A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Rabi and Matthew by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A long-term family rivalry between the Hashmis and the Swains forms the crux of this story.  They are Democrat vs Republican, Muslim vs Christian, and when Rabi Hashmi falls head-over-heels for Matthew Swain, and vice-versa, readers know there’s going to be heartache and strife. They meet at a frat party and have to hide every moment together—from their first kiss to their eventual trip to a hotel.

What makes their love dangerous is that the strong family rivalry started years ago and erupted into violence in the past. Now that their fathers are running for a single Senate seat, it’s so much worse. Though Matthew’s father is likely to pull the votes from their small, predominately white, homophobic town, Rabi’s father stands a good chance of winning the rest of the state.

The early part of the story features the slow buildup of their relationship with both boys expressing a desire to remain virgins. Later, their feelings deepened and they made love amidst the chaos of trying to keep their relationship secret, even after the election.  Actually, it’s more important then because emotions were running hot and heavy between the two families and their supporters. It’s a recipe for disaster, and when Matthew’s brothers head out to hunt for Rabi after Matthew’s father finds out and disowns him, readers will find it hard to put the book down.

I enjoyed the early part of the story when the boys were meeting in cornfields and deserted locations, but I was, nevertheless, anxious, and I kept expecting they’d be interrupted and one of them lynched during the romance scenes. That didn’t happen, thankfully, but what did happen carried the second half of the story and that was truly hair-raising and painful to witness. Exciting, frightening, interesting, scary, and emotional are just a few of the words I’d use. The author wrapped me up in the insanity and didn’t let go.  The ending is not the traditional Romeo and Juliet tragic ending, and an author’s note explains why.  In this instance, there’s a positive outcome—in more ways than one. 

If you love a story with star-crossed lovers, family feuds, homophobia, tension, and ulcer-inducing drama, then you should definitely like this one.  One word of caution in case these things are triggers: there is violence, death of a secondary character, and suicidal ideation in this story.

The cover by Christine Coffee is creative and fun. It features half of Rabi’s face and half of Matthew’s. Definitely attention-getting. 

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published November 5th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published November 3rd 2018)
Original Title Rabi and Matthew
ISBN 139781626498341
Edition Language English

Release Blitz and Giveaway – Gray’s Shadow (Kings of Hell MC #4) by KA Merikan

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 150,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Nastasha Snow
 
Kings Of Hell MC Series
 
Book #1 – Laurent & The Beast – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – My Dark Knight – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – On Your Knees Prospect – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb

 

— There can be no shadow without the man to cast it. —



Gray. Lost his twin. Will never be complete. Works alone.
Shadow. Monster? Human? Exists to be Gray’s one true companion.


After losing his twin brother, Gray has devoted his life to the Kings of Hell MC. He will do anything to protect his family and that means anything.


Even sell his own shadow to the devil.


Following a fire that left him without one arm, Gray feels pushed to the sidelines. In order to prove to his club that he is still capable of completing dangerous tasks, he will have to team up with the strange creature from the Other Side. Tall, inhumanly strong, and menacing despite the handsome exterior, Shadow is just the tool Gray needs.


The moment Shadow lays his eyes on Gray, he wants to crawl under Gray’s skin and make the human his.


Gray on the other hand isn’t willing to get attached to a monster destined to do the devil’s bidding and disappear once his time is up. Rejected, Shadow has to do everything in his power to convince his human that they belong together.


But as the clock ticks away precious minutes of Shadow’s existence, Gray will have to choose between his loyalty to the Kings of Hell MC and responsibility for the creature he brought into this world.

*
 
“Do you feel me running through your veins?”
Gray nodded.
 
*



POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: motorcycle club, alternative lifestyles, demons, monster, tattoos, secrets, crime, gothic, grief, mourning, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, fish out of water, opposites attract, demisexuality, gentle giant
Genre: Dark, paranormal M/M romance
Erotic content: Scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes
Length: ~150,000 words (Book 4 in the series)


WARNING: This story contains scenes of violence, offensive language, and morally ambiguous characters.

K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.


K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.


FACEBOOK PROFILE
K.A. MERIKAN’S TWITTER (RUN BY KAT)
AGNES MERIKAN’S TWITTER
K.A. MERIKAN ON GOODREADS
PINTEREST
M/F ROMANCE BY MISS MERIKAN

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A MelanieM Review: Demon Familiar (Wanted #1) by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham (repost)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sometimes when you don’t know what you want, life gives you what you need. 

When Neil Markovic witnesses the murder of his mother by Bone Men his world is thrown into turmoil. On the run from the assassins that killed her, his sorcerer father and the police, Neil finds help in the form of a tall half fae alchemist named Malachai. Mal seems more accepting than most of Neil’s demon bloodline, but curiously immune to his charms.

Malachai Valentine, disgraced scion of a noble Leprechaun clan, back in the Old Country, is happy living as an anonymous scrap dealer. Using his talent for alchemy to make fuel and potions, most days he doesn’t even think of his ruinous past. When a scared young man with a fancy car crashes into his life, at first, Mal thinks he can do without the hassle. But as Neil begins to get under his skin, Mal starts to reassess his hopes and ambitions.

Harassed by megalomaniac fae and stalked by sorcerous killers at every turn, Malachai and Neil must fight to be free, and to find what they both truly wanted.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, murder and non-consensual sex.

When I finished Demon Familiar, I just wanted to do a little teeth gnashing.  Where, oh, where, was the next book in this series? Oh, wait…not to be published until August 2018.  Let the wails commence.  That’s because at the end of this gritty, sometimes tender, occasionally horrific but always, always riveting story I wanted nothing more than for it (and this couple and other characters) to continue.

Demon Familiar by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham is the first in their new Wanted series and as such left some fairly large mysteries looming large while the overall arc for this story was resolved.  Yes, I was completely satisfied yet I knew just as Mal and Neil’s relationship was going to grow and deepen so would their journey that would continue to explain each of their back histories.  And I can’t wait.

The authors were masters at the tease here.

They gave us intriguing (and so often appalling hints as to events in Mal’s past and elements from Neil’s, that had our own speculations leaning from the tortuous to the downright insane.  And probably being right.  On top of that, they weave Gaelic mythology into an alternate city of  Detroit that’s just familiar enough to be both alien and mundane.  What a marvelous location.  It felt like a character itself with its atmosphere and vivid descriptions.

I loved the way the authors carefully built the relationship between Mal and Neil, while exposing both characters to the readers (alternating pov).  This is a big cast, full of fae, gremlins, demons, and more.  Not high fantasy but more urban fantasy,  the gritty underbelly of society for many.  Think pimps, drugs, whores and thieves.  And with that comes non-con for a section.  It’s only a section but its there and I expect to see it again for reasons I will not go into in the upcoming stories.  Maybe wrong but I don’t think so.  People and beings are in part a commodity in certain sections of town here.

They have just started their world building and it’s only going to get better because the foundation is already rock solid.

I thought it ended a little too soon but I’m hoping the next book picks up directly after the events of this one.  My mind is buzzing over a few clues here and there, and the mysteries left unsolved.  I want more of these characters and more of Mal and Neil.  I want their backstories and I want their future.  I can’t wait for this series to go forward.

Pick this one up which I highly recommend and join me in waiting for the next one to roll out.

Cover art: Posh Gosh.  The red head works for Mal but in no way does the dark haired character work for the incandescent youth Neil.

Sales Links: Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 244 pages
Expected publication: June 19th 2018 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786516695
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWanted #1

Review Tour – Overtime (Cayuga Cougars #4) by V.L. Locey

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

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2t5thxR

 
Length: 68,000 words approx.
 

Cover Design: Reverie Formatting and Design

Cayuga Cougars Series


Book #1 – Snap Shot: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Open Net: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Coach’s Challenge: Amazon US | Amazon UK
BlurbSander March is one season away from the pros, or so everyone tells him.If only Sander had as much faith in his ability as the Cougar coaching staff does. Outwardly, he’s cocksure, borderline bitter, and slightly sarcastic. All that strut and sass hides a wounded soul though. Working to hide a brutal past filled with humiliation, abuse, and a family member who still haunts him, Sander has never found the kind of comfort and understanding he so desperately needs. Until he meets Mateo Castillo, a minor league baseball player for the nearby Elmira Egrets. Mateo and Sander click instantly, and a budding friendship develops between the two athletes.

Mateo then introduces Sander to his boyfriend, Noah Coombs, an aspiring manga comic creator. The three men find themselves bonding strongly, and that slowly gives way to sexual attraction. Eventually, Mateo and Noah invite Sander into their relationship. The path to happiness isn’t going to be easy for Sander as he faces criticism from his friends, teammates, and the press for his choices. The brash young star can handle all that, it’s when his abuser shows up in Cayuga that Sander fears not only for his own safety, but for the lives of the two men he has grown to love. Will Sander’s past tear him away from Mateo and Noah, or will he be able to leave the darkness behind?

Warning – This story has disturbing subject matter.

 



June 13BooksLaidBareBoys, Xtreme Delusions, June 14The Novel ApproachJune 15We Three Queens, Bookaholic & Kindle, Nerdy Dirty & Flirty, Love My Reads, June 16MM Good Book ReviewsJune 18Mainely Stories, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, June 19Bayou Book JunkieJune 20Jim’s Reading Room, Making It Happen, MM Good Book Reviews, Wicked Reads, June 21Joyfully JayJune 22Mirrigold, Bayou Book Junkie, A Book Lovers Dream Blog, OMG Reads, June 23Gay Book Reviews

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.


When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

 

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A MelanieM Review: One Thousand Cranes (Yakuza Path #3) by Amy Tasukada

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When a body goes missing, a young Yakuza’s life hangs in the balance…

Aki Hisona’s latest promotion is a cause for celebration. But because his new job is working as the personal secretary for the Yakuza’s Kyoto-based godfather, it’s also a cause for dangerous envy. He takes an invitation from a friend for congratulatory drinks, but Aki never thought the night would end with a deadly knife fight…

Aki is tasked with disposing of his friend’s corpse, but there’s one problem: the body is missing. As body parts surface around town, it’s only a matter of time before the police piece together the clues. But keeping one step ahead of the cops may not matter if Aki can’t solve the mystery before his cold, unforgiving godfather boss does…

The Yakuza Path: One Thousand Cranes is a pulse-pounding standalone thriller in the ongoing series of Japanese mafia stories. If you like gritty settings, page-turning whodunits, and accurate portrayals of Kyoto traditions, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s gripping tale.

The first story in this series,Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path, #1,  was going to be hard to surpass for any author.  It was bloody, shocking, and brilliant in it’s execution. And yet for Nao Murata and the series to continue, Amy Tasukada had to figure out how to grow this admittedly psychotic character, expanding Nao past the persona we know and his universe as well.  The author has done so with each new story, figuring out a way to move her characters forward, into new situations, while keeping the past (which is key to Nao’s personality) and including new components and people.

Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path, #2) ushers in Nao as the head of the Matsukawa Yakuza syndicate.  Here we saw Nao elevated to high position, yet still under assault by many factions, unsure of who to trust.  The novel was complicated, labyrinthine in plot lines, showed Nao’s ability to adjust and his cunning, while he was still dealing with the fallout from the events of the first story.  And it introduced Aki Hisona, the first person pov of One Thousand Cranes.

One Thousand Cranes marks the departure of the pov from Nao to someone who serves him, Aki Hisona, his personal secretary. I have to admit I miss that haunted, warped perspective of Nao’s.  But it’s replaced here with one that almost equally obsessive.  Aki has one love, one all consuming focus.  Nao.  Not that it’s returned.  Because it’s not.  Nao’s love is gone forever…killed in the past in a horrific crime he was a part of.

Obsession never ends well.  And that’s the thought the flies constantly through my thoughts here in this story.

For Aki, being close to Nao is everything.  Not exactly healthy.  From many standpoints.  For Aki exists within the Matsukawa organization and he’s not only been recently promoted from the rank of the new recruits but he’s now close to the “Father” of the Matsukawa Clan with all that means.  Within the syndicate, there are reverberations, jealousies, and dealings, along with the police, and the annual Kyoto ceremonies to attend for Aki to keep up with.  All that and his feelings for Nao too, a barely restrained killer or is he?

No, this is not a romance.  This is someone who has a crush, or obsession with his boss, who is a psychotic killer and crime lord. Also, Aki is shy,gay, withdrawn, with a skin condition that keeps him covered from wrist to chin. Not exactly someone who fits in with the Yakuza model recruit mold.  No, Aki cannot stay the same and remain next to Nao and he doesn’t.  This story is his metamorphosis.

The author takes all these facts and uses them in a narrative that’s combines the delicacy of a cherry blossom and cutting edge of a knife.  Nao is still that addictive blend of ruthless killer and lover/protector of historic Kyoto and its culture.  Tea master and psycho. Even Aki seems at the end to realize he’s not sure which he will see…not that it matters to him.  Here is it Aki that does the changing for his obsession.  How the cranes fits in is just another joy and deep layer of this story and series.

This is a story and series you read for the complicated characters, the sliding maze of relationships, and a fog of a future that never looks bright.   The writing is incredible, the themes addictive, and, somehow, however psychotic and bloody it gets, you just can’t let Nao go.  Because he too is mired in the deep tragedy in his past.  This saga has me in it’s grips.  Once you start, you will feel it too.

None are stand alones.  Read them all in the order the author intended.  I highly recommend them all.

The titles of these stories are as much a perfect touch as are the covers.

Cover art is again perfect for the story and series.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published December 12th 2017 by Macarons & Tea Publishing
ASINB077TLCSRG
Series The Yakuza Path:

Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path, #1

Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path, #2

Release Blitz Tour for We Met In Death by KA Merikan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 90,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Blurb
 

“This is not the night you die.”

After years of working for a loan shark, Robert is done with blood and violence. All he has to show for it is a bag of money and a lifetime of regrets. There’s no other way out of his line of work than in a body bag.

So Robert decides to die.

But on the night he chooses to seal his own fate, destiny offers him a chance at redemption. When Robert saves a handsome young escort from a terrible death, he has no idea he is setting in motion much more than one last attempt at proving that inside the hardened shell, he is a decent human being.

Charming, quick-witted, and full of smiles, Nathan is all Robert could dream of. He’s also ready to fall into the arms of his gruff protector. Robert, on the other hand, has never been with a man and will first need to fight his own demons if he is to accept that his whole being wants to make Nathan his.

With his former boss hunting them both, time is ticking, and Robert might just not get the chance to decide before it’s too late. More importantly though, Robert will stop at nothing to protect the man who’s made him feel alive again, the man who is the only thing between him and the abyss.

“I never had to think much about death before, but I did yesterday. I thought I would die. In a hole. Covered with dirt. Suffocate underground. But then you saved me.”

WARNING: This story contains scenes of violence, torture, mentions of suicide, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters, homophobia and homophobic language.



Excerpt

Robert slowly lowered himself next to the man and watched the thick fabric move with the hurried rhythm of his breath. “How much do you owe Vogel?” He’d seen so many people in this position before that in Robert’s mind this guy was somehow melting into a collection of them all.

The fabric pulled close to the stranger’s face, making his nose poke at it. “If anything, he owes me! I did what he asked of me. I don’t belong here. It’s all lies!”

“What does that even mean?” Robert asked and nudged the body. His tongue was dry, and he groaned when he realized the bottle was now out of reach. How could this night have gone off the rails so rapidly?

Nathan went quiet for long moment. “Have you ever seen Spartacus? You know, the gladiator TV show?”

Robert frowned, thrown aback. “Are you drunk?”

“No! No… I’ve been sober for a while now.” To Robert’s surprise, Nathan crawled a bit closer in his direction, so dangerously close to the hole that Robert had to stand in his way. “It’s just that there’s this one gladiator there, and if you’ve seen the show, I was wondering if you thought he was gay or bi. I promise this is going somewhere.”

Robert rubbed his flushed face, kneading the flesh and letting his scruff scratch his palms. “Are you trying to tell me you’re gay? Yeah, because this is very important right now.”

Nathan inhaled a deep breath. “I… it’s just that it’s my only fault here, you know? I mean, if you don’t want anyone to know you’re gay, don’t put your dick in a man, right?”

Robert rolled his eyes and pulled out a switchblade. It was dark, and he wasn’t in the mood to look for the zipper. The sleeping bag would join Robert’s former colleagues under the dirt.

He lost balance, falling to his knees instead of just leaning down. Grabbing a handful of the thick fabric, he tore a hole in the sleeping bag. “You propositioned one of Vogel’s men?”

“No! He was the one doing the propositioning! I stayed at his lakeside villa for a week! I thought we’d have a good thing going, that he liked me. And then he flipped and turned into a murdering psycho!” Big blue eyes looked up at Robert from the opening he just created. Pretty like a doll, but the dry blood marring the pale skin under Nathan’s nose reminded Robert that the young man was most definitely made of flesh and bone. His lips were swollen under the red smear, but that didn’t make Nathan any less attractive. If anything, their plumpness made Robert want to lick, nip, and part them with his fingers. Nathan’s cheekbones were the kind you were more likely to see in a magazine than in real life, and the slight dimples to the sides of his lips suggested he used to smile a lot before whatever got him here.

He was a toy thrown away by someone who got tired of playing with it, but it was hard for Robert to imagine how anyone could toss such a gem into the dirt. If this boy were his, he’d—What? What would he do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because Nathan wasn’t the kind of toy Robert was allowed to have. He wasn’t a kid anymore, and his self-control never slipped.

Robert tore the bag with a strong tug to both sides of the cut and offered Nathan his hand. In the blurry light, and looking back into the incredible blue of Nathan’s eyes, it almost felt as if he were the one begging for Nathan’s attention.

ntion.


K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Katís the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnesís ass when sheís slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.


They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, thereís one thing you can be sure of ñ it will be full of surprises.
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Release Tour – Lyssa Dering’s fangjunkie27 (giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
Blurb

One human. One dhampir. Seventy-two hours where anything goes.

Shameless vampire addict Eli spends every waking moment chasing pleasure, securing invites to vampire den after vampire den via the vampire/human social network FangFinder. This weekend, he’s signed up for his most extreme adventure yet, a 72-hour party where a legal contract serves as his voluntary consent to anything and everything the den members decide to do to him…

Strong and silent type Orion is the only member of his den without fangs, a dhampir who wears metal points on two fingers so he can give the human guests what they crave. What he craves is a release for the savage half of his nature; he wants to force a human into submission. When his fellow den members inform him that Eli has signed up for just this treatment, Orion lays claim to him for the weekend.

But Eli would never have agreed to spend three days with a half-breed, and he’ll fight Orion’s touch every chance he gets. Even if the pleasure he finds in the dhampir’s grip is more intense than anything he’s ever felt with a vampire…

February 2 – Joyfully Jay
February 6 – Abbey’s 1-Click Blog
February 10 – Dog-Eared Daydreams, Abibliophobia Anonymous Book Reviews
February 13 – Divine Magazine
February 15 – Making It Happen, MM Good Book Reviews
February 17 – Millsy Loves Books, Wicked Reads
February 21 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Book Lovers 4Ever
February 22 – Alpha Book Club, From Top To Bottom Reviews

Author Bio

Lyssa Dering is an author of queer erotic romance. She writes about damaged characters in impossible situations who, despite often horrifying struggles, will always get their happy ending.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lyssaderingGoodreads: http://goodreads.com/lyssaderingPinterest: http://pinterest.com/lyssadering

 Giveaway

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In the Historical Spotlight: The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple by K.A. Merikan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple:

Author: K.A. Merikan

Publisher:  Acerbi&Villani ltd.

Release Date: 7th of February 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 140,000 words

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Historical – 18th Century Cornwall, Highwayman, Kidnapping, Forbidden love, Violence

Add to Goodreads

 

Writing historical books requires a lot of research, otherwise they might will feel washed out. Because of the theme of this particular novel, we needed to look into the legislation of the period and find out how laws were applied.

Executions used to be major attractions at that time, with spectators filling up Bodmin every time a hanging was taking place. People’s morals must have been very different from ours, because convicts weren’t only killed for murder or highway robberies with violence. No, people had been hanged for stealing someone’s spoon, or a sheep. This shows how ferociously the wealthy protected their possessions, and how little human life meant in comparison. On the other hand, in case of livestock, one could argue life was at stake. Sometimes, a cow or a goat was vital to the survival of a poor family, so losing it meant malnourishment, and possibly even death. Either way, reading through a list of public executions from the eighteenth century is a bizarre experience.

Around the period the book is set (1785), the executions were moved closer to the new gaol in Bodmin. The previous location, known as the Five Lanes for its convenient location where roads from several towns converged, had been utilized since the mid-sixteenth century at least. I went through the list of 1785 executions to make the descriptions as true to reality as possible, and I discovered something shocking.

Talk about coincidence! A man named William Hill had been executed at the Five Lanes in Bodmin on July 23rd 1785–a date corresponding to the timeline of The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple–for the murder of none other than John Pascoe. There wouldn’t have been anything unusual about it if it weren’t for the fact that this is the name of our book’s villain. I swear we picked his name at random. We looked through lists of people who lived in eighteenth century Cornwall to pick up a surname that was local to the region.

I’m not even gonna check who that particular John Pascoe was, because that is just too freaky for my taste 😉

Have you ever had this kind of bizarre experience when reading something related to history? A known name, or a vaguely familiar face in an old photo?

The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple is the kind of book that just needed to be written, despite our already tight schedule. The idea first came to us when we watched a documentary about highwaymen, but we promised ourselves to wait. And then we went to Cornwall for a month, and initial plans collapsed. As we walked through the woods, watching the lush nature and the old stone cottages peppered on both sides of a valley where we were staying, the characters and story steadily came to us. Our aim was to write a historical book that provides as much excitement as readers learned to expect from our contemporary romance.

RELEASE DATE: 7th February 2017

If you want to see our inspiration photos for this book, check out the ‘Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple’ Pinterest board:

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BUY A PAPERBACK COPY

The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple is our baby. It’s been a year since we started working on this book, and to celebrate its release, we’re organizing a quiz for readers who follow The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple blog tour. Answers to all questions will be provided in the blog posts, and we will then randomly pick the lucky winners. You can win:

  • a signed paperback of The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple + a selection of Cornish treats (main prize – for one person)
  • 3 ebooks of choice from our backlist + a surprise treat from Cornwall (will go to 3 more people)

For a chance to win, follow the instructions in blog posts and solve the quiz, which will be published on our website on 1st February 2017. Please, send answers to kamerikan@gmail.com with ‘Black Sheep Quiz’ in the subject line of the email.

 

Winners will be randomly chosen from readers who sent us correct answers by 17th February 2017.

LINKS TO ALL POSTS:

02/01 THE QUIZ

02/03 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

02/06 We Three Queens

02/07 Boy Meets Boy Reviews

02/08 Prism Book Alliance

02/09 The Novel Approach

02/09 Joyfully Jay

02/10 The Zipper Rippers

02/10 The Book Bella

02/11 Divine Magazine

02/12 Bayou Book Junkie

Synopsis

“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”
“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”

Cornwall, 1785

Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.

Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.

No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.

When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.

Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.

But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: highwayman, abduction, ransom, forbidden love, self-discovery, danger, crime,
Genre: Dark romance, historical
Erotic content: Explicit scenes

Length: ~140,000 words (standalone novel)

WARNING: Adult content. Contains violence, distressing scenes, abuse, offensive language, and morally ambiguous protagonists.

Excerpt

The sun was high up in the sky by the time the desynchronized orchestra left Julian’s skull. There wasn’t enough space to properly lie down anywhere in the carriage, but he managed to obtain a comfortable position by resting his legs up the wooden wall while his upper body occupied one of the benches. He still felt like the filling of an enormous rattle as the carriage bent in all possible directions on the uneven road leading away from the coast.

Horace didn’t even make an attempt to hold back his disapproval, but after delivering several biting comments and a lengthy speech about duty, he at last leaned against the side of the carriage in the seat across from Julian and closed his eyes. It was difficult to say whether he was truly in need of a nap or if it was Julian’s face that he didn’t wish to look at.

With his headache out of the way yet not quite well enough to read, Julian opened the curtains in hope of amusing himself with the views, but so far, he merely got to see the side of a narrow gully—all dirt and grass.

He couldn’t understand why Father was being so implacable about having his youngest son marry a title. Couldn’t it wait a fortnight so that Julian could finish that new novel he came up with last night? This one could truly be the breakthrough Julian had been waiting for, the one that would make the Reece family known for more than fabric trade.

Inspiration was a moment in time when Julian’s friend Martin emerged from the darkness of an alley behind the tavern. In that very second he had not resembled himself but a man made of bronze, dreamlike and yet of substance, with strong hands that could crush Julian if they wanted. The novel would start with a similar encounter somewhere in the narrow back alleys, just off the Colosseum. Haunted by the ghost of an ancient gladiator, the protagonist would be believed to be slowly descending into madness, when in reality his awareness of the supernatural would become a vehicle for truth.

Julian was not yet certain of the exact message he wished to convey, but the events would be presented from several points of view, through letters written by the protagonist, his friends, and an official of some sort who’d represent the stale world order.

He’d already had several beautifully evocative ideas for metaphors describing the gladiator himself, but they became somewhat blurry after a night of cards and drink.

Oh, if only he could travel to Rome to let the atmosphere of the city soak him all the way to the bone—without a wife fighting for his attention and pulling him away from work because of feminine fancies.

He looked out of the window with growing disdain. Who in their right mind traveled on Sunday, and so early at that? Julian would have much preferred listening to a sermon at church to spending the day in what was effectively a hearse carrying one of the brightest literary talents just waiting to be discovered.

Now that Julian was feeling better, he was upset with himself about not asking for a day’s delay on religious grounds. He’d never been as devout about prayer as he was about his art, but if the Christian faith could postpone his commitment to a woman he never met, he would gladly kneel and pray. And Miss White wasn’t even a woman but a girl of fifteen, quite pretty in the portrait Julian had been shown, and a viscount’s only daughter at that, but surely as hungry for her intended’s attention as the bawdy house wench who’d become sweet on Julian some years ago.

Back then, he still visited Madame Canard’s establishment to do what everyone else did when they visited a school of Venus. These days, Julian had neither the overwhelming desire nor patience to handle a cunt, no matter how lovely the lady it was attached to. He still enjoyed having a drink with the harlots, and no card table within twenty miles was as lively as the one at Madame Canard’s, but at twenty-five he’d much rather handle needs of the flesh in solitude.

Sweet perfume made his nose itch, the act itself made him unpleasantly sticky—with his sweat and hers—and while he would not dare to ask, it was his suspicion that the friends who usually accompanied him to the brothel were only whoring so much because of pride and bravado. It was a sign of status to be able to afford women and decent wine daily, and so fucking and gambling was the thing you did as a social activity.

Julian’s eyes darted to Horace, who slept with his head thrown back and leaning against the side of the carriage. His wide-open mouth was asking for a distasteful prank, but Julian was far too upset to think of amusing himself at Horace’s expense. So far, the day’s joke was on him.

In the years past, he’d been mocked by his father and siblings over not taking on a profession that they deemed worthy of a gentleman, but with the family being very prosperous, Julian saw no reason to divert his focus from his one true calling.

Despite frequent threats, he’d hoped that Father—having four willing sons and three daughters—wouldn’t push Julian into marriage, but it seemed a lost cause. Soon it would be a wife nagging Julian to stop wasting his time following intellectual pursuits and instead turn his attention to practical matters. As the head of his own family, maybe he’d even be pushed to join the family trade, one step farther from traveling abroad to meet the great artists of the continent.

The carriage started a steep climb up a hill, and Julian cursed, pushing the soles of his boots against the wall to keep his body from rolling off the narrow bench. How long would it take for them to reach London at this pace? It was over two hundred miles away, so a week perhaps? The last time Julian had made the journey, he was so intoxicated most days that he couldn’t properly count them.

But out of nowhere, as the slope of the hill became gentler, the ugly dirt and grass that had been Julian’s only source of entertainment for the last half an hour were replaced by lush greenery of tree tops. He grinned and glanced at Horace, but the fat sod was too busy snoring to notice the change in scenery.

A wicked plan was starting to take shape in Julian’s head, and he quietly removed his feet from the side of the carriage and lowered them to the floor. Pulling himself upright was easy enough after that, and he stalled, eyes transfixed on the permanently flushed face of his brother that was an unappetizing contrast with the white wig he wore, and made him look like a man many years his senior. Julian might be less inclined to business, less sedate than his siblings, but at the very least he had good taste and flair most of Julian’s family lacked, buried deep in the stern world of pretense and money.

Horace didn’t even stir. The old pig was fast asleep, and if that wasn’t Julian’s chance to save his life, he didn’t know what was. Careful not to make any sound, Julian gathered his valise and the coat he’d earlier taken off because of the heat, stilling when the carriage came to a halt. His eyes immediately darted to Horace, but his brother only smacked his lips in his sleep. Hunt could have stopped to relieve himself. What an opportunity this was!

Julian could feel his heartbeat in his throat when he softly pressed on the door handle. Still distinctly aware of his brother being close enough for their knees to touch, were Julian not careful enough. He opened the carriage and left it in a soft stride before closing the door with care.

A warm breeze combed through his hair, wiping away the unpleasant wetness of sweat, and his lungs filled with fresh air, but he didn’t get to enjoy it.

The shining muzzle of a pistol was grinning at him from inches away.

Despite the warm weather, Julian’s whole body was shaken by a chill when his gaze met a pair of eyes so dark they might as well have been lacquered coals. The man had a tricorn hat pulled low over his forehead, and a black scarf obscuring the lower half of his face.

This can’t be happening.

“Don’t try to scream, or I will blow your brains out.” The man squinted and lowered his gun to Julian’s pupil. “Through the eye.”

Julian opened his mouth as his throat closed, robbing him of breath. He wanted to look back, suddenly wishing Horace weren’t such an easy sleeper, but Hunt was nowhere to be seen either. Heat washed over Julian’s body, making him stiffen as if he were made of clay. Had this man hurt their coachman? If so, where was the body?

“What do you want?” Julian whispered, resting his hand on the door handle when his knees softened.

“These.” A hand in a leather glove gripped Julian’s sweaty fingers and slipped off his rings. “And all your other valuables.” The man didn’t even blink, his voice dark as if dragged through tar.

Julian stared, and his mind finally came up with the answer for what this was. “You’re a highwayman…”

“And you’re cork-brained to travel on a Sunday when the roads are empty.” The man’s gaze drifted away to Horace for a split second, but he must have judged him as no threat, and when Horace snored from inside the carriage, the highwayman chuckled quietly.

Julian’s lungs emptied, and a silly grin emerged on his face, encouraged by the highwayman’s amusement. “Ah, I should have gone to church after all.”

The smile died on his lips when the robber poked Julian’s temple with his gun.

“Your valuables,” he urged.

Julian clenched his teeth when they threatened to clatter. He needed to keep calm. His father believed his friends to be villains, so he could handle one. “I’ve been taken out of the tavern this morning with nothing but the clothes on my back. I lost everything at the tables. You should try my older brother. He’s Father’s heir. He should have a healthy sum on him.”

The highwayman gripped the front of Julian’s waistcoat and pulled him forward so hard Julian stumbled straight into the man’s arms. He was much taller than Julian, with wide shoulders that were so strong their size couldn’t be just padding. His clothes smelled of leather and horse sweat, and Julian found himself staring into the eyes above the black scarf.

Before he could say a word, the man turned him around, and pressed the gun to the side of his head.

“Go on, wake up your brother.”

Julian breathed in and out, stiff with discomfort at the warm body pressed against his back as if the highwayman was seeking warmth. The gun provided some relief against heated skin. Its presence made Julian’s blood speed through his veins. It wouldn’t go off. Murder wasn’t in the robber’s interest, but if that was the case, then where the hell was Hunt?

Then an idea illuminated Julian’s mind. “I have a proposition, Mister—”

The highwayman stilled. He’d be lying. Of course. “Noir,” he said in the end. “What kind of proposition can you have, pretty boy? With no money in your pockets.”

Something about Noir’s tone sent a hot shiver through Julian’s ribcage, but he ignored the condescending words and slowly looked back into the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. “I don’t have much on me, but you must know my father. He’s William Reece, the cloth merchant. You could take me and ask for ransom. We could split it between us like two gentlemen,” he whispered and gave Noir a polite nod. Appealing to the highwayman’s self-importance should do the trick. His kind were known for a love of opulence and status they didn’t deserve.

He must have managed to surprise the thief, because Noir’s grip on him faltered. “How much could I ask for a son who hates his father?”

Julian exhaled in relief when he felt Noir’s aggression turn away from him. “A lot. He needs me. I’m worth more than you can imagine,” he said with a small smile.

Noir stole another glance at Horace sleeping in the back of the carriage, and his gloved hand slid to Julian’s neck, squeezing around his nape in a way that had Julian rising to his toes. “You better be. You scream, or try to run, and I will kill you.”

Julian swallowed against the warm, soft leather. It felt surprisingly expensive. Might have been snatched from a gentleman. “I don’t doubt that,” he lied. “However, we share a common goal, friend.”

“Call me ‘friend’ once this is all over.” Noir shook his head and pushed Julian behind the carriage, where a gloriously jet-black stallion awaited its rider, and watched Julian with eyes as dark as Noir’s.

“I hope you haven’t hurt our driver. He’s a good fellow,” said Julian, smiling at the huge beast in front of him.

“He’ll live. Your brother will find him once he wakes up.”

Julian was sure there had to be a hint of a smile under that black scarf. When Noir put the gun inside his coat, Julian tried to assess the man more thoroughly.

The black leather riding coat was worn but of good quality. Could have been stolen too, but the clothes underneath, as black as everything the man wore, were clean, suggesting the highwayman wasn’t sleeping rough somewhere. Unless he dressed up for robbery.

Julian opened his mouth to comment on the beauty of the horse, but Noir spun Julian around and pulled back his hands.

“Good heavens. We’re partners,” Julian whispered with distaste. Hot and cold sweats were hitting him in rapid waves, and he couldn’t tell whether he was scared or excited about this new development. Once he got out of this, he could write a novel about the peril of travellers attacked by rogues while driving through a dark, rainy forest, and with a bit of poetic license, call it a true story.

“I haven’t decided on that yet,” said Noir, and a cold shiver went down Julian’s back at the proficiency with which the man tied his hands. A former sailor perhaps? That wouldn’t bode well, as those types rarely possessed the intellectual capability for complicated schemes. His speech was also far too refined to have been only recently acquired. Damnation!

“Mr. Noir. I’d much rather ride with my hands free. You see, I’ve been incapacitated by gin just this morning, and I don’t feel secure enough without my hands to assist me yet. I assure you, I am harmless.”

Once Noir had tied Julian’s hands, he turned him around. “Now you are. Up.” And just as Julian was wondering how exactly he was supposed to climb atop the tall beast, the scoundrel grabbed his legs and picked him up. Julian barely refrained from screaming. It was no way to handle a gentleman, and yet he couldn’t help but be amazed by Noir’s physical prowess.

Definitely a sailor. A naval officer, perhaps.

Julian’s face flushed with heat when he imagined his bottom sticking out like a whore’s ass at a party. Good grief, what had he gotten himself into? What was next? Being kidnapped by pirates?

His foot found the stirrup, and he exhaled with relief, pushing his other leg over the horse’s hindquarters until he straddled its back. “I see no reason for this kind of treatment, considering it was I who came up with a most lucrative opportunity for you.”

“Keep that up, and I will gag you.” Noir was quick to get on the horse himself as soon as he’d attached Julian’s coat and valise to the saddle. Julian felt completely overwhelmed when the man reached for the reins, all but embracing him.

Julian shuddered and curled his shoulders to not be in the way, though no matter what he did, the shape of the saddle brought them close together. “You’re a scoundrel. Another man in your profession would have treated me right.”

Noir laughed darkly. “You are correct, sir. How could I have forgotten.” Even though the mockery had him exaggerate the polite accent, Julian was becoming certain that Noir’s natural speech was not that of someone uneducated.

Before Julian understood what was happening, Noir pulled a burlap sack over his head.

“I will scream,” whispered Julian, staring through the dots of light in the smelly thing. He squeezed his hands into fists and pushed them hard against Noir’s stomach. His mind was rattling again, as if the drunkenness returned with full force.

“No one will hear you where we’re going.”

“Julian?” came a sleepy voice from the carriage.

Noir’s thighs tensed, and he must have urged his mount to rush, as it went almost straight into gallop.

Julian screamed at the top of his lungs. “Horace!”

The stallion flew forward, and without the aid of his hands, Julian was forced to hang on to it with his legs alone, shaken like a rattle. The rapid gait moved him back and forth over the front of the saddle, making Julian stiffen and push back against the firm chest behind him. Without seeing where they were going, Julian tried to hold on to anything he had on hand, and as it happened, it was probably Noir’s waistcoat. If the horse tripped, at least they would stumble and break their bones together. Or maybe the villain would cushion Julian’s fall in a well-meaning act of God.

It was Sunday.

 

Meet the Author

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are mistaken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite being over thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

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A Caryn Pre Release Review: The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple by K.A. Merikan

Standard

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

the-black-sheep-and-the-rotten-apple-by-k-a-merikanFirst, the official blurb:

“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”

“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”

Cornwall, 1785

Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.

Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.

No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.

When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.

Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.

But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.

I had to include the blurb, because it was really well written and catches your attention, and it truly does describe the plot, and the nature of the book.  There are layers and layers to the two main characters, and I actually read the book through twice before writing this review, because, well, it deserved it.

The first read through, I felt this was a tale of two men who descended into an amoral quagmire, as each crime committed led to another, until they truly were deserving of punishment.  The second read through was a little different and I could appreciate more of how Evan and Julian interacted with each other, as well as the way they rationalized their actions, even as their crimes escalated.  The blurb mentions “morally ambiguous protagonists” and that was the god’s honest truth – and got to me a little more than I thought it would.  I guess I’ve gotten way too used to my romances involving characters who are always, at the deepest level, good men, or at least men who have repented and changed by the time the book ends.  Not so here.

Julian is a narcissistic, entitled, shallow, immature, spoiled brat, who thinks nothing of using other people – family, friends, and strangers alike.  And though he is forced to recognize all of those traits in himself, and how despicable they make him, he didn’t care who he hurt to save Evan.  Was he a better man at the end of the book than at the beginning?  Jury is out on that one.  Evan probably started out as a good man, but abuse and neglect from his family, self-loathing for his homosexuality and punishment kink, a misplaced sense of responsibility, and a tragic end to his first love affair have left him with his priorities really screwed up.  Which not only led to his first theft, but kept him going on that path until the denouement that was shockingly violent.

Whew.  Not for the faint of heart, but definitely a book that will leave its mark on you.  If you truly believe “all’s fair in love and war” – and I mean, you really think it is OK to hurt anyone who stands in the way of true love – you will like the ending, and you will like the book.  I have qualms about that attitude, even when it’s absolutely appropriate for the setting of the book, so the whole thing left me a little disturbed.  Did I like the book?  I’m not quite sure because I’m so conflicted – I truly got invested in the characters, the romance was emotionally very passionate, and I wanted them to overcome obstacles, but the way they did that, well….. 

The kink level was not nearly as high as I expected from the blurb.  The historical perspective of homosexuality, class privilege, and gender roles was very well done, really reinforcing the fact that 1785 was a more violent time with very different social mores than 2017.

Cover art by Tiferet Design is nice in a very Fabio/regency romance way.

Sales Link coming soon

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Book Details:

ebook, 471 pages
Expected publication: February 7th 2017 by Acerbi & Villani ltd
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review:O/s by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

os-coverContains non-con elements and scenes of violence.

Jax has the perfect job on the perfect world, looking after subs while their owners are away. But Brysen’s no ordinary sub and his owner Layne is a threat to the safety of every sub on the planet.

Dealing with the heartbreak of a failed relationship, Jax is slow to realize Brysen’s adoration for his stern owner passes all reason, and breaks every rule. By the time he does, there may be time to save Brysen, but in the process, Jax stands to lose everything from his job to his chance at love. Will the protective instincts that guide his actions hold steady or will the darkness Layne wakes within him prove stronger?

First of all: Do take those warning seriously. This story does get pretty dark.

I absolutely loved “O/s”. The concept was interesting. BDSM relationships are not only perfectly acceptable in this universe, the government has even installed a system to provide couples with a safety net. Every sub wears a collar that flashes in warning, if their vitals do something unusual. The collar is the substitute for safe words here. The collar is monitored by the police, so if such a warning is ignored, they immediately take action. This system provides subs and Owners alike with a safe environment to play in. You can’t mess with the collar without it giving off an alert.

Jax is a professional subsitter. If an Owner has to leave their sub alone for whatever reason, they hire Jax to look after them during their absence. Jax provides the sub with whatever they need, even if a lot of things aren’t what he would usually prefer. But he’s a pro and he loves his job. I really liked seeing him work with all kinds of subs and Owners. He takes his job seriously and takes very good care of every sub in his charge.

Brysen is in a relationship with Layne. He loves Layne. He loves everything Layne does to him. And he absolutely deserves all the harsh punishments Layne deals out. He tries so hard to be perfect for Layne, but he keeps failing. Brysen’s struggle was breathtaking. Everything was such a giant mind fuck, I was never quite sure about Brysen’s real feelings.

Actually, the whole book was one giant mind fuck. And that’s what made “O/s” so brilliant in my eyes. You’re always wondering, doubting, questioning and yet you’ll never guess the truth. It’s all so very twisted and fucked up and I absolutely loved it for that very reason.

Brysen wasn’t a whiny, needy thing that needed an Owner to survive. Layne fucked him up good, but he’s a strong man. I really admired Brysen. And Jax was wonderful as well. He always takes care of everybody and strictly sticks to what the Owners tell him about their subs. But Brysen is different and I loved Jax for picking up on that and taking care of him, without being patronizing. He doesn’t have a superhero complex, he really struggled with what he was seeing in Brysen, what he knows about the system and what Layne told him about Brysen.

The BDSM is fairly hardcore. So if you have mixed feelings about BDSM, “O/s” probably isn’t the book for you. I loved how obviously different Jax and Layne were. While Layne never shows any tenderness toward Brysen, Jax is strict but loving. The difference was vast.

The authors created a perfect balance between plot and world building. The explanations about the system were perfectly interwoven with the plot and felt absolutely natural.

Long story short: If you like violence, mind fuck and dub-con in your books and you’re not opposed to a BDSM sci-fi setting, then this is the book for you. If, however, you’re a bit dubious about BDSM and prefer your MCs to have a bit of kinky fun, then you probably won’t like “O/s”.

Personally, I absolutely loved it. Definitely won’t be the last book by these two for me!

Cover: The cover by April Martinez is very simplistic. I quite like it, though. Definitely better than your average BDSM cover with a sub in chains or something. An eye-catcher.

Sales Links

Loose id LLC

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Book details: ebook, 299 pages

Published August 2nd 2016 by Loose ID