A Bj Review: Unconventional In San Diego Anthology (Authors Carol Lynne, Amber Kell, T.A. Chase, Jambrea Jo Jones, Devon Rhodes)

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Overall Rating:   3.75 stars out of 5

Unconventional In San Diego Anthology coverThis anthology features stories by Carol Lynne, Amber Kell, TA Chase, Jambrea Jo Jones, and Devon Rhodes; the stories are tied together by a common setting, a paranormal club/bar in San Diego named Unconventional.

Fate’s Bridge by Carol Lynne – 2.75 stars


Vampire Roman Gschwind discovers the soul of his lost love inside the body of another. Having promised not to turn his love, he has no choice but to allow his brother Alexi to do so in order to save his life. But now he must decide if he’s willing to share his love with another vampire in order to rekindle what he lost?

This one started well, but quickly became disjointed for me. This story has quite a lot of M/M/M sex and very little buildup of sexual tension beforehand, which made it a bit flat for me. There wasn’t a lot of character development, especially of Alexi, and that combined with lower levels of UST than I prefer kept me from forming a connection to the characters. Reincarnation is an interesting theme, so I was looking forward to that aspect. Julian and Roman’s story was touching, and the ending gave it such a bittersweet twist that it made me teary. But I think the story suffered because of length and moving too fast, especially at the beginning.

Coming in Third by Amber Kell – 3.5 stars

Niall is a fae prince who’s fifth in line for the throne, and his mother wants him wed. When Niall sneaks out of the palace to fulfill a fantasy of having two men, he winds up at Unconventional faced with a pair of lion shifters looking to spice up their love life. After a night with him, Jovan and Luka’s shifter instincts tell them the innocent fae could be their long sought mate—the one fated to be theirs. But Niall’s guards cart him back to the palace and a possible arranged marriage. Will the shifters go after him or let it be the one-night stand Niall had offered?

For those who might be bothered by it, be aware that this one has some abuse (past/off page) both from Niall’s domineering, controlling mother and the guards who string him up and whip him at his mother’s instructions. Niall is a magical fae, but the bindings his guards use strip away his magic. This is a case of an established couple bringing in a third who had been search for exactly such a situation, hence no jealousy or angst. I loved that Niall glowed when sated, and that despite being small, he was strong both physically and mentally (the former because of his magic). A cute story with some interesting world details and a satisfying ending. Some humor in this one. Also some rather weird metaphor use, some of which worked for me and others which totally didn’t.

The Unicorn Said Yes by T.A. Chase – 3 stars

Ivan Brusilov, king of the unicorns, goes to Unconventional for a drink and meets Carney Ferguson—a twenty-five year old human virgin. Turns out that innocence, and hence virgins, are irresistible to unicorns! But there are darker forces at work and neither Ivan nor Carney are safe and things are not as they seem.

This was cute at first but got to be confusing at parts. There was an awful lot of telling vs showing and some repetitiveness. I found it strange that they were both so into the Kinsey scale enough to have known their exact number ratings. I enjoyed Carney’s brother Jordan quite a bit. Many things about the way the story as a whole was told didn’t work so well for me, but the premise was quite unique and interesting and the tension and intrigue in the latter half was well done.

Blood on the Moon’ by Jambrea Jo Jones – 3.75 stars

Montague Ramey is a witch seeking exciting in his boring everyday life. Then came the night the moon turned red and his life changed. Kishar Nichelson’s is an incubus whose motorcycle ended up in a ditch on the road at midnight under the red moon and then stalled out on him. Someone’s after him, but he can’t remember what happened exactly and he’s weak from lack of sex that its hard for him to think. Can a witch and an incubus find love and solve a mystery on the night of the blood moon?

Montague is a rather sad, mousy man at the start of this story. And not really very appealing. This story, like the one before, had lots of telling vs showing at the start, but I liked how it tied in some characters from prior stories. There was a contradiction that bothered me and took me out of the story early on–him wishing out loud for something exciting to happen in one sentence and cowering from having even said it out loud in the next. Huh? BUT…

Kishar, on the other hand, was quite interesting from the start. An incubus who chooses to feed his need for sex with other paranormals rather than harm the delicate, fragile humans. And once the two are together, it starts to work for me. The head-hopping made it a bit hard to follow at parts, but I enjoyed seeing both characters grow and change once they found each other. Overall, it was a bit playful with some nice action and a sweet HEA.

A Sliver of Sunset by Devon Rhodes – 4.25 stars

Angelo is the only paranormal known to ever have leukemia, and the doctors are mystified as to the cause. To cure himself, he must repress his shifter side with a chemical inhibitor so he can go through chemotherapy as a human. Dominic hooked up with hottest guy and spent a night having the best sex ever, but wakes to find his lover gone. A week later, he meet a new oncology patient to find the same man fighting for his life and dependent upon his care.

This is by far my favorite story in this anthology. Angelo intrigued me from when I read about him in one of the earlier stories, and I hoped we’d get more about him. Glad I was right. More than any of the other stories, this one gave a sense of being set in San Diego (where I lived for some years in the past). This anchor story of the collection also did an excellent job of tying all the stories together.

I won’t give away exactly what sort of paranormal Angelo is, since that’s a fun part of the story to learn as you go. I don’t usually like to read stories in which one of the MC has cancer (or any possibly fatal disease), but this was an exception. This is well-written, well-paced and all-around enjoyable read.

The cover is appealing; picturing the cityscape and two hot guys in sunglasses, so it has a definite San Diego feel and caught my eye. However, I don’t think it gave me much of a feel for the stories within as nothing about it says paranormal.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 198 pages
Published July 11th 2015 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781784306878
edition languageEnglish
other editions (1)
Unconventional in San Diego

It’s A Series Spotlight! Storming Love: Flood from MLR Press! (6 authors, 1 giveaway)

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StormingLoveFlood_base

 Storming Love: Flood 6 Book Collection from MLR Press!

Storming Love: Flood Authors: NJ Nielsen, Jenn Dease, Jambrea Jo Jones,

AC Katt, Pelaam, Cherie Noel

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Winter has left, however slowly, and Spring is upon us!  With it can come torrential rains and the accompanying floods.  MLR Press has a new collection with love, romance and wild weather once more at its heart!  This time its floods.  Check out all the authors, titles, couples and details below.    Now grab an oar and let’s start paddling!

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Storming Love: Flood Couples names:
NJ Nielsen: Adrian and Lockie
Jenn Dease: Bridge and Doug
Jambrea Jo Jones: Pete and McKenzie
AC Katt: Derrick and Steven
Pelaam: Euan and Gregg
Cherie Noel: Patric and Sam

A note from Jambrea Jo Jones on Pete and McKenzie,her Storming Love: Flood Couple!

Thank you for letting me stop by the site!

I’m part of the Storming Love series MLR Press is doing. I’m taking on the disaster that is known as the flood.

We have our fair share of floods in Indiana. I remember one really bad one when I was younger. I’m pretty sure it made national news.

Watching the national news and seeing cars floating in the street because someone didn’t pay attention to floor warnings has me shaking my heads, but I can see how it can happen. You think you’ve got a car that can take a little bit of water then it starts gushing in and you’re stuck. Which happens to my poor hero, McKenzie. You can find out what happens when you read the book.

Please leave a comment for your chance at an ebook copy of my story from Storming Love, Pete & McKenzie.

Jambrea_Jo_JonesBlurb:

McKenzie Hallowell was born and bred in Copper Creek. He knew what could happen during flash flood season, but that didn’t stop him from driving through water during a storm. Almost dying might be the best thing that ever happened to him.

Pete Compton moved to town five years ago to take over a feed store. He’d been crushing on McKenzie Hallowell almost from the start. A flash flood brings them together, but will it also bring them love?
Again, thanks for letting me stop by!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Release dates and Blurb(s):

April 3
STORMING LOVE: FLOOD – Adrian & Lockie by N.J. Nielsen: 30,270 wordsN.J._Nielsen
Adrian Clarke knows his life is a hot mess. This is only one of the reasons he boards a plane and flies halfway around the world—so he can escape everything that’s determined to see him break. Lockie Rivers has worked his whole life on Tenderfoot Downs. After his boss died, Lockie remained as caretaker for the new owner—a man who’d never even set foot on the place. When circumstances bring them face to face, a flash flood comes along to threaten their very existence. Can virtual strangers work together to save their home, their hearts, and find their own slice of heaven?

April 10
STORMING LOVE: FLOOD – Bridge & Doug by Jenn Dease: 22,400 wordsJenn_Dease
Fourth generation lawman, Bridge Bridgerton, has never seen Copper Creek, Texas, flood before. Doug Jones is a lifeguard stopping in Copper Creek to look after his grandfather’s house. Together, they help rescue some of the residents trapped in the rising water. And together, they feel an attraction for each other that gets stronger day by day. But, will they be able to stay together once the water goes down?

 

April 17
STORMING LOVE: FLOOD – Pete & McKenzie by Jambrea Jo Jones: 10,300 wordsJambrea_Jo_Jones
McKenzie Hallowell was born and bred in Copper Creek. He knew what could happen during flash flood season, but that didn’t stop him from driving through water during a storm. Almost dying might be the best thing that ever happened to him.
Pete Compton moved to town five years ago to take over a feed store. He’d been crushing on McKenzie Hallowell almost from the start. A flash flood brings them together, but will it also bring them love?

 

April 24
STORMING LOVE: FLOOD – Steven & Derrick by A.C. Katt: 13,102 wordsA.C.Katt
When a flash flood strikes, Steven stays behind at school to find a little girl who hid from the storm. His lover, Derrick, comes to rescue them both but can only get Josie out. Will Derrick be able to get back to the elementary school in time to get Steven or will he lose him to the raging flood waters?

 

May 1
STORMING LOVE: FLOOD – Euan & Gregg by Pelaam: 21,527 wordsPelaam
Euan looks forward to spending time with his best friend, and unrequited love, Gregg. But Gregg has a confession himself, he isn’t the straight jock Euan thinks. When the truth emerges, Euan learns of a side to his friend’s life he never imagined.
Just as they find out the truth Mother Nature unleashes her fury and they’re trapped on a mountain during the flood.
Even if they weather nature’s storm, there is still a more personal fury to be faced.

May 8
STORMING LOVE: FLOOD – Patric & Sam by Cherie Noel: 17,515 wordsSamPatric_CherieHall_StormingFlood
Patric Carselowey stole Samuel Touchet-Smith’s heart six years ago in an incendiary act of passion. Then he disappeared, joining the Army without a word. When he returned, treating Sam like stranger, he broke Sam’s heart. Now Sam’s meddling Maman and sister have booked him a hiking tour with Patric as the guide. Caught in the unexpected storm, will Sam’s wounded heart be healed during their race to safety or crushed once and for all by lingering misunderstandings and lost memories?

Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Kris Jacen
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, Romance, Western/Cowboy (Please note that not all books will contain all elements.)

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Sales Links:  Storming Love: Flood at MLR Books

Patric and Sam by Cherie Noel
Chapter One

Sam’s first indication that the damnable duo of Céleste and Delphine Touchet-Smith were plotting about his love life—again—came during Sunday dinner. The twin terrors of Copper Creek, Texas, a.k.a. his beloved maman and mostly tolerated sister, couldn’t go more than six months without interfering in les affaires de coeur, or if you wanted it in plain English, matters of the heart. Sam’s heart to be precise. They called it trying to get him settled. He called it a damned lot of tom-foolery. Seeing as Maman and Del were well into their eighth month without any shenanigans, Sam let himself get a touch too comfortable. He couldn’t help it. He liked the lack of what his maman called—and good Lord did the woman ever lay on the French accent thick as anything when she said it—eligible bachelors showing up out of the blue for Sunday dinner. He really should have seen it coming, though.
Sadly, he didn’t. Instead he tumbled through the weather beaten door of the hundred year old farmhouse where he’d grown up with only seconds to spare—if he was lucky—before his maman decided he was late. Lord help him if that happened, because then she’d start to think up ways to punish his “lack of proper decorum”. His mind firmly fixed on the delicious meal in his immediate future, Sam hot-footed it into the house blind as a new kitten and innocent as a fluffy little baby chick. With his mind more on squeaking in under the wire than being alert to signs and symptoms of meddling, he was ripe for their not-so-subtle machinations.
His wind-milling arms and rubber-chicken legs were half excessive speed on the well waxed floorboards of the front hall, half pure nerves, and one hundred percent Sam. He thanked his lucky stars he wasn’t in Del’s line of sight when he came in, because that would have been fuel for her to heap on the bonfires of their lovingly antagonistic sibling rivalry. She got plenty of mileage out of his clumsiness as it was. His whole life had been plagued by the same trademark lack of grace–it happened anytime he got too nervous. Today’s occurrence made perfect sense in light of his late arrival and the possible revocation of all beignet and crawfish étouffée privileges for a full week. Sam whimpered at the thought.
While enduring a longer span of time than seven days without Maman’s famous étouffée caused severe mood swings, more than three days without beignets might well be a death sentence. That was Sam’s philosophy on the matter and he saw no reason to ever risk such a dire outcome. So he zipped out of his Jeep, sprinted across the front porch, and then yes, tumbled through the front door with no thought to who or what might be on the other side.
Maman and Del’s chattering voices flowed from the kitchen, echoing back and forth down the hall. Paying them all his attention, he tripped over Cletus, otherwise known as Cletus the Lazy, Maman’s old brindle mess of long legs, floppy ears and slobber. Maman insisted he was an example of canine perfection. If you asked Sam the mutt was far from achieving the pinnacle of dogdom. In point of fact, the disreputable lump spent ninety percent of his time masquerading as a throw rug in the front hall—directly in the path of anyone coming in the door. Therein lay the problem. The dog too, or Sam might have gotten all the facts quicker and hightailed it out of Maman’s front door before he got caught in her matchmaking scheme.
All Sam knew in the moment was that he was sweating like a whore in church and praying Maman was in a good mood. Then, he swore he heard Del saying his name with intent as stepped forward to shut the front door. He tip-toed along like a ninja or a spy—at least in his mind—but was foiled by Cletus. The mange infested throw rug yelped out a piteous aaaarrrhhh—oooo—wee and followed that up with a snuffle-whuffle and the doggy sad-side-eye. All sounds from the kitchen ceased. A weighty beat of silence passed, and then Sam’s maman called out. Her dulcet tones dripped false innocence as they echoed along the passageway. Good Christ, he really should have known.
“Samuel, cher, we’re just finishing up in the kitchen. You go on mon fils, wash up now. We be through to the dining room in a moment.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Maman, we ain’t in de Louisiana bayou no more. You gotta use English. Proper American-style English. I know you speak it, what with all the times you done tanned my backside for not speaking proper when I was in school.”
A choked off snort followed by a thwapping sound came from the kitchen. Then the amusing melody of his sister’s indignation. “Maman, you didn’t have to smack me with the spatula. You got to admit, Sam talking his personal proper Texas-American style language is pretty damn funny.”
Another thwap echoed down the hall. Sam snickered. Del yelped, louder than Cletus had, and then Sam’s maman was talking. Her tone, all edge of the bayou Creole haughty with a dash of pure southern belle temper made it clear he’d gone and stepped in a heap of trouble. Between her conciliatory tone, the lack of reprimand for stepping on Cletus, and her handling of Del, the handwriting was on the wall. It was too late for him to escape altogether, but he stood a fair chance of mitigating the damage if he could figure out what the heck those two half-crazy bayou belles were plotting. Waiting in silence should push one of them to fill the void. Maman’s long, soft vowels and deliberate Parisian-style French warned him. Whatever they were planning, he was gonna be madder than a twice baited bull.
“Ah, we-el, mon fils, je suis tres desole. No matter. I will do my best to speak only the finest King’s English, no?”
Delphine appeared around the edge of the kitchen door before Maman stopped speaking. Her soft brown eyes huge in her little heart-shaped face, she hissed at him. Waving her hands back and forth like angry birds picking at a scarecrow, she advanced.
“Oh my gosh. Sam, I swear Maman dropped you on your head every day you was a boy! Lock up your lips tout de suite before Maman kicks us both out without supper. Just think about it. No more homemade beignets, no crawfish étouffée…and a whole week long to wait for another chance at them.”
Narrowing his eyes, Sam sniffed and pointed at his sister. “I can make my own red beans and rice, little cat, so put your claws away. And…ah, hell, get out of the way so I can go apologize to Maman.”
His vain attempt to camouflage the utter terror of going so long without Maman’s beignets only caused his sister to smile, flip the long tail of her braid over her shoulder, and murmur as she sashayed around him. “Suck up.”
Sam grunted. “You’re damn skippy I am, cher. Ain’t a body on Earth can cook like Maman…I plan on staying in her good graces forever.”
Del laughed, just like he knew she would. Warmth spread through his chest. Sisters. Shaking his head, Sam curled one side of his mouth up and flicked the end of her braid. He never got tired of being able to predict how she would react. Chuckling quietly, Sam ambled through the kitchen door. Spreading his arms, hanging his head and gazing up through his lashes, he gave his best little boy grin. “Sorry Maman. I didn’t mean no disrespect.”
Céleste tossed a small kitchen towel over one shoulder. “Hmmpf.”
Sam snuggled up to her, bending down to hug her tight. “Je suis tres desole, Mamam. Ne soyez pas en colère contre moi.”
Laughing, Céleste pushed him toward the dining room doorway. “Delphine is right. You are a suck up. You sit down, cher. I still be serving crawfish étouffée, you terrible boy. Non, non, you were late getting here, Sam, and you think I did not notice? On second thought, you get right back up. Go help your sister set the table if you want to earn your way back into my good graces.”
They waited until he was stuffed fuller than a suckling pig destined for the table before dropping the bomb. When Del met his eyes directly, and Maman cleared her throat twice in a row, Sam froze in place. Del’s smile wobbled ever so slightly as she began to speak.
“Now, Sam, we done paid already, and there’s no refunds possible.”
Eyes closed to mere slits, Sam waited her out.
“The thing is, you been working too hard. Everybody says so. And wel—”
Maman folded her napkin with small, neat motions, and Sam dropped his head forward to rest his forehead in the palms of both hands. “Just tell me what the two of you have cooked up besides the delicious étouffée I done just ate too much of?”
Del turned beseeching eyes toward Maman. The elder Touchet-Smith woman at least had the grace to get a splash of red in both cheeks. “Samuel, cher, we done booked you a little hiking trip. With Carselowey Tours. You work so hard taking care of us, ever since your père et grand-père, ah, father and grandfather passed. We just wanted to say thank you.”
Sam choked, coughed, and sprayed a mouthful of étouffée across the table, missing Delphine by inches. The bright smile Maman wore as she spoke dimmed. She and Delphine both stared down at their plates. Del grimaced.
“Oh, Sam, it was such a good deal, but because we booked so close to the departure date they can’t offer a refund. Well, except in case of death or extreme medical emergency. And I’m pretty sure bull-headed refusal to take a vacation don’t count.”
Closing both eyes, Sam sucked in a steadying breath before giving in as gracefully as he could.
“Ah. I guess that clears up the issue of what to do with my vacation days this year. When do I leave?”
Delphine cornered him in the front hall after he’d made his farewells to Maman and before he made good on his bid for freedom. Wrapping a strand of her curly brown hair around one finger, she plunked her back against the front door and pressed both little palms against the center of his chest. “Listen, you hard head—I been hearing some things. I want you to promise me to go on this trip. I know you got some kinda powerful dislike for Patric Carselowey, but Maman put down a heap of money she had put by for something else just so’s you could take some time away from that store. I—just you promise to go, you hear me? Go. And maybe find out if there might have been some reason he did whatever made you come all over fulla hate for him so quick. Can you do that for me, cher?”
Sam glared down at Del. “You so fulla yourself. One day somebody going to throw a little magic your way bayou girl, and we see how you like that.”
Del huffed out a breath. “I never!”
“Ha. I’m going on this trip. For Maman. But you? Best admire those eyebrows while you still got them.” Sam backed away as he spoke, knowing Del would do the same thing as always in three-two-one…
“I’m gonna tell Maman you threatening my eyebrows again!” she screeched and lunged toward him. Sam dodged around her, jerked the front door open and ran like the wind. He laughed his fool head off all the way to his Jeep, too.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

  • About the authors:
    NJ Nielsen: NJ needs to write like she needs to breathe. It’s an addiction that she never intends to find a cure for. When you don’t find NJ arguing with Vlad, her muse or writing about the wonderful men in her stories, you’ll find her reading work by other authors she greatly admires. NJ lives in the SE of Qld, Australia with her family who all encourage her writing career even if she does occasionally call them by her character’s names. NJ thinks that anyone taking the time to read her stuff is totally awesome.
    Jenn Dease: Jenn Dease is a Chef with a reading and writing addiction. The six bookcases in her bedroom are proof of this. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh with one of those families that have four generations in a four block radius. The Redheads, or her sisters, are the best things in her life. When they want to be.
    Jambrea Jo Jones: Jambrea wanted to be the youngest romance author published, but life impeded the dreams. She put her writing aside and went to college briefly, then enlisted in the Air Force. After serving in the military, she returned home to Indiana to start her family. A few years later, she discovered yahoo groups and book reviews. There was no turning back. She was bit by the writing bug.
    She enjoys spending time with her son when not writing and loves to receive reader feedback. She’s addicted to the internet so feel free to email her anytime.
  • AC Katt: She lives in New Mexico with her husband and new cat who, just as she does loves paper and words. She got a late start to her writing career but is now in a writing frenzy. Go figure!
  • Pelaam: Living in clean, green New Zealand Pelaam is a multi-published author of m/m romance and erotica. She’s loved writing since childhood and to become an author is a cherished dream come true. She grew up reading fairy tales and watching science fiction, horror and fantasy. When not writing she can be found indulging in her other passions of cookery and wine appreciation.
    Cherie Noel: Cherie’s been in love with words since before she drew breath, and doesn’t see that ever changing. She write stories, full stop. Sometimes there’s music with them, sometimes they’re poems, and lately, to her great delight, a plethora of M/M fiction and erotic romance. Yum. Smexy man to the second…or third power…now that’s the kinda math Cherie can get behind!!

The hair curls or frizzes as it will, the eyes are green and tend to look in two different directions—no, really—and the rest is subject to change. You know the guy who didn’t know if he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man or a man dreaming he was a butterfly? Yeah, that’s Cherie, but substitute drag queen for butterfly and wacky, wild ex-Army chick for man.

Where to find the authors:

On Goodreads:

NJ Nielsen: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5042080.N_J_Nielsen
Jambrea Jo Jones: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2856938.Jambrea_Jo_Jones
Pelaam: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4425974.Pelaam
Cherie Noel: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4874967.Cherie_Noel

Facebook:
NJ Nielsen: https://www.facebook.com/norma.nielsen.9
Jenn Dease: https://www.facebook.com/Jenn.Dease.5
Jambrea Jo Jones: https://www.facebook.com/JambreaJoJones
AC Katt: http://www.facebook.com/ackatt
Pelaam: https://www.facebook.com/pamela.pelaamone
Cherie Noel: https://www.facebook.com/CherieNoel

Facebook Author Page:
NJ Nielsen:https://www.facebook.com/pages/NJ-Nielsen/793520884042153?ref=bookmarks
Jambrea Jo Jones: https://www.facebook.com/groups/565548900226323/
Pelaam: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pelaam/1467778320131583?ref=hl
Cherie Noel: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cherie-Noel/253662497986298

Twitter:
NJ Nielsen: @NJNielsen1 https://twitter.com/NJNielsen1
Jenn Dease: @momsdesk1 https://twitter.com/momsdesk1
Jambrea Jo Jones: https://twitter.com/Jambrea @jambrea
AC Katt: https://twitter.com/ackatt @ackatt
Cherie Noel: https://twitter.com/authornoel

Pinterest:
Jambrea Jo Jones: https://www.pinterest.com/jambrea/
AC Katt: : https://www.pinterest.com/ackatt/
Cherie Noel: https://www.pinterest.com/authorcnoel/
Other:
NJ Nielsen: Blogger: http://normanielsen.blogspot.com.au/ WordPress: https://nielsennj.wordpress.com/ Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/public-profile-settings?trk=prof-0-ovw-public_profile-secondary Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/108478475874292907770/posts
Jenn Dease: WordPress: http://www.jenndease.com
Jambrea Jo Jones: http://www.jambrea.com
AC Katt: http://www.ackatt.com http://www.ackattsjournal.com
Cherie Noel: Blogger: http://talesfromthewritingcave.blogspot.com/ Website: http://www.cherienoel.com/
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/cherie-noel/46/b2/52/

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Tour Dates & Stops:Parker Williams, Inked Rainbow Reads, MM Good Book Reviews, Bayou Book Junkie, Bike Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Carly’s Book Reviews, Tara Lain, BFD Book Blog, Hearts on Fire, Velvet Panic, Cate Ashwood, Charley Descoteaux, Chris McHart, The Hat Party, Up All Night, Read All Day, It’s Raining Men, Michael Mandrake

 

 STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $50 Gift Card. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Prizes and links provided by the publisher, authors, and Pride Promotions.

PLUS……Each author is also giving away a small gift at each blog stop. Either some small bits of swag, an eBook copy of their food story, or something from their backlist.   Leave a comment and an email address where you can be reached!

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Review of Unconventional at Best Anthology

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Rating: 3.5 stars

Unconventional at Best is an anthology from six authors of stories featuring romance in and around conventions.  GayRomLit convention last  year provided the inspiration for this selection of stories by Carol Lynne, TA Chase, Amber Kell, Jambrea Jo Jones, Stephani Hecht, and Devon Rhodes. The stories run the gamut of lovers reunited, best friends to lovers, alien love, geek love, confectionary love and love among tops and it all occurs at a convention.

I found this anthology to be a fifty fifty proposition.  Out of 6 stories,only three kept me completely entertained, staying with me once I was done with the anthology.  The others remained just nice stories, forgotten as soon as I put them down.

Here are the ones that stayed with me. I think they are just wonderful stories.

‘Ninja Cupcakes’ by T.A. Chase

Ethan Gallagher is a baker of very special talents.  His cupcakes are not only delicious confections but when certain ingredients are added, downright magical.  When Ethan and his business partner agree to supply the desserts for his brother’s sci-fi convention, it presents the perfect opportunity for Ethan’s floury confections to work their particular magic on certain participants, including an astrophysicist Ethan has been corresponding with for four years. With just the right timing and the special ingredients, Ethan bakes cupcakes that insure that love is in the air or desserts.  Or perhaps we should say Ethan insures that  everyone gets their just desserts!

This is a delicious little story.  I have always found that cooking, or in this case baking, and magic were natural combinations. T.A. Chase does a terrific job of doing just that in Ninja Cupcakes.  From that great title to Chase’s wonderful characters, I just loved this story and wished to see them all again once I was done. This is fun, frothy and still is grounded in realistic characters that capture your hearts. Ethan and Callum were an especially endearing couple.  I wish I had their story, complete with how they first met, and what happening to each of them during their four year correspondence.T.A Chase, this would make a wonderful story.  Just saying.

‘Operation: Get Spencer’ by Jambrea Jo Jones:

“Even if superpowers were real, Benjamin still might not get his man.”  Good friends Benjamin and Spencer are spending the day at Comic-Con, something Spencer has always wanted to do.  Benjamin has a surprise for Spencer to go with their day at Comic-Con.  Benjamin intends to tell his friend that he is in love with him and decides the convention is the perfect time to reveal it.  The problem?  Spencer believes Benjamin is straight and with good reason as Benjamin has told everyone he is straight over and over again.  But Ben hopes that a convention where everything is possible is the perfect place to make Spencer believe in his love.

Friends to lovers and gay for you, both happen here in this story about sexuality, perceptions and fear of change.  Jones takes two completely recognizable characters and brings them together at Comic-Con for her story of friends and lovers.  Ben has been so busy denying that he is gay that everyone believes Ben is straight even if Ben no longer believes it himself.  His best friend Spencer is gay and they have always done everything together. But recently Ben has discovered that his feelings for Spencer go beyond friendship and into romantic love, but how to tell his best friend?

Jambrea Jo Jones makes us laugh and sympathize with Ben and Spencer throughout it all.  From Ben’s mishaps, missteps and outright screwing up his announcement, we are still on his side and hope he gets his man.  Spencer is authentically confused about Ben’s change of heart regarding his sexuality, we understand his point of view as well.  He doesn’t want to mess up his relationship with his best friend, his confidant, and we get that too. Somehow it all comes together in a satisfying end back where they started it all – Comic-con.

‘Fan-Tastic’ by Stephani Hecht

“Everybody knows the best lovers are geeks.” The setting this time is the annual Comic Book and Horror Convention.  Here Deke Masters, a well-known actor in a zombie TV show is ordered to appear on a panel for his show.  Also in attendance is Blake Tallision.  Blake is trying to sell his comic book Star Cats and other items that he has been working on so hard.  Blake also has a crush on Deke going back to their school days.  Even then Deke was a star and Blake the nerd hiding in the shadows of the stage.  To Blake’s amazement, Deke is a fan of Star Cats.  The convention turns out to be the perfect stage for a romance neither saw coming.

This was my favorite story of the anthology. In Deke Masters and Blake Tallision author Hecht gives us characters worth cheering for.  Blake is an especially memorable one.  In pursuit of his art, he has starved himself, living in the basement of his abusive mother’s home, almost despairing of making it.  Blake was so real I could see his skeletal frame and intense features. His vulnerability drew me in and kept me there. Deke also came across a fully realized human being, a guy who has worked to get where he is now but misses being wanted for just himself.  While Blake wants nothing more than to be noticed by Deke, when that happens, Blake is believably wary and insecure, not seeing himself as others do. Deke is perfect for him, the normal guy who just happens to be a tv star, he understands Blake’s struggle because he was once at that stage himself. Everything about this story from the dialog to the characters just cried out for a larger version, especially to delve further into the relationship between Blake and his mother who had a secret she was hiding from him.  Great job.