A MelanieM Review: Dead Blind: Jack of Spades #2 (PF 2015: Altered States) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Dead Blind coverIn the two months since Dr. Sabine Brusilov and his ghostly lover Bart discovered the curious brass circlet while investigating a haunting in an apartment building, Sabine focused on recovering from his accident. Now, his health restored, his mind returns to the mystery of the circlet. Even a commission to appear on a television show can’t distract him from its allure.

After nearly two centuries of resistance, it takes an exorcism for Bart to come to terms with being a ghost…and learning that everything in the other realm isn’t quite the way he had figured. As he grows more comfortable in the spirit plane, his abilities on the earthly plane evolve. Even though he feels the circlet’s evil, he can’t help but connect his growing strength with it.

Life and death are two sides of the same coin, but the circlet blurs lines for both man and ghost.

In Dead Blind (Jack of Spades #2), Lee Brazil takes his plot and gives it a dark, maze-like quality that adds another level of trepidation and suspense to a tale already overflowing with it.  For me, this story is where I start to connect with Sabine whose personality and cavalier treatment of Bart sort of pushed me away in the first installment.

With an evil circlet in his possession, Sabine’s control over his emotions, thoughts and actions become compromised.  And it’s his struggle to remain himself that really draws the reader onto his side and let’s us empathize with this complicated man.  Bart too is growing in substance…literally.  While the reasons he is becoming stronger are still somewhat nebulous, the fact that Bart abilities have grown now allow him to have avenues for his thoughts and emotions not possible before.  He can travel and move things, for good or bad.  But it’s his growing concern for Sabine that pulls us into their relationship and gives us a better feel for their couple dynamics which is undergoing  drastic changes even as they are.

But back to that evil circlet.  Lee Brazil does a fabulous job of bringing that object’s menace to life on the page. Through the vivid imagery of Brazil’s descriptions, t he circlet emanates such malevolence, that the  dreams and actions it’s pulling out of Sabine will bring chills as you read.  Yes, this story is getting marvelously darker, more convoluted and scary.  And I couldn’t be happier.

If you love your romance stories with a touch of horror, if you listen for those things that go bump in the night, than this installment has just the right amount of shivers to make you downright  gleeful.  But be warned, none of these are stand alone stories.  They must be read in the order they were written and often contain cliffhangers just as serialized stories should.

But don’t take my word for it.  Pick them all up and get started today.  Each is a truly delicious morsel of romance and fear, addicting and downright delectable.  Happy Reading.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I like the overall design but am still missing a supernatural element.  It just seems too light and fluffy for the content.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 54 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Lime Time Press
ASINB00W5HNFYE
edition languageEnglish\

About Pulp Friction 2015
Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.
Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.
Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Round Two:

Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil

 

Review: Knights Out (City Knight #4) by T.A. Webb

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Knights Out coverMarcus Prater and Benjamin Danvers are having a wonderful morning when they are interrupted by a phone call.  It’s Zachary and he needs their help.  An old friend of Jeremiah’s, NIck, has gone missing and Jeremiah wants to know what has happened to him.  Since Ben also knows Nick from his time as a rent boy, Marcus and Ben are quick to agree to join a growing search for a young man known for his kindness and help to those on the streets.

Their investigation takes a darker turn when more boys turn up missing. This investigation reminds Marcus that he also has someone he wants to find, his younger brother who Marcus hasn’t seen in years.  Their current search renews Marcus’ resolve to find his brother and make amends for all the lost time between them.  The shocking resolution of both investigations will change everyones lives forever.

Knights Out, the fourth story in the City Knight series, is a wonderful installment in this Pulp Friction group offering.  Here Webb continues to weave the clues to the mystery that runs through all four series, that of the increasing number of missing young men and the culprit behind their torture and subsequent deaths.  In Knights Out two more young rent boys disappear, both of which the readers became familiar with in other stories.  Now we are faced with uncertainty about their fate and the indication that a serial murderer is at work.  Webb builds our tension and anxiety in small but increasingly fearful steps.  Soon we are afraid not only for the missing men but for all the main characters that we have come to love, especially those like Ben and Jeremiah who fit the profile of the men the killer is targeting.  The fact that Ben and Jeremiah have just found happiness just increases our alarm.

But T.A. Webb balances that worry and concern with moments of laughter and love, especially when it comes to Marcus and his brother.  That is such a lovely element in this story.  It made me laugh as well as cry.  As much as I wanted to include that excerpt with Wick here, I just can’t bring myself to spoil the enjoyment of reading it as part of the whole chapter.  Trust me, you will love this moment for so many reasons, one of which is the rare scene of seeing the unshakable Wick throughly discomforted (in a funny way of course).

By balancing a man’s love for his brother and Ben against the horror that is coming., Webb shows just how fragile a state happiness can be.  Nothing is ever certain, nothing is ever guaranteed except death, so grab your love and happiness while you can.   It’s a message that some of the characters are just beginning to accept, however much they may fight it.  The author spreads tension throughout the series, like butter on bread.  Whether it is Marcus’ health, Wick’s relationships, the mens past histories emerging into the present day events, all bring a certain amount of tension and uncertainty to all the investigations and relationships.

All the other characters from the  other series are starting to appear with regularity.  Here Wick and Chance are an integral part of the search for the missing rent boys with implications for both men and their past histories.  And while there is not a cliffhanger to be found in this story, the path is laid for more investigations and more revelations to come.

Tom Webb is certainly bring his love of Pulp Fiction alive with this story and his City Knight series.  None of these books and related series are to be missed.  But you must start at the beginning with City Knight in order to understand the main characters backgrounds and relationships and the events to come.

Here they are in the order they were written and should be read:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)
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Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages
Published August 15th 2013 by A Bear on Books
ISBN13 9781301563555
series City Knight
buy link All Romance, Amazon Kindle Books

Book Contest and Guest Post by T.A. Webb, Pulp Friction Author of the City Knight series

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Scattered Thoughts (that’s me) has loved having all the authors here this week.  And we still have another surprise day to go where I will announce the winners and the Pulp Friction authors will have one last post together.Darkest KNight cover

So, don’t forget to leave a comment, either at the end of today’s post or on the review post.  Either way, we will count that as an entry.

And now for our fourth and final Pulp Friction author, T.A.”Tom”  Webb and his City Knight series. *offers up a chair and a cup of coffee*:

TW: Thanks for having me, Melanie. Well, me and my guys Marcus and Benjamin. Now, these two men are rather mouthy and will tend to jump in and say what’s on their minds before you or I know it. So, bear with us and I’ll try to filter it all into something that makes sense for us all.

ST: *sinks into her chair, pets the pups*

TW: When Laura, Lee and Havan and I started talking about some kind of series that would be like the old pulp fictions, what immediately came to mind for me was the Doc Savage pulps I read as a kid. I loved Doc Savage with hathim, and always thought he was kind of like me, in that he was different. When I put a name to it—gay—I realized he never was with a person of either sex, but I could easily imagine him as mine.

So, when we put the series here in Atlanta, we talked about each of us putting out six stories. My first idea was to write two sets of three stories—a trilogy—for two sets of characters. Then Marcus whispered in my ear, and he was this mature cop who patrolled the area around his home. I asked him why, and the whole story came out about his doctor lover who was shot and killed senselessly, and how he made a promise to protect the neighborhood. Kind of Doc Savage meets Batman.

A man like that deserves a happy ending, so I imagined who would crack through a man like that’s shield? Because Marcus, he deserves someone who would make him laugh, someone who would light up his dark nights and make his heart beat again.

Enter Ben.

Now Ben, or as Marcus calls him, his Benjamin, isn’t a slam dunk. He has a past of his own that tried to keep him away from Marcus. He’s younger, smart as a whip, but so closed off from his own feelings because of his own soul-crushing experience—he was raped—that it was a challenge for him to connect to Marcus for more than sex.

But he does. And the trilogy follows how they two men circle each other and gently open up despite all the horrible things in their pasts, and the bad things coming after them in their present. But, they make it.

So, when it came time to write the other two men I had in mind, Marcus and Benjamin said they weren’t ready to step aside. Plus, we—Laura, Lee Havan and I—had started interweaving Chance and Zachary and Archer and Wick with my boys, so how could I leave them hanging?

ST:  You can’t, that obvious, plus it would make your fans cry. Not a good thing.

TW: Plus, slowly but surely, the fans caught on and would have killed me if I let them go. And we had to find out who killed Travis, and then Marcus’s brother Frankie showed up with little Marcus, and they have a loud voice too.

My plans, now that all five books are written as well as the final book we all will co-author, are to write a small holiday story for Marcus and Doc_Savage_plus_Five_by_SilvreBenjamin called “Christmas Knight”.  And at some point there will be a novella for Frankie and Brady, because they are screaming in my head that they need their story told.

ST:  I am so happy to hear that because I fell in love with Brady and Frankie!  They do need a story of their own. Oops,  sorry to interrupt.

TW: This has been such a fun process, and I have learned SO much about how to write from these three talented friends of mine. I almost hate to leave Atlanta behind, but Flagstaff calls and that makes my creative juices flow.

ST:  Hmmm. Flagstaff…..more stories perhaps?  Another secret for another day.

TW: Thanks to everyone who’s read City Knight, and it’s on sale for $0.99 for everyone on Amazon and ARe.

Please, leave a comment, and you can have your choice of any book in the series in a drawing especially for Melanie’s blog. She’s been so wonderful about reading all 20 of the books and reviewing them, and Marcus and Benjamin have her in a big hug for liking them. They have no words, and neither do I!

ST: Aww, shucks.   *hugs back*  Plus you mentioned Doc Savage.  I remember seeing plenty of those paperpacks on my dad’s shelf near his chair.  Oh that did bring back the memories.  Thanks for the great guest post and wonderful stories, Tom.

TW: Thanks all!  Remember to leave a comment and win!

Tom

Here are the books in the City Knight series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the men and their relationships and the events that occur:

City Knight (City Knight #1)
Knightmare (City Knight #2)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3)
Knights Out (City Knight #4)
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5)
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Review: Chance in Hell (Chances Are #5) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is how it all starts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Welcome, Lee Brazil, author of Chances Are Pulp Friction series

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words: Author Spotlight and Chat with Lee Brazil, author of the Chances Are series.Chance In Hell cover

Good morning all and welcome to Pulp Friction Week. This week I am happy to have all the authors of the Pulp Friction series in to talk about their characters, and their series…and well whatever they want to discuss with us. Happily for my readers, each author is offering a copy of one of their books in their series as a giveaway. Just leave a comment at the end of each day’s post and you will be entered.

Yes, its that easy. Now on with our chat!

It’s Pulp Friction Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and we are excited to welcome Lee Brazil to pull up a chair and have a chat with us.

STRW: I have to tell you that I just love Chance Dumont and the Chances Are series. Can you tell everyone a little bit about the Pulp Friction series and yours in particular?

LB:: Good morning everyone! *sips coffee* For those who don’t know me, I’m Lee Brazil, author of m/m romance with Pulp Friction, Story Orgy, Breathless Press, etc. I’d like to thank Melanie for inviting me over today to talk to everyone. As is usual in such a circumstance, I find myself tongue tied and unable to come up with a single thing of value to say.

Isn’t that the way of things?

ST: Let’s start with the Pulp Friction series and Chances Are.

LB: Pulp Friction has been a blast to write, and it’s morphed in ways I never quite imagined when it started. When we first discussed it, the stories were supposed to be no more than 8K apiece, which is why my first story, Chances Are is so short. After I got started, well. It was quite a different tune. Each story grew longer and longer, it became harder and harder to incorporate a little character growth and development in with the need for some sort of mystery/adventure, and sex. Can’t forget the sensual rapport between the two main characters, and the growing emotional attachment as well.

Add in to that the seemingly irrepressible urge our characters had for interacting with one another across the whole series, and yeah. Size was a big challenge.

Size isn’t everything though, *waits for snickers to die down* even though each story is longer than the one that preceded it. All the stories in each series create a big picture of the relationship between a couple, or triad. Then, when you put all the series together, something even bigger is revealed.

And by that roundaboutation, I guess I’m saying that then end has not yet arrived for Chance and Rory and all the Pulp Friction 2013 guys. Look for something special in December.

For everyone who managed to hang in over here, through my sad little excuse for a blog post, I am enclosing a coupon code for Smashwords for you to download Chances Are for free.

Chances Are coverCoupon Code: FM25N
Expires: November 1, 2013

So click on over to CHANCES ARE at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/277629 for your free copy.

That’s my Treat for all of you today…Here’s my Trick. Leave me a comment, telling me whether you’re ever at a loss for words, or if you always have plenty to say, and one lucky winner will receive a copy of Second Chances Are, book two in the series.

ST: Trust me, lovely readers, you won’t want to miss out.  This is a terrific series and gets got me addicted to the characters and their relationships.  Thank you, Lee, for stopping by today and for the surprise gift for all the readers.

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

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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