Giveaways

All You Need Is Love – The Divine Magazine Blog Hop and Giveaway

divine-pride-blog-hopWhy We Need Romance

Have you ever noticed that the “R” word has a bit of a reputation? You know the one, where the romance genre is pooh-poohed and scoffed at and labeled fluff and drivel, while we readers are sniffed at for rotting our brains on a spun-sugar plot as simple as two people meeting and making a connection and falling for each other in a way that can’t be explained by science, or religion, or voodoo magick…

There is, however, a chemistry to love. The brain releases dopamine, contributing to the feelings of euphoria that come along with those early days of a new romance. Our hearts race. We get weak in the knees. We break out in goose bumps. We smile more. We laugh more. We may even cry more. We focus on the shiny beautiful things and ignore all the stress life has to throw our way because we’re so busy falling in love.

Funny thing, isn’t it then, that we feel all those same things when we read about two people falling in love in a book—two people who’ve never existed anywhere but in a writer’s imagination…until that author puts words to page and makes those two people real to us? We experience empathy when love goes wrong, and a secondhand elation in the romantic notion that there’s love enough in this world to give us hope that it will always win.

When we read a well-written romance, our hearts race, we get weak in the knees, we break out in goose bumps, we smile, we laugh, we cry… and we escape all the other stress life has to throw our way while we’re busy reading and falling in love with a story and its characters.

And the most beautiful part of our love of romance is that there’s always the next great couple there and waiting for us to embrace them–whether they be two men, two women, and man and a woman, or, come to think of it, any and all of the variations thereof that we meet along the way in our books.

Because love, after all, is love. And the love of a good book is a love that keeps on giving. :)

The Novel Approach is so pleased to be participating in the Divine Magazine blog hop celebrating love in all its forms. Be sure to click on the link to enter for the chance to win their massive tour-wide giveaway.

For the chance to win TNA’s exclusive giveaway, a $25 Gift Card at Amazon or ARe, winner’s choice, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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THE DIVINE MAGAZINE GREAT BIG GIVEAWAY

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THE NOVEL APPROACH GIVEAWAY

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

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Deanna Wadsworth, Decadent Publishing

This Is A Trio Of Holiday Sexy By Deanna Wadsworth


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“It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 40, 60, 80, or 100. Embrace your sexy-ass self and express it!” ― Steve Maraboli




Pip’s Boxing Day Wish

Summary:

Having been sent to the North Pole with the Santa’s Little Helpers outreach programme as a child, Pip has always worried what the other inhabitants of Christmas’s homeland thought of him. But after spending a heated Christmas with two other elves, selected from Ms Claus’s super sexy list, Pip is even more worried. He didn’t mean for everyone to think he was just another guy trying to get his sugar-balls off. Pip wants love and a boyfriend, and that pretty much makes up his Christmas list.

When Santa employs the elf for a super important Christmas mission, Pip is over the moon. But his guide on that mission is to be someone he shared mind-blowing sex with for the randy Ms Claus at that fateful Christmas party. Judging by the looks he’s getting, Pip is sure that this elf thinks of him like all the rest do. Could he be wrong? Could this mission turn things around and grant Pip his Boxing Day Wish?

Review:

I will start this review by saying that this is the second instalment of Ms Wadsworth’s endearing Christmas tale from the Naughty North Pole (the first was a tale of Ms Claus and so I skipped it and went straight for the man-on-man section of the holiday romp). Naturally, coming in at a later stage in a tale is always tricky, as some parts of the fable are missed, but true to her style, Deanna Wadsworth has all bases covered and leads the reader by the hand and straight into the fantasy with all questions answered. Next, I will commend the author for taking a story that has been an institution for hundreds of years and giving it a fresh and original take. What Twilight did for vampire lore, Wadsworth has done for the candy coated tradition of the classic Christmas stories of yore. To summarise, the team at the North Pole are derived from Norse mythology, Santa and Ms Claus being descendants of a God and thus, their power inherited. The elves in this story are not the little people with curly toed booties; instead, they are light and dark elves who have been sworn to the cause from their distant lands. Think Legalos instead of Willow, and you are getting the right idea.

For me, this story was quite a delight to read, despite being an erotica story, which is something I don’t generally get involved with. But lucky enough, I’m a Christmas junkie, so I liked it anyway. Whilst still capturing the essence of the holiday, the author has delivered a great little tale of life at the top of the world, with characters that we can all relate to. The dark and brooding elf, Erik, seemed complex and stoic. Light elf Lars was cocky and arrogant. And then there is Pip. Pip for me was the epitome of the holiday, his playful nature and childlike ponderings slotting perfectly into a holiday tale of finding love where you least expect it. However, his innocence may or may not have made the sexual parts of this story a little hard to swallow (much like the candy-cane flavoured orgasms these little guys seem so fond of exchanging). But ultimately, I couldn’t help but love each of these characters, all so different yet all so familiar at the same time.

The stories progression was executed with precision and delivered gift wrapped in colourful words that truly embraced the reader. Each little event was planned and delivered down the chimney of my imagination and for the short time it took to ingest the tale, I was right there, knee deep in snow, playing games and riding reindeer with the fictional offerings. This story also served to be an introduction to the character of Nick (that’s Santa Claus to you and me) and give us just a little teaser of what’s to come when Old St Nick (who is more like an Abercrombie model) takes the reins.

This tale is not meant to be taken seriously; it was written in good humour with an erotic twist that had me finishing reading it in no time at all. Whilst it sated the dirtier side of my mind, it also made me excited for the impending holiday festivities. If you want some light-hearted Christmas cheer, then this series is right for you. Though the thought of peanut butter flavoured spunk repulses me, this addition to the prolific works of Ms Wadsworth left me hungry for more. Luckily, Santa hears all our wishes and is delivering me another story, his own story, from the Naughty North Pole.

While this wasn’t my favourite instalment from the series, it still did the trick for me. 3.5 glistening snowflakes for Pip and his sexy Boxing Day wish.

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A Gift for Santa

Summary:

As a young man, Nick watched as the party boomed, his eyes fixed on the handsome weather sprite as he painted images on the window in ice. The two men bonded, their attraction building into the perfect kiss. And then Jack walked away. Decades later and Nick is still smarting from the rejection, his heart still longing for Jack Frost the way it had when he was younger. So when Jack approaches him on the street, Nick cannot deny the attraction is still roaring between them. Almost on a dare, they retreat to a nearby hotel and indulge in the pent up sex they missed out on as young men. But Jack’s frosty outer layer has always been their biggest obstacle, and Nick is left out in the cold once again. How could Nick feel so strongly for a man who hates everything he stands for? What kind of man hates Christmas?

Review:

After reading the light-hearted prequel to this Christmas jaunt, I was not expecting what I read in this short novella. I was expecting scenes of sex and blazing lust with a twist of good humour. But as with most great writers, Deanna Wadsworth set to shading outside the lines in this beautifully romantic erotic tale that left me pining right there with Nick. Nick, for those of you who don’t realise, is actually Santa Claus, only much younger looking, with an athletic body and sans beard. Both Nick and Jack being God-like characters of mythology make a perfect match for each other, and their tale has so many levels that I was taken in and cosied up with the men within the first page. Wadsworth transcended the genre when she put this story together, and the best part about this was the romance that, I must admit, had me shed a tear or two throughout.

It might seem a little tacky to make jolly old Santa a hot and sexy guy, but with the twisting etymology of his roots, based in ancient mythology in this case, the character stood as a beacon for the old ways, whilst still embracing the traditional values of the holiday. It was like reading that same jolly giant but with much more sex appeal. And what made it better? Santa was holding out for the man he loved and had not made love to another in decades. Jack seemed to be the opposite of Nick; dark where Nick is light, smooth where Nick is hairy, bitter where Nick is optimistic. He literally had his frost sewn into the fabric of his character and together, the two men made a duo of unexpected yet completely natural antithesis. From very early on, it was clear that Jack’s dislike of the holiday was more than just his razor tongue and his ingrained cold veneer. There was more bubbling beneath the surface.

This book also saw the return of some of our previous beloved cast; Nick’s half sister, the optimistic elf Pip, the jaded elf Lars. This is what I love from a series. It takes great skill to interweave characters like this, but Wadsworth seemed to do it effortlessly and it flowed perfectly like a fresh glass of eggnog, right down my gullet and warming me all the way.

Now let’s talk sex. For an author known for her raunchy plot twists and tangles of heated flesh splaying out across the page, this addition actually saw a tenderness I was not expecting. The sex was slower, more calculated and appreciated as something more than just body contact. That’s not to say it wasn’t hot as hell (or cold as ice). Here’s a hint…Jack can make anything out of frost, including things shaped like a cock. I‘m still reeling from that little treat. I also found the fight for sexual dominance very intriguing, as both characters were rooted in typical views of masculinity, and having them fight for the upper hand was both increasingly erotic and so typically alpha male. A lot of time and thought clearly went into the creation of this power struggle, and it backed the story up magnificently.

Ultimately, what we have here is a Christmas tale that transcends the norm. It is a tale of want and desire and the complexities of a love that won’t diminish through time. It was effortlessly easy to get drawn in and impossible to escape the feelings between these two men. And to top it all off, it was a very original take on all our Christmas traditions. I strongly recommend this book. Read it by the fire with a cup of peppermint hot chocolate and the Christmas tree lights illuminating the room. A 4.5 snowflake addition to a cracking Christmas series. Deanna Wadsworth has truly outdone herself. And she isn’t stopping there. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment.

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Fun and Games with Rudolph

Summary:

Ever since that fateful night where Lars was picked from Ms. Claus’s list, the light elf has had the niggling feeling that something big is missing from his life. After countless one-nighters and the ease of sex from the newly developed Elf4Elf app, Lars could have any ass he wanted. But his correspondence with an elf over the app has led him to break his cardinal rule; no repeats.

Something about Mike has him hooked. So when Mike abandons his daily messaging, Lars is back in his slump.

At Santa’s request, Lars sets out across the snow to Sugar Plum Ridge on a mission to deliver a Christmas gift to the shamed elf Rudolph, who has put himself into isolation after the embarrassing events of his failure to breed flying reindeer with glowing noses. A storm traps the two men together on the ridge, and what should have been a night of magical Christmas cheer, might just turn into something neither elf had ever dreamed.

Review:

Book four in the Naughty North Pole series, Fun and Games with Rudolph, is the story of Lars, a light elf who has popped into all the previous books. Lars has a reputation for being quite the cad, using and abusing his conquests before kicking them to the dirt. I liked the way this characters ambiguous thoughts on relationships were hinted at in the earlier stories, and when we meet Lars, the reader already feels they know a thing or two about the detached Lothario. Whilst we have been trained to dislike this character, being inside this elf’s mind gives the reader a view of the softer side of Lars and uses the exposure to Ms Claus’s powerful pheromones as the stimulus that opened his eyes to a new way of thinking.

I was quite fond of the introduction of Elf4Elf, a newly developed dating app created by Pip, one of our former protagonists who found love in book two. This not only modernized the story, but truly gave Lars the means to have all the loveless flings he wanted, which were what started him to questioning his motives for his detachment. On the app, Lars meets Mike, and the two strike up an inexplicable bond that suddenly breaks one night after Lars asks to see Mike’s face (after performing a particularly raunchy sex act on video).

It was just good fun. This whole book was a silly, sexy jaunt through the snow and I liked it a lot. It didn’t take a genius to figure out who Mike was and it didn’t take long for Lars to find him, but it was sweet and endearing and I liked it all the same. Rudolph was a very complex character, made almost stubbornly to accommodate Lars’s sexual thirst. I choose to think of it as a match made in heaven, when in actual fact it was just a way that Lars could stay true to himself and have all the sex he wanted since Rudolph didn’t think monogamy was such a big deal. I’m not a huge fan of open relationship stories in my romance. I mean, I don’t see the point. But for the sake of these characters, one insatiable sex fiend and one hermit with a kinky side, this arrangement was the best they were going to get.

I think this book stuttered after being released following the epic love story of Nick and Jack. It was never going to compare when its predecessor was a romantic tale of the fathers of winter, but it was good fun nonetheless. Wadsworth used Nick and Jack’s tale as a way to manipulate Lars and Rudolph into their version of an HEA and did so with good humor, excellent adventure and a whole lot of sex. These two characters seemed made for each other, two outcasts finding love against the odds. Not my favorite book in the series, but definitely a good, fun read. 3 stars for this unconventional holiday romance.








You can buy the Naughty North Pole series here:

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Ramblings

Booty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

lets-talk-about-sex

There’s nothing better than good sex. But bad sex? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is better than bad sex. – Billy Joel


I don’t talk about sex a lot, not unless it’s the entire point of a book. To me, the sexual content of a book is tertiary to the plot and the development of the characters—if it’s there, fine, if it’s not, I couldn’t care less. I will say, however, that when a sex scene is well written and organic to the building and growing of the relationship, especially in BDSM, it adds dimension to the story and to the physio-emotional bond between the two people involved, which, in turn, can do a lot for my emotional connection to the couple I’m learning about. But, and this is the BIG BUT in the room, the opposite of that is also true: if a sex scene is written like a technical schematics manual rather than a passionate and/or primal interlude between the two main characters (or whomever the protagonist happens to be with at the moment), it can really diminish the strength of that scene for me. I’ve never in my life lowballed a book because it didn’t contain enough sex; though I do admit that I’ve deducted points because a book contained a lot of gratuitous and meaningless sex. No, not even gratuitous and meaningless…more along the lines of elaborately and clumsily manipulated, overdone to the point of skimming; it’s ::yawn:: more sex, sex, and that’s bad sex, people. That’s peanut butter and jelly sammich time sex, and that’s not good.

There used to be a day when I would turn to Young Adult fiction when the sex started to get ho-hum-not-again, in the grownup stuff, but I’ve noticed a growing trend lately, even in the YA genre, toward a more intimate exploration of the sexual relationship between characters, albeit a far less graphic one, but still something I’m not altogether certain of my feelings on yet, knowing that sex is a part of growth and self-discovery but not really wanting to read about two teenagers doing the humpty-hump. That tows a fine line of Eek-Squick! for me, but so far, I’m remaining Switzerland on the subject. I think in that matter, tasteful should always be the primary rule of thumb—the less explicit imagery, the better, as far as I’m concerned. Really. My imagination can go places all on its onesies, with no help from the words on the page. But, as usual, I digress.

I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention lately, or if you’ve participated in the conversation, but there’s been a fair amount of honest, not to mention articulate, debate (very recently over at The Armchair Reader) on ways to try and delineate romance and erotica in an effort to come up with a way to distinguish between these two elements so readers for whom sexual content is important, either a lot of it or none at all, can find books they can potentially enjoy, provided that all the other plot elements come together in the perfect storm for them.

Is giving “Heat Ratings” in reviews becoming a necessity, even though some publishers already provide that information? Is it helpful to note the frequency of sex in a book? I’m extremely neutral on the subject, so I honestly don’t know. I can say, with a 100% degree of accuracy, that I have no interest at all in keeping track of how often characters have sex while I’m reading about them having sex. There’s nothing that’ll ruin a scene or the flow of a story for me more than going, “Oh, wait! Sex. Put it on the board.” But I don’t mind doing “Heat Ratings”, though I still find that to be so very subjective. Someone could read a book I’ve rated low on the Heat scale and think, “Dear God, she’s a perv.” Could happen. I’ve recently become a little bit fascinated by the Marquis de Sade, so take that for what it’s worth. :)

So you tell me, how important is it for you to be fully informed of the amount of sexual content in a book before you dig into it, and whose responsibility do you believe it is to provide that information? Is there such a thing as too much sex in a book for you, and if there is, what’s the saturation point, the point where you’ve become so desensitized to the boinking that you want to send that booty call straight to voice mail?

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Iyana Jenna, Silver Publishing

A Beautiful Mind – Just a Little Unwell by Iyana Jenna

Psychosis is a dream breaking through during waking hours. – Philip K. Dick

Patrick Trafford has everything he could want or need in his life: a place to call home, a lovely garden to care for, and a friend named Chad, who is a constant and loyal companion, happily spending his days providing company while Patrick does what he enjoys. The only thing truly missing from Patrick’s life, when all is accounted for, is what it means to be entirely present in the world.

Because, you see, Patrick is a little unwell, and this is his story, the tale of a man who’d put his career before the life he’d built with the man he loved, denying who he was, hiding the life they shared with each other. This the story of the events that caused Patrick’s mind to seek refuge within the landscape of illusion, and is the story of the way Damien Abner finds his way through Patrick’s shadows and leads him back from the unreality in which he dwells.

Iyana Jenna has written a beautiful and heartwarming story of betrayal and tragedy and, ultimately, of hope and of recovery from the unforgiving grasp of mental illness. It’s a story that’s written in the language of compassion and emotion, and illuminates the power of faith and persistence. It’s the story of Damien seeing a lost man and becoming his compass, never giving up on the belief that he could help Patrick find his way home again.

If you’re in the mood for something just a little different, perhaps even unexpected, I can’t recommend this short story enough. I loved it, wish it’d been much longer, which is a compliment to how well it resonated with me.

You can buy Just a Little Unwell here:

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All Romance Ebooks, N.R. Walker, Self-Published

When The Hero Of The Story Is A Four-Legged, Furry Male – Blind Faith by N.R. Walker

But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Like a feel good book that leaves you with a severe case of the warm fuzzies? Yeah, me too, and N.R. Walker’s Blind Faith is definitely one of them.

This is the incredibly sweet and sometimes poignant story of a man, Isaac Brannigan, who was blinded in an automobile accident when he was just eight years old. Isaac has managed to adapt well to the life he knows, but he’s also a man whose life has adapted him into a person who has insulated and isolated himself from anything that might resemble a deep emotional attachment to anyone but his sister because, for Isaac, loving simply isn’t worth the inevitability of losing.

Blind Faith is the story of a dog, Brady, a canine companion that’s brilliant and loving, but, sadly, is also underappreciated. Brady is very well cared for, it’s not that Isaac neglects or abuses his dog in any way, it’s that he refuses to form any sort of emotional attachment to Brady; the dog is merely the eyes Isaac needs when he’s out in the world, but to call Brady a true companion would be overstating their relationship. That doesn’t at all mean, however, that Brady hasn’t bonded with his moody and enigmatic master, and it’s the loyalty and bravery of a dog who gives everything and demands nothing that eventually teaches his owner a little bit about unconditional love.

When new vet in town, Dr. Carter Reece, begins making his weekly house calls to check in on Brady, he immediately intuits that there’s something off about Isaac and his relationship with the dog. As the two men begin to draw closer together, or at least as close as Isaac will allow before he pushes Carter away, it becomes clear that the one deal breaker on the bumpy road to romance may very well be the dog that Carter comes to love and admire and respect as much as, if not more than, anyone he’s ever met. To see Brady cared for but not overtly appreciated confounds Carter almost as much as the dog’s owner does. When Carter finally decides to confront Isaac about it, that confrontation is the turning point in their relationship, for better and for worse.

There really wasn’t a lot not to like about this story, especially if you’re an animal lover and/or a lover of stories that get straight to the heart of the matter without torturing you too badly to get there, and the heart of this matter is that sometimes blindness goes far beyond a man’s inability to see. That message is wrapped up and delivered by two men I was really rooting for, a sister I loved for not letting her brother get away with anything, and a four legged furry critter who really stole the show.

You can buy Blind Faith here:

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Alex Kidwell, Dreamspinner Press

Grief Is A Dish Best Served Told – After the End by Alex Kidwell

Grief is the price we pay for love. – Queen Elizabeth II

Quinn O’Malley knows a little bit about grief; it’s buried him, after all, under the pale ash of a life devastated by the very act of surviving when the one he’d lived for, the one he’d loved for, left him; and with that death, stole all the color and definition from the world.

Alex Kidwell’s After the End is this: a story of grief and of survival and of renewal, told in the juxtaposing voice of a man who understands moving through each day but doesn’t understand the meaning of the words “moving on”. For Quinn, those words somehow translate to betrayal and forgetting, and when a man as alive and as vibrant as Aaron Paterson slips the bonds of being, he leaves a gaping hole in the fabric of all the other lives his was meticulously and joyously woven into, and he is impossible to forget, let alone attempt to replace. There is only the pain of remembering and the bitter aftertaste of regret left for Quinn to sustain himself on. But the dichotomy of it all comes in the form of a man who sweeps in and slowly, meticulously begins to leach the weeping wound that’s been Quinn’s existence for the past two years.

Two very separate and distinct forces of nature have cut a swath through Quinn’s life, though they are similar much in the same way a hurricane is to a typhoon; you are either swept up in their power and embrace what they wreak, or you get out of their way. Quinn embraced the first storm with everything he had and was left with nothing but pain and memories for his efforts, left behind to attempt to rise from the wreckage of loving with abandon and then being abandoned by that love. When the second storm blows in, Quinn does everything in his power to close himself off from what he believes can be the one and only ending, but Brady Banner is nothing if not persistent and is patient enough to wait, to carefully begin to thread his way into Quinn’s life until, in the end, that thread is indispensible to the warp and the weft of Quinn’s remade existence.

After the End is the eloquent fairy tale of the knight who lays siege to a fortress and slays dragons to rescue a man who didn’t realize he was even in danger of being wholly consumed until he was kissed awake and with eyes wide open, was finally able to see the ghosts of his past and his present, and could see that allowing himself to move on didn’t mean forgetting; it meant healing. Brady delivers Quinn from the “I was” to the “I am”, from the end to the beginning, transforming the tense of his existence from past to present so that he was finally to embrace what could be.

Alex Kidwell brings friendships and family together to tell an utterly romantic story filled with universal truths and emotions, and does so with words that I didn’t read so much as feel; this is a story that washed over and through me, and I was reaching for the tissues before I even made it out of chapter one. This is a book that exemplifies the difference between reading a book and living a story, and is the difference between words written on a page and a portrait being painted with words, in all their contrasting colors, from the blacks and grays of sorrow to the rich and vibrant and sometimes violent tones of happiness and love and guilt and anger and hope and fear and redemption.

It is a story that introduces this profound truth: when life’s music inevitably changes, so must the steps we use to dance our way through it.

You can buy After the End here:

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