A MelanieM Review: A Miracle for Markie by Lynn Lorenz

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Rating: 5 stars for the contemporary story, 1 star for the supernatural story.  Overall rating: 3 stars out of 5

 

Seven-year-old Markie is determined to shine this Christmas. He’s decided his light can’t be hidden any longer, but not everyone in his life is supportive.

This Christmas, he’s looking for a miracle. Maybe if the family’s Nativity can host a miracle, then it might spill over onto him and his family.

For me, A Miracle for Markie by Lynn Lorenz is absolutely two short stories, one of which is unnecessary and in a Twilight Zone sort of way, will forever be that question mark dangling around narratively speaking.  The other?  An amazingly beautiful story about love and acceptance.

Why, oh why, I lament, did someone not pull them apart or say, hey, let’s just concentrate on that treasure of a child, Markie?

Because that’s where all of this story belongs.  On a broken family at Christmas time, a genderfluid child at  the heart of the shattered mess of a family   because his father couldn’t accept his child and the changes Markie was going through.  Lorenz brings Markie delightfully to life, we feel the joy in finding and buying “the one” dress for Christmas, the fear and doubt instilled by the father due to past arguments and loud disapproval.  And we get the fiercely loyal and protective mother and sister, who are loving and supportive of Markie while dealing with their own anger and pain.

This story?  Beautiful, heartwarming, and  all kinds of perfect.  Just like Markie.  Lynn Lorenz can write kids that melt your heart and this one is  no exception.  Love this whole part of this short story.

Ok, then on to the weirdness.

So there’s this Nativity that Markie likes to play with, and Markie makes up this story about a wise man in love with the shepherd, gives them names and, boom, in a Christmas Miracle, they come alive.  But only at night.  We see and hear them so they become real to the readers as well.  And of course they move around the Nativity, because , hey, real now.  When found in different places, who gets blamed and called a liar?  Markie, which I hated.  That’s never cleared up.  Because it’s never shown that Markie brought them to life, while showing the reader that he did.

It gets worse.  We know that they are alive.  No one else does.  And we know nothing else about that.  Nothing about a time frame etc.   Just that they are alive.   Guess what happens to Nativity scenes after Christmas is over?  Yep.  But they are alive….no matter here come the boxes….

Is that creepy music I hear start to play as the lid comes down and the screams start?  Why is this even part of the story?  Or why didn’t the author do a better job is explaining what does happen to the little alive people?   Unreal.  For me they keep waking up in a box in the dark for a year til next Christmas.  Talk about your nightmares.

This was so unnecessary next to Markie’s story that glowed.  I love Markie but guess what part of the story I remember. Yep. That box and the little shepherd and his boyfriend the wise man.

So if you want to skip over small chapters about Nativity scenes and keep just to Markie, then yes, I recommend this.  But in no way, should you read the entire book.  Not unless you have a really warped sense of humor.  Then be my guest.

Cover art: Kris Jacen. Lovely job of conveying the warmth and glow of the holidays.

Sales Links: MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 65 pages
Published December 28th 2018 by MLR Press
ISBN13 9781641222198
Edition Language English

January 2014 Summary of Books Reviewed

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Winter trees longs

The new years has started with an explosion of wonderful books and new authors for me.  SE Jakes and two of her marvelous series dropped into my hands and heart so I will be passing those recommendations on to you.  SA McAuley released a new contemporary fiction novel, Treadmarks and Trademarks, the start of a new series.  Ditto Susan Laine with her Sparks & Drops.  LA Witt inspired with her gender shifter novel Static, a must read for all.  Shira Anthony’s Symphony In Blue brought her Blue Notes characters together for a series holiday story, perfect reading for all lovers of romance and music.  Horror, fantasy and comedy are all represented here as well as a great non fiction tale by Joel Derfner, Lawfully Wedded Husband:How My Gay Marriage Will Save The American Family, a must read.

So many great books, see what stories you have missed, and make a list.  And don’t forget to check out the best book covers of the month at the end.
*Key:Winter_2
S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
HR-horror
N-Nonfiction
YA-young adult

Rating Scale: 1 to 5, 5 stars is outstanding
5 Star Rating:

Catch A Ghost by SE Jakes C, S
Long Time Gone by SE Jakes C, S
Static by LA Witt, SF
Symphony In Blue by Shira Anthony, C, S
The Engineered Throne by Megan Derr, F
The Fall by Kate Sherwood C. S

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Small Miracle Happened by Mari Donne, (4.5 stars) C, holiday
Dirty Deeds by SE Jakes (4.75 stars) C, S
Home for the Hollandaise by BA Tortuga,Julia Talbot *4.5 stars) C
Horsing Around by Torquere Authors, (4.5 stars) A, C
In Discretion by Reesa Herberth (4.5 stars), SF
Lawfully Wedded Husband by Joel Derfner (4.75 stars) N
Refined Instincts by SJ Frost, (4 stars) SP, S
Serenading Stanley by John Inman (4.5 stars), C
Sparks & Drops by Susan Laine (4.5 stars), P, S
Texas Christmas by R.J. Scott (4.75 stars), C, S
The Dreamer by M. King (4 stars), HR
The Lightning Moon by Sylvia A. Winters (4.75 stars) SP
Tread Marks & Trademarks by S.A. McAuley (4.5 stars) C, S

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Ashland by Lynn Lorenz (3.5 stars) SP, S
The Actor and the Thief by Edward Kendrick (3.75 stars) C, S
Tor by Lynn Lorenz (3.5 stars), SP, S

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

Dime Novel by Dale Chase (2.75 stars) H

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:  None

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Best Book Covers of January 2014

This month includes just an overall gold star to LC Chase whose great covers include the Hell or High Water series and Dirty Deeds.

InDiscretion_500x750Mindscape_500x750Sparks & Drops cover

Tread Marks and Trademarks cover

Static coverCatch a Ghost cover

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In Discretion by Reesa Herberth, Artist Simone’
Mindscape by Tal Valante, Artist LC Chase, who is having an incredible year
Sparks & Drops by Susan Laine, Artist Brooke Albrecht
Static by LA Witt, Artist LC Chase.  A Stunner with it’s Shifting Gender Person
Tread Marks & Trademarks by S.A. McAuley, Wilde City Press, no artist credited

Review: Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2) by Lynn Lorenz

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Ashland WWF 2For years Dan Stoltz has dreamed of owning his own werewolf fighter.  He apprenticed with the well-known trainer and friend, Murphy, and now he is ready to make his first purchase.  At the auctions, Murphy points out a slave that he thinks would make a good fighter, one being sold because his owner is broke and can’t pay his back taxes.  Dan is wavering,as he has decided upon an Asian were. Then the slave raises his head and looks into Dan’s eyes.  With that one gaze, Dan is lost and determined to have Ashland at any cost.

Ashland has known nothing but abuse at the hands of his former owner, Durio.  Starved, sexually abused, kept weak for his owner’s amusement, now Ashland is for sale again and fears the new master who buys him. He sees Dan Stolz watching him on the auction block. When Dan wins the bidding war and buys him, Ashland finds that his life has changed for the better. With good food, rest, and training, Ashland thrives, becoming a skilled sparing partner.  And something more happens. Dan and Ashland are attracted to each other, lust and something more threatening the bonds being built between master and slave.

Ashland is the second installment in the WereWolf Fight League series and the main characters make this a very different book from Tor, the first in the series.  In the first book, the relationships are between slaves, the Owner/Master Marrack is a secondary character.  In Ashland, the relationship starts with the characters occupying two different strata in society.   Dan Stolz, Murphy and Ashland’s former owner Durio are free man, Masters in every sense of the word.  Lorenz’ universe seems to mirror ours here, at least as far as economics, as each man above has a slightly different financial reality.  Murphy is doing well as a seasoned successful trainer.  Dan is the apprentice who is ready to branch out on his own, lower middle case on the rise.  And then there is Durio, bankrupt and unable to pay his taxes, someone on the way down and hopefully out.

Next are the slaves, human and were.  Some fighters are breeders and are intact.  Others like Ashland have been “snipped”, they can function but not reproduce, an almost gelding as it were.  There are sex slaves of both genders, and instead of prison, those free men who have committed crimes against the government or society pay by becoming slaves themselves, condemned to perform the worst tasks society can give them (getting rid of the dead and cleaning up the streets).  Owners have total control, including rape, over their slaves, although change is coming via were and slave right activists.

A Master/slave relationship is by  definition an unequal relationship as the Master has total power over the slave.  So I was expecting to see something of that  reflected back in the story. And outside the brief mention of Durio’s actions towards Ashland, I didn’t see that. In fact I found this owner/slave dynamic  missing in this slave/owner relationship story.  Almost from the first, Dan is treating Ashland less like a slave and more like a person he wants to get to know.  Yes, Dan is a new owner, one of the people who believe in humane treatment of slaves, but still I found his attitude and behavior towards Ashland anything but masterful.

I have to admit I didn’t mind that this aspect was missing from the story (I actually preferred it this way) but just found it a bit odd. Their love for each others develops at the same pace as Ashland’s training, with the traumatized Ashland wanting Dan’s affections to Dan needing Ashland yet not wanting to abuse Ashland’s trust.  Apparently men don’t communicate very well in alternate worlds either.

New characters are introduced, another Master/slave/slave grouping, that I expect to appear in the third book.  I liked this trio.  They have real possibilities as men who respect each other within the limitations of their society.  I think my problem here is that the inequality within Dan and Ashland’s relationship continues even when Dan professes his love for Ashland.  Dan calls him “baby” which is accurate given his inability to read or navigate in Dan’s world.  Ashland remains emotionally unprepared for the status Dan is laying on him.  At least that is the way it seems to me.

There is a measure of suspense with regard to Ashland’s former owner trying to reclaim his slave.  The resolution of this plot thread is so pat that it felt perfunctory.  Wrapped up all too quickly, with many issues left unanswered, I found myself wishing that Lorenz had added at least a chapter or two of the “behind the scenes” mechanisms that made the ending possible.  I found myself liking this story marginally less than Tor perhaps because of the difference in relationship as well as the ending.  I think that the people who liked Tor will find themselves divided over this story.  And perhaps those that didn’t care for Tor will love the dynamics in play here. Either way Lynn Lorenz’s wonderful, heartfelt characters make this a werewolf story to add to your collection.

Stories in the WereWolf Fight League series include:

Tor (WereWolf Fight League #1)
Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2), in many ways a prequel to Tor

No Publishers warnings accompany this story, unlike Tor, the first in the series.

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 151 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Loose Id (first published November 4th 2013)
ISBN13 9781623005528
edition language English

Review: Tor (WereWolf Fight League #1) by Lynn Lorenz

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Tor WWF coverSlave and WWF fighter, Tor is a werewolf whose life has just shattered in the arena.  His mate and love, Jin, has just killed by his opponent in the arena, a circumstance that shouldn’t have happened and is forbidden by Coliseum laws.  Injured by the berserker wolf who killed Jin, Tor wants to die but his Master Marrack has other plans.

Marrack is broke and needs Tor to fight again so he buys a young sex slave to replace Jin.  Sky is a virgin and beautiful.  He is also a sex slave.  When Marrack purchases him, he promises Sky his freedom if he can get Tor to fight again in the arena (all without Tor’s knowledge of course).  The last thing Tor wants is another mate who might be lost to him through fighting.  Who will win out with all that’s at stake?  Will Tor find love with Sky only to lose him to freedom or worse?

I have to admit I approached this story with some trepidation.  I am a fan of Lynn Lorenz. Her Rougaroux Bayou werewolves and her New Orleans stories are always found on my Must Read lists of recommendations.  I normally shy away from fiction with a slave element, especially those with scenes of rape. But a series with werewolves fighting in a sort of gladiator werewolf fight league caught my interest and I just had to know how this author handled such a storyline.

Tor, the first in the series, left me with mixed opinions.  I thought the idea of using the mixed martial arts fighting leagues in a werewolf story intriguing, especially if the setting included a Coliseum.  Ancient Rome has always been a fount of inspiration for authors and using it as a basis for her world building works really well here.  Other creative additions to her WWF series is the PETA modeled Werewolf Rights group  fighting to outlaw slavery and the WWF.   This is such an imaginative use of an animal rights organization when applied to werewolves that I am surprised that other authors have not thought of this (and if someone has please let me know).   I only wish that this element had a larger part to play in this story.  When the issues of abuse at the hands of their Masters, or being raised in substandard kennels is mentioned, it would have added another interesting layer to see this institutionalized combat slavery from outside the societal thinking on the subject.  I can only hope that this aspect might be enlarged in the stories to come later in the series.

Lynn Lorenz has added several new twists to the ever enlarging werewolf lore.  In this series, the werewolves do not mate for life.  They are offered sex slaves (not weres) as mates which then can be taken away if the fighters lose in the arena, the winner takes the other wolf’s mate to do with as they please.  The prettier the mate, the more intense the fight, although never to the death as that would mean a loss of income property and revenue to their masters.   Rarely have I read a wolf shifter story that changes out mates as often as occurs here although Lorenz supplies a good foundation for that. Bonds can be formed between Master and slave, although not considered a mate bond (illegal apparently).   I did wish for a little more background information on the society and universe the humans and weres inhabit, but again that might be supplied as the series builds.

The characters of Tor and Sky are given enough layers to make them interesting and their relationship viable.  But the biggest obstacle to that connection is one that Lorenz made herself.  The beginning of the story starts in the arena, in the middle of a fight between Tor and the berserk werewolf Cosack with Jin caught in the middle.  It’s brutal and it contains the scene that the publisher issued the warning about.  And even with all that, the character of  Jin is a charismatic and riveting one.  He is also referred to throughout the story and innocent Sky gets lost in the comparison.  I liked Sky and thought the background Lorenz provided made him someone the reader could connect to but I never quite bought the Tor/Sky love and the story suffered because of that lack of connection to the romance.

The initial fight scenes that carry the publisher’s warning can be scanned if this aspect is offensive without harming the rest of the story.  In fact, without that connection to Jin, it might work better for some readers.  The rest of the story can be read free of any sort of anxiety over the characters and their love affair.  The two other interesting characters in this story, Dan Stoltz and Ashland, are given the next installment in the series.  I liked these two and can’t wait to read their story.

Would I recommend Tor? Yes with some hesitation.  If you can’t resist a wolf shifter story like me, grab this up.  It has some great new twists to add to werewolf fiction lore.  If you love Lynn Lorenz like I do, grab it up as well.  I have never been able to pass her books by.  This is just the first in the series and it has so many terrific aspects that can be enlarged with each new story.  I will let the rest of you decide on the romance central to Tor as to whether you connected to the characters or not.  And now on to Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2).

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM them and elements, exhibitionism, master/slave, violence (including rape).

Readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse may find elements of this story disturbing

WereWolf Fight League Series:

Tor (WereWolf Fight League #1)
Ashland (WereWolf Fight League #2)

Cover by artist Mina Carter is a wow.  I love that torso with the WWF brand on the chest.  Sexy, hot and relevant to the story.

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages
Published April 2nd 2012 by Loose Id
ISBN13 9781611188110
edition language English
series WereWolf Fight League

Mid January Blahs and The Week Ahead in Reviews

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Winter trees longs

Normally I love Winter.  I love the contrast of the bare limbs of the deciduous trees and the lush fullness of the evergreens, the sounds of foxes crying for mates, the owls hooting in the night and the crystal clear night sky with some of the most beautiful and recognizable constellations in the Northern hemisphere.  Orion rises high, glowing bright with its two first magnitude stars, one of easiest of the constellations to learn.

But this year its different. It’s mid January and already I can’t wait for the month and indeed winter to be over.  Winter has not even been that bad here in the DC Metro area.  So many other regions have had it so much worse this season that to complain about what little harsh weather we have had seems like whining.  But these last few months have been filled full of stress and anxiety over health issues, mine and others, that I am looking forward to Spring.

I can’t wait for the new buds, returning warm weather and longer days that herald the return of the season of renewal and new beginnings.  My gardens start to come alive, the birds are singing for mates and territory as nest building begins.  Winston and I can once again count on our daily walks around the neighborhood.  Ice, wind, and the cold keep me inside for a number of reasons and Winston stays with me in total agreement.

When the weather is agreeable out we go. He loves his walks as much as I do, actually more.  His steps are jaunty as we step out the door, his head on a swivel and that marvelous natural tail is on a constant wag.    I have never had a terrier before with a natural tail as other my rescues, Kirby and Willow included,  came with the typical terrier docked tail, one that comes with the birth of the terrier breeds.  A docked tail that was used to pull the dogs out of the holes and places where they had run their prey to ground.

Now those  little tails can wag, don’t get me wrong because they can wag up a storm.  But Winston’s ?  When a rabbit is spotted, he is in ecstasy and around and around it goes until it starts to resemble a helicopter ready to lift off.  A most amazing sight, one guaranteed to lift one’s spirits and brighten the day in an instant.  This spring will be our first Spring together.  I can’t wait to see his reactions to our first walks into a new season and all that it brings.  Come on, Spring!

Now here are the books to be reviewed this week:

Monday, Jan. 13:     Horsing Around Anthology

Tuesday, Jan. 14:     Tread Marks and Trademarks by S.A. McAuley

Wed., Jan. 15:            The Lightning Moon by Silvia A. Winters

Thurs, Jan. 16:          Tor (WWF #1) by Lynn Lorenz

Friday, Jan. 17:          Ashland (WWF#2) by Lynn Lorenz

Sat., Jan. 18:               The Actor and the Thief by Edward Kendricks

September 2013 Summary of Reviews

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September and Fall

September 2013 Book Review Summary

What a wonderful month it was for books and reviews!  Most of the books I read fell into the 5 and 4 star category, a few into the  3 star and none below that.  Series predominated the ratings this time.  Most notably the series offerings from the Pulp Friction authors. There 3d-person-sit-pile-books-reading-book-26141531were new books in well established series such as Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series as well as followup stories and new series  from such talented authors such as Kendall McKenna (The Tameness of the Wolf series) and Aleksandr Voinov (Memory of Scorpions series).

Other new series includes Poppy Dennison’s Pack Partners , Cat Grant’s Bannon’s Gym) and Harper Kingsley’s Heroes and Villains series too.  My cup (and yours) runneth over with series, all promising more great stories featuring characters we have come to love. And believe it or not, October is starting the same way!  What a fall!

So grab a pen or notebook and jot down those books and authors you may have missed the first time around.  I have linked my review to each one listed.  Happy Reading!

5 Star Rating:

Crucify (Triple Threat #4) by L.E. Harner
Defiance (Triple Threat #3) by L.E. Harner
Re-entry Burn (Superpowered Love #5) by Katey Hawthorne (supernatural)
Retribution (Triple Threat #2) by L.E. Harner (contemporary)
Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1) by Aleksandr Voinov (fantasy)
Strength of the Wolf (The Tameness of the Wolf #2) by Kendall McKenna

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Accidental Alpha (Pack Partners #1) by Poppy Dennison (4.5 stars)(supernatural)
Black Dog (Bannon’s Gym #1) by Cat Grant (4.5 stars)(contemporary)
Blessed Curses by Madeleine Ribbon (4 stars) (fantasy)
City Knight (City Knight #1) by T.A. Webb (4 stars out of 5)(contemporary fiction)
Heroes and Villains (Heroes and Villains #1) by Harper Kingsley (4 stars)(supernatural)
Sonata by A.F. Henley (4.5 stars out of 5)(contemporary fiction)
Summer Lovin’ Anthology (4.75 stars out of 5) (contemporary)
The Crimson Outlaw by Alex Beecroft (4 stars)(historical)
Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1) by L.E. Harner (4.5 stars)(contemporary)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Coliseum Square by Lynn Lorenz (3.75 stars)(historical)
Roughstock: Blind Ride, Season One by BA Tortuga (3 stars) (contemporary)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating: none

1 to 1.75 Star Rating: none

Review: Coliseum Square by Lynn Lorenz

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Coliseum Square coverMark Madison is running away from his past as fast as he can.  Leaving behind him death and the threat of incarceration, Mark finds himself in New Orleans, circa 1886.  It is the start of a new life under a new name.  Mark has arrived to take the job of tutor to the son of a local wealthy widower, Royal Du Cote.  But the situation Mark finds himself in is anything but normal.

The boy, Luc, is mute and frightened of his father.  He hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother two years ago.  And his father, Royal Du Cote?  Handsome, wealthy,seemingly haunted by his wife’s death while giving Mark looks that make him shake with desire.  Mark comes to care for Luc and promises himself that he will find a way to free Luc of his terrors so he can speak once more.  But what part does Royal play in Luc’s affliction?  Could Royal be part of the problem? The house and household is full of secrets and Mark needs to find the keys.  But will the truth free all involved or will Mark and Royal see the demise of all their hopes and dreams once and for all.

The words New Orleans and Lynn Lorenz go together like chocolate and caramel, a perfect blend.  It is clear from her stories, located in that fabled city, that she loves and understands the peculiar nature of the place and its magnetic pull on people world wide.  Say the name New Orleans and it immediately conjures up romance, and lust , sultry nights full of indolence and the pervasive aroma of the lake itself.  A place where all races and backgrounds combine, independent of laws and sometimes morality.  I love the way she writes about New Orleans, her love and knowledge clearly showing in all her descriptions. That is equally true whether we are taking about the present or New Orleans of 1886, the time of Coliseum Square.

Here is Mark pulling into the New Orleans harbor on one of  the river’s paddleboat:

The boat veered toward the levee, as another string of port buildings appeared just past the Place d’Arms, the old square. The paddlewheel slowed, the slapping of the boards against the water became fewer and then it stopped.

We floated. Silent.

We all held our breaths as the great boat edged closer. On the wharf, men ran back and forth, shadows darting in and out of the gaslights. The steam engines bellowed, the paddle started again, this time in the opposite direction, and the boat shifted closer to the dock.

Below us, on the bottom level, our own men rushed, gathering and untying huge ropes, shouting commands and aye-ayes.

“Hold on!” one of them shouted.

I grabbed for the railing and braced myself. The boat shivered, halted, and with a final shift, hit the wharf, jerking us all nearly off our feet. A few of the ladies screamed, the children hooted, the men remained stoic, as if they did this every day of their lives.

Above us, another blast from the horn, signaled our arrival.

I leaned over the edge and watched the men below toss the ropes across the narrow gap to the men on the dock, watched them tie us off, backs and arms and leg muscles straining as they wrapped the ropes around huge mooring posts, securing the paddle wheeler to the dock.

The wheel stopped. We had arrived.

You can almost feel the boat “shiver” as it floats into place against the pier and the excitement of the people on board.  From there, she takes Mark through the streets on horse drawn carriages, smells of the water and manure rising up to mix in the already heady aroma of the city.  Lynn Lorenz clearly has also done her homework as her descriptions bring the New Orleans of old vividly to life before our eyes.

The streets’ names, set in blue-and-white tiles on the corners, were of the muses–Erato, Melpomene, Terpsichore–but when we reached Euterpe, we turned the corner and headed away from the river. A few blocks down, a modest park appeared, green lawn and stately oak trees, and we turned the corner.

“Where’s the house?” I asked.

“On the other side of the park.”

Straining to see across the expanse, through the trees and manicured shrubbery, to the collection of houses on the far side, I could only wonder which would be my new home. Each looked grander than the next, each stately, with black iron fences standing guard, lush plantings, and brick walkways.

The author beautifully draws the reader into the wealthy neighborhood and deposits us at the front door.  Up until then the book is magic itself. Then the door opens and the best and the most problematic aspects of Coliseum Square are revealed.

Lorenz has always rendered her characters in loving yet realistic detail.  They always have depth as well as a certain charm to them.  In Coliseum Square, we have not only two adults to engage our affections but a young traumatized child as well.  I adored and absolutely related to the young boy in this story.  Lynn Lorenz  makes this mute, emotionally scarred five year old so compelling, so vulnerable that his problems and recovery command most of our feelings and regard.  In addition, the author portrays the tenuous, growing relationship between Luc and Mark in authentic and revealing scenes that capture our heart each time these two appear in the story.   I think I loved this section of the book most of all.  It feels real, and it is certainly moving.

Mark Madison and Royal De Cote are believable characters too.  Mark especially as a young man fleeing the consequences of his sexuality, and hoping to find sanctuary and perhaps even a home in New Orleans.  His fears as well as his youth translate well here.  Considering the fact that you could be jailed if not hung for being a sodomite in the 1880’s, then Mark’s fear for his safety and tendency to flee at the first sign of discord is understandable. Royal De Cote is probably less realistic in my eyes.  But then, a wealthy man of stature in New Orleans could and most likely did behave as they wished as long as appearances were kept up. Lorenz made his anguish over his son’s behavior and situation worthy of our compassion and understanding. So, where’s the problem?

That would be the romance factor.  In a relatively short amount of time, these two men gaze longingly at each other, fall into bed and love. And they do this without really talking to each other or physically spending time with each other except at dinner.  True, two handsome gay men under the same roof during that time period might have taken advantage of the situation.  That I can see, especially if one is older and more experienced.  Put that together with proximity, and yes, I can see the instant attraction leading to a sexual encounter.  But instant love and family?  That is a much harder sell and I am not sure that Lynn Lorenz accomplished it here.  I think that had the story been extended past the 84 pages and the time the men had together lengthened into a reasonable amount of time, then I think I could have bought into their gothic romance more readily than I did.

That aside, I still loved so many aspects of this story that it almost  garnered a 4 star rating, from the historical descriptions that vividly brought 1886 New Orleans to life to the traumatized little boy who captured my affections.  For those elements alone, I recommend this story to you.

Cover Art © 2013 Trace Edward Zaber unfortunately makes use of a model who has been used to excess.  He has been on so many covers that Chris at Stumbling Over Chaos featured him in her Misadventures in Stock Photography.  With New Orleans as a backdrop, surely the design could have been more pertinent in detail.

Book Details:

ebook, 84 pages
Published July 21st 2013 by Amber Allure
ISBN13 9781611244571
edition language English
other editions

It’s All In The Writing, Folks and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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To prepare for my time at GRL in Atlanta in October, I am trying to get ahead in my reviews for September and October.  And that means reading tons of books and of course writing about them.  And books read in volume will highlight the most common flaws I am seeing across the boards from person reading stacks of booksauthors seasoned and brand new to publishing.  Surprisingly it’s not one sided.  Just yesterday I finished a book from a favorite author of mine only to get to the end and find that not only did the story not have an ending, it was missing a hugely anticipated “aha” moment.  I was astonished, and quite a bit frustrated to say the least.

I don’t know what is going on but these same issues are everywhere and I am not the only one who has noticed.  Currently I am working on my next mini rant “The Case of the Missing Aha Moment”.  It will pair up nicely with my mini rant on missing endings.  *shakes head*  Really there is no excuse.  The most immediate remedies to these issues that pop into my brain are 1) get a great editor and 2) super concrit partners or betas.  Both could and should point out issues such as these in a person’s writing.

For a humorous look  at writing do’s and mostly don’ts visit  http://tom.mcallister.ws/?p=868. It’s Tom McAllister’s 107 Ironclad Rules for Writers Who Want to Be Better at Writing.  Some I agree with and of course, some I don’t.  But they are fun, and thought provoking.  Here are the first six to give you a sample:

1. Write every day. Except on days when you don’t feel like writing that much and you don’t have anything interesting to say.

2. Never write when you’re too hot. Beads of sweat are ideas leaking from your brain.

3. Nobody really eats turnips. They are a ridiculous food. Characters cannot eat turnips.

4. Hypnosis is the writer’s greatest tool.

5. Skinny people are often the cause of conflict. Fat people are often the solution. NO MEDIUM SIZED PEOPLE.

6. If you must write about the travails of being a writer, at least give yourself a glass eye or a cyborg hand or something.

If you want to read more, check out the link above.  Next week we will talk about the new words added to the dictionary.  Srsly?

Now on to the very exciting week ahead.  Next week I start on the third series in the offerings from the Pulp Friction authors.  This is the Triple Threat series from L.E. Harner.  It’s menage, it’s kinky, and its wonderful.   And drumroll please…….Kendall McKenna is also releasing her long awaited sequel to Strength of the Pack.  It’s titled Strength of the Wolf and it releases Sept. 6th from MLR Press.  To celebrate, Scattered Thoughts is hosting a 2 part guest blog with Kendall McKenna and a two book contest for a lucky person who comments during the contest time.  Might even be another surprise giveaway too, more about that later.  So many great things to look forward to.  Mark your calendars, and check them twice.  Hope to see you all here all week long.

Monday, Sept. 2:                   Coliseum Square by Lynn Lorenz

Tuesday, Sept. 3:                   Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1) by L.E. Harner

Wed., Sept. 4:                          Contest Announcement and Dates

Thurs., Sept 5:                        Kendall McKenna’s Guest Blog – Part 1

Friday, Sept. 6:                       Strength of the Pack  by Kendall McKenna – Review (reposted)

Sat., Sept. 7:                            Kendall McKenna’s Guest Blog – Part 2
Winner of first contest announced

For those of you here in the States, have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

Bayou Loup (Rougaroux Social Club #3) by Lynn Lorenz

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Rating 4.25 stars

Bayou LoupWhen werewolf Bobby Cotteau’s wife died, two things happened.  One was that Bobby could finally start to live his life as he had always wanted to before his inner wolf chose Carol as his mate, live and love as a gay man.  The second thing that started to happen?  Bobby started to die.   Without his mate, a werewolf will slowly waste away, and the only thing that can stop it if the shifter finds another mate, a rare occurrence. But before Bobby dies, he wants to experience the life he always wanted for himself.  Not comfortable being out in St. Jerome parish where he used to be the Sheriff, Bobby heads out to neighboring towns to visit gay clubs and meet strangers for anonymous sex.

During one of his weekend stays at a Lake Charles hotel, Bobby meets Mark, a handsome man closer to Bobby’s fifty years of age and the sparks fly.  A weekend of wild sex leaves both men satiated, physically and emotionally, something that surprises them both.  Bobby leaves to return home and neither man has each others phone number or last name to their mutual regret.

Professor Mark Bradford teaches zoology at the local college, his specialty is wolves.  Due to traumatic incident from his past, Mark has made it his life mission to prove the existence of wolves in the Louisiana bayou and now he thinks he has found the location of the wolves in a place called St. Jerome.  The small parish even had a Rougaroux Social Club which put on a yearly Rugarou Festival about their swamp wolf.  Now he is off with camera and recorder in hand to get the final bit of proof he needs to make his colleagues believe in him.  Once he has done this, perhaps he can finally start his life fresh, maybe even with the man he has meet in Lake George.

Bobby has the responsibility of running their Rugarou Festival this year but all he wants to do is  find Mark. Bobby has finally realized what his emotions have been telling him, that Mark is his true mate but he doesn’t know where to find him.  Then there is a Jesus sighting in the bark of the old tree in the church parking lot, a band cancels and he has to find a replacement while hiding from the widow determined to  get Bobby to marry her.  Things are falling apart faster than Bobby can fix them, but he has no idea that the worst is yet to come.  His true mate coming to town to expose his pack.  It will take all of his years experience, all of his wiles and major mojo if Bobby can save Mark, himself, his pack and the festival.

What a wild and wonderful sexy romp this book turned out to be.  I fell in love with this series with the first book, Bayou Dreams which introduced us to St. Jerome, Sheriff Scott Dupree, his mate Ted and all the other colorful characters of the parish.  Scott was the first shifter in his conservative, Catholic pack to come out  as gay and bring in his human mate as a pack member.  Scott did it with the backing of  Bobby Cotteau, a man who is not only his mentor but has acted as his father figure since the death of his dad.  Bobby, even as a secondary character, still managed to grab my attention.  Then in the second book, Bayou ‘s End (Billy and Peter’s story), it comes out that Bobby is gay but he buried that fact about himself when he married Carol all those years ago.  That was a truly heartbreaking  and unexpected element of that book and it further endeared the character of Bobby Cotteau to all the readers.

Now Lynn Lorenz uses all her wonderful gifts of characterization and vivid portraits of the Louisiana towns and countryside to bring Bobby’s story to life in Technicolor  (google it) terms and lusty joy.  The first part of the story is consumed with bobby and Mark’s first encounter in Lake Charles. And while it might seem one continuous sexual encounter (love that shifter stamina), it really shows the slow turn around in the attitude and thoughts of both men as the weekend progresses.  As physical satisfaction evolves to an emotionally happy state of mind, Bobby and Mark start to realize that this weekend is becoming more than just a quick sexual fix and the sex changes to reflect that.  And while Bobby realizes that Mark is his true mate there is not a case of instant love going on here, just a meshing of individuals.

And as with the previous books, there are quite a few humorous elements here to offset the angst, mostly supplied by that wonderful character of Darlene Dupree, Scott’s mother and her black cat, which just might be her familiar.  She has her own peculiar way of looking at religion that Father Peder, the parish priest would not approve of or even her son, the object of several of her spells gone awry.  She cracks me up every time and as she is such a lively, fleshed out riot of a person, you can’t wait to see what escapade she will cause next.

But Bobby and Mark, especially Bobby are the reasons to read this book.  Bobby is such a wonderful character, older and  yet more vulnerable than he should be at his age, finally able to be himself for the first time in his life and yet looking at such a small time in which to experience everything he has denied himself unless a miracle happens and then it does.  I loved him.  I love St. Jerome and can’t wait to see who and what will come up next in this small bayou town.  Mama Dupree is making noise about grandchildren that should leave the reader laughing in anticipation and her son and mate quaking in their boots.  Either way, you know it will be memorable and that is why this series continues to be a must read for me. I think it will be yours too.

But start at the beginning and catch up with all the parish going ons and relationships.  Here are the books in the order they were written and need to be read to understand the characters and their relationships:

Bayou Dreams (Rougaroux Social Club #1)

Bayou’s End (Rougaroux Social Club #2)

Bayou Loup (Rougaroux Social Club #3)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside and The Week Ahead in Reviews

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Maryland has actually been feeling like winter for the past week and my body is going into shock.  Last year was Nomageddon (nothing, after Snowmaggedon) but no one really knows what will happen this year.  We really haven’t had any snow or ice and believe me, I am not complaining about that.  It’s been cold but not for very long.  In fact we are due to go back up into the 50’s in a day or so.

I look at my bird feeders and find that they are staying fairly full for longer periods of time, Ditto the suet feeders,  Even our squirrels are looking complacent as opposed to frantic for food.  But it is early yet.  February is normally our fiercest winter month here and that is still a month away.  I will let you know how it goes.

Until then, today the Redskins play the Seattle Seahawks and the area is on pins and needles.  I must go climb into my Redskin regalia and prepare to lose my voice.  So here is the week in reviews:

Monday, 1/7:                   Daddy’s Money by Alan Chin

Tuesday, 1/8:                   Bayou Loup by Lynn Lorenz

Wed., 1/9:                         Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7) by Lavinia Lewis

Thursday, 1/10:               All I Want Is You by Marguerite Labbe

Friday, 1/11:                     A Boy And His Dragon by R. Cooper

Saturday, 1/12:                 Aria (Blue Notes #3) by Shira Anthony

I will leave you with this image of the man who has made the Redskin fans smile once more and dance in the streets, RGIII!

RGIII