TOUR: Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane (excerpt and giveway)

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Title:  Whitecott Manor

Author: Emma Jane

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65300

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, NineStar Press, LGBT, contemporary, British, paranormal, intrigue, family-drama, ghosts, friends to lovers, humor

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Synopsis

Alistair Ellis is the proud gardener for beautiful fifteenth-century Whitecott Manor, in England’s West Country. His life changes forever following a gas explosion at the manor, in which his boss—and love of his life—dies. However, his boss hasn’t exactly gone for good and Alistair still finds himself involved in conversations with the deceased.

Circumstances improve when he meets Noah, the handsome dog groomer for the manor’s new owners. Although there are some issues: Noah is already engaged and Alistair suffers from cynophobia—an acute fear of dogs!

Excerpt

Whitecott Manor
Emma Jane © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Once I was aware of the cuts, they stung like a bitch. I should’ve worn gloves, really, but it’s so much easier not to. I was almost finished anyway, and the Harpers’ rose borders were nearly ready. They’d look beautiful when they flowered in the summer—they always did. White and red rose blooms flanked the path to the tennis court. I just had one last bush to prune and then I could stop for a cuppa. The cuts were itching now too, right where the thorns had snagged and ripped my skin. I sucked the flesh between my thumb and index finger, tasting blood and mud, and stood there, secateurs in hand, watching the house.

It was a fifteenth-century manor—a beautiful listed building made from warm-yellow stone. It’d been revamped inside, a strange mixture of modern and ancient, and was currently—unfortunately, in my opinion—on the market. I didn’t want it to sell; I didn’t want to lose my job. The Harpers assured me that whoever bought the place would keep me on but, well, it wasn’t down to them.

I took my hand from my mouth and watched as the estate agent led a middle-aged couple from their car—some sort of old classic; light blue with a soft-top—to the front of the manor. Even at this distance, I could see the look on their faces as they gazed up at the building before entering. They loved it already. Everybody did; it was such an impressive place. Bloody hell, I’d buy it if I had a spare eight million lying around.

I glowered to myself and turned back to the last bush, reaching into the branches to snip it into some sort of order. I cut myself on another thorn and swore impatiently.

“Language.”

I turned to see Mr Harper—Emmett—watching me. He stood there, smiling, his hands tucked in the pockets of his ridiculous purple corduroys. He always reminded me of Colin Firth, though he didn’t look particularly like him. He was a similar age, I suppose, and had that same clipped accent and no-nonsense manner.

I tossed rose clippings into my wheelbarrow. “Sorry. It’s these roses. They’re full of thorns.”

“Ah, the roses. Yes. I thought perhaps you’d spotted Mr Daniels showing the Scrantons around.”

“Scrantons?”

“Mr and Mrs Scranton. I don’t know their first names, and I don’t care. Lottery winners, apparently.”

I scratched at my cheek with the edge of my thumbnail and then wiped the back of my hand across my brow. “You really want Whitecott Manor bought by lottery winners?” I asked. It wasn’t really any of my business, but I didn’t want to see the place sold on yet again because the Scrantons squandered all their money and ended up bankrupt within a year.

Emmett shrugged. “My dear, I don’t care who buys it as long as they cough up the money. You know I can’t afford to keep the place.”

I knew. Emmett was swimming in debt. His daughters—all five of them—had now moved out and he had to pay for everything on his own since his wife had left. Old Mrs Harper, Emmett’s mother, lived in the house with him, but she was in her eighties and, I think, had about as much money as he did. They wanted to move to a little cottage somewhere, with a nice granny annex and a garden that didn’t require much attention. Certainly not enough attention to take me with them.

I hadn’t said anything. Emmett came and put his hand to the small of my back. “Whoever ends up here would be mad to let you go. They can see how beautiful the gardens are.”

I nodded and stared into the rose bush.

“And you’re beautiful,” he added. “Who would not want you around?”

“You don’t need to flatter me.” I snipped at the bush and tossed branches into my wheelbarrow.

Emmett chuckled and moved away. “Cheer up, Alistair! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. I’m off to take Mother her tea.”

I watched him stroll back to the house as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I’d miss him most of all. Well, maybe he wouldn’t move far. I’d probably still see him around—at the local fair or plant show perhaps. Besides, house sales took ages; I knew that from experience. If the Scrantons bought the place, it’d be a while yet before they moved in. And if they decided they didn’t want a gardener—if—then I had plenty of time to look for a new job. I could always audition for the X Factor and see where that got me—Emmett said I had a great singing voice, and I’d often dreamed of performing on stage.

I picked up the wheelbarrow and went to empty the clippings on the compost heap. I was just trundling back to the roses when I spotted the estate agent leading the Scrantons out into the gardens. I’d make myself scarce; I didn’t want to have to smile politely while they stood and gawked, so I downed tools and headed to the potting shed.

The cabbage seedlings were coming on nicely, I noticed, but my beetroots were depressingly small. I’d never had much luck with beetroot. They never grew much larger than rat testicles. I shrugged out of my overalls and tied the arms around my waist, singing an Elvis track softly beneath my breath.

I’d just reached for a watering can when an almighty bang made me jump out of my skin. The windows blew out the front of the manor, followed by tongues of fire licking the frames. I stared, heart frozen and mouth open. Then my heart started again, blood thumping in my ears. I threw open the shed door and ran.

“Emmett!”

I dashed towards the building, pulled open the door, and hurried down the hall to where the explosion had come from—the kitchen. Flames crackled in the room, red and angry and louder than I would’ve expected. Smoke and heat billowed outwards, and I coughed and covered my nose. My eyes watered.

“Emmett!” I yelled again.

Something crashed—maybe part of the ceiling falling—and I took a step to go after Emmett when somebody grabbed my arm and hauled me back.

“Mr Harper’s in there,” I shouted at the estate agent, fighting the man’s vice-like grip. “Emmett! Emmett!

The estate agent pulled me away, forcing me bodily back down the hall and outside. He was speaking—shouting, I think—but I yelled too, my voice hoarse, and I couldn’t hear him, couldn’t see, couldn’t… Emmett.

Sirens screamed in the distance, and then I saw the lights flashing through the trees that flanked the lane beside the manor. Fire engines arrived in a cacophony of noise and colour. The estate agent held me in a bear hug, and all I could do as firefighters jumped from their vehicles was stare at the flames roaring from the broken windows.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Emma Jane has been writing stories since primary school, some of which still survive in notebooks in her dad’s attic, and wanted to be an author as soon as she realised it was a possible career choice and ‘Pony’ or ‘Ninja’ weren’t viable options.

Her first short story, Club Freak, about an anonymous woman’s determination to find her husband’s killer, was published by Park Publication’s Debut magazine in May 2009. Since then, she has gone on to write many short stories and poems for various small presses and has achieved an Honourable Mention in the 2011 Writers of the Future competition.

In 2014, writing as Emma Jane, she signed her first publishing contract for not one, but two novels. Otherworld formerly published by Torquere Press, and Shuttered by Dreamspinner Press.

Website | Twitter

Tour Schedule

9/11 Books,Dreams,Life

9/11 Drops of Ink

9/11 The Novel Approach

9/11 Happily Ever Chapter

9/11 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

9/12 Stories That Make You Smile

9/12 Southern Babes Book Blog

9/13 Love Bytes

9/14 Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

9/14 Two Chicks Obsessed

9/14 Erotica For All

9/14 Bayou Book Junkie

9/15 MillsyLovesBooks

9/15 A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

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Release Blitz for KA Merikan’s My Dark Knight (Kings Of Hell MC #2) (giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Length: 145,000 words
 
Kings Of Hell MC Series
 
Laurent & The Beast (Book #1) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Love or hate. Life or death. No inbetween. No compromise. No rules in love and war.

Knight. Party monster. Handsome Savage. Doesn’t do monogamy.


Elliot. Obsessive. Intense. Uncompromising.


Newly single, Knight is done with relationships. All he’s interested in is bringing down The Count, an Internet personality who is tarnishing his family name. An opportunity to crush him comes when the audacious clown shows up at the Kings of Hell MC clubhouse to film for his YouTube channel. But when Knight meets Elliot, the man behind The Count, he no longer knows what to do with him.


Knight has never seen a more pathetic creature than Elliot. He’s also never met anyone who needed him more. Skinny, messed up, and a bucket of trouble as thick as tar, everything Elliot does seems to be a wordless death wish. No matter how much Knight hates Elliot’s alter ego, under the makeup and theatrics hides a fragile young guy with a passion for history, and Knight can’t help but catch Elliot every time he falls.


Elliot has bad taste in men. Always hopelessly attracted to violent brutes, his favorite is a long dead serial killer. But he gets more than he’s bargained for when he seizes an opportunity to meet the man of his dreams. The ghost is manipulative and dangerous, offering Elliot all he’s always wanted, for a price he can’t possibly pay.


Elliot is faced with an impossible choice between two men.


One alive, one dead.


One carnal and honest, one drizzling sweet, poisoned promises into his ear.


One unwilling to commit, the other promising an eternity together.


And Elliot doesn’t settle for half-measures. He craves a love that is all or nothing, passion that will consume him, and desire to burn him alive.


Elliot is ready to either get that, or die trying.


POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: enemies to lovers, protector, cruelty, motorcycle club, alternative lifestyles, demons, tattoos, impossible choices, deception, crime, self-discovery, healing, black magic, gothic, commitment, ghosts, possession

 

Author Bios
 

K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.


K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.

 

Giveaway

In the YA Spotlight: A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A Boy Worth Knowing

Author: Jennifer Cosgrove

Publisher:  NineStar Press – SunFire Imprint

Release Date: March 20

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 62200

Genre: Romance, Young Adult, NineStar Press, LGBT, gay, bisexual, romance, young adult, contemporary, paranormal, coming of age, ghosts, family drama, high school, bullying

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Synopsis

Ghosts can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves.

Seventeen-year-old Nate Shaw should know; he’s been talking to them since he was twelve. But they aren’t the only ones making his high school years a living hell. All Nate wants is to keep his secret and keep his head down until he can graduate. That is, until the new boy, James Powell, takes a seat next to him in homeroom. James not only notices him, he manages to work his way into Nate’s life. But James has issues of his own.

Between dead grandmothers and living aunts, Nate has to navigate the fact that he’s falling in love with his only friend, all while getting advice from the most unusual places.

Ghosts, bullies, first love: it’s a lot to deal with when you’re just trying to survive senior year.

Excerpt

A Boy Worth Knowing
Jennifer Cosgrove © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I loved autumn mornings.

The October air was just cold enough to set my lungs on fire, my breath visible in clouds of condensation, forcing all of the crap clogging up my head into the recycle bin. Bonus, I could pretend I was a dragon. Nothing could touch me; my morning run made everything go away, lost in miles at a time. Down an isolated country road.

Everything changed when I was twelve, and not for the better. That was when I started running. Five years of road I’d put behind me. My mom worried about me the first time I took off alone. Well, when she used to worry about me. I wished she was more worried about the reason I was running instead of the fact I was doing it down an empty road.

I turned the corner about a mile after leaving home, and that was when I saw him. Samuel was always lurking among the sunken headstones. Most people had no clue there used to be a cemetery out there. Looking closely, some of the stones that made up the foundation of the chapel could still be seen. No one else ever paid that much attention to it. Samuel glared at me as I got closer. He was a surly one.

My life was like the horror movies I loved. I talked to the dead. Well, technically dead. They were really spirits, or whatever. Whatever was left behind when people died. And they talked to me, for some reason. There was nothing like sitting in math class and having a ghost whisper in my ear while trying to take notes.

It happened all the damn time. I didn’t know how to handle it at first. And no one wanted to hang out with the crazy kid in the back of the room, muttering away to himself. I got used to it. Really. And the lack of a social life helped me get all of my homework done on time; all of the teachers loved me. That was good. Talking to ghosts wasn’t all bad.

I waved at Samuel as I ran by the cemetery. He shook a fist at me in return. Samuel wasn’t evil or anything, just grumpy. Couldn’t blame him, though. I looked him up one time and found out he’d died in the late eighteen hundreds. The cause of death on record was a heart attack. But Samuel told me his brother-in-law had poisoned him because he wouldn’t sell him his prize mule. I had no clue what was so special about that mule, but his brother-in-law evidently thought it was worth killing him over. I’d have been pretty surly myself.

Past the forgotten cemetery, a few miles to the McGregor farm, and then I’d swing around for home. Yes, I said McGregor farm. Small-town life— I couldn’t have made this stuff up if I’d tried.

There was another house just past the farm where I had to watch out for their beast of a dog. Dogs weren’t huge fans of mine. My Nana had a theory they could sense a bit of whatever it was that let us chat with those who’d “passed on.” I had no idea how that was even possible, but cats loved me, so yay.

Speaking of which, Aunt Susan’s overly fluffy cat waited by our mailbox. Arthur did that every time I went out for a run. He would sit there and then fall in behind to follow up the driveway until we got to the house. Then, it was a shady spot on the porch in the summer or, if it was cold like that day, into the house in front of the fireplace. I loved predictability.

The house used to be my grandmother’s. It was a standard farmhouse, old and creaky just like dozens more all around us, and it could have stood a little paint. But we called it home, and we liked it. It became Aunt Susan’s home. It had been left to her after Nana died, since my mom already owned one. It was a little out of the way and a long drive to the hospital where my aunt worked. But it was paid for, and that meant a lot.

I had to be quiet going in because Aunt Susan was not a morning person, and the floor squeaked just inside the back door. I was very much a morning person, and I followed the same routine each school or work day. Flipping on the coffee maker, I headed to my room to get ready for school. I got the shower running, since it took a while to heat up in an old farmhouse, and took a sniff to make sure a shower was actually necessary. Oh, yeah. I was gross.

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Meet the Author

Jennifer has always been a voracious reader and a well-established geek from an early age. She loves comics, movies, and anything that tells a compelling story.

When not writing, she likes knitting, dissecting/arguing about movies with her husband, and enjoying the general chaos that comes with having kids.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

Tour Schedule

3/20 – My Fiction Nook

3/20 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/20 – Just Love

3/21 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/21 – Diverse Reader

3/21 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/22 – V’s Reads

3/22 – Molly Lolly

3/22 – MM Good Book Reviews

3/23 – Liz’s Reading Life

3/23 – Stories That Make You Smile

3/23 – Dog-Eared Daydreams

3/24 – Bayou Book Junkie

3/24 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

3/24 – Love Bytes Reviews

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Rock n Rock and Ghostly Love? Check out Rock N Soul by Lauren Sattersby & Get a Inside look at the Inspiration (guest post and giveaway)

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Rock N Soul by Lauren Sattersby
Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

Hi, I’m Lauren Sattersby, and this is the blog tour for my very first novel, Rock N Soul! I’ll be featured on various blogs over the course of the tour, and I’ll be sharing deleted scenes, playlists, answers to questions, and some of my thoughts on what it’s like to write a ghost story and make it both hot and romantic. Comment on each spot to be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift card to buy some books from Riptide Publishing!

One of the things I always love to know about the authors I follow and the novels I read is the answer to the burning question: “So what did you listen to while you were writing this story?”

For me, the answer is always “absolutely nothing,” because I can’t write at all while there’s music playing—I find it distracting and I end up focusing on the music more than the words I’m trying to put on the page. But in the moments between the actual writing bursts, I listened to a lot of different kinds of music, ranging from metal to classic rock to punk and all the way down to fluffy pop music that Chris and Tyler would be ashamed of me for. But don’t let their “super-cool rock music fan” personas fool you—these boys got all weepy in my head over some really sappy stuff!

So here’s what inspired me while working on Rock N Soul:

  • “Lithium” by Nirvana—Tyler’s not actually hallucinating Chris or going crazy, but I imagine that this would be the song he’d be singing in his head during the occasional moments early in the story when he doubts his sanity.
  • “Straightjacket Supermodel” by Eve to Adam—If you want to know what I imagine Incite the Masses sounds like, this is it.
  • “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse—This might be a little “on the nose” as the boys would say, but it fits Chris to a T anyway.
  • “Sparks Fly” by Taylor Swift—Tyler and Chris are both rock fans so they would never admit that they like this song. But deep down… they do.
  • “Do I Wanna Know?” by Arctic Monkeys—The theme song of the confused “oh, shit, I might be in love with this guy” portion of the novel.
  • “Superhero” by Jane’s Addiction—Because Tyler and Chris do need each other desperately, and they both have very strong personalities.
  • “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams—For the moments when Chris got all nostalgic about his past, his family, his band, and his music.
  • “Statues of Ourselves” by Semi Precious Weapons—It’s a song about not caring about what’s expected of you and making your own story, and Tyler and Chris definitely do this!
  • “Rockstar 101” by Rihanna—For obvious reasons. I mean, Chris doesn’t wear high heels or anything, but he still just oozes sex appeal so it still works!
  • “Red” by Taylor Swift—I imagine this is how Tyler felt when he thought Chris might not be around anymore. Plus it mentions Maseratis!
  • “Immortal” by Eve to Adam—This would be the song that Incite the Masses would write about Chris after his death, and the new bassist would hate it.
  • “Save Rock and Roll” by Fall Out Boy—If someone made a movie of Rock N Soul, I’d want this to play over the end credits!

About Rock N Soul

I’m Tyler Lindsey, and until recently, I had an okay apartment, an okay girlfriend, and an okay job as a bellboy at a respectable Boston hotel. Then rock star Chris Raiden died right before I brought his room service—stiffing me on the tip, by the way—and my life went to hell. My fifteen minutes of fame was more like five seconds, and my girlfriend left me in disgust.

But even worse—Chris is haunting me. Not the room where he died, like a normal ghost. No, somehow he’s stuck to me and is insisting on taking care of a bunch of unfinished business in California. So now I have to traipse across the country with the world’s most narcissistic ghost.

But . . . I keep having these weird thoughts. Thoughts about how much I like the way he makes me laugh. Thoughts where I kind of want to kiss the emo-narcissist, even though he’s a ghost and an asshole and I can’t touch him anyway. And even if I could, what will happen when he finishes his business and nothing’s keeping him here anymore?

About Lauren Sattersby

Lauren Sattersby works as a budget manager by day, but while she’s at her desk mindlessly crunching numbers, it’s a good bet that she’s also writing M/M romance in her head and counting the minutes until she can get home and write it all down. She is a grammar enthusiast, which is why she has a Master’s degree in technical writing, but that tends to scare friends away so she keeps that to herself.

Lauren lives in Wisconsin with her partner and their three terrible cats. She’s a recent transplant from a thousand miles further south, so she still gets crazy excited about snow. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found playing video games or scouring the countryside looking for interesting birds.

Connect with Lauren:

Website: laurensattersby.com
Facebook: facebook.com/laurensattersby
Twitter: @LaurenSattersby
Tumblr: laurensattersby.tumblr.com
Email: laurensattersby@gmail.com

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Rock N Soul, Lauren is giving away $25 in Riptide credit! Your first comment at each stop on this tour enters you in the drawing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 23, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. Entries. Follow the tour for more opportunities to enter the giveaway! Don’t forget to leave your email or method of contact so Riptide can reach you if you win!

Review: Ghosts of Bourbon Street by Rowan Speedwell

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Ghosts of Bourbon StreetPaul Thibodeaux is stuck, his life in stasis and he doesn’t know how to break out of the funk he is in.  Paul spends his nights bar-tending at the New Orleans family owned and run gay bar and his spare time reading or picking up one night stands.  Increasingly those anonymous “dates” are preceded by an enormous amount of alcohol and followed by a morning’s worth of recovery.  And although Jean-Thom’s, his bar, features male strippers, Paul has never looked beyond their feet, preferring to stay isolated in his self imposed shell to his brother and friend’s concern.

The building that houses both the bar and the family apartments is full of whispers and faint sounds that wake Paul in the night and kept him company as a child.  And although Paul’s adult self has closed himself off, they still linger and watch over him.  When one of the bar’s dancer’s finds his way into the garden behind the bar, it signals a change in both their lives that neither either expected but  both desperately need.

New Orleans is such a unique and rich setting for a story.  Full of history and charm, music and life spill over the streets into the buildings and gardens that are the old section of the city.  New Orleans’s colorful past and architecture calls out for a supernatural treatment and Rowen Speedwell answers with her short story Ghosts of Bourbon Street.  

There is so much I enjoyed about this story.  Speedwell’s characters are well drawn, especially Paul Thibodeaux, a young man who loses himself in books and drink rather than face life and his future.  We find him at a time when Paul must either move forward or be lost to alcohol.  We are given just enough background on Paul to help us understand what brought him to this  moment.  His efforts at college and the manner in which the character fell into his current situation make Paul is a totally believable character.  The same goes for Michael, the dancer, with his own set of problems and decisions to make.  I thought his character had some really lovely touches, starting with his beautifully pedicured feet, the first thing that Paul recognizes about him.

Ghosts and New Orleans go together like bourbon and water so putting them together in a story just doubles the pleasure for a reader.  I loved the ghosts Speedwell has created for her story. I only wish we had gotten not only more appearances by them but a better telling of the ghostly history and connections to the family.  The gay bar, Jean-Thom’s, is worthy of its own story since Speedwell tells us that it has been a gay bar since it first opened.  Each dancer is surely worthy of their own story and it would make a delightful series.

The connection here between Paul and Michael, such as it is, is too rushed for me to call it a romance.  One night, one sexual, emotional connection, and then perhaps a romance.  This is definitely a story full of possibilities instead of finalities, which realistically is the way to go considering the length of the story.  Could this story have used more length to infuse time and backstory to the characters?  Certainly but the flavor and supernatural air of Ghosts of Bourbon Street make this a story to recommend.

Cover by Jared Rackler certainly conveys the spooky charm of the city and the story.  Well done.

Book Details:

ebook, 73 pages
Published November 29th 2013 by MLR Press
edition language English

Wild Onions Guest Blog with Author Sarah Black

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is welcoming Sarah Black this week to talk about her latest two releases Wild Onions and The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari.  In today’s post, the author talks about her love for Idaho, the setting for Wild Onions.

During this four day Sarah Black event, we will be giving away one copy of The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari to one lucky person who comments on any Sarah Black blog from10/22 to 10/26 with the winner to be announced on Saturday.   Visit

Leave a comment below.

Falling in Love with Idaho: An Illustrated Adventure by Sarah Black

A few years ago, on one of my periodic urges to explore the world, I took a locum job as the Nurse Practitioner at a small clinic in an Athabascan village in Alaska. The village was on the Yukon, about 130 air miles from Fairbanks. We moved in February, and all I will say about that is if you are going to move to Alaska, consider waiting until the summer. On the positive side, my son got to experience the joy of having his boogers freeze at forty below zero, which is the sort of thing boys love and moms will never understand.

In July, I bought a truck in Fairbanks and we left, (I might say ‘fled’ if I was being very honest) driving back to America on the ALCAN Highway. Since I had no intention of ever returning to Alaska, we took the opportunity to visit the National Parks. It is my avowed intention of visiting all of America’s National Parks in my lifetime. Except the Everglades, because I missed my chance and I’m not going back to Florida. That story for another time.

Here’s my baby on our first trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, my favorite of the National Parks, wearing my college sweatshirt!SB -James at North Run Grand Canyon

Anyway, we had a very good time visiting gorgeous Denali and Kenai and Katmai and staring a glacier in the face; I couldn’t help but wonder if they would still be around in another fifty years. The scenery was gorgeous, but we didn’t see any wildlife. My only near miss with a bear was actually a hiker, sleeping in the grass, who popped up so suddenly I thought he was a bear and I nearly keeled over in shock. Also a flasher at the Grizzly Café outside Denali who looked like Santa, but I’m not sure if he was an intentional flasher, or if he just forgot both his underwear and zipper. Either way I classified him as wildlife.

One of the glaciers in Kenai Fjords:
SB Alaska Glacier 2
After Flasher-Santa, I said, screw it, let’s head to Canada. Almost as soon as we crossed the border, we found all the wildlife. I don’t know why the eagles and bears and wolves were in Canada- perhaps the IRS turned their eye on them and they sought asylum? Either way, we drove slowly, and the bears ambled across the road, babies bouncing behind, and my kid stared at them out the window and said, ‘they look just like they do in the pictures!’ And that was my exact thought as well.SB JamesGlacierNatnPark002_zps00698238

We crossed the border with the US at Glacier National Park in Montana, and immediately had a lecture about bear safety. I tried to tell the Ranger the bears were all up in Canada, but he doubted my theory about the wildlife moving north. My son adores Park Rangers and always has many questions for them.

He takes their rules, usually posted near the bathrooms, for gospel and we always follow the safety rules to the letter. Which is why we had our toothbrushes in plastic bags, and locked in the truck. Because bears can smell Crest. We ate our hotdogs and marshmallows and then lay in a very small tent, and SB Glacier Park with boatsI stayed awake all night, listening for the grunt and rasp of ursine breathing through very thin nylon. The bighorn sheep were crawling all over the mountains, the lakes and rivers were icy cold, and we experienced the terror and delight of Going to the Sun Road.

After all this fun, I told the kid we needed to head on to Boise, where I had received a job offer. Frankly I was exhausted by all the adventure.

So we started driving through Montana, heading to Idaho.

The Northern Rockies are like nothing I’d even seen before. Huge, stark, forbidding, but sort of protective, too. The valleys were encircled, and the mountains were big andSB Northern Rockies strong, and I was safe there, safe surrounded by these old grandfathers. It was a

strange feeling. I was used to being the tough one, strong myself, taking care of everyone, and in these mountains, I felt like they were watching out for me. I was astounded. Astounded and so relieved I felt like weeping.

The rivers are not like the rivers I’d grown up with back east. These rivers are noisy, muscular, tumbling and roaring. Idaho has a masculine spirit, the landscape strong and tough and silent as a cowboy. No wonder I fell in love! And the people are like the landscape—tough and still, very strong, but with hearts as big as the mountains.

SB Salmon River #6

These are the Grand Tetons. The French fur trappers in the mountains called them Les Tois Tetons, which means, of course, The Three Breasts. What did I say about the masculine spirit? Some historians suggest the mountains were named for the Teton Sioux. There were many Native tribes in this area, Bannock, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Sioux, Blackfoot. I used the past tense just then, but small groups of Bannock and Arapahoe still live in these mountains. I’ve always been fond of the Blackfoot, since they were the only tribe to try and ambush Louis and Clark.

SB Grand Tetons
When I first moved out to Navajo country to work, I took my usual view of the world, and since I like to listen to people talk, found myself hearing really different perspectives on things. I worked at a tribal boarding school, and I heard a couple of the teachers talking about what they were going to do to teach Lewis and Clark’s trip west. One of the teachers just shook his head, said, “Those bastards.”SB Idaho Lewis and Clark Trail
I’ve always been a bit of a Corps of Discovery nerd. This was the first time I’d heard an opinion from the other side! This is just off of the Lewis and Clark Trail through the Northern Rockies.

Buy Link to Wild Onions:HERE IT IS!

Review of Wild Onions

Last Day at GRL and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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I am writing this in advance as today is my last day at GRL in Atlanta and my travel day home.  I hope I will have had time to post several pics and blogs of the event as it happened.  If, as I predict, not, then a followup blog will be coming shortly.

At any rate, it is going to be a great week here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Sarah Black is stopping by to discuss her latest release,, The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari, the sequel to The General and The Horse-Lord, a favorite of mine.  If you enjoy great military characters written realistically and grounded deeply in the Marine ethos, then these stories are for you.

Also reviewed this week is her outstanding supernatural story, Wild Onion.  Sarah Black donated the proceeds of this story to her local food bank, a wonderful endeavor and a much needed one.  Anne Tenino is back with more of her boys from Alpha Theta Gamma in Good Boy and I have new stories hee by A.R. Moler and Jameson Dash.  Really there is something for everyone.

Here is the schedule for the week ahead:

Monday, Oct. 21:       Burning Now by A.R. Moler

Tuesday, Oct. 22:       Home Team by Jameson Dash

Wed., Oct. 23:             Wild Onions by Sarah Black

Thurs., Oct. 24:          Good Boy by Anne Tenino

Friday, Oct. 25:          Sarah Black Guest Blog and Book Giveaway

Sat., Oct., 26:             The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari by Sarah Black

Review of Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane

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Rating: 4. 5 stars

Gregorio “Ori” Reyes has just arrived home in Hawaii after doing time in Leavenworth and given a dishonorable discharge from the Army for his crime.  In disgrace with his military oriented family and with dwindling funds in his pocket, Ori has come home for only one reason.  Kalani, his boyhood friend, the reason he joined the Army and the only man he has ever loved.  Thoughts of Kalani were his constant companions in Iraq and his images haunted Ori’s nights in Leavenworth.  Everywhere Ori looks Kalani appears, which is crazy.  Because Kalani is lying comatose in a hospital bed on Honolulu.  Kalani had been attacked by a gang of men and left for dead while Ori had been in prison.  And now feeling guilty and grief stricken, Ori has returned to Kalani too late to tell him how much he loves him.  Or so Ori thinks.

After one of his visits to Kalani’s bedside, Ori’s visit to a gay bar ends with him taking a guy home.  As things heat up, a loud noise stops the proceedings and Kalani appears.  Or actually Kalani’s spirit appears although he feels so very real to Ori.  While his broken body remains in the hospital, Kalani visits Ori, the man Kalani has loved even if he wasn’t ready to accept that it was romantic love.  Unsure why Kalani is able to physically appear to Ori, neither man wants to question the miracle until Kalani starts getting attacked in the spirit world.  Together Ori and Kalani must explore the secrets of Kalani’s past and venture forward into Hawaii’s ghost world to set Kalani free, either to return to his body or join his ancestors in the clouds.  Something must be done quickly or Kalani will be condemned to everlasting pain in between.

Hawaiian Gothic is an remarkable story.  From the start, authors Belleau and Vane submerge us in the Hawaiian culture beginning with the language of the islands flowing throughout the dialog.  It mingles effortlessly as one would expect from a local speaker. Belleau and Vane actually created an Hawaiian Gothic glossary of Native Hawaiian and Hawaiian pidgin terms used in the story.  It can be found here. And there’s the locations. The Hawaiian settings are so authentically rendered that I would think that the authors are natives themselves, right down to hidden beaches and non-touristy sites.  I almost felt like I had to wipe the sand off my feet at times so complete was my immersion in the islands.

The next outstanding elements in the book are the Hawaiian creationist myths and beliefs that swirled and rolled like the waves of the ocean around all the characters of the story, especially the main ones of Ori and Kalani.  Here the Hawaiian myths rise up and become real, able to rip one apart like the flashing teeth of a shark or the mandibles of a caterpillar or sooth like the lomilomi.  Before I started this book I was only familiar with one of the Hawaiian creation myths.  By the end, I was seeking out more resources so fantastic, so addictive did the Hawaiian gods and stories become.  Great job by the authors in seamlessly fusing mythic and contemporary worlds so that both stood on equal footing with the reader as far as realism and tone. The authors almost did too good a job with their descriptions so frightening were the keuwas, Hawaiian dead hungry souls, that the very thought of them lingered on into my nightmares that night.

Belleau and Vane give us great characters to inhabit a great story.  Ori is especially believable.  He is a former Army Ranger and MMA fighter (that’s mixed martial arts for those of you unfamiliar with the MMA) who has completed two tours of duty in Iraq.  He is a victim of PTSD, ashamed of his discharge, isolated from his family. He feels he has little future and helpless, especially with Kalani comotose.  He hid his love for Kalani and ran from him rather than force Kalani to face it for what it was -romantic love. It was so easy to empathize with Ori and I became invested in his character early on. Kalani is a little more of a mystery as the book starts and then the reader becomes more familiar with him as Ori’s memories of their shared past surface and you come to love him as much as Ori does.  All the secondary characters are as fully realized as Ori and Kalani, giving the story the depth it needs with all its complicated layers of flashbacks, memories and spirit worlds.

So why not give this story 5 stars?  Well, it certainly came close and I am still debating the rating even now.  But I am still quibbling over two things.  One concern is an m/f/m element here that was required for the exposition of a plot point. But for me its extended narrative went on too long and removed us from the main storyline unnecessarily. Plus I know that for some readers any m/m/f or combination thereof is not something they want to see in their m/m fiction. And usually I would agree with them.  But I absolutely understood its inclusion by the authors here.  My second quibble involves the numerous flashbacks used by the authors to highlight certain elements of their story.  Did it work well in most instances? Yes.  Most of the time it was a satisfactory method to better understand the main characters pov and history.  But then its continued use and varied time frames (1988, 2004, 2010, 2009, etc) started to become a little irritating and less effective, distracting rather than contributing to a captivating and addictive storyline.  And trust me, this is such a great story that nothing should ever divert the reader away from  the saga at hand.

So pick up Hawaiian Gothic and visit the islands. Whether you be Malahini or Kama’aina, this story will have you ohana in no time.  Make no mistake Hawaiian Gothic is da kine or the best in every way.  Aloha!

Cover.  I love this cover by artist April Martinez.  Its beautiful from its model to Hawaiian cloth.  Perfect for the story.

Review of A Self Portrait by J.P. Bowie

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Rating: 3.75 stars

Artist Peter Brandon is getting ready to have old friends visit for the weekend and is a little irritated that his partner, Jeff Stevens has scheduled a meeting in L. A. about a case at the same time he was hoping to have help with the preparations. As it gets closer for Jeff to leave, Peter starts having feelings of dread, twinges of intuition that have always been right in the past.  But Jeff goes anyway promising to be back in the evening. When Jeff doesn’t arrive home as planned and doesn’t answer Peter’s phone calls,  Peter knows that something terrible has happened. A vision shows him Jeff, hurt, bound and gagged and Peter  jumps into action, determined to rescue Jeff at any cost. And one of the people Peter counts on to help him is none other than the spirit of his dead lover, Phillip.

Peter finds out that Jeff had been pulled into a case involving a Satanic cult whose leader, Lefevre, has followers everywhere and the LA police have no leads on Jeff’s location.  As Peter and Jeff’s friends gather round to help in the search, Peter heads out with only Phillip as his guide. When Lefevre finds out about Phillip’s ability to aid Peter from beyond the grave, he plans to acquire the spirit and kill all who stands in his way.

In my opinion, A Self Portrait is really two separate books attached loosely two thirds of the way into the plot.  While I enjoyed each separately, I don’t that it worked successfully fused together.  The first two thirds of the book happens when Peter falls unconscious after hearing the news of Jeff’s disappearance. During this state, he remembers his love affair with Phillip from beginning at age 15 to the attack that killed Phillip and severely injured Peter to the point he remained in a coma for 3 years.  I loved their story although Phillip’s sheer perfection got on my nerves a bit. While I can see the memory of a deceased loved one become burnished over time so that their imperfections vanish, I don’t think that was the case here.  I just wish Bowie had Phillip gnaw on a cuticle or two, something to humanize Phillip more for the reader.  Peter is far more the believable human being here, with his flaws and imperfections front and center, I certainly liked Peter more.  And I was genuinely upset when the couple was attacked and devastated when Peter woke alone in the hospital.  That said, I also saw the attack coming, much like watching one of those college kids go down into the basement in Scary Movie.

The remaining third of the book deals with Peter, his visions, and his attempts to locate Jeff before they are all killed in a satanic ritual.  Again, Bowie built the reader’s apprehension and suspense bit by bit, so much so that in parts I was on the edge of my chair reading.  Very skillfully executed indeed.  The one thing that threw me off balance was Lefevre turning out to have real powers as opposed to being just another bogus whackjob with pretensions to evil.  J.P. Bowie never built a case for that happening so it didn’t seam to fit in with the rest of the story.  I did like the idea of Phillip’s spirit assisting Peter but wish we had a more solid base for all the actions of the last act, especially when the psychic powers become all important to the plot and its resolution. As I said I think that there are two successful books here, I just am not sure that A Self Portrait contains one.  I liked the book (with reservations), and I like the author.  If you find my quibbles palatable, then I recommend this book to you.

Cover.  This is not the cover on my book. The cover artist for that particular cover is Deana Jamroz.  But both covers have the same elements and work for the story