3.5 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mickie B. Ashling, Narration Rating - 3.5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Cutting Cords by Mickie B. Ashling – Narrated by John Solo

Title: Cutting Cords

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Narrator: John Solo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 hours 44 minutes

At a Glance:  I enjoyed this for its narration more than for its core story.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: When Sloan Driscoll and Cole Fujiwara become reluctant roommates, neither man is willing to share too much. Sloan is instantly attracted to Cole but knows it’s a hopeless cause; Cole has a steady girlfriend. But one night they share a joint, and Cole opens a window neither anticipated.

A relationship may be impossible—both men are living with heart-breaking secrets. While Sloan is smart, sassy, and a brilliant graphic artist, he’s also a pothead with severe body image problems. Cole, a former major league pitcher, has his own personal crisis: he’s going blind. Sloan and Cole are suffering on so many levels, they might not realize that the ultimate salvation could be within each other’s arms.

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Review:  There was truly a love/hate relationship for me with this story and its main characters. Sloan Driscoll was a loveable and damaged man you couldn’t help but want to wrap up and take care of, but I didn’t necessary like Cole Fujiwara that much… I sympathized with his plight but didn’t quite understand his insistence to not share his blindness. Mickie B. Ashling did a great job of making me understand, and in general I really enjoyed her writing, but what I didn’t enjoy was simple: the love story never progressed. Sloan and Cole had sex, and then they argued. Then Cole was almost abusive. Then this pattern cycled over and over, and you never actually witness the two characters falling in love.

I didn’t hate this book, really, I just wish there was more relationship development. The other thing that threw me off was that BDSM was introduced almost as an afterthought, and there was no lead up or anything. Sloan hooks up with a photographer, and suddenly, he is in this world and I felt it had no relationship to the story.

Narration: John Solo is a new narrator to me. He had kind of a weird rasp to his voice that I could take or leave. He did a wonderful job with the narration, though. His voice is just not my cuppa. He did make an average read better, though, and I would listen to his narration again.

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You can buy Cutting Cords here:

Audible.com

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3.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mickie B. Ashling, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Forged in Trust by Mickie B. Ashling

Title: Forged in Trust

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 215 Pages

At a Glance: For me, this may be the weakest story to date, but even that does not detract from the fact that the Bay City Professional series is definitely a great one to invest some time in.

Blurb: Dr. Ethan Marshall is the young medical student on call the night Tessa Duran murders her husband for abusing her twelve-year-old-son, Rino. Ethan stays in the cubicle while the rape kit is performed and is surprised when the boy resorts to prayers instead of tears.

Despite compelling evidence, Tessa is sent to jail for life. To avoid placing Rino in foster care, their parish priest agrees to raise him. Ethan is touched by Rino’s plight and visits whenever possible, but the connection is broken when the priest and young boy leave the area months later.

Raised by the Dominicans in California, Rino considers joining the order until a romance blossoms with a fellow student. After much soul-searching, he turns his back on everything familiar, and chooses his orientation over his perceived vocation. Upon graduating dental hygiene school, Rino takes a job at the office of Scott Gregory and Robin Kennedy.

Seventeen years have passed since that horrible night in the emergency room. Forty-three-year-old Ethan is now a Dominant in search of a full-time submissive. Twenty-nine-year-old Rino is adrift, longing for someone or something to help him find the serenity he’s lost along the way. As they rekindle their friendship, they realize they might be perfect for each other.

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Review: Forged In Trust is the fourth installment of Mickie B. Ashling’s Bay City Professionals series. While this novel does have some returning characters, it definitely could be read as a standalone, given that the two main guys are new to the storyline. I have read the others in this series and really enjoyed them. This one, however, left me shaking my head just a bit. Also, just a note for those who may need to be careful, while the scenes are minor in terms of time on the page, and handled very well by the author, the two instances of rape, one of which was a case of child molestation, may be potential triggers for some. I feel these were handled with great enough care as to not dwell on the subject matter, but still make the reader aware of the horrors that occurred in Rino’s past, and set up his introduction to Ethan.

The story begins with a woman and her young son seeking to leave their country when the U.S. forces begin their troop withdrawal. Having been much the company “whore” for various servicemen, she finally manages to find a man who will declare her as his fiancée and take care of her and her boy, Rino, when they get stateside. However, the man has a dark side to him and before long, both she and Rino are barely surviving his angry outbursts. To make matters worse, he is not satisfied just using Rino’s mother for sex; he wants the boy as well. After Rino experiences a particularly violent rape, which was dealt with off page, Rino’s mother fulfills the promise she made to herself and kills her husband. She then rushes her twelve-year-old son to the ER, where a young resident helps take Rino through the awful rape case examination. A special bond is created between the young doctor, Ethan, and Rino that night. Months later, when Rino is now in the foster care of a Dominican priest, due to his mother being incarcerated, Ethan attempts to keep in contact with the boy until the priest is relocated from Texas to California and they lose contact with each other.

Fast forward many years, and Rino is now a dental hygienist just finding work with some old familiar faces from this series. By luck, Rino decides to check out a club, not knowing it is a private BDSM establishment, and stumbles upon the very place where Ethan has invested his time and money, socially. Now the two men are thrown together again but much has changed for each of them. Ethan is a Dominant who has had little luck finding a sub to fulfill his rather stringent standards, leaving him unsatisfied and lonely. Rino is a tangled mess of conflicting beliefs and emotions, stemming from his rigid catholic upbringing and his realization that being gay means he will never be welcomed in his beloved church. The two meet and all the past trust and tenderness they had for each other bubbles rapidly to the surface. But can a fast and furious lust actually translate into a love that can last for the long haul?

Fast and furious is a good way to describe the passionate relationship that erupts between Rino and Ethan. In fact, for two men who’d been described as mostly unable to trust others and do more than one night encounters that were solely sex-driven, the speed with which these two fell for each other was stunning. Unfortunately, I felt the author gave up precious story time dwelling on both the “how to” be a submissive and the rather complex exposition about the career field that Ethan ended up pursuing. First, there were several pages dedicated to explaining just what a BDSM relationship could look like—giving us rudimentary explanations as to what was and was not standard fare.

Alongside that, we had extensive details on Ethan’s chosen field of urology as it specifically focused on sexual re-orientation surgery. As a third side story, we also had quite a lengthy subplot concerning faith, specifically as regards catholic beliefs. While all these elements were good for the story, overall, I felt they tended to go on and on, pushing me out of the story and making it difficult to really grasp and believe this near instant attraction and sexual intensity that Rino and Ethan experienced. There was too much discussion and not enough action. Further, Rino had an actual negative physical reaction as well as genuine emotional turmoil over the whipping scene he witnessed at the BDSM club. Given that, and the fact that it was Ethan administering the whipping, it was quite a stretch to swallow that he would fall into a D/s situation with Ethan so very easily. Here was a man who was raped—twice—and yet it took just two or three days of being together for him to allow for anal sex with Ethan? I just didn’t buy it.

I have really enjoyed other installments in this series, but Forged In Trust had too much explanation and set up, and not enough interaction and relationship building to make it palatable. For me, this may be the weakest story to date, but even that does not detract from the fact that the Bay City Professional series is definitely a great one to invest some time in.

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You can buy Forged in Trust here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mickie B. Ashling, Reviewed by Janet

Review: Enforcing Emory by Mickie B. Ashling

Title: Enforcing Emory

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Enforcing Emory is a sweet coming of age love story that is rich in detail and full of hope.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Olympic figure skater Emory Lowe falls in lust the moment he lays eyes on his new neighbor, hockey player Nikolai Vetrov. On the surface, Nik is a typical badass enforcer, intimidating and dangerous, on and off the ice. The only son of Ukrainian immigrants, Nik has been groomed from childhood to fulfill his father’s dreams of seeing him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Igor guides his son toward that goal with a controlling—and abusive—hand, steering him clear of anyone who might ruin his chances.

Although Emory is the US National Figure Skating champion, he’s in-your-face gay, and his audacious persona rubs Nik and his family the wrong way. Raised by supportive and loving parents, Emory is Nik’s polar opposite in every way but one—his desire to succeed. Underneath the fluff and glitter beats the heart of a fierce competitor, and this side of Emory’s personality begins to close the distance between the two athletes.

While the attraction is one-sided in the beginning, Nik finds himself responding to Emory’s flirting. But before the incongruous pair have a chance at any sort of relationship, they must survive the pressures of career, separation, and most importantly, Igor’s ruthless homophobia.

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Review: One of the best things about this author is her abundant knowledge and her authenticity in developing her characters. I loved this story and it is in no small part due to the feeling of completeness I had throughout each step of the storyline.

Emory is a shining star in the world of men’s figure skating, a glittering star! He has qualified for the Olympic Games in Sochi, and has some intensive work to do to be ready. He has a new neighbour move in across the street who is a rough and tumble hockey player. They are at odds immediately, and their little conflicts continued throughout the story, much to my enjoyment. Nik is Ukrainian, by way of Canada, and starting on the Chicago Wolves as a junior on his first pro hockey team. Hopefully it is a stepping stone for him on his way to the majors.

Mickie B. Ashling has set the stage for a very emotional story that sucked me in and blew me away at the same time. There are so many layers of ideas and conflicts at play that the story should be jumbled – or awkward. But it isn’t. It is a sweet ride on a rollercoaster that grabbed my heart and tickled my brain. There is much humour in these pages, as well as some gentle pokes at our perceptions. There is also some intense action on the ice and some very scary moments of acute homophobia that made my skin crawl.

Mostly what there is is a sweet coming of age love story that is rich in detail and full of hope. You cannot help but feel for these young men, and hope for them, and worry for them, for they are real. Their characters are so well built that from the first page they are believable, and you are invested in their hopes and dreams immediately. One of the very best things about this author’s skill is that the supporting characters are fully fleshed out people who add so much depth to the overall story. Her world building is also strong; the characters live and play in real places that I can recognise. All of these factors help to make this novel resonate with the reader, and gives you a very satisfying reading experience.

I really can’t recommend this author highly enough. Every one of her stories is a delight to read, and Enforcing Emory is no exemption. The pace is quick and the story flows so well and so vividly that you are drawn into the world right along with the characters. There is no better feeling than finishing a book and knowing that you have been a part of a great story, carrying the world that you read about in your head and heart for days afterward. This is what a good author does, through skill and talent combined, and Mickie B. Ashling is a very good author indeed.

TNA_Signature_Janet

 

 

 

You can buy Enforcing Emory here:

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Giveaways, Mickie B. Ashling

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Forged in Trust Blog Tour with Mickie B. Ashling

Forged in Trust Tour Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author Mickie B. Ashling back to TNA today, on the tour for her new novel Forged in Trust. Enjoy the excerpt she’s selected to share, and then be sure to check out the details on the Giveaway below.

Good luck!

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Many thanks to The Novel Approach for inviting me to share an exclusive excerpt of my latest novel Forged in Trust, which releases September 4th from Dreamspinner. This is the fourth novel in the Bay Area Professionals universe. Characters from the first three books will weave in and out of this story; however, you can read this as a stand-alone if you wish.

I also bring some goodies you can win by throwing your name into Rafflecopter.

Enjoy!

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Forged in Trust-finalAbout Forged in Trust: Dr. Ethan Marshall is the young medical student on call the night Tessa Duran murders her husband for abusing her twelve-year-old-son, Rino. Ethan stays in the cubicle while the rape kit is performed and is surprised when the boy resorts to prayers instead of tears.

Despite compelling evidence, Tessa is sent to jail for life. To avoid placing Rino in foster care, their parish priest agrees to raise him. Ethan is touched by Rino’s plight and visits whenever possible, but the connection is broken when the priest and young boy leave the area months later.

Raised by the Dominicans in California, Rino considers joining the order until a romance blossoms with a fellow student. After much soul-searching, he turns his back on everything familiar, and chooses his orientation over his perceived vocation. Upon graduating dental hygiene school, Rino takes a job at the office of Scott Gregory and Robin Kennedy.

Seventeen years have passed since that horrible night in the emergency room. Forty-three-year-old Ethan is now a Dominant in search of a full-time submissive. Twenty-nine-year-old Rino is adrift, longing for someone or something to help him find the serenity he’s lost along the way. As they rekindle their friendship, they realize they might be perfect for each other.

Purchase Links: Dreamspinner Press | All Romance eBooks | Amazon

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Excerpt: “MR. DURAN?”

Rino took his eyes off the People magazine he’d been leafing through and was surprised to see a guy holding a clipboard, instead of the female office manager he’d been expecting. He found him attractive—oddly enough, considering he’d never looked twice at gingers—and noticed his scrubs were the exact shade of blue as the eyes peering down at him with interest.

“That’s me.”

“You’re here for the interview?”

“Yes, sir.”

“For hygienist?”

Rino nodded. “Is there a problem?”

“Not at all,” the redhead said quickly. “I’m Robin Kennedy, please follow me.”

Tossing the magazine aside, Rino reached for the folder containing his resume and stood to follow Robin down a long hallway. He zeroed in on the guy’s ass and immediately scolded himself for being swayed by such a tempting sight. Tearing his eyes away, he glanced through the open arches on either side and saw two dentists and their assistants hard at work. The familiar sound of drilling reassured him that perhaps this practice wasn’t on the brink of bankruptcy, and that his paycheck, if they hired him, wouldn’t bounce.

Thinking back on last week’s phone call from his bank informing him of the state of his account, which was overdrawn by six hundred dollars due to his paycheck having been returned marked “Insufficient Funds,” put him in a black mood all over again. That’s what happens when you work for friends, he thought bleakly. He’d been swept up by David’s excitement and hadn’t bothered to check his financials, assuming his friend had the wherewithal to sustain the small dental practice he’d started a year ago. Rino should have known something was up as the staff dwindled from five to four and most recently three. The “oopsie” explanation he received, instead of cold cash to bail out his account, had been the last straw. He’d walked out thinking that finding another job would be a slam dunk, but so far, he’d been unsuccessful. Who knew there was such a glut of hygienists?

Being a guy in a predominantly female field didn’t help. He always felt like the odd man out whenever he mentioned his profession. The standard question was usually who in the heck wanted to spend all day cleaning other people’s teeth. It was gross and almost as bad as being a garbage collector, some tactless soul had pointed out. Maybe, Rino admitted, but it was a hell of a lot better than being a washed-up seminarian. Hygiene had fallen into his lap when he’d met David at a party and listened to him expound on the benefits of a career in health care. Dental hygiene was a booming field and didn’t involve years of study or a huge monetary commitment. Other industries had floundered during the California recession, but people in health care had managed to keep their heads above water. Encouraged, Rino had explored the costs and decided to invest in a career that might improve his life.

Rino was so caught up in his thoughts he hadn’t noticed they’d stopped, and he crashed into Robin, eliciting a soft oomph.

“Shit, I’m sorry,” he sputtered, feeling like such a klutz.

“No worries.” Robin pushed open the oak door, and they stepped into a private office. It had two desks butting up against each other, an unusual arrangement Rino had never seen before. Each desk had a computer monitor and several patient charts piled in a neat stack. Against one wall, there were file cabinets, a combination copy and fax machine, and what looked like a brand-new Keurig coffeemaker with a stainless-steel display tree holding an assortment of coffee pods. The sugar and creamer packets were overflowing in a ceramic white bowl, and there was a tiny fridge squeezed into a slot underneath.

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” Robin asked.

“No, thanks.”

“Have a seat.” Robin pointed at one of the two leather visitor’s chairs across from the desks. He pulled a rolling chair out from underneath one desk, sat down, and looked at the resume Rino had e-mailed in response to the want ad.

“So, Rino,” Robin said. “Is this a typo or do you really spell your name with an I instead of an E?”

“It’s short for Quirino.”

“That’s an unusual name.”

Rino shrugged. “I’m part Filipino and named after one of our presidents. My mother started calling me Rino from an early age and it stuck.”

“Makes sense,” the redhead said with a nod. “I also spell my name, Robin, with an I.”

“Doesn’t everyone?”

“Some people use a Y. Did your entire family move here from the Philippines?”

Rino shook his head. “It’s just my mom and me.”

“I see. Was your father in the service?”

“No,” Rino said impatiently. “Is the doctor going to interview me or what?”

Robin took his eyes off the paper and responded in a withering tone. “Do you have something more important going on?”

Rino cringed, realizing his mistake. Shit, maybe he’s the doctor, and I just pissed him off, he thought in a panic. Robin waited with a quiet air of authority that made Rino want to slide off the chair, get down on his knees, and beg his forgiveness. The man was a study in contrasts with his milky white skin covered with an even dusting of pale freckles and his fiery curls. They were sort of clownish, but there was nothing funny about the piercing blue eyes, framed by auburn lashes, gazing at Rino confidently. Robin wasn’t handsome in the traditional sense, but he oozed sex and power, two qualities Rino found irresistible. He was also ripped, and the nipple ring clearly outlined against the soft cotton fabric of his pale blue scrubs was a sign that there was more to this guy than dentistry.

“Not at all,” he said, “I apologize for being rude. Anxiety about my future is making me forget my good manners. I really need the job.”

“Then let’s try and concentrate, shall we? Now, tell me something about Rino with an I.”

Purchase Links: Dreamspinner Press | All Romance eBooks | Amazon

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Mickie B. AshlingAbout the Author: Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.

By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

Connect with Mickie: Email | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog | Goodreads & Ask the Author

DividersTHE GIVEAWAY 

Enter to win a $20 DSP gift certificate or one of three ecopies of Forged in Trust. Contest open internationally. Must be 18 or older to enter.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Follow the Tour: 

Sept. 1 – The Novel Approach

Sept. 2 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews

Sept. 3 – Charlie Cochet

Sept. 4 – Love Bytes

Sept. 4 – Sinfully…Addicted to All Male Romance

Sept. 7 – Hearts On Fire

Sept. 8 – Prism Book Alliance

Sept. 9 – MM Good Book Reviews

Sept. 11 – WoW…from The Scarf Princess

Tour and materials organized by PAS Promotions

 

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mickie B. Ashling, Narration Rating - 2 Stars, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: Fire Horse by Mickie B. Ashling – Narrated by Max Lehnen

Title: Fire Horse (Polo: Book One)

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Narrator:: Max Lehnen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 55 Minutes

At a Glance: Bottom line: Read the e-book. It’s worth it. The audiobook, not so much.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: Preston Fawkes is 10 the first time he meets 15-year-old Konrad Schnell at the San Antonio Polo Club. Captivated by the mystique surrounding the sport of kings, Pres vows to learn the game at the hands of his newly acquired friend and mentor. The hero worship soon grows into something deeper, but the friends are separated when Preston goes off to boarding school in England.

The relationship that follows is riddled with challenges: their age gap, physical distance, and parental pressure taking precedence over feelings yet to be explored. Although their bond goes deep, they deal with the reality of their situation differently: Preston is open and fearless while Konrad is reticent and all too aware of the social implications of making a public stand.

Their paths intersect and twine, binding them as tightly as a cowboy’s lasso, but fate may alter their plans. How will love overcome the divots in the turf as they gallop toward the future – one where obstacles no longer stand in their way?

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Review: Immediately after receiving this audio to review, I started listening to it. I had not read the book but had read some of the reviews, so I was very excited to see what all the fuss was about. After listening to the first couple chapters, I found I was having a really hard time following the storyline. I know nothing about polo or the culture that surrounds it. To give this audiobook a fair review, though, I decided to purchase the e-book and read it before continuing with the audio, thinking I would then have a better understanding of polo and horses. It helped a lot. The e-book was really good, an epic romance with lots of chemistry between the main characters, and so many twists and turns that it was hard to keep up with at times, just as it was in the audio version of the book.

The story starts out in 2011, after the MC, Preston Fawkes, suffers a major accident while riding in a polo match. As Preston “slips into a morphine-induced high,” he starts remembering his life with Konrad, the love of his life.

Max Lehnen, the narrator, had a tough job to do just in keeping up with all the accents of the different characters, then adding to that challenge, the span of time in which this story takes place: ages ten to forty-six for Preston. Max tried, but towards the end of the audio he began to slip, and at that point all the characters started sounding alike. Some books I feel aren’t really made to be audiobooks. They are too complex in their details, or have way too many characters for a narrator to deal with.

I agree with most of the reviews of this book; all the praise for Fire Horse is well deserved. I just don’t think the narration did the story justice. Bottom line: Read the book. It’s worth it. The audio, not so much.

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You can buy Fire Horse here:

Audible.com

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Mickie B. Ashling

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Enforcing Emory Blog Tour With Mickie B. Ashling

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Many thanks to The Novel Approach for hosting my blog tour visit. I bring an exclusive excerpt and some goodies you can win by throwing your name into the Rafflecopter.

Enjoy!

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Excerpt: “What’s the guy’s name?” Irina asked. She was two years younger than Nik and had taken to Western society like a duck to water. Hooked on social media, she was never far from her iPad. “Let’s google the creep.”

Nikolai snorted. Irina considered Wikipedia and Google the sources of all information, and if she couldn’t find her answer with a few keystrokes, it didn’t exist. She whistled in astonishment after she typed in Emory Lowe and hundreds of links popped up. Images of the saucy young man in every costume imaginable filled her screen, and everyone looked over her shoulders to see what was so shocking. There were photos of Emory caught leaping in the air, frozen in time as the camera captured him performing one intricate move after another. When Irina looked him up on YouTube, they watched him perform his short program at Nationals, and the room hushed as the sound of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet filled the room. Nikolai couldn’t take his eyes off the tiny screen, mesmerized by the graceful movements.

The gangly youth was artistic on the ice, a fluid nymph who appeared oblivious to the huge crowd staring down at him. He owned the performance, one minute soft and tender, the next fiercely determined to win his prize, executing the complicated number with a series of jumps, including a quad, and ending the program with an I-spin that seemed to go on forever. The applause when he stopped and posed without wavering was loud and heartfelt, and that funny grin Emory seemed to have mastered appeared through the heavy makeup. Nikolai felt something twist deep down in the pit of his stomach. Christ, the figure skater wasn’t just bragging—he was dead serious. The guy was fantastic, and Nikolai felt like a lumbering oaf comparing his skills to Emory’s immense talent.

He looked up from the handheld device sheepishly. “I guess he wasn’t lying.”

“Bah!” Igor said loudly. “He’s a poofter!”

“Don’t discount the talent because of the outfit,” Nikolai said. For some reason he felt the need to defend Emory.

“Figure skating is nothing compared to hockey.”

“No,” Nikolai retorted, recalling Emory’s words. “It’s much harder.”

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Enforcing Emory Cover lgBlurb: Olympic figure skater Emory Lowe falls in lust the moment he lays eyes on his new neighbor, hockey player Nikolai (Nik) Vetrov.  On the surface, Nik is a typical badass enforcer, intimidating and dangerous, on and off the ice. The only son of Ukrainian immigrants, Nik has been groomed from childhood to fulfill his father’s dreams of seeing him in the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Igor guides his son toward that goal with a controlling—and abusive—hand, steering him clear of anyone who might ruin his chances.

Although Emory is the US National Figure Skating champion, he’s in-your-face gay, and his audacious persona rubs Nik and his family the wrong way.  Raised by supportive and loving parents, Emory is Nik’s polar opposite in every way but one—his desire to succeed. Underneath the fluff and glitter beats the heart of a fierce competitor, and this side of Emory’s personality begins to close the distance between the two athletes.

While the attraction was one-sided in the beginning, Nik finds himself responding to Emory’s flirting.  Before the incongruous pair have a chance at any sort of relationship, they must survive the pressures of career, separation, and most importantly, Igor’s ruthless homophobia.

Purchase Links: Dreamspinner Press | All Romance eBooks | Amazon

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Bio: Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.

By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

Connect with Mickie: Email | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog | Goodreads & Ask the Author

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Giveaway: Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter to win one of these prizes (contest open internationally): a $20 Dreamspinner gift certificate, one of five ecopies of Enforcing Emory, or an audio copy of Fire Horse. Must be 18 or older to enter.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Enforcing Emory Tour Banner

Tour Schedule

May 25 – The Novel Approach

May 25 – Garrett Leigh

May 26 – Charlie Cochet

May 27 – Emotion in Motion

May 28 – BA Tortuga

May 29 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews

May 31 – Diverse Reader

June 1 –  Prism Book Alliance

June 2  –  Book Reviews & More by Kathy

June 2 –  Cup o’ Porn

June 3 –  WoW…from The Scarf Princess

June 4 –  Love Bytes

June 5 –  Divine Magazine

June 8 –  MM Good Book Reviews

June 9 –  Sinfully…Addicted to All Male Romance

June 10 – Hearts On Fire

Tour and materials organized by PAS Promotions

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mickie B. Ashling, New Adult, Reviewed by Janet

Review: Chyna Doll by Mickie B. Ashling

Title: Chyna Doll (Horizons Series: Book Four)

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 320 Pages

At a Glance: The hope that endures through the pages is the absolute best reason to pick this story up and delve into the world Mickie B. Ashling has created.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Lil Lampert’s forty-fifth birthday turns the effervescent architect into a brooding mess, and his partner, Grier Dilorio, takes him to Italy to help him regain his zest for life. The timing is bad—almost-fifteen-year-old Luca has just started high school, and his mother and stepfather are also traveling. Luca is left in the care of Chicago Bear, Clark Stevens, and his partner, Dr. Jody Williams.

Growing up with two dads and two gay uncles has given Luca a unique perspective on gender roles, but not all the answers. He’s had a secret crush on his straight best friend, Chip, for years. Suddenly, Luca finds himself attracted to Chyna, Chip’s twin sister. Now he’s wondering if this means he’s bisexual.

Born with a sexual development disorder, Chyna should have been raised as a male, but due to an epic parenting fail, is being raised as female. Hiding the truth becomes more difficult when Chyna hits puberty, and crushing over Luca adds another element to Chyna’s struggle to fit in.

Is Luca’s moral compass strong enough to guide him successfully through this period of discovery or will he succumb to peer pressure and shatter Chyna’s dreams for happiness?

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Review: Wow! This was an intense book to read. I had read all of the previous books in the series, and had concerns about a book with a teenaged MC, what with the backdrop this series is based on. I really shouldn’t have worried, though. There was no squick about Luca at all. The teenage angst was appropriate to his age, and more importantly, was felt to be realistic and protective at the same time.

Jody and Clark, and Greer and Lil, were both further explored. Their relationships grew, and the effects of time on those relationships were exposed and defined to allow Luca to grow up to be the teenager he is in the story. If it wasn’t for the solid carryover of these very adult relationships, I might define this as a YA novel. The issues discussed: gender identity, bullying, peer pressure and family responsibilities are classic YA topics and are handled in an impressive manner. But…this is not a YA book. We are carried into the story as adults, protecting the young, nurturing their growth and allowing them to blossom safely, with our compassion at the forefront of our awareness as we read.

I have so much respect for this author for freely visiting topics that most would be wary of. I am a curious reader, and I love learning new things about people and places, and at no time when reading one of her books do I ever not learn something. Kinks and fetishes are a delight to learn about in the privacy of my own home, but the difficult topics she covers, like bullying and self-identity, are also explored, and these are emotionally felt by the reader as we are so immersed in her books that the events almost seem to happen to us. I would not say that Chyna Doll is an easy book to read, but it is now one of my favorites. The ability to force her readers to see things from multiple sides, and learn about new things in a balanced way, is a pretty awesome talent. It speaks to amazing research and world building, as well as character development which invests us in her work. We want the resolutions to work, and the characters to be happy, but we also want hope for the future, and she always delivers.

I would love to have parts of this book be compulsory for high school English classes, or maybe social studies, if that is still in the high school curriculum, but either way this is a book that should be read; for knowledge and awareness and personal growth. It is not a casual story to be enjoyed on a whim, but is an engrossing tale that will sustain you in ways I can’t describe. It manages to draw on so many emotions; it’s sexy, it has some great dialogue that’s funny and full of wit, it has moments that are disgusting for the portrayal of bullying at their worst and made me angry at parental powers that had been abused. And yet, the story still ended with hope. There are so many reasons to read this book, but I think the hope that endures through the pages is the absolute best reason to pick this story up and delve into the world Mickie B. Ashling has created.

Do yourself a favor and check out the first three books first, though: Horizons, Taste, and Daddio, to see the series journey so far and then tease your senses even more with Chyna Doll.

TNA_Signature_Janet






You can buy Chyna Doll here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Mickie B. Ashling

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Chyna Doll Blog Tour With Mickie B. Ashling

Chyna Doll Tour Banner

Many thanks to The Novel Approach for hosting my Chyna Doll blog tour visit. This is the fourth novel in the Horizons series. We’ve jumped ahead several years since Daddio ended. Luca has just started high school, Lil and Grier are in Italy, and Clark and Jody are the official “babysitters” for a month. Here’s an exclusive excerpt for you. I’ve also brought along some goodies to give away: a $20 Dreamspinner gift certificate, one of five ecopies of Chyna Doll, any two ebooks from Mickie’s backlist, or a signed paperback of Chyna Doll!

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ChynaDollLGBlurb: Lil Lampert’s forty-fifth birthday turns the effervescent architect into a brooding mess, and his partner, Grier Dilorio, takes him to Italy to help him regain his zest for life. The timing is bad—almost-fifteen-year-old Luca has just started high school, and his mother and stepfather are also traveling. Luca is left in the care of Chicago Bear, Clark Stevens, and his partner, Dr. Jody Williams.

Growing up with two dads and two gay uncles has given Luca a unique perspective on gender roles, but not all the answers. He’s had a secret crush on his straight best friend, Chip, for years. Suddenly, Luca finds himself attracted to Chyna, Chip’s twin sister. Now he’s wondering if this means he’s bisexual.

Born with a sexual development disorder, Chyna should have been raised as a male, but due to an epic parenting fail, is being raised as female. Hiding the truth becomes more difficult when Chyna hits puberty, and crushing over Luca adds another element to Chyna’s struggle to fit in.

Is Luca’s moral compass strong enough to guide him successfully through this period of discovery or will he succumb to peer pressure and shatter Chyna’s dreams for happiness?

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

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Excerpt: Clark got out of the car gingerly, putting most of his weight on the cane he was still using to hobble around. His fracture had healed, but he was being cautious and hadn’t been given clearance to rejoin his team yet; the unwanted hiatus had taken its toll on his normally good humor. Luca hoped he’d be able to get back to the sport before the season ended, or he’d turn into a cranky old bear over the winter. “Put your gear away and come back to help with the dogs.”

“Okay,” Luca said, happy for the reprieve. He took the stairs two at a time and threw his gear into the bedroom they’d assigned him. It was the same room he’d stayed in since he was a youngster, except it had been redecorated recently. The Disney wallpaper had been removed, replaced with posters of popular singers like Taylor Swift, OneRepublic, and his current favorite, Macklemore. The first time he’d heard “Same Love” by the thirty-year-old rapper, he knew he’d have to add him to his playlist. The ode to same sex love had become a national anthem to many in the LGBT community, and Luca was very vocal about gay rights and alternative families. Ironically, he hadn’t made a public stand on his own orientation. In fact, none of his friends knew for sure if he liked boys or girls, and they didn’t dare ask. In truth, Luca wasn’t sure either. He was attracted to both sexes, and flattered when they flirted with him, but once in a while, Chip would look at him in a certain way, and he’d get this feeling deep in the pit of his stomach that made him wonder if he could be bisexual.

It seemed like his body was developing much faster than his brain, and he was plagued by inconvenient boners that were a part of growing up, according to his dads, and nothing to be ashamed of. Every guy gets them, they’d said reassuringly. I’m sure you know how to deal with them, right? Right—what? How awkward was that? Did he even want to say the word? It sounded so dirty when he said it out loud, but it felt so good in the privacy of his room. How could anything that was so awesome be wrong? Wouldn’t it feel that much better with a partner? Why did he have to choose sides? Or did he? Didn’t most people automatically know if they were attracted to men or women?

Two guys kissing was nothing unusual to Luca, likewise, the affectionate nuzzling that went on between his mother and Tito Ali. One didn’t seem more normal than the other. Because of the nine year age difference between him and his half-sister, Gemma, girls remained somewhat of a mystery. He had a tendency to treat them like they were precious Christmas ornaments that might shatter at any minute. Chip wasn’t too far off the mark when he’d accused Luca of handling the girls in school with extreme care. The few he’d been around had been very sweet, and he didn’t see the horns that supposedly lurked beneath their bouncy curls. Perhaps his best friend was jealous. Did that mean Chip was gay and jonesing for him? Christ, growing up was such a pain sometimes. He wished he were eighteen so all his doubts could be put to rest.

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Author BioAuthor Bio: Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.

By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.

Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

Connect with Mickie: Email | Facebook | Website | Blog | Goodreads and Ask the Author

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THE GIVEAWAY (*Contest open internationally/Must be 18 or older to enter*):

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Schedule:

March 2 – The Novel Approach

March 3 – Cup o’ Porn

March 4 – Hearts On Fire

March 5 – WoW…from The Scarf Princess

March 6 – MM Good Book Reviews

March 7 – Book Reviews & More by Kathy

March 9 – Prism Book Alliance

March 10 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

March 11 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews

March 12 – Sinfully…Addicted to All Male Romance

Tour and materials organized by PAS Promotions

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Dreamspinner Press, Mickie B. Ashling

Excerpt #2 and Giveaway: The Cutting Out Blog Tour With Mickie B. Ashling

Cutting Out Tour Banner REVISED

Many thanks to The Novel Approach for hosting my Cutting Out blog tour. This is the fourth novel in the Cutting Cords series and a direct sequel to Cleave. I’m going to be sharing excerpts in a serial fashion.  You can expect to read something different at each stop as I move forward in the novel.  An e-book copy of Cutting Out will be offered to one lucky commenter as part of the deal so make sure to leave your contact information when you comment. 

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED.

Good luck! Continue reading

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Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochet, Cornelia Grey, Eileen Griffin, Jack Byrne, L.A. Witt, Liz Borino, Mia Kerick, Mickie B. Ashling, Nikka Michaels, Rain Carrington, Sneak Peek, Sue Brown, Whitley Gray

A Giveaway and A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

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Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another look at what we have coming up for you in the week ahead.

First, though, in case you missed it, The Novel Approach is hosting a giveaway over at Mary Calmes’s Blog for our Book of the Month picks in October. There’s a chance to win TWO of the dozen e-books we each selected as October’s best, so be sure to head on over there before Midnight Pacific time on November 4 to enter for a chance to win.

Good luck!

And now, here’s who we have in store for you in the coming week, more great guests, interviews, blog tours, giveaways, and, of course, reviews.

 

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MondayNikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin stop in on their In the Fire blog tour

Cornelia Grey is also our guest on the Circus of the Damned blog tour

TuesdayMickie B. Ashling is here on the Cutting Out blog tour

Whitley Gray drops by with an interview on the Crash Pad blog tour

WednesdayL.A. Witt is our guest on the Starstruck blog tour

Rain Carrington comes calling to do a little promo for her two upcoming releases, Crazy Little Man Called Love and Road Runner

ThursdayCarole Cummings is our guest today to talk a little bit about the launch of Dreamspinner Publications

Charlie Cochet is also here today on the Rack & Ruin blog tour

FridayMia Kerick drops in on the Random Acts blog tour

RJ Scott joins us on her Darach (Fire: Book Two) blog tour

SaturdayLiz Borino makes TNA a stop on the No Time for Secrets blog tour

And finally, Jack Byrne is back to talk about the new anthology Hot Off the Press

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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