A MelanieM Review: Between Bloody Lips (The Valentino Family #2) by Sai Fox

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

Who is Nicolai Valentino?

Some think him a devoted son, a ruthless killer, a vicious monster. The heir of the infamous Valentino family, Nico is a man with blood-stained hands and a heart of ice.

To Gabriel Delatto, Nico is more than that: a childhood friend, a passionate lover, a misunderstood soul, a man whose cold, calculated outward exterior protects the broken man inside. Nico is his best friend, his lover, his other half—his better half.

But how much of that is true? And how much is just lies whispered between bloody lips?

New York to Tokyo—Gabriel is willing to follow his lover to the ends of the earth to find out what Nico is running from.

Or, maybe, what is Nico running to?

Author Note: Please be advised that there are sexual scenes of explicit graphic nature, including BDSM themes, within the following story. These are done between two parties over the age of 18.

There are scenes involving non-consensual BDSM themes and mentions of past physical and mental child abuse and graphic material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

To be honest, after reading the first story in this series I wasn’t at all sure I was going to continue with the series.  I thought that book,On Hands and Knees, was lacking in world building and a foundation for the characters and the characters relationship necessary to the story and  overall arc.  But there was just enough intrigue and interest for me to continue and I’m so glad I did because this?  This novel?  It’s a completely different animal.

Between Bloody Lips (The Valentino Family #2) by Sai Fox to be sure builds on the somewhat nebulous storyline of the prior book, picking up right after the events there.  But here everything is so much more fleshed out.  What was a disadvantage in the first story becomes a strength here, and that would be the tortured narrative of Gabriel Delatto, whose mind and memory never seem little more than a shaky thing ready to fly apart, and it’s threatening to do so without it’s anchor, Nico.

Gabe is running after an elusive Nico, ending up in Japan,  with an elusive criminal underworld filled with layers he can’t comprehend, and the reader is there floundering  with him.  This is a dark, angst filled story.  Both Gabe, Nico and some of the others here have come from a tormented, background of systematic child abuse and it has left both men deeply scars and in many ways twisted and wounded beyond repair.  They seek through BDSM, cutting, and more, relief through pain, humiliation, and submission.  While some of these scenes read as BDSM others read as self harm, and others still more are non con, violent dub con, and more.  As I said this is a violent world of criminals and the dark nature of others, the author has realistically shown that.  So be warned.

As the story progresses and we sift through Gabe’s tortured mind along with his efforts to understand Nico’s predicament and his own, we start to form our own ideas of what is behind Nico’s running and the some of the layers start to come together but it does not prepare us for the startling revelations towards the end.

I cannot go into details here except to say this is an exceptional book, from the characters to the convoluted, labyrinthine story.  Everything finally comes together in one smashing, stunning climax that is worth both books.

Plus for once, I enjoyed the fact that the author did not take these tortured men and miraculously “cure” them.   Or promise a HEA, no matter what that blurb says.  No.  They can’t be promised that given who and what they are.  A HFN is realistic and yes, there are still questions we might not know the answers to, but that feels real too given the circumstances here as well.

For me I wish Sai Fox had run both books together for one brilliant story because that’s what this second novel becomes.  Just brilliant.    And one, if your stomach can handle the abuse, cutting, and everything, is worth it all.  I highly recommend it.

 

Cover art by Samantha Garrett is dark and stunning, just like the storyline.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 380 pages
Published May 11th 2019
ASIN B07NK6JJ5G
Edition Language English

An Alisa Audio Review: Model Investigator (Haven Investigations #3) by Lissa Kasey and Brian Hutchison (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

With his lover, Kade, missing, androgynous former model turned private investigator Ollie Petroskovic is ready to kick some ass to bring him home.

Ollie and his ex, rock star Jacob Elias, need to find Kade and free him from the clutches of his manipulative family. But with Ollie suffering from chronic migraines and Jacob unable to bear loud noises, they are hardly the dynamic duo. It takes a lot of sweet talking on the part of Jacob—and patience Ollie doesn’t have—to find Kade. Only Kade’s not whole anymore. The fight for Kade’s heart and mind is far from over.

It’s Ollie’s turn to guide Kade through nightmares, self-doubt, and PTSD. Kade’s memories are scattered, fragmented with possible horrors, and he’s not quite sure what is real. Ollie will have to draw on his investigative skills to clear Kade of the terrible accusations his family has made and help Kade unlock the truth. But in doing so, he ignores his own health, which could have catastrophic consequences for everyone, especially when digging up the past could be lethal for them all.

Oh man, I thought the last book had a bad cliffhanger ending, this one was just as bad which frustrates me even more when I really liked the story.  Needless to say I will be waiting for the next book to come out on audio.

I loved that this started right after the last book and that helped quickly jog my memory from the last book.  For the most part they seemed solid in their connection and even when doubts seemed to surface it wasn’t serious more of the once I figure this out everything will be fine kind of mindset.

This story was told from Ollie’s point of view and man is he a worrier, always having a bad version of thing popping into his head.  I loved how their friends and then Kade knew how to help him to get out of that haze.  Kade was harder to read but it came down to him not wanting to be too emotional in front of Ollie but I think they are able to figure out where they were both coming from.  I was however frustrated that Nathan’s death was once again put on the back burner though it looks like the next book is the last in the series so it should be tied up by the end of that one.

Brian Hutchison did a great job narrating this story.  I was easily able to keep track of the characters and actions in the book through his use of different voices and emotions.

Cover art by Garrett Leigh is great and I love the visual of Kade, though I always pictured someone bigger in my head.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 9hrs 12min
Published February 14, 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Haven Investigations #3

J.P. Barnaby on a Conversation with her Character and her new novel Saving Hannah (author guest blog)

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Saving Hannah by J.P. Barnaby

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Release Date:  December 18, 2018
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.P. Barnaby here today on tour for her latest novel, Saving Hannah.  Welcome, J.P.

 

A Chat with Hannah Aberthol

Saving Hannah, while a romantic suspense, is at its core—a love story. It’s a love story between two men and a little girl. Hannah has leukemia and her father, Thomas, will do anything to get her the medical care she needs. Aleks has loved Thomas since college and wants to help them both. Along with the suspenseful elements, there is a lot of love.

I thought it would be fun to sit down with little Hannah and talk about her role in the book, her relationship with her father, and how she feels about the developments in their relationship.

JP: Hi Hannah, thanks for sitting down with me today.

Hannah: Hello. It’s nice to see you again. Daddy said you helped us become a family.

JP: Well, I just wrote it down. That was all your daddy and Aleks.  They’re good guys.

Hannah: Meemaw said Daddy is a good man who did a bad thing. Aleks is a good man too. He helped me with the doctors and medicine and stuff.

JP: How are you feeling, Hannah?

Hannah: Way better. Daddy says I can go to school soon.

JP: That’s great! Are you looking forward to that?

Hannah: Yeah, I just wish my hair were longer. They’re gonna make fun of me.

JP: Tell them you were in a rock band and shaved your head.

Hannah: That’s silly. And a lie. Daddy said we’re only supposed to lie about certain things.

JP: That’s got to be a scary thing.

Hannah: Yeah. I’m scared I’m going to mess up and something bad will happen.

JP: Tell you what, if I don’t write it—it won’t happen. And I won’t write something bad happening to you. Does that make it better?

Hannah: You can do that?

JP: Yep.

Hannah: You’re the bestest ever! I’m gonna go tell Daddy and Aleks. See you later!

Blurb

Thomas Aberthol’s luck has run out. His daughter, Hannah, needs a miracle he can’t deliver. A hacker with a felony record, Thomas has little chance of finding work that will provide the care she needs. Out of money, out of options, and out of hope, he throws himself on the mercy of someone he never thought to see again.

Even after ten years, Aleksander Sanna still dreams of that drunken kiss. A perfect moment in time when Thomas wanted him. In his world of elegant code and high finance, the picture he holds of Thomas torments him in the dark of night.

Their worlds collide as Thomas interviews for the job he so desperately needs with the company Aleks inherited from his father. Thomas doesn’t get the position, but Aleks offers him a completely different kind of proposal, one suited to Thomas’s unique talents… one that will change the course of both their lives.

 

About author J.P. Barnaby

JP Barnaby is an award-winning contemporary romance and romantic suspense novelist with over a dozen novels. Her heart and soul, the Survivor Series, has been heralded by USA Today as one of their favorites. She recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta to appease her Camaro (Jake) who didnít like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When sheís not working on her latest novel, she binge watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix with her husband and Jack Russell Terror, Chase.

Sign up for her newsletter and try a free story: https://bit.ly/2xSB8kE

 

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Truth Will Out (Merrychurch Mysteries #1) by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Jonathon de Mountford’s visit to Merrychurch village to stay with his uncle Dominic gets off to a bad start when Dominic fails to appear at the railway station. But when Jonathon finds him dead in his study, apparently as the result of a fall, everything changes. For one thing, Jonathon is the next in line to inherit the manor house. For another, he’s not so sure it was an accident, and with the help of Mike Tattersall, the owner of the village pub, Jonathon sets out to prove his theory—if he can concentrate long enough without getting distracted by the handsome Mike.

They discover an increasingly long list of people who had reason to want Dominic dead. And when events take an unexpected turn, the amateur sleuths are left bewildered. It doesn’t help that the police inspector brought in to solve the case is the last person Mike wants to see, especially when they are told to keep their noses out of police business.

In Jonathon’s case, that’s like a red rag to a bull…

In the spirit of Dame Agatha Christie, KC Wells delivers a mystery worthy of the great British authors who preceded her. And no sex on page! Imagine that. I actually liked the fact that sex didn’t distract from the story. Yes, there’s a romance, but it’s secondary to the mystery.

There’s a large age gap between Jonathan, who doesn’t have good luck with romance, and Mike, who’s older and doesn’t have much opportunity to meet new men in Merrychurch. But they grow to like each other, and they work together to solve the mystery of Jonathan’s uncle’s death. Mike is a former cop so has the skills and Jonathan has the determination and persistence needed to eventually find the culprit.

Did I guess? Yes! The author gave us clues, but it’s not easy to figure out and it was likely my love of Poirot and Miss Marple that helped me guess correctly. Since this is mystery #1 in a new series, I expect we’ll see more of Jonathon and Mike in future. At least, I hope we do. Mystery buffs should enjoy this one, for sure.

Cover Artist: Kanaxa.  The cover is done in sepia tones with both MCs pictured—one superimposed over the shadowed image of the other. To be honest, though it may represent the MCs and setting, I don’t care for the color and it doesn’t stand out at all.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 204 pages
Expected publication: October 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640806290
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Merrychurch Mysteries #1

A MelanieM Review: The Hunt by J.M. Dabney & Davidson King

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of  5

Disgraced detective turned private investigator, Ray Clancy, left the force with a case unsolved. Finding the killer was no longer his problem, but it still haunted him. How long would he survive the frustration of not knowing before he gave into the compulsion of his nature to solve the crime?

Server, Andrew Shay, existed where he didn’t feel he belonged, living behind the guise of a costume. Yet it paid the bills, and he refused to complain about the little things in life. One night he returned home from work to find his roommate dead and the killer still there. Afraid and alone, his life spiraled and he didn’t know what to do. Could a detective at his core and a scared young man join forces to bring down the killer in their midst?

When I think of those memorable noir detectives I grew up with (of paper novels and of course film), they have that distinct voice, that precise background that marks them as one of the most complex and compelling characters ever to draw a reader in.  That noir private investigator who usually was once a cop.  Or in this case a Detective.  They are bitter about their fall from the brotherhood in blue, cynical, and just scraping by on the worst of P.I. jobs.  And yes, often haunted by past case or cases.

They are our Sam Spades, Philip Marlowe’s, Mike Hammer’s and more recently Jack Reacher.  They started in novels and spread out into film and other media because they captured something deep in us.  The cynical, partly broken man who still rises up to fight again for an innocent against an evil, or what they perceive to be an innocent against what they perceive to be an evil.  It sometimes gets very messy in noir.  Another reason to love them so.

But those dark, gritty growly voices?  Once heard, they can’t be forgotten.  Those narrators of crimes both mundane and horrendous get under your skin.  They make you want to stay close, fascinated and drawn to them.

Ray Clancy,  framed ex cop joins their ranks, standing out only by his sexuality, something still unacceptable on the force. Here Ray was especially bitter as it had never affected his job, all those years on the force. It wasn’t his sexuality but his iffy background with some suspect criminal ties as kid he had to fight against.

Older, bitter, trying to adjust to his new stature when an innocent seeks his help from a killer of young gay men, a case of his from his days as a Detective.  And with one acceptance, The Hunt is alive!

Authors Dabney and King work several threads here.  One, of course, is the serial killer of all the young gay men and trying to catch him before he strikes again.  There is a revelation here mid story that nicely shakes things up.  Another is the issue of who framed Clancy to get him off the force, and another still of the slowly forming relationship between Ray and Andrew, and what it might mean to them, if they make it through the  case alive.  Always questionable with bodies falling around them.

The writing was wonderfully succinct, sparse in that noir detective way when necessary.  Great twists and turns in the plot, the suspense was a killer, and those scenes towards the end?  Absolutely white knuckle all the way.  I adored it.

I hope to see Ray Clancy hang up his shingle and more cases come his way.  His is a voice you could definitely get addicted to.

 

 

Cover Art:  Morningstar Ashley.  I love this cover.  Dark and mysterious.  Perfect for the story.

Sales LInks:  Amazon  |

Global link: mybook.to/JMDKHunt 

Goodreads:  https://bit.ly/2p7qwug

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 218 pages
Published September 15th 2018 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
ASINB07HD1BH75
Edition Language English

Amy Lane on Deals with God, and her latest release ‘A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3)’ (author guest post)

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A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3) by Amy Lane
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Reese Dante

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Lane on tour for her newest release, A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3).  Welcome back, Amy!

 

Deals with God

By Amy Lane

We do this all the time.

“Oh please oh please oh please, let me make this flight and I shall never, ever, ever, stop for coffee on the way to the airport again!”

“Oh please oh please oh please, let me find that one shirt, the perfect shirt, for this occasion before it’s time to leave and I’ll do laundry all the time and fold it as soon as it’s out of the drier forever and ever amen!”

Or, more seriously,

“OH please. Please. Please, let this person be okay. I’ll do anything. Anything at all, please, just let them be okay.”

In book two, Red Fish, Dead Fish, Ellery made a deal with God. If Jackson came home alive after a harrowing night and a terrible day, Ellery would go to temple for a year.

Now, some people would take a look at their beloved and say, “Oh, thank you God, I know you know I didn’t really mean it and you gave him back anyway!”

But some people would follow through.

The only reason Ellery won Jackson in the first place is that he’s made of follow through.

The book opens up with Ellery trying to get to temple (and Jackson trying to convince him that nobody’s that excited about Jackson’s survival and worship is a terrible waste of a Saturday morning) and the question is brought up again.

“How much does God really care about the deals we make when we’re desperate and sad? Is he really going to hold us to that, or can we sort of shimmy out of it?”

Ellery shimmies out of nothing. 

Jackson whines and bitches and complains—but he always keeps his word.

So Jackson is forced to look at himself—hard—to see if he’s worth all this trouble. He’s never been worth trouble before—he’s mostly just been trouble. As far as he sees it, he’s cannon fodder, and that’s flesh and bone well spent.

But Ellery doesn’t see him that way.

The thought leaves him twitchy. Oh my God, he is made of hangups! He’s had to work his ass off to get over the injuries from the last book and he’s still not whole! He’s not eating, he’s not sleeping, and he can’t close his eyes without waking up in a sweat-wringing nightmare.

He can’t go out on the most basic run without risking his life.

And every day, every morning, when he and Ellery walk out the door, Ellery has to face the fact that Jackson might not come back.

So in the course of book three, Jackson has to make his own deals with God. 

Not the kind Ellery made—not the straight up trade. It’s more of the, “What do I have to do to make myself worth all this trouble,” variety or bargain.

And while we all know Ellery has essentially accepted him with all his glitches, what Jackson eventually decides to do is fix what he can, so he’s not such a burden to love.

Now we know where this is heading—eventually. In order for Jackson to truly fix himself, he needs to realize he’s worthy of love while still broken. But Jackson and Ellery have many more adventures to go, and nobody said Jackson was great at the emotional learning thing.

So we have the promise of that in future books—and boy is it a big job.

As Ellery has thought at the end of book one and book two and now book three—they have so much more to do.

Blurb

Fish Out of Water: Book Three

A tomcat, a psychopath, and a psychic walk into the desert to rescue the men they love…. Can everybody make it out with their skin intact?

PI Jackson Rivers and Defense Attorney Ellery Cramer have barely recovered from last November, when stopping a serial killer nearly destroyed Jackson in both body and spirit.

But their previous investigation poked a new danger with a stick, forcing Jackson and Ellery to leave town so they can meet the snake in its den.

Jackson Rivers grew up with the mean streets as a classroom and he learned a long time ago not to give a damn about his own life. But he gets a whole new education when the enemy takes Ellery. The man who pulled his shattered pieces from darkness and stitched them back together again is in trouble, and Jackson’s only chance to save him rests in the hands of fragile allies he barely knows.

It’s going to take a little bit of luck to get these Few Good Fish out alive!

 

Excerpt

“Sh….” Ellery slicked his hair back from his face and whispered to him as he collapsed limply, Ellery’s long limbs sheltering him from the cold outside their little bed.

“Sorry,” Jackson said, blinking hard, irritated at himself for losing sight of his plan. He was supposed to keep control, dammit. He was supposed to blow Ellery’s mind, not get swept away in the sexual tide himself!

“For what?” Ellery asked tenderly.

“Was trying to make it holy,” Jackson told him, lost enough to tell the truth.

Ellery struggled out from under him, pushing Jackson to his side while Ellery rolled over to face him. “Tell me this wasn’t!” he demanded.

Jackson grimaced. “Do you have to?” he asked. “I mean, if our sex is holy and shit, doesn’t that mean you don’t have to go?”

“Nobody is holding a gun to my head! Goddammit, Jackson, do you not get why I have to do this?”

“Aren’t you too late to go this week?” Jackson asked hopefully.

Ellery laughed, grim satisfaction in every syllable. “I set the alarm early so we could have breakfast.” He glanced over his shoulder. “And you know what? We still can.”

Jackson grimaced. Dammit. “But….”

Ellery’s expression softened, and he reached out to brush Jackson’s cheekbone with his fingertips. “Baby, why does this bother you so much?”

Jackson scowled. “Because if you’re thanking God for me, God’s going to show you what a mistake that is, and I like it here.”

With a groan and a heave, Ellery rolled off the bed. “There is no talking to you about this! Now get in the shower, and I’ll make pancakes. And no! You can’t wear jeans!”

“But you said I didn’t have to get out of the car!” Jackson hollered, finding a clean set of boxers in the dresser Ellery had set aside for him.

“I lied! You at least have to visit the outside, dammit!” Ellery grabbed his sleep pants and his sweatshirt from the folds of the covers and started dragging them on.

“But won’t I burst into fire?” Jackson asked, only partially kidding. His past… oh God. His past wasn’t checkered, it was chicken-pocked! “I mean, won’t you get kicked out and excommunicated if you show up with me next to you?”

“No, Jackson, they’ve got a big ol’ reformed-slut alarm that sounds as soon as you step foot on the ground, and then a force field shoots up, separating us and catapulting you to purgatory for the length of the service. After your first six visits, they give you the option of walking there on your own while a sorcerer whispers arcane words and tries to set me up with a doctor, because that’s just how Jews roll.”

Jackson stared at him, cheeks flushed with color, fine brown eyes sparkling with righteous anger, and like it usually did, the thing in his chest melted into a gooey little puddle.

“I can see your sarcasm is functioning well this morning. Isn’t that going to taint the pancakes?”

Ellery struggled to keep his mouth firm. “I can make my pancakes both strawberry and sarcastic. But if you want whipped cream, you’re going to have to shut up, get dressed, and let me have this. Understand?”

Jackson let out a sigh. “If I see anybody there in jeans, I’m not wearing slacks next time.”

“That, too, is understood.”

“And if anybody gives you shit about the gay—”

“We shall find a temple that has no shits to give. Also understood.”

“If you find someone there who’s better than me….” He scowled and stared at the picture of them Ellery had put up on the end table, Jackson looking uncomfortable in his best dinnerwear and Ellery smiling charmingly for his father, who was perhaps the dearest man Jackson had ever met. The picture had been taken outside Ellery’s parents’ house in Boston over Thanksgiving, and while Jackson could say for certain it had been a good time, every single memory he had seemed to be tempered with the stomach-churning anxiety he was dealing with now.

An Ellery Cramer and a Jackson Rivers did not make sense in any way, shape, or form. The longer they were together, the more Jackson looked for the chapped, palsied hand of fate to try to rip them apart. And every time Ellery said he was being ridiculous, Jackson had to walk away, because the fact was, he had almost died—twice—since the two of them had gotten together in the summer.

If that wasn’t God trying to tell Jackson the facts of life, Jackson didn’t know what was.

So Ellery going to temple out of some sort of weird deal he’d made with the big guy—on the one hand, it never hurt to suck up to the person in charge.

On the other hand, Jackson was a fan of the old Irish saying “May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”

In this case, he would just as soon nobody, God or devil, even knew he was on the planet. He’d had forces bigger than he was meddle in his life, and he had the layers of scar tissue to show he’d barely survived.

“If I find somebody who’s better than you,” Ellery snapped, bringing him to the present, “I’m not the one he’ll be hitting on.”

Jackson scowled at him. “You’re being stupid.”

Ellery’s thin lips curled up into a smile. “So are you.”

“Fine. Fine, I’ll go. I’ll even be a grown-up. But Ellery, those had better be some damned good pancakes.”

Ellery rolled his eyes and grabbed his robe, swanning out for his exit, singing “My pancakes bring all the boys to the yard…” as he went.

After he left the room, Jackson allowed himself a fond smile. God, he really was being ridiculous. Who over the age of twelve pitched this big a fit over church, or temple, or whatever?

But as he jumped in the shower and started to wash, he just couldn’t shake the unease that knotted in his stomach.

For much of his life, things like food, shelter, basic safety—things Ellery had taken for granted every day of his life—had been dreams to Jackson Rivers. Now, living with Ellery in his posh American River Drive house with cavernous rooms and real wood floors, Jackson had food and shelter and, God help him, emotional safety on a daily basis.

He was just waiting for God to stop helping him and rip it all away.

About the Author

Mother, knitter, author, wife, fur-baby wrangler, dreamer–Award winning writer Amy Lane writes romance because the voices in her head are real and she wants them to be happy at the end.

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Please tell me this isn’t the last book in this series! Amy Lane had not done an action adventure thriller before this series, but she certainly knocked it out of the ballpark when she matched up a wealthy, handsome, gay, high-powered defense attorney, Ellery Cramer, with the bisexual office PI, Jackson Rivers, who grew up virtually on the streets.

In this third installment, the committed couple planned to take a bit of time to allow Jackson to recover from their last encounter with the powerful rogue soldier, Colonel Lacey, who is apparently selecting certain soldiers to be brainwashed into being killing machines—assassins for hire. Unfortunately, quite by accident, a case falls into Ellery’s lap that is connected, and the two are off on an adventure again in an effort to clear a young nanny’s name in a hit-and-run investigation.

They didn’t know, however, that their every move was being monitored by Lacey and his cohorts through bugs placed in their phones, their vehicles, and in their home—including their bedroom, where the two allow their secrets and their desires free reign. Deciding to get this guy once and for all, they head toward San Diego, his base of operations, after securing their loved ones in safe houses with extra protection.

As unlikely as it might seem, they renew an acquaintance and end up working closely with Ace and Sonny from Racing for the Sun, a story I read quite a long time ago. Now that the author has tied the characters and the circumstances surrounding their meeting and eventual relationship together, I have to go back and read that one again. I need more of those two. And as an aside, I need more of their lodger, Lee Burton, and his new love interest, Ernie (yes—Ernie and Burt!). Both men are instrumental in the plot to get “the bad guys” in this story but their journey to happiness is just beginning so more, more, more, please.

This story has everything I love—super villains, kidnapping, injury, hospital vigils, strong characters, revisits with former MCs, romance, hot sex, supportive family and friends, surprises, explosions, and more. What’s not to like? And by the way, I do believe Lucy-Satan is my new all-time favorite secondary character. That’s Jackson’s pet name for Ellery’s mother. A strong personality, highly intelligent, a force of nature, intuitive, and able to present as a concerned and loving mother one moment and a stubborn attorney and businesswoman in the next. Seriously, it’s really nice to see multiple female characters important to the story who are strong and supportive, instead of nasty and twisted.

There were so many characters in this cast who deserve attention and kudos but not enough space on this page so I’ll just say that this story deserves attention not only for the high caliber of the adventure, but also of the characters—main, secondary, and pets.

Very highly recommended.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  Love these covers, brands the series with something that at first glance seems whimsical and then perilous with the fish trapped in the water bottle.  Perfect.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleA Few Good Fish
ISBN139781640808164
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Fish Out of Water:

Fish Out of Water

Red Fish, Dead Fish

A Few Good Fish

Hiding the Moon

Series Recap Blitz for Boystown Series by Marshall Thornton – Books 1 through 10 (Giveaway)

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Series Recap Blitz

Boystown Series


Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER)


All available to borrow on Kindle Unlimited.


The Series


The Lambda Award-winning Boystown Mysteries detail the cases of former police officer-turned-private investigator Nick Nowak. Set in Chicago and covering the period between 1981 and 1984, the ten books follow Nick as he struggles with memories of his abrupt departure from the CPD and the end of his long-term relationship with librarian Daniel Laverty. He moves through a series of casual tricks until he meets homicide detective Bert Harker with whom he begins a tentative relationship.


As cynical and difficult as the city he calls home, Nick doggedly pursues his cases and often solves them out of sheer stubbornness. He relies on help from a charming cast of characters, who provide clues and comfort in equal measure. Beyond the mobsters and murderers, Nick encounters a larger villain looming on the horizon. A villain who begins striking down Nick’s friends and lovers, bringing the freewheeling fun of the early eighties to an end.

 

Author Bio


Marshall Thornton is known for the Lambda Award-winning Boystown Mysteries. His comedic novels include The Ghost Slept Over, My Favorite Uncle and the Lambda Finalist for Gay Romance, Femme. Marshall holds an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA and has had plays produced in both Chicago and Los Angeles and stories published in The James White Review and Frontier Magazine.


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Dirk Greyson on Turning Personal Experience into Characters and his latest novel ‘Hell and Back’

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Hell and Back by Dirk Greyson
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Book Links

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Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Dirk Greyson here on his Hell  and Back tour. Welcome, Dirk.

 

I often get asked how much of myself I put into my stories and sometimes I’m not really sure.  I’m not a lawyer and I’m not ex-military turned detective, but I do like to think that I have a big heart and I think that’s where I insert myself most often into the stories I write.  Okay, I’m going to tell you something that I rarely go into online.  My school years weren’t happy ones. I was alone much of the time.  The kids at school picked on me and that made those years really tough.  As a reaction, I turned quiet in introspective.  I stayed away from others and didn’t open play with them because I never knew when the next trick or insult was coming.  It was a pretty miserable existence.  But I think that period of my life also helped me develop a real heart felt understanding for the underdog and those that are having a difficult time with life because I’d been through it.  I really feel for my characters and throw my heart into them, quite literally.  I really hope that comes through to you as well.

 

Blurb/Synopsis

Seventeen years ago, Forge Reynolds fell in love… and had his heart broken.  When Gage Livingston was brought into Forge’s Army field hospital, temporarily paralyzed, Forge sat with him, read his letters, answered his mail, and formed a connection he thought would last. But Gage was sent home, Forge transferred to a new post, and Forge’s letters to Gage went unanswered.

Now, in the middle of a bitter divorce, Forge is sick and tired of his husband’s manipulation and is almost ready to make any sacrifice to get closure, and then he finds Granger murdered execution-style in their home. Forge had no idea about Granger’s illicit activities, but the killers don’t believe that. They think Forge has something they want, and they’re coming after him.

When Forge’s lawyer arranges for professional protection, the last face Forge expects to see is Gage’s. Can he even contemplate a second chance for them after almost two decades or will hoping only lead to more heartache? Before they can explore the possibilities, they must figure out what information Granger had—and others are willing to kill for—or that possible heartache could become a certainty

Excerpt

Gage went through the house to turn out the interior lights before settling in the family room in front of the television with the volume on low, listening for anything out of the ordinary. One thing the Army had done a good job of training into him was patience. He could sit in a mostly empty house and listen for nothing for hours.

A lot of his jobs were hurry up and wait. This one had seemed like it would be more active. When the call had come in to the office, he’d been about to go off duty. Margie, his receptionist, had relayed who was calling and what they needed.  That woman never seemed to sleep and had forwarded the office phone to her cell..  There had been no one else available, so he’d sprung into action and hurried home to get a bag together. It wasn’t until he’d been driving and Margie called to give him the particulars that he’d heard the name and nearly run off the road.

After all these years, to run into Forge again, and under these circumstances….

He turned toward the stairs and got up to make a round through the house, then checked outside just to ensure everything was quiet.

Forge Reynolds. Gage sat down, turned off the television, and retrieved his bag to pull out his iPad so he could read for a while. After a few minutes of reading the same page over and over, he set it aside, leaned back, and closed his eyes. Concentration wasn’t something he had at the moment.

Almost instantly he was lying in a hospital bed.

He’d been hit with shrapnel, a ton of it if what he’d been told was true, and a piece had nicked his upper spine. He couldn’t walk or use his arms at first. And he’d never forget the day a man, about his own age, sat in the chair next to his bed and picked up the pile of letters on his tray. They hadn’t wanted to transport him in case it caused more damage, and his family couldn’t visit him where he was, so old-fashioned communication was the best way.

“Would you like me to read them to you?” The man’s voice had been mellow and gentle, at odds with most things in the Army.

“Please,” he’d said softly. At least he’d been able to talk.

Forge had opened the first envelope and read Gage the letter from his mother, then a second one. The third envelope contained one from his mother and one from his dad, and Forge read both. Gage had been tired and fallen asleep, but when he woke, the man was still there. He picked up a pen and paper and asked if he wanted to write a letter. “My name’s Specialist Forge Reynolds, by the way. I never did tell you.”

“Gage Staff Sergeant Livingston. Gage,” he’d croaked, hating the way his voice sounded. He remembered feeling useless, helpless, and wanting to die. And when he’d dictated that first letter, all of it had come out in a burst of self-pity and loathing that Forge had faithfully written down, showed to him, and then ripped to shreds.

About the Author

Dirk is very much an outside kind of man.  He loves travel and seeing new things.  Dirk worked in corporate America for way too long and now spends his days writing, gardening, and taking care of the home he shares with his partner of more than two decades.  He has a Master’s Degree and all the other accessories that go with a corporate job.  But he is most proud of the stories he tells and the life he’s built.  Dirk lives in Pennsylvania in a century old home and is blessed with an amazing circle of friends. 

Author Links

Other Works by Dirk Greyson

Yellowstone Wolves Series

Challenge the Darkness

Darkness Threatening

Darkness Rising

Day and Knight Series

Day and Knight

Sun and Shadow

Dawn and Dusk

Standalone Titles

An Assassin’s Holiday

Flight or Fight

Playing With Fire

Lost Mate

Hell and Back

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

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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