An Alisa Review: Ginger and the Wolf by Kerry McBoyd

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Mark Cross is a junior in college working to pay his way through college while forgetting his troubles by partying and hooking up. He meets Scott and finds himself falling head over heels for a wealthy man who couldn’t be any further from his rural background. The mutual attraction is instant, but Mark, unwilling to put himself in a position where his heart is on the line, finds ways to bring up their upper-crust/working-class differences to torpedo their budding romance.

Scott Nolan feels old, even though he’s just thirty-four. Meeting Mark reinvigorates him and gives him a new sense of purpose. After a series of men who were only interested in his wealth and family background, he finally meets a man who doesn’t care about the family he comes from—in fact, Mark seems ready to blow everything up because he thinks they could never overcome their class differences. Scott must fight to show Mark that he doesn’t care about who has how much money, and what matters above all is that they could build something more together outside the bedroom.

Okay, so this wasn’t a bad story but wasn’t great either.  Scott enjoys spending time with Mark but Mark always tries to find an ulterior motive or negative view since he can’t believe that Scot would want him for him.

Mark is so stubborn, I feel bad that he make Scott feel bad for just being a good guy and not listening.  Scott did jump the gun a bit but he doesn’t overstep by any means.  I thought there was a lot of emphasis on Scott’s family and money but we never saw them and only his everyday life.  I was glad that they were able to work things out because I think they both need someone to lean on at times.

I like the cover art by Natasha Snow it gives a nice visual of Scott.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 27,800 words

Published: September 3, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949340-62-4

Edition Language: English

New Book Release Blitz for A Dance of Water and Air ( Elemental Magicae #1) by Antonia Aquilante (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: A Dance of Water and Air

Series: Elemental Magicae, Book One

Author: Antonia Aquilante

Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC

Release Date: October 1, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 83600

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, fantasy, trans, magic, elements, court intrigue, arranged marriage, friends to lovers

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Edmund is heir to the throne of Thalassa and a wielder of Water magic. Devoted to his kingdom and his duty to it, Edmund can do nothing but acquiesce to an arranged marriage with the queen of a neighboring kingdom. The marriage and the child it is required to produce will seal an alliance between Thalassa and Aither that is vital to Thalassa’s safety, and far more important than Edmund’s personal misgivings.

Arden is the younger brother of Aither’s queen and a wielder of Air magic. Raised in the politics of the court to support his sister’s rule, he understands the alliance is important to Aither, even as he worries about his sister marrying someone she’s never met. When Edmund arrives in Aither to prepare for the wedding, Arden is tasked with helping him settle in at court. As they spend more time together, Edmund and Arden develop a close friendship, then stronger feelings, but with Edmund’s wedding approaching, they must hide their feelings, even from themselves.

When someone tries to assassinate the queen, Edmund is blamed, and Arden rescues him before he can be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. To prevent a war between their kingdoms and protect them from a dangerous enemy, Edmund and Arden will have to discover who wants to pit Aither and Thalassa against each other and mend relations between the two kingdoms as they evade those searching for them—all while finding a way to be together.

Excerpt

The Dance of Water and Air
Antonia Aquilante © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Edmund swam, long limbs slicing through the clear, warm water. His mind quieted in the repetitive motion, in the weightlessness and the comfort of being surrounded by his Element. Everything washed away, leaving him calm and relaxed, the only time he ever was lately.

If only he could stay there.

He imagined it for a moment. Spending his life swimming and sailing. All his time in the soothing embrace of the water, or at the shore or bank, feeling Water’s power, learning to use its magic. It was a lovely dream. A lovely, impossible dream. With that thought, tension—the tension his morning swim had briefly dispelled—came flooding back. He stopped swimming and flipped onto his back, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before letting it out in a long sigh.

The sigh had barely left him when he heard the scrape of a shoe against stone. He bit back another sigh and flipped over again to straighten and tread water in the center of the large pool. His secretary stood on the tiled terrace. Peregrine knew better than anyone that this time was Edmund’s and wouldn’t disturb him unless it was urgent. Disaster or grave injury were top of the list.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning, Highness.” Peregrine would never call him by name when someone else might hear, and Edmund would never try to convince him otherwise. Edmund was far too aware of the dictates of his own position. And far too grateful to have found a friend in Peregrine to quibble overly about how they had to behave in public. “I apologize for disturbing you, sir, but the king has called for you.”

A summons from Father certainly counted as a valid reason to disturb him, especially with the rising tensions between Thalassa and their neighbor, Tycen. It seemed Edmund would be cutting his swim short this morning. He struck out for the terrace where Peregrine waited, swimming with steady but unhurried strokes. He wouldn’t dawdle, but if there had been reason to rush, Peregrine would have said.

Soon enough, he reached the terrace and pulled himself up to sit on the edge. Peregrine handed him a towel. He wiped his face first and stood to strip off his soaking wet swim pants and dry the rest of him. Peregrine wouldn’t care about Edmund’s nudity, and he didn’t worry that someone else would come upon them. The pool he chose for his swims wasn’t the largest of the many on the palace grounds, but it was the most private. The terrace they stood on was the only one that connected to the palace, and it was shaded from view. The rest of the area was screened with trees and shrubbery. The smaller terraces on the side opposite them were even more secluded. He’d spent much time in the pool, which was fed by the same underground spring as the rest of the palace waterways, and on the terraces over the years.

Once Edmund was dry, Peregrine handed him the robe he’d left hanging over the back of a chair when he’d arrived. He’d also left a book there—he’d been far too optimistic about his time when he came down here, apparently. He thanked Peregrine and shrugged into the blue-green silk. It was new, something he hadn’t really needed, but he liked the color against his brown skin and the feel of the smooth, cool silk.

“Any idea what my father needs?” Edmund stepped into his sandals and picked up his book from the table.

“None.”

He raised his eyebrow at Peregrine in surprise. Edmund could always rely on Peregrine for more information than seemed possible about everyone from the maids to the king. He’d long since gotten over any misgivings about Peregrine’s seeming omniscience and begun to rely on it. For Peregrine not to have an inkling of what was brewing… Odd. And slightly disturbing.

“I guess we’ll find out.”

Not immediately, of course. A summons through official channels called for more formality. Edmund couldn’t appear in the king’s presence in nothing but a thin robe and sandals. Peregrine kept pace as Edmund walked to his rooms, informing him of other court news and gossip that he might find interesting or useful as they walked.

Edmund’s rooms were a floor up from the garden pool. A guard stationed near the door jumped to open it for Edmund as he approached. He nodded but didn’t slow as he sailed through the door, Peregrine at his heels. His sandals made soft tapping sounds on the green and white tile of the entryway. His sitting room opened up in front of him, curtains fluttering in the breeze blowing in off the ocean below. He had no time to relax there or even to eat the breakfast that was sure to be laid out in the dining room. Instead, he turned left, taking the short hallway leading to his bedchamber, dressing room, and bathing room.

He went directly to the bathing room. Wide windows let in sunlight over the large tub, empty because he usually bathed after breakfast. There was no time to fill it, let alone soak. He settled for rinsing the salt from his skin with water from the basin and briskly rubbed a towel over his shoulder-length hair. Having it drip all over his clothing while he met with Father just wouldn’t do. When he’d squeezed as much of the water from it as he could, he left the towel and went to the dressing room.

Peregrine was there, laying out clothes.

“That isn’t your job,” Edmund said.

“I’m aware.”

“I can select my own clothing.”

“I’m aware of that as well. Put them on anyway.”

Edmund laughed and did as he was told. Peregrine was only saving him time and knew what would be appropriate for him to wear, considering the meeting with Father and the day ahead. He pulled on undergarments and slim gray pants and dropped a sleeveless white shirt over his head. Peregrine held out a dark teal jacket for him, helping him shrug into the embroidered silk. Edmund murmured his thanks and fastened the jacket over his chest, fingers working quickly over the row of little silver buttons. When he was finished, he stepped into shoes and fastened the silver and aquamarine drop earrings Peregrine had just pulled from their box into his ears. It was the only jewelry Peregrine had chosen, and as he looked in the mirror, Edmund had to admit he was probably right in that. The clothing didn’t need more.

“Thank you,” Edmund said.

“My pleasure, Edmund.”

“Perhaps I should have you dress me every day. You have an eye for it. Much better than anyone else. Do you think you’d prefer it to being my secretary?”

Peregrine sent a stern frown at Edmund. “Funny.”

It was, for any number of reasons. Only one being that Peregrine was frighteningly efficient in his present position and far too good at it to do anything else. In fact, he was far too skilled to be anything except a royal secretary, and it was Edmund’s good fortune to have him.

“Shall we?” Peregrine didn’t mention that Edmund shouldn’t keep Father waiting, but he didn’t have to.

“Yes. Catch me up on any changes to my schedule as we walk.”

Peregrine did so, barely consulting his notebook. Edmund listened carefully as they left his rooms and strode through the palace corridors. His own wing, reserved for the rooms of the royal children, was quiet as it was only occupied by him and Kerenza. His sister would still be abed—she preferred to rise late when she had the opportunity—and he had no appointments that might bring anyone to his office until later in the day. When they passed out of the wing, the entrance marked by a three-tiered fountain decorated in mosaics of blue and green tiles, the corridors became more populated. But everyone gave way for the prince and his secretary, bowing as Edmund passed them.

Father’s office was near the council chambers and other administrative offices in the main block of the palace. He worked sometimes in the small private library attached to his rooms, but all his official meetings took place here. If Edmund had any doubt that today’s summons was serious and formal, it would have been dispelled by the location of the meeting.

Peregrine knocked when they arrived, and a moment later, the door was opened by Father’s secretary, who bowed and stepped aside. Edmund bowed slightly as soon as he entered the room, then walked closer to Father’s desk. Peregrine remained back near the closed door. Father looked up from the papers he was examining to study Edmund with a keen eye. Edmund was sure Father was cataloging every detail of his appearance from his attire to his still damp hair.

Father was dressed formally, as Edmund would expect. His jacket was green, heavily embroidered in gold and white, the color vivid against his dark skin. The circlet of his rank sat on his head amid black curls now streaked with gray. Edmund had not worn his own circlet, deeming it unnecessary for the day he had planned; he hoped he wouldn’t regret that decision. The set of Father’s features caused Edmund’s stomach to churn unpleasantly.

“You called for me, Father?”

“Yes. Come sit down. I need to speak with you.” The seriousness of his tone did nothing to alleviate Edmund’s sudden concern.

Edmund took the chair across from Father’s desk, hoping he properly concealed his anxiety. He’d been trained all his life to mask every emotion, so he’d best be able to. He looked at Father and waited for him to speak.

“As you know, we’ve been pursuing an alliance with Aither,” Father said.

And, of course, Edmund did know, though he hadn’t been involved in the negotiations. Aither sat at their western border. Theirs was generally a friendly border to begin with, trade flowing freely between the two countries, but Father and his council had hoped that the looming threat of Tycen’s aggression might worry Aither’s young queen as much as it had them and would tempt her into an alliance. Edmund hadn’t been informed about the state of the negotiations in some time. Had they gone horribly wrong?

“We’ve come to an agreement with Queen Hollis.”

“You—” Edmund stopped. He’d been so sure Father was going to say just the opposite that he couldn’t believe what he’d heard. “That’s wonderful, Father. Did the final agreement go as you’d hoped?”

“We got what we needed from it.”

“Good.” And yet the relief Edmund should’ve been feeling didn’t come. Father didn’t look as if he’d just concluded a successful negotiation, didn’t look as if he was pleased by the outcome. Or…no, not as if he was displeased, but too serious. “Is something wrong?”

“Not at all. However, the promises of increased trade and mutual protection were not enough on their own to secure the alliance we needed.”

Edmund wasn’t surprised, though he hadn’t been privy to the particulars of what Father wanted, aside from Aither standing with them should Tycen press their aggression. “What did they ask for?”

“Queen Hollis and her advisors required more assurance of our compliance, and truth be told, I wasn’t upset to have more of theirs. They’re Air wielders, so they’re different from us, but Water and Air are compatible. Even if I would have preferred an alliance with no deeper entanglements.”

“Father?” A rush of cold spread through Edmund’s veins.

“You and Queen Hollis will wed with the expectation of a child being born within two years. The alliance will be secured by blood and all the stronger for it.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Shipped (Until You #1) by Karrie Roman

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  Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is book one in a series called Until You. I read Sentinel, the second book, first so I wanted to go back and learn about the other characters. Ryan Lowe is an Aussie actor without a lot of experience, hired to play Sam on a weekly TV show called The Witches’ Hammer, based on a popular book. Lucas Evers is the more experienced actor having been on a previously successful show, hired to play Dominic. They become fast friends but as the show becomes more successful the pressures, especially from fans, mount.

The author does of great job of showing us the different sides of fame. Ryan is from a poor background with an alcoholic father. He doesn’t have a good support system, is increasingly feeling panicked and out of control, and spirals down when on break from filming. His anxiety issues increase throughout the book.

Lucas responds very differently to fame, seeming to thrive. He is married to his best friend Anna. Although, we know this is a convenient arrangement, she is often the voice of reason and so supportive. We’re told Lucas is close to his family, but we don’t get to see it. He is basically supporting his siblings and parents, but when they start to spend more of his money than he is, he finally says something. Then we see the crack in the veneer of family relationships.

A third of the way in, the focus and mood shifts. Ryan has a stalker named Leighton White so studio security and the police get involved. Some of you may be too young to remember the stabbing of Theresa Saldana, or when Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered, but I’m not. I have also lived in Los Angeles and have seen actors get harassed, once for an autograph while in the toilet at a restaurant. I was devastated when Dimebag Darrell got shot. All of the sudden my fun romantic romp got serious. While this is true to life, it took me a moment when used as a plot device to draw Ryan and Lucas closer.

This is told in dual POV, so we see as: each of them pines for the other; get frustrated as they don’t talk; and get dragged along as their mutual attraction (hot, hot, hot) threatens their friendship, their jobs, and their sanity. The author gets us inside their heads and makes us root for them to be together both on and off screen. I really like that they use geekdom and humor to defuse their tensions. By the time they actually get together, it’s handled more maturely than I thought it would be–especially with Ryan’s previous behavior. Although after all the delicious UST, the actual love scenes are just ok for me.

About halfway through, tragedy strikes. There is one heck of a plot twist, and I shouldn’t know what is going to happen, but I do because I read the second book first. Lucas gets nominated for an Oscar for the film he worked on during the season break and his life may be in danger so the studio hires bodyguards from a security company owned by the Krispins. Here is were we meet Ethan and Ben, who will be the MCs of book two. They save Lucas and Ryan from being killed. In the epilogue, we get to see Ryan and Lucas filming on location: out, happy, and in love.

I enjoyed this book and I enjoyed the second book, but my criticism of each is the same: the author only focuses on the two main characters, not fleshing out the secondary characters. Yes, two of them have their own story, but in a book this long, there was plenty of opportunity for us to get to know more about everyone, which would give this way more depth. Still, I enjoyed what was there and would recommend it for an easy read with steamy chemistry.

The cover art by Natasha Snow shows San Francisco where the TV show was filming. The red sky is signaling danger. I am confused over the cover because Ryan is described as Australian, but never Aboriginal nor Black Australian. He is first described as tall, dark, and handsome with dark-brown eyes and later there is a remark about dark skin. Lucas is described as having striking dark skin, shaggy black hair, and green eyes but never identified as African American. Now I am picturing the actors Gary Dourdan (green eyes) or Michael Ealy (although his eyes are blue). We do not get a good enough description of anyone in his family. I never got a sense of either of them as a POC and at this point, I am not sure which model represents which character.

Sales Links:  NineStar PressAmazon
Book Details:
ebook
Published June 18th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608855
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Until You #1

An Ali Review: On Andross Station by J.C. Long

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Hikaru Adachi has come to Andross Station to discover what happened to colleague and fellow Inquisitor Katya. Thane, a tracer, has arrived at the station seeking a bounty on Galen Horn, one of the Unity of Planets’ most wanted men. They will find their paths cross as their interests intersect, and soon they are on a hunt that is more dangerous than they know, for Horn has enlisted some dangerous allies, including one from Thane’s past. If Thane and Hikaru together can’t bring Horn down, he will set in motion a plot that will see the entire station destroyed in an attack of massive proportions.

I thought the premise of this book sounded really good. It turned out to not really be what I was hoping for. It started off strong with the two main characters arriving at the plant , each for their own reasons, and having an immediate connection.

They quickly learn their missions overlap and they join forces to catch the bad guy. I liked the world this was set in and I thought the world building was pretty good. I was interested in it and in all of the different characters, human and alien. I also like both of the MC’s.

As it unfolded though there wasn’t much to it. The mystery plays out easily and there was no real tension or excitement. There was also very little done in regards to the romance between the two MC’s. I thought everything had a bunch of potential but fell flat. I would have loved to see this be a full length novel but as it is the book was just ok for me.

The cover was done by Natasha Snow and I think it’s really well done.  It’s eye catching and fits the story very well.
Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook
Published August 27th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949340334
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is my first book by this author and book two in the series called Until You, but can be read as a standalone. However, I think reading the first book would be best for maximum enjoyment. At the beginning Lucas and Ryan, who are famous from being on a TV show, are giving a press conference to ask for privacy as they take a break from whatever traumatic thing happen to them in the first book. Ethan, their personal bodyguard, is the focus of this book.

Ethan had been living under the radar, but was brought back into the spotlight due to guarding the two stars. There was something about losing his whole family eight years ago due to his brother. Slowly, we get a recap interspersed throughout the book about some sort of trial against his brother who was a serial killer of young girls. None of Ethan’s guilt made sense to me until chapter nine, when we find out Stewart was a cop also. I’m not sure if I would have known that if I read the first book or not. Anyway, the only reasons it matters is that the topic is part of a pivotal scene where Ethan opens up to Ben, and his reluctance to go to the police is more believable. Ben is our other main character. He has been Ethan’s colleague and friend for the last two years, and we know Ben is in love with him. Ben is also friends with Ryan. Lucas and Ryan obviously consider Ethan family.

Ethan has feelings for Ben, who somehow got shot and has been in the hospital. Because he is afraid Ben will be mad that he never trusted him with the truth about his past, Ethan basically quits his job with the agency they work for, takes a new private job as a personal bodyguard to Ryan and Lucas, and disappeared, refusing to visit Ben in the hospital. Ethan knows there is something there between them, but the horrible rejection he faced from family, friends, and colleagues in the past makes him wary of being vulnerable.

Cameron is Ben’s brother, a rescue pilot for the sheriff’s department in the town called Cody, where Ethan’s sister Maggie lives. She finally finds and calls him after eight years because she has cancer and her ex, Peter, took their twin girls Maya and Riley away. She was afraid to go to the police since Peter was raised in a religious cult run by Arnold Piper, who has enough control over the group that a Jonestown scenario is likely. Once the set-up is done, this book is an action adventure with a rescue mission. Things never have a chance to get dull–there is always something happening. While Ethan’s background is in law enforcement, Ben was an army sniper and they lean heavily on his experience to plan the rescue. This gives Ben his chance to show Ethan how good they can be together and Ethan his chance to have the real intimacy he has been craving. The men work out their relationship throughout the mission.

I love that Ben and Ethan do those cute, stupid things that couples do and talk about the stupid things couple talk about. Once Ethan knows Ben loves him, knows Ben won’t leave him, he falls into this relationship. The mission makes Ben have to open up to Ethan about his past in the military and with the government. The ethics here are murky, so if you like your white hats super shiny, this may not be the book for you.

We get a lot of information about the cult and I found one of the lines very apropos of our current political climate: “it was hard to convince people they were living in a shared delusion when they were still essentially living in it.”

A major player is Alec Banner, an FBI agent that served with Ben in the military. No one wants a Waco either, so the author was good at building the tension with the cult, but it was a bit of a letdown that all the actual action here with the compound happens off page. This makes sense though because we stay with Ben and Ethan’s perspective during the faceoff with authorities. Another major player is the cult leader’s son, Zach who helps them to save the children. I would expect a future book with both of these characters. Zach has been raised without any idea about different types of sexuality and seeing Ben and Ethan together is eye opening. I will say the author made me care about the victims of the cult and then we have no idea what happens to them; being rescued and thrown into a world they know nothing about off page.

Yes, Maggie living in the same town as Ben’s brother is a huge coincidence. Yes, the plot is a little over the top. Yes, it was lucky that they had help from former cultists just when they needed it. Yes, they are making out in the woods in the middle of a mission. So what? This is entertaining, cute, hot, and romantic, rather than realistic. Since I didn’t read the first book, Ryan and Lucas are two dimensional to me right now and I don’t know anything about the Krispins (they own the company Ben and Ethan worked for as bodyguards), who it seems will still be involved as the series moves forward. I liked this book, so I will likely go back and read the first book before continuing on in this series.

The cover art is by Natasha Snow. I believe it shows Ben with the wilderness they had to hike through in the background. It seems a little placid for an action adventure.

Book Details:
ebook
Published September 10th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949340693
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://ninestarpress.com/product/sentinel/
Series Until You :

New Release Blitz for Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Sentinel

Series: Until You, Book Two

Author: Karrie Roman

Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC

Release Date: September 10, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 71700

Genre: Contemporary, bodyguards, hurt-comfort, grief, men with children, rescue operation

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Never allowing anyone too close, Ethan Stone has lived a solitary life since he was disowned by his family when he discovered their darkest secret. He spends his days as a quiet sentinel, protecting others to make up for the ones he didn’t. Love, friendship, and family have no place in his world.

Ben Cronin is a warrior, haunted by a past he excelled at, which almost robbed him of his humanity. He became a professional bodyguard to save lives rather than take them. And he has loved his stoic colleague, Ethan Stone, from the day they met.

When Ethan’s sister suddenly comes back into his life in desperate need of his help, Ethan doesn’t hesitate to do whatever he needs to do. To his surprise, Ben—the man who makes him want things he shouldn’t—is right there beside him, risking everything to help him and finally coaxing Ethan’s feelings back to life.

A desperate race to find his missing nieces leads Ethan to a place he never thought he’d be and takes Ben exactly where he wanted to be—in a life filled with love and desire. But how long can they keep it when evil stalks their every step?

Excerpt

Sentinel
Karrie Roman © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
“Last question.”

“What now for you, Ryan?”

“Um…the short answer is I really don’t know. I’m going to take some time with Lucas while the show is on hiatus and think about what’s next for me. I hope people will understand why I’ve chosen to step away from the spotlight and will be gracious enough to give me the space I need to work out where to go from here. But for right this minute, Lucas and I are getting on a plane to locations unknown and we’re going to relax and enjoy being us.”

The press conference was a compromise between the very intrusive media and Lucas and Ryan. They wanted some peace, some space to recover from the events of the last couple of months, and now that their show, Witches’ Hammer, had wrapped up for a break, and Lucas had been given a clean bill of health, they were taking some time for themselves. Nobody deserved it more after what they’d been through.

Ethan watched, ever vigilant, as they stepped down from the podium and walked hand in hand toward the waiting car. His gaze rested on their joined hands for a second or two too long, but it was hard to look away from something that he desired for himself so very much. Not that he wanted either Lucas or Ryan. They were both great men and smoking fucking hot, but they weren’t for him. What he wanted was what they had—intimacy and love.

After years of self-imposed isolation from anything resembling a close relationship, Ethan wanted more.

Once his two charges were settled in the car, Ethan climbed into the passenger seat and gave the nod to Max. The big car roared to life and Max deftly drove them toward the airport and their waiting plane.

His former bosses, Patricia and Roger Krispin, had let Ethan go from their security agency when he called to resign, as he’d breached their no-skeletons-in-the-closet rule, but Lucas and Ryan had hired him as their personal bodyguard and had kept the Krispin’s professional teams as backup whenever needed. Ethan would be traveling to Australia with them, and Harry and Christina would meet them there for extra security, if needed.

“Looking forward to the Aussie girls in their bikinis, Ethan?” Ryan asked from the back seat.

“I’m more of a man in…what do you Aussies call them…boardies type of guy.”

“Oh, shit…sorry. Well, there’s plenty of them too. Maybe we can find a hot lifeguard for you while we’re there.” He didn’t need to turn to know Lucas and Ryan would be giggling to themselves, no doubt planning some kind of setup for him. He loved working for these two men and often wondered at his good fortune, especially after the shit had hit the fan following the revelation of who he was.

For almost four weeks, Ryan and Lucas had dominated the front pages and headlined the news. When the media had discovered that Ethan Lockard had come out of the woodwork and was somehow embroiled in the Lovers saga, the scrutiny had begun to border on the ridiculous. Ethan had offered to resign and had given serious thought to running again. It would be harder to pick a new identity and hide this time, but he’d manage. He was so tired of running and so fucking tired of being lonely.

Eight years ago, he’d lost his entire family, and though he hadn’t allowed any of them to get too close, the men and women he’d worked with over the last few years had become a family of sorts. He wasn’t going to let his brother take another family away from him this time.

“Okay, jet’s fueled and ready. Wheels up as soon as you arrive.” Paulina’s voice sounded in his ear.

“Copy. We’re about ten minutes out. All clear,” he replied. Despite the press coverage and the revelations that had been made about him, nobody from Krispins had seemed to care. They’d all accepted his apology for lying to them and admitted they’d have probably done the same if they were in his shoes.

The only person he hadn’t seen or spoken to since his true identity had been discovered was Ben. He hadn’t been back to see Ben since that day at the hospital when he’d been exposed. Ben’s brother, Cameron, had called to let him know the doctors had successfully woken him and called a few more times with updates, but Ethan had refused when Cameron had told him Ben had been asking for him to visit. He was such a fucking coward, but he knew he couldn’t bear to see disappointment in Ben’s eyes. What if Ben hated him for lying and keeping his past quiet? Ethan could stand anybody else’s hatred—but not Ben’s.

The private jet was waiting on the tarmac as promised, and Max drove them virtually to the open door. Ethan scanned the area as the car pulled up. He expected no trouble, and thankfully, he found none. Once satisfied, he stepped out and moved around the front of the car so he could open the back door nearest to the plane. Lucas stepped out, closely followed by Ryan, their hands immediately re-entwined as soon as they were both clear of the car. Ethan felt that pang of envy bite into him again at the intimacy the two men shared. God, he wanted it.

It wasn’t the first private jet he’d been on, but it was one of the nicest. Lucas and Ryan were already seated on the sofa that ran along one side of the cabin by the time he boarded. Ethan took the single seat across from them. He’d seen the bedroom toward the back of the plane as he’d entered the jet and wondered, with a sly grin on his face, how long it’d take before Lucas and Ryan made use of that.

“How are you with flying, Ethan?” Lucas asked as he continued to settle himself in and clip his seat belt.

“No problem with it. I can’t say I’ve done a huge amount, but I don’t mind it. Once the captain turns the seat belt sign off, I’ll pop this chair back, shut my eyes, and keep them closed until we touch down.” Ethan didn’t miss the look the two men opposite him shared, no doubt delighted they would, more or less, have the jet to themselves.

The engines had been idling since they’d boarded, and Ethan both felt and heard them roar to life now.

“All passengers, please ensure your seat belts are engaged and prepare for takeoff,” came a disembodied voice over the PA. The jet eased forward, slowly rolling toward the runway. It turned easily—nothing like the clunky turns of much larger passenger planes—before coming to a brief stop.

As the engines rumbled louder and louder and he was pushed back into his seat as the jet surged forward, increasing its speed to get it off the ground, Ethan had a sudden, inexplicable urge to run to the door and jump from the moving craft. He knew deep in his gut he was leaving something—or someone—behind.

He was sure he had everything he needed, and anything he’d forgotten he’d be able to buy in Australia, but he couldn’t escape that feeling of loss. Then, as he looked over the lights of the city below, he thought about pale-blue eyes that were usually dancing with laughter or mischief but had instead been filled with pain and determination the last time he’d seen them open, and he knew in his heart what he’d left behind—or rather who.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Karrie lives in Australia’s sunshine state with her husband and two sons, though she hates the sun with a passion. She dreams of one day living in the wettest and coldest habitable place she can find. She has been writing stories in her head for years but has finally managed to pull the words out of her head and share them with others. She spends her days trying to type her stories on the computer without disturbing her beloved cat Lu curled up on the keyboard. She probably reads far too much.

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Books, Donations, and Little Libraries. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Books, Donations, and Little Libraries

I was walking by a bench last week and saw a paperback laying on it with no one around.  That’s a sight I can never resist so I walked over and picked it up.  Jane Austen’s Emma looked up at me all worn and obviously well read.  I opened the cover and there was a bookplate that read “Read me and Leave me for someone else to Enjoy.”  As tempted as I was to take it home, I left it where it was because I had read it , taking a leap of faith just much as the reader who left it there that someone who would need it would pick it up, read it, and then pass it on in another spot.  A book chain of love and letters hooking people together.

It did get me thinking of course…

Where do old books go?  Those beloved paperbacks, those dogeared, slightly yellowed copies of stories that sit on shelves and then you wonder what to do with?  Maybe you have several copies of the same book, having bought it a couple of times over, not remembering it was already in your collection (aye, the number of times that happened to me).  Maybe you were somewhere and just had to read it again…spur of the moment binge reading! Yep! That happens too.t didn’t stop there.

My neighborhood is sort of quirky. We have all sorts of people living here, ages, races, families, always have, its sort neat and packed away in a hollow where the houses don’t really turnover, Bernie Sanders signs never age, and everyone seems to know one another and argue over turtles in emails online.   So I wasn’t surprised to see a neighbor with a car whose cars are always sagging under the weight of books go slowly down our road, loaded to the roof once again.

Turns out she collects them for Free Libraries. Everywhere.  Should have known someone who helps me liberate shrubs headed for the landfill would do that.

Not familiar with Free Libraries?  LIttle Free Libraries?  Be still my heart!  They are cropping up everywhere!  In parks, front lawns, neighborhood circles, anywhere you can think to put a small box…that’s a place for a free library.  Load it up with books.  Take one, replace it with one.  There’s a site online with instructions on how to make boxes like the one above?  Kim Fielding even   wrote a wonderful story called, of course, The LIttle LIbrary!.

It’s a wonderful way to share those books that overpopulate your shelves and attic while sharing your enthusiasm.  And in a way you are becoming another link in the chain of people connected by  their love of books, worlds outside their own, and a need for something more.

Want to know more?  Check out

Little Free Library | Take a Book • Share a Book

We are going to talk more about donations, bookplates, next week.  Let me know your thoughts as well.
Also running….
If you all were to suggest a Literary Event for the calendar, what would it be?  An International LGBT Romance Story Day?  Triad in Lust Day?    Quiltbag Aliens HEA Day?  Give me some titles for our own special September literary events.  Let’s call it our LGBTQIA Literary  Event Title Giveaway!  Have your title chosen and we will have Stella set you up with a $10 gift card from Dreamspinners.  Giveaway runs through September 22.
  Meanwhile, we have a great week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.
A new reviewer, Chaos Moondrawn starts in with her first review this week, I’m reviewing the 11th book in the Boystown series from Marshall Thornton,  Lila is reviewing the new C.S. Poe, Barb has the new Cordelia Knightsbridge, and so much more.  It’s going to be quite the week.  So don’t miss out on a day of it.

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, September 9:

  • The Enchanter’s Flame by Michele Notaro Blog Tour
  • A Stella Review: Courted by Sarah Hadley Brook
  • A Stella Review:  Patchwork Paradise by Indra Vaughn
  • Books, Donations, and Little Libraries
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, September 10:

  • Review Tour – RJ Scott – Second Chance Ranch
  • Blog Tour Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington
  •  BLITZ High Time by Keelan Ellis
  • A Lucy Review: Falling into Love (Family Found #1) by Kris T. Bethke and Nell Iris
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Second Chance Ranch (Montana #5) by R.J. Scott
  • A MelanieM Review: Dawn and Dusk (Day and Knight #3) by Dirk Greyson
  • A Stella Review: Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington

Tuesday, September 11:

  • Blog Tour A Ferry of Bones and Gold by Hailey Turner
  • DSP Promo Leigh Dillon on Raising the Bar
  • BLITZ Sentinel by Karrie Roman
  • A Vivacious Review: Breaking the Bonds (Cascade City Pack #2) by Rebecca James
  • A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Moving Image (Snow & Winter #3) by C.S. Poe
  • A Caryn Release Day Review: The Second Time Around by Rowan McAllister
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:   New York Nightwings Collection by V.L. Locey

Wednesday, September 12:

  • In the Spotlight Tour and Giveaway: One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge
  • Review Tour – Marina Vivancus – In This Iron Ground
  • Cover Reveal – Love’s Trials by Janice Jarrell
  • A MelanieM Review:  In This Iron Ground by Marina Vivancus
  • A Lucy Review: Promises by Ruby Moone
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Thursday, September 13:

  • Blog Tour – That Feeling When by S. M. James
  • DSP Promo Andrew Grey on All For You
  • Release Blitz – His Heart Or Mine (The Individualists Series #1)by C S Joyce
  • A Vivacious Review: The Captain’s Ghostly Gamble by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead
  • A MelanieM Review: Heart’s Desire (Boystown #11) by Marshall Thornton
  • A Stella Review: That Feeling When (#lovehim #1) by S.M. James

Friday, September 14:

  • Book Blast for We Have a Decision by Steph Marie
  • Release Blitz – Darcy – RJ Scott & Meredith Russell
  • Review Tour for Safe Place by Jay Northcote
  • An Ali Review:Shaker of Earth (SPECTR Series 2, #5by Jordan L. Hawk 
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: To Love Again by Andria Large
  • A Barb the Zany Old  Lady Review:  Safe Place (Rainbow Place #2) by Jay Northcote
  • An Alisa Review: The Long Way Around by Quinn Anderson

Saturday, September 15:

  • New Release Blitz Tour – Leta Blake’s Any Given Lifetime
  • The Hunt by J.M. Dabney & Davidson King Release Blitz
  • An Ali Review:  On Andross Station by J.C. Long
  • A MelanieM Review: Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen

 

 

 

 

 

 

A MelanieM Review: In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Anthony Beretta inherited the family winery at the tender age of twenty-four. It’s a struggle to keep it up, but he loves it and is determined to make it work even if it kills him. That is, if a motorcyclist doesn’t kill him first. He initially judges the man, attractive as he may be, on the basis of his appearance and apparently limited vocabulary. He soon discovers he’s wrong, but by then Oscar Kennett has already judged Anthony on his appearance.

Oscar thinks Tony Beretta is uptight and snobbish, and Tony’s speech for the charity they’re working on together reinforces that, even when he finds out Tony did it just to push his buttons. His adorable curls and sexy glasses might not be enough to change his mind, but maybe there’s more to Tony than meets the eye.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story of love found among the wines and  vines.  It was not only a terrific contemporary romance but a great way to connect with an author I hadn’t read in a while, Sydney Blackburn.

Somehow, I manage to lose track of authors and I never figure out why.  Maybe its the flood of stories I get, the titles and series I keep up with. But for whatever reason, some I forget to check up on so I’m thrilled when I read books like In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn and, after finishing the story) to go romping back to Sydney’s backlist to see what I have missed!

In Vino Veritas (In Wine Truth), two men collide literally and make instant snap judgements about each other based on their clothing of the moment and their conversation and language.  Initial impressions couldn’t be further from the truth but it takes wine, a winery, and a celebration to  bring the men together.

I loved both men, their personalities and the chemistry between them did it for me.  The backdrop and foundation of the witery is absolutely  perfect for a romance and the character of Tony Beretta (and his mother).  It’s necessary in order to get into his framework of overworked, obsessive, passionate man in love with his  vines, the art of wine making and the land.  We need to see Tony in his element and we do.  So eventually does Oscar.

I wish we could have had more of Oscar’s background and seen him settled at work but the focus here is Tony and his winery as well as their romance.

I loved so many elements here that I could see a sequel. I enjoyed this couple and the location that much.

If you love contemporary romance, don’t miss out on In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn.  It’s one I definitely recommend!

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  I love this cover.  Its perfection from the colors to the composition.  It caught my eye immediately.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press  |  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published August 13th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949340426
Edition LanguageEnglish

A VVivacious Review: Love Spell by Mia Kerick

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Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

Miss Harvest Moon, Chance César has a crush on The Harvest Moon Pumpkin Carving King, Jasper Donahue and he is going to make Jasper fall in love with him with the help of his bestie, Emily Benson, Today’s Lady Online Magazine’s Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You and a love spell (or two) to boot!

Chance is very into following the list, though it was kind of distressing to see what Chance’s allegiance to the list was doing to Jasper and the worst part is we don’t even get Jasper’s POV so yeah, I could feel his distress across Chance’s POV. It was painfully obvious that all these tactics made Chance seem like he was running hot and cold and all the mixed signals would mess with anyone’s head. Personally, all I wanted was for Chance to be himself.

I didn’t like Emily’s character. The only thing I would have wanted from her was two things – one, to tell Chance that he needs to be honest in his dealings with Jasper because what is the point of Jasper falling in love with someone who is not even real and two, that he didn’t need to figure out if he was a boy or girl or both or neither he could be anything he wanted to be and he didn’t need a box, he could just be uniquely Chance and that could be his box if he so desired and since, she did neither, I don’t even know why she existed. She doesn’t even contribute much to the plot and felt very much like an unnecessary character. I am pretty conflicted about her, I wonder if I should excuse her on the grounds of immaturity or the fact that she is just a teenager with no life experience but somehow, I can’t absolve her even with those considerations into place. Simultaneously, I also realise that we actually don’t know anything about her which brings me back to my first point, what was her contribution to the story, it felt like she was a character because someone was ticking off a list which said a female best friend was mandatory to a YA novel featuring a gay guy.

Though I couldn’t get behind Emily’s character I still ended up liking Chance probably because it was easy to see his foibles for what they were and somehow, it’s easy to lose perspective when your own feelings are hanging in the balance and I can somewhat excuse him especially as we see him learn the lesson he needed to learn. I really feel for Chance and being in his head it was really easy to like him because I could see where he was coming from. I really wanted to give him a hug every time he gets conflicted about his gender identity. I really connected with him even though I don’t know how many times I was shaking my head as he went along with things on the list.

I guess my best character in this book has to be Jasper. He was amazing and I loved him truly, I almost think I love him more than Chance. Getting to know Jasper was the real treat of this book and I literally can’t think of one single thing about him that I didn’t like (okay, in hindsight, I can think of one).

I had issues with the book and somehow, I really wanted to shake Chance up and tell him to forget the list and just be himself but despite the list and how much I was dreading the complications of the list the whole time it was in effect, I still found this an interesting read once I got into Chance’s head space. I feel like the ending changed things for me because during the whole list debacle I was like I am going to rate it like two stars or something but then we got to the end and we see Chance learn from his mistakes, learn that he can be himself, uniquely Chance and that significantly redeemed the book in my mind to some extent. I guess what I want to say, is that this book is not a painful read, it wasn’t ever a problem where I had to convince myself to finish the book just because I had to review it, in fact, it was the opposite. I finished it pretty quickly and there was something about this book that had me turning the pages even though I couldn’t stop myself from shaking my head at the words.

Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I love the cover, especially the background which has a kind of magical feel to it.

Sales Link  Amazon   |: Nine Star Press

Book Details:

ebook, 43,300 words

Expected Publication: 2nd edition, August 27, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949340-50-1

Edition Language: English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Rubble and the Wreckage (A Gabriel Church Tale #1) by Rodd Clark

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Christian Maxwell, a writer with a background in psychology, is caught up in the idea of his bestseller and already attracted, repelled, and a little excited by his subject. Gabriel Church, a killer, figures he might as well make money on his story rather than someone else, or that’s what we’re told. They both share a dark sense of humor and some methodical and obsessive traits. Gabe, of course, is thrilled with his own tale, having the attention of Christian, as well as being able to establish some sort of authority over him. Christian has put himself in a precarious legal position since Gabe hasn’t been caught yet. His obsession with news stories of murders lead him to Gabe. While someone with his research abilities and way of seeing patterns might have been a great asset to law enforcement, his loner style, lack of good judgement, and ethical flexiblity really wouldn’t be.

Here are some things that bothered me. We are basically told the author’s view of the characters, an apology (an explanation or defense), to understand how the story turns out the way it does. “We all weave the patterns of our lives by our actions, and possibly by the desires we maintain to be with others similar to ourselves.” While I find the statement profound, I feel like this should have been a preface, or even a postscript and we shouldn’t still be in this phase in chapter two. The POV (point of view), switches around all over the place. That quote is in first person plural. The author then goes back to dual third person, limited (one character’s view of another) and omniscient (a god view type of third person with facts not in evidence, or knowledge only the author would have.) This is a stylistic choice that is not my preference, but it left me feeling detached from either character, which in the case of a serial killer might be a very good thing. There were actually several typos–missing or repeated words–at regular intervals in the version I received. The story is sometimes hard to follow because it teeters between calling the killer Gabe and Church, but usually uses the writers first name. The story is at times contradictory, like how Gabe can’t see or remember a face because the white light is so bright (the man kills because of a victim’s white aura, like it is a calling from God), yet later we are told he remembers every face and will never forget.

As you would expect, the story wanders through different time periods as the killer talks about kills and his childhood based on his own agenda and the questions he is asked. He also amuses himself by drawing Christian in and using his sexuality against him. The way they dance around the issue of sex is very odd, but then everything about their interactions is odd. Gabe says he is heterosexual, while we witness Christian’s epiphany that he is gay, but that didn’t quite work for me. It seemed more like they both need a certain type of circumstance for the act to have any meaning, and this is it. I do not like the idea that meeting Christian can save or heal Gabe. There can be no redemption for this man and, no I don’t care about his crappy childhood. We are privy to his rapid changes in mood and understand he is unstable. We know he has killed at least 40 people.

No one in this book is likeable. There is no one to root for. I’m not even sure why this needed to be fiction. I can find plenty of true crime novels if I want. It is really important that after listening to details of murders all night, and having sex, they are now sightseeing and giving us a history lesson on the surrounding Seattle area? There is also a murder described from the victim’s point of view for no reason I can find. All of the sudden out of nowhere, Christian is being called Boy, feeling submissive, and Gabe calls himself Daddy. Is this a joke? “You look horny, baby. You want a ride on this love rocket”?

I am actually rather speechless. I can’t recommend this. I actually don’t care about what happens to these characters. This also needs editing. I think, at chapter fourteen, I am going to DNF.

I quite liked the cover art by Natasha Snow. It shows Gabriel on a lonely path heading towards the light, reminiscent of how he chooses his victims. The cathedral window overlay shows hints at his broken, chaotic mind and his view that he is on a mission.
Sales Links:  NineStar Press Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 2nd edition, 361 pages
Published April 30th 2018 by NineStar Press (first published January 30th 2015)
Original TitleRubble and the Wreckage
ASINB07CJZVXNS
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesA Gabriel Church Tale #1