3 Stars, Genre Romance, Holiday Romance, J.D. Walker, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Grateful for You by J.D. Walker

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Title: Grateful for You

Author: J.D. Walker

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 33 Pages

At a Glance: If you enjoy those feel good kinda short stories, then this one is for you.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jared Gillespie left the family farm five years ago because Walt Schneider cheated on him. With a woman. What he didn’t realize was that Walt, the man he still loves, was trying to tell him something, and it takes a trip home to figure it out.

After Jared’s mother convinces him to return for Thanksgiving, Jared discovers Walt is a daddy now, of all things. His daughter’s name is Casey — Jared’s middle name. When Jared and Walt confront each other, the resulting confrontation causes Jared to realize he may have pushed Walt to cheat because of his overbearing ways. But would Walt be interested in trying again, after all this time?

Because a man doesn’t name his daughter after his ex-lover if he’s over him, no matter what he pretends to the contrary. Maybe Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful: for second chances, and for love found, not lost.

Dividers

Review: Jared knows it’s time to go home. He’s been away for five years, ever since his childhood love, Walt, cheated on him.  Jared didn’t stick around after it happened, he just left, and he’s never been back. He doesn’t know why Walt did it, or what message he was trying to send, Jared just knew it hurt. But, now it is time to go home and put those ghosts to rest so he can move on and heal—finally.

This is a short story of forgiveness and an example of what love can overcome if we let it.  Being so short, we don’t get a lot of backstory here, but we do get a good sense of who these men are individually, and we get enough to know that the love they feel is real.  It takes forgiveness on both sides to heal, and both men to be willing to put themselves out there again for this HEA happen.

If you enjoy those feel good kinda short stories, then this one is for you.

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4 Stars, Holiday Romance, JMS Books LLC, John Amory, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife by John Amory

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Title: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife

Author: John Amory

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 25 Pages

At a Glance: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife is a short, sweet and to the point story with a magical twist that, brief though it is, packs an emotional punch.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Workaholic Logan rests only one day of the year: Christmas Day, and then only because when he tried to open his coffee shop on that day once and no one showed up. Ever since his parents died on Christmas Eve over ten years ago, Logan keeps busy to keep his feelings at bay and keep people at a distance, even going so far as to ignore his younger brother’s invitation to spend the holiday together.

But a car accident and a Christmas Eve encounter with a mysterious stranger named Michael, which may or may not be a dream, will change the way Logan sees his past, his present, and his future.

Dividers

Review: Logan doesn’t have a wonderful life. In fact, he doesn’t have much of a life at all. He works, he goes home, he sleeps, he wakes up, and repeats the cycle on a continual loop. He’d do it 365 days a year were it not for the fact that the one year he tried opening his café on Christmas Day, he had no customers.

Logan is alone by choice, estranged from his younger brother—avoiding him, more to the point, working his life away and existing in a state of perpetual grief. Christmas is not a great time of the year for Logan, to say the least, and when we meet him, he’s driving home from work, yet again, on a dismal Christmas Eve.

John Amory does a splendid job of painting a visual of Logan, the man who brushes up against the same people every day but never bothers to make personal connections. He’s the archetypical loaner—the man you know will one day look back on his life and see the trail of regrets he’s left behind, a man who’s in dire need of a chance to turn his life around before it’s too late. Logan is in the process of rejecting yet another invitation from his brother Dave to come spend the holiday with him and his girlfriend, Tia, when a sudden turn of events sets the course for this touching little story filled with the magic of Christmas.

In the film It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey makes a wish. He wishes he’d never been born, and when that wish is fulfilled, he gets to experience the fallout firsthand, and subsequently is able to understand how beautiful the world with him in it truly is. In this short story, Amory puts his own twist on the second chance trope by showing Logan a significant moment from his childhood through his adult eyes, a past event filled with all the pain and sadness that’s brought him to this point in his life. And eventually, with the help of something a little supernatural, Logan is gifted with the opportunity to see it is indeed a wonderful life—even if life isn’t always wonderful.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife offers a poignant look at one man’s salvation. It’s a short, sweet and to the point story with a magical twist that, brief though it is, packs an emotional punch.

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4.5 Stars, JMS Books LLC, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, W.S. Long

Review: Love and Pain by W.S. Long

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Title: Love and Pain

Author: WS Long

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 45000 Words

At a Glance: Overall, a well done mystery/romance!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Sequel to Love and Murder

After their too-thrilling courtship that included capturing his former lover’s killer, Jake Chandler has started a new life for himself with FBI agent Xavier. Living together is wonderful, but moving to Washington D.C. has resulted in temporary jobs that don’t last long. When Jake finally lucks out on a too-good-to-be-true position with a big law firm, Xavier suspects Jake’s new boss is crooked.

With some sleuthing, snooping, and close calls, Jake gets deeper into trouble at work, and conflicts with Xavier make his world start to crumble. When a key witness is shot to death in front of Jake, they both begin to realize how high the stakes are. Can Jake and Xavier get through these threats and find happiness with each other?

Dividers

Review: Love and Pain picks up a few months after Love and Murder, when the main characters, Jake and Xavier, are starting their new life together. You don’t have to read the first book, but it would help a great deal as this book is tied to it and can be a tad confusing in the beginning if you do not know the backstory from the first novel. This book takes a while to get going, but is highly enjoyable once it does.

Xavier is an FBI agent, taken out of the field because of his last case (Love and Murder), and he practically itches to return to field work. Jake is a lawyer, taking short term assignments while looking for a permanent job in Washington, DC. When a law firm hires Jake and the offer seems too good to be true, Xavier gets suspicious and soon discovers that old cases for the both of them are coming back to haunt them. Above it all, though, this is a romance, and the mystery surrounding these men is there as a complement to their love story. How far are you willing to go to keep someone you love safe? Jake and Xavier each answer that question in this book, and it’s amazing. The way the mystery plays out is totally believable, and I give credit for that to the fact that the author is a lawyer. The way the pivotal characters are all linked together is credible and makes the story a believable crime drama played out on the page.

Love and Pain can be a little flat in places, like the author’s writing style is a work in progress: things are stated baldly, almost stilted in places where you wish he would use a few more words and make the imagery flow instead of stating facts. However, this is not the case for the entire novel, and the places where he allows more nuance of these characters makes them come alive and become real, and it is these incredible places that make the rough spots seem not so significant.

I am always on the lookout for really good crime/mystery stories, and I really enjoyed this book and will look for more from this author, as I think he holds great promise in this genre. Overall, well done!

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4 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Holiday Romance, JMS Books LLC, Paranormal, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Desmond and Garrick (Book One) by Hayden Thorne

Title: Desmond and Garrick (Book One)

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Another fantastic historical YA fantasy from Hayden Thorne.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: It’s 1815. Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius, who agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, heartbroken by another boy’s callous treatment of him in school, rebels against Garrick’s attempts at educating him and does everything he could to chase Garrick away, which proves to be a greater challenge than he first thought.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit and brings with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, life in Dryden Abbey turns upside-down, mainly when Desmond meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a sullen vampire poet.

Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds life in the Hathaway household to be a great deal more than he bargained for.

Dividers

Review: Hayden Thorne knows how to write historical YA, and historical fantasy YA, so when I had the opportunity to read Desmond and Garrick I was thrilled. First of all, it has a similarly haunting cover of some old building. Without even reading the blurb, I knew the house would play some interesting part in the story, and it did.

The first of a series (at least one other book is out, or soon to be out), Desmond and Garrick focuses on a vampire family and their young son, Desmond, who has been sent out of human schools for “provoking” human boys, like pretty much every young vampire has done. Desperate to change him and get him to settle down, his parents send for a human tutor and find Garrick, a brilliant scholar who detests teaching. But, the idea of working with vampires and learning about their species intrigues him.

What follows is a story as both teacher and pupil grow. Their growth may not necessarily be because of each other, but changes take place. Garrick is drawn more towards tutoring Desmond’s talented younger sister, who shows more promise than Desmond. And Desmond, attempting to get over the human boy he loved and lost, finds himself face to face with his older brother’s friend, Leigh Sherbourne, a vampire poet who both intrigues and repulses Desmond.

Like the author’s other YA books, there is very little romance, and what is there is incredibly slow to start, but also, like the other books, that’s okay. There’s more to this than the romance. Instead, you’ll be drawn to watching the vampire children (who act much younger than fifteen and sixteen) throwing themselves off the top of their home, locking themselves in the torture chamber’s various devices, watching vampire parents adding graveyards and collapsed walls to their cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle home.

I look forward to the next book, because this one leaves off in spot that suggests this would work well as one long book rather than two (or more) parts of one story.

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, Jeff Adams, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Heat Wave: Tuscaloosa by Jeff Adams

Title: Heat Wave – Tuscaloosa

Author: Jeff Adams

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count:  51 Pages

At a Glance: As a heart-warming love story, Heat Wave: Tuscaloosa hits the spot.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Ethan is a grad student stuck in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the summer. Though he’s thrilled about his teaching assistant position at the university, he’s not at all excited about the record-breaking heat wave plaguing the area.

In the midst of an oppressively hot summer night, Ethan meets fellow grad student Marcus. While their initial encounters are scorching, can two busy students have more than a heated seasonal fling? Or could it be the beginning of something that will last beyond the stormy southern nights?

Dividers

Review: Heat Wave: Tuscaloosa definitely lived up to its name. Set in Alabama in the summer, we meet Ethan, a grad student who is teaching during the summer. Since he couldn’t cool down his apartment enough, he spent a few nights sleeping on his patio. On the first night, he spots a man he names Shadow Man (since that’s all he can make of the stranger) beating off on a neighboring balcony across from his own. Ethan joins in and this becomes a nightly event…until one night the power goes out, and all the people in the community of buildings are hanging around outside. That’s when he meets Marcus, aka Shadow Man, and the heatwave moves from the actual weather into the bedroom, a farm, a bathroom, and several other places as well.

As a light summer read, this hit the spot. There wasn’t a whole bunch of drama, misunderstandings, or obstacles to overcome. Like any exciting new relationship, this was fun and exciting and new. Along with hot sex, the two characters learn they have an easy time getting to know one another, and that there’s a real connection that runs deeper than the hormones rushing through their veins whenever they are together.

That said, I’d recommend this book when you want something that reads quick and is completely free of any angst or worry. There isn’t much of a plotline, other than the two characters getting to know one another and learning that they make a great pair. This book is free or internal and external pressures that can stand in the way of a developing relationship.

As a heart-warming love story, Heat Wave: Tuscaloosa hits the spot.

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, JL Merrow, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed By Carrie, Short Story

Review: Love Found on Lindisfarne by JL Merrow

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Title: Love Found on Lindisfarne

Author: JL Merrow

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 35 Pages

At a Glance: Who wouldn’t like a lovable dad, a precocious almost-teen, and a Viking?

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: When single father Chris meets a Viking re-enactor on Lindisfarne, he thinks it’s the perfect recipe for a holiday fling — and nothing more. Ian, or Ulf, as he’s known when in character as a Viking berserker, is a dreadlocked nomad who never stays in one place for long.

Chris had a relationship with a free spirit like Ian before, and it didn’t end well for him or for his bright but troubled daughter Kelis. He’s determined not to risk the stability of her home environment for Ian, no matter how well she gets on with him — and no matter how much Chris is drawn to the man.

But Chris hasn’t reckoned with the Viking way of taking all you’re willing to give — and coming back for more.

Dividers

Review: Love Found on Lindisfarne is a short story that hooks you in from the first paragraph.

“It was a hot summer’s day on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The lanes were dusty underfoot, the languid breeze heavy with the scent of the North Sea, and a Viking had just offered to buy my daughter.”

Chris is a single father with regrets, and Kelis is his twelve year old daughter. Together they travel to Lindisfarne on holiday, in their quest to accomplish a castle a day – and meet Ulf, or Ian. Ian is a Viking reenactor who is really too great a guy to be a berserker.

This is a feel good story. If you have an extra hour and want a little pick me up, then grab this book. You will read it with a smile on your face that won’t fade once the last page is read. It will leave you with a little warmth in your heart. The story is also well written for being so short, something that is not that easy to accomplish. Sometimes you just want a lovely romantic short, and this fits the bill nicely.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, J.D. Walker, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Lana, Short Story

Review: Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues by J.D. Walker

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Title: Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues

Author: J.D. Walker

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 25 Pages

At a Glance: I absolutely loved Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues!

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Lester “Les” McCoy is a retired cowboy who now lives in the city, working days at the Ranch and Feed. He loves his country music. Not so his tenant, Damien Ridley, who lives downstairs in his duplex and works evenings at the gym.

”Metal boy,” as Les likes to call him, prefers to listen to all things rock and metal at decibels that make his ears bleed. Damien is attracted to Les, which he makes abundantly clear with those translucent gray eyes and his hot, kissable mouth. Problem is, although Les is in lust with Damien, he’s an old prairie bachelor and sees his metal boy as too young for a roll in the hay. He’d rather be put out to pasture.

Enter a friend who’s gay-bashed and a co-worker who kicks his head out of his ass, and Les reconsiders whether a heavy metal dude can help an old cowboy with the blues.

Dividers

Review: I absolutely loved Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues! It had just the right amount of cuteness, snark and hotness, a perfect mix that entertained and satisfied. But, as always, when I get into a story and it’s too short I get mad! LOL. This is my only negative here. The story was just too short and should have been a part an anthology or a full length novel.

The story is about Les, a thirty-something cowboy who likes country music. He’s sort of content in his life but lusts after his tenant, Damien. Damien works at the local gym, is also in lust with his landlord, Les, and likes to play heavy metal music at top volume. They bond over their hatred of each other’s music and a need to help out a friend. Les finally gives in to Damien’s relentless pursuit of him, and the result is perfect! I loved them together because they were total opposites that complemented each other. Okay, the opposites attract storylines tend to me my favorites. Their initial lust gives way to genuine feelings, and I wanted to know what happened after the story ended. It’s told from Les’ POV, and it was fun being in his funny, sarcastic head. This story needed to be longer!!

Heavy Metal Cowboy Blues is a sweet little tale that shows opposites do attract and can make beautiful music together!

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3 Stars, AR Moler, JMS Books LLC, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: What’s in Your Box by A.R. Moler

Title: What’s In Your Box? (Djinn: Book One)

Author: A.R. Moler

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 46 Pages

At a Glance: Short story with a djinn, a vet with PTSD, and some cute moments.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Dale Edinger has just inherited a house from his aunt. It’s a good thing too because traumatic shoulder damage and PTSD has forced the Marine lieutenant to retire. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Aunt Mildred’s inheritance is more than an overfull and chaotic house. All kinds of surprises await Dale as he sorts through his aunt’s hoard.
Riadh is one of those surprises. He’s a djinn, a being of magic from another culture — and Dale is his new owner–much to Dale’s dismay. Riadh has his own history and a set of rules that make it impossible for him to be freed. It’s not only Riadh that Dale has to contend with either. In fact, just finding the magickal objects that his aunt had squirreled away in her house will be a trick. When he finds them, what does he do with them? And what about Riadh?

Dividers

Review: I’m not sure what I was expecting from this short story, but I was pleasantly surprised. While it started off a bit rough and could use some editing, it evens out as the story progresses, and the author gets into a rhythm. I enjoyed reading about Dale and Riadh, and honestly, I wish the book was longer. That this seems to be the first in a series gives me hope.

Dale is a vet suffering from PTSD. After his aunt dies, he inherits her estate and moves in to start cleaning it out. She appears to be a bit of a hoarder, and he is in for quite the job. When he finds a shoebox in the closet and opens it, a Djinn pops out. Riadh was his aunt’s helper, and he belongs to Dale now.

What follows is their attempt to get to know each other, get comfortable with their new situations in life, and move on from there. I enjoyed watching their relationship blossom, even if it was a short story. And it ends on a note where there could be more, and I would enjoy that. Since this does seem to be the start of a series, I hope it doesn’t pick up with a different Djinn. As a reader I would like to explore Dale and Riadh’s relationship more.

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Giveaways, Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC

Excerpt and Giveaway: Desmond and Garrick by Hayden Thorne

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Hayden Thorne today, with an excerpt and giveaway of her latest re-release Desmond and Garrick: Book One, a young adult Regency vampire coming-of-age novel, infused with more than a little humor.

Be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of Desmond and Garrick Books One and Two (upon its release).

Good luck!

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Author BioAuthor’s notes: I wrote Desmond and Garrick 1-2 because I love Romanticism and the Regency, and I wanted desperately to write a pastiche using this period. I also wanted to explore not just one subject – that of a developing romance between two young people – but also to show prejudices between a human tutor and a vampire teenager being torn down while a very unlikely friendship grows as each finds in the other a sympathetic mirror to his own misunderstood qualities. To top it all off, I wanted to write a quirky, humorous take on Regency romance tropes as well as tropes commonly used in paranormal YA romances. These two books were a real blast to write, and I hope readers find them entertaining and fun.

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from Chapter 13: a scene in which a very confused mortal tutor bears witness to a blossoming romance

When Garrick also realized Desmond didn’t answer, he turned and found, to his greater amazement, that the boy was scrubbing his eyes with his sleeve. He stopped in his tracks, reaching out and pressing a hand on Desmond’s shoulder.

“Why – are you ill, Master Desmond?” he asked. “You should have told me if you were! I wouldn’t have led you this far from Dryden Abbey, and – ”

Desmond shook his head. “No, I’m not ill,” he said, his voice breaking. Garrick was stunned. “I’m just – what you’re saying caught me off guard, I suppose.”

For the romantics out there, especially Desmond, who’s yet to figure things out at sixteen.

“What I’m saying,” Garrick echoed, frowning more deeply. “What was I saying? Heavens, did I just offend you, sir?”

“No. You made me think about Phillip, and you got me thinking about – but that’s hopeless. Yes, he wrote once if only to tell me to stop sending him letters. He’s not in love with me anymore.” Desmond’s shoulders shook as he struggled with his tears, and it seemed that it was all he could do to keep his head bowed the whole time. “No, that’s not true. He never did love me, the way I loved him.” He felt around his pockets and pulled out a handkerchief.

Garrick waited. Desmond’s words seemed to hang in the air for several moments, frozen in time. Then he felt their weight slowly press down on him. Garrick blinked and watched the boy wipe his face with his handkerchief as he slowly regained control of himself.

“What…do you mind repeating that?” Garrick asked, and Desmond looked up, pale and drawn.

True, dat. True, true, true, dat.

True, dat. True, true, true, dat.

Garrick waited, but Desmond didn’t answer. In fact, the boy seemed to have turned into marble all of a sudden, his gaze wide-eyed and horror-struck as he stared out, just above Garrick’s shoulder and fixed at something behind him.

“Oh, balls,” Desmond muttered. Whatever grief that was there but a moment ago had been replaced by speechless shock and dismay. Garrick blinked and turned around.

Leigh Blaise Sherbourne was approaching them on horseback. Covered and rendered quite interesting by his own gray cloud and fog cover, the vampire gentleman closed the distance, his horse steady in its light cantering.

“It’s only Mr. Sherbourne, Master Desmond,” Garrick presently said, touching his hat at the gentleman, “and not one of those confounded mortal artists who curse my waking hours.”

“Well, he curses my waking hours,” Desmond said, his words coming out like a low growl. For a moment, Garrick wondered if the boy had just bared his fangs, but Desmond didn’t despite his clear irritation. Baring one’s fangs, Garrick had learned, was a show of impudence. He was charged by Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway to make sure their youngest son curbed his tendencies as much as possible.

How I envision Leigh Blaise Sherbourne - only with darker hair

How I envision Leigh Blaise Sherbourne – only with darker hair

“It’s a surprise to see you both out here, enjoying the countryside and not imprisoned somewhere in Dryden Abbey,” Mr. Sherbourne said, his voice dull and dry – as it always was, Garrick thought. Garrick saw that Mr. Sherbourne regarded them both with an expression he could only describe as mask-like since it seemed the vampire looked as though he’d been carved out of cold marble.

“My pupil desired it, and I must confess, sir, so did I.”

Mr. Sherbourne didn’t appear to listen to Garrick as he spoke. In fact, he was clearly looking at Desmond, who remained behind Garrick, most likely trying everything in his power to stay put behind Garrick without turning into a bat in another angry fit. “If your school time has already finished,” Mr. Sherbourne said, “perhaps you’d oblige me with the pleasure of your company, Desmond.” Then he appeared to realize Desmond wasn’t alone, and he glanced at Garrick. “That is, if Mr. Mortimer doesn’t mind.”

Garrick looked at Mr. Sherbourne and then at Desmond before looking back at the vampire gentleman. Did Mr. Sherbourne just call his pupil by what mortals would refer to as his Christian name? He reminded himself to ask for more particulars from his employers regarding their religion, if they had any, because it appeared to be one more thing he’d yet to familiarize himself with regarding vampires.

“Whatever on earth for?” Desmond stammered, frowning.

Garrick nearly chided the boy right then, but the matter of Mr. Sherbourne’s odd familiarity kept his mind frozen and dull for a few moments.

Mr. Sherbourne merely raised a brow. “Because as your guest, there are several things in your small patch of countryside that I desire to know more about, and as Harper’s spending his time showing the others the cloistered charms of Ramsgill, I’m left alone to fend for myself.”

<bThe Romantic Period is my favorite era in history, largely because of the amazing works of art - written, musical, and visual - that came out of this era.

The Romantic Period is my favorite era in history, largely because of the amazing works of art – written, musical, and visual – that came out of this era.

“School’s not over, I’m afraid,” Desmond said quickly. “I suppose I wouldn’t be able to oblige you till tea, sir – and in the company of my parents, sisters, and guests. If you mean to explore the countryside on horseback, I assure you, it will take you a mere ten minutes to see everything because there’s really nothing to see. Good day.”

Garrick watched Mr. Sherbourne, his thoughts flying all over the place as pieces of another puzzle fell suddenly into place, leaving him with a most unsettling feeling. Mr. Sherbourne touched his hat, his face still cold and impassive, and then turned his horse around. Before long, horse and rider were sailing down the low hill, leaving Garrick alone with Desmond.

“My word,” Garrick breathed as he turned to stare at Desmond, who was grimacing after Mr. Sherbourne but didn’t seem to be keen on taking his eyes off the retreating figure. The sketches that Desmond made in his recent notes weren’t just of any vampire gentleman, Garrick now realized. They were of Leigh Blaise Sherbourne.

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Desmond and GarrickBlurb: It’s 1815. Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius, who agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, heartbroken by another boy’s callous treatment of him in school, rebels against Garrick’s attempts at educating him and does everything he could to chase Garrick away, which proves to be a greater challenge than he first thought.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit and brings with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, life in Dryden Abbey turns upside-down, mainly when Desmond meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a sullen vampire poet.

Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds life in the Hathaway household to be a great deal more than he bargained for.

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2 Stars, Erotica, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Taz, Short Story, Wayne Mansfield

Review: An Island, Lost by Wayne Mansfield

Title: An Island, Lost

Author: Wayne Mansfield

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 42 Pages

At a Glance: I feel this author tried to accomplish too much in the short amount of space he used for the story.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Clint is travelling on a small Cessna Citation over the Pacific. When the plane hits a pocket of turbulence, he is wrenched from his nap and plunged into a nightmare. The plane plummets into the ocean.

Clint and one other passenger, a man named Carlos, survive. The hulk of the plane sinks, leaving them adrift with no land in sight. They fight to stay alive, but thirst and exhaustion overtake them.

Purely by luck Clint finds himself washed ashore on a mysterious island. But where is Carlos? Did sharks get him? Did he drown? With survival foremost in his mind Clint finds clean water and fruit and a safe place to rest.

Then Clint discovers the island is inhabited by other castaways, men who have been washed ashore on this unknown island over the years. One of the men is Andy, with whom Clint falls in love.

Only much later does he discover Carlos’s fate, along with the fact that the island has more secrets to reveal. One that could cost him his life.

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Review: Every once in a while I choose a short story, somewhere between 10K – 20K words, mostly during the summer, as an enjoyable and quick read. An Island, Lost is one such book and was a first for me from author Wayne Mansfield.

This story opens with one of the best hooks you can imagine. A plane crash and the protagonist is one of only two survivors. I had high hopes for the story, but it quickly fell short of my expectations once it got going. The relationship with Alan was hot, and I enjoyed it, but when confessions of love were made, I had a hard time connecting to the strength of their emotions.

The lone woman on the island, who’d been banned from the male village because of her vampiric tendencies (although she’s never called a vampire) seemed a contrived conflict, placing Clint, our main character, in harm’s way. As quickly as the conflict arises, it is resolved (which makes sense in a story of just over 10,000 words).

In short, I feel this author tried to accomplish too much in the short amount of space he used for the story. Had this been about a man who crashed, landed on an island, and found love (with lots of smexy scenes woven in) I would have enjoyed it more. Or, if the conflict had been more about Clint struggling with his fate and then accepting it in the end, I might have found the story a bit easier to digest.

As it is, this story was not for me. Although I did have to cover myself when reading the sex scenes so as not to embarrass myself or anyone around me.

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3 Stars, Historical Romance, JL Merrow, JMS Books LLC, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna

Review: Jack in the Green by JL Merrow

Title: Jack in the Green

Author: JL Merrow

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 24 Pages

At a Glance: While slightly confusing at times, this is an interesting story with a couple of surprising twists.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: In 1920s England, class distinctions still hold sway, and the old pagan traditions are far from forgotten. Can shy young Arthur, stranded in a country village, come to terms with his attraction to the handsome mechanic fixing his car? And are the May Day celebrations more than just a simple country fete?

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Review: Jack in the Green is a very short historical story (1920s) about a young man who has been on a journey home, and his car has broken down in a rural village in the English countryside. Luckily there is a mechanic, appropriately named Goodman, who will be able to fix his car, but he won’t be able to travel on until the part arrives and the work is done. He is able to fine accommodation at the local inn, and it just so happens that he that he will be there for the May Day fete. It seems that the mechanic is to portray Jack in the Green, and the daughter of the owners of the inn/pub, the May Day Queen. However, it’s not the queen that the mechanic would be interested in, and this is apparently common knowledge, but nobody seems bothered by it. There seems to be some sort of supernatural element to this village, and its residents as well – it’s like they know more about Arthur than they should – including the rector – and it’s a bit unsettling. But when the May Day celebration night and the second procession begins, Arthur is in for quite a surprise, and maybe his car has given out in this place for a reason.

I’ll admit, I was a little bit lost at times during this story. I think maybe because we don’t really have anything like a traditional May Day celebration in the US, I was unaware of the UK tradition of the Jack in the Green and May Day celebrations. I actually did a bit of looking up of the traditions after I read the story, so I got a better handle on what was going on in the story. :) It was interesting and I’m always happy to learn something new.







 

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Hayden Thorne today, with an excerpt and giveaway of her newest book The Golem Upstairs, sequel to Sheridan Diggins and the Dead Horde.

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The Golem UpstairsBLURB: Book 2 of the Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles

Sheridan Diggins hasn’t had much luck in love. In fact, he hasn’t had much luck in anything, period. So when the prince of the underworld takes a sudden fancy to him, the future should look promising.

Or shouldn’t it?

Unfortunately, dating the youngest prince of the dead comes with a few complications. Yuli Soulweaver’s presence “upstairs” stirs up long-dormant magic, which adds to the baffling day-to-day experiences of Cecilia’s colonists. There’s also the danger of aliens and colonists discovering the existence of a magical universe, which could blow the lid wide open between two worlds that aren’t meant to come together.

The worst part, of course, is the fact that someone from Yuli’s world appears to have discovered the lovers’ dirty little secret and has taken the step of sending a mindless monster to do away with Sheridan.

Suddenly, paying the bills takes a backseat to Sheridan’s bizarre love life.

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EXCERPT – FROM CHAPTER 12:

It was with some relief he picked up a pregnant woman who looked about ready to pop out a baby at any moment. She was terribly friendly and sweet, the chatty type whom one wanted desperately to adopt on the spot. Sheridan helped her inside the astro-cab and readjusted the seatbelt for her.

“Thank you so much,” she said, smiling in clear relief and joy as she relaxed in her seat. She pointed at her giant belly. “God, I’m just dying to get this over with.”

Sheridan laughed as he took his place and buckled up. He pulled out his ship’s map and asked, “So where are you headed, ma’am?”

Grandma Janet, whose spirit is bound to Sheridan's astro-cab, becomes Sheridan's confidante despite the fact the two bicker pretty often. In the absence of Sheridan's parents, who both died in his teens, his caustic and blunt grandmother becomes their stand-in. Sheridan might not appreciate it at the moment, but he'll eventually realize just how much he really needs her. I say Grandma Janet does Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) proud.)

Grandma Janet, whose spirit is bound to Sheridan’s astro-cab, becomes Sheridan’s confidante despite the fact the two bicker pretty often. In the absence of Sheridan’s parents, who both died in his teens, his caustic and blunt grandmother becomes their stand-in. Sheridan might not appreciate it at the moment, but he’ll eventually realize just how much he really needs her. I say Grandma Janet does Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) proud.

When she didn’t answer right away, Sheridan glanced back and found her staring at him with a faint smile.

“Ma’am?”

“You aren’t much,” she said. Her voice had taken on a different quality, too. It had softened and lowered in tone as though she were speaking to herself. But there was something else to it.

Sheridan blinked, his brain fighting to follow two completely diverging paths. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you the first time,” he said.

“I look at you now, and I wonder. What does he see in – oh!” The woman gave a start, her eyes widening. “Did I just blank out? I’m so sorry.” She blushed now, laughing in embarrassment. “It’s hormones, I think. Anyway, I owe you an address, don’t I?”

In another moment they were on their way, with Sheridan staring ahead and feeling his skull expand. What had just happened? He couldn’t even be sure about what he’d witnessed.

It had happened so quickly, and it had come from out of the blue, completely taking him by surprise. It took some doing to wrestle himself back to the present.

The pregnant woman turned out to be his last passenger before lunch. He watched her slowly pick her way along a footpath with the help of a couple of friends, all three women chatting happily as they went.

The colonists' change in skin, eye, and hair colors are a spoof of the more elaborate and kickass diversity of more traditional sci-fi stories and films. Only the "friendly alien neighbors" exhibit distinct physical characteristics, but even their names are parodies of the more cosmic versions. Okay, the entire Cecilian Chronicles series is a sci-fi spoof. There you go.

The colonists’ change in skin, eye, and hair colors are a spoof of the more elaborate and kickass diversity of more traditional sci-fi stories and films. Only the “friendly alien neighbors” exhibit distinct physical characteristics, but even their names are parodies of the more cosmic versions. Okay, the entire Cecilian Chronicles series is a sci-fi spoof. There you go.

Sheridan watched them vanish inside an apartment building. “Hey, Grandma?” he asked.

“Yes, I heard. Lovely young lady, I must add. She really shouldn’t be traveling around so much with her being that big,” Grandma Janet said without a pause for breath. Then again, she was dead, so pausing to catch a breath seemed superfluous.

“You know what I mean.”

“I do. I was just dicking with you.”

Sheridan sighed. “What did she say? I’m not sure I heard her right.”

“She said something about you not being much, but I don’t know – maybe she meant you don’t look like much? She mumbled her words half the time, but that might be nothing more than the end result of talking with two voices. The other thing she said got cut off. I didn’t really catch that one. I think I was too busy worrying about her popping like a tick on a heat lamp and really ruining your day.”

“Hold on – did you say she spoke in two voices?”

“She sure sounded like it. One was her voice – I know that for sure. The other was lower, almost masculine.” Grandma Janet paused. “Good lord, is she a ventriloquist? I’ve never met one before. I’ve always thought they were nothing more than just relics from ancient Earth history, but if there are professional ventriloquists on Cecilia, I feel so goddamned cheated now.”

Sheridan’s hair stood on end. He’d heard the second thing the woman had said, but the nature of her voice had just been made clear to him. He’d thought she sounded downright bizarre, but never had he even entertained the notion that she’d be speaking in two different voices, literally. The unease returned, and Sheridan quickly flew Old Myrna away.

The golem is a creature from Jewish folklore, and part of its characteristics are used in this installment. I also made use of its modern definition, so the golem coming after Sheridan is also a lumbering idiot.

The golem is a creature from Jewish folklore, and part of its characteristics are used in this installment. I also made use of its modern definition, so the golem coming after Sheridan is also a lumbering idiot.

“Is there something wrong, kiddo?” Grandma Janet piped up, breaking the silence. “You’re speeding.”

“Oh – uh – I just wanted to get to the fish and chip stand before the lunchtime crowd shows up.”

“Oh. Okay. For a moment I thought you were freaking out over that pregnant ventriloquist. I wonder where she performs. I’m sure she’s pretty damned good in her work. I swear, I’ve never seen anyone give off such potent vibes the way she did.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Grandma.”

“Oh – you know. I think it’s called emoting in the theater world. In her case, she talked with two voices and really gave me a strong feeling of wanting to destroy you if she weren’t hobbled so much by her gigantic belly. I’m calling it now – she’s going to have triplets.”

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3.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Hunter Frost, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Jules

Review: The Courage to Heal by Hunter Frost

Title: The Courage to Heal

Author: Hunter Frost

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count:

At a Glance: The Courage to Heal piqued my interest in the characters and the story, and kept me entertained.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Former U.S. Army Sergeant Wade Carter returned from Afghanistan a broken man. Permanently injured and weighed down with PTSD, his scars run deeper than flesh and bone. When his regular physical therapist is taken ill, the sexy replacement doctor has Wade wishing he’d touch much more of his body than his busted leg.

Dr. Jesse Okenah isn’t a beginner when it comes to working with veterans, but his new patient stirs up feelings that go beyond professional. It’s Wade’s wounded soul, more than his mangled leg, that needs TLC in order for him to live a healthy, fulfilling life again. Jesse just needs to figure out how to deliver that care to the stubborn vet without crossing a line — and losing his heart.

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Review: Hunter Frost’s new short story, The Courage to Heal, was a nice little Sunday read. It wasn’t perfect – I think it’s extremely difficult to write a perfect short story or novella – but it piqued my interest in the characters and the story, and kept me entertained. I mean, what’s not to like about a sexy doctor and a feisty, sexy vet?! (Disclaimer: Not trying to be glib. Our veteran has very real issues, which I’ll discuss more – but he was sexy. So there.)

Speaking of sexy…Dr. Jesse Okenah was suuuuper sexy. I loved the descriptions of him in the book; it was so easy to picture his striking Native American features and powerful build. He was also beautiful on the inside. Just a good, sweet soul. I loved how he instantly wanted to help Wade. He was clearly attracted to him, but attraction aside, Jesse was even more interested in getting Wade to see that he could get better, and encouraging some healthy changes in his life. Jesse also has experience working with vets, as well as his father having been a veteran, so he is the perfect person to have fallen into Wade’s life, at the perfect time.

Wade is in a very bad way when he meets Dr. Okenah. He is just going through the motions in his physical therapy, has completely given up on psychiatric therapy, hasn’t spoken to his parents in ages, and some days honestly wonders the point of going on. Jesse entering his life gives him the spark he needs to begin to fight again. Their chemistry is fantastic. They are very real together, and I love how completely at ease they seem with each other. They have some wonderfully fun moments that make believing in them and rooting for them easy.

I was introduced to Hunter Frost’s writing last year through her short Christmas story, An Angel in Eyeliner, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I still want more of those guys! It would be interesting to see what she could do with a longer format, but I will be looking forward to more of her work either way.

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Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Ansel of Pryor House by Hayden Thorne

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The Novel Approach welcomes Hayden Thorne today with an excerpt from her new Young Adult novel Ansel of Pryor House. Hayden’s also giving one reader the chance to win an e-copy of the book, so be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

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Ansel_of_Pryor_House_400x600Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Ansel Tunnicliffe has lived a harsh life. Abandoned by his mother and his siblings to a drunk and abusive father, Ansel knows nothing more than hunger, fear, pain, and loneliness in his short life.

One evening, a wealthy stranger appears, challenges Mr. Tunnicliffe to a game of cards, and easily wins. The prize? Ansel. The terrified boy is whisked away to a remote and mysterious house, whose stern and aristocratic mistress takes Ansel in for a purpose that remains elusive to him.

Little by little, however, Ansel discovers additional secrets in every magical room of Pryor House — secrets that are somehow linked to him and Miss Peveler’s strange interest in his welfare. One of those secrets also turns out to be a young boy who haunts Ansel’s lonely hours and who may very well hold the key to Ansel’s future and the shadowy history of Pryor House.

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Excerpt – From Chapter 4: Ansel was safely hidden in his assigned room, and he spent the next moment or so after being abandoned by Mrs. Finn crumbling under the aching mix of exhilaration and anxiety.

Mrs. Finn was nothing if not efficient as well as gruff in her displays of concern toward Ansel. After ushering him into his room, she proceeded to point out his bed, his wardrobe, his washstand, and even his windows. In his wardrobe a small collection of clean castoffs in excellent condition were neatly kept, and Ansel was nearly overcome with emotion at the thought that complete strangers had thought to spend money on him – a scruffy, half-starved, and illiterate nobody – with about a week’s worth of clothes. It was all he could do to nod, blink away the tears, and run a sleeve against his nose while avoiding Mrs. Finn’s grim, inquiring stare.

As per Mr. Farnham’s orders, he wasn’t expected to do much for the next two days beyond clean himself and appear before Miss Peveler if she demanded his presence.

One of my obsessions in writing revolves around houses. I enjoy exploring mysteries behind them through their physicality, their history, and architectural details. When a house becomes a focal point in a story, I want everything about it to matter, as though the structure itself were alive.

One of my obsessions in writing revolves around houses. I enjoy exploring mysteries behind them through their physicality, their history, and architectural details. When a house becomes a focal point in a story, I want everything about it to matter, as though the structure itself were alive.

“You’re free to explore the house, though you really shouldn’t expect to find much,” Mrs. Finn had said as she turned to march toward the door, her plump figure straight and stiff like a soldier, her steps measured and almost theatrical. She opened the door and stepped across the threshold, turning to face Ansel with her hand on the knob. “Mind that you don’t get lost, though. Most of the rooms aren’t used, but none of them are locked.”

Ansel thought he noted an air of melancholy regret in the housekeeper’s tone and expression. Perhaps in the distant past, Pryor House was a hive of activity, sound, and light. He could imagine it, anyway, as despite the great house’s somber, simple elegance, there was still that curious atmosphere of whimsy he’d felt upon entering the house earlier.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. “I’ll keep to the main rooms downstairs.”

Mrs. Finn nodded, a shadow of a smile briefly lighting her face before her usual stern mask returned. Once he was finally alone, Ansel’s brain went blank, and he sank onto his bed, gazing helplessly around the room – his room. It was a small one, but it was very cozy and a far, far cry from what he’d long been used to, living with his father. Even the furniture for servants was well made yet functional and worked beautifully with the house’s color scheme. Ansel almost felt filthy and was convinced he reeked of the gutter when his gaze swept down to rest on his soiled and threadbare rags. His shoes were a disgrace, even for someone as poor as he.

The library of Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill gothic house. I love exploring unique interiors of homes and make them more alive to the point of being integral characters to the plot.

The library of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill gothic house. I love exploring unique interiors of homes and make them more alive to the point of being integral characters to the plot.

He noticed his sack of clothes on the floor near the foot of the bed, and so many reminders, so many memories, and so many feelings associated with them surged to the forefront of his mind, and with a shaky breath, Ansel stood up and walked to one of the windows flanking his bed. Fumbling with the latches, he managed to open the window, pushing the two narrow casements outward and inviting a blast of chill air inside. He tried to breathe it in, hoping the fresh air and the cold would purge the wild swirl of emotions that now wrapped around him like a bitter shroud. But as it turned out, confusion, shame, terror, and, yes, loneliness all coalesced into one awful, dark cloud that swallowed him. Ansel had no choice but to give in to grief he’d been suppressing for a few days now while in Mr. Farnham’s company.

For several minutes he stood by the open window, crying, using his faded shirt as a handkerchief, barely noticing the winter scenery stretching out before him. For the briefest moment, he wished he were back home, enduring his father’s abuses, because that offered him familiarity and predictability despite the terrible pain. At least he knew what to expect day in and day out, and he was surrounded by things and people – neighbors, that is – he’d always known. He almost convinced himself that curling up on the floor, begging for his father to stop hitting him with a stick or a belt, was worth it as a price for the sight and the feel of his old bed and pillow, even if both were practically rotting to pieces under him.

Nature is a force meant to have a terrifying function in the story. She metes out dark justice to both living and dead. As noted in the book, she neither forgets nor forgives.

Nature is a force meant to have a terrifying function in the story. She metes out dark justice to both living and dead. As noted in the book, she neither forgets nor forgives.

Now? He’d “changed hands” over cards – like property, livestock, or chattel – and had no idea what his future held for him. There’d been kindness and generosity, to be sure, and a great deal of pity. He needed to give himself and everyone else more time to get to know each other, but it didn’t change how he was now alone in so many ways, much more than before. He felt so helpless, so powerless.

The tears ran out in time, and after calming himself down till his hiccoughs had been reduced to shuddering gasps, Ansel pulled the casements and turned the latches. His room now felt too cold, but he didn’t care. Sniffling, he shuffled over to his bed, where he undid his shoelaces, kicked off his shoes, and crawled under the covers. He turned to his side, burrowing further under the thick, comfortable blankets, but not before muttering an apology to the nice, clean sheets and pillows for being subjected to his filth. He fell asleep before long.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Iyana Jenna, JMS Books LLC, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Angel

Review: The Recording Room by Iyana Jenna

Title: The Recording Room

Author: Iyana Jenna

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 61 Pages

At a Glance: The Recording Room is a short story that had promise, but it needed cleaned up a bit.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Lucian Salvatore returns to Clover East after his grandmother calls him home to take care of the family’s recording studio. This is a welcome trip after the tragic loss of his boyfriend.

Nate Lockwood is the man who practically runs the Salvatore studio. He suspects he’s going to be replaced once Lucian comes home to take over the business. But Nate doesn’t plan on leaving Clover East so soon, at least not before he solves the mystery that’s the real reason he came to the small town in the first place.

Will Nate be able to discover what happened to his aunt who disappeared in Clover East so many years ago? What does her disappearance have to do with Lucian’s family … and the haunted recording room in the studio where they both work?

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Review: Iyana Jenna’s The Recording Room is a short story that had promise, and I did enjoy it, but I think it needs some cleaning up from an editing perspective. The writing was choppy and confusing in places, and it seemed to jump around quite a bit, but for all that, it was a complete story for the length, and despite these issues, the premise is interesting.

This story revolves around a kind of boss/subordinate insta-love affair, with several mysteries going on the background. I really enjoyed seeing how the author brought the clues of the mystery together. The ghost story was both chilling and sad. But, I felt some things were left out of the romance aspect of the book. Nate and Lucian were almost combative, then suddenly they were in love. They were there for one another at the end, though, and I liked that.

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2.5 Stars, Genre Romance, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sam Singer, Short Story

Review: Unspoken by Sam Singer

Title: Unspoken

Author:  Sam Singer

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 10 Pages

At a Glance: Super short story that felt a bit forced.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Kenneth and David from the best-selling stories Broken and Envy are back for another sensual glimpse into their D/s relationship.

Kenneth prides himself on being the best trained sub he can for his Dom. David returns home after a hard day of work and lavishes Kenneth with attention but does not allow Kenneth to serve him. Honored to receive his Dom’s attentions, he longs to speak the words of love overflowing within him, but without permission to speak, Kenneth must instead rely on a soundtrack of power ballads to say what he cannot as David brings him to the peak of sexual satisfaction.

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Review: I feel like I say this a lot, but full disclosure, I didn’t read the first two book with these characters, and while I think it may have been good to see the progression of Kenneth and David’s relationship, I understood what was happening just fine. Kenneth is a likeable sub, though he hardly talks during the story, and David seems like a good Dom. But given how short the story is—it’s pretty much a step above flash fiction—there isn’t too much development.

The story is told in the present tense, which for some readers might be jarring. I felt like I was in the scene with Kenneth and David, and it worked well enough for what the author was trying to portray. I’m not the biggest fan of third person present, but that’s just me.

That said, I did have one major issue with the story, aside from the perspective. Since it is so short, every single word should count, and it should be edited neatly for continuity. In longer novels, a change of clothing mid-scene might be missed by some readers, but when you’re only playing with 2,000 words, pointing out that David is wearing leather pants, and he only wears leather when he and Kenneth are about the play, sets the reader up. Then, in the next paragraph Kenneth fixates on how soft the denim feels against his bare skin…Well, it takes the reader out of the scene. I had to go back and check to see if he really had been wearing leather or not, and when I saw that he had been, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I would see a heavier BDSM scene, but that wasn’t the case.

While the story wasn’t bad, these are characters I will not likely visit again.

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4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Feral Sephrian, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: The Silk Dungeon by Feral Sephrian

Title: The Silk Dungeon

Author: Feral Sephrian

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 44 Pages

At a Glance: Short story with fun characters, silly dialogue, and hot sex.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: With the exception of a few wild nights at the club, Nick Loredon’s life is nothing but one boring day after another. When his friends finally convince him to try speed-dating to shake things up, he meets Victor, a film critic who brings some much-needed action into the mix.
However, as their relationship grows stronger, Victor reveals a secret hidden in the basement Nick didn’t even know was there: a BDSM sex dungeon. On top of that, the dungeon is where Victor used to host all-male orgies with his friends. At first Nick is horrified, then curious, then hooked as Victor shows him all the opportunities waiting down in the dungeon.

What begins as a shock quickly becomes routine, albeit one more exciting than Nick ever had. There is a frontier he has yet to cross, though, and asks Victor if his friends would come over for another orgy. Will their relationship survive the hedonistic afternoon, or will Nick discover he isn’t quite ready to be tied down?

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Review: Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this story, and in the end I was pleasantly surprised. While some of the initial dialogue felt forced, the story quickly found its pace, and I was thoroughly engaged. Nick and Victor are fun. They’ve been dating for a few months and read one of those love articles in a magazine for their relationship. One of the suggestions was to reveal desires to keep things interesting. Nick wants to be “interrogated” like in an action movie, and Victor…well, he has all the equipment for that in his hidden “dungeon.”

The book is divided into distinct parts. The first half of the story deals with Nick learning about Victor’s secret dungeon and coming to terms with what it means, and then exploring all of the possibilities it contains for the two of them. My favorite line occurs during this section, actually, and I laughed pretty hard. It’s right after Victor brings Nick down to the dungeon, and Nick is getting his first good look: “He had been looking for fun and excitement, but this was like wanting to curl up by a warm fire and accidentally falling into the sun.”

After time passes and they’ve tried just about everything, Nick wants to take it to the next level. He wants to experience an orgy like the ones Victor used to have in the dungeon. I wasn’t sure what to think about that part, but I ended up really enjoying it. The author made all of the characters distinct enough with their own personalities, and no one blended together. I really liked Peter and William the most, I think. And despite how sexy the scene was, there were funny moments, great dialogue, and some minor insecurities that briefly rose up, but are pushed away as their feelings are revealed. My second favorite line of the story came from Mike, after Victor and Nick declare their love for each other. They’re in the middle of this massive bed with all the other guys, and Mike says, “Victor, if you’re not kissing him right now, you’re doing it wrong.” Maybe it was just the situation, but it struck me as hysterical.

Overall, this was a good short story with some funny and sweet moments. There is BDSM in it; however, it’s fairly light compared to other stories I have read. If you’re looking for a short story to test the BDSM waters for the first time, like Nick, I don’t think you’d go wrong with this one!

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Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Sheridan Diggins and the Dead Horde by Hayden Thorne

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The Novel Approach welcomes Hayden Thorne today with an exclusive excerpt and giveaway of her new novella Sheridan Diggins and the Dead Horde, book one in an Adult Sci-Fi Romance Series from JMS Books.

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A1RdOx0RUFL._SL1500_Blurb: Book 1 of the Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles

The year is 8016, the planet, Cecilia, where questionable science and odd random events shape the daily lives of the descendants of colonists from Earth.

Twenty-one-year-old Sheridan Diggins flies a pre-owned clunker of an astro-cab for a living, struggling to survive. When his brother reminds him of a drunken promise he’s made to take him along in his astro-cab for a writing project, Sheridan doesn’t expect a humdrum day to turn into a nightmare involving a cursed space ship and corpses rising for a bit of mischief above ground.

Moreover, those undead creatures seem to be interested in no one else but Sheridan and Adley. Hungry and broke, Sheridan works to solve the bizarre mystery with the help of a trigger-happy teenage brother and a hapless tow ship owner. And what he uncovers is something neither questionable science nor bottomless pints of Owen’s Galactic Beer can prepare him for.

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Five more creatures were vaporized under the relentless spray of deadly purple lasers in the shape of hard-boiled breakfast. Sheridan turned around, grabbing hold of Adley’s arm, and dragged the boy along with him.

“Run!”

The two of them raced each other across the meadow. Of course, neither also knew where they were headed. As long as they got away from their rotting pursuers, they were good. Unfortunately it proved to be a damned sight more difficult than expected.

One of my inspiration sources for this novella series. I had loads of fun reading Adams' book and decided then to try my hand at writing a sci-fi comedy.

One of my inspiration sources for this novella series. I had loads of fun reading Adams’ book and decided then to try my hand at writing a sci-fi comedy.

Bodies kept popping out of the ground directly in their path, and Sheridan and Adley were forced to swerve or change directions completely. For those buggers that popped up from the ground at the last minute, Sheridan and Adley were compelled to leap over them, shrieking in horror and disgust because once liberated from the ground, those monstrosities reeked like no other, their fumes rising in thick pillars of utter vileness. Leaping over them forced one to breathe in the noxious cloud of rot. And for the first time ever, Sheridan was tearfully grateful for going about his day deprived of lunch.

“What the hell’s going on here?” he panted, glancing back over his shoulder a couple of times. Dead-undead things, having just liberated themselves from their burial sites, staggered to their feet and followed the two of them. None could run, thank the skies, but they were practically oozing out of every scrap of uninhabited land within twenty feet of him and Adley. “What? Do we smell or something? Pheromones? What?”

Adley just gasped beside him, his breathing loud and ragged. They eventually reached one end of the meadow, which was not much more than loose, dry soil and large, scattered stones. The ground rose, though, at a gradual incline, and the loose soil gave way to solid rock that offered a lot of hand and footholds. The two practically launched themselves against the rock and proceeded to race each other up the rough, difficult surface like colorful, oversized lizards.

I loved this sci-fi comedy series as a kid. This was probably the first sci-fi show or movie I watched that made fun of its genre. I realized then that sci-fi ain't all philosophically serious Star Trek.

I loved this sci-fi comedy series as a kid. This was probably the first sci-fi show or movie I watched that made fun of its genre. I realized then that sci-fi ain’t all philosophically serious Star Trek.

About a third of the way up, Sheridan was ready to roll over and die. He’d never been an active sort, and all this running surely would’ve taken care of his fitness for the rest of his life. He was drenched in sweat, and he could swear he was coming down with asthma. And his muscles were threatening to lock up from the extreme shock of moving them so much in such a short amount of time.

Once he felt they were relatively safe – because how many freshly risen corpses could realistically scale the rocky hillside like veteran mountaineers? – he found a good, secure foothold on a small ledge. Gingerly turning around and making sure to keep a firm hold of the rock face with one hand, he pulled out his pistol from his jacket, fired it up, and looked down.

Yes, those corpses were trying to follow them up the hillside to varying degrees of success, comical and otherwise. Since none of them were fully intact the way a live human or humanoid was intact, body parts – particularly fingers – kept tearing off, leaving them quite helpless. Sheridan sighed, shutting off his weapon. Finally, some good luck.

Despite its flaws, 'Guardians of the Galaxy' was great entertainment. I saw this film a few months after reading Adams' novel, and the inspiration to write a sci-fi comedy surged to crazy heights.

Despite its flaws, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was great entertainment. I saw this film a few months after reading Adams’ novel, and the inspiration to write a sci-fi comedy surged to crazy heights.

From the looks of things, those monsters were mindlessly determined to climb, which meant wearing down what was left of their extremities till dusty stumps were all they had. Even then, Sheridan suspected they’d continue to fight against overwhelming odds so they’d have nothing more than heads and torsos to go by after half an hour of this. A couple had reached the point of no return, in fact, and had no other choice but to look up and regard Sheridan with looks of dull-witted confusion. There were others that managed to get a little farther ahead but eventually had their overworked appendages shred and tumble down the slope in disgusting little avalanches. For those, there’d be a half-second of what passed for amazement before they’d either slide back down the hill or tumble down, sometimes bumping into less fortunate comrades and taking those along with them. Here and there, what appeared to be dust clouds made of dried skin, fabric, and tissue rose up as hurtling dead undead things landed at the bottom of the hill. Sheridan could even hear an occasional “whump!” from where he was, still clinging to the rock.

And for the briefest, maddest moment, Sheridan actually felt a certain melancholy connection with his pursuers. There was something rather heartbreaking at the sight of a determined yet ultimately doomed attempt at reaching a goal. Talk about the most bizarre kind of metaphor, he noted, shaking his head sadly.

This is movie I never got to see, but I'm about to fix that oversight. Thank you, Netflix.

This is movie I never got to see, but I’m about to fix that oversight. Thank you, Netflix.

“I feel for you, guys,” he muttered. “I do, really.”

Of course, these mini-tragedies meant being left with the fresher corpses, but at least those were only a small portion of a pretty diverse group of shamblers. Sheridan spotted at least two that managed to avoid getting pinged by their rotting counterparts, and those were steadily making their way up the hill. True, they were slow and rather clumsy, barely holding on to the rock because their dead brains and non-functioning senses failed to direct them accordingly, but it’d be a mistake underestimating them. At least they’d be easy to vaporize when the time came, and that was some comfort. With a tired sigh, Sheridan turned around and continued to climb, following Adley as the boy all but clawed his way frantically to the top, still whimpering in terror.

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4 Stars, Edward Kendrick, Genre Romance, JMS Books LLC, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Janet

Review: Wrong Side of the Law by Edward Kendrick

Title: Wrong Side of the Law

Author: Edward Kendrick

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 201 Pages

At a Glance: A very good read, indeed

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Undercover cop Dan Hudson is framed for blackmail and kicked off the NOPD force. Enraged about that, and the fact that his lover refuses to stand by him, Dan moves to Denver, where he becomes Dirk Steele. He finds a job working for the Powells, who are pawnbrokers … and fences.

When he proposes to them than he put together a team to steal on demand for the Powells’ less than legitimate clients, a deal is struck and the team is formed. The team consists of Maverick, a thief; Tripp, a street kid who shoplifts to survive; and Fey, another street kid who is an excellent pickpocket and petty thief.

Now the question becomes, will the team succeed? And, equally important, will the attraction between Dirk, who has sworn off love, and Maverick — whose credo is only down and dirty sex — grow into something more? Or will they remain just ‘friends with benefits’?

Time will tell as the team takes on increasingly difficult jobs and a man from Dirk’s past shows up who could possibly throw a monkey wrench into the works.

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Review: One of the facets of Edward Kendrick’s books that I enjoy immensely is his world building skills. In this story we meet dirk, a man was is disenchanted with his life and who wants to start all over. We watch as he moves across states and finds another city to live in, and watch him figure out how to make a living there. When that takes Dirk to the wrong side of the law, we are sympathetic towards him due to his past and his poor handling of the law prior. It is a very different take on starting over and is proof of Kendrick’s skill when he makes it so believable and draws us further into the story.

The characters that surround Dirk are selected with care. We see the possibilities as he does, and as they come together to form a crew, we can see that Dirk has built a family of sorts to grow with. The romance that develops between Dirk and Maverick does so slowly, allowing trust to be established between them, as they have both been betrayed before.

The first half of the book is Dirk reflecting back on the previous two years since he started over. The story moves to the present with the introduction of Al Galvez, a figure from Dirk’s past. The entire pace of the story increases with the shift in focus, and I found myself more engaged with the characters as a result. The threat that Al represents creates anxiety, and the response from the characters keeps the pages turning quickly. When they all decide to relocate it doesn’t feel like running, rather protecting their family and their future. This was a truly fascinating glimpse into the lives of a bunch of characters on the wrong side of the law that didn’t feel like the wrong side at all. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Dirk and Maverick grow into their HEA, and also seeing the hope they had for their future. The true strength of the book comes from the reality that Kendrick builds of the life of a thief. The tricks of the trade that he walks us through, how to research your target and how to use all the tools the characters will need, are described in such a realistic manner that you simply believe the world of the book. Dirk has the background as an undercover police officer to make this foray believable and that makes all the difference in this book. A very good read, indeed.






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Giveaways, Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Twilight Gods by Hayden Thorne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m not afraid. Not yet.

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

I will. I know I will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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presentThe Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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4 Stars, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Rena, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story, T.A. Creech

Review: Slither by T.A. Creech

Title: Slither

Author: T.A. Creech

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 17 Pages

At a Glance: A pretty classic sci-fi plot that can be traced back all the way to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Blurb: War awaits on Ilmare, between the humans and the constructs they created. Considered flawed designs by their creators, Selati and his other sentient comrades live the life of refugees on the run, hiding and fighting in Ilmare’s vast jungles. They want only the freedom to pursue their newly awakened sentience away from human interference.

Aleledai taught Selati all he knows of a life without chains and suffering. Neither can know what tomorrow will bring, rather all too well what it could take from them both. On the cusp of war, Selati returns to his lover to spend one last night in the peaceful world that only exists in Aleledai’s arms.

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Review: “Slither”, at a little over 5,000 words, is a short story that effectively makes use of two events – one very public and overarching, the other, an intimate moment between a married couple – in order to provide us with a story that’s not quite complete on the surface but leaves an emotional resonance at the end. By and large, it’s not much more than a vignette, and short stories can easily be botched up when an author attempts to cram too much into such a small word count. What works in this case is the fact that T.A. Creech has chosen to highlight the backstory as well as the sex scene as a way of establishing the emotional context of Selati and Aleledai’s night together before a great battle. And rather than spoonfeed readers one scene following another, we’re encouraged to connect the dots, stretch our imaginations further, and emotionally connect with not just the couple, but also their race.

The story has a pretty classic sci-fi plot that can be traced back all the way to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Here we have instead humans who defy Nature and create a race meant for nothing else but hard labor. Moral issues arise when the constructs slowly evolve and develop sentience, and like Frankenstein’s monster, they rebel against their creators and abusers. A lot of books and movies have been done along those lines. For “Slither”, things are scaled down further (no pun intended on the “scale” reference), and we’re shown something more like a microcosm that focuses strictly on Selati and Aleledai’s lives together as a married pair of “unnaturals”.

The backstory is told in a somewhat lengthy summary at the start, and it provides a backdrop against which the couple enjoy a night together before the battle. It’s a sharp and somewhat harsh contrast, and it’s because of that we’re made to see just how unfair it all is. The story doesn’t give us any answers, but with the melancholy fatalism that pervades every scene, it’s really not necessary in the end. We only need to see how awful it is for the constructs to live the way they do, and for the story to end the way it does allows us not only to feel deeply for them, but also hold on to the hope that good fortune can still go their way.






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5 Stars, Barbara Sheridan, Historical Romance, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Rena

Review: Most Wanted by Barbara Sheridan

Title: Most Wanted

Author: Barbara Sheridan

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 47 Pages

At a Glance: A prime example of a complete short piece

Blurb: Boston born and bred Tim Dwyer doesn’t relish the thought of giving up Eastern comforts for life in the rough-and-tumble West. But when he finds himself with no job, little money, and no place else to go, he accepts a position at his cousin’s weekly newspaper in the Indian Territory. When his cousin and new editor cook up a roving reporter assignment, Tim learns that spending a mere week in the life of U.S. Deputy Marshal Jon Sauvage won’t ever be enough to satisfy his needs.

Choctaw lawman “Savage Jon” Sauvage has spent his entire adult life content with chasing wanted men and taking his pleasures wherever and however he can. But once he’s roped into letting a big city reporter tag along with him on a manhunt, Jon soon suspects that Tim Dwyer might just capture his heart.

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Review: Barbara Sheridan’s Most Wanted is a prime example of a complete short piece without any cramming of unnecessary information or the sacrifice of a plot by a too-lengthy sex scene (or more). At 15,000 words, it’s a novelette that works like a mini-novel, providing us with a great backstory for both Tim and Jon, accidental meetings whose sexual tensions spiral, a first-hand view of the dangers of law enforcement in Indian Territory, and the eventual coming together of two men who risk a good deal for their happiness.

While I’ve referred to overly used tropes in previous reviews, I really don’t mind them so long as the author gives us a different spin on them. In this case, while Tim and Jon are classic yin and yang romance heroes, each man is at least given distinctive qualities that keep them from disappearing against hundreds of other yin and yang couples who’ve been written before. Tim perhaps hews the most closely to the familiar as the wide-eyed ingenue type (albeit male), the naïve city boy who finds himself in over his head when he ventures into uncharted territory. But while he’s uncertain and somewhat shy, he’s definitely no pushover, though at the same time gets his way without resorting to a sudden switch to hypermasculinity. One can’t help but feel both sympathetic and yet amused when he ultimately bows to the authority of the law because he really is a fish out of water and is practically flopping around despite his insistence at getting what he wants as a newbie reporter.

Jon, on the other hand, is the hardened lawman who barely manages to keep his secret safe while living off what he could in the exercise of his duties. It’s a harsh and lonely existence he faces day in and day out, the constant fear of discovery hanging over his head with his reputation as a perpetual bachelor. At the same time, he’s not the quintessential embittered alpha male who roughly pushes people away, particularly those he finds himself genuinely attracted to. There’s a softness in him that lets itself be shown whenever his guard’s down, and it’s so refreshing to see this kind of characterization for someone with very dominant traits like his. While hardened, he’s never unemotional, cold, or even cruel. He’s in every way a sympathetic character, which melds quite nicely with Tim’s whenever they find themselves alone together.

The ending’s quite beautiful as well – poignant without being overly sentimental and realistic without resorting to tragedy. It is a romance, so we know what to expect, and Sheridan gives us exactly that but with a nice, non-melodramatic reminder of the historical context and the unfair secrecy that gay lovers are forced to resort to. If I were to wax poetic about the final scenes, I’d say that I’d never before expected the coming together of love, art, and a simple campfire to be so mystical.






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Giveaways, Jeff Adams, JMS Books LLC

Guest Post and Giveaway: Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp by Jeff Adams

Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp

Summer Time Inspiration for Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp

Thanks, Lisa, for having me over to talk about the latest in the Hat Trick series. I hope everyone takes a moment to say hello in the comments. I’ll stop back over periodically during the next couple days to answer any questions that may come up.

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

Since the Hat Trick series involves hockey players, it’s probably not a surprise the stories are primarily set in the fall and winter months. Periodically readers have heard mention of things Simon and Alex either planned to do over the summer, or actually did over the summer. But until Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp, readers haven’t gotten the first hand look at the boys during summer. This new short story installment of the series takes place at the start of summer between their junior and senior years in college.

The initial inspiration to place a story in the summer came as I caught a bit of High School Musical 2 on Disney Channel late last summer, shortly after Hat Trick 2 came out. HSM aficionados know that part two sends the East High gang off to work for the summer at a country club, while the other two movies take place during the school year. I decided it would be fun to get Simon and Alex out of school and send them off for some summer fun. Previously, there’s been mention of them going camping and so a summer camp seemed a great place for them to spend time. Of course, I didn’t let them get too far away from hockey.

This camp, which I’ll admit right off doesn’t exist, was an ideal place for them. They love hockey. They like working with teens, which of course is Simon’s field of study as he pursues his social work degree. The time at camp also gives them the chance to hang out with each a lot since they’re working together the entire time. For this summer trip, they even got to invite best friend Leo along, which was a great bonus since they don’t get to see him very much.

Summer Camp was a super fun story to write since it took the boys somewhere new. To have them coaching the team as well as stealing a few moments with each other was a blast. Frankly, the whole camp setting was cool and made me wish a place like it actually existed. I know of plenty of hockey camps, but not one nestled in the woods like this one (I figure it doesn’t exist for good reason since it would likely cost a small fortune to operate the rinks in the setting I used.)

Simon and Alex also realize this is likely the last summer that will be like this. With graduation on the horizon, they know that soon enough life will be about jobs and grad school and an increasing amount of adult things. So they live it up here, working in the sport they love, helping teens get better at it… oh, and they do celebrate Alex’s birthday with a bit of fun. I suppose I should’ve thrown in a musical number since HSM2 was my initial inspiration for the story, but that might be over the top.

Next up in the world of Hat Trick is Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot, which will arrive this summer with a focus on senior year and what lies beyond. In the meantime, I’ve got an excerpt here that showcases the fun Simon and Alex have at summer camp.

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HT_SummerCamp_400x600BLURB: Simon and Alex, now between their junior and senior years at The University of Michigan, decide to put their jobs on hold for a month and take the opportunity to coach hockey at a summer camp for teenagers.

They’ve got a cabin full of good players to work with and the focus is to get them ready to win the camp championship. One camper, sixteen-year-old Dylan, requests extra help because he needs to get a scholarship and the guys make it their mission to help him succeed.

With their best friend Leo along for the trip, Simon and Alex are setup for a great time at camp, until another coach tries to seduce them. How they respond to the unwanted advances, while  balancing commitments to their campers, will test them both.

BUY LINKS: JMS BOOKS | Amazon

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EXCERPT: Everyone had voted to hang out, swim, relax and take in some early evening sun. I was in the water with a number of our guys playing Frisbee. It was a beautiful afternoon. The clear water cooled provided a nice contrast to the warmth in the air. It would’ve been nice just to float on the surface, but it was fun playing something besides hockey with the guys too.

Alex relaxed on shore talking with some other coaches and campers.  As I admired the evening sun shimmering on his bare chest, the Frisbee sailed right past me. It was a good thing we didn’t play hockey with any skin exposed, I’d never do anything right.

“Sorry,” I said, scooping the disc out of the water and throwing it back into play.

“You know, you’re always telling us to focus,” said Roger, one of our goalies, as he made a catch. “That wasn’t a very good example.”

“You see him undressed all the time, you know,” Ty chimed in. “You don’t have to stare right now.”

“Don’t give him a hard time,” Dylan said. “If my girlfriend were sitting up there with a bikini on, I’d sure be staring at her rather than playing some silly game.”

Just as Dylan finished talking, I made a sneaky interception off of one of his teammates. “How’s that for focus?” I raised the Frisbee in the air triumphantly before sending it soaring over everyone to someone on my team.

“Show off,” Ty said.

We played until the guys were worn out, which was still a couple hours before lights out. I was surprised they lasted that long after playing three intense games. Alex and I hung out behind the group as we made our way back to the cabin.

“You know, you need to not look so hot all the time. I got called out for a lack of focus because I was paying to much attention too you.”

“Ha,” he said, with a wicked grin. “You should be able to ignore me when you need to.”

I laughed. “Not possible.”

Most of the guys hit the showers after being in the lake, while others, including Dylan, used a ball to work on passing in front of the cabin. Alex headed for the showers, too, so that one of us would here the cabin started its evening rituals. Someone played music inside, but not so loud as to bother anyone.

I sat on the stairs watching the passing game, coaching and offering tips as needed. I fought the urge to join them. Alex and I played with them sometimes in our end-of-day scrimmages but mostly we wanted them to work with each other, and just take tips from us. I allowed myself to stretch out on the stairs, watch the game and enjoy watching evening desend on the camp.

Dylan was looking good passing with his cabinmates. His face would occasionally cloud over when he did something he knew wasn’t quite right. I saw it in the game earlier, too. He wasn’t verbalizing as much when he was frustrated with himself. It seemed more internal now.

The line at the shower cabin got shorter as most of our guys returned. Alex came back from the staff facility as well. The boys passing out front took their cue from the returning traffic that they needed to get a move on if they wanted to wash the lake off. Alex sat on the stairs next to me, fully dressed in t-shirt, shorts and sandals, but still running a towel through his hair. We sat quiet for a while, watching the traffic go by, often waving at people.

Dividers

Jeff_headshot-400x600BIO: Jeff Adams caught the writing bug in middle school and finally became a novelist with the Hat Trick series. He’s currently working on the final novel in the series, Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot, which is due out this summer. He’s also written a number of m/m romance shorts, including the recent re-release of Rivals. Jeff and his husband, Will, live in the peaceful, coastal beauty of Humboldt County, California. He also covers the Detroit Red Wings, as well reviews books that feature LGBT hockey players, for PuckBuddys.com. To learn more about Jeff, visit jeffadamswrites.com and follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc. You can also sign up to receive email updates from Jeff (no more than two per month) at http://eepurl.com/7TJC9.

Find Jeff at: Website | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

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3 Stars, JMS Books LLC, Lynn Townsend, Reviewed by Rena, Steampunk

Review: London Steam by Lynn Townsend

Title: London Steam

Author: Lynn Townsend

Publisher: JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 99 Pages

At a Glance: Two loosely related novellas and a surprise M/F ending in the second, make for an overall uneven read

Blurb: In a reimagined 1890’s London, where steam-driven airships rule the skies and monsters roam the streets, the Galileo Observatory’s Club for Gentlemen welcomes all — gwr, shape-changers, vampires, and lords. A high-stakes game leads more than a few men astray.

Poindexter Fitzhughes, renowned hero and scientist, learns just how much trouble a full-blooded gwr can be when he attempts to cure his lover, Lord Seth Maitland, of the disease. But when their backs are against the wall, the two must learn to trust in each other, and more importantly, in their true natures, to prevail.

Meanwhile, Duncan Farnsworth discovers being a vampire has not improved his social life, his chances of finding love, continuing the family line, or getting a bite to eat. Maneuvering his way around a sarcastic butler, his spinster sister, a run-in with an amorous werewolf, and a confrontation with a dead soldier and a French airship captain, Duncan finally finds exactly what he is thirsting for.

Dividers

Review: London Steam is actually two lightly connected, short novellas in one book. I say lightly because the main couple in the first novella make a cameo appearance in the second, but the plots diverge completely. Moreover, the first novella is clearly M/M, while the second is M/F/M with the M/F elements pretty much overriding everything else. More on that in a bit.

The first novella focuses on Dex and Seth, both of whom have fantastic – albeit tragic – histories that define their lives in pretty unpleasant ways. Dex was attacked by a gwr he was trying to save and consequently walks around with one blind eye and horrible scars on half of his face. Since this is steampunk London, he’s able to make himself a half-mask with its own artificial eye in order to function in society. Seth, on the other hand, is turned into a gwr in a moment that’s uncomfortably non-con. In brief, both men are forever reminded of their pasts, and when they meet, it’s a blessing for both since they can at least find comfort in each other, as well as use what influence they have together to help bring about social changes where non-humans are concerned.

The plot moves at a pretty brisk pace. The coming together of the two – emotionally, that is – happens off-screen following their initial coupling. But that’s not the point of the story, and I’m glad we’re not forced through romantic tangents at the expense of the main conflict. That said, the briskness of the pacing also applies to the conflict in some places that left me wishing for more. The climax scene is more evenly paced, and we get to see a pretty bloody battle from start to finish. The denouement, however, is largely summarized, with events whizzing past that, to me, somewhat diminishes Dex and Seth’s predicament and even the gwr community’s. Considering the long, angst-and-danger-filled buildup leading to the climax, the conclusion felt like a bit of a letdown.

The second novella was a little more problematic to me on a technical and personal level. On the personal side, I was somewhat blindsided by the M/F/M, and I confess to not being a fan of ménage – of any stripe. When I read the book blurb initially, I didn’t see any indications of ménages anywhere and so didn’t expect it to be a part of the story, let alone a significant one. It is a personal bias, however, and anyone who shares it might need to keep this in mind. For those who enjoy both M/M and M/F/M, you’ll find a nice diverse spectrum of relationships from cover to cover with this book.

The technical problem is a curious one. While it’s part of the same book, the second novella is less polished than the first in the sense that I found a number of typos throughout the story, while the first one didn’t have any. A couple would’ve been fine, but seeing more than that can be a distraction after a while.

While the entire book ended up being a pretty uneven read for me, I was glad I took it on, and I loved the setting. There are a number of original touches in the way steampunk London was fleshed out, which really added to the dynamic quality of the plot and character relationships.






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