Dreamspinner Press, Rowan Speedwell

Rowan Speedwell’s “Love, Like Water” – In Which Love Is To Life What Water Is To Thirst

“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi



In Love, Like Water, Rowan Speedwell introduces us to Elian Kelly and Joshua Chastain. Joshua has been an FBI agent deep undercover within a drug cartel for three years. He was forced to kill or be killed more than once, and when he questioned the leader’s instructions, he was forced into heroin addiction. Rowan Speedwell beautifully captures his deep pain and guilt over everything he has had to do to stay alive and bring some really bad guys to justice.

After months in a rehab for his addiction, Joshua leaves the city for his Uncle Tucker’s horse ranch in New Mexico to make a fresh start. That is where he meets Elian Kelly. Eli is the ranch foreman. He has spent years rehabilitating abused, damaged, broken horses. In Joshua, he recognizes many of the same characteristics he has seen in the horses in his care. He sees a broken man. A man that he sets out to help heal the same way he helps his horses heal.

One of the keys to helping rehabilitate traumatized horses is to move slowly. Rowan Speedwell writes a deliciously slow, romantic and sexual tension between Eli and Joshua. The pace moves leisurely, like you would imagine the healing from deep trauma would move. The attraction between Eli and Joshua is undeniable, but it simmers cautiously beneath the surface until it can’t be denied any longer. I think the love that develops between Joshua and Eli is more realistic because it isn’t insta-love. The attraction is immediate, but their acting on the attraction and the deepening of feelings for each other is beautifully written in its realistic one step forward, two steps back style.

The entirety of Love, Like Water is beautiful. The scenery, the ranch, the way Speedwell describes the damage done to the horses and the parallels between the trauma inflicted upon them and the harm perpetrated against Joshua. The way Eli and Joshua find the one enchanting green space in the middle of all the desert. It is honest in that Joshua admits that he is never far from thinking about or wanting heroin. The magic dick doesn’t instantly cure his addiction. It takes time and professional help and constant work on Joshua’s part to overcome addiction. Speedwell doesn’t sugar coat that, she puts it right out there.

There were times when I wanted to wring both Eli’s and Joshua’s necks. There were moments of ugly crying. I laughed out loud more than I care to admit. For me, these are all the hallmarks of a great book. I want to feel something. I don’t want to just be reading about these men, I want to be able to feel their feelings and hurt with them. Speedwell brings the characters (and let’s not forget about Sarafina, Jesse, and Uncle Tucker!) to life boldly and honestly.

The bomb dropped in the epilogue, okay, TWO bombs, seem to ensure that there will be a sequel to Love, Like Water. I must say that I “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” hope there is.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can by Love, Like Water here:

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Anne Tenino, Riptide Publishing

Well, It’s That Time Again – Anne Tenino Blog Tour Time!! Woooot!!

This tour is in celebration of my July 22 release from Riptide, Sweet Young Thang. This book is the third (but not the last) in my Theta Alpha Gamma series. As is usual for the blog tour, I’ll be giving something away, but what’s unusual (for me) is that this year, what I’m giving away is a mystery. To me. In other words, I’m going to offer the winner their choice of a number of items, like signed copies of my print books, or possibly a crocheted to order phallus, or even a different handmade item—I have a few things in mind . . .

So, how do you win? Well, it’s simpler this year. There will be one question and one question only about Sweet Young Thang, but you have to find the question somewhere on this tour. I’ll be announcing just before the tour where each post will be, so make sure you check in if you want to win.

Okay, enough housekeeping, on with the tour!

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Eric Doing What He Does

I never planned on writing about firefighters or paramedics. In fact, I specifically planned on not writing about them. For me, the reality of emergency services and the fiction of it are different, and something I wasn’t interested in tackling. Yet somehow, I ended up making Eric, one of the main characters in Sweet Young Thang, a firefighter paramedic.

I was a wildland firefighter for seven seasons. Wildfires are sometimes different than forest fires, and a lot different than structural fires. I worked with and went on calls with many rural and municipal fire departments, was stationed in regular fire stations, and dated my share of emergency services workers. Then I married a paramedic (hereafter called the Husband).

At this point in my life, firefighters and paramedics aren’t that interesting to me in general. I’ve noticed I’m in the minority, there.

The Husband used to have some friends (which presumably he still has, but we can’t seem to find them) who worked for an insurance company. They had boring jobs, like entering data about new subscribers, or accident claim stuff. The Husband was thought by his friends to have an interesting job—possibly made doubly interesting by the fact that they dealt peripherally with emergency incidents, but in a very removed, data-entry-in-a-cubicle kind of way.

One night he went to a party at the house of a couple of these guys, and most of the people at the party also had data-entry jobs at the insurance company. A bunch of them (who were fairly well drunk) cornered the Husband in a dead-end hallway, and started pestering him. “What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever seen?”

The husband was fairly drunk himself, and after some persuasion he told them a story. He got to the end, “ . . . and then I pulled her shoe off, but her foot came with it!” and started laughing.

To him (and to me, I confess) that’s funny. Gallows humor. But for those people at the party, who stared at him in horror, it was a bit too much reality, and not in keeping with their romantic, heroic vision of the job.

I want to be clear, the people who do these jobs do incredibly heroic things, but most of the time, what they mostly seem to do is . . . wash rigs. Sure, in some areas paramedics run their asses off, and some fire companies are busier than others, but the majority of emergency calls are “B.S.” calls. Frequent flyers, hypochondriacs, fakers, old and/or very ill people CTD (circling the drain) and of course the DRTs (dead right there). Not to mention some legitimately ill people who need an ambulance, but for whom a paramedic can do very little other than give them oxygen and put in a saline drip. Firefighters also have B.S. calls—false alarms, fires that are extinguished by sprinkler systems before they show up, calls for manpower that result in them directing traffic around an accident. They only rarely get to go on a really good fire, and for them that’s what it is—a “good” fire.

It’s not that firefighters and paramedics don’t understand the enormity of the tragedy that’s happening, it’s that they have to deal with it too. It affects their lives and emotions as well as the victims. It’s stressful to know someone could live or die by your actions, or to walk into a burning building, regardless of whether you’re wearing SCBA’s and turnouts or not (SCBA = self-contained breathing apparatus). These things take their toll, especially when you know you’ll have to do it again, no matter how rarely those calls are toned out.

There’s another issue that stopped me from writing them for a while—different areas of the country have different protocols and laws, which affect how they treat patients or set up their incident command on a fire, or even the way their stations are manned. During the writing process, I worked with a medic from the east coast, and we had a constant back and forth on the differences. I expect to hear from a few readers about those differences as well.

So, you may be wondering why I went ahead and wrote a story about the firefighter paramedic named Eric. Well, it’s because that’s what he wanted to be. I’ve given up arguing with my characters—it never ends well for me. So I let Eric do his thing, and here he is doing just that in Sweet Young Thang.

Chapter 1

“I’m probably going to die, aren’t I?”

Eric Dixon fiddled with his patient’s IV for a few seconds, collecting his thoughts. Mr. Siskin was on a fair amount of pain medicine, but his speech seemed clear. Eric met his gaze. “Do you remember what I said the problem was?”

Siskin grimaced. “Uh . . . aneurism in my abdomen, right?”

“Well, that’s what I think, but we don’t carry the equipment on the ambulance to know for sure.” Not to mention he wasn’t a doctor. Eric watched the pulsing swelling just below Siskin’s navel and could only imagine that was one thing, though. “It’s called a thoracic aortic aneurism. It means your aorta—the main artery supplying blood to your body—is in danger of rupturing. If I’m right, and that happens, you’ll bleed to death.” So fast that even if he was already in surgery and opened up, they might not be able to save him.

“How much danger?”

Eric blew out a breath. “You hear the sirens?”

Mr. Siskin nodded tightly, closing his eyes a second. Sweat beaded on his forehead.

Eric leaned forward to adjust the drip, giving his patient more medication. “We don’t always go to the hospital code three, meaning with the lights and sirens on. Only when someone’s in imminent danger of death or permanent injury.”

Mr. Siskin nodded again. Maybe he believed in the power of prayer. Eric hoped it’d work, because there was nothing he could do except keep the patient as comfortable as possible. This sort of call frustrated the crap out of him. In this case, Lincoln’s job—getting them to the fucking hospital as fast as he safely could—was the more important one.

Lincoln’s job was extra hard today, though, because the Siskins had been vacationing at their cabin up on the McKenzie River, right at the border of their ambulance service district. Eric glanced at his watch. Best-case scenario; ten more minutes to the hospital.

Crap, he should have fucking called for a helicopter. But no, it wouldn’t have been any faster. He’d had Siskin nearly ready to go when the swelling in his abdomen had started. One of those cases where even though the patient had shown signs of a heart attack, the EKG hadn’t backed the diagnosis up. Eric’d had a bad feeling, and he and Lincoln had to take the guy in anyway, so they’d been working fast.

Siskin flinched, grimacing again. Even though his eyes were closed, when Eric reached for the IV again, he said, “No.”

Eric looked down at him. “How bad is the pain? Remember the pain scale? Give me a number between one and ten—”

“I don’t care.” Mr. Siskin waved him back. “I don’t want to die while I’m stoned.” He smiled for a split second. “More stoned, I mean.”

“Gotta tell you, Mr. Siskin, in my professional opinion, you need to believe you’re going to live.” He’d seen some people who should be dead refuse to die, and he’d seen a few who had no medical reason to die go ahead and do it.

“Call me Bryson.”

“I can do only do that if you promise me you’ll live.”

Siskin’s eyes opened again and he actually grinned. Not for more than a couple of seconds, but he met Eric’s gaze and shared a moment of humor.

Humor is a good thing. Eric smiled back, trying to make it genuine.

“Okay, it’s a deal.”

You can read the rest of the chapter (and a whole lot more excerpt) at http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/sweet-young-thang-theta-alpha-gamma-3 (go to the bottom of the page and click on the “excerpt” tab). And of course, you can also buy the book there, or at any of your favorite online booksellers.

* * *

Raised on a steady media diet of Monty Python, classical music and the visual arts, Anne Tenino rocked the mental health world when she was the first patient diagnosed with Compulsive Romantic Disorder. Since that day, Anne has taken on conquering the M/M world through therapeutic writing. Finding out who those guys having sex in her head are and what to do with them has been extremely liberating.

Anne’s husband finds it liberating as well, although in a somewhat different way. Her two daughters are mildly confused by Anne’s need to twist Ken dolls into odd positions. They were raised to be open-minded children, however, and other than occasionally stealing Ken1’s strap-on, they let Mom do her thing without interference.

Wondering what Anne does in her spare time? Mostly she lies on the couch, eats bonbons and shirks housework.

Check out what Anne’s up to now by visiting her site. http://annetenino.com

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Anne Tenino, Riptide Publishing

Tina’s Kinda Sweet On Anne Tenino’s “Sweet Young Thang (Theta Gamma Alpha, Book #3)”

“There’s things that happen in a person’s life that are so scorched in the memory and burned into the heart that there’s no forgetting them.”–John Boyne



Sweet Young Thang is the third and best (so far) in the Theta Alpha Gamma series. Collin Montes’s father died when he was young. His Uncle Monty stepped in and filled the role of father-figure. He over-filled the role! Monty took over much of Collin’s life, including his education, extracurricular activities, which fraternity he would join in college and his career plans. Collin has never known any different, so he doesn’t know he is being used to further his Uncle’s business interests.

When TAG (Theta Alpha Gamma) becomes the first fraternity on campus to pass a rule that says it will accept openly gay members, Collin has to do some convincing to get his Uncle to support it. As a very active member of the Alumni Association, which funds some of the current fraternity’s activities, Uncle Monty could make life very difficult for TAG in general and Collin in particular if he wants to. Collin must assure his Uncle that there will be no repercussions from the passing of the gay-friendly policy.

Would we meet Collin’s love interest if there weren’t repercussions? Not likely! Someone rigs the hot water heater in the frat’s basement to go off like a rocket. Then someone unsuccessfully plants a bomb in their basement. These events may or may not be linked to each other or to the new policy, but they bring firefighter-paramedic Eric Dixon to the scene when one of Collin’s fraternity brothers is injured in the water heater explosion. Instant chemistry. Although there is a fifteen year age difference between them, Eric and Collin can’t stop thinking about each other and trying to seek one another out.

Eric’s insistence that he be the one to keep Collin safe leads to them spending more time together and love quickly follows. Collin is still in the closet and as the situation develops, he begins to realize that he will have to come out to everyone involved. He also begins to see, with Eric’s help, exactly how manipulative Uncle Monty has been his entire life.

Anne Tenino certainly was creative and liberal in her use of pet names. Sweetie, sweetness, sweet young thang, cuddle bear. Sometimes it was a little too much, sometimes just right. Best new word ever: “bearadise”.

The best parts of the book for me weren’t between Eric and Collin, but when the whole fraternity was involved. It was hilarious. All the references Ms. Tenino put in to the “sensitivity training” that the guys had evidently had to better enable them to welcome their gay brothers into the fold smoothly. The interaction was realistic for a group of college age young men whose biggest concern for a portion of the book was where the funding for their kegerator was going to come from. I was laughing out loud. And their continual viewing of Project Runway was priceless. “What would Tim Gunn do?” became a mantra.

The relationship between Eric and Collin didn’t resonate with me as much as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them and they were believable and very hot together, I just didn’t click with them emotionally. But Ms. Tenino more than made up for it by including such a colorful and varied cast of supporting characters, from Uncle Monty to Tank (and his baby brother Jock) and Danny.

I can’t wait to see what Anne Tenino gives us next with the Theta Alpha Gamma boys. I also can’t wait to see what new phrase will be stuck in my head after the next book!

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Sweet Young Thang here:

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Anne Tenino, Carole Cummings, Storm Moon Press

We’ve Got A Couple Of Fun Things Coming Up This Week, But Boy Oh Boy, Just Wait Until August!

As you may or may not have heard, Jay of Joyfully Jay Reviews and I have cooked up something special for readers this year in our Joyful Approach Countdown To GRL 2013. When we first began discussing the project and whether it was something we could pull off successfully, we never imagined that we’d get the sort of response that came pouring in from participating authors. In less than eight hours, we filled our original forty-two time-slots, quickly bumped it up to FIFTY, and still have authors on our waiting list over and above that fify cap, authors whom we both dearly hope to be able to accommodate as we fill our calendars for the seven weeks between August 19th and October 6th.

Be on the lookout for announcements in the coming weeks, including a list of participating authors and the dates they’ll be scheduled to appear both here and at Joyfully Jay!

But on to what’s on tap for this coming week: on top of some really great reviews, we’ve got Anne Tenino here tomorrow to talk about her newest release, Sweet Young Thang, and she’s also bringing along a goodie or two.

On Thursday, we’ll have a guest post from Storm Moon Press, as they continue their Big Damn Heroine tour.

Then, on Friday, Carole Cummings will be our guest, and she’ll be offering one lucky reader the chance to win her latest novel The Queen’s Librarian.

So be sure to stay tuned, and have a great week!

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Harmony Ink Press, Sherrie Henry

“The Last of the Summer Tomatoes” Is A Sweet And Delicious Read

“If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends and nature; and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature.” — John Burroughs



I was very pleasantly surprised by this little gem of a book. Well, it’s not little at 246 pages, but it is sure a gem. The title, The Last of the Summer Tomatoes really grabbed my eye and I hadn’t heard of Sherrie Henry before. I’ll make sure to look for her next book!

The meaning of the title isn’t revealed until very close to the end of the book. I’ll admit I was trying to figure it out for a while until Ms. Henry finally revealed it. Then I cried. It wasn’t the first time I had cried while reading The Last of the Summer Tomatoes, but it was definitely the ugliest cry of the book.

In The Last of the Summer Tomatoes, Sherrie Henry introduces us to two incredibly likeable young men. Kyle Jackowski is 17 years old and has some minor offenses on his criminal record. This particular time, he is actually not guilty of the vandalism he was charged with. He took the punishment for a friend.

Instead of going to juvie, Kyle winds up in a program for non-violent youthful offenders aimed at helping the state’s struggling farming industry. He is placed at “Walt’s Dairy” which is owned by Walt and Glenda Johnson. The plan is for him to work for them for the summer to earn enough money to pay for the damages to the store that was vandalized, while also helping a small family farm. When he turns 18, his record will be sealed. I don’t know if a program like this actually exists, but I think it’s a great idea.

The Johnson’s son Sam is away at college and is expected to return home a couple of days after Kyle arrives at the farm. Sam is 19 and openly gay. Kyle has been horribly abused and mistreated by his step-father for being gay. Kyle doesn’t know Sam is gay, but as soon as they see each other, the attraction to one another ignites.

Ms. Henry writes a moving story during which Sam’s kindness and that of his loving parents slowly show Kyle that he is worthy of love. Kyle realizes that he feels like the Johnson farm is “home” and that he can never go to his mother’s and step-father’s home again. Kyle learns how a real family interacts. He sees that touches can mean love and comfort, not hate and pain.

As Kyle comes to accept his worthiness, he realizes he has fallen in love with Sam. They begin dating, but the whole time, Kyle has planned to go to art school in the fall as scheduled. Sam will return to his college and their “summer fling” will end. Kyle’s sadness and the ease with which he accepts this as what he feels must be their destiny is heart-breaking. Ms. Henry writes his feelings so authentically that they became my feelings. I cried for him and for Sam, and for Walt and Glenda Johnson, who loved Kyle as much as they did their own son.

When Kyle & Sam leave the farm in the fall, Kyle’s carefully thought out plan falls to pieces. He is still in love with Sam. He makes a friend or two, even dates a little, but is unable to get over Sam. Mrs. Johnson sends Kyle care packages from the farm. I will let you read the book to find out the meaning of The Last of the Summer Tomatoes because you need to feel it for yourself.

When Sam shows up at Kyle’s dorm-room door on New Year’s Eve, Kyle realizes that Sam has had just as much trouble forgetting his love for Kyle. They ring in the new year together…

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy The Last of the Summer Tomatoes here:

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JB McDonald, Torquere Press

A Little BDSM Is At The Heart Of JB McDonald’s “A Little Weird”

“Right on the edge of fear was where trust could grow.” ― Cherise Sinclair



This story centers around Kel. Ty and London are a heterosexual couple he meets and befriends while working in a pub they both frequent. Kel is ex military who is dealing with PTSD and is somewhat of a loner. Ty and London both trust and like Kel and are very interested in him being their sub.

This is my first time reading this author. The blurb sounded very interesting to me. Having read BDSM stories before, I knew I wouldn’t be uncomfortable reading it. I was also very interested in seeing how the author would write about an already established couple bringing in a third person as their lover who had no previous knowledge of the BDSM lifestyle.

I loved Ty and London as a couple. I loved how we got both of their POV’s in this story even though they weren’t the main characters. We really get to know them. They both knew what they wanted out of their relationship with each other and they were on the same page as to what they wanted in a sub. I felt they were a perfect fit for Kel.

I’m really glad the author showed Kel researching what it meant to be a sub. He had no clue what was expected of him and didn’t really think he could give control over to someone else. I loved how we saw the progress he made in being a sub.

The scenes when all three of them were together sexually were very well done. It was all very well balanced and no one was left out feeling like the third wheel. When they were together they were together as one. Ty was very patient with Kel and cared enough to make sure Kel felt comfortable and was at ease with what they were doing. Nothing felt forced and whatever issues Kel had with anything were dealt with realistically.

The only issue I had with this story was that we didn’t get a chance to really know what Kel’s military background was. I think if I had some backstory I could’ve had a better understanding as to why Kel was having nightmares and seemed to always want to run when things got to difficult for him to handle.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and will definitely be reading more from this author in the future.

I feel this is a great book for readers who have never read BDSM. It’s very light and gives a good understanding and intro to the lifestyle.

Reviewed by: Lynn

You can buy A Little Weird here:

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Dreamspinner Press, EM Lynley

Napa Valley Is The Scene Of “An Intoxicating Crush”

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” – G.K. Chesterton


I have to start out by saying that I loved the first two books in the Delectable series, Brand New Flavor and Lighting the Way Home. I found it hard to dive into this one like I did the others. I didn’t get truly invested in Austin and Simon like I normally would. The physical chemistry between them was OFF THE CHARTS! I just didn’t get a true emotional connection between them until the last quarter of the book.

Simon Ford is a self made man who is working hard to climb out of the lower middle class upbringing of his youth. While being born and raised in Napa Valley, Simon watched the “new money” millionaires come into the area and try to change the entire landscape, in his opinion, for the worse. His mother raised him alone, financed by cleaning house and providing other “services” for these men.

Austin Kelvin inherited Kelvin Cellars from his father. Austin has a mind for wine making, but a not so great mind for business. The winery is in trouble financially, so Austin plans a tasting and dinner at the winery to drum up some business and hopefully put the winery back on track.

This is where Austin and Simon cross paths. Simon’s boss sends him in to evaluate the vineyard for a possible buyout, and Simon sees this as his ticket for advancement in the company and his opportunity to finally “make it”. All of this goes down the tubes as soon as he meets Austin. There is a spark between the two men immediately when they meet. How will Simon be able to do his job and pursue anything with Austin?

Through some twists and turns these two men navigate the cut throat market of Napa Valley and eventually do come out on the other side. With the help of Austin’s father, the two men are able to make things work but not before having to deal with many complications.

Finally, I will say this: This book is well written and the plot twists were worked out with skill. For some reason I just couldn’t love this book. I think a lot of things were left unresolved between Simon and his mother and Austin and his brother. This was a good read, but by far not the best in the series.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy An Intoxicating Crush here:

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Ramblings

The Joyful Approach – Countdown To GayRomLit 2013

Hi, everyone!

The lovely Jay, she of the Joyfully Jay fame, and I are so excited to announce a joint celebration we’ve been cooking up to celebrate our way toward this year’s GayRomLit Retreat: The Joyful Approach: Countdown to GRL 2013!

Joyful approach badgeFrom August 19th – October 6th, we will be spotlighting GRL authors, both here and at Joyfully Jay M/M Romance Reviews and More. Depending upon how many authors decide to participate, we will host up to three guest posts each week per blog. It should be lots of fun and a great way to learn about and meet some of the GRL participating authors, and maybe get to know some new folks as well. So for my readers, keeps your eyes open in August for that to kick off, and be sure to stop by Joyfully Jay and say Howdy-doo (or some such nonsense) to the fabulous Jay and her gang of amazing reviewers.

If you are an author interested in participating, here are all the details you need to know:

For this event, we will be offering special guest spots to GRL registered authors on our two blogs. These guest spots can be used for authors to introduce themselves to our readers in a variety of ways; they do not have to be focused on a particular book or a new release.

We will be heavily cross-promoting each spotlight feature throughout the event, so every author, regardless of blog placement, will get exposure to readers at both sites. However, because of the complexity of coordinating and scheduling so many posts, we are unable to take requests for specific dates. Never fear, though: we will work together to formulate a schedule and alert each author well in advance of your allotted time slot.

If you are interested in participating, we ask that you add your name to the Countdown Spreadsheet. This is a first come, first served opportunity, so don’t delay if you’re at all interested in joining in the fun.

Once you’ve joined the Countdown, all promotional materials (blog posts, announcements, images, etc.) should be submitted to us at lrhoran@yahoo.com no later than Monday, August 12th.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at lrhoran@gmail.com or Jay at joyfullyjay@gmail.com.

Thanks so much for your time. We hope to see you soon!

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Dreamspinner Press, Lavinia Lewis

Like A Fine Wine, Lavinia Lewis’ “Improves With Age” Is A Very Good Vintage

“Wisdom comes with winters.” ― Oscar Wilde



I have always liked reading Lavinia Lewis’ books in the past, so when I saw this title I scooped it up. This is a short but very sweet story of two men in the prime of their lives.

First we meet 48 yr. old Reece Watkins. Reece grew up in small town Montana, which was not an easy thing to do. When he graduated he hightailed it out of Montana and moved to Washington. In Washington he found a career as an accountant, and the love of his life. After 20 years of bliss his partner, Mike, dies of a heart attack. Reece realizes he is traveling the same road as Mike, working too hard and not relaxing, so he makes a change and moves home to Montana. He buys an old farmhouse and soon finds out that means lots of repairs. When Reece hires a contractor to repair his roof he has no idea that Nick, said contractor, will change his life.

Nick Kenison was the all American boy next door in high school. He dated the cheerleader and later married her and stayed put in Montana to raise his two kids. Nick also started a successful contracting business and realized he is gay. After his divorce, Nick no longer lives in any kind of closet. When he shows up to do roof repairs for Reece, the sparks immediately start to fly.

This story is so heartwarming I found myself grinning like crazy while reading it. Reece has some issues to overcome on his way to a happily ever after with Nick. I will say I love the premise of this book. It is never too late to find your happiness and life is not over until they put you in the ground. Nick and Reece finally work it all out once they start talking about their issues, and it was great to witness them growing together.

Like I said, a short but sweet book and highly recommended. The only negative I have about this story is that it ended way too early. I could definitely read more about these two men.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Improves With Age here:

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MLR Press, Taylor V. Donovan

Taylor V. Donovan Is Here Today To Talk About “Disasterology 101”, And She’s Offering A Giveaway!




We’re so pleased to have Taylor here visiting with us today. She has a new book just released with MLR Press called Disasterology 101, and she’s not only here today to talk a little bit about the book but also to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a FREE copy! (Contest details follow the excerpt below)

And now, please welcome Taylor!

TVD: Thanks for having me. :)

Q. – When did you begin writing creatively? Was there any one person who encouraged and inspired you to publish your work?

TVD: I’m a bit of an accidental writer. I hadn’t been dreaming up characters or creating stories in my head before writing Six Degrees of Lust. In fact, I started writing because of a very good friend of mine. She has been writing since forever and her dream was to get published. But she was having a bit of a hard time finishing her stories, so she asked me to collaborate with her. Anyone who knows me would tell you how…obsessive…I am about finishing what I start, and the idea was for me to attempt to write something with her, and keep her focused through completion of the book. So I got to work on it. The collaboration didn’t last long, though. As it turned out we had different styles, and that’s when I realized I actually have a style and a rather defined voice. I submitted Six Degrees of Lust five months later.

Q. – What was your first published book?

TVD: Six Degrees of Lust was contracted first, but while it was in edits I wrote and published Heatstroke, a free novella for the MM Romance Group’s Hot Summer Days event on Goodreads.

Q. – Have you always written M/M romance? What attracted you to the genre?

TVD: Always. I didn’t choose to write gay romance, though. I’m convinced it’s a calling. :-)

Q. – Let’s talk a little bit about your newest book, Disasterology 101. You delve deeply into the subject of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. How much research did you do to make sure you got Cedric’s affliction just right?

TVD: The research process was intense and extensive. I read medical textbooks and testimonies; talked to people I know who are affected by either germaphobia or some form of ODC. I studied treatments, therapies and medication until I felt confident I had a sound basic knowledge of what would be Cedric’s condition. Then I sat down to write. This is a serious subject, and it was my responsibility to get it right.

Q. – Was he a difficult character to write?

TVD: Not at all. Once I knew how severe his condition was, he kind of guided me ’til the end. :)

Q. – Bruce and I both agree that the sense of anxiety while reading this book was pretty tangible, sometimes almost overwhelming! Did you ever worry at any point that Cedric’s own anxiety wouldn’t translate well on the page?

TVD: Every single day.

Q. – Did you have anxiety while writing the book?

TVD: Absolutely. Like I mentioned before, I took on a serious issue that could be a trigger to many readers. It was important I got it right, both for Cedric and for every OCD patient out there that might read Disasterology 101.

Q. – Were you ever tempted at any point to come up with a “magic fix” for Cedric’s OCD?

TVD: No. That’s not realistic. It isn’t the way it works for OCD patients. They can take medication, go to counseling and therapy and get better as a result, but there’s no cure for them in real life. They face the challenge to cope and find ways to live their lives to the best of their capability, and I’m anal when it comes to details and accuracy. Cedric was never meant to be “fixed”.

Q. – This might seem like a silly question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Was it a conscious choice to make Cedric British, or did he just show up in your imagination that way?

TVD: I knew from the very beginning there was a dichotomy between who Cedric seemed to be and the man he really was; between his physical appearance and his behavior. In my imagination he looked like a thug, but sounded posh. And I actually thought the word “posh”. He was British from the get go. :)

Q. – I don’t want to dismiss Kevin and the importance of his role in Cedric’s life, so let me ask you this: which character came to you first, and how did you decide that Kevin—this recently divorced, not even out of the closet yet, inexperienced in his sexuality dad to three kids—would be a perfect fit for Cedric?

TVD: Cedric came to me first. As complicated as he was, he needed a man who was understanding, patient and rock solid. A man who could deal with the unexpected and be able to roll with the punches. Life isn’t perfect though, so of course he’d come with his own set of baggage, and I knew Kevin’s experience with kids and the chaotic environment they often create would come in handy when it came to dealing with Cedric. :)

Q. – What made you decide to write a ten year age difference between these two men?

TVD: It wasn’t a conscious decision. Once I knew he was a father of three it was only natural he’d be significantly older. He needed time to make those babies, build a life and ultimately get divorced before meeting his guy.

Q. – Do you have news of any works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?

TVD: Currently I’m editing Six Degrees of Separation, the second installment in my “By Degrees” serial, and also working on a story about gay Puerto Rican guys dealing with taboos and machismo that’s set in Puerto Rico. Homosexuality isn’t widely accepted in my country, and that’s something I want to explore and write about.

Q. – Where can readers find you on the internet?

TVD: I’m all over the place.
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
And you can also visit My Website, but I warn you, I don’t update it as often as I should! LOL

Q. – Would you be willing to share an excerpt of Disasterology 101 with us?

TVD: Of course. This excerpt takes place during a conversation between Cedric and Kevin where they discuss the possibility of getting together. Enjoy!

Disasterology 101: Excerpt

Kevin had always had a thing for architecture. He was a big fan of the structures Greenbriar built all over the world, and it had just dawned on him that eventually, some of them would be Cedric’s designs. Had circumstances been different Kevin would’ve loved to talk to him about his job.

Instead he was about to turn him down.

Kevin decided to do it during the second class break. He didn’t think it was appropriate for him to approach Cedric while the class was technically still in progress, but he couldn’t deal anymore with the heated—albeit brief—looks Cedric kept casting his way. And he especially didn’t want to wait until everybody had left. He didn’t trust himself. If they were alone and that pretty young thing decided to kiss him again, Kevin might not be able to resist.

Cedric left the room during the first break, but for the second he told the students he’d see them in fifteen minutes and stood in front of the board. He was still facing it when Kevin approached him. It was the weirdest thing. He wasn’t writing. He wasn’t even moving. He just stood there and—

“Are you counting?”

“…twenty-four…twenty-five…twenty-six….”

He surely was. That was the second time Kevin had seen him do that. And Cedric didn’t stop to answer. He just held up his left hand, a clear sign he didn’t want to be interrupted, and continued counting until he reached thirty. Then he turned around, and damned if he didn’t look as if he’d just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“You should be out with the rest of the class,” Cedric muttered, not quite making eye contact with Kevin. “I didn’t mean for anyone to witness that.” He didn’t explain what “that” was, and Kevin didn’t ask.

“We need to talk.”

“We’ll talk after class.”

Cedric tried to walk by him. Kevin didn’t let him pass. “We’ll talk now.”

“You’re too close.”

“Excuse me?”

“I can’t have you breathing on me like that. Not when I haven’t prepared for it.”

“Does this have anything to do with your issue with germs?”

“How did you know I have an issue?”

“You’re kidding me, right?” Kevin couldn’t hold his sardonic chuckle back. “I don’t get you. I really don’t. You can’t handle me breathing near you, but you can—” He glanced at the door to make sure they were still alone. “You’ve kissed me and stuck your tongue in my mouth, and for some reason that I can’t even understand you want to have sex with m—”

“You want to have sex with me too.”

“That’s not the point,” Kevin growled. “How the hell are we going to manage sex if you can’t handle my germs?” he finished in a very low voice. “Anal sex is a messy thing, you know?”

“It can be a little complicated but there are ways around it,” Cedric said, glancing at Kevin from under those long, thick lashes of his. Kevin’s throat was suddenly so dry he had to gulp several times. “I know my limits, and it isn’t the same when I’m the one making the moves.”

“How is it different?”

“This is not the time or the place to discuss this.”

“It’s going to have to do.”

Cedric shook his head and moved toward the door. “Come with me.”

Kevin followed him to the floor’s emergency exit and up the stairs, all the way to the roof. Good. They had a little privacy. He felt much better knowing there wouldn’t be any accidental witnesses.

The moment the roof door closed behind him Kevin repeated his question. “So how is it different?”

“I have control.”

“That doesn’t explain how it’s different.”

He shouldn’t be asking this. Considering he had no intentions of being with Cedric, it was information Kevin didn’t need. But he couldn’t resist.

“You’d have to cooperate.”

“In order to cooperate I’d have to understand what the he—”

“There’s a time limit for things,” Cedric mumbled.

“What does that mean?”

Cedric shoved his hands inside his pockets and paced in front of Kevin. “And there are things I’ve never tried to do… that I’m afraid I’ll never be able to do.”

“What things?” Kevin couldn’t remember any other time when he’d felt as exasperated as he did at that moment. “Come on, Cedric. How’s a man supposed to score with you if he doesn’t know the rules?”

Cedric didn’t answer. He didn’t move for the longest time, and didn’t seem to be breathing either. “Thank you for coming back to class, by the way,” Cedric finally said, his words followed by a tug of his lip ring. His had to be the pinkest, most tempting tongue in existence. “But you should know I would’ve called had you not been here tonight.”

Kevin sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Please don’t do that.”

“Don’t call you?”

Kevin nodded. He’d never be able to resist Cedric if the guy decided to actively pursue him. “This has to stop.”

“There won’t be any disciplinary actions against us, Kevin. I checked. Neither Greenbriar nor MCC will care if they find out we’re having sex. You don’t need to worry about that.”

“I’m…not… I’m not having—” Kevin shut his mouth, counted to five and started again. “I’m not having sex with you.”

“You just said you are.”

“What?” Kevin quickly reviewed their conversation in his mind, but came up with nothing. “When did I say that?”

“You asked about the rules,” Cedric clarified. “You wanted to know what it takes to score with me.”

“Okay….” Kevin took a deep breath and released it quickly. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I’m not taking no for an answer.”

“I can’t have sex with you.”

“You took a shower.”

“That doesn’t mean I was planning on having sex.”

Cedric glared at him. “You shouldn’t have taken a shower.”

“Had I known you would jump to the wrong conclus—Jesus!” Kevin took several steps back when Cedric leaned forward and sniffed his neck. “What are you doing?”

“You took a shower and now I can’t smell your sweat. Not that I can deal with it all the time, but once in a while is fine. As long as you run and take a shower right away. I like to see you sweaty and a bit dirty. Makes you look even sexier. ”

Kevin stared at him. Opened his mouth and then closed it again when he couldn’t figure out what to say. He rubbed his face with his hands and paced a little before coming to a halt in front of Cedric.

“Are you saying I stunk before?” He finally asked through gritted teeth.

Cedric slipped his tongue through his lip ring and tugged at it. Kevin’s misbehaved dick stirred inside his jeans. “You look upset.”

“No shit.”

“You didn’t smell at the sex shop, but the first day of class you did. Only a little, though. I wouldn’t even say you stunk, but you did smell. I could smell you. Drove me crazy, I have to say. I wanted you so much I almost threw you over my desk. I don’t remember being harder in my life. See, I have a very sensitive olfactory sense. Anything out of order and I break out in a sweat. Sometimes I even throw up. But I smelled you and I got hard and that’s why you can’t say you won’t have sex with me.”

Kevin was speechless. Amazed by the amount of information coming at him and completely confused by it. He was also charmed out of his wits by Cedric’s quirky behavior and his courage to continue to talk even though he looked as if he wanted the floor to open up and swallow him.

“So what are you saying?” Kevin asked after a few seconds of hard thinking. “That we have to have sex because you could smell me?”

“Because you didn’t make me gag right away.” Cedric moved so fast he was on top of Kevin before he could even register they guy had moved. When Cedric snatched Kevin’s hand and pressed it against himself, all thoughts escaped Kevin’s mind. “And because even when you’re being bloody contrary, I can see you want me and you still manage to get me hard.”

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This Contest Is Now Closed

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MLR Press, Taylor V. Donovan

Bruce And I Offer Up A Double-Dose of “Disasterology 101”

Sometimes a book is just too good to pass up, so when that happened with Taylor V. Donovan’s newest release, Bruce and I decided to both take a shot at it to see if we’d see the book differently, coming at it from different points of view.

The saying goes, “No two persons ever read the same book.” Well, in this case, I’d have to say we might have disproved that theory just a bit.

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“If it’s the end of the world, you and me should spend the rest of it in love. Can we create something beautiful and destroy it?” – Pierce the Veil “Disasterology”


So first the necessary part of the review, Cedric suffers from severe OCD and has moved from England to Manhattan hoping that the change in scenery and perhaps change in therapist will help him to learn to live a more normal life. Kevin is a recently divorced father of three who is just discovering and coming to grips with his homosexuality. Cedric and Kevin have a fleeting encounter in a sex shop. They are drawn to one another. A serendipitous meeting throws them together and they start seeing one another. Cedric and Kevin struggle to overcome their fears and they fall in love.

Yes, I know that tells you only the basic plot about this book and it sounds like the same old formula- boy meets boy, boy looks for boy, boy finds boy, boy dates boy, boy wonders if boy likes other boy, boy realizes he is in love with other boy, and they live happily every after. Well let me tell you this wonderful book is ANYTHING but basic or mundane. This book is wonderful and I am in love with the endearing Cedric and affable Kevin!!!!

Cedric has to be one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in a very long time. In fact, just thinking about him makes me want to squeal like a 12 year old girl at a One Direction concert. He is handsome, quirky, and severely disabled. Yet, Cedric struggles to make himself better to be with the man that he loves. The palpable anxiety that Donavan is able to manufacture in this novel surrounding Cedric’s OCD is like nothing I’ve ever encountered before. The anxiety practically leaps from the page and as a reader I found myself struggling with Cedric to make himself better so he could live a more normal life in order to be with Kevin. Kevin on the other hand is masculine, affable, loving and understanding, and only wants to love Cedric and help him to overcome his disabling disease. I so hope that there is a follow up to this wonderful novel, because as the book ended I found myself wanting more. Donavan certainly broke the mold of the same old storyline and tells a fresh, magnificent story about disability and how love does conquer all! Great job!!!

Reviewed by: Bruce

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Full disclosure: I am a complete sucker for books with a main character burdened by an affliction. I don’t even care what that affliction is: blindness, deafness, a physical or psychological disability, it matters not. I just wrap myself up ever so tightly in my super delusional savior complex cloak and go to work wishing I could make that person all better before the end of the book.

Taylor V. Donovan has tackled Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Disasterology 101, and has done so in a spectacular fashion, not painting Cedric Haughton-Disley into a mild corner of the disease. No, Cedric’s disorder is a screaming, full-blown Jackson Pollock chaos splattered portrait of OCD, and I don’t mind admitting there were times that Cedric’s crawl-out-of-his-skin-and-into-his-own-head detachment gave me my very own case of anxiety. It was a pitch perfect depiction by the author that elicited this not so simple reaction in me, and I don’t think it could have been any less subtle but any more realistic if it’d tried.

Disasterology has been defined as the act of creating something just to destroy it. Disasterology is the study of adversity. It is the story of Kevin Morrison, a divorced father of three children who is only just beginning to explore his sexuality, something he’d denied himself throughout the fifteen years of his marriage and before. Kevin’s life is the picture of perfect chaos and he is Cedric’s foil in every way, the very definition of disorder that’s introduced to a man whose psyche demands perfect order. Kevin and Cedric are a sharp contradiction, and the way they met should have been a full-stop disaster, but Cedric is nothing if not obsessively focused and the two men do eventually try to create something, only for Cedric’s disease to undermine it at nearly every turn.

There is nothing at all normal about the way Cedric and Kevin’s relationship evolves through all the challenges Cedric’s way of coping presents, and the demands he must make upon Kevin simply to maintain and function, or not function as the case may be. But normalcy is fluid, especially when one is willing to adapt to a new definition of the word.

Disasterology 101 is an opposites attract story. It’s a story of patience and perseverance and sometimes, a study in frustration. This isn’t your typical guys meeting and falling in love romance. This is a relationship constructed of hoops to be jumped through and obstacles to be overcome and concessions to be made. And it must also be about unconditional love because that’s the only kind that could possibly face down Cedric’s dysfunction.

One of the questions I asked myself when I finished this book was if Taylor V. Donovan’s writing was powerful enough to convey Cedric’s suffering. The answer is a flat-out, “you better believe it is.” This was a couldn’t-put-it-down read for me. The anxiety doesn’t let up for a moment, which is one of the things I loved about it so much, and was really just a big bonus when added to the fact that I also loved the characters in each of their roles, even when there were times I didn’t like them so much.

The unlikely romance sharing space alongside Kevin’s coming-out and Cedric’s disease added layer upon layer to this novel. It left me wondering what has happened to these two men after The End, because the author doesn’t pull out any unrealistic fixes or miracle drugs to cure Cedric. His OCD is always going to be a third party in this relationship, so I guess all we can do is count to thirty and hope for the best.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Disasterology 101 here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Tempeste O'Reilly, Tempeste O'Riley

Tempeste O’Riley’s Debut Novel “Designs of Desire” Is An All Around Success

Sometimes you have to start over to have a happy ending. – Sonya Parker



It is hard to believe this is Tempeste O’Riley’s first published book. The characters of Seth and James were very well rounded and believable. James has lived through so much hell in his life that I am amazed he was still standing. Seth has had much success in his life but has not found “the one” until he meets James. This is not what I would call a BDSM book, but there is a thread throughout the story. Seth is a very caring and attentive man both in and out of the bedroom. Once he learns of James’s past and the emotional and physical scars the man carries he does everything he can to make his life easier.

James is not going to be an easy sell on the whole “happily ever after” however. He doesn’t believe that Seth could want him for more than a few hot and heavy nights between the sheets. At one point James is scared when he learns of some of Seth’s kinks and he runs. The two men decide to take things slower and they date and get to know one another. There were some very sweet moments between the two and the trust Seth built with James was a wonderful thing to witness.

Of course, the minute it all starts to level out, tragedy strikes. James learns about some secrets that Seth has been keeping. He decides in the long run that forgiving Seth would gain him something he has only dreamed of before, so the two men move on and start to form a life together. That life is threatened by death threats and some scary vandalism to their home. The two men fight it together and it seems, if nothing else, to bring the men closer than ever before.

This story is a wonderful journey to take with Seth and James. They have a wonderful supporting cast in Chase, the snarky best friend, Rhys, the beefy biker bodyguard, and Seth’s parents, who would be the dream come true in-laws for just about anyone. On the flipside of that, we have James’s two ex-boyfriends that were not only abusive but just basic scum of the earth. Ya know the kind you wouldn’t spit on if they were on fire? Yeah, that’s them. Then the saddest part of the entire book is meeting James’s mother and brother. These “family” members just made my skin crawl, and I couldn’t have been happier when James got his closure, it was a VERY touching scene.

I would be more than happy to read more books by this author, and I would love to see Chase get his knight in shining armor also. No matter all the turmoil James is put through, he does get his HEA and more than he ever bargained for. If anyone deserved it, James did.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Designs of Desire here:

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All Romance Ebooks, Josephine Myles, Self-Published

A Book By Any Other Name Would Be Just As “Blooming Marvelous”

The great thing about a short story is that it doesn’t have to trawl through someone’s whole life; it can come in glancingly from the side. – Emma Donoghue



Sometimes the title of a book says it all. Case in point, Josephine Myles’ Blooming Marvelous and Collected Stories, an omnibus of nine short stories all penned by none other than Jo herself.

Each of these stories has been published in other anthologies or posted as free reads on Josephine’s website, so some, or all of them, may be familiar to you. But even though I’d already read a couple of them, I have to say they were well worth revisiting along with experiencing the new ones for the first time.

The anthology’s namesake, Blooming Marvelous, is a May/December story starring Ky, a tagger who’s performing community service for sharing his particular brand of art on public property. James is the new man on duty—And I won’t tell you the reason, because it’s such a good one!—who couldn’t really be more different from Ky if he tried, which is what makes this such a great opposites attract story, not to mention Ky himself, who makes the reading if this sexy morsel more than deserving of the lead-off spot in the collection.

Next up is Demon du Jour, a paranormal romp in which the spectacularly well endowed Gavin practices a little sex magic and ends up getting something he didn’t bargain for—namely a male succubus—when he was actually aiming for a demon with particularly different bits and pieces. Gavin comes to discover—pun fully intended—that sometimes accidentally ordering off the menu isn’t such a bad thing, when Xander proves that variety is indeed the spice of life.

I fully admit that I was excited to read River Rat, being a particular fan of both Barging In and Boats in the Night. Revisiting the river life with Ryan, the art student, who’s completely caught up in Kev, the boater, was a study in frustration at times for Ryan, believing that he was never going to get his shot with the gypsy man of his dreams.

It all comes together too right in the end, of course, in a very steamy way, and with the promise of a knotty little kink in their future.

Three Wishes is the story in the collection that contains not a hint of sex, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in any way at all. In fact, this particular story is the one I was most touched by. It’s a can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees story, for lack of a better way of describing it, in which Eddie receives a very special gift from his friend Tyler and learns that making wishes simply means making your own luck. It’s a story in which Eddie has been missing something that’s been right in front of him all along, and when Eddie finally wakes up to the realization that Tyler is the true gift, it’s a sweet promise that left me wanting more.

If you’ve ever wondered where the Devil went, look no further. He’s in Swindon getting busy with Darren Lock, who plays the young Faustian character to Nick’s Dark Angel, in The Devil Went Down to Swindon.

Hoping to further his music career, Darren makes a deal with the Devil—he’ll sell Nick his soul, or at least his body, if Nick will help make Darren a star. Well, you all know the old saying “the devil is in the details?” There’s some truth to that in this twisty little tale, because when the details are revealed, it turns out the Devil isn’t all he’s made himself out to be.

There’s not a trace of hellfire and brimstone in The Devil Went Down to Swindon, but that doesn’t mean this story isn’t hot. It is, and it ends with the promise of an unlikely romance.

Passive Resistance is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy in which Gerryn will use a pair of Mithrianni Circlets to capture the heart of Sarkan, a sometimes friend-with-benefits, although the benefits part is somewhat dubious for poor Gerr.

Their arrangement works a bit like this: Gerr is Sarkan’s beck-and-call boy because for better or for worse, Gerr loves him. Sarkan uses Gerr whenever he’s between men because he knows that Gerr will never say no. But things are about to change, and Gerr’s determined to take control of this situation before he’s forced to make some drastic changes in his life.

The play’s the thing in this story. Not the kind with actors and scripts but the kind that includes lots of bodily exploration, boldly going where these two men have never gone before, and discovering that they don’t want to go anywhere with anyone else.

The seventh story in the collection isn’t at all like the fairy tale The Frog Prince, though there are plenty of frogs to be found in it.

Jasper Fitzroy is interested in a couple of things: 1.) organizing the Frog Patrol to help the little hoppers cross the road and get them safely to the other side, and 2.) making sure that Simon Goodchild will be there to help do it.

Of course Simon has every intention of being there since he has a crush on the very possibly straight Jasper, but it’s not until after they have the frogs safely transported and everyone’s gone home that things really heat up. There’s no kissing any frogs in this tale, but there’s a lot of kissing, among other things, to keep the story interesting.

Jasper has a little family dirty laundry and, as they say, confession is good for the soul, especially when your confessor isn’t there to judge, but offers absolution just the same.

If a little role playing fantasy is your cup of tea, then you’re going to love Tea for Two, the story of Richard Weston and his servant Oscar, a boy who loves very much to be dominated by his Master.

It’s a little D/s and a little bit of rough in this who’s who that offered up not only an erotic scene but a bit of a surprising twist at the end that I don’t mind saying I never saw coming.

Rounding out the anthology is the second of the nine stories that I’d read and loved revisiting. Dragon Dance is a friends-to-boyfriends story set against the backdrop of the Chinese New Year and stars eighteen year olds, Archie, a Caucasian boy being raised by his Asian mom, and Gan, whose ancestry is fully Chinese.

It’s a time of discovery and more than a little anxiety for Archie, as he’s not only sure he’s gay but he’s also sure he’s in love with his straight best friend. So, what’s a boy to do when he spends so much time with the boy he can’t touch? Well, in Archie’s case, he waits until Gan finds the courage to tell Archie exactly what he’s been waiting to hear.

Josephine Myles’ characters always come to life in full blooming color on the page, sometimes cheeky, ever endearing, and always clever and sexy; if you love short stories, and most especially if you’re a Josephine Myles fan, I highly recommend giving this book a read.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Blooming Marvelous and Collected Stories here:

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Uncategorized

L.A. Witt Has Come For A Visit And Look, She’s Brought Goodies!

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Aleksandr Voinov/L. A. Witt blog tour for Unhinge the Universe!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Something New Under the Sun) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 21st, and winners will be announced on July 23rd. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

Note: Aleks and L. A. are currently gallivanting around Europe. As such, we won’t be online as much as we normally are, and may not be able to respond to comments as quickly as we’d like, but will try to post responses as often as possible.

The Nibelung saga and Unhinge

I can’t resist putting little Easter eggs into my stories–things with a hidden meaning or referring back to other things that a reader can unravel and enjoy while they do it.

Some of those are very much insider references–being German, I have a whole culture to play with that may or may not be obvious to international readers. In Skybound, I connected Nordic myth (sun-god Baldur and the whole Ragnarök idea – the twilight of the gods) and the last days of the Third Reich–not exactly original, but it gave the whole story a tension and gravity that went really well with the poetic tone.

In Unhinge the Universe, I’m playing with another story that’s very much part of German cultural heritage: The Nibelung saga, essentially Germany’s national epic. The story goes like this: Siegfried, a young hero, slays a dragon and bathes in its blood, becoming invulnerable apart from a spot between his shoulder where a leaf falls and covers a patch that remains free of dragon blood. He goes out to the court of king Gunther, and wants to marry his sister Gudrun. First, he has to help the king court his wife, which is achieved with some trickery.

Once everybody’s married, the two wives (Gunther’s and Siegfried’s) butt heads about whose husband is the greater. And then everything goes to hell–the king’s bodyguard, Hagen, murders Siegfried (after his wife tells him of the one weak point between his shoulder blades) and sinks Siegfried’s treasure in the Rhine. Kriemhild then re-marries nobody else but the king of the Huns, invites her whole family (and Hagen) to the marriage and has them murdered in turn.

So, as far as German stories go, it’s pretty typical–everybody dies. Wagner wrote a massive opera cycle around it–the Ring cycle, and Hitler was a fan. In a way, the whole story is “loyalty unto death”, or a loyalty that dooms you. The parallels to Nazi Germany are pretty glaringly obvious.

Now, Hagen has always been one of my favourite characters. Dark, brooding, devious and strong. Loyal. Certainly somebody you don’t want to mess with. So when we were looking for names for Unhinge’s characters, Hagen was the first name that came to mind. Naming his older brother–the first, favoured son–Siegfried was a foregone conclusion. (In some versions of the story, Hagen has abrighter, friendlier brother called Dankwart). Their little sister is Gudrun. So yes, the mother was a Wagner fan.

Hagen’s name also has a meaning in German. It’s derived from “hag/hagan”, which is wall or protective enclosure. In my home city, the three circular streets around the town center are called Hagen I, Hagen II and Hagen III–they ran along where the three old city walls were.

Our Hagen is very much a defender–in the story, he tries to defend his country until he is sent out (volunteers, really), to rescue his brother. He’s the young, passionate warrior–a definite contrast to the grizzled brooding presence of his namesake, but who says I can’t play with the type a bit.

Siegfried is an interesting name in German, too. It’s combined out of “Sieg” and “Fried” – Victory and Peace. Hagen shortens his name to “Sieg”–thinking repeatedly he has to find “Sieg”, rescue “Sieg”, and for German speakers, it’s not just about his brother, but overall victory – the much-touted “Endsieg” – when the Reich would be triumphant and all enemies vanquished. Of course, in December 1944, we as the readers know he’s chasing an illusion. Consequently, his brother has to die–there is no victory achievable in this place.

And their last name: Friedrich. Again, both syllables have a meaning – Frieden (Peace again) and “Reich” (Riches, wealth). Full of peace… nice for soldiers, but in a way a hopeful attribute that they will, actually, live up to their name, given time and opportunity. And yes, “Siegfried Friedrich” clashes like hell in German ears, but I figured maybe the grandfather was named that, and the mother called her oldest son in his honour, regardless of how the name sounds when spoken.

Some of the other symbols were happy accidents. Once we knew exactly where the story would have to start (North-East France), it became clear pretty soon that it would be set in Burgundy. Now, Burgundy happens to be the very place where the events of the Nibelung saga are said to have happened in the very early Middle Ages.

The kingdom of Burgundy obviously doesn’t exist anymore–which really echoes the inevitable demise of the Third Reich in the context of the story. It’s a kingdom that had its day and is now pretty much forgotten, a hint at how quickly and how completely empires can fall. With the book set largely in Burgundy, I found it striking that these characters came home, symbolically speaking, in Unhinge.

That’s one of those surprises that the Muse sprung on me. By now, this has happened often enough that I’ve learned to trust the Muse–he’s usually right and leaves me stuff to discover after the fact. Some stuff is intentional, but the really good Easter eggs are happy accidents and I enjoy finding them myself.

**************************************

Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he is one of the unsung heroes in the financial services sector. He published extensively in his native German, then switched to English and hasn’t looked back. His genres range from horror, science fiction, cyberpunk, and fantasy to contemporary, thriller, and historical erotic gay novels.

In his spare time, he goes weightlifting, explores historical sites, and meets other writers. He singlehandedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects. His current interests include special forces operations during World War II, pre-industrial warfare, European magical traditions, and how to destroy the world and plunge it into a nuclear winter without having the benefit of nuclear weapons.

Visit Aleksandr’s website at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com, his blog at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com, and follow him on Twitter, where he tweets as @aleksandrvoinov.

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

More info about L.A. can be found at http://www.loriawitt.com or by stalk—er, following her on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).

Unhinge the Universe is available July 15th from Riptide Publishing.

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Dreamspinner Press, Lyn Gala

Lyn Gala’s “Mountain Prey” – A Book That Sneaks Up On You

“Before you contradict an old man, my fair friend, you should endeavor to understand him.” George Santayana



Quite honestly, at first I didn’t like Mountain Prey. It seemed implausible and not well-thought out. Then, I realized that that was the whole point! Alex’s plan isn’t very well-thought out. And Stunt, poor Stunt. He always seems to just stumble onto trouble everywhere he turns.

Mountain Prey is set in the Appalachian Mountains, home to generations of moonshine makers. Stunt (Stewart Folger) received his nickname the hard way; he earned it. A bunch of dumb stunts as a kid and a known penchant for BDSM with other men has made him know as Stunt. He is a forestry technician. Basically he trims back trees so the trail is usable. But to the folks in the mountains, he is still a Fed. The federal government signs his checks, so he is a Fed, the moonshiner’s natural enemy.

One thing sure to bring the Feds to the mountains and expose the mountain folks’ moonshine businesses are drug dealers living nearby. Well, Lyn Gala sets up the perfect scenario for this to happen when she moves known drug king-pin Michael Garrido onto the land next to one of the oldest of the moonshiners, Elijah Pierpont. This is where Alex Soto comes into the picture.

Garrido ordered the murder of Alex’s brother while Alex was in jail. Alex has decided to take justice into his own hands and kill the man who ordered his brother’s murder. While scoping out the security situation, he stumbles upon Stunt. Alex ties Stunt up and puts him in the back of his truck. This is an enormous turn-on for both men. They are both gay and Alex is a Dom to Stunt’s sub.

Adventure and hilarity ensue. Alex and Stunt decide to enlist the help of Elijah to get revenge on Garrido. Elijah is willing to help, after some convincing and with some conditions attached. The three cook up a plan involving a real kidnapping turned fake, a forced marriage and the involvement of the dreaded local and federal law enforcement.

Somehow it all comes together. The Feds think the local sheriff is incompetent and the sheriff keeps accidentally on purpose losing evidence. Even he doesn’t believe for one minute that Elijah Pierpont worked with Stunt. But, the hill people protect their own and that includes the sheriff. Stunt has no memory of the details of his kidnapping because of a real concussion.

Even without the kidnapping evidence, justice is done. Mountain Prey is like a hillbilly crime caper. The book comes together because it is so inconceivable. Whether Lyn Gala intended it or not, that’s why it worked for me. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Mountain Prey here:

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JMS Books LLC, R.W. Clinger

“Beneath His Stolen Skin” – A Small Gem From R.W. Clinger

“A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.” – Leonard Cohen



In this short story we meet Nolan. He’s a landlord, taking in tenants to pay the bills after losing his lover three years ago in a drowning accident. He takes in all kinds of tenants over the course of these three years, teachers, students etc. Watching them come and go as they continue on with their lives, leaving Nolan to live with the ghost of his dead lover.

A new tenant has him interested in life again, and Nolan feel as though he’s ready to move on.

His name is Zeb. He’s mysterious and not sociable at all, but Nolan is intrigued by him.

I love the way Nolan goes about getting to “know” Zeb. Following Zeb when he goes out at night, just to see what his interests are and if he’s meeting a boyfriend. Rifling through Zeb’s underwear drawer, spying on him in the shower. Kinda creepy stalker, but I loved it!

When Zeb finally comes around and tells Nolan his story, it’s heartwarming in the sense that Zeb finally feels comfortable with someone to share his story with. It’s also heartbreaking too, when we hear what Zeb actually thinks about himself because of his scars. It wasn’t full of angst and poor me, it just was.

Even though there were some heavy topics it was balanced with humorous episodes throughout.

I find reviewing short stories difficult because it’s too easy to give away spoilers. But this was such a complete story that it was like a novel wrapped up in 41 pages.

Great things do come in small packages.

Reviewed by: Lynn

You can buy Beneath His Stolen Skin here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Lane Hayes

Lane Hayes’ “Better Than Good” Truly Is Better Than Good

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ― Allen Saunders

Matt Sullivan is man who knows exactly what he wants from life. He is going to finish law school, work at a law firm, marry a nice girl and have some kids. He has a girlfriend, Kristin, who is more of a convenience than someone he can see spending his life with. Matt is content in his life just the way it is. That is until he tags along with Curt, his gay roommate, to a gay club. While at this club he sees a gorgeous man dancing, and he is blown away.

Aaron Mendez is out and proud, and his light shines brightly. Aaron refuses to hide that light for anyone, no closets for this man. Aaron works in the fashion industry and wants to be a fashion photographer. He is not interested in dating someone in the closet, especially if that someone has a girlfriend. As much as he feels this way with all of his heart, there is just something about Matt that intrigues him.

This book was very refreshing for me. I don’t mind a good “gay-for-you” story. I don’t mind the whole “I am in the closet and NEVER coming out” story. I don’t even mind the jilted woman who makes Kathy Bates look sane, that makes way too many appearances in the genre. This book, however, doesn’t have any of those. There is also no insta-love in this book. Lane Hayes managed to write a character that was completely secure in his sexuality.

Matt has had sexual experiences with a man before, but he chooses to date women because he hasn’t met any man that turned his head enough to come out. These two men meet in October, there is a brief interaction a few weeks later and then no contact until Matt texts Aaron on Thanksgiving. The two don’t truly come together until after the new year. Matt wants to make sure he can be the man Aaron needs before he pursues a relationship.

Once Matt ends his relationship with Kristin he goes full court press on Aaron, but Aaron needs to proceed with caution. He doesn’t want to be hurt if Matt decides he isn’t bi-sexual after all. He has been burned before, and he can’t go through that pain again. I simply adored the slow progression to love in this book. There is a HEA, but it is hard fought. The sex in the book was wonderfully written and their feelings for each other were clear in every scene they shared. In the end Matt has a hard time expressing his emotions, but he gets a little help from Elton John and Aaron’s friends to get his feelings across. I highly recommend this book and I hope to see more from the author.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Better Than Good here:

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B. Snow, Free Download

B. Snow Hits The Right Notes With “Idiots’ Tango”

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche



The M/M Goodreads Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” stories are hitting the web, and if I use my first story choice to judge what’s in store, I’d say it’s going to be a great summer of free reading.

I’ve read only one other B. Snow story, that one offered in the Dreamspinner Press anthology Cross Bones. “From a Simmer to a Burn” is the gorgeous and compelling tale of an escaped slave who becomes steward aboard pirate captain William Shaughnessy’s ship, and is forced to confront his general deep loathing of the Dutch who’d captured and forced him into servitude within a single man named Olaf, who is kind and gentle and to whom Sule is unwillingly attracted. I went back and read the story again before digging into Idiots’ Tango, remembering now exactly why it was one of my favorite stories in the collection.

Idiots’ Tango is a very different enemies-to-lovers story than “Simmer” but is no less wonderful for it. B. Snow’s talent seems to be weaving together characters whose lives I want to meddle in—both main and supporting—into plots that I want to get lost in for hours straight until I’m done and left with wanting more.

This novella is a contemporary tale that begins when Josh Dimitriou and Stu Edelstein are just teenagers, then stretches over more than a decade of acrimonious encounters at various family gatherings that anyone who’s not an idiot can see is simply their way of dancing around the fact they’re incredibly attracted to each other. It’s been said there’s a razor thin line between love and hate, and that the opposite of hate isn’t love, nor is the opposite of love hate—the opposite of both is apathy, and let me tell you, Josh and Stu are anything but apathetic toward each other, which makes the waiting and wondering when they’re finally going to get around to realizing that no matter what they call it—gay, bi, Josh-sexual, whatever—all it boils down to is that they’ve got a lot of making up for lost time to do, and that makes it all the more fun.

Are Josh and Stu frustrating? Yes. Yes, they are. They’re idiots after all, right? And just like the love/hate thing, apparently there’s also a razor thin line between unwitting idiocy and willful stupidity. Is all that frustration worth it? I thought so. What’s not to love about a little delayed gratification? Especially when you get to be all smug and I-told-you-so in the end.

Reviewed by: Lisa

Get your FREE download of Idiots’ Tango here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Wade Kelly

Wade Kelly Offers A Kernel Of Hope In “When Love Is Not Enough”

I wanted to know what happened when two people felt it. Would it divide the hurt in two, make it lighter to bear, the way feeling someone’s joy seemed to double it? – Sue Monk Kidd, “The Secret Life of Bees”



It was almost a year and a half ago that I first read When Love is Not Enough and the story has never been far from my mind. This is a beautifully written contemporary coming-of-age novel. My heart broke for Jamie/Jimmy. He never intended to have a double life. Trouble at home and at school, along with the pressure of keeping secrets for his best friend became too much for him to stand.

Jamie was unable to see that the love in his life was enough. If only he had been able to find a way to bring the two halves of his life together, his part in this story would not have ended so soon. His tragic and irrevocable decision sets up the possibility of a relationship between the two halves of his double life. I am looking forward to seeing how Wade Kelly develops this potential relationship in the next installment of this “Unconditional Love” series.

Jamie leaves behind journals through which Matt (his closeted best friend) and Darien (his lover) search for answers regarding Jamie’s life and death. These two young men, who were integral parts of Jamie’s double life, knew nothing of each other’s existence before Jamie died. Each initially has trouble believing and accepting the other’s relationship with Jamie. They cling to each other while trying to make sense out of what they are finding out about Jamie and how very different it is from what they both thought they knew. Through their searching, something begins to grow between them. Something that starts as friendship but quickly grows into much deeper feelings.

I loved that Wade Kelly didn’t give us an insta-love special. It would have been impossible for even me (absolutely the world’s most hopeless romantic) to suspend disbelief long enough to believe that these young men, one who is deeply closeted and mourning the loss of his best friend, another grieving the death of his lover, would have been capable of loving one another so soon. It is much more realistic to read that there is the possibility of more for them as their relationship develops and they resolve their own feelings and process their grief over Jamie’s suicide. They first need to find out the entire story of Jamie/Jimmy’s life and death before they can begin to examine the feelings growing between them.

A HFN ending is good for me as long as I know there is a HEA coming eventually. I know Wade is trying his damndest to get the sequel published. I, for one, cannot wait to see where he takes us next on the emotional rollercoaster he has created with these characters! Make sure your lap bar is securely fastened…

I am happy to say that the sequel to When Love is Not Enough, The Cost of Loving, is being published by Dreamspinner Press later this year.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy When Love Is Not Enough here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes

Aaron Sutter and Duncan Stiel Stop In For A Visit, Uh… Over-share?… Oh! And There’s A Giveaway Of “Parting Shot”

AFF_DSPad18_PartingShot

Thanks for being here with us today, guys. I know it’s a big day, what with the release of your book and all, and I know you’re both busy with life and jobs, so we’re thrilled you could stop by for a visit. Let’s get right to it.

What would you both say was the most difficult part of getting your story told? Are there some private things you revealed about yourselves that you might have preferred remain private? Or was it a matter of just getting everything out there once you decided to do it, privacy be damned?

A: (Opens his suit jacket and leans forward in his chair, making eye contact) “First off, thank you so much for having us; it’s lovely to be here. And to your question, I will say that my life has been, in the past, all about privacy and discretion but recently aspects of it have changed due to my deteriorating relationship with my father and the attitude of my board of directors. Having said that, I think there is a keen difference between what people know and what they are allowed to know by the media and other sources. It’s important to keep in mind that one should never believe everything one reads.”

D: (Scoffs from where he’s sitting beside Aaron on the couch) “Well that was deliberately vague. Do you even know what the hell you said?”

A: (Clears throat before forcing a smile) “Pardon him; he’s surly in the morning and its early here in Chicago.”

D: (Rolls his eyes) “The hardest part of having your damn story told is that people find out about all the shit you’ve done and all about your secrets. Like I could have lived my whole life without people knowing what happened to my brother. Once they know stuff like that, they start looking at you like you’re some pity case. I hate that shit. Secrets are supposed to stay that way so that part is hard, being sort of gutted.”

What do you think fans will be most surprised by when they read Parting Shot?

A: (Leans back, stretching his arms out over the back of the couch, his left hand moving to the back of Duncan’s neck) “I think that Jory (Harcourt) has a sort of distorted world view and so I may or may not have been painted as a villain when, if you go back and read between the lines, my actions speak more to care than anything else. If you, too, were traveling at the speed of sound, you also might miss another’s true motives.”

D: (Turns his head to look at Aaron)

A: “Yes?”

D: “So lemme get this straight, you’re saying that you never wanted to own Jory, move him in and keep him? This is what you’re going with, here, on the record?”

A: “There is no record. This is not an interro––”

D: “But really, this is your story?”

A: (Aaron pushes his hand up into the back of Duncan’s hair) “I’m saying that if you care for someone, you want to keep them from playing in traffic.”

D: “I see. Okay. Well, for me I think the biggest surprise is that I’m not a top.”

A: (Freezes momentarily and then groans loudly) “Oh, dear God.”

D: “But I guess you kinda got that from when Nate told you in his book, so maybe that’s not it.”

A: “Next question, please.”

If you can answer this one without giving away too much to readers, what’s your favorite part of the book?

A: (Leans sideways against Duncan) “My favorite part was when our misunderstanding was cleared up and my life could start again.”

D: “Yeah, me too,” (He smiles at the man crowding into his personal space) “That was good. So was the make-up sex after.”

A: (Leans his head in his hand and closes his eyes to massage the bridge of his nose) “Please, go on.”

So tell us, do you think Jory’s maybe feeling a little bit smug right now? You know, because he knows love when he sees it and isn’t averse to giving it a nosy little nudge?

A: (Clears his throat as he sits up straight, allowing Duncan to hold his hand, though) “I think Jory will believe it was all him and no work at all on our part. He lives in a magical world with unicorns and bunnies where everything works out like a fairytale. He thinks he’s a love god.”

D: “Yeah, well, he kinda is.”

A: “He’s annoying and he’s lucky he has Sam Kage to act as his safety net for the rest of his life. I’m thankful every day that I was not successful there. Just thinking about it is exhausting.”

D: “So, now you like Sam?”

A: “The man deserves a medal for patience.”

D: “Well, I’ve actually talked to Jory,” (He chuckles) “And yeah, he’s pretty fuckin’ smug. That’s okay with me, I got what I wanted.”

Do you remember the exact moment you realized, oh my god, I love this man and he is mine?

A: “Yes.”

(Silence)

D: (Clears his throat) “Would you maybe care to elaborate?”

A: “No.”

D. “Oh for crissakes, it’s a question.”

A: “It is, yes.”

D: (Turns from looking at Aaron) “Well, I’m a sap so pretty much after the first time we––”

A: “No-no-no, next question.”

If we asked Mary, would she say you guys were pretty easy to work with, or would she say you were a pain in the tuchus?

A: “She will say that I’m a jewel, and that Duncan’s voice was problematic.”

D: “What?”

A: “It’s true. Also, she drinks too much coffee. You can quote me.”

D: “I’m so not the problem.”

A: “Of course not, dear.”

If you could say one consequence-free thing to Sam and Dreo, respectively, what would it be?

A: “Have you investigated an ankle bracelet for Jory?”

D: “I had my partner run ballistics on your gun when it was in lock-up. You’re lucky it came up clean.”

A: (Turns to look at Duncan) “You can’t do that, can you?”

D: “I can do whatever the fuck I want. I’m a homicide detective.”

A: “Charming.”

Define each other in a single word:

A: Irresponsible.

D: Arrogant.

A: “Well, no.” (Exhales his irritation) “The real word is devoted. He’s always there for me, and he grounds me, and I can’t count on anyone like I do him. Devoted sums him up best.”

D: “And I would say, trustworthy. He’s dependable. He keeps his word. Always. Trustworthy is the word.”

All of us romantics out here love a good happily-ever-after. How would you define your HEA?

A: “As one realizing exactly what they need and want and getting it to the benefit of both parties involved.”

D: “Really?”

A: “Yes. Why?”

D: “What about madly in love?”

A: (Smiling brightly) “Well, that goes without saying, doesn’t it?”

I’m not going to keep you guys any longer because I know you have things to do, so I’ll leave you with a request: would you share an excerpt of Parting Shot with us?

A: “Of course. This is when we were in New York and Duncan just got out of the hospital. The first time.”

D: “Don’t be a wiseass.”

A: “No. Never.” (He finishes, winking at Duncan)

***

Lying down on the couch, I picked up my own phone from the coffee table and called Aaron.

He answered on the second ring. “Duncan?”

“Yeah. How did you know?”

“I—” He coughed. “—put your number in my phone.”

It was nice to hear. “So,” I said my voice low and full of gravel.

“How are you?”

“I’m good,” he said quickly. “You?”

“I just got stitches.” I grinned because, God, he sounded good.

“So I’m a little beat to shit, if you wanna know the truth.”

“You got—who hurt you?”

“I’m a cop. You know how it is.”

He cleared his throat. “I don’t, actually.”

I grunted. “It happens. I’ll live.”

“Yeah?”

Why did he sound scared? “Are you all right?”

“I don’t want to freak you out.”

“Why would you?”

“I, uhm,” he hedged, “I’m in New York. I have been for a week.”

There had to be more.

“Duncan?”

“Yeah, still here.”

“Are you—is that freaking you out?”

“You do business all over the world, yeah?”

“Yes.”

“So you probably hafta come to New York a lot, right?”

“I do, yes.”

“I guess I’m not getting why you being here would be weird.”

“I just”—his voice cracked—“didn’t want you to think I was stalking you or something.”

“Oh, wouldn’t that be something,” I mused.

“Something?”

“Yeah, I mean, that’d be cool, right? How many guys could say that Aaron Sutter was following them around? I should be so lucky.”

He whimpered.

The sound about shredded what little control I had left. Hurt and tired, with the last of my buzz wearing off, I was damn needy. “You maybe wanna see me?”

Silence.

“Aaron?”

“Yes, please,” he murmured. “I would love to see you. Where are you? I’ll come get you.”

“No. It’s not safe. You tell me where you are, and I’ll come to you.”

“How ’bout this,” he said shakily. “You walk one street over from where you are, and I’ll be there in a car in ten minutes to get you. Deal?”

“What if I’m not in the city?”

“Fine. However long it takes,” he huffed out. “Where are you?”

“Tenth Avenue and 49th Street.”

“Oh man, I’m like minutes from you. I’m staying at The Pierre on 5th.”

“I don’t know that place. Is it fancy?” I teased.

“It is.”

Of course it was. “Okay. Will they let me in?”

“You’ll be with me.”

“True.”

“So—are you working?”

“Yeah.”

“I see.”

“But not until Monday.”

“Oh?” His voice rose, and I could hear the reprieve and the happiness.

I made a noise that didn’t quite qualify as communication.

“You think you’d want to stay with me a couple days?”

“Yeah. Ya know I was thinking of flying back to Chicago just to see you,” I said without even thinking of how scary psycho it sounded. “Awww shit.”

Several long moments passed, but I was too panicked to speak. I had no filter because of everything, and now I would pay for it.

“You were thinking of returning to Chicago for just two days?”

“Well, three actually,” I corrected him. “But, yeah.”

Quick, sharp exhale. “Okay, you win. That’s like one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me.”

It was? “It is?” I was baffled. “Shit, who’ve you been hangin’ out with?”

“People who like my money,” he said, clipping the words. “I’m leaving now. Can you walk?”

“Yes, I can walk,” I grumbled.

He chuckled. “Hurry up, all right?”

The phone went dead, and I realized he had basically ordered me to get my ass in gear. And though I started to ache, I got up anyway to change into some clean clothes.

***

Thanks so much for bringing your guys around today, Mary!

And now for the contest! Mary is offering one lucky winner the chance at a FREE E-copy of Parting Shot. All you have to do is leave a comment right here on Aaron and Duncan’s interview before 11:59pm Pacific time on Thursday, July 18, 2013, and you’ll automatically be entered to win.

The winner will be drawn on July 19th, and the winner notified via email.

Good luck!

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Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes

This Is A “Parting Shot” That Aims Straight For The Heart

“Home
Let me come home
Home is wherever I’m with you.” ― Edward Sharpe

The old saying goes that “home is where the heart is;” not where your own heart is but where the heart is to which you belong. There is a difference between being home and being in a place that gives you shelter. There is a difference between a roof over your head and a safe place to land at the end of the day. There is a difference between having someplace to be and having someone who is your refuge.

There is a difference between being coveted for what you have and being wanted for who you are, a difference between getting what you want and giving what you need. When a man finds the one person who recognizes the difference between being used and being loved, that’s the someone who goes beyond a want and becomes a necessity, the one who strips away all the other fears ever felt because there is nothing quite as terrifying as the idea of that person not being a part of your life.

As much as Aaron Sutter and Duncan Stiel might have believed at one time that Jory Harcourt and Nathan Qells were the men they cared for more than any other, Jory and Nate were merely the templates against which Aaron and Duncan will now measure the difference between lust and love, the difference between a substitute and substance. The difference between being in love with someone, and loving the someone you’re with.

Parting Shot is their story, the blueprint Mary Calmes has drafted that plots the building of the foundation of Aaron and Duncan’s relationship, a relationship that is filled with danger, and decisions, and indecision, and sacrifice, and the hunger to belong to each other even if it means that that belonging might promise losing as much as gaining.

This wouldn’t be a book in the A Matter of Time-verse if there wasn’t plenty of intrigue and undercover ops with the criminal element that sets our heroes right in the midst of a few sticky situations, including a case in which one Sam Kage is back again at his growly best. Like the wordsmither she is, Mary plants the seeds of all this action amidst the romance and the purely erotic moments between the billionaire business mogul and his Detective lover who are now bound to each other out of want and need and the primal desire to belong.

It also wouldn’t be a Mary Calmes book if there weren’t a few bumps in the road to Aaron and Duncan’s happy beginning, and there’s a doozy in this one that, ugh, plucked out a sad little tune on my poor heartstrings, but like Mary always does so capably, she played all the right notes and brought everything to a close in perfect harmony.

Word is that this will be the last book set in the world that Jory and Sam built. Well, I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world and would recommend you don’t either.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Parting Shot here:

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Edmond Manning, Self-Published

The Lost and The Founds: The Origins by Edmond Manning

We couldn’t be happier to welcome Edmond as our guest today to help celebrate the release of his latest novel King Mai.

In honor of Mai’s coronation, Edmond is offering one lucky reader the chance to win an Ecopy of the book! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment right here, and you’ll automatically be eligible to win.

All entries must be received by by 11:59pm Pacific Time on Friday, July 19, 2013. The drawing will be held on July 20 and the winner notified via email.

Good luck!

***



Once there was a tribe of men, a tribe populated entirely of kings. Odd, you may think, and wonder how any work got done in such a society with everyone making rules. But these were not those kinds of kings.

While corresponding via email, Lisa recently asked me, ‘Where did all this come from? Every man is the one true king? Every woman is the one true queen?’ She wanted to know the inspiration, the true origins.

Gosh, I wish I knew.

Oh sure, I know some details. I know how the story came into my life through a tangle of interests that converged on my modern-day narrator, Vin Vanbly, and his sexually manipulative King Weekends. But the origin of The Lost and Founds is older, so much older than my most recent fictional invention.

Think Greek, but older.

Think Egyptian but older.

Ancient stories tell of warriors striding into a troubled world to overcome impossibilities. These warriors rise into legend. They destroy nine-headed beasts. Drink entire lakes dry. They rescue villages from impossible evils. Yes, their achievements were insane and worthy of song, but beyond the epic adventure itself, the stories articulated what happens to men, who they become, when they are pushed to their limits…and win.

Look at the stories of Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and any number of Old Testament tales. These men are men on king weekends (metaphorically at least), mired in grief and human limitations while trying to uncover a greater truth: I might be something more, maybe even a king.

Hell, cave drawings were trying to tell these stories, who we are as men.

As people.

Although the ancient stories name kingship pretty literally – the hero gets a gold crown and a fancy scepter to, you know, take to parties and such—modern interpreters (Joseph Campbell and five hundred Jungian doctoral students) suggest kingship, even in those days, was an attempt to express the inner nature of four major masculine archetypes: warrior, lover, magician, and king.

They would argue that all men are kings, all women are queens, all of us ready for our majesty to awaken. Unfortunately, queenship tales have not traditionally been valued historically as they should have been, so we’re left with mostly the male kings. This is a serious omission, this disservice. But it does not change that we are all – men and women – powerful warriors, waiting for someone to call us into service. Fallen Leaf was a powerful Crow warrior who served her people. We need her. We need Gilgamesh to remind us to grieve death with a lover’s heart. We need the story of the Greek Odysseus to remind us that we are all lost kings, far from home while strangers feast in our living rooms, enjoying roasted mutton, drinking our wine.

Well, maybe not that last part.

I hope there aren’t guys eating mutton in my living room right now. If there are, I hope they’re using napkins and plates. And quit drinking my wine.

Point being, we tell ourselves heroic stories to remember what our forbearers thought we should remember: we are powerful. Don’t forget that. We achieve greatness. Don’t forget that also. We make dumb-ass mistakes often stemming from pride. Seriously, don’t forget that either.

Past generations had books. Before that, ornate, gold two-dimensional hieroglyphics. But ancient people could not predict which creations would survive thousands of years, no better than we can know how much of the internet will exist in eight hundred years. Will YouTube exist 1,000 years from now, telling the stories of who we were and what we valued? Maybe but probably not.

Ancient peoples attempted time travel by encoding their wisdom inside stories they hoped would reach us in the future. It worked.

I’ve received emails from people who have said things like, “I don’t understand what happened to me when I read King Perry. Things were stirred up in me I can’t put into words.”

Stories do that –the ones that touch who we are as a people.

I love there are feelings and experiences too deep to name. Too raw and beautiful to tame with adjectives, and rope into submission with clever verbs. As much as I do not love grief, I love that an ancient Egyptian man the same age as I was, once wept for his father’s death the same way I wept for mine. Thousands of ancient Egyptians probably loved their parents the way I love mine. Perhaps they tried to send comfort to me in the form of tales of Ra, the Father God.

My fascination with mythology and masculine archetypes swirl together in my series, The Lost and Founds. I find myself inventing new mythology as much as drawing on the ancients. I try to add my own twists (I am a storyteller, after all) but I also honor the ancients by following some conventional guidelines for masculine mythology.

The north is wisdom, the king.

The east is new beginnings, the lover.

The west is death and transformation, the magician.

The south is service to the realm, the warrior.

When narrator Vin Vanbly describes the mythical kingdom’s southern gates, he channels ancient ideas about the energetic world beyond our own while describing modern-day warriors. Kings who leave the kingdom on quests always leave by the southern gates. They are beautiful but hint at danger.

“The southern gates had been crafted into existence by metalworking kings, twisted gold, fashioned into tangled vines and flat, broad leaves reflecting every gleam of sunlight. Intertwining the gold, flowed brown copper vines, alive with barbaric intention. As the dawn re-painted the black grass to spring green and the gold metal leaves began to shine, two questions were always asked of the departing brother. The first was this: ‘What would you risk to find a lost king?’ Each king answered with what he was willing to sacrifice, and it was always worth more than anyone knew.”

In the newest book, King Mai, the narrator, Vin, describes the western gates and true to the power of the magician, these gates are murky and cryptic.

“Nobody arrives (in the kingdom) through the western gates, not ever. In the west, the actual gates themselves are completely submerged under water, a glowing maze of sculpted, pink coral. Men leave the kingdom through the western gates only to lunch with Death or to discover secrets guaranteed to stripe them with grief for their remaining lives. An impenetrable fog smothers the water’s surface and only a pinkish hue occasionally leaks through. Creatures swim in that pink, foggy water and hunt at the surface. Big things. Dangerous things.”

The west offers transformational knowledge, but there is always a price — your vulnerability or perhaps to be striped with grief. In other words, you don’t fuck with the western gates unless you’re ready to get fucked with yourself.

On each King Weekend, the main character greets his kingship in the east, the direction of the lover. You would think that a new king would greet the north, the direction of kingship itself. But the east represents new beginnings, the return of the sun, opening the heart to the fullest love, the fullest grief. As Vin’s new kings face a new way of existing in the world, become a new man, they must come home through the east.

The function of those northern gates will reveal themselves, perhaps in the next book or the one after that.

Women have their own parallel archetypes, the lover, mother, amazon, and Wise Woman (or sometimes Crone). A few readers have emailed me ‘when are we going to see a woman get queened?’

I am lucky enough to love women in my life, very lucky, but as a man who doesn’t physically make love to women, my vantage point has a serious limitation. As a writer, I must somehow figure out how to honor—in a realistic way—a woman’s sexual power. When I can do that, I can write that Queen book. Maybe I’m not supposed to create Queen Weekends. Maybe a straight man should write those books. I dunno.

I will keep asking for wisdom on that topic. And I trust the Sparkling Spirit to provide me confirmation some day when I am shopping for milk or giggling with my best friend, Ann, or perhaps staring into space and the quiet voice whispers to me, “Queen her.”

But in the meantime, I hope to tap into such universal stories, stories of grief and forgiveness, that readers temporarily forget gender identities and instead remember all we have in common, men, women, and everything in between.

The world of The Lost and Founds is ancient and modern, lusty and agape, grief and joy. It’s the story of people who have lost and then somehow won. It’s the story of why it’s hard and amazing to be a man. Our goofy stupidity, our loveable quirks, and how any of us in the world, men and women, might possibly be spectacular if someone believed, just for one weekend, that I was the one true king. The one true queen.

What if some folks from long-gone Mesopotamia wanted us to know they knew us, they knew us, so they encoded their findings in myth and legend, a thousand myths, a thousand stories from every African nation and dared us to meet them on the ancestral field? Their stories say, come meet us. And remember.

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Edmond Manning is the author of King Perry and most recently (July 15, 2013), King Mai. You need not have read that first book to enjoy King Mai. Feel free to email Edmond:

remembertheking@comcast.net

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Amazon Digital Services, Edmond Manning, Self-Published

Edmond Manning’s “King Mai (Lost & Founds #2)” – In Which Mai Kearns Gets Curiouser and Curiouser…

Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart longs for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet. – W.B. Yeats



I have dubbed him the Storyteller King—the king of all things. The one who owns the power of words is the king who rules the world. But, he is more.

He is the manipulator and the instigator; he is the King of Evasion; he is the King of Subterfuge, the King of Truth and the King of Fabrication. He is pain and he is pleasure. He is the King of Destiny, the Director King. He is the algorithm and the fulcrum. He is the enigma. He is the Destroyer King and the Restorer King. He is the Weaver King who knits the threads of the Lost Kings into the intricate tapestry of the Found. He is the King of the Lost waiting to be discovered. He is the outsider. He is the Human Ghost who sacrifices for the sake of loving with all his love. He is the King of Provocation. He is the paradox.

He is so much. He is Vin Vanbly and I love him with all my love.

Edmond Manning takes us back in time, to 1996, three years before Perry Mangin was crowned the Forgiver King; to DeKalb, Illinois where Mai Kearns, an adopted son who has always been a unique presence in this small farming community, both for being Thai and for being gay, has forgotten how to love what he loves best.

Mai has built a life of bitter high school memories, of a failed relationship that not only broke his heart but broke his spirit as well. Brian’s rejection cast a pall over Mai’s legacy, over the dream of carrying on his family farm with someone who would stand by him and love him. But that was not meant to be. Brian is gone and the Kearns family, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and with no way to repay it, has lost their farm to a corporate entity. Mai is lost, mired in regret and denial and avoiding the pain in his heart by living in a world of statistical probabilities and random numerical samplings. Mai can quote facts and figures, but in all that accounting for the problem, he has missed the part of the equation where he works to find the solution. Mai cares dispassionately. Or perhaps he is passionately ignoring the reason why he cares. He is a paradox.

This is a story problem in which each solution is the sum of the previous parts, and Vin is there to guide and to misguide and to torture Mai through it, enduring the anger that sometimes feels like hate, embracing the love that sometimes feels like hurt, fanning the spark of fear and curiosity until it burns white-hot and so brightly that it blinds Mai to the fear and transforms the base metal of his resentment into the golden light of loving and embracing that which he’d come to resent. His curiosity is his courage, his courage founded in his fears. Mai’s journey will be one of discovery, in which he finds that what he wants and what he needs are one in the same.

Vin maneuvers Mai on his treasure hunt from Lost to Found, through a sensual landscape where silence has flavor and sound has color and the land is redolent with the scent of hope and despair. A paradox. It is a place where touch is a language all its own and a place where words can mean everything. Or nothing at all.

King Mai is a celebration of the contextual, a flow of poetic imagery and wordsmithing abundant with emotion. It is metaphorical and it is literal, it is more than romance and no less than the text of a master alchemist who has spun a love story that defies labeling. Edmond Manning has done it again, delivered an unequivocal reading experience that has knitted itself into King Perry, though the whole cloth of the Lost and Founds is a work-in-progress that is looping and stitching itself together, one Found King at a time, one Vin revelation at a time; its progress disproving some of my assumptions while proving that enemies snared in a web of memories can, through shared pain, evolve into brothers and friends.

If you’ve already read King Perry, then King Mai is a do-not-miss read. It is a darker book, more intense, and is a juxtaposition of the Vin Vanbly we first met in 1999.

If you haven’t read King Perry yet, my only question would be, then, what are you waiting for?

Let your curiosity be your guide.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy King Mai (The Lost and Founds, Book 2) here:

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Azalea Moone, Storm Moon Press

Azalea Moone’s “Angel’s Redemption” Has Some Redeeming Qualities

Angels around us, angels beside us, angels within us. Angels are watching over you. – Angel Blessing

Having never read anything by this author before, I didn’t know what to expect. After learning it was about a rocker and an angel, two of my favorite themes, I immediately got excited about reading Angel’s Redemption.

The story is from Blaine’s POV. We learn he is in a band trying to make it big all the while working at a fast food restaurant. His father died when he was young and his mother married someone Blaine didn’t get along with. He felt as though nothing was going right in his life.

A friend of his father’s passes away, leaving a life sized sculpture of an angel to Blaine. Blaine has no idea why this guy, who he hadn’t seen in years, would leave this angel statue to him. Well, he’s about to find out.

I totally loved the premise of the story. It was very unique and something I haven’t read before. As I first started reading, I really liked how the story was flowing. I was liking the other characters too. Katlinne and Vince, his friends and bandmates, was a strong supporting character that I looked forward to getting to know.

Then something happened which shifted my opinion. It was a little confusing to me why Blaine reacted the way he did when his angel, Lynsael, made his first appearance. Of course there was the typical reaction of surprise and disbelief. But then he just wants to go to bed like he can’t be bothered! Why didn’t he stay up all night and ask questions? Really, you’re going to go to bed and wait until morning?

The story as a whole needed a lot more explanation. As a reader, I was at a loss as to why certain things were happening. Like why was Lynsael in the sculpture in the first place? How did he get in there? Who exactly was this sculptor? We know he was a friend of Blaine’s dad, but that’s all we know. When Blaine has his flashback of his dad going to visit the sculptor, there’s no explanation as to the purpose. Why was it even brought into the story? It made no sense to me. Also, Raz, the new guitarist for the band, is too convenient. He shows up after a very lame fight between Blaine and Vince. We know that Lynsael has a bad vibe about Raz, but after the twist is revealed, Lynsael’s behavior just adds to the confusion. Why didn’t Lynsael know Raz was an angel? Where did Raz come from? What’s his story? Come to find out Raz is another angel coming to take Lynsael to hell for a crime he committed!! Though we never know what his crimes were other than that he “interfered with fate”. The revealing of Raz as an angel was vague to say the least, and we never find out if he was sent to fetch Lynsael or if he came on his own. And with his black wings, did he come from heaven or hell?

I feel as though the story could have been better told had there been some backstory for the readers to know what was going on. I felt there were many holes that needed to be filled. Aside from the questions above, another hole being the fact that Blaine was supposed to have had such bad luck from the time of his father’s death that is somehow connected to Lynseal, but that is never explained either.

Overall, what started out as a promising read, fell flat very quickly. I needed more information to really follow the storyline.

Reviewed by: Lynn

You can buy Angel’s Redemption here:

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