Standalone or Part of a Series? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Standalone or Part of a Series?

Ok, all of you know, it’s usually something I’m reading or just read that sets off a topic for my Sunday blog, and that’s the case again today.  Actually I’m surprised this hasn’t come up before now because I feel pretty strongly about it.  And that’s whether a book is labeled a standalone story or is part of a series.  And should a reader know that in advance of picking up a book to read.

My answer is yes, let the reader know.

Give your reader as much information about your story to make an informed guess as to whether to go and read the previous stories or to jump into the middle or, as I just did without any inkling, end up at the end of a trilogy that killed off a main character.  Was I happy?  Uh no.  This while giving happy endings to characters I had no idea who they were but apparently had stories that preceded this one.

How did I find that out?  Because while the title and blurb gave no indication that this novel was part of a series and the finale, when I went looking for  (hopefully) stories or notes that would indicate that the author would have new books coming to resolve this ending (there were ways given the nature of this book), instead I found reviews for the others in the series.  I was flummoxed.  Looking over each title, none indicated it was a part of a series/trilogy.  Yet the two characters in books one and two only get their resolution in the third novel.  One actually dies in his story. So uh, without reading them, what is their ending like? Got to be cliffhangers.

How do you feel about picking up stories you think are standalone only to find  that they are part of a series?

Sometimes it hasn’t mattered.  I have come in many times in the middle of contemporary series that feature multiple couples throughout the stories and pictured up the other books with no problem.  It depends I think on the narrative and overall arc.  I’m trying to think if I have done the same with a fantasy or paranormal series, and the answer is probably given the sheer amount of books I’ve read.  But again, I’ve already noted in my review that said novel or story, unlike whatever the blurb has said, isn’t a standalone, that its a part of a group of tales to be read in the order they were written.

I just did that with a Josh Lanyon book (The Art of Murders series) and a Ana Newfolk book from her Made In series.  The foundation and universe is the series each author has painstakingly created for their stories. Especially in Josh Lanyon’s case where The Art of Murders is a brilliant labyrinth of twisted psychology, deep emotions, and murder mysteries. Separating one out of the mix?  Can’t and shouldn’t be done.  In fact, the number of series where you shouldn’t come into the middle far out number the ones where it probably wouldn’t matter so much.  That’s like falling into the middle of Abigail Roux’s fabulous Cut & Run series with Ty Grady  and Zane Garrett.  You could do it but why would you? Or Amy Lane’s Fish Out of Water Series or or or…

So why do it at all?  Why say standalone if they really aren’t?

Hmmmm. Well, probably to sell stories for one.

People are less likely to commit to a series than they are to one story.  Well not me.  I love series.  But others, probably. Ok poll time let’s find out.

 

I can’t wait to see how this turns out.  How do people really feel about reading one book. One or  three or more?  For me it’s the more the merrier honestly.

Unless I come in on the end and they have killed off a major character with no hope of revival.  Sigh.

But I can see publishers or authors wanting to put their stories out there and making them as accessible to readers as possible, even if (in my opinion)that’s labeling them as a standalone when they aren’t (again my opinion) or lumping them under a bazillion of genre tags.  Ok, how many times lately have you seen a story labeled as a sci fy fantasy paranormal supernatural romance?  It’s a cat and bunny romance, you are already there.

Head desk!

Well that’s a topic for another Sunday.

Anyhoo, back to my topic.  How do you feel about standalones and series?  Write in and let me know.  There’s a $10 Amazon gift card waiting for a lucky reader chosen among the replies. And please take our poll, I’m dying to see our answers!

Oh and as to the book that set this all off?  I’m reviewing it later this month.  See if you all can guess which one it is. lol

Note:

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is looking for Reviewers!  We are looking for reviewers for our blog.  If you love to read or listen to LGBT stories and share your thoughts about them with others, consider reviewing with Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Please send all inquiries to scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.  We are very flexible about how many reviews each reviewer takes on.   That’s entirely up to each reviewer’s own schedule.

And now onto our week ahead.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, July 14:

  • Standalone or Part of a Series? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • SALE BLITZ – RYKER – RJ SCOTT & V.L. LOCEY

Monday, July 15:

  • REVIEW TOUR Chef On Top (Sizzling In The Kitchen #3) – MJ O’Shea
  • SERIES REVIEW TOUR – The Series of Fates by C.C. Dado
  • Release Blitz – Alison Temple – Cold Pressed
  • An Alisa Review :Denying Fate (A Series of Fates #1) by C.C. Dado
  • A Lucy Review: Invisible by Iyana Jenna
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Chef On Top (Sizzling In The Kitchen #3)  by MJ O’Shea

Tuesday, July 16:

  • Review Tour Request – C.F. White – Love & Tea Bags
  • Tour for “Serpent’s Teardrop” by Mary Rundle
  • Blog Post – Victoria Milne – Purple Method
  • Book Blitz  – WS Long – Revving It Up Box Set
  • A Stella Review: Love & Tea Bags (Pink Rock Series #1) by C.F. White
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Warm Heart (Search and Rescue #1) by Amy Lane

Wednesday, July 17:

  • Cover Reveal, – Joanna Chambers – Gentleman Wolf
  • AUDIOBOOK REVIEW TOUR – Lucky Town by Morgan Brice
  • PROMO M.D. Grimm
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: Lucky Town (Badlands #1.5) by Morgan Brice and Kale Williams (narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Terms of Service (The Heretic Doms Club #2) by Marie Sexton and John Solo (Narrator)

Thursday, July 18:

  • R GREY PROMO ON Oasis
  • Release Blitz Signal – Sam Burns & W.M Fawkes – Patron Of Mercy
  • Release blitz Beautiful Trauma by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • BLOG TOUR Treasure Trail by Morgan Brice
  • An Alisa Review: Treasure Trail by Morgan Brice
  • A Caryn Review: Dancing with the Lion: Becoming (Dancing with the Lion #1) by Jeanne Reames

Friday, July 19:

  • Release Blitz  – What Lies Beneath – RJ Scott
  • Release Blitz – Hanna Dare – Black Sky Morning
  • Release Blitz – Eli Easton – How To Run With The Wolves
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Kneading You by CS Poe
  • A MelanieM Review: Séance on a Summer’s Night by Josh Lanyon

Saturday, July 20:

  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Craving’s Creek by Mel Bossa
  • A Lucy Review: 9 Willow Street by Nell Iris

NHL and Hockey is for Everyone. More of Pride Month. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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More of Pride Month

Everywhere I look Pride Month is being celebrated.  It’s in ads on the tv, parades in towns and cities across the world,  and even more incredibly the NHL and  every team, yep all 31 teams are celebrating Pride month.  It’s all a part of“Hockey Is For Everyone”  Pride Month for the NHL and every team is participating in a huge amount of Pride events of their own at games and events everywhere.  I’m thrilled and rainbow astonished!

As someone who both loves hockey (go Caps) and M/M hockey romance fiction, I’m just over the rainbow and heart warmed that this has happened.  Overdue?  Perhaps.  But so amazing and happy to see it occuring now.  because quite frankly the NHL is standing alone in this.  And they shouldn’t be.  Where is the NFL or AFL:? The National League for Baseball?  Nope, it’s the NHL that has stepped forward! And we ought to give them our support for this. The NHL launched a Pride website with videos in an effort to “build and support a community that welcomes and celebrates authenticity and the love of hockey.  Please check out the links.

“NHL alumni and current players will participate in pride parades across North America including 2019 WorldPride in New York City,” said a league spokesperson in a statement.  NHL players can opt to use Pride tape to wrap their sticks and other equipment this month, something normally banned by the NHL (outside team colors), and furthermore are joining forces with the You Can Play Project, expanding its “Hockey For Everyone” campaign so that it will be all inclusive.  Go NHL!

Want to know more about NHL and Hockey is for Everyone?  Check out the links below!

News – NHL and NHLPA to Celebrate Pride … – NHL.com Media Site

NHL, NHLPA to celebrate Pride Month – National Hockey League News

And fyi, the Stanley Cups are in full swing…go watch whether you are rooting for the Boston Bruins or St. Louis Blues!

And for those in need of M/M hockey romance fiction?  Check out the series, in no particular order, I have listed with their Goodreads links below:

Stick Side (2 books) by Amy Aislin

The Harrisburg Railers Series by RJ Scott and VL Locey

Owatonna U Hockey Series by RJ Scott and VL Locey (3 books)

Cayuga Cougars series by VL Locey

Point Shot (3 books) by V.L. Locey

Colors of Love (3 books) by V.L. Locey

Game Changers (2 books) by Rachel Reid

*A shout out to Alexandra Petrokova of the M/M Hockey Romance FB Group for the additions to the recommendations! I’m adding on as I get them!  Three more  series added courtesy of the M/M Hockey Romance Group! Thank you all!
Did I miss out on a favorite of yours?  These are definitely some of mine.  Let me know what I missed and send them in so I can add them in.  Meanwhile, here is our week ahead.  Happy Pride!

 Our Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, June 9:

  • More of Pride Month. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • NHL and Hockey is for Everyone. Hockey Romance Recs
  • Release Blitz Breaking Ground by Megan Lowe
  • BLOG TOUR Puzzle Pieces by JP Sayle

Monday, June 10:

  • Review Tour – MJ O’Shea – Chef vs. Chef 
  • OWL Tour Tales From Ardulum by JS Fields
  • OWI TOUR Malachite Michele Notaro & Sammi Cee
  • An Alisa Review: Azaran (Brotherhood of Ormarr #1) by Jacki James
  • A MelanieM Review:Strike a Chord (Replay #4) by K.M. Neuhold
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: By Way of Pain by JM Dabney
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Chef vs Chef (Sizzling in the Kitchen #2) by M.J. O’Shea

Tuesday, June 11:

  • Release Blitz – Treacherous Seas by L.M. Brown
  • PROMO BA Tortuga
  • Release Blitz – Come Play: An MM Erotica Charity Anthology
  • A Melanie Review: Seeing Red (Trowchester Series#4) by Alex Beecroft
  • An Alisa Review :Come Play: An MM Erotica Charity Anthology
  • An Ashlez Review: Master of No One (Masters of Their Domain, Book 1) by Tricia Owens

Wednesday, June 12:

  • Cover Reveal – – Shake The Stars by V.L. Locey
  • Signal Release Blitz Tour – V.L. Locey – Nine Small Sips (A Tales Of Bryant
  • Release Blitz signal – RJ Scott -Single
  • DSP Tour – Tom Early
  • Cover Reveal for Jay Hogan’s Digging Deep
  • An Alisa Review: Zale (Brotherhood of Ormarr #2) by Michelle Frost
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: The Athlete and the Aristocrat by Louisa Masters  and Seb Yarrick (Narrator)

Thursday, June 13:

  • TOUR The Player’s Protégé by CJane Elliott
  • PROMO ZAM
  • BLOG AND REVIEW TOUR Prince of Killers (Fog City #1) by Layla Reyne
  • Book Tour Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert
  • A MelanieM Review: Prince of Killers (Fog City #1) by Layla Reyne
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert

Friday, June 14:

  • Release Blitz Surviving the Shadows by Miranda Turner
  • Series Blitz Series Recap Tour – Elle Keaton – Accidental Roots Series
  • A Stella Review: a Cate Ashwood novel
  • A Lila Audio Review: Hiding the Moon (Fish Out of Water #4) by Amy Lane and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: The CEO’s Christmas Manny (Beyond the Boardroom #1) by Angela McCallister and John Solo (Narrator)

Saturday, June 15:

  • Cover Reveal Lily- Love’s Glory by Janice Jarrell
  • OWL Baja Clavius Tour
  • Release Blitz – Finding Trix by L.M. Brown

A MelanieM Review: Benoit (Owatonna U #3) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When the lines between career and love blur, will Ethan and Ben find a way to create a future that will work for both of them?

Senior year is here, and everything is on the line. Benoit’s time to shine in the crease is now, and he’s going to do everything he can to make sure those professional scouts take notice. He’s earned a great reputation for his skills in the net, and his laid-back demeanor is his key to maintaining his cool when things get heated in the goal crease.

As the Eagles roar into a new season, Ben’s laser-sharp focus is shattered by his attraction to Ethan Girard, the team’s new defensive consultant. Trying his best to ignore the budding friendship that’s taking a hard, fast turn into something far more passionate, Ben is determined to keep his mind on the sport he loves and not let his feelings for the handsome older man creep into his performance. But love, like hockey, is wildly unpredictable, and soon Ben finds that he’s unable to distance himself from Ethan who is slowly and surely working himself into his heart.

Famed Boston defenseman, Ethan Girard, isn’t stupid. Celebrating his thirty-second birthday in the emergency room after breaking his leg, and with a warning that healing will be a long process, he knows he has to think about his future. He was drafted at eighteen, and he’s never known anything but hockey, but with no contract in place yet for the new season he considers that maybe it’s time for him to hang up his skates for good.

Volunteering to help out with the Owatonna Eagles fills his time, but from the moment he lays eyes on goalie Ben, he knows his world will never be the same again. Falling in lust is as easy as stealing his first kiss, but Ben refuses to engage. Has Ethan finally met his match?

Benoit (Owatonna U #3) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey marks the end of this small “mini series” about college men graduating and heading off to play hockey.  It’s connected to RJ Scott and VL Locey’s other terrific hockey series, Harrisburg Railers through Ryker, the son and step son of the first and main couple in that series.

Of course, the hockey knowledge here is off the charts!  Reading these books is like immersing yourself in the world of hockey from tots on tiny skates wobbling slowly across the ice to the fierce play, loud arenas and fanatical cries of fans on game day.  When each player takes to the ice, both small to the  hulk in their team gear, the readers are emotionally with them, there in the cold, where their hearts are telling them they belong.  The writing is so so vivid and there in the moment and amazing!

Nor do the authors carry blinders about the worst  elements of hockey.  Those that want the violence, the fights to continue, the homophobes and the racists..  They have brought all those ugly aspects of the game out under the spotlight in various stories and do so here under with Benoit, who is both black and gay yet only wants to be known as a great goalie.  Ok, maybe Canadian goalie, but goalie nevertheless.

Combine that with a love story you can invest 100 percent of yourselves in and Benoit (Ben way) becomes a story you can’t put down.

I love Ethan Girard and his passion for Benoit, hockey, and finally, the new direction his life is taking.  It’s so easy  to be enthusiastic about this character because he feels to believable and so real, especially if you follow hockey.  You see those players at that age, rocking on the edge of that certain age.  Do they retire, do they start the slide down?  Hockey, like most professional sports is incredibly hard on the body and soul.  Another aspect of the game that always comes through Scott and Locey’s characters and relationships.

Benoit and Ethan as a couple are magic!  They are sexy, warm, loving and oh, so hot.  And by the end I wasn’t even close to wanting to let them go.  No even a smidge.

Thankfully, I have Coast to Coast, the first book in the new Raptors series about the Arizona Raptors hockey team to take my mind off of that.  Plus I just know I will be seeing Benoit and Ethan again.  That’s the way things go here in the hockey universes of RJ Scott and VL Locey.  We get to see all our favorite couples again and again…eventually.

If you are a hockey fan and lover of contemporary LGBT romance, then run, don’t walk and pickup Benoit!  And every other book in the Owatonna U series.  And the Harrisburg Railers which is coming to an end with Save the Date.  Just roll around in the love, romance,angst, and great hockey!  Then get ready for more with the Arizona Raptors who are bad to the bone.  I can hardly wait.

Yep, I highly recommend them all!

Cover art : Meredith Russell.  I just love the covers for this series.  Each and everyone perfect for the character and sexy as hell to boot.

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: May 29th 2019 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published May 17th 2019)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Owatonna U Hockey:

 
Owatonna U Hockey Series
 
Book #1 – Ryker – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #2 – Scott – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
 

Rolling Thunder, Memorial Weekend and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Thoughts on Memorial Day…

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep – Mary Frye (1932)

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow;
I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush;
I am in the graceful rush.

Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.

I am the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

The month of May has always been a month of celebrations, from Mother’s Day to birthdays to important anniversaries. For me and mine, May is a time for family, either by choice or blood, and of any configuration.  For me, it is a time to celebrate those that I love, whether it is their birth, or mine and my sister’s (for my Mother), and anniversaries which helped bring all of us together.  And if the weather cooperates, than even my gardens appear to be celebrating as the azaleas, dogwoods, and all the flowers burst into pastel hues in anticipation of the intense colors of summer.

With all of these emotions and thoughts directed towards celebrating those we love for most of the month, it  seems more than fitting to end May with Memorial Day, a day dedicated to remembrance of those who lost their lives keeping us safe and making it possible to celebrate all those birthdays, and anniversaries of people and  families we hold so dear.  My grandfather is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and this year, we buried my uncle close to him in a ceremony so moving that people were stopped all over the vast landscape as the sounds of the gun salute rang out over the hills and the trumpet played Taps.

Rolling Thunder passes by my parents farm every year on their way into the District and my father, a veteran of the Korean war, goes outside and salutes them as they pass by.  Our media here in the metropolitan area is full of pictures and videos marking the solemn day of remembrance as flags are put at every grave at Arlington and the crowds swell at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as well as that of the World War II one nearby.  If you have never visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, then you have not experienced the power and overwhelming sense of loss that pervades that site. The  Wall itself a marker of the high cost of valor and service to our country in the names of the men and women lost reflected back to us.  In that black stone reflection, we see the list of names in chronological order and our own reflections, the recipients of their sacrifice.  For me, never has a memorial to our dead felt so alive, awash in grief, and sorrow and gratitude.Vietnam Vet Memorial

This Memorial Weekend also marks the end to the Rolling Thunder procession, something that started in 1987 when the roar and rumble of hundreds of motorcycles from all over the country entered the capital on Memorial Day wanting accountability for the MIA’s …their name was Rolling Thunder.  Every year since then their number grew as did their chapters from state to state.  No longer just Vietnam veterans,  but  veterans from the Gulf Wars, Iraq, any places where our soldiers served. Rolling Thunder advocates for accountability for the missing in action and prisoners of war from all wars and military engagements.

For me, the roar of the motorcycles passing by is as much a part of Memorial Day as the flags flying.  They say it’s due to the high cost of the parade and security which has been billed to Rolling Thunder the past couple of years and as a non profit organization, something they can no long afford.  Somehow, that seems terribly wrong. So I will enjoy the rumble and roars one last time and try not to think about the quiet times ahead without the flashing and loud cloud of remembrance and patriotism that use to sound the arrival of Memorial Weekend .

Enjoy your Memorial weekend for those of you who live in the US or Americans abroad.  Spare some thoughts and prayers for those now gone and for those they left behind.

Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o’er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking.

-Sir Walter Scott

Arlington Cemetary overview

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 26:

  • Rolling Thunder and Memorial Weekend
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Release Blitz – A.E. Via – Prophesy Book #2: The Bringer of Wrath
  • A Fall in Autumn by Michael G. Williams Tour
  • A MelanieM Review: A Fall in Autumn by Michael G. Williams

Monday, May 27:

  • Review Tour – Sean Azinsalt – It’s In My Blood (Criminal Delights)
  • RELEASE BLITZ Keeping Cade by SE Jakes
  • PROMO Amy Lane on String Boys
  • An Ashlez Review : It’s In My Blood (Criminal Delights) by Sean Azinsalt
  • A VVivacious Review:It’s in My Blood – Criminal Delights: Obsession  by Sean Azinsaltt
  • A MelanieM Review Uncommon Ground (Aliens in New York #1) by Kelly Jensen
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Hitting the Mark by Aidan Wayne

Tuesday, May 28:

  • Cover Reveal – Come Play: An MM Erotica Charity Anthology
  • PROMO M.D. Grimm
  • Release Blitz – Anna Martin – The Color Of Summer
  • An Ali Release Day Review: String Boys by Amy Lane
  • A Melanie Review Purple Haze (Aliens in New York #2) by Kelly Jensen
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: The Color of Summer by Anna Martin
  • An Ashlez Review:  Match Grade (Criminal Delights) by GB Gordon

Wednesday, May 29:

  • REVIEW TOUR Torn by Rick R Reed
  • Review Tour – Benoit (Owatonna U #3) – RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • TOUR Zale by Michelle Frost
  • PROMO Dem Had+Giveaway for Barricades
  • A Vvivacious Review:Eight Lives: (Match Made in Hell #1) by Autumn Breeze
  • A MelanieM Review: Benoit (Owatonna U #3) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey
  • A Lila Review: Torn by Rick R Reed

Thursday, May 30:

  • Release Blitz – Roe Horvat – Adam Only
  • HARMONY INK PRESS PROMO Jeff Adams
  • Blog Tour – Third Time’s The Charm by K. Evan Coles
  • A VVivacious Review Want Me by Neve Wilder
  • A Lucy Review Third Time’s The Charm by K. Evan Coles
  • A MelanieM Review On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd

Friday, May 31:

  • TOUR ON THE SUBJECT OF GRIFFONS by Lindsey Byrd
  • Matchmaking Beyond the Veil by Mara Townsend
  • PROMO Michael Gouda
  • Blog and Review Tour OUT OF THE SHADE by S.A. McAuley
  • A Ali Review: Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: To the Ends of the Earth by Michael Gouda
  • A Lucy Pre release Review The Reluctant Husband (Goddess-Blessed #2) by Eliot Grayson

Saturday, June 1:

  • Book Blast – Between Bloody Lips by Sai Fox
  • BLOG TOUR Strike a Chord by KM Neuhold
  • A MelanieM Review:  Always With Me by Kris Jacen

More on Universe Building and Differing Frameworks. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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More on Universe Building and Differing Frameworks

 

More stories and more ideas on universe building and the size of the story.  From the tiny to the novella to the full sized novel that can be staggering in scope and size, universe/world building and its importance in the story has been of key interest to me.  As a reader, the world building, the layers, the richness, the imagination that an author pours into their universe for a story or series can enrapture me.  The details they think of, from the many cultures, languages, down to the clothing and food, pull me deeper into their novels and worlds, making it more real, more alive!

For some stories, it’s not just fantasy or science fiction that the author is building a specific universe for, sometimes it’s a contemporary one.  A certain location or family for example.  There it is still that same factors of language, geography, location, etc, that will hold true for fantasy and sci fi. Only whereas in fantasy and scifi you may be creating them, in contemporary they are there to be pulled from.

While I often think the heavier, longer tomes have it easier in world building because just in length alone, the author has the luxury of pages in which to take the time to include the world minutiae their imagination has created for their  characters and universe.  The problem here is often editing out the wealth of joyous overload the author has produced.  Building a complex universe takes a depth of knowledge and outlining, what to leave out is often as hard as what to put in.

But the other end of the spectrum?  The tiny story.  That itty bitty tale that dares you to put in any world building at all.

How to create a world on the top of a pin?  Or a story in 200 or 300 words?  One that feels so complete that you know the world those characters exist in.

Some authors can do it with just a few choice word placements.  Within a paragraph or page, a man mentions his sore throat, a constant illness, and a feeling settles over the story.  You don’t need to know about his viral loads to know he has AIDS, it has only taken some well chosen words and a location and the reader knows exactly who this man is and what he is going through. In a short story.

I so admire the high quality of writing of both authors that can build such stories, in tiny and huge, that have such ability to pull me in.

I figure that’s a lot of editing and heartbreak at work  in both forms in trying to know what to let go of…narratively speaking and what to hold on to.

But in both, for me at least, world building remains a key to unlocking the characters, their situations, and the storyline.  It’s the foundation it all rests upon, small or large.

 

Thoughts from H.B. on the matter:

I think it’s doable and can be well done using a few sentences or even a paragraph or two maybe a page or two. But I guess it depends on the writer but I don’t think authors have to limit themselves to that so I think it’s needless to think about?

As for small houses I know about them. She sheds have become popular of late and there are insurance commercials for it. I think All State actually did one a year or two ago? In china there’s are living quarters called microapartments where the rooms are only like 65-107 square ft or smaller (so enough for a bed and desk or just a bed).

 

We might come back to this topic and flash fiction later on.  As I said I love the subject.  Meanwhile, next week we go back to HEA or HFN which we never wrapped up.

Until then, happy Sunday, happy reading or listening.  And this is our upcoming week at our blog!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 19:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : American Fairytale (Dreamers #2) by Adriana Herrera
  • More on Universe Building and Differing Frameworks.
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, May 20:

  • Review Tour – – Love Kills (Criminal Delights) by Michael Mandrake
  • RELEASE BLITZ By Way of Pain by JM Dabney
  • PROMO Marie Sexton
  • A MelanieM Review: Modified and Sacred by Jana Denardo
  • A Stella Review:Top Shelf (Seacroft #1) by Allison Temple
  • An Alisa Review: Thirst for You (Beyond the Cove #2) by Jaclyn Quinn
  • An Ashlez Review:Love Kills – Criminal Delights: Serial Killers by Michael Mandrake

Tuesday, May 21:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Torn by Rick R Reed
  • Release Blitz OUT OF THE SHADE by S.A. McAuley
  • BLOG TOUR Seeing Red by Alex Beecroft
  • An Alisa Audio Review: If I Ever (Hell or High Water, #4) by SE Jakes
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Why We Fight (At First Sight #4) by T.J. Klune
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Redesigning Landry Bishop (Stars from Peril #2) by Kim Fielding
  • A Ali Review : Match Grade – Criminal Delights: Assassins by G.B. Gordon

Wednesday, May 22:

  • TOUR Azaran Jacki James
  • PROMO Kim Fielding
  • BLOG TOUR – The Hierophant’s Daughter  (The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy #1) by M.F. Sullivan
  • An Alisa Review: Lightbearer by L.C. Davis
  • A MelanieM Review Running on Empty (Havoc #3) by S.E. Jakes
  • A Lucy Audio Review Finding Love: The Perfect Size for You by Lily G. Blunt  and Sean Crisden (Narrator)

Thursday, May 23:

  • DSP PROMO Jodi Payne
  • Blog Tour – T.A.G. You’re Seen by A.G. Carothers
  • An Ashez Review: T.A.G. You’re Seen (The Assassins’ Guild #1) by A.G. Carothers
  • An Alisa Review Love on the Rocks by J.P. Bowie
  • A Free Dreamer Review: The Incredible Real Life Monster Man by L.B. La Vigne
  • A MelanieM Review: Not Gonna Lie (#lovehim #4) by S.M. James

Friday, May 24:

  • BLOG TOUR Want Me by Neve Wilder
  • Blog Tour – Eight Lives: (Match Made in Hell #1) by Autumn Breeze
  • Blog Post – DJ Jamison – Surprise Groom
  • An Alisa Review How to Heal by Susan Hawke
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Barricades by Dem Had

Saturday, May 25:

  • Release Blitz for AE Via – Nothing Special
  • Release Blitz & Signal – Kris Jacen – Always With Me
  • A MelanieM Review:  Always With Me by Kris Jacen

Happy Cinco de Mayo! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo also known as the ‘Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla’ is heavily celebrated here in the US, but not all may know exactly what that day stands for.  Some may think it’s the date of Mexico’s Independence.  Not true.  It actually celebrates a victory in battle over the French.

From the Britannica:

“When in 1861 Mexico declared a temporary moratorium on the repayment of foreign debts, English, Spanish, and French troops invaded the country. By April 1862 the English and Spanish had withdrawn, but the French, with the support of wealthy landowners, remained in an attempt to establish a monarchy under Maximilian of Austria and to curb U.S. power in North America. On May 5, 1862, a poorly equipped mestizo and Zapotec force under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French troops at the Battle of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City; about 1,000 French troops were killed. Although the fighting continued and the French were not driven out for another five years, the victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination. The city, which was later renamed Puebla de Zaragoza, is the site of a museum devoted to the battle, and the battlefield itself is maintained as a park.”

However, according to some references, once the holiday got associated with a certain alcohol, namely tequila, it really took off and it’s widely celebrated today outside Mexico.  So happy Cinco de Mayo!  Hence, the many Margaritas flowing today!

For more about Cinco de Mayo, check out the History Channel link here.

Cinco de Mayo – HISTORY

 HEA or HFN?

Now a little more about last week’s post on HFN or HEA, we heard from H.B on the subject:

H.B. “It’s hard to say and I guess depends on the characters and the way the story goes for me. I agree that a HEA has to have stability but I think the same standard can be applied to HFN stories. I guess a HEA story for me has to have details that make me believe the characters are committed to each other, solid within their relationship no matter the situation, will have each other backs, be supportive and not waver and is willing to fight when the going gets tough. In a nutshell, the author has to sell to me that the characters are deeply in love and that they’ve met “the one” and won’t let the person go if sh*t hits the fan and each fight to keep the other in the relationship.”

It was also on my mind as I was reading a new Rhys Ford story, the first in a new series the author has coming out (yes, just terrific).  The first book ends, of course, on a HFN, which i s the only way the story could end.  It was realistic, perfect, and made me immediately want to reach for the next story….which wasn’t there! lol.  But once again, it made me realize, as did the absolutely splendid story 717 miles by Sophia Soames that sometimes a HFN is the only way to end a novel.  That a HEA would be not only be unrealistic but would even ruin the story.

I also read far too many stories where a HEA was forced onto a story where a HFN would have been a far better fit.  Haven’t you?  A rushed ending?  Or a rushed relationship?  Just to get a ending that perhaps the author thought their readers wanted to read …heading off happily ever after…before they were actually ready for it.

How do you all feel about that?  You ok with it in your stories?  Or does that turn what could have been a great book into a meh book for you?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Meanwhile here is our week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 5:

  • Happy Cinco de Mayo! This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A Lucy Review:  The Accidental Baker by Clare London
  • A VVivacious Review: The King’s Fear (The Brass Machine #2) by Isaac Grisham

Monday, May 6:

  • Release Blitz – The Duke & The Dandy Highwayman (Duke & Dandy #1) by Zakarrie C.
  • Blog Tour – The King’s Fear (The Brass Machine #2) by Isaac Grisham
  • Review Tour – Jay Northcote ‘s Mud & Lace
  • A Lucy Review: Lyin’ Ryan by Kim Davis
  • An Alisa Review :The Love Left Behind by Daniel de Lorne
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Mage on the Hill (The Web of Arcana #1) by Angel Martinez
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Mud & Lace (Rainbow Place #4) by Jay Northcote

Tuesday, May 7:

  • Blog Post – Bryan T Clark – Escaping Camp Roosevelt
  • Blog Tour  for The Nature of the Game (Stick Side #2) by Amy Aislin
  • Audio Review Tour for Falling Down by Eli Easton and and Michael Stellman (Narrator)
  • A Lila Review: Starting from Zero by Lane Hayes
  • A MelanieM Review:The Nature of the Game (Stick Side #2) by Amy Aislin
  • An Ali Audio Review Audio Review:  Falling Down by Eli Easton and Michael Stellman (Narrator)
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: The Mage on the Hill (The Web of Arcana #1) by Angel Martinez

Wednesday, May 8:

  • Review Tour – Annabelle Jacobs’ Wounded Soul
  • RELEASE BLITZ for The #lovehim Series Box Set by S. M. James
  • Morgan James Promo on Love Conventions
  • An Alisa Review: A New Leash on Life by Deirdre O’Dare
  • An Ali G Release Day Review: Love Conventions by Morgan James
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Wounded Soul by Annabelle Jacobs
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Proper English by K.J. Charles

Thursday, May 9:

  • AUDIOBOOK REVIEW TOUR – Witchbane by Morgan Brice
  • Release Blitz – Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes – Prisoner Of Shadows
  • DSP PROMO Andrew Grey
  • An Alisa Review: Where Song Replaces Silence by Layla Dorine
  • A Stella Review: Made for You (Love and Family #2) by Anyta Sunday
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: Witchbane (Witchbane #1) by Morgan Brice and Kale Williams (Narrator)
  • A Lila Review: A Cordial Agreement by Ryan Loveless

Friday, May 10:

  • Release Blitz – Michael Mandrake – Love Kills (Criminal Delights)
  • Review Tour for Bryan T. Clark’s Escaping Camp Roosevelt
  • An Alisa Review : Escaping Camp Roosevelt by Bryan T. Clark
  • A Stella Review: How to Heal (Lovestrong #5) by Susan Hawke
  • A Lucy Review To Be Continued (#lovehim #6) by S. M. James
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Man-Eater by Katey Hawthorne

Saturday, May 11:

  • Blog Tour – SAINT UNSHAMED: A Gay Mormon’s Life Healing by Kerry Ashton
  • A MelanieM Review: The Poison Within (Inspector Skaer #1) by Kasia Bacon

HFN Or HEA? What Makes a Story a HEA for You? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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HFN Or HEA? What Makes a Story a HEA for You?

 

Here we are sailing into May.  Hard to believe, right?  Weather is still all topsy turvy with Spring blossoms vying with snowflakes depending upon where you live.  Here its’ winds and pollen, blossoms and varying temperatures.  All of which makes staying indoors and reading or listening a great way to spend the time.

Which segues into this Sunday’s topic.  HFN Or HEA?  What makes a story a HEA or HFN for you?  That came up last night as I finished reading a story I wanted to review this week.  It ended on a great note.  There was a proposal, the couple was definitely in love (yes, having declared it previously), but no wedding.  Just a proposal.  Also there is a child in the mix, that while a custody battle was semi settled, there wasn’t a permanent solution figured out.  Just a “feeling” that everything was going to work out in the end.  New job, etc.  It got me thinking.  How would I classify that ending?  I believe that author has it as a HEA.  And in many ways I can see that.  They are a committed couple, engaged.  They see themselves as a family unit going forward so yes, ok.

But….for me, there is also a lot of things still “up in the air” so to speak.  Elements in their lives that need settling before I might consider this a HEA.  Maybe more stability …I just don’t know why the feeling of that HEA totally escaped me here.  But it did.  Perhaps since we get to see progress of other couple from the story here, this might carry through to the third novel.  The author has a way of progressing her characters through her series, maturing the relationships or letting the readers see a progression in bits and pieces.

But again, it got me thinking why does one ending leave me so completely satisfied with the fate and relationship for a couple and another , nodding in recognition of a HFN?  And before I continue further I should say that HFN means Happy For Now and HEA means Happily Ever After.  Sign, sometimes I just assume people know what those terms mean.  HFN is where the couple might face an uncertain future, it could be temporary with a HEA still in play.  But life always manages to throw in obstacles in the path to HEA so for me HFN has always felt a more realistic choice in some cases however my heart wants a HEA for everyone.

I mean can you have a HEA after a short amount a time?  I’m talking about stories where the couples meet, fall in love in a week or two and have a HEA?  Possible?  Maybe ….or maybe not.  Maybe a HFN feels more authentic.

What makes a HEA feel real to you?

For me it’s where I have been on the journey with the couple to find their HEA, the relationship dynamics and characters felt real and believable.  I’ve watched the romance grow in depth, from stage to stage until everything comes to a culmination that says they made it, they are an established couple with a future ahead of them that we can and do believe in.  It’s golden (even if certain authors are then going to put them through the wringer lol).   Eventually we know they will toddle off together happy as rainbow clams.

But that’s me.  What’s your definition?  What elements have to be in play for a story to be a HEA for you ?  Or a HFN?  Let me know….a gift cert will be in your future.  Cut off date in 2 weeks time.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, April 28:

  • HFN Or HEA? What Makes a Story a HEA for You? This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Book Blitz – Clare London’s The Accidental Baker

Monday, April 29:

  • Review Tour – Love Is A Walk In The Park – V.L. Locey & Stephanie Locey
  • Review Tour – Rebecca Cohen’s Anthony, Earl of Crofton
  • Release Blitz for Annabelle Jacobs ‘ Wounded Soul
  • DSP PROMO Amanda Meuwissen on Coming Up for Air
  • An Ashlez Review: Sweating Lies – Criminal Delights: Taken (Lies #1) by Emma Jaye
  • A MelanieM Review: Anthony, Earl of Crofton by Rebecca Cohen
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Love Is A Walk In The Park by V.L. Locey & Stephanie Locey

Tuesday. April 30:

  • PROMO Mourning Dove by R.R. Campbell
  • Blog Tour – Sweating Lies – Criminal Delights: Taken  Lies #1) by Emma Jaye
  • Blog Tour – Grace Kilian Delaney – Living On A Dare
  • An Alisa Review: Rescued by Love by Deirdre O’Dare
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Coming Up for Air by Amanda Meuwissen
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Murder Most Lovely (Lacetown Murder Mysteries #1) by Hank Edwards and, Deanna Wadsworth
  • A MelanieM Review: Don’t Fight the Spark by Kasia Bacon

Wednesday, May 1:

  • Review Tour – Montana Sky (Montana #6) by RJ Scott
  • Review Tour – Lillian Francis – Under The Radar
  • Release Blitz – Bryan T. Clark – Escaping Camp Roosevelt
  • Release Blitz Made For You by Anyta Sunday
  • A MelanieM Review : Under The Radar by Lillian Francis
  • A Lucy Review: All My Fault by Michael Gouda
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Montana Sky (Montana #6) by RJ Scott

Thursday, May 2:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: RUNNING ON EMPTY, a Havoc novel by SE Jakes
  • Release Blitz – 717 miles by Sophia Soames
  • DSP PROMO Murder Most Lovely by Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth
  • Blog Post – Avery Cockburn – Play Hard (Glasgow Lads 4.5)
  • An Ali Review:Starting from Zero by Lane Hayes
  • A MelanieM Review :717 miles by Sophia Soames
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Destructive Forces by Harry F. Rey

Friday, May 3:

  • The Doctor’s Secret by Heidi Cullinan Tour
  • Blog Tour – Unimaginable by Iyana Jenna
  • Release Blitz – GB Gordon – Match Grade (Criminal Delights)
  • An Alisa Review: Unimaginable by Iyana Jenna
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs #4) by L.A. Witt
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Dangerous Times by Isobelle Winter
  • A MelanieM Review:The Doctor’s Secret (Copper Point Medical #1) by Heidi Cullinan

Saturday, May 4  May the Fourth Be With You!:

  • HARMONY INK PROMO Gina Harris and Anne Key
  • A MelanieM Review: Arctic Wild (Frozen Hearts #2) by Annabeth Albert

 

A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Stan Lyamin has seen many of his dreams come true. He’s found his soulmate, loves Noah like his own, hoisted the Cup, and has his Mama living with him in his new country. But his fantasies of a loud, loving, madcap home overflowing with childish laughter linger. When a distant family member passes, Stan and Erik immediately agree to take in the two orphaned children, but that means a trip back to Russia for Stan, an idea that both exhilarates and terrifies him.

Erik’s world tilts on its axis when a phone call wakes him and Stan in the middle of the night. Abruptly, Stan is returning to Russia, making deals, working with people who know people, and fully intending to bring two orphaned children home. The red tape is overwhelming, and Erik is alone in Harrisburg with the nearly impossible task of finding a nanny who can speak fluent Russian. Being on his own is one thing, but add in fears about Stan’s safety and team issues, and Erik is finding everything hard to balance; not least of which is spending quality time with Noah.

When their family expands from three to five, the journey won’t be easy, but love can always find a way.

Sometimes, especially now, you just need a story, that makes you laugh, feel absolutely wonderful down to your toes,  and makes your heart feel all shmoopy. That would be the latest in the Harrisburg Railers series, Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey.

This story has every element that’s guaranteed to make your face ache because it’s smiling so hard with the love and warmth that is overflowing from the characters and plot here. Yes, it feels that good.  Children, dogs, a grandmother, Elvis, well, not him exactly, but glitter, red tuxedos and so much more.  Plus you get Stan!!! Who I have to admit is my favorite Railer, he just is, fractured English and all.

Goalies, real and fictional, are just that special breed of human.  They take quirkiness to a whole new level and these two authors have always been able to bring that to the goalies they have created for their different hockey romances, Harrisburg Railers included.  But meeting him, heart to heart, is his soul mate Erik, another Railer.  Their relationship and deep love as well as  family is here, and it’s beautiful.

I love how the authors treat the expansion of Stan and Erik’s family, the careful consideration of the child already there, the patience and care with the new children coming into the fold.  It’s loving and endearing.  Plus we get the madcap too.

In the end, as usual, I’m left wanting so much more.  I can never get enough of Stan and Erik. I’m clearly obsessed here.  They make me feel great and just when I needed it the most.  I’ll probably be rereading it again instead of the news.

I love this series.  Such a variety in couples and plots.  Drama, suspense, hilarity, and romance.  And love of course, so much love.  I highly recommend them all.

 

Cover art: Meredith Russell.  I just love this cover.  It’s pertinent to the story and so clean and adorable.  Perfect!

Sales Links:

Amazon US | UK | CA | AUFR |DE (and other territories)

Apple Books | KOBO | Smashwords |Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 10th 2019 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published 2019)
ISBN 139781785641466
Edition Language English
Series Harrisburg Railers #8

Harrisburg Railers Series:

Changing Lines | First Season | Deep Edge | Poke Check | Last Defense | Goal Line | Neutral Zone | Hat Trick | Save The Date (30 June)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Home for Christmas (Texas #9) by R.J. Scott

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

One of my all-time favorite books is The Heart of Texas, the first in the Texas series, and Jack and Riley Campbell-Hayes will likely remain my favorite couple of all time in my heart forever. Seeing them now, over ten years after our last visit with them, brought that home to me. This is the story of their son, Connor, all grown up now, and the forever love he finds with River Samson, the man of his dreams. Jack and Riley are present throughout this story, and I must include one statement about them: they are still hot, still gorgeous, and still very much in love. Thank you for including them, RJ Scott!

Now, on to this story. Connor is a really sweet guy. Built like his pappa, Jack, he’s also quiet like him and he’s learned how to sit back, take in the facts, and proceed to fix any situation that comes along. But his friend River stymies him. They had a brief encounter at a frat party and then River ran off. As the story opens, he’s standing on a rooftop in the snow, waving a bottle of booze around. He’s coatless and scares the hell out of Connor, who fears he might jump.

When Connor drags him away, he virtually kidnaps River and drags him home to Texas to the big, noisy, crazy family he loves so much. There he meets Max, Connor’s autistic brother, who’s grown in so many ways. (Another thank you to the author for showing this Max to us.) And he meets Connor’s dads, his sister, his aunts and uncles, his grandmother, and more. In fact, he’s overwhelmed by the big family and wants nothing more than to hide from them and to hide his secrets about his own family.

RJ Scott brings us a beautiful, heartwarming family holiday story, complete with romance and heartache. I really enjoyed this one, but I must say that Connor’s sex scenes with River made me feel a little weird—almost as if I were spying on my own grandchild. It was odd to be present for grownup Connor’s sex life when I was there at the beginning when Riley and Jack selected their surrogate. Needless to say, I skimmed those scenes because I just couldn’t stay there and watch. LOL. May be just me, but eww, I couldn’t do it.

In any event, I believe those who’ve followed the series will love this one. I definitely recommend this to them and to those who enjoy family drama, hurt-comfort, and of course, holiday season romance.

The cover by Meredith Russell depicts a stunning young man with dark hair, wearing jeans, shirt, and open jacket with a snow-like overlay. It’s easy to see how much Connor looks like Jack.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 28th 2018 by Love Lane Books
ISBN1 39781785641435
Edition Language English
Series Texas #9

Texas Series


Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #8 – Texas Gift – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Holiday Release Blitz for Home For Christmas (A Texas Story) by RJ Scott (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
Length: 45,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 

Texas Series


Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #8 – Texas Gift – Amazon US | Amazon UK

 
Blurb
 

Can Connor show River a real family Christmas?


When Connor finds River on the roof of the campus admin building, he doesn’t know what to do. His friend is drunk, and shouting into a snowstorm, a bottle of vodka in his hand. The easy part is getting River down; the hard part is insisting River comes home with Connor for Christmas.


River doesn’t have a family, or any place outside of college that he calls home. Not that it matters to him; he’s happy being alone for Christmas in his budget motel, watching reruns of Elf. Only, Connor keeps telling wildly improbable stories of the perfect family celebrations at his parents’ ranch in Texas, and it’s wearing River down. He didn’t ask to be kidnapped. He didn’t want to fall in love with the entire Campbell-Hayes family. But he does.


From one Christmas to the next. This is Connor’s year to rescue River, and himself, for them both to mess things up, make things right, fall in lust and finally, for Connor to show the man he loves what being part of a family can mean.

 
Excerpt
 
Chapter 1


Connor skidded to a stop.


The cold December wind whipped around his face, ice and snow knifing into his skin, and at first, he couldn’t make sense of what he was seeing.


Maybe he should have stopped, called 911, shouted for help, but it could’ve been too late, so he’d acted on instinct alone. He’d taken the four flights of stairs at a run, reaching the roof and throwing the door open. His lungs burned from the freezing air and his voice had gone. What now?


Why was River on the roof in nothing but jeans and a T-shirt, clearly drunk? Why was he standing on the ledge, his feet spread, his arms wide, and a bottle of vodka in his hand?


When the girl from his floor told him she’d seen River go up to the roof, he thought she’d meant something else. He often went up there to read or watch life go by. But not in a snow storm.


He didn’t expect to see River standing on the ledge in the snow.


Don’t scare him. He’ll stumble and fall. He might jump.


A gust of air slapped Connor. River swayed to the left but righted himself with the casual grace of a gymnast. River wouldn’t fall by accident. Hell, Connor had seen him balance on one hand on a diving board, perfectly still, before falling gracefully and accurately with spins and pikes into the water below. He’d never seen River falter.


“River?” Connor asked, only an inch from grabbing River’s shirt and holding him tight. He saw River tense, but he didn’t wobble in surprise or slip and fall to the ground.


“I canbalance. Look at me.” River sounded so damn proud of himself.


Connor took a small step forward, finally being able to hold River’s shirt, hoping to hell that would be enough to stop River from falling.


“Come down, buddy.”


River lifted the bottle over his head, sloshing alcohol over his hair, his tongue flicking out to catch any that ran over his face.


“Fuck,” he shouted.


Connor tugged at him, not knowing what else to do. “Come back,” he said, loud enough that River actually looked at him.


“Leave me alone,” he said.


“I’m not leaving you on the roof,” Connor snapped and got a better hold of River, hooking a finger into his belt. River wasn’t a big guy, a diver’s body, no more than five ten and a buck sixty soaking wet, but if he fell, would Connor be able to hold him long enough to save him?


River pulled against Connor’s grip, and for a second the world stopped turning as Connor had to use his entire body weight to keep him upright. Something about the action must have scared River. He cursed and rocked backward, but he still wouldn’t come down.


“Come down,” Connor pleaded. “You’re scaring me.”


“You think you gotta save me? Huh?” River threw his arms wide again, more alcohol sloshing over the top of the bottle. “I don’t need saving.”


“I want you to come down.” Connor tried for calm. What was he doing? He should have called the cops immediately when he spotted River. Or firefighters, negotiators? Or whoever the hell should’ve been here. He’d seen things like this on the television, the mediator knowing all the right things to say and do, standing by River and connecting him to his family or childhood or his faith. All Connor knew was that he needed to pull River down, use the only thing he had going for him; the fact that he was bigger and stronger.


“I like it up here!” River explained with another wide gesture. He wobbled a little but righted himself immediately.


“Come down, Riv.”


“Saint Connor tries to save everyone,” River shouted, ending with a hysterical laugh. He was clearly losing control of himself, and even if Connor did have the words to talk him down, he thought maybe he’d just yank River back onto the concrete roof of the building and worry about injuries later.


But River wasn’t finished. “Even if they don’t need saving!”


“River!”


“Who the hell cares if I can balance, huh?”


“I care,” Connor shouted back. This was so out of character.


“Yeah, right, telling me what Christmas and family is like for you, making me see it in my head, and then leaving me here alone.”


“River, please.” Connor tugged him, but River wouldn’t move back.


“Leaving me here, alone, because that’s all anyone ever does. They fuck off, leave me, and what happens when college is over, huh? What happens when I lose that?” He lifted one clenched fist to the sky. “Fuck you!”


Connor had never heard River curse like this, and he was done with holding on to him. So evaluating where they would end up if they fell backward and not caring how much it hurt, he yanked, hard. River tumbled with him, arms flailing and the vodka bottle slipping from his grasp and falling into the tub of snow-covered plants on the roof patio. The two of them fell onto the roof, Connor using his body to cushion River’s descent, getting his arms full of an icy cold man, the breath forced from his lungs when they hit the ground.


Connor enveloped him in his arms and locked his hands in place, fighting a frozen, wet, drunk River. He wouldn’t get free. Connor had his pappa’s height, a rancher’s build, and he was a solid anchor in the wind and snow. There was no point in River fighting, and somehow he must have realized he couldn’t get free and went still in Connor’s arms.


All Connor could think was that he’d wanted River back in his arms for a long time now, but he’d expected soft lighting and mood music, not driving winds and snow.


“What the hell are you doing?” Connor demanded.


“Let me the fuck go.”


“Jesus, are you trying to kill yourself?”


River attempted to wriggle free. Connor’s grip didn’t falter in his hold. With his arms securely around River, he shuffled them back so they were protected by the low wall. He wanted to get them back inside, but he wasn’t ready to let River go yet, and the door was at least ten feet away. What if River wriggled free and ran for the ledge? The idea of River on the ground, twisted in death, blood… Connor didn’t want to think about it. He opened his coat, one-handed, and then pulled River closer, trying to get as much of the material to go over him, attempting to keep them both warm. River’s skin was like ice. How long had he been standing up there?


“What were you doing?” he demanded, but River didn’t reply, only burrowed deeper into Connor’s hold. This was stupid. He needed to get them off the roof, or he needed help. His phone was in the car. The campus was emptying for Christmas. It was ten a.m., snowing. What the hell was he going to do now?


“I have no one,” River muttered, then laughed and buried his face deeper.


“What do you mean? Talk to me, River.”


“No.”


“We need to get inside.”


How the hell do I get River inside?


He imagined struggling with River’s weight, trying to get him down four flights of stairs and across to his room. Maybe if he could just get him to the car, with its heated seats and the warm air blower and the coffee in a flask that Connor had made for the start of his journey back to Dallas. Then he could call someone, the cops or a doctor? That seemed like a plan, a focus. He scrambled to his feet, bringing River with him, and stumbled inside. As soon as the door shut, warmth hit them, prickling at his exposed skin, and he moved toward the radiator, still gripping River’s belt. He let go of him long enough to remove his jacket and place it around the shivering man’s shoulders.


River buried himself in the coat, and Connor went into disaster assessment mode. He’d seen hypothermia back home at the D, and it wasn’t pretty. He remembered his pappa saying there were signs to look for, and when Jack spoke, Connor always listened. He pulled up the facts he could remember. Did River have hypothermia? His teeth weren’t chattering, and he wasn’t talking at all, so it wasn’t obvious if he was slurring. Then, even if he did talk and his speech was slurry, how could Connor tell how much vodka he’d drunk? Connor tried to remember the symptoms. The college hospital wasn’t far away. He could drive there, and they would help.


Why the hell did I leave my phone in the damned car?


“It’s okay. I’m okay.”


“No, you’re not.”


“You can go,” River said dully. He wriggled closer to the radiator.


“I’m not going anywhere.”


“But you are,” River murmured. “You kissed me, you got me off, and now you’re leaving today.” Then he hid his face in his hands. “Shit, shit, shit.”


Wait. Was this about what happened at the thanksgiving party?


Is this my fault?


Connor didn’t usually drink that much, but he’d had one beer too many at the party, to the point where he had all the courage he needed to wait for River to come out of the bathroom.


“Can I kiss you?” he’d asked, and River had stared at him, stone-cold sober and narrow-eyed.


But then, holy shit, River had pushed him back into the nearest bedroom, shut the door, and the kiss had turned into something more, hands tangled in hair, the two of them kissing and rutting against each other until they were coming in their jeans. Really unromantic. Nothing more than getting off, and River had left before Connor could even get his breath back. Not the best of outcomes. Then River had ignored him. Not returning texts, no more study sessions in the library, and he’d even missed the last lecture of the semester.


All of that told Connor on thing: River wasn’t interested in anything more with him. But that didn’t mean they weren’t still friends. They sat in silence for a few minutes, River’s face still buried in his hands, and he was clearly crying.


What the hell should I do now?

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.


RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.


The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

 

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