Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ARC Review: Elpida, by C.Kennedy

From the blurb:

ελπίδα. Elpída. Greek. Meaning hope Hope. v. /ˈhōp/ to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.~Herbert Ward Michael and Christy attended prom, graduated high school, and Michael leads the USATF tryouts. With Oxford University on the horizon, his future looks bright, and he believes life has returned to normal after Christy’s rescue. He couldn’t be more wrong. Christy has been free from a life of slavery for more than a year and has made remarkable progress due in no small part to the love he found with Michael. But the recent prosecution of a past abuser has shattered the life he so painstakingly built out of nothing but a mountain of horror. He now faces the daunting task of building a new life—yet again. Twelve-year-old Thimi has been missing since Christy left Greece and, unbeknownst to everyone, has hidden out in a vacant mansion in Glyfada. Learning of Christy’s survival is the only thing that brings him out of hiding. People, open spaces, even the most common of sounds frighten him beyond reason. A mere ghost of a boy, Thimi arrives in the US with no knowledge of the outside world—the only constant in his life a purple marble. Lost, shattered, and afraid, only hope gives them the strength and courage they need to begin anew.

Annalund's rating:

Elpída. Hope.
Because without hope, we are all lost.
Because without hope, we have nothing.

The final installment of this trilogy leaves me shattered and sad, and full of anger towards the men who perpetrate this kind of abuse on children. But most of all, it leaves me with hope, exhilarated and happy, which, in this context, is nothing short of magic on the author’s part.

To take this extremely important and difficult subject matter, and lovingly show it without condescension or sensationalism, and give so many young people hope? Magic, indeed.

There is such powerful truth in this series. There is such compassionate giving of hope. It is horrid and beautiful at the same time, and it has a way of sending a spiraling sense of meaning out to young people who are hurting, telling them there is a future, there is a life, there is a way. Telling them that there are good people out there, who will love them.

Hope. Truly the most powerful of all human feelings.

We started with beauty in book one. And horror. And friendship. And love.
Omorphi. Beauty.
We continued with courage in book two. Lots and lots of courage. And love.
Thárros. Courage.
We finish with hope in this third book, as we run, and hide, and make mistakes, and fix them again. And love.
Elpída. Hope.

Thimi is a young boy who lived through the same horrors as Christy in Greece, and Christy finally gets to see his old friend again as he arrives in the US as a scared little waif of a boy. Thimi slowly opens up through the story, and as he starts to understand the sunshine that can exist in a normal life we get to see more about what happens inside a child after abuse.

Blogtour: Symbols by Mario Kai Lipinski

Please welcome Mario Kai Lipinski with 



Violence is hard to escape because of the scars it leaves—on the body, the mind, and the heart.

Small, skinny, and timid, Matt is the school’s punching bag. He suffers in silence and holds no hope anyone will come to his aid. The last thing on his mind is finding someone special. He’s sure it’s impossible, so why bother trying?

Shane is no stranger to pain. At his old school, he broke a football player’s arms for tormenting his friend, and with his size and multiple tattoos, he looks every bit the thug everyone—Matt included—assumes he is.

Building trust isn’t easy, but a sweet yet passionate romance slowly unfolds. Their road isn’t without bumps, but Matt and Shane navigate them together, finding happiness and security in each other—until another act of violence and its aftermath threatens to tear their lives—and their love—apart once and for all. But like the symbols etched into Shane’s skin, some things are made to last.

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I’m very excited to get the chance of presenting my upcoming book ‘Symbols’ for the wonderful people at My Fiction Nook. In this guest blog post, I share some of my thoughts on ‘Gentle Giants’ with you, and I’m eager to hear what you have to say about this topic. Enjoy!


If there’s one trope that will make me fall head over heels for a book or a movie, it’s the ‘Gentle Giant’—a powerful person, animal, or, let’s be generous, entity who’s meek and maybe even helps others with these powers.
I rummaged through my age-battered mind to recall the first time I stumbled over this concept, and I think it was Aesop’s fable ‘The Lion and the Mouse,’ read to me in elementary school by the most wonderful teacher (thank you, Mrs. Weiss). The story goes like this: a lion spares a mouse which later saves the lion’s life by gnawing through the ropes used to shackle the lion. Granted: strictly speaking the lion isn’t a gentle giant because it threatens the mouse first and only lets the rodent go because it deems the tiny thing an unworthy prey. Moreover, the moral of the story is that even the smallest person might safe the strongest one. Yet the thing that resonated with little Mario the most was that the lion spared the mouse though it didn’t have to.
Some—cough—many years later I had a similar experience with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the animated version from 1991. The hideous creature, rough on the outside but a soft romantic on the inside, made me go to the theaters four times within two weeks. When the cinemas finally cancelled the movie, I put aside fifty (Deutsch-) marks and counted the days for the VHS cassette to come out. For the young hatchlings among you: a VHS cassette is a black, clunky, rectangular box with gruesome picture and sound quality, and you had to rewind those things when you wanted to watch the movie again… You see how desperate I was to see Belle and the Beast again. Needless to say, I bought the movie on DVD and Blu-ray as soon as it was available.
The idea of the gentle giant resonates so strongly with me that most of my stories have one in them. To be frank, before writing this post I have never asked myself why. The short answer is hope. The hope that these giants exist for real.
‘With great power comes great responsibility’ is a quote which can be traced back to the French Revolution—or more recently Spider-Man. These are wise words, true, but let’s be honest: not too many people heed them.
‘Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is another quote, and unfortunately it describes reality much better than the first one.
Yet I hope that it doesn’t require superpowers to resist the lure of corruption. That there are actually people out there, strong and powerful in their own way, who live up to the responsibility, who are gentle giants. And I’m not hoping in vain. Every news story about a fireman rescuing a kitten or a high school quarterback standing up for an LGBT+ fellow student proves me right. It doesn’t take much to use your own strength and fuel this hope.
This is the other reason why I keep adding these characters to my tales: inspiration. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge to do the right thing. Maybe one of my characters helps people to unleash their own inner gentle giants or at the very least keeps their own hope burning.
Shane, one of the main characters in my story ‘Symbols,’ is the prototype of a gentle giant: a six-foot-eight bodybuilder, scarred and inked, yet a born defender. Not even being punished for saving his best friend makes him doubt his actions because helping others is one of the things that define him.

Book Blitz: Frank at Heart by Pat Henshaw

Title:  Frank at Heart
Series: Foothills Pride series, #6
Author: Pat Henshaw
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 31, 2017
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 30,236 words
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance


Everything about thirty-five-year-old Stone Acres hardware store owner Frank McCord is old-fashioned—from his bow tie and overalls to the way he happily makes house calls to his dreams of lasting romance, true love, and marriage. Frank’s predecessors have run the store and been mainstays in the small California town for over a century. While genial Frank upholds tradition and earns the respect of friends and neighbors, he fears he’s too dull and old to attract a husband.

Into his life comes handsome thirty-six-year-old electronic games designer Christopher Darling and his fifteen-year-old son, Henry. Christopher has everything Frank could want in a potential partner: charm, kindness, and compatibility. Also, he’s a terrific father to Henry. When their Stone Acres home turns out to be uninhabitable, Frank offers the Darlings temporary lodging in his ancestral farmhouse, where he and his tenant Emil reside. Since Emil thinks Frank is his, sparks fly. Suddenly, Frank’s monotonous life promises to explode with love and threatens to change him forever.


My procedure for hiring was pretty simple. In the identification section of the test, I gave applicants a common nail, a Phillips head screw, a paint stirrer, a tape measure, a claw hammer, a screwdriver, a crescent wrench, pliers, a putty knife, and a box cutter. I gave these objects one at a time to the teen and asked him to identify what the object was, when to use it, and how to use it.
Then I gave the applicant six pieces of precut plywood, eight corner angles, tools, and other supplies, and had him—it was usually a him—follow simple directions to make a box with a hinged flap. The whole test was either incredibly easy or horribly complex and frustrating.
My first applicant was a poster boy for the latter. He called both the nail and the screw a screw, then dissolved into a fit of adolescent giggles. I waited for his mirth to subside. He had no idea about any of the tools except the box cutter, which he simply called a wicked-ass knife.
As I walked into the back room with him for the second part of the test, I was appalled at how little he knew and wondered why he wanted to work at a hardware store. Was it just the money?
I stopped him after watching for five minutes as he tried to figure out how to make the box. When he looked at me with defeat in his eyes, I called a halt.
Thank you for coming in, Seth. I think we both know this job wouldn’t be a good fit for you.” I looked over his application form. “I think working at one of the mall stores might be more your speed, don’t you?”
He nodded eagerly. “But my folks say that you’re more established and fairer than the mall stores. I wanted to work for the coffee shop or the movie theater.”
Well, you can tell your parents I appreciate their support, but I’m voting for you to be a real success at either of those other two choices.”
He beamed. As we shook hands, I knew his dad would be in later this week to talk about his son.
Henry turned up alone at two o’clock, and I ran him through the first part of the test. We only hit one snag. We got along too well and ended up having side discussions about the items.
When I handed him the nail, for example, he took it between his fingers and caressed it.
It’s a two-penny flat-head nail.” He rolled it around for a second. “You know, they used to keep nails in big casks like they do wine. Then they sold them by weighing them. They’d scoop them up out of the barrels.”
Well, I mean, what was I supposed to do? Ignore that? Of course not. I took him into the back room where we stored everything we’d removed when my father updated the store in the 1970s. I showed him the old scoop-shaped scale, and we weighed a few nails and other items hanging around.
This is so cool, Frank. You should put it back on the counter. I’ll bet everyone would want to see it. It’d give the store an epic feel.”
I wasn’t sure I agreed about the epic part, but maybe it was time to give the store another more modern redesign.
We scurried out of the back room when the bell tinkled and we could hear someone walking around the front of the store talking to Riley. I tried to stop giving Henry the first part of the test, since he still had the box to build. But when we saw the customer was his father, who seemed to be fascinated by the wall of power tools, Henry took out the remaining items in the little bag.
He held them up one at a time and rattled off their names and purposes.
There!” he crowed, smiling up at me. “Now what do you want me to make?”
I showed him the wood, tools, and directions and left him to the project. When I saw he was reading through the directions, I walked over to his dad. Riley’d already moved back behind the counter and seemed to be working on some inventory sheets.
I’m not here to ask how he’s doing, so don’t think I am.” Christopher didn’t turn around when I got up behind him. He was staring at the power saws.
He’s doing fine.” I didn’t step too close, but drat if I didn’t want to. I wanted to put my hand on his shoulder and squeeze. Or if I was even bolder, I’d put my arm around his waist and snuggle his head back onto my shoulder.
Weren’t those counterproductive daydreams? Now I’d have to wait a moment before I could go back to check on Henry. Overalls worn in public, especially if I was in the vicinity of Christopher, were my groin’s personal enemy.
Christopher turned his head. We were close enough to kiss if I leaned in a little more. I didn’t. Instead I stepped back, although I did smile.
Can I peek?” Christopher was whispering like we had secrets.
I leaned back and looked over my shoulder at his son. Henry was nearly finished with the box. He was studying the directions like they were a map to the El Dorado treasure.
Sure. Go ahead and peek. He’s just about done.”
I sounded as stunned as I felt. First off, Christopher and I were standing too close and whispering. I felt his warmth, and my cheeks burned. As I tried to shake myself back to reality, the second reason I was a little stunned hit me. Henry was on the final step of building the box. How could he be done so quickly?
As I walked back toward him, he held the box at eye level in one hand and opened and closed the hinged door. Henry looked up as I entered the workroom.
I don’t get it,” he said. The hinged door snapped shut as he let it go. “What’s it for?”
He seemed so puzzled that I started to chuckle. Then at his stricken look, I stopped.
It’s not useful in itself. It’s just a test to see if you can follow directions and know how to use the tools.”
His face darkened as I explained.
You use up all of this stuff for that? Anybody can make this.” He put the box down, acting a little disdainful and a lot put out.
You’d be surprised.” I didn’t elaborate. Why tell him that another boy who was in the same grade couldn’t figure out the directions at all?

Audiobook Review: There's This Guy by Rhys Ford

From The Blurb:
How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you? 
Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness. 
It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself. 
When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him. 
Listening Length: 7 hours and 30 minutes

Karen's rating:

E-book or audio, I love this book...

I had the good fortune to review this back in March of this year when the e-book was released and when the opportunity to review the audiobook narrated by Greg Tremblay became available I was all over that baby. I love this book...the story simply melts my heart.

Whether it's a song or a favorite sweater, the car we drive, or the person we snuggle up to in bed a night we love who and what we love and there just doesn't have to be a rhyme or reason for it and I love this book.

And as is the case more often than not with a book that I loved my review was long and as far as I'm concerned my feelings about this one haven't changed so, if it's not broke let's not fix it...

Original Review: There's This Guy by Rhys Ford

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

ARC Review: Sex Ed by Z.B. Heller

Sex Ed
Jaxson Dane is harboring a secret.

Not the fact that he’s a geeky comic book lover, or that he secretly draws his own comic, Bunny Fu Ninja Warrior. It’s not even classified information that he’s out and proud!

His secret is the shame that he’s a twenty-three-year-old virgin.

Jaxson isn’t waiting for marriage or even afraid of taking that step, he just hasn’t found the one guy who will accept all of his adorkable qualities. Due to an unfortunate mishap with a self-pleasuring apparatus and his favorite appendage, Jaxson meets Tyler Mason. The emerald-green-eyed nurse is a witness to the mortifying incident, leaving Jaxon both grateful and disappointed in their one-time meeting.

And then Tyler somehow shows up at Jaxon’s family dinner.

The very dinner at which Jaxson’s hidden virginity is revealed to everyone, including the captivating nurse.

Even though he secretly found the ER situation hilarious, Tyler is also able to look past it to see Jaxson’s genuine nature and is drawn to the charming and hapless comic book artist. He’s tempted to pursue the inexperienced Jaxson, but a recent and life-altering decision puts a damper on his wants and desires. However, the more time they spent together, the more willing he is to take the risk of juggling his new commitments and winning Jaxon’s affections.

A large, insane, and meddlesome family, two prying co-workers, and a sexy nurse are all trying to give Jaxson a crash course in Sex Ed. Will he pass?
Todd's rating:

One thing that I truly appreciated about this story was that it felt pretty unique.

However, the book title, "Sex Ed," did make me think that this would be a story about 25 y.o. nurse Tyler giving inexperienced, 23 y.o. Jaxson 'lessons' to get him up to speed sexually, which wasn't the case really at all.

Instead, this was more the story of a shy virgin meeting a guy that he liked and them getting to know one another, mostly *out* of bed.

The story was pretty hilarious, with Jaxson being one of the most accident prone characters I've read in quite some time.

I mean, really, forgetting to use lube with a Fleshlight? Come on! Who fucking does that? OUCH!


While the story was extremely funny, there were times when the humor really was just too much, feeling like it was trying too hard.

Now and again, the jokes felt like that one friend of yours who puts the gas to the floorboard -- no matter the road ahead. You do have to hit the brakes now and again, so the story occasionally ended up in the proverbial weeds by going way too over the top with the comedy.

Point in case, the banter between Jaxson's twin, Sophie, and his (non-biological) 'cousin', Ethan. Sophie often came across as a completely mean bitch, while Ethan was just desperate and horny. It was way too much as far as I was concerned.

So yeah, keeping the humor in check a bit more, knowing when enough was enough, would've added another star to my rating for this one.

BUT (again)...

I did still really enjoy this story a lot and was totally in love with both Jaxson and Tyler.

In spite of the title, the book wasn't slathered in sex scenes, which I found refreshing. When there was sex, it felt appropriate vs. gratuitous. Plus, pretty hot. Just sayin'...

Pros and cons all weighed in, I'd rate this one at around 3.75 stars, mostly because it kept me smiling start to finish.

** Side Note: This story and the “Tied Together” stories are all related to Heller's M/F "Moxie" series.
Moxie is Jaxson's mother and Ethan is the son of the MC's in 'Tied', who were Moxie's good friends in her books.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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Thanks for visiting our blog and I hope you enjoyed my review!

Buylinks are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with this book, author or bookseller listed.

ARC Review: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer


Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.

Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.

They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

Dani's rating:

Heels Over Head is the second book I've read by Elyse Springer, and I really enjoy her writing style. I always feel like I'm IN the story versus on the outside looking in. The dialogue has a certain rhythm, and each character is given a voice.

In addition to the MCs, Jeremy and Brandon, we meet:

- Jeremy's emotionally abusive redneck family (whom I loathed with a passion); they are so homophobic and dismissive, they’re almost caricatures.

- Andrej, Jeremy and eventually Brandon's diving coach, a man of few words who is much more perceptive than Jeremy realizes. Andrej is more of a father to Jeremy than his biological father; Jeremy just doesn’t see it.

- Val, another diver and Jeremy's best friend who becomes Brandon's friend as well. All the love for Val! She’s a true confidante to both men. Her struggle to please her demanding parents while maintaining sanity is an interesting side story in the book.

- Aaron, Brandon's best friend from Texas, who warns Brandon to stay away from men like Jeremy who are “skeletons” (gay men so deep in the closet, they shrivel up and become nothin’ but bones—no spirit, no heart).

Brandon is a supremely likable character. He hasn't had an easy time of it and is used to taking care of himself. He's independent to a fault, but he's also an amazing friend and listener. He's funny, easygoing, and compassionate. Brandon is a talented diver, but an unpolished one.

Jeremy is resentful of Brandon from the moment he sees Brandon's sculpted body covered with ink. Andrej came out of retirement to train Jeremy, and Jeremy doesn't want to share. But share he must, not just with Brandon but also with Val, whose parents (former Olympians themselves) push her relentlessly.

Blogtour: Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer

Please say hello to Elyse Springer and 

Heels Over Head 

Hello, and welcome to the blog tour for Heels Over Head, my new sports romance where Olympic diving hopefuls battle it out on the platform... while discovering friendship, family, and love along the way. I hope you enjoy reading Jeremy and Brandon's romance as much as I enjoyed writing it!

I'll be stopping on several blogs throughout the week, so I hope you'll follow along and join in the discussion. Plus, don't forget to leave a comment at the end of the post... you'll be entered to win an Amazon gift card!


Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.

Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.

They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

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About the author:

Blogtour: My Highland Cowboy by Alexa Milne

Buy Links: Pride (Early Download) 

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Length: 69,000 words


Duncan McLeish owns a ranch. Unlike most ranches, this one is in the Scottish Highlands. Having inherited a failing farm from his grandfather, he turns it into a successful business. He has friends and he loves his home, but he’s lonely, and not even infrequent trips to Glasgow and Edinburgh slake that thirst to find someone. Then Drew Sinclair walks into his life.

Drew Sinclair is tantalizingly close to getting his clothing brand noticed in the industry. He and his business partner, Joy, create individual dresses, while, on the side, Drew produces a line of men’s lingerie. He visits Scotland to design a bridal gown for his sister, Jenna, who is marrying Duncan’s best friend at Christmas.

Duncan and Drew have nothing except their Highland upbringing in common, but they say opposites attract, and the attraction is immediate. Is this simply a summer fling, or can two men who live such opposite lives miles away from each other find a way to love?

Author Bio

Monday, May 29, 2017

ARC Review: It Could Happen by Mia Kerick

It Could Happen
Three misfits, mismatched in every way—Henry Perkins, Brody Decker, and Danny Denisco—have been friends throughout high school. Now in their senior year, the boys realize their relationship is changing, that they’re falling in love. But they face opposition at every turn—from outside and from within themselves. Moving to the next level will take all the courage, understanding, and commitment they can muster. But it could happen.

Henry is a star athlete and the son of religious parents who have little concern for the future he wants. Brody is a quirky dreamer and adrenaline junkie, and Danny is an emo artist and the target of bullies. Despite their differences they’ve always had each other’s backs, and with each of them facing a new and unique set of challenges, that support is more important than ever. Is it worth risking the friendship they all depend on for the physical and romantic relationship they all desire?

In this unconventional new adult romance, three gay teens brave societal backlash—as well as the chance that they might lose their treasured friendship—to embark on a committed polyamorous relationship.

Todd's rating:

I've been trying for over a week to figure out a way to review "It Could Happen" without at least semi-directly comparing it to Mia's previous "Us Three" (One Voice series), but I simply can't. : (

I loved "Us Three" more than I can say, but this new story felt just too similar, like I'd already read it, with a few plot point changes. So a bit recycled, if you will.

In this new story, there is more diversity than in the first. One MC is African American and one is pansexual, even though he never seemed to find anyone overly interesting sexually. He really gave me more of an asexual vibe.

Another difference is that in "Us Three," the boys are strangers, thrown together for a class assignment, after which friendship, then romantic feelings began to happen organically, which I loved.

Here, the boys had already been best friends for years and Danny has horrible taste in (abusive) older men, so the other 2 friends just 'decided' that they should all become boyfriends to save him from himself.

Blogtour: Fraud Twice Felt by JT Hall

Please welcome JT Hall with 

Fraud Twice Felt 

The Oddities #2 


Three weeks after solving his old boyfriend’s murder, bounty hunter Derwin Bryant is trying to let go of the past and embrace his new life with Elliot Leed, a former rentboy and fellow Oddity. Elliot, meanwhile, is trying to adjust to working at Bob’s Bail Bonds and having a real relationship despite his strange power of Object Reading. Hanging over the couple is the fear that Roy Yoshiro, notorious gang lord, will make good on his threats to claim Elliot. If that happens, not even Derwin’s superhuman strength will be enough to protect the man he loves.

Their concerns are overshadowed when Derwin’s friend asks for help finding her missing son. It’s not long before the case takes Derwin and Elliot back to the crime-ridden underbelly of the city and straight into Yoshiro’s clutches. Two gangs are vying for power, and Derwin and Elliot get caught in the middle of their very public fight.

Derwin and Elliot must find a way to thwart both gangs’ plans and escape alive. This time, one misstep could spell disaster for all the inhabitants of Nis.

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World Building and Fast-paced Suspense Fiction

There’s a challenge when combining fast-paced action in a romantic suspense novel together with a paranormal or alternate Earth setting. How does one give the reader enough information about the world for the story to make sense without slowing down the action?

This was the challenge I faced when writing Fraud Twice Felt, the second book in the Oddities series. The series is set in an alternate Earth in the near future, in May 2026. In this version of reality, there was a scientist in World War II who opened up a portal between dimensions which released dangerous nature spirits into the world. These spirits are based on the Japanese legends of yokai and typically prey on man. In the Pacific Northwest where the story is set, people interchangeably refer to the spirits interchangeably as yokai or demons, as those of some faiths call them.

Why Japanese mythological creatures, you ask? That’s because I’ve always had a fascination with Japanese mythology, and I wanted a paranormal/urban fantasy where the monsters weren’t the same old vampires and werewolves types of creatures. There are so many great (and creepy) monsters in Japanese lore, and I thought it was fitting as the books would be set in a part of the U.S. with a lot of Asian presence. (The city of Nis is like Seattle, but not exactly.)

Now in a fantasy novel, readers expect some exposition and world set up at the start of a novel. But in a suspense or romantic suspense, it’s typically better to get right to the action. I’ve tried to sprinkle in bits of information about the world here and there to give readers a slowly evolving view of things. Because there’s an overall mystery in the series, this slow reveal also helps to keep readers from solving things too quickly.

Audio Blogtour: The Mystery Of Nevermore by C.S. Poe

Please say hello to C.S. Poe and 

The Mystery Of Nevermore 


It’s Christmas, and all antique dealer Sebastian Snow wants is for his business to make money and to save his floundering relationship with closeted CSU detective Neil Millett. When Snow’s Antique Emporium is broken into and a heart is found under the floorboards, Sebastian can’t let the mystery rest.

He soon finds himself caught up in murder investigations that echo the macabre stories of Edgar Allan Poe. To make matters worse, Sebastian’s sleuthing is causing his relationship with Neil to crumble, while at the same time he’s falling hard for the lead detective on the case, Calvin Winter. Sebastian and Calvin must work together to unravel the mystery behind the killings, despite the mounting danger and sexual tension, before Sebastian becomes the next victim.

In the end, Sebastian only wants to get out of this mess alive and live happily ever after with Calvin.

Purchase Links:

Hello, everyone! I’m C.S. Poe and I’m thrilled to be a guest at My Fiction Nook, where I’m kicking off the blog tour for the audio of The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter Book One.) Nevermore was narrated by the extremely talented Derrick McClain, and I was so happy and humbled to have him on the project. I am so not a narrator, and deeply respect the guys who bring books to life, so I decided that at each stop I would highlight something I thought Derrick did exceptionally well for some of the main characters.

(Be sure to stick around for the giveaway at the end too! I’ll be offering one of my short stories at each stop, with Love Has No Expiration up today. A sweet, May/December romance between a personal chef and vet tech during Valentine’s Day.)

My first discussion is Derrick’s take on our reluctant hero, antique dealer, and amateur sleuth, Sebastian Snow. The Snow & Winter books are told in first person by Sebastian, so Derrick had to juggle not only telling a story, but keeping a character’s voice the entire time. Sebastian is a smart, sort of crochety, sarcastic man, and Derrick approached him by combining the character’s dry wit with a hint of noir-ish vibes to give the book that murder mystery feel. I worried that Sebastian’s deadpan deliveries would have difficulty translating into audio, because when you read you can imagine with all of your senses, but strictly audio takes a particular skill to properly produce the same effect. But Derrick definitely nailed Sebastian’s humor.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

ARC Review: Michael, Reinvented by Diana Copland

From The Blurb:
Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul. 
Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again. 
Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever

Karen's rating:

This is book 2 in Diana Copland's series 'Delta Restorations', and while I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first book, it still held my attention and gave me a lot of good moments.

I would definitely recommend reading this series in order as both the characters and events from the previous book factor strongly into this one. We first met Michael and Gil in 'David Renewed' when David dragged Michael along as his muscle to help move some furniture he'd bought from Gil and while the attraction was instant it was a physical thing. Gil liked what he saw when he looked at Michael...yes, he thought that they could have more and wanted to explore the possibility of  where things could go for them but the problem is Michael doesn't do relationships. He's tried it and he got burned so he's not willing to take that chance again. Lucky for Michael, Gil's persistent and patient.

Whether he wants to or not Michael eventually finds his life and Gil's getting tangled together because of their work at DRR&D and because as hard as he may want to deny it he's drawn to Gil. Gil's not only sex on legs for him but he cares about Michael and is determined to keep him safe when events from the first book continue and once again this group finds themselves under attack. Plus Gil's not just easy on the eyes, he's one hella' nice guy and try as he might eventually Michael finds himself unable to ignore how much he genuinely likes him.

it's not until things escalate though that Michael realizes how much he wants his mountain of a man and that sometimes taking a chance is better than letting it go and living with regrets.

One of my favorite parts in this book was the solid mystery taking place allowing us to once again see this awesome group of men pull together to take care of each other and keep one another safe.

This type of series where we get a different couple for each story while also having glimpses at past couples and ones that are yet to be explored is total book crack for me, it's like spending time with old friends while meeting new ones. In 'Michael Reinvented' we started off with a bit of David and Jackson as Jackson pulled out all the stops to give David an over the top Valentines day. Which for me, ironically, turned out to be the weakest part of this story.  For me this just didn't work, while all the elements were there for it somehow I just didn't feel the romance of the occasion and I have to admit I think that in part this was just a personal preference issue that made it not work for me so pfft, it didn't work not biggie these things happen.

Release Blitz: Before You Break by K.C. Wells and Parker Williams

Length: 115,247 words

Cover Design: Reece Dante

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press


Six years ago Ellis walked into his first briefing as the newest member of London’s Specialist Firearms unit. He was partnered with Wayne and they became fast friends. When Wayne begins to notice changes—Ellis’s erratic temper, the effects of sleep deprivation—he knows he has to act before Ellis reaches his breaking point. 
He invites Ellis to the opening of the new BDSM club, Secrets, where Wayne has a membership. His purpose? He wants Ellis to glimpse the lifestyle before Wayne approaches him with a proposition. He wants to take Ellis in hand, to control his life because he wants his friend back, and he figures this is the only way to do it.

There are a few issues, however. Ellis is straight. Stubborn. And sexy. Wayne knows he has to put his own feelings aside to be what Ellis needs. What surprises the hell out of him is finding out what Ellis actually requires.

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