Flashback Friday, Giveaways

Flashback Friday and Giveaway: The Bad Boys Edition

Flashback Friday

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another edition of Flashback Friday. Today we’re featuring some of the Bad Boys of fiction–the rocker boys and risk takers, rebels and heartbreakers–and, as always, there’s a chance to win an e-copy of one of our selected titles via the Rafflecopter widget below.

But before we get to the gist of this, congratulations goes to H.B., who selected Taylor V. Donovan’s Six Degrees of Lust from our Everyday Heroes edition.

And now, here are this week’s picks!

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TNA_Signature_SammyI love bad boys, I truly do, for they are often hiding the most tortured or wounded soul that is just screaming for someone to look beneath the bullsh*t and love them–really love them and not their hype.

Perhaps the most perfect example I have read of just such an anti-hero is The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest.  This story is one of the sweetest stories of love and redemption ever to grace the m/m romance genre. Zathyn Priest weaves a story of a wounded and lost soul, a musical prodigy and genius, Alec Tyler (aka Tyler Curtis), bad boy goth rocker extraordinaire.

Abandoned by an evil and heartless mother, left parentless after the death of a beloved father at the age of 17, Alec is “discovered” by a cruel and money hungry man, turned abusive manager, Frank Brooks. For the next two years, Brooks mercilessly molds Alec into a superstar, hiding his epilepsy and grand mal seizures, under-medicating the same, and slowly robbing him blind. And then, across the streets of London, a girl named Bec wins a pair of tickets and convinces her standoffish gay brother Jordan to go to the concert of one Tyler Curtis.

Trying to escape the crowd after the concert, Jordan hides by the side of the stage when suddenly, Alec steps out and dances…for the audience of one…one young man who sits mesmerized by the exquisite grace of the other…and the line that Zathyn Priest writes for his MC to utter to the other says it all, “God…you’re exquisite.”

And so begins a love affair that will culminate in perhaps the sweetest most satisfying ending to a book I have ever read.

This novel was written seven years ago and still stands as one of the most beloved bad boy rocker stories in the genre.  If you haven’t read it already—do it!  If you have—maybe it’s time for a reread!

The Curtis ReincarnationJordan’s got a good life. He’s got his own web business, a fat cat for a pet and his own house, which he shares with his sister — oh well, nothing’s perfect. Also not perfect is not having someone special to share his life with. His sister Rebecca believes it’s because he’s too picky and too unapproachable, but Jordan just wants someone to do the Sunday crossword with, take walks with, someone who’ll be his mate for life. Is that really too much to ask?

One night Rebecca drags Jordan to a Tyler Curtis concert. Tyler is a notorious bad boy who treats his audience with contempt and sleeps with a different groupie every night, and Rebecca is determined to be tonight’s groupie. Jordan is there under protest. At least he is until he meets the man beneath the crass, bad boy image. Will Jordan get to know the true Tyler or will Tyler’s manager and a world wanting the man to match the image conspire against them?

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TNA_Signature_JulesAhhh – we all love bad boys…And, who fit the ‘bad boy’ bill more than rockers and musicians, right? Most rock stars are rebels at heart, and we love that about them. These hot messes are often in need of redemption, and are always in need of attention and love. I love it when an author can take us on a journey where we meet the quintessential bad boy, find out why he’s broken (if he is), see what makes him tick, and watch him find the person that is going to understand him and love him. SJ Frost does a fantastic job at this in the first two books of her Conquest series.

Conquest and No Fear both feature Jesse Alexander and Evan Arden as the main characters – and even though Jesse can truly be a pain in the ass, and things between the two of them happen very quickly in the first book, I completely fell in love with them.

From my review of Conquest:

I. Loved. This. Book. Even when I wanted to throw my Kindle out the window! Jesse and Evan are just…perfection together. It doesn’t even feel hokey that they get together so fast, because it just feels…right.

Jesse is an extremely temperamental, but gifted artist, who just can’t quite get it right with his band, Conquest. When he finally meets his idol, Evan Arden, things start to fall into place. Yet that is also when all the sparks start to fly in both his personal and professional life.

The other characters are also fun. Some that you’ll love, like Kenny and Julian from Conquest, and Jesse’s brother, Brandon – and then some that you’ll love to hate. The drama is mostly of the ‘record execs being dicks, and the band trying to rise above’ variety, rather than true drama between our MCs, which is how I prefer it.

A fun side note (and a peek into what a ridiculous nut job I am): I read these two books over a weekend while on a business trip, and a dear friend read them with me. We stayed up basically all night one night reading and messaging each other because we couldn’t put the book(s) down; and then the next day, in between meetings and conference events, I read, and hand wrote notes with my book flails on them in my seminar notebook, that I then took pictures of and texted to her. Oh, man…Good times.

I LOVE the broken, bad boy, rock star trope. I’ve read quite a few rockers that have been well written, and that I’ve also loved – maybe they’ll make it into another Flashback Friday edition somewhere down the road – but, none that have quite lived up to my adoration of Jesse and Evan. They were my first M/M rockers, and are still my favorites. Definitely check them out if you haven’t read them. Or, read them again if you have! That’s what I plan to do! :)

conquestVocally gifted singer, Jesse Alexander, has dreams of taking his band, Conquest, to the top. Evan Arden was thought of as a musical genius when at the height of his career he vanished from the spotlight. Together, their relationship is just as intense as their music careers. With success pushing down on them, Jesse must decide between his life of music, or his life with Evan.

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TNA_Signature_SadonnaThe book I’ve chosen for this week’s Flashback Friday is a book called Stories Beneath Our Skin. I was thinking about tattoos, I guess, since I’m about to start my largest tattoo to date. This was a new-to-me author when I picked up this book and I’m really glad I did.

This book really spoke to me on so many levels.  Anybody who knows me knows I’m a huge sucker for f*cked up characters, so of course I was in heaven with this story. Liam has had enough to deal with at age twenty-two to account for several lifetimes. He’s closed himself off and made himself very successful in his academic pursuits. But there is a pervasive sadness to him that maybe he is mostly unaware of – or at least immune to – at this point. While spending his days at the hospice waiting for his uncle to die, he needs something to take up his evening hours. When he goes to get a part time job at a tattoo parlor, we know by his reaction that there is a story there beneath the surface – and that it’s not a pretty one. Ace, the owner, takes a chance on him. From there, Liam is thrust into this strange little group of people – all of whom have their own issues as well.

The plot itself has some interesting twists, like a lot of stories we come across in real life. ;) The dance that Liam and Ace do around each other for a while makes us root for them all the more. Both deserve something good, but especially Liam. The relationship is slow in building and realistic in that Ace is a good bit older than Liam, and he knows he’s got family issues he has to deal with as well. There was a lot of consideration and deliberation on the parts of both characters.

The supporting cast of characters give depth to the story. They provide the nudging and the support that allow Liam and Ace to come together. Each one of them gives a little different flavor to the book. What a great group of friends and family. It’s really a testament to the author that this group of friends are really believable as a family. In these days when so many people do not have connections with their blood relatives – for whatever reason – the families we choose are many times much more integral to our lives than the ones we were born into.

A lot of this story is a little bit heartbreaking, but a lot of it is also hopeful and definitely well worth the time to read.

Stories Beneath Our SkinTattooing might have once been Liam’s passion, but he left it all behind along with ugly memories when he went to college. When his uncle’s health fails, Liam must come home at last to say his goodbyes. His days are spent at the hospice, leaving his nights to rake over the past. To fill those empty hours, he takes a job at Great Sin Ink. The close knit friendship of the workers there both intrigues and shakes Liam, who has spent the last four years keeping everyone at arm’s length. Neither Deb, the no-nonsense piercer, nor Goose, a manic tattoo artist, will let Liam get away with his isolationist ways for long.

If it were just those two, Liam might have stood a chance — but there’s also Ace, the owner of Great Sin. He hires Liam despite a thin resume, and that is a kindness Liam can’t forget. The two start up a tentative friendship, learning about each other as the summer days melt into each other. Slowly, Liam reveals a tender heart underneath the wall of quotes he uses to keep everyone out. Unfortunately, life doesn’t stand still, and both Liam and Ace have hard struggles before them that might break them up before they can even get together.

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TNA_Signature_LisaOkay, I dunno about you, but I just went and One-Clicked Sadonna’s rec. O.o

Because we didn’t get a lot of participation and representation for the Bad Boys this week, I’m going to cheat and pull out a few titles from my backlist. Variety is the spice of life, after all, right? And where would we be without a good cross-section of them to choose from? =)

The first book I’m dusting off today is Jess Faraday’s debut M/M novel The Affair of the Porcelain Dog. Understanding that historical fiction isn’t everyone’s cuppa, I’ll be 100% up front right now and tell you this is a historical novel, but if you’ve ever considered giving the genre a try, I can say this is a great place to start.

Drug trafficking, human trafficking, blackmail, betrayal, duplicity, moral ambiguity, prostitution, and murder; all are things you might expect to find in the Whitechapel district around the time Jack the Ripper took the life of his final victim, Mary Kelly, then seemed to disappear from the face of the earth. The lovely thing is that all of those dark and dangerous elements take place within the pages of The Affair of the Porcelain Dog too.

Cain Goddard saved Ira Adler from the streets of ‘Chapel, where Ira had been selling his body in order to survive. Cain brings Ira into his home and teaches the young man to read, write, and speak like a proper gentleman, hiring Ira as his “personal secretary,” though their relationship is far from the socially acceptable front they’re forced to portray to a world where anything more could find them both imprisoned (or worse) for gross indecency. Goddard has multiple faces, in fact, being not only a gay man but a rogue and a scholar as well. He was once an esteemed teacher at Cambridge University, but was sent down in a scandal for which he’s now being blackmailed. Since Goddard is unable to fulfill his one passion—teaching—he immerses himself fully in the other role—becoming the infamous Duke of Dorset Street, a hated and feared criminal whose questionable ethics and rationalizations make him a fully intriguing character, and a man whom Ira struggles and, ultimately, fails to align his own moral boundaries with.

Mystery and suspense abound in this book’s pages, and I have to be honest here–the sequel, Turnbull House, is even better. Cain Goddard may just be my all-time favorite bad boy of fiction.

The Affair of the Porcelain DogLondon 1889.

For Ira Adler, former rent-boy and present plaything of crime lord Cain Goddard, stealing back the statue from Goddard’s blackmailer should have been a doddle. But inside the statue is evidence that could put Goddard away for a long time under the sodomy laws, and everyone’s after it, including Ira’s bitter ex, Dr. Timothy Lazarus. No sooner does Ira have the porcelain dog in his hot little hands, than he loses it to a nimble-fingered prostitute.

As Ira’s search for the dog drags him back to the mean East End streets where he grew up, he discovers secrets about his own past, and about Goddard’s present business dealings, which make him question everything he thought he knew. An old friend turns up dead, and an old enemy proves himself a friend. Goddard is pressing Ira for a commitment, but every new discovery casts doubt on whether Ira can, in good conscience, remain with him.

In the end, Ira must choose between his hard-won life of luxury and standing against a grievous wrong.

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And now for something completely different, my next title is a contemporary romance filled with rocker boys, loads of angst, and, quite honestly, a twist I didn’t see coming until it happened and then I asked myself, “Pfft, how did you not see that coming?!”

M.J. O’Shea and Piper Vaughn’s Moonlight Becomes You was re-released by Dreamspinner last year, but I first read it back in 2011 when it was published by Loose Id. It’s a story of betrayal, revenge, redemption, and, finally, atonement for a disloyalty that destroyed a relationship.

Shane Ventura and his younger brother Nicky didn’t have much but an abusive father and an absentee mother growing up. The one thing they did have, though, was their music and their dreams of making it big. There was just one key component missing from the band Luck, and Shane finds that key in Jesse Seider, a nerdy, plain, and chubby boy who’s enlisted to tutor Shane so he can graduate from high school. The improbable connection that forms between Shane, the boy with the bad-ass attitude, and Jesse, the boy who isn’t afraid to challenge Shane, comes through their mutual love of music. Jesse is a gifted musician and singer, and though he is the antithesis of what a rock star supposedly looks like, it’s his addition to the band that fills a need and brings the group together.

Standing at the threshold of success, Luck is about to sign a contract that will bring them the recognition and fame they’ve always wanted—there’s one condition, though…the record label says Jesse has to go. And the boy Jesse loves, the boy who loves him in return, has been elected to swing the ax.

Out of loyalty to Nicky, and maybe just a little greed for finally attaining something bright and positive in his life, Shane does it. He kicks Jesse out of the band, out of his life, and shatters both of their hearts in the process.

Eleven years later, Shane has become the pathetic caricature of an aging rock star—drugs, booze, and an endless supply of nameless sycophants who are more than willing to share his bed for a night have done nothing to erase the sorrow and shame he feels for his betrayal of Jesse.

Then he meets Kayden Berlin, lead singer of the band Moonlight, and feels that first spark of attraction, but he quickly discovers the feelings are not returned. In fact, the only emotions Kayden seems capable of showing toward both Shane and Nicky are utter loathing and contempt. Which makes Shane even more determined to get behind the man’s walls and melt his icy exterior. It seems Kayden Berlin may be the one and only man who can fill the space in Shane’s heart that was left gaping when he turned his back on Jesse.

Angsty – check. Sexy – check. Bad boys – check. Happy ending – check check. Moonlight Becomes You is about as romantical as a book can get.

Moonlight Becomes YouEleven years ago, Shane Ventura made the biggest mistake of his life when he caved in to pressure from his record label to kick his best friend, Jesse Seider, out of their band, Luck. To this day, Shane has never wanted anyone more, and all the sex and alcohol in the world can’t fill the void Jesse left behind. Not even the prospect of teaming up with Britain’s hottest band, Moonlight, for a massive world tour can get him out of his funk. Then he meets lead singer Kayden Berlin and falls into instant lust.

Kayden may act like he’s not interested, but Shane knows he feels the spark between them. Yet the harder Shane pushes, the more Kayden pulls away, until one explosive night leaves Shane with a broken heart. That seems to be his lot—lucky at everything but love. Shane still has one lesson left to learn, though: when it comes to love, you can’t always leave things to chance.

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And, for my final something completely different, how about some vampires? I’ve talked these novellas up one side and down the other, but I’m throwing them out here again because how can you talk about bad boys and NOT talk about a character named Wild Bill?

Jordan Castillo Price’s Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary series is comprised of five novellas (the continuation is a set of five more novellas called A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion), and even the flipping series titles make me giddy. These boys were first introduced to the world back in 2008, when Michael takes up the mantle of justice and becomes a vampire hunter to avenge the death of his best friend Scary Mary.

Michael’s playing the killing game when he meets Wild Bill in a bar one night, but Wild Bill isn’t the target. In fact, Michael and Wild Bill are both hunting the same vamp when they meet, and it’s not until the two guys seduce their mark and stake him after an erotic three-way in Michael’s hotel room that Michael even comes to the realization that Wild Bill’s a vamp too. But by then, Michael’s got it bad for our vampire bad boy.

Wild Bill disappears just as quickly as he strutted his way into Michael’s space, but though he ran, he couldn’t hide. Michael’s gotten good at tracking and they meet again, and again… and they connect through something far more intangible and impossible to name than simple vengeance. Michael and Wild Bill live a vagabond life and exist on little more than blood, sex, and trying (when it’s possible) to do the right thing. But, it’s not always possible, and that’s what makes our bad boys so good–sometimes they have to be a little bit bad just to survive.

Michael and Wild Bill have become iconic in the M/M lexicon and are at the top of my list of some of my all-time favorite characters: human, non-human, or somewhere in between. They’re my addiction and every time I read the series, it gives me book hangover for days. Since I’ve read the books multiple times, though, I guess it’s more than worth it.

box-set-CMFSM200Michael is a waif in eyeliner who’s determined to wipe vampires off the face of the earth. Wild Bill’s got the hots for Michael, and will stop at nothing to go home with him.

Forget about moonlit castles and windswept moors. These bad boys haunt all-night diners and cheap motels, cut-rate department stores and long, lonely stretches of the Interstate. Ride along with Wild Bill and Michael as the twists and turns of Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary unfold in America’s Heartland.

Ebook box set contains the following novelettes: Payback, Vertigo, Manikin, Tainted, Rebirth.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Flashback Friday, Giveaways

Flashback Friday and Giveaway: The Happy Haunts Halloween Edition

Flashback Friday

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Paranormal edition of Flashback Friday!

Because it’s Halloween, and Halloween happens to be one of my favorite holidays, I’ve relaxed the rules a bit for this segment and giveaway. Rather than all the titles being older recs we’ve read and loved, we’ve opened this FbF up to our overall favorite Paranormal reads—or, at least the ones we came up with off the tops of our heads this time around. We all know it’s impossible to choose just one all-time favorite, right? So some of these books are recent releases, but hey, if you haven’t had the chance to read them yet, click on the Rafflecopter widget and you just might win TWO of our selected titles. :)

And now, here they are, our happy and haunting Halloween faves!

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TNA_Signature_KathieThere were so many emotions for me while I was reading this book, but the one I remember the most is…Scared. Wow! Can Rick R. Reed write gay horror, or what?! The sex in this book is sensual, rough and on the edge of dangerous. The food that is served in the Blue Moon Café is sensual, rough and sounds amazing. The creature…well, it’s what nightmares are made of.

Let me share with you an excerpt of this book that I still think of every time I open the door at night, especially when there is a full moon overhead:

The door finally gave way. A large, hulking black wolf framed in the doorway, illuminated in silver by the light of the moon. Steam rose from its nostrils. Its mouth was open and drooling.

And that’s just a very small piece of a story that’s crazy-scary. The Blue Moon Café made quite an impression on me. Rick R. Reed is quite the storyteller.

The Blue Moon CafeSomeone—or something—is killing Seattle’s gay men.

A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.

Someone—or something—is falling in love with Thad Matthews.

Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places—a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Prepare yourself for a unique blend of dark suspense and erotic romance with The Blue Moon Cafe, written by the author Unzipped magazine called, “the Stephen King of gay horror.” You’re guaranteed an unforgettable reading experience, one that skillfully blends the hottest romance with the most chilling terror…

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TNA_Signature_CarrieIt’s 1799 New York and William is drunk. Waking in a bed of roses which belongs to the local magistrate is not a good thing, and his life is forever changed when instead of prison, he’s sent to an apprenticeship.  “Holding a lantern at the edge of the road was a tall, menacing figure in a dark hooded robe, complete with a veil that completely concealed his face.  It was Death himself, come to escort me into the underworld.” This is how William meets Merrick, the mysterious apothecary he has been indentured to.

William was a bookseller by trade, so he is an intelligent man. When things don’t add up with his new Master, he discovers secrets he never knew existed.

Clare Cray is an excellent writer and this book is one of her finest. In her own words, this is her “strange little story.” This book is a gothic romance between a vampire and his apprentice. The story is entertaining with just enough spooky to set the atmosphere, and you want the characters involved to have their HEA—but how can they when one is a vampire?

William is the sequel to this book, and I would recommend them both. You don’t have to get both, they can stand alone, but for the full effect read them together. It’s a perfect October treat!

MerrickNew York, 1799: the future looks bright for the charming young book dealer William Lacy, until a raucous night of drinking lands him in shackles. He narrowly avoids the brutal prison system thanks to his mother, who negotiates with the judge to secure him a five year apprenticeship in lieu of a jail sentence. And so William finds himself in a carriage bound for the remote woods upstate, where he’ll spend the next years of his life learning a new trade under some old master.

When he first sees Merrick, William thinks he’s been dropped into a medieval horror story. Tall and gruff, dressed in a hooded robe that completely conceals his features, and riding a black mare, Merrick might as well be the Grim Reaper.

But appearances are deceiving. A skilled apothecary and healer, Merrick proves to be a generous host and a gentle teacher, and William soon finds himself surprisingly comfortable in his new surroundings. And yet troubling mysteries abound: Why does Merrick never show his face or hands? Why do his movements seem so young and sure beneath his robes? What lies within the cave behind the stone cottage?

Something unnatural is afoot. But most alarming by far is William’s own reaction to his new keeper. For Merrick’s strange charms are bewitching enough by day; but by night, in the darkness of the room and the bed they share, William finds himself entirely overwhelmed by desires he never imagined...

Garland

TNA_Signature_SammyI love scary stuff, I really do, and so this novel, Cowboys & Vampires, was just the ticket for me. I mean, c’mon, hot cowboys and vicious vampires, what’s not to like?! I flew through this story, just could not put it down. Hank Edwards is a consummate storyteller. This novel embraces a bygone era where small towns sat in the middle of nowhere, or wherever there was a gold rush, and the law was the sheriff and his men. No judge or jury—you were either guilty and hanged, or innocent and lived to see another day. So when Dex falls in love with the very person he should be hauling into jail, all hell breaks loose—including a vampire and his minions.

This novel had me by the throat in more ways than one. Hank Edwards writes some scary, heart pounding stuff and then infuses it with such humanity and yes, a love story to boot. I was hooked and nearly died when I got to that ending…oh, Mr. Edwards, you naughty author, you!

This was an incredibly fast-paced, action-packed and bite your nails kind of book—yes, it was that good!! Just remember to keep the lights on…all of them.

Cowboys & VampiresIn the frontier town of Belkin’s Pass, as a vampire quietly feeds on the local saloon girls and their customers, a tragedy teaches resident Josh Stanton he has the ability to raise the dead. Knowing he is now a wanted man, Josh flees into the arid plains of Venom Valley. Pursued by Dex, the town deputy and Josh’s best friend, the two realize their friendship is truly something deeper, and Dex has to decide if he’s a man of the law, or a man in love. The vampire, drawn by Josh’s power, circles ever closer, gathering his forces against them.

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TNA_Signature_CHRISIf you haven’t noticed, I’m a total THIRDS Nerd. I absolutely devour the books and will totally push them on anyone who will sit still long enough for me to extol their virtues. What can I say… Charlie Cochet has me utterly hooked into her fabulous world, and I completely love Dexter J. Daley. Sorry, Sloane, I would totally steal your man in a heartbeat!  After all that you’d think that would be my choice for my favorite paranormal book. It is but it’s not. Because it’s such a popular series, I thought I’d share one of my other favorites with everyone.

Would you believe that my favorite paranormal is a fantasy story? Considering my first book addictions were The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander’s series that featured Black Cauldron, my choice for favorite paranormal book is To the Other Side by S.J. Frost, the first book in her Terra series.

To the Other Side is that one perfect m/m fantasy book for me. It combined all the right elements to make it a very well crafted story. It had captivating characters, Garrett – the intrepid human explorer, and Bryson – the courageous and giving white witch. The world building was so well crafted that you could see Terra being real and hiding right inside the tree line just past that huge oak. It also has that classic good vs evil theme, in this case an evil Duke with his minion Warlock trying to steal an immortality ring from Bryson and his true love, Garrett.

What really made the story for me was one of the secondary characters, and boy, was he a character! Wynn is a romance reading, Oreo eating dragon that lives with Bryson. Now, dragons in Terra aren’t the large, fire-breathing kind you might think. They’re more along the size of the fire lizards from Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall books, so the size of a large raptor or cat. Wynn is also seriously sarcastic and smarter than hell, and loves to annoy his house mates.

There is a true plethora of secondary characters that end up being featured in future books in the series. I completely admit that I adoringly stalked the author a bit because I wanted to know if she was going to write a book for two other characters that I absolutely craved to read about.

I don’t have enough words to say how much I absolutely love this book and these two characters, and that’s why it’s my favorite paranormal book.

To the Other SideGarrett Evergard is a finder of secrets. As a biologist and environmentalist, it’s his job to go into wild lands and uncover their mysteries in order to save them. In the Pacific Northwest, he races against logging lobbyists to save a section of temperate rainforest, but the forest seems reluctant to give up her secrets. Until a fateful meeting with a rare spirit bear opens the door to wonders beyond anything he’s ever imagine, the greatest of those being the beautiful man who comes to his rescue. As a witch and Gatekeeper, Bryson Summers is used to living a solitary life. He lives between two worlds, Earth and Terra, feeling not fully part of either, and dreams of meeting someone who understands him. From the moment he sees Garrett, he believes — and hopes — he’s looking upon a twin soul. Dragons, unicorns, and a witch with enchanting brown eyes, Garrett tries to make sense of a world so different from anything he’s ever known. But his mind and heart are open, and he finds himself drawn more to Bryson with each day they spend together. When Bryson and the gate that links the two worlds fall under threat, Garrett is willing to do all he can to protect them, even if it means facing down dark magic.

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TNA_Signature_AngelThough this isn’t a flashback story, as it was published earlier this year, I am recommending it because of the Halloween theme we have going on today. I love to be scared, and while I know that sounds strange, it is an exhilarating thing. Maybe it’s the endorphin rush from fear; I’m not real certain. Blood and gore don’t do much for me, but something that makes you think, psychological horror, now that is a fun time for me. And Silent Woods hit all my instant love buttons.

There’s an established couple, cute kids, and an eerily creepy setting that is as much a character as the people in the books. Silent Woods is Ofelia Grand’s take on a Swedish legend of the Fae, and it was fantastically done. I had never heard of this particular tale, and I really enjoyed reading this version of it. I love seeing the different takes on legends from around the world, and in this, Grand didn’t disappoint. The tension builds with wonderful characterization and storytelling, and though this is short, it is intense. It kept me in suspense the entire time, and the epilogue just cinched this story’s place in my heart as a go-to for a little scare re-read.

I read this short story all in one go, and it kept me up for hours afterward. In fact, it still does. The first time I read it, I got up out of bed to check on my daughter, not once but several times, and I’ve done it each time I have re-read this fantastic story.

Silent WoodsDaniel is married to an amazing man—a nature-loving man—and when that man suggests the family goes camping Daniel can’t say no. But even before they’ve left their home Daniel has a feeling that something is wrong.

He almost succeeds in convincing himself everything is as it should be, but then their five-year-old son, Axel, goes missing.

A search party arrives, and the two fathers encounter something far more sinister than either could ever have dreamed of. Will they find their son before it’s too late?

Bats

TNA_Signature_JulesParanormal! Eeeeeek! There are SO many amazing books in this genre. I’ve only read a handful of M/M paranormal to date, but have every intention of adding more and more to my list. I can’t wait to see everyone else’s picks for this week’s Flashback Friday!

What I did read recently, though – just last week, in fact, in honor of Halloween being upon us – was Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk. I mean, c’mon…what’s spookier than ghosts, right??!? This book was utterly fantastic. It was a super creepy ghost story, sure – but it was also a romance, a historical, and a social commentary piece, a wonderful amalgamation as only Jordan L. Hawk can deliver.

Let’s talk about the ghosts, though, since that’s why we’re here. First of all, the title of this book is perfect, as these are spirits who are imprisoned at the place of their human demise. Unable to leave the mansion, held captive by the ghost of the man who caused their deaths, it is up to our heroes to try and set them free. I love the different ways the ghosts appear to Henry and Vincent and the other members of the group gathered at the castle for the experiment. The idea that Vincent can taste the presence of the spirit when it’s nearby was so cool and original to me. And, the way the ghosts manifested based on the energy available to them in the room was also very cool and creepy.

Along with being an amazing storyteller, of course, one of this author’s strengths is character development. Henry and Vincent are both fantastic, as are Henry’s cousin, Jo, and Vincent’s partner, Lizzie. What I also LOVED about this book was the diversity of the characters. There are two people of color – Vincent is Native American and Jo is half-black – and a transgender person. The struggles presented therein were woven into the story perfectly, and made it that much richer, in my opinion.

Restless Spirits is the perfect choice for a spooky read at Halloween, or any time! I whole-heartedly recommend it and can’t wait to read the sequel, Dangerous Spirits!

Restless-Spirits-400x600After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.

The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.

Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.

For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.

Garland

TNA_Signature_MaryannI have read many books by Carol Lynne, and felt I needed to nominate The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly, especially for this time of year. I love reading scary novels, and this tale of horror has it all.

Horror/romance isn’t the usual type of story that Lynne writes, but I have to say this is worth the read. “Claiming” is the long awaited sequel to Ghost of Alcatraz (published in 2011), and it takes us to the year 2020 and the new age, haunted prison.

The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly picks up after Ghost of Alcatraz, where Fisher Marx was first introduced. Fisher has a new life, but he’s not at peace with everything. He hears rumors about Patrick Donnelly and has every intention of finding the young man and help him. Patrick is haunted by the ghost of his father, who is abusing and tormenting him. When Fisher and Patrick find they can’t escape the evil, they are off to Pont-Aven, France, where evil continues its reign.

If you’re a fan of horror, I highly recommend reading Ghost of Alcatraz and The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly. Both are two excellent horror stories that will definitely will get you in the mood for Halloween!

The Claiming of Patrick DonnellyAfter 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.

Spider Webs

TNA_Signature_LisaAnd now, for something completely different…

2011 must have been one hell of a great reading year for me, because it seems like every time I settle on a title for Flashback Friday… I discover I read the book in 2011. Go figure.

As much as I love horror—and tis the season, etc., etc.—and as much as I could have gone the way of Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCop or Channeling Morpheus/Sweet Oblivion series (both are stellar!), or gone to the waaaaay darker side of Paranormal with a good Poppy Z. Brite title, my choice today is none other than The Ghost on My Couch, L.A. Gilbert’s shmoopy and heartwarming novel that pits love against near-impossible odds.

Who says Halloween can’t be a little sweet too, right? :o)

This short novel tells the story of Alex Tanner, a man whose life can be summed up in two consistent events: working a demanding job and watching recorded episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, with little variation in the pattern of his days. After one particularly grueling shift at work, Alex comes home to unwind with a glass of wine in front of the television…only to discover a rather oddly dressed man sitting on his couch.

Sid Jones is that man. Or, rather, it’s the ghost of Sid Jones who’s parked on Alex’s sofa. He has no idea how he came to be in the limbo between life and death where he now resides, but he does know that in death, as in life, he’s entirely alone. Having grown up in the foster care system, and being a naturally shy and unassuming man, Sid knows there is no one to mourn his passing. But god, he’s sweet and gentle and entirely lovable, and it doesn’t take long for Alex to discover it.

Alex and Sid are completely endearing as a couple of men who have no idea how utterly fabulous they truly are. It takes seeing each through the other’s eyes, seeing how much each treasures the other’s friendship and how they come to value their connection that allows them to open their hearts to each other. And it works. Trust me, it works.

If you’re not into the darker side of Paranormal, are looking for something other than shifters and vamps and boo-wigglies, oh my!, to scratch your Halloween reading itch, and you’re looking for a completely smishable happily-ever-after, The Ghost on My Couch is the book you’ll want to read.

The Ghost on My CouchAlex Tanner is a male nurse who divides his time between his job and his television schedule. His idea of the perfect partner, like so many other people’s, is a tall, dark, and handsome man.

Preferably alive and breathing.

Surely that’s not asking too much?

Then an uninvited guest—a ghost, of all things—forces Alex to question what he’s always looked for in a lover and his definition of what makes a person so beautiful.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday and Giveaway: The Why Haven’t You Read This Book Yet? Edition

Flashback Friday

Welcome back to another edition of Flashback Friday, everyone! This week’s FbF Feature is all about the books we’ve read and would love to force feed to every single person we’ve ever met ever in our entire lives. Extreme, no??? But yes! This begins a potpourri of prose that has made us cry, squee, giggle, you name it, we’ve loved it, and we wish everyone would read these books.

Last week’s winner of the Flashback Friday Speculative Fiction Edition was Julie Small, who made the wisest of wise choices and went with Jordan L. Hawk’s Widdershins as her e-book prize. Congratulations to you, Julie, and thanks so much to everyone who’s played along with us!

I hope you’ll find a title or two amongst our choices that you haven’t read yet because if you click on the Rafflecopter widget below, you can enter for the chance to win an e-copy of one of them, winner’s choice.

Good luck!

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TNA_Signature_JulesThere are a LOT of books I want to shove in people’s faces and make them read. Ha! But, I chose this week’s book because I just read it – tardy to the party – and I want to make sure that no one else leaves it languishing on his or her TBR pile! The book is Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander, and I want you to go right now and load it up on your e-reader. Don’t wait another moment, folks. This is an absolute must read!

Austin Glass killed me. Killlllllllllllled me. The king of snark. Zero filter. Inept in all of his female relationships. Yet also smart, funny, a brilliant detective, and somehow manages to come off as endearing a large portion of the time, despite the no filter issue.

While waiting for an informant on a case, Austin sees Peter. Well…what he sees are bunny slippers…and, he can’t get the slippers, or the man, out of his head. Austin is a complete goner for Peter, and it ends up sending him on the roller coaster ride of his life as he tries to figure out his feelings for Peter, and solve his case at the same time.

The action in the story is fabulous. The characters are interesting, eclectic, and entertaining. I found Peter’s background, including that of his “brothers” Darryl and Cai, fascinating, and was on the edge of my seat as their story unraveled. And, Austin Glass in particular is a character that will stay with me for a very long time. I LOVED this freakin’ book, man.

Bonus note: I actually listened to the audio for this book, and it was AH-MAZING. The narrator does a phenomenal job with the pacing, the accents, and the whole performance in general.

shattered glassA male prostitute, a mangy cat, a murder and an obsession that threatens his career, his impending marriage and his life. Nothing is going as planned for Austin Glass.

Austin Glass seems to have it all, A loving fiancee, a future with the FBI and a healthy sized trust fund. At least on the surface. He also has a grin and a wisecrack for every situation. But the smile he presents to the world hides a painful past he’s buried too deeply to remember, and his quips mask bitterness and insecurity. Austin has himself and most of the whole world fooled—until he meets a redhead in a pair of bunny slippers.

As events unfold in the biggest case of his life, Austin’s carefully planned future unravels, and he finds himself pushed into making quick, life-changing decisions. But can he trust himself or anything he feels, when each event seems to be just a series of volatile reactions?

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TNA_Signature_CHRIS*Runs up and shoves a book under your nose*

If there is only ONE book that I could make someone read it would be Conquest by S.J. Frost. This book, actually this whole series, is one of the reasons I became utterly hooked into the M/M genre. It’s also one of the first romances I stumbled on that featured a rock band as part of the main story. Considering I love my rock music as much as I love reading, well this book was a match made in book heaven!

Jesse and Evan are the couple that I hold up as an example of how you can make a relationship work. They are also two of my all time favorite characters in this genre. They aren’t just lovers but they truly are the other’s soul mate, even if it takes them time to get to that point with each other. While they are two completely different people, at different stages of their lives and careers, there is something about the other that constantly draws them together.

Did I mention that Jesse and Evan are smoking hot together? The sexual tension between these two will literally set your ereader on fire! Not to overlook Jesse and Evan’s musical talent which takes the book to a whole different level. There’s nothing I love more than a book that can actually capture the emotion that is wrapped within music and this entire series gives you that feeling.

You definitely need to give Jesse and Evan a chance, because once you pick up the first book in the series you’re going to want more!

conquestVocally gifted singer, Jesse Alexander, has dreams of taking his band, Conquest, to the top.

Evan Arden was thought of as a musical genius when at the height of his career he vanished from the spotlight. Together, their relationship is just as intense as their music careers. With success pushing down on them, Jesse must decide between his life of music, or his life with Evan.

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TNA_Signature_SammyIf I Could Force You to Read This Book, I Would. Oh yes, indeed I would—and I would also provide a bottle of liquor and a box of tissues ‘cause this one is a tough read, but the rewards? They are oh so great!

A Note in the Margin was a difficult book to read. This story cut me to the core for many reasons and on many levels. Remembering the synopsis I wrote a few years ago reminded me once again of the great impact this novel had on me.

John is “taking a break” from the corporate rat race. In fact, he must; otherwise, he will spin apart, perhaps have a nervous breakdown, a heart attack. One is never sure because Ms. Rowan is not specific in the reason, only that the break must occur or John will not survive. And so, John invests in a small, unassuming used bookstore named Margins. Here he meets and employs the son of the previous owner, Jaime. Jaime, in turn, introduces John to the homeless man that, every afternoon, occupies an old leather chair in the back of the shop, sketching in his notebook and reading. And so the story begins…and you are sucked into the sometimes violent, oft times horrific life of David, a former corporate man, father and husband. A formerly closeted gay man…a shell of his former self…mentally broken, whoring for bus fair to travel to see the son whom he is never able to speak to or interact with…living in fear and only sometimes dwelling in reality.

Wounded…broken…desperate…David…John—both equally fragile, equally needy, find each other.

This is not an easy story to read. My gut clenched often and unhappily as David worked his way back from the abyss to life with John, to love, to acceptance of himself, and forgiveness as well. Ms. Rowan paints a picture that is teeming with realism, gritty with emotion and remarkable in its depth. Her characters are achingly real, so much so that I found myself yelling at them so they would move before disaster struck again. Several times the stark raw emotion leapt off the page, forcing me to stop dead, turn off the kindle and step away. It was too much, too overwhelming.

Do not tread lightly into this book—for a light read it is not—at all. But it is a worthwhile read…a stunning look into the homeless man’s world…a glimpse into the intricacies of mental illness…yes, it is this and so much more. At this novel’s core is a love story that is so sweeping in its scope and tender in its telling that you are carried along in its mighty wake.

You should read this book—honest, you really should! Just bring along tissues…and maybe a stiff drink or two.

**As a side note when I visited Australia a few years ago, I had the honor of meeting Isabelle Rowan—such a lovely woman, smart and kind to a fault. I have enjoyed many of her stories to date and strongly recommend her lovely work to you.

NoteintheMarginJohn McCann, a man who judges life by the tally of an accounts ledger, has a supreme goal in life: To achieve, live, and enjoy the rarified executive lifestyle. But he’s encountered one problem: The migraines are going to continue to get worse unless you make some major changes in your lifestyle. What you need is a ‘sea change’… Perhaps buy a nice little business in the country, settle down, something easier to occupy your time…

While John knows the doctor is right, he just can’t resign from the job he’s fought so hard for. He decides the sacrifice of taking a year’s leave of absence won’t interfere too much with his plans, and so he finds himself running Margins, a cozy little bookstore, with the help of the former owner’s son, Jamie. John expects to put in his year, get his stress under control, and then get back to business.

What John doesn’t expect is how Margins and its denizens draw him in, particularly the quiet, disheveled man who takes refuge in the old leather chair in the second-hand book section. John’s plans for an unattached year of simple business crumble when he meets David and is forced to reevaluate life, love and what he really wants from both. John and David are forced to come to terms with their pasts as they struggle to determine what possible future they might build together.

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TNA_Signature_SadonnaDiane Adams – Making of a Man series

This is one of the BEST series I’ve ever read in any genre. Jared and Alex meet when Alex is a teenager – and just figuring out that he’s gay. Jared is an old soul in a young man’s body. He’s had to face a lot in his life already, and he truly isn’t that much older than Alex in years but is light years ahead in life’s hard knocks and experience. He’s been unlucky in love, and he’s already lost his father and inherited a business that he needs to keep going to keep a roof over his and his mother’s head. He takes the time to be a friend to Alex (and Alex’s best friend Clark) while they are still in high school and Alex is still in the closet. This series is currently at 6 books with some shorter freebies in between. There is still one more promised book to come.

So far this series has taken us through about 20 years of Jared and Alex’s story, and it’s an absolute pleasure to watch Alex grown up and grow into his relationship with Jared. Jared is one of the best men on the planet – bar none. There are wonderful supporting characters, realistic conflicts, no pat answers and some of the best dialogue around. Completely believable and if this series doesn’t convince people that Love is Love, I don’t know what would. Just absolutely some of the best storytelling in the genre and beautifully done.

Our DecemberSometimes two people fit together so well it seems their love was preordained, as if every step taken led inevitably to a happy ending. Deeply in love, Jared and Alex are such a couple, but the path to true and lasting love is rarely smooth. At fifteen, being gay isn’t the best thing that ever happened to a guy. In fact, Alex Ross thinks it’s down right scary. Then he meets twenty year old construction worker Jared Douglas, and Alex starts to think the gay thing might not be so bad after all.

The attraction between them is intense, but — mindful of Alex’s age — Jared is determined to keep the sparks from igniting. The stress of controlling his feelings makes it almost a relief when Alex’s father ships him off to prep school. Jared expects Alex to forget him and find a boy friend his own age; he doesn’t anticipate how much it will hurt. When Alex comes home for Christmas, just turned 16, with his heart on his sleeve, Jared knows he can’t continue to keep everything he feels a secret.

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TNA_Signature_LisaI read a quote once by a man named Alfred North Whitehead, who was a philosopher. The quote went something like this:

It takes an extraordinary intelligence to contemplate the obvious.

Al Fletcher may never be described as extraordinarily intelligent, but he is an extraordinary character who has a way of being, oh, perhaps a wee bit obtuse but is so utterly guileless that his observations of the obvious are just sweet and charming, and when I read his story, Muscling Through, several years ago, he quickly shot to the top of the list of some of my all-time favorite characters.

Larry came into Al’s life in a dark alley one night…while Al was taking a whizz. Yep. Big Al, with his tattoos and a nose that’s seen the business end of more than a few fists, was peeing in the great outdoors when Larry happened upon him…and then promptly assumed, based on Al’s looks, that he, Larry, was going to get robbed at best, or get a good beating, or heaven knows what else, at worst.

Now, Al’s been known to be drunk and disorderly on a few occasions, but purposefully mean and/or violent? That’s not Al at all. Al does things like hide the kitchen knives when he makes sure you get home safely, assuming you’re drunk and a danger to yourself because you’re acting crazy—which is really not you being drunk or crazy. It’s just you being scared shitless of Al.

Al does things like eat finger sandwiches in a posh restaurant and then hopes that when the staff cut the crusts off those sandwiches that they at least had the common decency to feed those perfectly good crusts to the birds.

Al is an artist, and though the world may not see beauty in him, Al sees beauty in the world. And that makes him beautiful where it counts.

Muscling Through isn’t a long book—less than ninety pages—but it’s one of the best novellas I’ve ever read. If not the best. It’s funny and full of warmth—just like Al—and is one of the most endearing opposites attract stories I’ve ever run across, thanks to JL Merrow’s deft hand and lovely sense of humor.

In a genre where we’ve learned not to jump to conclusions or make assumptions, JL Merrow crafted a character who’s spent his life having others define him by his looks, when, in fact, it’s his heart and soul and downright goodness that make Al who he is, and make it easy to see why a man like Larry would fall madly in love with the big, tattooed, beautifully simple man.

muscling throughThe bigger they come, the harder they fall… in love.

Cambridge art professor Larry Morton takes one, alcohol-glazed look at the huge, tattooed man looming in a dark alley, and assumes he’s done for. Moments later he finds himself disarmed—literally and figuratively. And, the next morning, he can’t rest until he offers an apology to the man who turned out to be more gentle than giant.

Larry’s intrigued to find there’s more to Al Fletcher than meets the eye; he possesses a natural artistic talent that shines through untutored technique. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see the sensitive soul beneath Al’s imposing, scarred, undeniably sexy exterior. Least of all Larry’s class-conscious family, who would like nothing better than to split up this mismatched pair.

Is it physical? Oh, yes, it’s deliciously physical, and so much more—which makes Larry’s next task so daunting. Not just convincing his colleagues, friends and family that their relationship is more than skin deep. It’s convincing Al.

Warning: Contains comic misunderstandings, misuse of art materials, and unexpected poignancy.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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The Fine Print:

*Must be 18 years old or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions apply
*The Novel Approach will be responsible for prize delivery in e-book format of winner’s choice
*All comments must be relevant to qualify

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, MLR Press, Reviewed by Sadonna, S.J. Frost

Review: Acting on Love by S.J. Frost

Title: Acting on Love

Author: S.J. Frost

Publisher: MLR Press

Pages/Word Count: 36000 Words

At a Glance: A nice, short and sweet addition to this fan-favorite series.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Brandon Alexander has risen to the top of theatre in Chicago, but when you reach the top, there’s usually only one way left to go. Funding fell through on the latest play he was to star in and now he finds himself an unemployed actor. Coming fresh off a bad audition, he wonders if his time in the spotlight is over. But what worries him more, is not making the man he loves proud of him.

Shunichi Miyamoto runs a highly successful dojo. He had always let work be the focus of his life, until over a year ago, the man of his dreams walked into the dojo to rekindle his passion for karate, and it led to further passions between him and Brandon. He knows Brandon is worried about his career, but he loves him, he’s proud of him, and he’ll do anything for Brandon’s happiness.

Both Brandon and Shunichi want to spend their lives together, but when a new opportunity comes to Brandon, he must decide whether to follow his career dreams or to act on his love for Shunichi.

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Review: I enjoyed this novella, and eighth book in the Conquest series, about the familiar secondary characters Brandon and Shun, Jesse’s brother and his partner. There are lots of spoilers for the other Conquest books, though, so I don’t recommend reading Acting on Love out of order.

We have seen Brandon Alexander, Jesse’s brother, in several of the other Conquest books. In book 2 of the series, No Fear, Brandon meets Shunichi Miyamoto, and they fall deeply in love. Shun runs his family’s dojo and is busy with his students and classes. Brandon’s career in the Chicago theater world has taken off, and he is quite successful.

They have been together for a year in this story, when Brandon’s next play falls through and he then blows an audition. Like most actors (or so I’m told), he begins to have a lot of doubt about his career, his talent and ultimately, his worth – particularly as a partner to Shun. In the meantime, Shun is busier than ever with the dojo.

When Brandon is really down about the audition, Shun tells him they will be okay. He’s sure Brandon will be fine and he will get another job. He’s realistic about the recession and how artists are impacted, but he continues to reassure Brandon that things will get better and that he’s going to get through this.

Just when things are looking bleak, Brandon is offered a dream job, but it means potentially big changes in his life, and Shun’s too. He’s nervous and excited and scared and worried. Jesse and Evan try to help Shun keep Brandon calm in the face of this new opportunity. Of course, Shun is nervous as well, since this job means that their relationship will change in some ways, but he’s confident they can work it out. Unfortunately, he’s not sure Brandon has the same confidence.

There are some tense moments as Brandon prepares for the audition of a lifetime, but there is support and encouragement too. Shun and Jesse and Evan play a big part in helping Brandon see what needs to be done. It was really nice to catch up with Jesse and Evan, and see a lot of brotherly love between Jesse and Brandon especially.

The big question in this story is whether or not Brandon and Shun can take all the changes that might be in store for them, and come out the other side. Both guys have to make some decisions and determine what they really want and what they are willing to compromise to get it.

This story is a bit shorter than more of the Conquest novels, but I felt like we got a good sense of these characters in past stories, so there wasn’t a lot of background information required. S.J. Frost told a complete story in this shorter work, and it didn’t feel rushed or choppy at all. If you are a fan of this series, then I definitely recommend it.






You can buy Acting on Love here:

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4 Stars, Drama, Genre Romance, MLR Press, Reviewed by Sammy, S.J. Frost

Review: Storming Love: Gage & Collin by S.J. Frost

Title: Storming Love: Gage & Collin

Author: S.J. Frost

Publisher: MLR Press

Pages/Word Count: 90 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: When Hurricane Lauris strikes, former lovers, Gage and Collin find themselves trapped together with old emotions and passion rising between them.

As a professional rider on the NRHA circuit, Gage Chapman has known success. He’s also known discrimination. Many people didn’t want an openly gay rider competing in the sport, much less winning again and again on his champion Paint stallion, The Shaman. Wanting to get away from it all, Gage had left Utah to set up a breeding farm in North Carolina and there, he found what he’d always hoped for, a man he could love. Continue reading

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MLR Press, S.J. Frost

Give This One A Read And You’ll Be Feelin’ “A Little Bit Country” In No Time



“By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.” ― Dale Carnegie



When this story begins we are introduced to Ash Ivers, a man that completely owns the title “Rock Star”. With outrageous hairstyles, make up and rock star clothes, Ash owns his public persona. Ever since the band, From Ashes, made its debut on the scene and was up for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards there has been a war of words going on between Ash and Jackson Abrams.

Jackson Abrams is the complete opposite of Ash Ivers. Where Ash is the “rock star” Jackson is the country star. When Jackson won the Best New Artist award, Ash didn’t take it very well and the verbal barbs started flying. The two men continue with back and forth insults until everything comes to a head at a benefit concert where they have both been slated to perform.

Jackson is tired of the “battle” he and Ash have been fighting in the press and wants to bury the hatchet, in person. When he approaches Ash on the tour bus he basically shows up hat in hand wanting to call a truce, but the conversation devolves into more insults quickly and Jackson leaves. Later Ash realizes how much of an ass he is being and with a little push from his bandmates, he goes to apologize to Jackson. Again, these two can barely get through a conversation without ending up in a fight.

It became pretty clear to everyone who was close to the two men that there was more going on with them. After one kiss Ash and Jackson finally realize it is sexual tension driving their war of words. Of course one afternoon of lovin’ can’t cure their horrible communication skills. These two have some epic problems learning to talk to each other without putting their feet in their mouths. I think they fight so much because the making up between them is just too hot!

Eventually they get their acts together and they realize that opposites really do attract. Now, Ash has always been completely out and proud, but Jackson feels he has to keep his sexuality private to be a successful country music artist. Ash doesn’t like it, but he cares about Jackson enough to do whatever it takes to give their relationship a chance.

Both men are coming off their own tours after the benefit concert, so they decide to split their off time between Jackson’s ranch and Ash’s LA penthouse. Three weeks into their relationship they are closer than ever and realize this is more than killing time, they are starting to truly care for one another. When things are going this good something bad HAS to happen, right? Well, of course it does!

One of Jackson’s fellow country artists blows the whistle on Ash and Jackson through the media. Jackson ends up losing his music label, his band and most of his “friends” when the news breaks. This is when he and Ash have to put their budding relationship to the test. Will Ash stand beside Jackson? Will Jackson get any support from his fans? Will he be able to be an out and proud country star, or will he have to go back into the closet and deny Ash?

I have to say, I didn’t read the free short story that S.J. Frost wrote that led to this book. I am glad I didn’t because I got to meet Ash and Jackson while reading the book and I had no preconceived notions going in. I loved Ash and Jackson in this book. They are both such great characters and when they get together it’s magic. I feel like S.J. Frost has written a wonderful “opposites attract” story here. We get to see Jackson rock out a bit and we get to see Ash realize he may just be “A Little Bit Country”.

I highly recommend going along for the ride with these two. You certainly won’t regret it!

Reviewed by: Jackie

You can buy A Little Bit Country here:

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