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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A.V. Sanders, Giveaways

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas Blog Tour with A.V. Sanders

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Please join us in welcoming author A.V. Sanders to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for her new holiday novelette Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas. Enjoy A.V.’s guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widgets for the chance to win some great prizes (**details below**).

Good luck!

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I’m thrilled to be here for the release of “Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas”! The Novel Approach has been gracious enough to host this first day in the “7 HOT Days of Christmas Blog Tour”, and is the Partridge in a White Fir Tree! 

To help celebrate, I’d like to share an exclusive excerpt from my new holiday novelette. In this scene, we learn about how our two main characters, Graham and Reid, had first met. The ‘drums’ being mentioned are drums with baited hooks floating in the ocean, designed to catch large sharks off Australia’s west coast. Both Graham and Reid were on a boat together, and a covert mission, to unbait the hooks. I hope you all enjoy the excerpt, and have a wonderful holiday!

xo, A.V.

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Excerpt: Meeting someone had been the thing furthest from his mind. But when Reid had first laid eyes on Graham, the quintessential Australian surfer, it had been hard to get them off again. Reid had been coursing with adrenaline while they’d skated across the water towards the first drum and had found himself squeezed onto a seat next to Graham. Even though there were six other people on the boat, Reid’s focus had been on the warmth from Graham’s body pressed against his. He remembered finding the scent of Graham’s aftershave or cologne particularly enticing, and with each swell in the water, Reid had leaned in, breathing the rich, woodsy scent.

They’d struck up a short conversation, centering on the sharks and the circumstances that found them both on that boat and breaking the law. Graham had seemed enchanted by Reid’s American accent, asking what part of the United States he was from, making Reid laugh. To him, growing-up in a suburb of Chicago, there was nothing special about his accent, or lack thereof. He’d told Graham, however, that he could listen to his manipulations of vowels all night long.

It was after that compliment that Reid had felt the first definitive spark of mutual attraction. Graham, a bit shy, had smiled in response. His eyes had cast down, then met Reid’s when he said thank you. During the drum line operation, Reid’s intrigue had grown. While he’d been focused on their mission, he’d made a point of getting Graham’s last name. In the wee hours later that night, Reid had friended him and sent him a message on Facebook. The conversation Reid had started with Graham that night had never stopped.

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WHAC-fTitle: Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas
Author: A.V. Sanders
Page/Word Count: 39 pages/11,500 words
Release Date: December 16, 2015
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Holiday Themed Contemporary Gay M/M Romance
Blurb: Reid, an American shark research scientist, is in Perth, Australia working to develop a mobile app that may revolutionize shark safety practices. But even the company of his boyfriend, Graham, isn’t enough to stave off homesickness as Christmas approaches, and a missing shark and Graham’s struggling business seem set to ruin the holiday for good.

Buy Links: *~Less Than Three Press~* // Amazon // All Romance ebooks // Smashwords // BookStrand.com // Kobo 

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WinterAvi2About the Author: A.V. Sanders loves and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, two cats, and tropical aquarium fish. She is an avid hoarder of Halloween decorations and inconsequential information. When writing science fiction, mystery, horror and romance with LGBTQ main characters, she can be found staying up all hours of the night listening to endless sets of EDM music. She is an advocate of love, art, animals and frivolous acts of beauty. She also has a growing suspicion that not causing harm to one another is what matters in the end.

Connect With A.V. Sanders Online Website // Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr // Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAYS

Giveaway #1: Click on the image below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas (or, if already owned, any LT3 e-title of equal or lesser value)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Grand Prize Giveaway: Click on the image below to enter for the chance to win a Handmade, Genuine Shark Tooth Necklace + FREE ebook of Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas (or, if already owned, any LT3 e-title of equal or lesser value)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Tour Stops and Dates:

12. 16Wednesday – THE NOVEL APPROACHA Partridge in a White Fir Tree: Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaways
12. 17 – Thursday CARLY’S BOOK REVIEWSTwo Sea Turtles: ‘Christmas Memories’ with A.V. and Carly + Giveaways
12. 18 Friday PRISM BOOK ALLIANCEThree French Men: ‘Let’s Talk About: Sharks!’ + Giveaways
12. 19 Saturday BAYOU BOOK JUNKIEFour Sea Birds: ‘On Location: Inspiration for the Story’ + Giveaways
20 Sunday, Double Day! AUTHOR RJ JONES’ WEBSITE + BECAUSE TWO MEN ARE BETTER THAN ONE BOOK REVIEWSFive Engagement Rings: ‘Marriage Equality in Australia’ with A.V. + RJ Jones, Review at BTM, Giveaways at both!
21 Monday ON TOP DOWN UNDER BOOK REVIEWS Six Blokes a-Layin’…Out: Review + Story Playlist + Giveaways
12. 22 Tuesday HEARTS ON FIRE REVIEWS – Seven Sharks a-Swimmin’: Character Interview + Giveaways

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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:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: A Winter in Rome by Francis Gideon

A Winter in Rome

Please join us in welcoming author Francis Gideon today, on the tour for his upcoming release A Winter in Rome, and also be sure to check out the giveaway details below for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Hi everyone! I’m Francis Gideon and I’m here talking about my recent release with Less Than Three Press, A Winter In Rome. This work is part of their Intertwined Collection call, which, if you’re into poly romances at all, you should definitely check it out.

A Winter In Rome also contains a trans character called Sybil, who identifies as genderqueer. She realizes this over the course of the narrative; there are several discussions and her partners, Alan and Craig, work through their very minor issues and everything is squared away. I never wanted Sybil’s genderqueerness to be the “issue” of the text, and what minor quibbles the characters have during the “coming out” discussion are mostly about language. Sybil doesn’t like to be thought of or referred to as a woman, but she doesn’t mind she/her pronouns. She also doesn’t transition medically, and decides to keep her birth name.

I thought about these changes a lot, sometimes to the point where it kept me up at night, because I was very aware that Sybil didn’t fall in line with a typical trans narrative. We’re really used to seeing trans stories about the sudden discovery of a true gender, followed by gender transition. We have shows like I am Cait and Transparent that feed into this standard narrative as well. While these stories do have value–some trans people find it immensely relieving to shed everything that they once disliked and adopt something new that better fits them–it’s not the only transgender story out there. To measure all trans people by a single narrative is completely unfair, because with any kind of life transition, people all process it in different ways.

There are also lots of articles and essays written by very persuasive and savvy people about how the medical transition narrative seeks to fit all trans people into normative bodies that are often judged via European ablest standards of beauty. Transition is really expensive, too, and since most of these characters (save for Alan, an art professor) are working minimum wage jobs, medically overhauling something like this isn’t feasible. Also: Sybil doesn’t want to. So why should she have to medically transition?

I know Sybil is a character and characters don’t have any motivator other than what I tell them to do. So perhaps it’s unfair of me to say these things, when I’m really trying to justify my authorial intent. In that case, I want to tell you about my friend Amy. She insists on keeping her birth name because she likes it, and she doesn’t really care about pronouns, but knows she’s not a woman. She’s not cisgender. She was the model for Sybil’s character–though it’s pretty safe to say I’ve deviated a little bit with other attributes. Like how Sybil really enjoys poetry readings, whereas Amy would never be caught dead in one of those.

So that’s it! Sybil is trans, and while that was fun to write, it was also really stressful because I’m very aware of how little trans representation there is in media in general–let alone LGBT romance. As a publisher, LT3 has been working hard to change this fact, and I’m delighted to see that my story isn’t the only one in the polyamory collection Intertwined involving a trans MC! Sometimes diversity seems like an uphill battle, but the joy I have from checking LT3’s coming soon page each time they update, and seeing more and more trans stories appear, will never get old.

Dividersawinterinrome400Blurb: Craig is a man adrift, never quite feeling like he belongs or like he’s as successful and settled as those around him—especially his lovers, Alan, an art professor he met while in college, and Sybil, who tutored him throughout his Italian class. When Alan goes to Rome life becomes even shakier and the only grounding point becomes the corkboard of memories Craig creates for the three of them.

By the time Alan returns, Craig isn’t certain how his relationships will change—especially when Alan starts to fall for Sybil, bringing two pieces of his world completely together and leaving Craig worried it will create a world that has no place for him.

Publication Date: November 11, 2015

Pre-order Link: LT3 Press

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Excerpt: Alan pulled back the sheet and gave us a crooked smile. Sybil made some hums of approval, but I was stuck silent. I knew this painting; the canvas was black, stretched out and filled with dotted gold stars. It was the same one Alan had been working on when he and Sybil decided to be together, the same one that, according to Sybil, had been inspired by Sagan’s notion that we’re all star-stuff. The canvas was built up now more than before. The constellations had depth, and so did the black space around them. I felt as if I could fall into the painting and disappear before I was found.

“It’s beautiful,” I said. “What’s it called?”

Ad Astra,” Alan said. “I was going to call it something more dynamic like Alone in the Universe or Seeking Orion. But I liked the simplicity of Latin. It allows some of the meaning to be obscured.”

I nodded, still somewhat speechless. It was so odd to see all the conversations we had had with one another displayed without an origin point. I had been so sure that Sybil was asleep when I had mused about the stars and the phrase ad astra. And Alan—he hadn’t been around when I told Sybil about Carl Sagan. But here he was, in front of me, with his canvas full of impeccable, intimate details. He had created a universe of us. For Sybil especially, it must have felt like a self-portrait.

“I’ve never done space paintings before,” Alan confessed. “I was up online studying nebulas for the past week, and now I’m pretty sure aliens exist. Also, did you know you can make your own galaxy online through a program? Kind of like Microsoft Paint in space. Really cool. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What do you think?”

“I love it,” Sybil said. She stood up from the couch and walked over to Alan with a hug. “Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome, dear.” Alan rubbed his hands up and down her back, and then waved me over too. I wrapped my arms around both of them, eyeing the painting behind us on the easel long after the embrace was over.

“Don’t get too attached, though,” Alan stated. “Because I think Rebecca wants me to sell it. Knowing her, anyway. She hates it when I keep any painting project for myself because I’m not ‘networking’ that way, or something.”

I was about to argue for the painting to stay when a knock echoed through the apartment. I heard Rebecca’s laugh right after the knock and Alan’s demeanour shifted. He pushed his shoulders back and straightened his jacket, before giving Sybil and I a quick kiss.

“Be right there, Becca. Just be patient.”

More laughter from the other side. Alan moved across the apartment, but I wasn’t ready to let him leave.

“Surely you can’t sell it.” I grabbed Alan’s shoulder before he got to the door. “It’s too important.”

“Why not? It would give me an excuse to paint more. To paint both of you again.” When I was still unconvinced, he added, taking my face in his hands. “We have our corkboard, Craig. We can add to that. We have control over that. Paintings are never really the artist’s alone. That’s why I can let it go—because I have to.”

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Author BioAuthor Bio: Francis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante.  He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee. Feel free to contact him, especially if you want to talk about horror movies, LGBT poetry, or NBC’s Hannibal. Find him at francisgideon.wordpress.com.

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THE GIVEAWAY

I’ll giveaway two (2) e-book copies (any format) to those who comment with their email addresses. I’ll use a random number generator and contact the winners via email.

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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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A.V. Sanders, Cover Reveal, Giveaways

Cover Reveal, Artist Interview, and Giveaway: Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas by A.V. Sanders

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Hi, Lisa, Happy Halloween! Thank you for hosting my exclusive “Trick or Treat” cover reveal on TNA, I am so very happy to be here! I hope your readers will find nothing but treats here with the reveal of my shiny new cover, an interview with the very talented cover artist, Natasha Snow, and a giveaway for a FREE ARC e-copy of WET, HOT, AUSTRALIAN CHRISTMAS!

xo, A.V.

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Title: Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas
Author: A.V. Sanders
Page/Word Count: 11,000 words
Release Date: December 16, 2015
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Contemporary Gay M/M Romance

Blurb: Reid, an American shark research scientist, is in Perth, Australia working to develop a mobile app that may revolutionize shark safety practices. But even the company of his boyfriend, Graham, isn’t enough to stave off homesickness as Christmas approaches, and a missing shark and Graham’s struggling business seem set to ruin the holiday for good.

PREORDER Buy Link and Goodreads Add Link:

// Less Than Three Press // Goodreads //

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Judging Books by Their Covers… an interview with Natasha Snow, by A.V. Sanders

AV: Sitting down with Ms. Snow just a few days before Halloween is definitely a ‘TREAT’! Thank you so much for joining me on The Novel Approach. So, speaking about your beautiful covers, how did you first come to start working with Less Than Three Press (LT3)?

NS: Well, it’s been over a year now since I’ve been with LT3 Press, and honestly, I’ve loved every second. I couldn’t ask for a better publisher to work with. They are professional, but personable, and I hope I get to work with them for years and years. :)

So, awhile back I was looking to work with a publisher, and I really liked LT3 covers. I decided to email Megan Derr [LT3 CEO] and asked her to look at my portfolio. It’s been all up hill since!

AV: Some of the aspects of your covers I love most is the way you use depth, color, and light. Can you tell me a little bit about your process when using these design elements in your work?

NS: Oh, boy. I could nerd out on focal points and composition and all that other crap I learned in school, but I’ll basically say, most of what I’ve learned about what looks good comes from practice. A lot. When I first began designing covers, I didn’t know nearly as much as I know today. It took a lot of playing around with elements, shapes, colors, lighting, and depth to really figure out what looked good to me.

My best advice for anyone looking for a cover design or designing their own cover, is to pick one focal point. A scream is most startling when it’s heard in silence, not when there’s a room of people shouting at the top of their lungs. Viewers are smart. Readers are smart. They’ll appreciate “afterthought” elements on the cover.

AV: I’ve always admired how LT3 covers tend to be more representational of the love stories inside them, not follow a typical “romance book cover” formula. How do you go about selecting the ideas and images that are going to be representing these stories?

NS: Yes! I agree! When I initially approached LT3 about working with them, one thing I admired most was how they usually don’t use models on their covers.

When I receive a cover request from Meg, she gives me the blurb, what the author asked for (if anything) and then she’s very helpful about giving me her input on what she thinks might look good on the cover. I tend to follow that direction. I find this process works really well for me, because the author and editor will know the story better than me.

But to answer your question a bit more! I like the idea of taking elements from the story, not just characters. Nine times out of ten, if the reader knows the author is writing an M/M romance, they’ll know two guys are involved. I don’t feel like the cover always needs to represent that.

AV: I know that you’re a fan and supporter of the LGBTQ literary community, even a dedicated book reviewer! What are some of the things you particularly like about reading and working with queer lit?

NS: Ah, you must’ve seen my Goodreads profile! :) I’m not sure my fellow unicorns would label me ‘dedicated’ as a reviewer though. Lol. :) I’m really terrible and have almost no time to read and review anymore. :(

One thing I love about working on queer book covers is that I get to work with some authors I’m a huge fan of, or others I haven’t heard of until I design their cover, read their blurb, and realize I’d love to read their story!

I also think it helps to be passionate about what you’re designing. I’ve designed book covers in almost every genre and honestly, I love the variety. But my bread and butter is queer romance. It’s a comfortable place for me because I know the genre from the opposite end of the scale. I want the cover I design not only to reflect the story, but to sell books. On the other side, because I’m also a consumer, I know what I look for when purchasing books. I find it helps!

AV: You have a wonderful talent and eye for digital design. What are some of your favorite places or things to look at and appreciate in the real world?

NS: Thank you! :)

I’m not a nature buff, and honestly, I don’t even like being outside. I live in Canada. It’s cold all of the time, and usually, spring is just watching dead things look slightly less dead.

I find inspiration in books, usually. Or music. I like looking online at other book covers and wondering how I could do something like what that designer has done. I also play a lot of video games, so that probably helps the creative juices flow.

AV: You have a day-job as a graphic designer—would you like to be a full-time cover designer in the future, or does it stay fun as work on the side?

NS: I do! And I would! It’s my dream to one day be a full-time book cover designer. I think I’m on my way. It’s odd to think that it was a little under a year and a half ago I designed my first book cover. I’m so happy and thankful to have found my niche!

I currently work with a few publishers, and couldn’t be happier with the direction I’m moving. Working with wonderful publishers and with all the amazing self-published authors is like a dream come true.

AV: What a great interview! Thanks again, Natasha. I hope we get to see more and more of your work in our literary community. <3

Now, while I haven’t met a Natasha Snow cover I haven’t liked, here are some of my favorites she’s designed for Less Than Three Press. Give them a click to read the full blurbs—these books represent talented LGBTQ authors in a variety of exciting genres!

lovelydarkanddeep400“LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP” edited by Michael Jay Anthology of wolves, fairies, ghosts, monsters, lost campers, witches… Fiction is rife with tales of what happens to travelers who ignore warnings and venture deep into dark and mysterious woods… and occasionally about what comes out of them. Identity: Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans

 

Buy the Book HERE 

awinterinrome400“A WINTER IN ROME” by Francis Gideon Craig never feels like he’s as successful and settled as those around him—especially his lovers, Alan, an art professor he met while in college, and Sybil, who tutored him throughout his Italian class. When Alan goes to Rome the only grounding point becomes the corkboard of memories Craig creates for the three of them. By the time Alan returns, and has started to fall for Sybil, Craig is worried that there may be no place left for him. Identity: Poly, Bi, Gay, Genderqueer

Buy the Book HERE

theemptyrooftop400“THE EMPTY ROOFTOP” by Lily MacPherson Anya Jameson, FBI agent turned consultant, is working a series of brutal murders in Cayce, North Carolina. The only thing linking the victims is that they all came from some of society’s most vulnerable groups of people, and all were in search of new beginnings. On a crowded New York street Anya stumbles into up and coming race car driver, Tommi, who unexpectedly coaxes Anya out of years of solitude. But love and murder are not a good combination, and the investigation—or the killer—may tear the new lovers apart. Identity: Lesbian, Bi

Buy the Book HERE

notchinyourbelt400“NOTCH IN YOUR BELT” by Kayla Bain-Vrba Wyatt’s first album launched him into country music stardom, but now he has to record his second album, and all efforts are coming up blank. His manager sends him inspiration: Bryce, who played keys on Wyatt’s tour, and is the man Wyatt’s secretly in love with. Bryce has been in love with Wyatt too, but everyone knows he’s a notorious player. Then Wyatt unexpectedly admits his feelings, and Bryce thinks maybe he’s been wrong this whole time. But when he wakes up the next morning, Wyatt is gone… Identity: Gay

Buy the Book HERE

theforbiddenzone400“THE FORBIDDEN ZONE” by Victoria Zagar When Julian accepts an invitation to study the dying planet of Valeria, all he sees is another assignment. Valeria’s ban on romantic and sexual unions seemed trivial, even the supervision by the Sisters, an advanced A.I., was a negligible point. When the situation proves to be more difficult than anticipated, Julian finds a lifeline in Saidan, a warm, emotional individual in a world of passive expression and uniformity. Working together, they discover the Sisters had a much more sinister reason for inviting Julian there… Identity: Gay

Buy the Book HERE

thepeachandthepoppy400“THE PEACH AND THE POPPY” by Caesar J.M. Kauftheil After a breakup Poppy goes on a trip to Paris. She encounters a beautiful stranger, but it proves to be the only good part of her day. She tries to appreciate Paris, but Poppy can’t help but feel something is lacking. When her best friend suggests she needs a fling to clear away her ex for good, Poppy approaches the beautiful stranger to be her tour guide. The trip draws to an end, and Poppy realizes that in seeking a cure for heartache, she may  have just made the problem worse… Identity: Lesbian

Buy the Book HERE

witchesandwolves400“WITCHES AND WOLVES” by Kelly D. Smith A quiet life in the woods suits Tory. She can focus on her witchcraft without the noise of the city, and her only visitor is her ex-boyfriend. One night, Tory opens the door to a wolf who curls up into her bed. Tory lets the wolf sleep, and has no complaints when the morning reveals her to be a beautiful woman. New to being a wolf, and still learning control, Gee eagerly accepts when Tory offers to help. But not everyone approves of werewolves, and Gee isn’t the only new visitor to the woods… Identity: Lesbian, Bi

Buy the Book HERE

You can connect with Natasha Snow around the web and on her website at natashasnow.com

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AVSandersAvi3About the Author: A.V. Sanders loves and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, two cats, and tropical aquarium fish. She is an avid hoarder of Halloween decorations and inconsequential information. When writing science fiction, mystery, and horror with LGBTQ main characters, she can be found staying up all hours of the night listening to endless sets of EDM music. She is an advocate of love, art, animals and frivolous acts of beauty. She also has a growing suspicion that not causing harm to one another is what matters in the end.

Connect with A.V. Sanders:

// Website // Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr // Goodreads Author //

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THE GIVEAWAY

TNARafflecopterToT1

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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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A.F. Henley, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Wolf, WY Blog Tour with AF Henley

Wolf, WY BT Header

Join us in welcoming author AF Henley back to The Novel Approach today, on the Wolf, WY blog tour. Enjoy Henley’s guest post and the tiny teaser from the book, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win some great prizes (details to follow).

Good luck!

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If I told you that I wasn’t terrified about this release, I’d be lying. The Wolf series is the first time in my life that I’ve committed to writing a series for publication and (just between you and me) it’s hard. Like, really hard. There’s the setting in place the foreshadowing for upcoming events, the remembering to include bits and pieces of previous novels in the next ones… the recalling of your own character’s names. It’s okay, though. I’ve made a list. I’m even doing character summaries these days. Considering I’ve always been an ‘I’ll-see-where-the-story-takes-me’ kind of writer, setting up a story that keeps on keeping on for three or four novels down the road is new territory for me. Especially when there still has to be a conclusive story within each of the novels themselves. (It’s two, two, two mints in one! for those of us old enough to catch that reference.)

The fun part, however, comes in creating a world that continues – in not having to leave the characters behind when one writes ‘The End.’ There’s a whole lot of pride that can be garnered from creating your own world. These guys and this community really do feel like my own children. (God complex much?)

I can’t wait to share them with you and that’s exactly what I’m hoping to do with this blog tour. Using ‘tiny teasers’ directly from the novel, I’d like to take you on a journey through their environment and introduce you to the place and the people that live between Wolf, WY’s beautiful cover… and what better place to start than with Wolf, WY itself? So here’s a little sample of Wolf, WY as seen through the eyes of Randy Connor (Wolf, WY’s MC) during a moment of introspection:

Don’t forget to read through to the end for details on the giveaway!

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Tiny Teaser: Introducing – Wolf, WY

Randy leaned against the pillar on his front porch, his eyelids at half-mast, and his entire body at peace. There was something so very relaxing about watching snow clouds in a night sky. During quiet stretches, black and purple masses hung so low in the atmosphere that they created the illusion of a horizon of mountain peaks. Then, as though rousing themselves, the clouds would shift and roll across the sky, coming together to fold themselves around the moon. With a change so sudden that it was startling, the surroundings would fall into the icy grip of darkness. The imprisoned moon would then respond, piercing through the stronghold, dauntless in the battle for superiority. Brilliantly backlit by moonbeams, the clouds would tremble, huddle, and sidestep. En garde the clouds and moon advanced and parried, trading control.

In Wolf, however, Randy found that he could only remain transfixed in early December’s night for so long. Nature had her ways of reminding him that he was a warm blooded animal without benefit of fur or down. The cold air forced breath into steam engine plumes, turning every inhale and exhale into high-pressured cannons of smoke. With each breath he drew, his lungs became more chilled, until it felt as though frost was forming on his body from the inside out. At the same time, the air was crisp, clear, and energizing, like a shot of pure, natural ephedrine.

It wasn’t only the cold that kept Randy close to the house, though. The howling carried a deeper chill than winter air ever could. From a distance, the sound was, if not beautiful, at least melancholy. Up close, however, the sound could make the bravest man skittish, and Randy would be the first to admit that he didn’t rank high on the he-who-is-the-bravest list.

Randy pulled his hands into his sleeves, and scanned the property with a lazy, unfocused gaze. Everything seemed so bare—the Big-Toothed Maple, the Black Ash, and the American Dwarf Birch—all skeletal and leafless…

Wolf, WY Excerpt

© AF Henley, 2015

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Wolf, WY CoverBlurb: Wolf, WY

There’s nothing like a fresh start, and for Randy, still nursing wounds left by a cheating ex and harboring a deep mistrust for all things corporate, Wolf, Wyoming seems like the perfect place to start over. Secluded, quiet, and self-sufficient, Wolf is bound to not only inspire, but to bring Randy the peace he needs. The view’s not bad, either.

Vaughn O’Connell and his family are Randy’s only neighbors for miles, and while Randy knows it’s somewhat unlikely that a man with three kids is gay, it doesn’t hurt to look. When a misunderstanding brings Randy face to face with both Vaughn and his eighteen year old son, Lyle, Randy’s not sure what to feel about either of them.

But things are not what they appear in Wolf, and the closer Randy gets, the stranger the O’Connell family seems…

Word Count: 70,000

Genre: Gay, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Notes: Wolf, WY contains some explicit content

Book 1 in the Wolf series

Purchasing Link: Less Than Three Press

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The Giveaway

On behalf of the tour, please join the giveaway by taking part in the Rafflecopter below. The prize consists of a ‘Wind & Fire’ paw print charm bangle (a portion of the sales from this “Charms For Charity Bangle” goes directly to Guiding Eyes For The Blind), a $20 Gift Certificate to the Less Than Three Press book market (free books!), and a signed, print copy of Wolf, WY. For all the tiny-whiny terms and conditions, please check out the t’s and c’s posted on the Rafflecopter.

** Please note that this giveaway is being offered tour-wide and there will be one winner awarded for the entire event.

Wolf, WY BT Giveaway

ENTER RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY HERE:

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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My thanks to Novel Approach Reviews for having me today… I could never do these blog tours without sites like this and my gratitude goes beyond the mere, “thank you” that I have to offer. And a huge thanks to you, my friends, for reading and joining me. Best of luck with the giveaway and I hope you enjoyed the post!

Until next time,

AF Henley <3

DividersAF Henley_Avatar croppedAbout the Author: Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.

Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since—an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.

For more information please stop by for a visit at afhenley.com.

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Giveaways, Lexi Ander

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Dragon’s Eye Blog Tour with Lexi Ander

Dragon's Eye Banner

Please join us in welcoming author Lexi Ander to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for the latest installment in the Sumeria’s Sons series, Dragon’s Eye. Enjoy Lexi’s guest post and the excerpt she’s selected to share, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win some great prizes. Details are below.

Good luck!

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What did you say? Utnap-blah—who? I can’t even guess how to say that.

Utnapishtim is the Sumerian equivalent to Noah. You say his name like [oo t-nuhpish-tim]

When I started Sumeria’s Son, the platform I built the series on was the Epic of Gilgamesh. I built the origins and motivations from the ancient story. I know, like that was a shock. ^_^ Utnapishtim was one of the few humans who was offered immortality and a place in Dilmun.

To give you a bit of background Utnapishtim, here’s the down and dirty on the Sumerian deluge myth. King Enlil is fed up with all the noise of humanity and decided to get rid of them. If you have already read the blog post on Abzu and the Igigi War, I’m sure you recognize the common theme between the two stories.

Anyway, he sends out plagues, and famine, and drought which destroyed the world three times and yet the human race persevered. Little did Enlil know (until it was too late) that the humans had help from Enki. The humans procreated quickly and soon they were just as noisy as they were before. In a fit of frustration, Enlil calls a meeting of the gods and makes them vow not to help the humans. To get around that decree, Enki didn’t speak to Utnapishtim directly but spoke into a bed of reeds. What an old trick to tell someone without actually telling them. What do you mean? Utnapishtim over heard me musing aloud?

Utnapishtim followed the instructions and built a boat, loading his family, the village craftsmen, baby animals, and grains. The storm that Enlil caused was so awesome in power that the gods fled to Dilmun. The description of how Utnapishtim tested the lowering of the waters was very similar to that of Noah’s with the releasing of the dove, the swallow, and the raven. They left the boat and had a great party, making a sacrifice to the gods. When the gods cautiously ventured from Dilmun, they were chagrinned at Utnapishtim undying loyalty and faith in the gods and they granted him and his wife immortality and a place among the gods.

After Enkidu died, Gilgamesh went a little insane in his grief and keenly feeling his mortality he searched for his ancestor, Utnapishtim. Even though Gilgamesh was a demigod and long lived, he could die. Just as the gods Humbaba and Gugalanna had died, and his beloved Enkidu. He entered the gates of the Sun Road guarded by the scorpion men and traveled to Dilmun. Utnapishtim cautioned him to abandon his quest but still told him how to gather the plant from the riverbed. It didn’tdo  Gilgamesh any good because a sneaky snake came by while he rested and ate the plant. (Must’ve been a vegetarian snake.)

If you’re wondering if I brought Utnapishtim in as character, the answer would be no. But the story of Gilgamesh’s search is important. The story of the deluge was just for fun but gives you an idea of how the gods sometimes viewed humanity.

A huge thank you for allowing me to be a guest on the blog today! Throughout the blog tour for Dragon’s Eye, I hope you enjoy the behind the scenes look at the gods and mythos, and how they play a part in Sumeria’s Sons. For a visual representation, please visit my Pinterest page. During the tour I discuss the Sumerian pantheon, about who and what the Gods/Goddess are, and how I use them. Make sure you stop by the other blogs to get a complete look at the Gods and Goddess the Lycan’s follow.

Also, Less Than Three Press is running a special sale on Sumeria’s Sons from September 23rd  through October 7th (dates inclusive).

Twin Flames is $0.99: Amazon || LT3 Press ||

25% off Songs of the Earth: Amazon || LT3 Press

25% off Dreams of the ForgottenAmazon || LT3 Press

25% off Surrounded by CrimsonAmazon || LT3 Press

Thank you for stopping by and reading!

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Dragon's Eye CoverBlurb: In the wake of birth and betrayal, Ushna takes the God Ashur to Tristan in a last desperate bid to save Tristan’s life—and is helpless to do anything but watch as Ashur instead buries him in a grave. Though he has no desire to go on living, having now lost Brian and Tristan, Ushna has no choice. Not only do their children need him, the mysterious Simurgh has come out of hiding and forces him to continue on—for there is much to do and little time to do it, especially with treachery and danger closing in on them from every side.

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Excerpt: The other vehicles parked behind us. Corey spoke to my parents but I couldn’t hear what he said. My father nodded and headed towards the last vehicle, where the wounded had been loaded. Warriors surrounded our SUV before Corey opened my door. I didn’t want to leave the vehicle. If I did, then Tristan’s fate would be set in stone. Illogical, I knew, but the thought of stepping foot in that house without him was the point of no return. I’d never be able to undo anything that transpired today, as if I even had the power to accomplish something like that. Part of me knew I didn’t want to answer the questions that would eventually come.

What Saéna said kept returning to the forefront of my thoughts. Why was this not a time to grieve? The only reason could be that Tristan wasn’t lost, wasn’t dead. But I saw him buried and Ashur held onto me until there was no hope of saving Tristan from suffocating. My blood boiled at the memory and I breathed around the anger. She is tending him now. What did that mean? Who? Who was tending Tristan? How was I to look past my pain when I’d lost the brightest point in my life? When Brian was killed, even though we wouldn’t have bonded for years, I still felt the absence of his Flame. Tristan and I had bonded last night and… and… wait.

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Lexi Ander Bio PicAbout the Author: Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Where to find Lexi Ander:

Website: http://www.lexiander.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexi.ander.9

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LexiAnder1

Blog: http://lexiander.blogspot.com/

E-mail: lexi.ander.author@gmail.com

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THE GIVEAWAY

  1. $20 Amazon Gift Card, $20 All Romance Gift Card, hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  2. $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  3. Hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  4. E-book copy of Dragon’s Eye
  5. E-book copy of Dragon’s Eye

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

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Tour Dates & Stops:

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3 Stars, A.V. Sanders, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules, Short Story

Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion by A.V. Sanders

Title: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion

Author: A.V. Sanders

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 11000 Words

At a Glance: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Beckett works at a coffee shop to make ends meet while attending a prestigious university. It’s not the most exciting job, but he’s done it long enough he’s good at it—and can avoid the tedium by spinning sexy little daydreams of things he doubts will ever happen.

Daydreams that soon include Simon, the hot, handsome, and older freelance writer who stops in one day. But then Simon becomes a regular, a bright spot more interesting than the inside of Beckett’s head, and daydreams start to seem like they could be something far more tangible—if reality doesn’t get in the way first.

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Review: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is charming at times, especially in the beginning, and Beckett and Simon really are pretty adorable, but it was also frustrating at times because I felt like, as a story, it had so much potential that was just not able to be fulfilled due to the length. I’m not sure if this was a submission call from the publisher that only allowed for so many words, but I truly wish that A.V. Sanders had been able to give Beckett and Simon more time.

This story ticked several of my boxes…college student, southern boy, May/December romance, etc., and, as I said above, the main characters were pretty adorable. Beckett lets Simon know, via subtle, or sometimes not-so-subtle, interactions at the coffee shop that he is interested. And when Simon is free to act on those advances – he does go through a breakup in the story – he asks Beckett out on a date. I really enjoyed the date scene; it was imaginative and lovely to read. We don’t get to see much in the way of ‘spark’ between the guys, but we see enough to know they have an attraction and a nice connection.

Things start to go awry when it becomes clear that there just isn’t going to be enough backstory to have everything make sense. There is a fight where Simon becomes extremely jealous and angry at Beckett because he is meeting his professor for dinner. Simon’s reaction seems out-of-character; however, we don’t know enough about his story with his ex, and we don’t know enough about Beckett’s professor or his intentions, to truly make everything click. The couple goes to New Orleans, Beckett’s home town, to see his family, but the scene is quite awkward because it’s just not fleshed out enough. That whole bit was so rushed, as was the entire end.

Percolation, Poetry, and Passion is a cute story with lots of potential. Unfortunately it simply felt too rushed and too short. Perhaps the author can show them some more love in an expanded novella? I bet many readers would love to see Beckett and Simon get the shot they deserve.

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

You can buy Percolation, Poetry, and Passion here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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A.V. Sanders, Giveaways

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion by A.V. Sanders

We’re so pleased to have debut author A.V. Sanders with us today on the release day of her new novelette from LT3 Press, Percolation, Poetry, and Passion. Enjoy the exclusive excerpt we have for you, and then be sure to check out the TWO ways A.V. is giving readers the chance to win some great prizes, including an e-copy of the book OR a sweet and caffeinated Grand Prize Pack: A “Cafe Du Monde” Gift Basket [Beignet mix, Coffee with Chicory, 2 mugs] + a FREE ebook of Percolation, Poetry, and Passion [if purchased, any other LT3 title of equal or lesser value].

Just click on the Rafflecopter widgets below to enter, and Good Luck!

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percolationpoetryandpassion400Title: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion
Author: A.V. Sanders
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: August 26, 2015
Length: 41 Pages
Blurb: Beckett works at a coffee shop to make ends meet while attending a prestigious university. It’s not the most exciting job, but he’s done it long enough he’s good at it—and can avoid the tedium by spinning sexy little daydreams of things he doubts will ever happen.

Daydreams that soon include Simon, the hot, handsome, and older freelance writer who stops in one day. But then Simon becomes a regular, a bright spot more interesting than the inside of Beckett’s head, and daydreams start to seem like they could be something far more tangible—if reality doesn’t get in the way first.

Buy Links:

LT3 Press

LT3 Press

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt: The usual late morning crowd wasn’t a bad group, as far as coffee house patrons went. No one was in a panic to get to work or school or whatever gave them that universal frenzied look between six and eight in the morning. In fact, things were going so smoothly, he didn’t call Regina out when she slipped behind the coffee bar instead of reclaiming the register.

Beckett ran out of quarters with his last customer, so he got a fresh roll and smacked the paper tube onto the edge of the drawer to break it. Not looking up, he told the next customer he’d be right with them. It didn’t matter though; he could hear the customer talking on his cellphone.

Fine, he thought, if this guy isn’t ready to order, I’m going to restock my drawer. There’s no line, anyway. Beckett took his time refilling each change slot and straightening the large bills, tuning in on the customer’s conversation.

“I’m glad to hear from you, too. Yeah, I’ll bring something. Just take it easy today, okay? I’ll be there soon.” Beckett glanced up, hearing a smile in the man’s voice. “Mm-hm. Of course. Love you,” the man said before hanging up.

Beckett noticed he was wearing a good-looking jacket—olive plaid tweed, fit for a professor at an ivy league. The man inside the tweed was even more impressive, and while he flipped through his smartphone, Beckett looked him over.

The man was older, but not ‘old’, maybe teasing into middle-age. His ashen hair had some silvering at his temples and peppered into the stubble on his chin. His skin was a light tan that looked natural and not procured by UV lights. Tall and well-built, Beckett found his total image attractive—elegant and masculine.

“Trying to get my loyalty app pulled up, sorry,” he said, his clear, sterling eyes flickering up to meet Beckett’s. He offered Beckett a quick, apologetic smile before going back to his phone.

“Oh, uh, take your time. Can I get something started for you?” The moment of visual contact had taken Beckett off guard.

“A medium cappuccino, please. Ah, got it.” He thrust his phone toward Beckett and flashed a grin, bright incisors peeking below straight lips.

Beckett was a bit starstruck. How had he never seen this man before? While checking the sheet next to the register for that day’s loyalty code, he realized that if this man was a creature of habit, they wouldn’t have crossed paths—Beckett had worked night shifts while in school. He entered the code into the man’s phone and realized the possibility of a hot new regular, maybe a whole host of them. The app chirped acceptance and displayed the customer’s name, prompting Beckett to thank them personally for their purchase.

“Enjoy your drink, Simon,” Beckett said, liking the way the name pressed through his teeth.

“I will,” said Simon, looking back at Beckett over his shoulder. Beckett noticed now that he was carrying a leather satchel, probably the right size for a laptop and enough work to keep him tied up in the coffee shop for hours. But he hadn’t asked for an internet—

“Ah,” Simon turned on his heel, “I always forget. I need an internet code.”

Beckett hit a button on the register, the edges of his mouth curling upward. He pinched the receipt paper with the shop’s WiFi password between his index and middle finger, leaned over the counter and passed it to Simon. Beckett’s gaze, deliberate and unflinching, held his.

“No problem, Simon,” he said, letting his New Orleanian upbringing emphasize and round out his syllables.

Beckett felt his confidence and demeanor shift after serving Simon. One of the perks of his job was that it didn’t matter who was straight or gay or interested. While they were at his station, in his little bubble, they were his. That flash of contact was the perfect one-moment-stand, over and over again.

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AVSANDERSAVI4About the Author: A.V. Sanders loves and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, two cats, and tropical aquarium fish. She is an avid hoarder of Halloween decorations and inconsequential information. When writing science fiction, mystery, and horror with LGBTQ main characters, she can be found staying up all hours of the night listening to endless sets of EDM music. She is an advocate of love, art, animals and frivolous acts of beauty. She also has a growing suspicion that not causing harm to one another is what matters in the end.

Find A.V. on the internet at: Website || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAYS

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Blog Tour Grand Prize Pack - CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Blog Tour Grand Prize Pack – CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Tour Dates and Stops:

8 . 27ThursdayHEARTS ON FIRE REVIEWS – Author Interview + Giveaway

8 . 28FridaySINFULLY SEXY BOOKS – Author Spotlight + Giveaway

8 . 29SaturdayLOVE BYTES – Guest Post: Story Playlist + Giveaway

8 . 30SundayBAYOU BOOK JUNKIE – MARDI GRAS PARADE STOP: Author Interview + *SPECIAL GIVEAWAY*

9 . 01TuesdayRAINBOW GOLD REVIEWS – Guest Post: Character Interview + Giveaway

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4 Stars, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Keep the Stars Running – An Anthology from Less Than Three Press

Title: Keep the Stars Running

Author: Various

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 419 Pages

At a Glance: A diverse anthology with great stories and even greater characters.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Space is not always filled with adventures and glory. Not everybody goes racing off to battle evil and save the galaxy. Between the rebels, pirates, royals, and spies are the everyday people who work hard just to get by and ensure everyone gets home safe. Less Than Three Press presents a collection of tales about the ordinary folks who keep the stars running.

The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce
The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander
About a Bot by Andrea Speed
Flight Risk by Talya Andor
Survival by Leona Carver

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Review: I greatly appreciate the scope of this project. Though at times it dragged, the focus behind this anthology is unique and was a pleasure to read because it focused on the lesser known aspects of space adventures. As the blurb states, it’s not always filled with adventures and glory, and very often those behind the scenes are unrecognized. In this anthology, however, the mechanics and other personnel get to truly shine.

It’s difficult reviewing an anthology as a whole because of the individual stories it contains, but I will do this review in two parts. First, each story as an individual, and then the anthology as a whole. Because there are only five stories in this anthology, reviewing each one isn’t too difficult, even if they could—and sometimes should¬—have been published on their own. I am presenting the stories in the order that they are published in the book. Also, please forgive my poor descriptions of the stories. I tried to write short blurbs for them, but failed a bit.

The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce

Jasno Erys is a foodsynth repair technician. When he is called to the suite of Prince Darex, he expects to get his job done and move on, but that’s not to be the case. When kidnappers enter the suite and find only Jasno, they mistake him for the prince and take him to their client. Of course, the client realizes he isn’t the prince, but Jasno manages to find himself in a position he’d always dreamed of—creating new foodsynth items and becoming a chef.

I rather liked this story. Of course, it has some elements where you need to suspend belief (just look at the title), but it was a fun story and I felt for Jasno. He’s stuck in a position he excels at, but his superiors won’t let him test his creativity. That’s just beyond the scope of his position. While he can fix the foodsynth machines, he can also create new recipes that actually taste like something. And Prince Tergus is not all he appears to be either. He’s a desperate man in love, who realizes almost too late that what he really wants wasn’t what he initially thought.
As a start to an anthology, I thought this story was perfect. It kept me engaged and really set the pace. I appreciated Jasno’s position as a foodsynth repairman-turned-chef (think of a Star Trek replicator for food only). It’s not something one would usually think of for a science fiction story, but hey, those things are going to break down at some time, right? It’s a dirty, tedious job, but someone has to do it.

In terms of the length, this story took up 18% of the book (according to my Kindle), which was a decent length for a shorter novella. Given that they are five stories, I thought it was the perfect length.

About a Bot by Andrea Speed.

Tahir is the Chief Maintenance Officer of a space station, though he refers to himself as the head janitor. His job is rather monotonous, as he is the only flesh and blood member of his staff. The rest consists of various robots. His task is to make sure they perform up to their standards and tinker with them when they’re taken offline to be replaced. When a new station decides to do a report on the people “behind the scenes,” Tahir is chosen and runs into his former crush, Jorian. But, unbeknownst to them, they’re about to contend with an alien enemy that humanity can barely stand up against.

This was my favorite story in the book for one reason, and I have just two words: Bagel bot.

Andrea Speed has such a unique sense of humor, and that is entirely on display in this story. Tahir has “pets” from robots no longer needed, and one of them is the aptly named Bagel bot who is shaped like, well, a bagel. There are others, but there was something just so endearing about her that made the story, even when I was wondering if mankind was about to be destroyed.

Tahir and Jorian have good chemistry, and when the enemy targets the space station, Tahir’s quick thinking and bumbling manages to buy them more time. Sadly, this story is short, and I really wanted more. I could easily see this turned into a full novel, and if I could, I would demand it. In terms of length, it’s the shortest at just 12% of the book. It ended far too soon.

The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander

Aliens and mining gone wrong. Conspiracies. Long lost loves. I don’t really know how else to describe this.

My second favorite story in this anthology because ALIENS. There’s something just so awesome about reading tales of alien species. Regin and Makari are great characters. I found Regin amusing, partially because of his small amount of feline DNA and how they drugged him with catnip to interrogate him, and Makari for his protective instincts concerning Regin, whom he loves and considers his mate, despite their years of separation.

At 20% of the book, this is a sizeable and well-paced story that starts with an interrogation and follows Regin, Makari, and friends to discover the possible conspiracy with the mining company. Add in a robot named Danny, who thinks he is James Bond, and, well, you have some great entertainment. Regin and Makari made me swoon, and Danny made me laugh. All of which make a great combination. The book is packed with action right until the end, and I really hoped for a good outcome for the boys since they had been torn apart years before.

Flight Risk by Talya Andor

Kiel is a hearing impaired mechanic who works on Gryphon Gears on a planet with limited water resources. He prefers to work on the gears, keeps his head down, and keep to himself, away from the pilots who like to torment him and the other mechanics. When Marco transfers in and is assigned to Bravo team, he doesn’t leave Kiel alone, even though it’s just what Kiel wants. Or is it? When a possible security breach and treason threatens their safety, it’s up to Marco and Kiel to save everyone at the base.

For me, initially, this story dragged. While I enjoyed Kiel and learning about what made him tick, and enjoyed watching Marco try to get Kiel into bed, I often put the book down. It’s only about 22% of the book, but it seemed a lot longer. At the end, however, the action picked up and I couldn’t put down the story. There were a few things that bothered me, such as the outright nastiness in Bravo team’s personalities, especially given what they were trying to do. It seemed contradictory, but I didn’t notice until after I finished the story. I liked Marco and Kiel, but they were the only characters who really got to shine, and I would have liked some other supporting characters who had more screen time.

Survival by Leona Carver

Valentin Mashir was supposed to be a colonist put in cryo for a trip to a new planet, but he’s been upgraded to work in one of the botanical labs and is given a crash course before the trip is underway. After a harrowing experience being put into cryo, Valentin is rudely awakened seventy years early, when the ship sensors detect problems with the plant life in the park. Along with a skeleton crew, they’ll have to get the park back under control and figure out what’s going on, or destroy the park to save the ship.

I don’t even know where to go with this review. The story starts going in one direction, and I’m like, oh, cool, this is nice. And then I think I know what’s going to happen, but the author does a 90 degree turn into the realm of mythology, and I’m staring at the book like, what… the heck just happened? It’s not bad, per se, I rather enjoyed it, but it took an interesting route that I did NOT expect.

This story has very little romance. There’s sex, yes, two men blowing off steam, but that’s it. I wanted romance, but didn’t get it. Fyodor is an intriguing character as a genetically engineered being, and I rather liked his cocky attitude. Valentin is a human who is used to the slums of earth, but he loves the trees he helped plant and wants to work with them.

I really can’t give away too much without ruining the story, but I will say that after being rudely woken from his cryo sleep, Valentin and the group discover something has caused the park to grow exponentially fast, and the roots have spread and are interfering with the ship. While the story is long, the longest in the book, it read pretty quickly.

As an entire anthology, I liked Keep the Stars Running for several reasons. First, the obvious: it goes behind the scenes and really looks at the various people who form support staff. I like that they are given their moments to shine. Some end up saving lives, others don’t, but they all do their jobs well. Second is the diversity. While yes, they all have gay characters, they are also a diverse cast. There are several people of color, and I’m not talking about the alien species encountered, but humans. I loved that. Too often people of color are left out of science fiction, and I think that hurts the genre. Finally, most of the stories have characters with disabilities. They were injured in one way or another, but that doesn’t stop them from working. Some have cybernetic implants to help them, others have had new limbs attached that aren’t quite up to the task. In the case of Kiel, he and the other mechanics have lost their hearing due to the nature of their jobs. The authors really went above and beyond to show that there is no cookie cutter mold for a hero, and they created an incredibly diverse cast within their respective stories. For that I commend them and the publisher.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I only hope there are more anthologies like this one in the works, because I now have a soft spot for mechanics.

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Giveaways, Less Than Three Press, Lexi Ander

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Surrounded by Crimson Blog Tour with Lexi Ander

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Lexi Ander back today, on the Surrounded by Crimson blog tour.

Since the color red is referenced in the title of the book, I asked Lexi if she’d like to chat about symbolism, what the color represents in the story, and if the symbolism was intentional or synchronstic.

Enjoy what she has to say on the subject, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win one of the following prizes:

  1. $20 Amazon Gift card, $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  2. $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  3. hard copy of Surrounded by Crimson, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  4. e-book copy of Surrounded by Crimson
  5. e-book copy of Surrounded by Crimson

Good luck!

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Lexi: Do I include different symbolic elements into the story? Ah… yes and no. I don’t usually use symbolism on purpose. Most of the time it’s accidental and I have a moment where I think, “Hey, that would fit like a beaut!” Sometimes I insert symbols of the culture that I’m writing about. But… when I sat down to pen Surrounded by Crimson, I did intend to us the some symbolism for the color red.

Red is powerful and invokes a wide range of emotional responses in people that goes from the sexy side of passion, seduction, and love to the negative reactions of violence and anger. With prehistoric people, the color was associated with the primal forces of fire and blood.

When I was writing Dreams of the Forgotten, I was also reading The Rise and Fall of Babylon. There was a description of a burial site that predated Babylonia. At the excavation of Uruk, there was a list of items found along with an explanation of red being the color of mourning for the area. There were other tidbits about the length of time they mourned along with habits and rituals, which fascinated me—and some pieces made it into the ending of Dreams of the Forgotten. Tristan wears red as he mourns for the loss of Brian.

Tristan’s red robes were carried forward into Surrounded by Crimson, but had nothing to do with the title, at the beginning. No, I had meant for the symbolism to be about sacrifice because this was supposed to be the book in which some died. The idea was nixed when I was in the middle of book three, but I kept the title based on the replacement scene which would be pivotal to the storyline. When my writing finally dropped my off at that point, I had a thought went something like this. “Well, hell, how is Tristan going to show people what this looks like when he can’t step outside of himself to show everyone that?” Briefly, I considered changing the title.

All wasn’t lost, though. When I finished, I noticed I had woven in the mourning element, along with the love, the rage, and well, I won’t give away spoilers, but there was another element, and it all fit. The title came to represent several things instead of that one snippet of a scene. In no way was the symbolism intentional, but I happen to think that since I had the title picked out long before I began writing helped to bring everything together than if I had planned it. ^_^

Fun Facts About Red

Red is one of the top two favorite colors of all people.

Red is the most popular color used on flags in the world. Approximately 77% of all flags include red.

Red is the international color for stop.

Red districts sell sex and pornography in every European culture.

The history of languages reveals that red is the first color after black and white. (All languages have words for black and white. If a third hue exists, it is red.)

Cultural Meanings

Red is the color of good luck in Asia and is the most popular color in China.

Most Japanese children draw the sun as a big red circle.

In East Asian stock markets, red is used to denote a rise in stock prices. (Note: In North American stock markets, red is used to denote a drop in stock prices.)

Red is an auspicious color for marriage. Brides in India and Nepal wear red saris; in Japan, a red kimono symbolizes happiness and good luck.

In Russia, the word for “red” means beautiful.

Thank you for stopping by and reading! Good luck with the giveaway!

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Cover Surrounded by CrimsonBlurb: Tristan has agreed to bond with Ushna but there is still much to do and returning to Tribe Enkidu puts everyone on edge. Tristan is being stalked like prey all the while fighting depression as he mourns the loss of Nikita and enduring a battle of wills with the Elder Council over his birthright. The pleading of his adoptive daughter only adds still more stress to the situation.

Stumbling onto a secret prison while searching for Ushna leads Tristan to risk everything to free a lost God. But breaking the tie to his Flame has more repercussions than Tristan knew and the assistance of a forgotten Goddess and a centuries old lover may not be enough to save him.

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

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Lexi Ander Bio PicAbout the Author: Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Where to find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | E-mail | Goodreads

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J. Scott Coatsworth, Less Than Three Press

Guest Post: The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth

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My latest novella, The Homecoming, is out today, and I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt with the readers of The Novel Approach.

I jokingly call this story my “wolfman meets spaceman” story, and while it’s sci-fi driven, it has elements of the paranormal, including shifters.

I chose this scene for your readers because it encapsulates the primal nature of the new Earth to which Aldiss, our spaceman, returns. It’s the moment when he awakens to the danger he’s put himself in, and is pivotal for Hari, our wolfman, too.

To set the scene, Alvin and his fellow crew member, Xandra, are trudging through a snowstorm hauling a third member of their team to safety when they find the body of the fourth member of the crew lying frozen in the snow.

Thanks for including me on your site for my blog tour. :)

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TH CoverPublisher: Less Than Three Press

Cover Artist: London Burden

Length: 20,000 Words

Buy Links: LT3 Press Book Market | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo

Blurb: When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

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Excerpt: The nausea passed after a few minutes. Aldiss sat up and wiped off his lips, his hands shaking. He couldn’t speak, but he pointed to another pile of snow next to Rober. He didn’t want to look.

Xandra went over to it, brushing the snow away. It was a wolf, a black one.

For some reason, he breathed a little easier at that. He had been afraid, deep down in his gut, that its fur would be white.

Maybe it was the wolf that had attacked him earlier in the day. The cutter had slashed a nasty wound across the creature’s back. “Looks like they killed each other,” he said. He searched the tree-line around them, as if expecting to see wolves at every turn.

Xandra nodded grimly. She went to check on Cat, her hand gently touching the other woman’s forehead, pointedly not looking at Rober’s corpse. Cat looked like she was still asleep. He hoped it was just sleep.

Aldiss looked around the clearing for any trace of Rober’s cutter. Obviously the man had used it here. He paced around the bodies, using his boot to scuffle up the snow, but there was nothing metallic hidden under the covering blanket.

The trees loomed over them in the half light like giants.

“We should get going,” Xandra said, eyeing the forest warily. “There might be more of them.”

Aldiss neglected to mention that he knew there was at least one more.

He washed the blood from his hands in the ice-cold water of the stream. They were still shaking a little, but not too badly scraped up. He wished they had antibiotics, but he’d have to make do with a good washing.

He turned to say something to Xandra, and saw the wolf crouched at the far edge of the clearing. Deja vu of the worst kind.

Aldiss reached for the cutter at his side as the snow began once again to drift down lazily from the darkening sky. “Xandra.” He pointed in the direction of the wolf.

Her eyes went wide as she saw the beast. She was reaching for her own cutter as another wolf bounded out of the trees next to them, smashing into her and knocking her to the ground.

Aldiss freed his cutter, bringing it up and activating the laser blade as he stood. He swung it madly at the hindquarters of the wolf that was pinning Xandra to the ground, grazing it and sending it running back toward the cover of the trees.

The second wolf joined the action, lunging for Aldiss’s throat. Xandra just managed to bring her cutter up to slice off the wolf’s ear. The wolf yelped and jumped away, uttering a low growl.

Suddenly the small clearing was full of wolves.

Aldiss sliced the blade back-and-forth, the laser-sharp edge nipping animals left and right. Then something bit him in the leg, hard, and he fell to the ground with a scream, still swinging the deadly blade, yelling through the pain.

The snow fell more heavily, and the clearing grew darker and darker. His headlamp shone a crazy light through the falling patterns of snow as he looked around wildly for the next threat, revealing a furry tail here and bared teeth there.

In the gathering darkness, someone else screamed, a horrible guttural sound, and then went silent. “Xandra,” he shouted, feeling his way through the storm toward where he had heard the sound.

The snow and darkness now blocked almost all of his vision. Aldiss turned down his headlamp as low as it would go. He struggled forward on his hands and knees, the wound in his leg pulsing angrily, moving forward foot by foot. He prayed that the weather hid him from his enemies.

He found Xandra at last. She lay motionless, staring into the sky, her mouth agape in a silent scream. Her neck was ripped out in a jagged wound, just like Rober.

Aldiss felt sick again. He looked down at his own leg to see the wound, where sharp teeth had torn through the leg of his ASEA coveralls. He was losing blood, and fast, and who knew what kind of bacteria these wolves carried?

His vision faded in and out as he waved the cutter around in the darkness, his reflexes slowing.

I’m going to die out here, all alone.

He heard sounds of fighting continuing around him, and looked up, perplexed. Xandra was dead, and Cat… he didn’t know where he’d left Cat, lying by herself in the madness. But she’d been in no shape to stand, let alone fight.

The sounds of a struggle came closer, wolves howling in pain. He sat up as best as he was able, staring into the swirling snow.

A naked man stepped out of the darkness into the dim light of his headlamp, holding a cutter, dripping with blood.

Everything faded to black.

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j-scott-coatsworthAuthor Bio: Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Website | Facebook

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3 Stars, Cecil Wilde, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules

Review: A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde

Title: A Boy Called Cin

Author: Cecil Wilde

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 150 Pages

At a Glance: I love diversity in my books. I have really enjoyed the few transgender-related books that I’ve read, but I think Cecil Wilde tried to do too much here.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: On the search for a cup of coffee before the guest lecture he’s giving, Tom spies a tired, half-frozen young man who looks even more in need of coffee than him. On impulse, he buys the man a cup—but an attempt to strike up conversation ends in the young man walking off, seemingly put off by Tom Walford—the tabloids’ favourite billionaire—buying him coffee. But when he reappears in Tom’s lecture, all Tom knows is that he doesn’t want the man slipping away a second time.

Agreeing to dinner with a man he only knows from internet gossip columns isn’t the wisest decision Cin’s ever made, but he wants to like the infamous Tom Walford and he can’t do that if he doesn’t give the man a fair chance to be likeable. Which he is, almost frustratingly so, to the point Cin wishes maybe he hadn’t been so fair because he never had any intention of getting attached to Tom, who seems to come from a world far too different from his own for anything between them to last. Little does Cin know, they’ve got a lot more in common than he imagines—including their shared discomfort with their assigned genders, and all the complications that go with it.

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Review: This was a really interesting read…I’m actually having a bit of trouble putting into words all of my thoughts on this book. I’m not gonna do any type of synopsis recap – which I don’t typically do much of in my reviews anyway – but instead, I’m going with a sort of stream-of-consciousness of my thoughts.

I liked both main characters quite a bit. Tom is a sexy billionaire with a heart of gold, and Cin is a twenty-year-old art student. Cin is snarky and intelligent, and, honestly, seems very put-together for being so young. Tom is basically just a huge sweetheart, who seems to wear his heart on his sleeve. They were very cute and sweet together. In fact, for the most part, that’s how I would characterize A Boy Called Cin: cute and sweet. I would describe it as fairytale-ish, even – which I think perhaps was the author’s intent. I don’t think that every book that deals with heavy subjects has to necessarily feel heavy, so in that regard I like what Cecil Wilde did here.

A Boy Called Cin deals with gender topics that are oftentimes confusing for a lot of people, transgender and gender dysphoria, or genderqueer, mainly. Cin is transgender, born biologically female, but identifies as male. Tom, we discover, is genderqueer. He doesn’t feel like a girl, per se, but doesn’t always feel entirely male either. Then, the author throws in there that Tom’s sister, Poppy, is also trans. Now, I love diversity in my books. I have really enjoyed the few transgender-related books that I’ve read, but I think Cecil Wilde tried to do too much here. Learning about Cin and what he was going through, and what he needed in order to truly feel like himself, was interesting and engaging.
Tom’s story, on its own, is interesting. I would have been more satisfied with the story, though, if the two hadn’t been combined, not to mention bringing the transgender sister into the mix. I think Tom could have been the same intelligent, handsome, open-hearted, open-minded man that he was, who fell in love with Cin just as he was, without him also having gender issues. I felt like it took away from Cin’s story a bit. That’s just my opinion, of course. Perhaps the author is writing from experience, though…maybe a similar thing happened to them in their life. Who knows? I realize it’s not my story. As far as a reading experience, however, it was a lot to wrap my mind around.

The other slightly quirky thing about the book was the writing style. Written in the present tense, it definitely jumped out at me. On the one hand, it was kind of cool; the book read as a documentary almost – a sort of a play by play of the action. As most fiction books are written in the past tense, it was noticeably different. Unfortunately, because of that it was also somewhat of a distraction. I have to admit that it did pull me out of the story on several occasions, just because my mind kept recognizing it as unusual. It came across as somewhat less personal at times, especially during some of the more intimate scenes.

Overall, I enjoyed the characters and the snappy dialogue very much. Cin and Tom were just as cute as they could be. The book was definitely thought-provoking as well. I think if you can go into it with an open mind, and overlook some of the tidy set-ups, you will enjoy it and even learn a few things you may not have previously understood about gender.

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A.V. Sanders, Giveaways, Less Than Three Press

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion by A.V. Sanders

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Title: Percolation, Poetry, and Passion
Author: A.V. Sanders
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: August 26, 2015
Cover Artist: A.V. Sanders — I requested to make my own cover for ‘Percolation, Poetry, and Passion’ and LT3 was kind enough to let me do so. The Bay Bridge and this exact view from the Oakland Hills are significant to the relationship between the main characters in this story. The handwritten font I chose for the title I hoped would lend familiarity and the romanticism of ‘poetry’. Finally, the silhouettes of the two men, hand in hand, facing their world together, was a very important and powerful image, both to me and the story.

Blurb: Beckett works at a coffee shop to make ends meet while attending a prestigious university. It’s not the most exciting job, but he’s done it long enough he’s good at it—and can avoid the tedium by spinning sexy little daydreams about things he doubts will ever happen.

Daydreams that soon include Simon, the hot, handsome, and older, freelance writer who stops in one day. But then Simon becomes a regular, a bright spot more interesting than the inside of Beckett’s head, and daydreams start to seem like they could be something far more tangible—if reality doesn’t get in the way first.

Pre-Order Link: Less Than Three Press | Add To Goodreads

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Excerpt: Beckett did not know the older man’s name, and it didn’t matter. When their bodies met, a hot rush swept over Beckett, his breath catching in his throat. The older man took a step into him, leaving Beckett pressed against the wall. The man leaned in, taking a deep inhale, his rough cheek brushing against Beckett’s stubble. He pulled back until their lips met.

Beckett lifted his hands, reaching into the man’s soft, graying hair. The clothing had dissolved from their bodies, nothing left to impede. Their arms moved over one another, fingers smoothing along taut muscles and hard lines–Beckett’s olive-toned skin complementing the older man’s deep tan in their tangle.

He ran his hand through Beckett’s short dark hair, a low growl rumbling in his chest. His large hands closed around Beckett’s shoulders and he turned him around. Beckett’s heart pounded in his ears, anticipation and lust building. The man was rough and strong–knowing what he wanted and what Beckett needed. Then, the Nameless spoke for the first time during their interlude:

“Was my pump sugar-free?”

Beckett startled, blinking a few times.

“What?”

“That syrup you just put in my drink–was it sugar-free? Because that’s what I ordered.”

The harsh mechanical whirl of a blender and hiss of blow-off steam from an espresso machine brought Beckett back into reality. His handsome stranger had vanished, and in his place was the puffy pale face of an average guy in his thirties. He was wearing an accusing scowl underneath matte black hair and a salt-rimmed baseball cap.

Beckett took a deep breath, the acrid scent of coffee pushing the last vestiges of his imagined lover out of his mind. He strained to give the customer a pleasant smile.

“Yep. Three pumps, one sugar-free vanilla and two hazelnut–just like it says on the cup.”

Puffy-scowl walked away and didn’t say thanks. Beckett disliked being questioned and prickled further when it was shot from over the coffee bar partition. He took pride in his job as a barista at The Percolation Station. He had been working at the eclectic, industrial style coffee house since he was a freshman at Berkeley. After graduating last week, the four years of pulling espresso shots meant he could make these drinks in his sleep. Sometimes, he did–he always felt ripped-off waking up from a night of those pointless, dull dreams.

An errant thought about adding a pump of simple syrup to the guy’s drink skipped through his mind. Beckett never did understand why people risked being rude to those handling what you’re about to put into your body.

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tumblr_static_72snlag4rtc8k8ockgo0gcc80About the Author: A.V. Sanders loves and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, two cats, and tropical aquarium fish. She is an avid hoarder of Halloween decorations and inconsequential information. When writing science fiction, mystery, and horror with LGBTQ main characters, she can be found staying up all hours of the night listening to endless sets of EDM music. She is an advocate of love, art, animals and frivolous acts of beauty. She also has a growing suspicion that not causing harm to one another is what matters in the end.

Social Media Links: Website | Tumblr | Twitter

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A.V. Sanders would like to offer one lucky reader the chance to win an ARC of Percolation, Poetry, and Passion. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget to enter.

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3 Stars, Drama, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jules, T.T. Kove

Review: Scarred Souls by T.T. Kove

Title: Scarred Souls (Scarred Souls: Book One)

Author: T.T. Kove

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

At a Glance: What I’ve decided I’m going to take away from this book is a little bit of hopefulness for these guys.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: On a cold, wet afternoon Damian stumbles across a young man huddled beneath a tree crying his eyes out. He’s got more than enough problems of his own, but is compelled to give the bloke a place to crash for at least the night.

Josh is used to being alone, and most days it’s easier than trying to deal with people who can’t, or won’t, understand him. When Damian takes him in for the night, Josh assumes it’s going to be one more go round of sex and get out in the morning.

Neither of them expects the friendship that develops, and they’re far from prepared when friendship starts to turn into more.

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Review: I’m finding this to be a tough one to review. It was a very tough one to read; if I hadn’t been reading it for review, I likely wouldn’t have finished it. I don’t mind angst – I have read many books that were tough but in the end I found to be beautiful – however, the angst here was a bit excessive, which is simply not how I personally like to spend my reading time. But, the more I sit with it, the more I realize there were aspects that many may find appealing in a story, and that the author was ultimately trying to write a story of hope.

The subject matter is very dark for the most part. Between our two main characters, Josh and Damian, T.T. Kove covers sexual abuse, substance abuse, self-harm, depression, borderline personality disorder, domestic violence, and suicide. Scarred Souls is definitely the perfect title for this book. Josh and Damian are absolutely scarred souls, and looking back on the story, almost every single character in it is scarred to some extent. I found it exhausting that with the exception of two very minor characters, who have very little page time, there were NO happy people in this book.

I understand wanting to tell a story about troubled characters. Wanting to write an abuse-survivor story. Wanting to simply educate readers about the different hurts that people can feel, or a certain facet of mental illness. However, not only is it my preference, but I also believe it’s more realistic, to have some more-or-less stable and happy people in the story. The closest this book got was Silver, Damian’s best friend and roommate, who I liked very, very much. Silver is a tattoo artist, and since the next book scheduled in the series is apparently titled Inked Souls, I’m going to be saying my little prayers that we will be getting Silver’s story in that book!

So, what I’ve decided I’m going to take away from this book is a little bit of hopefulness for these guys. Though it’s extremely difficult for Josh, given his BPD, Damian has given him reason to have little glimpses of hope for the future. Damian accepts Josh for who he is. Doesn’t pressure him to “get better” or be anything or anyone he isn’t capable of being. It feels realistic for Josh, and attainable, I think. And, for Damian, Josh has allowed him to finally be able to be close to a person and have it feel right. Maybe his natural connection to Josh will eventually lead to even more comfortable intimacy between them. It certainly seems bleak throughout the majority of the book…but, who knows? Maybe these guys will be okay after all.

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You can buy Scarred Souls here:

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A.F. Henley, Giveaways, Less Than Three Press

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Baby’s on Fire Blog Tour With AF Henley

Babys on Fire Blog Tour Header

The Novel Approach is pleased to have author AF Henley here today on the Baby’s on Fire blog tour. Enjoy Henley’s article, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win some great prizes, including a $20 gift card at LT3 Press.

Good luck!

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Welcome back to the Baby’s on Fire blog tour and giveaway! I hope you’ve been following along with the tour, but for any newcomers that are joining in for the first time, we’ve been having a peek at some of the rumors, gossip, and in some instances actual events that took place in the late sixties and early seventies within the music industry.

One of the biggest problems with the choices a person makes in their younger days is living with the guilt later on. And once again, I’m going to state before I get started that rumors and gossip always color a story – sometimes to the good, sometimes to the bad, and sometimes it’s just a plain old case of the right words said in the wrong ways. Also, it is not my intention to make judgment or attempt to make the reader pass judgment on the performers that I’m writing about. I will, however, come right out and make a stand on the fact that I believe a person’s choices and decisions are theirs to make and I don’t feel anyone has the right to judge them on those decisions.

The unfortunate part comes when that person, themselves, looks back in regret.

** Please note that none of these posts are indicative of the main characters or the instances in my novel Baby’s on Fire. They do, however, give a very clear indication of what the MCs would have been experiencing both time-wise and with the reactions/mindset of the people around them.

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Suzy Quatro – Teen Pregnancy and Abortion

The Performer

Susan Kay “Suzi” Quatro, was born on June 3, 1950 and is a British-based American singer-songwriter, bass guitar player, and actor. Suzi has a world of experience behind her. She was the first female bass player to become a major rock star, busting through the glass ceiling of the music industry and kicking the barrier of women’s participation in rock music right the fuck out of the way. In the 1970s she was highly successful in the European and Australian markets. She released her self-titled debut album in 1973 and continued to release a total of fifteen studio albums following that, selling over fifty million albums. She was awarded six Bravo Ottos between ’73 and ’80 and was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Online Hall of Fame. She had a very successful recurring role as bass player Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days, and she followed that success with a duet with Chris Norman, Stumblin’, that reached number four in the U.S. To this day she continues to perform live.

The Problem

In Suzi’s early teens, she and her sister, Patti, formed a band that went by the name of The Pleasure Seekers. The band was such a huge local success that Suzi decided not to go back to school, and instead pursue a career. The decision was supported by her father, the band soon had a record deal, and Suzi, at only fourteen years old, left home for the life of an upcoming rock star.

But temptation can be an evil witch, and Suzi found herself falling for a married A&R man from Mercury Records. Suzi reports that the first time they slept together was on her eighteenth birthday and it resulted in a pregnancy. It was a pregnancy that was quickly and quietly stopped with an abortion.

BoF AtG BT Post3 TNA Suzi QuatroThe Pain

Suzi has admitted that the abortion still haunts her.

“I would have loved to have had that baby,” Suzi says in an online interview posted by http://www.dailymail.co.uk. “Not a year goes by when I don’t think about it — what that child would be like, how old they would be.”

Apparently, it’s not just an emotional haunting, but a spiritual one as well.

“When I get to those Pearly Gates — hopefully — this is the sin I will pay for. I am so sorry for it, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice and I was absolutely petrified. Years later it still comes back to haunt me and I don’t think I will ever get over it.”

And that truly is a shame. Living with regret and guilt is a nasty burden – the kind of burden no amount of success or fame is going to make easier.

Quotes and picture found at the Daily Mail

My huge thanks toThe Novel Approach for having me today, and a special thanks to you, my friends, for joining me. :D

Until next time!

AF Henley <3

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Blurb: In 1974 Gerry Faun gets the break of his life—an opportunity to meet gorgeous, openly bisexual, glam-rock idol Mark Devon. Mark’s world is new, exciting, and Gerry finally gets to explore the side of his sexuality that he’s kept hidden. But the press is everywhere, and when Gerry’s father gets wind of what’s going on behind his back, Gerry ends up on the street. Mark offers to let Gerry come along with the tour and Gerry jumps at the chance. The tour is a never-ending party—and the start of what seems to be a perfect relationship for him and Mark. Until Mark’s manager decides Gerry isn’t worth the trouble he’s stirring up.

In 1994 Gerry is finally coming out of some tough times—he has a job that pays the bills, a car that hasn’t quite broken down, and a small rental in Jersey City. After a decade of barely getting by, if life was as good as it was going to get, Gerry figures he’ll manage just fine. It would be easier if he wasn’t still haunted by the man the media won’t let him forget, the man who stole his heart and then broke it… the man that’s shown up pleading for a second chance.

Gay Contemporary Romance
Copyright © 2015 by A.F. Henley
Published by Less Than Three Press

Please note: Novel contains explicit sexual content.

Purchase Links: Less Than Three Press | Amazon

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Excerpt: For what seemed like the hundredth time, the traffic in front of Gerry Faun came to a slow-rolling halt. It was the rain doing the most damage, though the end of the workday was always ugly on the streets of New York City. Not that there were many pretty things on the street, regardless. Giuliani was trying, but the way Gerry had it figured, it was going to take more than a smile and a stand on graffiti and marijuana to clean up their kind of dirt. So while the rest of the city offered the mayor awe-induced stares of appreciation over recollections of Mafia Commission and Boesky trials, Gerry mostly sat back and speculated. When government officials got clever enough to stop assholes from blowing up pregnant secretaries and hard-working fathers, then they might actually get his attention. Until then, Gerry wasn’t putting any more trust in them than he would anybody else. He’d learned a long time ago that not all that glitters is worthy.

He was lost in thought enough not to acknowledge the tunnel. He was, in fact, well into it before he remembered to take off his sunglasses. He forgave himself the digression. It had been a long week. Though Gerry worked in the financial district, he was no more than a glorified yes-man for his boss, a real estate broker that had made a fuck-ton of money in the eighties, and was merely coasting until the inevitable retirement. He ran errands and answered phones. He took messages, and booked flights that he was more than sure did not drop Mr. David Manon in places of business. He made reservations in exclusive restaurants, paid Mr. Manon’s membership fees for a gym the man never went to, and bought Manon’s anniversary and birthday gifts for the wife-of-the-moment. Gerry had a flair for it, or so his boss would tell him whenever the requirement came up, and Gerry was cocky enough to verbally agree with Manon every time. Damn right he was good at it.

Tail lights suddenly flared in front of him and Gerry cursed and slammed his brake pedal down. His eyes flicked between windshield and rearview, assessing space and distance, and he blew a sigh of relief when he confirmed that the guy behind him had been paying more attention than he’d been. Maybe it really was time to give up the car.

He’d heard it a thousand times from friends, family, and casual observers: public transport would not only save him money, but they swore up and down it would save him time. God knew gasoline was getting more expensive by the day, and parking costs in the district were insane. Gerry considered it pretty much every time the numbers went up on the billboards beside the gas stations. One day he would, he’d tell himself. One day for sure. When he could convince himself that walking the six blocks from the bus stop in Jersey’s bitter January winds wouldn’t be as appealing as slitting his own throat with barbed wire. When he got over his control issues.

The side road whereby Gerry’s rental home waited for his return was already jammed with cars, so instead of parking on the street, Gerry carefully worked his 1984 Buick into the tiny concrete pad that served as his driveway. He nudged the car as close to the house as it would go, wincing when the fender butted against the foundation and the ancient bow window above him shook with disapproval. While some of the properties on the street had given up parking for an attempt at a front lawn, Gerry couldn’t see the point of bothering to maintain a six-by-eight square of greenery and have to fight for a place to park every day. Besides, what was the point? In the summer everything got so damn hot that his neighbors’ plants and grass got their lives choked out of them. In the winter, anything that had managed to get a hold on the Earth was quickly destroyed by the cold and the snow.

Looking, he was sure, about as sexy as a maggot trying to escape from a nostril, Gerry inched out from between his car and the base of the entranceway steps. His suit wasn’t worth that much, but it was worth too much to go rubbing it up against rain-mucked concrete or the wet door of a car that hadn’t seen an auto-wash in months. His breath puffed out from between his lips, the rain making October that much colder, and Gerry lifted his eyes to the sky. Dark, ominous clouds roiled in the gray heavens, and Gerry had serious doubts that the light rainfall was all the skies had in store for them.

In the second it took for Gerry to muse, a deep rumble of thunder broke, a distant sheet of lightning answered the call with a flare of brilliance, and the drizzle became a downpour. Without bothering to spit out the curse on his tongue, Gerry ran for the front door. The porch roof did nothing to protect him as the rain whipped against his back and legs, and he had to seat the key twice before it finally dug in and allowed him to open the door.

Dripping, mumbling, Gerry slammed the door behind him with a definitive clunk and flicked the deadbolt. He kicked off his shoes, sighing as small rivers of water raced across the lopsided flooring of the hallway, and he began to peel off of his wet clothes right where he stood. He might as well only drown one part of the house, and at least that particular location was vinyl tile. Most of the house had decades-old carpeting that, when wet, released all kinds of odors. None of them good.

With his wet clothes piled in his arms, Gerry stepped gingerly down the narrow hallway, and ducked into the bathroom. He dumped the armload into the tub, and grabbed a towel off the rack.

He didn’t pause to look in the mirror and fix his hair. The cut was short, short enough in fact that he barely had to brush it, and that always seemed to make his sister chuckle when she saw him. There was a time when God himself wouldn’t have been able to get him to cut his hair—when the arguments with his parents would grow to screaming matches over the bangs in his face and the uneven lengths that fell past his collar. But everybody grew up. Eventually.

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AF Henley_Avatar croppedAbout the Author: Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica.

A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.

Henley has been proudly working with LT3 since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since—an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.

Find more here: Website | Amazon Page | Publisher’s Page | Facebook | Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY:

On behalf of the tour, please join the giveaway by taking part in the Rafflecopter below. The prize consists of a set of ‘Crystal and Silver’ Glitter Ball Earrings, a $20 Gift Certificate to the Less Than Three Press book market (free books!), and a signed, print copy of Baby’s on Fire. Click through for terms and conditions, further details, and your chance to win! See all the details HERE.

** Please note that this giveaway is being offered tour-wide and there will be one winner awarded for the entire event.

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4 Stars, A.F. Henley, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: Baby’s on Fire by A.F. Henley

Title: Baby’s on Fire

Author: A.F. Henley

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I can’t profess to reading all of AF Henley’s books, but I can say I’ve not read one yet that has disappointed.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: In 1974 Gerry Faun gets the break of his life—an opportunity to meet gorgeous, openly bisexual, glam-rock idol Mark Devon. Mark’s world is new, exciting, and Gerry finally gets to explore the side of his sexuality that he’s kept hidden. But the press is everywhere, and when Gerry’s father gets wind of what’s going on behind his back, Gerry ends up on the street. Mark offers to let Gerry come along with the tour and Gerry jumps at the chance. The tour is a never-ending party—and the start of what seems to be a perfect relationship for him and Mark. Until Mark’s manager decides Gerry isn’t worth the trouble he’s stirring up.

In 1994 Gerry is finally coming out of some tough times—he has a job that pays the bills, a car that hasn’t quite broken down, and a small rental in Jersey City. After a decade of barely getting by, if life was as good as it was going to get, Gerry figures he’ll manage just fine. It would be easier if he wasn’t still haunted by the man the media won’t let him forget, the man who stole his heart and then broke it… the man that’s shown up pleading for a second chance.

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Review: There are so many things I simply adored about A.F. Henley’s Baby’s on Fire. It’s a story of redemption and second chances, at its heart—not necessarily a new motif in romantic fiction, but the circumstances around which Gerry Faun and Mark Devon loved and lost were unique to them, a bit nostalgic and even somewhat tragic, and that, I very much enjoyed.

At the tender age of twenty, in 1974, Gerry finds himself star-struck by glam rocker Maxx Starlight—think Ziggy Stardust—Mark’s on stage persona. The genesis of Gerry and Mark’s relationship revolves entirely around a chance sexual encounter, one that eventually leads to Gerry losing his family, though Gerry quickly becomes immersed in Mark’s world: an unfortunate calamity of drugs, booze, facade, and duplicity perpetrated by those who are out to use and manipulate the superstar for their own gain.

This story, however, opens in 1994. Gerry, by then, has hit middle age, works a rather mundane 9-to-5 office job, though it pays the bills, and hasn’t seen or heard from Mark Devon in twenty years. Gerry is barely avoiding tumbling over the precipice into a lonely and miserable existence. The reader is engaged from the outset by living his story backwards through flashbacks, as we see an older Gerry juxtaposed with his younger and far more idealistic self. The effect this narrative choice has on the novella is twofold; it teases the story out, the reader knowing the romance between Gerry and Mark had not only failed but failed epically, as well as the added advantage of having the opportunity to see Gerry’s hope and optimism decay toward the disillusionment he still carries around from a past he can’t seem to escape. Nor, in fact, does it seem he really wants to. In these flashbacks, we watch the gradual realization that Gerry’s not only out of his element in Maxx Starlight’s stratosphere, but that he’s also in love with a man who doesn’t seem to know exactly who he is when out of the spotlight. There’s a bit of a “kill your heroes” lesson learned as Gerry, who is at first awed and worshipful of the glitter and glamour Maxx exudes, sees the image tarnish by degrees while he learns his love for Mark doesn’t shine nearly as bright as the money and the stardom.

As the bitter overtakes the sweet from present to past and back to the present, the past comes back to call on Gerry, a call he’s none too happy or willing to answer. Mark is looking for forgiveness and another chance to do right by the man he’d betrayed two decades before, a private failure that overshadowed nearly every surface of his public success. This was the point of total emotional engagement in the story for me, as Henley doesn’t make this reunion in any way easy. Gerry harbors so much hurt and resentment toward Mark for abandoning him in what he came to believe was their one-sided love affair, a resentment we eventually see as the pain of that abandonment seeping through the knowledge he’d never truly stopped loving his betrayer.

While the greater part of the resolution of conflict between Gerry and Mark takes place off-page, something I’d have preferred to see play out in more intimate detail, the satisfaction comes from those twenty years not simply being swept under the proverbial rug. While we don’t see the slow repair of Gerry’s heart, we are given a timeline of the building of this new and more solidly grounded relationship, which eventually leads to a sweet and heartwarming end.

I can’t profess to reading all of A.F. Henley’s books, but I can say I’ve not read one yet that has disappointed. Baby’s on Fire is no exception, and would recommend it when you’re in the mood for a not-quite-contemporary, not-quite-historical romance that makes its couple work for their happy ending.

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You can pre-order Baby’s on Fire here:

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K. Lynn, Less Than Three Press

Guest Post and Excerpt: Coffee Date by K. Lynn

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This year, a number of my releases are focusing on transgender characters, including Coffee Date. What if society has deemed you to be one gender when you are actually another? And how might these perceptions affect you as you work towards being the person you were always meant to be?

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CoffeeDateBlurb: Alice is finally happy with her body and her life—except for the part where revealing she’s trans winds up leaving her hurt and abandoned over and over again. She’s decided she’s done making herself miserable by looking for love.

Love finds her anyway, in the form of Hank, the new guy at her local coffee shop. He’s sweet, friendly, charming… and will probably turn out like all the rest. Determined not to shatter the fantasy and lose him before she has to, Alice holds fast to her secrets.

But if the truth doesn’t ruin everything, the lies will, and it seems no matter which choice she makes Alice is set for just one more heartache.

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Alice’s journey is not an easy one. She’s been hurt numerous times when she’s sought to share her true self with others, so much so that she’s started to put up a wall against the world. And she continues to strive to reach milestones that are not necessarily her own. Alice is constantly trying to match up to what she thinks she should be, what society has taught her she should be, while making herself miserable because she hasn’t reached that constructed reality. When love enters into the mix, it gets messy. She has to let someone into her heart, behind her wall, and trust that this time will not end in disaster. Is taking the chance worth it?

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Excerpt: Alice danced around in front of the mirror, trying to reach back far enough to pull up the zipper on her dress. She didn’t know why she kept the damn thing, considering it was always a hassle to get it on. Finally, she managed to snag the metal tag and bring it up. Tugging on the material bunched at her sides, she took a look at herself in the mirror. Her hair had suffered for her acrobatics, so she ran her fingers through it to put the escaped strands back in place, but otherwise she was fine. And she was running twenty minutes ahead of schedule. Maybe she would actually make it to work on time for once.

She was so close to being out the door, her hand was on the door handle and everything, when the phone rang. Alice briefly considered not answering it. No one needed her at eight o’clock in the morning; it was probably a telemarketer or something. Seriously, she should just leave. But what if something was wrong? And if she ignored it, the worry would just haunt her all day long. Giving a sigh, she snagged the portable phone off the side table and answered.

“Oh, good, you’re home,” Mary said, not bothering with a proper greeting. “I thought you might have left already.”

“I was just heading out and…”

“This’ll be quick, I promise.”

Which meant it would take a while. Alice had learned to decipher Mary’s promises long ago. She sat down on the couch and waited for her best friend to continue.

“Did you get an invitation in the mail yesterday?”

Alice thought about the stack of envelopes that were still sitting on her kitchen table. She’d thrown everything down last night, too tired from work stress to deal with a bunch of bills, figuring she’d just go through it later.

“What kind of invitation?” she asked, already heading to the kitchen. “I haven’t checked.”

“Well, do it. You’ll know it when you see it.”

“Why don’t you just tell me what I’m looking for? I don’t have time for this.”

She broke off her words when she saw the cream-colored envelope with a return address of her alma mater, which she and Mary had graduated from five years ago. Running her fingers under the seal, she opened it up and saw the stylized card inviting her to attend a reunion of her class. And it was signed with a familiar name.

“Winston Carver requests the honor of our presence,” Mary said when Alice remained silent.

“I’d rather give him the honor of a foot up his ass,” Alice said, tossing the invitation in the trash in disgust.

Mary busted out a laugh at that. “I think we should go just to fuck with him. Give him a little payback for the misery he caused us.”

“Mostly to me,” Alice said, remembering all the torture Winston had put her through during junior year. She’d started transitioning from Al to Alice and didn’t have an easy time as her features started changing and her emotions ran the gambit from anger to tears. Mary had been her rock, standing beside her and supporting her, but Winston couldn’t get past the freak aspect of what Al was becoming. He took particular delight in calling her every derogatory name he could think of, goading others to take part in the taunts as well.

“I bet he’s still a screw-up,” Mary said. “Probably running his daddy’s car dealership and hitting on anything that moves.”

“Well, I don’t care to find out. I had enough of him and his buddies at the time. I don’t need a repeat.”

“Still, it might be fun.”

“Yeah, well, not for me.” Alice glanced over at the microwave clock and her eyes widened as saw that it read eight forty. “Damn it, how’d it get so late? I’ve got to get to work.”

“Think about it.”

“Fine, whatever,” Alice said, gathering up her lunch one-handed. She stuffed it into her purse and headed back to the living room. “I’ll see you tonight?”

“Reservations are at seven. Talk to you then.”

“Later.” Alice thumbed the off button and replaced the receiver on its dock. Having left no time for breakfast, she hoped the line at Cafe Connection wasn’t too long as she headed out.

As luck would have it, there were only two people in front of her when she stopped at the coffee shop. When the place opened just a block from her building last year, she was wary of its sustainability. The small shops often started off with high hopes, but soon collapsed under the economic pressures of having to compete against the larger chains. Cafe Connection, however, had stayed put and even started gaining customers from its larger competitors when word got out about how wonderful their products were. Alice had to admit she had fallen hard for the place and was now known as a regular, stopping in for a cup of coffee on her way to work every morning. Well, when she could spare the time, at least.

The line to the counter started moving again and she dug into her purse for her wallet. Hopefully she had enough cash for an item from the bakery to go along with her drink. The phone call with Mary had put her behind and she didn’t know if she could survive the morning with no food. Plus, it was Tuesday, which meant there were fresh-baked apple cinnamon muffins available. She could already smell them, and her stomach grumbled at the temptation.

“The usual,” Alice said, not looking up. Instead, she continued counting through her change, trying to scrape up enough for her muffin. She really should have gone to the bank yesterday, but she forgot. Her debit card had met with an unfortunate accident in the dryer last week, so she was left to nickel and dime her way through her morning routine.

“I don’t know what the usual is,” a male voice said, causing her to glance up.

She knew everyone that worked here, at least by sight, and the man in front of her was definitely not someone she recognized. He was tall, but built solid with muscle, and would have looked more at home in a gym than behind the counter of a coffee shop.

“Who are you?” she asked, still jarred by the change in her routine. She shook her head once she realized what she’d said. “I’m sorry, that was rude.”

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About the Book: Coffee Date is a 12,000 word contemporary transgender novella that explores Alice’s struggle to find acceptance, and possibly love, in a world that has not been kind to her on either front.

Release Date: July 1, 2015

Pre-Order Now At: Less Than Three Press

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writerklynnAbout the Author: K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn’s work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works expand in the future.

Contact K. Lynn at writerklynn@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @WriterKLynn

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3 Stars, E.E. Ottoman, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Review: Winter’s Bees by E.E. Ottoman

Title: Winter’s Bees (Mechanical Universe: Book Three)

Author: E.E. Ottoman

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 105 Pages

At a Glance: A decent entry to a series set in an interesting world, but this story is filled with overused elements.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Lord Marcel de la Mont de Anges, the Marquis de Montespan is a brilliant mathematician, member of the mechanical animation movement and all around dandy. He’s been in love with shy, quiet entomologist and youngest member of the royal family, Prince Gilbert André XVI, since they were children. The Emperor’s plans to arrange a marriage between Marcel and Gilbert should have been the answer to all his secret fantasies.

But Gilbert is still reeling from a nasty breakup, and he cannot picture the man he regards as a brother becoming his lover. The order to marry has thrown their relationship into disorder, and if they cannot sort out the changes there may not even be a friendship left for them to save…

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Review: If you haven’t read the other books in this series, you don’t need to in order to understand this series. Each book has its own characters and storylines, though Winter’s Bees does mention characters that appear in the other stories. Maybe their mention will make you want to read the others if you haven’t already.

I enjoy E.E. Ottoman’s writing, and this book is no different, though I did find the characters to be tedious at times. Perhaps it was just that the elements of the story are common enough to be overused, and I wanted something more.

For example, Marcel is beautiful, and he is in love with his childhood friend, Gilbert. Gilbert, on the other hand, is not in love with Marcel, and he doesn’t want to marry him out of convenience, for his father’s sake. But, of course, what the Emperor wants, the Emperor gets. And, well, Marcel is happy with the situation. What follows is some angst and miscommunication between the two men. They don’t discuss things, which would clear things up really fast. But, then, I guess there wouldn’t be a story.

What is different about this book is the nature of the characters. They’re not your typical heroes, and that’s one of the reasons I love Ottoman’s stories. Gilbert is short, stocky, and not entirely attractive. And it’s not just him saying that about himself, but everyone says it. He’s also an entomologist. He studies BUGS. A prince that studies bugs? You have to admit that’s kind of cool. And then there’s Marcel. Marcel has a disability, but this doesn’t get in his way of life, and people still consider him beautiful, which is refreshing. And he’s not just a dandy who exists to look pretty, but a brilliant mathematician as well.

The world also embraces same-sex relationships, so this isn’t a problem. Gilbert’s father understands he’s attracted to men, so he plans his betrothal accordingly rather than going against his wishes. That’s fairly unique as well. Too often I’ve read stories where, yes, same-sex marriage is accepted, but if you’re a member of the royal family, “sorry, you need to suck it up for the sake of the bloodlines.”

Plus, there is the twisted steampunk elements. It’s not quite Victorian, but it seems close to it, and it’s not completely steampunk, but it’s there. Maybe as a bridge for those who want to test the genre out?

Overall, I would say this was an enjoyable story. While some of the elements are commonly used in other books, if you can look past this, you’ll read about a fascinating world and atypical heroes.

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4 Stars, Anthology, Holiday Romance, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Angel

Whaddaya Know, It’s Christmas in April – A Touch of Mistletoe from LT3 Press

Title: A Touch Of Mistletoe

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 182 Pages

At a Glance: An enjoyable mix of stories that had me visiting all ranges of the emotional spectrum.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Less Than Three Press presents a collection of stories about people brought together by the magic of mistletoe…

Here for You by J.K. Pendragon
Warren’s life has been shrinking ever since his wife passed away. Blind, and finding it difficult to adjust to life on his own, it’s easier to hide away in his house. When his friend Missy invites him to a Christmas party, an unexpected kiss with a stranger under the mistletoe leaves him confused and wondering…

The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor
Christmas in Japan is no big deal for Ash Harmon, with his family half a world away and supernatural problems that have no respect for the holidays. When he picks up a bodyguard job for a rising star of figure skating who seems to be encountering trouble with a restless spirit, he stubbornly resists the unexpected attraction to his charge, wary of the risks that come with relationships. But the mistletoe has other ideas…

A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley
Sometimes, Fate gets tired of being ignored. And some nights, Fate decides something will just have to be done about it. Enter Drualus, Senior Correspondent for the Collective Assembly of Christmas Fae, working with the Night Before Reach Out Program. He’s got a few short hours to change Scott Misener’s outlook on life, love, and understanding. Lucky for Scott, Dru knows a tried and true trope that might just do the trick…

Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman
It’s Christmas Eve and An-An and M.C. have plans to spend Christmas in Texas with An-An’s family. But their plans are cut short when M.C. takes on a last minute case. Thankfully, though, it should be an easy exorcism.

Until they arrive at the snowbound lodge where trouble resides, and come face to face with a demon wolf unlike anything they’ve ever encountered.

Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr
Kingston has worked hard to get where he is: owner of his own shop, master potion maker, well-respected… and lonely, too busy with life to enjoy more than his regular visits to Acacia House. If he wishes his loneliness might be eased by Hux, the man he meets at Acacia twice a month, well, someday he’ll work up the nerve to ask. Maybe.

Then Hux unexpectedly visits his shop, distressed and in desperate need of help to save his employer from a love potion…

Dividers

Review: I really enjoyed this diverse mix of stories, and the settings and themes.

Here for You by J.K. Pendragon: An odd sort of GFY/Bi-curious story and even now, I still don’t quite know how I feel about it. It was well written and had atmosphere, but the situation left me with something not unlike a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Warren was kind of a jerk to Kyung, and it also seemed as if Kyung was pushing Warren into the relationship. Not a very good start to things, in my opinion. However, I did like the individual characterization of both men, and the added details of the Korean culture were interesting. I’m not certain I’ll go looking for more of this new-to-me author’s works or not, but I won’t go out of my way to avoid it either.

The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor: Another new-to-me author and a very interesting story with a Japanese and Southern flair this time. I loved the details about the culture and how Ash adjusted to being in a foreign country. The paranormal aspect and world building was fun, and I enjoyed that it had its roots in the real world. I will definitely seek out more by this author.

A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley: A cute and hilarious retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I so loved this one. I felt totally onboard with Scott and his grumpiness about the holiday, and when he goes off on a child whose parent was otherwise engaged, I laughed out loud. Who hasn’t wanted to scream at both the child and parent of said child when they are being rude, and you are given the excuse of ‘kids will be kids’?

Anyway, the reactions to Scott’s tirade were spot on, and I adored the changes to the script from there on as well. Dru was rather annoying at times, but I loved him as the Christmas Past/Present/Future vehicle, and I liked the way the ending wasn’t set in stone. Also, I adored that Scott’s awareness afterward was more along the lines of ‘gee, I need to quit being such an asshat’ than the ‘Magic of Christmas saved me’. I will look for more of this new-to-me author’s work.

Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman: Let me first say that finding a F/F story in the middle of what I thought was a M/M romance anthology was a surprise, but I went with it. I love the lady loving as well. Then, while in the midst of the awesome paranormal world building, it is thrown at you that one of the characters is transgender. Not a problem, again, love is love, I say. I was, however, thrown a bit by the overly clinical descriptions and pronoun usage. This just seemed to come out of nowhere. Perhaps it is just my unfamiliarity with transgender characters, but it was quite confusing, though I loved how accepting An-An was. The MC’s reaction was a bit off-putting, especially as she was the assertive character asking for the changes, and then she was suddenly reserved with An-An after their talk. Next, we have a bit of danger, which was great in moving forward the paranormal aspect, then the paranormal mystery was over, finished off-screen in a wrap-up talk between An-An and MC. One venue change and the focus of the rest of the story was on An-An and MC’s unexpectedly descriptive version of kinky sex and talk. I’m not certain I’ll go back for more of this author’s work, unfortunately.

Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr: New-to-me author and I loved this story. I would have enjoyed more world building because the story was just that magical. I liked all the details for the potion making. I adored Kingston and Hux. They were so sweet on one another. I will definitely seek out more of this author’s work.

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3 Stars, Historical Romance, Less Than Three Press, R.M. Jane, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: The Diary by R.M. Jane

Title: The Diary

Author: R.M. Jane

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 161 Pages

At a Glance: The Diary doesn’t sustain its early charm through to the end.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: John Bridly has been enamored with Paul Duvant, son a of a rich American merchant, since the moment he laid eyes on him. But though the love proves mutual, John is a marquess, second son of a duke, and as such has a duty to his family.

When Paul has to return to his homeland, John’s duty forbids him from following Paul, and the lovers part ways. One year later, John finds a mysterious diary, dated from the last century…

Dividers

Review: R.M. Jane’s The Diary is a short novel that gets off to a promising start, as we’re introduced to Paul Duvant. Paul is a street rat and the bastard son of an obscenely wealthy American who’d rejected both his mistress and Paul; then, Paul’s mother subsequently abandoned him as well. Rather than defeating the boy, though, his hardships have left him scrappy and suspicious of everyone, save for his sister Emily, whom he adores, and the affection is mutual. The author makes it easy to warm up to Paul and feel the empathy for him one would naturally feel toward any child left to fend for himself in a world he’d never asked to be born into.

For reasons, none of which include caring about Paul but more about looking after his daughters’ futures, his father takes him in and subsequently buys the boy’s way into an English boarding school populated by aristocratic young snobs who hate Paul on sight, simply for being the son of an American merchant. It’s at this point we get a clearer picture of the boy, and a bit of foreshadowing of the man he’ll become—Paul is nothing if not a survivor.

John Bridly is one of these aristos, but that’s where his likeness to most of the other boys at the school ends. He’s the spare son of a Duke who doesn’t take much interest in his second son. John is largely dismissed by both of his parents, which puts him in immediate sympathy with Paul. John has been assigned to look out for Paul, though he soon discovers the new student is quite adept at taking care of himself. John, however, soon becomes Paul’s dearest friend and champion. I liked both of these characters from the outset, and enjoyed the sweet and subtle way their relationship blossomed from friends to lovers. Unfortunately for me, however, the book didn’t sustain its early charm through to the end.

If you’re a reader of historical romance, you can guess at the plot of this book—the social climate, the pressure for John to marry and fulfill his duty to title and family, the desire for a son to finally be accepted by his father—these are familiar tropes in gay historical romance in which an aristocrat and a commoner are involved. They were not only very real issues for those men who needed to keep up appearances, but they also offer a convenient means of conflict for an author in a historical setting. The challenge we lovers of historicals give an author, then, is to deliver a fresh and believable twist to the relationship, especially if there’s to be a happily ever after ending. Or, to give us a side story that complements the romance and keeps the action moving forward, pulling us along with it. Without these things, The Diary sadly became a fairly commonplace 19th century gay romance, with characters who created their own conflict, held grudges, and finally gave in to their feelings on the way to their fairy tale ending. Even the inclusion of the diary alluded to in the title I felt offered only a convenient means of resolution, something both characters could have come up with on their own if they’d tried hard enough, so when all was said and done, it felt more a handy coincidence than a unique way of bringing Paul and John together again, especially since its significance to John largely fell by the wayside as the story continued.

Having said that, I’ll admit I’m demanding when it comes to historical fiction, and I have a few expectations in the genre that others might not share, which is why I won’t say The Diary is unreadable. I will say, though, one of the things that pulled me out of the story, time after time, was the contemporary language, some of it very easily researched modern slang, that wasn’t appropriate to the post-Napoleonic era setting. Picky? Yes, I own that, and I’m sorry to say that this, paired with the middling plot, left me disappointed in what began with so much potential, with characters I felt quite a lot of compassion for.

While I can’t say I loved this book and would recommend it, I can say that if you enjoy a romance with a healthy dose of missteps, misunderstandings, and melodrama, The Diary is a book you might be interested in taking a chance on.






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4.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Less Than Three Press, Megan Derr

Review: Shine Forever by Megan Derr

Title: Shine Forever (Missing Butterfly: Book Three)

Author: Megan Derr

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 130 Pages

At a Glance: Shine Forever is a book you can dive into and enjoy, and I recommend it highly.

Reviewed By: Janet

Blurb: Dai gave up everything when he ran away with his cousin, traded a life of wealth, power, and security to create their band and live the way they want. The one thing he refuses to do is hide; he’s worked way too hard, and given up way too much, to pretend to be something he’s not.

Cooper never anticipated he would trade rodeo fame for country music stardom. But the secret he had to keep for his own safety is now a secret he has to keep to protect his band. The one thing he can never do is make his sexuality public; he’s sacrificed far too much to risk it all by airing personal matters.

But when a chance meeting turns into a passionate night that neither can forget, a tenuous relationship neither wants to let go, someone is going to have to break the rules…

Dividers

Review: I really enjoyed this story! Megan Derr set a whole lot of conflicts into motion and took us along on the ride with Dai and Cooper as they all came into play. Dai is a colorful little rocker, and Cooper is a tall drink of cowboy. I was hooked at their first meeting.

What was great about this book is that the author has the skill to create visual images with her characters, so I read the book with a movie reel playing in my head. And not just the MCs either. Members of the two bands are fully fleshed out, through both commentary and character interactions we can follow along with. With subplots and background fillers to round out the backstory, we can enjoy a robust plot that plays out vividly.

This book was engaging on so many levels. The rock star/country star world was realistically built, with performance issues, song writing, production and promotion values, touring schedules, etc., to give a solid base for the characters to grow and interact against. The relationship that develops between Dai and Cooper was handled perfectly, in my opinion; breakaway hot sex at their first meeting, then a few more meet ups leading to a friendship that turns into a relationship. During this process a discussion of status occurs – out, obviously, for Dai; gay but not out for Cooper – and how they will react with each other is established, with privacy the focus and their relationship hidden. It feels natural, just like the bit of kink they share; it is for them and no one else.

When it blows up the twist is awesome, as a plot line is revealed and another one hinted at. The reader is surprised by the events, but we feel like we shouldn’t be; the stage was set for us, but we didn’t quite see it coming. I loved the way Megan Derr brought all the storylines together for the ending, letting Dai and Cooper have their HEA but not closing the door on the rest of the characters, so there is hope for maybe another book from this world. The overall pace of this book was fast, simply because the story was so entertaining and fresh, and the details were spot on. The plot is solid and this made it even better. Shine Forever is a book you can dive into and enjoy, and I recommend it highly.






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3 Stars, Jaidon Wells, Less Than Three Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Short Story

Review: Everyone’s a Casualty by Jaidon Wells

Title: Everyone’s a Casualty 

Author: Jaidon Wells

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 41 Pages

At a Glance: Short story with interesting characters but is difficult to follow.

Blurb: Joel is more in love with a fantasy world, and one of his own characters, than he is with his own life. He spends his days slipping between reality and the world on the other side of his bedroom door, drifting from day to day with no sense of direction.

But something is haunting the world he’s created, and when it slips out into the real world Joel must choose: surrender the world he loves, or tear it down.

Dividers

Review: Sometimes it’s difficult to describe something you’ve read. This is one of those times. Everyone’s a Casualty is a short story with a character who lives for his fantasy world. He struggles with adjusting to reality, and throughout the story it’s hard to tell exactly what reality is.

Joel is a writer and he has created this circus-like world, with characters who are part machine and have two heads, shapeshift, etc. But something he hasn’t created gets into his world and starts to take it down. Joel has to solve the mystery and discover what it is, or risk losing the world he loves so much.

While the idea of the story was interesting, it was so fast paced I had a difficult time understanding what was happening. Often my reaction fell along the lines of, “What the hell did I just read?” I did like Joel and I felt for him, though, because sometimes fantasy is better than reality, and I’d like to be there, too.

The ending lost me, though. I thought I had some things figured out, but then it twisted and I really don’t know. I guess this is just one of those stories I didn’t get. Is Joel mentally unstable? Has his world completely consumed him? Has he finally stepped back into reality? Was it all just a story he wrote? I would love to hear what other readers think!

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2.5 Stars, Less Than Three Press, Megan Derr, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Rabbit Season by Megan Derr

Title: Rabbit Season (Lost Shifters: Book Two)

Author: Megan Derr

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Pages/Word Count: 69 Pages

At a Glance: Interesting shifters and pairing, but ultimately the story fell short.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Sidney has quietly loved twin brothers Brook and Colby for years, watching and pining as they came to his house for the summer every year. Painfully aware that they have each other, have no reason to notice the unremarkable duck they grew up babysitting.

Then the twins and their mother are attacked days before an important meeting that will change the shifter world forever. When the twins come to stay with Sidney’s family until the attackers are caught, Sidney learns that all things have their season, and even violent protests will not keep two rabbits from the man for whom they’ve been patiently waiting…

Dividers

Review: First off, I will admit I did not know this was a series until I finished the book, but it does not in any way affect this story. This book can stand alone. The characters from the first book do make a brief appearance, however, so if you want to know Skylar’s story, make sure you read the first book.

Okay, on to the review of Rabbit Season. I was really excited to read the blurb, as it looked interesting. I mean, who doesn’t love a good shifter story, right? And this one certainly seemed unique. Most shifter books involve predatory animals like wolves, lions, etc., so the fact that this one has ducks and rabbits was pretty intriguing. I’ve read shifter books with non-predators before, but they’re few and far between in the genre, and I have never read one with rabbits. Plus there’s the whole twincest aspect. But, while I was excited to read it, the book fell short.

That’s not to say the story wasn’t good, because Megan Derr had a great concept. However, it was just too much packed into too short a story. Clocking in at less than 25000 words, there just wasn’t enough space to tell Sidney, Brook, and Colby’s story and do it the justice it deserved. Too much tries to happen.

Take the romance between the twins and Sidney. It comes on fast and sudden. Granted, they are rabbits and get busy quickly, but it just seemed pretty unbelievable, given how shy Sidney is supposed to be around the twins. None of the boys seemed to act their age, either. Sidney is supposedly twenty, and the twins twenty-six, but their words and manners made me feel they were much younger, which bothered me.

They did have some funny moments, though. I loved the banter between Sidney and his dads. It was pretty funny. And then there was Sidney’s voice. When he wasn’t sounding too young, he made me laugh with how he expressed himself.

The conflict resolution was too neatly tied up. There is supposed to be something big at stake which involves the lives of the twins and their mother, but when it came down to the wire, it just…ended neatly. I wanted more. More tension, more drama, more risk.

This story could have easily been twice as long, and I think it really deserved that. The complexity of the duck society is only hinted at, and the shifter relations needed more exploration that just fell short in this book.

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