Book Blast: On Tour with Lou Sylvre’s Vasquez and James (contest)

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LovingLukiVasquezLgDelsynsBluesLGFindingJackieLGSavingSonnyJamesLGYesLGBecause of Jade 400x600

 Who is Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James?  

One of the hottest, complex couples around in M/M fiction.  Luki Vasquez, of Hawaiian and Basque descent, has a tortured past and a present as a former law enforcement agent.  Sonny Bly James is a Yakama  native american living in Port Clifford, Washington and a fiber artist of renown.  He too arrives with a past strewn with pain and problems.  Together they form one of the most fascinating and continually evolving couples around.   All thanks to their creater, Lou Sylvre, who just happens to be here today to give away an entire set of the Vasquez and James books!

Read the blurbs and excepts and don’t forget to enter the contest by the Rafflecopter link provided!

This is a must read series. On to my interview with Lou Sylvre.

STRW:    Your Vasquez and James series now includes 6 stories….is there more to come?

Lou Sylvre:  No, I think not. A few people have asked me to write another book, and I considered it, but basically, when I wrote Because of Jade, I felt that at last Luki and Sonny had found a true HEA, and I’ve decided to stick with that. There may be a short story or similar at some time, but the series is filled to the brim I think. They will be secondary characters, however in upcoming spinoffs.

STRW:    What it is about these men and their relationship that has compelled you to continue to write about them?

Lou Sylvre:  They’ve demanded it, in one way or another. I do prefer to read series, and for probably the same unexamined reasons prefer to write them as well, so I did know it would be a series—but I’d expected three or four books, not six. Except for Loving Luki Vasquez, which grew out of the characters that presented themselves to me, each book has been the one that was needed to resolve something in the previous one and carry the love story to its next level. None of the books were the ones I’d planned, but the big surprises were the novella, Yes, and the final book, Because of Jade. Still, once the series was complete, it feels to me like those books, as well as the others, were inevitable from the very start.

STRW:   Sonny James is a textile artist.  Are you a weaver yourself?  If not?  Why make Sonny a textile artist?

Lou Sylvre:  I’ve done quite a bit with textiles—sewing, quilting, a lot of crochet—but other than some very basic baskets and some lap weaving, years ago, and bead weaving until my eyesight made that nearly impossible, I’ve not done any weaving. I knew a woman once (who is actually mentioned briefly in Delsyn’s Blues), who was very accomplished with the loom. I remember visiting her and seeing a partially finished blanket she was weaving using a vivid red, a dye she made from cochineals which she kept in her freezer. It was a long while ago—late 70’s I think, and at the time I had a Judy Collins lp with a song that spoke of a weaver, in whose hands “traveled” bright red and other colors. The image stayed with me always, along with the music, and somehow a path in my mind led me to apply it to Sonny. I always knew he was an artist, accomplished, learned, and completely in love with his medium and tools. He’s perfect as a weaver.

STRW:   Weaving, knitting (my love) are incredibly tactile, the textures are as much a passion as the colors.  What is your passion?

Lou Sylvre:  I am passionate about so many things, but I won’t bore you with the list. At this juncture in my life, I’ve put my passion for language first. Prose more than poetry, but definitely informing the meaning with sound, rhythm, and color. I don’t mean saying blue, I mean using words that convey blue, and making them fall in the right place with the right emphasis. I work mostly with every day words rather than hunting up new ones in a thesaurus. I also, conveniently enough, have a passion for story—especially fiction. I enjoy facts, but fiction is where I find deeper truth. And, story and language enrich my interactions with people, and that’s a passion, too.

STRW: Did you have a muse for Vasquez and James or a muse overall?

Lou Sylvre:  Luki Vasquez and Sonny James were (are) my muses for their series, and of course Jade played muse, too, when she came into the picture. And characters do generally act the muse for me, simply because my fiction is strongly character driven. Other than that, engagement with the world around me is the closest thing I have to a muse.

STRW: How much of yourself and your experiences are poured into either Sonny or Luki  or both?

Lou Sylvre:  Really, it’s impossible to say. Although it can truly be said on the one hand that every character is their author, once they come into being they become individuals that don’t necessarily resemble me. I rarely use actual life experiences as a source for my stories, but I know that pieces of my psyche resonate with my characters’ traits and stories. Often, I don’t discover that resonance until during or even long after I’ve written it.

STRW:   Do you see yourself writing in other genres other than contemporary fiction?

Lou Sylvre:  Certainly. Under other names, I’ve written fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, even horror, and Lou Sylvre will undoubtedly visit some of those. I even have some sci-fi I want to write.

STRW:    What do you find sexy in a man?

Lou Sylvre: As a bisexual woman, I have to say that what I find sexy in a man is generally the same thing I find sexy in a woman. It’s a little hard to pin it down to a description, but the women and men I’ve been strongly attracted to in life are people who resemble each other a lot, in manner and their way of moving through the world. Probably I would find them sexy regardless of gender. The best words I can find to describe the primary traits? A kind of strength, ownership of their body, ability to connect, empathize, and able to generate in me a feeling of sanctuary. Physical traits—grace, often tall stature, I love shoulders and hands, the chest (male and female), and hip bones. Etcetera. I find physical flaws that reflect a person’s story, such as scars or a crookedly healed collarbone, enhance a sexy look rather than detract. And, every lover I’ve had has owned a different, singular physical trait that flew me to the moon.

STRW:    Do you have favorites among the characters you write and if so which one?

Lou Sylvre:  Oh, I always feel so guilty answering this question! Yes, I’ll admit, I have favorites. In the Vasquez and James series, Luki is it. If you wonder why, consider my answer to question eight, and read the books. Sonny is like a willow, he bends with the storms, and sends up new shoots to cope with loss. Luki is freaking ironwood. If life is strong enough to wound him, the healing is slow and must be deliberate, but once healed, he will never break in that way again.

STRW:   What’s next up for Lou Sylvre?

Lou Sylvre:  Next is A Shot of J&B, a spinoff from Vasquez and James featuring Jackie Vasquez and Brian Harrison who encountered each other in Finding Jackie. It is suspense/romance, like V&J, but ventures into BDSM light—D/s and rope kink, and Brian and Jackie are very different people from Luki and Sonny.

I also have a completely different type of novel in the works, co-writing with Anne Barwell. It’s Scottish historical set in two times, the early 17th century and mid-18th, and has a strong twist of magical realism.

STRW:  Thank you! This was a great interview.  I loved Jackie and Brian and can’t wait to see what you have in store for them both!

Author Bio:

Lou Sylvre hails from southern California but now lives and writes on the rainy side of Washington State. When she’s not writing, she’s reading fiction from nearly every genre, romance in all its tints and shades, and the occasional book about history, physics, or police procedure. Not zombies, though. Her personal assistant is Boudreau, a large cat who never outgrew his kitten meow. She plays guitar (mostly where people can’t hear her) and she loves to sing. She’s usually smiling and laughs too much, some say. She also loves her family, her friends, the aforementioned Boudreau, a Chihuahua named Joe, and (in random order) coffee, chocolate, sunshine, and wild roses.

 

Visit her at http://www.sylvre.com or contact her at lou.sylvre@gmail.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouSylvre

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLouSylvre

Twitter: @sylvre

Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

LukiBadgeBlurb(s):

Vasquez-James Series Book Blurbs

Vasquez and James Series Blurb

Professional badass Luki Vasquez and weaver Sonny James meet for the first time in Loving Luki Vasquez, and they might make a sizzling couple if they can ever get past the impulse to run the other way every time romance comes into view. Then again, they have to stay alive if they’re ever to see their wedding day, and tribulation, cruelty, and greed has a way of demanding attention at all the worst moments. Together, they pack a lot of resources to fight for love. If they can hold out, they just might win the enduring love and family they were meant to share.

 

 

 

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Loving LukiBlurb(s):

Loving Luki Vasquez – (Vasquez and James Book One)

Reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James controls every color and shape in his tapestries, but he can’t control the pattern of his life—a random encounter with Luki Vasquez, ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, makes that perfectly clear. The mutual attraction is immediate, but love-shy Sonny has retreated from life, and Luki wears his visible and not-so-visible scars like armor. Neither can bare his soul with ease.

While they run from desire, they can’t hide from the evil that hunts them. After it becomes clear that a violent stalker has targeted Sonny, Luki’s protective instincts won’t let him run far, especially when Sonny’s family is targeted as well. Whether they can forgive or forget, Sonny and Luki will have to call a truce and work together to save Sonny’s nephew and fight an enemy intent on making sure loving Luki Vasquez is the last mistake Sonny will ever make.

 

Excerpt:

Vasquez and James Short Excerpts

Loving Luki Vasquez

Single Whip led into White Crane Spreads Its Wings, the name of which made Sonny adorably… all right fine, adorably happy. The sequence involved motions that at first felt counterintuitive. Like probably every student in the centuries tai chi had been around, Sonny needed help with it. As he would with any other student, Luki stood behind him, using his own hands to guide Sonny through the move. He wondered if he could get away with teaching him all the rest of the moves in just that way. Perhaps for hours. Every day. For a long time.

As he was teaching and wondering and probably even almost smiling, a wind rose up, splashing spray and sand and whipping Sonny’s long hair at Luki’s face and right into his mouth. On the word “open,” appropriately enough.

Sonny spun around, gathering up his luxurious baked-earth red hair. Before Luki had a chance to close his mouth, Sonny kissed him. A passionate, seeking sort of kiss. A kiss that Luki instinctively returned, though kissing wasn’t a large part of his intimate life, and especially not kissing on the beach.

As suddenly as he started it, Sonny ended it, leaving Luki bereft… frustrated and bereft.

Sonny turned away, refusing eye contact. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that.” Without any further explanation, he stepped away.

Luki knew fear, could spot it from afar and pick it out in a crowded room. Right now, it ran hot through Sonny’s veins. He reached for Sonny’s arm. “Sonny, what….” What are you afraid of? He ended the question silently. Sonny had already gone.


 

 

DelsynsBluesLGBlurb(s):

Delsyn’s Blues – (Vasquez and James Book Two)

Sonny James and Luki Vasquez are living proof that the course of love never runs smoothly. Ambushed by grief, Sonny listens to a voice singing the blues from beyond the grave. While revisiting the sorrows and failings of his past, in the here and now he puts up a wall against love. Just when Luki chips through that barricade, the couple becomes the target of a new threat from outside: an escalating and unexplainable rash of break-ins and assaults.

Thoughts of infidelity rise between them, a threat that may strain their newly mended love past its limits. To come through the trials alive and together, Luki and Sonny will have to unite against enemies who were once friends and overcome crippling hatred and overwhelming fear. If they succeed, maybe then they can rekindle the twin flames of passion and love.

 

Excerpt:

Delsyn’s Blues

As he wandered through his bare rooms, Luki traded the perfect, flawlessly tailored clothing he usually wore even at leisure and donned tattered jeans and a faded flannel shirt. Just what Sonny would have worn, and it helped keep Sonny alive in his mind, a man rather than a thin shade. He’d look a lot better than me wearing this, he told himself, padding over the hardwood floor to the only room in the house he ever smoked in, wondering on the way when the floor had become so cold. Once he got there, he switched on the silent fans and the omnidirectional heat, sank into the leather of the only easy chair in the house, and lit up. In his mind, he could hear Sonny clearly, as if his lover stood right next to him. Or sat by him on their love seat. Or sat on the floor at his knees making drawings for a tapestry he would weave so resplendent the world would probably weep. “You should quit,” he’d say.

Luki knew he should quit. Knew that cigarettes… cigarettes and hamburgers were the only flaws in his otherwise perfect health regime. Smoking would someday, probably soon, take a toll. Perversely, when he met Sonny he’d started smoking more than ever before, just because Sonny’s existence in the world nudged him off his solitary perch, the place where he seemingly rose above the world of emotion and let other men into his life only occasionally to practice his skills at cold but perfectly executed sex. With Sonny? Anything but cold. Although still close to perfect. He smiled at the memory of Sonny’s surprised looks when Luki showed him something new, something that, in all his gay years, he’d never felt.

“Luki, please,” he’d say.

 

 

 

FindingJackieLGBlurb(s):

Finding Jackie – (Vasquez and James Book Three)

Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James finally have their Hawaiian wedding, and it’s perfect, almost. But their three-phase honeymoon is riddled with strife. Luki’s status as a working badass spells discord for the newlyweds. A former informant from Luki’s days with ATFE brings a troubling message (or is it a warning?) from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is lured into capture and torture by a sadistic killer, the honeymoon is well and truly over.

The couple put aside their differences and focus on the grueling hunt, which takes them from leather bars to dusty desert back roads, and calls on Sonny’s deep compassion as well as Luki’s sharpest skills. Their world threatens to fall apart if they fail, but their love may grow stronger than ever if they succeed in finding Jackie—before it’s too late.

 

Excerpt:

Finding Jackie

“You know what, Titus? I don’t want to kill him.” Marcone swept a hand against the cool silk-soft wood of his desktop, thinking of Nadia’s skin. His heart had started beating faster. “I want to show Vasquez why he shouldn’t have been part of anything that screwed with the Marcone name, why he should have made haste to take his fag lover far away the minute he saw there were Marcones involved. This isn’t the first time we’ve opposed one another, but this is the first and will be the last time he’s deliberately involved himself in smearing shit all over my name. I’d have forgiven him everything that came before he realized who Richard and Marina were, if only he’d gone east at that point, instead of racing back west to stick his guns in where they didn’t belong. And I want him to keep remembering, keep feeling the pain he earned with that fuckup, keep that pain with him for years. For the rest of his life.”

“Yes,” Titus breathed, his voice gone low and distant.

“And that won’t be hard either, Titus. I’ve been doing my homework—keeping a watch on him through a variety of sources. He’s got people, and for all his hardass ways, his heart’s like a sponge.”

Titus took a quick breath, and spoke without inflection. “I love people like that.”

The DA’s brows rose, and he smiled. “I know you do, my man. I know you do.”

 

SavingSonnyJamesLGBlurb(s):

Saving Sonny James – (Vasquez and James Book Four)

Luki Vasquez and his still newlywed husband are back home after pulling off a harrowing desert rescue of their teenage nephew Jackie. But the events of the last couple of years have begun to catch up with Luki—loving Sonny James and letting Sonny love him back has left gaps in his emotional armor. In the gunfight that secured Jackie’s rescue, Luki’s bullet killed a young guard, an innocent boy in Luki’s mind. In the grip of PTSD, memories, flashbacks, and nightmares consume him, and he falls into deep, almost vegetative depression.

Sonny devotes his days to helping Luki, putting his own career on hold, even passing up a European tour of galleries and schools—an opportunity that might never come again. But when Luki’s parasomnia turns his nightmares into real-world terror, it breaks the gridlock. Sonny realizes what he’s doing isn’t working, and he says yes to Europe. Enter Harold Breslin, a dangerously intelligent artist’s promoter and embezzler whose obsessive desire for Sonny is exceeded only by his narcissism. When Harold’s plan for Sonny turns poisonous, Luki must break free of PTSD and get to France fit and ready in time to save his husband’s life.

Excerpt:

Saving Sonny James

Almost whispering, breathing in fearful sounding gasps, Sonny said, “Luki, I want you to fuck me…. No. No, I want you to make love to me.” He looked away then back to meet Luki’s eyes, brow lowered with worry. “Luki, I know—”

“Sh! Hush, baby.” Luki kissed the tender arch of Sonny’s foot—the rest of him being out of reach. He looked at Sonny and nodded. “Yes. I want that too.” […] With all the power of his mind, he blocked out the things that would get in the way of him loving Sonny—had been getting in the way for weeks. And with all the power of his heart, he focused everything on his husband, his love. His breath beginning to come faster, biting his lip for stability, he rose on one knee and moved toward his husband.

His hands wanted to wander over Sonny’s skin, and he let them. Let them follow the long slender curves of Sonny’s legs, his inner thighs. When he reached his sex, he framed his husband’s familiar and much-missed cock and balls with his hands, but he didn’t touch them. He let Sonny see the smile in his eyes as he instead moved his hands up over hip bones and belly and abs and pecs with their hard puckered centers of dark, sensitive flesh. Once he reached the chiseled shoulders, he lifted Sonny and pressed him against his own chest. And then he took his lips in a kiss like fire.

 

YesLGBlurb(s):

Yes – (A Vasquez and James Novella)

Professional badass Luki Vasquez and textile artist Sonny James have been married for five years, and despite the sometimes volatile mix, they’re happy. From their first days together, they stood united against deadly enemies and prevailed. But now the deadly enemy they face is the cancer thriving inside Luki, consuming his lungs.

As Luki’s treatment proceeds, Sonny hovers near, determined to provide every care, control every thread of possibility just as he does when he weaves. But he can’t control the progress of the cancer or how Luki’s body reacts to the treatment regime. Sonny tries, but Luki dances with cancer alone—until he gets a startling reminder of the miracle of life. With renewed determination and mutual love, the two men emerge from their coldest winter into a new spring day.

 

Excerpt:

Yes (A Vasquez and James Novella)

[Luki] woke up in profound darkness, aware of Sonny still beside him, but held rigid now while small, strangled noises escaped from deep in his throat. Even if it hadn’t been for the give-away sniffle, Luki would have known. Sonny was crying. Not that “I’m sad” kind of crying that was more a glorified pout. No. Sonny fought for all he was worth not to let a sob fly loose. His heart had a great big, hurting hole in the middle of it, and Luki had put it there, and still Sonny tried to protect him. If he couldn’t stop from crying, by God at least he’d do it quietly and let Luki sleep. But he and Luki had loved too long, too deep, too close for Luki not to hear it anyway, to register it even in his sleep, and understand. And feel it, too, like what Sonny felt.

Luki rolled over and put his arms around the man who, when all was said and done, he loved and would love forever.

 

Because of Jade 400x600Blurb(s):

Because of Jade – (A Vasquez and James Novel)

Luki Vasquez receives the news he’s still cancer free after five years, and he wants to celebrate with his whole family. He and his husband, Sonny James, take a road trip south, intending to gather at the home of his nephew Josh, Josh’s wife Ruthie, and Jade—a little girl who was still in the womb when she and her mother helped Luki beat lung cancer.

Halfway to their destination, Luki learns Josh and Ruthie have met a tragic death. The horrible news lays Luki low, but he pulls himself together in time to be the family’s rock and see to the dreaded business of tying up loose ends. The most important business is Jade, and when Luki and Sonny head home, they take Jade with them.

Luki and Sonny must combat self-doubt and fear and help each other learn to parent an unexpected child—and they must also nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s spurious claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril.

Excerpt:

Because of Jade

Later, while Sonny and Jade lay on the floor in front of the fire, and Sonny read Merry Christmas, Mr. Snowman! over and over, Luki paced. He stopped occasionally to look out the window, and just as the sky began to lighten he saw that snow had begun to fall, big flakes touching down soft as feathers to cover the lumpy, frozen ground near the house.

Luki turned around to share the wonder of snow with his family, but they had at last fallen asleep stretched flat on the floor on their stomachs—Jade because of her injuries and Sonny because of his aching back. Luki shook his head and smiled, surprised at how much he loved them even though he knew. He threw some wood on the fire and banked it and fetched a light but warm down comforter and a pillow from the bedroom. Laying himself down next to them, he covered them all three, let his head fall to the pillow, and found first peace, and then sleep.

 


LukiBadge
Tour Dates/Stops:

7/18 – The Hat Party, Kimi-Chan

7/25 – Rainbow Gold Reviews, The Novel Approach

8/1 – Hearts on Fire, MM Good Book Reviews

8/8 – Prism Book Alliance, Tara Lain, Fallen Angel Reviews

8/15 – Smoocher’s Voice, Love Bytes

8/22 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Nephylim

8/29 – LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Book Reviews and More by Kathy

9/5 – Amanda C. Stone, Emotion in Motion

 

Sales Links:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=551

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_7?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lou+sylvre&sprefix=Lou+Syl%2Cstripbooks%2C234

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=series&qString=Vasquez+%26amp%3B+James+Series

 

Contest:  The prize for Lou Sylvre’s Book Tour Vasquez and James tour is a Series Book Pack.  Must be  18 years of age or older to enter.  Visit the link below for contest details and entry form.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Roughstock: Tag Team – Fais Do Do by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Tag Team- Fais Do Do coverLandon Gaudet, also known as Nutbutter, is a little Cajun with a huge heart.  A horse whisperer, loyal friend and brother, a man of all trades at the rodeo including bull riding, Landon appears to be a happy person.  But he is missing one thing….his soulmate, the man with the three blue circles tattoo his dreams have shown him.  Landon’s twin sister, Lauren, is a well known Cajun healer who lives on their property in the bayou, has seen the man in her prophesies too.  But Landon is unprepared for the reality of the man his dreams has shown him, Adam Taggert.

Adam Taggert, one of the triplet Taggert brothers, is feeling his age.  Over six feet and over thirty, Adam competes with his brother, Chris, in the tag team roping events to accolades and top prizes.  Unlike the others in his group of friends, Adam has never settled on one person to love.  Instead Adam plays the field, moving from one person to another with all the speed of a bronc out of the gate.  His one regret is that he gave up Beau Lafitte, the cajun he lost to bullrider Sam Bell.  Unable to commit at the time, Beau has become Adam’s biggest regret.

At a party on Beau and Sam’s farm, Adam meets Landon and sparks fly.  And what starts out as a fling on Adam’s side starts to turn serious for both of them.  But obstacles, real and imagined, start to pile up and threaten to undo the fledgling relationship and all of Landon’s dreams.   With Adam’s family disapproving of Landon and Adam’s low sense of self worth,  can Landon and his dream of a life with his soulmate become a reality or breakdown under the weight of too much opposition.

Fais Do Do is a Louisiana country dance party and that’s the perfect title for a book about two completely opposite men dancing around each other, hoping for romance and a forever love.  From the opening paragraph, BA Tortuga plunges the reader into Cajun country and the patois of the bayou.  Here the cajun patter flows over the tongues of men such as Beau Lafitte and Landon Gaudet with a fluidity born of the bayou with its deep French origins.  And its not just the parlance, but the culture as well.  From pig roasts to voodoo, from swampy waters to small nut brown men, the Cajun culture (and BA Tortuga’s love for it) is embedded deeply throughout this story and the characters involved.  Here is a excerpt as Adam meets Landon at the party:

“You met Adam?” Sam Bell asked, leading Landon across the yard, the piles of bullriders and their women just filling the place up. Shit, the ropers and the family hadn’t even made an appearance yet. By midnight, the booze and the music would be flowing, and the whole bayou would ring.

Landon did love it here at Beau and Sam’s farm, more than almost anywhere, and Sister was here, Cotton and his gal Em. Even Adrian and Packer.

“No, sir. I mean, I knowed him good, oui? He rides and rides, but I ain’t never spoke to him, me.”

“Safety man. Like him. You.”

Landon nodded. Sam’s words got better every time they chatted together, and Landon was happy for it. Him and Sister, they prayed and lit candles for the man, spent hours on their knees with Maw-Maw’s rosary beads clicking. Sister’d even sacrificed a chicken for healing, pouring the blood out during the new moon to suck the sickness and hurting from Mr. Bell and into the dirt.

His sister was pure hoodoo, witchy as all get out, but he’d never met a better traiteur, or treater. Magical healer. Didn’t reckon he ever would.

“Adam. Cajun. Landon. Tag.”

Landon looked up, the sun bright as a penny, and the glow surrounded a tall, tall cowboy, making the man shine. Landon caught his breath, the universe spinning.

His dream. Shit fire and save matches. Ever since he’d been a boy, he’d done dreamed of this very second. Right here. Right now. The cowboy would have a light blue shirt on, a belt buckle from a 1999 roping championship. There’d be a tattoo on the inside of the man’s wrist when he went to shake — three blue circles ina row, touching. This was his cowboy. His family. The one meant to be his amant.

His. “Hey, kid.” Kid. Like he was some petit fils. “Comme ça?” “C’est bon.” Oh, the man knew some Cajun, did Adam. Landon held a hand out, and, sure as shit came from a goose’s ass, there was that ink on the man’s wrist, permanent. Three blue circles in a row. One. Two. Three.

This one was his, deep down. In his body cells. “Pleased. You want a beer?”

Adam smiled at him, eye lines wrinkling up like to catch the sunlight. “You legal to drink, boy?”

“Shee-it. I reckon.”

To drink. To fuck. To dance. To catch him the cowboy the bon Dieu offered to him.

He wasn’t no child. Not no more.

Adam looked him up and down, one eyebrow arching. “Well, then. C’mon. We’ll have us a couple three beers before things get crazy. These Cajuns, they’re nuts.”

“We is, us, for sure.” It wasn’t a bad thing, though. It was just a true thing.

You had to be crazy to love it here in the swamps.

Reading that passage you can almost hear the honey slow dialect of a man of the bayou, with hope in his heart for this man and their future.  Such a lovely way to start this story, with a dance, some beer and hope.  But as the author also grounds her characters in reality, any path to a commitment and love is going to be a long and complicated one, especially between two men so opposite each other, both on the social register and in outlook.

As with all her Roughstock stories, Tortuga brings in a number of elements to supplement the main romantic storyline.  Present are Beau Lafitte and Sam Bell.  Sam who is dealing with a near death accident in the rodeo arena, is still in recovering with his brain injuries.  Beau is trying to adjust to a difference in their relationship and Sam.  Coke Pharris, renowned bullfighter and his lover, Dillon Walsh, rodeo clown are involved with this group too.   All of these men have intermingled past histories, including that of Adam and Beau before he fell in love with Sam.  It helps to have read the core books in the Roughstock series because that will give the reader a foundation of knowledge with regard to this ever enlarging group of friends and coworkers.

It also helps to have some knowledge of a rodeo and the various events and jobs that go along with it.  Otherwise, a “safety”, the role of a clown or bullfighter, and other sundry terms and positions might fly over the readers head.  But if you have even a remote idea of the rodeo world,  then this series and book will make you want to fly out to the nearest event and climb into the stands for a better looksee at the men and animals that compete on a daily basis.  BA Tortuga has this universe down pat, and through these men, the reader will get an authentic feel for the hardship and passion the ropers and riders have for their  sport.

Tag Team – Fais Do Do has a couple of aspects to its story that might make people either uncomfortable or bogged down in the narrative.  There is some heartfelt angst that one character in particular will have to endure.  And it will be caused by the one person who is capable of inflicting such pain.  For some, it will lessen their connection to this character and that would be unfortunate.  Because I do feel that this is a pretty realistic if unpleasant viewpoint and might not be an uncommon as some would think in southern (or any) society.

The other is the colloquialisms or vernacular spoken by Beau, Landon or Laurel Gaudet, “Sister” as she is known.  It is pretty thick, just as musical and full of french words and phrases, enough to confound anyone not familiar with the Cajun dialect.   Here is Landon and Sister in their home:

“Bubba?”

Landon looked over at Sister, who was busily stirring the eggs. “Yes, ma’am?”

“You gon’ go be with him forever and leave me here alone, you think?”

His heart said he was in love with Adam, but Landon said what he knew to be true. “Sister, I ain’t never onced left you. Never once for always. I will take care of you ‘til the Rapture.”

They were twins. He wasn’t about to leave her with no way to take care of herself, and he needed to see her face. Half of him was missing when she wasn’t there.

Her dark eyes looked relieved, and she found a smile for him. “You think your man will like me?”

“Why wouldn’t he? You’re…” He searched for the right word, but fuck if he didn’t know one. “Laurel.”

She laughed, whacking him with one hand. “Uh-huh. Tell me about him.”

“Oh, lady, he’s fine. Tall and strong with these eyes like chips of rock and he can ride…” He sighed, seeing his cowboy up in the saddle, moving like Adam was one with the horse, like the wind itself.

“I knew he had to love horses.” She grinned, eyes dancing.

“He’s a cowboy. A real cowboy, not just a bullrider.” “Oh, Bubba. You have it so bad.” He put down the tack he’d been repairing for Albert and

looked over, serious as a heart attack. “He’s it, Adam. For me. I been dreaming on him my whole life. I ain’t sure I’mhis one. I fear that was Mr. Beau.” Laurel shook her head, dark hair all wild and loose. “Mr.

Beau was made to comfort Sammy in the black times, Bubba. I know that.”

Landon shrugged. “Sure. I know that, but we don’t know God, not for true. I think maybe he has a mean streak, giving people to the wrong folks. Mr. Beau is a good man, a Cajun.”

“Maybe your man, he just is a little stupid, eh? Maybe he got him some Cajuns crossed.” Laurel put her spoon down, came to him with open arms, hugging on him hard. “God ain’t mean, not a bit. The Devil, he’s a trickster and a liar and he fools folks, but God loves him us. I know that.”

“I want to believe that, Sister.” He rested his head on her, eyes closing.

“Then quit fighting it and do so.” She patted his back, her hands warm, and he could see why people came to her for the healing. Her touch felt soothing, and her voice held the surety of an angel who’d seen God’s face.

“Witchy woman.”

“Yessir, and thank God for it. Someone got to keep you boys whole.”

“Mmm.” He hugged her tight, absorbing some of her strength. “We need to get back to cookin’.”

“Yep. Need to make a soft cake for Auntie down the road. We got to pray over her bad tooth. I think it’ll take the both of us.”

He wrinkled his nose. Tooth stuff was always smelly. Still, he always helped when he could. “All right.”

“You’re a good man, Bubba.”

“You think so? I ain’t… You know I ain’t as book learned as all them boys I ride with.”

“Pshaw.” She put a hand over his heart. “You got all you need right here.”

“I sure hope so, Sister. I surely do.”

I love the way it sounds and is used to bring these marvelous characters to life.  But I also recognize that some readers will have trouble with the dialog, making it a barrier to the personalities instead of a path to who they are as individuals and as a rich culture grounded in geography and history.

My only real quibble is that I felt the resolution of the issues (huge ones) between Landon and Adam came about too easily considering the events that tore them apart.  At 185 pages, the author had plenty of time (and length) to extend the reconciliation out to a reasonable amount of time.   But that is it for quibbles, mostly.  There are some editing issues, with the wrong name used in a sentence when they are clearly talking about another character.  But overlooking those, this is a terrific story as is the series.  Consider this highly recommended.

Cover illustration by A. Squires is perfect for the story and series.  Great job.

Book Details:

ebook, 185 pages
Published September 25th 2013 by Torquere Press
ISBN 161040582X (ISBN13: 9781610405829)
edition language English

Books in the Roughstock series:

Roughstock: Blind Ride — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Give it Time: the Seven of Wands – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: And a Smile — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Doce — A Roughstock Story – Novella, m/m
Amorzinhos — A Roughstock Story – Novela, m/m, threesome
Roughstock: File Gumbo — Season One – Novel, m/m, core
Roughstock: And a Smile — Coke’s Clown – Novela, m/m,
Shutter Speed, A Roughstock Story: the Seven of Pentacles – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: City/Country – Novel, m/f
Roughstock: Picking Roses – Novel, m/f
Needing To: A Roughstock Story – Novella, m/m
Roughstock: Tag Team – Fais Do Do Season Two – Novel, m/m

Upcoming Roughstock Novels
Roughstock: What She Wants – Novel, m/m/f
Roughstock: Terremoto – Season Two- Novel, m/m

Roughstock Shorts:
Cowboy Christmas (Coke and Dillon)
Barbed Wire and Bootheels (Sam and Beau)
Some Good Doctoring (CB and Jonesy) – Free Read

Winners of the Pulp Friction Books Contest

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Pulp Friction 4 covers

Meet us back here in December for the final Pulp Friction guest post of 2013 and the final Pulp Friction review. There will be another giveway or two. You never know. My thanks again to all these remarkable people, Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Laura Harner and of course, Tom Webb for stopping by this week and giving us insight into their characters, their series and of course, Pulp Friction.

Now here are the Winners of the books by day and author:

Monday, Havan Fellows, Wicked’s Way: The winner is penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

Tuesday, Lee Brazil, Chances Are: The winner is Leni (ldinnell@gmail.com)

Wed., Laura Harner, Triple Threat: The winner of Laura’s book is Ashley E (ashley.vanburen@gmail.com)

and drumroll please….

Thur., Tom Webb, City Knight: The winner of Tom’s book is bluesmokey (richards851@sbcglobal.net)

The authors will be contacting their individual winners about the books they have won.  Thanks not only to Laura, Tom, Havan, and Lee but to all the great readers that visited and stopped by to comment.

Coming soon the debut of the next Blue Notes novel, Encore, by Shira Anthony on November 11. Stay turned all month for exciting guests blogs, book contests, and book releases!

Review: Conquer the Flames (Lang Downs #4) by Ariel Tachna

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Conquer The Flames coverThorne Lachlan, a firefighter for the Royal Fire Service, arrives at Lang Downs when a grassfire brings him onto the station to ask for assistance and prepare them for evacuation if necessary.  A former Commando for the Australian Army, Thorne has retired, beset by nightmares and blackouts, a  victim of PTSD.  Lang Downs is a sheep station unlike any other Thorne Lachlan has been to.  With homey cottages ringed with gardens to the people who live there, Lang Downs starts to cast its spell over a man clearly in need of  both sanctuary and home.

Then Thorne meets Ian Duncan, a long time resident of Lang Downs and the attraction between the men is both immediate and mutual.  But both men are afraid of committments and relationships.  Thorne because he fears he is a danger to all around him because of his PTSD. And Ian? Ian hides a deep secret that he had only told one man, Michael Lang, when he first arrived at Lang Downs at the age of 20. That secret has kept Ian a solitary man among friends on the sheep station, alone with his woodworking and small house.  Still, neither man is capable of staying away from the other and slowly they begin to build a relationship and hopefully a future together.  However, their pasts combine to raise up obstacles to their future.  Thorne and Ian must face down their demons and get the help they have long needed before they can have a future together.

Conquer the Flames is the fourth book in the Lang Downs series and it comes close to being my favorite story yet.  I had to wait several days to think about this review and why so much about this book spoke to me.  And even now I am still not sure I can answer that question with a clear explanation.

In many ways, Conquer the Flames has a slower, deeper feel to the story as well as the men at the heart of the book.  And that’s unusual considering the title and the profession that Thorne has found himself in as a firefighter.  But if you are to continue the analogy, this is much more a slow burn than a fast moving line fire as the basis and the fuel for the flames have a deep foundation in both mens past history and traumatic events.

Once more Ariel Tachna has taken great care in building her characterizations to go with the beautifully created landscape and setting that is Lang Downs.  Thorne is unlike any character that we have met here before.  He is a former Commando whose time in the Army has left him with PTSD.  He has anger management issues, blackouts and nightmares. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the events in his past that sent him running into the Army.  Ian Duncan is also a damaged soul.  His is a deep trauma inflicted in foster care and one he has never recovered from, even 20 years later.  Both men are so marvelously crafted that it never occurred to me to doubt their authenticity or backgrounds.  They feel so real, their problems and issues are so painful that the reader hurts along with them.

Tachna has treated each man’s problems with the gravity necessary when speaking of PTSD and abuse.  She gets the symptoms right as well as the need for outside medical assistance to help each man overcome years of denial and repression.  There are no immediate cures, no easy answers, just the accurate portrayal of time and the hard mental ,emotional work necessary to recovery and healing for each of them.  The author also sidesteps a common flaw when writing about such damaged characters, and that would be a quick sexual relationship and instant love.  Thank goodness none of that is found here.  I think it would have not only ruined the relationship’s credibility but destroyed the story for me as well.

This is a romance but it is a simmering one.  There can be no flashfires between men as hurt and broken as these two.  Instead we get a slow buildup of trust and understanding that is as sweet and fragile as it is satisfying.  Once you read this remarkable love story, you will understand it completely when I tell you I read and reread certain passages just to savor the scene and the emotions that were flowing over the pages. On more than one occasion I had to grab a tissue or two but they were honest tears brought forth by the real emotion and pain felt by Thorne and Ian, and of course the reader.  Just a remarkable job by the author in every respect.

As with the other books in the series, all the other characters, including Caine and Macklin, are here and well represented.  This story takes place five years after the events of Outlast The Night (Lang Downs #3), but the gap of time feels as seamless as the flow of seasons over Lang Downs.  We see the couples settling into their relationships and lives on the sheep station, the young children are getting older and new ones are being born.  And new people have been introduced to the series that just might make their way onto the sheep station just as the others such as Michael’s Lost Boys have found their way there too.

For the characters involved, and for the reader, Lang Downs remains an extraordinary place.  Its a location where once we arrive, we don’t want to leave just like all those people who have found the path to Lang Down and home.  I hope that Ariel Tachna has many more stories planned for this series.  I  intend to be there for each and every one.  I am putting Conquer The Flames on my Best of 2013 list.

Cover art by Anne Cain is as beautiful as the story within.

Books in the Lang Downs series in the order they were written and should be read:

Inherit the Sky (Lang Downs, #1)
Chase the Stars (Lang Downs, #2)
Outlast the Night (Lang Downs #3)
Conquer the Flames (Lang Downs #4)

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 254 pages
Expected publication: September 27th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781627983228
edition language English
series Langs Down

Review: Black Dog (Bannon’s Gym #1) by Cat Grant

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Black Dog coverEddie Roscoe has just arrived at his family’s diner to open up and start preparing for the breakfast run when he sees a young boy and drunk fighting in the back alley.  After breaking it up, Eddie notices the kid’s bruises and other injuries arent’ exactly fresh.  And from the backback the kid was fighting over and the state of the clothes the boy was wearing, Eddie can tell the kid is homeless.  An offer of breakfast and a job brings young Tom into Eddie and his mother’s home and their family.   But it’s another side of Eddie’s life that will bring a measure of safety to Tom as well as bring an old friend back into Eddie’s life.

Eddie Roscoe and Danny Bannon have loved and fought for over 15 years.  But a shared trauma and the resulting guilt has kept them apart and sabotaged every effort they make to reunite.   Now the arrival of Tom Delaney, a teenage runaway, will be the spark that brings them back together and units them in a common cause, that of keeping Tom safe while training him to be a mixed martial arts fighter.

Tom Delaney is young, angry and hurt.  And he has aspects of his past life that he is keeping hidden from those trying to help him, namely Eddie, Danny, and Gloria’s Eddie’s mother.  And when his past, in the form of his abusive father, tracks him down, it will take everyone around him to keep him safe and out of jail.

Black Dog is an emotionally gripping story, one that kept me awake in the wee morning hours until I had finished it.  And that emotional connection is due to Cat Grant’s damaged and vulnerable characters and the situation they find themselves in.  The people she created for Black Dog (and the series) are ones easy to connect with and they engage our sympathies immediately.  First of all, we meet Eddie arriving in his old Ford 150 pickup to open the diner his grandfather started and he now owns with his mother, Gloria.  The scene is vivid, so much so we can almost hear his footsteps sloshing through the puddles of water on the asphalt outside the  diner.   Grant sets not only the tone for the characters in her settings but for the rest of the story as well.  A slightly run down family diner in a neighborhood that has never seen better days, its interior still proclaims its 50’s origin.  And Gloria, Eddie’s constantly smoking mother is recognizable to all who have visited establishments like these.  I absolutely love the character of Gloria Roscoe and some of the finest scenes in this book happen in her presence.

Eddie and Danny are also realistic characters.  Their combined past contains a traumatic event that neither man has dealt with.  It has destroyed their relationship as friends and lovers.  And neither man knows how to get that back or get past the accident that has twisted their lives and emotions.  It’s powerful stuff and Cat Grant delivers their pain and angst to the reader with authenticity and detailed scenes that will resonate with the reader.  Here is a scene from the beginning, with Tom and Eddie at the diner after the fight:

Tom nudged his plate away and burped. Two spots of bright pink popped high on his cheeks. “That was really good. What can I do to pay for it?”

“It’s on the house.”

His eyes widened. “Seriously? I can’t even sweep up or do dishes or something?”

I pulled a quart of waffle batter out of the old green Frigidaire and swung around to study him. Reminded me of me at his age, all quiet intensity with a streak of sheer panic beneath the surface. Just like any other kid forced to strike out on his own. One thing was clear: he came from money. St. Pat’s wasn’t cheap, and nobody got straight white teeth like his without a few years in braces. From the way he spoke, he was no dummy. What was a kid like him doing living on the street?

Maybe I wasn’t born rich, but I knew what he was feeling. That hollowed-out ache inside, the panic and fear of seeing every new person as a potential threat. Where would I be now if no one had offered me a helping hand? And no, one lousy meal didn’t count.

“Leave your stuff in back,” I said. “There’s a broom and an extra apron in the closet. Start with the pantry. It’s a mess in there.”

“Okay.” He sprang up and headed in back, brushing past Gloria, who’d just come up to grab a stack of paper napkins. Her gaze followed him through the swinging doors.

“You sure that’s a good idea?” That was what she always said. And if the bemused tilt of her head was any clue, she knew she wasn’t about to dissuade me.

“If you want to clean up back there, have at it.”

“You and your charity cases,” she said, coughing out a raspy Marlboro laugh and planting a kiss on my cheek.

I’d caught something else in the kid’s eyes too. Frustration, determination, anger. Whatever mixture of emotions that spurred him to deal that drunk a beat down. He’d acted pretty matter of fact about his scrapes and bruises, but those other marks on his face . . . well, he hadn’t gotten them walking into a door.

That is such a telling scene, revealing so much about all the characters involved from Gloria and her ever present cigarettes to the fear in Tom’s eyes. It remarkable and it hooks the reader in emotionally from the start.  We care for these people and we need to know what will happen next.

Black Dog is the first in the Bannon’s Gym series and I hope that these people will form the core of the series as Tom fights his way to the top of the MMA profession. The author makes the gym and those learning to fight there accessible to the reader.  We learn about MMA and the fight training methodology common to the mixed martial arts.  There is a lot of leeway with a gym as a setting in a series and I can’t wait to see how Grant develops this series.

I will admit that I came close to giving this story 5 stars but several aspects prevented that.  The first being a pov that is constantly switching narrators.  I wish Grant has stuck to just Eddie as the pov. He has a singular voice that rendered an intimacy to the narrative that is lost when the pov switches to another character or third person.  If the story and characters had not been as great as they were, this unevenness in style would have brought the rating down even further.  And the other is an awkward sentence that signals the end of the story.  The scene itself works but it needed a little more, whether it was dialog or action, to feel complete.  Still I felt happy at the end and ready for more.  More of Danny, Eddie, Tom and Gloria, and more of Bannon’s gym.

So yes, I highly recommend this story.  Go grab it up and get reading.  I have added Cat Grant to my must have authors list.  I think after this book you will be doing the same.

Cover art is great, love the black and white design and the tone. Perfect for the story

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 82 pages
print book,  130 pages
Published August 2013 by Cat Grant Books
ISBN13 9780989694919
edition language English
series Bannon’s Gym

Martin Luther King, Jr., I Had A Dream speech, and This Coming Week In Reviews

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MLK on the MallIt’s the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech on Wednesday and yesterday tens of thousands of people gathered to commemorate that momentous occassion and to remind  the world that his dream still needs to be fulfilled.   Racism still exists and we as a nation still have such a long way to go for all to be equal under the law and in each other’s eyes.

Just in time for his anniversary, the MLK statue on the memorial was “fixed” so that awful truncated version of MLK’s speech is now gone,  That was just another example of how this man and his message is still misunderstood by some, in this case the Chinese artist and a group of architects responsible for that statue..   IMLK statue am not a fan of that statue.  To me it belongs in Tiananmen Square not Washington DC, it exemplifying the type of statuary so often seen in the communist nations.  Where is the man of passion?  Where is the man of fire and vision?  I don’t see him in the statue but instead look to his speeches where he and his dream will live forever.

Martin Luther King’s “I Had A Dream” speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Now to the week ahead in book reviews.  I have the second series from the Pulp Friction authors and a guest blog from Lee Brazil this week.  I love these series and can’t wait to bring the third one to you the week after next.  That will be the Triple Threat series by Laura Harner.  I also have two books by authors who are always on my TBR list, Astrid Amara and Josephine Myles.  Be sure to grab those up as well.

The weather is exquisite.  Present are those clear blue early autumn skies that make you smile and stay outside until twilight falls.  I heard my first flock of snow geese go trumpeting overhead last night, the first of many that signal an early fall.  The whitetail deer herds are also reforming early.  That would account for the over 15 of them in my neighbors yards last night.  Did it make the terrors three crazy?  Why, yes it did!  As well as every other dog in the neighborhood.  Almost time to start winter proofing my gardens but not just yet.  I will enjoy them for a little longer.  So its time to gather up my Kindle and my knitting (and of course the dogs) and head outside to enjoy the day.   I hope you will enjoy yours too.

Monday, Aug. 26, 2013:                     Fifty Fifty Chances Are by Lee Brazil

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013:                     Ghost of Chances Are by Lee Brazil

Wed., Aug. 28, 2013:                            Author Spotlight: Meet Lee Brazil

Thurs., Aug 29, 2013:                           Demolished by Astrid Amara

Friday, Aug. 30, 2013:                         Handle With Care by Josephine Myles

Sat., Aug. 31, 2013:                              A Summary of Scattered Thoughts August Reviews

Review: Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Sweet Young ThangCollin Montes was instrumental in getting his fraternity, Theta Alpha Gamma, to change their  bylaws and accept gay and bisexual college men into TAG.  Several of the brothers were already out about their sexuality, most notably Brad, so this just instilled in their bylaws the acceptance acknowledged in their close knit fraternity.  But there is even another reason this change means so much to Collin and that is the fact that Collin is also gay.  Collin has kept that fact  hidden from most of his fraternity and his family.  And that includes his Uncle Monty who raised him after his father died when Collin was 5.  Uncle Monty is also the president of the TAG Alumni Association and an influential and powerful man in his own right. Uncle Monty is also a homophobe.  The TAG Alumni Association contributes a heavy sum to the running of TAG and neither Uncle Monty or the rest of the board are happy with the inclusion of Gays and Bisexuals in the fraternity.

When first a water heater is rigged to launch through the ceiling, setting off a fire at the TAG house which injures one of the brothers, and then a bomb is found,  Collin is sure that these are repercussions due to the changes in bylaws at TAG.  One of the paramedics/firemen to arrive at the house  the day of the fire is college and TAG Alumn  Eric “Dix” Dixon.  Eric sees Collin helping out his injured frat brother and the attraction between the men is instantaneous.

Older by ten years and with touches of grey in his hair, Eric is openly gay at work.  Eric has always dreamed of someone to make a home and family with but that person hasn’t appeared until now.  Collin, with his sexy eyes and gorgeous body, just may be the one Eric has been waiting for.  But there are many obstacles between their happiness and future together, from Collin’s closeted status and homophobic uncle to the person responsible for the arson and bombing of the TAG House.  As Eric and Collin fall in love, the threat to Collin and the fraternity grows greater.  Can Eric protect the man he has come to love or will homophobic hatred ruin their chance for a future together?

This is the third book in the Theta Alpha Gamma series by Anne Tenino and I loved it.  It has all the distinctive features of the others in the series.  It’s funny, it has terrific characters, and of course, it’s over the top sexy!  But this story has something more. It has a mystery as well.  Who is behind the arson and bombs at the fraternity?  A mystery is a terrific new aspect to this already wonderful series.  But let’s take a closer look at this series most common features.

Each book has focused on a member of the Theta Alpha Gamma or TAG fraternity at Calapooya University in Oregon.  First it was Brad, then Paul, and now it’s Collin’s turn.  Each young man is not only a member of TAG but gay as well, although each has arrived at that self knowledge in differing ways.  The wonderful thing about this series is that the characters and couple you have fallen in love with in the previous books are back, included in this story.  That holds especially true for Brad and Sebastian from Frat B0y and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma #1).  They are still working on their relationship and Collin plays an important part in helping them work through a few issues of their own.  But the story here belongs to Collin and Eric, as well as the rest of the fraternity brothers.

This is the first time we have really seen the men of TAG interact with each other on a deeper scale.  Tenino brings us into the frat house dynamics and the close knit brotherhood of the Theta Alpha Gamma fraternity. Once more we get to watch Tank, Ricky, Toby, Kyle, Jules and the rest support each other, no matter the problem.  I have to admit the frat house scenes that involved all the frat brothers had me giggling uncontrollably.  Whether they were being roused to action by the threat to their kegerator or watching Project Runway, these are the scenes that really brought their fraternity to goofy life.  It’s hysterically funny and yet heartwarming at the same time.  Is it a realistic depiction of life at a fraternity?  Don’t know and quite frankly don’t care. In Tenino’s more than capable hands, these quirky, crazy group of guys are alive and kicking and making us  laugh over and over again.  I just loved them.

Collin and Eric are so interesting in their own right.  Collin’s father died when he was young and although his mother is alive, his Uncle had a large part in raising him.  Collin is an intelligent young man who knows he is gay but fears losing the love of his Uncle by telling him who Collin really is.  Uncle Monty is homophobic and controlling, and that has defined Collin’s upbringing until now.  It is a joy watching Collin change as the events unfold and his relationship with Eric grows more substantial.  Eric is also an interesting character with a sexy, hidden side to him.  Trust me when I say that a photography session is one of the sexy highlights of this story.  I enjoyed their relationship and the journey towards love for them both.  I liked that Anne Tenino took into consideration their age difference when writing the relationship. Neither man is at quite the same stage as the other which is an honest aspect to this story.  I appreciated it much more than if we had gotten a case of “instant love”.

I did have a few quibbles with the story.  The person behind the attacks on the frat house is easily spotted although the motive remains hidden until the end.  I really didn’t have a problem with that aspect of the mystery because it plays out so nicely in the story.  There is an event at the end I wasn’t expecting and that was a nice touch too.  I did wish that Collin’s relationship with his Uncle had a better resolution (and his Uncle’s Alumni Association’s aspect too).  Both his Uncle and the Alumi Association had figured greatly in the story, and that was not really dealt with at the end.

A new young gay character was introduced here. Tank’s younger brother has transfered into the college and been accepted into TAG. I see his story coming next.  I can’t wait.  I love these guys and their crazy mixed up fraternity.  They have heart to go along with their beer parties.  They are funny, engaging, and I always enjoy my time with them.  I highly recommend this book and this series.  Grab them all up, starting with the first one if you are new to the series and this marvelous band of brothers.

Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and their relationships:

Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #1)

Love, Hypothetically (Theta Alpha Gamma, #2)

Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma, #3)

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 22nd 2013 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626490321
edition languageEnglish

Review: One True Thing by Piper Vaughn and MJ O’Shea

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Rating: 4 stars

Dusty Davis has moved to California with his best friends Ru and Erik and their  daughter Alice.  West Hollywood so far is everything Dusty hoped it would be.  He can walk down the street and not draw stares for his clothes or nail polish and their new house is adorable, a great change in every way from Delaware.  There is only one thing missing…..a boyfriend.  When he watches Ru and Erik cuddle and interact, it only highlights how lonely he really is. But a trip on the sidewalk has Dusty falling  into the arms of a gorgeous man, who picks him up, smiles and disappears into the crowd.   So Dusty starts to look for him everywhere and when he finds him, Dusty is confused because the man, Archer Kyriakides doesn’t remember him.  But that doesn’t stop Dusty from going out with him.  But its not the same as Dusty hoped as the man is cold, and completely shallow.  Then Dusty meets Asher Kyriakides who is Archer’s twin brother and the mystery is solved.  It is Asher who picked Dusty up off the side walk and Asher who has occupied Dusty’s thoughts and dreams since the incident.  After Dusty realizes  his mistake, he and Asher start to date and it is everything he had hoped for in the beginning.  Except that Archer seems intent on causing problems for the new couple every way he can.

Asher Kyriakides has not been able to get the adorable blonde man out of his mind since they meet on the sidewalk.  Then he walks into the apartment he shares with his twin brother Archer and is devastated to find Archer kissing that same cute blonde.  Crushed, Asher finds his life stagnating on every level.  He is a photographer who is filming porn actors because he needs the money instead of working as a fashion photographer.  His brother is running up their bills, partying all night, and in general making Asher’s life miserable when he tries to make his brother act  responsibly.  It only starts to look up when he starts to date Dusty and even make plans for their future.  But Archer means trouble and tries to tear the two men apart.  When Archer goes too far, Asher must finally decide between his future with Dusty or his obligation to his brother.

We first met Dustin Davis in One Small Thing which gave us the story of Ru and Erik’s relationship.  Dusty had a large role to play in that story and he captured our hearts with his endearing personality and vulnerability.  I thought even then that he deserved his own story and was thrilled to see a sequel that followed our small family out to West Hollywood for a new start for all of them.  The authors certainly picked the right place to plop down our wonderful quartet of characters and it was easy to envision Dusty flip flopping his way down the Boulevard on his way to a meeting with Asher and a future.  Vaughn and O’Shea have given us a character to cherish in Dusty so it is important that his soul mate measure up to the reader’s idea of the right person for him.  And the person they chose has readers including myself blowing hot and cold, mostly because  of his brother.  The authors present us with a problematic  package when they created Asher and Archer, the twin Kyriakides brothers who represent a sort of black and white or yin and yang of siblings.

Asher, the good twin, seems to be  a lovely match for Dusty.  Except that when it comes to his evil twin, Archer, he has all the resolve of a wet noodle.  He lets his brother ride roughshod over him time after time, trampling his feelings and even his relationship with Dusty into the ground with no recompense at all from Archer.  In fact, no matter how awful Archer behaves, Asher lets him get away with it to the reader’s utter astonishment.  I can understand a twin brother’s bond being responsible for absorbing some of the impact of Archer’s actions but there is no answering bond from Archer, it is completely one sided.  So on one front, Asher loves Dusty and they appear perfect for each other, than the other passive doormat side of Asher comes out and threatens everything they have built up to date.  I won’t go into details here but trust me when I say both Archer’s actions and Asher’s response are so unbelievable that it almost derailed the entire story for me.  The only thing that pulled the plot back onto the tracks was Dusty’s reaction and the manner in which he forced Asher to handle the situation.  Yes, Dusty is the saving grace, not only in this incidence, but for the entire book.

Archer remained pretty much a one dimensional evil villain of the piece.  I kept waiting for some explanation for his hatred of his brother, some bit of back story that would explain his illicit drug use, casual sex, and complete disregard for his brother’s feelings but it never came.  In fact, Archer was the major disruption for this story.  Had he been removed, the one element of Asher’s character that was not only unbelievable but distasteful as well would have been removed too.

Dusty remains one of my favorite characters.  He is irrepressibly positive in his outlook, his buoyant good nature, his huge heart and personality make me smile just thinking about him.  The authors have painted such a vivid portrait of Dusty that he leaps laughing and giggling right off the page and into our hearts. Dusty is so gentle and kind (and talented) that you not only want him to be your hairstylist but your friend as well.  Dusty is both the heart of this story and it’s saving grace.  It doesn’t matter whether he is feeding Alice or having a heart to heart with Michelle, who Dusty is and what he stands for is never in doubt.  Give us more Dusty and I am a happy camper.  He is a perfect creation and the real reason to buy this book.

Without Archer’s involvement, this is a 4.5 to 5 point story.  Take him away, and it has every thing to recommend it.  It has not only Dusty, but Ru and Erik and Alice too.  It finds Dusty happy in his new job, making new friends (love Michelle), and finally having someone to love and who loves him back for the marvelous person he is.  Another new character deserving of our attention and affection is troubled porn actor Josh.  I could have used more of him, and so much less of Archer.  I liked the ending, although for some reason it seemed for of a HFN than HEA.  And again, that speaks more to the characterization deficits of Asher and not Dusty.  Because while Dusty is still moving forward with new friendships, new apartment, an ever expanding future, Asher’s career remains that of a porn photographer, which would be fine if he enjoyed and liked it, but it’s not.  It’s one he is ashamed of and remains in.  When he goes forward, it seems that its because Dusty has pulled him there, not a formula for a healthy relationship.  So perhaps Asher too needs some time to grow into the man Dusty deserves.  I would love to see a third book in this series, one that reunites Dusty, Asher, Ru, Erik, Alice, Josh and Lane in the not too near future with a real HEA for them all.  And please if we must see or hear of Archer again, let it be at his graveside. A perfect solution if ever there was one.

Cover:  OK, how adorable is this cover.  The model, Austin Anomic (aka Austin Mitchell) is the one who visually inspired the character of Dusty. Read Piper Vaughn’s blog on Austin and his picture with the cover of this book.  Austin and the cover of One True Thing are both adorably perfect.

Books in the order they were written and should be read:

One Small Thing – read my review here.

One True Thing 

Just a Quick Reminder!

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October is one of my most favorite months.  Autumn is in full swing by then, bringing with it all the colors associated with Fall.  Rich reds, all shades of orange and yellow, with white, and purple mixed in.  This October will bring some marvelous book releases as well from Andrea Speed’s Infected: Lesser Evils, the latest in the outstanding Infected  series to But For You by Mary Calmes.  This is Sam and Jory’s last  book.  You may remember them from A Matter of Time (4 books in all) and the sequel  Bulletproof.  If you love them as much as I do, this is for you. Another I am looking forward to would be Sean Kennedy’s Tigerland, a sequel to Tigers and Devils, a great book.  And the one to start off October for me? That would be My Regelence Rake by JL Langley.  This is her long awaited sequel to The Englor Affair and the next in her Sci Regency series that started with My Fair Captain.

So all next week, from Monday to Sunday, I am running a contest to give away a copy from Samhain Publishing of My Regelence Rake to one person who comments during the week.  I will be recapping the previous books and talking to JL about Sci Regency, a term she coined.  So much is happening around here that I can get a little scattered.  So mark this down, please.  I look forward to hearing from you all.  And what  books are you looking forward to?  New ones I don’t know about?  New authors you have fallen in love with?  Give me a shout and fill me in!  TTFN!