent Jet Lag

Author: A.N. Casey

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 29, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 87000

Genre: Contemporary, literary, Student, family, coming of age, alcohol use, illness/disease, tear-jerker

Add to Goodreads

 

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with A.N. Casey~

 

What’s the one thing, you can’t live without?

I’d say my water bottle because I have that thing with me constantly and get very moody when thirsty. Like Hangry but Thangry maybe? Plus, bonus: it gives me something to do with my hands, and as a fidgety anxious person, having something to hold onto during conversations—especially lulls in conversation—keeps me calm. 

What internet site do you surf to the most?

Tumblr. I have a blog there where I work with other writers to help out on new projects and answers questions (ancwritingresources.tumblr.com) and also have a couple writing blogs that just serve as a good creative outlet (and an excuse to put off writing the stuff I’m supposed to be writing).

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three author guests be and why?

The easy one that is probably over said is J.K. Rowling because I’d like to ask what it feels like to have seen your story not only turned into a movie but a theme park; what’s it like knowing that nearly everyone in the world has heard of your character even if they haven’t read your book. Malinda Lo because I’d want to ask her about Ash, about recreating this story everyone knows—Cinderella—in a brand new way and just congratulate her on what a good book that was. I mean, that’s my dream, moving forward, to begin to tell these stories that “old as time” but with the LGBT representation we deserve. And for the same reason, my third guest would be Madeline Miller. The Song of Achilles was a real game changer for me, so many of my favorite things—LGBT YA novels meets Greek mythology—all put together in such a beautiful way. And she’s not even a novelist by trade! I’d want to ask her what it was like to write that book and just get to learn more about that process.

When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

My reaction was disbelief, without a doubt. There comes a point after countless rejections when you just get used to it; without feeling, you read the nice form letter and move on with your day. So when I got a letter back, I assumed it was more of the same. I had to read it over three times to realize it said “yes” and not “no.” I told my best friend first, and then about 48 hours later, I actually got excited when I fully realized it was real.

 

 

Synopsis

Nineteen-year-old Lucas Burke prefers being alone. He likes the silence, and he loves not having to care about anyone else’s problems: the less he’s forced to feel, the better. But after a year of college-induced isolation from everyone he used to know, the wedding of a former classmate sends Lucas back home, and that means reconciling with a group of friends that now might as well be strangers.

His sister hardly knows him, his “genius” best friend is nothing more than an addict, and his ex-boyfriend is still in a coma. All the while, wedding preparations send Lucas head first into a relationship with the groom’s best man—a recently cancer-free ex-Olympian who can’t stop talking.

Lucas knows that if he wants to survive the summer, he’ll have to learn to be a friend again, but it doesn’t come easy, and it might already be too late.

Excerpt

Permanent Jet Lag
A.N. Casey © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

96 Days Before

On the last day of my freshman year of college, my parents—dressed head to toe in the obnoxious green and gold colors of my school—arrived on the threshold of my dorm room with five extra-large boxes for packing, a tin of mom-baked chocolate chip cookies to cure my assumed “home sick blues,” and two snippets of hometown gossip for my ears only. When you leave home for college, there’s a certain assumption that says you will learn to be independent. You do your own laundry, you buy your own meals, and your parents never come knocking on your door to ask if you’ve done your homework or to ground you for coming home past curfew. You’re alone—blissfully independent and free.

My mother had other ideas. Ideas that filled the voicemail on my cell phone until I could no longer receive friends’ missed calls. Ideas that left a pile of cookie tins in the corner of the room and a dozen more care packages under the bed. Even now, as I finished the bulk of my packing, a poorly knit mom-made sweater hung limp over the side of the latest care package, threads unraveling and fraying in every direction with a note pinned to its sleeve with words I could not remember—words I likely never read.

My roommate sat on the other side of the room upon his stripped-down bed, munching away at the first cookie handed to him. He wore a thick pair of headphones that flattened his usually unruly brown hair. Though the cord was not connected to anything, my mother seemed pleased with this sense of security and began her “top secret” gossip. As though my roommate would care at all about the small-town news of Franklin Creek, California.

“Rylie Graham is getting married!” she squealed. Despite her rising age, my mother’s face still lit up with all the excitement and energy of the young woman I could just barely remember from the photographs on the walls at home. Today, my mother was plump and nearly always flushed in her cheeks. The freckles on her nose were faded underneath a splotchy tan that extended only to the bottom of her neck, and her clothes, though neatly pressed, still appeared crumpled by her slouch and the endless movement of her limbs. She went on and on about the wedding, the beautiful invitations, and the color schemes she hoped they’d use, how she could still remember Rylie as a baby, crawling around at the neighborhood block parties.

I was already aware of this news, of course. The invitation had arrived in the mail two days ago, vividly pink with a handful of red hearts and almost a dozen purple and green flowers decorating the edges. Unless the groom was a botanist, there was no inkling of his presence in the design. To top it off, at the very bottom of the paper, beneath the RSVP notification, was a dried crimson lipstick mark. Nine months since I’d seen her, and I could still vividly imagine Rylie prepping her mouth with that darkened color she had so adored in high school and kissing each invitation one by one.

The invitation was now crumpled up in my suitcase with the rest of my belongings, but the image of it had not left my mind for a second.

“Isn’t it great, Lucas?” my mother asked, and I nodded. “She’ll look so beautiful as a bride.” Another nod. “Just wait until you meet the groom. What a charming young man.” At this, I fidgeted with the zipper on my luggage and forced a smile.

My father, lounging lazily upon my still-sheeted bed, gave me a knowing smile over the top of his third cookie. My mother promptly smacked it out of his hand.

“That’s enough, Tim. Didn’t you hear a word the doctors said? I think one heart attack is quite enough for one year, don’t you?”

“I thought two would make a more interesting story at this year’s Christmas party,” my father replied, grinning.

And so began an argument that lasted through the remainder of my packing, the long trek downstairs, and into the oversized van waiting for us in the parking lot. It continued as my father stabbed the key into the ignition, as my mother pulled on her seat belt, and as I peered through the window and watched San Francisco—all its big buildings and bustling bridges—disappear into the night.

By the time we pulled into the driveway of my childhood home, my parents were just progressing toward the makeup phase of their disagreement, or, as I’d dubbed it over the years, the honeymoon period. They sat, arms tangled in the front seat, kissing and whispering loving platitudes into each other’s mouths with such nauseating enthusiasm that sitting through it was quite like staring at the sun: tolerance came in small doses. I left the car and dragged my luggage up the porch steps alone.

I had come home exactly twice since leaving for college, once for spring break and once after my father’s heart attack, and I was greeted the same each time. Homecoming generally went like this: my oldest sister, now sixteen, would nod her head in my direction over the top of her cell phone, give me a hug if I came close enough, and then resume her texting. My brothers, identical in all but their clothing, would rush in for the tackle. And my youngest sister would wave from the couch—a simple twist of her hand—and then return to her TV show. Today it was an old rerun about a teenage spy, and because the theme song was particularly catchy, the wave was even shorter than normal, barely a twitch of her fingertips.

I disappeared into my room.

From the window of my dorm room in the mornings, I could see the wide expanse of the San Francisco landscape for miles, a hundred buildings huddled together against the fading fog, life bustling below. From the window of my hometown bedroom, I could see the neighbor’s pool. A thoroughly unexciting, lifeless pool. As summer had not technically begun, the water that would soon promise endless good times and relief from the heat was still currently abandoned. A heavy pile of leaves covered much of the surface, but through the spaces between, I could make out a glimpse of the water—a murky, untouched green.

Rylie called at half past eleven while I was cleaning the windowsill for the second time. Her voice was shrill and rushed as she screamed into my ear, “Why didn’t you tell me you were home? I had to hear it from my mom, who heard it from your mom, and I feel like I’m in a weird stupid sitcom, because I’m not supposed to be hearing gossip from your mother, Lucas. You’re supposed to tell your friends when you come home. Clay is pissed.”

As she spoke, I tucked the phone between my shoulder and ear. Downstairs, my mom was yelling at the twins, and Dad was swearing about the score of a baseball game. I retreated farther into my room and closed the door.

“Sorry,” I said.

“Sorry?” Rylie let out a long, exasperated sigh, and I thought I could hear her nails tapping against the back of her phone. “Will you meet me somewhere? I haven’t seen you in ages, and everyone misses you. Please?”

“Okay.”

“Is this how this is going to be now? One-worded conversations?”

“Probably.”

Rylie laughed, a deep, chest-rattling sort of sound that in no way matched the high, squeaky pitch of her voice. It was for reasons like this I’d stopped trying to understand her in the third grade.

“You’re an ass, Lucas. Meet me at the flower shop across from the grocery store, okay? Ten minutes, don’t be late. Oh, and Todney is going to be there. I can’t wait for you to meet him. Don’t be late.”

“We have a grocery store?”

“Goodbye, Lucas.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

A.N. Casey is a Californian born and bred writer with very few interests beyond the literary. As a former copywriter and a current freelance writer and editor, Casey was asked what he likes to do outside of writing for work and responded only with: “write more”—much to the disappointment of his colleagues who had hoped he might be more interesting. His few attempts to leave his computer or notebooks behind have led to an interest in camping, traveling, and very bad attempts at cooking. He is currently studying to become a teacher where he hopes his fondness for the red pen will not make him too many enemies. Above all, Casey believes that storytelling has the power to shape lives, and that young people deserve to see themselves represented on the page in every shape and form until no one is left feeling alone in this wide and confusing world. You can find A.N. on Tumblr.

Tour Schedule

5/29    MM Book Escape

5/29    MM Good Book Reviews

5/30    Stories That Make You Smile

5/30    Reviews for Book Lovers

5/31    Divine Magazine

5/31    millsylovesbooks

5/31    Love Bytes Reviews

6/1      Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

6/2      Sharing Links and Wisdom

6/2      Happily Ever Chapter

6/2      Bayou Book Junkie

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Snuggle Under the Covers with Cardeno C’s Strange Bedfellows (tour and giveaway)

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WLK synopsis

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Can the billionaire son of a Democratic president build a family with the congressman son of a Republican senator? Forget politics, love makes strange bedfellows.

As the sole offspring of the Democratic United States president and his political operative wife, Trevor Moga was raised in an environment driven by the election cycle. During childhood, he fantasized about living in a made-for-television family, and as an adult, he rejected all things politics and built a highly successful career as far from his parents as possible.

Newly elected congressman Ford Hollingsworth is Republican royalty. The grandson of a revered governor and son of a respected senator, he was bred to value faith, family, and the goal of seeing a Hollingsworth in the White House.

When Trevor and Ford meet, sparks fly and a strong friendship is formed. But can the billionaire son of a Democratic president build a family with the congressman son of a Republican senator? Forget politics, love makes strange bedfellows.

Excerpt:

“Where’s your bedroom?” asked Ford Hollingsworth as he tipped his head back to make room for the man licking a path down his neck.

The handsome stranger shoved Ford’s coat to the floor, slammed him against the wall, and wedged his thigh between Ford’s legs, rubbing up against his balls.

“Oh. Oh.” Ford bucked. “Your bedroom?”

Despite being mostly clothed, Ford was seconds away from coming in his pants. The inner voice he’d spent most of his life ignoring piped up to remind him that he’d never been this aroused with any woman and never would be. But acknowledging that voice meant walking away from his family and his aspirations, so Ford tried ignoring it, something that had gotten increasingly difficult with every passing year and was now impossible.

“Trevor?” Ford had no idea if that was the dark-haired guy’s real name or if he’d created an alias to use with a bar pickup, which was what Ford himself had done. Either way, he was proud he remembered the name, considering he was more turned on than he’d ever been in his life.

Without responding, the man reached for Ford’s shirt buttons and popped them open while he caressed Ford’s chest.

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WLK Author Bio

 

 

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Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

WLK Giveaway
Winner’s choice of ebook from author’s backlist (excluding box sets or anthologies).  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Links and prizes provided by the author and WLK Book Promotions.

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