Its a Return to The Sunset Club with Beau’s Baby by AC Katt (excerpt and giveaway)

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Beau’s Baby (The Sunset Club #4) by AC Katt
Release Date: April 22, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Lex Valentine

Blurb

Jack Romano is a policeman who has just killed in man in the line of duty. As if this wasn’t bad enough, he found out that his bemoaned first love’s wife has died in childbirth and his ex lover killed himself leaving the sickly newborn to Jack. Carlo Del Monte who has been chasing Jack for nine months uses Bella as an opportunity to get Jack in his house as well as his bed. The two of them set up housekeeping with the help of the Soccer team, their partners and Carlo’s big Italian family then tradegy strikes, little Bella gets the measles.

 

Pages or Words: 50,306 words
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt

Prologue

Four Years Ago

“Beau, get your lazy ass out of bed. I have the afternoon off.” Jack Romano went to the fridge and grabbed a beer and with a smile in his voice he continued, “Unless, of course, that’s where you’d like us to spend our afternoon… Beau? Where are you? Beau?”

Jack walked back to the bedroom of his and Beau’s apartment following the sound of voices. Figuring it was one of the soccer team, Jack walked through the door and glanced around looking for his man. He found him. Beau was fucking Meredith Simmons in their bed.

“I’m sorry that you had to find out like this, Jack. I’ve been trying to tell you, but…” Beau got out of bed and started to dress.

“Tell me what? What is this?” Jack’s voice broke. “This is a mistake. You’re gay. We’ve been together since high school.”

“Meredith, get dressed. We’ll be in the living room. Finish your beer, Jack.”

“No, I don’t want to fucking finish my beer. I want to know what’s going on.”

“It’s pretty straight forward, I’m in love with Meredith and I’m going to marry her.”

“Honey, I’m leaving so you can get this mess straightened out. Don’t let him corrupt you again.” Meredith let herself out, the door closing quietly behind her.

“How long?” Jack asked needing to know.

“Six months, maybe more.”

“But we made love yesterday.”

“We fucked yesterday. Let’s get down to business. Meredith and I would like this apartment so we’d appreciate it if you found somewhere else to live.”

“No fucking way…it’s my name on the lease, and you’re the one who’s leaving.”

“You’ll be sorry you’re doing this. I was planning on seeing you on the side once Meredith and I are married. You know I love you but I can’t get ahead at work being a fag, I need a wife.”

“No, you’re wrong. Gays are accepted everywhere. Please, we can work this out.”

“We can’t. I won’t put my future in jeopardy.”

“You’re gay. You aren’t going to change that.”

“Actually, I’m bi.” Beau came up to put his arms around Jack. “You love me. We’ll talk about all of this when I get back.”

Jack broke Beau’s hold and with tears streaming down his cheeks said, “Get the hell out of my apartment. You can move out tomorrow. I’ll sort out your things tonight.”

“You can’t do that.”

“As I said, my name is on the lease. Get the fuck out. You’re leaving me.”

“Jack, be reasonable, we can be together when I come home from the honeymoon. We’ll have to sneak around but—”

“Do you really think I’m capable of that? Helping you cheat? No, just no.”

“You’ll change your mind when I come home. I’ll be back.”

“Get the fuck out, get out of here, right now.” Jack’s voice broke again.

Beau slammed the door on his way out.

Jack sat down on the sofa that he and Beau picked out for the living room seven months ago, put his head in his hands and wept.

“Beau, Beau, how can I live without you? But I can’t be with you as long as you’re with her.”

***

Bobby and Keith’s House

Thursday in June, Four Years Later

Eight in the Morning

Jack was distraught when he came back to Bobby’s. Carlo was with him.

“They’re not doing anything to you because you shot Billy are they?” Reggie asked obviously worried. Reggie and Mark were staying with Bobby because of the fire.

“No, but any officer-involved shooting requires a hearing. The captain already called it a good shoot. The rest of the procedure is all technicalities…” Jack still had storm clouds over his face.

He and Carlo sat down at the kitchen table and Marla poured them some coffee. Jack appeared dumbstruck.

He finally blurted out, “Meredith died in childbirth three days ago.” Jack’s voice broke. “She had a little girl. Beau killed himself yesterday and left custody of the infant to me in a new will he made after Meredith died. They tried to contact me yesterday, but I was busy with the Billy business. I have to go sign paperwork at Social Services if I accept custody. No one has been there for the baby for three days. Carlo’s going with me to identify Beau at the morgue.”

“Why do you have to identify him?” Bobby was incensed.

“There isn’t anyone else.” Jack’s shoulders shook.

“I have to go see her at the hospital if I accept custody. There is no family. If I don’t take her, she’ll go into the foster system. I have to make up my mind right away.”

“What?” Bobby screeched in anger.

“You heard me. Carlo came to my apartment when he heard about the shooting. He’s going to help me with the legal mess. I’ll take that security job with you, Keith, if the offer is still open. Now that I’m going to have a child, I need steady work that doesn’t require me to place my life on the line.”

“Of course the offer is still open.” Bobby put his arm around Jack. “Are you okay?”

“I haven’t had time to think about it. They’re holding a note for me from Beau at his lawyer’s office.”

“Do you need any baby things? I have Kitty’s things, although they’re not the best quality,” Jason offered.

“I have to get some stuff from their apartment. Meredith probably bought things for the baby. I’ll need to purchase a house. My apartment has only one bedroom.” Jack’s face scrunched up in worry.

“Do you need money?” Reggie asked.

“I don’t know Reg. I promise I’ll let you know.”

“The two bedroom across the street from us is for sale. It’s small, but there is plenty of property if you want to expand later,” Jason said. “Stella is going into Assisted Living.”

“I might be interested. Carlo needs to look at Beau’s finances. I’m going to visit her at the hospital now. They’re keeping her for a while, she’s underweight.”

“How much underweight?” Bobby asked.

“She weighs only three pounds even though she was full term. Although she’s finally breathing on her own and just started sucking the bottle, they told me she can’t go home yet. Meredith wasn’t eating much. She wanted to keep her figure,” Jack said, the disgust plain on his face.

Bobby’s jaw dropped. “What a bitch.”

“Carlo’s coming with me. The Billy mess is cleaned up, now I have one of my own.”

Bobby reached out and touched Jack’s arm. “You don’t have to take her. An infant girl is greatly prized on the adoption market. She’d get a home quickly.”

“I have to keep her. She’s all I have left of Beau. I’ve got to go,” Jack choked on a sob. He left with Carlo and the door closed behind them.

“Goddamn Beau, he’s sabotaging Jack’s relationships from the grave,” Jason cursed.

“It’sclear that he’s not going to change his mind about keeping her. Carlo was doing more than a flyby here. I wonder how he feels about this.” Keith poured more coffee.

“Not you, baby, you’re on medication, remember, Greg said limit your caffeine,” Reggie told Mark. “Have juice with Bobby. He’s on meds too.”

“We’ll all have to help him do this. The little girl is an innocent, she can’t help that her father was a lying, cheating, son of a bitch,” Bobby said eyes moving from Jason to Reggie.

“It isn’t like we haven’t taken care of little girls before, we have Kitty-cat. As far as Carlo is concerned, he was interested. We’ll find out how invested he is now. Let’s see how this all plays out.” Reggie moved to the sofa and sat down in a huff.

Bobby lifted his juice. “A toast to Billy’s fortunate demise. As for Beau, may he rest in peace, if that’s possible for a liar and a cheat whose only good deed was offing himself?”

“Here, here…” They men clinked their coffee cups and glasses.

“We’ll know more about what Jack wants to do once he and Carlo take care of the legalities,” Keith observed.

“I don’t know about you, but to me it looked like Carlo was all in,” Zach noted.

Jason’s face was rife with speculation. “I believe you’re right.”

 

 

Buy the book:  MLR Press

 

 

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Meet the author:

AC Katt was born in New York City’s Greenwich Village. She remembers sitting at the fountain in Washington Square Park listening to folk music while they passed the hat. At nine, her parents dragged her to New Jersey where she grew up, married and raised four children and became a voracious reader of romantic fiction. At one time she owned over two thousand novels, until she and her husband took themselves and the cat to New Mexico for their health and its great beauty.

Now, most of AC’s books are electronic (although she still keeps six bookcases of hardcovers), so she never has to give away another book. AC is a late bloomer, however, she claims to have found her niche writing LGBT romance.

She hangs out at ACKatt.com and ackattsjournal.com; where she keeps her blog. To get snippets of new releases and Works in Progress subscribe to AC Katt’s Kattery by sending an e-mail to mlhansel@gmail.com.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, Bonkers About Books, Kirsty Loves Books, Happily Ever Chapter,

MM Good Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Mikky’s World of Books, Book Lovers 4Ever, Alpha Book Club,

Jessie G. Books, Oh My Shelves, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Bayou Book Junkie, Velvet Panic,

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Open Skye Book Reviews, Three Books Over The Rainbow,

Outrageous Heroes

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: All four of the Sunset Club series in .PDF format.  Must be 18 years of age or older.

 

 

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Review: Symphony in Blue (Blue Notes #4.5) by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Symphony in Blue-build (1) coverThe holidays are a time for friends and family to come together in celebration and thanks.  Symphony in Blue brings together all the couples in the Blue Notes series for a very special occasion.  Aiden and Sam are ready to get married but before that can happen Cary and Antonio’s baby daughter decides to make her appearance into the world earlier than anyone had anticipated. So instead of the huge reception planned, David Somers and his long time lover Alex Bishop bring everyone to their villa in Milan for a homecoming and Thanksgiving that they will never forget.

Join Sam and Aiden, Jules and Jason, David and Alex, and Cary and Antonio and friends as each couple shares something they are thankful for. Played out in four movements, this symphony is a celebration of friendship and love, orchestrated by David.

I have loved this incredible series since the release of the first story, Blue Notes.  With the Blue Notes series, Shira Anthony (and for Prelude, Venona Keyes), has created an ensemble of musicians and their lovers that has intrigued us with their personalities, enthralled us with their music and beckoned to us with their love stories.  Whether it was violinist Jules Bardon (with manager/lover Jason Greene), cellist Cary Redding (and his partner, entertainment lawyer Antonio Bianchi), operatic baritone Aiden Lind (with partner lawyer Sam Ryan), and finally conductor and Chicago Symphony Music Director David Somers and his partner, violinist Alex Bishop, Shira Anthony has used this incredible octet of musicians and their loves as the “voice” through which she has moved us with her deep love of and passion for the world of classical music as well as knowledge of the various art forms within.

A former opera singer, Shira Anthony was at one time as deeply immersed in this world as her characters are and it shows in every element, every note that threads itself through these stories.  It is there in joy and in sorrow, through all the difficult times and choices these men have had to make.  And because she has been there herself, her series has a realism and authenticity that gives these stories depth and texture.

As these couples sit around the Thanksgiving table in Milan, each reflects on their lives as they share with their friends (and readers) something specific they are thankful for.  Anthony presents us with an intimate setting and a ritual I suspect occurs in more than one household around the country.  For each man, each couple, the things they share brings the reader up to date in their careers and presents us with glimpses of their present day family life.  I have to admit that Cary and Antonio’s memory is my favorite, with Cary (and Antonio) trying to deal with their son’s Massimo’s jealousy over the new born in their midst).  It’s so real, with elements that will break your heart and then put them back together as father consoles child and reaffirms their love for him. One couple after the other, with emotions high, celebrate love and family among their dearest friends.  It feels familiar and immediate and oh so lovely.

At 73 pages, Anthony packs a lot of feeling and music into her story.  Yes, let us not forget about the music, such an integral part of the Blue Notes series.  The story itself is a composition by David Somers, the dedication written by him.  The performer list is that of all the characters in the series and the story plays out in five movements, each movement a sharing by someone at the table. This is an inventive format that works beautifully for this story and is so reflective of the entire series.

In many ways Symphony in Blue and the Blue Notes stories are a series of love letters from the author, sharing her passion and deep appreciation of the musicians and the music they live their lives by.  I highly recommend not only Symphony in Blue but the entire Blue Notes series.  If you are a fan already, then you will love catching up with all your favorite couples.  If you are new to the series, then go back to the beginning as this story contains spoilers for all the rest.  Either way, this one is not to be missed!

Listed below are all the stories in the Blue Notes series.  The author has noted that she considers it a series of interrelated, classical music themed standalone novels that can be read in any order.

Knowing (Blue Notes, #0.5) a free read at Goodreads
Blue Notes (Blue Notes, #1)
The Melody Thief (Blue Notes, #2)
Aria (Blue Notes, #3)
Prelude (Blue Notes, #4) by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes
Encore (Blue Notes, #5)
Symphony in Blue (Blue Notes, #4.5)

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 73 pages
Published December 25th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627983945 (ISBN13: 9781627983945)
edition language English

Release Day Celebration and Contest for Symphony in Blue by Shira Anthony!

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Blue Notes Books Banners

Merry Christmas, everyone! Today, Christmas morning at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords, we  are celebrating the release of Symphony in Blue by Shira Anthony.  While everyone is enjoying family and loved ones, Shira Anthony is stopping by to talk about her Blue Notes series and  sharing some memories of holidays past.  Entries are still being taken for the terrific Blue Notes contest.  See details at the bottom of the post.

Now pull up a chair with some coffee or tea, and let’s  welcome Shira Anthony and Symphony in Blue:

Celebrating with the Blue Notes Series: Symphony in Blue Release Day Party!  Symphony in Blue-build (1) cover

Thank you, Melanie, for inviting me to celebrate the release day of the 6th book and the first holiday novella in the Blue Notes Series! I’m also celebrating because with Symphony in Blue, I’ll have published my 10th book with Dreamspinner Press. How appropriate that celebrations are the focus of Symphony in Blue. Celebrations of love, family, and friendship.

Symphony in Blue is written as a symphony might be, with “movements” in which a particular character pairing is featured. Complete with liner notes and a dedication, it is conductor/composer David Somers’s masterpiece—a piece of his heart, shared with his friends. And for David, who for years built a wall around that heart, it’s something of a holiday miracle that he can share the joys of love and friendship as deeply as he does. The focus of the novella is a Thanksgiving meal at David’s villa outside of Milan, Italy, where all his friends gather.

I have a bit of experience with Thanksgiving in Europe, since I lived in France for two years when I was in middle school. Back in the 1970s, there weren’t many people who were familiar with the Thanksgiving holiday. My mother loves to tell the story of her Cranberries20101210begging my grandmother to send her cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner. You couldn’t find cranberries in Europe at that time. She meant for my grandmother to send her the canned variety. My grandmother sent fresh ones! By boat (back then, and even now, airmail for packages was very expensive)! Needless to say, they were pretty much ruined by the time they arrived 4 weeks later. My mother picked out all the “good” berries (i.e., the ones that weren’t moldy or mushy). We had about 2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce that year! But we still had our turkey, stuffing, along with some European traditions including cheese after the main meal, and some amazing French wine (which I totally didn’t appreciate at age 15!). I still remember that Thanksgiving in Grenoble.

Nowadays, you can find fresh cranberries and all the trimmings for a festive meal throughout Western Europe, so David Somers’s last-minute Thanksgiving dinner is entirely plausible. That meal also features regional breads and vegetables. Violinist Jules bread-recette-pain-paysan-pain-campagne-1Bardon helps round out the offerings by baking “pain paysan,” or French country bread (I make this from time to time – it’s actually quite easy!). Here’s a recipe you might want to try. For our Thanksgiving my year, my daughter made two round loaves of pain paysan, and it was amazing!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you celebrate in your home! And if after your Christmas dinner you want to settle down are read a story about love for the long-term, you might want to check the Blue Notes Series and my latest release, Symphony in Blue.

The Blue Notes Series books are about real men in real relationships, with real problems, each with a music theme. If you’re looking for a sexy hot romances with fluffy scenes, I think you’ll like the Blue Notes books. But if you’re also looking for something more—for something more real than Cinderfella and his prince? I think you’ll enjoy these stories about making love work over time and through obstacles. You can find all of my Dreamspinner Press books by clicking here. You can read more about me, even hear what I sounded like when I sang opera professionally, and read more about my books, including free fiction and excerpts on my website, www.shiraanthony.com.

Don’t forget to enter the Blue Notes Holiday 2013 Blog Tour giveaway (details at the bottom of the post) by clicking here (Rafflecopter). There are plenty of ways to enter, and you can enter more than once by commenting, tweeting, buying books, and liking pages. I’ll be drawing winners on New Year’s Eve at midnight!

Good luck! –Shira
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Excerpt (Symphony in Blue):
DAVID TAPPED his cellphone, shoved it in his pocket, and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Something ruffle the maestro?” Alex grinned up at him from the couch, his bare feet tucked underneath him, a pile of staff paper scattered about the floor and coffee table. He’d printed out a score for a new composition and managed to knock it off the printer tray. Of course, all the page numbers at the bottom of the sheets were cut off. Damn thing was at least thirty pages and would be a nightmare to organize.

“Nothing that can’t be managed. Unlike your score.” David raised an eyebrow and Alex saw the ghost of a grin on David’s face.

You could just reprint it, you know.”

“What? And waste paper?”

“You’re stubborn,” David said as he picked up several of the pages and set them on the coffee table before joining Alex on the couch. When Alex said nothing, David leaned over and feathered several kisses over Alex’s neck.

Delightfully so, of course. But stubborn nonetheless.”

Alex sighed contentedly and pushed the rest of the music onto the floor. Fine. He’d reprint the damn thing. Later.

Who was on the phone?”

“Aiden.” David spoke the name with his lips so close to Alex’s ear that Alex nearly gasped. David’s voice just did that to Alex—that sexy baritone seemed to resonate through every part of his body. Alex was pretty sure David knew what it did to him too.

“Aiden? I thought he and Sam were in Australia.”

David pulled away and offered Alex a sardonic eyebrow. “Austria.”

“Oh, come on!” Alex laughed. “You know I can hardly keep track of my own schedule. Now you expect me to keep up with his?”

“Not even the correct continent.” David went back to kissing him. “What was he calling about?” Anything to keep David focused on his neck.

“The party in Connecticut is off. They’re also postponing the civil ceremony in New York for now.”

Alex shot up off the couch. “What? But we’ve been planning the reception for six months now! It’s only two weeks away. What the hell happened? Are they okay? I mean…. Shit. You know what I mean.”

David smiled—a strange expression for someone who’d just learned that he’d wasted four months arranging the party to celebrate Aiden and Sam’s wedding. Caterers, musicians, guests, and a dozen different schedules to coordinate.

“Okay. Fess up. Why are you smiling?”

“Aiden and Sam are fine. They’re just postponing it.” David appeared entirely calm. Too calm. Happy, even?

“Postponing? They’ve been doing that for two years now.”

“Three.”

“Fine. Three years. So why are you happy about it?” Alex pressed. Of course, David was yanking his chain, but he liked that. Anyone who thought David Somers didn’t have a sense of humor simply didn’t know him.

“I’m happy,” David said as his eyes brightened, “because there’s a good reason for it. In fact, there’s a wonderful reason for it.”

Alex laughed. “What reason would that be?”

“Who might be the more appropriate way of say—”

“David,” Alex warned.

“Graziella Michaela Redding.”

“Graziella? You mean….”

“Mother and child doing quite well, I’m told.” David grinned outright this time.

“Cary and Antonio’s baby?”

“Born last night. Almost five pounds. Three weeks early but doing well.” David stood up and wrapped his arms around Alex’s waist. “A good reason to postpone a wedding, don’t you think?”

“The best.” Alex kissed David. “Should we plan a visit in a few weeks?”

“A few weeks?” David’s sly grin made Alex chuckle. “Just because we can’t have the party to celebrate doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of the opening in everyone’s schedules.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Thanksgiving in Milan. It’s been years since we’ve been able to get everyone together.”

“The villa?” David’s Italian villa was certainly large enough. “But—”

“Is that a problem for you? Last I looked at your schedule, your next performance is in Buenos Aires in three weeks.” David nipped at Alex’s earlobe.

“No… it’s not… ah…. Shit, David, I can’t think straight when you do that!” Alex shivered and closed his eyes. “And no. No problem for me. But didn’t you give the staff at the villa the entire month off?”

Alex knew David had completely forgotten about that particular detail. He frowned, then said blithely, “We’ll just have to do it ourselves. Jules and I can handle the cooking. You and Jason can get the placed opened up. Rachel can help you with the rooms.”

“You’re serious about this?”

“Am I ever not?” David pulled at Alex’s earlobe with his teeth. “I’ll call the travel agent and look into rebooking all the air travel.”

“Travel agent?”

Another kiss, a nip, and then: “The travel agent. Too complicated to handle that much rebooking online and you needn’t trouble yourself with that. Just call Jules and Jason and let them know we’ll meet them in Milan on Saturday. I’ll text them the flight information as soon as I have it.”

“Ah…. Okay. Sure. Jules and Jason.” Alex could handle that. He’d been meaning to call Jules to see how the Blue Notes album was coming along anyhow. He’d joined Jules and the other members of the trio on several of the tracks when he’d been in Paris three weeks before.

“Good.” David brushed his lips against Alex’s. “And one more thing.”

“Hmm?” Focus, Bishop, focus!

“This.” David pushed Alex onto the couch and began to unbutton his shirt. “First things first. Always.”

******
You can purchase the Blue Notes Series books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AllRomanceEbooks, and on the Dreamspinner Press website.
Encore: link to DSP
Symphony in Blue: link to DSP

Contest Details for Blue Notes Series Holiday 2013 Giveaway:

  • Begins on release day for “Encore,” November 11, 2013
  • Ends on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013, at midnight
  • Drawings are open to both U.S. readers and international readers, but physical prizes (Kindle, necklace, book, and t-shirt) are for U.S. readers only. I will award a virtual set of the first 4 Blue Notes Series books to one winner from outside the U.S.

Prizes (U.S. Only):

  • Grand Prize: A Kindle loaded with the first 4 Blue Notes Series books and some of my other back titles
  • 1st Place: A sterling silver music themed necklace
  • 2nd Place: Winner’s choice of one of my back titles in paperback (i.e., not including the 2 new releases)
  • 3rd Place: Blue Notes t-shirt, cover of the winner’s choice

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Blue Notes Holiday 2013 Blog Tour stops:
November 11th (release day – Encore): Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words (Melanie Marshall)
November 12th: Live Your Life, Buy the Book
November 14th: Michael Rupured’s Blog
November 15th: Joyfully Jay (Blue Notes Cover Art – Interviews with the Artists)
November 18th: Elin Gregory’s blog
November 22nd: Aisling Mancy’s blog
November 26th: Andrew Q. Gordon’s blog
December 6th: Oscar’s Bruised Petals (Sandra Garcia’s blog)
December 10th: Brilliant Disguise (Tali Spencer’s blog)
December 13th: Lily Sawyer’s Blog
December 16th: Rebecca Cohen’s blog
December 20th: Purple Rose Teahouse (Charlie Cochet’s blog)
December 23rd: Mrs. Condits and Friends
December 25th: Symphony in Blue Release Day Party at Melanie Marshall’s Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
December 26th: Book Suburbia
December 27th: Helen Pattskyn’s blog

Review: Texas Family (Texas #4) by R.J. Scott

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Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

Texas FamilyJack and Riley Campbell-Hayes have been through so many things together, and overcome it all to get to the place where they are today, a happy couple with an adorable daughter and a wonderful extended family. Each hurdle in their path, whether it was their disastrous start to their relationship, fires, gunshots, and even the deepest of family betrayals haven’t kept them from each other or hurt their deep bond.

Now its time for another change, another forward step that will enlarge their family…..that of having another child.  This time, the child will have Jack’s DNA and their chosen path is surrogacy. But before Jack and Riley know it, their plans for just one child are being hijacked, first by their  surrogates pregnancy and then by a young four year old boy, Max, in foster care As Jack and Riley quickly find out, nothing is ever easy, especially in the state of Texas where gay couples, even rich ones, have a tougher path as families.

I have followed the romance of Jack and Riley through three books now and still can’t get enough.  Starting with The Heart of Texas (Texas, #1) where the men meet and marry under the worst possible circumstances through Texas Winter where Riley learned about his daughter and the devious workings of his family to Texas Heat (Texas, #3) and the expansion of the Double D, I have felt an intimate connection to these men and their future together as a couple and family.  So I was thrilled to see Texas Family released so I could pick up where we had left off before, with the men wanting to have another child, this time Jack’s.

But the road to having children is never an easy one, especially for gay couples. Then locate the gay couple in question in the not so gay friendly state of Texas and the obstacles in front of them increase exponentially.  R.J.Scott makes sure that Jack and Riley’s pursuit of a surrogate to have their child is realistically described to her credit.  This is not an easy process in any respect.  From the mens thoughts on whose sperm to donate to the woman who will carry their child, it is a complicated procedure, fraught with the possibility of rejection, pain, and the right of the birth mother to refuse to turn over the child when it is born.   The author brings us right into couples journey to fatherhood, making all the many emotions and complex decisions seem as though they could be ours.  As Riley and Jack questioned the two surrogates as to why they would agree to such an emotional and physically draining procedure, they asked the same questions that were in my mind as well.  It all felt authentic.  It was stressful, hopeful, and ultimately one of the most rewarding experiences for them all.  Trust me, by the time everyone ends up in the maternity room, your eyes will be filled with tears of joy along with everyone present.

But if that is not enough, Scott adds yet another dimension to this picture of Jack and Riley’s expanding family.  The couple that is the surrogate and her husband are also foster parents.  In their care is a very special child named Max.  I won’t spoil either his introduction or his history but needless to say that Max will grab onto your heart just as quickly as he does Jack and Riley’s.  So adoption and its complications enters into the story, again not an easy path for a gay couple, not only in Texas but elsewhere.

In fact Texas Family is about more than just Jack and Riley and their efforts to expand their family.  It’s about their extended families efforts to have children or to move forward in their troubled relationships.  Its about family in every aspect you can think of.  Its Jack’s sister whose fragile health complicates her dreams for another child. Its Riley’s sister’s problems with the man she loves , one Riley doesn’t approve of. Its their mothers, step fathers, and co workers. Its even the new worker newly arrived with problems of his own.

If I have a quibble, its that the author has packed so much into one story that it threatens to burst at the seams. Just the introduction of a new thread about the latest hire, a young man with a troubled past, had me wanting more yet wishing she had postponed that element in favor of a last minute look at Jack, Riley and their new family. I ended up wanting more of everything and everyone. The Double D Rance is a huge canvas and R.J. Scott is taking advantage of every square inch to bring us a multigenerational family saga, complete with drama, laughter, and romance.

I know the author has at least two more books planned.  I hope that the Texas saga will continue on much, much longer.  I love this series and highly recommend both the series and this book.  If you are new to the Texas saga, go back to the beginning and see how it all starts.  Otherwise, some of the relationships and past events will make little sense to a reader picking up this book to read as a standalone story.

Here are the stories in the Texas series in the order they were written and should be read:

The Heart of Texas (Texas, #1)
Texas Winter (Texas, #2)
Texas Heat (Texas, #3)
Texas Family (Texas, #4)
Texas Christmas (coming soon)

Cover by Meredith Russell.  The cover is adorable and perfect in every way.

Book Details:

ebook, 186 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Love Lane Books
edition language English
series Texas

Review: The Legend of the Apache Kid by Sarah Black

Standard

Rating: 4.75 stars

Dr. Raine Magrath is lazing about in a hotel hot tub when he sees young Apache Johnny Bravo and his grandfather by the side of the pool. Johnny is in town for his first film festival and to meet with a man about the independent film Johnny has made. When Johnny joins Raine in the hot tub, they make an immediate connection with each other and Raine asks Johnny to look him up in Taos if he ever visits.  Then Johnny and his grandfather disappear and it is another year before they meet again.

When Raine walked into The Peaceful Bean to get his morning coffee, he was surprised to see he knows the new guy behind the counter.  It was the Apache film maker he had met a year ago at the film festival.  Johnny Bravo was in Taos and it looked like he now lived here.  Johnny had gone home with his grandfather until the cancer killed him and then went looking for Raine.  The connection they felt at their first meeting is as strong as ever and getting stronger with each passing conversation.  And when Raine takes him home to the family ranch he shares with his father, he semi jokingly introduces Johnny as his new boyfriend, something that  becomes reality.  With the arrival of Johnny’s 8 year old cousin, Weasel, the men start to form a family, cemented by love of the land, history, family, and each other.

But Johnny has another love, film making.  He’s a genius at it and Hollywood is beckoning by the way of the Sundance Festival.  And when he begs Raine not to put any chains on him, Raine knows that for them to succeed, he must be prepared to let Johnny go and chase his dreams.  When Johnny heads off to the Sundance Film Festival, the welcome his film gets is overwhelming with offers to work out in Hollywood.  It’s everything he has dreamed about or is it? With Raine and his family missing him back in Taos, Johnny must decide where his dreams really lie.

OK, right off the start, I will tell you that I want to take a black marker and eradicate that awful blurb for this remarkable book.  Why?  One, Johnny is in no way an “airhead” bur rather someone focused more on the quality of film he makes and less on its marketability.  What a disservice the person who wrote that did to Sarah Black’s characters and this story.  *Shakes head*  Alright.  Rant over, now that I have gotten that off my  chest.  The Legend of the Apache Kid has all the qualities of the best of Sarah Black’s writing.  Her characters of all ages are so well crafted, so beautifully put together that I feel I have run across them in my travels out west for truly Sarah Black has one of the strongest regional voices for our western states that I can remember.

These people rise up from the pages of this book covered in the dust of their ancestors, history percolates through their bloodstream, and who they are is so strongly tied to the land they walk on that they are as much a part of the landscape as the weedy scrub sage, twisted juniper and alligator pine of Carson National Forest.  From their dialog to their rides (either horseback or truck) the characters exude authenticity of  location, the author’s love of the southwestern desert and the native american tribes who belong to it.  Sarah Black knows this land and its people intimately and it translates her love and knowledge into her stories, characters and locales.  If she has an old man talking and walking in her scene, then that character moves and sounds like an old man does. When the bored and sullen Weasel is left by himself for a few precious moments in his first introduction to Raine and Taos, he carves his initials into the shop’s small table because that what small sullen boys with a pocketknife do.  To write like this, your knowledge of people cannot be superficial.  You must have the ability to see beneath the surface, to get under their skin and somehow burrow into peoples thoughts and emotions to bring forth characters as real as these.

Equally remarkable is the dialog and narrative of the story. It is both weighted with emotion and yet as dry as the desert air. It is elegant in that spare western way rarely heard outside the region.  You could give me anonymous samples of writings, and I could pick out Sarah Black’s signature voice in an instant.  Although I dislike taking sentences out of context, this is one such example:

“He leaned forward and kissed me, light as a hummingbird on the side of my mouth. “Later, Raine.” He climbed out of the tub, grabbed his clothes, and pulled the old man’s jacket over his shoulders. The snow was falling on his hair, but he didn’t hurry, just followed the man, wet bare feet on frozen concrete. I closed my eyes so I didn’t have to watch him walk away.”

I put that out there, loving the feeling it evokes within me  and still feel I have not done this author justice because there is so much beauty to be found everywhere within this book.  There is the author’s considerable knowledge of the history and her appreciation for the differing Native American tribes and their cultures. In fact, her love for and curiosity about all cultures comes shining through each and every story.  A particular delight of mine is to see what new element of Americana she will bring into a book.  In Marathon Cowboys, it was bathtub Marys. Really I had no idea. Check them out.  Here it is the green Earthship homes built in communities out west.  Yes, I had to look them up and darn it if I can’t stop thinking about them and the need for green sustainable living ever since.  Sarah Black has given me a real itch to go out west and visit one to see  and experience them for myself.

So why not a 5 star rating?  Well, that would be the ending and really, I need to just give it up when it comes to Sarah Black.  If anyone reading this is already familiar with Sarah Black’s books, then you know what I am talking about.  The ending of the book just comes to a gradual stop.  There is no epilogue, more of a “this is where it needs to end naturally” sort of thing.  It’s not rushed, nor is it drawn out, it just is. In some of her stories it drives me crazy my need to know more is so great, in others it’s just fine because it is in tune with the story and characters.  And truth be told, she is never going to change that, so I just need to let it go.  And yes, it works here, it ends well and brings the story back around full circle. But damn it , I just wanted more. More of these characters, and more of their story and so will you once you read this. It enters your bloodstream as it did mine and won’t let you go. And you will be ok with that.  It’s a Sarah Black story after all.

Cover: Paul Richmond was the cover artist.  The colors he chose are perfect for the story as is the illustration.  The background graphic is the poster for Johnny’s film.

Read my review of Marathon Cowsboys here.

Read my review of Border Roads here.

Read by Author Spotlight on Sarah Black here.