An Alisa Release Day Review: Confessions (Reno PD Case Files #1) by Ethan Stone

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

ConfessionsA serial killer known as the Confessor is kidnapping and torturing gay men, and Reno Police Department Evidence Technician Leif Carson is determined to catch him.

 

His personal life isn’t any less stressful. Despite being a virgin and having zero experience with men, he can’t stop thinking about his best friend’s ex, Rafe Castillo. Rafe is suffering from PTSD, but that doesn’t stop Leif from wanting to be with him.

 

Complete opposites, they’re an amazing fit once they do get together—until Rafe’s PTSD gets in the way and he walks away from the relationship before it has a chance to truly blossom. Even though he has intense feelings for the man, Leif has no choice but to let him go.

 

When the Confessor kidnaps Rafe, Leif does everything possible to locate him before he’s murdered. Rafe’s near-death experience changes him profoundly, but the danger isn’t over yet. Leif and Rafe will have to face pure evil together if they’re going to last.

 

This was a great story.  From the very beginning Leif is doing everything he can to help fine the confessor along with his friends also working at the police department while still trying to learn how to have his own personal life.

 

Leif is the only single person in his group of friends and really wants to find someone to love and have someone to love him.  When Leif brings his friend’s ex home to sleep off his drunkenness the events of the next morning give him hope that he may have found that person.  However, a misunderstanding on Rafe’s part send him right back into a drunken haze.

 

This story is told from Colin’s view, but it is told in such a way that I could still understand the other characters feelings in addition to Colin’s.  When Rafe disappears after their misunderstanding he won’t let anything get in his way to find Rafe while also finding the Confessor.  Colin is so innocent when it comes to relationships, but also so grown up with how he acts it was nice not having the younger person throwing a fit as is often seen.  This book is a spin-off of Ethan’s Flesh series, but it isn’t necessary to read them to connect with this story since it didn’t rely on the events of those books.  I can’t wait for another book in this series to see more of these characters.

 

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is wonderful and sets a tone for the story.

 

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon | OmniLit

 

Book Details:

ebook, 216 pages

Published: August 12, 2016 by DSP Publications

ISBN-13: 9781634771788

Edition Language: English

Series: Reno PD Case Files #1

A MelanieM Review: The Boy with the Painful Tattoo (Holmes & Moriarity #3) by Josh Lanyon

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Boy with the Painful Tattoo coverStill dealing with the fallout from their recent investigation and murder,  mystery author Christopher “Kit” Holmes decided to overcome his misgivings and move in with his lover and fellow mystery writer, Julian Xavier “JX” Moriarity, a decision that has precipitated a move to San Francisco and a new house.  What could go wrong?

Well, almost everything.  With boxes still piled all around them, JX heads off to the Murder at Midtown conference, leaving Kit to ponder on the wisdom of this latest move…relationship and house.  Still, nothing  prepares Kit for the dead body under the Styrofoam beads in the crate that should have contained his old and treasured china.

Packing will have to wait while more mysteries pop up to solve along with dead bodies.  Who is the dead man?  Why is he in Kit and JX’s crate?  And importantly, what happened to Kit’s china?

I have been waiting for another book in the Holmes & Moriarity series since December 2010 when I finished the marvelous story, All She Wrote (Holmes & Moriarity #2).  The aftermath of the murders and events of that novel were nothing short of earthshattering. And that story left me wonderfing what would happen next…to both our main characters as well as their relationship.  Now, four years later I finally have my answer with The Boy With The Painful Tattoo (Holmes & Moriarity #3). Well, sort of, and I couldn’t be happier.

I said “sort of” because as any fan of Josh Lanyon’s and his stories know, nothing is ever a sure thing, including an absolutely happy resolution with his characters or their relationships.  Whether it is Adrien English and his lover, the tormented, closeted Jake Riordan (who make guest appearances here), or Kit Holmes and JX Moriarity, the foundation on which their lives and relationships is built lies on shaky ground, a terrain where you almost expect to see the fissures and cracks that habitually appear to threaten their relationship, sanity, and in some cases, their lives.  Also well known to us fans is that the source for some of these ruptures and interruptions spring from and are self inflicted by the complex, introspective and wounded men that Josh Lanyon writes so well.

We live in the mind of Kit Holmes in this series and what a mind that is!  Highly intelligent, questioning, somewhat quarrelsome, and introspective, Kit’s emotionally and mentally scattered when we jump into their new life and home on Chestnut Lane.  His decision, prompted by the awful events in the last book, to move in with JX has seen him give up his home in Southern California to move with all his treasured belongings to San Francisco where JX can be close to his ex wife and nephew (long story, read the books).  And at every step and moment we know (as we are listening into his internal monologue) that Kit constantly questions whether he has done the right thing, if their relationship will work out, and how will they juggle the changing dynamics that the reversal in their career fortunes is introducing into their partnership.  There is so much stuff crammed into that brilliant skull that it would be exhausting for all trying to untangle it if it wasn’t also so marvelously entertaining.  And wouldn’t Kit just hate that!

I adore Kit in all his difficult, brooding glory but I have also fallen in love with  JX, a  man with his own “quieter” set of issues and problems.  JX is an author whose career is on the rise just as Kit’s popularity as an author and mystery genre is falling out of favor.  But whereas Kit’s wears his foibles and somewhat contentious nature like a well fitted suit, JX’s flaws and complexities are far more subtle, needing a major crash, explosion or even murder to bring them out into the open.  The juxtaposition of these two strong personalities as they struggle to maintain a relationship or investigation makes this series and this book always absorbing and highly addictive.

How can you not love a man whose just had the best, most explosive sex of his life,, and then spends the next moments pondering (internally of course) what’s wrong with it, them and himself?  All while still in bed, naked and sweaty?  If, as Socrates says “an unexamined life is not worth living”, then Kit Holmes is living life to the fullest!

And there are more joys to be found with this latest installment of Holmes & Moriarity.  Their move onto Chestnut Lane has brought them a curious neighbor with the wonderful name of Emmaline Bloodworth.  Any one with a familiarity of British cozies should be rubbing their hands together in anticipation.  Here is our (and Kit’s) first introduction to her:

I saw a small person of indeterminate sex, dressed in baggy clothes. At first glance it appeared that one of the garden gnomes from next door had come to life. And had something to say about it.

“Good morning!” the gnome greeted me. She had one of those fluting, high voices that brought to mind Sunday school teachers and curators at the most macabre exhibits at the Tower of London. A voice like an ice pick through your left eye socket. “Welcome to the neighborhood. So sorry to disturb you on your first morning, but the movers must have broken one of the sprinkler heads along your front walk.”

“Oh. Uh…okay.”

As I seemed to be missing the point, she said kindly, “Water is shooting up like a geyser out there. There’s a drought going on, you know.”

She was probably in her sixties, but unlike my former mentor Anna Hitchcock, no effort here had been made to stave off the ravages of time. Not that she looked ravaged. Beneath the wide brim of her hat I could just make out twinkling blue eyes in a round and rosy face.

And yes, she has a cat which just happens to resemble in name and appearance the feline that figures so largely in Kit’s mystery novels.  Another mystery to solve?  I hope so.

And then there is Inspector Ishwar “Izzie” Jones, SFPD and JX’s former partner, Rachel Ving or Ving the Merciless as Kit’s agent is known who wants Kit to write Swedish type mysteries, JX’s ex wife and former sister in law Nina and Gage, her son and his nephew (really, you must read the first two stories).  The Boy with the Painful Tattoo is chock full of the most wonderful characters and intriguing situations you could hope for, especially in ones that act as secondary storylines along side the primary ones of murder most foul and a relationship still looking to find solid ground, albeit temporarily.

Yes, I loved this book, yes, I adore this series and I think any lover of mysteries (M/M or otherwise) will as well.  Combine a terrific mystery with two believable and charismatic men trying to balance lives, love, and careers and you have author whose series and main characters should be on everyone’s Must Have, Must Read lists.   I can’t wait to see what happens next in the lives of Holmes & Moriarity but if you are new to this couple, start with the first mystery where they are reunited in Somebody Killed His Editor (Holmes & Moriarity #1).  Continue onto All She Wrote (Holmes & Moriarity, #2), before arriving here at The Boy with the Painful Tattoo (Holmes & Moriarity, #3).  If you’ve been good or perhaps very, very naughty and good, you might find them in your eReader stocking!

I love Josh Lanyon and this story is just another reason why he should be on everyone’s top list of authors whose stories you must have.  Consider The Boy With The Painful Tattoo one of my Highly Recommneded Reads!

Cover art by L.C. Chase.  Love the cover.  It has that sort of Noir feel to it of the older mystery novel covers. Great job.

Sales Links:  Josh Lanyon        All Romance (ARe)         amazon                  buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Published October 5th 2014 by Just Joshin (first published October 3rd 2014)
original titleThe Boy with the Painful Tattoo
ISBN139781937909376
edition languageEnglish
seriesHolmes & Moriarity #3

Books in the  Holmes & Moriarity series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the timeline of events and relationship history:

Somebody Killed His Editor (Holmes & Moriarity #1)
All She Wrote (Holmes & Moriarity, #2)
The Boy with the Painful Tattoo (Holmes & Moriarity, #3)

 

A PaulB Review: Desert Foxe (Skyler Foxe Mysteries #5) by Haley Walsh

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 

DesertFoxe_WDWhile vacationing at Palm Spring’s annual White party, a dead body drops in front of high school English teacher Skyler Foxe’s feet. Skyler, his FBI boyfriend Keith, and the rest of the SFC are thrown into another mystery to solve.

Skyler Foxe and high school biology teacher and football coach Keith Fletcher have been dating for seven months. As spring break approaches, Skyler informs Keith that he wants to attend the annual White Party in Palm Springs. Keith, also an FBI agent on leave, is not really one for the party circuit. However, Skyler informs Keith that plans were made and paid for a year in advance. If they do not go, Skyler and his friends would be out a lot of money. After Skyler assures Keith that he is the only one for him, Keith agrees to go.

Once the members of the SFC (Skyler Fuck Club, a group of Skyler’s exes) arrive in Palm Springs, the action begins. While moving around the hotel they are staying at, Skyler discovers two of his underage students. As they don’t belong there, the group decides that Keith would drive the pair back home while the rest continue to dance. While dancing, a man who looks very much like Skyler falls down at his feet. The group thinks the guy might have just passed out from an overdose until they see blood.

Soon Skyler and Keith find out the dead man is an FBI agent working undercover in the area. It’s not just murder that Skyler and Keith are investigating but much, much more when the FBI want Skyler in a way none of them anticipated!

While this is the fifth installment of the Skyler Foxe mysteries, the author does a good job of giving enough background information so that it can be read alone. The relationship between Skyler and Keith reminds me of the one between Ricky and Lucy on “I Love Lucy.” Skyler wants to help Keith in solving his cases. Keith gets exasperated at Skyler’s attempts to help. But deep down the two love each other. The members of the SFC provide the Ethel to Skyler’s Lucy. No matter how crazy Skyler’s actions are, they reluctantly go along for the ride. Just like Ethel, they do their best to either prevent or minimize Skyler’s plans to no avail. Usually Skyler knows this going in. However, in this book, while Skyler is going undercover with Keith’s permission, they’re out of the loop. So they take it upon themselves to try to prevent another Skyler mishap.

I also enjoyed how the author brought aspects of Native American culture into the book. The discussion about Native American traditions and the previous reverence of “two-spirits” which has been eroded by exposure to modern thought was quite enlightening.

As usual, Ms Walsh provides a solid mystery and fun read. I recommend this book and series if you enjoy amateur detectives to go along with your romance.

The cover art by Winterheart Designs shows Skyler in the foreground next to a group of men partying above a scene of Palm Springs. It does well setting the stage for the book.

Sales Links: MLR Press              All Romance eBook              amazon               Buy It Here!

Book Details
Ebook, 232 pages
Published: November, 2014 by MLR Press
Edition: English

Series: Skyler Foxe Mysteries
Foxe Tail (Skyler Foxe Mysteries #1)
Foxe Hunt (Skyler Foxe Mysteries #2)
Out Foxed (Skyler Foxe Mysteries #3)
Foxe Den (Skyler Foxe Mysteries #3.5)
Foxe Fire (Skyler Foxe Mysteries #4)
Desert Foxe (Skyler Foxe Mysteries #5)

Review: Delsyn’s Blues (Vasquez & James #2) by Lou Sylvre

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Rating:  4.25 stars out of 5

DelsynsBluesLGAfter the deranged events of last summer, things should have gotten better, less complicated for fiber artist Sonny James and security specialist Luki Vasquez. Instead, it all sort of imploded.  Sonny sent Luki away while his nephew Delsyn recovered from his ordeal at the hands of his kidnapper.  And while Luki roamed Chicago wondering where it all went wrong, Sonny hid in his house, haunted by guilt and plagued by his fears.  Both separate, alone and missing each other.

Then the unthinkable happens and Luki is called back to Port Clifton, to help Sonny deal with his grief, and a police investigation that points to Sonny as their main suspect.  Sonny is drowning under the depths of his feelings of guilt and remorse.  He has raised a barrier between himself and Luki that Luki is finding hard to pull down.  But just as those barriers seem to be shattering, a man from Sonny’s past comes between them and their future.

All around Luki and Sonny is shrouded by the mists from their past and the uncertainties of their present.  As more violent acts occur and the investigations widen, Luki and Sonny aren’t sure who they can trust, even each other.

A voice singing the blues points the way, but will Sonny and Luki hear the sad refrains in time to save them all?

Delsyn’s Blues is the second book in the Vasquez and James series from Lou Sylvre.  The first story, Loving Luki Vasquez, pulled me into these amazing characters with their haunted pasts and complicated lives.  Each character is so different from each other and others that I have read about.  Especially Sonny Bly James, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Yakama and a fiber artist whose weavings are highly sought after.  The minutiae of Sonny’s craft is intriguing, especially his dyes.  It gives him an unexpected depth of background and unique quality to his character.  Sonny is grounded by his art, his mind awash with colors, designs and fibers of all types.  He is a person who seems scattered by those who don’t know him.  And Lou Sylvre is slowly revealing Sonny’s depths and complications book by book.  What an amazing journey we are on with these characters.

But Luki Vasquez, of Basque and Hawaiian roots, is Sonny’s equal with his Hawaiian ethnicity a large measure of Luki’s personality and family support system.  Luki’s past is one he wears on his face, but the scarring inside goes much deeper than the one that bisects the side of his face.  He too has a past full of pain and trauma, only some of which we know about. Both men find strength in their native heritage and that is so important here in Delsyn’s Blues where both Sonny and Delsyn are/were tribal dancers each in their own manner of style and dance.  This element of Delsyn’s Blues and the series are one of its highlights for me.  Luki and Sonny’s close connections to their heritage provides a foundation for each man and a support system if they choose to use it.

Around these two multidimensional characters flow plots of great intricacy and deceit.  And it reverberates from one story to the next, the past like a river who continues to overflow its banks and cover all the events to follow, its dirty waters touching everything and everyone in its path.  Delsyn’s Blues opens one year after the end of Loving Luki Vasquez.   The men are separated and Delsyn is in a wheelchair due to his prior blood loss.  What a painful beginning for all, readers and characters alike!  From that moment on, we are in for one shock after another.   And it won’t stop until the book is over.

Are there things here readers will have issues with? Certainly, but Sylvre’s books have always had that element of realism and sometimes life just sucks to put it bluntly.  And once you get past the first shock, the rest of the story is gripping, suspenseful, and yes, frustrating.  I had a few more issues with this story than I did with Loving Luki Vasquez.  One issue?  I figured out almost immediately who one of the villains of the story is.  While I wish the author had made that a little harder to guess at, I found the anticipation she built around that person’s identity reveal  rewarding.

But my honest issue here?  Totally inconsequential but it bugs the heck out of me.  A drug dealer’s dog appears and goes along for the ride for about 1/3 to 1/4 of the story.  He becomes a real character.  He’s important until he totally disappears from the story, at least as much as I can figure.  He’s there then he’s not.  What happened to the darn dog?  Continuity!  It makes even the smallest things important when it is flawed.  So, if someone out there can tell me what happened to Bear, please I beg you tell me.  Did I miss something or did he really disappear?  (Note: I heard from the author, the dog is still around and latched onto  Luki.   We will see more of him later.)

Disappearing dog notwithstanding. I still highly recommend Delsyn’s Blues.  It’s an absorbing  story and its characters continue to grow in depth and backstory.  I love it when that happens.  Now on to Finding Jackie (Vasquez & James #3)!  Remember, please to read all these books in order.  It’s important for  character development and for understanding the events that occur.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  I love these covers, so beautiful and perfect for the stories and series.

 

Buy Links:     Dreamspinner Press        All Romance eBooks (ARe)     Amazon      Delsyn’s Blues

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 309 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB006SBC6KM
edition languageEnglish
seriesVasquez & James #2

Books in the Vasquez and James series to date in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events that transpire:

Loving Luki Vasquez (Vasquez & James, #1)
Delsyn’s Blues (Vasquez & James, #2)
Finding Jackie (Vasquez & James, #3)
Saving Sonny James (Vasquez & James #4)
Yes (A Vasquez and James Novella)
Because of Jade (Vasquez & James #5)

Review: Darkest Knight (City Knight #5) by T.A. Webb

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Darkest KNight coverMarcus Prater and his lover Benjamin Danvers have never been happier.  Marcus has reconciled with his brother Frankie and now Frankie and Frankie’s kids are now frequent visitors to his home.  His own wounds have healed as has Ben’s and now they are preparing for their first Thanksgiving as a couple.  What could go wrong?

Well, that would be everything.  Wick Templeton is missing along with his boyfriend Ned.  Archer calls, asking if Marcus has read that morning’s paper. Young, gay men are still turning up tortured and dead, including the twins mentioned in the headlines this morning.  Twins wearing medallions that hold a special meaning for Archer, Marcus and, of course, the missing Wick.

And when one of Marcus’ old contacts on the street, an underage prostitute called Brady,appears bruised and bleeding before Marcus with a startling request, one connected to Ben’s dead friend Travis.  Well, Marcus can’t say no and ends up bringing Brady home with him to keep him safe and to attend to his wounds.   So many painful memories arising, so many hidden secrets starting to come out.  Where will it all end?  Will this truly be the darkest night for Marcus, Ben and all those they love?

Just when I think this series can’t get any better, it surges into a whole new realm, expanding the storyline to incorporate more mysteries, hidden depths to characters we have already met, and exploring the new connections in old established relationships, adding texture and layers to already terrific characters and their bonds with each other.   Of all the books, Darkest Knight is the one that brings all the other men and their lovers together in one place, all but one.

Everyone has gathered together at Marcus and Ben’s place for Thanksgiving.  It starts out as a time of joy and  reconciliation then it turns  painful and bitter with one phone call.  Every  the buried emotions and old pain rushes out, first in Marcus and then in the others, leaving the new lovers to handle the situation.  I loved how  the author brings Jeremiah, Rory, and Ben into their own in this story.  Each demonstrates a new found strength and depth of character that is not only surprising but disarming.  It’s unexpected and finally grounds each man not only in their relationships to their lovers but with each other as well.  It’s wonderful in so many ways.  It redefines how we look at all the relationships present, it exposes old past histories while providing a new avenue of thought with regard to the mysterious deaths of young rent boys in the city.

I loved that T.A. Webb chose Thanksgiving as the occasion to bring them all together.  Its our traditional family holiday and these men have been each other’s family for over 15 years.  And the fact that one of them is not only missing but has kept secrets from some of them all that time is doubling their feelings of hurt and betrayal.  It’s a marked contrast to the new found love that most of the original members  have now found, with those lovers present and now incorporated into that tight band of men.

Then Webb adds Brady, an resilient, underage rent boy and Frankie, Marcus’ brother, to the mix and things really start to bounce out of control.   Brady is a wonderful little portrait of a kid thrown away at a hauntingly young age but has who succeeded in surviving the streets and the predators that hunt there, if only just.  I love Brady and want more of this amazing kid.

Here is a small excerpt as Marcus comes across Brady on the street:

And in every face, every kid standing there with all the false bravado, in every potential target, he saw his love.

He had to focus on their job tonight, though. One young man hadn’t made it, and it broke something in Benjamin when Travis had been murdered. Oh, he still went to school, and made love with Marcus, and joked with Jeremiah. But he’d tried to help the boy and it blew up in his face. And Wick…he’d said he would help and the boy slipped away and now he was dead. Goddamn it, Marcus needed Wick and that crazy Bayou or Banyon or whatever the hell his name was to help him find Travis’s killer.

The feel of his heart racing in his chest and the tension in his jaw from grinding his teeth made him stop, close his eyes, and take a couple of deep breaths. Getting mad at Wick wouldn’t do him any good right now. Now, his Benjamin needed him. So fuck Wick, he’d deal with him later. But that made him feel guilty for being mad at his brother, and then he was right back in the same loop.

“Mister Marcus?” He almost didn’t hear the small voice and walked past the kid hanging outside the alleyway leading up to the Zesto’s and McDonald’s. Glancing around, Marcus stepped in the space and nodded for the young man to walk with him.

“Brady. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. I was worried about you, son.” The boy—he was one of the younger ones Marcus had tried to keep his eye on before he’d been shot, and he’d lost track of him—was skinnier than he remembered, and his hair hung in greasy hanks around his face. He walked stiffly and slightly bent over, and all of Marcus’s red flags went off.

His head nodding as if he heard music no one else could hear, Marcus saw the sideways glance Brady gave him, and then looked around like he was scared of either being overheard or seen. Part of Brady’s twitches were affectations, so people would leave him alone or think him helpless. The fact of the matter was he’d been on the streets since he was twelve, and was alive now at the ripe old age of seventeen only by the grace of God and a buttload of tricks he’d learned over the years. If he was patient, Brady would tell him what he wanted or needed.

What happens next is both heartbreaking and startling in its intensity.  You really have to read it all to get the full benefit of Webb’s realistic descriptions and spot on dialog that brings this young man and his pain so vividly to life.  More than a few tissues will be needed before all the mysteries are solved and bonds can be knitted back together.

City Knight, of which Darkest Knight is the fifth book,  is one of four interconnected series.  The others are Triple Threat by LE Harner, Chances Are by Lee Brazil and Wicked’s Way by Havan Fellows.  You can read each series by themselves.  But read together, you will enter a rich world inhabited by strong, intelligent men, a gritty band of brothers and their lovers.  Grab them all up, and read them one after the other, starting with book one in each series.  Each is remarkable in their own right, but together form a Pulp Friction universe you will never want to leave.

Here are the books in the City Knight series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the men and their relationships and the events that occur:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)
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Book Details:

ebook, 60 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by A Bear on Books
edition language English

Review: Starry Knight (City Knight #3) by TA Webb

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

“What happens when two broken men collide?”

Starry KnightWhen Marcus Prater has found his Ben, several things happened at once, including an ambush by the very men who had raped Ben in the past.  The aftermath of that battle sees Marcus in the intensive care unit, surrounded by those who love him, his friends Wick, Zachary, Chance and of course Ben Danvers, the young prostitute that brought Marcus emotionally back to life after the death of his partner.

But Marcus needs to recover in more ways than just physically.  He needs to let go of his past if there is going to be room in his life for Ben and a future together.  It will take all his friends and more for Marcus and Ben to make the transition from a HFN to HEA.

Starry Knight is more about an internal investigation and exploration than an external one.  The past two stories have focused on the beginnings and rough path to romance for Marcus and Ben.  Marcus  withdrew from everyone around him who loved him in his grief over the death of Jeremy, his long term lover. Now with the arrival of Ben and the numerous setbacks their romance entailed, those friends have reappeared in Marcus’ life and its time for Marcus to ask for forgiveness and support.  And it is also time for those friends to let go of their anger and pain and give Ben their forgiveness as well.

I loved that this story turned inward and dealt with all the emotions and ramifications of Marcus’ past that had never been dealt with.  By bringing together all those people in the formerly close-knit group of friends, brothers in arms actually, the reader is given a clearer picture not only of their relationships but their past as well.  These passages are emotional punches to the gut not physical ones and many of them are long overdue.

T.A. Webb does a spectacular job of bringing the reader intimately into this group of strong individuals who consider themselves a family by choice instead of blood.   Or in their case, the blood may be that shed on each others behalf, a most singular blood tie that continues no matter how much rejection they might face from each other at any given time.  We have been bonding with all of these men through the various Pulp Friction series, and bringing them together gives a real feeling of totality that will satisfy the reader and in sure that we are hungry for more stories involving each of them.

But the most important element of this story is Marcus’ letting go of Jeremy and the love that meant everything to him.  It’s necessary in order for us (and Ben) to believe that there is a future available for this couple and the author  accomplishes this mission in a heartfelt and totally realistic series of emotional exchanges.  Starry Knight ends up being about emotional growth and acceptance, forgiveness and love.

However, this is also in keeping with the previous installments, so there is the rough talk, hot sex, and heart stopping moment of …..well, you will just have to get the book to read about the rest.  I love this series, and this couple,  Each additional story brings a new dimension and depth to their relationship and the dynamic group of men that supports them.   I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Consider this story and series highly recommended.

Stories in the City Knight series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events to follow:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)

Book Details:

ebook, 65 pages
Published June 13th 2013 by A Bear on Books
ISBN13 9781301484867

Review: Enigma by Lloyd A. Meeker

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Enigma coverSingle, fifty and gay Rhys “Russ”  Morgan is also a psychic empath, something that both helps him in his job as a Private Investigator and hurts when the contact is with someone whose thoughts and actions are less than honorable.  And his latest job is making those hidden gifts twitch and ache.

Russ has been hired to find out the identity of a blackmailer.  The blackmailer’s target is the high-profile televangelist whose son was supposedly “cured” of his homosexuality fifteen years ago in front of the televangelist’s congregation.  Now the blackmailer, using the songs from an Enigma’s album, The Cross of Changes, is sending notes and demands to the televangelist and the law office representing him thinks that “vengeful homosexuals” are behind the scheme.    Their solution?  Hire a homosexual to catch a homosexual.

Russ takes the case but not exactly for the reasons his clients think.  Justice wields a two sided sword and those cut by its blade are not always the ones you would expect.

The book Enigma was a lovely discovery for me.  I found a new author, new publisher and hopefully a new series to follow.  Lloyd A. Meeker is a find, and according to his acknowledgements, he is new to the mystery genre as well.  In my opinion, he did a great job.

I really enjoyed the character of Russ Morgan.  Older, currently sober and a psychic empath, he clearly has a huge story to tell.  I found him fascinating and the “voice” given to him by the author is intriguing. Its perfect in tone and vocabulary, as Russ’ age and experience just rolls off his tongue.  This holds true for Russ’ inner monologue, the reader’s companion throughout the story. In fact, I liked Russ Morgan so much that the tantalizing bits of information that we are offered about his past and his gift left me a little frustrated and wanting more, a good thing when laying out a series.

The other characters involved in the mystery are nicely fleshed out, very realistic human beings.  I believed in them and others will too. Colin, James, even the parsimonious Andrew Kommen capture and keep your interest as Russ winds his way through a labyrinth of lies fabricated by the reverend to protect  himself and his interests.

As a huge fan of the mystery genre, I will admit that I guessed the identity of the blackmailer early on.  However, that did not take away from my enjoyment of the story and the final reveal.  And I loved, loved, the use of songs from that Enigma album.  That was such a great element and it should send anyone not familiar with that band and their songs scrambling to iTunes for a listen to the compelling melodies and lyrics.

I recommend Enigma and Lloyd A. Meeker and can’t wait to see where he takes this series and detective next.

Cover art by Adrian Nichols, Art Director of  Wilde City Press.   Beautiful cover.

Book Details:

ebook. 18.000 words
Published August 28th 2013 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925031409

Guest Interview: Meet Havan Fellows!

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Good morning all!  We (the pups and I) are welcoming Havan Fellows, author and creator of the extraordinary Wick Templeton and the Wicked’s Ways series, to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words this morning.   Welcome, Havan. Here’s your cup of coffee, watch out for begging critters!. *shoos away the terrors three*.

Thank you so much for having me here today, Melanie. *looks around and sits on nice cushy couch* wow, it’s so different being here than just looking in. *pets the puppies jumping all around my ankles*

Oh thank you again…*sips coffee and smiles* now that is a good cup of brew. Hits the spot, you know? I guess I should introduce myself, my name is Havan Fellows and I get a personal high from telling tall tales. It’s a gift/curse—depending on who you talk to in my family. Because yes, my immediate family knows I write M/M fiction & romance (or depending how feisty I feel at the time erotic romance *winks*).

So what started me on the Wick Templeton bandwagon? It’s a simple story about how Wick came about – but one that is close to my heart.

Here’s how I first described Pulp Friction back in January when we went public:

PF is an exciting new venture that was born in that beautiful head of Laura Harner…one day she came to Tom Webb, Lee Brazil and me and said:

“Hey…what if we swung it this way? You know, have the edginess of some hard-as-nails men doing what they do—how they do it—and getting the things done. Sure there may not be a HEA right away (if ever)…but we’ll deliver the thrill of the quick read suspense with a splash of sexy! So come on…who wants to sha-wing it with me?”

Okay *blushes and ducks head*—that might not be what she said verbatim…but I was paraphrasing, honest! hehe

Um…yeah, silly as it sounds that little snippet describes PF practically perfectly (say that 5 times fast). Just about a year ago Laura came to us with an idea of doing shorts…in the old pulp fiction style.

We loved the idea immediately. It was something that would let us experience a different side of our writing. We brain stormed for days and nights – completely talking up the “what if” phase. Honestly I didn’t know if this would be a project that would take flight or not, but it was darn fun to dream about. 🙂

But the more we chatted the more it looked like this was gonna happen. I freaked! I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge.

I sat there biting my fingernails wondering if I was in over my head. One of the things we all wanted to do was have “bad” good guys. Men who weren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty in order to help people.

Enter Wick Templeton…

I can’t tell you the exact moment that he smacked my ass and called me mama…he just suddenly was there. All these scenes popped into my head of things he did or would eventually do – it was crazy. I’d be working on book two and a phrase he wanted to use in book four would suddenly be running through my mind. (at that time I had no flipping idea what book four was about either *heads desk* lol)

Wick was all for breaking whatever law he had to – not necessarily in the name of justice, but because darn it, it amused. Yeah (insert tentative giggles here), some of the things he wanted me to write…um… Honestly, Wick didn’t share as much with me as I hoped he would. For every chapter I wrote I wondered what this man was up to, why he was spurred on to do what he did. An ex boyfriend calls—one he obviously didn’t mourn over losing—and he immediately jumped into action. No talk about payment, no sexual tension between them, no hostility or any of those things that might have popped up…just Wick doing what needs to be done.

Admirable right? Don’t build him a statue just yet, trust me…

Then, the guy he wouldn’t admit being attracted to called for help—but that wasn’t the pivotal point that got Wick up and moving. Some serial killer was offing people in his town…that wasn’t allowed. No matter how much Wick wanted to poke and prod at Ned (in so many ways too lol) it was the fact that innocent people were being hurt.

Oh yeah, and Wick doesn’t like keeping his nose in his own business…smh.

But how much of our noses will he allow poked into his business? Not fair is it? He holds everything so close to his chest that it’s really difficult to pry even small details away to share with the readers. Only in writing the third book did he share even more of himself with me…and holy shite was I floored!

You see, upon writing Wicked Incarceration, I was blessed with the knowledge of what the next two books afterwards would be. With each book Wick upped the game some, toed that line you might say, and plans to continue doing that – making all of us wonder what side of that line he will land on.

*stops and sips more coffee*

Sorry, you’ve just taken part in one of my ‘rambling’ modes. Those closest to me know I can go off and just start babbling without any rhyme or reason behind it…and unfortunately when I talk about Wick…well I can talk for hours about him as if he is a real person that I’m kinda in awe with.

There are just so many facets to him, and he’s only allowing me to show a little bit of them at a time. Nice to know he’s as much an ass with the author as he is with everyone in his books right? lol

My sister stated it best – you see, she’s had to hear non-stop about Wick since last September I believe. Over lunches, on the phone, in emails…heck I’ve even PM’d her on FB to plot points out. But she’s never actually read one of Wick’s books.

After reading some reviews for Wicked Solutions and Wicked Bindings she informed me that she was finally going to sit down and read the series. She stated “I don’t care if I know most of the story through you, I need to read and experience Wick for myself.”

My point is – I could sit here with you sipping this freaking fantastic coffee and babbling about Wick all night long. No seriously, I’m not just saying that I really could do it…lol

But that wouldn’t give you the true feel of Wick…he’s someone you have to experience first hand.

I want you to experience that…I want you to read Wicked’s Way and let me entertain you for a couple of hours. With that thought in mind and in honor of Melanie allowing me not only to visit but to not put a word count limit on me *blushes* if you hop over to All Romance e-books you will find the entire Wicked’s Way series on sale for 33% off the cover price!

Yep…your eyes do not deceive you…from today until Sunday midnight (Eastern time) all four of Wick’s books will be available for only $2 a piece. *winks*

Thank you Melanie for your hospitality and thank you everyone for actually reading to the bottom of this very long blog post lol…

Oh and by the way, would you like a parting hint about Wick five? Okay – the first hint about the next Wick book…

A man from Wick’s past knows Ned’s secrets and is after their future…Wicked Truths. (working title) 🙂

Thanks, Havan, for stopping by.  As you all know by now, I am crazy in love with this series and that wicked, wicked man, Wick Templeton.  Yesterday, I posted the review for the latest release, Wicked Guidance.

For those of you new to the series, go back to the beginning and work your way forward.  Really, its the only way to fly. Here are the books in the series to date in the order they were written and should be read:

Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #01)
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #02)
Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #03)
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #04)

Your buy links here:

All Romance 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 Guidance cover

Review: Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #04) by Havan Fellows

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Series Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Wicked Guidance coverIt’s not every day that a pickpocket steals the wallet out of Wick Templeton’s jeans.  And for Wick Templeton, it means he has to chase that unlucky thief down to retrieve his wallet and phone.  But the thief he catches is just a child, and a smart-mouthed one at that.  For Wick it’s like looking at a mirror, a small Wick mini me, all dirty, thin and full of sass.   And that’s just the start of the trouble, all four feet of it.  It seems that someone wants the kid out of the way – permanently.    Several fired shots later and Wicked is pissed.  No one is going to hurt this kid.  Its time for Wick to do what he does best, investigate, threaten and create total chaos.

And if one gorgeous, sexy Ned Harris turns up to meddle in the case, well no one, including Wick would be surprised.  Who is after Wick’s little 11 year old companion? And what is the deal with Ned Harris this time?  With a little wicked guidance, Wick will see his mini me safe and the criminals behind the threats in jail or dead.  It’s all in a days work for Wick Templeton, a law unto himself.  And with a twerp to protect, those hunting the boy had better run, and run fast, for the most wicked of them all is on their trail and judgement day is coming.

With Wicked Guidance, one more piece of the puzzle that is Wick Templeton is revealed and fitted into place.  With all the other stories, we have seen Wick’s intelligence, his ultra competency, his meticulous planning and control at work.  We have watched him smart mouth villains and outsmart the law.  He’s been witty, and sexy and dangerous.  But we haven’t seen him really care about someone…until now.  Sure we know he is a loyal and trusted friend to a small group of people and that his clients can trust him implicitly when it comes to their cases.  But a softer side, ok, Wick’s type of softer side has been missing until a young boy steals his wallet.

With the creation of Kyle, pickpocket and twerp extraordinaire, Havan Fellows delivers another facet to Wick Templeton’ character.   Kyle is a true eleven year old in every way.  Defiant, smug, mouthy, and full of fire, it’s no wonder that Wick looks at the kid and sees himself.  Fellows does a beautiful job in giving us a miniature Wick while still keeping Kyle believable as a tween out on the streets.  But Kyle is also in deep trouble with the vulnerability of the young that cries out for protection.  Kyle is just a terrific character and his interaction with Wick reveals more of Wick than we have seen in the other stories, starting from the moment Wick chases him down.

He tapped the handy dandy earpiece again then eyed his current problem. “Tried infers that you attempted something and failed.” He waved the wallet and phone in front of the brat before slipping them securely back in his pocket. “You attempted and failed.”

The kid humphed at him. “You gonna call the cops?”

“Why? They can’t protect you from me.”

The thief’s eyes widened for a brief second before he slumped his shoulders in defeat. “I’m real sorry, mister. I just was so hungry.” He rubbed his hand over his stomach for good measure. “I’ve learned my lesson and won’t do it again. Promise.”

Wick scored him a ten for his acting chops. He stepped back and took in the whole picture the kid presented. His blond hair teased the line of medium brown due to its oily matted down appearance, and Wick was sure there was a pale complexion on that face somewhere—if he Brillo padded through the dirt to find it. The bright hazel eyes that shone through the mess held intelligence and fire, defiance at its best. The twerp’s clothes matched the rest of him, filthy beyond any washing machine’s help, with holes in places that never qualified as cool. They hung loosely on his bony frame, as if at one time they fit properly but, with the boy’s new restrictive diet, had become too big too fast for him.

And that’s just the exchange I can quote.  The rest is both hysterically funny and perfectly authentic, especially the words coming out of Kyle’s mouth.  And all the more heartbreaking for all the sarcasm and bleak point of view in someone so young.  And you can see why this youngster appeals to every protective instinct that Wick has.  For me, it’s the most fulfilling and heartwarming relationship of Wick’s to date, his lustmance with Ned aside.  Trust me when I say the reader is absolutely emotionally involved in this boy and his future.

As with all the stories, we have a mystery to solve, and it’s a huge one.  Someone is trying to kill Kyle.  Havan Fellows has drawn us in, first with the introduction to Kyle, than with the developing relationship with Wick and finally with the threat to Kyle’s life.   We worry about the threat and we fear for his future, even while being assured that he is safe with the one person in the world who can protect him….Wick Templeton.  The author craftily sends us on an emotional rollercoaster of a ride, from laugher to fright back to laughter and than back down to dead fear once more.  It’s a true E Ticket ride (google it), one you won’t want to get off.

This is also the story where we see that the tenuous lustmance between Wick and Ned is finally turning into something deeper.  Oh, there is still scores of questions to be answered about both of their background and in Ned’s case, current employment.  But a deeper connection between the men has formed, and while the sex is still hot and spicy, an element of caring has arrived in the mixture too.  I love that Fellows is making this a slow build to something real and perhaps lasting.  We aren’t there yet, but the glimpses she gives us makes us want more.

Wicked Guidance is my favorite book of the Wicked’s Ways series to date.  Havan Fellows has written a story that combines all the ingredients for the classic story you constantly reread.  It flows smoothly from beginning to end, it has laughter, it has wit, it has memorable characters, a mystery and sex appeal.  And with the inclusion of Kyle, Wicked’s Way and Wick Templeton gain a measure of heartbreak and warmth as well.  By the end of the book, I felt like that little boy Joey who calls out “Shane, come back!” at the end of that classic western.  I wanted more…much, much more of Wick, of Kyle, of Ned….just plain everyone.   I think you will feel that way too.  Here is a little something more to wet your appetite:

Wick learned a long time ago that if you just gave a little nudge, a simple word or two, chances of someone talking raised significantly. It felt like he wanted to talk. Maybe he needed a reason to.

He fell in step with the kid and mimicked him as he started kicking the little pebbles out of the way. They walked the duration of the path this way, quietly kicking stones, matching strides with each other. It meant Wick had to shorten his step a bit, but that didn’t cause a problem, neither did the silence. Wick was one of those that could hold his tongue for however long it took to get what he wanted.

Thankfully for us, he won’t have to wait long. Soon he and the readers will get what we want.  So run, don’t walk, and pick up this series.  Start with the first in line, Wicked Solutions and work your way through to the last story released so far, Wicked Guidance.  I read them completely through in one sitting and then did it again.  Thank goodness, Havan Fellows has promised to deliver more Wicked’s Ways and Wick Templeton in the future.  I can’t wait until I make their acquaintance once more and get caught up in their lives and investigations.

Here are the books in the Wicked’s Way series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events that follow:

Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #01)
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #02)
Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #03)
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #04)

Cover art by Laura Warner.  Nice job of branding the series, but I consider the design a missed opportunity to design something along the lines of the original pulp fiction novels.  This series cries out for more.

Book Details:

Published July 14th 2013 by Appleton Publishing Avenue

Review: Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #02) by Havan Fellows

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Rating:  4.75 stars out 5

Series Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Wicked BindingsWick Templeton, private investigator and all around pain in the ass, receives an email on his private account that only his friends have.  The problem?  It’s not from any of his friends, but from that enigma from his last case, Ned Harris. There is a serial killer on the loose, murdering prostitutes and both men are out to stop him.  From Ned Harris’ point of view, it’s all about procedure and legality.  For Wick Templeton?  Not so much.  Wick has always done things his way and Ned is about to find that out.  As the two mens investigations intertwine, so does their interest in each other.  Wick and Ned are playing head games with each other as the killer taunts them from behind a maze of clues.

Who will find the killer first?  Or will the killer have the last laugh and turn the tables on Wick and Ned?

Wicked Bindings is the second installment in the Wicked’s Ways series, a series that just gets better by the book.  We pick up shortly after Wicked Solutions ends.  In that story, Ned and Wick part, each thinking they got their own way in the resolution of that case.  As Ned leaves Wick’s office, Wick tells Ned:

“You have no idea what I’m capable of, Ned. Don’t begin a game you can’t finish.”

With these men, a threat is as good as a flirty come on and neither man is very good at resisting either one or each other. This is how it all starts again in Wicked Bindings:

 Wick chuckled and turned back to his computer, tuning out his overnight guests’ babblings. He brought up his private email and his curiosity piqued once more; he didn’t recognize the sender. Since he didn’t use this email for anything except his closest friends, it never received any type of spam.

The subject line contained one three letter word: tag.

And with that one word, the game is on once more.   There is an investigation into the deaths of several prostitutes that pulls both men in and now they have a murderer to catch.  And there will be a clash or two as the sexual sparks fly and their methods of investigation collide on each side of the law.

Without consciously doing so, his hand moved the mouse and his finger depressed the left button when the pointer hovered over that small word.

“Want to come out and play with me again? If you are interested you’ll have to take a turn for the worse, but remain brave and don’t worry—I’ll protect you. Ned.”

So much attitude and characterization is packed into that piece of dialog.  Havan Fellows has created two wonderful characters in Wick Templeton and Ned Harris.  These men ooze vitality and sex appeal.  They are witty with a love a gamesmanship  that they deploy at every possible moment and the reader gets to come along and experience the fun and sometimes terror.

In each new book, the author uses the interpersonal interplay between Wick and Ned to reveal more of their characters and their history.  Of the two, Ned continues to remain more of an enigma.  Wick (and the reader) is not sure exactly what branch of the government  Ned works for, and Ned continues his own personal investigation into Wick’s past and circle of friends.  Through this approach, Fellows creates a level of tension between the men is not strictly sexual.  Is Ned trustworthy?  What is his real intensions towards Wick?  Friend or foe?  As their head games continue, the murder investigation adds another layer of tension and apprehension on top of the existing doubts about each other.  It’s a delicious feeling and the reader can’t help but smile while cringing in dread as the men close in on the killer.

Havan Fellows does a tremendous job of creating a scene that contains comedy and terror, both occurring at the same time.  It’s a wonderful ploy to keep the reader engaged at  several levels.  You are laughing even as you fear for the safety of two men you have come to love.  And yes, I loved every minute of it.   I admit it.  I am addicted to Wick and his Wicked Ways.  You will be too.

These are short stories, under 50 pages or so. And while these are quick reads, they all have the feel of a much longer story.   The end is wrapped up nicely while still leaving us with a clue to the continuing growth in the relationship between Ned and Wick.  The book did not leave me wanting, while the two men made me crave so much more.  Like a certain food item, you can’t have just one.  You want more, so much more.

Havan Fellows has promised that the mysteries will continue with more of Wick and Ned past these four books.  That’s a promise to cheer about. If you are new to the series, start with the first book, Wicked Solutions and work your way forward.

Here are the books so far in the Wicked’s Ways series.  Read them in the order they were written and released in order to understand the characters and the developing relationship:

Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #01)

Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #02)

Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #03)

Wicked  Guidance (Wicked’s Way #04)

Cover art by Laura Harner does a good job of branding the series while losing the opportunity to make a great pulp fiction cover.

Book Details:

ebook
Published March 17th 2013 by Pulp Friction
ISBN13 HFPF000001
edition language English
series Wicked’s Ways