In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: If I Ever (Hell or High Water #4) by S.E. Jakes

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If I Ever (Hell or High Water #4) by S.E. Jakes

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

About If I Ever

Some ghosts refuse to stay buried . . .

Prophet and Tom have been through the wringer more times than they can count, both as partners in the field and in life. Yet despite it all, they’ve built something great together. But now they need to protect it again: Prophet’s old nemesis, John Morse, is back and threatening everything he loves.

Prophet is driven enough to take John down alone, and with a chance to do exactly that on the table, he runs with it, risking himself in the process. But trusting Tom to help him is so much more than mission critical.

It’s the final stand, and with Tom and his team behind him, Prophet’s in for the fight of his life. Then a figure from his past goes missing, and the consequence of an old mission rears its head. As complications and destruction mount all around them, getting out alive becomes the most important mission of their lives.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

About Extreme Escapes and Hell or High Water

Extreme Escapes, LTD recruits only the best mercenaries for its black ops missions. Prophet — former SEAL, former CIA, current pain in the ass — has worked there for years, comfortable in his role as a lethal shadow, helping those the government can’t — or won’t — save.

Tom Boudreaux — failed FBI agent, failed sheriff, full-time believer in bad luck — jumps at the chance for salvation offered by EE. He’s eager to feel useful again, even if it means partnering with a man like Prophet, who doesn’t want a partner at all.

But as the two men work through missions that mix their personal lives with their professional ones, the lines between good and evil, friend and foe, and enemy and lover all begin to blur.

The Hell or High Water novels are best enjoyed in series order:

  1. Catch a Ghost
  2. Long Time Gone
  3. Daylight Again

3.5 Not Fade Away

  1. If I Ever

And don’t miss the bonus novellas in the Extreme Escapes universe!

Free Falling  | Dirty Deeds

 

About SE Jakes

SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want in both fiction and real life. She lives in New York with her family, and most days, she can be found happily writing (in bed). No really…

SE Jakes is the alter ego of New York Times bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author Stephanie Tyler.

Connect with SE:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of IF I EVER one lucky person will win an ecopy of Running Wild, a Havoc novel by SE Jakes! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 26, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Jeri Release Day Review: Ten (Love by Numbers #1) by Tia Fielding

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

This is a lovely hurt/comfort story that could have been super angsty given the material, but I don’t think it was.
Makai was exonerated of murder after spending 10 years in prison. He doesn’t want to go home, so he buys a cottage sight unseen in the town where his grandfather once lived and he had spent some time as a child.
Emil is still recovering after a brutal kidnapping 5 years earlier. Because his kidnapping was related to his father’s police work, the story was widespread. But in the little town they live in, the people are very protective of him.
Makai and Emil have two chance meetings and discover they would both like to at least explore more. But these guys are so so broken. Oddly enough they are able to come together and bond over a pregnant cat who adopted Makai as soon as he moved in and a precocious child who is gender fluid.
Makai is a gentle giant who is so attuned to Emil and his problems and wants to just take care of him and respect all of his boundaries. I feel like that a little bit came at the expense of Makai’s own issues. Most of the focus seemed to be on Emil. Which was ok because he seemed more damaged, but at the same time a little more attention could have been spent on Makai.
I absolutely loved Joie/Joy/Joey the gender fluid 5 year old. It was a nice way to introduce an identity we still aren’t seeing a lot of in books. I did notice that when they presented as a girl, the author used female pronouns. But when they presented as a boy they used they/them. That was a bit odd to me.
This story is very much about a relationship and two men coming to terms with not only what happened to each of them, but how to navigate loving someone within the parameters they set for themselves.
I have to say that in a lot of books, there is the conflict and then fairly soon after there is a happily ever after. In this story, this big conflict happens about 3/4 of the way in so then there is still a good amount of story after.
I liked the cover by Garrett Leigh and the feel of it represents Makai well but not really his looks. But it would still draw me in because if conveys the brokenness of the character.

Buy link:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon  

Book Details:
ebook, 218 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleTen
ISBN139781644051177
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/ten-by-tia-fielding-10088-b
SeriesLove by Numbers #1

Kelly Jensen on Behind the Story and her new release ‘Renewing Forever (This Time Forever #2)’ (guest blog and giveaway)

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Renewing Forever (This Time Forever #2) by Kelly Jensen

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: Natasha Snow

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kelly Jensen here today talking about the inspiration behind her new release, Renewing Forever (This Time Forever #2). Welcome, Kelly.

✒︎

Behind the Book by Kelly Jensen

I’m known in author circles for being super organized. I have templates for my outlines, I spreadsheet my revisions, and often write 6000 word character histories. The support documents for every book are indexed and hyperlinked. The bulleting in my outlines often goes four levels deep.

And yet…

My big book of ideas is spread over several notebooks that live in different places throughout my house. That way, if inspiration strikes, I have paper close at hand—which sounds a lot better than I just have notebooks everywhere, in no particular order! The notebooks have snippets of dialogues, entire scenes, outlines, character notes, and plot ideas. And they’re all mixed in together without any sort of indexing.

I usually know which book to reach for (or go hunting for) when I want to look something up, though, and I never mind having to flip through the notes for other projects along the way. Sometimes another idea will catch me, and I can make more notes, or sometimes one of my ideas leaps off the page and says, “Write me!”

The ideas for Renewing Forever came from two different notebooks. One had a few notes about Frank, jotted down after a beta reader for Building Forever asked if Frank’s book would be next. I had no plans to write a series, but I wrote the idea down, anyway, and tucked it away.

In another notebook, I had a brief outline for a story about a guy who was “camping out” in a dilapidated resort. About five years ago, we took a road trip to New Orleans and stayed at a quaint family resort in Tennessee. The guy manning the desk had the most amazing accent—and he was very cute! I immediately got an idea for a story involving someone trying to revitalize a rundown family resort, and maybe facing challenges from a local developer who wanted the land.

I’m not quite sure how these two ideas got combined? I think it was mostly a matter of me hunting through my notebooks for a story idea that would suit Frank. I like using and combining ideas I already have—it gives me a sense of accomplishment to cross something off what is probably a never ending list.

I quickly decided to switch up the imagined roles: Frank would be the one to inherit the resort and he’d return “home” to find someone living in one of the guest cottages. Then I decided to complicate everything by giving Frankie and Tommy a shared history—one where they’d been each other’s best friend and first love.

What I didn’t realize while plotting was quite how emotional this book would be to write. I’m reasonably emotional anyway—for me, watching the television show “This Is Us” is like combining a wedding, a funeral, and the birth of a new baby every week. I’m always completely drained afterward! So I often get a little weepy (sometimes a little sobby) while writing my guys. This book wrecked me in a lot of ways. Tom’s self-sabotaging self-reliance (or hubris), and Frank’s longing. Oh my goodness, the longing. He never got over Tom and likely never would have.

What I also wanted to do with this book was write a character (Tom) whose bisexuality was integral and almost never discussed. I didn’t want this story to be about sexuality. I wanted it to be about rekindling lost love—and holding on to something you never really let go of.

After all of this, I devised relatively simple plot: should they or shouldn’t they renovate the resort? Really, the plot is just a reflection of the bigger question in this novel: should they or shouldn’t they repair their friendship and love? The obstacles to both are Tom’s inability to ask for help—and the fact he’s not so slowly sliding down the financial gurgler—and Frank’s dissatisfaction with his current career, and to a smaller extent, his feelings regarding his best friend, Simon, having found The One. Frank thinks he’s getting over a crush on Simon, and he is… sort of. What he’s really doing is mourning The One who got away. The one he let go.

So there is a lot of introspection and reevaluation going on, and in keeping with the themes of this series, scenes that highlight the importance of family (blood and found), friendships, and lots of more lighthearted moments where Frank and Tom explore small town happenings and decide whether or not they’re going to renew their forever.

I hope you enjoy Frank and Tom’s story. It’s not quite as upbeat as the one I wrote for Simon and Charlie, but all of my characters are different, and therefore they require different stories. I love the one I wrote for Frank and Tom. It’s one to cherish, and one that still makes me misty eyed, all these months later.

 

Renewing Forever is the second of a series of standalone novels focused on older characters who think love has passed them by. Frank and Tom’s story is a true second chance romance, reuniting childhood friends and first loves separated by an argument and thirty years of misunderstanding. I hope you enjoy reading about their renewed friendship and their plans for forever.

 

About Renewing Forever

A neglected resort, a lost chance at love, and one last chance to renew forever.

Frankie and Tommy once dreamed of traveling the world together. But when seventeen-year-old Frank kissed Tom, their plans ended with a punch to the jaw and Frank leaving town without looking back. Thirty years later, Frank’s successful career as a journalist is interrupted by his uncle’s death and the question of his inheritance—the family resort where his childhood dreams were built. When he returns to the Pocono Mountains, however, he finds a dilapidated lodge and Tommy, the boy he never forgot.

Tom’s been keeping the resort together with spit and glue while caring for Frank’s uncle, Robert—a man he considered father, mentor, and friend—and his aged mother, who he refuses to leave behind. Now Robert is gone, taking Tom’s job with him. And Frank is on the doorstep, wanting to know why Tom is still there and why the old lodge is falling apart.

But before they can rebuild the resort, they’ll have to rebuild their friendship. Only then can they renew the forever they planned all those years ago.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

 

About the This Time Forever Series

Small towns and second chances.

Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.

This time it’s forever.

This series includes:

  1. Building Forever — releasing October 15, available now!
  2. Renewing Forever — releasing November 12, available for preorder!
  3. Chasing Forever — releasing December 10, available soon!

About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly:

 


Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Renewing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 17, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Lucy Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Isaac really drew the short straw in the family lottery.  He has a wonderful sister, Sue, and bigoted, selfish and homophobic parents.  They constantly barrage Isaac and Sue with demands to get a partner, marry and produce grandchildren.  Since they don’t appreciate or really seem to love their own children, the odds of them being any better with grandchildren is low. Isaac always tries to see the best of them.  “They lived in a closed-off little world, but they weren’t bad people.  Or rather, I liked to think they weren’t.”  Isaac is very firmly in the closet with his parents, not wanting to lose  his family. Luckily Isaac has an amazing group of friends who support and love him.

To combat this parental nightmare one Christmas, Sue brings a fake boyfriend, Logan.  Logan is tattooed, pierced and definitely puts on a bad-boy wastrel attitude.  Of course, Isaac is seriously attracted but doesn’t realize the boyfriend is fake.  So when Logan hits on him in the hallway, he is aroused and appalled.  Being a good brother, he hides in the bathroom to text Sue a warning, which Sue pushes off.  In a phone call, Sue tells Isaac about the fake, and gives her go-ahead for Issac to date Logan.  Since Isaac didn’t realize Sue even knew he was gay, he is shocked.  “So, Isaac, I love you and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay.  If you are, I want you to know that I’m a safe space.”  Sue is a great sister.

So Isaac does call Logan and off on a date they go.  Isaac is less the buttoned down prep he presents for his parents and more his hoodie and jeans wearing, tattooed and pierced real self.  Logan is also his real self, a graphic designer who owns his own company.  Since Logan was at Christmas he knows Isaac isn’t out and asks, “So no plans to tell them?”  Isaac replies that he won’t tell them until there is a significant other important enough to come out for.

As Logan and Isaac begin dating, they get to know each other, they take things pretty slow and talk.  I liked that about them.  Isaac meets Logan’s chosen family of friends (and this concept is a big one through the story).  Isaac doesn’t warm up to Logan’s friends, he always feels like an outsider and as if they don’t like him.  He takes this as proof that friends aren’t your family, because they could leave at any time.  He believes you only get one shot at family, even if they are horrible, and they are connected to you in a way no one else can be, “They’ve been with you from the beginning, for better or worse.”  Get a clue, Isaac!  When his amazing friends try to remind him they love him and they are his family, he upsets them.  “You have us.” “Yeah, but you’re not family.”  He hurts his friends so much with that, and he continues to do so, not understanding their point at all.  He won’t even accept the term “chosen family”, instead repeatedly saying they are friends.  “I wanted my family, blemishes and all.”  I wanted to smack him for being so obtuse.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand his view on this.  It irked me because the things he was throwing out there weren’t true even for him.  “Family wouldn’t break apart over something as small as this.  Because family loves you no matter what, because you’re bound by blood.”  Except that wasn’t true.  “Well, no matter what, unless you’re gay and your parents are homophobes.”

Logan really is patient with Isaac but he also knows his own self worth.  He is badly hurt when Isaac repeatedly won’t even mention Logan to his parents, pretending he is seeing no one and going to see them alone.  When Isaac suggests they move in together, Logan is so happy.  Except Isaac still doesn’t want to tell his parents.  So Logan would be the “roommate” or the “good friend”, or some other lie to explain away why they were living together.  But it’s been six months.  What happened to ‘I’ll tell them when it’s serious’?”  I couldn’t blame him for thinking Isaac wasn’t as invested as he was. Even Isaac knows.  “It’s not like that.”  But it was like that.  Exactly like that.”  And yet he still puts his nasty parents ahead of the man he claims to love, as well as his friends.

His parents, particularly his father, are so loathsome.  Racist, bigots, homophobes all, but also just rude and nasty.  I hated them even more knowing that way too many real life parents are just like this.  Made me angry and so sad.  Isaac has a lot of growing to do and I didn’t understand his willingness to put up with everything they spewed at him but I also could see the steps he was slowly trying to take.  And there is a point where he and Logan are fighting, and it is Logan who uses the, “Isaac, it’s not like that”, and this time I could see Isaac’s point.  He is made to feel he over-reacted but I could see how it would hurt.

I liked this story even as Isaac made me want to scream at times.  There are solid positive secondary characters in Sue and Isaac’s friends, Jackson, Emmett, Roe, Jenna, Marc and Laura.  I’d love to say Isaac’s parents were over the top but unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there are too many families that are just like this.  I would love to know what happens to Logan and Isaac in in the future and I was so happy when Isaac finally, finally got the true meaning of family. 

Cover Art: L.C. Chase.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 248 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleHard Truths
ISBN139781626498464
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Savior (415 Ink #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This is the second book in a series about five men who have forged a family and own a tattoo business. I would recommend reading these in order. Mace, a firefighter, has made himself Bear’s right hand man in helping raise the family, but it’s time he got some help, whether he asks for it or not.

We start by seeing 10 year old Mason, abandoned and locked in a closet by his father, being rescued by a firefighter. We understand why Mace becomes a firefighter, and why he always checks the closets while on the job and our hearts are already broken. It’s that crack that allows Rob, a tattoo artist at 415 Ink, to see a part of the real Mace. Being bossy, a tad controlling, and concentrating on the brothers’ personal lives is a way to keep the wolves at bay and maybe prove he deserves to be in this family. He still seems unsure, unable to ask for what he needs–afraid of what the answer will be. It’s ok though, because his brothers know and they have his back.

Rob’s best friend is Lilith, but we don’t get to see a lot of her. As with the first book, the tattoos are lovingly described. I can’t help but feel a little bit of a missed opportunity to learn more about tattoing since we get Rob’s POV as he’s learning while doing. In fact, I wish we knew a little bit more about everything. We get a little slice of Chinatown and the culture there. We get a slice of Rob’s disagreement with his father and his relationship with his family. We get slices of Ivo, but not with as much depth as our slice of Luke in the first book and that’s still just a slice. In the first book we see how close Luke and Gus are. Here we get that dynamic with Mace and Ivo, except Mace didn’t share with Ivo about, well, anything–not his father, not Rob, not his past. Actually, I am really starting to like Luke and he occupied all of two pages. The next book will likely be about Ivo and the cop he meets in the aftermath of Mace’s injuries.

There is more action in this one, although you would expect that due to his problems being in the present (which I won’t tell you about because of spoilers) rather than just past wounds, although those are also shown. You know that thing that should happen when you crack yourself open and show someone your scars? That actually happens here. That’s the best thing about this book: that moment you find your person. We get to see Rob and Mace fit together and weave their families together. And if it happens a little too easily, that Rob’s wealthy family just slot into Mace’s rough and tumble one, we need that after the horrors going on here because the abuse and violence don’t get glossed over. Mace certainly deserves some happiness and we do too.

There is a little nod to the Sinner’s series at a party that is nothing to worry about if you’ve not read them. Overall, this is a solid follow-up to the first book and I enjoyed it. I hope the author continues to layer in more depth to the world and all the characters with each new book.

The cover by Reece Notley is gorgeous, but this is not quite how I pictured Mace since he has some scars from childhood, as well as some minor gouges and burns from firefighting, however the abs are as described.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640808614
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series 415 Ink :

Rebel
Savior

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is my first book by this author and book two in the series called Until You, but can be read as a standalone. However, I think reading the first book would be best for maximum enjoyment. At the beginning Lucas and Ryan, who are famous from being on a TV show, are giving a press conference to ask for privacy as they take a break from whatever traumatic thing happen to them in the first book. Ethan, their personal bodyguard, is the focus of this book.

Ethan had been living under the radar, but was brought back into the spotlight due to guarding the two stars. There was something about losing his whole family eight years ago due to his brother. Slowly, we get a recap interspersed throughout the book about some sort of trial against his brother who was a serial killer of young girls. None of Ethan’s guilt made sense to me until chapter nine, when we find out Stewart was a cop also. I’m not sure if I would have known that if I read the first book or not. Anyway, the only reasons it matters is that the topic is part of a pivotal scene where Ethan opens up to Ben, and his reluctance to go to the police is more believable. Ben is our other main character. He has been Ethan’s colleague and friend for the last two years, and we know Ben is in love with him. Ben is also friends with Ryan. Lucas and Ryan obviously consider Ethan family.

Ethan has feelings for Ben, who somehow got shot and has been in the hospital. Because he is afraid Ben will be mad that he never trusted him with the truth about his past, Ethan basically quits his job with the agency they work for, takes a new private job as a personal bodyguard to Ryan and Lucas, and disappeared, refusing to visit Ben in the hospital. Ethan knows there is something there between them, but the horrible rejection he faced from family, friends, and colleagues in the past makes him wary of being vulnerable.

Cameron is Ben’s brother, a rescue pilot for the sheriff’s department in the town called Cody, where Ethan’s sister Maggie lives. She finally finds and calls him after eight years because she has cancer and her ex, Peter, took their twin girls Maya and Riley away. She was afraid to go to the police since Peter was raised in a religious cult run by Arnold Piper, who has enough control over the group that a Jonestown scenario is likely. Once the set-up is done, this book is an action adventure with a rescue mission. Things never have a chance to get dull–there is always something happening. While Ethan’s background is in law enforcement, Ben was an army sniper and they lean heavily on his experience to plan the rescue. This gives Ben his chance to show Ethan how good they can be together and Ethan his chance to have the real intimacy he has been craving. The men work out their relationship throughout the mission.

I love that Ben and Ethan do those cute, stupid things that couples do and talk about the stupid things couple talk about. Once Ethan knows Ben loves him, knows Ben won’t leave him, he falls into this relationship. The mission makes Ben have to open up to Ethan about his past in the military and with the government. The ethics here are murky, so if you like your white hats super shiny, this may not be the book for you.

We get a lot of information about the cult and I found one of the lines very apropos of our current political climate: “it was hard to convince people they were living in a shared delusion when they were still essentially living in it.”

A major player is Alec Banner, an FBI agent that served with Ben in the military. No one wants a Waco either, so the author was good at building the tension with the cult, but it was a bit of a letdown that all the actual action here with the compound happens off page. This makes sense though because we stay with Ben and Ethan’s perspective during the faceoff with authorities. Another major player is the cult leader’s son, Zach who helps them to save the children. I would expect a future book with both of these characters. Zach has been raised without any idea about different types of sexuality and seeing Ben and Ethan together is eye opening. I will say the author made me care about the victims of the cult and then we have no idea what happens to them; being rescued and thrown into a world they know nothing about off page.

Yes, Maggie living in the same town as Ben’s brother is a huge coincidence. Yes, the plot is a little over the top. Yes, it was lucky that they had help from former cultists just when they needed it. Yes, they are making out in the woods in the middle of a mission. So what? This is entertaining, cute, hot, and romantic, rather than realistic. Since I didn’t read the first book, Ryan and Lucas are two dimensional to me right now and I don’t know anything about the Krispins (they own the company Ben and Ethan worked for as bodyguards), who it seems will still be involved as the series moves forward. I liked this book, so I will likely go back and read the first book before continuing on in this series.

The cover art is by Natasha Snow. I believe it shows Ben with the wilderness they had to hike through in the background. It seems a little placid for an action adventure.

Book Details:
ebook
Published September 10th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949340693
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://ninestarpress.com/product/sentinel/
Series Until You :

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Crocus (Bonfires #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The characters from Bonfires return and this time, their lives have finally settled down—or so they think.  But danger comes in many forms—mental, emotional, and physical—and the guys get a whammy from all sides.  Larx’s pregnant daughter, Olivia, comes home after ditching her boyfriend and dropping out of school. She begins a depression hibernation that isn’t broken until she has to step up and help said boyfriend who has shown up in town, been in an accident, and is now hospitalized.

Larx is dealing with a student who may be being molested in her home and that situation comes to a crisis at the same time he’s also helping Jamie, a young teen who’s living with his brother who was previously severely beaten and suffers from PTSD.  Unfortunately, paths cross in their neighborhood in the small town in California and when the girl’s stepbrother shows up with a gun and looks for her at the home of the kid with PTSD, Aaron arrives just in time to intervene and be injured in the line of duty. 

Larx honestly doesn’t know which way to turn when his lover is carried off in an ambulance, his young male student and his brother are traumatized by what went on in their home, and the girl who’d been hiding in the shack in their back yard takes off cross country in the middle of a major snowstorm. Could it get worse? You bet. Amy Lane weaves a complex tale of yours, mine, and ours that is definitely not The Brady Bunch. 

I love Larx!  I love his BFF, Yoshi!  Aaron!  And now Tane, Yoshi’s quiet and unassuming lover who steps up and helps the young man with the PTSD.  Olivia’s boyfriend is released from the hospital where he’d been suffering from a concussion, Jamie and his brother move in with them into Aaron’s old house, and the rest of the gang, including Kellan (Bonfires), who now lives with Larx, all manage to fit into Larx’s home and the chaos seems to have no end. 

I really enjoyed the underlying humor in many of the personal interactions, the strong and evident love between Larx and Aaron, the support for the young brothers, one of whom gave up everything to keep his baby brother from being enlisted by gangs, and the variety in the family drama.  Olivia’s depression and potential treatment was addressed, and even Aaron’s oldest daughter’s hostility was brought in when she was informed of her father’s injury and then abruptly cut off for the sake of everyone’s peace when she kept singing the same old tune. 

I suspect there may be at least one more book to come in this series as several threads remain unresolved.  Plus, if we are really lucky, we may get to attend a wedding between these two older men who captured my heart so completely in book one that I never want to see them disappear. 

I highly recommend this story. It’s full of action, adventure, drama, family issues, heartache, and of course, heartwarming interactions. 

~~~

The colorful and attractive cover by Reese Dante depicts a beautiful crocus that is symbolic of the storyline. Per the author, crocuses are tough enough to push their way through snow to give people “hope for a gentler moment in time.”

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleCrocus
ISBN139781640806351
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bonfires #2

New Release Blitz for Bank Run (Expanding Horizon #2) by Alli Reshi (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Bank Run

Series: Expanding Horizon, Book Two

Author: Alli Reshi

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 2, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 19400

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, science fiction, disability/PTSD/post-traumatic stress, military, hurt/comfort, interracial/intercultural, crime, HFN

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Mark Noland doesn’t know how he always ends up in these situations. All he wants is a few quiet days on Rescon with his new boyfriend Gavnson. But he’s just finished a job, and the rest of his team wants their pay.

A simple trip to the bank shouldn’t be much trouble, and then it’s back to peace and quiet. What could possibly go wrong? The answer to this is apparently robbery, kidnapping, and a foot chase across town. A run to the bank takes on a whole new meaning when you also have to thwart the bad guys.

A simple crime unravels to something much more. Amidst the chaos, Mark and Gavnson not only end up with new friends, but a renewed focus on Gavnson’s ongoing PTSD issues—once they finally have a moment to themselves.

*Bank Run is the second installment in the Expanding Horizons series and is best read after book one, Oops, Caught.

Excerpt

Bank Run
Alli Reshi © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Fire and metal shrapnel rained down, pinging off the roof of my small fighter ship.

“Everian Gavnson— The second Squadron is surrounded by the enemy. They are also advancing against the third. What are your orders?” Caspian Dal’s voice came crackling over the damaged coms line.

“Fourth squadron— Provide support for the second. Come in from the enemy’s right, and you can break up that dogfight. My men with me. We’re going to come in from the low left across the gorge. We can bottleneck the enemy there and stop their advance,” I called the orders across the channels.

A resounding “Yes, sir!” was the answer as the other fighter ships split off in their new assignments.

I angled my ship across the sky, leading the first squadron toward the swarm of ships. Blue mixed with white, though the blue was slowly overtaking the other. The infiltration of Zux pilots was taking its toll on my men. The battle for Rescon had already cost us so much. Our objective was to stop them in the skies so they couldn’t get to Rescon’s surface. Swooping under the belly of a few blue Zux ships, I opened fire on them, ripping through the metal and breezing by the ships as they crashed. The added forces were pushing back the opposition.

“Sir, your six!” the warning whined on the line. Reacting before glancing over, I angled my ship away from the oncoming attack. When I did look, I realized no amount of quick maneuvering would save me. A ship from higher up had collided with those below it, dragging and catching them as the tangled mess of metal fell from directly above me toward my ship.

Pushing the thrusters hard, I moved as far away from the trajectory as I could. I wouldn’t clear the area in time, but if I could minimize the damage, I could make an emergency landing. The wreckage struck the side of my ship, tearing the wing clean off. One of the engines ignited in the impact. Fire spread across the windshield. All I could see was fire. The fire. Fire everywhere—burning, trapping, killing.

I bolted awake, off-balance, and confined. I fought against the restraint, pushing and tugging until I felt cold air against my skin. Then, something was on my shoulder holding me. Pushing me back. I lashed out an arm against it.

“Gav, Gav hold still. Calm down. You’re all right; breathe, Gav. Can you hear me?” a voice said. Mark’s voice. The initial panic slowly faded from my mind. It was Mark’s hand on my shoulder. The sheets from my bed were tangled around my legs. Taking a deep breath, I reached a hand to Mark’s, suddenly realizing how shaky my own was against his steady one.

“Yes, I’m fine,” I said, clearing my throat.

“You sure? You’re trembling. Was it that dream again? You wanna talk about it?” Mark asked, leaning toward me. I shrugged off his hand, pulling away.

“No. Everything is all right, Mark. I’m going to take a shower. You can go back to sleep now.” I pushed off the blankets and forced myself to walk steadily to the adjoining bathroom.

After locking the door behind me, I turned on the shower and sat on the tile floor in the far corner of the room, my back against the wall. Curling in on myself, I was no longer able to fight the shaking of my body. My vision blurred, and I couldn’t focus on any one thing around me. All my senses screamed that everything was too much, too loud, too everything. Hopefully, the sound of the water muffled any sobs that escaped. My chest hurt from phantom pains and how hard it was to breathe. It was as though my lungs had forgotten how to, or not wanting to, would rather stop and close in on themselves.

Worst of all, I could feel the fire burning on my arm, searing through flesh. The cold wall behind me did little to help. The war was over, yet I couldn’t escape it, dogged by fire and failure in my sleep.

I don’t know how long it was before I could focus again and the shivers stopped. The burning on my arm had lost intensity, fading rapidly as I focused on taking deep gulping breaths, even though it stung. Mark hadn’t come knocking at the door, so it couldn’t have been that long.

Stripping off my sweat-dampened clothes, I finally stepped under the freezing spray of water. I found that I much preferred cold showers after the war and the hospital. I also refused to own another sponge of any sort, throwing them and any kind of liquid soap out in favor of bars and rough towels if necessary.

It had been about a month since Mark and I had agreed to start this relationship. Even with the time we spent apart for our respective careers, it was working out well. Better than I could have hoped. My off-planet missions were few, as I preferred to stay close to home. There was more than enough to keep me busy here with Stella Corps, while Mark chose any jobs across the quadrant that caught his fancy. Being that Mark’s starship was his home, when he wasn’t out on a job, he spent most of his time with me at my home. His team didn’t seem to mind the extra time spent on Rescon either.

Having Mark with me was a welcome change from the silence that permeated the building without him to fill it with laughter and conversation, however it didn’t stop the nightmares. I always felt guilty for waking him; it was unfair to him after all the help he gave me. Especially on nights like last night when he came in late, tired from a job, and well-deserving of some rest. He didn’t need me waking him up over something I should have long gotten over. In truth, I had been lucky; I knew that.

I had come home when so many hadn’t. I only had scars where so many had lost limbs. It was pathetic to still be holding onto fears when the danger had long passed.

I quickly finished my shower and turned off the water, not wanting Mark to worry and come investigating.

Drying off, I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. Dark hair plastered against my forehead. A once perfect complexion was now littered with appalling scars. Thankfully, the ones on my face were hardly noticeable if you didn’t know to look. The rest of me had not been as fortunate.

The burn marks were far more distinct over my left side. Trailing from my neck to almost my hip in patchy grooves, they also took up most of my arm and spread across my chest. I turned away from the mirror, tying the towel around my waist.

I should have the mirror removed the next chance I had—a sentiment I always had after a shower, but never managed to go through with. It was too easy to indulge in the shame of what my image now was. In any case, Mark would question it, and that was something I would rather avoid. I paused at the door, listening for any noise coming from the outer room.

Hearing nothing meant Mark must have either left the room or gone back to sleep. I cautiously opened the door, and the sun’s morning light filtering in through the window showed an empty room. Faint voices floated in from the direction of the kitchen.

I dressed quickly, worried that Mark might walk into the room before I was ready. A long-sleeved thin shirt hid the worst of the scars and simple pants covered the few on my legs. Having not yet let Mark see all of my scars, I was careful to always be clothed around him. Mark had said that he wouldn’t mind seeing them, but I was not ready to show more of myself to him. I still worried about his reaction. After combing my hair into something respectable, I walked toward the voices, steeling myself to greet the added guests.

“I’m just saying you don’t even know his first name, man. I’m not complaining about not having to listen to you talk about your sex life all’o the time now. But you sure ’bout this, boss? Relationships ain’t one-night stands—you gotta be serious here. Gotta be able to trust a person.”

I recognized Ken’s voice without having to turn the corner and paused in the shadows. I shouldn’t have to eavesdrop in my own house, yet I wanted to hear the honest conversation that wouldn’t happen with me there. Wanted to know what his teammates thought of me, though it did not appear to be a conversation in my favor.

“Dude, are you still harping on this?” Mark huffed. “Ken, let it go. The name thing is cultural, okay? Lots of Resconians don’t say it until they’re married. It’s like a super personal thing, and I can respect that. Stuff like this takes time, you know. Ain’t like I’m laying all my secrets out on the table either. You gotta build the trust slowly, and I trust him to tell me when he’s ready.” I could imagine the scowl he had as he crossed his arms.

Considering that Mark was more given to casual and informal mannerisms, I had been surprised at how easily he had adapted when I explained why Resconians only used surnames. It was an old social norm that revealing a given name was the truest form of trust and love. It gave me a small thrill to call Mark by his name privately—knowing it was his preference as well as a sign of his trust. I found it endearing how he mixed his habit for nicknames yet considered my preference. Still, our relationship was far too new to tell him my given name, or call him by his while in company.

“I believe what our esteemed mechanic is trying to say, is that we worry about you. You’re not only our boss; you’re our friend as well. As a friend, we want you to be in a healthy relationship. Given your previous lovers, this is a drastic change.” The higher-pitched voice chiming in told me that Tamaroa was here too.

“I know it’s different,” Mark said, his voice strained. “It’s weird for me sometimes, too, you know. Coming back to the same place all the time. And missing him. Lonely is something I’m used to having an instant fix for, but I can’t do that anymore because Gavnson matters. I want it to work with him. So, let me figure it out myself and drop it, all right?”

Knowing he missed me when he was away—same as I missed him—was an odd comfort. And it was reassuring that he would defend me, even though I sometimes thought his coworkers might have a more accurate opinion of me. After a few moments of silence, it was obvious they had dropped the topic. I might as well greet my guests properly.

Rounding the corner to enter the kitchen, I saw Ken and Tamaroa at the table, while Mark was standing by the stove, making something in a pan. Rescon had more than its fair share of interspecies travelers. But that still didn’t take away the strangeness of having others at my table.

I was so often alone in this room that the brightness of the fox’s dark blue fur and the woman’s rich orange skin would take some getting used to.

“You didn’t tell me your team would be visiting this morning, Noland,” I said, not wanting to sound accusing, but a warning would have been nice.

“Sorry, I didn’t know either, and some people don’t know what manners are. So, they invite themselves anywhere.” Mark sighed and gave Ken a pointed look. He momentarily abandoned breakfast to come to my side and give me a hug. His warmth was a welcome balm to my unsettled nerves. “Are you feeling better now? Is it okay for them to be here? I can kick them out if you want, no problem,” Mark whispered and then kissed my cheek.

He had no concern with showing affection any time he wanted. For the most part, I liked the attention too much to scold him for it when there were others around.

“No, it’s fine; I don’t mind,” I said quietly, giving him a one-armed hug in return before letting him go back to the stove. “It’s a pleasure to see you as always, Tamaroa, Ken.” I greeted the two as I sat at the table across from them so I could watch Mark.

“Sorry for the intrusion,” Tamaroa responded, brushing back her hair, a dark red against her skin. “Ken can be quite demanding when he wants something. Mark never said, but how did everything turn out on your end with our last joint effort? Was there any information missing?” It was easy to forget that Mark’s well-spoken navigator was also a highly trained assassin.

“No, you both did admirably,” I said. “As far as our technicians have found, nothing was leaked and all the files were still intact. Thanks to all your efforts, you prevented the potential exposure of a number of secret operatives.” I had assumed Mark would have told them about the successful conclusion of our mission long ago, but this at least gave me the chance to thank them in person.

“I imagine Stella would have just as many enemies as allies, and any information about your movements could go for a high price.” Tamaroa’s tone was far too light for a matter that could have been life or death to many officers. Then again, perhaps I shouldn’t expect differently from a woman in her profession.

“Unfortunately, yes,” I said. “Since Mark is always very vague about his work, I don’t suppose you’d be willing to make a few things clearer?” I could feel Mark’s eyes on me, and even though we’d both agreed that sometimes there were parts of our jobs we couldn’t talk about, it didn’t always stop professional curiosity. Tamaroa’s only response was a small smile that said I would not be getting any answers from her.

“All right, enough chitchat,” Ken huffed, his tail thumping against the leg of his chair. “I want Mr. Domestic over there to hand over our share of the pay from the last job. I ain’t looking to spend the day with no Stella officer in a stuffy house. Just ’cause you’ve turned sweet on the military sort, don’t mean I have. I got shit to do.” Ken had not warmed up to me nearly as much as Tamaroa had. Mark reassured me this was friendlier than Ken got with most.

“Hey, that Stella officer is my boyfriend, and I like his company. So, shut your muzzle. Besides, we just got here, and I’m sorry, but some of us like to sleep. Banks don’t even open until, like, nine anyways—so hold your tail.” Mark slid what was in the pan onto a waiting plate. Ah, he was making those fluffy flat breads he called pancakes. Terran food was odd.

I don’t think I had seen him cook anything that didn’t require some breed of fowl eggs. And he was always complaining they weren’t the same as chicken eggs, whatever those were. Mark had tried to describe chickens to me once, and for as much as I recognized that fauna was different across the galaxy, small flightless birds were not something I could easily conceptualize.

I knew that some planets domesticated their fowl, but the fear of them had been ingrained in me since childhood. It wasn’t an ungrounded fear, as the Ioxerous birds were as large as the average man and viciously carnivorous. They were the smallest breed of bird on Rescon. Thankfully, the mountains were the only place you would find them. These differences had led Mark and me to a have a few circular discussions about the merits of domestication of fowl.

Mark insisted on cooking, going so far as to favor old-fashioned methods of manually making the food, instead of letting the automatic kitchen equipment prepare the dishes for him. I had no love for cooking, so I left him to his strange cuisine.

“Oh, I’m sure you and pretty boy did plenty of sleeping. Then again, you were awful quick to open that door, and all rumpled too,” Ken said, winking at Mark. I tensed at the unknowing reminder that I had awakened Mark this morning. Even though he was still tired from his last mission, he hadn’t said anything about it. Yet, I could see the weariness as he moved about. It appeared I was nothing more than a bother.

“Okay, you’re done. Out. We discussed this— No suggestive or lewd comments that make Gav uncomfortable. So, out now. Before I skin you, and we’ll have a side of fox to go with breakfast.” Mark waved the spatula at Ken, whose fur bristled in offense.

“I think we’ve stayed long enough.” Tamaroa stood. “Enjoy your morning, Mark, and a pleasure to see you again, Gavnson. We’ll be on our way now.” She grabbed Ken by his scruff and lifted the four-foot Vanaska fox easily, ignoring his demands to be put down as they left the house. Mark chuckled at the antics.

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Meet the Author

Alli has always had a love for just about any story she can get her hands on. Be it from books, TV, or even video games—if there’s a good story, she will love it. Given that, it’s easy to see how Alli moved on to making stories of her own.

Raised in a small Colorado town, Alli also has a love of the outdoors and enjoys hiking. Nowadays she lives in a bigger city and fits in just fine there too, liking how close and comfy everything is. Often at home with her two cats, Alli is never far from her computer whether for work or for play. She believes the truth is a multifaceted thing and always works to write the world, and subsequently the truth of the world, as she sees it.

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A Lila Review :Winter Cowboy by RJ Scott

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Micah Lennox left Whisper Ridge after promising the man he loved that he would never return. But the only way he knows to keep his pregnant sister and nephew safe is to go home. Spending winter in Wyoming opens too many old wounds, but he’s on the run from justice which can’t be far behind, and this is his last chance at redemption.

After a hostage situation leaves Doctor Daniel Sheridan struggling with PTSD, he returns to Whisper Ridge. Joining his dad in family practice is a balm to soothe his exhausted soul, and somehow, he finds a peace he can live with. That is until he meets Micah in a frozen graveyard, and the years of anger and feelings of betrayal boiling inside him, erupt.

Two broken men fight and scratch for their lives and that of their families, and somehow, in the middle of it all, they find each other.

Is it possible that love can be rekindled and become a forever to believe in?

Winter Cowboy is an interesting second chance story with too much happening off-page when the main characters were younger. It has a lot of drama, angst, and dark events–which also happened off-page.

The start is a bit confusing and it takes a moment to get into what’s happening. During this time, we get Micah’s version of the present events, mixed with the past. We learned a lot of what had happened to get him and his sister to this point. Also, their background and relationship with the family members that raised them.

I did enjoy Daniel’s characterization and how easy it was to feel what was happening to him; his fears, PTSD, and his confusion. How the two main events in his life turned into one leaving him with the need to escape and find solitude.

The combination of Micah and Daniel is explosive and passionate. They both have their flaws and at the same time, they bring hope to each other. This book is more about relationships, family, and forgiveness than love but all together makes an enjoyable read.

The cover by Meredith Russell is generic enough to fit the story but it doesn’t present anything about it. Just pretty to call the reader’s attention.

Sale Links: Love LaneAmazon | NOOK

ebook, 242 pages
Published: February 25, 2018, by Love Lane Books Ltd.
ISBN: 9781785641114
Edition Language: English

Series: Whisper Ridge, Wyoming
Book #1: Winter Cowboy

An Alisa Review: Lace-Covered Compromise by Silvia Violet

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Adam Kingston expects to inherit his father’s multinational conglomerate. When he finds out half of it went to Nate Thomas—an annoying man whose dreams for Kingston Corp.’s future clash with Adam’s need to stave off financial disaster—Adam is furious. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to wrest control of Kingston Corp. from Nate.

 

Nate may be soft-spoken, but he refuses to be swayed by Adam’s arrogant demands. When Nate accidentally drops a pair of his lacy panties in front of Adam, there’s no mistaking Adam’s interest. Nate hadn’t realized Adam was bisexual, but now that his secret is out, Nate is willing to use Adam’s lust against him if it means protecting the welfare of the company he loves.

 

For Adam and Nate, hatred and desire are closely linked. Their inability to compromise threatens the company and could expose their tightly held secrets. But as they work together to develop a plan to save Kingston Corp., they begin to realize there might be more to their relationship than anger and lust.

 

I do love a man in panties and had high hopes for this story but felt there was some depth missing from this story.  Adam is a completely spoiled brat but at least he admits it but isn’t very good on other people calling him on his crap.

 

Adam just knows that his father is just punishing him from the grave by giving half of the company to Nate.  Nate has a more open view than Adam.  Both of them need to learn to compromise and work together in order to keep the company afloat.

 

I didn’t feel any connection to Nate, there wasn’t much in the story to allow a connection.  We saw everything from Adam’s point of view and with his personality there wasn’t really the opportunity to get know others as he is quite self-absorbed and the amount of talking he does in his head is a bit disturbing.  The way Adam’s father treated him did a lot of mental damage to him and that doesn’t help him adapt or change for others.

 

Cover art by LC Chase is eye catching and gives good visuals for this story.

 

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 194 pages

Published: November 6, 2017 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-62649-658-3

Edition Language: English