Blog Tour for Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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When a SEAL medic inherits three young children, he must battle to keep the family together and keep his long-held feelings for the man challenging him for custody at bay.

Squared Away

Series: Out of Uniform #5

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): April 16. Print, ebook, and audio all available.

Length (Print & Ebook): 80,000 words

Subgenre: m/m military romance

Includes: military romance, insta-family, hurt/comfort, angst, interracial, heroes-with-kids, gay romance, demisexual/gray ace hero, first time, loss, reunion, forced proximity

Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ptQhFH

Paperback: http://amzn.to/2ptc00A

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Squared-Away-Audiobook/B07BGJ3FRF

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/squared-away/id1326105516?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/squared-away-1

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/squared-away-annabeth-albert/1127659238?ean=9781335980809

Carina Press: https://www.carinapress.com/shop/books/9781335980809_squared-away.html

Synopsis:

In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

What Annabeth Albert has to say about this book in her Out of Uniform series:

“I wanted to write a book about the nature of family and how loss and tragedy can shape family, mold it into something stronger, force growth and change. I’m enormously proud of SQUARED AWAY as a result because how I fell in love with this little family.”

“When Wizard first appeared in ON POINT as a secondary character, I was intrigued by him, but it wasn’t until I let myself get into his head that I really saw how complicated he was. I feel honored and privileged to have been able to tell his story.”

“No book gets written in a vacuum and this one is no different. I owe a huge debt on this book to my sensitivity readers who really encouraged me to dig deep.”

Praise for the series:

“Albert delivers a solid hurt/comfort story…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY

“Mark and Isaiah’s budding relationship happens with sensitivity and steamy moments…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY

“Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series is a unique look at SEALs’ lives, showing us the insides of their hearts and homes and the love that drives them.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.  

“Sexy, sweet and heartfelt, Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series is a fresh take on Navy SEALs that will delight and entertain romance readers.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.  

 Excerpts:

“I take it that’s a yes?”

“It’s always going to be a yes for more kissing.” Isaiah scooted closer. They’d done the massage and goodnight kiss routine a few more times, but he was careful to not press for it, to let it be Mark’s idea.

Mark gave him a fast but still electric kiss. “I was thinking about this when I was helping you outside earlier. It’s crazy how much I like touching and kissing you.”

“I love touching you too.” Isaiah trailed his fingers down Mark’s cheek. “You haven’t had that before?”

“Not really. I’ve had a lot of kisses that felt like getting my earlobe chewed by a cat or trying to kiss a salmon. Not awful but not ‘can’t wait to do it again’ either. Had some kisses I liked, but right as I was getting comfortable, the other person would try to take it to the next level. And that was always a disaster.”

“Even with your friend? The other medic?”

Mark shrugged and looked away. “He got huffy when I didn’t want to get naked after a few kisses. Called me a closet case.”

“I’m sorry.” Isaiah patted his leg, not sure what else to say. “You’re a great guy. You deserve all the good kisses—no fish or earlobe chewing allowed. And you deserve to go at your own pace. Always.”

“I feel guilty. Like I should be doing something more for you…”

“Hey now. I’m getting amazing kisses from a hot-as-fuck guy who also likes to massage me until I’m a pile of limp lettuce. Trust me. I’m not getting a shabby deal here. At all.” If anything, Isaiah felt guilty for how very much he was enjoying all this. “And add in yard work help and cleaning? Man, you’d be a lot of people’s idea of a dream date.”

“Good.” Mark leaned in for another, softer kiss. “Because I really like doing this.”

“Me too.” Isaiah tried to calm the thumping of his heart. Careful, he warned himself even as his long-comatose hope monster hefted itself up and did a dance. He couldn’t afford to go falling for Mark again, yet with each kiss, each tentative touch, he could feel his grip on his resolve weakening.

About Annabeth Albert:

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.  The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ  romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

Connect with Annabeth:

Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

Giveaway: win 1 of 2 ecopies of any back catalog book by Annabeth Albert:

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Direct Giveaway Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/88d45f0353/

Loss, Distinctive Voices and Characters. This Week At Scattered Thoughts And Rogue Words

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Loss, Distinctive Voices and Characters

This past week saw the passing of two wonderful men who left deep emotional impact on those who heard their music or watched their films, (although arguably not to the same extent) to also to those in their professions, musician/actor  David Bowie and actor Alan Rickman.  For over forty years, David Bowie, singer, songwriter,  musician, record producer, painter and actor, continued to press the boundaries of what he thought he could and  music could be.  But always it was his unique voice and passion behind the lyrics and music that helped make his songs the playlist for our lives,  generations past, present, and future, whether it was as Major Tom, the Thin White Duke or Ziggy Stardust or  something reimagined one more..  Only a few notes and we knew who was singing.

Alan Rickman’s voice was just as unigue.  Oh, that voice.  And that glare.  I loved him as Professor Snape, but that wasn’t the first time I saw him or fell in love.  It could have been Alan Rickman as Galaxy Quest’s Sir Alexander Dane ” By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged.” Sniff.  Or as the wonderful villain, Hans Gruber, in the original Die Hard with Bruce Willis, Jamie the ghost in Truly, Madly Deeply …yes, that’s probably the start.  But it continued with Steve Spurrier in Bottle Shock, Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and so many more.  His last project?  A student’s voiceover for a Save the Children and Refugee Council joint charity appeal in what is thought to be one of his last ever pieces of work.

Why bring these men up on a book blog?  A couple of reasons. One, David Bowie and his music has been a constant thread in my life and I couldn’t let his death go without comment.  Although Alan Rickman doesn’t hold the same iconic place in my life as David Bowie does, I hold in him huge esteem.

When I read books, the conversations and the dialogs, I hear the voices in my head so clearly.  Writers like B.A. Tortuga and Neil S. Plakcy especially have the ability to make those wonderful local confabulations sing with the rhythm and flavor of the cultures of the people the words are flowing from.   Now with  audiobooks, I have to make the transition from the voices in my head (no wisecracks) to the voices the narrators are putting forth, often beautifully.  Do they replace a  unique voice?  No, but offer another interpretation in their place.

Both men were wonderful at interpreting and creating, whether it was classical music or literature or something modern or wildly new and different.  Ever listen to David Bowie and Bing Crosby?  He was equally relaxed singing with him or with Freddie Mercury or on stage in New York City.  Alan Rickman has credits as a director, writer, and producer as well as actor. But both men, its that voice, and the grace with which they moved through life will pull at my memory.   For Alan Rickman, sometimes I would read a book, and his voice would sneak into a character…with a shiver or two as a result.  I would be reading and snippets of David Bowie’s Cat People (Putting Out the Fire) or some other refrain would  run through my mind -yes shifters).  Music, voices and books are forever intertwined for me.

David Bowie and Alan Rickman are gone. How grateful I am that their voices will live on in music, and in film.  Do you have a favorite David Bowie song or album?  How about Alan Rickman?  By Grabthar’s hammer!  Let us know!

 

 

This Tortoise Could Save a Life – Ft. Alan Rickman

 

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This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

Sunday, January 17:

  • Loss, Distinctive Voices and Characters. This Week At Scattered Thoughts And Rogue Words

Monday, January 18:

  • Covenant by M. Leanne Phoenix tour and contest
  • In our Science Fiction Spotlight: Shannon West ‘Mate of the Tyger Prince (excerpt and giveaway)
  • A MelanieM Review:  Mate of the Tyger Prince by Shannon West
  • A Stella Review:Of Gods and Monsters: Menoetius (Of Gods and Monsters #1) by Wulf Francu Godgluck
  • A BJ Review: Just a Bit Confused by Alessandra Hazard

Tuesday, January 19:

  • Jude Sierra ‘What It Takes’ virtual tour and contest
  • Coffee Sip and Book Break with Morticia Knight ‘Searching For Shelter (excerpt and contest)
  • Can A Ghost Find Love? Check out Rock N Soul by Lauren Sattersby (giveaway)
  • An Ali Review: Happy Birthday by B.D. Roca‏
  • A PaulB review: Setting His Owl A-Twitter by Charlie Richards

Wednesday, January 20:

  • Cover reveal for Dev Bentham’s ‘Whistle Blower’‏ (excerpt and giveaway)
  • A MelanieM Review: End Street Detectives Vol ! by Amber Kell and RJ Scott
  • A Stella Review: THE UGLIEST SWEATER by Gillian St. Kevern
  • An Ali Review: Double Indemnity (The Stonebridge Mysteries, #1) by Maggie Kavanagh
  • A Paul B review: Crash by April Kelley

Thursday, January 21:

  • A Paul B Review: Passion’s Storm by AJ Marcus
  • A BJ Audio Review: Long Time Gone by S.E. Jakes
  • A F.D. Review: Coyote’s Creed by Vaughn R. Demont
  • A Ali Review: Inner Sanctum (The Stonebridge Mysteries, #2) by Maggie Kavanagh
  • A Stella Review: Of Gods and Monsters: Hades (Of Gods and Monsters #2)by Wulf Francu Godgluck

Friday, January 22:

  • Christopher Stone ‘Going and Coming: The Minnow St. James Metaphysical Adventures’ Keep Me In Mind Tour and contest
  • Of Gods And Monsters: Hades book blast by Wulf Francu Godgluck (giveaway)
  • Rory Ni Coileain ‘Mantled In Mist’ book blast and contest
  • An Ali Review: Blind Spot (The Stonebridge Mysteries #3) by Maggie Kavanagh
  • A MelanieM Review: Lovers Leap by J.L. Merrow

Saturday, January 23:

  • All That Is Solid Melts Into Air by Christopher Koehler (excerpt and giveaway)
  • A Mika Review: Thorns and Fangs (Thorns and Fangs #1) by Gillian St. Kevern

 

Review: Encore (Blue Notes #5) by Shira Anthony

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Encore-BuildWhen teenagers Roger Nelson and John Fuchs  meet in the band room of Maryville’s Senior High School in 1971, they discovered they shared the same passion for music.  Roger Nelson with his violin and John Fuchs with his dream of conducting.  Each teenager came from different backgrounds and moved in different circles in high school, Roger Nelson, the “cool kid” popular with all crowds and John Fuchs, the stuttering, shy transfer from St. Barnaby’s, an expensive private school.  Brought together by music, they soon developed a deep friendship that made them inseparable.  Then it turned into something more.

John had always known he was gay so his love for Roger seemed natural and right. However, Roger’s attraction and love for John confused him, making him feel unsettled and insecure especially in the 70’s where homosexuality was still looked at with disgust and ignorance.  Together through college and graduation, John and Roger continue their secret romance despite growing opposition from Roger’s parents. Then two tragedies occur that immediately impact Roger and his family.  The ripples from those events serve to separate Roger and John, shattering their romance but not their love for each other.

For the next several decades, the men’s lives intersect only to  be pulled apart time and again.  When one more event brings them back together, will this be the encore they have been waiting for or will their last chance at love slip away forever?

Encore is Shira Anthony’s most ambitious and deeply layered Blue Notes story to date.  Over the course of the Blue Notes series, Anthony has been building a symphony of characters deeply involved in the world of music and their relationships.  Whether it was a pianist or conductor, violinist or opera singer, cellist or lawyer in the musical entertainment industry, Shira Anthony has introduced us to the men whose passions for music has driven their lives, loves, and careers. But those previous stories, for the most part,  have had a specific  short time span for the men and their love affairs.  Now in Encore, Anthony goes for the larger picture, not just a movement but the whole composition.  Here she strives for a symphony and achieves it.

Encore is a musical term derived from the French word “again”.  It is a repeat performance or an additional musical piece that occurs after the main piece or event concludes and it is the perfect term to apply to the on and off again relationship of Roger Nelson and John Fuchs, two characters introduced as a couple in previous novels.  Starting in 1971 and ending in 2006, Anthony creates a romance that encompasses a 35-year time frame.  It will see the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic, the fight for gays rights, and finally the beginnings of social acceptance of homosexuality.  Against such a historic and dramatic background, the author has created her most textured and multidimensional romance in this or any other series.

Even at the beginning of John and Roger’s relationship, each young man has their personalities already firmly in place.  John is already comfortable being gay, even in 1971.  The kids have already taken note of his “difference”, an aspect of his personality that will only deepen as John ages and finds his own style, totally comfortable in his skin and element.   And while John may stutter in emotional situations, his belief in himself and his music is unwavering.  I loved John.  I understood his behavior and his emotional outlook on life and his music because Anthony has made him so transparent and accessible even with all his layers.

Then there is Roger.  The wonderful, exasperating, heartbreaking Roger.

Roger Nelson inside is the antithesis of his outward appearance and behavior.  On the surface, Roger is all “coolness” and popularity, his easy nature and charm crossing high school and then college social circles.  But inside, he is a tumultuous mess.  Pressures from his parents, society, and their expectations for Roger’s future collide with his own dreams for himself and the resulting avalanche will derail everything Roger and John had planned for their lives together.  While all Roger’s friends and family is aware he loves music, none but John understand how crucial it is to Roger, that music and the violin are fundamental parts of Roger, as necessary to him as food and air. It’s that essential part of Roger that is lost or an aspect of it is lost.  And for the reader, it is important that we are able to connect with that feeling in order for us to really understand  Roger and his actions.  For Roger, the loss of music and his ability to play the violin is nothing less than the deepest wound to his soul, like losing an appendage.  The hole it leaves behind can never be forgotten or overlooked.  Roger too feels so real, a living, breathing walking gash of a man.  And, due to the author’s deep connection with her character and her ability to bring this man to life, Roger is also the character that will engender a wide spectrum of feelings from the readers.

Roger has the ability to become such a misunderstood character in this story if the reader doesn’t take the time to put him into perspective, both historically and emotionally.  John never had the pressures put on his that Roger has had throughout his life.  Nor has John had to deal with the worst thing that could possibly happen to himself and Roger.  That is the loss of their music, the destruction of all their hopes and dreams and that is exactly what happens to Roger early on in their story.  This loss guts Roger.  It takes his heart and shatters it, leaving Roger incapable of going forward with his life as a whole person.

I think that Shira Anthony captures that feeling, that crushing loss, and it’s resulting reverberations on someone’s emotions and behavior realistically and with great pain and insight.  The author has stated that in many respects “Roger” is her.  Roger, his  character, is her outlet to express the emotions and heartbreak she felt upon leaving her career as an opera singer behind.  And it shows in the realness, the pain, the constant turmoil and upheavals in his life that Roger finds himself going through.  She made me believe in Roger totally.

At times the reader will be frustrated with Roger’s  actions.  Trust me, I was.  But again, you need to keep in mind that the man going through the various stages in his life is a man bereft of his center, his heart.  Then Roger becomes someone who needs our compassion and empathy as well as our understanding.  I think so many of us can point to moments in our life when things went awry.  Maybe it was a slight altering of goals or a detour taken that we notice only in hindsight.  But for Roger and so many others, there are life shattering events and decisions that send them off on a journey they never expected or wanted.    Accident or warfare, a missed step or terrorism.  The why is sometimes less important  than what happens after.  And here, in Encore, Shira Anthony lays it all out for us as it takes Roger 35 years to come to grip with his eviscerating loss and his love for John.

As we watch Roger and John come together only to separate once again, I am reminded of the various acts in an opera.  Just as an opera has various acts, stages it must go through,  so is this book divided into different periods.  Each division moves the story forward, sometimes just a couple of years or so, sometimes a decade until we arrive at the last act and the highly satisfying encore.  This is an emotional journey, full of the cracks and crevasses that come over time and with two such diverse men at the center.  Have the tissues handy, you will need them. as this story has the ability to make you weep as well as smile.

I can’t say it enough, Encore is such a remarkable story.  It is definitely one of the best of 2013.  It is a symphony of emotions, its instruments the men Shira Anthony has created along with their deep love for music and each other.  Encore will have you calling for a repeat performance from this incredible author.  Brava, brava!

As with all her stories, here is the link to the playlist for Encore. http://www.shiraanthony.com/books/encore/#extras 

Cover art by Catt Ford.  This cover is perfection in every way, from the picture of the two men as boys to the branding that keeps it similar in look to the other Blue Notes covers.

Listed below are all the stories in the Blue Notes series.  The author has noted that she considers it a series of interrelated, classical music themed standalone novels that can be read in any order.

Knowing (Blue Notes, #0.5) a free read at Goodreads
Blue Notes (Blue Notes, #1)
The Melody Thief (Blue Notes, #2)
Aria (Blue Notes, #3)
Prelude (Blue Notes, #4) by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes
Encore (Blue Notes, #5)
Symphony in Blue (Blue Notes, #4.5) Expected publication: December 25th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press

Book Details: