And I Saw A Sea of Squirrels….and the Week Ahead in Reviews!

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And Then I Saw A Sea of Squirrels……grey squirrel drawing

Its fall and my patio and lawns are full of nature’s bounty, aka nuts.  Lots and lots of nuts and therefore lots and lots of squirrels (and deer but that’s for another story from this park naturalist).   This year is a high cycle year so all the oaks, hickories, and beech trees in my backyard were groaning under the weight of the nuts they bore.  And have now loosed them upon every surface available, turning every spare inch into a prickly hulled,DSCN4046 brown blanket or a mosaic of shiny hard bits and pieces of acorns to go along with the prickly hulls of the beech nut.  Of course the green golf balls of the black walnut are dropping too, sounding like hail during the worst of storms.

And my dogs hate this.

I don’t blame them.  Those prickly little bits and pieces hurt the pads of their paws, jagged hulls of shells courtesy of sharp squirrel teeth are just the right size to work themselves between the pads and wedging themselves firmly to great pain and discomfort.  No amount of sweeping is stopping the tide.  It’s relentless, a constant cacophony of sound followed by a carpet of discarded husks.DSCN4053

I think most people don’t realize that nuts are cyclical.  That each year the harvest is that much greater than the year before with the various animal populations that depend upon them for food expanding along with them.   And then the year that follows the one with the biggest yield is all but barren.  No nuts, or at least very little.  People start reporting seeing skinny or starving animals.  And they reason that such a thing helps to keep populations down.  And certainly that is true for the present day.  But not always.

Did you know people once saw seas of squirrels as they migrated through?

Yes, Eastern gray squirrels used to migrate, following the cycles of the oaks, and hickories and other nut bearing trees.  Back when the midwestern and eastern forests were one contiguous mass of forest.  Back before we started to carve out our settlements, and farms and cities. Back when there were only small farmsteads and villages that dotted the forests, tiny punctuation marks of humanity.

Then the animals lived much different lives than they do today.

One of my college professors,  Dr. Vagn Flyger wrote a report for the University of Maryland on a squirrel migration as recent as 1968.  Oh, how he loved squirrels and imparted that love to his students!  And this recent migration, from Vermont to Georgia, fascinated him.  You can read it here.  But even more fascinating are the earlier account of waves of squirrels so massive that it took days before the end of the hoard could be seen.  Or as Robert Kennicott in his article “The Quadrupeds of Illinois” in The Annual Report of the Commissioner of gray squirrelPatents for 1846 stated  “it took a month for the mess of squirrels to pass through the area.”*

Just imagine what that must have looked like! Tens of thousands, perhaps millions of squirrels following the wild harvest through the vast forest of the midwest and east, flowing like a grey furred river, leaping and bounding over every surface as they passed their way through the immediate area.   Here is another quote (from that  *same article ):

*In 1811, Charles Joseph Labrobe wrote in The Rambler in North America of a vast squirrel migration that autumn in Ohio: “A countless multitude of squirrels, obeying some great and universal impulse, which none can know but the Spirit that gave them being, left their reckless and gambolling life, and their ancient places of retreat in the north, and were seen pressing forward by tens of thousands in a deep and sober phalanx to the South …”

No longer.

We still have them migrate occasionally.  The last reported one was likely 1998 in Arkansas but nothing like the vast migrations of the past.  And how can they with no massive forest or massive stands of trees, following the bounty of nuts and seeds as the cycles demanded?  Like the beaver before them, we have changed their natural history and lost something special in return.

Now the Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is regarded as a cute backyard dweller or bird seed eating pest.  They get into attics or gnaw on wires.  We are amused by them, infuriated by them, and in some cases regarding bird feeders outsmarted by them.  They throw nuts at my dogs and tease them unmercifully and I laugh, of course.  They are a constant in my yard and a source of food for my owls and hawks.  They are as familiar to me as my wrens and woodpeckers…and my life would be poorer without them.

But once they moved across the land in rivers of energy and gray fur, millions of them covering the landscape and making people stop in their tracks, marveling to see such a sight.  Just once I wish I could have been there, standing beside those folks so I too could have said “and then I saw a sea of squirrels…”.

The Migration of the Grey Squirrels

by William Howitt

When in my youth I traveled
Throughout each north country,
Many a strange thing did I hear,
And many a strange thing to see.

But nothing was there pleased me more
Than when, in autumn brown,
I came, in the depths of the pathless woods,
To the grey squirrels’ town.

There were hundreds that in the hollow boles
Of the old, old trees did dwell,
And laid up store, hard by their door,
Of the sweet mast as it fell.

But soon the hungry wild swine came,
And with thievish snouts dug up
Their buried treasure, and left them not
So much as an acorn cup.

Then did they chatter in angry mood,
And one and all decree,
Into the forests of rich stone-pine
Over hill and dale to flee.

Over hill and dale, over hill and dale,
For many a league they went,
Like a troop of undaunted travelers
Governed by one consent.

But the hawk and the eagle, and peering owl,
Did dreadfully pursue;
When lo! to cut off their pilgrimage,
A broad stream lay in view.

But then did each wondrous creature show
His cunning and bravery;
With a piece of the pine-bark in his mouth,
Unto the stream came he;

And boldly his little bark he launched,
Without the least delay;
His busy tail was his upright sail,
And he merrily steered away.

Never was there a lovelier sight
Than that grey squirrels’ fleet;
And with anxious eyes I watched to see
What fortune it would meet.

Soon had they reached the rough mild-stream,
And ever and anon
I grieved to behold some bark wrecked,
And its little steersman gone.

But the main fleet stoutly held across;
I saw them leap to shore;
They entered the woods with a cry of joy,
For their perilous march was o’er.

Now for the Week Ahead in Reviews (and  Autumn Sedum in my garden):DSCN4051

Monday, Sept. 30:         Sonata by A.F. Henley

Tuesday, Oct. 1:              September Summary of Reviews

Wed., October 2:            Goblins by Melanie Tushmore

Thurs., October 3:         Dominant Predator by S.A. McAuley

Friday, October 4:         The Isle of Wishes by Sue Brown

Sat., October 5:               Knightmare (City Knight #2) by T.A. Webb

Review: City Knight (City Knight #1) by T.A. Webb

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

City Knight 1 coverWhen Marcus lost his lover Jeremy he lost everything.  Two punks shot and killed his doctor lover over just a few dollars and Marcus and his partner were the ones to find him.  Jeremy’s death demolished Marcus, and he needed to do something to help protect the innocent, things he couldn’t do while on the force. So Marcus quit his fifteen year job as a detective on the police force and became a private detective.  He quit sleeping and he gave up on love.  Then Marcus spots  Ben, a young man prostituting himself on the bad streets of Atlanta and things begin to change.

Ben has been damaged badly by his past but is still struggling for a better life for himself.  To pay for grad school and living expenses, Ben is whoring himself out on the streets of Atlanta.  Only another year or so and then he will be done.  A past traumatic event has convinced Ben that sex is only tolerable when it is fast and anonymous. And paid for.

Against their wishes, the men find themselves falling into a relationship.  But Ben’s past arrives and shatters everything, the budding romance and Ben’s fragile existence.

City Knight is a monster of a book crammed into a mere 50 pages.  T.A. Webb skillfully frames out Marcus’ and Ben’s past traumas, then with descriptive slashes of anguish and threat, delivers the start of a pain-filled journey to love and redemption for both men and the readers.

The first in a series, City Knight switches point of view from Ben to Marcus so the reader can see what events has brought each damaged man to their present day situation.  This format works here beautifully to impress upon the reader just how damaged and conflicted these men are as neither has moved past the events that succeeded in demolishing their lives. Webb’s characters clash and then start to come together, reawakening their desires for intimacy and sex.  It’s painful, and realistic.  It’s also grubby ,desperate but also starts to show slivers of hope for each of them.

At that point, the reader is quite naturally uneasy as we have come to expect the worst for each man, and Webb delivers that too in a heart crunching cliffhanger that will haunt you and leave you wanting more immediately.  I used to mark down stories that ended in this way but have come to accept this ending as long as it is a part of a series or serialized stories like this one.

In this case, Webb has set the stage for the next story in the series, while leaving the reader ramped up in anxiety and anticipation for the events to follow.    I can’t wait (and didn’t have to).   My review for the next in the series follows shortly.   Read these tales one at a time or cobble them up in one reading, it works both ways.  I loved City Knights and think you will too.

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 February 15th 2013 by A Bear on Books (first published February 13th 2013)
ISBN13 9781937252380
edition language English
series City Knight

A City In Need and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Washington, DC, home of the federal government, the Smithsonian, the World Bank and all those other government agencies who names are reduced to alphabet letters, doesn’t have a shelter for LGBTQ endangered youth.  How is that possible?  We have food banks, shelters for homeless families (although not nearly enough) and shelters for battered women (House of Ruth, although again horribly more is needed here too).  We have famous this and that, shiny new, expensive condos are rising up everywhere to help shelter the masses of people, young and old, who are returning to the city to live and work.homeless youth are real sign

Where is the shelter for those thrown out of their homes for their sexuality?

Discarded like garbage, removed from family, schools, and every type of support possible, these kids are then forced to scramble to survive on the streets while lacking the skills to do so.  Fragile prey who often meet the predators just waiting for them. Others arrive thinking the city offers some hope and answers and find neither.

Who is going to answer their cries for help?

There used to be the Wanda Alston House but they went bankrupt.  Other shelters I reported on apparently (from sources working in DC close to the situation) are turning away LGBTQ youth because of their sexuality. *shakes head*  But there is a glimmer of hope at least for Homeless Youth out in the streetsthe future.

Yesterday, my Metro M/M group (authors, bloggers, publishers and readers)  met to talk books, conferences, and other things at the  wonderful Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City VA.   A friend mentioned that the Wanda Alston House is being revived as The Alston Project and she is working with the organizers.  That is wonderful and much needed news.  We need this shelter, the LGBTQ youth need this shelter and I want to help.  And hopefully you do too.

So I will keep you all posted.  Watch for a blog on The Alston Project.  I have ideas percolating to launch a Homeless youth 40 percent picdonation drive when it is ready for one.  Maybe even auctioning off/giving away ebooks and t-shirts for money to go into this project.  Let me know if you all have any ideas!  Lets pool our thoughts, our resources, our energies and make a shelter for LGBTQ homeless youth a reality.

We read books about them, romances and fictional stories by authors whose extraordinary talents make us weep over the plight and reality of gay youth so lets channel those emotions and help them in other ways too.  Keep tuned in for more information and ways to help our LGBTQ endangered kids!

Here are links to LGBTQ shelters in other  cities that need help and donations too:

www.aliforneycenter.org (New York City)

U CAN – LGBTQ Host Home Program (Chicago, IL)

Lost-n-Found Youth, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)

Article on House Bill – New House bill seeks to aid LGBT homeless youth

And now for the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, Sept. 23:  Heroes and Villains by Harper Kingsley

Tuesday, Sept 24:   Blessed Curses by Madeleine Ribbon

Wed., Sept 25:          Summer Lovin’ Anthology

Thurs., Sept. 26:       City Knight by T.A. Webb

Friday, Sept. 27:       Roughstock: Blind Ride, Season One by BA Tortuga

Sat., Sept 28:             The Case of the Missing Aha Moment – Scattered Thoughts Mini Rant on Writing

Review: Crucify (Triple Threat #4) by Laura Harner

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Crucify TT4Sitting in a booth at the Chances Are, Zachary listens as a friend of Jeremiah’s, Nick Gabriel, explains the history and man behind his employment as a prostitute, a Catholic priest.  This priest has an affinity for very young men who are confused about their sexuality and sees their confusion as a means to abuse them.  For Jeremiah, this case also represents a chance for him to go undercover to prove himself to his Doms and help stop this sexual predator.  If only he can get Zachary and Archer to agree.

Using Jeremiah as bait seems like a good idea, at least in the beginning.  Then Wick and Chance weigh in on Jeremiah’s current status with Archer and Zach.  In their opinion, there is not much difference between Jeremiah and his contract and Nick’s profession.  It’s an epiphany for Zachary.  Exactly how does Jeremiah fit into his and Archer’s relationship?  Is the contract between the men a barrier to any real future for the triad? The answer lies in their current investigation and it will have reverberations for all involved.

Crucify is the fourth story in the Triple Threat series and L.E.  Harner uses its plot to bring the series back to its original explosive element of relationships and change.  In each story, she has explored how does the addition of Jeremiah is changing the relationship dynamics of Zach and Archer.  From content and somewhat complacent established couple of 15 years, the introduction of Jeremiah has reenergized the Master Dom in Zach who, more or less, relinquished that role to Archer in their commitment to each other.  But up until now,  neither Archer or Zach has addressed what, if any, future Jeremiah has with them and in what role.

Harner has made this series a study in all sorts of relationships and not just Archer and Zach’s complicated one.  In Crucify, relationships between Ben, Jeremiah and “Gabe” are up for inspection, as are those of Chance and Rory, Wick and Zach, even Wick and his mini Wick as well as so many others. Harner explores the delicate balance between these complicated men.  Sometimes its the relationship between friends, sometimes its relationships between lovers, and every permutation in between.  I love that the author recognizes that sometimes those relationships that seems the strongest are in fact fraught with issues that threaten to shred partnerships, leaving the participants in tatters.  Sometimes it really is all about the perspective.  And that can change in an instant.

I like to mention that this story and series features a m/m/m triad, with elements of D/s to their relationships.  The bdsm content is made accessible to all readers by the manner in which Harner explains each man’s need and desire for this aspect of sexuality in their lives.  It makes sense as does the threesome.  Even if these are not the elements you normally read, don’t let this make you shy off from the series.   It a hot sexy component of these mens relationships and it works here.

Harner writes in layers.  Layers to her characters, layers to her plots and those added dimensions gives this story and series a realistic flavor and spice that is to be savored.  Whether it is the world weary voice of Zach or the humorous aspect to sometimes horrific events,, it all adds up to one great series and one conflicted and compelling trio of characters.

There is more to come in the Triple Threat series.  Do not miss a single story!  Pick them all up, read them together or singly just as long as you read them in order.  I highly recommend them all.  Here is a quick taste as Zach questions Nick:

“Spill, Nick. What does the church have to do with you? Did they kick you out? Because I can’t do shit about that—”

“They have a group for guys like me. Like us. Homos.” The words shot out with the force of a gun blast.

I nodded. I knew a little about the pray-the-gay-away movement—people who think homosexuality and Christianity are incompatible—although I wasn’t aware of any local connection. My interest spiked, and I could only imagine the conflict this young man must feel. Combine a street-wise hooker and the up-and-coming young businessman, sprinkle liberally with Catholic guilt. A nervous breakdown waiting to happen. Good luck with that.

Book Details:

ebook, 60 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN13 9781937252571
edition language English

Books in the series in the order they were written and should be read:

Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1)
Retribution (Triple Threat #2)
Defiance (Triple Threat #3)
Crucify (Triple Threat #4)

Review: Defiance (Triple Threat #3) by Laura Harner

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Defiance coverAtlanta football legend Kebow Trainer is in big trouble and needs help now.  For four years Trainer has been blackmailed and has paid up. But now he is about to negotiate a huge new contract and the blackmailer’s demand has risen to outrageous proportions.  So now Trainer  wants it stopped and figures Archer and Zachary are the men to do it.  But this case brings up more than just a blackmailer filled with hate, it reminds Zachary of a part of his past that fills him with pain and regret.

It has been two months since Jeremiah was abused by a Dom with a grudge against Archer and Zachary and he has yet to heal emotionally.  So while Zachary worries about Jeremiah and his ability to move past his recent trauma, Jeremiah and Archer are overwhelmed with concern for Zachary and the future of their relationship.

For all involved, this case has enormous consequences for their relationships and their futures.  Will the triple threat of Archer, Zachary and Jeremiah be enough to solve the case and save their relationship?

Defiance is the third book in the Triple Threat series from L.E. Harner and it moves the reader into Zachary’s  past and his involvement with Wick Templeton (from Wicked’s Ways series).   I really loved this element.  Harner has been doling out bits of information about Zachary’s past like a miser does money, in tiny amounts here and there.  Now we start to understand that the loss of his sub and closeted lover was a deeper, more involved event that has had repercussions on Zachary’s life and relationships ever since.   So many layers here to peal back, such an amazing depth of characterization.  I just love Zachary.  His is a character and voice that just  resonates with a reader.  Wry, knowing, sarcastic, this person has seen it all, the best and mostly the worst humanity has to offer and is still standing.  Like Wick Templeton with whom he has a past and is close friends with, Zachary lives and works on the outskirts of what passes as normal in society.  He is both Dom and sub in his relationships, although sub to only one man…Archer.  He is brutal, funny, intelligent and physical.  Trust me when I say this complex personality will stay with you a long time.

Harner has created an emotionally explosive case for a trio of men already destabilized by recent events.  Nothing is ever simple in this series, no case without ramifications for all who become involved.  Jeremiah is still reeling from his abuse and uncertain future, Zachary is dealing with his past and Jeremiah, and Archer has to come to terms with the fact that he destabilized his own 15 year relationship with Zachary in his arrogance and the repercussions of the addition of Jeremiah.  Then you add the case of a blackmailed gay football player and watch the situation ignite.  Here is a taste:

The bottle of Don Pilar was already on the table, two glasses poured, two waters on the side. The plate of limes and salt sat in the middle of the glasses, where they would likely remain untouched. They usually did.

“Thanks.” I tossed back the first glass before I even sat down. Sliding into the black leather bench of the dark booth, I poured a second glass and tossed it back, too. It suddenly seemed like a great idea to get completely shitfaced.

“Never necessary. And you know that’s sipping tequila.” We smiled at each other. It was the look of longtime friends with hundreds of favorite lines from past conversations.

“You might have said that before. This needing each other shit is becoming a habit,” I said. It had only been a few days since I’d shown up to pick him up from jail. Wick hadn’t technically needed a ride from me—but a little bird let me know he was being released and I thought a surprise was in order. Not that he’d actually done anything wrong—it’d been part of a case he’d been working—but that got me thinking about the fed. “So, hear anything from that guy? What was his name? Fred? Ked? You know, the one you left standing there with his heart on his sleeve and a bone in his pants?”

Wick threw his head back and laughed. When he finished he took a long sip of his drink, eyeing me over the rim of his glass before responding. “You’re such an ass. His name is Ned. And no, I haven’t heard from him. I think he might’ve taken offense to the lip lock you planted on me when I got in your car. I probably should take offense too, except I love dancing with your tongue.”

I grinned. “Yeah. That one might’ve gotten a little away from me. Still, it was nice.”

“It always was.” We stared at each other for a long moment, old memories suddenly fresh.

So much is revealed by the single scene alone.  The easy, casual nature of the conversation, the lack of emotional and personal barriers between Wick and Zachary that just speaks volumes about their relationship as old friends and ex lovers.  It is terrific and a perfect example of the narrative of the entire series.

The reveal of the identity of the blackmailer is an emotionally explosive event as anything that preceded it.  It is gut wrenching and so painful in that one   secondary relationship that you have come to care about is left in tatters, the future of it and the couple involved uncertain.  It is a totally realistic and heartbreaking element in this story and  I don’t see how Harner could have handled it any other way without losing the credibility built up in the series to date.  But I would love to see a sentence or two somewhere down the line to let the readers know how it all eventually resolved for the men involved.

Defiance is an amazing read, especially considering it is only 83 pages in length.  As I have said before, this book and all the books in the series seem to have the feel and scope of  stories much longer in length because of all the emotions and story plots involved.  Great narrative, smooth writing style, compelling characters and a singular voice in the pov.  Those unfamiliar with BDSM and D/s or those who usually don’t read books with that element will still enjoy this book and series.   That aspect of this story and the m/m/m relationships are beautifully done and Harner makes it accessible to all readers, not only those who like a little kink in the sex but those who prefer their sexual relationship on the vanilla side.

I highly recommend not only this book but the entire series.  But start at the beginning.  It’s the only way to understand the characters and events that follow.  You will find yourself as hooked as I am.

Books in the Triple Threat series to date and in the order they were written and should be read are:

Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1)
Retribution  (Triple Threat #2)
Defiance (Triple Threat #3)
Crucify (Triple Threat #4)

 Book Details:
ebook, 83 pages
Published May 31st 2013 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN13 9781937252533
edition language English
series Triple Threat

A Little Something Different This Morning and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Good morning all.  Usually this is the space where I ramble on about whatever has captured by attention.  Those stray thoughts that glitter in the mind like so much pretty baubles that like a magpie I can’t help but snatch them up.  And I do.  But today they are going into a Sunday column of their own called Sunday Ramblings.

On Sunday mornings I like to nurse my coffee along, read The Washington Post as leisurely as I want without having to be too organized.  So I am going to separate these two things (the schedule and scattered thoughts) out and see what happens.  Maybe I will like it and maybe I won’t.  Who knows?  Today’s ramblings will be posted in an hour or so.  What captured my thoughts and whimsey today?  Words.  I love words.  And new ones were just accepted into the dictionary.  So be on the look out for It’s All In How You Word It, my first Scattered Thoughts Sunday Ramblings.

Now, this coming week, we really will have the two book contest and author blog from Kendall McKenna. Her new book is superb and I can’t wait to give away a copy and that of the first book in the series, Strength of the Pack.  I am also continuing the L.E. Harner series, Triple Threat before moving on to the last author and series in the Pulp Friction offerings.

It’s a great day and a wonderful week ahead.  Please join me all week.  I look forward to hearing from you.

This week’s schedule:

Mon, Sept 9:         Kendall McKenna Guest Blog Part 1 – Start of contest
Tues., Sept.10:      Repost: Strength of the Pack review
Wed.,Sept 11        Kendall McKenna Guest Blog Part 2,winner of 1st book announced, start contest for 2nd book
Thurs., Sept 12:    Review : Strength of the Wolf, Winner of Strength of the Wolf announced
Friday, Sept. 13:   Defiance (Triple Threat #3) by L.E. Harner
Sat., Sept. 14:        A Surprise!

Review: Retribution (Triple Threat #2) by L.E. Harner

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Triple Threat Retribution coverWhen Archer Wilde gave Zachary, his husband of 15 years, a submissive named Jeremiah for a year, he never anticipated the fallout that was to come.  Both Archer and Zachary are Master Doms, and only within their relationship, does Zachary take a submissive posture.  So Archer thought a  submissive of his own would make Zachary happy.  But the reality was exactly the opposite and it threatens to destroy their happy and balanced loving relationship of 15 years, one they have worked hard to achieve.

Submissive Jeremiah has a signed contract and nothing else.  He had hoped to find a loving home and a Master Dom to teach him the ways of the lifestyle he needs in order to be whole.  Instead he finds a household in discord because of his presence and the very real possibility that he will be asked to leave before he even is given a chance to prove himself.

Jeremiah’s predicament leads him to make a disastrous decision.  He calls on an abusive Dom who has a grudge against Archer and Zachary to train him. When Jeremiah disappears, Archer and Zachary race against time before the damage inflicted upon their boy is too deep to undo.  This time, their retribution is personal.

What an astonishing book and series!  With every new development, the characters and their relationships just get more layered with an authentically human  feel to them.  Retribution picks up exactly where Triple Threat left off.  Zachary and Archer have retired to their bedroom ostensibly to talk about Jeremiah but instead they proceed to have white hot sex. Sex that will both reassure them of their love and reestablish a connection that Archer almost broke with his unwanted gift of Jeremiah to Zachary.  That Jeremiah is not exactly welcome is now obvious to Archer’s dismay.   Harner’s characterizations are perfection.  We can see Archer Wilde making this error in judgement because he so rarely doubts his own brilliance that he thinks he knows what is best for all around him.  Plus Archer has made that all too human mistake of forgetting just who his partner is because the years together has lulled them into complacency.

As with Archer, Zachary too is a beautifully realized portrait of a man stunned by his lover’s actions.  It shakes him to his core and not just because he didn’t see it coming.  It turns out that a  past trauma involving a prior submissive of Zachary’s have left Zach scarred and unable to make that commitment again.  All of these mens flaws come to the surface with one bad decision and the one to pay is Jeremiah.

L.E. Harner certainly knows how to build the suspense into a plot.  When Jeremiah disappears, the reader immediately knows something awful has occured. But what had happened and where was Jeremiah?  The answers to those questions are guaranteed to raise the reader’s anxiety, making us despair for Jeremiah’s safety.   Harner’s narrative threatens danger at every curve and a certainty that violence is lurking near the end.  I loved every minute of Retribution.  And that includes the ending.

The characters here have issues to settle amongst themselves,  and by the end of this story, Archer, Zach and Jeremiah are on their ways to resolving some of them.  But not all.  And those unresolved issues will be carried into the following stories.   This aspect of the series continues to give these characters and their relationship a very human feel.  I have always felt that it is a human being’s flaws, not their perfections, that help to connect them with their fellow beings.  And that is as true in fiction as it is in real life.  L.E. Harner recognizes that fact and builds it into her stories and people.

So go and pick up this story and make a commitment to this remarkable series.  But make sure you start at the beginning story, Triple Threat, and work your way through as these are not stand alone tales and need to be read in the order they were written.  For those of you who hesitate when seeing that elements of bdsm (D/s relationships) and threesomes are present,  don’t let this stop you with this series.  It works, it feels real, and you will come to love the men involved just as I do.

Books in the Triple Threat series to date are:

Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1)
Retribution  (Triple Threat #2)
Defiance (Triple Threat #3)
Crucify (Triple Threat #4)

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 1st 2013 by Hot Corner Press
ISBN13 9781937252489
edition language English
series Triple Threat

Review: Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1) by L. E. Harner

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Triple Threat #1Private investigators and partners of over 14 years, Zachary>>>>> and Archer Wilde have been happy together or at least Zachary thought so.  Both were well known Master Doms when they met all those years ago, and it took Archer every bit of three years to woo Zachary and get him to submit.  From there on, they were inseparable, as lovers and owners of one of the most popular and exclusive BDSM clubs.  Then they sold the club, settling into a life of semi retirement as partners of a discreet recovery business with Archer taking only those cases that interested him and leaving Zachary’s life as a Dom in the past.  But all that is about to change….

Archer is finding that their successful recover business is taking up too much of Zachary’s time, so Archer buys a personal assistant for Zachary,  the submissive Jeremiah,  thinking that will make his lover happy.  It doesn’t.   With their delicate balance upset, the men must still investigate the case of the missing insurance millions while trying to deal with each other and the addition of a third.   Can the three men pull together to become a triple threat or will Jeremiah tear Zachary and Archer apart for good?

Triple Threat and its series are a part of the Pulp Friction offerings from authors Havan Fellows, L.E. Harner, Lee Brazil and T.A. Webb that feature a loose circle of friends and acquaintances. And as with the other series, Triple Threat is turning out to be just as terrific and substantial an offering as the rest of the stories.

It also marks a sort of departure for me as m/m/m and D/s are not the normal stories I reach out for when looking for reading material.  But L.E. Harner does a remarkable job in not only creating characters one can relate to, she also makes the D/s BDSM lifestyle accessible and understandable to those unfamiliar with that life choice and sexual kink.  I can honestly say that I enjoyed the relationships that develop within the story as well as those that were already established and I think others will too. The ease with which I connected with these characters and their situation is  due primary to the wonderful writing style and character creations of L.E. Harner.

First, the characters.  The pov is that of Zachary, Master Dom and submissive lover of Archer Wilde, a wealthy, brilliant man who also happens to be a Master Dom as well.  Zachary’s voice is everything I have come to expect of the narrators in the Pulp Friction series.  It is the wry, self depreciating, older voice of a man who has seen and done it all and come out the other side surprisingly content. At least that is the man we meet at the start of the story.  A man whose continued calm, happy lifestyle is about to be upended.  I love Zachary.  As with all the characters found within, he is a man of many layers. Here is our first taste of Zachary and Archer:

“Margaret Blackwell,” I murmured as I led the impeccably clad young woman into the bright morning light of the glass ceilinged solarium. A small gasp escaped her lips as the tall, powerfully built man stood from the table where we’d been sharing a leisurely breakfast minutes before. He unfolded himself into his full height, and she sighed. I understood her sentiment completely.

“Miss Blackwell, may I present Archer Wilde.”

They met in the middle of the solarium, and Archer politely shook the limply proffered hand.

“Please, have a seat. Can Zachary bring you anything? Coffee? Hot tea?”

“No, thank you.” Margaret sat at the edge of the chair, her back ramrod straight and ankles demurely crossed. My, my. Someone attended cotillion as a teen.

“Zachary? Won’t you sit and join us?” Archer’s eyes sparkled with mischief and I couldn’t resist smiling back.

“No, thank you Archer, I think I’ll stand this morning.” We shared a look, then he turned his attention to his guest.

“How may I help you, Miss Blackwell?”

“I want you to find my husband, Mr. Wilde.”

“I see. I’m afraid there’s been some misunderstanding. I…we…”—he inclined his head to include me—“don’t take on missing persons cases. Those are best handled by the proper authorities.”

“I’m afraid that’s impossible. Nona Wilkerson says you are exactly what I need.”

“Ahh…the delightful Miss Wilkerson. You intrigue me. Is your husband in some sort of trouble?”

“My husband is dead, Mr. Wilde.”

Huh. That was a new one.

Just from that scene alone we understand not only who Zachary is but get a glimpse into their relationship as well.  Zachary is the rough to Archer’s refinement and it works perfectly for them both.  At least until now.

Just when we think we know who Zachary is, Harner surprises us with more information about his past that makes the reader reevaluate everything they thought they knew about the man and his motives. The twists and turns here are fabulous.  That Zachary is both a Master Dom and a submissive would be contradictory except that he is only submissive for Archer.  That fact is the key to understanding why Archer would upset the balance the two men have worked so hard to achieve for years.  That plus the fact that Archer’s brilliance doesn’t always means he’s correct in his assumptions.  Like every other character, Archer is full of flaws, he is human and therefore, will make more than his share of mistakes, especially in his relationship with Zachary.

Then Jeremiah arrives on the scene to Archer’s glee and Zachary’s dismay. This is a neat touch.  It upsets an established couple of 15 years.  It shows that Archer had not completely thought through his actions and makes Zachary deal with an aspect of his past he had pushed away. But of all the characters I had to work harder to understand Jeremiah.  A submissive mindset is not one that I can relate to so Jeremiah took time to connect with.   But again, Harner let’s us close to Jeremiah and his needs that it soon becomes clear that this is part of Jeremiah’s nature and he needs it to be whole.  I like that we also see that Jeremiah is also young, highly intelligent and naive in some respects.  It makes his submissive nature easier to connect with, especially as he becomes the third in an already established relationship.

The case of the missing insurance money also turned out to be more finely layered than I had anticipated.   It turned out to involve someone from both Zachary and Archer’s past.  It’s another terrific aspect of this story and the series as it has implications down the line for them all.

Are there scenes of BDSM? Yes and they are well done but not as explicit as you might think. So those of you are uncomfortable with the D/s element will still be able to enjoy the story.  Same goes for the m/m/m aspect as well.  It works here and you will come to care for all  of these men, not just Zachary and Archer.   Wick Templeton and Chance Dumont, or at least the Chances Are bar makes appearances.  You will be as happy to see them as I was.   Plus we get a few more details as to Wick’s background that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Triple Threat is the wonderful start to a great series.  It surprised me and drew me right in.  I think it will do the same for you.  All the stories in this series and the Pulp Friction group are short in length but large in characterization and plot.  Pick it up now, and settle in for a wonderful read.

Cover art by Laura E. Harner.  It’s delicious and perfect for the book and series.

Book Details:

ebook, 1
Published January 31st 2013 by Hot Corner Press (first published January 13th 2013)
ISBN13 9781937252366
edition language English
series Triple Threat

It’s All In The Writing, Folks and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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To prepare for my time at GRL in Atlanta in October, I am trying to get ahead in my reviews for September and October.  And that means reading tons of books and of course writing about them.  And books read in volume will highlight the most common flaws I am seeing across the boards from person reading stacks of booksauthors seasoned and brand new to publishing.  Surprisingly it’s not one sided.  Just yesterday I finished a book from a favorite author of mine only to get to the end and find that not only did the story not have an ending, it was missing a hugely anticipated “aha” moment.  I was astonished, and quite a bit frustrated to say the least.

I don’t know what is going on but these same issues are everywhere and I am not the only one who has noticed.  Currently I am working on my next mini rant “The Case of the Missing Aha Moment”.  It will pair up nicely with my mini rant on missing endings.  *shakes head*  Really there is no excuse.  The most immediate remedies to these issues that pop into my brain are 1) get a great editor and 2) super concrit partners or betas.  Both could and should point out issues such as these in a person’s writing.

For a humorous look  at writing do’s and mostly don’ts visit  http://tom.mcallister.ws/?p=868. It’s Tom McAllister’s 107 Ironclad Rules for Writers Who Want to Be Better at Writing.  Some I agree with and of course, some I don’t.  But they are fun, and thought provoking.  Here are the first six to give you a sample:

1. Write every day. Except on days when you don’t feel like writing that much and you don’t have anything interesting to say.

2. Never write when you’re too hot. Beads of sweat are ideas leaking from your brain.

3. Nobody really eats turnips. They are a ridiculous food. Characters cannot eat turnips.

4. Hypnosis is the writer’s greatest tool.

5. Skinny people are often the cause of conflict. Fat people are often the solution. NO MEDIUM SIZED PEOPLE.

6. If you must write about the travails of being a writer, at least give yourself a glass eye or a cyborg hand or something.

If you want to read more, check out the link above.  Next week we will talk about the new words added to the dictionary.  Srsly?

Now on to the very exciting week ahead.  Next week I start on the third series in the offerings from the Pulp Friction authors.  This is the Triple Threat series from L.E. Harner.  It’s menage, it’s kinky, and its wonderful.   And drumroll please…….Kendall McKenna is also releasing her long awaited sequel to Strength of the Pack.  It’s titled Strength of the Wolf and it releases Sept. 6th from MLR Press.  To celebrate, Scattered Thoughts is hosting a 2 part guest blog with Kendall McKenna and a two book contest for a lucky person who comments during the contest time.  Might even be another surprise giveaway too, more about that later.  So many great things to look forward to.  Mark your calendars, and check them twice.  Hope to see you all here all week long.

Monday, Sept. 2:                   Coliseum Square by Lynn Lorenz

Tuesday, Sept. 3:                   Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1) by L.E. Harner

Wed., Sept. 4:                          Contest Announcement and Dates

Thurs., Sept 5:                        Kendall McKenna’s Guest Blog – Part 1

Friday, Sept. 6:                       Strength of the Pack  by Kendall McKenna – Review (reposted)

Sat., Sept. 7:                            Kendall McKenna’s Guest Blog – Part 2
Winner of first contest announced

For those of you here in the States, have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

Scattered Thoughts Summary of Reviews for August 2013

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August banner with pencils

August 2013 Review and Blog Summary:

5 Star Rating:

Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #4) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4) by Havan Fellows, contemporary
Wicked Incarcerations (Wicked’s Way #3) by Havan Fellows contemporarysummer images with book

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1) by Lee Brazil (4.5 stars) contemporary
Dance Only For Me (Dance With The Devil #6) by Megan Derr (4.75 stars) fantasy
Demolished by Astrid Amara (4 stars), contemporary
Home Sweet Home (Home #5) by T.A. Chase, (4.5 stars) contemporary
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2) by Lee Brazil
The Beast Without by Christian Baines (4.75 stars) supernatural
Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5) by Erica Pike (4 stars) contemporary
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Ways #2) by Havan Fellows
Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Ways #1) by Havan Fellows

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Burden by Annmarie McKenna (3.5 stars) contemporary
Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbon (3.75 stars) fantasy
Fall For Me (Rock Gods #1) by Ann Lister, contemporary
Handle With Care by Josephine Myles (3.5 stars) contemporary
Mixed Tapes, Vol. 2 by Kris Jacen editor (3.5 stars) contemporary
Nischal (Leopard’s Spots #9) by Bailey Bradford (3.75 stars) supernatural
Subtle Innuendos (Mixed Tape series) by Z. Allora (3 stars) contemporary
The Boy Who Came In From The Cold by B.G. Thomas ((3 stars) contemporary

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Queen’s Librarian by Carole Cummings (2.75 stars) fantasy

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:

Aching For It (Dominican Heat #1) by Stanley Bennett Clay (1 star) contemporary

Other Blogs:
Author Spotlight: Havan Fellows    
Author Spotlight: Lee Brazil
Wait? That Was The Ending? A Writing Mini rant From Scattered Thoughts