Where Did the Month Go? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Standard

3d-person-sit-pile-books-reading-book-26141531Where on earth did April go?  It seems like yesterday that the first of April was just approaching and now its almost over.  With the arrival of May, spring finally settles in and we can see summer edging towards us.  What a lovely time of the year!

Spring is a month rich in fertility, new growth, new beginnings are everywhere.  There’s an almost luxurious feel to this time of year.  So it seems with the books releasing as well.  What authors and stories have me over the moon?  Truth and Tenderness from Tere Michaels, the end of her Faith, Love & Devotion series, an all time favorite of mine.  I am savoring every line and paragraph not wanting it to end….it’s truly marvelous.  Joy Lynn Fielding’s Blowing Off Steam has me singing her praises and that of this incredible story too! Barb is loving The Tales of the Curious Cookbook series including Lost Along The Way by Marie Sexton!  Paul loved Amber Kell’s Unexpected Alpha, a book whose proceeds go to The Autism Society of Washington,  so check that out, including the author’s note at the end.  An Intrepid Trip To Love by Charlie Cochet brought a 5 out of 5 stars from Stella while Hoarfrost, in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series, is a favorite of Mika‘s.  If you haven’t already entered that contest, find it here, along with our author review.  Sammy is busy reading and writing as is BJ, more from them soon!  And I have the first in the Round Two stories from the Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States connected series for you this week as well.  More great books are on the horizon and we can’t wait to tell you about them.   What a great way to  end the month of April!

So stay with us all week, here is our schedule along with some favorite covers….

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Blowing Off Steam coverLost Along the Way coverUnexpected Alpha Amber kell coverFoolish Encounters cover

Sunday, April 26:

  • Where Did The Month Go? This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, April 27:

  • Where There’s Smoke by Cari Z Tour and Giveaway
  • E.E Montgomery’s ‘Just The Way You Are‘ virtual tour – contest
  • A Stella Review: Family of Lies: Sebastian by Sam Argent
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Foolish Encounters Anthology
  • A MelanieM Review: Dead Blind by Lee Brazil (PF 2015)

Tuesday, April 28:

  • A Paul B Review: A Good Deed Done by Pelaam
  • A Mika Review: Scarred Souls (Scarred Souls #1) by T.T. Kove
  • A MelanieM Review: Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding
  • Best Covers of April 2015
  • Best Books of April 2015

Wednesday, April 29:

  • Morticia Knight ‘Justice Prevails‏’ Tour and Contest
  • In the Book Spotlight: Dreams of the Forgotten by Lexi Ander (excerpt and contest)
  • Lisa Oliver’s The Biker’s Omega Tour and Giveaway
  • Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – Lost Along the Way (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Marie Sexton
  • A Mika Review: Crossed Hearts by K. Vale

Thursday, April 30:

  • Jayson James – How It Was Supposed to Be book blast and contest
  • In the Spotlight: K. Vale ‘Crossed Hearts‘ and contest
  • A Paul B Review: Unexpected Alpha by Amber Kell
  • A MelanieM Review: The Line by Angel Martinez

Friday,May 1:

  • MelanieM Review: Truth and Tenderness by Tere Michaels
  • A Stella Review: An Intrepid Trip to Love by Charlie Cochet
  • A MelanieM Review:  Emerald Keep by A Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder
  • A Mika Review: I’m The Guy You Hate by Isa K.

Saturday, May 2:

An Aurora YA Review: Once Upon a Time in America (The Knight Cycle #5) by Michael J. Bowler

Scarred Souls coverEven the Innocent coverIm The Guy You Hate cover

A Good Deed Done cover

 

 

 

Scattered Thoughts May 2013 Book Reviews

Standard

mayIt was a great month in book reviews.  While most of the book fell into the contemporary fiction category, there was a book in just about every genre.  One of my favorites this month was Fragile Bond by Rhi Etzweiler, a science fiction gem of a story from Riptide Publishing. I have also found new authors like Sue Brown and her outstanding The Sky Is Dead.  Don’t pass either of these by. And if you loved Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov, then you won’t want to miss the followup novel, City Mouse (Country Mouse #2).  I thought it was even better than its predecessor.

There are stand alone stories and new books in continuing series. This includes one series (The Night Wars) that I will be reevaluating on the basis of the third book in the series, a real stunner called The Hellfire Legacy by Missouri Dalton.  This is a terrific book and I had not rated the second book very highly.  Now I am going back in June, reading all three together and write a  review of the series in June (and probably a mea culpa or two on my part as well).

The titles are linked to my reviews.  Really, there is something for everyone here.  Here are May 2013’s book reviews in order of rating:

5 Star Rating:

City Mouse (Country Mouse #2) by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov (contemporary)
Fragile Bond by Rhi Etzweiler (Science Fiction)
The Sky Is Dead by Sue Brown (contemporary)

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:
Adapting Instincts (Instincts #4) by S.J. Frost
Bad Attitude (Bad in Baltimore #3) by K.A. Mitchell (4.25 stars) (contemporary)
Bullheaded by Catt Ford (4.25 stars) (contemporary)
Closet Capers Anthology (4.25 stars) mixture
Damned If You Do: The Complete Collection by J.L. Merrow
Leaving Home (Home #4) by TA Chase (4 stars)
Moments by R.J. Scott (4.25 stars) (contemporary)
Never A Hero (a Tucker Springs novel) by Marie Sexton (4.5 stars) (contemporary)
Night of Ceremony (Notice #4) by M. Raiya (4.5 stars) (fantasy, romance)
Noah by Ben Ryder (4 stars) (contemporary)
Shy by John Inman (4.25 stars) (contemporary)
Still by Mary Calmes (4.75 stars) (contemporary)
The Hellfire Legacy (The Night Wars #3) by Missouri Dalton (4.5 stars) (supernatural)
The Isle of…Where? by Sue Brown (4.5 stars) (contemporary)
The Unforgiving Minute by Sarah Grainger (4.75 stars) (contemporary)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:
Chateau D’Eternite by Ariel Tachna (3.75 stars) Fantasy
Fire Horse by Mickie B. Ashling (3.75 stars) (contemporary)
His Heart To Reap by Erin Lane (3 stars) (supernatural)
It Takes Practice by Willa Okati (3 stars) contemporary

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

 

Never A Hero (Tucker Springs #5) by Marie Sexton

Standard

Release Date is May 13, 2013 from Riptide Publishing.  Review reposted on May 14, 2013.

Rating: 4.5 star

Never A Hero coverOwen Meade watches from his window as the duplex next to him exchanges one renter for another looking at the men he sees carrying boxes and moving furniture.  Two are clearly a couple and the others are astonishing in their diverse physiology and tattoos.  And Owen wonders who they are and what they do, knowing the chances of finding out are slim as he never leaves his house.  Owen stutters, and years of  verbal abuse from his mother over his sexuality as well as his congenitally amputated arm have left him so traumatized socially that he confines himself to his rooms in his side of the duplex, rarely venturing out unless absolutely necessary.  Owen works at home and has his groceries delivered, making his hermit like lifestyle possible until his new neighbor changes everything.

Veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves into the downstairs duplex with his three dogs and immediately goes to meet his new neighbor. Friendly, outgoing and unflappable, Nick lets Owen know immediately that his arm doesn’t bother him as his sister has a congenitally amputated arm too. Introductions soon turn into friendship with Nick and his sister who pulls Owen into piano lessons for the both of them.  And always Owen senses that Nick is attracted to him, an attraction that Owen returns.  In fact, Owen thinks he just might be falling in love with Nick, but every time they get close physically, it is Nick who pulls away leaving Owen confused and hurt.

Nick is hiding a secret of his own and Owen must become his own hero, thwart his mother and Nick’s own fears, to save the day and his future with the man he has come to love.

What a lovely book!  Marie Sexton has provided us with many wonderful characters before but Nick Reynolds and Owen Meade are at the top of the crowd.  Owen has had a life time of parental abuse from his mother that has resulted in a stutter, lack of self confidence and a painful shyness about his truncated arm.  I have never met a character quite like Owen before . Marie Sexton has done a great job in bringing this man totally to life so that we get a glimpse of what it must feel like to be a person with disabilities, their apprehensions and difficulties in doing small things for themselves that others accomplish with ease.  The title comes from the fact that his mother refused to let him wear super hero costumes on Halloween because of his disability. And the author brings home to the reader the pain and unrelenting stress his mother’s abuse that Owen suffered from as a child and into adulthood. Owen’s endearing, easy to empathize with, and you feel angry on his behalf when his mother reenters the picture.

Nick Reynolds was also a surprise.  I never guessed at his secret and found myself as confounded as Owen was.  Here again, the author moves forward with knowledge and sensibility to defuse a delicate situation and handle this serious topic with needed sensitivity.  Plus Nick is a veterinarian, a favorite vocation of mine.  Gorgeous, caring, you just know he is the perfect match for Owen. He has his own flaws and is easy to relate to.  I loved him as well.

Another thing I have come to count on in a Marie Sexton story is the beautiful flow of her narrative.  Never dense, never jerky, the story moves forward so smoothly, so effortlessly that the chapters transition one into another without bringing the reader up short once.  She makes it look so easy that you forget how difficult it is to achieve.

As this is a Tucker Springs, Colorado book, other characters from previous stories make appearances to my total delight.  Really, I can’t get enough of this series, I hope you feel the same when you get started.   Never A Hero contains everything you need for a fabulous story, so don’t be surprised when you find yourself still awake at 2 am because you just can’t put this book down.  I wanted to don my Superman duds and head out to the Light district to find Nick and Owen, Seth, El and all the rest.  By now they feel like close friends.  So grab a few tissues, this book and curl up in anticipation as you start in on Never A Hero.  You don’t have to have read the other books in the group but it helps to identify the various characters who pop up in this story.

Tucker Springs Website

Here are the books in the order they were written:

Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1) by L.A. Witt

Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Marie Sexton

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3) by Heidi Cullinan

Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt

Never a Hero (Tucker Springs, #5) by Marie Sexton

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and the Week Ahead in Reviews

Standard

sláinte! Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  To start your St. Patrick’s Day, here is some great music from Brogan’s Bar in Ennis, Ireland to get you fired up!

Half Irish, half Scottish, I love this day and today the weather has gone along with the program and seems particularly Irish. Overcast, damp, but not too cold, perfect for marching in parades all over the nation.

I have travelled to Ireland several times and found the leaving of it always comes with a crease in my heart, as though even my cells know that we are saying farewell to home.  My first time visiting with my high school daughter was both a delightful and revelatory, her feet seeming to find paths that she should not know where there.   My nights were filled of dreams of seals and shores and music carried along the winds over gorse covered hills, studded with stone.  And on the penultimate day, Heather and I were hiking in a verdant forest, far away from any others or so we thought.  And then we heard it, or heard them more accurately.  First the sounds of a waterfall, the roar getting louder the closer we got.  But what really made that day magical was the sounds of piping coming from high overhead.  We craned our necks to see where it came from and finally we found him, standing on a rock ledge, eyes closed, bagpipes swelling as he lost himself in the music he was playing.  We listened for a while and then quietly left, rejuevenated and enriched by a magical experience shared before she left for college.  One of my finest memories.

So day I hope for the best for all of you, of laughter shared, of love found and family held close. And as this website is, mostly, devoted to books I will leave you with a quote from an Irish author:

“As a writer, I write to see. If I knew how it would end, I wouldn’t write. It’s a process of discovery.”
– Author John McGahern

Here is the week ahead in book reviews:

Monday, March 18:                An Unconventional Union by Scotty Cade

Tuesday, March 19:                 Never A Hero by Marie Sexton

Wed., March 20:                     Redemption of the Beast by Amylea Lyn

Thursday, March 21:              Family Man by Heidi Cullinan

Friday, March 22:                   Nights in Canaan by Kendall McKenna

Sat., March 23:                        Natural Predators by Neil Placky

So, that’s the week.  Have a safe and wonderful St. Patrick’s Day.  Forego the green beer, that’s gross anyway and have a Irish Manhattan, so much better!

Review of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, A Clandestine Classic by Jules Verne and Marie Sexton

Standard

Rating: 4 stars

The year is 1866, and Naturalist Dr. Pierre Arronax and his manservant Conseil board the Abraham Lincoln, a vessel whose purpose is to track down and destroy the marine monster terrorizing the oceans.  This unknown monster threatens international shipping and has sunk the ships of many nations so it is imperative that it be stopped at all costs. The nations have come together to fund the mission and now the Abraham Lincoln holds the best sailors to do the job.  But from sea to sea, after visiting multiple locations where the monster has been sited, the ship turns up nothing, boredom besets the crew and the Professor’s interests turn to Ned Land, a sexy harpooner who returns Arronax’s interest.

As the Professor and Ned engage in a tempestous affair, the Captain of the Abraham Lincoln makes one last attempt to locate the monster and succeeds beyond its wildest goals.  The mighty sea monster is sighted and the Abraham Lincoln attacks, only to be attacked by the thing in turn.  During the proceedings, Dr. Arronax is thrown overboard, followed by Conseil, and then Ned Land.  The men find themselves rescued and then imprisoned upon The Nautilus, as their “sea monster” turns out to be a submergible vessel captained by the enigmatic and dangerous Captain Nemo. As the days aboard the secret submarine turn into months, the Professor and Conseil spend their days mesmerized by the new worlds they see under the sea and the Professor and Ned spend their nights investigating their sexual pleasures.  But Ned feels that he cannot live his life forever  imprisoned and the Professor must choose trying to escape with his lover or a life spent in scientific discovery on board the Nautilus.

With Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Marie Sexton merges the classic Jules Verne novel with m/m fiction to a remarkably successful degree.  Jules Verne published his popular science fiction story in 1870 and his saga of the mysterious Captain Nemo, the submarine Nautilus and its narrator Professor Pierre Arronax became a instant  classic that continues to this day.  A layered, complex tale of scientific discoveries, amazing undersea journeys and futuristic assumptions also included the basest of human emotions such as anger, hatred and the need for revenge.  Jules Verne was ahead of his time in predicting the military use of high speed submarines.  Also forward thinking was his use of “oppressive peoples” in his story,  that Captain Nemo was so voluble in his heated arguments and discussions about the oppressors and the oppressed which is how Nemo and his crew regarded themselves was a rarity.  The original book included authentic scientific lists of flora and fauna to go with the animals seen during their voyages.  As Marie Sexton states “several places where extended monologues or lists of plant and/or animal species have been deleted from the story.”  In their place, the author establishes a romance between Professor Pierre Arronax and Ned Land, the definitely did not exist in the Jules Verne story.

I throughly enjoyed the author’s addition to this classic tale.  I loved Arronax’s love for his Ned Land.  Their sexual exploration of each other is carried out in a realistic manner, as fear of exposure to those around them would have resulted in death.  Ned’s small cabin aboard the Abraham Lincoln allows only the smallest of sexual play and their assignations are kept to the minimum which is also authentic.  But once the men have been taken onto the Nautilus, things change between them as the rules and law of Captain Nemo are very different from the nations above them. Sexton does a lovely job of mixing historical reality with Jules Verne science fiction story.  She also gives us a sexual relationship that includes a slight Bdsm bent between Pierre and Ned as their larger cabin on the Nautilus allows them greater physical freedom in their bed.  Ned is a lovely  character given the genuine feel of a man who lives his life outside, his love of the thrill of the hunt is present in all of his actions. So when Ned’s adrenaline based life style is curtailed when he is imprisoned, however nicely, on the Nautilus, we can understand his frustration at his inaction and his anger at Nemo and crew.  Pierre Arronax, again the narrator, and his manservant Conseil, are also beautifully portrayed as the excited scientists they are as each new discovery propels them into frissons of delight and wonder during the day and Pierre experiences the joys of submission at night.  Again, I just loved Marie Sexton’s romance enhanced version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

I will admit that my father gave me my first copy of this story back in grade school.  He passed on his own copy that he had gotten when he was young along with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  I was mesmerized by the many descriptions of new places and animals I had never seen.  I couldn’t get enough of the forests of kelp or the schools of marine life I had never seen or heard of. There were so many unknown animals that I had to go look up, so many places I need to find on my globe that I often felt like a voyager along with Arronax and Nemo.  But as with the original, the lush multitude of descriptions, the veritable endless lists of scientific nomenclature had me flipping past pages then as it  did now.   There is a reason that many a student turns to Cliff Notes instead of wading through the original novel, and this version suffers from the same problem.  It is simply too long.  In trying to remain faithful, it too is as long as the original version.  Jules Verne’s came in at 352 pages (approximately depending upon font size), Marie Sexton’s at 390.  And as a Naturalist as much as I love revisting the scientific terminology for various species of flora and fauna, a little of it goes a long way.  And while I delighted in the sumptuous portraits of the wonders found under the sea, after a while it became just too many to digest, too rich a banquet as it were.  For me, I had to read it over a stretch of time, pace myself so I had time to look up the places the Nautilus went and the things they saw.  And once read, I never picked it up again however much I enjoyed it.

So here’s my quibble with this Clandestine Classic, it is too true to the original.  It is very enjoyable and I give high marks to Marie Sexton for her romantic inclusion as well as the manner in which she honored the original.  That said, it is a lot to wade through.  I don’t have problems with people playing with the classics, it’s done all the time.  So if you loved the original and you love m/m romance, pick this up and prepare to enter back into Jules Verne’s universe with a twist.  If you found the original daunting,  perhaps you will give this a try in stages.  It is worth it no matter how long you take to travel 20,000 leagues under the sea with Professor Pierre Arronax, Conseil, Ned Land and Captain Nemo.

Posh Gosh over was interesting but I wish it had been more of a play on the original.

Hurricane Sandy Relief Still Needed, Books with a Bittersweet tag and the Week Ahead in Reviews

Standard

So on top of Hurricane Sandy, the nor’Easter hit the very same areas with another punch.  So I am putting out there once more the name of organizations providing assistance to those in need due to Hurricane Sandy.  Please help if you are able, even the smallest of amounts add up to someone being able to eat or have warm clothes.

American Red Cross

Ali Forney Center Housing for Homeless GLBT Youth

ASPCA

Humane Society of the United States

Now turning to books, I have some wonderful books for you this week, including the latest from Andrea Speed, Megan Derr, and Marguerite Labbe.  In particular, I wanted to talk about books labeled bittersweet.  I think most people see that tag and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction and miss out on some marvelous books.  Two in particular come to mind.  One is Rodney Ross’ The Cool Park of His Pillow.  This is absolutely one of my top books for 2012.  It does contains sadness and pain as it charts one man’s recovery from the death of his long term partner. But there is also so much joy, humor and love that it would be shameful to label it bittersweet as it is so much more than that limiting tag.  I feel the same way about Ghost in the Wind, the latest from Marguerite Labbe.  This story has a definite supernatural bent to it as it concerns the death of a man’s long term partner but in this case the man is murdered and his ghost returns to help his partner move on as well as solve a mystery.  Here the grief is palpable, the murder shocking and the suspense agonizing.  Dreamspinner Press calls it a Bittersweet Dream. Sigh.  I can almost hear the rejections on the wind.  Again, definitely not so.  Don’t miss this wonderful book either.  It’s painful, joyous, suspenseful, and full of boundless love.  I have the latest in the Infected series (darn you, Andrea Speed!!!) and a book from KA Mitchell that is not receiving the attention I think it is due.   So fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a wild ride of a week:

Monday:                       Chaos (Lost Gods #5) by Megan Derr

Tuesday:                       Ghost in the Wind by Marguerite Labbe

Wednesday:                 Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and Marie Sexton

Thursday:                     But My Boyfriend Is by KA Mitchell

Friday:                          Splintered Lies by Diane Adams and RJ Scott

Saturday:                      Bloggers Choice

So that’s the week unless something changes.  Happy reading!

Review of Second Hand (Tucker Springs #2) by Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan

Standard

Rating:    4.75 stars

Paul Hammond’s girl friend has just left him after he moved to Tucker Springs to further her art career while he put his on hold.  Now he is left living in a rental house she picked out and a front yard full of her awful oversized metal sculptures.  Paul looks around him at a house he hates but has a 3 year lease he can barely afford, a job as a receptionist for a local vet, and a engagement ring he never gave to Stacy because she moved out before he could propose.  When a flyer for a neighborhood yard contest and a $500 prize is shoved in his mailbox, Paul decides to enter and use the money to pay his bills.  But how to get the money to buy the plants for the yard? And that’s when Paul remembers meeting El Rozal at his Pawn shop when Paul was buying a necklace for Stacy.  Armed with kitchen appliances he never wanted to buy in the first place, Paul heads off to El’s shop and changes his life forever.

El Rozel’s life is stuck in one gear, that of family and work.  El deals with family matters including a mother who hoards, he does laundry with his best friend at the Laundromat on Friday’s and the rest of the time is spent at his pawn shop.  El realizes he is stuck in a pattern but doesn’t know how to change it.  Then Paul Hammond, adorable, confused, freckle-faced Paul Hammond enters his shop and his world tilts on its axis.  He knows Paul is straight because he has listened to Paul when he was buying the necklace.  But that doesn’t seem to matter, everything about Paul draws El closer.  Paul is kind, naive, generous and easily hurt.  He is also incredibly sexy even if he doesn’t know it.  El wants him in his life in any way possible.

Paul wants to come first in someone’s life, to stop being everyone’s second choice.  El knows first hand that someone else’s seconds can be the treasure another has always  wanted and Paul is that one person El has been waiting for.  Now all he has to do is persuade the man to give him the chance to change both of their lives forever.

I loved this story.  Under the definition of warmhearted in the dictionary you will find the cover of this book and deservedly so.  Take two well-known authors whose books are beloved by many, throw in Sexton and Cullinan’s talent for giving us characters who are both quirky and  unusual and we have Second Hand, a novel of two men trying to deal with life’s disappointments and finding love in unexpected  places.  I read this book twice for the good feelings and happy thoughts it left me with after putting it down.  What’s even more remarkable is that  Second Hand is an effortless read considering all the themes involved in the plot.  Tucker Springs, Colorado acts as the location for the series and it’s the perfect choice as its richness of history, Light District, and other characteristics match up brilliantly with the characters living there.

And what charming, affecting characters they are.  Paul Hammond is that one who is oblivious to the way he affects others.  He has grown up feeling less successful than his siblings, his one girlfriend has just left him for someone who has achieved more materially, and he left college without  meeting his goal of being a veterinarian. But he doesn’t see what other people do when they look at him.  Someone who is kind, cute, tenderhearted, great with animals and people alike.  Some who happens to be absolutely adorable.  Paul is so likable, so genuine that you root for him to succeed from the very first page.  El Rozel is a wonderful complementary character for Paul Hammond.  El comes from a large family who   impacts his life on a daily basis, from his sisters and their kids, to his abuela and mother with their house so stuffed full of objects that just moving down the hallway is a challenge.

El Rozel jumped from the pages of Second Hand with a clarity few characters achieve with their first impressions.  As the smoke from his cigarette rises about him, so does his view of life and its disappointments hang around him like a cloud. El watches his sister ignore his advice as she jumps from one bad relationship to the next. And he’s awful when he tries to intervene with his mother Patty’s hoarding to little effect.  El wants things to change in the lives of those he loves but feels helpless when it comes to solutions. I love how the authors give us two men stymied by life and disappointments and makes them the catalyst for change in each other’s lives.  El starts helping Paul empty his life of meaningless objects that came along with his relationship with Stacy.  Paul starts giving El the power to see changes happening in someone’s life.  Paul gives El hope that change can happen and then gives him hope that love can happen for them both.    And all of this relationship movement, all of this building of self worth is carried out realistically, with nary a wrong touch to the process or misstep in characterization.

Sexton and Cullinan also deal delicately and with sensitivity when it comes to Paul’s feelings about his sexuality.  Paul had one disastrous gay encounter in his youth that causes him to put aside his attraction towards men and concentrate on women.  That is if you can call a one woman experience a change in sexuality.  It comes across, even to Paul, as more a convenient sexuality, one more acceptable to society, than Paul having a true bisexual nature.  If Paul had truly been bisexual, Stacy ‘s attraction for him would have gone beyond representing a “normal lifestyle” as she does for him to one of being physically drawn to Stacy which he is not.  Because the one person he is truly attracted to?  That would be El in every way.  El is the person he wants to spend time with, whose Cover conversations he enjoys and is the person Paul wants to take to bed.  But it takes time for Paul to realize all this and the authors give it to him and to us.  This is not a “gay for you” story but a slow acceptance of one’s true sexuality.  Paul has to have time to look at his past history and reexamine his actions before he can accept that he wants El as much as El wants him.  The authors handle Paul emotional growth in such a beautiful, realistic manner that I wanted to start handing out gold stars right then and there.

An equally serious issue addressed here is that of hoarding.  Hoarding is a disease that affects families everywhere.  Both authors show how hoarding is a disease that hurts those affected by it on so many levels, from the day to day reality of living with gargantuan clutter to the embarrassment of not wanting to have outsiders see the living conditions at home.  Sexton and Cullinan give us the  screaming arguments of the family stressed out by their efforts to deal with the hoarder and the pain of the person in the throes of the disease.  I cannot begin to give them enough credit for the sensitive manner in which they handled this problem within the story.  Again, it was just so beautifully done.

The Tucker Springs series is interesting in itself as it is being written by different authors.  The first in the series is Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs #1) by LA Witt, which I have not read.   There is an actual website for this series TuckerSprings.com.  Find it here.  There will be more books in the series and I for one can’t wait.  Pick up Second Hand and become acquainted with a town and characters you will not soon forget.  I know I will be going back to visit there often.

What a wonderful cover.  Perfection in every way.

Available from Riptide Publishsing, Amazon, and All Romance eBooks.