Kelly Jensen on Behind the Story and her new release ‘Renewing Forever (This Time Forever #2)’ (guest blog and giveaway)

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Renewing Forever (This Time Forever #2) by Kelly Jensen

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: Natasha Snow

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kelly Jensen here today talking about the inspiration behind her new release, Renewing Forever (This Time Forever #2). Welcome, Kelly.

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Behind the Book by Kelly Jensen

I’m known in author circles for being super organized. I have templates for my outlines, I spreadsheet my revisions, and often write 6000 word character histories. The support documents for every book are indexed and hyperlinked. The bulleting in my outlines often goes four levels deep.

And yet…

My big book of ideas is spread over several notebooks that live in different places throughout my house. That way, if inspiration strikes, I have paper close at hand—which sounds a lot better than I just have notebooks everywhere, in no particular order! The notebooks have snippets of dialogues, entire scenes, outlines, character notes, and plot ideas. And they’re all mixed in together without any sort of indexing.

I usually know which book to reach for (or go hunting for) when I want to look something up, though, and I never mind having to flip through the notes for other projects along the way. Sometimes another idea will catch me, and I can make more notes, or sometimes one of my ideas leaps off the page and says, “Write me!”

The ideas for Renewing Forever came from two different notebooks. One had a few notes about Frank, jotted down after a beta reader for Building Forever asked if Frank’s book would be next. I had no plans to write a series, but I wrote the idea down, anyway, and tucked it away.

In another notebook, I had a brief outline for a story about a guy who was “camping out” in a dilapidated resort. About five years ago, we took a road trip to New Orleans and stayed at a quaint family resort in Tennessee. The guy manning the desk had the most amazing accent—and he was very cute! I immediately got an idea for a story involving someone trying to revitalize a rundown family resort, and maybe facing challenges from a local developer who wanted the land.

I’m not quite sure how these two ideas got combined? I think it was mostly a matter of me hunting through my notebooks for a story idea that would suit Frank. I like using and combining ideas I already have—it gives me a sense of accomplishment to cross something off what is probably a never ending list.

I quickly decided to switch up the imagined roles: Frank would be the one to inherit the resort and he’d return “home” to find someone living in one of the guest cottages. Then I decided to complicate everything by giving Frankie and Tommy a shared history—one where they’d been each other’s best friend and first love.

What I didn’t realize while plotting was quite how emotional this book would be to write. I’m reasonably emotional anyway—for me, watching the television show “This Is Us” is like combining a wedding, a funeral, and the birth of a new baby every week. I’m always completely drained afterward! So I often get a little weepy (sometimes a little sobby) while writing my guys. This book wrecked me in a lot of ways. Tom’s self-sabotaging self-reliance (or hubris), and Frank’s longing. Oh my goodness, the longing. He never got over Tom and likely never would have.

What I also wanted to do with this book was write a character (Tom) whose bisexuality was integral and almost never discussed. I didn’t want this story to be about sexuality. I wanted it to be about rekindling lost love—and holding on to something you never really let go of.

After all of this, I devised relatively simple plot: should they or shouldn’t they renovate the resort? Really, the plot is just a reflection of the bigger question in this novel: should they or shouldn’t they repair their friendship and love? The obstacles to both are Tom’s inability to ask for help—and the fact he’s not so slowly sliding down the financial gurgler—and Frank’s dissatisfaction with his current career, and to a smaller extent, his feelings regarding his best friend, Simon, having found The One. Frank thinks he’s getting over a crush on Simon, and he is… sort of. What he’s really doing is mourning The One who got away. The one he let go.

So there is a lot of introspection and reevaluation going on, and in keeping with the themes of this series, scenes that highlight the importance of family (blood and found), friendships, and lots of more lighthearted moments where Frank and Tom explore small town happenings and decide whether or not they’re going to renew their forever.

I hope you enjoy Frank and Tom’s story. It’s not quite as upbeat as the one I wrote for Simon and Charlie, but all of my characters are different, and therefore they require different stories. I love the one I wrote for Frank and Tom. It’s one to cherish, and one that still makes me misty eyed, all these months later.

 

Renewing Forever is the second of a series of standalone novels focused on older characters who think love has passed them by. Frank and Tom’s story is a true second chance romance, reuniting childhood friends and first loves separated by an argument and thirty years of misunderstanding. I hope you enjoy reading about their renewed friendship and their plans for forever.

 

About Renewing Forever

A neglected resort, a lost chance at love, and one last chance to renew forever.

Frankie and Tommy once dreamed of traveling the world together. But when seventeen-year-old Frank kissed Tom, their plans ended with a punch to the jaw and Frank leaving town without looking back. Thirty years later, Frank’s successful career as a journalist is interrupted by his uncle’s death and the question of his inheritance—the family resort where his childhood dreams were built. When he returns to the Pocono Mountains, however, he finds a dilapidated lodge and Tommy, the boy he never forgot.

Tom’s been keeping the resort together with spit and glue while caring for Frank’s uncle, Robert—a man he considered father, mentor, and friend—and his aged mother, who he refuses to leave behind. Now Robert is gone, taking Tom’s job with him. And Frank is on the doorstep, wanting to know why Tom is still there and why the old lodge is falling apart.

But before they can rebuild the resort, they’ll have to rebuild their friendship. Only then can they renew the forever they planned all those years ago.

Now available from Riptide Publishing!

 

About the This Time Forever Series

Small towns and second chances.

Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.

This time it’s forever.

This series includes:

  1. Building Forever — releasing October 15, available now!
  2. Renewing Forever — releasing November 12, available for preorder!
  3. Chasing Forever — releasing December 10, available soon!

About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly:

 


Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Renewing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 17, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: A Matter of Justice (Hong Kong Nights Book 3) by J.C. Long

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The battle between the Dragons of the Eastern District and their bitter rivals, the Twisted Vipers, is reaching a dangerous point. The Anti-Gang Task Force is hard at work trying to bring down the Vipers. Tensions ratchet when Johnny Hwang guns down a prominent inspector on the task force, and Conroy Wong, Wei Tseng’s second-in-command is a witness. Now, to keep him safe long enough to locate a second witness and put Hwang behind bars, Conroy is forced into close quarters with Allen Hong, a man who once fought side by side with the Dragons until he turned his back on them by joining the police, betraying them. As sparks fly between them once more, the two men must put aside their differences and work together, because the Twisted Vipers aren’t going to let Hwang go down without a fight.

A Matter of Justice (Hong Kong Nights Book 3) by J.C. Long is a tense, complicated and terrific novel. Gritty and intense, it delves into the corrupt landscape of triads, gang wars and bought cops in Hong Kong.  Throw in a old wounded romance between a triad member and a detective and all the elements are there for one memorable story.  Which is exactly what Long gives you.

My only issue is that it took some time to remember who all the cast of characters were.  This is  definitely not a standalone novel and the importance characters and their relationship to each other almost needs a chart at the beginning if you haven’t just read books one and two in the series.  Without all the relationship dynamics being fresh in my mind, it took a while to get into the story, hence the lower rating.  But once it snapped  back into place, then the story took off and I sunk deeply into the drama and fast paced action of a gang war under way and a heinous crime boss who will let nothing stand in his way of revenge.

Conroy Wong and Allen Hong are the reunited couple at the center, one a triad member and one a cop. I loved the tension and anger here.  I did have some issues with the sex scenes. Again, another reason for the lower rating.  Not the angry sex, no that made perfect sense given their past relationship and how it ended.  But that old “no just use spit” thing that keeps cropping up now and again.  Please can we all agree that this is just exceedingly painful and needs to disappear? I mean how realistic is this?  Especially when there was still some lube left to use.  Nope, it stopped me during their sex scene and it should have stopped them.  So yes, another drop in the rating there.  Just my opinion.  Otherwise one hot couple.

J.C. Long brings us into Hong Kong with the food, the people, and the language.  There’s even a dictionary Long supplies for us at the back.  Very revealing, especially about some of the epitaphs hurled during the story.  It definitely sinks you into the city and the situation.

I recommend the series but for clarity purposes, read the stories close together.  It helps keeping all the people and their relationships fresh in your mind as many as they are.  But its one thrilling ride of a narrative and some wonderful couples.  I’m recommending them if you like action, law enforcement stories and in this case, lovers reunited.

Cover art: Natasha Snow is dramatic and works for the story and location.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 301 pages
Published February 26th 2018 by NineStar Press
ASINB079PL9FG6

Honk Kong Nights Series:

A Matter of Duty (Hong Kong Nights Book 1)

Megan Derr on How the Trilogy Came About and her latest release ‘Waiting for You’ by Megan Derr (guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Waiting for You

Series: Lifesworn, Book 1

Author: Megan Derr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 5, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male/Female (Male/Male interaction)

Length: 40000

Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, friends to lovers, reunited, royalty, bodyguard, established couple, political, spies

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How the Trilogy Came About by Megan Derr

So a question that crops up pretty often is what comes first, plot, setting, or characters? For me, that varies from story to story. This particular one started with the characters and some of the plot (I wrote another post on the exact inspiration for this story).  I had a princess in danger, a prince, and his bodyguard, and an eventual threesome. I had an evil parent (though father become stepfather).

Since this had originally been meant as an erotic short for ARe, I decided to keep the setting simple. Two countries, one with obvious medieval Europe influences, the other with medieval Middle East influences. No magic. Pretty confined plot, in that there’s a small cast and they don’t move between a whole lot of locations. But as is my want and practice, I also built a world where all things queer are accepted. Her stepfather hates her, but only because she’s a threat to his power, not because she’s bisexual. It doesn’t matter to him if she marries a man or a woman, if they’re cis or trans. He just wants her out of the way or under his control once and for all.

And I felt it was important to lay out how this story came about, because there’s this idea that persists in writing, in art, that we must wait for inspiration! and be struck by muses! and listen to the voices! and that to purposely write something with a goal like money in mind makes us less. And that’s stupid and worse harmful. I always write what I want, but sometimes what I want is something that does not tax and exhaust me the way High King or Dance-verse or Tavamara-verse does, something that is easy to write, appealing to more readers than usual (since queer fantasy romance is never going to have the draw that contemporary romance does), and makes good money.

So that is how this trilogy came about.

Synopsis

Shanna has spent her whole life waiting—waiting to be old enough, waiting for the day she must pick a consort, waiting for a chance to finally overcome her despicable stepfather… and waiting for someone to finally banish the loneliness that comes with being a queen-in-waiting one step away from being murdered.

On the eve of the two-week event during which she must pick a consort from a bevy of suitors, two strangers arrive claiming to have been invited—though she knows full well they did not receive any such invitation. But the handsome, mischievous Prince Kallaar is too intriguing to resist, and his quiet bodyguard too compelling to ignore…

But she’s learned the hard way never to let anyone get too close, and on the verge of gaining true independence her stepfather will stop at nothing to see she never gets it.

Excerpt

Waiting for You
Megan Derr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Prologue

Shanna sighed in the gloom of the stables, enjoying the dark and quiet, even the smell of horse, dragon, and manure.

Gingerly touching her sore cheek, the result of a stepfather who’d succumbed to a rare fit of temper and struck her, she went to get some treats for the animals.

After she’d given apples to the horses and hazelnuts to the dragons, she pulled out the small flask of wine she’d brought with her, upended a bucket to make a seat, and settled in front of her favorite dragon’s stall for a night of drinking.

She’d prefer to be making merry, a proper ceremony honoring her mother, two years dead now, but of course her worthless stepfather, Mercen, preferred a much smaller, quieter, and more somber affair. Just one more occasion for him to do what he needed to further his own goals while paying token respect to the woman who’d made him consort.

At least it was late enough she’d be left alone out here. Everyone else was asleep or on duty. The only person who’d be in the stable at that hour was Tikki, the stable boy, and even if he woke and realized she was there, he’d leave her alone.

All the problems of the day—week, month, past two years—tried to rise up, but Shanna had endured more than her fill of them for the present. They’d have to wait until tomorrow. Instead, she drank wine and tried to focus only on happy memories of her mother, the sorts of things her mother would tell her to think about.

She’d almost managed to achieve a good mood, or something close enough, when she heard voices outside. Voices that were not speaking Remnien. If she wasn’t mistaken, they were speaking Morentian, which was bizarre. Morentians didn’t travel this far north very often, and certainly not in the dead of a winter night.

Pushing to her feet, Shanna headed for the stable doors—and barely jumped back in time to avoid being whacked in the head by one.

Two figures, accompanied by horses, hurried into the stables and closed the doors behind them. The shorter of the two said something, and Shanna caught snatches of “finally” and “snow” and something she didn’t understand but suspected was a curse. Her mother had never taught her those words, though Shanna had tried to learn them.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

They spun toward her, going still a moment before removing the snow-crusted wrappings from their faces—which revealed extremely handsome men, tired and travel-worn though they were. Shanna swallowed, painfully aware suddenly of her own unkempt state: the old, ragged dress she’d thrown on, her hair only loosely knotted back, the bruise slowly forming on her cheek.

Oh, what did it matter? She was a princess—a queen in waiting—what did it matter if she looked good to a couple of travelers she’d never see again?

“I am sorry to disturb,” the shorter man said, mouth curving in a smile that reminded Shanna of the kitchen boy, Benni, who caused no end of trouble but always charmed his way out of it with smiles like that. “We are humble peddlers from Morentia and not accustomed to your wretched snow. We were hoping to reach the royal castle tonight, but I honestly have no idea where we are right now.”

Shanna laughed. “You’ll be relieved to know you’ve reached your destination, though you’ll have to wait until morning to peddle your wares. But come, there are places aplenty for you to stay the night, and the kitchens can give you a meal.”

“We’d be most grateful, Lady…”

“Shanna.”

Both men stilled again briefly before venturing farther into the stable, closer to Shanna. She moved backward a few paces and nearly collided with one of the two lanterns that lent the stables light.

The shorter man said something in Morentian she didn’t understand, the words spoken too low and fast to catch. “You are no lady, but the fine princess herself,” the man said, his wickedly charming smile returning. “We are most honored to make your acquaintance, my princess.”

Shanna shivered. My princess. She liked the way he said that.

“Shall we tend the horses before you attempt to flirt with someone too good for you, Kallaar?” the second man asked gruffly.

“Yes, Ahmla.” Kallaar glanced back at Shanna. “Where should we put our horses, Your Highness?”

“This way.”

Once the horses were tended, Kallaar returned to her side immediately, almost but not quite standing improperly close. “Now then, what brings a lovely princess to the stables so late at night? And all alone. Surely there are better places to be in this terrible weather? I should think anywhere else at all would be better.”

“It’s not that cold.”

Kallaar looked at her like she had lost her mind. “There is snow.”

Shanna laughed at his affronted tone. “Yes, but it’s early winter yet. Soon it will be so cold every breath feels like knives in your lungs, too cold even for snow, and everything that ventures outside unprotected freezes immediately.”

“How can it be too cold for snow?” Kallaar sounded affronted. “That sounds like a nightmare come to life.”

Ahmla made a noise that sounded like agreement.

“I’m certain many people say the same about the heat of Morentia. What brings you so far afield this time of year? Surely your wares could wait to be traded in weather you find more pleasing?”

“I come from a very bossy family, and there are things that must be done, and I am the one to do them,” Kallaar said, looking oddly intent for a man who probably traded in bobbles and knickknacks. “Not that I mind, of course. I am just as bossy and demanding as the rest of them—” He gave a snickering Ahmla a look. “Anyway, despite our grousing, we are happy to be here, my princess. Now, I do not suppose there is anywhere in this place where a couple of frozen strangers might thaw?”

“I think I can help with that,” Shanna said, smiling in a way she hadn’t since her mother had died two years ago. Hard to find anything to smile about when she was a prisoner in her own castle, constantly afraid she would join her mother in the afterlife while Mercen stole their kingdom.

“Splendid!” Once they were outside, Kallaar offered his arm.

Amused and charmed despite herself, Shanna made to accept—and slipped on a patch of ice, but even as she drew breath to scream, she was scooped up before she hit the cold, hard ground.

Shanna blinked at Ahmla, who held her like she weighed nothing, and was shockingly warm for a man who had seemed cold and miserable. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“Um. Yes. Thank you, Master Ahmla. That would have been a nasty fall.”

“My honor to serve, princess.” Instead of setting her down, though, Ahmla carried her all the way to the castle and only put her on her feet once they reached the stones of the kitchen yard, which were kept clean by the staff so they could work safely.

“Thank you again,” Shanna said and hastened inside to hide her flushed face.

In the kitchen, she found the late-night cook in the pantry and requested she see about food and beds.

Returning to Kallaar and Ahmla, she said, “You’ll be taken care of quite well from here by the staff.”

“It’s most appreciated, my princess. You are even kinder and more gracious than rumors say.”

Shanna highly doubted any such rumors existed, but she smiled all the same. “It’s sweet of you to say so.”

“No, it’s not. Don’t encourage him,” Ahmla said. “He’s enough of a brat.”

“You wound me,” Kallaar said with a pout.

Shanna laughed. “I will leave you to charm sweets from the cook, for I must to bed. It was a pleasure to meet you both. Perhaps I’ll see you again before you continue your travels.”

“Count on it, my princess. I could never leave here without seeing your lovely face at least once more.”

Ahmla lifted his eyes to the ceiling, and even the cook snorted as she brought them bowls of the soup kept on the fire for staff and soldiers working through the night.

Smiling again, Shanna bowed her head as they bowed. “Goodnight, dear sirs. Sleep well.”

“And you, my princess,” Kallaar said. “Sweet dreams.”

As she headed off to her room, still smiling at Kallaar’s antics and how nice it had felt to be held so easily by Ahmla, Shanna thought maybe for the first time in a long time, her dreams just might be sweet.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Megan is a long time resident of LGBTQ fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she’s not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies. She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all over the internet.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

Tour Schedule

6/5 – Erotica For All

6/5 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Word

6/6 – MM Good Book Reviews

6/6 – Sharing Links and Wisdom

6/7 – millsylovesbooks

6/7 – Divine Magazine

6/8 – A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

6/8 – Happily Ever Chapter

6/9 – Bonkers About Books

6/9 – Stories That Make You Smile

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Release Day Blitz: Nate and the New Yorker by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Nate and the New Yorker

Series: Nate and Cameron, Book 1

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 1, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 23300

Genre: Contemporary, cisgender, contemporary, cross-dressing, depression, gay, grief, long distance relationship, non-explicit, paranormal, reunited, romance, vacation

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Synopsis

Cameron has it all. He’s rich, lives in Manhattan, and even has a cross-dressing butler. But then he meets Nate, an Australian who’s bitter about love. Cameron is determined to turn this realist into a dreamer by sharing his world of classy restaurants, Broadway shows, and fabulous parties. And while Nate’s friends see the makings of a fantasy romance, it’s Nate who has to learn that in order to open his heart, he has to face a painful secret.

Excerpt

Nate and the New Yorker
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Trailer: https://youtu.be/p3zjFttpjXc

Both Cameron and I had Hawaiian shirts to wear, while Rowena sported a tie-dyed sarong and an afro wig. And around us, interesting guests wore chic little skirts, James Dean–style jackets, hippie gear, and mod wear.

“You haven’t introduced me yet,” said a middle-aged woman to Cameron. Her rust-colored coat had a masculine cut. Yet she elegantly held a long-stemmed cigarette holder with something that smelled very much like a joint burning on the end.

“Sorry,” said my charming American. “This is my friend, Nathan. And this well-dressed lady is my aunt Beverley.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

She took my hand and kissed it. “I hope you don’t think me too forward; it’s just that you’ve got such fascinating features.”

“My aunt likes to flirt.”

“It runs in the family,” she replied. She gave me a measured wink. “Now, nephew, where have you been hiding this handsome Englishman?”

“I’m Australian.”

“It’s your accent. I never can tell the difference.”

“I need you!” yelled a girl in a flower necklace. She was the drummer of the band and was addressing our host.

“It’s time,” Cameron said.

“Time for what?” I asked.

He kissed me on the cheek and then headed for the microphone stand.

“You’re in for a treat,” whispered Aunt Beverley, her voice raspy from years of smoking.

“He sings?” I asked.

“He sings,” she replied.

A laid-back strum of the bass guitar started the song, followed by a drum beat. Then the vocal. And before I knew it, I was being serenaded in front of a room full of acquaintances. But, wow! What a unique experience.

“I’ve never seen him go out on a limb for someone like this before,” said his aunt.

I smiled politely, then closed my eyes. He was crooning. His honey voice made my soul rise out of my body and search for a dream. And in the hip nightclub that appeared in my mind, he wore a gray suit with a crimson tie, standing tall in front of the trumpet section who were waiting for their cue. And I was the only one in the club.

“Where are you?” asked Aunt Beverley in a low tone.

I wanted to say I was in love but stopped myself. I realized it was rude to have my eyes closed during Cam’s song. I opened them. He had me in his sights. I wanted to jump into the waves on his Hawaiian shirt and end up on a deserted island with just him and me.

“Would you like a toke of my cigarette, Nathan?”

“No, thank you. I think the fumes have already hit me.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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An Ali Review: See My Words (Spectrum Nights #2) by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Successful underwear model Scott Ashworth is lucky—his attack at the hands of an unknown assailant will leave no visible scars. His professional goals are still within reach, and best of all, his stepbrother Rylan Mahoney is back in his life, their teenage infatuation at last getting the chance to deepen into something more.

Thrown together by the circumstances of Scott’s injury, Rylan’s long-dormant feelings for him are quickly rekindled, though he’s haunted by the memory of Scott’s disappearance on the night of his eighteenth birthday and the six missing years that followed. Rylan pushes Scott for the truth, a firm believer in the maxim that secrets lose their power once they’re shared—but resurrecting old demons almost always comes with a price.

Before Scott knows it, his life is spiraling out of control, his toxic insecurities welling up to threaten the fragile relationship he’s building with Rylan. Learning to let go of the past and believe in himself will be Scott’s greatest challenge, or else he risks losing Rylan forever this time.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series but unfortunately did not like this second book as much.  This installment picks up immediately after the previous book ended.  The story then chronicles Scott and Rylan on their journey from friends to lovers.
The overall plot was fine but I just found their relationship dynamic exhausting.  There was so much unnecessary drama.  Scott in particular was really hard for me to like.  I had sympathy for him in the first book but found I had lost it by about mid-point in this story. Some of his behaviors were defense mechanisms but a lot were just because he was a jerk.  I also didn’t care for any of the people he had surrounded himself with.  His boss, his coworkers, his ex-boyfriend, etc were all just horrible and I was done with the lot of them by the time we got to the end.  Rylan, who I really liked in the last book, also got on my nerves.  He was kind and understanding of Scott’s issues but almost to the point of being a door mat.  I imagine people who have been through the things Scott had would have a lot of the issues he had, but it didn’t make it any easier to tolerate.  The entire thing, the plot, the MC’s, the relationship dynamic, just annoyed me to death.
For me the best part was the last 15% or so.  Finally Scott steps up and starts working on getting himself together and he forces Rylan to step back and let him.  I felt like the author did a good job on redeeming Scott by the end of the book.
I think a lot of people will enjoy this book and many won’t have the issues I did with it.  The writing itself was well done.  This book should not be read as a standalone as it is the second half of the story that was started in the book Pieces of Me.
Cover:  I like the cover art on this.  It is eye catching and I like how the covers of this book and the previous one match.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 278 pages
Published April 24th 2017 by Ninestar Press
ISBN139781945952951
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSpectrum Nights #2

 

BLOG TOUR See My Words by Melanie Hansen

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Title:  See My Words

Series: Spectrum Nights, book 2

Author: Melanie Hansen

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 24

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 101300

Genre: Romance, angst, family drama, friends to lovers, hurt/comfort, model (ish), Photographer/photojournalist, reunited, step brothers

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Synopsis

Successful underwear model Scott Ashworth is lucky—his attack at the hands of an unknown assailant will leave no visible scars. His professional goals are still within reach, and best of all, his stepbrother Rylan Mahoney is back in his life, their teenage infatuation at last getting the chance to deepen into something more.

Thrown together by the circumstances of Scott’s injury, Rylan’s long-dormant feelings for him are quickly rekindled, though he’s haunted by the memory of Scott’s disappearance on the night of his eighteenth birthday and the six missing years that followed. Rylan pushes Scott for the truth, a firm believer in the maxim that secrets lose their power once they’re shared—but resurrecting old demons almost always comes with a price.

Before Scott knows it, his life is spiraling out of control, his toxic insecurities welling up to threaten the fragile relationship he’s building with Rylan. Learning to let go of the past and believe in himself will be Scott’s greatest challenge, or else he risks losing Rylan forever this time.

Excerpt

See My Words
Melanie Hansen © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Scott stared at the image. All three of his half-brothers were sitting at one of the bar’s high tables, Donna standing behind them with her arms around their shoulders. They were clustered close together, leaning on each other, beaming.

“Whoa, they’re so big. And they look really happy.”

“They are.”

“When was this taken?”

“Right before I moved out here. In fact, I stopped in Pace on the way just to see them.”

Scott tore his eyes away from the picture to stare at Rylan. “So you’re still in touch with them? With the boys?”

Rylan nodded. “I am, yeah. We’re friends on Facebook, and we text sometimes. They’re great kids.”

Scott was silent for a moment. “What about the baby? Cara? Is she—”

“Still with Heather? Yes.” Rylan’s voice was soft. “The picture you saw that first day in my apartment? That was the last time I saw them, when I went up to visit Cara before finals.”

“So you talk to—her? Heather, I mean.”

“Sometimes. Not often.” Rylan touched the scar on his cheek almost absently, and his eyes took on a haunted look. “When she and my dad split up, Scott, it was…ugly.”

Scott’s stomach roiled, and the puree he’d just drunk surged back into his throat. He grasped Rylan’s wrist, drawing his startled glance.

“Did Heather give you that scar?” he demanded. “That fucking bitch—”

Rylan gasped. “No!” he exclaimed. “She’s never, ever touched me.”

Scott released him, studying the scar before tracing it lightly with his thumb. It was high on Rylan’s cheekbone, small, but white and jagged.

“You can’t tell me that’s always been there, Ry. I would have noticed it before.” Would have noticed it back when he used to map every inch of Rylan’s face with his lips as they lay entangled together in his narrow bed. “Who did this?”

A pause. “My dad.”

The answer was so unexpected that Scott reared back in disbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he croaked. “Bob—hit you? Bob?” He couldn’t wrap his mind around it. Gentle Bob, who adored his son beyond reason, hit Rylan so hard he’d left a fucking scar? “What the hell happened?”

Rylan wrapped his arms around himself, hunching over. “While my dad was gone on one of his over-the-road jobs, Heather went out with her friends one night, got drunk, and brought home a man. But this time the dude didn’t fuck and run; he stayed for the weekend.”

“Holy shit. And your dad caught them.” Scott’s voice was hushed.

Rylan gave a jerky nod. “He walked in on them, in bed. I could hear them through the wall, and I’ll never forget the anguish in his voice as he demanded to know what exactly it was he was seeing. Heather was pleading with him, and the other guy was trying to tough it out. Lots of yelling, lots of crying—”

Rylan surged to his feet and started to pace. “The other dude finally left, and my dad and Heather kept fighting. I could hear them in the living room. I was gonna stay the fuck out of it until I heard Cara crying. So I went out there.”

Rylan’s chin trembled, but he pressed his lips together, breathing hard through his nose until he regained some control. “Heather was on the couch bawling, and Cara was wrapped around her leg. My dad was losing it, and when he saw me, he got up in my face. ‘Has this happened before, Rylan?’ I had no fucking clue what to say, and I guess my hesitation was his answer, because the next thing I knew, I was on the floor, my cheek on fire.”

He touched the scar, his eyes awash with the tears he was refusing to let fall. Scott ached to take him in his arms, but instead he jammed his hands in the loose pockets of his sweatpants, his fists clenched.

“My dad stood over me and screamed, ‘How many times? Why didn’t you tell me?’ He just kept saying that,” Rylan went on hollowly. “I had a cut on my cheek from a ring he was wearing. Blood was everywhere, dripping from my chin, getting in my mouth—” He licked his lips as if remembering the rusty taste on them. “—and all I could do was say, ‘I’m sorry, Dad.’”

“Jesus.” Scott’s curse was heartfelt.

“He was hurting, Scott, looking for someone to blame, and I was there. I was right there.”

“Why the fuck didn’t he blame the one who deserved to be blamed?” Scott snarled, taking his hands out of his pockets and slamming them down onto the couch cushions.

“He told me later that blaming her was too much like blaming himself, that he didn’t want to think about it being his fault. He wanted it to be someone else’s fault, even mine. After he hit me, he left and drove away. Heather helped me up, washed the blood off my face, and glued the gash shut with this liquid skin stuff she had. She wasn’t crying anymore, and she seemed really calm. It helped me calm down.”

His shoulders were so bunched and tense Scott couldn’t help but get up to put his hand on Rylan’s back, gratified when he seemed to take comfort in the soothing touch.

“What happened then?” he whispered, stroking the nape of Rylan’s neck with his thumb.

A quiver ran through Rylan’s body. “She put Cara to bed, and then we sat out on the porch together the rest of the night. Sometimes quiet, sometimes talking a little.” He heaved a sigh. “I think she really loved my dad, Scott, but for some reason couldn’t keep herself from sabotaging everything. She was devastated, but at the same time seemed almost relieved it was over, as weird as that sounds.”

When you don’t feel you deserve anything nice in your life, it scares you to death when you actually get it. It was a feeling Scott was all too familiar with, and he winced as an unwilling sympathy for Heather churned in his gut. He didn’t want to feel sorry for her, didn’t want to—understand her.

He shoved the thought away, concentrating instead on what Rylan was saying.

“We didn’t see my dad for about a week. Heather seemed okay on the outside, but I could tell she was slowly falling apart on the inside. I recognized the signs.” A shadow flitted over his face, and he clenched his hands into fists. “My own mom, you know? I couldn’t go through that again, and I felt so fucking helpless, so I went to Donna.”

Scott gave a quiet snort. “That woman is a force of nature.”

Rylan quirked his lips. “That she is. She drove over to the trailer, packed up the kids’ stuff, and took all four of them to her house. Told Heather they’d be safe until she got her shit together. She didn’t protest it, didn’t fight. When my dad came for me after a few more days, I left with him. Left her alone.”

“You’d done all you could, Ry. You know that, right?”

“I left without a backward glance,” Rylan said bluntly. “I was so fucking drained. By you, by her…”

Scott flinched, but Rylan went on, “My dad needed me. I walked away so I could save what was left of my strength for him.” His face was expressionless. “And for myself. I’d gotten a full scholarship to the University of Miami, but there was still a third of my senior year to go. I needed to concentrate on my grades and my own future. You were gone, the kids were safe with Donna, and there was nothing else I could do for Heather.”

The sun shimmered off the nearby buildings and bounced in through the windows, hurting Scott’s eyes and making him feel light-headed.

You should have been there, you stupid fuck.

As if reading his mind, Rylan murmured, “You being there wouldn’t have changed a thing, Scott. Heather would have still done what she did. You know that. It was only a matter of time.”

“But if I’d been there, maybe I could have deflected Bob’s anger onto me. Could have taken that blow for you, saved you that heartache at least.”

So much fucking heartache.

Rylan’s face softened. “It is what it is, Scott. Your mantra, remember?”

“Fuck mantras. I should have been there.” He slid his hand down to Rylan’s shoulder. “Were you and your dad okay, after what happened?”

“Yeah. He got us a tiny apartment not far from the school. It took a while, but we got everything sorted out. By the time he—died, we were more than okay.”

Scott relaxed a fraction. “Good,” he whispered hoarsely. “That’s good.”

Rylan patted Scott’s hand once before releasing him. “Ugh, I guess I’d better go take a shower, get ready for the club. There’s a big bachelorette party tonight, and Corey wants lots of pictures.”

“Yeah, okay.” Scott wiped a stray tear away with rough impatience. “If you need to go—”

“Can I take your car, or do you need it? I don’t mind taking the bus.”

Scott started to tell him to take the car, but the thought of the long, lonely night stretching before him made him say impulsively, “If you can wait a few minutes, I’ll drive you. Maybe stay for a drink.”

Rylan lifted an eyebrow. “Really? That’d be great. I know everyone would love to see you. People are always asking me how you’re doing.”

Scott didn’t know how true that was, given how silent his phone had been for the past three weeks, but he didn’t say anything, just headed for the shower. Afterward he pulled on a pair of jeans and an aqua-green silk T-shirt, standing in front of his full-length mirror and looking himself over, suddenly unsure.

“You’re beautiful as ever, Scott.” Rylan’s quiet voice came from the doorway.

“No. I don’t feel like myself at all.” Scott tugged at the loose material of his shirt, a shirt that used to mold itself to his ripped torso like it was painted on. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea. People don’t need to see—”

Rylan came behind him and put his hand on Scott’s shoulder. “You’ll be the most gorgeous man in the room. Trust me.”

Their eyes met in the mirror, and Scott gave him a shaky smile. “I think you’re biased.”

Rylan chuckled. “I’m a photographer. I can’t be biased.” His voice was gently teasing. “Don’t believe me?”

Scott shrugged, and Rylan reached out and threaded their fingers together. “The camera doesn’t lie, Scott. Let me show you.” He turned to walk out of the room, tugging Scott after him and making a quick stop to snag his camera from the couch before leading him to the balcony.

The sun was low in the sky now, bathing everything around them in a soft, golden glow.

The camera whirred, and Rylan glanced at the screen, making a few quick adjustments before starting to shoot in earnest. Scott lost himself in Rylan’s quiet directions, first leaning back against the railing and then turning to prop his elbows on it while he gazed into the distance.

“Here, come see.” Rylan beckoned to him, and Scott walked over to gaze down at the digital screen in awe. The waning light kissed his face, throwing his cheekbones into sharp relief, the light scruff on his chin emphasizing his full lips. The soft green of his T-shirt reflected the fading radiance of the sun and made his eyes stand out like jewels.

“No filter, Scott. Just you. And you’re fucking gorgeous.”

Scott quirked his lips in a rueful smile. “You probably think I’m the vainest son of a bitch you’ve ever met, don’t you?”

“Never. There’s nothing wrong with needing some reassurance, especially after the trauma you’ve been through.” Rylan held up the camera. “I can tell you you’re beautiful, but sometimes you just have to see the words. See what I see.”

The lump in Scott’s throat threatened to choke him. “Sweet Ry,” he whispered. “Thank you.”

They smiled at each other, and Scott leaned in. Rylan lifted his face for the kiss, his lips parted, but Scott turned his head so his mouth grazed Rylan’s temple instead.

“Let’s go to the club.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.

She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.

Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

Website | Twitter | eMail

Tour Schedule

4/24 – Love Bytes

4/25 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

4/25 – Hoards Jumble

4/25 – Bayou Book Junkie

4/26 – Joyfully Jay

4/27 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

4/27 – The Novel Approach

4/28 – Dirty Books Obsession

4/28 – MM Book Escape

4/28 – Happily Ever Chapter

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In the Spotlight: Soothsayer by Cari Z (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Soothsayer

Author: Cari Z

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 30

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 68200

Genre: Romance, Action, urban fantasy, magic, magic user, psychic/soothsayer, myth/folklore, mafia, reunited, road trip, spirits, posession

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Synopsis

Cillian Kelly can look into people’s eyes and see their fates. He’s running from a past filled with mistakes, lying low and selling his services on the sly. When he learns that Sören Egilsson, a man who sacrificed himself so Cillian could escape imprisonment two years ago, is somehow still alive, Cillian has to find out how. What he gets is the body of the man he loves possessed by an ancient spirit who draws Cillian into a battle to the death for the right to control Sören’s fate, and the power that comes with it.

Excerpt

Soothsayer
Cari Z © 2017
All Rights Reserved

My phone buzzed, interrupting my musing. I frowned as I pulled it out of my jacket pocket. Only a dozen people had this number, and I wasn’t expecting to talk to any of them any time soon. I unlocked it and looked at my new message.

Move ten paces to the right.

My feet were moving even before my brain caught up, obedience was so instinctual. Two seconds later, I was out of the mouth of the alley, and three seconds after that, a beat-up silver sedan coming down the road was clipped by a delivery van and veered straight into the corner of the building. It wasn’t moving fast, thankfully, but the crash was plenty loud, especially since I was just a few feet away from the point of impact.

A memory flashed through my mind, one of my personal rare and painful gems. I was in the backseat of an old Lincoln, and I was very small. My feet wouldn’t have touched the floor even if I hadn’t had my knees squished to my chest, and my face was pressed to the knobby joints so hard they were leaving red blotches on my cheeks. The man driving was on a phone—an old-school cell phone, clunky in his hand, distracting. He wasn’t paying attention, but I knew the moment before the car was hit and covered my head with my hands, so when I went flying into the door, it didn’t hurt as much. Metal crunched, and bright spots flashed across the darkness behind my eyelids as the car spun and spun…

I shook my head and took a deep breath, focusing on the present. The van hadn’t stopped, but I didn’t bother trying to catch its license plate number―there were plenty of people exclaiming and getting on their phones. I headed over to the driver’s side and opened the door, but didn’t reach in to touch the woman who had been driving. She was moving under her own power, picking her head up off the remains of her airbag and whimpering softly. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…”

“It’s all right,” I said gently. I might not be a martyr, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t feel compassion for another person, especially one who’d just been thrown into a wall. “You’re okay. Just a little accident. There’s an ambulance coming to help you.” I could already hear it in the distance. We were only a few blocks from a major hospital. “Can you look at me for a moment?” She blearily turned, and as soon as our eyes met, I sighed and backed out of the way. One of the employees at the auto-painting store took my place, and a second later—bam. The fucking Ace of Cups moment. Who found true love as a result of a car accident? This wasn’t exactly the heartwarming scene I’d envisioned getting me through the day earlier.

“Are you all right?” the newcomer asked frantically. “What’s your name? I’m Felix. I’m gonna stay with you until the ambulance gets here, okay? Oh Jesus, are you all right?”

“I’m…I think so?” the woman said, her voice gaining a little bit of strength. “I’m Paula.”

“Paula, hey.” He smiled at her, and she smiled back. I rolled my eyes. “Nice to meet you.”

For fuck’s sake. Well, at least the settlement from the trucking company would give them a nice nest egg to get their new place together. I turned away and walked to the end of the block before getting out my phone again and making a call.

She picked up on the second ring. “Hi, baby.”

“What, you can see me getting smeared across a wall, but you don’t bother to let me know about having a gun pulled on me?”

“Cillian.” My mother sounded half apologetic, half resigned. “You know it doesn’t work like that.”

Yes, fine, I did know that, but I didn’t feel like being reasonable right now. “So you didn’t see that this morning, then?”

“Did you need me to see it?”

I wasn’t about to go down the self-sufficiency road with her. It meant a surefire argument, and I was still buzzing with adrenalin from being so close to the car crash.

“No,” I said flatly. “I guess not.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Cari Z. is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She writes award-winning LGBTQ fiction featuring aliens, supervillains, soothsayers, and even normal people sometimes.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | eMail | Blog

Tour Schedule

1/30     Hearts On Fire Reviews

1/30     On Top Down Under

1/31     Love Bytes – www.lovebytesreviews.com

1/31     Out Of My Head

1/31     Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

2/1       Slashsessed

2/1       Stories That Make You Smile

2/1       Book Lovers 4Ever

2/2       Happily Ever Chapter

2/2       Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

2/3       The Novel Approach

2/3       We Three Queens

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