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

Review: Evolution: Genesis by Lissa Kasey

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Amazon

Title: Evolution: Genesis (Evolution: Book Two)

Author: Lissa Kasey

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

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

Reviewed By: Sammy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Evolution: Genesis here:

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OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed By Carrie, SJD Peterson

Review: Innocence to the Max by SJD Peterson

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Title: Innocence to the Max

Author: SJD Peterson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages

At a Glance: Do you love vampires?  I love vampires, and I loved Innocence to the Max!

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: On his sixteenth birthday, Francisco “Cisco” Aguilar first sets eyes on Maximilian De Ferrari, owner of Wicked Grounds, an exclusive BDSM club. Cisco has been lost, unsure of what is missing in his life. Over a century old, Max leads a vampire clan, and Cisco is drawn to him in a way he can’t explain. The moment he sees Max he knows his quest isn’t about what he’s been missing, but who.

Five years’ wait seems more than Cisco can bear, but he perseveres and on his twenty-first birthday he walks into Wicked Ground. He’s unafraid to meet the vampire he’s sure is his destiny. Max has been waiting for him, too.

What Max has known all these years, and what Cisco soon discovers, is that more than fate is drawing them together. Iunctio Copula is a powerful binding link capable of restoring cold, dead hearts. With Max and Cisco bound, Cisco will be Max’s greatest weakness. Unable to let Max go, Cisco is thrust into a dark world, where he’s nearly powerless, left to fight for his life and his future with Max. Worse, he’s at the mercy of those who will use him—and hurt him—just to get to the powerful vampire.

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Review: SJD Peterson is one of my go-to writers whenever I need a really well written book, and Innocence to the Max falls right in line. Is this a new series?  Gosh, I hope so. There are so many incredible characters in this book that deserve their own story.

Max is a centuries old vampire, and the head of his clan, searching for something he doesn’t even believe exists, not really. And then one night, he is taking a quiet break from his club. Cisco is in a car, driving down the street in front of him, and his path is forever changed. Cisco is celebrating his sixteenth birthday, looks down an alley, and his body lights up with recognition of a man he cannot see for the shadows, and cannot pursue because of his age. Five years later, and Cisco is out to claim the man from the shadows, knowing he is a vampire and his Master—Cisco wants nothing more than to serve the man who stole his heart from a street corner.

This book does have some disturbing scenes of violence and rape, so be warned, but it is not the point of the story, merely an aspect of it. This is a story about two men struggling hard to be the men they need to be for themselves as well as for each other. It is a happy-for-now tale, with the promise for more. As well written as the main characters are, the secondary characters carry the story forward with wit and fortitude, and I really want a book for Benny!

I highly recommend this story. If you are into hot vampires, with some light BDSM and soul mates, then this is a book you will definitely enjoy.

TNA_Signature_Carrie

 

 

 

You can buy Innocence to the Max here:

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

Release Day Review: Stygian by Santino Hassell

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Amazon US

Title: Stygian

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 217 Pages

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

Reviewed By: JJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA_Signature_JJ

 

 

 

You can buy Stygian here:

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Thianna D

Guest Post: Discovery (Drakyl Ranch: Book One) by Thianna Durston

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Cowboys, Drakyl, Vampyr…and Things That Go Bump in the Night

In Montana there’s a ranch you might want to steer clear of. The men there are nice enough, especially the younger cousins, but these cowboys have a bit of a secret. They aren’t quite human. Have your attention? Humans, see, live blissfully unaware of a paranormal realm that exists beside our own. The cowboys at Drakyl Ranch did too. Once. Until they started to change. And gained a taste for human blood.

Welcome to my world where cowboys and vampires collide in interesting ways. To be honest, when I first even heard the idea of writing a vampire/cowboy romance, I giggled myself silly. Until the Plot Bunny hit five seconds later. The character Aaron began chatting in my head about being tired of his sickness, so tired of being allergic to the sun. And that’s how it all started.

I knew, of course, of the basic rules of vampirism:

  1. Can’t go into the sun or they fry
  2. They drink human blood
  3. Deathly pale
  4. Wooden stake to the heart can kill them
  5. Depending on which lore you look at either silver is deadly to them, or it’s the fact the silver is in the shape of a cross that is deadly to them.

But beside those rules, vampire lore goes a bit crazy. You have some people in history that would actually bury bodies face down with the belief that if the dead had been infected as a vampire, that they wouldn’t realize they were digging their way deeper underground when they tried to get out of their casket. You also have some of the newest lore – like Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight vamps who sparkle in the sun.

Let me set this straight. Neither my vampyr nor my drakyl sparkle. And yes, I have two different types. Why? When you’re creating a new set of vampires, you have to think of the wheres, the whats, and the whys. Where can they go, what happens when they get there, and why does this new lore work? My drakyl, once they begin to turn are slaves to the moon. The sun, even before they turn completely, can give them a third degree burn. In many ways, they are allergic to the sun’s rays. This fits into the first vampire lore that mostly seems to have come from the beginning. Plus, it made sense to me that drakyl, vampyr-like creatures that are born human and through a strand of DNA turn into drakyl at around 20 years of age, might be a little more humane, more adept at acting human, though they have to also adapt to having some vampyric traits.

Do they drink blood? Yes. And they aren’t embarrassed about it. Well, Aaron tries to fight his desire for it – thank goodness for blood banks.

Their skin is incredibly pale, but if well fed (human blood especially), their skin can be a pale ivory.

Now, as for the wooden stake to the heart… I have never been able to buy into that one. The undead, it seems to me, would have hardy skin that would be hard to punch a stake through. Besides, the whole sleep in a casket thing is very much for old-lore vampirism wherein the vampire has to sleep in the dirt they were buried in during the day or they would poof and die. My drakyl sleep in beds. Their skin does harden, but especially their veins when they change. The only thing that can bust through their veins is iron and the only thing that can kill them besides the sun is silver.

I love the juxtaposition of creatures who have to live off the blood of others still being quite humane as the drakyl at Drakyl Ranch are.

But for those who are disappointed I left the evilness of vampire behind. Never fear. The drakyl have an enemy, the vampyr. True vampire-like creatures, they are made through death and poison, tortured into their undead state. They reek and have lost their teeth over time, their entire bodies stinking of rot. Vampyr live for three things: to drink blood, to attack and take over, and to murder drakyl.

Welcome to Drakyl Ranch where my drakyl cowboys somehow manage to find their Joined, their forever companion, even with vampyr attacking any chance they can get.

~Thianna Durston

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Discovery-Customdesign-Jayaheer2015-smallpreviewBlurbAaron thought he was dying, Jaret showed him how to live.
Now the only thing standing between them and forever
is an ancient enemy set on their annihilation.

Living in Montana and working the ranch is all Aaron wants to do for the rest of his life. Diagnosed as allergic to the sun thirteen years previous, every day is a struggle to get out of bed. Having to wear long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and even material to cover his face from the effects of the sun, just makes it all worse. Now, in his thirty-second year, he is sure this will be his last summer. While he hates it, he knows he needs to come to terms with the truth and put things in order for his younger cousins. Before he does so, he heads out for one night of pleasure before facing what’s coming.

Jaret loves excitement and new adventures. For over five hundred years, he has sought them out. In Montana on a whim, he comes across someone he doesn’t expect, someone who makes him feel things he does not understand and does not want to give up. In no time at all, he feels like he cannot live without Aaron. The only problem is Aaron doesn’t know who he is, what he is, nor that he isn’t going to die. Not on Jaret’s watch. With a plan to help the other man discover who he is in place, he only has one thing to worry about: whether an ancient enemy will come and destroy everything he now holds dear.

Warning: This book is a paranormal m/m romance with some horror elements. It also crosses cowboy and vampire genres. If you don’t think cowboys look hot with fangs, you’re missing out.

Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes & Noble

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Author BioAuthor Bio: Thianna Durston is a writer by day and supernova by night. Or at least that’s what the faeries tell her. And who is she to deny those pesky *cough* lovely little creatures?

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, though her heart belongs elsewhere. In the meantime, until she can return to the place she calls home, she happily lives in a city that still thinks it’s a small town. Thankfully, it has given her muse lots of amusing places to start a story.

You can find her at: Thianna’s Website || Thianna’s Blog || Facebook Author Page || Twitter || Google+ || Goodreads

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4 Stars, Bailey Bradford, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Angel

Release Day Review: Sunshine Is Overrated by Bailey Bradford

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Amazon US

Title: Sunshine is Overrated (The Vamp for Me Series #3)

Author: Bailey Bradford

PublisherPride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 112 Pages

At a GlanceAn excellent addition to a fun and sweet series.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Life with vamps is never easy.

Abernathy Meyers is already mated to a vamp, Zebulon. It’s just too bad that Zebulon doesn’t give a darn about him. Abbie’s stuck with the man for eternity—or until they die. Some days, Abbie thinks that can’t happen soon enough. He’s tired of being treated badly, yet he doesn’t really want to make his earthly exit yet.

Because he’s longed for another man—another vampire—for years. Forbidden love—is anything more compelling, or more heart-breaking?

There’s a twisted past, a hidden story linking Abbie, Zebulon and the coven leader, Claude.

Claude lives with a fear of turning to dust at any moment. It isn’t reasonable, but he can’t shake it. He’s let his own fears impede his potential happiness, and instead he puts the needs of his coven first, ignoring his own. But if he’s deliberately blind to one particular human’s needs because that human is a mate to another vampire, then is Claude truly leading to the best of his ability?

It’s a tough question for him to answer and soon, he’ll have to make a choice that will affect him and Abbie, forever.

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Review:  Bailey Bradford is a comfort author for me. I love reading her always happy, everyone is gay, and sometimes silly stories. The Vamp for Me series is classic Bradford, and I have loved seeing it evolve. I feel a bit guilty jumping on one particular author’s books when they come up for review on the site, and I try to give others a chance to try them first, but it’s like a guilty pleasure compulsion I can’t resist.

Sunshine Is Overrated is Abernathy Meyer’s and Claude’s story, and the blurb tells you everything you need to know without spoiling it for the reader. I was thoroughly intrigued by Abernathy from the beginning book, My Life Without Garlic, when he warned the protagonist about being mated to a vampire. I read and enjoyed the sequel, despite there being very little to do with Abernathy. Still, I waited, albeit a bit impatiently, for Abernathy’s tale, and finally it arrived. Can I just say I love being able to review books like this before they are out to the public and opinions and spoilers hit the internet?

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. I loved Abernathy and Claude’s story when I finally was able to get my greedy little hands on it. Oh, the pining and the drama! I live for Bradford’s version of it because it’s fun, and sometimes you just need that in a story. Not real fond of the nicknames used, but meh, it’s a minor thing for me, and it adds realism, I think, because almost everyone has a nickname they use with a loved one, whether they want to admit to it or not. And, Bradford’s vampires are real, to an extent, in this verse—not undead nightmare savages, but also they aren’t overly brooding, sparkling antiheroes either. Just regular ‘people’ who happen to need to drink blood to survive.

The backstory of these two men is riddled with longing, desire and miscommunication, and like typical men, these vampires know how to mess up a relationship good. Bradford is known for her happy endings, and I love how she winds up a tale. In Sunshine Is Overrated, she takes the typical tropes of men in romance and adds her own supernatural flair to them. I have mentioned before that Bradford twists the normal genre staples for her verses, and I really enjoyed that. She also has real consequences for her characters that normally aren’t hand-waved or brushed off to get their happily-ever-after, and I adore her all the more for this particular brand of writing.

Sunshine Is Overrated also expands the world Bradford has created by introducing other supernatural creatures to this verse. Vampires and their mates are a given in Bradford’s world, but demons, and zombies are added in this tale, both with Bradford’s individual spin on each. This book is a complete tale, with an explosive conclusion, and I highly recommend you read the other two books before starting this one just to get the full-on experience of the series. Bradford also leaves an opening for herself to continue this series, and I hope there will be more to come.

Thank you for sharing another sweet and fun tale!

TNA_Signature_Angel

 

 

 

You can buy Sunshine Is Overrated here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Pride Publishing

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2 Stars, Extasy Books, Melody Lane, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Midnight Passion by Melody Lane

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Midnight Passion (City Shifters: Book One)

Author: Melody Lane

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 98 Pages

At a Glance: Midnight Passion left me disappointed beyond belief.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Dr. Ryan Collen detests being a vampire although there is hope on the horizon in the form of a monthly infusion. Not only does Ryan hunger for the light of day but the touch of the man who might save him from his demons.

Eric Beck is a shapeshifting recovery agent by day and Muay Thai kickboxer by night. While assisting at the aftermath of a vampire convention attack, he meets his old high school flame Ryan who ignites a craving inside him like he’s never known. Can Eric help crush the evil that threatens to destroy many lives and lose his heart at the same time?

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Review: My love of vampires knows no bounds, but Midnight Passion left me disappointed beyond belief. The story did have an interesting plot, but the author did not develop it at all. I’m guessing here, but I think humans turned into vampires through some DNA mutation. There are shifters and other paranormals, too, but there’s no info or backstory on them, so we are left in the dark.

Ryan, the vamp, runs into his high school crush, Eric, who happens to be a shifter. There is nothing I love more than a hot vamp and shifter getting it on, but here the characters were just mediocre. I think the biggest issue I had was the dialogue. I can only describe it as amateurish and cringe-worthy. It didn’t convey passion or sadness, so I was not interested in the leads or in what they were doing.

The writing can also be described as only so-so. The descriptive language should paint a three dimensional picture, but here it was one dimensional, boring, and not interesting.

At the end of the day, Midnight Passion left me cold and unsatisfied.

TNA_Signature_Lana

 

 

 

You can buy Midnight Passion here:

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Giveaways, Ingela Bohm

Guest Post and Giveaway: Last Communion by Ingela Bohm

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Ingela Bohm to The Novel Approach on the tour for her new novel Last Communion. Enjoy Ingela’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Rhythm Is a Writer

I tried to turn his head, but was stuck. The metal is pressed so hard against my aching teeth that I finally need clearing them. Lightning quick drove mom in stages so far that it bumped against the palate.

“What are you doing?”

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What are you doing, indeed…

Ever considered using a translation engine to churn out a book in another language? Think again. The above is an example of what can happen. The original is a perfectly ordinary paragraph in Swedish, but once it’s been through the grinder, it’s basically gibberish.

Why is this? Why can’t I feed a Swedish novel into a translation engine and have it spit out an English version at a moment’s notice?

Because a text always needs the human touch. Language isn’t a rational system of words that correspond neatly to words in other languages. There are nuances that make the word ‘wet’ different from the Swedish ‘våt’ – even the two English synonyms ‘wet’ and ‘soaking’ don’t mean exactly the same thing.

Other times, one word can mean two things, and the translation engine has no idea which one to pick. For example, consider the word ‘stages’ above. Taken out of context, it’s a correct translation. But the Swedish word for ‘stages’ also means ‘the spoon.’ To decide which word is appropriate, you need to understand the whole passage.

Also, there are grammatical differences between languages, such that in English, you need to specify whose head is turning – as in ‘I tried to turn my head.’ In Swedish, you can say ‘I tried to turn the head,’ and everyone still knows that it’s my own head I’m turning (unless we’re talking about some kind of horror story). But faced with a phrase like ‘I tried to turn the head,’ a translation engine just makes a wild guess about whose head is turning. This can result in men suddenly becoming women, or people turning other people’s heads – and not in a good way.

But quite apart from all these technical differences, there are also issues like the author’s voice, the tone of the text, and the appropriate use of metaphor. A computer can’t convey mood like a human can. Also, if I use local phenomena to add color, it may be meaningless to someone from another country. For example, ‘it tasted like cloudberries.’ Does that give you an instant feel for what I mean? No? Unless you’ve eaten cloudberries and know their peculiar, swampy taste, that simile is worthless. In such cases, I may want to change it into something more culturally appropriate.

Last Communion was first written in Swedish, and when I embarked on the journey of translating it, I had no idea how long it would take. I knew that it would require a lot of hard work, but not that it would take six months rather than a couple of weeks. I actually tried sending it through a translation engine, just to see if it could give me a useful template to start with, but of course it couldn’t. Most of the text turned out so weird that I didn’t even understand what it meant any longer – even though I was the one who had written it.

In the end, I rewrote the whole thing from scratch, because it was easier that way. Above all, it helped me find an appropriate rhythm. One of my role models once said that writing song lyrics is a lot like creating drum parts, and it stayed with me because I really agree. Sometimes you may have to cut or add words in a sentence, purely for the sake of the rhythm. I often see advice about deleting adjectives and adverbs, but sometimes they need to be added, too. A text is like music. Sometimes it’s not so much about the meaning, but about the ebb and flow of syllables.

While trying to find the right rhythm for Last Communion, I listened to the same album over and over again – Termination Bliss by Deathstars. It’s what I like to call “hum-along death music” (sounds better in Swedish, I promise…). On the surface, it’s harsh and heavy, but the melodies are nothing short of sweet. It was the perfect accompaniment to a romance that was played out against a backdrop of death and decay.

In contrast, when I edited the story, I couldn’t listen to music at all. At that stage, I wanted to feel the text swell and surge like a symphony, and I couldn’t have someone else’s rhythm distracting me. I had to listen to the words on the page, and for that, I needed absolute silence.

And yet even now, a year after I finished the first draft, I still hear my story in the Deathstars’ music. I can’t listen to those songs without seeing my nameless hero, hanging from a platform above a giant turbine, holding on for dear life. It’s part of the music, like a drumbeat at the back of my mind.

The music of the vampires.

The steady pulse of blood.

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Last CommunionBlurb: A worldwide disease has all but wiped out humankind. Only a few people survive, the doctor’s son among them. But there’s something wrong with him: he no longer wants to eat. Is he finally dying too?

The answer is as unexpected as it is horrible: one night, he discovers a new hunger – a mindless craving for blood. Horrified at himself, he flees into the night, but when he tries to find sanctuary, he almost ends up killed. Just as he starts to realize that even a predator can become prey, he runs into Garangjas – another man who drinks blood. Irresistibly drawn, he follows Garangjas to his flock of ‘Confirmands,’ a weird group of people who might just be his ticket to survival.

There’s just one problem: how can the Confirmands stay alive if the rest of humanity dies out?

Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes & Noble || iBooks || Smashwords || All Romance eBooks

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Watch the Trailer:

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Ingela BohmAbout the Author: Ingela Bohm lives in an old cinema, tucked away in a northern Swedish forest where she can wander around all day long and dictate her books. She used to dream of being an actor until an actual actor asked, “Do you really need to do it?” That’s when she realized that the only thing she really needed to do was to write. She has since pretended to be a dietician, a teacher, a receptionist and a cook, but only to conceal her real identity.

Her first imaginary friend was called Grabolina and lived in her closet. Nowadays she has too many imaginary friends to count, but at least some of them are out of the closet. Her men may not be conventionally handsome, but they can charm your pants off, and that’s all that matters. Recent works include the twisted online love thriller #Not Safe For Work, Shakespeare/Marlowe litslash Rival Poet and the third instalment about seventies rock band Pax Cymrica.

Ingela’s more useless talents include reading tarot cards, killing pot plants and drawing scandalous pictures that no one gets to see. Her favorite tool is the crowbar. She can’t walk in heels and she’s stopped trying, but she has cycled 1200 miles in the UK and knows which campsites to avoid if you don’t like spiders. If you see her on the train you will wonder what age she is.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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4 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Holiday Romance, JMS Books LLC, Paranormal, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Desmond and Garrick (Book One) by Hayden Thorne

Title: Desmond and Garrick (Book One)

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Another fantastic historical YA fantasy from Hayden Thorne.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: It’s 1815. Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius, who agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, heartbroken by another boy’s callous treatment of him in school, rebels against Garrick’s attempts at educating him and does everything he could to chase Garrick away, which proves to be a greater challenge than he first thought.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit and brings with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, life in Dryden Abbey turns upside-down, mainly when Desmond meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a sullen vampire poet.

Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds life in the Hathaway household to be a great deal more than he bargained for.

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Review: Hayden Thorne knows how to write historical YA, and historical fantasy YA, so when I had the opportunity to read Desmond and Garrick I was thrilled. First of all, it has a similarly haunting cover of some old building. Without even reading the blurb, I knew the house would play some interesting part in the story, and it did.

The first of a series (at least one other book is out, or soon to be out), Desmond and Garrick focuses on a vampire family and their young son, Desmond, who has been sent out of human schools for “provoking” human boys, like pretty much every young vampire has done. Desperate to change him and get him to settle down, his parents send for a human tutor and find Garrick, a brilliant scholar who detests teaching. But, the idea of working with vampires and learning about their species intrigues him.

What follows is a story as both teacher and pupil grow. Their growth may not necessarily be because of each other, but changes take place. Garrick is drawn more towards tutoring Desmond’s talented younger sister, who shows more promise than Desmond. And Desmond, attempting to get over the human boy he loved and lost, finds himself face to face with his older brother’s friend, Leigh Sherbourne, a vampire poet who both intrigues and repulses Desmond.

Like the author’s other YA books, there is very little romance, and what is there is incredibly slow to start, but also, like the other books, that’s okay. There’s more to this than the romance. Instead, you’ll be drawn to watching the vampire children (who act much younger than fifteen and sixteen) throwing themselves off the top of their home, locking themselves in the torture chamber’s various devices, watching vampire parents adding graveyards and collapsed walls to their cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle home.

I look forward to the next book, because this one leaves off in spot that suggests this would work well as one long book rather than two (or more) parts of one story.

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You can buy Desmond and Garrick here:

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4.5 Stars, Bailey Bradford, Paranormal Romance, Pride Publishing, Reviewed by Angel

Release Day Review: Don’t Stake My Life on It by Bailey Bradford

Title: Don’t Stake My Life on It (Vamp for Me: Book Two)

Author: Bailey Bradford

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 113 Pages

At a Glance: A sweet and funny follow-up to My Life Without Garlic.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Stakes, kilts and holy water—Andrew Meyer is in for the time of his life!

Radney’s tired of being the coven oddball. He had his reasons for being the way he was, and he let those reasons rule his life for centuries. Another mistake—almost harming a human he’d been sent to keep an eye on—has sent Radney on a mission of self-improvement. He’s going to conquer his issues and be the best damned vamp ever!

Maybe.

Andrew Meyers has the term paper from hell to write. It needs to be original and intriguing. What could be more so than people with a vampire fetish?

But when that fetish turns out to be one he has, for a very sexy, kilt-wearing, neurotic vampire, the tables are turned. Andrew isn’t prepared to find out that vampires are real, but he learns it anyway. With help from his twin brother, Erin, he just might be able to find a happy ending—or an ecstatic beginning—for him and his hot as hell red-headed vamp. If he’s careful, and patient, he might even find the vamp for him.

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Review: This sequel, which takes place at the same time as Bradford’s novel My Life Without Garlic, is a sweet and funny addition to the Vamp for Me series. I enjoyed this tale, but was slightly disappointed that Bradford chose Radney to continue the series instead of one of the other vampires who had been more involved in the last book.

Stake begins with Claude, the coven leader, confronting Radney about his actions in the previous book, and reprimanding him. It is said that Radney is a bigot and not quite the brightest bulb in the bunch, and I think that rather does the vampire, who is supposed to be centuries old, an injustice. He is a bit immature and uncouth, but I wouldn’t say he is stupid. Radney changes greatly over the course of the book, especially after he meets Andrew, and it’s all for the better.

Andrew is a studious young man who, along with his hyper-sexual twin, Erin, manages to discover the common theme of this series: a vampire dating website and that vampires are real. Add in vampire hunters, some school boy humor and a bit of danger, and you have one entertaining and fun story.

I remember Radney from the first book, and while his story is cute and fun, his backstory isn’t. The book has touched on some issues about abuse and learning to let go, which are dealt with delicately in spite of the humor throughout this novel. Bradford also continues the quirkiness of twisting the vampire mythos with reality to an interesting degree, and I really like her take on the genre.

I am looking forward to more of her verse, hopefully with many more tales, especially Claude and Abernathy’s story. Thank you, Ms. Bradford, for an enjoyable read!

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You can buy Don’t Stake My Life on It here:

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2 Stars, Charlie Richards, Extasy Books, Reviewed by Lana, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: An Unforgettable Bite by Charlie Richards

Title: An Unforgettable Bite (A Loving Nip: Book Three)

Author: Charlie Richards

Publisher: eXtasy Books

Pages/Word Count: 83 Pages

At a Glance: An Unforgettable Bite is a vampire story that left me underwhelmed and a bit disappointed.

Reviewed By: Lana

Blurb: Nathan Hanson is still working through the recent changes to his life. When he walks away from Diana, his long-time girlfriend, he comes out to his father, Owen. To his surprise, he learns that Owen is gay, too. Unfortunately, Diana doesn’t want to move on. When she continues to call him, Nathan changes his phone number. Next, she starts dropping by his work, so he gives her description to his work’s lot security, asking them to keep her out. Nathan even moves into an apartment on the far side of town, near to where his father now lives, but sometimes he still feels like he’s being watched.

When Nathan finally gets up the courage and accompanies a few friends to a gay bar, he just wants to have a little mindless fun to take his mind off his problems…and maybe, finally act on his desires for another man. There, he meets Lexington Paistro, who is handsome, sexy, and into Nathan. He’s also a vampire. Having learned of paranormals when his father bonded with one, it’s not the biting that Nathan fears. It’s the possessiveness. He’s still trying to extricate himself from a woman who thinks she owns him. Will Lexington behave the same way?

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Review: An Unforgettable Bite is a vampire story that left me underwhelmed and a bit disappointed. This wasn’t a horrible story, but it could have been much better.

The plot was the usual vampire storyline: A vampire finds his true mate in a club and proceeds to bite him, thus binding them. His human mate knows about the existence of vamps because he’s part of the paranormal clique. He just got out of a controlling relationship with a woman, and is gun shy, but wants to explore his feelings for men. They meet in the club, sparks fly, pants come off, and the vamp can’t help but bite him. This formula should produce a pretty hot read, but here it never takes off. The characters were a bit one dimensional, and though Nathan, the human, was likeable, he wasn’t fully developed. We got very little of his backstory, and some of his interactions with the secondary characters, and Lex, the vamp, were just awkward.

Lex is an enforcer for the vampire council, and the storyline about why he was in town was just hard to understand. I found it to be amateurishly written. As a couple they could have worked, and they did in some scenes, but their dialogue at times was just cheesy, and I was turned off.

Then the crazy girlfriend plotline was just that—crazy—and the resolution was ridiculous, not believable at all. Yes, this is a fantasy, but I wanted to be engrossed in that fantasy and I wasn’t.

An Unforgettable Bite was a subpar effort that could have done more with its characters, storyline, and in the writing department. It could have been more memorable, but it wasn’t.

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You can buy An Unforgettable Bite here:

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4 Stars, N.R. Walker, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sadonna, Self-Published

Review: Cronin’s Key II by N.R. Walker

Title: Cronin’s Key II

Author: N.R. Walker

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 195 Pages

At a Glance: Another wild ride with Alec and Cronin and the rest of the vamps. This is what the Indiana Jones movies would be like if Indy were a gay vampire!

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: History isn’t always what it seems.

With the battle of Egypt behind them, Alec and Cronin are enjoying the thrill of new love. Though fate doesn’t wait long before throwing them back into the world of weird.

They know Alec’s blood is special, though its true purpose still eludes them. And given Alec’s inability to be changed into a vampire, Cronin is free to drink from him at will. But the ramifications of drinking such powerful blood starts a ripple effect.

With the help of Jorge, a disturbing vampire-child with the gift of foresight, Alec and Cronin face a new kind of war. This time their investigations lead them to the borders of China and Mongolia—but it’s not what lies in the pits beneath that worries Alec.

It’s the creator behind it all.

In the underground depths of China, amidst a war with the Terracotta Army, they will find out just what the Key is, and what Alec means to the vampire world.

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Review: Note: this is the second in a series, and it’s recommended to read in order as much of Book I is a spoiler for Book II.

This series is a madcap romp of paranormal action/suspense and romance! Alec and Cronin have survived one near-miss in Egypt that nearly cost them a very good friend and their own lives. They return to Cronin’s Manhattan condo to luxuriate in their new relationship, but, of course, that can’t last long.

When out for a night of fun with other vampires, it seems that something strange is happening to Cronin, and it looks like it might be traced back to his new life with Alec and Alec’s blood. In addition to the changes in Cronin, it seems that there are more mysterious occurrences around the world that lead them to suspect the work of rogue vampires. Yet another historical figure turns out to be a long dead vampire who is brought back to seek Alec’s blood in order to wreak havoc on the world.
Along the way we meet some more vampires with incredible gifts. Cronin and Alec and their friends must solve the mystery of Alec’s purpose and what the true meaning of his blood and what exactly he is the “key” to, all the while dodging the assassins and kidnappers who seem to dog their every move. Everyone near and dear to Alec is in danger during this adventure. Cronin is distraught at the possibility of Alec being in mortal danger. They are so attuned to each other that it’s obvious that any harm to one will result in catastrophic harm to the other. Cronin wants nothing but to protect Alec and Alec wants nothing more than to resolve the problem in a way that will save both of them. Once again the climactic scene brings us full circle, with astonishing surprises and unforeseen revelations about Alec and his past.

This story had even more surprises than the first installment, in my opinion. I really liked how Alec and Cronin’s relationship changed in this book, and, as a result, led them to being an even stronger couple. The mysterious child vampire, Jorge, really added a fascinating and unexpected component to the story. His gifts and talents were amazing! In addition, there were more history lessons and creative twists on the known accounts of the Chinese terracotta army that made the story just that much more fun.

This series is highly recommended for those who like action, adventure, history, creative paranormal elements and hot, hot smexiness. I cannot wait for the next chapter!







 

You can buy Cronin’s Key II here:

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3 Stars, Amber Kell, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Totally Bound

Review: An Omega’s Heart by Amber Kell

Title: An Omega’s Heart (The Under Wolves: Book Two)

Author: Amber Kell

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 68 Pages

At a Glance: Short story that, for me, fell short.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: When everything is lost, the only thing left to fight for is love.

Conley Elnon has been abused most of his life. He agrees to help the War Council in uncovering a vampire mole in exchange for having the opportunity to find his family. When he meets his mate Jacob, he leaves him in order to track a mad bomber intent on taking out shifter camps.

Jacob refuses to let his mate escape. He’s waited too long to find his fated mate to let him leave before he’s had a chance to say little more than hello. When he finds his mate in the middle of vampire territory, Jacob has to use all his skills to help his mate figure out the truth between vampires and shifters and how they are responsible for what happened to Conley’s family.

Reader Advisory: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.

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Review: I did not read the first book in this series, which I think would have helped me understand what was happening in An Omega’s Heart between the wolves and the vampires; however, even with that, I’m not sure I would have liked the book any more than I did. I’m a fan of shifters, especially the lower ranked shifters like Conley, but this book just fell flat for me and, despite being short, I struggled to complete it.

What I did find interesting about the book was the way the vampires were portrayed. They’re hideous creatures that are able to use glamor to get human victims, but the shifters aren’t affected by that. I hadn’t seen that in a book before, and I found it interesting.

The book starts with Conley trying to find Denel, who he thinks is a shifter with ties to the vampires that took his family. He meets his mate Jacob in the process, and though he wants a mate, now is so not the right time for him to find one.

I wanted to like Conley and Jacob, but I didn’t, not really. I felt that several times in the book their characterizations were inconsistent and things felt forced between them. There were other inconsistences in characterization as well, such as Conley’s mother and the things she said versus what happened. I was confused and it bothered me. Also other little things, such as Conley being attacked with his father’s ring, and later that was changed to a knife. I wasn’t sure which story to believe. Also, the villainous characters were just too over-the-top bad guy, and I couldn’t take them seriously. Conley’s father I wanted to punch, but I saw his fate coming the minute he was introduced.

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You can buy An Omega’s Heart here:

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4.5 Stars, Bailey Bradford, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Totally Bound

Review: My Life Without Garlic by Bailey Bradford

Title: My Life Without Garlic

Author: Bailey Bradford

Publisher: Totally Bound

Pages/Word Count: 134 Pages

At a Glance: A funny and cute take on the vampire mythos.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Some things in life just might be worth giving up garlic for.

It was simple curiosity that led Augustin to the vampire dating site—he thought it must be a joke started up by a bunch of weirdos. Man, was he right—but it just so happens that those weirdos really are vampires, and when one shows up at his place, Augustin’s world is turned upside down.

First he’s got a psychotic vampire to deal with. Then he’s got one who is much more fun hanging around.

Except now that Augustin knows that vampires exist, he can’t be left alive. Or can he? When an alternative is offered up, Augustin doesn’t care for it, either. After all, he doesn’t want to be whisked off to some disgusting vampire den.

Tony’s the vampire next in line to lead the coven. He wants to be a fair man, and that means arguing against killing Augustin. If he’s also attracted to the sarcastic, adorable man, where’s the harm in that?

The attraction between Augustin and Tony is undeniable, but deny it is what they both try to do. Someone is going to have to bend or break.

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Review: Bailey Bradford is an author I have read and enjoyed before, and the blurb for My Life Without Garlic just spoke to me. I am always looking for new takes on the paranormal genre, and this was a fun one. My Life Without Garlic is cute, funny, and an insta-love story that I really enjoyed. There was snark and bad vampire puns and jokes, some even told by the vampires themselves, which made this short story all the more enjoyable as the characters poked fun at both the genre and themselves.

I liked how Bradford used some of the vampire tropes: the allergy to sun, sleeping in a coffin (ventilated ’cause you’d suffocate otherwise LOL!), and turning into bats. She also had the vampires laugh off some of the other well known things that were offensive, such as garlic and holy water. Though, Augustin’s idea of this might have just been a bit skewed since he ‘blessed’ the water himself. It is often said belief is the strongest defense against such things, and it was fun to see the vampire he tried to use this against find it humorous. It made the vampires seem all the more ‘human’ to see that living eternally wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but there were some good things.

I would have liked more on Bradford’s version of vampires, especially in one instance where Augustin is speaking with another vampire’s companion, and he warns him to make certain he is fully prepared to be happy with his mate, Tony. I liked Augustin’s moxie, even if it was defensive, and he did eventually admit his feelings for Tony. I also enjoyed the fact that Augustin wasn’t the perfect male form. He’s overweight and sensitive about it, but the thing I liked most was that Tony didn’t care one bit about that. Tony defended Augustin against a fellow vampire many times, often to the other character’s misfortune.

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You can buy My Life Without Garlic here:

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4 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Samhain Publishing, Z.A. Maxfield

Review: Deep Deception by Z.A. Maxfield

Title: Deep Deception (Deep: Book Two)

Author: Z.A. Maxfield

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 235 Pages

At a Glance: I liked this novel much more than the first, mainly because there was a great deal of action and intrigue.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: He’ll give up everything for his immortal lover…except his humanity.

Leave a note and slip away to Paris alone, Adin thought. It’ll prove to his vampire lover he doesn’t need 24/7 supervision, Adin thought. Instead, Adin lands in a surreal situation that isn’t going to endear him to Donte. At. All.

As he awaits an old foe, Ned Harwiche III, for a prearranged meeting, Adin is head butted, tossed into the back of a car…then gets the chance to acquire an artifact Harwiche had been bidding on.

Adin jumps at it, if only as payback for all the dirty tricks Harwiche has pulled over the years. To his horror, the “artifact” turns out to be an adolescent boy named Bran.

Sickened, Adin vows to help the boy out, but like Donte—like a lot of the world Adin never knew existed—Bran isn’t at all what he seems to be.

While Donte and Adin negotiate the meaning of the word “forever”, Bran is running out of time. Especially when tragedy and betrayal pit Adin’s long-cherished beliefs against Donte’s love.

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Review: In book two of the Deep series, Deep Deception, author Z.A. Maxfield returns us to the enticing couple we have grown to love and, yes, hate, Donte and Adin. Adin, refusing time and again to give up his hold on all things human, finds himself in a bit of a pickle when his arch nemesis in the collecting field uses him as a switch and bait to retrieve a priceless artifact. That artifact turns out to be a boy, barely in his teens, but who is a changeling of a sort, able to delve into the minds of others, and then some. He also happens to be toxic to vampires, a real problem when your boyfriend happens to be one.

From this point, the novel becomes one twist and plot turn after another as secrets are revealed not only about Bran, the mysterious boy, but about Donte, Adin’s friend Edward, and that delightfully snarky bodyguard, Boaz. However, with each new revelation it is uncertain as to whether Donte and Adin can weather one more storm and still remain lovers. Both will have to give up something precious to them and each will have their very life threatened with death before the story ends.

I liked this novel much more than the first, mainly because there was a great deal of action and intrigue. Poor Adin seemed to be thwarted at every turn as he tried to unravel the mystery that was Bran, and the reason why he would be so sought after by less than savory opponents. Bran grew on me with every page, and I found myself quite concerned for his welfare just as Adin was. I loved that Adin’s best friend Edward, and Edward’s lover Tuan, were featured in this story—there is much more than meets the eye with these two, and I would love to see a prequel about them and how they met.

Donte, whom I alternately loved and hated, was not nearly as present in this story as the first. His love for Adin was very apparent, but he was often away for long periods of time, either brooding or hiding—I felt the story was unclear as to which most of the time. This was a prevalent theme in this story, bits and pieces left dangling, uncertainty as to Adin’s future by novel’s end, and some very confusing dream sequences where Bran was delving into Adin’s memories, which often managed to pull me out of the story and left me rather unsure if I had misread or if they were just too jumbled for me to understand.

All in all, Deep Deception gave us much more insight into Adin’s reasons for his reluctance in giving himself completely to Donte. That, coupled with a real coup as to who the true bad guy was in this novel, made for a very entertaining read.

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You can buy Deep Deception here:

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Giveaways, Lavinia Lewis, Totally Bound

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Blood Ties Blog Tour With Lavinia Lewis

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The Novel Approach welcomes Lavinia Lewis today on the Blood Ties blog tour. Lavinia’s here today to chat about Positive Female Characters in M/M Romance, so enjoy her post and then be sure to enter the giveaways from both the author and Totally Bound Publishing (details below).

Good luck!

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Positive Female Characters in M/M Romance

Hi everyone! I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Novel Approach for welcoming me as a guest on your wonderful blog today. And thanks to everyone who is taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this post and help me celebrate the release of my novel Blood Ties.To help me celebrate my release, I am giving away a free ebook copy of Blood Ties. Just leave a comment on the post to be entered into the competition (Contest deadline is one week from today). Good luck, everyone!

As everything in life seems to go in circles, so to do the talks that people have on social media with regards to M/M romance.

I’ve heard them all.

‘Should women be writing gay romance?’

‘Is the gay for you trope an insult to gay men?’

‘Is it wrong to have M/F sex scenes on page in gay romance novels?’

These are just some of the questions that crop up in M/M romance that people have strong opinions about. Another issue which I’ve seen mentioned repeatedly is the portrayal of women in M/M novels or more precisely, women portrayed as the villains in gay romance novels.

I must admit, I’ve read many M/M romance stories where the woman or women are the villains of the story or seem to be on the page solely as a plot device to cause tension between the male leads.

This bothers me.

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist, but as a woman I absolutely believe in the empowerment of women in all areas of life and I like to see women portrayed in a positive way. So why do a lot of female authors feel the need to show women in such a bad light?

One issue which I’ve encountered when writing my own stories is the length of the book. The fashion these days especially with regards toeBooks is for them to be considerably shorter than most mainstream novels. I myself am guilty of having written many novellas and of course there are only so many characters you can introduce in thirty thousand words. That means there is little page space for superfluous characters ― each has to have a reason for being there.Each character has to have their own goals and motivations or there is no room for them on the page. So are they just the baddies of the stories by default because of the need for brevity?

I’m not so sure.

Personally, I enjoy reading about strong women. I also enjoy writing strong female characters and even in my novellas, I try to introduce women who are positive role models. That being said, I’m not totally naive. I know that sometimes in life just as in fiction women are the villains. I know a couple of women personally who fit that mold perfectly. But this is not the norm, nor should it be represented as such.

Now, I’m not saying that writing a woman that way is something I have never or would never do. In fact, I do have one story in which a woman is the villain of the story, but that’s one woman in twenty something books that I’ve had published and I must admit, I struggled to write her that way.

So is it just me who has an issue with the women in these stories or are there other readers out there who would like to see more positive female characters in M/M romance? What do you think of the women you read about in M/M romance novels? Do you like to read about women in these stories at all?

There are a couple of women in my latest release, Blood Ties who have important roles in the book. Neither woman is without their faults, however. They are real women, but by the end of the story, I would like to think that they prove themselves and each come into their own.

If you are not familiar with Blood Ties, book one in my Vanderguard Vampires trilogy, it charts the lives of Thomas Vanderguard, a vampire prince and his once human consort, Daniel Alexander. From falling in love through to Daniel’s transition into a vampire, you’ll see them navigate life’s ups and downs all while fighting a war against the Gemmelli family and their bloodthirsty, soulless vampire Drones.

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bloodties_800Here’s the blurb for Blood TiesVampire prince Thomas Vanderguard has been alone for over two hundred years—ever since the death blow that killed his companion, Jacob. For centuries, Drones have sought to eradicate his family’s royal lineage so that a rival family may seize the throne and gain control of their territory. But Thomas’ self-imposed solitude comes to an end when Daniel Alexander walks into his life. After several months of refusal, Thomas finally gives in to Daniel’s request to change him into a vampire, even though he fears Daniel will meet the same fate as Jacob.
With a possible eternity of happiness stretching out in front of them, can Thomas keep his lover safe or is history about to repeat itself?

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Excerpt from Blood TiesDaniel slipped in the door behind Thomas then closed it behind him. The queen sat behind a mahogany desk near the window and looked up when they entered. A warm smile spread across her face. It slipped when she looked at Daniel, but there was no hostility in her expression, only curiosity and a modicum of surprise. Daniel was undoubtedly very different from how she had obviously imagined him to be. That was understandable. He was the opposite of Jacob.

“Mother, I’d like to introduce you to Daniel Alexander.”

She rose gracefully from her seat then rounded the desk. As she crossed the room, she was the embodiment of elegance and poise. At first glance she appeared calm and strong but Thomas could see beyond the façade she’d carefully constructed. She was as beautiful as ever, yet her movements were sluggish, a fact which likely wouldn’t be visible to the human eye. But Thomas could tell. He knew she was tired, weary even. She might have been an expert at hiding it from everyone else, but she couldn’t conceal it from him. When she stood in front of Daniel, she smiled and extended her hand. Daniel didn’t hesitate in reaching for it. To him, she probably appeared in the very height of her prime. At only eight hundred years old, she should have been. Thomas hadn’t admitted it aloud to anyone, but he was worried about her.

“Pleased to meet you,” Daniel greeted warmly. “Here, these are for you.”

When he handed over the bouquet, the queen’s mouth stretched into an even wider smile. Her eyes twinkled, creasing softly in the corners as she looked from the flowers to Daniel. Thomas suppressed a groan. He knew that look. He’d seen it in her eyes before. She was sizing up Daniel as a potential mate for Thomas.

“The pleasure is all mine,” she said smoothly. “Come sit with me, Daniel. Let’s get to know each other a little, shall we?”

If he’d thought he could have gotten away with it, Thomas would have grabbed Daniel and dragged him away. He didn’t need his mother interfering in his life. When the queen took hold of Daniel’s arm and led him through the room, Thomas decided to cut the meeting short at the first opportunity. He followed them to two brown leather Chesterfields that sat perpendicular to a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookcases. Books filled every shelf and many of the tomes were older than Thomas. The queen placed the bouquet on a tall side table then took a seat on the larger of the two sofas. She motioned for Daniel to sit beside her. Thomas rolled his eyes as he took a seat opposite.

“I haven’t seen you before, Daniel. Are you new in town?” the queen inquired. Her penetrating gaze flicked to Thomas and she smiled mischievously before returning her attention to Daniel. The playful expression was gone so quickly that Thomas wasn’t even certain it had been there at all.

Daniel nodded. “Yes, ma’am. I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but my parents grew up here and I was born here. They passed away a few years ago and I had a mind to see where they were from.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Death is a very sad event, yet it happens to us all, eventually. But please, less of the ma’am. I might be very old, but I don’t want to feel it. There’s no need for formalities. Call me Caterina.”

“Of course,” Daniel replied. “That’s a very pretty name.”

When he saw the faintest tint of a blush on his mother’s cheeks, Thomas’ mouth fell open. He couldn’t believe that Daniel had charmed her so quickly. Although he shouldn’t have been surprised—Daniel had won him over from their first meeting too. His warmth and openness was endearing. It would be enough to captivate anyone. Thomas had felt powerless in the face of all the goodness that shone from within Daniel. He sat back and listened to them make polite conversation, and through it all his mother’s smile became more animated.

The queen regaled Daniel with stories of her youth. Wars in Europe, important people she had known. Daniel listened with overt fascination.

“How long do you plan to stay in this wonderful little town of ours, Daniel?”

Wonderful little town?What the hell?

Because of the Drones, the town was a cesspit in which one took their life in their hands each time they ventured outside. It was time to get Daniel out of there before his mother sank her claws in any deeper. If she spent any more time with Daniel she’d have him moved into the palace. Thomas opened his mouth to interrupt, but he was just as interested in hearing the answer as his mother was.

Daniel glanced at Thomas before replying. “I haven’t decided yet, but I don’t have any family left out east so I’m not in any rush to head home.”

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Well that’s it from me. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my ramblings. If you’d like to find me on any of the social networking sites, you can find the addresses below.

Have a great day, everyone!

Like the sound of Blood Ties? Buy it here.

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LaviniaLewis_BloodTies_BlogTour_SocialMedia_403_FinalAbout Lavinia LewisLavinia discovered reading at an early age and could always be found with her nose in a book. She loved getting lost in a fantasy world even then. When her parents bought her a typewriter for Christmas at aged eleven, her fate was sealed. She spent hours dreaming up characters and creating stories. Not a lot has changed. Now when she is not writing you can find her enjoying a new release e-book.

Lavinia has lived all over the UK but currently resides in London, England. She has travelled extensively to places including Africa, Asia, Australia, America and most of Europe. Although some of her books are set in Texas she has never visited the state but plans to spend time there in the near future.

She is an avid reader and her favourite authors include J L Langley, Carol Lynne, Chris Owen and Andrew Grey. Lavinia particularly loves supernatural fiction and her favourite authors in this genre include Kelly Armstrong, Keri Arthur and Charlaine Harris.

Although Lavinia is a huge fan of the romance genre, she will admit to reading anything and everything. She loves horror, a good thriller and if a book has the capacity to make her cry, well, all the better. One thing she does insist on in a book however, regardless of genre is a happy ending, so you will always find one in the books she writes.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Blood Ties, you can find it on my publisher’s website HERE

For more information about me and my books check out my website HERE

Find me on Facebook HERE

Twitter HERE

And if you’d like to follow my blog you can find it HERE

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Enter Totally Bound’s May blog tour competition for the chance to win an eBook of your choice! Not including boxsets or anthologies.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Giveaways, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price

Interview and Giveaway: Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary Audiobook by Jordan Castillo Price – Narrated by Gomez Pugh

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The Novel Approach welcomes Jordan Castillo Price today to chat a bit about the audiobook release of Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary. If you’ve been waiting for the gorgeous Michael and Wild Bill to be brought to life on audio, the time has come, and Gomez Pugh turns in another sexy knockout performance.

Enjoy Jordan’s interview, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an audio copy of the collection.

Good luck!

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JCP: Hi, Lisa! I was really excited to talk about the Channeling Morpheus audiobooks with you, since you’re such a longtime fan of the series. Thanks for having me on TNA today!!

TNA: It’s my pleasure to have you here with us, Jordan, especially since we’re talking all things Michael and Wild Bill. :) Let’s get things rolling:

Q: There’s obviously got to be a huge level of satisfaction for an author to bring characters to life on the page, but how does that compare to the first moment you actually hear them brought to life in spoken word?

A: It’s a really big deal. I tend to be a lone wolf, so for me it’s both challenging and rewarding to work with narrators or translators. Being willing to collaborate with other artists is really the only way I’m able to expand into new languages, like French and German, or these different formats, like audio.

Initially I was thinking I’d have to settle for a narrator who was just okay, inoffensive, who basically pronounced the words right, didn’t breathe weird, and maybe had occasional good moments. And then I heard Gomez, and I felt the earth move.

Q: Having had so much success with Gomez Pugh’s narration in the PsyCop series, what made you decide he’d be the right narrator for the Channeling Morpheus series as well?

A: I felt it was risky to go with the same voice artist for a new project, actually, because there was the potential that Wild Bill would be talking away and suddenly he’d sound just like Victor Bayne. When you think about it, I do write a lot of snarky middle-aged guys. Though they sound different in my head, authorial voice must color it all and lend them a certain similarity. But I’ve sampled a number of other mainstream projects Gomez has worked on, and I knew he could maintain a plausible, distinct accent or cadence or character for an entire book.

I think one place he shines in Channeling Morpheus is with Michael. I really believe he’s a depressed 21-year-old whenever Michael speaks. I didn’t really KNOW what Michael should sound like, and the communication between us is such that he was able to help me figure it out. I couldn’t see having that level of communication with someone new. This seems to be circling back to my tendency to work alone, doesn’t it?

Q: What did Gomez think about the level of erotica in this series in comparison to the PsyCop series? Did he comment on that at all?

A: No, he didn’t say! But he originally found me when he decided he was going to try his hand at reading erotica for fun, and ended up discovering PsyCop instead and identifying with Vic. I’ve heard about narrators who project embarrassment when they’re reading a sex scene, and one thing I really enjoy about Gomez’s performance is that whenever there’s something steamy on the page, he totally goes for it, just belts it right on out.

Q: What’s the vocal preparation process like? Is there a lot of back and forth between you and Gomez, a lot of describing the characters’ voices as you hear them, then him going through a process of elimination to get it just right?

A: Initially when you work with someone on the Audiobook Creation Exchange, the system funnels all of your correspondence through the site to keep it all professional and relatively anonymous. The author puts up a sample from a story, indicates how much they’re willing to pay, and hopefully some decent narrators will come back with auditions. Some narrators will submit auditions whether or not they’re appropriate for the part. I heard PsyCop read with a variety of accents and ages. It was pretty weird. Once you get an audition you like, you make a formal offer to the producer to work on the book. And generally, once they do they audition, they give you the book in one big chunk. You don’t really have the chance to fine-tune anything once you okay a piece for production.

It’s a little less formal since Gomez and I have been working together since he started narrating PsyCop for me last year. I’ll just email him and start off by saying, “I have a story, here’s what it’s about and here’s how long it is, is this something you’re interested in?” and if so I put a word doc in our shared dropbox and we ballpark a timeframe for production.

For figuring out the voices, I read through the story and decide which important characters I have preconceived ideas about and I write up some descriptions of what makes them tick and how I’d like them to sound. I find key bits of the text that would allow Gomez to play with the voice. We take the spot where other artists would normally upload auditions, and we use that for him to deliver some voice tests to me.

He also reads through and asks me for pronunciation clarifications. We had a pretty lengthy discussion of how badly Vic would botch the pronunciation of ‘gyros’, for instance :D

Our engineer is the third member of our team—he’s responsible for the quality and consistency of the recording and he does an absolutely stellar job. I’ve heard of audios where page-turns or distracting breaths impinge on the listeners’ experience. I’d hate to get a good audition, then start working with someone new and later realize that they’re just winging it in their living room with a USB mic and Garage Band, and in the final cut there was all kinds of crappy background noise or lousy recording levels. (Or excessive breathing or lip smacking!) The surety that my team would give me an utterly professional studio-quality job was another key reason I chose to work with them for another series.

Q: Which scene(s) in this series were you most anxious to hear Gomez narrate, and why?

A: I was eager to hear what he’d do with the Minnesota state park scene in Vertigo, because years ago I actually read that scene to an audience at a local bookstore, and it was tough. So having tried to make it sound halfway decent myself, I had a good appreciation for how much skill and craft Gomez was bringing to the scene.

I think this is where Wild Bill’s voice really works, too, because when he speaks for an extended period of time, when he narrates, I really find myself swept away in his cadence and flow. Hearing Gomez do it, it’s nothing short of hypnotic.

He also brings something really special to all the side characters. He’s not just reading a book, he’s enacting a story. The vampires in this series are absolutely terrifying to me when he voices them. Marushka, dripping with sincerity as she shaves Michael’s groin; Dr. Jim pretentiously explaining vampirism; Miranda’s eerie calm as she pours them a cup of coffee.

And I can’t really talk about Channeling Morpheus without mentioning the sex. The sex scenes are stunning in audio. They all leave me a little weak-kneed, but I was particularly touched by the tenderness in the bathtub scene in Rebirth. It really feels as if they’re their own microcosm.

Q: Now that Michael and Wild Bill are out there for all the world to hear in the first five novellas in the series, when can we expect to have them back for A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion?

A: Because of the production cost, it might be a few months.  This will probably sound like a shameless plug for reviews, but I’m being honest when I say that readers can influence my workflow by leaving positive reviews on Amazon and Audible on my audiobooks. Professional audio is expensive to produce, and good reviews and recommendations directly affect sales. The quicker the audios pay for themselves, the more feasible it becomes for me to step up the schedule.

As for me, I’m super eager to proceed. I cannot wait to hear what it will sound like when Dr. Jim talks them into trapping a feral vampire in the Wisconsin woods in Snare. Or the dog surgery scene from Swarm. Or the underwater scene in Fluid. Heck, I wanna hear it all!

TNA: I do too, lemme tell ya! Thanks again, Jordan, for taking the time to answer my questions.

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channelingmorpheusAUDIO-450Blurb: Michael 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.

Buy Links: Amazon | Audible

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Jordan Castillo PriceAbout the Author: Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” and boys in eyeliner.

Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are made…one client at a time.

Find out more at www.jordancastilloprice.com

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Erotica, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Multimedia Review: The Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary/A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion Box Sets, and Canine by Jordan Castillo Price – Audiobook Narration by Gomez Pugh

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Title: Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary (Books 1-5), A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion (Books 6-10), Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary (Audiobook), and Canine (A Channeling Morpheus Short)

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Narrator: Gomez Pugh

Publisher: JCP Books

Pages/Word Count: 193 Pages (Channeling Morpheus), 272 Pages (Sweet Oblivion), 7 Hours, 44 Minutes (Audio), and 28 Pages (Canine)

At a Glance: Wild Bill and Michael are my addiction and give me book hangover for days. I can’t recommend that hangover highly enough.

Reviewed By: Lisa

box-set-CMFSM200Blurb – Box Set 1-5 – And Audiobook: Michael 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 and audiobook contains the following novelettes: Payback, Vertigo, Manikin, Tainted, Rebirth

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box-sweeto-200Blurb – Box Set 6-10: Staking a vampire isn’t so easy now that Michael’s got a vampire of his very own. Although killing them is no longer an option, he’s as determined as ever to stop the spread of vampirism.

Wild Bill is a lover, not a fighter–so he’s tickled when Michael’s new agenda, to dispense condoms and sterile phlebotomy gear among vampires, replaces the old “heads will roll” approach.

It takes courage to track down vamps in their own territory and deliver a lecture on safe sex, and more importantly, safe bloodletting. Michael’s never been short on audacity…but he’s finding that he and Wild Bill aren’t the only ones with agendas.

Ebook box set contains the following novelettes: Brazen, Snare, Fluid, Swarm, Elixir

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canine-200Blurb – Canine: What’s the difference between a faithful companion and a feral animal? Wild Bill suspects the line separating the two is shaky at best. Supposedly, Michael has been tamed, and he swears he gave up hunting. But when he comes home covered in blood and reeking of adrenaline, Bill fears Michael has crossed paths with another bloodsucker, and the urge to exterminate the vamp was too powerful to resist.

Michael doesn’t need to hunt vampires to stir up trouble. His run-in with threatening neighbors has left him baffled, demoralized, and teetering on the brink of yet another episode of depression. It tears Bill up inside to see Michael suffer—unfortunately, the sorrow also trips his most primal vamp triggers. Before he knows it, his own inner beast rears up, ravenous, insatiable, and ready to tear into the next thing that crosses his path…making him wonder if it was wishful thinking to hope that either of them had been successfully domesticated.

Canine takes place after Elixir and contains series spoilers

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Review: “Michael had his sorrow, and I had my shame. Maybe that’s the reason we harmonized so well.”

If ever there were two sentences that so perfectly encompassed the relationship between Michael and Wild Bill, it would be these, straight out of Canine, the newest short story in the Channeling Morpheus/Sweet Oblivion series.

Reading these novellas is a full-immersion trip on Michael and Wild Bill’s journey to nowhere special, as they trek their way through the Midwest, eventually lighting in Vegas–for now. They meet while hunting the same vampire for their own personal reasons, 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. Attempting to live by as moral a code as possible was Wild Bill’s goal even before he met Michael—trying to do what was right, though sometimes he had no choice but to be the vampire he is. After he met Michael, trying to be the best vampire he could be became Wild Bill’s raison d’etre, just to be the guy who deserves Michael’s love. The emotional underpinning Jordan Castillo Price layers into this series, through Wild Bill’s smirks and ennui, and Michael’s emotional highs and lows, is love laced with despair then woven into need. It’s a stunning complement to her vampire lore, which is original and also borrows just a tad from Stoker’s canon.

I said something in my first review of this series, and it still holds true, reading after reading: “Michael and Wild Bill are two halves of the same whole, in an entirely symbiotic relationship that survives, thrives, and has become a physical and emotional imperative. They are distinct yet entwined by something deeper than love. They’re bonded by blood and a metaphysical link that makes it impossible to think of one without the other. They’re yin/yang and it works perfectly. These stories are erotic in a fully meaningful way because where Michael leaves off, Wild Bill begins; where Wild Bill leaves off, Michael begins. They don’t rely on words as such to each let the other know how he feels; Wild Bill’s not much of a talker, truth be told, so they both speak in actions and body language, and are so attuned to each other they know what the other needs without insincere platitudes and oversimplified endearments. What this does, in effect, is makes the times they do feel the desire to express what’s in their hearts all the more touching, and it works beautifully within the framework of their relationship.

There is a scenario in Canine where this is especially evident. To put a metaphorical point on it, Michael and Wild Bill are each other’s abyss—they look into each other’s eyes and sometimes it’s the abyss that looks back. Wild Bill feeds on Michael’s misery, at least as much as his conscience will allow. Michael’s sorrow and depression (underlined and punctuated by the death of his friend Scary Mary) is Wild Bill’s aphrodisiac, but while Wild Bill could let Michael wallow in the muck of his depression to feed an innate sexual desire, his love for Michael compels him to pull the man back from the ledge before he slips and drowns in his black moods. These two men stare into the depths of each other’s souls, and are each the other’s salvation, time after time, before the literal and figurative monster takes hold. What Wild Bill does for Michael in Canine is such a wholly loving and unselfish gesture that while it might not be considered traditionally romantic—because, let’s face it, it ain’t wine and roses—it is one of the more touching scenes in the series simply because it’s significant to the two of them and highlights just how far Wild Bill will go to be Michael’s redeemer, even though he believes himself to be beyond redemption. They are survivors, these two, and they are each the other’s savior.

Just released on audiobook, the Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary set has come to life under the vocal talents of Gomez Pugh (who also narrates JCP’s PsyCop series), and I have to confess, in as much as is demanded of Pugh in the wide range of characters and voices in the PsyCop books, I was worried how in the name of narration he was going to come up with new and distinct voices for Michael and Wild Bill. Those worries were unfounded, though, because again he proves his range is apparently limitless. Michael’s voice is outstanding, capturing his youth and innocence, his strength and tenacity, and his need and vulnerability in the face of Wild Bill’s natural magnetism.

Wild Bill, on the other hand, is portrayed to perfection in his jaded, world-weary way, with the husky, tobacco-whiskey drawl that alludes to his years of chain smoking and Jack drinking, and complements the lassitude and general tedium that go hand-in-hand with being decades more cynical than his twenty-three-year-old appearance should allow for.

The Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary/Sweet Oblivion series is a fusion of spec fic, red-hot erotica, and a study of the human condition which exists for two men, one of whom isn’t technically human any longer. It’s sexy and original while staying true to the vampire mythos, the allure which makes the undead live on in fiction, century after century. Michael and Wild Bill have become iconic in the M/M lexicon and are at the top of my list of all-time favorite characters, human, non-human, or somewhere in between. Every time I read them I suffer, though—they’re my addiction and give me book hangover for days. I can’t recommend that hangover highly enough.

TNA_Signature_Lisa






You can buy Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary (Set 1-5) here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Smashwords

You can buy Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary in Audio here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

Buy A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion (Set 6-10) here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Buy Canine here:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

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3.5 Stars, Reviewed by Lisa, Samhain Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Z.A. Maxfield

Review: Deep Desire by Z.A. Maxfield

Title: Deep Desire (Deep: Book One)

Author: Z.A. Maxfield

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 196 Pages

At a Glance: Not my favorite of Z.A. Maxfield’s books, but has me looking forward to Book Two in the series.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: There’s no leverage like seduction…until love takes a bite of his plans.

As the Indiana Jones of historical erotica, there is no document existing—or just rumored to exist—Adin Tredeger can’t unearth. Why he would risk the biggest coup of his career to join the mile-high club is beyond him. But the disarming, dark-eyed man who somehow enters Adin’s locked airplane washroom has him completely nude and coming apart. All without a whimper of protest.

From that moment, Adin and Donte Fedelta engage in an international battle of wit and cunning. The prize—a priceless, 500-year-old journal with illustrations so erotic it could make the Marquis de Sade blush.

Yet Donte’s desire for the journal goes far beyond simple possession. The undead nobleman wrote it. And he’s not above using every trick in his otherworldly arsenal—including seduction—to get it back.

Chemistry draws them together even as fortune tugs them apart. But when a third party joins the chase, they must unite to fight an enemy with a deadly goal—to erase Donte from history.

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Review: One of the hallmarks of a good book for me is memorable characters. Considering I read Notturno, which is the original version of Deep Desire, back in 2010, and remembered not only the characters but the plot too, says something for the book. I’ve read a lot of books in the last five years, and let’s be honest, some aren’t always so memorable. So, was Notturno memorable for good or not so good reasons?

My honest answer would be more for the good than the not so good. Is this my favorite Z.A. Maxfield book? Not even close. If you read Notturno, is it worth reading Deep Desire? I have to be honest and say, no, not if you’re expecting a significantly altered story. If you didn’t read Notturno, is Deep Desire a good investment of time? That’s a subjective question, but I can say I made it through its near 200 pages in a day, so that may say something for how it drew me in and kept me on the hook until I’d finished.

One of the things that bothered me the first time I read this novel wasn’t that Dr. Adin Tredeger fell in love with Donte Fedelta with nearly no relationship exposition. It’s easy for the romantic in me to understand how Adin could fall for Donte after reading the vampire’s private journal. How many of us have fallen madly in love with a character after reading a book, after all? But if you don’t enjoy epistolary storytelling, you might put a check in the minus column for Deep Desire because much of the story is told this way. In Donte’s diary, he waxes poetic, and passionately, chronicling a forbidden love affair that began and ended five-hundred years before Adin had unearthed the long-lost text. The love Donte had found centuries ago wasn’t diminished in his memories or soul by the passage of time, but like a Shakespearean tragedy, when Donte’s secret passion for Auselmo was discovered by his shrewish wife, well, to mix centuries, playwrights and poets, “nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” and both men paid a steep price for that fury.

What bothered me in Notturno, and still does in Deep Desire, is the start of the novel and the beginning of Adin and Donte’s association. I feel there’s a leap of logic Adin makes in identifying Donte and then accepting him as a vampire. It’s done with few questions and what seems to be little difficulty. Why is this true, if Adin’s never met a vampire before? It ends up reading like an easy means to bring Adin and Donte together quickly, only to then have Adin backpedal in fits and starts. It’s not until later, once Adin begins to realize the full consequences of having Donte’s journal in his possession, and being awakened to the fact vampires—plural—exist, that his feelings and behavior are more aligned with the supernatural and the danger it represents, specifically for him, as a sudden magnet to every vampire in the city.

Reading my way past what I felt was that hiccup in construction of the storyline, however, I will say Maxfield then leads readers along to the end of this sexy and sensual urban fantasy with some exciting twists and turns. Her immortal undead don’t detour overmuch from the Stoker archetype—they’re top of the food chain, dangerous predators who glamour their human prey when it suits, taunt and torment and abuse them at will—and Donte in particular is a contrast of passion and ennui, as the vampire who swears he’s lost his humanity yet still succumbs, with a great deal of reluctance, to Adin’s charms. Adin bewitches Donte, flipping their predator/prey roles. Add to that the van Helsing-esque overtones peppered into the latter part of the story in Adin’s friends Tuan and Edward, and you’ve got yourself a contemporary vampire tale, with characters who generate a little heat together.

Having already read the sequel to Notturno, I’m looking forward to reading it in its reincarnation. As I recall, I liked Vigil a lot, more than Notturno, and I’m looking forward to seeing if my memory serves me well.






You can buy Deep Desire here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Jordan Castillo Price

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Channeling Morpheus Box Set by Jordan Castillo Price

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The Novel Approach welcomes Jordan Castillo Price today to talk a bit about the Channeling Morpheus series. If you haven’t met Michael and Wild Bill yet, all I have to say is, trust me, you have to meet Michael and Wild Bill. ::nom::

Enjoy a little taste of vampires the JCP way, then be sure to enter the giveaway she’s offering just for you. Details are below.

Good luck!

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Hi, Lisa! I was so thrilled to hear you were a fan of the Channeling Morpheus series back in the early days of M/M. This series always felt like a well-kept secret to me, so I’m putting together some box sets, audio and some new material in hopes of introducing the series to the many newer M/M readers out there.

I’ve been enamored with vampires ever since I was a little kid. Seriously, my love for vampires goes all the way back to The Count from Sesame Street and Count Chocula cereal. Universal Monsters were a big deal in the 70’s, and most Sunday afternoons you could catch an old Dracula, Wolfman or Mummy film on TV. Then as a teenager I read Interview with the Vampire, and I was hooked for life.

What components of the vampire lore are important, though, and what can be discarded? In other words, what makes a vampire a vampire?

Early vampires in literature and silent film were stinky, gross, animated corpses. Yet even after the vampire was romanticized, he still shared certain characteristics with the undead creature at his roots.

I’ve picked and chosen which typical vamp rules are in effect for Channeling Morpheus, and which merely unfounded rumor. One of the key vampire advantages I’ve opted to leave intact was the hypnotic vampire gaze.

In the series’ first scene, vampire hunter Michael finally meets a vampire he’s been stalking online, and in person, the vamp is a whole lot scarier than Michael bargained for.

The black-haired guy stared at me, looked into my eyes. He was handsome, of course, with startling golden-green eyes and cheekbones to die for. His hair was more done up than my just-below-the-chin-length bob, long in front and spiked in back. Vamps are always slick, always handsome. And he didn’t seem too concerned about what was tacky, or what was obvious, or what was awkward. I felt a queasy flutter as he did his thing—just looking and looking and looking—like my spine was reacting to him, sending weird signals to random spots in my nervous system.

Holy crap, after all this time I find him…and me with absolutely nothing interesting to say. I wet my suddenly-dry lips and forced my shoulders to relax, my spine to sag. A half smile that I’d practiced for hours found its way onto my face, a mask of sultry indifference.

His eyes found mine again. I hadn’t realized they’d ever looked away. But then I figured out why—he’d been watching me wet my lips. “I’m Michael,” I said. And I made a mental note to practice small talk. Something. Anything. The library probably had a great wealth of information about that, just like everything else you could find there, if you were patient enough to sift through a billion other words.

“Gray,” he said. “A pleasure.”

His mouth molded the word pleasure like it was something dirty.

Of course, every blessing can be seen as a curse if you try hard enough. Wild Bill claims to hate the ability to charm people. How can you tell how someone really feels about you, the real you inside, when the fact of your vampirism will override all their true feelings?

“Whatever you said still wouldn’t count as an actual agreement. I’d always vamp you, just by looking at you. I’d never know if you were into me for real.”

As much as he gives lip service to the unfairness of it all, though, Bill is happy to create his own kind of currency and use his hypnotic vampire gaze in lieu of money.

I turned around and looked for Bill. He was way across the lot in the gas station. I watched him through the plate glass window. He pointed at the cigarettes, and then the candy bars, and the clerk stacked them on the counter. Bill pointed at something else, and the attendant shook his head. Bill leaned in close. He looked pretty motivated. The guy behind the counter gave an “oh well” kind of shrug, unlocked a cabinet and handed him a small bottle from it. Bill walked out without paying.

It’s interesting to think about what could be achieved with the application of a little vampire charm. Once in a while I have one of those days when someone at the grocery checkout looks me in the eye, then swoops in front of me with a big, full cart of stuff. And it would feel good to quell those minor annoyances with a mere “don’t mess with me” look. But as for more serious stuff? I dunno, I guess working the eyeball mojo would take some getting used to for me. I’m more of a “don’t sweat the small stuff” person at heart!

What about you? If you could vamp someone’s head, would you do it? In what circumstances?

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

To qualify in the drawing, comments must be time/date stamped by Midnight Pacific time on Sunday, March 29, 2015. One winner will be selected at random on Monday, the 30th, and notified by email for prize delivery.

Good luck!

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CMFSM-box-400Title: Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary Ebook Box Set
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Length: 72,000 words
ISBN: 978-1-935540- 74-8
Publisher: JCP Books
Cover Artist: Jordan Castillo Price
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Smashwords | Scribd

Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary Blurb: Michael 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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Teaser: I slid my tongue over his and caught it on his fang, and the taste of my blood mixed with the taste of Bill’s mouth. He made a small sound that could have been pleasure or pain.

He flicked his half-smoked cigarette out the window with stunning accuracy. His fingertips brushed my face, gentle touches I could hardly feel. I slipped my arms around him and pulled him closer. I was tough. He didn’t have to worry about breaking me.

He pressed his body against mine, and he kissed me. He threaded his fingers through my wet hair and explored my coppery mouth. My tongue bled.

We both gasped for air when he finally broke the kiss.

“Just a little taste,” he said. “That’s what I keep telling myself. I can stop any time.” He pressed his forehead into mine and breathed carefully. “Any time.”

“Drink,” I said. “I can spare it. She didn’t take much.”

He smiled, I think. He was hard to read in the near-dark, and so close. “I’m not talking about blood.”

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Jordan Castillo PriceAuthor Bio: Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal sci-fi thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to rural small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” and boys in eyeliner.

Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are made…one client at a time.

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Totally Bound

Submission Call from Totally Bound: Vampire Cowboys

Totally Bound

Attention authors and aspiring authors, Totally Bound are currently accepting submissions for the following:

MM Vampire CowboyMM Vampire Cowboys

Mysterious men are lurking out there ready for their story to be told. These heroes are cowboys with a dark, underlying existence—vampire blood runs through their veins. Be inspired by our submission image and see what dangerous and exciting things happen when you make the world of cowboys and vampires collide. Preferably 30,000 plus words in a series of 6 please, but contact us with any ideas you think would be suitable. Please send a synopsis in the first instance to submissions@totallybound.com

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3 Stars, Edward Kendrick, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Rena, Wilde City Press

Review: L’histoire de François: Vampire by Edward Kendrick

Title: L’histoire de François: Vampire (Mortal Angst #1)

Author: Edward Kendrick

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 64 Pages

At a Glance: A good deal of missed opportunity

Blurb: Since his turning in 1022 young spy, François, has hated all humans. And yet, in 1347, he falls in love with one, only to be betrayed by Giles who tells his liege lord that François is a vampire. The lord blackmails François into spying for him. Years later, François gains his revenge on Giles through his son.

In 1876 New Orleans, François joins forces with Vasile, a master of the city, to take on human vampire hunters. Then Vasile’s human lover dies and Vasile turns to François for comfort. Will love ensue, or is François destined to always be alone?

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Review: L’histoire de Francois… is a paranormal historical novella that’s quite sweeping in its scope, as far as time period goes. It’s also the first volume of what looks to be a novella series centering on Francois, a young Frenchman who’s turned into a vampire and subsequently becomes a pawn for humans in times of war or bitter political rivalry. It’s a clever use of vampirism, really, seeing as how vampires are immortals and can withstand torture should they be caught spying. Francois – whose last name’s never revealed, but he comes from aristocratic stock – has a pretty rich history, which includes his turning, but we’re really not given much to savor.

The first half of the book focuses on Francois’s past, and the second half skips forward a few centuries and moves the action from France to New Orleans. Because of the novella’s length (about 20K words), so much history covered in such a short book means a lot of summaries and details left out. And that’s too bad because Francois’s history is incredibly rich and fascinating, and that doesn’t include his turning. He’s a seasoned spy at twenty-three, he comes from a line of nobles, and he’s got a bit of a rivalry going on with his older brother, Lothaire, who becomes peripherally instrumental in Francois’s fate. Since his family knows nothing about his secret life, the resulting tension or even perhaps ambivalence in Francois could’ve been explored.

As it happens, though, only his time with Giles is given some attention, and even then, it still has a rushed quality to it. The result of this for me was a lack of emotional connection with Francois. I felt no sympathy for him, even during those moments spent with Giles, and everything seemed so ephemeral and barely fleshed out that I didn’t care much about him by the end of the book. There’s a good deal of missed opportunity, and I wished the book just focused on the events of the first half, expanding Francois’s past and his experiences with Giles and the aftermath of Giles’ betrayal. If anything, the only real sense of emotion I got from the book was how much Francois hated humans, and that’s only because we’re always reminded of that fact, not necessarily shown or allowed to explore those experiences that ultimately led him to that much loathing.

The setting’s also not fully established or described in enough detail as to firmly plant the reader in both time and place. Besides the more generalized references to cities, we don’t really get to “see” Francois’s world, regardless of time period. And that just added to the diminishment of any emotional connection I might’ve enjoyed with the hero.

As this is the first book in a series, however, it probably serves a more general purpose of establishing Francois’s past, and the rest of the novellas following it might offer us something meatier to sink our teeth into – no pun intended.






You can buy L’histoire de François: Vampire (Mortal Angst #1) here:

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4 Stars, Anthology, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lana, Storm Moon Press

Review: Blood Embrace – An Anthology

Title: Blood Embrace

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Storm Moon Press

Pages/Word Count: 133 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Vampires have become the ultimate erotic figure in paranormal literature, but the creatures in “Blood Embrace” are more than just pretty immortals who suck the blood from their victims or companions. This anthology showcases M/M short stories that have unique ideas in the vampire genre, taking them beyond their traditional settings and extravagance. No angst-ridden “sparklepires” or caped Transylvanians who “never drink… wine” here! These tales show off the new and wonderful things that can be done with this tried and true erotic theme. Continue reading

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3.5 Stars, Emily Carrington, Loose Id, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Taz

Review: Hunter’s Claim by Emily Carrington

Title: Hunter’s Claim (A Pack of His Own: Book One)

Author: Emily Carrington

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 247

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb: Luis Delgado, psychic vampire, is in lust with a half werewolf who thinks Luis is a monster. Luis can deal with lust. That’s one of the fun parts of being a psychic vampire. What he can’t handle is falling in love with the half wolf who wants nothing to do with him. Continue reading

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3 Stars, A.L. Wilson, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Rena, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Isle of Illusions by A.L. Wilson

Title: Isle of Illusions

Author: A.L. Wilson

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 30000 Words

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: The year is 1954 and this marks 10 rocky years that Cyrus has spent with his human companion, Dr. Lorenz Meissner. The two unlikely lovers, after some heated debate, decide to cross the Mediterranean and go on holiday in Italy. Continue reading

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