Flashback Friday, Giveaways

Flashback Friday and a TNA Giveaway

Flashback Friday

Welcome, one and all, to Flashback Friday, a new feature we’d like to try out on you here at The Novel Approach, a feature aimed at introducing you to some of the older books in the gay fiction and romance genre that you may not have heard about otherwise, especially if you happen to be a newcomer to the community.

During our Flashback Friday segments, which will go on until we run out of topics to talk about, we’ll tell you a bit about the books we’re featuring, what we loved about them, and we’ll even give you the chance to win an e-copy of one of the featured books, winner’s choice, so you can experience it for yourself.

One of the things we readers and reviewers in this genre are often asked, especially we women, is how we came to be so devoted to this particular niche set in the greater world of modern literature. Some of us have been around the genre for years, while others of us are newer consumers. Some of us have given credit to authors such as JR Ward and her Black Dagger Brotherhood series for our discovering gay romance, while others of us can give credit to nothing more than dumb luck and random chance. I happen to fall into the latter category.

Today’s Flashback Friday segment is dedicated to The First—the first book those of us who chose to participate ever read in this genre, why we gave it a go, and what clicked with us that helped us become devotees of gay romance and fiction.

To enter the giveaway, be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below.

And, as always, good luck!

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TNA_Signature_CHRIS I came to read M/M books through one of my favorite M/F authors, Lauren Dane. Her book Laid Bare is one of the first romances that showed the two men in love with each other, as well as with their third. The first time Ben and Todd kissed, I needed a cold shower. It was hot, sexy, and different than traditional hetero romance. It made me crave more stories that were like it. But there really weren’t any that I could find among traditional publishers. So, I went surfing the internet and found a whole genre to read.

My First M/M book was Without Reservation by J.L. Langley. It changed my life by opening doors to a whole new genre of romance. A genre that didn’t hold back and wasn’t afraid to be a little rough, a lot growly, sugary sweet and fabulously sassy, sometimes all in the same book. There were more diverse characters, more angst, more issues, but also more being able to accept yourself than in other genres. Without Reservation got me because at heart I’m a paranormal addict, I LOVE stories with shifters, witches, magic, and fae-kind. Mostly, though, Without Reservations had some of the best characters I’d read in a long time, and it showed us all that love overcomes. Love doesn’t distinguish eye or hair color, or height or weight, or, in this case, male or female. Love is Love and it shows Chay and Keaton just what that means.

Without ReservationsBlurb: Sometimes love just catches you by the tail.

Chayton Winston is a veterinarian. He is also a werewolf. Much to his Native American parent’s chagrin, he has always dreamed of a fair-haired, Caucasian mate. However, he never imagined his mate would be male. As a heterosexual man, he’s not quite sure what to do with a male mate, but more than willing to find out.

Keaton Reynolds wakes up, in wolf form, and finds himself with a mate. He’s instantly attracted, but not so thrilled to find out the man is straight. Having been in a relationship once before where his partner professed to be “Not gay” left a bad taste in his mouth. Keaton wants to make a break for it and pretend he never set eyes on Chay-but Chay is not ready to let him go.

Together the two work to solidify their shaky relationship and battle the prejudices against homosexuals. Chay must deal with not only his mother’s prejudices against gay men but also her hatred of white people.

When a power struggle in Keaton’s pack threatens Keaton’s life, the two men learn to depend on one another and their relationship to get them through it.

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TNA_Signature_Kathie My son came out on August 13, 2012. Wow, Kathie, you remember the date? You bet! We have it marked on the calendar and celebrate it each year. My struggle was, how can I support him? What does being gay mean? What kind of culture are we now a part of? We were helping with the Marriage Amendment in Minnesota at the time, spending two to three nights a week on the phones, but now we had skin in the game. I really think “Don’t Mess with a Mom” is so true. After our son came out and I hit the phones at the next phone bank, I was on fire. I know I turned quite a few voters that night, and every night after that, until the election. It was personal!

But really, how do you go up to a gay person and ask question about their sex life, gay bars, and stereotypes they are faced with? I couldn’t ask my son. How embarrassing would that be for a twenty-one year old, right?! So instead, I started looking for reading material and going to PFLAG meetings. In my search, I came upon a bio of an author, Brandon Shire. It read, “Great stories should not depend on gender or sexual preference of a character, but instead upon the strength of the characters and the honesty and urgency of the story. Brandon writes for people who enjoy being challenged, and for those who strive to understand situations they don’t typically encounter. He pens raw, emotional stories about characters which readers will either love or love to hate.”

I started reading Afflicted around 10:00pm one night, an usual reading time for me, and I was still reading it at 6:00am the next morning. Brandon Shire had pulled out every emotion from me. I had nothing left to give that day, so I called in sick! And, I have never looked back. I tried to read some of my favorite het authors after that, but they just didn’t hold a candle to the passion that was written in the M/M Books. I want my children to have all the passion that Brandon Shire writes about.

I read to dream, I read to be exposed to other cultures and places, and I read to connect to fellow M/M Authors and Readers.

AfflictedBlurb: A high-priced male escort and a blind gay man meet by chance. What ensues is a hot, steamy romance by two men looking for something more than a one night stand. But can they reach beyond their own insecurities to grasp what they really desire?

Hunter Stephens is gay, tall, dark haired and scorching hot. But he doesn’t rely on the visual cues when appraising a man because he’s also blind. He listens to the timbre of their voice, trembles at the touch of their skin and luxuriates in the deep richness of the aroma of man. He’s hard of the hand because he’s a black belt and takes no shit, but soft of the heart because he’s lonely and has been for a while.

Until he meets Dillon.

Dillon Chambers is pure man candy. He’s a high-priced male escort that works with an exclusive agency who handles only the wealthiest of clients. But it wasn’t always like that for him. At sixteen, he was thrown out of the house for being gay and struggled to survive, turning tricks on the street and finding food and a place to sleep wherever he could. He met two people that changed his life, but he has never met anyone who could break his heart.

Until he bumped into Hunter.

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TNA_Signature_Sammy I LOVE mysteries…no, love isn’t the right word…I INHALE mysteries…yes, that’s better! The Mystery genre has always been one of my favorites since I was a young girl. What young kid could not fall in love with Carolyn Keene, Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Certainly not me. So it would follow, then, that my favorite book is a mystery novel…but the world of M/M fiction is a far cry from the likes of Nancy Drew, and so I think I should explain first how I came to fall in love with a little book called The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks by Josh Lanyon. Let me begin by sharing a bit of a letter I sent to the author because it will help explain why the book is a favorite of mine. Here is an excerpt of a letter I wrote a few years ago.

Dear Josh,

I feel it important to tell you I’ve never written a fan letter before. Even as a teen I never felt moved enough by anything or anyone to do so.

When my dear friend David passed away some 14 months ago, his former lover Tom and myself helped his mother take care of his estate—which included cleaning out his condo. David had a habit that honestly used to drive me crazy—every time he read a book, he would make a note inside the front cover—first giving the novel a star rating and then a short sentence about how it affected him.

Tom and I must have gone through a hundred piles of books scattered all about his home before I spied one of yours—The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks. It had earned a 5 star rating—a rarity from my friend David—and had this note: “Read this author again—he gets it!! Plus writes a damn good story.”

I am not sure what he felt you got—perhaps how love can be both splendid and require work—I can only guess…

Thank you, Josh! Thank you for writing seriously good fiction that can both transport the reader beyond their own limited existence and still manage to sometimes speak directly to that existence simultaneously—that really is a gift.

And what a gift it was…The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks was my FIRST M/M novel. Mr. Lanyon’s book opened up a whole new world for me—one that has given me a source of some of the most amazing literature I have ever read.

“Perry’s sense of loneliness and loss returned in force, crashing over him like a wave, dragging him out to sea on an emotional riptide.”

From the opening pages of this book, the author pulls us into the story, grabs our heart and attaches it to his creations, his characters, until you are just so sure that you have known these men all your life. Perry, a young and struggling artist, has taken up residence in a Victorian-era boardinghouse, complete with a cast of eccentric and mysterious residents that would rival any cast the likes of which Agatha Christie had ever put on paper. When Perry’s vacation is cut short, he returns to his apartment, only to find a dead body in his bathtub—a body wearing yellow socks. Thus begins an adventure that would include ghost hunting, secret passages, hidden loot squirreled away by the mob and, of all things, love. From one intense moment to another, we watch as Perry falls deeper and deeper in love with Nick, an ex Navy SEAL, who is trying his best to turn his life around. A life that will not include some frail young man with the eyes of a fawn and a laugh that sends shivers down Nick’s spine…such lovely shivers. That’s right—a life that will not, should not, cannot… Oh dear, who are we kidding? Up until the last lines of this novel, we sit on the edge of our seats, wondering just what will happen to these two men. During the course of this novel, a novel so well crafted that the love shared by these two men never overshadows but instead augments the thrill of the mystery itself—all the time we read, we feel more and more like we have known these people all our lives. We have walked these halls, we have felt Perry’s pain, have lived on the cusp of a new and fragile love. This is the power of a great novel…a power that grabs you by the throat and grips your heart and takes you on the best ride you have ever had without ever leaving your living room.

I love this book, not only because my friend David loved it, and not only because it is a mystery. No, I love this book because it dares to say that despite all that life can manage to throw at you, there is love waiting there as well. That no matter how hard you fall, someone will catch you, someone will care for you, someone is watching out for you.

The Ghost Wore Yellow SocksBlurb: His romantic weekend in ruins, shy twenty-something artist Perry Foster learns that things can always get worse when he returns home from San Francisco to find a dead body in his bathtub. A dead body in a very ugly sportscoat — and matching socks. The dead man is a stranger to Perry, but that’s not much of a comfort; how did a strange dead man get in a locked flat at the isolated Alton Estate in the wilds of the “Northeast Kingdom” of Vermont? Perry turns to help from “tall, dark and hostile” former navy SEAL Nick Reno — but is Reno all that he seems?

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TNA_Signature_Lisa In April of 2009, a book was published that took me until April 25, 2010 to find. The fact I came across this book at all was a minor miracle—a combination of dumb luck, an Amazon recommendation (which, to this day, I can’t explain, since I’d never searched for gay romance on the site before then), a serious reading slump precipitated by a lack of strong and multi-dimensional female protagonists (I can tell you the exact series of books—and the female character—that turned me off of M/F romance forever), and, let’s call it like it is, a raging case of curiosity.

My first gay romance was Jane Seville’s Zero at the Bone, the story of a maxillofacial surgeon in the federal witness protection program, who is set to testify in a murder trial—but someone wants to make sure Dr. Jack Francisco doesn’t live long enough to see the inside of that courtroom.

Enter an assassin named D, the man hired to ensure Jack dies before he has the chance to testify. What begins as a murder-for-hire, though, quickly turns into a hostage situation and then a cross-country trek which proves costly to both of these men; costly, because somewhere along the way they’d lost their hearts to each other, even while knowing there was no way they could ever be together—especially since D has made it his mission to ensure Jack makes it safely to Boston to give his testimony; after which Jack will then, once again, disappear into a new life and identity.

Talk about an opposites attract story… And a little Stockholm Syndrome? Yep, absolutely.

First of all, let me say this book isn’t perfect. The epilogue in particular was an unnecessary chapter tacked on to a story that had already ended in the perfect way. I know there are also some readers who’d found D’s rural patois frustrating to read, though I wasn’t one of them. Rather, I felt it only added to his character, made him more believable as a man who believed his only and last resort was the life he’d fallen into. But even while it’s not perfect, hello, I’ve read it SEVEN times to date. What makes it such a fantastic reread for me? Action, danger, suspense, betrayal, and a man who’d become such a cold and calculated killing machine that he wondered if he was even still human anymore. And then, he began to feel. Jack woke something inside D that made him want, made him need, and I fell in love with Jack and D and what seemed would be an impossible love affair. I still pull it from my Kindle library and dust it off every so often, which I haven’t done since October of 2013. My sentimental feelings toward my first ever M/M read may dictate it’s time to give Jack and D another visit soon.

ZeroattheBoneBlurb: After witnessing a mob hit, surgeon Jack Francisco is put into protective custody to keep him safe until he can testify. A hitman known only as D is blackmailed into killing Jack, but when he tracks him down, his weary conscience won’t allow him to murder an innocent man. Finding in each other an unlikely ally, Jack and D are soon on the run from shadowy enemies. Forced to work together to survive, the two men forge a bond that ripens into unexpected passion. Jack sees the wounded soul beneath D’s cold, detached exterior, and D finds in Jack the person who can help him reclaim the man he once was. As the day of Jack’s testimony approaches, he and D find themselves not only fighting for their lives… but also fighting for their future. A future together.

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TNA_Signature_Sadonna My first M/M read is slightly out of the norm I would say. I was going through a really rough time personally, and my friend Tina had this group of books on her Goodreads feed. And she rated them 5 stars – which she RARELY does. So I saw they were free, and on-line, and I decided I was pretty bored with my YA, Paranormal, and Historical Fiction fare, so I’d give them a try. I had never heard of M/M before, and I don’t think she had the books shelved that way. I did read the book description and because I grew up in that era towards the end of the Cold War– in fact, I visited the USSR in 1979 as a high school exchange student to Finland, just before the “invasion” of Afghanistan – I was intrigued. I was a history major in college, and studied much of the history of this era – even referring to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia for a few classes. :)

To say that I was absolutely blown away by these books would be the understatement of the year. This is not a love story – this is an epic love saga, filled with obstacles and ultimately a satisfying resolution. This is the definition of enemies to lovers, and angst, and it all happens during a number of armed conflicts. I finished the nearly 1700 pages (around 1,000,000 words) between November 27 and December 7 of 2010, and it was some of the most impressive, brutal, beautiful storytelling I’d ever seen. I barely slept in the days that I was reading these books. I would work for 12 or so hours (I have a 3.5 – 4 hour commute each day), and read and maybe sleep a couple of hours. But I was completely obsessed with these books and these characters. They have vividly stayed with me since then – Vadim being my most revered, f*****d up character of all time. The bar was set pretty high, quite frankly. But I’ve never turned back.

Since then I’ve read probably 2100 M/M books. Obviously I’ve found my home. :) And I did tell Aleks Voinov the first time I met him at GRL ABQ in 2012 – and Tina – that it’s their fault that I have 9,000+ books in my Calibre library now, and will have to live to be 100 to read all these books!

Special ForcesSynopsis: Special Forces is the epic story of a Scottish SAS soldier and a Soviet spetsnaz soldier. Two enemies who meet in the line of duty during the early days of the Soviet Union’s last war in Afghanistan. Behind enemy lines respect and finally love grow… but that’s only the official version.

The reality of these two men is dark, brutal, fueled by aggression and insane lust. Steeped in pain and killing, with death as their shoulder companion, these Special Forces soldiers meet in 1980. Their intense hatred caused by rape, revenge and torture turning into fucked-up lust and years of secret encounters in the rat-infested labyrinth of Kabul and the Afghan mountains. Time, despair and desolation smoothing down the sharpness of hatred, its venom drained with each physical encounter, the lust helping to form an understanding that only two men of the same kind can share. Enemy Mine and Brothers in Arms – on two different sides.

This novel spans across over twenty-five years of their lives. It’s harsh and violent, but life is cruel and they just do what they need to survive.

NOTE: The Special Forces Series is already FREE and download links can be found HERE

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions apply
*All comments must be relevant to the prompt question to be eligible in the drawing

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5 Stars, Brandon Shire, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, TPG Books

Review: The Love of Wicked Men by Brandon Shire

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Title: The Love of Wicked Men

Author: Brandon Shire

Publisher: TPG Books

Pages/Word Count: 428 Pages

At a Glance: Season one of The Love of Wicked Men is undeniably one of the best novels I have ever read. I highly recommend it to you.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Power, lust, legal intrigue. This is where sex and injustice meet.

Sid Rivers and Jack Brown are two sides of the same coin. One is a lawyer with his own firm and dreams of money and power; the other is a criminal with a lengthy record and a quest for vengeance. When they meet, sparks fly. But was their meeting an accident? Or, was it planned by the billionaires who want to control their destiny?

The Love of Wicked Men is an erotic journey into the underbelly of the legal profession, the corporate culture of profit-at-any-cost, and the secret world of industrial espionage.

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Review: Begun as serial installments, where fans help shape the trajectory of each part, The Love Of Wicked Men is now published as Season One: Parts 1-6, in a gloriously long novel guaranteed to make your head spin at the sheer volume of players and the multi-layered plot. However, at the heart of this tour de force are two men, both superior at dispensing their own brand of justice, rather cavalierly cutthroat in their business dealings, and yet deeply loyal to somehow rectifying what they see as the greatest failure in their pasts. Both, you see, lost someone dear to them and are determined to either bring the culprit to justice or eradicate the memory altogether.

Sid Rivers has been reinventing himself for so long even he is unsure how to reach the real Self inside. A hungry lawyer bent on making money and forgetting his rather tawdry past, he will stop at nothing to feed his immense ego and bury the pain he carries inside. Jack Brown wants nothing more than to see his sister’s death avenged, and if that means risking the team who has been by his side for years, helping him fleece corporate America, then so be it. Somehow, whoever has contacted Sid with the latest way to rape another law firm, and make big money in the process, holds the key to unraveling the mystery Jack has been trying to crack for years.

No one and nothing is at it seems, and trust is nowhere to be found when these two men meet, but there is something there—something indefinable sparks between them, and a hunger neither has ever known before rears its head and locks Sid and Jack together. This goes deeper than simple lust. The feelings that develop as these two men play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with unseen enemies run much deeper than easing a sexual itch. Espionage, abductions, near death experiences all combine to create a ticking clock that pushes Sid and Jack further down a rabbit hole, where the only escape may be someone’s death.

My brain is buzzing. There was so much to this novel, and it was all written with rapier-sharp clarity, intriguing drama, and the hottest coupling of two admitted foes ever seen. I have enjoyed many pieces of work by author Brandon Shire, but this boxed set of six episodic stories was beyond anything he has ever written. The vast array of characters, the interweaving of two strangers, whose lives have such similar back stories, and the twisted and cleverly drawn plotlines makes this massive novel an absolute masterpiece.

There appears to be so little redeemable about Sid; from his over inflated ego to his nasty way of dismissing those he deems beneath him, I truly wondered how I could ever bring myself to care about whether this guy lived or died—in fact, I was rooting for the latter. Then Jack came on the scene and he knew—he saw all the vulnerability, the stains from a past that brought Sid to be who he was, and Jack felt something for the man despite his smarmy exterior. And, slowly but surely, we did too. To say these two had chemistry is to compare a nuclear reactor to a third grade science kit. Explosive does not begin to describe these men and every encounter they have.

I cannot pinpoint one thing that should make you read this book. I can only tell you that this novel is so compelling that I devoured it in record time, and may have whimpered at the end when I read that a second season may be planned. Season one of The Love of Wicked Men is undeniably one of the best novels I have ever read. I highly recommend it to you.

TNA_Signature_Sammy







 

You can buy The Love of Wicked Men here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Brandon Shire, Giveaways, Self-Published

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Wicked Men Blog Tour With Brandon Shire

Wicked Men Blitz BannerFirst, let me say thanks for hosting the Wicked Men blog tour. The creation of this lengthy novel was quite an adventure. Throughout the course of writing each episode, readers were offered the opportunity to give their input and suggestions on how they thought the story should move along. And I threw in a few twists and surprises along the way, just to keep them on their toes. The Wicked Men blitz features seven unique excerpts, so don’t miss any. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

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Wicked Men Box Set CoverBlurb: Sid Rivers and Jack Brown are two sides of the same coin. One is a lawyer with his own firm and dreams of money and power; the other is a criminal with a lengthy record and a quest for vengeance. When they meet, sparks fly. But was their meeting an accident? Or was it planned by the billionaires who want to control their destiny?

The Love of Wicked Men is an erotic journey into the underbelly of the legal profession, the corporate culture of profit-at-any-cost, and the secret world of industrial espionage.

Purchase Links:

Buy direct from Brandon and save $1 with coupon code ilovemen at checkout!: Mobi | Epub 

Also available at the following retailers: Amazon | ARe | Kobo

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Excerpt: As he pulled up to the pumps, Jack’s attention was caught by the mechanic’s jean clad ass poking in the air. He was bent over the hood of an old Mustang and seemed intent on whatever he was trying to fix.

Jack did a double-take as the man stood to wipe his hands. He didn’t have jeans on. He wore a pair of bib overalls with one strap securing them over an exposed and completely smooth chest. He wasn’t scrawny by any means, but he wasn’t quite up to a medium build either. And yet, there was something sensual about the way he moved. Where he should’ve been tanned, his skin was almost white against the sinking sun.

Jack nearly drooled at the way the strap hung off one side of his chest, the way his waist flared slightly before diving under the cover of the worn denim. His skin looked baby soft, even from a distance. Jack could feel a stirring in his groin.

Maybe this was Lori’s gift right here. He sure could use a bit of fun.

The mechanic turned slightly, as if aware of Jack’s interest, and checked out the lot. When their eyes met, he looked away immediately, the rag in his hand suddenly fumbling. He smiled slightly but kept his eyes downcast.

Intrigued at his shyness, Jack discreetly ogled him as he pumped gas. He had a long face and a sinewy, angular body. But his homely expression told a story of seemingly self-inflicted and awkward ineptitude around people, which, if Jack had to guess, had marred much of his twenty-something life.

Give him bare feet, a straw hat and a piece of grass to chew on, and he’d be the epitome of every bigoted comment Jack had ever heard about the redneck Southern male. But damn if Jack didn’t think he was oddly attractive.

Jack returned the nozzle to the pump and tightened the gas cap. The mechanic kept throwing over surreptitious glances while pretending to work. But Jack couldn’t tell if it was a sexual interest or just natural curiosity. He got hit on by women all the time, but men were a little more careful with their overtures because of his size.

What the hell, he thought. He’d give it a shot. The worst that could happen is he’d go home alone like he’d done almost every night for the last three years.

The mechanic straightened when Jack approached, wiping his hands with a cautious wariness.

“Are you the mechanic here?” Jack asked.

“Some days,” he answered quietly, not quite meeting Jack’s stare.

“My car sounds a little funny. It’s a rental, but I don’t want to get stuck and have to wait four hours for a tow. Can you have a listen, maybe take a look?” Jack asked hopefully.

He seemed relieved that the car was the center of attention. “Sure, pull it over.”

Jack drove the car over and popped the hood. He got out and watched as the guy went through the basics.

“Sounds fine to me,” he said as he checked the fluid levels. “What was the noise like?”

“It was rattling,” Jack lied. The car had been running fine. But there was something about this guy… He didn’t seem like the brightest light bulb in the pack, but he exuded a curious gentleness Jack couldn’t seem to resist. Weird, he thought as another male voice bellowed from inside the garage.

“Shane? Where the fuck are you?”

“Helping a customer,” Shane yelled before he started turning to the sound.

When Jack glanced over Shane’s shoulder, he saw an older man frown and come out of the shadows of the garage. “That ain’t your job. I need this done,” he said, hooking his thumb at the Mustang. “Buddy’s on his way to pick it up.”

Shane seemed to shrink in on himself before he scurried back into the garage. “I’m just finishing it up,” he offered as he went. He didn’t look at Jack again.

The older man came to Jack. He had a beer gut and greasy looking beard. He tried to hoist his gut in and maybe bring himself to Jack’s height, but he didn’t quite make it. Jack disliked him instantly.

But this wasn’t Jack’s quarrel, and he still didn’t know if Shane was interested. He quelled his burgeoning anger and slammed the hood closed.

“Don’t mind Shane. He’s a little slow. What can I do you for?”

“Shane already took care of it, but thanks,” Jack answered. “Is there a bathroom I can use?”

The man regarded him as if he were sizing him up. But Jack knew his type. He would run his mouth if his buddies were around but was as quiet as a fucking church mouse when he was alone. “Sure. Down the side of the building there. Lemme get you the key,” he offered politely.

He went inside and returned, handing Jack the key without a peep.

Jack took his time in the bathroom. He legs ached from sitting in the car all day and the long drive. When he came out, the older man had disappeared and Shane was under the hood of the Mustang again.

Jack came up behind him, admiring the way his slightly long hair fell over his ears. “Can I give this to you?” he asked, holding out the key to the restroom.

Shane stood. “Sure, I can bring it in.” He took it from Jack without meeting his eye.

Jack took a twenty from his pocket and put it in his hand with the key.

“What’s that for?”

“You checked the car. Every mechanic I know gets paid to do that.”

He snuck a glance at Jack, and then dropped his eyes. “I ain’t a real mechanic,” he admitted. “My uncle only lets me work a few hours here and there to keep me out of trouble.”

“Take it anyway.”

Shane waved it away. “Wouldn’t be right.” He put the bill back in Jack’s hand and folded Jack’s fingers around it. His touch lingered. “But I appreciate it,” he said with a warm sincerity.

Jack finally got a glimpse of his eyes. They were soft and brown and sending mixed messages to Jack’s brain and…other parts of his anatomy. Shane’s hands, despite the grease, were soft, and very warm.

“Well, let me buy you a drink or something… Can I do that?” Jack asked quietly. “You said you were finishing up.”

Shane peered furtively into the shadows of the station, looking for his uncle. “Don’t really drink around town here. Usually gets me in trouble.”

Somehow, Jack doubted that story. More likely, the local boneheads fucked with him because they thought Shane wasn’t on the same level with the stud-filled lies they told about themselves.

Jack frowned inside. Weirdly, he wanted to protect Shane, or was it possess him? He wasn’t quite sure. And he still wasn’t sure if there was any real interest on Shane’s part. He decided to play it safe and be on his way. The last thing he needed was trouble with a bunch of yokels who thought he was trying to spread his queer version of moral corruption.

“Anywhere around here I can grab a quick bite to eat?” Jack asked before he started for the car. “I’m starving.”

“Up the road on the right, there’s a place called Bonnie’s. She’s got good food, and you’re just in time for dinner. Tell her I sent you.”

Jack waited for a more definitive sign of interest. But Shane only smiled and went back to work.

He could’ve sworn… But it wasn’t the first time his gaydar had been entirely wrong either. He hung his head in disappointment, got in the car, and drove to Bonnie’s.

The food at Bonnie’s was good, but the service was a little slow. It was strictly a comfort food café, which served the locals and an occasional traveler like himself. Jack was halfway through a mound of meatloaf and potatoes when Shane strolled in and went straight to a counter stool. He either didn’t notice Jack or pretended not to. The locals called out their greeting to him and he nodded all around without actually acknowledging anyone, in particular.

Keeps himself distant on purpose, Jack thought as he watched.

The waitress, an older woman with an obvious affection for Shane, put a cola in front of him without asking. She hollered an order into the kitchen which matched Jack’s blue plate special, and then spoke quietly, nodding in Jack’s direction. Shane turned, noticing him for the first time.

He came over immediately. “Sorry, my manners…” He glanced at the waitress, thanking her with a nod. “Didn’t even notice you. Thought you would’ve been gone by now.”

“No problem,” Jack answered. Even if he’d wolfed his food down, he doubted he would’ve made a dent in the plate in front of him in any short amount of time.

“How’s the food?” Shane asked.

“Like you said, good. There’s just a lot of it.”

Shane chuckled, and then quickly surveyed the other patrons, as if someone might have overheard it and objected. Jack got the distinct impression that Shane had spent much of his life disappointed and used his laugh as a wedge against it, even as that laugh was held against him.

“Why don’t you join me?” Jack asked, extending his arm to the opposite side of the booth.

Shane put his hands out. “No, I couldn’t. Don’t want to disturb you.”

“I insist.”

Shane checked over his shoulder. The waitress was still watching even as she waited on another customer. She gave some sign that apparently only Shane saw because he came forward and sat with a slight and bashful smile.

A few silent minutes later, the waitress reappeared with a plate as hot and heaping as Jack’s had been when he first sat down.

“Shane Parker,” she admonished. “You go wash your hands, right now. You’re not getting my silverware full of grease again.”

He turned three shades of red. “Miss Bonnie…”

She pointed. “Go.” He frowned, then flushed again as he saw Jack smirk and thrust his chin toward the bathrooms.

The waitress turned on Jack once Shane was inside. The congenial smile she’d worn when Jack first came in was completely gone. Her voice was a harsh whisper. “Don’t you dare hurt that boy.”

Jack sat back and gaped at her, too stunned to be angry. “Excuse me?”

She put both hands on the table, leaning towards him. Jack wasn’t afraid of many people, but this little old woman behaved as if she might carve his eyeballs out with one of her teaspoons.

“Shane’s…special. And he’s been through enough. Couple of your kind beat and robbed him while he was in Atlanta, and now he’s a little…touched.”

“My kind?” Jack asked.

Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t much approve, but Shane is who he is. But you hurt him…” she left the sentence unfinished when she heard the door to the restroom open. Her smile suddenly reappeared as she turned to him, checking his hands before she allowed him to sit and eat his meal.

She threw Jack a look as she walked away. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen such a transformation. She was actually scary.

“She’s got a good apple pie,” Shane suggested when he noticed Jack had stopped eating. He dove into his own plate.

Jack watched the waitress greet new customers and cocked his head, still in disbelief. Where the fuck had that come from? Did he look like a serial killer? He brought his attention back to Shane. “No, I don’t think I can finish this. But thanks,” he said as he picked up his fork again.

Shane glanced across the restaurant at the waitress, then at Jack. A frown popped up. “She, uh, say something?”

“I think she meant well,” Jack answered politely.

Shane’s lips pursed together in annoyance. “They always do, don’t they?”

 

Dividers

Brandon ShireAbout the Author: Great stories should not depend on gender or sexual preference of a character, but instead upon the strength of the characters and the honesty and urgency of the story.

Brandon Shire proves he understands the complexity of writing LGBT fiction from two very different viewpoints – serious and smexy. His serious fiction is written for those who enjoy a book, which explores life’s darker elements in a more literary form, while the smexy fiction is for those who enjoy a graphically erotic romance.

Regardless of the differentiation above, Brandon writes for people who enjoy being challenged, and for those who strive to understand situations they don’t typically encounter. He pens raw, emotional stories about characters, which readers will either love or love to hate.

Life and love are pretty damned special, but neither is always perfect. Life can be painful, and real love hard to find. Brandon’s fiction is an exploration of the (sometimes) arduous search for the happiness we all desire.

Connect with Brandon: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | GooglePlus | Tumblr

Dividers The Giveaway

Using Rafflecopter below, enter to win ecopies of all Brandon’s books, or one of five e-copies of The Love of Wicked Men Box Set. Open internationally. Must be 18 years or older to enter.

Rafflecopter GiveawayDividers Follow the Tour: 

June 11: Diverse Reader & Boys in Our Books

June 12: 3 Chicks After Dark, Attention Is Arbitrary, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Bike Book Reviews, Book Reviews & More by Kathy, Charlie Cochet, Cup o’ Porn, Divine Magazine, Foxylutely, Gay Media Reviews, GGR-Review, Hearts On Fire, Love Bytes, Multitaskingmommas Book Reviews, Nautical Star Books, The Novel Approach, On Top Down Under Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words & Sinfully… Addicted to All Male Romance

Tour and materials organized by PAS Promotions

 

 

 

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, folks! Welcome back to another look at what we have in store for you here at The Novel Approach in the week ahead. We’ve got some truly excellent guests stopping by this week to offer good words and giveaways to all of you, so enjoy this little preview of what you can expect in the next six days.

Dividers

Monday – Kicking off our week, we have Alex A. Akira on deck to chat a bit about his Dojo Boys series

We’ll also have Hayden Thorne dropping by today to talk about her new book The Golem Upstairs, book two in the Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles series

Tuesday – Author Ann Lister makes The Novel Approach a stop today on her Meant for Me blog tour

And we’ll also be helping Eden Winters reveal the new covers in her Diversion series

WednesdayBelinda Burke will be our guest today on her Undone blog tour

Cardeno C. joins us, too, with four new(ish) releases—re-releases to be more specific—on the horizon, and the chance for four lucky readers to win one of those e-books

We’ll also have a new edition of DSP Publications’ “Genre Talk”, and this time Carole Cummings herself is in the hot-seat, courtesy of J Tullos Hennig, talking a bit about her upcoming Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel Blue on Black

Thursday – On tour for the re-release of book two in the Flesh series, we’ll have Ethan Stone with us to chat about Flesh & Blood

We’ll also have author Robert Halliwell joining us to talk cover art and his new book A Way Back to Then, book seven in John Goode’s Tales From Foster High series

Friday – Author Brandon Shire drops in today on his Wicked Men blog tour

Also joining us is RJ Scott, who’s here to talk about her new release, Retrograde

Saturday – And closing out our week, we’ll have authors Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese dropping by on their Phoenix blog tour

As well as Joe Cosentino, who’ll be here to talk a bit about his new novel Drama Queen, and why he created the series

Dividers

And that does it for today. Until next Sunday, happy reading!

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5 Stars, Brandon Shire, Drama, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, TPG Books

Review: Summer Symphony by Brandon Shire

Title: Summer Symphony

Author: Brandon Shire

Publisher: TPG Books

Pages/Word Count: 164 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart. He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his façade strong and firm for the entire world to see. Continue reading

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All Romance Ebooks, Brandon Shire, Self-Published

Brandon Shire’s “Heart of Timber” Brings You In From The “Cold”



“If only. Those were two very big, impossible words.” – Brandon Shire


Blurb: Two years after watching Anderson walk out of the prison gates, Lem has a visitor who informs him that Anderson desperately needs his help. He scoffs at the idea until he is given an offer that he cannot refuse. He doesn’t know if he is finally ready to make peace with himself outside prison, or if he is ready to face the pain he has caused, but he also understands that he will never get another chance like this.

Anderson has tried to push Lem to the back of his heart, but he cannot find anyone who can measure up to the man that Lem was. Letters he meant to send sit on the table, and the dreams he had about rebuilding his life go by the wayside as he pines for a man he cannot have. He doesn’t believe he will ever be happy again and finds it increasingly difficult to keep up the cheerful facade his family expects.

But unknown to Anderson, the women in his life have colluded to bring him and Lem back together again. Will he and Lem rekindle their love, or will they burn everyone around them by falling back to their past mistakes?
Continue reading

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Brandon Shire, Self-Published

The Book That Brought Me To Tears, And The Author Who Did It – Please Welcome Brandon Shire

We have the rest of forever for regret… – Brandon Shire

Lem Porter is nearly two decades into the life sentence he was given for committing cold-blooded murder, but only he knows why he committed that crime and, let’s face it, at six-foot-six and nearly three-hundred pounds, there aren’t a lot of people who have the courage to challenge Lem for the answers he’s not willing to give. Not yet, at least.

Enter Anderson Passero, who couldn’t be a greater contradiction in terms of his likeness to Lem. Anderson was convicted of selling drugs in the night club he owned with his partner, Jacob, and whether Anderson was wholly complicit in the affairs that led to his arrest, or he merely was caught in the crossfire of greed and arrogance, it didn’t matter in the end. He was convicted, albeit it to a lesser crime than Jacob, and he is now at the tail end of his ten year sentence. Just eight more months to serve, then he’s finally free to begin reassembling some sort of life outside his prison walls.

When the beacon of light at the end of Anderson’s very dark and very long journey begins to grow brighter with each day that passes, the single goal in his life is to keep his head down and his nose clean, striving to bypass any hint of drama that might throw a hitch into his imminent release, and that means avoiding any entanglements or encounters that might lead him to trouble. One of the numerous negative aspects about prison, however, is that no matter how far out of the way a man may go to avoid it, trouble, when it’s determined enough, will always find a way. And it’s trouble of the potentially disastrous sort that ultimately brings Lem and Anderson together, this trouble in the form of a cold and sadistic man who takes an intense interest in a very unwilling Anderson, something that leads to a multitude of problems for Anderson and Lem both, though it will bond them irrevocably to each other, for better or for worse, through fear and lust, and through longing and regrets.

There’s an inherent tragedy to the story of two men who form an intimate bond with each other within a setting that affords so very little opportunity for true or lasting intimacy, especially when circumstances provide the ultimate conflict of desires, but Brandon Shire capitalizes on this facet of the prison drama, skillfully feasting upon and serving up to the reader all the heartache and yearning Anderson and Lem have for something more than is possible for them to hope for. Cold is a book that is sometimes frightening and sometimes heartbreaking, a complex love story that is a contrast of thoughts and feelings. It’s a book about loss–the loss of freedom, the loss of choice, the loss of trust and privacy, the loss of connection–that left me anxious and hopeful and yearning for more from these characters.

I don’t mind confessing that the end of this book left me in tears, but take heart: there is a sequel in the works, so let’s thank the Muses that Mr. Shire is brave enough to pursue some of those questions that Lem, dear dichotomous Lem, has so adamantly refused to answer just now. The fact that the author was capable of making Lem a sympathetic character is truly impressive; the fact that he was capable of making me yearn for a happy ending for Anderson and Lem is nothing less than pitch-perfect storytelling.

Click on the image for buy links:

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Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions about Cold, Brandon. Bruce and I are honored to have you with us today.

Q.) What inspired you to write a prison drama?

A: There were multiple elements that made me chose prison as a backdrop.

The two MC’s in the story are so completely different that it would be highly unlikely they would mix ‘in the real world.’ So there had to be an element that would place them together and really force them to look beyond the stereotypes they had built. Ironically, this becomes a self-examination about the idea of compatibility and how they view a potential partner. It’s a struggle for both of them.

The subtext in that was also designed to challenge the reader’s view of what is just and unjust, who is viewed as a ‘prisoner’ and who as a ‘human’. I think this will be challenged much more when we find out why Lem killed his brother in the next book.

Q.) Did you base Lem’s and Anderson’s crimes and/or characters on any real-world events or people?

A: Anderson was easy. Drug abuse within the LGBT community is very high, so you could pick out any number of people that you think might be on their way to prison if they don’t get themselves straightened out and there would be Anderson sitting in front of you. For Lem, who was a convicted murderer, I had a consultant who spent over 20 years in prison for the same charge. A lot of what we spoke about is reflected within his character.

Q.) Was one character more difficult to write than the other? If so, was that Lem or Anderson, and why?

A: I would have to say Lem, because he is such a big, quiet, gentle man that it was hard to draw him out of his shell enough to speak to me (and thus to Anderson.) But while persuading him to give us that information, it was impossible not to see his dark side too, which is, honestly, scary.

Q.) Were there any built-in difficulties in writing a book set within the limited confines of prison walls?

A: (Laughs) Yes, the sex. From what my consultant told me the shower is the main area for sexual activity because it is one of the only places where you are allowed some privacy. You can only do so many shower scenes in a book. :)

Q.) How long did it take you to write the book?

A: From first word to publication, about six months. That is the usual with all my writing. The longest I ever spent on a book was ten years (because the subject matter was so hard.)

Q.) In spite of Lem’s crimes, I found him to be such a sympathetic character. Did you ever find yourself wondering, as you were writing the book, if you were succeeding in achieving, or maybe I should say tipping, that balance in the right direction?

A: I spent many, many hours talking to my consultant, and we have become close friends. I think in our current society we are too quick on judgment. The crap you see on television doesn’t encompass the real people behind the hyped up media stories. That’s not to say that people don’t deserve punishment for crimes, but that they should still be viewed as people first.

Q.) Do you have any works-in-progress you’d like to share a little bit about with readers?

A: I’ll be working on a follow-up novel for COLD, though I have no idea what the title will be at this point. When I first started writing, the intent was for a single novel, but the muse had different ideas. I also have several sci-fi novels in the works. The novels are complete but fans have asked that I convert the characters to reflect a broader spectrum of the LGBTQ rainbow. And there is more romance coming too.

Q.) Where can readers find you on the internet?

A: Just about anywhere except Facebook. My website is brandonshire.com and there are links to all my social media outlets. Fans have also created a group on Goodreads and anyone is welcome to join. I stop in often.

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Allen Mack, Allison Cassatta, Anyta Sunday, Brandon Shire, Poppy Dennison, Storm Moon Press

What’s Coming Up This Week?


Here’s what Bruce and I have on tap for the week ahead!

Monday – Brandon Shire will be our guest, answering a few questions about his new book Cold, a book that definitely left me wanting more!
Tuesday – Bruce reviews Poppy Dennison’s Soul Magic, book 3 in the Triad series
Wednesday – Allison Cassatta’s Dear Diary will be the featured review of the day
Thursday – Brings a little Lenny For Your Thoughts by Anyta Sunday
FridayDorian’s World, Allen Mack’s foray into futuristic Alt U, is on tap
Saturday – Storm Moon Press will be our guest with a post for the upcoming Dracones anthology

Happy reading and have a fantastic week!

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Brandon Shire, TPG Books

In Which I Ugly-Cried. Or Maybe I’m Just A Weenie: Listening to Dust by Brandon Shire

Death ends a life, not a relationship. – Mitch Albom

The following is being provided as a free public service guide: How to survive Brandon Shire’s, Listening to Dust. By: Yours Truly

Step One: Secure a butter knife (preferably rusty) and a rubber mallet.
Step Two: Place butter knife, blunt tip facing chest, somewhere in the vicinity of the heart, ensuring the blade’s trajectory will aim between the ribs so as not to hinder its progress during this carefully orchestrated procedure.
Step Three: Holding the knife in your left hand, firmly grasp the rubber mallet in your right; then use the mallet to hammer repeatedly on the knife handle until the rusty (recommended) blade passes through the skin and muscle, and lodges neatly into your poor, abused heart, being careful to avoid any major arteries, as bleeding out too quickly will prematurely relieve the agony, and really, who wants that?
Step Four: Once butter knife has been wedged firmly in the cardiac muscle, twist in earnest for maximum effect.
Step Five: Twist again just because.

There, see? That wasn’t so bad now was it? And trust me when I say it will make reading this heartbreaking story of love and denial and loss feel like sunshine and rainbows in comparison.

You’re welcome.

Listening to Dust is an uncompromising story of the tragic ending to a romance that, truth be told, was destined to fail before it ever began. Dusty Earl is not a man who will ever find peace in or escape from his own sexuality in spite of the fact that the months he spent with Stephen Dobbins, when Dusty was able, for that brief time in his life, to become Dustin and to grasp hold of an ephemeral and ever elusive thread of equilibrium, had maybe caused Dusty to feel something like a quiet place amidst the confusion and conflict born in a place to which he knows he’s obligated by duty to return one day.

This is a story told in a series of memories and letters, as well as in conversation between Stephen and Dustin’s younger brother Robbie, a young man whose inherent innocence, kindness, and compassion supersede the unfortunate impairment that has caused him to be mislabeled a dummy, and precludes the fact that he’s awaiting a verdict from the jury in a trial in which he’s being prosecuted for murder.

This book is an illustration of the influence of bigotry on a man from a small Southern town, a place from which Dusty escaped, joining the military in hopes of eventually being able to provide a better life for Robbie than the one they’d ever been offered within the extreme dysfunction of their family. It is a story of a modicum of freedom found three-thousand mile away, in a place where Dustin was able, for once, to withstand the burden of his self-loathing because he’d finally found someone who made it all a little easier to impersonate a man who will suffer a shred of reason in his unreasoned world. It was a place where, for a moment, Dustin was finally able to ask for and accept the gift that was offered to him, was able to give as much of himself as he ever had. And then he turned and walked away for the sake of his brother, as well as, I believe, for Stephen. A sacrifice that, in the end, fate would twist into the saddest of ironies, in which Robbie’s life would be forever impacted anyway by Dusty’s love for another man, and Stephen’s would be impacted by the fact that the man whom he believed had merely suffered his love, truly did love him in return, in the only way he was able.

In a poetic prose that only served to increase the emotional quotient of this already moving story, Brandon Shire paints a picture of a disillusioned man who tries so hard to run from the truth, though he can’t run far enough to hide from who he is. It is a story of hope and despair and of the promise of love that’s discarded like the flotsam and jetsam left behind in a life laid to waste by the liars whose words have wormed their way into Dustin’s psyche until those lies became the truths he wore like scars, convincing him that love wasn’t meant for someone like him. And in an equally though altogether different tragedy, the detritus of those lies brings about the destruction of Stephen’s dreams and costs him far more than he ever imagined he’d have to pay. Listening to Dust offers no happily-ever-after to the reader. It is brutal in its honesty and keeps counsel with the reality that sometimes a moment-to-moment happiness is the best we can hope for while we navigate this mortal coil without promise of anything more than that.

I loved this book for its uncompromising portrayal of its characters and their hardships. It doesn’t pull any punches, nor does it sugarcoat its truths to make them more palatable to a wider audience. If you want your fiction tied up in a lovely bow of forever after, don’t come looking here; you won’t find it. But, I’d hate to see anyone miss out on this story for fear of shedding a few tears along the way. They’re well worth it.

You can buy Listening to Dust here:


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