A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Sharp Shooter Tokyoite by Charlie Godwyne

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

It’s 2035 and Kei is a half-Japanese, half-American asthmatic forced to relocate to Vancouver in order to breathe. Despite the difficulties that being in Japan entails, Kei goes back time and again to spend time with Taka, best friend and confidante, and help him hunt illegal pornographers. But no matter how badly Kei wishes they could be together permanently, life seems determined to keep them apart.

I was so looking forward to this story from reading the blurb.  It had so many things that intrigue me, a Japanese location with Japanese or half Japanese characters with unusual jobs, who exist in a dystopian world.  Unfortunately the execution just didn’t pan out.

For starters, the narrative comes out as muddied instead of clearly defined.  There is a weird intro about shooting a crow that really has nothing to do with the rest of the story, nothing about the world building is substantial other than the fact that there are  pornographers still  in existence (not a surprise) and that the air quality is bad, even worse if you have asthma.  How is this supposed to be a reach when it already exists now?  When there are people who need to wear masks in cities during yellow and red zone days? It happens around the world now from Arizona to China so to have this story located in 2035 makes little sense.

So already you have 2 marks against this story.  Then you get to the characters.  Kei and Taka, who have such a disjointed relationship that there is absolutely no chemistry between them and therefore no connection between them and the reader.  I really couldn’t figure out why they wanted to stay together.

The best part of this story?  The very last part which was cut short when the story ended.  That’s when the author should have picked up and run with it, that whole concept was great.  But no, that was the end of the story.  Oh well.

Cover artist:  Natasha Snow.  Neat cover, nice design.

Sales Link:   Less Than Three Press  | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 40 pages
Published April 26th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620049860
Edition LanguageEnglish

Wendy Rathbone on Playing the “V” Card and her release The Android and the Thief’ (guest blog and excerpt)

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The Android and the Thief by Wendy Rathbone
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Wendy Rathbone here today, talking about her characters, writing and her  latest novel,  The Android and the Thief. Welcome, Wendy.

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Playing the “V” Card

by Wendy Rathbone

My new novel, “The Android and the Thief,” is just out from Dreamspinner. It takes place in the far future where there are cloud cities, space prisons and flying cars, but people are still people with the same wants, needs and desires as 21st century Earth.

The book is a romance with some dark elements but a lot of heart and two main characters who really came to life for me as I wrote.

Khim and Trev are two very different people from two very different backgrounds.

Trev is the youngest son of the head of an organized crime family. He is trapped by his life and a father who will never let him go.

Khim is a vat-grown human android, born adult. He is an indentured man, born to be subservient, a slave to his owners. Created to be a soldier, Khim spends the first ten years of his adult life fighting, killing, following orders. When he is injured and cannot be healed sufficiently to go back into combat, he is sold to a brothel, something he is not trained for. Life for him just got spectacularly worse, and his already weakened programming to be submissive completely breaks down.

One born in privilege, one born in servitude, both men suffer their lack of independence. Because of their sheltered existence, neither is especially cultivated in societal norms, especially relationships. Trev is an introverted bookworm, acrobat thief and computer guy. Khim, having no hope for a future, simply lives for combat, the only job he’s known.

I did not realize, until I got deep into the story with my characters yammering in my ear, that circumstances created both characters to not only be late bloomers, they meet as virgins.

My editor noticed this and made the comment: “Ah, so you’re playing the “v” card.” She did not criticize it, or tell me it was wrong. She simply noticed, and gave me a smiley face.

I thought to myself, “Wow, did I do that?”

Well, yes, I most certainly did.

I think it makes a story fun when you have two characters who are both desperately trying to escape untenable situations while at the same time discovering who they are. Everything around them changes. They must change, too, or failing that, regress to their former, unhappy selves.

Khim and Trev’s love story came about quite naturally. When they finally realize they are in love, it is very exciting for them. Two guys who have had the worst, finally get a bit of reward.

Question for readers: Do you have favorite characters from any media—books, TV, movies—that you love who are innocent, virginal, or even asexual?

Thank you for reading!

Here is an excerpt from “The Android and the Thief”:

Strangers bathed his body in lilac-scented water. They brushed him down, naked, with gold body powder. They rimmed his eyes with blue shadow and caressed his lips with a soft pink sheen.

Khim might have fought them off if, beforehand, they hadn’t made him breathe the curling zotic smoke from the pleasure wands the grooms waved all about his face and head. The smoke aroused him against his will, made him pliant, dizzy. Paralyzed his vocal cords—an invisible gag—and took away all aggression. Aggression under command orders for expert frontline fighting was his own past means of survival. Bereft of that, he had no sense of what to do as his body betrayed him by following every command of the grooms, every lead.

The grooms, three human boys who looked no more than nineteen, seemed pleased at his response. But mostly they seemed bored, applying all the makeup and powder as if they’d done it a hundred times before. Their touches were professional, gentle, not cruel. But except for that gentleness, they seemed uncaring about what he might be going through.

Created to obey, Khim had no words within him for a protest.

Brought onto a small lighted stage on a thin laser-leash by a fourth handsome groom, Khim could see nothing beyond the glow that contained him but shadows and darker man-shapes upon those shadows.

Knowing nothing of this new, nonmilitary world, he felt vulnerable and exposed, and fear fluttered through his stomach and into his chest. He knew what this was about—sex and its darker underpinnings. It couldn’t be otherwise, for he was naked, painted like a doll. He’d witnessed androids fucking without inhibition, but he’d never wanted it for himself. Never felt aroused by his own kind. Never had the sex drive some of the others seemed born with. If something was wrong with him, he never thought about it or cared. He got his pleasure from battle, from storming alien worlds and using his weapons to subvert, kill, destroy. It was enough for him.

But that was no longer his life.

This new thing was something so completely “other” to what he was trained for. He didn’t want it.

But his mind and body were like separate entities now. In this moment, upon this stage, as he tried again to find words to deny, to protest, to negate the proceedings, nothing happened but a few twitches in the sleek, round muscles beneath his henna skin. His voice was cramped down low in his throat, unwilling or unable to come out, and he was turned upon the dais as if he were a doll for all those out there in the shadows to ogle and critique and assess.

If there were conversations about his viability, his virility, his beauty, they were silent, through private systems and digital conveyances. He was privy to none of it, and Khim abhorred that even more.

The groom who’d led him into this dark area leaned away, put a hand up to his ear as if listening. Right after that, the groom made a motion and touched Khim on the wrist. He forced him to lift his right hand up and turn it, showing off the silver gleam of the metal that had replaced the flesh-and-bone hand he had lost in the explosion on Doom in Shadow.

It all took just under a minute. Then the grooms led Khim off by the glowing leash into a dark corridor beyond the little stage, where he was able to overhear just the barest of harsh whisperings.

*

Blurb for “The Android and the Thief” by Wendy Rathbone

Will love set them free—or seal their fate?

In the 67th century, Trev, a master thief and computer hacker, and Khim, a vat-grown human android, reluctantly share a cell in a floating space prison called Steering Star. Trev is there as part of an arrangement that might finally free him from his father’s control. Khim, formerly a combat android, snaps when he is sold into the pleasure trade and murders the man who sexually assaults him. At first they are at odds, but despite secrets and their dark pasts, they form a pact—first to survive the prison, and then to escape it.

But independence remains elusive, and falling in love comes with its own challenges. Trev’s father, Dante, a powerful underworld figure with sweeping influence throughout the galaxy, maintains control over their lives that seems stronger than any prison security system, and he seeks to keep them apart. Trev and Khim must plan another, more complex escape, and this time make sure they are well beyond the law as well as Dante’s reach.

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About the Author

Wendy Rathbone has been writing for years, but since 2012 her focus is mostly on m/m romance. She writes all genres but seems to prefer fantasy and sci fi. She is also an award-winning poet. She lives in Yucca Valley, California, USA.

Wendy Rathbone’s Social Media Links:

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Rathbone/e/B00B0O9BMS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1490462215&sr=1-2-ent

Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/cqDVcX

Blog: http://wendyrathbone.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.rathbone.3

A Lila Release Day Review: Falling Into the Black (A Planet Called Wish #3) by Caitlin Ricci

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Rate: 4 stars out of 5

Sometimes there’s a difference between duty and doing what’s right. And sometimes doing what’s right comes with a high price.

Every aspasian at Asiq adores the handsome peacekeeper Resan—all except for Arin. While the other workers vie for Resan’s attention, Arin avoids him at all costs, which rouses Resan’s suspicion. When he discovers Arin is a runaway slave, Resan is bound by law to return him to his master. It is only later that Resan realizes what he’s done.

Arin’s owner bought him at twelve, married him, and not only violated Arin himself, but loaned him out to his friends. Resan has returned him to a life of rape and abuse, and now he must make a decision: free Arin and abandon the oaths he swore as a peacekeeper, or leave him to languish and abandon his own conscience and heart.

Falling Into the Black has a different feel than the previous books in the series. Perhaps because it takes place on different planets in the galaxy, and Corbin & Thierry are just secondary characters with a limited participation in the story. Even when they do play an important role, and we get updates on their relationships.

Arin and Resan are interesting characters. As a peacekeeper, Resan sees everything as black or white, good or bad. On the other hand, Arin’s life experiences have shown him the diversity found in-between those places. It takes time, and many rough moments for them to see beyond their own perceptions and into a future together.

The first part of the story moves fast and gets into the main issues right away. I’m glad that Arin’s experiences weren’t too graphic even when they were heartbreaking. I did have trouble putting the book down because I wanted to know how everything would be resolved. It does slow down toward the middle before it picks up again.

There are several twists and turns, and when you think the story is almost over, it’s just halfway there. Some things are a bit gut wrenching but don’t take away from the story. I enjoyed learning about the rest of the planets, the species, and all their characteristics. The world-build makes sense and enhances the scenes instead of being intrusive.

I’m not too sure about the ending and that’s why the story isn’t five stars for me. It’s more of an HFN than anything else, but not exactly what I was expecting. I love this series and I hope another one comes out soon. I definitely want to read more about this world and the couples we have met.

The cover by Brooke Albrecht goes well with others in the series. But, Arin’s representation seems too human.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook, 145 pages
Published: March 17, 2017, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781635334890
Edition Language: English

Series: A Planet Called Wish
Book #1: To the Highest Bidder
Book #2: Fantasy for a Gentleman
Book #3: Falling into the Black

 

A VVivacious Release Day Review: Shaper by Christine Danse

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
 
I woke up running through the abandoned streets of Shapertown. I didn’t know who I was, where I had come from or even who I was running from. It was like I had come into this world running with the nebulous command of “Run” ringing through my brain. I hid myself only to be found by a pair of brown boots with red laces and I didn’t know if I should run or not. After all, where do you run when you have nowhere to go?
 
This book is Wow! It tells the story of a planet at the centre of the universe where reality itself is in a constant flux. In this world exist a group of people know as Shapers that can change the very matrix of reality with their thoughts. They are varied, each with specific abilities and the government seeks to control them leading to a rebellion and it is in these dangerous times that our story begins.
 
I loved the premise of this story. It is like the perfect mix of plausible married to boundless imagination and the story is beautifully written. I loved our main character for someone who has no idea who she is she is very balanced individual and I found myself engrossed in her story from the very beginning.
 
This book is a story first and foremost and that is the deepest compliment I can give it. This story is amazing. Some stories really amaze me with the extent of imagination and this was one of them. I am truly mystified by the planet of Mi’hani and the life that exists on it. I am very hopeful for the books that are to follow in this series because if the first book is any indication this is going to be one hell of a ride.
 
Our second main character is Natalia who is lethal in every way. I mean she has some mad skills but for once it was refreshing to meet an assassin, a killer who wasn’t jaded who felt the burden of the path she has led but tried to keep living with it instead of arresting her emotions, while still being a bloody fantastic person to read about. I loved the character of Natalia and I am very excited to see where her relationship with Lark is going to go.
 
This story is a gateway to a bigger picture and I can’t wait for the books that will enlighten that path.
 
Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I loved the colour especially its mix of the shades of blue and green that seem to sum up the universe. All in all it is a fabulous cover.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 45 pages
Expected publication: March 13th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781945952715
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Countermind by Adrian Randall

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5* with notations

countermind-by-adrian-randallIn a postprivacy future, secrets are illegal and all communication is supervised. Telepaths are registered and recruited by a government with no qualms about invading the minds of its citizens. Fugitive psychics are hunted by the Bureau of Counterpsychic Affairs, or Countermind.

Alan Izaki is one such fugitive, as well as a hacker, grifter, and thief.
Countermind agent Jack Smith is hunting him through the twisted underbelly of Hong Kong.

But Alan possesses a secret so dangerous and profound it will not only shake Smith’s loyalties, but the foundations of their society.

And Alan isn’t the only one on the run. Rogue psychic Arissa binti Noor escapes Countermind, in search of brilliant game designer Feng Huang. She hopes that together, they can destroy the government’s intrusive Senex monitoring system.

Their goals seem at odds, and their lives are destined to collide. When they do, three very different people must question their alliances and their future, because everything is about to change.

If there was ever a book I could divide up and give different ratings to, it would be Countermind.  Its taken me a while to decide how exactly to approach this review because I have such mixed emotions over this story.  If I had my druthers, the ratings would look something like this:

Rating: 2.5 stars for 50 percent of the book
Rating: 5 stars for the remaining 50 percent of the book

And that changes as I remember different parts, both good and bad.  Sometimes its 60/40 or 40/60.  Or even 30/70.  Really, this book confounds me.

Most of the lower ratings would come at the beginning, and yes, the middle as well.  The fragmented narrative, even from present day to future, from character to character (s) in the plot timeline was confusing at best, incoherent at its worst.  It was like getting snatches of plot and people only to be thrown into another situation entirely.  Jarring doesn’t begin to describe how a reader feels. Its so densely packed with information and plot threads that its overwhelming and the leaping here and there only serves to make a reader lose track of what has just been laid out in the short previous section.  Really, I started taking notes.

But I plugged along as this was an ARC I’d been given (and I’ve never had a DNF yet) and a funny thing happened.  Randall abandoned his broken storytelling, the narrative became linear and Countermind evolved into the story it could have been all along.  It turns into an masterful tale of suspense, an alternative universe where psychics are sought because they are regarded as both dangerous to the States as well as a highly regarded commodity or tool for the government to use depending upon their personality.  Randall also brings all those previously unconnected or loosely connected puzzle pieces together and locks them into the drama so now we are firmly invested in these characters futures (if they have any) and the next precarious, breath-taking turn of the page.

Why oh why didn’t this happen sooner?

I can understand if the author didn’t want us to connect the dots early on but surely there was another way of doing it other than frustrating the heck out of a reader and making the book as disjointed as this was in the beginning.

Even at the end, the author just can’t leave things alone.  Unless, Randall is planning on this being a series which is possible.  There is that whole thing about Korea and….no, I won’t go there.  But I thought that was more than a tad absurd too.  Damn, forgot about Korea.  Should have cut that out altogether, unless of course, there’s a sequel coming.  Wouldn’t surprise me at all.   See what I mean about this story? Shakes head.

What to tell you.  Well the great bits about this story are just that…really great.  Mind-bending, suspenseful, hold your breath, just loved it great!  And the stuff I found absurd, dense, and fragmented?  Bad enough to make you not want to plow further into the story.  But I found it worth it.  It all depends upon if you like this genre enough to want to read Countermind.  If you do, tell me what you think.  I’m truly interested.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is terrific.  Works great for the character and storyline.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 286 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1635332699 (ISBN13: 9781635332698)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Day Blitz: Learning to Want by Tami Veldura (excerpt)

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Title:  Learning To Want

Author: Tami Veldura

Publisher: Nine Star Press

Release Date: November 21 2016

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30k words

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, BDSM (spanking, dominance, denial)

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.

Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.

Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.

Excerpt

Learning to Want
Tami Veldura © 2016
All Rights Reserved

Khoram couldn’t help testing his bonds. The metal chain between his hands and feet rattled, laughing at his attempts. The line of slaves shuffled forward one space, and Khoram was dragged along whether he wanted it or not. A lot of things were happening whether he wanted them to or not. The food he ate, the beer he drank, the clothes they took, the hands that verified he was in working condition. He flinched at the memory.

To distract himself he looked up and tried to count the days. Four behind bars on Elliot’s ship thanks to good-for-nothing Nik, six on the small space hopper, three in the holding cells while he and the Ohiri waited for another connection, two in the transport that left them here on Dulia, five—no, six now—at the auction house. Twenty-one days for Nik to cover his tracks. Almost a full cycle for the trail to go cold. Khoram grit his teeth. At the very least something different was happening.

The slave line shuffled forward.

Here, off stage, they kept the rooms mostly dim. It didn’t diminish Dulia’s oppressive heat in the slightest, but the closer Khoram was guided to the glowing roll-up door of the slave block, the more he longed for home. His fitful dreams tortured him with visions of Avois’s wet jungles and waterfalls. He hadn’t actually been home in over a decade, too busy making his fortune as an enforcer and bodyguard, but he was starting to see the error of his ways. Or at least the error of Nik’s.

Khoram licked his lips. He pressed them together, already regretting it. They’d been chapped dry for days. His wrists and ankles chafed under the iron. These were better discomforts than the lingering slick between his legs and exactly what lay on the other side of that bright doorway.

A Dulia lizardman flared the red frill around his neck as he walked the slave line, clicking orders in his native tongue and emphasizing them with a small electric prod. Khoram had tested the prod’s worth enough times to know it could knock him on his ass without much effort. He looked away from the mercenary and shuffled forward with the line.

He wasn’t exactly inconspicuous. The group he was chained to consisted largely of Ohiri natives: light-skinned, five-foot average, and generally docile. They were just as likely to stay in line without the chains and prod. Khoram stood out among them: a tall, dark, massive human furious in his captivity. Khoram was highly trained and just waiting for a chance to show it. In a fair fight, the lizardmen would fold like paper and they knew it. He’d never been unchained, left alone, or handled by fewer than four, and they were always armed with their electric prods. Always on alert.

Khoram grit his teeth. From capture to sale, he hadn’t managed a single successful bid for freedom, and he’d tried more than a few times. Now he took a breath and let his patience steady his hands, let the line of slaves tug him along. If the lizardmen couldn’t be overcome, whoever purchased him could be. Khoram wasn’t entirely familiar with Dulia’s customs, but if the easily dominated Ohiri were slaves of choice, Khoram wasn’t going to fetch much interest or profit.

The slave in front of him was unleashed from the line and yanked out the bright door. A lizardman pointed at the vacated spot, and Khoram shuffled forward to occupy it. The heat pulsed through the door in bright waves, bringing scents of sand, sweat, and a light spice that was unfamiliar. He could hear voices, now: the auctioneer yelling in rapid Duliana, the crowd barking their bids in turn, the sound of rhythmic smacking, a chorus of cheers. Another winning bid.

Then Khoram’s chains were unleashed and, flanked by two lizardmen with prods, he was led through the door. Hot metal rattled under his feet, and the blinding sun limited his view of more than the circular platform onto which he was pulled. A lizardman unhooked his wrists from his ankles, instead latching the chain to something that hoisted his arms suddenly overhead. His breath whooshed out. They tightened his ankle chains to the platform, and with a metal screech, it slowly began to rotate. They were showing him off. A tingle of awareness tripped over his skin and exposed groin—the attention of a hundred eyes.

Khoram squinted. The auctioneer espoused in Duliana for several minutes, likely explaining why the hell this bear of a human was on the block instead of a lithe Ohiri, spinning his assets to garner the crowd’s favor. Khoram knew a snake-oil salesman when he saw one, even if he didn’t share their language.

The platform turned him, and he faced the crowd. More of a species mix than he expected. Lizardmen were not the primary slave-owners if this was a decent selection. Mostly tall Frea, in fact, their black scales draped in white gossamer. They were members of Dulia’s refined upper caste, and other than video, this was the first he’d seen them. They weren’t known to ever leave Dulia, though they profited from the wider galaxy’s trade gladly. Pockets of Slone-dogs made the most noise in the crowd. They barked in their hybrid dialect, likely obscene things Khoram didn’t want translated. He curled his lip at the closest pack, and they yipped at each other.

Purchase

Nine Star Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Queer romance, sci­ence fic­tion, fan­tasy, steam­punk, and YA fiction author. I’m only here until I reach escape velocity. Artist. Gardener. Gamer. Raynauds. Asexual.

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An Ali Review:They Walk Among Us by T.A. Chase

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

they-walk-among-us-by-ta-chaseZach agrees to help Raven and finds himself drawn into a world he never knew existed.

 

Zach Harleigh was a baby when the aliens arrived. He doesn’t remember much about those months, except his parents fighting and his dad leaving. His father died, destroying the aliens, and his mother died when Zach graduated from medical school. He’s alone in the world and working hard to get his career going leaves no time for any kind of relationship.

 

One night, a beautiful man is brought into the ER. Raven Sanderson has been severely beaten and seems unsocialized. Raven and Zach hit it off when Zach takes over his care. Raven can’t speak but writes notes to Zach, letting him know the man is in the city to find his sister.

 

Zach agrees to help Raven and discovers a world he never knew existed. A world full of alien creatures that read minds and heal with a simple touch. He realizes there is more to the world around him, and the aliens he thought were destroyed weren’t. Their offspring walk among us.

 

Zach has always been interested in the aliens that were around when he was a baby, but never thought he would actually see one as they were said to have all been killed.  He doesn’t hate them, far from it, he has spent a lot of time researching and trying to find the truth.  When he meets Raven he is fascinated with him and wants to do anything he can to help him.

 

Raven is intrigued by the intriguing doctor, but doesn’t want to get anyone involved in his mission, let alone he isn’t sure about trusting a human.  He quickly learns there are a lot of layers underneath the surface and nothing about the doctor is quite what it seems at the beginning.  Both of these characters have been longing for someone to love and someone they can let into their lives without reservation.

 

We see how open Zach is to Raven, even showing him things that he has never shown anyone else.  Raven is so reserved at the beginning, but eventually opens up and really begins to hope for a future with Zach and his people.  I loved seeing them fight together to overcome the things standing in their way to get Raven’s sister and then for their future.

 

The cover art by Posh Gosh is wonderful and perfect for this story.

 

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 168 pages

Publication: February 7, 2017 by Pride Publishing

ISBN: 9781786515346

Edition Language: English

A Free Dreamer Review: A Bond of Three (Sensual Bonds #1) by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5

a-bond-of-threeIn the kingdom of Teruna, the red-cloaked Seruani teach the Terunans the art of love. Taken from their homes at seventeen to be trained, they are shunned as outcasts by society and considered the lowest of the low. So when Prince Tanish falls in love with the Seruan Feyar, the man who took his virginity and the only one to share his bed, he is not about to declare that love. No one can ever know, because the consequences would be too painful to consider for both of them.

When the king of Vancor visits Teruna, he promises that his son, Prince Sorran, will marry Prince Tanish to solidify the alliance between the two kingdoms, with the proviso that the virginal Sorran is instructed in the art of pleasing his husband-to-be. When Tanish’s father chooses Feyar to be this instructor, the lovers decide Prince Sorran must be taught that this is to be a marriage in name only….

A resentful prince, unwilling to share his lover.

A resentful Seruan, unwilling to share his prince.

And the shy prince whose very nature sparks changes in the lives of all those around them.

Teruna is about to change forever.

The blurb tells you all you need to know about the plot. Still, I had expected a different kind of story. There was far more fluff and a lot less angst than I expected.

Sorran is the shy, virgin prince. He cried way too much for my liking and seemed extremely immature. It’s love at first sight for him with both Tanish and Feyar. Just like it was between Tanish and Feyar, and the two of them instantly fell for Sorran as well.

There was a bit of drama about Tanish and Feyar accepting their feelings for Sorran, but not all that much. They are destined for each other, after all. The whole issue was solved a little too easily. A lot of potential suspense and tension was lost here.

The rest of the plot is, in varying degrees, cheesy declarations of love and quite a bit of porn. Two minor bursts of conflict come up, but the solutions are once again very simple.

Sorran is an only child, as is Tanish. They’re the sole heirs to their kingdom. I never understood why they should marry. It just doesn’t make sense. Why would Sorran’s parents give away their only heir? And while it’s nice that homosexuality is perfectly acceptable in this universe, the natural lack of an heir from such a relationship should at least have been discussed.

It seemed very odd to me that Tanish, being the crown prince, wouldn’t know how the Seruani are chosen. Surely the future king has to know about such an integral part of his people’s society? Again, this would have needed more discussion.

The relationship ultimately revolved around Sorran. It was always Tanish and Feyar focusing on Sorran. That really bothered me. It just didn’t seem fair.

All in all, this was just too fluffy for me. Problems weren’t discussed properly and solutions were too easy. Just not my kind of book.

Cover: Just like the book, the cover isn’t really for me. Feyar looks more like an assassin or evil wizard than like a prostitute in that cloak.

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Book details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published January 19th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1632166836 (ISBN13: 9781632166838)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSensual Bonds #1

Victoria Sue on Writing Paranormal and ‘Five Minutes Longer’ (Dreamspinner Press Author Guest Blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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Five Minutes Longer by Victoria Sue
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Victoria Sue (Sirius Wolves series, Pure series) here today to talk about writing and her latest release, Five Minutes Longer.  Welcome, Victoria!

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“I tried to write a contemporary but it grew four legs and a tail.”

Victoria Sue.

I didn’t get the idea for Five Minutes Longer and then write the characters. I started out with Finlay Mayer and wrote him a story.

All about Finn and making him a hero or why a B-average student gets a job with the FBI.

Finlay “Finn” Mayer is 24 years old. He comes from a small town and at fourteen his dyslexia is quickly turning him off school. He’d already started missing days. Homework deadlines fell by the wayside and his excuses were a bigger work of fiction than the stories he’d been asked to write in the first place.

The senior college uptake rate at his high school is abysmal and the graduation levels weren’t all that impressive so the new principal arranges for people with “cool” jobs to come in and talk to the Freshman year. A bored – well on his way to a life of crime –14-year-old Finn walks into the school hall to listen to two FBI agents come to talk about their careers. He walks out a different person. His dream of joining the FBI starts at that moment and he starts his ten-year-long battle to make it happen.

His dad had come home from the Vietnam war in a wheelchair and battled depression every single day.

His mom was only ever concerned with appearances. Her hair. Her nails. Her committees.

His brother Deke – 37 years – lazy. Homophobic and convinced that Finn needs to forget his insane idea of going to college and come and work for him in his insurance business.

For personal reasons Dyslexia and its challenges are important to me so it was something Finn was going to have. It’s quite common for bright kids to only start struggling in middle school or above, and Finn has two huge obstacles to his dreams by this time. He knows that less than 7% of applicants actually get chosen for the FBI and a lot of forums say that number is actually much lower. He is convinced a diagnosis of dyslexia would make his tiny chance completely disappear so he keeps under the teacher’s radar. Assignments are always diligently carried out. Never a missed deadline. Never a missed class.

It’s just his test scores that are crap, and nothing he ever does will bring his averaged out grades any higher.

By fifteen he knows he is gay. He has also read that while the FBI don’t actually discriminate against it, apparently it’s something people might get blackmailed over, so Finn buries that as well. He even takes a girl to prom.

Then we have the FBI interview and selection process.

After the four-year college degree and a minimum age of twenty-three for applicants there are only five areas of experience/expertise that the FBI take from.

Language, Law, Accounting, Computer Science, or a mix of them.

Back to the undiagnosed dyslexia – computer science, Law and languages were huge obstacles. I originally had Finn’s brother a deputy sheriff and him joining him, but then I decided that was too convenient and the Finn that I now knew wouldn’t do that.

Dyslexia and being clever with numbers aren’t mutually exclusive, and are often quite common. Different sides of the brain tackle these two areas, so I make Finn clever because Dyslexia isn’t a synonym for stupid – often the reverse, and Finn becomes good at Math. His four-year degree and experience qualify him for the FBI.

So, my shy lovable geek gets his dream job in a very roundabout way – and why not?

The excerpt below is on Finn’s first day:

Gregory nodded and turned off the screen. “To summarize, you’ve all met Finn. We have four weeks to prove this can work. I expect your cooperation and your assistance, but that starts tomorrow. Finn has some short profile tests to sit this morning, and later you will all be in the gym.” Gregory smiled and walked out as a few of the others got up. One or two murmured something pleasant to Finn, but he didn’t hear a word of anything after the word “test.”

His heart pounded, and his earlier breakfast suddenly threatened to make an appearance. Fuck. What if he messed up? How important was this test? Was it written, or maybe physical? He swallowed.

“S’up, kid?” Talon stood, frowning at him.

Finn licked his lips. “What, umm, sort of test is it?”

Talon shrugged. “Basic behavioral insight, so they can see what you might spot automatically. Or more importantly what assumptions you have that you have to unlearn fast.” He looked assessingly at Finn. “It’s no big deal. I think you just read the questions and pick an answer. It’s timed, but it’s not like you get graded or anything.”

Finn felt sick. It was timed. He’d expected there to be tests at Quantico, but not on his first day, and not when every single person on his team wanted him to fail.

“You okay, kid?”

Finn looked up at Talon, who was looking puzzled, and gulped. He needed to calm down. “Yeah.”

“Good. Come on. Let’s get this over with, then.” Talon led him into yet another room and gestured to a chair next to a desk.

Finn could already feel his palms sweating and his heart pounding, and he tried to breathe slowly. He’d done all sorts of breathing exercises to prepare for his SATs and at one of his interviews. He knew to start with the questions that had the most marks attached. When he was younger, he made the mistake of always starting at the beginning, and because it took him longer to read the questions, he always ran out of time. It just seemed harder now that he knew the stakes and knew everyone wanted him to fail.

Talon didn’t seem to notice his anxiety, however, and picked up a folder from the table and dropped it on the desk. “There’s actually no right or wrong answers. We just need to get a feel for your thought process. So we know your starting point. Don’t forget we’re condensing eight hundred hours of training into four weeks.” Talon shrugged. “Some of the things I may ask you to do will seem difficult to understand.”

Finn looked blankly at the folder. Of course there were right and wrong answers. Even he wasn’t stupid enough to believe this wasn’t something else he could fail at.

Talon sat back down and rubbed his face, trying not to hiss when he caught his lip. He didn’t know how he felt, and it was confusing the hell out of him. He was always convinced having enhanced and regular humans working together wasn’t a good idea. The basic tenet of his team was trust. Knowing each of his guys had his back and wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger to save his life. His first trainee didn’t even make it through the test Finn was currently looking at. Fifteen questions, all designed to see if the trainee would fail to respond as quickly if the victim was regular or enhanced, and not just that straightforward. Sometimes candidates would try to go the other way, be too preferential for enhanced to try to win favors.

That scenario didn’t cut it with any of his team either. None of the questions used the words “regular” or “enhanced.” The clues were more subtle, and someone a lot cleverer than Talon had put the questions together. He glanced at the clock. Twenty minutes for the first round of ten questions. Five pretty simple ones, and five that required a little more thought. Then there were some basic math problems as well.

He stood and wandered over to where Finn was sitting, then stopped in surprise. Finn was looking at the last page. Had he finished it already? Talon narrowed his eyes as he looked at Finn. His hand shook as he turned a page, and Finn hadn’t so much as picked up his pen. What was it? Nerves? Was that the reason Finn hadn’t done so well on his exams in college?

Talon absently filed the thought away. It wasn’t his business, and he wasn’t here to babysit someone he wanted out anyway. Served him right if he did fail the test. Talon leaned back against the wall and stared at the ceiling. He smiled a little as he remembered the vid with Finn’s voice declaring he was a federal agent. Even if he wanted him gone, he was happy to grudgingly admit the kid had balls.

Talon glanced over at Finn again and was suddenly struck by the mask of desperation on his face. What the fuck was wrong with him? He knew he could read. There was no way he would have gotten through high school without that, and Finn had a fucking degree. Talon blinked. He’d read the glowing reports from his tutors. Finn’s dedication. His single-mindedness, almost. What he told him in the café. Why would someone put himself through all that and not study his ass off 24-7 to make sure his grades were good?

Unless there was another reason.

Talon stood. “How are you getting on? Halfway through,” he added in case Finn just needed a kick up the ass to get started. He’d also seen some trainees overthink things to the point that it nearly paralyzed them. No decision because they were frightened of not making the right one. That was sometimes even worse. Being an agent meant split-second choices. Talon looked at the clock. Eight minutes left. Eight minutes and Finn would be gone, and they wouldn’t even need all the scenarios the team would put on for him this afternoon. Eight minutes and the brass might concede to what he’d been telling them for months—that the unit should be enhanced only.

He glanced over to see what Finn was writing and frowned. Absolutely nothing. Talon took a step and fisted his hands. Don’t fucking ask, Talon, he told himself sternly. Then the defiant voice of Finn challenging the bastards who attacked him yesterday came into his head, and he sighed. What the hell? He could ask, right?

Talon sat on the desk and picked up the paper. “Your pen not working, kid?”

Finn pushed himself upright. “I’ll go.” He lowered his eyes, but not before Talon saw the frustration and disgust darkening them. He looked at the question that had gotten Finn so worked up. It was a scenario that subtly lead the trainee to favor the enhanced over the human. Not because it was the right thing to do for the situation, but to weed out reverse favoritism.

Talon read the question out loud and lowered the paper. “Why are you having problems with that?”

Finn jutted his chin out. “I’m not,” he said, and he reeled off the best answer.

Talon narrowed his eyes. “Then why didn’t you put that down?”

Finn shrugged.

Talon took a breath as a thought filtered into his mind. “What about this one?” He read off the next question, and Finn answered it promptly and correctly. Talon nodded to the typed instruction fixed to the bottom of the portable scanner cart. “What does that say?”

Finn looked over, and a dull flush crept over his cheeks. “I can read,” he ground out.

“What does it say?” Talon repeated. “Count to ten in your head and then tell me.”

Finn blinked at him, puzzled.

“Take three deep breaths first,” Talon instructed.

Finn did as he was asked and then calmly read, “Please put the power cable away after use.”

Talon scowled. “Why the fuck did you not tell any of us you are dyslexic?”

Finn scowled. “I’m not.” He turned to the door.

Talon nodded. “Let me guess. You anticipate. You find some fonts much easier to read. That’s why your course work was so much better than your written tests.”

Finn stood still, feet planted, hands shoved in his pants pockets. He didn’t turn around.

“Text to speech? It’s an allowed resource,” Talon continued.

Finn turned slowly. “How—how do you know all that?”

Talon debated for about ten seconds. He didn’t share, ever. “Because my little brother’s dyslexic. And when I say little, I mean by one year. He’s currently a prosecutor in the Washington DA’s office. A successful prosecutor,” he added.

Talon picked up the test and started reading the questions. Finn rattled off most of the answers, and by the time they were halfway through the last section, he was writing his own.

“You’re actually better than Sam,” Talon said. “He wouldn’t be able to work out the last question even with his breathing techniques.”

Finn looked up, and Talon’s belly squeezed a little at his eagerness. “It only bothers me when I’m timed or under pressure most of the time now. Even then I can anticipate the simple stuff. We had an old computer in the library at college that had a darker screen than the rest. Everyone hated it, but it was the easiest one for me.”

Talon nodded. “It helped Sam if we overlaid the screen with a blue tint.” He sighed. “I don’t get how I missed your diagnosis, though. I read your file and….” Understanding slammed into Talon. “You’ve never been diagnosed, have you?” He shook his head. Of all the stupid, irresponsible….

Finn’s smile faded.

“You could easily have put your teammates’ lives at risk by not declaring this,” Talon ground out. It was incredibly selfish, and as far as Talon was concerned, the last nail in the coffin.

“I thought once I got into Quantico, I could find someone to talk to about it,” Finn mumbled, and Talon opened his mouth to rain down a world of hurt on Finn.

Then he stopped. Because the fact that Finn wasn’t at Quantico wasn’t his fault. He would have had twenty weeks to sort it out. It wasn’t Finn’s fault they only had four.

Fuck.

This was his excuse. This was exactly what he had wanted. The perfect reason to get rid of the regular human and push for a solo team of enhanced. Finn was handing him the reason on a plate.

Sam’s face swam into his head. How Talon found him in their tree house, crying his eyes out because some dick of a kid called him a retard because he couldn’t read when it was his turn at school. But Sam had their family behind him. He had a huge support network, and what did Finn have? His brother sounded like a complete lazy asshole. His mom, on the surface, not too bad, but at the same time, if she’d let Finn go through school without getting any help….

And his dad. His dad who came home from Vietnam in a wheelchair and finally blew his brains out. And Finn found him.

Talon grimaced. He’d give him a week.

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Blurb – Five Minutes Longer

Talon Valdez knew that when he transformed into an enhanced human, his life and his dreams were finished. Reviled, mistrusted, and often locked away, the enhanced are viewed as monsters, despised by the public, and never trusted to serve in the military or any law enforcement agency.

Years later he gets a chance to set up a task force of enhanced to serve in the FBI, but with one proviso: each enhanced must partner with a regular human.

Finn Mayer dreamed of joining the FBI since he was fourteen and made every possible sacrifice to make it happen, including living with his selfish mother and bullying homophobic brother and never having a boyfriend. But his undiagnosed dyslexia stopped his aspirations dead in their tracks. His last chance is to partner with Talon, an enhanced with fatal abilities who doesn’t trust regular humans with their secrets and wants Finn to fail.

Four weeks to prove himself to the team. Four weeks for the team to prove itself to the public. And when another group threatens their success—and their lives are at stake—four weeks for them to survive.

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About the Author

Victoria Sue

Wrote her first book on a dare from her hubby two years ago and he says he has regretted it every day since. Loves writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best, and especially with either a paranormal or a historical twist. Had a try at writing contemporary but failed spectacularly when it grew four legs and a tail. Loves her wolves!

Is an English northern lass but is currently serving twenty to life in Florida – unfortunately, she spends more time chained at her computer than on a beach.

Loves to hear from her readers and can be found most days lurking on facebook.

www.victoriasue.com

@vickysuewrites

https://www.facebook.com/victoriasueauthor/– sign up for my newsletter and download a free story The Wrong Alpha

Giveaway

Victoria Sue is giving away one ebook from her backlist to one lucky reader.  Please leave a comment below along with your email address where you can be contacted if you are chosen by Victoria.  Giveaway ends at midnight, November 30th.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

An Alisa Release Day Review: Five Minutes Longer by Victoria Sue

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

fiveminuteslonger_v2Talon Valdez knew when he transformed into an enhanced human, his life and his dreams were finished. Reviled, mistrusted, and often locked away, the enhanced were viewed as monsters, despised by the public, and never trusted to serve in the military or any law enforcement agency.

 

Years later he gets a chance to set up a task force of enhanced to serve in the FBI, but with one proviso: each enhanced must partner with a regular human.

 

Finn Mayer dreamed of joining the FBI from the time he was fourteen and made every possible sacrifice to make it happen, including living with his selfish mother and bullying, homophobic brother and never having a boyfriend. But his undiagnosed dyslexia stopped his aspirations dead in their tracks. His last chance is to partner with Talon, an enhanced with deadly abilities who doesn’t trust regular humans with their secrets and wants Finn to fail.

 

Four weeks to prove himself to the team. Four weeks for the team to prove itself to the public. And when another group threatens their success—and their lives—four weeks for them to survive.

 

This was a wonderful story.  The world that includes the enhanced humans was well thought out and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything when it came to the background of the story.  Talon and his team have continued to stand by the fact that they don’t want regular humans on their team.  And in walks Finn, he breaks down all the walls that Talon has put up without really pushing to which is the most scary thing for Talon.

 

Finn isn’t quite what Talon expects from reading his file and can’t help but be intrigued by the different depths he has.  Finn knows that being on this task force is his last chance to make his dreams come true, but his family, past and Talon’s issues may make it impossible for it to happen.  Both have made some mistakes and make new assumptions that may tear them apart.

 

In this story I can feel how desperate Finn is to make this opportunity work and then his defeat when he knows that it’s never going to happen.  Every time they get close Talon feels he has to push Finn away and keeps playing push and pull with his feelings.  Once Talon gets some sense knocked into him he fully realizes the mistakes he has made and will do anything to get Finn back on the team and in his life.  This is a wonderful beginning to what I hope is a new series and I hope to read more about these two and the other members of the team.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is great and sets the tone for the story well.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages

Published: December 1, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 9781634779166

Edition Language: English