A MelanieM Review: Lucky (Twirled World Ink #4) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Welcome to Twirled World Ink where the crazies run the asylum.

When someone was asked to describe crazy, if they knew Lee “Lucky” Trenton they’d point at him. Accident prone and without a filter of any kind to tell him to shut up before he says something inappropriate he’s no one’s idea of a perfect partner. Growing up with parents who subscribed to a philosophy of Radical Honesty Lucky and his siblings were doomed from the womb. Lucky found a home away from home at Twirled World Ink, but he didn’t just find a place to belong. He’d found Priest.

Matthew “Priest” Beall ran away from his judgmental family the second he’d earned the money. He’d come in search of Gib Phelps a legend in the tattoo industry. If you wanted to learn the craft, then Gib was the man to beg an apprenticeship with, and he’d begged. Priest might have left the violence of his past behind, but when he closed his eyes it came back to torture him. The only place he felt safe was when his best friend Lucky let him sleep in his arms. He wanted more, but he didn’t think he deserved it.

Priest left his family behind without regret only to find a new one with the crew of Twirled World and the super weird Trenton family. Could he grab onto his new life or would the memories of the past ruin the happiness he’d gained?

Among tortured souls, Priest is up there among the top of J.M. Dabney’s abused characters.  A gentle, sweet bear of a man, he’s been one of the walking wounded for three books now and with Lucky’s story we get his.  In every series, every novel, Lucky and Priest almost devolve into one word because to get one is to get the other.  It’s been that way from the moment Priest stepped into Twirled World Ink and felt safety within the friendship and arms of Lucky.

Lucky and his family are so far outside any box of definitions that I can’t begin to imagine how J.M. Dabney cobbled them together.  They blow my mind in a totally great way.  From mother and dad to Lucky’s siblings, dress, house and the Radical Honesty (absolute openness about sex) that the family practices, this is a family that makes an indelible impression.  On the readers and on Priest.

What happened to Priest is not addressed in details outright, thankfully, but it’s impact on him emotionally, mentally, the nightmares, inability to sleep etc., is dealt with in a sensitive and responsible manner.  There is no instant miracle recovery, but therapy and respect for Priest’s boundaries which I thought authentic and made me love this story more.

It had to be included in any move forward in a relationship between Lucky and Priest and it was.

Lucky too has a few obstacles to overcome in his pursuit of Priest, and he needs advice and support from his family, and “crew” of friends all around him who care just as much for Priest.  That’s the thing about these books, it is a tapestry of characters that you’ve come to love.  They come together for each other in everyone’s novels, none of them feeling like a secondary cast member, but full fledged believable person.  Violent yes, a bit on the psychotic side at times, damaged, wonderful men.  And now their kids and partners.

I loved seeing Lucky and Priest get their HEA.  It was a wonderful, heartwarming story.  It ends the first series and with Twitch and Crave dancing around here sort of launches us into the Brawlers series that follows it.    I highly recommend this story, this series, and all the wonderful series that follow it.  Check them all out below.

Cover art by Reese Dante can do no wrong.  That’s Lucky to a T.  Perfect!

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 152 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
ASIN B01N9D55XR
Edition Language English
setting Powers, Georgia(United States) 

STRW Author And Series Highlight: J.M. Dabney and her Linked Series

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Author J.M. Dabney

(Twirled World Ink, Brawlers, Executioners, and Trenton Security)

My first introduction to J.M. Dabney was through the story Ghost (Executioners #1) by J.M. Dabney.  It revolved around a young brutalized woman, Harper Sage and Gideon Jane,  an enormous mountain of man transplanted to the small town of Powers, Georgia.  The author was totally unfamiliar to me, but the elements of the blurb called out to me.  The location of a small town in Georgia for personal reasons, and then the haunting character of Harper Sage, an abused transgender woman who in many ways stood in for the local transgender women recently killed in this area.  This was a story that I just couldn’t turn away from.  And from the moment, I entered the J.M. Dabney universe that the location Powers, Georgia is the focal point for, I was both a captured and  committed fan.

Harper Sage was my introduction to J.M. Dabney’s ability to create incredible authentic people who bleed off the page.  The author got under this character’s skin, crawled through her psyche, and let us know what had brought her to this broken emotional state, and how much resiliency she had left in her to allow her to recover to learn to love herself and Gideon.  Dabney brings alive not only Harper’s intensity and yes, delicacy while remaining true to her choices as a transgender woman, but then  she went into the mind and heart of Gideon Jane, a musician in the band Executioners and organic farmer.  At points in this story, the reader feels as emotionally wrecked as the characters, drawn up into their lives and the small town dynamics.

There is violence in a Dabney story.  These people have been subjected to unbelievable abuse, and her characters are often violent, brutal, and borderline psychotic in return.  Their past, their upbringing has made them so, and the author doesn’t shy away from that fact.  Pain, anguish, brutality, it’s all there but it’s also offset by a deep love found by the characters who get their HEA.

So by the end of Ghost, I knew I had found something extraordinary.  J.M Dabney had created not just an incredible love story, but characters so memorable that I can see them and hear them so clearly even now.  Harper and Gideon were also surrounded by characters that resonated with me with the same impact that they had, one of which Joker was the next story in the series.  Joker is another man abused, hardened and brutalized by life.  And my second story by the author.  Into it I dove and found another astonishing tale of heartbreaking abuse, torture, and finally, if not recovery, then the ability to let someone in enough to find love.

From two novels, I then found out that Executioners was the third in a group of connected series.  Be still my heart.  I had a journey to go on!  Back to the beginning series and the original men, couples, and location that started it all, and the series that links the two.  That would be Twirled World Ink (#1), Brawlers (#2), and Executioners (#3).  What an incredible narrative journey it’s been…to see all the characters that have filled the stories, seen their growth, as well as the town’s evolution, and know there’s still more to come. .

I wanted to share my discovery of J.M. Dabney with our readers as well let them in on where this linked series are going.  Welcome, J.M., thanks for agreeing to answer Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words author interview questions.  Your characters and series have me captivated by their gritty tales and small town location,  I know I need to know more.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with J.M. Dabney

Characters.  All or most of the men in your series, from the first Twirled World Ink right up to Joker (so heartbreaking) in Executioners are men who have been abused, violent, hardened by their life experiences, and have expressed little hope in finding love until it happens to them.  Usually someone with a past equally painful.  Why these men?  What started you on writing them?    And was there a special inspiration behind Berzerker, the first? Or any of them actually?

 

To be honest, I like the idea of someone who’s harder to love, those antiheroes/heroines, getting that happily ever after. Finding love in real life or literary form shouldn’t be a color by numbers type thing. It’s like in Japan they have a process of repairing pottery with gold called Kintsugi. I mean, for me I think even the broken can be beautiful. It’s not perfect, but still beautiful. Berzerker came around when I was seriously considering that writing wasn’t for me. The characters I loved weren’t physically or emotionally perfect, so, this big, gruff and hairy guy formed in my head. I said to myself that I was going to write the book. It probably wouldn’t get published, but I wanted to write Zerk’s story. As I was writing Zerk, Trouble popped up, and he was what people would consider the epitome of the romance hero. Tall, blond, and buff, but inside he was broken and I dissected what I thought would be that tragic hero of sorts. To me, they were these amazing men, broken and hardened, sometimes violent, but they needed their other halves. I found the more I typed the more I fell in love with these characters that you wouldn’t typically see in romance. But I’m also a huge believer in body positivity and what better way to show that everyone deserves love then writing these men and women into romance?

 

 

Location:  Powers, Georgia:  Why small town Georgia particularly?  My father is small town Georgia boy  as is that entire side of the family who is spread across the state (Americus, Perry, etc.).  I understand the draw but is there a reason you chose it?

 

Small towns have a colorful history, an eccentricity to them and I’m from Virginia so I typically pick Southern states to base my stories in. As I was writing, I needed a town name and Powers, Georgia it was. I don’t like using real places because I love the challenge of building the world or town from the ground up. I wish the answer was more interesting, but Southern towns and people are where I feel at home. The ones I know best, I guess.

 

The series starts with the Twirled World Ink Tattoo shop.   I think people are fascinated by tattoos. I know I am as well as the artists, the tattooers themselves.  I have tattoos and i know the, at least for me, slow process in deciding what I wanted and who I wanted to do it.  But why start here?  Did you already have the characters in mind as well as the shop?  

 

Tattoo Artists are smart, creative, and unique. In my teens, there was this shop that I went to and one of the guys that worked there we could debate anything and I learned a lot about the history of tattoos in that shop in Edgewater, MD. I have several tattoos including a full sleeve. I always loved the process. It’s almost meditative for me sitting in that chair. So, my guys have bits and pieces of every tattoo artist or biker I’ve met in my almost forty years. I love bars and tattoo shops, so I put not just my passion for body positivity into my stories but these places I felt most at home.

 

Series.  Each series has four books, one for each man.  Has it evolved that way or was that the original plan?

 

I’ve been asked this before, I absolutely love series, short or long, doesn’t matter to me, but four seemed like a nice solid number. A close-knit group with potential for more, but I’m also an impatient reader. So, some of my decision was to keep the series short with as little wait time as possible because as I said I’m an impatient reader.

 

The Future:  Reading backwards has been sort of a literary excavation, its been wonderful to get to the beginning of it all.  But I still wish to look forward as will all our readers.  I know there are at least 2 more books in the Executioners series.  Can you tell us about them and the characters involved?  When can we hope to see them?

 

The Executioners have two more books, King who you see a little of in the course of the series. Unconsciously, I believe I kept him a bit more sequestered for the fact I wanted a bit more mystery with him. Readers see him as a player, but I also highlight his love for his son. It the dichotomy of what allow the readers to see and what is actually happening behind the scenes. Hinting at what is to come, but hopefully surprising them when they finally to read the book. The final Executioners book is Sin & Saint, it’s a menage romance, their man comes in the package of the mature and reserved new Sheriff of Powers, GA. Camden Pelter is strong and dependable, mired down in the challenge of taking over and I gave him the crazy and completely loveable twins. They are exactly what he needs. As for release dates, King should be out later this month and Sin & Saint should be ready for release in December.

 

Will there be more connected series?  Another after Executioners?

 

Yes, there will be another connected series, Trenton Security deals with Linus’s Crew. They’re a bit more hardened, some would say I made their pasts darker, but we’re dealing with men such as Livingston who is severely scarred. Some who grew up and aged out of the foster care system. There’s more action in the Trenton Series and I hope everyone loves them as much as the rest of the guys from Twirled, Brawlers, and Executioners. If people have read the Executioners I start bringing the Trenton guys out of the dark and showing the personalities that my readers will meet in the future.

 

Is there something you would like our readers to know about these men and all these series?  

 

I would just like the readers who take a chance on my books will see a love that transcends physical or emotional perfection. These are just real people. Guys you could meet in your local bar/pub or even just bumping into one of them on the street. They may be scary, you may want to cross the street, but to me these men are the type you’ll want in your corner when life gets hard. I think they are what shows that true love doesn’t have to adhere to a certain package. As I said earlier, even the broken can be beautiful.

 

What’s next for J.M. Dabney?

 

Wow, that’s a hard question, I’m generally a writer of LGBTQ+ Fiction and Romance, but I write across all genres with all pairings including M/F. If anyone ever got their hands on my Work in Progress list they’d think I’m crazier than the characters I create. With the more books that come out they’ll see that I’m all over the place and I hope in the future that I gain more readers who just want to read a great story about a character that might not be your cup of tea, but you love them nonetheless.

J.M. Dabney

Author of LGBTQI Fiction and Romance

www.jmdabneyauthor.com

About the Author

By day, she’s an introverted cook hiding out in her kitchen in the middle of nowhere Ohio, by night and any free time she may have, she is a writer of mainly LGBTQ Fiction and Erotica. Although. she’s equal opportunity when it comes to telling a story, she’ll even write a bit of straight erotic romance when the mood strikes.

She has been writing for years in old notebooks. At the age of eight, she wrote the worst poem in the history of poetry, but it sparked her love for writing. She reads too much and loves to get lost in other worlds and her favorite stories have to include laughter and having the reader doing at least one double take. Thirty-something, forever restless she uses her stories to ground herself, and find her place of peace.

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter: jmdabney_author

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the series to date.  I can’t recommend these men and their stories highly enough.  If you love hurt/comfort, broken men, and extraordinary tales, then discover the world of J.M Dabney and the town of Powers, Georgia.  There’s still so much more to come.

  • Executioners – third series

A MelanieM Review: Scary (Twirled World Ink #3) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Welcome to Twirled World Ink where the crazies run the asylum.

Gene Sheridan earned the appropriate nickname when Legend Gib Phelps employed him at Twirled World Ink—Scary. No one made it out of his old neighborhood without scars both mental and physical. At one time, Scary thought he had a chance that is until his ex-boyfriend discovered slumming with someone like him wasn’t worth his trust fund. No-strings hookups became his go-to when he needed to relieve some tension. Co-owning a bar called Brawlers with his best friend, Tank, made it easy to find a body to use for the night. If not happy he was content with his life, but one man made content seem like such a terrible thing.

Elijah Vaughn worried about everything. His life was put on hold at eighteen when his mostly-absent parents died on one of their many adventures leaving him to raise his six-year-old brother, Brody. He’d never had anything or anyone that was just his. When Brody met a tattoo artist named Trouble, Elijah hadn’t realized how much it would change his life too. He met a huge man named Scary and how the man made him feel terrified him.

Tank Davis lost his voice the night he was attacked and had this throat slit ear-to-ear. It kept him in a world of silence. Silent and intimidating, he scared off more men than he drew to him. His best friend Scary and him made a life for themselves in small town Georgia with their bar Brawlers. Most night everyone could find him working security at the door. Scary called in a favor, and Tank met the one man he couldn’t resist, proper and upstanding Elijah Vaughn.

Can one man accept that there’s not one perfect man for him, but two damaged souls who need him to be whole?

These three men get referred to as the first threesome throughout the second and third series because there is another triad that arrives late in Brawlers.  But the strength of the bonding and relationship you find between Scary, Tank and Elijah here often makes you forget, even later on, that another threesome even exists.

The power of Scary (Twirled World Ink #3) by J.M. Dabney lies in the enormous ability of Dabney to create such vivid, strong, damaged men and then launch them and their lives  directly into our hearts.  Triply so here with Scary because the  dynamics that have to be worked out involve relationships multiple ways.  Scary and Tank have known each other as friends for years, they have shared men separately but when their attraction to Elijah threatens their old arrangements and perhaps more, something needs to change…quickly.  And then it proceeds to change even further into an area neither was aware they wanted or needed between them.

While these old friends are redefining their friendship, Elijah is there in their midst trying to figure out how he has jumped from no boyfriends and commitments to two and a family. Elijah is also working through major life changing issues, not just his romantic ones.  Every element here feels believable and authentic. We get multiple povs, a staggering amount of supporting secondary characters (Twirled World Ink characters and Brawlers characters) none of which are superfluous.  When one man is hurting and confused, you feel it in your heart, when Tank starts to withdraw from his men because of certain events and guilt, you feel every bit of his pain.

That’s due entirely to the superb writing and depth of characterizations you find here.  And with every detail and new additional character (such as Juvie, how I love Juvie, a foster child whose role I won’t reveal) I found I just wanted more. More of Princess, all of the other people that make up this gritty, wonderful world.

There is one couple left in this series. That would be Lucky and Priest in Lucky (Twirled World Ink #4).  Then the wait is on for King, the third book in the Executioners series.  Be here with me for Lucky, that’s next!  For now, I absolutely recommend Scary for everyone who love romance and gritty, hardened men finding their HEA, this one times three.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  That cover is perfection.  First Scary, then Tank, then Elijah.  Each one exactly as I have them pictured in my head.  Gritty, dark perfection.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 196 pages
Published January 17th 2017 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
ASIN B01N5B9YX6
Edition Language English
setting Powers, Georgia(United States) 

A MelanieM Review: Trouble (Twirled World Ink #2) by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Model perfect Jimmy “Trouble” Carver had never heard the word no. Tattooed, sexy and the quintessential bad boy Trouble had men falling over themselves to get to him. What people didn’t know about him was he was self-conscious even if life was easy for him. He’d started out as an apprentice at Twirled World Ink after college and never looked back. Trouble was exactly where he wanted to be, although there was one speed bump, his crush refused to go out on a date.

Brody Vaughn worked in a dead-end job, barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. He didn’t have much time for anyone other than his five-year-old daughter Mina and besides he’d never quite found a place in this world he fit. Chunky and average, that’s how he felt, except for when Trouble came into the grocery store where he worked. The flirty, gorgeous man asked him out every week with a sexy smile, but Brody had to refuse. It wasn’t as if he wanted to say no, it was just how could he date a man Brody knew he had no business trying to keep.

The Crazies of Twirled World Ink excel at one thing, matchmaking, and they are determined their resident bad boy would get his man. They just had to make sure that neither Trouble or Brody screwed up their plan.

Out of J.M. Dabney’s enormous cast of amazing characters you know there are just some that you latch onto more than others, just a tad more…and you do it immediately.  For some reason, something about them just resonates with you, making you want to hold them closer, want to get to know them better, and yes, see them to their HEA.  Trouble is one of those for me.  Full name Jimmy “Trouble” Carver, someone who may look perfect on the outside but feels so broken inside where it counts.  Even when you meet him in other stories, he drifts around in your consciousness waiting to pop up again.  Now you get his story.

Trouble is a dichotomy on two feet, and just the sort of character that J.M. Dabney delivers so realistically and so well.  Everything about Trouble is guaranteed to shift any judgements you may make about him.  Beautiful, tattooed, he looks, if you are judging him,  as though he should have everything.  Looks are deceiving. One reason being because his family has delivered enough punishing, brutal judgements of their own, enough to break him.  Dabney makes us feel the impact on Trouble of that familial abuse, not just his past upbringing but the continuing, constant stream of mistreatment that comes from that direction.  It will not be what you expect.

And from person judged by his physical looks to another character who has a problem with his body.  That would be Brody Vaughn, who can’t  see how much he shines because of the way he looks at his body image.  Getting them together is a wonderful journey of mind, and heart, and bravery.  Plus a little girl called Princess (how she gets to be called that is part of the charm of the story).

Trouble (Twirled World Ink #2) by J.M. Dabney is a tale that has such depth as it deals with body image, emotional and familial abuse  and still be such a wonderful love story, adorable child and Twirled Work Ink crew included.  I love this series and all the series that come after it.  See the links I’ve listed below.  I absolutely recommend them all, including this one.

Cover art by Reese Dante (old cover above). Honestly, while I like both  covers, the one here just speaks to me.  That’s Trouble looking right at you.  Be still my heart.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 132 pages
Published December 13th 2016 by J.M. Dabney
ASINB01MXU41P4
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTwirled World Ink #2
Characters Jimmy “Trouble” Carver, Brody Vaughn settingPowers, Georgia (United States)

New Cover (reedited version)