5 Stars, JP Kenwood, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Games of Rome by JP Kenwood

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Title: Games of Rome (Dominus: Book Two)

Author: JP Kenwood

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 339 Pages

At a Glance: If you love a plotty and well written historical with plenty of intrigue and interesting characters, I can’t recommend this series enough.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: In this sequel to Dominus, Gaius Fabius Rufus, the victorious general of Rome’s brutal Dacian Wars, finds his loyalties and his affections pulled in different directions. Should he return to Rome and secure his claim to the imperial throne, or remain at his seaside villa and protect his pleasure slave, the fierce Dacian prince, Allerix? Retaliation for the murder of his beloved friend beckons him home, but his desire for justice could put both him and Allerix in mortal danger. As Gaius’s deceptions multiply, another tragedy strikes. Will the Lion of the Lucky IV Legion be forced to sacrifice his besotted heart to achieve his aspirations for supreme power?

Every moment since Allerix’s violent capture has tested the young prince’s fortitude and cunning. If he can kill the triumphant emperor who decimated his Dacian nation, revenge and immortality will be his glorious, everlasting rewards. But to realize his scheme for vengeance, he must deceive the Roman master whose body he lusts, the handsome, arrogant man whom he has grown to adore and admire. Can two former enemies—the conqueror and the conquered—find trust and true love, or are the consequences of war destined to tear them apart? Can Gaius and Allerix survive the perilous games of Rome?

Dominus is a plot-packed erotic m/m fantasy set in ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117). Games of Rome is the second book in this alternative history saga—a tumultuous journey of forbidden love, humor, sex, friendship, political intrigue, deception, and murder.

Dividers

Review: I love when a book meets every one of my expectations. I love even more when a book exceeds them, and JP Kenwood’s Games of Rome does just that in every way. I was so impressed by the author’s Dominus, and now, that book’s sequel has proven Kenwood’s talent for solid storytelling, building beautiful settings, offering the perfect amount of historical context, creating engaging and layered characters, and tapping into readers’ emotions. I don’t mind admitting this book wrung a few tears from me either. When an author can accomplish that, forming those sorts of attachments between reader and characters, it makes the reading all the more rewarding.

Gaius Fabius Rufus, the Lion of the Lucky Fourth, is many things–Commander, war hero, husband, master, and friend and former lover of Lucius Petronius. Where this book exceeded my expectations is not only that the historical setting is portrayed in such a way that grounds the reader in what feels like an authentic Ancient Rome, but that the book also is a compelling mystery–both in the past and in modern day Rome. Lucius’s murder becomes a central focus of Games of Rome as we watch Gaius grieve, promise retribution, seek absolution while often seeming a walking contradiction–warm and tender one moment, cold and commanding the next, charming and sometimes cruel. Gaius is nothing if not a mercurial man whose arrogance seems to know no bounds–if I’m being honest, he isn’t always easy to like–but is tempered by that ability to charm. Where the book offers a bit of the unexpected, however, is in its supernatural elements. This was so unexpected that I wasn’t certain how I felt about it at first, but it was woven into the storyline in such a way that became integral to the plot, and now I can’t imagine how the story would have been better without it. As for the modern day mystery, this is being teased out in the tiniest of morsels, and this installment has only served to pique my interest even more. Archeology uncovers its share of secrets from the past, though it doesn’t always provide answers. There are definitely more questions than answers right now surrounding the pair of skeletons discovered at a dig site, and I haven’t a clue what JP Kenwood will reveal in further storylines. All I know for sure is that the author baited that hook and I’m hanging on gladly.

From the Emperor to clients to slaves, Gaius has a life filled with a variety of diverse people and experiences, all entrenched in the Ancient Roman culture and portrayed beautifully in these books. I don’t know much about this historical period but can say Kenwood seems to have not only an interest in but an affinity for the era. Ancient Rome dominated, it was the seat of some of the world’s most impressive art and architecture, and the Romans were responsible for many advancements in civilization at the time, but, to our sensibilities, it was also a barbaric time in which people sat in arenas and watched prisoners of war be eaten for sport. Slavery was commonplace – both household servants and pleasure slaves, male and female, owned by both Gaius and his wife, Marcia – and these books feature several prominent slaves in key roles. Sex, for Gauis, is a near sport in itself, where he can display his prowess and dominance and, with one slave in particular, his benevolence, and those moments of contradictory cruel tenderness come to the fore. Alle, a Dacian prince, war prize, and now, Gaius’s most prized possession, has captured his Dominus’s heart and has added another dimension of intrigue to the plot. Their relationship is fraught with complications and questions and potential hazards. Can either of these men manage not to betray each other? I can hardly see how it will be avoided and am anxious to see how their relationship progresses.

One of the more interesting characteristics of this series is Gaius’s marriage, as well as the social contradiction of men having sex with other men. There is no expectation of monogamy in the marriage as is certainly portrayed on Gaius’s part; nor is bisexuality strictly taboo. It was, however, unacceptable for men to engage in a sexual relationship with a peer. Same sex encounters were left strictly between slave and master, which is what adds such a poignant end note to Gaius and Lucius’s affair. I love that these books are informative but not in a textbook way. The author weaves these small details into the plot in a way that makes them all the more interesting, and, when it comes down to it, makes this series unique in the LGBT fiction genre.

If you love a plotty and well written historical with plenty of intrigue and interesting characters, I can’t recommend this series enough.

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You can buy Games of Rome here:

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4 Stars, Amy Rae Durreson, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Lord Heliodor’s Retirement by Amy Rae Durreson

Title: Lord Heliodor’s Retirement (A Daily Dose 2015 Story)

Author: Amy Rae Durreson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 52 Pages

At a Glance: A sweet and sentimental story of second chances for two men approaching their golden years.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Unlikely hero Lord Adem Heliodor saved his queen’s life during the Screaming, a magical attack on his city, but his broken nerves have forced him into an unwanted early retirement to his country estate. Adem thinks his life is over, but retirement holds some surprises. First, there’s his new librarian, who turns out to be not just the first love he thought was dead, but also someone surprisingly knowledgeable about political intrigue. Then there’s the assassin in the orchard and the discovery that the Screaming was just the first attack on the city.

Dividers

Review: Amy Rae Durreson is one of “those” authors for me, those few authors we all have on our auto-read lists whose books we’ll pick up without even bothering to read the blurb. I first discovered her in 2013 when she wrote a short novel for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s free reading event, “Don’t Read in the Closet”. That story is called The Lodestar of Ys, and if you’re a member of the group, and someone who happens to love High Fantasy, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you to read this book.

But, before I get too far off track, this is how Ms. Durreson’s contribution to the 2015 Daily Dose anthology ended up on my Kindle, and why I will continue to read her work, sight unseen.

Lord Heliodor’s Retirement is a sentimental story with bittersweet undertones. In a departure from the usual M/M fare, Adem Heliodor is not an oversexed twenty-something man, but a fifty-six year old servant of the crown who has been forced into retirement because, in his service to the queen, he has suffered a terrible blow that not only left him with post-traumatic stress but also unable to control his emotional outbursts.

When the queen was attacked by a magical curse called the Screaming, Lord Heliodor may have saved Her Majesty but in having done so, has suffered the consequences of his bravery. Involuntarily retired to his familial country estate, Adem is feeling unsure of himself and rather resentful of his unemployable status. But, it’s his arrival at Worldham that will set him on a new course and on a path to healing the psychological damage he’s suffered.

In a resurrection worthy of Lazarus, Corun Larkspur has returned from the dead. Or, at least he was reported dead during the war that separated him and Adem some thirty-plus years ago. Corun has now secured himself a place as the librarian at Worldham, cataloguing and organizing the rather impressive collection of books in the estate’s library, and though their initial meeting is less than auspicious, things do take a turn for the better for Adem and Cory. And here is where I must say that while the fact Cory is now a librarian might have been enough to make me love him immediately, Durreson makes him all the more loveable in his tenacity and patience, and obvious loving and generous nature toward Adem.

While decades have passed and both men have changed, neither having spent those thirty years stagnating in the muck of loss and regret, but neither having found a love like the first love they shared either, this story’s sentimentality is firmly rooted in lost time and opportunity and second chances—those years unable to be regained but the feelings still buried close enough to the surface to give a man hope that a new beginning may be possible.

The connection between Adem and Cory is rebuilt rather quickly, which is a necessity dictated by the length requirements for this anthology, and while I felt at least half as many more pages would have served to better flesh-out both the characters and their relationship with each other, their charm and the obvious attraction that still lingered each for the other was both evident and believable.

In a climax where the danger of magic returns once again to threaten queen and country, Adem has the opportunity to become not only his own hero in this story but Cory’s as well, which goes a long way toward his ability to overcome the psychological scars he’s carried for so long. Again, while the ending was satisfying and sweet and romantic, I felt things were resolved rather handily, but those niggles aside, Lord Heliodor’s Retirement is a lovely novella that shows us the truest and strongest magic is, yes, love.

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You can buy Lord Heliodor’s Retirement here:

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Cover Reveal, Michael Kudo, Self-Published

Cover Reveal: Sequestered Hearts by Michael Kudo

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Title: Sequestered Hearts
Author: Michael Kudo
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 206 Pages (est.)
Cover Artist: Taryn Plendl
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Categories: Alt History, M/M Romance
Purchase Links: To Be Announced

Blurb: After the Riots at Stonewall, a major political movement took place which resulted in Gays/Lesbians becoming slaves.

Colton Taylor was born with every advantage – except parents who are there for him. His father and mother are constantly absent because they’re keeping up on the family business (orange and honey plantation), and when they are around they nitpick at him and make him feel like he’s only a tool to further their family’s legacy.

Colton has no problems with the slaves his family owns. He doesn’t care if they’re gay or lesbian; to him they’re just people. One day he meets an interesting slave named Oliver, and the two hit it off. Eventually they start hanging out (in secret) and a relationship blossoms.

Colton knows if his father was to ever find out it would spell trouble, but he can’t stay away from the only person who makes him feel special and loved. Even if it means giving up everything he has. Because love is all that matters. And it always finds a way.

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5 Stars, Bey Deckard, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Fated: Blood and Redemption by Bey Deckard

Title: Fated: Blood and Redemption

Author: Bey Deckard

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

At a Glance: If it’s a measure of how well I loved this series to say it’s one I’ll read again once its end has had a chance to settle, then consider Fated, and the entire series, well loved.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: With the captain’s mind in shambles, Jon and Tom set out to find the passage home through the black mountain range, hoping to find a cure for Baltsaros’s madness. However, when the men are forced to part ways, darkness takes root in the schism created; fate, lust, and vengeance become obsessions threatening to tear apart the fragile bonds holding the three together.

Following on the heels of Sacrificed, Fated takes the pirates on a quest to find those responsible for the captain’s bloody beginnings. But can they survive what awaits them where past and present meet?

Dividers

Review: Sometimes starting a review is not only hard but pretty damned intimidating, especially when you harbor such a fondness for a series you’re afraid you can’t do it the justice it deserves…other than telling people just to read the books. I guess a reviewer’s job is the “why” of it, though, so here it goes:

The characters—Captain Baltsaros, Tom, and Jon: One a charming, ruthless and deadly pirate; one a former slave born into nobility, cheeky and irresistible; one an innocent young man kidnapped to be used as a tool of the Captain’s bidding, strong and at the same time, vulnerable. What makes these characters special is their individual charisma. Apart, they are a trichotomy—three individual pieces of a puzzle that perhaps shouldn’t fit together; together, however, they are a troika, an interworking of want and need that works as the completion of a relationship which must have Jon at its center for balance. He is the hinge for Baltsaros, for Tom, and at the intersection he plays the important role of not only loving both men but helping them learn how to love each other, to overcome their own insecurity and jealousy.

The journey these men take isn’t always measured in nautical miles but in milestones which draw them closer together and sometimes threaten to tear them apart. Fated: Blood and Redemption is the completion of the trilogy and marks the turning point where the Captain must freely offer of himself in order to bring deliverance to Jon, Tom, and, ultimately, to himself. Fated has an almost dreamlike quality to it, alternating between the past and the present, and steering readers through the psychological stigmata which threatens Baltsaros’s sanity, not to mention affecting both Jon and Tom in myriad ways. Is Fate at play in this story, are these men simply ghosts in the machine? Is every action, reaction, and decision—regardless of how well planned or impulsive—destined to bring these men through hell and spit them out on the other side as if they had no real choice at all? It would seem so. And through it all, they fuck and fight with intensity, as they have from the beginning, part of what makes these books so fantastic, that visceral tension that runs between the three of them.

The Adventure—This series is cleverly crafted Alt U/Fantasy, a bit of swashbuckling, a bit of mysticism, and so captivating because it’s not only original but draws one in emotionally as well. Each time Baal’s Heart sets sail, these men are affected by that journey, and, on the flip-side, these men affect each journey they undertake. It’s impossible not to become invested in the relationship these men have built, to grin madly at Tom and to sympathize with all three of them, and while the books aren’t necessarily romances, there is a romanticism to them: the idea of each loving two men for different but no less powerful reasons, living by their own rules and answering to no one but themselves and those they’ve chosen to keep close.

Fated brings the trilogy full-circle, the end is the beginning, and one can only assume the cycle will continue for these passionate men until the end of their days together. If it’s a measure of how well I loved this series to say it’s one I’ll read again once its end has had a chance to settle, then consider Fated, and the entire series, well loved.






You can buy Fated: Blood and Redemption here:

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Bey Deckard, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Character Interview With Captain Baltsaros, Tom, and Jon – The Baal’s Heart series by Bey Deckard

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In what I can assure you is one of the most interactive interviews ever done here at The Novel Approach, I’m happy to bring Bey Deckard to you today. Or, rather, Captain Baltsaros, Tom, and Jon of the pirate ship Baal’s Heart, in anticipation of the April 11, 2015 release of Fated: Blood and Redemption, Book Three of the Baal’s Heart trilogy.

There’s a reason Caged and Sacrificed made my list of Best Reads of 2014, not the least of which is the charm of the three characters who make this series all it is. To know them truly is to love them.

So, without further ado, here they are, the captain, Tom, and Jon.

Dividers

TNA: Gentlemen, thanks to you for agreeing to answer a few questions for me. I have to confess to feeling a bit intimidated by this interview, so let’s start with an easy question and see where it goes from there.

Will you introduce yourselves (or each other) to the readers who may not know you yet?

B: *laughs* There’s no need to feel intimidated, my dear. I assure you that we’re all on our best behaviour. *leans forward in his chair* Lisa, is it? May I call you Lisa?

TNA: Oh, Captain… you may call me anything you wish, but Lisa will do just fine. *winks*

T: *chuckles but stops at a look from the captain*

B: *inclining his head in a little bow* Lisa, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m Captain Baltsaros, captain of the pirate ship Baal’s Heart. We’re honoured to have been invited to speak with you. *smiles and leans back, hands clasped loosely in his lap* Now… let me introduce you to the two young men I have with me. On my left, trying to affect an air of disinterest, is Jon. More recently, Captain Jon Black.

J: *laughs* Well… Not captain anymore, but thank you for that. Pleased to meet you, Lisa. I’m not acting “disinterested”. I’m just… well, I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be saying.

T: Yer supposed to say yer how-do-ye-do’s, love. Then ye bloody answer all the nice lady’s questions smartly, like a good lad… aye? *shifts in place patting at his trousers looking for something*

J: *rolls eyes* Don’t mind Tom. He’s chafing a little because the captain made him put on a shirt.

T: *snorts*

B: A little decorum goes a long way, Tom. Lisa, I apologize for my first mate. Though he’s the only one of us with legitimate noble beginnings, he enjoys playing the savage.

T: Thomas Hinchliffe of Averdown the Fourth. *side eyes Baltsaros before looking back at Lisa* Pleased to make yer acquaintance, I’m sure. How’s that for bloody decorum?

J: *choking* What? Where in the hells did that come from?

B: *laughs*

T: It’s my bloody name, ducky. *finds what he was looking and pulls a match out of his pocket*

J: I’m sorry, but you hate it when your mother calls you anything but Tom. The look you gave her—wait, the fourth? So your dad was… Ohh… is that why you don’t like being called… *trails off at a scowl from Tom*

T: D’ye mind if I smoke here, lovey? *pulls a slim cigar out from behind his ear and holds it up*

TNA: *gapes* Erm… well… *clears throat* Yes, please, be my guest.

Jon, Tom, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance as well. Tom, I had no idea you were a member of the nobility. *desperately shuffles notes* And Jon, he doesn’t like to be called what? You can’t just leave readers hanging like that. I mean, you can, but you won’t… will you?

J: Oh, well he just doesn’t like it when his mother calls him “Thomas”. I figured it’s just because he likes being an ass, but… it’s got to do with your dad, right? *furrows brows as he looks at Tom*

T: Aye, the name don’t sit right with me for a couple’a reasons, love, that bein’ one of them. The gutless bastard that put me in my ma’s belly is Lord Thomas. I’m no coward like he was. Let’s just stick with Tom, aye? *holds the match to the end of his cheroot and puffs it to get it lit, then goes to drop it on the ground but stops at a soft noise from the captain*

Sorry. *balances the charred match on his knee*

B: *shakes his head and hands Tom the cup of water he’d been drinking from to use as an ashtray* We seem to have hijacked your interview, Lisa. Apologies,please… continue.

TNA: How are all three of you doing after your last adventure, especially you, Captain?

B: I’m recovering, thank you. *the words are said politely, but his expression is a little grim, and Tom and he share a look*

J: *staring down at his hands, face pale* Fine.

T: Aye, we’re fine, missy. It ain’t peaches and rainbows, but we’re gettin’ on the way we do.

B: Indeed we are. *the look he gives Jon is both worried and fond, and Jon lifts his head with a wan smile when he notices Baltsaros watching*

TNA: What are some things you know for sure about the three of you that you didn’t know even a few months ago?

J: *brightens* Tom’s name for one…

T: Don’t make me regret I told ye. *the words are a playful growl, and he blows out a plume of smoke*

J: *laughs* Ok… Sorry, Lisa. Let me think… Things we know for sure… Ummm. Do you mean things we learned about ourselves? Or about each other?

TNA: *grins* Please, do you think I ever have this much fun doing interviews? So, how about if we say a little of both? The roles have changed a bit for all three of you, in your relationship as well as on board ship, yeah? Are you all three comfortable with where you are now, especially in, shall we say, private?

J: Oh. *face reddening a little, he scrubs a hand through his curls and glances over at Tom*

T: For lord’s sake, love! It’s not like she’s askin’ to see yer pecker. *laughs*

TNA: Well, a lady would never ask, but a woman… There’s no telling what we’re apt to ask for. *grins*

J: *stares wide-eyed at Lisa for a moment, then his face splits into a self-conscious grin as he looks down at his hands, slowly shredding the hem of his shirt.*

B: *smirks at Jon and then turns to Lisa with a graceful smile* Things have… changed, yes. I think it’s fair to say that the roles we have both in public and private have shifted in just the past year. While Tom remains my first mate, he and I are much closer thanks to Jon. Jon’s role aboard changed following my… ah… mental lapse, and he continues to function as a failsafe for me in his role of quartermaster. *his smile becomes a little self-conscious* I now know for certain that I obviously need to relinquish control more oft—

T: Ha!

B: —en. *shakes his head at Tom, but he’s still smiling.*

J: I know that both of you learned basic human concepts like “trust” and “lo—

T: Bloody hells! Why d’ye two have to be so fuckin’ meaningful all the godsdamned time? *laughs and then leans forward in his chair, brow furrowed and blue-green eyes mischievous* Lisa, lovey, what I know for certain now that wasn’t bloody apparent before… is that Jon, feeble li’l fucker that he once was, is a right demon when it comes to givin’ me a deep dickin’—

J: Tom!

B: *sits back looking amused*

T: Lemme finish, lad. The lady asked for private, so I’m givin’ her bloody private, savvy? Sorry… where was I? Aye… when Jon’s balls-deep, he can be a real devil, every bit o’ rough that my da is and—*looks over at Baltsaros with a grin*—Da here, can be every bit o’ soft that Jonny-boy can be. It’s a bloody miracle, as far as I’m concerned. If ye ask me, I’m the one who got the best out of this deal. What d’ye think, love? *winks at Lisa*

TNA: Me? *laughs* I think you just changed me from a lady to a woman with one answer, you charming scoundrel. *winks back*

T: *waggles his brows and slouches back in this chair, puffing on the end of his cigar*

B: So, Tom, you’re saying that what you just said isn’t “meaningful”? *chuckles*

T: *shoots a look at Baltsaros, and for a moment the two men just smile at each other*

TNA: *stares* Uh, okay, assuming it can get a little stir crazy spending so much time on board ship, what’s your favorite way to blow off steam?

*All three laugh, and Jon goes an even darker shade of red*

T: C’mon, lad. You tell ‘er, since yer so bloody keen on torturin’ me lately…

J: *looks over at Baltsaros, but when the captain nods in encouragement, it looks like Jon wants to disappear into his chair* Uh… *rubs his face* Ok. Well… the long table in the stateroom got wrecked in the fight against the Reaper—long story *waves it away*… anyway, we had it up on crates at first, but then we found a replacement on our way home, and we had nowhere to put the old one. It just ended up propped against the wall… We were just going to throw it overboard, but one night I was telling Tom about what we called the “begging cross” in the dungeon I used to work in—I was a sort of interrogator in a dungeon in Portsmouth for my—

B: Jon, stay on the subject.

J: *breathes deep with a small nod, one hand picking nervously at the front of his tunic* Tom built a fair replica of a begging cross—it’s really just a big X—with the pieces of the old table and bolted it into the floor of our quarters. *glances over at Tom* And… well… now instead of spending time in the brig like he used to every time he gets into trouble… we tie him to the cross instead so we can take turns… at… *looks at Lisa and falters*

T: *starts to laugh*

J: Hey, you’re the one who’s been doing everything he can to get tied to the fucking thing, why do I have to talk about it?

T: Because ye turn a lovely shade o’ pink, lovey, and it makes my cock hard hearin’ ye speak words that do it to ye.

B: *brow cocked in amusement* Our first mate also took it onto himself to bring some new toys aboard… They’ve proven to be an excellent source of divertissement. Especially coupled with the cross. Tom, do you want me to tell our lovely host exactly what it was that Jon and I were doing that had you begging so charmingly last night?

T: *looking a little abashed, he shakes his head then focuses on Lisa* So what was that next question, lass? Did ye ask it? Can ye ask it?

J: *laughs* turnabout it fair play.

TNA: *fans self – reaches over and pats Tom’s hand* No worries, Tom, I knew that would be a, shall we say, loaded question. I also knew the answer would be a lot of fun. I’ll ask the next question, but pardon me if I seem a bit distracted from here out. My imagination… Oy.

T: *grins crookedly*

TNA: If you were each to write his own memoir, what would the titles of your books be?

B: I think mine would have to have something of madness in it *chuckles* but what about Of Monsters and Maelstroms: The Voyages of Captain Baltsaros?

*Jon and Tom both laugh*

T: Sounds like ye been thinkin’ o’ that for a while, aye? So ye gonna write a bloody memoir?

J: *helpless laughter* Oh gods… emphasis on the bloody

B: *for a moment something like anger crosses his face, but then he joins in on the laughter*

T: Ok… I think… if I were to put my life to paper… it’d be somethin’ like… uhhh—

J: Fucking and Fighting or Hungover and Horny

T: *grinning wide* D’ye see why I love Jonny-boy here so fuckin’ much? He bloody knows me.

B: What about you, Jon?

J: Me? I have no idea. Why would I want to write about what’s happened to me in my life? *he suddenly looks a little withdrawn*

T: *drops his cigar in the cup of water, gets up from his chair, and puts his arms around Jon’s shoulders to bury his face in the side of Jon’s neck*

J: *eyes closed, he listens to the words rumbled against his skin by the first mate and gives a little nod, his brow smoothing out*

B: *watches the exchange and then turns to Lisa with an apologetic smile* Jon’s memoir would be called something like The Burden of Trust.

J: *lets out a small, bitter-sounding laugh*

T: *instead of returning to his chair, Tom sits cross-legged on the floor in front of Jon’s*

TNA: Oh my… well, on that note, last question, gentlemen – can you give us a wee hint as to what your next journey will be? Just a little tease?

*Jon and the captain share a long look*

B: For now? We are heading to Madierus. I’m afraid it’s not a very interesting answer… but I’ve promised Jon that we won’t budge for a little while. Then, once we’re rested and tired of staying in one place, we’ll see.

T: Aye, we’ll see… see how long it takes for Abetha to drive us all bloody mad. Oh, that’s a thought: we could write a memoir together and call it Three Madmen in a Leaky Tub 

B: Baal’s Heart has yet to leak.

T: Aye, but the bloody state of her… unseemly with all them patches.

B: *frowns and nods thoughtfully* We’ll have plenty of time for repairs once we get to Madierus.

TNA: So you’re just going home?

J: *smiles softly, his grey-blue eyes soulful as his fingers stroke the side of Tom’s neck* Nah. Madierus is just… a break. It’ll never be home. Home is the Heart. It’s Baltsaros and Tom and me together. That’s home.

Now, if that’s all the questions… I think it’s actually time to be getting home now. I’m sorry that it got a little serious there. You have to understand that we’ve been through somewhat of an ordeal, and things have been a little rough.

I want to thank you for having us, and I hope you’ll have us again one day.

B: Yes, it was a definitely a pleasure, Lisa. I’ll be sure to send you a letter, should we find ourselves heading for strange waters. *his smile is friendly, and he bobs his head in a quick, charming bow*

T: If ye ever want to come sail with us, I’m sure I could find ye some room, lovey. Just let o’ Tom know. *he winks and quickly pulls Lisa’s knuckles to his mouth for a brief, rough-stubbled peck*

TNA: *gasps* Tom, you are a wicked scoundrel. And I can assure you, gentlemen, the pleasure was entirely mine.

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Fated(200x300)Blurb: With the captain’s mind in shambles, Jon and Tom set out to find the passage home through the black mountain range, hoping to find a cure for Baltsaros’s madness. However, when the men are forced to part ways, darkness takes root in the schism created; fate, lust, and vengeance become obsessions threatening to tear apart the fragile bonds holding the three together.

Following on the heels of Sacrificed, Fated takes the pirates on a quest to find those responsible for the captain’s bloody beginnings. But can they survive what awaits them where past and present meet?

Pre-Order Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble

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Bey Deckard, Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal and Exclusive Excerpt – Fated: Blood and Redemption (Baal’s Heart III)

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Title: Fated: Blood and Redemption
Series: Baal’s Heart
Author: Bey Deckard
Cover Artist: Bey Deckard
Release Date: April 11th, 2015
Word Count: 117 000+
Pre-Order Now: Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
Goodreads Link: Fated

Blurb: With the captain’s mind in shambles, Jon and Tom set out to find the passage home through the black mountain range, hoping to find a cure for Baltsaros’s madness. However, when the men are forced to part ways, darkness takes root in the schism created; fate, lust, and vengeance become obsessions threatening to tear apart the fragile bonds holding the three together.

Following on the heels of Sacrificed, Fated takes the pirates on a quest to find those responsible for the captain’s bloody beginnings. But can they survive what awaits them where past and present meet?

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Excerpt: Tom gave Jon a faint smile as he took his place behind the ship’s wheel. Pitching the bastard overboard wasn’t what was bothering him; the man’s life or death hadn’t concerned him in the least… though being ripped apart by those things sure made for a good tale to tell. No, it was the way that Jon’s voice had taken on the same cold, precise tones that so often fell from Baltsaros’s lips. Even his accent had changed a little. Tom shook his head and tightened his hands on the handles without a word.

“You’re worried about me,” said Jon softly.

Frowning, the first mate nodded, keeping his eyes forward.

“Don’t be worried about me, Tom,” said the young captain.

Chewing the inside of his cheek for a second, Tom nodded again.

“We ready?” he asked gruffly. He looked over at Jon and saw that he was staring at him with an odd expression on his face.

“I’m not turning into him,” said Jon. “If that’s what you’re worried about.”

Tom shrugged and turned the wheel a little back and forth, impatient to get going.

“Ye bloody sounded just like him, Jon.”

When Jon reached for him, he wasn’t expecting the sudden, sharp pain in his scalp as his fingers snarled a wicked handful of Tom’s hair and tugged his head back. Jon brought his face close, his storm-grey eyes furious.

“You wanted me to be captain, so I am being captain. It is not easy for me, but I am fucking doing it the only way I know how,” Jon growled through clenched teeth. “If you don’t like it, you can go fuck yourself. And… What makes you think you can go behind my back and string up passengers without my say-so?”

Tom opened his mouth to speak, but Jon’s hand tightened its hold, and he let out a pained grunt instead.

“The issue should have been brought to me first. Me. The captain. Isn’t that how it works on this fucking ship? No. Instead you go around terrorizing people and then suddenly come dump the problem in my lap with no warning, putting me on the godsdamned spot to figure out what sort of punishment fits the crime. I had no idea what to say… Shit, how do you think that makes me look in front of the crew? Half of them still see me as some kind of fucking bed warmer for you and Baltsaros.”

Jon gave Tom’s head a little shake, and he winced.

“You need to work with me, Tom. Not against me. Godsdammit, you know Punga could have sat, not hung, in the brig for another day or two, and we could have taken care of things together. And, for hell’s sake, you ass, of course I was going to pull him out of the water. I saw that look on your face, Tom. I’m not a godsdamned killer. I’ve killed three men now, and I’m pretty damned sure it’s not going to become a hobby. I don’t want to see you doubt me like that again. Understand?” He let go of Tom and stood glaring him.

Tom rubbed the back of his head.

“Yes, Cap’n,” he said sedately with a small nod. Then Tom let the grin he’d been holding back curve his lips and cocked his head. “Feel better?”

Jon’s face creased into a sheepish smile, and he chuckled, nodding.

“Much,” he confessed. “Gods, I am not cut out for this shit.”

Tom shook his head.

“Naw, love. I think yer doin’ just fine. Yer bloody right, ye know. I should stop worryin’ about you so much, and I should’a come to ye the second that red-haired witch came to see me.”

“Ceara came to you?” Jon heaved a sigh and raked both his hands through his mess of curls. “Argh! Fuck. Ok. I’ll take care of her too. If she’s trying to win me over, she sure as hells is taking the wrong path. I can’t stand the idea that people would take things like this into their own hands rather than bother me. Bother me, for fuck’s sake. I know I’m stressed as fuck, but bloody hells, how else am I going to learn?”

Tom grinned wider at Jon’s increased use of profanity.

Jon furrowed his brow and leaned forward, his blue eyes dark in the dying sunlight as he studied Tom for a long moment. When he finally spoke, his voice was low and intimate.

“What? You think this is amusing? Just so you know, if you get us through these mountains in one piece, I plan on using you so thoroughly that the only words left to you will be please and more.”

The first mate blinked, a sudden pulse of heat taking him as his heart kicked up in surprise. He laughed and Jon smiled back a little wolfishly.

“Aye, aye, sir,” Tom said and eagerly grabbed the ship’s wheel again.

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Author BioAuthor Bio: Born and raised in a small coastal town in northern Québec, Bey spent his early summers on his uncle’s boat and running wild on the beaches of the surrounding islands, lighting fires and building huts out of driftwood and fishermen’s nets. As an adult, he eventually made his way to university and earned a degree in Art History with a strong focus on Anthropology. Primarily a portrait painter and graphic artist, Bey sat down one day and decided to write about the two things that he felt most passionate about: sex and the sea.

Bey currently lives in the wilds of Montréal with his best buddy, a spotty pit bull named Murphy.

Links: Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Google+ | Amazon

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Dreamspinner Press, Vicktor Alexander

Guest Post and Giveaway: Groom of Convenience by Vicktor Alexander

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Line? What Line? I Don’t See No Freakin’ Line

First of all I want to thank the Novel Approach for having me here today. Yay!! I’m so excited to be on this site. Everything’s so shiny. –touches everything- -breaks a vase- I’m totally going to pay for that. Promise.

Anyway. When I talked to Lisa about doing a blog post for the site, especially since I wanted to feature my newest release, Groom Of Convenience, I told her, honestly, that I had no idea what to write about. When she suggested that I write about the book, its characters, and why I liked to shake things up a bit in the romance genre with creative settings, storylines and characters, I knew that she understood me. I also knew that I had definitely found my blog topic. Continue reading

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Bey Deckard, Self-Published

Interview and Giveaway: Sacrificed: Heart Beyond the Spires by Bey Deckard

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TNA: Hi, Bey, welcome back to The Novel Approach, it’s great to have you here with us today. Let’s talk a little bit about Sacrificed. Have you modeled Captain Baltsaros after any one particular pirate, or is he more an amalgamation of the entire piratical lore? Or, would you say he’s entirely unique among pirates, real or fictional?

Bey: Well, he has Captain Kidd’s style, became pirate-by-mutiny like Capt. Jack Avery aka “The King of Pirates”, has the sadistic, bloodthirstiness of Francois l’Olonnais (pirate fun fact: he was rumoured to have eaten an enemy’s heart), and the ruthless iron-fist rule of Ching Shih (pirate fun fact: Ching Shih’s husband, Zengh Yi, was bisexual and adopted a young man to cover up the fact that they were lovers. Ching Shih eventually became lovers with the young man after her husband’s death, and he became her second-in-command).
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5 Stars, Bey Deckard, Erotica, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Sacrificed: Heart Beyond the Spires by Bey Deckard

Title: Sacrificed: Heart Beyond the Spires

Author: Bey Deckard

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 380 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Reunited once more, the crew of Baal’s Heart must make the long and treacherous journey south to the towering spires of the Devil’s Isles. The path through the mountain range is fraught with peril; mayhem and tragedy plague the pirate ship, but what the men find beyond the spires is the most shocking of all.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Historical Romance, R. Cooper, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

R. Cooper Re-imagines The Civil War In “Wicklow’s Odyssey”

“We will protect that which we love, even when we don’t want to love it and we don’t feel it loves us. Perhaps it doesn’t. That is how love works. It exists, whether or not it is returned.” – R. Cooper


Title: Wicklow’s Odyssey

Author: R. Cooper

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Union soldier Wicklow Doyle is infiltrating enemy lines to set up new radio communications technology in Confederate-held Charleston when his location is betrayed. After sacrificing himself to get his team to safety, he’s on the lam, friendless in a hostile town. Determining who betrayed him without discovery by Confederate soldiers is dangerous, but Wicklow grew up in the slums of New York and knows how to handle himself. He isn’t expecting anyone on his team to return to help him, much less Alexander Rhoades. Continue reading

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K.A. Merikan, Self-Published

If You’re Going To Get “Stung”, This Is The Best Way To Do It



“The more hidden the venom, the more dangerous it is.” ― Marguerite de Valois


Do you find that you judge a book by its cover? The old adage says we’re not supposed to, but if you ask me, the cover of a book is like the curb appeal of a home—if the cover doesn’t make you want to stop and look to see what’s inside, you’re most likely going to move on to the next one. Well, let me tell you, whether you love the cover of this book (which I do), or find it only mildly intriguing, or you find it downright disturbing, what’s inside, I think, is well worth stopping in to take a peek.

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