5 Stars, Cari Z., Reviewed by Angel, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Where There’s Smoke by Cari Z.

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Title: Where There’s Smoke

Author: Cari Z

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 88 Pages

At a Glance: Where There’s Smoke is The Incredibles on steroids, and I totally mean that as a compliment.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.

But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.

Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.

Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.

Dividers

Review: Where There’s Smoke is a novella, but it is a fully complete story, and I wanted more. I am definitely looking forward to the sequel that’s coming out later this year. I think the author said it best in her forward dedication:

“For everyone who has always preferred the villain. I feel you, people.”

Yes, indeed! This is for all those who fell for Bucky Barnes (Captain America and the Winter Soldier), Brigadier General Francis X Hummel, as well as John Patrick Mason (The Rock), Gru (Despicable Me) and just to date myself, Darth Vader, from the original Star Wars trilogy.

Where There’s Smoke is an action/adventure tale with corruption, politics, heroes, villains, and romance, and I loved it. I normally don’t like the first person POV, but it works here. It works so well here, in fact, that you almost forget you’re being told a story. Cari Z throws you right into her world with some telling, but it’s mostly showing, which is explosive. Once I started this novella, I couldn’t put it down.

Edward is a wonderfully normal guy who puts himself in a new city to find his excitement, and find it he does. I could feel his wonder about the city of Panopolis, and how the fantasy didn’t quite live up to the expectation. Then, he meets a “villain”, and in one sense of the word The Mad Bombardier is the bad guys. But…I loved him, just as I did all those other villains previously mentioned. Raul, the life he led, the one that made him our villain, makes you wonder about how your own children will turn out, and if you are doing the right things with them. Or, at least it did me. This is just the beginning of their story, and it was a grand slam right out of the park.

The heroes, some mentioned only by name, made me want to know their stories, too. Freight Train, our “hero” of this story, seemed to have that same aspect—the fully justified arrogance about being a hero, with a bit of “Aww shucks, just doing my job” thrown in for good measure. This is what makes them our supposedly beloved heroes, and despite the fact, he made my skin crawl. Some of the other villains are over-the-top creepy, and it made me wonder about the speculation that, for all intents and purposes, it seems the city made both the heroes and the villains. Even the exposé writer SuperTruther is a viable presence, and I so wonder who it is.

I loved the world building Cari Z has done for this verse. The city of Panopolis is recognizable as both a regular city and one from a popular superhero series, be it Gotham or Metropolis. It has that adult, gritty and realistic feel to it. I’d say it was The Incredibles on steroids and totally mean that as a compliment. I am a first time reader of this author, but I will definitely be going back for more of her work. Thanks for a wonderful tale, Cari Z, I’m looking forward to reading more!

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You can buy Where There’s Smoke here:

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Heartspell Media, Ines Johnson

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Pleasure Hound (Part One) by Ines Johnson

Ines Johnson

The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome Ines Johnson’s The Pleasure Hound blog tour today. Enjoy the excerpt she’s shared with us, then be sure to leave a comment to enter for a chance to win an e-copy of the book.

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Tere Michaels

Review: Who Knows the Storm by Tere Michaels

Title: Who Knows the Storm (The Vigilante: Book One)

Author: Tere Michaels

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: In a dystopian near future, New York City has become the epicenter of decadence—gambling, the flesh trade, a playground for the wealthy. And underneath? Crime, fueled by “Dead Bolt,” a destructive designer drug. This New City is where Nox Boyet leads a double life. At night, he is the Vigilante, struggling to keep the streets safe for citizens abandoned by the corrupt government and police. During the day, he works in construction and does his best to raise his adopted teenaged son, Sam. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Lissa Kasey, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Hidden Gem by Lissa Kasey

Title: Hidden Gem

Author: Lissa Kasey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 246 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Misaki “Aki” Itou is a psi—a person with mutated DNA granting him psychic abilities. He’s also a contracted companion—a whore. It may not be the perfect profession, but having a roof over his head, food to eat, and not being subjected to torture is a dream come true. He is the top companion at the Hidden Gem, and it makes him enough money to buy the prettiest, most sparkly shoes he can find. Continue reading

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Self-Published, T.M. Smith

Guest Post and Giveaway: “Opposites” by T.M. Smith

Title: Opposites
Series: Opposites
Release Date: June 1st 2013 (re-released Nov 23 2013)
Author: T.M. Smith
Genre: New Adult Dystopian (M/M F/F M/F)
Length: 199 pages
Publisher: TTC Publishing

Blurb: In the year 2081 our planet survived global warming of an apocalyptic scale. When the dust settled and the water receded Dr. Anthony Smith, one of only a few hundred survivors of GWI, started society anew. Having come to the conclusion that injudicious breeding played a huge role in the destruction of Earth as we knew it in the twenty first century, he worked closely with other survivors to isolate the Dionysus gene. This gene has the ability to manipulate human DNA to ensure that all male children be born gay, and all female children be born lesbians. A new society is born. Continue reading

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5 Stars, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Reviewed by Lisa

A Man’s Life Ticks Down To “Zero Hour” – by Jordan Castillo Price


“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ― Mark Twain


Title: Zero Hour

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Publisher: JCP Books

Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Ernest just turned thirty. It’s time for retirement, freedom from the tedious drudgery of his job as a data clerk. Time to explore parts of the city he’s never seen before, and hopefully meet some actual people. And at the end of the month? Time to die.

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Loose Id, M.J. O'Shea

The Novel Approach Welcomes M.J. O’Shea On The “Rising Sun” Blog Tour – And There’s A Giveaway


Blurb: New Seattle 2199

Castor Kovalenko, socialite and high ranking member of the Dragon Triad, is worried about his cousin, Lynx. He’s been missing for weeks and there have been rumors circling the city, rumors that he’s been taken hostage by the hacker thief Yoru Katana. Castor needs to find his cousin before it’s too late. He’s willing to do nearly anything to bring Lynx to safety.
Jaffa Sharp is trying to stay alive. It’s not easy when the only thing you’ve ever learned to do is steal. Even harder when he keeps running into one annoying Dragon prince who keeps trying to get him arrested.

When Castor uses Jaffa to get to his cousin and the thief Katana, they both learn that nothing is as it seemed, including Lynx and Katana himself. Castor and Jaffa soon become involved in a plot to take the city back from the villainous triads. They find themselves fighting the people they thought were their leaders — and fighting an attraction stronger than either of them have felt before. Nothing is certain in the precarious new world they find themselves in: Life, death, friend, enemy, and the most uncertain thing of all…love
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Reviewed by Lisa, S.A. McAuley, Totally Bound

S.A. McAuley’s “Powerless” Is An Emotionally Charged And Action Packed Read


“I come to you with blood on my hands and you see peace?”

“You come to me with blood on your hands and I see sacrifice.” –

S.A. McAuley


Title: Powerless (The Borders War: Book Three)

Author: S.A. McAuley

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 61,894 Words

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: He was built to be invincible.

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S.A. McAuley, Totally Bound

Is Merq Grayson A Liar? S.A. McAuley Will Let You In On A Little Secret, And She’s Also Giving Away A Book



You would think we know just about everything there is to know about Merq Grayson since he’s the one telling us his story. But, I’m going to let you into one of the harsh truths of The Borders War series. As it turns out, Merq…lies.

He is the most unreliable narrator I’ve worked with so far.

That’s not to say Merq is the type of narrator who is actively trying to deceive his audience. Not consciously at least. His fallibility comes from the skewed perspective of a violent and solitary upbringing. His hesitancy towards anything personal is the product of unrealistic expectations that have been laid on him since before birth, yet he’s determined to meet.

The secrets surrounding Merq are fascinating, and a puzzle to be unraveled as the series unfolds. But the core of who Merq is as a person is just as intriguing. Maybe more, for me.

I’ve read a couple thought-provoking discussions on Merq’s “voice” and whether or not it matches the man that physically dominates the pages of these stories. That Merq’s narrative voice doesn’t match who he appears to be at first glance—or who he should be based on his history and his job—is one of the most interesting aspects of his characterization.

His inner dialogue, his curiosity of world history, and his philosophical bent—the words that show a depth of reflection that his actions don’t—those are hints to who Merq really is, and more importantly, who he wants to be. Because what kind of fun would it be if Merq was solely an unthinking soldier? What would be the point of us listening to anything he has to say?

And the one question that raises so many other considerations: would Armise Darcan be willing to forfeit so much for a man who was ordinary outside of his prowess on the battlefield?

You get hints of the real Merq in One Breath, One Bullet. We discover more of who he is at his core in Dominant Predator. As he awakens to the world inside him (and not just around him) in Powerless, you’ll begin to see who Merq is, not just who he appears to be.

As with any author/character relationship, there is some of me that bleeds through to Merq. That’s inevitable. But more often than not, what Merq says and does surprises me. He has a distinct voice in my head. He doesn’t tolerate shit. He has a low patience threshold even though that trait should have been drummed out of him. He misses a lot of what happens around him because he’s blind to the emotional nuances flowing around him.

My Inspiration For Young Merq

Merq is still like a child emotionally. And for good reason. He never had parents that showered him with affection, or any affection at all. He was ripped away from his only stable home when he was five and began training to be a soldier. He was raised to view his interactions with other people with suspicion—to seek out hidden motivations and to be so detached that he has the ability to kill anyone at anytime. Even his own life is not given as much value (by himself or his superiors) as the mission.

His “romantic” relationships during his teenage years were based mostly on a mutual need for physical release. And now the one man he can’t get out of his head is Armise Darcan—the only person on the planet who is Merq’s equal and, by all rights, should be Merq’s enemy.

It’s no wonder Merq has major trust issues.

Trust. Yeah, right. I can hear Merq scoffing in my head. It’s a word Merq throws around a lot yet has no concept of what it really means. Or rather, he hasn’t so far.

The Merq Grayson that emerges from the pages of Powerless is…grown. By the time Powerless ends, it has been almost two years since Merq restarted the Borders War with his Winchester and that bullet. It’s been more than fifteen years since Armise kissed Merq for the first time.

Merq has witnessed much more death than he has life. He has experienced much more frustration than hope. And yet, he wants to live and he wants to hope.

He is a liar, but that doesn’t mean he’s dishonest. We just may have to endure more deception before Merq is ready to admit what his ultimate truth really is.

The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

BLURB: One Breath, One Bullet

Face to face, and rifle to rifle. The time and location change, but never the circumstance. Merq Grayson and Armise Darcan are enemies. And neither will be considered successful until the other is dead.

It is the year 2558. A mere decade has passed since the signing of the treaty which ended the three hundred year long Borders War. In the midst of an uneasy peace, the world gathers for the first Olympic games since the war began.

The Rifle competition showcases the very soldiers who fought in the war, pitting former enemies against one another again. Continental States Peacemaker Merq Grayson will once again battle the Dark Ops officer from the People’s Republic of Singapore, Armise Darcan, this time under the flag of their own uneasy truce. The relationship between Merq and Armise is one of violence, secrecy, and a growing intimacy that could have them both branded as traitors.

But there is more at stake than pride or medals in these games. And neither Merq nor Armise may be able to make it out alive before the fires of revolution are set ablaze again.

Dominant Predator

A relationship is the least of Merq and Armise’s concerns…

With one bullet Merq Grayson set the wealthiest citizens of the world on a collision course with the poorest-with those fighting for their freedom. As the Borders War reignites, the Revolution faces heavy losses. They scramble to maintain their advantage, to strike at the Opposition and crumble their power structure before they are able to rally.

But Merq is in the midst of an internal battle that shakes him to the core. For the first time in his life Merq will have to reconcile the inherent tragedy of war and decide just how much vengeance can be justified by spilt blood. How much can he trust the men and women around him? The President, Neveed, his former soldiers, his parents…and Armise.

Merq and Armise find themselves off grid and on the hunt for Committee members. Merq is just as unsettled with Armise at his side as he was with Armise as an enemy, but they will have to learn how to fight together-or they may just die together.

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Heidi Belleau, Lisa Henry, Reviewed by Lynn, Riptide Publishing

It’s A Dark And Brutal Future In Lisa Henry And Heidi Belleau’s “King of Dublin” – Reviewed by Lynn


“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” ― George Orwell, 1984


Title: King of Dublin

Author: Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 382 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Twenty years after a deadly pandemic ravaged the world, Darragh Fergus Anluan and the people of his village have carved out a hard but simple life in the Irish countryside. But with winter comes sickness, and Darragh must travel to Dublin in search of medicine. What he finds there is a ruined city ruled by a madman, where scavenging is punishable by death . . . or conscription.
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S.A. McAuley, Self-Published

Sam A. McAuley Serves Up Zombies And Doom In “Suffocation (Breathers #1)”


“Only the really insane feel no fear.” – Sam A. McAuley



Title: Suffocation (Breathers #1)

Author: Sam A. McAuley

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 260

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Survival isn’t always the best option…

Five years after the electromagnetic pulse that fried every piece of electronic equipment in the United States, Detroit hasn’t changed all that much. Until today. Blaine and his boss Pike have kept their own district running smoothly. But as a warring faction moves in, and bodies start showing up mutilated beyond recognition, it becomes clear that much more frightening things are on their way.
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A.F. Henley, Less Than Three Press

Blood And Love And Adventure Are “Thicker Than Water”



“Every dystopia is masked by a utopia.” ― Rose Lovejoy



I have never read anything from this author, but was really interested in reading this story after reading the blurb. Vampires are not friendly in this book, they don’t sparkle, they don’t want to be your friend, they want you for their next meal. They are nasty, evil creatures who must be destroyed.

This is a short story, set in the future. The year 2219. Ladomer and Zor are two very different people who came together under dire circumstances. Ladomer, blamed by his family for the death of his brother is cast out and left on his own. Zor, a vampire hunter who saves Ladomer’s village is pursued by Ladomer to join him on his hunts. Together they set out to destroy vampires and try to save the human race.
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All Romance Ebooks, Santino Hassell, Self-Published

“After Midnight” Is A Dangerously Good Time



“Hope, which whispered from Pandora’s box after all the other plagues and sorrows had escaped, is the best and last of all things. Without it, there is only time.” – Ian Caldwell



Ah, the fictional antihero. He isn’t the strongest or the handsomest or the smartest man, but there is something about him that makes the reader love him for (or in spite of?) all his faults. We root for him, question his judgment, cringe at his mistakes, feel his pain. We want him to find the silver lining around the cloud of his existence and when it happens, we cheer for him because maybe he deserves it just a little bit more simply because he’s suffered just a little bit more. Gordon Frost is the newly minted antihero in Santino Hassell’s pulp-fictionesque post-World War III novel After Midnight, and I love him.

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S.A. McAuley, Total-E-Bound Publishing

Who Will Be The “Dominant Predator” In The Borders War?



“I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image.” ― Stephen Hawking



Welcome to the Revolution.

The fight for dominance in a game of political warfare now comes down not to who is right but to who will be left when the battle is done. It is a question of survival of the fittest in which the dominant predators have been genetically modified to serve as the weapons of destruction. One thing is certain: the fact that they currently fight for the same side weighs heavily against the Opposition’s favor.

Merq Grayson has become the face of the Revolution, though that hadn’t been the original plan when he was chosen for this mission. With one bullet, he assassinated the Premiere of the Opposition. He was meant to be made sacrifice for the greater good, but his enemy-turned-lover, Armise Darcan, was not about to allow for that outcome, turning traitor to his own country in loyalty to the one person he will follow and protect to the end of his days.

For a man who does not trust easily or often, when trusting in someone can mean the difference between betrayal and death, Merq’s faith in Armise is a gift that’s been earned. Whether that will last, however, is anyone’s guess. If it comes down to Dominant Predator vs. Dominant Predator, there will be no winner. The loss would be devastating on a soul-deep level for both men, so it remains to be seen if a father’s prophecy will come true, or if the son and his brother-in-arms, lover, partner will only become stronger as they fight shoulder to shoulder, back to back, one for the cause, the other for the man he loves. They are bound together; let nothing tear them asunder.

The twenty-sixth century is a barren and desolate place, a dystopian landscape where anything that resembles hope has been quashed by political oppression. It is a place where the fight is the way of life, where life itself is expendable if it serves a madman’s bid for power, where that madman is now the target of Merq and Armise’s deadly skills. S.A. McAuley has turned in a brilliant sequel to the stellar One Breath, One Bullet, and my only regret in reading Dominant Predator now is knowing I have to wait for the next book in the series.

If you’re looking for the antidote to the formula romance, this series is it because it’s not romance in even the loosest definition of the word. The Borders War series is raw, it’s erotic, it’s edgy, it’s in-your-face, it’s bloody. This is war and war’s not pretty, but in this case, it is irresistible. The author doesn’t mince words nor over-tell, providing exactly the detail necessary to keep the pacing of the plot somewhere in the edge-of-your-seat range.

Obviously this series won’t be for everyone, but if you love strong male characters who deal in death and prefer bullets and blades to hearts and flowers, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Dominant Predator (The Borders War #2) here:

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Jacob Z. Flores, Videos, Wilde City Press

Jacob Z. Flores And His Mega-Watt Smile Are Here Today To Lead Us To Love In The Most Desolate Of Places – Welcome, Jacob!

I’m so excited to be here at The Novel Approach. This is my third visit, and each time gets better than the last. Lisa and I always have a great time doing what we do best. Chatting and knocking back drinks. You know, for such a tiny woman, she could drink a man twice her size under the table. She puts me to shame. And it was great to meet Tina, the newest addition here at TNA, and it was also extra special to hang out here with my hubby, Bruce, who Lisa snagged for her blog as well. Such great people here, and the drinks are top-notch! Who could ask for more?

Now why am I here today? Well, this week is Wilde City Press week at The Novel Approach, and my latest release Moral Authority just happens to be from Geoff and Ethan at Wilde City. This means I get to be included. I so love being included! When I’m not, it’s kinda like being invited to a three way and being expected to watch. That’s just no fun at all.

For those of you who don’t know, Moral Authority is a dystopian novel. It is set in America of 2050, where a fourth branch of American government has been established. This branch of government is charged with providing a moral code of conduct for all citizens, for establishing moral laws for the country, and for upholding those laws. The name of that government is the Moral Authority. Samuel Pleasant is the man in charge of the Moral Authority. He is a megalomaniac who will do anything to protect moral law as well as the power he wields. No matter what the cost.

Obviously, like most dystopian novels, the America in my book is meant to be frightening. It is a lesson of what shouldn’t be done because morality is not something that can be prescribed for all by a select few. When that happens, the freedoms we currently have can be stripped away in the blink of an eye.

But there’s more to Moral Authority than just the dystopian slant and the brewing civil war. There is also love, and it happens in the most desolate of places.

Mark Bryan, one of the three main characters of the book, is a young man, who offers us a glimpse of true humanity and the one character who truly loves with all his heart. Sure, he’s angry, and sometimes he’s brash. But at the heart of those characteristics, there is love.

And Mark loves even when loving would seem impossible. When most of us would give in to the horror with anger and hate, Mark reaches deep inside and finds the best in himself to help those around him, and he truly makes a difference in the lives of the people he comes across. He offers them friendship, when they are lost and alone. When they are faced with impending death or torture, he gives them hope. And in one of the most horrific settings in the novel, Mark manages to find true love, and their budding relationship saves that man’s life.

Mark puts others above himself because that is what love is about. When Mark is juxtaposed with the Moral Authority and their selfish and terrible deeds, it is easy to see that the true moral authority rests within each individual and not with a group of elected officials or a majority voting block of the country.

It is the individual that makes the difference.

Blurb:

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are prescribed ideals in America of 2050. The Moral Authority, the nation’s newest branch of government, has virtually eliminated crime, poverty, and most social ills, but it also rules the land with a tyrannical fist, championing ignorance and brandishing fear.

Mark Bryan is a gay man whose existence brands him an outlaw; Isaac Montoya is a charming stranger, who entices Mark to defy moral law; and Samuel Pleasant runs the Moral Authority and plans to punish moral offenders and a rebellious uprising—no matter the cost.
Will liberty and justice return for all?

Excerpt:

On deck, Mark looked around at Provincetown harbor. Boat slips surrounded the area, but there were no boats. At one time, Provincetown was home to many boats, both commercial and private. Now, the only boat was the one he currently stood on. No doubt all other water transportation was forbidden since Provincetown had been turned into a detainment camp. Forced by K3s, citizens and businesses relocated off the cape.

The line of men in orange jumpsuits extended all the way down the pier, toward a New England-styled building with white trim and a gray roof. No doubt the building was once a visitor’s center or some official site for Provincetown tourism. Now, it was where the processing of prisoners occurred. It even had K3 guards standing sentinel along the white ramps, their weapons drawn and their muscles tense, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to shoot someone.

He focused his attention instead on the cool sea breeze that continued to swirl around him, whispering to him that he wasn’t alone. Mark then stepped off the metal plank used for disembarkation and onto the wooden slats of the pier. As he walked forward, Mark imagined what Provincetown might have been like a generation or two ago.

Mark pictured the excitement his gay brothers in the past must have experienced upon exiting the ferries that used to shuttle them back and forth from Boston. When their feet touched these same wooden slats he now walked across in chains, they were no doubt liberated from their daily selves. He imagined their excitement, as opposed to his dread, about their arrival. Instead of being detained like Mark, they had arrived at a destination where they were the most free, where they could be who they truly were and express that without hesitation or fear of reprisal.

He clearly saw them in the past, walking hand-in-hand as they hurried to join the rest of their kin at the local bars or shops. Each person they encountered was a potential new lover or friend. In the past, there were no limits here, no boundaries like the rows of chain link and barbed wire fences that extended for as far as the eye could see along the beach in both directions. Provincetown was whatever they wanted it to be. It could be filled with dancing and debauchery, shopping and sightseeing, or relaxing and lounging, or it could be all those things.

In fact, if he listened hard enough, he still heard the thumping bass beat of a long ago silenced speaker churning out the dance music to which the boys used to love to dance. The music drifted on the air currents, refusing to die and challenging the present to ever erase that part of this town’s past. The vibe was in the air. It was the essence of what Provincetown was and what it promised to be again. This was no doubt what he sensed while climbing out of the boat hold. It was the spirit of Provincetown and the ghosts of his gay brothers from the past. They were here, they told him. They wouldn’t be chased away.

The line stopped, and a gunshot exploded from down the pier, drowning out the ghostly drumbeat. Up ahead, a body fell to the pier. Blood pooled around the man’s head and stained the wood on the pier a reddish brown.

Another shot went off, and another body fell.

Mark tried to avert his eyes, but he couldn’t. The image was much too surreal to be real. He stared because his mind told him he was hallucinating.

Another shot pealed and another body fell. Then three shots with three more bodies falling onto the pier. When Mark heard another shot, he turned away. It was too much. He closed his eyes as another shot echoed through the sky, followed by another. He tried to listen for the bass beat again, to reconnect with the past, but it was impossible. All he heard were gunshots and the awful thump of bodies falling onto the wooden slats.

You can buy Moral Authority here:

http://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-mainstream/moral-authority/#.UZe6WpUmzzI

Become a part of Jacob Z. Flores’ social media, by visiting any of the following:

Website/blog: http://jacobzflores.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jacob.flores2,
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/JacobZFlores,
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142501.Jacob_Z_Flores

And now, ladies and gentlemen, behold! The man himself, Jacob Z. Flores!

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Jacob Z. Flores, Wilde City Press

Jacob Z. Flores’ Moral Authority Is Light And Love In A Desolate Place

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. – Mahatma Gandhi

I am the new kid on the block here, and in preparation for Wilde City Press Week, I was asked to review Moral Authority by Jacob Z Flores. Now, I will be honest and tell you that I normally don’t enjoy futuristic novels unless they are on the paranormal side of things. Well I am going to have to admit Jacob’s Moral Authority may have changed my mind forever.

Basically, this is a story of what happens when a government takes over the most basic choices from its citizens. As the story unfolds, we learn that the new 4th branch of the government, The Moral Authority, has taken over the responsibility of everyone’s moral compass. Not only is no one allowed to curse, but many other restrictions have been placed on all Americans. No longer can you ignore your fellow Americans, if someone greets you on the street, you better return the greetings with a smile, or you will be arrested. Do you love your cheeseburgers, not anymore you don’t. Each citizen has a caloric intake card and you are only allowed a certain amount per day. No more running late, because if you are found running down the sidewalk, disturbing other citizens, you could be arrested. Oh, and just for chuckles, don’t forget homosexuality is illegal also. If there is even a hint of a man looking at another man too long, there could be a ticket issued. Oh and the absolute scariest part of this novel? The former president that enacted the constitutional amendments that brought about the Moral Authority, yeah that would be former President Sarah Palin!!! Makes you shudder, huh?

In the beginning of the story our main character Mark Bryan is rushing for Starbucks to get his frappuccino that he has saved his allotted calories for. While in Starbucks he finds himself in an unusual predicament. Not one, but two gorgeous men are cruising him. This is a very dangerous situation for Mark. Luckily for him, one of the men saves him when two undercover Moral Authority officers catch the other man flirting a bit too obviously. This leads to a very candid conversation with the man who helped him. Mark finds himself intrigued by man #2, Isaac Montoya. Realizing after a close call he shouldn’t tempt fate, Mark ends the encounter right there but realizes Isaac has left his phone number. After some soul-searching, Mark decides to give Isaac a chance and he goes out on his first date, which leads to Isaac’s apartment and, well, you can guess what happens from there. Unfortunately, Mark should have trusted his sixth sense. It turns out he has been turned in for being homosexual, which leads to his being arrested, tried and convicted for homosexuality.

We then get to meet the patriots, the freedom fighters, the HRC (Human Rights Campaign).These are modern day rebels, people that do not agree with the Moral Authority. While learning about the HRC, I compared them to the kids in Red Dawn (Patrick Swayze version, duh). The difference is these guys have much more sophisticated weapons and equipment. Most of the members of HRC remind me of our liberals of today. As the story progresses, we realize that the HRC reaches much further than anyone expects.

Now, for the truly scary part of the book, The Moral Authority itself: The leader of the Moral Authority is Samuel Pleasant. But let me tell you this he is anything but pleasant. The scary part about Samuel is he truly believes in the Moral Laws. He is convinced that what he is doing is best for everyone. For him, the new additions to the constitution were the best things to happen to America in a long time. His nemesis, the HRC, has been striking with more accuracy and drawing attention to themselves. So, to draw them out and try to make them lose face, he decides to build “containment centers”. This is just a fancy term for concentration camps. All I am going to say is, anything you think Hitler may have done, Samuel Pleasant took it up a notch. To combat the HRC he has created his version of military police. They are called the K3s, yeah, you got that KKK. They even wear solid white fatigues, so, yeah, I told you this guy was scary.

So, we experience Mark’s arrival to Provincetown Detention Center and we get to witness Mark’s strength. Maybe not his physical strength, but his strength of character. Mark witnesses firsthand how bad it can get if you get out of hand. Yet when the K3s tell him and another man to dispose of some bodies on the beach, Mark refuses to leave without praying over the bodies, consequences be damned. Unknowingly, Mark earns the respect of one of his fellow inmates. We are then taken thru weeks of torture, both physical and mental, with Mark and his fellow inmates. He and a few of the men form a special bond, but a very traumatic event brings him closer than ever before to one man. In a virtual Hell, Mark finds love, and he finds some stolen moments of solace in the arms of a wonderful man.

As tensions heat up between the Moral Authority and the HRC the nation starts to divide and civil war seems unavoidable. There were some major betrayals that I never saw coming, but there were allies revealed that shocked me even more. I don’t want to give any spoilers, because I think it was enjoyable being blindsided by Jacob Flores’ twists and turns as they come.

This book will make you think, it will make you question your own morals, and if you are anything like me, it might just scare you to death. Just imagine yourself living in a country where uttering a curse word or two could land you in jail, where being friends with a gay man could land you in jail as a sympathizer, and where speaking your mind could literally get you shot.

One thing I did take away from this book was a quote from a surprising source, a high ranking officer in the K3s said this and it just struck me as a divine truth: The term is subjective to the whim of whatever individual espouses it. Morality means different things to different people. You just have to follow in step with what the majority thinks is moral, and you will do fine. I will leave you with these parting words and I will urge you to read this book. I went into this without being sure if I would make it thru the book, and now I am glad that I didn’t miss it.

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy Moral Authority here:

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