A MelanieM Review: Age Is Just A Number: A Wayward Ink Publishing Anthology


Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Age is Just a Number AnthologyThere’s something to be said for life experience, a little gray at the temple…

And then there is the appeal of youth.

When it comes to what the heart wants, Age Is Just A Number.

I love anthologies.  Its a wonderful way to find new authors, pick up and read a quick story or two in a trope you enjoy.  They can be a smorgasbord of finds, and I always find it fascinating on how the editors lay out the stories contained inside.  I don’t always agree with their lineup.  For me, I think you should lead with one of the strongest stories in the group.  Pull the reader into your overall topic with the strength of that particular author’s writing and depth of story, no matter the length.

For me that didn’t happen here and that weak beginning proved somewhat disconnecting for the rest of the collection.

There are some fine stories here, and the editors and Wayward Ink Publishing ended the anthology with a strong finish with one of the best of Age is Just A Number.  Everything in between is a bit of a mixed bag.  Some so so, some  good, some terrific.

I think May/December romances can be an interesting trope to explore.  How do the people involved overcome the age differences involved?  Because a span of age means a big difference in cultural references, generation speak, outlook, ideologies and more.  For an author to get two frames of references across while making those individuals real, their relationship believable and one we want to see happen (instead of one we find squeamish) can be a tough obstacle, let alone in a short story. That some authors succeeded here is wonderful.

TWENTY LIGHT YEARS BETWEEN US by Eric Gober  – 2 stars out of 5

An alien encounter…
An unfortunate misstep…
A lightning fast journey through space…
The laws of physics are about to wreak havoc on Walt and Michael’s May-December love.

I found this to be the least effective story of the collection.  More a group of researched items from the 60’s tied together by a thin plot line then a real tale.  All I noticed was brand names rather than any real feeling or cohesive story of any depth.  This would not have been my choice for lead in story.

ALL ROADS LEAD WITHIN –  3.5 stars out of 5

Layla Dorine

When James spotted Rogue, a young man for whom wandering is like breathing, half-dozing on the hood of his car, he never expected that warning him about the dangers of sleeping out in the open would lead to a weekly visitor at his door.

I rather liked this dusty tale of love and wandering.  It had a real feel for location and people.  James and Rogue came alive on the trail, visit after visit.  This story kept me going in the anthology.

NORTH PASTURE – 3 stars out of 5

Lily Velden

Upon the death of his grandfather, up and coming Fantasy author, Thomas, returns home.
A place he left four years earlier to get over his unrequited love for Sam Fletcher, his older, straight, and very much married neighbor.
Thomas soon discovers, however, that things are much changed with Sam…

I wanted to like this more and I think I would have as a longer story.  It has so many great elements that need enlarging.  Thomas and Sam, Sam’s misconceptions and son.  But it ends too quickly and left me feeling frustrated over what I thought the story could have been. Unfair? Maybe, but there it is.

AMERICAN MASTER BAKER  – 4 stars out of 5

Dale Cameron Lowry

Baking is a way of life for Joey, a young pastry chef vying for first place in the popular reality show American Master Bakers.
But the judges have been showing favoritism to Terence, an aggravatingly attractive older man with more experience under his belt.
When the competition gets hot, so do the two men. Can a relationship that started in hatred end in love?

Loved this story.  The cooking competition, the different pastries, the intensity and the heat of the kitchen?  Wonderful.  And oh, yes, the sex.

ALPHA AND OMEGA: THE CLAIMING – 4 stars out of 5

Eddy LeFey

A young Omega shifter meets a much older Alpha.
Will Elliot let Issac help him be who he is too afraid to be?

A neat take on the Omega/Alpha combination.  Elliot was a lovely new addition to the Omega shifter take and his predicament was unusual enough and his rescue drama and romantic that it made this story.  I wanted more of both of them.  Great job.

STAND AND DELIVER – 3 stars out of 5

Asta Idonea

Necessity has forced former soldier Captain Keen to assume the occupation of gentleman highwayman. His fortunes take a turn, however, the night he stops the Marquis de Beaumont’s coach and gets more than he bargained for when he utters the words “Stand and deliver!”

 Idonea’s has part of a great m/m historic novel here.  The trouble is that I found it only to be the first half.  I got just enough of the Marquis and Keen to pique my interest in both but not enough to believe in a future for them.  I really needed to see beyond that voyage.  3 stars for great details.

LOST AND FOUND – 4 stars out of 5

Louise Lyons

The loss of his best friend leads Phil to find love.

German Shepherd puppies and love.  Actually loss, and new found found again.  That’s the theme here and it works.  Simple and sweet. Well done.

TRAIL TO LOVE – 2.75 stars out of 5

Kassandra Lea

There’s only one thing Kit Conley likes more than horses and that’s Roman Meadery.
But will the elite rider ever notice him?

I’m a horse person so why didn’t I connect?  I think it was the characters.  They just didn’t seem real.  Nor did the dialog.  Nice horses though.

CRUISING WITH LOVE – 3.75 stars out of 5

Carol Pedroso

Gus is under the thumb of a controlling father. Can meeting his mate give him a reason to make a break for freedom?
Nelson is twice Gus’ age, and very protective of what is his.
What will happen when Gus’ father tries to split them up? And what surprises does Nelson have up his sleeve?

Another nice tale of mixed shifters in love.  Gus and Nelson meet on a voyage and discover they are fated mates.  Pedroso convinces us that these two so very different species are, in fact, fated mates and need to be together.  Gus’ dad is a nasty brute and it all works out in the end.  I would have liked it more if the species made more sense to me.  As it was they were so opposite, that this naturalist’s mind just couldn’t  really go there.   Prey/food. Sorry.

NEAR MISS – 5 stars out of 5

Aimee Brissay

A few seconds, that’s all it takes to make a difference between life and death.
Between killing someone and stopping on time.
But is it enough to turn yourself around when you’ve hit bottom?
Or to make you recognize something good when you have it?

Without a doubt the finest story of the collection.  I’m was happy to see that it ended the Anthology here.  A train operator is traumatized by a woman trying to commit suicide in front of his train.  The resulting PTSD almost derails his life until someone and something shows him the way back up.  Its a remarkable story.  This man’s pain feels immediate and real, his flashbacks horrific, and his life spiraling downward authentic and sad.  That we can rejoice in his recovery and love is just as amazing.  This story is worth the anthology alone.

As I said, anthologies are often a mixed bag but they are a wonderful way to get acquainted with new authors or find stories you might not get anywhere else.  Short stories your bag?  Are some of these authors new to you or favorites of yours?  In either case, Age Is Just A Number: A Wayward Ink Publishing Anthology  might just be the collection of stories for you.  Fantasy, contemporary, supernatural…it has something for everyone.  Pick it up and find the story and author for you.

Cover is not a favorite of mine.  Just too hodgepodge with no hint of anything other than contemporary.

Sales Links

Wayward Ink Publishing | ARe |  Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon DE


Anthology Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Wayward Ink Publishing
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Collars N Cuffs Anthology


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Wayward Ink Publishing Anthology

Collars N CuffsSince this is an anthology, my review is broken up into mini reviews of each section:

Forged in Steel by Layla Dorine
A sculptor named Finn takes in Trace, an eighteen-year-old homeless boy who lost his parents in a train accident. Finn offers him a job as his helper in his workshop. At first, only offering meals and minimum compensation, later he also offers a bed. First it’s in a separate bedroom, but over time, Trace’s submissive side and his attraction to Finn becomes more evident and Finn’s dominant side overrules his decision to keep Trace at arm’s length. The story is told in retrospect from Trace’s POV as Trace has left Finn, unable to forgive him from something we don’t learn until the end of the story. Very well done, this one is 4 stars

Playing it Safe by Aimee Brissay
Paul asks his friend Jackson if he would provide Paul’s sub, Michael, with the night of his dreams: a night where Michael doesn’t have a safe word. Though initially against the idea, Jackson finally decides to do it when Paul agrees to be present to witness the scene and intervene if he sees his sub in trouble. This story seemed to end abruptly. It just ended when the scene was over with no mention of any future for either man, nor was there further mention of the reason Paul chose Jackson to do the scene with Michael rather than doing it himself. The reason had been stated and it would have affected the future, possibly for all three men, but with the story ending so abruptly, I felt lost so this one was only 2 stars.

Room to Play by Lily Velden
This story is about an MM couple who get involved in BDSM without any formal training. Their occasional foray into a scene becomes more frequent until it gets to be too much for the sub and he calls a halt to their play. He needs to have them both list boundaries, learn more about BDSM, and confine playtime to a playroom. This was interesting with plenty of sex scenes, but it was just too short to get involved with the characters. 3 stars

A Touch of Kink by Alina Popescu
This story takes place in Romania where Tudor is awaiting a VIP at the airport. His coworker, Rahu, is along as this is apparently a major VIP, but the flight is delayed so they talk about Tudor’s upcoming birthday and how disappointed he is that his boyfriend, Kahoni, couldn’t make it from Hawaii. They’ve been successfully seeing each other once a month ever since they met in Hawaii six months before. Needless to say, Tudor is shocked when the VIP turns out to be Kahoni and Rahu was in on the surprise. But there’s further surprises in store for Tudor when the kinky gift Rahu gives him turns out to be something Kahoni really loves. The story was good, though a bit unbelievable. 3.5 stars

Let’s Dance in Sin by Kassandra Lea
A fairly short story about an angel who frequently visits Las Vegas, even though he shouldn’t, but he’s smitten by a devil he met there and neither man can seem to get enough of the other. 3 stars

New Love, New Sight by Carol Pedroso
This was a bit longer than the other stories. It takes place on the Earth space station in a BDSM club where an alien being is running through the club shouting Red. Thankfully, Sorl, the dungeon master understands what he’s saying as he grabs the frightened man. He’s from Sorl’s home universe and Sorl can speak his language. Finding out he’s been captured and almost sold into slavery is the first step, but finding out later that he is Sorl’s life mate adds another level to what becomes a sweet romance and D/s pairing. No explicit sex, though lots of warmth and caring. 4 stars

Switch by Eddy LeFey
This was a well-written story about a young man who is finally coming back into the BDSM scene after having been severely injured by his Dom two years before. The man was banned from the local clubs after it was proven that he had so severely hurt his sub, but the damage was done and now Robbie is struggling to step foot in the club. He shows up for his uncle’s birthday party and meets a Dom who happens to be a switch and a former counselor. Daniel is willing to go an extra step toward helping Robbie overcome his fears and in bringing out the dominant side of his cute little switch. When the Dom from the past threatens to upend all the progress he’s made, Robbie learns that he can switch to his stronger nature while still being Daniel’s submissive. 4 stars

Hell Bound by Asta Idonea
This one is a bit longer than the others and is a very interesting story about an angel who visits Amodeaus in Hell to deliver a reprimand. The lust demon has been exceeding his quota each month and Taharial warns him that he must stop. Something about the demon attracts him, however, and when Amodeaus catches on that Taharial would be open to being bound and having sex with him, he goes for it. The visits continue until Taharial is found out by the archangels and Amodeaus has to take steps to save his lover. This was creative, interesting, well-written, and fun so 5 stars for this one.

Averaging all the stories, my rating is 3.5 stars overall. This is a BDSM anthology, however, it is very mild and would be fine for someone who has never read BDSM before.

Cover art by Peculiar Perspectives shows a handsome, bare-chested, inked man holding a chain so it’s a good representation of the contents.

Sales Links:  Wayward Ink Publishing | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

Published June 23rd 2016 by Wayward Ink Publishing
Edition LanguageEnglish

Down Under Author of the Day: Nicki J Markus



STRW down Under Banner sm Hearts


Meet Nicki J Markus!

Mett Nicki J Markus…author, linguist, editor, and so much more. To get to know Australian author Nicki J Markus a little better, she agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within this post.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍Author Bio 1

Nicki J Markus was born in England in 1982, but has lived in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband since 2007. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 and writes under two pen names: Nicki J Markus (M/F) and Asta Idonea (M/M). 

Nicki has worked as an editor and proof-reader since 2012, completing work for several online publishers and indie authors.

When not writing and editing, she enjoys many other pursuits such as: reading, music, theatre, cinema, photography, sketching, and cross stitch. She also has a keen interest in history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel.

Author Contacts

Website: http://www.nickijmarkus.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickiJMarkus
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolamarkus
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/NickiJMarkus
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4567057.Nicki_J_Markus

Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

My currently available works are two M/M short stories in the Wayward Ink Publishing anthologies Stranded and A Likely Story.

Previously, I had two novellas—Day-Walker and Time Keepers—published through Silver Publishing, but they are currently unavailable since the publisher closed its doors. I may look at re-releasing them in the future, perhaps with some changes.

I am a few short weeks away from completing the final edits on my new M/F fantasy-mythology trilogy. I am going to be self-publishing this work and will have more news on that in the next few months.

A Likely Story Anthology coverA Likely Story:

Book Details and Blurb:

Suspend rational thought.Leave logic at the door.Be ready to roll your eyes and pick your jaw up from your lap.

The tales in A Likely Story don’t let truth get in the way of telling a good yarn.

They might push your buttons or make you laugh.They may make you scoff or spit out your coffee.You might even scratch your head in disbelief.Whatever your reaction, the one thing the …more

ebook, 231 pages
Published December 19th 2014 by Wayward Ink Publishing
original titleA Likely Story
edition languageEnglish

Stranded AnthologySTRANDED-Jayscoverdesigns-preview

The boys in this collection of short stories have most definitely been left STRANDED!

They’ve been shipwrecked and abandoned. Marooned and cast away.And left helpless and high and dry.

But you should never underestimate the tenacity of the human heart…


Craving Stains by Alina Popescu
Say Cheese by Michael P. Thomas
Standby by Kim Fielding
The Raider by Asta Idonea
The Buckle by Rob Colton
Ari by Nephylim
Opposites Attract by Lily G. Blunt
Out of Order by Eric Gober
Dating for Deafies by Nikka Michaels
One Snowy Night by Louise Lyons
The Climb by kirifox
Did You Leave Any For Me by Sarah Hayes
Sweetness and Strength by J.N. Olsen

Awaken to the Night coverAwaken To the Night by Nicki J. Markus

Predominantly paranormal and fantasy for M/F, but I also write some contemporary and historical pieces in M/M.



Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Nicki J Markus) is an PDF copy of one of my previously published paranormal/horror short stories: Awaken to the Night. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt word/phrase highlighted in green. Collect all the words/phrases from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

******************************************Author Qand A

• When did you start writing?
I guess you could say I started writing properly, with a view to actually publishing, in 2011. Prior to that, I wrote for my own pleasure and penned a number of fan fics centred on films and television series such as Van Helsing, Red Dwarf, Alias etc.

• Were you a reader as a child?
Absolutely! My mother has a favourite story of how she would ask my younger sister and I want we wanted to do when she had time to play with us. My sister would invariably call for the Barbie dolls, whereas I would always ask to read a book. And that love of reading has stayed with me all my life. By the time I reached my teens, I swapped from modern writers to the classics and devoured Jane Austen, Dickens, Dostoevsky… and then since my twenties I tend to read a mix of classics and new works. I’m not a fan of chick lit or true crime, but otherwise I read from most genres, with a particular focus on literary fiction and paranormal/fantasy.

• Where do you draw inspiration from?
Often from other sources, be it book, film, or theatre. My current work-in-progress is a fantasy trilogy based around Norse mythology. I have a great love of mythology in general and the Norse tales in particular. I had been rereading them this year and they became the stepping stone that led me to imagine the characters and storyline of this series. Obviously things happening in my own life can also play a part, and this fantasy trilogy is no exception—this story has more personal meaning for me than any of my previous works. Quite often an idea takes root in my mind because I’ve watched or read something, and then I’ve begun to wonder what would happen if things in that story were changed or approached from a different angle. That gives you the springboard and a plot and characters grow from there.

• Favourite genres to write in and why?
The majority of my work is paranormal/fantasy. It’s a genre I love to both write and read because of its escapism. Vampires are my favourite supernatural creature, so I always enjoy writing them. I have a great fear of death and growing old, so for me vampirism is the ultimate aspiration! 🙂 I love how in these genres you can explore deep issues under the guise of an amazingly different world full of danger and excitement.

• Title or characters or plot? Which comes first?
Honestly, it depends. With my fantasy trilogy it went characters-plot-title, but with an M/M short story I have just submitted for an anthology call, it was plot-title-characters. It can vary depending on where the initial idea came from. Perhaps I fell in love with a character in a book and wanted to do my own take on something similar; or maybe I was inspired by the plot of a film and had an idea for adapting it into something new.

• Do you have a favourite character that you have written?
Oh yes! Again, from my fantasy trilogy. The trick here is not to reveal too much because his real identity is a secret until partway through Book One. Let’s just say, he’s an anti-hero. He’s mischievous, and a bit of a bad boy, but deep down he cares deeply and is trying to do the right thing, battling his inner demons. I can understand my heroine being in love with him—I’m head over heels for him myself.

• Favourite book/story you have read as an adult
Oh, wow, that’s tough because there are so, so many. In classics, firm favourites are Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and Eugene Onegin by Pushkin (I can read those again and again and love them just as much each time). In more modern works, any of the Saint Germain books by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (so well-written, and a compelling hero), anything by Murakami, and then there are recent books I’ve adored such as Joanne M. Harris’ Gospel of Loki or the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. There are the books you love all your life, and then there are those that really speak to you and mean a lot in the moment you read them because of your personal situation at the time, but perhaps when you go back to them later they don’t have the same impact a second time. To pick just one… sorry, I just can’t do it!

• Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?
Yes and no. I don’t have a set time of day to write—I simply write when I have the freedom to do so—but I do like a particular environment: I prefer to be home alone, sat in my study, and have complete quiet. Usually I love music; just not when I’m writing.

• Do you have a specific writing style?
Not especially. I tend to write in third person, but I have been known to stray into first person from time to time when it feels right for the story. I like descriptive and varied language-use and vocabulary too. I don’t approve of the way some people these days believe language and grammar usage has to be dumbed-down for e-book readers—I really don’t think they are any less intelligent than print readers.

• What’s the hardest part of writing your books?
Letting go! I work as a freelance editor and proof-reader and I find it hard to leave my own prose alone at times. If I wasn’t strict with myself, I’d keep on tweaking sentences forever and nothing would ever get submitted or published.

• If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
I’d like to think I’ve grown as a writer over the last 3-4 years. My first published longer work was a novella called Day-Walker, and although it got decent reviews, looking back now there is a lot I would change. The rights to that work returned to me last year when the publisher it was contracted to closed, and I am giving serious thought to reworking it into a full-length novel because I truly feel I could do more with it now than when I first wrote it. Watch this space!

• If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor/has the biggest influence on you?
I would say Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is a big influence, because I so admire her prose and the way she can describe characters and scenes. She’s certainly who I aspire to be like one day.

• What book are you reading now?
At present, I am reading The Idiot by Dostoevsky and a book on learning to read and write Old Norse.

• What is your favourite AUS/NZ stories and favourite Australian/New Zealand movies?
The first Australian film that struck a chord with me was Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I still love that movie today—it’s both very funny and yet incredibly poignant. More recent, I was very impressed with The Little Death. In terms of Australian writers, I admire Peter Carey and Tim Winton, and I loved the recent novel Burial Rites from new Australian author, Hannah Kent.

• What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?
Here in South Australia, it would be the Barossa Valley. It’s a lovely day out to just mooch around the wineries and enjoy the local food and wine. My husband and I got married at a winery there too, so it has added importance for us because of that.
Going back to my old ‘own country’, I always loved wandering the West End in London. It’s great to live here in Australia, but I do miss London at times—I was always happy there amidst theatre and bookstores.

• What are your current projects?
Well, my fantasy trilogy is just undergoing final edits. I started off looking for a publisher, but then decided to self-publish this one. It’s my first time going that route, so a bit of a learning curve, but I hope to release the three books in a one volume omnibus edition in a few months’ time. Keep an eye on my blog and social media for news on that! Afterwards, I hope to rework and rerelease my previous two novellas, Day-Walker and Time-Keepers. Meanwhile, with my M/M writing, I have submitted two more short stories for anthology calls, and if my works are accepted, they will be published in March and June respectively. After that, I may extend one of them into a follow-up novella as I still feel I have more to say about those characters and their story.