Spring has Sprung…finally, Winner Announcements and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Contests, and Author Guest Blogs

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Well, I am almost afraid to say it….maybe Spring has finally arrived here in the DC Metro area. Shhhhhh! Not too loud.  I hate to be superstitious but  lately it seems like the sleet, or snow is just hovering at the edges threatening to make a reappearance and coat everything in white instead of cherry blossoms.  So I am going to tiptoe around the fact that I got out in the yard for the first time to start my garden cleanup and to check out if any brave little sprouts had made it above ground.  The irises have poked out, so have the autumn sedum…plucky souls that they are.  The maple trees are in flower and the squirrels are taking full advantage by littering the yard with all the flowers and twigs they have snipped off to get at the maple sap.  Oh that maple sap….the first run is so sweet, like a cold drink of water with a hint of sugar……that if boiled down becomes that golden wonder maple syrup.maple trees tapped

At this time of year (ok earlier in March but not this year), I used to give maple sugaring demonstrations to the public.  I would be boiling gallons of sap that I started to collect in January and stored until March from trees along the stream banks where the old mature red and sugar maples stood.  I would let the kids watch me tap a tree and, if lucky, watch the maple syrup evaporatorsap start to run out the hole immediately to their awe and wonder.  Then over to the evaporator and the wood fire that constantly burned cooking away the water and reducing the sap to syrup.  It’s quite a laborous process which is one of the reasons that the price for maple syrup runs so high.  I would tap red and silver maples native to Maryland, sugar maples that had been planted for their color and even boxelders that make a strong hearty syrup, each species of tree giving the syrup its own unique taste.  I would even order some Alaska Birch syrup to give everyone a taste of that regionally strong and robust syrup, my that’s an  acquired taste.

In New England they don’t start this process until April because of their winters and this year Maryland is right along with them due to our unusually harsh and lingering  winter.  How I loved introducing people who have grown up on Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth’s to the real thing!  That never gets old.  I love the natural history and the cultural history to making maple syrup.  It keeps me in touch with the past, it makes me appreciate the changing of the seasons and the bounty of nature.  And what it can do to a stack of blueberry pancakes is out of thismaply syrup world….

So yeah….Spring is here.  The maple trees in flower and the squirrels gnawing the heck out of them for the sweet sap tells me so.  And now I feel the need to go make some flapjacks.  With butter.  And real maple syrup of course!

Winner Announcements! The winner of Katey Hawthorne’s Book Contest is Alishead1.  Congratulations to Alishead1.
Leah Karge is the winner of the When All the World Sleeps blog tour. Congratulations to Leah too! Thanks to everyone who left comments.  Your participation is always appreciated. The winners have been notified.

Oh, and happy 5th Anniversay to Less Than Three Press, congratulations to you too.

While I am making breakfast, here is the schedule for the week ahead:

  •  Monday, April 7:    The Calm Before by Neena Jayden
  • Tuesday, April 8:     The Forester II: Lost and Found by Blaine D. Arden
  • Wed, April 9:             Author Spotlight: Blaine D. Arden (and Book Giveaway)
  • Thurday, April 10:    In Distress by Katey Hawthorne
  • Friday, April 11:        Controlled Burn by Laura Harner
  •  ***************        Cold Comfort by Lee Brazil
  • Saturday, April 12:    Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano

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

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

The Pulp Friction Series of 2013 are:

Wicked Truths coverWicked’s Way Series by Havan Fellows:

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

Chance In Hell coverChances Are Series by Lee Brazil:

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

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

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

Duplicity coverTriple Threat Series by Laura Harner:

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

2013 Pulp Friction Series Finale, Finale Contest and Odd Man Out!

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Pulp Friction 4 covers

Today ScatteredThoughts is welcoming back authors Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Laura Harner and Tom Webb to talk about the last book in the Pulp Friction series…all of the series…, Odd Man Out.  Odd Man Out was written by all of the authors and ties up all the storylines for each author’s main character or characters.  There is a sensational contest to go along with this series finale, Odd Man Out 2013 Finale coverbut before we get to the contest, lets meet our authors for our final Pulp Friction get together of 2013!

Meeting already in progress, let’s listen in….

Havan: Right now, here, talking about this—this feels like it might’ve been the quickest year of my life. I swear just a couple of days ago Laura came to us with—

Wait a second…how rude, here I am assuming that you know us and our dastardly delicious Pulp Friction stories…introductions may be appreciated…”us” is Laura Harner, T.A. Webb, Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows…now back to our ramblings *winks*

—so Laura approached us with this crazy idea of bad guys being good guys and serial pulp fiction booklets and lots of man love…or something like that. After we completely thought she’d taken up some sort of (perhaps illegal lol) habit and realized she was just naturally…um…spunky like that…lmao…we sat and thought about her proposition.

I just love saying that…Laura propositioned 3 people at once…and we accepted!

And…Pulp Friction was born.

Flash forward roughly a year…and we’re now saying good-bye to the characters that became a part of our lives. Oh I’m not kidding, when Zack got mad at Wick it was hard as hell for me to not think that Laura was mad at me…and when Rory walked out on Chance hearts broke and we wanted to wrap our arms around Chance and tell him it would be okay. These are our boys, our hearts and souls…we’ve brought a very turbulent year of their lives to you and hope that you—our readers—love them as much as we do.

The dynamics of these men are really mind-boggling. We were already friends when we decided to test our boundaries with this endeavor. We knew that we could spend elongated periods of time together and not want to do each other bodily harm…lol…but could we write together? Could we allow the others into our minds and create—develop something that readers would enjoy? (Because make no mistake, even though only the last book is a combined effort we were holding each other’s hands through every single one of the twenty books that came before the finale.) That’s a scary as hell concept for private people to bear.

But we did it…and when the finale came around four extremely talented (some maybe a tad bit melodramatic *cough cough* or a touch hard-headed) and dedicated authors worked together and wrote one blazingly hot and holy-shit-hang-on-for-your-life-roller-coaster ride of a book.

Oh – and just for the record – our voices freaking sing when combined…*bows*.

And now it’s time to say good-bye to what started as five bad guys being good guys and ended as nine men (throw in a cousin & aunt, a housekeeper/mother figure, a manager of a bar & smartening up cop, a brother with two kiddos and a voice across the line) and well—that’s one hell of a family that no one wants to cross and anyone would be proud to be a part of.

We’ll miss them, we’ll think of them often and we’ll always have a place for them in us.

That being said…we’re ready to wow you next year when we take on Flagstaff and see what kind of trouble we can rouse up there.

Lee: Havan, I think you said everything that we’re all feeling right now. I’d just like to add a big thank you to readers and reviewers who supported us with such enthusiasm in this whole endeavor. It isn’t the usual fare in today’s world of instant gratification. This whole concept of waiting to find out what happens next? Well, we knew it would tick some people off, but we hoped you’d love it as much as we did! People like Melanie and Will Parkinson wowed us with their responses, and that is so encouraging. Big hugs and lots of love to all of you!

Laura:  What she said. And then some. I really had no idea what this would turn into by the end of our first year together, but I can tell you, that just as the characters grew into a family, so have the PF writers. Friends who aren’t afraid to test the limits only come along so often in life. I’m grateful to have Havan, Lee, and Tom in mine. Tom wasn’t able to be with us today, but he and I have talked so much this past year about just how lucky we are to be part of this magical collaboration. He is always so appreciative of the amazing reader response to Marcus and Ben.

Havan: Oh-kay…the feelings have been tossed out there, our boys have shared every side they have…and the Macallans Whisky has run dry—well if that isn’t our cue to wrap this up nothing is. But we don’t want to leave ya’ll empty handed…because you should always have something in your hand *winks* soooooooooooo…time for some fun.

Leave a comment…any comment you want, we aren’t picky…and FOUR lucky winners will be picked—each to receive one of the four compilations we published of the series. Oh…don’t forget to leave your email address also! And for the ones keeping count at home—yes we just said we will be giving away a total of twenty books to four lucky winners…a set of each of the series…so leave your comment already *points to comment area*

Contest Rehash (because I always wanted to use that word): Leave a comment here and four winners will be picked to receive one of the four compilations of the series.  That’s 24 books to 4 lucky winners, wow.  A set for each of you.  And please leave us your email address as well so we can get in touch.  I mean, this is remarkable.  Here is what the winners will get:

Wicked Truths coverWicked’s Way Series by Havan Fellows:

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

Chance In Hell coverChances Are Series by Lee Brazil:

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

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

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

Duplicity coverTriple Threat Series by Laura Harner:

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

A Wintery Mix, Favorite Childhood Books, and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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We are expecting a wintery mix here in Maryland, rain, sleet, ice and snow all mixing together to create an equal mixture of beauty and angst.  Trees with limbs that glisten like diamonds to go along with downed power lines and people lost in the cold.  Joy mixed in with a little quiet reflection, softened by the grey skies of winter and clouds laden with snow.

Days like this bring back memories of winters past and winter stories I loved reading to my daughter and the children later at the nature The Winter Bear book Covercenter.  Stories like  The Winter Bear by Ruth Craft and Robert Frost’s Stopping Through The Woods On A Snowy Evening were a perfect way to convey the feelings and emotions brought on by the first snow or a cold, blustery day in winter.

The Winter Bear especially is still so close to my heart.  It’s simple story and the illustrations that hark back to the style of the original Winnie the Pooh never fail to move me.  A lost stuff bear is tangled up in a shrub looking worn , a little dirty and so very alone.  Its winter and the landscape is cold and barren.  Then a small group of children, siblings, finds the bear, gets him down and takes him home where they clean him up, Robert Frost's Stopping By Woods on a Snow Eveningdress in warmly and give that little bear a home with them.  It’s a spare, elegant and concise little story and yet it is so moving that it can still bring tears to my eyes as that last page as the children and little bear are snug  and warm in a little living room with the fire blazing and snow falling outside.  It was first published in 1976 and is hard to find.  But once found and added to your bookshelf, it will become a family treasure to bring out generation after generation no matter your religion or location.  Much like the other book that I love so well, Robert Frost’s Stopping Through the Woods on a Snowy Evening.  The illustrations are in black and white, with a splash of red in places, just glorious and perfect for this poem.  Children and adults alike love looking at them, watching the sleigh travel through town and into the woods with a surprise for the animals that live there.  And then there are those words….such memorable, wonderful words.  The last stanza is the best known..”.The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,But I have promises to keep,And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep.”  I have the entire short poem  at the end of the post today.  But those words and those illustrations together paint a memory portrait that draws adults and children into those woods time and again, a magic that is never lost.  Pick those books up and add them to your holiday collection.

Now I have a very special week ahead starting with a book that made my Best of 2013 within the first ten pages.  That’s when I started sobbing copious tears, a phrase perfect for the floodgate that opened upon reading Amy Lane’s latest book, Christmas Kitsch. Never have I been so moved by a character that quickly had me forgetting he wasn’t real.  Rusty, a wounded, glorious man child, whose open heart and mind is so transcendent that his story pulled me in not to release me until 3am, red eyed, snotty, and happy beyond belief that I had met him.  Amy Lane is running a contest and her author spotlight is Monday with my review of Christmas Kitsch is on Tuesday.  Thursday is a 4 book, 4 author Boys In the Band Blog Tour (and contest).  And Friday and Saturday…well if you have been reading the Pulp Friction authors and their combined series (City Knight, Triple Threat, Wicked’s Ways and Chances Are) then you are in for another treat.  The last book in all their series is a combined effort.  Odd Man Out wraps up all the stories of all the characters and is written by all 4 authors.  They have written a guest blog for Friday to talk about the last book and what’s coming in 2014 for Pulp Friction.  My review of Odd Man Out follows on Saturday.  And there is an amazing giveaway associated with this Pulp Friction Season Finale as well.  What a week ahead!!!!  Don’t miss out on a day of it!

Monday, Dec. 9:    Amy Lane’s Christmas Kitsch Blog Tour, Contest and Author Spotlight

Tuesday, Dec. 10:  Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

Wed., Dec. 11:          Tag Team: Fais Do Do by BA Tortuga

Thurs., Dec. 12:       Boys In The Band Blog Tour and Contest, Authors  L.A. Witt, Paula Coots, Rowan Speedwell, and Cecilia Tan

Friday, Dec. 13:       Pulp Friction Author Blog, Contest and Odd Man Out release

Sat., Dec. 14:             Odd Man Out by Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows, TE Webb, and Laura Harner, a Pulp Friction 2013 finale!

Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Review: Chance in Hell (Chances Are #5) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Chance In Hell coverAaron “Chance” Dumont, owner of Chances Are bar and restaurant, doesn’t know what to do.  Chance has just retrieved his missing boyfriend, Rory, who disappeared after a huge argument.  Granted the argument was about Chance and his old flame, Cannon, who returned determined to reclaim Chance as his.  Plus Rory, still trying to recover from his rape, is uncertain of their relationship and his status in Chance’s life.  But now that Rory is home and Chance is sure that Rory is the one he loves, things are still unsettled.

Why do things never stay the same?  Even his sanctuary, his bar Chances Are, is going upscale because of his new bartender and his chef.

While Rory agreed to come home, it was also on the condition that there was to be no sex between them.  That this was their chance to really get to know one another before a deeper commitment could be made (and sexual relations resumed).  Now Chance is determined not to screw up a second time, to show Rory that he is loved and treasured above all.

But fate has a messed up sense of humor. Cannon appears, shaken and badly needing Chance’s help.  Someone is stalking him and making threats.  Is there a connection to other unresolved deaths in the area? Soon Cannon is sleeping on their couch, and a killer is circling around the bar and his friends.  Chance is determined to save his new relationship but feels obligated to help his first love.  If there is a chance in hell that someone can keep them all safe, then Chance is the man for the job.

Chance in Hell, the fifth book in the Chances Are series, finds Chance finally committed to his love, Rory, but unsure of everything else in his life.  Everything is changing and Chance is the last person in the world who likes change even when it is for the better.  Lee Brazil does an outstanding job of making the reader understand just how flustered and uneasy Chance is over the changes in his life.  He is happy Rory is home but is tentative about moving forward in any part of their relationship, afraid to make a wrong move.  His bar, Chances Are, has always been a haven for Chance, no matter  the circumstances in his life but that is changing too as his bar has become popular with everyone, not just his old friends and the gay scene.

Even Chance’s band of brothers, his non blood relation family, is at its most variable, with new members and expansions of relationships.  With each description and scene, Brazil makes Chance’s new life seem incredibly authentic and real for the reader.  We feel his unease and the tension that all the changes are bringing about. We understand that Chance knows just how fragile his second “chance” at love with Rory is.  The author also takes the character of Rory and makes him into a  warm, intelligent and yes, endearing young man, a far cry from the troubled, passive “twink” he was portrayed as in the previous stories. Rory is that person that we love unconditionally.  The growth of his character brings out the best in Chance. Finally, even those readers who were not committed to this relationship, can understand the attraction and root for their love to succeed.  We even feel for Cannon, a less than relatable personality whose broken relationship with Chance almost destroyed him and almost demolished Chance’s new one with Rory.  Now Cannon becomes someone worthy  of our sympathy and concern, instead of someone we disliked and was disconnected to, a very nice turnaround by Brazil.

By the end of the story, things seem, at least on the surface, to be settling down.  I love Chance Dumont and his singular voice, all gravely, sarcastic, and knowing.  Rory is a wonderful complement to him and he knows it.  But a mystery is lurking around the edges, and the clues are to be found in the other series.  A Chance in Hell is well named indeed.

This is how it all starts:

The flamboyantly sexy Sin mixed drinks with smiles and laughter and his usual flirtatious banter behind the bar. Gerry cast him a dark glance every now and then, but seemed too busy with the harried waiters, managing the kitchen, and rubbing up against Darrin to actually approach the bartender.

It was Friday night and the crowd of boys in blue and the quiet gentlemen of the neighborhood had been replaced by a bevy of gay men who ranged from suave to eager, all drawn by the lure of our sexy new bartender, all spending big and most having to be sent home at the end of each night in cabs. Tomorrow was weekend brunch, and tonight’s crowd would seem even more incongruous when compared to the tourists and families who came for the brunch buffet.

Chances Are was changing, and I wasn’t sure I liked it. Gerry couldn’t be blamed for all of it either. It began with me hiring Blake, who should have been working in a grand establishment, to cook. A trained chef who’d once prepared food for the elite of New York society, he was out of place in my bar. He’d amped up the food, which had seemed safe enough. Then Gerry hired Sin, who despite his vibrant attitude behind the bar, I had yet to see actually follow through on the promise in his name, and crowds came, drawn by his personality. The bar was no longer a refuge, and I really needed one right now.

Why the hell doesn’t anything ever stay the same?

If you are new to the series, then return to the beginning and start there. Here are the stories in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, their relationships and the events that occur:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1)
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2)
Fifty, Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are, #3)
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are, #4)
Chance in Hell (Chances Are #5)

Cover art by Laura Harner is perfect for the story and to brand the series.

Book Details:

ebook, 14,500 words, 51 pages
Buy Links All Romance EBooks, Amazon
Published August 30th 2013 by Lime Time Press
edition language English
series Chances Are

Back from GRL, Pulp Friction Week, Book Contests and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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It’s Sunday and I have been back from GRL in Atlanta a whole week but it feels like only yesterday.  How does that happen?  I still haveGRL ATL -Atlanta-skyline one small suitcase to empty, my swag bag contents are scattered across parts of the kitchen table like so much titillating, lovely fall debris.  And I have yet to take all my books and stack them close to the bed for reading.  Sigh.  I have an awful feeling that I will open the suitcases to pack for GRL in Chicago next year only to find the remnants of GRL Atlanta still laying inside ready to be put away.

It was an outstanding conference.  So many wonderful authors, publishers, bloggers, and readers to meet and talk with.  Amy Lane, Shira Anthony, JP Barnaby, Lynn Lorenz, Venona Keyes, Marguerite Labbe, Wade Kelly, RJ Scott (making the journey from the UK), Mary Calmes, Jessica Freeley, Kaje Harper, Anne Tenino, Laura Harner, Tom Webb, Katey Hawthorne (my roomy), so many more.  I know I will kick myself when I realize who I have left out. Oops Keturah from Riptide, Dolorianne from Wilde City, Kris Jacen, editor extraordinaire from MLR, ack my brain cells are running out….My head and thoughts swirl under all the great people I got to see and meet there.  TJ Klune and Eric Arvin got engaged in a tearful and heartwarming engagement in front of a Q & A audience to our delight.  The Heaven and Hell Ball sawDSCN4099 DSCN4103so many great costumes from the sublime to the silly and everything in between while the gorgeous Atlanta city lights twinkled as our backdrop. That is Edmond Manning (King Perry)to the right and the sexy Drake Jaden, porn star and model for the cover of JP Barnaby’s Painting Fire on the Air (Survivor Stories #2). Be still my heart!  I don’t know who that funny person is in the Queen of Hearts wig and outfit! lol.  From Heidi Cullinan, Reese Dante ,Ethan Day , Teresa Emil ,Carol Lynne , and  Damon Suede , thanks for organizing a great conference.,They made GRL memorable for me and everyone else I talked to.  I can’t wait for GRL in Chicago next year!

I will probably still be packed for it.

Now I am so excited for the week ahead as I am trying something new here.  Next week is Pulp Friction Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and a multiple book contest to go along with 4 great authors and 4 wonderful intertwined series.  The Pulp Friction group consists of Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, LE Harner and TA Webb.  They got together (I will let them tell it in their own words) and decided to write a group of serialized stories reminiscent of pulp fiction that interconnected through a group of tightly bonded men.  I have slowly been reviewing each series at four books a piece.  Now it all culminates in a fifth book each and a guest post from each corresponding author.  A review of the fifth book follows the author’s post in the afternoon.  This is how our week shakes out.

Wicked Solutions coverFifty Fifty Chances Are coverMonday, October 28:    Havan Fellows and Wicked’s Way series

Review of Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #5)

Tuesday, October 29:    Lee Brazil and Chances Are series

Review of Chance In Hell (Chances Are #5)

Wed., October 30:         L.E. Harner and Triple Threat series

Review of Duplicity (Triple Threat #5)

Defiance coverStarry KnightThurs., October 31:       T.A. Webb and City Knight series

Review of Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)

Friday, Nov. 1:       Pulp Friction Wrap up, Announcements, and

Winners of the book contests

Saturday, Nov. 2:          October Summary of Reviews

To be entered into the contest, just leave a comment on any post this coming week and you will automatically be entered one of four books being offered up by the authors.

Review: Starry Knight (City Knight #3) by TA Webb

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

“What happens when two broken men collide?”

Starry KnightWhen Marcus Prater has found his Ben, several things happened at once, including an ambush by the very men who had raped Ben in the past.  The aftermath of that battle sees Marcus in the intensive care unit, surrounded by those who love him, his friends Wick, Zachary, Chance and of course Ben Danvers, the young prostitute that brought Marcus emotionally back to life after the death of his partner.

But Marcus needs to recover in more ways than just physically.  He needs to let go of his past if there is going to be room in his life for Ben and a future together.  It will take all his friends and more for Marcus and Ben to make the transition from a HFN to HEA.

Starry Knight is more about an internal investigation and exploration than an external one.  The past two stories have focused on the beginnings and rough path to romance for Marcus and Ben.  Marcus  withdrew from everyone around him who loved him in his grief over the death of Jeremy, his long term lover. Now with the arrival of Ben and the numerous setbacks their romance entailed, those friends have reappeared in Marcus’ life and its time for Marcus to ask for forgiveness and support.  And it is also time for those friends to let go of their anger and pain and give Ben their forgiveness as well.

I loved that this story turned inward and dealt with all the emotions and ramifications of Marcus’ past that had never been dealt with.  By bringing together all those people in the formerly close-knit group of friends, brothers in arms actually, the reader is given a clearer picture not only of their relationships but their past as well.  These passages are emotional punches to the gut not physical ones and many of them are long overdue.

T.A. Webb does a spectacular job of bringing the reader intimately into this group of strong individuals who consider themselves a family by choice instead of blood.   Or in their case, the blood may be that shed on each others behalf, a most singular blood tie that continues no matter how much rejection they might face from each other at any given time.  We have been bonding with all of these men through the various Pulp Friction series, and bringing them together gives a real feeling of totality that will satisfy the reader and in sure that we are hungry for more stories involving each of them.

But the most important element of this story is Marcus’ letting go of Jeremy and the love that meant everything to him.  It’s necessary in order for us (and Ben) to believe that there is a future available for this couple and the author  accomplishes this mission in a heartfelt and totally realistic series of emotional exchanges.  Starry Knight ends up being about emotional growth and acceptance, forgiveness and love.

However, this is also in keeping with the previous installments, so there is the rough talk, hot sex, and heart stopping moment of …..well, you will just have to get the book to read about the rest.  I love this series, and this couple,  Each additional story brings a new dimension and depth to their relationship and the dynamic group of men that supports them.   I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Consider this story and series highly recommended.

Stories in the City Knight series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events to follow:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)

Book Details:

ebook, 65 pages
Published June 13th 2013 by A Bear on Books
ISBN13 9781301484867

The Rank Few and their Rank View or When By The People and For The People Went Into the Dump and The Week Ahead In Reviews

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One of the many aspects that people either love or hate when living in the Washington DC Metro area is our constant bombardment of information of and about the Government.  The constant stream flows from our radios, tvs, cable, computers, phones, tablets, seemingly from the air itself.  It keeps us informed and aware of things happening in the government (whether we want to or not). I would even say that most of the people who live in this area work for the government or it has an impact on their work in some way.  Its Inside the Beltway at work and normally I kind of enjoy it.

Not now.

Now the government is shutdown and I am angry, and feeling helpless to make a difference in a situation that never should have happened in the first place.  This has effected me in so many ways, from the people I love, my family, my friends, acquaintances, all who are on furlough, those working and not getting paid, everyone who is impacted by this idiocy., including myself.

All those wondering how their mortgages will get paid, how will they put food on the table, or even get gas to bring them to the work they are not getting a paycheck for.    I see and hear it in the voices of cab drivers and food truck operators with no one to drive or feed,  hotels vacant because the tourists have gone home or have cancelled their trips.  From the front desk to those cleaning the rooms and hallways, and everyone else involved in the hospitality business, all are impacted, all are hurt.

What about those 30 children just admitted to a new cancer program at NIH, a last hope certainly and one that is frozen along with all the other protocols patients enrolled in specialty care need so desperately.  What about that person who needs a serious operation now.  It was scheduled then all leave was cancelled, no exclusions, no exemptions.  Who looks them in the face and tells them no? Even those hoping to get married or WWII veterans hoping to see their memorial? It’s certainly not the idiot Congress at the helm of this shutdown.

I, along with countless others, have called my representatives, Republican and Democrat, to voice my anger that the needs of the people who put them in office are being ignored, dismissed entirely because our views are not considered important.  The phone lines for all, especially the Republicans are constantly busy.  And when I did get through, I got a voice mail, saying all mailboxes were full.  No one is answering the phones on those offices.  But turn a camera in their direction, and they have time to expound on their importance and what they see as their own path to power and glory.

I am embarrassed that those people voted in to help their constituents have decided to help themselves instead.  The rank few with their rank view, those petulantly powerful, those gasbags of arrogance who should have been helping the government work has shut it down instead.  A fight was picked that they knew they wouldn’t win for the express purpose of shutting the government down.  They are confident that they will never have to come face to face with the millions they are hurting in the process.

And they are probably right.

Will they be visiting the people they made homeless?  Or those standing in line in the food banks?  Those in the hospital and those out of work because they lost their jobs or their businesses?  I don’t think so.  For these type of people its never their fault.  Their self-importance and arrogance overwhelms all else, leaving others to suffer for their selfishness and need for even more power.

The United States Constitution starts out as “We the People”, not We the Few and Powerful.  I think those Senators and Representatives who have shut down the government, need to be reminded who and what they represent.  They need to sit down and listen as someone reads to them the documents on which our nation and our freedoms are based.

Right before the signatures on the Constitution, the following paragraphs appear:

In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety–perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude than might have been otherwise expected; and thus, the Constitution which we now present is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession, which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.

That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State is not, perhaps, to be expected; but each will, doubtless, consider, that had her interest alone been consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that Country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.

Where is their adherence to those words and feelings expressed above?  Lacking, tossed aside in favor of their own positions and small minded thoughts.

How sad,, how infuriating, and how un American.

Now for the Week Ahead in Reviews:

Monday, Oct. 8:         Northern Star by Ethan Stone

Tuesday, Oct. 9:         Starry Knight by T.A. Webb

Wed., Oct. 10:             Enigma by Lloyd A. Meeker

Thurs., Oct. 11:           The Night Visitor by Ewan Creed

Friday, Oct. 12:           Guest Blog by Playing Ball Authors

Sat., Oct. 13:                Playing Ball Anthology

Review: Knightmare (City Knight #2) by T.A. Webb

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Knightmare coverEx cop Marcus Prater spent that last several years devastated from the loss of his lover to a street crime.  Then Marcus met Ben Danvers, college student, prostitute and damaged soul and a fragile relationship was born.  But the men who raped Ben are out of jail and Ben disappears.  Now Marcus must call on all his old friends and contacts to help him find Ben and fast.

Ben’s worst nightmare is happening all over again, can Marcus and friends save him in time?

With Knightmare, T.A. Webb weaves the City Knight series into the full tapestry of the Pulp Friction universe, and the result is a marvelous concoction of mulit dimensional characters, convoluted plots and combustible romances to knock your socks off.

In the first installment, we meet two different yet equally damaged men.  Marcus who had a deep and wonderful love, Jeremy, who died in a small time robbery.  Then Webb gives us (and Marcus) Ben Danvers.  Ben had been brutally attacked, raped and left to bleed out on the college campus where he was a student.  The two men responsible were caught and jailed but emotionally, Ben has never recovered.  To make money to finish college as well as living expenses, Ben sells himself on the street.  And each transaction has further harmed his self esteem and ability to love.

Webb made us believe in these individuals and their problems. We hold our breath as they tenuously move towards a relationship because we are aware of all the obstacles still between them.  Then the author proceeds to fracture their fragile new status with the news that the men who attacked Ben have been released from prison.  Given today’s headlines and the often shortened prison sentences, this is a realistic, horrifying event to happen.  Then Ben disappears. Gone.  And Marcus is terrified that he is going to lose another love just as soon as he found him.

This is how Knightmare starts out for Marcus and  the reader as we are dumped right into the middle of Marcus’ scene at the end of City Knight:

Marcus stood in the alleyway, letting the shock he’d initially felt bleed out of his system. The blast of adrenaline that made everything speed up and slow down simultaneously had burned through his body and now he was able to focus. He took a deep breath and let his experience take over.

As he calmed and his vision cleared, he shoved away all the fear that crawled through his body like an army of fire ants and looked around the alleyway. Saw. And began to process, his mind functioning again. His cop instincts made notes and started a mental file on the crime scene. He moved slowly into the dark, pulling a flashlight from his jacket pocket and painstakingly covering every inch of the alley.

No blood that he could see. No obvious signs of struggle. No overturned garbage cans, not a goddamned thing. No sign of his Benjamin. How in the hell was that possible? Ten minutes…he had only been ten minutes away.

Marcus’ panic and disbelief are visceral in their power and believability. T.A, Webb does such a beautiful job in describing the intensity of Marcus’ feelings that the reader feels the emotional impact of the situation as deeply as Marcus does.  And as the situation escalates, so does the anxiety level of the reader.

And the people Marcus calls on for immediate assistance are those same individuals we have met in the other series.  Chance DuMont, Wick Templeton, Zachary and Archer (and Jeremiah).  All here as well as their various story lines, weaving the complicated relationships and past histories together to form a formidable conglomeration of dynamic personalities, remarkable intellects, and a diversity of talent that is not always to be found on the side of the law.   Talk about a powerful group dynamics and all focused, albeit temporarily, on finding Ben for Marcus.

As with most serialized stories, there is another cliffhanger to be found at the end of this story.  It’s shocking and guaranteed to send you running to the next story as it should.  It’s terrific story. And the series is so explosive, really quite addicting in every way.  Trust me, just go with the flow (and Scattered Thoughts) over to the next in the series.  I am running to the next one as quick as I can.  Join me.

Don’t miss out on any stories in this series but do start at the beginning.  I have listed the book below in the order they should be read. Consider them all highly recommended.

Stories in the City Knight series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events to follow:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages
Published April 15th 2013 by A Bear on Books
ISBN13 9781301938292
series City Knight
 Book Details;

September 2013 Summary of Reviews

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September and Fall

September 2013 Book Review Summary

What a wonderful month it was for books and reviews!  Most of the books I read fell into the 5 and 4 star category, a few into the  3 star and none below that.  Series predominated the ratings this time.  Most notably the series offerings from the Pulp Friction authors. There 3d-person-sit-pile-books-reading-book-26141531were new books in well established series such as Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series as well as followup stories and new series  from such talented authors such as Kendall McKenna (The Tameness of the Wolf series) and Aleksandr Voinov (Memory of Scorpions series).

Other new series includes Poppy Dennison’s Pack Partners , Cat Grant’s Bannon’s Gym) and Harper Kingsley’s Heroes and Villains series too.  My cup (and yours) runneth over with series, all promising more great stories featuring characters we have come to love. And believe it or not, October is starting the same way!  What a fall!

So grab a pen or notebook and jot down those books and authors you may have missed the first time around.  I have linked my review to each one listed.  Happy Reading!

5 Star Rating:

Crucify (Triple Threat #4) by L.E. Harner
Defiance (Triple Threat #3) by L.E. Harner
Re-entry Burn (Superpowered Love #5) by Katey Hawthorne (supernatural)
Retribution (Triple Threat #2) by L.E. Harner (contemporary)
Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1) by Aleksandr Voinov (fantasy)
Strength of the Wolf (The Tameness of the Wolf #2) by Kendall McKenna

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Accidental Alpha (Pack Partners #1) by Poppy Dennison (4.5 stars)(supernatural)
Black Dog (Bannon’s Gym #1) by Cat Grant (4.5 stars)(contemporary)
Blessed Curses by Madeleine Ribbon (4 stars) (fantasy)
City Knight (City Knight #1) by T.A. Webb (4 stars out of 5)(contemporary fiction)
Heroes and Villains (Heroes and Villains #1) by Harper Kingsley (4 stars)(supernatural)
Sonata by A.F. Henley (4.5 stars out of 5)(contemporary fiction)
Summer Lovin’ Anthology (4.75 stars out of 5) (contemporary)
The Crimson Outlaw by Alex Beecroft (4 stars)(historical)
Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1) by L.E. Harner (4.5 stars)(contemporary)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Coliseum Square by Lynn Lorenz (3.75 stars)(historical)
Roughstock: Blind Ride, Season One by BA Tortuga (3 stars) (contemporary)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating: none

1 to 1.75 Star Rating: none