Book Tour for Ghoulish by Kat Bellamy (excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Ghoulish

Author: Kat Bellamy

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Self-made

Length: 332 pages

Release Date: October 22, 2017

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy, MM fiction

There is an HFN ending, but the book is the first in a continuing series.

 The next book will be available for review January, 2018.

Blurb

Colt Jager never knew what happened to the parents who abandoned him, and he never cared–until he inherited their ghoulish secret.

Raised as a human who had no idea he was anything but a blue-collar construction worker until the night of his 25th birthday, Colt finds it hard to adjust to life in the Kinship, a hidden world woven discreetly into human society.

After a grisly encounter with his true nature, Colt meets a family of human-friendly ghouls who teach him that there’s a way to be inhuman without being inhumane. But things get complicated when he realizes that the “wolf attack” responsible for killing his boyfriend’s brother was actually committed by a ghoul on the hunt.

When an elite family of especially monstrous ghouls called Alphas threatens the man he loves, Colt will have to lie to Jason to keep him safe. Can a predator ever truly be a hero, or will the man he loves become his prey?

 

 

Buy Links ~ Available on KU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads Link

Excerpt

“You could help people lots of ways. I just don’t see why you have to pick the one that could get you killed.”

“I’ll be pushing papers for the DA, not infiltrating a crystal meth ring,” Jason shot back.

The argument had been brewing for some time, and Colt knew that he didn’t stand a shot at winning now that they’d finally gotten around to it, but he could hardly take the news that his boyfriend had just signed up for the most dangerous job in the city sitting down.

“And what happens if some psycho gets pissed at your boss for putting him in jail and you get caught in the crossfire?”

“Then I’ll have a hard time holding water.”

“I’m glad you find this so funny.”

“Colt,” Jason pleaded, taking Colt’s face in his hands. “It was a joke.”

“I guess I just don’t find the very real possibility of losing you all that funny.”

Jason’s face fell. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. “But I can’t give up on my dream. Not even for you.”

Colt clenched his jaw. “Why is this so important to you? Why does it have to be this field?”

Jason settled back against the couch with a heavy sigh. “You remember how it was when Luca was killed. We all spent months reeling, grasping for something to make sense of what happened. I’d listen to my dad reaming out Fish and Wildlife reps for hours on end, demanding reports and explanations for how a lone wolf in an area where there wasn’t supposed to be anything other than coyotes and fisher cats just showed up and killed his son. It made no sense, and we desperately needed it to, even though we knew logic wouldn’t bring him back. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized there are some things in this world you just can’t make sense of. Things that you can’t explain no matter how hard you try, and even if you could, it wouldn’t change anything. But there are tragedies that can be explained, and there are families out there who suffer needlessly until someone finds the answers. I want to be one of the people who finds those answers, Colt. I don’t want anyone else to feel the way my family did if it can be helped.”

Colt’s stomach churned as Jason spoke. The conviction in Jason’s voice alone was enough to soften his anger, but more than that, it was the doubt it caused in Colt that unsettled him.

What if it hadn’t been a wolf that attacked Luca, after all? Colt had never questioned the official narrative as a preteen, but knowing what he knew now as an adult, “animal attack” rang as nothing more than a callous euphemism. If one of his own kind had killed Luca, keeping this secret about his own identity was more than just a lie. It was a betrayal.

“Please tell me you understand,” Jason said, searching Colt’s face.

“I do.” Colt cleared his throat. “I’m not gonna pretend like I’m happy about it, but I get it. If this is what you want, I won’t try to stop you, but I am going to ask you to be careful.”

Jason smiled, leaning in for another kiss. “And that’s where you’re different from my family.”

“I would hope I’m different in a few more ways than that,” Colt teased, pushing Jason back against the sofa.

Jason laughed. “Well, kissing you is a lot more fun than kissing great-aunt Gertrude. Less stubble.”

Colt shuddered. “You know how to paint a picture.”

“I could paint a better one if you come camping with me,” Jason purred, winding a strand of Colt’s hair around his finger. “Please?”

Colt sighed. “How am I supposed to say no to that?”

“You’re not,” Jason whispered against his lips.

Colt moaned as Jason’s knee slipped between his thighs and the friction of their jeans made his grinding pure torture. Colt reached underneath Jason’s shirt, tracing the lines of his abs down to the sharp cut of his hips. His hand drifted lower just as the phone on the coffee table buzzed.

“Ignore it,” Colt murmured, capturing Jason’s lips. The phone kept buzzing.

“They’re not giving up,” Jason gasped, breaking the kiss. “Maybe you should answer it.”

“Fuck whoever it is.”

“What if it’s the secret girlfriend you’ve been running off with lately?” Jason asked in a teasing tone. Colt could tell there was a hint of genuine suspicion in it.

“Fuck her, too.”

Jason gave his shoulder a playful shove and reached for the phone. “Hello?” His face went blank and Colt sat up sharply. How he hated technology. “No, sorry. I’ll put him on.” He pushed his finger against the speaker and whispered, “It’s the Sheriff.

Colt winced, taking the phone. “Sorry. I should take this.”

Jason’s eyes were full of questions, but he said nothing as Colt stood and crossed the room, pressing the phone to his ear. “Sheriff Venson. Hi. What can I do for you?”

“I assume that was the mysterious boyfriend Susan’s always speaking of,” Roland said in a dry tone. “Does he know?”

“Not at all, sir. Did you need me to answer any more questions about Chuck?”

That seemed to satisfy Jason’s curiosity, or at least convince him to pretend like he was interested in his own phone.

Roland chuckled. “A word of advice. If you care about him, keep it that way.”

“That’s what I was planning on.”

“I won’t keep you. Just wanted to check in and make sure Wilbur hasn’t tried contacting you again.”

“No, I haven’t heard anything but I’ll let you know if he calls.”

“Good man, Colt. Keep your head down,” the Sheriff said before hanging up.

“That was about Chuck?” Jason asked, leaning over the back of the couch.

“Just a few follow-up questions.”

“Follow-up?” Jason frowned. “They questioned you about Chuck’s death?”

Shit. “Uh, yeah. It was routine.”

“For an animal attack?”

Colt could see the wheels turning in Jason’s head and knew he needed to stop the investigation train before it ran off the tracks. “Yeah. I guess his wife is insisting on it. Can’t bring herself to accept what happened,” he said, cringing internally. He felt like scum before the words were even out of his mouth.

“Poor thing,” Jason said sadly.

“Yeah. So,” Colt said, clearing his throat. “Where were we?”

“I was trying to convince you to go with me on that camping trip.”

“If your mind’s made up, so is mine,” Colt said with a shrug. “I’m not letting you go out there alone.”

Jason scowled, but there was more amusement in his gaze than irritation. “I’m not sure I like the new caveman Colt.”

“Get used to it, he’s not goin’ anywhere,” Colt half-teased, leaning over the couch to kiss Jason. “Especially not if you’re working for the DA.”

“I haven’t even gotten the internship yet.”

“Oh, you’ll get it. You get everything you want.”

Jason grinned. “That’s very true. As a matter of fact, there’s something I want you to give me right now.”

It just so happened to be something Colt was more than willing to give.

 

 

 

About the Author

Kat Bellamy is a nonbinary author of MM fiction and urban fantasy. Ghoulish is their debut series. When they’re not writing, they spend their time watching bad horror movies and losing board games.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

 

December 11

Beautiful Book Corner

Lily G Blunt  

December 12

Millsy Loves Books

December 13

The Blogger Girls  

Stories That Make You Smile  INTERVIEW    

December 14

Gay Book Reviews 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

December 15

Sur l’étagèère, derrière la sirène en plastique

December 16

Blazing Zane Book Blog   REVIEW

December 17

MJ’s Book Blog and Reviews 

December 18

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

December 19

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews 

December 20

Bayou Book Junkie   REVIEW

Book Lovers 4Ever 

Louise Lyons   

December 21

Queer Sci-Fi

December 30

Drops of Ink  INTERVIEW

January 6

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words  REVIEW 

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

A MelanieM Review: Roughstock: Blind Ride – Season One by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Blind Ride cover 2Jason Scott is at the top of the field in his career, that of professional bull riding.  Jason, along with his traveling partner and best friend, Andy Baxter, are riding the circuit, both hoping to finish at the top of the boards and win enough money to see each of them set for life.  Jason and Bax have been dancing around the fact that they are crazy about each other.  Each is afraid of losing his best friend if they admit how much they actually love each other. It will take something huge to make a change in their relationship.

Being a professional bullrider is a dangerous game and in one horrible instant everything changes for both Jason and Bax.  When a ride on one of the top bulls goes wrong, an injury to Jason’s head causes him to go blind. Reeling, Jason and Bax retreat to Jason’s family ranch to recover and wonder what’s next for them both.  For Jason, it appears his life is over and he has nothing to live  for.  Bax is determined to prove him wrong, both personally and professionally.

Bax thinks Jason can ride the bulls even blind.  But it will take Bax, his love and their small circle of friends to prove to Jason that even blind bullriders have their life and love ahead of them.

I have a huge fondness for both the Roughstock series and its author, BA Tortuga.  So it pains me when I have to report that this story, while having so many of the great qualities I have come to expect from this series, is guaranteed to frustrate the reader to the point that it is hard to recommend it. First let’s look at the merits of this story.

The characters are wonderful.  Jason “Mini” Scott and Andy “Bax” Baxter are typical of the cowboys you will find in the stories of B.A. Tortuga.  Their personalities are so authentic to the bull riding circuit and the locale that I would also expect to run into them at any PBR event.  They become so real that they feel like a part of your family.  And it is this intimacy that connects the reader to them and their futures.  You feel the dust that coats them as they pick themselves up off the arena floor and the pain their profession inflicts upon their bodies.  They are just so realistic that you hurt for them.  And Tortuga is one of the best authors around when it comes to dialog.  The words that issue out of the mouths of her cowboys ring with authentic local flavor and colloquialisms.  And it does so without being hokey or off sounding.  Here they are heading down the road to get supper:

Bax threw his duffel back, too, sliding into the driver’s side. “So, where to? I figure that one little place where you circle your order will be closed.” “There’s that one place by the highway — about twenty minutes out. It’s nothing but old ranchers taking their women out. Nice T-bones.” And he always got tickled by those tables with the ads printed on them. Reminded him of going to auction with Pa-paw.

“That works.” The big dualie slid right into traffic like an elephant into a herd of zebras, Bax muscling them right in.

They scooted down 35, radio blaring. He found a pack of smokes in the console and lit one for Bax, then got himself one. Three days of rest, then Tulsa.

“You think we ought to try and hit home ‘fore Tulsa?” It was kinda eerie sometimes, the way Bax read his mind. Then again, they’d been on the road together for nigh on six years.

“We can. Momma’d like to see us. ‘Course, we could go on to the city. Goof off. Depends on how much you want Momma’s pineapple upside down cake.”

“Oh, I’d rather go see your momma.” That man did have a sweet tooth. Pineapple upside down was Bax’s very favorite.

“Cool. I’ll call her. Let her know we’ll be in.” He took a deep drag, grinned. Lord, lord. “I hope your knee’s up to riding fence.”

“Shit, you know it. Just don’t ask me to walk fence.” Wheeling around a little Honda, Bax started humming with George on the radio, off tune as anything. “Nah. You wouldn’t be worth shit in Tulsa, then.”

They both hooted, and Jason leaned back, easy in his bones. Man, event win number three. Check in his pocket. Him and Bax heading for steak.

Life, she was good.

Of course, we know it’s all going to change and soon.  But in that short exchange we see the ease and contentment of Jason and Bax’s relationship.  It sings of a friendship long established and perhaps much more.

And once they fess up and go for a full romantic relationship, it is still in keeping with their cowboy ways and personalities.  No flowers here.

 It was like a good ride, all motion and want and spinning. He tried to warn Bax, tried to let the man know he was gonna be way quick off the mark, but it wasn’t happening. And it didn’t seem to matter one bit. Bax was pushing him on, making these amazing noises, just as hot for him as the Fourth of July.

Their relationship is hot, sexy, and emotionally deep.  How we fall for them.

Pretty much everything works here for much of the story.  The narrative suffers a bit from almost too much sex.  We want more of Jason coming to grips with his blindness.  And we want to see exactly how Jason, with Bax and Coke’s help, will learn to ride again.  At one point, even Bax remarks that he and Jason have sex instead of talking.  OK, but as a reader, while I love the hot sex, I want more of the relationship that produces it.

After all I have been through with Jason and Bax, feeling side by side with them on their emotional rollercoaster, I want and deserve to have the emotional payoff I expect at the end of the story.  And that is exactly what’s missing.  No “aha” moment, no ending.  Nothing.  It just stops prior to Jason ever getting back up on a bull, even one on his friend’s ranch.  The emotional reward, the moment everything has been building up to never happens. Frustrating? You betcha.  And totally unexpected from this seasoned author.  And it is this aspect that dragged the rating down to a 3 star rating.

So who should read this book?  Well, hard core fans of B.A. Tortuga for one as well as fans of the Roughstock series.  Coke, AJ, Bax and Jason are the core characters of the Roughstock series so its good to have this part of the story.  But that lack of ending just makes me want to grab a beer and go watch some PBR instead of continuing to bemoan what could have been an outstanding book.

Cover art by Posh Gosh.  I like this cover, it feels more representative of the story and characters.  Terrific job.

Sales Links:  Pride Publications |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, Pride Publications (a LGBT imprint of Totally Bound, now Totally Entwined)
Published July 7th 2015 by Totally Bound Publishing (first published January 1st 2007)
original titleRoughstock: Blind Ride – Season One
ISBN139781784306397
edition languageEnglish
seriesRoughstock #1
charactersJason Scott, Andy Baxter settingUnited States

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

Upcoming Roughstock Novels
Roughstock: What She Wants – Novel, m/m/f
Roughstock: Tag Team – Season Two – Novel, m/m
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

 

A MelanieM Review: The Beast Without by Christian Baines

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Beast Without coverReylan, a Blood Shade, the correct term for vampires,, likes being on his own.  He is wealthy, gorgeous,  sexy and particular in who he eats.  He picks out his prey from the popular gay clubs of Sidney, on Oxford Street.  Reylan is always careful not to take too much, just enough to last a few days  before he has to feed again.  So when a crazed werewolf kills his latest companion, Reylan is not happy.  He is even less so when the werewolf, young Jorgas, seems to have developed an obsession with him.  An obsession that puts Reylan and those he cares about at risk.

In order for Reylan to take care of the situation, he finds he must work with a mysterious supernatural organization  called The Arcadia Trust and its leader Patricia Bakker.  The Arcadia Trust has its own agenda and wants Reylan to deliver the werewolf to them alive.  But things change when Reylan hunts down the young werewolf in question.  In a moment of intense need and hunger a tenuous relationship is formed between vampire and werewolf, a relationship neither wants.

As more people are murdered around them, Reylan, Jorgas and The Arcadian Trust must look further than Jorgas for the cause while trying to protect the ones inside their circle.  Reylan soon realizes that the civility he has cloaked his life in is no longer enough.  Its time for his true predator nature to come out and stay out if he is to stay alive and locate the true murderer among them.

What an excellent take on vampires and werewolves.  The Beast Without is such a far cry from the Twilight movies and other more current representations of these two supernatural beings. The werewolves and vampires of The Beast Without are not the benign creatures of the night that we see in popular movies and books these days.  No, the supernaturals of this novel, The Blood Shades and the Flesh Masters (werewolves) are apex predators, vicious and superior to humans who are regarded as food.  It’s actually kind of refreshing.

The vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings like Cloak Masters (invisible beings) are genetic by nature.  All come from families where the various genes for each type of creature runs in the family.  It can skip generations and then, right around puberty, those that carry the gene mutate into the creature whose genes they carry, whether it be vampire, werewolf, or something quite different.  Christian Baines is developing a great back history for these supernaturals, a history that is being revealed slowly throughout the book.

Along with his impressive world building, Baines takes particular pains to make his characters complex, otherworldly and sometimes cruel in their outlook.  Take Reylan.  He is not human and revels in being a Blood Shade, finding the term vampire to be distasteful and tawdry. An asexual being, at least in the beginning, he dines on men, preferring the power and vigor in their blood to the caution and other traits that occurs in female hemoglobin.   As created by Baines, Reylan is a loner, a predator and absolutely absorbing.

I can’t  say enough about the characters i found here.  Whether it is Jorgas, a confused, raged filled werewolf, Father Isaac O’Baer of Saint Barnabas Church, a Father handy with advice or a knife, or Patricia Bakker, the enigmatic leader of The Arcadia Trust, these beings are intricately layered, wildly unpredictable in nature, and totally absorbing to read about.  I can’t get enough of them or anyone else that pops up in this story.  It’s really just a roll call of strange and wonderful creatures, each more exciting, dangerous and complex  than the one before.   They may not be real, but they certainly feel that way.  Here is Reylan’s thoughts on Cloak Walkers:

It’s said, perhaps cruelly, that you can smell a Cloak Walker long before you hear him – such is the inevitable toll of invisibility on personal hygiene. It’s even been claimed that the condition brings on leprosy, and that a Cloak Walker may be tracked by the body parts he leaves behind. I find what this theory lacks in credence, it makes up for in originality.

I love that wry, amused tone.  A little mean and deceptively mild. Perfect.

The plot is just as twisted and deceptive as the characters.  Baines has really done justice to each element here.  Both the story line and supernatural beings are totally worthy of each other, working their magic on the reader from page one.  Baines’ style of writing is smooth, his descriptions vivid and sometimes almost graphically realistic.  Here is our introduction to Reylan as he heads out to hunt at night:

 I’m not human, but even so, this is a reality I can’t ignore. If I’m not careful when I feed, when I take my fill of blood, I can quickly become the wrong one-nighter.

I’ll thank you not to use the ‘v’ word.

Given my proximity to Oxford Street, the sleazy, pulsing artery of Sydney’s nightclub district where I’ve lived for the better part of thirty years, I try not to visit any club twice in the same week. It’s safer that way, particularly for a man whose lifestyle depends on discretion. Barely two nights ago, I’d graced Fantasy, a club full of pretty, if flighty young things – some gay, some straight, most happily open minded on the subject. So the following night’s destination was Blaze, a club currently serving as de facto cathedral to the Church of Saint Muscle Mary, where the buff and beautiful took time out of their forty hour a week gym schedules to model, preen and occasionally dance the night away for the slack-jawed ogling pleasure of curious onlookers.

For hunting clothes, I chose a pair of tight leather trousers, an equally tight lycra vest and a silver-studded belt. A little attractive, a little sexual, and a little ridiculous. The perfect human mix I’d developed over the years. Not the epitome of modern style, but on a healthy twenty-four-year-old man, which is what I appear to be, it did say ‘come hither and bed me,’ which was the whole point.

Then, there was the pill. I rarely use them, but if options are lacking and I get too impatient, a little chemistry in a capsule can seal the sumptuous fate of any prospective companion. You needn’t judge me. You do a lot worse to your food. Besides, it’s not as if I’ve had to use it – recently.

There he is, all deliciousness in tone and outlook.  But soon Reylan will demonstrate just exactly how good a predator he is.  How I came to love him.

I should make one thing clear.  This is not a romance.  There are m/m relationships, there is sexual need, blood lust and heat a plenty.  But if you are looking for roses and candlelight dinners, this is not the story for you.  A convoluted relationship does develop between Reylan and Jorgas, but it is just at the beginning stages and it is certainly not based on love or even affection.  A bond certainly, but of need and blood and baser emotions.  It is realistic and involving as any I have read, and I love it.

Incredibly, The Beast Without is Christian Baines first novel. I came so close to giving this  remarkable story a 5-star rating but there are just too many loose ends that remain unresolved at the end of the story to go that final inch.    Christian Baines lays out a mystery for us, several in fact but nothing more.  Just speculation and insidiously addicting clues to a larger mystery looming behind the smaller ones. Everything about The Beast Without cries out for a sequel and I can only hope that one is in the works. At any rate, I highly recommend this rich and rewarding take on vampires and werewolves, especially for those of you tired of sparkle.

Cover art and design is terrific. Cover Images: Ivan Bliznetsov (front); DSNR (back) Jacket Design: David P Reiter

Afternote:  Christian Baines has indicated that a sequel to The Beast Without is planned, very good news indeed.

Sales Links:     All Romance (ARe)          Amazon      buy it here

Book Details:

Paperback, 234 pages
Published March 27th 2013 by Glass House Books
ISBN 192212043X (ISBN13: 9781922120434)
edition language
also eBook edition

A MelanieM Review: Fire and Light by Berengaria Brown

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Rating: 2.5 stars ouf of 5 stars

Fire and Light coverSeveral years after the divorce, Hugh’s ex-wife decides that she doesn’t want her son and gives Hugh full custody.   Hugh loves his son and finds this a wonderful turn of events, even if it means he has to rearrange his life.  With 6 year old Orion living with him, Hugh and his son are adjusting to life as a family when a chance encounter with a man named Quigley changes all their lives forever.

This is a short story about a romance that starts in an equally small amount of time.  Hugh has just gotten custody of his son from his ex-wife.  She is in a new relationship and her boyfriend does not want Orion around.  Quigley is a man on a 2-week vacation.  All three meet cute in a surf shop and bond over board shorts and goggles.  In that 2 week time frame, the men fall in love and decide to be a family, along with Orion.  Orion adjusts beautifully.  Everyone is happy. The end.

That’s the story.  Short, sweet and has no character building, no foundation on which to build a realistic love story and certainly no depth.What it does have is loads of sex scenes, with a smattering of story.  It’s fluffy with some lovely scenes between Hugh and his son.  That is really the best part of Fire and Light, the father-son relationship.  Of course, that is also the component that makes the acceptance of a stranger and the instant family kind of creepy.

If Berengaria Brown is a must read author for you, then go ahead and pick this up.  But for the rest of us, I would give this a pass.

Book Details:
ebook, 2nd Edition, 57 pages
Published June 19th 2013 by Torquere Press (first published June 16th 2011)
ISBN 1610404882 (ISBN13: 9781610404884)
edition language English

In the Author Spotlight: S.J. Frost on Vampire Prince (Giveaway)

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spotlight on books

Vampire Prince cover

 

 In the Author Spotlight: SJ. Frost, Author of Vampire Prince

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Good morning all!  ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to welcome author S.J. Frost here today.  She is going to be talking about her latest book, Vampire Prince, and the inspiration behind it.  To celebrate the release, she will be giving away a copy of this eBook. To enter to win,  leave a comment and an email address or other way to get in touch with you in the body of the comment.  A winner will be picked 4/12.

Welcome, S.J.!

SJF:

Hello, everyone! I’m thrilled to be a guest here and my thanks goes out to Melanie for the invitation! I’m going to be chatting about my newest release, Vampire Prince, published by Ellora’s Cave, and how the story came about. I’ll also be offering a free ebook copy of it to one lucky winner. Good luck to everyone who enters the giveaway!Vampire Prince cover

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I’ve always enjoyed the vampire genre. There’s an allure to those immortal beings, who walk the line of being a monster or being human, that draws me in. Depending on the world an author or filmmaker has created for them, they can be fiendish and horrifying, or beautiful and seductive. Sometimes, they’re mix of all those elements.

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As some of you who are familiar with my work may know, Vampire Prince isn’t my first foray into paranormal erotic romance or vampires. That came about with Natural Instincts, Book 1 in my Instincts series, published by MLR Press. When I set out to create my own vampire world in the Instincts series, though it may sound strange, I wanted to take much of the paranormal elements out of it. I wanted to create a vampire world where vampirism had a natural and evolutionary explanation. My vampires in that series maintained a closeness to having a human existence, since essentially, they’re a sub-species of human with greater evolutionary adaptations.

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I loved the world I built in the Instincts series, but I still wanted to write more vampires. About a year ago, I began to see in my mind a beautiful young man trapped in a desperate situation. He was locked in a sparsely furnished room, his head down, unable to escape. A blood slave, forced to give his blood and body to vampires, but who still held strong to the dream of having his freedom again. That young man would turn out to be one of the main characters for Vampire Prince, Sebastian Beaumont.

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After I understood Sebastian and his situation, I knew it would take a strong hero to help him and that’s when the other main character stepped forward, the elegant and beautiful vampire prince, Valentin Wyndham.

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Valentin was an interesting character to me. A little more than three hundred-years old, because of his age, he’s earned the title of “prince” among vampire society and he’s still very much the noble gentlemen he’d always been. He has a strong sense of compassion and protectiveness toward Sebastian, but little patience for other vampires. Though the story had the potential to take a dark turn with Sebastian being a blood slave, I knew right away that nothing would be forced between Sebastian and Valentin. They were two characters who needed each other, but in different ways. Vampire Prince, from beginning to end, would be a love story.

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As the story began unfolding in my mind, I realized this was a vampire tale different from any I’d yet written. Really, the entire story was going to challenge me in a whole new way and I was very excited about that. I saw not only the opportunity to write a vampire story, but also a paranormal story all around. The vampires could have greater supernatural strengths. I could write a demon as a secondary character…a very cocky demon with a crocodile entity as a companion. I could bring in elements of magic and summoning. I could stretch my writing wings and tell a paranormal story with any and all kinds of supernatural elements.

*
For me, that’s one of the reasons I love vampires stories and movies. While they all may share that common platform of being about those blood drinkers, the only limits to what can be done with them is what an author or filmmaker puts on them. The vampire theme can be reinvented and explored in endless ways, different supernatural elements can be brought in. With Vampire Prince, I kept the parameters open and ran where the characters were leading me. And those characters led me on a journey that as it was drawing to an end, even though I’d thought the story would be a single novel, I knew I would be returning to the world and the characters. I’d fallen in love with them and already wanted to work with them more and let the world grow further.

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Now that the book is available, I hope all who give it a read will enjoy the story of Sebastian and his vampire prince, Valentin, as much as I loved writing it.

Thanks, SJ, for stopping by and bringing a copy of Vampire Prince to giveaway.  I have the book details for Vampire Prince below.  Remember to enter to win a copy, just leave a comment and a way we can get in touch with you in the body of the comment.  By entering you are acknowledging that you are over the age of 18. Good luck and happy reading.

Author Bio:
S.J. Frost is a multi-published author of sweet and sexy gay erotic romance stories. Contemporary, paranormal, fantasy and historical, she likes to dabble in a little bit of everything, but her stories always contain love, passion and romance. She encourages readers to contact her, so do please feel welcome to send her an email or track her down on the Internet and say hi!

You can contact S.J. Frost at:

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Vampire Prince coverVampire Prince

ebook, 218 pages
Published March 7th 2014 by Ellora’s Cave
original title Vampire Prince
ISBN 1419948601 (ISBN13: 9781419948602)
edition language English
Ellora’ Cave Vampire Prince link
characters:Sebastian Beaumont, Valentin Wyndham
setting: Savannah, Georgia (United State

Blurb:

For three years, Sebastian has lived as a blood slave, giving his blood and body to vampires. He’s a prisoner, owned by the blood house he serves. Sebastian dreams of freedom, of feeling the sun and wind on his face once again.

Valentin has earned the title of vampire prince. But status and age haven’t brought him love. When his blood craving grows too demanding to be ignored, he goes to the blood house and finds himself entranced by the spirited Sebastian.

Their passion is strong, their connection to each other undeniable. Sebastian wants to be Valentin’s, and Valentin wants to keep Sebastian—forever. The danger of giving the blood slave his freedom is high and the price might be both their lives.

Review: Indelible Ink (Boys Will Do Boys) by Marie Lark

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

indelibleink_msr_1Tattoo artist Jon Park has just left Seattle for a new start on the East Coast.  Jon fled a bad breakup with his ex boyfriend who also happened to own the tat shop that Jon worked as a tattoo artist.  Now he has opened his own place, a tattoo and piercing parlor,  with his college best friend in her hometown. But deciding to open Park Ink in the middle of winter  in a small town in Upper New York might not have made the most sense.  Business is scarce and the bills are barely getting paid, not a position Jon thought he would be in his thirties.

Then Jon runs into a group of guys beating up on a young homeless man outside a bar and everything changes.  Arthur is a young 22 year old  and homeless.  A product of the foster system since the age of 8, Arthur soon learned that lying and stealing were the quickest way to  get what he needed to survive and applied them often, gaining a dubious reputation in the bargain.  But when Jon saves him from a beating, everything changes for him.  Arthur sees the potential for change for himself and help for Jon, assistance that Jon is not even aware he needs.

Despite all objections and arguments from those around them, Jon and Arthur find themselves falling into love and a relationship.  But both mens pasts come forward to threaten their fragile relationship and Park Ink’s success.  Jon and Arthur will have to summon  their courage and face their opponents together or everything they have worked for and want will be lost.

Here is a story that charmed me utterly while introducing me to new aspects of the tattooing process.  I was unfamiliar with Marie Lark but Indelible Ink will have me seeking out more of her stories because I enjoyed this story on many different levels from plot to unusual characterizations.

Let’s start with her characters of Indelible Ink.  Jon Park is unusual in so many ways.  A 6’4″, long-legged and rangy, Jon is part Korean, part Hawaiian and on the cusp of 30 years old.  Jon is a much softer individual than his size would indicate, preferring floral and more delicate tattoo designs to the more hard line and popular artwork such as skulls and bones.  I think artistic and gentle are the words I would use to best describe this unassuming man.  Lark pulls us into the story on the strength of Jon Park alone because he is such a lovely and unexpected human being.  Then the author adds Arthur, a troubled 22 year old homeless young man with concealed strengths and artistry of his own.  Arthur’s true character is slowly revealed over the length of the story as he learns to trust Jon and  start to believe in a different future for himself.  Arthur will grow on you at the same pace that Jon accepts him, a terrific strategy by Lark to help connect the reader with this struggling man with a pile of problems behind him.  Lark also throws in several strong women characters to support Jon and Park Ink, from his best friend and business partner, piercing artist Val to another local bar owner and her husband who welcome him to the neighborhood.  Lark just fills her story with great characters, people you could see yourself spending the afternoon with, chatting about neighborhood politics while sipping coffee or getting a tattoo.

And that brings us to the tattoo element of this story.  I have read quite a few stories that revolve around tattoo artists and their shops and in each one I learn something new.  In Indelible Ink, Lark is able to bring the sensations of being tattooed alive by her intimate and detail oriented scenes within Park Ink, including the high you feel under the needle and the almost out of body sensation towards the end.  Here is an excerpt from the scene where Jon is starting to work on a tat he created for Arthur:

Arthur huffed a laugh and rolled his head to look over at his arm. “It looks great,” he said. “Yeah?”

Jon smiled down at his work and wiped away ink and a little blood with a damp paper towel. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” Arthur said quickly. “Good—great, actually. I forgot how good it could feel when you don’t have a rank amateur digging into your flesh.”

“It’s definitely addicting,” Jon agreed, pressing on the foot pedal and starting the machine again. “Do you have any questions about what I’m doing? This is supposed to be a tattoo lesson.”

Arthur closed his eyes and slowly rocked his head back and forth against the chair. “Nah. I’m—curious about tension in your hand and how hard to press down but I probably just need to practice that myself.”

“Yeah, we’ll get you working on grapefruits and oranges this week if you want.”

“Awesome. We still get to eat them after though, right? Shit is expensive.”

Jon could hear the smile in Arthur’s voice even though he’d redirected his attention to Arthur’s arm.

“Definitely. The needle never goes below the dermis—if you go the whole way through a grapefruit rind, we need to seriously reevaluate your career choice.” Pausing to glance up at him, he saw Arthur’s mouth fall gently open and his eyes flutter behind closed lids. If he hadn’t suspected already, that expression confirmed it—Arthur was a tattoo junkie.

There was something about the kind of pain that came from a tattoo machine—the way it fired along nerve endings, the way it vibrated down to the bone and in the brain—that had people just like Arthur and just like Jon coming back for more whenever they had the itch and the cash. It’d been well over a year since Jon had gotten his last tattoo and knowing what the sensations were doing to Arthur brought the itch back in a rush.

Her vivid descriptions just bring alive that moment in the chair where you commit to a design and the reality of a tattoo.  It’s sensational, emotional, and almost as addictive as getting a tattoo itself.

My only quibble with the story is that I felt the resolution and the ending arrived almost at the same time.  It would have been nice to have shared in Jon and Arthur’s happiness for a moment before the book ends.  But it just felt a bit rushed and not as satisfactory as the rest of the book.  The other thing I wish to point out is that Indelible Ink is listed as part of the Boys Will Do Boys series but that is a loosely connected group of stories with different authors and not a continuation of the characters and situations found inside Indelible Ink. So be warned if you are looking to purchase the others because you liked this story.

Small quibbles with the ending aside, I really recommend this story to all lovers of m/m romance and contemporary fiction.  This is not a case of instant love but a realistic, halting climb to trust and love with characters you will adore.  I enjoyed Indelible Ink and think you will too.  It will be released by Ellora’s Cave Publishing on December 6th, 2013.  Put it on your calendar!

Book To be Released on December 6, 2013.

Amazon Buy Link Kindle

Book Details:

Indelible Ink [Ebook] By: Marie Lark
ISBN 9781419948114
Book Length Novel
Publisher Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc.
Imprint: Romantica®Line: Spectrum
Series: Boys Will Do Boys

Review: Odd Man Out by Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows, Laura Harner , and T.A. Webb

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Odd Man Out 2013 Finale coverChance Dumont. Marcus Prater. Zachary Carmichael. Wick Templeton.  These four men have considered each other brothers, family by choice instead of by blood.  They thought they knew everything about one another and they have been through the worst of times with each other.  Or so they thought.

Now Wick has disappeared and won’t return their phone calls. And the remaining men are left feeling betrayed and angry over Wick’s absence and the events that caused it.  Then the Twins, brothers from Wick’s past, turn up dead, killed in the same manner as other gay young men recently.  The man they thought had been arrested for the previous torture and deaths of gay youth is out of prison.  Could the killer be the same man who killed the Twins?  The killings are starting to look personal, and when a meeting is called at Chances Are, everyone is expected to show, even Wick.

But someone is missing from Chances Are, someone unexpected.  And soon its evident that one of their brother’s has been taken by force.  Is it the killer?  Or someone completely different with their own grudge?  The remaining band of brothers must act and quickly before their family is shattered forever.

Four outstanding series, all on Scattered Thoughts Best of 2013, have been leading up to one explosive finale and Odd Man Out doesn’t disappoint! Each series in the Pulp Friction group (Chances Are, City Knight, Triple Threat, and Wicked’s Way) revolve around a strong, charismatic, and densely layered main character.  In their own series, each man exhibits a magnetism and strength that sometimes push the other characters in their own series into the shadows.  So I was curious as to how the authors would be able to find a balance among such compelling, formidable men.  Would one overshadow the others when combined into one book?  The answer is no, the men and their stories mesh as seamlessly as you would expect given their back stories and history together.

And when by seamlessly, I mean realistically. Because these alphas can spend their time in arguments, shoving, anger and hurt that is the result of letting others close, especially to this almost hermetically sealed off group of men.   As all four series and their main characters collide, each man is in the midst of a personal upheaval caused by the introduction of a new love and partner into their lives.  For some like Ben and Marcus, their acceptance of each other has been relatively easy, or as easy as it can get for a member of this tight-knit brotherhood.  Chance and Rory, Zachary, Archer and Jeremiah too, have also recently settled into a loving partnership.  Only Wick and Ned, well, Wick, is still fighting Ned’s new role in his life in a grudgingly humorous manner expected of Wick Templeton.

So much jostling of roles, so many new men to accept within the tight ranks of family. And it’s not just the original members but Ben, Rory, and Jeremiah who have formed bonds to each other.  I love that as much attention has been paid to the links forming between the secondary characters as it has been to the main ones.  Each author has kept all the threads of their series taut while weaving them into the other stories and the series finale.  It is a testament to how well this group of authors know and like each other that their characters play so nicely and believably with each other.

Each man has some huge issues to work through as they race to save one of their own.  And once again, these problems carry with them substantial emotional baggage that each man must examine before the somewhat broken bonds can be reformed between Wick and Zachary, Chance, and Marcus.  The anger and hurt these men carry because of Wick’s actions resonate through each conversation and scene.  It’s powerful, its authentic and we get it because we have come to believe in these characters and their love for each other.  So when they break trust with each other, we feel the anguish as powerfully as they do.  The four authors have presented the readers with four rock solid characters and made them real and their stories compelling.  How can we not feel as they do?

There is also plenty of anxiety and anticipation to go with the white knuckle suspense of Odd Man Out.  As the authors build momentum and suspense into the search for the missing man, we “hear” the thoughts of the captured man and his tormentor interspersed with scenes of the others gathering clues to help them pinpoint who and where their brother has been taken.  It’s a heart pounding, pulse racing ride and you will be on the edge of your seat every step of the investigation and hunt.

I won’t give anything away but there are moments of humor and funny asides to go with the thrills scattered throughout this finale.  Sometimes it used to alleviate the headache inducing tension that is building, other times it  illuminates a man’s character, a means of hiding one’s true emotions behind a facade.  Odd Man Out is really such a rollercoaster ride of emotions, events and turbulent relationships, a true E ticket (for those who remember them).

I loved this story and all the series connected to it.  I hope this doesn’t mean we have seen the last of Wick Templeton, Chance Dumont, Marcus Prater and Zachary Carmichael.  These characters pack a punch whenever and wherever they appear, whether they are together or separately.  I have come to love them all and would love to see them again wherever their futures are taking them.  They have plenty of stories to tell and I would love to read them all.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 145 pages
Published December 3rd 2013 by Pulp Friction

The Pulp Friction Series of 2013 are:

Wicked Truths coverWicked’s Way Series by Havan Fellows:

Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #1)
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #2)
Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #3)
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4)
Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Chance In Hell coverChances Are Series by Lee Brazil:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1)
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2)
Fifty, Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are, #3)
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are, #4)
Chance in Hell (Chances Are #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Darkest KNight coverCity Knight Series by T.A. Webb:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Duplicity coverTriple Threat Series by Laura Harner:

Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1)
Retribution (Triple Threat #2)
Defiance (Triple Threat, #3)
Crucify (Triple Threat, #4)
Duplicity (Triple Threat #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Review: Hat Trick by Chelle Dugan

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Hat Trick coverAntonio “Tony”  Côté, is a 30 year old professional hockey player who is deeply in the closet.  Tony fears what coming out would do to his career so he has avoided all relationships, preferring to look for sex in anonymous hookups in gay bars on the road and outside of Toronto where he lives and plays.  All that  changes when Tony meets up with Charlie Trevino one night at a gay bar in Toronto.  Tony notices the cute American immediately and turns a hookup into a date and night of lovemaking.  The next morning, Tony wakes up alone with only a note from Charlie with his contact information.  But the note gets soaked when Tony spills water on it and can’t make out the information.

Charlie is finishing up a hotel management and hospitality degree at UAZ atFlagstaff and is on vacation when he meets the man of his dreams.   After one passionate night, Charlie leaves a note beside a sleeping Tony and heads off to catch his plane, unaware that the man in the hotel bed is a well-known hockey player.

Both men desperately want to see each other again but without exchanging last names, phone numbers or addresses, the odds are stacked against them.  Until Tony is transferred to an expansion hockey team in Las Vegas and they meet once more.  Still the pair face many obstacles, including the closet Tony refuses to leave.  What will it take for Tony and Charlie to find the happiness each seeks with each other?

Hat Trick refers to either three goals scored by one player in a game or three victories.  In this case, Chelle Dugan uses the term in reference to the chances given Tony and Charlie to find each other and make a go of their relationship. It’s a  clever use of the term and I only wish that the resulting story had lived up to that promise.

All the characterizations here suffer from a lack of layering, rendering them far too simplistic and one dimensional.  It also makes it hard for the reader to invest in these men and their romance.  Tony’s character is especially hard to relate to as his character fluctuates between a realistic pro hockey player and a smitten teen with identity issues. Hard to like a romance when the oldest partner of the pair comes off as so much younger than the twenty something he is involved with.  Combine that with the closet and the author making his character act like a jerk and the reader starts to wonder why Charlie would want this man in the first place other than the man’s gorgeous exterior.

The story starts out with Tony looking at a piece of paper then flashes back 6 months earlier.  Sometimes this technique works but here it is simply uneven.  It would have been far more effective had the story started out when they first met then progressed to the present time period. Instead the time frame allotted to the men, that of a year of looking for each other, acts more like a bouncing ball that the reader has to follow in order to understand the lack of flow to the various meetings, miscommunications and missed opportunities by Tony and Charles.  Here is a small taste of Tony and his story:

Rafe and Amy sat and listened to Tony’s story. He left out the sex stuff, but he was sure that they got the picture. Amy was sniffling at the end of his monologue; she was a hopeless romantic, after all.

“Tony, I’m glad you shared this with us, but I’m not sure why. I mean, what can we do?” Rafe asked.

Tony pushed away from the table and began to pace in the small space between the table and the sliding glass door that overlooked downtown LA. He ran a hand through his hair and yelped when he swiped his stitches, having forgotten about them. “I don’t know. Is there any way to find him?”

“Let me make some calls,” Rafe offered. “I can give a heads-up to my secretary and hope he calls the office. Write down all the info you have, and I’ll discreetly hire a PI.” He held up his hand when Tony started to protest. “Your name will never come into the conversation. I hope his intentions are good.”

“Well, if they weren’t, we would have already seen stories in the papers or at least online.”

“Let me research that too. Are you sure you want to go after this guy? It could mean your career.”

“If I could feel like I did that night every day, then losing my career would be worth it.”

In addition to the issues I have already mentioned, Dugan includes a flip-flopping point of view that makes this short story more challenging to read than it ought to be.  Again, it’s not a matter of simply changing the point of view of the narrative but how often that happens and the confusing manner in which it occurs.  The reader has just settled into one man’s mindset when the pov switches to the other main character.  It’s disjointed and it works against the flow of the story.

For some readers, these issues won’t be a problem. If you find that excerpt above romantic, then perhaps you will love this story.  If however, style and characterizations matter, than this might not be the story for you.  At 92 pages, Hat Trick is a relatively short read for those seeking a romance and a simplistic love story.

Book Details:

ebook, 92 pages
Published September 11th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627981411 (ISBN13: 9781627981415)
edition language English

Pulp Friction Author Roundup with Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Laura Harner and T.A “Tom” Webb. Winners too!

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Pulp Friction 4 covers

Well, it has been such an outstanding week here at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords.  Its been great fun having all four such terrific authors stopping by each day this week. And a pleasure to listen to each of your thoughts on the Pulp Friction series and to hear how this idea came to fruition.

I love seeing the old pulp fiction format resurrected and working successfully.  Each series is exciting on its own but combined with the other three Pulp Friction creates a cohesive, dynamic portrait of an amazing collection of men who are locked together by bonds of friendship, love and a past.

Look at the cast you all have assembled.  Whether it is Wick Templeton (Wicked’s Way), Chance Dumont (Chances Are),  Zachary and Archer Wilde (Triple Threat), or Marcus Prater of City Knight, each and every one is a fascinating and, quite frankly, addicting character.  Then you start to add on their new lovers, in Chance’s case, Rory or for Marcus its his Benjamin and Jeremiah for Archer and Zachary.  And when it comes down to it, we will have to include Ned for Wick whether he admits it or not.

But I won’t keep you readers waiting any longer, here they are for our final chat….this week. Trust me, you will be hearing from these people again in the near future….*hands out glasses and yells that the bar is open*  Oh, and the winners are announced at the bottom of the post.  No peaking now.

WARNING: When the Pulp Friction group gets together it can get a little wild…we talk in a group chat all the time and are real good at following each other—but I suspect a fly on the wall may get a slight headache trying to keep up *blushes* so we are color coding our blog for you today just for that reason! *whispers* Well that and I like playing with colors, hehe. (Note: WordPress won’t play nicely with colors, so you readers will just have to imagine all the loveliness of the rainbow they had planned for you.)

May I introduce to you Lee Brazil…Tom Webb…the lovely Laura Harner…and me (I’m Havan Fellows *big smiles*)

Havan: There are few places I’m extremely comfortable…you know what I’m talking about? Places I can let my hair down…kick off my shoes…unbutton my shirt…wiggle out of my—

Lee: Havan! Stop that! Button that shirt up and keep your pants on. *glares* Okay, you can keep the shoes off, but this is NOT the right place for naked time.

Havan: *eyes bug out* There’s a wrong place for naked time? Um…okay…maybe not THAT comfortable—though I’m working on my Pulp Friction family to relegate our PF headquarters into a clothing optional facility…hehe

Lee: *frowns* Never gonna happen. Modesty is a virtue, and it happens to be one I’m rather fond of.

Havan: *sighs* Fine…for now…*talks quickly* But back to my original point – because yes, yes I did have a point to make – sitting with my Pulp Friction co-writers: Lee Brazil, Tom Webb and the mastermind who brought this fabtabulous idea to us Laura Harner…I do feel comfortable and they make sure I know I can open up to them and we work great as a team. *big smiles*

I believe that is one of the reasons Pulp Friction has exceeded our expectations. < see, point! lol

So now we are gathered once again to unload a few deep dark secrets…

Lee: *gasp* Havan! You can’t tell them…

Havan: No, I promised never to tell anyone that! Anyway, *eye rolls* not about ourselves *breathes a sigh of relief* (there isn’t that much blog space for that *winks*). *glares* I’m talking about secrets of the FINAL *gasp* book in the Pulp Friction 2013 series…and maybe…just maybe if you are interested…a sneak peek into what might be happening in 2014 with PF…

Lee: *yanks Havan into the seat next to me* Look, you don’t have to go blabbing ALL the secrets at once. A little mystery, something left to the imagination….

Havan: Hmmmm…you do have a great imagination Lee *winks*. Sooooooooo…who wants to begin?

Laura: *Raises hand, and waits to be called on* My name is Laura and I’m a-
Oops, wrong meeting. *Blushes* In all seriousness, when we first talked about this idea last October, I had no idea how big or how satisfying Pulp Friction would be,

*Pauses to consider just exactly how deliciously naughty that sounded.*

Sorry, I was sidetracked for a moment. When we started writing, we shared little bits here and there, hesitantly offered a comment or two about how one of our characters might fit into someone else’s book, and waited with mixed apprehension and excitement to write the next book.

We are all various shades of punsters, *whispers aside: I think she means pantsers, because lord knows no one laughs at my jokes* which means we had no real organization, no master outline, or even an idea of how it would all end.

A funny thing happened though. Just as the characters grew within our individual series, they also grew closer to each other. Unexpected friendships occurred, secrets were revealed, relationships grew or were broken. The line blurred between the reactions of the characters and the writers, and when Zack wanted to scream with frustration at Wick and shout out his denial-that was because we’d both been shocked and hurt by someone we thought we knew. And that is what makes these stories so powerful for me. We respond to the stories that have gone before, and sometimes we are cut by the power of the emotions that are right there at the surface. They feel real, because to us…they are.

Tom: Exactly, Laura. Writing five stories each, then coming together (and with four of us, that is something to plan!) to do the finale, Marcus and Benjamin are like my own family. They talk to me, haunt my dreams, and snipe at each other just like…well, I do. The last book, Darkest Knight, was so easy to write, because these guys run around my head and I know them.

And the fun (and totally weird) thing is? We all can write each others’ characters because we know them so well too. I love Wick, annoying asshat that he is, Chance, Zachary and Archer, and their men. It’s funny how they all ended up with younger men, although we don’t quite know about Ned. He can fool us all.

But seriously, I wasn’t prepared for how popular the series became, and how many fans each of us have. Marcus and Benjamin, and now Frankie and some of the other supporting characters, interact with not only each other but all the other cast, and fans…well, they have their favorites. Some wanted Wick with Frankie, then they read Havan’s books and loved them. Others haven’t read any but their favorite author’s books, and then they read some of the others and it opens up a whole new world.

It’s kind of like that with us too. We all write our own way, our own styles, and have our own successes. Then the four of us came together and decided to try this experiment, and didn’t know how it would all turn out. The best thing? Damn, but it worked!

I’ve learned so much from writing with these guys. You have no idea how much energy it takes to make this whole thing work. We talk daily, and discuss the what ifs and the how abouts, and what I personally found was, we all fit together so well. They way we think, the way we write…it’s so similar, but not. Laura is so patient, and I think I picked up some of that. Lee thinks a lot the way I do, but he is so creative and solid. And Havan, she makes sure the fun is there.

We fit.

I like this group, and can’t wait to take it to Flagstaff.

Lee: When Laura suggested this, I had no idea how it would work. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I could do it. And that was when I thought I was writing a single series. I had the luck of writing the first book, so I was going in blind as well, hadn’t met anyone else’s characters, or been told their story lines. I got Chances Are written, and shocked myself with who he turned out to be. At first he was closed off, isolated, and bitter. But as the other stories unfolded, it became clear that Chance wasn’t as alone as he thought, and by the end of the series he isn’t living in his own head quite so much.

The same thing happened on this side of the computer screen too. Writing is of necessity a solitary occupation. That’s what I used to think. What I discovered, right alongside Chance, is that the right people can make everything better. I grew to enjoy the intricate way our stories were woven together, and to depend on my fellow PF writers for support and inspiration. I can’t imagine sitting down to write without having them at hand.

So, I’m really looking forward to Pulp Friction 2014, to seeing how PF will continue to evolve, as I’m sure it will.

Havan: Wow…you guys verbalized it so beautifully. *wipes eyes* Me…I’m just here for the free liquor Melanie offered…*winks*

So there will be one last PF ’13 book that all four of us are penning together—a four-way! Something we’ve never admitted to doing before!—and it will nicely wrap up any loose ends you may think we have out there *cough cough* and then PF ’14 brings a whole slew of new main characters in a new location to the west this time…Flagstaff!

Think you’re ready for another year? Oh are you in for a treat then—think of the first year as foreplay. We got to feel on each other…taste the other three’s styles on our tongues…wrap our hands around their abilities…

Foreplay’s over…

This is gonna be fun.

STRW: Whew! *runs and locks the liquor cabinet*  That was amazing and now we know that the last book, no. 6, will be a joint effort and bring the hunt for the killer to a close. *whispers to the dogs that I knew that would happen*.  I can’t wait to read that story and I know the rest of you feel the same way.

So, 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)

Darkest KNight cover

Duplicity cover

Wicked Truths cover

Chance In Hell cover

Review: The Unwanted – The Complete Collection by Westbrooke Jameson

Standard

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

The Unwanted Complete CollectionThe unwanteds, that’s what society calls the people who make up the lowest of society.  The prostitutes, the drug users, the poor, the discarded and the dying.  Shots, Derek, Ambrosia, Renzo, and Sara are all young prostitutes.   In addition, they picked up Joel, a gay teenager thrown out of his house because of his sexuality. Together they form a family, willing to do any to keep each other safe and fed.  Unfortunately, Derek is sick.  He contracted the deadly VIS virus and is moving into the final stages of the disease.    The group is barely scraping by when an encounter with an alien john changes everything for all of them.

Recently a race of aliens called Narsoreal made contact and landed on Earth.  In three years time, several major diseases were cured and human technology advanced because of Narsoreal information and assistance.  In return, the alien race asked to collect and bond with humans who are genetically predisposed towards symbiosis with the Narsoreal.  For the governments of the world, only the unwanted were viewed as available for collection and bonding.

When Shots picks up a john called Alimund a Norsoreal, Shots changes not only his life but the lives of everyone in his small family of unwanteds.  Because for each one of them, there is a Narsoreal who is their bondmate, if only they will accept them.

There is so much promise buried within The Unwanted that I wanted to rate it much higher than it deserves.  Originally, each Unwanted had their own story released separately, then a collection of all the stories was published.  And it is much easier to read as a collection than they would have been as individual stories if for no other reason than the flow of the narrative works better.  Unfortunately, whether it is as a collection or separate short stories, there are just so many issues and missed opportunities that I have to give The Unwanted a fail.

Let’s start with some of the most basic issues, the world building.  It just doesn’t make any sense nor does it feel “alien” in any manner.  Jameson makes the aliens and their planet pretty much just like us, only with a few alterations that are so unbelievable that they further disconnect the reader from the Narsoreal and these stories.  The aliens land because they are looking for love.  They bring advance technology, enough to cure some diseases but not VIS or at least that’s the accepted knowledge.   There’s some nonsense about not having the right materials for them to help us build space ships ( a throw away line that makes no sense either) but really the author makes no attempt to give us anything authentically alien.  Not the people, not their abilities (more on that later), not even their technology.  And when we do find out what elements make them “different” from us, its laughable. Really the Narsoreal are so dubious a creation that its screams worst alien ever. They are poorly thought out and mindbogglying lame brained unless you are a prepubescent boy.   If you are going to create aliens, complete with alien physiology and culture, then make it believable.  Don’t make them a reflection of juvenile wants and desires, a cardboard alien worthy of  a Space Hooters or sex doll.

That brings us to characterization or the lack of it.  The only members of the Unwanted that come close to being a layered personality are Shots and Ambrosia, with Ambrosia being my pick of the litter.  The rest of the small group of prostitutes and discarded never rise above a character outline.  They certainly have no credibility as young people who have been abused, abandoned and made to prostitute themselves as the only means to survive. As a described by the author, this group has seen it all from their lowly position on the streets but the reader never gets any sort of desperation or emotions that would reflect this status.  Its more what they say they are then what actually comes across, and that’s a huge fault when it comes to characterization.

But if they are bad, then the aliens are so much worse.  The really only alien thing about them is that they physically morph or their body changes (permanently) according to the wishes of their bondmate.  Of course, they don’t tell their human bondmates that fact.  So  one ends up looking like Legolas with long white hair and elf ears.  Another ends up with wings, and another with a penis and a vagina.  *shakes head*  If you are going this heartstoppingly stupid and young, why stop there?  Where is the woman with three breasts?  Of course, there is no continuity here.  So the one alien is another species, a worker bee, who doesn’t change. Which is a good thing because his human bondmate thinks he looks like a bulldog.  Awkward. But if there were any logic to this, then it would be the worker class who would change their physiology, to better help them shoulder the load so to speak.  Another thing is that these aliens are rich.  So you have rich aliens who change their physical state according to their lovers wishes?  And the upper echelon of the world’s societies doesn’t want them to bond with?  That makes no sense either.  Who among the rich wouldn’t want a mate who is rich, changes according to your desires and cures diseases by their bond.  Oops, did I forget that exchanging fluids with these aliens cures every disease you could humanly have?  The Narsoreal are a kind of one stop shopping for any of your sexual, emotional, financial and pharmaceutical needs. Do they have personalities too?  Not really because how could they?  They aren’t real in any respect, merely objects that reflect the needs and desires of their human companions.

And that’s both my problem with these stories and the promise I see as well.  Had these stories been a treatise of the objectification of others, or a humorous take on loving yourself, or some sort of allegory about making love to one’s dreams, that would have been one thing.  All the elements are there for any of those takes on the human condition or maybe just an alien comedy.  All but one human changes the alien into the lover of their dreams and that one can’t because that alien’s different? It’s all instant love and instant bonding.  But how is that believable is that love if you change them almost immediately without getting to know them?  These humans don’t love the aliens, they love what the alien becomes. What a great subject for these stories!  But was that ever addressed any where? No, I mean even their cum changes from purple grape flavor to black licorice, a sort of Skittles of choices. Oh look, he shoots purple jism, If that’s not a juvenile giggle fest in the making I don’t know what is.  If you were the alien, wouldn’t you be a teensy bit upset over wings, a purple penis,  purple nipples and purple cum, a purple grape tasting cum?  That other alien has it worse, his human loves the color pink. But as written, the Narsoreal are both intergalactic doormats and any teenagers sexual wet dream mashed up together.

Add to that just awful dialog.  The aiiens say things like  “Yes, my treasure, I will change for you. I will become whatever pleases you most, my prince, my darling.” or to Joel Flowers . “I will be your giant if you will be my flower.”  The group explains it away as the aliens speak “formally”.  No, that’s bad romance talking, not Downton Abbey.

Add all of that up from the terrible world building, poor characterization, cheesy dialog and a plot with promise that misses on every level, and you have a collection of stories I can’t  recommend to anyone other than a friend of the author’s.   I think thats one of the problems when you self publish, not enough eyes and assistance (read that as editing) for the author and their writing.  I hope that the next stories from Westbrooke Jameson achieve the promise I saw here.

Cover Design by Morris Duncan. Cover Photo Credit to Joel Kramer via Flickr Creative Commons License.  The cover makes no sense either.  No aliens, nothing other than an alley?  Consider the cover a missed opportunity too.

Book Details:

ebook
Published August 2013 by Westbrooke Jameson
edition language English
series The Unwanted