A Free Dreamer Review: Shinigami (Takamagahara Monogatari #2) by Xia Xia Lake

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A coming-of-age love story between an orphan and the heir of the richest family in the Land of Yamato. The human world meets the yōkai in a power struggle for the fate of Fujiwara no Hirotsugu.

While he battles to find his own path, Hirotsugu finds solace in a boy who will become his secret friend, then his salvation, and then as they become adults together, the love of his life.

After the good first part of the series, I was really curious about the actual novel. And I was not disappointed.

Shinigami” is part two of the series, even though it’s set before the events of “Kogitsune”. You should read “Kogitsune” before you pick up this book. It’s a free short story, so there’s nothing to lose and it will definitely help you understand this book.

I’m not sure if the blurb quite does this amazing book justice. It sounds a little trivial, when this story is anything but. I probably wouldn’t call it a “coming-of-age love story” either, more like historical fantasy steeped in Japanese mythology with a healthy dash of heartbreaking romance.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Japan and it’s folklore and mythology.  After the very good first part, I had very high expectations of this second installment. And “Shinigami” did not just live up to them, it actually exceeded them.

I’m somewhat familiar with Japanese mythology, but not an expert by any means. There’s a dictionary at the end of the book, so you can always cross check if you don’t understand something. You should still be familiar with the most common Japanese titles, though. I actually felt like I now know more about Japan than I did before starting the book, but it never felt like the author was writing a lecture.

The romance itself is rather slow burn, since the book essentially starts with Hiro’s birth. So it takes a while for Hiro and Ryu to meet and it takes even longer for a romantic relationship to develop. But that allowed for a natural growth of their feelings and it was wonderful to witness it. There’s not a ton of sex either and it’s not very explicit, but it was definitely very sensual.

The setting of ancient Japan was extremely well written. The author clearly did a lot of research and knows what she’s writing about. I loved all the details and it made it all very real to me. It’s not always an easy read, so you might not want to read while half asleep. Unless you know your Japanese history and mythology in your sleep, then you’re all set. If not, it does require a bit of concentration, because it’s a rather complex story.

I was happy to get a background story for a few characters of the first part. Biko-san makes another appearance and he’s so adorable. I’m totally naming a cat after him, if I ever get one.

There were some very emotional moments, both happy and sad. It never felt sappy or over the top, though. The ending was both heartbreaking and wonderful and I’m eagerly awaiting part three. That one will be about a minor character who only got one scene in the entire book, but I’m still curious to learn more about him.

Overall, “Shinigami” is a truly brilliant book. If you love historical fantasy, Japanese mythology and folklore and don’t mind a slow-burn, non-traditional romance, you must read this series. One of my highlights of the year.

That cover. Oh my god. So cool. I love it. I’m totally having a fangirl moment just because of the cover. It’s perfect and makes me sad I don’t own a print version. It would look great in my bookshelf.

Book 2 – Shinigami 

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

Book details:

Kindle Edition,245 pages

Published October 1st 2019 (first published August 13th 2019)

Takamagahara Monogatari Series

Kogitsune

Shinigami

James Brock on Memories, His Time in Service and the Inspiration behind “Dog Tagged” by James Brock (guest blog, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Dog Tagged

Dog Tagged by James Brock        

As an overweight glasses wearing young gay man I joined the US Army in 1976 with no questions about my sexuality other than one on the entrance forms which asked you to check a box yes or no if you were a homosexual.

The recruiter signing me up, who was just trying to meet his quota, was set to take me no matter what.  I doubt if I had even checked the box about homosexuality with a bold check in the yes box that he would still have managed to send me on to basic training.

While my life had been in rural, remote America I had been around all races, and sexual orientations.  The only group I had not been around were other guys my age who were gay, and suddenly, despite that pesky question on the form, I found myself around meeting other young me who shared my sexual orientation.

Oh we did not sit and bond over gossip and swap kisses, we were kept far too busy for that, but there were certain moments during which something would click.

Oh. I’m not alone with this.

I remember clearly thinking this one afternoon at the range.  A group of us were waiting our turn to be called up to the firing line and not being supervised very carefully by the Drill Instructor who was supposed to be watching us.  Various conversations were going on and two guys were discussing a movie called Sparkle (the original, re made with no success some years back).  There were giggles and discussion of the dresses.  I knew the guys and wanted so badly to scoot over next to them and become a part of the talk but knew that by doing so I would be associated with them and that (girl talk), if I let myself be swayed.

Later in my service term I would happily and boldly hang out in the gay bars in the city near the base, by the time I separated I had a boyfriend off post.

Dog Tagged is a compilation of memories from my time in service and bits and pieces of stories I learned from other Gay and Lesbian service members I have talked with over the years.

It is without question that there were and are still Gay and Lesbian Drill Instructors.  Which is there this story begins, with that age old question of story tellers, What if…in this case the question is What if there was a D.I., happy with his sexuality but resigned to keeping his hands to himself over the course of his career (on post, that is), until he meets that irresistible force, the guy he cannot let go of.  The somewhere between love and obsession guy he loses his heart to, but unlike his heterosexual mates he cannot even declare his love.  No just because he outranks someone, but because their chosen career, the U.S. Army in this case, does not allow same sex relationships.

Well, in this case they do, but you cannot talk about it.

Or conveniently act on it.

Dog Tagged is a story of love and longing, lust and passion, angst, regret and finally love.

And hopefully, someday soon, a fully equality without question, for all.                  

 

___________

James Brock has a new MM Military Romance out: “Dog Tagged.”

Drill Sergeant Clay Norris has his military life running right on schedule. Career focused he appreciates that he joined up when his sexuality is at least acknowledged under Don’t Ask, Don’t tell, even if he doesn’t get to act on his urges as much as he likes.

In formation with his new trainee group he locks eyes with Chevrolet Banks and his life, their lives, are changed forever.

Dog Tagged is an insta love military romance based on real life incidents.

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Giveaway

James is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4790/?


Excerpt

Dog Tagged meme

What also became clear to me in my short time with the fun, cute guy was that I had fallen so hard for Private Chevy Banks that I couldn’t get him out of my head even standing next to this walking hard-on.

I did let the hot salesman give me a quick kiss on the cheek in the changing room and tried to forget the warmth of his lips as I headed out to the clubs and got some dance and further drink on, always bearing in mind that I was an officer now and had some decorum to maintain.

Okay, all that means is that I got pretty wasted.

And that I danced with all comers. I was quickly stripped out of that cute little shirt salesman Evan had put me in, my training ripped body giving me pick of the litter. Not last call litter, not still breathing and leftover litter. Porn star guys (REAL porn star guys) were fighting over me, actual pushing and shoving, it was quite the scene, the knot of men who had surrounded this former Drill Instructor.

At some point I looked up to see the smiling face of Evan the clerk from the clothing store next to me, an arm thrown protectively thrown around my shoulder. His sweet smile was the brightest of the lot, I latched onto him like an octopus gripping a clam.

I have no idea how long the revelry went on or how I got back to the hotel.

Let alone what might have happened there.

The next morning I woke not feeling well at all. Slick with sweat, sick to my stomach I rolled my head on the pillow slowly, not knowing what kind of guy I was going to find next to me. Thankfully the pillow was empty, as was the bed, although the blankets were mussed enough to let me know someone had recently nested there. Carefully lifting myself I checked the floor and was relieved to see no other bodies in the room.

But at that moment the bathroom door opened and a figure came out.

Evan, blond and sunny, cute as the night before in tattered jean and a faded green t shirt with a cracked and worn logo on it stepped into the darkened room.

“Hey buster, didn’t think you’d be up for a while,” he said with a giggle in his voice.

Flopping down onto the chair across the room he slipped his feet into athletic shoes and laced them. “Or should I be calling you Lieutenant Buster?” he added with a nod toward my dress uniform hanging neatly in the closet.

“Just call me a time machine man, I wanna go back about twelve hours and start over again.” I sighed from the bed. “What the fuck happened….”

“What didn’t happen is the better question,” Even said evenly. “you were wined and dined, if you count the bag of Dorito’s you were given to strap on like a feed bag dining, given drinks and very nearly given drugs and taken to other clubs and there was talk of taking you to that skeezy bath house connected to the dance club, but you wouldn’t go anywhere without me once I had been spotted. You seemed to be quite taken with modest little moi and since I refused to go to that bathhouse everyone was trying to get you to go to I finally got you back here where there were more drinks and salty snacks then there was some crying….” he trailed off. “I’ve ordered room service for you; hope you don’t mind.”

“Wait. Wait, wait.” I said using a nearly Drill Sergeant size voice as the handsome young man stood, “I need the whole story.”

About that time there was a knock at the door; Evan let room service in, signing the check. “You are a good tipper, just so you know,” he grinned while pushing the tray of food over toward me on the bed then pouring coffee. He motioned for me to eat then sat back down. “I was going out anyway so when I closed up I came over to the club and there you were, gaily lit as a Christmas tree and surrounded by faeries more headstrong and stubborn than Tinkerbell all out to get a piece of the hottest man in the city. Not the bar, the city. And I’m not just saying that because I am the one who ended up sleeping with you.”

I guess I looked up at him like a deer in head lights.

“Stop, don’t flatter me. I’ve got it going on but I’m not ripped like you. Word was out that there was a military hottie on the hoof in the club and every muscle queen and gym bunny in town showed up to audition as your hook-up for the night. I think guys were flying in from LA and San Francisco trying to get to you,” the blond smiled.

“So you brought me back here and we….” I said, mouth full of egg. The food was going down smoother than I expected it would.

“I didn’t get in the way of your fun too much, I just kept an eye on you. Until they started to undress you and began offering you pills, powders and potions.”

I felt myself shudder and freeze.

“Don’t worry. I didn’t let them. I just brought you back here, where you insisted on another drink or ten. Then you got weepy and I held you and let you talk about a car until you fell asleep. I dunno, everyone has a kink or two, but I’ve never heard anyone rhapsodize about a vehicle the way you went on and on about your Chevy last night.”

I was really embarrassed then.

I let a silence settle between us before taking a sip of scalding hot coffee and replying.

“Not a car, a guy,” I whispered.

“I fell off a turnip truck but that was a long time ago,” he smirked while reaching over and snagging a crisp piece of bacon off my plate and began chewing on it, “I figured as much.” Evan said with true kindness in his voice. “I had a brother in the Army and knew you were just blowing off some steam. Those wolves would have eaten you and I like to think someone would have looked after my brother the same way. Nothing happened between us.”

“That would have been the best part of the night it sounds like,” I managed, no longer interested in the food.

“You were a hot mess, but I am very glad you are alright. Now I’ve gotta go to work. If you are in town for a while here is my card.” With that Evan produced a business card with his name, number and e mail on it. “Use it at will.” he slipped the card on the breakfast tray then slid his arms around my body, giving me a very nice hug.

“Leaving tomorrow, but some other time without question.”

Stopping at the closet on his way out he reached in and touched the sleeve of my dress uniform.

“Are you going over?”

“Soon.”

There was a slight pause before he broke his eyes form the uniform.

“Be safe. E mail and let me know how you are. Promise?”

“Promise, and thanks. Is your brother back?” there was a pause before Evan answered Yesin such a quiet way that I knew the way his brother had come home.

“I’m sorry,” was all I had time to say before the cute blond turned and gave me a wan smile and slipped out of the room.


Author Bio

James Brock is an Amazon number one best selling author, with fifteen M/M romance novels published and two family autobiographies.

Once upon a time he sold comedy to Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, was published in every gay men’s magazine on the market (when there was a market, those dinosaurs were killed off by DVD, which were in turn eaten by streaming and on demand…), the Seattle Gay News and Seattle Standard and essays with the late great Alyson Publications.

James lives in Seattle.

Author Website: JamesBrockBooks.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Men-Overboard-100109810041126/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamesbrockbooks

LOGO - Other Worlds Ink

Love Fantasy and Mythology? Check out the Tour for Shinigami by Xia Xia Lake (excerpts)

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REVIEW TOUR

Book Title: Shinigami

Author: Xia Xia Lake

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date:  October 1, 2019  

Genre/s: LGBTQ fantasy, Gay fiction, Historical fiction (it’s NOT MM romance)

Trope/s:  Friends to Lovers

Themes: Mythology; gods; supernatural

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 71 440 words /220 pages 

Add on Goodreads

 

Nothing is what it seems.

Blurb

A coming of age love story between the heir of the richest family in the Land of Yamato and an orphan. The human world meets the yōkai world in a power struggle for the fate of Fujiwara no Hirotsugu. While he battles to find his own path in life, Hirotsugu finds solace in a boy who will first become his secret friend, then his salvation, then, as they become adults together, the love of his life. 

The story is set during the Nara period of ancient Japan and will expand over a period of 25 years (715-740).  

 

Buy Links

Book 1 – Kogitsune.

It’s a 40-page short story and is FREE on Smashwords.

 

Book 2 – Shinigami 

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1: Kagerō
Kagerō: The quivering appearance of the mist rising from the hot surface of the ground”

On the day Fujiwara no Hirotsugu was born, Mount Kasuga was covered in golden shimmering kagerō rising from the ground to cloak the mountain in mist. The uguisu sang from dusk until dawn, and a crane appeared in the palace garden and didn’t leave for five days.

It was late May, close to the final days of planting the rice. These were the days when finishing the paddy field work was paramount, lest next year’s crops be affected. Yet in celebration of Hirotsugu’s birth, his father, Umakai, sent an order to his bailiff to decree half a day off for all workers. Servants from the palace went down the mountain to offer rice, fish, and sake to the poor in Heijo-kyo.

Gifts poured through the gates for weeks, coming not only from the greatest families living in the land of Yamato, but also from as far away as Silla and Tang. Even the old Empress Genmei, who had no love for the Fujiwara clan, sent Hirotsugu a gift fit for royalty: a sword replica modeled after Kusanagi the Grass Slasher, the sacred imperial heirloom of the Yamato Emperors. Since it was forbidden for anyone except the reigning monarch and the High Priest of the Ise Grand Shrine to lay eyes on the real Kusanagi, no one could actually tell how good the replica was. But neither could they deny that the sword Hirotsugu received was of exceptional workmanship and extraordinary value.

The greatest gift of all came from Hirotsugu’s grandfather, Fujiwara no Fuhito. The leader of the Fujiwara clan made a secret pact with Crown Prince Obito that on the day Hirotsugu turned twenty, he would marry Princess Abe, Prince Obito’s firstborn child.

Upon Hirotsugu’s birth, the Fujiwara clan made great plans for his future, and I watched from my throne of skulls behind the kagerō veil and laughed and laughed and laughed.

 

SPRING

Chapter 2: Uguisu
Uguisu: The Japanese nightingale

In spring, nature was at its most beautiful at dawn, when Amaterasu’s robe touched the hills and dyed them red, and the blooming cherry trees turned a vibrant pink. Hanging from the eaves of every Fujiwara castle were tendrils of purple wisteria, their blooms awakening to welcome the Sun Goddess. The white clouds above resembled boughs of cherry flowers.

When night approached, the birdsong gently shifted from cheerful to forlorn. The uguisu went to sleep in its pot-shaped nest, and the brown-feathered night thrush—recently returned from wintering in Tenjiku—took its place and claimed the night. Now and then, a deer would call and a fawn would answer back.

The day Hirotsugu was born, a young god wandered up and down the high-forested slopes of Mount Kasuga, tired from the day he’d spent blessing the fields and the future harvest. He would have gone home to Mount Kurama in Kibune, but something was amiss with the yōkai living on Kasuga and he’d come to investigate.

At twilight, he found a group of kodama and an old kappa gathered underneath the budding leaves of a giant plum tree, transfixed by its beautiful red blossoms. When he entered the clearing, they were trying to touch the blossoms, but as soon as a hand came close, the tree would raise its branches out of reach.

“Don’t touch it,” the god commanded. His voice was calm, but it came like the snap of a whip and took them out of their reverie. “It’s a ghost tree. It’s not really here.”

The kodama stumbled backward, frightened.

“When did it appear?” the young god asked.

“This morning, Inari-sama,” the kappa answered. “When the baby was born.”

“Baby?” Inari frowned. “Come closer, child, don’t be afraid. Which baby do you speak of?”

 

About the Author 

Xia Xia Lake is an Otaku & Slytherin that used to cosplay at every comic con she attended, until a kid asked if he could take a picture with the “old lady.”

She decided a couple of years ago that she wanted to spend her free time writing stories and partying with vampires.

She lives in Transylvania with her fiancé and is a big fan of Romanian cuisine.

 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

 Pinterest  |  Goodreads

 

 

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

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Goalie Interference (Hat Trick #2) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

An incredibly interesting, exciting, hot and sexy story featuring two goalies—both playing for the same team. Competition? Yes, loads. Sexual attraction? Just as much. From the moment I picked this up and started to read, I couldn’t put it down. The excitement and tension surrounding not only the relationship between the goalies, but also the hockey games and potential to go all the way to the Stanley Cup, kept me riveted.

Both MCs are men of color in a traditionally white player’s sport. Not that pro sports isn’t changing, but for now it’s best to keep their sexuality to themselves. Both men show support for young persons of color to pursue their dreams in professional sports, with a special emphasis on their support for hockey.

Ryu Mori grew up with Japanese traditions as the son of a surgeon—his mother—and a skating coach—his father, who is also a former Olympic Medalist figure skater. From the moment he first tried hockey, he knew it would be his life. And though his parents didn’t actively encourage him in the sport, they did encourage him to be perfect at whatever he does. Emmitt Armstrong grew up as the son of a former pro football player who wanted him to follow in his footsteps and never acknowledged his preferred professional career in hockey. His only interest is football—for himself and for Emmitt. Divorced, both parents now live in different states, and Emmitt chose to live in the Chicago area with his mother, who supports his career wholeheartedly, cheering him on every chance she gets. But without his father’s approval… Let’s just say that one good word from that man would work wonders for Emmitt’s pride.

The two goalies are set against each other to compete for starting position when Emmitt is traded into the NHL Atlanta Venom team from the Marauder’s AHL team. Emmitt wants the starting spot, so from the moment he meets the stoic, quiet, focused Ryu Mori, he dislikes him and actively tries to get the starter position away from him.  But opposites attract, and it becomes evident they want each other, so when the chance arises, they decide to give in to sexual attraction but go no further.  Like that’s going to work, right? Of course, they become more than just sex buddies, and when the managers decide to use them in tandem during the course of the season, they allow their relationship to grow. 

And then playoffs start and they are once again pitted against each other and the relationship suffers. This story is so exciting.  I don’t want to give anything else away.  The guys are amazing. The secondary characters are fantastic.  The sport is awesome and the excitement the authors build is downright stressful.  I highly recommend this story and the first, Off the Ice.  Thank goodness, there will be one more in the series.  I can’t wait.  Oh, and by the way, though second in the series, this can easily be read as a stand-alone.

The bright cover features a goalie looking toward the opposing team. It’s uniquely done with a watercolor effect and definitely attracts attention and invites readers in. 

Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: September 30th 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488053804 (ISBN13: 9781488053801)
Edition Language English
Series Hat Trick #2
Characters Ryu Mori, Emmitt Armstrong
setting Atlanta, Georgia (United States)

Hat Trick Series

Off the Ice

Goalie Interference

Belinda McBride on Writing, HFN, and her new release An Uncommon Whore (An Uncommon Whore #1) 

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An Uncommon Whore (An Uncommon Whore #1) by Belinda McBride

Dreamspinner Press
Published August 27th 2019

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy Link:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon |  Barnes and Noble:

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Belinda McBride here today on tour with her new release An Uncommon Whore. Welcome, Belinda, and thank yo for agreeing to answer our author questions.

✒︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview  with Belinda McBride

  • How much of yourself goes into a character? 

I don’t think a writer can avoid inserting themselves into a character to some point. I mean, we all bring our own feelings, experiences and expectations when we read or write. But I think for me, I write characters I’d like to know…or who I’d like to be.  I guess there’s some projection going on there. I wish I were as steadfast as Griffin Hawke or as accepting as Lefi Drahan, or as uninhibited as Belle Oakley.

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

I wind up doing a LOT of research regardless of genre. I am constantly Googling obscure poets or gods or trying to figure out what sort of trees could possibly survive on a specific planet. But it wasn’t until I tried my hand at a Civil War era novel that featured a hero that was half Muscogee and visits London in 1871 that I knew I was in over my head! LOL!

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Since I write romance, I’m committed to a HEA…eventually. LOL! Helios and Griffin from An Uncommon Whore get a HFN in their books. They’ll get their HEA eventually.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Yes, I stumbled across my first romance when I was in Jr. High. It was Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer and set a high standard for my love of romance. I love historical romance and I particularly love an unapologetic anti-hero. The romances of the ‘70s and

‘80s were really not to my taste and I set them aside for a long while. I plunged back into romance when I picked up a Christine Feehan paranormal romance and started devouring the genre like I’d been starved!

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

I don’t always get to choose them, since most of my work is with publishers. But I had a lot of input into the new Uncommon Whore cover. I wanted it romantic but reflecting the fact that it’s science fiction. And I wanted it to jump out at the viewer, both from thumbnail size and paperback size. I think we succeeded with this one!

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m continuing on the re-release of the Uncommon Universe books and trying to prepare some of my older material to be re-released. For new material, I have a paranormal m/m/f that’s almost ready to go, and an Mpreg (!!) in development for next year. I have several WiPs that are really overdue for some attention as well. And of course, I’ll have another Helios and Griffin book out eventually.

  •  What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

Flaws and weaknesses fascinate me. Addictions, self-destructive tendencies, emotional damage and so on. I’ve met people who’ve battled demons and prevailed. Some of my characters have terrible weaknesses. Helios tends to be indolent and vain. Griffin is jealous and overprotective. Afton (the Bacchi) is puritanical and judgmental. Dierdre Dayspring is depressed. Caius is an addict of a different sort. These are all building blocks to develop character and conflict.

  •  Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

The Bacchi comes to mind. I set that aside for about 3 years. In fact, when I returned to it, I had to re-write what I’d started because my writing had evolved during that time! When I Fall went through several false starts as well. 

  •  Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Well, my readers will recognize that addiction and human trafficking are recurring topics in several of my books. Addiction is a nasty feature in my family—both on my mother and my father’s side of the family. When I wrote The Bacchi and Prince of Faith, a loved one was battling opioid addition. Human trafficking…a friend of mine vanished into forced labor. We’d track him down and make contact and the people who had him would move him. He’s a legal immigrant and a skilled chef, and in the end, he was high profile enough that they couldn’t keep him because his loyal “fans” followed him from restaurant to restaurant. But it took years and did a lot of damage.

  •  What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

Yeah…sex while falling from the sky. I did write it. In fact, I should put it up as a freebie…LOL!

  •    With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? Why do you write?

The general chaos of the world cripples my writing, and I had to learn to wean myself from TV and social media. I think some real-life seeps into my writing but I try to avoid inserting contemporary events. Or if they’re included, there’s goodness. In An Uncommon Whore, the refugees of a planet-wide destruction are rescued by alien people they didn’t even know existed. And as the story continues, the Vash and the Somian and others continue to ally with them, helping them recover. Maybe I’m modeling how I believe. people should be in real life.

 

Blurb:

An Uncommon Whore Story

Pasha is a slave, whoring for travelers at the most treacherous bar on Warlan. The day Pasha spots the dangerous pirate in the bar, he knows he mustn’t let the stranger slip away, no matter what he must do to draw his attention. 

Captain Griffin Hawke spent the better part of a decade searching for his lost king, only to find Helios Dayspring crouched between his legs, swathed in the robes and shackles of a whore. Though he is appalled by the downfall of his king, Grif falls for the sensual creature who has taken his place. After a brutal invasion stripped his people of nearly everything, they desperately need Helios to lead them. But returning him to throne means smuggling him off the planet, disabling the chip that keeps him submissive and forgetful. They will face old enemies, traitors, and greedy opportunists who’d like to strip their new planet of its wealth. 

It might mean Grif losing his lover… and they’ve both lost too much already.

Second Edition
First Edition published by Loose Id LLC, January 2010.

About the Author:

Belinda is an award-winning, top selling author of erotic romance, speculative fiction and LGBTQ romance. She lives in far Northern California with her family and a pack of Siberian Huskies and a few rogue Salukis

A graduate of CSU Chico, she managed to attend the notorious party school without once getting drunk, arrested or appearing in a “Girls Gone Wild” video. Her main focus of study was classical and archival history, cultural anthropology and 

theatre arts.

After several years in the workforce. Belinda purchased a laptop computer and from there, never stopped writing.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Belinda-McBride-49209583129/

Website: www.belindambride.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/belinda.mcbride/

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