Breaker (Exile, Volume 1) Blog Tour and Giveaway by AF Henley and Kelly Wyre (excerpt and giveaway)

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Breaker (Exile #1) by Kelly Wyre and A.F. Henley
L
ess Than Three Press

Welcome to the Breaker (Exile, Volume 1) Blog Tour and Giveaway! We’re both super excited about this new release and thrilled to be able to share it with you. Throughout this tour, we’re going to be introducing many of the characters within, and associated with, Exile’s bizarre shores, as well as introducing Exile itself. Then we’re going to top that off with a quick little teaser.

However, before we get into any of that we wanted to remind you that we’ve got a couple of awesome giveaways going along with the tour so be sure to read through to the end to find out how you could win either a Silver-plated Starfish Anklet (just by leaving a single comment!), or the grand prize of a signed, print copy of Breaker, a coordinates bracelet with the Believe. Seek. Prove. reminder so you can always find your way back to the island of Exile, and a $20 gift certificate to the Less Than Three Press book market.

The Character Discussion

Kelly Wyre: Let’s just dive right on in… What are we doing again?

AFH: But I hate diving.

KW: I hate water. But hey, we all make sacrifices so we don’t stink up public transit. So. Right. THE ISLAND! This post is about the ENTIRE ISLAND. So if Exile could talk… and tell us something… what WOULD it say?

AFH: Get off my lawn! (The number of times Kelly facepalms while we write these is AWESOME.)

KW: (Yes. The perma-hand-print on the forehead look is SO in…) It might, in fact, say that. The get off my lawn schtick. It might also say, “Feed me.” Or maybe… “Thanks for the Barrier!” or “Never a dull moment!” or “Why me?”

AFH: Or, “Did you SEE what those two were DOING up there?! RAWR.”

KW: Oh, there’d be a fair amount of THAT too. Like, a lot of it. And also, “Damn, son, stop wearing the pointy heels.”

The Teaser

The farther into the ocean they went, the darker the water got, giving up the gray undertones for a deeper blue. Clouds, stretched wide and thin, clung to the horizon and gave the illusion that they had settled onto the water instead of in the sky, and brilliant prisms of light caught every ripple of the water’s surface. Eddie was intrigued, more by the fact that the boat seemingly had a destination than by anything else. Did the fisherman really know of an island? Not Exile, for sure, but an island; something the man probably figured he could pass off as Exile and get himself a few new wardrobe additions along the way. It would be nothing more than a clever ruse, a very clever one that had even managed to fool Rivet, but he had to give the guy kudos for coming up with such a scheme. Find an island, send out word that it was the fabled island of Exile, and dump a few dozen or so passengers on it. The best that could happen, for the fisherman, anyway, was that the island was abandoned and the people he dropped there would be stuck with no way to pass on the info that the scheme existed. After all, the island had to be a hell of a way’s out. There was nothing around them but cold, blue water. In all honesty, if someone could find their way back, they’d be too embarrassed to say anything about their ill-fated trip to get the fisherman in any serious trouble. And if they weren’t embarrassed and did speak up, who the hell would believe them?

When the boat’s engine died some time later, Eddie’s mind suddenly began to come up with a new idea on how the man could get away with his ruse. It had a far more sinister premise. He looked across the boat, swallowed hard, and watched the fisherman pull from behind his post at the wheel.

“This is where you get off, boy,” the fisherman drawled. He stopped several feet away from Eddie, stuck both hands in the deep pockets of his pants, and rocked back on his heels. “Good luck.”

Eddie’s eyes widened. He looked from man to water, from water to man, and huffed a dry laugh. “I don’t understand.”

The man nodded at the railing. “You do the rest from in there. I don’t go any farther than this.”

“You mean you want me to…”

The man nodded.

“Like… swim?”

The man nodded again.

Eddie gestured in the general direction of anywhere but the boat. “There’s no island, though. Just water. And…” He paused, swallowing again. He said, “Fish,” but he thought, sharks. Stingrays, water snakes, things with teeth and spikes, oh my.

“Come on, man.” Eddie’s voice was nothing more than a whisper, but the fear and the plea in his tone was obvious. “Don’t do this.”

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Breaker (Exile Volume 1)

Copyright © 2017 by Kelly Wyre and A.F. Henley

Purchasing Link


Blurb

Breaker

In the wake of several near-cataclysmic events, humanity created the Cure, a DNA-altering antidote to death by disease and old age. But all cures come with side effects: a small percentage of the population develops a wide range of powers, some of which are lethal to others, and some which are lethal to the wielder.

These people are called the Estranged, hunted and shunned, safe only on the Island of Exile. It is here that Kaeva and Eddie meet—and where they set a prophecy in motion, quite possibly sealing their own demise, and even the end of Exile.

Genre: Gay, Urban Fantasy

Notes: contains some explicit content and includes thoughts and discussions of past and potential suicide

The Giveaway

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On behalf of the tour, please join one, or both of our giveaways.

Simply leave a comment below to be entered into a random giveaway for a silver-plated starfish anklet (and whatever else we can stuff into the envelope). Winner will be selected by random number at the close of the grand prize giveaway, one winner per blog post.

Also, enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a signed, print copy of Breaker, a coordinates and message bracelet, and a $20 gift certificate to the Less Than Three Press book market.

For all the terms and conditions, please check out the t’s and c’s posted on the Rafflecopter.

** Please note the grand prize giveaway is being offered tour-wide and there will be one winner awarded for the entire event.

ENTER RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY HERE:

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A great big thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting us today, and another to you for joining in on the fun. Best of luck with the giveaway and we hope you enjoyed the post!

Until next time,

Kelly Wyre and AF Henley ❤

About the Authors

Kelly Wyre enjoys reading and writing all manner of fiction, ranging from horror to romance. She used to work in advertising but is now happily chained to her writing desk and laptop. Kelly relishes the soft and cuddly and the sharp and bloody with equal amounts of enthusiasm. She’s a coffee addict, a workaholic, a chronic night owl, and loves a good thunderstorm. Currently Kelly resides in the southeastern United States.

Connect with Kelly!

 Website  Blog   Twitter  Facebook  Fan Page  Google Plus
 Tumblr – NSFW!  Pinterest  Amazon Author Page  Goodreads

Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish. Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012.

Connect with Henley

 Website   Twitter   Facebook   Amazon Author Page

 Google Plus  Tumblr – NSFW!   Instagram   Goodreads

A Stella Advent Calendar Review Last Day: First New Year’s After the Apocalypse (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Jessica Payseur

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RATING 3,75 out of 5 stars

first-new-years-after-the-apocalypse-2016-advent-calendar-bah-humbug-by-jessica-payseurWade Turner takes a drunk Jaxxon home after work hoping to get laid. What he gets instead is news that the world as they know it is ending—superbugs are sweeping the nation, leaving high death tolls in their wake, and the president has been assassinated. In this new storm of chaos everyone is referring to as the Apocalypse, Wade decides their chances are better if they stick together.

But when Jaxxon’s ex dies in a hurricane and his daughter goes missing, Wade watches the man he loves slip into despair. Desperate to save his relationship, Wade leaves in the middle of the night on a dangerous journey to save Jaxxon’s daughter—a child he’s not sure is even still alive. If he can put this family back together, maybe there will still be something worth celebrating in the aftermath of the Apocalypse.

I have to be honest and say I was ready to not like First New Year’s After the Apocalypse by Jessica Payseur, me and everything Apocalypse related aren’t on good terms. I’m not a fan of sci fi in general but the blurb  of this short made me curious. And I’m very happy I gave this new to me author a chance.

I struggled a little at the beginning of the story because I couldn’t feel a connection, a chemistry, between Jaxxon and Wade, and the way Wade basically made room for himself in Jaxxon life, made no sense to me. It was clear to me later that he felt something I totally missed and of course he took the right choice. I liked how the author kept me on my toes, I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next and I wasn’t expecting the ending but I so welcomed it.

I’m going to see what else Jessica Payseur wrote in the past, I’d like to read more of her works.

The cover art by Catt Ford is very fitting and for this I like it.

Sales Links

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BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 49 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635331935 (ISBN13: 9781635331936)

Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine

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Rating: 3 stars out of  5

skyships-over-innsmouthTwenty winters have passed since the Cataclysm brought down society and robbed people of their memories. Humanity, vastly reduced in numbers since the initial chaos, has started anew in Canal City with the aid of library books and steam technology. The Scout and Ranger Corps was established to search for possible survivors and to replenish dwindling resources.

Dev is the captain of the scout airship Smoke Sparrow, and Shay is the scholar of their newest expedition. Their destination is Innsmouth, Massachusetts, a small fishing town that is mentioned in obscure books but shows up on no maps. Might its secrets offer answers? But within the fog-covered, ruined hillside town by the bay lurk unspeakable dangers and horrors beyond imagining. The expedition team soon learns that Innsmouth is one town that should have been left forgotten.

Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine is more of a horror steampunk story than a romance.  Taking place in a post apocalyptic world, Laine imagines what’s left of humanity living without memories of their past, in small societies run by steam and cobbled together knowledge from left over books.  The event that wiped out their memories and killed most of the world’s population?  Only mentioned by name, the Cataclysm, it brought the world almost to oblivion.  No one living can remember past “twenty winters”, and most of those alive are young.

Its a fascinating foundation.  Our main characters live in a place known as Canal City (its familiar name we will find out only towards the end of the story).  All the people, Shay, Dev, even the remarkable Malia (one of my favorite characters) is mostly a blank slate.  They have no history, no past, and unfortunately, that lack of foundation to their characters, leaves them shallow and lacking.  I understand that its part of the narrative but it left its mark here on the men too. Malia is a stunshine gun wielding, armor wearing security guard for the Smokey Sparrow. She’s the most vivid, sparkling character in the entire story.  I loved her.  She outgunned, out powered and basically out charactered every darn thing in this  story.  Not good for Dev and Shay. Even the villain.

Laine did spooky rather well.  The atmosphere over the town of Innsmouth practically shouted “run, you fools”.  Typically, no one ever listens.  I loved some of the descriptions of the town, the evil elements I can’t describe here without giving away plot points, and a host of other vile goings on.  I liked those.  But they kept being interrupted by Shay and Dev and a romance I never, ever believed in, not once.    It went from shy, “I Lurve You” glances, to instant hot in love.  I never felt any real connection between the two, all while trying to escape the town, and save themselves and others.

Nope, I wanted more  of Malia.

The explanation, when it came…well, I’m not sure that I understood it all.  But Malia was there kicking butt and somehow it all came together.  The almost to the end was smashing!

As a horror/adventure tale, I liked Skyships over Innsmouth by Susan Laine.  Definitely not as a romance.  Its really up to you.

Cover Art © 2016 Staf Masciandaro. I liked the cover art.  Spot on for the story.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

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Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634769902 (ISBN13: 9781634769907)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Jeri Review: Fight the Tide (Kick at the Darkness #2) by Keira Andrews

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Fight the TideYou really, really must read Kick at the Darkness first as this is the follow up book. And I am guessing (hoping?) that there will be a book three.

Fight the Tide picks up right where Kick at the Darkness leaves off. Adam and Parker are aboard a sailboat trying to survive. They have no idea where they are really going or what to do. But they want to survive. One day while Adam is on shore getting supplies, Parker is victimized by modern day pirates. Feeling like less of a man, a broken person, he puts on a brave face for Adam. When they hear a distress call, Parker absolutely does not want to help, fearing the worst. But Adam can’t leave these people with 2 children when they are sinking. And so we meet Craig, his daughter Lilly, and Abby and her so Jacob.

This installment is no longer a romantic love story, but one of survival and making your way in an unknown world. In book 1 it was Adam who was untrusting of the world. In book 2, it is Parker. That flip kept this book very interesting. Adam has a whole new “coming out” when he admits to the others that he is a werewolf.

While I really enjoyed this book, it was a bit of a hybrid of The Walking Dead and Waterworld.  There were tears, gasps, sighs and oh my gods. At times I was a bit lost in the sailing jargon, but then on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. We still get moments of romance between Adam and Parker, but this is far from a love story.

I admit I like book 1 more, but book 2 was a necessary bridge to the story coming for us in book 3. A story I cannot wait for.

The cover is gorgeous and a perfect representation of Parker and Adam and their sailboat, seemingly alone on the open seas.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published July 26th 2016 by KA Books
ISBN139781988260068
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Kick at the Darkness – add it to your Goodreads here

A Mika Review: Kick At the Darkness by Keira Andrews

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Rating: 5 star out of 5 stars

 

To live through the zombie apocalypse they have to survive each other first.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00067]College freshman Parker Osborne is having the worst day ever. He humiliated himself trying to pick up a cute guy, he hasn’t made any friends at school, and his stupidly hot jerk of a TA gave him a crappy grade on his paper. He’s going to drop Adam Hawkins’ film class and start fresh tomorrow after he’s had a good sulk.

But Parker’s about to find out what a bad day really looks like—if he can survive the night.

A virus is unleashed, transforming infected people into zombie-like killers. After these quick and deadly creepers swarm campus, Parker only escapes thanks to Adam swooping him onto the back of his trusty motorcycle. Now they’re on the run—and stuck with each other.

When they’re not bickering, they’re fighting off the infected in a bloody battle for survival. Their only hope is to head east to Parker’s family, but orphaned Adam has a secret he’s not sure Parker will accept: he’s a werewolf. Can they trust each other enough to find some light in these dark days?

Kick At the Darkness by Keira Andrews surpassed all my expectations. It was really good from beginning to end. No, let me say Parker surpassed all my expectations. Here I thought he was going to be this pretentious idiot but he was not. He was a fighter, and sure, I would have freaked out as well in his shoes. I thought the writing was very good. Loved Parker snarkiness. Can I just give K.Andrews a big ass high 5^ for naming him Parker Osborne, seriously You Rock!!!

Dude, this book helped me if there was ever a zombie apocalypse in the future. Now I know what to do and what not to do. I thought they were fortunate about the things that they were able to do and say. Also great? The pacing of the story. In situations like these, it always seems to me like Marshal law is the first thing that happens so I don’t know if I would be brave enough to leave my house in a situation like this. Unlike Parker.

For me the best part of the book was the FREAKIN DIRTY TALK. Parker, who is 18, is one of the dirtiest boys ever! I enjoyed every second of all the words that came out his mouth. The story was at 85% when Kiera Andrews wrote this scene and I damn near fainted because I can picture that in my mind! I re-read it 3 more times to make sure it said what it said. It wouldn’t be a zombie apocalypse book without some crazy people. Yeah that whole entire Pine resort thing was nice, but I seen crazy coming from a mile away.

I do wish I could have gotten a better ending. I understand it was 10% of Parker finding what he was looking for, but that’s it? We just are going to coast along. Hmmm that was a little disheartening. Overall I really enjoyed this book.

Cover Art by Dar Albert. I thought the cover was fitting considering the situation. I liked just seeing Adam & Parker plus Mariah the faithful motorcycle.

Sales Links:   All Romance (ARe)Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

265 pages
Published May 28th 2015 by KA Books (first published May 26th 2015)
ISBN139780994092410
edition languageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Creature Comfort by Rob Rosen

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Creature ComfortThree hundred years into the apocalypse, centuries-old zombie queen, Creature Comfort, and the love of her afterlife, Dara Licked, see a plane land near their salt factory in Utah.  Its the same plane that carried her friends and fellow drag queens, Destiny St. James, Kit Kat, and Blondella Bombshell off to New York City.  Now that same plane has landed 300 years later and out pop some drag queens asking for their help!  How could they refuse?

Soon Creature and her beloved, Dara, find themselves beneath a gussied-up Lady Liberty, surrounded by a race of fabulous drag queens. Humanity (what’s left of it) is in dire trouble, attacked by unseen menacing forces. Can Creature and Dara and a host of new friends possibly save the day?

Last year Rob Rosen published a story, Queens of the Apocalypse, featuring drag queens, zombies and, of course, an apocalypse.  I loved it.  It had humor, a whole lot of heart, and spunk!  Lots and lots of spunk!  Now at least one of the queens is back, the zombie one of course, in Rob Rosen’s Creature Comfort, and I admit I was a little leery about diving back into a universe and revisiting characters that I adored.

When you give a book 5 stars and love the ending, having a sequel can be a mixed blessing.  What if you don’t like what happens after the first book ended?  What if the magic and sparkle that made the first story so special is missing in the sequel? Yikes!  But I am happy to report that I  don’t see that happened here…mostly.

Creature Comfort picks up 300 years after Creature’s fellow and still human drag queens, Destiny St. James, Kit Kat, and Blondella, left her behind in a salt factory in Salt Lake City, along with a  small group of humans to find (hopefully) safety and sanctuary in New York City.  Creature had been brought back to a sort of living dead (yet totally fabulous) existence by the means of iodized salt so what better place to live than surrounded by salt!  Even better, Creature finds her soulmate in another gay zombie, drag queen Dara!  So far so good.

But Rob Rosen makes it clear that Creature and Dara’s existence has been pretty drab for a long, long time.  When the plane arrives (“da plane, da plane”), and three pretty young and human people pop out dressed like drag queens asking for help, its clear a road trip of apocalyptic proportions  is in the works.  By then I realized how much I had missed this quixotic, kind of horrible yet wonderful universe.  And Creature of course.

From the beginning Rosen starts building in the mystery and suspense.  The plane?  It’s exactly the one that Creature’s friends left in.  And why is everyone wearing drag when they aren’t gay?  And in one of the books funnier moments, when the Statue of Liberty comes into view, Creature and Dara notice (how  can they not) that she has been given a drag queen makeover too, complete with lipstick and glitter.  How fabulous!

But Rosen’s stories don’t shine on humor alone.  No, there is plenty of pathos and pain to go around and soon clues are falling into place that nothing is as it seems.  And we find out what happened to my favorite drag queens.

Soon it is up to Creature and her love, Dara to save humanity one more time and from a most unexpected source!  To do so, Rosen has created two more memorable characters, songstress Lola Fontaine (“winner of two Tony’s”) and her husband Lester aka Ricky, whose love for each other can’t be denied.  Between the four of them, the power of love and some fabulous zombie queens and their partners save the world once more.  Its fun, snarky, full of glitter and high-heels (Jimmy Cho’s), some laughter and tears.  Ok, not so much that as zombies can’t cry.  But you get what I’m aiming for.  Rosen brings real feelings and substance to zombies in love in a post apocalyptic world.  And even with two elements that made me less than happy (Rob, you know what they are), I  found myself falling back in love all over again.

If you are unfamiliar with the first story, some of Creature Comfort might be a little slow going and confusing at first.  Rob Rosen will fill in the blanks about the universe he built in Queens of the Apocalypse here but it takes time.  Much better to have read the first story and be well prepared for this one.  It gives you a ready made base for the humor inherent in the House of Bombshell and the House of St. James now so much a part of society on Liberty Island, to say nothing of Saint Creature!

And the ending leaves open the possibility of yet another story for Creature, Dara, Lola and Lester.  I hope so.  I would love to see what happens when they all get back to Utah.  It should be a doozy!  In the meantime, if you love zombies, drag queens and some wild action/adventure, well, then, Creature Comfort is the story for you!  Its fast paced, funny, sometimes a litle sad but always, always entertaining.  I highly recommend it as well as Queens of the Apocalypse, along with author Rob Rosen.  Don’t pass them up!

Cover artist?  Like the cover but its a little simplistic.  I far prefer the cover of the first story, Queens of the Apocalypse!

Sales Links:  Amazon        Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 238 pages
Published February 12th 2015 by Fierce Publishing
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edition languageEnglish

A Mika Review: Run With the Moon by Bailey Bradford

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Rating: 3 star out of 5 stars

Two species that have always kept themselves separated are about to collide and create a new world.

Run With the Moon coverTwo species that have always kept themselves separated are about to collide and create a new world.

  Humanity almost managed to do itself in.  Ravaged by wars and plagues, the human population on earth has been bordering on extinction, although pockets of people have been forging on over the past few hundred years. It’s a hard life, and one Aaron Olsen fears he doesn’t fit into. As a son of a village leader, there are pressures on him he can’t manage, and things he keeps hidden, desires he doesn’t know how to express that keep him up many nights as he worries over them.

Valen is an alpha, born with the crescent moon mark on his chest. It means he’ll have to leave the pack he was born and raised in. It is the way of the wolf, and the only way to prevent it is to fight his father. Valen has no intention of doing such a dishonorable thing. He leaves as he’s supposed to, only to find himself the victim of thievery. When he hunts down the party responsible for stealing his belongings, Valen finds himself attracted to the human Aaron Olsen. 

Now, if they can only survive their own pride and insecurities, and an attack that threatens everything they love, they just might have a chance at happiness in Valen’s Pack.

I’m on the fence about this story. I can say the one person who made me finish it was Rivvie. I liked his energy, positivity and just him in the story. It was suppose to be a futuristic setting shifter story, and I didn’t get it. If anything I felt like this could be almost a caveman story. Valen in the beginning seemed overwhelmed, sweet, and humble.

When the story starts progressing alone we get this caveman instead. I didn’t follow. It was simple things he did or said. His actions with Aaron were definitely caveman style it seemed. I’m not saying it was bad, but it was really. I liked that Aaron’s family were respectful to him, even though in his mind something else was happening. I do feel like it was holes in the story about the epidemics, and the shifter’s staying away from humans. I didn’t believe that village with both humans and shifters allowed some humans to come and destroy them. If this was the future, you are telling me they don’t know anything about a Molotov cocktail used as an accelerant.. I didn’t find that believable at all. My only other issue is that I wanted to see some sort of future for Aaron & Valen. What happened when both tribes intertwine? I would have loved the epilogue to be about them as mates. It fail short in that part.

Cover Artist by Posh Gosh, I’m a little on the fence about the cover too. I thought it was nice cover don’t really know if it goes with the story in my mind. I don’t see this guy as Valen. To me Valen, was this big guy almost caveman like because that’s how he is portrayed in the story.

Sales Links:  Totally Bound

Book Details:

ebook, 144 pages
Expected publication: February 6th 2015 by Totally Bound
ISBN139781784303945
edition languageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Who Knows the Storm (The Vigilante #1) by Tere Michaels

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Who Knows the Storm coverSometime in the future, a mysterious climate event caused torrential rains to fall, raising the water levels in New York City so high that huge areas were soon lost underwater and what civilians that could were evacuated, never to return.  Now a vastly different New York City is rising up from the flooded land, one where decadence reigns—gambling, the flesh trade, a playground for the wealthy. And underneath? Crime, fueled by “Dead Bolt,” a destructive designer drug.

Left behind in the initial evacuation as a young teen, now a grown Nox Boyet leads a double life. At night, he is the Vigilante, struggling to keep the streets safe for citizens abandoned by the corrupt government and police. During the day, he works in construction and does his best to raise his adopted teenaged son, Sam.

High priced whore, “model” Cade Creel, a high-end prostitute working at the Iron Butterfly Casino is asked by one of his influential “regular” clients to hand deliver an envelope to a person named Sam Boyer.  Never did Cade expect his delivery to take him into the worst parts of town where mugging and killings are frequent, and the best options where even worse outcomes have been known to occur.  A “rescue” by the Vigilante and the delivery made to Sam trigger an intense attraction between Nox and Cade, one that  ignites as dark figures from Nox’s past and the mysterious peddlers of Dead Bolt begin to descend—and put all their lives in danger. When things spin out of control, Cade is the only person Nox can trust to help him save Sam.

My hopes for Who Knows the Storm ran high.  The author?  One of my favorite and an automatic buy for her stories.  The synopsis?  Intriguing and current, especially the element of a climatic weather event drowning New York City, a possibility that many experts expect to happen in the not so distant future.  Plus it was the first in a new series called The Vigilante, another bonus.  Unfortunately, while Who Knows the Storm has many fine attributes, taken together they never add up to a logically constructed, gripping whole story. Sigh.

Set in some vague dystopian future, the settings and locations made sense while the backstory did not.  Everyone expects the sea levels to rise, especially given recent storms like Hurricane Sandy which left a wide path of destruction in its wake, including submerged subways and highly populated boroughs underwater. But here there was no effort made to reclaim the city, leaving it to crumble,falling into such disrepair and unhealthy state that no one returns to live there?  That’s the first premise the reader has to buy into and its a huge one that never feels believable.  New Yorkers giving up on their city?  The rich and influential fleeing, leaving their riches behind?  Uh no.  Especially when there are already cities (think Amsterdam or Venice or…) with the working technology to erect sea barriers.  There exist pumps to flush out the subways (which they did in Sandy), and so much more that is general knowledge that this “world building” is off to a shaky start on a foundation built on plot that never comes together.  I never bought into this dystopian world  and that lack of believability and connection damaged the rest of the story.

Then there were the characters.  Nox Boyet’s past is seen through the eyes of an abandoned 15 year old, one living through an ecological disaster of immense proportions.  This element of the story is both moving and affective.  We don’t need a reason for the rains to become affected by a young person in danger in uncertain times.  The descriptions and scenes are desperation incarnate and the frailty of Nox’s situation pulls the reader in…for a while.

Then we transition from the past, forward to a year and then to the nebulous present and Nox as not only an wary adult but a father of teenaged son.  The vast gap between the child left behind and the aged Nox just highlights the missed opportunities to flesh out the world building and answer the many questions floating around in the reader’s minds.

The pov switches from character to character, transitioning in a manner that’s not always as smooth as one could hope.  Michaels is also trying to establish all the main series plot threads, events and characters while balancing the need of the immediate storyline and character growth.  Sometimes it works and other times not so much.  Events from the past are reintroduced throughout the story but often lead to more questions not answers.  There are character with multiple identities and everywhere a facades are erected to hide the actual events and people responsible for them.  I rather liked the “smoke and mirrors” aspect to Michael’s plot.  There are some nasty little surprises in store for the main characters and shocks for the readers as well.  It’s a convoluted trip Tere Michaels takes us on.  There are white-knuckle moments galore, and gut clenchers (yes I know that’s not a word but it should be) to satisfy most picky of  action/suspense readers around.  But…..it never all comes together and feels like a harmonious whole.  It’s feels jumbled and a bit dense in places, and the “aha” moments  come and go a little too quickly.

The last thing?  The ending, which leaves major components and figures unresolved and unidentified.  That’s actually ok with me as this is the first in a series, and I can see the author using this mysterious scheme and head villain as an “umbrella layer” for all the books to come.  I was left strangely unsatisfied at the end of the story.  I just don’t think this part of the story was part of that unsettled feeling.  I’m still thinking about that one.

If you are a Tere Michael’s fan or a lover of dystopian stories, you might love Who Knows the Storm (The Vigilante #1).  This is a story that could go either way with readers, some will love it and others won’t make it to the finish.  You will have to be the judge.

 Cover Artist: Angsty G.  The coloration is nice.  I wish the idea of a New York Red District rising out of filth laden waters would have translated to the cover.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press                    All Romance  (ARe)                   Who Knows the Storm             buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published October 17th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632162175
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Vigilante #1

Behind the Scenes with Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau on their King of Dublin Tour!

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KingOfDublin_TourBanner(1)

Hi! We’re Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau, authors of the new post-apocalyptic romance King of Dublin. We’re touring the web talking about Ireland, the post-apocalyptic genre, a behind-the-scenes look at our book, and even a sneak peek or two! And what would a blog tour be without a contest? We’re giving away two ebooks and a souvenir from Ireland to one lucky commenter, so KingOfDublin_150x300(1)read on!

Thanks so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having us, and to all you readers for following along. And now without further ado, today’s look at King of Dublin!

What’s in a Name? A behind the scenes look at names in King of Dublin

One of the things we really enjoyed playing around with and exploring in King of Dublin was names and naming conventions. King of Dublin takes place in Ireland (obviously, unless of course we were writing about Dublin, California I guess!), so we had to take Irish culture into account when naming our characters, especially in the case of one of our characters, who comes from a predominantly Irish-speaking culture. Our story also takes place in a country ruled by anarchy, where things like birth certificates and social insurance numbers and passports and legal name changes are a thing of the past, so that adds a whole new complexity we could play with.

So here’s a character-by-character sneak peek into character names. Enjoy!

Darragh Fearghal Anluan

Darragh is the hero of our story: the Irish Gaelic-speaking wanderer who comes to Dublin in search of medicine for his village. When he swears fealty to the king of Dublin, he states his name as Darragh Fearghal Anluan, but did you know that’s not his legal name? He was actually born Darragh Calhoun. Darragh Fearghal Anluan is an approximation of how people in his village would have likely addressed him. Fearghal isn’t his middle name, nor is Anluan his last. He may not even remember his legal last name!

So why does he call himself that? Darragh comes from the Irish Gaeltacht, which is a part of the country where Irish Gaelic (Gaelige) is spoken as a first language. Here, people refer to themselves by their given name, and the names of their father and grandfather, or sometimes mother and grandmother. So rather than his legal name of Darragh Calhoun, Darragh goes by Darragh son of Fearghal son of Anluan, although I have to admit to not mucking about with using those names in the genitive case, as would be proper. Mea culpa, Irish speakers! (And Latin speakers now too, probably!)

So what do his names mean?

Darragh: A variant of “Dara”, which means “oak tree.” We thought naming him after a tree suited his stoic, solid, tolerant nature.

Fearghal: An Irish name meaning “man of valour”, referring to the courage in his character.

Anluan: From the Irish “an”, which means “great”, and “luan” which means “hero” or “warrior” (which is kinda the same thing in Irish mythology).

Of course, the name he gets called most often isn’t one given to him by birth at all, and is far less glamorous than any of the ones above: Culchie. Which is a term used in Ireland to describe people who live in rural areas, and not usually in a complimentary way.

Ciaran Daly

Ciaran is King of Dublin’s second hero, and Darragh’s love interest. When we meet him first, he is the King’s pampered pet . . . or is that tortured slave? He’s a status object for the king, as much as the plundered gold he wears. His name is much more “standard” than Darragh’s, but there’s still a bit of story to be teased out of it.

His first name, Ciaran, is a bit ironic. In Irish, it means “Little dark one,” while the text (and Darragh) make quite the show of how pale and golden Ciaran is, from the gold collar and cuffs he wears to the blond colour of his hair.

As for his last name, Daly? Well, Daly comes from Ó Dálaigh, or “Son of Dalach”. Dalach, in turn, comes from “dáil”, which means “assembly”, and also happens to be the name for the Irish lower parliament. The Ó Dalaigh, according to Irish history, were an important bardic family, part of a class of elite poets and musicians (yes, really) charged with carrying on and passing down the history, culture, and knowledge of Ireland. Ciaran, with his knowledge of the time before the collapse of Irish society, often takes on this role in the novel.

King Boru

The titular King of Dublin, Boru was a petty criminal in the days before the epidemic, and rose to power in the lawless years after. Having reinvented himself from gangster to monarch, he took on a new name to go with it. Although it’s never mentioned in the book (having likely been lost to time), Boru’s real name is Brian Menzies. It’s a completely ordinary name, but it has a little bit in common with a much more famous, royal moniker.

The real Brian Boru was an Irish chieftan credited with becoming the first High King of Ireland. King Boru, with his penchant for using his country’s history to solidify his own dictatorship (as many other dictators have done), must have jumped at the chance to re-name himself after a much more famous Brian than “Menzies”!

Rabbit

An orphaned child taken in by Irish Travellers, Rabbit has no (known) legal or given name, only one informally and affectionately given him based on his personality. He goes by Rabbit because of his tendency to “rabbit on”–that is, to chatter excitedly–which Rabbit most certainly does.

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Contest

Thanks for following our tour! To celebrate our release, we’re giving away a great pair of prizes! Up for grabs are: a book from BOTH of our backlists (that’s one Lisa Henry title and one Heidi Belleau one!) and a King of Dublin-themed souvenir from the National Irish museum, mailed straight to your door! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for us to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because we won’t be able to see it otherwise! Two weeks after King of Dublin’s release, on March 8th, we’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win this awesome prize!

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ARC fullcoverAbout King of Dublin

Title: King of Dublin by Lisa Henry Heidi Belleau
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, Erotic, M/M, Romance
Length: 382 pages/Word Count: 100,900
Buy at Riptide Publishing

Twenty years after a deadly pandemic ravaged the world, Darragh Fearghal Anluan and the people of his village have carved out a hard but simple life in the Irish countryside. But with winter comes sickness, and Darragh must travel to Dublin in search of medicine. What he finds there is a ruined city ruled by a madman, where scavenging is punishable by death . . . or conscription.

Ciaran Daly came to Ireland with aid and optimism, but instead was enslaved by the so-called King of Dublin. After months of abuse from the king and his men, he has no reason to believe this newcomer will be any different. Except Ciaran finds himself increasingly drawn to Darragh, whose brutish looks mask how sweet and gentle he really is.

The tenderness Darragh feels for the king’s treasured pet is treason, but it’s hardly the only betrayal brewing in this rotten kingdom. Rebellions and rival gangs threaten the king’s power, but not nearly as much as Darragh and Ciaran—whose only hope for freedom is the fall of the king.

You can read an excerpt and purchase King of Dublin here.

About the Authors

Lisa Henry lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

You can visit Lisa her website, at Goodreads, or on Facebook or Twitter..

Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write.

Her writing reflects everything she loves: diverse casts of characters, a sense of history and place, equal parts witty and filthy dialogue, the occasional mythological twist, and most of all, love—in all its weird and wonderful forms.

When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her daughter or sipping a drink at her favourite coffee shop.

She also writes queer-flavoured M/F as Heloise Belleau.

Review: Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Strain_500x750When a deadly virus is unleashed, it spreads and mutates quickly, wiping out most of the human race.  Rhys Cooper and his small family has escaped the virus and its consequences by living in a small compound under the rule of a puritanical preacher and his son.  But soon the zombie like plague victims discover them and all are killed except Rhys and Jacob, the preacher’s son.  They are rescued by a special militia corp, but not before Rhys and Jacob were exposed to the virus themselves.

Sergeant Darius Murrell  belongs to a group that used to be Army and nows roams the country looking for survivors.  They are also charged with finding and killing the people the virus has turned into cannibalistic murderers who spread the virus by various means including blood sprays.  When Darius and his unit find Rhys, he is covered in the blood of a revenant, their name for the infected.  Rhys and Jacob are surely infected themselves by their exposure to the revenants that killed the rest of their group.  When the militia’s medic comes up with a last ditch experiment that might save Rhys and Jacob’s lives, Rhys is begins to think that dying is preferable to the experiment the soldiers propose.

Xolani, the medic present, knows that her squad cannot return to base with the survivors in time to save them so Rhys and Jacob’s only hope is to be infected by another strain of the virus and that the combination might confer immunity. The problem? The virus needed is one that’s sexually transmitted, and the only means to obtain it is to sexually submit to the entire squad of soldiers as many times possible daily over a six-week time period.  At what cost is his survival, Rhys wonders.  Would he rather die than become the sexual plaything of a bunch of hardened soldiers?  And if Rhys chooses to try the experiment, will he be able to live with the memories and the humiliation afterwards?

Of all the thoughts that crowded into my mind after finishing this story, first and foremost is the one that said that Strain is a story people will either love or hate or even possibly hate to love.  The plot alone is one of such emotional impact that the blurb itself just might be a turn off that will leave some would be readers cold.  At its barest outline, you have a teenager who has just watched his family killed by revenants and is now forced to have sex with multiple partners and not yet once but as many times a day as his body can stand.  Throw in the fact that he is a virgin and I can almost see potential readers cringing in dismay, wanting to avoid any emotional involvement this story will demand.

This is not a story for the faint of heart or stomach.  It rears up and commands a reaction from its reader.  And gets it.  At almost 400 pages in length, the reader, once committed to the story, will find themselves on an emotional roller coaster that will include a range of responses, from disbelief to distain, hopefulness to despair, and even moments of hostility towards the author for putting Rhys through such torment for such a long duration.  But if you stick with this story, then it also had its own rewards.

Some of the issues that crop up at first glance are blatantly in your face huge. First, there is Rhys.  He is 19 and a virgin.  Raised in a religious sect environment, he has been abused, starved, and finally deprived of those he loves when they are killed by the revenants that infect him. And in order to live he must whore himself out to a group of unknown hardened soldiers, trusting that the experiment isn’t just a falsehood used to gain his services.  I defy any one out there to to deny the emotions that arise within themselves just by reading that description.

Secondly his rescuer, Darius, that Rhys comes to have feelings for, is 42 years of age.  Think of that difference in age, experience and outlook on sexuality and morals.  Once the reader adjusts and gets past those elements, more arrive to be dealt with.  Additional issues will depend upon how your tolerance and acceptance of the fact that the only method available to transmit the virus is near constant coitus, the more partners Rhys has the greater exposure to different variations of the strain he requires.  I will admit that I was skeptical of the science behind this experiment at the beginning.  Thoughts of injections, blood exchanges or other field methods that an army medic would have at their disposable, even on the go as this company is, rose up to make me question the plausibility that such extreme measures as they require of Rhys and Jacob.  But again, the author managed to answer all my questions, convincing me of the science behind it and the medic’s explanations as the story progresses.  All it takes is sticking with the story, even if you have to stumble past those sections that make you cringe.

Then there is the sexuality that prevails throughout the story.  It is crude, harsh, with elements of voyeurism, D/s, bdsm, and other kinks.  It is noncon, almost noncon, sprinkled with “boy”, dirty language, and the need for pain and humiliation.  That is most likely the biggest hurdle of them all.  Rhys and his initiation into sex by such a horrific requirement is the element that will give most people pause.  I think my take on the events and changes that occur within Rhys might vary from those found within.

Gormley takes Rhys from virgin to one who adjusts his morality to include casual sex among partners while still needing to have relations with someone who cares about him, all within a month’s time.  Towards the end he has adjusted his outlook to become more flexible in his thinking and morality.  Here is Darius’ take on Rhys somewhere in the middle of the story:

“Of course given the way that Rhys seemed to like a rough and dangerous edge to his sex, maybe it was time for that to change. Toby and Jie might be right up his alley.”

For me this is by far the largest issue here. My opinion is that if you take a 19-virgin who has been isolated from others and made to feel that sex is for procreation, including the idea that same sex feelings are a perversion, you have an almost fragile blank canvas in the person of Rhys. Then by  subjecting  him to constant near rape, you are practically hardwiring him to not only accept the role he has been made to play but also that casual rough sex and domination are the norm because he doesn’t have any other frame of reference.  It verges on Stockholm Syndrome in my opinion.  That odd lack of recognition that Darius and the group’s treatment of Rhys might have played a role in the formation of his sexual preferences makes this aspect of the story its biggest obstacle in my opinion.

So why stick with this story and why give it such a high rating?  Because for all those elements, and distasteful to some, storylines, Strain is a well written and absorbing novel.   The further into the novel the reader gets, the deeper the reader sinks emotionally. It grabs onto your heart or should I say Rhys does, and, refuses to let go.  Trust me when I say you will be sobbing at certain junctures within this story.  Rhys will break your heart over and over.  And not just because of his current situation either.

You will find yourself getting angry or disgusted at times during the narrative.  “Why should that happen to Rhys?  It’s all so unfair” you might find yourself saying, conveniently forgetting that Rhys and the injustice of his situation are the product of a fine imagination.  Truly despicable characters along with those that pull at your heartstrings come not from poorly layered constructs but from wonderful characterizations.  If at times you forget everything but the world the author has created, then that person, in this case, Amelia C. Gormley, has done their job and then some.

This is a HFN story.  Indeed given such a post apocalyptic world and constant peril, it is the only reasonable ending the author could apply.  For some people, Strain will be a difficult book to read, for others a complete joy and for still others, the wide array of strong elements pose just a mild discomfort, a small price to pay for such a complex and compelling tale.  Take a moment to think and make the decision for yourself.

This is how it all starts:

D eath smelled like old wooden pews whose varnish and cushions had become saturated with acrid layers of dust. It smelled like mildewing carpet rotting from rain that had leaked through a roof he’d never had the skill or resources to repair. The hymnals had long since been used for tinder, but the musty scent of old books—once so comforting but now vaguely nauseating—remained.

Cover Art by Kanaxa.  I think the cover fails to deliver any idea of the story or character within.  Rhys is rail thin, disheveled, a survivor.  The model here looks the very antithesis of Rhys Cooper.

Book Details:

ebook, 375 pages
Published February 17th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published February 15th 2014)
ISBN13 9781626490710
edition language English
 Book was received as an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.