A MelanieM Review: A Matter of Justice (Hong Kong Nights Book 3) by J.C. Long

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The battle between the Dragons of the Eastern District and their bitter rivals, the Twisted Vipers, is reaching a dangerous point. The Anti-Gang Task Force is hard at work trying to bring down the Vipers. Tensions ratchet when Johnny Hwang guns down a prominent inspector on the task force, and Conroy Wong, Wei Tseng’s second-in-command is a witness. Now, to keep him safe long enough to locate a second witness and put Hwang behind bars, Conroy is forced into close quarters with Allen Hong, a man who once fought side by side with the Dragons until he turned his back on them by joining the police, betraying them. As sparks fly between them once more, the two men must put aside their differences and work together, because the Twisted Vipers aren’t going to let Hwang go down without a fight.

A Matter of Justice (Hong Kong Nights Book 3) by J.C. Long is a tense, complicated and terrific novel. Gritty and intense, it delves into the corrupt landscape of triads, gang wars and bought cops in Hong Kong.  Throw in a old wounded romance between a triad member and a detective and all the elements are there for one memorable story.  Which is exactly what Long gives you.

My only issue is that it took some time to remember who all the cast of characters were.  This is  definitely not a standalone novel and the importance characters and their relationship to each other almost needs a chart at the beginning if you haven’t just read books one and two in the series.  Without all the relationship dynamics being fresh in my mind, it took a while to get into the story, hence the lower rating.  But once it snapped  back into place, then the story took off and I sunk deeply into the drama and fast paced action of a gang war under way and a heinous crime boss who will let nothing stand in his way of revenge.

Conroy Wong and Allen Hong are the reunited couple at the center, one a triad member and one a cop. I loved the tension and anger here.  I did have some issues with the sex scenes. Again, another reason for the lower rating.  Not the angry sex, no that made perfect sense given their past relationship and how it ended.  But that old “no just use spit” thing that keeps cropping up now and again.  Please can we all agree that this is just exceedingly painful and needs to disappear? I mean how realistic is this?  Especially when there was still some lube left to use.  Nope, it stopped me during their sex scene and it should have stopped them.  So yes, another drop in the rating there.  Just my opinion.  Otherwise one hot couple.

J.C. Long brings us into Hong Kong with the food, the people, and the language.  There’s even a dictionary Long supplies for us at the back.  Very revealing, especially about some of the epitaphs hurled during the story.  It definitely sinks you into the city and the situation.

I recommend the series but for clarity purposes, read the stories close together.  It helps keeping all the people and their relationships fresh in your mind as many as they are.  But its one thrilling ride of a narrative and some wonderful couples.  I’m recommending them if you like action, law enforcement stories and in this case, lovers reunited.

Cover art: Natasha Snow is dramatic and works for the story and location.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 301 pages
Published February 26th 2018 by NineStar Press
ASINB079PL9FG6

Honk Kong Nights Series:

A Matter of Duty (Hong Kong Nights Book 1)

Review Tour – By The Numbers by RJ Scott (The Sanctuary Finale)

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Buy Links:

 |



Paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK 


Length: 37,400 words


Cover Design: Meredith Russell


Sanctuary Series


Guarding Morgan (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Only Easy Day (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Face Value (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Still Waters (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Full Circle (Book #5) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Journal of Sanctuary One (Book #6) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Worlds Collide (Book #7) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Accidental Hero (Book #8) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Ghost (Book #9) Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Secrets and lies threaten Brandon and Danielís new love.


Brandon Hoselton is running scared, finding security in his obsession with patterns and numbers. With his family threatened, he feels he has nowhere left to go, and even considers ending his life to keep them safe. Until Sanctuary, in the shape of the enigmatic Daniel Karnes, gives him a reason to stay alive and offers the possibility of a future free from fear.


Former SEAL Daniel is new to Sanctuary, tasked with watching Brandon, a brilliant geek with way too many secrets. Falling in love with quirky Brandon is easy; now he just has to make sure secrets donít end up with them both dying.


The only way of destroying Varga is to cut the crime bossís money, and the two men become part of an intricate take-down involving millions of dollars. But Brandon has a secret he can never share with Daniel, and their new love is at stake.

When the villain has murder in mind, sometimes the only way to stay alive is to lie.

 
Excerpt
 

Brandon took down the drapes in his room as soon as he was able to. He could have asked his sisters, but they didnít know just how badly looking at the geometric pattern in the fabric upset his equilibrium. They knew he was weird; most sisters thought their big brothers were weird. But he also had twitches and nervous tics about certain things, and theyíd seen it all, even though his list of crazy was something he could manage now.


They didnít need to know heíd spent three hours last night counting the squares on the drapes and being irritated to the point of stimming that they werenít even and the stitching was wrong. And Jesus, stimmingóhaving to move his fingers, loosen his muscles, anything to ground himselfóhe hadnít done that in years.


And hell if he was going to ask Daniel into his room to help him, because Daniel was someone Brandon did not want in his space. Not taking down drapes, or talking to him, or even breathing near him. There was only so much of Daniel that Brandon could take, because when he was anywhere near him, he lost his ability to form coherent sentences. He didnít have time to have these powerful feelings of lust that kept hitting him.


Like the time he and Daniel had met on the landing and Daniel had been in just a towel. Theyíd only been together a few days, but Daniel was funny, and sexy, and dangerous, and exactly everything Brandon should be avoiding in his life.


He had way too much to worry about, and a date written in his memory that he wouldnít forget any time soon. The deal he hadóto stay alive, to hide himself away, and then to present himself to Vargaówas just about the only thing that filled his thoughts.


Varga thought that, on a given date, Brandon would join him in his huge mansion, pull together all the funds Varga had hidden in various places, and then join him in whatever country the US didnít have an extradition treaty with.


Like hell he would. He was meeting with Varga, getting all his money, dispersing it to the right causes, and sending any intel he could get out to the authorities.


And then Varga would kill him for doing that.


Inevitable, really, and something heíd come to terms with. Heíd blown his chance to do this when heíd worked for Varga, so he had to make up for it. He was doing the right thing.


Heíd been biding his time in Hope, but had been unfortunate to be scooped up by Sanctuary. He just needed to work out a way to get away from them, and in particular Daniel, but he had about ten days to go yet until that magic date when Varga had decided he would be leaving the country.


For now, Sanctuary was safe for him and his sisters.


So yeah, choosing to avoid having Daniel in his room, with his probing questions and his distracting body, was an easy decision to make in among all that crap.


The only downside was that it meant he had to take the drapes down himself.


Trying to shoot himself hadn’t gone so well; instead of being dead and gone, he had a through shot and muscle damage which hurt like knives in his skin. He waited until day four, when the pain in his shoulder had lessened to the point where he could at least manage to get out of bed and to the window but he couldnít handle looking at those drapes any longer.


Today he actually felt capable of dealing with drapes he didnít need anyway. There were blinds at the windows, and behind the blinds each window was coated so you could see out but no one could see in. He pushed the offending fabric under the bed and clambered back to a standing position, wincing in pain as he banged his shoulder, and sat on the edge of his bed.


The drapes were still thereóhe could picture them under the bedóand exasperated, he lay back on the mattress and attempted to think of something else. Blue skies, blue mugs, blue eyes. Anything blue, because it was a color that calmed him.


He lasted about a minute.


Huffing, he rolled up carefully and reached under the bed, pulling out the drapes and screwing them into a ball. Opening his door, he threw them out onto the landing, not even checking if anyone was standing there.


Daniel. Of course it would be Daniel, who reacted like a ninja and had the drapes under submission in seconds.


Once they were dead, or at least overpowered with some sort of karate move, Brandon felt like he should apologize.


ìMy bad,î he said, and shut the door in Danielís face.


He expected the knock, but hadnít quite decided what he was going to say to Daniel when he came in. Maybe if he ignored the request to enter and said nothing, then Daniel might go away.


Daniel knocked again, and this time instead of waiting for Brandon to say he could come in, he pushed his way in, looking irritable. He was shirtless, his hair wetóevidence of a recent showeróhis sweats hanging low on his hips and every muscle deliciously tight and toned.


ìWhat the hell, Brandon?î he asked, his dark eyes angry, his lips in a set line. He wasnít holding the drapes, so Brandon counted that as a win.


ìI didnít want them up at my window,î Brandon explained, and eased himself down into the chair by his bed. He was most comfortable there; he could see out the window and it was easier to keep the pressure off his injury.


ìSo you decided to throw them in my face?î Daniel sounded less pissed and more confused about getting fabric in his face.


Brandon indicated the door. ìTo be fair, I didnít know you were there.î Then he couldnít resist, ìAnd you heroically subdued them so fast, I knew you could handle the danger.î

 

Author Bio


RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.


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


mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
www.rjscott.co.uk/
www.facebook.com/author.rjscott?ref=ts&fref=ts
www.goodreads.com/author/show/3432558.R_J_Scott
twitter.com/Rjscott_author
www.librarything.com/author/scottrj

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Cover Reveal for Sue Brown’s Goodnight My Angel

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Release Date: February 24 2017
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 

Blurb


Callum Ross has a tough decision to make. After years of working for the covert ops agency in the UK and owning his own security firm in the US, he’s forced to choose between the business he loves, and the new fragile relationship with his partner, Josh Cooper.

A bottle of whiskey and almost being killed by a motorbike helps Cal make the decision, and he moves to the UK with plans to set up his own security consultancy. Then the head of the covert ops agency where Josh now works asks Cal for help. Agency operatives and their families are being injured or killed, including Cal’s friends.

Cal is asked to investigate with Josh’s assistance. As the number of victims increase, they’re aware either of them could be the next target for the killer. Josh wants Cal to back away from the investigation in case he gets hurt, but Cal refuses, putting a strain on their relationship.

Then they discover the motorbike incident wasn’t an accident. Who tried to kill him, and why?

Morning My Angel (Angel Enterprises #1) Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Author Bio

Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot, and has become an expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. She had an Aha moment and put pen to paper that same day. Sue may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Come over and talk to Sue at:

Come over and talk to Sue at:
sue@suebrownstories.com
Her website can be found at:
http://www.suebrownstories.com/
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/suebrownstories
Twitter:
http://twitter.com/suebrownstories
Blog:
http://suebrownsstories.blogspot.com/

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A Release Day Review: MelanieM Review of Dirty Heart by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★

Dirty HeartFinal book in the Dirty Series arc.

Former LAPD detective Cole McGinnis’s life nearly ended the day his police partner and best friend Ben Pirelli emptied his service weapon into Cole and his then-lover, Rick. Since Ben turned his gun on himself, Cole thought he’d never find out why Ben tried to destroy him.

Years later, Cole has stitched himself back together. Now a private investigator and in love with Jae-Min Kim, a Korean-American photographer he met on a previous case, Cole’s life is back on track—until he discovers Jeff Rollins, a disgraced cop and his first partner, has resurfaced and appears to be working on the wrong side of the law.

As much as Cole’s fought to put the past behind him, he’s soon tangled up in a web of lies, violence, and death. Jeff Rollins is not only trying to kill Cole’s loved ones, he is also scraping open old wounds and long-forgotten memories of the two men Cole loved and lost. Cole is sure Rollins knows why Ben ruined all their lives, but he isn’t looking for answers. Now Cole is caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a cold-blooded killer with the key to not only his past but his future.

What a magnificent story!  Even with all the intricacies, cultural layering and mysteries that have flowed through all the stories of the Cole McGinnis series, really none can prepare you for this book.  Its just that powerful and emotionally wrenching.

The big mystery and heartache at the center of this series has been why  Cole McGinnis’s  cop partner on the force and close friend/brother shot Cole and killed his lover.  It was an act of betrayal that Cole never quite recovered from, even with his strong and passionate love for Jae-Min Kim.  Like that saying that all roads eventually lead home, Rhys Ford has been leading Cole and the readers back to the beginning where Cole will find out the answers to the violent action that shattered his life.  This is that book.

Little by little, more things from Cole’s past find him again.  Some are indescribably wonderful and moving, some heartbreaking, and raw.  You never know from page to page which element Rhys Ford is going to serve up, what you can be certain is that it will piece your heart, make you weep with either joy or pain with the believable anguish that Cole is going through, along with his family and loved ones.  There are some devastating events here, sometimes one after another.  After a while I thought I had become inured.

I was so wrong.

Its because Rhys Ford writes so beautifully that her characters resonate so with the reader, as does the pain and emotional turmoil they are going through.  Here emotions, thoughts, even rage that Cole had imagined he had buried rise up, overwhelming him, and the reader in the process.  At parts, the story is so moving, I had to stop reading, because I couldn’t see the Kindle any more through the tears.  I don’t think anything  can prepare you for parts of this book.

The  relationships here are deepened, even more realistic than ever as certain elements are revealed about peoples lives, the comedy that is a hallmark of this author ‘s writing and this series is ever present, a necessary levity when the angst threatens to swamp us and the lives involved.  Clowns and llamas are a perfect pairing and I can only imagine how Rhys Ford saw that.

Rhys Ford is not one to give up the mystery easily.  Its been years in the making so its a heart-racing, white knuckle, fast paced scary race at towards the end. What a shocker!  I did not see that coming, even after all those books, so well done, Rhys Ford.  That was  really a great twist. Then you went on and delivered further. How worthwhile an ending.  Its superb.  Ford really pulls it all together.  First a shocker, then a summation, and then a epilogue that will leaving you giddy with joy.

Dirty Heart (Cole McGinnis #6) by Rhys Ford is one spectacular book. Never has her characters been more nuanced, more moving and real.  The story includes stunning narrative explosions, a conclusion to a convoluted mystery spun over 6 stories and characters that will never leave me.  This jumps to into Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Word’s Top Ten Rec list.  Its February so for you readers still new to the series, you have plenty of time to read through the series before the book comes out in March.  Pay no attention to anyone trying to spoil this book for you.  No no NO!  Its too good a tale for that.  Make sure you pick it up fresh!  But pick it up you must!  Highly Recommended as is the series.

Cover artist Reese Notley does a wonderful job with the cover and branding the series.

Sales Links coming in March

Book Details:

Expected publication: March 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original TitleDIrty Heart
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCole McGinnis #6

Cole McGinnis Series:

Love Action, Suspense & Romance? Check Out Enduring Night by John Wiltshire (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Enduring Night (More Heat Than The Sun #7) by John Wiltshire
Release Date: October 23, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Dana Jamroz

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Today we’re happy to have back one of our Down Under Showcase writers John Wiltshire,  author of Enduring Night, a new release in John’s  wonderful More Heat Than The Sun series.

Hi John, welcome back to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Tell our readers about yourself, your background, and your current book.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

  • What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Hah. Besides my books making it to a movie one day? I think it would be being able to carry on. I’ve suffered from writer’s block in the past and it’s debilitating. While I can still write I reckon I’m blessed.

  • How many published books do you have? Can you tell us something about them?

I have seven now published in the More Heat Than the Sun series. I set out with this series to deliberately write a world that builds slowly. The first book is almost like a seed. You may not even engage with the characters. It was a risk on my part to start a long series like this, because I needed people to be intrigued enough to stick with it. Fortunately many have been, and now in Book 7, and even more in Book 8, it’s become a hopefully rich and very engaging world. The two main characters, Nikolas and Ben, now have an eclectic group of friends and adopted family around them, which would seem incredible to anyone reading the introduction to the series, Book 1, Love is a Stranger.

I also have two historical novels published: A Royal Affair and its sequel Aleksey’s Kingdom. I really enjoyed writing these two books because they are written in the first person, which allows a lot of humour when you write it. Nikolai is not the most self-aware chap, and his attitudes and opinions make me laugh. I’m also a bit of a history buff, so it was fun doing the research for them. I like characters who aren’t entirely honest about who they are, and Nikolai has his pretenses and masks peeled away when he falls in love.

I have a short story published, Catch Me When I Fall, which was actually the first thing I wrote for publication. It’s about a fallen angel.

  • Your main character wants to cook something special for his love interest. What does he make?

Uh-huh. I sometimes wonder if I’m writing in the right genre. My characters don’t really interact over food, or make romantic gestures, come to that. Ben has been trying to cook a bit recently. He had to learn once to go undercover and it was a disaster. I think Nikolas once made Ben a cup of tea. Does any of that count?

  • What are you working on at the moment? What’s it about?

I’m writing a short story for a co-authoring project at MLR Press. Four authors were chosen to write a series of mystery stories based around the seasons. I’m doing autumn, but it’s autumn with a difference. I’m also writing a novel set in a small village in Devon. All my characters are members of a book club. It’s huge fun to write, because I know all these people. Fortunately, I’m eleven thousand miles away, and they can’t get me when the book comes out.

  • Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

Not at all. I write scene by scene mainly. If it’s just a tiny scene, so be it. Sometimes I go months without writing anything. I start to panic a bit if I’ve not got one whole unpublished novel still in the bag.

I’d rather write nothing at all than write something I wasn’t happy with.

Thanks, John, for stopping by.  You are always welcome here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

Now more about Enduring Night

Blurb

You’d have thought that Ben and Nikolas would have learnt that their romantic holidays inevitably end up as disasters. A short break on the polar ice sees them trapped in a nightmare of murder and deceit. Neither of them, however, foresees the long-term impact that endless winter has on their relationship. They return with a metaphorical darkness that threatens everything they have created together. Desperate and fearing for Nikolas’s life, Ben makes a bargain with a surprising ally. For the first time, Nikolas meets an enemy more powerful than he is. But fortunately, not as sneaky…

 

Pages or Words: 80,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Thriller

Excerpt

Prologue

The view from the window hadn’t changed since the last time Ben had studied it—one grey, depressing wing of the building, the car park below, and some scraggly trees, still bare in January. Farther away, he could see the roofs of some houses, and perhaps, if he let his imagination run away with it, the distant hills of Bodmin moor. He didn’t speculate in the realms of fiction much these days. He brought his gaze back to the utilitarian architecture.

The seagull was back, perched on the sill, as it had been day after day. Sometimes, it tapped the window with its beak. Ben was never sure if the gull wanted in, or for him to open the window and join it outside, flying or falling. Freedom either way.

Secretly, Ben thought the gull was an albatross. It was so vast, so impressive, that it seemed inconceivable that it could be an ordinary gull blown in from Plymouth Sound and sitting on the grimy ledge. The first albatross perhaps to make it to England, tossed on ocean currents all the way from the Chatham Islands, lost, alone. If it was, then it was in good company. Ben had never felt so lost or so alone, and he had spent a fair proportion of his life being buffeted by metaphorical winds far stronger than those that prowled the vast oceans of the world.

Buy the book: MLR Books

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Meet the Author

John Wiltshire is English, an ex-army officer, who emigrated to New Zealand and now spends his time surfing and procrastinating on YouTube.

Where to find the author:

Giveaway

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Enduring Night’ by John Wiltshire.   Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.   Link and prizes provided by the author and p

 

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Tour Dates & Stops:

23-Oct: Mikky’s World of Books, Velvet Panic, Reviews by Jessewave, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance

26-Oct: BFD Book Blog, My Fiction Nook, Happily Ever Chapter

27-Oct: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Jessie G. Books, Boy Meets Boy Reviews

28-Oct: Wake Up Your Wild Side, MM Good Book Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Bayou Book Junkie

29-Oct: The Hat Party, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews

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Cover Reveal Time for Eden Winter’s Redemption (Diversion #5) (excerpt and giveaway)

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Redemption (Diversion #5) by Eden Winters
Release Date: August 8, 2015

Goodreads Link (Add to your shelf)
Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

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Sales Links:   Amazon

(Bonus link: Check http://www.rockyridgebooks.com/334/
to get Diversion, the first book of the series, for .99!)

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Living is the easy part.

Agent Lucky Lucklighter and his partner escaped Mexico alive, only to plunge into bureaucratic fallout from their mission. Hell, maybe Lucky should have stayed south of the border. Especially when the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau places Bo into rehab, and Lucky’s facing both therapy and an inquiry into a fatal shooting. Watching over his shoulder for a vengeful drug lord or a cartel don calling in favors leaves him scarcely able to imagine a future for them as agents, or as a couple.

Bo Schollenberger once had a vision for their life together, but he’s bowed beneath the weight of his undercover work. Lucky’s hanging on by his deeply chewed fingernails, clinging to hope by making Bo’s dreams of a home into reality. The last thing he needs is a phone call from a dangerous man who knows too much, summoning him back to Mexico for “an early Christmas present.”
Not when the SNB brass asks tough questions, like “How well do you know your partner?”

Pages or Words: 73,000 words

Categories: Crime fiction, Fiction, Gay fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery, Thriller

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

“What’s your current credit rating?”

Lucky didn’t often use credit. After getting out of prison to work for Walter, he’d bought his car from a police auction for cash, and lived a low-key lifestyle. Before that, Victor Mangiardi had taken care of him. A nice way to live, but other than a car stereo in his teens, he’d never made payments on anything. And he’d been Richmond Lucklighter then. He’d only been Simon Harrison for a short time, and although he’d used credit cards to make expense reporting easier when on assignment, he paid them off every month. “I’m not sure.”

“Then let’s see.” The woman tapped on her laptop and whistled. “Mr. Harrison, I don’t think we’ll have a problem getting you the loan.”

He owed Walter one hell of a lot of those frou-frou coffee drinks from Starbucks for giving him a credit score to make a loan officer whistle.

An hour later Lucky fought to hide a grin from a woman who’d put the Energizer Bunny to shame. “Now, I’m familiar with the house you’re considering. Offer 180. Trust me.” She winked and handed him the phone.

He pulled a dog-eared card from his wallet and dialed.

“Mr. Harrison?” The Realtor didn’t sound too happy to hear from him, not that he blamed her. She’d been working hard for her commission. That’s why she got commission.

“Is that house still available? The fixer-upper in the gated neighborhood?”

“Y… yes.”

“I want to make an offer.”

Now what was he gonna tell Bo?

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Captivated young by story-telling, Eden Winters’ earliest memories include spinning tales for the family’s pets. Her dreams of writing professionally took a sojourn into non-fiction, with a twelve-year stint in technical documentation.

She began reading GLBT novels as a way to better understand the issues faced by a dear friend and fell in love with the M/M romance genre. During a discussion of a favorite book, a fellow aficionado said, “We could do this, you know.” Good-bye gears, motors, and other authors’ characters; hello plots and sex scenes.

Somewhat of a nomad, Eden has visited seven countries so far. She currently calls the southern US home, and many of her stories take place in the rural South. Having successfully raised two children, she now balances the day job with hiking, rafting, spoiling her grandchildren, and stalking the wily falafel or elusive tofu pad Thai at her favorite restaurants. Her musical tastes run from Ambient to Zydeco, and she’s a firm believer that life is better with fur kids and Harley Davidsons.
Find Eden’s other works at http://edenwinters.com or contact her at edenwinters@gmail.com

Where to find the author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EdenWinters
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eden-Winters/300380906658065
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EdenWinters1
Blog: http://www.edenwinters.com
E-mail:edenwinters@gmail.com

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Tour Dates & Stops: August 1, 2015
Parker Williams, Book Reviews and More by Kathy, BFD Book Blog, Mikky’s World of Books, MM Good Book Reviews, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Bayou Book Junkie, The Hat Party, Jessie G. Books, The Jena Wade, Christy Loves 2 Read, Inked Rainbow Reads, Molly Lolly, TTC Books and More, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Iyana Jenna, Andrew Q. Gordon, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Ogitchida Book Blog, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Reviews by Jessewave, Velvet Panic

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Redemption’.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Prizes and link provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
Rafflecopter Code:
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Books in the Diversion Series in the order they were written and should be read for character development, and plot development (not standalone stories):

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A MelanieM Review: Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2) by R.J. Scott

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When the people you trusted turn on you, when you are the last one standing, should you take your secrets to the grave? Or make the murderers pay?

Last Marine Standing coverJapan 2004.   Marine Recon Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Jackson and his team are sent in to rescue two kidnapped children of a Congressman.  It was a horrifying mission that was to have a lasting impact  on Mac and  Samuel Larson , one of two siblings held captive.  Now ten years later, both men are dramatically different, changed forever in ways neither could have anticipated.

Mac Jackson is now a former Marine having been discharged on a disability.  His former team has been deactivated, with one dead from a mission gone wrong. Mac is in hiding, from himself and the world around him.  Until it appears that someone high up in the government is targeting the remaining members of his team.

Samuel Larson is now a park ranger, a surefire way to remove himself from his father’s world and influence.  But Sam has never forgotten the man who saved him and saw  him through the worst time of his young life.  When his best friend Aiden and his Marine lover, Viktor, finally look to have their HEA, Sam realizes that he needs to find the man who means so much to him and tell him so. But Sam never expects a simple journey to say thank you to turn into a mission of danger and deceit.  Once more its up to Mac to keep not only Sam safe and alive, but himself as well.  As the bullets fly, Mac’s inner barriers fall.  Now only if they can survive to see if they can have their own HEA.

When I got my first glimpse of RJ Scott’s Samuel Larson in A Reason to Stay (Heroes #1), he was a character that left little impression upon me.  Aiden’s best friend and all around good guy, Sam came off as bland.  Kind, a friend with benefits sort of to Aiden, Sam felt more like a “filler” character than one necessary for the story.  But RJ Scott had plans for Sam, ones that included an horrific event from his past that would help explain the man we met in the first Heroes book.

Without revealing too much detail, Sam and his sister were kidnapped by terrorists overseas, a horrific event made all the more heinous by Sam’s treatment by his captors.  The first part of Last Marine Standing takes place in Japan, the year 2004.  Mac’s Recon team is about to rescue  Sam and his 14 year old sister.  RJ Scott makes the reader feel every moment of this heart-stopping and heartbreaking event.  Using spare prose and tightly woven scenes of action, the mission jumps to life as does the aftermath as it falls so differently upon the rescued teens.  Trust me when I say these pages have staying power.   So much so that its easy to understand Sam and the man he has become when the narrative picks up ten years later in August 2014.

The contrast between the adolescent Sam and the mature Sam sees a young man who needs to put certain parts of his past behind him. That includes finally telling the men who saved him, one Marine in particular, thank you.  Far from the bland, undisturbed surface individual we saw in Heroes #1, this Sam has a large, complicated inner life.  It makes him likable, accessible, and vulnerable.

The man he is searching for is far more wounded, complex and haunted than Sam could ever expect.  Former Marine Recon Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Jackson is a man on the run.  A secret mission cost Mac everything. The wounds he incurred disabled him, releasing him from the Marines, a life he loved. It also cost Mac his fellow Marines, friends who were also his family.  Now secret messages from his former team members are warning him that his life is about to change once more.  Skillfully,  Scott leads us through the complexities of Mac’s past, his memories and feelings, to the uncertainties and mystery that is Mac’s present.  Mac’s honorable Marine is someone the reader connects with immediately.   And the ten years that pass only add to his attraction and strength of personality.

The strong past connection between Sam and Mac is necessary to believe in the pull and depth of their feelings for each other.  Add to that the suspense and action that gives each scene a charged atmosphere of danger and uncertainty, then the heat of their attraction to each other needs no explanation. I loved their burgeoning romance and their need for each other is hot, hot, hot!

I thought the first book in the Heroes series was wonderful, but Last Marine Standing has taken its place as my favorite.  I loved these characters,   the other Marines and the surrounding people and places that make this so memorable.  You could read this as a stand alone but it adds so much to read the stories in the order they were written.  There is another Heroes book on the horizon, Deacon’s Law (Heroes #3) out in January 2015, which sees a return to the Sanctuary universe (ok, its one we never ever truly leave or want to). I can’t wait to see what angst,  action, and, of course, romance  R.J. Scott has in store for us there.

While we are waiting, pick up Last Marine Standing, an action filled, heart stopping tale of love and suspense.   I think you will love it as much as I do.  I highly recommend it and the first story in the Heroes series.  Happy Reading!

Cover artist Meredith Russell does her usual terrific job of capturing the characters and bits of storyline.

Sales Link:   Love Lane Books   All Romance (ARe)  amazon Last Marine Standing

Book Details:

ebook, 211 pages
Published October 8th 2014 by Love Lane Books (first published October 6th 2014)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://rjscottauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/SEALHeroes2.html
seriesHeroes #2

Heroes Series in the order they were written:

A Reason To Stay (Heroes #1)
Last Marine Standing (Heroes #2)
Deacon’s Law (Heroes, #3) to be released January 2015 from Love Lane Books

A Reason To Stay Heroes 1 coverLast Marine Standing coverDeacon's Law Heroes 3 cover

Review: Angel’s Hero (Angel #1) by Liz Borino

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Angel's Hero coverCIA Agent Aaron “Angel” Collins and his Army Captain husband, Jordan Collins. are happy in love and happily married. Then Jordan is shipped off to Afghanistan on a special mission, one that turns deadly.  When Aaron is notified of Jordan’s death by  Jordan’s commanding officers, something just doesn’t feel right.  There is no remains, no concrete proof of Jordan’s death, raising Aaron’s suspicions.   Immediately Aaron sets off to seek out the truth and find out if his husband is still alive.  Major General Troy Hart offers Aaron first his sympathy and then his assistance in Aaron’s investigation.  But does he really believe that Aaron is right or is he merely humoring Aaron?

The truth is Captain Jordan Collins is alive and injured in an Afghanistan prison.  While captive, Jordan learns that he has been betrayed by someone back in the States, someone who just might be high up in his chain of command. When Jordan learns that an order has been issued for his death, he escapes and starts off on a perilous journey back to the States and Aaron.  But who can Jordan trust if  he makes it back home to the man he loves? And is he putting Aaron in danger by returning home?

Angel’s Hero is the first book I have read by Liz Borino.  The first in a series, it introduces us to the main characters, Jordan Collins, an Army Captain of mixed ethnicity (part Korean, part Black), who has become disillusioned with his Army superiors enough to be looking at early out and another career.  His husband, is CIA operative Aaron “Angel” Collins, stationed at CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA.  They met 11 years earlier at meeting of CIA interns and low-level Army officers and clicked even though DADT was still in place.  The time periods fluctuate between years from present time to the past as flashbacks show us how the men meet and fall in love.

The dialog and scenes that play out between the couple are lovely.  I believed in their romance and deep connection and that made the events that followed believably painful and full of anxiety.  What I found less plausible was the conversations Aaron had with his new superior at the CIA and his status as a CIA agent.  His conversations are a constant flow of information about himself, his husband, his husband’s plans upon leaving the military, nothing seems to be held back and this man is not only his new boss but someone who is alarmingly intimate for someone he just met.  Had that been a conversation between two people in any other job it still would have felt too familiar and odd.  But in intelligence officers that are practically strangers?  It never felt convincing and took something away from believing in the author’s world building.

As I said, I liked the characters and the relationship between Aaron and Jordan. That felt easy and loving, just as one would expect from a long established domestic partnership.  But almost immediately, other errors popped up to distract me from the events occurring within the plot. These are blunders that cannot be mistaken for artistic license.  One such example of artistic license would be putting a McDonald’s on a street corner where it doesn’t exist (that occurs here too). It’s entirely possible that a McDonald’s could appear in a new location, so that works even if you are familiar with a neighborhood.

No, I am referring to descriptions or information used as to set a scene that are obviously incorrect.   Here is an excerpt that shows some of the issues found within the story:

July 2013 Bethesda, Maryland.  Aaron inhaled the mixture of pine, leather, cherry blossoms, and the freshness of his husband, Jordan. The cherry blossom scent drifted through the cracked window letting in the July air, and the cruel light streaming through the window implored his eyes to open. Aaron resisted because as soon as he acknowledged the morning, he would have to be responsible. Get up, put on clothes, and take Jordan to the airport where he’d board a plane and disappear for three months. Jordan’s shortest deployment to date, and also the only one Aaron would have no part in.

This paragraph opens the second chapter and two facts jumps out at me immediately as a resident of the Washington DC Metro area.  First is the fact that it is July in the story and the cherry blossoms are blooming.  Now Washington, DC’s (and Bethesda’s) cherry blossoms are world renown.  People all over, especially in China and Japan, plan their vacations to coincide with our Cherry Blossom Festival.  Which happens in April.  Around here everyone breathlessly awaits the NPS announcement that tells the region when to expect the Japanese Cherry trees to start blooming each year.  Some years it is late March, most times it is April.  Never, ever, is it in July.  The second issue is the idea that anyone in this area would open a window in July, letting in the 90 percent humidity and intense heat that July in this region brings.  And unless the scent of pine is from Pinesol, that doesn’t happen at this time of year either.  Both the bloom date of the cherry trees and our temperatures in July are easy to research.  Yet that didn’t happen to the detriment of the story.

For me the best part of the story occurs when Jordan is a prisoner in Afghanistan.  Borino builds up the suspense and precariousness of Jordan’s situation with great descriptions and the addition of Adeela Nadar, a nurse at the prison.  But again, I wondered if a female nurse would have been allowed near male prisoners or any male for that matter.  Over and over, Borino asks the reader to suspend our belief given what we know about the Afghanistan culture and the extreme Islamic beliefs in that region that would allow a woman to work within that environment.  Again it’s a matter of terrific characters versus unrealistic situations.

Other notes made during reading include notations about landing a plane near Bethesda (totally urban, no airport) and finding oneself 10 minutes from home by the street signs.  Or arriving via airplane at an unidentified airport within the Beltway, wounded and without identification and you are not detained? By anyone post 9/11 and Homeland Security?  And that close to Washington, DC, no airports major or local are within 10 minutes of Bethesda, MD.  Unfortunately, all these mistakes pop up at the most inopportune times, yanking this reader out of the story each time such a mistake is mentioned.

The ending is heartbreaking and the emotions it engenders are real.  I liked so much about this story but the errors kept this reader from the total enjoyment that I wanted to feel.  Perhaps if you are not from this area, then the mistakes that occur here won’t bother you or interfere with your reading pleasure as it did mine.

I need to see what happens next as the ending itself is a bit of a cliffhanger.  So on to Angel’s Truth (Angel #2) I go.  If you are new to this series as I am, they should clearly be read in the order they were written.

The Angel series:

Angel’s Hero (Angel #1)
Angel’s Truth (Angel #2)

Cover art by Anthony Walsh.  Lovely cover, and the models work for the characters within.

Book Details:

ebook, 79 pages
Published February 26th 2014 by Lazy Day (first published February 25th 2014)
ISBN 1016125812 (ISBN13: 9781612581248)
edition languageEnglish
seriesAngel #1

Review: Sparks & Drops (The Wheel Mysteries #1) by Susan Laine

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Sparks & Drops coverGus Goodwin, a pagan shopkeeper and owner of the Four Corners’ occult shop, has no idea his life is about to change forever when a man called Valentine walks into his shop.  Sparks start to fly as the mysterious man starts asking questions about the Wicca religion and Gus’ shop.  Then it turns out that Valentine is actually  Niall Valentine, a PI investigating the disappearance of a local witch named Joy and things start to get complicated for both of them.

With Gus involving himself in Niall’s investigation, the two of them encounter one dead witch, and then another.  As the bodies pile up, and fingers begin to point to other witches in the area, Gus and Niall’s relationship takes a serious turn.  With a killer on the loose and the Wiccan community in an uproar, will Gus and Niall find the missing girl alive?  And what will happen to their romance once the case is solved?

Susan Laine, a Fin, wrote this book in part because of a Finish Supreme Court ruling in 2001 that did not recognize Wicca as an “registered religious community” or established religion.  This “hurtful act” inspired this book.  As she wrote in her Acknowledgements “Sparks and Drops was written, in part, to show the life-affirming quality of Wicca and its rituals.”  To that I say, she has succeeded in her goal and given us a  terrific new series in the process.

Sparks & Drops contains so many different elements and combines them admirably.  There is the mystery element as the men investigate first the missing Joy, a woman we get to know in her absence as the investigation deepens.  Then as the murderer strikes, the investigation turns deadly and the suspense ratchets up as the men themselves fall into danger.  Laine superimposes Gus and Niall’s growing romance over her murder mystery, balancing love and the investigation aspect equally.  And importantly for this author, the teachings and rituals of the Wiccan religion flow like the threads of a tapestry throughout the story, pulling it together and highlighting its basic tenants while pointing out many misconceptions.  It all works here and works exceedingly well.

I loved her characters, Gus is intelligent, burning with a zeal to inform about his religion, and still able to remain practical and humorously aware that others might not see it as he does.  When the character gets on his “soapbox”, Gus (and the author) are quick to acknowledge that they are doing so.   That’s a lovely element and one that continues throughout the story.  Niall Valentine is a private detective with an open mind, a vet whose past experiences combine with a need to help others.  His is a character that reveals more and more layers as the  investigation starts to go awry and more people are killed.

We also meet other members of the Wiccan community, ones like Juliette, head witch of her own coven. Susan Laine creates lovely realistic people for her story. I suspect that these people will pop up again as The Wheel Mysteries continues and I can’t wait for those new stories to arrive.

If I had a quibble, it would be with just one aspect of the mystery.  The part where the reader will want to shout out “no…..don’t go there……”.  I still can’t make up my mind if it is in keeping with  the character’s impulses or just a too formulaic part of the mystery. Did it keep me from going a little crazy over what happens next?  No, it did not.  There are still plenty of gut wrenching roller coaster moments to come!

So bring on the next mystery.  I can’t wait to see what happens next to Gus and Niall.  I absolutely recommend this to romance and mystery lovers alike.

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is terrific and works perfectly for the story.

Book Details:

ebook, 170 pages
Published November 20th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published November 19th 2013)
ISBN 1623800730 (ISBN13: 9781623800734)
edition language English

Review: Kick Start (Dangerous Ground #5) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Kick Start coverSpecial Agents Will Brandt and Taylor MacAllister have both left the DSS (Department of Diplomatic Security) after the events in Paris and now operate their own security agency.  But things are not going  particularly well for them, either in their business or relationship.  Will and Taylor’s business is lacking clients and they are running out of money to keep afloat.  Taylor isn’t happy that Will made the decision to quit and go out on their own without consulting him . Now it’s the Brandts that come calling and Will is expected home at his parents house as his younger brother isabout to ship out as a  Marine and wants to spend time with him.  The problem?  Will hasnt’ told his family that he is gay and that his partner, Taylor, is his partner is all ways.

This trip home promises to be anything but a happy visit home.   There is an “Cousin Dennis” staying with Will’s parents who isn’t his cousin and a past felon looking for revenge at Christmas time.  Could things get any worse?  Will and Taylor are about to find out while trying to save their business and their relationship.

Kick Start is the fifth book in the Dangerous Ground series by Josh Lanyon and the pairing of Taylor MacAllister and Will Brandt return in rare form in a story that finds the men on rocky ground, professionally and emotionally.  Since the first installment, Dangerous Ground, the road to love and a relationship has been a tumultuous one.  Special Agents and partners for the Department of Diplomatic Security, their friendship changes with one confession of love from Taylor who is then wounded hours later.  While Taylor has always known of his passion for his coworker, it took Will a much longer time to arrive at the same conclusion, both about his feelings towards Taylor and his sexuality.  Up and down, over but never quite out, these two men have doggedly pursued criminals with the same fervor they save for each other.   Now Josh Lanyon picks up their romance after the events of Dead Run (Dangerous Ground #4) and deepens the issues for these men by separating them (by their choice) from the agency they worked for and placing them on uncertain ground with a new company that’s floundering and trying to set the parameters for their personal relationship.  In Kick Start, these men have never been better.

Josh Lanyon returns to this series and his characters and infuses it with high energy and his trademark humor.  I have always been especially fond of Will and Taylor and have enjoyed watching their relationship deepen and grow despite all obstacles thrown at them including ones they have created themselves.  In Kick Start, Lanyon forces the men to confront the issues facing them, both about their floundering business as well as the problems surfacing in their romance.  And there is no better time for stress and reflection than visiting the in-laws, especially when they don’t know they are the in-laws.  Returning Will to the Brandt home, Lanyon affords the readers a glimpse into Will’s home life and his relationship with the town he grew up in as well as his younger brother.  I thought that the dynamics between Grant and Will were very authentically crafted.  Grant the younger brother forever in his famous older brother’s shadow, a little resentful as well as adoring.  And then he finds out that Will is gay, shattering his image of his brother and making him realize that there was an essential part of Will he never. The resultant sibling explosion feels real in every aspect as does Will’s talk with his father.

Added to the changed family dynamics and their own evolving relationship, Lanyon starts throwing in complication left and right, including a local family of ne’er–do–wells called the Dooleys who just insist on causing their own brand of trouble.  The author is clearly having fun with this surly,unkempt band of brothers:

One of the yahoos, dressed in woodland camo — complete with matching bandana — crawled out of the truck window and jumped to the ground.

“Is Brandt here?” he yelled. He was a big man. Some of it was muscle, some of it was flab, a lot of it was hair. Long black hair and long black beard. Altogether, it amounted to a sizeable and sturdy form.

Taylor relaxed. Not that he had really thought this was some country cousin branch of the mob come hunting Cousin Dennis, but life could be weird. He called back, “Nope. Anything I can do for you?”

“Who are you?”

“Who wants to know?”

The guy said impatiently, “I want to know.”

I’m Larry; this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl. Taylor bit back an inappropriate smile. First rule of visiting the in-laws: No laughing at the local wild life.

“And you are —?”

“Going to kick your ass if you don’t tell me what I want to know!” The big man drew himself up as though readying for battle.

Really? Taylor sighed.

The weary sound carried in the sharp, crystalline air and Larry looked a little discomfited.

You know this is just not going to end well for the Dooleys, as nothing ever does.  It’s humorous and it contains media references that bring up sharp images that just snap  a portrait of the Dooleys immediately into place.  A lovely bit of character shorthand that Lanyon excels in.

Of course, there are gunshots, car chases and several inexplicable turn of events, including one very incompetent sleuth, that should carry over into the next novel in the series.  You will find yourself  reading along at a fast clip to keep up with all the action.  It’s that fast paced, full of snappy dialog, a couple of mysteries, and of course, the love between Will and Taylor that just grows better and better.  This is really my favorite of the series  to date.

If you are new to the series, go back to the beginning, Dangerous Ground, for your first introductions to  Will and Taylor at the start of their relationship.  For those fans of the series, I know you found Kick Start a welcome way to finish out 2013.  I can only hope that it won’t be as long a time before we see another Dangerous Ground story from this wonderful author.

Books in the Dangerous Ground series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events that occur (the first four books preceded the start of my review blog):

Dangerous Ground (Dangerous Ground #1)
Old Poison (Dangerous Ground #2)
Blood Heat (Dangerous Ground #3)
Dead Run (Dangerous Ground, #4)
Kick Start (Dangerous Ground, #5)

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 30th 2013 by Just Joshin (first published November 29th 2013)
original title Kick Start
edition language English
series Dangerous Ground