New Release Book Blitz for Astray (Wavesongs #1) by Elvira Bell (excerpt and giveaway)


Title:  Astray

Series: Wavesongs #1

Author: Elvira Bell

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 99,500 words

Genre: Romance, Historical fiction, LGBT, M/M, Coming of age, Pirates, Age gap

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Nick Andrews has grown up in poverty in a tiny village. All his life he’s been told that he’s useless. After getting one scolding too many he decides to go far away, off to sea. But his experience as a farmhand has done little to prepare him for the hardships of a sailor’s life.

When his ship is attacked by pirates, Nick’s life is miraculously spared by the notorious pirate captain, Christopher Hart—a man in charge of a crew feared for their brutality. Nick is forced to join the pirates, and he dreads finding out for what reason the captain has saved him.

But Hart is nothing like his reputation suggests, and Nick soon finds himself entangled in a relationship that could endanger both their lives. Unless Nick can help Hart on his quest to find a long lost treasure, their forbidden love may tear his new life apart.

Warning: This book ends with a cliffhanger, and it does not have a happy ending. The series as a whole will have a HEA ending.

Content note: This book contains dark themes and depictions of torture, murder, and rape.


Nick enters the cabin to find Hart sitting at the table. A book is open in front of him. Red-tinted sunlight floods the windows, casting a burnt orange glow over his hair and coat. He doesn’t look up as Nick steps inside and closes the door behind him.

“What did you want with me, sir?”

Hart sighs. Gives Nick a brief glance. “Ah, yes. My boots need a cleaning. Over there.” He points to the boots, neatly placed next to the door. “You should find what you need in that chest opposite them.”

Nick glances at the clogs on his own feet. Hart has not just one pair of footwear, but two—on his feet instead of the jackboots are black leather shoes. Sinking down to his knees, Nick gets to work. He grabs one of the boots, reaching for the cloth he’s found. His stomach clenches. All he can think of is that pool of blood around Stubbs’ head. He worries that Hart’s soles will be red, stained with the cabin boy’s blood. Thankfully, they aren’t. In fact, there’s not a trace of blood on them—almost as if they have been cleaned before.

Nick glances over to Hart. Did he clean his own boots before calling Nick in here? And if so, why? It makes no sense that he has wiped away the blood himself, when he could have made Nick do it.

Hart sighs and scribbles in the book. It’s unnerving to be alone with him and Nick feels relief surge through him when both boots are spotless and shiny.

“All done, sir.” He puts the boots back by the wall and stands up, turning to face Hart again.

The Captain doesn’t look at him. “Thank you.” Outside the window, the glowing sun has turned to just a sliver on the horizon. “That will be all.”

Available to purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m fiction with a touch of romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail


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A MelanieM Review: The Valet by S.J. Foxx


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

After scandalising his family name, wealthy brat Hugo is kicked out of his parent’s home in NYC, and tossed into the English countryside. There, he must live with his extended family and learn what it means to be a “gentleman,” or be cut off and left without his inheritance.

Brattish, reckless, and out of control, it seems that Hugo may never learn his manners. That is, until he meets his match: a stoic, no-nonsense valet, Sebastian.

Hugo and Sebastian are swept up in a forbidden fling, and they play a game of power.

Can Sebastian get a handle on his master? Or will Hugo’s foolishness leave him penniless?

I enjoy historical fiction and that includes historical romance.  I love it when the author get an era factually correct and then draws me into it, making the times and characters come alive for me.  And I think for the most part S.J. Foxx did that in The Valet.  Set in 1900’s England,  Foxx gives you a very “Upstairs, Downstairs” world of the very rich in England into which tumbles an American cousin called Hugo.

Hugo is the very essence of entitlement and selfishness.  His deeds back home have gotten him banished to England and only if he “turns into an English gentleman”, leaving his caddish ways behind can he hope to return home and claim his own wealth.  Foxx does a great job in giving us Huge the Brat supreme, which he is for most of the story. Too much in my estimation because I absolutely disliked this character.  His personality and likability was so low that I had trouble seeing what attracted Sebastian to him.  If the author had made Hugo Sebastian’s ticket out of England instead of there being an actual emotional tie this book would have made far more sense to me.

So throwing the romance aspect aside because that didn’t work for me, what I thought was interesting (and wished had been enlarged) was “downstairs” or working person element here, including the one that shows  up towards the end of the story.  The imbalance of power and lack of rights is clearly demonstrated here.  Status and money rule and its impact on the lives is reflected accurately in this story.  However, I felt about the romance, this element of The Valet is well done and the writing carries with it emotional heft.

If you like historical fiction, then you might like The Valet as an addition to the stories you have read so far.  I thought the writing was well done, and the author’s take on the times clear and concise.

Cover art by Natasha Snow suits the story well.

Sales Links: 

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

Book Details:

Published October 30th 2017 by NineStar Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Christopher Wild by Kathe Koja


Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

“All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.”

Poet, spy, atheist, smoker, badass: Christopher Marlowe loved whom he pleased, said what he thought, wrote plays that turned London upside down (and blazed the trail that Shakespeare followed)—and was killed at 29, in what the government rushed to call a drunken tavern brawl.

But can a voice so passionate ever die?

Kathe Koja’s literary love affair with Christopher Marlowe takes her fiction across genres and in a whole new direction.

​Go wild.

Christopher Wild by Kathe Koja is a book whose writing exemplifies the phrase “too clever by half”.   Divided into sections, the first part of the tale is Christopher Marlowe’s plague ridden England, where he’s an agent during Elizabethan times, writing his plays and spouting off his views about religion. Oh and having copious amounts of dangerous sex, especially with his boy, Rufus.  All told from Marlowe’s perspective in his Elizabethan English language, dense verbiage and all.  If you are a word aficionado and a lover of Marlowe or English major, then this section and story is written with you in mind.  His poetry, his beginnings, a mystery play supposedly written at the behalf of the Secret Service and his death.  It’s all here…in excruciatingly slow, dense language.  As I read, I swear I despaired of ever getting past a certain percentage.

Part of my issue with this is that I connected more with poor Rufus than I did with Marlowe.  And yes, I’m a fan of Shakespeare.  Not that it should have anything to do with it.  It was that nothing served to connect me emotionally to Marlowe the character.  I could look at the writing intellectually and think, ‘clever, very cleverly done’ and admire the narrative style.  Yet all the while bemoaning the fact that I had to drudge through the rest of the story like so much sludge.

The language only changes moderately when Christopher lands in the future. The prose flows in much the same style, however, letting one admire the phrasing, yet still removing the reader from any emotional connections to the storyline. And again, it was so slow going that I  thought I was never, ever going to finish.  Felt like double the length.   War and Peace felt moderately short compared to this at points.

I think with Christopher Wild, it will depend on what you expect out of this story.  If you as a reader are looking for drama and emotional connections, as I was, this is definitely not the story for you.  If on the other hand, you love history, consider this an imaginative exercise in what might have happened to Christopher Marlowe and his literary works and can appreciate over 300 pages done in this style of writing, well, then, this is certainly the story for you.

I don’t know.  I’ll put this away and perhaps, try to tackle it some other time.  But for now I’m onto other lands and escapades!

Cover art is nice.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Hardcover, eBook, 310 pages
Published 2017 by Roadswell Editions
Edition LanguageEnglish

Join Us for the Release Day Blitz for Justin’s Season by S. M. Sawyer (excerpt)


Title:  Justin’s Season

Author: S. M. Sawyer

Publisher: Ninestar Press

Release Date: August 6, 2016 (print), February 29, 2016 (e-book)

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 101,300 words

Genre: New Adult, historical fiction, redemption, destiny, acceptance, sports, coming out, interconnected, small town, flashback, AIDS

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The year is 1988, and Justin Davis, a former nationally recruited football prep star, awakens from twelve years of masking his shame with drugs and alcohol to find he has been returned to his former self through what can only be described as a miracle.
Triggered by the confirmation of his closely guarded sexual orientation, his fall from grace of over a decade before sets the stage for his redemption. The fulfillment of his destiny is prompted by Providence and the serendipitous deeds of those who are a part of his new life, as their intertwined lives are likewise impacted. Though his rapid evolvement and acceptance of his homosexuality is countered by setbacks, Justin perseveres and eventually triumphs as fate, he believes, has led him back to the sports arena to recapture past glories.
In a stunning finale, however, he learns his destiny is not what he had envisioned. His calling has been thrust upon him by circumstances beyond his control. Can Justin embrace it and become the man he was always meant to be?


A sliver of light from the early morning sun came through an exposed slit of the basement window blind, creeping its way against the wall until it came to rest upon Justin’s eyes. He lay sleeping in a jumbled mass of musty blankets on an old steel-framed bed. After a few moments of the sun’s focused rays beckoning him to awaken, he flinched and turned his head away, and then rolled onto his left side toward a dark corner in a vain attempt to deny the day’s arrival.

For Justin, it had been another long night, and the reminder of a new day came with a reluctant anticipation akin to that of a prisoner serving a life sentence without a chance for parole. He lay there motionless, holding the sheets close to his chin as he gazed upon an iconic black-and-white poster of James Dean. The actor walked down a puddled street with a cigarette between his lips, hands in his coat pockets, and his collar turned up to keep the cold and drizzle at bay. Marching down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams and into immortality.

Though it had been hanging on the wall for fifteen years, Justin, enjoying a rare and lucid moment of circumspection, studied the poster in silence as if he were looking at it for the first time. You did it right, Mr. Dean, he thought. You died early…frozen in time. Leaving everyone wanting more. Never having to answer for life’s failings.

The unwelcome light from the sun continued to fill the room, exposing the remnants of Justin’s life before the troubles. Dusty citations, press clippings, photographs, scholarship offer letters, and trophies from his high school years. Collected over a decade before, they now served as the remaining threads that connected to past glories.

This is what happens, isn’t it? You peak early and get a little cocky that you’re in control, and instead of leaving on top, you live long enough to mutate into some bad apple that people use to warn their kids. “Don’t get too full of yourself or you’ll turn out like Justin Davis.” That’s right…I’m not remembered for what I was and what I should have been. It’s easier for voyeurs to whisper among themselves about the broken, washed-up, slow-motion train wreck I’ve become—how I let my charmed life slip away.

Justin sat up and swung his legs over as if getting out of bed, but stayed sitting there to give his head time to clear from another all-night bender and to gain a semblance of balance before stepping onto the cold cement floor. His still imposing six-foot-four-inch body, an inch taller than in his high school days, was out of shape and bloated. It served as a metaphor for everything else his life had become, contrary to the Greek god physique he’d had when he was seemingly in total charge of his life and circumstances.

His blond hair was long and greasy, and his face contorted by the miseries of daily self-flagellation through alcohol, drugs, and slovenly habits. His tongue felt thick and dry, and his eyes appeared as if seared on an iron skillet. He did his best to gather whatever strength remained to get up and to live what had become his own recurring Groundhog Day. He wanted water to quench his alcohol-induced thirst and to be bathed by a sympathetic and nonjudgmental geisha, washing away impurities and regret. But again he thought of sleep and of beckoning the dreams to reacquaint him with his previous life. He eased his head onto the pillow with hopes that sleep would allow him to wander back to his senior year in high school—to a time when he was admired by all and treated as the town’s favorite son.

Justin Davis was the class hero and the most likely to succeed. He had excelled at everything—sports, scholastics, popularity—and as the top quarterback recruit in the nation he received offers from scores of college football powerhouses representing the Big Ten and other major conferences. Why then, he continually asked himself, had he let his guard down—putting everything on the line and seeking confirmation from strangers?

Throughout his life he had felt that guardian angels were with him, but they’d abandoned him when he needed them most, so they could steward over someone more deserving…someone who wouldn’t risk all for a taste of what he had been brought up to consider the forbidden fruit. He couldn’t explain it, but life’s confusions made him feel that he no longer fit the role his angels had paved for him. That maybe he’d had a hand in sabotaging it before it went too far; a secret he kept hidden from himself and others with the aid of any mind-numbing substance he could get his hands on.

With his room in the basement of his brother’s home now bathed in full light, Justin drifted back to sleep, and from his sleep he could hear the marching band and cheers from the packed stadium as he led his team, charging onto the field through the gauntlet of cheerleaders. In reliving the moment, he managed a slight smile as his dreams took him back twelve years to the fall of 1976 and the sound of the PA system announcing the starting teams for the state of Ohio’s high school football championship game.

And as the dreams continued and the light of the sun streamed through the basement’s walk-out French door and remaining windows, Justin subconsciously felt a strange and unique sensation upon his dormant soul. The feeling of his angels returning to envelop his body like fresh snow on a blemished landscape—lovingly transforming his unkempt and damaged being. They had come to caress and heal his body and spirit, and renew his faith to trust what lay ahead.


Ninestar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

S. M. Sawyer is a retired military officer. He has also served as a defense contractor and as President for a nationally accredited charity whose mission is to recognize exceptional maritime rescues and assist voluntary search and rescue organizations worldwide. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Natalie. They have five grown children. Justin’s Season is his debut literary effort.

Find S.M. on Facebook or send him an eMail




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Last Day at GRL and the Week Ahead in Reviews


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 Lessons in Power (Cambridge Fellows #4) by Charlie Cochrane


Rating: 5 stars

Cambridge 1907

After the tumultuous doings where Orlando lost his memory albeit temporarily, Drs. Coppersmith and Stewart are now happily ensconced in their newly purchased home, Forsythia Cottage.  But it’s not long before mystery and murder find them again.  Matthew Ainslie, friend and acquaintance (depending upon which of the men you talked to, Orlando never quite forgiving Matthew for his actions on Jersey) has a problem.  An old flame of Matthew’s is accused of murder and Matthew doesn’t believe he did it.

As Matthew lays out the details of the case to them, the murder hits much closer to home than either one of them could have imagined.  The murdered man is none other than one of the boys who sexually abused a very young Jonty over the course of a semester at boarding school.  The news brings memories of the abuse back to Jonty with a vengeance, shattering his carefully fabricated acceptance of those events.  As Jonty withdraws from Orlando and their relationship, a second murder is committed and the other abuser from his past is found dead.  As suspicion falls upon his beloved Dr. Stewart, Orlando and Jonty race to find the murderer and help Jonty finally find some measure of peace with his past.

For me this is a tour de force from Charlie Cochrane.  Lessons in Power still contains dialog that delights with the lightness of Gilbert and Sullivan lyrics and the shear witty remarks of Oscar Wilde.  But the reality of rape and the long term trauma, bitterness and sense of violation that rape victims contend with lives in these pages as well.  And that incongruity serves to highlight the horror and damage done not only to Jonty but other victims of the same sexual violence that seems to know no age or continental restraints.

Threads of Jonty’s abuse have been trickling through the storylines of the previous books in this series.  Thunderstorms leave him scared and shaken into silence until Orlando brings him out of it.  And when asked, Jonty has said that he has told no one the names of his attackers lest his father or Orlando go after them.  But here that abuse and the true torment that Jonty has endured is brought to the front and center of the story.  It is with amazing skill and talent, that Charlie Cochrane never loses the flavor of Edwardian England and its settings in her stories, from the Stewart family castle to the hallowed halls of St. Brides.  Here the sun never sets on England even as Orlando and Jonty deal with the realities of murderers and child abusers.   The author treats all with sensitivity and care even as she made me weep with Jonty and his family.

It took me several books before Jonty and Orlando became near and dear to my heart, so I would recommend that all the books be read in sequence.  Otherwise certain references and characters mentioned here can’t be understood in the context they need to be.  I have come to love all the characters here, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart, Miss Peters, Mr. Wilson, all of them and find I cannot go to long before I need to head off to St. Brides and another mystery with my Cambridge Fellows.  This is a wonderful book in a wonderful series.  Don’t let either of them pass you by.

Cover: I think this cover is perfect.  I love the sepia tones and graphics of the haunted looking young man in the classroom.  I just wish the fonts were solid and one type for ease of reading.

Available from Samhain Publishing, Amazon, and ARE.