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

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

Audio Gem

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Truth in the Dark

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 4 Hours and 40 Minutes

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

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: “I am not beautiful…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

You can buy Truth in the Dark here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

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Amy Lane, Queer Romance Month

Queer Romance Month: An Interview With Amy Lane

Queer-Romance-Month-2015

We at The Novel Approach are so pleased to have been able to play a role in the Queer Romance Month celebration. Today we bring you the one and only Amy Lane.

Enjoy!

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This mini-interview with Amy Lane is brought to you in support of Queer Romance Month. 

QRM runs throughout October, celebrating love stories in all shades of the rainbow in all shades of romance. Join us, and over a hundred LGBTQ+ authors and allies, for essays, flash-fiction and much, much more.

  1. Favourite queer romance

All Kinds of Tied Down– by Mary Calmes

  1. Favourite non-queer romance

The In Death series by J.D. Robb

  1. A queer romance you’d recommend to a newcomer

Matter of Time by Mary Calmes

  1. Recommend a book you love, but feel is under appreciated

Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale

5. Favourite queer romance hero

Cole McGinnis, from Rhys Ford’s Dirty series

  1. Favourite romance character

Whyborne from Jordan Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series

  1. A character from romance you identify with

Jory, from A Matter of Time

  1. Why is queer romance important to you?

Everybody deserves a happy ending. Everybody deserves respect. Nobody deserves to have to cut off a part of themselves to function in the world, and love should never be disregarded or marginalized.

  1. Tell us about your book(s)

I have three flavors– light contemporary, angsty contemporary, and angsty alternative universe–but one universal theme; Family is important– even if you have to forge one of your own.

10. What do you think is the future of queer romance?

I honestly think that as queer rights become more and more mainstream and accepted, the romance itself is going to look much more like het romance. The central conflicts aren’t going to be based around being queer– they’re going to be based around being in love. I think that’s what we want to happen–the stories shouldn’t be special because the characters are queer. They should be special because love really is an awesome thing to have in your life, and everybody should have a chance at it.

Amy’s contribution to Queer Romance Month – “In Search of the Golden Heart” – will be published on 22nd October.

“Rooting for a happy ending, seeing two people as humans and not a “lifestyle”, believing that love really is for everybody—these are powerful concepts.”

–Amy Lane

DividersAmy LaneAbout Amy: Amy Lane has four children, two cats, a love starved Chi-who-what, a crumbling mortgage and an indulgent spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and m/m romance–and if you give her enough diet coke and chocolate, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write. 

WebsiteFacebook • Twitter

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Bitter TaffyAbout Bitter Taffy: Rico Gonzalves-Macias didn’t expect to fall in love during his internship in New York—and he didn’t expect the boss’s son to out them both and get him fired either. When he returns to Sacramento stunned and heartbroken, he finds his cousin, Adam, and Adam’s boyfriend, Finn, haven’t just been house-sitting—they’ve made his once sterile apartment into a home.

When Adam gets him a job interview with the adorable, magnetic, practically perfect Derek Huston, Rico feels especially out of his depth. Derek makes it no secret that he wants Rico, but Rico is just starting to figure out that he’s a beginner at the really important stuff and doesn’t want to jump into anything with both feet.

Derek is a both-feet kind of guy. But he’s also made mistakes of his own and doesn’t want to pressure Rico into anything. Together they work to find a compromise between instant attraction and long-lasting love, and while they’re working, Rico gets a primer in why family isn’t always a bad idea. He needs to believe Derek can be his family before Derek’s formidable patience runs out—because even a practically perfect boyfriend is capable of being hurt. 

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

Sneak Peek

Greetings from somewhere over the US, everyone! :) I’m flying home from San Diego right now—I’m sure GRL was a lot of laughs. Just a guess since I’m typing this before I’ve even left home, but let’s just go with it, shall we?

Thanks so much for dropping in to see what we have in store for you in the coming week. In keeping with my apparent ability to predict the future, it’s sure to be a good one, with lots of great guests, giveaways, and more reviews to come.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – Kicking off this week, we’ll first be bringing you the exclusive cover reveal for author Garrett Leigh’s upcoming novel Between Ghosts

To add to that, we’ll also have author Santino Hassell here to chat about his new novel Stygian from Dreamspinner Press

Brita Addams also joins us today to chat about her newest historical novel Beloved Unmasked

Tuesday – We get to bring you another cover reveal today, as we help authors Piper Vaughn and Kenzie Cade show off the pretty artwork for their new novel Prickly By Nature

We’ll also have author A.M. Arthur dropping by on the tour for her new novel The World as He Sees It, so stay tuned for that

Wednesday – Author Anna Butler will be our guest as she tours the internet to chat about her new novel Heart Scarab

Thursday – Today we’ll be bringing you an exclusive interview with author Amy Lane as we continue to celebrate Queer Romance Month

We’ll also welcome author Thianna Durston today as she drops by TNA on her Drakyl Ranch: Discovery tour

Friday – And finally, to help us close out the week, we’ll have author Ethan Stone with us on the tour for his new book Closing Ranks

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And that does it for the week ahead. Until next Sunday, happy reading!

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4 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Bitter Taffy by Amy Lane

Title: Bitter Taffy (A Candy Man Book)

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 192 Pages

At a Glance: The happy-ever-after we are given was well worth the wait.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Rico Gonzalves-Macias didn’t expect to fall in love during his internship in New York—and he didn’t expect the boss’s son to out them both and get him fired either. When he returns to Sacramento stunned and heartbroken, he finds his cousin, Adam, and Adam’s boyfriend, Finn, haven’t just been house-sitting—they’ve made his once sterile apartment into a home.

When Adam gets him a job interview with the adorable, magnetic, practically perfect Derek Huston, Rico feels especially out of his depth. Derek makes it no secret that he wants Rico, but Rico is just starting to figure out that he’s a beginner at the really important stuff and doesn’t want to jump into anything with both feet.

Derek is a both-feet kind of guy. But he’s also made mistakes of his own and doesn’t want to pressure Rico into anything. Together they work to find a compromise between instant attraction and long-lasting love, and while they’re working, Rico gets a primer in why family isn’t always a bad idea. He needs to believe Derek can be his family before Derek’s formidable patience runs out—because even a practically perfect boyfriend is capable of being hurt.

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Review: In this, the second installment in the “Amy Lane does sweet romance with little angst” (aptly named Candy Man) series, Bitter Taffy picks up almost exactly where book one left off. Adam and Finn are still delightfully together and growing stronger, Darrin is still playing in his pixie Stick dust and taking care of the outcasts being sent his way, and Clopper is still the most delightfully goofy hound ever to grace the written page. Rico, Adam’s cousin/next-best-thing-to-a-brother, has returned home from New York, devastated after his affair with the boss’s closeted son is revealed. To make matters worse, when the two are confronted and Rico asks his lover to leave with him, the answer is no, and the closet door is slammed shut.

But the closet no longer has any appeal for Rico, and when he returns home, his life will be one fraught with the fearful decision to come out to his family—the same family that discarded Adam with such final brutality when he admitted he was gay. Now, with the prospect of a new job and a boss who has no qualms about letting Rico know he is interested in something beyond a working relationship, there are so many doubts swirling inside Rico he is unsure about his heart being able to find love again.

The strength of this series lies in the relationships that flow deep and sure at this novel’s core. Were it not for the family that surrounds Finn and Derek being so wonderfully funny and accepting, their characters would be nearly unbelievable in the way in which they tenaciously hold on to those elusive yet needy cousins, Adam and Rico. The idea that love and acceptance trumps deep-seated pain and narrow-mindedness is the overarching theme in this series. However, before you dismiss these stories as sweet little gumdrops of positivity, remember what author we are speaking of—Amy Lane. While this is admittedly her “feel-good” set of novels, they are by no means any less intelligently written, nor do they dismiss the way that a hateful past can continue to shape the future of her heroes.

Rico seems to have led a much easier life than Adam, only because he has hidden who he is and allowed his life to be shaped by a father who couldn’t care less about his happiness, and cares more about how his son appears to the world. With a mother who toed the line and took care to keep herself and her son out of her husband’s way, Rico knew little of real love and less of what it means to be happy inside his own skin. When Derek shows him how to have both, he is understandably wary and afraid of failing.

But the real treasure in these love stories is that the lovers remain invested and fight for the one they desire. Like Finn, Derek is not to be put off—he wants Rico and he will stay the course to land him. Even more, Derek genuinely cares for Rico and is willing to let him go if that is what must happen. The beauty of Bitter Taffy is the simple, sweet rhythm of discovering another person, and the slow blossoming of love that occurs. The only real drawback in this novel was that I felt Rico focused a bit too much on Adam and his happiness, and not enough on his own, initially. However, by novel’s end that had changed, and the happy-ever-after we are given was well worth the wait.

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You can buy Bitter Taffy here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Riptide Publishing

Review: The Deep of the Sound by Amy Lane

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Title: The Deep of the Sound (A Bluewater Bay Novel)

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 308 Pages

At a Glance: Simply put, this is a gorgeous story.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great-uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.

Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.

Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.

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Review: I was just going back through my notes and highlights, trying to decide where to begin with this review, but there are just SO many. So, so many memorable lines, moments, images, scenes… Amy Lane is one of my absolute favorite authors – a definite auto-buy – and The Deep of the Sound is another perfect example of why that is.

I’ll start out with Cal, who I love ridiculous amounts. First of all, Cal McCorkle is one of the best character names I’ve come across in a while. I loved it so much, in fact, that I went and researched it a bit. (I’m a dork. I know.) The full name, Calladh, or Caladh as you’ll see it frequently, is both Irish and Scottish – in this case, Scottish, as Cal’s dad was a Scot – and in the old Scottish it means…wait for it…Harbor. How perfect is that?!?! Trust me. It’s so perfect.

Cal’s very being is bound to the water; he finds his peace out on the Sound, fishing in his father’s dory every morning that he can. Sure it’s a necessity, he desperately needs the money from selling the fish he catches to keep his family afloat, but for him, it’s as much a necessity for his sanity as anything else. And Cal’s sanity is hanging precariously in the balance. Desperately trapped by duty, as the blurb suggests, Cal has almost completely lost himself.

I can’t imagine how strong Cal must have had to be to get through the last six years, taking care of his great uncle Nascha and his brother Keir. Living with someone with Alzheimer’s is not easy. Living with someone with the combination of mental illnesses that Keir has to deal with is not easy. Both of them together??? I can’t imagine. When Nascha is on his meds, he’s fantastic. He’s once again the dear uncle that Cal remembers from his childhood. Keir, on the other hand, is a handful, even on his cocktail of medications.

Keir’s problems are many, and complex, and Keir is very dark. I imagine he must have been a difficult character to write, but Amy wrote him with guts and honesty. He can be very intimidating and scary, yet at times also endearing. It’s no secret that he loves his family, but there were times when that darkness came through that it was extremely scary for poor Cal. He is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. So, when Avery Kennedy comes crashing into their lives, and almost immediately finds a way to connect and communicate with Keir, Cal can’t help but start to fall for him.

Avery is so wonderful. Just such a good egg. He’s sincere and driven and somewhat naïve, though charming and sweet. I love that he had the balls to get out of his horrible situation in LA, and simply decide to start his life over. There was nothing for him in his old life – shitty, uncaring parents and an asshat user of an ex-boyfriend – but he has everything to look forward to in Bluewater Bay. Especially when he meets Cal. Sigh. I love him and I love them together.

The writing in this book is spectacular. It’s heavy on the emotion, as you would expect from an Amy Lane book; it will absolutely tug on all of your feels. I just wanted to hug the shit out of Cal constantly. He and Avery get their moment, though, and the way that it all comes about in the end is pure perfection. The reverence with which Amy describes the Puget Sound, and her description of the fictional town, is also fantastic. The Puget Sound is an amazing place. Living in the area, I was particularly fond of the setting of this book. The Pacific Northwest truly IS breathtakingly beautiful, and Amy does a spectacular job of portraying its majesty.

The Deep of the Sound will stick with me for a long time. Cal and Avery, climbing out of their respective hopeless situations together, saving each other, will stick with me as well. Simply put, this was a gorgeous story.

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You can buy The Deep of the Sound here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Amy Lane, Giveaways, Riptide Publishing

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Deep of the Sound Blog Tour With Amy Lane

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The Novel Approach welcomes Amy Lane today on her The Deep of the Sound blog tour. Enjoy Amy’s guest post, then be sure to check out the tour-wide giveaway information below.

Good luck!

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Amy’s Adventures in the Pacific Northwest—Part 3

A Little Closer to Home ~ 

By Amy Lane 

My last two posts here and here talk about the Pacific Northwest, and I’ll get back there, but first I want to say a word or two about Cal’s fish.  If you look on the Riptide page with Deep of the Sound on it, you’ll see an excerpt that features Cal literally at war with nature.  Now, I don’t make any bones about being sort of an inside creature. I’m not great at gardening, and my husband laid down an edict that camping was going without cable so we don’t really do that either.  How in the world would I write a scene about the young man and the sea?

Well, in this case, it goes back to when I was a teenager, and my friend’s father used to take his daughter’s friends waterskiing.

Did I say I was awful at out of doors?  I was three times as bad waterskiing.  Oddly enough I was pretty good at swimming, and I didn’t mind being in lake or river.  But waterskiing? It was like trying to haul a wet sleeping bag out of the water and making it skip on the surface.  Except worse, because a wet sleeping bag didn’t expect to be fished out of the water six million times, right?

But oh, my friend’s father persevered.  He was a good guy—one of the best of men, actually—and he made it his mission one summer to see me actually skate on top of the water on skis.  One ski, two skis, hell, he would have tried six if he’d thought it would let me shout triumphantly from the back of the boat, but alas, nothing worked.

Until…

One summer, about two days before we supposed to go skiing on the Sacramento River, an article appeared in the Bee. A few miles downstream of where Ben was going to take us out, a fish had been caught. A 1000 lb. motherfucking sturgeon.

They showed a picture.

Have you ever seen a sturgeon?

Sturgeon

Seriously. Would you look at that giant prehistoric fucking fish?

*shudder*

I am absolutely serious when I tell you I spent no more time in the Sacramento River that summer than absolutely necessary. I was up on the first try, within seconds. Oh my God, there was nothing so awful as the idea of one of those things chewing on my feet.  And although my friend and her parents were thrilled not to be dragging a sodden sleeping bag around again all summer, the fact is, I’ve had a sort problem with being in water so murky that I can’t see my feet ever since.  It’s weird—I’ll be swimming along, doing fine—I’m like a hu-man-atee, I swear—and suddenly?  MUAHAHAHAHAHA.  Holy fuck, there’s a hideous thing down there and it’s going to eat me!  I spazz out completely, and my family can only watch in horrified fascination as I go fainting starfish on their asses and calm myself out of drowning.

So when I was reading up on the area, and I saw that there were green sturgeons in Puget Sound, I looked those beasties up.

They were, if anything, less attractive than their larger brothers.

Oh, holy lord, those things are protected? They’ve got spiny ridges on their backs that can rip through oilskins, and they need protection from us?

Oh there’s some irony right there.

And yeah. I’m sort of a sucker for irony. So if you’re ever so bored, click the link above and read about Cal’s fight with the ginormous fish, because that right there? That’s Amy’s favorite phobia, coming out to play.

I hope it’s as fun for you as it was for me!

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DeepOfTheSound_600x900Blurb: Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great-uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.

Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.

Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.

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Amy LaneAbout the Author: Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.

She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.

She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.

Connect with Amy: Website | Blog | Twitter: @amymaclane | Facebook group: Amy Lane Anonymous | Goodreads

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Giveaways

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for an eBook package of all of Amy Lane’s backlist titles with Riptide! (Excludes The Deep of the Sound and anthologies.) Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 20, 2015. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email address to your comment so we know how to contact you if you win!

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s A Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, and many thanks for stopping by to see what we have coming up at The Novel Approach in the coming week. The bottom line is: LOTS. We’ve got a really great roster of guests to bring you in the next six days, so here’s a look at what’s on tap.

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Monday – Author KJ Charles kicks off our week with a guest post and giveaway on the tour for her latest novel The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal

We’ll also have Amy Lane with us today as she tours the interwebs to chat about her new book in Riptide’s Bluewater Bay series, The Deep of the Sound

Tuesday – Dropping in today, we have author Devon McCormack joining us with a blog post I’m looking so forward to sharing with you, as he shares a bit about the beginning of his writing career

We’ll also have your favorite drakul and mine joining us today—yes, Gray—and his creator, Jordan L. Hawk, with a special interview to celebrate the new book in Series 2 of the SPECTR-verse, Mocker of Ravens

Wednesday – Author Leta Blake is our guest today on the Training Complex blog tour, to talk about keeping the drama on the page

Indra Vaughn also joins us with a special and quite personal blog post on her Fragmented blog tour

And, as if that weren’t fantastic enough company, we’ll also have authors Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin with us to chat about their new collaboration In the Distance

Thursday – Today we’ll be hosting Shira Anthony as she tours in promotion of her new book in the Mermen of Ea series, Running with the Wind

Author Perie Wolford also joins us with a giveaway of his new audiobook Encounter

FridayParker Williams will be our guest today to chat about the paranormal on the tour for his new novel Scent of the Heart

We’ll also welcome the organizers of next month’s Rainbow Con to tell you all a bit about the event

Saturday – And finally, to close out our week, we’ll have author Iyana Jenna joining us on the Just Desserts book blast tour

As well as author S. Joy P. to talk about her controversial new historical novel We, King Henry VIII

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And that puts an end to a busy week. Until next time, happy reading!

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair – Narrated by Philip Alces

Title: Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator: Philip Alces

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours and 30 Minutes

At a Glance: Philip Alces is a new narrator to me. He did an outstanding job of telling the story and defining the characters.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: After three years of waiting for “rabbit” Jeremy to commit to a life in Granby—and a life together—Aiden Rhodes was appalled when Jeremy sustained a nearly fatal beating to keep a friend out of harm’s way. How could Aiden’s bunny put himself in danger like that?

Aiden needs to get over himself, because Jeremy has a long road to recovery, and he’s going to need Aiden’s promise of love every step of the way. Jeremy has new scars on his face and body to deal with, and his heart can’t afford any more wounds.

When their friend’s baby needs some special care, the two men find common ground to firm up their shaky union. With Aiden’s support and his boss’s inspiration, Jeremy comes up with a plan to make sure Ariadne’s little blackbird comes into this world with everything she needs. While Jeremy grows into his new role as protector, Aiden needs to ease back on his protectiveness over his once-timid lover. Aiden may be a wolf in student’s clothing and Jeremy may be a rabbit of a man, but that doesn’t mean they can’t walk the wilds of Granby together.

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Review: Where to begin… If you have ever read Amy Lane, you expect and hope for certain things. She will make you laugh, cry, and cheer for her characters. Then she added my favorite band of all time, “The Beatles”, and one of my all-time favorite songs, “Blackbird”, and holy crap, that is a recipe for awesomeness.

Jeremy “rabbit” is in my top five Amy Lane characters. Who doesn’t love a broken soul put back together through family and the love of an amazing man? In the first book about Aiden and Jeremy, we got to see them fall in love, and to get to know the characters. This book was the journey that I never knew I needed or wanted. Amy delved into the inner workings of Jeremy, and more so, Aiden. In addition, all the characters had a big presence in this story. This wasn’t just Jeremy and Aiden’s story, it was just from Jeremy’s and Aiden’s perspective. I also didn’t think it was possible to love Ariadne more than I did already. I know these are gay romances…that doesn’t mean that every single character has to be a gay man. I feel that Amy is one of the few authors in the genre who does this well.

Narration: Philip Alces is a new narrator to me. He did an outstanding job of telling the story and defining the characters. Unfortunately, he has sort of a weird tone which contributed to the cadence that I didn’t care for, but this is just a personal preference. I don’t think that I would seek out this narrator in the future, but I wouldn’t turn an audiobook down because he narrated it.

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You can buy Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: Forever Promised by Amy Lane – Narrated by Paul Morey

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Title: Forever Promised

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Paul Morey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 12 Hours and 6 Minutes

At a Glance: The audio version of Forever Promised is twelve hours and six minutes of pure joy

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: Crick has been home from Iraq for five years, Jeff and Collin are finally married, and Shane and Mikhail are quietly making lives better for the dispossessed teenagers who come their way. Everything is right in Deacon’s world, but nothing ever stays the same.

When Deacon’s best friends, Jon and Amy, answer the call of an opportunity in Washington, DC, Deacon figures that’s life. You love people, and they leave you, and you survive. Even Benny, Crick’s little sister, is close to grown and ready to start her own future. But Benny loves Deacon, and she owes him – she may move beyond The Pulpit and Levee Oaks one day, but not without leaving something of herself behind. And so she offers Deacon and Crick an amazing gift… and a terrifying decision.

Benny’s offer forces Deacon and Crick to dredge up every past mistake and offer of redemption. And not just the two of them – everybody is forced to examine the chances they’ve been given and the promises they’ve made. In a real family, a child is a promise, and to the men and women of Promise Rock, keeping that promise will change their lives forever.

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Review: This is the final audiobook in the Promise Rock series, but if you have not read the series, it’s okay, you can start anywhere you want. Each book tells a tale about a different couple, but if you start from the beginning, you also get more of the history of the whole cast of characters who have touched Deacon’s life in one way or another. I am not going to try and give you a summary of the book, but one part of Jackie’s review (of the e-book) back in June of 2013 I especially liked, so I’m quoting it: “This book was truly a happy book. Yes, there are some sad parts; yes, there are some emotional parts. Most of my tears were happy tears. I guess if I have to give up the guys and gals from Promise Rock, I can rest assured that they are all happy, they are all loved, and their story will live on with the next generation.”. She does the best job of reviewing. What I have been tasked to do for The Novel Approach is to talk about the audio version. Okay, I didn’t ask to review this audiobook, I begged.

The audio version of Forever Promised is twelve hours and six minutes of pure joy! And those hours went by so fast that I had to listen to it again. I wasn’t ready to leave the Pulpit or Promise Rock. When you have a strong narrator it allows the listener to empathize with the characters, whether in sadness, happiness, pain or, my favorite, sexual tension. Paul Morey has that talent. Every audio I have listened to by him has been excellent. Morey not only narrated this book but also the preceding books in the Promise series, and I think that makes the difference. He knew the characters and you could hear it. When a character was crying in the story, Paul Morey cried too, and, of course, then I did too. All the emotional high and lows were heard through his voice—not easy to do, I can imagine. What a gift that was to this series. Read the series and listen to it on audio. It will be well worth your time and money.

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You can buy Forever Promised here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 2.5 Stars, Reviewed by Karen

Audio Review: Beneath the Stain by Amy Lane – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

Title: Beneath the Stain

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 16 hours and 36 minutes

At a Glance: Unfortunately, this narrator paired with this book just wasn’t for me, but in the end I was glad I listened to it, if for no other reason than my love of the story.

Reviewed By: Karen

Blurb: In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers – and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends – especially Grant Adams – made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.

Between the heartbreak of leaving Grant and the terrifying, glamorous life of rock stardom, Mackey is adrift and sinking fast. When he’s hit rock bottom, Trav Ford shows up, courtesy of their record company and a producer who wants to see what Mackey can do if he doesn’t flame out first. But cleaning up his act means coming clean about Grant, and that’s not easy to do or say. Mackey might make it with Trav’s help – but Trav’s not sure he’s going to survive falling in love with Mackey.

Mackey James Sanders comes with a whole lot of messy, painful baggage, and law-and-order Trav doesn’t do messy or painful. And just when Trav thinks they may have mastered every demon in Mackey’s past, the biggest, baddest demon of all comes knocking.

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Review: The Story:

When I read this book the end of last year, I was wrecked. This amazing, brilliant story took me on an emotional journey that even though I had read the reviews and heard what people were saying, I still wasn’t expecting it. I laughed and got angry, became an inconsolable blubbering, crying mess. It was awesome. For me, it is a story I have to be in the mood to read, though, because as much as I loved it, it is not one that I will probably pick up and reread as often as others, but it is there when I want to be torn apart and put back together again (every once in a while I need that). Reading this story, you get to watch a group of kids grow up and go through more than what a lot of people will ever go through. It isn’t pretty most of the time, it was hard and they had to work for it, they got hurt and hurt themselves, hurt others and ones they loved, but they stuck it out together. You get to see how strong they can be on their own, knowing that if they fall, there is a whole band of brothers there to catch them and carry them if needed.

Review: The Narration:

I saw that this book was out in audio and immediately added it to my wish list. I haven’t listened to any of Amy Lane’s books on audio, and knew that this one was going to be my first. It is by far my favorite of her books, and I couldn’t wait to listen to it. Five minutes after I received it, I put my headphones on and jumped right in. And then, it went downhill for me.

About an hour or two in, I had to stop listening and really was struggling because I love this book, I loved this story, but I was not liking the audio. I know sometimes my mood can affect what I like to read and listen to, though, so I thought maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace for it then. I switched over and listened to a different favorite and about a week later, I gave Beneath the Stain another shot. After another hour, I still just couldn’t get into it. There was something about the voices and the flow that just didn’t work for me.

I get that an audiobook is someone reading the book to you, but it shouldn’t seem like I am literally being read to, but that was how it was coming off. And then I though some of the narration came across a little cheesy, and I really struggled. I wanted to love the audio as much as I loved reading the book, but it just wasn’t happening, and I thought about not be able to finish it. I started seeing other reviews of the audiobook, and everyone else seemed to love it, so then I thought I must be missing something and decided to try and push through.

I started again and after about the 4-5 hour mark, I knew I would make it through. The more I listened the less I struggled with the narration, and realized more that it wasn’t the main characters I had an issue with as much as the secondary character voices. Through this experience I have realized that I really should listen to the audio samples since, of course, just like every book has people who will like it or not, the same will be said for a narrator. Unfortunately, this narrator just wasn’t for me, not for this book. But, in the end I was glad I listened, if for no other reason than my love of the story.

TNA_Signature_Karen






You can buy Beneath the Stain here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore

Guest Post: The Immortal Fairy Tale by Amy Lane

Immortal

Blood in the Forest — What I Know of Fairy Tales

When I was a kid, my parents used to ship me off to my grandparents for the summer.  We didn’t have a lot of money—or a lot of space—so I was allowed to bring two books. Books were bad. If I brought books I would spend my time reading and no time interacting with the really boring old people I was staying with. (Some grandparents can be fun and exciting and do things like take their grandchildren camping and horseback riding and shopping. Some of them can be like these grandparents who played solitaire in the backyard for fun.)

So I took two books—I took giant anthologies of children’s stories and fairy tales, and I read the holy crap out of those two giant books.

One summer I brought The Blue Fairy Book and a collection of Norwegian fairy tales, and, again, read the holy crap out of those two giant books.  And I came to believe—like, in my bones believe—the following things:

  • It was not just because I was nine years old and being parented in the 70’s. The world really was that random.
  • Authority was capricious at best and cruel at the worst. It was totally cool to be a treasonous peon if you ended up with a bad prince or a psychotic queen.
  • It was not just my imagination—the cats, the horses, and even the damned plants all knew more than I did.
  • Punishment for being a total douche was just and brutal and could not be escaped.
  • Giants (including giant corporations and giant governments) really don’t have their hearts in their bodies.
  • Sex is everywhere, but it’s never spoken.
  • Women could be brave, resourceful, and vengeful. (It was only Disney who said they had to be rescued by a man.)
  • Men could raise children. They weren’t great at the girl stuff, but their hearts were in the right place.
  • Siblings were both a great trial and a great blessing.
  • If your husband/wife was a complete and total psychopath, it was totally cool to kill him/her and get the hell out of dodge with the scullery maid/stable boy.
  • There were three elements of all magic: touch, blood, and song.
  • Love the ugly and unattractive, because they could give you some kickass wedding gifts when the time came, or completely fuck you up if you messed with them.
  • Stepmothers and fairy godparents were a total crapshoot. Yeah, sometimes the stepmothers could be evil… but there was always that one in the obscure story in the middle who was on your side.  And the reverse goes with fairy godparents—remember, Maleficent was Aurora Dawn’s least favorite aunt.
  • Just because you got dumped into a pit with spiders and asps did not mean you were dead. Suck it up and keep going.

And, my favorite…

  • Ones own children were always the prettiest.

So, there you go. All of that beautiful passion, drilled into my head at a young impressionable age.  It was like… the key to the universe right there. Everything I wanted to know about the world, in a couple of jam-packed books!

“Ah,” but you’re thinking, “children grow up and then they learn that fairy tales aren’t for grownups at all!”

Uhm, no, actually.  Then I grew up and took a boatload of classes in literature and storytelling and how the history of the language evolved and the history of the stories we tell reflects the deeper currents of the world.  And I learned some pretty good shit.

So, did you know that…

In 1066, before the Norman invasion of England, the population of Great Britain was largely Celtic, Gaelic, or Saxon—and all of these cultures have some deeply pagan roots. In 1066, the country was taken over by the Normans, who did what conquerors do and made all of the conquer-ees into their lower classes.  So suddenly the women and men who had owned a great deal of property and had been born into prosperous families saw their property gifted to the Norman nobles (who didn’t stay around to rule and left unscrupulous men in charge) and saw their own families reduced to herding swine and tending the rich peoples’ children.

They were… disgruntled, to say the least.

And they had their stories, their legends of the old gods, the forest gods who both gave life and destroyed it, the great and terrible gods who meted out justice and hid in the smallest of natural things—the egg of a duck, three drops of blood, or a flower.

And the women, in particular, cut off from their families, forbidden by propriety to so much as speak out, were often put in the position of entertaining bored or fractious children.  So they told their old stories, the ones with the fearsome gods and the brutal justice.  But they didn’t want to frighten the children—that would be cruel—so the stories twisted, became subversive and coded.  Sex was cloaked in flowers blooming under a bed, or a kiss between a prince and a sleeping princess.  Treason was disguised as the stories of heroes overthrowing a wicked king with the help of a magic instrument that knew right from wrong. Sedition seeped out in stories of greedy giants who had no hearts, or in stolen harps that would give a kingdom back its glory.

The children just knew good stories when they heard them.

It’s almost like a good horror movie, isn’t it? The kind with the creepy innocent children’s voices, singing songs that are steeped in blood?  Those are the fairy tales I read as a child. Those are the voices that sing in my head when I think of the secret fairy tales, the ones that nobody has ever heard of, like Felicia and the Pot of Pinks, The Little Goose-Girl and The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body. 

And as for the other fairy tales, the ones with slightly different origins? Oh, I see them in the same subverted, innocently bloody way.

Beauty and the Beast came out from Disney?  That’s great—which version, I’d read four of them by the time it debuted.  The one where Belle’s spoiled sisters try to kill their father in revenge for their poverty is my favorite.

The Little Mermaid?  That’s awesome—but I bet it didn’t have the real ending, the Hans Christian Anderson ending, where the mermaid gave up her voice and her family and her home for a man who did not love her, but she could have it all back if she killed the prince and threw his heart into the ocean.

Hey, kids, do you want to hear the story of Gawain and the Green Knight—the one where the people of King Arthur’s court are kicking the Green Knight’s head like a soccer ball after it gets cut off at a Christmas feast?  Do you want to know where he came from? About the real green man who devoured human offerings to bring the world back from the dead, year after year?

Let’s sing in ethereal voices about Bluebeard and his murdered wives, or the little white cat who got her head cut off to become a princess.  How much sweet-toned blood was spilled when they nailed the head of the Goose-Girl’s horse to the archway above the king’s garden? What happened to the women, grasping above their station, who got caught reaching above those with good and pure and heart? How grisly was their demise?

Oh yes—I grew up on fairy tales, and they affected me deeply.  I don’t write about rainbows and flowers, giggles and daisies, paths strewn with rose petals and happy endings within the hero’s grasp.

I grew up on fairy tales—be prepared to fight for that lover, against forces you don’t understand. Be prepared to sacrifice and to bleed, and to have random acts of magic and the brutal justice of the gods meted out before you are ready for the battle. Know that the magic weapon is drawn, the sacrifice wines have been spilled, and the tree of life is barbed and will as soon slice your throat as give you sustenance.

I grew up on fairy tales.  I dream of bloody trees and sex under the cover of darkness and the death knell of innocence in a child’s laugh.

These are the stories I devoured with pointed teeth in the cave of my room as a child. Just imagine the rare and dripping stories I can serve as an adult, who has learned what great and terrible magics are locked away in our own hearts.

Are you ready to grow up and read fairy tales?

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Blurb: When Teyth was but a child, a cruel prince took over his village, building a great granite tower to rule over the folk. Greedy and capricious, the man will be the bane of Teyth’s existence as an adult, but as a boy, Teyth is too busy escaping his stepfather to worry about his ruler.

Sold into apprenticeship to the local blacksmith, Teyth finds that what was meant as a punishment is actually his salvation. Cairsten, the smith, and Diarmuid, his adopted son, are kind, and the smithy is the prosperous heart of a thriving village. As Teyth grows in the craft of metalwork, he also grows in love for Diarmuid, the gentle, clever young man who introduces him to smithing.

Their prince wants Diarmuid too. As the tyrant inflicts loss upon loss on Teyth and Diarmuid, Teyth’s passion for his craft twists into obsession. By the time Teyth resurfaces from his quest to create immortality, he’s nearly lost the love that makes being human worth the pain. Teyth was born to sculpt his emotion into metal, and Diarmuid was born to lead. Together, can they keep their village safe and sustain the love that will make them immortal?

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Amy LaneAbout the Author: I am creative, distracted, and terribly weird. I love my children to distraction, and I love my hobbies even when they piss me off. I come from a double line of extremely creative, intelligent people who hated authority so much they dodged higher education, and I married a wonderful man who is quiet, conservative, devestatingly funny, and perfect. Our children are constant reminders that God and Goddess have a profound sense of humor, and that all of the things you dislike most about yourself but pretend don’t exist really do come back on the karmic wheel to kick your ass when you least expect it. My family keeps me young and humble and I try every day to make them proud. I’ve written a LOT of books–I can’t even count anymore, most of them for Dreamspinner Press and Riptide Press, but some of them published on my own. I write to placate the voices in my head, profanity is the element I swim in, and knitting socks at stoplights has become my twitch.

Connect with Amy at: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: Immortal by Amy Lane

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Immortal

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

At a Glance: Immortal is a gorgeous novel, eloquent in its joy and sorrow, hopeful in its promise of forever, meaningful in the way of fairy tales that teach us we are each the crucibles of love, and love is the conqueror of hate.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When Teyth was but a child, a cruel prince took over his village, building a great granite tower to rule over the folk. Greedy and capricious, the man will be the bane of Teyth’s existence as an adult, but as a boy, Teyth is too busy escaping his stepfather to worry about his ruler.

Sold into apprenticeship to the local blacksmith, Teyth finds that what was meant as a punishment is actually his salvation. Cairsten, the smith, and Diarmuid, his adopted son, are kind, and the smithy is the prosperous heart of a thriving village. As Teyth grows in the craft of metalwork, he also grows in love for Diarmuid, the gentle, clever young man who introduces him to smithing.

Their prince wants Diarmuid too. As the tyrant inflicts loss upon loss on Teyth and Diarmuid, Teyth’s passion for his craft twists into obsession. By the time Teyth resurfaces from his quest to create immortality, he’s nearly lost the love that makes being human worth the pain. Teyth was born to sculpt his emotion into metal, and Diarmuid was born to lead. Together, can they keep their village safe and sustain the love that will make them immortal?

Dividers

Review: Fairy tales are a true art form, often dismissed, I feel, for their foreordained destination (the happily-ever-after) rather than appreciated for the journey, which is where the alchemy and symbolism take place. There is a darkness to fairy tales, sometimes a darkness which makes it difficult to find the light at the end of the tale, but it’s during the dark (the figurative burning of the nigredo stage of the alchemical process the hero must endure on his transformative journey) that the richness of the story exists.

This truth is present and accounted for in Amy Lane’s Immortal, the story of a ten-year-old boy sold to the town blacksmith by his wicked stepfather, the foundational villain upon which Teyth’s life is built. Cairsten, the blacksmith, is the gentle giant in this story; Diarmuid, his stalwart protégé, is possessed of the kind and patient nature which serves as the balm Teyth’s soul needs to mend the damage his stepfather had tried to do. Diarmuid is the promise Teyth’s soul needs when his body is broken and bent but his heart and spirit endure. Diarmuid is Teyth’s ascension when a fall from grace seems to leave him all but one small step from death, and it’s here that the allegorical burn resides.

As no respectable fairy tale can be complete without one, the forest plays its part in this story as well—the magical realm within a realm where dark and light, questions and answers, coexist, and is the symbolic place within which our heroes discover the greatest mysteries of life, death, love, physical and spiritual union, and loss. And even as with Shakespeare’s own Birnam Wood, it is the forest which also serves in the end to play destiny to a malicious prince. Within this wood, there is salvation and sacrifice, where trees are the gods that hear confessions. Within this wood, there is vengeance and asylum. Within this wood, there is a covenant of divine energy which represents mortality and immortality in blood and earth. Without this wood, there is the good and evil of humanity.

The beauty of Immortal is in the meticulous weaving and layering of the relationships, the fantasy, and the forging of a life through trial in the fires of grief that threatens to consume, and a burning love that serves as salvation. Time is fleeting, the seasons are the ouroboros of figurative death and rebirth, and love is the immutable within the pages of this book: every detail in this story acts as a shaping and altering of its characters and the village its people suffer to protect, even as Teyth’s own shaping and altering of the base and precious metals gifted to him by their forest become the tangible proof of his heart and soul, his hurt and hope, and the symbols around which he will discover his own immortality.

There is a tang of bittersweet to this fairy tale, which is where the story ends, at a new beginning, begging the reader to find the happy ending within life’s cycles of love, sacrifice, and a separate peace. Teyth’s name means Silence, and is the irony of the words within the pages of a book—that the written word and the characters within are indeed the immortal of all immortals, speaking to us and living well beyond us all, keeping alive the mythologies and mysteries even beyond death.

Immortal is a gorgeous novel, eloquent in its joy and sorrow, hopeful in its promise of forever, meaningful in the way of fairy tales that teach us we are each the crucibles of love, and love is the conqueror of hate. Teyth and Diarmuid are each other’s strength and weakness, their lives tainted by evil and redeemed by their ability to embrace what they’d built together through their hurt and heartache. Immortal is the sort of book that will be unique to each reader, personal in the way of our own perceptions and interpretations influencing the story. But, whichever way you look at it, it’s the journey as well as the destination that make it all worthwhile.

TNA_Signature_Lisa






You can buy Immortal here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Giveaways

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, and welcome! I’m so excited to share who and what we have coming up for you in the week ahead. We’ve got a fantastic lineup of authors and giveaways, a couple of cover reveals, and, of course, lots of reviews to share.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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MondayMarie Sexton kicks off our week with a cover reveal of her novel Shotgun, the latest addition to her Coda series

Also joining us today is author Kate Fierro on the tour for her new novel Love Starved

Tuesday – Our second cover reveal of the week comes to us courtesy of Susan Mac Nicol and her latest novel in the Men of London series, Suit Yourself

A.F. Henley also stops by today with a guest post on the Baby’s on Fire blog tour

Wednesday – Today we have author Rick R. Reed joining us on his Dinner at Fiorello’s blog tour

Author Karen Stivali will also be here with the Moments of Clarity blog tour

ThursdayDebbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney drop by on their Leaving Flowers blog tour

Riptide Publishing and author Heidi Belleau will also be with us today to share the newly remade covers for the Rear Entrance Video series, and the story behind them

Friday – We have Amy Lane with us today to chat about fairy tales and her new novel Immortal

Joining her is Kate Sherwood with a guest post on the Sacrati blog tour

Saturday – Finally, to close out the week, we’re hosting the blog tour for Wilde City Press’s new anthology Butt Riders on the Range

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

 

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4.5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Food for Thought by Amy Lane

Title: Food for Thought

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 92 Pages

At a Glance: If you want a quick read that will leave you smiling, Food For Thought is the novella for you.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Emmett Gant was planning to tell his father something really important one Sunday morning—but his father passed away first. Now, nearly three years later, Emmett can’t seem to clear up who he should be with—the girl with the apple cheeks and the awesome family, or his snarky neighbor, Keegan, who never sees his family but who makes Emmett really happy just by coming over to chat.

Emmett needs clarity.

Fortunately for Emmett, his best friend’s mom has a cookbook that promises to give Emmett insight and good food, and Emmett is intrigued. After the cookbook follows him home, Emmett and Keegan decide to make the recipe “For Clarity,” and what ensues is both very clear—and a little surprising, especially to Emmett’s girlfriend. Emmett is going to have to think hard about his past and the really important thing he forgot to tell his father if he wants to get the recipe for love just right.

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Review: I live with a quiet man. I have known him for 35 years, and to this day, he speaks more with silent communications than anyone I know. So for Emmett, whose father was there but seemingly not there, attentive yet unable to ever really express how much he loved his son, I felt a deep understanding of what their relationship was. And author Amy Lane did what she does best, she made another unique, wounded character come to life on the page.

Emmett is crushed by the first boy he falls in love with; pushed aside as a mistake, a passing phase. When he finally recovers, he goes home to the place where a quiet father waits on the porch for him, to tell him he is gay, only to find that it is too late. Never again will he see that lonely figure waiting for him. From there, Emmet turns inward, denies who he is and tries his very best to turn straight. But a feisty neighbor, Keegan, will be his constant companion, and before he knows it, decisions will be made that will either be his undoing or be his redemption.

Food For Thought was a sweet, little morsel of a story. Wounded lives are healed, fears about coming out resolved and, in the end, a family is knit together, a family of two. Yes, there is a rather devastating scene of discovery, and for some that may be a sticking point. For me, it realistically and logically flowed from the story’s core, and I felt it was integral to Emmett finally realizing exactly who he was and whom he wanted.

The burst of fresh air and redeeming sanity found in Keegan, Emmett’s friend, carried the real heart of the story. It would be this clever and sharp-witted friend who would be the perfect foil for Emmett’s deep and almost painful longings. The two of them were so deliciously different that it was easy to see why they were drawn to each other.

Food For Thought is a lighthearted story that still carries the unique and superior writing stamp of Amy Lane. This is a feel good story, with just a touch of angst and a delightful cast of side characters. If you want a quick read that will leave you smiling, Food For Thought is the novella for you.

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You can buy Food for Thought here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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4.5 Stars, 5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Black John by Amy Lane – Narrated by Gomez Pugh

Audio Gem

Title: Black John

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 Hours, 39 Minutes

At a glance: Amy Lane weaves a tapestry, a multicolored masterpiece where there is hope for the damaged.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible – and left John to clean up his mess.

Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John’s craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory’s neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen’s been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory’s life.

The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative – and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.

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Review: Bear with me as this is my first review; therefore, I am going to do a bit of a two parter. The book itself and Pugh’s performance. One word for this book is Superb! I have been a fan of the Johnnies books since the beginning. One of Amy’s many talents when writing books is her originality. In a series that easily could have become cookie cutter, Amy takes it to places you wouldn’t expect, while still giving you what you want the most. I have been waiting with anticipation for Amy’s book about John for a while. Throughout the Johnnies series, he is there as the figurehead and leader of this emotionally broken group of young men.

Black John is done in two parts. John starts out in rehab, explaining his descent into addiction, which we definitely grasp in Dex in Blue. After receiving a letter from his estranged family about the suicide of the one love he lost, Tory, John has to fly to Florida to handle Tory’s death and funeral arrangements, fresh out of Rehab. John goes to Tory’s shitty apartment and cleans up after a man who was so deep in addiction he couldn’t find his way out. Galen is the next door neighbor, and oh, how I adore this flawed, lost, broken soul. He is at his rock bottom when he meets John, and an unlikely friendship spawns out of this awful event. The first half of this book is going down memory lane and seeing the life John lead, and why he is who he is. I typically have a hard time with flashback-heavy books, but as only Amy Lane always does, she makes the flashbacks flawless.

The second part of this book is the love story between Galen and John. This part takes place in Florida, as these two build their relationship.You travel through Galen’s rehab and John trying to integrate back into life in California as these two characters strive to create a life they can live together. I felt every single step forward and back John and Galen take.

Amy Lane weaves a tapestry, a multicolored masterpiece where there is hope for the damaged. She shows you that although love doesn’t conquer all, if you discover love, it can inspire you to be a better you.

Narrator: Being around the Audiobook world for awhile makes you aware of the different narrators, and whom you tend to prefer. I had the pleasure of listening to all of the Johnnies books on audio, which had been narrated by Sean Crisden. When I saw that Gomez Pugh was narrating the fourth Johnnies book, I was a little nervous the change would affect my opinion of this book negatively. I now can say that it absolutely didn’t affect my opinion. I was extremely surprised by how well Gomez Pugh did with this book. I had previously listened to Gomez, and thought he did a good job but didn’t seek him out when looking at Audiobooks. I can tell you I feel this was his best work by far. The majority of this book was John and Galen talking or John talking to Tory. The only thing that bothered me a bit was that he did Dex’s voice like a surfer, and Dex definitely isn’t a surfer. He did extreme accents for Tommy and Kane as well. Outside of these small problems, I feel that Pugh’s performance was stellar. He had me actively engaged and excited to get back into the car every day.

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You can buy Black John here:

Audible.com

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Amy Lane, DSP Publications, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Vulnerable Blog Tour With Amy Lane

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The Novel Approach welcomes Amy Lane today, on the Vulnerable blog tour to celebrate the re-release of the Little Goddess series with DSP Publications.

There’s also a chance for you to win an e-copy of the book, so be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below after you read why Ms. Lane believes you should never piss off a service worker. :)

Enjoy and good luck!

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Top Ten Reasons To Never Piss Off a Service Worker

By Amy Lane

Cory Kirkpatrick starts out in Vulnerable as a gas station clerk, working her way through college. Now, a lot of us worked our asses off to get that college degree—and a lot of us have the battle scars to prove it.

So we all know that the kid serving our coffee or selling us Cheetohs one minute might be the next CEO of a Fortune 500 company the next—but that’s not the only reason to treat your service workers with respect.

Top ten reasons to never piss off a service worker—coming right up, with a smile.

10. Cold coffee

9. Warm water

8. Lost mail

7. Lost cable during that big game—no matter what game it may be.

6. Bad karma

5. Guilty conscience

4. Angry big brothers/husbands/monarchs

3. Mysterious explosions

2. Unexpectedly related to that hot girl/boy you were crushing on

And the number one reason not to piss off your service worker is…

He or she may actually be the bearer of a sexually powered nuclear fusion weapon that emanates from his or her body.

Be nice. Tip well. Never condescend.

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o-vulnerableBlurb: Working graveyards in a gas station seems a small price for Cory to pay to get her degree and get the hell out of her tiny town. She’s terrified of disappearing into the aimless masses of the lost and the young who haunt her neck of the woods. Until the night she actually stops looking at her books and looks up. What awaits her is a world she has only read about—one filled with fantastical creatures that she’s sure she could never be.

And then Adrian walks in, bearing a wealth of pain, an agonizing secret, and a hundred and fifty years with a lover he’s afraid she won’t understand. In one breathless kiss, her entire understanding of her own worth and destiny is turned completely upside down. When her newfound world explodes into violence and Adrian’s lover—and prince—walks into the picture, she’s forced to explore feelings and abilities she’s never dreamed of. The first thing she discovers is that love doesn’t fit into nice neat little boxes. The second thing is that risking your life is nothing compared to facing who you really are—and who you’ll kill to protect.

Buy Links: DSP Publications | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble

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Amy LaneAuthor Bio: Amy Lane is a mother of four and a compulsive knitter who writes because she can’t silence the voices in her head. She adores cats, Chi-who-whats, knitting socks, and hawt menz, and she dislikes moths, cat boxes, and knuckle-headed macspazzmatrons. She is rarely found cooking, cleaning, or doing domestic chores, but she has been known to knit up an emergency hat/blanket/pair of socks for any occasion whatsoever, or sometimes for no reason at all.

She writes in the shower, while at the gym, while taxiing children to soccer/dance/gymnastics/band—oh my!—and has learned from necessity to type like the wind.

She lives in a spider-infested, crumbling house in a shoddy suburb and counts on her beloved Mate to keep her tethered to reality—which he does, while keeping her cell phone charged as a bonus. She’s been married for twenty-plus years and still believes in Twu Wuv, with a capital Twu and a capital Wuv, and she doesn’t see any reason at all for that to change.

Connect With Amy: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

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THE GIVEAWAY:

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Stops:

Sun, Mar 1Books Make Me Happy
Mon, Mar 2The Novel Approach
Tues, Mar 3Literary Escapism
Wed, Mar 4Literal Addiction Paranormal Book Club
Thu, Mar 5The Book Tart
Fri, Mar 6MM Good Book Reviews
Sat, Mar 7Joyfully Jay

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, DSP Publications, Reviewed by Janet, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Vulnerable by Amy Lane

Title: Vulnerable (Little Goddess: Book One)

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 306 Pages

At a Glance: I strongly recommend you read this book, as I would hope it would please you as much as it did me.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Working graveyards in a gas station seems a small price for Cory to pay to get her degree and get the hell out of her tiny town. She’s terrified of disappearing into the aimless masses of the lost and the young who haunt her neck of the woods. Until the night she actually stops looking at her books and looks up. What awaits her is a world she has only read about—one filled with fantastical creatures that she’s sure she could never be.

And then Adrian walks in, bearing a wealth of pain, an agonizing secret, and a hundred and fifty years with a lover he’s afraid she won’t understand. In one breathless kiss, her entire understanding of her own worth and destiny is turned completely upside down. When her newfound world explodes into violence and Adrian’s lover—and prince—walks into the picture, she’s forced to explore feelings and abilities she’s never dreamed of. The first thing she discovers is that love doesn’t fit into nice neat little boxes. The second thing is that risking your life is nothing compared to facing who you really are—and who you’ll kill to protect.

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Review: Vulnerable is the first book of the Little Goddess series, and is a re-edited release of the first book published by Amy Lane. When I first heard of this book almost two years ago, there was talk of maybe a re-release upcoming so I decided not to read it then. Instead, I read everything else she had ever written apart from the Green’s Hill books (except, accidentally, I Love You Asshole; it was too late after I bought it) and in the process, I became all about Amy Lane all the time. Really she has never disappointed me with a story of any length. I expect to read stories about amazing characters who are real and flawed, but hopeful and looking for love and redemption, and that’s what she delivers every time. In the process I may laugh, usually cry, but always experience a sense of awe at the sum total of emotions she can invoke within the covers of the book. All of this to say that I have now had the pleasure of reading Vulnerable for the first time, and Wow!!

I had wondered how this author would be able to build a fantasy world filled with elves, vampires, and assorted weres, and yet set it in the hills outside of Sacramento in a fashion that could be believable for me and which could sustain a series of five books . Not because of doubts about her skills in wordsmithery; but because she is simply so good at M/M, drama filled novels of a contemporary nature that I felt this was her strength. She did it by creating Green’s Hill, a blessed mound that houses all of the beings loyal to Green, an elf King, and Adrian, the vampire King who is his long-time lover and consort.

Cory is a student working the local gas station on the overnight shifts, and has been interacting with the residents of Green’s Hill for the past year without having any idea of who all her customers have really been. Until one night a regular customer awakens something inside of her with a touch, and she is soon seeing all of the supernatural beings around her as they really are – minus their glamour. And that was it for me – the connection had been made: There were people to meet and places to see, battles to be fought and creatures to protect. I was on a path of discovery and a part of the magic that was unfolding before my eyes.

World building is a necessity for any book but is the major requirement for a book about supernatural beings, and when you are placing them in a split real-world situation, then you need to have an even stronger talent for merging these realities smoothly to hold the attention of the reader in the present as the book is narrated. There were moments in this book that were so vividly described I actually had to close my eyes and digest all of the images Amy’s words inspired. The morning in the grove that grew from the joining of the three of them was intense, and I needed time to picture the majesty created, and the trees, with their images molded into them, are still shimmering in my head. So many images feel real that even the memories of Adrian’s torture as a young man, prior to becoming a vampire, is indeed a testament to the skills Amy Lane has had from the very start.

As an opening book in a series, there are a lot of details being layered into the background of the story, but I never felt a lack of connection to the characters due to this. They were always clearly identified in whatever they were doing, either as a narrator of a chapter or as the actors in the scene taking place on the page. Amy Lane introduces us to many of the characters we will see in future books, but she still managed to kill off a few in Vulnerable, which just about killed me too. Who does this? Makes me love a character, then promptly kills him? I can’t wait for the next book, sincerely can’t wait.

The only other thing I can add is I strongly recommend you read this book, as I would hope it would please you as much as it did me. It will give you hours of enjoyment, and there is the promise of more as the rest of the series unfolds.






You can buy Vulnerable here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Euro Pride Con, Giveaways

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Sneak PeekHappy Sunday, everyone, and welcome back to another peek at what we have in store for the week ahead. Not only do we have some great authors, giveaways, and reviews in store for you, but we have a special Countdown to Euro Pride Con kicking off this week right here at The Novel Approach, so be sure to watch for our first two guests, Susan Mac Nicol and Morticia Knight. And there’ll be much more to come!

Our Book of the Month picks are also being hosted at Mary Calmes’s blog right now, so pop on over for a chance to win TWO e-copies of any of our chosen titles

Here’s a look at what’s on tap.

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MondayAmy Lane kicks off the week on the Vulnerable blog tour, the first book in her newly re-released Little Goddesses series

We’ll also welcome Mickie B. Ashling today on the Chyna Doll blog tour

TuesdayJoseph Lance Tonlet stops by to discuss the first book in his edgy new serial, Brothers LaFon

We’ll also have Susan Mac Nicol joining us with a guest post to kick off the Countdown to Euro Pride Con

Wednesday – It’s going to be a Brad kind of day today. First, Brad Vance joins us on the Have a Little Faith in Me blog tour

Then, we’ll have an exclusive excerpt from Brad Boney and his newest release from Dreamspinner Press, YES

Thursday – Today we’ll be hosting Kirby Crow and the Hammer and Bone blog tour

Morticia Knight will also be joining us with our second Euro Pride Con Countdown post for the week to talk about her new release The Fear of Surrender

Friday – Author Anna Lee stops by today on the His Soldier blog tour

SaturdayMargie Church is our guest today to talk a little bit about her new book Boston Boyfriend

Sunday – And finally, Trina Lane closes out our week on the Turkish Delights blog tour

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And that’s the lowdown on the week ahead. Until next time, happy reading!

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4.5 Stars, Amy Lane, Anne Tenino, Anthology, Holiday Romance, L.A. Witt, Reviewed by Lisa, Riptide Publishing, SE Jakes, Z.A. Maxfield

Review: Lights, Camera, Cupid! An Anthology From Riptide Publishing

Title: Lights, Camera, Cupid!

Author: L.A. Witt, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, Anne Tenino, Z.A. Maxfield

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Instant gratification in five satisfying pieces

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Cupid is visiting Bluewater Bay, and he’s leaving chaos in his wake.

Nothing’s been the same in this sleepy little logging town since Hollywood came to shoot the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing—especially Valentine’s Day.

In L.A. Witt’s Just Another Day, beloved actors Levi Pritchard and Carter Samuels have an announcement for their fans, while in Z.A. Maxfield’s I’ll Be There, actor Spencer Kepler and his boyfriend Nash Holly brave a blizzard and a fan convention to spend their first February the 14th together.

Of course, it’s not just TV stars celebrating the day. In Anne Tenino’s Helping Hand, an aspiring artist eager to escape Bluewater Bay decides he just might have a reason to stay: lust-inspiring logger Gabriel Savage. In S.E. Jakes’s No Easy Way, a local teacher reconnects with an old lover working security on the film set. And in Amy Lane’s Nascha, a Bluewater Bay elder recalls how his own unconventional family used to celebrate the holiday.

Real life may be nothing like TV, but when Cupid comes to town, there’s plenty of romance and drama to go around.

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Review: If you’re like me, going into an anthology with the anticipation that there’s going to be one “weak link” story which then makes for an imperfect reading experience, I think I can safely say you can put that expectation away for Lights, Camera, Cupid!, a collection of stories set in the Bluewater Bay-verse and centered around Valentine’s Day.

Whether or not you’ve read every book in this series, or just a select few, it shouldn’t affect at all the ability to enjoy this collection for what it is: a glimpse into the lives and loves of its characters on the one day of the year dedicated to romance. In fact, at publication time, only L.A. Witt’s and Z.A. Maxfield’s characters have been introduced in Baywater, Washington, home to the popular TV series Wolf’s Landing, so enjoying the remaining three stories in the anthology is based solely on the talent of the authors and the strength of their writing.

Fittingly, L.A. Witt’s Just Another Day kicks off the collection with Levi Pritchard and Carter Samuels, as they were the first men to be introduced in the Bluewater Bay series, in Starstruck.

Levi feels a lot like I, and many others do, about Valentine’s Day and the poor excuse it makes for picking a man’s pocket every 14th of February. Being in a relationship, however, means thinking not about himself but about the man he loves. Carter doesn’t want grand and ostentatious shows of commercialism. He just wants his and Levi’s first Valentine’s Day to be special.

And wow… does Levi deliver.

There’s a bit of conflict thrown into this day founded on the idea of romance, but it’s that conflict’s sweet and satisfying resolution that is the true definition of the word romantic.

Nascha, Amy Lane’s contribution to the anthology introduces characters who have yet to be discovered in Bluewater Bay, and won’t be until The Deep of the Sound is released in June 2015. Cal McCorkle’s introduction, that novel’s MC, is peripheral to the story told in Nascha, that of Cal’s aging granduncle and how Cal and his brother Keir came to live with Nascha.

This story is told in the present and through flashbacks, plucked from the mind of a man whose lucidity ebbs and flows. For this brief moment, Nascha relives his past and recalls the love he shared with a man and woman with whom he’d intended to spend the rest of his life, but for the fact that fate and circumstance intervened, then the system declared his relationship an unfit environment in which to raise a child—his niece Beth.

There is a strong sense of longing woven throughout this unexpected tale, threaded with the sharp sting of regret and the pain of lost years, and, without giving any more of this story away, it ends with an unapologetic tug at the heartstrings, which is probably not altogether unexpected from an Amy Lane story, is it?

SE Jakes’ addition to the collection, No Easy Way, is, I must say, my favorite novella in Lights, Camera, Cupid!, and that’s saying something because I found all the stories engaging.

At the age of sixteen, Cary Teijan lost the love of his young life. Dylan James disappeared without a word or a backward glance, so when Dylan turns back up in Bluewater Bay, working security on the set of Wolf’s Landing, not to mention returning with the intent to claim Cary—finally and irrevocably—the stage is set for six years of anger and resentment to throw plenty of roadblocks in the way of their journey to reconciliation.

There are secrets that Dylan’s been keeping from Cary which, coupled with the fact he saw nothing of his future but the possibility of following in his own father’s miserable footsteps, is why he enlisted and is what kept him from returning to Bluewater Bay until he’d worked to become the man Cary deserves.

Jakes mixes just the right amount of emotional conflict with sexual tension, unresolved anger, and regret to deliver a great second-chance love story.

Anne Tenino’s Helping Hand wins the award for story most in need of a sequel, and I’m hoping Lucas Wilder and Gabriel Savage are set to have their own novel in the series.

This story has a bit of a different flair to it, as it’s a coming out/coming of age story. Lucas has always been the odd piece in his blue collar family’s puzzle, and he’s just been accepted into the California College of the Arts, but first he has to break the news to his parents. Which he does…right about the same time he also announces to them that he’s gay.

Family tensions run high in this story, but not nearly as high as the sexual tension between Lu and his brother’s friend Gabriel. One moment of passion between the two leaves us with an inkling that Gabriel’s not half the ass he lets Lucas believe he is, and left me wanting more—Lu and Gabe, the post college years.

Tenino wrote this story with humor and heart, but if you’re not a fan of loose ends, well, just be prepared.

Finally, providing the bookend to L.A. Witt’s piece, Z.A. Maxfield treats readers to another taste of the delicious that is Nash Holly, first introduced in his and Spencer Kepler’s novel Hell on Wheels.

I’ll Be There finds the men hundreds of miles apart in the days before Valentine’s Day, with a snowstorm bearing down on the Midwest that threatens to keep them apart on their first February 14th together.

For all you readers who attended GRL2014, be prepared to recognize the setting of the convention Spencer’s attending, and be prepared to smile at the tenacity and ingenuity Nash uses to make sure he makes it to Bloomingdale, Illinois to be with Spencer, come hell or high water. Or feet of snow and treacherous road conditions, as the case may be.

This is the one story in the collection that I’d suggest might be best appreciated by reading Hell on Wheels first—to know these guys is to love them—but as sweet and romantic gestures go, Nash’s is just about the sweetest and romantickest. If not the dangerest.

If you’re looking for a little variety, solid storytelling, and some romance to round it all out, Lights, Camera, Cupid! is instant gratification in five satisfying pieces.






You can buy Lights, Camera, Cupid! here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Riptide Publishing

Giveaway: The Lights, Camera, Cupid! Blog Tour With Riptide Publishing

LightsCameraCupid_TourBanner

Thanks for joining us on this tour! Check out the great Valentine’s Day stories from Bluewater Bay and comment to win a Valentine’s gift basket sent to you or a Valentine!

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Lights, Camera, Cupid! (A Bluewater Bay Valentine’s Day Anthology)

Cupid is visiting Bluewater Bay, and he’s leaving chaos in his wake.

Nothing’s been the same in this sleepy little logging town since Hollywood came to shoot the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing—especially Valentine’s Day.

In L.A. Witt’s Just Another Day, beloved actors Levi Pritchard and Carter Samuels have an announcement for their fans, while in Z.A. Maxfield’s I’ll Be There, actor Spencer Kepler and his boyfriend Nash Holly brave a blizzard and a fan convention to spend their first February the 14th together.

Of course, it’s not just TV stars celebrating the day. In Anne Tenino’s Helping Hand, an aspiring artist eager to escape Bluewater Bay decides he just might have a reason to stay: lust-inspiring logger Gabriel Savage. In S.E. Jakes’s No Easy Way, a local teacher reconnects with an old lover working security on the film set. And in Amy Lane’s Nascha, a Bluewater Bay elder recalls how his own unconventional family used to celebrate the holiday.

Real life may be nothing like TV, but when Cupid comes to town, there’s plenty of romance and drama to go around.

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LightsCameraCupid_400x600About Bluewater Bay: Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.

Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by ten award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield, Aleksandr Voinov, Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, and G.B. Gordon. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.

Buy Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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GiveawaysEvery comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a Valentine’s gift basket sent to you or a Valentine! We’ll send anywhere local delivery is available (and offer a $40 store credit in the event that delivery is not available in your country.) The winner will pick the type of basket they want (either fruit, flowers, or candy/snacks) and we’ll send your basket out!

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Janet

Release Day Review: Black John by Amy Lane

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Title: Black John (Johnnies: Book Four)

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 280 Pages

At a Glance: A book that is so rich in detail we can easily visualise each moment on the page

Blurb: John Carey is just out of rehab and dying inside when he gets word that Tory, the guy who loved him and broke him, has removed himself from the world in the most bitter way possible—and left John to clean up his mess.

Forced back to his hometown in Florida, John’s craving a hit with every memory when he meets Tory’s neighbor. Spacey and judgmental, Galen Henderson has been rotting in his crappy apartment since a motorcycle accident robbed him of his mobility, his looks, and his boyfriend all in one mistake. Galen’s been hiding at the bottom of an oxy bottle, but when John shows up, he feels obligated to help wade through the wreckage of Tory’s life.

The last thing John needs is another relationship with an addict, and the last thing Galen wants is a conscience. Both of them are shocked when they find that their battered souls can learn from and heal one another. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both getting a crash course on how growing up and getting past your worst mistakes sure beats the alternative—and that true love is something to fight to keep if your lover is fighting to love you back.

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Review: The only time in my life I ever wish I had a talent for writing is when I am attempting a review of a really good book. When a book I have been anticipating for over a year finally ends up in my hands, and I have loved it, devoured it and want to share that with others. Then, that’s when I long for skills with words and the ability to put them on a page in a fashion worthy of the inspiration, and hope I can convey my respect and awe for Amy’s craftsmanship.

Black John is the fifth Johnnies book- I count Super Sock Man– and while John’s presence is noticed in the previous books, there is no real sense of identity until Dex in Blue, where he became an object of pity. I had so many questions about him as he perched on the sidelines of the previous books and needed his story to have all the answers. So, we start Black John with a need for answers and searching for his worth. Can he redeem himself with Dex? The guys? Or with us? And…OMG, Amy rips us out of Sacramento and across the country to Daytona Beach, Florida. She dumps us in the filth of John’s past with the misery and chaos that dragged him into his drug addiction. God, I hated Tory! Seriously, the skills that this author has to engage my emotions so intensely is without parallel.

Within a few chapters John is a person deserving our sympathy, not an object of pity at all. He has been hurt so badly, but he keeps going, one day, one revealed horror at a time. Amy answers all of our questions in this book. A lot of those answers are stomach churning, but we get them. We meet Galen, a piece of work himself, and see the possibilities for them both. There is so much healing they both have to do, though, that the future we see as possible is far enough away to maybe be real.

One of the things that Amy does so well is create characters that lift off the pages and into our hearts. They are so very real. The Johnnies universe has storylines that run concurrently between multiple books and where they overlap, the guys are seen from different angles but remain true to their own selves. The Tommy in Ethan in Gold is the same Tommy in Dex and the same in Black John. This is a technical part of book writing that probably involves spreadsheets and flow charts on Amy’s part, but we don’t see the work entailed in the story, we simply reap the benefits of her craftsmanship. We get a book that is so rich in detail we can easily visualise each moment on the page and become immersed in the world she has built.

Redemption is a recurring theme in Amy Lane’s books, and it is a nearly overwhelming battle for John, but he earns it. He does good long enough and strongly enough for it to stick. John’s return to Sacramento to make amends and to continue shoring up the walls of his life are a pleasure for the reader, as we visit with our favorite guys again. When John and Galen bring their best to each other, the absolute best part is that it’s not the end of their story. We are already looking forward to Reg and Bobbie’s turn, and we want to see how Jerzy’s video turns out. There is no need to say goodbye. We can soak in the feels for a while longer. This book is a fabulous addition to the Johnnies universe. I will re-read it often and cannot recommend it strongly enough to anyone who enjoys revelling in a love story that is so much more!






You can buy Black John (Johnnies: Book Four) here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: Shiny! by Amy Lane – Narrated by Tyler Stevens

Title: Shiny!

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Tyler Stevens

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 Hours, 15 Minutes

At a Glance: Shiny! kept me engaged throughout

Blurb: Will Lafferty and Kenny Scalia are both having sort of a day. Will gets fired for letting fifth graders read Harry Potter, and Kenny finds his boyfriend and his sex toys in bed with a complete stranger. When Will knocks over Kenny’s trash can-and strews Kenny’s personal business all over the street-it feels like the perfect craptastic climax to the sewage of suckage that has rained down on them both.

But ever-friendly, ever-kind Will asks snarky Kenny out for a beer-God knows they both need one-and two amazing things occur: Kenny discovers talking to Will might be the best form of intercourse ever, and Will discovers he’s gay.

Their unlikely friendship seems like the perfect platonic match until Will reveals how very much more he’s been feeling for Kenny almost since the beginning. But Kenny’s worried. Will’s newfound sexuality is bright and glittery and shiny, but what happens when that wears off? Is Will’s infatuation with Kenny strong enough to stay real?

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Review: Narrator Tyler Stevens is clearly having fun with this tale of a romance between Will and Kenny. Shiny! What a great title for a great audiobook and what a great cover. It just makes you smile!

I like the one-liners you sometimes find in books as much as the next person. A good one-liner can be sarcastic and funny and sometimes, can be just what you need to get through a bad day. And sometimes an audiobook with substance is one that makes you think or fills you with hope that love and respect can be found between two people that so deserve it. But rare is the author who can write well placed one-liners and give substance to the characters all in the same book. That is unless you are reading an Amy Lane book. She can make you laugh, cry and cheer for the characters, just about all in the same chapter. How does she do that? Not a clue, but that’s why I read the stories and not write them. She has a gift, a talent and a great sense of humor.

My job here is to tell you about an audiobook, to maybe help you decide if it’s worth spending your hard earned dollars on. My job is not to fangirl all over Amy Lane. I like that word fandom and am not sure if it’s a real word or a made up word, but it works when describing my favorite authors. Every book Amy Lane writes is worth reading and listening too. In both instances you finish her stories and are left wanting more, not ready to give up the world she has created. When you are listening to an audiobook narrated by Tyler
Stevens, you also don’t want to leave the world he has created with his voice. Both are worth the time and money spent. Stevens is clearly having fun with this tale of Will and Kenny’s romance. He captures Kenny’s voice, with all its attitude (shininess) and sometimes the hurt, as Kenny is learning how to trust again and admit what he really wants in a partner, and to stop looking for the “sparkly”.

He gives Will a voice that builds in confidence. Will was very quick to describe himself in the beginning of the story as “a totally average, normal, Christian-looking dude!” Tyler Stevens was able to build Will’s voice. At the beginning of the tale he did sound like an average, normal dude. When he discovers his “gayness,” he sounds like a kid in a candy shop discovering all sorts of new things. In the end he sounds confident, mature and completely in love. That’s what keeps a listener engaged, in my opinion. Not only did the story have a beginning, middle, and end, the narration did too. It kept me engaged throughout. Shiny! wins!






You can buy Shiny! here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Candy Man by Amy Lane

Title: Candy Man

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 136 Pages

At a Glance: Highly recommended

Blurb: Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he’s taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that’s to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he’s applying to Candy Heaven and decides he’s much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam’s new boss, Darrin, doesn’t take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.

Dividers

Review: Let’s begin this review with discussing Darrin, who is the owner of Candy Heaven in Old Town Sacramento. The candy man has this neat little trick he does with Pixie Stix that makes what happens in this story a bit magical. I absolutely love when Amy Lane uses magic to weave her stories, and the magic begins in Candy Man when Darrin predicts, with the help of a Pixie Stix, that a disenchanted young man is headed in their direction and needs to be sweetened up a bit.

Adam Macias has a POS, broken down car that has caused him nothing but trouble, so after selling it for bus fare, he heads to Sacramento to housesit for his cousin Rico, who has left to serve an internship in New York. Adam finally makes it to Sacramento, but not before Rico has gone. What he soon finds out upon his arrival is that Rico’s cat is crazed and the dog, Clobber, is just a bit too affectionate, but at least he has a home for six months. Now, all Adam has to do is find a job.

Numerous attempts later, he comes across a Help Wanted sign in front of a shop called Candy Heaven, and applies for the position of general help. As they near closing time of Adam’s first day on the job, he nearly faints from hunger, so Darrin calls for a delivery from their resident sandwich boy, and this is how Adam and Finn first met.

And man, Finn crushes real bad on the tall, dark, and broody guy Darrin has just hired, and as they get to know each other, slowly, Finn finds out that Adam, under all his tough exterior, is a really sweet guy.

Candy Man is another winner by Amy Lane. I just love that she can surprise me with the way her mind works, and gets me to laugh out loud at how long it takes for a guy in the bathroom to do his business.

All in all, I highly recommend Candy Man to Amy Lane’s fans, and to her soon to be fans.








You can buy Candy Man here:

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane – Narrated by Gomez Pugh

Title: Turkey in the Snow

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours, 32 Minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Since Hank Calder’s four-year-old niece Josie came to live with him, his life has been plenty dramatic, thank you, and the last thing he needs is a swishy, flaming twinkie to complicate things. But when Justin, the daycare worker at his gym, offers to do something incredibly nice for Hank – and for Josie – Hank is forced to reconsider. Justin may be flamboyant in his speech and gestures, but his heart and kindness are as rock steady and dependable as anyone, even Hank, could ask for. Can Hank trust in his dramatic “turkey in the snow” to offer his heart the joy he and Josie have never known? Continue reading

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