4.5 Stars, Holiday Romance, Kenzie Cade, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Reindeer Games by Kenzie Cade

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Reindeer Games

Author: Kenzie Cade

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 68 Pages

At a Glance: If you are looking for a nice little story filled with Christmas cheer and sexy men, then definitely take a chance on Reindeer Games.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Dashing von Stride has one thing on his mind: winning the window display contest for the Miracle on Main Christmas Contest. His plans are set and ready—and then he walks into his toy store, Reindeer Games, to find a sleigh that shouldn’t be there. The mystery sleigh sparks a new plan, however, and now all Dash needs is the perfect Santa to model his display after.

This year, the pranks with his reindeer have gotten out of hand. Instead of preparing for the Big Day, Niklaus Kringle is hunting for his missing sleigh. Locating it should have been easy, but games easily won are seldom worth playing…

Dividers

Review: Cute, sweet, lighthearted: any and all of these words could be used to describe author Kenzie Cade’s Christmas offering, Reindeer Games. If you are looking for a well written bit of fluff to take your mind off the holiday and its mad rush, look no further. This little story is the perfect ticket to some much needed getaway time from reality.

Cleverly based on the idea that Santa has children and that elves are the magic that is Christmas, the story begins with the reindeer having played a trick on Nik Kringle by hiding his sleigh right before the “big day”. Found by a toy store owner who turns out to have a little magic of his own, Dashing von Stride (Dash) discovers the sleigh standing in his display room and immediately uses it as the inspiration for the window decorating contest held annually in the small town of (wait for it) Wassail. I was laughing so hard at these fantastic names and the tongue-in-cheek humor the author obviously used when coming up with them.

When Nik and Dash meet, there is an immediate sense of rightness—of everything finally falling into place for both of these fellows. Once Dash is clued in to exactly who Nik is and why he is in town, the story moves swiftly to an immediate and delightful happy ending.

Pure fun and a sexy happy-ever-after is what this novella is all about. Nik and Dash could not be more perfect for each other, or sweeter, and did I mention hot? But honestly, there was little to criticize in this story simply because you can sense the pure delight the author took in crafting this holiday offering. The two main characters sensed their immediate bond, and wasted no time in exploring exactly what that meant. The mischievous and aerodynamically correct reindeer only added to the fun. Perhaps the only criticism I might have is that the smarmy and nasty shopkeeper who always seemed to take first place in the window contest was under utilized in this story. I felt like a slight tussle with him, one that might have threatened Nik and Dash getting to know one another, would have spiced up the story a bit. However, that was more a matter of my personal taste than a real fault in the story.

If you are looking for a nice little story filled with Christmas cheer and sexy men, then definitely take a chance on Reindeer Games by Kenzie Cade.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Reindeer Games here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
3 Stars, A.V. Sanders, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules, Short Story

Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion by A.V. Sanders

Title: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion

Author: A.V. Sanders

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 11000 Words

At a Glance: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Beckett works at a coffee shop to make ends meet while attending a prestigious university. It’s not the most exciting job, but he’s done it long enough he’s good at it—and can avoid the tedium by spinning sexy little daydreams of things he doubts will ever happen.

Daydreams that soon include Simon, the hot, handsome, and older freelance writer who stops in one day. But then Simon becomes a regular, a bright spot more interesting than the inside of Beckett’s head, and daydreams start to seem like they could be something far more tangible—if reality doesn’t get in the way first.

Dividers

Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is charming at times, especially in the beginning, and Beckett and Simon really are pretty adorable, but it was also frustrating at times because I felt like, as a story, it had so much potential that was just not able to be fulfilled due to the length. I’m not sure if this was a submission call from the publisher that only allowed for so many words, but I truly wish that A.V. Sanders had been able to give Beckett and Simon more time.

This story ticked several of my boxes…college student, southern boy, May/December romance, etc., and, as I said above, the main characters were pretty adorable. Beckett lets Simon know, via subtle, or sometimes not-so-subtle, interactions at the coffee shop that he is interested. And when Simon is free to act on those advances – he does go through a breakup in the story – he asks Beckett out on a date. I really enjoyed the date scene; it was imaginative and lovely to read. We don’t get to see much in the way of ‘spark’ between the guys, but we see enough to know they have an attraction and a nice connection.

Things start to go awry when it becomes clear that there just isn’t going to be enough backstory to have everything make sense. There is a fight where Simon becomes extremely jealous and angry at Beckett because he is meeting his professor for dinner. Simon’s reaction seems out-of-character; however, we don’t know enough about his story with his ex, and we don’t know enough about Beckett’s professor or his intentions, to truly make everything click. The couple goes to New Orleans, Beckett’s home town, to see his family, but the scene is quite awkward because it’s just not fleshed out enough. That whole bit was so rushed, as was the entire end.

Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential. Unfortunately it simply felt too rushed and too short. Perhaps the author can show them some more love in an expanded novella? I bet many readers would love to see Beckett and Simon get the shot they deserve.

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

You can buy Percolation, Poetry, and Passion here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
4 Stars, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Keep the Stars Running – An Anthology from Less Than Three Press

Title: Keep the Stars Running

Author: Various

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 419 Pages

At a Glance: A diverse anthology with great stories and even greater characters.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Space is not always filled with adventures and glory. Not everybody goes racing off to battle evil and save the galaxy. Between the rebels, pirates, royals, and spies are the everyday people who work hard just to get by and ensure everyone gets home safe. Less Than Three Press presents a collection of tales about the ordinary folks who keep the stars running.

The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce
The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander
About a Bot by Andrea Speed
Flight Risk by Talya Andor
Survival by Leona Carver

Dividers

Review: I greatly appreciate the scope of this project. Though at times it dragged, the focus behind this anthology is unique and was a pleasure to read because it focused on the lesser known aspects of space adventures. As the blurb states, it’s not always filled with adventures and glory, and very often those behind the scenes are unrecognized. In this anthology, however, the mechanics and other personnel get to truly shine.

It’s difficult reviewing an anthology as a whole because of the individual stories it contains, but I will do this review in two parts. First, each story as an individual, and then the anthology as a whole. Because there are only five stories in this anthology, reviewing each one isn’t too difficult, even if they could—and sometimes should¬—have been published on their own. I am presenting the stories in the order that they are published in the book. Also, please forgive my poor descriptions of the stories. I tried to write short blurbs for them, but failed a bit.

The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce

Jasno Erys is a foodsynth repair technician. When he is called to the suite of Prince Darex, he expects to get his job done and move on, but that’s not to be the case. When kidnappers enter the suite and find only Jasno, they mistake him for the prince and take him to their client. Of course, the client realizes he isn’t the prince, but Jasno manages to find himself in a position he’d always dreamed of—creating new foodsynth items and becoming a chef.

I rather liked this story. Of course, it has some elements where you need to suspend belief (just look at the title), but it was a fun story and I felt for Jasno. He’s stuck in a position he excels at, but his superiors won’t let him test his creativity. That’s just beyond the scope of his position. While he can fix the foodsynth machines, he can also create new recipes that actually taste like something. And Prince Tergus is not all he appears to be either. He’s a desperate man in love, who realizes almost too late that what he really wants wasn’t what he initially thought.
As a start to an anthology, I thought this story was perfect. It kept me engaged and really set the pace. I appreciated Jasno’s position as a foodsynth repairman-turned-chef (think of a Star Trek replicator for food only). It’s not something one would usually think of for a science fiction story, but hey, those things are going to break down at some time, right? It’s a dirty, tedious job, but someone has to do it.

In terms of the length, this story took up 18% of the book (according to my Kindle), which was a decent length for a shorter novella. Given that they are five stories, I thought it was the perfect length.

About a Bot by Andrea Speed.

Tahir is the Chief Maintenance Officer of a space station, though he refers to himself as the head janitor. His job is rather monotonous, as he is the only flesh and blood member of his staff. The rest consists of various robots. His task is to make sure they perform up to their standards and tinker with them when they’re taken offline to be replaced. When a new station decides to do a report on the people “behind the scenes,” Tahir is chosen and runs into his former crush, Jorian. But, unbeknownst to them, they’re about to contend with an alien enemy that humanity can barely stand up against.

This was my favorite story in the book for one reason, and I have just two words: Bagel bot.

Andrea Speed has such a unique sense of humor, and that is entirely on display in this story. Tahir has “pets” from robots no longer needed, and one of them is the aptly named Bagel bot who is shaped like, well, a bagel. There are others, but there was something just so endearing about her that made the story, even when I was wondering if mankind was about to be destroyed.

Tahir and Jorian have good chemistry, and when the enemy targets the space station, Tahir’s quick thinking and bumbling manages to buy them more time. Sadly, this story is short, and I really wanted more. I could easily see this turned into a full novel, and if I could, I would demand it. In terms of length, it’s the shortest at just 12% of the book. It ended far too soon.

The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander

Aliens and mining gone wrong. Conspiracies. Long lost loves. I don’t really know how else to describe this.

My second favorite story in this anthology because ALIENS. There’s something just so awesome about reading tales of alien species. Regin and Makari are great characters. I found Regin amusing, partially because of his small amount of feline DNA and how they drugged him with catnip to interrogate him, and Makari for his protective instincts concerning Regin, whom he loves and considers his mate, despite their years of separation.

At 20% of the book, this is a sizeable and well-paced story that starts with an interrogation and follows Regin, Makari, and friends to discover the possible conspiracy with the mining company. Add in a robot named Danny, who thinks he is James Bond, and, well, you have some great entertainment. Regin and Makari made me swoon, and Danny made me laugh. All of which make a great combination. The book is packed with action right until the end, and I really hoped for a good outcome for the boys since they had been torn apart years before.

Flight Risk by Talya Andor

Kiel is a hearing impaired mechanic who works on Gryphon Gears on a planet with limited water resources. He prefers to work on the gears, keeps his head down, and keep to himself, away from the pilots who like to torment him and the other mechanics. When Marco transfers in and is assigned to Bravo team, he doesn’t leave Kiel alone, even though it’s just what Kiel wants. Or is it? When a possible security breach and treason threatens their safety, it’s up to Marco and Kiel to save everyone at the base.

For me, initially, this story dragged. While I enjoyed Kiel and learning about what made him tick, and enjoyed watching Marco try to get Kiel into bed, I often put the book down. It’s only about 22% of the book, but it seemed a lot longer. At the end, however, the action picked up and I couldn’t put down the story. There were a few things that bothered me, such as the outright nastiness in Bravo team’s personalities, especially given what they were trying to do. It seemed contradictory, but I didn’t notice until after I finished the story. I liked Marco and Kiel, but they were the only characters who really got to shine, and I would have liked some other supporting characters who had more screen time.

Survival by Leona Carver

Valentin Mashir was supposed to be a colonist put in cryo for a trip to a new planet, but he’s been upgraded to work in one of the botanical labs and is given a crash course before the trip is underway. After a harrowing experience being put into cryo, Valentin is rudely awakened seventy years early, when the ship sensors detect problems with the plant life in the park. Along with a skeleton crew, they’ll have to get the park back under control and figure out what’s going on, or destroy the park to save the ship.

I don’t even know where to go with this review. The story starts going in one direction, and I’m like, oh, cool, this is nice. And then I think I know what’s going to happen, but the author does a 90 degree turn into the realm of mythology, and I’m staring at the book like, what… the heck just happened? It’s not bad, per se, I rather enjoyed it, but it took an interesting route that I did NOT expect.

This story has very little romance. There’s sex, yes, two men blowing off steam, but that’s it. I wanted romance, but didn’t get it. Fyodor is an intriguing character as a genetically engineered being, and I rather liked his cocky attitude. Valentin is a human who is used to the slums of earth, but he loves the trees he helped plant and wants to work with them.

I really can’t give away too much without ruining the story, but I will say that after being rudely woken from his cryo sleep, Valentin and the group discover something has caused the park to grow exponentially fast, and the roots have spread and are interfering with the ship. While the story is long, the longest in the book, it read pretty quickly.

As an entire anthology, I liked Keep the Stars Running for several reasons. First, the obvious: it goes behind the scenes and really looks at the various people who form support staff. I like that they are given their moments to shine. Some end up saving lives, others don’t, but they all do their jobs well. Second is the diversity. While yes, they all have gay characters, they are also a diverse cast. There are several people of color, and I’m not talking about the alien species encountered, but humans. I loved that. Too often people of color are left out of science fiction, and I think that hurts the genre. Finally, most of the stories have characters with disabilities. They were injured in one way or another, but that doesn’t stop them from working. Some have cybernetic implants to help them, others have had new limbs attached that aren’t quite up to the task. In the case of Kiel, he and the other mechanics have lost their hearing due to the nature of their jobs. The authors really went above and beyond to show that there is no cookie cutter mold for a hero, and they created an incredibly diverse cast within their respective stories. For that I commend them and the publisher.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I only hope there are more anthologies like this one in the works, because I now have a soft spot for mechanics.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Keep the Stars Running here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
Giveaways, Less Than Three Press, Lexi Ander

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Surrounded by Crimson Blog Tour with Lexi Ander

Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author Lexi Ander back today, on the Surrounded by Crimson blog tour.

Since the color red is referenced in the title of the book, I asked Lexi if she’d like to chat about symbolism, what the color represents in the story, and if the symbolism was intentional or synchronstic.

Enjoy what she has to say on the subject, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win one of the following prizes:

  1. $20 Amazon Gift card, $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  2. $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  3. hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  4. e-book copy of Surrounded by Crimson
  5. e-book copy of Surrounded by Crimson

Good luck!

Dividers

Lexi: Do I include different symbolic elements into the story? Ah… yes and no. I don’t usually use symbolism on purpose. Most of the time it’s accidental and I have a moment where I think, “Hey, that would fit like a beaut!” Sometimes I insert symbols of the culture that I’m writing about. But… when I sat down to pen Surrounded by Crimson, I did intend to us the some symbolism for the color red.

Red is powerful and invokes a wide range of emotional responses in people that goes from the sexy side of passion, seduction, and love to the negative reactions of violence and anger. With prehistoric people, the color was associated with the primal forces of fire and blood.

When I was writing Dreams of the Forgotten, I was also reading The Rise and Fall of Babylon. There was a description of a burial site that predated Babylonia. At the excavation of Uruk, there was a list of items found along with an explanation of red being the color of mourning for the area. There were other tidbits about the length of time they mourned along with habits and rituals, which fascinated me—and some pieces made it into the ending of Dreams of the Forgotten. Tristan wears red as he mourns for the loss of Brian.

Tristan’s red robes were carried forward into Surrounded by Crimson, but had nothing to do with the title, at the beginning. No, I had meant for the symbolism to be about sacrifice because this was supposed to be the book in which some died. The idea was nixed when I was in the middle of book three, but I kept the title based on the replacement scene which would be pivotal to the storyline. When my writing finally dropped my off at that point, I had a thought went something like this. “Well, hell, how is Tristan going to show people what this looks like when he can’t step outside of himself to show everyone that?” Briefly, I considered changing the title.

All wasn’t lost, though. When I finished, I noticed I had woven in the mourning element, along with the love, the rage, and well, I won’t give away spoilers, but there was another element, and it all fit. The title came to represent several things instead of that one snippet of a scene. In no way was the symbolism intentional, but I happen to think that since I had the title picked out long before I began writing helped to bring everything together than if I had planned it. ^_^

Fun Facts About Red

Red is one of the top two favorite colors of all people.

Red is the most popular color used on flags in the world. Approximately 77% of all flags include red.

Red is the international color for stop.

Red districts sell sex and pornography in every European culture.

The history of languages reveals that red is the first color after black and white. (All languages have words for black and white. If a third hue exists, it is red.)

Cultural Meanings

Red is the color of good luck in Asia and is the most popular color in China.

Most Japanese children draw the sun as a big red circle.

In East Asian stock markets, red is used to denote a rise in stock prices. (Note: In North American stock markets, red is used to denote a drop in stock prices.)

Red is an auspicious color for marriage. Brides in India and Nepal wear red saris; in Japan, a red kimono symbolizes happiness and good luck.

In Russia, the word for “red” means beautiful.

Thank you for stopping by and reading! Good luck with the giveaway!

Dividers

Cover Surrounded by CrimsonBlurb: Tristan has agreed to bond with Ushna but there is still much to do and returning to Tribe Enkidu puts everyone on edge. Tristan is being stalked like prey all the while fighting depression as he mourns the loss of Nikita and enduring a battle of wills with the Elder Council over his birthright. The pleading of his adoptive daughter only adds still more stress to the situation.

Stumbling onto a secret prison while searching for Ushna leads Tristan to risk everything to free a lost God. But breaking the tie to his Flame has more repercussions than Tristan knew and the assistance of a forgotten Goddess and a centuries old lover may not be enough to save him.

Buy Links: Less Than Three Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Dividers

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

Where to find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | E-mail | Goodreads

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

Tour Stops:

Standard
J. Scott Coatsworth, Less Than Three Press

Guest Post: The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth

Coatsworth Banner

My latest novella, The Homecoming, is out today, and I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt with the readers of The Novel Approach.

I jokingly call this story my “wolfman meets spaceman” story, and while it’s sci-fi driven, it has elements of the paranormal, including shifters.

I chose this scene for your readers because it encapsulates the primal nature of the new Earth to which Aldiss, our spaceman, returns. It’s the moment when he awakens to the danger he’s put himself in, and is pivotal for Hari, our wolfman, too.

To set the scene, Alvin and his fellow crew member, Xandra, are trudging through a snowstorm hauling a third member of their team to safety when they find the body of the fourth member of the crew lying frozen in the snow.

Thanks for including me on your site for my blog tour. :)

Dividers

TH CoverPublisher: Less Than Three Press

Cover Artist: London Burden

Length: 20,000 Words

Buy Links: LT3 Press Book Market | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo

Blurb: When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

Dividers

Excerpt: The nausea passed after a few minutes. Aldiss sat up and wiped off his lips, his hands shaking. He couldn’t speak, but he pointed to another pile of snow next to Rober. He didn’t want to look.

Xandra went over to it, brushing the snow away. It was a wolf, a black one.

For some reason, he breathed a little easier at that. He had been afraid, deep down in his gut, that its fur would be white.

Maybe it was the wolf that had attacked him earlier in the day. The cutter had slashed a nasty wound across the creature’s back. “Looks like they killed each other,” he said. He searched the tree-line around them, as if expecting to see wolves at every turn.

Xandra nodded grimly. She went to check on Cat, her hand gently touching the other woman’s forehead, pointedly not looking at Rober’s corpse. Cat looked like she was still asleep. He hoped it was just sleep.

Aldiss looked around the clearing for any trace of Rober’s cutter. Obviously the man had used it here. He paced around the bodies, using his boot to scuffle up the snow, but there was nothing metallic hidden under the covering blanket.

The trees loomed over them in the half light like giants.

“We should get going,” Xandra said, eyeing the forest warily. “There might be more of them.”

Aldiss neglected to mention that he knew there was at least one more.

He washed the blood from his hands in the ice-cold water of the stream. They were still shaking a little, but not too badly scraped up. He wished they had antibiotics, but he’d have to make do with a good washing.

He turned to say something to Xandra, and saw the wolf crouched at the far edge of the clearing. Deja vu of the worst kind.

Aldiss reached for the cutter at his side as the snow began once again to drift down lazily from the darkening sky. “Xandra.” He pointed in the direction of the wolf.

Her eyes went wide as she saw the beast. She was reaching for her own cutter as another wolf bounded out of the trees next to them, smashing into her and knocking her to the ground.

Aldiss freed his cutter, bringing it up and activating the laser blade as he stood. He swung it madly at the hindquarters of the wolf that was pinning Xandra to the ground, grazing it and sending it running back toward the cover of the trees.

The second wolf joined the action, lunging for Aldiss’s throat. Xandra just managed to bring her cutter up to slice off the wolf’s ear. The wolf yelped and jumped away, uttering a low growl.

Suddenly the small clearing was full of wolves.

Aldiss sliced the blade back-and-forth, the laser-sharp edge nipping animals left and right. Then something bit him in the leg, hard, and he fell to the ground with a scream, still swinging the deadly blade, yelling through the pain.

The snow fell more heavily, and the clearing grew darker and darker. His headlamp shone a crazy light through the falling patterns of snow as he looked around wildly for the next threat, revealing a furry tail here and bared teeth there.

In the gathering darkness, someone else screamed, a horrible guttural sound, and then went silent. “Xandra,” he shouted, feeling his way through the storm toward where he had heard the sound.

The snow and darkness now blocked almost all of his vision. Aldiss turned down his headlamp as low as it would go. He struggled forward on his hands and knees, the wound in his leg pulsing angrily, moving forward foot by foot. He prayed that the weather hid him from his enemies.

He found Xandra at last. She lay motionless, staring into the sky, her mouth agape in a silent scream. Her neck was ripped out in a jagged wound, just like Rober.

Aldiss felt sick again. He looked down at his own leg to see the wound, where sharp teeth had torn through the leg of his ASEA coveralls. He was losing blood, and fast, and who knew what kind of bacteria these wolves carried?

His vision faded in and out as he waved the cutter around in the darkness, his reflexes slowing.

I’m going to die out here, all alone.

He heard sounds of fighting continuing around him, and looked up, perplexed. Xandra was dead, and Cat… he didn’t know where he’d left Cat, lying by herself in the madness. But she’d been in no shape to stand, let alone fight.

The sounds of a struggle came closer, wolves howling in pain. He sat up as best as he was able, staring into the swirling snow.

A naked man stepped out of the darkness into the dim light of his headlamp, holding a cutter, dripping with blood.

Everything faded to black.

Dividers

j-scott-coatsworthAuthor Bio: Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Website | Facebook

Standard
3 Stars, Cecil Wilde, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules

Review: A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde

Title: A Boy Called Cin

Author: Cecil Wilde

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 150 Pages

At a Glance: I love diversity in my books. I have really enjoyed the few transgender-related books that I’ve read, but I think Cecil Wilde tried to do too much here.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: On the search for a cup of coffee before the guest lecture he’s giving, Tom spies a tired, half-frozen young man who looks even more in need of coffee than him. On impulse, he buys the man a cup—but an attempt to strike up conversation ends in the young man walking off, seemingly put off by Tom Walford—the tabloids’ favourite billionaire—buying him coffee. But when he reappears in Tom’s lecture, all Tom knows is that he doesn’t want the man slipping away a second time.

Agreeing to dinner with a man he only knows from internet gossip columns isn’t the wisest decision Cin’s ever made, but he wants to like the infamous Tom Walford and he can’t do that if he doesn’t give the man a fair chance to be likeable. Which he is, almost frustratingly so, to the point Cin wishes maybe he hadn’t been so fair because he never had any intention of getting attached to Tom, who seems to come from a world far too different from his own for anything between them to last. Little does Cin know, they’ve got a lot more in common than he imagines—including their shared discomfort with their assigned genders, and all the complications that go with it.

Dividers

Review: This was a really interesting read…I’m actually having a bit of trouble putting into words all of my thoughts on this book. I’m not gonna do any type of synopsis recap – which I don’t typically do much of in my reviews anyway – but instead, I’m going with a sort of stream-of-consciousness of my thoughts.

I liked both main characters quite a bit. Tom is a sexy billionaire with a heart of gold, and Cin is a twenty-year-old art student. Cin is snarky and intelligent, and, honestly, seems very put-together for being so young. Tom is basically just a huge sweetheart, who seems to wear his heart on his sleeve. They were very cute and sweet together. In fact, for the most part, that’s how I would characterize A Boy Called Cin: cute and sweet. I would describe it as fairytale-ish, even – which I think perhaps was the author’s intent. I don’t think that every book that deals with heavy subjects has to necessarily feel heavy, so in that regard I like what Cecil Wilde did here.

A Boy Called Cin deals with gender topics that are oftentimes confusing for a lot of people, transgender and gender dysphoria, or genderqueer, mainly. Cin is transgender, born biologically female, but identifies as male. Tom, we discover, is genderqueer. He doesn’t feel like a girl, per se, but doesn’t always feel entirely male either. Then, the author throws in there that Tom’s sister, Poppy, is also trans. Now, I love diversity in my books. I have really enjoyed the few transgender-related books that I’ve read, but I think Cecil Wilde tried to do too much here. Learning about Cin and what he was going through, and what he needed in order to truly feel like himself, was interesting and engaging.
Tom’s story, on its own, is interesting. I would have been more satisfied with the story, though, if the two hadn’t been combined, not to mention bringing the transgender sister into the mix. I think Tom could have been the same intelligent, handsome, open-hearted, open-minded man that he was, who fell in love with Cin just as he was, without him also having gender issues. I felt like it took away from Cin’s story a bit. That’s just my opinion, of course. Perhaps the author is writing from experience, though…maybe a similar thing happened to them in their life. Who knows? I realize it’s not my story. As far as a reading experience, however, it was a lot to wrap my mind around.

The other slightly quirky thing about the book was the writing style. Written in the present tense, it definitely jumped out at me. On the one hand, it was kind of cool; the book read as a documentary almost – a sort of a play by play of the action. As most fiction books are written in the past tense, it was noticeably different. Unfortunately, because of that it was also somewhat of a distraction. I have to admit that it did pull me out of the story on several occasions, just because my mind kept recognizing it as unusual. It came across as somewhat less personal at times, especially during some of the more intimate scenes.

Overall, I enjoyed the characters and the snappy dialogue very much. Cin and Tom were just as cute as they could be. The book was definitely thought-provoking as well. I think if you can go into it with an open mind, and overlook some of the tidy set-ups, you will enjoy it and even learn a few things you may not have previously understood about gender.

TNA_Signature_Jules







 

You can buy A Boy Called Cin here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
A.V. Sanders, Giveaways, Less Than Three Press

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion by A.V. Sanders

PPPSandersCover

Title: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion
Author: A.V. Sanders
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: August 26, 2015
Cover Artist: A.V. Sanders — I requested to make my own cover for ‘Percolation, Poetry, and Passion’ and LT3 was kind enough to let me do so. The Bay Bridge and this exact view from the Oakland Hills are significant to the relationship between the main characters in this story. The handwritten font I chose for the title I hoped would lend familiarity and the romanticism of ‘poetry’. Finally, the silhouettes of the two men, hand in hand, facing their world together, was a very important and powerful image, both to me and the story.

Blurb: Beckett works at a coffee shop to make ends meet while attending a prestigious university. It’s not the most exciting job, but he’s done it long enough he’s good at it—and can avoid the tedium by spinning sexy little daydreams about things he doubts will ever happen.

Daydreams that soon include Simon, the hot, handsome, and older, freelance writer who stops in one day. But then Simon becomes a regular, a bright spot more interesting than the inside of Beckett’s head, and daydreams start to seem like they could be something far more tangible—if reality doesn’t get in the way first.

Pre-Order Link: Less Than Three Press | Add To Goodreads

Dividers

Excerpt: Beckett did not know the older man’s name, and it didn’t matter. When their bodies met, a hot rush swept over Beckett, his breath catching in his throat. The older man took a step into him, leaving Beckett pressed against the wall. The man leaned in, taking a deep inhale, his rough cheek brushing against Beckett’s stubble. He pulled back until their lips met.

Beckett lifted his hands, reaching into the man’s soft, graying hair. The clothing had dissolved from their bodies, nothing left to impede. Their arms moved over one another, fingers smoothing along taut muscles and hard lines–Beckett’s olive-toned skin complementing the older man’s deep tan in their tangle.

He ran his hand through Beckett’s short dark hair, a low growl rumbling in his chest. His large hands closed around Beckett’s shoulders and he turned him around. Beckett’s heart pounded in his ears, anticipation and lust building. The man was rough and strong–knowing what he wanted and what Beckett needed. Then, the Nameless spoke for the first time during their interlude:

“Was my pump sugar-free?”

Beckett startled, blinking a few times.

“What?”

“That syrup you just put in my drink–was it sugar-free? Because that’s what I ordered.”

The harsh mechanical whirl of a blender and hiss of blow-off steam from an espresso machine brought Beckett back into reality. His handsome stranger had vanished, and in his place was the puffy pale face of an average guy in his thirties. He was wearing an accusing scowl underneath matte black hair and a salt-rimmed baseball cap.

Beckett took a deep breath, the acrid scent of coffee pushing the last vestiges of his imagined lover out of his mind. He strained to give the customer a pleasant smile.

“Yep. Three pumps, one sugar-free vanilla and two hazelnut–just like it says on the cup.”

Puffy-scowl walked away and didn’t say thanks. Beckett disliked being questioned and prickled further when it was shot from over the coffee bar partition. He took pride in his job as a barista at The Percolation Station. He had been working at the eclectic, industrial style coffee house since he was a freshman at Berkeley. After graduating last week, the four years of pulling espresso shots meant he could make these drinks in his sleep. Sometimes, he did–he always felt ripped-off waking up from a night of those pointless, dull dreams.

An errant thought about adding a pump of simple syrup to the guy’s drink skipped through his mind. Beckett never did understand why people risked being rude to those handling what you’re about to put into your body.

Dividers

tumblr_static_72snlag4rtc8k8ockgo0gcc80About the Author: A.V. Sanders loves and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, two cats, and tropical aquarium fish. She is an avid hoarder of Halloween decorations and inconsequential information. When writing science fiction, mystery, and horror with LGBTQ main characters, she can be found staying up all hours of the night listening to endless sets of EDM music. She is an advocate of love, art, animals and frivolous acts of beauty. She also has a growing suspicion that not causing harm to one another is what matters in the end.

Social Media Links: Website | Tumblr | Twitter

Dividers

Giveaways

A.V. Sanders would like to offer one lucky reader the chance to win an ARC of Percolation, Poetry, and Passion. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget to enter.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Standard
3 Stars, Drama, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules, T.T. Kove

Review: Scarred Souls by T.T. Kove

Title: Scarred Souls (Scarred Souls: Book One)

Author: T.T. Kove

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

At a Glance: What I’ve decided I’m going to take away from this book is a little bit of hopefulness for these guys.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: On a cold, wet afternoon Damian stumbles across a young man huddled beneath a tree crying his eyes out. He’s got more than enough problems of his own, but is compelled to give the bloke a place to crash for at least the night.

Josh is used to being alone, and most days it’s easier than trying to deal with people who can’t, or won’t, understand him. When Damian takes him in for the night, Josh assumes it’s going to be one more go round of sex and get out in the morning.

Neither of them expects the friendship that develops, and they’re far from prepared when friendship starts to turn into more.

Dividers

Review: I’m finding this to be a tough one to review. It was a very tough one to read; if I hadn’t been reading it for review, I likely wouldn’t have finished it. I don’t mind angst – I have read many books that were tough but in the end I found to be beautiful – however, the angst here was a bit excessive, which is simply not how I personally like to spend my reading time. But, the more I sit with it, the more I realize there were aspects that many may find appealing in a story, and that the author was ultimately trying to write a story of hope.

The subject matter is very dark for the most part. Between our two main characters, Josh and Damian, T.T. Kove covers sexual abuse, substance abuse, self-harm, depression, borderline personality disorder, domestic violence, and suicide. Scarred Souls is definitely the perfect title for this book. Josh and Damian are absolutely scarred souls, and looking back on the story, almost every single character in it is scarred to some extent. I found it exhausting that with the exception of two very minor characters, who have very little page time, there were NO happy people in this book.

I understand wanting to tell a story about troubled characters. Wanting to write an abuse-survivor story. Wanting to simply educate readers about the different hurts that people can feel, or a certain facet of mental illness. However, not only is it my preference, but I also believe it’s more realistic, to have some more-or-less stable and happy people in the story. The closest this book got was Silver, Damian’s best friend and roommate, who I liked very, very much. Silver is a tattoo artist, and since the next book scheduled in the series is apparently titled Inked Souls, I’m going to be saying my little prayers that we will be getting Silver’s story in that book!

So, what I’ve decided I’m going to take away from this book is a little bit of hopefulness for these guys. Though it’s extremely difficult for Josh, given his BPD, Damian has given him reason to have little glimpses of hope for the future. Damian accepts Josh for who he is. Doesn’t pressure him to “get better” or be anything or anyone he isn’t capable of being. It feels realistic for Josh, and attainable, I think. And, for Damian, Josh has allowed him to finally be able to be close to a person and have it feel right. Maybe his natural connection to Josh will eventually lead to even more comfortable intimacy between them. It certainly seems bleak throughout the majority of the book…but, who knows? Maybe these guys will be okay after all.

TNA_Signature_Jules






You can buy Scarred Souls here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
A.F. Henley, Giveaways, Less Than Three Press

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Baby’s on Fire Blog Tour With AF Henley

Babys on Fire Blog Tour Header

The Novel Approach is pleased to have author AF Henley here today on the Baby’s on Fire blog tour. Enjoy Henley’s article, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win some great prizes, including a $20 gift card at LT3 Press.

Good luck!

Dividers

Welcome back to the Baby’s on Fire blog tour and giveaway! I hope you’ve been following along with the tour, but for any newcomers that are joining in for the first time, we’ve been having a peek at some of the rumors, gossip, and in some instances actual events that took place in the late sixties and early seventies within the music industry.

One of the biggest problems with the choices a person makes in their younger days is living with the guilt later on. And once again, I’m going to state before I get started that rumors and gossip always color a story – sometimes to the good, sometimes to the bad, and sometimes it’s just a plain old case of the right words said in the wrong ways. Also, it is not my intention to make judgment or attempt to make the reader pass judgment on the performers that I’m writing about. I will, however, come right out and make a stand on the fact that I believe a person’s choices and decisions are theirs to make and I don’t feel anyone has the right to judge them on those decisions.

The unfortunate part comes when that person, themselves, looks back in regret.

** Please note that none of these posts are indicative of the main characters or the instances in my novel Baby’s on Fire. They do, however, give a very clear indication of what the MCs would have been experiencing both time-wise and with the reactions/mindset of the people around them.

Dividers

Suzy Quatro – Teen Pregnancy and Abortion

The Performer

Susan Kay “Suzi” Quatro, was born on June 3, 1950 and is a British-based American singer-songwriter, bass guitar player, and actor. Suzi has a world of experience behind her. She was the first female bass player to become a major rock star, busting through the glass ceiling of the music industry and kicking the barrier of women’s participation in rock music right the fuck out of the way. In the 1970s she was highly successful in the European and Australian markets. She released her self-titled debut album in 1973 and continued to release a total of fifteen studio albums following that, selling over fifty million albums. She was awarded six Bravo Ottos between ’73 and ’80 and was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Online Hall of Fame. She had a very successful recurring role as bass player Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days, and she followed that success with a duet with Chris Norman, Stumblin’, that reached number four in the U.S. To this day she continues to perform live.

The Problem

In Suzi’s early teens, she and her sister, Patti, formed a band that went by the name of The Pleasure Seekers. The band was such a huge local success that Suzi decided not to go back to school, and instead pursue a career. The decision was supported by her father, the band soon had a record deal, and Suzi, at only fourteen years old, left home for the life of an upcoming rock star.

But temptation can be an evil witch, and Suzi found herself falling for a married A&R man from Mercury Records. Suzi reports that the first time they slept together was on her eighteenth birthday and it resulted in a pregnancy. It was a pregnancy that was quickly and quietly stopped with an abortion.

BoF AtG BT Post3 TNA Suzi QuatroThe Pain

Suzi has admitted that the abortion still haunts her.

“I would have loved to have had that baby,” Suzi says in an online interview posted by http://www.dailymail.co.uk. “Not a year goes by when I don’t think about it — what that child would be like, how old they would be.”

Apparently, it’s not just an emotional haunting, but a spiritual one as well.

“When I get to those Pearly Gates — hopefully — this is the sin I will pay for. I am so sorry for it, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice and I was absolutely petrified. Years later it still comes back to haunt me and I don’t think I will ever get over it.”

And that truly is a shame. Living with regret and guilt is a nasty burden – the kind of burden no amount of success or fame is going to make easier.

Quotes and picture found at the Daily Mail

My huge thanks toThe Novel Approach for having me today, and a special thanks to you, my friends, for joining me. :D

Until next time!

AF Henley <3

Dividers

Blurb: In 1974 Gerry Faun gets the break of his life—an opportunity to meet gorgeous, openly bisexual, glam-rock idol Mark Devon. Mark’s world is new, exciting, and Gerry finally gets to explore the side of his sexuality that he’s kept hidden. But the press is everywhere, and when Gerry’s father gets wind of what’s going on behind his back, Gerry ends up on the street. Mark offers to let Gerry come along with the tour and Gerry jumps at the chance. The tour is a never-ending party—and the start of what seems to be a perfect relationship for him and Mark. Until Mark’s manager decides Gerry isn’t worth the trouble he’s stirring up.

In 1994 Gerry is finally coming out of some tough times—he has a job that pays the bills, a car that hasn’t quite broken down, and a small rental in Jersey City. After a decade of barely getting by, if life was as good as it was going to get, Gerry figures he’ll manage just fine. It would be easier if he wasn’t still haunted by the man the media won’t let him forget, the man who stole his heart and then broke it… the man that’s shown up pleading for a second chance.

Gay Contemporary Romance
Copyright © 2015 by A.F. Henley
Published by Less Than Three Press

Please note: Novel contains explicit sexual content.

Purchase Links: Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Dividers

Excerpt: For what seemed like the hundredth time, the traffic in front of Gerry Faun came to a slow-rolling halt. It was the rain doing the most damage, though the end of the workday was always ugly on the streets of New York City. Not that there were many pretty things on the street, regardless. Giuliani was trying, but the way Gerry had it figured, it was going to take more than a smile and a stand on graffiti and marijuana to clean up their kind of dirt. So while the rest of the city offered the mayor awe-induced stares of appreciation over recollections of Mafia Commission and Boesky trials, Gerry mostly sat back and speculated. When government officials got clever enough to stop assholes from blowing up pregnant secretaries and hard-working fathers, then they might actually get his attention. Until then, Gerry wasn’t putting any more trust in them than he would anybody else. He’d learned a long time ago that not all that glitters is worthy.

He was lost in thought enough not to acknowledge the tunnel. He was, in fact, well into it before he remembered to take off his sunglasses. He forgave himself the digression. It had been a long week. Though Gerry worked in the financial district, he was no more than a glorified yes-man for his boss, a real estate broker that had made a fuck-ton of money in the eighties, and was merely coasting until the inevitable retirement. He ran errands and answered phones. He took messages, and booked flights that he was more than sure did not drop Mr. David Manon in places of business. He made reservations in exclusive restaurants, paid Mr. Manon’s membership fees for a gym the man never went to, and bought Manon’s anniversary and birthday gifts for the wife-of-the-moment. Gerry had a flair for it, or so his boss would tell him whenever the requirement came up, and Gerry was cocky enough to verbally agree with Manon every time. Damn right he was good at it.

Tail lights suddenly flared in front of him and Gerry cursed and slammed his brake pedal down. His eyes flicked between windshield and rearview, assessing space and distance, and he blew a sigh of relief when he confirmed that the guy behind him had been paying more attention than he’d been. Maybe it really was time to give up the car.

He’d heard it a thousand times from friends, family, and casual observers: public transport would not only save him money, but they swore up and down it would save him time. God knew gasoline was getting more expensive by the day, and parking costs in the district were insane. Gerry considered it pretty much every time the numbers went up on the billboards beside the gas stations. One day he would, he’d tell himself. One day for sure. When he could convince himself that walking the six blocks from the bus stop in Jersey’s bitter January winds wouldn’t be as appealing as slitting his own throat with barbed wire. When he got over his control issues.

The side road whereby Gerry’s rental home waited for his return was already jammed with cars, so instead of parking on the street, Gerry carefully worked his 1984 Buick into the tiny concrete pad that served as his driveway. He nudged the car as close to the house as it would go, wincing when the fender butted against the foundation and the ancient bow window above him shook with disapproval. While some of the properties on the street had given up parking for an attempt at a front lawn, Gerry couldn’t see the point of bothering to maintain a six-by-eight square of greenery and have to fight for a place to park every day. Besides, what was the point? In the summer everything got so damn hot that his neighbors’ plants and grass got their lives choked out of them. In the winter, anything that had managed to get a hold on the Earth was quickly destroyed by the cold and the snow.

Looking, he was sure, about as sexy as a maggot trying to escape from a nostril, Gerry inched out from between his car and the base of the entranceway steps. His suit wasn’t worth that much, but it was worth too much to go rubbing it up against rain-mucked concrete or the wet door of a car that hadn’t seen an auto-wash in months. His breath puffed out from between his lips, the rain making October that much colder, and Gerry lifted his eyes to the sky. Dark, ominous clouds roiled in the gray heavens, and Gerry had serious doubts that the light rainfall was all the skies had in store for them.

In the second it took for Gerry to muse, a deep rumble of thunder broke, a distant sheet of lightning answered the call with a flare of brilliance, and the drizzle became a downpour. Without bothering to spit out the curse on his tongue, Gerry ran for the front door. The porch roof did nothing to protect him as the rain whipped against his back and legs, and he had to seat the key twice before it finally dug in and allowed him to open the door.

Dripping, mumbling, Gerry slammed the door behind him with a definitive clunk and flicked the deadbolt. He kicked off his shoes, sighing as small rivers of water raced across the lopsided flooring of the hallway, and he began to peel off of his wet clothes right where he stood. He might as well only drown one part of the house, and at least that particular location was vinyl tile. Most of the house had decades-old carpeting that, when wet, released all kinds of odors. None of them good.

With his wet clothes piled in his arms, Gerry stepped gingerly down the narrow hallway, and ducked into the bathroom. He dumped the armload into the tub, and grabbed a towel off the rack.

He didn’t pause to look in the mirror and fix his hair. The cut was short, short enough in fact that he barely had to brush it, and that always seemed to make his sister chuckle when she saw him. There was a time when God himself wouldn’t have been able to get him to cut his hair—when the arguments with his parents would grow to screaming matches over the bangs in his face and the uneven lengths that fell past his collar. But everybody grew up. Eventually.

Dividers

AF Henley_Avatar croppedAbout the Author: Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica.

A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.

Henley has been proudly working with LT3 since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since—an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.

Find more here: Website | Amazon Page | Publisher’s Page | Facebook | Twitter

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY:

On behalf of the tour, please join the giveaway by taking part in the Rafflecopter below. The prize consists of a set of ‘Crystal and Silver’ Glitter Ball Earrings, a $20 Gift Certificate to the Less Than Three Press book market (free books!), and a signed, print copy of Baby’s on Fire. Click through for terms and conditions, further details, and your chance to win! See all the details HERE.

** Please note that this giveaway is being offered tour-wide and there will be one winner awarded for the entire event.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Standard
4 Stars, A.F. Henley, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: Baby’s on Fire by A.F. Henley

Title: Baby’s on Fire

Author: A.F. Henley

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I can’t profess to reading all of AF Henley’s books, but I can say I’ve not read one yet that has disappointed.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: In 1974 Gerry Faun gets the break of his life—an opportunity to meet gorgeous, openly bisexual, glam-rock idol Mark Devon. Mark’s world is new, exciting, and Gerry finally gets to explore the side of his sexuality that he’s kept hidden. But the press is everywhere, and when Gerry’s father gets wind of what’s going on behind his back, Gerry ends up on the street. Mark offers to let Gerry come along with the tour and Gerry jumps at the chance. The tour is a never-ending party—and the start of what seems to be a perfect relationship for him and Mark. Until Mark’s manager decides Gerry isn’t worth the trouble he’s stirring up.

In 1994 Gerry is finally coming out of some tough times—he has a job that pays the bills, a car that hasn’t quite broken down, and a small rental in Jersey City. After a decade of barely getting by, if life was as good as it was going to get, Gerry figures he’ll manage just fine. It would be easier if he wasn’t still haunted by the man the media won’t let him forget, the man who stole his heart and then broke it… the man that’s shown up pleading for a second chance.

Dividers

Review: There are so many things I simply adored about A.F. Henley’s Baby’s on Fire. It’s a story of redemption and second chances, at its heart—not necessarily a new motif in romantic fiction, but the circumstances around which Gerry Faun and Mark Devon loved and lost were unique to them, a bit nostalgic and even somewhat tragic, and that, I very much enjoyed.

At the tender age of twenty, in 1974, Gerry finds himself star-struck by glam rocker Maxx Starlight—think Ziggy Stardust—Mark’s on stage persona. The genesis of Gerry and Mark’s relationship revolves entirely around a chance sexual encounter, one that eventually leads to Gerry losing his family, though Gerry quickly becomes immersed in Mark’s world: an unfortunate calamity of drugs, booze, facade, and duplicity perpetrated by those who are out to use and manipulate the superstar for their own gain.

This story, however, opens in 1994. Gerry, by then, has hit middle age, works a rather mundane 9-to-5 office job, though it pays the bills, and hasn’t seen or heard from Mark Devon in twenty years. Gerry is barely avoiding tumbling over the precipice into a lonely and miserable existence. The reader is engaged from the outset by living his story backwards through flashbacks, as we see an older Gerry juxtaposed with his younger and far more idealistic self. The effect this narrative choice has on the novella is twofold; it teases the story out, the reader knowing the romance between Gerry and Mark had not only failed but failed epically, as well as the added advantage of having the opportunity to see Gerry’s hope and optimism decay toward the disillusionment he still carries around from a past he can’t seem to escape. Nor, in fact, does it seem he really wants to. In these flashbacks, we watch the gradual realization that Gerry’s not only out of his element in Maxx Starlight’s stratosphere, but that he’s also in love with a man who doesn’t seem to know exactly who he is when out of the spotlight. There’s a bit of a “kill your heroes” lesson learned as Gerry, who is at first awed and worshipful of the glitter and glamour Maxx exudes, sees the image tarnish by degrees while he learns his love for Mark doesn’t shine nearly as bright as the money and the stardom.

As the bitter overtakes the sweet from present to past and back to the present, the past comes back to call on Gerry, a call he’s none too happy or willing to answer. Mark is looking for forgiveness and another chance to do right by the man he’d betrayed two decades before, a private failure that overshadowed nearly every surface of his public success. This was the point of total emotional engagement in the story for me, as Henley doesn’t make this reunion in any way easy. Gerry harbors so much hurt and resentment toward Mark for abandoning him in what he came to believe was their one-sided love affair, a resentment we eventually see as the pain of that abandonment seeping through the knowledge he’d never truly stopped loving his betrayer.

While the greater part of the resolution of conflict between Gerry and Mark takes place off-page, something I’d have preferred to see play out in more intimate detail, the satisfaction comes from those twenty years not simply being swept under the proverbial rug. While we don’t see the slow repair of Gerry’s heart, we are given a timeline of the building of this new and more solidly grounded relationship, which eventually leads to a sweet and heartwarming end.

I can’t profess to reading all of A.F. Henley’s books, but I can say I’ve not read one yet that has disappointed. Baby’s on Fire is no exception, and would recommend it when you’re in the mood for a not-quite-contemporary, not-quite-historical romance that makes its couple work for their happy ending.

TNA_Signature_Lisa






You can pre-order Baby’s on Fire here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
K. Lynn, Less Than Three Press

Guest Post and Excerpt: Coffee Date by K. Lynn

banner

This year, a number of my releases are focusing on transgender characters, including Coffee Date. What if society has deemed you to be one gender when you are actually another? And how might these perceptions affect you as you work towards being the person you were always meant to be?

Dividers

CoffeeDateBlurb: Alice is finally happy with her body and her life—except for the part where revealing she’s trans winds up leaving her hurt and abandoned over and over again. She’s decided she’s done making herself miserable by looking for love.

Love finds her anyway, in the form of Hank, the new guy at her local coffee shop. He’s sweet, friendly, charming… and will probably turn out like all the rest. Determined not to shatter the fantasy and lose him before she has to, Alice holds fast to her secrets.

But if the truth doesn’t ruin everything, the lies will, and it seems no matter which choice she makes Alice is set for just one more heartache.

Dividers

Alice’s journey is not an easy one. She’s been hurt numerous times when she’s sought to share her true self with others, so much so that she’s started to put up a wall against the world. And she continues to strive to reach milestones that are not necessarily her own. Alice is constantly trying to match up to what she thinks she should be, what society has taught her she should be, while making herself miserable because she hasn’t reached that constructed reality. When love enters into the mix, it gets messy. She has to let someone into her heart, behind her wall, and trust that this time will not end in disaster. Is taking the chance worth it?

Dividers

Excerpt: Alice danced around in front of the mirror, trying to reach back far enough to pull up the zipper on her dress. She didn’t know why she kept the damn thing, considering it was always a hassle to get it on. Finally, she managed to snag the metal tag and bring it up. Tugging on the material bunched at her sides, she took a look at herself in the mirror. Her hair had suffered for her acrobatics, so she ran her fingers through it to put the escaped strands back in place, but otherwise she was fine. And she was running twenty minutes ahead of schedule. Maybe she would actually make it to work on time for once.

She was so close to being out the door, her hand was on the door handle and everything, when the phone rang. Alice briefly considered not answering it. No one needed her at eight o’clock in the morning; it was probably a telemarketer or something. Seriously, she should just leave. But what if something was wrong? And if she ignored it, the worry would just haunt her all day long. Giving a sigh, she snagged the portable phone off the side table and answered.

“Oh, good, you’re home,” Mary said, not bothering with a proper greeting. “I thought you might have left already.”

“I was just heading out and…”

“This’ll be quick, I promise.”

Which meant it would take a while. Alice had learned to decipher Mary’s promises long ago. She sat down on the couch and waited for her best friend to continue.

“Did you get an invitation in the mail yesterday?”

Alice thought about the stack of envelopes that were still sitting on her kitchen table. She’d thrown everything down last night, too tired from work stress to deal with a bunch of bills, figuring she’d just go through it later.

“What kind of invitation?” she asked, already heading to the kitchen. “I haven’t checked.”

“Well, do it. You’ll know it when you see it.”

“Why don’t you just tell me what I’m looking for? I don’t have time for this.”

She broke off her words when she saw the cream-colored envelope with a return address of her alma mater, which she and Mary had graduated from five years ago. Running her fingers under the seal, she opened it up and saw the stylized card inviting her to attend a reunion of her class. And it was signed with a familiar name.

“Winston Carver requests the honor of our presence,” Mary said when Alice remained silent.

“I’d rather give him the honor of a foot up his ass,” Alice said, tossing the invitation in the trash in disgust.

Mary busted out a laugh at that. “I think we should go just to fuck with him. Give him a little payback for the misery he caused us.”

“Mostly to me,” Alice said, remembering all the torture Winston had put her through during junior year. She’d started transitioning from Al to Alice and didn’t have an easy time as her features started changing and her emotions ran the gambit from anger to tears. Mary had been her rock, standing beside her and supporting her, but Winston couldn’t get past the freak aspect of what Al was becoming. He took particular delight in calling her every derogatory name he could think of, goading others to take part in the taunts as well.

“I bet he’s still a screw-up,” Mary said. “Probably running his daddy’s car dealership and hitting on anything that moves.”

“Well, I don’t care to find out. I had enough of him and his buddies at the time. I don’t need a repeat.”

“Still, it might be fun.”

“Yeah, well, not for me.” Alice glanced over at the microwave clock and her eyes widened as saw that it read eight forty. “Damn it, how’d it get so late? I’ve got to get to work.”

“Think about it.”

“Fine, whatever,” Alice said, gathering up her lunch one-handed. She stuffed it into her purse and headed back to the living room. “I’ll see you tonight?”

“Reservations are at seven. Talk to you then.”

“Later.” Alice thumbed the off button and replaced the receiver on its dock. Having left no time for breakfast, she hoped the line at Cafe Connection wasn’t too long as she headed out.

As luck would have it, there were only two people in front of her when she stopped at the coffee shop. When the place opened just a block from her building last year, she was wary of its sustainability. The small shops often started off with high hopes, but soon collapsed under the economic pressures of having to compete against the larger chains. Cafe Connection, however, had stayed put and even started gaining customers from its larger competitors when word got out about how wonderful their products were. Alice had to admit she had fallen hard for the place and was now known as a regular, stopping in for a cup of coffee on her way to work every morning. Well, when she could spare the time, at least.

The line to the counter started moving again and she dug into her purse for her wallet. Hopefully she had enough cash for an item from the bakery to go along with her drink. The phone call with Mary had put her behind and she didn’t know if she could survive the morning with no food. Plus, it was Tuesday, which meant there were fresh-baked apple cinnamon muffins available. She could already smell them, and her stomach grumbled at the temptation.

“The usual,” Alice said, not looking up. Instead, she continued counting through her change, trying to scrape up enough for her muffin. She really should have gone to the bank yesterday, but she forgot. Her debit card had met with an unfortunate accident in the dryer last week, so she was left to nickel and dime her way through her morning routine.

“I don’t know what the usual is,” a male voice said, causing her to glance up.

She knew everyone that worked here, at least by sight, and the man in front of her was definitely not someone she recognized. He was tall, but built solid with muscle, and would have looked more at home in a gym than behind the counter of a coffee shop.

“Who are you?” she asked, still jarred by the change in her routine. She shook her head once she realized what she’d said. “I’m sorry, that was rude.”

Dividers

About the Book: Coffee Date is a 12,000 word contemporary transgender novella that explores Alice’s struggle to find acceptance, and possibly love, in a world that has not been kind to her on either front.

Release Date: July 1, 2015

Pre-Order Now At: Less Than Three Press

Dividers

writerklynnAbout the Author: K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn’s work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works expand in the future.

Contact K. Lynn at writerklynn@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @WriterKLynn

Standard
3 Stars, E.E. Ottoman, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Review: Winter’s Bees by E.E. Ottoman

Title: Winter’s Bees (Mechanical Universe: Book Three)

Author: E.E. Ottoman

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 105 Pages

At a Glance: A decent entry to a series set in an interesting world, but this story is filled with overused elements.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Lord Marcel de la Mont de Anges, the Marquis de Montespan is a brilliant mathematician, member of the mechanical animation movement and all around dandy. He’s been in love with shy, quiet entomologist and youngest member of the royal family, Prince Gilbert André XVI, since they were children. The Emperor’s plans to arrange a marriage between Marcel and Gilbert should have been the answer to all his secret fantasies.

But Gilbert is still reeling from a nasty breakup, and he cannot picture the man he regards as a brother becoming his lover. The order to marry has thrown their relationship into disorder, and if they cannot sort out the changes there may not even be a friendship left for them to save…

Dividers

Review: If you haven’t read the other books in this series, you don’t need to in order to understand this series. Each book has its own characters and storylines, though Winter’s Bees does mention characters that appear in the other stories. Maybe their mention will make you want to read the others if you haven’t already.

I enjoy E.E. Ottoman’s writing, and this book is no different, though I did find the characters to be tedious at times. Perhaps it was just that the elements of the story are common enough to be overused, and I wanted something more.

For example, Marcel is beautiful, and he is in love with his childhood friend, Gilbert. Gilbert, on the other hand, is not in love with Marcel, and he doesn’t want to marry him out of convenience, for his father’s sake. But, of course, what the Emperor wants, the Emperor gets. And, well, Marcel is happy with the situation. What follows is some angst and miscommunication between the two men. They don’t discuss things, which would clear things up really fast. But, then, I guess there wouldn’t be a story.

What is different about this book is the nature of the characters. They’re not your typical heroes, and that’s one of the reasons I love Ottoman’s stories. Gilbert is short, stocky, and not entirely attractive. And it’s not just him saying that about himself, but everyone says it. He’s also an entomologist. He studies BUGS. A prince that studies bugs? You have to admit that’s kind of cool. And then there’s Marcel. Marcel has a disability, but this doesn’t get in his way of life, and people still consider him beautiful, which is refreshing. And he’s not just a dandy who exists to look pretty, but a brilliant mathematician as well.

The world also embraces same-sex relationships, so this isn’t a problem. Gilbert’s father understands he’s attracted to men, so he plans his betrothal accordingly rather than going against his wishes. That’s fairly unique as well. Too often I’ve read stories where, yes, same-sex marriage is accepted, but if you’re a member of the royal family, “sorry, you need to suck it up for the sake of the bloodlines.”

Plus, there is the twisted steampunk elements. It’s not quite Victorian, but it seems close to it, and it’s not completely steampunk, but it’s there. Maybe as a bridge for those who want to test the genre out?

Overall, I would say this was an enjoyable story. While some of the elements are commonly used in other books, if you can look past this, you’ll read about a fascinating world and atypical heroes.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer






You can buy Winter’s Bees here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
Giveaways, Less Than Three Press, Lexi Ander

Interview and Giveaway: The Dreams of the Forgotten Blog Tour With Lexi Ander

LABannerTemplate

The Novel Approach welcomes author Lexi Ander today on the Dreams of the Forgotten (Sumeria’s Sons: Book Three) blog tour. I’ve asked Lexi a few questions about which of her series she’d love to see hit the big screen, and she’s also offering the chance at some great giveaway items, including:

1. $20 Amazon Gift card, $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Dreams of the Forgotten, swag (pens, bookmarks, and such)
2. $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Dreams of the Forgotten, swag (pens, bookmarks, and such)
3. Hard copy of Dreams of the Forgotten, swag (pens, bookmarks)
4. An e-book copy of Dreams of the Forgotten to two winners

Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

Dividers

TNA: Hi, Lexi! Just when you thought you were done with blog posts… :)

Lexi: LOL! I know! I thought all the hard work was done. Thank you for having me on the blog today.

TNA: You’re very welcome. It’s great to have you back with us!

Let’s pretend one of your book series has been optioned for the big screen. Which series would you wish it to be, and why do you think it would translate so well to film?

Lexi: What a great set of questions! I think The Valespian Pact would translate better to the big screen than Sumeria’s Sons. The first couple of Books of Sumeria’s Sons has a good deal of internal thoughts and growth that won’t do well in a movie. (At least I think so.) Although there were definitely a couple of scenes that would be awesome to see. Like Ushna fighting in the ring against Enki or the battle against Craig Stoiler. The Valespian Pact is more active. As I thought about it, I could defiantly see it play out movie style.

TNA: Who would you choose to star in the movies?

Lexi: Oh… Hard question. I think Jason Momoa would make a great Dargon. I can envision him moving like the lion Dargon is. Oh, I’m getting the hang of this.Shaneva: Lena Headly. Ashari: Gina Torres. Azaes and Mestor: Samuel L. Jackson (that would completely rock) I have combed the IMB website and I couldn’t find any one I would cast as Zeus. How he is and what he looks like in my head is all… Zeus. I mean, his identity didn’t derive from photo inspiration. I took his hair and eyes from other places, but he was basically already there when I picked up the pen, so trying to pick someone who I thought could portray him was hard. If Sumeria’s Sons actually made it to the big screen… you’re going to laugh. Jason Momoa as Ushna. Yes, it seems the love interests all have a type, even if they differ on the outside. Jason has that intensity that Ushna exudes. For Tristan, I think Kit Harrington would be a good choice.

TNA: What scene(s) do you think would be the most fun to see up on the big screen, and why?

Lexi: I love action movies and so I’d pick the scene with Zeus and the Monticore protecting the mountain pass to Haven. That was such a huge scene with so much happening at one time. I’d love to hear Canry’s siren songs and to see Zeus slay the Hunter, and watch the Feteine pop in the battle out of thin air.

TNA: What are you working on now/have coming up next?

Lexi: The release schedule is pretty busy the next couple of months. April’s release was Dreams of the Forgotten. In May, The Aurora Conspiracy in the Keeping the Stars Running anthology releases. Starting Fires and Surrounded by Crimson is coming this summer. For writing, I’m working on the last book of Sumeria’s Sons then I’m diving into the Valespian Pact.

Again, thank you for having me. I have a great time envisioning my books as movies was fun. Thanks everybody for stopping by and reading. Good luck with the giveaway!

Dividers

PrintBlurb: For Tristan and Ushna, nothing comes easy and with each passing day the challenges grow and the dangers multiply. The safe home they are building for their family and tribe is threatened from all sides, and the peace they seek is being torn apart by enemies and internal strife. Tristan dares not reveal his condition to any but those closest to him, all the while he’s plagued by dreams he cannot remember upon waking…

And over all of it hangs the knowledge that his time with Ushna is running out. Because Ushna already has a Flame awaiting rebirth, and though Tristan would die to protect that bond, he constantly struggles against his beast who demands they bind Ushna to their side.

Buy Links: Less Than Three Press | Amazon | All Romance eBook

Dividers

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

Where to find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | E-mail

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY:

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Standard
4 Stars, Anthology, Holiday Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Angel

Whaddaya Know, It’s Christmas in April – A Touch of Mistletoe from LT3 Press

Title: A Touch Of Mistletoe

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 182 Pages

At a Glance: An enjoyable mix of stories that had me visiting all ranges of the emotional spectrum.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Less Than Three Press presents a collection of stories about people brought together by the magic of mistletoe…

Here for You by J.K. Pendragon
Warren’s life has been shrinking ever since his wife passed away. Blind, and finding it difficult to adjust to life on his own, it’s easier to hide away in his house. When his friend Missy invites him to a Christmas party, an unexpected kiss with a stranger under the mistletoe leaves him confused and wondering…

The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor
Christmas in Japan is no big deal for Ash Harmon, with his family half a world away and supernatural problems that have no respect for the holidays. When he picks up a bodyguard job for a rising star of figure skating who seems to be encountering trouble with a restless spirit, he stubbornly resists the unexpected attraction to his charge, wary of the risks that come with relationships. But the mistletoe has other ideas…

A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley
Sometimes, Fate gets tired of being ignored. And some nights, Fate decides something will just have to be done about it. Enter Drualus, Senior Correspondent for the Collective Assembly of Christmas Fae, working with the Night Before Reach Out Program. He’s got a few short hours to change Scott Misener’s outlook on life, love, and understanding. Lucky for Scott, Dru knows a tried and true trope that might just do the trick…

Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman
It’s Christmas Eve and An-An and M.C. have plans to spend Christmas in Texas with An-An’s family. But their plans are cut short when M.C. takes on a last minute case. Thankfully, though, it should be an easy exorcism.

Until they arrive at the snowbound lodge where trouble resides, and come face to face with a demon wolf unlike anything they’ve ever encountered.

Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr
Kingston has worked hard to get where he is: owner of his own shop, master potion maker, well-respected… and lonely, too busy with life to enjoy more than his regular visits to Acacia House. If he wishes his loneliness might be eased by Hux, the man he meets at Acacia twice a month, well, someday he’ll work up the nerve to ask. Maybe.

Then Hux unexpectedly visits his shop, distressed and in desperate need of help to save his employer from a love potion…

Dividers

Review: I really enjoyed this diverse mix of stories, and the settings and themes.

Here for You by J.K. Pendragon: An odd sort of GFY/Bi-curious story and even now, I still don’t quite know how I feel about it. It was well written and had atmosphere, but the situation left me with something not unlike a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Warren was kind of a jerk to Kyung, and it also seemed as if Kyung was pushing Warren into the relationship. Not a very good start to things, in my opinion. However, I did like the individual characterization of both men, and the added details of the Korean culture were interesting. I’m not certain I’ll go looking for more of this new-to-me author’s works or not, but I won’t go out of my way to avoid it either.

The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor: Another new-to-me author and a very interesting story with a Japanese and Southern flair this time. I loved the details about the culture and how Ash adjusted to being in a foreign country. The paranormal aspect and world building was fun, and I enjoyed that it had its roots in the real world. I will definitely seek out more by this author.

A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley: A cute and hilarious retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I so loved this one. I felt totally onboard with Scott and his grumpiness about the holiday, and when he goes off on a child whose parent was otherwise engaged, I laughed out loud. Who hasn’t wanted to scream at both the child and parent of said child when they are being rude, and you are given the excuse of ‘kids will be kids’?

Anyway, the reactions to Scott’s tirade were spot on, and I adored the changes to the script from there on as well. Dru was rather annoying at times, but I loved him as the Christmas Past/Present/Future vehicle, and I liked the way the ending wasn’t set in stone. Also, I adored that Scott’s awareness afterward was more along the lines of ‘gee, I need to quit being such an asshat’ than the ‘Magic of Christmas saved me’. I will look for more of this new-to-me author’s work.

Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman: Let me first say that finding a F/F story in the middle of what I thought was a M/M romance anthology was a surprise, but I went with it. I love the lady loving as well. Then, while in the midst of the awesome paranormal world building, it is thrown at you that one of the characters is transgender. Not a problem, again, love is love, I say. I was, however, thrown a bit by the overly clinical descriptions and pronoun usage. This just seemed to come out of nowhere. Perhaps it is just my unfamiliarity with transgender characters, but it was quite confusing, though I loved how accepting An-An was. The MC’s reaction was a bit off-putting, especially as she was the assertive character asking for the changes, and then she was suddenly reserved with An-An after their talk. Next, we have a bit of danger, which was great in moving forward the paranormal aspect, then the paranormal mystery was over, finished off-screen in a wrap-up talk between An-An and MC. One venue change and the focus of the rest of the story was on An-An and MC’s unexpectedly descriptive version of kinky sex and talk. I’m not certain I’ll go back for more of this author’s work, unfortunately.

Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr: New-to-me author and I loved this story. I would have enjoyed more world building because the story was just that magical. I liked all the details for the potion making. I adored Kingston and Hux. They were so sweet on one another. I will definitely seek out more of this author’s work.

TNA_Signature_Angel






You can buy A Touch of Mistletoe here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
3 Stars, Historical Romance, Less Than Three Press, R.M. Jane, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: The Diary by R.M. Jane

Title: The Diary

Author: R.M. Jane

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 161 Pages

At a Glance: The Diary doesn’t sustain its early charm through to the end.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: John Bridly has been enamored with Paul Duvant, son a of a rich American merchant, since the moment he laid eyes on him. But though the love proves mutual, John is a marquess, second son of a duke, and as such has a duty to his family.

When Paul has to return to his homeland, John’s duty forbids him from following Paul, and the lovers part ways. One year later, John finds a mysterious diary, dated from the last century…

Dividers

Review: R.M. Jane’s The Diary is a short novel that gets off to a promising start, as we’re introduced to Paul Duvant. Paul is a street rat and the bastard son of an obscenely wealthy American who’d rejected both his mistress and Paul; then, Paul’s mother subsequently abandoned him as well. Rather than defeating the boy, though, his hardships have left him scrappy and suspicious of everyone, save for his sister Emily, whom he adores, and the affection is mutual. The author makes it easy to warm up to Paul and feel the empathy for him one would naturally feel toward any child left to fend for himself in a world he’d never asked to be born into.

For reasons, none of which include caring about Paul but more about looking after his daughters’ futures, his father takes him in and subsequently buys the boy’s way into an English boarding school populated by aristocratic young snobs who hate Paul on sight, simply for being the son of an American merchant. It’s at this point we get a clearer picture of the boy, and a bit of foreshadowing of the man he’ll become—Paul is nothing if not a survivor.

John Bridly is one of these aristos, but that’s where his likeness to most of the other boys at the school ends. He’s the spare son of a Duke who doesn’t take much interest in his second son. John is largely dismissed by both of his parents, which puts him in immediate sympathy with Paul. John has been assigned to look out for Paul, though he soon discovers the new student is quite adept at taking care of himself. John, however, soon becomes Paul’s dearest friend and champion. I liked both of these characters from the outset, and enjoyed the sweet and subtle way their relationship blossomed from friends to lovers. Unfortunately for me, however, the book didn’t sustain its early charm through to the end.

If you’re a reader of historical romance, you can guess at the plot of this book—the social climate, the pressure for John to marry and fulfill his duty to title and family, the desire for a son to finally be accepted by his father—these are familiar tropes in gay historical romance in which an aristocrat and a commoner are involved. They were not only very real issues for those men who needed to keep up appearances, but they also offer a convenient means of conflict for an author in a historical setting. The challenge we lovers of historicals give an author, then, is to deliver a fresh and believable twist to the relationship, especially if there’s to be a happily ever after ending. Or, to give us a side story that complements the romance and keeps the action moving forward, pulling us along with it. Without these things, The Diary sadly became a fairly commonplace 19th century gay romance, with characters who created their own conflict, held grudges, and finally gave in to their feelings on the way to their fairy tale ending. Even the inclusion of the diary alluded to in the title I felt offered only a convenient means of resolution, something both characters could have come up with on their own if they’d tried hard enough, so when all was said and done, it felt more a handy coincidence than a unique way of bringing Paul and John together again, especially since its significance to John largely fell by the wayside as the story continued.

Having said that, I’ll admit I’m demanding when it comes to historical fiction, and I have a few expectations in the genre that others might not share, which is why I won’t say The Diary is unreadable. I will say, though, one of the things that pulled me out of the story, time after time, was the contemporary language, some of it very easily researched modern slang, that wasn’t appropriate to the post-Napoleonic era setting. Picky? Yes, I own that, and I’m sorry to say that this, paired with the middling plot, left me disappointed in what began with so much potential, with characters I felt quite a lot of compassion for.

While I can’t say I loved this book and would recommend it, I can say that if you enjoy a romance with a healthy dose of missteps, misunderstandings, and melodrama, The Diary is a book you might be interested in taking a chance on.






You can buy The Diary here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
4.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Megan Derr

Review: Shine Forever by Megan Derr

Title: Shine Forever (Missing Butterfly: Book Three)

Author: Megan Derr

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 130 Pages

At a Glance: Shine Forever is a book you can dive into and enjoy, and I recommend it highly.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Dai gave up everything when he ran away with his cousin, traded a life of wealth, power, and security to create their band and live the way they want. The one thing he refuses to do is hide; he’s worked way too hard, and given up way too much, to pretend to be something he’s not.

Cooper never anticipated he would trade rodeo fame for country music stardom. But the secret he had to keep for his own safety is now a secret he has to keep to protect his band. The one thing he can never do is make his sexuality public; he’s sacrificed far too much to risk it all by airing personal matters.

But when a chance meeting turns into a passionate night that neither can forget, a tenuous relationship neither wants to let go, someone is going to have to break the rules…

Dividers

Review: I really enjoyed this story! Megan Derr set a whole lot of conflicts into motion and took us along on the ride with Dai and Cooper as they all came into play. Dai is a colorful little rocker, and Cooper is a tall drink of cowboy. I was hooked at their first meeting.

What was great about this book is that the author has the skill to create visual images with her characters, so I read the book with a movie reel playing in my head. And not just the MCs either. Members of the two bands are fully fleshed out, through both commentary and character interactions we can follow along with. With subplots and background fillers to round out the backstory, we can enjoy a robust plot that plays out vividly.

This book was engaging on so many levels. The rock star/country star world was realistically built, with performance issues, song writing, production and promotion values, touring schedules, etc., to give a solid base for the characters to grow and interact against. The relationship that develops between Dai and Cooper was handled perfectly, in my opinion; breakaway hot sex at their first meeting, then a few more meet ups leading to a friendship that turns into a relationship. During this process a discussion of status occurs – out, obviously, for Dai; gay but not out for Cooper – and how they will react with each other is established, with privacy the focus and their relationship hidden. It feels natural, just like the bit of kink they share; it is for them and no one else.

When it blows up the twist is awesome, as a plot line is revealed and another one hinted at. The reader is surprised by the events, but we feel like we shouldn’t be; the stage was set for us, but we didn’t quite see it coming. I loved the way Megan Derr brought all the storylines together for the ending, letting Dai and Cooper have their HEA but not closing the door on the rest of the characters, so there is hope for maybe another book from this world. The overall pace of this book was fast, simply because the story was so entertaining and fresh, and the details were spot on. The plot is solid and this made it even better. Shine Forever is a book you can dive into and enjoy, and I recommend it highly.






You can buy Shine Forever here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
3 Stars, Jaidon Wells, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Review: Everyone’s a Casualty by Jaidon Wells

Title: Everyone’s a Casualty 

Author: Jaidon Wells

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 41 Pages

At a Glance: Short story with interesting characters but is difficult to follow.

Blurb: Joel is more in love with a fantasy world, and one of his own characters, than he is with his own life. He spends his days slipping between reality and the world on the other side of his bedroom door, drifting from day to day with no sense of direction.

But something is haunting the world he’s created, and when it slips out into the real world Joel must choose: surrender the world he loves, or tear it down.

Dividers

Review: Sometimes it’s difficult to describe something you’ve read. This is one of those times. Everyone’s a Casualty is a short story with a character who lives for his fantasy world. He struggles with adjusting to reality, and throughout the story it’s hard to tell exactly what reality is.

Joel is a writer and he has created this circus-like world, with characters who are part machine and have two heads, shapeshift, etc. But something he hasn’t created gets into his world and starts to take it down. Joel has to solve the mystery and discover what it is, or risk losing the world he loves so much.

While the idea of the story was interesting, it was so fast paced I had a difficult time understanding what was happening. Often my reaction fell along the lines of, “What the hell did I just read?” I did like Joel and I felt for him, though, because sometimes fantasy is better than reality, and I’d like to be there, too.

The ending lost me, though. I thought I had some things figured out, but then it twisted and I really don’t know. I guess this is just one of those stories I didn’t get. Is Joel mentally unstable? Has his world completely consumed him? Has he finally stepped back into reality? Was it all just a story he wrote? I would love to hear what other readers think!

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Everyone’s a Casualty here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
2.5 Stars, Less Than Three Press, Megan Derr, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Rabbit Season by Megan Derr

Title: Rabbit Season (Lost Shifters: Book Two)

Author: Megan Derr

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 69 Pages

At a Glance: Interesting shifters and pairing, but ultimately the story fell short.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Sidney has quietly loved twin brothers Brook and Colby for years, watching and pining as they came to his house for the summer every year. Painfully aware that they have each other, have no reason to notice the unremarkable duck they grew up babysitting.

Then the twins and their mother are attacked days before an important meeting that will change the shifter world forever. When the twins come to stay with Sidney’s family until the attackers are caught, Sidney learns that all things have their season, and even violent protests will not keep two rabbits from the man for whom they’ve been patiently waiting…

Dividers

Review: First off, I will admit I did not know this was a series until I finished the book, but it does not in any way affect this story. This book can stand alone. The characters from the first book do make a brief appearance, however, so if you want to know Skylar’s story, make sure you read the first book.

Okay, on to the review of Rabbit Season. I was really excited to read the blurb, as it looked interesting. I mean, who doesn’t love a good shifter story, right? And this one certainly seemed unique. Most shifter books involve predatory animals like wolves, lions, etc., so the fact that this one has ducks and rabbits was pretty intriguing. I’ve read shifter books with non-predators before, but they’re few and far between in the genre, and I have never read one with rabbits. Plus there’s the whole twincest aspect. But, while I was excited to read it, the book fell short.

That’s not to say the story wasn’t good, because Megan Derr had a great concept. However, it was just too much packed into too short a story. Clocking in at less than 25000 words, there just wasn’t enough space to tell Sidney, Brook, and Colby’s story and do it the justice it deserved. Too much tries to happen.

Take the romance between the twins and Sidney. It comes on fast and sudden. Granted, they are rabbits and get busy quickly, but it just seemed pretty unbelievable, given how shy Sidney is supposed to be around the twins. None of the boys seemed to act their age, either. Sidney is supposedly twenty, and the twins twenty-six, but their words and manners made me feel they were much younger, which bothered me.

They did have some funny moments, though. I loved the banter between Sidney and his dads. It was pretty funny. And then there was Sidney’s voice. When he wasn’t sounding too young, he made me laugh with how he expressed himself.

The conflict resolution was too neatly tied up. There is supposed to be something big at stake which involves the lives of the twins and their mother, but when it came down to the wire, it just…ended neatly. I wanted more. More tension, more drama, more risk.

This story could have easily been twice as long, and I think it really deserved that. The complexity of the duck society is only hinted at, and the shifter relations needed more exploration that just fell short in this book.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer






You can buy Rabbit Season here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
5 Stars, Less Than Three Press, New Adult, Reviewed by Janet, T.T. Kove

Review: More than Anything by T.T. Kove

Title: More than Anything

Author: T.T. Kove

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 380 Pages

At a Glance: Each page brings us closer to happiness, and the ending is fitting for the tone of the whole story.

Blurb: Arriving home after work one evening, Jørgen sees a young man who looks adrift and out of place—and who promptly has a seizure on the sidewalk. Jørgen takes care of him until the seizure passes and then, not knowing who to contact, takes care of him for the night. After giving the kid, Geir, a ride home the next morning, he expects that to be the end of it. He doesn’t expect Geir to be a student at the vocational school where Jørgen works as an electrician. He definitely does not expect to be drawn to Geir time and again, to want things that will never be possible for two people with more obstacles between them than can ever be overcome.

Dividers

Review: This was a wonderful book on so many levels. I don’t know how it should be classified, but I guess New Adult would be best as the characters are NA, but the themes of the book are very dark and anyone with triggers for multiple types of child and sexual abuse should not read this book. I personally felt so much pain for the characters that it was a difficult book to read, but there was such a hopeful undercurrent that flowed beneath the text I just had to keep turning the pages.

This book is a journey into the lives of two young men, one still a high school student and the other just a few years out. We learn about them as they meet and develop a friendship, and as they find comfort and companionship with each other. An attraction is there but they are not ready to act on it. Jorgen and Geir have growing up to do before they are ready to love and commit to one another, but they are aware of this and set themselves limits—friends first. This feels real to the reader and helps to set the tone for the progress of the story. I liked the way the author set the book up into several parts: each stage of the story was layered carefully so as to not overwhelm the reader with the details of the characters; rather, letting us learn about them and digest the information so each page took us forward with Jorgen and Geir at a comfortable pace.

One of the aspects of the book that I really enjoyed was the location. More Than Anything is set in Norway, and the author is able to give the reader a sense of the country, its landscape and the lifestyle enjoyed there, while creating a colorful backdrop to the characters. Geir’s father works on one of the North Sea oil rigs, flying in and out to the rig via helicopter on rotation, and this compliments the Nordic flavor of the book whilst underscoring the feelings of loneliness Geir suffers from. The language in the story also emphasises the setting, with characters names and descriptions of homes, as well as the different names for things that the characters either eat or see. I found this to be very consistent throughout the book, and it made for a smooth read with an added depth due to this.

Even though there is such a horrible amount of abuse to read about, it is over. The healing and recovery from the abuse is the focus of the story, and we travel through the book with a sense of hope that remains constant. All of the growth for the characters we are so invested in is positive. Each page brings us closer to happiness, and the ending is fitting for the tone of the whole story. We are left with a feeling of pleasure and a sense of happiness. I would call it a HFN with more happy to come.






You can buy More than Anything here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
Giveaways, Less Than Three Press, Lexi Ander

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

SOE Tour Banner

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

Good luck!

Dividers

Pieces of the Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dividers

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

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

And then the worst comes to kill them…

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

Dividers

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

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

Dividers

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

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

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Standard
3.5 Stars, Cecil Wilde, Holiday Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: The Wish Augur by Cecil Wilde

Title: The Wish Augur

Author:  Cecil Wilde

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 44 Pages

At a Glance: Quick read, warm-hearted story with good intentions

Blurb: Gabriel Juarez has only one wish for Christmas, uttered moments before midnight on Christmas Eve: a hug. He wakes up the next morning to find his wish being haphazardly granted in the form of an insecure elf called Felix, who works as a wish augur and couldn’t bring himself to let Gabe’s wish go unfulfilled.

Dividers

Review: Sometimes it’s nice just to have a quick read with enough romance to make you smile. This story fits that bill, for the most part. It’s short and took me just an hour to read, but it was cute. I liked Felix and how cheerfully energetic he was, and I felt for Gabe. As a short story it’s going to be missing things such as backstory, but I would have liked a little bit more. I thought Gabe’s boss was over the top. Granted he was drunk at a Christmas party, but it could have been presented differently to show just how much of a jerk he was to Gabe.

I felt for Gabe, though. I haven’t been alone at Christmas, thankfully, but I have spent New Year’s Eve alone in the past and been depressed about it, just wanting someone to spend a little bit of time with, so his wish was completely believable. And I adored Felix. He’s just so energetic and fun.

The way the author twisted the traditional Santa and his elves tale was interesting as well. Cecil Wilde took the tale and made it their own. I would have loved to read more about it. What other types of elves are there aside from Wish Augurs? What makes Felix so different from the others? That part isn’t explored much because it’s Gabe’s story, but I would have liked his perspective as well. And I do wonder what his real name is, or even what the other elves called him. I thought that ending was pretty awesome…even if I was personally disappointed! I guess I’m just nosey like that!

As a final note, if the author were to write another story with these characters that follows them after the events of this tale and shows the progression of their relationship, I would read it.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy The Wish Augur here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard
4.5 Stars, Holiday Romance, Less Than Three Press, Piper Vaughn, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: The Working Elf Blues by Piper Vaughn

Title: The Working Elf Blues

Author: Piper Vaughn

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 53 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Garnet Evergreen has never heard of an elf abandoning the North Pole for a human, but he yearns to be the first. Ever since he saw Wes, the boy with sorrowful eyes, Garnet felt an undeniable kinship. Over the years, he’s watched that boy grow into a man, and now he’s determined to give Wes a Christmas he’ll never forget. If only Garnet had thought to test his father’s sleigh before leaving… Continue reading

Standard
4 Stars, A.F. Henley, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: The Chase and the Catch by A.F. Henley

Title: The Chase and the Catch

Author: A.F. Henley

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 192 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: After one of his fans committed suicide, John lost everything: lover, confidence, drive. When he is given a chance to get back on his feet, he is happy to take it—even if it’s just writing an actor’s biography. It might not be romance, or even fiction, but it’s something, and there are worse people to work for than the charming, successful Parker Chase. Continue reading

Standard
A.F. Henley, Less Than Three Press

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Chase and the Catch by A.F. Henley

AF Henley_TCTC Blog Tour ImageI personally love excerpt and giveaway posts. For one thing, I have a hard time coming up with clever and interesting things to talk about. One can only poke one’s friends so often for ideas before said friends start telling you to leave them the heck alone. For another, it’s the story I like to hope we’re all here for… what’s it about? Who are the main characters? What is it these characters want to tell us with their story?

That being said, there’s not a lot of fun in reading the same post over and over again. So, I thought what might be cool is taking the opportunity to, one post at a time, introduce the characters of The Chase and The Catch to you. Continue reading

Standard