Check Out the Review Tour and Giveaway for Torn by Rick R Reed

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Length: 63,424 words
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
 
Blurb
 

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


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


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


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





Excerpt

I’m going to tell you how this story ends, but not with whom. That’s a fair promise to make, isn’t it?

So…. Yes, you’ll get your happy-ever-after ending—if there truly is such a thing—you just won’t be privy to all the details. Unless you read on….

Almost twenty-five years ago, I was thirty-five years old and privileged to cross the pond to merry old England for the very first time. I was finally able to say I’d traveled internationally by the grace of my best friend, a writer of boys’ adventure stories with the improbable name of Lord Boutros BinBin (no, he was not an actual Lord; he told me once he simply had parents who were “quirky” and “creative,” also known as “free spirits”). He wrote under the much plainer moniker Beryl Kensit.At that time, and during that trip, I was also blessed to fall head over heels in love with a gorgeous, kind, and sensitive man I met at twilight on the streets of the beachside city of Brighton . He ticked every box on my imagined list for the perfect lover—exotically handsome, spiritual, artistic, amazing in bed, and… I could actually hold a conversation with him. Our silences were okay too, comfortable. We launched into a passionate affair and promised that we’d meet again.

But the course of true love, as they say, never did run smooth. Ain’t it the truth?

I returned home from those two weeks with a satchel full of memories, a sexually transmitted infection, and the knowledge that I’d found true love.

But then, only a week or two after settling back into my little apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago , I found myself falling head over heels in love again—this time with a salt-of-the-earth, charming, and sweet man from the South Side. He was nothing like I ever imagined I would be compatible with—our tastes, educational background, intelligence, and cultural awareness made us like creatures from two different planets—yet somehow the magic, the spark, was there.

How would I reconcile the two? Whom would I choose? Could things ever end satisfactorily when, as in Mary MacGregor’s song, you’re “Torn Between Two Lovers”?

Read on, my friend, read on… and discover how the head won out over the heart.

Or was it the other way around?

Real Men. True Love.


Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.


Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

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A Free Dreamer Review: Rebellion by Naomi Aoki

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Rating: 4 stars out 5

1899, political tensions are rising with the emergence of the Boxer Movement in Northern China, straining ties between the Chinese Imperial Government and the Eight Nations with stakes in the country. As a Captain in the Royal Marines, Alfred Cartwright is deployed to Shanghai, where he discovers more than he’d dared to dream of – Love. Not even the struggles with language or the fear of reprisals if their relationship is found out, can stop Alfred from falling for the Chinese man he encounters. But as the ant-foreigner sentiment of the Boxer Movement grows in strength, their relationship will be put to the test.

Where do Alfred’s loyalties lie? With the man he loves or his country, as they stand opposite each other on a battlefield neither can escape.

I’ve found Asian history in general, and Chinese and Japanese history in particular, fascinating for a long time. So when the review request for “Rebellion” popped up in my inbox, I just couldn’t say no.

First of all, you definitely don’t need to be an expert on China, Chinese history or the Boxer Uprising to understand and enjoy this book. All I knew about the Boxer Uprising before I started this book was that it happened it in China a longish time ago and a vague recollection that it wasn’t actually about boxers. After finishing “Rebellion” I can’t say I know too much more, to be honest. And that’s a shame, because when I read a historical novel, I expect to learn more about the period it is set in. But this book mainly focused on Alfred’s feelings and the time he spent with Zhang, rather than what was going on around them.

The few things I did learn about the time period were truly fascinating, however. I had no idea homosexuality wasn’t a big deal, for example. And we did get some details on how the British Empire and other nations behaved in China and how the average foreigner saw the Chinese. I just wish there had been more scenes that didn’t focus solely on Alfred’s feelings for Zhang.

The love story of these two men was deliciously forbidden and horribly dangerous, because while homosexuality might not have been a big deal for the Chinese, it certainly was for the Brits and neither of the nations approved of relationships between a British Marine Captain and a Chinese man. I think the author did a brilliant job of describing Alfred’s conflicting loyalties and I came to really feel for him and his struggles.

Their relationship was made even more complicated by the language barrier. Personally, I loved that the author chose to transliterate whole passages of Mandarin. I’ve always found foreign languages fascinating and I like to try to figure out how a language works. But I can see how other readers might get bored by it after a while. Most of the time, it’s just a couple of short sentences but there are a few longer passages. On a purely superficial note I also liked that the author only put the translation in italics, not the Mandarin.

There were several semi explicit sex scenes that I found really hot, but that’s really not an important part of the story. It just showed the developing bond between the two men.

We don’t learn too much about Zhang. He doesn’t get his own POV and we only learn some minor details about his past. He remained ever mysterious. A little more background info would have been nice.

Another minor niggle was the editing. There were a few minor grammar mistakes that kept coming up. It’s nothing too distracting but I always feel a bit cheated when such simple mistakes aren’t fixed.

My final niggle would be a spoiler, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. Let’s just say that there was a conflict between the two that I didn’t feel was ever really properly resolved. It’s brushed off with a couple of sentences, so the two of them can have their happy end without any distractions.

I did like the ending and thought it was at least somewhat realistic. Though a follow-up on how they’re going to survive would be very interesting.

Overall, “Rebellion” was a good book. I did have a few minor niggles and the book felt a bit short but all in all it was definitely an enjoyable read. A solid four star read and I’m interested to find out what else the author has written. And I also want to read more about the Boxer Uprising in general, so Naomi Aoki did a great job in making me curious.

I quite like the cover. It looks a bit mysterious and I think it works well for the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book details: Kindle Edition,172 pages

Published November 24th 2018 by Naomi Aoki

Review Tour for Rebellion by Naomi Aoki

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 51,835
 
Blurb
 

1899, political tensions are rising with the emergence of the Boxer Movement in Northern China, straining ties between the Chinese Imperial Government and the Eight Nations with stakes in the country. As a Captain in the Royal Marines, Alfred Cartwright is deployed to Shanghai, where he discovers more than he’d dared to dream of – Love. Not even the struggles with language or the fear of reprisals if their relationship is found out, can stop Alfred from falling for the Chinese man he encounters. But as the anti-foreigner sentiment of the Boxer Movement grows in strength, their relationship will be put to the test.


Where do Alfred’s loyalties lie? With the man he loves or his country, as they stand opposite each other on a battlefield neither can escape.

Find Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.  We definitely recommend it.
 

Author Bio


Naomi would love to runaway to Japan or China and live there for a few years… but she can’t. Instead she goes there in her books, hoping to drag the reader into a world they’ve never been to before.


Historical. Contemporary. Time offers no constraint to the stories she writes, happily dabbling in both so long as there is a happy ending.


She is a mother of three teenage children, one of whom loves to tell people that her mother writes romance stories about gay men just to see their reaction. While she could never claim to be fluent, she has just completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Chinese, with minors in Creative Writing and Japanese.


Her stories are based predominantly in Japan or China and her historical stories often involving time periods or situations not often talked about with her characters often being actively involved in the events occurring around them.


Twitter: @naomiaokiauthor
Pinterest: naomiaokiauthor
Facebook: @naomiaokiauthor
FB Reader’s Group: Kiwi Authors Rainbow Reads
Amazon: amazon.com/author/naomiaoki

 

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Review: Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows #10) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Lessons for Suspicious MindsJonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith have just returned home when they are sent a summons by Mrs. Stewart, Jonty’s mother.   Her old friend and Jonty’s godmother requires their assistance and immediate travel to her stately home in the country.  Although lacking details, Jonty and Orlando know this can only mean one thing…..a mystery to solve.  But this could not come at a worse time,, Orlando is still preoccupied over the revelation of his true family name and Jonty had made plans to help Orlando in his personal investigation.

But Mrs. Stewart is not to be denied and soon the two are traveling with the Stewarts to the Berkshires and Fyfield, home of Alexandra Temple.  Midway on their journey, a stop at Monkey Island sees the Cambridge Fellows with an unexpected request to look into a recent death there.  Orlando and Jonty keep that mystery to themselves but are surprised when asked to investigate a suicide at Fyfield, their destination.  That’s two recent suicides suspected to be murder, a circumstance that neither Jonty or Orlando believe to be coincidence.

For Orlando and Jonty, the deaths remind them of a recent dark time for Orlando and memories of Orlando’s father’s suicide.  There will be many mysteries to solve and personal obstacles to overcome before the Cambridge Fellows can return home to Forsythia Cottage and a life they love.

With Lessons for Suspicious Minds, Charlie Cochrane takes us back to England, 1909, a time period prior to the last two novels in this series. WWI is still years away although change is in the air and troubling events are occurring aboard.  Orlando is still reeling over the fact that he is not really a Coppersmith but a relation of the Italian Artigiano del Rame family and Jonty is making plans to help his lover investigate his grandfather’s identity.  But of course, even the simplest of plans go awry for our Cambridge Fellows as Cochrane builds some of her most sophisticated and convoluted set of mysteries to date for them to solve.

There is just so much to love and admire about this book. And l especially appreciate that, as the tenth book in the series, Charlie Cochrane takes us back prior to WWI and the events of All Lessons Learned (#8) and Lessons for Survivors (#9).  Once again we get to revel in the closeness and joy that is the Stewart family, from Richard, Jonty’s father always ready to join in as a spry co-investigator and the ever formidable Helena Stewart, Jonty’s mother, whose post pulls Orlando and Jonty into one of their most personal and perplexing cases  yet.  Lavinia, Jonty’s sister, nephew and brother in law are also present and enjoyably accounted for.  The Stewart family aspect of this series has always been a powerful emotional anchor for Jonty and Orlando’s relationship and sometimes even their mental and emotional stability.  That will come into play here as well.

A constant thread throughout this series has been Orlando’s predilection towards depression, an event usually brought on by thoughts of his dysfunctional family and his father’s suicide.  When Lessons for Suspicious Minds starts, we find Orlando in an unsettled state of mind.  He has just found out that his family name is not Coppersmith but an Italian one from his maternal grandmother as their true family name, Artigiano del Rame, is italian for Coppersmith.  Now the mystery before Orlando is that of the identity of his grandfather, a man never identified by his grandmother.  As always Jonty is trying to find a way to help Orlando but unsure of how to assist him.  This is such a marvelous way to start a story that will have further ramifications for both Orlando and Jonty, especially as they get involved in investigating two deaths categorized as suicides.

This is an emotionally fraught subject and Cochrane treads delicately but resoundingly here.  She brings back past events where depression almost pulled Orlando under and has the entire Stewart family just as unsettled as Orlando, unsure of how to tackle their concerns about his state of mind when dealing so directly with these recent deaths.  Then the author balances the tricky state of hiding the nature of Orlando and Jonty’s relationship from everyone at Fyfield, including the servants, just at the moment when Orlando is needing the love and support of Jonty the most.   It’s almost painful for them to part in the evening when all Orlando (and Jonty) wants is to curl up with his lover, feeling safe and loved.

Through ten stories readers have been there as Orlando and Jonty meet, romanced and finally settled into a deep loving relationship.  It has been a wonderful journey, filled with angst and joy. So we understand how far Orlando has come from those early stages to this point where he needs that physicality, that touch from Jonty to shore him up emotionally and mentally. And when they finally are able to sneak away and indulge in their need for one another, the reader feels as content and emotionally satisfied as they do.

A tenth book is always a milestone in any series and Charlie Cochrane does justice to this remarkable series by including all the elements that her readers have come to expect and enjoy and elevating them here in Lessons for Suspicious Minds.  There is the marvelous parlance of the time period that Cochrance includes in her dialog which demonstrates an ease and familiarity of language in use then.   Whether it is Jonty calling Orlando “a big jessie”, with total affection of course, Richard remonstrating “Helena, he’s built like a bull of Bashan.” after Jonty’s mother says he is “looking a touch on the thin side.” Or even Jonty asking “What have you planned in the way of a nosebag?”, it natural, instead of strained or unusual.  It just adds that note of relevance and accuracy necessary for a historical novel, albeit accomplished in a lovely and subtle manner.

Her locales ring as true as her dialog.  I would love to punt my way to Monkey Island and spread a cloth under the trees to nap away a hour or two in the afternoon. Cochrane’s descriptions are both informative and a calling card for that geographical area. Their pull is hard to resist and sent me googling Monkey Island, punts and gardens Cochrane so vividly brought to life.

And then there are her mysteries, two of them in fact.  To use the lingo common in fiction, there is a dastardly aspect to these cases that I was not prepared for. Its complex and it takes time for Jonty and Orlando to pull all the facts together before they can solve the crimes.  The clues are myriad and include such marvelous things as servants bells and mariner journals. Just outstanding, I think this is the best mystery yet.  I loved that I did not guess at the solution, didn’t even come close!

But the true heart of this story and the series is the love between Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart.  It has survived Orlando’s innocence, Jonty’s childhood sexual abuse, and all the events of their past investigations, including death threats , threats to the romance, and the threat of discovery. I was slow warming up to their romance but as the stories flew by and their relationship progressed, I fell for them as deeply as they fell for each other.  Now I number this series and couple among my all time favorites.

Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows #10) is one of the best of the series, a marvelous thing to report at book ten.  This series and their romance is alive and getting resoundingly better with each new story.  How many series can say that at book ten?  If you are new to the Cambridge Fellows series and Jonty and Orlando, then rush back to the beginning and the start of their romance.  But if you are a long-time fan as I am, then you will surely be as in love with this story as Jonty and Orlando remain with each other, exchanging gentle slaps and retorts to go along with the double entendres and hidden caresses we love and expect.  I consider this one of the best of 2013.

Cover art by Alex Beecroft is perfect for this story in every way.

Book Details:

Paperback, 200 pages
Published September 30th 2013 by Cheyenne Publishing (first published September 19th 2013)
ISBN 1937692272 (ISBN13: 9781937692278)
edition language English

For those of you for whom this review is your first introduction, please start from the beginning. Take your time getting to know these remarkable men, delve into life and times of England in the 1900′s. It starts out with all the joys of a slow promenade and then picks up the pace with each succeeding book.

It is an extraordinary journey. Dont miss a page of it. Here are the order the stories were written and should be read to fully understand the relationships and events that occur:

Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows, #1)
Lessons in Desire (Cambridge Fellows, #2)
Lessons in Discovery (Cambridge Fellows, #3)
Lessons in Power (Cambridge Fellows, #4)
My True Love Sent To Me
Lessons in Temptation (Cambridge Fellows, #5)
Lessons in Seduction (Cambridge Fellows, #6)
Lessons in Trust (Cambridge Fellows, #7)
Once We Won Matches (Cambridge Fellows, #7.5)
All Lessons Learned (Cambridge Fellows, #8)
Lessons for Survivors (Cambridge Fellows, #9) – released by Cheyenne Publishing.
Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows #10)

For free stories in the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries universe and more about the author, visit the author’s website.