Devon Rhodes, Giveaways, GRL 2015 Featured Blogger Tour, Totally Bound

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The GayRomLit Blog Tour Kickoff With Devon Rhodes

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I’m so happy to be here kicking off the GRL Blog Tour with The Novel Approach! October is going to be here before we know it. Can’t wait! Thanks to Lisa for having me on, and letting me talk about a topic near and dear to my heart.

My Military Guys—When News Creates Inspiration

110527-N-OA833-014 ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 27, 2011) Newly commissioned Navy and Marine Corps officers toss their hats during the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2011 graduation and commissioning ceremony. The Class of 2011 graduated 728 ensigns and 260 Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge/Released)

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 27, 2011) Newly commissioned Navy and Marine Corps officers toss their hats during the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2011 graduation and commissioning ceremony. The Class of 2011 graduated 728 ensigns and 260 Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge/Released)

One of the questions authors get most often is, where do you find inspiration for your books? The answer is usually a nebulous “Everywhere.” As well as having a brain that never turns off, I’m also very visual, so many times photos or people I see lead to a runaway imagination as I begin creating a story for that character.

Many years ago (before DADT was repealed in 2010), I had been scrolling through news (ie, wasting time surfing social media) and saw a photo that brought a smile to my face…and an idea into my head.

It was the white uniform that originally caught my attention, and not just because of the obvious reasons (hello—man in uniform). I grew up as a Navy brat—my dad was a Naval aviator and spent over 30 years in the Navy. So anything to do with dress whites or flybys always catches my eye.

The photo was similar to this one from the Wikipedia page, and was followed by another photo of a Marine and Naval graduate embracing. Immediately I thought, “What if…?” What if they were secretly more than friends? What would happen if they did care for each other…and were about to be posted in completely different places that they had no control over? I moved on from that photo and created my own two graduates and started writing the hat toss scene that begins A Ring and A Promise right away.

By the time I finished their story and had turned it in to my editor, the repeal of DADT was becoming a reality, and during the last few weeks before ARAAP was published, I asked to change a few things in the story to make it current with the new military stance. Their story still had plenty of conflict without risk of dishonorable expulsion as well.

That was a while ago, and I had left Cary and Owen in a firm HFN, since anything else would have been impossible in that timeline. But I never forgot about them—nor did my readers lol—so this year I decided to pick up their story toward the end of their initial five years of service, and wrote A Ring and A Vow. When it begins, Owen is in the Middle East, while Cary is stationed Stateside in Virginia. Cary had been the one moving their relationship forward in the last book, so I decided to have Owen be the one to come up with an idea to take their relationship to the next level…and hopefully get on the same continent!

Here is the blurb and an exclusive excerpt for A Ring and A Vow:

aringandavow_800Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow.

It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together.

About time for them to fill out paperwork to re-up, Owen realizes that if they were married, they’d have a much better chance of being stationed nearby. But time is not on their side, so he’s forced to compromise on his proposal in order to make it work.

Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him. However, between the chronic nightmares he’s been fighting and the ever more complicated wedding plans, the next month could be anything but a dream.

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Excerpt: It wasn’t very often they could do a face-to-face, between their duty schedules and the time difference of eight and a half hours, but sometimes breaking up a night’s sleep was worth it. Some shifting around on both their parts and he could finally see Owen’s grainy image. “Are you in bed?”

Owen smirked. “Is this one of those kind of calls?” he teased. They both knew that it wasn’t feasible to do any sort of phone sex—there just wasn’t enough privacy for Owen in the desert base camp.

“I wish.” The thought was tempting. Cary had the benefit of being alone behind a locked door, and he palmed his semi-hard cock. The nightmare had taken its effect, but Owen’s voice—combined with how long it had been since he’d seen his man—had him hardening as the last vestiges of his dream faded.

“Are you okay?”

The video was a bit choppy, but the concern in Owen’s voice was clear.

“Yeah. Fine.” Owen’s eyebrow rose and Cary confessed, “Just woke up…from a nightmare,” he added reluctantly. “And don’t ask.” He wasn’t going to tell him about it—no way—but he knew Owen wouldn’t leave it alone until he admitted what had him off-center.

“You sure you don’t want to talk about it?”

“Definitely. I’d rather hear what you’ve been up to.”

Owen shrugged and sat back in the chair. “Same old. Really looking forward to heading back stateside end of the month. Everyone is. You can just feel it—short-timer’s. You know.”

“Yeah.” And that was the crux of it, really. Cary’s worst fear was that so close to being reunited—or at least on the same continent again—that something bad would happen…

No! Stop it.

“You seem distracted. You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine.” His voice sounded curt to his own ears and he twisted the Academy ring on his finger while he tried to enjoy the rare chance to talk to Owen face-to-face. “So, it’s about time to make some decisions,” he changed the subject. They were both nearing the end of their first five years of service, and though the decision to re-up wasn’t a difficult one—neither one of them had gone into this to do a five-and-dive—figuring out what duty stations to put in for and trying to end up close to one another was the real challenge.

Owen nodded and a little smile teased at the corners of his eyes.

“What? Did you come up with a plan?” That would be the best news ever. Cary’s deadline to fill out his paperwork was the following month and he was nowhere near knowing what to do. The options for a Naval aviator were somewhat limited—and so were Marine officer stations—and unfortunately there weren’t that many that coincided. Owen was a seasoned combat veteran, and Cary had been on and off carriers with his squadron. In the past four plus years, they’d spent a scant number of days together. He would miss the guys if he left for a different posting, but being close to Owen was a greater priority for him. “Tell me you’ve worked something out.”

Owen nodded—one quick tip of the head.

Cary frowned at the screen and scooted closer. “Well?”

“Um, hold on a second.” Owen rose and the view rocked and rolled a little bit as he moved the computer on his end. “Fuck.”

Cary snickered at the curse. “What’s wrong? Not one of those camel spiders again.”

“Oh fuck off. I’d like to see your reaction if one crawled into bed with you.” More vertigo inducing motion. “When I was planning this, I forgot how short the damn headset cord is. I don’t have much time left, and it doesn’t reach.” A huge, frustrated sigh.

“Reach? What are you trying to do?”

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A Ring and a Vow was originally released in the Semper Fidelis anthology, but also released this week as a single, and is currently only $2.10 on Amazon

Also at: Totally Bound | B&N | ARe

When I’m not lost in my imagination, you can find me in beautiful Oregon and at: My Website | My Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY:

aringandapromise_800THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

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Hi, everyone, and thanks for stopping by for a peek at what we have coming up for you in the week ahead. Fortunately there’s lots of activity to report, and we’re also gearing up to kick off the GayRomLit Featured Blogger tour in our countdown to October in San Diego.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we first welcome Mary Calmes, who’s stopping by with a guest post and giveaway of her upcoming novel Forging the Future, Jin and Logan’s final chapter in the Change of Heart series

We’ll also have author Jaime Samms with us today, as she drops in with a giveaway and to chat a bit about her newest novel from Dreamspinner Press, Bound to Fall

Tuesday – We’ll have author L.A. Witt stopping in today on the Tide of War book tour with Riptide Publishing

Brita Addams is also here today with a guest blog about Caitlyn Jenner and her transition

Wednesday – Author Lissa Kasey will be dropping by today with a guest post about her upcoming novel Model Citizen

We’ll also be here to welcome author EM Lynley and the 24-Karat Conspiracy blog tour

Thursday – We’ve got a busy day today, starting off with the cover reveal of Piper Vaughn & Kenzie Cade’s new collaboration, Prickly Business

Next up will be author Annabelle Jacobs, who’ll be here to chat about her contribution to Blanket Fort Press’s Secrets Collection, Toy with Me

And we’ll also be kicking off the GayRomLit Featured Blogger tour today with our first guest, Devon Rhodes

Friday – Dropping by today on the Charlie’s Hero blog tour, we’ll have author Nic Starr with us

Saturday – And to close out the week, we’ll have a few of the participating authors in the Indigent charity anthology with us to talk about their participation in this special project

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And that’s that for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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4 Stars, Alt U, Devon Rhodes, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Taz, Totally Bound

Review: Bonfire Heart by Devon Rhodes

Title: Bonfire Heart

Author: Devon Rhodes

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 65 Pages

At a Glance: If you are looking for a fun, quick read to satisfy your romance palate, this is a great book for you.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Sometimes fires burn and destroy, but from the ashes, new growth can heal and cleanse.

Thierry Alexander is the deputy mayor of Chicago, a city he loves but can’t save on his own from the corrupt political system. His assistant and lover, Eduardo, is also known as Cesar, the head of the underground resistance movement. He has been working behind the scenes for years and finally gets what he needs—enough information to get the US government involved and take down the criminal elements strangling the city he loves.

But they need to act fast because legislation is about to be enacted that will give rise to social and ethnic purging in Chicago. Not knowing who they can trust, they will have to put their faith in one another and risk everything to save a city.

Publisher’s Note: This story has been previously released as part of the An Unconventional Chicago anthology by Totally Bound Publishing.

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Review: I have always been a big fan of Devon Rhodes. Not only a sunshiny person, but an author who knows how to deliver a story filled with depth. Shorter stories are usually hit or miss for me, mostly because with fewer words, there is less opportunity to develop plot, setting, and characters. While there was a small degree of that present in Bonfire Heart, I found myself drawn into the story from the opening pages. My only criticism: with more story I could have learned more about each character, the secondary characters, and the central problem in the story could’ve been fleshed out more deeply.

That being said, let’s get to what this talented author was able to deliver in such a short amount of space.

First and foremost, the two main characters, Thierry and Eduardo, are clearly in love. Their sex is piping hot, but more than that, they are clearly committed to each other. The central conflict in the story places both men in a dangerous situation, and they weather the struggle to persevere as a solid team. The tension within the story kept the pace fast and moving forward at all times. Even though I would have loved to learn more about the underbelly of Chicago and the sinister intentions of its corrupt leaders, the information would only have served to lengthen my reading experience (something I was yearning for but which the story certainly didn’t need). No part of the story was drawn out or disproportionate to other parts of the story, a difficult task when writing something under 15,000 words. What I mean by this is that Ms. Rhodes crafted an experience that gave us just enough to become invested, but avoided the pitfall of getting mired down on any one character or situation.

If you are looking for a fun, quick read to satisfy your romance palate, this is a great book for you.

TNA_Signature_Taz







 

You can buy Bonfire Heart here:

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Anthology, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Totally Bound

Review: Semper Fidelis – A Totally Bound Anthology

24058781Title: Semper Fidelis

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 213 Pages

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: ‘Anomaly’ by S.A. McAuley

Warning: Untested chemical reactions in process…

When Staff Sergeant Galen Welc is handed Temporary Additional Duty orders that move him to the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, he thinks he’s prepared for what’s to come. Known for his uncanny ability to spot improvised explosive devices, he’s pitted against the latest in defense technology. He trusts his instincts and his training, but they may just be leading him somewhere—and to an explosive reaction with someone—he could never see coming.

‘Always Ready’ by T.A. Chase

Making a living on the Bering Sea is hard enough, but throw love into the equation, and things can blow into a hurricane.

Senior Chief Dean ‘Jake’ Jacobson loves his job as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Saving lives is the second best thing he could ever do. The first is loving Phil ‘Rhody’ Rhodes.

Phil is a third generation crabber who fishes the Bering Sea. Being gay and in love with Dean isn’t something he talks about, especially not with the six men he lives with on the Angela Kayla for weeks on end. But he’s been happy with his life.

Until one day the Bering Sea reminds them that she is a dangerous place to work. As her icy waters surround them, they discover one truth. Dean and Phil must always be ready to love each other because life can be taken so easily when one works on the sea.

‘A Ring and a Vow’ by Devon Rhodes

Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow.

It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together.

About time for them to fill out paperwork to re-up, Owen realizes that if they were married, they’d have a much better chance of being stationed nearby. But time is not on their side, so he’s forced to compromise on his proposal in order to make it work.

Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him. However, between the chronic nightmares he’s been fighting and the ever more complicated wedding plans, the next month could be anything but a dream.
Publisher’s Note: This book is the sequel to A Ring and a Promise.

‘My Marine’ by LE Franks and Sara York

For a man who made his career in intelligence, falling for an Afghani national in the middle of a war zone wasn’t the smartest thing a Marine could do.

Marine Captain Sean Kelley loves his country and the men he serves with, but when he meets Akim, he’s tempted to throw it all away for the mysterious man. He knows better than to chase after a local, but repeat encounters culminating in a moment of passion leave him reeling—he’ll do almost anything to figure out how they can be together.

Akim Bijan has a secret of his own—one large enough to get more than just himself killed if it’s revealed. But from the moment he first lays eyes on the handsome Marine, he’s tempted to do just that rather than hide his growing attraction to the man. Being a translator allows him access to the base and he finds Sean alone one night. They take things farther than he ever intended. If only he could tell Sean everything, but his lips are sealed.

When tragedy strikes, Akim is afraid he’s lost Sean for good and he’s forced to make a decision that will change both their lives. Will love win—or will Sean and Akim be separated forever?

‘Soul Sick’ by Kendall McKenna

Jamie thought he made it home to Tucker, leaving war behind. Now, each day he battles to fit into his own life, and save the love that saved his life.

Jamie is a captain in the US Marine Corps who carried a photo of Tucker with him throughout his deployment. His body and his heart both make it home, but he isn’t sure about his sanity. It no longer feels as if his own life even fits.

Tucker is a reformed bad boy who has an advanced degree and an important job but still sports long hair and tattoos. He missed Jamie while he was deployed, but he couldn’t stop living his own life. Now, they’re struggling to learn to live with each other again, and things are going downhill fast.

Jamie wants everything to be the way it used to, but his anger and self-destructive behavior begin to push Tucker away. Too much alcohol and a night of violence inside their home take them nearly to the brink. Tucker is willing to fight alongside Jamie to keep it all from falling apart, if Jamie can learn to accept the help he needs…before it’s too late.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of domestic violence.

‘Safe Shores’ by Morticia Knight

Kirk’s Coast Guard lover, Shane, is the only person who can save his son from a vicious storm—if he’s not too late.

Fishing is the only life Kirk has ever known. Born and raised in a small town on the Northern Oregon Coast, coming out of the closet was a struggle. Fortunately, he’s been lucky to find an amazing man to be with who serves in the Coast Guard. But he can’t help but wonder whether Shane wants more than just a shore leave romance.

Shane loves the Coast Guard, loves the sea. That’s one of the main things he has in common with his fisherman lover, Kirk. He just needs to make sure that Kirk knows how serious he is about their relationship and what he plans on doing about it.

Shane and Kirk’s joyful reunion is interrupted when an unusually vicious gale storm threatens the coast. Kirk has to stand by helplessly and wait while his lover battles the raging seas to save his son. In an instant, Kirk could lose everyone he holds dear.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of BDSM.

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Review: Anomaly by S.A. McAuley

Staff Sergeant Galen Welc has a nickname—Magneto. He has this strange ability to uncover IED’s before they take out his brothers in arms. When he is sent to a training facility to pit his abilities against that of new military drones, the last thing Galen is expecting is to meet a man who pushes all his buttons in just the right way. When he finds out that the man he has just met is the scientist behind the creation of the latest drone, sparks fly!

While I liked the promise of this story, it was so short that I found myself wondering who these guys were and how they could ever really match up beyond their love for the challenge of being the fastest man to uncover IED’s. The romance element never went beyond a seeming one-night stand and I had to make the leap from that to a potential relationship by story’s end. I just really wanted to get to know these guys more, and we ran out of story before I could do that. 2.5 stars

Always Ready by T.A. Chase

Jake is part of the Coast Guard whose one job is to save lives on the open sea. Phil is a crabber—on the Bering Sea where storms and gale force winds are not uncommon. One man lives for the danger, the other for the rescue. Each lives for the other. But Phil is in the closet and afraid to tell his family that he is deeply in love with Jake. Two years of hiding and torrid, fast hookups on a rare weekend a month have left both men wondering about their jobs and the distance it forces between them and whether they can go on living so far apart.

For a short story, I felt there was such depth to these characters. Their love for each other was as apparent as was their love for their jobs. How to rectify the great distance between them that gave them only a weekend a month to be together was an overwhelming concern for both of them. I felt the real pull that Jake felt for his job versus his lover, Phil. Jake rescues people for a living and he loves his job—despite the real fact that sometimes mother nature wins and Jake cannot save everyone. Phil is poised to take over a many generation boating legacy and already feels strongly for his crew—viewing them as a captain would. But Phil is so tired of hiding his love for Jake and while Jake would never push Phil to come out, his own disastrous coming out story shadows how he thinks. Well written, the story of love and respect that these two men have for each other is palpable and told in such a way as to also prove to be a loving tribute to those who keep our waters safe. 4.5 stars

A Ring And A Vow by Devon Rhodes

First, let me say that reading this short sequel has made me go off and purchase the original novel this short story is based on. Secondly, I am hoping that a major plot point is somehow addressed in the initial book, as I felt it was the only weak spot in an otherwise lovely finish to the tale of two young men so very much in love.

Cary is a pilot in the navy, Owen is in the marines, and at the opening of the story is deployed in enemy territory. They have spent the five years since the academy, where they met and fell in love, being stationed apart and longing for each other. During that time, Cary has been plagued with violent nightmares of Owen’s death. One month prior to coming home, Owen finally makes good on his promise, given years before, and asks Cary to marry him. Cary accepts and the rest of this story describes their time together in small vignettes leading up to their actual wedding day.

I was smitten with these two young men right away. The story balanced both their inner thoughts and fears against their love and support for each other. I felt so drawn to them and enjoyed how each chapter seemed to be another peek at their whirlwind wedding preparations and their new assignments in their various branches of service.

However, I never felt that the near paralyzing nightmares that Cary had been experiencing were fully addressed and indeed, they just seemed to disappear altogether. While I know that having Owen home would and should relieve Cary of his dreams, I also know the author chose to have Cary plagued by a last nightmare after Owen was home and in his arms their first night. For me, never really stating that Cary’s nightmares were gone left a major plot point unfinished and was, absolutely, the only flaw in an otherwise lovely story. 4 stars

My Marine by LE Franks & Sara York

Sean Green has seen the Afghani interpreter, Akim, come and go on the base and has taken notice of him. If only he could speak with the man, find out more about him. But this is wartime and while the interpreter is aiding the US, he is also the enemy. Then one chance meeting, and lust and yearning take over, and suddenly Sean knows that when he is finally sent stateside again he will do everything in his power to bring Akim with him. But what if Akin is not who he says he is? What if he is hiding a secret that will tear the two men apart?

My Marine was a sweet story with a few interesting twists and turns. When Akim’s secret was revealed I must admit I was pretty surprised and to be honest, understood Sean’s reactions completely. And it was just here that the story fell apart a bit for me. Sean began with strong sentiments about how Akin had lied to him. He admitted to himself that it was like he never really knew Akim, so why the sudden and swift capitulation at the story’s end? I felt that both men should have worked a little harder at reestablishing trust and not moved into intimacy immediately. There had, up to that point, been a plausible and very interesting story—if only the ending had been just a bit more drawn out. 3.5 stars

Soul Sick by Kendall McKenna

Jamie brings more than external scars from shrapnel home from deployment. Inside he is still trapped on the battlefield, and he is rapidly losing ground. Tucker has been waiting a year for his lover, but the man who comes home bears little resemblance to the one who left, and Tucker is worried that if Jamie doesn’t seek help soon, more will be lost than their partnership.

This was a very raw look at the effects of PTSD on a returning soldier. Jamie simply comes unraveled, going as far as physically threatening Tucker. Jamie wants to have everything as it was, but even the smallest of things picks at him, making him bleed a little more each day. It is both sad and scary watching Jamie devolve into a madman who cannot always be reasoned with before he lashes out.

My only regret with this story was the way it jumped, seemingly without a segue, into the future, where Jamie was apparently beginning to turn things around with the help of counseling. Admittedly and wisely, author Kendall McKenna did not allow Jamie to be instantly “fixed”; rather, we saw his ongoing turmoil right up to the end. But it was the abrupt way in which we were thrust into this future time of recovery that jangled a bit. Suddenly we were there and made to understand that during this unmarked time, Tucker and Jamie had actually been sleeping apart. Because the ending seemed to thrust us into a future that had no explanation, I felt the story rushed to the end and we never had a sense of healing or, more importantly, rebuilt trust between the two lovers. 3 stars

Safe Shores by Morticia Knight

Months go by before Kirk, a small time fisherman, and his lover Shane, a coast guard diver, are able to see one another. But their relationship has only gotten better over the last two years, and this visit finds both of them contemplating saying those three little words that every one yearns to hear. But Kirk is older than Shane by ten years and has a son by a long dissolved marriage that keeps him tethered to the small town he grew up in. Can these two make a go of it when distance and time seem intent on keeping them apart?

Safe Shores is a full out love story between two men who are ready to take the leap at a future they both desire. Even though both feel deeply for the other, saying I love you does not roll easily off the tongue, and both Shane and Kirk are worried that the other may not be ready for such a huge commitment.

I really enjoyed this story. I felt immediately drawn to these characters and felt completely invested in their story as a result. I particularly liked how both the men were very strong in their own right—while BDSM was a brief part of this love story, it was done with strength and truth, making it very erotic. All in all, Safe Shores was a nice way to end this well done anthology. 5 stars






Semper Fidelis is currently available for purchase only from:

Totally Bound

Totally Bound

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