A Free Dreamer Review:Time Taken (Out of Time #3) by C.B. Lewis

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Time travel is a precarious business at the best of times, but when Qasim El-Fahkri’s mission to the past ends in violence, it has a ripple effect through every level of the Temporal Research Institute.

Rhys Griffiths finds himself caught in the wake of the disastrous jump, his own career uncertain. With the Supervisory Board breathing down his neck, operatives demanding answers to baffling questions, and life outside of work bearing down on him, his only respite comes from Qasim’s company. As the professional slowly becomes the personal, they must confront the echoes of their own pasts to try and move forward in the future.

But another past is waiting for Qasim, and there may be no coming back from this one…

For full enjoyment, it is recommended to first read books 1, Time Waits, and 2, Time Lost.

If I only had one word to describe “Time Taken”, it would have to be “surprising”. I really didn’t expect the story to go the way it did.

First of all, the blurb implies this doesn’t work as a stand-alone. I have to disagree. I didn’t read the previous two books and didn’t really feel like I missed something. Other than some background of the MCs and a bit of world-building.

While I read a lot of SciFi and Fantasy, time-travel isn’t normally one of my go-to sub-genres. It’s more something I only read every now and again, so I can’t really judge how unique this book actually was. However, it certainly felt unusual. Historical Istanbul and Uzbekistan aren’t exactly the first places I’d expect people to travel to. I really enjoyed finding out a little more about those places. It feels like Europe is the go-to setting for any historical fiction, so this was a nice change.

Qasim is a practicing Muslim and yet the book isn’t about Islam or any other religion. It’s not about a young Muslim struggling with his faith and his sexuality. It’s not about a homophobic family. In fact, Rhys, the Christian MC, is the one with a difficult family background. Qasim’s family is extremely supportive, loving and tolerant. They don’t care that Rhys is a man and a Christian. Qasim is a very religious man, he prays five times a day, fasts during Ramadan and doesn’t eat pork or drink alcohol, but he never tries to shove his believes in anybody’s face. I really liked him and I think this is the first ever practicing Muslim MC I’ve come across in M/M fiction.

Rhys is an interesting character as well. I think he might just be the first-ever Welsh I’ve read about. Plenty of English, Scottish and Irish, but nobody from Wales. And I actually learned a few words of Welsh thanks to him! I think a lot of his background story was talked about in the previous two books, so I felt like I kind of missed some info to really understand him, especially in the beginning.

The romance is quite slow. It takes Rhys and Qasim quite a while to admit their attraction to each other and act on it. I think it worked perfectly for the story and they were really sweet together. So very different, but neither tried to change the other one. They were so accepting and loving, it was really wonderful.

The whole first half of the story is rather slow. The book starts off with a bang in historical Istanbul and then I was kind of lulled into a quiet sense of peace. It was a nice story, nothing mind-blowing, but definitely enjoyable.

And then the second half started and suddenly there was so much drama it gave me whiplash. Suddenly I couldn’t put the book down and was biting my nails in anticipation and dread of what was going to happen to next. At times, I was actually a little bit teary-eyed and struggled not to start crying on the subway. I’m not going to give away too much, but let’s just say I really didn’t expect this kind of drama in a book about time-travel.

I felt like the whole story was very realistic. Qasim got injured right at the beginning of the book and came close to getting killed. And he’s actually traumatized by that and struggles to find his way back into his normal life. Often, characters in similar situation just shrug it off and bounce back to normal with no trouble whatsoever.

The ending was a little much for me, though it does make sense for Rhys and Qasim. Still, it was a little too cute for me.

Overall, I really, really liked “Time Taken” and I definitely want to read the previous and the following books of the series. My rating for the first half would have been 4 stars, the second half would have been 5, so I went with the average of 4.5 stars.

The cover by Natasha Snow is alright, if a bit generic. Nothing about it really says “time-travel” or hints at the places in the past that Qasim visits.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 450 pages

Published March 18th 2019 by NineStar Press

Cover Reveal and Giveaway for Shadows on The Border (Lost in Time #2) by A.L. Lester

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Release Date: March 9 2019
 
Publisher: JMS Books
 
Lost In Time Series
 

The Gate (a FREE short story introducing the characters from Lost In Time)
Amazon US | Amazon US | JMS Books


Book #1 – Lost In Time – Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS Books
 
Blurb
 

Newspaper reporter Lew Tyler and his lover, Detective Alec Carter, are working out the parameters of their new relationship. Meanwhile, time traveler Lew is trying to decide whether he wants to stay in the 1920s or find a way to get back to 2016, and Alec doesn’t know if he can bear the vulnerability of being in love with someone who uses such dangerous magic.


Fenn is a Hunter from the Outlands, come through the Border to search for the murderous Creature and its offspring at the behest of the Ternants, who maintain the balance between Fenn’s world and ours. Fenn strikes a bond with Sergeant Will Grant, Alec’s second in command, who is keen to learn more about his own magical abilities. As time goes on, Will grows keen to learn more about Fenn, as well.


Fenn has their own painful secret, and when they appear to have betrayed the team and goes missing in London, Will is devastated. He has to choose between following his heart or following his duty.


Moving through the contrasting rich and poor areas of post-First World War London from West End hotels to the London docklands, the men need to work together to capture the Creature … and choose who – and what — is important enough to hold on to and what they may need to give up to make that happen.


Author Bio


A. L. Lester likes to read. Her favorite books are post-apocalyptic dystopian romances full of suspense, but a cornflake packet will do there’s nothing else available. The gender of the characters she likes to read (and write) is pretty irrelevant so long as they are strong, interesting people on a journey of some kind.


She has a chaotic family life and small children, and she has become the person in the village who looks after the random animals people find in the road. She is interested in permaculture gardening and anything to do with books, reading, technology and history. She lives in a small village in rural Somerset and is seriously allergic to both rabbits and Minecraft


Website: http://www.allester.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CogentHippo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ALLesterAuthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cogenthippo/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/A.-L.-Lester/e/B01MZ6R1QR/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/allester

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New Release Blitz for 2230: The Perfect Year by CM Corett (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: 2230: The Perfect Year

Author: CM Corett

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 6, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30600

Genre: Science Fiction, time travel, research lab, scientist, aliens, fated mates

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Synopsis

Alex Coulson spends his days as a lowly laboratory assistant. At night, he watches movies in his lonely apartment and dreams of exciting adventures and handsome leading men.

When an electrical fire breaks out in the lab, an experimental machine malfunctions and Alex is caught in the explosion. He awakens, injured and confused, to learn he has traveled two hundred years into the future—to the year 2230. Under the care of the gorgeous Doctor Baylin Davies (a definite contender for a leading man) Alex recovers quickly, and his feelings for Baylin deepen each day. Baylin is handsome, sexy, caring, and a verified genius—everything Alex could ever dream of. Add in the whole concept of living in the future, and Alex soon decides the year 2230 is the perfect year to begin his new life.

But then there’s the major…

Whenever the intimidating military man, Major Marcais, is near, a strange power overcomes Alex’s senses, clouding his mind and weakening his desire to be with Baylin.

When the major reveals he is an alien and declares Alex to be his life mate, Alex must find the strength to resist him. And while fighting for the man he truly desires, Alex just might discover he’s the leading man in his own adventure.

Excerpt

2230: The Perfect Year
CM Corett © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Alex Coulson’s sports shoes made a loud squawk on the polished floor. His step faltered. Had anyone heard? He scanned the cavernous office foyer. With gray marble floors and clusters of expensive couches, it looked nothing like a scientific research center and more like an exclusive hotel. An empty hotel. Of course it was empty; only the truly dedicated work on Sunday. Actually, the dedicated and people like him—sad, pathetic losers without a life. He shook his head.

Okay, Alex, quit the self-pity party. No one likes a whiner.

After another quick glance around the foyer, he strode forward and headed down the long corridor lined with identical doors. The small panes of glass in each one allowed him a glimpse inside the research labs—all empty. He appeared to be the sole, sad, pathetic person here today. At the end of the corridor, he stopped in front of the door labeled “Authorized Personnel Only.”

One wave of his security pass over the sensor and the lab door slid open. The sharp smell of smoke and plastic invaded his senses. His nose twitched. Crap! Electrical fire! No doubt about it. As the wire’s plastic coating melted, it gave off a distinct smell. He scanned the room, searching for the source, but everything appeared normal. He dashed through the main room and into the smaller lab.

Like an early morning fog, a veil of smoke hovered near the far wall, centered over the control panel. In seconds, his heart rate hit full throttle. “Crap! Crap! Crap!” The Accelerator control panel! His focus flicked to the partition wall protecting the experimental machine from prying eyes. Good. No sign of smoke there. That would be bad. Very bad. He dashed into the thickening cloud of smoke and headed toward its source.

With short, gasping breaths, he swallowed and choked on the thick acrid air. What about the fire alarm? Why hadn’t it triggered yet? He slammed his hand onto the control-panel power button and then stepped back. No shutdown. Nothing. Like ocean buoy lights viewed through the fog, the faint glow of backlit buttons and switches remained. He blinked rapidly as his tear ducts reacted to the invasive smoke, creating a torrent of tears. From beneath the watery veil, he focused on the computer screen embedded in the wall. What the hell? Why was the program running? Had he forgotten to close it the previous night? His boss would have his—

A flame erupted behind the control panel.

“Oh, God!” Coughing, he stumbled backward. What should he do? Brave the flames and try to turn off the program? Call the fire department? Fire extinguisher?

Yes! Fire extinguisher.

He spun around and grabbed the red cylinder hanging on the wall. Maybe he could put the fire out before it caused too much damage. Maybe it wouldn’t even come to the attention of management. He ripped off the safety guard thingy, pointed, and pulled the trigger. The white substance spewed out toward the flames, dousing them in a cozy blanket of white powder. “Ahhh, yes. Against all expectations, Alex Coulson saves the day!”

His boss would be pleased with him. Okay, not pleased exactly because he had most likely left the Accelerator program running, but pleased because a major fire would have brought their unauthorized work to the attention of management. “And that would be bad.”

With a few short blasts of the fire extinguisher, he completed the blanket of white over the control board. He frowned and contemplated the scene. A little more wouldn’t hurt. Better to be safe than sorry. Crouching down, he directed the nozzle under the desk and pulled the trigger. Just in case.

He stood up and surveyed the room. Okay, it could have been worse. The whole lab could have gone up in flames, destroying countless hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment. Not to mention the oh-so-secret data his boss guarded as if it held the answers to the universe. Yes, it could have been much worse.

He drew in a deep breath…and doubled over with the force of a violent coughing fit.

Crap. Smoke. Not a good idea to take deep breaths.

Fire extinguisher still in hand, he stumbled back to the main lab. His breath rasped in his throat, forcing its way past raw, inflamed flesh. At least the air in the main lab remained relatively smoke-free. In a few minutes, he would re-enter the inner lab and clean up the mess. With a bit of luck, the damage would be minimal. Maybe he could fix it himself. Clean up the fire retardant, replace a few wires, and—hey presto! Good as new with no evidence of the program he left running—no cause to fire him.

The shrieking of an alarm pierced the air, assaulting his eardrums with shrill vibrations. He closed his eyes and mouth, scrunching and squeezing his face as if trying to block the sound from entering any other orifice. A millisecond later, a deluge of water erupted from the ceiling sprinklers like an unexpected shower of summer rain. The muscles in his jaw slackened, and his mouth fell open.

Oh, crap!

Water drummed on his head and shoulders, seeping under the collar of his jacket. Mini rivers flowed across computers and desks before cascading to the shallow lake forming on the floor. The fire extinguisher hit the ground beside his foot with a waterlogged clunk.

I’m a dead man. Not to mention fired!

His shoulders slumped. Could his life get any worse?

The floor shook, sending vibrations up his legs and into his queasy stomach. Oh shit. Rule number one: never ask if it could get any worse. What the hell? An earthquake? Light exploded from the inner lab, propelling bright sparks through the doorway like tiny shooting stars. Water sloshed around his feet as he stumbled backward. The Accelerator! “Oh, shit, shit, shit!”

So. Not. Good.

A loud humming joined the vibrations. It pulsed through his body, loud enough to be heard over the sprinklers and fire alarm, shaking him to the core. Paralyzed, he stood transfixed. The inner lab glowed with a pulsating green light, matching its beat in harmony with the tremors running through the building and his body.

The vibrations were so intense he couldn’t move his legs. His head hurt and numbness crept over his face. He clutched his head and squeezed his eyes shut. Vibrating, pulsating, and humming. Could his brain explode? Would they find his gray matter splattered all over the lab and floating in the newly formed lake?

As he opened his eyes, a fresh shower of sparks shot toward him. Burning! His arm burned, stinging like the devil at a precise spot on his forearm. He slapped the sleeve of his jacket like a maniac until the pain receded to a dull ache.

Okay, time to run.

In his mind, he stumbled toward the door, but his body refused to cooperate. He looked down. His legs were—

What the hell? His body appeared pixelated and a few sections were…missing? Whoa! There was some weird, scary shit happening.

The humming intensified, sending a wave of nausea through his stomach. He couldn’t feel his legs. Were they still attached to his body? The world tipped and then faded around the edges. No, no, no! He’d seen the experiments, and he had no way to stop the Accelerator from frying him—like those rats.

So. Not. Pretty.

At least no one would miss him.

Oh, God, that’s a sad and pathetic fact.

Searing hot pain exploded in his head like a—

“Ahhhhh!”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

CM Corett is an Australian author of M/M romance who has given up on trying to limit herself to one sub-genre. She writes contemporary, historical, sci-fi, and time travel… and she may have a few paranormal drafts hidden under the bed! An avid writer and reader of love between men, she has lived in the USA and traveled the world gathering inspiration for her stories. She loves movies, superheroes, and video games with awesome graphics. She hates housework and anyone who expects her to notice (or care about) the dust on top of the fridge.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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A VVivacious Release Day Review: The Eye of Ra (Repeating History #1) by Dakota Chase

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Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 5
 
Aston and Grant are at odds with each other almost from the moment they first see each other. Besides the fact that they are both delinquents serving out their sentence in the Stanton School for Boys they have nothing in common. But they have no idea what the future has in store for them.
 
Aston thinks he is in enough trouble as it is but when a fight with Grant accidentally leads to a fire in their history teacher’s office, effectively destroying all his possessions, is when he will truly learn what trouble looks like. Because when your history teacher is Merlin and his possessions are some of them most valuable relics of all time, nothing is out of bonds and everything’s possible, even a visit to ancient Egypt to steal the Eye of Ra from King Tut himself.
 
This book was a very boring read especially for much of the first half of the book. Things happen pretty slowly and I also couldn’t identify with Aston’s character much in the beginning. Things do get interesting in the latter half but overall this book is a dull read with a few good moments.
 
The fact that this book has time travel, Ancient Egyptian History, Merlin and is a YA LGBT romance and still failed to make an impression on me is very telling. This book has so many good things going on that nothing gets the right amount of attention. The entire part of the back prior to the office’s destruction feels like a drag because you already know what is going to happen from the blurb and the fact that I couldn’t sympathize with Aston’s character made it worse. But when the moment finally comes everything happens too fast. I think there should have been a moment here just for the reader to digest the fact that Merlin is their history teacher and to start wondering what the hell he is doing in Stanton.
 
The part of the book taking place in Egypt is an improvement over the parts of the book preceding it. But there is a little too much historical detail, at times this book starts reading like a history textbook especially when Aston starts describing people and things and the decor in great detail. This often had me wondering how a teenager would know so much about Ancient Egypt and the fact that he watched one documentary, god knows when, isn’t enough justification.
 
Things get better to again become a drag which is only salvaged by the budding romance between Aston and Grant which is what made me like the book because prior to that reading this book was a chore, but the whole retrieving the amulet thing is too dragged out. I found myself constantly wishing that they would just get it and get back because it seemed like there was no good reason to keep putting it off.
 
Personally, I think this book would have been much better had it been a short story instead of a novel because everything that is interesting in this book could be better concentrated had this book been shorter. I really can’t say if I would like to continue this series because for me the only good thing in this story was the romance between Grant and Aston, the rest is pretty much a drag.
 
Cover Art by Anna Sikorska. I really liked the cover.

Sales Links: Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 180 pages
Expected publication: May 16th 2017 by Harmony Ink Press (first published May 15th 2010)
ISBN 1635333709 (ISBN13: 9781635333701)
Edition Language English
Series Repeating History #1

Aidee Ladnier on Writing, Life and her release ‘The Applicant (Busted Labs #1)’ (excerpt, interview and giveaway)

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the-applicant-by-aidee-ladnier

The Applicant (Busted Labs #1) by Aidee Ladnier
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy Your Copy Today at 

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to be interviewing  Aidee Ladnier today.  Welcome, Aidee!

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Our Interview with Aidee Ladnier!

Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog today! I’m excited to be posting about my new book, THE APPLICANT. I love my characters Forbes and Oliver, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with your readers.

  • Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?I was definitely an early reader and read my first book (Dr. Seuss’s One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish) before I started kindergarten. But the stories I remember loving the most were the fairy tales. I had several books by the Grimm Brothers, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Anderson. I remember loving the scary situations and the happy endings. I’d read them over and over again until I knew them by heart.
  • How early in your life did you begin writing?I began writing around twelve years old. My first stories were inspired by dreams and books I was reading. I wrote one early story about an intergalactic romance, another about a girl pirate, and another about a girl with a ghost best friend. I wrote short stories in high school and even published a little, but gave up fiction in college for academic writing. It’s only been in the last few years I’ve taken up fiction again.
  • If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?This is a difficult question. I have so many good books on my phone. I guess if I had to choose, I’d definitely take a full set of Shakespeare’s works. He had such an amazing insight into human beings. All his best characters are flawed and know their flaws, either working to change or worse, unable to escape them. For mysteries, I’d take the complete Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve been reading Sherlockiana since my pre-teens. Anytime I want to break down a simple mystery, I study those. If I get to take fantasies, it will always be the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien. Science fiction is a little harder. I have a lot of favorites there—Isaac Asimov, Ursula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Lois McMaster Bujold. I’m afraid I couldn’t choose between those. And romance…don’t tell anyone, but I’m a total Jennifer Blake fanatic. Her heroes are to die for.
  • Can a author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?Personally, I think all of an author’s characters are their favorites. Otherwise why would they write them? But I have to say, Forbes and Oliver hold a special place in my heart. Their love story never runs smooth no matter what timeline they inhabit. It’s as if they’re pulled to each other. Despite their troubles, they keep coming back to each other again and again.
  • Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?I adore science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and mysteries the most. I love a good romance, but I want a little something extra to add a zing. Science fiction is the fiction of possibilities, to paraphrase Ray Bradbury. It’s such a hopeful genre. The paranormal and mysteries have always drawn me because I like questions. A mystery with a satisfying conclusion scratches that curious itch.
  • Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?I’m a little of both. I love to plot. Ruminating about a story is one of my favorite pastimes. I often outline a story down to the nth detail only to sit down to write and the story run off in the opposite direction! But I must admit, it’s tons of fun to see a story develop on its own.
  • Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?That’s an interesting question. A story can arise from anywhere. It might be a phrase someone says, or a news item I read, sometimes a place I visit. THE APPLICANT includes on two of my favorite things, robots and time travel. I loooove robots. I wanted to write a “not very mad scientist” story and including a robot was a must. Then I realized he’d have to have a reason to build the robot and the cuddly juggernaut that became Forbes’s teddy bear robot was born. I thought Forbes would want to create a friend for children who felt small like he had as a smart little boy attending college alongside older teenagers and adults.
  • If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?Right Beside You. I’m married to a great guy. I met him in college and we became fast friends but ONLY friends. We stayed friends even though I married Mr. Wrong and he married Miss Even More Wrong. So when he was divorced and then I divorced, we both commiserated on being single and started hanging out together again. But all our friends kept telling us we should quit with the friends stuff and date instead. Just to shut them up, we finally went out on a date. And we both really liked it. We liked it enough that we married 20 years after the first time we met. So the perfect guy I was searching for was right beside me.

So now that you know a little more about me, what would your romance novel be titled? Tell me down in the comments!

✯✯Giveaway✯✯

Don’t forget to sign up for my Rafflecopter Giveaway. There are prizes and gift cards! Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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Blurb

How can something so cuddly and adorable be so destructive? The teddy bear robot decimating his lab is only the first disaster of the day for roboticist Forbes Pohle. If he can figure out how to end its rampage, he still has to interview applicants for the position of research assistant and convince the time-traveler on his doorstop that they should be making their future right now. Oliver Lennox didn’t travel back in time to have a quickie in the blast chamber—but it certainly is fun. This younger Forbes is a sweeter, more innocent version of his lover. And it will be hard to leave him behind in the past.

If you like sexy nerds, humor, plenty of action, and a love story not even time can disrupt, this romantic adventure has the perfect credentials for the job. 

Available from Dreamspinner Press

Excerpt from THE APPLICANT by Aidee Ladnier

Forbes Pohle worked the needle-nose pliers carefully behind the eye sensors of his teddy bear. He needed to make one little adjustment—

The buzzer on the door sounded, nerve-jangling and insistent, from the speaker overhead.

Startled, Forbes jerked the wire he was fiddling with free from its connection, rendering the small robot blind. The head-plate spring snapped, and the access panel clipped his hand as it closed. Forbes swore and shook his stinging fingers as the front door buzzer blared again.

Frustrated, he threw down the pliers and ran both hands through his mop of brown hair. Reacting to the clatter, the tiny robot turned its head left and then right before running off the table.

Luckily the teddy bear caught itself with its face when it hit the floor.

Undaunted, the bear scrambled to its furry feet and darted toward the other side of the lab. Forbes sighed at the sound of another imperative buzz.

“You won’t get the job if you don’t stop with the doorbell.” He stood and shoved the ends of his wrinkled white dress shirt back into his khaki pants. He typed in the power-down sequence for the bear before shutting the lab door and walking toward the front of the house. His visitor had graduated to using the door buzzer as percussion, the drone now going off and on in a jaunty rhythm.

Forbes still wasn’t sold on hiring a research assistant, but he wanted a lab assistant and he needed an administrative assistant.

Most of all, he longed for a friend.

Hiring someone wasn’t the best way to go about finding one, but working with somebody was a good start, right?

Forbes checked his reflection in the foyer mirror. The dark brown of his eyes was almost invisible against the bloodshot whites. His stomach rumbled, and he promised himself he’d take a break and eat as soon as the interview concluded.

At the next buzz, he spun and yanked open the large front door. Holy crap.

He wished he’d gotten a little sleep last night instead of staying up to tinker with the bear.

A wiry man stood on Forbes’s doorstep. He was dressed in a T-shirt, tight black jeans, black nail polish, and red Chuck Taylors. His strawberry blond hair was spiked up in front. The corners of his eyes and his freckled nose wrinkled.

Forbes blinked back his surprise and opened his mouth, expecting words to come out. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Come in.” Forbes waved him inside the house. “I’m Forbes Pohle. I’m the one who posted the job listing.”

The man grinned and held out a hand. “Very pleased to meet you, Dr. Pohle. I’m Oliver Lennox. Please call me Oliver.”

Forbes blushed at the title as he clasped Oliver’s warm hand. Forbes was a PhD three times over, but he hadn’t put that in the advertisement.

“If you’ll come this way, we can talk in the lab.” He turned and walked back down the hallway to the adjacent laboratory, assuming the applicant would follow.

“Oh, I didn’t come about…,” Forbes heard him say before he ran into Forbes’s back. To be fair it wasn’t his fault. Forbes had stopped short in the lab doorway.

During the few minutes he’d stepped out to answer the door, the laboratory had been destroyed.

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About the Author

Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, began writing at twelve years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, fold origami, send ping pong balls into space, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee’s to write both romance and erotica with a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

You can find her on her blog at http://www.aideeladnier.com or on her favorite social media sites: 

An Alisa Release Day Review: The Applicant (Busted Labs #1) by Aidee Ladnier

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

the-applicant-by-aidee-ladnierHow can something so cuddly and adorable be so destructive? The teddy bear robot decimating his lab is only the first disaster of the day for roboticist Forbes Pohle. If he can figure out how to end its rampage, he still has to interview applicants for the position of research assistant and convince the time traveler on his doorstop that they should be making their future right now.

 

Oliver Lennox didn’t travel back in time to have a quickie in the blast chamber—but it certainly is fun. This younger Forbes is a sweeter, more innocent version of his lover. And it will be hard to leave him behind in the past.

 

If you like sexy nerds, humor, plenty of action, and a love story not even time can disrupt, this romantic adventure has the perfect credentials for the job.

 

This was a sweet quick read.  Forbes is a completely innocent roboticist with no real world experience, wanting to make the world a better place.  Oliver is Forbes lover from the future doing a favor for his lover, but didn’t expect to be so drawn to the younger version.

 

Both of these characters were great.  We get a good amount of the back story from Oliver’s timeline and see why he really wanted to go back and help the younger Forbes.  I loved seeing when Oliver went back to “his” Forbes and they both have the memories of their original timeline, but then Forbes also has the “updated” memories based on Oliver’s trip and you get to see that it really did work out how Oliver hoped it would.  I am interested to see how this series with continue, if we will be following these characters or if new one will be coming to play.

 

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is great; I loved the visual of the younger Forbes and the “adorable” teddy bear.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 47 pages

Published: 2nd Edition, January 11, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 9781635332001

Edition Language: English

Series: Busted Labs #1

Enjoy Science Fiction? Check out Save Jake Venice by Asher Oswald (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Save Jake Venice 1000x400

Title: Save Jake Venice

Author: Asher Oswald

Publisher: Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date: 7/27/16

Heat Level : 2

Pairing: male/male

Length: 10,000 words

Genre:Gay Romance, Science Fiction, Time Travel

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Save Jake Venice Cover

Synopsis

When I heard Jake Venice had taken his life, I felt like I died with him. Suffocated by the fluff and fakeness of the plastic faces at his funeral, all I wanted to do was join him…wherever he was now.

I woke up the next morning with one last chance. Somehow, I was put ten days back, and I had one shot to try and save Jake. I drove across the country to find him, but when I did…How do you convince someone to hold on who’s already let go? How do you bring light to someone committed to the darkness? I have ten days to try.

Excerpt

No call from Jake. No call from the mechanics. As I take out my wallet to check on what cash I have left, the piece of paper falls out. It’s crinkled now. I unfold it.

One shot.

I look up and close my eyes, then stare at the words again. The future I remember seems like the dream now.

Did Jake really kill himself? Did I just dream it, and drove all the way out here only to be reminded of his rejection? But it was so real. I can’t abandon him in his darkness.

I fold the piece of paper back up and put it in my wallet.

 

Early evening and I’m back at the coffee shop, ordering my mocha and a ham sandwich. The barista grins, “The usual, huh?”

I already have a usual.

He’s mixing my drink as I catch his attention, “Do you know a Jake Venice?”

He looks at me sideways, “Is that, like, some kind of drink?”

“No, it’s a guy. He comes in here sometimes, I think. Glasses, goatee.”

The barista laughs, “That’s 90% of the dudes that come in here, man. Sorry.”

“He said he plays piano at some club around here on weeknights…any idea of where that might be?”

The barista swirls whipped cream onto my mocha and hands it to me, “That could be a lot of places. Check out the board by the door—customers put up posters and stuff there.” He hands me my sandwich, “Have a nice day.”

I devour my usual and then take a look at the large corkboard by the door. Posters and advertisements, one on top of the other, desperately vie for attention.

Despite all the screaming ads, an image catches my eye: Jake in a tux by a piano. He’s trying to look relaxed as a lounge singer, but his natural stiffness shines through even here.

Danny McGee’s Piano Bar in downtown…” I mumble to myself, fingers quivering as I punch the address into my phone. Perfect. It’s only a few minutes from the motel, just over the Potomac.

A cold wind picks up outside the bar, blowing my black jacket about and herding people inside for refuge. The fevered weather of the last few days is leaving.

Across the front, in bright cartoon letters, glows Danny McGee’s. Amplified piano reverberates from the walls, and my heart begins to pound. Another gale blows down the street, and the sky vomits rain. I flee for the doorway.

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Torquere Press

Save Jake Venice SquareMeet the Author

Asher Oswald hails from the cool, coniferous shores of Lake Superior. Raised on the boreal beauty of the North and long winter nights, Asher writes to penetrate the heart of the human experience, to lay bare its beauty as well as its anguish. To escape his own thoughts and inspire them, he enjoys hiking the North Woods, playing piano, and traveling the world to add to his growing collection of experiences.

 

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Asher-Oswald-1520340201628654/
Twitter: twitter.com/asheroswald
Blog: asheroswald.wordpress.com
Tumblr:
asheroswald.tumblr.com

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of Save Jake Venice.

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A Wynter Review: Kaminishi (Bittersweet Dreams) by Jan Suzukawa

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Kaminishi coverCollege student Michael Holden wakes up in an impossible reality: mid-nineteenth century Japan, face to face with Shinjaro Kaminishi, a living, breathing samurai warlord Michael has seen in a dream. Imprisoned by the warlord and interrogated about the future, Michael has no idea if what he’s experiencing is real… and then he finds himself back in present-day America.

Shinjaro’s commanding presence and smoldering sexuality draw Michael again and again to the past, where dangerous information is revealed and Shinjaro’s life is threatened. Through the mists of time and in the reality of modern Japan, Michael searches for the truth—and for the man who now owns his heart—Shinjaro Kaminishi.

It is a rare thing, coming across stories that blended the East and the West, even more so when stories take place in the past during a time period where such things weren’t ever heard of. So when I came across Kaminishi and its blurb, I was fascinated. Modern day America crossing with Samurai Japan. Two worlds with ideals as far apart from one another as it could be. I was interested in how the author handled the historical elements in her story and the conflict that was sure to come about.

The story had a great start. The premise was familiar – time travel. Suzukawa did a good job describing the mannerisms of her characters in such a way that I could hear the characters’ voices differently for each one, and I found myself liking our two MCs – Michael Holden and Shinjirō Kaminishi from the get-go. After chapter five, however, the journey started feeling long despite the history being enlightening. I think it was great that the author included as much of her research into her novel as she did and tried to show through Michael just how much of a culture-and-time-period-shock any one of us would experience if we were to find ourselves in Michael’s shoes. However, one of the hardest things about writing history or working within it was preventing it from becoming as dry as a history textbook. This wasn’t quite there, but it ventured pretty close in some parts.

This story made me think of the setting in The Last Samurai (movie edition), and straight from the introduction of Shinjirō, I read his character with the voice of Ken Watanabe, which just sent all manners of thrills for me through the intimate parts, I might add. The differences lie in that The Last Samurai takes place during the Meiji Period whereas this novel takes place during the Edo Period (with 20 years between them during which the Bakumatsu took place for about 15 of those years).

As I mentioned before, the story did drag through some parts, but it was also easy to follow and guess where the author was taking it. The context of the story, if one understood the history and how the way of the samurai operated, prevented this story from having a Happily-Ever-After (HEA) or a Happily-For-Now (HFN) ending. At least, that was my expectations as I read along.

I hadn’t realized that this novel came with 2 books, silly me. There wasn’t a table of contents, and the author never actually used any version of “the end” to tell where the story may have ended. So when I came upon the last page of Book 1, I thought the story was over, and that “final” chapter left me intrigued. I read there was supposed to be a sequel to this novel, and I figured Jan Suzukawa was going to write the journey of our characters finding each other in that book with the hope that there may be a happy ending there.

It made me think “Book 2” of the novel was an excerpt for the next novel. So when I realized there were a few more chapters to the story, I finished reading it and walked away with the feeling of disappointment. Book 2 stripped that sense of intrigue and build up I finally got at the final chapter of Book 1. It covered too much all at once, but it did give the men a happy ending of sorts.

I feel that Book 2 had the potential to be its own novel, and a very good one at that.

Some will love the story. Others will not. Whichever is the case, I think the story is worth reading. Despite some shortfalls, it managed to keep my attention though many parts. I do feel it necessary to inform readers that there are dark parts to this story involving suicide and beheading as per the custom of a time period, as well as an event that involved rape.

Give it a chance. Pick it up. It’s a stand alone if you don’t like it and choose not to continue.

The cover art was illustrated by Anne Cain (annecain.art@gmail.com). I think the simplicity in it and drawing it to resemble Japanese manga/Japanese art actually caught my attention faster than a more modern approach.

Personally, I think having a reference to how the characters looks like right there on the cover makes the book even more intriguing from the start. A samurai in the background paired with a modern looking man.

It seems to beg the question, “What’s their story?”

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

  • Author: Jan Suzukawa
  • Length: paperback, 270 pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: Bittersweet Dreams
  • Published: 1st edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2011; 2nd edition September 2015
  • ISBN-13: 9781615818501
  • Digital ISBN: 978-1-63476-111-6
  • ISBN: 1615818502

A Mika Review: Yes by Brad Boney (a Double Dipping Review)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 What if youth wasn’t wasted on the young?

Yes cover by Brad BoneyOn the eve of his fortieth birthday, Ian Parker is looking for a reboot. He may be the proud owner of a trendy coffee shop in Austin called La Tazza Magica, but his love life has been MIA for years. During a trip to Denver with his best friend, Mark, Ian buys an enchanted chocolate from a mysterious candy store—then wakes up from a nap two decades younger. After the initial shock, Ian realizes a quirk of the universe has given him a second chance and, with Mark’s help, he devises a plan to start over.

With a new lease on life, Ian sets his sights on handsome architect Bartley James, a regular customer at La Tazza. He pursues Bartley as Ian’s twenty-one-year-old alter ego, Ryan, with decidedly unexpected results. Joining Ryan on his adventures are Matthew, the dreamy new barista, Jeremy, the geeky high-school math teacher, and Sam, the pizza delivery boy. Even as misunderstandings and expectations collide, Ian remains determined to right his past mistakes and find his off-ramp to happiness.

I have grown to love Brad Boney. I know in the past I’ve been hesitant to start his other books because I didn’t know how much heartache I would be dealing with. I haven’t been let down yet. I absolutely adore The Nothingness of Ben it’s one of my favorite books ever and to see them pop up all over his books makes me warm inside. I love that he is able to build this magical world, his writing is always whimsical. I like that he deals with real life topics on top of the romance aspect.

In this book we meet Ian, forty year old coffee shop owner of La Tazza Magica, who’s in a slump and has a major man crush on Bartley James. Right off the back I fall in love with the characters. Ian and his best friend Mark travel to Denver for some debauchery and it’s hilarious. I won’t give away what happens. Enter one Ryan Parker who I really liked except for him making one of the dumbest mistakes in his life! I was so mad at him, did you not learn anything from your uncle Ian. I’m so happy Mark said something because I was thinking he couldn’t be that careless. Of course Boney paints this magical time with an abundance of gay porn history I knew nothing about but I definitely Googled some things and can I say Hello Al Parker.

All in all I like how everything ended up, my only thing was the ending with Matthew. And I loved the Walsh clan, Stanton & Topher, Marvin and the Dime Box crew all making a presence in this book. I am certain that Brad Boney just gave my friends a new game night game… it was totally fun with that scene as well as that amazing shout out to Teen Wolf!

Cover Art by Alex Saskalidis, I liked this cover as usual the symbolism of the story always is a depiction based off the cover. I love the simplicity in the title and the cover. Alex did a good job.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Published March 16th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632168429
edition languageEnglish

Review: Blue River by Theo Fenraven

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Blue River cover DSPPhotographic artist Ethan Mars is hanging out with friends at a house in Topanga Canyon.  When Doug recounts a story about a local porthole that allows people to go back in time, Ethan and his friend Randy decide to hike around on the trails to see if they can find it.  For Ethan the day is more about taking pictures than finding something out of science fiction, then the fog appears before them.  One misstep and Ethan tumbles through the fog and into 1863, albeit still Southern California.

Quinn Parker and his sister Hes own a farm in Blue River and when Ethan Mars stumbles out of the fog, neither is surprised as he is the second stranger from the future to find them in a year.  But unlike the previous time traveler, Ethan Mars is gay and represents everything Quinn Parker wants and has been keeping hidden.

While waiting for the portal to open again, Quinn and Ethan fall into a friendship and then a love affair doomed by time.  Or is it? When the  fog reappears, there is a choice to be made?  Who will stay and who will go?

Blue River is a terrific little romance stuffed full of elements that add texture and depth, giving it the feel of a much larger story.  Ethan Mars is a renown photographic artist who has made the sale of a lifetime and is celebrating with friends in Topanga Canyon, a place known for its artists, quirky atmosphere and gorgeous views.  When a friend wants to hike a little used trail in the canyon, they use the excuse of trying to find a time portal as the reason for their venture into the wild.  The descriptions of the canyon and the oddly floating bit of fog is a great way to start Ethan’s unexpected adventure into the past.

We’d been walking for half an hour when he stopped and held up a hand. “Ethan.”

I looked in the direction he was pointing, and about twenty feet in front of us, under the spreading branches of a copper beech, I saw semitransparent wisps of white flowing together and pulling apart a few feet above the ground. “That’s called fog, Randy.”

“Why is it only in that one spot, then? There’s no water nearby, and the temperature seems fairly constant.”

“We don’t know it’s only in that one spot. Never assume, man.” I brushed past him, heading for the mist.

“Wait!” he yelped, grabbing my arm. “Together, just in case, you know….” “

In case the fog decides to swallow me whole?” Chuckling, I kept walking, dragging him along. “Didn’t they make a cheesy movie about that?” Even close up, it looked like fog. Thin, wispy, and I could see through it to the woods behind.

I stuck a hand in the stuff, waggling it around and making faces at him as I intoned, “Bwahahahahaha….”

He rolled his eyes. “Asshole. I’m getting hungry. Let’s drop by Doug’s place, see what he has in the fridge.” “Yeah, okay.” So much for seeking Shangri-La.

Well, as we all know, the story doesn’t stops there.  Because, as Fenraven knows,  where is the fun in that? But the real surprises start in 1863 and the reality of pioneer life.  Fenraven does a great job in presenting the time period minus the “romantic candlelight” glow that seems to creep into some of the other historic romances I have read.  No, here is 1863 authentically presented with the warts of the time period to go along with the things that have been lost with progress.  So we get, or actually Nathan gets to eat food free of chemicals and genetic manipulation.  In 1863, a tomato or apple explodes on his taste buds, their flavor so sensational that Nathan mourns their loss in his time.  But Fenraven is also quick to include the lack of bathing because as Hes tells Ethan, “its not healthy”.  No bathing, no thoughts of  hygiene, no washing hands, …..so yeah, a closed in cabin is not a happy place to be after a week’s time.  Clothes get rank as does unwashed hair and soon Nathan is pining for 2013 and his shower at home.

And you don’t blame him a bit.

The author is good at vividly describing life in Blue River and 1863, both the pros and the cons.   Fenraven is also quick to note the dangers of open homosexuality in a time period where it is considered a sin and often punished by death.  Quinn Parker is a sexual innocent.  A young man engaged to be married to a woman who helped his family when they needed it.  Responsibility, obligations and society’s expectations have forced Quinn into asking her to marry him and now , with Ethan before him, he feels trapped. The more Ethan describes his open life in the future, the more regretful and conflicted Quinn becomes.  Then Ethan starts his seduction of Quinn, and his true nature surfaces, no longer to be denied.  If ever there was a genie in the bottle, its Quinn’s sexuality.  And Quinn despairs of ever being able to pass as “normal” again once Ethan shows him just how good it feels. Slowly the affection between the men turns into love, one with no apparent future to each man’s despair.

Another aspect of this story that Fenraven doesn’t gloss over is the fact that Ethan could never survive in 1863.  He is ill prepared by his upbringing, his attitudes, and his personality.   He has a hard time hiding who he is from Hes, a judgmental and wary 16 year old, he would never be able to pull it off in front of a more discerning audience. Nathan just can’t hide who he is.  It is one of the reasons Quinn loves him and it is the reason that they will part.

There are a few things that bothered me.  At one point Nathan is missing his family at home (this story takes place during the holidays) but then thinks that he has a family here in 1863 too.  Uh, no he doesn’t.  Hes dislikes him intensely and distrusts him as well.  The only one happy to have him there is Quinn, so I am not sure what family Fenraven is talking about.  Hes is a believable but dislikable character, smug, sure of her universe and disapproving of any that might prove a threat to her happiness, definitely a tad on the puritan side. So yes, she seems real.  The author did a great job making her somewhat stinky flesh and blood but don’t expect me to like her.

And yes, there is a happy ending but in my mind, I can never just leave it there (where I should).  Instead I start thinking about the future, and the romance in this story dims for a second.  But its the holidays, at least in this story.  Time for a suspension in belief in all things real and to hope for all things happy and in love.  I think I will leave the review right there.  At the end, just where all stories about time travel and holiday miracles should.

Cover art by Maria Fanning.  Just a lovely cover, perfect for the story.

Book Details:

ebook, 92 pages
Published October 9th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published December 13th 2011)
ISBN 1627981659 (ISBN13: 9781627981651)
edition language English
url http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com