A VVivacious Recent Release Review: His Cursed Prince by Ryan Loveless

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Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Tuckington Belle believes it is high time to admit that he is gay when scaling the wall of a castle to steal wildflowers sounds like a better plan than talking up a girl. But, on his way down from the wall he gets jostled by a dog and falls unconscious, only to be rescued by a guy who insists that Tuck stay blindfolded in his presence. As Tuck finds himself returning to the castle night after night, he starts to fall for this mysterious stranger. But who is this stranger and why does he insist that Tuck not see him?

It took me forever to finish this book despite the fact that it isn’t all that long. This book just didn’t have me constantly begging to know what happens next.

The book feels very childish. This book is childish not in the sense that it is written for children but written in the way children see the world as one cohesive blob like a person is either good or bad with nothing in-between. I missed the nuance. I actually can’t figure out why this book was written in such a manner because the writing style really detracted from the story. I quite liked the message this book was trying to convey but it lost its impact because I just couldn’t take this book very seriously.

The characters were very black and white and one dimensional. This book is a take on Beauty and the Beast and for a re-telling of one of the most genuinely dark and convoluted fairy tales, this story failed to capitalise on all the aspects that make the original so irresistible.

I really liked the ending and how the curse was broken was truly commendable and I enjoyed the message the story wanted to convey. But, there were certain things that could have used more development. Primarily among them being Tuck and Frederick’s relationship which was accelerated throughout its course and truly these two characters knew very little about each other. Also, the juxtaposition of technology felt rather convenient, I felt like we were wilfully ignoring how difficult it would be to keep such a secret in a world run rampant with mobile technology being a thing. Also, the castle defences were woefully inadequate in comparison to the technology this world possesses or appears to possess because nothing is really clear in that regard.

This story just wasn’t for me though I loved its message I can’t ignore the fact that it took me forever to get through it.

Cover art by L. C. Chase. I liked the cover, it rather succinctly frames the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 98 pages
Expected publication: December 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640809253
Edition Language English

Ryan Loveless on Characters, Writing, and her new release His Cursed Prince (author guest blog)

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His Cursed Prince by Ryan Loveless

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Release date: Dec 28, 2018 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ryan Loveless here today talking about characters, writing, and her new release His Cursed Prince. Welcome, Ryan. 

 

 
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Ryan Loveless

 

 

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?  And how much  of yourself goes into a character?

 Yes, the less research needed, the more likely I am to write it. I can turn anything into an hours long research project, so I like to keep things as lowkey as possible or else I get buried and never get anywhere. Case in point: my home is filled with Victorian history books from about 15 years ago when I had a plotbunny in that era. The research I wanted to do drowned me and the book was never done, even though I finished a draft. On the other hand, I did a lot of research into brain trauma and recovery for Ethan, Who Loved Carter and I loved it. However, I had a strong motivation to write that book because I wanted to do a character with Tourette’s, like me. I didn’t have as much motivation to stick with the Victorian story.  His Cursed Prince is set in a fantasy world mixed with reality. I had to look up the names of some flowers and that’s about it. It was wonderful.  

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed? 

 I have a story I hope to revisit one day. I put it aside because it is basically my story, of what would happen if I went back where I’m from. I stopped when I realized I was writing my own family. It got too hard to process that and I got uncomfortable with it. I struggled with the character’s motivation for returning home because I kept thinking, “Well, I wouldn’t go back for that reason.” 

  •  Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?  

 I mainly recall my Stephen King phase as a young teen. All my life, I’ll read anything put in front of me. Romance is not my go-to (that would be realistic fiction YA or detective stories), but I do read it. In the last four or five weeks I’ve read Crazy Rich Asians, The Good Neighbor: Fred Rogers’ biography, Nurturing the Wow, about bringing spiritualism from a Jewish perspective into parenting, Fawkes, a magical-realism retelling of the Gunpowder Plot, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertali (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda), Dumpling, and a few days ago I started Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years, about the later years of Elizabeth I, and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, which I’ve had the ARC of forever and decided to read because the buzz is amazing. (Sidenote: I was home sick for 2 weeks. This much reading is rare.) For the record, I recommend all of these books.  

  •  Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?  

Not a person, but a reality: Always having books around, reading as much as I could, and growing up in a rural area where I was isolated a lot. I have siblings, but they were out of the house working on the farm and I was at the house. There were kids my age around, but we all worked and didn’t see each other much, so there was a lot of time to let my imagination go while I was shucking corn or pulling weeds or cleaning. We did some writing contests at school and then I did an english major with a writing emphasis at college. Reading is still a huge influence. I also love talking to my author friends like CJane Elliott and Carolyn Gray who are so passionate about writing. Since I started a job that I love a few years ago, I’m not as intent with writing as I used to be, but it’s still a wonderful feeling to make those words happen. I get a lot of joy out of reading other people’s words too.  

  •  How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going? 

Any way you can get words to a person is great. I do wish more people knew that they can probably get ebooks from their library. It will automatically return, so no late fees! And if your library doesn’t have a book, you can request it and they will probably buy it. Ask your librarian or visit your library’s website for more information! 

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part) 

I almost exclusively work with LC Chase now through Dreamspinner, and as far as I can tell, the way it works is she reads my mind.   

  •  Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why? 

 I think everyone’s favorite is Ethan, Who Loved Carter (also available in YA adaption!) But my personal favorite is “In Me an Invincible Summer” because it’s exactly what I wanted it to be. It took about 3 years to write, lots of consultations to get the ins and outs of an actor’s life right, and I got to write somewhat unlikeable characters and get myself to fall in love with them.  

  • What’s next for you as an author? 

 Dreamspinner will be releasing another novella in May, called A Cordial Agreement. Edits are all done and once again LC Chase read my mind to produce the cover. I’m trying to write more this year too, and my first project is a prequel to Invincible Summer focusing on Hunter and Chris. There will be some surprises there. I’d also like to revisit Paeder from Pop Life and This is Our Love Song at some point. I love writing him. 

  •  If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest? 

 I think if you love a character, you should write it and not worry. Like Paeder has a lot of issues. Derek has issues. Hunter. Oh my God. Most of my characters do. If you’re going to say that someone is too flawed to be a love interest, I think it sends a negative message because we are all flawed. We are all worthy of love. It doesn’t need to be exclusive of those flaws. It can be including them. We have flaws AND we are worth love. 

  •   Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened? 

 In Me an Invincible Summer, This Is Our Love Song, His Cursed Prince, Last Chance Charlie, A Cordial Agreement, quite a few fanfics. I had the Year of WIPs in 201X and then 201Y was the Year of Finishing WIPs. I’m hoping this year will be the Year of Finishing Anything I Start.  

  • If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why? 

 I know that the best place for me to write is in the dining hall of Grand Central Terminal with my battery full, wi-fi off, and the noise level at a dull roar. It keeps me focused. Some people want a cottage on a lake, I like hustle and bustle. (But I also want a cottage on a lake for non-writing days.) 

  •  With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? Why do you write? 

 I read for self-care and I hope that someone will read my stories for the same reason. I am happy to provide a distraction from the real world. If someone reads my books and then feels like they had a little reprieve, I’m glad about that.  

 

 

Here’s the blurb:

 

Three facts about Tuckington Belle:

1. Given the choice between illegally scaling the royal castle’s walls to steal flowers for a client at his family’s dress shop or going on a date with a girl his brother set him up with (“He’s fertile, and he can sew!”), Tuck will scale the wall like a spider after a fly.

2. If, upon knocking himself unconscious when he falls off the wall, Tuck wakes up bruised, blindfolded, and inside the castle, where—based on the unearthly wails heard nightly—the prince no one has seen in ten years is probably a ghost, Tuck would still choose this over a date with a girl.

3. Tuck thinks it’s time to admit he’s gay.     

 

Three facts about Prince Frederick George Deor (Read and approved with great reluctance by Lord “Protocol is Protocol. Stop Being a Pain About It” Todd):

1. He brought a curse upon himself and now bears the skin of a snake. 

2. He can’t take his eyes off the injured thief recovering in the castle.

3. Friendships born from lying and insisting the other person wears a blindfold can blossom into true love—which he needs to break the curse.

About the Author

 
Ryan Loveless is the author of numerous M/M romance novels and short stories. She is honored to be recognized as a Rainbow Book Award winner (several titles), Epic eBook Award finalist (In Me an Invincible Summer), and a Florida Author and Publisher Association Awards bronze medalist (Ethan). She lives in New York with her family, a sentence that brings her great joy to write.

You can contact/follow author Ryan Loveless at:

Twitter: @ryanloveless 

A MelanieM Review: Wytch & Prinze by Kassandra Lea

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Medium Jacob Wytch lives in the forest with his fluffy dog Gruff and his ghostly fairy godmother Amelie. When he gets a call from his friend Renwick Prinze, he panics. Jacob has been pining for Renwick longer than he cares to admit. Instead of admitting, however, he listens to Amelie and begins to sabotage Renwick’s beds in hopes of inviting his dashing friend to sleep with him.

Wytch & Prinze by Kassandra Lea is a retelling of the Princess and the Pea fairytale turned M/M romance and it’s a fun one. Successful medium Jacob Wytch and his dog Gruff live alone in the forest, an outcast in town due to the nature of his gifts and his name which is of no comfort at all to his superstitious townspeople.  His best friend, living that is?  Renwick, a chef gaining favor and success, due in part to Jacob’s help.  But there’s more to it, Jacob’s fallen in love with Renwick but is too scared to change the status quo of their current friends relationship.

In a cute turn, Lea has his fairy godmother be a ghost, Amelie, a young girl killed during a fire at a Rave.  I really loved the character of Amelie.  She’s quirky, determined and I honestly wanted to know so much more about her.  I could actually see an entire series built around Amelie and the people she decided to help.

Which brings me the reason why a story I found so charming wasn’t rated higher.  I loved the premise, the setting, the dog, and absolutely adored Amelie.  Jacob Wytch, who was a wreck when we meet him, I liked him too.  Not adored, liked.  Ditto Renwick.  I wish I had more of a feeling of them together, their friendship prior and who they really were as people.  As characters, the author didn’t give me enough of a connection to them as I would have liked to have had.

There are some missed opportunities to do just that here.  The author brings the characters together, but the readers only get a few scenes (not talking of sex but connectivity) to see any chemistry.  Instead it’s more conversations with Amelie or internal arguments with themselves, which would work if the story itself had been much longer.  Which it isn’t.

Those are the places where I feel the author missed the mark.  Overall, the story is a sweet, cute, romantic fairy tale.  I enjoyed it and wish the author would revisit the characters and universe again to give us an update on them and of course, Amelie!

Cover artist Natasha Snow: Cover art tells us immediately we’re in fairy-tale land.  I liked it.

Sales Links

Less Than Three Press LLC

Book Details:

ebook, 10,000 words, 20 pages plus
Published April 19th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781620049969
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Beauty, Inc. (The Pennymaker Tales #3) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Beauty, Inc.My all-time favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast, so I knew I would either love this story or hate it. The good news is I loved it!

As the story opens, Robert “Belle” Belleterre, who holds a doctorate degree in chemistry, is perfecting the packaging for his new skin care formula. He’s finally perfected a paraben-free formula for his father’s cosmetics company, but he needs to make sure the packaging keeps the product stable. Happy in his own little world of chemical formulas and lab work, and enjoying the nature and beauty of the Portand area, Belle suddenly finds himself being sent to work for his company’s competitor in dirty, crowded, bustling New York City.

Why? Because his father drinks too much, and his brothers care more for their bank accounts and flashy cars than they do for him. His father’s gambling addiction, fueled by alcohol, caused him to lose most of his company stock in a card game. The winner, Magnus Strong, CEO of Beauty, Inc. won it. But in exchange for letting his father keep the company, Magnus wants Belle, and he’s willing to give him the freedom to work on any projects that interest him at Beauty, Inc.

Magnus is not a typical romance character. In fact, in appearance, he’s downright homely, but his heart is as big as the great outdoors, and he’s smart and knows what he wants. He’s wanted Belle from the moment he first saw him, but knowing how ugly he is, he knew beautiful, sweet Belle would be repulsed, so he’s content to watch him from a distance.

What Magnus doesn’t know is that Belle was attracted to Magnus from the moment he saw him. Belle doesn’t see his flaws, and the more he gets to know just how caring and concerned Magnus is—not only in words, but in deeds—the more he wants to get close to the man. However, being a shy, awkward, socially inept chemist has its drawbacks, and Belle doesn’t know how to let Magnus know how he feels.

The cast of supporting characters in this story includes Mr. Pennymaker, the sprightly elf-like matchmaker we’ve met in past stories in this series; as well as Leroy, Belle’s gregarious driver; Judy, his devoted BFF; and both a household and a company full of characters that provide support to Belle, and ultimately to both Belle and Magnus, as they finally get past their fears and begin a romantic relationship. Of course, Belle’s dysfunctional family interferes once again as they try to bind Belle to their own company by lies and deceit during a time when Magnus is most vulnerable.

All in all, this story is definitely worthy of comparison to the original fairy tale. To borrow a term from a program I watched as a child, these stories created by the very sweet Tara Lain are “fractured fairy tales.” They show a nice twist on the old tales, but with modern MM romance characters—characters who are amazingly interesting and quite unforgettable. My favorite so far in the Pennymaker series, I highly recommend this one.

Cover art by Reese Dante.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 121 pages
Expected publication: June 8th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623808901 (ISBN13: 9781623808907)
Edition Language English

Review of Horse of Bells by Pelaam

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Rating: 3 stars

Horse of BellsPrince Donal and his younger brother, Caolan, are hunting in the royal woods when a mysterious stranger saves Caolan from a wild boar.  A case of love at first sight, the two make a pact saying that they will meet back in the woods as soon as possible, saving themselves only for each other.  But royal politics interfere with that promise as their evil stepmother is plotting to kill them and have her nephew seated on the throne. To interfere with her plans, the princes are sent away for their safety and Caolan never returns to the woods.

The princes plan to stay in exile until Donal comes of age but a trick by their stepmother, Queen Doireann, sends the brothers on a quest to obtain the Horse of Bells from the Dark Prince, a mission destined to fail as all the others who have tried have been put to death after entering the Dark Prince’s lands. On their journey, the stranger from the woods joins them in their travels.  But the kindness is gone and in its place a bitterness towards Caolan that threatens to derail their mission before they get started.  In this fairy tale, two brothers must fight for their honor and for love if a happily ever after is to be theirs for the taking.

This story has all the basics of a fairy tale.  It has the princes in danger, the evil stepmother, the clueless  King, the dark strangers to the rescue, and even a magical horse.  What is missing from this tale is the charm to go with the Prince Charmings, the warmth and glow of a childhood tale reworked for adults.   I love a good adult fairy tale but unfortunately this one felt a bit flat.

I will skip over the two instances of instant love as that is certainly permissible in a fairy tale, but give me characters that make it even a little bit believable.  All of the characters that Pelaam delivers are pretty one dimensional people, from the princes to the Dark Prince to the King. Even fairytale characters must be fleshed out enough that we identify with them to some degree. How can we feel any angst at all that the prince will be torn away form his true love if we don’t care about the characters?  All have so little depth that it flattens out the story, wiping it of any gaiety and joy  associated with stories of this genre. It  did have one little bit of darkness in it but it felt out of place considering all that had gone on before.

I did like the magical Horse of Bells, a nice creation and the stepmother was suitably “evil” in her mechanisms but I keep waiting for the literary magic to begin, to be swept away into a enchantedl kingdom, where everyone is gay, and all good Princes wait for their Prince to appear.  That would have made a great fairytale.  But I can tell you after reading this, I am still waiting for that Kingdom to appear.

Twas the Week Before Christmas Poem And My Reviews!

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Twas The Night Before Christmas (with my apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house,santa-paws-dog-christmas-outfit-urbanpup

all the creatures were bonkers, even the house mouse.

All the stockings were ready to hang with great care

but then Kirby found them, ate some and gave us a great scare.

Then a present was trampled (don’t ask) so off to the store we ran,

to see lots of  people frazzled and scrambling, grabbing whatever they can

So home we trudged to  our brightly lit house,

where penguins and snowmen blinked and waved all about.

Inside there awaited dog bones and treats galore, some cookies,

And carrot cake, eggnog and much more.

The yarn was stocked up, backup projects at hand, all was ready, all was right!

So we got out the wine and said to all Merry Christmas and a most jolly good night!

Review Schedule:

So here we are at Christmas week and still cooking to do.  Here is my schedule for the week, barring problems with elves and reindeer mishaps:

Monday, 12/24:              A Great Miracle Happens There by Kim Fielding

Tuesday, 12/25:              Thoughts on Books Covers, Books or is Fabio Obsolete?

Wednesday, 12/26:        A Gentleman’s Agreement by J. Roman

Thursday, 12/27:            Sullivan (Leopard’s Spots #7) by Bailey Bradford

Friday, 12/28:                 Beau and the Beast by Rick R. Reed

Saturday, 12/29              Scattered Thoughts Best Covers of 2012

That’s the plan, and you know what they say about plans…… anyhow, Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice at day late!