A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Inside Out (a Road to Blissville story) by Aimee Nicole Walker

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This book came along at the perfect moment.  I needed to feel positive emotions, to smile, to find peace, and that’s what I got from the romance between Romeo Bradly and Julius Shepherd in Blissville.

Both men started their new jobs in the school district on the same day: Romeo as superintendent of the school district, and Julius as an advanced sciences teacher and tennis team coach.  The moment they shook hands, their spark ignited a curiosity and attraction that smoldered for months before circumstances put them in the same place at the same time again. Rome would be directing the high school play, and Jules would be composing the music.

Three very advanced and enthusiastic students had written the script over the course of a few years, one of them had composed lyrics for the musical, and the play was already approved by the school board. The story addressed bullying, homophobia, and other issues with which teens struggle in high school, and both Rome and Jules are passionate about seeing it produced.  Over the course of working together on the production, though Julius is at first reluctant to get involved with the sexy silver fox who is technically his boss, they meet for lunch and eventually date, growing closer as time goes by.

Rome is a forty-five-year-old widower whose husband passed away seven years before.  Jules is of mixed race, oldest of two boys, whose father passed suddenly eight years before, so the two have much in common over and above their interest in the students and their taste in music.  And when Jules finally lets down his reserve about dating the superintendent, they find their way to more than a simple attraction.

Those who follow my reviews know I adore May-December romance. Give me a silver fox any day, but then add in slow burn, and sweet, honest, openhearted conversation, laughter, and a love of all things music, and I’m sold.  The author’s writing and her creativity in managing the dance of love for these men was outstanding.  I loved each character individually and together.  And Julius’s mother and brother; Priscilla, Rome’s dragon secretary; Howie, his friend; and the host of other characters in this book were beautifully integrated.

The book ends with the perfect summary of their emotions: “in his eyes, I saw my future. In his smile, I rediscovered joy. In his heart, I made my home. This man turned me inside out, and I would follow him anywhere.”

I very highly recommend this and the best news is it can easily be read as a standalone.

The cover by Jay Aheer depicts two men’s hands and forearms intertwined. One is Black and the other Caucasian. It captured my attention and reflects the story beautifully.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 222 pages
Published January 14th 2019 by Chasing Rainbows Press LLC
ASINB07MTLPZZ4
Series Road to Blissville #6

Road to Blissville Series

Unscripted Love

Someone to Call My Own

Nobody’s Prince Charming

This Time Around

Smoke in the Mirror

Inside Out

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: High Test by Elizabeth Noble and Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

At times elementary, this story is loaded with trope—though in a way that’s to be expected with these Dreamspun Desires stories. Some of the writing was too unpolished and not what I expected. It’s possible though, that some of my impression of the simplistic prose is from the narrator, who told the story in a somewhat singsong voice, although thankfully, he used a different voice for each MC. The non-dialogue portions of the book sounded as if a high school kid were standing in front of the class trying to read in a way sure to please the teacher.

I liked the overall plot concept and I especially love May-December romances, though this one was a bit much—one MC was twice as old as the other. Neal Kirchner, wealthy and well-known architect meets Hayden Owens at the Owens Coffee Company shop one morning when he stops by to try a cup of their brew. He strikes up a conversation with the cute barista and from then on, coffee becomes a part of his morning, and sometimes evening, routine—especially when Hayden is working the closing shift.

He and Hayden go out together, though Hayden never lets him see his apartment and soon becomes convinced that Neal thinks his family owns the Owens coffee shops. Hayden is finishing graduate school, majoring in auto design and engineering, and he and Neal find they have a lot in common due to their technical interests. Though he tries several times to tell Neal that he’s not wealthy and is in fact a poor, struggling student, something, or someone, always interferes just when he’s ready to spill the beans.

Naturally, this causes an issue when the truth comes out, but it’s not what Hayden thinks it’s going to be and it was entertaining and interesting, even though it was a tried-and-true romance trope. I did want to smack Hayden upside the head a few times and I wanted to fast forward my audiobook each time he fell into his self-inflicted angst, but on the whole, I liked the story and the characters, and I think much of my negatives simply came from the narrator’s performance.

If you are interested in May-December romance and like the old romance tropes many of us grew up with, this one should fill the slot.

Cover art by Bree Archer depicts an older dark-skinned man in a business suit against the backdrop of a coffee shop—the perfect depiction of Neal Kirchner, the older architect who falls for the young barista.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio. Length 5:12
Published March 22nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07BFHXHHQ
Edition Language English

RELEASE BLITZ: Life Is A Stevie Wonder Song by V.L. Locey (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 87 pages
 
Cover Design: Sloan J Designs
 
Blurb
 

Authors know that their muse is a fickle creature. Best-selling spy novelist Steven Ramsey has been in a hate-hate relationship with his inspiration for months. When Steven’s publisher lays a legal ultimatum upon him, with a rapidly approaching deadline, he knows he must do something to kick-start his creativity or face the unemployment line. His daughter comes up with a possible answer: a summer camp for the creative soul. With nothing to lose, Steven packs up his laptop, phonograph, and beloved record albums and heads from Greenwich Village to the Catskill Mountains.

There, among a horde of college students attending for extra credits, is Declan Pomeroy, a photographer of fey creatures who is twenty-two years younger than Steven. The woods are a magical place, and he quickly finds himself falling under the spell of the free-spirited photographer. Confusion wars with desire as Steven succumbs to the feelings welling up inside. But, sadly, summer camp always must end. Can a man who has just found himself really leave the person that makes his heart sing?

 
Excerpt
 

I set my sights on the road. Someone called my name. I would know his singsong voice anywhere. I lifted a hand in greeting, my ugly ape feet glued to this fucking spot in the road. Declan bounded down the two stairs, racing toward me. My heart began to hammer behind my ribs. He ran across his freshly mowed lawn wearing a smile as big as the Catskills. I was not prepared for the leap he made at me. I caught him but just barely. He wrapped his arms and legs around me like some sort of invasive vine. His mouth smashed against mine. My knees grew rubbery as my prick roused in my shorts. I cupped his ass with both hands.

“I am so glad to see you,” he purred between kisses.

Someone back on the porch shouted. My grip on his backside lessened and he slid to the ground with a pout. “Come meet the guys. We were just talking about you.”

“You kids don’t want an old dinosaur breaking up your good times.”

“Just stop.” Declan grabbed my wrist and tugged me along in his wake. For being so slender, he was a strong little tugboat. The boys on the porch greeted me warmly. They were incredibly similar in style, which, I guess, reflects on the age. Conformity to the current trends is everything when you’re young. Each young man wore cargo shorts, low-cut tank tops, Nikes, sunglasses, and ball caps turned backward. Aside from hair coloring all four, and that included Declan—although his ankle bracelet and pink bandana ascot showed a modicum of individuality—were cookie-cutter young males. I was greeted with “Yo” and “‘Sup” after Declan introduced me.

He then steered me to the lone seat, a rough Adirondack chair exactly like the one on my porch. I sat. The guys fell back into their conversation about some video game. Declan sat down beside me, his dark head resting on my knee. I trembled violently inside at the gesture. All my bells and whistles were ringing, and yet these kids didn’t seem to pay any attention to the public display of affection. My hand was shaking when I placed it timidly on Declan’s head. His hair was soft as rabbit fur. He sighed blissfully at the contact. Talk flowed around me but I said little. If one did not know my avocation to be a wordsmith, they would think me mute.

About an hour passed. Declan had not moved an inch. My fingers now dallied with his hair. I had learned a great deal about this camp from simply listening. It was an open camp—obviously, since I had registered— but mostly college students used it to pick up an extra credit if they were in any of the arts programs. They had to write papers and turn them in before the fall semester began. If students from across the country did not fill all the bungalows, then they were offered to authors who couldn’t author anymore.

The troupe of artists, actors, and musicians slowly pushed into their skater shoes and ambled off. I was content to sit here forever, stroking Declan’s hair, but I had a few questions for my obsession.

“Why do you need extra credit?” I asked. A honeybee visited the red flowers in Declan’s clay pot. “Didn’t you graduate? You’re twenty-two, that should get you a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.”

His cheek laid on my bare thigh. I felt his heavy exhalation tickle the yellow hairs on my leg. My fingers continued combing.

“I’m a super senior,” he said without lifting his head from my leg.

“Do you get fries with that?”

 

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, 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, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and two Jersey steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

Website: http://vlloceyauthor.com/
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/pages/VL-Locey/124405447678452
Twitter- https://twitter.com/vllocey
Pinterest-http://www.pinterest.com/vllocey/
Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5807700.V_L_Locey
My blog- http://thoughtsfromayodelinggoatherder.blogspot.com/

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

How do I put what this book meant to me into words? I can’t find terms to describe this outstanding work. Phenomenal, Heartbreaking, Touching, Realistic, Emotional, Hopeful? All of these, yet none can do the job on its own.

The book is in two segments: before and after.  Before Trevor’s son, Riley, is killed in action in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and After as Trevor starts the painful process of trying to survive without his reason to live. I’m still reeling as I write this. That section was so emotional for me that tears are still leaking, and those who know me know that I don’t let those suckers loose easily. 

My son was in a similar situation, IRL, the year before Riley shipped out.  My parent trigger was pulled over and over again throughout this realistically told story.  The rare calls that only came during the night, which was their daytime.  Going off grid on patrol somewhere top secret.  The IEDs and constant danger from snipers and suicide bombers.  All that and more.  It was a very painfully emotional year for me and as I read Riley’s story and Trevor’s reactions, I was right there with them as my heart beat too fast, or I felt lightheaded, frightened, and finally, sobbing.  Honestly, I don’t know how a parent can survive the loss of a child, but if there are words to describe the hell that is having your child in a situation like Riley was in, Ms. Hansen surely found them.  Kudos for such an outstanding and sensitive portrayal of that time period. 

And the after?  Trevor was so broken it didn’t seem likely he could put one foot in front of the other.  The stages of grief are clearly portrayed. The breakup with Carl, the slowly developing friendship with Jesse, Riley’s BFF and battle buddy, and their long and very slow burn that develops into so much more—all inevitable as readers could tell by the time it happened. The beauty is in the journey we take with Trevor and Jesse along the way as they revisit their memories of Riley: the child, the friend, the soldier.  And, as with the main characters, the secondary characters are well-developed and have their own issues and impact from their time in Afghanistan, most notably PTSD. The author doesn’t gloss over any of it.  Each issue is addressed, some more in-depth than others, all of it making for an emotional read. 

Riley isn’t a fleeting character either. Though he dies in this story, his memory is kept alive throughout the book, in part during Trevor’s stages of grief, but in part through his annual visits to Arlington National Cemetery, where Riley is buried alongside other soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There is a romance in here.  Honest there is, but the couple’s story is wrapped up in so much other emotion that needs to be addressed, the romance is almost secondary.  Jesse and Trevor together were beautiful, though they didn’t come together as a couple until the latter part of the book.  And when they did, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.  There is so much emotional depth to this story that I’m back to saying what I did at the beginning of this review: there are no words that can do it justice. 

Topping my Best of 2018 list, this book deserves to be read.  Grab the tissue box, find a quiet place where your sobbing will not bother others, and just read.  Read until your heart breaks and heals itself, because it will heal, and by the end of the story, joy is in store for all those who finish.  Joy and a sense of peace and accomplishment and the knowledge that you’ve just read something very special.  Needless to say, I very highly recommend this story to all lovers of MM romance, angst, age gap, hurt-comfort, and deep feels on all stages of life’s spectrum. 

~~~

The somewhat bland-colored cover features a rear view of two men gazing into one another’s eyes.  Neither appears to be younger than the other so it doesn’t quite represent the characters and isn’t appealing. 

Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 451 pages
Expected publication: March 26th 2018 by Carina Press
ISBN139781488097058
Edition LanguageEnglish

Its Release Day for Imperfect Harmony by Jay Northcote!

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Imperfect Harmony by Jay Northcote

Publisher: Jaybird Press (self published)
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Release Date: Friday 15th of April 2016
Goodreads link

Blurb

Imperfect harmony can still be beautiful…

John Fletcher, a former musician, is stuck in limbo after losing his long-term partner two years ago. He’s shut himself off from everything that reminds him of what he’s lost. When his neighbour persuades him to join the local community choir, John rediscovers his love of music and finds a reason to start living again.

Rhys Callington, the talented and charismatic choir leader, captures John’s attention from the first moment they meet. He appears to be the polar opposite of John: young, vibrant, and full of life. But Rhys has darkness in his own past that is holding him back from following his dreams.

Despite the nineteen-year age gap, the two men grow close and a fragile relationship blossoms. Ghosts of the past and insecurities about the future threaten their newfound happiness. If they’re going to harmonise in life and love as they do in their music, they’ll need to start following the same score.

Length: 66,000 words
Genre: Contemporary gay romance
Standalone

Excerpt

Luckily there were still some parking spaces outside the church hall where Maggie’s choir met. John made sure they arrived a little early so Maggie wouldn’t have to walk too far. She was managing well on one crutch, but she still tired easily. After he parked, he got out and hurried around to help her out of the passenger door.

“Thanks, love,” she said, patting him on the arm. “I can manage now.”

A vicious gust of wind whipped a strand of hair into her face. It was dark, still sleeting, and probably slippery underfoot. There was no way John was going to leave until she was safely indoors. “I’ll just see you inside. Let me take your bag.”

Maggie let him have it without argument, and he popped it over his arm. He hovered close to Maggie as she made her way slowly to the double doors. He held one open for her and was hit by a blast of warm air. Then he accompanied her inside as she crutched along the corridor towards an open door. Yellow light flooded out, and the sound of a tenor voice singing “I Can See Clearly Now” raised the hairs on the back of John’s neck with its pure, clear beauty.

“I thought you said the emphasis was on fun rather than perfection?” he said quietly. “He’s got quite a voice.”

“That’ll be Rhys, our choir leader,” Maggie said with a smile. “Come and meet him, even if you’re not staying.”

Maggie paused when she reached the doorway and put a finger to her lips. They listened and waited for Rhys to finish singing. John peered over Maggie’s shoulder, hoping for a glimpse of the man the voice belonged to. Rhys, John presumed, was alone in the room. With his back to the door, he stood at a table pushed to the edge of the room, shuffling through some papers as he sang. All John could see of him was that he was small and slight, and quite young, based on the cut of his clothes. A hood covered his hair.

When he finished, Maggie started clapping.

Rhys wheeled around. “Oh my God! You made me jump.” He pushed his hood down and his face lit up as he beamed. “Maggie. How are you?”

John’s eyes widened as he took in Rhys’s front view as he approached Maggie and gave her a careful hug. His hair, which was shaved at the back and sides, was long on top and dyed peacock blue. His eyebrow was pierced, his arms were covered with tattoos, and the front of his T-shirt was emblazoned with a glittery equals sign in rainbow colours. All in all, he was at least twenty years younger than John had expected and completely unlike how John would have imagined a choir leader to look. In this dingy church hall in their small market town, Rhys looked like a bird of paradise that had accidentally ended up in a cage full of sparrows.

Sales Links

The buy links are:
 *Imperfect Harmony will be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. After that it will be available at all retailers.

About the Author

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.

She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

Can Love Heal? Find Out with ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ by Jo Tannah‏ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Way You Look Tonight
Author: Jo Tannah
Genre:  Gay Romance, Contemporary, May-December Romance
Series: Standards Series, Book Two
Length: Novella
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jo Tannah here today to share her inspiration and thoughts behind her latest story, The Way You Look Tonight.  Welcome, Jo.

First of all, thank you so much, Melanie, for having me here today and for joining my first ever blog tour. You sent me specific questions about The Way You Look Tonight. I will try to answer them as best I could so do forgive me if I ramble on a bit.

The Inspiration

The Way You Look Tonight was inspired by the lyrics of a Standard song of the same title. In fact, both books in the series and the ones in the near future, will hold the titles to these songs.

The first, What A Difference A Day Makes, tells of how one man’s life changed in twenty four hours after meeting the love of his life. The story came to me while I was driving one day and was listening to Gloria Estefan’s CD titled (you got it) The Standards. The song is the third track on that album and I just loved the way she sang it. Something clicked inside me and the men came to life. I was in the middle of the highway and was distracted throughout the three hour drive. What a drive that was. You can find it in Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/What-Difference-Day-Makes-Standards-ebook/dp/B00U6DZKS8

The Jump Start

In this second instalment, The Way You Look Tonight,  Jamie looks at his lover, Miles, and sees the real man behind the coat, the frowns, the stern countenance. Their story came to me during a time when I wanted to relax and put on a Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers movie. There is a scene where Fred begins singing and Ginger’s face is covered in face cream and I laughed at how silly the scene played out. Then Miles’ face came to mind, and then a karaoke microphone.

I began thinking about how this song gets sung regularly wherever there is a Karaoke around. It doesn’t matter how bad one sings it, or who does, it gets sung, period. It is a Standard after all and where I come from, karaoke is practically a national pastime.

Jamie’s character is based on several people, his situation based on a real one:  a scandal that broke out here in the country more than a decade ago. It ruined many lives, including some friends and family. It was and continues to be a depressing affair, one that is unfortunately still unresolved. Truth is, even the tragedy that strikes Jamie, how he gets the news, his reaction, they’re all based on real life events.

Laughing at Fred and Ginger made me think of two men who looked past the facades and their story began. In fact, if one were to pay close attention, scattered everywhere in books one and two, the reader would be able to spot reworded lyrics of the Standard song which set the pace to the stories. It would be fun to hear from readers when they do find those hidden words and lyrics.

The Whys

This is difficult to answer. Why do I write? Writing is like reading and I have been a bookworm since as far back as a seven year old. I wrote a blog post for Divine Magazine which is also a part of this tour. There, I wrote as much as I could reveal the whys of writing and how it is such a big part of my life. If you’re curious, hop on there as I pasting the post here would take up most of this blog page and more.

Synopsis

As a member of a wealthy and influential family, Jaime “Jamie” Abello had his life mapped out. Being shipped off to LA with an insurance scam linked to his name was not part of his plan.

It had seemed so simple: pass the Philippines Medical Board Exam;practice in the family-owned and -controlled hospital; join the Board by age forty; and find a partner with whom he could settle down and be himself.

Instead, his father supplies him with a surfeit of money and dangerous secrets and sends him to a strange country.

The Pediatric Residency Program Jamie applies for brings him face to face with untouchable Program Director, Miles Kwon, whom Jamie soon finds to be a man of integrity and vision.

When tragedy strikes, Jamie finds himself falling deeper into depression. Unexpectedly, it’s Miles who helps him work through his pain.

Will Jamie ever experience a life with a loving partner, or will his father’s secrets cause him to lose everything he’s gained?
The Way You Look Tonight Cover

Buy Links

Don’t miss the Valentine’s Day Sale (February 11-22) 50% off on WIP’s website and 40% off on ARe!

WIP: http://www.waywardinkpublishing.com/product/the-way-you-look-tonight-by-jo-tannah/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BDTO4U8/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01BDTO4U8/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01BDTO4U8/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B01BDTO4U8/
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thewayyoulooktonight-1974943-149.html

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Giveaway

Prizes: $4.99 WIP Gift Card and ebook copy of What A Difference A Day Makes by Jo Tannah.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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About the author

JO TANNAH is a wife, mother, and blogger by day, writer by night. It can be difficult to say the least but it is a challenge that keeps her on her toes.

She grew up listening to folktales her father and nannies spun to either entertain the children or send home a message. These narratives stayed with Jo until she finally decided to write them down in a journal way back when she kept one. Years later, going through junk led to finding a long forgotten box and nestled within it was the journal. Reading over the stories of romance, science fiction, and horror that she had taken time to put to paper all those years before brought to light the realization that they were tales she’d never come across in her readings.

The tales Jo write are fictional but all of them are based on what she grew up with and still dreams about. That they have an M/M twist is simply for her pleasure. And she hopes, yours as well.

Jo Tannah can be found at:

Website: http://www.jotannah.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jotannahauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jotannah

Does Age Make A Difference? Find out with ‘Dom of Ages’ by KC Wells & Parker Williams (excerpt/giveaway)

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Dom of Ages (Collars & Cuffs #7) by K.C. Wells & Parker Williams
Release Date: December 21, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Photo Credits: Joey Flyfoto, Model: Dirk Caber

 

Blurb

Eli may only be thirty, but he has had enough of pretend submissives. He wants a sub who truly knows how to submit. So when he spies Jarod in a BDSM club, everything about the man screams submission. It doesn’t matter that Jarod has to be about twenty years older than Eli. What does age matter, anyway? Not one to miss an opportunity, Eli moves fast and takes Jarod home with him, without thinking things through. All he can see is what he’s always wanted – a sub who wants to serve.

Jarod spent twenty-eight years with his Master, until Fate took Phillip from him. Four years on, and Jarod is still lost, so when a young Dom takes charge, Jarod rolls with it and finds himself serving again. But he keeps waiting for the shoe to drop. Because there’s going to come a point when Eli realizes he’s a laughing stock in the club. Who would want to be seen with a fifty-year-old sub? And when the moment of humiliation does arrive, Jarod flees. He’d be better off with Phillip.

Despite several missteps, what happens forces Eli to understand that Jarod needs him as much as he needs Jarod. But he knows in order to find happiness, they need friends who will understand. A friend keeps telling him Collars & Cuffs is what they need. Eli finally goes to visit, refusing to risk Jarod being hurt again, and finds everything he’s heard about the club is true. When he takes Jarod, he watches as his sub is met with open arms. As they settle in to their new life, Eli begins to see things differently. And he dares to think he can have it all. Until the phone call that shows him he didn’t realize what he could lose.

 

Pages or Words: 92,000 words
Categories: BDSM, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance, May-December Romance

Excerpt:

Jarod

I eyed the other subs enviously as they preened for the Doms, each hoping to spend an hour in a private room with one of them. I felt like a kid again, always the last one picked for sports. The looks I got ranged from amused to withering. I couldn’t believe I’d subjected myself to this. What was worse, I’d actually expected a different outcome.

I sighed deeply. Who was I fooling? I wasn’t twenty anymore. Hell, I wasn’t even twice that. The Doms wanted someone younger, someone trainable, or, failing that, someone who could give them a hot fuck. I had talents in that department from the many years I had served Master Phillip, but since he died, I’d been a submissive who had no one to serve.

“And what are you supposed to be?” a voice near my ear snapped.

“My name is Jarod, Sir,” I answered quietly, my heart thumping so loudly I was certain he could hear it.

There was a low growl. “I didn’t ask your name. I asked what you think you’re doing here.”

Heaven help me, I told him the truth. “Searching for someone to serve, Sir.”

His braying laugh mocked me. When he saw I was serious, he sobered. “No one is going to take you. No master is going to have you.” Then in a softer voice he added, “Go home. You don’t belong here.”

He was right, of course. It was time I admitted that to myself. This was a world that wasn’t like the one I’d been part of. When Master Phillip and I went to the clubs, there was an understanding. People were respectful, even if they weren’t interested in whatever was going on. This club was awful. It was full of young men strutting around like peacocks, each trying to show off more plumage than the next.

It was time to stop kidding myself. There was no reason for me to stay any longer. I’d be on my way, and then everyone would probably have a good laugh at my expense. At least in that, I would have made someone happy. I was about to stand when I felt a hand on my shoulder and smelled the leather.

“What is it you want?”

His breath smelled of mint. It wafted over my face and made my stomach clench with nerves. “To serve, Sir.”

Silence. I waited for it, the inevitable comeback, the jeer, the insult….

“That’s a very good answer, boy. Very good indeed. Stand and turn.”

I rose to my feet and faced the man whose voice gave me butterflies. When I saw him, my heart dropped and crushed them all to dust. The man was handsome, I would never say otherwise, but he was a child. I wanted a Master to serve, not to be a toy for a youngster who would grow bored with me the next time a pretty pony boy pranced by.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Jarod, Sir,” I replied, cursing my cracking voice.

He held out his hand and took mine. His grip was firm and warm, and a jolt of electricity ran through me at his touch.

“It’s an honor to meet you. My name is Eli.”

His name was like a caress. There was a gentleness to his voice that had me feeling as though everything might be okay after all. I tried to be surreptitious about it as I looked him over, and he laughed.

“You don’t need to hide anything from me. If you want to look at me, go ahead.”

I raised my head and marveled at how his green eyes shone in the bright lights. His short, spiky hair was dark, but with the colored lights flashing, it was hard to tell what color it was. I had the insane urge to run my fingers through it. He was about my height, and the way those black leather pants clung to his muscular thighs, I really wanted to see his legs. He was slender, but with good definition: it wasn’t a six-pack, but I wouldn’t have minded running my hands over it.

“Aren’t you a bit old for this, Jarod?” His voice was deep, and my skin pebbled at his tone. With a shock I realized he wasn’t mocking me; he was genuinely curious.

Once more I felt compelled to speak the truth. “No, Sir. I-I don’t believe I am.”

His fingers traced along my neck, running gently across my throat. I swallowed hard. It was so different from the treatment I’d received from everyone else here.

“Would you like to play?”

And with those words my heart dropped. “No. I’d rather not.” I was shocked to hear the words come from my mouth. Never before had I told a Sir no, but it seemed to be a night for honesty. Of all the times to be honest, though…. I remained still, awaiting his imminent departure.

“Good. I’m glad. I’m not here to play either.” He was quiet for a moment. “I want you to come home with me. Would that be okay?”

My breath caught. What the hell? He was so different from everyone else in this club. My heartbeat sped up. “Yes, please.” My damn voice squeaked again.

I felt the smooth leather against my throat. “This doesn’t come off until I say so. Is this agreed?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, what?”

I cursed myself for forgetting. “Yes, Sir.”

Buy the book:

Dreamspinner Press eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7217

Dreamspinner Press Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7218

E-BOOKS 1 – 6 are on sale at Dreamspinner for $1.00 each! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=907

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Meet the authors:

K.C. Wells:

Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C. Wells always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way.

K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, where the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings—writing about men in love was even hotter….

K.C. now writes full time and is loving every minute of her new career.

The laptop still has no idea of what hit it… it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.

Parker Williams:

Parker Williams began to write as a teen, but never showed his work to anyone. As he grew older, he drifted away from writing, but his love of the written word moved him to reading. A chance encounter with an author changed the course of his life as she encouraged him to never give up on a dream. With the help of some amazing friends, he rediscovered the joy of writing, thanks to a community of writers who have become his family.

Parker firmly believes in love, but is also of the opinion that anything worth having requires work and sacrifice (plus a little hurt and angst, too). The course of love is never a smooth one, and Happily Ever After always has a price tag.

Where to find the authors:

KC:

Parker:


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Inked Rainbow Reads, Bayou Book Junkie, Decadent Delights, 3 Chicks After Dark, Gay Book Reviews, Unquietly Me, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Alpha Book Club, The Hat Party, Divine Magazine, BFD Book Blog, Happily Ever Chapter, Love Bytes, Lee Brazil, Jessie G. Books, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, TTC Books and More, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Book Lovers 4Ever, My Fiction Nook, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Charley Descoteaux, Carly’s Book Reviews, Molly Lolly, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, KathyMac Reviews, Three Books Over the Rainbow, Bonkers About Books, Emotion in Motion, A.M. Leibowitz, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Velvet Panic, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: One of three $10 ARe gift cards, plus K.C. and Will are going to be stopping at each blog and picking a winner from the comments to receive a copy of ‘An Unlocked Heart’ (or one of the other first six books in the series).  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the authors and Pride Promotions.

 

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Review: Fool For Love by Cassandra Gold

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Fool For LoveCollege professor Vincent Norton is feeling every bit of his forty-five years of age.  Three years ago his partner of 20 years died in a car accident. Estranged from his family, now just his dad, Vince has used all his energy and time at his profession, teaching college kids and not much else,  Even his apartment of three years still looks empty of personality or his past.  His life is in on hold until he meets one of his neighbors from the apartment next door. One of a group of four college students, Vince finds the young man attractive and that is something he hasn’t felt for 3 years.

Rob Bridges is 21 and getting ready to graduate at a nearby college.  He has been secretly crushing on the older man in the apartment across from his.  That man is tall, gorgeous with just a little silver starting to show at the temple and Rob wants to date him.  But he doesn’t even know anything about him other than he is a professor at Washington University, let alone that he is gay?  What is a man to do?

An accident in the hallway brings the two men together and a date soon follows.  And while Rob is sure Vince is the one he wants, Vince is having second and even third thoughts.  The age gap between them is huge and surely Rob will tire of an older man, won’t he? Opposition to their dating mounts from all sides.  Will Rob succeed in making Vince  believe in their love or will Vince’s own doubts and outside influences push him away permanently?

In Fool For Love Cassandra Gold has written a very sweet love story.  Her May – December romance between Vince Norton and Rob Bridges has many lovely qualities, including two believable characters who talk and act their age.  Vince Norton is every bit the still grieving, stuck in stasis middle aged professor.  He cares about his students and mourns the loss of the man he thought he would spend the rest of his life with.  In an authentic touch, Gold has his apartment reflect this inability to move forward.  It’s not decorated, bare walls and barren of spirit, it states that it is more of a staging area than a home.  And I absolutely believed in Vince and his current situation.  Her characterization is of a man who finally realizes he might be ready to move on but how and with whom?

Then into the picture comes Rob Bridges, another likable persona.  He is intelligent, compassionate, and kind. He is also quite handsome.  And Rob likes older men and has been secretly crushing on Vince next door.  All well and good.  Rob has three roommates who are also his friends.  I liked their easy acceptance of his sexuality as well as the layers to their characterizations.  If one acts like a jerk, he is also capable of an apology that makes sense.  Again, I like the secondary characters involved in Vince and Rob’s story.  They are all quite human, funny and flawed. And their presence goes a long way in making this story more viable and lovely to read.

Another moving element is the scenes with Vince’s Dad.  I think Gold handled this aspect of taking care of older parents realistically and quite movingly. And unfortunately, I think it helped highlight what might be the one obstacle that will keep readers from connecting to this book and Vince and Rob’s relationship.  And that would be the huge gap in their ages.

We aren’t talking 5, 10 or even 15 years here.  No, the gap is that of 25 years and for many people that will be an insurmountable obstacle.  And I think I count myself among them.   Cassandra Gold did such a good job with her characters that Rob feels way too young for Vince.  And yes Vince is far too old for a young man of 21.  As the author has Vince point out, they are at two very different stages in their lives and that gets brushed over a little too quickly.   When Rob breaks down in tears because Vince had to cancel out on an important date,  while we might have had some empathy for him, it also highlighted just how young Gold had made him emotionally.  Vince gets mistaken for Rob’s father while out on dates (again I can see that). And as Vince cared for his dying father and thought about himself and Rob in the same position, I found myself agreeing with him that it was entirely plausible.  It’s not something you want to bring up in a love affair but 25 years is 25 years and Vince is turning 47 as the book ends.

And finally, because yes, my mind goes there.  There is the physical differences in physiology between a 21 year old man and a 46* year old man.   At 21 years old, the sexual drive can match up with the body’s ability.  Unfortunately, not so with middle-age.  And that wasn’t touched on at all.  Perhaps because it’s not a very sexy thing to think about. Athough I have read some books where the authors treated aspect realistically and still made the relationship sexy.  Certainly though it is a fact of life, not exactly dealt with here.   But that’s what I kept thinking about.    So yes, I just couldn’t make myself believe in this romantic relationship.   To be honest, I don’t think I would by it as a M/F romance either.  The difference is just too great.

There are a couple of odd phrasing here and some confusion about ages, all that is minor issues in an otherwise sweet narrative.  So again, how you feel about the age gap between these two realistically portrayed men will define how you feel towards Fool For Love.  It has many lovely elements but in the end I just couldn’t connect to the love affair.  You make up your own mind.

Cover art by Valerie Tibbs is far preferable to the original.  At least it shows two men of difference ages.  But the blue tone makes it all a little hard to see.

*It states that Vince is 45 at the beginning of the book, then 46 and at the epilogue which occurs one year later, Vince is turning 47.

Book Details:

Note:This book is a re-edited, revised version of one previously released by another publisher.
Published August 20th 2013 by Loose Id, LLC (first published April 9th 2009)
original title:  Fool For Love
ASINB00EOA5Q8I
edition language English
characters Vince Norton
setting United States

Review of A Mutual Understanding by Caro Soles

Standard

Rating: 3.25 stars

It is 1984.  Wayne Robinson, hair dresser and sometime artist,  surprisingly has always been an out gay man, even flamboyantly so given the small college town he lives in.  He is surrounded by the people he has  known all his life and his family lives nearby.  After dumping his ex for sleeping around, he sees Professor Adrian Taylor and  immediately falls into instant lust and then love. Wayne starts pursuing the man until he “catches” him.  But Wayne feels insecure and undereducated in Dr. Taylor’s presence.  And the man gives Wayne mixed signals whenever they are together, so much so that Wayne is confused as to what Adrian really wants from him.

Dr. Adrian Tayl0r is in the closet as a professor at the local college and the courtship of the gorgeous young hairdresser has turned his tightly controlled, neat lifestyle upside down.  When Adrian buys an huge old Victorian house in town to fix up, live in and rent out rooms,he invites young campy Wayne to move in with him.  But neither man is good with communicating with each other, and misunderstandings quickly arise over what each man expects from the other when living under the same roof.  Then a close friend of Wayne’s falls ill with AIDS and fear rocks the town.  Can both men come to a mutual understanding before they lose their chance at a relationship?

A Mutual Understanding had the potential to become a wonderful, realistic look at a small town’s reaction to gays and the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s, but that promise was never fulfilled as the story lingered over a miscast romance between main characters who never captured my attention or affection.  I did love Wayne Robinson, the campy and out young hairdresser with the big heart.  The descriptions of Wayne  taking his mother on her visit’s to her friends on Sunday were perfect.  I could see the whole thing unfold before me as though I was in the room with “Auntie Marge”, her mother Flo and the old dog outside on the porch.  I only wish the affection, care,  and authenticity the author took in creating these scenes carried throughout the book.  You understood these people immediately as small town USA is populated with them. In fact the book is full of easily recognizable small town characters, from the owner of the hair parlor where Wayne works to the people at the diner. So it feels right when the town “seemingly” accepts Wayne’s homosexuality as he is one of theirs until another gay man in town comes down with AIDS and the acceptance is seen for the fragile thing it really is as fear and ignorance takes over.  But again given the time period, the actions of the townspeople are in keeping with the time period and the AIDS timeline.

Outside of the “romance”,  Wayne acts in an appropriately realistic manner.  He comforts his friend who has AIDS, he rescues those in need, he supports his itinerant younger brother until he realizes the extent his brother has taken advantage of him.  I love the portrait the author paints of Wayne’s family  and their interaction with their son as well as his friends, again another terrific element here.

So what is the problem with this book?  That would be the character of Dr. Adrian Taylor and the romance between the two main characters.  There is nothing remotely attractive about this man so his appeal to Wayne is never understood, especially in light of his treatment of Wayne throughout the novel.  Yes,  Dr. Taylor is in the closet so Wayne’s appearance at his office time after time poses a threat to his closeted life.  I do get that. But this is a rigid, closed off man who thinks very highly of himself.  The author has him saying to Wayne “Oh, I see you have been reading again” repeatedly after Wayne has used a more erudite word or phrase.  Are we supposed to find this constant disparagement adorable?  Why are we supposed to like this pompous,  priggish man and think him a welcome companion to a very endearing young man?  I just could never see it nor could I understand the author’s fondness for this character.  It never made any sense, and therefore I never bought into their love story.  When you can’t sell the love affair in a romance book, you know the author is in trouble.

Another thing that didn’t make sense was having a man in his  early forties acting as though he was much older, antiquated mannerisms to go with the antiques he collected.  Even in the 80’s, being in your forties was not considered old.  Acting in a frigid manner in your forties yes, acting as though you were frozen in the 1800’s? No.  Dr. Adrian Taylor is perhaps the only character who came across as flattened cardboard cutout and that ruined any potential for the romance aspect of this book.

This is the first book I have read by Caro Soles and I try never to judge an author based solely on one novel.  So I look forward to reading more of this author to see if the potential I see here is reflected elsewhere in her stories.  Again, had the character of Dr. Taylor been removed and the story concentrated on Wayne and his friend with AIDS I think this review would have been totally different.  But I would give A Mutual Understanding a pass when you are choosing your next book to read.

Cover: Deana Jamroz is the cover artist. Dr. Adrian Taylor does not fit the man in the background who seems too young for his description.

Review of Weekends by Edward Kendrick

Standard

Rating: 3.25 stars

Marcus Hampton is secure in his habits, secure in his job as an accountant, and secure in his identity as a confirmed bachelor. He has his cat, Daisy, and his routines. Each and every day rolling with the same predictability, and he likes that too.  Until he meets Demitri Costas, a young photographer who snaps a picture of him.  Demitri is immediately attracted to the older man, and not just because he is wonderfully photogenic under his lens. Dimitri asks Marcus to pose for him, and to Marcus’ surprise, he agrees.

One photo session leads to another and Demitri develops a crush on Marcus but does nothing, believing Marcus to be married and straight. Marcus is neither. When Demitri discovers Marcus is both gay and available, he pursues  the older man but Marcus gently rebukes Demitri as Marcus thinks he must represent a father figure for the young photographer.  Through holidays and weekends, the men struggle with their feelings towards each other, family  expectations, and their pasts as well as insecurities.  Marcus’ self image of himself as a confirmed old bachelor is one Dimitri must shatter if  they are to have a future together.

Weekends charts the relationship between two very different men from its beginnings to that of an established couple.  Each chapter represents a different weekend in their lives, a neat format for the story.  The first chapter is titled The Weekend Before Thanksgiving.  In it, we establish a “base line” for each man before they meet.  We see their lives, their  routines, and in Demitri’s case, his hopes of becoming a photographer.  I like that Kendrick chooses the weekends around the holidays to move the story forward, as that is a time of vulnerability and introspection for most people, especially those alone.  With Marcus, it is particularly affecting, as Daisy is his only companion and his aloneness comes into stark focus for the reader.

Kendrick delivers two very believable people in Marcus and “Mitri” as he is called.  Also authentic is the manner in which Mitri  slowly brings Marcus out of his rigid notions of himself as “old and settled”.  Mitri is fighting against his father’s expectations for him to finish college with a degree in Engineering as all he longs to do is take pictures and make a living do so.  Even with a marked lack of communication between the two, they slowly make their way into a relationship.

So. Believable characters, creative story format, happy ending.  Why the long face, girl, as they say.  Interest. For however nice Marcus and Demetri are, they are boring.  And I am not talking about a lack of angst here.  I have never felt that angst is a necessary part of a story, although it helps to balance out a story.  I have read other novels that I loved whose  plot also revolves around the same storyline.  Men meet, get to know each other, fall in love, and live happily ever after or at least for now.  The big difference is that I found those men compelling.  They endeared themselves to me in multiple ways, it could be a sense of humor, an engaging outlook on life, something that says wow, I am so happy to got to know you.  It is like that in real life.  Sometimes you click with someone, sometimes you don’t.   Some people are beige to other’s rainbow.  Unfortunately for me, there was a whole lot of beige and very little clicking going on here. There is much to admire in Weekends but in the end, the main characters make it far too easy to forget them once the story is over.

Cover: Cover art by Reese Dante.  I normally love Dante’s covers but here I am of two minds.  One, I am the only person who sees George Bush in the man in the front? I am not sure if I find that hysterical or scary. The other says “great job”, love the relevancy of the mens ages and great design. But boy, does he look like George Bush….