Getting Past One’s OVERSIGHT–A Review

Hi there! Happy Halloween, y’all! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M paranormal mystery/romance from Santino Hassell. OVERSIGHT is the second book in his The Community series and features an empath on the hunt for answers about his brother’s disappearance. We met Holden Payne INSIGHT, when he sort-of helped Nate Black learn the truth of his twin’s death. I’ve loved Hassell’s contemporary romances, SUNSET PARK, FIRST AND FIRST, and INTERBOROUGH, and I”m glad I jumped into this new series.

About the book:
Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.
Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

My Review:
Holden Payne’s world view got skewed when he realized his father had placed people in his club, a supposedly safe space for LGBTQ psychics, in order to spot their powers and take them for experimentation. And now he fears his father, the highest member of the Community’s organization, is going to frame him for the problems. Holden’s friends were murdered, and his half-brother Chase was picked up for “realignment” at The Farm, and Holden’s beside himself.

It doesn’t help that his father has placed another spy in his club to keep his eyes on Holden. Sixtus Rossi spent a decade as a guard up at the Farm, a place Holden remembers going as a youth. It was supposed to be another safe space, where young psychics could learn their craft and become more adept to blending into society, but –Holden is now learning–it’s really a reprogramming center where undesirables are sent to have their outlook rewired through torture. And Chase, as well as HOlden’s mother, is there.

Through mutual friends of Chase and Holden, Holden learns of the true nature of the Community, to amass power by psychic means, and Six is always watching his back. Is he reporting back to Holden’s father? Or, is he just curious. Six has an Invulnerable mind, one even Holden’s empath charms cannot work on, so the attraction that seems to develop must be all-natural. And that’s unsettling. Holden first wants to trade favors with Six for any information he can provide on Chase, but Six disabuses him of this possibility. Six might be inexperienced, but he’s not a prostitute. And, he’s noticed Holden for years–mostly because Holden noticed him, first. They have a complicated history that’s only further complicated when Holden falls into the thinking of Ex-Comm members, psychics and their family survivors who aren’t happy with the way the Community is/has treated them. While it blows Holden’s mind, he’s also convinced it’s truth, what the Ex-Comm people have to say. And, when Chase’s boyfriend is taken to The Farm, Holden knows he can’t sit idle any longer.

There’s some daring rescues in Holden’s future, but this is the second book in what appears to be a trilogy. I loved how Holden really took his time to be won over by Ex-Comm. How he made his own investigations and tried to find reasonable channels for pursuit of Chase, before recognizing that he wasn’t dealing with a rational situation. That made this all the more real for me to believe. Six is a good foil for HOlden’s emotional extremes, as he’s a rock-solid guy who tells it EXACTLY like it is. Their courtship seemed brief, but they are working against a clock: Chase’s life is at risk, as is his mother’s life, too. There’s some great misdirection and interesting character positioning on the two factions going on here, which made the story that much more interesting. I don’t want to say too much more about the resolution, but I will say that Holden and Six come out of it a strong couple determined to defeat Holden’s father and release the iron control he’s built over the psychics of NYC.

I’m so looking forward to the next book in the series!!

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

About the Author:
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

You can find Santino online on his website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Out Now: KIDNAPPED BY THE PIRATE-Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today, I’m not sharing a spooky book, but it definitely falls into the “different” category. It’s a “bodice-ripping” harrowing tale of man love on the high seas from a fave author Keira Andrews. KIDNAPPED BY THE PIRATE brought me right back to Harlequin Romanceland, a place I enjoyed in my teens… Her swarthy captain won my heart, and that of his scared, virgin captive, Nathaniel.

Scroll down to read Chapter 1 of the book, my review, and enter to win a backlist book for Keira Andrews in the giveaway!
About the book:
Will a virgin captive surrender to this pirate’s sinful touch?
Nathaniel Bainbridge is used to hiding, whether it’s concealing his struggles with reading or his forbidden desire for men. Under the thumb of his controlling father, the governor of Primrose Isle, he’s sailing to the fledging colony, where he’ll surrender to a respectable marriage for his family’s financial gain. Then pirates strike and he’s kidnapped for ransom by the Sea Hawk, a legendary villain of the New World.

Bitter and jaded, Hawk harbors futile dreams of leaving the sea for a quiet life, but men like him don’t deserve peace. He has a score to settle with Nathaniel’s father—the very man whose treachery forced him into piracy—and he’s sure Nathaniel is just as contemptible.

Yet as days pass in close quarters, Nathaniel’s feisty spirit and alluring innocence beguile and bewitch. Although Hawk knows he must keep his distance, the desire to teach Nathaniel the pleasure men can share grows uncontrollable. It’s not as though Hawk would ever feel anything for him besides lust…

Nathaniel realizes the fearsome Sea Hawk’s reputation is largely invented, and he sees the lonely man beneath the myth, willingly surrendering to his captor body and soul. As a pirate’s prisoner, he is finally free to be his true self. The crew has been promised the ransom Nathaniel will bring, yet as danger mounts and the time nears to give him up, Hawk’s biggest battle could be with his own heart.

How about a delicious taste?

1710 

If pirates were to be the bloody, savage end of Nathaniel Bainbridge, he wished they’d get on with it.

The windswept deck was damp beneath his bare feet, prompting thoughts of the dewy grass of home. What he wouldn’t give for the freedom to run across the fields of Hollington Estate, wind rushing in his ears over the steady thump of his heart, the world falling away in his wake.

Instead he was confined by an endless, restless sea taunting him with its wildness. In England, he’d heard countless tales of villainous pirates and their dastardly deeds. People spoke as if the ocean teemed with the brigands, but the voyage had been mile after mile of…nothing.

Nathaniel shook his head at his foolishness. Not that he actually wanted pirates to attack their ship and massacre them. If only he could move, he would keep boredom at bay.

He gripped the railing, longing for dirt beneath his nails, scratches on his palms from tree bark as he climbed and explored, wonderfully aching muscles from hours in the lake. If he could only run a simple mile. Hardly any distance at all, but trapped on the ship, that much clear land would be a marvel.

He wiped sea spray from his eyes. If only the ability to run and jump and swim was worth anything at all in his world instead of being childish folly he was supposed to have outgrown. Men did not climb trees or swim for hours, and certainly they didn’t run for the sheer pleasure of it the way he had at Hollington.

Of course, the estate wasn’t theirs anymore, sold off to pay debts, so even if he made his way back to Kent one day, he would never return to those rolling hills. Its verdant trees and round, tranquil lake would now be home to another family.

No, for the foreseeable future, home would be Primrose Isle, a new colony his father desperately wanted to see flourish. Walter Bainbridge had found his fortunes in England not the least bit fortunate, and as a governor in the New World had the thing he loved most dearly: power.

Nathaniel’s future bride waited there. Elizabeth Davenport stood to inherit quite a fortune, and for the colony—and Walter—to thrive, alliances had to be made. So Nathaniel would do the only useful thing he could and marry.

He brushed a fresh spray of briny seawater from his face as he stared out at the endless night, keeping a firm hold on the rail. His untucked shirt flapped in the breeze, the lower fastenings on his breeches unbuckled under his knees.

In the dark, there was no one to comment on his state of undress, and he supposed the crew didn’t care a whit anyway. His trimmed hair curled at the ends in the dampness, and he tucked a lock behind his ear. It had been his little act of rebellion to cut it much shorter than most gentlemen. He certainly wouldn’t be wearing dreaded wigs, either, if he could help it.

Clouds conspired to hide the stars and razor-thin crescent of moon. He shivered in the late September night’s chill; he really should have worn his hated shoes and jacket.

At least the wind was no longer the bitter cold of the mid-Atlantic as they neared the West Indies. He shifted back and forth on his feet, lifting them like a racehorse stamping at the starting line.

The Proud William was fairly large, a merchant ship carrying a cargo of salt fish and forged metal tools to the colonies. But when he’d attempted even a light trot around the main deck, the crew had reacted with consternation at best, hostility at worst.

Running was his very favorite activity and the thing he excelled at most in life—much to his father’s disgust. Swimming in the lake in summertime, cutting through the placid water with sure, even strokes, was a joy as well.

To be surrounded now by endless water but unable to dive in and soothe his cramped muscles was the worst torture. He’d asked the captain if he could at least climb the mast or sail rigging and had been flatly refused.

So he stood by the starboard rail and sometimes paced, careful to stay out of the crew’s way. At least he had been told their progress was swift, and that after a month’s voyage—thirty-one days and some thirteen hours since they left England, to be exact—they would reach the island in a fortnight if the wind held.

He was informed that some ships took several months to reach the colonies. Ships could leave London the same day and arrive weeks or more apart. Such was the way of the sea.

Staring out at the nothingness, he stopped his restless shifting and squinted. The weak sliver of moon had valiantly escaped the clouds for a moment, and Nathaniel thought he spotted a strange kind of movement. The night took on shape before becoming uniform once more.

Perhaps it had been a great ocean creature surfacing—a whale or giant squid, or some kind of mysterious monster.

He chuckled. Earlier that evening, Susanna had read aloud fables from one of the old leather-bound tomes they’d brought from home, and his imagination was clearly running wild.

She’d always been the far more indulgent of his two older sisters, and he knew she’d packed books he’d favor, although she certainly had a taste for adventurous tales rather than the sentimental stories ladies were supposed to read. They’d both enjoyed the diary of a naval captain who’d served on several ships of the line and described life aboard in vivid detail.

Although the cabin Nathaniel and Susanna shared was tiny, at least they had privacy. He really should rejoin her in their cabin to sleep and end another interminable day, but the walls closed in on him, and it felt like a prison. Susanna’s thunderous snores didn’t help matters, but he couldn’t begrudge her anything.

For the hundredth time, he wondered what his life on Primrose Isle would be like. The colony was only a few years old, and there had been whispers of struggles with agriculture and trade, rumors of corruption and settlers packing up already.

He’d be forced to work for his father or at some other respectable job procured for him, like Susanna’s husband, Bart. Handsome Bart was thirty and penniless, but of good breeding and an agreeable disposition. He and Susanna had insisted on each other, waiting several years until both their fathers gave in and agreed to the match.

Bart seemed happy enough to do Father’s bidding, including leaving early for Primrose Isle some months ago, not knowing at the time Susanna was with child. When Walter Bainbridge made a demand, it was met. Sometimes Nathaniel marveled that a man he had rarely seen since childhood could loom so large.

Susanna and Bart had hated to be parted, but she was needed to oversee the packing up of the estate and auction of the more valuable items. Certainly it couldn’t have been left to Nathaniel, who wouldn’t have known where to begin given he’d spent as much time outside away from the ornate house as he could.

Nathaniel had considered refusing when he and Susanna were summoned. But what would he do? Where would he live? His marriage to Elizabeth had been agreed upon by their fathers, and should he fail in his duty, Walter would disown him. He’d have nothing, not even a roof over his head.

Bile rose in his throat. No, that would not do. So onward to Primrose Isle he went, to marry as his father saw fit. All he knew of Elizabeth Davenport was that she’d lived with her wealthy family for some years in Jamaica before her father joined forces with Walter to establish a shipping company on Primrose.

Well, he also knew her writing was unfailingly neat, and from Susanna’s recounting of the letter, that Elizabeth enjoyed needlework and greatly looked forward to sharing her life with him.

He’d received her letter just before leaving England and had burned it in the grate in his room. At least the voyage was a worthy excuse for not responding. And as much as he’d wished to stay in England, he couldn’t allow dear Susanna to sail the perilous Atlantic alone.

Although with how smooth their journey had been, completely lacking in beasts of the deep or even a gale of note, he apparently hadn’t needed to fret. Still, it was done.

He’d accepted years ago that he was feeble-minded, and although he knew he should be grateful for the opportunity to hold a position of at least some stature on the new colony, he dreaded the notion of truly being under his father’s thumb once more.

It had been blissful having his father overseas for years. He supposed he should feel remorse for such churlish thoughts, but there was so much else to consume his stores of guilt.

So much else indeed.

He turned away from the rail, resigning himself to another long night in the swaying hammock. Susanna was of course sleeping in the cot in the only cabin their father could afford now that he’d squandered so much money.

The cry from above pierced the night, and Nathaniel jumped a mile.

“Sails!”

In the flurry of activity and shouts, he pressed himself to the ship’s side as the crew emerged from the hull like ants. Nathaniel squinted into the darkness, turning to and fro and seeing nothing.

Then he spotted it—the hulk of a ship emerging from the night, not a single light flickering upon it, drawn to The Proud William like a moth to flame. With a sickening twist of his stomach, he realized he had indeed spotted a monster, and it was upon them.

He raced down to the cabin, bursting inside. Chestnut curls unpinned and tumbling over her shoulders, Susanna bolted up on the cot, her book thudding to the floor. One hand pressed to her round belly, she cried out, “What is it?”

“I think it’s pirates.” He could hardly believe the words as he uttered them. Had he wished them into existence by grumbling over boredom? Oh, what a fool he was.

The blood drained from Susanna’s sweet, round face. “Pirates?”

“I don’t know what else it could be.” He threw open a trunk and dug for his sheathed dagger, cursing himself for not raising the alarm sooner. His mind raced, thoughts jumbled as he grasped the hilt of the weapon and tossed the leather scabbard aside.

The thunder of the crew’s footsteps shook the ceiling, dust motes shaking loose and shouts filling the air. Susanna looked down at her nightgown, despairing.

“There’s no time for petticoats or any of that nonsense.” She threw her flowing green gown over her head, her voice muffled by it. “My God, it really is pirates, isn’t it? Oh, I think I’m stuck.”

Nathaniel helped tug the material down over her swollen belly. She emerged from the folds of soft fabric and peered up at the ceiling, as if she could see through the hull. Footsteps scuffled and thumps reverberated, tense voices shouting commands too distant to make out clearly.

Susanna whispered, “No gunshots. Must be too many. The crew isn’t fighting them. Help me pin this shut.” She had stopped wearing her corset, adopting what was apparently a new French style while she was with child.

After he’d pinned the material enough that the robe-like gown would stay put, drawing a prick of blood from his fingertip in his haste, Nathaniel yanked on his stockings and refastened his breeches below his knees before jamming his feet into his buckled shoes. He wouldn’t face these brigands in a state of undress.

He tucked the dagger into the back of his trousers and whipped on his sleeveless waistcoat, fingers clumsy on the buttons. But there was no time for his cravat or jacket. Raised voices already echoed down the corridor. He spun about, belatedly hoping to find something to bar the door.

Susanna had apparently had the same thought. “The trunks aren’t heavy enough. Besides, it will only anger them. It’s no use.”

“Get behind me.” He urged her to the back of the cabin, which was barely wider than the breadth of one’s outstretched arms.

“Be sure to mind your tongue,” she said. “You know how thoughts can sometimes go right from your head and out your mouth without pausing for assessment.”

He huffed. “What exactly do you think I’m going to say to pirates?”

“Shh!” She slapped his shoulder. They waited, listening.

More pounding footsteps, and shouts that possessed an undeniably feral quality. The hair on Nathaniel’s body stood on end, his mouth going dry. Perhaps the pirates would pass them by. Perhaps they’d plunder the cargo and be done with it. Perhaps—

The door burst open, almost flying off its hinges, and Nathaniel barely held in his yelp. His heart drummed so loudly he was certain the two invaders could hear. One of them brushed matted hair from his eyes. They both wore ripped and stained trousers as baggy as their shirts, and their boots were worn out.

The long-haired man’s beady gaze raked them up and down, and he asked his squat companion, “You ever fuck a bitch with pup?”

Nathaniel’s stomach swooped. How do they know? Susanna was hidden behind him. He lifted his chin, forcing strength to his words. “You shan’t lay so much as one filthy finger on my sister.”

Ignoring him, the squat man leered, baring snaggled, yellow teeth. He answered his friend’s question. “Good and juicy, I tell you.”

Behind him, Susanna dug her fingers into Nathaniel’s shoulder. Heart in his throat, he yanked the dagger from the waist of his breeches, brandishing it toward the pirates. “Stay back!”

The two blinked at Nathaniel, then each other, before bursting into raucous laughter. The long-haired man said, “Oh no, we’re done for, Deeks!”

Heavy footfalls sounded in the corridor, brazen and commanding. Spines snapping straight, the pirates stepped aside as a man filled the doorway, shoulders almost brushing the frame. He was tall enough to duck slightly as he entered, and his sharp gaze swept the cabin, which had never seemed quite so small.

He wore black from head to gold-tipped toes—open-collared shirt, trousers tucked into knee-high boots, and a long leather coat that flared out behind him. A pistol was tucked into his wide belt, and a cutlass winked from his hip. Gold gleamed on the belt buckle, matching the small square earring in his left ear, rings on his fingers, and the tips of those black boots.

The ends of a red sash dangled over his hip, the only splash of color aside from the gold. He had to be twice Nathaniel’s age, his face weather-worn, a scar jagging across his left temple. His dark hair was cut fairly close to his head, a surprise since Nathaniel had expected all pirates to have long, unruly hair like the animals they were.

His trimmed beard shadowed his strong jaw. In the low light, the color of his narrowed eyes was impossible to ascertain, but Nathaniel imagined they must be as black as the pirate’s soul.

He might have been the very devil himself.

Nathaniel’s palm sweated around the handle of the dagger, and he hated the tremors in his outstretched arm. His throat was painfully dry, and he croaked, “We—we don’t have anything of value. No gold or jewels worth your effort.”

Susanna added, “Even my wedding ring is plated.”

Tully, one of the Proud William’s young crew, had entered the cabin. The man—the pirate captain, undoubtedly—glanced to him. Tully nodded. “’Tis true. Only clothin’ and trinkets in their trunks.” He sniffed dismissively, tossing his reddish hair. “Nothin’ hidden anywhere in here we could find since we left London.”

Nathaniel had thought better of the crew, but saw now how naïve he’d been. It must have been Tully who had informed the pirates that Susanna was with child. “What a coward you are, Tully.”

He snorted. “As soon as I got a good look at the flag, I knew we were done for. Everyone knows the Sea Hawk will gut you from stem to stern once you’re in his talons. I ain’t dying for cargo I don’t give a fuck about and a captain who treats us like garbage.”

“Your destination is Primrose Isle?” The pirate—this Sea Hawk—demanded, his tone low and calm.

“Yes,” Nathaniel answered. “It’s a new colony.”

Tully nodded. “Her husband’s there. We’re to drop them off with their father. The old man’s the guvnor or some such thing.”

At this, the Sea Hawk seemed to jolt, but a moment later the ripple had vanished and he was still again, fearsome and dispassionate. Nathaniel thought he must have imagined the hiccup.

Yet a gleam entered the captain’s devilish eyes, and dread slithered through Nathaniel. The Sea Hawk loomed nearer and demanded, in the same deliberate but undeniable manner, “Your name, boy.”

Heart hammering, all he could manage was, “Uh…”

“This one’s called Bainbridge,” Tully offered.

“Bainbridge,” the captain repeated, barely a whisper now. “As in Walter Bainbridge?”

Fingers going numb around the dagger, Nathaniel nodded. He’d have bruises where Susanna clung to him, her sharp exhalations ghosting over the nape of his neck. There was no sense denying it. “Our father.”

“You’re the son Walter Bainbridge killed his wife to achieve?” The captain’s focus sent chills down Nathaniel’s spine.

He couldn’t hide his wince, and had to nod. His mother had never even held him before the rest of her lifeblood drained away. Susanna had been but six, spying through the keyhole, and she’d confessed it all after Nathaniel’s endless badgering when he was a lad.

Strange how he could experience the aching, hollow absence of a touch he’d never had, even after eighteen years.

The captain’s eyes glinted. Good God, the man was enormous. Nathaniel was tall enough, five feet and seven inches or so, but this monster towered well over six feet. It was all Nathaniel could do to hold his ground and not stagger back against Susanna. The tip of his blade quivered mere inches from the villain’s black heart.

The Sea Hawk gazed down at them as though they were prey he was most eager to consume. “Your father is a liar. Corrupt. An evildoer in silk stockings and a curled wig.”

Nathaniel swallowed hard, hand shaking. Could he lunge and push the dagger into this vile man’s heart? Not that he had much love for his father, but who was a pirate to talk of evildoers?

The Sea Hawk’s eyes glowed with hatred. “Your father cheated me. He was tasked with justice, with fairness. Instead he conspired to steal from me. He branded me a pirate when I was a privateer.”

“Aren’t they the same thing?” Nathaniel blurted. As the Sea Hawk’s nostrils flared, Susanna dug her nails into Nathaniel’s shoulder.

“No, they fucking are not,” the pirate gritted out. “Privateers are licensed. Legal. Privateers follow rules. Laws. Just as your father was supposed to as a judge in the Court of Admiralty in Jamaica. Your father tried to strip me and my men of everything we’d worked and suffered for. We escaped him, but in the years that have followed, he has never paid the price.”

Dread consumed Nathaniel. His father’s greed and avarice would once again bring suffering. If not for Walter’s mounting debts, Nathaniel and Susanna would still be safe at home, waiting until she had her babe before making the journey. Hollington wouldn’t have had to be sold at all, and now they faced God knew what at the mercy of pirates.

Oh Lord. Please spare Susanna and her child! 

Bile rose in his throat at the thought of any harm coming to his sister, terror clammy on his skin. Sweat slipped down Nathaniel’s spine. “I…” He racked his brain for something—anything—to say, some means of escape. His dagger shook, and he licked his dry lips. “I’m sorry.” He had to fix this.

A slow, ghastly smile curled the devil’s lips. “You will be.”

My Review:
I truly adored this gritty, yet tender, historical pirate romance.

Nathaniel Bainbridge is the only son of Walter Bainbridge, governor of Primrose Isle in the British West Indies. He’s eighteen and unable to read–what we would call a dyslexic. He was well-schooled in order to hide this deficiency, and he’s unwilling to reveal his other shame: he is attracted to men. It’s 1710, and the penalty for sodomy is death. Besides, Nathaniel’s suffered enough of his father’s physical and verbal beatings to last a lifetime. When his father’s fortunes turn and the ancestral home is sold to settle debts, Nathaniel and his pregnant sister, Susanna, are forced to sail to Primrose Isle where Walter and Susanna’s husband await them. Oh, and the wealthy planter’s daughter, Elizabeth, whom Nathaniel is expected to marry forthwith so Walter can use her dowry to finance his colony-building schemes. Nathaniel almost wishes he could be lost at sea.

And then…pirate attack.

The Sea Hawk, a large, fearsome pirate captain, waylays their vessel. When he hears that Walter Bainbridge’s son is aboard, he knows he’s about to get his revenge. Ten years before Governor Bainbridge revoked Hawk’s privateer status, seizing his vessel, cargo and branding him a pirate. It was all a scheme to enrich himself, and Hawk was rescued by his crew just before he’d have been hanged. Never forgetting the cost he and his men took, the Sea Hawk has simmered on his anger, and now plans to ransom this “Plum” (Nathaniel) back to the governor…if only he knew how dire the Bainbridge finances were. Nathaniel is afraid his father won’t want him back anyway, no matter the cost, which in this case is steep. He’s going to spend the next four weeks aboard The Damned Manta, Sea Hawk’s ship, a prisoner in the captains’ quarters–so no one dares to spoil their prize.

Nathaniel is terrified of his situation, and intrigued by Captain Hawk. He’s a stunning man, for being a bit older–near his forties. Nathaniel notices the hitch in his steps, caused by aching bone and muscle, and he’s taken by Hawk’s at times tender treatment of him. Nathaniel inadvertently pleases Hawk, by not being too whiny and showing mettle. He’s a fast learner, despite his disability, and Hawk even admires Nathaniel’s resilience. In such close quarters, it’s inevitable that they find some common ground, and it happens to be in their preference for men. Hawk has free rein on his own desires, though he never takes his crew to bunk–he prefers to keep things anonymous in ports. That said, wouldn’t it be juicy to despoil Walter Bainbridge’s heir? And Nathaniel, afraid he’ll die soon, either in a wreck, in battle against other pirates or the Navy, or killed when his father doesn’t pay the ransom, does NOT want to die untouched.

Nathaniel’s desire, once tapped, becomes a bone-deep need that Hawk struggles not to respond to. Intimacy build, though the good will of the crew is dependent upon ransoming Nathaniel. Can Hawk let go of the only lover he’s adored since he was a lad himself? Could he kill his “Plum” if the ransom isn’t paid? There is a lot of soul-searching and sexual exploration happening here, and it was sweet to be inside both Nathaniel’s and Hawk’s POV. They have quite the dilemma, with conflicting duties and desires. Both men are sympathetic, and interesting on their own. The ending is intense, and unexpected, by the character’s admission. How could they find happiness in this world where criminals can’t disappear and men can’t love each other freely? Their crimes are capital, but their plans are homely: to find a place where Hawk could drop his pirate captain persona, fish, and live with Nathaniel in peace. Is it possible? Tragedy might abound, but so does love. And Nathaniel is unwilling to let his lunatic father destroy Hawk for the sake of his own pride. Expect sexytimes, heroic measures, a crew-charming lad, a gruff pirate who wants to settle down, and battles with man and nature. The sexytimes were sweet, even when they are rough.

Interested? You can find KIDNAPPED BY THE PIRATE on Goodreads and Amazon (US and UK).

****GIVEAWAY****

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

Keira AndrewsAbout the Author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can catch up with Keira on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

Cover Reveal THE ONE NIGHT STAND

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for a new contemporary romance coming soon from the writing team of Elizabeth Hayley. THE ONE NIGHT STAND will release in early December and it sounds like a fun one!


About the book:
Gabriel Torres thought his life after Major League Baseball would be simple and quiet, or at least quieter. However, as he takes over running the exclusive Players Club, he finds himself continually embroiled in scandal and drama. Surely nothing, and no one could make his life any crazier…Right?

Rachel Adler is a blast from Gabe’s past who crashed back into his life with the finesse of a freight train. But she’s a welcome distraction. At least for a night.

Rachel has been working hard to become one of the top sports journalists in the country. She doesn’t have time for a long-term romance or irresistibly charming baseball players. A one-night-stand with the man who she knew would hit it out of the park was all she wanted.

But when she gets a tip that Gabe could have ties to one of the biggest sports stories in history, a story that could make her career, Rachel decides that maybe she has a little time for the sexy baseball player after all. As she gets in deeper with both her story and Gabe, Rachel begins to question who she is, what she wants, and what exactly she’s willing to sacrifice for her career.

Will the potential grand-slam romance be stopped short or will Rachel and Gabe be able to go the distance?

Interested? You can pre-order THE ONE NIGHT STAND in advance of it’s Dec release on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Authors:
Elizabeth Hayley is actually “Elizabeth” and “Hayley,” two friends who love reading romance novels to obsessive levels. This mutual love prompted them to put their English degrees to good use by penning their own. The product is Pieces of Perfect, their debut novel. They learned a ton about one another through the process, like how they clearly share a brain and have a persistent need to text each other constantly (much to their husbands’ chagrin).

They live with their husbands and kids in a suburb of Philadelphia. Thankfully, their children are still too young to read.

Elizabeth Hayley’s writing motto is best captured by the words of Patrick Dennis: “I always start with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”

Catch up with them on their website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Cephalopod Coffeehouse October 2017: Fates Align…BLOOD GUARD–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, and in keeping with the pre-Halloween weird-spooky theme I’ve had going, I’m sharing a newly-released vampire romance from Megan Erickson. BLOOD GUARD is the first book in her Mission series and features a prophesy, a duty-bound vampire and a woman willing to sacrifice herself to ensure her love is avenged.

About the book:
Enter a world of immortal danger and desire—and discover an incredible fate borne of blood.
Tendra: One minute, I’m a bartender in gritty Mission City; the next, I’m whisked away by a vampire named Athan who tells me that I’m the lifeblood of his clan. It sounds unbelievable, but he’s got evidence I can’t deny. Turns out, Athan belongs to an underground society of vampires who feed only on humans with their consent. Their enemies have no such qualms, and they want me dead. The only thing standing in their way is strong, sexy Athan. And the closer we get, the more tempted I am to let Athan feed. . . .

Athan: How could I have known when I snatched this snarky, beautiful human off the streets that she would change my destiny? As a loyal soldier, I must deliver Tendra to our future king—my brother. Empowered with the blood of ten generations of the Gregorie breed, she is fated to rule as our queen. But there’s something between us that’s so intoxicating, so carnal, I can’t help wanting Tendra for myself . . . even if it’s treason.

My Review:
This is an interesting twist on the “fated mates” trope and I really enjoyed this rich new world.

Tendra is a 20-something young woman newly-alone as her mother had just died in a car wreck, leaving her adrift in Mission City, New Jersey. She’s a cocktail waitress and deeply unsettled by a swarthy customer one evening. She’s even more unsettled when he kidnaps her and tells her she must come with him if she wants to live! At least he’s packed her most precious belongings from her barren apartment, including her cat, Brex. Even more unbelievable is what this dude, Alain, tells her: her blood has mystic properties and will help transform his brother Idris, sworn king of the Gregorie clan…of vampires. In their prophesy, they’ve been waiting ten generations for a Sanguivita–Tendra–and with the powers her blood holds Idris will be able to effectively combat the warring Valerian clan.

Yeah, she’s not buying it. But, she has little choice but to accept Athan’s aid when the bad guys come calling. Learning about the hidden vampire culture lurking just below Mission City has Tendra mixed up–and aroused. Those vamps are some seriously kinky folk. Plus, the more time she spends with Athan, the more she admires and desires him. And the feeling is very mutual. Their escape to the Gregorie compound is complicated by several attacks, some of which are thwarted by Brex the wonder cat. There is a good mix of danger, intimacy and downright delicious sexytimes. Athan falls hard for Tendra, yet holds back on tasting her blood, knowing that to drink from her could void the prophesy and Idris’ expected boon. Unfortunately, it’s not in his hands when the treachery extends far beyond what had been expected.

I liked Tendra, who is a take-no-shit kinda gal. Her life has been weird, and she finally realizes why once she meets Athan and learns about her place in their world. Honorable Athan’s confused by his compulsion toward Tendra; shouldn’t he not be attracted to his brother’s promised? But, the more he puzzles over it, the more he knows deep down: it doesn’t matter. He will do anything to have Tendra for his own. While this might seem cavalier, he knows his brother has no interest for Tendra beyond the desire for her blood to transform him for battle. And, neither he nor Idris expected the depth of their own father’s manipulation. There’s a lot more going here than clan clashes, the entire human race is at stake, literally, as the Valerians have plans to reveal themselves and take control of the populace to feed and frenzy. Together, Athan and Tendra have the ability to stop it. And, while the war isn’t over, a key battle is won before the end. I’m expecting Idris to find his fated mate in the next book, and I look forward to it!

Interested? You can find BLOOD GUARD on Goodreads, Amazon (US and UK) Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo. I read a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she likes writing her own endings better.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.

For more, visit Megan on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and be sure to check out reviews for my fellow Coffeehouse bloggers if you have the chance!

Deeper and Darker: NOCTURNE–A Review

Hi there! In keeping with my pre-Halloween “it gets weird” posts I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M paranormal romantic suspense novel from the writing team of Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt. NOCTURNE is the second novel in their Hours of the Night series that features Thaddeus, a devout Catholic vampire who works to aid the White Monks in ridding his corner of Louisiana of demons, and Sarasija (Sara) Mishra, the Indian assistant who provides Thad with needed nourishment…and sexytimes. I loved VESPERS (book 1) and BONFIRE (book 1.5) and think this series is best enjoyed in order.

About the book:
It’s Mardi Gras, cher, but this year le bon temps kick off with murder…
For generations, the White Monks have treated the vampire Thaddeus Dupont as a weapon in their battle against demons. However, when a prominent matron drops dead at a party, Thaddeus and his lover Sarasija are asked to find her killer. Their investigation leads them to an old southern family with connections everywhere: Louisiana politics, big business, the Church, and an organization just as secret as the White Monks.

Meanwhile, an esoteric text containing spells for demon-summoning has disappeared, Thaddeus is losing control of le monstre, and Sara is troubled by disturbing dreams. These nightmares could be a side-effect of dating a vampire, or they could be a remnant of his brush with evil. As the nights wear on, Sara fears they are a manifestation of something darker – a secret that could destroy his relationship with Thaddeus.

My Review:
Thaddeus Dupont has been a dutiful servant of the White Monks for eighty years. He abstained from his unnatural carnal desires and only fed, as needed, from women–so he wouldn’t be tempted. His assistant Nohea hired “Sara” sight-unseen to be Thad’s source of blood for a year-long contract, unknowing that Sara was a man. An out-gay man of Indian heritage. And Thad found Sara irresistible. They now work together on Thad’s mission to rid the world of demons, and they are carnally aware of each other in many of the ways that Sara desires and Thad…well he desires it too, but the Catholic inside him is still a bit shamed…

This case is different–it’s a personal favor to Brother Michael, a White Monk, for Thad and Sara to track down whomever murdered his boisterous Aunt Berta at her own Mardi Gras party. It’s clear from the moment they arrived at Berta’s residence that they were being ensorcelled by the charismatic family. Sara’s nearly charmed by Jo-Jo, the double team twin grandchildren, Josefine and Josef, of Berta, and these two do not let up. They want Sara, and Thad, in their powers, it seems. This night also marked the beginnings of a series of nightmares for Sara. Thad thinks the nightmares stem from Sara finding Berta’s body, but it definitely runs deeper than shock.

Meanwhile, Sara wants to continue hunting a grimoire that is sure to hold secrets to the demon-summoning issue they’d investigated previously, and Nohea’s frustrated they still haven’t found her missing niece–lost in while in the White Monks’ care. Are some of these issues linked? Sara’s sure they must be when he’s sent on a fool’s errand to locate the grimoire and is nearly killed–all while Jo-Jo had been trying to dissuade him from the mission. What is up with Jo-Jo and their family? Why do the wiccans of New Orleans give them a mile-wide berth? And what’s happening with Thad? Is his rapid shifting into vamp mode an indication of jealousy, or something deeper?

This is a well-paced romantic suspense that goes far deeper into the murk of demon-hunting and magic than either of the two previous books. Thad is recognizing he has more human feelings than he’d expected after 80+ years of vampirism. And, he’s far more aggressive a lover than he’d been previously. Sara loves that, and loves Thad, so he’s troubled by his attraction responses to Jo-Jo, particularly Josef. It’s hard for him to sort out all the riddles of these interactions, but he’s sure there’s magic involved–if only he could parse out what’s happening with his dreams! The more he digs, however, the more dangerous this web he’s caught in becomes–which nearly puts Thad over the edge, again. I really enjoyed getting to know Thad and Sara more and watching their relationship deepen in this book, and I’m totally on board with finding out what happens next!

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

About the Authors:
Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.

You can find Irene on her website and twitter.

About Liv Rancourt…

I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire…or sometimes demon. I write funny. I don’t write angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog is the cutest thing evah(!), and we’re up to three ferrets.

I can be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at my website & blog Liv Rancourt, on Facebook, or on Twitter. Come find me. We’ll have fun!

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Stranger-Danger? EIGHT DAYS ON PLANET EARTH–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Keeping with my pre-Halloween “weird” theme, I’m sharing a review for a soon-to-be-released YA adventure romance from Cat Jordan. EIGHT DAYS ON PLANET EARTH is the story of a boy who’s given up on space-stories…then finds a supposed “alien” girl on his property.

The book releases 11/7, but you can scroll down and pre-order it today! Also, enter the giveaway to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon GCs or one of two signed copies of the book.

About the book:
How long does it take to travel twenty light years to Earth?
How long does it take to fall in love?

To the universe, eight days is a mere blip, but to Matty Jones, it may be just enough time to change his life.

On the hot summer day Matty’s dad leaves for good, a strange girl suddenly appears in the empty field next to the Jones farm—the very field in rural Pennsylvania where a spaceship supposedly landed fifty years ago. She is uniquely beautiful, sweet, and smart, and she tells Matty she’s waiting for her spaceship to pick her up and return her to her home planet. Of course she is.

Matty has heard a million impossible UFO stories for each of his seventeen years: the conspiracy theories, the wild rumors, the crazy belief in life beyond the stars. When he was a kid, he and his dad searched the skies and studied the constellations. But all of that is behind him. Dad’s gone—but now there’s Priya. She must be crazy…right?

As Matty unravels the mystery of the girl in the field, he realizes there is far more to her than he first imagined. And if he can learn to believe in what he can’t see: the universe, aliens…love…then maybe the impossible is possible, after all.

A heart-wrenching romance full of twists that are sure to bring tears to readers’ eyes, from Cat Jordan, author of THE LEAVING SEASON.

My Review:

Matty Jones is a high school junior on summer break when two things happen on the same day:  his unemployed UFO conspiracy-theorist father walks out, and a strange girl claiming to be an alien appears in the fallow field on his family’s defunct farm. Matty’s furious with his dad, a man who’d been slipping away from his responsibilities for years. His mother is devastated, but Matty had seen this coming.

Matty had grown up knowing that his dad was big into space and UFOs. It was local legend that an alien aircraft landed in their field on the night his father was born–but the government washed away the evidence. Still, Matty and his dad spent ages outside on the their twin telescopes searching the night skies for something out there. His dad blogged, and over the past few years the tenor of the blog had shifted from informative to conspiracy-oriented. Along with this, his dad pulled away from Matty and his mom–even going so far as to have affairs with some of his ardent blog followers. Matty thinks good riddance to his slacker dad, and is frustrated that his mom even harbors any hope he’ll return.

Meanwhile Priya, the “alien” in his field, is busy collecting data about Earth. Her home planet, she reveals, is deep in the Libra constellation, and Matty’s too lonely and downhearted to simply brush her off. He wants to believe that Priya is a confused girl who’ll move on soon–like all the other UFO lunatics his father had ginned up over the years. But, there’s clearly something wrong with Priya–she is dressed bizarrely–in a tutu and wearing a platinum wig over her dark hair–and has trouble with balance that she ascribes to differences in Earth’s gravity. She can read Matty’s thoughts, and it unsettles him. She also struggles with language, and he thinks maybe she’s from a different country, completely discounting the notion that she’s possibly an alien.

She’s still in his field the next day, and the next, and the more time Matty spends with her, the more he wants to be near her, even as she resurrects good memories of time spent with his dad. The conflict is real for Matty, but so is the compassion. He and Priya share some intimacy over this time, each night watching the skies for her ship to arrive and whisk her back through the wormhole to her planet.

Matty’s friends draw attention to Priya’s weirdness, and it leads to the big crisis and reveal of Priya for exactly who she is. It’s a good and honest twist, that breaks Matty’ s heart while at the same time restoring the abandoned bond between himself and his father. Though that makes it sound a lot more complicated than it is. At it’s core, this is a story about a boy falling for people who leave him behind, and learning how to deal with that. Matty is a strong character, a good guy who felt real. He’s not perfect; he’s a slacker like his dad, and plans to spend his summer riding dirt bikes, visiting the beach and getting high with his best friend. His encounters with Priya open his eyes to the wonder of his mundane life, and foster a new sense of purpose that he may, or may not, pursue.

The truth of it is, there are mysteries in this world that can’t be explained completely, and must be taken on faith. Gravity, Priya asserted, was one of those. Love, as Matty learned, was another. It’s a sweet book, with a heart-tugging resolution that fans of YA will really enjoy.

Interested? You can find EIGHT DAYS ON PLANET EARTH on Goodreads and pre-order it in advance of its 11/7 release on Harper Collins, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Indie Bound.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon GCs or one of two signed copies of the book.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author In Cat jordan’s words…

When I was a teenager, the very first book I ever tried to write was pretentious and stilted and set in a future where there was no paper. Obviously, I fancied myself another Ray Bradbury (who I was thrilled to meet not once but twice!). The book had an awesome title and no plot but I had the most fun creating the characters and the world they lived in. That to me is the most enjoyable part of writing a novel: envisioning a world and populating it with all kinds of people and dogs. Gotta have a dog.

The worlds I create now as an adult are based on my travels from coast to coast in the US, to Europe and Mexico and Canada, and on the people I have met and loved and admired and feared. And dogs.

Currently I live in Los Angeles. With my dog.

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Out Today! HALLOW BE THE HAUNT–Excerpt and Review


Hi there! Today I’m sharing another Halloween-themed read. It’s release day for HALLOW BE THE HAUNT, a ghost-hunting murder mystery novella from Heather Granham’s Krewe of Hunters series. I haven’t really followed the whole series, but it didn’t affect how I enjoyed this spooky little book.

About the book:Years ago, Jake Mallory fell in love all over again with Ashley Donegal–while he and the Krewe were investigating a murder that replicated a horrible Civil War death at her family’s Donegal Plantation.

Now, Ashley and Jake are back–planning for their wedding, which will take place the following month at Donegal Plantation, her beautiful old antebellum home.

But Halloween is approaching. And Ashley is haunted by a ghost warning her of deaths about to
come in the city of New Orleans, deaths caused by the same murderer who stole the life of the beautiful ghost haunting her dreams, night after night.

At first, Jake is afraid that returning home has simply awakened some of the fear of the past. But as Ashley’s nightmares continue, a body count begins to accrue in the city . . . .

And it’s suddenly a race to stop a killer before Hallow’s Eve comes to a crashing end, with dozens more life at stake, not to mention heart, soul, and life for Jake and Ashley themselves.

How about a little taste?

Donegal Plantation was beautiful. It echoed the glory and the agony of history. Now a museum, it was often used as a guesthouse as well. But for the month of October, no rooms were rented out. It was simply too crazy a time.

And, at the moment, Donegal Plantation was “haunted.”

Not just in reality. But also commercially, for the Halloween season.

An early 1800s hearse sat in the sweeping drive. The striking white pillars at the entrance were draped in black. Menacing witches on broomsticks were hung here and there along the antebellum porch—along with ghosts, goblins, and evilly grinning jack-o’-lanterns.

Driving up to the house, Ashley Donegal smiled—and let out a sigh at the same time. Donegal Plantation was her home. She loved it—fiercely. She was proud of the property. They had a re-enactment each year of the Civil War skirmish that had been fought here. And they laid it all out for the truth of what had been.

The good that had occurred.

And the bad.

Her grandfather, Frazier, was still alive. And, with the help of his employees Beth and Cliff, he kept Donegal plantation going with tours and events—such as Halloween.

So it was right and good that she was now on this trip to plan her wedding to Jake Mallory. It was here—years ago—her ancestor’s death had been proven to be a murder, not just an act of war. And it was here where they had solved the murders that had taken place then.

The murders that had brought her and Jake back together again.

She had been in love with Jake as long as she could remember. But it hadn’t been until her father’s death that Jake, a member of an elite unit of the FBI, had come back.

And they had been together ever since.

What had caused them to take so long to marry, she wasn’t sure. Probably because it hadn’t really mattered. They were together. But recently, they’d talked family. And in talking family…a wedding seemed the thing to do.

And if they were going to have a wedding, it was going to be at Donegal Plantation.

My Review:
Jake Mallory and Ashley Donegal fell in love in high school, but grew in different directions. They reconnected in a different book, and this novella is the adventure that became of their wedding planning sessions.

Ashley grew up at Donegal Plantation, a preserved estate outside of New Orleans. She’d known there was ghosts there from her earliest memories, and Jake came out to help with a mystery a few years back–which is how they reconnected. Jake’s part of a paranormal-investigators corps within the FBI called Krewe of Hunters. On their first night back Ashley has a dream of a freshly-murdered woman, and Jake’s quickly put on the case, as an eye-witness says a trio of witches killed his friend.

Ashley’s antebellum home also runs a famous haunted house experience, and it seems like the killers might be tied to the crew of “scare actors” who are boiling and toiling in the haunted house.

I liked the misdirection here, and how Jake, Ashley and another Krewe member, Jackson, unravel the scope of the murders. It’s not simply coincidence that bad dudes all over the region are meeting untimely ends, and Ashley’s ability to chat with ghosts comes in handy, even though it upsets Jake to see her in harm’s way. There’s no loving in this book, so I assumed all the sexytimes happened in their reconnection novel. Also, there’s some fun character cameos from other Krewe novels, and a snippet of the highly anticipated wedding to draw an end of the love story for Jake and Ashley.

If you’re looking for a short spooky read with the flavor of Nawlins’ you’ll likely enjoy this one.

Interested? You can find HALLOW BE THE HAUNT on Goodreads and Amazon (US, UK, CA ad AU)

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham has always been an avid reader, from classics to sci-fi, mystery, horror, thriller, romance, and all kinds of non-fiction. She’s fairly certain that her mom’s deliciously crazy family–arriving in the US a bit before her birth from Ireland–gave her the love of storytelling. She started out in theater and commercials, but once her children began to arrive, she stayed home and gave writing a try. She’s incredibly grateful to be doing what she’s doing for a living. Heather belongs to MWA, RWA, Sisters in Crime, HWA, and ITW, and has the recipient of the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, a Silver Bullet for charitable works, and this year, she will receive the Thriller Master title from ITW. She has over 200 novels in print, and has been published in 22 languages.

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