A Stella Review: Made For You (Love & Family #2) by Anyta Sunday

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Ben wants to find a new home.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben McCormick is the primary caregiver for his brother Milo after their parents’ death. A year into the job, he’s totally got the hang of it. Mostly. Sort of. Not at all?
Defeated and thoroughly chastised for his lack in parenting skills at teacher-parent night, Ben slumps away with the resolve to finally get his life sorted: be a better role model, and sell their parents’ house for a fresh start.
But first, he needs to spruce up his house to hit the market. He’s no DIY king, but Milo’s hot-as-hell woodwork teacher is…

Jack wants an old home to fix.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jack Pecker is waiting for the home of his dreams to come on the market in the summer. What better way to wait the interim months than working on a small renovation gig?
Only trouble is, the gig is for the McCormick brothers. And working in close quarters to red-haired Ben McCormick won’t be easy. Not with the attraction that simmers between them. Attraction Ben makes no effort to hide.
But Jack’s professional. Dating a parent is highly discouraged at Kresley Intermediate, and he’d never cross the lines…

Ben and Jack. Two guys searching for a home –– a home that might just be where their hearts lead them.

Set in New Zealand, Made For You (Love & Family #2) is an MM gay romance featuring two guys at very different places in their lives – but both finding out they are looking for the same thing.
Can be read as a standalone.

 

I honestly haven’t read the previous title in the Love & Family series by Anyta Sunday, called Taboo For You, cause the title obviously let me believe it was about something I wasn’t comfortable with. I was wrong and since I loved this new novel so much, I will surely come back to the first book as soon as possible.

Made For You was an awesome reading, I want to recommend to all of you, even if you haven’t read Taboo For You, it worked easily as a standalone. It conquered me, I fell deeply into the plot and the characters lives. I picked this book cause I’m a sucker for the age gap between the MCs and I love stories with children. But I wasn’t ready for the amazing deliver I got from the author.

An amazing reading, well written, engaging and easy and quick to read. I loved Ben and Milo, they were so hilarious although their hearts were still recovering from the loss of their parents. I ached for them but was so happy to see Jack come into their home, first to renovate it, little by little to build a new life for the three of them together.

It was exactly what I was in the mood for, not a shallow read at all, but there weren’t so many dramas or angst, the right amount of sweetness, it was a real and believable novel.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is cute, I like it a lot

Sales Links:

Links: https://www.anytasunday.com/projects/made-for-you/

https://amzn.to/2XIAB0a

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 258 pages

Published May 1st 2019 by Anyta Sunday

ASIN B07QQ4TZLW

Edition Language English

Check Out the New Book Release for The Soulstealers by Jacqueline Rohrbach (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Soulstealers

Author: Jacqueline Rohrbach

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 1, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 90100

Genre: Fantasy YA, LGBT, Magic, soldiers, power struggle, spirits, Penumbra, slow burn

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Synopsis

Arnaka Skytree grew up believing she was chosen to bring new magic to the world. As the heir to the cult of druids responsible for keeping their floating palace habitable for the wealthy aristocracy, she’s expected to wield her power as those before her did: by culling the souls of peasant women.

But when Arnaka learns more about the source of her magic, and that her best friend’s soul will be harvested, she embarks on a journey to end the barbarous practice and to restore a long-forgotten harmonious system of magic practiced by the original druids. Along the way, she discovers she’s not the only girl chosen to restore balance to their world—many others have powerful magic inside, and with them, she will tear the floating palace from the sky so everyone can live in the sun—out of the shadow of the eclipse.

Excerpt

Soulstealers
Jacqueline Rohrbach © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1
The Choosing

Flowers bloomed around Arnaka Skytree. Tiger lilies tickled her feet while orchids pried open one eye. Rose, the pricklier of the three, stuck her with one of its thorns. She puffed some air up in its direction, fluttering petals and her bangs. Late for her Choosing, Arnaka forced the insistent garden out of her mind, to focus on the currents of air traveling around her, picking out the magic radiating from the flowers the way her older brother picked out soldiers to die for him—delicately, decidedly.

Strong magic ran in her family. The ritual she had to go to was nothing but a mere formality. She would be a druid like all the other women in her family before her, down to the original matriarch—Arnaka the Creator—whose name she shouldered. She was bound to it the way her magic was bound to living things. Soon, it would be the last tattoo burned by magical fire into her skin.

Squeezing her eyes shut, she pressed her finger deep into the sifted dirt around her, begging the world to swallow her whole. The flowers, sensing her sadness, bowed their heads, but they couldn’t give her what she wanted. Destiny’s feet were too heavy for soft petals.

“Lady Arnaka? Are you here?”

Nara, one of her maids, stumbled into the conservatory. Arnaka felt the young woman’s life force before she opened her eyes to watch the bony girl blunder over the flowers, which recoiled from her steps, lifting their leafy underparts to avoid a trampling. Arnaka gave Nara’s approach a small, fond smile.

When she finally saw Arnaka, Nara jumped as if surprised. Her brown eyes widened, giving her the appearance of a deer about to be speared. “Lady Arnaka. Your mother wants you in the hall for the ceremony.”

“I know.”

“She sent me here to get you.”

“I assumed.”

“Lady Arnaka…” the poor girl prompted her.

Arnaka sighed. Nara, who was brought here as a servant and lived on the daily whims of her captors, had no choice but to play her role in today’s events. She wasn’t trying to drag Arnaka to the ceremony out of spite, avarice, or revenge. Doing her job without getting hurt was her only goal.

Pity softened Arnaka’s voice. “Of course. Tell Mother I’ll be right there.”

Nara hopped from one foot to the other. Voice barely above a whisper, she said, “I’m supposed to escort you, Lady Arnaka.”

Arnaka lifted her head and glowered at the servant, hoping the severe expression might be enough to send her on her way. Having company on the long trek toward the hall forced Arnaka to be strong. Really, all she wanted to do was run, hide, vanish.

You promised, she reminded herself. You promised you’d go through with this, and that you’d keep it from happening to anyone else.

With a wince, the servant tried again. “My lady, please. Your mother. She’ll—”

“Very well. Come on,” Arnaka interjected before Nara completed the statement with “punish me.” Hearing about her mother’s temper coupled with her propensity to harshly correct servants for slight failures would only twist Arnaka’s already knotted emotions.

“Thank you, Lady Arnaka.”

Said as if she had a choice. “You’re welcome.”

Banter wasn’t something Arnaka lavished on the silly, sweet girl. The walk down the hall was silent. Nara didn’t seem to mind the quiet, or notice. Newly employed, she occupied a world where magic was still magical. The diamond archways casting rainbows to the reflective surface beneath their feet dazzled. Gold shone. Ruby and sapphire mosaics sparked her brown eyes to flame. Tiredly, Arnaka grabbed the gawking servant, who tripped over her own feet as she ogled the spectacle, by the upper arm to drag her inside the transport.

“Ceremonial hall.”

In moments, they arrived. In front of them, the entire court gathered. Thousands of nobles, maybe more, in their best attire.

Her mother broke from the crowd and rushed over. “Arnaka, my daughter. You are radiant today.”

Both of them had black skin that always seemed moonlit and black hair that grew in thick waves. Her mother’s was always swept up into elaborate twists. Arnaka cut hers rebelliously short, letting her curly bangs cover her golden eyes, the pride of her family line. Look into your future mirror, the elder druids always liked to say, you are the spitting image of your mother.

Although her mother was undeniably beautiful with her high cheekbones and angular features, Arnaka’s pleasure in hearing about their resemblance waned. She didn’t want to be kin to a monster.

The swirl of Mother’s elaborate gown extended a foot or two in each direction. Mercurial as the woman herself, its folds, bows, frills, and ruffles shifted on whim in color and in style until she settled on a deep royal purple with a long ivory lace train that fluttered in the air like a cobweb in the breeze.

“Wasteful as always, Mother.” Arnaka pointed to the dress, to which she still made minor adjustments. Meanwhile, the living gathered around her looked wary. Druid magic required life, willing or not. “Glad you settled on something before the whole assembly was depleted.”

A few of the nobles glanced at their feet and cleared their throats but did not comment on the awkward exchange. Her brother puffed his chest. “Sister,” he bellowed, not unlike a braying goat. “We have waited for this moment your whole life.”

Lacking the refinement of magic, Escan’s features looked blunt and staggered as though whoever carved him had jittered uncontrollably during the process. Only his eyes, the color of golden flame that was his family’s legacy, rendered him attractive. Every girl wanted babies with ladder-climbing genes and nothing said advancement quite like the bloodline of old aristocracy. Otherwise, her brother lacked figurative magic as well as literal. He was doing his best to steal the moment despite it.

Arnaka looked at the assembly of aristocrats before her. Like her mother, they wanted all the religion with none of the sacrifice religion required. Servants were there to pay the life price for their magic. In a pinch, merchants would do. Who better to understand there was a cost to doing business? This was probably the first time in centuries any of them felt the intrusive pull of magic’s touch at their own doorstep.

Resigned to what was to be, Arnaka raised her voice to carry across the room. “I am here to bring new magic.”

Applause broke out. Arnaka winced away from it, hating the fact they clapped for her, for the evil thing they were about to do. You promised her, Arnaka had to remind herself again. You looked her in the eye and said you’d go through with this, then you’d keep it from happening to anyone else.

She’d been so focused on remembering her vow that she forgot the ceremony. The pain from the burning as her final tattoo, a small circle on her forehead, seared her skin surprised her. More than any of the other tattoos branded into her arms and back, it hurt with pain beyond the smell of her own flesh, beyond the residual throb of the wound. It foretold what was to come after.

As the smoke around her cleared, a young woman a few years older than her was escorted forward. Unnamed at birth, she existed to be Arnaka’s spirit sister until she became a soul familiar, forever bound to serve as an instant source of magic. But Arnaka knew her name, a deep secret between them that she’d sworn to keep. She held onto it even as the knife plunged into the young woman’s throat. She thought it when the soul heeled at her side—Hannah. Again when she went to bed with the thing looming over her shoulder—Hannah. Only once more after that.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Rohrbach is a 36-year-old creative writer living in windy central Washington. When she isn’t writing strange books about bloodsucking magical werewolves, she’s baking sweets, or walking her two dogs, Nibbler and Mulder. She also loves cheesy ghost shows, especially when the hosts call out the ghost out like he wants to brawl with it in a bar. You know, “Come out here, you coward! You like to haunt little kids. Haunt me!” Jackee laughs at this EVERY time.

She’s also a hopeless World of Warcraft addict. In her heyday, she was a top parsing disc priest. She became a paladin to fight Deathwing, she went back to a priest to cuddle pandas, and then she went to a shaman because I guess she thought it would be fun to spend an entire expansion underpowered and frustrated. Boomchicken for Legion! Follow Jacqueline on Twitter.

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A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Lust and Other Drugs (Mytho #1) by TJ Nichols

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Police officer Jordan and dragon shifter Edra might have to work together, but they don’t trust each other—even if sparks do fly between them.

If anyone finds out Jordan’s a mytho sympathizer, it could kill his career. No one can know that he frequents the satyr dens and uses the drug Bliss. A dead satyr might not get much attention, but two dead humans who appeared to overdose on Bliss? That shouldn’t even be possible.

And it might not be an accident.

Edra, Mythological Services Liaison, has been covering up mytho crimes to protect the community’s reputation. With a mayoral election looming, the last thing his people need is a scandal like this one.

To get a murderer off the streets, Jordan and Edra will be spending a lot of time together, and it won’t be easy to keep up with their deceptions. Or keep resisting each other.

While I love Fantasy, I’m usually not big on crime/mystery novels, so I was a bit unsure whether I wanted to read “Lust And Other Drugs” or not. In the end, it was the cover that convinced me to give this a try. And I’m so glad it did, because this book was absolutely brilliant!

As I said above, I’m not a big Mystery reader, so I can’t really judge the quality of the crime solving part of the novel. I can only say that I enjoyed it and was glad it didn’t take up a huge part of the book. It’s essential to the plot, but it’s just one essential part among others.

The romance is a very slow burn. There’s an instant spark between our MCs, but they don’t tumble into bed or into a relationship right away. It takes time and it’s not easy. While relationships between a mytho and a human might not be forbidden, it is most definitely taboo. And very bad for Jordan’s career in an anti-mytho police force. And Edra has good reasons to be wary of humans in general, especially the human police. I really enjoyed the slow dance of attraction and the UST was so scorching hot.

The Fantasy part was actually really interesting. While a lot of the elements aren’t exactly new (dragons, collapsing worlds, magic,…), the author managed to give it a very unique twist. For once, the end of the world isn’t caused by evil magic, but by a mundane human experiment gone wrong. And it’s not the end of the human world, but the end of another realm. All our fairy tales and myths are based on the mythos, that used to visit our human world. The world building was very well done and made perfect sense to me.

I loved the politics, the way the world reacted to the sudden appearance of mythological creatures and how the daily life works now, 10 years later. Again, it all made sense. Humans are always wary of anything that’s “different” and after such a huge upheaval, it only follows that humans want to go back to what’s “normal”. They become more intolerant and humans that don’t fit in are also viewed with hostility.

Jordan was rather surprising. He loves wearing lingerie and likes to put on eyeliner and lipstick every now and then. I’m usually not really into femme MCs, but the way the author described the feeling of the silk against skin was incredibly sensual. And the way Edra reacted was just hot as hell.

Overall, I really, really loved “Lust And Other Drugs”. The ending is a very open HFN and it’s obvious there’s more to come. The love story doesn’t really have a satisfying result and the crime isn’t fully solved either. But it didn’t end on a cliffhanger. I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series. I want to know what happens next!

The cover by Tiferet Design most definitely did it’s job. It’s what caught my attention in the first place and what ultimately made me decide to read the book. I think it looks really great and totally fits the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 1st edition, 203 pages
Expected publication: April 2nd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN1 39781644051887
Edition Language English

Series Mytho #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Milt’s husband of many years, Corky, has passed away after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, a horrible deterioration of mind and body.  As is the case with many who suffer from this disease, Corky forgot who Milt was at times and at other times was angry and resentful toward him. He escaped his home, sometimes while nude, and in short, tested Milt’s reserves to the nth degree.  But Milt never stopped loving him and now, sitting in his new mobile home in Palm Springs, California, he’s far away and yet still close in his heart.  Some thought Milt was being too reactionary when he packed up and moved across country, but he and his adopted dog, Ruby, are beginning to acclimate to their new lives together.

Then, along comes a flash flood and a friendly neighbor to rescue them. Billy Blue, handsome, young, a former singer, now working at Trader Joe’s is an alcoholic in recovery for several years and planning to stay that way, despite the emotional ups and downs he begins to feel when Milt enters his life. Though several years older than Billy, Milt is nevertheless exactly the man of Billy’s dreams and Billy has to exercise all his life lessons to remember that good things happen in their own time, not on his time schedule.

Those who follow my reviews know I get a little (okay, a lot) peeved when authors glaze over a “drinking problem” or have their character in detox and then have him live a happy life, drinking again whenever he’s out with friends—with no consequences.  But in this story, Mr. Reed presented alcoholism and recovery, through the twelve step fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, as clearly, kindly, respectfully, and honestly as I’ve ever read. And I’m old, so I’ve read a lot! I appreciate his attention detail more than I can say.

A frequently heard term in AA is “the joy is in the journey, not the destination.”  And for me, the joy was in the journey of reading this beautiful portrayal of a man coming to grips with the death of his husband, moving through the stages of grief as time goes on, and ultimately recognizing that it’s okay to love again.  There’s also joy in being present for Billy’s journey as he follows direction from his sponsor and does what he’s learned is most important to his balance—to put his sobriety first.  After all, he wouldn’t have any chance with Milt if he wasn’t the man he is today and that’s due to working the program. 

I simply loved this story.  It’s not explicit, thankfully.  That wasn’t necessary.  What was necessary was to allow two men to have an opportunity to get to know each other, become friends, and eventually move to a firm and loving relationship.  Slow burn, hurt-comfort, age gap, men over forty, grief, men with pets—I can think of many more tags I’d use for this one. But ultimately, the tag I’d use first and foremost is amazing.   Thank you Rick R. Reed! You have set the bar high. 

The cover by Reese Dante features two men in an embrace—perhaps a kiss about to happen—set against a beautiful blue background of the sky over Palm Springs.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 190 pages
Expected publication: March 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN B07NNX7J4Q
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Accidentally on Purpose by J.M Snyder

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Love older MCs? Love slow burn, even in the bedroom? This one is just right for those of us who want to read about two older guys who find their way to romance. Granted, in this case, they get a little push from a 14-year-old, but nevertheless, they get there.

Alan Travers has custody of his nephew Brooks, and when Brooks is police-escorted home from the mall one night, Alan’s not upset because it’s Detective Jim Garrison who brings him home.  Jim is the “hot” cop Alan has been admiring from afar and has been too tongue-tied to ask out.  It just so happens that Brooks offered to help him find the perfect opportunity to have a chance to talk by using himself as bait to get picked up for breaking curfew. 

Alan is still pretty tongue-tied and definitely self-deprecating. At fifty-three years old, he’s not in the best shape—or at least, not from his perspective—but Jim likes what he sees and the two end up going out after days and days talking on the phone until late at night. So at the end of their date, which doesn’t feel like a first date at all, they finally make it to bed. 

The author takes the time for the two to get to know one another and even in the bedroom scene, several chapters cover their time together. After all, it’s been some time—years—for both of them, and Alan has to get past the hurdle of undressing before another man, and Jim has to search for condoms. When he finally found some, though unopened, the box was over ten years old!  There were quite a few laugh out loud moments in this story and the sweetness of their romance shines through. When Brooks goes missing the morning after his date with Jim, Alan gets the chance to see his detective in action.   All is well in the long run, and the couple manage to find their way to a nice HEA by the epilogue. 

Very enjoyable, I recommend this to those of us into late-life romance. 

The cover features two handsome older men, a light blue background and a cup of coffee – symbolic of their first meeting when Alan dumped his all over Jim’s shoes.  Any cover featuring an older MC attracts my attention these days.  Very nicely done!

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 173 pages

Expected publication: November 24th 2018 by JMS Books LLC

ASIN B07JMGFC8L

Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The Law of Miracles by KC Wells

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

I’ll start by saying that there was literally nothing about his wonderful love story that I didn’t adore. It had all the ingredients that make a perfect story for me, including slow burn and two older MCs—both around 50—one of whom is a widower of two years and the other still recovering from the heartbreak of his long-term partner leaving him after over twenty years together. Add to that, adult children who are not only kind and compassionate, but witty and fun-loving and fully supportive of their father, Joshua.

This is a sequel to A Christmas Promise in which Joshua’s son, Micah, meets Greg, a young man who was lured into a gay bashing and then left for dead in the snow in rural Wyoming. And though it is a sequel, there’s enough backfilled information in this story that, in my opinion, a reader could read this without having read the first book and wouldn’t be lost. That being said, this was quite delightful as a follow-up to Greg and Micah’s love story.

Alex is the gorgeous, fit, state’s attorney who will be prosecuting Greg’s case against his bashers. The story follows a timeline of approximately a year—between the initial meeting to review evidence and the final trial outcome. During that year, Joshua meets Alex, the two hit it off and become friends, and then later explore their attraction to one another. What starts as two friends meeting for cooking lessons—Alex is going to teach Joshua—ends as two men who can no longer deny what they feel for one another.

But it’s a very long, slow burn. And I loved every minute of it. From the recipes being prepared (the author really triggered my hunger pangs with some of these mouthwatering dishes) to the camping trip the kids planned in the hopes of matchmaking, to the harrowing days of the trial, and finally, to Alex learning to trust again, every moment was just perfect. Even my family asked why I was constantly smiling. I tried to explain that I had fallen in love with two men who had captured my heart and wouldn’t let go. 

Concurrent with the development of feelings between Alex and Joshua, we were treated to glimpses of Joshua’s past with his lovely wife, Rachel, and Alex’s past with his partner, Theo. Greg was still on crutches when the story opened and Micah was still struggling to put together enough artwork for an exhibit he was set to do in their small town. They, too, were an essential part of this story and readers were treated to their growth as a couple as well as to witness the outcome of Greg’s work to convince other young men to stand against the thugs who beat them. 

From the first chapter, the author endeared these characters to me. Joshua’s repulsion over using his bare hands to squish the meatloaf he was preparing made him very human. The time that elapsed as he and Alex learned more about each other, met for coffee, watched movies, cooked together, and finally, acknowledged the spark of attraction was just right. My favorite scene—and there were many to choose from—is the Cards Against Humanity game Naomi set up. Little did she know her father had such an evil streak. It was great fun; so much so, I felt I was there. And my favorite quote in this book is an old adage: “There may be snow on the rooftop but there’s fire in the furnace.” That is most definitely very apropos here.

I could go on and on. There’s just so much to like, so many wonderful memories, such engaging characters that the least I can do is very, very highly recommend this story to lovers of MM romance, particularly those who enjoy men with a little “snow on the rooftop.”

The cover by Meredith Russell features two very handsome older men, each exactly like the author’s description of Alex and Joshua, set against a snowflake background.  Perfect in every way, I’m so happy to see a cover match the description of the MCs.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 305 pages
Published November 24th 2018
ASIN B07KVJCP74
Edition Language English

Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Christmas Lane (Lighthouse Bay #1) by Amy Aislin

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Age gap and slow burn are two of my favorite tropes. Add to that, snow and Christmas holidays and I couldn’t be happier. This lovely, sweet tale of the romance between Zach Greenfeld and his former elementary teacher, Holland Stone, is perfect in every way.

Zach is back in Lighthouse Bay after graduating with a degree that will allow him to be an event planner—a role that fits his highly organized habitual list-making life. While waiting for an interview that will get him out on his own, he’s helping his sister in the family-owned café and crushing on Holland Stone, the gorgeous older handyman who was once his third grade teacher.  So what if Holland is fifteen years older? He’s hot and that’s enough to start.

Holland has started his own business making custom doll houses, and in between doing handyman work for townsfolk he’s working on his float for the annual Christmas parade competition.  He hopes to draw attention to his skills but is surprised when his work on the float draws Zach to him instead.  Zach has accepted the temporary position of town event planner so he gets to spend a lot of time with Holland in the warehouse where the floats are being built.  And slowly, Holland begins to view Zach as more than a happy-go-lucky kid. 

I loved the very slow buildup of their attraction and all the events, activities, and character interactions that happened along the way.  Their chemistry was strong and their emotions high. Their sex was off page and that didn’t matter to me at all. There was so much more to enjoy on page that using my imagination for what may have happened in the bedroom was just fine.

There’s really nothing about this story I didn’t like and I think it would make an excellent gift to a best friend and/or fellow MM romance lover.

The cover art by Jay Aheer at Simply Define Art is a park bench covered in snow. The bench plays a major role in the story, and that plus the snow are the perfect symbols to choose for the cover. Read the story to find out why.

Sales Links:

Amazon: http://geni.us/XmasLane

iBooks: http://geni.us/XmasLaneApple

B&N: http://bit.ly/XmasLaneBN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/XmasLaneKobo

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition
Expected publication: November 29th 2018
ASIN B07J5SZXMD
Edition Language English
Series Lighthouse Bay #1

Neve Wilder on Cracker Jacks and her new release Centre Of Gravity (Nook Island #1) by Neve Wilder (excerpt and giveaway)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Neve Wilder here  today talking about her latest novel Center of Gravity and  Cracker Jacks! Welcome, Neve!

Thank you so much for having me today! So Cracker Jack—yes, the caramel popcorn stuff with the prize—is a thing in the beginning of this book, and I’m going to talk about how it ended up becoming this oddly appropriate symbol for their unfolding relationship in Center of Gravity.To be honest, the whole Cracker Jack idea just popped out when I was writing. I saw Rob, my grumpy accountant, standing at the window, and when I thought about what he was seeing outside, I saw Alex with a box of Cracker Jack in his hand, tossing bits in the air and catching them in his mouth. It was weirdly specific, so I ran with it, liking how the sight threw Rob off and cast him back into his own memories of baseball games and bleachers.

There’s a part in the book where they argue/flirt over the merits or lack thereof of Cracker Jack, with Rob dismissing the treat altogether as too sweet and the prize disappointing, and Alex disagreeing, saying that it’s all about the anticipation and that the prize doesn’t matter either way. It’s a really telling moment of their character—Rob’s grumbly pessimism to Alex’s persistent optimism.

Rob starts to pick up boxes of Cracker Jack to give to Alex, and this thoughtful gesture on his part signals that he’s more into Alex than he’ll admit. As their relationship progresses, Rob begins to realize that Alex might be right: it’s all about the journey. Though the prize in this case—their hard-won happily ever after—ain’t too shabby, either!

 
Excerpt from Center of Gravity. In this bit, Rob and Alex discuss the merits—or lack thereof—of Cracker Jack while Rob tries to rein in his attraction to Alex.
*****

Alex looked up at me again. I thought he might say more about my dad, but instead he tossed a Cracker Jack in my direction, calling out “Catch!”

I had to veer hard to the right to catch it, but I did. The caramel melted on contact and stuck to my teeth. He gave me one of those gleaming, sun-bright smiles. “By the skin of your teeth.”

I leaned over, snatching the box and shaking a few in my hand so I could return the favor. He caught it easily.

“The best part of this stuff was always the prize. They’re not really that good.”

“You’re wrong.” Alex tossed another kernel up in the air for me to catch. I threw up my hand and caught it midair. “The prize is always disappointing. But it’s all about the anticipation, that maybe someday the prize will be really good. Cracker Jack itself is decent.”

“How is that any different than what I just said?”

Alex shrugged. “It just is.” Then, fishing through the box, he pulled out the wrapped prize and tossed it in my direction. “Do the honors.”

I peeled the paper back to reveal a smiley face with a disembodied hand giving a giant thumbs up.

Alex laughed. “See, terrible. But admit that for a second you thought maybe it’d be something good.”

“Not even for a millisecond.” I smirked.

“So jaded.”

I slid the sticker from the backing and held it up on my finger. “It’s all yours, color whiz.” I leaned forward on my knees to stick it in the center of his T-shirt, fist bracing my weight to one side of Alex’s leg as I pushed the sticker into cotton. His chin angled down as he examined my handiwork, and then his eyes met mine, his grin fading. He licked his lips and I had to force a casual smile. Don’t mind me as I try to inhale you.

“Rob?”

First I was just relieved he didn’t call me Mr. Macomb, then came a strange mashup of anxiety and awareness that I was still hovering in his space. It was too damn tempting to stay in that pocket of air scented with his soap, his hair, his deodorant, the Cracker Jack-tinged sweetness of his breath.

“Yeah?” I forced myself back onto my own patch of carpet that smelled of dogs and age.

“Thanks for giving me this job. Seriously.”

I cut a dismissive wave at the liquid green-gold sincerity of his eyes. “Break my heart, why don’t ya.”

His sober expression gave way to another grin, this one mischievous. He was good at layering his expressions with nuance and, as with the paint chips, I was becoming more adept at discerning the undertones.

His brows bounced. “Give me a chance to.”

I tossed the empty box of Cracker Jack at him and stood. I needed him out of the house before I decided I needed him to stay.

“Go home,” I said, not unkindly.

Winslow grunted and huffed air, stretching out long against Alex’s leg and nuzzling his head against Alex’s thigh.

“And take this damn traitor dog with you.”

“Seriously?” he said, his hand sweeping over Winslow’s belly before he stood.

“No. He hasn’t made me miserable enough. Yet.”

 

Buy Links:Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2DTNP55

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2Rln8sB

Length: 98,000 words approx.
Cover Design:Jay Aheer
Blurb

When life comes apart at the seams, love is the only thread that can repair it.


Accountant Rob Macomb has a stable job that he’s good at and… that’s about it. A year of nothing but heartache leaves him seeking refuge from loneliness and grief behind spreadsheets, punishing daily runs, and the occasional anonymous tryst. He wants only to bury the past and focus on his career, but he has one last task to complete: pack up his parent’s quaint beachside house and put it on the market.
Alex Andrews is a budding artist with a penchant for Converse, Cracker Jack, and piercings. Family turmoil sidelines his dreams of finishing art school and building a career in three-dimensional design, and now he’s doing whatever he can to keep everyone afloat.When Alex shows up as a part of the moving crew hired to help Rob clean out the house, what should be a simple move becomes far more complex. Because it’s not the first time they’ve met, and their last encounter was memorable for all the wrong reasons.The attraction between them is undeniable and intense, but Rob’s hell-bent on pushing everyone away, and Alex is on the verge of spinning out of control. Can a grumpy accountant and a bootstrapping artist find their center of gravity together, or are they on a collision course to heartbreak?*An emotionally-charged, slow burn m/m romance featuring an age gap, hurt/comfort themes, and a hard-won happily ever after. This is the standalone first in the Nook Island, Georgia series.*

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.

Neve Wilder lives in the dirty South, where the summers are hot and the winters are…sometimes cold. She is a mom to three rambunctious weebeasts who have joined forces in a mission to carpet the family home with toys and small items that really suck to step on at six in the morning.


She reads promiscuously, across multiple genres, but her favorite stories always contain an element of romance. Incidentally, this is also what she likes to write. Slow-burners with delicious tension? Yes. Whiplash-inducing page-turners, also yes. Down and dirty scorchers? Yes. And every flavor in between.


She believes David Bowie was the sexiest musician to ever live, and she’s always game to nerd out on anything from music to writing.


And finally, she believes that love conquers all. Except the heat index in July. Nothing can conquer that bastard.

Newsletter: You can keep up with Neve’s future projects by joining her newsletter, where you can instantly download the free Watch Me, Extracurricular Activities #1 short story. The series continues exclusively for newsletter subscribers. Subscribe here: readerlinks.com/l/320361

Author Page: readerlinks.com/l/320362
Facebook Readers’ Group: readerlinks.com/l/320364
Website: https://www.nevewilder.com
Goodreads: readerlinks.com/l/320363
Amazon Author Page: readerlinks.com/l/320389

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New Book Release Blitz for Death Days by Lia Cooper (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Death Days

Author: Lia Cooper

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 6, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 70000

Genre: Paranormal, college, teaching, magic, dark, slow burn, age gap, vampires, shifters

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Synopsis

By day, Professor Nicholas Littman works as an itinerant professor at a small college in the Pacific Northwest. He teaches seminars on mythology and the intersections of folklore and magic in the ancient world. By night, he’s the local necromancer, a rare magical talent that has left him alienated from other practitioners.

All Nick wants from life is to be left alone to run his magical experiments and teach kids the historical context of magic without anyone being the wiser. Unfortunately, his family is sworn to sit on the council of the Order of the Green Book—a group of magicians dating back to the Crusades—and they aren’t willing to take Nick’s no for an answer.

As though that wasn’t bad enough, a coven of Night Women has arrived in town, warning Nick that there are wolves at his door he had better take care of. But what can one necromancer do when every natural and supernatural card seems stacked against him?

Excerpt

Death Days
Lia Cooper © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: The Professor
“Today we’re talking about the elision that occurs between Thoth worship in pre-Ptolemaic Egypt and early Greece. Let’s break into four groups for seminar,” Professor Nicolas Littman said, eyeing the half-empty teaching theater. He divided the room with a sweep of his arm and glanced at the clock on the back wall.

“We’ll meet back here in thirty minutes to discuss your thoughts as a group. And I want every small group to come up with a question to pose to the rest of us.”

He felt gratified at the way they began shuffling together into little clusters without further prompting.

“One of you should go use the lounge outside,” he said, waving absently at the small group at the very back of the room.

He didn’t care if they took the direction or not. He trusted in every student’s desire to escape the four walls of the classroom given a millimeter of freedom. All that mattered was that he now had thirty minutes of his own time in which to play hooky.

Nick grabbed a book and the vape out of his bag, and slipped out of the left-hand exit.

Why someone in the administration had decided to give him a corner theater for this class was beyond him. Four credits on Hermetic Mythologies and Cosmologies was hardly in demand. Especially when it was offered as a four-and-a-half-hour option on Saturdays. But if it meant they got a spacious room and the otherwise empty SEM II C building to themselves, he shouldn’t complain. His students could spread out to their hearts’ content, leaving him to steal outside to smoke without anyone around to gripe at him.

“Not even a proper smoke,” he muttered, flicking the round silver device on, warming the metal under his hand.

Nick sat on the concrete with his back to the building’s cement exterior and his knees bent, pressed the tip of the vape between his lips, and held down the button for a long, comforting drag. He closed his eyes to the bright sun and tipped his head back against the wall. Vapor streamed out of his pursed lips in a thick, fragrant cloud and pooled in the air above his head.

“Hiding from the students again?” an amused voice asked from above.

“I’m not hiding,” Nick grumbled.

A thin body lowered itself down onto the ground next to him, all long spidery limbs that folded with the kind of soft careless agility Nick hadn’t felt in a decade or two.

He looked over at his—teaching assistant wasn’t the word. Technically, Josiah didn’t work for him at all. He was just an independent contract student working on an eight-credit history project, but he let Nick use him like a TA so that’s how he always thought of him.

“What do you call this?” Josiah asked, knocking their shoulders together.

“Seminaring.”

Josiah’s face crumpled up with amusement. His flexible mouth stretched into a laugh while his shoulders shook. Nick held out the vape on offer and waited for Josiah to notice.

“Is it peppermint?” he asked.

Nick nodded.

“No thanks.”

“I’m not buying cake or whatever it is you like.”

“Are you trying to say there’s something wrong with cake?” Josiah returned Nick’s stony look with a nonplussed expression.

“It’s unna—”

“First of all: I don’t remember tobacco ever coming in ‘peppermint flavor’ before, and second: everything you do is unnatural, so that’s not a valid argument coming from you, Professor Littman.”

Nick grimaced. “Don’t call me that.”

“Nick.”

He sighed and took another long drag off his vape, waiting for the nicotine to soothe the flutter in his heart that Josiah’s words had kicked up. Nothing he did was natural. The kid had no idea just how right he was. Nick glanced down at his empty hand, automatically checking his nails for pesky traces of dirt, but there was nothing unusual to see. He’d scrubbed up hard the night before. Done a thorough job not to leave any of those unnatural traces that might have given Josiah a better-formed picture of what his professor and academic adviser got up to in his free time.

Shit, even in his head, he sounded like a pervert.

“You’re wrong. Some things I do are perfectly natural.”

“Like what?”

Nick gave the young man a slow look. “You have a very active imagination, Mr. Wexler.”

“The imagination is a hungry organ, seeking perpetual nourishment. I like to think that it’s not so much I’ve got an active imagination, but rather a well-fed one.”

“That you feed on thoughts of me?” Nick smiled, playing the comment off as a joke even though it left something low and hot in his body to sit up with interest. A curl of amused interest that quivered at the thought of a bright young man captivated by thoughts of him, even if they were merely frustrated or prurient or the passing whim of childish fancy, as he suspected was the case.

“Sometimes,” Josiah admitted, looking away.

The two of them sat in companionable silence until the phone in Nick’s pocket hiccupped its alarm to let him know that the requisite thirty-minute small group had passed, and he had to return again to face the lethargy of his classroom.

“Did you need something?” he asked, using the wall to push himself to his feet, and slipped the vape back into his pocket.

Josiah pulled out a sheaf of printouts from his backpack and held them up for Nick to take. “Two new chapters. I wanted to get your thoughts on them before I continue. It took a—the narrative took a direction we haven’t discussed before.”

“All right. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thanks.”

“Do you want to come in?”

“Nah, I’ve got to meet Jen. Talk to you next week?”

Nick nodded.

Above them, the sky had dimmed as sure as if someone had taken a dimmer switch to the sun. Dark clouds cast a clear, watery gray light over campus, the edges of the quad hemmed in on all sides by towering dark trees that only helped to feed into the illusion of night creeping over them. The air smelled as though it were about to rain, bitterly cold and damp.

“Do you think it’s going to snow?” Josiah asked, climbing to his feet.

Nick shook his head. “Not a chance.”

He filed back into the teaching theater behind the stragglers. Sixty minutes for discussion and in-class readings, and then he’d be free for the rest of the weekend. Nick perched his feet on the edge of his desk, saw the streaks of mud clinging to his shoes, and dropped them again. He cleared his throat and looked out at the crowd for the first person to meet his eyes.

“Ah, Amelia, why don’t you start us off with a brief summary of what your group discussed.”

He folded his arms over his chest and listened with half an ear while his focus strayed repeatedly to the darkening sky and the promise of rain.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Lia Cooper is a twenty-something native of the Pacific Northwest, voracious reader, pop-culture addict, and writer. She cultivated an early interest in writing through fandom and completed writing her first full length novel with the help of NaNoWriMo.

In the years since, she’s dabbled in catering, barista-ing, and working as a pastry chef before finally returning full time to the thing she loves most: storytelling.

When she’s not glued to Scrivener, Lia enjoys playing video games with friends and reviewing books for her booktube channel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together by Ari McKay

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

 

When a Christmas shopping expedition brings Tomy Peralta into Jason Winters’ yarn store, both men feel an immediate and intense spark of attraction, but dance instructor Tomy intends to propose to his boyfriend Sean at Christmas. Unfortunately for Tomy, marriage isn’t on career-minded Sean’s agenda. Heartbroken, Tomy throws himself into his work until his mother convinces him that learning to knit might help take his mind off his failed romance.

Jason falls hard for Tomy, but he knows Tomy needs time to heal and to trust in love again. As Jason teaches Tomy how to knit, Tomy teaches him how to dance in return to prepare for his sister’s wedding. Just when it seems Tomy is ready for a new romance, Sean shows up, wanting Tomy back. Has Jason helped Tomy knit his heart together again, only for Tomy to give it to Sean once more, or will Tomy finally see Sean for what he truly is?

It’s rare that the authors known as Ari McKay make a misstep, let alone two (or more) in my opinion.  Normally, they can do no wrong.  In fact, that’s one of the major reasons I was so excited to read this story.  Ok, I’m always happy to pick up any McKay tale but I’m a knitter so I was intrigued to see how they would fold such a tactile and favored element into this story.

Honestly?  Disappointed in how underused the craft of knitting is here, from Tomy learning to knit (which is supposedly a huge deal), to Jason who dyes his own yarn, detail after sensuous, vivid yarn/knit related detail is left out of the romance and therefore out of the story.  We are told Jason teaches Tomy to knit, we hear briefly about the yard shop and that he dyes yarn?  But the particulars that actually bring all that alive?  Totally missing in action.  And I have read several stories from other authors that use knitting as a framework that make you want to jump into the nearest bags filled with skeins and make you want to start madly knit away at your own projects. Or go off and start fondling some yarn.  Not here, which  is a problem with a story that has a titled called  Knitting a Broken Heart Back Together.   Someone’s heart was not into the knitting part at allAnd that sort of includes the character of Jason He’s nice but something is  missing…

Then there’s the element of dance. Tomy and his family have always  owned a dance studio and competed professionally. Truly this book should have been called Waltzing your Broken Heart Back Together. Because its in the descriptions of dance, dancing together, the feeling of “floating” and being a partner in a sensual  embrace on the studio floor where this story comes soars. In short, the descriptions of dancing have everything that knitting lack. You can tell, that one of the author’s interest was vested here in dance, not knitting.  The part’s of the story in the dance studio?  They sang!  The main characters exhibited a connectivity that didn’t happen earlier in the story (certainly not when talking about knitting) and it’s dancing that brings them together.

Anyway, it take them a while to start dancing cheek to cheek, to its a slow burn sort of romance as Tomy gets over his disastrous love affair and finds himself ready to love again…with his partner on the dance floor.  It is a sweet romance with cute relatives (Tomy’s) and relatively angst free story.

As I said, the only thing that just bugs me is the total fail with the knitting from the cover, title and the blurb.  Change it over to dancing and you have a winner.  Honestly.  did someone not read this story?  It’s all about the dancing. smh.

 

Cover art: Bree Archer.  Lovely cover.  Would work great for a book actually more about knitting.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2nd edition, 125 pages
Expected publication: July 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published December 16th 2014)
ASINB07DYK8PWN