Blog tour for Pursuing Happiness by Jessie Pinkham (Exclusive Post and Excerpt)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Pursuing Happiness

Author: Jessie Pinkham

Publisher: Jessie Pinkham

Cover Artist: Katia V. Michelet

Release Date: July 12, 2018

Genre/s romance, contemporary, gay

Length: 53,000 words   

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jessie Pinkham here today on tour for the new release Pursuing Happiness.  Welcome, Jessie.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Absolutely, I wanted to be a writer from a very young age. Even before I was writing, I was telling myself stories. As an only child, I invented an entire imaginary village to keep me company, and the storytelling has never stopped. It’s such a beautiful feeling when you look at a manuscript to see this tale you’ve brought into existence and added to the world.

I spent sixteen years writing before I was published. Many of those works were fanfiction, which was a great help in learning the craft. I know it gets a bad rap because, like anything, there are some awful examples of it. On the other hand, there are also truly excellent works of fanfiction to be found. Lots of authors have started in fanfiction, whether or not they admit it.

My first novel, Survivors, came out in May 2017, so I’m now in year two and having the time of my life as a published author.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I am delighted to be a part-time author. I feel it gives me less pressure and more creative freedom, where I can write the story I want to tell without worrying about it selling enough to pay the rent. Therefore, I want to continue to create compelling stories, and hopefully find some new readers along the way.

Give the readers a brief summary of your latest book or WIP.

Pursuing Happiness is the story of Matt, who was raised in an extremely conservative religious family. Three years after leaving home on the heels of being outed and disowned, he’s still working to catch up with his peers, not least when it comes to dating. Collin is his first boyfriend, and their relationship is off to a great start, notwithstanding Matt’s insecurities. Then Matt’s younger cousin, who was also kicked out for being gay, becomes Matt’s ward, and all of the old fears Matt thought he was past come rushing back, threatening his happiness and his relationship with Collin.

What genre does it fall in?

This is a contemporary MM romance through and through.

Share a few words about your latest book/WIP, other than the usual blurb.

Mr. Pinkham calls this “the semi-autobiographical book,” and for good reason. This is a really personal story for me, one where I took aspects of my own experiences and magnified them in Matt. I grew up in a conservative Christian household, though not as extreme as Matt’s family. I was also homeschooled for three years, and when I went back to regular school I was completely out of my depth when interacting with my peers because I had barely spent any time with people who weren’t family. It took me years to catch up.

Give us a little insight into your main characters. Who are they?

I’ve read stories where leaving an unhealthy family is the end point. Having personal experience with this, I know it’s not as simple as walking off into the sunset. Matt left his toxic and homophobic family three years before the events of Pursuing Happiness and he’s still dealing with the legacy of his childhood. He’s trying to understand social norms and cues, which makes him very self-conscious, and he is also afraid of being judged for his sexual desires.

Collin comes from a much less remarkable background, so he’s in a place where he’s able to support Matt. He has a tendency to make flippant and sarcastic remarks, which can rub people the wrong way if he’s not careful. For example, here’s one of his lines: “When I was a kid Mom always said I was part dolphin, until I got to be a smartass teenager and asked her what exactly she was hinting at about my paternity.”

Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon? Is this book part of a series?

No, Pursuing Happiness is a standalone book. It was always intended to be, and I’m pleased with where it ends as a self-contained story.

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.

I’m most interested in how characters get from one situation in life to another, so my stories are very process-driven, as opposed to drama-driven with wild conflicts. I want to look at how two very different individuals can come to a place where they are sharing their lives and overcoming challenges together. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I’m aware, but I love the realism of it.

When/where is your favorite time/place to write?

As for place, I’m not fussy. I can write anywhere I have my laptop and it’s reasonably quiet. Time is another matter. I’m a natural night owl, so it follows that I do most of my best writing in the evening. This can be extremely inconvenient the next morning when I’ve gotten an insufficient night’s sleep. I see other authors who extoll the benefits of writing first thing in the morning, but that’s not me. Nothing I write first thing in the morning is liable to be worth reading. 😉

What genre/s do you enjoy reading in your free time?

I read a fair bit of M/M romance, naturally! I have a fondness for sci-fi romance as well as contemporary, and occasionally I read other pairings (M/F, genderqueer, etc.) Outside of romance, I favor sci-fi, with occasional forays into fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction.

Have you held any interesting jobs while you worked on your books?

Well, I don’t know that the job itself is especially fascinating, but I work at a front desk, and they don’t care if I write when there’s nothing requiring my attention. On slow days I can get some words down, but never, ever sex scenes. It’s not even that I’ve been told not to, it’s just impossible to get in the right headspace for writing steamy encounters when I’m in a building full of kids.

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Blurb

A repressive childhood casts long shadows.

Growing up in a reactionary religious household left Matt Aldridge socially inept and woefully underprepared for life in the wider world. He’s still trying to figure himself out when he meets his hunky new neighbor, Collin Moravec. Matt likes him at first sight, and miraculously, Collin feels the same.

When his cousin Levi shows up needing a home, Matt doesn’t hesitate to take him in, even as it throws his own world into disarray. He’s determined to save his younger cousin some of the struggles he faced. But taking on this responsibility brings up old anxieties, and in his terror of failing Levi, Matt pushes Collin away. He has to move beyond his fearful upbringing once and for all, or he’s going to end up miserable – and alone.

Buy Links

Amazon US 

Amazon UK

Excerpt

“Now, about that sexual to-do list. I’m dying to know what’s on it.”

An adorable blush blossomed on Matt’s cheeks. “I think there’s a lot of potential for fun with a can of whipped cream.”

“I’m completely on board with that.”

Finally Matt relaxed. “You’re a very good boyfriend,” he remarked.

Collin figured that meant he’d said the right thing. Good. He took Matt’s hand and laced their fingers together. “So are you, and if I hadn’t already known that my coworkers made sure to tell me yesterday.”

“How did the grant application turn out?”

“Well, it doesn’t scream ‘thrown together at the last minute,’ so it could be a lot worse.”

“I know nothing about grants,” said Matt, “but I have plenty of personal experience in the red parts of the state, where you said you want to do outreach. Maybe this is weird pillow talk, but…”

Collin interrupted. “Our pillow talk can be whatever we want.”

“Okay. Have you considered how much tougher it will be to go out and talk about LGBT acceptance with people in very conservative areas? I mean really thought about the ruling mindset there?”

They certainly weren’t going in blind. Regardless he wanted to hear Matt’s opinion, if for no other reason than to understand his boyfriend a little better. “We expect to be called a lot more nasty slurs.”

“That’s obvious. It’s not just the insults, though. The thing is that a lot of these people – not all, but a definite majority – are not even going to consider what you have to say. The religiously inclined, which again will be a good percentage, will consider it a given that you’ve been deceived by Satan. So there’s no reason for them to even consider what you have to say, see? Anything they don’t like can easily be written off as inspired by Satan. It’s a very neat system if you don’t like thinking too hard. And it makes us very easy scapegoats for anyone, religious or not, who doesn’t like how the world is changing.”

“There are going to be some people who remain homophobic no matter what we say or do,” acknowledged Collin.

“Some might become more tolerant with personal contact, when the LGBT community isn’t something abstract and instead they know someone who isn’t heterosexual. Then there are the people like my family.”

“Bastards. But we know that. What we want to do, at the very least, is give some hope to LGBT people who feel isolated.”

“They certainly need it. Here’s the thing, though. It’s easy to be anonymous in the city. People can go to Ted’s Place without anyone they know having a clue about their visit to an LGBT center. In rural areas it’s not the same. If somebody stops to talk with you or takes pamphlets or whatever you’re doing for outreach, they’ll be recognized and before long half the town will know. The smaller the community, the worse it gets in that regard.” Matt sighed. “I’m not trying to discourage you, I’m just being realistic. I would never have dared talk with anyone doing LGBT outreach. Far too dangerous.”

“That’s depressing. It’s good to know, though. Obviously this has to factor into our plans.” He lacked ideas on how to work around this very serious roadblock. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Collin would share this perspective with his colleagues and go from there. “Any suggestions for us to get around that?”

“I’m afraid I don’t have any brilliant solutions. The internet is good. My family was unusually restrictive in that area, but it probably helps a lot of other kids. Just keep in mind that in some of these conservative areas, you’ll be entering enemy territory.”

“War metaphors?”

“Not a metaphor. They will literally see you as the enemy. Inspired by Satan, remember? It’s spiritual warfare and you’re the advanced guard. That’s how a lot of people will see you.”

“Damn,” said Collin. He imagined an army wearing sparkly rainbow uniforms, armed with lube and condoms, maybe doing something stereotypical like singing show tunes. “Here I thought I just wanted people to live in a way that makes them happy, and now I find out I’m in Satan’s gay army.”

Matt frowned. “I’m serious, Collin.”

Oops. His last comment had clearly been too flippant. “Sorry. I was going for lightening the mood with humor but clearly missed the mark. This is important to know. And honestly, it speaks to how strong you are that you were able to escape that.”

“I’m not sure being kicked out counts as escaping.”

“You could’ve gone to conversion therapy, pretended to be cured, and lived the rest of your life miserable and accepted by your family. You chose the harder option.”

“True,” said Matt. “Totally worth it.”

Collin traced random patterns on his boyfriend’s chest. “I’m glad to hear it. If you didn’t think it was worth it after that blowjob, I’d have done something terribly wrong.”

This time Matt let him lighten the mood. He winked and said, “No worries there.”

“That’s a relief.”

“You know that saying about praise going to your head? They’re talking about the head on top of your neck.”

“How do you know?” countered Collin.

Matt opened his mouth to protest, then paused. A second later he admitted, “That’s actually a good question.”

Score one for being a smartass.

About the Author 

Jessie writes M/M romance and loves a rich fictional universe as much as a good happy ending. Her published works include the novel Survivors and the Tea and Empathy series, and her work has been included in anthologies by Evernight Publishing and JMS Books.

She’s usually writing more than one new book at a time, and frequently rushing out at the last minute because she got lost in her own fictional world.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Goodreads

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into Forever (Leaning Into #7) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The best of one of my favorite series, by far, this one features our favorite queen, the Broadway tunes-singing Geordie, co-owner of Conrad Winery. Geordie appealed to me since we readers first met him, long before this story, but I totally fell head-over-heels in love with him here. And the man the author picked to love him back? Levi Yeager couldn’t be more perfect for him. 

As the blurb states: “Geordie de la Rosa is a legend among wine lovers in Napa Valley. His ultra-fabulous style paired with a penchant for leading impromptu sing-a-longs has made him a star attraction at Conrad Winery.” Four years after the death of his life partner, Mike, the man who originally founded the winery with Wes Conrad, Geordie still spends time in Mike’s secret garden, talking to him and mourning his loss. He can’t contemplate ever moving forward and is content with his life as it is. 

So when Wes asks him to take on a special project—consulting with the new owner of the vacant restaurant not far from the winery—he’s hard-pressed to refuse but isn’t terribly excited, especially when he learns the man is a former pro-baseball player. Ho hum. Even when he meets the gorgeous owner, Levi Yeager, and is surprised by his sudden desire for the man, he hesitates. But over time, Levi shows him a new side of himself and he accepts Geordie exactly as he is—show tunes and all—and it’s been four years since Geordie had that level of acceptance in his life. 

I won’t go into multiple details here but there’s so much about this story to love. There’s humor, much of it centered around Geordie’s OTT excitement about the pink Vespa Levi is driving. Yes, it’s his sister’s vehicle, but the fabulous Geordie grabs the pink helmet and enjoys every moment hanging onto Levi as they get around. There’s also plenty of humor between the men over their taste in music and Geordie’s sense of style, but under it all is Levi’s strong and steady wholehearted acceptance of the importance of Mike in Geordie’s life. 

I appreciated the fact that the author allowed the relationship to develop slowly. Slow burn is one of my favorite themes, as is older men, and Geordie finally admits he’s forty-three to Levi’s thirty-seven. Call me in heaven. I love these two together. Their dynamic was smooth and easy, and even when Levi’s ex came to town and when Geordie struggled with the J word and eventually had to admit he had feelings for Levi, the scenes were beautifully done.  And lest I forget, yes there are sex scenes and they do indeed sizzle, but they are not overdone. I’m coming to a new appreciation for authors who know when to stop and don’t put extra gratuitous sex scenes in a book just to titillate. 

The story is solid and Ms. Hayes had the perfect mix of emotions in this one. Geordie’s final words to Mike were both heartbreaking and heartwarming and had a small touch of humor. Just perfect! There’s definitely a HEA in this story and a chance for another story if Levi’s ex gets an opportunity to settle in the area, but if this is the end of the series, that’s fine. Leaning Into Forever was the best of the best. Very highly recommended. 

The cover by Reese Dante is similar to others in the series in that it features the torso of a man.  In this case, it’s a bare-chested, muscular chest and the background is the Napa Valley.  It’s the perfect depiction of Levi, who opens his restaurant next to Conrad Winery and falls in love with co-owner, Geordie. 

Sales Links:

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

AMAZON AU 

Book Details:

ebook, 225 pages
Published June 29th 2018 by Lane Hayes (first published June 26th 2018)
Original TitleLeaning Into Forever
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into #7

Release Blitz for Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 40,603 words
 
Cover Design: Bree Archer
 
 
Blurb
 

When a Christmas shopping expedition brings Tomy Peralta into Jason Winters’s yarn store, both men feel an immediate and intense spark of attraction, but dance instructor Tomy intends to propose to his boyfriend, Sean, at Christmas. Unfortunately for Tomy, marriage isn’t on career-minded Sean’s agenda. Heartbroken, Tomy throws himself into his work until his mother convinces him that learning to knit might help take his mind off his failed romance.


Jason falls hard for Tomy, but he knows Tomy needs time to heal and to trust in love again. As Jason teaches Tomy to knit, Tomy teaches him to dance in return. Just when it seems Tomy is ready for a new romance, Sean shows up, wanting Tomy back. Will Tomy give his heart to Sean once more, or will Tomy finally see Sean for who he truly is, and choose the man who helped him knit his heart together again?

 
Excerpt
 

Chapter One


TOMY PERALTA opened the door of the yarn shop, feeling a little out of place as the cheerful ringing of the bell announced his presence in this unfamiliar territory. Stitchin’ Time was one of Mama and Lola’s favorite stores, but Tomy had never been here before himself, only heard about it when they gushed and cooed over the hand-dyed yarn they’d bought there.

The shop itself was large, and the rent in the fashionable Lenox Square area of Atlanta must have been enormous, but it had a surprisingly homey feel. Rather than traditional retail metal shelving, whoever had designed the interior had opted for wooden storage units, woven baskets, and what looked like enormous pasta racks dripping with hanks of yarn instead of spaghetti. There were also finished knitted and crocheted pieces displayed on the walls and on hangers at the ends of the shelves. There were the expected sweaters and scarves, of course, but also stuffed animals, knickknacks, and one intricately cabled afghan draped over the sofa where a group of gray-haired women were gathered, chatting and laughing. Several of them looked up when he entered, but he was greeted with friendly smiles rather than surprise.

The sales counter was visible from the door, a large wooden affair with more baskets of yarn and other knitting supplies stacked neatly around it. Behind the counter sat a man, square-jawed, blond, and broad-shouldered, working a set of knitting needles with amazing speed and agility. He, too, glanced up, smiling, and called out to Tomy in a deep, smooth Southern drawl.

“Hey! Welcome! Feel free to look around, and let me know if you need any help.”

Tomy gave the man an appreciative once-over. Sure, he had a boyfriend, and he hoped to be happily engaged after Christmas, but he could still look. Then he glanced around, briefly considering whether he ought to muddle through on his own, but he dismissed that thought. He was way out of his depth here, and he didn’t even know where to begin. Best to ask the professional rather than waste time wandering around utterly clueless.

“Actually, I do need some help,” he admitted, offering a sheepish smile as he approached the counter. “I want to buy something for my mother and sister, and I know they shop here a lot, but….” He looked around again and shrugged. “I have no idea where to start.”

The blond put his knitting aside—Tomy didn’t know what the item on the needles was, only that it was deep forest green—and stood up. He was tall, at least four inches over six feet, and up close, Tomy could see his eyes were a soft blue.

“I know that feeling,” he said. He moved out from behind the counter, walking with a slight but noticeable limp. “Who are your mother and sister? If they’re regulars, I can definitely help you with things I know they’d like.”

“My mother is Ana Lucia Peralta,” Tomy replied, trying to ignore the zing of wayward attraction he felt for the hunky knitter. He’d always been drawn to tall, burly blonds, much to his boyfriend’s dismay. Despite being tall, blond, and hot himself, Sean got jealous easily. He wouldn’t even let Tomy watch any of the superhero movies with Thor or Captain America in them when he was around. “My sister is Lola Barrett.” He picked up the tasseled end of the navy blue scarf he wore, which was an elaborate pattern of cables and bobbles. “Mama made this for me, if that helps. Lola made the hat,” he added, gesturing to the slouchy hat he wore, which had wide abstract colorwork stripes.

Hunky Knitter stepped closer and looked at the hat, smiling slightly, then picked up the end of Tomy’s scarf, running his fingers over the cabling. “Ah, yes. I remember when your mother bought the yarn for this. It was a special order. She wanted a particular shade of blue, and I dyed at least four batches before I managed to get the color she was picturing.”

“You dyed the yarn yourself?” Tomy gazed up at Hunky Knitter, impressed by his crafting skills. “Thanks, I really like the color. She wanted it to go with my coat, and I think it’s a perfect match,” he said, holding out his arms to show the pea coat he was wearing.

“So it is. I’m Jason, by the way.” Jason held out his hand, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled.

“Tomy Peralta,” Tomy said, enunciating his name to make it clear it was pronounced like Tony, not Tommy. “Nice to meet you.” He clasped Jason’s hand, which was warm. Jason’s grip was firm, the touch sending little tingles along Tomy’s arm, and he felt his knees wobble just a little. I have a boyfriend, and we’re very much in love, he reminded himself sternly.

“Nice to meet you too.” Jason released his hand with what Tomy thought might be a tiny bit of reluctance. “Yes, I dyed the yarn. I do custom work for people who want it, and I like to try out the various dyes and yarns just to see what they look like. I prefer not to sell or recommend things to my customers that I haven’t tried myself.”

“Are you the owner?” Tomy asked. He didn’t know many men who were into crafts, much less enough to own a shop devoted to crafting.

“Yes.” Jason’s grin became a little sheepish. “I know I don’t look like the kind of guy who’d own a yarn store, and to be honest, never in a million years did I think this is what I’d be doing, but I love it. I majored in marketing at Vanderbilt, but I was a football player. After graduation, I played in the NFL, but in my second season with the Falcons, I blew out my knee.” He slapped his right leg. “Had to get an artificial replacement, so it was goodbye, NFL. I started knitting during my rehab, and one thing led to another and… here I am.”

Tomy didn’t hear any trace of self-pity in Jason’s voice, only a matter-of-factness that implied he’d had to explain his situation before. Tomy imagined an ex-football player turned yarn shop owner got a lot of questions about his life choices.

“Who taught you to knit?” he asked, voicing the first question that popped into his head. Of all the therapeutic exercises in existence, he wondered how knitting ended up being Jason’s choice. “I know it has a lot of therapeutic value, but not for knees.”

Jason laughed. “It was mental therapy, mostly. Moving hurt, but sitting almost hurt more. My mother got tired of me always moving restlessly whenever I was in a room, so she taught me how to knit as a form of distraction. If I had something in my hands to occupy me, I tended not to dwell on the pain in my knee as much.”

“That makes sense.” Tomy nodded, and then he noticed the ladies on the sofa were watching them with avid interest. He knew matchmakers when he saw them, and he cleared his throat and took a step back so they wouldn’t get the wrong idea. “Anyway, presents? I’m open to suggestions. I have no idea what they might want or need, but I want to get them something they’ll really like this year, not just a gift card.”

“Of course.” Jason nodded, suddenly all business. “I know there’s a set of knitting needles your sister has had her eye on for a while. They’re rosewood. Your mother has indicated she’d like to knit an afghan for her sofa, and so perhaps a pattern and the yarn for it? I recently dyed a batch of a bulky superwash wool in tonal greens I think she’d like. That might run a little more than you’d like to spend, though.”

“Sounds perfect!” Tomy smiled widely, pleased with the suggestions. “Do you know which pattern she’s interested in, or is there a pattern book she might like? I don’t care how much it costs.” He gave a sheepish shrug. “I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging or anything. It’s just that I want this to be a special Christmas. I’m planning to propose to my boyfriend, and I want everyone to be as happy as I am. I guess that sounds silly, but joy to the world, right?”

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.


Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.


McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

 

When a Christmas shopping expedition brings Tomy Peralta into Jason Winters’ yarn store, both men feel an immediate and intense spark of attraction, but dance instructor Tomy intends to propose to his boyfriend Sean at Christmas. Unfortunately for Tomy, marriage isn’t on career-minded Sean’s agenda. Heartbroken, Tomy throws himself into his work until his mother convinces him that learning to knit might help take his mind off his failed romance.

Jason falls hard for Tomy, but he knows Tomy needs time to heal and to trust in love again. As Jason teaches Tomy how to knit, Tomy teaches him how to dance in return to prepare for his sister’s wedding. Just when it seems Tomy is ready for a new romance, Sean shows up, wanting Tomy back. Has Jason helped Tomy knit his heart together again, only for Tomy to give it to Sean once more, or will Tomy finally see Sean for what he truly is?

It’s rare that the authors known as Ari McKay make a misstep, let alone two (or more) in my opinion.  Normally, they can do no wrong.  In fact, that’s one of the major reasons I was so excited to read this story.  Ok, I’m always happy to pick up any McKay tale but I’m a knitter so I was intrigued to see how they would fold such a tactile and favored element into this story.

Honestly?  Disappointed in how underused the craft of knitting is here, from Tomy learning to knit (which is supposedly a huge deal), to Jason who dyes his own yarn, detail after sensuous, vivid yarn/knit related detail is left out of the romance and therefore out of the story.  We are told Jason teaches Tomy to knit, we hear briefly about the yard shop and that he dyes yarn?  But the particulars that actually bring all that alive?  Totally missing in action.  And I have read several stories from other authors that use knitting as a framework that make you want to jump into the nearest bags filled with skeins and make you want to start madly knit away at your own projects. Or go off and start fondling some yarn.  Not here, which  is a problem with a story that has a titled called  Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together.   Someone’s heart was not into the knitting part at allAnd that sort of includes the character of Jason He’s nice but something is  missing…

Then there’s the element of dance. Tomy and his family have always  owned a dance studio and competed professionally. Truly this book should have been called Waltzing your Broken Heart Back Together. Because its in the descriptions of dance, dancing together, the feeling of “floating” and being a partner in a sensual  embrace on the studio floor where this story comes soars. In short, the descriptions of dancing have everything that knitting lack. You can tell, that one of the author’s interest was vested here in dance, not knitting.  The part’s of the story in the dance studio?  They sang!  The main characters exhibited a connectivity that didn’t happen earlier in the story (certainly not when talking about knitting) and it’s dancing that brings them together.

Anyway, it take them a while to start dancing cheek to cheek, to its a slow burn sort of romance as Tomy gets over his disastrous love affair and finds himself ready to love again…with his partner on the dance floor.  It is a sweet romance with cute relatives (Tomy’s) and relatively angst free story.

As I said, the only thing that just bugs me is the total fail with the knitting from the cover, title and the blurb.  Change it over to dancing and you have a winner.  Honestly.  did someone not read this story?  It’s all about the dancing. smh.

 

Cover art: Bree Archer.  Lovely cover.  Would work great for a book actually more about knitting.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2nd edition, 125 pages
Expected publication: July 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published December 16th 2014)
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A Lucy Review: Nobody Else’s by Nell Iris

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Beckett’s best friend, Matt, comes from a big family.  As in, a really big one with eleven children.  Matt is the oldest and his younger brother, Levi, is three years his junior.  Levi is also the focus of Beckett’s crush. “I’d had a crush on him for years, but he was Matt’s little brother, and besides…what would he see in someone like me?”  Beckett is a bit of a bear, hairy with a chubby belly.  When he sees Levi, he “…pulled in my stomach and sat a little straighter.  Not that it helped.  My belly couldn’t be hidden.” 

In a family of loud people, Levi is the exception.  While everyone else is yelling over each other to be heard, he is quiet.  He is a tech wizard, nearly dropping out of high school to open his business (though parents put the stop to that).  His business is very successful and he lives in an apartment over the garage at his parent’s, helping out financially and with the siblings, particularly the Hell Sisters, twins age 5. 

The story is told in back and forth first person point of view from both Levi and Beckett.  This is something I always appreciate as I like to know the why of what each person does, says and how they react.  It begins with Matt and Beckett meeting for a meal and Beckett is surprised by the arrival of Levi.  I was a little surprised at Matt’s behavior – when Beckett reads a horoscope (which is racy, gay and funny) from a website, Matt is shocked.  “It’s a site for gay people.”  Because Beckett is bisexual and his last partner was female, Matt thought, well now he’s straight.  Which is sad considering Levi is gay, but they call him out on it.

I loved reading the horoscopes, one for each chapter.  First it was surprising and then they were funny.  You can see where it’s going early but that didn’t detract from them at all. That’s the kind of horoscope I would read!

The story is sweet with very little angst, if any.  Beckett is a serious Harry Potter fan, which I enjoyed, being one myself.  Beckett is an accountant and offers to help Levi with his business accounting and that’s how the courtship begins.

“Levi: Why would you offer something that valuable to me?

Beckett: Because you always help everyone else. It’s time someone has your back.” 

Like I said, sweet.  There is quite often mentioning of how each thinks the other is so cute and so kind.   I liked that when Levi talks to Matt about asking Beckett out, Matt gives the “don’t hurt my friend” speech to Levi, rather than to Beckett about Levi.  Their first date is an amazing one and shows how much Levi understands Beckett.

The book is very relationship focused, with little outside plot. We get insights into both Levi’s and Beckett’s families.  I liked this book but be warned that at times it is very sugary.

Cover art, depicting both Levi and Beckett, was pretty close to what I imagined they would look like.

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 30th 2018 by JMS Books, LLC
ISBN139781634866712
Edition LanguageEnglish

New Book Release Blitz for Badlands by Morgan Brice

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Badlands

Author:  Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Natania Barron

Publisher: Darkwind Press

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Genre/s: urban fantasy, MM paranormal romance

Add on Goodreads 

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Blurb

Simon Kincaide owns a boardwalk shop in Myrtle Beach where he runs ghost tours & does seances and private psychic readings, a fresh start after his abilities cost him his lover and his job as a folklore professor. Jaded cop Vic D’Amato saw something supernatural he couldn’t explain during a shootout several years ago in Pittsburgh and relocated to Myrtle Beach to leave the past behind, still skeptical about the paranormal.  But when the search for a serial killer hits a dead end, Vic battles his skepticism to ask Simon for help. As the body count rises, Simon’s involvement makes him a target, and a suspect. But Simon can’t say no, even if it costs him his life and heart.

About the Author 

 Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions

Morgan Brice will be a Supporting Author at Gay Romantic Lit convention and a Hosting Author at RomCon in October.

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Facebook Group -The Worlds of Morgan Brice 

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Pinterest: See the Morgan Brice board 

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A Lucy Review: A Dance For Two by Colette Davison

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Rating:  2 stars out of 5

This is the story of Adam and Luc, stepbrothers who have been raised together since they were very small. Best friends and confidants until the age of fourteen, when Luc suddenly turns on his stepbrother and is a monstrous bully, in and out of school. It makes your heart hurt for Adam. Adam works as a teacher at his parent’s dance academy and Luc has fled the hometown for college and a job in marketing, never visiting his parents or his stepbrother. Now though, he gets a call from his mother because the dance academy is in dire financial straits and the parent’s have remortgaged their house to help it out. Mom is desperate for Luc to come home and help them get things back under control. Luc’s pretty selfish, but he does what he is asked, knowing that he will have to face Adam. The best friend and stepbrother who’s life he made hell (even going so far as to be in on the bullying about Adam dancing) is going to be there and Luc has to suck it up.

The story is told in back and forth third person point of view of Luc and Adam. I appreciated that, since it gave some insight into what both of them were thinking and dealing with. When the phone call comes in from workaholic Luc’s mother, he doesn’t’ react well. “Pretty much every conversation they’d had recently had ended up in them both apologizing.” I was sort of annoyed by that because how hard would it be for Luc’s mom to only know her son has abandoned the family and can’t be bothered to even call. To make matters more awkward, Mom has called Luc without telling his stepfather or stepbrother.

I was sad that Adam doesn’t even know how bad things are for the dance school, because no one told him. They just spring Luc on him along with the bad news of the school failing. I don’t think the parents know the full extent of how awful Luc was to Adam, because they keep pushing them together and even warn Adam, “Be nice, I don’t want any animosity between you two.” I wanted more support for Adam because he gave up his dream of professional dancing to help with the school, even more so now because they had to let the other teachers go, while Luc gave up absolutely nothing.

This is a second chance story, so I was very ready for some big time groveling, some explanations and to be shown that Luc has changed his ways and is a better man than he was. That didn’t happen. I may be in the minority about this but Luc really brought down this story for me. I completely understand how having feelings for your stepbrother would knock you for a loop and maybe even understand how you’d bully him to cover that up. Now he’s back and there is literally one mumbled apology and Adam is supposed to just be over it. “Did Adam still hate him for all the stupid things

he’d said and done? There was only one way to find out.” Luc is still a coward and Adam is still hurt. “It brought back memories of crying where no one could see him, because he didn’t understand why his brother-his best friend-had humiliated him at school again.”

It was very difficult to believe Luc. “Communication had never been his strong point.” Umm, you are a marketing genius and communication isn’t your strong point? And Adam points out that Luc broke his mother’s heart when Luc moved far away and then didn’t bother to visit, Adam knowing that Luc will be the miracle worker to save the school and then leave again, with Dad and Adam left to pick up the broken heart of mom, Luc is surprised. What? “He’d known Adam was angry with him, but he hadn’t realized just how bitter his brother was.” Well, you wouldn’t, since you cut off your family unless mom and dad came occasionally to visit.

Adam and Luc are forced to work on ideas to turn the dance school around and it’s so hard for Adam. Luc not only found friends who were bullies. “They tormented Adam because he danced and Luc not only let them, but he’d jeered along with them.” Imagine a hell where you are constantly bullied and you can’t ever get away from it because it’s your own family doing it. With mom and dad oblivious to it all, I am only glad Adam had Mason, his now best friend, to keep him sane.

When Adam extends an olive branch and invites Luc out to a club, Luc is hurt when Adam hooks up and again, acts like the injured one. “I guess you only asked me out tonight to score Brownie points with Mum and Dad. That’s low, Adam, really f**king low.” WHAT? Even then, the one to apologize here is Adam, for leaving Luc at the bar, even though Adam took care of Luc when he came home drunk.

I kept trying to give Luc a chance but throughout the book he acts badly. “This has gone on long enough. How many times do I have to apologize to you?” Except Luc had only done that one mumbled “I’m sorry” and never explained anything. When Adam asks, then demands to know why, “What did I do wrong to make you hate me so much?” Luc is astonished. Why wouldn’t Adam feel that way? Luc treated Adam horribly with no explanation and then disappeared. For years.

These two have been raised since age 5 and 6 as brothers, which is why Luc feels his love towards Adam will not be accepted. He has had years to deal with this. When he finally lays the truth on Adam, Adam is horrified, as you would expect. However, it seems that Adam starts to see things differently after just a dream and a few days and we don’t get the reason why Adam suddenly switches gears. He turns into somewhat of a doormat, always the one apologizing, the one who gives up dreams. It was just sad.

I think what bothered me the most about this was the fact that while I have no issue with the stepbrothers falling in love – they are not blood related and I can see where your best friend would be the one you fall in love with –but that the author continually has them refer to each other as brother and stepbrother. If you are trying to convince people that your relationship is legit, not incestuous, why do you continually do that? And I mean it happens all the way to the end of the book. “…brush his hand over his stepbrother’s thigh”, …he knew his brother wouldn’t accept his touch right now”, “I’m going to suck my brother’s c**k”, etc. My lover, my partner, my boyfriend sure but my brother? No.

There is, of course, fallout all over from this. I was so happy again that Adam has Mason to lean on (and oh why couldn’t Adam be with Mason forever!). I was so disappointed that I didn’t love this because it had such potential, but the whole thing just gave me a negative feel. Luc is selfish and impatient and never did grovel or make the grand gesture. I struggled to finish, thinking he would redeem himself but in my eyes, he never did.

This is my first book by this author and I liked her writing style, even though I didn’t love this book. I would try another book of hers and see if it worked better for me.

The cover art by Colette Davison is pretty, though I do wish the dance aspect had been incorporated into it. We have a white background with two torsos, one behind the other, and that could easily have been a dance.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook
Published (first published June 26th 2018)
Edition LanguageEnglish

RELEASE DAY BLITZ for Love Me Louder by Christina Lee (excerpt)

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Love Me Louder RDB Banner

LOVE ME LOUDER

CHRISTINA LEE

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 06.29.18

 Love Me Louder Cover 

COVER DESIGN: X-Potion Designs

PHOTOGRAPHER: Eric David Battershell

COVER MODEL: Ryan Harmon

 

SYNOPSIS

Noah Dixon is damaged goods. After an accident leaves him physically scarred and emotionally vulnerable, dating isn’t in the cards, so he throws himself head-first into his retail job. When he’s obligated to attend his best friend’s engagement party on Fire Island, it dawns on him he’s about to spend yet another weekend feeling totally invisible and alone among a swarm of gorgeous men.

That’s when the idea of an escort comes in.

After Will Crossen was forced to put his theater major on hold in favor of two jobs to tackle his ailing mother’s hospital bills, he tells himself becoming an escort isn’t that big of a deal. It’s just another form of acting, right? He doesn’t expect his newest customer to be the cheery, overconfident sales associate he avoids like the plague at his day job. Talk about awkward.

But what happens on Fire Island stays on Fire Island…especially when a smoldering attraction sparks into flames. Will doesn’t feel so alone anymore, and for the first time, Noah realizes someone is seeing him behind all the scars. But between their jobs, Will’s massive familial responsibilities, and Noah’s vulnerabilities, they don’t stand a chance unless they find a way to let love speak louder than their demons.

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EXCERPT

Will’s thumb pressed against his bottom lip, making his mouth prickle from the contact. “You could at least pretend you’re into me.”

If only Will knew that Noah was totally into him and fighting his body all the way.

Noah’s tongue slipped out, and he licked the pad of Will’s thumb. He heard the all too authentic groan in the back of Will’s throat, and Noah’s cock stirred to life. Holy shit.

“That’s hot,” Will whispered as he watched Noah’s tongue flick against his skin again.

Encouraged, Noah hollowed his cheeks and sucked Will’s thumb into his mouth. He increased pressure as he circled with his tongue before releasing it with a pop.

He arched an eyebrow. “How was that?”

“Nicely done.” Will’s gaze was hungry, and Noah liked that he could surprise him. “Had you kept going, I would be hard as a fucking stone.”

Damn. Will was so incredibly sexy.

Noah bit his lip and batted his eyelashes. He could play along too.

Will tore his gaze away from his eyes, and as it slid down to his mouth, for a split second Noah thought Will might kiss him. His pulse spiked as he admitted to himself that he would want that. So fucking much.

Noah cleared his throat. “Anybody watching us?”

Will glanced around the party. “Definitely.”

He grinned. “Good.”

Christina Lee Logo

Once upon a time, Christina Lee lived in New York City and was a wardrobe stylist. She spent her days getting in cabs, shopping for photo shoots, eating amazing food, and drinking coffee at her favorite hangouts.

Now she lives in the Midwest with her husband and son—her two favorite guys. She’s been a clinical social worker and a special education teacher. But it wasn’t until she wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper that she realized she could turn the fairy tales inside her head into the reality of writing fiction.

She’s addicted to lip balm, coffee, and kissing. Because everything is better with kissing.

She writes MM Contemporary as well as Adult and New Adult Romance. She believes in happily-ever-afters for all, so reading and writing romance for everybody under the rainbow helps quench her soul.

 WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

THE SWOON ROOM (FAN GROUP)

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NEWSLETTER

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New Book Release Tour for Love’s Magic Love’s Magic (Revolutionary Heart #) by Janice Jarrell (excerpt and giveaway)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title:  Love’s Magic (Revolutionary Heart Series #)

Author: Janice Jarrell

Publisher:  Self-Published

Genre/s:  Contemporary gay romance

Length: 82 406 words/196 pages

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Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Blurb

Professor Nate Reese rushes to protect a female student and is severely injured at the hands of her assailant. Traumatized by the attack, Nate sets his feet on a no-holds-barred path of activism designed to force university officials into addressing the issue of on-campus assault. At the same time, terrified of losing his hard-won status at the university, his partner, David Gardener, a veteran of 12 years as a very popular Professor, is reluctant to support Nate’s militant efforts. Seemingly abandoned by his partner, Nate sees David’s aversion to his activism as indifference to the trauma he suffered. Day by day they watch as their relationship disintegrates, while still struggling to resolve the disruptive issues engulfing the school they love.

In the meantime, Irishman Colin Campbell, handsome and charismatic Sergeant for the campus police force, fights his own on-going war against campus assault. But behind his obsessive desire to gain justice for victims lies a devastating secret which could forever destroy his fiercely independent facade and expose his deepest fear. Ultimately, it is Colin’s powerful connection to a steady, dark-eyed Title IX consultant which threatens to tear down his defenses and shatter the barriers protecting his heart.

Cocky and irresistible, the dynamic police officer was everything Joshua Abrams had ever longed for in a man, but Colin simply didn’t ‘do’ relationships. Unless Joshua would settle for a one-night stand, or a very short-term liaison, there was no room for him in Colin’s life. Yet even knowing this, he couldn’t keep himself from falling hopelessly in love with his ‘magic man’. Despite the passion between them, he knew his quiet, reclusive nature could never hope to entice the vibrant, freedom-loving Irishman, so eventually he begins to back slowly away.

Eventually, a disagreement over an oddly disturbing case causes Colin’s hot Irish temper to erupt and their relationship is irrevocably shattered. Heartbroken, and convinced that Colin is gone forever, Joshua flees Charlottesville without a word, leaving Colin adrift and inconsolable.

But Joshua Abrams hadn’t merely stepped over the indelible line Colin had drawn between his heart and the dangers of real love, he had burned through it like hot lava. Finally forced to acknowledge his love for Joshua and his desperate need to have the quiet, Jewish man by his side, Colin must now face the dark and long-suppressed memories which are irrevocably linked to his love for the handsome consultant. Without even a forwarding address to guide him, he vows to find Joshua and bring him home. Colin’s struggle to conquer his pride and fear in order to find the love of his life and achieve their happily ever after will touch your heart.

Four lives in turmoil fighting for the relationships they cherish, and at the heart of the struggle, a great university struggles to survive its most harrowing challenge.

Excerpt

Colin nodded, shaking his head as if trying to clear it. His fists loosened and he relaxed against Joshua’s body soaking in the solid strength of his presence. “That day I blew up at you,” he began after a moment. He lifted his head and met Joshua’s eyes. “Jesus, Josh, I thought I was losing my mind! I totally lost it.”

“Don’t,” Joshua said. “Don’t. I understand now, Colin. Don’t. You don’t have to do this in one conversation. The O’Malley girl…,”

“ls a dead ringer for my sister, Kathleen,” Colin finished, then shook his head again. “Hell, even my mother saw it.” His head fell forward and he once again rested his forehead against Joshua’s shoulder.

“There’s a lot more,” he said, his voice still shaky. “A shit-load of stuff I should probably be telling a shrink… how I couldn’t cry at her funeral or ever since then, how I got revenge against the bastard who raped her by catching guys who’d done the same to other girls…,” he exhaled a sigh that seemed to come from the soles of his feet then glanced up at Joshua again. “And on and on and on…” He shuddered.

Joshua laughed softly. “You may not realize it,” he murmured, “but you are telling this stuff to a shrink.”

Colin exhaled a quiet laugh then released Joshua and leaned back. He scrubbed both hands through his hair and gazed quietly toward the lake. “I came here to explain what happened the day we quarreled and why it happened. But that’s not the most important reason I’m here.” He met Joshua’s eyes. “I came here to ask you to forgive me and come back to Virginia with me.”

Joshua met his gaze. “It had to have been hard,” he said softly. “Coming here like this. Telling me all this. Took a lot of courage.”

Colin snorted a cynical laugh. “Courage,” he said scornfully. “I’ve been lurking in my apartment like a coward for months.”

“How many people have heard the story you just told me?” Joshua asked.

“No one.”

“Then shut-up. When I say it took courage I know what the fuck I’m talking about. Don’t ever call yourself a coward again.”

Colin glanced at him and smiled.

“This is what I do for a living, remember?”

Colin nodded. “Point taken. Now tell me you’re coming back to Virginia with me.”

Joshua sighed, his full lips pressed into a thin line. “Colin…” he frowning as if in pain. “Jesus, Colin.”

“You don’t believe in him,” Colin observed with a half-smile.”

Joshua shot him a look. “Fact is, we do, but that’s not the point. Colin, I’ve got a job. I’ve made peace with my family… actually grown close to them. I’ve started to feel happy here. I don’t know if I…”

“When does the job start?”

“Next week,” Joshua told him.

“Screw the job. Tell them you changed your mind. You have to come back with me.”

Joshua stared at him, his mouth half-open. “Colin, wait. Wait. Just let me…” He leaned back, shaking his head. “This is all happening too fast.”

“No, it’s not. It didn’t happen nearly fast enough!”

“Colin, you can’t be sure. You can’t mean…,”

“I do mean it, Josh! And I AM sure!”

“So I can come back to Virginia and be your fuck buddy?” Joshua asked then shook his head and pulled away, his hands dropping to his sides. “We’ve talked about this. I can’t do it, Colin. Not with you. I just ca-“

“No!” Colin interrupted. He re-captured Joshua’s hands in his. “No, Josh! That’s not what I want!” He stared down at their joined hands for a count of three, as if gathering courage then inhaled deeply and spoke: “There are no fuck buddies. When you left Virginia any desire other men went with you. I just want you, Josh. Only you. No one else. Just you.” He shook his head and looked at Joshua, quirking his brow comically.

“Well, that’s a pretty stunning admission for Charlottesville’s champion stud-muffin.”

Colin huffed a quick ironic laugh.

Joshua pulled his hands from Colin’s grip and captured the handsome Irish face between his palms. “Listen to me,” he said, staring into Colin’s eyes. “You’ve never wanted an exclusive relationship. Not with me. Not with anyone. Why is it different now?” His hands dropped to his sides. “Why?”

Colin sighed again and gave Joshua a rueful smile. “Hang on a second, OK?” After a moment he drew in another deep breath and recaptured Joshua’s hands in his own. “I -” he began, then glanced up at Joshua and swallowed hard. “It’s different now because I love you, Josh.” His eyes widened. “Holy crap.”

They both gave a short burst of laughter at the surprise in Colin’s voice, then sat in silence, hands clasped while the lowering sun cast evening shadows over their shelter amid the driftwood. Finally, Colin lifted Joshua’s hand to his lips and kissed it.

“That’s about it, buddy. That’s my full confession. I’m sure there’s stuff I’ve left out, but if you come home with me I’ll hire you as my full time shrink and you can get the rest of it out of me a little at a time.” He collapsed forward into Joshua’s arms and moaned. “Oh, Christ, Josh, I’m so fucking tired.”

Joshua stroked his back nuzzling against his hair. “I don’t doubt it.”

“Is this what you call a breakthrough?” Colin asked, his voice muffled against Joshua’s down jacket.

“More like a break down,” Joshua replied, smiling, his hand still moving in slow circles on Colin’s back.

Colin lifted his head and looked into Joshua’s dark eyes. “Tell me you’ll come home with me,” he said. “Please.” He lifted his hand and twirled one of Joshua’s curls slowly, sensuously, around his index finger. “Please,” he repeated in a hoarse whisper. “I need you, Josh. Nothing’s right in my life without you.”

He felt Joshua’s presence in that moment as a still pool, a quiet and serene place of healing and love beyond any condition or expectation. And the truth of his words echoed through every fiber of his being. “Josh,” he whispered, “I love you. Please come home.”

About the Author

My name is Jan Jarrell. I am a 76-year-old retired grandmother who lives in Seattle, WA. I have been a writer of slash fan fiction for almost twenty years under the name Rakshi. I have written both RPS fiction and FPS and my list of works stands at three hundred and thirty-seven, including stories as short as drabbles (stories of 100 words) and a series which was 119,012 words long. You can find my works on Archive of our Own and on LiveJournal under the username Rakshi.

I began writing original character fiction about a year ago and I love it more than words can say. This creative outlet has made my retirement years the best ones of my life. I tend to fall in love with my characters and always want to give them the happy ever after that I just know they deserve. 

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A Free Dreamer Review: Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A double-agent sacrifices all his ideals in order to save his smuggler lover before a government coup takes over their decadent city in Lara Elena Donnelly’s glam spy thriller debut, now a Nebula finalist for Best Novel!

Introducing…

The Smuggler: By day, Aristide Makricosta is the emcee for Amberlough City’s top nightclub. By night, he moves drugs and refugees under the noses of crooked cops.

The Spy: Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, but after a disastrous mission abroad, he makes a dangerous choice to protect himself…and hopefully Aristide too.

The Dancer: Streetwise Cordelia Lehane, burlesque performer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted.

As the twinkling marquees lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.

Review: First of all, I think we need to talk about expectations. When I read the blurb, looked at the publisher and what people shelved ”Amberlough” under, I’d expected 1920s America with magic and romance. What I got was an espionage thriller AU of 1930s Europe, before the Nazis came into power. And a little bit of romance. Had I known what kind of setting to expect, I wouldn’t have read this book. So I’m glad I got the wrong impression because “Amberlough” is utterly amazing and brilliant and one of the best books I’ve read in 2018 so far. It would have been such a shame to miss it.

I was actually quite surprised to see a review request from Tor pop up in my inbox. They’re on of my favourite publishers out there (Brandon Sanderson!!!!) and I had high, if false, expectations. I just didn’t know they had LGBT protagonists in their books too.

I absolutely loved the setting. The nightclub ambience was fascinating and the world building was brilliant. It was so easy to just get sucked into this glamorous world full of intrigues and backstabbing. There are so many little details that make the whole world feel alive and real, without lengthy info dumps. A brilliant example of how to do world building.

I won’t say too much on the plot itself, as it lives from the suspense and surprises. This is not a romance novel. It’s probably more gay literature than gay romance, even if the relationship between Cyril and Ari is essential to the plot. It’s heartbreakingly romantic. But really, this is a thriller that happens to have a gay couple in it. The plot might make you believe there’s going to be a MMF relationship but there isn’t. We have a homosexual relationship and a heterosexual one.

I usually don’t read thrillers because I’ve always felt the characters stay kind of shallow. It’s just not my genre. But here, the character development was excellent. We have three main characters: Aristide, the glamorous male stripper with a bit of an illegal side business; Cyril, the spy who can’t keep his hands off Ari, even though they’re very different; and then there’s Cordelia, also a stripper, who’s worked her way up the hard way. I loved all three of them and how they played together. Each had their own distinct voice and it’s always obvious who’s POV you’re currently reading.

Honestly, I don’t really have the words to do this book justice. I loved every single second of it and it drove me mad that I couldn’t immediately start book two. Because there’s one hell of a mean cliffhanger at the end. Yet another thing I usually can’t stand. But I guess Lara Elena Donnelly just has a way of making me love things I usually hate. The suspense nearly killed me. Definitely not recommended for people with a weak heart.

Long story short, read this book. You’ll love it. Just don’t expect a fairy-tale romance full of hearts and flowers. This is not a happy fluffy love story and I’m still unsure if we’ll ever get a happy ending. “Amberlough” is gay literature at its finest. Oh, and you might want to make sure you already have book two waiting for you.

Cover: Oh my gosh, that cover. It’s so gorgeous in it’s simplicity. I love, love, love it. Makes me sad I only have this book on my reader and not on my physical shelf.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details: Kindle Edition, 398 pages

Published April 2018 by Tor Books (first published February 7th 2017)

ASIN: B01F20E73S