A MelanieM Review: High Stakes (Four of Clubs #4) by Parker Williams (Pulp Friction 2015 #15)

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5      ★★★★★

High Stakes coverBen Nelson marvels at the resiliency of his lover, Artie Middleton. He takes everything life throws at him and comes out the other end stronger than ever. It’s with this strength in mind that Ben tosses Artie a curveball that will change both of their lives forever.

A single question from Ben’s lips has Artie rushing headlong toward his happily ever after. One that he never thought he’d have and is now being served to him on a silver platter. He has it all—friends, family, and a future. But even a gifted psychic can’t see everything, and Artie is about to get a wakeup call.

Things he thought to be true about his past aren’t as clear-cut as he believed. His history with some of the people in his life runs deeper than he realized. And he’s about to learn a previously unknown threat from his childhood has returned to rip it all away.

Artie soon finds that in this game, the stakes couldn’t be higher: the lives of everyone he loves.

We’ve reached book four in the latest Pulp Friction series and we all know what that means if you’ve read any of the previous series.  It’s time for some serious angst and despair.  Boy, does Parker Williams and High Stakes deliver that in, well, clubs. Can’t very well say spades can we?

Using the poker game analogy, the stakes of the games are raised up even higher still.  Within these 60 pages, Parker Williams fills in more of Artie’s history and family background, along with a connection to another character’s past.  The author uses this information not merely to inform but to scare the living bejeezus out of us with the ramifications it brings.

If any book has a purpose in a series (and this one surely does), its to show the closing in of evil around our small gang of knights gathering to do battle.  And the odds aren’t looking good.  The despair pours off the descriptions, and the angst flows even over the most joyful of scenes.  And that ending?  A shocker to the soul.  That one went beyond a mere gnashing of teeth and tearing of the hair into the “Oh Nooooooooooo!” *cue to  screams of disbelief*.

I did not see that one coming.  When you can hide something like that event in the small clues stashed away in bits and pieces throughout the tale, well, that’s wonderful storytelling.  Well done, Mr. Parker!  Still devastated but well done.

Two more books to go.   One more by Parker Williams and then the series finale written by all the authors and combined story lines.  I can’t wait to see how they are going to pull this off.  I  am totally perplexed about the whole thing.  The villains, the subplots, and just how its all going to work itself out.  Am I a happy camper?  Yes, I am.

All the stories are short, so it easy to catch up if you need to start at the beginning of a series.  There are four of them that are connected here.  I have them all listed at the bottom of the review.  Use it as a TBR list if you haven’t already.

Love paranormal romance?  Murder mysteries?  Supernatural beings?  Why not combine them all in the style of a pulp fiction series?  They have it all here.  Now I just can’t wait to see how it will all end.

I highly recommend this series and all the interconnected series its attached to.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I’ve been ambivalent about these covers from the start.  But I really like this one.  Especially with the shadows that can be taken a number of ways.  Great job.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe)  | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 65 pages
Published September 13th 2015
ASINB015DBPJHE
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2015 #15, Four of Clubs #4
other editions (1)
High Stakes (Four of Clubs #4) (Pulp Friction 2015, #15)

 

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About Pulp Friction 2015

Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Round Two:
Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil
Stud Player (King of Hearts: 2) by Havan Fellow
Up the Ante (Four of Clubs: 2 ) by Parker Williams
Diamond Draw (Ace of Diamonds: 2) by Laura Harner

Round Three:

Dead Button (Jack of Spades #3) by Lee Brazil
Blind Man’s Bluff (King of Hearts #3) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Playground (Four of Clubs #3) by Parker Williams
Diamonds Edge (Ace of Diamonds #3) by Laura Harner

Round Four:

Dead Man’s Hand (Jack of Spades 4) by Lee Brazil
Blind Heart (King of Hearts 4) by Havan Fellows
High Stakes (Four of Clubs 4) by Parker Williams
Diamond Flush (Ace of Diamonds 4) by Laura Harner

A MelanieM Review: Up The Ante: Four of Clubs Two (Pulp Friction 2015 Book 7) by Parker Williams

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Up the Ante coverTwo months ago, Ben Nelson stepped between a vengeful demon and psychic Artie Middleton—and has been paying for that decision ever since. Now that the last rites have been administered, doctors are ready to pull the plug on the young police detective. The trouble is, Artie has seen his future and knows that Ben belongs there.

When a friend suggests a solution that seems…out of this world, Artie must face Ben’s parents and convince them that there’s a chance their son can be saved. Unfortunately, even if he succeeds, every good deed comes with a price.

And someone is always waiting to up the ante.

I’ve been waiting impatiently to see what happened next after the soul gathering demon attacked Ben and Artie in The Devil’s Bedpost (love that title).  And while I was waiting, I heard through ripples in the Force, that this story was going to make me want to hunt the author down with a torch and pitchfork because of the ending. Did that happen?  Yes, trust in the Force!  What a story!  And what a spine tingling ending that is almost quaranteed to make you scream in frustration and anguish.

Pulp Friction stories and their series are always accompanied by a rollercoaster of suspense, chills, close calls and lethal encounters.  But never more so than in this year’s inter-connected stories in the Altered States universe.  And that brings us back to the last moments in The Devil’s Bedpost where we weren’t sure who lived, who died…we were just left to panic and ponder.

Well, the wait is over.  Up The Ante picks up two months after the events in the  first book, and things are as disheartening and unsettled as never before.  Ben lies in a coma in the hospital, hooked up to the machines with everyone losing hope for his recovery.  And Artie is blaming himself and isolating himself from the few friends he has.  It’s a desolate picture and Williams brings us into Artie’s heart and thoughts as he despairs of finding a way of helping Ben.  We feel Artie’s pain, exhaustion, and desperation and we are there with him in spirit because we have become so fond of Ben ourselves in such a short amount of time.

One of the things that helps to complete a characterization, to give it a full fleshed out persona, is to make the supporting players around that character so believable that they add weight to his authenticity.  That happens here with Ben and his family.  We meet them all in the hospital where they have gathered, helplessly waiting to hear more from the doctors.  There’s his mom, dad, sister and her husband.  Each a well-defined character that grounds Ben in a family that loves him.  And that element helps to point out its lack in Artie.  Artie’s family is made up of a dog of a surprising nature, and his small weird group of supernatural friends.  That they are his family as well is something Artie becomes aware of during the story.   How I loved/hated these hospital moments with Ben so close to death because it allows Artie to finally start to accept his feelings for Ben and the idea that Artie might have/had more of a life then he ever dreamed of.  It’s lovely, and sad, and life changing.

It’s the entrance of Tempest, the witch who works in the occult bookstore owned by Travis Boudreaux (Altered States series). She’s a strong female character, just as charismatic as the rest and I adored her.  She heralds a sea change for those characters we have been concentrating our emotions on for so long.  And hope appears along with her…

But remember those ripples in the Force I was telling you about?  And yes, because this is only the second story, you know that things have to get nasty before they get better, so yes again, Parker Williams throws a boulder into the water at the end, and it’s not ripples but a tidal wave of emotion that will hit you at last word.  I’d get out my pitchfork as threatened but I need the author to continue the story, to fix things and make it all better for all of us.  Argh and sigh…because the ante has most definitely been “upped”.

But ignore all that gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, I am loving every angst-filled bit of this story and series.  It’s so well written, that the pages and plot fly by so I often have to go back and reread parts to see what clues or omens I may have missed.  And really, that dog Duke?  Priceless.  Grab up this series and prepare to fall in love with peculiar and wonderful men in love, a story full of shocks and surprises and world building elements that never stop entertaining or intriguing you.  Don’t start here, however, go back to the first story and read them in sequence.  It’s the only way to understand the overall series plot and character development.  Happy Reading and Anxious Waiting!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I still wish for more of a dark element (not dark colors) to be included.  This is a series that includes demons and the occult so I wished for more of that in the design than a serious, sort of grumpy model.

Sales Links:   All Romance (ARe)  –   Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 61 pages
Published May 13th 2015
ASINB00XNPWOCG
edition languageEnglish

About Pulp Friction 2015

Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.

Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.
Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Round Two:
Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil
Stud Player (King of Hearts: 2) by Havan Fellows
Up the Ante (Four of Clubs: 2)  by Parker Williams
Diamond Draw (Ace of Diamonds: 2) by Laura Harner

Review: Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Cold Feet coverMany things brought Cannon Malloy west from Atlanta.  Cannon wanted to put his past behind him, including ex boyfriends and the trauma that went along with them.  Cannon most importantly want to find out  what it meant to finally live his life as an out gay man after years of living in the closet.  But that initial step out of his self deception didn’t mean Cannon felt comfortable as a gay man until now.  With help from his flamboyant neighbor at Mountain Shadows and some well applied eye liner, Cannon is ready to try once more to connect with the handsome Finn Lorensson.   With a newfound sense of self-appreciation and  confidence he approaches Finn’s cabin with more than lust on the mind to make up for their last unhappy encounter and repair some of the damage he caused.

But professor Finn has plenty of problems of his own, one especially that arose around a malicious student and his impact on Cannon.  Finn’s unsure of how to proceed, with the student and the newly confident Cannon.  Both require his immediate attention and how he handles them both might mean the end of his tenure as a professor and any chance of happiness he might find with Cannon.

Cannon finally seems over his own brand of cold feet when it comes to Finn and relationships.  But how long that will last and what Finn will do about it is anyone’s guess.

Of all the interconnected Pulp Friction 2014 series, Lee Brazil’s seems the most introspective of the four.  With all the others, while the characters are undergoing emotional upheavals and personal problems, they are also being impacted by outside forces and obstacles.  But Cannon and Finn are grappling, almost solely,  with Cannon’s past and its effect on each other and the possibility of a relationship.  Cannon Malloy is the fulcrum of In From the Cold.  He is the pivotal element on which most of the plot threads rest or emanate from.  A character displaced after the events in Atlanta (Pulp Friction 2013), Cannon was an ambivalent character, deeply closeted, married and the cause of much pain to the main character Chance.  He ran from Atlanta to Flagstaff, unable to operate due to the events that occurred in Atlanta and is floundering in his role as a professor.   From a dislikable personality to one clearly in need of compassion and understanding, Brazil has moved Cannon through his journey in cautious, fearful steps to this point.  It’s been realistic and painful.

Reacting to Cannon is professor Finn Lorensson, a confident, handsome man.  Cannon, however, is strewing Finn’s life with stumbling blocks and obstacles in Finn’s pursuit of the skittish Cannon, the last one of which might have lasting consequences for all.  I love how Brazil has taken this self assured mountain of a man and added cracks and fractures to a strong personality that seemed unbreakable.  It’s a lovely, believable transformation, especially with love as the impetus behind it.  With the exception of the disgruntled student who feels entitled to take what he wants, all the movement and changes made have been done so because of internal arguments and decisions, changes of attitudes and self worth.  It’s an internalized and introspective storyline and its very intimacy is conveyed through thoughtful inner monologues and bouts of painful fretting on the characters part.

The other characters and plots exist in Lee Brazil’s series but sometimes it feels as though we see or feel them at the very perimeter of Finn and Cannon’s lives.  Such an inward facing story structure has been a wonderful way to relate to both difficult characters and their fragile steps towards each other.  But I expect that is about to change.

Cold Feet and the other three stories are at the midway point in the series and changes are about to fall on all the people involved.  I expect Finn and Cannon to change their direction, and move outward to embrace the other characters and the tumultuous events occurring at Mountain Shadows. I can’t wait to see how the author folds these two back into the main story thread that flows through all the series and the evil that has clearly visited the woods around them.    I love these characters, the series and the entire Pulp Friction 2014 grouping.  It’s compelling, gorgeously depicted and as wide ranging as the mountains themselves, and I can’t get enough of their lives and their stories.

I highly recommend this story and series (all of them) to you.  However, you must start back at the beginning to understand the scope of the stories and the characters involved.  I have listed all the series for you below.  Don’t miss out one a single one of them…..

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Love these covers, perfect branding and great models.

Buy Links:       <a href=”Cold Feet: Pulp Friction 2014 (In From the Cold Book 3) ” title=”Cold Feet At Amazon”> Amazon         ARe

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 1st 2014 by Lime Time Press
edition languageEnglish
seriesIn From the Cold #3, Pulp Friction 2014 #10

The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort  (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blow Hard  (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four: to be released

Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five: to be released

Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors
charactersFinn Lorensso

Review: Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) (PF 2014) by Laura Harner

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Backburn coverNothing between Park Ranger Rob Hammond and disabled firefighter Scott McGregor has ever been easy.  From their early romance and traumatic breakup to their reunion in Scott’s hospital room where Scott was recovering from injuries that killed most of his crew and cost him the profession he loved.  Scott had hoped that with Rob’s reappearance, their romance and relationship was back on track.  But with one ill advised phone call to Rob’s mother, Scott has derailed that hope even though he refuses to admit it.

Scott is also having problems with PTSD and his nightmares are getting worse. The stress and strain of operating Mountain Shadows and the problems that have been popping up recently aren’t helping either.  Strange and horrifying things are happening around the campground and Scott aims to get at the causes even if he has to investigate it by himself..

Rob Hammond is faltering under the weight of the secrets he has been keeping and his efforts to become a wildland firefighter.  He is just beginning to realize that Scott’s PTSD is worse than Scott had let on and Scott’s phone call to his mother brought up painful past problems that he had pushed aside.   A run in with an old acquaintance and another call from home make Rob realize that he had some hard decisions to make and that they need to be made soon before everything he hopes to achieve goes up in flames.

When one man finally understands what he wants, the other person’s reality combusts.  When you fight fire with fire, will both of them and their relationship be burned beyond compare?

What is a backburn?  A backburn in firefighter terms means to create firebreak in path of brushfire: to prevent a brushfire from spreading by lighting another fire in its path

Reading this series is like walking towards a fire.  With each new story acting like a new step forward, the reader and Harner’s characters get closer and closer to the flames.  As the heat and the danger combine, it increases incrementally the treacherous nature of the situation these characters find themselves in as the story proceeds. Then it explodes in a ball of fire at the end in a way that will leave you dazed, a more than a little fearful and standing at a precipice with no where to go.  And you will totally love it.

Scott and Rob, the troubled duo at the heart of this series are back and in worse shape than ever.  Scott is living in denial about practically everything going on in his life.  And that state of delusion has made Scott act ill-advisedly where his and Rob’s past is concerned.   One phone call to Rob’s mother shatters Scott’s hopes about their future and Rob’s plans for them as well.  Harner also brings in the realistic element of Scott’s PTSD and his continued avoidance of any treatment.  When Scott breaks down when undergoing traumatic flashbacks to the fire that cost him everything, we are able to feel the weight of those memories and the pain they are still able to cause.  Not only do we understand why Scott is acting so impudently but we can see the consequences coming even if he doesn’t.  We can like this character even if we don’t like his actions.

Rob too has so many layers to his character.  And like Scott, we also won’t like certain aspects of his past or his persona.  But also like Scott, Harner provides us with enough personal details and back history that once we put his actions within context then that conduct starts to make sense.  Rob grows more as a character here than he has in past stories.  That growth will trigger decisions and events that we will not see coming, another marvelous element to these stories.

Fires and the devastation that comes with those who choose to become firefighters is a prevailing element here.  We see the sacrifice that is called for when someone decides on becoming a firefighter and the pain and sorrow that will follow in its path.   That Scott loves and misses his profession is clear.  So is the ultimate sacrifice his crew made and the survivor guilt that is overwhelming the only man left alive by that fire.  Harner’s vivid descriptions and emotional scenes bring Scott’s inability to deal with that fatal fire to life in breathtaking detail.  That people choose to do this challenging, dangerous, and necessary profession makes me grateful and awed.  In Scott McGregor we can see and feel the cost as well as the dedication needed to be such a firefighter.  That’s thanks to Laura Harner as well.

The ending is emotionally devastating and will leave you hanging.  This used to bother me.  But in a series and in the hands of an author who does this cliffhanger so well, it works to keep us on the ledge and happy to be there.  I can’t wait to see what happens next and so will you.

If you are new to the series, in fact the entire Pulp Friction 2014 interconnected stories, start at the beginning to get the most from these authors stories and characters.  I have listed all the series and stories below.  I consider Backburn and Fighting Fire (along with all the rest of the Pulp Friction 2014 group) to be one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014.

Cover art by Laura Harner

Book Details:

64 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN139781937252816
edition languageEnglish
seriesFighting Fire #3, Pulp Friction 2014 #9

 Buy Links:          Amazon              ARe

About Pulp Friction 2014: Laura Harner ~ Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ T.A. Webb The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends.

The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment. There will be five rounds and one final story written by all four authors.

Round One of Pulp Friction 2014:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire# 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold# 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows# 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake# 1) by Tom Webb

Round Two of Pulp Friction 2014:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Where the Wind Blows #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by Tom Webb

Round Three of Pulp Friction 2014:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blow Hard (Where the Wind Blows #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by Tom Webb

 

Review: Higher Ground (Earthquake #1) by TA Webb

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Higher Ground coverCharlie Turner was just 19 when his father died, leaving a hole in the Turner family that was impossible to fill.  Yet Charlie tried, walking away from college, his boyfriend, and his dreams, everything that mattered to him in order to live at home and take care of his younger brother and mom. Now in his 30’s and with Turner & Sons Construction a success, Charlie has little else in his life beyond family and work, something his friends and mother are concerned about.

When his friend and co worker, Siggy, gets pulled away to work at Mountain Shadows, Charlie is left to meet with their newest client, an art gallery owner who wants to expand his space to include more art works.  The owner of the gallery, Amos Greene, is arrogant, cold, and somewhat smug, especially in his initial dealings with Charlie.  His treatment of Charlie borders on demeaning and rude but Charlie demands respect and professionalism  and gets it.  A standoff made tense by the fact that both men are attracted to each other.

But Charlie has more on his mind than a stuffy art gallery owner,  his younger brother is getting into trouble and his mom wants Charlie to reclaim his personal life by moving out into a house of his own at Shadow Mountain.  Getting a life is easier than it sounds and a demanding new client is the least of Charlie’s problems or so he thinks…..

Higher Ground, the first in TA Webb’s Earthquake (PF2014) series, is a wonder of a story.  Webb’s main character, Charlie Turner, has been through the emotional wringer, and the stress and responsibility he shouldered when his father died has not abated. Forced by circumstances to  be “the man of the family”, Charlie forfeited his teenage years and personal life to make sure his mother and younger brother were taken care of.  Managing his own personal pain, Charlie’s focus was on his mother and brother.  And while his mother has recovered, younger brother, Damon,  is swinging deeper out of control.  Only Charlie seems to be able to reach him.

I think one of the  finest aspects of this story is the brotherly dynamics playing out between Charlie and Damon.  The death of their father forced Charlie into his father’s role when his mother was emotionally and physically unable to parent him and Damon.  But now she has recovered enough to realize what that has done to her older son and is trying to make amends. Their mother wants to reclaim her role as parent/authority figure to Damon, and having Charlie leave the house will let her do that and give Charlie the independence he deserves.  But it may be too late for that and Webb makes us see just how fragile the bonds are between Charlie, his mother, and Damon.

And clearly, Webb understands the combustive nature of teenagers too.  It’s hard enough to be a teenager with hormones playing havoc with you at that age. But then to have that young boy deal with the loss of a beloved father in a car accident, the temporary loss of the support from his mother dealing with her own issues? Devastating especially as it comes with a change in his relationship with his older brother  which goes from adored sibling to someone now in an authority position. All this sends him reeling towards poor decisions and emotional turmoil that just gets worse with each new well meaning intervention.

All the characters, all their actions comes across as authentic and painfully realistic.  You will hurt for Damon as much as you do for Charlie.  This is a tough time for both of them and Damon isn’t, not unexpectedly, handling Charlie’s move well.  So many changes to the fundamental foundation of the Turner family, and the author makes us quake in anxiety and anticipation for the next event to impact them and the damage it will cause.

And on top of all this is a mixed up attraction between Charlie and Amos.  The author’s terrific character development of both men let the reader into the roller coaster of emotions their meeting/working relationship has generated.  Charlie, open and friendly, easy in his sexuality.  Amos, cold, calculating and rushing to judgement, all prickly and cultured.  Their clash instigates some white hot sex driven passion which is just as quickly dashed. Webb leads us through all the assumptions each man has made about each other and then onto the path of adjustments they start to make.  There is so much room for growth here, not only in their burgeoning relationship with each other but also with those other characters that surround them, including Amos’ relationship with Damon.

I have to keep double checking to see that this story is only 45 pages in length. It has the feel of a much longer, deeper story.  Webb gives us textured, real characters and a multi-layered plot that pulls us in and keeps us involved from start to finish. There are some deeply wounding events that occur here that ring with all the emotional truth and pain that close siblings can inflict on each other.   It leaves Charlie and the reader hurting and worried about what comes next.  I can’t wait for the next story in the series, Moving Earth (Earthquake #2).  TA Webb made me care about these people.  Now I need to know what happens next.  So will you.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Great covers for all the series and books,including Higher Ground.

Book Details:

ebook, 45 pages
Published March 1st 2014 by A Bear on Books

One of the Pulp Friction 2014 Series

 From the Pulp Friction Group: The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends. The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Review: Blown Away (Whispering Winds #1) by Havan Fellows

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Blown Away coverHiding safely away in the confines of his Mountain Shadows cabin, Rowen Smithe is not prepared for the human tornado that is Mick Rutger when Mick enters his life.  Rowen spends his time concealed within the safety of his cabin, observing and protecting the woods surrounding his Mountain Shadows home, venturing out only at night to explore odd sightings and unexplained happenings in the forest around him.  Tormented by voices and secrets from his past, Rowen lets no one inside.  Even the tentative  gestures of friendship by his neighbor Finn have been rebuffed.  Then he meets Mick.

Mick Rutger is a force of boundless energy and optimism.  At loose ends after finishing 6 years of college, Mick figures a trip to see his oldest and best friend,Finn Lorensson, would help him figure out what he wants to do next.  Finn lives in a cabin on Mountain Shadows, surrounded by beautiful woods, a gorgeous setting that Mick appreciates.  Mountain Shadows is also the home of some apparently quirky, gorgeous men if the one Mick spies climbing a tall tree next to Finn’s cabin is any indication.  After watching a lithe and long haired Rowen easily ascend the impossibly tall pine next to his house, Mick quickly becomes intrigued by the secretive man Finn calls neighbor.

When Rowen sees metal glinting far out in the woods through his binoculars, he knows that something suspicious is up and sets off  to investigate.  But what Rowen doesn’t count on is being followed by a curious and unprepared Mick.  What follows is more than either one of them expected….

Never have I fallen in love so quickly with such a quirky and clearly wounded character as I have with Rowen Smithe.  I am not sure if it is that aspect of his person, the one that loves his woods and mountains so, that speaks to the park naturalist in me.  The familiarity with which Rowen moves through his forest environment, his appreciation and knowledge of the flora and fauna around him as well as his need to protect it all…well, it all just makes me gravitate towards his character as I would a fellow ranger. And when he climbs his trees, its more than a need to find the  highest view point, it is a havan for Rowen, emotionally and physically.  I get that too.

Character Mick Rutger makes a wonderful counterpart to all that isolation, secrecy, and wildness that is Rowen.  His is the bouncy enthusiasm and energy of a golden retriever. Thoughtless in words, impulsive in actions , he’s that little boy that never stops moving, occasionally breaking things he didn’t mean to. Mick is just someone in need of a direction and perhaps someone to care for and he appeals to the reader almost as quickly as Rowen does.  The author has certainly done a remarkable job in creating a character that is impossible to dislike while demonstrating that under all that  superficiality are depths to be discovered.  Great characters both of them.

Throw in suspicious doings in the woods as Havan Fellows does, and an unexplained “voice” that Rowen hears at the worst possible times, and you have a story guaranteed to lure you in and keep you absorbed in the characters and situations they find themselves in.  Fellows moves the narrative along at a clip, the dialog is sharp and perfect for the characters, and the plot increases in complexity as more questions pop up about the events that are happening and the people who live in Mountain Shadows.

Really, I can’t wait for the next installment.  And the ending? Well, I am still smiling and I will leave it at that.  Grab this story up and start reading.  It’s terrific and highly recommended.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I love this cover.  That model is perfect for Rowen.  Great job.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Published February 17th 2014 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
ASINB00IIF4K4G
edition languageEnglish
series Whispering Winds

Buy at ARe,  Amazon

One of the Pulp Friction 2014 Series

 From the Pulp Friction Group: The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends. The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Pulp Friction’s 2014 Group Series Has Arrived! Meet the Authors, Enter to Win $25 Gift Card!

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Firestorm by Laura Harner

Cold SnapBlown Away coverHigher Ground cover

Pulp Friction Gang Rides Again!

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ScatteredThoughts is so happy to have the Pulp Friction gang (Laura Harner, TA Webb, Lee Brazil, and Havan Fellows) here again to talk about their 2014 Pulp Friction series and characters.

Contest: They have brought a $25 All Romance gift certificate to celebrate the start of the new Pulp Friction stories.  To be entered to win, just leave a comment and a email address where you can be contacted.  Contest ends 3/21.

Laura: Ever been on a roller coaster? I’m talking a no holds barred, twist and turn, wrench at your gut, show you your lunch, dislocate your spine and give you whiplash roller coaster? Yeah? They’re fun right? Try riding one for a whole year and you’ve got the equivalent of how the Pulp Friction gang felt our first year out the gate with Pulp Friction 2013 – Atlanta.

None of us knew what to expect – there was no rule book, no crib notes, not a damn cheat sheet on how to successfully do a quad-multiple series collection of books with crossovers from all the main characters and a lot of the minor ones while threading in one major mystery that would be the pinnacle of the final book written by all four authors while still spitting out a single book every fifteen days. *breathes* WOW – did we do that?

That is exactly what we did. And you know what? We nailed it! Sure, we had our ups and downs—someone forgot their character’s eye color, or that they had kissed another MC in a different book, or that they had to kill someone soon, or even that their deadline was next up—but our pow wow sessions helped keep everyone in line and were FUN!

Because if you aren’t having fun why the hell are you doing it?

But that’s enough about the past…let’s talk about what that experience did for the future of Pulp Friction. Let me introduce you to Pulp Friction 2014 Flagstaff!

We took everything we learned from last year and brainstormed about how we can learn from it and make another PF year – but do it bigger and better and bolder!
New main characters
More crossovers
Bonus books
Layers of plots that overlap
Teasers that keep you guessing
Cliff hangers
Shocking beginnings

That is one hell of a list we have going there, to make it easier let’s just focus on the first item today. Our new main characters.

I loved our boys of Atlanta, the original group of five and the four newcomers that joined them. They were terrific. So…

STRW: How did the Pulp Friction group step away from their beloved men of Atlanta and start anew?

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Tom: My first instinct was to carry over Marcus’s little (hah) brother and his new love interest into Flagstaff. Then I thought of two things; did I really want to make it “easy” on myself, and if I did, I’d have a revolt in the fan base, plus diminishing the integrity of the characters themselves.

I’ve been a little out of commission the past few months, and joined in the planning a little bit hit-and-miss. My three cohorts have been so patient and kind in their support, and when I thought about what I wanted to do next, their kick-ass enthusiasm made me want to stretch and make my next set of characters something very different. We see big alpha men and smaller mate types all the time. What if…the big guy was laid back and bottom, and the smaller guy was a little swishy, arrogant and an alpha queen? And what if he hit all the big guy’s buttons, but had a past that kept him from committing to a relationship?

Enter Charlie and Amos.

I decided to write in first person this time, and make it from Charlie’s point of view. Charlie is my almost-thirty construction contractor with a business he inherited when his dad died suddenly while Charlie was in college. So my big guy quit school, left his lover, and became the man of the house for his little brother who he adores, and his mom. Now, his brother is fifteen going on brat-aged, and his mother decides it’s time for Charlie to have a life of his own, outside work and family.

And then there’s Amos. Spiffy, smart, full of himself. He’s alone in the world, the owner of an art gallery, and a hit-it-and-leave-it kind of man. Bi-racial, a shorter, lean “mean-girl”, Amos sees Charlie, wants him, and tries his best to leave the man as a one night stand, but something draws him back. There’s heat and fire between them, and the fact Charlie is working for him, remodeling his gallery drives Amos crazy.

It’s bad enough they have their own issues that will cause them to back off from each other, but Charlie’s brother Damon, who is NOT impressed with Amos, creates all kinds of commotion.

Now, with those characters, who will notice Marcus and his Benjamin are in Atlanta, happily married?

See? PF2014Flagstaff rocks, baby!

*
Havan: It wasn’t easy, I was really scared. Everyone seemed to either love or hate Wick—but they all agreed they wanted more of him. Were they going to look at Rowen and Mick and expect to see Wick in one of them? I hoped not, because personally there could only be one Wick in my life.

Then one night we were brainstorming about Pulp Friction 2014 and Flagstaff and I thought to myself—my guy is a recluse! After months of not being able to think of anybody to write the next year Rowen slammed me with an overabundance of information about himself. He was a loner who wasn’t an ass, but darn sure wasn’t an open and inviting person. He doesn’t trust easily, he has issues (I know really? lol) He…well I guess I shouldn’t say too much about him, you know? But who in their right mind would agree to go toe to toe with such a man?

Mick approached me with a huge smile on his face. Talk about the epitome of a happy go lucky no worries type of guy—oh he’s perfect for Rowen! Now comes the fun part. In book one you got an introduction to the characters…what book two has to offer, well you’ll find out in mid-April. 🙂

On a side note, I’ve been asked if I’m done writing about Wick and Ned? I believe in never saying never…*blinks* even if I just said never twice, I mean three times. I haven’t closed the door on Wick or Ned—I probably never will—but right now Wick is more interested in enjoying what Ned has to offer than what I do. *winks*

*

Lee: Some might say I took the easy way out by bringing over one of my characters from Atlanta. That seed, by the way, was carefully planted in the final books of 2013. You’ll find mention of Cannon’s relocation in Chance in Hell and Odd Man Out. It probably wasn’t all that surprising then for many people to see him.

I don’t think that using an established character lightened my work load though. Cannon is not an easy man to like. I think just about everyone who read PF 2013 absolutely loathed the man.

By moving him to Flagstaff I committed to taking this man everyone hated and showing what went on in his head, making him likeable and heroic even.

In light of the fact that Cannon was supposed to be the love interest in Chances Are, I felt I owed it to the man. After all, it wasn’t his fault that everyone, including Chance, liked Rory better. I knew by the time I finished Chances Are that Cannon had lost his place, but I continued to abuse him throughout the series. Creating a HEA for a villain everyone despised won’t be easy at all.

But after everything he went through, Cannon deserves a chance at happiness.

Finn Lorensson is just the man to give it to him. Finn was born in a single moment, from a few lines that popped into my head before I even started writing notes for the stories. If you’ve read Cold Snap, you probably recognize these lines. For me, they are the essential sum of Finn’s character.

“I like to hear a man’s voice crack when he says please. I like to hear the soft desperation in the way he breathes. I like to see his skin flush and his chest heave.
“I like to know he wants what only I can give.”

Perfect for Cannon, don’t you think?

*

Laura: I’ll echo what the others said about starting over with new characters being scary. We all have ideas for books, but it isn’t easy to come up with an idea that will meld with the ideas of three other authors.

I spent many years working for the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management and given the tragic fire in Prescott this past summer, the characters of Scott, the injured wildland firefighter, and Robby, the NPS Ranger, are a natural fit for me.

In the first book, Scott is clearly shown to be a hero, but there are hints to his personality there. He will always rush in first, consider consequences later. I think you’ll see the dark side to that character trait in the next book, Controlled Burn.

Robby tends to be the opposite. He wants to consider all of the angles, and will almost always make decisions on what he believes is best for everybody—often at his own expense.

I also have a little surprise for fans of my Willow Springs Ranch Series. Park and Tanner arrive at Mountain Shadows and interact with a few of the characters in a brand new PF 2014 Bonus Book. Kismet and Cartwheels will be out this week, along with the next release in the Fighting Fire Series, Controlled Burn.

We really want to thank all of the Pulp Friction fans who have spread the word about our crazy interconnected serial fiction: four series, 20 books, the grand finale. In Atlanta, we started with a core cast of characters, who already considered themselves family. In PF 2014, we hope you will enjoy watching this group of relative strangers grow into a family by choice. Sort of the way Tom, Havan, Lee and I have become a family, too.

Be sure to leave a comment to enter for a chance to win a $25 All Romance eBooks gift card. And again contest ends 3/21.

Thanks for hosting us, Melanie.

STRW:  Thanks for stopping by, everyone.  I can’t wait to read the next books in the series.  Again, don’t forget to leave a comment with your email address to be entered to win the $25 ARe gift certificate! Contest ends 3/21/2014.

Pulp Friction 2014: From the Pulp Friction Group: The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends. The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Review: Firestorm (Fighting Fire #1) by Laura Harner

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Firestorm by Laura HarnerAfter a wildland fire put Scott McGregor on the disabled list and ended his career as a firefighter, Scott had to start his life anew.  While in the hospital, an old emergency contact number saw the reentry into his life of Robby Hammond, a former college lover of his.  Together they see  Scott settled into his new home and life as owner of the Mountain Shadows Campgrounds.  Comprised of a number of rental cabins as well as a bed and breakfast, Mountain Shadows is full of challenges, not the least of which is having Robby Hammond back in his life again.

Finding Scott again after all these years is hard enough for Robby but then to see Scott alone and in pain in that burn unit, well, that was enough for Robby to do the unthinkable and uproot his own life.  Leaving San Francisco is hard but taking a job as a law enforcement ranger part time is even harder. Robby, like Scott, has to adjust to a new town, Flagstaff, and a new residence too.  What is not new to either man is the white hot attraction that sparks back to life the moment they see each other again.

But what forced them to separate the first time around remains between them causing them both unlimited hurt.  Still the flames of love and passion continue to rise.  Where there is smoke, there is sure to be fire…sooner or later.

The Pulp Friction authors have started the adventure once more!  Firestorm (Fighting Fire#1) is the first in Laura Harner’s series for the Pulp Friction 2014 interconnected storyline and its off to a terrific start.  Comprised off just six chapters, Harner dumps the reader immediately into Scott’s new life as he travels with Robby from the burn unit in Albuquerque where he was recently discharged to the Mountain Shadows campground where he is to begin his new life.  We learn bits and pieces of Scott (and Robby’s past) as they travel the road up the mountain uncertain of exactly what his new property looks like.

I love riding along with the characters as they prepare to start this new chapter in their lives.  It brings us face to face with all the uncertainty and stress of the unknown ahead of Scott.  The property was bought sight unseen and Scott has no idea of what lies ahead of him.  Harner gives us a man on the precipice of a monumental life change and this character is reeling with the stress of the changes he has gone through while still trying to recover from the burns of the fire.  It makes Scott both  someone we can empathize with and relate to, complete with limp and scarring, emotional and physical.

Packed on top of all the drastic changes in his life, the reentry of Robby Hammond adds one more tumultuous layer to the situation Scott faces.  Harner is crafty in only doling out bits and pieces of Scott and Robby’s past relationship as they travel together to get Scott settled in at the campground lodge that is to be Scott’s home.  We see that they loved each other and that the physical and emotional attraction to each other is still very present.  But other than that?  Nothing until a shocker that arrives at the very end of this first story that both explains so much while still leaving us with loads of questions to be answered.

In Firestorm, Laura Harner is setting the stage for the rest of her series and the first inklings of the interconnected characters and relationships from the other authors.  I love the tone and pace of the story as well as the depth of characterization and surprising elements she is building into the relationships and storylines.  What a great setting too.  The wildness of the habitat just outside the door is aspect of the story that brings challenges of its own to all the people present as well as acting almost like an additional character as well.  I got to the end and immediately wanted more.  So will you.  Consider this story, this series and in fact, the entire  Pulp Friction 2014 group highly recommended.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Cover is great, perfect for the character and story within.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 62 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Hot Corner Press
ASINB00HV33EGG
edition languageEnglish
seriesFighting Fire
Buy links Amazon, ARe
One of the Pulp Friction 2014 Series

 From the Pulp Friction Group: The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends. The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by Tom Webb

Review: Cold Snap (In From the Cold #1) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Cold SnapWhen Dagfinnr Lorensson, professor of literature, comes across a freezing Dr. Cannon Malloy in the staff parking lot, it’s not the first time the two men have met, but only one of them remembers.  Cannon Malloy has just arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona, fleeing the traumatizing events and deadly stalker of the last summer in Atlanta.  Cannon is to take over the neurosurgery clinic at the university.  Somehow Cannon thought putting a large distance between himself and his friends in Atlanta  (Chances Are series) would help him get past the events that have left his hands shaking and himself fearful almost all of the time.

Now Cannon stands shivering next to his 66 Shelby, painfully aware that clearly neither his beloved car or himself was prepared for the winter weather that occurs in Flagstaff and the mountainous regions that surround it.  Dagfinnr rescues Cannon and takes him to a local  hotel where Finn is staying until the roads are safe to travel home.  The night at the inn ends in explosive sex.

But Cannon is a man living in fear and even the smallest emotional advances send him running out into the night, seeking the refuge of his new rental cabin on Mountain Shadows.  It’s not until Cannon runs into trouble again on the snow packed mountain road that he realizes his rescuer from work is also his new neighbor.  With winter storms and proximity working to throw them together, will Finn find a way past Cannon’s shields and his fear?  And will Cannon find the strength to stop running and let someone inside all the barriers he has raised against love?

Cold Snap is another terrific start to what looks to be a gripping and emotion packed series.  Unexpectedly Lee Brazil has brought Cannon Malloy, a problematic character if ever there was one, over from the original Pulp Friction 2013 group series.  Now a main character, Cannon Malloy is someone the reader is certain to feel ambivalent about.  He was the closeted man who hurt Chance so deeply in the Chances Are series. His return into Chance’s life sparks all sorts of upheavals in the core relationships of the Pulp Friction 2013 group of friends.  He disappears towards the end of that storyline after some horrific events.  It now appears that he ran off to Arizona in hopes of starting a new life as an out gay man for the first time in his life.  This process starts to transform a self involved personality into someone the reader can start to relate to and empathize with by slowly revealing the frailties behind the self centered appearance.

And to help in this process hopefully is Dagfinnr Loresson, professor of English literature, neighboring renter at the cabins at Mountain Shadows (the location for the Pulp Friction 2014 series), and apparently a man searching for love and a little kink with Cannon Malloy.   As this is just the first story in the series, Brazil is laying the groundwork necessary for the complicated relationship that is sure to follow.  Here it would help to have read the previous Pulp Friction series or at least the Chances Are series, although not completely necessary as the author starts to work bits and pieces from Cannon’s past into the current storyline.

Towards the end of the last series, Cannon was starting to explore the world of bdsm sexuality and it did not go well for a number of reasons. But all those unanswered questions and unresolved feelings are still there under all the barriers Cannon has erected to protect himself from physical and emotional harm.  And Finn recognizes that in Cannon he might have meet the man to match his own desires and kink.  The drama and, I expect, the fun, will be in watching the author brings these two disparate personalities together into a rewarding relationship.

There are also mysteries that start to emerge and I expect elements from Cannon’s past to figure into the plot as well.  I have always found it hard to believe that Brazil can pack so much story into only 56 pages.  The characters are so vivid and real that they threaten to burst out of the page and the location feels as alive as the tall trees that surround the cabins and main lodge.  My only complaint is, that like an addictive snack, you finish one and then immediately want to reach out for the next.  That’s the way I feel about Cold Snap and all the rest of the Pulp Friction 2014 series.

The anticipation has settled in.  My curiosity is engaged and the suspense is building.  I am already in love with the series and all the characters, wounded, quirky, dominate, and complex, that are showing up one by one at Mountain Shadows.  There are so many elements to be found here, love, romance, kinky sex, wounded men, and mystery, that there is something for everyone.  I definitely consider this highly recommended!

Cover art by Laura Harner is terrific and perfect for the man and story inside.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 56 pages
Published January 30th 2014 by Lime Time Press
ASIN B00I5SWYZS
edition language English
series In From the Cold, Pulp Friction 2014

One of the Pulp Friction 2014 Series

 From the Pulp Friction Group: The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends. The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by Tom Webb