Cephalopod Coffeehouse March 2017–REVENGE OF THE EVIL LIBRARIAN

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, my favorite read was REVENGE OF THE EVIL LIBRARIAN by Michelle Knudsen. This contemporary YA romance has a whole lotta paranormal, and picks up half a year after EVIL LIBRARIAN left off. I think it’s best of you read these books in order.

About the book:
The stage is set for a fiendishly dramatic summer at theater camp for Cynthia and her boyfriend, Ryan. With no demons at all. Right?

Last fall, Cynthia Rothschild saved her best friend, as well as the entire student body, from the demon librarian, Mr. Gabriel, all while executing the most awesome set design for the school musical, Sweeney Todd. But now that all that demon stuff is behind her, Cyn is looking forward to the best summer ever at theater camp with her former-crush-and-now-boyfriend, Ryan Halsey. Once she gets to camp, though, Cyn realizes this summer might not be all she’s been hoping for. First, Ryan’s best camp friend is a girl (which Ryan had never mentioned to Cyn), and she just happens to be ridiculously pretty. Plus, it seems the demon stuff is not entirely over as Cyn had hoped. At least any new demons that show up to ruin her summer can’t possibly be as evil as Mr. Gabriel. It’s not like he could somehow come back to life to seek his terrible revenge or something. Best-selling author Michelle Knudsen brings back all the hilarity and horror (not to mention hot guys) in this sizzling sequel to Evil Librarian.

My Review:
Cynthia Rothschild is off to have a fantastic summer of theatre camp, designing sets that will (hopefully) earn her a “Tony”. Her sweet, sexy and swoony boyfriend, Ryan, has been attending this camp for years. Years! And he’s sure Cyn will love it. Except, well, he neglects to mention his camp bestie, Jules, is a beautiful, talented female lead. And, Jules isn’t best pleased to meet Cyn–especially as she and Ryan have been texting/emailning over the past seven months and Ryan didn’t think to mention Cyn, or having a girlfriend, at all.

Yeah, so, teen romance drama is on the program, naturally, but this all becomes complicated when Cyn spots a demon in residence, in fact, he’s Peter, camper-writer of the musical Cyn’s been slated to stage. Peter admits to being a demon–but a good one!–who’d never kill anyone and gains his energy from the everyday drama of human relationships. He’s getting a feast off the Cyn-Ryan-Jules thing. Also, Cyn’s demon-repelling powers are in high demand with the demoness who assisted Cyn by destroying Mr. Gabriel, the evil librarian of the first book. As much as Cyn wants to deny the possibility, the book is titled “Revenge of the Evil Librarian.” Expect Mr. Gabriel to come back. What he lacks in style and substance, he makes up for in sheer malevolence. Even Annie’s at risk again, until Cyn can come clean about all her secrets and get her friends on board for a demon-take-down.

Ryan and Cyn struggle with trust issues, Peter’s eager to step-in as Cyn’s leading man, and demons, demons, lots of scary demons. The tension isn’t quite so high as the first book in this series, but there’s a lot more of the demon world, and the stage has already been set for murder and mayhem. Ahem. I really liked how Cyn owned her foibles and gave her focus to the most important issues: saving the humans, first. The rest of the emotional problems–hurting Ryan, losing friends, keeping her sights off the sexy flirting demon playwright–had an appropriately lowered focus, so it didn’t seem cartoonish. The pace is tense, the battles are gruesome and the enemies are many and horrific. I couldn’t stop turning the pages by the end.

Interested? You can find REVENGE OF THE EVIL LIBRARIAN on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and your local library. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About Author Michelle Knudsen:
I’m the author of 45 books for young readers for all ages. Titles include the New York Times best-selling picture book Library Lion (illustrated by Kevin Hawkes), the middle-grade fantasy novels The Dragon of Trelian and The Princess of Trelian, and the YA novel Evil Librarian, which won the 2015 Sid Fleischman Award for Humor(!).

I also work as a freelance editor and private writing coach. Please visit my website to learn more if you’re interested – I especially love working with new writers! I’m also now teaching in Lesley University’s MFA program in writing for young people.

Catch up with Michelle on her website, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in my friends. Be sure to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers to see if their “best book” picks strike your fancy, too.

What’s Your Life Worth? Ask the DEBT COLLECTOR–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m reprising a review for a collection of serials I loved a few years back–and still enjoy today. DEBT COLLECTOR Season 1 by Susan Kaye Quinn is a fantastic ‘future-noir’ sci-fi/action/romance story about people who have the ability to shift life energy from one person to another. This is usually done for money, and the conflicts inherent for those who wield such ultimate power. I’ve long been a fan and friend of Ms. Quinn, having gotten hook on her Mindjacker Trilogy is Hunger Games quality political-suspense-sci-fi-action-thriller with less bloodshed. I’m bringing Debt Collector back to the blog, because it’s fab, and because it’s FREE through 3/25. THere’s even a sequel, of sorts–DEBT COLLECTOR SEASON TWO–that you can jump into if you like this one.

About the book:
What’s your life worth on the open market?
In this gritty urban fantasy, debt collectors take your life energy and give it to someone more “worthy”… all while paying the price with black marks on their souls.

Lirium plays the part of the grim reaper well, with his dark trenchcoat, jackboots, and the black marks on his soul that every debt collector carries. He’s just in it for his cut, the ten percent of the life energy he collects before he transfers it on to the high potentials, the people who will make the world a better place with their brains, their work, and their lives. That hit of life energy, a bottle of vodka, and a visit from one of Madam Anastazja’s sex workers keep him alive, stable, and mostly sane… until he collects again. But when his recovery ritual is disrupted by a sex worker who isn’t what she seems, he has to choose between doing an illegal hit for a girl whose story has more holes than his soul or facing the bottle alone—a dark pit he’s not sure he’ll be able to climb out of again.

Contains mature content and themes.

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My Review:
The Debt Collector occurs in a future L.A. where pollution and corruption are a daily menace (okay so not very different from now). Still, in this brave new world, everyone’s life’s value is constantly calculated, assessed between the amount of money you could potentially earn versus that which the person might owe. That balance is never breached—if you near the point of equilibrium your lingering life energy is drawn out by a debt collector and transferred to another person more worthy. (Kinda makes me glad my credit card debt isn’t higher, amiright?)

Lirium is a young debt collector. He’s not so keen on the job–honestly, who wants to be a grim reaper? He deals with his depression in the natural way—booze and women—until the night his hired sex worker, Elena, convinces him to give the hit of life energy he generally bestows on his partners to her ailing sister, a child suffering an incurable disease. This turn of events leads Lirium down a path he never envisioned. Unwittingly drawn into the Kolek mafia, Lirium becomes a hit man of the highest order—taking life hits from the dregs of society and selling it to mafia patrons—along with fellow debt collectors Olivia and Valac. Along the way Lirium learns that kids are being illegally transferred out, and he’s compelled to stop the mastermind.

And, did I mention there’s romance? Not the main feature, but still present and pertinent.

Omigod.

I was dying waiting for each episode to go live. Following along with the release dates was like the anticipation of a new The Walking Dead episode—especially when the best characters got killed just after I fell in love with them! As for The Debt Collector, each episode provides a satisfying arc and an excellent resolution while still propelling the overall storyline toward it’s finale. However, now that the serial is complete, you don’t have to wait any time at all to read the whole set.

Interested? You can get the complete 9 episode first season on Goodreads Amazon. It’s currently FREE!

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Making Friends With A BOY WORTH KNOWING–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a YA M/M supernatural romance from Jennifer Cosgrove. A BOY WORTH KNOWING features a socially-isolated clairvoyant high school senior, and the new boy in school who befriends him.

Catch the excerpt below and enter to win a free book in the giveaway, too!
About the book:
Ghosts can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves.

Seventeen-year-old Nate Shaw should know; he’s been talking to them since he was twelve. But they aren’t the only ones making his high school years a living hell. All Nate wants is to keep his secret and keep his head down until he can graduate. That is, until the new boy, James Powell, takes a seat next to him in homeroom. James not only notices him, he manages to work his way into Nate’s life. But James has issues of his own.

Between dead grandmother and living aunt, Nate has to navigate the fact that he’s falling in love with his only friend, all while getting advice from the most unusual places.

Ghosts, bullies, first love: it’s a lot to deal with when you’re just trying to survive senior year.

How about a little taste?

James didn’t bail in the upcoming week. Or the one after. And Horror Movie Sunday seemed to be well on its way to becoming a thing. I’d gotten better at ignoring the ever-present shade of James’s brother, mostly because all of my attention was on James. Yeah, it was bad. Really bad. I was setting myself up for disappointment, but my heart didn’t seem to give a damn what my head said.

That was unbelievably sappy. I had a huge crush on my only friend, and I didn’t know what to do about it except ignore it. Sounded like a plan.

At least at first. I calmed down a bit and kept the awkward at bay as we spent more time together. It became a regular thing to text each other stupid stuff before bedtime, when we’d talk about anything and everything. The regularity of it made the butterflies calm down when I saw him in person during the day.

Then one Saturday, he asked if he could stay over. I didn’t ask why, but I got the impression something had happened at home, and he wasn’t ready to tell me. And I had no idea if I should ask. Was it really my business?

James walked in without knocking—that had gone by the wayside a few weeks before—and plopped down in a kitchen chair. He looked utterly miserable.

“Hey.” God, what had happened? His voice was flat and even his hair looked dejected. Should I say something or let it go? I just wanted to be a good friend.

“Um. Hey.” Very eloquent, Nate. You suck.

James looked up, smiling weakly. The reflection off his glasses made it hard to see his eyes, but they seemed to look okay. Maybe they weren’t as sad as they were a moment before. The smile fell away, but he didn’t look quite as bad as when he’d walked through the door. “Sorry, not having a good day.”

Ask. Don’t ask. Ask. Don’t— Oh, the hell with it. “What’s going on? You want to talk about it?” God, I was terrible at these kinds of situations.

He looked up at me, and for one horrifying moment, I thought he was going to cry. His mouth did a weird crinkly thing that I never wanted to see again. James looked away

and took a few deep breaths, obviously trying to get himself back under control. He took his glasses off and swiped at his eyes with his sleeve. “Sorry.”

I wavered for a few seconds before pulling out the chair across from him and sitting down. Deep breath. “Look, there’s obviously something going on. You don’t have to tell me, but I just want you to know that you can. If you want to.” Where did that come from?

“Nate, I—” He looked down at his hands, picking at the edge of a thumbnail.

A movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention; his brother’s ghost was standing there, looking at me. Expectantly. Like I was supposed to know what to do. I blew out a breath and waited. I wasn’t going to push.

Finally, James gave me a small smile. I breathed a sigh of relief; he wasn’t ready to talk about it, and I wasn’t quite prepared to help him. “No, I’m—I’m good. Thanks again for letting me stay here tonight.”

Relief washed over me. “So, what do you want to do?”

My Review:
Nate Shaw is a high school outcast, ostracized by his schoolmates and his own mother–all because he sees and speaks with ghosts. It’s a lonely life for Nate, living with his aunt and having no friends in his small Ohio town. He’s got a good sense of humor and he’s endearingly sweet, despite his busted heart.

James is a new student and immediately turns to Nate for friendship; the mean girls want a piece of James, but he’s not interested. His family relocated from Cincinnati after James’ brother David was killed in a car wreck. Nate’s intrigued by James, and wary of David’s ghost who clings to James like a glowing shadow. James is a kind boy, who seems to want friendship with Nate, for reasons Nate cannot fathom, but he’s eager to make the most of this opportunity. And it doesn’t hurt that James is good looking, smart and loves old school slasher flicks just like Nate.

Over time, James spends more time at Nate’s home than his own, and he begins to confide in Nate regarding David’s death. Nate feigns surprise, mostly because David had already told him the sordid tale, trying to get Nate to dissuade James from searching for motives and a possible cover-up. He’s a grief-stricken kid, wishing someone besides David was responsible for David’s death. Nate is a great friend to James, and harbors a quiet crush. It’s rather deflating when James starts dating a girl, though. Well, until James learns that Nate is interested.

This is a sweet and mostly innocent YA romance with lots of supernatural elements, because Nate meets several ghosts in the story. I really enjoyed the snappy prose and self-deprecation. Nate’s a survivor of sorts, and totally admirable. James makes some missteps, mostly because he’s oblivious–according to David’s ghost. The characters all come off as decent people, excepting the mean girls and Nate’s ridiculous mother. It was an interesting twist that Nate’s mom kicked him out for speaking with the dead, not his sexuality. That said, it’s a good read with a very happy ending. It’s “mostly” innocent, because James and Nate spend a little bit of time making out, and a very little bit of time exploring each other sexually–like a page or two. It’s all teen appropriate, and the respectful way they treat each other–and the adults treat them–will be appealing for all readers. I really liked this one, and would definitely recommend it for readers who enjoy teen romance, and positive diverse books.

Interested? You can find A BOY WORTH KNOWING on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Jennifer Cosgrove has always been a voracious reader and a well-established geek from an early age. She loves comics, movies, and anything that tells a compelling story. When not writing, she likes knitting, dissecting/arguing about movies with her husband, and enjoying the general chaos that comes with having kids.

Catch up with Jennifer online on her website, twitter, and Goodreads.

Simple Math of LEANING INTO THE FALL–Review, Interview and Giveaway!

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a new M/M romance from Lane Hayes. LEANING INTO THE FALL is the second book in her Leaning In series, and pairs an awkward computer genius with an older, discriminating vintner. I really enjoyed watching these guys get together.

Scroll down for an interview, excerpt and to enter to win a $25 GC.
About the book:
Nick Jorgensen is a quirky genius. He’s made a fortune in the competitive high tech field with his quick mind and attention to detail. He believes in hard work and trusting his gut. And he believes in karma. It’s the only thing that makes sense. People are difficult, but numbers never lie. In the disastrous wake of a broken engagement to an investor’s daughter, Nick is more certain than ever he isn’t relationship material.

Wes Conrad owns a thriving winery in Napa Valley. The relaxed atmosphere is a welcome departure from his former career as a high-rolling businessman. Wes’s laid-back nature is laced with a fierceness that appeals to Nick. In spite of his best intention to steer clear of complications, Nick can’t fight his growing attraction to the sexy older man who seems to understand him. Even the broken parts he doesn’t get himself. However, when Wes’s past collides with Nick’s present, both men will have to have to decide if they’re ready to lean into the ultimate fall.

Random fun bits from author Lane Hayes!

Leaning Into the Fall is book 2 in my new series set in San Francisco. This story belongs to Nick and Wes, the uptight genius and the laid-back businessman. Or the Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a Napa Valley winery owner, respectively. If you’ve read my short story, Leaning Into Love, you may remember Nick as Eric’s best friend. He’s a little brash and unpredictable, but ultimately he’s a very special guy with a very unique perspective on life.

And speaking of unique perspectives, here’s a quick Q&A with some exciting topics to give you a little insight about me. LOL! Enjoy!

1. On a scale of 1 to 10 how “cool” are you?
2…LOL. No, I’ll myself a 5. Depending upon whom you ask, the answer would vary. I’m not into trends but I try to stay informed. But I’ve given up keeping my “cool”-ness on point. I am who I am.

2. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
15 minutes tops! I can do it in 5 if necessary. ☺

3. What is the one thing you have always wanted to do?
Write a book. Done! Now I’d like to write 50 books and make a movie or ten out of them. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

4. What TV sitcom family would you be a member of?
I always wished I could be an honorary member of the Brady Bunch. *sigh

5. What store do you shop at the most?
Trader Joe’s! Gotta feed my peeps!

6. What is the most delightful word you can think of?
Serendipity.

7. What is your least favorite beverage?
Any carbonated drink. I’m not a fan of soda at all.

8. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
I notice how people carry themselves, regardless of whether they’re male or female. You can tell so much from the set of someone’s shoulders and whether they’re willing to make eye contact. And if they smile, they’ve generally made a good impression on me. ☺

9. What was your favorite book growing up?
Nancy Drew books. I’m a proud owner of the first sixty books of the series!

Thank you for having me on your blog today! Happy Reading!
Lane Hayes xo

How about a little taste?

Wes led me to a small room at the opposite end of the building filled with barrels. The temperature dipped at least ten degrees here and the strong scent of fermenting wine was offset by the smell of oak. I moved toward the round table in the middle and glanced up at the tower of barrels. Each was labeled and dated, but as far as I could tell, the order wasn’t chronological. I categorized and filed the numbers in my mind in an attempt to solve a mystery that probably wasn’t so mysterious after all.

“These are special reserve wines. The best of the best. Theoretically anyway,” Wes said, picking up the long-sleeved plaid shirt draped over one of the chairs at the table.

“What do the numbers mean?” I asked, running my fingers over the printed tag on the barrel.

“It’s an internal code that basically tells us exactly which vines yielded the harvest. Some have information about soil disruption or weather flux. Of course, once the wine is fermenting that information is no longer significant but—”

“Where are the dates on these labels? Isn’t timing everything in the wine business?”

“Some might argue timing is everything in every facet of life.” Wes regarded me curiously before pointing out the dates in the middle of the tag. “It’s all here. See?”

“I don’t understand your system,” I said, stuffing my hands in my back pocket and staring up at the barrels.

“It’s an internal system. You’re not meant to understand. It’s for us only. The same way you wouldn’t explain the science behind how an advanced operating system works to one of your clients. They might say they’re fascinated but they aren’t really interested in the details. Same goes for wine. People come to tour the winery every day. They want to know about grape varietals and blends and some even ask about topography, weather and the fermentation process. But the true science of wine making confounds them. At the end of the day, truth is in the bottle.”

In vino veritas.

Wes smiled as he pulled his shirt on. “’In wine, truth’,” he translated. “Different context, but yes… truth. Are you going to tell me why you’re here or do I have to break out a bottle of Pinot to get the real story?”

Wes’s wolfish grin spread slowly across his handsome face as he closed the distance between us. He tilted my chin with his forefinger and stared deep into my eyes as though he was trying to read my mind. Or devour me whole.

“You look like you want to eat me,” I said before I could stop myself.

“I do. I want to do lots of things to you. Is that why you’re here? You want me to eat you, Nicky?”

“You invited me.” My eyes drifted shut when he ran his fingers along my jaw then splayed his hand behind my head and tugged my hair.

“I did. I’m glad you came.”

“Well, we were in the middle of listing our all-time favorite bands or artists by decade. That’s not the kind of thing you can leave for a whole week. It’s important.”

“You’re right. What were we thinking?” He licked my bottom lip in a sensual line from one corner of my mouth to the other. “We’ll have to continue that discussion later. I want to do other things first.”

My Review:
Nick Jorgenson is a 30 y/o computer programmer, and CEO of a tech security firm he started out of college with his best-friend and once-boyfriend Eric. Eric is president of the company, and they are really doing great. The business is booming, and Nick’s on the edge of a breakthrough in his new cybersecurity algorithm. Personally, however, Nick’s a bit of a mess.

He’s quietly jealous of Eric’s happy-shiny marriage to one of their college buddies, and he’s disgruntled that his own engagement to the daughter of one of his financial backers fell through. He’s got ten cases of very expensive personalized wine in his office that he’s tried, unsuccessfully, to return to the Conrad Winery–where Nick had made his ill-fated proposal. The bottles were meant to be favors for the wedding that wasn’t, and Nick thinks they are bringing bad ju-ju to his creative process. Nick is a socially-awkward, borderline Asperger’s, superstitious man, who’s edge of brilliance is sometimes overshadowed by his inability to relate to “normal” humans. He knows and owns this, and yet it still gets him tearing off to Napa with his pristine Range Rover filled with pinot bottles.

Wes Conrad isn’t amused at his wine being returned for the fourth time. He’s not going to accept it back, re-label it, and re-sell it, no matter what nonsense the sexy younger man is spouting about “starting over with a clean slate.” When Nick’s car is wrecked and the bottles are a total loss, however, Wes does help him out with clean clothes, and well, a little bit of masculine affection.

Nick’s turned on and turned inside out by Wes’ tough loving. He’s never been with a man bigger, or stronger, than himself. And, he finds that he likes a little bit of rough play. Not that it’ll happen again. Except, they run into each other at a private benefit in San Francisco and it’s even better. So much so that Nick takes Wes’ invitation to visit the winery again to heart. And he does. They’re “friends with benefits” relationship seems to overtake Nick’s progress on his algorithm, and there’s a lot of paranoia building regarding competitors and their proximity to Nick, Wes and other players in their business. It turns out that Wes had a tech firm a decade before and one of Nick’s biggest competitors had made it a hard row to hoe–so much that Wes sold out and bought the winery with his best friend and former lover.

There is a whole lot going on in the book, but the center of it is always Nick and his struggles to be who he is. Wes is excellent at accepting Nick and his idiosyncrasies–even when Nick is intolerant of himself. Nick really struggles with balance; he’s impulsive and manic and all-in on things before he even knows what he’s agreed to. He has a dedicated set of friends, who care a great deal for him, and Wes is a patient and tender man, who guides Nick into seeing that he can have a good, satisfying life, if he just backs away from his blind ambition a little.

I didn’t read the first book in this series, but it wasn’t necessary to enjoy this one. There is a sweet collection of college friends, including Eric and Nick, who each seem to find the man of their dreams–so I expect that’s what’s going to happen going forward. I loved falling with Wes and Nick, and I look forward to watching the next romance unfold.

Interested? You can find LEANING INTO THE FALL on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Catch up with Lane on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Getting Trapped in THE DEEP END–A Review

facebookdeependHi there! I’m sharing a review for a new erotic romance from best-selling author Kristen Ashley. THE DEEP END is the first book in her Honey series and has all the hotness and all the sweetness and all the sexytimes.

deepend_highresAbout the book:
Enter a decadent sensual world where gorgeous alpha males are committed to fulfilling a woman’s every desire…
Olivier isn’t sure what he’s gotten himself into when he joins the Honey Club, only that a dark part of him hungers for the lifestyle offered by this exclusive club. Here, no boundary will be left untested…and one’s deepest fantasies will become an exquisite reality.

When Amélie invites Olivier to surrender, she gives the alpha submissive what he craves. Soon they both find themselves falling harder than they ever anticipated—but as their connection deepens, the truth about Olivier’s past could destroy everything…

Gripping and seductive, The Deep End is the first book in a sensational new series from bestselling author Kristen Ashley.

How about a little taste?

She turned back to him. “You seem to have a good deal of stamina.”

“Amelie…Mistress, I don’t think you’re getting’ that I seriously find you not hard on the eyes.”

She bent closer, as intended for this part of their session, some of her fair falling on his chest in another caress. She did this letting her amusement show, if not all of the emotion she felt at his compliment.

“I wonder, mon chou, if you think you can butter me up with compliments.”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Though not sure why I’d bother since I didn’t give you one and you just made me shoot a huge-ass load the like that have never come from my cock.”

“And he gives another compliment,” she said through a smile.

“You earn it, I’ll say it, he replied, his lips twitching. “That is, if I’m physically capable of speech.”

She was still smiling when she reached out a hand and delicately traced circles around his nipple.

His eyes darkened.

Her good humor increased.

“You’re of course aware I should do something about you being so audaciously cheeky.”

Another darkness crossed his face. “What?”

“I shouldn’t allow you to be cheeky with me.”

“Cheeky?”

“Impudent,” she explained.

The look fled. “You mean, in uppity, hot-chick speak, a wise-ass.”

Amelie couldn’t help it, she laughed softly.

“She’s got a pretty laugh, too, to go with that pretty accent,” he murmured and she saw his eyes on her lips.

I could get lost in this one, she thought. Lost and never found.

My Review:
Amelie is a well-respected Domme searching for an alpha submissive to play with. She’s intrigued by the newest “toy” at the Honey Club, a big, brooding man called Olivier. One look and she knows she must have him–at least for one night.

So she takes him, and gives him exactly what he’s been searching for: a worthy Mistress to submit to. This book is all about finding your way, even when it’s not what you expect. Olivier has long believed his desire to be a submissive renders him weak, and he’s struggled to build any lasting relationships as a result; he just can’t articulate his needs. He got some advice from a good friend who owns a kink club, and sought out Mistress Amelie, recognizing that her reputation was absolutely deserved. Still, Olivier cut corners in order to get his membership the the Honey, and that he has minimal experience in BDSM and kink put him at risk for abuse. Amelie isn’t that kind of Domme, but she does make assumptions that Olivier can’t quite handle.

These two get on like a house on fire, when they aren’t burning themselves to ashes. Amelie wants a partner, and Olivier wants a partner, but neither can see that they need to talk it out more, because their chemistry is so in sync. It took me a while to warm to Amelie, and it wasn’t because she’s hard. She’s just a super thinker. Like, she thinks and thinks and considers and mulls, and rambles. Being in her head didn’t connect for me, at first. Not until she started to think about other people besides her own self, her desires and her needs. She seemed one-dimensional, for about the first third of the book, but then she really put her focus on Olivier, and her friends, and I could see through her veneer and recognize she’s just a self-isolating character. That she’d been hurt badly, and struggled to open herself up to further vulnerability, until she began falling for Olivier.

Olivier is conflicted throughout most of the book. He thinks he needs to conform to a hetero-normative, masculine ideal. His emotional needs are also complicated by his fear of being “less than” due to having less money than his dear Amelie. I liked how his father really set him straight. I also liked how Olivier owned his mistakes, and his hot-temper, and made amends for how he goes off at times. Their language and thought patterns are so different, which made being in their headspaces very interesting.

As for sexytimes, whoa. There are lots and they are intense. Amelie is a creative Mistress, and she know how to ring Olivier’s bell. Over and over and over again. Olivier is a fun guy to observe, as he’s so open and in your face, and so absolutely grateful to Amelie for wringing him inside out and sideways. While I felt it started slow, I was turning the pages double-time by the end. There’s some background shenanigans that cause distress later–with a rogue Domme harming her “toys”. Because Amelie steps in she becomes a target. I liked how all this played out, and how it set up a few jumping off points for new books in this series. I expect new books will feature new couples, and I’d be eager to follow their stories, too. Amelie and Olivier cement a complete HEA, and their kinky ways are sure to please fans of erotic or BDSM romance.

Interested? You can find THE DEEP END on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, IndieBound, and BAM.

kristen-ashley-headshotAbout the Author:
Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorize and she hadn’t taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen’s Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning.

Nothing’s changed.

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she’s blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better. Catch up with Kristen on her website, Facebook, twitter, sign up for her newsletter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram.

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Coming Together: HERE FOR US–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M/M menage romance from A. M. Arthur. HERE FOR US is a new spin off from her Perspectives series, but can be fully enjoyed on it’s own.

Like THE WORLD AS HE SEES IT, THE TRUTH AS HE KNOWS IT, and THE HEART AS HE HEARS IT, this book features a small-time gay porn actor finding a new life and a true love–but this time he finds two!

Catch the excerpt and enter to win a $25 GC to Amaonz or Barnes & Noble in the giveaway below.

About the book:
Cris Sable doesn’t walk into popular gay bar Big Dick’s expecting to find more than a casual hookup, so he’s surprised by his instant attraction and intense chemistry with go-go dancer Jake. Jake’s sexy as hell and a firecracker in bed. The sparks between them are undeniable, and what starts as a hookup evolves into something deeper, possibly permanent—until Jake dumps Cris flat on his ass for no good reason.

Angry and confused, Cris finds comfort with his longtime friend and employer Charles “Chet” Greenwood. Cris’s emotional state stirs up Charles’s long-buried feelings for Cris. Feelings he’s denied for eight years, because Cris is his employee and therefore off limits—not to mention two decades younger than Charles. Cris admits he has feelings for Charles, too, but he’s still getting over Jake and both men agree nothing can happen between them while Charles is still Cris’s boss.

Jake Bowden knows he doesn’t have anything to offer a guy. He’s a go-go dancer with no degree and no real career aspirations. He’s also used to everyone who loves him leaving, so it makes sense to cut Cris loose before things get too serious. Cris is kind, passionate and totally deserves a guy like Charles—wealthy, owns a home, successful businessman. Jake can’t compete so why bother? They’re better off together. But when Jake has a serious personal crisis, Cris and Charles unite to pull him back together, and the three men discover it’s possible—maybe even inevitable—to fall in love with more than one person at a time.

How about a little taste?

I need to fucking get laid.
The thought followed Cris Sable through the heavy industrial door that hid the throbbing interior of Big Dick’s, the most popular gay nightclub in Harrisburg. The place was hard to find if you didn’t know where it was, or if you didn’t know the big muscle bear sitting by the entrance was a bouncer. Cris hadn’t been to the club in over a year, mostly by choice, but tonight he needed something.
Definitely a drink, although he’d have to limit himself now that he was functioning with one kidney. And, if possible, he wanted to leave with a willing ass to fuck. It had been a long dry spell.
A dry spell of his own making, but still, a guy had needs, and he wasn’t looking to get his needs met by a woman tonight. Tonight he needed dick.
He eased his way over to the bar and ordered a margarita on the rocks. Something he could work his way through slowly. The club was in full swing, bodies gyrating on the dance floor, men dry humping their way through the evening. Soon early morning. At the rear of the dance floor, six go-go dancers were on risers, each decked out in one color of the rainbow. Barely-there briefs in a solid color, sparkle body paint all over their chests and legs, and some dancers even had colorful streaks in their hair. Monday was theme night for the go-go dancers, which explained why there were so many. On the other nights of the week that Cris had visited, the club usually only had three dancers.
Cris zeroed in on the dancer in blue. He loved the color blue, and this kid was pretty fucking hot in a royal blue thong, with blue swirls across his pecs and shoulders. Something kind of tribal and arty. He spun around to shake his ass, showing off very taut blue-painted cheeks. Even from the distance, he was cute. The kind of cute Cris liked to wrangle around in bed and fuck through the mattress.
Occasionally, a hand would rise from the crowd with money in it, and the blue dancer squatted low enough for the money to be tucked away in their underwear. Very strip club-esque, but Big Dick’s had a strict policy about not touching the dancers for longer than it took to tip them.
He scanned the other dancers’ faces and froze solid at the guy at the end. Despite the yellow paint, Cris knew that nearly naked body intimately enough to see past the costume and recognize Colby. Not his real name, and Cris didn’t know what it was, but they’d filmed together at Mean Green Boys roughly two years ago. Colby was only with the company for a few months before he quit to be with his boyfriend.
Cris had been intensely jealous at the time. At twenty-eight years old, he’d failed to find and maintain a serious relationship for longer than six months. And even that relationship had imploded when she found out he did gay porn. Okay, so he shouldn’t have kept that a secret for so long. He’d been so damned happy to find someone who understood and accepted he was bisexual that he’d been scared to destroy it too soon by admitting to the porn.
But secrets never did a relationship any good, and Lily had dumped his ass hard.
He’d taken a two year hiatus from porn after that, hoping to try and rebuild his flailing love life, before returning to Mean Green. The studio owner, Chet Green, was one of his closest friends—hence the very secret reason for his single remaining kidney.
“Hello, gorgeous.” A slinky number in leather pants and a silver mesh shirt slid up to Cris at the bar. Cute, kohl-lined eyes, plump lips that promised they knew how to suck a dick.
Cris grinned. “Who, me?”
“Oh, honey, we both know you’re the sexiest thing in the club tonight.” A warm arm draped over his shoulders. “Name’s Luke.”
“Cris.”
“Hmm, I think you look more like a Vincent.”
Cris tensed. No fucking way could this random guy know who he was. There was no hint of malice in his easy grin, no sign the name was anything other than a really good guess. Cris came from an Italian family from Long Island, and the genes were pretty strong. He’d rid himself of his identifying accent years ago, though, thank Christ.
“Or Vincenzo, or Anthony,” the kid said, oblivious to Cris’s racing thoughts.
“Well, it’s Cris.” Rude, fine, but he’d lost any interest in Luke. Cristian Sable was his identity now. “See you around.”
Cris pushed away from the bar and eased his way into the crowd occupying the fringes of the dance floor. A few blatant offers came his way, but Cris turned them all down. He didn’t realize he’d inched closer to the risers and his blue dancer until the guy was less than ten feet away.
Blue had a face that was both easygoing and sharp. He was enjoying himself without totally letting his guard down. And he was hella cute. Fuckable for sure.
Bodies danced frenetically all around him, allowing Cris to stay close to the wall and shift nearer to Blue. Someone held up a bill between two fingers. Blue wiggled his hips and squatted low so the money could be tucked into his g-string. The triangle of blue material held a very promising package for a smaller guy.
Blue blew a kiss to his patron, then spun in an ass-wiggling circle. His dark gaze roamed the crowd, then paused on Cris. An unexpected thrill shot through him. Some sort of instinctive acknowledgement of the man on the stage, as if they’d been waiting to meet. Blue held eye contact; Cris drew out a long, lazy smile. Blue cocked his head, winked, and then kept dancing. Cris stayed in his spot. Every few minutes, Blue glanced his way. Right into his eyes.
Target acquired.
The dancers came and went from the risers, likely taking breaks in between sets. When Blue winked again and disappeared, Cris had half a mind to try and find him. Except he didn’t work at the club, and he had no real excuse to get backstage. Cris sipped his watered-down margarita and watched the eye candy on display. The gorgeous men, the throbbing music, and the heady scents of sweat and sex worked their magic on Cris, and he was half-hard by the time a brown-haired kid with a smear of blue under both eyes sidled up next to him.
Cris studied the familiar face, now scrubbed clean except for those two very appealing smudges. His hair maintained hints of blue glitter. He’d covered that amazing body with jeans and a white sleeveless tee, but this was Cris’s dancer. Blue.
“You off the clock?” Cris asked.
“Yup.” He grabbed Cris’s glass and finished it off with a smirk that did funny things to Cris’s balls. “Damn, I think I owe you a drink.”
He laughed. “Cris.”
“Jake.” He snagged Cris’s belt and tugged him toward the bar.
The forwardness was a huge fucking turn on, and Cris’s cock was at full mast by the time they reached the bar. An older man in a sparkly vest smiled at them.
“Two margaritas on the rocks,” Jake said. “My tab.”
“On it,” the bartender said.
Cris rested one hand on Jake’s lower back, and he was surprised by the tiny thrill that vibrated up his arm. Jake pressed into his touch, eyelids fluttering as if he’d felt something similar. Cris leaned in to whisper in his ear, “Blue is my favorite color.”
Jake looked up, big brown eyes glimmering with mischief. “Oh yeah?”
“Definitely. It looks good on you.”
“Know what else would look good on me?”
Cris saw the flirty line coming, but he played along. “What’s that?”
“You.”
He nuzzled Jake’s ear with his nose. “I agree.”
The bartender slid their drinks over. Jake gulped his, while Cris only sipped. And studied his future sex partner. A good six inches shorter than him, and slimmer all over. Dance-honed muscles. Tight jeans that did nothing to hide his erection. A very One Direction boyish hotness about him that made Cris want to fuck him senseless.
“I’d ask if you want to dance,” Jake said, “but you didn’t bust a move all night.”
“Not much of a dancer.”
“No good?”
“I’m plenty good.” Cris put a little leer into those words. “But I don’t like using dancing as foreplay. I’d rather play in private.”

My Review:
Cris has been a on-again/off-again porn star working for Chet Green of Mean Green Boys producions for eight years. He’s really loved working with Chet. Their relationship is cordial and caring, without ever being intimate–despite how attracted both men feel for the other. Chet is 48, and doesn’t want to be a letch. Cris is 28, and has a complicated family history–so much so that he’s had plastic surgery to change his appearance and changed his name before ever meeting Chet.

Cris and Chet think they have no way forward, and Cris is determined to find someone to start a life with; now that he’s accepted his bisexuality, he wants a partner. His last girlfriend left because of the porn–and that hurt bad. Cris meets Jake, a go-go dancer at a popular gay bar and they hit it off immediately, but Jake’s a troubled young man, who’s been abandoned enough to fiercely guard his heart. He makes mistakes that Cris forgives, but Jake soon recognizes that Chet is likely a better match for Cris than a 23 year old soon-to-be-homeless go-go dancer.

For Cris, he’s amazed to realize he’s got a strong connection to Chet and Jake, and he agonizes on how to reconcile this. It’s not fair to him that Chet and Jake both decide for him that he should pursue the other man–and Cris only barely forges a connection with Chet before everything explodes again, and Jake needs more TLC than Cris alone can provide. This is a menage, but it doesn’t start that way. There is a physical connection with Cris and Jake, and an emotional connection with Cris and Chet, but both Chet and Jake recognize they aren’t being fair to Cris, and they develop a rapport, as well.

The relationship building isn’t instinctive, but these guys–toward the very end–decide to see if they can tolerate being together, for each other, in ways they hadn’t considered before. It’s a bit fun and exciting sexually, for all of them, but there’s also a lot of emotional investment. I liked how that developed, and I can see there is more to come for these guys in another story. We still don’t know enough about Cris’ dark past, and these guys have only begun their journey of intimacy, so I look forward to seeing all that play out. This is a new spin-off series from previous books the author has written. There are plenty of appearances from previous characters, which is rather nice, and soothing.

Interested? You can find HERE FOR US on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 gc to Amazon of Barnes & Noble.
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.

Looking Past the GHOSTS & ASHES–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new M/M YA Sci-Fi adventure from F. T. Lukens. GHOSTS & ASHES is the sequel to the phenomenal THE STAR HOST, and should be read in order. This space opera features a technopathic boy trying to find his family a year after he’d been captured, tortured and escaped–and the military recruit who will sacrifice anything to keep him safe.

Catch an excerpt below and register to win a $25 GC or one of five ebooks.
About the book:
Three months have passed since the events of The Star Host, and Ren is living aboard the Star Stream under the watchful eyes of the Phoenix Corps. Plagued by vivid nightmares that ravage the ship in his sleep, he struggles to prove he isn’t a threat and fears he has traded one captor for another. His relationship with Asher, whose efforts to balance his personal loyalty to Ren with his professional duties to the Corps are failing, fractures.

Adrift without an anchor, Ren must return to his home planet of Erden if he has any chance of reversing his dangerous descent into madness. There, he hopes search for his missing brother and salvage his relationship with Asher. What he nds is knowledge that puts everyone’s allegiance to the test.

How about a little taste?

Ren sighed. Asher wanted to talk, and Ren’s insides ached with a fierce loneliness he hadn’t experienced since the first night in the cell of the Baron’s citadel. He didn’t want Asher’s words or his pity. And he didn’t want to relive the details of the nightmare, which had sent him twisting in his sheets and crawling across the floor. The sense memories clung to him, like cobwebs whose phantom threads, fluttery and strange and stubborn, brushed against his skin. The strands were infinite; they touched the deep places of Ren’s consciousness and burrowed down to his marrow to pull out the things that terrified him most.
He didn’t want to share the nightmare, but Asher’s flat countenance and sure gaze couldn’t hide his worry. It flashed in his eyes and ran in shaky tremors down the length of his crossed arms, as if he hugged himself to keep in his concerns and not as a defense to reflect whatever Ren had to throw at him.
Ren bent his knees, propped his arm up, and allowed his fingertips to dangle. Sweat flattened his hair against his temples. He regarded Asher coolly as Asher sat on the edge of Ren’s bunk.
“Do you remember when we went dancing?”
Asher blinked at the non-sequitur. “On Mykonos?”
Rowan had taken them dancing in a place with loud music and rotating lights. The beat had vibrated through Ren’s boots. “I had never been dancing like that before.”
Asher raised an eyebrow. “You weren’t bad. Well, not as bad as Jakob.”
“I liked the slow dance.” Asher had grabbed Ren in his arms and pulled him to the dance floor. They’d laughed and moved and all Ren’s worries had dissolved in happiness and the rhythm of the music. “I liked being with you. With the crew. I miss that.”
“We’re here now, Ren.”
He shook his head. “No. You’re not. It’s different now.”
“It doesn’t have to be.”
Ren looked away.
“Ren, you’re not okay,” he said flatly.
“No. I’m not, but I didn’t feel like broadcasting it.”
“It’s a little late for that,” Asher said softly. Ren’s stomach twisted. Asher had all but confirmed his latest nightmare had played on the vid screens. The crew had seen what Ren couldn’t remember, didn’t want to remember. “You’re getting worse. And they know it.”
Ren twisted his lips. “I’m aware the crew already knows. Pen can’t lie for anything.”
“Not them. The Corps.”
Ren rested his head on his knees. “You told her. You threw me to the wolves.”
“I had to.”
“Why? Do you want me to leave? Be locked away?”
“Stars, Ren. You know I don’t want that.”
“I don’t know what you want, to be honest. I don’t understand why you hold allegiance to them at all.”
“Because I have to. I promised five years.”
“You and your promises,” Ren said bitterly. That was loyalty Ren couldn’t understand, not after what the Corps had done to Asher, not after having left him for a year to rot in a cell on what they called a backwater planet. But Ren was beginning to realize there were things he would never understand and maybe wasn’t meant to.
“And I promised I’d keep you safe. Any way I could. This is the only way. Don’t you understand that?”
Ren felt the slight touch of Asher’s fingertips across the back of his hand. His star sparked and sought out the mechanism in Asher’s shoulder instinctually.
Asher shivered.
“There’s a fine line between safety and captivity.”

My Review:
This is the second book in a series and best enjoyed when read in order.

Ren is a star host, a person who can control technology using his mind. He has the ability to mentally fuse with any electrical gadget, no matter how big or small, and can fix most any broken appliance with a touch. In the first book, he had been captured and tortured for this ability, as Baron Vos sought to bend Ren to his control as a weapon. Ren joined with Asher, a captive member of Phoenix Corps–a form of galactic police–and they escaped the Baron’s fortress. That was just the beginning of their saga, which I’ve described in my review.

Now, however, Ren adn Asher are struggling yet again. Phoenix Corps are directly monitoring Ren’s mental and emotional state with daily reports to assess if he’s a threat. Star hosts are notorious for bonding with their machines and losing humanity altogether. It’s not been easy for Ren to stay in his body when the Star Stream, his host ship, is calling out for his loving touch. Asher has pulled away, Ren believes, and Ren can’t sleep or eat. He’s on the verge of cracking when Asher confesses Ren’s instability and urges hsi commanding officer to allow Ren to return to his home planet to get a break from teh tech surrounding him. THis is Ren’s deepest wish, too. TO investigate the fate of his parents and brother–lost to him a year ago when he was captured.

Life on Erden isn’t what it had been. Ren’s humble village had been destroyed–by the Phoenix Corps, searching for Ren and other star hosts. It’s only one stage in a centuries-long battle Ren soon learns. And it makes him even more frustrated with Asher’s devotion to their service. Still, being on the planet does help Ren return to his humanity–though it’s short-lived. Ren’s mission to find his missing brother, Liam, brings them right into Phoenix Corps deadly sights, and their quest reunites Ren and Asher with their previous captors. Only this time, Baron Vos isn’t the only enemy to fear.

The pace of the story is excellent. Ren’s confusion and struggle to remain human is easy to understand. His hurt over Asher’s decisions, and coldness, is palpable. Their trust has been broken, but they still need to rely on one another to survive each challenge–and it gets really challenging. The sci-fi elements are engaging and accessible, even for people who don’t enjoy sci-fi, per se. Asher and Ren are a couple, to a degree, and there is a little bit of kissing and connection, but nothing to even blush over. This book is all about the action, and Ren’s quest to live as normal a life as possible as a star host. He’s convinced his brother is being held captive–confirmed by telepathic communication–and Ren is going to rescue Liam no matter what. Even if Asher stands against him. That’s an admirable stand, and Ren’s an admirable young man. Asher’s motives are often int he shadows, but his intent is to protect Ren, even from Ren’s instincts. The conflict is high, and the stakes are life/death/freedom, so it’s pretty intense.

Do not expect this story to end with this book. We are on a long story arc that leads Ren on many adventures. I liked where this ended, and I’m anxious to get the next book in the series. Highly recommend to folks who like sci-fi, and readers who want diverse characters.

Interested? You can find GHOSTS & ASHES on Goodreads, Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Book Depository, IndieBound and Google Play.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 GC from Interlude Press or an ebook of GHOSTS & ASHES.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
F.T. wrote her first short story when she was in third grade and her love of writing continued from there. After placing in the top five out of ten thousand entries in a writing contest, she knew it was time to dive in and try her hand at writing a novel.

A wife and mother of three, F.T. holds degrees in psychology and English literature, and is a long-time member of her college’s science-fiction club. F.T. has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and science-fiction novels—especially anything by Douglas Adams.

Connect with F.T. on her website, Twitter, Tumblr and on Goodreads.