4 Stars, Historical Romance, Owen Keehnen, Reviewed by Rena, Wilde City Press

Review: December 1903: The Iroquois by Owen Keehnan

Title: December 1903: The Iroquois

Author: Owen Keehnan

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 36 Pages

At a Glance: Owen Keehnen is able to construct a complete story that not only provides us with some great background material about theatre life in the early 20th century, but also the terrible cost of poor planning

Blurb: Chicago during the holiday season in 1903 was a bustling place. This is a tale of passion and love set against a backdrop of the tragic fire at the Iroquois Theatre which killed hundreds. As a love story it is the tale of two men from very different worlds who meet by chance on the street. Frankie is an actor working in the show Mr. Bluebeard which is currently playing at the Iroquois. Following a cast meeting, Frankie leaves the theater en route to his room at a local boarding house until the evening show. On the street he makes knowing eye contact with a handsome and dapper man. The two make small talk. The stranger introduces himself as Otto and in only a few moments the two head off to Frankie s boarding house. Though Frankie knows absolutely nothing about Otto s life outside of the room, they meet again the next night, and the next. As the cold winter wind howls outside the boardinghouse window, they make plans to run away and start a new life elsewhere. They agree to meet on the alley behind the theater that day after the matinee. Frankie has bought Otto a gallery ticket so that he can see him upon the stage. During that day s matinee tragedy strikes and the tragic inferno consumes the theatre. Will one or the other or both lovers perish in the blaze? Can love even survive in the wake of such unspeakable tragedy.

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Review: At around 14,000 words, Owen Keehnen is able to construct a complete story that not only provides us with some great background material about theatre life in the early 20th century – at least in America – but also the terrible cost of poor planning, the absence of safety laws, and, in the middle of all of that, a love story in the process of blooming. I do want to emphasize that this novelette is a tragedy on many levels. If you’re looking for a romantic HEA, I’ll warn you that this book doesn’t guarantee anything, having a real-life tragedy for its dramatic backdrop, and its conclusion is something that works on a very realistic level. There’s so much mystery behind Otto that ending Frankie’s story the way Keehnen does makes a lot of sense.

The story, from the get-go, isn’t a happy one. Not only do we see Frankie’s struggles to survive as an actor and the lengths he’s forced to go to in order to make it, we also watch him find solace from his loneliness as a gay man by skulking in shadowy alleys, keeping an eye out for possible one-night-stands. When he and Otto cross paths one evening, he knows he’s found the one, and even Otto claims the same thing. There’s so much hinging on their moments alone that even their lovemaking is somewhat tainted by a mild undercurrent of paranoia. Frankie lives in a run-down apartment, and every movement seems magnified by the floorboards or the walls. So that even within the privacy of his home, he really can’t feel safe enough from discovery.

Frankie falls hopelessly in love with Otto, and in an uneven kind of relationship that bummed me out, Frankie shares everything about himself while Otto holds back. Right off the bat, Otto’s at a complete advantage, and it doesn’t take him much to woo Frankie with gifts and declarations of love. When the lovers talk about running away, I could still sense some odd distance from him, and after a certain point, I was questioning my own judgments about the character. It’s one of those kinds of characterization that I enjoy reading – the mystery, the riddle, the person with that quality that’s a little off in such a subtle way. He came across to me as a gray area, who can go either way: throw everything to the wind and run away with Frankie, or suddenly vanish without another word.

And it’s that mystery that muddies the waters following the tragic fire in the theatre where Frankie works.

The fire itself did happen, and the novelette ends with some notes regarding the incident. As can only be expected, so many people died in the fire – both audience and performers alike. With it being the early 20th century, you can only imagine the state of such buildings back then. Emergency exits, fire alarms, what have you – none of those existed then. In fact, reading through the detailed account of the fire, its progress, and the horrific aftermath called to mind the Triangle Factory Fire, another tragedy that makes me ill just thinking about it. The victims’ entrapment are similar. The desperate and ultimately doomed attempts at fleeing, particularly from the upper floors, are also the same.

What follows after the tragedy is almost dream-like in atmosphere and approach. Since we’re seeing everything unfold from Frankie’s POV (first person), we’re very limited in our understanding of how the tragedy affected his and Otto’s relationship. Scenes seem to blend into each other, almost as though we’re walking around in a daze.

For this story, there’s a great deal more telling than there is showing. On the one hand, it distances us from the raw emotion of the events; on the other hand, it distances us from the raw emotion of the events. As much as I’d like to see the narrative broken up more often by dialogue and action (or interaction), particularly after the fire, on another level, I was also somewhat grateful that the tragedy and the aftermath were muted in a way through the heavier reliance on telling.

There are a number of ways one can interpret the story’s denouement, the way I see it. And to Keehnen’s credit, every possibility I could think of works very well with the story, given the nature of the lovers’ relationship and the fact that we’re limited to Frankie’s POV – his biases, his weaknesses, his dreams. Every possibility is realistic, regardless of whether or not it pains us. It’s an effective – not to mention gutsy – way of following through Frankie’s story, and I’m grateful we’re not cheated out of it with something implausible or just plain far out there.






You can buy December 1903: The Iroquois here:

Wilde City Press

Wilde City Press

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Janet, Tinnean

Review: They Come by Night by Tinnean

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Title: They Come by Night

Author: Tinnean

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 340 Pages

At a Glance: A fast paced, well plotted story that I did not want to put down

Blurb: Imagine an Earth just a bit different from ours. It may be 2014, but in this world, normals unknowingly share the planet with vampyrs. Most vampyrs rely on bagged blood, supplemented by the blood of sabors—valued individuals whose blood contains an element needed for the survival of the species.

Tyrell Small has always felt different. He doesn’t know he is a sabor, but he has the birthmark to prove it. When his father reveals that he’ll be required to feed vampyrs, Ty decides to run away. Slipping out of his bedroom window, he finds the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen sitting on his roof. Adam Dasani is a vampyr, equerry to the vampyr king, who has given Adam the task of guarding Ty. The blood of the two most powerful saborese families in the shared history of vampyrs and sabors runs through Ty’s veins. And some vampyrs intend to use him to gain power, something Adam isn’t about to allow. Adam insists that Ty can’t escape his destiny, but they both find that destiny can take unexpected turns… and following those turns may put those Ty loves—including Adam—in danger.

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Review: There is so much I love about Tinnean’s writing and in this latest book, she upped the ante by delivering Vampyrs and sabors in a contemporary, alternate world. This is a new direction for her and I loved it.

The reader is brought into this world – pun intended – with the birth of a little boy. He is marked as a sabor and has a destiny to fulfill. We are shocked and distressed by the circumstances of his arrival, but we are quickly reassured that he is valued and loved. There are several plotlines that run concurrently with the story about Ty and his years growing into maturity. We learn that Ty will go to serve the Vampyrs when he turns 18, and that he will always be protected. The factions that could cause him harm are exposed layer by layer, and the interactions that play out are fascinating and horrifying in turn. Character building is one of the strengths that we enjoy in this book. Seemingly unrelated events start to add up and we get a sense of being privy to a bigger picture than what the characters can see. I appreciate the humor that is created in the feel of the story through this method of storytelling, and it is a big plus for me when I read her books.

Tinnean has great control of the plot, and each new page flows smoothly as details amass, and as each of the threads of the story weave together, we start to see the entirety of the world she has built. The world that is ours – but not quite. The characters are realistic for their ages, and the interactions flow realistically between the different levels of relationships. Ty’s friendship with Jimmy is related with different language to reflect their age and closeness, while there is a slightly more formal tone to the exchanges between Ty and his father. More anger, too, as that can be shared when you are loved unconditionally. Tinnean uses dialogue so well in this book. The conversations between characters are tools she uses to grab hold of the reader and pull them into the book. She makes us respond to the characters, and draws on our emotions by twisting the flow of the language in the story. Characters worthy of respect are described in glowing terms and are spoken of, or to, in corresponding tones. While the disgust and anger we feel for Ty’s oldest brother is a feeling curried by the words Tinnean uses to describe his actions in public and his dealings with his siblings. This level of craftsmanship has become what I expect from a Tinnean book, and I was so glad to see the skills present in this story even though the actual genre may be different for her.

I found this to be a fast paced, well plotted story that I did not want to put down, right from the first page through to the last. The smooth flow of the story as I needed to know what would happen next, and what that character was doing now, and how everything circled back to Ty, was very satisfying. I wouldn’t call this a HEA because Tinnean left the door open for another book in this world. There were a couple of characters that had possibilities and even though Ty and Adam have a happy ending, it is more of a HFN, with a HEA in the future, hopefully. This book was fun and I enjoyed it thoroughly.






You can buy They Come by Night here:

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Evernight Publishing, Giveaways, Iyana Jenna

Guest Post and Giveaway: How Long Will I Love You by Iyana Jenna

Iyana Jenna

The Novel Approach welcomes Iyana Jenna today on her How Long Will I Love You blog tour. Enjoy the video of the song that inspired the novel, then be sure to enter for a chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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First of all, I’d like to thank you for having me on your blog. It means a lot to me. I would like to share with you and your readers my main inspirations of this story.

One day, my dear friend Louis Stevens posted a video of a singer Gavin DeGraw on his Facebook account. It was lovely and I loved the singer’s song. Well, one of my favorite singers is Ed Sheeran and I told Louis it would be a dream come true if Ed sings together with Gavin. A moment later, voila! Louis posted a video of them both singing together! Long story short, How Long Will I Love You was born. The title of this story was from a song but it was another story altogether and it wasn’t sung by any of the men.

By the way, here is the video of Gavin and Ed performing together on stage. I totally fell in love with them. I got completely inspired. My story isn’t in any way a real story about them, though. Heh. I wish! :D

Now if you watch the video until the end, it was their hug that completely melted my heart.

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howlongwilliloveyou1lBlurb: It might look weird for a musician to *fangirl* another musician, but Ed Finley didn’t give a damn. He adored and had a crush on singer and pianist, Gavin O’Malley—to the point of sticking O’Malley’s pin-ups all over the walls of his room. Ed thought his dream had come true when he was scheduled to perform together with his idol on stage.

Gavin O’Malley thought Ed was okay when they ended up being together that night. The night meant everything to Ed, while it was only another one-night stand for Gavin.

Ed decides to stay away while Gavin, after rejecting Ed, couldn’t stop thinking about the other man. Will Gavin get a chance to tell Ed his true feelings?

Buy Links: Evernight Publishing | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | All Romance eBooks | Bookstrand

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Iyana avatar 01Author Bio: Iyana writes M/M short stories and novellas. Her works have been published by Evernight Publishing, JMS Books, Books to Go Now, Torquere Press, Bitten Press, Leap of Faith Publishing, Breathless Press, and Alfie Dog Fiction.

Iyana lives in Jakarta, a city famous for its traffic jams, a lot of cars and motorcycles, and people selling stuff on the roads. You can spend two hours on the road going to a place you can reach in half an hour in a normal situation. Thanks to the traffic jams, though, Iyana can come up with a lot of stories, mostly shorties, as she prefers to spend the time during her trips writing into her cell phone rather than sleeping.

Another thing Iyana loves is kitties. Right now she has three of them. Their names are Cil, Horus, and Betsy, and one kitten. When she doesn’t write, she plays with them, or they would play with her when she writes.

Author Links: Blog | Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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The Giveaway:

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Izzy van Swelm, Wilde City Press

Character Interview and Giveaway: The Soulmate for SIN Blog Tour With Izzy van Swelm

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The Novel Approach is pleased to have author Izzy van Swelm with us today as she tours to promote her debut novel Soulmate for SIN. Please join me in welcoming Izzy, enjoy the character interview, then be sure to enter for the chance to win a signed copy of the book. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

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Hello, can you tell us your name and who you are please?

Hello. I’m Sally Newton and I’m SIN’s mother. I live in a village outside of GTown with my husband, Snowy. (Brushes down front of skirt) He’s a lovely man, we’ve been married for thirty-five years and never a cross word. He’s an accountant…very respectable and loves his family. Don’t know how he puts up with me sometimes. (Giggles)

What can you tell us about the story in Soul Mate for SIN?

Hey, you asked the boys to describe their appearance in their interviews? This is just what happens, middle age women, we’re invisible. One minute you’re complaining with your girlfriends about sexist builders wolf whistling as you walk by, and the next…they don’t even look. (sighs tragically) Sorry, what was the question?

Um…your hair looks very nice…What can you tell us about the story…?

Thank you, I had it done especially for this interview. Yes…yes the story…Well it was all a bit hard, and a terrible shock. They’re all such lovely boys…I can’t understand it myself, and when I found out how and why!! Well I’m sure you understand how guilty we felt, Snowy and me. If I’d had any idea…well it’s no good looking back like that is it… we’d all do things differently if we had pre-knowledge wouldn’t we? Oh dear, I haven’t given too much away have I?

No, I can honestly say, you haven’t. As a mother do you have any problem with SIN being gay?

Good grief no. Why would I? He’s the same little boy he always was, just grown up. Listen to me… all a mother wants, or should want, is for their children to find a way in life to be happy, productive, fulfilled, and find a loving companion to go through that life with. SIN is a good boy and he’s had a lot to cope with, but he had us and his gorgeous boyfriend to get him through.

Part of me thinks it’s sad they have to ‘come out’ formally. Why don’t we just support and love our kids and be happy that they want to bring their boyfriends or girlfriends home to meet us, at all.

What will readers find if they read Soul Mate for SIN?

Well, they will find a good story…I think that’s important don’t you? Lots of nice people and a couple of not so nice…well it’s not like it first seems…oops…can’t say that. Some funny bits…I had a chuckle…some bits were a bit hard, but there you go things happen and you just go on don’t you? Oh and some sexy bits but I skipped over those…some things a mother doesn’t need to know…it’s quite tasteful I’m told. (Clears throat) oh and a lovely happy ending. :)

Thank you very much for your time Sally.

Oh you’re welcome. Anything for Izzy.

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SoulmateForSin_cvrTitle: Soulmate for SIN

Author: Izzy van Swelm

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Publication Date: 28 Jan 2015

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Genre: Contemporary, Gay, MM Romance

Blurb: The effects of an attack on SIN, a twenty-nine year old University lecturer, reach out fur-ther into his future than SIN could ever imagine. In a story, which seems doomed to start with an end, SIN learns about the forever kind of love, and how family is not just biological. ‘Soul-Mate for SIN’ shows how twists of fate can take a loving, but ordinary family, from a small market town in Lincolnshire, England and turn them into something extraordinary.

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Author BioAuthor Bio: Izzy van Swelm is English, but took her Mother in Law’s maiden name as a pen name. Izzy dreams of a world where all sentient species have rights and respect. A world where LGBTQ lovers and friends, old and young, can walk holding hands meeting nothing more than the occasional affectionate eye roll. A world where intelligence, gentleness and compassion are the overwhelming attributes of politicians, and religion is practiced by those who believe, but never forced on those who do not.

Izzy is a romantic, a dreamer, a vegetarian and just a little eccentric. Izzy writes because she loves to tell stories, and she hopes that her stories will bring happiness, enjoyment and maybe to some…a little hope.

Author Page | Facebook

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The Giveaway: A Signed Print Copy Of Soulmate for SIN

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Tour links:

27 Jan – Prism Book Alliance

28 Jan – Diverse Reader

29 Jan – RJ Scott

30 Jan – Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews

31 Jan – The Novel Approach

1 Feb – Rainbow Gold Reviews

2 Feb – The Hat Party

3 Feb – Hearts on Fire Reviews

4 Feb – JP Barnaby

5 Feb – Love Bytes

6 Feb – GGR Reviews

7 Feb – Kimi Chan Experience

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Kim, S.C. Wynne

Review: Falling into Love by S.C. Wynne

Title: Falling into Love

Author: S.C. Wynne

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 112 Pages

At a Glance: I liked what I read

Blurb: Chris Lambrough is having a run of bad luck. He’s lost his job and his boyfriend and is feeling depressed. His best friend Jenny tells him about an ad she’s noticed where The Muddy Mountain Ski Resort is looking for waiters. Chris has restaurant experience and since his New Years Resolution is to learn to ski, it seems like a nice opportunity to jump start his life.

Trevor Brown is a ski instructor at the resort. He befriends Chris right away, and they have undeniable chemistry. But Trevor has guilt over the death of his lover, Lane, two years earlier. Can the two of them learn to trust each other and move forward and forget the past?

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Review: Falling into Love starts off on New Year’s Eve, with Chris and Jenny doing their fair share of celebrating. When Christopher’s obnoxious ex-boyfriend, Riley, enters the restaurant with a new guy, the festive mood is dampened. And as if the evening couldn’t get any more depressing, Chris also confesses to Jenny that he’s just lost his job, and it looks like his employers are going to skip out on paying him.

Good ol’ Jenny has the solution to Christopher’s problems.

She’s heard of a resort that’s hiring seasonal help and thinks it would be the perfect opportunity for Chris to experience a change of scenery, with a chance for adventure. Since Chris has already made a New Year’s resolution to learn to ski, he figures…why not apply for the job? Jenny also makes the suggestion that if he meets anyone new, rather than immediately jumping into bed with a guy and finding out he’s a jerk later on, Chris should take his time to get to know the fellow first.

Now to Trevor: when he meets the new waiter, it’s lust at first sight. It’s kind of cute to see Chris sweat as Trevor does everything he knows how to, to seduce this cute guy, all to no avail. Trevor comes off as a bit of jerk when Chris tells him of his resolution to get to know a guy first before putting out, and Trevor starts to avoid him. Eventually, without revealing too much, the two get together and more is revealed when Chris has a near death experience.

S.C. Wynne is a fairly new author to me. I’ve only read a couple of her previous works and enjoyed them immensely. In the book’s dedication, she mentions this is her first attempt at lighthearted and romantic. How’d she do? Well, there were a couple of things that stood out and caused me to ponder. I don’t know if this will happen with any other readers, but I liked what I read. I would recommend Falling into Love if you’re into snow, near death experiences, and the insecurity of meeting someone new…who may still be hung up on his dead boyfriend.

Now Ms. Wynne, is there any chance that Riley and Mason might get together? These two bad boys seem to deserve each other.






You can buy Falling into Love here:

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2.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Shae Connor

Review: Unfortunate Son by Shae Connor

Title: Unfortunate Son

Author: Shae Connor

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 194 Pages

At a Glance: This book missed the mark for me

Blurb: Five years ago, Evan Day lost his lover in the Afghan sand, and in the fallout, he lost his military career and his family. With help from friends, he reinvented himself as porn star Trevor Hardball, but his scars are hidden, not healed. When Riley Yeats falls into Evan’s lap in a bar, he awakens a part of Evan he’d thought was dead and gone. Evan’s fascinated by the blond and twinky Riley, even though he’s the opposite of Evan’s usual type.

Then Evan’s family reappears his life, and Evan soon learns Riley has his own family-inflicted wounds—ones that make it hard for him to be there for Evan. A disastrous confrontation between Evan and his parents leaves Evan’s mother injured and Evan overcome by anger and fear. Losing his tenuous hold on his emotional control, Evan makes one bad decision after another, but maybe his final fall will be the wake-up call Evan needs to set things right—with his parents, and with Riley.

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Review: After reading the blurb for this book I was adamant that I had to read it. The premise was amazing, and I couldn’t wait to see how the story would unfold.

There was so much potential in this story, but I feel like the author relied too heavily on the stereotypical, overused storylines of the genre and forgot to give us the romance. I believed the pain Evan was in from losing his lover and his brother to a military that threw him away. I also cried over the fact that he lost his parents to their bigotry. When he finds himself down and out, he turns to porn to earn a living, and he really does enjoy his job—almost a little too much.

Riley, on the other hand, is a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and is surviving off his trust fund. The downside to that is the fact that his parents treat him as an embarrassment and have pretty much cut him completely out of their lives.

These two men are total opposites but somehow they work together. I say somehow because I don’t believe the author ever convinced me of the fact that they belong together. They come together, have a nice date, and then boom, they’re fighting and not talking to one another. This is a cycle that repeats itself in the book. The MCs have more sex with other people than they do with each other.

I was hoping for a romance with this story, but I feel like the romance was completely missing. All the conflicts the author created for these men were resolved off page or way too easily to be believed. Even though this book missed the mark for me, I would definitely give the author another read in the future.






You can buy Unfortunate Son here:

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5 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Love Lane Books, Meredith Russell, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Just Jack by Meredith Russell

Title: Just Jack

Author:  Meredith Russell

Publisher: Love Lane Books

Pages/Word Count: 149 Pages

At a Glance: Wonderfully written characters and a beautiful world where magic exists

Blurb: When the line between fairy tales and magic, and the real world become blurred, can love really conquer anything?

Leo Marsh is having a bad day. He just caught his boyfriend cheating on him, and not for the first time, then he falls, quite literally, for a man who has to be too good to be true…. When Leo slips and falls on some ice in front of Jack, Jack sees something all too familiar in Leo’s eyes. For over fifty years, Jack has existed in a solitary life of ice and bitterness. Just like Leo, he was betrayed by a man he loved, and swore no one would ever break his heart again: he gave up on love, and it seemed love had given up on him.

But if by fate or magic, Jack and Leo find their paths crossing for a second time, and with a little guidance from friends, dare to take a chance on each other. The problem is, Jack isn’t the charming and uncomplicated guy Leo thinks he is. When Jack gave away his ability to love, he became something else, someone cold and unloving. He became Jack Frost.

As Jack and Leo get closer, Jack is left torn and confused. Jack yearns for anything that reminds him of his humanity, but the truth is, he feels nothing, not warmth, not love, and he knows he might never be able to love Leo the way he deserves to be loved.

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Review: First off let me just say I love the cover of this novel. It’s stunning and fits the story so perfectly. The color is so eye-catching and really makes me think of Jack’s eyes, which are described often throughout the story and captivate Leo. And the cover model? Gorgeous.

With that out of the way, I have a confession to make. I adore the character Jack Frost and have had a mild obsession with him since watching Rise of the Guardians when it came out. I’m not ashamed to admit it. However, it was nice to see in a recent interview with the author that she, too, enjoyed the character, and this book is a result from that.

I loved it. Jack Frost might be a popular winter character in folk tales, but Russell gives him a new story. This Jack is not the only Frost out there, but one of many. He is a man who finds himself with a heart of ice after he gives up on love and is then doomed to exist forever without love.

The story broke my heart and had me tearing up often. I also laughed a lot, because while heartbreaking, Jack has a mischievous spirit which follows along with the tales many of us are familiar with.

And then there’s Leo. The book opens with him catching his boyfriend of several years cheating. Despite what should be a clear way out, Leo is torn because this isn’t the first time Mac has cheated. It’s the first time he’s caught him, but it has happened before, and he still loves him. After leaving, he runs into Jack—Just Jack—who helps him when he slips on the ice and hits his head.

Totally Jack’s fault, by the way.

While the two of them are attracted to each other and Leo wants more, there’s just one problem: how can a man with a frozen heart love someone? A man who cannot even feel the warmth of a human body? Oh yeah, and there’s one other teensy tiny problem with the whole magic ice thing: Leo doesn’t know who Jack really is.

This book really was fantastic. I loved the reimagining of the Jack Frost story, and what made it special was the idea that many Jacks exist, not just one. In fact, I would love to see more stories about Jack Frost from this author. Some people might think that would be repetitive, considering the characters would have the same name, but really, the possibilities are endless! Russell has taken a well-known story and made it her own with wonderfully written characters and a beautiful world where magic exists.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer






You can buy Just Jack here:

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Lynley Wayne

Guest Post: On Being Kind by Lynley Wayne

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This is a post I have started several times in the past. I start it and then I talk myself out of posting it and yet, this same issue seems to pop up again and again. I guess you could say it’s more a bunch of smaller issues that are part of a larger whole. Each time it happens I become more and more disheartened with social media, with the gay romance writing community, and with people in general.

I started writing gay romance, not because I wasn’t good enough to break into straight romance—although I’ve been accused of that in the past—but because I believe wholeheartedly in equality. I believe that it is a human right to be able to love whomever we want. That love is one of those things that is precious and should be celebrated.

I believe in treating people with respect; in accepting people for who they are, quirks and all. I believe that we are all different for a reason and each and every one of us can learn something valuable from those who appear so different at a glance.

At its core, the gay romance community is supposed to be a group of people who support equality and inclusivity. After all, we are a band of misfits and outcasts, most of us. Are we not? Of all people, we should know how it feels to be treated unkindly, to be judged at a glance, and to be hated for something outside of our control. If those things do not make us more compassionate, then the bullies, the haters, the ones who want nothing more than to remind us that we are different, they win.

With the growth and acceptance of the gay romance genre and the LGBTI community, I think we forget how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. So when I see things like authors bullying reviewers because they didn’t like the review they got, or reviewers writing hateful reviews that are less about the books and more about the writers, or the never-ending debate about whether or not women can write gay romance, or authors taking advantage of readers, bloggers, or other authors, those things make me sad. I haven’t been a part of this community that long and yet I have seen all of those things multiple times. It’s like there’s a cycle to them, one that needs to be stopped.

Each time you sit down at the computer, or pick up your tablet or smart phone, you need to remember that there is a real live, flesh and blood, human being on the other side of that screen. One that has feelings, feeling that can be hurt. Whoever wrote the rhyme, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” They were wrong. Bones heal and with time we forget the pain of that break. Words, however, they never really go away. Once said, an unkind word can haunt us for the rest of our lives, becoming part of that internal voice telling us that we are not good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, just…ENOUGH. Words can do more damage than anything else.

They can also heal. They can change the world. They can repair bridges and foster friendships.

As a group of avid readers, and of writers, you’d think the power of words would be obvious. That, we, of all people, would be more careful with the things we say.

Even as a writer, I don’t always say things the right way. Sometimes it takes me many, many drafts before I get it right. I like having the screen between the world and me. Not because I’m shy or anything, but because I often say things without thinking and I know I have inadvertently injured people in the past. This screen allows for me to be more thoughtful of my words, to edit myself in a way I can’t do in person.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I have gone back and forth about posting this online, more times than you can know. I worry that in doing so some people may feel like I am calling them out, when the truth is, I’m not. I’m not pointing fingers or referring to one specific incident. If you feel that I am, then I apologize, because that is not my intent.

The reason I decided to go ahead and write this post was because it is only when we bring things into the light and examine them honestly that we have a chance of changing who we can become. By acknowledging and making a conscious effort to be better, to do better is the only way we can grow. Keeping your head down and pretending that everything is fine, does nothing but perpetuate a society of bullies.

I refuse to be silent any longer. So I’m standing up and saying, “I know we can do better.”

~Lynley

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Rick R. Reed

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Blink Blog Tour With Rick R. Reed

Blink

The Novel Approach welcomes Rick R. Reed on the Blink blog tour. Enjoy Rick’s article, then be sure to enter for a chance to win an e-copy of the book Dinner at Home via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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On Writing What You Know

“Write about what you know and care deeply about. When one puts one’s self on paper — that is what is called good writing.” — Joel Chandler Harris

People argue all the time about the old adage: “write what you know.” I think many of the detractors of this advice take it too literally, surmising that one cannot write anything outside the limits of one’s own personal experience.

I don’t think that’s what the advice means. I think it can mean write what you know in your heart, what you know deep down, what living life has shown you—those experiences can breathe life into your characters and make your fictional world ring true. They are also your unique perspective on the human experience. You can write about other planets, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, early Romans, Hobbits or whatever and still write what you know.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this adage as one of my most autobiographical—and, I like to think, romantic—books comes out this month from Dreamspinner Press. Blink was inspired by a young man I used to know who today seems a stranger to me. That young man was myself, back in the early 1980s, when I had just graduated from college and moved to Chicago and was working as a catalog copywriter in my first job. I was also so far back in the closet I would have needed a passport just to see the hangers. I was engaged to be married to my college sweetheart, a lovely young woman from the north shore suburbs of the city—and trying to see myself living out the American dream: wife, eventually kids, the white picket fence….

Except there was that damn L train ride to work every day! On that ride, despite my desperate desire to be the straight, soon-to-be-married fellow I thought I was, I would have what I called sixty-second love affairs with good-looking guys on the train. You know, your eyes meet and hold that delicious contact for just a little longer than what’s proper—the eyes can communicate, really, so much more than the mouth. One of those fellows, a gorgeous Cuban man my own age, stuck in my head and stayed there through many, many years—through my marriage and divorce, through bringing up my son, through tried-and-fail relationships.

His name was Carlos. And despite the comfortable place I am now, I have always wondered what happened to him.

And there, in that wondering, is how a book gets born. In my story, many of the events that happened in the first part, in the early 1980s, really happened to me. I like to think I conveyed my conflict, my pains and joys adequately. I wrote what I knew.

The second half takes place in the world of what might have been—what might have happened if I had never met my husband and, alone, decided to go off in search of my Carlos from the L, from way back when. These days, with the help of social media and the likes, it’s not that hard to track down someone from your past. That’s what my character does. Even though the second half of the book is totally imagined, I like to think I was still writing what I know, because of its emotional truth, because of my belief in the lasting and sustaining power of love.

I hope you’ll give Blink a chance. It conveys—through characters, time, place, emotions, and love—what I’m trying to say above in the form of a journey I hope you’ll take with me.

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Blink400x600Blurb: Life can change in the blink of an eye. That’s a truth Andy Slater learns as a young man in 1982, taking the Chicago ‘L’ to work every morning. Andy’s life is laid out before him: a good job, marriage to his female college sweetheart, and the white picket fence existence he believes in. But when he sees Carlos Castillo for the first time, Carlos’s dark eyes and Latin appeal mesmerize him. Fate continues to throw them together until the two finally agree to meet up. At Andy’s apartment, the pent-up passion of both young men is ignited, but is snuffed out by an inopportune and poorly-timed phone call.

Flash forward to present day. Andy is alone, having married, divorced, and become the father of a gay son. He’s comfortable but alone and has never forgotten the powerful pull of Carlos’s gaze on the ‘L’ train. He vows to find him once more, hoping for a second chance. If life can change in the blink of an eye, what will the passage of thirty years do? To find out, Andy begins a search that might lead to heartache and disappointment or a love that will last forever….

Categories: M/M Romance, Gay Fiction

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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Rick ReedAbout the Author: Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Author Contact: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | E-mail

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The Giveaway:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Body and Soul by Jordan Castillo Price – Narrated by Gomez Pugh

Title: Body and Soul (PsyCop 3)

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Narrator:: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: JCP Books

Run Time: 4 Hours, 45 Minutes

At a Glance: Body and Soul asks much of Gomez Pugh’s talent, and he, in turn, delivers

Blurb: Thanksgiving can’t end too soon for Victor Bayne, who’s finding Jacob’s family hard to swallow. Luckily, he’s called back to work to track down a high-profile missing person.

Meanwhile, Jacob tries to find a home they can move into that’s not infested – with either cockroaches or ghosts. As if the house-hunting isn’t stressful enough, Vic’s new partner Bob Zigler doesn’t seem to think he can do anything right. A deceased junkie with a bone to pick leads Vic and Zig on a wild chase that ends in a basement full of horrors.

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Review: I’m hardly an e-book aficionado, considering Body and Soul is the third book in the PsyCop series and is exactly the third audiobook I’ve ever listened to, but I must say that when Gomez Pugh introduces the book, even the way he says Jordan Castillo Price’s name resonates on a scale of one to ten as a sexy eleven.

Book Three takes place at Thanksgiving time, which leads to Vic meeting Jacob’s family, which leads to some pretty interesting events around the dinner table. As this series is narrated in the first person from Vic’s point of view, we play witness to the fact, without him stating it point blank, that he has no real clue how to operate within or fit into a family dynamic. What makes it a great scene for the reader, if not for Vic, is the sight he’s treated to sitting across the table from Uncle Leon. I’m not going to say what that is, but it’s darkly humorous and is also a revelation of even the small things Vic is forced to acclimate to because of his sixth sense, not to mention it’s a great way to begin a book—nothing says meet-the-in-laws like a soupcon of the supernatural to add to the discomfort.

In Body and Soul, readers are treated to a greater understanding of Victor Bayne as a character. Details about his past and what he’s lived through are being parsed out in small doses in preparation for a more in depth set of revelations as the series progresses. The one thing we know about Vic for sure, almost from the first moment he’s on page, is that he is a survivor. Sure, he may have to use some pretty good narcotics to help him make it through most days, but with a “gift” like his, a medium’s gotta do what a medium’s gotta do. He shows us a deadpan (pun not intended) humor and a certain vulnerability but a growing confidence, as well, in his relationship with Jacob. Which is still in its infancy but is bringing Vic closer to a home in someone than he’s ever been before. Jacob is Vic’s new “normal”, a normal he can, and wants, to live with.

Vic and Jacob take an important step in their relationship, when Vic says yes to Jacob’s suggestion they move in together. Jacob, who’s always been nothing less than confident, shows a little vulnerability when Vic doesn’t seem to be as excited to live with him as he is to live with Vic. It was a revelation, this glimpse of how much Jacob really loves Vic and wants to be with him, but is willing to be with him on Vic’s terms. In turn, Vic realizes there’s never been anyone who makes him feel the way Jacob does, and let me tell you, it’s one thing to read a hot sex scene. It’s another thing entirely to have it read to you in a deep and seductive voice.

With Vic’s former partner, Maurice, retired; his partner for the blink of an eye, Lisa Gutierrez, falling off the radar while she’s away being trained how to be a PsyCop; and his last partner, Roger, trying to make a human guinea pig out of Vic, we’re introduced in this book to a new partner, Zig. Though he doesn’t say much—he’s not the talkative sort—his actions speak well enough for him and he seems a decent fellow, so prepare for him to be around awhile. Also prepare for a gruesomely touching scene between Vic and Zig that alone puts another macabre touch on what Vic lives with day in and day out.

Their first case together comes at the expense of Vic and Jacob’s long holiday weekend, but people are going missing and Vic gets called in to liaise with the non-living to try to figure out what’s happened to the men and women who’ve disappeared without a trace. The case itself turns out to be even more bizarre when it reveals itself to involve a spiritual ritualism that even Vic has never seen before (just when you think you’ve seen it all), and which gives this book its title. In working this case, we get the chance to see why Vic is such an asset to the “Spook Squad”, as well as why he’s the object of some scorn from the NPs—the non-PsyCops. We also get another delectable peek at Jordan Castillo Price’s imagination and her ability to draw readers in to her unreality.

It can’t be easy for a voice actor to narrate a book, especially considering the fact that actor is providing not only the narrative voice but the dialogue for every character in the book. This means the narrator must sort through his repertoire of accents and vocal pitches to find those that will fit within the story’s setting and suit not only the male but the female characters as well. What’s impressive about Pugh’s vocalization in Body and Soul is the range he manages to employ that brings to life an impressive number of role players in this book. Not only does he have Vic and Jacob down pat, but JCP has included Zig, as well as the Marks family, a few cops, Crash, assorted family members in a missing persons case, the kid at a hot dog stand, the perpetrators of a missing persons crime, and an assortment of ghosts in the book. Body and Soul asks much of Gomez Pugh’s talent, and he, in turn, delivers.

If you love speculative fiction at all, read all the books in this series, listen to the audiobooks that have already been released, love Victor Bayne and Jacob Marks as Jordan Castillo Price has written them, and get to know them a titch better in the way Gomez Pugh has brought them to life.






You can buy Body and Soul (PsyCop 3) here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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3.5 Stars, Amanda C. Stone, Reviewed by Sammy, Romantic Comedy, Self-Published

Review: The Adventures of Cole and Perry by Amanda C. Stone

Title: The Adventures of Cole and Perry

Author: Amanda C. Stone

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 77 Pages

At a Glance: A solid first foray into the m/m genre

Blurb: It all started when Cole met Perry in a bar. Over three years they had some exciting adventures, and misadventures. The six stories included in this book are all about their journey from bar to wedding.

The Anniversary
Another cancellation of plans by his boyfriend forces Cole out to the neighborhood bar. Not long after arriving he meets Perry. Even as exciting as Perry is, he’s unsure how the night will end.

The Fight
Cole and Perry are struggling to make time for each other and constantly at each other’s throats. A fight to the death will decide who is right or wrong in their arguments. But Cole really doesn’t want to shoot Perry.

The Threesome
Deciding they want to spice up things in the bedroom, Perry wants to have a one-time threesome. Cole’s nervous and doesn’t want to ask any of their friends to join them. Perry finds the perfect solution.

The House
After two and a half years together, Cole and Perry want to buy a house. Once they find the perfect house, they get to spend their first morning together in their new space. Perry will have to help Cole decide which room is his favorite.

The Baby
Both Cole and Perry are exhausted. Taking care of a three month old is hard when she’s up all night and is always hungry. If only they could find where they put the bottle warmer.

The Wedding
Cole is ready to make his commitment to Perry life-long. After careful planning, they created the perfect event. What could possibly go wrong? If only Cole didn’t ask the same question.

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Review: With her first novella, author Amanda C. Stone brings us two characters whose playful interactions and obvious love for each other is woven into a sweet romance presented in several short vignettes. Altogether, these chapters from Cole and Perry’s lives are like a roadmap of how the two men keep the passion alive in their relationship while finding a way to accept things about each other that often can derail a lasting partnership.

Perry is a self-employed accountant who works long hours and finds himself constantly having to cancel plans with his boyfriend, Cole. This leads to fighting and a dampening of what was once a healthy lust for each other. In an attempt to revive their passion, the boys indulge each other’s fantasies in the most playful and unique ways. But will it be enough to save their relationship?

The Adventures of Cole and Perry sets up each chapter by teasingly misleading the reader to believe one thing when in reality the opposite is true. This plot device of the bait and switch was well used and made some of the chapters, in particular, “The Threesome,” “The Fight” and “The Wedding” very clever and tongue in cheek. However, I would have liked to see the author change things up a bit in the other stories. I think making some of the stories more straightforward would have really highlighted the others, making them even funnier.

As for Cole and Perry, this novella highlighted Cole most effectively—this was really his story to tell and his voice was strong and very sweet. His worries about Perry and their commitment to each other produced one clever and hot encounter after another. I would have really enjoyed leaning more about Cole, his job and how he and Perry met and fell in love. While complete in themselves, I felt the stories would have been more cohesive if there had been a bit more back story and simple day-to-day living rather than so many stories ending in or highlighting a bedroom scene. The characters were so interesting I simply wanted to learn more about them.

The Adventures of Cole and Perry was a solid first foray into the m/m genre for Amanda C. Stone. I look forward to watching this author come into her own and develop her style and voice with each story she writes.






You can buy The Adventures of Cole and Perry here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, Carina Press, Eileen Griffin, Genre Romance, Nikka Michaels, Reviewed by Chris

Review: In the Raw by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

Title:  In the Raw (In the Kitchen: Book One)

Author:  Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages/Word Count: 209 pages

At a Glance: A really solid, highly enjoyable story that I’d consider reading again

Blurb: If you can’t take the heat…

James Lassiter has had a crush on fellow culinary student Ethan Martin for three years, but has never had the guts to make a move. Putting himself out there is hard, especially when under the thumb–and wallet–of his overbearing parents. Now that bad boy chef Ethan–who is always vying with Jamie for best in class–is struggling with the pastry course, Jamie suddenly has a reason to reach out.

Ethan doesn’t mean to be an ass–okay, so mostly he does–but even though he’s secretly hot for Jamie, he sure as hell doesn’t want help with pastry. Ever since his dad walked out, Ethan has been the one to hold things together and he’s done fine on his own. Except that he can’t get his cake to rise.

Jamie could be the answer to what Ethan’s been missing his whole life–someone to depend on. But with the two competing for the same scholarship, things suddenly get too hot to handle. And if Jamie finds the strength to go for what he wants, he isn’t about to settle for what he needs.

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Review: There is something utterly HOT about a man who really knows his way around food, and not just by eating.

Jamie and Ethan are fellow culinary school classmates in the same year, competing for the same elite scholarship. While Ethan is phenomenal at crafting a savory meal, when it comes to the intricacies of pastry, well, he is at a major loss and needs help. His help comes in the form of Jamie, by way of Ethan’s sister, Claire. With Ethan struggling over the pastry class, Claire ends up partnered with Jamie. She deviously works with Jamie to get Ethan to accept his help with figuring out what he’s doing wrong with the delicate pastries.

There’s an instant reaction between Jamie and Ethan because both have noticed the other in both good and bad ways. Ethan is a bit of a bad boy, he’s got ink, and major attitude that annoys the ever living hell out of some of his Chefs, his sister, and definitely Jamie. Jamie is the well put together kind of guy that normally irritates the hell out of Ethan, but he’s attracted to him even if he doesn’t want to be attracted.

While the heat moves from simmer to burn for our sexy chefs, the competition between them for the scholarship in Paris heats up. I’ll share that the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, which sets up the second book in the series.

This was the first book I’ve read by this writing team, and I’d definitely look for more from them. I really enjoyed Ethan and Jamie as characters, and the few secondary characters were well written. I’d have loved to see more interaction with Jamie and his family and maybe known a bit more about Ethan and Claire’s past. Otherwise, this was a really solid, highly enjoyable story that I’d consider reading again.

I’d recommend this for all those who love a man that knows how to cook, looks sexy in an apron, or sports a bit of the bad boy image with ink. Also, must love that bad boy and sexy chef attitude.

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You can buy In the Raw here:

Carina Press

Carina Press

 

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Amber Kell, Totally Bound

Guest Post and Excerpt: The Porter’s Reaper Blog Tour With Amber Kell

AmberKell_Porter's Reaper_BlogTour_WebBanner_finalThank you for allowing me to come and talk here at The Novel Approach.

What is it about magic that captures the imagination? Why do so many people enjoy reading about impossible realities with improbable situations? I like to think it’s the joy of what if? I play it a lot with my kids. A strange hole in the ground? What if a troll lived there? An odd indentation? Could be a giant’s footprint. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of the impossible and bringing them to life in a practical everyday situation. When I start a story it always begin with what if?

What if the hot cowboy fell in love with a cook or the cat shifter met the one person who completed him? What if it took place in space or in an alternative world? What ifs create stepping stones of my fictional worldsand with each answer a step is taken and a story is created.

I love stories. I don’t even have to write them. Most writers are word lovers first, people who enjoy the connection of each word to its friend until sentence after sentence is formed and a story unfolds to our eager eyes.

I write to share my love of storytelling. I’m thrilled that some people enjoy reading my books and the impossible scenarios that drift through my random mind. This time I’m sharing the story Porter’s Reaper -of Alstair, one of Hades’s Reapers and his love interest Porter who was a ghost in Elijah’s Ghost. I enjoyed Alstair’s character, a tough man who couldn’t resist the allure of an innocent ghost turned to flesh.

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Excerpt from Porter’s Reaper:

He reached their appointed location and spotted Alstair leaning against the wall. The Reaper oozed power, influencing the flow of walkers to move around him—one demon even grabbed his friend who had stepped too close to Alstair and yanked him away. Porter never understood the fear some demons had for Alstair. Porter hadn’t heard any stories about Alstair being anything more than Hades’ right-hand man, but maybe that was enough to scare the others. The God of the Underworld didn’t suffer fools gladly and neither did his Reapers. He’d heard Alstair was the strongest of them all because he’d been around the longest. Maybe seniority had its perks.

“Ready?” Alstair asked when Porter neared. He raised an eyebrow when he caught sight of the kitten but didn’t say anything. He had said Porter could bring him along.

“Yes, Hades provided me with a pack.” He lifted the shoulder he’d propped the pack onto. “I’m sure he included lots of lube.” Alstair smirked.

Porter laughed, sounding more nervous than amused to his own ears. “How did you know that?”

“Hades is an eternal optimist. He’s always hoping people will get laid. I heard Persephone cut him off a year ago when he tried to seduce a nymph. Since then he’s become well acquainted with his hand. I think he’s hoping his subjects will at least get some of the sex he’s missing.”

“I’m sorry I asked.” Heat burned Porter’s cheeks. Even after a year in the Underworld, he hadn’t become accustomed to their open ways concerning sex. He hoped Alstair didn’t laugh when he tried to seduce him. No doubt he’d look more like an idiot than a potential love interest. A quick flickered gaze over Alstair firmed his resolve along with the rest of his body. Yeah, it would be worth a bit of humiliation for the chance to be in Alstair’s bed.

Alstair laughed and patted Porter on the back. “Come on. I didn’t mean to scar you for life. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”

Which just proved Alstair had no mindreading skills, if he didn’t know Porter dreamed about seducing the Reaper.

“I know. I’ve just never had anyone that interested in my sex life.” If that didn’t give Alstair ideas, he would hang up his seduction hat.

Alstair’s mouth curled up in a sexy smile. “I find that very difficult to believe. I’m sure more guys are interested in your sex life than you think. Assuming you are interested in men. I don’t like to assume.”

Porter licked his dry lips and locked his gaze with Alstair’s. “Very interested.”

Heat sizzled between them and not all of it caused by the flaming river winding alongside the walkway.

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Blurb for Porter’s ReaperThis is book five in the A Wizard’s Touch series, see the full series listing here

Death is a minor inconvenience in the path to true love.

When the God of the Underworld sends Alstair back to the Academy to help pick out a new headmaster, he doesn’t mention he put Alstair in for the job. Angered but willing to keep his word, Alstair discovers the headmaster position comes with more knots of deception than a sailor’s rope.

Porter Exton had a crush on Alstair. He’d watched Alstair train Elijah through the window and had spent more than one night dreaming of the Reaper. However, dreams were set aside in order to discover the truth about his death and if the man who killed him is responsible for the other deaths at the school.

Two men with different backgrounds need to discover what they have in common if they hope to save themselves from plotting gods, egomaniacs and possible killers.

Like the sound of Porter’s Reaper? Buy it here.

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Author BioAbout Amber Kell:

Amber Kell has made a career out of daydreaming. It has been a lifelong habit she practices diligently as shown by her complete lack of focus on anything not related to her fantasy world building.

When she told her husband what she wanted to do with her life he told her to go have fun.

During those seconds she isn’t writing she remembers she has children who humor her with games of ‘what if’ and let her drag them to foreign lands to gather inspiration. Her youngest confided in her that he wants to write because he longs for a website and an author name—two things apparently necessary to be a proper writer.

Despite her husband’s insistence she doesn’t drink enough to be a true literary genius she continues to spin stories of people falling happily in love and staying that way.

She is thwarted during the day by a traffic jam of cats on the stairway and a puppy who insists on walks, but she bravely perseveres.

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AmberKell_Porter's Reaper_BlogTour_BlogDates_final

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Giveaways, Less Than Three Press, Lexi Ander

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Songs of the Earth Blog Tour With Lexi Ander

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The Novel Approach is please to welcome author Lexi Ander on the Songs of the Earth blog tour. Enjoy Lexi’s guest post and then be sure to enter her giveaway. Details and the Rafflecopter widget are below.

Good luck!

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Pieces of the Past

I love world building because it feeds the geek in me. Taking a point of interest and researching all the hows and whys makes me a very happy girl. Sometimes it’s equal parts fun and frustrating, especially when looking into ancient history. The internet is great but the validity of the data can be questionable. Even so, some real gems can be found, especially if I get my hands on archeological data—lists of what was found at grave sites or in buried forgotten cities. Statues and earthenware, descriptions of motifs on vases and bowls, the layout of temples—all of it stirs my imagination and give me tidbits of details to add to my stories.

It is from these that I have drawn seem aspects of Sumeria’s Sons such as the use of copper, lapis lazuli, and the color red worn when mourning. There were some things that couldn’t be transferred over, such as clothing. Everyone wore wraps or robes with bare calves, sometime without sandals. This is a detail that someone couldn’t get away with in modern times without drawing attention and turning a few heads.

Being a prince, I wanted Tristan to have formal wear that set him apart and sorta screamed, “I’m your king!” and yet still be able to blend in with human society if needed. The clothing of ancient Sumeria wouldn’t do, so I looked around and pulled inspiration from other places. What tickled my fancy was the formal wedding dress from Pakistan and India. Absolutely gorgeous. I used the design as a basis for creating formal clothing that Tristan would eventually need.

Even though there are hints of the Lycan’s origins doesn’t mean everything has a Sumerian flare. I think the guys look best in their Levi button flies, broken in cowboy boots, and Stetson hats but around them pieces of that past are there to remind them of their origins. It’s no different than my great grandmother’s carnival glass sitting in my china cabinet or the wall sconces that came from my husband’s grandparent’s home. What has been handed down in your family?

Bonus: Just recently there was an article in Newsweek Tech & Science that featured four songs that were taken from ancient Sumerian cuneiform tablets. The songs are being sung in a language 3000 years gone and is quite beautiful to listen to.

Thank you for stopping by and reading! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway before you leave. ^_^

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PrintBook Title: Songs of the Earth
Series: Sumeria’s Son #2
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 49.000 words
Genre : Paranormal, Fantasy , Urban Fantasy
Release Date: January 7 , 2015
Cover artist: LeBurden Design

Blurb: Thrust into the role of Prince of the Lycans, Tristan strives to find his footing in a life suddenly rife with secrets and lies—and danger. Betrayed by a Goddess meant to safeguard him, desperate to protect his consort and their growing tribe, he can only prepare for the worst and struggle to hope.

And then the worst comes to kill them…

Buy Links: LT3 Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks

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Lexi Bio PicAbout the Author: Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | E-mail | GoodReads

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The BIG Giveaway: Click the Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the following prizes

First Prize: $20 Amazon Gift card, $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Songs of the Earth, swag (pens, bookmarks, coffee cup)
Second Prize: $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Songs of the Earth, swag (pens, bookmarks, coffee cup)
Third Prize: hard copy of Songs of the Earth, swag (pens, bookmarks, coffee cup)
Fourth Prize: e-book copy of Songs of the Earth
Fifth Prize: e-book copy of Songs of the Earth

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5 Stars, DSP Publications, Felicitas Ivey, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Dreamlands by Felicitas Ivey

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Dreamlands

Author: Felicitas Ivey

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 290 Pages

At a Glance: Fantasy and urban fantasy collide in the most epic way possible

Blurb: The Trust and its battle-hardened recruits are fighting a horrific war, a war between the humans of this world and the demons of the Dreamlands. In this shadowy battle, Keno Inuzaka is merely a pawn: first an innocent bystander imprisoned and abused by the Trust, then a captive of a demononi when taken to the Dreamlands.

But oni SamojirouAboshi treats the human with unexpected care and respect, and the demon only just earns Keno’s trust when a team from the Trust arrives to exploit the Dreamlands’ magic.

As the war spreads across both worlds, Keno is torn between them. If he survives, he faces a decision: go home and carve out a new life under the Trust’s thumb… or stay in the Dreamlands and find freedom in love.

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Review: Oh my God, this book. I stayed up way too late reading it when I had to work the next morning, and after I had been sick for days, but it doesn’t matter; it was so worth it.

Felicitas Ivey has created an imaginative, beautiful world where mythology lives on, and an alternate, urban fantasy world for us where sometimes those demons from the Dreamlands cross over into ours. The creatures are fantastic and vivid, the characters are engaging, and the situations are explosive.

The story is told through the perspectives of three very different characters: Samojirou, and oni from the Dreamlands; Keno, a young man kidnapped by the Trust, abused by them, and then kidnapped by the “demons”; and Mason, a TC from the Trust who is starting to question everything that happens. Each voice is unique because of the different ways they interact with the world. There are secondary characters that are just as strong, who you either love or loathe and want to die in the most vicious way possible.

I should warn readers that the story does not start off pleasant. Both the world of the Trust and the world of the Dreamlands can be brutal. Ironically (or maybe not), it’s our world that seems to be worse even though the Dreamlands are filled with monsters and demons. When reading this, the line between monster and human starts to blur and you start to question, what makes a monster? As I said, the story does not start off in a lovely happy place. There is violence, gore, and rape. The rape is not shown on the page, though, but is mentioned several times as it drives some of the characters throughout the novel.

While there is a romance element to Dreamlands, it is not the focus, so if you’re looking for straight up romance, or fantasy with a heavy romance element, this is not the book for you. But I think you should give it a chance anyway, because the book is that awesome. And while this is the first in a series (and what looks like it could be a very long one!), if you don’t want to get invested in a lengthy series no worries; the novel ends in a place where this could stand alone. While I want to read more—and believe me, I most definitely will read more—I am completely satisfied with the ending. I want more of the characters, but all of the threads were closed up by the end of the book and I wasn’t left hanging. It was such a relief to read a book like that!

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I look forward to seeing more of the characters in this series and watching Samojirou and Keno’s relationship progress even more.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Dreamlands here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

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4 Stars, Holiday Romance, MLR Press, Reviewed by Rena, S.A. Garcia

Review: The Green Man’s Bounty by S.A. Garcia

Title: The Green Man’s Bounty

Author: S.A. Garcia

Publisher: MLR Press

Pages/Word Count: 68 Pages

At a Glance: A worthwhile read, though the satisfaction came more from the exploration of rich traditions and the focus on traumatized, displaced children than from anything romantic or fantastical

Blurb: Can a Druid accept Christmas by helping WW2 orphans?

When a war-torn Druid meets his legendary Green Man, he discovers a new meaning to Christmas by helping Jewish orphans.

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Review: I’ll have to admit, the blurb for this book is too skimpy for anyone to get a clear idea of what the book is really about. On the whole, it’s well-written on a technical level; there’s quite a bit of attention paid to religion – at least on the pagan side of things, in a manner of speaking. But we do get to enjoy a more diverse picture of paganism and how religion runs a full spectrum. There’s no black-and-white dichotomy of Christianism and paganism. In fact, we get to see – through Lynn – a nice blending of both in that he considers himself a Christian pagan and provides us a quick explanation toward the end of the book.

I do have issues regarding the way the book’s categorized, beyond it being a historical romance. It’s marketed as fantasy as well, but the fantasy is more about the atmosphere of the holiday season with so many different religions coming together in a lovely, harmonious way. There are no fantastical elements in the sense that there are no otherworldly or supernatural entities involved. There are several references to Mother Earth in addition to certain traditions practiced by Roger, who belongs to the Ancient Order of the Druids. He fondly refers to Lynn as his “Green Man”, and while that term certainly fixes the story firmly in its physical setting, it’s by no means a literal description of Lynn. Roger makes occasional references to Old Man Winter and Mother Nature as though they were actual characters, but those references appear to be more in line with the Druid’s way.

So, no, besides the rich pagan traditions that add so many layers and color to the story, there aren’t any fantasy elements I could see.

The plot itself is pretty idly paced, which works very well with the chosen period (the winter season and Christmas, not necessarily post-WWII). The conflict is also very light, if any, and that really only involves the orphaned Jewish children Roger and Lynn take in for Christmas and how they adapt to the temporary arrangements. There’s also the ongoing reminder of the illegal nature of gay relationships as well as paganism – at least in some places for the latter (residence and employment). But those are really barely touched on, and we’re simply reminded of those not because of actual situations that are explored in great detail, but because Roger mentions it a few times in addition to a couple of fleeting instances in which we’re shown the fear of discovery.

Since the plot revolves around the nature of Christmas and the plight of the orphaned children, I didn’t get much by way of the romance. Yes, there are sex scenes, and the book’s climactic moment – no pun intended – is a long, detailed erotic scene for our two heroes. But I didn’t sense much chemistry between Lynn and Roger, largely because the rest of the story’s heavily weighted in favor of those two points I mentioned. Not that it’s a bad thing, mind you, but if you’re looking for a sweet romance or even a torrid one, this book offers a little of both but not necessarily an emotionally convincing connection.

In the end, I still found this book a worthwhile read, though the satisfaction really came more from the exploration of rich traditions and the focus on traumatized, displaced children than from anything romantic or fantastical.






You can buy The Green Man’s Bounty here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk, Yeyu

Guest Post: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and DSPP Author Yeyu

DSP Publications

Hello and happy Humpday, everyone! I’m here today with DSP Publications author Yeyu to talk about her new release The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) and something I bet you haven’t thought about before—Chinese Historical Fantasy.

I know, right? You’re all in for a pretty awesome glimpse into Chinese history and literature. So buckle up, because I think you’re going to be as fascinated as I was.

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o-the-relics-of-godBlurb: What is worse: Being so broke you can barely afford food, getting hired for dangerous missions way out of your league, suffocating under mountains of unanswered questions—or wanting to sexually dominate someone who can kill you without lifting a finger?

Lu Delong is a mercenary who evaluates antiques most of the time and deals with the paranormal on rare occasions—even though it’s supposed to be the other way around. When he joins a dangerous quest for an ancient artifact, he meets and becomes strongly attracted to a mysterious and powerful immortal named Cangji. Despite his friends’ warnings and Cangji’s icy, unsociable demeanor, Delong is unable to resist befriending him. However, Cangji is deeply involved in a matter beyond mortals, and Delong is drawn into a chaotic struggle by both visible and invisible forces.

Always the pacifist who wanted to live a simple human life, Delong never imagined he’d end up involved in a conflict that will affect everything from the lowest insects on earth to the highest gods in heaven.

Buy links etc. can be found at the end of the post, so let’s get right to it.

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Carole: Thanks for being with us today, Yeyu. I’m a huge Fantasy geek, so I was excited to see your novel The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) released. For those who don’t have much experience with the Fantasy side of literature, explain to us what your genre is all about.

Yeyu: The genre I’m writing in is fantasy, but rather than being a Western fantasy, what I’m writing is more akin to (modern) Chinese historical fantasy.

Granted, the amount of research I’d have to spend on Western historical fantasy would probably be about the same as what I’d spend on a Chinese historical fantasy, and I may even have a less painful time for a Western historical, since most of the materials I used for my research are in classical Chinese and trying to read those gives me massive headaches. However, I’ve always been quite fascinated by the Chinese fantasy genre.

Being raised under Chinese values and culture, I grew up watching cartoons and reading comics of the classic Journey to the West alongside Disney. While I can’t claim to know/remember every detail of how the story went in Journey to the West, it nevertheless left a deep impression on me.I remember that I used to watch the cartoon about the Baigujing (white bone spirit) over and over again, and even though it has been a long time already, I still vividly remember how the story went. Several famous scenes such as the one involving the white bone spirit are pretty much as familiar to the average native Chinese-speaker as the classic Disney cartoons are to the current generation. Everyone remembers there are powerful magical tools, immortals/gods, Chinese alchemy, monsters, mythology, etc. As such, Journey to the West has a sizable influence on Chinese culture. It has been played time after time for entertainment purposes ever since it was writtenin the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and it is also the shining example of the Chinese fantasy genre better known as shenmo(神魔)fiction, or literally, gods & demons fiction.

Of course,Journey to the Westdrew on earlier classics such asIn Search of the Supernatural (compiled 350 CE), which traces its influences all the way back to a book that pretty much shaped all East Asian folklore, The Classic of Mountains and Seas (written 4th century BCE, the Nine-Tailed Fox being the most famous folklore). Needless to say, I have not read those classics because I lack the Chinese proficiency to understand the cryptic words without banging my head against the wall in frustration. However, much of my research is based on the accumulated folklore/mythology recorded in those ancient texts.

So how does modern Chinese fantasy differ from classical fantasy? Well,in the 1930s, Chinese fantasy eventually transformed into what is commonly called “xianxia”(仙俠) fiction, which literally translates to “immortals & heroes” fiction, which somewhat combines the shenmogenre with the somewhat better-known wuxia genre (think “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” for wuxia). Immortals & heroes fiction, despite having elements of magic and the supernatural, usually focuses on the process of understanding “Dao”as characters journey and experience the secular society. Gods are referenced, and the outcome of events are already predetermined by fate so some immortal/highly trained people can see the predestined future. However, gods or even the notion of becoming immortal bear little importance to the general plot. Instead, much of the story’s focus is “heroism”, so it is more similar to its less fantastical counterpart.

With the rise of online serial fiction in recent years, however, a new genre emerged from the immortals & heroes genre—xiuzhenfiction (修真), which literally translates to “training to become immortal” fiction. Unlike traditional immortals & heroes fiction, xiuzhenfiction approaches fantasy in a manner that is more similar to the gods & demons fiction mentioned before, where gods are frequently mentioned and also play an integral role to the plot.The main focus of the story, as the genre name implies, is to become so powerful the main character eventually attains immortality (as opposed to performing acts of heroism). As such, there is almost always a systematic “level-up” system which has its roots in Daoist internal alchemy. As the setting is not limited to historical China,xiuzhen fiction is pretty much the biggest and most popular fantasy genre in the Chinese community, with several subgenres of its own (note that the highly popular wuxia genre is not thought of as “fantasy” in the community. Instead, it is considered supernatural fiction, and it is an independent genre by itself”).

The story I’m writing is in the mythological subgenre of xiuzhenfiction, which, in my opinion, is a pretty good representation of Chinese culture. I enjoy reading stories and playing games with that setting, and as mentioned several times elsewhere before, I also happen to have a grand vision to share my culture with anyone who is interested in seeing what it’s about. So, when I was almost finished writing my Chinese historical Erasing Shame, I thought: why not write a Chinese (Daoist)fantasy after this? At the moment it didn’t seem there were many English ones available. And thus, I ended up writing this genre, not only to share my culture with non-Chinese readers, but also provide a story that is familiar to ethnic Chinese who can’t read Chinese.

Carole: Wow. So with all that going on, why M/M?

Yeyu: I’ve been a fan of BL since I was 10 years old or something. I am now 24 years old and still an avid fan. I don’t know why either, haha. I just don’t feel that same kind of excitement with M/F fics.

Carole: Many would agree, Yeyu. That’s why we’re all here! ;) Okay, so, let’s move on to The Relics of the Gods. How is this book different from a lot of Western fantasies?

Yeyu: The Relics of Gods is about an average-ish half-human and half-deer mercenary’s quest to woo a powerful immortal. Unlike most fantasy stories, the story’s main character is not really on a quest to save the world. He’s not anangsty or angry anti-hero, per se, but I think readers who finish the book will know what I mean.

Also, as the synopsis implies, the main character prefers being dominant in bed and the love interest is the “bottom”—there will be no switching. This is not a BDSM book and the sex they have probably doesn’t even count as D/s, and there is no D/s dynamic outside of bed (in my opinion, anyway). So, despite writing BL, which means my story does adhere to some “yaoi” tropes, I have a feeling traditional yaoi lovers who embrace the fragile but beautiful uke & tough and alpha seme trope will not really enjoy my story, just as I don’t enjoy reading mainstream dynamics. The main character is also nowhere near being an alpha dude, so I suppose a lot of mainstream M/M readers will not enjoy the story as much.

Carole: The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for non-romance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in The Relics of the Gods and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Yeyu: Although romance drives my story, there isn’t a lot of “romance” in the book. In fact, the love interest spends a lot of time off-page because I wrote the story entirely from the main character’s point of view. One of my readers even told me she would enjoy the story even without the romantic element, so I’m assuming she didn’t see a whole lot of romance in the story. While that perplexed me, since personally I think the story is by far the mushiest and fluffiest tale I’ve written, I suppose other romance readers probably also won’t find my book a “romance” book. I can easily imagine them criticizing the story for containing few scenes of emotional connection or interaction between the MC and LI. They are right, but that means they probably aren’t my target audience.

If I had to put my finger down on it, my book is kind of like those chivalric romances—it is“romance”. Just not quite a book of the romance genre, in a modern sense. Instead, it is more of a genre fiction with action & adventure. As such, I think DSP Publications is a perfect imprint for my story. People will want to pick my book up because they know romance is secondary to the plot, and they would hopefully have a more pleasant reading experience now that their expectations are in the correct place. I’d hate to let any reader waste their time and money on a novel they don’t enjoy.

Carole: So, what do you think, say Amazon would recommend alongside your book? “If you liked ________, you love The Relics of the Gods.”

Yeyu: I don’t have any examples of books in the genre I write, since I don’t think there are any English fictions specifically in my genre (I haven’t looked hard, though.) I suppose the closest story that is also available in English is The Journey to the West, but as I’ve said earlier, xiuzhen fiction is quite different.

Carole: Good point. It’s tough to be original! :) All right, so tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept, and when did it begin to take the form of The Relics of the Gods?

Yeyu: Other than wanting to share Chinese culture, I wanted to write a dynamic I wanted to read. This is because my tastes in M/M dynamics are very, very niche. Like almost impossible to find niche. Where most people expect BL (and its more notorious counterpart “yaoi”) to have that emotional, lovesick and often dude-in-distress uke and cool, powerful seme, my tastes are what you would call “reverse mainstream”. Thus, while mainstream fiction often has a powerful and gorgeous top sexually dominating a weaker, normal-ish guy, I wanted to imagine a normal-ish guy dominating a super powerful and gorgeous bottom. I wanted D/s-y dynamics in bed, but with non-traditional tops and bottoms.

I also wanted to strictly read from the top’s POV.

As you can predict, I had difficulty finding such stories. I can sometimes find similar tropes in Chinese BL, but those are few and far between, not to mention the plot or writing won’t necessarily be to my taste.So, I ended up writing such a dynamic myself.

Moreover, before I wrote the book, I was pretty influenced by Nanpai Shanshu’s The Grave Robbers’ Chronicles as well, so I started off wanting to write something semi-similar as it is another genre in Chinese fiction I really enjoyed. (For those who know what that fic is about, yes there is a strong similarity between two important characters that spawned many fanfictions, but I always liked those character tropes in pairings and always ship pairings like that in fandom—it was the reason I picked that book up in the first place, to read it as a BL story….)

Carole: Ah, “I write what I like to read”, the anthem of so many authors. Is this why you felt this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Yeyu: There is no particular reason. My story is M/M for the same reason most genre fiction is M/F…which is no reason at all, except I felt like it because that’s what I like to read. I write what I want to read.

Homosexuality is not an issue in my fiction because it was actually pretty common in the Ming Dynasty, which is the time period my story is set in. So many government officials and rich nobles played with men and even some emperors did, too—no one in their right mind during that era would truly outlaw homosexuality. If there was any law trying to curb gay sex during that time, it did not work. Gay sex was apparently so rampant during the Ming Dynasty it disgusted Western visitors.

Of course, gay relationships were usually in a heteronormative sense where one guy had to be the “woman” and would be somewhat looked down on by the society thanks to widespread misogyny, but in general, same sex relationships were not taboo as long as it did not interfere with marrying and having children. Furthermore, the Confucian value of filial piety to the parents is usually ignored in Chinese fantasy fiction, as many fantasy main characters are orphans and all will leave their family behind to train, so there are no filial piety issues. Not to mention, Chinese fantasies are often Daoist/Buddhist and not necessarily Confucian-influenced. Altogether, there is no real obstacle to M/M in Chinese fantasy.

In fact, there would actually be slightly more obstacle in writing a M/F romance if I wanted to be strict in terms of how the historical society functioned (which few modern Chinese authors take into consideration), since most “cultured” Han Chinese women during the Ming Dynasty stayed home with those horrid bound feet and all. As such,the woman in a straight couple would likely face more criticism than a gay couple would, since no one would know the two dudes are gay. Even if they knew, as I’ve mentioned, it’s not that big of a deal. Sure, some scholars may be disgusted or some idiots would mock feminine men, but that’s about it.

Carole: Okay, we’re wrapping up here, but before we go—give us the answer to a IAQ (Infrequently Asked Question™) about this book that no one will probably ever ask you about, but you think is pretty cool.

Yeyu: I mentioned Duanwu/Dragon Boat festival in the story and it was really minor. However, I’d like to mention that there are actually two versions of the historical origin of the festival and how the dragon boat racing came to be (both related to a deceased official—the more widely known official to be Qu Yuan, and the other to be Wu Zixu). What’s more, some modern scholars suspect that the original reason people engaged in dragon boat racing was actually not related to any deceased official, but rather it was a practice from prehistoric times when people still worshipped dragons. The theory was the Han Chinese government wanted to exert Confucian values and came up with origin stories to link the dragon boat racing to actual history as opposed to mythology.

Carole: Wow, Yeyu, that was as fascinating as I thought it would be. Thank you for taking time with us today, and thank you to Lisa and the TNA gang for having us. A preview of The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) is available on Amazon.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Yeyu wrote her first story when she was 7, and she has been creating stories on-and-off ever since, be it writing fanfiction or drawing original manga. She finally ventured into writing original fiction in high school, and stuck with the form.

Most of Yeyu’s childhood was spent overseas, but she is currently living in a small East Asian island most commonly known as Taiwan, where she was born.

When Yeyu isn’t writing in her spare time, she is probably reading, gaming, or sleeping. No cats, sadly.

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Order The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) now in ebook and paperback HERE and HERE.

Follow Yeyu on her website and on Twitter.

Next time on Genre Talk, Andrea Speed talks Paranormal!

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Giveaways, Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Twilight Gods by Hayden Thorne

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The Twilight Gods is a retelling of the Native American folktale, “The Girl Who Married a Ghost.” Set in Victorian England, it’s an alternative perspective on a gay teen’s coming-out process, with Norris’ journey of self-discovery couched in magical and supernatural terms and imagery.

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thetwilightgodsBLURB: London during the Great Exhibition of 1851 is a new world of technological advances, eye-popping inventions, and glimpses of exotic treasures from the East. For fifteen-year-old Norris Woodhead, it’s a time of spectral figures mingling with London’s daily crowds and an old rectory in a far corner of the English countryside — a great house literally caught in time, where answers to curious little mysteries await him.

Confined by his family’s financial woes, Norris suffers a lonely and unsatisfying time till the day he (and only he) notices “shadow-people” in the streets. Then a strange widow appears, rents a vacant room in the house, and takes him under her wing. She becomes his guardian, slowly revealing those shadows’ secrets, Norris’ connection with them, and the life-altering choices he has to face in the end.

Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt: “My dear Master Norris,” Mrs. Cavendish said, momentarily pausing in her work and regarding him with those pale, mysterious eyes, “if your mother is behaving in ways that don’t seem like her, it’s because she’s undergoing changes as well.”

“Changes!” Norris echoed, his eyes widening. “Do you mean to say that she’s also one of the shadow-people?”

Mrs. Cavendish laughed heartily, reaching out and tousling Norris’ hair with a certain motherly affection. “Oh, heavens, no!” she said once she’d regained mastery of herself. “Your mother is just like most of the world, my dear boy. Whatever changes she undergoes are in some way or another affected by your own changes and the decisions you make. Remember that she’ll always be touched by the path you take in the end. Mothers are like that, you know. They can’t bear to let go of their children, even when it’s warranted.”

“Changes,” Norris echoed again, shaking his head and frowning. “I suppose I am going through changes right now. I can’t say what they are, but I feel them – or at the very least, I’m growing more and more aware of certain things that I’ve never even considered before.”

Mrs. Cavendish’s smile remained as she listened to her young charge. Yes, Norris couldn’t help but think, he was her charge now, the way he was never Mr. Garland’s.

Penelope from 'The Odyssey' was my inspiration for Mrs. Cavendish, who's forever sewing her tapestry.

Penelope from ‘The Odyssey’ was my inspiration for Mrs. Cavendish, who’s forever sewing her tapestry. In the original fairy tale, Mrs. Cavendish’s character is Screech Owl, who guides a terrified bride through the island of the dead.

“It’s most certainly the latter point,” she said. “If you’re growing more and more aware of things, unusual ones, about yourself, don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be afraid of knowledge. Learn what you can, my dear. Take advantage of the opportunities that are opening before you. Believe me when I say that there are others out there like you who aren’t as fortunate in the way they perceive their hearts and their souls.”

“What do you mean?”

“They fear change, you see. They fear being different. They were simply not taught to open their minds to things that challenge what we’ve all long held to be true, but I really don’t think we should blame them or their families. It simply is the nature of our time. Things will get better, I assure you. They will.”

Norris stared at her. “You speak as though you’ve seen the future,” he stammered.

“Time, my dear. I see both directions of Time’s road. If I make strange references to what’s yet to come, it’s because I see the need to reassure you, if not enlighten you to a point.”

Mrs. Cavendish spoke with such calm and clarity, her manner a mixture of lightness and gravity. As she talked, the shadows cast by the parlor’s interior shifted on her face, lending her complexion an otherworldly translucence in brief periods. Her pale, pale eyes alternated shades as well, from the usual spectral blue to a deeper and stormier gray. Through all this, she kept her gaze on him, watching him watch her. Norris tried not to pull away in a reflexive effort at hiding his warring thoughts and senses. Instead, he readily opened himself up to her, as though sensing this was the next step that was expected of him in their relationship.

I couldn't find any good representations of the twilight rectory, but Tintern Abbey comes fairly close to the physical embodiment of infinity.

I couldn’t find any good representations of the twilight rectory, but Tintern Abbey comes fairly close to the physical embodiment of infinity.

Prove to me that you aren’t afraid, she challenged with her fixed gaze and shifting colors.

I’m not afraid. Not yet.

You’ll soon find your choices stretching out before you, Norris Woodhead. Will you be strong enough to take one path over the other?

I will. I know I will.

Don’t be so sure. Stronger men have decided self-denial and sacrifice, and while many of them prove their choices to be good ones, there are some who suffer so many regrets for the rest of their lives.

Either way, I’m bound to lose something, aren’t I? Choices always come with sacrifices.

Either way, you’ll have to bear the burden of some loss. It’s your fortune to be born into this age, young man. You’ll have to make do with what human laws in this century define to be the limits of your lot.

Norris felt a faint chill sweep up his spine as he listened. There was something ominous in what Mrs. Cavendish just said.

“Then I’m destined to be an outlaw, aren’t I?” he asked. “I must confess that I don’t even know what it is I’m supposed to do wrong for me to be thought of as different from almost everyone else, but I’m guessing that what I am, I can’t help.”

The Great Exhibition, where modern inventions are highlighted. I wanted to use this as a backdrop against Norris' coming-of-age as I thought it a great contrast of advancement and backward laws regarding homosexuality.

The Great Exhibition, where modern inventions are highlighted. I wanted to use this as a backdrop against Norris’ coming-of-age as I thought it a great contrast of advancement and backward laws regarding homosexuality.

The widow’s smile broadened, but it also took on a sad quality, and Mrs. Cavendish said nothing in return – merely reached out to him and stroked his cheek, a touch that was most definitely very comforting.

When she withdrew her hand, she indicated her embroidery with it. “This tapestry, Master Norris,” she said as she gently pulled at the fabric so as to spread it on her lap, and every embroidered detail could be observed. “This will never be done.”

Norris frowned as he looked at it. “It’s a strange piece,” he muttered, leaning closer. “The colors of your thread are different from what I’ve seen. Mama and my sisters use bright and colorful spools for their work.”

The piece itself seemed a fairly large one to Norris. Against a slightly discolored white cloth a pastoral landscape sprawled. He could see very faint outlines of graphite where he believed Mrs. Cavendish had sketched the details, but around half of the entire tapestry was already embroidered.

Norris took careful note of the sewn parts. He found them to be intricate in design and rich in hues though Mrs. Cavendish, it seemed, preferred to use a fairly limited palette of colors. He could make out various shades of brown, red, gold, and black mingling as stitches formed an autumn landscape of shepherds, nymphs, and gods. He wanted to see what was kept inside her sewing box, but he felt too embarrassed to ask.

“This is lovely,” he breathed, finally, reaching out a tentative hand and gently touching a few places. The thread Mrs. Cavendish used was of a strange quality, he found, with the textures varying distinctly even under a light brush of his fingers. Some were coarser than others, but none appeared to have its exact match. The same could be said of the colors, all of which varied very slightly in hue and tone. Every single thread used for the tapestry was unique in its own way, which amazed Norris
because he’d never seen or heard of such a thing before.

It's really difficult trying to imagine how gay teens from previous centuries dealt with their sexuality. There are romantic friendships formed in school, but not much else is available unless we're looking at adults.

It’s really difficult trying to imagine how gay teens from previous centuries dealt with their sexuality. There are romantic friendships formed in school, but not much else is available unless we’re looking at adults.

He glanced back up at Mrs. Cavendish and smiled. “This is a strange tapestry,” he said, “but I like it.”

“Thank you, dear. As you know, I’ve been hard at work on it since…” Mrs. Cavendish’s words faded, and she chose not to pursue the matter, allowing any thoughts that might arise from her cryptic response to be devoured by Norris’ hungry mind.

“I’d like to know, though, why won’t it be finished?”

“Infinity is its nature,” Mrs. Cavendish replied. “As long as people are born into this world, and the twilight gods emerge from their ranks, my work will remain unfinished.” Her manner was so light and dismissive that a second after she spoke, Norris wasn’t sure what it was he’d heard, but something assured him it wasn’t relevant, at least for that moment.

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presentThe Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Maggie Kavanagh

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Double Indemnity Blog Tour With Maggie Kavanaugh

10361376_1537824193142962_1929307196193870004_nI’d like to thank Lisa and the Novel Approach for hosting me on my blog tour for my recent release, Double Indemnity. Today, I’ll be talking a little about some of my favorite murder mysteries and give you an opportunity to win a free eBook copy of my novel.

My grandmother was a huge Agatha Christie fan, and she first encouraged me to read in the genre. Murder on the Orient Express continues to feature at the top of my favorite mysteries list.The plot is fantastic (as is the ending), but I love the protagonist, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Like Sherlock Holmes, Poirot relies on his powers of deduction and picks unusual cases to exercise his mind. However, unlike Holmes, Poirot is constantly misjudged for his ‘foreign’ appearance and mannerisms. Early on, a passenger on the train describes him as “the sort of little man one could never take seriously.” Disproven as the book progresses, this assessment sets up and then undercuts reader expectations in a way typical of Christie—Miss Marple is another famous example. Criminals underestimate Poirot, who in turn exploits this misjudgment to his benefit in solving crimes. The BBC version of Poirot is available on Netflix and worth checking out, especially on a cold winter night.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the novel I paid homage to in titling my own. Double Indemnity (1935) by James M. Cain is an American noir that tells the tale of a ‘perfect’ murder gone wrong. In this novel, the reader is aligned with the murderer in a first person point of view, and the tension arises, not from figuring out whodunit, but in wondering if the murderer and his femme fatale accomplice will get away with the crime. Since readers actively identify with first person narrators, the reader becomes complicit in a very uncomfortable, compelling way. In the end, the novel serves as an indictment of a particular kind of American greed. The film version is considered one of the best noirs of all time, and I would recommend it along with some of the perhaps better-known noirs, The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco unfolds on the grounds of a fourteenth century Italian monastery, one of the last strongholds of medieval learning. Though told from the POV of a novice monk, the real hero of the novel is the scientifically minded William of Baskerville, whose name is an obvious tribute to Holmes. Contrasted with those who rely on faith alone (and don’t question authority), William is called in to solve a series of unexplained murders. He discovers the key to solving them within a labyrinthine library designed to keep the curious out rather than to make learning accessible. Ultimately, the book itself is a meditation on the power of philosophy and the repressive nature of dogmatic truth. This is certainly not a light Sunday read, but the1986 film version starring Sean Connery is decent (though it loses some of the impact of the novel). In either case, this is a mystery for book lovers and medieval history buffs.

Last, I recently picked up a novel called Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey. This book takes place in Ghana and combines some traditional mystery tropes with a contemporary, fresh outlook. What I enjoyed most about this book is the complexity of the protagonist-hero, Darko Dawson. Though far from infallible and not above reproach for some of his actions, Dawson’s humanity make him relatable and accessible—a stark contrast to the dispassionate Holmes. He becomes absorbed in a very personal quest after a young woman is murdered in the small town of Ketanu, where his own mother disappeared twenty-five years before. Ultimately, solving the current mystery results in the unraveling of the other—and a shocking discovery that stuns Dawson and the entire town. This two-stranded narrative was extremely effective storytelling and made the emotional impact greater.

What’s your favorite mystery novel and why? Sound off below for the chance to win an eBook copy of Double Indemnity!

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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DoubleIndemnityBook Blurb: Sam Flynn dreamed of being a journalist until a car accident killed his parents and put his brother into a long-term coma. Now Sam spends his days as a landscaper toiling in the New England sun and his nights drunk in bed with the closest warm body.  In his limited spare time, he writes about Stonebridge’s local crime and politics on his blog “Under the Bridge.”

Then Sam’s favorite client is found dead in her home—shortly after telling him someone has betrayed her trust. Sam can’t believe her grief-stricken husband Nathan would be a suspect, but the investigation hones in on him. Sam has always admired handsome Nathan from afar, but now he puts his libidinous feelings aside to help clear his name. However, the closer he gets to Nathan, the more he’s told to keep away from him and the investigation—by the fatherly police chief, by an officer on the case who’s hated him since school, and by Nathan himself.

Sam’s determined to expose the real reason his friend died and clear Nathan’s name—even if it’s the last thing he does. Which, considering how fast the death toll is increasing in Stonebridge… it might be.

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Excerpt: Loud construction noise jackhammered through the phone.

“Sorry about the commotion,” said Nathan. “I had to leave town for a couple of days on business, but I’ll be back tomorrow. Can you meet?”

“Yeah, sure. Where and when?”

“Eight o’clock at La Fronde. I’ll make the reservation.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer someplace a little more casual?” La Fronde had an excellent reputation, but Sam had never been. A five-star French dinner would put him out at least a hundred bucks.

Nathan cleared his throat. “What did you have in mind?”

“My local—the Lucky Star. It’s a little more in my price range, if you know what I mean. They have excellent burgers and fries. French fries.”

Nathan didn’t laugh at the joke. “If you’d rather, sure, though I was planning on paying, just so you know.”

Fuck. Had he misread this entire situation? Had Nathan asked him on a date?

Ridiculous.

“That’s generous of you,” Sam said. “But I’ll feel more comfortable at the Star. I don’t think I even have anything to wear to such a fancy place.”

“All right, Sam. Eight o’clock tomorrow at the Star. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you then.”

Without another word, the line went dead. Sam stood with his cell phone in his hand, staring at it as though it could explain what had just happened.

He spent the rest of the night scouring the Internet to see if he’d missed any developments in Emma’s case over the past couple of weeks. The incident—the murder—had been fading from his mind under the avalanche of his regular worries. It had faded from the news too, it seemed. Nothing turned up. After a few newspaper mentions and an obit that Sam—thankfully—hadn’t had to write, the case disappeared from the headlines, replaced by the news du jour.

He leaned back in his desk chair, sighed, and rubbed his temples to ward off an impending headache. Sam’s parents’ deaths had been accidental, and he still hadn’t figured out how to make it stop hurting. He couldn’t imagine living with the knowledge that a killer was on the loose, possibly never to be found.

It would be like hell on earth.

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Author BioBio: Maggie Kavanagh writes gay romances that explore flawed, human characters finding love.  A recent Yankee transplant to Los Angeles, her heart still resides in New England. She went to graduate school for English literature and reads and writes voraciously, whenever she can get a moment alone. You can find her in the wee morning hours typing away with coffee at hand and cat in lap, happily embodying the romance writer cliché.

While she focuses mainly on contemporary romance, don’t be surprised if a historical or supernatural tale slips into the mix, as she’s always eager to discover different genres. More fiction is forthcoming soon, so stay tuned!

Social Media Links: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads 

Double Indemnity Buy Links: Amazon | Dreamspinner Press | All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Janet, Trina Lane

Review: WaterColors by Trina Lane

Title: WaterColors

Author: Trina Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: A really good romance, with vivid characters, lots of sexy times, and a gentle humor

Blurb: Phil Alcorn is a vivacious artist living a lonely life. He has hundreds of acquaintances, dozens of casual lovers, but few know his real story. His best friend has found the love of his life, but that leaves Phil with a lot more time to think about the man who opened his eyes to a new and terrifying world one winter night eighteen months ago. Will Archer has spent his life competing around the world for the US Swim Team, but his mind frequently drifts toward the hills of San Francisco, where Phil lives amidst the fog.

Sparks flare hot in the bedroom, and their friendship deepens each time the two meet. Keeping their arrangement on the down low prevents friends’ inquisitions into their relationship. Will’s heart beats for the artist whose paintings and sculptures move his soul, and Phil’s antics fill Will’s stressful life with laughter. Phil has never believed in happy ever after, but he’s drawn to Will over and over.

Despite their deepening connection, they fear that if they change the rules now, the very thing that captivates them will disappear. Can the pair create a masterpiece all their own, or will their fears drown any chance at happiness?

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Review: This book is from the same world as In Dreams He Came. It is a fully standalone book, however, and follows two of the secondary characters to their own HEA. I start this review by saying this, as the opening scene of WaterColors is of the two MC’s in bed. Phil is an artist and a swimmer and was pivotal in helping his friends get together in the first book. Will is a part of the swim team, a fulltime professional swimmer, and met Phil during Dreams. Their attraction to each other is acute, and the sex is stunning in its intensity; it makes a dramatic opening for the story. Will wants a forever and only love, but Phil has major commitment issues. What I loved about this story opening was just how quickly I was immersed in the book. By the end of the prologue I was hooked and totally invested in the story.

Trina Lane set up a timeline that was believable for this story. Will had to arrange meetings with Phil over many months before an emotional connection was made, and even though the physical relationship remained hot, it also grew comfortable for Phil, and he learned to look forward to their meet-ups. Phil’s character was established in one location that Will returned to frequently, while Will himself travelled for training and swimming competitions all over the world. There was an added bonus to all of the character interactions, as the reader is aware of what Will wants, and the humor that this creates carries over throughout the story. The visits are a pleasure to read as the characters are fleshed out in each one, and the reader learns more about each man as they learn about each other. More time is spent with Phil, as we need to know more of his past and why he has the issues he does, and his anticipation and fears are equally exposed.

I enjoyed the flow of this story, as the steps the characters made towards each other made sense to me, the reader, and fit within the calendar the book follows. The conversational tone of the book is also fitting to the age of the characters and is something I appreciate in a good book. There are conflicts in the book as there would be in life, and the author dealt with them in a realistic manner, involving the reader in the process. This book was an easy read, as Trina Lane made us connect with the story, eager to follow along with the guys as they figured out their relationship and grew closer together. This was a really good romance, with vivid characters, lots of sexy times, and a gentle humor throughout, and I completely enjoyed my time with it.






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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton

Title: The Lion and the Crow

Author: Eli Easton

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 144 Pages

At a Glance: The Lion and the Crow is an excellent historical tale of love and bravery

Blurb: In medieval England, duty is everything, personal honor is more valued than life itself, and homosexuality is not tolerated by the church or society. Sir Christian Brandon was raised in a household where he was hated for his unusual beauty and for his parentage. Being smaller than his six brutish half-brothers, he learned to survive by using his wits and his gift for strategy, earning him the nickname the Crow.

Sir William Corbett, a large and fierce warrior known as the Lion, has pushed his unnatural desires down all his life. He’s determined to live up to his own ideal of a gallant knight. When he takes up a quest to rescue his sister from her abusive lord of a husband, he’s forced to enlist the help of Sir Christian. It’s a partnership that will test every strand of his moral fiber, and, eventually, his understanding of the meaning of duty, honor, and love.

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Review: Sir Brandon has lived a life rife with bullying and a constant reminder that he is inferior to his brothers. One in particular, Malcolm, seems to bear an unusual hatred for his youngest brother. So, when he spies Sir William Corbett at a tournament, and later hears the knight requesting help from his Father, Brandon steps forward to help William rescue his sister from an abusive marriage. However, both Brandon and William harbor deep secrets, and the long, lonely journey finds these men at a crossroads where they can no longer hide from each other. But England does not look kindly on men desiring men, and these brave knights are risking their lives in order to keep their love alive.

The Lion And The Crow is a well-written historical romance. Set in a time when chivalry is alive and well, the story grapples with the hypocrisy of a ruling class that will look away at the taking of young squires by their less than noble knights, and alternately condemn men who have genuine affection for each other. Alongside this storyline runs the idea of birthright and how the sons of nobility found themselves with less and less freedom, treated more like chattel to be married off to women with large dowries that would support their father’s kingdoms. Brandon was one such son and despite his desire for the same sex, he knew it would be his lot to return home to wed a woman he barely knew and could not love.

Author Eli Easton paints a rich countryside that literally oozes the era of knighthood and its many facets. She peoples her land with brave men, cowardly and evil foes, and the idea that sacrifice is something all men of honor must embrace for the greater good. She paints a beautiful love story and presents an interesting and intelligent duo that fights all odds to remain together to the very end.

My only wish is that there would have been a longer glimpse at the life Brandon and William finally build for themselves and perhaps a sense of the danger that they lived with most every day of their lives if discovered as lovers. All along in the story this threat hung over their heads, and it would have been lovely to see them beat the odds in a more developed last section of the novella. However, the swift ending does not detract from the fast paced, intense story or the heat of the love between these two knights. All in all, The Lion And The Crow is an excellent historical tale of love and bravery.






You can buy The Lion and the Crow here:

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4 Stars, Eden Winters, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lana, Rocky Ridge Books

Review: Manipulation by Eden Winters

Title: Manipulation (Diversion: Book Four)

Author: Eden Winters

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

At a Glance: Even though I wasn’t blown away by Manipulation, I would still highly recommend reading this series

Blurb: Lucky Lucklighter has a new life. His old life wants him back.

He traded trafficking for taking down criminals with the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, and a drug-lord lover for a man on the right side of the law. Bo Schollenberger found the way past the thorny defenses of Lucky’s heart, and made Mr. I-Get-Along-Fine-Alone think about his and his closets, stevia in the sugar bowl, and a picket fence—with a good lock on the gate.

Now Bo is missing, and a voice long silenced asks, “Did you miss me?” Lucky must deal with a devil from his past to get Bo back.

And if Bo isn’t willing to come? A drug ring needs its back broken before flooding the US with a designer high, seductive and undetectable. But there’s a fine line between good and evil, and a truckload of temptation urging Lucky to cross.

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Review: Manipulation, book four in Eden Winters’ Diversion series, is the continuation of Bo and Lucky’s story. For some background, both are narcotics agents for the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, and they each come to their jobs with black marks against them. Lucky is a reformed drug runner who’s put behind his life of crime to find redemption, and Bo is also looking for redemption after his failure as a pharmacist who couldn’t pass up the temptation of easy access to drugs. As always, there’s a lot of baggage and, as in all good melodramas, it gets unpacked!

In the beginning of the series, they get paired up on an assignment, with Lucky mentoring Bo, but they soon fall into each others arms and embark on their journey together. The first book paints an interesting picture of the whole drug manufacturing/marketing landscape. It also sets up the dynamic between Lucky and Bo and how each one lets the other into his heart. I was totally drawn into their relationship and rooted for them to survive their ups and downs.

In this installment, Bo is deep undercover, and sometimes Lucky is not sure who he is dealing with: the real Bo or his undercover persona, Cyrus. Lucky references this split personality often, but I found it hard to relate to, maybe because I missed something, or maybe cause Bo is suddenly fluent in Spanish. Lucky’s past catches up with him, and he’s taken to Mexico where he’s forced to help his ex-drug-lord-lover’s nephew with a new drug operation. Bo is also there undercover, and they soon join forces to thwart the operation.

The plot of Manipulation seemed a bit convoluted to me, and at times I found myself lost. There was a lot of information about Lucky’s past, and I enjoyed reading about it but wanted it to be less confusing. There were crosses and double-crosses, and some of them were not convincing to me, just over the top. Lucky is a grouch and not a people person, while Bo is painted as the good guy, which is repeated a lot through the book. In the end, Bo revealed that his past was darker than we first thought, though I’m not sure why, maybe to make him a more exciting match for Lucky, but to me their pairing was just right, so I thought this revelation about Bo was unnecessary.

I have mixed feelings about Manipulation. I wanted to love this one, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. It had its moments but ultimately, for me, it didn’t live up to the first two books. I loved Diversion and Collusion, but even though I wasn’t blown away by Manipulation, I would still highly recommend reading this series. I think you will find it enjoyable.

TNA_Signature_Lana






You can buy Manipulation (Diversion: Book Four) here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Garrett Leigh, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Rare Audiobook Tour With Garrett Leigh

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Garrett Leigh today, on the Rare (Roads: Book Two) audiobook tour. I asked Garrett to go through a bit of the audition process with us and to tell us what it was like to try and find the perfect narrator for the series, and as an expression of appreciation to readers, she’s offering the chance for one lucky someone to win a free audio copy of Rare. You can enter this giveaway by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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Q: Garrett, what’s been the most exciting thing for you about having your books translated to audio? Did you listen to quite a few auditions before you settled on just the right narrator? What was it about Michael Lesley that made him stand out from the rest?

A: The most exciting thing is definitely throwing my hat into the ever-growing audiobook market. I’ve been watching from the sidelines for months, so I was over the moon when Slide and Rare got commissioned by Dreamspinner.

Auditions…Jesus, don’t get me started. I was sooo excited when Dreampinner sent me a huge Dropbox file of potential narrators, but man, that faded quickly. I don’t know why it surprised me when I discovered that listening to my sex scenes would be so mortifying, but it did, haha. Also, finding the right tone for Ash and Pete was very challenging. They are both relatively young, but I wanted their voices to have some depth.

I came across Michael Lesley thanks to Andrew Grey. We’d just about exhausted his supply of audition tapes when he had a brain wave…a brain wave that turned out, to quote Pete, to be pretty fucking perfect.

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RareAUDMedBlurb: Paramedic Pete Adams lived through the year from hell watching his lover, Ash, fall apart, and the precarious balance between work and home is becoming more strained. His heart is always home, with Ash, but the dark side to his job is weighing him down.

Tattoo artist Ash Fagin is recovering from a nervous breakdown triggered by revelations about his traumatic childhood. His battle with mental illness is far from over, but with Pete by his side, he’s feeling good again, so good he doesn’t notice something missing until it walks right into his living room.

Ash believes he’s had enough coincidence in his life, but when a voice from the past comes looking for him, it takes the devastating injuries of the one he loves most to convince him to let a ghost become the family he never knew he wanted.

Categories: Contemporary, Erotica, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Hurt/Comfort

Buy Links: Audible | Amazon US | iTunes

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Author BioAbout Garrett: Rainbow Award winner Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com

Where to Find the Author: Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Instagram | Twitter | Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

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Amanda C. Stone, Giveaways

Q&A and Giveaway: The Adventures of Cole and Perry by Amanda C. Stone

Amanda C. Stone

The Novel Approach welcomes Amanda C. Stone today on The Adventures of Cole and Perry blog tour. Enjoy the short Q&A with Amanda, then be sure to enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or ARe Gift Card by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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Q: Amanda, I read your author bio. Will you expand a little bit on Pink Amanda and Blue Amanda? What kind of adventures did you and your colorful imaginary friends get up to?

A: When I was little pink was my favorite color. To the point where my parents painted my room pink, got me pink sheets, and pink art. The art was a big deal since my parents are art collectors so getting my own that was pink was a BFD. As an only child I played by myself quite often. Of course I made my plethora of stuffed animals play “with” me. I also had an imaginary friend. She was my best friend and liked all of the things I did. She also was cool enough to have my name too. But we didn’t want to get confused with each other so she was Pink Amanda. She came with me everywhere. We rode our bikes together, went on pirate adventures, pretended to play video games, were radio show hosts. But we weren’t complete in our friendship bond. Oh no, there was someone missing. So Blue Amanda joined us in our play. As an adult I can realize that Blue Amanda wasn’t the typical imaginary friend, however as a kid I didn’t realize my friend was different in anyway. He just was. See Blue Amanda was gender fluid. Sometimes he was a boy, sometimes she was a girl. I saw nothing wrong with it. Just who he was. Again, my two friends joined me in everything I did. Even when I was out with my parents. I would get upset when there weren’t chairs for them to sit in at restaurants. My parents indulged me far longer than most probably would, and it’s something that I encourage in my daughter. Imagination is the best thing for children to develop and grow. Some of my favorite times as a kid included my two imaginary friends.

Q: I’ve heard tell of authors who sleep with notebooks on their bedside tables in case they wake up in the night with a story idea. Do you practice this yourself? Have you ever gone back through your notes and wondered at what you were thinking at the time you wrote the idea down? What’s the strangest story idea you’ve ever come up with?

A: I do but I’ve gone digital. I have my phone next to my bed so I can write things down when I first wake up. Both my husband, and my daughter know not to disturb me if I’m typing furiously on my phone the second my eyes pop open. Many a glare have been aimed at the person that interrupts my flow because then the idea is just gone forever. Before the smart phone it was definitely a notebook. However some ideas got lost back then because I couldn’t read my handwriting from when I was still half asleep.

Q: Knowing writing is a craft that is continually being honed the more, and longer, you do it, how much credit do you give to having an active imagination as a child for being where you are today, a published author?

A: Pretty much all of it. If my mom didn’t work to keep me creating new ideas and wildly outlandish made up games, I don’t think I’d be half the writer, or person, I am today. I still have an amazingly active imagination. It just presents itself differently than imaginary friends. Well. I guess if we’re technical all authors have imaginary friends. We just put them down on paper and share our imaginary friends with the world.

Q: How did the idea for Cole and Perry come about. What intrigued you about the idea of following one couple through several years and a series of different life events?

A: The entire thing came from what happens in The Anniversary. When I started writing each of the stories, I didn’t really set out to show their growth. It just kind of happened. Part of me wants to keep writing more from them, but they’re silent for now. Maybe after people start telling me how much they love Cole and Perry I’ll start to see if Perry has some input in what’s going on. Especially since the whole thing is in Cole’s point of view.

As a side note, I’d love to hear what you think after you read the book (if you read the book) compared to what you originally thought based on the blurb.

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The Adventures of Cole and PerryBlurb: It all started when Cole met Perry in a bar. Over three years they had some exciting adventures, and misadventures. The six stories included in this book are all about their journey from bar to wedding.

The Anniversary
Another cancellation of plans by his boyfriend forces Cole out to the neighborhood bar. Not long after arriving he meets Perry. Even as exciting as Perry is, he’s unsure how the night will end.

The Fight
Cole and Perry are struggling to make time for each other and constantly at each other’s throats. A fight to the death will decide who is right or wrong in their arguments. But Cole really doesn’t want to shoot Perry.

The Threesome
Deciding they want to spice up things in the bedroom, Perry wants to have a one-time threesome. Cole’s nervous and doesn’t want to ask any of their friends to join them. Perry finds the perfect solution.

The House
After two and a half years together, Cole and Perry want to buy a house. Once they find the perfect house, they get to spend their first morning together in their new space. Perry will have to help Cole decide which room is his favorite.

The Baby
Both Cole and Perry are exhausted. Taking care of a three month old is hard when she’s up all night and is always hungry. If only they could find where they put the bottle warmer.

The Wedding
Cole is ready to make his commitment to Perry life-long. After careful planning, they created the perfect event. What could possibly go wrong? If only Cole didn’t ask the same question.

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Humor, M/M Romance

Buy Links: Amazon US | All Romance eBooks | Add to Goodreads

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