An Alisa Review: Tricks and Bids (Suit of Harte’s #1) by Jacqueline Grey

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

tricks-and-bidsWhen Michael Nole propositions Dillon Spade outside of a BDSM club one evening, all he is looking for is a potential client and a little kink, but he gets much more than he bargained for.  As a prostitute, Michael enjoys sex but keeps an emotional distance between himself and the men he sleeps with.  His priority is to keep himself safe, but after a night in Dillon’s bed, he finds the line between enjoyment and occupation becoming blurrier than usual.

 

Dillon Spade hasn’t taken another man home in six years since his previous lover passed away, but there is something about Michael that calls to his inner Dominant in a way he cannot resist.  His instincts want to claim the boy even as he reminds himself that he is only paying Michael for temporary company.

 

Their relationship may have started as a business transaction, but these two are finding it difficult to remain professional when the man beside them is proving to be an exception to all the rules.

 

Michael is a young man who accidentally fell into prostitution and doesn’t really see anything else he can do.  When he decides to look for a little kink for the night he approaches Dillon and gets more than he bargained for.  Dillon controls Michael so well; he has trouble remembering what their relationship really is.

 

Michael and Dillon both know that they have a bigger connection than client and prostitute, but one of them has to break first.  Dillon begins to think of Michael as his and has more and more trouble saying goodbye.  Michael runs at the thought of something serious, but it’s more that he’s scared he wants it than that he doesn’t and what that might mean.  Michael and Dillon are both pretty innocent when it comes to relationships as Dillon has only had one and Michael never has.  We see both of them open themselves up to the idea of having someone permanent in their lives.

 

The cover art is very nice and gives a good visual for the characters.

 

Sales Link: Resplendence Publishing | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 66 pages

Published: September 24, 2014 by Resplendence Publishing

ISBN: 9781607358121

Edition Language: English

Series: Suit of Harte’s #1

In the Fantasy Spotlight: Victory Portrait (Pride of Uttor #4) by Tali Spencer (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Victory Portrait (Pride of Uttor #4) by Tali Spencer
Release Date: April 6, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Cover Artist: Melody Pond

Today Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is very lucky to be interviewing Tali Spencer, author of Victory Portrait.   Hi Tali, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

  • Tell us something no one else knows about your characters.

Darius Arrento has been intimate with his emperor, and friend, Gaspar Leonnte. It happened when Darius was 25 and Gaspar was 19 or 20. Darius was a young officer given his first command and Gaspar was assigned to his unit. The legion’s general knew Gaspar was the Uttoran emperor’s son, except he didn’t pass along that information.

Gaspar was a terrible soldier, horrible. He couldn’t obey orders to save his life. Worse, if he started talking, he didn’t know when to shut up. Darius was ready to strangle him the first night. After a battle in which both men barely escaped with their skins, Darius and Gaspar gave in to a kiss and a night of oral sex. They connected more than once, in no small part due to being young, horny, and having no other outlets.

You heard it here first.

  • Have you ever written something that made you cry?

I cried when I wrote a hurt-comfort scene in one of my epic high fantasy novels. A king had just lost his adult son. The young man who seeks to comfort the king has considered him an enemy throughout the entire book to that point, but he can no longer do so, and the scene is very tender.

I was writing that scene on a terrible day when I thought maybe my oldest son had died. (He hadn’t…and called me after several hours. It was 9/11.) That scene still makes me cry when I read it.

  • Have you ever co-written with someone before?

Non-fiction, yes. Fiction, no. Some authors are very social and thrive on the energy of writing with other authors. I have the habits of a recluse: silent, secretive, and annoying. It’s a miracle I have a happy marriage. I’d be surprised if another author could put up with me.

  • What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

Promotion. But that’s more about being an author than the writing, so…I would say I find it most difficult to end a story on a strong note. Even if I know where a story has to end, I’m never quite satisfied with my closing line. I want something memorable, definite, and profound. Haven’t managed to write one of those yet.

  • Name your four most important food groups.

Coffee, coffee, chocolate, coffee, and dairy. Kahlua counts as coffee. Dairy means creamer. I’m pretty sure I don’t like coffee at all. It’s all about the creamer.

Thank you, Tali.  Now more about

Victory Portrait (Pride of Uttor #4) by Tali Spencer

Blurb

Imperial captive and former Sebboyan prince Peta Kordeun has one great wish: to meet Darius Arrento, conqueror of his country and a man he has idolized since childhood. That wish comes true the day the Uttoran emperor assigns Peta to assist the artist who will be painting the great general’s official portrait.

General Darius Arrento would rather take a crossbow bolt through his flesh than sit for a portrait, until his friend the emperor forces his hand. The notorious artist, Brazzi, uses semen and other sexual fluids to bind his colors—and Arrento is captivated by the artist’s pretty helper. Before long he is driven to possess the gorgeous young man who draws battle maps and whose naïve charm has won more hearts in Uttor than Arrento has won battles.

When Arrento learns that Peta, the slave he covets and wants for his own, is one of the despised Kordeun princes, he storms from Uttor toward a far corner of the empire—where he quickly finds himself embroiled in a plot to tear Uttor’s empire apart. His emotions and loyalties frayed, the great Arrento is in the battle of his life…and Peta may hold the key to his survival.

 

Pages or Words: 78,600 words
Categories: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Excerpt

“You want me to assist the painter. Only that?” Peta asked.

“Yes. I just want you to understand you will be naked and…Brazzi will want you to be sexually aroused.”

“What?”

“It’s what Brazzi does. Not for himself—not unless you’re a woman—but for his method. He was tried three years ago on charges of obscenity because he uses…sexual fluids for mixing his paint. He truly is a genius. His colors are astonishing.”

“And you want Arrento to see me like that? Naked and…being used?”

“No.” Gaspar was being firm. “I want a portrait of my general. And I happen to think that the sight of you will keep his ass firmly planted for whatever sittings the painter requires. You see, Darius has one weakness—only one. He cannot resist a thing of beauty—and you, my pretty slave, are the most breathtaking young man I have ever had the privilege to look upon.”

Peta flushed. Gaspar wasn’t smiling. The man was serious.

Could he do it? Did he want to do it? Peta knew he was pretty. His looks had blessed and cursed him all his life. His beauty had attracted Kesme as a fellow cadet and was what Kesme had praised that last night when they’d made love…and Peta’s face was what Lukacz, his own father, had sought to destroy, thinking that doing so would release him from predation and unnatural desires. And now Gaspar, too, wanted only one thing…

“Just sit there and look pretty,” he said, heart sinking as he grasped what Gaspar was asking him to do.

“Only if you’re willing. I’m not completely oblivious to what this sort of service might entail. It could be rather…awkward. On the other hand, it might not be for long. Darius can be stubborn. It’s possible he won’t show up.”

And just as possible that he would.

Peta wanted to say no but he could not get his mouth to form the word. He might never get another chance to see Arrento, perhaps hear his voice. Be in the same room with him.

He’d be silent…naked…terribly exposed even in his utter worship.

But he would at least be able to say he had seen the great man.

“I’ll do it,” he said.

Buy the book

Resplendence Publishing | Amazon | ARe

 

RC

 

Meet the author:

Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, check out her Pinterest boards.

Thanks to a restless father, she grew up as a bit of a nomad and still loves to travel whenever she can. Her longest stint in one place was Milwaukee where she went to college, enjoyed a series of interesting careers, and raised three surprisingly well-adjusted sons. She later married her true love and put down new roots in Philadelphia, where she lives in an ongoing Italian American family sitcom. At least she’s learned how make good pasta. When not writing, Tali reads everything from sweet goofy romances to medical research, manages her fantasy football team—go Gekkos!—and takes long walks with her loving, if slightly neurotic, poodle.

Tali’s other books include the three preceding Uttor books: Captive Heart, Dangerous Beauty, and Adored, all with Resplendence. Her gay male high fantasy stories, Thick as Thieves, Sorcerer’s Knot, and The Prince of Winds, are published by Dreamspinner Press. She often posts free stories and excerpts on her blog.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

18-Apr: Prism Book Alliance

19-Apr: Decadent Delights

20-Apr: Bonkers About Books, Full Moon Dreaming

21-Apr: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

22-Apr: Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

25-Apr: The Novel Approach, Happily Ever Chapter

26-Apr: BFD Book Blog

27-Apr: My Fiction Nook

28-Apr: Bayou Book Junkie, V’s Reads

29-Apr: Oh My Shelves

2-May: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Book Lovers 4Ever

3-May: Kirsty Loves Books, Open Skye Book Reviews

4-May: Alpha Book Club

5-May: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

6-May: Molly Lolly

9-May: A.M. Leibowitz

10-May: Divine Magazine

11-May: Love Bytes, Man2ManTastic, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat

12-May: Andrew Q. Gordon, Nephy Hart, Rebecca Cohen Writes

13-May: Louise Lyons, MM Good Book Reviews

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Giveaway

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A Sammy Review: In the Shadow of a Hero by Anna Mayle

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

“How much is a kiss worth? Or a hopeless relationship?”

Nick shook his head. “With the right person, it would be worth everything.”

In the Shadow of a Hero coverLife for Maxwell Thomas has not been easy. As a child, he had some light in the form of his father, Momma D, and the man who took them in and created a family with them, Detective Nathaniel Wraithe. But even those lights were put out by a tragic incident, and now Maxwell lives with blood on his hands.

He’s become a wanderer, one of the many homeless in the city who blends into the brick walls and fire escapes. One night, while on one of those fire escapes, he witnesses a young boy being attacked. Torn, he makes a move to save the boy, but gets a whole lot more than he bargained on and the one choice to step in brings a devil from his past back.

On top of it all, beat cop Nick Kenna has taken an interest in Maxwell, putting him right in the middle of the mess unfolding right before them.

Nick had never been so confused about what he wanted. Everything had been so straightforward before, black and white as the Ford Crown Victoria model police cruisers at the station. Maxwell existed in the gray so completely that Nick didn’t know how to relate to him. Everything was measured on a sliding scale in Maxwell’s mind. The world wasn’t static, it moved and breathed and Maxwell had become more than adept at rolling with the motion of it.

Though it took me a while to actually get into this book, I ended up enjoying myself. It wasn’t necessarily a mystery, as we pretty much knew who was doing what, but it definitely had some elements of suspense that I really appreciate in my books. It also had parts that verged on dark, but never really quite crossed the mark for me, but still, it was a nice read.

Nick was a very lovable character. It was strange for me to read about a kind of clumsy cop who really isn’t cut out to be a detective. Usually in books with a cop as the main character, they are really good at their job, but Nick was more of just a really good guy who wanted to help people and did that through being a beat cop. It was different and a bit refreshing.

Maxwell, on the other hand, was entirely self-destructive and I felt for him. Unfortunately, for some reason, his thoughts in my ebook were not italicized, which was quite jarring for me at first. It felt like the perspective was switching on me super quickly, but I eventually garnered that those parts were meant to be thoughts, but for a while it was quite difficult for me to get used to.

They made an interesting pair, and while I felt their connection, I almost wish I felt it just a bit more. The tension could’ve been written with a bit more thickness, but in general, the story was nice.

One of the parts that I am pretty dissatisfied is the ending. I really wanted to know the resolution of all the dirty cops and see them meet up with the agent one more time. It just felt there needed to be some closure for that element of the story. Still, I’d definitely be on the lookout for more by this author. I feel like she has a lot of great potential.

The cover art by Les Byerley is, unfortunately, not a good indication of the story within. It makes it look like there may be some kind of sci-fi element, but there’s not, and in general, the cover is just not appealing.

Sales Links:  Resplendence Publishing All Romance (ARe) Amazon / Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 225 pages
Published June 22nd 2011 by Resplendence Publishing
original titleIn the Shadow of a Hero
ISBN139781607353430
edition languageEnglish

Review: Wolf Run by B.A. Tortuga

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Wolf Run coverLone wolf Mick Eagleheart is just passing through the small town of Arroyo Seco in New Mexico when an intriguing scent catches his interest.  Following his nose, the scent trail leads him to a battered Airstream trailer out in the scrub lands and a young wolf shifter running the fence line that  surrounds the place.  At first Mick is outraged that someone should cage up a wolf pup so.  But the story behind the pup and the sad trailer is anything but what Mick expected.

The young wolf’s name is Scotty Miller.  And instead of being abused, he is being taken care of by his young mate, Daniel, to the best of young Daniel’s ability.  Thrown out of their pack by their Alpha, the young mated pair is barely making it on the money Daniel makes washing dishes and cleaning up at the local diner.  Starving, exhausted and working too many hours, Daniel no longer shifts at the full moon.  Scotty is cute, spends most of his time in wolf form and is far too scattered to hold down a job.  Two young wolves who need help and quick.

Mick is lonely and has been looking for a mate to settle down with.  But after meeting Scotty and Daniel, Mick realizes not only that they need him badly but they might just be the mates he needs too.  Two are better than one when you are a wolf, but three is better still…it’s a pack.  Now only if he can convince Scotty and Daniel of that fact.

I am such a fan of B.A. Tortuga and this story is an excellent reason why.  B.A. Tortuga takes the wolf shifter genre and puts her own quirky Tortuga spin on it with Wolf Run, her m/m/m wolfshifter story.  One of the delights of a Tortuga tale is the dialog and behaviors of her characters.  The dialog sparkles and dances, full of colloquialisms and regional sayings that not only give a character a geographical foundation but a cultural one as well.  And the behaviors of her characters can be counted on to jump, bump, and sometimes grind, as full of sexuality, fun and vivacity as can be.  In short, a B.A. Tortuga story is fun, sexy, a romp you won’t want to miss and those words are perfect to describe Wolf Run!

Tortuga’s wolf shifters maintain a lot of their animalistic behaviors and that’s an element I really appreciate.  Like most canines, high on their priority list is food, sex, and companionship, in other words pack.  Whether it is from association with her own Bassett hounds or research, this author is connected to her canines and it shows.  The  purposeful interest with which Mick approaches the fence as well as the cautious and respectful manner Scotty, in wolf form, greets Alpha wolf Mick bespeaks of canine greeting behavior with all its mannerisms intact.  That element of bringing a realistic wolf conduct into the actions of the characters continues throughout the story.  It’s never overdone but it’s a consistent part of their personas and lives and its gives this fun loving story an unexpected depth.

Some readers might shy away from a m/m/m storyline but it works beautifully here.  Wolves are a pack animal and never have I read about two young wolf shifters in need of an older Alpha lover than Scotty and Daniel.  Adding Mick Eagleheart to their relationship not only makes sense but its so sexy as well.  Daniel has been trying to be an Alpha he’s not and he’s failing to meet not only Scotty’s needs but his own.  It’s a poignant, loving, and desperate situation that Scotty and Daniel find themselves in when Mick happens along and enters their lives.  Of the two young wolves, Daniel’s existence is the most precarious.  But we don’t realize that fact immediately.  B.A. Tortuga slowly leads us and Mick to that conclusion as their story reveals itself and more of their back history comes to light.

That’s another reason I love this author.  Even if you have a story that comes with a “lighthearted, sexy, fun” label, the sadness and pain that life delivers up is only as far away as the next dirt road and bad paying job.  B.A. Tortuga never forgets that.  A hint of darkness, a dash of hurt, those exist within the parameters of a Tortuga storyline along with the fun and joy and exuberance to be found there.

One of the issues I see with B.A. Tortuga’s stories is that she makes what she accomplishes with them look so easy to do.  The words, characters, and situations just flow off the page without a hint of the complex edifice beneath it.   The realistic behaviors folded into a human reference?  The dialog that snaps, sings, and yet remains individualistic?  The settings and locales that breathe of desert air and the desperation of a poor economy?  It’s all there, even if its impact is never fully noticed.

Part of my job as a reviewer is to take apart a story to see how it well it was written, if the characters, structure, and plot pull together for a joyous reading experience.  I can say wholeheartedly that B.A. Tortuga has always delivered that for me and Wolf Run is another “home run” for this prolific author.

If you are new to B.A. Tortuga, well, you lucky person, you!  There is a whole backlist to read your way through.  If you love wolfshifters, this is a lovely place to start.  Then work your way over to her cowboys and bull riders and such.  If you are already a B.A. Tortuga fan, add this to be TBR pile.  To all of you, happy reading!

This is how it starts (Wolf Run excerpt):

Mick liked to go for a wander. His wolf form was perfect for it, too. No need for a backpack or a water bottle. Sure, the occasional hunter or farmer tried to shoot him, but then he’d just flash into his feral wolf form and scare the bejeezus out of them.

That was pretty fun, too.

Today, he was on the outskirts of Taos, where he’d left his truck, in a wee town called Arroyo Seco. Dry gulch. How hilarious was that? He’d sniffed around and growled away a couple of big herding dogs, but now, something else caught his nose. A scent he knew but was unfamiliar at the same time.

The scent of someone like him. Not from his clan, but a wolf like him.

His head tilted, and he started moving closer, nose working hard. Sweet, sharp. Nummy. Definitely male, which was his preference. Young enough to intrigue him.

The scrub out here was sparse. Trailer homes were scattered like giant building blocks. There was an old Airstream trailer that sat back on its own, surrounded by a fence improvised out of scrub, wood and wire.

Inside, a young wolf ran from one end of the makeshift yard to the other, over and over.

Pretty. Gray. Tail like a plume. Nice.

Skinny though and a little desperate, running in circles to relieve stress. Poor baby. Who had him all penned up? The place was like a bad dog run. Only it was a wolf run, right?

Mick slowed, letting the pup see him, scent him, and the sweet skinny thing stopped and stared at him, tail drooping. Mick let his tail lift and wag. No sense not being friendly.

The pup came to the fence. Tail beginning to swipe back and forth, the youngster barked happily, greeting him.

 

 

Cover art by Kris Norris. Great sexy cover, wish I had a little more of the wolf here.

Buy Links:   Resplendence Publishing       ARe          Amazon   Wolf Run

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 118 pages
Published June 4th 2014 by Resplendence Publishing
ASINB00KRVSCAC
m/m/m wolf shifter story

Review of Love in La Terraza by Ethan Day

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Rating: 3.85 stars

Cain Elliot is desperate beyond measure and about to give up all hope.  His grandmother entrusted La Terreza, her 1920’s Spanish courtyard apartment complex to him after her death.  La Terraza is special in so many ways, its beautiful  architecture, its magical  courtyard and of course, the unique group of characters that have come to live there over the years, including himself.  And now he is about to let them all down.  La Terraza needs a multitude of repairs to meet code and Cain doesn’t have the money.  He has been to bank after bank to no avail and he is close to bankruptcy.

To make matters worse, there is a real estate developer who is hounding Cain to sell, its tactics almost feeling like harassment in intensity. Feeling like an absolute failure after his last meeting at the bank, Cain heads over to Sully’s Tavern to meet up with his group of friends.  Also at the bar is Henry Abrams. Henry came to town to accept a position in the architectural firm Hamilton-Bach, so he is new, lonely and out looking around town.  He finds Cain and is immediately in lust but after their conversation and a night spent together, Henry finds that they have so much in common.  Cain and Henry really like each other, and Cain’s vulnerability brings out the need to protect him in Henry.Henry also falls in love with La Terraza, it’s magic and architectural beauty capturing his attention and admiration as much as its owner.   In a short amount of time, Cain and Henry finds themselves on the road to a real  relationship, the first for each of them in a long time.  And then Henry and Cain realize his new firm is the one working with the developer to acquire La Terraza.

Henry is horrified to find they want to tear it down, and Cain worries about Henry’s ties to a firm whose methods he thinks is disreputable. As the stress and tensions mount up, their new found relationship starts to fall apart.  Then the plumbing starts to fail at La Terraza and Cain has no money left to fix it.  Henry wants Cain to find happiness with him but at what cost? Cain must overcome doubt and his past. Henry must decide if what he wants is what Cain needs. In the middle of it all is  La Terraza’s future.

I have been a fan of Ethan Day’s since Sno Ho made its debut.  Ethan Day has such a winning way with his characterizations, snappy dialog and portrayals of love relationships from disastrous to dynamic that I eagerly await each new story from him.  Love in La Terraza is no exception.  It has all the earmarks of Day’s earlier lighthearted stories while still capturing some of the darker elements of his latter works.  Cain Elliot is absolultely a Ethan Day creation.  I could tell that immediately.  From his snarky voice, easy tolerance of quirky personas that surround him, and the “oh so happy to hop in bed with you, gorgeous” attitude that he presents Henry with the first night they meet, he is everything I love about  Ethan Day’s writing.  I adore Cain.  He is lovable, vulnerable, loyal and insecure about his abilities.  Henry is his wonderful counterpart.  Solid, ambitious, hardworking to a fault,  still he yearns for something more to his life and recognizes it in Cain.  It’s their hesitant fumble towards a relationship and mutual understanding that is the heart of this story.  Hearfelt, realistic, and full of missteps that occurs in most beginning relationships, it will speak to every person reading this story.

Also true to a Ethan Day novel are the wonderful oddballs that live in La Terraza and make up a core family group for Cain.  There’s the Scalia brothers, Vito and Tony,a pair of elderly men who play Frank Sinatra tunes, blasting them out into the courtyard, Mrs. Ruth Robinson, a grey panther married many times over and still going out on dates nightly, Eddie,  blind and a teacher at the school for the Blind and his boyfriend Matt, musicians Pixie and Thrash.  Thrash speaks as though he’s from England  but is actually from the Midwest, both are in a band, and Nic and Stu, her husband, a recently married couple playing at being hippies and close friends of Cain’s.  Each a splendid portrait of eccentric individuality. These people will absolutely engage your affections. They did mine.  I wanted to get to know all of them so much better.  In fact I wanted to move right into La Terraza and make myself at home with all of them.

La Terraza herself is that grand dame of Spanish buildings the shout out romance at  every cobblestone and ooze amore from it’s stuccoed walls.  I  wanted to be strolling through the courtyard myself, so vividly did Ethan Day describe her.  La Terraza is a character in her own right, sumptuous, a true classic beauty.  I wonder if  La Terraza exists outside of Ethan Day’s imagination, I hope so.  But either a figment  or reality, La Terraza lives on these pages.

There is so much to like here that I find it hard to bring up the quibbles I had with it. And that would be the secondary plot surrounding the group of  firms trying to take La Terraza away from Cain, no matter the legalities.  I won’t go into more details but I felt at times I was in another novel with this storyline.  It just did not seem to fit in with the romance between Cain and Henry because the way Day built up the relationship between the two men was so well done that the second section seemed almost clumsy in comparison.   I knew without a doubt before I even got halfway through the story what was going on with the building, who was doing it and who was the ultimate “bad guy” at the top of the evil chain.  In these economic times, it is easy to believe that Cain is having money flow issues to go with rehabbing an older structure without bringing in a melodrama that seeks to drown out everything with it’s exaggerated accompanying score.  Without the melodrama, this is a solid 4  star story.  Unfortunately, with the cloak and dagger stuff thrown in, it takes away from a wonderful romance and pulls it all back into a “nice story” category.

Ethan Day fans won’t want to pass this one up because it is an Ethan Day story.  For those of you new to the author, seek out his other books before you read this one.  Try Sno Ho for a wonderfully comedic bent on romance or At Piper’s Point, a more serious contemporary romance that gets it all right from beginning to end.  There are so many wonderful Ethan Day books out there.  I am just not sure this is one of them.

Cover art by Adrian Nicholas. The two men are lovely but the building standing in for La Terraza is a misstep.