Wednesday, October 31, 2018

ARC Review: Phin's Christmas by Bonnie Dee

Blurb:
Excited to celebrate his first Christmas with his true love, Phin Abernathy searches for the perfect gift for Teddy, the artist who saved him from solitude (The Artist). But his happy holiday dreams are soon threatened.

After a year of living on his own, then with his beloved partner, Phin has mostly banished his negative view of himself. He and Teddy are happily saving toward a house they can share, when a chance encounter with a stranger raises Phin’s old ghosts of doubt, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Struggling to quell such negative spirits, Phin focuses on volunteering at a children’s shelter. But when he sees his Teddy and handsome Justin Crump (The Medium) in a suspicious situation, it is difficult to control his racing thoughts. Belief in Teddy’s love for him wars with Phin’s fear his lover wants something more.

Phin must decide how far he is willing to go to keep Teddy in his life, and truly embrace his own worth before he can ever celebrate the season.


Dani's rating:


This book is the follow-up to Bonnie Dee's The Artist, a novel I highly recommend. The author states that Phin's Christmas works as a standalone, but I strongly suggest reading The Artist first to see how Phin and Teddy met and came to be a couple.

My only complaint about The Artist was the somewhat abrupt ending. This book, set a few months after Phin and Teddy's tentative HEA, brings Phin and Teddy's story full circle; it's an extended epilogue of sorts.

While there is some mild angst as Phin doubts he can be enough for Teddy, mostly this is a sweet, tender story about two men who love one another deeply and support each other's dreams.


ARC Review: The Academy by Quinn Anderson

Blurb:

True love stabs you in the front.

Nick Steele just wants a normal life, cliché or not. He had one once, back in Chicago. Before his father died and he took a year off from college to grieve. Now, he’s starting fresh at a prestigious—but tiny—Catholic university. Adjusting to small-town life will be a challenge, along with making friends and keeping his scholarship. All he wants to do is blend in, get his diploma, and go back home.

But Sebastian Prinsen—campus heartthrob and a notorious player—has other plans. He notices Nick right away and makes a bet with his two best friends: Who can kiss the new kid first? Nick seems immune to Sebastian’s charms, and yet genuine chemistry sparks between them. Even worse, real feelings do too. Sebastian falls more and more every time Nick blows him off, but if he comes clean about the bet, Nick will hate him forever.

The last thing Nick wants is to fall in love while he’s still grieving, but Sebastian feels like home to him. Nick wants that so badly he may ignore the warning signs and risk his fragile heart once more.

My rating:





This was a not so stereotypical college romance, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It had some issues, on which I'll elaborate further down.

Nick arrives at The Academy for his senior year after having taken a year off due to the death of his father. Starting over a tiny Catholic college wasn't the plan, but here we are. Nick plans to focus on his studies, maybe making some friends, and then getting his diploma and go home. Still struggling with grief, and on a tight budget, Nick knows that he's dependent on the scholarship he got, and has no plans whatsoever for a college romance or any such nonsense.

Sebastian is the college campus player. When he spots Nick, he makes a bet with his two oldest friends, Dante and Theo, on who can kiss the new guy first - with the provision that the new guy has to initiate the kiss. Sebastian is the proverbial spoiled rich kid. Or so it seems.

Nick doesn't want to give Sebastian the time of day at first, but slowly the ice melts a bit.

With the premise as it is, Nick and Sebastian don't spend a whole lot of time together on page to begin with, though that time becomes more and more as the plot progresses. As Sebastian develops real feelings for Nick, he's terrified of the bet coming out. The author attempted to show us that despite all the material things he has, Sebastian is still yearning for something money can't buy, something that he lost and cannot get back; his insecurities are hindering him, and causing him to covertly lash out and hurt others before they can hurt him.

Blogtour: A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love by Arden Powell




Please say hello to Arden Powell and 

A Summer Soundtrack For Falling In Love 


Hi, I’m Arden Powell. I’m here to share writing tips, anecdotes, and behind-the-scenes notes about my new release, A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love. Comment on my blog tour for a chance to win a $20 Amazon.com gift card!





Blurb:

What he wanted was a music career. What he needed was love.

When Kris Golding leaves his dusty Kansas hometown for a fresh start in New York, he thinks an apartment and a job are waiting for him. But when he finds neither, rather than admit defeat, he takes his chances busking—and meets Rayne Bakshi of international rock band The Chokecherries. Rayne needs a new guitarist, and gives Kris his first break since leaving home.

Rayne wears makeup and glitter and thinks nothing of kissing Kris in front of twenty thousand screaming fans for the attention. Instantly infatuated, Kris begins to question whether he might have a crush on Rayne—could he be bisexual? But since Kris originally claimed to be straight, Rayne’s wary of getting involved offstage. As their tour gains momentum, Kris’s sexuality becomes the least of his troubles. Between his conservative brother hell-bent on “rescuing” him from his life of debauchery, a peacock that may or may not be the avatar of a cult god, and a publicity stunt that threatens to upend the band, Kris is definitely not in Kansas anymore.



Get the book:




How Editors Make Your Story Better
So many writers have been there: you finish your draft, polish it up, give it to someone—a critique partner, friend, or editor—and they read it over and say, “Okay, this is very good and I like it, BUT—”
And your stomach drops, because no one likes hearing what comes after that “BUT.” Unfortunately, that’s what you need to improve your craft. So you bite your tongue and nod, because you NEED to hear it, and your story does, too.
A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love is my first novel. I was ecstatic when it was accepted—but then came the edit letter, which was basically ten pages of BUTs. Which was to be expected, of course. No editor is going to fling your novel out into the world without giving it a long, hard edit. That’s the entire point of an editor, after all—and also the reason so many new writers seem to fear them.
“But what if they want me to CHANGE it?” you cry. “What if they want me to make all these terrible changes that completely miss the heart of the story I’m trying to tell?”
Well, if they do, pack up and take your novel elsewhere. You deserve an editor whose vision for your book aligns with your own. Editors are here to identify the under-constructed bits of your book that you, who have been buried up to your neck for the past however many months in writing, can no longer recognize.
When I submitted Summer Soundtrack, it was 65,000 words. By the time I finished my developmental edits, it had grown to almost 85,000, and that was entirely down to my editor’s suggestions. I went in with the attitude that my editor knew how to make my book the best it could be. That attitude didn’t necessarily make reading the edit letter easier, but if you’re not willing to take other people’s (professional) opinions into account, don’t submit your work at all. Anywhere. Because people, especially editors, have a lot of opinions.
Assuming you DO want to hear their opinions: go in with an open mind, but don’t be afraid to dig your heels in over the things that are important to you. If your editor does suggest making a change that you think misses the point, find a compromise. If they say your middle is lagging and suggest you add a subplot about a long-lost twin, but you would rather add a subplot about overthrowing the government because that fits the theme of your novel better, suggest that instead. The point is to fix the laggy middle.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Blogtour: Life Underwater by Matthew J. Metzger




Title: Life Underwater
Author: Matthew J. Metzger
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: October 22, 2018
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 55300
Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, academia, trans, non-binary, agender, asexual, interracial/intercultural, disability/phobia, family issues, #ownvoices

Add to Goodreads




When It All Comes Together

I had this idea. I wanted to write about someone with hydrophobia falling in love with someone who was obsessed with the sea.

I had this other idea. I wanted to finally write a POV character who was both asexual and trans, like me.

I had this other idea. I wanted to write a character whose identified was a specific non-binary identity, not the umbrella term.

And I had a fourth idea. I wanted to have a partnership where one thought of queer as a liberating identifier, and the other still likened it to being called a faggot in school.

In my day job, I'm a number cruncher. I manage data. Enormous spreadsheets full of numbers and formulas and blah-blah-blah—I'm basically as far from a creative type as it gets. My colleagues flat out do not believe me that I'm an author. It's a running joke in the office. But anyway. I'm a data nerd, so of course, I have a writing spreadsheet. It's a colour-coded spreadsheet with all my book ideas written down, some with titles and some without, and the various queer identities marked next to them so I can keep an eye on any that I'm missing.

Originally, only the hydrophobia/diver love story was Life Underwater. And then I had three question marks scattered throughout the spreadsheet, with the other three ideas.

Then I saw this photo.

Image provided by the author for use in this post. 

(I don't know the photographer or models, but my hugest thanks to them for the picture!)

Just like that, everything snapped together. And I mean everything. I knew their names, Ashraf and Jamie. I knew that Jamie was bubbly and energetic, whereas Ashraf led life at a more sedate pace. I knew that Ashraf was several years older. I knew that they hadn't been together very longer, and I knew that they didn't—even shouldn't—fit if I listed their attributes side by side.

And as I wrote it, the ideas fell away. The lines in my spreadsheet were condensed into one. Ashraf and Jamie. That was all it said, because although I'd set out to write those four ideas, I ended up ignoring all of them and letting Ashraf and Jamie led me where they wanted to go. Their trip to Amman. Their kiss at Whitley Bay. Mosque on the Friday, and church on the Sunday for the baby's christening. I let them guide me, and only when they stopped talking to me did I look back at what I'd done.

Everything was there.

All four ideas were there, mixed into this warm, sensual, comfortable story. And it remained—through beta-reading and sensitivity reading, through five rounds of edits, through cover and proofs and ARCs—more of a feeling than a book.

One reader said it was a book to read on the sofa, under a blanket, with a hot chocolate in hand. I recommend that method. Because I should be marketing a book, talking about the process, leaving strategically-placed excerpts—but I'm not.

I've sold a feeling.

And I didn't know it when I wrote it.



About the book


Ashraf never thought he could fall in love. So when he falls hard and fast for marine biologist Jamie Singer, it’s a shock to the system—in more ways than one.

Even if he can wrap his head around what love is and how relationships work, Ashraf’s not sure this is viable. He’s hydrophobic. And Jamie’s entire world revolves around the sea. What’s the point of trying if so much of Jamie’s life is inaccessible to Ashraf?

But Ashraf has vastly underestimated the pull of loving Jamie. For the first time, he wants to face the water, rather than flee from it. He has underestimated the power of love in making people brave, stupid, or a little bit of both. Maybe it’s time to take a leap—and sink or swim.






Excerpt

Life Underwater
Matthew J. Metzger © 2018
All Rights Reserved
Chapter One

He was getting funny looks.

It was an airport. Of course he was. It didn’t matter that he was waiting at the arrivals gate, and he didn’t have a bag. Ashraf always got funny looks in airports.

For once, though, he didn’t care.

Because the flight from Sydney had clicked over to “arrived” nearly forty-five minutes ago. And Australian accents were starting to float out of the tunnel. His phone had already beeped in his pocket twice.

Jamie: Landed safe, see you soon, love you! xxx

Followed, not ten minutes later, by a second.

Jamie: Don’t go to mosque tonight? I want you all to myself. Please? xxx

Six weeks was almost over.

Mosque could definitely wait.

He saw Professor Hanley first, with his customary battered backpack and fresh-from-the-jungle look. The man was a walking biohazard, and ticked every one of the absent-minded professor stereotypes, from the shabby jacket with the patched elbows to the Einstein-after-electrocution haircut. At his elbow loped his research assistant, George, looking like he’d not slept for the whole trip. He probably hadn’t. And behind them, weighed down with souvenirs and suntans, their brand new PhD students, Meg and Jamie.

Ashraf began to smile.

The sight of Jamie, even after six weeks, was as familiar as though it had been six hours. That fluffy beanie hat. The strays of light-brown hair escaping around the edges. The spray of freckles that had eluded the sun cream. The small ears and sharp jaw, where Ashraf liked to trail his fingers down from shell to shoulder and feel the life underneath his touch. The bright, brilliant brown eyes that would dim shyly when he did.

That lit up like fireworks in the dark when their gazes met.

“Ashraf!”

The yell was like coming home. Warm. Wanted. Safe—even if the weight that smashed into his chest was anything but. Ashraf staggered, squeezing tight around skinny shoulders and trying to breathe past the scarf that smothered his face. Legs snaked around his thighs and clung too. He hadn’t had a four-limbed hug in six weeks, and he never wanted to put them down.

But he did.

If only to catch both arms around a lean back, and kiss them.

Fists clutched at the front of his jacket. That beautiful face turned up into his own. Feet pushed up into perfect ballet points, and Ashraf could have stayed right there, holding his entire world in the circle of his arms, holding that weight like it was nothing, forever.

Even if he wasn’t allowed.

The kiss was broken by a laugh, a nose rubbing against his own, and the brightest eyes in the world.

“Welcome home, Jamie.”

“Missed you,” Jamie enthused and wriggled against his chest as though hugging, without actually putting their arms around him. “What are you doing here? I was all set to surprise you at work!”

“I win,” Ashraf said simply and squeezed. Jamie squeaked, coming up off their feet entirely. “I borrowed Tariq’s car.”

“Oh my God!”

“So do you need to go back with the others, or…”

Bookblitz: Master Braden's Houseboy by Brina Brady




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK  

Available Exclusive to Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited
Length: 275 pages

Cover: Brina Brady
Irish Runaway Series

Book #1 - The Runaway Gypsy Boy - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 - Master Cleary's Boys - Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb
Reece was a guitar player and a singer at his grandfather’s pub in Dublin until someone betrays his secret. Once he was a happy and carefree young man, who finds himself on the streets and homeless.

He meets a handsome stranger, who gives him hope that the world still has people with compassion, until he discovers the man may have compassion, but he is no softie. Conner hires Reece as his houseboy.

Much to his shock, Conner Braden isn’t only a garda (Irish police officer), but he is also a Dom! The two men are complete opposites, but that doesn’t stop Reece from wanting to win his heart.

What happens when Master Braden blurs the lines between employer and Dom when Reece is his employee?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book contains mild BDSM elements including restraints, blindfolds, and spanking. While the story uses characters from The Irish Runaway Series, you can read this book as a standalone.




About Brina

Release Blitz: Stoker & Bash #2 - The Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree by Selina Kray





Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 100,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Tiferet Design


Stoker and Bash Series
Book #1 - The Fangs Of Scavo - Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb
When will She open Rebecca Northcote’s box?

Finding lost poodles and retrieving stolen baubles is not how DI Tim Stoker envisioned his partnership with his lover, Hieronymus Bash. So when the police commissioner's son goes missing, he's determined to help, no matter what secrets he has to keep, or from whom.

When a family member is kidnapped, Hiero moves heaven and earth to rescue them. Even if that means infiltrating the Daughters of Eden, a cult of wealthy widows devoted to the teachings of Rebecca Northcote and the mysterious contents of her box. The Daughters' goodwill toward London's fallen women has given them a saintly reputation, but Hiero has a nose for sniffing out a fraud. He will need to draw on some divine inspiration to rattle the pious Daughters.

Like weeds gnarling the roots of Eden's fabled tree, Tim and Hiero's cases intertwine. Serpents, secrets, and echoes from Hiero's past lurk behind every branch. Giving in to temptation could bind them closer together—or sever their partnership forever. 




Excerpt


When will She open Rebecca Northcote’s box?

Hieronymus Bash contemplated the question posed by the long, red-lettered banner that blazoned over the otherwise quaint fruit and vegetable stall. A sharp tug of the arm from Callie, his ward, brought him to heel. He’d already been struggling to match her brisk pace, having been dragged from his early afternoon repose in the cozy climes of his study into, of all things, the sunshine, or what passed for it on this weak-tea day.

Rays of piss-yellow sun trickled down over the city, tinting the fumes that oozed up from the Thames. Clouds of smog blurred the distant Albert Bridge into an impressionist’s nightmare. A growing crowd choked the small stage erected just before the river’s edge, scuttling in from both directions of Cheyne Walk like ants over a carcass. A bald man with a white mustache that flapped out to his ears checked his pocket watch for the fourth time since Hiero and his companions descended from their carriage.

At the far end of the stage, a squad of low-rank militia struggled to keep a path clear for the Duke of Edinburgh and his bride, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, only beloved daughter of Tsar Alexander II. The newlyweds were, in the timeless tradition of royals everywhere, unfashionably late to the opening of the Chelsea Embankment, the third and final stage of the sewage system that had transformed London’s riverside.

“Look, it’s Bazalgette!” Callie tugged him forward, doing a fine impression of an excitable hound.

“While I admire your enthusiasm, I do wonder if it’s not a tad misplaced.”

Callie scoffed. “Only you would prefer the arrival of some dippy duke over the architect of this entire endeavor.” She threw her free arm out wide. “Can you not spare a moment to admire this feat of engineering? In the place of muddy banks, pavement has been laid, a fence with lampposts erected, with gardens and greenery to come. And running beneath it, the waste of London, and soon an underground train! How can you be so trout-mouthed in the face of such marvels?”

“Not your most persuasive argument, comparing the face that dropped a thousand trousers to a fishmonger’s wares.”

Callie sighed, relinquishing his arm to chase after her muttonchopped idol. Hiero watched her go, marveling at how much she resembled her Uncle Apollo, Hiero’s long-deceased lover who had charged him with her care in character and spirit. Theirs was an unconventional household, where the lady moonlighted as a detective, the servants were part of the family, and the lord of the manor—Hiero himself—was neither a lord nor owned the manor.

“Come now.” Han, his friend and self-appointed keeper, fell into step beside him. The rhythmic taps of his lotus-headed walking stick slowed their pace to a stroll. “You’re no longer catch of the day with Mr. Stoker about.”

“Perhaps if he were about, someone would defend my honor.” Hiero bristled at the mention of his fair-weather paramour, Timothy Kipling Stoker, a detective inspector with Scotland Yard who shadowed them when there was a mystery to solve but otherwise preoccupied himself with... well, finding them another mystery. His dedication to duty exasperated.

“Not likely.”

“No, I rather thought not.” Hiero pressed a lavender handkerchief to his mouth and nose. Mr. Bazalgette’s innovations would have to work much harder to filter out nearly a millennia of filth, the river being a cesspit into which the city had poured every conceivable kind of rubbish, from human to animal to otherwise. A place where sins had been cast off and bodies buried. A few of Hiero’s personal acquaintance.

“Where has your Mr. Stoker taken himself off to this—” Han considered the urinal murk of the embankment and found himself at a loss of an adjective. “—afternoon?”

“I do not presume to know what impulses rule that man.”

“And yet you are the one who rides his... coattails.”

“Only when he deigns to undress for the occasion. Otherwise...” Hiero huffed, his mood irretrievably spoilt by this line of conversation. “I cannot think where I’ve gone wrong with him.”

“No?” Han evidenced something close to a smirk. “It wouldn’t have something to do with meddling in his work affairs, compromising his relationship with his superiors, forcing him into our fellowship, risking everything he holds dear, and then sharing nothing of consequence about yourself, now would it?”

Monday, October 29, 2018

ARC Review: Trex or Treat by Tara Lain

Trex or Treat
Blurb:
Josh Harris is all dad all the time. A busy college professor and devoted single father, Josh tries to be happy with only his son for company. But then Bradley “Trex” Trexler moves in across the street with his stepbrother, Bogo, and takes advantage of their empty home, making it into a haunted house for Halloween.

Josh's son, Ernie, can't wait to go, so Josh dresses up like a movie cowboy and saunters over. It’ll be the best Halloween of Ernie’s life, but there’s another sharpshooter roaming the dark corridors, and this one might have a special treat for Josh….



Todd's rating:




At around only 35 pages, this short Halloween read didn't have a lot of time for setup and HEA's, but I enjoyed it for what it was.

Josh
was a professor and father to a 10 year old son, Ernie, with a crush on his new, eye candy neighbor.

And unbeknownst to Josh, the hot neighbor, Trex, also had a mutual crush on him right back.

So after Trex and his stepbrother Bogo's haunted house for the kids, Trex invited Josh over for a bit of an "adult" after-party.

The story had the bare-bones *beginning* of a romantic tale, but with the limited page count, the story mainly stayed on flirty, carnal side, with inexperienced Josh getting buggered within an inch of his life, which was pretty hot.

ARC Review: Who We Were by Melissa Collins

Who We Were
Blurb:
Who We Were...

Two awkward teenagers - the loner and the nerd, trying to find our place in the world. Paired in wood shop, we knew nothing of each other, except that we wanted to know everything. Then one life altering moment changed it all and we were left with shattered dreams and broken hearts.

Who We Are...

Two grown men - braver and smarter than we used to be, trying to heal the damage from that irrevocable moment. Even though the past was behind us, dead and buried long ago, we found it impossible to move on without ripping open the scars of our deep wounds.

With twelve years of unanswered questions fueling our desperate need for the truth, we must figure out if who we were will destroy who we are.



Todd's rating:




There was a lot about this story that I really liked, but I had a few problems with it, too.

In the first parts of the story, I adored both Ryan and Quinn. Ryan had been badly-treated by his family for his entire life, but he had hope of escaping his crappy life, difficult after high school. And Quinn was smitten with Ryan and wanted to make him his own, supporting Ryan in whatever way possible.

Then Ryan started running away. Like move a whole buncha states away "running". Then he ran away again. And yet again.

Aaaaand that got kind of old, pretty damn quick.

I kept thinking that there has to be some very good reason behind Ryan's (extreme) propensity to bolt, but when "The Big Secret" was finally revealed, it was a huge, "Wait, whut? *THATt's* the reason why???" moment for me.

Yes, I got that "The Big Secret" wasn't something pleasant, but in *my* opinion, it wasn't the earth-shattering event that would result in Ryan repeatedly pulling his best imitation of a greyhound, knowingly leaving Quinn devastated in his wake every damn time, so that reasoning felt slightly contrived to me.

I did like how Ryan took the bull by the horns and finally dealt with his crappy past, but I've gotta admit, by that point in the story, I'd written his name in permanent ink on my "People Who Suck" list. Right along with Ryan's physically and verbally abusive brother, Patrick.

So even when Ryan eventually made his grand gesture and stopped hurting Quinn, he was still the recipient of my side-eye, since Quinn had never been anything but amazing and supportive, and Ryan kept putting Quinn through the wringer over and over again for his trouble.

Also, some of the dialogue felt kinda-sorta M/F to me, coming across as a bit unrealistic for every-day people to actually say.

Blogtour: The Day the Jerk Starting Falling by Max Monroe


TDTJSF BT Banner.jpg




Rule number one: don’t fall for your best friend’s brother.

Rule number two: don’t fall for jerks.

But rules go out the window the day the jerk starts falling...



The Jerk Duet is complete!




The Day the Jerk Started Falling, the fun and flirty conclusion of The Jerk Duet, from New York Times bestselling author Max Monroe is available NOW!





BOOK TWO_JERK DUET_TheDayTheJerkStartedFalling_Cover
My name is Oliver Arsen, but my mates call me Ollie.

I live hard and love harder, and it’s love that usually gets me in the most trouble.

According to the greater population, I’m the ultimate jerk.

My affection tends to be short-lived—a quality I’ve been assured multiple times by the fairer sex isn’t becoming—and the leaving part of loving and leaving has always come natural.

At least, it used to.

Until her.

Luciana Wright.

She’s an American bombshell and my sister’s best friend—a woman so wrong for me, it’s written in the waves.

And she’s the reason we’re all here.

The reason I have to go back to explain how it all went wrong.

To the day the jerk started falling.



TDTJSF AN FB



Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!



Start the Duet with The Day I Stopped Falling for Jerks!



Excerpt:


Podcast Series: The Day the Jerk Started Falling with Oliver Arsen

Dating is easy, mates. The women are plentiful, the opportunities abundant, and the fun endless.

I’ve taken a woman night surfing—only to end up using the board and the motion of the water for another purpose—jetted over to New Zealand for a two-day holiday with another, and given more than one a fair tour of my bedroom.

No effort overspent, I enjoyed every moment of it.

I live hard and love harder, but it’s the second one that usually gets me in the most trouble. My affection tends to be short-lived—a quality I’ve been assured multiple times by the fairer sex isn’t becoming.

Basically, according to the greater population, I’m the ultimate jerk.

And if you grouped the lot of my past conquests together and set me ablaze, not one of them would piss on me to save my life.

Taking the next step, having a long-term relationship, has never been my forte.

Commitment is hard. The thought of a one-woman wank for the rest of my life has barely ever been conceivable, let alone possible, and I have to blame that for how badly it all went.

When I look back at my behavior, there has to be a reason.

A reason, friends, that when it came to Luciana Wright, I fucked it all up.

I’ve been cursed out, stomped on, slapped. Had my balls volleyed, spat on, and punched. And even, on one occasion, nearly run over by a car with a madwoman behind the wheel.

But I’ve never been through the brutal torture of love.

Until Lucky.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

ARC Review: Hiding the Moon by Amy Lane

From The Blurb:
A Fish Out of Water/Racing for the Sun Crossover 
Can a hitman and a psychic negotiate a relationship while all hell breaks loose? 
The world might not know who Lee Burton is, but it needs his black ops division and the work they do to keep it safe. Lee’s spent his life following orders—until he sees a kill jacket on Ernie Caulfield. Ernie isn’t a typical target, and something is very wrong with Burton’s chain of command. 
Ernie’s life may seem adrift, but his every action helps to shelter his mind from the psychic storm raging within. When Lee Burton shows up to save him from assassins and club bunnies, Ernie seizes his hand and doesn’t look back. Burton is Ernie’s best bet in a tumultuous world, and after one day together, he’s pretty sure Lee knows Ernie is his destiny as well. 
But when Burton refused Ernie’s contract, he kicked an entire piranha tank of bad guys, and Burton can’t rest until he takes down the rogue military unit that would try to kill a spacey psychic. Ernie’s in love with Burton and Burton’s confused as hell by Ernie—but Ernie’s not changing his mind and Burton can’t stay away. Psychics, assassins, and bad guys—throw them into the desert with a forbidden love affair and what could possibly go wrong?

Karen's rating:




This may be Burt and Ernie but it's not the children's version...

If you haven't read 'Racing for the Sun' or the first 3 books in Ms Lane's 'Fish Out of Water' series...specifically 'A Few Good Fish' I strongly recommend reading them because for me while there's a lot of overlap between those two books and this one. 'Hiding the Moon' does more than retell events from 'Racing the Sun' or 'Fish Out of Water' it's the link that solidifies the connection between these books.

We first met Lee Burton (Burt) in 'Racing for the Sun' when he came to the aid of Sonny and Ace finding not only men in need of his help but friends who would offer him a safe place to go when he needed it for himself or for a rather unusual young man with a talent for knowing things that he shouldn't and for being a diversion that Lee finds he can't live without.

It's not until 'A Few Good Fish' that we meet Ernie. When Burt is given the task of 'taking out' Ernie. He sees someone who is not a threat to national security or a terrorist of any kind but a young man who makes him want and distracts him but Burt tries to convince himself that he needs to walk away from Ernie but the heart wants what the heart wants and for Burt his heart wants Ernie.

While much of 'Hiding the Moon' takes place during the the same time frame as events from 'A Few Good Fish'. It's not Jackson and Ellery's lives or perspective that we're following and it's not until later in the story that Jackson and Ellery become a more direct part of events but even then for me Ernie and Burt were still the main focus of what was happening.

I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of stories that are retold from a different perspective quite honestly I find them to be boring and repetitive more often than not. That was not the case for me with this story and I think that one of the main reasons for this is that 'Hiding the Moon' isn't about retracing the actions of  Jackson and Ellery but finding out what others were doing at that time...specifically Burt and Ernie with a bit of Sonny and Ace thrown in since they also play a role in both of the books that I've mentioned.

I liked Burt in 'Racing for the Sun' and was pleasantly surprised to see him resurface in 'A Few Good Fish' but here in 'Hiding the Moon' seeing Burt and Ernie's relationship as it evolves has been absolutely delightful. I loved having a closer look at how these two met and their lives came to be tangled together.

ARC Review: The Bones Beneath My Skin by T.J. Klune

The Bones Beneath My Skin
Blurb:
In the spring of 1995, Nate Cartwright has lost everything: his parents are dead, his older brother wants nothing to do with him, and he's been fired from his job as a journalist in Washington DC. With nothing left to lose, he returns to his family's summer cabin outside the small mountain town of Roseland, Oregon to try and find some sense of direction.

The cabin should be empty.

It's not.

Inside is a man named Alex. And with him is an extraordinary little girl who calls herself Artemis Darth Vader.

Artemis, who isn't exactly as she appears.

Soon it becomes clear that Nate must make a choice: let himself drown in the memories of his past, or fight for a future he never thought possible.

Because the girl is special. And forces are descending upon them who want nothing more than to control her.



Todd's rating:




I think Heather and I are on almost the same wavelength where "The Bones Beneath My Skin" was concerned.

Was the story good? Undoubtedly.

Was it what I expected? Debatable.

Was it a romance? Yes.

Was it 'primarily ' a romance. Definitely no.

Did it feel a bit like the love child of Stranger Things and that movie that if I actually named, you'd immediately guess 'how ' Artemis was special? That would be my closest approximation.


I loved the parts of the book when they were at the cabin. Seeing Nate's view of Alex as a cold-blooded killer and Artemis as just some weird little girl do a complete 180, with him ending up adoring them both.

Their time there was very special and the beginnings of what I was hoping to be the development of deep, on-page feelings between Nate and Alex. Like, up to your elbows in feels and love.

ARC Review: The Kinsey Scale by CJane Elliott

The Kinsey Scale (Campus Connections, #1)Blurb:

Life is good for Eric Brown. He’s a senior theater major, an RA for a freshman dorm, and has a great circle of friends. Single since sophomore year, Eric isn’t looking for love. But then Will Butler—fellow senior, co-RA, and the cutest guy Eric’s ever seen—walks into his dorm. Will has a girlfriend he sees off campus—a minor disappointment that becomes a major problem when a housing shortage causes Will and Eric to become roommates, and Eric is forced to witness Will’s hotness day in and day out. For protection, Eric asks Jerry, his ex-boyfriend, to pretend they’re still together. Jerry warns him it’s a stupid idea, but he reluctantly agrees.

Too bad it won’t save Eric from losing his heart.

Will Butler has never believed in himself. His dysfunctional family saw to that. Although Will has loved music since childhood, he’s never seriously considered pursuing it, and the person he’s dating doesn’t encourage him. Then he and Eric Brown become roommates, and everything changes. Eric believes in Will and his talent. He’s also gorgeous and playful and fast becoming Will’s best friend. And that’s not good, because Will is hiding some big things, not only from Eric, but from himself.


My rating:





Utterly adorable novella, first in a new series - yeah, sign me up!

You know what they say about assuming, right? Right. Apparently Eric forgot that little tidbit when he meets Will and assumes that Will is straight. I mean, it's obvious, right, because Will has a girlfriend named Jessie, even if Jessie is never seen, but Will spends time with her on weekends, so clearly he's got a thing with Jessie going.

Until he doesn't.

And since Eric and Will are both RAs, and got thrown together due to a room shortage in the dorm, and since Will is HAWT, Eric can't stop himself from falling head over heels. But since Will is so obviously straight, and Eric doesn't want Will to know what he's feeling, he concocts a scheme about a fake boyfriend. And who better than his actual ex-boyfriend now best friend Jerry? Even if Jerry flat out tells Eric that it's a stupid idea and will totally backfire.

And from the above you might think that this is just a humorous little novella without any depth. And you'd be wrong.

ARC Review: A Deeper Blue (Rules of Possession, #2) by S.E. Harmon

A Deeper Blue (Rules of Possession, #2)
Blurb:
A year ago, Kelly Cannon couldn’t imagine he’d end up with his formerly straight best friend. It’s hard to believe he can finally kiss Blue any time he wants… as long as they’re in private. And there’s the rub. Despite Kelly’s promise to wait until Blue is ready to come out, he’s tired of sneaking around. The cracks in their relationship are starting to show, and there might not be enough spackle in the world to fix them.

Britton “Blue” Montgomery may not be the physics brainiac his boyfriend is, but he’s not stupid. He knows Kelly isn’t completely happy. But he’s not ready to be the poster boy for bisexuals and gays in the NFL. He just wants to keep his head down, play the game he loves, and go home to the man he adores. Is that too much to ask?

With the truth slowly coming to the surface, Blue must make a choice. If it means losing Kelly, there’s no decision to make…. He has to find enough courage to face the music and hope they’ll survive the fallout.

Man. Happily-ever-afters may not be just for Disney princesses, but they sure are a lot of work.



Jewel's rating:



A Deeper Blue was just the follow up I wanted for Blue and Kelly. I recall when I finished The Blueprint, I wanted more. Well, I'm happy to say I got it. A Deeper Blue was just what I needed.

After the guys officially got together in The Blueprint, Blue offered to come out. He wasn't really ready, though, and Kelly didn't want to push it. Blue wasn't ready to retire and he wasn't much interested in being a poster-child for LGBT+ NFL players, either.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Blogtour: Lonely Hearts, A Novella Bundle by Posy Roberts


Lonely Hearts Tour Banner


Lonely Hearts
A Novella Bundle
Posy Roberts
M/M Romance
Release Date: 10.25.18





BLURB

lonely hearts ebook 4x6
Stoic men, who believe they’re happy alone, find the world turned upside down when their perfect someone stumbles across their path. In four novellas, eight men encounter unique struggles on their way to their well-deserved happily ever after.

Marc joins the Lonely Hearts chat room where men support men on their way to finding true love. He wants to believe that kind of love is possible for him, but his once-burned heart stops him from going all-in with anyone. 
The chat group’s philosophy is, “Figure out how you keep screwing up your happily ever after. Once you know, you’re more likely to find the true thing.”

Skeptical as he is, Marc logs in and meets men in various degrees of getting there. At least he’s not alone. Luther truly loves his single life on the Bakken oil fields. William’s not sure he’ll ever measure up, let alone find someone he can be himself around. And Andrew still pines for a guy he hooked up with on a reenactment battlefield before he got blown up on a real one.

One by one they start dropping like flies. Flies drunk on love. And sooner than he expects, Marc’s luck starts changing thanks to these new friends.

Walk alongside these men as they find the men of their dreams and discover their happily ever afters.


101,000 Words | 396 pages | 8-9 hours to read


blue-collar | reluctant lovers | rural | bisexual | gay | meet-cute | fated lovers | love triangle | Halloween | white-collar | opposites attract | multicultural | coming out | second chance | first time | disability romance | meant to be | military | artist | world traveler | coming of age | long distance | pen pals | gay romance | contemporary | MM romance | lone wolf | alpha male


Stories included: Bent Arrow, Stroke of Luck, Momo, My Everything, and Love on a Battlefield.

Universal Amazon Link: http://getbook.at/LonelyHearts

Lonely Hearts pinterest

Lonely Hearts

Chat Rooms & Online Intimacy

Do you remember when chat rooms were a new thing? I just dated myself. Haha. Oh well, too late for that. I remember a college friend spending hours chatting with strangers in his room on his computer rather than socializing with friends in the flesh out in the living room. This was the early 90s, and it was weird to me. Never in my life did I think chat and text would be the way we interact with most people in our lives today.

I have a very close friend I met—first online and later in the flesh—that I’m still friends with nearly a decade later, and he’s not the only one. I chat with friends daily, and I’ve found that sharing struggles and heartbreak via text is occasionally easier. Oddly enough, not being face-to-face can bring about a level of intimacy that was unheard of back when I first learned of chat rooms.

When putting together Lonely Hearts: a novella bundle, I wanted to pull each individual story closer to the others. While they all share the theme of lonely, stoic men looking for love, I felt it needed something more.

I’m giving all the credit for the chat room idea to my muse, because it came from out of the blue. I’d always envisioned the guys from Stroke of Luck might possibly know Hugo and Kevin from my North Star Trilogy, mostly because they live in the same neighborhood in Minneapolis. It wasn’t until my muse told me to write a chat room scene that the bundle truly came together as a more cohesive work.

At the start of Lonely Hearts, we seen Marc logging onto a chat room for the first time because a friend of a friend told him about this guy who moderated a chat room dedicated to helping lonely queer men heal themselves so they’d be ready for love when the right guy came around. If you’ve read Spark, North Star #1, you’ll know Hugo swore men off for a year to deal with his shit so he’d stop making the same mistakes with men. He set up this chat room to help others.

While each story in this bundle is set in a different state, these men come together in the Lonely Hearts Chat Room to support and challenge each other in their relationship pursuits and personal healing. Between each story, you’ll get a glimpse of four of the men represented in the novellas, slowly getting to know them. So even though you don’t meet Andrew until the last story in the bundle, you’ll see he’s a wordy guy, which hints at his penchant for journaling and processing via the written word.

I hope you give this novella bundle a chance. Each story will take about two hours to read, depending on your speed, so they’re great for waiting rooms, standing in line to vote, or sitting in the parking lot while waiting for kids. It’s also available in a paperback that comes in at around 400 pages, just to give you an idea of the length.

Happy reading!






EXCERPT

Marc logged into the chat room, unsure what he was getting into, but he’d been reassured by a friend (who was friends with the moderator) that this was a good group of guys. If nothing else, he’d get to know other queer men. If he was lucky, maybe they’d help him find a way to open up his heart to fall in love again. At least that’s how the group was described to him.


5 Members in Chat Room

Marc: Hey, I’m Marc. I’m new here, and the rules said I had to introduce myself. I’m bisexual but haven’t dated much since my ex-girlfriend cheated on me. Work has been my focus, but after three years, I’m lonely. It’s as plain as that. I’m just not sure how to trust someone again.

Hugo: Hi, Marc. I’m Hugo, the moderator. If I disappear all of a sudden, it’s because I’m waiting to chauffeur kids between gymnastics and yoga.

Marc: You have kids?

Hugo: They’re Kevin’s, my boyfriend’s kids. But who knows what the future holds. Anyway, I was in the same place as you not so long ago, with a cheating cheater who cheats. I had a string of shitty boyfriends, but cheating messed me up. Bad. I swore off men for a solid year, and it eventually paid off.

Marc: How did the time off help?

Hugo: I fixed my shit. Figured out what I kept doing wrong. Worked out my patterns.

Luther: Oh no, here he goes! Haha. Love you, H! Marc, H is all about fixing shit so you’re ready for love when it stumbles in your path.

Marc: Makes sense.

Luther: If you have a path filled with potential partners, I supposed it does. H is all about twuuuu wuv cuz he has it. All I can find out here on the oil fields is a hookup. Nothing else. Can’t be out.

Marc: That sucks.

Luther: It’s not all bad. I have a lot of sex and very few awkward conversations. Few conversations at all, to be honest.

William: So, Luth, do you save all the awkward conversations for when you come in here to chat? Stop scaring Marc off.

Luther: Ha. Ha. Okay, Mr. Serious, what have you done lately to make yourself available to the hot dudes who run around on the beaches half naked?

William: I bought a guy a drink at the club last weekend. Spent most of the night with him.

Luther: Before you went home alone?

William: Well, yes, but I had to work the next day.

Luther: LOL.

Andrew: Hi, Marc. Welcome. I’m pretty new here too. New to being fully out despite knowing I liked men for years. I’m still trying to figure out how all this works. Gay clubs are about all I’m capable of yet. If I go to a club, there’s no chance I’ll hit on a straight guy, at least. I’m a vet, and my PTSD and injuries make taking that risk of hitting on the wrong guy anxiety inducing. I distrust everyone, including my own brain and injured body.

Luther: And I’m the sole closet case here.

William: Not entirely. I’m not out at work. No one there has earned the right to know that about me yet. But my family knows.

Hugo: I’ve been out for ages, but I’m still not entirely open about my drag persona. That’s still need to know.

Marc: You do drag? What’s your drag name.

Hugo: Yep. Miss Cherri Pop! ;)

Marc: Where does everyone live? Or should I not ask that?

Luther: On the dusty oil fields of North Dakota, but there are tons of men to hook-up with here. No questions asked. No demands to kiss. Just how I like it!

William: Sunny California, though right now, I’d prefer rain.

Andrew: I’m in Texas, happy to be home after four years in the army.

Hugo: Minneapolis.

Marc: Me too! Minneapolis, that is. I gotta say, it’s nice chatting with some queer men. Everyone around me assumes I’m straight. And since I haven’t dated a man in ages, it’s like all my friends forgot I’m bi. But I’d really like to date a man again. I think if I date a woman, I’m bound to . . . What’s the word? Put all my shit on her?

Hugo: Project?

Marc: Yeah. I’m gonna project my hurt on her cuz of my ex. So I’d really like to try something serious with a guy.

William: So, what are your greatest fears when thinking about falling in love?
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