Return to Tucker Springs with L.A. Witt’s It’s Complicated Book Tour (contest)

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Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Tucker Springs #7, It’s Complicated!

Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one ebook off my backlist (excluding It’s Complicated) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on May 4th, and winners will be announced on May 5th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Rafflecopter Drawing.itsComplicated_150x300(1)

***L.A. Witt:

So what is Jeff’s relationship with his ex-wife?

As you’ve likely gathered from the blurb for It’s Complicated, Jeff and his ex-wife are, shall we say, amicable. They run a business together. And, thanks to an impulsive moment while Jeff thought he and Brad were done forever, they’re having a baby together.

A lot of readers have asked what kind of relationship they have. Is this a ménage? Is Jeff considering going back to his ex-wife? Did he cheat on Brad? Are there male/female sex scenes in this book?

The simple answer to all three of those is No.

So, here’s a little excerpt to shed some light on how Brad and Jeff both feel about the situation, and about what happened in the first place:

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“It’s . . . a lot to process.” I took another drink. “What about you?”

Brad lifted his head. “What?”

“How do you feel about all this?”

“Does it matter?” He half shrugged. “It’s happening whether I like it or not.” The venomous undertone was subtle, but it was definitely there.

I fought the urge to reach for his arm. “It matters to me.”

His eyes narrowed. I cringed inwardly, bracing for whatever snide comment was on the tip of his tongue.

Then Brad squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Okay, I just . . . I have to know. Aside from the obvious”—he lowered his hand and looked straight at me—“how exactly did this happen?”

I blew out a breath. “How, or when?”

He cocked his head slightly and reached for his beer. “Both, now that you mention it.”

“It was while you and I had broken up completely. Just so we’re clear on that.”

“Okay.” If that was a relief, he didn’t let it show. I didn’t know if he thought I’d cheated on him or what, but he was keeping his cards close to his vest tonight. “So, what happened?”

“Do you really want the gory details?”

“Not the details, no.” He shifted in his chair. “I guess I’m just wondering how you guys went from . . .”

“From business partners to getting into bed together?”

Brad flinched. “Basically.”

I drummed my fingers on the side of my beer. “We were at work one night. It’d been, I don’t know, just a rough day for both of us. Rough week, actually. One of the engravers had fucked up a huge order, and Christine and I ended up staying until three in the damned morning to redo everything so we could still deliver it the next day.” I paused for a drink and rolled it around in my mouth as I replayed that night in my mind and tried to come up with a way to explain it.

It must have made sense at the time. Looking back now with a clear head, I couldn’t put the steps together. I couldn’t tell myself—never mind Brad—how it had happened. One minute, my ex-wife and I had been stressed and exhausted, alternately working together and sniping at each other as we tried to finish an expedited job at all hours of the night. The next, I’d had her up against the supply closet with her legs around my waist.

“Jeff?”

I swallowed the mouthful of beer. “I really can’t explain it. To be honest, it just . . . it just happened.”

He searched my eyes. “Was this the first time you guys—”

“Brad. Why are we doing this? Dissecting it isn’t going to change anything.”

“It’ll help me get my head around it.” He looked down. “I’m just . . . I’m trying to understand it. And figure out what it means for us.”

“For us?”

“Yeah.” He drained his beer. “Us versus the two of you.”

“The—” I sat up straighter. “Do you think Christine and I are going to get back together?”

His lips tightened, and his eyes dared me to tell him his worries were unwarranted.

I fought the urge to reach past our beers and take his hand. “Brad, it was a one-time thing. I can’t even explain why it happened. I guess that night, we both needed someone and . . .” I exhaled and avoided his eyes. “Maybe we were just blowing off a little steam. I don’t even know. But it’s not like that.”

“And is that going to change now that there’s a kid involved?”

I lifted my gaze. “If it was, do you think I’d be here with you?”
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Author Bio: L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt). L.A. can also be found at:

Goodreads Author Page
Facebook

It’s Complicated Blurb:

ItsComplicated_500x750After their umpteenth breakup, Brad Sweeney and Jeff Hayden are living apart and starting over from scratch. The morning after a promising first date, they’re more optimistic than ever that they can make it work this time . . . until Jeff’s ex-wife and business partner calls to announce she’s pregnant with Jeff’s baby. Brad’s already competing with a demanding business for Jeff’s time. Now there’s a baby on the way, and worse, he’s afraid Jeff is still carrying a torch for the woman who’s carrying his child.

Jeff is desperately trying to keep his life together, but before he can even get his head around the news that he’s going to be a father, his ex announces that she wants to leave Tucker Springs. Now he either has to take over her role at the shop while ferrying the baby back and forth from Denver, or move the business—and himself—with her.

Brad and Jeff knew reconciliation wouldn’t be easy, but they’re rapidly running out of room for compromise. And sooner or later, something has to give.

It’s Complicated is available April 28th from Riptide Publishing.

 

 

Book Details:

Author: L.A. Witt
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-134-2
eBook release: Apr 28, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-135-9
Print release: Apr 28, 2014
Word count: 52,000
Page count: 205
Type: Standalone
Cover by: L.C. Chase
– See more at: Riptide Publishing

 

 

Review: After the Fall (Tucker Springs #6) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

After The Fall coverNathan has pursued a dream of owning his own dressage horse and now after years of saving, Nathan has finally bought one.  His  Trakehner mare, Tsarina, is young but Nathan hopes to show her after they spend some time training together.  But all Nathan’s hopes and work of 15 years is shattered in one moment.  On Nathan and Tsarina’s first trail ride, a motorcyclist on the wrong trail causes a horrendous fall that breaks several of Nathan’s bones and sees him on his way to the hospital and Tsarina loose in the woods, his summer and hopes in ruins.

Ryan has always traveled where his wanderlust takes him with nary a thought of settling down in one place.  His current travels have brought him to Tucker Springs, Colorado on his way to Texas and a job for the winter.  But one wrong trail ride on his motorcycle changes his path after he causes a rider to fall after his horse shies when Ryan veers into their path.  The rider, Nathan, has  a broken leg, and a broken hand that resulted from a mean right hook after Nathan punched Ryan in his fury and pain.

Feeling guilty, Ryan offers to look after Tsarina while Nathan is incapacitated.  Before each man realizes it they have fallen into an easy friendship that soon turns into something more.  But each man has his own insecurities and issues to deal with that starts to throw up obstacles to love.  Can Ryan and Nathan put aside the past in order to make a future together?

After The Fall, Tucker Springs story#6, brings back a character, Nathan, that we first met in the very first Tucker Spring novel, Where Nerves End.  In that story, we come across Nathan as Michael’s young assistant in his shop Tucker Springs Acupuncture. He is introduced as a young, college age, nattily dressed gay man but we lacked a larger picture as to who Nathan was.  Now L.A. Witt fills in the portrait she started a while ago and we get to see his depth of character and his dreams for himself.  I found it startling that Nathan aspired to own a warmblood and show in dressage, a lovely quirk for a western  town where the style of riding is so different.  That is an unexpected and marvelous side of Nathan.  And by its inclusion, the author gives Nathan a layer that lets us know that he is a serious, disciplined and caring young man all at once.  Owning his own horse is a goal Nathan has spent “ten years of dreaming, three years of saving, and almost a full year of searching for the perfect horse”, so his happiness and anticipation on the first day he is going to get to ride his horse is palpable. And it makes what happens next scary and heartbreaking in vivid and authentic detail.

But the author has also given Nathan more than his share of past problems with men and those issues as well as watching his friends in the act of demolishing their own relationship has caused Nathan to pull away from any romantic relationships of his own at the moment.  As Nathan reasons it out for himself, he has a full life and schedule and a  romance would only add its unwanted complications at the moment.  I think we have all been there at one time or another and this makes Nathan a character we can certainly relate to.

The character of Ryan (no last name) is more of  an enigma.  We learn little of his past, some about his family and a smidgen about what prompted his tumbleweed lifestyle.   But frankly his personality is overshadowed by that of Nathan, who is telling the story.  That lack of fullness to his character leaves the resulting romance between the men lacking as well.  True, there is a sweetness to the manner in which they fall in love, a startling contrast to the way in which they first met.  I certainly enjoyed watching them become first friends and then lovers but it could have felt so much more real had Ryan been more fleshed out as a person and Nathan’s equal.

There were a few other quibbles for me in this story. One, for Ryan to learn how to push a dressage horse into a collected trot or canter using his seat with no training is a tad unrealistic, considering the amount of skill and training that goes into a dressage horse and it’s equestrian partner as well.  Yes, there are natural riders out there who just seem to “get it”.  They have a great leg and a natural seat that just sticks to the saddle, flowing along with the rhythm of their partner.  But Ryan doesn’t even know how to hold the reins in an English style, having learned the western method of riding which is completely different.   Beginners usually saw on the reins or pull too hard,   The subtle tickling of a braided rein, the slight tension required takes time, more time than Ryan had.  My other quibble is the lack of last names.  I don’t know why but this drives me crazy.  If you want us to believe in characters fully give them a complete name.  Unless they are Cher of course.  Stepping off my quibble box now.

For most readers the last two issues won’t be a problem with them.  It’s just nitpicking on my part.  But Ryan’s character and the swift resolution of their commitment issues might be more problematic.  I think another chapter or two would have seen the ending more drawn out and given the author more time to paint a more realized picture of a man who finally finds a place and person to call home.

I really enjoyed After The Fall and I think you will too, especially if you are already a fan of the Tucker Springs series.

Here are the stories in the  Tucker Springs series in the order they were written, and is recommended that they be read:

Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1) by L.A. Witt
Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Heidi Cullinan
Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3) by Heidi Cullinan
Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt
Never a Hero (Tucker Springs, #5) by Marie Sexton
After The Fall (Tucker Springs #6) by L.A. Witt

Cover Art by L.C. Chase, lcchase.com/design.htm.  Love the cover but ack…that posture, those flying elbows…tuck those babies in.   Shakes head.

Book Details:

ebook, 202 pages
Published October 7th 2013 by Riptide Publishing

Review: Covet Thy Neighbor (A Tucker Springs novel) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars

Covet Thy Neighbor coverTattoo artist Seth Wheeler watches as his new neighbor, Darren Romero, moves in across the hall from his apartment.  Darren hits all Seth’s buttons, he is cute, smart, flirty, with a great sense of humor.  Plus Darren seems to like what he sees when he looks at Seth, so things are looking great.  Until Seth asks Darren what he does for a living and all Seth’s expectations of a flirtatious romance or even a hot one night stand fly out the window.

Darren Romero came to Tucker Springs to take a position as youth minister at the New Light church in town and that is a very real problem for Seth. Seth is a committed atheist and has been since his church and his family threw him out when he told them he was gay.  Now Seth avoids even the mention of church and anyone who believes in religion, even someone as hot and engaging as Darren.

Being neighbors makes it hard for Seth to avoid the minister and Darren refuses to give up on their friendship and possible relationship even as Seth fights the growing attraction between them.  Seth knows that Darren is perfect for him in every way but one.  Can Seth finally make his peace with the past and the part the church played in his abandonment or will Seth let the man he has come to love slip away because of his faith?

I have loved each and every Tucker Spring novel that has been released and Covet Thy Neighbor is a great addition to the series.  L.A. Witt presents us with two beautifully developed characters and adds the unusual element of religion to the mix.  Seth Wheeler is a character introduced in previous stories.  He has hovered around the other couples as a best friend and tattooist in Tucker Springs but we never learned his story until now.

Seth came from an ultra religious family and conservative church. So when he came out, their reactions cost him his family and faith as he was thrown out of his house and permanently disowned.  In describing his past,  Witt gives us a very real feel for the deep pain and feelings of abandonment that Seth feels even now years later.  The author shows that the loss of family is a wound that never fully heals, and for Seth meeting Darren is like tearing off a scab on his soul.  Seth wants to protect himself and for him that means distance.  Distance from Darren and distance from the religion that hurt him so deeply.

Darren is his opposite, a man of faith for whom his religion is felt at the cellular level.  It is not possible to separate the two. I love that L.A. Witt treats this issue with the seriousness it deserves.  So many GLBTQ people have felt abandoned by their churches and religion just as Seth does.  Equally true is that not all religions or even individual churches are discriminatory. Some are supportive of the gay community, and it is important to give those pastors and institutions a voice as well.  The author does so here with Darren Romero, and it works beautifully.

Darren Romero’s faith is one he has arrived at only after working through a series of obstacles and events that could have derailed that faith at any time.  I loved that Darren is such a well rounded religious character. He has his flaws and his moments of doubt.  And his past also contains a time where his openess came with a cost. Darren is up front about his sexuality, he is smart, compassionate, and “smokin’ hot”, at ease behind the pulpit as he is in the bedroom.  And the arguments and discussions he has with Seth are thought provoking and ones that could be heard in towns across America.

Another element of this story that grabbed me was the GLBTQ youth that Darren worded with and provided shelter for.  The scene with Seth and the trans girl rings true. It’s also heartbreaking because you just know how many children out there this girl represents.  This novel is just what I have come to expect from L.A. Witt and the Tucker Springs series.  A great plot,  interesting, fully realized characters and a narrative that moves the plot along at a lively pace.   I was astonished at how quickly I finished the story, to my utter dismay.  At the end, I wanted more of Seth and Darren, and the kids, and well, more of Tucker Springs.

As I stated before, I can’t get enough of this series, and each new story just cements it place as one of the best continuing series out there.  I can’t wait to see what these amazing authors will come up with next.

I love this cover.  Much like the other covers of this series, it works on all levels, from the models to the background.  Just great.

Tucker Springs Website

Here are the books in the order they were written:

Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1) by L.A. Witt

Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Marie Sexton

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3) by Heidi Cullinan

Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) by L.A. Witt

Never a Hero (Tucker Springs, #5) by Marie Sexton

Missing Spring, Rejuvenation, and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Sigh.  The Vernal Equinox has come and gone, the calendar proclaims its spring without refute for all who look at it but the weather will not cooperate!  One day of nice weather is quickly followed by a week of sullen skies, cold winds, and the threat of snow or sleet.  And while we have been truly lucky here in the DC metropolitan area in that all the snow and ice have gone around us, others like my daughter in Gainesville received over a foot of the white stuff.

To add insult to injury, I just received my first order of plants from a catalog nursery and each morning as I get my coffee, I see them lined up on the windowsill looking out over the gardens where they will live if this weather ever changes.  I swear I can hear them sigh along with me as we gaze over ground as hard as concrete and a bird bath filled with ice crusted water.

All the squirrels and birds wait for me to fill the feeders each day as they are emptying them as quick as I top them off.  I am sure they too are wondering if the weather will ever turn clement.   Red-tailed Hawks along with their smaller cousin, the Red-shouldered Hawks are wheeling over head in their aerial courtship displays. The black capped chickadees are inspecting the nesting boxes in the backyard so I know that soon the weather will change for the better and this cold, glum seasonal waiting room will be just a memory.  But at the moment, it just feels as though we are stuck in a pattern that refuses to let us go.

Sometimes that happens in life, whether we recognize it at the time or not.  What does it take for us to see that we are stuck in a rut? When does routine translate into a holding pattern?  I am not sure of the answer, only that  sometimes, if you are lucky, a change happens to bring about a seasonal changeover in a person’s life and you feel renewed once more.  Old hobbies are picked back up, or new interests in life are discovered. Much like the small green sprouts I see trying diligently trying to emerge from the ground in my gardens, your outlook on life changes and things take on a bright, new patina. Other aspects of your life that previously seemed dull and uninteresting are rewarded with a double take as they too reveal a different side of themselves.

I love spring and the changing seasons.  It doesn’t matter whether it is the spring slowly occurring outside my window or the one happening deep inside.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate winter too for one is necessary for the other to be truly glorious and appreciated.  The plants have needed their rest, some seeds requiring the cold in order to germinate in the spring, and a winter chill will keep some insect populations under control.  A cold winter’s night can make the moon and stars glow with a beauty found only during the winter months.  But oh, how wonderful the first warm, moisture laden air of spring!  It smells of rejuvenation, of new life, and I can’t wait to throw open my window and feel its breath on my face again.

It’s coming and soon.  I just need to be patient, along with my plants on the windowsill.  Sometimes, that is the hardest thing to do.

Here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, March 25:          Covet Thy Neighbor by L.A. Witt

Tuesday, March 26:          Storm Season by Nessa L. Warin

Wed., March 27:               Creature Feature by Poppy Dennison, Mary  Calmes

Thursday, March 28:       Diversion by Eden Winters

Friday, March 29:             The Mayfield Speakeasy by LA Witt

Saturday, March 30:        Collusion by Eden Winters

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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sláinte! Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  To start your St. Patrick’s Day, here is some great music from Brogan’s Bar in Ennis, Ireland to get you fired up!

Half Irish, half Scottish, I love this day and today the weather has gone along with the program and seems particularly Irish. Overcast, damp, but not too cold, perfect for marching in parades all over the nation.

I have travelled to Ireland several times and found the leaving of it always comes with a crease in my heart, as though even my cells know that we are saying farewell to home.  My first time visiting with my high school daughter was both a delightful and revelatory, her feet seeming to find paths that she should not know where there.   My nights were filled of dreams of seals and shores and music carried along the winds over gorse covered hills, studded with stone.  And on the penultimate day, Heather and I were hiking in a verdant forest, far away from any others or so we thought.  And then we heard it, or heard them more accurately.  First the sounds of a waterfall, the roar getting louder the closer we got.  But what really made that day magical was the sounds of piping coming from high overhead.  We craned our necks to see where it came from and finally we found him, standing on a rock ledge, eyes closed, bagpipes swelling as he lost himself in the music he was playing.  We listened for a while and then quietly left, rejuevenated and enriched by a magical experience shared before she left for college.  One of my finest memories.

So day I hope for the best for all of you, of laughter shared, of love found and family held close. And as this website is, mostly, devoted to books I will leave you with a quote from an Irish author:

“As a writer, I write to see. If I knew how it would end, I wouldn’t write. It’s a process of discovery.”
– Author John McGahern

Here is the week ahead in book reviews:

Monday, March 18:                An Unconventional Union by Scotty Cade

Tuesday, March 19:                 Never A Hero by Marie Sexton

Wed., March 20:                     Redemption of the Beast by Amylea Lyn

Thursday, March 21:              Family Man by Heidi Cullinan

Friday, March 22:                   Nights in Canaan by Kendall McKenna

Sat., March 23:                        Natural Predators by Neil Placky

So, that’s the week.  Have a safe and wonderful St. Patrick’s Day.  Forego the green beer, that’s gross anyway and have a Irish Manhattan, so much better!

Review: Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs #1) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Where Nerves End coverJason Davis lives in Tucker Springs, Colorado and has most of his life.  But right now Jason would love to be anywhere but in the situation he is in.  Jason’s romantic partner just up and left town with a rich sugar daddy, leaving Jason with a heavily mortgaged house and not much else.  Then Jason’s business partner dies, leaving his with a business in financial disarray, losing money faster than if he had just thrown it away.  With little left to pawn to keep himself, his house, and his business afloat,  Jason also suffers chronic pain from an accident he had.  How could things get any worse? When his best friend tells him about an acupuncturist who could help with his shoulder pains, Jason takes a chance and goes to see him with unexpected benefits far past getting rid of the pain in his shoulder.

Michael Whitman is a divorced dad and acupuncturist.  His new client turns out to be the best thing that has happened in quite a while.  Michael is in debt for school and overhead on his business so when Jason suggests that Michael and his son move into his guest rooms at a rent below what he is paying now, he accepts loving the fact that his son will have a yard to play in when he visits and he won’t be as stretched financially as he is now.

But it quickly appears there is a problem neither man anticipated.  Jason can’t stop thinking about Michael, gorgeous, half naked roommate Michael, who is apparently straight.  And Michael is acting strangely when Jason comes in from his dates.  Can it be that Michael isn’t as straight as everyone is telling him or even as straight as Michael himself says he is?

Where Nerves End is the first in the Tucker Springs series being written by several different authors and it is a  terrific introduction to the quirky town and its equally quirky denizens.  I liked the character of Jason especially.  LA Witt gives us a well rounded portrait of a man who might collapse at any second due to the immense stress and pressure he is operating under.  Every aspect of his life is in chaos, his romantic partner gone, leaving him in debt with a house and unpaid bills, his business, a gay nightclub, is equally in financial jeopardy, and his health is failing due to a prior accident that injured his shoulder.  Then his friend suggests acupuncture and Jason’s skepticism is one that was familiar to me as well before I had my first session.

L.A. Witt has done her homework with regard to acupuncture and how the treatment is handled along with giving the reader some of the knowledge that comes with it.  I enjoyed that aspect of this story along with the acupuncturist himself. Michael Whitman is a complicated man, one who has been deeply closeted for most of his life.  This is definitely not a gay for you story but one with a main character coming to grips with his sexuality later in life.  The author does a wonderful job letting us understand where Michael’s fears are coming from but still I felt more of Michael’s past history would have filled in the gaps that made his closet so deep for so long.

I think the only thing that kept me from giving this story a high rating was Michael’s reaction to the thought of a relationship with Jason and his seeming obviousness to the pain he is causing him.  Michael is at first overly sensitive to the flareups of pain in Jason’s shoulder but clueless as to what his actions are doing to the man romantically?  That was a bit of a harder sell. Plus most of the book deals with Jason, Jason’s situation and his chronic pain.  I would like to have seen an equal amount devoted to Michael, his past, and his son. But again, that is the only quibble I have here.  It does help that I loved Jason and Michael (and his son) so I glossed that over a bit.  There was one character, however, that pulled in my interest immediately and that was Seth, the tattoo artist who is best friends with both Michael and Jason.  It was his reaction to the pair that intrigued me and was never fully explained to my satisfaction.  I definitely wanted more Seth, and I hope a future Tucker Springs book will tell his story.  I have reviewed the other Tucker Springs books and there is another due out soon.  I can’t wait for Tucker Springs has become an addiction for me and with all the wonderful authors contributing to this series like Marie Sexton, and Heidi Cullinan,to go along with L.A. Witt, you won’t want to miss a page either.

Here is the Tucker Springs series as it is being written.  There is a website devoted to this series, so check out Tucker Springs. I have linked my reviews for books 2 and 3 below.
Where Nerves End (Tucker Springs, #1)
by L.A. Witt (Goodreads Author)

Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2)
by Marie Sexton (Goodreads Author)

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3)
by Heidi Cullinan (Goodreads Author)

Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs, #4) coming in March 25th, to be released by Riptide Publishing
by L.A. Witt (Goodreads Author)

Never a Hero (Tucker Springs, #5) coming May 13, 2013, to be released by Riptide Publishing
by Marie Sexton (Goodreads Author)

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs #3) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 5 stars

Dirty LaundryEntomology grad student Adam Ellery is trying to get his clothes washed at the laundromat when drunken frat boys start to harass him.  Just as things start to escalate out of control, Adam is saved by a muscled mountain of a man who dispatches the frats after making them apologize to Adam.  His rescuer’s name is Denver Rogers, a bouncer at the local gay bar.  Every thing about Denver pushes Adam’s buttons and, unbelievably to Adam at least, his thanks turns into a sexual encounter the likes of which Adam has never experienced before.

Denver Rogers knows his physique ensures his bed is never empty and the bar is the perfect place to find players for his  games but something about Adam is  so different from his usual bedmates.  Denver can’t get Adam out of his mind, and starts to pursue the Entomology student with a passion for bugs and rough sex. But Denver comes with a background of abuse, self esteem issues, and no formal education.  Denver wonders what the brilliant Adam will think about a man who doesn’t even have a GED?

Adam is OCD, with a side of clinical anxiety  and just getting through the day takes all his strength and determination.  His only long term romance ended because of his mental illness as well as the fact that they did not mesh sexually.  But his encounter with Denver has fulfilled him and left him satiated and his mind quite for once. Denver is everything Adam could want but how will Denver feel when Adam tells him he has obsessive compulsive disorder? Will Denver be able to deal with Adam’s illness? Adam and Denver each have their share of dirty laundry in their closet. Will they be able to come clean so they can see a bright future together?

Cullinan had me at Sphingidae.  An author who gives me a main character who is an entomologist specializing in hawk moths, be still my heart, watch as this Park Naturalist swoons.  But that one thing shouldn’t surprise me as Cullinan continues to bring us characters so human, so realistically flawed and interesting in their emotional makeup that it is a wonder that I haven’t seen someone like Adam in her stories before now.

Tucker Springs is a town full of amazing people and Cullinan has just contributed two more town citizens so remarkable that I still stay up at night thinking about them.  Both are, as I said, beautifully realized human beings, with their flaws and emotional issues.  But Adam and Denver also have the ability to disarm the reader with their vulnerability and surprising decency.  First let’s talk about Adam whose OCD and clinical anxiety is something thousands face in their lives today.  Cullinan has made this mental illness accessible and understandable through the character of Adam.  As he fights his way through his demons at every step in his day, from the lab to just getting out of the house, we really start to comprehend just how overwhelming it must be to just try and stay a functioning human being, let alone one successfully getting through college.  Adam has heart, and bravery, and a need for kinky sex  in which he can give up control. Adam kept surprising me all through the story, love him.

Then Cullinan delivers Denver Rogers to Adam via the laundromat.  Denver Rogers has his own demons in his head (none I will list for you here) and a need for rough sex and to be the one in control.  Everything about Denver will surprise you as it does Adam.  He could have easily degenerated into a stock character, but that never comes close to happening here in Cullinan’s capable hands. Denver is a decent, multilayered human trying to work through his past and starts to think that he might just have a future with his “bug boy”.  I adored this man.

We must also talk about the characters sexuality because it is such a huge component of the story and their relationship.  This is not your vanilla sex but rough, consensual hot sex.  It is bdsm and D/s and both are absolutely necessary for the story and this couple.  While neither is something I normally read, here it makes total sense for the characters and that helps the reader who either is not familiar with bdsm or reads bdsm to not only accept it but enjoy it.  Adam and Denver need this part of their relationship.  It is an integral part of who they are and it satisfies a deep seated need for Adam to be submissive and for Denver to be the dom.  Not only that but it calms Adam’s OCD as nothing else has.  I won’t get into the explanations but needless to say, the author does the same exemplary job of bringing the reader into Adam’s head to help us understand his thoughts and feelings on this element as well as the others.  So, even if this type of sexuality is not something you normally enjoy, Cullinan helps you understand, if not outright accept and enjoy this as a mutually healthy expression of their love and outgrowth of their relationship.

Cullinan then to proceed to slowly build an engrossing, heartwarming love story between Adam and Denver, one complete with a step backward for every two they manage to go forward with.  Adam and Denver must over come one obstacle after another, ones both small and large, including each other.  By the time, their story is finished, as a reader you are so throughly invested in this couple’s lives that you don’t want it to be over.  Not by a long shot.  My hope is that we will see them in other Tucker Springs novels just as El and Paul did here.  I would also love to see more of Louisa, a trans character equally memorable and endearing.  I highly recommend this story and all of the Tucker Springs novels.  This is a town full of people you will never tire of visiting with and listening to their stories.  And while you are off to get the book, make sure and add Heidi Cullinan to your list of must have authors.  Really, she deserves to be there.   Sphingidae, indeed!

Cover art by LC Chase is perfection and works in every way for this story and overall appeal.

Here are the Tucker Springs novels in order they were written:

Where Nerves End by LA Witt (Tucker Springs #1)

Second Hand by Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan (Tucker Springs #2)

Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan

Plus there is a website for Tucker Springs novels.  TuckerSprings.com

Inauguration Sunday and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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So, we have a three day weekend with Martin Luther King Day and the Inauguration on Monday.  The sky is blue, Saturday saw me scrambling so here I am still in my bunny slippers and looking to stay that way for the immediate future.

With Lance Armstrong’s self serving, “woe is me, not quite getting the whole picture” sob fest still leaving a malodorous odor in the air, I am looking forward to an inspirational speech on two on Monday.  So Monday’s post will be a little different,  No book banter or book reviews,  just some musings on the Inauguration and MLK.

I have read some terrific books to be reviewed this week, starting with Tuesday’s selection of Charlie Cochrane’s lastest release from Carina Press. And if you missed it, go back for yesterday’s review of J.L. Merrow’s Trick of Time, loved that book.  The movie Somewhere in Time is a favorite of mine so you know Trick of Time hit all my buttons and then some.

So with a drumroll please in keeping with the flair of things this weekend, here are the books to be reviewed this week:

Monday, 1/21:                        Scattered Thoughts on MLK and the Inauguration.

Tuesday, 1/22:                        Promises Made Under Fire by Charlie Cochrane

Wed., 1/23:                              Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan

Thursday, 1/24:                     A Troubled Range by Andrew Grey

Friday, 1/25:                          The Dragon and His Knight by M. Raiya

Saturday, 1/26:                      Too Stupid To Live by Anne Tenino