A MelanieM Review: Last Defense (Harrisburg Railers #5) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

 

Two men afraid to feel, have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love. 

Every time Max Van Hellren steps on the ice he knows it could be his last time. At thirty-two he’s past his prime but he’s also hiding a life-threatening injury that private doctors warn could kill him. This is his last season, and there’s a chance he could lift the Stanley Cup after fourteen years in the NHL. He just needs to stay safe and healthy; difficult when he’s known for his heavy hitting and with a propensity for dropping the gloves and putting his body in the way of pucks to keep his team safe. A one-night stand with a sexy man was just what he needed, dangerous and hot, but what if it turned into more? Would he have to share the secrets he so desperately tries to hide?

Ben Worthington had it all. A fulfilling job running the CrossRoads Shelter, his loving aunts, and a husband that understood his devotion to animals. Then, the love of his life left him, succumbing so quickly to an unexpected sickness that Ben never had time to say goodbye. The violent loss scarred him. Unable to move past his fears, he moves from lonely encounter to lonely encounter, slaking a desperate need that is eating away at him, but never making a connection that could lead him back into love. One night with Max makes him want more, but will giving into the temptation open the door to feelings he can’t contain?

Can these two broken man ever find a way to be together?

Last Defense is another wonderful addition to the Harrisburg Railers hockey series by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey.  I just adore this series, written by two authors whose novels I love separately but together are producing a series that combines the excitement and camaraderie of pro hockey teams with high romance.  It just works so well!

And boy, can they write hockey! I know V.L. Locey is a true blue hockey fan and it shows! Those action scenes on ice just power off the page!  But again I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here we have a relatively new addition to the Railer’s,Max Van Hellren, signed for an injured player on the recovery list.  Max is on borrowed time.  He has a medical condition known only to him and his doctor and this is his last season.  He wants to make it count.  Immediately the authors have given us a man we can understand.  He’s a poignant character, full of passion and about to lose that which he cares about.  With nothing to take its place.

Until Ben and his dog, Bucky walk into the arena and his life.  Ben also has his own void in his life, one left when his husband died suddenly.  Now his life is filled running their no-kill shelter and spending time with his elderly, and highly political aunts.

Switching points of view gives us in depth history and ability to be able to connect with each man as they meet, maneuver through their complicated maze of feelings about each other, the swirling outside family drama that arises, and, of course, the fact that the Railers are making a run for the Stanley Cup!!

I loved the characterizations here.  Incorporating Ben’s grief and fear over the loss of his husband and then extending that to the potential loss of another is a reasonable fear here for Ben.  One he needs to work through.  And Max’s issues with his health versus his needs and goals are also realistic and believable.

Always a bonus?  Seeing some of my other series favs pop up.  Like Stan the Railers Russian goalie in search of his perfect rescue dog for his family and of course Trent Hanson’s nana dressed all in orange (Deep Edge) doing her thing in the arena. Hint.  She’s not a Railers fan.  The series, like the team, is made up of everyone we’ve come to love and like a family they appear to support each couple and their relationship.

I would have liked to have seen a little bit more resolution to the family drama but maybe that;s because that awful family member might pop up again later in the series.  Can’t tell yet.  I would have loved to have seen him dealt with throughly. That’s my only slight issue here.

Otherwise I loved this tale.  Its adding up to just one more story fleshing out a team that’s unforgettable.  You don’t need to love hockey to love the Harrisburg Railers and the men who romance them.  Of course if you do, then its double and triple the fun!

Yes, I highly recommend this series and the authors.  Start at the beginning and work your way here.  It’s so much more fun that way!

 

Cover Design: Meredith Russell.  Love this cover.  Works so well for the characters involved.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 170 pages
Published May 16th 2018 by Love Lane Books Limited
ISBN139781785641145
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHarrisburg Railers #5

 

Harrisburg Railers Series

Book #1 – Changing Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #2 – First Season – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #3 – Deep Edge – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #4 – Poke Check – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review Tour – Last Defense (Harrisburg Railers #5) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 52,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Harrisburg Railers Series
 
Book #1 – Changing Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – First Season – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Deep Edge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Poke Check – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Two men afraid to feel, have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love.

Every time Max Van Hellren steps on the ice he knows it could be his last time. At thirty he’s past his hockey prime but he’s also hiding a life-threatening injury that private doctors warn could kill him. This is his last season, and there’s a chance he could lift the Stanley Cup after fourteen years in the NHL. He just needs to stay safe and healthy; difficult when he’s known for his heavy hitting and with a propensity for dropping the gloves and putting his body in the way of pucks to keep his team safe.

A one night stand with a sexy man was just what he needed, dangerous and hot, but what if it turned into more? Would he actually have to share the secrets he so desperately tries to hide?

Ben Worthington had it all. A fulfilling job running the CrossRoads Shelter, his loving aunts, and a husband that understood his devotion to animals. Then, the love of his life left him, succumbing so quickly to an unexpected sickness that Ben never had time to say goodbye. The violent loss scarred him.

Unable to move past his fears, he moves from lonely encounter to lonely encounter, slaking a desperate need that is eating away at him, but never making a connection that could lead him back into love. One night with Max makes him want more, but will giving into the temptation open the door to feelings he can’t contain?

Can these two broken men ever find a way to be together?



May 16 – Reading In Sarah’s Corner, Xtreme Delusions, Urban Smoothie Read
May 18 – Katie’s Book Corner, We Three Queens, The Geekery Book Review, Gay Media Reviews, Bookaholic & Kindle
May 21 – MM Midnight Cafe, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, My Fiction Nook, My Book Filled Life
May 23 – OMG Reads, Jim’s Reading Room, MM Good Book Reviews, RAM PA Group
May 25 – Nerdy Dirty & Flirty, Making It Happen
May 28 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, Wicked Reads
May 30 – Book Lovers 4Ever, Padme’s Library
June 1 – Book Review By Virginia Lee, Mirrigold, Bayou Book Junkie

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.
 
Excerpt
 

“Nice dog.” I paused just this side of the players’ entrance at the deep voice coming from behind me. There was something about that man’s voice…the timbre of the bass or the way he spoke. Not sure what it was, but the last time he’d spoken to me my body had had the same kind of reaction. A spear of latent heat low in my belly followed by a shiv of icy dread.

“Thanks.” I wanted to stare at the door. Or run. I couldn’t do either of those, though, so I turned to face the bearded man. Christ, but he was fierce-looking. Like a Viking, with piercing eyes and an aura that screamed berserker. He was bigger than me. Taller by at least four inches and probably sixty pounds. He was wearing a suit, as Stan and Erik had been, but his looked incredibly fine on his burly frame. Dark blue with a silver tie and a white shirt. His biceps strained the material trying to contain them.

“His name is Bucky.” There now, I had spoken to the man who made my heart leap around inside my chest like a frog on a highway.

“Like Captain America’s sidekick?” He looked down at my worn T-shirt with Cap’s shield on it.

“Exactly like that.”

He took another step, which put him into my little personal space bubble, his gaze and mine locked. I wet my lips and jerked my chin up a bit. I wasn’t going to let some hockey player intimidate me.

“Cute dog. Hot owner.” He gave me a long, slow look, petted Bucky, and stepped around the dull-witted man trying to digest the fact Mr. Fear had said he was hot. “Are you coming in, or are you teaching your dog to open doors mentally?”

“I’m here to see Layton Foxx.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m here to participate in morning skate.”

“I know who you are. Max van Hellren. You played for Washington four years ago.”

He tugged the door open and settled a kind of bored look on me. “Yeah, that was me. You like Washington?”

“Hometown team.” Bucky barked to back me up. Max smiled. All the ferocity that oozed out of him dissipated when he smiled. The man was seriously fine.

“Maybe I can change your mind about which team to cheer for, Mr. Washington Fan.”

“Ben. My name is Ben.”

He nodded just once, his hand still keeping the door open. “Ben. I like that. Suits you. So, are we coming in or are we going to flirt here in front of Pete?”

A security guard peeked around the door and winked at me. I wanted to die. Right there.

“I don’t flirt,” I snapped. I stalked around Max and Pete and went off to find Layton Foxx. Determination hot in my breast kept me from looking back to see if Max was checking out my ass. I hoped he was and I prayed he wasn’t.

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes 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.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

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Is History Repeating Itself? Amazon and eBooks.This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Is History Repeating Itself? Amazon and eBooks

It wasn’t that long ago (1980’s and 1990’s) really that the book world was being torn asunder by the rise of the super bookstores like Crown Books, Waldenbooks, B. Daltons, Borders among others who, due to their size and discounting practices, under cut the neighborhood bookstores and put many out of business because they couldn’t compete.

Then ironically came computer ordering and  Amazon.  Slowly the sales started to erode at the major booksellers as the cheaper hardbacks and then eBooks gained (for many reasons) in popularity and people started buying, not just eBooks but all their books on the computer.  Equally ironic?  Later we saw the  rise of the niche bookstore, quietly returning back to the neighborhoods,  filling a hole and feeding a desire that never quite left because people love to visit bookstore, hold actual books, and talk with others who share their passions.

Now its 2018 and so many of those super bookstore chains are gone or failing done in by Amazon’s success, with Google, iTunes and others close behind. Banes and Noble‘s longstanding flagship store in Bethesda is closing…long a landmark. Lately I’ve been wondering if our LGBT publishers have been looking over their shoulders and wondering if they will be able to compete against this giant as well.  The list of publishers that have given up  recently is depressing because they were the ones I turned to when I wanted my stories to read all those years ago (Samhain Publishing, ARe, Loose Id, Torquere…).  it certainly wasn’t’ Amazon.

All those special niche publishers fed my need for these stories , giving home and platform to authors who had stories to tell.  There is a much longer list than I gave and not all ended gracefully or were well run, just as all small businesses everywhere.  Somehow with us, it seems more personal, our world smaller somehow.  Anyhow, I’m getting off-course again.  They did something Amazon couldn’t or wouldn’t do.  The small and personal against the enormous  business machine.

Does the #cockygate ring any bells for you?  Google it!

So now Amazon is in the publishing business as well as the selling business and the cost of eBooks is rising.  Some say it’s rising far above what people should have to pay for an eBook?  What’s too high?  $8 $9?  What’s your limit for an eBook? What’s the price you would pay for convenience and portability?  I get a feeling the market is about to find out.

What are your feelings about this?

Is there a built in balance supplied by the consumer?  With the big business on one end (no matter the type Amazon or Crown and the more personal small business mode on the other?  Or can both co exist financially if the right market balance is achieved?   Same with publishers.  Can the very real need for the small niche publishers ensure that they succeed even while the giants like Amazon and Google and iTunes roll on?

I hope that our continuing need for the personal, the quirky, and the individual will help us support our LGBT publishers while also not forgetting that there are self-publishing authors who need to make a living and do so via the juggernaut that is Amazon.  We need both and should give our support to both.    That doesn’t mean sacrificing scrutiny however, especially where in-house practices are concerned.  And not just Amazon.

Much has been said recently about the practices at Borders and the problems at Riptide Publishing has been well documented here.

So, my wonderful readers here, I have one more question to put to you. What responsibility, if any, do we have as readers, to the authors and publishers that we love to read and buy from? Is it enough to simply buy their stories and leave it at that?  Or do we have a larger responsibility here simply as book lovers to ensure that the concerns of all readers are being taken care of.  That all stories are safe, not pirated, not being withheld from the public because of a giant conglomerate’s minion’s desire to remove all titles with the word Cocky in it (#cockygate), or just because they contain LGBT subject matter on the cover or storyline.  Or even, help us, have a PoC on the cover.  Do we just keep buying books or do we do something?  And what?

 

What say you?  I’d really like to know…

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 13:

  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Is History Repeating Itself? Amazon and eBooks
  • Blog Tour for Upon Broken Wings by EL Reedy and AM Wade
  • Ellie Keaton’s Unforgivable Tour

Monday, May 14:

  • Release Blitz – Swings & Roundabouts – Jackie Keswick
  • AUDIO TOUR The Solstice Prince by SJ Hime
  • Harmony Promo Andrew Demcak
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Rank & File (Anchor Point #4) by L.A. Witt and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Kairos by Mary Calmes and Michael Fell (Narrator)
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Watching and Wanting (Housemates #4) by Jay Northcote and Lewis Carter (Narrator)

Tuesday, May 15:

  • DSP Promo Chase/Rhodes
  • Series Recap Blitz – C.F White – Responsible Adult Series
  • Release Blitz – Leta Blake – Alpha Heat
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: Nudging Fate by EJ Russell
  • A VVivacious Review Angel and Firebird by Nell Iris
  • A MelanieM Review:  The Henchmen of Zenda by K.J. Charles
  • An Alisa Review: The Power of Two by Leigh Vining

Wednesday, May 16:

  • Hybrid cover reveal and book blitz *Masters and Mages series by Alexis Duran
  • Release Blitz Tour – Last Defense (Harrisburg Railers #5) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey
  • Review Tour – On the Ice (Stick Side #1) by Amy Aislin
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: On the Ice (Stick Side #1) by Amy Aislin
  • A Stella Review Lock Nut(Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) by JL Merrow
  • A Lila Review: A Disposable Husband by Iyana Jenna
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Free Falling (Extreme Escapes, Ltd.) by S.E. Jakes and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

Thursday, May 17:

  • DSP Promo Julia Talbot
  • RELEASE BLITZ A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra
  • RIPTIDE TOUR Lock Nut (Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) by JL Merrow
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Syncopation (Twisted Wishes #1) by Anna Zabo
  • A Stella Review: Lock Nut(Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) by JL Merrow
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Dirty Deeds (Dirty Deeds, #1) by SE Jakes and Adam North (Narrator)

Friday, May 18:

  • New Release Tour for Level Up by Annabeth Albert
  • Review Tour – Garrett Leigh’s Whisper
  • Review Tour – Exploration (Kinky in the City #1) by Quinn Ward
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Juggernaut  (Strain #0.5) by Amelia Gormley
  • A Jeri Review: Whisper (Skins #2) by Garrett Leigh
  • An Alisa Review:  Exploration (Kinky in the City #1) by Quinn Ward

Saturday, May 19:

  • Book Blitz for Level Up by Annabeth Albert
  • A MelanieM Review: :Level Up by Annabeth Albert

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Sinner & The Saint (Ellery Mountain #8) by RJ Scott

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Nick Merrick left England amidst of storm of media attention. Berated for breaking his engagement to the daughter of a prominent member of Parliament, and for being gay and participating in a sex tape scandal, he seeks out the anonymity of his friend Jason’s house in Ellery Mountain while he unwinds and takes time to assess where he’s going with his life. He doesn’t meet his sexy neighbor Ben until Ben reports a break-in at the house where Nick is staying. Not knowing Jason gave someone access to the property, Ben is shocked when the cops show up and he meets the gorgeous guy with the British accent who’s suddenly thrust into his life.

Ben is a doctor, on temporary assignment in Ellery Mountain, working with Daniel to bring a burn unit to the Veteran’s Center. The gruff loner is looked upon as a hero since he’s the man who saved Daniel’s life in the Army but he doesn’t feel heroic. On the inside he’s a mess and considers himself “less than” many others who served their country due to the decisions he had to make that ultimately negatively affected so many good men.

The story moves along anticipated lines with characters from the town, some of whom may be well-known to those who follow the series, interacting with the two MCs. We learn that the media has blown Nick’s problems out of the water and the reality is that he and his fiancé are best friends and the breakup was a way for her to find happiness with the man she really loved. We also learn there are no sex tapes and we get to watch the push-pull sexy interactions between Nick and Ben as they decide to have no-strings sex and nothing more. And we get to see that plan fail.

Typical of RJ Scott’s writing in other books in this series, the MCs find their way to a resolution of their problems and a happy ending. Along the way, some of their problems dissipated rather quickly, some were only superficially addressed, and some played out a resolution.

Though I read books one through three, I haven’t read any since that time. However, it was easy to follow this story. In fact, other than recognizing character names from previous books, it was quite simple to read this and I’m sure anyone can read it as a standalone.

A light, sweet romance mixed with a bit of sex, but thankfully not an overload of it, this book is an easy one-day read.

~~~

The cover by Meredith Russell depicts the MCs of this story in the upper panel: two handsome young men, the one in the front is bearded and dressed casually and the one behind him is dressed in business attire with a stethoscope around his neck. The lower panel is a panorama of the Ellery Mountain area that ties this to the balance of the series.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published 2018 by Love Lane Books Limited
Original TitleThe Sinner and the Saint
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEllery Mountain #8

A Lila Review :Winter Cowboy by RJ Scott

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Micah Lennox left Whisper Ridge after promising the man he loved that he would never return. But the only way he knows to keep his pregnant sister and nephew safe is to go home. Spending winter in Wyoming opens too many old wounds, but he’s on the run from justice which can’t be far behind, and this is his last chance at redemption.

After a hostage situation leaves Doctor Daniel Sheridan struggling with PTSD, he returns to Whisper Ridge. Joining his dad in family practice is a balm to soothe his exhausted soul, and somehow, he finds a peace he can live with. That is until he meets Micah in a frozen graveyard, and the years of anger and feelings of betrayal boiling inside him, erupt.

Two broken men fight and scratch for their lives and that of their families, and somehow, in the middle of it all, they find each other.

Is it possible that love can be rekindled and become a forever to believe in?

Winter Cowboy is an interesting second chance story with too much happening off-page when the main characters were younger. It has a lot of drama, angst, and dark events–which also happened off-page.

The start is a bit confusing and it takes a moment to get into what’s happening. During this time, we get Micah’s version of the present events, mixed with the past. We learned a lot of what had happened to get him and his sister to this point. Also, their background and relationship with the family members that raised them.

I did enjoy Daniel’s characterization and how easy it was to feel what was happening to him; his fears, PTSD, and his confusion. How the two main events in his life turned into one leaving him with the need to escape and find solitude.

The combination of Micah and Daniel is explosive and passionate. They both have their flaws and at the same time, they bring hope to each other. This book is more about relationships, family, and forgiveness than love but all together makes an enjoyable read.

The cover by Meredith Russell is generic enough to fit the story but it doesn’t present anything about it. Just pretty to call the reader’s attention.

Sale Links: Love LaneAmazon | NOOK

ebook, 242 pages
Published: February 25, 2018, by Love Lane Books Ltd.
ISBN: 9781785641114
Edition Language: English

Series: Whisper Ridge, Wyoming
Book #1: Winter Cowboy

Review Tour for Winter Cowboy (Whisper Ridge, Wyoming #1) by R.J. Scott (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 70,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Blurb
 

Micah Lennox left Whisper Ridge after promising the man he loved that he would never return. But the only way he knows to keep his pregnant sister and nephew safe is to go home. Spending winter in Wyoming opens too many old wounds, but he’s on the run from justice which can’t be far behind, and this is his last chance at redemption.


After a hostage situation leaves Doctor Daniel Sheridan struggling with PTSD, he returns to Whisper Ridge. Joining his dad in family practice is a balm to soothe his exhausted soul, and somehow, he finds a peace he can live with. That is until he meets Micah in a frozen graveyard, and the years of anger and feelings of betrayal boiling inside him, erupt.


Two broken men fight and scratch for their lives and that of their families, and somehow, in the middle of it all, they find each other.


Is it possible that love can be rekindled and become a forever to believe in?




Feb 28 – Oh My Shelves, Annette Gisby, My Fiction Nook, The Blogger Girls
March 2 – Alpha’s Do It Better, Bookaholic & Kindle
March 5 – Urban Smoothie Read, Gay Media Review
March 7 – BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, MM Good Book Reviews, Nerdy Dirty & Flirty
March 9 – Making It Happen, The Geekery Book Review, Wicked Reads, Slave To The Written Word
March 12 – Sexy Erotic Xciting, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, Book Lovers 4Ever, Jim’s Reading Room, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews
March 14 – Xtreme Delusions, Drops Of Ink
March 15 – Hearts On Fire Reviews
March 16 – Valerie Ullmer, Mirrigold, Padme’s Library, A Book Lover’s Dream, Bayou Book Junkie

 

Excerpt
 

Chapter 1

2009, Daniel


A figure stood beside Isaac’s grave and I knew immediately who it was.


There was no marker yet for the boy who had died two weeks ago and who would forever be nineteen. Flowers marked his resting place, but snow had long since covered them and softened the raised earth so it wasn’t as obvious against the gravestones around the figure. A car accident had taken Isaac, killed him on impact, and his family grieved for a future that would never be realized.


I’d just left my brother, Chris, in the hospital, broken beyond repair in the same accident. At least we had the possibility of a future with him, even though the road to recovery would be hard. He was still in a medically induced coma, not yet awake to know he’d lost his leg, or that fire had marked his face. But he would wake up. They told us he’d live.


No one had asked me where I was going when I’d left Chris’ room, each of us lost in various stages of shock and grief, and we all dealt with what had happened in our own way. I’d needed to connect with Isaac. Needed the peace to balance the loss and guilt that ate away inside me.


Isaac dead on impact, Chris’ future destroyed, and in front of me, hunched over Isaac’s last resting place, was the man responsible for it all.


The man who left my bed in the dead of night to become a murderer.


Micah.


He was huddled into his coat, the January ice bitter by the buried, hands forced into his pockets, and his hood pulled around his face. Micah must have heard me, because he glanced my way, startled, grief written on his face. And then his expression changed.


He stepped toward me, his expression full of something like hope.


“Daniel?” he said. “Is Chris okay? No one will let me see him.”


He stopped walking when I didn’t reach out for him and looked at me uncertainly.


“His leg is gone, down from his knee,” I explained dispassionately, and then touched my face, “and his burns are bad, the left side of his face from his temple to his chin.”


“Shit. Shit.” Micah bent at the waist, as if he couldn’t breathe, and he was crying.


“How is it you don’t have a mark on you?” I asked, still eerily calm, and utterly focused.


He took his hand from his pocket, and pulled up his sleeve, exposing bandages. “I was burned,” he began. He dropped his hand when I didn’t comment, forced it back into his pocket, wincing as he did so.


I imagined the burn hurt a little, maybe even a lot, but he was there, as whole and real as when he’d left my bed on that terrible day.


In my mind I saw Chris in the hospital, the covers raised over the cage which protected his surgical site, then dipping lower where his ankle should have been. I saw a clear image of Isaac the day before he died, knocking for Chris and grinning at me as if he had the greatest secret to tell his best friend.


And here was Micah, telling me he had slight burns on his arm? The same man who’d told me in one breath that he loved me and then had stolen my car, driving it into a bridge and killing one boy, leaving another maimed and in a coma.


My fist flew, clenched aggression targeting Micah’s face, his cheekbone, and I heard a satisfying crunch. He staggered back a step, but he didn’t go down, and he didn’t take his hands from his pockets. I was too fast. I hit him again, blood flecking his face, dissipating into the icy air. He moved again, the force of my blows shoving him back.


Still, his hands remained in his pockets, and he was unnervingly quiet, taking my hits as if they were nothing at all. Another punch connected with his lip and split the skin, and this time he grunted in pain. He staggered backward toward the next grave and bent back over the stone marker with the force of that final blow. I stepped closer. I hit him again, connecting with his jaw, but the hit wasn’t hard. There was nothing to it; he didn’t move away.


“You took my car,” I yelled, right in his face.


“You said I could borrow it,” he pleaded.


I raised my hand to hit him again, but he winced, and closed his eyes, and I wanted him to look at me. “Open your damn eyes!”


He did, and he wouldn’t avert his gaze, naked grief in his expression.


“Daniel, please listen.”


“You’ve destroyed Chris’ life.”


“I know.”


“You need to leave Whisper Ridge, and never come back. I don’t want to see your face, I don’t want Chris to ever see you again. You understand?”


“I understand,” his tone low and broken.


“You will never come back here.” I shook him. He was smaller than me, thinner, lighter, and I shook him so hard his head snapped back. “Promise me!”


“I pr—promise,” he said through tears.


I was disgusted by him, hated him, wanted to kill him right there on Isaac’s grave.


“I hope they lock you up and throw away the fucking key!” I was still shouting, and he didn’t move, just stared at me with those pale eyes, red and wet from crying. He wouldn’t stop crying. “Don’t fucking stare at me!”


I shoved him one last time, and then before I could work out what the hell I was still doing there shouting at him, I pivoted and turned my back on him, and on Isaac’s grave, and the entire carnage.

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.


RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes 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.


Giveaway

A MelanieM Review:Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.


Stanislav “Stan” Lyamin is happy playing for the Railers. The towering goalie is well-loved, respected, and making a home for himself even though that home only contains him, his cat, and his growing Pokemon trading card collection. Stan prefers it that way.


He’d given his heart to a man in a secret affair, and that man walked away, leaving Stan shattered. Now Erik is back in his life, and he has the same tumultuous effect he had on Stan’s heart as before. This time it’s not just a kissable mouth and sweet blond curls that Erik has brought to Harrisburg, there’s a soon-to-be ex-wife and a precious baby.


Despite the vow Stan made to hate Erik forever, he’s now finding it harder and harder to turn away.


Erik Gunnarsson’s dream had always been to play in the NHL, he just never imagined he’d land a contract with the Railers. Who would have thought that fate would put him on the same team as Stanislav Lyamin; the man whose heart he’d callously broken?


Secrets and lies had defined their summer relationship, and the choice that Erik made to end it all haunts him still. In the middle of a messy divorce and with a baby in tow, Erik finds himself back in Stan’s life. Now all he has to do is be the best dad he can be, prove to the team that he deserves the chance to stay on the roster and try his hardest to get Stan to forgive him.

Is it possible to persuade a man who hates you to give love a second chance?

I’ve been waiting for Stan’s story ever since being introduced to the goalie in the Harrisburg Railers series.  With his staunch Russian soul and broken English, Stan quickly won my heart and those of a multitude of readers.  We wanted his story and his HEA.  Now we have it in  Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey. Should have known it would be a heartbreaker.

Turns out Stan has a secret love that went badly and ex shows up as a player brought up from their farm team to join the line. All the heartache and betrayal made fresh daily.  I love that Scott and Locey finally give us a window into this complicated man who misses his family, his mother and sister back in Russia, that he’s been creating a home for in Harrisburg.  Given his pov, we see his relative isolation (courtesy of his language barrier), his love for his team, and the crushing pain Erik’s handling of their affair has dealt him.  It is a visceral hurt for us all, due in part to the authors vivid and emotional descriptions that bring us deeply into Stan’s life.

Erik’s perspective also become’s a necessary part of their story.  We need to see what drove his decision, his interaction with his son, everything in order to connect with the man that hurt Stan.  Twining the two shared men’s stories strengthens our hopes and resolve to see them together.  You can see how clearly Erik needs not only Stan but the rest of the team for support, emotional and otherwise.

I loved watching the team meld together.  Locey is such an excellent sports writer.  Her scenes of the team together visually on ice, lining up as a team, mentally or figuratively, work to bring this novel alive.  So too the characters as breathing hockey players.  I

One element I very much appreciated was the development of the mother’s character.  There is no lop-sided villainess here but an individual not prepared to be a mother.  This is a thoughtful portrayal, realistic and believable.  I enjoy the hockey scenes as much as the romance….almost….lol.

There is a wonderful epilogue and a setup for the next story.  Honestly, this is one of my favorite series, full of complex men, with each relationship far different from the next.  I couldn’t recommend it more.  That includes Poke Check.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell .  Not my favorite cover.  Neither is my idea of the characters.  I mean have you seen Alex Ovechkin, the great 8, or any other of the Russian players?No match, not even close to the all American looking guy on the cover.

Buy Links:  AmazonUniversal Buy Links

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 178 pages
Published February 11th 2018 by Love Lane Books Ltd
ASINB079RJCGJK
SeriesHarrisburg Railers #4

Book #1 – Changing Lines

Book #2 – First Season

Book #3 – Deep Edge

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : Seth and Casey by RJ Scott

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story features an established couple who have been married for five years—Seth, a firefighter, and Casey, a teacher in a small Vermont town. 

Seth was injured six months ago when a building collapsed on him as he was trying to rescue a young mother.  Trapped there for hours, he watched all the victims in the room with him die, one by one, until he lost consciousness.  Now, he’s struggling to come to terms with his injuries—injuries that not only left him scarred with pins in his thigh and groin area, but impotent, full of anger, and possibly with so much physical and emotional damage that he’ll never return to the career he’s wanted all his life.

Casey is done.  He’s been loving and supportive, has tried gentle urging to get Seth to face his fears and see the department-recommended counselor, and has tried tough love. Nothing works, and as Seth lashes out at him and Casey reacts in fear, Casey knows he has to back away for a while so they can each get a better perspective.

Contrary to Casey’s hopes, however, instead of reassessing their situation and drawing them closer together, Seth reverts to his crutch—alcohol.   And as the time approaches for Casey’s class trip, which Seth promised to attend, Casey realizes he’s taking the ten kids alone, making him feel like it’s the last straw.

This story was a study in the emotional havoc that can occur to someone who has undergone trauma, and the resulting collateral damage that can result to those who love them.  I appreciate the author’s gentle and thorough handling of the subject.  I also really liked both characters—even Seth, whose behavior was quite unlikeable.  I also liked the fact that the author didn’t give them an easy fix. Both men had issues to work through and they were given the time and circumstances to do so. Granted, they had a boost from a snowstorm that stranded Casey and those ten kids and a rescue by a crazy firefighter who should not have risked his own life yet again, but did.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable story, quite short, but packs a lot of punch.  If you like emotional turmoil, hurt-comfort, established couples, and stories with a happy ending, I highly recommend this one.

~~~~

Cover by Meredith Russell features a firefighter in gear, set against the background of a cabin being bombarded by falling snow—perfect for the content of this book. 

Sales Links:   Amazon |  books2read.com/SethCaseyRJ-

Book Details:

**This is the re-edited version of Seth and Casey, and includes 9,000 extra words and a new cover**

ebook, Second
Published February 7th 2018 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published February 6th 2015)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://rjscott.co.uk/

A MelanieM Review: Love Happens Anyway by RJ Scott

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Hiring a boyfriend for Christmas; what can go wrong?

Derek is facing yet another Christmas where his life feels out of control. He has a new career that doesn’t feel like his, and parents who would just love to see him settled down. All he needs is a temporary buffer for the parties he has to attend, and for his parents to leave him alone. Enter, Luke.

Luke is twenty-thousand dollars short for the renovations on Halligans; his family’s bar in New York’s Financial District. A favor for a buddy has him agreeing to play the part of boyfriend to a guy with more money than sense.

But when the spirit of Christmas works its magic on the two men, and they begin to fall for each other, Derek runs scared, and Luke needs space.

It doesn’t matter what obstacles you throw in the way of love, or how much you run in the other direction, because, when you’re least expecting it, whether you want it or not, love happens anyway.

Love Happens Anyway is RJ Scott’s holiday take on that familiar romantic storyline whereas the romantic heroine or hero in our case has been hounded by family and friends for  weeks/months/years/an ungodly amount of time to bring a boyfriend home to the family, makes one up and then for whatever reason has to produce one just in time for a big family event or the family  holidays celebrations.

The Hallmark Channel would go broke if we took this staple of a theme out of their  rotation.

Derek has done his story up right.  It’s so detailed that he needs a notebook to keep all the make-believe elements straight, including all the names of the kittens his firefighter boyfriend rescued and who he gave them to.  Omg!  Yes, the cuteness aspect here is lovely! So the man he needs has to meet his exact qualifications.  As it so happens, one does.

Luke is out of a job (the why’s on this is nice twist in the story), and in deep need of money. I’ll save you on the hows and whys he ends up as Derek’s temporary boyfriend.  That’s the only part that seemed sort of a stretch here.  Everything else? Amazing and nothing I’ll spoil.  It has to do with Luke’s background and a part of NYC’s history.  With Luke’s family and background folded into what starts off as a familiar romantic storyline, RJ Scott deepens it, adding touch of poignancy and reality to a lovely heartwarming romance.  I loved the couple and the family and friends that surrounded them.

The holidays are a wonderful time to curl up in your favorite spot and read some wonderful holiday  romances.  Be sure to put Love Happens Anyway by RJ Scott on your list to read this holiday season.

Cover art is absolutely adorable.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

110 pages
Published December 2nd 2017
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers #3) by RJ Scott & VL Locey

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

One man’s passion, another man’s lies. Can love fix even the darkest of hearts.

Trent Hanson is a figure skating phenom adored by millions around the world. His whole life has been dedicated to the sport he loves even when the sport – and his own family – have turned against him. From the playground to the Olympics to his parent’s living room, Trent has fought against bullies and homophobes to be the out and proud gay man he is. But the constant fighting has left Trent tired, lonely, and skittish. All those fears will have to be shelved though when he’s hired to spend the summer working with the Harrisburg Railers ice hockey team. Who would have guessed that the man fate has decided to pair him off with is Dieter Lehmann, all-around sex god and a man who seems to have everything to prove and doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants.

Dieter has spent too many years languishing in the minors and a secret addiction to prescription painkillers means his career is in a downward spiral. His ex is blackmailing him and he’s close to walking away from it all. But when he’s called up in the run for the Stanley Cup to cover injuries he has a taste of what it’s like playing in the NHL and he realizes that a place on the Railers roster is what he wants more than anything. More than listening to his heart, and even more than caring for the infuriating figure skater who gets under his skin. When he crosses the line to get what he wants, he knows he has lost his way. He has to change, but is it too late for both his career and any chance he might have at love?

I’ve fallen in love with this series about the Harrisburg Railers hockey players and the men they love. It has built out from the core couple upcoming hockey star, Tennant Rowe of the famed Rowe Brothers and Coach Jared Madsen (Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers #1).  Their coming out and romance launched the team into LGBT acceptance and brought in Layton Foxx, the professional to help the Railers with the couple’s coming out to the public and the NHL.  He also found romance within the team, although that’s still a secret (First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2).

And with each story, the characters background has become a little more complicated, and perhaps even layered over with tones of isolation, denial, and abuse. Never does that come more abundantly clear than with Dieter Lehmann, a complex hockey player who’s looking at his last chance  to be the man and player he wants…if he just doesn’t screw it up as he has in the past.  Dieter has been on the edge of our consciousnesses for the last two stories, a vivid irritant of a man who had to come up to be seen.  What a story RJ Scott and VL Locey has for him.

It includes flamboyant, smokey eyed Trent Hanson, a figure skater with his own huge demons to fight.  A tiny powerhouse come to film a reality series amongst the “hockey apes” as he calls them.  Loaded with preconceptions left over from an awful highschool loaded with jocks who bullied him mercilessly, the authors do a beautiful job, first by making this man real and authentic with his story, skating history, and ethnicity (love his grandmother the snippy pumpkin).

So while you could think this is just an opposites attract story, it also includes much  deeper, more serious  layers that speak to addictions, recovery, and therapy.  And does so in a realistic and even gritty manner at times.  For tackling all that, plus the romance, and the continuing overall series arc and pulling them off to a grand effect? Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers #3) by RJ Scott & VL Locey is a story that’s close to perfect.  Truly with each story this series just keeps getting better and better.  I can’t wait for Poke Check (Stan’s story), to arrive.  

If you love contemporary romance, check out RJ Scott and VL Locey’s Harrisburg Railer’s series.  The writing is great, you’ll love the characters and the plots and there’s more stories to come!  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art by Meredith Russell. Unfortunately not a fan of this cover.  That’s definitely not my idea of Trent Hanson.  Looks like he has two black  eyes instead of the perfectly applied eyeliner he’s known for.  Beautiful and delicate?  Uh no.

Sales Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | KOBO | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 181 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Love Lane Books Ltd