An Alisa Release Day Review: The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean (The Middlemark Mysteries #1) by Tara Lain

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Dr. Llewellyn Lewis leads a double life, as both an awkward but distinguished history professor and the more flamboyant Ramon Rondell, infamous writer of sensational historical theories. It’s Ramon who first sets eyes on a gorgeous young man dancing in a club, but Llewellyn who meets teaching assistant Blaise Arthur formally at an event held for wealthy socialite Anne de Vere, descendant of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford—who some believe was the real Shakespeare. Anne wants Llewellyn to prove that claim, even though many have tried and failed. And she’s willing to offer a hefty donation to the university if he succeeds.

It also means a chance for Llewellyn to get to know Blaise much better.

Not everyone thinks Llewellyn should take the case—or the money. Between feuding siblings, rival patrons, jealous colleagues, and greedy administrators, almost anyone could be trying to thwart his work… and one of them is willing to kill to do it.

When Anne de Vere turns up dead, the police believe Blaise is the murderer. Only the shy, stuttering professor who has won his heart can prove otherwise….

This was a fascinating story.  Llewellyn is adorably shy and when he is himself he prefers to hide away in his office behind books and research.  Blaise easily draws everyone in and wants nothing more than to catch Llew.

Llew if trying to decide what to do with pressure from all sides and no one really caring how he feels about it.  But Blaise stands by him and throws everything he ever thought about himself out the window.  But the truth about why Blaise is at MIddlemark may keep them apart.

I loved Llewellyn, even though he is crazy shy he can stand up for himself too and it was easy to understand him as most of the story is through his eyes.  It was great to see him find someone who wants to care for him and doesn’t see him as a burden.  Only a small portion is seen through Blaise’s eyes and when we do see his thoughts it’s easy to see how conflicted he is about what he is doing but his actions really show how he feels.  I can’t wait to see what else happens around Middlemark.

I love the cover art by Kanaxa is give so man little visuals from the story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages

Published: July 31, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-486-9

Edition Language: English

Series: Middlemark Mysteries #1

A Stella Review: Lock Nut (Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) by JL Merrow

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

Still waters run deadly.

Tom Paretski, plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, and his private investigator fiancé Phil Morrison have been hired to locate a runaway husband, Jonathan Parrot. The job seems simple enough—until their quarry turns up dead in a canal, and a photofit of Tom’s face is splashed all over the news, making him chief suspect.

The widow, petite ex–porn star Lilah Lovett, is convinced her husband was killed by his gay lover, but Tom and Phil aren’t so sure. Worried they may have precipitated Jonathan’s death, they’re determined to find the real killer. But with a web of incestuous ties linking the suspects, it’s hard to know who to trust. Especially when a second victim dies a gruesome death.

Meanwhile, with their wedding looming and them sharing a house now, Tom’s worried it may all be too much, too fast. The last thing he needs are the mixed messages Phil seems to be sending out. They’ll need to get back on the same track if they want to make it to their honeymoon together—and alive.

I’m crazy about this author works, I saw the name and pick every new book without even reading the blurb. That said, I have a confession to make: this time I screwed up. I was over the moon as soon as I received Lock Nut and like an osbessed I started reading it. From the beginning I realized something was wrong. I couldn’t remember Tom and Phil’s story and since Lock Nut is the fifth book in the series I wasn’t understanding how could I not. I went to Goodreads to check and realized my mistake: I mixed The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries with The Shamwell Tales series.  While I read all the titles in the second series, I completely and consciously ignored the first one because I’m not so into psychic abilities combined with mystery, it’s not my thing, I am a huge chickenshit. When will I learn to (at least) read a title and a series name and not just the author?

Anyway I decided to teach myself a lesson and went on with the reading, positive it was going to be a disaster. I found it impossible to not just like a story but actually understand the MCs, an established couple that met and told their stories in the last FOUR books of the series.

I had to change my mind, the author proved me wrong. And this is one more reason why I love her works, even if to me it’s so freaking hard to read her so British writing.

Not once I thought about giving up, there was nothing to give up, the plot was clear and I beautifully saw Phil and Tom, I knew them quite well, sure there is so much more to know, so many details and adventures I missed, but I learnt their natures and tempers, I saw their love. They “worked” (well, it’s more Phil’s job) so good together, throught moments of laughs and hotness, sweetness and banters.  And now I have to catch up on the series, hoping Lock Nut isn’t the last book.

The cover art by Chistine Coffee is not a winner to me, there is nothing special about it, sorry I don’t like it.

SALE LINKS:  RIPTIDE   |  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 330 pages

Published May 12th 2018 by Riptide Publishing

ASIN B07D23W4Z6

Edition Language English

Series The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries #5

Vicki Reese on Writing, Characters, and her new release No Tears for Darcy (author interview)

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No Tears for Darcy by Vicki Reese
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Vicki Reese here today talking about writing, characters and her new release No Tears for Darcy.  Welcome, Vicki.

 

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Vicki Reese ~

 

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?:  I’m not sure. I’d say a little of me goes into all of them. Actually, a little of a lot of people that I know. I take bits and pieces of myself and everyone I know and those pieces go into my characters.
  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?: With a degree in Library Science, I love research. I can get lost in the research – which is not always a good thing! LOL. As for making up my own worlds and cultures – that is my first love, but to do it right requires a lot of research so the two are not mutually exclusive. I’ve been known to create entire worlds in the sand while vacationing, but when I bring those worlds (in the form of pictures) back home, then I get to work researching to make them viable, whether contemporary or fantasy or science fiction. You have to make it real for yourself and the reader.
  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing? Sort of. I read a lot and always have – in a lot of different areas. From Shakespeare to Asimov. From DuMaurier to Clancy. I read almost everything – so for me, it came down to picking one (or three). And some that are my favorite to read I don’t write (like historical fiction).
  • Do you like HFN or HEA? Why?: It has to be HEA for me. I’m a firm believer in HEA and committed relationships. Yes, it takes work and it’s not always easy, but there has to be that “hope” that the couple will make it. After all, they’ve already made it through the worst, so the rest can’t be bad, right? I need that happiness and hope that all will work out. I’ve read several HFN and they just didn’t work as well for me because I didn’t have that feeling they would stay together. I need that for a satisfying ending.
  • Do you read romances?: Definitely. I started reading romances in college and haven’t stopped. In all genres- historical, contemporary, paranormal, suspense – you name it, if it’s a romance, I read it.
  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?:  I know for a lot of readers, that’s all they read, and that’s fine. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it. I definitely prefer the feel of a book in my hand, not my tablet (or computer). But, after a recent issue with my vision, I find that I like being able to enlarge the text and that means ebooks. Plus, as I’ve moved a lot over the years (23 times so far), it’s a lot easier to move a library of ebooks than my actual library. As to where it’s going… your guess is as good as mine. Ebooks are here to stay…until something better comes along. LOL
  • How do you choose your covers?: I’m fortunate to have worked with some great artists for my covers. I give them what I would like, and they come up with amazing drafts. For me, I usually like one or two of the main characters, a little of one of the settings, good fonts, and colors that carry the mood of the piece. I’m not a fan of “cartoonish” covers-though they work for many books. But I don’t like them for mine. I like the characters to be real, for both myself and the reader.
  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories and why?: That’s like asking if I have a favorite child. They’re all my favorites. LOL. From the first silly story I wrote as a child to my latest novel, they all mean something special to me.
  • What’s next for you as an author?: I’m currently working on my next romantic suspense for Dreamspinner as well as a high fantasy story I hope to shop around.
  • Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work, then years later you loved it?: Actually, No Tears for Darcy is one of those stories. I wrote this several years ago, but the timing wasn’t right for it. Then I met Dreamspinner and, voila… a love was born.
  • Ever drunk-written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?: LOL!! No, sorry. Due to a medical condition, I don’t drink. But I have written while under the influence of medication – interesting outcome, but it made little sense so it didn’t make it in.
  • If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?: I kind of have that now. I have a private office with a great view outside, good music on the stereo, multiple bookshelves stuffed to overflowing and a big, comfy chair to sit in. Back before the kids grew up, I wished for a place like this instead of the chaos of the kitchen table. Funny thing is, I miss that chaos, but I cannot write in a place like a coffee shop or the library. I find those surroundings too distracting—watching people, listening to conversations, and so on. So I’m good with where I am.
  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain? To get away? To move past? Why do you write?: I write to escape. To show a better world, or a world where the possibility of a HEA exists. Where someone normal like me can face difficulties and still come out on top of things. I write to give hope to myself and my readers. In today’s world, we all need a little hope, and happiness. We all need our HEA, even if only for a short while.

 

About No Tears for Darcy

Letting love pass them by would be a crime.

Former forensic accountant Cameron has lost nearly everyone he’s ever loved, and now his vintage clothing shop has been broken into and trashed. When town police chief Will Carson asks an out-of-town cop friend of his for help, Cam takes one look at the dark-haired, blue-eyed detective and knows he’s in real trouble—and it has nothing to do with vandalism or murder.

Pete Minchelli is on leave from his job in Philadelphia due to a gunshot wound, but he figures he can help an academy buddy with some light police work. Plus, he’ll have a chance to experience small-town life. He’s tired of the big city and all its corruption. But he quickly discovers that not all the bad stuff happens in cities. What he doesn’t expect to find is death, treachery—or love.

A Stella Pre-Release Review: When the Devil Wants In by Cate Ashwood and JH Knight

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RATING 3,75 out of 5 stars

John Turner has been living a lie most of his life. Growing up in the rural Georgia town of Magnolia Ridge, he’s only ever let one person truly know him: his best friend, Chloe. To the rest of the world, they’re the perfect couple, but just between them, she’s helping John hide in plain sight.

Matt Kinsley, a cop from San Francisco, moves to town looking for a slower pace and to reconnect with his Southern roots. Starting over in Magnolia Ridge means taking a step into the closet, but Matt finds that with John for company, he doesn’t mind so much.

As the two start to explore a possible relationship, a horrific murder rips the town apart but brings John and Matt together in ways neither could’ve imagined. Matt must decide where his loyalties lie while John resists the urge to run again. Together, they have to discover who the real devil is before another life is destroyed.

I was over the moon when I saw two of my favorite authors were going to coauthor a book together and I was more than happy when I finally had the story on my Kindle. I love both authors writing style and mixed they delivered a lovely novel. I truly enjoyed  reading about Matt and John’s love. I liked how their relationship developed and the attraction between them was clear from the first time, as it was clear something more important was going to happen, no matter that the future could be against them.

I liked the plot, I found myself into the story from the start.  I liked the characters, not just the main ones, interesting and well defined. Matt and John were well portrayed, they were realistic persons, with their huge baggage and flaws. The writing was very well done, perfect in every detail, even the sex scenes were hot and steamy. And I have to say I enjoyed the mystery part too, although I’m not a huge fan of mysteries in general.

When The Devil Wants In could have been a huge success because as I said, I loved a lot of things, but some little particulars left me dubious and brought me to the point that I couldn’t give the novel the full four stars. First of all, although I like the mystery part because it was good and I wasn’t able to guess the murderer at all, I really think it was unnecessary to go where the authors decided to go (I can’t say more, I would reveal too much), to me it was unexpected and evil. Nonetheless I can understand this could be just me and my love for the characters. Still, in my opinion the pages needed to solve the mystery should have been better used to develop more the relationship between the MCs and better understand them together. In fact I have to say I enjoyed the first half part of the book more than the second, simply because the focus wasn’t anymore on the romance but moved to an hurtful event that took too much away from Matt and John.

At the end, I enjoyed When The Devils Wants In a lot and I will strongly welcome other works from these authors.

The cover art by Cate Ashwood has a meaning, the flowers are on it for a reason, and that’s why I like it.

SALE LINKS Dreamspinner Press

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, First, 264 pages

Expected publication: January 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ASIN B078X5Q28C

Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Roaring Waters (The Warfield Hotel Mysteries #3) by CJ Baty

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Damien Fitzgerald has lived through hell and is determined to never let anyone get close to him again. A fervent reporter, he throws his life into his work and doesn’t care whose toes he steps on. But someone else does. He’s got a stalker, and the messages are growing increasingly threatening. He turns to his best friend, Justin Warfield and his lover, Private Investigator Marcus Drummond. Seems like a good idea until Robert Wyler becomes part of the package.

 

Robert Wyler, the manager of the bar at the Warfield Inn, has always been misunderstood. Sure he takes care of his body, wears his hair long and likes tatts, but that doesn’t mean he’s domineering. A cold exterior hides the more passionate man inside. Men like Damien Fitzgerald get on his nerves. Too good looking. Too arrogant. But when Justin and Marcus needed his help to guard the man from a stalker, Robert couldn’t say no.

 

Damien and Robert have a history. Whenever they are near each other sparks fly. Can Damien and Robert get past their prejudices to find the real men hiding underneath. Will they find love before the stalker gets to Damien and their chance at happiness is destroyed forever…

 

This was a nice addition to the Warfield Hotel Mysteries series, this book focuses on a different couple than the first two books which makes it possible to read this book without reading the others.  However, you see much of the previous characters and it does reference things that happened before but they are described quite well.

 

Damien and Robert have been hurt in different ways by previous lovers and have to learn to accept that their first impression of each other might not be all they are about.  Damien has spent years staying busy to distract himself from his past while continuing to push people away when they get to close after he was abused by a previous lover.  Robert hasn’t had a long term lover in a long time and know how others view him and is tired of not living up to others’ assumptions.

 

In this story we get to see both characters’ points of view which allows us to understand them better and what they were thinking and feeling.  Damien rips Robert’s heart out when he pushes him away when he gets scared of his own feelings.  Robert gets over his feelings and will to anything to protect Damien from the man who is stalking him.  Throughout most of the book I thought I knew who it was that was behind everything but it turns out to be someone else and he surprises everyone.  I loved seeing the characters from the previous books and am excited to see what will be happening for Christmas at the Warfield.

 

Cover art by Select-O-Grafix is great and gives a great visual of Damien.

 

Sales Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

Book Details:

ebook, 194 pages

Published: July 24, 2017

Edition Language: English

Series: The Warfield Hotel Mysteries #3

A MelanieM Review: Crossing Jordan by Shannon West

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

A complicated web of lies threatens Jace’s life and he must fight his way to happiness through a maze of romance, murder and intrigue.

Jace O’Neal is slowly rebuilding his life after a disastrous romance with an actor named Dylan Malone in NYC sends him back to Atlanta in disgrace. Living with his mother and his brother, a fourteen-year-old with Fragile X syndrome, one of the known causes of autism, Jace is pursued by Malone, who finally persuades him into another relationship. Then Dylan goes missing and the evidence left at the scene points to Jace’s involvement.

The detective on the case, Will Jordan, is drawn to Jace right away, and learns that Jace’s former lover was manipulative and cruel. Will fights his attraction to Jace as he seeks the truth of what happened to Malone. As more clues emerge and point to Jace, Jordan begins to believe Jace is in danger. A complicated web of lies threatens Jace’s life and he must fight his way to happiness through a maze of romance, murder and intrigue.

I’m just not a fan of this book.  I don’t know, maybe it hit me at the  wrong time, maybe I’m the wrong audience but I just  couldn’t get behind either the characters or this story.

It’s not the author because I’m such a fan of Shannon West’s other series like her Mate of the Tyger Prince series. Or her Dark Hollow Wolf Pack series, both excellent.  No,  its several elements here that bother the bejezaas out of me.  Usually, once that happens there’s no recovery and there wasn’t one here.

It starts with the character of Jace O’Neal.  There’s a fine line between domestic violence victim and doormat in characterization.  To me, Jace reads doormat.  He all but paints a huge V on his forehead and puts a kick-me sign on the back.  I had a complete lack of empathy with him (not so in other books with stories with characters who are victims of domestic violence).  Its doesn’t help in that the way in which the narrative is laid out we are distanced from that part of Jace’s life.  It’s almost told in abstract, it’s that removed from the storyline flashback style.  So there’s no immediate effect for the reader other than Jace’s retelling which comes off as less than impactful.  His actions continued to confound me throughout the storyline. Smh.

Another element that is also connected to Jace is that of his brother Tyler, a 14 year old with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome.  Much is made of this and yet not enough.  Tyler is used more to make important plot points and less as someone real and important to Jace.  At least that’s how it came across to me.  There’s no mention of getting any sort of assistance for him and at one point Jace tries to hug him, surprised when that doesn’t go over well.  Tyler is repeatedly exposed to  violence,  physical abuse and yet, again,  Jace is shocked that Tyler is aware that it’s happening in a small house.  Jace is treating him as though he’s deaf and stupid at times here.  How could you be unaware that someone is being beaten and shouted at in a small house? Yes, Jace is so stunned that he starts crying.  I almost stopped reading right there.

There’s the detective who falls for him (and starts sleeping with him while on the case) and the mystery that quite frankly you will have figured out soon into the story.  The whole thing just had no credibility for me.  This will send me running right back to West’s Mate of the Tyger Prince series to remember why I love her writing so.

Cover art is sort of cool.

Sales Links:  MLR Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 177 pages
Published May 12th 2017 by MLR Press (first published May 9th 2017)
ASINB071VJFF44

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter: Book One) by C.S. Poe and narrated by Derrick McClain

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

First of all, kudos to Derrick McClain for his outstanding performance of the characters in this story. His vocalizations were varied and seemed perfect for each one. That is especially true for the voice he gave Sebastian Snow, the geeky bookworm and antique store owner. Even with my eyes closed, I’d realize that voice belonged to a geek. It was perfect. So, getting this story in audio will set the stage for a very pleasant listening experience.

Now, for the story. I need to say that the audiobook doesn’t contain a note from the author, which I found out was present in the e-book version. That note apparently states that these characters are intended to be a tribute to Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English Mysteries, so at first I wondered why the story was so eerily familiar. And then I went to the reviews posted for the e-book version and read about the author’s fascination with, and tribute to, that series—one which is an all-time favorite among many, many MM romance readers.

Once I understood that, I was able to relax and enjoy all that unfolded in this book. This murder mystery took place in the world of antique and bookshop owners and involved the mystery of who was trying to find and steal a very rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane. Along the way, Sebastian Snow and his live-in lover, Neil, a deeply closeted cop, break up and Sebastian ends up in bed with the investigator of the murder mystery, Calvin Winter. Over the course of the story the romance between Snow and Winter develops to the point where we have a HFN by the end of the book.

I likely would have scored this book higher if Sebastian didn’t have sex with Calvin before he and Neil officially broke up, and in fact, it seemed as if it happened while Neil’s head indent was still on the pillows on the bed. Too soon for me, it smacked of cheating so it left me disinclined to be pleased for him, though by the end I really liked Calvin and wanted him to find happiness. I also think it’s critical that an author’s note be included in an audiobook when it includes an important piece of information as this one apparently did so I can’t give this more than 4 stars overall—3 for the story and 1 extra for the outstanding narration.

Because of Derrick’s narration, I enjoyed this story enough to highly recommend the audiobook to lovers of MM romance, geeks, and mystery.

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The predominantly white cover by Reese Dante features a gray-and-white rendition of Sebastian with a faint gray-on-white picture of a raven in the background. It suits the story perfectly.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications |  Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Time: 7 hrs 58 min

Audiobook

DSP Publications
Published March 30th 2017 (first published August 30th 2016)
Edition Language English
Series Snow & Winter #1

A Stella New Release Review: Back to You by Chris Scully

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.

Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.

As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.

I was a little scared to read this new release from Chris Scully, although she is one of my favorite authors, I’m really not a huge fan of mystery stories. I like my readings to be funny, light and sweet. And it’s hard to find a good mystery with these elements in it too. But I couldn’t skip it, so I approached it being a little wary of what I was going to have on my hands. And I was surprised.

Back to You is a beautiful novel, it’s about love, about regrets, about making amends, about deaths, more than one. I found myself in a mystery twenty-years old. A mystery I was sure where it was going on from the start, and I so appreciate the author gave it a little twist and proved me wrong. I so preferred the resolve she chose.

If you already read something else from this author, you know she can write pretty well, she can bring the reader into each new world, new character she creates. Back to You was no exception. I found myself into the characters’ lives and being with them was an amazing journey. Alex and Ben  twenty years later should be two strangers and for a lot of things maybe they are, but inside they are the same boys, as the same is the strong connection between them, not just a chemistry but an understanding line that runs deep.  A connection that doesn’t turn into sex as soon as they see each other again because there is too much going on around them.

All the characters are real, buried in problems like we are, they are flawed and weak. They suffered and are still hurting.

“I see you, Ben Morning,” I whispered, resisting the urge to fold him in my arms right there in the rotunda of the Community Hall. “I’ve always seen you. All these years. I didn’t know how much I missed you, how much a part of me you still were, until I was here again.” The words were out before I knew they were there, ready to be said. “And I wish I could do everything over, but I can’t. I just . . . I want you to know that.”

I feel to recommend Back to You (and in general ALL the books by this author) to everyone who is looking for a good story, well written, with a great setting and characters well developed. It totally deserves five full stars.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is well done, I especially like the colors and it’s fitting.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 266 pages

Expected publication: June 12th 2017 by Riptide Publishing

ISBN 1626495742 (ISBN13: 9781626495746)

Edition Language English

Release Blitz and Giveaway – Rick R Reed’s Dinner at the Blue Moon Cafe

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner


Paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner


Publisher: Dreamspinner Press


Length: 67,000 words


Cover: Aaron Anderson


Blurb

Blurb


A monster moves through the night, hidden by the darkness, taking men, one by one, from Seattle’s gay gathering areas.

Amid an atmosphere of crippling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love working in an Italian restaurant called the Blue Moon Café. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and… he can cook!

As their romance heats up, the questions pile up. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And more importantly, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

The strength of Thad and Sam’s love will face the ultimate test when horrific revelations come to light beneath the full moon.

Excerpt

From the moment Thad stepped through the front door of the Blue Moon Café, the décor cleared up any mystery about what kind of food they served. The little café, with its mahogany bar along one wall, its grouping of maybe a dozen tables, and its faux-tin ceiling, could have been straight out of central casting for “Italian joint.” Thad saw the requisite checkered tablecloths, the oil paintings of Italian landmarks like the canals of Venice, the Coliseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and St. Peter’s Square. And yes, each table sported a candle plugged into the opening of an empty green-glass Chianti bottle. A TV sat above the bar, thankfully turned off.

“Buona Sera” by Louis Prima played from the overhead speaker system. Thad was certain the rest of the evening would be peppered with the likes of Dean Martin, Jerry Vale, Rosemary Clooney, and of course, Sinatra. Underneath the music was the usual restaurant orchestra: conversation, laughter, the clink of glassware and the tinkle of silverware.

The scents of garlic, oregano, basil, and tomatoes perfumed the air. Over a counter at the rear of the restaurant, Thad could see into the kitchen: a wood-burning oven, chefs busy at their stations, the occasional upsurge of flame as one of them poured alcohol into a pan and ignited it by tipping the pan. Thad’s mouth began to water.

He already liked this place.

And he liked it even more when he saw the bartender, who was busy drying wineglasses and reaching up to hang them upside down on a rack above the bar. He was a compact little guy, olive skin and shaved head. His muscles tested the endurance of the black T-shirt he wore, and even from his vantage near the hostess stand, Thad could make out the thick black five o’clock shadow that covered his jaw. He was just the kind of guy Thad fantasized about. One who would take him roughly and be in charge.

Stop it, now! I’m in Green Lake, not Capitol Hill. This guy probably has a wife and two kids at home and would not appreciate how I’m imagining how he would look should the seams of that tight T-shirt burst and reveal a defined and hairy chest. He wouldn’t cotton at all to my thoughts of wondering how his asshole would taste, for cryin’ out loud.

Or maybe he would….

Thad grinned and bounced up and down a couple of times on his heels, feeling strangely energized and definitely a little smitten.

Shut up, horndog. Behave yourself.

 

 

Author Bio 

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

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Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed

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A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter #2) by C.S. Poe

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Life has been pretty great for Sebastian Snow. The Emporium is thriving and his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter, is everything he’s ever wanted. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Sebastian’s only cause for concern is whether Calvin should be taken on a romantic date. It’s only when an unknown assailant smashes the Emporium’s window and leaves a peculiar note behind, that all plans get pushed aside in favor of another mystery.

Sebastian is quickly swept up in a series of grisly yet seemingly unrelated murders. The only connection tying the deaths together are curiosities from the lost museum of P.T. Barnum. Despite Calvin’s attempts to keep Sebastian out of the investigation, someone is forcing his hand, and it becomes apparent that the entire charade exists for Sebastian to solve. With each clue that’ll bring him closer to the killer, he’s led deeper into Calvin’s official cases.

It’s more than just Sebastian’s livelihood and relationship on the line—it’s his very life.

The Mystery of the Curiosities is an intellectual interpretation of a murder mystery. I’m not a mystery reader. I never read any of the classic or watched any mystery programs. But, this series drew me in with great characters, interesting clues, and a lot of new facts. Like Sebastian, I love to know a lot of useless facts and information.

If you are looking for a realistic contemporary story, this isn’t one. You must give the characters, but especially the events, a lot of leeway. The facts, the settings, and most of the clues in the book are real, but everything is a bit over the top. Solutions come quick, and a sense of mysticism surrounds the story.

Sebastian’s dad is one of my favorite characters and Neil is a close second. There’s great banter between Calvin and Sebastian, and their relationship works great with the clues. The settings were very detailed and it was easy to understand their importance and how all the details added up in the end.

If you’re into detective’s stories with an intellectual edge, this is a good book to read. It moves fast and keeps the reader wanting to know more about the next clue. Looking forward to other installments in this series.

The cover by Reese Dante fits perfectly with the events of the story and gives the reader another good look at Sebastian. Also, it matches the first one in the series.

Sale Links: DSP | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: March 7, 2017, by DSP Publishing
ISBN: 9781635332650
Edition Language: English

Series:  Snow & Winter
Book #1: The Mystery of Nevermore
Book #2: The Mystery of the Curiosities