Captivated by SELFIE–A Review

Hi there! Today I want to share a bit of the review I wrote for Joyfully Jay of a new contemporary M/M romance by Amy Lane. SELFIE is one of the Bluewater Bay books and, like THE DEEP OF THE SOUND, it packs an emotional punch that knocked me over.

Selfie (Bluewater Bay, #13)About the book:
One year ago, actor Connor Montgomery lost the love of his life to a drunk driver. But what’s worse for Connor is what he still has: a lifetime of secrets born of hiding his relationship from the glare of Hollywood. Unable to let go of the world he and Vinnie shared, Connor films a drunken YouTube confession on the anniversary of Vinnie’s death.

Thankfully, the video was silent—a familiar state for Connor—so his secret is still safe. He needs a fresh start, and a new role on the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing might be just that.

The move to Bluewater Bay may also mean a second chance in the form of his studio-assigned assistant. Noah Dakers sees through Connor’s facades more quickly than Connor could imagine. Noah’s quiet strength and sarcastic companionship offers Connor a chance at love that Hollywood’s closet has never allowed. But to accept it, Connor must let Vinnie go and learn to live again.

My Review:
Some highlights from my review, which can be read in it’s entirety on Joyfully Jay Reviews….

This is the 13th book set in the Bluewater Bay world, and they are designed to be enjoyed as standalones. I’ve read ten or so, and while some characters come in and out of many books, each one relates a new love story. Selfie is about a popular movie star’s steep drop into the abyss of grief-ravaged depression, and the hard slog into emotional well-being and second love.

This is what I have learned: Amy Lane doesn’t write books, she writes literary heroin. I must plan an early start when I get her books because I cannot close the book and go on about my day/night without knowing how her characters survive their story. My hubs will attest, I’m a bit of a snappish basket-case while I devour the ups and downs and dangerous plummets into overwhelming feels, despite knowing an HEA will arrive, but only after I’ve survived the terror and exhilaration of riding the roller coaster forward, backward, and unbelted.

Without Noah’s presence, Connor would easily drift into the mental wilderness he inhabited in the year of grief, a year of physical and temporal wasting. Connor still speaks to Vinnie in his head, making choices that he thinks will benefit Vinnie. This preoccupation is disastrous, and leads to several crises, but Noah is able to pull Connor back from the brink each time, thankfully. Their courtship isn’t sensual; it’s liberating and affirming. It gives Connor hope, and replaces the emptiness of his previous relationship.

It’s an HEA, but wow! It takes some real serious work to get there, for Noah and Connor. They are great guys who deserve happiness, and I was sur glad they got it.

Interested? You can find SELFIE on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

About the Author:

Amy Lane dodges an EDJ, mothers four children, and writes the occasional book. She, her brood, and her beloved mate, Mack, live in a crumbling mortgage in Citrus Heights, California, which is riddled with spiders, cats, and more than its share of fancy and weirdness.

Feel free to visit her website, blog, or on twitter and Facebook where she will ride the buzz of receiving your e-mail until her head swells and she can no longer leave the house.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Building Passion in FEATHER FALL–Excerpt and Giveaway!

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Hi there! Today I’m sharing an awesome scene and interview for a new M/M fantasy menage romance from Evelyn Elliott. FEATHER FALL is the second book in the Spell Slave series, and surely looks to up the stakes for Regis, Jonathan and Crow. I know my interest is piqued. It’s the sequel to BAD MAGIC and must be read in order. AllRomance lists this book as five (out of five) chili peppers for hotness.

FeatherFallFSAbout the book:
Hero and criminal. Brute force and subtle charm. Jonathan White and Crow Belcane are polar opposites, but if they want to rescue the man they both love, they’ll have to work together.

After visiting his former lover, Crow knows only one thing: he loves Regis and he will do anything to reclaim him. But before his very eyes, Regis is abducted. Kidnapped by high-end slavers. Only Regis’s infuriating partner, Jonathan—a dangerous vigilante—is willing to help.

To infiltrate the slave ring, Jonathan and Crow disguise themselves as master and pet. As a slave, Crow is pushed to his limit. He’s chained, branded, whipped, and forced to obey Jonathan’s every order. But the longer he spends at Jonathan’s feet, the more natural his disguise begins to feel—and the more he likes it. As much as he hates Jonathan, they make a good team.

Both of them are devoted to Regis. Despite the overwhelming attraction between them, Jonathan is unwilling to betray his partner, and Crow is unwilling to come between them. But once the three of them are together again, all bets are off.

Where it seems all bets are off…

Crow followed Jonathan to the lodging house. Jonathan looked like he was going to explode with rage the entire walk home. Crow prayed they didn’t come across anyone looking for a fight.

When they strode in, the woman at the counter scowled. “Your boy’s only been gone two days,” she said to Jonathan. “Already bringing whores home?”

Jonathan waved her away. “He’s a friend, Marta.”

“Friend,” she muttered. “Yeah, all right.” She sniffed. “Long as you send him on his way when you’re done with him. Don’t want him harassing my patrons.” She bustled down the hall. Crow stared after her in shock.

“She thought you were a prostitute,” Jonathan said helpfully. He opened the door, then locked it behind Crow. Immediately, he went to the back door and swept it open. He went into the garden and hugged Chartreuse around her neck. His grip was white, and his entire body was rigid. “Fucking slavers,” he muttered. “Fucking disgusting.”

Crow leaned against the doorway, arms folded. “Why did the innkeeper think I was a prostitute? Do you often pick up whores?”

Jonathan rolled his eyes at the joke. But he relaxed a little, and he went back inside with Crow. He shut the door. His fingers rested on the knob. “So,” he said.

“So,” Crow said.

Jonathan looked away, hands clenched. “I need a favor.”

“A favor?”

“Will you teach me how to—” Jonathan grimaced. “How to be charming.”

“What?”

“Charming,” Jonathan said, like his teeth were being pulled. “It’s just this—this thing you do. I mean, let’s be honest with each other for a moment. You’re a terrible person, and yet every single person that meets you instantly likes you. How do you do that? Show me. I need to improve my acting skills.”

Crow didn’t want to teach Jonathan anything. But they were in this mess together, and if Jonathan slipped up and ruined his disguise, then they would both be in terrible danger. Crow saw on the bed. “Fine. Come here.”

Jonathan circled the bed like a wary animal. He sat far away from Crow.

“First lesson,” Crow said. “Body language.”

“What? Why does that matter?”

“You need to relax. If you look nervous, everyone else will become nervous, too.”

“I don’t feel relaxed,” Jonathan groaned.

“You don’t have to feel relaxed. You have to look relaxed.” Crow leaned against the headboard and splayed his legs. “See? Like this.”

“I can’t fake it the way you can.” Jonathan popped his fingers, then cracked his neck. He stretched his legs out, then touched his toes. Finally, he rolled his shoulders and let out a breath. He did seem a little less tense now.

“Good,” Crow said. “Now. Lesson two. Just be nice. Observe people. Give them compliments. Listen to what they say. It’s easy.”

“Really?”

“Of course. I mean, that’s how I seduced you the night I met you.”

And the room became weirdly silent.

The night they’d met. Right. The night Crow had waltzed in, spent a few minutes talking to Jonathan, and then stripped his pants off. Crow winced. It was probably a raw wound for Jonathan, considering the fact Crow had—at the time—been part of a plot to kill him. He shifted to the middle of the bed. He crossed his legs. “Look at me.”

“What?”

“I want to teach you about sexual tension. It’s important. We need to investigate the House of Red Silk, but if we stall too long, Madam Karis might realize we’re up to no good. You must keep her attention. If she becomes impatient, pretend to be interested in a slave.”

“Interested? How do I do that?”

“Like this.” Crow leaned in. He lowered his eyelashes and tilted his head a little. His gaze slowly went from Jonathan’s hands, to his chest, then—ever so slowly—he met Jonathan’s eyes and held them. The air between them felt thin as paper, as though if he moved one inch closer, the barrier between them would tear.

Jonathan jerked back.

His face was unreadable, but his eyes were wide, pupils blown. Crow put his hand on Jonathan’s arm, and Jonathan jerked. “Tension is a sense of anticipation,” Crow said. “Stretch out that moment. Make it clear you want him.”

Jonathan skirted away to the edge of the bed. “Oh, come on,” Crow said. “If you can’t do it with me, how are you going to do it with a stranger?”

“I keep thinking about that time you threatened to skin me,” Jonathan snapped.

“That happened once.”

The light outside had faded. Twilight lit the garden. Crow felt exhausted from his façade. He got up to draw the curtains.

“No, wait,” Jonathan said. “I….”

Crow glanced back.

Jonathan had a painfully awkward look on his face. He blew out his breath. “Sorry. You’re right.” He got up. He rubbed his face. When his hand moved away, his expression was cool again. He scanned Crow’s face, then—hesitantly—touched Crow’s jaw, then his collarbone. He crowded Crow against the wall. Their chests didn’t touch, not quite.

Heat flickered through Crow’s body, and he was aware, powerfully aware, of how long it had been since he’d trusted someone to touch him. He shuddered.

Then Jonathan pulled away. “Like that?”

“Yeah,” Crow said. “Like that.”

Jonathan shut up and went to bed. He lay fully clothed on the mattress, alone by himself. Crow swept up a pile of blankets and dumped them on the floor by the wall. He burrowed into his little nest and closed his eyes. He didn’t sleep. Where was Regis? Locked in a cage somewhere? Sold?

Man! This sounds like such a great series!

Here’s a little insight on reading and writing from Ms. Elliott…
Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, or something else?

I’d say a combination. Beautiful covers always catch my eye… I know it’s a weakness, but I love a nice cover. But the blurb is always the reason I actually buy. An author has to be able to keep my attention, of course! 🙂

What does ‘romance’ mean to you?

To me, romance means two characters falling in love and staying together. Truthfully… I’m okay with it if characters die. But they better not break up, damn it.
As long as two people love each other, that’s romance. It doesn’t matter what gender the characters are or how they get together. Only their feelings.

What are your current projects?

I have so many at a time! But these are my main ones:
How to Be a Sacrificial Virgin: The love story of Cernunnos, Horned God of the Wilderness, and Alan, a virgin stoner from Minnesota who was sacrificed to him by mistake. Funny, quick, and light-hearted.

Thirteen Last Breaths: In the North, homosexuality is punishable by death. Jonathan—the prince of a small city-state—is in love with another man. A single mistake and someone will catch them. This one is my favorite, though I suspect it might be controversial.

Pistol x Shotgun: After the end of the world, a starving vampire hunts down one of the last living humans. He needs blood to stay sane… but he picked the wrong man to kidnap. Dane—a hardened gunslinger—is vows to escape and kill the man holding him captive. Tight action and deliciously hot sex. My beta readers have called it sexy, thrilling, and horrifying.

What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

All of it. Writing down those first few initial words is like having my mind raked and dissected with hot steel blades. Editing is like cutting off bits of my own skin. The publishing process…
Actually, the publishing process is okay.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.

I once wrote a sex scene so hot that it made a reader orgasm by picking up the book. (I mean—it’s not true, but it certainly surprises people.)

Ha! What a great sense of humor.

Interested? You can find FEATHER FALL on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press (ebook or paperback), Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a signed copy of FEATHER FALL for yourself!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
At first glance, Evelyn Elliott seems like a perfectly normal person. Do not be deceived. Her hobbies include watching grisly horror movies, torturing her characters, and tending to her flower garden. She enjoys long walks on the beach and collecting the souls of small children. Whenever she reads a book, she always roots for the villain.

Avoid her at all costs. Certainly do not find her on Facebook or befriend her Goodreads. You have better things to do.

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Redefining A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION–A Review

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a fantastic historical M/M romance from KJ Charles. You’ll remember that I’ve loved THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL and THINK OF ENGLAND. A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION is the third book in a series, and I’m now determined to go get the others, as I adore this world and the gentlemen who inhabit it.

A Gentleman's Position (Society of Gentlemen, #3)About the book:

Power, privilege, and the rigid rules of class leave two hearts yearning for connection in the sizzling new Society of Gentlemen novel from K. J. Charles.
 
Among his eccentric though strictly principled group of friends, Lord Richard Vane is the confidant on whom everyone depends for advice, moral rectitude, and discreet assistance. Yet when Richard has a problem, he turns to his valet, a fixer of unparalleled genius—and the object of Richard’s deepest desires. If there is one rule a gentleman must follow, it is never to dally with servants. But when David is close enough to touch, the rules of class collide with the basest sort of animal instinct: overpowering lust.

For David Cyprian, burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking—anything for the man he’s devoted to. But the one thing he wants for himself is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. With the tension between them growing to be unbearable, David’s seemingly incorruptible master has left him no choice. Putting his finely honed skills of seduction and manipulation to good use, he will convince Richard to forget all about his well-meaning objections and give in to sweet, sinful temptation.

My Review:

This is the third book in a series, but can be enjoyed as a standalone. Honestly, though, I’m only more eager to read the preceding books, now.

5 Stars for this historical M/M romance set in 1820s London.

Lord Richard Vane is the go-to man of his collection of wealthy friends of a certain (homosexual) persuasion. And, his personal valet, David Cyprian, is Richard’s go-to man, the one who will soil his hands with the sundry business of keeping “proper” gentlemen from social and legal peril. David is more than a valet, he is Richard’s closest confidant and the man to whom he is attracted beyond bearing, and one man that Richard will never pursue because doing so is 1.) beneath his station 2.) too wrought with the power-imbalance. A man should never dally with his housestaff. Not a good man, anyway, and Richard is nothing if not the perfect gentleman.

David has lost his heart to Richard over his nearly five years of service. There is nothing David will not do for Richard, and he takes great pride in caring for all of his intimate details, attiring Richard in such a way as to make him the envy of all his peers, and David a sought-after valet. Not that David is willing to leave Richard’s service, well, not until that fateful kiss, that danged incendiary moment that David cannot forget and that Richard refuses to address.

The ensuing quarrel puts Richard in a place he has been before, on the outs with the man he held dearest, for the simple problem of not knowing how to deal with his love’s needs. Because, yes, Richard unequivocally loves David, and wants him back. He tries to arrange things so that he can keep David close, though not directly his servant, and this is unsuitable, as well. It seems all is lost, to Richard anyway, when his mates come calling. There is a predicament–likely stemming from the plots of previous books–that could cause the death of two of his friends’ partners, and a great deal of embarrassment for not only Richard’s friends, but also himself. There are few ways to handle this situation, and none of them suited to the gentry. No, a go-to man must be employed, and David is the best of them. If only Richard’s obtuseness hadn’t sent him packing.

This is a fascinating book. As I mentioned I had not read the earlier stories in the series, a deficiency I plan to rectify. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, with two men from such different worlds falling for one another, and how rigidly they kept their roles, when their deepest desires could have been quenched by some proper tumbling. (Or, improper tumbling, which I will reveal DOES happen and is delicious!!) The problems of the Ricardians (Richard’s set of friends) are all very dire, and David takes the weight of them on his narrow but sturdy shoulders. The villain of this piece is a man that is generally detestable, power-mad and brutal, and his comeuppance is well-planned and brilliantly executed by a man who is not simply a servant, but a red-headed bastard to boot. It was a fantastic coup and one more reason Richard loves him with his whole gigantic heart.

The book ends with the assurance of love and partnership, inasmuch as it can be managed by a gentleman and his go-to man in such times. I adored it, and hope they pass many years in private togetherness.

Interested? You can find A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.

Find her on twitter, Facebook, join her Facebook group, or contact her here. She is represented by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency, and published by Samhain and Loveswept.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

STRIP SEARCH–Exclusive Excerpt, Review and Treasure Hunt Giveaway!

BannerTemplate-11Hi there! I’m so excited to share a new release from Morticia Knight’s Sin City Uniforms contemporary M/M romance series. I really enjoyed HELD HOSTAGE, NEGOTIATING LOVE and SEARCHING FOR SHELTER, so I jumped at the chance to read and review STRIP SEARCH.

Check out the exclusive excerpt, my review and follow the blog tour clues so you can get in on the signed paperback and book swag giveaway below.

stripsearch_800About the book:
Stripping used to be fun, lucrative and a place for Dakota to practice for his professional dancing career. But the owner of Glitter Boys wants Dakota for himself and will stop at nothing to possess him. When his thirteen year-old brother runs away from home to escape their abusive father, Dakota is determined to find him before something awful happens to him on the streets.

Patrol officer Reed hasn’t been attracted to a man in a very long time, but when he’s called to an assault in progress at the LGBTQ teen shelter, a young man approaches him, begging for help in finding his missing brother. An instant spark occurs, but he pushes it away. When the same man is attacked outside a strip club later that night, he discovers the desire is mutual.

As the two men learn more about each other and become closer, the spectre of his obsessed ex-boss remains. In addition to that, Dakota has to fight the system to gain guardianship of his brother and keep him out of foster care. Dakota doesn’t know if the hunky cop he’s fallen so hard for can handle a relationship with an ex-stripper struggling with raising a teenager. But, will Reed be able to give up dating women for good and dedicate himself to their new family?

And now for that EXCLUSIVE excerpt!

Backstage at the Glitter Boys strip club:

“What about you, Kota?”

Dakota jerked his head up at Rocky standing in the doorway with Noah. “What about me?”

“Yuri said you’d be there tomorrow.”

Rage coursed through Dakota. That fucking snake. He took a deep breath through his nostrils. He didn’t want his anger to be misconstrued by his friends as being a judgment against them.

“Oh, uh, I wasn’t planning on it. You must’ve misunderstood him.”

“No misunderstanding.”

Yuri appeared between them, his friends quickly stepping aside, their surprised expressions making it clear they hadn’t realized Yuri was standing there either. Yuri didn’t take his eyes off Dakota.

Rocky rubbed his hand across the top of his head. “So, uh, yeah. Tom’s waiting for me outside, so I should bounce. See ya to… Uh, see ya later.”

As Rocky shuffled out of the door, Noah moved back into the room. “Hurry up, Dakota. We don’t want to be late. Everyone’s waiting back at the apartment.” Noah widened his eyes, silently begging him to pick up on the ruse.

“Sorry, Noah. Almost done.” He glanced at Yuri, working with all his might to keep his expression implacable. “It totally slipped my mind, Yuri. Maybe we can talk in a couple days, after my next shift?”

“Out.”

Dakota blinked a few times, trying to grasp what Yuri meant and who he was directing it at.

“Out.”

The second time had been laced with anger and clearly meant for Noah.

“Cool. Yeah.” Noah shuffled nervously on his feet. “So I’ll just be waiting –“

“Out! Out of the room, out of my club, out!”

Noah’s reaction was instantaneous. He bolted from the dressing area before Dakota had been able to utter a word. Dakota clutched his dance bag in front of him on his lap. The false sense of security it hinted at was all he had in the face of Yuri’s ire.

Yuri advanced closer, looming over him. His features softened as he gazed down, his expression as he seemingly drank in Dakota’s form one of intense lust. Yuri licked his lips, then skated his palm across the growing bulge in his pants.

He wouldn’t…take me against my will? Would he?

Dakota’s breathing accelerated as he calculated what his chances of success would be if he were to push the formidable Yuri out of the way then make a run for it. Probably not so great.

“Oh, my little bublik. Why you fight me like this?”

“I…” Dakota cleared his throat. “I don’t know what you mean, Yuri. You know my situation. I want to be a dancer in one of the aerial shows, be a star there. That’s my dream.”

He wasn’t sure if he’d been stupid or smart to share what he hoped for when he’d first met Yuri. Back when Yuri had pretended to be warm and welcoming to him. It had come to the point where Yuri could either be made to understand that it was nothing personal that Dakota didn’t want to be in his films, or instead be something Yuri could somehow use against him.

“I’ll make you a star. Everyone will want you. You can have money, clothes, jewelry, cars, anything you want. I buy you beautiful estate for us to live in together.” Yuri stroked Dakota’s cheek as he tried not to cringe. “You’ll be mine.”

Dakota drew his eyebrows together. Wait. What? The last he’d heard, Yuri wanted him for his porn flicks. He must’ve missed the part where he’d be Yuri’s little pampered bitch.

“That’s an amazing offer, very generous. But…” How to word this? “I don’t really know you. We’ve never even dated or anything.” Wait. Could’ve been a wrong move.

“Oh, I see.” Yuri laughed, looking almost pleased. “Baby wants sample first.” He tapped his own temple. “Smart boy.”

Dakota panicked. “I… No. What I meant, uh, well, I didn’t mean that. No sample.”

Yuri’s features clouded over. “What you mean ‘no sample’? I’m not good enough for you?”

Oh Jesus. “I’m sure you’re great. Really, really great. But I don’t want to be in a relationship with anyone right now, no matter how wonderful they are. I just want to dance. That’s all I meant.” He swallowed hard, praying that his words would placate the beast.

“Maybe you let me show you what real man can give you and dancing will mean nothing.” Yuri caressed his face again. “Except when dancing for me.”

Fuck. I gotta quit this place. There’s no way I can come back here.

My Review:

Dakota Crane is a 23 y/o trained dancer who is working at a Vegas strip club to save money for aerial dance classes, all to attain his dream of professional aerial performing in the big shows. Dakota is a relatively quiet, out gay man sharing an apartment with a fellow stripper and eschewing club life to save every penny. He hates giving lap dances and sees his current job as a means to an end–one that’s becoming difficult as his boss Yuri pressures him (unsuccessfully for the moment) to do porn and unwelcome sexual favors. His family accepts his sexuality, but the connection there has been crumbling due to his father’s recent gambling addiction and violent temper.

Dakota’s overwrought by the disappearance of his thirteen year old brother, Donovan, frequent target of his father’s rage. While searching for him Dakota meets patrol officer Reed Armstrong who is totally banging–and Reed finds Dakota instantly appealing, as well. They don’t make a strong connection, but a spark exists.

Knowing the situation with Yuri is untenable, Dakota flees his apartment and finds a new job–but his stalker finds him. Reed is called to the scene of a disturbance: Dakota being nearly kidnapped by Yuri. This time, Reed and Dakota can’t deny their attraction. As Dakota can’t go back to his own apartment, he agrees to meet Reed for dinner after his shift ends. Their conversation stretches into the wee hours and ends with Reed chaperoning Dakota to empty his place. Oh, and sexytimes.

Over the course of a few days they become close, and Reed helps Dakota track down Donovan. As time winds on Dakota’s life becomes a wrangle, balancing his nascent love, keeping Donovan safe, and staying out of Yuri’s grasp. I liked how this all developed. There was time for the romance to build, for real life to intrude, and for the specter of Yuri to raise the tension. For Reed and Dakota, the sexytimes are incendiary. Reed’s bisexual, yet had very little experience with men. He was married–and faithful–for years and has a teenaged daughter for whom he shares custody. With Dakota’s lust turned loose Reed gets a crash-course in all things gay sex as their intimacy deepens.

Expect Yuri to make things bad–for a few very tense moments, and for Dakota and Reed to make things good–for a lifetime. It’s a sweet read with a fun and yummy couple. Little bit of instalove, but I was still on board.

Interested? You can find STRIP SEARCH on Goodreads, Pride Publishing, Amazon, and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

Morticia has a special contest for you! The exclusive excerpt for Strip Search that I shared today may or may not have really happened to Morticia. Follow the tour to read the other excerpts. If you believe you know the correct one then come back and enter your answer in the Rafflecopter giveaway link. Of the correct entries, one winner will be chosen to receive an autographed copy of Strip Search and bag filled with book swag!

Here are the tour dates and links, so you can keep up!
19-Apr: The Novel Approach
20-Apr: V’s Reads
21-Apr: Carly’s Book Reviews
22-Apr: Love Bytes
25-Apr: MM Good Book Reviews
26-Apr: Molly Lolly
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Morticia KnightAbout the Author:

Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little heart’s desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share – her adventures as a published author began in 2011.

Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the northern Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.

You can find Morticia online on her website, Goodreads, Totally Bound, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook.

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Baby Steps–THE HEART AS HE HEARS IT-Review & Giveaway!

BannerTemplate-10Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from A. M. Arthur. THE HEART AS HE HEARS IT is the third book in her Perspectives series, but can be fully enjoyed on it’s own. Like THE WORLD AS HE SEES IT, and THE TRUTH AS HE KNOWS IT, this book features a small-time gay porn actor finding a new life and a true love, as a sub-plot.

Catch the excerpt and enter to win a backlist book from AM Arthur in the giveaway below.

HeartAsHeHearsIt-The300About the book:
While most of his friends have moved on to “real” careers, Jon Buchanan is content skating through life as a part-time waiter and gay porn star. Firmly single thanks to a previous relationship disaster, he focuses his spare time on Henry, a dear friend dying of cancer.

And with Henry’s happiness paramount, Jon is on a mission to help Henry meet his recently discovered grandson.

Isaac Gregory hasn’t set foot outside for the past year. He has everything he needs delivered, and his remaining family knows better than to visit. When a complete stranger shows up claiming to be his grandfather—with a distractingly handsome younger man in tow—his carefully structured routines are shaken.

Despite his instant attraction, Jon senses Isaac is too fragile for a relationship. Yet tentative friendship grows into genuine companionship. And when Henry’s health begins to fail, they realize Fate brought them together for a reason.

How about a little taste?

Jon studied him, his gaze taking in…something. “May I ask you something?”
“Of course.” His chest flushed with anticipation.
“How do you feel when you’re with me?”
Isaac tried to push aside the anxiety still attempting to blur his thoughts, an old friend that wanted to be part of the conversation. Only anxiety wasn’t allowed in, not this time. He shuffled through different words, emotions and adjectives, searching for the one that best described how he felt about Jon. How Jon made him feel, despite being a near-stranger, bigger, stronger and far more experienced in pretty much everything. Jon still made him feel… “Safe,” Isaac said.
Jon’s eyebrows crept up. The corners of his mouth quirked into something not quite a smile. “Really?”
“Yes. The first time I saw you on my security feed, I noticed how beautiful you were.” His cheeks warmed.
Jon flat out grinned. “Yeah?”
“You’re kind and patient, and I feel safe because you don’t try to fix me, and you don’t act like I’m broken. My family thinks I’m broken, and I don’t want them to fix me. I just…” Something in Isaac shifted, accepting this new truth. “I need to feel safe, Jon. That’s why I hide. But you make me not want to hide.”
Jon’s eyes glittered. His expression melted into something so warm, so sweet, that it burned in Isaac’s blood in a way he didn’t understand at all. The strange sensation urged him to reach out, to initiate contact of some kind. Deep-rooted fear kept Isaac still, unable to make that first move. Unable to do anything except soak in the wonderment on Jon’s face.
“I think that’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten,” Jon said. His voice was hoarse, strange. Almost difficult to hear, so Isaac paid more attention to his lips. “Is it cheesy to say your strength makes me want to be better too?”
Isaac shook his head. “I’m not strong.”
“You’re stronger than you think. You proved that by letting me and Henry in two weeks ago. You proved it again by going out to rescue a kitten. Twice, by the way. You told me you want to get better, get into the world, and that takes a fuck-ton of courage when you’ve lost as much as you have. I know it won’t be easy, but I still want to help you do that.”
“I know you do. I want that too.”

My Review:
While this is the third book in a series, it follows a new lead and a new romance, with brief appearances from a couple previous characters.

Jon is a 25 y/o man who is in a good place in his life. A recovering anorexic, he has battled back from the brink, and built some true friendships, notably Gabe, from previous books, and Henry, an older man who took Jon in when his family cast him out and helped him through his recovery. Jon prefers his regular porn shoots for no-strings sex, as his last relationship (with emotionally-abusive Rick) was completely toxic. He’s not looking for a partner, and is busy caring for Henry who has end-stage prostate cancer. When Henry learns he has a long-lost grandson, he wants to meet him, and spend whatever time he has making one last connection. Jon assists, and is struck by Isaac.

For his part, Isaac suffers PTSD from domestic violence–Henry’s unknown son was an abuser–and witnessing his mother be attacked by criminals. Though he’s 22, Isaac is agoraphobic in the extreme and hasn’t left his home willingly since his grandmother died a year ago. He’s also mostly deaf, due to his father’s battery.

Isaac is initally terrified of Henry, whose resemblance to his abusive son is traumatic, but he braves out a single meeting a little mystified by the beautiful man who accompanies Henry, Jon. Not long after, Isaac rescues a lost kitten who strayed onto his porch, and he reaches out to Jon to bring supplies. They hit it off, and begin a casual friendship mostly via online messaging, at first. Jon wants Henry’s dying wish to become true, so he continues to build a friendship with Isaac in the hope that Henry will be invited to spend more time. It doesn’t hurt that Jon feels attracted adn protective of Isaac, wanting to make his sheltered life better, too. In the meantime, Jon’s ex, Rick, returns and his ED is triggered. Jon and Isaac’s friendship becomes more than friendly, with brief forays into the physical. It was all so new, and unwelcome, for Isaac at first, given his history with abuse and violence. Ultimately, Jon and Isaac are sweet for each other, and their cooperation turns into a tentative passion, and then a tender love.

I loved the time frame, here, with very reasonable baby steps forward for both Jon and Isaac over the course of months. Jon’s job as a porn actor isn’t seedy, and his views on it change as he develops strong feelings for Isaac. For those who may be concerned about fidelity issues, there are no cross-overs; Jon is highly respectful of himself and Isaac. I really liked the open and honest communication that was present throughout. Jon is so compassionate and this really turns Isaac’s head in the best way. It was so fun, also, to have a front row seat to Isaac’s awakening, emotionally and sexually. I was captivated by his self-sheltering, and also with his management of his hearing. It was really interesting how he chose to wear his hearing aid some times, and not others, based on whether he wanted to interact, or shut out, those around him. All of his many mechanisms to keep the world safely locked outside his door, but Jon was able to sneak inside–inch-by-inch–Bear, the playful kitten, was a huge part of that process.

A lot of the book is sweet and tender, though there are some bits that are tragic, what with Henry’s progressive illness, and others that are downright creepy-scary. What are Rick’s motives? And, is he behind the mysterious visits and packages Jon’s receiving? Expect some harrowing moments while that gets sorted. I was glad that everything turned out so good, and look forward to more excellently-told stories of the Mean Green porn boys, now that we’ve gotten to know a few of them in this book.

Interested? You can find THE HEART AS HE HEARS IT on Goodreads, Samhain Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from Ms. Arthur.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, and SMP Swerve.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Catch up with Ms. Arthur on her website, Facebook,
Twitter, and Tumblr.
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Reconnecting in the BLACK DUST–Excerpt and Giveaway!

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Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt, review, and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from Lynn Charles. BLACK DUST is a reconnection romance between lovers who got separated by tragedy, and attempt to rebuild their relationship after fifteen years of separation.

Check out the excerpt and review and enter to win a $25 GC for Interlude Press or one of FIVE ebooks of BLACK DUST below.

Black Dust 900px COVER (web Tumblr)About the book:
Fifteen years after a tragic car crash claimed a friend’s life and permanently injures his then-boyfriend, Broadway musician Tobias Spence reconnects with his former love.

As Emmett and Tobias explore their renewed relationship, the two men face old hurts and the new challenges of a long-distance romance.

Will Tobias lose his second chance at love to the ghosts he can’t seem to put to rest?

How about a little taste?

“I can’t, Emmett. I—can’t go back.”
“Then we are clearly not ready for any sort of commitment.”
“Wait. You won’t agree to—to us—unless I come to Indiana?”
“I won’t,” Emmett said. “It’s all feeling a little one-sided to me, and I’m not okay with that.”
“You don’t understand.”
“I do understand, Toby. I was there for everything that makes you afraid of that place.”
“Yes. You were,” Toby said, taking Emmett’s hand in his. “But my concerns about going back have nothing to do with you.”
“Maybe they should have something to do with me.”
“That’s—” Toby pulled his hand away. “That’s not fair.”
“It really is,” Emmett said. He reached across the table for Toby’s hand again. “Please?” Toby took his hand and Emmett squeezed, holding on as if he might never let go. “We experienced a great tragedy together. And while Scotty’s parents lost their son, no one felt the things we felt. No one else woke up screaming and sweating when we heard the sounds of the crash in our sleep.”
“Emmett—”
“No one else knew the fear of maybe never walking again. No one else lost weight and a semester of school because he might get thrown in jail. No one else felt the things we felt together. That’s all ours. As much as you want to, you cannot take me out of the equation.”
“But, that’s just it, Em. I don’t want to feel those things again. I cannot walk back into that—that darkness.”
Emmett pulled their joined hands to his lips and kissed Toby’s knuckles. “You already have. You have been so enamored¬—you’ve practically spent this entire week making love to my scars. You’re there. And it’s not so dark anymore.”
“No, because you’re whole again. You’re not broken anymore.”
Emmett saw it, then. He saw in the way Toby had almost obsessed over the ridiculous tattoo and Emmett’s scars, as if begging for them to also bring him the powers that Derek had wished upon Emmett’s body those years ago. He saw it in Toby’s insistence that they start all over as if the accident never happened, as if the years of silence weren’t strung between them like a rope and plank bridge connecting two separate lands.
So he said it. To give it power. To make it a truth they shared—like their shared tragedy. “And you still are. Broken.”
Toby nodded, grasping at Emmett’s fingers like a lifeline. “I’m so—” He took a deep, shuddering breath. “I’m so exhausted making sure no one knows.”
“Oh, Toby.” All the more reason “trying again” was a bad idea. Unready to let go, Emmett kissed Toby’s fingers again. “Then come to my home,” Emmett offered, trite as it sounded in his own ears. “I’ve remodeled the master and made a party room in my basement for the kids.”
“You’ve never told me—”
“It’s beautiful, really. It’s on a couple of acres, and the back of the property is lined with a stream you can hear from the kitchen when the windows are open. It’s very peaceful. It sounds like you need some peace.”
“You deserve a beautiful life.”
“So let me share it with you. At least think about it?”
Toby nodded and began to clean up. “Will you still come see me in San Francisco after school’s out?”
“I don’t know. I’d really like an answer before I agree to see you again.”
“Okay. I’m sorry it’s not as easy as it should be.”
“I am too, Toby. Being with you was always so easy.”

My Review:

This is a realistically-told reconnection romance between two high school sweethearts who survived a car wreck that left them both broken, inside and out.

Toby and Emmett met in local community theater, when Emmett was a performer and Toby the accompanist. They dated long-distance for two years, as Toby had begun in college in New York. The night before Emmett’s senior prom Toby coasted through a stop sign in their rural Indiana locale, and the results were disastrous. Their car was broadsided at high speed. Another passenger, Emmett’s best friend Scotty, was killed instantly and Emmett suffered pelvic and leg fractures that had a painful recovery. Toby was barely injured physically, but his emotional landscape was shattered. As much as Toby stuck by Emmett, anger at his pain, loss of his friend, and his injury-dashed Broadway dreams made Emmett snarly as a wounded boar. The fallout was a fifteen year separation.

Toby never forgot his first love, but years of guilt caused him to never set down any roots. He traveled extensively, directing and coaching off-Broadway productions wherever he could sell his services. Emmett had a great many number of wild years, never finding a man he would settle with for long. He’s been stable for the last several years, however, and longing connection. Encouraged by his best friend, Emmett calls Toby to set up a meeting so he can gain some closure on their tragic love story–only to have the flame rekindled.

Over the next year, Emmett and Toby go back-and-forth across the country to meet and come to terms with who they are, who they want to be, and if that includes a “together” for them. It is a story that encompasses a lifetime of missed opportunity, and a whole lot of healing. These guys have really been through some bad times, and they can’t trust each other enough to not get hurt–or do the hurting. I liked that there was no easy road here. They each have hard truths to face and accept. I found it fascinating, the inclusion of the musical soundtrack of their lives, how they couldn’t build it alone, but could together. How Emmett’s forgiveness and understanding, without the platitudes, was so healing for Toby.

Also, their long-distance love affair was on-again and off-again and back on- again. There was sufficient tension to keep it real, and interesting. The secondary characters, where they existed, were fun and engaging. And, who doesn’t love a grand gesture-ending with an original score that was worthy of (at least) off-Broadway.

Interested? You can find BLACK DUST on Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, AllRomance, Smashwords, Book Depository, and Indiebound.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for a chance to win a $25 GC to Interlude Press or one of FIVE copies of BLACK DUST.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Lynn Charles earned her degree in music education and for many years performed and directed choral music. When she’s not writing, she can be found strolling through local farmers markets near her home in Central Ohio in search of ingredients for new recipes. Her novel Chef’s Table was published in 2014 by Interlude Press.

You can find Lynn online on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Pinterest.
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Destructive Grief: YOU WERE HERE-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary YA novel form Cori McCarthy. YOU WERE HERE is a page-turner for no other reason but to watch a trainwreck of grief tear through the lives of several teens. I had terrible thoughts that this would turn out tragically, but I was spared that by some amazing moments of grace and introspection, and, well…hope.

You Were HereAbout the book:

Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?

On the anniversary of her daredevil brother’s death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake’s favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother’s exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.

As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn’t bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

My Review:

This was a tough book to read, because there are so many elements of grief and depression. That said, it really pulled me in, and I liked how it all worked out.

Jaycee Strangelove is a girl in crisis. Her beloved daredevil of an elder brother Jake died five years ago, challenged to a parkour feat he’d completed a thousand times before–but not while drunk, maybe. In an instant he was gone, but his loss created a ripple effect which still has power. Those waves are beating Jaycee’s sanity to pieces. Her best friend, Natalie, an unknown witness to the event abandoned her not long after Jake’s death. Ryan, a selective mute and Jake’s good friend, has tried to get over his role in the tragedy–and his long-time crush on Jaycee.

In the wake of Natalie and Jaycee’s high school graduation they reconnect, as Natalie and her boyfriend Zach and another friend, Bishop, discover Jaycee’s intent to recreate some of Jake’s stunts/adventures. Ryan is a silent witness to the ordeals, providing the kind of assistance he wished would have saved Jake so many years ago.

This is a book that’s told by five voices–and each is a person dealing with loss. The summer after graduation should be filled with big plans and parties and fun, but it’s not like that for this motley crew. They are instead “urbanex”-ing–exploring abandoned and derelict urban structures for fun. Jaycee has a map and journal used by her brother before he died, and she wants to visit each space to be in a place he once was. It’s a dangerous pastime, and results in more than one serious injury. While Jaycee hunts for the fleeting connection with her idolized brother, she puts herself and others at risk, time and again. This recklessness is what keeps Ryan coming back–he can’t bear to let Jaycee hurt herself, and she’s barely got a grip on reality, as it stands. Her mother has been in and out of in-patient therapy since Jake died, and Natalie’s a sometimes there, yet completely messed up, Type-A gal seeking a future her mother outlined. Jaycee’s father tries to hold things together, but he’s stretched so thin, and really just wants his family to heal.

In the meantime, there are several other issues, including teen substance abuse, domestic abuse, and love. Yes, love, because it exists within all these real spaces. A whole lot of truth-telling is the order of the summer, and seeing the end of the journey together, too. The adventures create an intimacy that can only exist for people who have long histories and shared pain. As outwardly self-destructive as Jaycee is, the same experience exists for Natalie and Zach–only inwardly. Bishop’s coming to terms with a bad relationship/break-up is just as gut-wrenching for him, and Ryan, well Ryan needs to be real with Jaycee before he doesn’t have a chance.

It took me a little time to bond with the characters, but there are some excellent voices here, and the presentation of each was stunning. Expect some graphic novel-type elements–which were wholly unique and enjoyable to me as a novel reader. I also loved the story and its resolution. Grief is such a soul-sucking experience, and it has the ability to ravage each of us in very different ways. The book was excellent at demonstrating it’s varied and destructive power while still bringing the reader, and characters, back to a hopeful place in the end.

Interested? You can find YOU WERE HERE on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:

Cori is the author of several YA books. Kirkus called her debut novel, THE COLOR OF RAIN, “[an] elegantly written and emotionally cathartic page-turner.” Her second novel, BREAKING SKY, received starred reviews from School Library Journal and the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books and is currently in development to become a film by Sony Pictures. Kirkus reviewed it as “smart, exciting, confident–and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” Her third book, YOU WERE HERE, is a contemporary mixed media novel that earned a starred review from the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books and was hailed a VOYA Best Book.

Cori’s novel in verse, Name Me America, won the Middle Grade category for the 2014 Katherine Paterson Prize. Cori is also the co-founder of Rainbow Boxes, a charitable initiative aiming to bring LGBTQIA fiction to community libraries and GSAs across America. Tweet @RainbowBoxesYA or watch a three minute commercial for the initiative.

Cori is a contributing blogger at Through the Tollbooth and a freelance editor with Yellow Bird Editor.

You can find Cori online on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!