These Stories are WILD–A Happy Shifter Halloween Review

Hi there! It’s Halloween and I thought I’d share a review for a set of paranormal romances I picked up recently. WILD is a three-book set from Eve Langlais, Kate Douglas and AC Arthur all have some yummy shifter romances to whet your whistle.

wildAbout the books:

In Catch a Tiger by the Tail by Eve Langlais, Broderick has a job to do—audit the books of a gentleman’s club. Sounds simple, except his company wants him to find dirt linking to the mob, his secret mob employer wants someone to pin the blame on, and the bar manager at the heart of the controversy doesn’t want him—even though she’s his mate.

In Wild Passions by Kate Douglas, six women—friends closer than sisters—head off to an exclusive mountain resort for a week-long bachelorette getaway, where most of the women just wants to know if there are any good men left in the world. There are, and they’re the men of Feral Passions, a unique resort located on a private wolf preserve, owned and run by a pack of sexy werewolves who use it as their own personal hunting ground for mates.

In Her Perfect Mates by A.C. Arthur, Malec Zenta was part of a loving lycan family until his twin brother’s suicide took a piece of his soul. Channing Verdi never knew his parents, but that was fine because at the age of sixteen on the night of the full moon, he realized his purpose. The only pleasure these two betas have managed to find in their life was in the bed with the women they shared. Now, a human woman has entered their lives…a woman who sets their primal instincts on fire, a woman they can’t help but stake their claim on…and give her the ultimate pleasure of being with two shifters at once.

My Review:

The books in this set are all separate works, and have no connection with one another. That said, CLAIMED BY THE MATE features FERAL PASSIONS–which precedes Wild Passions and THE ALPHA’S WOMAN which comes before Her Perfect Mates. I think they make more sense having read the previous books.

To sum up, all the books have male shifters and human females. Catch a Tiger features a M/F romance between a tiger shifter who lives two lives–smart accountant and mob guy. Wild Passions has wolf shifters in search of their mates–mostly this is M/F but there is all a FMM menage. Her Perfect Mates is a MFM menage.

In Catch a Tiger by the Tail by Eve Langlais, Brody finds his mate while investigating a suspected grift at one of his mafia boss’ adult cabaret. Lulu was a waitress at Tail Waggers until her manager disappeared and she got “promoted.” Now, Lycan leader of the city Fabian Geroux thinks somebody’s on the take–and his sights are on Lulu. Brody’s, a lone tiger shifter, in a tight spot trying to prove the sexy redheaded human isn’t scamming Fabian, because falling for a human is bad–falling for one Fabian wants dead is way, way worse. 

In the way of things, it turns out Lulu isn’t who they suspect her to be, but her secrets aren’t necessarily the worst. Nope, the worst is the homicidal maniac who plans to kill her in a quest for revenge against her father. Brody’s a wily cat and ends up saving her from big bad bears and keeping her safe from Fabian, too.

In Wild Passions by Kate Douglas, four women—friends closer than sisters—head off Feral Passions, a resort and “wolf preserve,” for a week-long bachelorette getaway. Werewolves and regular alike inhabit Feral Passions. In this world, all werewolves are male, and they can turn a female with whom they mate. There’s a whole pack of males wishing for mates.

Meg is having second thoughts about her upcoming marriage to Zach, a wealthy entrepreneur. She and Elle, Jules and Darian–best friends from childhood–are planning a sexy retreat and find the men of Feral Passions to be even hotter than the pictures on the website. Elle soon has two wolves in her bed, while Darian and Jules each pair up with a sexy man-beast. Meg, despite her cold feet, is befriended by Trak, the owner of the resort–and his companionship helps Meg to recognize that she’s an attractive woman very much worthy of Zach’s affection and love. Lots of sexytimes for Elle, Jules and Darian–and the men who please them. Gonna need a third book to pair off the rest of the pack, but so far everyone is totes cool with their mate-pairings.

In Her Perfect Mates by A.C. Arthur, Malec hates being a shifter–ever since his twin killed himself. Channing never knew his parents, but his adoptive family was very kind. These two met up with Blaez years ago and they all served in a special ops group in the Marines, alongside Phelan. Now they work and live together in a highly secured compound in the mountains. The previous book was the lovestory between Blaez and his mate Kira. There’s a big shifter war in their world, and they came from different factions. Blaez is a hunted shifter due to his pure werewolf lineage.

Malec meets new-to-town veterinarian Caroline when he brings her a mutilated buck to see if it can be saved. Malec suspects the buck was a message from Hunter shifters after Blaez–he didn’t suspect he’d find his mate at the office however. Malec’s not used to being intimate with women on his own–he always makes up the third leg of a menage, with charming Channing. Thing is, Channing’s also drawn to Caroline, and Caroline wants both men–except that would make her a slut, like her prostitute mother. The real and present danger forces them all close, and it seems like the only way to keep Caroline safe, from predation and gossips, is to bring her into the pack. Also, sexytimes.

In all, I liked WILD PASSIONS best, because it’s sweet and lots of sexy, but the other two are cool, and interesting in their own way. Each will have more stories to come–to resolve the major plot arcs that are still open, and also secure mates for the currently unpaired shifter males.

Interested? You can find WILD on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in, and Happy Halloween reading my friends!

 

New Young Love: PICTURES OF YOU–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a mature YA/New Adult M/M series from Leta Blake. PICTURES OF YOU is the first in a four-part series about young gay people coming of age in 1990s Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s not exactly a romance, though there are certainly lots of sexytimes.

poyAbout the book:
Growing up gay isn’t easy. Growing up gay in Knoxville, Tennessee is even harder.

Eighteen-year-old Peter Mandel, a private school senior—class of 1991—is passionate about photography. Peter doesn’t have many friends, preferring to shoot pictures from behind the scenes to keep his homosexuality secret.

Enter Adam Algedi, a charming, worldly new guy who doesn’t do labels, but does want to do Peter. Hardly able to believe gorgeous Adam would want geeky, skinny him of all people, Peter’s swept away on a journey of first love and sexual discovery. But as their mutual web of lies spins tighter and tighter, can Peter find the confidence he needs to make the right choices? And will his crush on Daniel, a college acquaintance, open a new path?

Join Peter in the first of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements.
Book 1 of 4.
Warning! These books contain: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.

How about a little taste?

“Should I apologize for earlier?” Adam asked, turning down the stereo.

“It isn’t your fault she showed up.”

Adam grinned at me. “I meant, should I apologize for the kiss, but I guess the answer is ‘no.’”

I twitched nervously in my seat and took a deep breath “I’m gay.”

“No shit.”

I stared. “What?”

“I mean, yeah. You’re gay. I figured that out.”

“So—” I stopped. “Wait. How?”

“I can always tell. I don’t know how.”

“But I thought you said you weren’t gay.”

“I never said that.” Adam frowned. “Honestly, I don’t know what I am.”

My heart trip-hammered for a ton of reasons, but the scariest of them was hope. “What’s the deal then? Uh, with us?”

“Us? We’re friends. Like I said, friends kiss.”

My hope settled into a knot of anxiety.

“Then why hasn’t a friend kissed me before?”

“I don’t know. I mean, who wouldn’t want to kiss you?”

To me, it was definitely more of a question of who would want to kiss me, and, more specifically, just exactly why he had. Especially when I knew how everyone else would view me once we got to school. Maybe living all over the world hadn’t taught him the social skill of self-preservation required to make his way in a small city like Knoxville.

I decided to tell him. He really did deserve to know, and besides, if it was going to be an issue, I wanted to be hurt now, not later.

“I’m a huge loser, you know.”

Adam glanced over at me like I was insane. “What?”

“I’m not popular. In school. In life. In anything.” I turned my head and looked out the window, worrying my lower lip. “I just thought you should know. I mean, you don’t want to start out at a new school being friends with someone who’s just going to drag you down.”

Adam actually laughed. “You’re crazy. Did you know that?”

My throat tightened. It hurt he wasn’t taking me seriously. “I’m telling you why I’ll understand when you decide we can’t be friends anymore.”

“Look, you haven’t even started at this school and you’ve already decided that as a friend you’re not worth being first string? What’s up with that?”

I shrugged. “I’m just being realistic. I mean—look at me.”

In my peripheral vision I saw Adam do just that. He looked at me long enough that I worried about the car staying on the road. “Yeah. I’m looking. I still like what I see.” He lifted his hand to the back of my neck and squeezed. “I’m serious.”

A strange rush of emotion flooded my stomach and chest, and I wanted to tuck my face between my knees. Instead I just crossed my arms and frowned.

Adam brushed his fingers through my hair, catching in my frenzy of curls. It felt intimate and almost more real than the kiss. I shivered when he let go to grip the steering wheel again.

“But enough of that,” he said sternly. “Get my book bag out of the backseat. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

Happy to be leaving the uncomfortable topic of my gay dorkitude behind, I reached around and grabbed the blue, nylon book bag.

“Open the front pocket.”

I unzipped it, fished around, and pulled out a driver’s license. It was Mo’s, and I had to stifle a laugh at the typical bad license photo that made him look like a serial killer.

“I’ve got a fake ID that Sean got for me, but I liberated that one for you.”

I tapped the picture. “You think this will get me into the club? I look nothing like your brother!”

“Don’t be such a defeatist! You just hold your thumb over the picture when you show them your ID.”

“Adam, that isn’t going to work.”

“We can always try,” he said, lifting his shoulders dismissively.

“They’ll confiscate the ID. How’s Mo going to feel about having to get a new license made?”

That got through to him. “Oh. So, huh. I guess that won’t work after all.”

I snorted. “Uh, no.”

Adam just smiled. “We’ll figure something out.”

“We could see what’s going on at the under-21 shows on The Strip.”

“No. I want to go to Tilt-a-Whirl. I read it’s the best gay bar in town and has, and I quote, ‘the best drag queens in the area.’”

“If the area is East Tennessee, then yeah, it probably does. And why do you want to go to a gay bar so much? I mean, this is a small city. Word gets around.”

Adam narrowed his eyes. “This last-minute resistance is futile, padawan.”

“Trek and Wars in the same breath. That is very wrong. Very, deeply, truly wrong.”

“It is,” Adam readily agreed.

“You’re a total dork.”

“Shh. It’s a secret. Don’t tell the jocks when school starts. I wouldn’t want my nerdiness to drag us down and all.”

I started to laugh, but stopped, struck by an uncomfortable thought. I picked at my blue jeans a little, toying with a loose thread, before asking quietly, “So the kiss is a secret?”

Adam looked over in obvious surprise. “Of course. I mean, like you said, this is a small city.”

“And it’s the South. And the Bible Belt. And generally homophobic, yeah.”

I bit down on my lip. I didn’t know what I was expecting. It wasn’t like he was wrong. We couldn’t be boyfriends—not here, not now. Not out in the open or anything. It was just that I wanted so much more already. And he’d kissed me.

Adam’s hand clasped the back of my neck again. “Hey, listen. You’re my friend. And you happen to kind of turn me on with your glasses, and your camera, and the way you walk.” He gripped his fingers in my hair again and gave my head a little shake. “That’s enough, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. So—the drag show. How do we get in?” I hoped my voice sounded light because if in Adam’s world friends kissed, I didn’t want to do anything to ruin our friendship before I found out what else he thought friends might do.

My Review:
Peter Mandel is an 18 y/o closeted gay teen growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1990. He’s a new transfer to a small private school because he’d been terrorized by bullies for being queer. His parents seem to ignore all the evidence of homosexuality, instead believing him to be a late bloomer. He is, rather, being small and slight, unfit for sports and artsy in photography, but Peter is still only for the dudes.

Peter meets twins Adam and Sarah at orientation. They are half-Iranian, and their parents have some type of consulate business that keeps them in Jordan at the moment. Fomenting aggression caused their parents to send Adam and Sarah to the states to complete high school; their elder brother, Mohammed, is a college student at UT and their custodian.

Adam wastes no time connecting with Peter, who’s never even kissed a person before. He’d hoped to fly under the radar, but beautiful, skilled, sexy Adam is more that willing to school Peter in sex. Their courtship is fraught with issues–mostly keeping everything on the super down-low. Sarah and Mo know immediately that Adam and Peter are having sex, and they aren’t happy about it–mostly because they know how their strict father will react if he learns of this unnatural behavior.

When school starts, Sarah is determined to get them all well-situated into the best social strata. She’s aggressive and Adam’s charismatic and soon they cobble a tight group of friends, including Leslie, who’s overjoyed to be Adams’ girlfriend. Yep, the best way to hide Adam and Peter’s sexytimes is to get a beard–and Adam’s bisexual, so he pulls this off. But the rumors don’t stop.

The book spans a nine month period–all of senior year. It’s not a happy time for Peter. He’s captivated by Adam, who wants him terribly, but upset at hiding his love affair from everyone. Plus, he likes Leslie. She’s a sweet friend, and Peter dies a bit inside when he sees them cuddling, and knows they a real and true couple, having just as much sex as he and Adam do.

During this time Peter relies on unlikely friends, notably a drag queen that he met while out on his first date with Adam. Renee/Robert knows about staying closeted, and he’s a sweet and caring person. He offers Peter a job helping with his drag shows, and taking pictures for publicity. It’s through Renee/Robert that Peter meets Daniel, an architecture student at UT. There’s an immediate connection, but Daniel won’t get involved with a high school student.

The book, as a whole, is really bittersweet. It’s about yearning and choices and the struggle for love and acceptance in a time that was rife with homophobia, in a place that’s not eager to embrace homosexuality now–twenty-five years later. It’s the height of the AIDS epidemic, and Peter’s (mostly disinsterested) parents are just as scared of gay cancer killing him as they are of homophobic bigots killing him. They have some experience with the latter, as Peter learns close to the end of the book. It’s not a typical romance, and Peter’s mostly broken-hearted accepting a half-love from Adam, who won’t just let him go. For his part, Peter knows that he’s not able to protect himself from the bigotry inherent in his world, but he makes a grudging peace with it, until he can walk away clean: graduation.

There’s a bit of hope on the horizon, with Daniel, who may be willing to be monogamous and not hide Peter. His parents are resigned to his sexuality, and seem to be supportive; his father in particular. His mother suffers depression and struggles to care for herself, let alone her son. Peter’s a good kid, and the stage seems set for him to have a better life within a tribe of his choosing who will care for him. Being that this is more a gay fiction series, I’m sure we’ll have more ups-and-downs as Peter learns to navigate his dangerous world. There is a promised happy ending for Peter, I suspect, in the fourth book. Until then, we have a really rich world with regular historical touchstones for readers to connect.

It’s always fun to read a book set in a time that has just faded from our collective consciousness. It’s an era of no cell phones, landlines, people walking out their door and being unreachable, film cameras, developing rooms, word processors… Peter is a contemporary of mine, being one year older, chronologically. So his experience is mine–from a cultural standpoint. He and I share those moments, watching GHOST on the big screen, contemplating The Cure, even photography–though I was limited to a point-and-shoot due to being broke. I got Peter, and I struggled with him. I wanted Adam to stand up for them–even if it wasn’t coming out. Even if it was them still hiding, but hiding together. The conflict was really tense, and I hope that we’ll get some respite–though it’s the dawn of the Iraq War, and Adam, being half-Iranian, has many struggles to come. As for the book, and series, I think readers who enjoyed the Something Like series by Jay Bell will enjoy it. I liked it lots, and enjoyed the immersive experience of suddenly being back in high school.

Interested? You can find PICTURES OF YOU on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Author of the best-selling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can find out more on her website, Facebook and twitter.

IndiGo

Cephalopod Coffeehouse Oct 2016–BEAUTIFULLY UNIQUE SPARKLEPONIES-A Review

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I’ve read a wide variety of books, from paranormal, to YA to erotic to gay, and mostly those were all romance. It’s my comfort zone, and I like to be comfortable. Who doesn’t, right? Well, I’ll be honest, I’ve been pretty uncomfortable about the elections coming up. If you haven’t guessed, I’m a liberal. That’s my prerogative. I’m a college educated woman with two degrees in science. My family wasn’t wealthy; neither of my parents completed college, and really only had a handful of courses between them–all taken later in life. Despite having seriously awesome need-based financial aid, I just had my twenty year reunion, and I’m still paying back student loans.

As a woman in science, I’ve seen some great and not-so-great things, but I’ve been in a professional role that is generally more egalitarian and merit-based than most other professions. I’m also trained to gather evidence and make measured judgments. When all the “revelations” regarding Donald Trump began coming to light–that he’s essentially lecherous and likely a sexual predator–I was drawn back to the writings of Chris Kluwe. You may remember his impassioned essays in the days before marriage equality, invoking a juggernaut of rational, honest and logical arguments in favor. His piece on Locker room talk reminded me how much I enjoyed his straight-talking sense-making pieces, and so I picked up his BEAUTIFULLY UNIQUE SPARKLEPONIES. It’s not necessarily a political book, but it certainly has a lot to say regarding…well, everything.

busMy Review:
I hardly review non-fiction. It’s not my thing. But I do love thoughtful, insightful essays which I tend to pick up in my daily quest for “What’s happening outside of my house?” information. BUS is a large collection of essays ‘on myths, morons, free speech, football and assorted absurdities.’ In short it’s a hodgepodge of really fascinating topics that were immediately relevant a few years ago, yet still provoke thought today–mostly because they are still part of the big mix of ideas and activities we know exist, but don’t focus on day-to-day.

There are a number of essays about the need for marriage equality. Court victories have brought this to pass, but with the rumblings of Republican candidates talking about instituting new bans, and overturning recent court decisions, it’s still important to focus on the underpinnings and moral conflicts inherent in disenfranchising a significant portion of our population based on their sexuality. I echo his sentiments here, and hope that we can work toward gender/sex equality forthwith. No reason men should get paid more than me for doing the same work after all. I have a family to support, too, folks.

Further, there’s lots of discourse on privacy, chiefly the illusion of it, our collective laziness as a society, and building ourselves echo chambers that amplify and reinforce our beliefs. I’ve certainly seen this in several venues this election cycle, with people clamoring over (non-existent) election fraud–evidenced because everyone they know and speak with is voting for a particular candidate, ergo that person must win. If not, it’s rigged I tellz ya!! Being a scientist, and having friends and family in both camps, I see more than one side, even if I don’t agree with both sides equally. And, I think that’s a big part of Kluwe’s book: being open to many facets of experience in life. Being empathetic, and just. Making learned, informed decisions. Being active in life, not simply reactive.

There’s also some ‘assorted absurdities’ which are entertaining and fun. He’s a quick wit, and doesn’t hesitate to self-deprecate. Kluwe’s candid about his nerd life, his obsessive reading, and his cluelessness regarding girls as a younger man. He also readily questions his role in society, how he–as a pro football player–lived in a rarefied space, and why? There’s a lot about religion, and the guiding principles that don’t apply to people who do not ascribe. I felt a lot of resonance there.

While non-fiction isn’t my bag, per se, I’m super glad I finally picked this one up. It gave my brain some excellent gymnastics, and ironic ‘entertainment’ to ponder. Kluwe’s brand of creative swearing is a hoot, but even when he’s not profane he makes a shit-ton of sense. Fans of George Carlin, Louis Black, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Samantha Bee will certainly find this book to be worth their time. If nothing else, I’ll always remember Kluwe when I consider reclining my airplane seat.

Interested? You can find BEAUTIFULLY UNIQUE SPARKLEPONIES on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and libraries everywhere.

Thanks for popping in, and be sure to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers as they share thoughts regarding their fave book for October.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway for ALPHA BARMAN!

Hi there! Today I”m sharing a cover for a tantalizing new M/M romance from Sue Brown. ALPHA BARMAN is a reconnection romance for two military vets who were torn apart by tragedy.

Catch the book giveaway below, and be on the look out for ALPHA BARMAN November 24th!

alphabarman_ebookAbout the book:
Jake Tyler walked out of Special Ops two years ago, a devastated, broken man after he discovered his sister brutally murdered by her husband, Riley. Since then he’s found a kind of peace running a rural bar. The last thing Jake Tyler expects is his former team to turn up with grim news. Jake’s ex-brother-in-law has escaped from prison and is heading Jake’s way. The team is here to protect Jake, whether he likes it or not – a decision reluctantly shared by their leader, Jake’s ex-lover Mitch Mitchelson.

Mitch is angry and hurting. The man he trusted – the man he adored more than anything – abandoned both his team and Mitch. Jake never gave Mitch a chance to help or come to terms with his desertion. Regardless of mission protocols, Mitch isn’t about to open his heart again to that kind of pain.

But the strong attraction between them can’t be denied. How are they ever going to work together when Mitch still resents Jake’s disappearance, and to Jake, the team represents everything that destroyed him in the first place? And meantime they wait for Riley to find them… and to settle the threat once and for all.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot, and has become an expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. She had an Aha moment and put pen to paper that same day. Sue may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Find Sue on line on her website, blog, Facebook and twitter.
signal boost

Growing Up PANSIES–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly released contemporary M/M romance from Alexis Hall. PANSIES is also an enemies-to-lovers romance that is lush and beautiful. I’ve also loved FOR REAL, LOOKING FOR GROUP, and WAITING FOR THE FLOOD from this author, so I couldn’t pass the chance to pick up PANSIES.

pansiesAbout the book:
Alfie Bell is…fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.

It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie’s never met anyone like Fen before.

Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.

Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.

My Review:
Highly recommend! This is a fantastically lyrical, deeply emotional story of two unlikely lovers and their complicated history.

Alfie Bell is a big beast of a man, nearly thirty and only recognized his gayness two years ago. He’s from the north Atlantic coast of England, a rundown beach village called South Shields. Having been smart he did his schooling, got a masters and took a job in investment banking. He’s fabulously wealthy, living his openly gay life in London, and quietly caring for his family up north. He’s had a falling out with them, over his sexuality, and he really wants everything to be normal in his life. He wants a committed relationship, and a family some day. His ambitions are much simpler than his profession might indicate. And, ultimately, Alfie’s been feeling rather empty of late, wishing he had stronger connections and feeling disenchanted with London’s shiny veneer.

While on a rare trip home, Alfie inadvertently outs himself to his best friend–while at his wedding. It’s a mortifying event, and Alfie takes a drive to clear his discomfort. Popping in to a nearby bar, Alfie spots a slight, slim man with silver-blonde pink tipped hair and the most gorgeous body…ever. He offers to buy the man a drink, and the reaction he gets is not welcome. Fen, as he calls himself, doesn’t believe that a strapping man would ever find him sexually attractive, but they do get on with an interesting evening adventure–which turns out really good, as far as Alfie is concerned. Until Fen reveals his full identity the next morning–that Fen was the shy gay boy that Alfie and his mates all tormented throughout grade school. Alfie’s world shifts. He’s not the same uncouth boy who did those horrible things, and those memories are terrifying related through Fen’s point-of-view.

When he returns to London, Alfie simmers on this new development. He’s filled with shame, and wants to make amends however he can. He books some time off to make the long trip north again, and turns up at Fen’s business–a flower shop called Pansies that used to belong to his late grandmother and mother. Life hasn’t gone to Fen’s plan much; he’s only running the shop (into the ground) out of grief for his mother’s early death. It’s a way of connecting to her, even as it meant giving up his own career, breaking it off from his boyfriend, and losing his half of their mortgaged flat. Alfie knows none of this, he only wants to be near Fen. The encounter isn’t much better than their recent meeting, ending with a comic spectacle in Fen’s run-down bath that requires repairs. Alfie, always the fixer, attempts to make that right, too. And ends up needing his own rescue. From his estranged family.

Fen, honestly, has a very conflicted experience with his former tormentor. He was bizarrely attracted to Alfie as a teen. He was so strong, and sure, and manly, yet still had a softer side, like rescuing trapped butterflies. Seeing Alfie so committed to helping him in his suffering now is turning all the right switches, awakening long-buried attraction. Alfie is tender and compliant in a way Fen had imagined in his deepest adolescent fantasies–you know the type: getting one over on your nemesis, only with sexytimes.

As they spend time together, Alfie recognizes that he’s really falling for Fen. He also loves the idea of being back home. There’s so much familiarity, and he envisions being a partner to Fen in more than just Fen’s broke-down futon. He convinces Fen to let him look over his finances and help with the flower shop. It’s not easy for Fen to let go–and Alfie’s continually blundering when it comes to the homophobic incidents that they keep getting involved in. See, Fen’s not even gay, exactly, (probably pansexual though Fen calls himself queer) and yet he endured a lifetime of teasing and abuse for his queerness. And, Alfie’s only been out in London, where there’s less of an in-your-face homophobia. He can’t bear to have himself and Fen called out for just existing. It’s all very chilling, for Fen. He wants a lover, not a felon–and he knows how dangerous it can be to engage with homophobes in groups. Plus, part of Alfie’s issue is his own internalized homophobia. Fen helps him to tease apart all the “masc” constructs that have really been lead weight surrounding his neck for thirty years. Alfie is so utterly vulnerable, and deeply in love with Fen after a couple of weeks–and that’s when it’s got to end.

Fen’s not meant to stay in South Shields, nursing his memories for a dead mother–even his father thinks so. And, while Alfie would be happy to give up his posh London life and build a new one with Fen, Alfie’s pretty-well decided he wants to do it in his hometown. It’s not fair!! There’s a kerfuffle, and a break, and more grand gestures to win Fen back–and I can’t actually do any justice at all to this without giving away too much. The book is so lush, and the writing so lyrical. I’ve never been to England, and yet I feel like I moved into Fen’s shop, and got insulted by Gothshelley, and ate finger-burning chips on the beach and curried paneer at Raj’s Indian restaurant. I could see the spun silk of Fen’s silver-pink-blonde hair, and hear the creak of pain in Alfie’s voice when he tried, once again, to connect with his baffled father. There’s an all-encompassing accessibility to Alfie’s point-of-view that absolutely dropped me into his brain, and his experience. His youthful regrets are intense, and his determination to quietly fix all and sundry is unquestionably endearing. The book has a sweet HEA that is sure to please any romance fan.

Interested? You can find PANSIES on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He did the Oxbridge thing sometime in the 2000s and failed to learn anything of substance. He has had many jobs, including ice cream maker, fortune teller, lab technician, and professional gambler. He was fired from most of them.

He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.

Catch up with him on his website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Shenanigans in HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a sweet YA romance from Tara Eglington. HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU is a fun and witty spin on teen love–with a girl bent on getting her first kiss from a boy who is worthy of her.

kissingyouAbout the book:

Executor of the Find a Prince Program™ and future author, sixteen-year-old Aurora Skye is dedicated to helping others navigate the minefield that is teenage dating. Counsellor-in-residence at home, where her post-divorce ad-agency father has transformed into a NAD (New Age Dad) intent on stripping his life bare of ‘the illusionary’ (i.e. the removal of home furnishings to the point where all after-hours work must be done in lotus position on a hemp cushion) Aurora literally lives and breathes Self-Help.

When the beginning of the school year heralds the arrival of two Potential Princes™ who seem perfect for her best friends Cassie (lighthouse beacon for emotionally fragile boys suffering from traumatic breakups) and Jelena (eye-catching, elegant and intent on implementing systems of serfdom at their school) it seems as if Aurora’s fast on her way to becoming the next Dr Phil.

As Aurora discovers, however, Self-Help is far from simple. Aurora’s mother arrives home from her extended ‘holiday’ (four years solo in Spain following the infamous ‘Answering Machine Incident’) throwing the NAD into further existential crisis. With Valentine’s Day drawing closer and the new Potential Princes not stepping up to the mark, Aurora is literally forced to take to the stage to throw two couples together. However, being cast opposite Hayden Paris (boy next door and bane-of-Aurora’s life) in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing brings challenges of its own. Not only does Hayden doubt that Cupid is understaffed and thus in dire need of Aurora’s help, but playing Beatrice to his Benedict throws her carefully preserved first kiss for a Prince into jeopardy. As Aurora races to save love’s first kiss and put a stop to the NAD’s increasingly intimate relationship with her Interpretive dance teacher (guilty of putting Aurora on detention for a ‘black aura’) she is left wondering who can a self help guru turn to for help? Can she practice what she preaches? And can long-assumed frogs become Potential Princes?

My Review:

Aurora Skye tells a charming tale of a girl who wants to meet her Prince, and gift him with her very first kiss. In the meantime, Aurora doesn’t want any frogs stealing that kiss away, and that includes her infuriating neighbor–and former best friend–Hayden Paris.

See, at 16, Aurora wants a real true love, not like her parents marriage which dissolved horribly when her mom up and left one day four years ago. Oh, mumzy’s back, as of a year ago, with her Spanish boyfriend and little time to call Aurora, unless it’s to check and see if she’s ready to begin modelling.

Aurora wants to help all her friends find their Perfect Prince, too, and decides that going for the school play might help couple up her best gal, Cass, with Scott, a new boy who’s friends with Hayden. Hayden is a perennial thorn in Aurora’s side. He’s always seated near her, and is ultra-competitive, and basically in her face, even witnessing her graceless attempts to keep her dates from swooping in for The Kiss. While Aurora wants a secondary part in the MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING production, she and Hayden are cast as the leads–with a kiss in the script! How will Aurora deflect this? And why is Hayden suddenly being so nice to her? Is it because she has a secret admirer?

I liked the back-and-forth of this one. Aurora, for all her desire to be a Love Coach, is a blissfully ignorant young girl. Her quaint idea of having a special first kiss is endearing, and sweet. I liked how she and Hayden had a troubled history, that was partly explained by Aurora’s dysfunctional relationship with her mother. Her father’s given up on the materialistic aspects of his life, becoming New Age Dad (NAD for short), and is currently dating a horror of a woman, much to Aurora’s chagrin. There are some fun bleed-throughs of the Much Ado storyline into the book, with the cattyiness, rumor-mongering and issues with True Love. I will also say that I found the idea of only giving kisses (or any affection) to a partner who is worthy of you to be a very sex-positive and life affirming message for teens. One of the main messages is: you can CHOOSE who gets a piece of you, which is a lesson I feel is underrated in society today.

It’s readily apparent that Hayden is a decent guy, and his continued attempts to befriend Aurora eventually bear fruit. He’s her constant defender against nasty boys trying to sully her name, and a super-duper cat finder when she needs one. The detached parentals were a little convenient, and the lack of proper grounding of the story was a bit irritating to me, as I’m all about setting.  I pretty much had to guess that she was in Australia, based on some buried clues, which later became rather nutty–her dad’s going to NYC for a business trip and returning in a day? Not bloody likely, mate. I really enjoy books set in other countries, and felt the generic descriptions detracted from what could have been a lush read. That said, the book makes up for poor setting with sweet romance.

Aurora does meet her Prince, but really, it’s not when she wants. See, she’s already fallen for Hayden before her Secret Admirer can step forward. Can she accept a kiss from someone she hardly knows–even with his splendid poetry and taste in flowers? Or, should she follow her heart and kiss Hayden before anyone else can get in the way?

Aurora makes the only choice she can–and I liked how lovely it all was. Quite the storybook romance for these previously star-crossed love birds.

Interested? You can find HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and libraries everywhere.

About Author Tara Eglington:

I’m an Australian based author who grew up LOVING YA books. One summer when I temporarily ran low on my reading list, I created my own: ‘How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You.’ The narrator Aurora Skye, bounced onto the page with her tips and tricks for romance, taking on a life of her own as the creator of the ‘Find a Prince Program.’ She’s been so popular with readers that she featured in the sequel ‘How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You.’

My third YA novel ‘My Best Friend is a Goddess’ will be released in Australia in October 2016 by Harper Collins Publishers and tells the story of best friends Emily and Adriana.

‘How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You’ will be published in the US and Canada by St Martins (Macmillan) in October 2016, with ‘How to Convince’ to follow in 2017.

Catch up with Tara online on Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, or email.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Teaser Time! Looking for THE LOST CODEX

codexteaserrevealbannerHi there! I’m so excited to share a little teaser for a new urban fantasy from Heather Lyons. THE LOST CODEX is the fourth book in the Collecters’ Society series, which features fictional characters from well-known books being warriors against censorship and book destruction. It’s all very enthralling… I really loved THE HIDDEN LIBRARY and THE FORGOTTEN MOUNTAIN, so I’m looking forward to THE LOST CODEX which comes out November 7th. You really must read this series in order…so you’ve got a bit of time to catch up!!

thelostcodex_ebook_450x675About the book:
Allies, once inseparable, splinter until they break apart.

An insidiousness carves its way through Wonderland, challenging the land’s very existence.

Battle lines will be drawn as pages, long languishing in darkness, are finally illuminated.

Swords will clash, blood will be spilled, and lives will be lost.

For what is written can still be erased.

Just to recap, the Collector’s Society is a series that pulls characters from storybooks into our daily lives. Alice, Queen of Wonderland, is a heroine of the first order, as she gave up her true love in Wonderland to assist the Librarians to take down rogue agents who seek to destroy entire fictional worlds. She’s partnered with Finn, think: Huckleberry, who is another true match, and boy howdy to the get it on…but they ALSO work together to take down the most nefarious enemy the Librarians have ever faced: the Pied Piper.

There’s much more to the story, but if this intrigues you, check out my reviews for THE HIDDEN LIBRARY and THE FORGOTTEN MOUNTAIN.

THE LOST CODEX comes out Nov 7th. Here’s a little teaser…
codexteaser3Catch up on the series here….
THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY can be found on Amazon (US and UK) iBooks and Kobo.

THE HIDDEN LIBRARY is available on Amazon (US and UK) Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo.

You can find THE FORGOTTEN MOUNTAIN on Goodreads, Amazon (US and UK), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.

About the Author:
Heather Lyons
Heather Lyons writes epic, heartfelt love stories and has always had a thing for words. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. She and her husband and children live in sunny Southern California and are currently working their way through every cupcakery she can find.

Catch Heather on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New