JL Merrow on Modern Explorers and her new release Wight Mischief (guest post and giveaway)

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Wight Mischief by J.L. Merrow

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host JL Merrow here today talking about her new release Wight Mischief. Welcome, JL.

 

 

Modern Explorers

Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Wight Mischief, a romantic suspense novel set on the island I grew up on, the Isle of Wight.

We’re all familiar with tales of exploration from history. There’s (to name but a few) Leif Eriksson, who made it to America five centuries before Columbus; Gertrude Bell, who pioneered the novel idea of preserving relics of antiquity in their home locations; Marco Polo, whose 24-year travels were a 13th-century inspiration to explorers who came after him; Sacagawea, who was invaluable on the Lewis-Clark expeditions, despite being presumably somewhat inconvenienced by giving birth en route.

You might think the spirit of adventure and exploration has died out in modern times. Hasn’t everywhere already been mapped? But that spirit, that urge to discover and to document, lives on—and you can find it on the internet.

Some key scenes in Wight Mischief take place on or around a tunnel that leads down from Marcus’s fortress home through the cliffs to a staircase ending on the beach. Now, this fictional route is based on a real tunnel, constructed as a supply tunnel to a 19th-century Palmerston fort built to defend the island against French invasion. I can remember the excitement of making my way through this tunnel as a teenager, and the nervous drop from the rusted-off end of the staircase to the rocks below.

Of course, these days health and safety wouldn’t allow such perilous pursuits, and in any case, the land is now in private hands and fenced off. So I wasn’t, alas, able to refresh my decades-old memories by revisiting the site.

Other, however, have been bolder. There are forums online for these modern explorers to discuss, and to document, their visits to all kinds of off-the-beaten-track places which lie forgotten and falling into decay. They see this as an important preservation of our heritage. Some specialise in subterranean exploration. Others focus on the derelict in a race against time to document buildings and other structures before they are lost forever.

You may not agree with their methods—it’s fairly clear not all of them trouble to get the landowner’s permission before they strike out on their expeditions of discovery—but you have to admire their spirit of adventure.

Question: Another favourite playground of my youth was a tumbling-down fort on Culver Cliffs. Do you have fond memories of somewhere derelict or forgotten where you played as a child?

Giveaway: I’m offering a prize of a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate to one lucky commenter on the tour, who will be randomly chosen on Friday 15th June. Good luck!

Wight Mischief

A ghost of a chance at love.

Personal trainer Will Golding has been looking forward to a getaway with his best friend, Baz, a journalist researching a book on ghosts. But on the first day of their camping trip on the Isle of Wight, Will takes a walk on a secluded beach and spies a beautiful young man skinny-dipping by moonlight.  Ethereally pale, he’s too perfect to be real—or is he?

Lonely author Marcus Devereux is just as entranced by the tall athlete he encounters on the beach, but he’s spent the years since his parents’ violent death building a wall around his heart, and the thought of letting Will scale it is terrifying. Marcus’s albinism gives him his otherworldly appearance and leaves him reluctant to go out in daylight, his reclusiveness encouraged by his guardian—who warns him to stay away from Will and Baz.

The attraction between Will and Marcus can’t be denied—but neither can the danger of the secrets haunting Marcus’s past, as one “accident” after another strikes Will and Baz. If they don’t watch their step, they could end up added to the island’s ghostly population.

Available in ebook and paperback from Dreamspinner Press

Wight Mischief was previously published by Samhain, but has been completely re-edited and given a lovely new cover for this second edition by Dreamspinner Press.

Author Bio:

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. 

She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Two of her novels have won Rainbow Awards for Romantic Comedy (Slam!, 2013 and Spun!, 2017) and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at: https://jlmerrow.com/, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow

Z.A. Maxfield on Writing Romance and her new release ‘Plummet to Soar’ (author guest blog, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Plummet To Soar (Plummet to Soar #1) by Z.A. Maxfield
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Link: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Z.A. Maxfield today on tour with Plummet To Soar, her latest release.  She’s brought an exclusive excerpt and giveaway for all our readers.  Enjoy.

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Hi, I’m Z.A. Maxfield! Thanks again for inviting me to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to share my thoughts and talk about my latest book, Plummet to Soar!

I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked why I write. I’m often asked how I get my ideas or what my process is. How to get over writer’s block (I refuse to believe in it) and burnout (I failed to recognize it, until it was almost too late to save myself.)

But right now, I can’t remember anyone specifically asking why I write. Let me just put this out there — I write to change the world.

Maybe that sounds super-grandiose, but we’re supposed to aim for the moon, right? So we might fall among the stars…

When I was in college, I saw the film, “My Beautiful Launderette.” The story was different, and sexy and positive, even though life was so precarious for the characters. I found that story immensely compelling. I wanted the love affair to work out so badly my heart just ached for it. I looked for more stories like it, and was unable to find many books where LBGT characters got a happily-ever-after. Possibly, I didn’t know where to look, as there was no Amazon, or search engine optimization back then. I found–maybe–twenty that fit the criteria.

The lack of romance featuring LGBT protagonists still bothered me when I started writing for publication. I can’t say why, because I had no skin in the game. I lived in a traditional heterosexual marriage and my children were too young to date. It just seemed so stupidly unfair. Thirty years later, that feeling of isolation was still on my mind. What must that be like, I wondered…

God, was I ever naïve. I had no concept of my privilege. I had no idea what own voices, or diversity, or inclusion, or marginalized meant. I only wondered how it would feel to be a queer kid, looking for a book with a queer protagonist, where queer people can find love and don’t end up in a mental institution or dead.

Stories teach us, they comfort us, they take us places that would be impossible to visit without them. They give us whole new worlds to enjoy. They inform and interact with society in unexpected ways. They allow us to meet people we don’t know and get used to ideas we haven’t grown up with. Stories creep over the walls people put up between each other because human emotion is universal. Whether we’ve experienced something or not, a skilled author can create strong, unforgettable, and transformative emotions. That’s what I want to be, when I grow up. Who knows! I’m fifty-seven and it could happen any day now! 😀

Not all my ideas are awesome but fortunately, there are a geshmillion other writers out there trying to change the world with me. I am not alone in my endeavors. Whew!

But since you asked, I write because I believe people are more alike than they are different. I write because I believe that people are basically good. And I hope you’ll join with me and help change the world by telling your stories. Because the more often we strive for a world of peace, of plenty, of fairness, and kindness and decency, the more likely that world will become a reality.

Neil Gaimon said, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

 

 

Book Blurb:

Feckless, luckless, and charming, Mackenzie Detweiler is the author of a self-help book one reviewer calls “the most misbegotten motivational tool since Mein Kampf.” He’s maneuvered himself into a career as a life coach, but more often than not, his advice is bad. Really bad.

It’s even getting people hurt… and Mackenzie sued.

It falls to Mackenzie’s long-suffering editor, JD Chambers, to deliver the bad news. He chooses to do so face-to-face—to see if the spark he senses between them is real when they’re together in the flesh. Unfortunately, a snowstorm, a case of nerves, a case of mistaken identity, and finally a murder get in the way of a potential enemies-to-lovers romance.

There are many, many people who have good reason to want Mackenzie dead. JD must find out which one is acting on it before it’s too late for both of them.

Excerpt

Despite the white noise generated by the heater and the hum of someone’s television, silence threatened to overwhelm JD after Mac left. The room was nice—super-dated decor, traditional furniture. The linens, though, had that “international chain hotel” look—white on white with a colorful runner and fancy round bolsters to go with ample standard-size lumps for sleeping on. And right next door, lying on his back, among all those many pillows….

JD,

You can call me anything you want. You contracted the book, man. People have called me everything—Mac, Mackenzie, Z, and shit-for-brains.

I’ve never let anyone call me Kenzie.

Mac

Why’s that? Breathlessly curious about the odd new writer—the goofball his colleagues laughed at and jokingly called Humpty Dumbass behind his back—he switched to text.

Mac texted back, Dunno. I think I’ve been saving that one for someone who loves me.

JD thumbed, I love being inside your head during the journal entries. A long hesitation. Oh, God, was that too much? He always gave away too much, goddammit. He typed like lightning—I mean that’s how I felt when I first read it. I love these ideas, finding resilience. It resonates with me in a way I can’t really explain. I loved being in your head, reading words as you thought them. Wrote them.

My book is me, distilled. Maximum me. Call me Kenzie.

Like whisky, the words, the book, the man went to his head. All right, then, Kenzie.

JD loved their secret nicknames, loved knowing what it meant. He connected with Kenzie daily, over the minutiae of publishing his book and well beyond that, into late-night emails and intimate text conversations about the meaning of life. But while he coyly obscured all but a few details and kept his face, even his voice, hidden for no reason but his fear that if he broke the fantasy, he’d lose it, Kenzie was transparent. Since Kenzie Detweiler had become the single most important thing in his life, and since JD had nothing in his life to compare the experience to, he was ill equipped to handle such a thing.

Kenzie was made of minutiae, it turned out. He’d spent endless, generous time explaining how he saw the world and why he saw it that way and what it all meant.

Chambers Lighthouse Publishing published books by authors with whom JD had never spoken a single word. His name was on the door, but he had people for interacting with the authors. But the Lamplight line was his sole purview. He was its acquisitions editor and its executive editor.

Lamplight, started by his grandfather, put out almanacs, books of prayerful sentiment, and the journals of thoughtful, barely known but highly influential men. He’d kept his output to three or four titles per year. The authors were thought-provoking but never controversial—Norman Mailer and Truman Capote and Joan Didion need not apply.

His father changed all that, publishing astonishingly sexy memoirs and books by people who really set society’s hair on fire, becoming the enfant terrible of the legacy publishing world for about five minutes. And now, no matter how many pairs he tried, JD could fill neither man’s two-tone, lace-up, wing-tipped oxfords. Shortly after he took over, he vowed to publish books he liked, and people called him sir, or Mr. Chambers, or they got out of his way.

But not Kenzie, who called him JD.

Somewhere between the contract and the first marketing campaign, Douglas—oh, who was he kidding with the fake name and this ridiculous trip—Jacob Douglas Chambers IV—fell in love.

That Kenzie didn’t know who he was? Was both a godsend and a curse. A godsend because he could choose the perfect time for The Big Reveal, and a curse because if he was wrong about this? There was no perfect time.

He really expected Kenzie to know him. That was the thing. He told Kenzie that he was allergic to cameras, but who stops there? There were exactly five pictures of him online. One in a morning coat, top hat, and tails at a wedding, even. JD could have told Kenzie who he was at any time.

Why hadn’t he?

He’d foreseen the moment for so long. What was he protecting himself from? He’d developed a deep, unhealthy emotional attachment to the man who was taking a shower—if the running water was anything to go by—in the room adjacent. There was a gap under the connecting door, and every sound was amplified through it.

Kenzie, singing “Despacito.” The sexy slap of water on the tub floor. He didn’t dare take his imagination further than that. He’d believed in Mackenzie Detweiler, trusted his words, his thoughts, his heart.

And it seemed as though he’d been deluded, along with all the other saps who bought Mackenzie Detweiler’s spiel. But maybe that wasn’t fair, because even tonight, even in pain from an injury he got—not while following Kenzie’s very well-meaning advice, but Kenzie didn’t know that—right up until the moment he’d seen Kenzie face-to-face, JD wanted to believe that what they had was foreordained or somehow magical—celestial.

He wanted to believe there was some sort of there… there.

I’d ask your definition of freedom.

Kenzie always had a comeback. There was another reason not to get sucked into the happy complacency of letting someone else do his thinking for him. JD had tasted the Kool-Aid, siphoned a little to see how it felt, and then guzzled it. And when the unthinkable happened, and the scythe came too close to miss him, he didn’t have the revelations he’d been promised. He simply felt… pissed.

Yes. That was it. Pissed, because in no way did he believe Mac lied in the book. In Mac’s case a near-death experience solidified who he was. He seemed happy. Fulfilled and content. His weird personality traits and his inchoate yearnings had incubated—hatched into someone fierce and proud and unfailingly kind. JD would stake his life on the fact that Kenzie was legitimately happy.

JD was pissed because he felt goddamn nothing.

Stupid for hoping that, if he embraced the worst, his fears would go away.

Stupid for asking for more than he had when he was arguably the richest, luckiest person he knew.

Stupid for trying out any advice he got from a dumbass like Mac, who had turned out to be just another fucked-up human being after all—even if he was a delightful one.

They were all lucky no one had gotten killed. Yet.

Everyone from editorial to corporate had put in a word. Plummet was going to be pulled off the shelves the following Monday. Press releases had been written. Lawyers were on standby. And he had to tell Mac about that too.

Sorry. I’m the man you trusted with your career, and I’m here to pull the rug out.

It wasn’t right to keep it from him. Years back, they’d pulled a book on canning while the author reworked the section on food safety. Those things happened. But they wouldn’t offer Mac a chance to rewrite and rerelease. The ideas JD had embraced so fully only alarmed them after his ludicrous brush with death, though it had nothing to do with the book.

No. The board didn’t want anything to do with Mac anymore.

JD had argued at first. Thrown his weight around. What happened to him didn’t result from Plummet to Soar. All he’d done was attend a contentious co-op board meeting. Those were a bore but not normally dangerous. It wasn’t like he’d run with the bulls in Pamplona. No one could have foreseen his ex catching him in the parking garage alone.

JD absently rubbed his knee. And why, when his leg was broken on one side, did the other knee hurt so much? JD made a mental note to call his doctor and find out.

His eyes snapped open when the water shut off. From the other side of the door came the sound of more humming and rustling noises. Curiosity was killing JD truly. Killing him.

How did connecting doors in hotels work, anyway? Were there two doors or just one? It seemed kinda old-school—a knob, a dead bolt.

Is the lock engaged?

As though it heated before his eyes, the lock seemed to glow with some inner fire. The knob was the only thing he could focus on. God, his leg hurt. The buzz from the flight, from the bar, was fading. If he took a pain pill, it would knock him out too hard.

JD laid his cheek against the door and put his hand on the knob. Nope. Nope, Nope. Nope. The door between their rooms felt cool. He let go of the knob, as though it would brand him, but that was just more melodramatic bullshit. He could hear his mother’s voice telling him to get a grip on himself. Which, really, anyone who ever met him would have known that having a grip on himself was part of the goddamn problem.

Try the door.

It was almost as though the door were talking to him—or was that wishful thinking?

He wanted to try it anyway, and what was it they said about confirmation bias? You generally fall in with the data that supports what you already believe?

No. It wasn’t all a scam.

The doorknob turned in his hand. The door opened in his direction. He had to step back to get out of its way. And then he was standing there, staring at Kenzie Detweiler, who wore nothing but a towel.

 

About the Author

 

Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back.  Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Readers can visit ZAM at her Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Links:

Website: http://www.zamaxfield.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorZ.A.Maxfield
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ZAMaxfield

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zamaxfield/?hl=en
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2738500.Z_A_Maxfield

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fVPEzw

Giveaway: Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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S.A. Stovall on Writing,Influences, and her new release Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) (guest interview)

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Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall
DSP Publication

Cover art: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:   DSP PublicationsAmazon  

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to  have S.A. Stovall here today answering questions about Vice Enforcer, the sequel to Vice City, both highly recommended novels here at our blog.  Welcome, S.A.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with  S.A. Stovall

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Definitely. When I was younger, I read all sorts of sci-fi and fantasy. I couldn’t get enough of them. I love anti-hero characters (moral ambiguity fascinates me) and all of that has somehow filtered into my writing.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

When I was younger, I loved Robert A. Heinlein. I hope I can write great works of science fiction like him one day. I loved his worlds, and his characters. Today I love Stephen King—not because I treasure all his books (I actually dislike quite a few) but because he has so many books that people typically like at least one. I want to be a writer who writers so prolifically that most people say, “Yeah, I’ve heard of her and like this one book…”

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why? 

Well, VICE CITY was my first published novel, so it’ll always have a special place in my heart. However, I think my favorite stories are always my science fiction ones. I don’t know what it is, but I love futuristic space settings. They’re amazing.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

 I find hard work, the desire for truth, and logic all interesting traits in an individual. Most of my characters have at least one of these (maybe all three). Typically side characters meant to cause the main character grief have none of them—those are the characters I love to hate.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?

 Oh, yes. I’m working on an epic fantasy novel right now. I love the book, but the middle got me stalled for a bit—sometimes with large casts of characters it’s hard to weave them all seamlessly together. I can’t wait to share it with the world now that I’ve crossed the hurdle, but it was in limbo for a long time.

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Yeah, I did use a book to help me with a break up. Basically, the entire story has hints and tidbits to all the best parts of the relationship. The novel was a romanticized version of what a perfect relationship could be if it all worked out. It really helped me understand what went wrong, and now I’ll always have this book to remind me.

What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

  The wildest scene I’ve ever imaged was a girl cutting her own heart out to replace it with the still-beating heart of an ancient god.

And yes, it did make it into the story!

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I write to tell good stories. I love to entertain. The second reason I write, is to highlight the awesomeness of humanity. I love heroes who overcome—or villains who realize life is so much better when celebrated. Sometimes, in science fiction, I write about interesting scientific concepts, but that comes after the good story and awesome heroes.

What’s next for you as a writer?

Tons. I have a WWI fantasy coming out, an MMA romance, and a science fiction story set on a corrupt space station. So many stories—I can’t wait until they’re all released! Trust me. I’ll have plenty for everyone in the future, and hopefully everyone enjoys!

Release of VICE ENFORCER (Vice City #2)

Blurb

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.

Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.

Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.

The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.

But he’s not going down without a fight.

About the Author

S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.

As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.

You can contact her at the following addresses.

Social Media

Twitter: @GameOverStation

Website: https://sastovallauthor.com/

Awards

Vice City Rainbow Award Winner

Reviews

“To say the characterization was good would be like saying I love reading. It’s a gross understatement… Overall, I loved every inch of it.”

– Divine Magazine

“The noir setting absolutely gripped me with stark details. As a lover of crime fiction, I highly recommend this book in what will hopefully be a very long and satisfying series.”

– The Novel Approach Reviews

Love a Mystery with Your Romance? Check out ‘My Man Walter’ by J.S. Cook (guest post )

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My Man Walter-build front

My Man Walter by J.S. Cook

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist Catt Ford
Goodreads Link
R
elease Day February 6, 2016

Purchase Link  Dreamspinner eBook

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have J.S. Scott here today to share a little bit about her latest novel, My Man Walter.  Welcome, J.S., to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Why a butler?

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An Inside Look At ‘My Man Walter’ by J.S. Cook

In 1981, the idea of becoming a butler was about as reasonable as deciding to set up housekeeping on the moon. Having a butler was no longer in fashion; more and more, the wealthy and titled of society were dispensing with personal servants in favor of contract firms. It became more practical to call Molly Maid when someone vomited a gallon of pinot gris onto your white Aubusson during a dinner party. Becoming a butler—that is to say, devoting your life to domestic service and cleaning up other people’s messes—was no longer seen as a viable occupation. The art of being a butler was on the verge of being lost.

That same year Ivor Spencer opened a school for “butler administrators and personal assistants” in London, offering proper training to those who aspired to the position of major-domo in some noble or wealthy household. This signaled a renaissance in household management and ushered in an era of respect for the butler’s profession. To be a butler meant one was a respected household manager, the overseer, the one who got things running and kept them that way. It took a great deal of skill and astonishing powers of organization, especially if the household was a large one, with many family members, and other household staff, for whom the butler would be responsible.

In my novel My Man Walter, New York Times reporter Walter Godfrey is in trouble with the mafia. He needs somewhere to hide until the nasty repercussions of his newspaper exposés blow over. Enter NYPD detective Brian Schrade. Like Walter, Schrade has been fighting the mafia’s various incursions into virgin territory with a growing sense of unease. Unlike Walter, Schrade doesn’t have a price on his head, but he does have Alec Pratt, police informant extraordinaire and, in a strange twist of circumstances, Walter’s personal bodyguard. Schrade decides to stash Walter away, where the mob can’t get at him: the palatial Long Island mansion of billionaire inventor Chase Gordon. Walter will pretend to be the new under-butler, taking over some of the duties from Chase’s caustic English butler, Juliet Lavish. Juliet doesn’t take to Walter right away. In fact, she thinks he’s little better than an annoyance, and she wants him gone. Walter can’t cook, doesn’t know one end of a vacuum cleaner from the other, and is all thumbs when it comes to handling delicate heirloom china.

Walter initially thinks he’ll put his time to good use by writing a series of newspaper articles about Chase, “a shallow, facile playboy who only cared where his next thrill was coming from.” Once he meets Chase, however, his opinion does a complete 180-degree turn:

He was about Walter’s own age, dark-haired and dark-eyed, handsome…. God, he was handsome. He wore his hair combed straight back over his head, the better to showcase his large brown eyes with their thick lashes. His chin was faintly stubbled with perhaps a day’s worth of beard, but it didn’t look messy, not on him. His face was lean, with high cheekbones and a certain suppleness around the mouth; Walter had seen his face in so many photographs, splashed on the front pages of newspapers and all over social media, but no photograph did him justice. He was beautiful. He was more beautiful in person than any man had a right to be.

Chase’s loneliness touches something in Walter, and before long the two become close. When Walter realizes he may be falling for Chase, however, he hesitates. Having lost his partner during the 9-11 attacks, Walter is reluctant to allow anyone into his heart—until Chase is kidnapped on a routine trip to Honduras, and held for ransom. Unable to do anything but wait by the phone, Walter draws on the strength of the people around him, hoping against hope that Chase will come back to him alive.

My Man Walter Blurb

Billionaire inventor Chase Gordon has just turned forty—and everything in his ordered little world is going to hell in an Hermès bag.My Man Walter-build front His acerbic English butler Juliet Lavish has decided to retire. The humanitarian church founded by his late parents has suddenly gone broke—in the middle of the jungle—in Honduras. Lastly, NYPD detective Brian Schrade wants to use Chase’s palatial mansion to hide Walter Godfrey, a newspaper reporter who might know something about a recent rash of mob-related business deals. Part of the deal is the conniving, misanthropic Alec Pratt, son of a local newspaper mogul and unapologetic police informant who just might have a teensy weensy crush on Brian Schrade.

But Walter isn’t safe, not at Chase’s residence or anywhere else. His too-frequent forays into the city—against Brian Schrade’s advice—make him a target, and his strong attraction to Chase Gordon is setting him up for some serious heartbreak. When Chase goes to Honduras to investigate the state of his family’s failing fortunes, he adds another trouble to the long list: he’s been set up for kidnapping.

 

About the Author

JSCook

J.S. Cook was born in a tiny fishing village on the seacoast of Newfoundland. Her love of writing manifested itself early when her mother, impressed with the quality of a school assignment she’d written, sent it to the editor of the local paper – who published it. Since then she has written novels, short stories, novellas, plays, radio scripts and some really, really bad poetry. She has worked as a housekeeper, nanny, secretary, publisher, parliamentary editor and a university lecturer, although this last convinced her never to step foot inside a classroom again. She holds a B.A. (Honors) and an M.A. in English Language and Literature, and a B.Ed in post-secondary education. She loves walking and once spent six hours walking the streets of Dublin, Ireland. She maintains she wasn’t lost, just “looking around”. She makes her home in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with her husband of 27 years and her spoiled rotten ‘dogter’, Lola, who always gets her own way.

You can find her at:
amazon.com/author/joannesopercook
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009515087900
twitter.com/jsopercook

Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7372

Review: Odd Man Out by Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows, Laura Harner , and T.A. Webb

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Odd Man Out 2013 Finale coverChance Dumont. Marcus Prater. Zachary Carmichael. Wick Templeton.  These four men have considered each other brothers, family by choice instead of by blood.  They thought they knew everything about one another and they have been through the worst of times with each other.  Or so they thought.

Now Wick has disappeared and won’t return their phone calls. And the remaining men are left feeling betrayed and angry over Wick’s absence and the events that caused it.  Then the Twins, brothers from Wick’s past, turn up dead, killed in the same manner as other gay young men recently.  The man they thought had been arrested for the previous torture and deaths of gay youth is out of prison.  Could the killer be the same man who killed the Twins?  The killings are starting to look personal, and when a meeting is called at Chances Are, everyone is expected to show, even Wick.

But someone is missing from Chances Are, someone unexpected.  And soon its evident that one of their brother’s has been taken by force.  Is it the killer?  Or someone completely different with their own grudge?  The remaining band of brothers must act and quickly before their family is shattered forever.

Four outstanding series, all on Scattered Thoughts Best of 2013, have been leading up to one explosive finale and Odd Man Out doesn’t disappoint! Each series in the Pulp Friction group (Chances Are, City Knight, Triple Threat, and Wicked’s Way) revolve around a strong, charismatic, and densely layered main character.  In their own series, each man exhibits a magnetism and strength that sometimes push the other characters in their own series into the shadows.  So I was curious as to how the authors would be able to find a balance among such compelling, formidable men.  Would one overshadow the others when combined into one book?  The answer is no, the men and their stories mesh as seamlessly as you would expect given their back stories and history together.

And when by seamlessly, I mean realistically. Because these alphas can spend their time in arguments, shoving, anger and hurt that is the result of letting others close, especially to this almost hermetically sealed off group of men.   As all four series and their main characters collide, each man is in the midst of a personal upheaval caused by the introduction of a new love and partner into their lives.  For some like Ben and Marcus, their acceptance of each other has been relatively easy, or as easy as it can get for a member of this tight-knit brotherhood.  Chance and Rory, Zachary, Archer and Jeremiah too, have also recently settled into a loving partnership.  Only Wick and Ned, well, Wick, is still fighting Ned’s new role in his life in a grudgingly humorous manner expected of Wick Templeton.

So much jostling of roles, so many new men to accept within the tight ranks of family. And it’s not just the original members but Ben, Rory, and Jeremiah who have formed bonds to each other.  I love that as much attention has been paid to the links forming between the secondary characters as it has been to the main ones.  Each author has kept all the threads of their series taut while weaving them into the other stories and the series finale.  It is a testament to how well this group of authors know and like each other that their characters play so nicely and believably with each other.

Each man has some huge issues to work through as they race to save one of their own.  And once again, these problems carry with them substantial emotional baggage that each man must examine before the somewhat broken bonds can be reformed between Wick and Zachary, Chance, and Marcus.  The anger and hurt these men carry because of Wick’s actions resonate through each conversation and scene.  It’s powerful, its authentic and we get it because we have come to believe in these characters and their love for each other.  So when they break trust with each other, we feel the anguish as powerfully as they do.  The four authors have presented the readers with four rock solid characters and made them real and their stories compelling.  How can we not feel as they do?

There is also plenty of anxiety and anticipation to go with the white knuckle suspense of Odd Man Out.  As the authors build momentum and suspense into the search for the missing man, we “hear” the thoughts of the captured man and his tormentor interspersed with scenes of the others gathering clues to help them pinpoint who and where their brother has been taken.  It’s a heart pounding, pulse racing ride and you will be on the edge of your seat every step of the investigation and hunt.

I won’t give anything away but there are moments of humor and funny asides to go with the thrills scattered throughout this finale.  Sometimes it used to alleviate the headache inducing tension that is building, other times it  illuminates a man’s character, a means of hiding one’s true emotions behind a facade.  Odd Man Out is really such a rollercoaster ride of emotions, events and turbulent relationships, a true E ticket (for those who remember them).

I loved this story and all the series connected to it.  I hope this doesn’t mean we have seen the last of Wick Templeton, Chance Dumont, Marcus Prater and Zachary Carmichael.  These characters pack a punch whenever and wherever they appear, whether they are together or separately.  I have come to love them all and would love to see them again wherever their futures are taking them.  They have plenty of stories to tell and I would love to read them all.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 145 pages
Published December 3rd 2013 by Pulp Friction

The Pulp Friction Series of 2013 are:

Wicked Truths coverWicked’s Way Series by Havan Fellows:

Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #1)
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #2)
Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #3)
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4)
Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Chance In Hell coverChances Are Series by Lee Brazil:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1)
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2)
Fifty, Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are, #3)
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are, #4)
Chance in Hell (Chances Are #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Darkest KNight coverCity Knight Series by T.A. Webb:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)

Duplicity coverTriple Threat Series by Laura Harner:

Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1)
Retribution (Triple Threat #2)
Defiance (Triple Threat, #3)
Crucify (Triple Threat, #4)
Duplicity (Triple Threat #5)
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)