5 Stars, JP Kenwood, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Games of Rome by JP Kenwood

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Games of Rome (Dominus: Book Two)

Author: JP Kenwood

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 339 Pages

At a Glance: If you love a plotty and well written historical with plenty of intrigue and interesting characters, I can’t recommend this series enough.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: In this sequel to Dominus, Gaius Fabius Rufus, the victorious general of Rome’s brutal Dacian Wars, finds his loyalties and his affections pulled in different directions. Should he return to Rome and secure his claim to the imperial throne, or remain at his seaside villa and protect his pleasure slave, the fierce Dacian prince, Allerix? Retaliation for the murder of his beloved friend beckons him home, but his desire for justice could put both him and Allerix in mortal danger. As Gaius’s deceptions multiply, another tragedy strikes. Will the Lion of the Lucky IV Legion be forced to sacrifice his besotted heart to achieve his aspirations for supreme power?

Every moment since Allerix’s violent capture has tested the young prince’s fortitude and cunning. If he can kill the triumphant emperor who decimated his Dacian nation, revenge and immortality will be his glorious, everlasting rewards. But to realize his scheme for vengeance, he must deceive the Roman master whose body he lusts, the handsome, arrogant man whom he has grown to adore and admire. Can two former enemies—the conqueror and the conquered—find trust and true love, or are the consequences of war destined to tear them apart? Can Gaius and Allerix survive the perilous games of Rome?

Dominus is a plot-packed erotic m/m fantasy set in ancient Rome during the reign of Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117). Games of Rome is the second book in this alternative history saga—a tumultuous journey of forbidden love, humor, sex, friendship, political intrigue, deception, and murder.

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Review: I love when a book meets every one of my expectations. I love even more when a book exceeds them, and JP Kenwood’s Games of Rome does just that in every way. I was so impressed by the author’s Dominus, and now, that book’s sequel has proven Kenwood’s talent for solid storytelling, building beautiful settings, offering the perfect amount of historical context, creating engaging and layered characters, and tapping into readers’ emotions. I don’t mind admitting this book wrung a few tears from me either. When an author can accomplish that, forming those sorts of attachments between reader and characters, it makes the reading all the more rewarding.

Gaius Fabius Rufus, the Lion of the Lucky Fourth, is many things–Commander, war hero, husband, master, and friend and former lover of Lucius Petronius. Where this book exceeded my expectations is not only that the historical setting is portrayed in such a way that grounds the reader in what feels like an authentic Ancient Rome, but that the book also is a compelling mystery–both in the past and in modern day Rome. Lucius’s murder becomes a central focus of Games of Rome as we watch Gaius grieve, promise retribution, seek absolution while often seeming a walking contradiction–warm and tender one moment, cold and commanding the next, charming and sometimes cruel. Gaius is nothing if not a mercurial man whose arrogance seems to know no bounds–if I’m being honest, he isn’t always easy to like–but is tempered by that ability to charm. Where the book offers a bit of the unexpected, however, is in its supernatural elements. This was so unexpected that I wasn’t certain how I felt about it at first, but it was woven into the storyline in such a way that became integral to the plot, and now I can’t imagine how the story would have been better without it. As for the modern day mystery, this is being teased out in the tiniest of morsels, and this installment has only served to pique my interest even more. Archeology uncovers its share of secrets from the past, though it doesn’t always provide answers. There are definitely more questions than answers right now surrounding the pair of skeletons discovered at a dig site, and I haven’t a clue what JP Kenwood will reveal in further storylines. All I know for sure is that the author baited that hook and I’m hanging on gladly.

From the Emperor to clients to slaves, Gaius has a life filled with a variety of diverse people and experiences, all entrenched in the Ancient Roman culture and portrayed beautifully in these books. I don’t know much about this historical period but can say Kenwood seems to have not only an interest in but an affinity for the era. Ancient Rome dominated, it was the seat of some of the world’s most impressive art and architecture, and the Romans were responsible for many advancements in civilization at the time, but, to our sensibilities, it was also a barbaric time in which people sat in arenas and watched prisoners of war be eaten for sport. Slavery was commonplace – both household servants and pleasure slaves, male and female, owned by both Gaius and his wife, Marcia – and these books feature several prominent slaves in key roles. Sex, for Gauis, is a near sport in itself, where he can display his prowess and dominance and, with one slave in particular, his benevolence, and those moments of contradictory cruel tenderness come to the fore. Alle, a Dacian prince, war prize, and now, Gaius’s most prized possession, has captured his Dominus’s heart and has added another dimension of intrigue to the plot. Their relationship is fraught with complications and questions and potential hazards. Can either of these men manage not to betray each other? I can hardly see how it will be avoided and am anxious to see how their relationship progresses.

One of the more interesting characteristics of this series is Gaius’s marriage, as well as the social contradiction of men having sex with other men. There is no expectation of monogamy in the marriage as is certainly portrayed on Gaius’s part; nor is bisexuality strictly taboo. It was, however, unacceptable for men to engage in a sexual relationship with a peer. Same sex encounters were left strictly between slave and master, which is what adds such a poignant end note to Gaius and Lucius’s affair. I love that these books are informative but not in a textbook way. The author weaves these small details into the plot in a way that makes them all the more interesting, and, when it comes down to it, makes this series unique in the LGBT fiction genre.

If you love a plotty and well written historical with plenty of intrigue and interesting characters, I can’t recommend this series enough.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

 

You can buy Games of Rome here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Smashwords

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

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Christian Baines, Giveaways

Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway: Puppet Boy by Christian Baines

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Please join me in welcoming author Christian Baines to The Novel Approach today to chat about his new novel from Bold Strokes Books, Puppet Boy. There’s also an excerpt from the book as well as the change to win an e-copy of Puppet Boy, so don’t forget to click on the Rafflecopter widget to enter.

Good luck!

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I had no problem with people knowing I was bisexual. But I had no inclination to hold any banners nor be a representative of any group of people.” – David Bowie

Anyone who reads Puppet Boy’s blurb will see that high school senior Eric has a lot on his plate. But when an attractive budding actor named Julien transfers to his class, Eric’s initial scepticism soon turns to fascination. Could Julian in fact be his muse? Even his first boyfriend? That could be problematic. Eric and his girlfriend Mary have been inseparable since they were twelve. But Mary is more complicated than she seems, and for that matter, so is Julien.

Puppet Boy’s characters are a diverse spread. Some are gay, some are straight, some are bi, most aren’t putting labels on it, and no-one is particularly in crisis over their sexuality. They have far more interesting problems. The main plot surrounds the arts clique of an elite Christian high school in Sydney, meaning there are plenty of insecurities to go around. I tend to describe the novel as ‘What if Glee was instead the brainchild of Bret Easton Ellis and Gregg Araki?’ They were certainly big influences on it. But I feel those stories also have something in terms of LGBT acceptance that’s kind of faded in the last twenty years – a casual, but unmistakeable sense of bi visibility, usually without ever putting the label out there.

So where did those stories go? As gay culture has gone so mainstream, and our embrace of gay themes has become more earnest, bi characters have been increasingly shuffled off under broad ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ labels depending on who they’re with at the time. Or their bisexuality is depicted as a character flaw. It’s almost as if it isn’t ‘gay-positive’ enough if a character is bi, or it’s seen as a compromise or half-way point. ‘Oh, Willow can’t be bi. She’s with a woman, so she’s obviously gay now.’ So how does an author try to avoid that?

The tricky thing about tackling bi erasure is that sometimes, erasing labels is exactly the point. Unlike monosexuality which is demonstrated through the gender of our partners, bisexuality is rarely obvious unless the person tells you. As for all those great stories that came out in the 80’s and 90’s featuring sexual fluidity, they were, like Bowie, never out to represent bisexuals in earnest. They just played those characters truthfully and if you didn’t like it or it scared you, then, too bad. You obviously didn’t get it. In that vein, there’s no attempt in Puppet Boy to represent.

The novel’s job is to tell a story, not wave a flag, and unless someone is waving that flag or is in a polyamorous relationship, their bisexuality isn’t really overt. That makes it no less present or real than another person’s homo or heterosexuality, yet for whatever reason, our culture frames it as a tool or weapon rather than a sexual identity, insisting that someone who switches from a male partner to female or vice versa is ‘coming out,’ ‘going gay for you,’ or ‘ending a phase.’

While our pro-LGBT rights world is perfectly comfortable with the idea of bisexuality, our culture struggles to understand or accept the actuality. Glee, for all its supposed pro-gay milestones, introduced female bisexuality couched in titillation clichés, establishing its only major bisexual character as a relatively safe, cutesy, ditsy white girl. Then there’s its disastrous ‘Blame It on the Alcohol’ episode, which pays lip service to acknowledging bi-phobia before safely returning Blaine to the land of gay. Compare that with Skyfall, in which Daniel Craig’s Bond casually hints there might be male lovers in 007’s past. That single, quiet moment, in a mainstream action movie – a Bond movie, no less – was huge. It didn’t out the character as bi. It simply reminded us all that that wasn’t so far-fetched. Bisexuals could be heroes, villains, out and proud, quiet and reserved, in relationships, single, monogamous, poly, promiscuous, selective, chaste, more into men, more into women…everywhere and everything was within reach, right up to being James freakin’ Bond.

I don’t think there’s any trick to writing bisexual characters, so much as keeping in mind the way people treat bisexuality. Many won’t realise or acknowledge it, even if they themselves are bi. Or sometimes they’ll come out as gay because they feel it’s easier. We live in a culture that’s currently obsessed with sexual labels, and so do the characters of Puppet Boy. Deep down, they know they might be selling themselves and each other short, but they still find the idea of a fully fledged bisexual identity threatening, particularly for a man, or within themselves, so they retreat to fallacies like ‘gay for you.’ That might frustrate a few readers, and it does make them unreliable narrators in a sense, but it’s true to how I felt a seventeen or eighteen year old might realistically think or talk in a culture that still tends to dismiss sexual fluidity.

Of course it’s never just a matter of liking women or men or both. Countless factors determine attraction and comfort with intimacy. So I tried to focus on the feelings, not the gender of the characters and love interests in Puppet Boy. Characters might be into one person and not another, and not know exactly why. They can want sex and nothing else, or be totally in love with little or no sexual attraction. They can be messy, selfish, and screwed up, and to me, that’s interesting. That’s more reflective of what we’re like as people.

Puppet Boy isn’t a romance, MMF, MM, or otherwise. It’s also not some kind of bi manifesto, and its characters certainly aren’t role models. I do think more bi role models in fiction would be a great thing, but character came before sexuality in Puppet Boy, and to be honest, I find morally dubious characters more fun. So this was never going to be a book about role models or heroes. Instead, it’s a dark coming of age story that simply embraces the characters’ sexual fluidity as part of who they are. Eric’s primary goal never changes. His sexual exploration travels in tandem with it. When exactly he accepts his sexual identity doesn’t matter. He’s not going to look back in twenty years and think ‘Wasn’t I a good/bad bisexual?’ He’s going to remember the people he cared about, and the people who hurt him. In Puppet Boy, he finds plenty of both.

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PuppetBoyBlurb: A school in turmoil over its senior play, a sly career as a teenage gigolo, an unpredictable girlfriend with damage of her own, and a dangerous housebreaker tied up downstairs. Any of these would make a great plot for budding filmmaker Eric’s first movie.

Unfortunately, they’re his real life.

When Julien, a handsome wannabe actor, transfers to Eric’s class, he’s a distraction, a rival, and one complication too many. Yet Eric can’t stop thinking about him. Helped by Eric’s girlfriend, Mary, they embark on a project that dangerously crosses the line between filmmaking and reality. As the boys become close, Eric soon wants to cross other lines entirely. Does Julien feel the same way, or is Eric being used on the gleefully twisted path to fame?

Buy Links: Bold Strokes Books || Amazon || Book Depository

Add it to your virtual bookshelf on Goodreads

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Excerpt: “Eric, where are we going?” Mary giggled as she ran to keep up with him.

“Harley said we could rehearse where we wanted, and the script says ‘another part of the forest.’ Come on!” He took her hand as they jumped over rocks and fallen branches, heading deeper into the wild parkland that backed onto Christian Fellowship’s grounds.

“Have you been back here before?” she asked.

“No.”

“We could get in a shitload of trouble.”

“For taking a walk?” Eric pulled Mary close to him and clasped her hands in his, bearing down on her with an evil grin. “The trouble starts when I cut thy tongue and ravish thee!”

“Jules? Come on! You’re missing the fun!”

“Oh yeah.” Julien almost tripped over a rock as he staggered towards them. “Because I don’t want to miss the tongue cutting. That shit’s ace.”

“Fine, you cut the tongue, and I’ll ravish.” Eric knew Jules hadn’t been thrilled with the change of part or the lost opportunity to play Felicity Turner’s lover, but nobody had forced it on him. Eric was happy to do it for Mary. Who’d twisted Julien’s arm?

“Come on! Get with the ravishing already!” Mary snapped playfully, pulling down her blouse to show off three inches of modest cleavage.

“You mean you actually have breasts? Oh sweet and terrible temptation,” Eric mocked, taking out the script and flipping pages. He skimmed the text as she pulled down her blouse some more. “You know, when Shakespeare was around, they’d have tossed you out as a whore for doing that.”

“When Shakespeare was around, they’d have Jules playing Lavinia.”

“Fair call.”

“Huh?” Julien frowned.

“They usually didn’t let girls on stage.” Eric enlightened him. “Relax. She’s stirring you up.” After their encounter with Andy, Eric wasn’t prepared to cast further doubts on Julien’s masculinity. At least, not yet.

“Yeah, I know all about that. You know that’s where the word ‘drag’ comes from, right? Boy enters ‘DRessed As Girl?’”

“Umm, yes.”

“So, is that what you want your dad to think?” Julien asked Mary.

Eric gritted his teeth, wishing Julien would shut up. But the stupid jock wasn’t looking at him.

“What?” Mary asked.

“That you’re a whore?”

Mary smirked at him, and Eric relaxed, unable to resist a smile of his own. Everyone needed a goal. Topping Mary’s father’s shit list was more satisfying than most within their immediate reach.

“Okay.” He found the page they needed. “So if we skip the bit where Tamora’s sons kill Bassianus—”

“Who?” Julien asked.

“Lavinia’s husband. Saturninus’s brother.”

“Saturn… huh?”

“The young, new emperor…” Eric offered, seeing his friend’s clueless face. “Look, let’s not get into the rest of it just yet. One scene at a time, okay?”

“Cool,” Julien approved.

“Now, Mary—”

“Yes, Mister Director?”

“What?” Eric looked up from the script, his eyes fixing on her. “What do you mean?”

“You’re totally directing us.”

“I am not.”

“It’s what you want to do, isn’t it? This play was your idea, so we’re all yours.”

“I don’t want it to be like that,” he grumbled. “Not with you.”

Half truth, and they knew it. Something about taking the play and making it his own appealed to him. Didn’t he have the right to some creative control? Hadn’t it been his crazy suggestion to do this play, and hadn’t he somehow convinced the entire class to go for it? Didn’t he get Harley to go against the state curriculum for them? And fuck it, if he could control Joe, he could control a bunch of high school actors. All his idea. All his.

“Do you want Chiron or Demetrius?” he asked Julien.

“Huh? The brothers, you mean?”

“Yeah, which one do you want? Harley wants us to decide.” He looked to Mary for an opinion, but the girl was silent.

“What’s the diff’?”

“Demetrius gets more lines, just. Chiron’s younger, a bit more out there and fun. I think Chiron would suit you better.”

“Cool.”

“So, act two, scene four?” Mary pulled the sleeves of her blouse down over her hands, covering them in the makeshift ‘stumps’ of her cuffs.

“That’s the first scene where it’s just the three of us, so I guess. Wait, you’ve got it memorised already?”

Mary shrugged away his disbelief. “Actually, it’s not the three of us. It’s just you two. I don’t have a tongue by this point, remember?”

“Oh yeah, right.”

“Or hands.”

“Right.”

“You just cut them off.”

“Yes, I remember. Thanks.”

“Ymoa’re mbelcumb,” the girl mumbled, her tongue folded back inside her mouth to simulate its removal.

“What was that?”

“Ymoa’re mbelcumb!”

“Oh! You’re welcome. Shouldn’t talk with your mouth full, darling.”

“Bewy punnhy.”

“Or empty, in this case.”

“Phuck yiew, ‘itch!”

Eric flashed a grin and went back to the script. “So, now go tell, an’ if thy tongue can speak, who ‘twas that cut they tongue and ravish’d thee.” He pulled her close, his arms tight around her waist.

Mary screamed, an empty, muted sound, from behind her folded tongue as she turned her face away in feigned disgust. Eric wasn’t sure how a tongue-less mouth muted its sound, but they could work that out later. The two of them stood in silence, waiting for the next line.

“Jules?” Eric asked. “Jules?”

“Y’ul’en!” Mary shouted.

“Huh? Oh, it’s me?”

“Where’s your script?”

“Oh shit. I left it in class. Distracted. Sorry!”

Eric shook his head, throwing Julien his copy. “Page fifty-one.”

“Right.” He fumbled awkwardly until he found the right page. “Ah… Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so, An if thy stumps…”

Eric had to admit Julien’s cold reading was spot on for a guy who hadn’t read the script. “See, how with signs and tokens she can scrowl.”

“Go home,” Julien answered. “Call for sweet water, wash thy hands.”

An anguished cry pierced the air as Mary threw herself to the ground, beating at it with her cuff-enclosed fists, screaming the same muffled screams as she pounded the rocks and grass.

“Shit! Are you okay?” Julien asked.

She looked up at him with furious, mad eyes, a trail of spittle bubbling over her lower lip and down her chin before she spat it to the ground. Julien fell back as Mary’s vengeful screams levelled on him. She threw herself at him with unhindered fury.

“What’re you…? Hey!” he yelled as she beat her fists against his chest and clawed at his arms with clenched fingers. “What the…? Eric! Arrgh!” A searing pain ripped down his forearm. He whipped it back, catching Mary across the jaw with a loud crack.

The girl screamed as she clutched her stinging face. For an instant, the temptation seized Eric to throw himself at Julien, to wrestle him to the ground and start bashing his head. But it had been an accident. Nobody’s fault. He hoped his friends would see it the same way.

Julien finally tore his eyes away from the blood that was trickling over his arm, in time to see Mary’s eyes, the hatred that had filled them before, now intensified. “Shit! I’m sorry! Are you o— Hey!” He stumbled back again as she spat in his face.

Eric stepped forward, grabbed her hair from behind and yanked it back. Mary screamed in agony, twisting her head around as though he’d pulled it with all his strength. “She hath no tongue to call nor hands to wash,” he recited, suddenly releasing the hair and launching her head forward. More spittle. More anguished moans. “So let’s leave her to her silent walks.”

Mary scrambled across the ground, grabbing Julien’s trouser legs in her ‘stumps’ as she wrapped herself around, imploring him.

“Okay, stop. What the fuck are you doing?” Julien stammered, wiping his face clean.

Another low scream came from Mary as she pressed her head against Julien’s thigh, clutching him tight in her faux dismembered arms. Eric frowned, too intrigued to stop her now. “Keep going.”

“Uh…an…an t’were my case, I should go hang myself.”

“If thou hadst hands to help thee knit the cord.”

Mary let out another scream, then buried her face in Julien’s crotch. Eric had just opened his mouth to ask why, when…

“What on Earth is going on back here?”

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Christian BainesAbout the Author: Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Christian Baines has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theatre, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in both Australia and Canada.

Dual passions for travel and mythology have sent him across the world in search of dark and entertaining stories. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by an erotic short story, The Prince and the Practitioner.

Amazon Author Page || Twitter || Facebook Author Page || Facebook

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Pride Publishing

Introducing Pride Publishing – The New Home for the Finest in GLBTQI Fiction

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PRIDE PUBLISHING – THE NEW HOME FOR THE FINEST GLBTQI FICTION LAUNCHES TODAY

Pride Publishing Blogger Launch_socialmedia_pride_0001_finalPride Publishing, a new house from the Totally Entwined Group, best known for its flagship erotic romance publishing house, Totally Bound Publishing has launched today – 7th July 2015.

This expansion and launch of Pride Publishing has been designed and implemented to give our GLBTQI authors and readers the platform and community they deserve to express themselves.

Pride Publishing will deliver publishing excellence with a passionate and personal approach, offering the best stimulation for the imagination.

The launch of Pride marks the division of all GLBTQI titles from Totally Bound’s backlist, allowing Totally Bound Publishing to focus more on and develop MF and MFM stories. Pride Publishing will kick off with a considerable backlist from authors you know and love including, Amber Kell, Carol Lynne, Bailey Bradford and NR Walker.

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Celebrate with Pride!

Pride Publishing Blogger Launch_250X250_finalTo celebrate the launch of Pride there is 25% off a selection of eBooks for this week only and lots of other promotions over at the website. Visit the website HERE

Moving forward Pride Publishing will also accept submissions that are not only romance focused. We are actively seeking submissions, so as long as your stories involve characters who identify as GLBTQI, we’d like to see them. Please send your submissions to Submissions at Totally Entwined

For more information please contact Holly Gunner or Heidi Blakey at Totally Entwined holly.gunner@totallyentwinedgroup.com / heidi.blakey@totallyentwinedgroup.com

rainbow dividerAbout Totally Entwined Group

Pride Publishing Blogger Launch_socialmedia_pride_0002_finalThe Totally Entwined Group is a leading eBook publisher in the UK and US and was founded in 2007 by Claire and Marek Siemaszkiewicz. It comprises of four publishing houses – Totally Bound Publishing (Erotic Romance), Finch Books (Young Adult), Pride Publishing (GLBTQI Fiction) and Evidence Press (Crime / Thriller). It employs 12 members of staff and publishes over 350 authors across UK and Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. Its flagship erotic romance publishing house Totally Bound Publishing, was winner of the “Best New Publisher Award” at the All Romance eBooks’ Best of 2007 Awards and was shortlisted for online retailer of the year at The Bookseller Industry Awards 2014. The Totally Entwined Group was recently acquired by Bonnier Publishing.

rainbow dividerAbout Bonnier Publishing Fiction

Bonnier Publishing Fiction is a division of Bonnier Publishing which encompasses the children’s imprints Hot Key Books and Piccadilly Press and adult fiction imprints Zaffre and Twenty7. Bonnier Publishing Fiction combines brand new voices with established storytellers to bring a broad spectrum of high quality and innovative fiction to all ages.

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4 Stars, Evernight Publishing, J.R. Gray, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: Veil of Scars by J.R. Gray

Title: Veil of Scars

Author: J.R. Gray

Publisher: Evernight Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 100 Pages

At a Glance: Veil of Scars is a single sitting read, compelling and well told.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Steven is tall, dark, and damaged. He doesn’t let anyone close, comfortable on the outside of normal life where he can hide his scars behind a wall so high that nothing gets through…except them. Despite a childhood marred with black and blue, he’s survived and moved in with his two best friends, Sam and Charlie.

Life should get better, but it was Sam who held him when the dark threatened to swallow him whole, Sam who gave him a place that felt like home, and Sam who knew every scar and every broken place.

And it’s all been taken away with Charlie sharing Sam’s bed.

Without his former comfort, Steven realizes what’s been hiding in the deep corners of his heart, and the truth sinks him like a weight. He’s in love with one or maybe both of his roommates. Navigating unrequited love tears Steven apart and brings him to the precipice, and he has to choose: his feelings or Sam’s…and Charlie’s?

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Review: Eighteen-year-old Harvard freshman, Steven, is a character who reads like a man standing on the outside always looking in on life. And it seems, sometimes, he prefers it that way. Surviving a childhood marred by a physically abusive father has left him with not only trust issues but an inability to allow anyone, save for his roommates and best friends, Sam and Charlie, close to him in any sort of meaningful way.

Veil of Scars, as it turns out, is the perfect title for this short novel, as it’s the psychological scars Steven brought forward into adulthood that served not only to construct and solidify his close bond with Sam but prevented him from understanding what it is about himself that feels wrong and keeps him on the fringes of a deeper connection with anyone, a connection such as the one Sam and Charlie have with each other. Steven is searching for an elusive sense of “normalcy”, and is trying, with a sense of both desperation and defeat, to find a label that fits his lack of physical desire as aptly as “introvert” describes his personality.

The emotional connection J.R. Gray constructs for readers throughout this story is in Steven’s struggle to understand and then accept he’s in love with Sam, even when he knows Sam’s very much in love with Charlie and can never be more than a friend. The greater design in the construct, however, is Steven’s certainty he’s in some way wired wrong because within his id, the emotional concepts of love and physical desire don’t go hand-in-hand. He works to come to terms with his love for Sam, but it’s the sexual part of the equation that leaves him confused and combing the internet in search of a label that fits him, one which also shows him that somewhere he fits in.

Gray layers Steven’s pain and sadness in a pattern of horrific childhood memories, confusion, guilt, and ultimately, the realization his love for Sam may come at an awful price. He could lose Sam or Charlie, more likely both, and no matter his feelings, those are outcomes he isn’t willing to risk. The substance of this story exists in the understanding that sexuality and gender aren’t a black and white binary, that love and sex are sometimes mutually exclusive, and that as abnormal as Steven believes he is, he isn’t. In the end, and perhaps most importantly, there is the realization that love and relationships of all shapes and sizes take patience and work, and there are no clear cut answers to the myriad opaque questions raised within this story nor in life.

Veil of Scars is a single sitting read, compelling and well told, which delves into the complex and complicated realms of sexuality in an honest and touching way.

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You can buy Veil of Scars here:

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4 Stars, Literary Fiction, Michael Kudo, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Jackie, Wilde City Press

Review: Red Rose (Blood) by Michael Kudo

Title: Red Rose (Blood)

Author: Michael Kudo

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count:

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: “I don’t like to be called an Assassin, I prefer the term problem solver.”

My name’s Alex. I’m an average guy. I kill people for a living. But don’t judge me.

I don’t take jobs on just anybody though. I only kill the really annoying people, like cheaters or abusers. So if you think about it, I’m actually doing God’s work—okay, maybe that’s stretching things a bit. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Daniel A. Kaine, Reviewed by Lynn, Wilde City Press

Daniel A. Kaine’s “Slasherazzi” Takes You Inside The Mind Of A Serial Killer


It’s no wonder the Zodiac Killer flirted so relentlessly with the police. Or that Jack the Ripper courted and baited detectives with his – or her – coy letters. We all wish to be pursued. We all long to be desired.” ― Chuck Palahniuk


Title: Slasherazzi

Author: Daniel A. Kaine

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 192 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Recently promoted to Detective, Alex is out to prove himself and the Slasherazzi case is the perfect opportunity. Mutilated corpses are showing up across Tampa, and when the team discovers the newest victim was tortured alive, Alex becomes more determined than ever to stop the crazed serial killer before the horrific stabbings escalate further.
Continue reading

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David Pratt, Wilde City Press

Welcome To David Pratt And The “Looking After Joey” Blog Tour And Giveaway


(c) 2014 Eva Mueller

(c) 2014 Eva Mueller


The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome David Pratt on the Looking After Joey Blog Tour.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Continue reading

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Dress Circle Publishing, Jeremy Scott Blaustein

Jeremy Scott Blaustein Stops By Today To Talk Clichés And A Giveaway


“Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

At some point or another, every writer is advised to avoid clichés. Why? Because we’re told they make our work sound pedantic and/or banal. I’m not so sure that I agree. I happen to find clichés quite useful, which makes it rather tempting to lean on them when I want to prove a point. After all, it is universally agreed upon that a bird in the hand IS worth two in the bush. (If you don’t believe me, just pull down your pants and give a duck call; I’m sure you’d prefer to have Mr. Quackers eating out of your palm than pecking at your pubes any day.) And that’s precisely why clichés get passed around like a sorority girl at a toga party– they are proven truths. One might say they’re unavoidable. Especially when you are one.
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