5 Stars, DSP Publications, Ethan Stone, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Closing Ranks by Ethan Stone

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Closing Ranks (Flesh: Book Four)

Author: Ethan Stone

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

At a Glance: Closing Ranks is an extremely well written mystery/romance story.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Internal Affairs investigator Jeremy Ranklin is looking into corruption within the Reno Police Department when he’s ordered to examine the suspicious death of the Chief of Police. The assignment partners Jeremy with Detective Cristian Flesh. Though they spar at first, Jeremy earns Cristian’s trust, and they work well together.

Deeply closeted, Jeremy fights an attraction to fellow cop Kipp Mosely. The investigation brings Jeremy and Kipp together, but lies and secrets prevent things from going any further. Jeremy will need both Kipp’s and Cristian’s help to discover how deep the corruption runs—and to stay alive when the danger hits close to home.

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Review: Suspense, danger, murder and so many suspects, Closing Ranks is another wild ride from Ethan Stone, fast paced and full of so much information that it keeps you turning the pages from beginning to end. Yes, Cristian Flesh is back and has teamed up with Jeremy Ranklin, of Internal Affairs, to investigate the suspicious suicide of a mentor, as well as corruption inside the Reno police force.

Besides the twists and turns of the suicide and corruption, we also get to know Jeremy. He has to deal with personal issues, with being gay and closeted, with a young man who has a crush on him, an ex’s return, and an uncontrollable attraction to Officer Kipp Moseley. I really felt bad for him. He carries guilt about being gay and over what would happen if he came out to his parents and sister-in-law. He believes it would kill his father if his secret were to be found out.  He also has a six-year-old nephew he loves dearly, and is afraid of never seeing him again.

Jeremy is trying hard to keep his mind on the case, but no matter what, he keeps coming in contact with Officer Moseley. Kipp is out and doesn’t hide his sexuality. He’s not sure if he’s willing to get involved with Jeremy because he’s not about to be anyone’s “dirty little secret”. There is no insta-love between Jeremy and Kipp. In fact, they have to work at it because neither one wants to have to change who they are. But when danger arises, Kipp has Jeremy’s back.

Flesh play’s a big part in this story, and he’s all business and snarky, as usual. Colby only has a brief part, and Reg, Flesh’s partner, is also back. There are also two newbies, Leif and Rafe…hmmm, very interesting!

I have to say, Closing Ranks is an extremely well written mystery/romance story. It’s hard to choose which book in the Flesh series I liked best, but this one is a favorite.

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

You can buy Closing Ranks here:

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OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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4 Stars, Alice Griffiths, Leta Blake, Self-Published

Review: Will and Patrick Wake Up Married by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

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Amazon

Title: Will and Patrick Wake Up Married

Author: Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 112 Pages

At a Glance: Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths are casting, scripting and directing our way through a funny, angsty, and what I think will end up being a touching little romance.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: After a drunken night of hot sex in Vegas, strangers Will Patterson and Dr. Patrick McCloud wake up married. A quickie divorce is the most obvious way out—unless you’re the heir of a staunchly Catholic mafia boss with a draconian position on the sanctity of marriage.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Will and Patrick don’t like it, or each other, but they have to make the best of it until they can find another way out of their marriage. To ensure the trust fund Will’s charitable foundation relies on isn’t revoked by his mobster grandfather, he and Patrick travel to Will’s hometown of Healing, South Dakota, posing as a newlywed couple in the throes of true love at first sight.

Complicating their scheme are Will’s unresolved feelings for his all-too-recent ex-boyfriend Ryan, and Patrick’s desire to get back to the only thing that really matters to him in life: neurosurgery. Will they fool everyone? Or will the mafia get wind that their marriage is a fake? Throw their simmering attraction into the mix and all bets are off!

Dividers

Review: Doh! Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths, what have you done? You’ve created two characters who drew me into their story and then left me hanging, that’s what. Ah, the perils of episodic fiction. Well played, authors, well played!

Will and Patrick Wake Up Married is the first installment in the new “Wake Up Married” serial, and I for one can’t wait to see where the team of Blake and Griffiths take these men next. What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas in this series, where, as the title reveals, Will and Patrick wake up married after a night of steamy-horny-drunken-rebound monkey sex, to the hungover realization that not only do they not want to be bound in this state of unholy matrimony, but now they can’t get divorced because Will’s gangster gramps left very specific stipulations on the money Will inherited. Now, let’s be clear: Will does good works (Seriously. Good Works is the name of his foundation) with this dirty money, so it’s crucial he abide by the caveat his grandsire has placed upon it. Namely, that marriage is a sacred bond and divorce is absolutely out of the question. So, there’s a wee glimpse at this delightfully twisted picture.

What Blake and Griffiths have done in order to make this scenario work is create some great friction between Will and Patrick. Sexual chemistry—check. That’s there in spades, but these two men couldn’t be more different if they tried. Will wakes up like he’s been rode hard and put away wet—which he was, and which Patrick gleefully reminds him of whenever he can—and his bashful realization that he’s bedded and wedded a complete stranger plays so well against Dr. Patrick McHotbutt McCloud—who’s a bit of a dick. More than a bit, actually. He’s a brilliant neurosurgeon with a bit of a God Complex. He knows he’s the best in his field, and doesn’t hesitate to remind anyone who needs reminding of it. But…reasons for his douchey-ness are also coyly doled out in wee pieces, which I’m sure will be explained further in later episodes.

Patrick wants to drop Will like a bad habit, NOW, but he’d also kind of like to sex him up a little bit (a lot) too, before the divorce, or annulment, or whatever loophole they can find in Will’s mob connected purse strings; and this is where their journey begins, with help from a little synchronicity. It’s also where the authors begin to layer the characters, intertwine their lives, and set the foundation for their relationship. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon ::winkwinknudgenudge:: to see where their story’s going, but all the fun will be in watching these two men catch on to their own story arc.

Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths are building a town and its residents from the ground up, as Will bundles Patrick up and takes him home to South Dakota with him, with more than a little hope that Dr. McCloud will take one gander at the neurological facilities at Healing’s hospital and want to join its staff. What are the odds of that happening? Well, first they have to convince the entire town, including Will’s Mafioso family (the South Dakota Mafia ::snickers::), that they’re truly, madly, and deeply in love with each other. Otherwise, it could be bad for Patrick’s health.

Fun, no?

Yes, it most definitely promises to be! And with all the conflict and witty banter, and these two guys who are quite honestly both a little bit broken, the next episode can’t be delivered to my Kindle quickly enough.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Will and Patrick Wake Up Married here:

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4 Stars, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna

Release Day Review: Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue by Charlie Cochet

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Amazon

Title: Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue

Author: Charlie Cochet

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 60 Pages

At a Glance: A bittersweet tale from a favorite author that has all the elements I love about her writing: mystery, romance, style, history and above all, true love.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: For the last six months, Detective James Ralston has worked the nightshift as security for the Pacific Blue Hotel, and every night at 2 a.m. his rounds lead him to the radio room where the handsome and mysterious Franklin Fairchild sits listening to waltzes as old as the hotel itself. James is drawn to Franklin, but Franklin is a man at the end of his rope, and James has no intention of getting caught up in whatever trouble Franklin is in. A heated encounter late one night sends James down a disturbing path and has him questioning everything around him, including his very sanity.

Dividers

Review: Oh my! This is a delicious little nugget from Charlie Cochet that is full of surprises.

James Ralston is a former soldier and a former detective who is now in private security at a hotel in New York City that is long past its prime. The Pacific Blue no longer shines, but evidence of her former glory can still be glimpsed among the faded paint and moldings and furniture from days gone by. James patrols the hotel at night under the less than watchful eye of the manager – son of the original manager. Every night he stops in the radio room where the handsome but melancholy Franklin Fairchild listens to old music from the heyday of the Pacific Blue. James doesn’t want to offend the man, but he’s also worried that he’ll get drawn into something he doesn’t want to be if he engages with him.

Until the night that Franklin is NOT in the radio room. James gets worried and goes to look for Franklin – much against his better judgement. Once he finds Franklin, he discovers that he is more drawn to him than he ever thought. He also finds some things about Franklin quite disturbing – like the obvious abuse he has suffered at some point, which has left visible reminders. He tries to find out more about what he has uncovered of Franklin’s past, and why he’s resigned to his fate – only, he’s actually more confused by what is revealed. James is then convinced that he is losing his mind, and the more he tries to figure out what’s going on, the more baffled he becomes. He knows Franklin is the key, but he’s not sure how to resolve his questions.

I realize this review is a bit cryptic, but truly I can’t reveal any of the surprises, or it will ruin the story. Just suffice to say that nothing is what it seems and that there are reasons for what happens that are not at all apparent to James until the very end of the story.

Charlie Cochet adds some beautiful touches of old New York style and the beauty that once was the Pacific Blue, as well as her signature romantic style. Above all, this is a love story that will hopefully leave each reader with a little sad smile in the end.

 

 

 

You can buy Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue here:

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Charlie Cochet, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue by Charlie Cochet

BDPB Blog Tour Banner CCochet

Hello all! Thank you so much for joining me today at The Novel Approach to celebrate the release of Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue from Dreamspinner press! I’m very excited to be sharing this short novella with you. It has a little bit of everything, from sweet romance, humor, sexy-times, mystery, suspense, and a dash of horror. Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue may not be specifically a Halloween story, but it has several elements that makes Halloween a perfect release day!

I remember when Halloween was almost as exciting as Christmas. My mom was a seamstress and used to make my Halloween costumes, so the possibilities were endless. Pirate, princess, Care Bear, favorite cartoon character, you name it. One year I dressed up as a pumpkin. I have no idea what that was about or why, but there you go. Kids.

Then there was the promise of a plastic pumpkin full of chocolates, candies, and sometimes even quarters. Hey, a quarter could get you plenty of one penny sweets in the eighties. Remember Swedish Fish? I do. Used to love those things. Still do. I lived on a block filled with kids, so on Halloween a few of the parents would take a big group of us door to door. The parents would chat and gossip while we did our Trick-or-treating.

Once we had our pumpkins or bags full, we’d run back home and bask in our bounties, or head for the front steps of a friend’s house where the bartering would begin. Everyone would scour for the good candy, and pawn off their boring candy on their younger siblings who had no idea Ring Pops were way more awesome than a Werthers Original.

It was all about the good stuff. Fun Dip, Blow Pops, Melody Pops, Bonkers, Bubble Tape, and everyone wanted the Candy Cigarettes. It sounds kind of insane now when you think about. Candy Cigarettes for kids. But then when I was a kid, falling off the jungle gym most often resulted in serious bodily injury involving blood and possibly stitches. You were lucky if you hit sand or wood chips instead of concrete, and heaven help the poor soul who tried to go down the slide at noon in the middle of a hot summer day. Ah, the eighties.

What’s your fondest Halloween memory? Don’t celebrate Halloween, what’s your favorite holiday tradition?

Between the Devil and the Pacific BlueFS500

BOOK DETAILS

Genre: M/M Other Paranormal
Length: Novella
Published: October 31st, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh
Ebook ISBN-13: 9781634766296

BDPB About

For the last six months, Detective James Ralston has worked the nightshift as security for the Pacific Blue Hotel, and every night at 2 a.m. his rounds lead him to the radio room where the handsome and mysterious Franklin Fairchild sits listening to waltzes as old as the hotel itself. James is drawn to Franklin, but Franklin is a man at the end of his rope, and James has no intention of getting caught up in whatever trouble Franklin is in. A heated encounter late one night sends James down a disturbing path and has him questioning everything around him, including his very sanity.

READ CHAPTER ONE HERE.

BDPB Goodreads

RELEASED OCTOBER 31ST

BDPB Links

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon Kindle | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble

BDPB About the Author

Charlie_Cochet_by_madison_parker150Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Charlie’s Newsletter

BDPB Giveaway

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BDPB Tour Schedule

Oct 24th – Love Bytes Reviews | Oct 29th – V’s Reads | Oct 30th – Joyfully Jay | Oct 31st – The Novel Approach//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, SJD Peterson

Review: Innocence to the Max by SJD Peterson

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Innocence to the Max

Author: SJD Peterson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: Do you love vampires?  I love vampires, and I loved Innocence to the Max!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: On his sixteenth birthday, Francisco “Cisco” Aguilar first sets eyes on Maximilian De Ferrari, owner of Wicked Grounds, an exclusive BDSM club. Cisco has been lost, unsure of what is missing in his life. Over a century old, Max leads a vampire clan, and Cisco is drawn to him in a way he can’t explain. The moment he sees Max he knows his quest isn’t about what he’s been missing, but who.

Five years’ wait seems more than Cisco can bear, but he perseveres and on his twenty-first birthday he walks into Wicked Ground. He’s unafraid to meet the vampire he’s sure is his destiny. Max has been waiting for him, too.

What Max has known all these years, and what Cisco soon discovers, is that more than fate is drawing them together. Iunctio Copula is a powerful binding link capable of restoring cold, dead hearts. With Max and Cisco bound, Cisco will be Max’s greatest weakness. Unable to let Max go, Cisco is thrust into a dark world, where he’s nearly powerless, left to fight for his life and his future with Max. Worse, he’s at the mercy of those who will use him—and hurt him—just to get to the powerful vampire.

Dividers

Review: SJD Peterson is one of my go-to writers whenever I need a really well written book, and Innocence to the Max falls right in line. Is this a new series?  Gosh, I hope so. There are so many incredible characters in this book that deserve their own story.

Max is a centuries old vampire, and the head of his clan, searching for something he doesn’t even believe exists, not really. And then one night, he is taking a quiet break from his club. Cisco is in a car, driving down the street in front of him, and his path is forever changed. Cisco is celebrating his sixteenth birthday, looks down an alley, and his body lights up with recognition of a man he cannot see for the shadows, and cannot pursue because of his age. Five years later, and Cisco is out to claim the man from the shadows, knowing he is a vampire and his Master—Cisco wants nothing more than to serve the man who stole his heart from a street corner.

This book does have some disturbing scenes of violence and rape, so be warned, but it is not the point of the story, merely an aspect of it. This is a story about two men struggling hard to be the men they need to be for themselves as well as for each other. It is a happy-for-now tale, with the promise for more. As well written as the main characters are, the secondary characters carry the story forward with wit and fortitude, and I really want a book for Benny!

I highly recommend this story. If you are into hot vampires, with some light BDSM and soul mates, then this is a book you will definitely enjoy.

TNA_Signature_Carrie

 

 

 

You can buy Innocence to the Max here:

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5 Stars, Dark Hollows Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Victoria Sue

Review: Eternal Circle by Victoria Sue

Amazon US

Amazon US

TitleEternal Circle (Sirius Wolves: Book Three)

Author:  Victoria Sue

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press

Pages/Word Count: 143 Pages

At a GlanceThis book in the series is by far my favorite.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: How can you repair something that should have been unbreakable? Darric, Blaze and Conner had been together for centuries, and their bond, like their love, should have been eternal. Blaze is trying not only to hold his family together, but stop himself falling apart.

The fragile relationship between the werewolves and the humans is at risk once more, and the goddess Sirius seems to have deserted them. Inexplicable changes are taking place to their little Omega, and while Aden’s powers are increasing, Conner seems to be losing his.

The terrorist group, The Winter Circle, is getting bolder and placing everyone in danger. Worse, there is a traitor among them, perhaps someone a lot closer than they want to admit. Just when Blaze thought the worst that could have happened is behind them, the traitor is revealed, and Blaze realizes that their circle is not only broken, but in danger of being irreparably torn apart.

Dividers

Review: I’ll admit it. I read this book the same night I finished the second one because I’m clearly a masochist and like being in pain. I just couldn’t leave the wounds alone and had to find out what happened next to Aden, Blaze, Conner, and Darric. I’m happy to say that after even more crying, I was happy with the ending I got.

 

This book in the series is by far my favorite. Characters reach new depths, more of the legend of the wolves is told, and an even more evil villain shows up. And it’s someone I never expected. I was completely blown away, and right before it was revealed, I literally proclaimed, “NO WAY!” and could hardly read fast enough.

Well played, Victoria Sue. Well played. I did NOT see that coming. Holy cow.

This third book follows the boys as everything gets more intense. Conner is losing his empathic abilities, and Aden is struggling with this second pregnancy following so soon on the heels of the first. Blaze struggles to keep it together and be strong for this mates, but there’s still a traitor to unearth, wolves making trouble, and revealing their presence to humans.

Kellan, a former pack member of Aden’s, is causing trouble, and Conner finally gets to the bottom of it, but his inability to accurately sense emotions could doom them all. Again, I was not expecting the resolution to this one, either. Wow.

Just as in the first two books there are inconsistencies and some discrepancies with the other books that could be fixed with stronger editing. However, either I’ve gotten used to it or they weren’t as prevalent in the other books, because I didn’t mind nearly as much, and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

This book cannot be read as a standalone. You absolutely must read the first two, because the events in this book directly follow what happens in the first two. Could you get away with it? Probably, because the author did a good job of getting the readers caught up to speed, but why would you want to? Go back to the first two books and enjoy the ride.

Now, can I please have the next book? I want to know more about Ricoh and his mate(s) and the young snow white shifter from the beginning of the book. Oh, and I’d like to see more of Kellan as well.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Eternal Circle here:

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4 Stars, Cate Ashwood, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Bloom Box by Cate Ashwood

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Bloom Box (Heartsville)

Author: Cate Ashwood

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 61 Pages

At a Glance: Bloom Box is a delightful addition to this collection.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: If there’s one thing William Sullivan knows less about than how to run a business, it’s flowers. When Will is left carrying responsibility for the flower shop he’d leased for his cheating ex-boyfriend, he is sure it will lead him into financial ruin.

Just when he’s about to abandon all hope, in walks Milo Hart—young, overflowing with energy, and perhaps best of all, a genius when it comes to flowers. Will hires him on the spot and they begin a working partnership that might be Will’s only saving grace. The more time they spend together, the more Will’s feelings for Milo evolve and Will must choose between keeping things strictly business, or taking a chance to let love bloom.

Dividers

Review: Will is adrift in more ways than one. He has lost a man he thought would be his forever in a heartbreaking revelation of cheating and lies. Left behind with a building in desperate need of a facelift, a floral business that he knew nothing about, and was now somehow expected to launch, and a heart that needed some serious mending, Will is not sure which way to turn next. Then Milo arrives and with more than a little flower know-how, and heaps of infectious good will, he slowly transforms both the shop and Will. Despite the age difference this rose was bound to bloom, and Will could only hold on tight as the spark between him and Milo grew and grew.

Cate Ashwood delivers another sweet romance direct from Heartsville. With Bloom Box, this author solidifies the idea that this imaginary town is the place to visit if one is looking for romance. More than a little healing also takes place in this story as Will begins to come back from a horrid breakup and realizes that, just maybe, a May/December affair is not too shabby a thing to let happen in his life. Milo is like a giant puppy dog at first glance. However, before long the author adds dimensions to both characters that make them more realistic and terribly appealing.

Bloom Box is a delightful addition to this collection. With just a hint of angst, we are drawn into a world where love can happen only if we allow it. Will resists as best as he can, but Milo is determined to have his man. When these two finally embrace their feelings for each other, this story takes flight and offers up a tender love affair between two lovely men.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

You can buy Bloom Box here:

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Flashback Friday, Giveaways

Flashback Friday and Giveaway: The Happy Haunts Halloween Edition

Flashback Friday

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Paranormal edition of Flashback Friday!

Because it’s Halloween, and Halloween happens to be one of my favorite holidays, I’ve relaxed the rules a bit for this segment and giveaway. Rather than all the titles being older recs we’ve read and loved, we’ve opened this FbF up to our overall favorite Paranormal reads—or, at least the ones we came up with off the tops of our heads this time around. We all know it’s impossible to choose just one all-time favorite, right? So some of these books are recent releases, but hey, if you haven’t had the chance to read them yet, click on the Rafflecopter widget and you just might win TWO of our selected titles. :)

And now, here they are, our happy and haunting Halloween faves!

Halloween Divider

TNA_Signature_KathieThere were so many emotions for me while I was reading this book, but the one I remember the most is…Scared. Wow! Can Rick R. Reed write gay horror, or what?! The sex in this book is sensual, rough and on the edge of dangerous. The food that is served in the Blue Moon Café is sensual, rough and sounds amazing. The creature…well, it’s what nightmares are made of.

Let me share with you an excerpt of this book that I still think of every time I open the door at night, especially when there is a full moon overhead:

The door finally gave way. A large, hulking black wolf framed in the doorway, illuminated in silver by the light of the moon. Steam rose from its nostrils. Its mouth was open and drooling.

And that’s just a very small piece of a story that’s crazy-scary. The Blue Moon Café made quite an impression on me. Rick R. Reed is quite the storyteller.

The Blue Moon CafeSomeone—or something—is killing Seattle’s gay men.

A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.

Someone—or something—is falling in love with Thad Matthews.

Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places—a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Prepare yourself for a unique blend of dark suspense and erotic romance with The Blue Moon Cafe, written by the author Unzipped magazine called, “the Stephen King of gay horror.” You’re guaranteed an unforgettable reading experience, one that skillfully blends the hottest romance with the most chilling terror…

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TNA_Signature_CarrieIt’s 1799 New York and William is drunk. Waking in a bed of roses which belongs to the local magistrate is not a good thing, and his life is forever changed when instead of prison, he’s sent to an apprenticeship.  “Holding a lantern at the edge of the road was a tall, menacing figure in a dark hooded robe, complete with a veil that completely concealed his face.  It was Death himself, come to escort me into the underworld.” This is how William meets Merrick, the mysterious apothecary he has been indentured to.

William was a bookseller by trade, so he is an intelligent man. When things don’t add up with his new Master, he discovers secrets he never knew existed.

Clare Cray is an excellent writer and this book is one of her finest. In her own words, this is her “strange little story.” This book is a gothic romance between a vampire and his apprentice. The story is entertaining with just enough spooky to set the atmosphere, and you want the characters involved to have their HEA—but how can they when one is a vampire?

William is the sequel to this book, and I would recommend them both. You don’t have to get both, they can stand alone, but for the full effect read them together. It’s a perfect October treat!

MerrickNew York, 1799: the future looks bright for the charming young book dealer William Lacy, until a raucous night of drinking lands him in shackles. He narrowly avoids the brutal prison system thanks to his mother, who negotiates with the judge to secure him a five year apprenticeship in lieu of a jail sentence. And so William finds himself in a carriage bound for the remote woods upstate, where he’ll spend the next years of his life learning a new trade under some old master.

When he first sees Merrick, William thinks he’s been dropped into a medieval horror story. Tall and gruff, dressed in a hooded robe that completely conceals his features, and riding a black mare, Merrick might as well be the Grim Reaper.

But appearances are deceiving. A skilled apothecary and healer, Merrick proves to be a generous host and a gentle teacher, and William soon finds himself surprisingly comfortable in his new surroundings. And yet troubling mysteries abound: Why does Merrick never show his face or hands? Why do his movements seem so young and sure beneath his robes? What lies within the cave behind the stone cottage?

Something unnatural is afoot. But most alarming by far is William’s own reaction to his new keeper. For Merrick’s strange charms are bewitching enough by day; but by night, in the darkness of the room and the bed they share, William finds himself entirely overwhelmed by desires he never imagined...

Garland

TNA_Signature_SammyI love scary stuff, I really do, and so this novel, Cowboys & Vampires, was just the ticket for me. I mean, c’mon, hot cowboys and vicious vampires, what’s not to like?! I flew through this story, just could not put it down. Hank Edwards is a consummate storyteller. This novel embraces a bygone era where small towns sat in the middle of nowhere, or wherever there was a gold rush, and the law was the sheriff and his men. No judge or jury—you were either guilty and hanged, or innocent and lived to see another day. So when Dex falls in love with the very person he should be hauling into jail, all hell breaks loose—including a vampire and his minions.

This novel had me by the throat in more ways than one. Hank Edwards writes some scary, heart pounding stuff and then infuses it with such humanity and yes, a love story to boot. I was hooked and nearly died when I got to that ending…oh, Mr. Edwards, you naughty author, you!

This was an incredibly fast-paced, action-packed and bite your nails kind of book—yes, it was that good!! Just remember to keep the lights on…all of them.

Cowboys & VampiresIn the frontier town of Belkin’s Pass, as a vampire quietly feeds on the local saloon girls and their customers, a tragedy teaches resident Josh Stanton he has the ability to raise the dead. Knowing he is now a wanted man, Josh flees into the arid plains of Venom Valley. Pursued by Dex, the town deputy and Josh’s best friend, the two realize their friendship is truly something deeper, and Dex has to decide if he’s a man of the law, or a man in love. The vampire, drawn by Josh’s power, circles ever closer, gathering his forces against them.

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TNA_Signature_CHRISIf you haven’t noticed, I’m a total THIRDS Nerd. I absolutely devour the books and will totally push them on anyone who will sit still long enough for me to extol their virtues. What can I say… Charlie Cochet has me utterly hooked into her fabulous world, and I completely love Dexter J. Daley. Sorry, Sloane, I would totally steal your man in a heartbeat!  After all that you’d think that would be my choice for my favorite paranormal book. It is but it’s not. Because it’s such a popular series, I thought I’d share one of my other favorites with everyone.

Would you believe that my favorite paranormal is a fantasy story? Considering my first book addictions were The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander’s series that featured Black Cauldron, my choice for favorite paranormal book is To the Other Side by S.J. Frost, the first book in her Terra series.

To the Other Side is that one perfect m/m fantasy book for me. It combined all the right elements to make it a very well crafted story. It had captivating characters, Garrett – the intrepid human explorer, and Bryson – the courageous and giving white witch. The world building was so well crafted that you could see Terra being real and hiding right inside the tree line just past that huge oak. It also has that classic good vs evil theme, in this case an evil Duke with his minion Warlock trying to steal an immortality ring from Bryson and his true love, Garrett.

What really made the story for me was one of the secondary characters, and boy, was he a character! Wynn is a romance reading, Oreo eating dragon that lives with Bryson. Now, dragons in Terra aren’t the large, fire-breathing kind you might think. They’re more along the size of the fire lizards from Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall books, so the size of a large raptor or cat. Wynn is also seriously sarcastic and smarter than hell, and loves to annoy his house mates.

There is a true plethora of secondary characters that end up being featured in future books in the series. I completely admit that I adoringly stalked the author a bit because I wanted to know if she was going to write a book for two other characters that I absolutely craved to read about.

I don’t have enough words to say how much I absolutely love this book and these two characters, and that’s why it’s my favorite paranormal book.

To the Other SideGarrett Evergard is a finder of secrets. As a biologist and environmentalist, it’s his job to go into wild lands and uncover their mysteries in order to save them. In the Pacific Northwest, he races against logging lobbyists to save a section of temperate rainforest, but the forest seems reluctant to give up her secrets. Until a fateful meeting with a rare spirit bear opens the door to wonders beyond anything he’s ever imagine, the greatest of those being the beautiful man who comes to his rescue. As a witch and Gatekeeper, Bryson Summers is used to living a solitary life. He lives between two worlds, Earth and Terra, feeling not fully part of either, and dreams of meeting someone who understands him. From the moment he sees Garrett, he believes — and hopes — he’s looking upon a twin soul. Dragons, unicorns, and a witch with enchanting brown eyes, Garrett tries to make sense of a world so different from anything he’s ever known. But his mind and heart are open, and he finds himself drawn more to Bryson with each day they spend together. When Bryson and the gate that links the two worlds fall under threat, Garrett is willing to do all he can to protect them, even if it means facing down dark magic.

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TNA_Signature_AngelThough this isn’t a flashback story, as it was published earlier this year, I am recommending it because of the Halloween theme we have going on today. I love to be scared, and while I know that sounds strange, it is an exhilarating thing. Maybe it’s the endorphin rush from fear; I’m not real certain. Blood and gore don’t do much for me, but something that makes you think, psychological horror, now that is a fun time for me. And Silent Woods hit all my instant love buttons.

There’s an established couple, cute kids, and an eerily creepy setting that is as much a character as the people in the books. Silent Woods is Ofelia Grand’s take on a Swedish legend of the Fae, and it was fantastically done. I had never heard of this particular tale, and I really enjoyed reading this version of it. I love seeing the different takes on legends from around the world, and in this, Grand didn’t disappoint. The tension builds with wonderful characterization and storytelling, and though this is short, it is intense. It kept me in suspense the entire time, and the epilogue just cinched this story’s place in my heart as a go-to for a little scare re-read.

I read this short story all in one go, and it kept me up for hours afterward. In fact, it still does. The first time I read it, I got up out of bed to check on my daughter, not once but several times, and I’ve done it each time I have re-read this fantastic story.

Silent WoodsDaniel is married to an amazing man—a nature-loving man—and when that man suggests the family goes camping Daniel can’t say no. But even before they’ve left their home Daniel has a feeling that something is wrong.

He almost succeeds in convincing himself everything is as it should be, but then their five-year-old son, Axel, goes missing.

A search party arrives, and the two fathers encounter something far more sinister than either could ever have dreamed of. Will they find their son before it’s too late?

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TNA_Signature_JulesParanormal! Eeeeeek! There are SO many amazing books in this genre. I’ve only read a handful of M/M paranormal to date, but have every intention of adding more and more to my list. I can’t wait to see everyone else’s picks for this week’s Flashback Friday!

What I did read recently, though – just last week, in fact, in honor of Halloween being upon us – was Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk. I mean, c’mon…what’s spookier than ghosts, right??!? This book was utterly fantastic. It was a super creepy ghost story, sure – but it was also a romance, a historical, and a social commentary piece, a wonderful amalgamation as only Jordan L. Hawk can deliver.

Let’s talk about the ghosts, though, since that’s why we’re here. First of all, the title of this book is perfect, as these are spirits who are imprisoned at the place of their human demise. Unable to leave the mansion, held captive by the ghost of the man who caused their deaths, it is up to our heroes to try and set them free. I love the different ways the ghosts appear to Henry and Vincent and the other members of the group gathered at the castle for the experiment. The idea that Vincent can taste the presence of the spirit when it’s nearby was so cool and original to me. And, the way the ghosts manifested based on the energy available to them in the room was also very cool and creepy.

Along with being an amazing storyteller, of course, one of this author’s strengths is character development. Henry and Vincent are both fantastic, as are Henry’s cousin, Jo, and Vincent’s partner, Lizzie. What I also LOVED about this book was the diversity of the characters. There are two people of color – Vincent is Native American and Jo is half-black – and a transgender person. The struggles presented therein were woven into the story perfectly, and made it that much richer, in my opinion.

Restless Spirits is the perfect choice for a spooky read at Halloween, or any time! I whole-heartedly recommend it and can’t wait to read the sequel, Dangerous Spirits!

Restless-Spirits-400x600After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.

The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.

Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.

For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.

Garland

TNA_Signature_MaryannI have read many books by Carol Lynne, and felt I needed to nominate The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly, especially for this time of year. I love reading scary novels, and this tale of horror has it all.

Horror/romance isn’t the usual type of story that Lynne writes, but I have to say this is worth the read. “Claiming” is the long awaited sequel to Ghost of Alcatraz (published in 2011), and it takes us to the year 2020 and the new age, haunted prison.

The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly picks up after Ghost of Alcatraz, where Fisher Marx was first introduced. Fisher has a new life, but he’s not at peace with everything. He hears rumors about Patrick Donnelly and has every intention of finding the young man and help him. Patrick is haunted by the ghost of his father, who is abusing and tormenting him. When Fisher and Patrick find they can’t escape the evil, they are off to Pont-Aven, France, where evil continues its reign.

If you’re a fan of horror, I highly recommend reading Ghost of Alcatraz and The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly. Both are two excellent horror stories that will definitely will get you in the mood for Halloween!

The Claiming of Patrick DonnellyAfter taming the Ghosts of Alcatraz, Fisher Marx left his position as head of the World Police Unit to take a job in the small town of Toblerville. He’d hoped to live out his life in quiet splendor while still using his skills to protect the Hickory County residents, but everything changed when he heard rumors of a young man who claimed to be the victim of regular attacks by a ghost. Unable to put the young man out of his mind, Fisher decided to investigate the situation. What he discovered in the run down house outside of town would change his life forever.

Spider Webs

TNA_Signature_LisaAnd now, for something completely different…

2011 must have been one hell of a great reading year for me, because it seems like every time I settle on a title for Flashback Friday… I discover I read the book in 2011. Go figure.

As much as I love horror—and tis the season, etc., etc.—and as much as I could have gone the way of Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCop or Channeling Morpheus/Sweet Oblivion series (both are stellar!), or gone to the waaaaay darker side of Paranormal with a good Poppy Z. Brite title, my choice today is none other than The Ghost on My Couch, L.A. Gilbert’s shmoopy and heartwarming novel that pits love against near-impossible odds.

Who says Halloween can’t be a little sweet too, right? :o)

This short novel tells the story of Alex Tanner, a man whose life can be summed up in two consistent events: working a demanding job and watching recorded episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, with little variation in the pattern of his days. After one particularly grueling shift at work, Alex comes home to unwind with a glass of wine in front of the television…only to discover a rather oddly dressed man sitting on his couch.

Sid Jones is that man. Or, rather, it’s the ghost of Sid Jones who’s parked on Alex’s sofa. He has no idea how he came to be in the limbo between life and death where he now resides, but he does know that in death, as in life, he’s entirely alone. Having grown up in the foster care system, and being a naturally shy and unassuming man, Sid knows there is no one to mourn his passing. But god, he’s sweet and gentle and entirely lovable, and it doesn’t take long for Alex to discover it.

Alex and Sid are completely endearing as a couple of men who have no idea how utterly fabulous they truly are. It takes seeing each through the other’s eyes, seeing how much each treasures the other’s friendship and how they come to value their connection that allows them to open their hearts to each other. And it works. Trust me, it works.

If you’re not into the darker side of Paranormal, are looking for something other than shifters and vamps and boo-wigglies, oh my!, to scratch your Halloween reading itch, and you’re looking for a completely smishable happily-ever-after, The Ghost on My Couch is the book you’ll want to read.

The Ghost on My CouchAlex Tanner is a male nurse who divides his time between his job and his television schedule. His idea of the perfect partner, like so many other people’s, is a tall, dark, and handsome man.

Preferably alive and breathing.

Surely that’s not asking too much?

Then an uninvited guest—a ghost, of all things—forces Alex to question what he’s always looked for in a lover and his definition of what makes a person so beautiful.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Exclusive Excerpts and Giveaway: The Family Collection Re-Release Tour with Cardeno C.

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Please join us in welcoming author Cardeno C. today, on the promo tour for the re-release of the Family Collection of books. We have an exclusive teaser excerpt from each of the books to share with you, and there’s also a giveaway–an e-copy of one of the series titles to one lucky reader. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win.

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More than EverythingBlurb More Than Everything: Time might not heal all wounds, but with two motivated and strong-willed men on a campaign to win him back, Charlie will get more than he ever thought possible.

As a teenager, Charlie “Chase” Rhodes meets Scott Boone and falls head over heels in love with the popular, athletic boy next door. Charlie thinks he’s living the dream when Scott says he feels the same way. But his dreams are dashed when Scott unexpectedly moves away.

Years later, Charlie meets brash and confident Adan Navarro, who claims all he wants is a round between the sheets. After eight months together, Charlie is convinced Adan returns his love. But when the opportunity comes to be open about their relationship, Adan walks away.

Time passes and life moves on, but when Charlie learns the only two men he’s ever loved are now in love with each other, his heart breaks all over again. Scott and Adan tell Charlie they want him back, but Charlie doesn’t know if he can trust two people who have hurt him so deeply. Time might not heal all wounds, but with two motivated and strong-willed men on a campaign to win him back, Charlie will get more than he ever thought possible.

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Excerpt: This one isn’t a picture, but it’s still going in the album. I’m not usually one to fixate on dates or times. I’ve been late to enough parties and meetings and missed enough flights to prove that fact. But there are a few things, a few dates, I’ll never forget. The very first one was Scott’s prom night. Well, technically, it was the next day, because midnight had passed.

When the year ended, I tore the page out of my calendar and I’ve kept it ever since, folded into a tiny square and stuffed into a pocket in my wallet. It traveled with me as I moved from apartment to apartment, from city to city; it kept me company in cars, subways, trains, airplanes, hell, even on a cruise ship. It’s all creased and worn, but I still have it—the piece of paper marking the date of my first kiss. Our first kiss.

I’ve gotten more skilled at using my lips and tongue since then—we both have. But that first kiss… There’s never been anything else quite like it.

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Something in the Way He NeedsBlurb Something in the Way He Needs: Controlled Asher didn’t expect to fall for free-spirited Daniel, but they’ll find what they desperately need in one another.

Police captain Asher Penaz’s staunch professionalism bleeds into his home life, down to his neatly pressed attire and spartan apartment. He enjoys being in charge and in control, so his sudden and powerful attraction to the lighthearted, free-spirited Daniel Tover throws him for a loop. In his entire life, Daniel has never gotten what he needs, so he moves to the next place, the next job, the next attempt to find something worth staying for, always landing at the top of his game, but never feeling like he belongs.

The chemistry between Asher and Daniel sizzles, but with all that fire comes the risk of getting burned. As both men struggle to learn themselves while getting to know each other, the lines of desire and control blur. If Daniel and Asher can walk through the flames together, they might find what they desperately need.

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Excerpt: Asher actually thought that would suck. He knew firsthand from what he saw at work every day that the future often held devastating news for people. And as far as reading minds, the world was full of jackasses. No reason to want to get into those heads. Besides, if Daniel could read minds, he’d know Asher wanted nothing more than to get Daniel naked and…

“So am I bent over something or on my knees?” Daniel asked, his eyes sparkling and a happy smile taking over that cute-as-hell face.

“What?” Asher asked, dumbfounded.

“In that fantasy sequence you’ve got playing in your head right now, am I bent over some piece of furniture or am I on my knees?”

Asher swallowed hard and shook his head. “Neither, actually.”

“Oh.” Daniel’s cheeks reddened and he gestured his chin toward Asher’s packed crotch and the obvious erection trailing down his left thigh. “I just thought since you were turned on that maybe…”

“You were on your back. I was lying on top of you. And we were, um, kissing.”

Big brown eyes met his.

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Strong EnoughBlurb Strong Enough: When a casual hookup turns into the potential for love, staid Spencer realizes he wants to build a life with vibrant Emilio.

When twenty-two-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge.

Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his thirty-eight years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.

Buy Links: Amazon || All Romance eBoooks

Excerpt: Either the ground was shaking or he was. This couldn’t be real. Things like this didn’t happen to Spencer Derdinger: Great-looking men acting like he was some sort of catch. Hard-ons that wouldn’t quit. Free remodeling advice.

“A chance at what?” he asked, needing to understand what he was being asked, needing to know what was going on.

“A chance at you, baby.”

“I don’t know what that means. How old are you? I’m thirty-eight; that has to be older than you. Why do you keep calling me baby?”

Emilio stepped back and dragged his gaze from Spencer’s head to his feet and back again. Then he dipped down and whispered into Spencer’s ear. “I’m twenty-two. From the first day I saw you outside of your building, I’ve wanted you. Being older don’t matter. If anything, it’s a good thing. I think you’re hot as hell. All I need is a chance to show you how it can be between us.”

“I have no idea what that means,” Spencer whispered.

“It means that you’re my baby and I aim to prove it to you. If that word bothers you, I’ll use another one,” Emilio said. “But it won’t change nothing.” He leaned back and looked directly at Spencer as he let go of his hand and cupped Spencer’s bulge, squeezing and caressing him from balls to dick. “That clear enough?”

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The Half of UsBlurb The Half of Us: Short-tempered, arrogant heart surgeon Jason Garcia grew up wanting a close-knit family, but believes he ruined those dreams when he broke up his marriage. The benefit of divorce is having as much random sex as he wants, and it’s a benefit Jason is exploiting when he meets a sweet, shy man at a bar and convinces him to go home for a no-strings-attached night of fun.

Eight years living in Las Vegas hasn’t dimmed Abe Green’s optimism, earnestness, or desire to find the one. When a sexy man with lonely eyes propositions him, Abe decides to give himself a birthday present—one night of spontaneous fun with no thoughts of the future. But one night turns into two and then three, and Abe realizes his heart is involved.

For the first time, Abe feels safe enough with someone he respects and adores to let go of his inhibitions in the bedroom. If Jason can get past his own inhibitions and open his heart and his life to Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.

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Excerpt: “Jason,” Abe moaned. He swallowed thickly and tried to slow his suddenly rapid breathing. “Hi.”

“I thought that was you.” Jason slowly moved his palm down Abe’s arm. “You remember me too, huh?”

“I, uh, have a decent memory and you made a pretty good impression.”

“Pretty good?”

Feeling his cheeks heat, Abe ducked his head and ignored the question. “How’ve you been?”

“Fine.” Jason kept slowly moving his palm until he reached Abe’s hand, and then he curled his fingers around Abe’s. “Better now. Let’s get out of here.”

The feeling of Jason’s hot skin, the sound of his husky voice, and the sight of his broad body had Abe’s senses reeling. He remembered how good it felt to be touched by this man. He had never come so hard or had it last so long. Of course, he had never been tossed aside so quickly, either. He harbored no ill will toward Jason because he’d known going in how the night would end, but that didn’t mean he wanted a repeat of waking up alone the morning after.

“I don’t do that,” Abe said.

“As I recall, you do it really, really well.”

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Truth in the Dark by Amy Lane – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

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Title: Truth in the Dark

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 4 Hours and 40 Minutes

At a Glance: Truth in the Dark is a fantastic fairy tale, and I loved how this one ended.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: “I am not beautiful…”

Knife’s entire existence has been as twisted as his flesh and his face. The only thing beautiful in his life is his sister. When Gwennie is obliged to turn a suitor down because she fears to leave her brother to the brutality of their village, Knife is desperate for anything to ensure her happiness.

Her suitor’s cousin offers him a way out, but it won’t be easy. Aerie-Smith has been cursed to walk upright in the form of a beast, and his beloved village suffers from the same spell. Aerie-Smith offers Gwen a trousseau and some hope, if only Knife will keep him company on his island for the span of a year and perform one “regrettable task” at year’s end.

Knife is unprepared for the form the island’s curse takes on his own misshapen body. In one moment of magic, he is given the body of his dreams—and he discovers that where flesh meets spirit and appearance meet reality; sometimes the only place to find truth is in the darkness of a lover’s arms.

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Review: Truth in the Dark was actually the very first book I ever read by Amy Lane. I started off with a sample and before I knew it, I was downloading the rest of the story on my Kindle, and I haven’t missed one of her stories since, so when I saw that the book had finally made it to audio, my reaction was…MINE! And wow! It did more than meet my expectations as one of my all time favorite stories.

Nick J. Russo is a fairly new-to-me narrator, but Dreamspinner Press and Amy Lane picked a winner for narrating this novel. Russo did an amazing job of bringing Naef (aka Knife) to life. I could actually close my eyes and picture everything in my mind’s eyes as Russo narrated the story. I could feel Naef’s bitterness for the curveball life had thrown at him; yet knowing that deep down in his soul lay a beautiful person that only a beast could see. I could also sense the burden that Aerie-Smith carried inside him over one selfish act that affected not only him but his people as well.

Truth in the Dark is a fantastic fairy tale, and I loved how this one ended. And, it’s a highly recommended listen, a novel I would gladly listen to again and again. If you can’t listen to it, read it!

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You can buy Truth in the Dark here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jules, TJ Klune

Review: How to be a Normal Person by TJ Klune

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Title: How to be a Normal Person

Author: TJ Klune

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 290 Pages

At a GlanceI love so hard that this book exists.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

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Review: So, I just finished my first TJ Klune book – *waits for massive collective gasp to die down* – and, it was…utterly fantastic. It was so fantastic that I had to immediately go back in and read several passages over again. It was so fantastic that I have a strong feeling that even if I had read other TJ Klune books, this one would still be my favorite. I loved this book like crazy – for so many reasons.

First of all – there’s Gus. Gustavo Tiberius is “abnormal and weird and strange.” And, that’s what makes him so perfect. Gus has never left Abby, Oregon, was best friends with his dad, and is pretty outspoken about his aversion to people and basically any social situation. One of the things that instantly endeared Gus to me was that he reminded me a lot of my son, who is also a giant bag of awesome quirks; I loved him more with every page.

Next, there’s Casey. New in town, and working at his aunt’s coffee shop, Casey is instantly smitten when he meets Gus. Casey is an asexual stoner hipster. This description – repeated many times throughout the book – cracked me up every time. In fact, the word hipster is in the book eighty-one times. Now, most people probably have an idea what a hipster is… but, in case you might find it helpful, here you go…Hipster, as defined by Urban Dictionary: Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20s and 30s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter… Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. According to Gus, Casey and his friends definitely fit this bill – and, initially, Gus is NOT impressed.

Though Gus is outraged at first about Lottie not telling him about her nephew, he quickly finds himself unable to stop thinking about Casey, and, in fact, wanting to change himself for the other man. Wanting to be “normal”. So, where does he head for help? The internet, of course! Oh, man…the website he finds and decides to use as his go-to for the voice of “normal” is beyond hilarious. There were several times where I couldn’t even fathom what I was reading, and was terrified at what advice Gus would take to heart next!

Somehow, though, simply by being his own amazing self, the boy that Pastor Tommy raised, Gus finds a way to make it work with Casey. He manages to connect with Casey, even though intimacy is difficult for them both for different reasons. He learns a lot about himself in the process, and begins to really heal and find happiness again after the devastating loss of his father.

I have to say something quickly about Pastor Tommy…I don’t know if there ever has been a time when I loved a character so damn much who wasn’t even in the book. We get to know him through a series of scenes from Gus’s memory, and he became so real to me, so amazing, that I could feel the pain from his loss. Some of them were funny of course – how can there not be humor with an old hippie stoner raising a kid? – but mostly they were beautifully heartwarming and moving, the last few even bringing tears to my eyes. Pastor Tommy was a kickass dad.

And, now we’ve come to the ‘this-review-is-getting-soooo-long-and-there-are-too-many-fantastic-things-to-mention’ montage. So, here we go…more epic things you would miss out on if you didn’t read this book…Stoner Scrabble…a ferret called Harry S. Truman…Gus handling Casey’s friends like a boss…a Vespa gang who are possible lesbian sister-lovers…a know-it-all inspirational calendar…and, again, Pastor Tommy.

There were so many layers to this story; it was equal parts hilarious, touching, informative (heh), and romantic. I’m sure there will be some out there who will say, “There’s no sex.  How can there be romance?” There is TONS of romance. It may be even more romantic because there is no sex. Casey and Gus are completely swoon-worthy.

I don’t know how TJ Klune ever got through this manuscript. I know some authors go through the same emotions while writing that we go through while reading – in this case: hysterical laughter, eye rolling, swooning, and tears, to name just a handful – which must have made writing this one an adventure and a joy. I know reading it sure was. I love so hard that this book exists.

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

You can read How to be a Normal Person here:

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Jayden Brooks, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Clique by Jayden Brooks

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Title: Clique (Heartsville)

Author: Jayden Brooks

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 78 Pages

At a Glance: Funny, sweet, and sarcastic, Clique is a story about taking risks, hanging on, and fighting for something real.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Adam Locke’s youthful looks aren’t the blessing everyone seems to think. At twenty-eight, he’s a successful photographer with his own studio and respected by his peers—but that doesn’t seem to matter to the men who catch his eye. Instead, he’s brushed aside like an underage twink with a daddy fetish.

When a hot, bearded stranger stops him from accidentally walking into traffic, Adam looks up and finds the man of his dreams. Unfortunately, his first meeting with Brandon ends with him being dismissed as a kid. Again. Adam can’t help his annoyance. He also can’t help staring (and drooling) whenever he spots Brandon walking through the neighborhood with a different dog.

He watches from afar, wondering about Brandon’s story—until the day he’s dared to take another chance. It’s just the push Adam needs, and finally, he catches Brandon’s interest. Now if only he could figure out the key to getting taciturn Brandon to open up and let Adam in. But Adam knows sometimes all it takes is a little patience for the last piece to click into place.

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Review: When Piper Vaugh said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that sometimes you just need a bit of fluff reading mixed in with all the drama and angst we also love, she couldn’t have been speaking more of the truth for me. This sweet compilation of stories is set in the enchanting little gayborhood known as Heartsville, a place that simply oozes charm and feels ripe for two people meeting and falling madly in love.

The first thing that drew me in to Jayden Brooks’ Clique is the humor, and I fell for Adam Locke’s voice right from the outset of the book. This story is not only told in the first person, but Brooks also allows Adam to break the fourth wall, and I have to say I liked the conversational vibe of the story, which wouldn’t have worked at all if Adam hadn’t been so likeable. Adam speaks to us while he’s thinking out loud and telling his story, and I found myself smiling on more than one occasion as he drew me in with his self-deprecating ways.

Adam is a grown man who often passes for many years younger than his actual age, a frequent mistake which seems to be a factor in him honing a bit of a sarcastic streak. Which immediately endeared him to me because, really, who doesn’t love a little sarcasm? One of the things that I think gave Clique a little realism, although it’s still a total meet-cute, is that when Adam and Brandon do first meet—or, I should say, when Brandon knocks Adam off his feet. Literally—it’s not a magical “aaaah” angels singing, harps playing moment. And it also involves a pup, so bonus cute! Brandon is the prickly-prickly to Adam’s funny-prickly, and the contrast worked for me because it gave the author the chance to offer a slower build to the relationship; or, at least as slow as the word count would allow.

Add to that a hilariously awkward “meet the parents” moment, not to mention that mischievous pup, as well as an almost deal-breaker misunderstanding that an obstinate Brandon let get a little out of control, and I wasn’t sure Adam and Brandon were ever going to get to the point where they’d get to know each other, shall we say, more intimately? But, fitting into the sweet scenarios these books are meant to offer, Jayden Brooks ultimately gets down to the plucking of the sentimental heartstrings that leads this book to its happy ending.

Adam gives us a peek into his story through the lens of his narrative, a story about taking risks, hanging on, and fighting for something real, something more, and something everlasting. At its heart, that’s what Clique is all about.

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You can buy Clique here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Aisling Mancy, Giveaways, Shira Anthony

Guest Post and Giveaway: A Brief and Frank Discussion About “A Solitary Man” by Aisling Mancy

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A very special thank you to Lisa and all the folks at The Novel Approach Reviews for hosting the book tour kickoff for A Solitary Man! It’s great to be here!

Shira Anthony and I have more than a passing affinity for aiding abused youth. In fact, we’re rabid about it. When we set out to write A Solitary Man, we wanted to write a story to raise awareness about two very important issues: youth placed in solitary confinement and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Both have devastating effects on our youth of today and leave everlasting invisible scars.

It’s important to note that Shira and I come at these issues from two very different perspectives. She is a public service attorney who faces these horrid issues in the normal course of her work day. I advocate for children who have survived these circumstances. In spite of our diametric approaches, we agree that both solitary confinement and CSEC must cease to exist.

In A Solitary Man, Chance is a district attorney determined to get drugs off the streets of his city. His soul has been ravaged by his experiences during youth, not the least of which were losing his mother to drug addiction, placement in foster care, and subsequent solitary confinement. Shira will talk more about solitary confinement and its effects during this book tour and I encourage you to read her post.

Also in A Solitary Man, Xavier is an ex-FBI agent having worked directly for CARD for a number of years and closed his mind to the heinous crimes he’s witnessed in order to do his job and save sexually trafficked youth. His soul is ravaged by the loss of two boys on a recent mission yet he remains determined to break up a child sex trafficking cartel.

When the two men come together to protect a witness-in-common, they battle personal demons as well as the demons they face in real life in order to accomplish their incredibly tough jobs.

We’d like to believe that commercial sexual exploitation of children is somewhere way down the list of crimes in the United States. Sadly, it isn’t. The US ranks #3 in the world for sexually exploiting children—ahead of most third world countries. Los Angeles is the primary portal in North America for child sex trafficking, and approximately 49-60% of these youth are boys. Statistics show that boys are sexually abused on par with or more often than girls. If we, as advocates, are lucky enough to be able to rescue youth from abusive environments, sadly, there are no resources for boys. Hence, it is incredibly important that we come together and get involved to help these youth.

How can you help? It’s easy. Become a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASA will train you and show you what to do. Find your local CASA office and give them a call. If you don’t see a CASA office listed in your state, become a volunteer Guardian ad Litem. Look for the GAL Program in your state. Youth of today need you.

It goes without saying that A Solitary Man isn’t for the faint of heart. We’ve written about tough issues, and we want to educate and raise awareness. That said, the dry humor, wild rollercoaster ride of a thriller, and passion are sure to keep you entertained!

Thank you for joining us in the celebration of Chance, Xav, and A Solitary Man! Go buy the book and read it!

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SolitaryMan[A]FSAuthors Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy have teamed up to write a red-hot action-packed thriller!

A Solitary Man from Dreamspinner Press November 6th!

Preorder now from Dreamspinner PressARe. Coming soon to Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Add A Solitary Man to Your Goodreads & Booklikes Shelves

Like A Solitary Man on Facebook

Blurb: Sparks fly when Chance meets tall, sexy Xav at a Wilmington bar and they have the hottest one-nighter of their lives. But Chance doesn’t do repeats, Xav seems detached, and they go their separate ways without a word. Two months later, when closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild meets Dare’s Landing’s newest deputy sheriff, Xavier “Xav” Constantine, Evan isn’t only wary. He’s irritated as hell.

Xavier is a former FBI agent turned deputy sheriff who is hot on the trail of a South American child prostitution ring. Evan is fighting to put an end to rampant cocaine trafficking and chafing under the thumb of an election-hungry boss. When someone tries to kill the thirteen-year-old witness who holds the key to both their investigations, they’re forced to work together as they put their lives on the line to protect him. As Chance and Xav collide in heat of a sweltering North Carolina summer, dodging bullets and chasing bad guys isn’t the only action going on.

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About the Authors:

Shira Anthony loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 36′ catamaran sailboat, “Lands Zen,” at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

Find Shira on blogTwitter @WriterShira, Facebook, and Goodreads and Subscribe to Shira’s monthly newsletter for updates, free fiction, and subscriber-only contests!

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Aisling Mancy is an author who lives, most of the time, on the West Coast of the United States. Aisling writes adult fantasy, science fiction, adult LGBTQ romance, and fiction for gay young adults as C. Kennedy.

Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Aisling doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Aisling contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Aisling can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much-maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

Find Aisling on blogTwitter @AislingMancy, FacebookGoodreadsBooklikes, and Aisling does respond to emails because, after all, it is all about you, the reader.

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THE GIVEAWAY

Thanks so much for joining Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy on the blog tour for their upcoming novel A Solitary Man. To enter for the chance to win an e-book from both Shira’s and Aisling’s backlists (**excl. A Solitary Man**) OR a tote bag which includes a little swag and signed paperback books from both authors, click on the Rafflecopter widget and follow the entry instructions.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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FINAL SM Blog Tour Meme Draft2 black

Follow the Tour:

Thursday, October 29th Cody is at The Novel Approach Reviews

Friday, October 30th Cody is at Jo & Isa Love Books

Tuesday, November 4th Cody is at Bike Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 5th

Cody is at Joyfully Jay Reviews

Shira is at Prism Book Alliance

Friday, November 6th RELEASE DAY CELEBRATION!

Yarning to Write Kermit Flail with lovely Amy Lane!

Cody is at Divine Magazine

Cody is on Dreampsinner’s Blog

Saturday, November 7th Cody is at Love Bytes Reviews

Sunday, November 8th

Shira is at My Fiction Nook

LIVE FACEBOOK CHAT with Shira & Cody 2-5pm EST

Monday, November 9th Cody is at My Fiction Nook

Tuesday, November 10th Shira is at Bike Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 11th Shira is at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Cover Reveal, Damon Suede, Giveaways

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Pent Up by Damon Suede

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Title: Pent Up
Author: Damon Suede
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 100k Words
Release Date: November 20, 2015
Sub-Genre: Romantic Suspense
Blurb: Pent Up: mix business with pleasure and take cover.

Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.

Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?

What’s a bulletcatcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.

Pre-Order Pent Up in paperback and e-book formats at Dreamspinner Press. Pre-Order links coming soon to Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and other fine e-tailers.

And be sure to watch for the audiobook, too, narrated by Charlie David.

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Damon SuedeAbout the AuthorDamon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Having lived all over, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter.

Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been a full-time writer for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He has won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.

SOCIAL LINKS

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THE GIVEAWAY

Thanks so much for joining us in the cover reveal for Damon Suede’s Pent Up! To enter for the chance to win an autographed PRINT copy of the book, just click on the Rafflecopter widget and follow the instructions.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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5 Stars, Cardeno C., Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lynn, Self-Published

Review: Jesse’s Diner by Cardeno C.

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Jesse’s Diner (Hope Collection)

Author: Cardeno C.

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 112 Pages

At a Glance: What I loved most about this story was its simplicity. Right to the point, no angst, no miscommunication. Just two people finding love and companionship for all the right reasons.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.

Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, twenty-two-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.

Despite some challenges, thirty-nine-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another, all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true.

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Review: I’ve loved everything I’ve read by this author and Jesse’s Diner was no exception. What a great story.

After reading the blurb I wasn’t too sure I wanted to read this. With the age difference and the love interest being the main character’s best friend’s dad, I didn’t think it would be something that interested me. I found myself coming back to it, rereading the blurb. Because I’ve loved reading this author in the past, I decided what the hell. I’m so happy I did.

What I loved most about this story was its simplicity. Right to the point, no angst, no miscommunication. Just two people finding love and companionship for all the right reasons. I thought I would have a problem with the age difference between the characters, but the author did such a great job with making them equals that age was never an issue.

Being in Tanner’s head throughout the entire story was a real treat. His humor, insecurities and overall amazement about actually being in a relationship with Steve was hilarious, especially when they are intimate for the first time. Tanner’s inner ramblings will stay with me for a long time. Too funny! And since there was so much dialogue between the two characters, I never felt as though I was missing the other person’s perspective.

Along with the lightness and humor, there were some somber moments. Steve’s late partner, Jesse, is part of the story even though he’s not there physically. We get a little insight into their relationship and see how Tanner first came into their lives. We’re also thrown for a loop, at least I was, with Steve’s big reveal. I’m not one to give away spoilers, so I won’t start now, but I thought the subject was handled amazingly well. I liked how the author touched on the issue a little bit then moved on. To me, it felt like a very realistic scenario in today’s world.

As I’m reading this story and loving everything about it, there’s a huge announcement at the end that made my heart melt. It made me love this story even more. Again, no spoilers. You’ll just have to read it yourself and find out. I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

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You can buy Jesse’s Diner here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Self-Published, Thianna Durston

Review: Discovery by Thianna Durston

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Discovery (Drakyl Ranch: Book One)

Author: Thianna Durston

Publisher: NQWYE Press

Pages/Word Count: 154 Pages

At a Glance: Discovery is a good beginning to the Drakyl Ranch series.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Living in Montana and working the ranch is all Aaron wants to do for the rest of his life. Diagnosed as allergic to the sun thirteen years previous, every day is a struggle to get out of bed. Having to wear long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and even material to cover his face from the effects of the sun, just makes it all worse. Now, in his thirty-second year, he is sure this will be his last summer. While he hates it, he knows he needs to come to terms with the truth and put things in order for his younger cousins. Before he does so, he heads out for one night of pleasure before facing what’s coming.

Jaret loves excitement and new adventures. For over five hundred years, he has sought them out. In Montana on a whim, he comes across someone he doesn’t expect, someone who makes him feel things he does not understand and does not want to give up. In no time at all, he feels like he cannot live without Aaron. The only problem is Aaron doesn’t know who he is, what he is, nor that he isn’t going to die. Not on Jaret’s watch. With a plan to help the other man discover who he is in place, he only has one thing to worry about: whether an ancient enemy will come and destroy everything he now holds dear.

Dividers Review: Discovery is the first book in the new Drakyl Ranch series by Thianna Durston. The lore and mythology of this story is a different concept for me in regards to drakyl versus vampyre. The word “vampire” has a totally different meaning in this –verse, and no relationship to what this story is all about. We find that the vampyre are smelly and just plain evil all around, and that drakyl are a genetic link between vampyre and drakyl. Ms. Durston provides a scientific theory on how they came about.

Drakyl is actually the last name of the family that lives on the Montana ranch. We find cousins Aaron, Adam, Stephan, Jeffery, and Conner working the Drakyl Ranch with their elderly uncle, Davis. Everyone gets along great, but Uncle Davis and the boys worry about Aaron. He is the oldest and is suffering from an illness. He has come to realize he doesn’t have long to live, so he decides to go into town and have one last fling. There he meets up with Jaret, the mysterious stranger who has been a drakyl for many years.  Once Aaron and Jaret start learning about each other, we find that they don’t necessarily agree on everything.

I thought it odd that Uncle Davis hadn’t shared his knowledge with Aaron sooner, as Aaron was suffering. The reaction of the cousins when they find out what their destiny is, is without fear and they accept it calmly. Maybe they had that reaction because they were sort of abandoned by their families and sent to live with their uncle because they were considered different. There is also an abundance of past history about the drakyl that Aaron and Jaret will be discovering as the series progresses. They also have to face danger as they take up the battle against the vampyre.

Discovery is a good beginning to the Drakyl Ranch series. Ms. Durston has created enough characters and history to keep me curious. Since we get a little glimpse of the second book, I’m looking forward to this new paranormal adventure.

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

You can buy Discovery here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, S.C. Wynne

Review: Home to Danger by S.C. Wynne

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Home to Danger

Author: S.C. Wynne

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I highly recommend this book, as it was an engaging and easy read.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jason Sinclair isn’t very good at relationships, which is no surprise given a childhood with an eccentric father and an unloving, emotionally damaged mother. After leaving home at seventeen, Jason has spent the past four years doing everything he could to stay away. That changes when he learns his mother is dying of cancer, and he grudgingly returns to Larame Bay to say good-bye.

Word on the street is that Jason will sell his family’s property and run back to LA the minute his mother dies, but when Jason meets the new groundskeeper, the sexy and confident Adam Trent, all that changes. As Jason begins to fall for Adam, he surprises everyone, including himself, by sticking around after all.

However, it doesn’t take long to realize someone out there desperately wants Jason gone from Larame Bay and will make sure that happens—one way or another.

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Review: S.C. Wynne’s bio states that she likes to write characters who are usually a little jaded, funny and ultimately, redeemed through love…. this sums up Jason Sinclair exactly.

Jason has had a hard upbringing, what with his dad dying when he was young and his mother being emotionally distant. Is it any wonder that his last boyfriend called him dead inside? S.C. Wynne knows how to write her characterizations – I could picture Jason and his mother, the housekeeper Belinda, and Adam the very sexy groundskeeper. This is not an easy journey, as absolution never is, but it is a believable journey, and my heart ached for these characters – while simultaneously laughing at the jokes Jason tells. Nothing about this story is trite; add a little mystery on top of the emotional, and the time while reading this book just flies by!  Because not only are Jason and Adam falling in love, but since Jason’s mom is dying, the vultures are circling for the lucrative property they own, which will go to Jason on his mother’s death, and someone is willing to commit murder to make sure that they get first dibs on the land. Jason learns to open himself up emotionally with the help and support of Adam, and they both have to figure out how not to die in the process.

How does S.C. Wynne keep all these balls in the air, plot-wise, while keeping the whole book upbeat and witty?  Incredibly.  Interestingly. Impossibly well! I highly recommend this book, as it was an engaging and easy read. I thoroughly enjoyed this story!

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You can buy Home to Danger here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

 

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, J.H. Knight, Reviewed by Sadonna, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Another Shot by J.H. Knight

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Another Shot (Heartsville)

Author: J.H. Knight

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 74 Pages

At a Glance: Definitely recommended for fans of shorter works with some angsty moments and a happy ending.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: The town of Heartsville means something different to everyone who lives there. For Aaron Forester, it’s a gay-friendly buffer between himself and the rest of the world. After being outed in high school and bullied to the point of violence, his family uprooted their lives and relocated to the small hamlet. He’s moved on from all that and now owns a popular café in the bustling shopping district. But after twenty years of happy living, Aaron’s past creeps up on him in the most unexpected way.

Brad Collins only has one regret and he’s carried it with him since he was a teenager. When he moves to Heartsville and gets set up on a blind date with the most adorable, engaging man he’s met in a long time, he couldn’t be happier. But Brad didn’t expect the guy to be the person he outed in high school—whom he’s now falling in love with.

Aaron and Brad hit it off instantly—in and out of the bedroom. But after a long overdue apology and a small serving of resentment, is their fledgling relationship worth another shot?

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Review: Another Shot is another winner for author J.H. Knight. I had the pleasure of meeting her at GRL a couple of weeks ago and slightly gushed over The Last Thing He Needs. On the strength of that initial offering, I jumped at the chance to review another story.

Aaron is pretty happy in his life. Despite being outed as a teenager, which resulted in bullying so harsh his family moved, he’s made a good life in his adopted hometown. He has a loving family – mom and dad and sister Mandy. He has a profitable business. What he doesn’t have is a partner, but he’s been relatively okay with that. But now his BFF Justin is settling down, and Aaron thinks maybe he’s missing something.

His sister Mandy wants to fix him up, and while reluctant, he agrees. When he meets Brad, he thinks he’s died and gone to heaven. Brad is just his type and appears to be a good guy. He even likes children! They begin dating and Aaron is happier than he’s ever been. You know that means a shoe will have to fall. ;)

When Aaron’s parents are cleaning out their house, requiring their children to get their old belongings, Aaron stumbles on the thing that cost him his happy high school life. After Aaron and Brad spend the night together, we eventually discover that Brad is connected to this incident. When Brad confesses that he was there, Aaron does not react well.

I don’t want to be spoilery, so I will just say that there are some nice twists and turns in this story that lead to a very satisfying resolution. In a slightly unexpected way. There is an HEA, but both men have to work for it. It’s not necessarily about forgiveness, but it is about letting go and acknowledging the past without forgetting its impact.

Definitely recommended for fans of shorter works with some angsty moments and a happy ending.

TNA_Signature_Sadonna

 

 

 

You can buy Another Shot here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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DSPP's Genre Talk, Lissa Kasey

DSPP Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and Lissa Kasey

DSP Publications

Yay, it’s time for Genre Talk again here at The Novel Approach Reviews! This week we have DSP Publications author Lissa Kasey here to talk about her new Urban Fantasy/Paranormal novel Evolution: Genesis. And as a special treat, she’s giving away a signed paperback! So grab a cuppa, put up your feet, and let’s let Lissa tell us all about her genre and why she loves all its delightful (and sometimes impossible!) possibilities.

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Evolution: GenesisEvolution: Genesis

Evolution made music history when one bandmate turned vampire and another joined the vampire hate movement Preservation Group. Gene is trying to cling to the music as his relationship with Kerstrande begins to spiral into the darkness of hidden demons. Jaded by his years as a vampire flunkie, Kerstrande uses his newly won power over New York City to destroy his enemies and protect Gene. But a demon called a Fallen begins to take control of KC, slowly devouring his soul and through him the entire city. Battling against the evil that wants to destroy him, Kerstrande fights to hold onto Gene’s brightness.

A power unlike any other grows within Gene and shines like a beacon to the demons surrounding him. Realizing that only he can save his lover, Gene is willing to do anything to shake the darkness loose. Even if it means reshaping the future, the band, and his own existence.

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Carole: So, Lissa, let’s start with the obvious—tell us about your genre.

Lissa: I write Urban Fantasy. The simple definition is supernatural elements integrated in modern society. Like Supernatural, Buffy, Heroes, etc. It’s a question of “what if” the supernatural really existed in our modern world. And I have to say really, what if? Have you ever seen a ghost? Seen anything you just can’t explain? Experienced a miracle? These are all elements of the genre. Typical UF tends to be a little darker. Often the MC hunting the bad guys who happen to not be quite human. It’s about the story, the world, and the people. That’s why I love it so much.

Carole: So is that why your work contains the M/M dynamic? The possibilities?

Lissa: There are a lot of people who question why I write m/m or as I call it LGBTUQA fiction. I always wonder why. Why do I have to write “het” fiction? Why can’t my characters be a spectrum? I myself identify as asexual so I guess writing in the spectrum feels more natural for me. It’s a level of unacceptance, really. The characters I identify with easiest to write about are mostly male. It feels natural. Not sure there has to be another reason.

Carole: Absolutely not, but it’s something everyone always wants to know, isn’t it. So let’s move on to what’s really important. Tell us about Evolution: Genesis.

Lissa: Evolution/Evolution: Genesis is a novel that took about ten years to write. It was a lot about my evolution as a writer, as well as the evolution of the darkness of the characters trying to break out and destroy them. Gene is the average kid, barely out on his own, only kind of smart, but he’s got a big heart. KC has seen the worst of the world and knows it’s out to get him. The darkness is eating him from the inside out, and only Gene seems to be able to push it back. They have to learn to work together. Embrace the bad with the good and create their own future. Which is why I love these books so much. While their demons are very real and physical, this story could very much be about a lot of psychological demons we all fight every day.

Carole: Evolution: Genesis is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Evolution: Genesis and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Lissa: For a long time I’ve used the tagline: More than just romance. That’s what I write. My books have always been more story driven than relationship driven. Yes, there are often relationships in the books. It’s a fact of life. Most of us couldn’t survive the day to day struggles without some sort of relationship. But it’s never my focus. In Evolution it’s really on the backburner. Yes, KC and Gene are a couple, but it’s not the point of the story any more than Frodo and Samwise’s relationship in The Lord of the Rings was the point of the story. It changes them as people, helps them through the good and bad times, and gives them a hand to hold when the fire erupts (literally in Evolution), but there is so much more going on. So many other things that are important.

Carole: And speaking of things that are important, let’s get to my favorite part of Genre Talk: tell us about the evolution (ha!) of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Evolution: Genesis?

Lissa: Ha. Shall I say it? Fan fiction. It’s a concept that I really don’t care for in this day and age, but 10 years ago when I was in college and stuck in class for three to four hours at a time I did a lot of fan fiction reading. I was also a huge fan of anime/manga (still am). There was a series which is very old now about a snarky writer and an over-exuberant singer who just found each other. And then the comics sort of got weird. I stopped reading, but the seed had been planted. What if snarky writer was actually an ex musician who was now hiding the fact he was a vampire? Or if the singer had weird powers that drew the supernatural to him like a moth to flame? I actually wrote two other books that overlapped the Evolution series, but the characters have since vanished. The evolution of the series is complete and it only took ten years to do so.

Carole: So, with all that going on, why did you feel this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Lissa: Again this goes back to the point I made above about why I write m/m. There aren’t a lot of spectrum characters in UF. Lots of side characters have begun to pop up in the past ten or so years, but not MCs. I wondered why. There’s always some super hot girl with a dozen guys after her, or a tall, dark, handsome guy with girls immediately drawn to him. I never really understood it. (Probably due to my asexuality) But it sort of became the norm. Expected. Which means for me at least it lacks excitement. I’m sure there are a million ways to make a het relationship exciting. I still read it. I just don’t write it. The M/M dynamic is still interesting, and so I’ll keep pushing the boundaries of my comfort levels as I continue to explore the depths of my characters. They are really the ones who choose, not me.

Carole: Before we wrap up, Lissa, I have one more for you: if there’s one thing you hope to convey about this story, one small, maybe even subtextual thing you really want readers to get, what would that be?

Lissa: There is this long sequence through these novels about time. KC is always checking his watch. He’s sort of obsessed with time, yet he’s a vampire, so for him time has essentially stopped. It’s a bit of irony. And while it was toned down in the final version, it is still present.

Carole: Awesome, Lissa. I really enjoyed this Q&A and I’m so pleased you agreed to come and let us have a peek inside your creative process. Thanks so much!

And thanks to our Awesome Readers for spending time with us today. Lissa’s got a fantastic giveaway for you, but before you scroll down to the Rafflecopter widget, please enjoy this brilliant excerpt from Evolution: Genesis.

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Excerpt: A group of people stood gathered around the address Lee had given me. Everyone was dressed in combat gear—heavy boots, camouflage, goofy goggles, and gloves. I stood out in my jeans, brightly colored hoodie, and orange hair. Lee walked up in battle fatigues similar to the rest of the group, bandana around his forehead. I felt like I’d stepped out of New York and into some weird third-world country, ready to go into battle. There were guns and knives, but I didn’t know enough about weapons to know if they were real. They looked real, but so did a lot of toys nowadays.

“Everyone ready?” Lee took charge. “Target is in the western quadrant. Scouts have cleared the area of all living persons, so it should be a straight in and straight out assignment.” It sounded like a game. Quadrant, assignment, and all that. I shrugged and got into the van with everyone, feeling marginally safer in the group. Lee dropped a small chain with a cross attached into my hand.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

“It’s protection. You point it at evil, and they stay away.”

That made no sense. Metal was metal. And I wasn’t Christian. I shoved it in my pocket anyway.

Everyone stared at me.

“What’s the deal?” I asked them. Had they heard “Midnight Rain”? I’d been stopped a few times on the street by people wanting autographs, but mostly no one seemed to recognize me. Maybe ’cause my hair was always changing. Who knew?

“Did you bring any bombs with you?” one of them asked.

Bombs?

“We’ve tried to copy you, but nothing we’ve found can burn that hot. Are you using napalm? We tried to get it, but it’s government restricted and heavily monitored.”

If I’d been any more confused, tiny duckies would have been spinning around my head like they did with cartoon characters. Lee gripped my arm.

“Leave him be. I invited him, but he doesn’t have to do anything. Our methods are probably too juvenile for him. So just stop.”

Everyone nodded with wide eyes. Obviously I was the only one in the dark. The van stopped, and everyone got out. Lee pulled me along with him. He smudged dark paint on his face, then dug through his backpack to find something.

“Do you have any weapons on you?”

“Why would I need a weapon?” The area looked decimated, something that happened when the vampires had come out more than ten years ago. There had been a sort of microwar between vampires and police. The government had come in with the military and stopped it, but the damage had been done. Some cities, like New York, had entire areas destroyed and turned into ghost towns. Buildings had been turned to rubble, nothing grew, no one dared to enter those places anymore—except, apparently, for a bunch of kids with a hard-on to fight zombies or something stupid. A game. Ha. I was more likely to twist an ankle out here than run into a zombie. I’d seen a lot of weird crap in my life, but I was pretty sure zombies didn’t really exist. I was open to being proved wrong, however, so long as it didn’t try to eat my brains.

The broken city was devoid of everything. Having never been here before, I expected lots of ghosts. After all, hundreds, maybe even thousands had died. But there was nothing. Not even a flicker. I’d learned about the war in school, but like everything else politicians didn’t like, it was downplayed until it seemed almost unimportant. I’d never visited Old Town simply because why would anyone want to? The idea of thousands of ghosts would have scared me, but the lack of anything worried me more.

Everyone headed toward a building. Lee handed me a pair of goggles. I stared at them a minute, then put them on. Cool, infrared.

“Where’d you get these?” I so wanted my own pair.

“Army supply store.” Lee pulled out a knife and handed it to me. “I’ll feel better if you take it. It’s blessed and empowered by a whole church. Even if you have your own stuff, just take it.”

I frowned at the weapon. It was in a sheath, but when I opened the snap and pulled it out, it was real enough and very sharp. I was more likely to cut off my own fingers, so I shoved it back in the leather and snapped it shut before putting it in my hoodie pocket.

“Where are we going? These buildings don’t look safe.”

“They’ve been cleared. Stay away from the upper levels and watch your step. The higher up you go, the more unstable they are. He’s new, so it should be an easy hunt. He’ll be clumsy and loud and really hungry.” He paused, waving the rest of the team to positions, I guessed. “The young are always hungry.”

Hungry? Should I have brought some pizza? I followed him into the building, picking my way around debris and giant holes in the floor. Safe. Yeah, right.

“What are we hunting?” I whispered, feeling a little silly since we were already to the second floor and everyone was moving room to room like SWAT on TV.

“Vampire.”

The word froze me in my tracks.

“You’re kidding, right?” The infrared goggles let me see the team just fine, but it was hard to see the floor or anything else. Hunting a vampire? Were these kids insane? “Like a real vampire?”

“Shh.” Lee hushed me.

The place actually looked pretty clean. No graffiti or debris in the hall, other than pieces of the wall. It sort of looked like my old neighborhood. The door to the third floor hung on its hinges. Something had been in a hurry to open it and hadn’t cared about handles or locks. A weird smell irritated my nose, and I had to pause to sneeze twice. Both times Lee shushed me. If there was a vampire in here, maybe I could warn him. But that meant I had to find him first.

I pushed my way past the rest of the team, taking “point”—or so they called it—and headed toward the third floor. The floor was even less stable. Patches of the outer wall gave way, letting the night breeze flow through it. Was there someone else here? I focused on my surroundings, calling any lingering spirits who might still be hanging around.

My grandfather often said my aura shone like a beacon to the dead, a homing signal to let them know that I was there to direct them to the correct path. Though how exactly I was supposed to do that seemed to stump him. No amount of “go into the light” could make a spirit leave. Mostly they just left on their own.

Even pushing out extra power, there was nothing. It was so weird. I’d never been in a place so barren of any kind of life, even spiritual life.

Lee came up behind me as I approached the stairway to the final floor. “It’s up there. Do you hear it?”

Something was up there. Could have been a raccoon for all I knew. Well, yeah. I guess I knew, since whatever it was didn’t feel human. Not a person in a costume, then. But Joel and KC never felt like this, so devoid of everything. Crap. I sucked in a deep breath. Lee kicked the door open, and something flew at me in the same moment. Pain smashed into the right side of my head, and I hit the wall so hard I went through it, landing in a room half-crumbled down. The goggles went spinning away. Stars danced around my vision as darkness swam up for a minute, threatening to take over. Something tore into my shoulder, bringing me back to consciousness and making me scream all at once. Whatever it was, it had a human shape, but no aura.

I swung upward with my good arm as hard as I could, aiming for the side of its head. Aim for the ears to disorient, that’s what Cris had always taught me. It grunted but didn’t let go. In fact, I was pretty sure it was gnawing on my shoulder. Maybe it was a fucking zombie!

With no choice but to fight dirty, I swung my knee up and slammed into the sensitive area between its legs. No matter what it was, it would go down. Cris had promised me. And he was right. It howled and fell back for a moment, long enough for me to roll away and get shakily to my feet. My shoulder ached, and I could feel the heat of blood staining my clothes. It probably should have hurt more, and that it didn’t worried me. My arm wouldn’t move. The shoulder pulsed, a dull ache, and the heat of the blood poured down my chest and back. Deep wound. That couldn’t be good.

It was up in seconds, mimicking my movement, shifting in whatever direction I did. Where were all the people I’d come in with? Didn’t anyone care that the newbie was being attacked by something? Only a few feet stood between me and a deadly drop of three stories. The floor and walls didn’t look strong enough to hold much weight, so I tried to ease away from the edge.

It flew across the room, lunging at me and slamming me into the floor, hands locked on my throat. Black starbursts exploded across my sight as my lungs screamed for air. I clawed at its hands, yanked at its arms, kicked, but it didn’t budge. The knife Lee had given me dug into my side where I’d stuffed it in my pocket. I struggled to reach it before the creature succeeded in suffocating me. The second my fingertips brushed the hilt, I smashed my attacker with my fist again, aiming at the eyes. The grip loosened, and I opened the sheath and ripped the knife out, slashing forward.

Blood splashed me from a wound I’d opened up on its arm. But it kept coming. It bled, but it was determined to kill me. My lungs ached, and my shoulder hurt enough I couldn’t move it. Was this a true vampire? Not the dressed-up-nice-hiding kind like Kerstrande or Hane, but the real animal with no fear, no morals, just hunger? It didn’t speak, but I saw enough of it in the small amount of moonlight to know it had once been male. It was strong. It wanted to kill me.

He danced around me like he knew how to fight with a knife. I just held the weapon in front of me, praying for a chance to get away. I jabbed at it with the knife, but he smacked it away like I was nothing more than a child holding up a toy. I could have called the fire, but if I did, the whole building would go up. There were others inside, and as stupid as they were to play this game, they didn’t deserve to die. And what made it right for me to kill this thing? Maybe he was like Joel, lost. Maybe I could save him too.

He lunged at me, baring fangs like the stuff of horror movies in a face gaunt and rotting. This was not a vampire. What the hell was it?

“Stop!” I screamed at the creature.

It made an unearthly sound as it tackled me to the floor, extended fangs tearing for my throat.

“Stop!” I screamed again, heart pounding. Inches from my neck, he sagged. Hot liquid poured over me, then a horrible stench—like a sewer only magnified. Lee rolled the creature off me, the knife he’d given me in his grip, dripping blood. Everything inside me went cold as I watched the creature shudder. It looked human, a normal guy, probably no older than me. Darkness seeped from him like blood, slinking away, hiding in the pooling red mess that was the end of his existence. And once the black shadow was gone, all the cuts and bruises appeared. His skin took on an ashen tone. Blood burst from his flesh like from a balloon too full of water.

I lost the pizza I’d eaten earlier, and probably everything else I’d eaten for the past week.

“The young never die pretty. Old ones sort of dry up, I guess. The young ones just pop,” Lee was saying. His words made me heave again. He patted my back. “Thanks for cornering him. The blade only works in close combat if you shatter the heart. You had me worried for a minute there. But I realized you were testing me. My loyalty. I hope I passed.”

Passed? This guy was fucking insane. I wobbled to my feet, the pain in my shoulder bad enough to make my head spin. Hopefully I could make it downstairs without falling down them. My fingers were numb as I pulled the cell phone out of my pocket and slumped against the wall to drag my ass down the stairs. I’d killed some kid. Sure, he hadn’t been human anymore, but maybe I could have helped him.

The phone rang and rang. Cris was probably out hunting. I wondered what that meant since he fed on sex. Cruising, I guess. Would it matter? I hoped he didn’t kill anyone. Funny how the things that mattered to a person changed so much when they were faced with issues of life and death.

I sighed, hung up, and dialed again, praying for Cris to pick up. Was there a cab company in the whole country who would drive to this forbidden part of town for a guy bleeding to death on the doorstep of a building where some sort of undead had just been slaughtered?

“Gene?” Cris’s voice suddenly filled the line.

“I need help.” I finally reached the bottom floor. The world outside looked no different than when I’d gone in. Everyone was standing around talking, and just like every other occasion in my life, I barely seemed to exist. The city looked so far away, high-rises towering in the distance.

“I’m bleeding. Bad.” Darkness danced around the edges of my vision. I was going to die again. And I couldn’t do it where anyone could see.

“Where are you?”

“Old Town. What’s left of it.”

“You shouldn’t be there. Do you know how unsafe that is?”

“Ah, yeah, bleeding to death.” I wondered if my sarcasm was lost on him.

“Shit. Are you alone?”

“No. Norms everywhere.”

“Can you shift?”

Could I? I’d tried it at will many times with no luck. Thinking about it just gave me a headache. Nothing happened, even when I paused to focus for a minute. Nope. Nothing. I kept walking, letting the group get farther and farther away. I rounded a few buildings, trying to stay aware of my surroundings. Maybe there were more like that kid.

“There was this kid. He wasn’t human anymore….”

“I know, baby. Old Town has a lot of those. I’m on my way to you.”

“They came to hunt him. Told me it was a game.” A fucking game. Of course it wasn’t. My life didn’t give me outs like that. I saw dead people. That made me exempt from normal. I thought of Joel, his smiles, jokes, and generosity. If I hadn’t saved him, would he have become that thing back there? Something feral?

“Combat gear, high-tech equipment?” Cris asked.

“Yeah.” The cool goggles that I had wanted had been lost somewhere in the rubble.

“PG. Fuck. That’s how they operate. Get kids in acting like it’s a game. How far away from them are you?”

Not far enough, as far as I was concerned. I wandered into a building, watching for signs that anyone had followed or that anything occupied the space but me. Nothing moved outside or in. My vision was starting to go, and I could feel the beat of my heart slowing.

“Not long now. Sorry. Probably won’t be here when you get here.” My speech was slurred. Too much blood.

“Put your wallet, keys, and phone somewhere outside of the blast zone if you can still move. I’ll pick them up when I get there.”

“What if PG finds me first?”

“They won’t. You’re gonna fly, remember?”

“Yeah, maybe.” Everything was pretty fuzzy. I put my stuff between a few rocks and covered them with another. “Putting the phone down. Sorry,” I slurred.

“See you soon, baby. Don’t be afraid.”

Easy for him to say. He wasn’t about to die.

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Evolution Genesis is available in ebook and paperback from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other retail outlets.

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Lissa KaseyAuthor Bio: Lissa Kasey lives in St. Paul, MN, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing, and collects Asian Ball Joint Dolls who look like her characters. She has three cats who enjoy waking her up an hour before her alarm every morning and sitting on her lap to help her write. She can often be found at Anime Conventions masquerading as random characters when she’s not writing about about vampires, witches, and shapeshifters. Oh My!

You can follow Lissa via her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and/or her Facebook Author Page.

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To enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Evolution: Genesis, please comment below then click the Rafflecopter widget below. (Don’t forget to leave your email address!) A winner will be chosen and notified on November 4th.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Please join us next time on Genre Talk, when T.A. Venedicktov will be by to talk about the upcoming SciFi release Chrysalis Corporation.

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A.V. Sanders, Cover Reveal, Giveaways

Cover Reveal, Artist Interview, and Giveaway: Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas by A.V. Sanders

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Hi, Lisa, Happy Halloween! Thank you for hosting my exclusive “Trick or Treat” cover reveal on TNA, I am so very happy to be here! I hope your readers will find nothing but treats here with the reveal of my shiny new cover, an interview with the very talented cover artist, Natasha Snow, and a giveaway for a FREE ARC e-copy of WET, HOT, AUSTRALIAN CHRISTMAS!

xo, A.V.

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Title: Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas
Author: A.V. Sanders
Page/Word Count: 11,000 words
Release Date: December 16, 2015
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Contemporary Gay M/M Romance

Blurb: Reid, an American shark research scientist, is in Perth, Australia working to develop a mobile app that may revolutionize shark safety practices. But even the company of his boyfriend, Graham, isn’t enough to stave off homesickness as Christmas approaches, and a missing shark and Graham’s struggling business seem set to ruin the holiday for good.

PREORDER Buy Link and Goodreads Add Link:

// Less Than Three Press // Goodreads //

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Judging Books by Their Covers… an interview with Natasha Snow, by A.V. Sanders

AV: Sitting down with Ms. Snow just a few days before Halloween is definitely a ‘TREAT’! Thank you so much for joining me on The Novel Approach. So, speaking about your beautiful covers, how did you first come to start working with Less Than Three Press (LT3)?

NS: Well, it’s been over a year now since I’ve been with LT3 Press, and honestly, I’ve loved every second. I couldn’t ask for a better publisher to work with. They are professional, but personable, and I hope I get to work with them for years and years. :)

So, awhile back I was looking to work with a publisher, and I really liked LT3 covers. I decided to email Megan Derr [LT3 CEO] and asked her to look at my portfolio. It’s been all up hill since!

AV: Some of the aspects of your covers I love most is the way you use depth, color, and light. Can you tell me a little bit about your process when using these design elements in your work?

NS: Oh, boy. I could nerd out on focal points and composition and all that other crap I learned in school, but I’ll basically say, most of what I’ve learned about what looks good comes from practice. A lot. When I first began designing covers, I didn’t know nearly as much as I know today. It took a lot of playing around with elements, shapes, colors, lighting, and depth to really figure out what looked good to me.

My best advice for anyone looking for a cover design or designing their own cover, is to pick one focal point. A scream is most startling when it’s heard in silence, not when there’s a room of people shouting at the top of their lungs. Viewers are smart. Readers are smart. They’ll appreciate “afterthought” elements on the cover.

AV: I’ve always admired how LT3 covers tend to be more representational of the love stories inside them, not follow a typical “romance book cover” formula. How do you go about selecting the ideas and images that are going to be representing these stories?

NS: Yes! I agree! When I initially approached LT3 about working with them, one thing I admired most was how they usually don’t use models on their covers.

When I receive a cover request from Meg, she gives me the blurb, what the author asked for (if anything) and then she’s very helpful about giving me her input on what she thinks might look good on the cover. I tend to follow that direction. I find this process works really well for me, because the author and editor will know the story better than me.

But to answer your question a bit more! I like the idea of taking elements from the story, not just characters. Nine times out of ten, if the reader knows the author is writing an M/M romance, they’ll know two guys are involved. I don’t feel like the cover always needs to represent that.

AV: I know that you’re a fan and supporter of the LGBTQ literary community, even a dedicated book reviewer! What are some of the things you particularly like about reading and working with queer lit?

NS: Ah, you must’ve seen my Goodreads profile! :) I’m not sure my fellow unicorns would label me ‘dedicated’ as a reviewer though. Lol. :) I’m really terrible and have almost no time to read and review anymore. :(

One thing I love about working on queer book covers is that I get to work with some authors I’m a huge fan of, or others I haven’t heard of until I design their cover, read their blurb, and realize I’d love to read their story!

I also think it helps to be passionate about what you’re designing. I’ve designed book covers in almost every genre and honestly, I love the variety. But my bread and butter is queer romance. It’s a comfortable place for me because I know the genre from the opposite end of the scale. I want the cover I design not only to reflect the story, but to sell books. On the other side, because I’m also a consumer, I know what I look for when purchasing books. I find it helps!

AV: You have a wonderful talent and eye for digital design. What are some of your favorite places or things to look at and appreciate in the real world?

NS: Thank you! :)

I’m not a nature buff, and honestly, I don’t even like being outside. I live in Canada. It’s cold all of the time, and usually, spring is just watching dead things look slightly less dead.

I find inspiration in books, usually. Or music. I like looking online at other book covers and wondering how I could do something like what that designer has done. I also play a lot of video games, so that probably helps the creative juices flow.

AV: You have a day-job as a graphic designer—would you like to be a full-time cover designer in the future, or does it stay fun as work on the side?

NS: I do! And I would! It’s my dream to one day be a full-time book cover designer. I think I’m on my way. It’s odd to think that it was a little under a year and a half ago I designed my first book cover. I’m so happy and thankful to have found my niche!

I currently work with a few publishers, and couldn’t be happier with the direction I’m moving. Working with wonderful publishers and with all the amazing self-published authors is like a dream come true.

AV: What a great interview! Thanks again, Natasha. I hope we get to see more and more of your work in our literary community. <3

Now, while I haven’t met a Natasha Snow cover I haven’t liked, here are some of my favorites she’s designed for Less Than Three Press. Give them a click to read the full blurbs—these books represent talented LGBTQ authors in a variety of exciting genres!

lovelydarkanddeep400“LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP” edited by Michael Jay Anthology of wolves, fairies, ghosts, monsters, lost campers, witches… Fiction is rife with tales of what happens to travelers who ignore warnings and venture deep into dark and mysterious woods… and occasionally about what comes out of them. Identity: Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans

 

Buy the Book HERE 

awinterinrome400“A WINTER IN ROME” by Francis Gideon Craig never feels like he’s as successful and settled as those around him—especially his lovers, Alan, an art professor he met while in college, and Sybil, who tutored him throughout his Italian class. When Alan goes to Rome the only grounding point becomes the corkboard of memories Craig creates for the three of them. By the time Alan returns, and has started to fall for Sybil, Craig is worried that there may be no place left for him. Identity: Poly, Bi, Gay, Genderqueer

Buy the Book HERE

theemptyrooftop400“THE EMPTY ROOFTOP” by Lily MacPherson Anya Jameson, FBI agent turned consultant, is working a series of brutal murders in Cayce, North Carolina. The only thing linking the victims is that they all came from some of society’s most vulnerable groups of people, and all were in search of new beginnings. On a crowded New York street Anya stumbles into up and coming race car driver, Tommi, who unexpectedly coaxes Anya out of years of solitude. But love and murder are not a good combination, and the investigation—or the killer—may tear the new lovers apart. Identity: Lesbian, Bi

Buy the Book HERE

notchinyourbelt400“NOTCH IN YOUR BELT” by Kayla Bain-Vrba Wyatt’s first album launched him into country music stardom, but now he has to record his second album, and all efforts are coming up blank. His manager sends him inspiration: Bryce, who played keys on Wyatt’s tour, and is the man Wyatt’s secretly in love with. Bryce has been in love with Wyatt too, but everyone knows he’s a notorious player. Then Wyatt unexpectedly admits his feelings, and Bryce thinks maybe he’s been wrong this whole time. But when he wakes up the next morning, Wyatt is gone… Identity: Gay

Buy the Book HERE

theforbiddenzone400“THE FORBIDDEN ZONE” by Victoria Zagar When Julian accepts an invitation to study the dying planet of Valeria, all he sees is another assignment. Valeria’s ban on romantic and sexual unions seemed trivial, even the supervision by the Sisters, an advanced A.I., was a negligible point. When the situation proves to be more difficult than anticipated, Julian finds a lifeline in Saidan, a warm, emotional individual in a world of passive expression and uniformity. Working together, they discover the Sisters had a much more sinister reason for inviting Julian there… Identity: Gay

Buy the Book HERE

thepeachandthepoppy400“THE PEACH AND THE POPPY” by Caesar J.M. Kauftheil After a breakup Poppy goes on a trip to Paris. She encounters a beautiful stranger, but it proves to be the only good part of her day. She tries to appreciate Paris, but Poppy can’t help but feel something is lacking. When her best friend suggests she needs a fling to clear away her ex for good, Poppy approaches the beautiful stranger to be her tour guide. The trip draws to an end, and Poppy realizes that in seeking a cure for heartache, she may  have just made the problem worse… Identity: Lesbian

Buy the Book HERE

witchesandwolves400“WITCHES AND WOLVES” by Kelly D. Smith A quiet life in the woods suits Tory. She can focus on her witchcraft without the noise of the city, and her only visitor is her ex-boyfriend. One night, Tory opens the door to a wolf who curls up into her bed. Tory lets the wolf sleep, and has no complaints when the morning reveals her to be a beautiful woman. New to being a wolf, and still learning control, Gee eagerly accepts when Tory offers to help. But not everyone approves of werewolves, and Gee isn’t the only new visitor to the woods… Identity: Lesbian, Bi

Buy the Book HERE

You can connect with Natasha Snow around the web and on her website at natashasnow.com

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AVSandersAvi3About the Author: A.V. Sanders loves and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, two cats, and tropical aquarium fish. She is an avid hoarder of Halloween decorations and inconsequential information. When writing science fiction, mystery, and horror with LGBTQ main characters, she can be found staying up all hours of the night listening to endless sets of EDM music. She is an advocate of love, art, animals and frivolous acts of beauty. She also has a growing suspicion that not causing harm to one another is what matters in the end.

Connect with A.V. Sanders:

// Website // Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr // Goodreads Author //

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THE GIVEAWAY

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Lou Harper, Reviewed by Taz, Samhain Publishing

Release Day Review: Secrets and High Spirits by Lou Harper

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Title: Secrets and High Spirits (Secrets: Book Four)

Author: Lou Harper

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count:  137 Pages

At a Glance: I found this an enjoyable book, and I plan to go back to the first three books to read the stories of the other characters I met in Secrets and High Spirits.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Their love is an explosive cocktail—stirred, shaken, and served with a twist.

Teag and Bruce dream of opening their own bars, but that’s where the similarities end.

Teag, a popular bartender at West Hollywood’s hottest club, is willful, opinionated, and likes to take charge. He envisions his future bar as a boozy oasis for craft cocktails. Unfortunately, while he’s big on ideas, he’s short on funds.

Bruce, on the other hand, is a tower of pirate-tattooed muscle with a laid-back attitude. While he’s good with people, he’s a walking paradox—a wannabe boss with a weakness for bossy men.

Their partnership is a natural fit, but every time they meet, sparks fly as they rub each other the wrong way. Or is it the right way? In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to tell.

Between renovation pitfalls, meddling friends, and miles of police tape, Teag and Bruce struggle to keep their venture—and their budding relationship—from going up in flames. And not the good kind. More like the one on the top of a B52 shot.

Warning: Contains a whipcord-lean and whip-smart bartender who knows what he wants—and how hard he wants it—and a go-with-the-flow bar manager who secretly likes to be told how hard to give it.

Dividers

Review: Secrets and High Spirits was a wonderful read. I was a little nervous about picking up a series at Book Four, but this was a complete standalone and easily enjoyable without having read Books One, Two, and Three. In doing a little research on Amazon, I recognized the names of characters from this book, so my guess is that each book is its own story, and the various characters take center stage in different books. I’ll have to verify with the author to make sure this is right, but it appears to be the case.

Let’s start with the title. It was perfect. The main characters are opening a bar together, and both are adept at mixing drinks…but there’s also a subplot of the history of the building they bought, which had once been a bar called the Blue Parrot. The establishment seems to be haunted by one of the original patrons, although this particular ghost is more of the friendly variety and kind of a presence but not a character.

The two protagonists were an interesting match. There was a definite Dom/sub feel to this book in the sense that one character loved to be in control and the other loved to be controlled, although there was no BDSM (in case you associate Dom/sub and BDSM). The Dom is smaller and guarded, whereas the sub is a burly tattooed muscle man whose looks belie a gentle and accommodating nature.

Along the journey of coming together to become partners—first in business, later in bed—we meet a rich cast of characters who bring humor and depth to the storyline. Each character pushed the story further and helped the reader to better understand the main characters. There is a suspenseful mystery element woven in which helps to ramp up the action and pace of the book. The sex, while infrequent, is very hot when it occurs.

Since the book was more of a novella length, or perhaps a short novel, the relationship between Teag and Bruce was not as fleshed out as if could have been. The two take a while to lower their guards and accept the other one in. This slow process helped to ramp up the tension and to build suspense and maybe a bit of anxiety as we read to find out how they will find one another. Once they are together, the stresses, fears, and misunderstandings that threaten to tear brand new relationships apart are not as fully developed. For instance, when Bruce sees that an old lover had called Teag, it could have been a great catalyst for the two characters to hit a conflict only to work through it and become stronger because of their struggle and communication.

In the end, I found this an enjoyable book, and I plan to go back to the first three books to read the stories of the other characters I met in Secrets and High Spirits.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Marguerite Labbe, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe

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Title: Other Side of the Line

Author: Marguerite Labbe

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 330 Pages

At a Glance: Other Side of the Line is a journey of love and endurance you will not want to miss. I highly recommend it to you.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Caleb Hudson and Hal Zimmer became best friends the day they stood up against the schoolyard bully together. Life’s complicated enough with their friendship crossing racial lines in 1960s Charleston, South Carolina, but as time passes, they realize it’s more than their friendship that sets them apart from other kids. At first, Caleb denies his feelings for Hal could be more than companionship. He supports his friend when Hal admits he’s gay, but Caleb isn’t ready to face his own truth.

Hal becomes a staunch antiwar protester, and the divide between them widens after Caleb is drafted. But when Caleb returns from Vietnam, the time for denial is over. His homecoming sets off a series of events that force Caleb and Hal to confront their desires and what lines they’re willing to cross to get what they truly want out of life.

Dividers

Review: It’s a tricky thing, beginning a novel with the ending. Establishing that your couple has achieved their happy-ever-after before the end of the first chapter means that their journey to that place must be both compelling to read and entertaining. One of those belies conflict that may have made for a rocky relationship; the other must guarantee that the main characters will have traits that lure the reader into wanting to know all about them and how they ended up together. It is a tricky business indeed, and I would venture to say that if you want to see how a masterful storyteller achieves all of the above, and more, then you must step into the gorgeous novel Other Side of the Line, created by author Marguerite Labbe.

In a distant era that still resonates loudly today, two boys, one white and one black, meet in a school that has been forced to desegregate in Charleston, South Carolina. The early 1960s was a violent and unstable time when standing up for a man of color could bring about the death of both the victim and his defender. But to Hal Zimmer, who has just relocated from New York, all he knows is that Caleb Hudson is an outsider just like him and those who are marginalized and tossed aside by others must always stick together. And so they do…through elementary, middle and high school, these two boys become the best of friends. But something happens to shake their friendship to the core. First is a relocation of Hal to New York and the looming enrollment in a military academy his father insists on sending his “pansy” son to once they return to their roots. The second is far more unsettling, for it is the growing realization from both boys that their feelings for each other are deeper than either of them fully understands.

As the story unfolds, we are given the chance to walk down memory lane with Hal and Caleb—now in their 70s and happily married to each other. At a late summer party, they receive an anniversary gift from their children that sparks one story after another, and outlines how these two very different men came to be partners for life. Their musings will take us from their early school days to the moment when they finally acknowledged that they were in love with each other—in between, their lives would be touched by war, separation, and, for one of them, a longing to stay buried in the closet where he would be safe but always apart from the man he loved.

For those of you who doubt there could be much to discover in a story whose ending is already a sure thing, think again. Marguerite Labbe thrusts the reader into events in history that reshaped generations of people and her two boys grown into men would be both flint and stone in this story. Sparks of anger and cries for justice would flow from Hal as surely as he breathed. Seeming to float from one cause to another, Hal was there in the front lines of both anti-war rallies and gay pride parades. With seemingly inexhaustible strength, he would rise above bigoted parents, bolstered by the love and fierce loyalty of a younger sister and the steady guidance of the best friend he would ever have, Caleb.

Nearly a polar opposite to the fiery Hal, Caleb was thoughtful and slow to anger. With a deep love for his family and a desire to remain close to his roots, which included settling down in the city of Charleston, Caleb strove to stay under the radar, never wanting to stand out unless it was to defend Hal against a bully on the playground. These two seemingly incompatible boys would find solace, understanding and an indefinable peace in each other’s presence.

I could go on and on describing these amazing characters. I could speak of the lush and vivid prose that creates the setting for each life event discussed in the book. I could remark on how I have never experienced such a rush of emotions that included true worry that these two men would never admit their love for each other in time—even knowing they’ve already achieved their happy-ever-after. I could say again and again, read this story—it is a beautiful slice of history wrapped in a love that transcends all obstacles life chooses to throw in its path. But I will leave it at this…Other Side of the Line is a journey of love and endurance you will not want to miss. I highly recommend it to you.

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5 Stars, Anna Butler, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Wilde City Press

Review: Heart Scarab by Anna Butler

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Title: Heart Scarab (Taking Shield: Book Two)

Author: Anna Butler

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 300 Pages

At a Glance: Fast-paced, thrilling sequel to the first book in the series.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: In Heart Scarab, set more than a year and a half after Gyrfalcon, Shield Captain Bennet’s company is on a planet in imminent danger of being overrun by the Maess. Telnos is an unpleasant little planet, inhabited by religious fanatics in the festering marshlands and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines up in the hills. But the Maess want Telnos, and Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can. The enemy arrives before the evacuation is complete. Caught in a vicious fire fight, Bennet is left behind, presumed dead.

His family is grieving. Joss, his long-term partner, grieves with them; lost, unhappy, remorseful. First Lieutenant Flynn has no official ‘rights’ here. He isn’t family. He isn’t partner or lover.

All he is, is broken.

Dividers

Review: God, what a ride this book was. As a fan of the first book, I was thrilled to read this one. It gripped me from the beginning and took me for a ride until the very end. And I cannot wait for the third book.

After a failed attempt to evacuate the religious fanatics from Telnos before the Maess invade, Bennet is presumed dead; his signal is gone and Rosie has watched him fall after a strafing run. Left to pick up the pieces and move on are the people who loved him the most: his family, his lover Joss, his lieutenant Rosie, and Flynn.

Anna Butler is spectacular at characterization. While I had hated Joss in the first book, for the first half of this one I felt for him. She not only shows things from his perspective, but also switches to second person POV sometimes to show the depth of his thoughts and connect readers to Joss. The second half of the book I wanted to punch him. The same goes for Rosie. I felt for her and her unrequited love for Bennet, but I also hated how she couldn’t accept that he was in love with men. And Flynn. Oh, my poor Flynn. How can you not love him? The cocky flyboy who finds himself in love for the first time in his life only to discover his lover dead…and he’s unable to do anything about it.

While the first book deals a lot with the action part of science fiction, and the first half of this one does as well, the second half is more about the recovery process of loss, grief, and acceptance. How does one cope in a situation like this, where loved ones are gone for so long and placed in dangerous situations? I suppose it’s much like today’s military.

I highly recommend this book, though not without a few words of warning. First, you should definitely read the first book. The relationship between Bennet and Flynn is established in that book, and while T18 isn’t discussed much, it’s still integral to how their relationship began. And why would you want to miss out on Flynn finally falling in love? Second, though I do talk about romance, this book is not a romance. Yes, there are some romantic subplots, but as a whole, the book is science fiction and the relationships, while important, are not the main part of the book.

So, if you haven’t, go back and read the first book, and then come back for round two.

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Nico Jaye, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Unscripted by Nico Jaye

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Title: Unscripted (Heartsville)

Author: Nico Jaye

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 80 Pages

At a Glance: Fun, sweet, adorable, charming—Unscripted is all that and a little more.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Theater manager Teddy Carbone’s life has gone pretty much according to script… until now.

To his surprise, Teddy finds himself co-owner of the Oasis Theater with Carter Monroe, a corporate shark who’s looking at him like he’s chum in the water. Being in charge of the theater is one thing, but having to deal with Carter and his demands is another. With Carter’s proposed plan to sell the Oasis looming, Teddy must convince Carter the theater is worth saving. When he introduces the bright, bold world of the stage to Carter’s cold, all-business lifestyle, though, Teddy soon comes to recognize that the Oasis might not be the only thing he has a chance to save.

Dividers

Review: I’ve said this publicly on any number of occasions, but it bears repeating here. I love short stories and novellas because sometimes I just want to get in, get happy, and get out. Get me to the HEA without all the angst and big misunderstandings, give me a fun and sweet short, maybe a little bit of the sexy too, and I’m your audience pretty much every single time.

Nico Jaye’s Unscripted was the perfect little read for a weekend afternoon. When we meet Teddy Carbone, he’s just received news that he’s now the partial owner of the theater that’s grown into such an important part of its community, this neighborhood called Heartsville. He’s also been informed he has a new partner, Carter Monroe, a successful businessman and the nephew of the former owner of the Oasis—a man who’s forgotten what the theater had once meant to him.

This story starts off with the sexy, moves on to the sweet, then ends with the fun (and more of the sexy, which, as an excellent bonus, was also fun!), perfectly paced as Teddy charms his way through his efforts to convince Carter not to sell the theater, lusting after him more than a little, and then Teddy proceeds to impress Carter not only with his love for the place and its people but with his knowledge of the running of the theater itself.

Teddy is adorable, Carter has a sexy sort of commanding charisma, and while we don’t get pages and pages of these two men falling in love, what Nico Jaye does give us is a convincing glimpse of their passionate and playful sides, and I totally bought into them as a couple. I also loved Teddy’s family—they give the story some feel-good moments that add to all the other warm feelings Unscripted delivers.

If you’re not a big fan of shorter stories but decide to give Unscripted a chance, the only thing I think you’ll find it doesn’t do is last long enough.

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You can buy Unscripted here:

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