A MelanieM Review: Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path #2) by Amy Tasukada

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

A stash of drugs. A twisted cop. A mob on the verge of self-destruction…

Nao Murata is the new godfather of the Matsukawa syndicate. When Detective Yamada confronts Nao over a dead drug dealer, Nao knows his organization isn’t responsible. The Matsukawa doesn’t deal drugs… or does it?

When Nao discovers drugs in a locker owned by his syndicate, he no longer knows who to trust. With the police bearing down on the Matsukawa, Nao must make unlikely allies to find out the truth. Can he discover who is betraying him before time runs out, or will everyone suffer for a crime he didn’t commit?

Better Than Suicide is the second book in a Japanese mafia thriller series. If you like complex plots, gripping suspense, and a splash of romance, then you’ll love the next installment in Amy Tasukada’s Yakuza Path series.

I was wondering how Amy Tasukada was going to follow up her brilliant novel  Blood Stained Tea (Book #1).  That novel was a stunning violent look into Nao Murata’s life and rise to the top of the Matsukawa syndicate.  And no it was not a romance.  Neither is this.

It is, however, just as gripping, just as hardcore as that first story.  What’s missing is the shock factor of Blood Stained Tea (Book #1).  We had no idea of what was coming and that ending packed an emotional punch that I’ve still not recovered from.  It was shattering and so powerful it carries over into this story.  That’s perfect because Better Than Suicide deals with the aftermath of that event proving that it was a transformative act in many ways for Nao Murata and his Matsukawa syndicate.

Nao, already deeply traumatized by past events in his life, now is reeling from the attack by the Korean mob on Matsukawa territory and his part in the final assault.  It has vaulted him into the role of godfather of the family organization, a role he’s unprepared for and he’s surrounded by new people he either doesn’t know or trust or both.  It’s a deeply precarious position for anyone but especially for someone of his psychotic mentality.  Immediately, the author puts the reader and Nao on the knife’s edge and keeps us there for the rest of the story, rocking us across the blade, sometimes close to death, sometimes close to safety, however or whatever that is, represented here.  It’s gritty, it’s intense and it’s addictive.

Nao Murata remains the character you can’t look away from.  So complex, so compelling, he’s a dark Rubix Cube of a man, his soul ruined and traumatized by loss and pain, he carries death and violence wherever he goes and yet there’s another side to him that you are almost afraid to see appear that’s gentle and loyal to the extreme.  You get so pulled into Nao’s mindset that you forget that he’s also able to become a monster at the turn of the wind.  Then you remember and fear for all around him while still hoping that Nao will survive the obstacles that comes his way, be it the police or the Korean mob still actively coming after his family or a mole within the syndicate.

That balancing act is superb here. The suspense is incredible as Tasukada keeps us guessing all through the story.  We have no idea who Nao can trust and who he can’t. I loved all the twists and turns here.  Nao continues to mature while remaining the layered, fear-inspiring person we have gotten to know now over the course of two books.  I can’t wait to see where the author takes this character next, along with the Matsukawa syndicate and the new character she introduced in this story,

Lastly, we have the exquisite setting of Nao’s beloved Kyoto, seen from both the ugly side of the drug scene and the beauty and grace of the historic city.  Its the perfect foundation for such a tormented and complex character such as Nao as he fights to keep his family syndicate together, himself alive, out of jail and still the head of the Matsukawa family, and all the while hunting the drug runners and the traitor.

Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path #2) by Amy Tasukada is another gritty, intense, superb story.  It has  everything, outstanding characters, a  storyline full of layers, twists and turns.  Its gripping and so addictive you can’t put it down.  Just don’t go looking for romance here.  That’s not healthy for anyone in one of these stories and it just doesn’t plain occur!  Enjoy these crazy great crime thrillers for the suspense rollercoaster A rides they are!  I do and I love and recommend them both.  The author is working on book 3 and I can hardly wait.  Grab these up and start reading and I’ll see you back here for that review!

Cover art is just a great as the story within.  Eye catching and bloody.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 376 pages
Published May 16th 2017
SeriesThe Yakuza Path #2

A MelanieM Review: Acts of Passion: A Jack Cade/Michael di Santo Novel of Suspense by Sedonia Guillone

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Acts of PassionWhen a man is found in his apartment, appearing to have committed hara kiri with a samurai sword, Boston Homicide Detective Jack Cade suspects more is going on than what it appears. The department’s criminal profiler has left and a new guy is taking his place. At first, Cade is skeptical of Dr. Michael Di Santo. Di Santo seems so absent-minded and too neurotic to be effective. But he is brilliant and hot and Cade finds himself falling hard and fast, both in lust and in love. The attraction is mutual, although Michael’s past demons haunt him, keeping him from getting too close. Together, they begin to unravel Michael’s emotional knots even as they close in on a killer, another brilliant, wily person whose sights are now set on Michael.

Acts of Passion by Sedonia Guillone is a novel that picks up the story of a secondary character from a previous series, Genjin/Holmes Mysteries. As Sedonia Guillone has said, she thought Michael Di Santo deserved his own HEA and gave it to him here in Acts of Passion, a layered story full of romance as well as mystery and suspense.

One element of every story and series Sedonia Guillone writes is the wounded warrior or modern samurai, and the author plays on that theme here with several devilish twists, always with a nuanced overlay of Japanese culture and samurai weaponry involved.   Do I love that about her writing?  Absolutely.  Her knowledge is impeccable, and she is able to impart that passion and love to the reader without it being a dry dump of facts.  Instead she folds it into her characters and their history beautifully, revealing itself as it should throughout the storyline.

You don’t have to have read the other series, this story works perfectly as a standalone.  Guillone supplies the back-history for Michael’s previous relationship with Toshi (the ex partner back in Japan) and for Jack Cade, the man who will capture his interest personally and at work.  I loved the interchanges between the characters, it works on every level to pull them together professionally and as men becoming interested romantically.  You will get it too because Jack Cade is such an intriguing character with his own  demons pulling at him as well.  The two men have many obstacles, not the least of which is a serial killer, to overcome, before they can more on with each other.

I thought the mystery was good (although I had guessed correctly at who the killer was) but the suspense?  Excellent.  This was seat of the pants, white knuckle grip, will they get there in time stuff.  And I love every bit of it.

I only wish the ending was stretched out a bit longer for my tastes, that would have made this perfect.

Is Sedonia Guillone a new author for you?  Grab this up and start reading?  Have a love of the Japanese culture and the samurai warrior in modern times?  Love a good thriller with a romance thrown in?  This has it all.  Then go search out her other stories.  I’ve included a link to her website below as well.  Happy reading!  I highly recommend this author and story to one and all.

Cover art by: Louca Matheo.  The cover is sexy and works well for the storyline.

Sales Links:  Amazon|BN Nook|Kobo|Google Play|AllRomance Ebooks

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 186 pages
Published January 15th 2016 by Ai Press (first published June 11th 2010)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Find out more about Sedonia Guillone at her website here: http://www.sedoniaguillone.com

Cover Reveal for Mia Kerick’s ‘The Art of Hero Worship’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Art of Hero Worship by Mia Kerick
Release Date: February 14, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Cool Dudes Publishing
Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris

Blurb

Trembling on the floor, pressed beneath a row of seats in a dark theater, college freshman Jason Tripp listens to the terrifying sound of gunshots, as an unknown shooter moves methodically through the theater, randomly murdering men, women, and children attending a student performance of Hamlet. Junior Liam Norcross drapes his massive body on top of Jason, sheltering the younger man from the deathly hail of bullets, risking his life willingly, and maybe even eagerly.

As a result of the shared horror, an extraordinary bond forms between the two young men, which causes discomfort for family and friends, as well as for Jason and Liam, themselves. And added to the challenge of two previously “straight” men falling into a same-sex love, are the complications that arise from the abundance of secrets Liam holds with regard to a past family tragedy. The fledgling passion between the men seems bound to fade away into the darkness from which it emerged.

Jason, however, is inexplicably called to rescue his hero in return, by delving into Liam’s shady past and uncovering the mystery that compels the older man to act as the college town’s selfless savior.

The Art of Hero Worship takes the reader on a voyage from the dark and chilling chaos that accompanies a mass shooting to the thrill of an unexpected and sensual romance.

 

Pages or Words: 212 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Crime Fiction, Gay Fiction,

Excerpt

Pop-pop-pop….

No, I’m not even remotely safe. But thankfully I play dead far better than my dog did when I taught him that trick at the age of seven.

The shots are earsplitting and getting louder because the shooter’s heading our way. I’m so fucking scared I’m trembling violently, but I promised the guy lying on top of me that I’d stay still. I concentrate on taking short shallow breaths, one after another, in my effort to stop trembling. To stay frozen—like I’ve been since I pulled Ginny to the floor and promptly let go of her hand so I could curl up into a tight fetal ball.

Somebody near me sits up, scrambles to his knees, and impulsively crawls toward the far aisle.

Pop-pop-pop…

“Bang, bang… you’re dead.” The voice comes from directly above me; it’s blank and monotone and controlled. The weird snicker that follows is chilling. I want nothing more than to throw the big guy off my back and run like hell toward the double doors, but I just keep on going with the short breaths and stay as still as I’ve ever been in my life. Even in my terrified state, I know that the guy on top of me is totally exposed and I can’t move because I’ll cheat him out of his life, for sure. Which is so not cool when he’s trying to save mine.

I smell blood. Never noticed the smell of blood before. It reminds me of Grandma’s penny collection… if it got spilled onto the sticky floor of the theater. The scent of old copper is everywhere… like wet pennies strewn all around me on the floor.

Pop-pop-pop…

Shooter’s right above us now. Don’t move… don’t move… don’t move….

“Dear God, help us!” This request seems to catch the shooter’s attention and he turns around and steps away from us. I curse myself for feeling as relieved, and maybe even glad, as I do.

Pop-pop-pop….

We wait and it seems like forever. We wait as voices beg and plead and pray and he shuts them up with bullets. We wait as the sound of shots moves to the front left near the exit, where I figure he’s shooting at anyone who tries to get out through the double doors.

And then, for a second, it’s quiet.

“Now….” The big guy’s voice is whispering but it seems to blast into my left ear. “We have to make our move now.” Before I agree, the heaviness of his body lifts and I feel cold and exposed. “This is our chance to get outta here….”

His hand is attached to the back of my wrist, clutching me so hard that I know I’ll have fingerprint bruises for a week… if I live so long.TAOHW BACK COVER

Buy the book:  Amazon

 

Meet the author:

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to CoolDudes Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Where to find the author:

 

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, The Jena Wade, Boys on the Brink Reviews, Kimi-Chan, Bayou Book Junkie, BFD Book Blog, The Hat Party, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Gay Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, MM Good Book Reviews, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, 3 Chicks After Dark, Kirsty Loves Books, V’s Reads, Alpha Book Club, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Happily Ever Chapter, Jessie G. Books, Velvet Panic, Book Lovers 4Ever, Caraway Carter, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Molly Lolly, Divine Magazine, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Love Bytes

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $15 Amazon Gift Card.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

 

 

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Is Love a Crime? Check Out Rob Rosen’s ‘The Love Triangle Gone Wrong‘ for the Answer (excerpt/giveaway

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The Love Triangle Gone Wrong by Rob Rosen
Release Date: December 16, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Torquere Press
Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Blurb

Five actors, one play, a murder, and a security guard who seeks the truth, not to mention love, all set the stage for this hilarious tale of mystery and intrigue in small town America. You’ll never guess what, or who, is going to come next!

 

Pages or Words: 10,100 words
Categories: Contemporary, Crime Fiction, Erotica, Gay Fiction, Humor, M/M Romance, Mystery, Romance

Excerpt:

I turned to glance at the audience, saw that everyone was suddenly and surprisingly alert and then quickly whipped my head back around to see all the actors in the play each pointing a gun at someone else in the play. It was an interesting plot twist given that the first act was more comedy—intentional or not—rather than murder mystery.

Then, BOOM, a gun went off on stage.

I jumped. The theater jumped in unison. Several people sucked in their breaths. I hoped no one was about to choke on a lozenge because mouth-to-mouth on the elderly is never fun—trust me on that one. The actress ran to one of her lovers. She knelt down by his side. Her eyes went wide. She screamed. I almost applauded. It was the best acting she’d done all day. Then she screamed again. “He’s been shot!”

“Um, duh,” I whispered to myself.

“Someone call the police!” she added.

No one moved, though I heard a few people behind me shift nervously around in their seats. One old guy coughed. I waited for a choking sound. Thankfully, it was just a cough and nothing more. Phew.

The other actors suddenly looked uneasy. I reached for my gun on instinct. Well, I reached for my can of mace actually, which was all I was allowed to legally carry, but it was still a weapon—you now, mostly. I mean, a shot of mace to the eyes can take a man down right quick. I know because I accidentally on purpose shot myself in the face with it once, just to see if mace had an expiration date. Turned out, it doesn’t.

“He’s dead!” shouted the actress hysterically.

The other actors rushed to their downed brethren. Suddenly, they didn’t all seem so, you know, acty. I too rushed the stage, taking the stairs off to the side two at a time. “Nobody move!” I shouted, can of mace held up high.

They all stared up at me and grimaced. The cuckolded husband shouted, “Call the police! He really has been shot!”

Buy the book:  Torquere Books

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Meet the Author

Rob Rosen (www.therobrosen.com), award-winning author of the novels Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love, Divas Las Vegas, Hot Lava, Southern Fried, Queerwolf, Vamp, Queens of the Apocalypse, Creature Comfort and Fate, and editor of the anthologies Lust in Time, Men of the Manor and Best Gay Erotica 2015 and 2016, has had short stories featured in more than 200 anthologies.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, BFD Book Blog, Bayou Book Junkie, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Sassygirl Books, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, The Hat Party, Andrew Q. Gordon, Velvet Panic, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Cheekypee Reads and Reviews, Mikky’s World of Books, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Divine Magazine, Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘The Love Triangle Gone Wrong’ by Rob Rosen.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by the author and Pride Promotions.


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