Elyse Springer on Antarctic Animals (aka Penguins!) and her latest release ‘World Turned Upside Down’

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World Turned Upside Down by Elyse Springer

Dreamspinner Press
Published August 9th 2019
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Purchase Links:

Dreamspinner Press |  Kobo iTunes |  Amazon |   Barnes & Noble | Google Play |

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Elyse Springer here today with a wonderful guest blog on the animals of Antartica and her new release World Turned Upside Down. Welcome, Elyse!

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World Turned Upside Down, by Elyse Springer

Antarctic Animals (aka Penguins!)

Welcome to the blog tour for World Turned Upside Down, my M/M romance novella set at the bottom of the world… Antarctica!

After spending three years living and working in Antarctica, the number one question I get from people is, “Are there any polar bears down there?”

So time to clear up a few things on one of my favorite topics: what animal life can you find in Antarctica?

Polar Bears: NOPE! Polar bears are a North Pole thing only.

Penguins: YES! Antarctica is home to several different species of penguins, though most often at McMurdo you’ll find Emperor Penguins and my all-time favorites, the Adelie penguin. Check out these molting cuties!

 

 

Birds: Surprisingly enough, yes. While various sea birds do make the voyage across the southern oceans to Antarctica, the massive (and cunning) Skua is the most common sight in McMurdo. Think giant brown dinosaur bird that is smart enough to steal your lunch right out of your hands…

Here’s a great YouTube video (not by me) showing a fearless skua trying to find some baby penguin for dinner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH537AZoDtU

 

Mammals: Other than humans, the only mammals you’ll find in Antarctica are whales, seals and dolphins. Orcas and Minke whales are common during the summer months, when the sea ice breaks up. Leopard and Waddell seals can be found sunbathing on the ice shelf or nearby rocks, like this sleepy happy guy:

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Fish: The oceans around Antarctica are teeming with a variety of fascinating fish species, a fact I think will shock many. In fact, researchers come to McMurdo every year to study the various fish, shrimp, and other ocean creatures that live in the frigid waters… and often beneath a thick layer of ice for much of the year.

 

 

 

 

People are surprised to learn that Antarctica is teeming with life, despite the bitter cold. Unfortunately, come winter these animals migrate to warmer waters, which means Simon and Asher don’t get a chance to experience this rich wildlife. But it’s an important part of Antarctica, and the reason for a lot of the scientific research on the continent!

Summary:

After three winters in Antarctica, Simon Bancroft is an old hand on the ice. The harsh weather and extreme isolation aren’t for everyone, but he enjoys the tight-knit community at McMurdo Station… and lately he’s enjoyed watching the hot new researcher, Asher Delaney, who’s recently arrived to study the aurora. But Simon’s just a janitor. Asher doesn’t even know he exists.

When Simon’s friends propose a wager, he gets a chance to introduce himself to Asher at last. But Asher defies all of Simon’s assumptions, and suddenly he finds himself reevaluating everything he thought he knew about Asher, himself, and falling in love at the bottom of the world.

Giveaway:

 

To celebrate the release of World Turned Upside Down, I’m giving away a t-shirt from McMurdo Station, Antarctica (yes, actually purchased in Antarctica!) and an e-copy of WTUD in the format of your choice. Two additional winners will also receive an e-copy of World Turned Upside Down in the format of their choice, or an e-copy of any book from my backlist.

Link to Giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1d4f97ea1/?

Contest is open to anyone worldwide over age 18. Closes 8/21 at 11:59 PM EST.

About the Author:

Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQIA+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, Elyse spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.

You can find Elyse online at:

Website: http://elspringer.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ElyseSpringer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elysespringerwrites

A Lucy Review : Nothing Ventured by Jay Northcote

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

When Aiden agrees to run the Mad Mucker—a twelve-mile muddy slog over an obstacle course—he’s expecting it to be a bit of a laugh. The training will be tough, but Aiden could use the motivation to regain some fitness.

Matt is the sexy cousin of one of Aiden’s coworkers and a last-minute addition to the team. When he agrees to train with Aiden, Aiden suddenly finds the prospect of regular workouts a lot more appealing.

Soon attraction flares, and they embark on an intense physical relationship. Matt doesn’t want to fall in love with a man, and Aiden doesn’t want to fall in love at all, but despite their insistence on no strings, they grow closer. As the day of the race approaches, time is running out for them to work out how they feel about each other.

This story is told from Aiden’s point of view and I have to say I liked him immensely.  The whole “wow, it’s really been that long since I’ve been to the gym?” was all too familiar for me.  It is only a night of tequila with coworkers, specifically Liz (who I also liked so much), that got him roped into do the Mad Mucker obstacle course.  Since I also have completed something similar, I felt his pain as he tried to get out of it.

The team is comprised of coworkers of Aiden and Liz, in addition to Liz’s cousin, Matt.  Matt is super fit, hot and as a personal trainer he knows what he’s doing.  Since he’s so into running and fitness and Aiden is, well, not, Liz teams them up together for training purposes. Aiden is pretty laid back and lighthearted while Matt is much more serious and remote.

They start out being just training partners, moving on to friendly and then friends with benefits.  String free, no hearts involved ever.  Matt isn’t out to anyone (he’s bisexual) while Aiden is out (gay) but has no intention of commitment to anyone, let alone a relationship. 

Both of these guys have baggage from their past but it seems to affect Matt’s life and actions the most.  There were times, especially after they started sleeping together and FEELINGS were starting to happen, that I was so aggravated with Matt.  As Aiden starts hiding his feelings – I mean, come on, Matt changes plans because he’s going on a date with a woman from work and then is “…formal and icily polite” when Aiden says he’s going to see Pete, another friends with benefits. “Aiden felt a flare of irritation.  Did Matt honestly think he was such a sad case that he didn’t have anyone else to spend time with?”   I was glad that Aiden has Pete, though.  Even without the benefits, Pete is a friend and about the only one Aiden can talk to about Matt.  Pete calls him out on it, too as Aiden denies what Matt means to him.  “You falling for someone.  Nobody’s immune.”

It is complicated and it gets awkward at times, with both men fighting their feelings.  The struggles they were both going through were interesting, especially as past history was part of the problem.  They had both been hurt and didn’t trust easily.  It was so heartbreaking at times to see Aiden trying to make himself believe he was okay with casual with Matt, particularly since Matt just doesn’t want more than sex with a man. 

I liked this very much and the whole Mad Mucker just added to the interest for me.  It was somehow fitting that things come to a head at the race, since that’s what started it all.  I would recommend this highly.

Cover art, a running man, in my mind was Aiden and fit the story very well.

Sales Links:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Ye6AFm

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2LGRciK

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/NothingVentured

Book Details:

ebook, 142 pages
Published November 12th 2014
Original Title Nothing Ventured
ISBN 163216423X (ISBN13: 9781632164230)
Edition Language English
URL http://jaynorthcote.com/coming-soon/

J.P. Barnaby on Writing, Research, and their new release ‘A Pocketful of Stardust”by J.P. Barnaby and Rowan Speedwell

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A Pocketful of Stardust (Aster #1) by J.P. Barnaby and Rowan Speedwell

Dreamspinner Press
Published July 30th 2019
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:   | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.P. Barnaby here today, answering questions and talking about her latest release with Rowan Speedwell, A Pocketful of Stardust.

Welcome, J.P.

 

A Q&A with author JP Barnaby

Hello! My name is JP Barnaby and I’m the author of Aaron, the Little Boy Lost series, and a few other novels in the M/M world. Today I’m here to answer a few questions in promotion of a great new book with Rowan Speedwell (Kindred Hearts, Finding Zach, Illumination). It’s the story of Noah who inherits his father’s failing bookstore and with the help of Henry, the ghost of the previous owner, learns about community as he attempts to save it.

So, here we go with our Q&A:

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

My husband and I take a cruise to the Caribbean each year to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I’d love to say that I sit on the deck, watching the waves under the sun and write my little heart out, but that just isn’t the case. The best place for me to write is on my couch, with my dog at my side and my husband at work. I have my notes spread all around me (I’m a paper girl, despite working in IT), a Diet Pepsi on the table, and maybe some pretzels in a bowl. I can’t listen to music with words, so I’ll put on a John Williams station and listen to soundtracks from Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and more. After a couple hours of sitting under a blanket, lap desk across my legs, I usually wake up and realize I’ve only written a couple thousand words.

Does research play a role in choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

The genre in which I write depends a lot on what I’m reading at the time. Prior to meeting my husband, I read a lot of romance (straight and gay). I liked thinking that a happy ending was possible. When I got my own, I started reading more in the suspense genre. I’m a big fan of Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Stephen King, Lee Child, and now Karen Rose and Sandra Brown. For me, Romantic Suspense is the best of both worlds.

As for settings, I prefer making up my own town in an area of the country. For example in this latest book, A Pocketful of Stardust, we wanted to make it a small down in the south, so we created our own town of Aster in Georgia. It’s situated on the western outskirts of Atlanta and has a great community vibe with that unique southern charm. I like to write places I’ve lived, or at least been, so I can get a feel for the atmosphere—is it fast-paced like Chicago or New York? Does it have a party vibe like New Orleans or Orlando? Now, I also need to be concerned with the size and structure of the local law enforcement.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m not really on one side of the fence or the other. I like what’s best for the story. If these are guys who have been friends a long time and they’ve become lovers, I can see a more HEA ending. But, if they’ve been thrown into the heat of passion by mad bombers, maybe a HFN is more appropriate. As long as the ending is emotionally satisfying, I’m on board.

What’s next for you as a writer?

To date, I’ve written mostly contemporary novels with an angsty edge, books where the main character is fighting his way through trauma. Currently, I’m working on my first romantic suspense. I’d like to channel that fear and anxiety into a different form of expression. I’ve been researching police procedure which has been fascinating. This weekend I’m going to be attending the Writer’s Police Academy (https://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/classes-available/) in Raleigh, North Carolina where I’ll learn fingerprinting, blood evidence collection, and interrogation techniques. I’ve also been reading Forensic books and working through what suspects and books will take readers from beginning to end. It’s more planning and strategy than I’ve done for books in the past, so I’m taking it slowly. My plan is to have it finished for the Writer’s Digest conference next year in New York.

Thank you for taking the time to hang out with me!

 

A Pocketful of Stardust by JP Barnaby & Rowan Speedwell

Noah Hitchens loves the New York City life he worked hard to build. But when his father dies and leaves him a bankrupt bookstore in their sleepy Georgia hometown, Noah knows he has to save it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know anything about business. He finds unlikely help in Henry, the man who owned Stardust Books before his 1966 murder, and Kyle St. James, a shy but kind-hearted out-of-towner with a past almost as mysterious as Henry’s. Kyle came to Aster, Georgia, looking for redemption. On the run and out of hope, he’s just trying to get on with his life. Then he meets Noah, a ghost, and a big sloppy lab named Jake who redefine his idea of living. But his past is closing in, and when it finds him, they could lose everything.

About the Author

JP Barnaby is an award-winning contemporary romance and romantic suspense novelist with over a dozen novels. Her heart and soul, the Survivor Series, has been heralded by USA Today as one of their favorites. She recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta to appease her Camaro (Jake) who didn’t like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When she’s not working on her latest novel, she binge watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix with her husband and Jack Russell Terror, Chase.

Sign up for her newsletter and try a free story: https://bit.ly/2xSB8kE

Come hang out in her Facebook Group – Between the Covers with JP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2228150134074004/

 

An Alisa Release Day Review: Kneading You by CS Poe

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Christopher Hughes is new to the small New England town of Lancaster, New Hampshire. He’s been hired to save an old library from closing, but his obstacles include not only fighting for state funding, but a Selectman who wants to tear the building down in favor of a shopping center.

Christopher meets Miles Sakasai, a charming tattooed repairman hired to help restore the historical interior. Working in close proximity has both men falling hard for each other, and also provides Christopher an opportunity to learn about Miles’s passion for baking. As it turns out, Miles’s skills in the kitchen may end up being the key to saving the library—but only if his bread can rise to the occasion.

This was a nice sweet short story.  Christopher thinks he has finally found somewhere to belong, he just needs to save the library in order to keep his job.  Oddly enough, it’s the handyman that comes in to help out that saves the day and becomes important to Christopher.

I liked how sweet Max was, he knows who he is but is oddly shy about his bread making.  I was glad he got the courage to enter the cooking competition though he really did it for Christopher.  Their hard work paid off too.  I just wish there would have been a bit more about their relationship but for a short story it was very enjoyable.

The cover art by Brooke Albrecht is great and is a perfect visual for this story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 40 pages

Published: July 19, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64405-249-5

Edition Language: English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Complementary Colors by Adrienne Wilder

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Paris is a successful artist who picks up Roy, a maintenance man, at his gallery showing. He’s trying to get away from his overbearing sister, Julia and the patrons who all want a piece of him. This one night stand doesn’t go like all his others. By the time his other sister Alice is introduced, it’s obvious something is very wrong with not only Paris, but everyone who surrounds him. It’s a story of greed, lust, and betrayal.

First, I would say this book has very dark themes with: angst, violence, drugs, drinking, brutal sex, deaths, PTSD, and past trauma. But those are just words; if you read this book, you will feel all of those words. Second, it is written in the first person POV of a mentally ill person who is in tremendous pain, is self medicating, and has no sense of self worth. Add in the layer of abuse Alice heaps on him as his legal guardian, and the story is quite harrowing. There is a really pivotal scene where I realized Paris can take care of himself…does he let Julia hurt him because of guilt? or is it just fear and habit?

The meaningless sex here is brutal and explicit as Paris exercises some of the only power he has. Then there is the dubious/non consensual sex. As Roy starts to realize the sex means nothing, he tries to date Paris without it. All the meaning comes from Roy’s care giving, but Roy quickly realizes he’s in over his head and Paris needs professional help. Roy is also clever enough to realize he can give Paris a positive sexual outlet for the first time in his life, with someone who loves him. I made a point to mention this because, sex is a major, integral part of this book. I didn’t feel the story lacked anything at all, it’s just important to remember the reader is never given anyone’s POV but Paris’s. Paris’s world is filled with wealthy, bloodthirsty sharks. Paris is drowning from the inside out. Roy may be a flotation device, but Paris still has to hang on, and he is still in the sea.

By the halfway mark, the reader should understand almost all of the demons that drive Paris, but it’s not until the end that the demons driving Julia and Alice are understood. There could be a debate about whether this is a romance or not. While I love Roy, for me, the HEA comes from Paris getting the professional help he needs from a doctor he trusts. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew it was going to be an emotionally devastating read, so I kept putting it off. I can say without a doubt, this will be on my best of the year (and possibly ever read in this genre) list.

The cover design is by Adrienne Wilder with a photo from Dan Skinner. While it does show the colors in Paris’s mind, and the photo shows the darkness, it’s not terribly compelling.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Book Details:

ebook, 320 pages
Published June 20th 2014 by Adrienne Wilder (first published June 19th 2014)
Edition Language English

Z.A. Maxfield on Writing, Childhood Dreams and the new release Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) by Z.A. Maxfield

Dreamspinner Press
Published June 4th 2019
Cover Art; L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Z.A. Maxfield here today to talk about the new novel Three Vlog Night! Welcome, ZAM!

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Hello, and thanks so much for allowing me to be here with you at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. It’s a privilege to share my new book, Three Vlog Night with your readers. I’m really proud of this one.  I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So… Here we are again. I think this is something like the thirty-seventh novel I’ve written! I can’t believe it! When I was a kid, if you’d told me I’d get to do this, I think I would have been even more impatient to grow up than I was. I’ve got my dream job, an awesome family, and a truly blessed life… I feel like I should pinch myself!

Since you were kind enough to provide me with some interview questions, I thought I’d pick the ones I don’t remember answering before. I love the chance to talk about the work, my past, and my process!

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Oh, absolutely. I was in about the seventh grade when I discovered a little thing called “Romance.” My mother was a mystery reader, and my older sister was into Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And there I was, looking longingly at all the books which, in those days, often featured a half-naked woman running away from the ruins of a castle. The first two books I remember checking out over and over, were The Pink Dress, by Anne Alexander, and The Innocent Wayfaring, by Marchette Chute. The Pink Dress was a contemporary, and The Innocent Wayfaring was a medieval historical, I think. I read the covers off those books! They really set me on a course as far as my reading preferences, forever.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Of course! Without an HFN or HEA, no book can be called a “romance”. Every writer in romance has made an unconscious pact with the reader: I’ll take you on an awful journey where you’ll, and cry, and kiss your hard-earned bucks goodbye, but don’t despair! Everything will come out right in the end. Romance writers who think they can let the reader down at the end of a book, beware the coming apocalypse. Or just label it literature, because the romance genre reader believes in you, and once you betray their trust, you will never earn it back. 

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Oddly enough, I think my major influences were not genre fiction writers, but playwrights and screen writers. It was the poignant moments in plays like Harvey and The Children’s Hour, and films like Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally that generated those highly charged emotional moments which made me want to write. Script writers taught me how to leverage conflict, create strong internal and external character arcs, and use the “less is more” concept that makes tight writing work. 

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I love ebooks. The fact that I can carry a couple hundred of my favorite novels in one slim tablet to read on a plane is amazing to me. Also, as I get older, that being able to change the size of the type has value. My arms are definitely not long enough for me to read trade paperbacks without reading glasses, which I always seem to misplace or forget! Ebooks, for all their flaws, like piracy, easily plagiarizable formats, and sheer ease of dreck production, are spilled wine–no one can put them back into the bottle.

What’s next for you as an author?

After a couple of tough years, I now have the opportunity to set a brand new course for myself. I’ll be finishing up The Brothers Grime Series, and starting a series of cozy mystery novellas. I see myself straddling the line between mystery and romance, and writing more of the quirky characters, highly emotional, and sweet stories I’m known for. I see myself slowing down, and finding my stride, without outside influences. Stay tuned! You have no idea what I’ve got in store for you!

 

As for Three Vlog Night, here’s a blurb:

Ajax Fairchild’s online alter ego has caused him trouble before, but never like this. After multiple death threats, his loaded parents decide he needs an enforced digital vacation and the best bodyguard money can buy.

That would be Dmytro Kolisnychenko, former soldier, former hired muscle for the Ukrainian mob—until he lost his happy home life to an enemy with a homemade bomb. Now he wants only two things: to spend every precious second he can with his daughters, and to provide for them by protecting people who can’t protect themselves—even entitled little asshats like Ajax Fairchild.

But Ajax doesn’t fit into the spoiled little rich kid box as neatly as Dmytro would like. Dmytro doesn’t have time for a romantic dalliance, and Ajax is a client, albeit one with unexpected depths. With one coincidence after another driving them to the sleepy seaside town of St. Nacho’s and away from their planned safe house, they grow to trust each other and find that love follows trust. Now they must learn where the threat to Ajax is coming from and neutralize it… before it’s too late for their happily ever after.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Ajax Freedom. Your time on this earth is at an end. Prepare to meet the God you denigrate. Prepare to pay for your sins. Prepare for the coming bloodbath.

Death threats came hourly to Ajax Freedom via his website, but you wouldn’t know it from the slow, deliberate way he dressed. Like a stripper in reverse, he smirked at Dmytro, daring him to react to the bulge in the boxer briefs he wore beneath loose, soft jeans that hung open while he pulled a Henley on over his pale, well-muscled body. While he donned and zipped up a hooded sweatshirt.

Dmytro frowned into his phone. This was 2018. Did Ajax expect him to blush with maidenly modesty? Or offer some threat because despite the Ajax Freedom persona, the man behind the cavalierly bourgeois playboy was gay? The client was apparently dim.

That didn’t stop the shockwave of intense physical attraction Dmytro experienced when he first saw him. Dmytro hid his grimace and said, “It’s 7:57 p.m. Be ready to leave in three minutes.”

“All right.”

“All right,” Dmytro echoed uselessly. If Ajax was waiting for a single sign of disapproval or homophobia or whatever—nope. Ajax had been walking around in a state of undress since they’d finally lured him out of his room, and if Dmytro were going to react, he’d have done it by now. He had years of practice hiding his emotions from the most dangerous men in the world. This pampered boy-man should be no problem. Probably.

The two people Dmytro cared about most texted him bright messages of love and wonder and wished him safe travels, and if he messed up on the job, those two people didn’t eat.

Dmytro had to keep Ajax Freedom alive, so that made Ajax number three on his list of people to care about, if only until the job ended. Freedom could stay naked and swing from the chandeliers, flaunt himself in front of the men who protected him, or make crank calls to the White House for all Dmytro cared, so long as Dmytro got back to his girls intact.

He hid his smirk behind an impassive face to show that the display of pale, freckled skin wasn’t getting Ajax anywhere, even though it was extremely creamy and looked velvety soft. Plus… freckles. A particular kink, but nothing he couldn’t handle.

Ajax fussed noisily in the closet for a few seconds before turning to say, “Well? Are we going?”

Dmytro briefly lifted his gaze. “Has three minutes passed?”

With a huff, Ajax fussed in the closet some more. He muttered, “Suitcase, suitcase, sports bag, garment bag, messenger bag, backpack, laptop bag.”

“Nuh-uh,” Dmytro reminded him. “Laptop stays here.”

Ajax appeared aghast. “I thought you were just saying that to jerk me around.”

“When I jerk you around, it will be unmistakable. Leave the laptop.” Dmytro had cloned Ajax’s phone and pulled the batteries from it, disabled his desktop, and confiscated batteries for his laptop, his fitness tracker—anything that could be traced. They allowed the boy to keep his fancy dive watch but disabled its GPS. The rest of his many devices had been secured or would be stored. They’d checked his bags. “You’re on an enforced digital time-out. Think of it as chance to go old-school and read a physical book.”

Ajax frowned. “When was the last time you read a physical book?”

“None of your beeswax.”

“Fine.” Ajax handed over the bag.

“Please double-check you have everything.” Dmytro scrolled through the drawing his daughter Sasha sent of Mrs. Whatsit. It was wonderful, although he could hardly stand to look at it. She’d made Whatsit’s eyes glisten, and they seemed to follow him, no matter how he held his phone. He didn’t know about art. Something about shading and negative space? She was going to be a real artist someday, sophisticated and subtle.

With a sigh, Dmytro texted that yes, he’d watch A Wrinkle in Time with Sasha and Pen again when he returned, although children’s movies were going to destroy humanity. So much music and magic and mystery. You are more than you believe. Everyone hoped that was true, but no one actually was.

He eyed his client.

There was something intrinsically wrong with a job that took him away from his children to protect someone else’s. He was good at what he did, but his method never deviated. Get in, protect the client long enough to keep him alive while Iphicles neutralized any threats, and get home.

Pen’s drawing showed her love of geometric shapes and primary colors. There was nothing nuanced about Pen. He liked her drawings as much as her sister’s. They both showed promise, to him. With that his after supper three-minute check-in came to a close.

He immersed himself fully in the job when he put his phone away and checked the peephole. Peter stood by the elevators, keeping watch on the hall.

“Time to go.” When Dmytro moved, he moved quickly. He could spring from a twenty-minute power nap into a melee with no ramp-up time at all.

But now Ajax hesitated.

How Dmytro wished people wouldn’t dither. He picked up Ajax’s duffel and looped the shoulder straps over his neck. Next came the messenger bag, and finally the backpack and one of the suitcases. There was no point in arguing about the amount of luggage a client had. One simply found a way to carry it. Sometimes, if one had to, one carried the client as well.

“You take the wheeled Pullman. I’ve got the rest.”

Ajax dropped a hand on the handle as if he didn’t know how to work it. This man—this rather young man—seemed to be incapable of following basic commands.

He’d texted with his sister-in-law earlier. It’s a shame for his parents. There is nothing to do here but squat in the safe house and keep him from doing something stupid until Peter tracks down each of the threats. He has a bag of toys, I think.

Peter? she’d asked, but he was sure she meant it as a joke.

The boy.

Mitya. She could lecture him about anything. You must treat even a stupid client with respect and kindness.

Of course, he’d replied with some asperity. When have you known me to be unkind?

“I’ll take the Pullman too.” Dmytro took its handle. “When we leave the room, stay behind me.”

“Won’t it be easier if they just kill me now so you won’t bore me to death?”

“Don’t say that.” Dmytro concealed his irritation. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Freedom didn’t look reassured. “Who’ll keep you safe?”

“I keep myself safe.” He pocketed his phone and glanced both ways before turning to Ajax. “We’re going to pretend we’re mice. Be quiet as you can.”

“Okay.” Ajax held up a “wait” finger. “Just a sec.”

With a deep sigh, Dmytro closed and locked the door again. “This might be what I meant by do you have everything?”

“I have everything. I just need these too.” At the coat closet, Ajax wrapped a soft-looking scarf around his neck, tugged a slouchy beanie over his hair, and slid on a pair of sunglasses. With his trademark dark curly hair hidden and his face obscured, he didn’t look like the internet It Kid anymore. In spite of himself, Dmytro nodded his satisfaction.

“Better.” He checked his weapon, returned it to his holster, and gripped the door handle. Once he wrenched it open, he checked the hallway again. All clear. He moved with Ajax toward the elevators and Peter. The three got in together.

When the doors closed, he and Peter stepped in front of Ajax, keeping their bodies between him and the lobby. When they opened again, a reassuring nothing happened. Dmytro and Peter swept their client out the revolving door and to the curb, where Bartlomiej waited with the town car.

After suffering a head injury and seizure a few months before, Dmytro bitterly resented being unable to drive. He left the luggage for Peter and settled Ajax into the back seat. Then he got into the front on the passenger side with a huff.

“All right?” Dmytro greeted his colleague.

“All set.” Bartlomiej, whom everyone called Bartosz, sat behind the wheel with the engine running. “Don’t pout. You’ll be driving soon enough. In the meantime, you’ve got me. Enjoy.”

A few more months without a seizure and he could regain privileges. Until then, he did what he was told.

He rolled the window down and called to Peter. “Be well, brother.”

Peter waved before melting into the night.

“He left?” Ajax asked. “Why’d he leave? Where’d he go?”

Dmytro closed his window. “We’re a team. We split up when we need to. Peter’s going to neutralize your admirers, and I will go to the safe house with you.”

“Lucky me.” He didn’t sound like he felt lucky.

“Drive, Bartosz.”

“Bartosz,” Ajax addressed him. “Any chance we could hit a drive-through? I need something to drink. Which, I’ve gotta warn you now, will probably come right back up, because I get really carsick.”

“Perfect.” Could their day get worse? “Do you need to sit up front?”

“It won’t matter, unfortunately.”

“All right.” Bartosz nodded and said in Ukrainian, “He’s like you, my very special snowflake. Did you bring a patch?”

“Not this time.” When Bartosz started to snicker, Dmytro gave him a warning grunt. To Ajax he said, “Your lucky day. I have Meclizine. One tablet and you should be fine.” He handed a blister pack over the console, along with a bottled water. “Make sure to drink all of it. The medication will give you dry mouth.”

Dmytro popped a pill and cracked open a second water. Bartosz’s voice took on a teasing quality. “You’ll both be sound asleep before we get on the highway.”

“You have the directions?”

Bartosz gave him an eye roll. “Don’t worry.”

Dmytro glanced around at Ajax. Bundled up like that, he looked barely older than six-year-old Sasha. About as defenseless too. In his own language, he asked Bartosz, “What do you suppose makes someone want attention so badly they’ll do any repulsive thing to get it?”

Bartholomew shrugged. “He’s a good-looking boy. I could find a use for him.”

Dmytro tensed. “Don’t be that guy.”

“I’m teasing.”

Dmytro hoped so. Bartosz was a professional, after all.

Ajax hissed, “Speak English. You’re being so rude.”

“I told him I’d like a corn dog.” Bartosz glanced in the rearview. “Do you still want a drink?”

Ajax’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, please.”

“I’ll get you a corn dog.” Dmytro cuffed Bartosz for that. “For myself too. Jalapeño cheese peppers and a strawberry lemonade slush. And you’ll pay for all of us, Bartosz.”

“That’s ‘poppers,’” Ajax corrected.

“What is?”

“Jalapeño poppers,” he continued in his didactic tone, “are jalapeños stuffed with either cream cheese or cheddar, dipped in batter, and fried. They’re called ‘poppers.’”

“Thank you for educating me.” Dmytro had never been that certain about anything in his life. At twenty-two, he’d been a homeless thug with two lucky gifts: a mild form of genius with foreign languages and the ability to read very fast. He’d found himself a crime boss with a need for a translator with muscle and a passion for classic literature. The rest was history.

What did Ajax Freedom know about anything? He met Bartosz’s pleased glance before retrieving his phone from his pocket.

Good news, the client is probably not stupid, he texted Liv. He’s just a mudak. An asshole. Liv would understand.

Z.A. Maxfield is getting her kicks writing on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga these days. She lives with her husband, three of her grown children, and dog of indeterminable variety named Dr. Watson. Despite the world we live in, she still believes in first love, second chances, and kissing in the rain.

Join ZAM’s group, ZAM-Nation HERE, or visit her website, like her page on Facebook, or contact her through Twitter.

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Z.A. Maxfield on Writing, Childhood Dreams and the new release Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) by Z.A. Maxfield

Dreamspinner Press
Published June 4th 2019
Cover Art; L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Z.A. Maxfield here today to talk about the new novel Three Vlog Night! Welcome, ZAM!

✒︎

Hello, and thanks so much for allowing me to be here with you at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. It’s a privilege to share my new book, Three Vlog Night with your readers. I’m really proud of this one.  I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So… Here we are again. I think this is something like the thirty-seventh novel I’ve written! I can’t believe it! When I was a kid, if you’d told me I’d get to do this, I think I would have been even more impatient to grow up than I was. I’ve got my dream job, an awesome family, and a truly blessed life… I feel like I should pinch myself!

Since you were kind enough to provide me with some interview questions, I thought I’d pick the ones I don’t remember answering before. I love the chance to talk about the work, my past, and my process!

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Oh, absolutely. I was in about the seventh grade when I discovered a little thing called “Romance.” My mother was a mystery reader, and my older sister was into Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And there I was, looking longingly at all the books which, in those days, often featured a half-naked woman running away from the ruins of a castle. The first two books I remember checking out over and over, were The Pink Dress, by Anne Alexander, and The Innocent Wayfaring, by Marchette Chute. The Pink Dress was a contemporary, and The Innocent Wayfaring was a medieval historical, I think. I read the covers off those books! They really set me on a course as far as my reading preferences, forever.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Of course! Without an HFN or HEA, no book can be called a “romance”. Every writer in romance has made an unconscious pact with the reader: I’ll take you on an awful journey where you’ll, and cry, and kiss your hard-earned bucks goodbye, but don’t despair! Everything will come out right in the end. Romance writers who think they can let the reader down at the end of a book, beware the coming apocalypse. Or just label it literature, because the romance genre reader believes in you, and once you betray their trust, you will never earn it back. 

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Oddly enough, I think my major influences were not genre fiction writers, but playwrights and screen writers. It was the poignant moments in plays like Harvey and The Children’s Hour, and films like Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally that generated those highly charged emotional moments which made me want to write. Script writers taught me how to leverage conflict, create strong internal and external character arcs, and use the “less is more” concept that makes tight writing work. 

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I love ebooks. The fact that I can carry a couple hundred of my favorite novels in one slim tablet to read on a plane is amazing to me. Also, as I get older, that being able to change the size of the type has value. My arms are definitely not long enough for me to read trade paperbacks without reading glasses, which I always seem to misplace or forget! Ebooks, for all their flaws, like piracy, easily plagiarizable formats, and sheer ease of dreck production, are spilled wine–no one can put them back into the bottle.

What’s next for you as an author?

After a couple of tough years, I now have the opportunity to set a brand new course for myself. I’ll be finishing up The Brothers Grime Series, and starting a series of cozy mystery novellas. I see myself straddling the line between mystery and romance, and writing more of the quirky characters, highly emotional, and sweet stories I’m known for. I see myself slowing down, and finding my stride, without outside influences. Stay tuned! You have no idea what I’ve got in store for you!

 

As for Three Vlog Night, here’s a blurb:

Ajax Fairchild’s online alter ego has caused him trouble before, but never like this. After multiple death threats, his loaded parents decide he needs an enforced digital vacation and the best bodyguard money can buy.

That would be Dmytro Kolisnychenko, former soldier, former hired muscle for the Ukrainian mob—until he lost his happy home life to an enemy with a homemade bomb. Now he wants only two things: to spend every precious second he can with his daughters, and to provide for them by protecting people who can’t protect themselves—even entitled little asshats like Ajax Fairchild.

But Ajax doesn’t fit into the spoiled little rich kid box as neatly as Dmytro would like. Dmytro doesn’t have time for a romantic dalliance, and Ajax is a client, albeit one with unexpected depths. With one coincidence after another driving them to the sleepy seaside town of St. Nacho’s and away from their planned safe house, they grow to trust each other and find that love follows trust. Now they must learn where the threat to Ajax is coming from and neutralize it… before it’s too late for their happily ever after.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Ajax Freedom. Your time on this earth is at an end. Prepare to meet the God you denigrate. Prepare to pay for your sins. Prepare for the coming bloodbath.

Death threats came hourly to Ajax Freedom via his website, but you wouldn’t know it from the slow, deliberate way he dressed. Like a stripper in reverse, he smirked at Dmytro, daring him to react to the bulge in the boxer briefs he wore beneath loose, soft jeans that hung open while he pulled a Henley on over his pale, well-muscled body. While he donned and zipped up a hooded sweatshirt.

Dmytro frowned into his phone. This was 2018. Did Ajax expect him to blush with maidenly modesty? Or offer some threat because despite the Ajax Freedom persona, the man behind the cavalierly bourgeois playboy was gay? The client was apparently dim.

That didn’t stop the shockwave of intense physical attraction Dmytro experienced when he first saw him. Dmytro hid his grimace and said, “It’s 7:57 p.m. Be ready to leave in three minutes.”

“All right.”

“All right,” Dmytro echoed uselessly. If Ajax was waiting for a single sign of disapproval or homophobia or whatever—nope. Ajax had been walking around in a state of undress since they’d finally lured him out of his room, and if Dmytro were going to react, he’d have done it by now. He had years of practice hiding his emotions from the most dangerous men in the world. This pampered boy-man should be no problem. Probably.

The two people Dmytro cared about most texted him bright messages of love and wonder and wished him safe travels, and if he messed up on the job, those two people didn’t eat.

Dmytro had to keep Ajax Freedom alive, so that made Ajax number three on his list of people to care about, if only until the job ended. Freedom could stay naked and swing from the chandeliers, flaunt himself in front of the men who protected him, or make crank calls to the White House for all Dmytro cared, so long as Dmytro got back to his girls intact.

He hid his smirk behind an impassive face to show that the display of pale, freckled skin wasn’t getting Ajax anywhere, even though it was extremely creamy and looked velvety soft. Plus… freckles. A particular kink, but nothing he couldn’t handle.

Ajax fussed noisily in the closet for a few seconds before turning to say, “Well? Are we going?”

Dmytro briefly lifted his gaze. “Has three minutes passed?”

With a huff, Ajax fussed in the closet some more. He muttered, “Suitcase, suitcase, sports bag, garment bag, messenger bag, backpack, laptop bag.”

“Nuh-uh,” Dmytro reminded him. “Laptop stays here.”

Ajax appeared aghast. “I thought you were just saying that to jerk me around.”

“When I jerk you around, it will be unmistakable. Leave the laptop.” Dmytro had cloned Ajax’s phone and pulled the batteries from it, disabled his desktop, and confiscated batteries for his laptop, his fitness tracker—anything that could be traced. They allowed the boy to keep his fancy dive watch but disabled its GPS. The rest of his many devices had been secured or would be stored. They’d checked his bags. “You’re on an enforced digital time-out. Think of it as chance to go old-school and read a physical book.”

Ajax frowned. “When was the last time you read a physical book?”

“None of your beeswax.”

“Fine.” Ajax handed over the bag.

“Please double-check you have everything.” Dmytro scrolled through the drawing his daughter Sasha sent of Mrs. Whatsit. It was wonderful, although he could hardly stand to look at it. She’d made Whatsit’s eyes glisten, and they seemed to follow him, no matter how he held his phone. He didn’t know about art. Something about shading and negative space? She was going to be a real artist someday, sophisticated and subtle.

With a sigh, Dmytro texted that yes, he’d watch A Wrinkle in Time with Sasha and Pen again when he returned, although children’s movies were going to destroy humanity. So much music and magic and mystery. You are more than you believe. Everyone hoped that was true, but no one actually was.

He eyed his client.

There was something intrinsically wrong with a job that took him away from his children to protect someone else’s. He was good at what he did, but his method never deviated. Get in, protect the client long enough to keep him alive while Iphicles neutralized any threats, and get home.

Pen’s drawing showed her love of geometric shapes and primary colors. There was nothing nuanced about Pen. He liked her drawings as much as her sister’s. They both showed promise, to him. With that his after supper three-minute check-in came to a close.

He immersed himself fully in the job when he put his phone away and checked the peephole. Peter stood by the elevators, keeping watch on the hall.

“Time to go.” When Dmytro moved, he moved quickly. He could spring from a twenty-minute power nap into a melee with no ramp-up time at all.

But now Ajax hesitated.

How Dmytro wished people wouldn’t dither. He picked up Ajax’s duffel and looped the shoulder straps over his neck. Next came the messenger bag, and finally the backpack and one of the suitcases. There was no point in arguing about the amount of luggage a client had. One simply found a way to carry it. Sometimes, if one had to, one carried the client as well.

“You take the wheeled Pullman. I’ve got the rest.”

Ajax dropped a hand on the handle as if he didn’t know how to work it. This man—this rather young man—seemed to be incapable of following basic commands.

He’d texted with his sister-in-law earlier. It’s a shame for his parents. There is nothing to do here but squat in the safe house and keep him from doing something stupid until Peter tracks down each of the threats. He has a bag of toys, I think.

Peter? she’d asked, but he was sure she meant it as a joke.

The boy.

Mitya. She could lecture him about anything. You must treat even a stupid client with respect and kindness.

Of course, he’d replied with some asperity. When have you known me to be unkind?

“I’ll take the Pullman too.” Dmytro took its handle. “When we leave the room, stay behind me.”

“Won’t it be easier if they just kill me now so you won’t bore me to death?”

“Don’t say that.” Dmytro concealed his irritation. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Freedom didn’t look reassured. “Who’ll keep you safe?”

“I keep myself safe.” He pocketed his phone and glanced both ways before turning to Ajax. “We’re going to pretend we’re mice. Be quiet as you can.”

“Okay.” Ajax held up a “wait” finger. “Just a sec.”

With a deep sigh, Dmytro closed and locked the door again. “This might be what I meant by do you have everything?”

“I have everything. I just need these too.” At the coat closet, Ajax wrapped a soft-looking scarf around his neck, tugged a slouchy beanie over his hair, and slid on a pair of sunglasses. With his trademark dark curly hair hidden and his face obscured, he didn’t look like the internet It Kid anymore. In spite of himself, Dmytro nodded his satisfaction.

“Better.” He checked his weapon, returned it to his holster, and gripped the door handle. Once he wrenched it open, he checked the hallway again. All clear. He moved with Ajax toward the elevators and Peter. The three got in together.

When the doors closed, he and Peter stepped in front of Ajax, keeping their bodies between him and the lobby. When they opened again, a reassuring nothing happened. Dmytro and Peter swept their client out the revolving door and to the curb, where Bartlomiej waited with the town car.

After suffering a head injury and seizure a few months before, Dmytro bitterly resented being unable to drive. He left the luggage for Peter and settled Ajax into the back seat. Then he got into the front on the passenger side with a huff.

“All right?” Dmytro greeted his colleague.

“All set.” Bartlomiej, whom everyone called Bartosz, sat behind the wheel with the engine running. “Don’t pout. You’ll be driving soon enough. In the meantime, you’ve got me. Enjoy.”

A few more months without a seizure and he could regain privileges. Until then, he did what he was told.

He rolled the window down and called to Peter. “Be well, brother.”

Peter waved before melting into the night.

“He left?” Ajax asked. “Why’d he leave? Where’d he go?”

Dmytro closed his window. “We’re a team. We split up when we need to. Peter’s going to neutralize your admirers, and I will go to the safe house with you.”

“Lucky me.” He didn’t sound like he felt lucky.

“Drive, Bartosz.”

“Bartosz,” Ajax addressed him. “Any chance we could hit a drive-through? I need something to drink. Which, I’ve gotta warn you now, will probably come right back up, because I get really carsick.”

“Perfect.” Could their day get worse? “Do you need to sit up front?”

“It won’t matter, unfortunately.”

“All right.” Bartosz nodded and said in Ukrainian, “He’s like you, my very special snowflake. Did you bring a patch?”

“Not this time.” When Bartosz started to snicker, Dmytro gave him a warning grunt. To Ajax he said, “Your lucky day. I have Meclizine. One tablet and you should be fine.” He handed a blister pack over the console, along with a bottled water. “Make sure to drink all of it. The medication will give you dry mouth.”

Dmytro popped a pill and cracked open a second water. Bartosz’s voice took on a teasing quality. “You’ll both be sound asleep before we get on the highway.”

“You have the directions?”

Bartosz gave him an eye roll. “Don’t worry.”

Dmytro glanced around at Ajax. Bundled up like that, he looked barely older than six-year-old Sasha. About as defenseless too. In his own language, he asked Bartosz, “What do you suppose makes someone want attention so badly they’ll do any repulsive thing to get it?”

Bartholomew shrugged. “He’s a good-looking boy. I could find a use for him.”

Dmytro tensed. “Don’t be that guy.”

“I’m teasing.”

Dmytro hoped so. Bartosz was a professional, after all.

Ajax hissed, “Speak English. You’re being so rude.”

“I told him I’d like a corn dog.” Bartosz glanced in the rearview. “Do you still want a drink?”

Ajax’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, please.”

“I’ll get you a corn dog.” Dmytro cuffed Bartosz for that. “For myself too. Jalapeño cheese peppers and a strawberry lemonade slush. And you’ll pay for all of us, Bartosz.”

“That’s ‘poppers,’” Ajax corrected.

“What is?”

“Jalapeño poppers,” he continued in his didactic tone, “are jalapeños stuffed with either cream cheese or cheddar, dipped in batter, and fried. They’re called ‘poppers.’”

“Thank you for educating me.” Dmytro had never been that certain about anything in his life. At twenty-two, he’d been a homeless thug with two lucky gifts: a mild form of genius with foreign languages and the ability to read very fast. He’d found himself a crime boss with a need for a translator with muscle and a passion for classic literature. The rest was history.

What did Ajax Freedom know about anything? He met Bartosz’s pleased glance before retrieving his phone from his pocket.

Good news, the client is probably not stupid, he texted Liv. He’s just a mudak. An asshole. Liv would understand.

Z.A. Maxfield is getting her kicks writing on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga these days. She lives with her husband, three of her grown children, and dog of indeterminable variety named Dr. Watson. Despite the world we live in, she still believes in first love, second chances, and kissing in the rain.

Join ZAM’s group, ZAM-Nation HERE, or visit her website, like her page on Facebook, or contact her through Twitter.

Giveaway.

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A Lila Review Torn by Rick R Reed

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Ever been torn between two lovers? That’s Ricky Comparetto’s problem.

It’s 1995, and Ricky is making his very first trip across the pond with his best friend. Ricky, hungry for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, finds it in the beach city of Brighton. His new love has the curious name of Walt Whitman and is also an American, which only serves to make him sexier and more intriguing. By the time Walt and Ricky part, promises are made for a reunion in Boston.

But the course of true love never runs smooth. In Chicago Ricky almost immediately falls in love again. Tom Green is a sexy blue-collar beast with the kindest heart Ricky has ever run across.

What’s he to do? With a visit to the East Coast on the horizon and a new love blossoming in Ricky’s home of Chicago, Ricky truly is torn.

Torn is more than an MM Romance. It’s a piece of queer fiction, well-written and smart. It’s an interesting read for those looking for something different. Especially since it takes place on the nineties. A time gay men weren’t as free to express their feelings for each other and the hopes of a future relationship were kept under wraps.

It’s easy to see the author’s experiences taking place in this story. As well as many of his contemporaries. It’s easy to understand Ricky and his need for companionship and solitude. A variety of relationships define different stages in his life, and it takes some time to understand who he is and what he needs.

One thing I  don’t enjoy it when characters break the fourth barrier. I’m not a fan of characters talking directly to readers or viewers. It takes away from the connection between the author’s creation and the reader’s imagination. And in the end, it hinted to Ricky’s choice, loudly.

I cheered for Ricky and Walt. Perhaps because their story takes most of the book. I never felt a connection to Tom, no matter how many times Ricky explained how good he was. Overall, I wanted more. More of a relationship, share experiences, and less of a rushed decision.

I wanted to enjoy Ricky’s partnership and the reason he ended up with who he did. In the end, this is a good story. I simply wanted to enjoy Ricky’s love a little longer.

The cover by Reese Dante goes well with the story’s blurb and Ricky’s description. At the same time, it feels too modern for the book.

Sale Links: DreamspinnerAmazon | Nook

Book Details: 
ebook, 202 pages
ISBN: 9781644051771
Published: May 21, 2019, by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Gideon (Finding Home #3) by Lily Morton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Gideon is a snarky, self-centered, self-destructive, talented, closeted, moody mess. And I loved him! Who knew how much I’d come to love him in just a few chapters? Eli is hired to nurse this temperamental mess back to health after a bout with pneumonia that resulted in a collapsed lung. Eli is the complete opposite—a sweetheart from the get-go.

What better way to remove a man from potential hookups, booze and other assorted vices than to put him on a senior citizen’s cruise? When Gideon is released from the hospital, his nurse Eli accompanies him, and with farewell hugs from his brother, Milo, who loves him despite his snarky comments, off they go on an adventure that will only be a peek at something new for Gideon—hope. A sunny disposition, optimistic, professional, and downright cute, Eli refuses to be cowed by Gideon and by the end of the cruise, both men have found much to like about each other.

Sticking to his professional ethics, Eli refuses to act on any attraction and insists on putting time and distance between them before any move can be made. He sets a four-month time out and heads to a new job overseas to assure they have what they need. And the moment that time is up, it’s very apparent neither has changed his mind, and they are drawn together like magnets. From this point until the end of the story, the author uses her talent to paint a vivid picture of romance, family, hugs, and unconditional love that leads Gideon to becoming a self-assured, self-confident, strong, and independent man—one who no longer kowtows to either his homophobic, underhanded manager, or to his potential loss of career by coming out. He heads out of the closet and does it spectacularly.

I love this author’s writing. She’s one of the highlights of the past year of my reading experiences. The characters are well-developed and cleverly find their way into my heart. Even someone as tough as the Gideon we met in Milo’s story and see at the beginning of this book found a permanent shelf in my memory bank. I very highly recommend this book as well as Oz and Milo, the first two in the series, and I’m looking forward to many more adventures with Lily Morton’s characters.

The attention-getting cover by Natasha Snow features a close-up of a handsome dark-haired man—Gideon in all his gorgeous glory.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 280 pages
Published May 12th 2019
ASINB07RJ1LNXT
Edition Language English
Series Finding Home :

Oz

Ten Minute’s Peace

Milo

The Big Four-Oh

Gideon

When Gideon Met Asa 3.5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: A Wish Upon the Stars (Tales From Verania #4) by T.J. Klune and Michael Lesley (Narrator)

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Rating: 5+ stars out of 5

To say TJ Klune is a brilliant storyteller is an understatement. Those who don’t believe need to read the Tales from Verania series. The entire series is a magical epic saga and this last installment, the ending of a story that has wound its magic in and out of my heartstrings was the epitome of amazing.  Now, add to that, the absolutely outstanding audiobook narration from the highly talented Michael Lesley, and there’s not even a stitch of room for improvement.  A superb 18 hours and 27 minutes of entertainment!

Sam of Wilds returns from the Dark Woods to find that Prince Justin and Ryan Foxheart, his beloved cornerstone, are leading a resistance movement along with (the dreaded) Lady Tina and, of course, Gary and Tiggy.  The city of Lockes has fallen and dark wizard Myrin is in control. But not for long—Sam and his dragons are back.

Unfortunately, Sam has to face the consequences of running away from the chaos he left behind.  And though he loves Ryan and can’t wait to see him, Gary and Tiggy come back first—and Gary is fit to be tied—though he does get diverted from his tirade by his one true love—Kevin the charming dragon.

I honestly don’t know which of the million or so character voices Michael Lesley used is my favorite.  Topping the list, though, is Kevin, who not only has a deep-toned Scottish accented voice, but what he says is always sexually explicit and totally inappropriate and, of course, hysterically funny.  Second to that is Darren, the fairy king.  Yes, the entire cast of characters from the series makes an appearance at one point or another in this book, and I loved every moment.  Another plus to listening to this on audio is Michael Lesley’s talent in bringing in other sound effects like turning pages in a book, creaking doors, roaring dragons, and tons more.   

The final chapter and epilogue are well worth the wait to get there.  I hope other readers were as surprised as I was by Myrin’s fate and the return of someone special to Sam’s life.  And speaking of Sam’s life…well, maybe not…no spoilers here.  All I can say is don’t miss a chance to listen to this book, no—entire series—on audio. You won’t be disappointed.  Very highly recommended.

Cover by Paul Richmond is a swirling galaxy of stars shaped like a dragon—the perfect depiction for a perfectly wonderful story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 19 pages
Published November 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 27th 2018)
Original TitleA Wish Upon the Stars
ASINB07KGHZ5XC
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTales From Verania #4