Giveaways, Jon Michaelsen

Guest Post and Giveaway: Prince of the Sea by Jon Michaelsen

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Jon Michaelsen today to chat about his new novel Prince of the Sea. Enjoy this interview Jon put together with his friend Mark McNease, and then be sure to check out the giveaway. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good Luck!

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Hello everyone! Thank you, Lisa, for providing me this wonderful opportunity to chat a little about my newest release, PRINCE of the SEA. But instead of me rambling on, I thought a wonderful way to share more details about the novella is to have an author friend who has read it, Mark McNease, author of the Kyle Callahan Mysteries, ask a few detailed questions related to the story. First the questions, then the blurb follows.

5 Questions for Jon Michaelsen about ‘Prince of the Sea’

1 – MM: ‘Prince of the Sea’ is described as a paranormal romance. What inspired you to write in that genre?

JM: I started penning stories early in life, but didn’t seriously consider getting them published until six years ago. Everything I’ve published to date has included a mystery or suspense/thriller theme with gay protagonists, sometimes interwoven with a little romance. Ironically, paranormal romance was never a genre I considered writing until a story began rumbling around in my thoughts a few years ago. I was spending a lot of time on the road alone traveling between Atlanta and Jacksonville, Florida, where my family lives close to the beach, visiting with my ailing grandmother. Being near the water was cathartic and inspiring, and after numerous road-trips, I’d worked through the story arc in my head. Eventually, I sat down to write the story following my grandmother’s death. In fact, Frances La Roche, the cantankerous old woman with a heart of gold featured in the story, is loosely based on my grandmother.  I consider the story paranormal romance versus m/m romance because it doesn’t necessarily follow the standard tropes of m/m and I don’t want anyone to come away disappointed thinking they’re getting something different. Of course, I had to throw a little mystery, suspense/thriller theme in, but the story does have a “HFN” ending.    

2 – MM: What came first for you – the story of the characters, or the story of Tybee Island? If they were symbiotic, how did they develop together?

JM: Tybee Island came first. In fact I went to a college in southern Georgia a couple hours from the coast, and spent many weekends on the shores of Tybee, which is about ten minutes east of Savannah. The island was very laid back and to this day undisturbed by over commercialization. The setting is symbolic as perhaps the only place in this country where such a story might happen. I’ve always wanted to feature the island as a setting, so when the idea for Prince of the Sea came to me, I knew that I could capture the essence of the quaint beach town from personal experience.     

3 – MM: How did Tybee Island (and its secrets) inspire you?

JM: Featuring Tybee Island in a story one day came from my love of the unspoiled coastal community. It’s such a quiet, magical islet which still holds a special place in my after all these years. Its secrets are of my own imagination, as is the subtle paranormal element of the story. However, the beautiful scenery, narrow streets, lighthouse, breakwater and giant pier are very real and integral to both the island and the story.

4 – MM: ‘Prince of the Sea’ is a novella. Was that a deliberate decision? Why a novella, as opposed to a novel?

JM: I’d first imagined the tale as a short story, but after several revisions, there seemed to be more about the characters to flush out and thus the novella length. There is definitely room for more expansion of the story, and I already have an idea for a sequel.  

5 – MM: I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending is hopeful. Did you plan that? And what did you learn from writing a paranormal romance?

JM: From the beginning, I envisioned the ending as originally written, with no intention of elaborating. However, as time has passed since I first wrote the story, I’ve perceived an idea for a sequel, so who knows. There most definitely could be more of Jonathan and Lucius to come.

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PrinceoftheSea_400x600_dpi150_MEDBlurbCan a broken heart find love at the bottom of the ocean?

Jonathan Lemke’s ten-year relationship has hit the skids. In a last ditch effort to salvage their partnership, to rekindle the passion they once shared together, he rents a beach house on the southern Georgia coast on a tiny island known as Tybee, a community that happens to be his birthplace that he’s not visited in over twenty years. A vacation, he thought would provide two weeks of paradise away from demanding careers and purge the longing he’d felt for more than a year now to return to his hometown.

But, the romantic surprise backfires and he soon finds himself alone when Paul chooses his career over Jonathan and rushes off to Chicago to woo a high-profile client, leaving Jonathan brokenhearted and alone. Dulling his pain with alcohol while sulking on the porch of the cottage facing the sea, Jonathan spots a swimmer, his head bobbing in the water. The man appears in trouble and fighting to stay above the surface, apparently caught in the riptide…

Jonathan races to the water’s edge. Shedding his shirt, shoes and slacks, diving headlong into the churning waves to offer aid, he too becomes entrapped the prevailing undertow. Battling to reach the surface, he soon tires and begins to lose consciousness, but not before something large and powerful slams into him from behind.

When he comes to, Jonathan realizes he’s surrounded by frantic beachcombers pulling him back from the water’s edge.  How did he get to shore?  What slammed into him and caused the “whoosh” sensation he felt before blacking out?

And what happened to the man struggling in the water?

Novella: 45,375 words
Genre: gay paranormal romance, mystery, suspense/thriller
Editor: Jerry L. Wheeler
Cover: Dawne Dominique

Buy Links: Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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THE GIVEAWAY

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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4 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Lex Chase, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Loving and Loathing Vegas by Lex Chase

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Amazon

Title: Loving And Loathing Vegas (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Lex Chase

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 62 Pages

At a Glance: This little snippet is sure to delight and amuse you this holiday season.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Jackson has loved Vegas since God created Man—literally. As a demonic incubi hailing from the Seventh Circle of Hell, Jackson and Vegas have never been anything more than roommates. Now living among humans, they run Eaven, a TripAdvisor-recommended detour-worthy diner famous for its devilishly decadent pies. Business is dead on the holidays, and Jackson will gleefully stab himself with a spatula if he has to clean spotless pots and pans one more time.

For fun—or torture—Vegas makes him a bet that should Jackson win, they take a much-needed vacation. Should he lose, he’s doomed to clean out grease traps for all eternity. When the challenge is to fall in love with other people by Christmas, it proves Vegas isn’t the least bit interested. But when they find an abandoned baby in the trash, she could be the Christmas miracle to warm Jackson’s cynical heart.

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Review:   Author Lex Chase offers up a devilishly sweet story for the Sleigh Ride 2015 Dreamspinner Advent Calendar. Even demons, in this case incubi who feed off sex, deserve a holiday, and are determined to have it when they make a bet with each other to see who can fall in love by Christmas. The only hitch is Jackson is already in love—with his long time roommate and fellow demon, Vegas. The two have settled down and run a diner that is best known for its devilishly decadent pies, but Jackson is tired of cleaning the diner’s grease traps, and more than fed up with trying to hide his feelings for Vegas. To top off the whole crazy wager, a baby is left on their doorstep, and it is up to Jackson to make sure she is taken care of, especially since she can’t seem to stand the sight of poor Vegas.

Only Lex Chase could create such a crazy-hot and adorable Christmas story with a decidedly unique twist. The relationship and interchanges between Jackson and Vegas were sharp and humorous while also bordering on the frustrating—-all they had to do was admit how they felt, and yet the constant dance around those emotions made for a fun romp of a story. With more than a fair share of snark and sarcasm, the story flew along, fraught with sexual tension that you could cut with a knife. The resolution of that tension made for a very hot sex scene that left me breathless!

Loving and Loathing Vegas is an unusual and clever contribution to this year’s Advent calendar. While it would have been great to know a bit more about the baby’s origins and the backstory of the two incubi themselves, this little snippet is sure to delight and amuse you this holiday season.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Loving And Loathing Vegas here:

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Charlie Cochet, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Loving Blitz Blog Tour with Charlie Cochet

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Hello all! Thank you so much for joining me on another stop of the Loving Blitz mini blog tour, celebrating the release of the fourth novella in my North Pole City Tales series. In this series, most of the stories take place in North Pole City where the majority of our elf heroes live. Even Jack Frost has a modest little palace in North Pole City.

This Christmas themed city is vast with all of its quaint little shops decorated with twinkling lights, shimmering tinsel, and glittering baubles. The scents of Christmas are in the air, cinnamon, roasted chestnuts, nutmeg, spiced apple, and more. You’ll find an array of tasty treats, sugar cookies, fudge, cakes, pies, puddings, buns, and a host of other delights.

The snow-filled streets are bustling with busy elves, and you’ll hear the jingling bells of horses pulling sleighs. In the center of town, you’ll find the White Hart, the Rein Dear Squadron’s favorite pub. After a hard day of building gingerbread houses for elves less fortunate, the handsome and dashing elf pilots gather to make merry, drinking their favorite holiday cocktails, or a hot cup of cocoa to the sounds of Christmas carols.

Meanwhile the King’s Toy Soldiers patrol the streets, keeping everyone safe. Their position is one of honor and justice. Many of the citizens they protect can be found working in Mayor Kringle’s prestigious companies, such as the Gift Packaging Plant or the Candy Mills.

Every year just before the Big Flight, the Frost monarchy hosts the Silver Bells Christmas Ball, a truly dazzling sight to behold. You’ll find sweeping waltzes, ball gowns of the finest silk, chandeliers that sparkle like diamonds, and champagne served frosty thanks to a certain prince.

North Pole City is home to thousands of Christmas elves, but you’ll find a few other magical inhabitants as well. I loved putting my own little twist on some festive favorites. Creating this magical world was so much fun, and on top of that, I get to throw these elves into whirlwind adventures as they find their way to love.

About-Baubles-

LovingBlitz200Loving Blitz
North Pole City Tales: Book 4

Genre: Gay Fantasy Romance, Holiday
Length: Novella
Published: Dec, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781623809492

From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

Loving Blitz can be read on its own, but for maximum enjoyment, it’s recommended the series be read in order as characters from previous books make appearances and previous events are mentioned.

Links-Baubles

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo| International Buy Links

Chapter One | Reviews

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Check out the North Pole City Tales series board on Pinterest!

Author-Baubles

Charlie_Cochet_by_madison_parker150Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Charlie’s Newsletter

Giveaway-Baubles

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Dec 14thIt’s About the Book
Dec 15thLex Chase
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Dec 18thJoyfully Jay

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5 Stars, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Release Day Review: Loving Blitz by Charlie Cochet

Small Gems

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Loving Blitz (North Pole City Tales: Book Four)

Author: Charlie Cochet

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 94 Pages

At a Glance: Go forth and enjoy Loving Blitz!!! It’s a Christmas reading list must.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

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Review: I guess I have to quit pouting about having to wait another whole year for the next book, and get this review written…*grumble* Heh, heh.  I really AM pouting about having to wait for next year’s book – this series is neverending, right? – but, I’m happy to write the review for this charming story!

Loving Blitz, this year’s addition to the North Pole City Tales series by Charlie Cochet, opens at the Silver Bells Christmas Ball – held this time at the King of Frost’s palace – where Jack Frost and Rudy share some exciting news. I was immediately mesmerized, as I always am in this series, by the descriptions and the language in the book. The places, the creatures, the events, the magic and history: Cochet has created a world here that is so vibrant and so delightful, I can’t wait to immerse myself in it every year.

Best friends for centuries, Cupid and Blitzen are perfect for each other. They have always been close, but when they dance together at the ball, they both begin to having stirrings of feelings that are more than friendly. I really did love this pairing; the romance felt effortless, and had the perfect amount of heat. And, speaking of pairings…I have my guesses as to next year’s potential couple, and can’t wait to find out who it will be!

The drama is relatively low in this one as compared to the other books in the series, but the story still has plenty of substance. The angle with Cupid’s secret is very intriguing and well done, and I loved the subplots here also. Dasher provides some tension and comic relief – just what is he up to with the King of Frost??? – which was fantastic, and it looks like one of Cupid’s brothers will be back in the future as well!

Ok. That’s three mentions of next year’s book. I think I’ve established that I loved this installment, and that I can’t wait for MORE. My work here is done. Go forth and enjoy Loving Blitz!!! It’s a Christmas reading list must.

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You can buy Loving Blitz here:

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Giveaways, Kenzie Cade

Exclusive Flash Fic and Giveaway: Magic in the Air by Kenzie Cade

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It’s a jolly holiday and we’re so please to welcome author Kenzie Cade today with an exclusive flash ficlet just for you, in celebration of the release of Reindeer Games.

After you’ve read this special little offering, be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Magic in the Air by Kenzie Cade

The wind in Colorado was different than what I was used to at the North Pole—less magical, in a way, but not less beautiful. I knew the first time I led Fluffy and Flurry to the little town in the mountains that something special waited there.

Little did I know it was my bestie’s bonded.

Nik and I—we go way back. I’m the yin to his yang, at least that’s what I try to tell him. He doesn’t listen well—probably because he doesn’t speak reindeer—but I think he gets it. Why else would he offer himself as a sacrifice every time the Grand Poobah Santa blows a gasket?

I’m pretty sure Mr. Poobah doesn’t get it. I’m keeping Little Nikky on his toes. That’s the reason for my games. Maybe now, he sees the benefits. I mean, look at the awesomeness that is Dashing von Stride. He’s a sweet kid. Plus he brings me cookies. Snickerdoodles are my fave and Dash bakes the best, but don’t tell Mrs. Kringle I said so.

“What are you doing out here, Reign?”

That’s Tinsel. I liked him better in the tiny human form. He was cute and bouncy. Now he’s back to his normal muscley self, which is fine, but not as much fun.

“You’re supposed to be in the stable preparing for the preflight,” Tinsel said and I cocked my head at him. Number one, preflight was a practice run performed on the night before the Big Day Eve. Number two, I had nothing to prepare for. If you didn’t consider the gift I had waiting for my BFF and his bonded. Tinsel obviously got the point because he replied, “Yeah, yeah, I get it, but there’s no sense in wandering around out here. As soon as Niklaus and Dashing return, you’ll be ready to go.”

Pumpkin rushed from the stable doors, her bright curls waving behind her. “Come on, you two.” Now she was gorgeous in this form. If I had a human or elf form, I’d want to look just like her. Not only was she attractive, but she was strong. And she smelled like cookies. Gingersnaps. Those were my second favorite. “Reign, we still need to brush and halter you. Fluffy and Flurry are riding behind you tonight because Admiral keeps nibbling on Fluffy’s tail.”

If I could shake my head, I’d do so. My flight crew would be the death of me. I mean, just this week, I had to ground Admiral and Sir Gallopsalot due to their being spotted atop the City Hall building by Mayor Cransfield. Luckily, Nik was able to convince the human leadership that it was all an elaborate stunt, meant to incite excitement of the holiday season. Not that a town like Wassail needed a reason to be excited for the Big Day.

Instead, I gave a knowing look to Tinsel, who winked back, then followed Pumpkin back to the stables. We were strapped in—chains, leads, and a multitude of straps and braces in place. Pumpkin combed me and Sparkles huffed somewhere behind me when I heard the wheels of Nik’s wheeled carriage crunch over the new snow. I snuffled, shifting excitedly as the muted thud of the carriage doors shut.

“What are you so jittery for?” Pumpkin asked, her suspicious tone did not go amiss, but thankfully, I couldn’t answer her, for obvious reasons. Instead, I shook my head, anticipation flooding my system, while Pumpkin and Tinsel dodged my antlers.

“Where’s the sleigh?” Tinsel said suddenly.

Uh-oh. Tinsel couldn’t go looking for the sleigh yet. Not until Nik and Dash had a chance to see the surprise first.

The pair had barely taken two steps when I backed into Fluffy and Flurry, catching Fluffy’s hoof with mine. She squealed and bucked, sending Sir Gallopsalot and Sparkles into a tizzy. Admiral and Wink crashed, tugging the rest of us back. Thankfully no one else tumbled, or we’d have a catastrophe on our hands.

“What in the world is going on in here?” Niklaus had arrived, stomping regally into the stable, curiosity scrunching his expression.

“Reign,” Tinsel answered, his tone flat. The gumdrop.

I blinked, in all innocence, of course, but Nik’s narrowed eyes told me he wasn’t buying it. I was saved from further scrutiny by Dash’s giggle. Swinging my gaze around, I found him standing at the sleigh’s storage room. I shimmied in excitement and Dash met my eyes, giggling harder.

“Dash?” Forgetting his study of me, Nik made his way to his bonded and I saw him peek into the room. “What in the name of Santa?” His gaze volleyed between the flight crew and the sleigh room. Then his narrowed eyes came to me again. “Reign. What have I told you?”

Not the reaction I expected. My eyes rounded as Nik marched back to me. But for the grace of Dashing von Stride, I would have been reindeer-cicle. Dash snagged Nik’s arm and tugged him back to the doorway.

He snorted when he said, “Stop, Nik. Don’t you see?” Dash gestured into the small room. “It’s a gift. There’s a bow and everything.”

Nik’s head tilted to the side. “But the lights, paper, candy canes, and marshmallows?” He once again sounded confused.

“She wrapped it.”

I preened as Dash giggled again. The von Stride got me.

“But the sleigh?” Nik asked on the verge of whining.

His giggles melting into a sweet smile, Dash lifted onto his tiptoes and pressed a kiss to Nik’s cheek. “I think it’s sweet.”

I watched as Nik’s annoyance turned into adoration as he stared at his bonded. He leaned down and took a kiss, not on the cheek. Briefly, I wondered why human and elf-kind touched mouths so often. I hated for another reindeer to get near my nose, much less my mouth.

When Nik lifted away, he sighed then nodded and whispered something to Dash before disappearing into the sleigh room. I heard the rustle of his unwrapping my gift as Dash made his way to me. He stopped before me, his eyes shining bright.

“It’s sweet. Thank you,” he said then leaned in and wrapped his arms around my neck. “But next time why not move past messing with his sleigh?”

I chuffed and Dash moved away but not before winking at me.

Tomorrow, Dashing and Niklaus would attend the Yule Ball before the Big Day flight. Tonight, though, we would fly for fun, for freedom, and for magic. I might have been wrong about the magic in the Colorado air. It seemed love in the air was another sort of magic.

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

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

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

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Kenzie CadeAbout the Author: Kenzie Cade was born and raised in the South where she spends her days in the field of private medicine observing interesting people and committing them to memory for later use. When she isn’t reading, experimenting with recipes, or being distracted by social media, Kenzie spends time with her family, friends, and fur-babies who likes to keep her company while she writes. Writing to keep the fictional voices at bay, Kenzie enjoys the journeys her characters travel to find their happy endings, and she loves the challenge of writing a great love story.

E-mail || Blog || Facebook || Twitter: @thekenziecade

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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

Reindeer Games by Kenzie Cade

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Reindeer Games

Author: Kenzie Cade

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 68 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Sammy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Reindeer Games here:

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4 Stars, Loose Id, Madeleine Ribbon, Reviewed by Kim, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Faire Diviner by Madeleine Ribbon

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Title: Faire Diviner

Author: Madeleine Ribbon

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 234 Pages

At a GlanceI must say that I’m quite taken with the author’s storytelling.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Rosewood, the magical Renaissance Faire’s psychic and one of the business partners, has been single for over ten years—ever since he accidentally revealed his psychic abilities to the love of his life and lost him. He has devoted himself to the Faire and the magic within ever since. The last thing he expects when hiring a new business manager is for Oscar—the “one who got away”—to walk back into his life as the most qualified applicant.

While Rosewood tries to deal with Oscar as his new business partner, his abilities start going haywire. He senses danger coming, and it’s somehow tied to Oscar’s dark past. They will have to work together to recover Rosewood’s abilities, help Oscar heal, and save the Faire itself.

And if they can do that, then maybe, possibly, the “one who got away” will become his greatest catch.

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Review: Faire Diviner is the second book I’ve read by Madeleine Ribbon, Death by Dragon being the first, and I must say that I’m quite taken with the author’s storytelling.

Basically, Faire Diviner starts out with Rosewood using his psychic abilities to look for a potential replacement to fill his Uncle Jorvik’s job as head Manager of the Faire. He’s shocked to discover that the interviewee with the most potential is his first love, Oscar Moreno—The One the Faire wants for the job.

Now, after reading both sides of the story about how these two didn’t stay together when they were younger, I wouldn’t exactly call this a story about “the one who got away” as much as it’s that they both bolted from each other and went their separate ways. And, it would seem they were both at fault for what happened. Youth and inexperience strikes again!

I liked Anthony Rosewood. His character came off as somewhat lonely because of his isolated life from others outside the Faire, and his sensitivity caused by feeling others’ emotions. There’s an innocence about him that is quite charming in itself. As a teen, his mother hurt him deeply when, after his father died, she wanted to commit him to a mental institution because of his abilities. Running away before she could carry out that deed, he ended up at the Faire and under the protection of his Uncle Jorvik.

Vin is someone who Rosewood considers a friend-with-benefits, someone he turns to when he needs a cuddle, which I thought was kind of cute. Oscar is also someone I liked as a character, but he did come with a bunch of his own emotional baggage. He’d just escaped from an abusive long-term relationship. But there was one episode that I thought him quite the AH after he and Rosewood hooked-up. Again, I have to give him a little leeway since both men seem to have a communication problem with each other.

Now that I’ve read Faire Diviner, I went out and purchased the two books that preceded this one. I’m sure I’ll get more perspective on how the Faire operates, but Faire Diviner can be read as a standalone. It just made me want to read more about this alternate universe, and I’m looking forward to reading future stories by Madeleine Ribbon. I think I’ve found a new author to enjoy!

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

 

You can buy Faire Diviner here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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Carole Cummings, DSPP's Genre Talk, Giveaways, Lex Chase

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and Lex Chase

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Wednesday greetings, Awesome Readers! Today here on Genre Talk, we’ve got DSP Publications author Lex Chase stopping by The Novel Approach Reviews as the 7th stop on a 9-part blog tour. So let’s just sit back and let her do all the work. ;)

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Hello Internet! I’m Lex Chase and Carole and Lisa are awesome enough to have me over for Genre Talk! I’m here to share a bit about my upcoming anthology Checkmate Ever After from DSP Publications. It’s a story about the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, and the creamy middle of disgraced superhero Memphis Rook and his rise to redemption alongside his sidekick/boyfriend Hogarth Dawson. In Hogarth’s happy, perky, way too much caffeine, way to little sleep POV, he relays Rook’s dark and angsty story through the rose-colored glasses of a hyperactive chipmunk.

So, one of the Genre Talk questions that I decided to write an entire post about is “what makes your book different from other m/m books.” I had been filling out the question, but this post ended up falling out.

There is a book of every flavor, and a different reader a connoisseur. Cowboys? Check. Firemen? Check. Cops. Cooks. Spies. Spooks. Sports stars and porn stars.

Welcome to the buffet.

There is nothing wrong with any of those tropes. And Rule #1 of Geekdom is “Don’t Be A Dick.” So many people already write those, and they do it far better than I ever could.

Now, superheroes? That’s my thing. Give me any “Superheroes in [FILL IN THE BLANK]” trope and I eat it up like the fistfuls. I have a hardcore weakness for Superheroes In High School. Don’t judge. My favorite movie of all time with this trope being Disney’s Sky High.

I grew up reading comics, drawing comics, eating, sleeping, and breathing comics. I was once considered a local guru on what was the hottest, what was appropriate for kids, that subtitled anime actually taught reading comprehension and fostered intrest in foreign language. Yes. Really.

But my problem with LGBT representation in comics is…a complicated thing. There was either LGBT slice-of-life stories, which I did rather enjoy. But, I could see that in my own life. So. Eh.

Enter “Gay Superhero” comics. You have guys with packages as large as baseball bats and are a veritable fountain of fluids. Overdrawn muscles, veins upon veins, and perpetual “O” faces. Straight up fap material.

I wanted saving the day. I wanted messages of with great power comes great responsibility. I wanted to see guys that I, you, everyone could look up to. Guys people wanted to cosplay and kids wanted to dress as for Halloween. I wanted heroes. Not a porn star in a cape.

One of the things I love about mainstream comics such as Marvel and DC, these characters being larger than life, they still have very human issues. Issues like infidelity, conflicting political and religious views, dealing with grief, addiction, alcoholism, HIV/AIDs, even rape. These characters appealed to those that didn’t think they had a voice. These characters never failed their readers as the world around them did.

These characters taught us how to pick ourselves up. How to take a stand. And how to fly.

These characters were never meant to be just as dirty as your neighbor’s crusty Penthouses.

That’s where Checkmate Ever After comes in.

It’s my love letter to superheroes and pop culture. From the references to the comedy, the very real human issues, and everything in the middle.

Rook and Garth save the day with heroic deeds, and klutzy misadventures, but never with the “healing power of cock.” Rook and Garth are extraordinary guys living in a world that’s more extraordinary than they are, therefore making them just okay.

It takes the whizz! bang! of shiny flawless superheroes, and injects a dose of reality into them. Rook may be able to bench press a Buick with his pinky, but he still puts on his leather pants one leg at a time. Garth can barely pay his bills and is an utter penny pincher. But they still answer the call to danger without a second thought.

They’re the guys that I want to communicate to readers young and old, you can believe again. That there is good in the world.

So. What makes Checkmate Ever After different from most m/m? Well. There’s no cowboys or firemen. Cops or cooks. Spies or spooks. Sports stars or porn stars. It has two dorky superheroes in love doing the best they can with what they got. It’s got guys living in a larger than life world, and being the voice of those voiceless bullied kids that hid behind comics and sci-fi/fantasy novels. It’s being the voice of those voiceless kids that grew into equally timid voiceless adults.

At it’s core, fun story full of humor and heartbreaking peril. But at the end of the day, I want readers to take away one thing:

You are extraordinary.


Genre: Sci-Fi Superhero Comedy
Length: Novel Anthology
Published: December 15, 2015
Publisher: DSP Publications
ISBN: 978-1-63476-462-9
Buy: Paperback (and get the eBook for free!) or only the eBook

Blurb:

2nd Edition (Books One – Three)

The day disgraced superhero Memphis Rook literally fell into Hogarth Dawson’s lap, you could say it was fate. But the brawny Rook did nearly crush Garth’s pancreas. What started as two ships passing in the night ended on the weirdest adventure of their lives. Together, Rook and Garth form Checkmate, a daring super duo that keeps Axis City safe from a rogue’s gallery of nefarious villains, dastardly masterminds, and a coalition of calamity. Fighting evil wherever it appears-from reality shows to comic book conventions-Checkmate serves up knuckle sandwiches of justice. But by day, they’re a couple of broke losers who can barely afford a burger and navigating a weird thing called a relationship. Ain’t true love grand? Rook and Garth may be in over their heads, and even super heroes fail sometimes, but they’re ready to take a stand when no one else will. Don’t hate the players, because Checkmate owns the game.

1st Edition of Pawn Takes Rook published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

1st Edition of Cashing the Reality Check published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

1st Edition of Conventional Love published by Dreamspinner Press, 2014.

And the all new fourth novella Miracle in Axis City and bonus short What The Water Gave Me, exclusive to the anthology!


About the Author:

madison_parker_MG_4269-WEBLex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” Now, she’s on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.

Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure-and depending on how she feels that day-Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If you’re going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, and unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.

You can find her in the Intarwebz here:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lexachase
Site: http://lexchase.com


Who is your superhero? Is it someone fictional? Or someone in your life?

Drop your comment below and click the giveaway banner to enter for a chance to win a 25 USD Amazon Gift Card!


Follow the Checkmate Ever After Tour!

12/1 – Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Tea House

12/3 – Tali Spencer

12/5 – Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews

12/5 – Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese

12/7 – Aidee Ladnier

12/9 – Genre Talk on The Novel Approach

12/12 – Gaylist Book Reviews

12/15 – Checkmate Ever After Release Day!

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The Fine Print:

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*Some residency restrictions may apply
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B.A. Brock, DSPP's Genre Talk, Giveaways

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and B.A. Brock

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Hi, Awesome Readers! Thanks for coming along on this Friday edition of Genre Talk here on The Novel Approach Reviews. Today we’ve got DSP Publications author B. A. Brock here to tell us about his new Fantasy release King of the Storm, and he’s also very generously brought along a giveaway. So put your feet up, grab a cuppa, and follow us!

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tna-dspp--ba brock for 12-04King of the Storm

No one can outrun destiny or the gods.

In Epiro, a kingdom in Greece, Perseus is prophesied to be a great demigod hero and king, with a legacy that will shape the world of Gaia. When he was born, his grandfather exiled him, and his mother brought them to Seriphos, where she created an academy for demigod youth. Perseus trains there and waits for the day when he will be able to take the throne of Argos.

Despite potential future glory, Perseus’s fellow students think he is weak. By the time he reaches manhood, he has given up the hope of having any real friends, until Antolios, a son of Apollo, takes an unexpected interest in him. Perseus and Antolios fall in love, but Antolios knows it cannot last and leaves Seriphos.

Perseus, grief-stricken and lonely, rebels against the Fates, thinking he can avoid the prophecy and live his own life. But when the gods find him, he is thrust into an epic adventure. With his divine powers, he fights gorgons and sea serpents, and battles against his darker nature. Perseus strives to be his own man… but the gods have other plans.

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Carole: So hey, B. A.! Thanks for being here today.

B. A.: Thanks, Carole, for the interview! It’s great to be here.

Carole: We’re very glad to have you, and we’re excited to talk to you about this new release. So let’s start with the obvious—tell us about your genre.

B. A.: King of the Storm is a mythic heroic fantasy, where the mythos is similar to that of Ancient Greece, but takes place on another world, and in another time. What I loved about creating my own world was my ability to use ideas from a variety of sources. I’ve added classic fantasy elements, such as elves and dwarves, I’ve borrowed heavily from myth, and I’ve created beings with powers, similar to something you may find in a role playing game. I even generated stat sheets for my classes and monsters. It was so much fun.

Carole: It sounds it! And considering your sources, this is probably an obvious question, but give us an idea of what to expect so far as love interests and nonheteronormative relationships within the world you’ve built.

B. A.: Although “homosexual” has Greek roots, the Ancient Greeks didn’t use the word as we know it. Perseus isn’t gay as we think of the term, and King of the Storm isn’t a traditional M/M Romance. One of the three main characters is Andromeda, Perseus’s wife.

According to legend, Perseus and Andromeda had nine children, and I kept that aspect of his mythos true in my story. Yes, there are explicit scenes between two men, but there are other dynamics as well, though not as explicit. I’ve become aware that quite a few M/M readers are unnerved by “girly bits” in their fiction, but it would have been bisexual erasure, among other insidious things, to cut them out completely.

Carole: And part of DSPP’s goal is to be inclusive within the Rainbow spectrum, so it sounds like you’re making positive inroads there. :fist bump: So then tell us more about King of the Storm and the world you’ve built for The Godhead Epoch series as a whole.

B. A.: The world of The Godhead Epoch isn’t our Earth, so while there are strong mythic themes, the technology isn’t that of Ancient Greece, and there are races and magic not seen during that time, including more modern language. Perseus resembles our hero from legend, but he isn’t that hero.

Carole: King of the Storm is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in King of the Storm and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

B. A.: Because DSPP publishes a wide range of LGBTQ+ fiction—more than just M/M Romance—it is the perfect home for my novel. However, the stories they are publishing are within a niche genre, so sometimes finding similar works is difficult.

Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles was an inspiration. But really any legend-retelling fantasy is going to be similar, such as Arthurian legends, or stories of the gods reimagined, such as American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

Some similar works within this emerging genre are Architects of the Grand Design by Michael Bode, and The Blessed Epoch by August Li. Both are fantastic series.

Carole: Oh, yes—some really good reading in those examples for our fellow Spec Fic nerds out there. ;) Okay, so tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of King of the Storm?

B. A.: The concept started with Dungeons and Dragons. My gaming group and I had created a world that was Greek themed, so I chose to roleplay the hero Perseus, because he had a flying horse, and I made him into a Paladin, because I wanted a leader and someone who could throw a heal now and then.

Creating my own healing class was part of the impetus of writing my novel. I’ve spent many (too many) hours fantasizing over various healing abilities.

Carole: So, we’ve talked about the dynamics in the world and their Greek inspiration. Can you expand on that a little? Why did you feel this story needed to include the M/M dynamic specifically?

B. A.: I was paying particular attention to the stories of Heracles, Achilles, and Alexander the Great, and I wanted to pay tribute to their love—hidden in the shadows. But as I’ve said, M/M isn’t the entirety of my story, and it isn’t the entirety of my writing.

Carole: *nod nod nod* It really can’t be, if you’re writing human stories, can it? Even when your characters aren’t technically humans. Which begs the question—what was the most difficult aspect of your story to write?

B. A.: Writing Andromeda felt wrong on many levels. However, of all my characters, she was the most adamant of being true to herself. Eventually I realized it wasn’t fair for me to judge her, and so I let her grow into the woman she became. It was a struggle, but I learned something from that process.

Carole: It sounds like an amazing tale, B. A., and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to diving in. Thanks so much for being here with us today.

And thanks to all you Awesome Readers for tagging along. There’s still a giveaway before we’re done, but for now, please enjoy the following excerpt from B. A. Brock’s King of the Storm.

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I sent my consciousness into the sky, and the air pulsed and churned around me. Zeus’s voice was the thunder, and his presence saturated the clouds. With each boom my insides trembled with the fear of being among the gods ingrained in all mortals, but I also felt a pleasant sense of nostalgia, memories of playing with my father in the storms as a boy. We hadn’t played together for a long time. I ground my teeth and grinned.

The teams collided at inhuman speeds. With little thought, I created a gradient in the air currents and used the resulting tunnel of wind to sweep away all those with red tabards in my path, plus one unfortunate teammate in blue. They tumbled from me, pinwheeling wildly from my course, and I laughed.

As I opened myself to the air, my ears popped and the hair on my arms tingled and stood up. Bortos, a boy in red, charged toward me and then disappeared into a cloud of darkness. Quickly, I drew a line from the sky to where I guessed he would be and split a path for the energy to follow.

Lightning seared into the inky cloud.

The air crashed back to equilibrium, and I felt rather than heard the concussive force of thunder that resulted. The black cloud dissipated, and Bortos slumped to the earth, smoking, and was still. As I stepped past him, the smell of burned flesh tinged the air.

My father would make sure none of us died from our injuries.

Tremors in the ground were my only warning before a towering figure, who could only be half giant, stomped into view, and I barely leaped to the side before I was almost kicked like a ball. I rolled to my feet and readied my sword and shield.

Wearing blue, Zoticus, the dark and gargantuan son of Ares, stalked up and took on the challenge instead. With a manic gleam in his black eyes, he charged, slamming into the giant. I raised a brow and turned to find another fight. Those two could handle it without me.

A shift in the air sent me into a reflexive crouch, and I flung my shield up. Metal clanked against metal—a blur flew past overhead. Seizing the storm, I anchored lightning through my flying opponent.

With a flash and a crack, the flyer plummeted out of sight. The air bloomed with the sharp smell of heaven’s smoke.

I had only a moment to recover when Selene, a daughter of Poseidon, marched in my direction, her pale blonde hair tied up in a Thessalian knot and her silvery arms covered in rust-colored smudges. Moving as quicksilver, she pulled back her arm, shaped it into a sword, and thrust it toward my head.

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b-a-brock-74Author Bio: B. A. Brock has lived most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in 2007 at Portland State University—which he mostly uses to contemplate how we can achieve a civilization more closely aligned with Star Trek.

When not writing, Brock spends his time reading/reviewing novels, training for marathons, and bemoaning the fact that the world has yet to make a decent gluten free donut.

King of the Storm is available now in ebook and paperback from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other major retail outlets.

You can follow B. A. through his Website, Facebook, and/or Twitter

Want to win an e-copy of King of the Storm? Just give B. A. your ebook file format preference in the comments section then click on the Rafflecopter widget and post your entry. (Don’t forget to include your email address!) A winner will be chosen on December 11th and announced here, so good luck to all!

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, E.T. Malinowski, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Hearth and Home by E.T. Malinowski

Amazon

Amazon

TitleHearth and Home (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: E.T. Malinowski

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 56 Pages

At a Glance: Short but sweet story with an accident prone elf.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Thistle is a sweet elf with a kind heart. He tries his best to help all the other elves in Santa’s workshop. Unfortunately, Thistle tends to leave disaster in his wake despite his good intentions. He dreams of finding an elf who will love him in spite of his clumsiness, an elf he can make a home for. But what elf wants to live in constant peril? Thistle figures he should just stick with his anonymous treat baskets, especially where Bayberry, Santa’s production manager, is concerned.

Bayberry is a bit of a serious elf. A little distant from most of the North Pole crew, Bayberry is lonely. When another Thistle Incident occurs, pushing the production department behind schedule only a few weeks before Christmas, Bayberry gets a “suggestion” from The Big Guy to ask Thistle for help. What could an accident-prone elf do to assist him? But to Bayberry’s surprise, he might gain more than help with his monthly reports.

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Review: Hearth and Home is a story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar, and I loved it. Set in the North Pole at Santa’s workshop, it follows the accident prone elf Thistle, who wants nothing more than to help the others. The problem is he just gets in the way, and his magic is centered on the home. So while he’s great at baking and making a house a home, he’s not so good at making glass ornaments or toys. Thistle has a thing for Bayberry, the production manager, and when he accidentally breaks the glass ornaments, he’s drawn in to help Bayberry set it right by taking over the reports. And since it’s at Santa’s insistence, he can’t say no.

Bayberry has a crush on Thistle. While the other elves dislike how he gets in the way, Bayberry finds it endearing. So when he’s forced to work with Thistle, he takes it as an opportunity to get to know him. And when the two finally connect, sparks fly. Thistle meets the one who makes his magic worth it, and he finally feels useful to someone.

I enjoyed the story very much. It put me in a Christmas mood, and I liked seeing a clumsy elf falling in love. It was really cute and endearing. The only trouble? It made me crave cookies. Thistle always seemed to bake them!

If you’re looking for a short, heartwarming story, I highly recommend checking this story out. Well worth it!

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

 

You can buy Hearth and Home here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, DSP Publications, Lissa Kasey, Paranormal, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Evolution: Genesis by Lissa Kasey

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Evolution: Genesis (Evolution: Book Two)

Author: Lissa Kasey

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Genesis is an interesting, if somewhat tangled, read for paranormal fans.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Evolution made music history when one bandmate turned vampire and another joined the vampire hate movement Preservation Group. Gene is trying to cling to the music as his relationship with Kerstrande begins to spiral into the darkness of hidden demons. Jaded by his years as a vampire flunkie, Kerstrande uses his newly won power over New York City to destroy his enemies and protect Gene. But a demon called a Fallen begins to take control of KC, slowly devouring his soul and through him the entire city. Battling against the evil that wants to destroy him, Kerstrande fights to hold onto Gene’s brightness.

A power unlike any other grows within Gene and shines like a beacon to the demons surrounding him. Realizing that only he can save his lover, Gene is willing to do anything to shake the darkness loose. Even if it means reshaping the future, the band, and his own existence.

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Review: I was thrilled to see a sequel to the riveting novel Evolution by author Lissa Kasey. With book two, Genesis, two of the most exciting characters in the paranormal genre are back, center stage, and sparks fly once more—and by sparks I mean an all consuming fire, which is exactly what Gene is currently dealing with at the story’s beginning. I cannot state more clearly than this that you must read this series in order to appreciate all the nuances and relationships that are further developed in book two. If you have not, then please stop reading this review and go read Evolution, for I will be remarking upon some of the themes and incidences from the first book to set the stage for book two.

At the opening of Genesis, Gene is still grappling with the fact that he is a human hybrid in the form of a phoenix. Those who know their mythology will remember that the phoenix never really dies but instead is reborn from flames—dying when engulfed from inner fire—and that is exactly what Gene had discovered he could do when he took down Hane—the maker of Kerestrande (KC), Gene’s vampire, again/off again lover—in the first novel. But remember vampires cannot be fully destroyed by flames—instead, they must incinerate by being exposed to sunlight, which burns them to ash never to rise again. This is exactly what KC does to Hane, and when he does so, the dark shadow—the fallen that clung to Hane—consumes KC and begins to slowly take him over.

Meanwhile, every bad guy and paranormal on the earth seems to be after Gene as a means to get to KC. Consequently, Gene undergoes several horrific deaths only to be reborn again each time. However, Gene is weakening, and coming back to human form takes longer and longer each time. Instead, he is trapped in darkness where he can clearly see what is eating at KC, and all the undead that cling to his lover as well. In the end, it will be up to Gene to save his vampire lover from certain death, as the Fallen within KC pushes its way into his soul and consumes that which is KC at his very core, taking him over completely.

Okay. That was a major oversimplification of a very intricate plot that I must admit I lost my way in at certain points in this novel. Not only were there additional characters to learn about, there were also so many creatures after Gene that it was hard at times to keep up with who was after whom, and why. Still, the bones of this story were really solid and KC and Gene, when they were together, were pure gold in terms of an “it’s complicated” relationship. Every time KC pushed Gene away, Gene’s pain and dejection was so poignant to read—really just heartbreaking. And this author was so smart in that she alternated the point of view almost chapter to chapter so we were privy as to why KC was sending Gene away. Plus, we saw just how it guts the vampire when he does so.

Alongside these two was a cast of secondary characters that were convincingly real, and each became an integral part of Gene’s life—some with deadly and evil intent. Without them, Gene would have never been able to survive all that he does at the hands of evil forces determined to use Gene as bait to draw out KC and the shadowy evil that holds him captive.

So why wasn’t this a five star read? Well, when it came down to it, this story got very involved with the mystical side of both vampires and Gene himself—this phoenix hybrid. In doing so, I honestly was often confused as to where this whole plot was moving and just exactly why Gene kept getting…well, brutally beaten and killed, only to rise again. I felt that the plot was sometimes unanchored and drifted too far into mystical realms that were not always fully realized or fleshed out in the story. That made for some real frustration when I just wanted this story to “get on with it” and come to some conclusion I could understand.

As a result of all this action without a solid plot theme to plant itself on, the ending seemed way too easy and a bit rushed. The final outcome was nice, but after all the angst and miscommunication between KC and Gene, a sweet happy-ever-after seemed just a bit contrived. Still, this is an author whom I really admire and whose writing is often involved and well executed, therefore I would encourage fans of the first in this series to see how things play out between Gene and KC. Genesis is an interesting, if somewhat tangled, read for paranormal fans.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Evolution: Genesis here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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4 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Boys Who Go Bump in the Night by Josephine Myles and JL Merrow

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Boys Who Go Bump in the Night (Mad About the Brit Boys: Book Two)

Author: Josephine Myles and JL Merrow

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 84 Pages

At a Glance: Short stories and the supernatural and this pair of authors combine to make for some really good reading.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When boy meets (supernatural) boy

Buckle up as two queens of British gay romance take you on a whistlestop tour of all things paranormal. Vampires, genies, ghosts, magicians and shifters all get their chance for a bit of boy on boy action, in five erotic stories that span the range from the humorous to the sublime.

Will you seek to make your fortune with magic and ritual, or pin your hopes on a genie’s power to grant wishes? Discover a shifty young man on a Scottish shoreline, meet a hapless garlic farmer who’s been turned into one of the undead–and if you dare to venture into the cellar, gird your loins for a horny ghost!

These stories have all been previously published, but are now available exclusively in this anthology.

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Review: Some authors you read no matter what: don’t care about the blurb, don’t care about the sub-genre, you just read them. Josephine Myles and JL Merrow happen to be two such authors for me. Combine this with my love of short stories, and Boys Who Go Bump in the Night was pretty much a guaranteed win.

Several of the stories in this anthology are short enough I might even call them flash fiction, but the common theme (besides the fact they’re all previously published) is that they share a paranormal/fantasy element, and some of them are just purely erotic and don’t play at being otherwise. JL Merrow starts the collection with Leeches and Layabouts, and the first thing that stands out is that the story is told with the author’s trademark sense of humor and gift for taking a fairly mundane human woe and turning it into a clever boy-meets-vampire story. A vampire who grows garlic? Yep. A human who loves living off of government assistance just a little too well. Yep. It’s the perfect marriage of need and want when Art interviews for a job with Crispin, who loves his garlic but can no longer eat it because, well…vampire. But ingenuity abounds, and Crispin gets both his man and his garlic fix.

A horny incubus in Something Queer, blood magic and stone circles in Sacrifice add to the mix of supernatural offered in this anthology, leading to the final two tales. JL Merrow’s Et in Orcadia is my absolute favorite of the five in the collection. It’s a story that blends the tragedy of lost love, the romanticism of man’s call to the sea, and a mysterious stranger who knows that call better than any human. But he also knows the allure of the land and the desire to comfort a man in his grief. A grief they both share. I loved the emotional intimacy of Runi and David’s story, brief though it was. It did a fantastic job of plucking at my sentimental heartstrings.

Finally, bookending the lighthearted beginning of Boys Who Go Bump in the Night is Josephine Myles’ One Last Wish, a fun and sweet little story about a poor genie who’s just tired of being imprisoned in his lamp for the past two hundred years. Scott is the lucky human to rub Xavier’s lamp just the right way—three wishes are his—but Scott ends up surprising Xavier with the way he chooses to use them. And then, well, they end up rubbing each other just the right way.

If you love one of these authors, or both of them, and love a good short story, I don’t think you can go wrong with this collection.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

 

You can buy Boys Who Go Bump in the Night here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon UK

Amazon DE

Amazon DE

Amazon CA

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

Amazon AU

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Giveaways, Lynn Lorenz

Backlist Book Blast and Giveaway: In the Company of Men Series by Lynn Lorenz

Lynn Lorenz Banner

BLURBS

The Mercenary's TaleThe Mercenary’s Tale – Drake is a mercenary for hire. He values little other than his sword and his skill. Fighting his attraction to the young men he trains, he refuses to take any on.

When Ansel walks into his life, Drake breaks all his rules.

But life for mercenaries is hard, brutal and deadly.

Can Drake take a chance on finding the love he’s denied himself for so long?

Can he have a second chance?

Buy Links: Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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Jackson's PrideJackson’s Pride – Jackson has been called to attend his father, Lord Baymore. The man has never claimed Jackson as his son and Jackson believes this might be his father’s intent. He’s left the Duke of Marden’s employ to discover his destiny—to remain a nameless bastard or to claim his father’s name.

When Jackson stumbles across a man, stripped, beaten, and left in a field to die a slow death, Jackson rescues the man. After all, he’s guilty of the same thing—wanting a man.

Will Holcombe gambled and lost. His meeting with a young, willing man went horribly wrong, and now he must pay for it with his life.

Until a man walks up to him in a frozen field and cuts him down.

Jackson is like no one Will has ever met before—a man strong enough to stand with him, perhaps forever.

But Jackson’s on a mission. Will his pride blind him to what his life could be if he chose Will and not his father?

Or will his pride lead him to a fate worse than death?

Buy Links: Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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Beymore's HeirBaymore’s Heir – Duke Jackson of Baymore finally has all he’s ever wanted—his name, a title, and the man he loves by his side. Lord Will Holcombe couldn’t be happier. He’s Jackson’s lover, best friend, and manages all of Jackson’s affairs. For two years, their life together, although deadly if anyone knew of their forbidden love, has been perfect.

Until Jackson the day when decides the one thing he needs is an heir.

And the one person to find him a wife is Will.

Buy Links: Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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His Duke's GiftHis Duke’s Gift – In this Yuletide story, Duke Logan is preparing the keep for the holiday. Twelve nights of feasting and gift giving to those in his favor. Gifts must be made or bought. Once mercenary Drake struggles to think of just the right gift for his love and liege, and for their sons.

Something isn’t right. A stranger has arrived at the keep and Logan refuses to let Drake into his bedroom at night. Angry and frustrated, Drake fears Logan has lost his love for the mercenary.

When the Twelfth night arrives, and Drake has received no gift, he begins to think he might need to take his son and leave what has become his home.

Buy Links: Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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Silent LodgeSilent Lodge – Drake and Logan are worried about their friend and captain of the guard, Peter. After the death in childbirth of Peter’s wife, he’s a changed man. Unfocused, lonely, and devastated, Peter needs a new challenge, instead of going through the motions of living.

Logan sends Peter on a mission – to discover Duke Weathersby’s plans for invasion. Logan’s father has a small hunting lodge near the border of their lands, and it has a caretaker. Peter sets off alone, to make camp at the lodge and do some scouting.

But what he finds at the lodge just may be his future. Arvel is a fascinating young man. Red haired, deaf and mute from a fever as a child, he’s been living in the lodge and caring for it for years. It’s a safe haven for him. But he’s not alone. He has a protector, Gareth.

When Gareth, Arvel and Peter are together, sparks fly. Arvel belongs to Gareth, but he wants Peter too. Can Peter join their small family? And if he does, will he always be the third to their couple?

Buy Link: Amazon

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Excerpt from Silent Lodge: Arvel sighed, stretched, and opened his eyes. He looked around, saw Peter, and smiled. It lit his face and went to his eyes, a sincere joy that took his breath away.

Peter had returned to him.

Again, the little bird’s wings danced in his belly and sent a warm rush of happiness through Arvel.

He hushed them and told himself to not be a fool.

Of course Peter came back. He had to come back, but not for Arvel. He’d returned to sleep in the bed, to keep his horse, to eat his meals.

Time to get to work and stop his wild thoughts.

“Ho, Arvel.”

Arvel brought his hand to his mouth, head tilted.

“Aye, I’m hungry.”

Nodding, he hurried to the sideboard and began pulling vegetables and dried meat from the larder. He swept down a knife from the shelf and began chopping. Once done, he came back to the hearth, pushed the logs around with the poker, arranging the fire to cook over, then swung out the iron cook pot and took it to the table.

******

Peter sat  mesmerized by the dance, the lithe form swaying and gliding, moving to some unseen rhythm.

All the pieces were added to the pot, and then brought back to the fire, hung on the hook, and pushed over the flames.

Arvel went back to the table, brought out flour, and started making bread.

Peter relaxed, watching the younger man prepare the evening meal. Lost himself in the push and pull of Arvel’s hands on the dough, working it into the right consistency, twisting it and then kneading again. Peter lost track of the time; the lodge had no windows, only the front door and a side door that led to the stables.

Arvel finished kneading the bread, formed it into a loaf, and placed it on a wide, flat wooden paddle with a handle. Then he carried it to the side of the hearth. An oven had been built just to the side. He opened the door with the metal poker, slid the bread in, and jerked the paddle out. After shutting the door, he returned to the table to finish cleaning.

In no time, the bread’s smell and the aroma of the stew blended to fill the lodge and make Peter’s mouth water.

Arvel could cook, no doubt about that. And bake. And keep the lodge tidy, the stables clean and ready. Was there nothing the young caretaker couldn’t do?

Peter laughed. Arvel turned and caught him. His brow furrowed and head tilted.

“Pardon.” Peter stood and clapped Arvel on the shoulder. “You’re a right treat, Arvel.”

Arvel smiled, staring at Peter’s mouth.

Peter sobered and leaned in closer. “Is that how you do it? Do you see the words on my lips?” He reached out and touched Arvel’s mouth.

Arvel placed his hand over Peter’s, trapping it against Arvel’s lips, and nodded.

“So in a way, you can hear me.” Peter’s lips moved against Arvel’s fingers as he spoke. Arvel chuckled soundlessly and dropped his hand.

Peter let his hand linger for just a moment on those soft, pink lips, then removed it.

They stared at each other.

******

Little birds danced every time he looked into Peter’s eyes, just as with his Heart.

Arvel waited. It was best to wait; less painful also.

Peter leaned forward as Arvel’s lips parted. The birds took to the sky, rising up from his belly, through his throat.

Arvel swayed toward Peter, his lips parting, ready for the kiss.

Peter pulled back.

“My wife died.”

Arvel frowned and motioned at his mouth, making a circle that landed on his lips.

Slower, he said, “My wife died.”

Dead? Ah, there’s the source of his pain. So much pain in his bark-colored eyes. They matched his bark-colored hair. Peter reminded Arvel of a tree, strong limbs that would hold him safe and secure.

Arvel wanted to help Peter by taking away the pain. Wanted to make him feel happy and see him smile again. He liked when Peter smiled.

No doubt about it, Peter needed Arvel.

Arvel’s mouth formed a large circle, and his brows shot up. Then he frowned and stepped forward, encircling Peter’s waist. He leaned into Peter and squeezed, resting his head on Peter’s shoulder.

******

Peter’s breath caught, and he wrapped his arms around Arvel, holding the smaller man tight to him.

“I miss her so much,” Peter whispered. “So, so much.” His voice trembled, and he shook with the effort to keep the pain inside.

Arvel leaned back, looked up at him with tear-filled eyes as if he felt the same pain Peter felt, then nodded and buried his face against Peter again. He moved his arm up to Peter’s neck and clung to him.

Peter broke, coughing up great sobs, tremors shaking his body, as he held tight to the caretaker.

Arvel kneaded Peter’s shoulders, his neck, easing him, bringing him down from the tension-filled shudders, until Peter inhaled, exhaled, and steadied. He stepped back, releasing Peter, giving a shy smile, and wiping away his own tears.

Peter cupped Arvel’s face, ran his thumb over that plump bottom lip, then let him go.

“Shall we eat?” Peter gave the same signal he’d seen Arvel make before, fingers to his mouth.

Arvel grinned and nodded, then rushed to the table.

Peter pulled out the bench and sat, drying his face on his sleeve. He poured a goblet of water, drank it down, and poured another. Arvel placed the simmering pot of stew on the table and went back for the bread.

The hot loaf danced in his hands as he juggled it to the table, then speared it with the knife. Peter sliced it for them and took one piece as Arvel dished out the meal.

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Lynn, tell us something no one else knows about your characters.

I never find pictures of what I think they look like. I know some authors find pics and say, “Ohh, this is X!” I like to keep my physical descriptions a little vague and concentrate on their personalities.

So when the cover artist finds a picture of a guy, I’m like, “Hey, that looks like him!” because I don’t have his image set in my head, other than like hair color or eye color.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How did you overcome it? 

No. My motto is never sit down in front of a computer to write unless you know exactly what you’re going to write. I believe in thinking about a story, character, even a what if situation, and creating something from that first, then writing it down. So when I sit down to write, I write.

What I have experienced is disenchantment, sort of an ennui about writing. I believe when I get this way, it’s best to stay away, to do other things that refill the well of creativity. Sometimes it’s just catching up on my reading, or listening to music, or watching NetFlix. I take my mind off writing.

Inevitably, an idea hits me and I’m off again, thinking about a new book! And once I’ve thought through the story, the character, the what if, I’m off and writing.

What book you’ve written would you like to see made into a movie?

I guess to say all of them is sort of wrong, right? Actually, I’d love to see this series made into a BBC series – historical, costume, swashbuckling drama of these incredible gay men set in a deadly time, fighting for their love and lovers.

Do you work on an outline or plot or just let the story takes you where it wants to go? 

I use a method that allows me to loosely plot, yet still not feel tied down to a plot. Here’s a spoiler – my stories end in a happily ever after. So yeah, the two main characters will be together in the end. It’s a romance. We all know how it’s supposed to end. That’s not the point, is it?

The fun, the excitement, is in the telling of the tale – how do they do it? How do they survive the hardship of life and love? How do they start off enemies, or best friends, or total strangers, and get together?

I know the end, but since I know the character inside and out, his/her goals, motivations, and conflicts, the plot builds itself. I discover the one thing the character wants most in the world, and I take it from them. Then he/she has to fight to get it back.

Rapid fire questions:

1 – Favorite meal – a Parkway roast beef po’boy, mayo, plenty gravy, on French bread, a Barq’s rootbeer, and an orchid cream vanilla snow ball from Plum Street. (only to be had in New Orleans)

2 – Favorite color – I love chocolate brown.

3 – Favorite ice cream flavor – Blue Bell’s Pralines ‘n Cream, or their Southern Blackberry Cobbler, or their Strawberry ‘n Cream

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Author BioAbout the Author: Lynn Lorenz is an award-winning and best-selling author of over 30 gay romances. She lives in Texas, where she’s a fan of all things Texan, like Longhorns, big hair, and cowboys in tight jeans. She’s never met a comma she didn’t like, and enjoys editing and brainstorming with other writers. Lynn spends most of her time writing about hot sex with even hotter heroes, plot twists, werewolves, and medieval swashbucklers. She’s currently at work on her latest book, making herself giggle and blush, and avoiding all the housework.

Where to find the author: Website || Facebook || Twitter: @lynnlorenz

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THE GIVEAWAY

Enter for the chance to win one of two prizes: An e-copy of any book from any of Lynn’s series, or the Grand Prize — an e-copy of the entire In the Company of Men series

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates & Stops:

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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4.5 Stars, Annabelle Jacobs, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Magic & Mistletoe

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Magic & Mistletoe

Author: Annabelle Jacobs

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 114 Pages

At a Glance: Annabelle Jacobs has the recipe for holiday magic and romance all sewn up in a sweet little package in Magic & Mistletoe.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Christmas is Harry’s favourite time of the year, but it looks like he’ll be spending it alone. When it comes to the men he fancies, his luck is non-existent. Harry’s nerves always get the better of him—especially when he tries to talk to Andrew, the hot guy downstairs.

Everything changes when Harry meets a mysterious girl in the woods who professes to be a witch. He dismisses her claims, but when odd things start happening to him, he has to reconsider.

Andrew was attracted to Harry from the start, but their awkward encounters put him off. All goes well until Harry opens his mouth—and ruins it with his stupidity and silly comments. When Harry suddenly becomes more relaxed and they have a proper conversation, Andrew realises his first impression was wrong. As the days count down to December 25, they get swept up in the Christmas spirit and their relationship moves faster than either expected.

A little winter magic might have been the push they needed, but Harry worries that when it wears off, he’ll no longer be the man Andrew wants.

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Review: Harry has a problem with overstating the obvious. He gets tongue tied and has a tendency to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind—even if that thing makes him look like a bit of a git for pointing out stuff that doesn’t need pointing out. He’s gotten so tongue-tied around his sexy neighbor, and has managed a near perfect record of saying the wrong thing at the right time, that Andrew thinks Harry’s nothing but a big jerk. Which sucks for Harry because Andrew is a guy he’d really love to know better.

Annabelle Jacobs has the recipe for holiday magic and romance all sewn up in a sweet little package in Magic & Mistletoe, a title I couldn’t resist any more than I could its adorable cover. A walk through the woods with his friends brings Harry face to face with a woodland nymph who decides to take matters into her own hands where Harry’s concerned, and gives him the gift that keeps on giving—namely, the ability to keep his gob shut when he’s about to put his foot in it again.

Little coincidences, surprise favors, helpful nudges (a fortuitously placed mistletoe here and there) all serve to bring Harry and Andrew together. And then, of course, the magic isn’t only of the supernatural variety, if you catch my drift. It turns out that these two guys are pretty great together. But… is that because of Harry’s interfering helper? And if so, what possible hope does Harry have of keeping Andrew once the spell wears off and Harry goes back to being his usual tongue-tied self? This is where we get a little bit of angst in this otherwise feel-good holiday romance, just enough to give us a reason to cheer for the story’s happy ending.

It’s a good thing Christmas comes but once a year because I don’t think my heart could take being warmed so thoroughly the other twelve months. Magic & Mistletoe is another check mark in the winter romance win column, and a book that’s sure to bring you a little holiday cheer.

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You can buy Magic & Mistletoe here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon CA

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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Reviewed by Taz, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Vivien Dean

Review: Savage Estate by Vivien Dean

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Savage Estate

Author: Vivien Dean

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count:  272 Pages

At a Glance: I would recommend this book without reservation. It kept me on my toes, and I stayed up later than I probably should have to find out how the book ended.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: For his twenty-fifth birthday, Alec Savage gets the gift of a lifetime—the chance to meet his father for the very first time. What he finds upon his arrival in Washington, DC, however, is a smashed window, an empty house, and a scrawled note with only his name and a phone number on it. Panicked, he dials the number and talks to an uncle he never knew he had, one who insists Alec is in danger if he stays in the house. That’s when everything starts to get really weird.

Within minutes, he’s teleported all the way to nowhere Montana, in the company of the most gorgeous guy he’s ever seen, hearing about how he’s the latest mage in the Savage line. Alec doesn’t want to believe Rowan Bouchard, but it’s hard to argue with the reality of his new snowbound location or the confirmation from the uncle who greets him. He even thinks staying on the estate while they hunt for his father won’t be so bad if he has Rowan as eye candy.

Except Rowan is more than that. He’s a shifter, the most beautiful black panther Alec could imagine. And according to his Uncle Martin, he’s now Alec’s familiar, too…

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Review: Savage Estate has so many of the things I love: familiars, mages, magic, action. One character discovering he likes guys. All-in-all, a very satisfying read. For the most part, this story follows timid Alec, someone who’s kind of lost until he meets Rowan, right at a crucial turning point in his life. He’s about to come into his powers and, therefore, come under direct threat by those who would rid the world of mages. Rowan, a stoic and dutiful man, arrives on scene to save belligerent Alex, and the story rolls on from there.

Alec and Rowan start a little like oil and water, but feelings quickly develop. While Rowan is supposedly “straight,” or at least had been up until he met Rowan, the instant bonding of mage and familiar unlocked something in him that he’d not known existed. Once the plotline began to unfold, the story took wings. Dirty politics, not knowing who to trust, estranged father reconnected with abandoned son.

While the book was an enjoyable read, and I became more and more engrossed in the story as it unfolded, there were still certain aspects of the storyline which seemed a bit too convenient for my tastes. Primarily it seemed a bit of a cop-out to have Rowan become gay once he connected with Alec. People don’t become gay, they either are or aren’t…or they’re bisexual or asexual, or some other combination of the many identifications out there. I would have preferred that Rowan had discovered his true nature as a gay man, even if his attraction was only, and would always be, for one man. Also, I wish a bigger deal had been made of Alec coming into his powers. The fact he was about to receive his powers at the onset of the book created the conflict necessary for the plot to move forward, and we do get a taste of his powers, but in the end, his magic isn’t what brings us to the climax and ending.

With all that said, I would recommend this book without reservation. It kept me on my toes, and I stayed up later than I probably should have to find out how the book ended.

TNA_Signature_Taz

 

 

 

 

You can buy Savage Estate here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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4 Stars, Mythology, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, T.A. Chase

Review: Pestilence by T.A. Chase

Amazon

Amazon

TitlePestilence (The Four Horsemen: Book One)

Author: T.A. Chase

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 170 Pages

At a Glance: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in a romance novel? Yes, please!

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: For Pestilence, the White Horseman, love becomes the most powerful cure.

Having lost his wife and child during the Black Death, Pestilence accepts the fate destiny has given him as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For centuries, Pestilence did his job, spreading plagues and disease around the world. He does it to keep the balance between good and evil, yet he hates every minute of it. He longs to be left alone, but suddenly fate seems to have a different plan for him.

When Bart Winston stumbles into an Amazon clearing, he’s terribly ill and sure he’s going to die. A tall white-haired man with unusual black eyes catches him in his arms and Bart’s life takes a turn into the unbelievable. Blaming the whole situation on his illness might have worked, but as he gets better and learns about the strange man who heals him, Bart must accept there are more things in the world than he ever guessed.

Pestilence and Bart heal each other, and begin to wonder if there can be a future for the White Horseman and the mortal he’s fallen in love with.

Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously released under the same title. It has been re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

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Review: It’s not often you find new books about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but every time I find one, I have to snatch it up. I’m not sure why exactly, but the mythology/legend/whatever you want to call it about the Horsemen has always fascinated me. Maybe it’s my love of post-apocalyptic fiction or dystopian societies that draws me to them, but I know when they show up, the end is near and everything is about to go from bad to worse, and I’m thrown into the societies either collapsing from their presence or struggling to overcome them. A few years ago I read a fantastic YA series that reimagined the Four Horsemen by drawing teenagers suffering from different problems into the roles. I adored it. I never thought I would find m/m fiction with the Horsemen. But here we are!

This first book is about Pestilence. In life he was an Italian doctor during the bubonic plague. After losing his wife and son, he commits suicide and is thrust into the role of Pestilence. He exists to bring plagues to mankind in order to maintain the balance between heaven and hell. But after several hundred years of doing this, while Pest is settled in his role, he’s far from happy. How could he be with what he does? Spreading plagues is the exact opposite of what he did when he was alive. When Bart literally stumbles into him in his home in the Amazon, Pest is drawn to the man suffering from an unknown disease. While he first attributes the attraction to the potential for finally helping a human, the attraction changes into desire, and soon he is lusting after his ward. And the feeling is mutual. Despite his illness, Bart is drawn to the white-haired, black-eyed man named Pestilence.

What follows is a story of love and redemption. Pestilence needs to find a way to forgive himself before he can let himself love—and be loved.

As the first book in the series, it clearly follows the first of the four horsemen who ride. Now, in religious mythology the first horseman on a white horse is more frequently known as Conquest, but there have been some changes, and he is more often known in pop culture as Pestilence. War and Famine do not make an appearance at all, but Death does, because Death rides with them all as the “de facto leader” of the Horsemen as Pest calls him. Also involved is Lam, one of the lambs of God. He’s the messenger for Death, and is more or less unwillingly dragged into helping Bart.

Each character is well developed and I loved reading about them. They each display distinct personalities. Though he isn’t in the book too long, I loved Lam and his desire to both help and please as well as fight against Death’s request. Pest does his job well, but when he’s not needed, he retreats to the Amazon, obsessed with finding cures for diseases in the undiscovered flora of the jungle. Even if he can’t cure people, he still needs to maintain his role as a doctor. And poor Bart, dumped in the jungle—literally—by an ex who used him for his research and then left him to die from an unknown disease; he unwittingly bumps into the one person who literally causes disease in anyone he touches with his hands, and has to rely on him for help. Of course, he doesn’t know Pest’s true nature, and it takes a long time for Pest to reveal it as it goes against the rules of the Horsemen. Then, when this unknown disease starts to spread, it’s up to Pest and Bart to stop it before it reaches epidemic levels that will upset the balance of the world, and the rider of the white horse must use his abilities for good rather than ill.

If you’re like me and you find reimagining mythology great reading, I highly recommend this book. I’m thrilled that I’ll also be reading and reviewing the next three books in the series. So watch out for them!

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

 

You can buy Pestilence here:

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Giveaways, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles

Guest Post and Giveaway: Boys Who Go Bump in the Night by Josephine Myles and JL Merrow

Genie Lamp

photo credit: CIMG3470 via photopin (license)

 

If you were granted three wishes, what would you spend them on?

Today JL Merrow and Josephine Myles are here talking all things magic, in celebration of of their latest paranormal anthology, Boys Who Go Bump in the Night. The last story in the anthology features the classic genie in the lamp trope, so we wondered what three wishes the authors would choose, should they ever be surprised by a genie when polishing a lamp.

Jo: I think this is highly unlikely as I hate using Brasso, but let’s just imagine a genie might respond to my cursory occasional use of a feather duster…

Hmm, wishes are tricky things. They have a way of backfiring and being taken too literally–a lesson I learned through reading Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story pretty much every year during my childhood. So what I’d need to come up with is a set of wishes that are bulletproof. I’m going to have to ponder some more. What do you reckon, Jamie?

Jamie: You’ve made me think, there. I was going to wish for all my novels to magically plot themselves as I write them, but now I’m thinking of all the ways that could go horribly wrong. I could end up writing in an entirely different genre!

But wishing to win the lottery jackpot would probably be safe, right?

Right?

*imagines self mugged for ticket/murdered for money/suffering fatal heart attack when numbers come up*

Jo: I think wishing for long term health and happiness for you and your loved ones has got to be a safe wish, right? That’s my first. For me and my loved, ones, obviously. You can do your own wish, Jamie!

Jamie: Maybe it’s just me, but even with that I can see a possible twist–you could, say, be kept alive indefinitely on life support and your system flooded with mood enhancing drugs, which might technically qualify, mightn’t it? Then again, in the stories it’s usually the “greedy” wishes that get punished, not the relatively modest and benign ones like this, so maybe you’re safe!

Jo: I hope so! Okay, second wish: a five bedroom detached country house with a large garden and swimming pool. I’m not going so ridiculously large that I lose the family in there, but big enough to have a “me” room I can escape into and keep all my sewing stuff there. I have a lot of sewing stuff. Oh, and it has to be within ten miles of my current address. I’m not having that pesky genie dump me down in deepest, darkest Wales, thank you very much. (the author would like to point out that she loves Wales. She just doesn’t want to live there!)

Jamie: Living as I do near St Albans, where a massive sinkhole recently opened up and narrowly missed swallowing a family home, maybe it’s my inner cynic but I’m not sure I’d trust any house a genie chose to put me in!  Maybe one of my wishes ought to be for a map of underground mines in the local area. ;)

Third and last wish, Jo?

Jo: Umm, it’s a toss up between having my own personal time machine or a household robot that would do all the chores for me. Actually, what am I saying? The robot would win every time. Just imagine never having to mow the lawn or clean the toilet! I’m afraid my wishes are all rather domestic. I must be getting old!

What’s your last wish? Maybe it should be world peace or something altruistic…

Jamie: *looks shifty* So probably not the endless supply of red wine and chocolate I was thinking of, then? ;)

Readers: We’d love to hear what your wishes would be. Can’t promise to grant ‘em, mind! ;)

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Giveaway: one lucky commenter will win a book of their choice from both Jo and Jamie’s backlists!

Contest closes at midnight Pacific time on Saturday, November 28, 2015.

Good luck!

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Boys Who Go Bump in the NightBoys Who Go Bump in the Night

A Mad About the Brit Boys collection

When boy meets (supernatural) boy

Buckle up as two queens of British gay romance take you on a whistlestop tour of all things paranormal. Vampires, genies, ghosts, magicians and shifters all get their chance for a bit of boy on boy action, in five erotic stories that span the range from the humorous to the sublime.

Will you seek to make your fortune with magic and ritual, or pin your hopes on a genie’s power to grant wishes? Discover a shifty young man on a Scottish shoreline, meet a hapless garlic farmer who’s been turned into one of the undead–and if you dare to venture into the cellar, gird your loins for a horny ghost!

These stories have all been previously published, but are now available exclusively in this anthology.

Available now from Amazon for a  bargain $0.99/£0.99!

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JL MerrowAuthor bios:

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again.  Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow

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Josephine MylesEnglish through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

Jo publishes regularly with Samhain, and now has over ten novels and novellas under her belt. Her novel Stuff won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Romance, and her novella Merry Gentlemen won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Romantic Comedy. She has also been known to edit anthologies and self-publish on occasion, although she prefers to leave the “boring bits” of the ebook creation process to someone else. She loves to be busy, and is currently having fun trying to work out how she is going to fit in her love of writing, dressmaking and attending cabaret shows in fabulous clothing around the demands of a preteen with special needs and a soon-to-be toddler.

Website and blog || Facebook || Twitter: @JosephineMyles

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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Giveaways, J. Johanis

Interview and Giveaway: The Dream God Blog Tour with J. Johanis

Dream God Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author J. Johanis to The Novel Approach today on the tour for her new novel Dream God. Enjoy the short interview and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a $20 E-gift card and an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Q: Tell us about your book.

A: Dream God is essentially the aftermath of what goes down in Claimed by the Order. Aya is finally free from the Order, but they have to endure a trial with powerful gods pulling the strings. To give you an idea, the trial is a lot like a modern day rape trial. However, if they don’t win in court, Aya will be forced to return to Egypt where Seth will be waiting for him. To complicate things, Marduk and Akad are together, yet Aya is convinced that Marduk is his soul mate.

Q: How difficult was it to get into the main character’s head?

A: I generally don’t find any difficulties getting into a character’s head. However, if I switch from writing one book to writing another, sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to put the other book out of my head in order to get into the right mind set.

Q: Is this book a standalone or do you plan on visiting it again?

A: Dream God is not a standalone. I did some re-capping of book one, but anyone who reads it without reading Claimed by the Order is going to miss out on too much. So, I advise reading book one first.

Q: Why did you choose to write M/M stories?

A: I write M/M because it’s what comes naturally to me. I started writing M/M before I ever picked up an M/M book. I actually was quite surprised when I discovered how big the genre was and that most of the authors were female as well.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration?

A: I am mostly inspired by history and mythology, but there are also current events and popular TV shows that spark my imagination. With respect to characters, sometimes I see an image or meet someone who inspires the creation of a character. However, I develop most characters because they fit a character type that I need in the plot.

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Dream God CoverBlurb: For the first time in three years, Aya is finally free, but with his freedom comes the pain of all he’s lost. Seeing Akad and Marduk together makes him realize how badly he has messed up. By betraying Marduk, he ruined his chance with the one god he desires more than anything.

Aya needs time to heal and put his world back together, but the trial against the Order looms over him. As the trial begins, Akad, Marduk, and Aya are ensnared in a web of jealousy, backstabbing, and cut-throat politics. Were they crazy to think they could stand up to the Order? If the gods of the Order can still rip their lives apart, their chances of receiving justice may be next to impossible. But if they fail to bring the Order down, Aya may never be free from their grasp.

Buy Link: Amazon

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Excerpt: “My lord Aya,” Elian said, “I’ve prepared your bath early as you requested.”

Aya groaned into his pillow. He looked up just as his servant set a wooden bucket down near the foot of his bed. Steam rose off the water.

“Thank you, Elian.” Aya needed something to curb his frustration. After slipping his skirt down, he stepped out of it, and dipped his feet into the bucket. He closed his eyes, allowing Elian to wash him. Elian ran a warm cloth over his face, then his neck and his bare chest. His touch was sensual like that of a lover, and Aya let his mind wander to the times Marduk had touched him. Elian glided the cloth down his belly, and a shiver ran up Aya’s spine. Elian’s cloth finally brushed along his member, stroking and coaxing. Blood rushed to Aya’s head as Elian’s touch aroused all his senses. When Elian’s strong fingers slid between his buttocks, Aya’s body tensed, his heartbeat quickening. Elian had always tried so hard to seduce him as a boy, but Aya had never given in. Aya had dreamed of saving himself for his soul mate—a dream that had been shattered by Seth and the Order. It seemed ridiculous to continue denying himself a man’s touch, especially that of his gorgeous concubine.

“Please,” Aya said, unsure of what he was asking. Just the thought of Elian fucking him made the heat in him rise. He closed his eyes, imagining Marduk touching him and taking control of him. Thinking of Marduk while Elian stroked him didn’t seem right, but he longed to give his body over; he wanted to feel something. Aya had been like a monk since he’d escaped the Order.

“My Lord. Will you allow me to please you?”

Unable to speak the words, Aya nodded his assent. Elian immediately pushed him back on the bed and crawled on top of him. Though Elian was mortal, his forceful manner was enough to get Aya’s blood flowing.

“Tell me what you want,” Elian said, breathless.

Aya still couldn’t speak, but he knew what he needed. “Please… just fuck me.”

A smile spread to Elian’s lips as he pushed Aya’s legs up and pressed his hard cock against Aya’s exposed hole. Elian ran his hands up Aya’s torso and pinched his nipples hard as his dick slid in. Aya gasped while Elian opened him, driving his shaft deep into his passage until his balls were flush with Aya’s ass.

“Ah,” Aya groaned, clenching handfuls of bedding, anticipating what was to come next. It soon became apparent that Elian knew how to fuck. When the first thrust came, Aya’s entire body glowed with the intense sensation. He needed this. He needed to be fucked so hard that the breath was forced from his lungs, but while his servant’s cock battered him, his mind wandered. He was once again in the Oasis pool and Marduk was inside him, riding him slowly, making him feel something he’d never felt with another.

Elian’s cock slammed into Aya once more, jarring him from his daydream. Though Marduk had been angry with Aya, he hadn’t punished him with his cock; instead he’d made love to him, slow and sweet.

“Stop!” Aya ordered, and Elian paused midstroke. Aya couldn’t stop thinking about Marduk. He’d imagined that letting Elian fuck him would change things—that maybe he’d find some satisfaction, but Elian was so forceful. All Aya could think of was Marduk’s gentle touch, and how Marduk had made love to him. When Elian pulled out, Aya rolled onto his side. His chest tightened once more. He wanted to cry and pull out his hair. He needed Marduk. No one else would ever compare. No one would ever make him feel like Marduk had.

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About the author: J. Johanis writes dark m/m erotic fantasy, and enjoys plots that are historical or myth-based.

Where to find the authorFacebook || Facebook Author Page || Twitter  || Pinterest || Website || Google || Blog || Newsletter signup

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates & Stops:

16-Nov: The Novel Approach,  Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

17-Nov: Rainbow Gold ReviewsBook Reviews, Rants, and Raves, My Fiction Nook

18-Nov: The Jena Wade, Divine Magazine

19-Nov: Amanda C. Stone, Prism Book Alliance

20-Nov: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Emotion in Motion

23-Nov: Books A to Z, Love Bytes

24-Nov: Full Moon Dreaming, BFD Book Blog

25-Nov: Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, TTC Books and More

26-Nov: Up All Night, Read All Day

27-Nov: Inked Rainbow Reads

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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4 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Maryann, Self-Published, Thianna Durston

Review: Discovery by Thianna Durston

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Discovery (Drakyl Ranch: Book One)

Author: Thianna Durston

Publisher: NQWYE Press

Pages/Word Count: 154 Pages

At a Glance: Discovery is a good beginning to the Drakyl Ranch series.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Living in Montana and working the ranch is all Aaron wants to do for the rest of his life. Diagnosed as allergic to the sun thirteen years previous, every day is a struggle to get out of bed. Having to wear long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and even material to cover his face from the effects of the sun, just makes it all worse. Now, in his thirty-second year, he is sure this will be his last summer. While he hates it, he knows he needs to come to terms with the truth and put things in order for his younger cousins. Before he does so, he heads out for one night of pleasure before facing what’s coming.

Jaret loves excitement and new adventures. For over five hundred years, he has sought them out. In Montana on a whim, he comes across someone he doesn’t expect, someone who makes him feel things he does not understand and does not want to give up. In no time at all, he feels like he cannot live without Aaron. The only problem is Aaron doesn’t know who he is, what he is, nor that he isn’t going to die. Not on Jaret’s watch. With a plan to help the other man discover who he is in place, he only has one thing to worry about: whether an ancient enemy will come and destroy everything he now holds dear.

Dividers Review: Discovery is the first book in the new Drakyl Ranch series by Thianna Durston. The lore and mythology of this story is a different concept for me in regards to drakyl versus vampyre. The word “vampire” has a totally different meaning in this –verse, and no relationship to what this story is all about. We find that the vampyre are smelly and just plain evil all around, and that drakyl are a genetic link between vampyre and drakyl. Ms. Durston provides a scientific theory on how they came about.

Drakyl is actually the last name of the family that lives on the Montana ranch. We find cousins Aaron, Adam, Stephan, Jeffery, and Conner working the Drakyl Ranch with their elderly uncle, Davis. Everyone gets along great, but Uncle Davis and the boys worry about Aaron. He is the oldest and is suffering from an illness. He has come to realize he doesn’t have long to live, so he decides to go into town and have one last fling. There he meets up with Jaret, the mysterious stranger who has been a drakyl for many years.  Once Aaron and Jaret start learning about each other, we find that they don’t necessarily agree on everything.

I thought it odd that Uncle Davis hadn’t shared his knowledge with Aaron sooner, as Aaron was suffering. The reaction of the cousins when they find out what their destiny is, is without fear and they accept it calmly. Maybe they had that reaction because they were sort of abandoned by their families and sent to live with their uncle because they were considered different. There is also an abundance of past history about the drakyl that Aaron and Jaret will be discovering as the series progresses. They also have to face danger as they take up the battle against the vampyre.

Discovery is a good beginning to the Drakyl Ranch series. Ms. Durston has created enough characters and history to keep me curious. Since we get a little glimpse of the second book, I’m looking forward to this new paranormal adventure.

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

You can buy Discovery here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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3 Stars, Elizabeth Coldwell, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Into the Arena by Elizabeth Coldwell

Amazon US

Amazon US

TitleInto the Arena (Lionhearts: Book Four)

Author:  Elizabeth Coldwell

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 146 Pages

At a Glance: The book starts off strong, but some parts were too much of a stretch.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: He will fight for the one he loves, no matter what it takes.
Cesare Bianco is a shifter without a pride. Exiled from his home town of Padua after losing a leadership fight to his corrupt, self-serving uncle, he travels to Rome in search of a new beginning. A chance meeting sees him taking a job on the catering crew of a Hollywood blockbuster. When he meets the movie’s handsome lead actor, Hayden, he knows he’s in the presence of his mate. But Hayden is human. Even though he offers the possibility of lasting love, Cesare must fight all his instincts to make it happen.
Hayden Skarz is on the verge of the big time. Landing the lead in sci-fi adventure Thrown to the Lions has put him on the road to stardom. Filming in Rome is a difficult new challenge for him, though being around Cesare, the hunk who works in the catering truck, makes his job much sweeter. Sex between them is passionate and wildly inventive. But Hayden has a stalker, who’s tired of being ignored in favor of other men. When what started as a crush turns into murderous obsession, can Cesare help Hayden make it off the film set alive?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and bondage.

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Review: So far I have really enjoyed the Lionhearts series by Elizabeth Coldwell, and I was looking forward to this next installment. And while it is a good book, it did not live up to the other books in the series. It started off strong, but by the time the big reveal came for Cesare, I was pretty incredulous.

You do not need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this book. They all work as standalones, even if other characters are briefly mentioned. The main character from Vintage Pride is mentioned in about two sentences in this book, and then never is brought up again. Cesare and Hayden are new, as is the location. When Cesare is forced to leave his pride after a failed attempt at taking over, he travels to Rome where he helps Gail feed actors on a movie set. When he meets Hayden, he knows he’s met his mate.

I enjoyed the characters and their interactions, for the most part, but there didn’t seem to be much at stake for them. Yes, if they got caught together they’d be the talk of the set, but Hayden is already out as an actor, so it’s really not that big a deal. And while he has a stalker, it doesn’t turn really dangerous until the end. I never felt the tension I did during the other books. What bothered me the most was Cesare’s reveal to Hayden that he’s a shifter. Hayden mentions in passing that he felt a connection to the lion that was on set (Cesare after a forced shift), and when Cesare reveals it was him, there’s a page, maybe two, of Hayden not believing him, and then he’s suddenly accepting and, “Hey, I guess it makes sense.” Reading that threw me off. It just didn’t feel right, and I even backtracked a bit to see if I had missed pages. Likewise, the danger at the end was over so quickly, and easily resolved. I never felt that Hayden and Cesare were really in danger.

As a final note, the publisher warns of violence and bondage. Is there violence? Yes, but I’ve read worse in books without a warning. Is there bondage? Yes, to a small extent, but with a warning on it, I was expecting much more. Do I honestly think it was necessary to put either there? No.

If you’re a fan of the series, I’d be interested in seeing what you think of the book after reading it. If you’re new to the series, I recommend reading one of the first three books prior to reading this one.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Into the Arena here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, B. Snow, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Kim, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Review: Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece by B. Snow

Small Gems

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece

Author: B. Snow

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 48 Pages

At a Glance: I’m giving this short story a high recommendation for those who have a quirky sense of humor.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Tom, museum curator and expert in Renaissance jewelry, doesn’t think his boyfriend Peter is “The One.” Peter is perfectly happy with Tom, but Tom is obsessed with the artist Benedetto Emilio Nesci—exciting, passionate, extraordinarily talented… and dead for over 400 years.
Tasked with researching a bejeweled codpiece, Tom abandons his professional ethics—and his sanity—to try on the codpiece and is transported halfway around the world and back in time, right into Florence, Italy and Nesci’s workroom.
After his initial panic subsides, Tom seizes the opportunity to allow Nesci to seduce him, but Tom discovers not everything about the sixteenth century is as romantic as he’d imagined. Getting back to the modern world and Peter becomes Tom’s only wish, but desire and reality are two completely different things, and Tom might not get what he wants this time around.

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Review: First off, I have to say both the title and the cover of Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece caught my attention. But, to be honest, I made the mistake of reading other’s initial reviews and wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to read it. Still, I’m one who always likes to walk on the wild side and give new authors a chance.

OMG! I’m so glad I gave this book a chance. I started off grinning and then had some serious LOL moments when Tom made his trip back into time to meet his obsession, Emilio.

See, this is what I love about time travel stories that actually take the romance out of the time period and put a little something like reality into it. I actually know someone like Emilio, and damn if I didn’t have the same reaction that Tom had. I especially enjoyed how sweet it was when Tom got over his OCD with Peter.

Sorry…I’ve been known to have a quirky sense of humor, and I guess that’s why I loved Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece. There are two authors that I know of who share this sense of humor—Ethan Day and John Inman. I’m giving this short story a high recommendation for those who also enjoy that quirky humor too.

I’m so looking forward to reading more from B. Snow!

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

You can buy Emily’s Magical Bejeweled Codpiece here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Carole Cummings, DSPP's Genre Talk, J Tullos Hennig

DSPP Presents: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and J Tullos Hennig

DSP Publications

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of Genre Talk. Today DSP Publications author J Tullos Hennig—Historical Fantasy maven of the Books of the Wode series—has agreed to come and take the helm, and give us a historical perspective on Romance. (Romance. On Genre Talk! I know, right?!) So if any of you have ever wondered about the origins of Romance as a genre, and its various permutations over the years, buckle up—or, rather, unrip those bodices—and read on!

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ROMANCE—12th Century Style
J Tullos Hennig

So.

When I first pitched this particular idea to Our Fair & Fearless Leader (a.k.a. Genre Talk Co-ordinator Carole Cummings) she blinked at me. Said, “You’re going to talk about Romance for Genre Talk? You.”

Yes, I said. Why not?

At the time we were kvetching about the modern, (and bloody foolish, let’s just say it) notion that if a book or movie doesn’t open with the equivalence of a car chase and shootout, then ‘nothing’s happening’. We were coming up with examples, both written and filmed, where there was no shootout equivalent, but to say nothing was happening was just, well, wrong. The Lion in Winter (the original with Hepburn and O’Toole) was mentioned as a masterpiece of dialogue and in-depth characterization.

(And let’s get this out of the way right now… if you say to either of us that The Lion In Winter is one of those movies in which ‘nothing happens’, then you’d better duck. Seriously. Because there was a ton of happenings in that movie; those characters, that dialogue, and people who staged it told an amazing story.)

All asides aside, I mentioned to the FFL that watching this movie so long ago was the beginning of my fascination and admiration for Eleanor of Aquitaine and the early Plantagenets. And since Eleanor plays a minor, if rather influential, role in the upcoming Wode trilogy (including in the newest offering, Winterwode, now available from DSP Publications… and yes, that is a shameless plug, why?) then I can, in fact, talk about the modern genre of Romance, because Eleanor was instrumental in its invention.

This can be argued, certainly. Not only because everything to do with history will have many fiery-eyed historians fencing over it, believe me, but also this:

Either Eleanor did us an amazing service by breaking societal expectations and, through her patronisation of the arts, further arm a burgeoning cultural revolution based on secular ideals, reason, and the individuated journey, complete with personal sacrifice and fulfillment…

Or an overly idealistic woman, who had been thwarted once too often by society, her marriage partners, fate, and her own biology, decided to spearhead an idealised and over-entitled bit of claptrap that has spawned such things as Disney princesses and the oft-horrific ideal that if we don’t have a “Happily Ever After” then we have somehow failed as human beings.

(Neither argument is quite true, though I will admit subscribing to either theory on alternate Thursdays. ) ;)

But either way Eleanor, a powerful, amazing, and intelligent woman no matter how you parse it, is arguably the one who enabled a lasting portal into the ideal of modern romance.

A little context, first. Contrary to popular belief, life in the early Middle Ages wasn’t all about the “nasty, brutish and short”, and neither were its people. The years circa 1100-1250 A.C.E. are also known as the ‘12th Century Renaissance’. There was an upsurge of the sciences, particularly in the Middle East. Cross-culturalism was a fact, despite—and in some ways, due to—religious war and crusade. Expressions of the arts were in high esteem about this time, not only in the Middle East but Western Europe, with writers, musicians and poets—particularly the trouvère and the troubadour—thriving from high courts to tavern hearths.

And those expressions were changing. Before, they were articulated through the means of the Epic, or chanson de geste, such as The Song of Roland, or the vast amount of Matter of _____ (fill in the blank with some country’s name). They were focused on a hero—usually larger than life, with massive thews and equally-as-massive entitlement, real and imagined—and that hero’s involvement with societal, national and familial doings. Robin Hood began life in this vein; one of his major introductory tales is called A Gest of Robyn Hode.

The mediaeval Romance, on the other hand, had as its focus the individual and interior struggles of that hero. Take The Tale of Gamelyn (I’ve certainly taken it and ran!), which is classified as a Romance. There is no ‘romance’ in it—at least not the way modern audiences would describe it. The only mention that remotely resembles a lover is an unnamed wife he receives at the story’s end complete with his inheritance, therefore more prize than anything. But it is a Romance, by all the definitions of its time: it is a character study, a rather violent journey of an individual (Gamelyn) from dispossession into his own. It’s one of the original Cinderella-type stories, in fact (and without the nasty subtext of ‘just be a ‘good girl’ and take it, and you’ll get that prince’).

The original definition of the Romance could therefore be perceived in two words: character development.

This is where it gets a bit more tangly. From that surge of interest in the individual came interest in all the things that make up an individual: the interior strengths and weaknesses that come along with food, fighting and fornication. Learning was valued. Accepted values were more and more being questioned. The weather cooperated, too; the fire-blasted North had mostly recovered from the Norman Conquest, and pastures and crops waxed abundant. As did the people. All classes were living at a higher standard than before, so there was also the very real problem of lots of children. Territorial children. Daughters raised to manage their dower with iron fingers in velvet gloves, and sons who were raised to fight, covered in iron and leather with no velvet whatsoever. A bunch of bully boys with meat cleavers and pig stickers were, literally, terrorizing the country.

Kids those days!

The religious institutions came up with one answer: send ‘em on Crusade. Scorn nature and kill the godless infidels. But there was another answer, and it came from more secular means. Celebrate nature—in its place, mind—and perhaps nick some of the least offensive ideas from the godless infidels.

(Because, really, they weren’t that much more open-minded than a lot of folks today. Think more Team Bernard of Clairvaux vs. Team Peter Abelard.)

Yet despite what you might have gleaned from the musical Camelot, it wasn’t a King named Arthur who instituted the concepts of chivalry, May revels and ‘knights picking flowers’. It wasn’t even a man. The fiń amor or ‘courtly love’, in which the ideals of love for love’s sake were transliterated into a complex code of service to the object of love—be it unrequited amor, or open expressions of passion—were championed by a woman. Eleanor of Aquitaine. In fact, the court she held and inhabited in Poitiers, during the longest of her varied estrangements from her husband Henry II, was significant in its patronage of one of the original purveyors of the written Arthurian sagas—and likely fully imbibed Arthur and his Table with a concept of chivalry that would inhabit ages to come.

Also interesting is how the cult of the Virgin took possession of the hearts and minds of 12th century individuals. This is part of the conceptualisation of Marion into the outlaw ballads… and actually deserves its own lengthy discussion. Whilst it is easy to look back upon this cult/phenomenon with feminist ire (I’m quite guilty), it also speaks to the very real problem of an affluent society seeking ways to control the rampages of its more powerful citizens. Cast one’s less powerful members into a mould of inviolability, and give the ones in power something to defend and worship…

Therein, of course, lies a problem. Not only from the fact that the poor and anyone considered ‘the other’ are outside this set of protections, but the effects of such. Whilst Romance in its original meaning possesses the natural focus upon character and the individual journey, it also—with the Courts of Love—puts forth another ‘spin’: an ideal lifted above reality, based on longing for the unattainable.

By Church and State channelling an ‘angry young knight’s’ impulses toward Protect instead of Plunder, it also relegated the object of desire to just that: an object. A fantasy, pleasant but ultimately unattainable. A game, where the rules can nibble your ear or bite your arse.

Perhaps the Courts of Love was based on something as simple as Eleanor, thwarted of too many ambitions, having the very real desire to be cherished. We all do, in one form or another. Many of us, regardless of gender, even fancy the notion of being placed on a pedestal.

But the actuality of that pedestal has its drawbacks, many of them quite serious. Which is what I ultimately find fascinating.

So, yes, I can talk about Romance, despite the fact that readers will not find a modern genre romance in my books, but rather more old-fashioned notions of such. If you, like me, fancy the ‘more mediaeval’ definition of Romance-as-character-development, with an individuated journey of interior cogitations, personal struggles and sacrifice, within an oft-brutal lens of nature and reality… well then, you might fancy the Wode books.

For not only Robyn, Marion and Gamelyn are there, but so is Eleanor.

In fact, The Lion in Winter is perhaps a primo example of good, old-fashioned Mediaeval Romance.

Pax~ JTH

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tna-dspp--j tullos hennig for 10-14Robyn Hood is the undisputed ruler of the wild, green Wode. Reunited with his sister Marion and his lover Gamelyn, Robyn and his band of outlaws seek to raise the Ceugant—the magical trine of the Old Religion—against the tyranny of Church and Crown. Yet their forest kingdom is roiling with conflict. Marion has been made welcome, but old shackles and new fears hamper her true promise. Gamelyn is torn between oaths of heart and head—and the outlaws never let him forget he was but recently Guy of Gisbourne, defrocked Templar and Robyn’s fiercest enemy.

When a lone traveler is waylaid on the road, a common occurrence quickly proves uncommon. Knight and Maiden, Archer and Men, all are conscripted to aid a Queen’s—and ultimately a King’s—ransom. For beneath winter’s chill is awakening the deepest of magics, and there are those who seek the power of Robyn Hood and his Shire Wode for their own ends.

Winterwode, along with the rest of the Wode series, is available now from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other retail outlets.

You can follow JTH via her website, Facebook and/or Tumblr.

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Now aren’t you glad your bodice was snug and secure? ;)

Many thanks to J Tullos Hennig for being here, and to Lisa and the crew at The Novel Approach Reviews for giving us a venue in which to talk about such fascinating subjects.

Next time on Genre Talk, Lissa Kasey will be here to talk about her new Fantasy/Paranormal release Evolution: Genesis. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you then!

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, Loose Id, Nasia Maksima, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Unbound, Unbroken by Nasia Maksima

Unbound, Unbroken

Unbound, Unbroken

Title: Unbound, Unbroken (In His Arena: Book Two)

Author: Nasia Maksima

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 309 Pages

At a Glance: An excellent second installment in the In His Arena series.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: When rising star gladiator Titian finds himself paired with the vainglorious champion Galadros, he finds himself in mortal danger. For a dark spell binds them together, using their lust to make them pawns in the wicked schemes of Alession, the Empress’s right-hand man.

Their only hope is to fight against the bond and hope to break it before Alession forces them to fight each other to the death in the arena. But with every challenge they face, Titian finds himself more and more drawn to Galadros, strengthening the dark spell even as they try to break it.

What begins as pure survival quickly spirals into a whirlwind of lust and love as Titian fights—both for his life and for an impossible future with Galadros. But Galadros has an even darker secret—one that might destroy them both.

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Review: Although Unbound, Unbroken is the second book in this series, you do not need to read the first in order to understand it. Though there are a few characters that make a reappearance, the lovers in this story are new. The previous lovers from book one are mentioned briefly, but as Titian and Galadros didn’t know them, they don’t know the entire story. Alession and the Empress return, as they are central, connecting figures of the series, but their history is explained for new readers and recapped for fans of the first.

Using the slavecraft from the first book, but this time as a stronger spell, Alession binds Titian and Galadros together for the cruel amusement of the Empress. In that, the storyline is not new; however, these two men are and the slavecraft is stronger. There are also darker elements. Monsters created by one of the houses from fallen gladiators appear which the lovers must fight in order to survive. Things are admittedly grim in this book, but the story was completely engrossing.

What I loved about Titian and Galadros was their personalities. Both are strong men, but their desires lie contrary to what the “rules” of Arena are. According to the unwritten rules, the weaker men are “seeded” by the stronger in order to make them stronger. But Titian, in his role as secutor, must submit to his mated provocator. Even though that’s his role, Titian wants to be the dominant man. Galadros, on the other hand, is the provocator, or another mated pair, and though it’s his role to give to his secutor, he craves a more submissive role in the bedroom. When fate throws them together, both men fight for and against what they want because of the rules their society has set in place. If Galadros truly submits like he wants to, he fears he will lose standing among the other gladiators when he wants to be the champion. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, the admission of his desires could cause him to lose favor with the oddsmakers, which could be fatal.

If you liked the first book, Slave Eternal, you’ll love this one. If you like books with an alternate history intertwined with a bit of fantasy, then give this series a shot. A word of warning, however. There is some dubious consent in this book. It is at times masked by magic, but if that’s a trigger for you, just be warned.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Unbound, Unbroken here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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4.5 Stars, Ally Blue, Reviewed by Kim, Samhain Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Myth Adventures by Ally Blue

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Myth Adventures (Mojo Mysteries: Book Three)

Author: Ally Blue

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 192 Pages

At a Glance: Ally Blue knows how to throw in just the right amount of spooky angst to keep me motivated to turn pages.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Something evil is going down in Atlanta…

Adrian Broussard and Greg Woodhall are attending OutlantaCon, Atlanta’s annual gay geek conference, and are looking forward to a weekend of cosplay and general nerdy fun. As they mingle with other conference goers, though, Adrian feels a strange, cold energy emanating from a man dressed as a satyr.

Encounters with storybook creatures roaming the streets only increase the chilly tendrils teasing Adrian’s sixth sense—strong enough to cause disturbing visions of Greg’s existence being erased.

When a girl at the conference goes missing, then turns up dead, clues literally drop in their laps as Adrian begins to fear the cold, alien energy is engulfing the whole city. And in danger of swallowing up his lover.

To Adrian’s horror, his worst nightmare is realized. Now both he and Greg must call on reserves of strength and resourcefulness they never knew they possessed to save Atlanta, and each other.

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Review: Ally Blue is one of the first M/M authors I ever read, and she lured me into the world of M/M romance. She knows how to throw in just the right amount of spooky angst to keep me motivated to turn pages and see what’s going to happen next in her stories. And, ever since I read Oleander House, I’ve been hooked on the Bay City Paranormal Investigation series. Now its spinoff, the Mojo Mysteries series, has me hooked too, and so far, I think Myth Adventures is the best of the Mojo books.

I was immediately drawn into the storyline when Adrian saw the satyr and sensed that something was off. When Greg disappeared, like their friends, it especially piqued my interest—to the point I had to restrain myself from rushing through the pages. The portals have returned with a vengeance! And I like the fact that Adrian and Greg’s relationship is so solid throughout the story.

My only problem with Myth Adventures was that I was left guessing what happened to a couple of the characters, though I can kind of guess, but still, I wanted to know! Maybe I’ll find out for sure what happened to them in the next adventure.

TNA_Signature_Kim

 

 

 

You can buy Myth Adventures here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

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