Don’t Miss Out on the Review Tour and Giveaway for Broken News by Sara Dobie Bauer (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Broken News: M/M Mafia Romance

Author: Sara Dobie Bauer

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Quin Perin

Release Date: August 22, 2019

Genre/s: M/M Romance, M/M Thriller

Trope/s: May/December (age gap), mafia

Themes: redemption, first love, sacrifice, age gap, hurt/comfort, prostitution

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 62 000 words

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

 

Blurb

He was supposed to hurt him. Ruin him. Instead, he fell in love.

In the big, bad city, Eric West holds the reins. A mafia king, he is feared, ruthless, and obsessed with a man half his age. 

Will, his favorite whore, is young, beautiful, and the only person to ever bring him to his knees. 

Will is a man to kill for.

A man to change for.

But what if Will isn’t what he seems?

*** Broken News is a standalone M/M romance featuring age gap, detailed adult content, violence, hurt/comfort, and mentions of rape/dubious consent.***

 

 

Excerpt 

Miss Catherine paused. “He’s been waiting,” she whispered and walked away. The only evidence of her presence was the sound of velvet dragging on carpet as she disappeared barefoot, back to her other guests.

The rest was up to Eric. Of course he’d flown first class from London but hoped he didn’t smell too much like airplane upholstery and cheap wine. He straightened his tie and adjusted his suit. He ran the palms of his hands over his slick, blond hair and took one long, deep breath before opening the door.

The room was as he imagined, cast in shadows of firelight, and a man stood facing the front window. He had the edge of a heavy curtain raised as he stared into the city’s night. At the sound of the door closing, the man turned—if he could be considered a man. He more resembled a wide-eyed teen, but beautiful, so very beautiful. 

Eric sighed, smiled, and shook his head. “My God,” he said.

Dark eyes appraised him. “I could say the same.”

They both took steps forward, which brought Eric’s new whore further into the orange light. Pressed to guess an age—and knowing Le Chateau only hired whores at least twenty-one or older—Eric guessed twenty-two at most. He wore the body and face of a youth but bearing of a confident man. His hair was black—short on the sides, long on top—and shined with the midnight luster of a thoroughbred’s flank. His eyes were shining, dark pools in the firelight but probably brown in the sun. He had high cheekbones, an angular jaw, and skin the color of untouched morning snow. Despite the poised demeanor, he was small in stature and frame, dressed in a black suit Eric imagined had been sewn for him, stitch by invisible stitch. Despite all the young man’s beautiful accouterments, it was his mouth that deserved worship, possibly idols built: a mouth so full, lush, and decadent, Eric was already half hard.

He stepped into the stranger’s space, towering almost a foot above the young whore, and opened the man’s suit coat. Eric ran his palms over slim sides and thumbed at the tops of jutting hipbones. Then, Eric bent forward with his mouth half open and sucked one wet, gentle kiss against the side of his neck. He smelled like spicy cologne and scotch.

“What’s your name?” He ran the tip of his nose over the stranger’s earlobe.

“Will,” he said.

“My name is Eric.”

“I know.”

Eric pulled back enough to see a small smile on Will’s face. His teeth were white and perfectly, perfectly straight. 

“You must have cost a lot of money,” Eric said.

Will stepped forward and rubbed his nose across Eric’s carved chin. He practically breathed his response into Eric’s mouth: “And worth every penny.”

With that mouth so close, Eric was done talking. He slid one of his hands behind Will’s head and took hold to the back of his neck. His thumb was lost in soft black hair as he pulled Will even closer until their lips met. Eric moved slowly and savored the pliant softness. Will opened his mouth and allowed Eric’s tongue inside. Not only did he smell like scotch but tasted like it, too—something expensive with a lingering edge of vanilla. Eric’s other hand went to Will’s lower back and pressed their bodies together, which earned him a deep, delightful moan from his new toy.

 

About the Author 

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, mental health speaker, and LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she lives in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the Bite Somebody series and Escape Trilogy, among other sexy things.

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Facebook closed group

Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Newsletter Sign-up  

Goodreads  |  Amazon

 

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of

5 eBook copies of Escaping Exile, book one of the Escape Trilogy

3 eBook copies of my novella, A Lord to Love

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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

 

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In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: Relationship Material by Jenya Keefe

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Relationship Material by Jenya Keefe

Riptide Publishing
Published August 5th 2019

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

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jenya Keefe here today on tour for her new release, Relationship Material. Welcome, Jenya.

✒︎

 

Hi, I’m Jenya Keefe. Welcome to my blog tour! I’ve been writing for my own pleasure for too many years to count, and now my first novel is being published by Riptide Publishing! It’s called Relationship Material, and I’m delighted to talk with you about it.

 

Relationship Material is about a guy who had a terrible childhood and suffered a violent assault when he was a teenager. He suffers from PTSD and chronic anxiety, and though he functions well enough in society, he doesn’t feel worthy of the love offered him. It’s about Portland, the love of a good dog, learning to be brave, and being open to joy.

 

About Relationship Material

It’s not always possible to meet in the middle.

Registered nurse Evan Doyle doesn’t consider himself fit for more than occasional hookups. He has a good life, but the emotional aftermath of a horrific crime makes him feel too damaged to date. So when his sister’s hot bestie, Malcolm Umbertini, comes on to him, he turns him down flat. Mal is Relationship Material: the kind who thinks in the long term. What would Evan do with a man like that?

As a prosecuting attorney, Mal’s learned how to read people, and he knows there’s more to Evan than meets the eye. Mal has faced his own hardships since his family kicked him out as a teen, and he respects Evan’s courage and emotional resilience. More than that, he wants Evan—in his bed and in his life. But can he weather another rejection?

Both wary, they agree to a no-strings fling. Mal knows that Evan wants things to stay casual, but he’s falling in love a little more with each encounter. With health, happiness, and bruised hearts on the line, Mal and Evan must risk everything for love.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

About Jenya Keefe

Jenya Keefe was born in the South. She has an advanced degree in European history, and has spent much of her life working the kinds of jobs a history degree qualifies you for: gift shop employee, lumber grader, classifieds clerk, hot glass artist. She currently lives in the Seattle area, where she works at a library. She has always written stories. 

Website: www.jenyakeefe.com

Twitter: @JenyaKeefe

 

Pre-order Jenya’s next release, The Musician and the Monster, coming September 30th from Riptide Publishing!

 

Giveaway

To celebrate this release, Jenya is giving away a $15 gift card to Powell’s City of Books! Powell’s is an independent bookseller located in Portland, the setting for Relationship Material. Those not in Portland can shop online. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 10, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

If You Love Fantasy, Check Out the Blog Tour for Crossing Nuwa: Escape by Sean Ian O’Meidhir and Connal Braginsky (excerpt)

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Crossing Nuwa Tour Banner

Crossing Nuwa: Escape

Sean Ian O’Meidhir & Connal Braginsky

MM Urban Fantasy, Paranormal / Rescue, Innocence/Discovery, First Love

Release Date: 07.09.19

Cover Designer – Jay Aheer https://www.simplydefinedart.com

Blurb

For sheltered Robbie, one week of freedom leads to sexual awakening and adventure… but when his world intersects with Theo’s, they’ll need all their wits and Theo’s magic to fight for their future.

Rare male weresnake Robbie has had his whole life decided for him down to his meals. But when the time comes for him to perform an unspeakable duty to his clan, he runs.

San Francisco Pride is in full swing when technomage Theo spots a scared-looking young man with brilliant emerald eyes. He’s only looking for a hookup, but before he knows why, he’s taking Robbie home and introducing him to champagne and enchiladas. He doesn’t have any intention of falling in love.

Robbie doesn’t want to return to his clan, at least not without trying to fit a lifetime of experiences into a week, but every day he stays puts Theo in more danger.

Buy Link: http://bit.ly/CrossingNuwaEscape

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Excerpt

“Reality started to sink back in, and I was standing under the water, trying desperately to have the boiling spray chase away my ruminations from the previous night on the run. I don’t know how long I had been in there when a stir of air tickled across my back, alerting me that I wasn’t alone. I spun around to see him standing there. Naked! He was incredibly tall (which is saying something considering I’m six foot two and felt dwarfed), with his broad shoulders and a thick furry chest, bristly goatee, and the bright curly electric-blue hair that somehow shone in the fluorescents of the bathroom in a way that it hadn’t under the sun. His dark skin tone also shone differently with the indoor lighting, which seemed to illuminate the differences between us with my much paler skin. My eyes drifted down over his soft chubby belly to his manhood, which was sticking straight out at me! The burn of shame flowed over my entire head and shoulders as I almost lost my balance turning my immediate arousal away from him.

“Man, I hope you’re a bottom.” He exhaled as his huge arms encircled me. “I’ve never been wrong before.” His breath, warm against my ear, sent a cascade of goose bumps down my side.

My brain practically short-circuited. I was no longer thinking about Mother and my aunt chasing me. I was no longer worrying about where I was going to go or what I was going to do. The only thing I could focus on was the soft comforting pillow of his belly against my back coupled with the enticing hard pressure that slid against my rear and made my breath catch for reasons I couldn’t begin to process. I had never experienced anything like it in my life and was suddenly bombarded by too many emotions I couldn’t identify, had never experienced. Above all of them was exhilaration as every nerve felt electrified, alive. And then his hands were everywhere. He was holding… soap? The small knobbed bar of hotel soap slid across my chest and flat belly… lower, encircling me with a few gentle strokes that sparked sensations throughout my entire body, then back up over my shoulders, kneading gently but firmly.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Sean is a shrink who by day spends time in jails and prisons (evaluating criminals) and by night writes romantic fiction. Sean and partner live in San Francisco ruled by their three cats and can often be found trying new restaurants. With the understanding that they live in Heaven, Sean adores spending time sitting near the water with a laptop in hand, gazing at the bay and making daydreams a reality for others to enjoy. To read more about Sean’s adventures, please visit www.dreamersworkshop.com.

Connal Braginsky is a tech nerd that has taken a leap of faith and took a chance on writing. Born to Russian immigrants, he came out as gay at 19, and was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome).

He loves to read, and learn about Technology, Esoteric subjects and considers himself a transhumanist (the Russian Cosmism variety). His other pastimes revolve around philosophy which includes Panpsychism, Process Philosophy, Taoism, Buddhism and Gnosticism. He is also interested in various scientific fields, including Quantum Physics, Quantum Biology, Neurology, Psychology, and Sociology.

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SeanOMeidhir/

Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/439462953480874/?ref=share

Website http://www.dreamersworkshop.com/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19211564.Sean_Ian_O_Meidhir

Twitter https://twitter.com/SeanIanOMeidhir

Newsletter http://www.dreamersworkshop.com/newsletter/

Connal’s Blog: http://dreamersrefuge.com/blog/

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Looking for Your Next Urban Fantasy? Check Out the Release Blitz for Crossing Nuwa: Escape by Sean Ian O’Meidhir and Connal Braginsky (excerpt)

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Escape Tour Banner

Crossing Nuwa: Escape

Sean Ian O’Meidhir & Connal Braginsky

MM Urban Fantasy, Paranormal / Rescue, Innocence/Discovery, First Love

Release Date: 07.09.19

Nuwa Cover

Cover Designer – Jay Aheer https://www.simplydefinedart.com

Blurb

For sheltered Robbie, one week of freedom leads to sexual awakening and adventure… but when his world intersects with Theo’s, they’ll need all their wits and Theo’s magic to fight for their future.

Rare male weresnake Robbie has had his whole life decided for him down to his meals. But when the time comes for him to perform an unspeakable duty to his clan, he runs.

San Francisco Pride is in full swing when technomage Theo spots a scared-looking young man with brilliant emerald eyes. He’s only looking for a hookup, but before he knows why, he’s taking Robbie home and introducing him to champagne and enchiladas. He doesn’t have any intention of falling in love.

Robbie doesn’t want to return to his clan, at least not without trying to fit a lifetime of experiences into a week, but every day he stays puts Theo in more danger.

Crossing NuwaEscape Teaser 2

Crossing NuwaEscape Teaser 1

Excerpt

IT STARTED in the shower. Well, okay, my story didn’t actually start in the shower, but the part where I fell for Theo did. I look back now and realize how very naïve I was, but it doesn’t matter. I would have fallen for him anyway.

I’ll get to the shower in a minute…. Maybe it’s important to explain how I got to the shower. It’s still something that’s hard for me to believe….

 

I

BREATHE. JUST breathe. Well past midnight, I sat on the edge of my bed—fully dressed. If I do this and they catch me they might kill me. But… how can I not? I can’t stay. I can’t do what they want…. Every time I thought about it, my stomach began to churn, and I felt light-headed. What other options were there?

“Come on,” I whispered, then laughed. Talking to myself? That’s what this had come to?

I stood on wobbly knees and opened my large walk-in closet. Over the last month I had been stowing things I would need in a backpack I hadn’t used since I was thirteen. An extra pair of pants, four shirts, seven pairs of underwear, seven pairs of socks, three half-full deodorants (having convinced Mrs. Matlock, our housekeeper, that I just go through them quickly), and two half-tubes of toothpaste earned with the same deception that caused spikes of guilt when I thought about it. No one had noticed these things slowly going missing, or if they had they didn’t say anything.

I stared at the backpack for a ridiculous amount of time. This is a bad idea. They’re going to kill me….

I snatched the backpack before I could think about anything else, rushed to the bathroom where I grabbed my electric razor and toothbrush and shoved them in. I slipped my e-reader from the bedside table into the front of my pack and surveyed the room. My room since I was born. My prison….

Of what few things were there, I could see no reason to take anything else. Opening the door slowly, I peeked out into the darkened hall. Shifting my eyes to my serpent’s, I double-checked the hall and sighed with relief that there were no heat signatures that would suggest anyone lurking. Except me. I was the only one who stayed in my wing unless there were guests, so the bath and two other bedrooms in the wing were usually empty.

What was I going to say if they found me? I rolled my eyes at myself. What could I say? “Yes, Mother, just out for an evening run. Oh, the backpack? Well, you know how smelly I can get, just thought I’d bring a change of clothes, or seven.” I snorted at the absurdity of the situation, and then at the fact that I had been hovering in my doorway for over a minute. A little voice in my head started the mantra, “Just go, go, go.”

I nodded and hurried out the door, down the hall, down the stairs, and paused.

The house was silent. Of course it was; no one was awake at this hour.

Food. What was I going to do for food? Good thinking…. I tiptoed around the corner and through the formal dining room, which led into the kitchen. Ms. Matlock retired to her cottage at 9:00 p.m. sharp every night. She did not return to the main house until 6:00 a.m. every morning, and Mother and Aunt Edna never came into the kitchen. Except for after midnight when there’s someone rummaging around in there, I chastised myself and worked harder to be quiet.

I held my breath and listened again.

Nothing.

I grabbed three pieces of fruit from the large bowl at the end of the counter. If I take more, they’ll notice. Heck, they’ll notice I’m gone at 7:00 a.m. when I’m not down here for breakfast, so what will it matter if they notice more fruit is gone? I groaned and stuffed four more apples into my bag. The rest of the food in the house wasn’t prepared into meals, and I didn’t know how to cook. The thought came to mind of trying to teach myself how to cook one of Mrs. Matlock’s meat loaves so I could take it with me. But the smell would probably carry, and how long did it take to cook a meat loaf? What about salad? I could probably put together a salad… but how would I carry it?

I was stalling. This was stalling. I shook my head and hurried back through the dining room toward the front door and stopped. Mother’s purse. She stored it in the entryway cupboard, but today it was sitting on the counter. I stopped breathing. Taking small gasps of air, I stood still.

She was behind me. I could feel her. Her eyes boring into the back of my skull. Her breath tickling my ear.

I whipped around to find the hall empty and shuddered with relief. A visceral thing.

Gasping for breath, I bent over and rested my hands on my knees. I’m going to vomit. Deep breath. In through the nose.

When I could focus and my stomach had stopped churning, I looked at the purse again. Why was her purse out? Did she often leave it out? I didn’t know. I glanced inside. What was I doing? I had already stolen food from the house. Was I really thinking about doing this? This was wrong… but then, leaving was wrong.

With trembling fingers I separated the leather. Her wallet sat right on top. I can’t…. The magnetic clasp easily parted, and inside I found several bills. I’d need money.

Not giving myself any more time to think, I grabbed all the bills and stuffed them in my pocket before shoving the wallet back into the purse and stepping away.

I felt dirty.

Don’t think. Go. Go, go, go! I passed by the coat closet and paused. It was autumn…. I pulled out a coat that Mrs. Matlock had purchased for me. Something I’d never worn because I didn’t go out, but that she had made sure was available and in my size if I ever needed it. I pushed it into the pack and secured the zipper before hoisting it over both shoulders.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Sean is a shrink who by day spends time in jails and prisons (evaluating criminals) and by night writes romantic fiction. Sean and partner live in San Francisco ruled by their three cats and can often be found trying new restaurants. With the understanding that they live in Heaven, Sean adores spending time sitting near the water with a laptop in hand, gazing at the bay and making daydreams a reality for others to enjoy. To read more about Sean’s adventures, please visit www.dreamersworkshop.com.

Connal Braginsky is a tech nerd that has taken a leap of faith and took a chance on writing. Born to Russian immigrants, he came out as gay at 19, and was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome).

He loves to read, and learn about Technology, Esoteric subjects and considers himself a transhumanist (the Russian Cosmism variety). His other pastimes revolve around philosophy which includes Panpsychism, Process Philosophy, Taoism, Buddhism and Gnosticism. He is also interested in various scientific fields, including Quantum Physics, Quantum Biology, Neurology, Psychology, and Sociology.

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SeanOMeidhir/

Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/439462953480874/?ref=share

Website http://www.dreamersworkshop.com/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19211564.Sean_Ian_O_Meidhir

Twitter https://twitter.com/SeanIanOMeidhir

Newsletter http://www.dreamersworkshop.com/newsletter/

Connal’s Blog: http://dreamersrefuge.com/blog/

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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

A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Yuchae Blossom (World of Love) by Asher Quinn

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Can two men find happiness in a country that doesn’t accept their love?

When Jack Calloway is transferred to his firm’s South Korean branch on Jeju Island, he’s assigned a valet, the beautiful but shy Song Woo-bin. He stirs feelings Jack has rarely experienced for another man, but everything seems to be against them—Jack is older and Song Woo-bin’s supervisor. He is just beginning to understand the new culture surrounding him even as he accepts his own desires for the first time, and Song Woo-bin is closeted, inexperienced, and estranged from his family. Their path to each other is full of obstacles and societal disapproval. Will the two men eventually come together amid the clash and complement of Eastern and Western culture… and find a home among the yuchae blossoms?

I have to say I was very conflicted when it came to writing my review for The Yuchae Blossom (World of Love) by Asher Quinn.  One, this is the author’s debut novel and I thought Quinn did a wonderful job with several elements here.  It’s those sections that really raised this story up for me.  Primarily, the Korean setting, the author’s knowledge of the south Korean culture, use of language and settings which added not only considerable depth but obvious affection to the story and characters.

It made me want to visit several places Quinn mentioned, and I spend time searching out pictures of places and dishes to better familiarize myself with a place that already felt like a destination I needed to fly to.

On top of that?  Amazing secondary Korean and American characters that I seriously treasured, from one grandmother housekeeper to an Assistant who needed to be wearing a cape.  They came off real, personable, and compelling in their own right.

No, unfortunately my struggle here was with the main character of Jack Calloway, who, although supposedly familiar with the region, acted with all the finesse of a bull in a china chop.  Angry, borish, rude, with little regard to the Korean customs and people working for him.  Yes that changed ….mostly.    But here is a man who had a sister in a committed lesbian relationship  but left his son to live with his bigoted parents (they wouldn’t let her partner come for the holidays) for three years while he was going to be living in South Korea getting his “project” underway.  Really? With all those assistants, and you are leaving your son with them?  It was one thing after another that just kept me from connecting with this man.  Even to the end, it was other people keeping him out of jail and suggesting ways to thwart the “evildoers”.  Smh!

Song Woo-bin on the other hand is a wonderful character, easy to relate to and someone who will grab onto your heart.   I wanted more of him, his backhistory, just more him, less Jack. The author never made a case for what Song saw in Jack.  Because all Jack did was yell, bluster, crash over the niceties of their culture.  To mix  national monsters…Jack came across as a bit of a American Godzilla. See?  Mixed bag.    Way too good for Jack.  Had the author been able to make the readers see exactly what made Jack so attractive to Soon Woo-bin I might have bought into the relationship and the “deep love” they said they had for each other.  But I never got it.

The  intolerant attitude towards homosexuality in South Korea is only lightly addressed and considering the role it played here, more  information should have been relayed about the current laws and cultural family framework that holds this society so tightly in reign.   Of course, maybe that’s asking too much of 162 pages and a light contemporary romance.

This is a coming out, sexual discovery story too for two men of two different cultures and that sort of got glossed over in favor of a “love almost at first sight” story.  As I said there is a  lot going on here.

So while I may not have fallen in love with Jack, I did with his household and its surroundings. Asher Quinn did a lovely job of bringing small parts of Southern Koren alive for me, along with several great characters.    I can’t wait to see what this author does next!

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht  Lovely cover with the character of Song Woo-bin and of course, the Yuchae Blossom of the title.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 162 pages
Expected publication: April 5th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644051924
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Harrison Campus Story

When the stakes are this high, you better be sure you can win.

Jackson Murphy lost his parents to a boating accident, but they’re never far from his thoughts. He attends the same university as his parents, joined the same fraternity as his dad, and even lives in his father’s old room, along with his adopted brother, Marcus. Life brightens when he meets the man of his dreams.

Edward Knowles trades full-time college for working during the day and community college at night when his father’s factory closes. He intends to stay deep in the closet to keep his job in heating and cooling. But Jack pushes all his buttons.

Jack’s college rival challenges him to bring a date to the upcoming dance. He goads Jack into accepting even though failure means he and Marcus will lose their room and Jack must leave the fraternity.

Jack is falling hard for Ed, but Ed will never agree to go the dance. Ed—not knowing the stakes of the wager—has also made it clear that Jack taking another man will end their romance.

With pressure from friends and enemies alike, will Jack hold on to his legacy… or his heart?

While reading Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo, I can’t begin to count the number of times something about either an aspect of the situations these characters founds themselves in or the dialog/conversations I got pulled into (that involved multiple people)  made me reflect just how well author got their ages and timing right.  Even as I might have gotten frustrated over their fears getting the better of communication, I got it.  Boy, they are young, dealing with peer pressure, stress, and well, just stuff.

Gallo obviously understands this age, these young men, and makes us feel it too.  It rings of authenticity from the tight bonds of fraternity brothers through the ages to that of adopted brothers through trauma and devastation.  Better Be Sure covers a range of topics, from coming out to bullying to self acceptance, and grief, even clinical depression.  Plus formals, townie versus college, family stress, homophobia, and so much more.  Gallo set himself a huge agenda here and almost pulled it off perfectly.

I think only that he tried to do too much in the end kept this from a higher rating but really it’s so good.  The characterization alone makes this story easy to dive into.  You fall immediately into love with these true to life, complicated, moving young men trying to get through school and their fraternity life.  That includes tests, a formal, dating, a bully, and for Jack, the fact that he’s still dealing with the traumatic death of his parents four years ago.  It’s left him with having “episodes” which read like clinical depression, which is one of my issues here with the story.

Jack clearly has needed therapy dealing with not only the tragic loss of his parents but the horrific material free for all and monetary squabbling that ensured after they died.  The combined emotional impact on Jack was devastating.  Only his adopted family, including Marcus, saved him.  But even with all the mentions of his multiple breakdowns, never it is mentioned the need to get Jack help.  I do understand at that age you can’t be forced to accept help,  but I wish that more had been made of this element, especially since it’s such a big part of Jack’s story.  And the “episodes” he continues to have throughout the story, never exactly calling them what they are.  For me, that is actually one of the reasons this story didn’t get a 5 star rating. I just wish this had been explored a little more thoroughly.

I never joined the Greek life at my college, having flown the Freak flag myself, but I have faith that Gallo gets that right too.  It feels like it in the dynamics that goes on the the fraternity and between the big and little brothers. But I do remember the “townie vs college” aspect of it and that’s dead on.  From both perspectives!  How that brought back memories.  Weaving all this into his characters made for deeper personalities and gave us young men we feel we know.

Tight bonds are everywhere here and not just between young men.  Jack’s best friend is also a young women, one of several of strength in this story. It’s a great cast of characters and I loved spending time with all of them.  So I’m thrilled that this is just part of the beginning of a series.  I will be happy to follow each one as it releases.

Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo is a terrific contemporary new adult romance, and a great start to a new series.  It’s one I definitely recommend.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  I so connected to that cover.  That is Jack all the way.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 211 pages
Expected publication: March 26th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07NNL34L7
Edition Language English
Series Harrison Campus #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall and Adam R Watson (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I really enjoyed this story. An unusual shifter tale, in this one Veier (rhymes with bear) has been chained to a king’s throne and kept in his bear shifter form for five years. He’s freed when the kingdom is overthrown, but the new king wants him executed and it’s his brother, Elrid, who saves Veier’s life. Elrid is a powerful mage and he rightly points out that the chain indicates Veier was not necessarily loyal to the previous rulers.

But it takes patience and trial and error before Veier is trusted enough to be let outside the room where Elrid works and sleeps with him as the two begin to build trust. He has brief moments of freedom but always seems to be in the wrong place when trouble occurs. He and Elrid become close as he slowly starts to trust that this human may really not wish him harm.

When Elrid is severely injured in an attack by the previous king’s followers, it’s Veier who risks not only his freedom, but his life, to go to Elrid and use his own life force to help Elrid recover and regain his strength. 

I liked the way the author created Veier’s character as a very rough, gruff, hard to get to know man, yet one who we definitely want to get to know and cheer for as he slowly grows from the bear who reacts before thinking to the man who feels all levels of emotion.  Elrid was the strong, silent type—the kind of man with enough patience to wait out Veier’s slow buildup of trust. 

The narrator did a good job with unique vocalizations for each man. If I had one peeve it would be that the MC’s name, Veier, rhymed with bear and he’s a bear shifter. Perhaps the narrator mispronounced it. Or perhaps the author never read the book out loud.  In either event, it caused confusion on several occasions when I was listening as I wasn’t quite sure which word was being used. And at some points in the story, when it was important to know Veier was in bear or in human form, it was frustrating.

Other than that, this is a definite recommendation to my fellow MM romance readers.  Most definitely not insta-love, this is a slow burn, enemies to friends to lovers story with a unique shifter slant. 

The cover by Shayne Leighton features a close-up of a bearded man, hand under chin, and a bear paw print with the title of the story superimposed over it. Very nicely done.

Sales LInks:  Riptide Publishing | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audio Book Details:

Audiobook
Published October 24th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published April 9th 2018)
Original Title Magic Runs Deep
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) by Kelly Jensen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.

Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.

Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.

But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.

If you haven’t found Kelly Jensen’s This Time Forever series, you seriously need to.  While each story uses a structure like a legacy home or lodge at its heart, it’s the author’s ability to create and bring to life a group of interlocked men of varying ages, often older than your usual contemporary romance, intelligent, each carrying more than their share of life’s baggage.  Some are easily more damaged than others, some emotionally, others physically, some both. Through the stories we’ve met several of the characters over and over through their complicated relationship dynamics with each other, as couples form and ex’s watch from the sidelines.

In Chasing Forever, one of those ex’s, Brian is someone we’ve “seen” through other characters perspectives and the view hasn’t been a pretty one.  Here Brian’s past is revealed, the truth of the man  peeled back, and he’s set on the path to redemption.  One reason? Mal “Malcolm” Montgomery, history teacher  and track coach who is trying to recover from a devastating hit and run accident.  Prior to the accident he was someone who defined himself by his physical ability…to run, to coach…to just do and now it’s a struggle to just walk.  In these two amazingly complicated and damaged men, Jensen brings about both redemption, recovery, hope, love, and, finally an emotionally triumphant future.  All done within a realistic, adult plot with the expectant struggles, arguments, and hurdles to overcome.  What a joy to read!

Threaded through this romance is the series foundation that features, in this case, not a family house or lodge but a bar that needs saving because the historic structure is slated to   be  sold to a developer in town.  This is an ongoing battle in this series, as the developer has made an appearance in a previous story and I expect to see them again  in future novels.  How it all plays out I will leave out to each reader to discover for themselves.  It too is a rich, multidimensional element of this story, just as I would have expected from someone who clearly loves her old structures as much as this author does.

In fact, there are several other floating storylines here that will capture your heart, along with the characters that go along with them.  There are no people here that I could honestly consider “supporting” cast because each feels so meaningful to the town and each other.

It’s like that with each and every story here.  For me they build on each other with their relationships, their place in the town, and in each other’s lives.  This is one series I would go around waving at people, recommending the hell out of it because it’s just that great.  Start with the first one and work your way here.  Get to know the town and its people.  Love them as I do.  Then you will know why I highly recommend this story, this series, and it’s author.  And do the same.

Cover Art:  Natasha Snow.  It matches the other novels in the series in style and element perfectly.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 333 pages
Published December 10th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 139781626498426
Edition Language English

Series This Time Forever 

Building Forever

Renewing Forever

Chasing Forever