An Alisa Review: Honey and Heat by Rian Durant

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Rating:  2 stars out of 5

 

Linden has only one thing on his mind a few days away from Christmas—his pending university exams. That is, until he meets his neighbor’s’ son who has returned for the holidays. Brice Stevens is gorgeous, but he’s insufferable.

 

It’s Linden’s first love, and he falls hard for Brice, despite Brice’s occasionally aloof and cool behavior. It’s an emotional ride for both of them while Linden takes a crash course in real love and Brice learns to trust in a relationship.

 

This story was not what I expected and at the same time did not work for me.  This is not the sweet holiday romance that the blurb makes it sound like and truthfully isn’t much of a romance at all.  Linden leads a very lonely life, he seems to do his best to stay on the outside of all that goes on around him.  Brice is basically a jerk from the moment they first meet with only one afternoon that he even acts like a decent human being.

 

I am not one to judge against insta-love most the time I love them, but that’s when the characters actually work.  How Linden could fall in love with someone who never treated him decently just didn’t work and Linden’s relationship with Brice and with his “friends” send out so many warning signals that I couldn’t feel it was possible for him to even be in a healthy relationship.  Unfortunately the ending was the only redeeming part of the book to me actually showing the characters seeming to be in stable relationship and real friendships but nothing else in the book seemed to actually lead to that and it seemed out of place.

 

I love the cover art by Natasha Snow but not sure it’s right for this story.

 

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 160 pages

Published: September 4, 2017 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-947139-80-0

Edition Language: English

A Free Dreamer Review: Golden by R L Mosswood

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Harem boy might not be the most appropriate role for someone who’s never really seen the appeal of sex, but Elin’s status as dahabi: golden in a land of tan and brown, has marked him for The Dragon’s service since birth. He’s content enough with his life of uncomplicated, if restrictive, luxury, until an unremarkable chore becomes a case of love at first sight.

Mysterious newcomer Hathar, a roguish “merchant adventurer” from far-off lands, ignites an exploration of Elin’s first taste of physical desire, as well as a desire to experience life beyond the palace. Now, they must find a way to escape before Hathar’s ship departs, stranding them forever in The Dragon’s harem.

I love long books and I absolutely don’t mind if a book has 500 or more pages. So it’s very rare for me to pick up a book with less than 100 pages, because I often feel like there aren’t enough pages for the story to completely unfold. The blurb of “Golden” sounded too good to simply pass up because of its length, though. I’m glad I picked it up but at the same time I had my usual issues with short stories.

The premise of the book is intriguing. The Dragon, the empress of a secluded island, has a harem full of golden men. Every male person with a certain hair and skin colour is sent to her harems. She has several dozen men at her beck and call. Elin is one of them. But unlike the others, he’s only ever visited The Dragon once. He’s never really understood why everybody makes such a big deal out of sex. I thought that was a really interesting feature for a harem boy. Definitely unusual.

I was a bit disappointed at how he immediately felt sexually attracted to Hathar, I must admit. The whole lust at first sight just didn’t really fit my idea of Elin. First he’s repulsed by anything sexual and then he meets Hathar and just like that, he’s no longer disgusted. Instead, he’s all too happy to have sex with him in no time at all. There was no real time for the of them to form an emotional bond that might have justified Elin’s change of mind. They barely knew each other.

The whole plot felt a bit rushed. It all plays out in the span of a few days. Aside from the insta-lust, the romance was a bit rushed too. Within those few days, Hathar and Elin develop deep feelings and fall hard for each other. There was no real development of feelings. A little too close to insta-love for my tastes. It didn’t help that none of the characters had all that much depth. They were a bit underdeveloped.

The world building was seriously lacking. It was practically non-existent, really, and that’s a huge no-go for me.

Having said all that, I did enjoy reading this book. It’s short and sweet and it’s a fun read. It could have been great, I think, if the author’s ideas had had more room to fully evolve.

The cover by Natasha Snow is pretty cool. Love the dragon scales and the fire, though there’s not much of that in the actual book.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 92 pages
Published September 25th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139916
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Alistair Ellis is the proud gardener for beautiful fifteenth-century Whitecott Manor, in England’s West Country. His life changes forever following a gas explosion at the manor, in which his boss—and love of his life—dies. However, his boss hasn’t exactly gone for good and Alistair still finds himself involved in conversations with the deceased.

Circumstances improve when he meets Noah, the handsome dog groomer for the manor’s new owners. Although there are some issues: Noah is already engaged and Alistair suffers from cynophobia—an acute fear of dogs!

Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane is a prime example of a novel that has so many elements to it that they overwhelm the central romance and swamp the characters under a flood of narrative far too heavy for one book to carry.  Honestly, this could be a really adorable romance as it has all the makings.  It could also be a slight cosy mystery that could have been tilted into a murder/mystery story, could have been a suspense/policy tale (lots of that here) and then there’s the paranormal spooky element here with a ghostly ex-lover who hangs about almost the whole time.  And did I say there are dogs here too?  Cute dogs, big dogs….so a doggy tale as well.

It’s as if the author loves all those various genres and when it came to writing this story, couldn’t let go of any of them so she smashed them all together with the result that this story never really flies laden down with its heavy burden of too many themes and exposition.

If you cut everything away to just the romance of Alistair the gardener and Noah the groomer, it’s cute and the ending sweet and heartwarming.  Alistair has to learn to grieve, move on and into a new love.  Done and wonderful.  Even gets to love a pooch!  Perfect.

But there’s stuff about a brothel, and too many characters you couldn’t care less about, and even the ghost gets tiresome after a while.  You want to call for an exorcist and some pruning shears to weed away all the stuff keeping you from Noah, Alistair and the HEA.   I think the word I’m looking for is cumbersome.  Sigh.

So, yes, I really enjoyed parts of this novel.  But at 250 pages,  other parts felt every bit 400 pages long.  I kept thinking, why is Alistair not using his phone, making a vid and calling his beloved employer?  Oh, right because that would mean all those pages would be gone.  Some things just didn’t make any sense to me.  So I’m just not sure I’d recommend this one.  Not unless you’re an absolute fan of the author.

Cover art is glorious.  Love everything about it.  Perfection.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published September 11th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139831
Edition LanguageEnglish

October Reading and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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October Reading

October sees our stores start to fill up with all things geared towards the holidays and I’m not just talking about Halloween.  No sooner does the candy, masks, and Halloween decorations fly off the shelves, then it’s onto Thanksgiving (US and CAN) and then things like Santas, wreaths, reindeer, elves and more start popping up amidst twinkling stars and fake snow.  It’s almost the same with our stories.  Have you noticed that?

There’s some lovely contemporary stories with autumn themes coming out or already released, then a quick plethora of shorts with horror or paranormal storylines and then we start sliding into the other holidays almost imperceptibly.  I do love that we are seeing a wider variety depicted in our holiday stories. I enjoy reading those, learning and diving into other cultures and religions as I do the romances.  How do you all feel about that?

So be on the lookout for books/stories with Halloween, Horror, Witchy time tales, Thanksgiving themes and into the December holidays whatever religion you may or maynot follow.   Especially books with the later.   Write in with them and let’s see who spots the first December holiday story!  Kind of like seeing the first Elf on the Shelf of the season! lol   Winner gets a gift certificate.  This is in addition to our Horror Rec Giveaway below.

Guess what else is quickly approaching NaNoMa in November.  Scratch that onto whatever calendars you keep and know that our writing contest will pop up accordingly.

OK, got all that?  Now don’t forget we are also running our horror story Rec Giveaway.  Look through all your stories and see which if any fit the profile below.  Or give us new ones you’re reading or on your TBR list.  We really want to know what’s out there and help our our fellow lovers of Horror and/or Paranormal M/M fiction.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Horror Story Recs Giveaway

We will run this all month long in order to take advantage of all the new scary books coming out this month as well.  So leave a comment/rec, along with your email address where you can be reached if chosen.  We will have more than one winner for our gift certificates.  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Also acceptable are spooky paranormal stories!  Ghostly hauntings!  Witchy doings!  You get the idea!  Even throw in a zombie or two!  Contest ends October 28 at midnight.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, October 8:

  • October Reading and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, October 9:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR Finding Home by Garrett Leigh
  • Release  Blitz for His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington
  • Tara Lain’s “High Balls” Blog Tour and Giveaway
  • A Caryn Review: Bad Boy’s Bard (Fae Out of Water, #3) by E.J. Russell
  • A Julia Review: Her Hometown Girl by Lorelie Brown
  • A MelanieM Review: Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane

Tuesday, October 10:

  • DSP Publications Promo J. Scott Coatsworth on The Stark Divide
  • Book Blast for Men of Crooked Bend Series by Taylor Rylan
  • A Kai Review: One Call Away by Felice Stevens
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Stark Divide (Liminal Sky #1) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A MelanieM Review: Psycho (Brawlers, #2) by J.M. Dabney
  • An Alisa Review: Good Things by April Kelley

Wednesday, October 11:

  • Release Blitz Tour for We Met In Death by KA Merikan
  • Dreamspinner Promo Tere Michaels on The Heir Apparent
  • Book Blitz for Silvia Violet ‘s The Past Comes Home
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Hexslayer (Hexworld #3) by Jordan L. Hawk
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Breakfast at Midnight by Kim Dias
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Unbroken Hearts (Unbreak My Heart #2) by K-lee Klein

Thursday, October 12:

  • Release Blitz Tour for Bitten by Desire (Regent’s Park Pack #3) by Annabelle Jacobs
  • Release Day Blitz for Love By Number by DJ Jamison
  • RIPTIDE Publishing Tour and Giveaway: Sightlines by Santino Hassell
  • A Stella Review: The Shipwreck (Lavender Shores #4) by Rosalind Abel
  • A MelanieM Review: Bull (Brawlers, #3) by J.M. Dabney
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Covet by Yolande Kleinn

Friday, October 13:

  • Review Tour – Amy Aislin – Picture Winter
  • Dreamspinner Press Tour for Unbroken Hearts (Unbreak My Heart #2) by K-lee Klein
  • Dreamspinner Dreamspun Desires Promo Sean Michael
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Taming the Beast by Andrew Grey
  • A MelanieM Review: Hunter (Brawlers, #4) by J.M. Dabney
  • An Alisa Audiobook Review: Afraid to Fly by LA Witt and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Review: Picture Winter by Amy Aislin

Saturday, October 14:

  • Release Blitz for Addison Albright’s Vows 1 & 2
  • A MelanieM Recent Release Review: Tender with a Twist (Rainbow Cove #2) by Annabeth Albert

A MelanieM Review: Calloway by Thad J.

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Welcome to the Township of Calloway! Home of the world-famous Daddy Cains’ Foods Company, a staple for the local community.

No one knows this better than James (Jimmy) Cain, heir to the family business, and his father’s pride and joy. With his limitless resources and a family that is always there for him, his life could not be more perfect. But that changes when he meets Benjamin Rei.

A determined and intelligent man, Benjamin is a junior acquisitions officers eager to close his first major purchase. His company has set Daddy Cains’ between its crosshairs and will stop at nothing to get it. Although Benjamin has a simple enough task, people and forces outside of his control will test the limits of just how far he is willing to go to make it to the top.

First of all, I’m well-versed in Southern small town living, having parents who both grew up in small southern towns and scads of relatives (whole States worth) who never left and send invitations to family reunions regularly. So I always look forward to books that have that theme or location going for them.  Calloway certainly seems to fit the bill.

However, don’t go looking for this to be a romance, as it’s not really.  More like a family drama, southern style.  In Calloway, author Thad J. lays down his foundation of town history, complicated intertwined relationships going back decades (or further), current explosive family dynamics, and the power struggle going on for control of the world-famous Daddy Cains’ Foods Company.  If that sounds like a lot of exposition, it is.   Calloway is crammed full, so much at times you might just need a notepad to keep all the players straight.

It helps that the dialog is lively, the characters interesting… like James (Jimmy) Cain who is both constant sexdog and crafty businessman, ditto his father.  However, I found Benjamin less than charming.  I suspect I’m supposed to like him and connect more with him as an outsider, however, given my background, I saw him more as an interloper and his acts self serving or worse.  No matter where I was in the story, my vision of Ben never really changed, that includes the ending.

There are many twists and turns here, some really neat ones, some you see coming.  And the end is, depending upon how you look at it either a nonexistent or a total cliffhanger, which is my way of saying you have no idea of how it ends.  Not my favorite here or elsewhere and it brought the rating down.

If you’re a fan of southern literature, snappy dialog and surprise twists, Calloway might be the book for you.  Just  don’t way I didn’t warn you about the ending.

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow.  I like the cover.  BBQ contests and pop.  Very appealing.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 271 pages
Published July 10th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN13 9781947139404
Edition Language English

Goodbye September, Hello October! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Goodbye September, Hello October!

October is here, one of my favorite months!  Time for pumpkins, and hauntings, a thinning of veils, and perhaps of things that go bump in the night!  It’s a time for owls to be hooting as they sound out territories and mates, leaves to begin their spectacular autumnal show, and the plaintive notes of geese high above calling as they migrate south to warmer climes and more welcoming waters.  I’m not alone.  There are so many quotes out there from writers sharing their love of fall and this particular month, including L.M. Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables) who wrote:

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”.

I’m totally in agreement.

It’s also a time where authors and publishers start to release books and anthologies with a bent towards the paranormal and horror, noting that Halloween and All Hallow’s Eve occurs this month.  So you all know what I’m leading up to….

Yes, several things actually only one of which I’ll bring up this week.

Let’s start with a Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Horror Rec List.  This might be a short one because, tbh,  I don’t read a lot of horror books myself.  Do any of you?  I read one this week and I’m reviewing it.  It’s by one of the few author’s whose stories continually have a horror/paranormal bent to them.  That would be Xavier Axelson.  See what I found on Monday.  So go through your book lists, your Kindles and shelves. See what horror stories you can recommend.  I can’t wait to read what you all come up with!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Horror Story Recs Giveaway

We will run this all month long in order to take advantage of all the new scary books coming out this month as well.  So leave a comment/rec, along with your email address where you can be reached if chosen.  We will have more than one winner for our gift certificates.  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Also acceptable are spooky paranormal stories!  Ghostly hauntings!  Witchy doings!  You get the idea!  Even throw in a zombie or two!  Contest ends October 28 at midnight.

✒︎Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is looking for reviewers.  If you would like to review for us, please contact us at scatteredthoughtsandroguewords@gmail.com.  Let’s talk!

 

✒︎And finally, in case you didn’t see our post.  Author B.A. Tortuga needs our help.  She’s very ill and needs our assistance.   There’s a Go Fund Me page started to help with her mounting medical costs.  For the full details, visit the link here.

 

Now for our first week in October, this is what we have for you.  Happy Reading!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, October 1 🎃 🌰

  • Goodbye September, Hello October!
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Release Blitz for Elle Keaton’s As Sure As The Sun (Accidental Roots #4)
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Dragon’s Hoard by M.A. Church
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: ​The Bunny and the Billionaire by Louisa Masters

Monday, October 2:

  • Dreamspinner Promo Tara Lain
  • Harmony Ink Promo Julie Aitcheson
  • BLITZ Tender with a Twist by Annabeth Albert
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: The Keeper by Kiernan Kelly
  • A MelanieM Review: Earthly Concerns by Xavier Axelson
  • An Alisa Review: Soul Bonds (Common Powers 1) by Lynn Lorenz
  • An Ali Release Day Review: Model Exposure (Haven Investigations #4) by Lissa Kasey

Tuesday, October 3:

  • BOOK BLAST Sweet Thing by Isobel Starling
  • Review Tour for Tour: PROPHESY by A.E. Via
  • A Lila Review: Prophecy: The King and Alpha Series #1 by AE Via
  • A MelanieM Review: Read My Mind (Under the Empire #1) by Kelly Haworth
  • An Alisa Review: Finding Home by Garrett Leigh

Wednesday, October 4:

  • Dreamspinner Promo : Living in Fast Forward (Radio and the Road) by B.A. Tortuga
  • Tour for Archer Kay Leah’s Blood Borne (The Republic #3)
  • Cover Reveal for Lawless Anthology
  • A MelanieM Review: Deceived by Megan Derr
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Gummy Bears & Grenades (THIRDS #10) by Charlie Cochet
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: High Calls by Tara Lain

Thursday, October 5:

  • Blog Tour – Patrick’s Savior by Nic Starr
  • BLITZ Leaning into Touch by Lane Hayes
  • Cover Reveal: Anna Butler’s The Jackal’s House
  • RIPTIDE TOUR and Giveaway: Read My Mind (Under the Empire #1) by Kelly Haworth
  • A Jeri Review: Rank and File by LA Witt
  • A MelanieM Review: Crave (Brawlers, #1) by J.M. Dabney
  • An Alisa Review: Rush in the Dark (Common Powers 2) by Lynn Lorenz

Friday, October 6:

  • Release Blitz – Amy Aislin’s Picture Winter
  • Release Blitz – Changing On The Fly Anthology- Various Authors
  • RIPTIDE Tour and Giveaway: Five Dares by Eli Easton
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:Living in Fast Forward (Radio and the Road) by B.A. Tortuga
  • A Stella Recent Review: Five Dares by Eli Easton
  • An Alisa Review: Edward Unconditionally (Common Powers 3) by Lynn Lorenz

Saturday, October 7:

  • A MelanieM Review: Calloway by Thad J.

 

 

 

 

 

An Ali Review: A World Apart by Mel Gough

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Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth Georgia’s Police Department—intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.

When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to the Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit-and-run, Ben finds himself surprisingly intrigued by the man. He quickly establishes Donnie’s innocence but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.
I went into this rather excitedly as hurt/comfort is one of my favorite tropes.  Unfortunately there were many things about this book that did not work for me.  First off the language of the story is really off.  It’s set in the US south but the author is from the UK.  The story ended up being a hodge podge of what she thinks the South sounds like (insert all the stereotypes you can think of) and then throw in a bunch of British words like “wanker, poof, etc).  There was one character who was a British expat but it just didn’t make sense to me that the other characters would talk like this.  
 
My next issue was that it was insta-love.  I had a hard time buying this.  These are two very different men and they have a lot of issues to work through and I just couldn’t see what attracted them to each other and why it would happen so fast.  I found the relationship completely unbelievable and I was not invested in it at all.
 
My last issue was that there was too much going on.  There were too many issues/subjects/topics to count.  I wish the author would have just focused on one or two and developed those more.  This was one of those “everything but the kitchen sink thrown in” books and those are always pet peeves.  
 
Unfortunately nothing about this book really worked for me.  I did not enjoy it and will not be rushing out to try anything else by this author.  There are so content warning tags on this story so please note those if you are going to check this out.
 
Cover:  This cover was done by Natasha Snow and I think it is nicely done and eye catching.
Book Details:
book
Published September 18th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139886
Edition LanguageEnglish

Author Jere’ M. Fishback on Writing, Books and their latest release ‘On the Way to San Jose’ (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  On the Way to San Jose

Author: Jere’ M. Fishback

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 25, 2017

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 53900

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, College, bi, gay, contemporary, road trip

Add to Goodreads

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Jere’ M. Fishback

Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

I wrote my first novel, Josef Jaeger, in 2004-2005. I subbed it to agents and publishers for about a year with no success. I let it sit for about a year. Then I re-wrote the entire book, nearly 100,000 words. The first time I subbed it to a publisher they bought it. So, sometimes stewing helps.

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

The characters and events taking place in a story must be genuine and believable. All of my main characters are flawed, without exception. And since I don’t write fantasy, I want to be sure that the story reads like real life. No one ever gets exactly what they want, and they have to work hard at finding love and happiness.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

Don’t expect to sell your first book to an agent or publisher right out of the box. It takes a great deal of perseverance to break into the publishing business, especially if you don’t write spy novels, murder mysteries, legal thrillers or romance for heterosexual women.

What did you want to become when you were a kid?

As soon as I saw the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird, at age twelve, I knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer like Atticus Finch. And that’s exactly what I became. I tried civil cases for over twenty years.

Did you ever think you would be unable to finish your first novel?

Yes. Whenever I’m writing a novel I hit a point about 60% through the story where I hit a brick wall. It happens every time. I don’t know where I want the story to go and it’s frustrating, But I have learned I just have to sit at the keyboard and write and eventually the path to a satisfying conclusion opens up.

Synopsis

Terrence, a socially inept clarinetist whose driver’s license is suspended, needs his panel van driven from Orlando to San Jose, where he plans to start a new life. Levi’s a Stanford University student with Asperger’s Syndrome who answers Terrence’s Internet drive-away listing.

The two start out as strangers, but as their journey westward progresses a friendship is kindled, one that will change both boys’ lives in profound ways.

Excerpt

On the Way to San Jose
Jere’ M. Fishback © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Levi McKane studied an Internet drive-away listing:

Need vehicle driven from Orlando to San Jose, CA. We can split the gas. I want to leave ASAP.

The listing provided a phone number.

Levi was twenty with an athletic build, cobalt eyes, and sandy hair that grew to his shoulders. He would start his third year at Stanford University in two weeks. He’d earned himself a full academic scholarship to the California school after graduating second in his class from Merritt Island High in Brevard County, Florida two years before.

But his life was not perfect.

When Levi was four years old, a child development specialist diagnosed him with a mild form of Asperger’s Syndrome, a disorder causing difficulties in social interaction. So, despite his high intelligence, Levi had never mastered the art of human communication. At school and home, he said little. He kept to himself and avoided eye contact. Conversations, even with family members, seemed like thickets to Levi. He had no close friends in either Brevard County or California, and until recently had never dated. In truth, he felt the happiest fishing by himself on his parents’ dock with a six-pack of beer at his side.

“Leave him alone,” his dad must have told Levi’s mother a thousand times. “It won’t be long before he figures himself out.”

Over summer break from Stanford, Levi had saved up three thousand dollars while working at his dad’s auto repair business on Merritt Island. He could have flown to California if he chose to, but didn’t want to waste part of his summer earnings on airfare, not with the problem he faced.

He’d met a girl named Taylor back in June. She waited tables at a beachfront grill that Levi sometimes patronized after surfing at the Cocoa Beach Pier. Taylor wasn’t the subtle type; right away she let Levi know she liked him. And Levi, being a socially artless boy, let her take him down a path he hadn’t walked before. One thing led to another, and now Taylor was pregnant.

While he studied his computer screen, Levi thought of the phone call he’d received from Taylor a month before: “As of yesterday, I was late on my period two weeks. I knew something was wrong, so I bought a testing kit, and now it’s for certain. What’ll we do?”

“We?” Levi said. “Are you even sure it’s mine?”

“Positive, asshole.

They discussed abortion. Taylor wasn’t inclined, as she was Catholic. Then they discussed marriage. Levi wasn’t inclined, as he was due back at Stanford. And though he didn’t tell her so, Taylor wasn’t exactly someone he’d want to share life with. A girl of limited intellect and shrill voice, she was rough around the edges, and Levi knew she’d wear the pants in whatever marriage she made—a union he wanted no part of.

So, the pregnancy floated in limbo.

Levi studied the Internet offer again. He had drive-away experience. At the end of last school year, he’d driven a retiree’s Crown Victoria from San Francisco to St. Petersburg. The old guy even kicked in two hundred bucks for gasoline. Levi made the cross-country trip in five days and delivered the car to the owner’s Florida condo where Levi’s mom picked him up and drove him to Florida’s east coast.

Making the three thousand mile trip by himself had not bothered him. He liked listening to the Crown Vic’s radio while traversing the never-ending brownness of southern Arizona and New Mexico, and then the ceaseless hill country of west Texas. The whole experience made him feel like the characters in one of his favorite books, On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

Now, seated at his parents’ kitchen table, Levi swung his gaze to a pair of double-hung windows with a view of the Indian River. He scratched his chin stubble while watching a shrimp boat cruise past his family’s dock, likely headed to Sebastian Inlet. The boat’s gauzy nets fluttered like dragonfly wings. Sunlight reflected in the boat’s wake that ruffled the river’s otherwise glassy surface. The time was close to 9:00 a.m. and already the day was heating up. By noon, the temperature would hit ninety-two; the relative humidity would likely reach a similar level, and Levi was glad he wasn’t working at the garage that day. He could stay in the air-conditioned comfort of his parents’ home.

When Levi punched up the phone number in the drive-away ad, a boy answered on the second ring, his voice a scratchy tenor. He answered Levi’s questions in a rapid-fire cadence, as though he couldn’t get the words out of his mouth fast enough.

“It’s actually a van, not a car.”

“No, it doesn’t have air-conditioning.”

“Yeah, I’d be riding with you to San Jose. I can’t drive; my license is suspended.”

When the boy asked Levi how soon he could make the trip, Levi said, “I can leave the day after tomorrow. I’ll still need to pack my things.”

They talked money.

“The whole trip’s 2,800 miles,” the boy said. “The van gets twenty miles per gallon on the road, so we’ll burn about three hundred dollars’ worth of gas. And then we’ll need to rent motel rooms for at least four or five nights, so I figure—”

“I don’t do motels,” Levi interjected. “I tent camp in parks and cook my own meals on a propane stove; it saves a lot of money.”

The boy was silent for a moment. Then he said, “I guess I could sleep in the van, but I don’t really know how to cook.”

“We can split the cost of food,” Levi said. “I’ll cook and you can clean up afterward; how’s that?”

More silence, this time for about thirty seconds.

“Are you still there?” Levi said.

“Yeah,” the boy replied, “I’m just thinking.”

“About what?”

“Are you somebody I can trust? I mean, I’ve never done this before. How do I know you’re not some kind of psycho?”

Levi drew a breath and then let it out while he fingered the edge of his cell phone. “I go to college in northern California. I can show you my university ID. And I’m a good driver—I’ve never had a ticket—so you don’t have to worry about me. I’ll get you and your van there safely.”

They traded names and e-mail addresses. The boy’s name was Terrence DeVine; he lived in east Orlando, not far from the Orange Blossom Trail.

“I’m moving to San Jose,” he said, “to live with a friend.”

They agreed Levi’s mom could drop him off at Terrence’s house at 9:00 a.m. two days hence, a Thursday. “We can hit the road as soon as I load up my stuff,” Levi said. “We should make it to Alabama by dinnertime.”

“Sounds good,” Terrence said. “I’ll see you then.”

***

Levi and Taylor faced each other in a booth at Taco City in south Cocoa Beach, just a mile from Patrick Air Force Base, where Taylor’s dad served. The restaurant was a Brevard County institution; it served tasty Mexican cuisine and draft beer so cold it numbed the back of your throat on the first swallow. The crowd that night was a mix of surfers, condo dwellers, young families with kids in high chairs, and servicemen sporting crew cuts.

Taylor looked nice enough in her short shorts and a tank top. Her straight brown hair was parted in the middle; it draped her shoulders. Her dark eyes focused on Levi while she toyed with her uneaten burrito.

“This is both our responsibilities,” she said. “I can’t believe you’re running off to California while I’m stuck here with this…situation.”

Levi lowered his gaze and rubbed his lips together while his brain churned. Why hadn’t he used a condom? He’d never even asked Taylor if she was on the pill before they started having sex. He’d just assumed as much, and how stupid was that?

“I’m on scholarship,” he told Taylor. “I can’t just not show up.”

Taylor glanced here and there. Then she said, “You could enroll at UCF’s campus in Cocoa. At least that way you’d be here when the baby arrives in April.”

Levi shook his head. “It’s not going to happen.”

“Why?”

“Stanford’s one of the best schools in the country. I won’t walk away from there just because you’re pregnant.”

Taylor squirmed on her bench while she twirled a strand of her hair around a finger. “You’re dumping this whole thing on me, you know, and it’s not fair.”

Levi wasn’t in the mood to argue, so he didn’t respond to Taylor’s last remark. Instead, he told her, “I’m leaving tomorrow, but I’ll call you from the road Friday night. Think again about an abortion; I’ll pay half.”

Taylor didn’t say anything; she only stared out a window at traffic passing on A-1-A.

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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.

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In the Spotlight: Golden by RL Mosswood (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Golden

Author: RL Mosswood

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 25, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 33500

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, LGBT, Romance, fantasy, paranormal, gay, captivity, magic users, mythology, sailors, slave

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Synopsis

Harem boy might not be the most appropriate role for someone who’s never really seen the appeal of sex, but Elin’s status as dahabi: golden in a land of tan and brown, has marked him for The Dragon’s service since birth. He’s content enough with his life of uncomplicated, if restrictive, luxury, until an unremarkable chore becomes a case of love at first sight.

Mysterious newcomer Hathar, a roguish “merchant adventurer” from far-off lands, ignites an exploration of Elin’s first taste of physical desire, as well as a desire to experience life beyond the palace. Now, they must find a way to escape before Hathar’s ship departs, stranding them forever in The Dragon’s harem.

Excerpt

Golden
R.L. Mosswood © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Elin woke in his usual place on the silken pallet between Nikil and Rian. The haram was dark, and the night sky outside the elegant, grated windows was still inky. He wasn’t sure what had roused him. He couldn’t recall a dream, and the room was quiet but for the usual nighttime chorus of the men’s sighs and snores.

A moment later, he realized he could hear something else. Not in the room, but maybe down the hall or from the floor below, he could make out rough, raised voices. A fight? But who would it be at this hour, and in this part of the palace? He propped himself on his elbows a little and scanned the room—all the beds seemed to be filled. The men of the haram knew better than to fight anyway, at least not that kind of fighting, with yelling and tussling. The Dragon didn’t take damage to “her boys” lightly, and anyone caught inflicting that damage was likely to disappear without notice or explanation.

He listened a little longer, trying to make out words or recognize a voice, but whatever was happening was far enough off to make that impossible. Finally, he heard a door slam, and that seemed to be the end of it.

He rolled over and drifted off, still puzzling over what he had heard.

*****

At breakfast the following morning, everything seemed normal. The hall was filled with the groggy murmur of men beginning their day, the rich aroma of coffee, and the tap of wooden cutlery on fine china.

Elin, as usual, sat on his own, thoughtfully chewing a honeyed pastry. Though it was hard to ever be truly alone in the haram, his tendency to quiet contemplation left him out of most of the livelier interactions the other men favored. He wasn’t much for sport, which was one of the main entertainments among his comrades, and his thoughts tended to follow slow and dreamy pathways that didn’t lend themselves to clever banter.

As he was pondering the particular play of light on the grain of the highly polished tabletop, a shadow moved into his peripheral vision. One of the guards, a man named Emun, was approaching. The guards of the haram were in a unique position: They were, in most ways, subordinate to the residents they guarded, so they spoke in polite tones, made requests rather than demands, and would usually do whatever was asked of them. At the same time, they were in charge of keeping the men in their place—generally not a hard job. Who would want to escape the lap of luxury, after all? But it was known that, if pushed, the guards would muster force to keep order, which lent an edge to all their interactions with their charges.

Elin finished his bite and looked up, inviting Emun to address him.

“I’ve got something for you to do after breakfast,” he said. “A new resident who needs some cleaning up.”

“A new resident? To our wing?”

Elin was used to being assigned chores considered beneath the more favored men of the haram, but this was unusual. His wing was inhabited by the twenty-one- to thirty-year-olds. They had all entered the haram as children, as soon as they’d been found by The Dragon’s collectors, or ceded by their parents. New arrivals had trickled in through their younger years, a few carefully hidden late arrivals into their early teens, but it had been nearly a decade since anyone had joined the group Elin had grown up with.

“Yep.” Emun cut his thoughts short. “City guard found him skulking around the palace walls and assumed he was an escapee, but we’ve never seen him before. He’s The Dragon’s now, of course. Pretty rough around the edges though. Weird accent, needs a scrub and a shave. See what you can do. Jurah will have him waiting for you outside the baths after you’re done here.”

“Sure. Okay.” Elin wasn’t sure what else to say. How did a fully grown dahabi end up wandering outside the palace? Did he mean to get caught? He supposed he’d have a chance to answer all his questions soon enough, and returned to his breakfast as Emun returned to his post near the door.

*****

Outside the baths, Jurah was waiting as promised. With the guard was a man who could only be the new addition, looking much worse for wear than Elin had anticipated. His hair was so filthy and matted that Elin was surprised the city guard had known him as dahabi at all, and there was blood caked down his cheek and through his stubble from an angry split on his brow. He hadn’t come voluntarily, then. The sturdy rope binding the man’s wrists only reinforced that fact.

“Emun asked me to come down after breakfast,” he said, not quite ready to volunteer what he’d been asked to do. Maybe Jurah had a different understanding of the matter.

No such luck. “Yeah! I’ve got quite a job for you here,” the guard replied jovially, indicating the filthy man by tugging lightly on his bindings. The “job” in question scowled slightly, but said nothing.

“Does he, uh, need to stay bound like that?” Helping with a bath was one thing, but Elin didn’t think he had it in him to wrestle anyone into submission.

“Oh, no. Our friend here has settled down quite a bit since last night. He’s going to be on his best behavior for you. Right?” With that, Jurah elbowed the other man for a reply.

He looked up from under his brow, directly at Elin as if the guard wasn’t there, startling him with moonlit-silver eyes. “I’m no threat to you. There was just a…misunderstanding with these other gentlemen earlier, and they don’t quickly forget.”

Elin found, thankfully, that he believed the man. “Let him go then. I can’t get him cleaned up with his hands tied together.”

The guard did so and then hesitated a moment, as if unsure what do to next. “Would you like me to come in there…with you?” The guards usually gave the men of the haram their privacy in the baths—it was their job to protect, not to ogle—but Jurah clearly didn’t feel the same faith in the stranger’s intentions that Elin did.

Elin looked again into the strange, pale eyes. Seeing no malice there, he said, “We’ll be fine. You can watch the door to ensure a little privacy for our new guest, and I’ll call out if I have any need of you.”

Jurah looked uncertain, but released the man, clearly feeling himself on the subordinate end of the equation in this interaction.

Elin stepped forward and opened the door to the baths, gesturing for the man to follow. “It’s just a bath, really,” he said to the skeptical Jurah as he closed the door behind them.

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Meet the Author

RL Mosswood lurks in the depths of the Pacific Northwest rainforest, where they dabble in queer fiction in an attempt to add a little magic to their otherwise mundane existence.

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A Free Dreamer Review: Trans Liberty Riot Brigade (Brigade #1) by L.M. Pierce

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

How do you fight for who you are, when the government controls what you are?

Andi knows being born an intersex “Transgressor” and then choosing to stay that way, can have lethal consequences. After all, surgical assignment is mandated by law. But she ain’t going to spend her life hiding from the Society, hooked on Flow, and wanking tourists just to make a few bucks. She’s a member of the Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, an underground faction of Transgressors resisting the government’s war on their illegal genitalia.

But it’s not enough to tag their messages on shithouse walls and sniff down the next high. The government has found their headquarters, decimated their ranks, and they’re crushing the resistance. Though Andi might be nothing but a junktard, she embarks on a desperate dash to stay alive and send a call for help before they’re all killed—or worse, surgically assigned.

Andi, together with Brigade leader Elenbar, must get beyond the communications block preventing all radio transmission, which means crossing the seaboard Wall barricading the United Free States borders. It’s designed to keep enemies out and the citizens in, but amid increasing earthquakes and deadly pursuit, Andi will discover there’s a far more dangerous secret hidden deep within the Wall itself.

I’ve recently developed an interest for Science Fiction with non-binary protagonists, so when I saw the blurb for “Trans Liberty Riot Brigade” I just had to read the book. Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The biggest problem for me was the language. This book is written in dialect all the way through and the author apparently came up with a bunch of new slang words too. At times, it felt like there was a real language barrier for me. There were some characters I didn’t understand at all because of their extreme dialect. Even when I did understand what was being said, it was just extremely jarring.

Maybe it’s because of the language barrier, but for a large part of the book I was simply confused. There was barely any world building or back story for the most part. There was a little bit of a history lesson toward the end, but that wasn’t nearly enough to answer all my questions.

Then there was Andi. I never did warm up to her. She never seemed to actually do anything, unless she had no other choice but to act. And even then, she had to be forced by somebody else. Mostly, she was just complaining and wallowing in self-pity.

That brings me to the next issue: pronouns. Everybody makes such a big deal out of having both male and female bits, and yet all “transgressors” always used female pronouns. It just didn’t ring true to me.

I did like where the story seemed to go toward the end. But it took a long time to get there and the plot was a bit all over the place.

You should be aware that this is a piece of literary/genre fiction. As such, there was barely a hint of romance. Personally, I didn’t mind that one bit. I don’t always need romance and love in my books. The book also has some pretty graphic scenes of drug use. Our MC is a junkie. Also, there are some pretty gory scenes. The gore was a tad too much for me at times, tbh.

This is part one of a new series. While I am sort of interested how this story will continue, I definitely won’t read the rest of the series. The slang was just too thick for me and I formed no real emotional connections to any of the characters. I liked the idea behing “Trans Liberty Riot Brigade”, but I was mostly disappointed by how the book actually turned out. It just wasn’t for me.

The cover by Natasha Snow is lovely. It’s definitely an eye-catcher.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published July 17th 2017 by NineStar Press
ASINB073DPB1PZ
Edition LanguageEnglish