4.5 Stars, Genre Romance, Historical Romance, Kate McMurray, Paranormal, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Across the East River Bridge by Kate McMurray

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Title: Across the East River Bridge (2nd Edition)

Author: Kate McMurray

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 239 Pages

At a Glance: Across the East River Bridge, in its second go-round, is every bit as good now as it was in its original release.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: When historian Christopher Finnegan walks into a new museum in Brooklyn, he’s chagrined to learn its curator is his old academic rival, Troy Rafferty. Worse, Troy is convinced the museum is haunted and wants Finn’s help learning more about the ghosts. Finn and Troy have never gotten along and Finn wants to run screaming, but then Troy offers him an intriguing proposal: Troy will help Finn with a research project for his overbearing boss if Finn will help Troy solve a mystery involving two men who died in the building under mysterious circumstances in 1878.

Finn and Troy piece together the two men’s lives–and the quiet romance that grew between them–through diaries, newspaper clippings, and police reports. They’re both soon convinced the men were murdered. They’re also convinced the ghosts are real even Finn witnesses paranormal phenomena he can’t deny–and that they’re capable of affecting thoughts, feelings, and actions. When Finn and Troy start falling for each other despite years of animosity, Finn worries he’s being manipulated by the ghosts to stay with Troy and solve the case. Troy is convinced the love between them is real, but he’ll need to figure out how to get rid of the ghosts in order to prove it.

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Review: I first read Kate McMurray’s Across the East River Bridge back in September of 2012. A few years and more than a few hundred books later, when I chose to review it in its second edition release, I’ll confess that while I had the plot basics down, I clearly had forgotten some of the finer details that made it such a fantastic read—both the first time and now, the second. This book is many things rolled into one: an enemies-to-lovers story, a contemporary romance, a historical romance, a tragic romance, and then, to top it all off, there’s a paranormal mystery dating back to the 1870s that this author managed to finesse into a touching and sometimes intense read.

McMurray leads us into the story in modern day Brooklyn, where we learn that Christopher “Finn” Finnegan and Troy Rafferty have a history of their own—rivals from their college days, Finn has spent more than a decade loathing golden boy Troy for sabotaging his academic career by discrediting his dissertation research, which then resulted in Finn’s funding being pulled. Amongst the animosity that Finn still feels toward Troy all these years later is an undercurrent of sexual tension that’s been there between them from the start. And, added to it, there’s an intense frustration that Finn is still attracted to someone he hates so thoroughly—or tries to hate so thoroughly, at least. The setup for them working together, then, is a great foundation for the conflicted feelings Finn has throughout the book—how can he hate Troy and still want him so intensely? And how can Finn look inward in any sort of honest and rational way and continue to blame Troy for his failings? I have to say I felt a lot of frustration myself toward Finn throughout this book. His stubbornness and scapegoating of Troy makes it hard to excuse some of Finn’s actions and reactions, but a lot of that for me is because Kate McMurray makes Troy such a likeable and charming character. Where Troy may be intended to be Finn’s foil, it actually worked the other way around, and I liked the turning of the tables.

Where the author infuses this book with a terrible poignancy is in the historical research Finn and Troy delve into to uncover the mystery of Brill House, the museum of which Troy is now curator. There is a ghostly presence or two in Brill House that seems to lead directly to one-time owner Theodore Brill, and a border who eventually became Teddy’s lover, George Washington Cutler. Their story, of course, carries with it all the ingrained difficulties of the time in which these two men lived and loved. As Troy and Finn continue their investigation into Teddy and Wash’s deaths—an apparent murder/suicide—they uncover more questions than answers about the way in which the couple died. And, in the process, begin to agitate the spirits of the deceased as the ghosts become desperate for the truth of their deaths to be revealed. I 100% loved this aspect of the novel, not only from an emotional standpoint but from a writing standpoint as well. As Finn and Troy get closer to the truth, the more the tension and suspense escalate, and once the storyline reaches its climax, it plays out in true page-turner fashion.

Troy and Finn’s interactions throughout the story are part antagonistic, part full-on sexual, and their relationship builds from that as well as the eventual realization on Finn’s part that he’s going to have to give up the ghost, so to speak, and stop trying to make Troy the enemy. As feelings change and begin to look a lot like two men falling in love, the underlying question they can’t answer for sure is, how much is this metaphysical mystery manipulating them and their emotions. Finn’s not only skeptical about nearly every aspect of Troy’s theories on what happened to Teddy and Wash, but he’s so busy hanging on to the past that he can’t see what a great future Troy’s offering him, and I liked how these relationships contrasted—we see what a gift it is for Troy and Finn to be able to live together openly, a luxury that Teddy and Wash didn’t have. And, it may well have cost them their lives.

Across the East River Bridge, in its second go-round, is every bit as good now as it was in its original release. Whether you’ve read it before, or are considering reading it for the first time, I can say it’s a solid story that comes highly recommended.

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3 Stars, Ceci Thornton, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Saved by the Shifter by Ceci Thornton

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Title: Saved by the Shifter

Author: Ceci Thornton

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 212 Pages

At a Glance: In spite of some niggles here and there, the action sequences in Saved by the Shifter made for some suspenseful reading.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Nate Palmer is desperate enough to try anything to find his missing niece…

Nate has cared for his niece Beth since she was a baby, and now the sixteen-year old has disappeared without a word. The only clue he has is a letter she left behind from her birth mother. He’d do anything to find her, even if it means turning to a down-on-his-luck private investigator working out of a store front in a strip mall—one with the ability to sniff out more clues.

Dexter Armstrong is a lone wolf looking to use his tracking skills to do some good…

Dexter had a pack once, but left, disgusted by their lack of appreciation for their gift. But business is bad and his roof is leaking. He’s just about ready to throw in the towel on that lonely life when Nate walks in the door, looking helpless and smelling delectable.

Together they will travel to the seediest parts of LA

Even as he’s focused on finding his niece, Nate can’t help but be drawn to Dexter’s powerful dominance. And Dexter becomes more and more certain that Nate’s his fated mate. Can their attraction survive the reveal of Dexter’s true nature? And can they both survive the supernatural perils that they will face in their quest to find Beth—and to find the kind of love and family both have been dreaming of?

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Review: When Nate Palmer’s older brother, Craig, was busted for selling drugs to an off-duty cop and sent to prison, Nate became sole caretaker of his niece Beth. Beth’s mother isn’t in the picture any longer, having fled to parts unknown years before, so Nate truly is Beth’s only hope at a normal life—and they’d gotten along well, too, until Beth hit the terrible teens. Now Beth has gone missing, Nate is beside himself with worry and fear, and his one hope of finding his niece and getting her back home safely seems to be Private Investigator Dexter Armstrong.

That’s the quick setup for Ceci Thornton’s Saved by the Shifter, a novel that taps into the shifter bonding trope, albeit only shallowly, to bring Nate and Dexter together as partners in sex as well as in tracking down Nate’s niece. As I’ve said any number of times before, sometimes the device works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. A lot depends on how well the author convinces me, after that initial spark of lust has struck, that the two guys have what it takes to be a couple. I liked Dexter and Nate, and though I had some quibbles over their initial meeting and the lack of exploration in what they have in common other than lust, the fact they go through hell and back with each other did help to make the bond somewhat more believable. There’s something to be said for not only going into battle together but then surviving.

While Saved by the Shifter is categorized as a Mystery, I have to say I felt Dexter’s role as a PI was pretty well in title only, made so by the simple lack of a true mystery in this plot. We don’t have to wait long to discover what happened to Beth, and Dexter isn’t even the one who searched for the clues to track her down, so we don’t get to see him at work much in that role. The information on Beth’s whereabouts is effectively dumped in his lap, which I felt was a bit of a let-down as I’d prepped myself for a good missing person investigation, but once I understood the storyline was more Urban Fantasy than an all-out Mystery, the positive becomes the author’s ability to write a tense and suspenseful action scene. Of course, Dexter’s shifter half comes in handy along the way too, as he’s fairly certain of the danger Beth is in before it’s confirmed, so that added to the tension in the storyline and made for some excitement during the book’s climactic scene.

There are several things that, overall, I felt could have been explored in greater detail in this book, much of it revolving around Dexter as a character. I think the potential for him to be more interesting and layered was missed in the lack of background details about him—we get a few facts, but to make him more interesting, knowing where he came from, who he came from, what he came from, what shifter mythology inspired his character, would have gone a long way to building interest in him as a supernatural character for me. Essentially, we get no world-building to speak of (which left me with some distracting questions during Beth’s rescue), and even more confusing for me, was a group of shifters that materialized and disappeared from the story and left me scratching my head—one moment they appear threatening, the next, they were there to cover Dexter’s back. There’s a history there that most definitely was missing, and I’d have loved to know more of it—why they were antagonists one moment, saviors the next. And while I’m on the subject of characters, here, I will say I liked the sweet reunion between Nate and Beth, and felt the affection between them was genuine and well portrayed.

In the end, though I feel the book could have used some more exposition, I liked Saved by the Shifter for what it was—a vehicle to bring two likable men together to form their own little pack.

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Giveaways, Nicholas Kinsley

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Driven by Nicholas Kinsley

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Today we’re so pleased to welcome author Nicholas Kinsley, who’s visiting today with an exclusive excerpt and giveaway of his new novel, Driven. You can enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book via the Rafflecopter widget below.

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DrivenTitle: Driven
Author: Nicholas Kinsley
Publisher: Fantastic Fiction Publishing
Length: 245 Pages
Categories: Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Supernatural
Buy Links: Fantastic Fiction || Amazon || All Romance eBooks
Blurb: Mitchell Morgan is a quiet young man with dangerous secrets. One of those secrets is a psychic power over metal that makes him far more than just the handsome, blue-eyed owner of Advanced Auto Repairs. The other traps him in a world of organized crime and intense violence.

Trevor Lewis is a graphic designer with a passion for drawing, drumming, and his incredibly hot auto mechanic. He meets Mitchell over a broken tail light, and despite—or perhaps because of—Trevor’s awkwardness, Mitchell is charmed. Trevor’s curly hair and brilliant smile bring light into Mitchell’s complicated world. Mitchell would do anything to save Trevor from the dangers of his criminal life—but first Trevor has to save Mitchell from his own darkness.

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Excerpt: He set his pint aside and, elbow on the table, rested his chin in his hand. “Actually, I did meet someone,” he began, purposefully vague.

Kay’s eyes lit up. “Yeah? What’s he like? Is he boring? Tell me he’s not boring so he can offset your utter boringness.”

Trevor gaped and feigned offence with a hand to his chest. “I am decidedly not boring!”

“Right. Let’s think about this for a moment.” Kay cleared their throat with a dramatic ahem. “Trevor Lewis. Hobbies include playing the drums, binge-watching television shows, Reddit, drawing those weird, fucked-up sketches—”

“Those are all perfectly valid hobbies that perfectly not-boring people have.”

“Has a comfortable, mostly-remote job, yet doesn’t take advantage of that fact to get completely and utterly fucked up every night—”

“Some of us prefer sobriety as our default state.”

“Whatever. Go on and tell me about this bloke you’ve met.” Kay put their drink aside to make room for their arms, crossing them over the table and plopping their chin down on top. “I’m all ears.”

“His name’s Mitchell.”

“Last name?”

“Morgan.”

Kay pursed their lips and repeated the name as if to discern the taste. “Mitchell Morgan. Hmm. Okay. Go on.”

“He has long hair, not quite as long as yours, but he can put it in a ponytail. Past the ear, just above the shoulder range. Straight, brown. He talks incredibly quietly, and he doesn’t adjust his voice much when it’s loud around him, so then you have to strain to hear what he’s saying. A bit shy, I think, but maybe he’s just one of those soft-spoken types and doesn’t like to raise his voice.”

Kay quirked a brow. “Intriguing.”

“Isn’t it? The opposite of you, I know. Well, he owns a garage—”

“Like a mechanic? Or he just owns the mechanics?”

“What? Why would he just—Yes, like a mechanic. He’s a mechanic, okay. So his skin looks like it can never quite be scrubbed clean and it’s like his fingers have oil embedded into them.”

“Dirty boy,” Kay said, smirking.

Trevor laughed, unable to help it. “Anyway, I’ve been flirting with him for weeks—”

“Weeks?!” Kay sat upright, and immediately looked disoriented from the sudden change in position.

“No, no, no, not so much every day for weeks. More like I’ve taken my Fiesta in for repairs three times now and kind of let on that I liked what I saw each time I went.”

Kay’s shoulders dropped. “Oh. Alright then. And?”

Trevor grinned and stretched out his response by leisurely reaching for his pint and taking a drink. It lost some of its effect since Kay seemed too drunk to be bothered.

“Today was the third time I went to have work done. Told him I wanted new tyres. He almost declined, said he wanted to, but that he shouldn’t.”

“What, why?”

“Because he has a lot of other cars to work on, you know, other customers,” Trevor said, waving a lazy hand in dismissal. “Some guy came in and interrupted us before I could finally ask for his number, but he ended up agreeing to do it and told me to come back tomorrow.” Trevor put his glass down and looked across the table at his friend. “Kay, I’m totally in there.”

DividersNicholas KinsleyAbout the Author: Nick Kinsley has been writing since a very young age. After going through his earlier school years focused on computer science, he discovered that he would rather be a professional author. He grew up with few friends and a love of books, and hopes to create worlds in which others can find enjoyment. Kinsley currently lives in Maryland.

Email || Facebook Author Page || Twitter || Tumblr || Google+ || Goodreads

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5 Stars, Historical Romance, Jordan L. Hawk, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Paranormal, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Maelstrom by Jordan L. Hawk

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Title: Maelstrom (Whyborne & Griffin: Book Seven)

Author: Jordan L. Hawk

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 268 Pages

At a Glance: Once again I am completely in awe of the talent and imaginative genius of Jordan L. Hawk.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Between his father’s sudden—and rather suspicious—generosity, and his own rash promise to help Christine plan her wedding, Percival Endicott Whyborne has quite enough to worry about. But when the donation of a mysterious codex to the Ladysmith Museum draws the attention of a murderous cult, Whyborne finds himself in a race against time to unlock its secrets first.

Griffin has a case of his own: the disappearance of an historic map, which quickly escalates to murder. Someone is sacrificing men in dark rituals—and all the clues lead back to the museum.

With their friends Christine and Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must discover the cult’s true goal before it’s too late. For dark forces are afoot at the very heart of the museum, and they want more than Whyborne’s codex.

They want his life.

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Review: “Widdershins knows its own.”

Trying to write this review in any kind of linear fashion is proving to be impossible. I’m trying to stick to some kind of organized format, but my brain keeps jumping to the brilliance, the sheer brilliance, of chapter fifty-seven. Once again I am completely in awe of the talent and imaginative genius of Jordan L. Hawk. The entire book is extraordinary and mind-blowing – but chapter fifty-seven is indescribable. One thing I do know is that I don’t want to come down from this high; I want to wallow in this one for a bit. I truly think Maelstrom is my favorite of the series to date.

In this seventh book of the series, Widdershins, with its maelstrom of energy lying beneath the earth, is a hotspot for cultists far and wide, and our heroes once again find themselves smack in the midst of the goings on. The latest batch of books donated to the museum has brought all the crazies to the yard, and Whyborne and Griffin must, of course, work together to foil them before all is lost.

It should come as no surprise that one of the things I love most about Maelstrom is the continually growing relationship between Ival and Griffin. They are as in tune to each other as ever, and must draw on that closeness throughout the story. In parts of Hoarfrost, Griffin was in a rough place, and needed Whyborne to keep him from breaking apart – here, however, it is Whyborne who largely needs grounding and clarity. I love that turnabout and all of the different ways we get to see their love for each other. The tender, poignant moments toward the end (*cough* chapter fifty-seven *cough*) are magnified a hundredfold because of their ever-strengthening bond.

So, of course the love story is amazing…but you better believe that all the other Jordan L. Hawk trademarks are there as well. Action, peril, creepy creatures from the Outside, humor, and a razor sharp wit. Not to mention perhaps the hottest sex scene in the series yet. I actually thought my brain was going to explode. No joke.

I already mentioned the humor, but want to touch on it a bit more specifically. The magic of these books is obviously in the world building and the storytelling – but a part of that magic also has to do with the delivery. And Hawk nails the delivery every time. Whyborne has tons of great one-liners. Griffin has a new motor car, which is an endless source of comic relief. The wedding prep and talk that is peppered throughout the book is fabulous. And, I absolutely had to share this gem, from our dear Christine:

“We’re going to be married, damn it, and Whyborne is going to walk me down the aisle…It’s going to be perfect, even if I have to kill every one of these bastards myself!”

In short, Maelstrom is fantastic. I don’t know how the hell Hawk keeps making each book better than the last, but she does. She’s kept the series fresh through seven books, and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve for the eighth! Coolest. Books. Ever.

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

Review: Faire Diviner by Madeleine Ribbon

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Title: Faire Diviner

Author: Madeleine Ribbon

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 234 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Kim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Evolution: Genesis by Lissa Kasey

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Title: Evolution: Genesis (Evolution: Book Two)

Author: Lissa Kasey

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Sammy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Stars, Anthology, B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Genre Romance, Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Spirit by Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton, and B.G. Thomas

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Amazon

Title: Spirit (Gothika: Book Four)

Authors: Jamie Fessenden, Kim Fielding, Eli Easton, B. G. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 260 Pages

At a Glance: Four top-notch authors have once again created an incredibly well written anthology with stories that are both entertaining and thoughtful.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Seeing dead people. Haunting and being haunted. Ghosts and those trying to deal with them add a supernatural flair to these four tales of romance. 

In Among the Dead, Neil Gaven sees dead people. A gentle ghost guides him to Trist, who needs his help. But Trist is tormented by spirits, so maybe together they can find a way to live among the dead.

Dei Ex Machina is the story of Sabbio, a Roman slave who was killed 1700 years ago. He’s been alone until he meets landscaper Mason. But because they’re separated by centuries, it will take a miracle to make love work.

The Mill brings a supernatural challenge to Frank Carter and his team of paranormal investigators. The owner’s personal psychic, Toby Reese, is supposed to help. Frank doesn’t have much respect for psychics, but when the dangers of the old mill threaten his team, he realizes he and Toby will have to work together to survive.

Mike Ellsworth finds himself suddenly deceased. Now he’s a ghost with lots left undone in Unfinished Business. He’s never been able to be honest with his wife. He’s never been able to tell the man he loves how he feels. He’s barely been able to admit he’s gay. If only there were a way he could make up for all he’s failed to do….

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Review:   There is a new Gothika anthology out, Spirit: Volume Four, and this time it has a supernatural and ghostly bent. Four top-notch authors have once again created an incredibly well written anthology with stories that are both entertaining and thoughtful.

The Mill by Jamie Fessenden:

Our first story is an incredibly well-crafted tale about paranormal investigators and psychics. Drawing from historical fact about the many horrific warehouse fires that took place in the early 1900s, the story focuses on an old sewing factory that burned to the ground with over one-hundred souls locked inside. Since then, Hawley Textile mill has attempted to house other industry, but most recently, plans were made to demolish the old building and turn the land into a shopping mall. However, several unexplained injuries and setbacks caused any renovation or demolition to come to a screeching halt.

The current owner, elderly Mrs. Hawley, has hired a paranormal investigative team to come in and debunk or verify the idea that the building is haunted. While visiting her favorite psychic, she also enlists his help to check out the site. When Frank Carter and his team begin to investigate, his little brother sees something on an upper floor of the building. Before any of the team can move to help him, Louis runs screaming from the large hall and falls down a flight of stairs. While he only suffers a concussion and a broken leg, for some inexplicable reason Louis slips into a coma-like state, and nothing the doctors can do seem to wake him up. Around this time, Frank and his team meet up with Toby Reese, and the general reaction is a lot of skepticism and even a bit of hostility. However, Frank slowly begins to understand that Toby is the genuine article. Not only that, but feelings long dormant are stirring in both Toby and Frank, and now they must team up to confront whatever is haunting the factory–and hope they come out unscathed.

What an incredible story. The pacing, the charged atmosphere that permeated every scene in the abandoned factory, and the growing attraction between Toby and Frank made for an exciting tale all around. Ghost stories are tricky things, and to make them raise that tingly feeling along your spine takes some real dedication to making the story as believable as possible. I really enjoyed how Jamie Fessenden used the distrust between the science of paranormal investigation as opposed to the “feelings” of the psychic. Setting up this foil between Frank and Toby made each supernatural moment in the story just that much scarier and more realistic. This was one of those types of short stories that I would love to see in serial form with many more adventures for this paranormal team. Rating: 5 stars

Dei Ex Machina by Kim Fielding:

In her story, Dei Ex Machina, Kim Fielding offers up a story of second chances. Focusing on two men–one corporeal, who has recently lost his husband, and the other one, who has lived in limbo for hundreds of years–this author brings the two together in a lovely story that focuses on the healing and redemptive power of love.

Once upon a time, centuries before Mason ever walked the earth, a young slave named Sabbio was taken from his home and forced to work on building a majestic palace in a small coastal town called Split.  When he died, he did so without ever understanding what real love is, without ever feeling the touch of a lover’s hand, and without ever fully realizing how love transforms a person. Because of that, Sabbio was destined to live a life in darkness, in a terrible form of limbo where he would often forget who he was and what he had once been. When he is able to pull himself from the dark pit, he walks the small town of Split to which his spirit is forever chained.  One day he sees a young American man, Mason. Mason is still grieving several months after his own husband was shot down on campus grounds where he worked. Having the one man he loved ripped from his life has left Mason empty and hurting.

As the days progress on this vacation Mason has agreed to take with his brother and friends, he will become increasingly aware of the feeling that someone is watching him. Little does he know that a chance encounter with one of the locals will lead to his dreams of being able to love again becoming a reality.

More than a ghost story, Dei Ex Machina, speaks of an instant connection, a spark that only one person can provide for another. That spark leads to recognition and, in Mason’s case, to a second chance at love. When two wounded hearts come together there is often healing, but Kim Fielding goes one step further in the story. Not only are Mason and Sabbio destined to be together, they discover they are the one thing that completes the other, they are soul mates.

This delightful story is complete and total fantasy, and I dare you not to fall in love with its two main characters. Rating: 4 stars

Among The Dead by Eli Easton:

In the third offering of this wonderful anthology, author Eli Easton gives us Among the Dead.

After a near fatal accident while windsailing, Neil finds himself with a brand new ability: that of being able to see dead people–spirits who are not yet at rest. At first he thought he was crazy, and after some intensive therapy, he realizes that the knock on his head has actually left him with this very real and horrifying ability. In an attempt to save his sanity, slowly but surely Neil becomes a recluse, only leaving the house every first Tuesday of the month for a check in with his boss at his IT job. Other than that, he has little interaction with the world around him.

On one such Tuesday jaunt, Neil sees a man in a bowler hat. Unlike other spirits, this man seems calm, slightly sad, and desiring to somehow communicate with Neil. At first Neil is terrified, for right after his accident he did try to help the spirits that he saw, sometimes with disastrous results. So, when this gentleman appears in Neil’s apartment, he decides to engage him in conversation. After many attempts, Neil is finally able to understand what the man wants. There is someone who needs Neil’s help; someone who Neil had seen before the accident, at the local park. When he agrees to help the man, the comfortable, quiet life he has been enduring will change forever.

This story had quite the shocker of an ending, but the ride getting there was really sublime. Neil was so cut off from everything and everyone after his accident. Alternating between the thought that he was insane, and grappling with the reality that he could see dead spirits, Neil coped by simply choosing to shut out life as much as possible. When he finally decides to help Trist, at the prodding of the ghost in the bowler hat, he is overjoyed to finally find someone like him–someone who also interacts with the spirit world. The instant attraction, the need to cling to one another, and the reality that neither of them is alone anymore is so incredibly beautiful. While the transition into lovers is rapid, it is also utterly believable. This was such a sweet story about finding your soul mate and defying all odds to hang on to him forever. Rating: 4.5 stars

Text by B.G. Thomas:

The last thing Mike remembers is that stupid text, the one that now has him walking the earth as a dead man–or nearly so. Prior to the accident, Mike had lead a double life. For years he has denied that he is gay; instead, he runs a successful business alongside his trophy wife. And for the last year, has been meeting the one person he really loves, Joel. Having met at one of Mike’s seminars, Joel and he have been meeting clandestinely every time Mike can get into the city. In fact, it is Joel who Mike is texting when he accidentally runs that red light and loses his life…sort of…

You see Mike is now seemingly brain dead, on life support and running out of time. He must somehow reach out to both Joel and his wife to let them know how he feels. He must set things straight before he passes on. But will there be time?

B.G. Thomas writes the most compelling story about what is most important in our lives, and the foolish way we have of taking it all for granted. By writing the character of Mike, the author hits the reader hard with the idea that any second may be our last, and we must live life to the fullest, be honest with those we love and never, ever take our eyes off the prize–love.

One should not look at this short story as just an advert against texting and driving—although it is a very strong reminder of just that idea. No, there is a bigger message here. While we watch those who Mike loved, and who loved him in return, agonize over things that were left undone and words of love that were left unspoken, we are forcibly reminded that every second of our lives counts. Now the question remains, what will you do with that very important message? Rating: 5 stars

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You can buy Spirit here:

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Giveaways, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles

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

Genie Lamp

photo credit: CIMG3470 via photopin (license)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right?

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

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

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

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

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

Third and last wish, Jo?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

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

A Mad About the Brit Boys collection

When boy meets (supernatural) boy

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

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

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

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

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JL MerrowAuthor bios:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fine Print:

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

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Elizabeth Noble, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Paranormal, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Electric Candle by Elizabeth Noble – Narrated by Faust Kells

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Electric Candle (The Sleepless City: Book Two)

Author: Elizabeth Noble

Narrator: Faust Kells

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 hours and 49 minutes

At a GlanceEven though this series is written by two different authors and performed by different narrators, it’s worth the read or the listen, whatever you prefer.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When a vampire finds his soul mate, the bond is forever. It’s love at first sight. Or is it?

Flint, Ohio, Homicide Detective Jonas Forge has been a vampire for nearly two hundred years. He’s fought wars, seen life go from the simple but hard colonial days to the modern, high-tech world. He’s evolved with the times, adapting with each new era, blending into each new life. The one constant is his best friend and lover, Declan.

Until Forge’s soul mate tumbles, literally, into his life.

Even though they’re not fated to be together forever, Forge and Declan are perfectly happy. Despite the pheromone attracting him to his soul mate, Forge isn’t thrilled with the guy, and the feeling seems mutual. While trying to adjust to his clumsy soul mate and equally awkward feelings, Forge is on the hunt for the serial killer who’s leaving a trail of bodies, and who witnesses can’t identify. But Forge better watch out. When his work collides with his love life, things really heat up.

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Review: Electric Candle is book two in The Sleepless City series, which takes us back to Bogg’s Castle, where Simon, Ben, Lucas, Bogg, and Forge live.  Oh, and we can’t forget Moose!  Elizabeth Noble takes us on the second paranormal adventure, where Forge and Blair are our focus.

Oh my, Faust Kells brought so much expression and emotion to this audio, especially the humor.  I loved what he did with Blair. He brought youth, a little innocence and moments of maturity to this character. Lots of humor too when he and Forge first meet.

Lucas’s tone is more gravely and goes along with his persona of being a werewolf. The only voice I was disappointed with was Bogg’s, I wanted him to still have that southern gentlemen drawl portrayed in the audio Shades of Sepia, but he didn’t.

Even though this series is written by two different authors and performed by different narrators, it’s worth the read or the listen, whatever you prefer.  I was not disappointed.

(*Jackie, also did a great review of the e-book of Electric Candle in April 2015.)

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You can buy Electric Candle here:

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5 Stars, Carol Lynne, Genre Romance, Horror, Paranormal, Reviewed by Maryann, Wilde City Press

Review: The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly by Carol Lynne

Amazon

Amazon

Title: The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly

Author: Carol Lynne

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 99 Pages

At a Glance: Carol Lynne creates another well done horror/paranormal story here, with dangerous spirits, satanic worship, possession and old tales of horror.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: After taming the Ghosts of Alcatraz, Fisher Marx left his position as head of the World Police Unit to take a job in the small town of Toblerville. He’d hoped to live out his life in quiet splendor while still using his skills to protect the Hickory County residents, but everything changed when he heard rumors of a young man who claimed to be the victim of regular attacks by a ghost.

Unable to put the young man out of his mind, Fisher decided to investigate the situation. What he discovered in the run down house outside of town would change his life forever.

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Review: The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly is the sequel to Ghost of Alcatraz, where we first meet Fisher Marx. Carol Lynne creates another well done horror/paranormal story here, with dangerous spirits, satanic worship, possession and old tales of horror. These are two excellent stories, but a word of warning: this book does include sexual abuse and violence.

This story picks-up with Fisher starting a new life, but he’s not at peace yet. He’d seen a lot of crazy things during his ordeal at Alcatraz prison, with Jensen Black and Brian Phipps. He hears things being said about a young man, Patrick Donnelly, which are treated as a joke by his fellow officers. He just can’t let it go, so he seeks out Patrick with every intention of helping him. What he finds is a young man who is being sexually abused and tormented by his father’s spirit.

Fisher witnesses the abuse that Patrick is going through, and rescues him, but the “living spirit” follows Patrick to Fisher’s house.  Fisher decides to take Patrick to Pont-Aven, France, and put as much distance as possible between Patrick and the spirit.  But nothing can stop the evil. Fisher has been seeking advice from his friend, Brian Phipps, an ex-parapsychologist, and Brian and Jensen arrive in France to help Fisher and Patrick figure out why Patrick is plagued by the spirit.

Both Fisher and Patrick are searching for something: Fisher wants someone to make life worth living, and Patrick needs real love and peace in his life. Even though there is an age difference between them, I believe it’s a spirit that unites them together. I thought the same about Brian and Jensen when they met in Ghost of Alcatraz. Carol Lynne also introduces some new characters—Gavin, Ian, and Sal—who add an odd twist to this story.

I was really surprised and glad to see this series is continuing. It has been a long time since Ghost of Alcatraz was released (2011), the story that takes us to the year 2020 and a new Alcatraz prison where we meet Jensen, Brian and Fisher for the first time. I liked that she brought Jensen and Brian back for Fisher’s story and am hoping she will continue to bring us more eerie adventures in this paranormal world.

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

You can buy The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly here:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Horror, Paranormal, Reviewed By JJ, Santino Hassell

Release Day Review: Stygian by Santino Hassell

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Stygian

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 217 Pages

At a Glance: I loved this book. I recommend Stygian to anyone who loves horror, paranormal, and dark m/m romance.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but—lost in their own problems—they’re far from the family he sought.

Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band’s enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music, but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.

Kennedy suspects there’s something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he’s finally found somewhere he fits. It isn’t until Kennedy forces the Caroways’ secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.

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Review: After the death of his brother, Jeremy suffers from bouts of madness. He is still trying to get back on his feet when he joins the band called Stygian. He is also motivated to join due to his crush on the guitar player, Kennedy. The book begins when the band decides to rent a house for the summer in order to write new music. However, everything goes wrong from the beginning. No one in the band is on the same wavelength, and they are always fighting with one another. To make matters worse, there is something very creepy about the house and its owners, Hunter and his sister. Even though things don’t feel right, Jeremy ends up becoming closer to Hunter and distancing himself from the band. Fearing the resurgence of his psychosis, Jeremy keeps his suspicions about the house and its owners to himself until it is almost too late.

In addition to being a great book, this genre was a new experience for me. Though there are paranormal and romantic elements, Stygian feels more like horror than anything. I loved how the story kept me on my toes due to not knowing what scary thing would happen next. However, I especially loved the psychological element and the mind games they get sucked into. Due to Jeremy’s past, he was more inclined to doubt his sanity rather than believe the messed up things happening around him.

Another aspect of this book that was impressive was the complicated relationship dynamics between the band members. Jeremy is somewhat lost, but he’s in a band with guys who are also quite lost and damaged. Through their adventure in the house, Jeremy learns painful things about his band mates that help him put his own suffering into perspective. It takes the band almost falling apart before they have the strength to come together and look out for one another. In addition to being suspenseful, this book was also quite sexy.

I loved this book. I recommend Stygian to anyone who loves horror, paranormal, and dark m/m romance.

TNA_Signature_JJ

 

 

 

You can buy Stygian here:

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Giveaways, Santino Hassell

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Stygian Blog Tour with Santino Hassell

Stygian blog tour banner - short

Hi, everyone! Give us a hand in welcoming author Santino Hassell to TNA today, on the kickoff for the Stygian blog tour. Enjoy Santino’s guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance at some great prizes, including:

*A queer paranormal book pack
*A “gothic” tote bag
*A Stygian t-shirt
*A signed copy of Stygian

Good luck!

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I’m With the Band

When I was in high school, I was very briefly in a band. I wasn’t patient enough to learn how to play an instrument on my own and my parents were definitely not about to shell out the duckets to put me in lessons, so I sang. I’m not saying I sang well, but I tried my best and my bandmates only heckled me… a little.

My experience being in a band, and being around other garage bands, was that it can be extremely dysfunctional. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time together, but it was often an intense situation. Five guys with big personalities in one room trying to make a coherent piece of music sounds like a setup for shenanigans. And it was. Constant bickering, nitpicking of each other’s parts and contributions, lateness, imbibing, irresponsibility, and then the slow build of resentment.

I’m not saying ALL bands experience these things but mine certainly did, and I poured some of that into STYGIAN.

STYGIAN is a book about four disaffected queer guys in their twenties who haven’t had a lot of luck in life, and are trying hard to make their band work. The trouble is, the collective chips on their shoulders breeds discontent and most dangerous of all—distrust. However, the feelings shared by these bandmates are so intense that there’s hope for them to overcome their past trauma. They just have to deal with pissing matches, jealousy, and the often frustrating reality of unresolved sexual tension in the process. Oh, and there’s also that whole paranormal element…

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StygianFSBlurb: Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but—lost in their own problems—they’re far from the family he sought.

Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band’s enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music, but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.

Kennedy suspects there’s something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he’s finally found somewhere he fits. It isn’t until Kennedy forces the Caroways’ secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Barnes & Noble

Add Stygian to Your Goodreads Shelf

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Excerpt: “What the hell is wrong with you?” Kennedy exuded the type of impatience he usually saved for packed all-ages clubs that required wounding and maiming to reach an exit. “You’re cultivating your own brand of bitterness at a breakneck speed, and it’s a little fucking irritating.”

Jeremy’s face warmed but he didn’t deny it. It was why he typically sucked up insults and snide comments— his own comebacks made it clear he was more hurt than angry. Which was so much worse.

“I don’t know. I’m just… something.”

“Enlightening.”

Jeremy groaned, covering his face with his hand. “I’m sorry, okay? Just tell me what you wanted to tell me, and I’ll stop being a brat.”

The mattress sank under the weight of Kennedy’s muscular frame. They were close—a little too close—and Jeremy swallowed heavily. Proximity to Kennedy was always a distraction, but with them alone in the house, with their bodies tucked close enough for Jeremy to smell the cigarette smoke and clean sweat clinging to Kennedy’s skin, it was also too intimate. Too easy to remember the night on the porch and all of the things that could have happened if Kennedy had been serious. If he’d opened his mouth a bit more. Let Jeremy taste the hot wetness inside.

Realizing he’d been staring, and imagining, Jeremy shifted his weight and tried to roll away. Kennedy held him in place.

“You’re not a brat.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m just a kid.”

“Jesus Christ.” Kennedy’s breath gusted out. “It’s not an insult. What do you want me to call you? Baby? Darling?”

Jeremy’s face went from warm to burning. “You could just call me Jeremy. Believe it or not, I’m not in fucking love with you like everyone claims,” he lied. “I don’t need terms of endearment when the three syllables in my name work just fine.” Kennedy said nothing, and Jeremy pushed on with a burst of bravado. “And the only time I let a guy call me baby is when he’s in my ass.”

Peripheral vision gave a clear view of Kennedy’s mouth falling open as he did a slow circuit of Jeremy’s sprawled body. “And when’s the last time that happened?”

“The bathroom of that club in Galveston. When we opened up for the Party Kills.”

Kennedy’s gaze sharpened. “Are you kidding me?”

“No.”

“Who?”

“The drummer.”

“You—” Kennedy caught Jeremy’s chin between his thumb and index finger. “You let that monkey-sticking kandi kid nail you?”

“He’s hot,” Jeremy said defensively. “Tall. Hard body. Who cares if he used to cover himself in beaded bracelets in, like, the ’90s?”

Disapproval radiated from Kennedy. And something that sent his lip sloping in a mean curve. “You sure know how to pick them. What’s next? That creepy bastard who owns this hellhole?”

“Hunter isn’t creepy. He’s nice. He even showed me how to get to his house in case I need him for anything.”

“Oh, I bet he fucking did.”

“Dude, what is your problem? Why do you even care whose dick I ride? It’s not like you want me to touch yours.” Jeremy rolled onto his side. Attempts at being brash kept leading to embarrassment, and he really needed to quit while he was ahead.

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Santino HassellAuthor Bio: Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Find Santino at: Website || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads

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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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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Just Desserts by Mary Calmes — Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Audio Gem

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Just Desserts

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 hours and 54 minutes

At a Glance: What made Just Desserts such an enjoyable listen, and maybe just a bit more emotional, was how well Greg Tremblay narrated the story.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Boone Walton has tried hard to create some distance between himself and his past. He’s invested in his new life, his New Orleans art gallery, and his friendship with Scott Wren. Things finally seem to be settling down to normal, and Boone couldn’t be happier.

Chef Scott Wren wants much more than normal with Boone. He wants to raise things to the next level, but Boone is terrified—and not because of the ghost in Scott’s apartment or Scott’s relatives. No, Boone’s past is about to pay him a visit, and the only thing that can get between Boone, Scott, and a hinky recipe for chocolate mousse found in a curious cookbook is the river of pain Boone had to swim across to get to this side of The Big Easy. There’s a secret behind the ingredients, though—one that might reveal the trust and love that have been missing from Boone’s life.

Dividers

Review: Boone didn’t see Scott coming when he entered his gallery, not until it was too late to run from his heart’s destiny. Scott just wasn’t afraid of Boone and his boorish ways! And it didn’t take long for the two to become very good friends. Even though Boone would love to bed Scott, it’s just something Boone would rather not risk if it means the possibility of losing Scott as a friend.

It took moving a dinosaur of a stove with a couple of friends, who ganged up on Boone afterwards, to tell him how much he was in love with Scott. But by the time Boone worked up the nerve to do something about it…someone else had made a move on his man. It then took a recipe from Granny B’s cookbook to bring these two together and oh, how much fun was that? I loved it when Scott finally made his feelings clear.

And it was a bit of a tearjerker when Boone had to finally face his tragic past. He finally let go of it. Old loves are like that, though.

What made Just Desserts such an enjoyable listen, and maybe just a bit more emotional, was how well Greg Tremblay narrated the story. As usual, this man turns in an awesome performance! Tremblay keeps my commute a safe one because there’s no chance of me falling asleep behind the wheel when I’m listening to him narrate a story. Big hugs to Mary Calmes for finding such a great narrator for her stories! I’d also like to mention that our lovely Jules wrote a fantastic review of the ebook version of Just Desserts, if you need a little extra to convince you to give this one a try.

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You can buy Just Desserts here:

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

Review: Myth Adventures by Ally Blue

Amazon US

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Title: Myth Adventures (Mojo Mysteries: Book Three)

Author: Ally Blue

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 192 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Something evil is going down in Atlanta…

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

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

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

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

Dividers

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

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

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

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You can buy Myth Adventures here:

Amazon US

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5 Stars, Holiday Romance, Jordan L. Hawk, Paranormal, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Dangerous Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk

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Title: Dangerous Spirits (Spirits: Book Two)

Author: Jordan L. Hawk

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 157 Pages

At a Glance: Dangerous Spirits is everything a good ghost story should be.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: After the events of Reyhome Castle, Henry Strauss expected the Psychical Society to embrace his application of science to the study of hauntings. Instead, the society humiliates and blacklists him. His confidence shaken, he can’t bring himself to admit the truth to his lover, the handsome medium Vincent Night.

Vincent’s new life in Baltimore with Henry is disrupted when a friend from the past asks for help with a haunting. In the remote town of Devil’s Walk, old ties and new lies threaten to tear the lovers apart, if a fiery spirit bent on vengeance doesn’t put an end to them first.

Dividers

Review: I’ve probably uttered the words, “Oh my god, this is my favorite Jordan L. Hawk book. Evarrrr!” every single time I’ve finished reading a Jordan L. Hawk book. That sort of redundancy is an occupational hazard of which I never tire. And, once again, it’s entirely true.

Putting my finger on the pulse of my love for Dangerous Spirits is simple—the paranormal plot elements in this story are exceptional. How exceptional are they? I was so frustrated by my inability to read fast enough that I kept skipping down the page to see what would happen next, and then going back to read the parts I’d skipped just so I wouldn’t bust a vein from the tension and suspense woven into those scenes. If you’re a fan of horror—the vivid prose and chilling metaphysical story elements that not only get the adrenaline pumping but the goose bumps popping at the deadly visitations from beyond the grave—then this book will scratch every single one of your horror-loving itches. Those scenes are written with a skill, attention to detail, and an inspired celebration of the supernatural, which not only had my imagining working overtime but immediately took me back to the earliest days of my first sleep-with-the-lights-on reads, the books that made me fall in love with this genre in the first place. Though, in a bit of a twist, the author also makes our resident ghost an entirely sympathetic character, not to mention made me glad I, for one, am a 21st century woman.

Lest you aren’t as huge a fan of the macabre as I, though, rest assured that there’s plenty of relationship tension in this story too, not only between Henry Strauss and Vincent Knight, our endearing heroes and earnest lovers, but between Henry and Lizzie, Henry and Jo, and Henry and Sylvester Ortensi, a man from Vincent and Lizzie’s past who comes calling—and brings more than a little danger for the trouble.

Poor Henry, you might see a pattern here. He has a rough go of things in this installment of the Spirits series, and his failure to impress the Psychical Society with his scientific approach to the spirit world culminates in a blow to his already somewhat fragile confidence, especially where Vincent is concerned. Henry and Vincent both are a bit of a study in frustration in this novel, their strife is the epicenter of the story, and yet it’s impossible not to understand their decisions and actions and inactions where each other is concerned because their relationship is still untried by the challenges they each bring to the table, let alone that they have to hide what they mean to each other from the whole of society. There are outright lies and then there are lies by omission; what they share to their core is that the wounds to the conscience can be every bit as painful as telling the truth can be to the heart. Both Henry and Vincent are fortunate to have people in their lives—Jo and Lizzy—who love and want the best for them, are the voices of reason, and who help to make up what many would call a bit of a misfit family.

And, where there’s love, it seems there’s always a way.

Dangerous Spirits is crackin’ good spec fic, fraught with emotion, tautly paced, packed with danger and chills, and—simple as this—it’s what we’ve come to expect from the author. This is an effortless read—unless you take into account the spikes in blood pressure—so light a candle, lay your salt lines, say your prayers, and dig into the fun.

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You can buy Dangerous Spirits here:

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3 Stars, Charley Descoteaux, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal, Reviewed by Sadonna, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: The Pinch of the Game by Charley Descoteaux

Title: The Pinch of the Game

Author: Charley Descoteaux

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 98 Pages

At a Glance: A really interesting, if slightly confusing, paranormal mystery and love story that read like a combination road trip/hot pursuit/screwball comedy.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Being a witch doesn’t mean one can beat the devil forever.

Jeffrey Overton, unemployed IT professional turned poker player, pushes his luck once too often and runs afoul of the host of an illegal card club. The man sent to escort Jeffrey to a “meeting” about his supernatural winning streak arrives at Jeffrey’s crappy North Portland apartment, lock-picking tools in hand and a charm to block Jeffrey’s magick.

Head muscle for said host, Mike Wells, is a Daisy from Daisyville. He isn’t a witch. What he lacks in magickal talent he makes up for in brawn, so he doesn’t expect the guy he’s after to overpower him. But once Mike renders Jeffrey helpless, he’d rather seduce him than bring him in.

Jeffrey and Michael ditch the “meeting” and end up hunting some of the same people they ran from, trying to get Jeffrey back into his own body. And that’s only part of the adventure. The pair travel halfway across the country on the quietest road trip in history and find missing people, empire-building witches, and maybe even the families they’d both thought lost to them

Dividers

Review: This is a different story than the other stories I have read by this author, in that it’s really a paranormal mystery/romance. It’s kind of a combination road trip/one long chase scene/screwball comedy in some ways.

Jeffrey has gotten himself in trouble by using his magic to win at cards. The house does not like this and sends the muscle to bring him in. But, the muscle, Mike, flips all of Jeffrey’s switches, and he’d really rather spend time with Mike than anything else. When they end up on the run together, Jeffrey makes a terrible miscalculation that poses great risk to both himself and Mike.

While on the run and trying to figure out just how to fix the terrible situation they find themselves in, Jeff and Mike end up hiding out temporarily with Mike’s family. There is also the little issue of Jeffrey’s missing mother, more muscle on their tails, and a possible double-cross.

The chase leads halfway across the country, from the home ground of Portland, and draws a bunch of other bad guys (and bad magic) along with them. They aren’t sure who to trust, who is after them, or who is really calling the shots. There are a lot of near misses and some big surprises. Overall, things got a lot more confusing before they became very clear.
I really enjoyed this story, but I wish it had been longer, with additional blanks filled in. The relationship between Mike and Jeffrey is really the heart of the story, and their interaction and dialogue is always energetic. But, at times, I felt like I was missing a couple of chapters here and there. I don’t like a big info dump, but I did feel confused when various characters just “dropped in” to the action, and there wasn’t enough detail for me to figure out what they were doing there, or who they were tied to, or what their part of the game was. It was kind of like walking into a movie 15 minute after it started, where the action that occurs that kicks off the whole movie has taken place and you’ve missed it. I felt like I eventually caught up, but at times the ride wasn’t smooth.

I have enjoyed Charley Descoteaux’s writing in the past, so I welcomed the opportunity to read another longer story. I feel like the author has a unique voice and perspective, and also bases a lot of the stories in my favorite US city, Portland, Oreg0n. Overall, I’d recommend for those who enjoy a good mystery with some romance and magic on the side.

 

 

 

You can buy Pinch of the Game here:

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

Review: Evolution by Lissa Kasey

Title: Evolution

Author: Lissa Kasey

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

At a Glance: Evolution unlocks an exciting paranormal world where the focus is on the heart and soul of its characters rather than just their superhuman qualities.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Gene Sage has only ever wanted to sing, but his band, Evolution, is pushing him toward the big time. He finds it hard to focus on making musical history when he’s dreaming of graveyards and seeing ghosts. And while all he can think of is hiding who he is from a world unforgiving of anyone different, he discovers he’s also the ultimate snack for vampires and demons. When Gene literally runs into—over—his idol, Kerstrande Petterson, rock god, vampire in hiding, and music cynic, his life falls over the edge into chaos.

Jaded by the world and nearly a decade in the music business, Kerstrande thinks Gene wants to use him to make Evolution immortal in more than one way, but he can’t seem to brush aside the young singer’s enthusiasm.

Getting involved with Kerstrande drags Gene into otherworldly power struggles. Between the ghosts stalking them, the media painting supernaturals as villains, and a vampire out of control in the city, the only way for Gene and Kerstrande to survive is for Gene to embrace his powers—and his destiny.

Dividers

Review: How to understand living a life that was always skirting the edge of reality, versus the terrifying thought that there was something so very wrong with you. Genesis sees dead people. But it’s more than that, for he also sees the darkness which possesses people and creates such a sinister and evil change in them that they become nearly unrecognizable. It is more than their aura and yet it is. From an early age he knew he was different, and he spent years being the focus of bullies and trying desperately not to stand out. Then one day, after nearly being drowned, and knowing the one person who professed to be his friend stood by and watched, Genesis chucked school and pursued his dream—to sing. Forming the band Evolution with two friends, he set out to be himself: gay, quirky and unafraid. However, living in a world where vampires were registered and regularly hunted, and being different himself, Genesis still walked on the edge, trying to live free yet still weighed down with fear.

When his car accidentally hits a living legend, Kerstrande, of rock star fame, little does he know that his life is about to change forever, and for the first time, he will truly understand what it is to be the balance in another person’s life. Unfortunately it is unclear if Kerstrande really wants that feeling of calm Genesis provides for he also evokes other strong feelings, and some of those put Genesis in mortal danger.

Author Lissa Kasey creates a world so familiar yet innately sinister and fantastical in her novel Evolution. Set in New York, we enter a city inhabited by creatures that roam the city, hunting others for sport and, of course, for blood. But those are not the only beings that inhabit this world. The undead roam the streets and are just as real and frightening to Genesis as the vampires. Along with these, our hero himself is not quite human and possesses unknown and untapped power waiting to surface. The world building, the paranormal thread that is unraveled, and the tender and poignant person that Genesis is all converge in what is a fascinating story that had me hooked from the very beginning.

Genesis was, in many ways, a simple young man, full of loving compassion and a core of iron strength that had not yet been fully tested despite his painful history. Each time he was described by the author, from his ever-changing hair color to his painted nails, he evoked such a protective response in me. Much like one of her secondary characters, Cris, Gene’s only real friend, I felt such a need to protect this young man. Lissa Kasey writes her novel with such deliberate care, vividly describing her creations, laying out the city with such a visceral and graphic description that you taste the grit and the evil underbelly that makes up her world. To say that this book was an intense ride is an understatement. Ending with a cliffhanger, I am thrilled that I can turn immediately to the next installment in this exciting series.

Evolution unlocks an exciting paranormal world where the focus is on the heart and soul of its characters rather than just their superhuman qualities. It is an exciting novel that I can definitely recommend to those who love this genre.

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You can buy Evolution here:

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5 Stars, Brynn Stein, Dreamspinner Press, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Taz

Review: What No One Else Can Hear by Brynn Stein

Title: What No One Else Can Hear

Author: Brynn Stein

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count:  220 Pages

At a Glance: Though there’s no romantic plotline in this book, it is an excellent story and well worth your time to read.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Young Stevie Liston is diagnosed with autism, but is really an overwhelmed empath who mentally called out for help. Jesse McKinnon heard him in a dream from clear across the country, and that dream sent him on a six-year search to find Stevie. Once they meet, they think everything will work out and Jesse will help Stevie cope.

Stevie does improve immensely, but a disgruntled coworker of Jesse’s conspires with Stevie’s estranged but politically powerful father to keep Stevie and Jesse apart with trumped-up legal charges claiming Jesse sexually abused the boy. Jesse must watch helplessly as Stevie loses all the advances he’s made.

If it wasn’t for his growing relationship with his coworker Drew Ferguson, Jesse knows he wouldn’t have the strength to fight for his rights and Stevie’s future. Drew just might be the real thing, but with the very real possibility of serving jail time for a crime he didn’t commit, Jesse’s hopes for a future with Drew might be doomed.

Dividers

Review: What No One Else Can Hear is a heartwarming and sometimes disturbing story about a man and a boy who share a deep connection. Stevie is an autistic boy who lives in a trancelike state, not talking or interacting except through his drawings. Through an empathic connection, he draws Jerry to him at an institution for other children with autism. When Jerry arrives, Stevie awakens and begins to speak and interact with others. But, he can’t filter out the emotional noise of others around him. This is fine if the emotions are warm and fuzzy, but living in a place filled with children who often have emotional meltdowns, Stevie has a long way to go to learn how to manage the input he receives from everyone around him.

Before I provide the review, I want to mention that this book was not what I’d expected from a Dreamspinner Press title. There was little to no erotic romance in this story. While there was a love interest, there were only a few erotic scenes, and none of them were full out descriptions of sweaty man-sex. Since this is what I was expecting, I found myself getting frustrated as I tried to figure out who the love interest was and why it was taking so long to get to the love story. Had there been a warning, or if the title had been published under DSPP, this pitfall would have been avoided and I would have enjoyed the book for what it was: an excellent story about a boy and a man who shared a connection no one else could understand.

While there were several disturbing events in the book, the action and pace remained tight. Stevie had severe breakdowns when he was receiving too much input from those around him. This would cause him to tear at his clothes, scratch himself, beat his head against solid objects, and basically shut down. Jerry was the only person who was able to get through to Stevie, and slowly helped him to learn how to handle emotionally wrought situations.

Add to the mix several side stories, and the plot kept on spinning with problem after problem. Between the disgruntled colleague at the institute, who hated Jerry from the first day, to Stevie’s political figurehead of a father, who was basically just a sperm donor, trouble just kept piling up, pitting obstacle after obstacle in Jerry’s path as he tried to help Stevie come out of the world he’d secluded himself in. The interactions with these two antagonists resulted in some truly ugly things happening which made me cringe as I read, but that’s good writing if the author can get me to squirm.

As I said, the love interest was a secondary plotline. There were some sex scenes, but none were described in detail. Once I realized this was not an erotic romance, but more of a paranormal story with a romantic side-story, I was able to get on board with the experience of reading the book. What I liked about Drew, Jerry’s love interest, was how he complimented Jerry perfectly, serving as the alpha for Stevie while Jerry provided the nurturing support Stevie needed.

But by far, the star of the book is Stevie. The author absolutely rocked getting inside this kid’s head, clearly did her research about autism, and painted a picture of a boy everyone fell in love with, including me, the reader.

So, if you are interested in reading a story that definitely provides a HEA, but that does not contain a strong erotic plot line, this is a book well worth your time.

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You can buy What No One Else Can Hear here:

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5 Stars, Anthology, Reviewed by Lana, Torquere Press

Review: Plaid Nights Anthology from Torquere Press

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Title: Plaid Nights Anthology

Author: Various (see blurb)

Publisher: Torquere Press

Pages/Word Count: 186 Pages

At a Glance: This book has a little of everything: sexy bad boys, a little mystery, a little paranormal, and a lot of entertainment. It’s a must read.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: In Plaid Nights, men in kilts are as varied as they are hot. Whether they’re caber tossers, rugby players, Highland warriors, country dancers, or time-traveling vampires, they’re up for surprises and sexy good times.

Rob Rosen starts us off with humor in “Tossing It.” Contemporary men discover love in unexpected places in “Whiskey and Want” by Megan McFerren, “Some Like It Scot” by Julia Talbot, “Perfect Working Order” by Elizabeth Coldwell, and “Off-Kilter” by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae. We get a taste of the paranormal in “Sir WW” by Angelique Voisen, “Feumaidh Mi Ruith (I Have to Run)” by Missouri Dalton, and “Kilt in the Closet” by Logan Zachary. And we’re treated to forbidden love in historicals “Hunting for a Highlander” by Lila Mathews, “A Time to Heal” by Anna Mansel, and “As Fair Art Thou, My Bonny Lad” by McKay.

In these stories, some tartan-clad men wear their kilts in the “traditional manner,” while others are less daring. But all find love, and of course, a happy ending—especially at night, when the plaid comes off.

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Review: The Plaid Nights Anthology is a collection of stories about men in kilts. Yes, I said men in kilts! What else do you need? If your kink is men in kilts, like mine, then this book is for you. If it’s not, then it’s going to be if you read this book. I have three words to describe this anthology: Men. In. Kilts! All the stories were ridiculously hot and very well written, but really, all you need to know is that they were hot.

There’s a good assortment of styles and genres. While most of the stories were contemporary, two were historical: One about William Wallace, which I guarantee you’ve never read anything about him like it before. The other story was a fantasy about a witch and a highlander giving in to their desires despite being enemies. Both stories were very entertaining and in a short amount of time, totally sucked me into their worlds. I wish they were longer!

But, the story that was just up my alley was Feumaidh Mi Ruith (I Have to Run) by Missouri Dalton. Cary meets a sexy kilt wearing bad boy, Marcus, in a bar, and hooks up with him. Cary is a thief, so when the opportunity presents itself, he steals something from Marcus. Marcus just happens to be a cop and makes a deal with Cary: if Cary helps him retrieve a piece of jewelry, Marcus will let him go. Well, as you can imagine, it’s not that simple. They get tangled up with bad guys and have hot sex in between. I wanted more sex. Marcus is a typical Alpha, which I love, and he’s also part of a paranormal family. Cary is a twink thief with a heart of gold and some persuasion powers up his sleeve. This element of the story wasn’t really developed, but I wish it was because from the little tease, it sounds like fun! He’s the perfect foil for Marcus. The title is in reference to Cary wanting to run from Marcus, but in the end, he lets Marcus catch him. This was a sexy and romantic story that I didn’t want to end.

Any book that has gorgeous kilted men in it, who love sex and sin, is one I can get behind. This book has a little of everything: sexy bad boys, a little mystery, a little paranormal, and a lot of entertainment. It’s a must read.

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You can buy Plaid Nights Anthology here:

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Dreamspinner Press, J. Scott Coatsworth

Guest Post: Between the Lines by J. Scott Coatsworth

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One of the best things about being an author is that you get to write what you love. For me, that’s always been sci fi and fantasy.

But growing up as a gay kid in the closet, I also wanted to read more about people like me. But I was afraid that if I wrote about them, others might think I was gay – something that had to be avoided at all costs.

Eventually, though, I came out – but my writing didn’t. I still tended to write the same heterosexual characters. And then I stopped writing.

Then about two years ago, I got bitten by the writing bug again. With some encouragement from my husband, Mark, I picked up the metaphorical fountain pen and set to it once more.

But this time was different. This time I decided to write about my family in the LGBTQI community. My fiction took on a new life and energy, powered by the revelation that I had things to say, both in sci fi and fantasy and in my own community.

And about my actual community. My first stand-alone novella, Between the Lines, is one of which I am fiercely proud. Not just because it’s the first thing I’ve written with my name (only my name and no one else’s) on the cover, but because it’s about my adopted hometown, Sacramento. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and some of my favorite places are included. A few of them appear under their real names, while others have been fictionalized. But when I read the story, I can see in my head exactly where each scene takes place.

Sacramento is a quiet place for a big city, and it’s a political town. As the state capital, it’s where all the major policy fights happen, and it seemed like the perfect place to set my political magical realism tale.

If you read it, I hope you like it – it’s my little love letter to Sacramento.

And if you are considering becoming a writer, here’s some advice. Write because you have to, because the words are burning you up inside and are trying to get out.

Write what you love.

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BTL CoverBlurb: Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.

Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.

While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad’s not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.

Categories: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Dividers

Excerpt: It began with a medallion.

The piece was a simple wooden disk, hand carved with the shapes of leaves and forest boughs and polished by centuries of use, giving it a patina of great age.

It sat upon a small green velvet pillow—the kind jewelers sometimes use, rather unsuccessfully, to enhance a plain necklace of false pearls. The kind you might expect to find on your grandmother’s settee, in a slightly larger size, embroidered with “Home Sweet Home.”

Yet there was something compulsive about it—something hidden in the dark crevices of the carving, filled with the dust of ages.

At least that’s what Brad would recall years later, when he thought back on the first time he saw it: the moment when the lines of his mundane life suddenly snarled, snapped, and ultimately recombined into something quite different.

Of course, he didn’t know any of this at the time.

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Author BioAuthor 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.

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LoveLight Press, Pop Cherry

Guest Post and Excerpt: The LoveLight Press Launch Tour With Pop Cherry

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Lost in the Borderlands

A Traveler’s Guide (From the forthcoming DMP Guidebook ©Pop Cherry2015)

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering what happened after you sat down in that swivel chair at your local tat shop as a happily buzzing drill delivered the first line of ink to your skin. I’m willing to bet you thought the shiny new tribal design your tattooist talked you into was just a configuration of swanky lines that don’t mean anything at all in the grand scheme of things.

You probably figured the ink he used wasn’t at all enchanted in any way, and wouldn’t alter your electromagnetic vibrational matrix then deliver you to a chasm in the planet that you’d have to fight like hell to get out of? It’s not like Magick exists, right? Shifters and necromancers and genetic-altered hybrids like Noxics are just a product of some overworked writer’s imagination. It’s not like there’s a real way to get stuck in the acid-torn world they’re all a part of, is there?

If I might ask, did you by any chance read the last line on the waiver your not-so-trusty tattooist made you sign?

I’m betting you didn’t.

You should have.

Magick does exist, and that overworked writer who penned the tales of the Borderlands? She works for a secret branch of interdimensionalists tracking the wily Dr. Deveaux. Look, don’t be alarmed. We can get you out of this bind, but we’re going to need you to do a few things for us while you’re there. Yes we. We’ll get to all the “who we are” and why we’re helping you once you make it to the Night Train.

Here’s what you’ll need to stick into your memory slots while you navigate your way to said Night Train. You’ll hear some things about that particular rail, but there’s a hidden room in there that will get you out of the acid-torn borderlands if you know where to look (see the attached map if it hasn’t been confiscated, destroyed, or stolen by the wrong sorts…).

Before you get there, get the following through your disoriented head (the confusion of the trip will wear off in an hour or so, hold tight):

Beware the Nymphs 

Nymphs sound like cute, fuzzy waifs, scantily clad and nice to look at. Maybe even glittering with sparkling glitter and waving a magical wand, yeah? Not in the Borderlands, okay? Remember that. They’re an infusing species. That means, like Noxics (we’ll get to that), they can and will make you into one of them. And while sex and rock ‘n’ roll are fun for the first few thousand years, we’re willing to bet it gets old after awhile. Steer clear.

Sometimes The Necromancers Are Your Friends 

Necs catch a very bad rap, but there’s not a lot to be done about that while the ruling magicians need a scapegoat, so… don’t get caught being “too” friendly with them, or their enemies will probably become your enemies. As you might guess, their enemies are some of the worst. Incidentally, necromancers are usually all-around good people with a healthy does of reverence for the ancestors and those who’ve passed on.

The Noxics Are Always Recruiting

They’re fast, there’s no official cure or immunization for the infection, or any developed, magical death blow, yet. Pack potions. Study your magic guide. If you see them, run. But if you can hide, make it a good spot so you aren’t forced to join their gangly, menacing crew.

The Magicians In The Tower Probably Won’t Help You 

These jokers will give you the run around, unless you come from a prestigious magical family or have some sort of genius-level skill they can exploit. Simply put: They’re not your friends. Don’t let them get in your head. DO raid the conference rooms if you wind up visiting the tower. Lots of goodies in there, and they don’t keep inventory on that sector.

Collect As Many Magically Charged Items As You Can 

Magic is hard on the Border, so most magicians store it in trinkets. The one who collects the most items, may not “win,” but he or she will have a leg to stand on in the trading boothes, and needed protections if troubles comes sniffing around – and no one robs them of their goods.

Read Dr.Deveaux’s Contracts Carefully

And then, don’t sign them. You might not realize it, but he’s part of the reason you’re in this bind in the first place (more on that later)..

For further guidance, take it from a rogue wolf and an Enforcer who have tons of experience in the Borders (their account’s been “fictionalized” to protect the innocent in ‘BorderLine’, but all the juicy bits and cautionary notes await): http://DarkMoonPack.tumblr.com/

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DMP-Borderline-LgTxtBlurb: In an acid-torn world, the plight of one rogue wolf surviving on the resources he gathers on runs across perilous, rover-infested borders is to live another day and find the ring the deranged Dr. Deveaux has promised a life-altering payment for. Getting caught by the Enforcer’s cronies does not fall into the plans, nor does the betrayal of his own heart as he finds himself pining for the severe Alpha, when he’s put through the remaking process all rogues who’ve left their packs are subjected to.

Now made to identify as the Enforcer’s “Little Wolf,” can Nor finish the job while he’s locked in the compound? Does he even want to? And how does he contend with the feelings Saren Lash stirs in him, when he’s not even sure the region’s commander feels them, too?

An intensely steamy, paranormal, bdsm m/m romance set in the borders of a post-apocalyptic world struggling for hope.

Buy Links: LoveLight Press | Amazon US

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Even love can undo a breaker of men.

When a rogue wolf is dropped to the tiles of Saren Lash’s hall, the alpha Enforcer has no idea how quickly the shifter he intends to break and remold will turn the tables. Can the unyielding Enforcer resist the increasing press of the defiant rogue’s fire and beauty, or will he wind up remaking himself as he attempts to subdue the wild runner?

Nor has no intention of becoming a toy for Tek’s pack, no matter how glacial the Enforcer Lash may be. He’s always lived his life his own way and refuses to change that now. Can he withstand the Enforcer’s impact on his mind during the remaking process? And if he finds himself growing fond of the Enforcer, can he be sure the idea is actually his own?

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Excerpt: This would be the first breaking that I secretly feared might break me, as well. I’d never wanted to keep any of the others like I wanted to possess him. If Tek sent part of the pack to come collect him, I knew in my heart that I would stall and do everything in my power to distract from the request.

Such was a forbidden drive for an enforcer.

Completely off of protocol.

Maybe even… unjust. I knew the laws and the purposes for them better than most. Haunted as I was by this sweet rogue’s beauty, I could send him to another hall, another enforcer. Someone who could be trusted to break him properly, so he could be remade and reincorporated into his pack.

Yet, my gaze poured over him like one who’d already been drawn into the binds of a lover.

I found him elegant in his discomfort. Supple and prone. A beautiful nymph of a man.

It spurned me on to make full use of him.

My cock grew uncomfortably tight beneath my robes as I observed him.

“Lower his ties.”

My voice held the steel it was meant to. That was the way of all Enforcers, delegating what was to be done from a firm, seemingly unmovable seat. But, oh, how this man moved me, despite what I was ordered to do to him in obeisance with the law.

The attendants lowered the binds and reaffixed them, quickly stepping away from us, their eyes avoiding me like they clearly read my intentions. I would not waste time wondering whether or not they approved.

I never did.

They had no vote in the matter.

“On your knees, Little Wolf.”

My command was sudden, but Nor obeyed, his gait near-faltering as his knees touched to the hard surface of the exhibition room tiles. He lifted his eyes to me then, and I was instantly lost in them, my balls swollen with desire.

Could he see how he affected me?

I hoped not. I did not know if I would ever be ready for that. Drawing myself up, I recalled the old dictum: Mastery over discomfort.

Especially by the hand who doles it out so consistently.

I realized the ridiculousness of it, the irony of being reduced to this feeling of uncertainty by a mere rogue, a young, foolish wolf, at that.

“Take your prize, Little Wolf.”

I watched his eyes darken hearing my command, understanding my meaning in the instant. His prize, indeed. Leaning in to gently part my robes with an almost instinctual reverence, Nor parted his lush lips in obeisance and flicked my cock with his tongue, wet and soft as it grazed my length, searching at first until finally offering full supplication.

I bit back a hiss when his fevered lips surrounded the crown of my shaft, the sweet heaven of his tongue inching over my length in slow measurement until his mouth closed around me with a masterful draw that I swore made the world disappear from around us.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Pop Cherry is a lover of paranormal adventures, magical heroes, and unusual creatures. The ‘Dark Moon Pack: Borderline’ series releasing through LoveLight press slow simmers these elements and draws you into a world of intrigue, apocalyptic power plays, and very special, lost ties that completely redefine its heroes in deeply challenging ways.

Pop Cherry’s unisex (m/m, m/m/f, m/f/m, and m/f) erotic romance books contain very steamy, and sometimes heavily erotic romance content woven into adrenalin-spiking plotlines that focus on adventure, danger, and the triumph that carries its heroes and heroines through it all to the heart-throbbing HEA at each story’s end.

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5 Stars, Audio Book, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Camp Hell by Jordan Castillo Price – Narrated by Gomez Pugh

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Title: Camp Hell (PsyCop: Book Five)

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Narrator:: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: JCP Books

Run Time: 10 Hours and 55 Minutes

At a Glance: The PsyCop series is the perfect marriage of author and narrator.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Victor Bayne honed his dubious psychic skills at one of the first psych training facilities in the country, Heliotrope Station, otherwise known as Camp Hell to the psychics who’ve been guests behind its razorwire fence.

Vic discovered that none of the people he remembers from Camp Hell can be found online, and there’s no mention of Heliotrope Station itself, either. Someone’s gone through a lot of trouble to bury the past. But who?

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Review: Fans of any book series, regardless of genre, will know what I mean when I call Camp Hell a transition book. It’s the book in the series where the hero hits a point in his story arc that signifies an evolution from which there’s no turning back. Victor Bayne has come to that crossroad in Camp Hell, Jacob Marks along with him, and it’s in this book that the PsyCop series transitions from outstanding speculative fiction to entering a class in the M/M genre all by itself.

Up until now, Vic has been rather a blank slate with regards to his time at Heliotrope Station—a.k.a. Camp Hell—and it hasn’t helped that he can’t find a single mention of the place, or of himself, on the internet. Camp Hell has become the one spectre Victor Bayne, medium extraordinaire, can’t see. Nor can he find any trace of some of the names he remembers from his stint there—as if neither the place nor that period of time were even a reality on his physical plane of existence. Except that Vic knows Camp Hell was real, and now he’s located someone to help him dig up and sift through some of those repressed memories.

We learn some things about Vic in this installment of the series, some pretty revealing things, one of them being that before Jacob stormed into Vic’s life, there was Stefan Russo. And Victor loved him. But, not quite enough to prevent Vic from keeping his face turned toward the sun and bolting from Heliotrope Station at the first opportunity. Stefan, now Steven Russell, fourteen years later, is the one who will help Vic remember the fragments of their time together at Camp Hell. Which leads to another of the things we learn in the process, and that’s how very few people—if any—Vic has in his life that he can trust with every part of himself. But we also finally get to see that Jacob comes first on that list.

In Camp Hell something quite significant also becomes much clearer with respect to the relationship between Victor and Jacob, and what Jacob means as a presence in Vic’s life. Vic’s life is death—so much of his existence revolves around the dead, but Jacob…Jacob is a source of life and energy that Victor knows he can trust, possibly even cling to when he needs it, and it’s a great contrast which is juxtaposed even further in that Vic also knows that to work with Jacob would drain him dry, in no uncertain terms.

Not only does Camp Hell excel at exposing more about the characters in this series we’re already familiar with, it also introduces some new players whose roles will be significant as the plot thickens and this series progresses. But where this novel reaches its pinnacle is in the supernatural elements Jordan Castillo Price has imagined, which is not only written with an impressive amount of detail but in a bone-chilling, goose-bump inducing, full-on horror genre fashion. The true horror, however, may be the reinforcement that human monsters exist.

The imagery in the climactic scene with Vic, Jacob, and the ghost at LaSalle Hospital is some of the most vivid fiction I’ve ever read, or, in this case, listened to, the kind of scene you still see when it’s over, every time you close your eyes. Not only that, but it’s such a pivotal moment for both Vic and Jacob, and was the aftermath of us empathizing just a little more with Zig, as well as it being the precursor to a touching and quite human moment with Warwick, a poignancy that doesn’t hit you until that “ah-ha” moment, and then makes your heart clench in empathy.

What could have possibly made this book better? Only one thing: Gomez Pugh narrating it. I’m running out of superlatives to heap on this man’s head, to be perfectly frank, and I remain impressed by not only his capturing Vic’s wit, pragmatism, and an insouciance the medium doesn’t necessarily feel—though attempts to project when anything more would reveal too much—but he continues to come up with new pitches and inflections for the impressive array of characters, both male and female, in the PsyCop series. The addition of Richie (aka Einstein) and his giggle; Dead Darla, who sounds exactly like a woman who’d be called Dead Darla; Con Dreyfuss, the wolf in hemp clothing; and Stefan, whose pretension and personality ooze from Pugh’s vocal cords, only serve to elevate this novel’s intensity and provocativeness.

The PsyCop series and Gomez Pugh were made for each other, the perfect marriage of a narrator who clearly appreciates the material he’s performing, and a series that uses his vocal prowess to its best effect.

TNA_Signature_Lisa







 

You can buy Camp Hell here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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Giveaways, KJ Charles, Samhain Publishing

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles

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The Novel Approach is please to welcome author KJ Charles today, along with an exclusive excerpt from her latest novel The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal. Enjoy the tease and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win one of three e-copies of the book being offered in the giveaway.

Good luck!

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Hi, and thanks to The Novel Approach for having me!

My new book, The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, comes out on 16 June, and I have an extract for you here, as well as a Rafflecopter giveaway of three copies, running across the blog tour.

Background: London, 1894, and there are ghostly goings-on at a young duke’s home. Journalist Robert Caldwell has been sent to get the story, on the grounds of his personal acquaintance with ghost-hunter Simon Feximal (which is quite a lot more personal than his editor suspects, since they’ve ended up in bed on both their previous meetings). But there’s no sign of Simon outside and no journalists are being allowed in…

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SecretCasebookOfSimonFeximal-The300Blurb: A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell

September 1914

Warning: Contains a foul-tempered Victorian ghost-hunter, a journalist who’s too curious for his own good, villainy, horror, butterflies, unusual body modifications, and a lot of tampering with the occult.

Buy Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | ARe

Add It To Your Bookshelf At GOODREADS

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Excerpt:  Rodericks of the Gazette gave me a knowing look. “You are acquainted with the man Feximal, are you not?”

“I am.”

“I saw your copy from Winchester. Good stuff.” Rodericks narrowed his eyes. “You wouldn’t be planning to steal a march on us with personal association, would you, dear boy?”

I denied it utterly and insincerely. Murchison and Rodericks closed in on me.

“Listen, my boy,” Murchison told me quietly, while Rodericks glared our fellows away. “Hopkin got inside this morning, but the spook-shyers wouldn’t talk to him. Your pal Feximal marched him out. Poor fellow looked scared half to death, couldn’t say a word. The fact is, we’re all stumped, because it’s no good to get in if you can’t stay in. Now, if we can finagle you inside, do you suppose you can persuade Feximal to talk to you?”

“I might,” I said cautiously. I did not think it likely, but one should never say no before hearing the offer.

“You’d want to be reasonably sure. He’s a bruiser of a fellow.” I knew that well; his finger marks had lingered on my hips for days. “Because I’ve greased a servant here, and not used her yet, and I believe I can get a man inside.”

“Put him in his shirtsleeves,” Rodericks said, with a rude nod in my direction. “He’ll look just like the baker’s boy.”

“But it’s halves on the story, Bobster,” Murchison insisted. “I’ll want something exclusive.”

“Thirds,” Rodericks said over his shoulder. “The maid was my lead in the first place.”

“Halves, and you two split what I give you,” I said firmly. “If Feximal doesn’t want me in there he’s liable to tear me limb from limb.” What a thought. Simon truly angry with me was not a sight I wished to see, but Simon venting his outrage with a stern and punishing hand… I reined in my thoughts before they wandered too far from decency.

Murchison and Rodericks exchanged looks. “Halves,” they agreed without further argument, and I knew then that the task ahead of me should not be taken lightly.

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KJ CharlesAbout the Author: KJ Charles is a Rainbow Award-winning romance writer and freelance editor. She blogs about writing and publishing, spends too much time on Twitter, and has a Facebook group for book chat and sneak peeks. The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, a Victorian occult m/m romance, is coming from Samhain on 16 June.

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THE GIVEAWAY:

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Cover Reveal, Dreamspinner Press, Giveaways, Indra Vaughn

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Fragmented (Shadow Mountain: Book Two) by Indra Vaughn

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Title: Fragmented
Series: Shadow Mountain (Sequel to Fated)
Author: Indra Vaughn
Publishers: Dreamspinner Press
Releasing: June of 2015
Length: 266 Pages
Categories: Paranormal, Murder Mystery
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Blurb: The capture of the Tattoo Murderer has demanded a heavy price. Doctor Tobias Darwin is dead, Lieutenant Hart is back in Riverside licking his substantial wounds, and he needs to gather his courage and tell Isaac he made a mistake. Isaac will forgive him—he knows that—but he can’t promise Isaac an easy life. Being a cop comes with its own risks, after all.

When they finally reach the same wavelength, their idyllic reprieve is cut tragically short. Hart doesn’t know yet that Isaac is terminally ill, that he will take off to find the Phoenix to heal him as a last resort. This time, it will be Hart who pays the price.

In the meantime, a new killer roams the streets of Riverside. He kidnaps, tortures, and kills gay men in horrific ways, and he has the newly healed Isaac in his sights. Hart’s time is running out on every level.

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Excerpt: “How’s your shoulder?” Hart asked.

“Not bad. I get a twinge every now and again, but it’s healing up nicely. How about you? I guess spending the night is out of the question, huh,” he asked, running his fingers lightly over Hart’s aching side.

“Unless you want to sleep beside a drug-induced snorer, probably yes,” Hart said. “I don’t think I can even stand up long enough to shower.” Isaac had a smear of paint on his cheek, and Hart wiped at it with his thumb but ended up spreading it around more. He grinned and took Isaac’s face between his palms. “Did you have time to think?”

Isaac touched Hart’s shirt, pressing his fingertips lightly against the center of his breastbone. “Like I could stop.”

Hart put his hand over Isaac’s. It trembled. “So you ready to have a go at this, then?”

Isaac laughed and ducked his head. “You know how happy it makes me to hear you ask me that?” he said, voice low. He put his arms around Hart’s shoulders and drew him carefully near, pressing his nose against Hart’s neck. “So fucking ready,”he mumbled, kissing the soft skin above Hart’s clavicle lightly.

Hart drew back a little, just enough so he could kiss Isaac on the mouth. Outside the night chirped with the last of the cicadas, and he thought how strange it was to stand in his dimly lit garage, which smelled of spilled oil and turpentine, feeling happier than he could ever remember.

The kiss deepened and Isaac gently squeezed Hart’s shoulders. He made a hoarse noise when Hart gathered up his T-shirt at the small of his back and palmed his skin, but as soon as Hart needed to take a deep breath, his aching body protested unkindly.

Reluctantly Hart let Isaac go. “You have no idea how badly I wish I was up for this now.”

Isaac rested his fingertips against Hart’s sternum. “Can I see?”

Hart took a small step back, but Isaac didn’t allow the contact between them to break. “I don’t—it’s not pretty.”

“I don’t expect it to be. I’ve got a wild imagination.”

Hart breathed carefully, then held his hands out palms up as if to say “go ahead.” With a touch so gentle he could hardly feel it, Isaac lifted his shirt, then ran light fingers around the puncture wounds on his side.

“That’s not so bad,” he said, and then his eyes narrowed. “Where’s the stab wound?”

Hart turned around and Isaac lifted the shirt, slowly higher and higher, until the scars were bared. He didn’t say anything for the longest time, but Hart could feel him swish his thumb back and forth over his left shoulder blade. Isaac turned him around again, eyes shimmering.

“We’ve got matching scars now,”Isaac said, trying to make light, but his bottom lip quivered. “Oh, love.”

His eyes were so sad Hart thought he’d break in half. He reached out and cupped Isaac’s face, so he could pull him close and rest their cheeks together.

“I’m all right now, angel. I’m all right. I wish I could show you how much—”

“You go rest,” Isaac said, gently rubbing his hands over Hart’s arms and kissing him lightly one more time. “Like you said, we’re in no hurry. I’ll come see you tomorrow. I’m glad I can say that now. I’m so happy you’re back.” He smiled bashfully, and Hart watched him go through the open garage door.

Across the street where Isaac lived with his mom until he returned to school, one of the upstairs curtains moved. One of the three nosy brothers? Hart turned around and grinned. He had a box full of unsolved murders and his body felt like it was a hundred years old, but he couldn’t remember ever feeling this light.

It was well after midnight when Hart fell into bed, limbs lax and mind swimming from a painkiller. He imagined he could still feel Isaac’s mouth on his like a promise of more to come. The thought made his dick swell and Hart stuffed a hand down his boxers to tug at his balls, just to feel that sweet ache. His body felt too boneless and weak with fatigue to really do much about his growing arousal, but it didn’t matter. The heat in his blood was enough.

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Giveaways

In honor of the upcoming release of Fragmented, Indra Vaughn is offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of Fated, Book One in the Shadow Mountain series. To enter for a chance to win, just click on the Rafflecopter widget.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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FatedFATED: Two towns flank the looming Shadow Mountain. A dark myth of the Predator drifts through the dense trees, a tale Police Lieutenant Hart never paid much attention to. When one unresolved death follows another—some people dying without discernible cause while others are clearly, and often brutally, murdered—he can’t ignore it any longer. Truth may lie in myth, but this one is spread to deceive everyone. The Predator exists, but he’s not entirely human. Hart will have to find the connection between the mysterious figure and victims with only one thing in common: a faint tattoo on the backs of their necks, a mark left when someone healed their incurable diseases.

Isaac Lasko has been in love with Hart since he moved in across the street seven years ago. He’s been helping Hart renovate his home, and their friendship grows more intense with the years, but Isaac can’t help wishing for a deeper bond. When he finally breaks through the lieutenant’s armor, the mystery surrounding the Predator threatens them both. Help will come, but at a price.

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