A MelanieM Review:Love in Every Season by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Four seasons, four stories, one connection – finding love.
Two men who hate Valentine’s Day discover they might have been wrong.
A Paralympic swimmer gets an unusual incentive to win gold.
Love and lust flourish under desert skies, but nature’s cruel.
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night gets a new twist.

When Charlie Cochrane wants to deliver a collection of stories, I listen and am there because I just love this author’s writing no matter what era her characters are visiting or narrative the story thread is taking.  Here in Love in Every Season, the reader is given a true mixture so there is something for everyone.  A little bit of Shakespeare mixed with steampunk!  Love under the desert skies with a archeological dig in the past.  A mere jog back to the 2012 London Olympics and also a story firmly with its foundation in the near  present.

While I enjoyed them all, three were more firmly my favorites. And  while I really didn’t understand why each story was exactly given the season it was located under.  The first was Spring but the men and the story was focused on their anti Valentine (February) sentiments.  So for me Spring was a stretch.  So I pretty much ignored the season, unless Charlie was talking about fresh new starts which then yes indeed, that worked.

Here are the stories in the order they are presented in the book:

Spring:

Horns and Halos:  Rating: 4 stars out of 5

February 14, 2011.  Both  Jame and Alex are attending a Workshop on (as best I could figure out) Human Resources, LGBT, Recruiting, and Rights for their respective schools/or school districts in England.  Not sure how it works over there being from the US, but as I said I was still trying to figure that part out from their conversations.  They end up as workshop partners and the electricity flows while they try to see if each is gay.  The chemistry is cute and the story an adorable HFN as is all the tales here.  Both are anti Valentine and that gets worked into this and resolved as well.

Autumn

Sand: Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

The time frame is nebulous as is the exact location but you can certainly lock it down slightly  by certain references that Charlie Cochrane is so great at.  We’re pre WWI somewhere in a region that used to be part of the Seleucid Empire, loads of sand obviously  Poor Charles Cusiter has been sent along as a companion/babysitter to grown  manchild and heir Bernard Mottram to whom the female sex has proven an magnetic attraction he cannot stay away from.  It’s been the cause of many scandals and his wealthy mother is tired of it.   Bernard (and Charles as his guard dog  against the fairer sex) has traveled to an archaeology dig in Dahmalia run by Dr. Andrew Parks and his male assistant Yaseen, a place void of women.  Something Bernard’s mother made sure of prior to sending her son there.

Of course, there are slight complications.  While Bernard is dispirited about the lack of women, Charlies fears he has to hide his immediate attraction to Andrew,  Charlies’ homosexuality and the manner in which it is handled here is distinct to that era and “certain types” of gentlemen aboard.  It shows in the language the author uses and the references within the story.   That would include mentions of Mrs. Jellyby, a character in the novel Bleak House (1852–53) by Charles Dickens and Daphne Du Maurier who wrote in the early 1900’s.

The relationship proceeds slowly and only a dramatic event lets the men drop their guards fully.  It ends as only it could, a HFN, with a slight bittersweet knowledge from them (and from us) that they will stay there for only as long as the British are still welcome.  Something we know will be ending soon.  So yes, I guess you could say it is the Autumn of the Empire here. That’s my application for Autumn here.

Summer

Tumble Turn:  5 stars out of 5

Yes, this is my favorite story.  It starts out with the childhood friendship of Matty White and Ben Edwards, who has S9 CP, that would be Cerebral Palsy.  The first chapter is titled Nomination July 2005.  That’s when London is nominated as a possible location for the Olympics in 2012.  The boys desperately want London to win (and of course we know it does).    Ben wants to participate in the Olympics, no matter what anyone says…including the bitter somewhat unpleasant Mrs.White, Matty’s divorced mother. As the story moves forward, the boys age, move apart physically into college and apart in friendship. All the while Ben trains as a Paralympic Swimmer, moving closer to achieving his goals.  No Matty is not the romantic interest here sorry.  But there is one.  For a while I thought he was too.  Nope.  But Matty is the connection.

But the romance that does play out is sweet, heartwarming, authentic, and real.  So too is Ben swimming towards his long held goals.

Everything about this story just connected with me.  Ben’s family, the boyfriend, and the Olympics.  Loved it.

Summer was easy to apply to this story. Summer Olympics.  Why of course!

Winter

What You Will (A Shakespeare and Steampunk fusion): Rating 3 stars out of 5

Charlie Cochrane’s version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night given a steampunk twist with airships versus sailing ships that wreck.  A m/m romance with Captain Antonio and the airship-wrecked Roderigo who is also looking for his twin sister (and all the usual twists you find within the story), excerpt that Olivia had to go off and find another love. Somehow I never connected with any of the characters and the romance here.  I did with the original version, mind you.  But here, something, perhaps, the language itself is lacking.  Neat idea though..  Just didn’t work for me.

Cover art is a bit innocuous for a Charlie Cochrane story.  Bland but I’m not sure what you could do for such a wide variety of stories.  But I would never have chosen this..

Sales Links:  Amazon Precorder

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 158 pages
Expected publication: July 22nd 2019 by The Right Chair Press
ASINB07SFYTPZ9

A Lila Review Torn by Rick R Reed

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Ever been torn between two lovers? That’s Ricky Comparetto’s problem.

It’s 1995, and Ricky is making his very first trip across the pond with his best friend. Ricky, hungry for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, finds it in the beach city of Brighton. His new love has the curious name of Walt Whitman and is also an American, which only serves to make him sexier and more intriguing. By the time Walt and Ricky part, promises are made for a reunion in Boston.

But the course of true love never runs smooth. In Chicago Ricky almost immediately falls in love again. Tom Green is a sexy blue-collar beast with the kindest heart Ricky has ever run across.

What’s he to do? With a visit to the East Coast on the horizon and a new love blossoming in Ricky’s home of Chicago, Ricky truly is torn.

Torn is more than an MM Romance. It’s a piece of queer fiction, well-written and smart. It’s an interesting read for those looking for something different. Especially since it takes place on the nineties. A time gay men weren’t as free to express their feelings for each other and the hopes of a future relationship were kept under wraps.

It’s easy to see the author’s experiences taking place in this story. As well as many of his contemporaries. It’s easy to understand Ricky and his need for companionship and solitude. A variety of relationships define different stages in his life, and it takes some time to understand who he is and what he needs.

One thing I  don’t enjoy it when characters break the fourth barrier. I’m not a fan of characters talking directly to readers or viewers. It takes away from the connection between the author’s creation and the reader’s imagination. And in the end, it hinted to Ricky’s choice, loudly.

I cheered for Ricky and Walt. Perhaps because their story takes most of the book. I never felt a connection to Tom, no matter how many times Ricky explained how good he was. Overall, I wanted more. More of a relationship, share experiences, and less of a rushed decision.

I wanted to enjoy Ricky’s partnership and the reason he ended up with who he did. In the end, this is a good story. I simply wanted to enjoy Ricky’s love a little longer.

The cover by Reese Dante goes well with the story’s blurb and Ricky’s description. At the same time, it feels too modern for the book.

Sale Links: DreamspinnerAmazon | Nook

Book Details: 
ebook, 202 pages
ISBN: 9781644051771
Published: May 21, 2019, by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Check Out the Review Tour and Giveaway for Torn by Rick R Reed

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Length: 63,424 words
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
 
Blurb
 

Ever been torn between two lovers? That’s Ricky Comparetto’s problem.


It’s 1995, and Ricky is making his very first trip across the pond with his best friend. Ricky, hungry for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, finds it in the beach city of Brighton. His new love has the curious name of Walt Whitman and is also an American, which only serves to make him sexier and more intriguing. By the time Walt and Ricky part, promises are made for a reunion in Boston.


But the course of true love never runs smooth. In Chicago Ricky almost immediately falls in love again. Tom Green is a sexy blue-collar beast with the kindest heart Ricky has ever run across.


What’s he to do? With a visit to the East Coast on the horizon and a new love blossoming in Ricky’s home of Chicago, Ricky truly is torn.





Excerpt

I’m going to tell you how this story ends, but not with whom. That’s a fair promise to make, isn’t it?

So…. Yes, you’ll get your happy-ever-after ending—if there truly is such a thing—you just won’t be privy to all the details. Unless you read on….

Almost twenty-five years ago, I was thirty-five years old and privileged to cross the pond to merry old England for the very first time. I was finally able to say I’d traveled internationally by the grace of my best friend, a writer of boys’ adventure stories with the improbable name of Lord Boutros BinBin (no, he was not an actual Lord; he told me once he simply had parents who were “quirky” and “creative,” also known as “free spirits”). He wrote under the much plainer moniker Beryl Kensit.At that time, and during that trip, I was also blessed to fall head over heels in love with a gorgeous, kind, and sensitive man I met at twilight on the streets of the beachside city of Brighton . He ticked every box on my imagined list for the perfect lover—exotically handsome, spiritual, artistic, amazing in bed, and… I could actually hold a conversation with him. Our silences were okay too, comfortable. We launched into a passionate affair and promised that we’d meet again.

But the course of true love, as they say, never did run smooth. Ain’t it the truth?

I returned home from those two weeks with a satchel full of memories, a sexually transmitted infection, and the knowledge that I’d found true love.

But then, only a week or two after settling back into my little apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago , I found myself falling head over heels in love again—this time with a salt-of-the-earth, charming, and sweet man from the South Side. He was nothing like I ever imagined I would be compatible with—our tastes, educational background, intelligence, and cultural awareness made us like creatures from two different planets—yet somehow the magic, the spark, was there.

How would I reconcile the two? Whom would I choose? Could things ever end satisfactorily when, as in Mary MacGregor’s song, you’re “Torn Between Two Lovers”?

Read on, my friend, read on… and discover how the head won out over the heart.

Or was it the other way around?

Real Men. True Love.


Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.


Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

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RELEASE BLITZ Torn by Rick R Reed (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 63,424 words
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
 
Blurb
 

Ever been torn between two lovers? That’s Ricky Comparetto’s problem.


It’s 1995, and Ricky is making his very first trip across the pond with his best friend. Ricky, hungry for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, finds it in the beach city of Brighton. His new love has the curious name of Walt Whitman and is also an American, which only serves to make him sexier and more intriguing. By the time Walt and Ricky part, promises are made for a reunion in Boston.


But the course of true love never runs smooth. In Chicago Ricky almost immediately falls in love again. Tom Green is a sexy blue-collar beast with the kindest heart Ricky has ever run across.


What’s he to do? With a visit to the East Coast on the horizon and a new love blossoming in Ricky’s home of Chicago, Ricky truly is torn.


Excerpt


In which our hero, Ricky Comparetto, finds himself lost on his very first time in London in the wee hours of the morning. It serves him right, after his shameless behavior at an after-hours sex club.

Much later, I found myself wandering the streets of London near New Scotland Yard, searching through its labyrinthine corridors for Trevor’s building. In the quiet darkness of London’s wee small hours, it seemed the world had paused to take a breath. Again, a feeling of things being surreal overcame me; I wondered if I’d ever find my way back to Boutros again, or if I’d be doomed to wander endlessly through this curving warren of streets.

It was maybe three o’clock in the morning, and Westminster felt almost like a movie set, perhaps something dystopian, where the main character wakes to find the world empty. The light of Big Ben shone in the distance, but I had no idea how to get back to Trevor’s.

I was too exhausted to panic, however, even though I felt like a rat in a maze, a charming, historic maze, but a maze nonetheless. Looking back, I recall that I felt serene, strange as that is to remember.

I had just decided to see if I could find a park bench or curb to lie down on—to await morning’s light and new clarity to get back to my friends—when I discovered that there was such a thing as a bobby, the Brits’ word for a patrolman on foot. This bobby, who was dressed all in black with a tall hat adorned with a shield, and I appeared to be the only ones about, other than the black cabs that passed by stealthily, similar to the one that had deposited me in a place I’d believed was close to Trevor’s.I approached the bobby and told him, a little abashed, that I was lost. I supplied him with the name of the street I sought and, for good measure, what Trevor’s building looked like.

He nodded, all business. “You need to cross the Thames”—he pointed that way—“and then make your way back in the opposite direction from where you were going. You’re not far.”

I thanked him, but his directions simply didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to argue with him, and I certainly didn’t want to believe he was fucking with me, so I didn’t question him. I may have been lost, but I wasn’t that lost. I let him continue on his rounds. I stood still, not wanting him to see me continue on what he’d most likely perceive as my misguided path. Why’d you bother asking him if you weren’t going to listen? I wondered but had no good answer for myself.

I plopped down on a bench to ponder what I should do. I supposed that, with morning’s light, Boutros would be worried (or worse, would believe I’d shacked up with yet another man) and come looking.

I questioned my decision to part from Boutros and Trevor earlier in the evening, when the gay club we were drinking at closed its doors way too early for me. I mean, really, eleven o’clock? And this was “swingin’” London? Trevor suggested I go to an “after-hours” club called the Brick. He told me it was a no-holds-barred kind of place. Or was it “no-holes-barred”? Whatever. The idea of the “Felliniesque” club, as Trevor described it, appealed to me.

So I went, met a few nice boys, and ended the evening by being showered with come in a cloakroom, courtesy of one half of a couple I’d met who were visiting London from Liverpool.

I thought it would be easy to get home because Trevor’s building was within walking distance of New Scotland Yard, which is where I told my cabbie to drop me.

I hadn’t counted on streets that curved, and ended and began with no rhyme or reason. I hadn’t counted on the buildings and streets all looking so alike.

I should have.

After a while, I got up from the bench and started wandering again. And then I stopped… and sighed with relief. Just ahead was one of those iconic red phone booths you might imagine when you think of London—or Doctor Who.

“Oh thank God,” I whispered, making my way to the booth. I groped in my pocket, hoping the receipt upon which Trevor had written his phone number earlier was still there. What if it isn’t? I thought, the panic already causing my pulse rate to quicken despite my fatigue, the copious amounts of alcohol I’d imbibed, and the two orgasms I’d had at the Brick.

But my hand curled around the little slip of paper, and I brought it out and squinted at the scrawled number in the wan light. I lifted the phone off the hook, deposited a mystifying array of coins that I hoped would be enough, and dialed.

Trevor answered, voice heavy with sleep.

I told him my problem and described where I was, along with the cross streets nearby.

He didn’t seem fazed, for which I was grateful. “Hang on, sweetie. I’ll be right there.” He disconnected before I could say anything else.

I left the phone booth and sat down on a curb. I regarded the crescent moon above for only the shortest of times. Trevor appeared before me, like an angel, within a matter of fewer than five minutes.

I didn’t have much to say, other than to express my gratitude… and embarrassment.

His building turned out to be around the next corner.

Real Men. True Love.


Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.


Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

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Jump Back to Jazz Age Romance with the Book Blitz Tour for Midnight Flit (The Carstairs Affairs #2) by Elin Gregory (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 73,000 words approx.
 
Publisher: Manifold Press
 
The Carstairs Affairs Series
 
Book 1 – Eleventh Hour – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
 
Blurb


Miles Siward and Briers Allerdale return for another thrilling Jazz Age adventure .

“Silk stockings on expenses.”

Miles’s aristocratic mother has information of importance to the British Government and he must escort her home from Bucharest immediately, but their plans go violently awry and Miles and Lady Siward find themselves on a train to Belgrade – where Miles’s lover is posted. Since their pursuers are looking for a man and a woman, might two women slip past them unnoticed?

“Is anyone on this train who they say they are?”

Briers doesn’t know whether to kiss Miles or punch him but is delighted to accompany him and his mother on their journey. All he has to do is keep an eye open for their enemies – but who exactly are they; the enormous Russian, the sinister priest, the handsome jazz pianist, or maybe the winsome young movie star? And his mother-in-law might just be the most terrifying of all!

All aboard for the ride of a lifetime, with a cast of characters you’ll never forget!


Excerpt


Secret Intelligence service operative, Miles Siward, is preparing for a mission with the assistance of his gentleman’s gentleman, Pritchard.

“Do you miss working for Father?” Miles asked after a moment. “I feel bad that I’ve never asked before, but I was so grateful when you agreed to come back with me and run my little establishment that I suppose it never occurred to me to ask.”

Pritchard paused, his hands full of snowy linen. “Lord bless you, sir, no. Ronald and I were heartily sick of exchanging letters by then, and maybe seeing each other once a year – your father’s commitments allowing. To be offered the chance to come here, with private accommodation provided, was a Godsend. My only worry was that a relationship started in the trenches and continued on paper might not weather more frequent contact.”

Ronald – professional stage manager, natty dresser, a full head taller than Pritchard – was perhaps a little shrill, but one had to be shrill to be heard in theatrical circles. From what little Miles had seen of Pritchard and Ron together, though, they seemed blissfully happy and he wished them well and envied them with all his heart.

“I’m glad,” he said. “Going from valet to His Majesty’s Ambassador in Bucharest to the man-of-all-work of a clerk seems such a come down.”

“We both know that you are far more than a clerk, sir,” Pritchard grinned. “And speaking of more, Bucharest is not that far from Belgrade. While you are there, will there be any chance of meeting with the master?”

Miles snorted. “You mustn’t call Briers that, it only encourages him. He’ll turn up in plus fours and a monocle next, you wait and see!”

“It’s meant affectionately, sir.” Pritchard gave him a serene smile and tucked a rolled black tie and a pair of silk socks in beside the shirt.

“I know, and he loves it.” Miles paused in smiling contemplation of Briers Allerdale – tall where Miles was short, dark where he was fair, a hard-bitten field agent where Miles spent a lot of time at his desk − and thanked his lucky stars that opposites attract. “But sadly I am only going for one night, solely to retrieve Ma and bring her home safely in time for her appointment. A side trip is completely out of the question.

“I understand, sir.” From the sympathetic glint in Pritchard’s eye, Miles knew that he did understand, very well.

 
About Elin
 

Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and works in a museum in a castle built on the edge of a Roman Fort! She reckons that’s a pretty cool job.

Elin usually writes on historical subjects, and enjoys weaving the weird and wonderful facts she comes across in her research into her plots. She likes her heroes hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow. Often they are in danger, frequently they have to make hard choices, but happy endings are always assured.

Current works in progress include one set during the Great War, another in WW2, one set in the Dark Ages and a series of contemporary romances set in a small town on the Welsh border.

www.elingregory.com
www.facebook.com/elin.gregory
@ElinGregory
www.elingregory.wordpress.com

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Blog Tour for The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Title: The Stars May Rise and Fall

An M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera set in turn-of-the-millennium Japan

Author: Estella Mirai

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: MiblArt

Genre/s: M/M romance, contemporary

Heat Rating: 2 flames

Length: 90 000 words/320 pages

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads 

Blurb

Teru came to Tokyo with dreams of making it big in the glam-metal visual kei scene, but three years later, all he has to show for it is a head of hot pink hair and some skill with an eyeliner pencil. He may look the part, but he doesn’t sound it, and constant bickering among his bandmates has him worried about his future. When he finds a mysterious business card in his bag, he’s willing to take any help he can get.

Help comes in the form of Rei, a crippled, disfigured composer whose own career was ended by an accident before it had really begun. With Teru’s voice and looks, and Rei’s money and songwriting skills, both of their dreams seem about to come true – but a forbidden kiss and a late-night confession threaten to tear it all apart. Now Teru, who has spent most of his life denying his attraction to men, and Rei, who vowed long ago never to love again, must reconcile their feelings with their careers – and with their carefully constructed ideas of themselves.



THE STARS MAY RISE AND FALL is an M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera, set in Tokyo at the turn of the millennium. It comes with a healthy dose of angst and a dollop of nostalgia, as well as an age-difference romance, a physically disabled love interest, and memorable characters who will stay with you long after the pages are closed.

Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Excerpt 

I can help you. Call me.

Teru ran his finger around the edge of the card. Maybe it had been a mistake. Should he call, and let whoever had left it know?

He opened the window and lit a cigarette. The smoke floated out into the muggy Tokyo night.

“This is stupid,” he said aloud. “It’s one in the morning. Whoever it is, they’re asleep.”

But Teru wasn’t asleep. His bandmates probably weren’t asleep either. If it was a musician who had left the card, one in the morning was better than one in the afternoon.

I can help you. Call me.

He picked up his phone and dialed.

It rang once, twice—and Teru cut the connection. This is stupid. But he didn’t feel stupid. He felt guilty, like he’d been doing something he shouldn’t.

He stubbed out the cigarette and walked across the room to the refrigerator. Nothing but a pack of noodles and a flat Diet Coke. Even though he’d already had a couple with the guys after the show, what Teru really needed was a beer.

On the other side of the room, the phone rang.

The floor was littered with clothes and magazines and Playstation controllers. Teru almost tripped as he lunged for the phone, and then only crouched there, watching it, with his nerves wrapped around his voice box like a snake. There was no name with the number, but Teru knew it by heart. He’d only been staring at it for the past hour.

The ringing stopped. An engine rumbled outside Teru’s window, and a train clattered over distant tracks. Upstairs, slippered feet padded across a tatami floor. The air was thick with an anticipation far from silence—but just as easily shattered by the trill of a different ring.

Teru’s fingers fumbled to open the text.

I heard you sing.

He stared, waiting for the words to sink in. They didn’t, though. They made no sense.

It had only been a mistake after all.

You’ve got the wrong number, he replied. This is Teru, the drummer for La Rose Verboten. I don’t sing.

And then: You should.

The phone rang again.

“Hello?”

“You have a beautiful voice.”

It wasn’t Yasu. It wasn’t anyone he knew.

“Hello?” Teru repeated. “Who is this?”

“A friend.” The voice was male, deep and effortlessly sensual in a way that Seika would have envied. It made Teru distinctly uncomfortable.

“Look,” Teru said. “I think you want Bara. I’m not the singer. I’m the drummer. The one with pink hair?”

“I heard you,” the man pressed. “In the dressing room. I can help you.”

In the dressing room? There’d been no one else in there.

“Is this some kind of joke?”

“Not at all.”

“What do you want?” Teru whispered.

“To teach you. To help you. Will you meet with me?”

Teru’s palms were sweaty, his face flushed. It was partly exhaustion, partly a lingering buzz… but it was more than that. He felt dirty. This was worse than what he felt with Seika—and it was just a voice on the goddamn phone.

“There’s a studio in Koenji,” he heard himself say.

“No!” the man snapped, and he took a sharp, hissing breath. “No studios. You may come to my apartment.”

“Your apartment?”

“Please. It is… difficult, for me to go out.”

“Um… okay.” What the hell did that mean?

“I live in Meguro,” the man said. “Near the live house. I can send you the address. If you’ll come.” There was a plea in his voice, a quiet desperation. Teru swallowed, hard.

“You want to give me singing lessons?”

“Yes.”

This was insane. “When?”

“Whenever you are free.”

Teru glanced at his calendar. June, 2000. Three years, almost to the day, since he had stepped off the night bus from Niigata. After all that time, he didn’t even have anything to lose.

About the Author

Estella Mirai lives just outside of Tokyo with her human family and a very spoiled lap cat. When she isn’t reading or writing, she works in editing and translation—which means that 99% percent of her day is usually words. In her minimal free time, she enjoys watching musicals, cooking (badly), and slaughtering power ballads at karaoke.

Author Links

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A MelanieM Review: The Stars May Rise and Fall by Estella Mirai

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Teru came to Tokyo with dreams of making it big in the glam-metal visual kei scene, but three years later, all he has to show for it is a head of hot pink hair and some skill with an eyeliner pencil. He may look the part, but he doesn’t sound it, and constant bickering among his bandmates has him worried about his future. When he finds a mysterious business card in his bag, he’s willing to take any help he can get.Vi   V

Help comes in the form of Rei, a crippled, disfigured composer whose own career was ended by an accident before it had really begun. With Teru’s voice and looks, and Rei’s money and songwriting skills, both of their dreams seem about to come true – but a forbidden kiss and a late-night confession threaten to tear it all apart. Now Teru, who has spent most of his life denying his attraction to men, and Rei, who vowed long ago never to love again, must reconcile their feelings with their careers – and with their carefully constructed ideas of themselves.

The Phantom of the Opera story is one of my favorites, tragic, dramatic, horrifying in some ways, and romantic.  It’s been told and retold countless ways  from the original novel by Gaston Leroux to movies, plays, and yes, more novels with multiple twists and turns to the original theme and storyline.  I always wonder where the next author or  songwriter or whoever will take it next.  And what their spin will be.

Didn’t expect it to be Visual Kei and Japan.  But it turned out to be an unexpected draw for me and a perfect fit for a M/M retelling of Phantom of the Opera. Visual Kei is a form of Japanese rock, think American Glam rock of the 80’s.  It’s still popular today but it’s heyday was the 80’s and it’s stars (GACKT was/is one as was bands like Malice Mizer, Raphael, and Dir En Grey) were gods.  They wore makeup, elaborate costumes, and often appeared gender fluid.  It’s into this world that Estella Mirai takes us.

The author sets her story in Tokyo and a visual kei band, La Rose Verboten, already in turmoil.  The self involved lead singer Bara is looking for an excuse to quit, the small time’s band’s popularity is dropping and the remaining members, Yasu, Minori, and the drummer Teru are trying desperately to hold on when Teru gets handed a card that states.

I can help you.  Call me.

And with that a familiar story is launched, turned, and becomes one of pain, lost chances, a young man’s discovery of his sexuality, hurt/comfort, anguish, and finally redemption and great love.  In Mirai’s hands the reader falls deeply not only under the spell of Japan and these young men but get’s pulled into the world of visual kei, it’s music and lyrics, the music industry itself, and the personal costs associated with stardom.  That is quite the narrative load and the author manages to combine it all into one incredible romance.

I will admit that I stumbled a bit on the romance part at the beginning.  As with every Phantom retelling, there’s a romance triangle to deal with.  The mystery man behind the card is Rei, tortured, scarred and wounded, he wears a mask of silver.  More of his background I won’t reveal but it is peeled back ever so slowly, each layer a revelation to Teru and to us the readers.  The other?  A young girl, Kiyomi, who went to school with Teru and is now his biggest fan.    For Teru, each represents a different direction his life can take.  With Kiyomi he can stay safe, pretend to be “het”, go home, and take up his old name.  Or accept he’s gay, and his feelings for  Rei as incredibly scary as they are, embrace the path he’s on and understand  love in all its forms.  And he can become not just a  drummer but the singer he was always meant to be.  And a star.

This is not an easy romance as one hopefully would expect.  One person has been traumatized and has the personality that comes from living in constant pain and dealing with a haunted past.  One is confused about his sexuality, his future, his gifts musically, he’s in the throws of his first real love and it’s with a person almost guaranteed to make a a road strewn with walls and boulders.  Then there is a young girl who wants to make everything easy….

Those  who hate cheating will have issues here but honestly this reads so real and human you understand  the issues here and how messy the human heart can be.

But the best of the best?  The final third of this story.  The parts that break your heart and put them back together again.  And oh that ending!   As they say in the theatre, that’s worth the price of the ticket!

Estella Mirai has a marvelous story here, borrowed from Gaston Leroux, and given a Japanese rock twist.  Her characters are beautifully layered, her story well written, and destined to stay with you long after the last bars of the song have been sung.

“sakikaeru made”

Yes it did.

Find out what that means by buying this incredible book.  I highly recommend it.    And don’t forget to read all about the real people chapter at the end.

Cover art: MiblArt. I loved the cover.  Perfect for the characters, tone, and storyline.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 309 pages
Expected publication: December 11th 2018
ISBN 139781684547715
Edition Language English

 

 

 

 

THE STARS MAY RISE AND FALL is  at the turn of the millennium. It comes with a healthy dose of angst and a dollop of nostalgia, as well as an age-difference romance, a physically disabled love interest, and memorable characters who will stay with you long after the pages are closed.

***

Tour: Becoming Andy Hunsinger by Jere’ M. Fishback (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Title:  Becoming Andy Hunsinger

Author: Jere’ M. Fishback

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: Aug 14, 2017

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 64200

Genre: Historical, friends to lovers, college, coming out, coming-of-age, historical, drug/alcohol use

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Synopsis

It’s 1976, and Anita Bryant’s homophobic “Save Our Children” crusade rages through Florida. When Andy Hunsinger, a closeted gay college student, joins in a demonstration protesting Bryant’s appearance in Tallahassee, his straight boy image is shattered when he is “outed” by a TV news reporter. In the months following, Andy discovers just what it means to be openly gay in a society that condemns love between two men and wonders if his friendship with Travis, a devout Christian who’s fighting his own sexual urges, can develop into something deeper.

Excerpt

Becoming Andy Hunsinger
Jere’ M. Fishback © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

On my seventh birthday, my parents gave me a Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat.

I still have the book; it rests on the shelf above my desk, along with other Seuss works I’ve collected. Inside The Cat in the Hat’s cover, my mother wrote an inscription, using her precise penmanship.

“Happy Birthday, Andy. As you grow older, you’ll realize many truths dwell within these pages. Much love, Mom and Dad.”

Mom was right, of course. She most always was. My favorite line is this one:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

***

Loretta McPhail was a notorious Tallahassee slumlord. On a steamy afternoon, in August 1976, she spoke to me in her North Florida drawl: part magnolia, part crosscut saw.

“The rent’s one twenty-five. I’ll need first, last, and a security deposit, no exceptions.”

McPhail wore a short-sleeved shirtwaist dress, spectator pumps, and a straw hat with a green plastic windowpane sewn into the brim. Her skin was as pale as cake flour. A gray moustache grew on her wrinkled upper lip, and age spots peppered the backs of her hands. Her eyeglasses had lenses so thick her gaze looked buggy.

I’d heard McPhail held title to more than fifty properties in town, all of them cited multiple times for violation of local building codes. She owned rooming houses, single-family homes, and small apartment buildings, mostly in neighborhoods surrounding Florida State University’s campus. Like me, her tenants sought cheap rent; they didn’t care if the roof leaked or the furnace didn’t work.

The Franklin Street apartment I viewed with McPhail wasn’t much: a living room and kitchen, divided by a three-quarter wall; a bedroom with windows looking into the rear and side yards; and a bathroom with a wall-mounted sink, a shower stall, and a toilet with a broken seat. In each room, the plaster ceilings bore water marks. The carpet was a leopard skin of suspicious-looking stains, and the whole place stank of mildew and cat pee.

McPhail’s building was a two-storied, red-brick four-plex with casement windows that opened like book covers, a Panhandle style of architecture popular in the 1950s. Shingles on the pitched roof curled at their edges. Live oaks and longleaf pines shaded the crabgrass lawn, and skeletal azaleas clung to the building’s exterior.

In the kitchen, I peeked inside a rust-pitted Frigidaire. The previous tenant had left gifts: a half-empty ketchup bottle, another of pickle relish. A carton of orange juice with an expiration date three months past sat beside a tub of margarine.

Out in the stairwell, piano music tinkled—a jazzy number I didn’t recognize.

McPhail clucked her tongue and shook her head. “I’ve told Fergal—and I mean several times—to close his door when he plays, but he never does. I’m not sure why I put up with that boy.”

McPhail pulled a pack of Marlboros from a pocket in the skirt of her dress. After tapping out two cigarettes, she jammed them between her lips. She lit both with a brushed-chrome Zippo, then gave me one.

I puffed and tapped a toe, letting my gaze travel about the kitchen. I studied the chipped porcelain sink, scratched Formica countertops, and drippy faucet. Blackened food caked the range’s burner pans. The linoleum floor’s confetti motif had long ago disappeared in high-traffic areas. Okay, the place was a dump. But the rent was cheap, and campus was less than a mile away. I could ride my bike to classes and to my part-time job as caddy at the Capital City Country Club.

Still, I hesitated.

The past two years, I’d lived in my fraternity house with forty brothers. I took my meals there, too. If I rented McPhail’s apartment, I’d have to cook for myself. What would I eat? Where would I shop for food?

Other questions flooded my brain. Where would I wash my clothes? And how did a guy open a utilities account? The apartment wasn’t furnished. Where would I purchase a bed? What about a dinette and living room furniture?

And how much did such things cost? It all seemed so complicated.

Still…

Lack of privacy at the fraternity house would pose a problem for me this year. Over summer break—back home in Pensacola—I’d experienced my first sexual encounter with another male, a lanky serviceman named Jeff Dellinger, age twenty-four. Jeff was a second lieutenant from Eglin Air Force Base. I met him at a sand volleyball game behind a Pensacola Beach hotel, and he seemed friendly. I liked his dark hair, slim physique, and ready smile, but wasn’t expecting anything personal to happen between us.

After all, I was a “straight boy,” right?

We bought each other beers at the tiki bar, and then Jeff invited me up to his hotel room. Once we reached the room, Jeff prepared two vodka tonics. My drink struck like snake venom, and then my brain fuzzed. Jeff opened a bureau drawer; he produced a lethal-looking pistol fashioned from black metal. The pistol had a matte finish and a checked grip.

“Ever seen one of these?” Jeff asked.

I shook my head.

“It’s an M1911—official air-force issue. I’ve fired it dozens of times.”

Jeff raised the gun to shoulder height. He closed one eye, focused his other on the pistol’s barrel sight. “Shooting’s almost…sensual.” Then he looked at me. “It’s like sex, if you know what I mean.”

I shrugged, not knowing what to say.

Jeff handed the pistol to me. It weighed more than I’d expected, between two and three pounds. I turned it this way and that, admiring its sleek contours. The grip felt cold against my palm and a shiver ran through me. I’d never fired a handgun, never thought to.

“Is it loaded?” I asked.

Jeff bobbed his chin. “One bullet’s in the firing chamber, seven more in the magazine; it’s a semiautomatic.”

After I handed Jeff the gun, he returned it to his bureau’s drawer while I sipped my drink, feeling woozier by the minute. Jeff sat next to me, on the room’s double bed. His knee nudged mine, our shoulders touched, and I smelled his coconut-scented sunscreen.

Jeff laid a hand on my thigh. Then he squeezed. “You don’t mind, do you?”

I looked down at his hand while my heart thumped. Go on, chickenshit. He wants you.

I gazed into Jeff’s dark eyes. “It’s fine.”

Moments later, my swim trunks lay in a corner and Jeff knelt in front of me, slurping away. Currents of pleasure crept through my limbs, and then I felt a buzzing between my legs. When I came, I thought I’d pass out. I closed my eyes and drew a deep breath. Then I watched fireworks explode inside my head.

Jesus, this feels good. Why haven’t I done this before?

Thereafter, we rendezvoused several times during summer, always at the same hotel.

“I get a military discount here,” Jeff explained.

I quickly learned the basics of male/male sex from Jeff, and each session proved better than the one before. During these meetings, Jeff introduced me to anal intercourse, something I’d never dreamed I would do.

The first few times, Jeff took a passive role. But then he asked me to surrender my cherry, and I acceded. Jeff’s initial penetration felt painful, but soon I relaxed, and I discovered a side of myself I hadn’t known existed. A fullness and warmth crept through my body as Jeff thrust inside me. The whole thing felt so…natural.

Whenever I lay in bed with Jeff, after sex, I always rested my head on his chest, and while I listened to his heartbeat I felt like a guy released from jail. I knew I was queer then—there was no doubt about it—and the realization made me feel a bit foolish, like I was the last guy at the party let in on the joke. I was a faggot, a fudge-packer, a butt pirate. My attempts at dating women had been a ruse—I’d only done it to fit in with my fraternity brothers—and what a waste of time it had been for all concerned.

Like most guys, I’d masturbated chronically since my early teens, and now I knew why visions of naked men crept into my thoughts whenever I did so. Now I knew why my friends’ girlie magazines had never held my interest. No wonder showering with my PE classmates in high school had thrilled me so.

It all seems stupid in retrospect. How could I not know I was gay? But in 1976, most guys weren’t in touch with their inner selves. I don’t know why, but we weren’t. Feelings weren’t a topic of male conversation. Emotional needs took a backseat to more “important” matters: achievement, sports, and politics—“normal” concerns, if you will.

My summer with Jeff changed all that, for me at least. In the sexual sense, I had found my mother lode. I belonged in the arms of a man—I would settle for nothing else—and I was fine with it. But now fall had arrived, and I would live in Tallahassee again. I couldn’t drive to Fort Walton Beach every weekend. That would mean a three-hour drive on monotonous Highway 90, passing by cow pastures and slash pine forests, just to meet up with Jeff. And how much sense did that make? I needed a boyfriend who lived nearby, and assuming I found one, I would face a few problems.

If I remained at the Lambda Chi house I’d share a room with a fraternity brother, so I’d have no privacy. Plus, the guys at Lambda Chi wouldn’t understand if I dated another male, no way.

Wasn’t it time I had my own place?

Now, in her run-down rental apartment, McPhail blew a stream of blue smoke. After the cloud rose to the kitchen’s cobwebbed ceiling, she looked at me with her insect eyes.

“Well?” she said.

I studied my shoes and licked my lips. Go on: do it.

I swung my gaze to my future landlady.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Jere’ M. Fishback is a former journalist and trial lawyer who now writes fiction full time. He lives with his partner Greg on a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. When he’s not writing, Jere’ enjoys reading, playing his guitar, jogging, swimming laps, fishing, and watching sunsets from his deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

8/14    Happily Ever Chapter

8/14    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/15    MillsyLovesBooks

8/15    A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

8/15    Love Bytes Reviews

8/16    V’s Reads

8/17    MM Good Book Reviews

8/17    The Novel Approach

8/17    Drops of Ink

8/17    Diverse Reader

8/18    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/18    Xtreme Delusions

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