Mystical Connection in CASSADAGA NIGHTS-Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M fantasy romance from Jana Denardo. CASSADAGA NIGHTS features a psychic falling hard for a traveling mage, and finding a new career path opening to him.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Santino Bellomi and his coworker, Cam, are sent to Cassadaga, Florida by the Aspida Pneuma, a group of psychics and mages. Their job is to rescue a nixie from a polluted lake and to check out the town, which is known for its psychics. New recruits to the Aspida are always welcome and where better than a spiritualist camp to hunt for them? What Santino wants most, however, is to finish the assignment quickly. He isn’t a fan of heat and humidity, and he’d looking forward to a well-earned vacation once the mission is over.

Ryan Doyle grew up in Cassadaga, where being psychic runs in the family. Ryan has never roamed far from home, though it’s hard being a geeky gay, wannabe urban fantasy author living in a small town. His job as one of the town psychics is fairly routine until he meets someone new. Ryan has never encountered anyone with a psychic shield so strong until Santino sits down for a reading. Intrigued, he asks Santino out even though Santino is as secretive as he is fun.

Santino hopes to win Ryan over both for himself and for the Aspida. And he’s hoping his skills in the kitchen will swing the balance in his favor. Ryan has almost given up on finding love, living in rural Florida. Can a seductive tourist be the answer to his dreams?

Things never run smoothly for those in the Aspida. What should have been a simple rescue mission is plagued by mosquitoes, enraged ghosts, and someone or something draining residents of their life force. Ryan’s first foray into adventure may be his last.

How about a yummy taste?

Ryan drew his shield over himself, letting his psychic senses dampen down. All day, most days, he dropped his armor, walking around exposed, vulnerable on all sides to the flood of stimuli. Such was the life of a professional psychic. He was unable to cut himself off when he was on the job. His clients depended on his abilities. While he could cold read a person to give Houdini a run for his money, Ryan was the real deal when it came to being psychic. Houdini would have had a helluva time debunking his abilities.

Here at home, safe in his fortress of solitude, Ryan armored up, drawing upon his psychic shields. He could rest, letting his senses recharge. Elsie—one of the original inhabitants of the town in the 1890s—had been the only thing able to penetrate his shields. The books on his bookcase rattled alerting him that Elsie, his boisterous ghost, had noted his return.

Ryan double-checked the setting on the air conditioning in his tiny Harmony Hall apartment. He might have been born and raised in Cassadaga, but it didn’t mean he loved Florida summers. That said, the air conditioner sat at an acceptable temperature, but inside, the heat stifled him. He turned on the old fan from the 1930s, the kind with barely a whisper of a guard surrounding it, and aimed it at his computer. Only the force of the wind coming out of the fan kept Kuro from jamming his paws into it to catch the blades. His cat didn’t like his fur mussed.

Ryan drew the curtains where his apartment overlooked the Cassadaga Hotel before stripping off his shorts. There, he was as naked as he could get without removing skin, and he was still too hot. He crammed into the cramped shower and ducked his head under the faucet, wetting his hair. Afterward, he strolled into the kitchen, poured himself an iced tea, and rubbed the cool glass across his nipples a few times in a vain attempt to lower his body temperature.

Finally, giving up, Ryan returned to his computer and let the ancient fan and his wet hair act as a swamp cooler. Acclimatize my ass. In quiet moments like this, Ryan was sure he heard the mildew growing on his skin in the humidity. He streamed some indie music and opened up a story file. After a day of work, he enjoyed doing what he’d actually gone to school for: writing.

Unfortunately, his career as an urban fantasy writer hadn’t taken off yet, so he was still in the family business. Much to the endless and completely irrational irritation of his sister, Mary. Ryan didn’t quite get it. She’d been vicious in claiming their mother’s house as her own to do readings in, following their mother’s path. Their whole family possessed psychic abilities, as did many others in Cassadaga, a Spiritualist commune.

Ryan didn’t understand why he couldn’t share the house with Mary, but she was having none of it. She’d been pissed off he’d been accepted into Harmony Hall after proving his abilities worthy of the honor. One had to be psychic to rent there. It bemused him that his only living relative didn’t want much to do with him, and it wasn’t because he was gay. Mary didn’t give a crap about his sexuality. No, she didn’t like the fact that his psychic abilities equaled hers.

Shoving Mary from his mind, Ryan tried to get into his story, but the day’s worries bled into his consciousness. Tomorrow, a big open house would have trainees doing half-price readings at the Davis Center, and he’d have to oversee Lisa, his trainee. It was fun, in a way, interacting with the public, and many turned out for the half-price offering. But surely there was more he could be doing with his ability.

A vague disappointment dogged Ryan because he hadn’t thought to do the psychic TV thing. He assumed they started out legit, but ratings and pressure from the shows’ money men probably quickly led to faking results. Sure, some of them did fake stuff. He’d been on more ghost hunts than he could count. No one got so many results every time, and demons didn’t really lurk around every corner. Oh, he didn’t discount demons—but to have house after house filled with them? He had his doubts. He didn’t want to contribute to all the charlatan acts out there. He was the real deal.

Sighing, he gave up for a moment and tried to clear his head with a little internet therapy. Of course the internet was as big a bane to his writing as it was an asset to his research. He checked out a tarot card Kickstarter using some truly gorgeous art and sighed again. The goal hadn’t quite been reached yet, but hopefully soon. He planned to add them to his collection. His last acquisition had been a steampunk deck almost too pretty to use. Tarot cards were the one thing he collected outside of manga. Ryan had reluctantly put his books into storage because his apartment was too small, and he’d moved to e-books, which didn’t have the same appeal. Still, his hating on the e-book afforded him nothing. He planned to sell some one day.

Elsie fluttered in the corner of his eye like black butterflies dancing in and out of the ceiling fan blades. When he turned his attention to her, she smiled, waved, and faded away, content she’d gotten his attention. Rolling his eyes, Ryan turned to his computer. He goofed off on the internet for a little while longer before getting back to his fantasy world. He’d left his warrior witch in a rough spot. He probably ought to have her save herself.

My Review:
Ryan Doyle is a psychic in a long line of them–his mother was renown in the field and his sister has the gift, and resents that Ryan does as well. Ryan mentors younger or newer psychics, using his gifts to help them gain control of theirs, but he’s feeling a little melancholy about his life. Cassadaga, Florida is a a sheltered community and he rarely has and social engagements–of the romantic kind.

Santino Bellomi is a mage and psychic, and works for a secret society called Aspida Pneuma. He is tasked with stopping malevolent forces from infringing on the mortal realm. His partner, Cam, a shapeshifting female, also has strong magic. They have been dispatched to Cassadaga to track down a nixie (water spirit) who seems to be in danger. The pond where this being is living is tiny and not suitable–but Santino and Cam are having trouble coaxing the nixie into direct contact. Meanwhile, Santino is intrigued by the thriving psychic community, and believes Ryan’s abilites may align with that of the Aspida Pneuma. So, he begins to build a rapport with Ryan–whom he finds very attractive.

This is a sweet, short romance with some excellent and fun magical elements. There happens to be a fae interloper in Cassadaga who’s wreaking unexpected havoc–and Santino and Cam are in good position to manage the situation. Ryan’s shock over learning about magical creatures and the danger Santino faces day to day. He’s intrigued about the Aspida, but he’s more intrigued with Santino. I liked how they had some fun date nights, and tried to learn a bit about one another before they get physical. The game dates and walking through botanic gardens really sounded fun. It’s a low angst romance kicking off what seems to be a series focused on the magical misadventures of Ryan and Santino. I look forward to reading on!

Interested? You can find CASSADAGA NIGHTS on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press gift card!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in), and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. It’s no coincidence that the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds, or a roguish starship captain to run off to the stars with her.

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

Magical Love in THE SORCERER’S GUARDIAN-Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M fantasy romance from Antonia Aquilante. THE SORCERER’S GUARDIAN is the fourth story in her Chronicles of Tournai series. I really enjoyed THE PRINCE’S CONSORT, THE ARTIST’S MASQUERADE, and THE SCHOLAR’S HEART but I”ve been waiting to find out how the magic resolves, so I was eager to tackle this book.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Savarin honed his Talent through years of study, and to achieve his goal of becoming the most powerful and accomplished sorcerer in Tournai, he made magic his life. Among the wealthy and noble circles he moves in, no one would suspect the handsome, refined, arrogant sorcerer’s humble beginnings—which is how Savarin prefers it. He wants to be seen only as the man he’s made himself. When Tournai’s princes task Savarin with studying and strengthening the spells that protect the principality from magical attack, he is more than happy to do so. The spells are complex, centuries old, and exactly the type of puzzle Savarin is eager to solve. But to his annoyance, the princes insist Loriot accompany him on his journey.

Second son of a minor noble family, Loriot worked his way up the ranks of the royal guard to captain with single-minded determination and takes pride in his service to the crown. He must obey the prince’s orders to protect Savarin, despite believing his skills would be best used elsewhere and his wariness of magic. UnTalented himself, Loriot has learned not only the benefits of magic but also its potential for harm—and how to counter it. He still believes it’s best to avoid most magic entirely, which is difficult when he’s tasked with playing guard to a powerful sorcerer.

Loriot and Savarin clash repeatedly during their journey, but the simmering tension between them doesn’t only stem from their work, and passion develops into feelings neither expected. But Savarin must still secure Tournai’s magical barrier, and his only solution will endanger both him and the royal family.

How about a yummy taste?

As afternoon waned into evening, Loriot approached his house on Dove Lane. Weariness dragged at him with each step. He hadn’t slept more than a few minutes in the last few days, and now that the crisis had passed, he felt the fatigue down to his bones. But the lack of sleep was worth it for the good outcome of the situation.

He trudged up the few steps to his front door, its rich blue color recently freshened, and let himself in. The key turned smoothly in the lock, and the magical protections on the house recognized him as belonging, allowing him inside. He shivered, even though he didn’t feel anything as he crossed the threshold; perhaps someone with a Talent would, but he had neither Talent nor any sensitivity to magic.

Inside, the house was quiet. The formal parlor was empty, which was unsurprising as they rarely used it—only when Joceline and Oriana chose to entertain. He wanted more than anything to go up to his bedchamber and collapse into his bed for the next few days, but he couldn’t. Couldn’t even collapse for a few hours without checking on his family. But he knew where at least one of them was likely to be at this time of day.

The sitting room at the back of the house was quiet, too, so quiet he could hear the scratch of his sister’s pen on paper as he stepped into the doorway. Joceline sat at her writing desk, papers spread around her, pen flying across the page. Despite the silence, she didn’t notice him. A good writing day, then. He hated to disturb her, but she’d want to know he was home.

“Story going well?” he asked, keeping his voice quiet so he wouldn’t startle her. He’d learned it was better to have to repeat himself than to scare her when she was absorbed in a world of her own creation.

But he didn’t have to repeat himself today. She glanced up immediately, her gaze hazy and then sharpening. “There you are! I was wondering if you were ever coming home.”

He hadn’t been gone so long—only a couple of days—but he did try not to let a day go by without returning for at least a little while. He stepped farther into the room and sank down into a comfortable chair. “It was unavoidable. You got my notes?”

“Of course. You know I was just teasing.” Joceline narrowed her eyes and studied him with an intensity he could almost feel. “Is everything all right? You look exhausted, and I heard yesterday the guard was searching everyone leaving the city.”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. Sitting had been a mistake. His eyelids wanted to droop; his body wanted to melt into the cushions. “There was a kidnapping.”

“Not Prince Julien?”

“No, no. And it’s fine now,” he reassured her, trying to keep her from coming out of her chair in her alarm at a threat to the heir to Tournai’s throne. “It wasn’t a member of the royal family at all.”

“But you were involved?”

As captain of the royal guard, Loriot normally wouldn’t be directly involved in such a situation. “The baby taken was the daughter of Prince Amory’s friend, Master Tristan. The merchant. Though if what I saw means anything, he’ll likely be a member of the royal family soon.”

“Really?” Joceline leaned forward, her interest of a different kind now. “There’s going to be a marriage? To whom? The princess?”

He shook his head. He didn’t need to tell her what he said should go no further. He didn’t ever tell her anything truly secret, but Loriot didn’t see the harm in a little meaningless court gossip now and then, especially since she wouldn’t spread it. “No. Lord Etan.”

She sat back with a huff. “Well, they really are bucking tradition, aren’t they?”

He let out a short laugh. But what she said wasn’t untrue. Both Tournai’s prince and his cousin, a royal duke, had married men in the last couple of years, and now it seemed Lord Etan, another cousin of Prince Philip’s, would do the same. Loriot couldn’t think of a time when such a thing had happened, as the royal family and nobility tended to marry those who could provide bloodline heirs for their titles—and some families were even more conservative, only marrying women.

“Good for them,” Joceline said. “I hope they’re happy.”

“Now that Tristan’s daughter is back with them, I believe they are.”

Concern flooded back into her pretty face. “You found her? And the person who took her?”

“Yes, with Master Savarin’s help.” He’d gotten over any resentment he might have had that he needed the help of magic long before today and was happy to use any tool he had access to. Savarin, the most powerful sorcerer in Tournai, was not someone whose help should be turned away, and Savarin never withheld it, serving Tournai whenever he was called upon.

“The sorcerer? How did he help?” Joceline sat forward, a gleam in her eyes he recognized well. She wasn’t simply curious; she wanted to know because she might use the information in a story.

“Joceline.”

“What?”

He sighed and shook his head. “He used his magic to try to track the kidnappers and then to try to find the baby directly. He pointed us in the right direction, let us know where to search for them.” Loriot didn’t bother mentioning the help they’d received from someone else, a scholar at the university. If he read Savarin right, Savarin would be finding Master Corentin at the university soon and asking him about the magic he used, because it also sounded as if Savarin hadn’t heard of anything like it.

“Interesting.”

“Let me guess, your new story has a sorcerer character.” He arched an eyebrow at her, his mildly disapproving tone mostly put on. Which she would know, as she was aware how proud he was of her accomplishments.

“I have an idea that would call for one. What’s Master Savarin like?”

“I don’t know him very well.” He tried to think of anything he knew about Savarin beyond the surface. “He’s powerful and arrogant with it.”

She shrugged. “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t. Aren’t all powerful sorcerers arrogant about their power?”

“I wouldn’t know. I don’t know any others.” He resolutely pushed his newly acquired knowledge of the royal family’s secret Talent from his mind. He didn’t need Joceline seeing a hint in his expression and trying to badger the information out of him. He would never tell, but life would be easier if he didn’t have to fight Joceline about it.

“All the ones I’ve read about in stories are. Especially the evil ones.”

“Tell me you’re not going to base a character on Master Savarin and make him evil.” Making the most powerful sorcerer in the country an evil character in a book sounded like a horrible idea.

Another shrug. “Powerful sorcerers always seem to be evil characters. Or self-sacrificing ones who save the day.”

Loriot shook his head and heaved himself to his feet. If he didn’t move, he’d end up sleeping right there. “Alain is upstairs?”

“Yes. But wait,” she called after him as he walked toward the door. “You must know something else about Master Savarin.”

“I really don’t.” He didn’t turn.

“Is he handsome?”

Savarin’s image filled his mind—his height and broad shoulders, perfectly carved features, blond hair he thought would be soft under his hands. His stride hitched, but he shook the image away and ignored Joceline calling after him. Perhaps she would forget the idea entirely if he didn’t encourage her.

He doubted it, but he could hope. The idea of Savarin as a character in a book on the shelf of a bookshop made him cringe.

Trudging up the stairs took the last of his energy, but he forced himself to bypass his own bedchamber. He couldn’t go to bed without seeing Alain. Not after so long away, not even if it hadn’t been very long. The door to the room at the back of the house was partially open. He peeked in as he pushed it open the rest of the way. The room was tidy, except for a veritable city built of blocks in the middle of the rug. The nursemaid noticed him first, but Alain wasn’t far behind. He looked up, his bright-green eyes—twins of Loriot’s own—lighting up, and something inside Loriot melted, just as it always did under those eyes.

“Papa!”

With ease of long practice, he caught the five-year-old bundle of energy that came flying at him and swung his son up into his arms. He cuddled him close for as long as Alain would allow. As tired as he was, he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. “There’s my boy. I missed you. Show me what you’ve been doing.”

My Review:
This is the fourth book in a fantasy series, and likely best enjoyed when read in sequence, though it can be read as a standalone.

Savarin is the most powerful sorcerer in all of Tournai, most likely the most powerful in several generations. He uses his power for good, but he’s often isolated because of his austere appearance, and his great power. He has discovered that there are magical protections that surround the border of Tournai and help to protect the country against magical attack and potentially invasion. Unfortunately, some of these wards have been thinned, perhaps by testing by forgein agents who seek to wage war. He has Prince Philip’s blessing to leave the capital city and explore the boundaries, looking for weaknesses and studying the wards so that he could better pinpoint the damage and perhaps repair it. Used to working alone, and knowing that the project must be completed in complete secrecy lest the word get out on the presence of these protections wards, Savarin is frustrated that Prince Philip has also commanded his captain of the guard, Loriot, to accompany him as his personal protection.

Loriot is an excellent guard captain. Despite his noble birth, he worked his way up the ranks of the guard to become captain. He is also a father to a young boy, and he doesn’t want to be gone on what seems a fool’s errand for an untold time. Savarin won’t give him a timetable for the explorations of the border protection wards–but it’s also a good opportunity for Loriot to examine the guard outposts on the edge of the country. See if anything needs shoring up. It isn’t long before Loriot realizes that his presence is extremely necessary. When Savarin examines the wards his mind interacts with the magic, leaving his body catatonic for hours on end. And in these areas of border skirmishes, a rogue bands of thieves could take Savarin hostage–or worse. Besides, Savarin’s haughty exterior belies his dry wit and Loriot is intrigued by magic use for more than it’s potential to harm or protect. They make unexpectedly good traveling companions, and that’s before they make even better sexytimes companions in bed.

This book serves to round out the Chronicles of Tournai series which features shape-shifting royals who serve as a touchstone to the protections of their country. Loriot knows the magic of his Prince and family–a secret he’d only gained days before this adventure–yet he cannot reveal his knowledge to Savarin, who expresses frustration with being unable to determine the source of the magical power. The spells are clearly highly protected and some may be lost to time–though Etan, the prince’s cousin and royal historian and archivist, has some leads on where to look for the original notes on the spells themselves. When Loriot and Savarin return to Jumelle, the capital city, it is Savarin’s account of his experience that prompts the prince to confide in Savarin the truths that will help bolster the protections surrounding Tournai.

Back int he capital, both Loriot and Savarin had intended to let their traveling passions far to the wayside, however, they are still very much in one another’s minds, and reconnections are definitely made. Loriot’s son is more than enamored with Savarin, who is a little unsettled by how openly Loriot’s family seems to accept him. He’s so used to being treated with deference, even by his own kin. When Savarin’s efforts to build up Tournai’s magic lead him into ill health, he’s eternally grateful that his bond with Loriot is more than just a passing fancy.

This is a nice way to tie up many of the stories in the series. There is a lot of affection here, and both Loriot and Savarin are far happier coupled than alone. It’s interesting that there are some plot threads outstanding, and I’m happy to note, though this book was a stopping point for the author before, there are several books available following the next logical connections from this story. I really love the story-telling and feel like I could easily find a home in Tournai, even if I have no magic within me.

Interested? You can find THE SORCERCER’S GUARDIAN on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press gift card!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

Catch up with Antonia on Facebook, and twitter.

A New Life for EVIE AND THE PACK-HORSE LIBRARIANS–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a F/F historical romance from Laurel Beckley. EVIE AND THE PACK_HORSE LIBRARIANS features a young woman with a magical gift getting the shaft (big time) and finding a whole new world that loves and supports her more than her wildest dreams. Also, an extraordinary new lover…

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the giveaway!
About the book:
As an assistant editor at the prestigious Hanhat Publishers, Evie Southiel is entrusted with fine-tuning the manuscripts of the company’s most important authors. Her skills as a book witch allow her to manipulate the stories she reviews and bring them to life.

When her girlfriend steals the secret manuscript of Hanhat’s best-selling author and leaks it to the press, Evie is exiled to become a journey carrier with the Pack-Horse Librarians in the eastern mountains.

Timid city mouse Evie doesn’t know the first thing about surviving in the wilderness, riding a horse, or dealing with the rugged mountain folk and coal miners surrounding the town of Hevis. She does know books, though, and she’s determined to do the best job she can. But that goal is jeopardized when her horse gets spooked on her first solo run, sending her tumbling out of the saddle and into a mysterious woman’s life.

How about a little taste?

A hard knot had formed in Evie’s throat since she was summoned into Mr. Lodge’s corner office, and now the butterflies in her stomach transformed into a hive of angry bees threatening to upset her meager breakfast.

Mr. Lodge gave another long humph, the fifth in as many minutes.

Evie shuffled in her seat, trying to keep her fingers knotted together in her lap, struggling to prevent her feet from tapping with anxiety.

After an eternity, Mr. Lodge looked up from the newspaper, placing it carefully onto his desk. He closed his eyes. When he opened them, his usually cheerful expression was gone, replaced with a stern man Evie didn’t recognize.

“Miss Southeil,” he began, then stopped. Another sigh. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his long nose. Evie unconsciously mimicked the gesture, pushing her own wire-rimmed glasses further onto her face. She caught a glimpse of her ink-stained fingers from the corner of her eye and hastily dropped her hands into her lap, letting her dull-gray skirt envelop them.

Mr. Lodge opened his eyes. “Miss Southeil,” he repeated. “Of all the journeys present, I might have expected this egregious misstep from anyone else. But not from you.”

Evie bit her lip, trying to prevent the knot in her stomach from bringing up actual food onto Mr. Lodge’s manuscript-filled desk—manuscripts she had nurtured into books to be published and read and devoured by the hungry readers of historical fiction. Even among the handful of journey-rank editors at Hanhat Publishing, Evie was special. She knew she had the gift of turning rough sentences into delightful bouquets for the eyes, and yet here she was. Quivering in her boss’s office. Oh, how she had messed up.

Mr. Lodge removed one manuscript from the pile and placed it directly underneath the damning newspaper. Evie stared at it, trying to will away the blasted thing’s existence.

He tapped the stack of papers with an inky finger. “How did you let this come to pass? Our competitors are breathing down our backs, eager for any hint of weakness, and you give them the scoop of the year!”

“I-I’m sorry, Mr. Lodge,” Evie whispered, ducking her chin to prevent tears from escaping. It wasn’t her fault. Well, it was, but it wasn’t. “I won’t—”

“You’re damn right you won’t!” Mr. Lodge slammed his hand onto the table.

Evie squeaked, jumping in her seat.

He reeled in his anger, grimacing at the appendage as though alarmed that such an outburst had come from his body. He heaved another sigh. “Forgive me, but you know as well as I that Mr. Cabot’s novel was to be the highlight of our publishing year. Having the plot…splattered across the gossip rags is an embarrassment to the company and the Guild.”

Evie wanted to curl up inside herself until she became nothing more than a ball of gray cloth, hidden from the world.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, blinking furiously.

Mr. Lodge’s face softened as did his voice. “Evie, I’m not going to fire you.”

She lifted her head, hopeful.

“You’re the best assistant editor I’ve had in years, but I think this promotion came too fast, too soon.” He shook his head sadly. “But it’s no use having you here waiting for this whole scandal to blow over. It’ll harm the company’s reputation, and to have your face associated with this whole thing…” He paused, staring at her until she lifted her head. She tried to meet his gaze and failed. Eye contact had always been a struggle for her. “I’m sending you away,” he declared.

With her head bowed, Evie nodded. “I’ll clear my desk and head to the printers’ office.” The printers’ office was located five blocks away in the factory district. Dark, dingy, labor-intensive, and where Hanhat Publishing usually sent their screw-ups for menial labor.

“No, Evie.” She looked up, startled. “It’s going to be farther than that. I’ve reassigned you to the Librarian’s Guild.”

Evie’s heart lifted. At least she’d be near books. Near words and stories and life. Not confined to operating the massive printing machines, spending every minute in danger of getting an industrial injury. She blinked, realizing that she was still being sent away. Being transferred from one guild to another was hardly unique, but certainly not a common practice.

He went on. “Think of this as an opportunity, a chance to use your journey time to, well, journey.”

Journey? Evie wondered. Members of the Librarian’s Guild were stationed in every city, town, university, and village in Isten with a large enough population to support them, but they certainly did not travel.

“You’ll be part of the pack-horse librarians stationed in District Forty-five,” Mr. Lodge said. Obviously interpreting Evie’s miscomprehension as shock, he added, “This will be a two-year assignment. After that, you may return to Hanhat Publishing. I’ll always need copyeditors.”

“Th-thank you, Mr. Lodge,” Evie stuttered, lips moving automatically, mind still trying to figure out what had happened. Pack-horse librarians? Two years? And a copyeditor? She pressed her fingers to her lips, struggling to choke down bile and disappointment.

Her supervisor slid a folder across the table. It was depressingly thin. Mr. Lodge smiled, a mixture of kind and condescending that hurt worse than any of his words. “Someone will come by your flat to collect any remaining manuscripts. You’re dismissed.”

Evie rose from her chair to stand on legs she wasn’t certain would work and took the folder with shaking hands. She pressed the packet of papers to her stomach and bolted, bumping into her fellow journey, Anda, on her sprint to the bathroom. Once inside, she emptied the contents of her breakfast, along with the entirety of her previous life, into the toilet.

Someone knocked softly on the bathroom door, interrupting Evie’s hundredth heave.

“Evie?” The voice was hesitant.

“One minute.” Evie wiped her mouth and ran cold water over her wrists and face, trying to fight the nausea. She avoided the mirror above the sink. Her eyes were surely red and puffy, her dark skin sallow and splotchy. She didn’t need a mirror for that information.

She opened the door, nearly jumping as her girlfriend Anda burst inside and locked the door behind her. “Evie, I just heard, and I’m so sorry!” She tried to wrap her arms around Evie in a hug.

Evie pushed her away, staring into the face of the girl she had loved so fiercely until that moment in Mr. Lodge’s office. “How could you?” she demanded.

Anda’s eyes widened innocently. “Whatever do you mean?” she asked, placing a hand on her chest.

Rage bubbled in Evie’s chest, replacing the nausea and sickness. “I let you review that manuscript in confidence, Anda,” she hissed, “to help you polish your editing skills.”

If possible, Anda’s eyes opened wider. “Evie,” she cooed, “I gave that manuscript back to you a week ago. You must have misplaced it. You know how forgetful you are.”

Evie shook her head. Tears continued streaking down her cheeks, and she wiped them off vigorously with her sleeve, her fist clenched tightly.

The story had broken the night before, and since Evie had first found out about it as she entered the building for work that morning, she’d had the sinking suspicion that Anda was behind her situation. Evie was allowed to take manuscripts home and help smooth them over, but only with the explicit understanding that no one else could review an author’s latest creation.

“I returned that manuscript to Mr. Lodge a week ago. Besides me, no one but you had hands on it.”

Anda lips twisted in a facsimile of a smile. There was something predatory in her gaze, which Evie had seen her deliver to their fellow apprentices and journeys but never to her.

“Evie, dear, you know it wasn’t me. Just accept responsibility and take your punishment at the pressman’s office.” She bit her lip and looked down, fluttering her eyelashes. The predatory gleam disappeared, replaced by the image of a remorseful girl. “I think that, with all this in mind, we shouldn’t be together anymore.” Her eyelashes fluttered again. “I mean, an assistant editor with a disgraced pressman? That would taint my career.”

Evie gasped, tears beginning to spill out again. Anda’s betrayal was worse than anything she had ever anticipated, but to end their four-year relationship so… callously… was something else.

“I can’t believe you,” she whispered. “I knew you were ambitious, but—”

The remorse vanished, and Anda was replaced by a hardened creature Evie had never seen before.

“But what? I’ve been here eight years, Evie. Do you know how hard I’ve worked only to be passed up by a girl who just got promoted to journey? This position is my due. Not yours.” She sniffed. “And clearly you don’t have the maturity to handle such a job.”

Evie placed a hand over her mouth, trying to stuff her sobs back down her throat as Anda threw open the door and stormed out.

Tears overwhelmed Evie’s senses as she slid down the wall and hit the tiled floor. This was so, so much worse than she had ever imagined. She’d lost her job, been betrayed by her girlfriend, and was being sent away in disgrace.

How would she tell her parents?

My Review:
Evie Corsair is a dark-skinned female near twenty who’s girlfriend of four years, Anda, has just back-stabbed her right out of a job. Evie has rare magic that brings stories to life–which is super helpful in her role as a book editor. But, she’s promptly demoted to a librarian, and sent to the northern reaches of the nation, a mining mountain town called Hevis, to work as a journey librarian. Evie has literally no experience as a horse-riding book deliverer all over a rural countryside, and that’s her new job.

Evie is shattered by the weeks-long journey by train to the station of her new disgrace. And, she’s barely able to communicate with her new colleagues. They think she’s a little nutty, honestly, bringing trunks full of picture books and her two cats hundreds of miles to a nowhere coal mining town of barely literate folk. The station Head Librarian doesn’t think the picture books are a good idea, the cats are a problem with other Librarians, the route is barely more than a rut in the grass, and her first solo run is…disastrous. An animal startles her on the route, and she’s thrown into a ravine. Injured and miles from her destination, she’s lucky to find a big bear of a woman, Katalin, who takes her into a rudimentary cave-home and nurses her back toward health. Evie is captivated by Katalin, and her maimed but rambunctious son. Once they track down her errant horse and mule, Evie is sure she won’t see Katalin again. But the little boy’s uncontrolled magic puts their trio in danger, until Evie finds her voice. The rest is, well, a bit magical.

I loved the little glimpses of magic, and how playful it was. I loved poor Evie, who has so many calamities to endure. Her trials to bring wonderful, beloved, books to the tender denizens of the shacks surrounding Hevis is so chaotic and slapstick, it was easy to be sympathetic. Evie’s disorientation allows the suspense to build around Katalin’s, and her son’s, powers and the revelation is more joyful than anyone could have imagined. The fantasy setting is lush with characters all over the LGBTQ-spectrum, and as the story is meant to begin a trilogy, I’m sure we will get some follow us on all those folks. Don’t expect any steam in this read. It’s light-hearted and whimsical, but, while Katalin and Evie make a true connection, there aren’t any sexytimes on the page.

Interested? You can find EVIE AND THE PACK-HORSE LIBRARIANS on Goodreads, NineStar Press and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 GC to NineStar Press.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Laurel Beckley has been writing ever since she started her first novel the summer before eighth grade—a hand-written epic fantasy catastrophe that has lurked in her mind and an increasingly ratty college-ruled notebook ever since.

She is a writer, Marine Corps veteran, and librarian.

Catch up with Laurel on her website and Twitter.

Finding a Soul Mate WILD WARRIOR–Excerpt and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a M/M paranormal romance from the writing team of Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliot. WILD WARRIOR is the second book in the Weaver’s Circle series and I was excited to read on in this paranormal romance/adventure series. Check out my review for BROKEN WARRIOR the first book in the series, to find out how this all started.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway below!
About the book:
Baer Manning
What happens when Baer spills his big secret about monsters and magic to a total stranger?

Chaos.
In Baer’s defense, he really thought Wiley was a lost brother.

This case of mistaken identity forces the cute artist to stay at the plantation house for his own protection while they search for a way to take down a witch.

Wiley Stuart
He never should have gotten in Baer’s Jeep. But in Wiley’s defense, Baer is really sexy. And funny. And so sweet. And did he mention sexy?

All his life he’d dreamed of superheroes and a life of action. He just never expected to find himself swept up into a world filled with monsters and goddesses.

Wiley will do anything to stay with this magical band of brothers and help them with their fight. He just wished he could be Baer’s soul mate.

Wild Warrior is the second book in the Weavers Circle series. It includes fast-paced action, running through Savannah, secrets, swimming pool fun, shapeshifting, an elephant, sexy times, lots of snakes, insecurity, three crazy old ladies, and magic!

How about a little taste?

There were about five people ahead of Baer in line—all of them staring at their phones or the shiny glass case of a tantalizing rainbow of doughnuts and pastries. Including the sexy blond Mini Cooper owner who was right in front of Baer in line. While Baer was a relatively average height of five ten, the blond was at least a delicate five seven or maybe five eight. The guy looked up from his phone as Baer stepped up behind him, and he flashed a nervous smile.

“Hey,” he greeted in a slightly husky voice and then flushed some more.

Yeah, this guy was all kinds of adorable.

“Mornin’,” Baer replied. “You ever been here before?”

The man shook his head, shoving his phone into his pocket. “No. It was recommended to me recently. When I woke up this morning, I just had to have doughnuts.” He gave a nervous little laugh. “I guess that’s the result of nonstop marketing at its best. It’s fall, so we’ve all gotta eat pumpkin-flavored everything for the next month.”

Blondie had the sexiest southern drawl. It wasn’t too thick. Probably a local, but he’d spent some time out of the area. Just enough to lose some of its natural thickness, but those lilting drawls still mesmerized Baer when he spoke, leaving him wondering how his lips and tongue wrapped around each vowel and consonant.

Good grief. He really did need to grab Grey for a boys’ night out in Savannah if he was going to start fantasizing about a nerdy twink’s mouth. Soul mates and forever sounded great, but it was clear that he needed to get laid. And what better time was there? Things were quiet. They weren’t running and fighting for their lives.

Pumpkin doughnuts and sex could do a growing boy good.

The bell hanging from the front door announced the arrival of another customer. Baer was about to ask the man’s name when the heavy scent of rotting flesh rolled through the room, overpowering the delicious miasma of frosting and fried dough.

Fuck.

He didn’t even need to turn around to know that behind him, pestilents had stepped into the bakery. It wasn’t enough that the alien race was attempting to steal the power of the earth to save their own dying planet while killing all Weavers in the process, but they had to interrupt his attempts at flirting as well? Just not cool.

Silently, Baer cursed himself and his luck. They’d all grown a little complacent over the past couple of months. They’d even started venturing away from the protection of the plantation without backup because the pestilents had stopped attacking.

Apparently they’d gathered enough numbers to make another go at the Weavers, and he’d not been paying enough attention to his surroundings to check to make sure there were no pestilents close. Instead of checking in with the animals in the area that there were no pestilents around, he’d let himself get distracted by big chestnut-brown eyes and a sweet smile.

Twisting around to glance over his shoulder, Baer swore under his breath to find a male and female pestilent standing in front of the door. Humans wouldn’t notice anything different about them, but Weavers could. The air wavered around them as if they radiated heat. And, of course, there was the godawful stench. Pestilents were not meant for this world, and their bodies started rotting from the moment they arrived. Their time in this place was limited, but what time they had was spent trying to kill the Weavers.

The pestilent woman wore a pair of ragged jeans, and her brown hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, making her angular features seem that much sharper. A feral grin pulled across her thin lips when she spotted him. She lifted the shotgun in her hands to her shoulder and pointed it straight at his chest.

Baer sucked in a breath. Was she really going to open fire in a small building crowded with people? Everyone was going to be killed or injured. Not only one fucking Weaver.

Pivoting on the balls of his feet, Baer wrapped an arm around Blondie’s slender waist and dove over the closest table. A shocked yelp left the man’s lips, but he didn’t fight Baer as they tumbled to the floor. With his free hand, Baer grabbed the edge of the table, pulling it onto its side. They landed with the surprisingly thick wooden barrier at their backs just as the shotgun exploded in the room, slamming into the far side of the table and a scattering of chairs.

My Review:
Baer Manning is one of six Weaver Circle warriors reincarnated to save humanity from the rotting pestilents, beings from another realm that are siphoning earth’s energy to save their own world. In the previous story he learned his purpose and connected with two other Weaver warriors, Clay and Grey. Together they are honing their powers to prepare for battle…and finding sexy soulmates to share their lives and struggles with, as well.

Animal Weaver warrior Baer is on a mission to score several dozen pumpkin spice donuts when he spots not only a super hot man entering the bakery, but also a pair of pestilents. So, naturally, he shifts into a cougar and mauls the pestilents to death before they can kill any of the customers. His connection to the slender blonde man is instantaneous, and Baer believes it’s because the man, Wiley Stuart, is a fellow Weaver he was destined to chaperone to their antebellum mansion compound. Turns out though, that Baer was wrong, and his impulse move to bring Wiley to the mansion has now made WIley a potential target for pestilents, without any magic to protect him.

So…Wiley has to stay at chateau Weaver warrior. And, this would be great because both Wiley and Baer have a deep attraction for one another—but Baer doesn’t want to lead Wiley on. Baer’s waiting to find his soulmate, like Clay did with Dane in the first book. It’s a little of an inside joke, I think, because it seems from the start that Grey (who can read the soul and emotions of people as part of his Soul magic) recognizes that Wiley IS Baer’s soulmate. Grey can’t outright tell Baer about it without influencing the situation too much. Instead, Grey makes it a point that Wiley MUST remain in their compound, allowing them time to marinate in their mutual attraction. Later, Grey engineers a more intimate rooming plan that is the last straw to removing all barriers of propriety.

This is an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal adventure romance, so there are definitely moments of action and destruction. The pestilents are upping their game, adding witches to the arsenal to kill Weavers and humans alike. Baer’s always ripping some pestilent to shreds in his animal form–and then upset with the foul taste in his mouth. It’s a fun romp, too, with lots of deadpan humor, and comedy antics with these guys who are a little silly, especially Baer. Wiley is adorbs with a love of all things both comic book and superhero and is crushed to learn that he isn’t a Weaver–because it would be totally cool to save the world! His admiration of Baer is keen and when they finally connect it’s so yummy I might have indulged a bit too much. Wiley’s also a little OCD, which plays into his latent abilities and his desire to help Baer and the rest of the Weavers in any way possible. I loved watching these guys fall for one another, and also learning about a new Weaver brother, Lucien, who brings Fire magic to the pestilent butt-kicking operation. It’s been a fun ride with these folks, and I look forward to reading on in this series.

Interested? You can find WILD WARRIOR on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott have teamed up to combine their evil genius to create intense gay romantic suspense stories that have car chases, shoot outs, explosions, scorching hot love scenes, and tender, tear-jerking moments. Their first joint books are in the Unbreakable Bonds series.

Catch up with Jocelyn and Rinda on their website, Facebook, and twitter.

BROKEN WARRIOR Saving the World–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share an excerpt and giveaway for a M/M paranormal romance from the writing team of Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliot. BROKEN WARRIOR is the first book in the Weaver’s Circle series and it’s off to a great start.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway below!
About the book:
Clay Green
A brotherhood? Monsters? Goddesses? Magic? The world has become a strange place.

After a life on the run, Clay Green is rescued by a crazy old lady with a shotgun and an even crazier story about monsters, goddesses, and a secret brotherhood.

Gifted with the power of the earth, Clay must locate his missing “brothers” before invading monsters can destroy everything. As if that’s not enough to contend with, Clay can’t keep his hands off the man trying to rebuild the plantation house he’s temporarily living in.

Dane Briggs
Something strange is going on…
Dane knew restoring the old plantation house wasn’t going to be an easy job, but at least none of the clients were going to be underfoot. Since losing his wife and child, the only way Dane can keep going is to focus on the work.

But that focus crumbles the second Clay appears covered in blood and barely hanging on to life. Mystery and danger cling to Clay and the other men who suddenly show up. A smart man would walk away.

Dane chucks smart out the window in favor of hungry kisses and the silken slide of skin against skin. He doesn’t understand what’s happening, but there’s no question that Clay needs him. He’s just not sure his heart can survive being broken again if something happens to Clay.

Broken Warrior is the first book in The Weavers Circle series. It includes fast-paced action, explosions, hurt/comfort, sexy times, animal shenanigans, wounded hearts, three crazy old ladies, and magic!

How about a little taste?

“And were you attacked on your walk? Some kind of flying suckerfish? Because that’s definitely not a hickey on your neck,” Baer continued.

Grey lifted his mug of coffee to his lips again, but he paused long enough to agree. “Definitely not a hickey.”

Without thinking, Clay slapped his hand to the spot Dane had sucked on during round one—or was it round three? Fuck, he’d come so many times last night, his balls should need a week to recover, but his dick was refusing to take orders from his brain or balls. The damn thing wanted to say “Fuck coffee” and crawl back into bed with Dane.

Laughter rang out in the kitchen, and Clay groaned. He’d never had a roommate, but he sort of imagined this was what it was like. Fuck, when all six of them were in the plantation house, it would be like a goddamn frat house.

Grabbing a mug out of the cabinet, Clay continued to ignore the duo at the table as he poured himself a cup of liquid sanity. He took his time, adding a little sugar, and then turned to the table. Before he took one step, he lifted a hand, and whatever Baer had been about to say stopped in his throat.

“I won’t discuss it. Not one word,” Clay said firmly.

Baer’s shoulder’s slumped, and his mouth snapped shut. He looked like a sad puppy for all of two seconds before he was up and happy again.

“I’m sure Grey is one of us,” Baer announced, moving on to an entirely new subject. At least this was one Clay was willing to tackle, even if he wasn’t sure he had the brainpower for it yet. If anything, it gave him something to think about besides Dane.

“Yeah, I kind of thought that last night too.”

Clay settled into a chair across from Baer and Grey. He could use a long, hot shower and a clean set of clothes, but one look at the eager expression on Baer’s face and he knew the man would follow him to the bathroom to discuss this. He could do without them sharing the bathroom with him.

“When I saw him running with you toward the Jeep last night, I swear I got the weirdest feeling of déjà vu. I know we’ve done this all before. Well, maybe not at that club, but the running together, the fighting together.” Baer rested his forearms on the table and leaned forward. “Even when we got back to the house, I felt like I knew him. Known him my whole life.”

“The same way you feel with me?”

Baer nodded.

Clay looked over at Grey, who had both hands wrapped around the dark-blue coffee mug resting on the table in front of him. A deep frown was pulling at the corners of his mouth and drawing lines between his thick eyebrows. Without the threat of death and destruction looming over their heads, Clay took a moment to actually look at the man. Gray hair highlighted his temples, and more of it flecked the closely trimmed beard lining his jaw and chin. He was paler than himself and Baer, as if he were more likely to spend long hours inside the house, but there was no missing the lean muscles that filled out his wrinkled button-down shirt. Maybe a swimmer. Or a runner.

“What do you think?” Clay prodded when Grey remained silent.

“That this is all stupid, ridiculous, and utterly impossible,” Grey grumbled. His hands tightened on his mug, but he didn’t lift it back to his mouth.

“But?”

“I can’t deny I have the same feeling of déjà vu with both of you. Something-something inside of me keeps claiming that I know.”

Clay glanced over at Baer. “Did you tell him?”

“Oh, he fucking told me so much,” Grey answered for him with a rough bark of laughter. “Powers and goddesses and other dimensions with alien monsters trying to kill us so they can destroy the world. I heard plenty last night.”

Closing his eyes, Clay pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed heavily. Yeah, that was pretty much how it all sounded. Insane and impossible. That was his life now to a T. Opening his eyes again, he stared at Baer. “And you told him all this stone-cold sober?”

Baer’s chest puffed up and he grinned broadly at his friend. “No!”

Clay rolled his eyes.

“I found that cheap bottle of whiskey we lost. I think Jo hid it. But anyway, we killed that bottle, and I explained about the pestilents, Weavers, and the Circle.”

Clay looked over at Grey, waiting for his response on how the hell he took this information while loaded up on cheap whiskey.

“And then he turned into an ostrich,” Grey said in a deadpan voice.

“I was trying for a peacock. Something flashy,” Baer commented in a low voice.

“Broke the coffee table.”

“I panicked!”

“You were drunk!” Clay shouted.

“Birds are hard,” Baer muttered under his breath, his eyes locked on his coffee mug in front of him in a pout.

My Review:
Clay Green is losing his mind. He’s on the run from foul-smelling humanoids who are hell-bent to kill him–and he has NO idea why. Inexplicably he’s saved from a brutal attack by…wait for it…a shot-gun toting granny. Turns out she’s an Earth goddess, and Clay is the first of the reincarnated Weaver warriors who are destined to save earth from annihilation.

As Clay soon learns from the goddesses who tend his injuries and transfer his Earth magic into his body, he is destined to join with five other warriors who are being called to a dilapidated antebellum estate, much like he was. They will all receive their magical powers back, and train together to defeat the encroaching Pestilents. These beings from another realm have been siphoning earth energy to save their dying world. When they cross between realms their flesh immediately begins to slowly rot away, giving rise to the stench Weavers can sense. Clay finds the whole story preposterous, until he gets his Earth magic–and meets Baer, who is the Animal Magic Weaver brother he is drawn to protect. With the goddesses popping in and out, and the continued pestilent attacks, it’s much easier to accept his role in the plan to save the world.

This is also a romance, and things get downright steamy for Clay and Dane–the caretaker that’s renovating the Weaver mansion. Dane is bisexual, and has some emotional demons from his pat that plague his decision to connect sexually with Clay, but their bond becomes too great to ignore–landing Dane in trouble to some degree as a target of the pestilents. Their bonding ceremony is sweet, and brings an unexpected boon of healing magic to Dane, so he’s now a greater asset to the Weavers than first imagined.

I really liked this one, and expect we’re going to have five more books to follow the love stories of the other five brothers. At the end of this one only three of the six Weavers have been found: Clay, Baer and Grey (who reads minds and emotions as the Soul Magic Weaver). Baer and Grey need soulmates, and they all need to find three more Weavers so they can take down the pestilents once and for all. I was glad, honestly, that there are still Weavers to find, as we had a LOT of characters to keep track of in this story, and adding more would have been distracting. The love story didn’t seem to take over the adventure or magic bits, and I enjoyed that balance.

I’m eager to read on in this series!

Interested? You can find BROKEN WARRIOR on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott have teamed up to combine their evil genius to create intense gay romantic suspense stories that have car chases, shoot outs, explosions, scorching hot love scenes, and tender, tear-jerking moments. Their first joint books are in the Unbreakable Bonds series.

Catch up with Jocelyn and Rinda on their website, Facebook, and twitter.

Mama Drama in a DRAGON DILEMMA–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M paranormal romance from Mell Eight. DRAGON DILEMMA is the third book in the Supernatural Consultant series, which features a dragon, a demigod and a passel of rambunctious dragon kits. You already know I enjoyed both previous stories, DRAGON CONSULTANT and DRAGON DECEPTION, so I jumped at the chance to read on in this series.

Scroll down for an excerpt, and to enter the giveaway for a $10 GC.
About the book:
Dane hasn’t spoken with his mother in years and he’s never met his father. But somehow his mother finds out about Mercury and the kits anyway, and it’s difficult to throw one’s mother out when she happens to be a powerful, dangerous witch.

She isn’t the only uninvited guest, and the others are even less likely to take no for an answer—and much more likely to leave everyone dead if they don’t get what they want.

How about a little taste?

Saturday-morning breakfast was always chaotic. With seven kits running around, it was inevitable, and Daisy—the babysitter/housekeeper who helped to look after the kits—had weekends off. Daisy somehow managed to corral all the kits into line for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and got them to their lessons with their tutor on time. Dane, on the other hand, was lucky he still had a standing kitchen.

Lumie and Alloy were chasing each other in circles around the kitchen island, yelling excitedly about something. Their words were too garbled for Dane to catch. Lumie’s red hair kept flashing by, followed by Alloy’s mix of blue-and-red hair. Copper and Zinc were yelling at each other from opposite sides of the island. Their argument stemmed from something that had gotten spilled in the bathroom, which might also explain why Copper smelled particularly flowery this morning. Copper would probably smell like that for days; as a fire dragon, he avoided proper baths as much as possible. Even though he was eight years older than his youngest siblings—much too old to be skipping baths—his hair was the same shade of red as Lumie’s and Alloy’s. Zinc was an air dragon the same age as Copper. Her hair was white and she kept it in one long braid down her back to avoid getting it tangled in her magic.

Chrome and ’Ron were also arguing—this time about frogs. Why? Dane couldn’t even fathom a guess. The answer might scar him for life. Over the last year, ’Ron had cut her brown hair into long spikes and had traded frilly dresses for sparkly pairs of jeans. She was still cleaner and more put together than Chrome, whose brown hair was actually longer than hers and usually contained a few sticks and leaves tangled in his curls, but she was more willing to go frog hunting now. Or frog dissecting. Again, Dane really didn’t want to know.

Luckily, Mercury was at the stove calmly flipping pancakes on the electric griddle. His bronze hair was long on his collar and still sleep mussed. Dane had to hide a grin because he knew exactly what had caused Mercury to look so disheveled this morning, and it wasn’t a kit-friendly topic.

“Kits who aren’t sitting quietly don’t get pancakes.” Mercury didn’t say it loudly, but he didn’t have to. Copper, Zinc, Chrome, and ’Ron immediately shut up and took their seats around the island. Lumie stopped by the spice drawer to pull out the extra-large bottle of cinnamon before he and Alloy also settled quietly into their places.

The threat of being denied pancakes was a serious one. Dane went to the pantry to grab the syrup—another extra-large bottle, because dragons were sugar fiends—and set it in front of his seat as he took his own spot at the island.

“I’m going to have to shovel the driveway this morning,” Dane said into the quiet kitchen. “I’d appreciate everyone’s help.” Copper, Lumie, and Alloy looked immediately interested—they could melt the snow with their fire magic as long as they didn’t leave puddles of water that would eventually turn the driveway into a skating rink. Nickel, the only kit who had been sitting quietly the entire time, nodded to tell Dane he was in too. He liked playing with frozen water just as much as unfrozen. Nickel was the only full water dragon living under Dane’s roof, his blue hair and bright blue eyes a stark contrast to the other kits’. Alloy had been genetically altered in the egg to have both fire and water magic, but he spent most of his time with Copper and Lumie, so fire was his preferred method of choice.

None of the kits made a peep of agreement or disagreement. The pancake rule was still in effect, apparently, but at least Dane wouldn’t be shoveling his driveway on his own.

Mercury brought the plate over and the steaming scent of buttery pancakes enveloped the table. Chrome was actually drooling, Dane thought, but he didn’t look too closely. There was a sudden popping noise and a sealed envelope appeared directly on top of the stack.

Dane knew that spell. Hell, he knew the handwriting on the envelope, just as he also knew that the sender had chosen to have it materialize on the food on purpose. Mercury pulled it from the stack of pancakes and read Dane’s name on the front, then held it out for Dane to take with a quizzical look on his face. Dane’s hand wasn’t shaking when he forced it to reach out and take the envelope from Mercury. It wasn’t, he reassured himself, but he wasn’t breathing either.

“I’m starving!” Chrome moaned. Mercury smiled at him and grabbed a fork to begin filling everyone’s plates. The syrup disappeared with alarming quickness while Dane was staring at the cramped cursive. That handwriting was so familiar and so damned frightening.

“Who is the letter from, Dane?” Mercury asked.

Dane looked up just in time to see Lumie liberally coat his syrup-drenched pancakes in cinnamon. Copper and Alloy each had their turn with the cinnamon before Dane remembered that Mercury had asked him a question.

“It’s from my mother,” Dane said as unemotionally as he could. If he didn’t suppress what he was feeling, he might start screaming or crying.

Mercury put his fork down on his plate, which was just as drenched in syrup as his kits’, and stared at Dane with his bronze eyes. “The one who’s a god?” he asked. Dane was the child of a god, something he had told Mercury before they became mates, but Dane had never gone into specifics. Mercury had seemed to sense that it was a difficult topic for Dane and had never asked for more detail.

“No,” Dane replied. “My mother is one of the few witches in the world strong enough to summon a god, though.” At Mercury’s blank look, Dane sighed. “The Isle Crone?”

Mercury’s jaw dropped. “Your mother is the Isle Crone?” he gasped.

“Who’s that?” Zinc asked curiously.

“We have a grandma?” ’Ron added. She bounced in her seat with excitement. Mercury’s lips tightened and Dane had to hide a wince. It wasn’t Mercury’s fault that dragons in the wild had to abandon their kits so they didn’t inadvertently end up killing them over a territory dispute. Mercury didn’t have the first idea of where to find his parents or any of his siblings. Dane had a mother who was the Isle Crone and a father he had never met and probably never would.

“She’s not the cookie-baking type,” Dane tried to explain to ’Ron. She was more of the biblical-smiting type. She was the territory leader of the British Isles, and she ran her territory with an iron fist. No one dared to challenge her because she was that powerful and that ruthless. For all that, she wasn’t evil. Mostly she was controlling, and no one was allowed to live their lives outside of how she dictated. It made her one of the more well-known territory leaders in the world.

Dane had left her house as soon as he was old enough to get away. Actually, escaped her house was probably a more accurate description. He had traveled all the way across the ocean to flee from her, but that hadn’t been nearly far enough, thanks to the more modern and less taxing innovations to basic transportation magic. Luckily, she wasn’t more powerful than Dane, so she couldn’t force him to return with her magic, but she had made her displeasure known many times since then.

His favorite instance was when she had instructed the largest witch coven in England to curse him. He had managed to counter it before he found out what exactly it was supposed to do to him, but the end result, according to his mother, was supposed to have been him crawling back to her for help and falling under her thumb again. She had sent a letter much like the one he was holding to tell him how disappointed she was that he had managed to avoid that fate.

That, along with a number of other difficulties she had caused throughout the years, was why he hadn’t spoken to her in at least a decade and had hoped to go a few decades more before having to even think about her again.

“What’d she write?” Chrome asked through a mouthful of food.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Mercury immediately scolded. Chrome frowned but obediently shut his mouth.

My Review:
This is the third story in a series, and best enjoyed when read in series.

Dane, a demigod, and his husband Mercury, a precious dragon shifter, have been diligently assisting dragons in need for the past five years, while also raising their clutch of mis-matched and genetically-modified kits.

In this episode, Dane is startled to receive a letter from his mother, a very powerful witch in the UK, announcing she’ll make a visit to her grandkits. Tomorrow. Except, he’s used to his mother’s machinations and isn’t even surprised when she turns up incognito on the day her letter arrives. And her prejudice against dragons is immediately apparent–and quickly disarmed the more she interacts with the kits, who are extremely engaging.

Meanwhile, the supernatural beings that control the territories adjacent to Dane’s are banging at his wards, convinced that Dane has been surreptitiously making strikes into their areas. It’s a dicey situation, as they are prepared to fight and strip Dane of his power. Two of these beings aren’t strong enough to do it, but the third, whose inclined to believe he was summoned on false pretenses, is immensely powerful. He’s also intrigued by this dragon family, and the dragon village Dane and Mercury have cultivated in his territory. Turns out, someone was playing a long game, trying to wrest the kits from Dane and Mercury, and it’s up to the kits and grandma to save the day.

I think the pacing got a little slow in the middle, with the mundane interactions of the kits and their quirky family taking center-stage. I like the kits, and I did understand why their behavior became so important, eventually. There is a nice bit of conflict leading up to the climax, and Dane’s allies are growing in number and power, compared to his enemies, who continue to reveal themselves. One thing is for sure, Dane and Mercury are rock solid to their commitment to each other, their kits, and dragons in need.

Interested? You can find DRAGON DILEMMA on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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

Managing a DRAGON DECEPTION–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M paranormal romance from Mell Eight. DRAGON DECEPTION features a couple of supernatural men raising a passel of dragon kits. I really enjoyed DRAGON CONSULTANT, which describes how demi-god Dane and precious dragon Mercury meet and fall for one another, so I couldn’t wait to read on in this series.

About the book:
A life full of children and mysteries to solve doesn’t leave much time for relaxation or each other, something Lumie wants to help fix for Dane and Mercury by way of arranging a picnic. But good intentions and life rarely cooperate, and Dane knows it’s only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose.

Hell turns out to be someone using Quicksilver’s name to destroy buildings, but there’s no way to tell whether the enemy is an impostor or a trap. Hopefully it won’t mean missing the picnic

My Review:
Dane is a demigod who shares his life and home with Mercury, an adult dragon. Mercury was destroying secret labs humans built to experiment on dragon kits and eggs–he adopted several orphaned and genetically engineered kits and Dane is raising them all as a family for the past five years. Each of the Kits has some special magical tricks, and Mercury has some powerful magic himself, being a precious Copper dragon. They have a loud and love-filled home, and Dane has established a small sanctuary dragon village within his domain of protection. There are lots of prejudices about dragons, because they have been traditionally considered wild and untrainable. Mercury and Dane have started to prove otherwise.

Mercury is an analyst for the SupFeds, but today he’s being paired with an impatient and surly female agent, Valerie, to investigate a suspected arson committed by Quicksilver–the alias Mercury himself developed when he was smashing dragon labs to bits. So, he knows this is a copy-cat situation, as he hasn’t destroyed any labs in roughly 5 years. Valerie is used to getting stonewalled and having to work double-hard for no acclaim, so she’d not enthused to be paired with Mercury, but Mercury is sure Valerie is sincere in her wish to hunt down the dragon torturers. The crime scene becomes a trap, as Mercury anticipated, and both Dane and the kit Lumie have to remove the tainted curse and save Mercury from a bad scene.

Valerie’s frustration melts a bit, learning how committed Mercury and Dane are to their cause to save dragons–and this includes her kit-sitting when Dane and Mercury head off to round up a female and her kits who barely escaped capture in Dane’s territory only a few days before. Turns out these two story lines interweave, as the arson perpetrator is hoping to catch a bunch of dragons for experiments.

This continuing love story highlights the partnership between Mercury and Dane, and how their quirky-odd family keeps everyone safe and well. Little Lumie steals the spotlight often, and his magic would be a fearsome as Dane’s if it wasn’t so quixotic. As with the first story, there are only glimpses at the physical relationship, but these are plentiful. It’s really a solid paranormal-adventure series with some romantic elements. I’m a fan of Dane and Mercury, and want to see the kits grow into their powers, soon.

Interested? You can find DRAGON DECEPTION on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

About the Author:
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Embracing Love in THE SCHOLAR’S HEART–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M fantasy romance from Antonia Aquilante. THE SCHOLAR’S HEART is the third story in her Chronicles of Tournai series. I really enjoyed THE PRINCE’S CONSORT, and THE ARTIST’S MASQUERADE, so I was eager to read Etan’s love story.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Though he is the youngest son of a royal duke, Etan is a scholar at heart, happiest in a library surrounded by his books. He contentedly juggles his work for the prince’s government with his studies of the history and legends of Tournai, a subject of particular interest to him because he shares the secret magical Talent that runs in the royal bloodline. However, Etan’s peaceful world turns upside down when his best friend—the man he secretly loves—unexpectedly marries someone else.

Tristan is the oldest son of a wealthy merchant, raised to shoulder responsibility for the family business one day. That day comes far sooner than anticipated, and he makes a deathbed promise to his father to marry the woman his father chose and become head of the company and family. Tristan values his friendship with Etan and has always been attracted to him, but he can’t forsake his duty to his father, even if it means giving up the possibility of having Etan as a lover.

A year later, Tristan is a widower with an infant daughter and a mother who demands he marry again quickly—something Tristan resists. Circumstances throw Etan and Tristan together again, but even as they succumb to the desires they’ve always harbored, Etan battles his feelings, wary of being cast aside once more. When the unimaginable happens, Etan and Tristan must come together and support each other through the ordeal…and maybe beyond.

How about a yummy taste?

Prologue
One year earlier

“There you are!”

Tristan’s musical voice made the simple sentence something special, or perhaps Etan’s feelings made it seem so. Etan smiled as he looked up from his book, a glow of warmth and welcome lighting him up inside.

Tristan strode into the small room Etan had claimed for his own in the palace’s labyrinthine library. He had a desk in the university library as well, but these days, out of necessity and preference both, he conducted most of his work in this cozy little room. Obscure history books filled the shelves lining the walls. The table in the center of the room held Etan’s notes on his studies and projects, all neatly organized so he could find anything he wanted quickly. But this morning he slouched on the comfortable couch instead, book propped in his lap.

He sat there, book forgotten as he watched Tristan, the morning sun streaming in through the window and glinting off Tristan’s bright gold hair. Tristan seemed to bring the sunshine into the room with him, brightening what had been an ordinary morning until that moment.

“Good morning, Tristan.”

“Good morning to you.” Tristan sent a flirtatious smile in his direction and skirted the table, coming closer.

“It’s good to see you.” He probably sounded ridiculous, but he hadn’t seen Tristan in a few days and, well, he’d missed him.

Tristan’s smile warmed, turning a bit softer. “You too.”

Etan frowned as Tristan flopped on the couch at Etan’s side. Not at the action, but at the look in Tristan’s eyes. The brilliant blue seemed shadowed somehow. “Everything all right?”

“Fine. Why do you ask?”

“No reason. You just seem a little…” Etan shrugged. He couldn’t quite put a word to it, and he couldn’t very well say he didn’t think Tristan’s eyes sparkled as much as they usually did. “Troubled, maybe.”

Tristan was quiet for a moment and then scooted closer and rested his head on Etan’s shoulder. “I’m fine. A little tired. What are you up to?”

“Doing some reading.”

“For work or pleasure?”

Etan suppressed a shiver at the way Tristan’s voice shaped the word pleasure. Certainly, it had to be unconscious on Tristan’s part, but it put ideas into Etan’s head he didn’t want there, not yet, not when he and Tristan hadn’t spoken of feelings between them beyond friendship. But he could see those feelings were there. Perhaps he should just come right out and kiss Tristan. Tristan seemed to be over what feelings he’d had for Amory, Tristan’s lifelong friend who was now married to Etan’s cousin. Etan didn’t see any of the emotion or longing he used to in the glances Tristan sent Amory’s way. Maybe Etan had waited long enough.

He’d certainly paused long enough before answering. “A bit of both. Want me to read to you?”

He’d read to Tristan before, many times, sometimes with Tristan sitting as he was now, snuggled up against Etan’s side, sometimes with Tristan lying with his head in Etan’s lap. Tristan seemed to like when Etan read to him, seemed to enjoy the legends and histories Etan habitually occupied himself with, seemed to even enjoy when Etan forgot himself and ran his fingers through Tristan’s soft hair as he read. Etan hadn’t read to anyone before except for his youngest sister, Meriall, but reading to Tristan was a far different experience from reading bedtime stories. He liked it, liked having Tristan close and hearing Tristan’s comments and reactions.

“I’m not sure I can sit still today. I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right.” He’d realized early on in their friendship Tristan was an athletic person who enjoyed being active and outdoors. Etan came to treasure the moments of stillness and quiet, when he saw Tristan’s intellectual side and his softer side in equal measure, but he enjoyed sharing the other more active times with Tristan too. Tristan always made the rides through the countryside and the hikes along the cliffs and the rambles over the beach fun. “What would you like to do?”

“Will you go for a ride with me?”

He thought briefly of the work awaiting him in the office he shared with Cathal, of his plans to spend the morning with his books and his studies before he returned to that work. And tossed it all aside with one glance into Tristan’s eyes. As he always did. His books would still be there when he returned to them later.

And he wasn’t convinced Tristan really was all right.

“Of course. Shall we go now?”

When Tristan agreed, Etan set his book aside and tidied away a few papers. On the way to the stables, they stopped in Etan’s suite so he could change into riding boots, but they didn’t dally otherwise. Stable hands saddled their horses quickly, and they mounted up. They rode together out of the palace gates and through the city, an easy conversation flowing between them. Once they left the city, Etan let Tristan lead. When Tristan took the road leading out to the cliffs, Etan knew his suspicions about Tristan’s state of mind were correct. Tristan seemed to prefer a gallop along the cliffs when he felt he needed to escape something, some pressure in his life. He talked to Etan about it sometimes, at least a little, but only after the ride.

As Etan expected, Tristan veered off the road as they neared the cliffs. The path he chose wound through some trees until it ended in the meadows overlooking the sea. Once they were through the trees, the view opened up before them, with fields dotted with wildflowers and a rocky precipice tumbling down to the vivid blue of the sea. The area was one of Etan’s favorites. He’d rather walk along the cliffs or picnic at the top so he could better appreciate the view, but riding was exhilarating too. Well, any ride with Tristan was. Tristan was a skilled and fearless horseman, who ended each ride flushed and smiling. Etan always wanted to grab him close and kiss him when he saw Tristan that way, to see if he could make Tristan breathless for another reason entirely.

Maybe today he would.

He put the thought out of his head as best he could for the moment as Tristan urged his horse into a gallop and took off parallel to the cliff edge. Etan hurried to follow. If he thought about it too much, he risked falling off his horse, which would certainly end any chance of kissing Tristan today.

Instead he concentrated his thoughts outward to the sea- and flower-scented wind blowing in his face, to the sunlight warming his skin. The day was perfect for spring, a little cool early in the morning but pleasant as the sun climbed. The sky was clear, the sea calm. There would be fishermen out in their boats, working to bring in the day’s catch. But they weren’t close; no one was close enough to intrude on his solitude with Tristan.

He watched Tristan, slightly ahead of him. Tristan really did ride well, better than Etan did, but then Tristan had probably spent most of his childhood trying to get on a horse while Etan had spent his sneaking off to the library. Or using his Talent to change himself into a cat and climbing trees. But, most often, the library. And given where Tristan had found him this morning, not much had changed. But he did come out when Tristan asked. Unlike when he was a child and his brothers would come and pounce on him and drag him from the room.

If Tristan wanted to pounce on him, it would be another story entirely.

After a while, Tristan began to slow his horse, and Etan followed. Upon reaching the point, they paused to take in the view and then turned back for home, riding side by side at a much more leisurely pace. Etan expected Tristan to be more relaxed, even laughing, after the long gallop as he so often was, but if anything, he seemed more pensive.

Etan let Tristan have his silence, even though it pained him to do so. He wanted to help, to make whatever it was right again. Tristan had cheered him up often enough, and they’d bolstered each other’s strength through bad times. But Tristan had to speak in his own time, and he’d never actually ask for help even when he did.

Tristan didn’t speak until they were almost all the way back to Jumelle. “My father wants me to marry.”

Etan’s brain stuttered. He had to have heard wrong. He whipped around to look at Tristan, but Tristan was still staring straight ahead. “What? Did you say he wants you to marry?”

“He’s dying, Etan,” Tristan said in a small, quiet voice that made Etan hurt.

“Tristan. I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you.” Tristan glanced up at the sky for a moment, and Etan gave him his privacy to pull himself together, or what passed for privacy when they were riding side by side. “He wants me settled, since I’m to run the business when he’s gone. He wants the business settled too.”

Tristan’s family business was the largest shipping concern in Tournai, and as Tournai was a country rich in trade, owing in part to a quirk of geography, the business was a prosperous one. Etan could understand somewhat Tristan’s father wanting him to be settled down if he was to be both the head of the business and the head of the family. Old-fashioned, perhaps, but there was probably some real concern for Tristan in his father’s desire too.

Etan worked himself up to suggest perhaps the two of them could wed. Not right away, but they could make an agreement and use a betrothal period to see if they would suit. Etan believed they would, but he was already thinking of ways to convince Tristan and Tristan’s father, if necessary. Etan’s own father would be difficult, he was sure—as a duke, his father would want Etan to make a more advantageous marriage to a lady of noble birth—but he could deal with Father later.

But all those thoughts—all the hope that came with them—screeched to a halt when Tristan spoke. “I’m to marry a daughter of a friend of Father’s, Dariela. They think it will be good for the business.”

“You already know—you’re marrying a woman? That woman?”

Etan had no idea who she was—she might be a perfectly lovely person—but he couldn’t understand Tristan marrying her, or marrying any woman. Tristan preferred men, the same as Etan did. Etan had hoped Tristan might just plain prefer him.

“Father thinks it’s best. For the family and the business.”

“Yes, but—what about you? What do you think?”

Tristan shrugged. “I must live up to my responsibilities to the family and the business. I have to run everything as Father would want. He shouldn’t be dying so young.”

“I know he shouldn’t. It’s awful.” Etan scrubbed a hand over his face. “He’s been to see the healers? I’m sure Jadis would see him if I asked.”

“He has, and Amory already had Jadis examine him. This illness has gone on too long undetected and untreated. His heart is too weak now.”

“I am so very sorry, Tristan.” He wanted to pull Tristan into a hug, to hold him and try to bear some of the pain and grief for him, but they were on horses. And Tristan was about to marry someone else. “Are you sure about this marriage though?”

“I don’t see a reason not to marry her. Do you?”

The statement was a stab of pain to his gut. He had to bite back a gasp, it seemed so real, so physical. He managed to murmur something that might have been an agreement, because what else could he do? If Tristan didn’t see a reason not to marry this woman, Etan could hardly give him one.

By the time Etan arrived back at the palace, he felt as if a yawning, empty hole had opened inside him. His head was buzzing, and he couldn’t seem to think quite straight. His feet carried him to his office. But when he walked into the empty room, he just dropped down into his chair and stared at the polished top of his desk, clean of papers since he’d tidied up yesterday.

Tristan was getting married.

He and Tristan would never be anything other than friends, and Tristan obviously wanted it so, was fine with it. Perhaps Etan had been wrong about Tristan’s feelings all this time.

“Etan?”

Etan looked up, but it took him a moment to understand what he was seeing. He hadn’t even heard the door open. “Cathal.”

Panic, an emotion he seldom saw in his stoic older brother, flooded Cathal’s face. “What is it? What’s happened?”

“Tristan is marrying.” Pain spasmed through him as he said the words, but he had to say them, had to get used to hearing them. Tristan was marrying, and all chance Etan might have had with him was gone.

My Review:
This is the third book in a fantasy series, and likely best enjoyed when read in sequence, though it can be read as a standalone.

Etan is a cousin to Philip, the Crown Prince of Tournai, a small but well-situated country with a bustling trade port in its capital city of Jumelle. Etan lives in the palace with Philip his consort-husband Amory and Etan’s brother Cathal who is married to Flavian, an artist who escaped the emperor of Ardunn’s plots to enslave him for his Talent. Etan and Cathal are ministers (of a sort) in the governance of Tournai, indispensable to both Philip and Amory–with whom they are both family and close friends.

Two years ago Etan fell hard for Amory’s childhood friend Tristan, and he thought his love was reciprocated, though they had no physical demonstrations. Etan is a shy man, a noted scholar at the university in addition to his duties to the crown. He didn’t quite know how to approach Tristan with his desire for intimacy, especially because he was sensitive to Tristan’s heartbreak when Amory married the Prince. Over their acquaintance, Etan–who is usually best at home in his library–makes time to spend with Tristan socially. He was about to propose marriage when Tristan stuns Etan by deciding to marry a woman, and their friendship essentially disintegrates. A year has gone by and Tristan’s wife has just died in the process of childbirth. And duties to Tristan’s place as Amory’s oldest friend necessitate bringing Tristan and Etan back together.

Tristan never loved his wife. He preferred men, as his father knew, but Tristan felt pressured to marry a woman to create heirs for the shipping company he now runs. As the eldest of the family, Tristan runs the business since his father died shortly after his wedding. That was the reason to marry with haste, after all. He didn’t hate his wife, but they were more cordial acquaintances than lovers, and he’s mourning the loss of her in his baby daughter Bria’s life. Tristan is furious that his high-handed mother sent the Prince’s chief healer away during the birth because his healing Talent could have saved his wife–and he’s appalled that his mother has plans to take his infant to her own home to raise. No, he will not allow this, but his mother is sneaky. If she can’t raise the baby herself she’s going to pressure Tristan into another marriage to a woman who can raise the baby. It’s a problem.

Tristan is happy to welcome Etan back into his life, but he’s quick to notice that Etan is not the same close friend anymore. He’s reserved and their relations are strained. Tristan doesn’t understand, and he’s shocked when Etan sends his an evil eye one night when their paths cross, because Etan witnesses Tristan leaving teh gathering with intent to bed a man he picked up there. Etan has never gotten over the hurt he felt when Tristan married, but he’s never spoken about the depth of his feelings with anyone, let alone Tristan. Some hard truths have to come out if these men are going to salvage thier friendship, and plan for a future together.

As with the previous books, there is court intrigue and troubles both within and abroad. Tristan’s troubles are all domestic, and he’s pitted against his own mother for the right to live his adult life as he sees fit. He’s a doting father, and his love for Bria grows by the day. It is in contrast to the machinations of his mother that Tristan begins to see Etan in a new light. And, he’s eager to pursue a lasting liaison if Etan is willing. Etan, for his part, saw Tristan as his forever person, and he’s afraid to let himself love him again and get his heart obliterated. Still, he follows the counsel of Cathal, begining a physical relationship with Tristan if they can remain monogamous. He still keeps his emotions separate, for a time–even when Tristan is all in. And, when Etan finally decides to give his whole heart back to Tristan, it’s at the exact moment Tristan needs his unconditional love the most, because Bria is in danger this daddy is a hot mess.

I really liked the story, and how Etan and Tristan navigate their paths to reconnection. Their previous friendship was a solid foundation, but Tristan soon realized he was more selfish in that arrangement, never seeing or comprehending the lengths that Etan went to to allow their friendship to flourish. His awakening to these situations has come at a hard cost, but he strives every day to do it better, and be a better man. He regrets the compromises he made that shut Etan out of his life, but his love for Bria is a boon. The love story grew reliably and equally this second time around. Expect some real courting, lots of court business, and scholars getting a handle on new and exciting information. Tristan makes the big leap for love, and Etan is not long in following him.

Not sure where this series is going, but there are plenty of royal cousins who could get the happily Ever Afters in the service of Tournai.

Interested? You can find THE SCHOLAR’S HEART on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press gift card!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

Catch up with Antonia on Facebook, and twitter.

Sniffing Out a Traitor: GE-MI: PART TWO–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M paranormal romance from Mell Eight. GE-MI:PART TWO is the second book in the GE-MI universe; this time Taylor tells the story. These stories take place in a post-apocalyptic world where Ge-Mi’s, animal-human hybrids, try to co-exist with humans in territories that escaped the carnage of war. Catch my review of GE-MI: PART ONE to catch up on Nevada and Taylor’s love story.

About the book:
A hundred years ago, evil scientists spliced human genes with those of animals, creating a genetic mutation passed on through the generations. Hated because of their differences, these Ge-Mis live on the fringes of society where they scrounge and scrape to get by.

Taylor Reyes was born to privilege, but despite that has always been considered an abomination. He was the child that should never have been born and has spent his life trying to prove his worth to the world to no avail. As a red wolf Ge-Mi, humans look at his furry ears before his accomplishments, and no matter how hard he continues to work Taylor knows that will never change. Still, he has a grandfather that loves him and a pack of his own to lead. The life he created for himself is not a bad one, until one day a pair of adorable cat ears derails everything.

The thought of finding a mate had never crossed Taylor’s mind, but suddenly he can’t stop thinking about Nevada. There’s no time for the distraction, though, as people are moving to unseat his grandfather from the city’s throne. The fight has just begun, but ending it might mean Taylor will lose Nevada forever.

My Review:
Nevada and Taylor Reyes are Ge-Mi, human-animal hybrids, living in a post-apocalyptic world. All the major cities crumbled following the Great Wars, and warlords–or just Lords–rule the territories that remain. Ge-Mis were the result of scientific experimentation about 150 years prior. The object of the gene splicing was to eradicate human illness with enhanced animal genes–though some entities took this way too far, trying to create supersoldiers.

Taylor is wolf Ge-Mi and heir to the Reyes rule in the territory in which they live. His grandpa is human, and some of the humans in his family are angry that he would choose his half-breed grandson to take over when he should die. And, recent events have made it clear that someone is willing to speed up that process–and maybe kill Taylor, too, so another heir can ascend to power.

This episode is told from Taylor’s POV, and he’s totally gone over his beau Nevada, a snow-leopard waiter who raises stray cats for fun. When the book opens we learn that one of Taylor’s cousins has been killed–purportedly because he was a traitor. And, the eye-witnesses are shadier than a willow tree. Taylor’s pack is on the case, but they’ve been infiltrated by bad elements. Nevada becomes a target, and it’s clear that the plot to unseat both Taylor and his grandpa is farther reaching than anyone had expected within their family.

I liked the action, and I like how things are developing between Taylor and Nevada; romantically, Nevada wants to take things slow, and Taylor is willing to make each step an adventure–except he’s running himself ragged. I do love that these shifters have so much fun petting one another! The story is interesting, and I’m intrigued about the new characters and how they will fit into the next story.

Interested? You can find GE-MI: PART TWO on Goodreads, currently on sale at NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.

About the Author:
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Friends Unite in COME ON, GET LUCKY–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today, I’m sharing a review for a new M/M shifter + vampire romance from Jacqueline Rohrbach. COME ON, GET LUCKY features a bummed out wolf shifter and his bestie being treated to a week of no-strings sex at a vampire fete–where they both fall in love.

Scroll down for your chance to win a $10 GC, catch the excerpt and pick up a copy for yourself.
About the book:
Grant is looking for love, but there’s one big problem—himself. Due to Grant’s massive size, not to mention the fact he’s also a werewolf, all the eligible bachelors steer clear of him, preferring men who are a little less ginormous and a lot less monstrous. Only Lee, Grant’s best friend and vampire extraordinaire, sees him as a gentle giant who longs to give awesome backrubs, cupcakes, and endless affection to his lifelong mate.

Lee is tired of the same old song and dance of dating and then breaking up. The only steady presence in his life has been Grant, a tried-and-true friend who always knows what to say and the right spot to scratch. So, when Grant finally breaks up with his flighty boyfriend, Lee sees an opportunity to let his carefully guarded heart out of its box and try for something real and lasting.

There’s a problem, though: Lee has always forbidden romance between friends, an order he’s drilled into Grant’s head over and over again.

That means Lee might need to throw their friendship to the fire. To find passion, they’ll have to become enemies. To find love, they’ll have to get lucky.

How about a little taste?

Grant wiped sweat from his brow. Hands trembling, he struggled to maneuver the oversized shirt button into its tiny hole. It was like being a virgin all over again. Should he lube the damn thing? Would that make it glide right in to everyone’s satisfaction? Scratch those thoughts; Grant couldn’t afford a sexual itch right now. If he stiffened, he might have a stress boner all night in the fancy restaurant where he’d booked a table for two. And, oh Jesus, everything was a mess. A total, awful mess.

“Knock, knock, big guy,” Lee said, tapping on the wood frame of the doorway. “You almost ready?”

“Come on in. Help me out. Get this thing in there.”

“Goodness, dear heart. I hope you won’t have to say that tonight.”

“I’m trying to not think about sex!”

“Boring.”

As lithe and graceful as Grant was bulky and clunky, Lee glided in on a cloud of glitter and sarcasm. His slender fingers made quick work of the task, and before Grant knew it, his dress shirt was smoothed down the length of his torso and tucked neatly into his black slacks. Standing to the side, his palm supporting his chin, Lee inspected his handiwork. Grant, for his part, stood straight under his critical eye and endeavored not to dwell on the lingering tingle along his spine where Lee’s fingers had touched him.

Muttering and twirling his finger, Lee said, “Turn around.”

Grant rarely dressed to the nines because it made him feel like he was ten. Lee, who searched him over for any flaw, didn’t help matters, especially not when he tsked like a disappointed mother.

“Well, do I pass inspection?” Grant asked him.

“Oh, you’re delish. Real wagyu beef.”

Grant dipped his head and made a show of inspecting his shoes to hide the sudden rush of heat to his face, which no doubt stained his cheeks a telltale shade of alarm-bell red. Then, to his mortification, he noticed a toe poking through a hole in one of his socks. Shit, he’d forgotten his shoes. Disaster. This night was going to be a total disaster.

Practically hyperventilating, Grant asked, “Where are my wingtips? The nice ones.”

Lee tapped his chin. Casually, as though he’d organized Grant’s closet himself, he kicked—literally—the polished wingtips onto the bedroom floor. “There are your big, goofy shoes. But, trust me, tonight is a big mistake. David is not the one. ”

“Thanks! You’re a lifesaver. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Yes, I know you couldn’t manage without me. But don’t ignore my warning.”

Wagging his finger in Lee’s face, Grant said, “No, no. We’re not playing the David-is-no-good game tonight. Tell me what wine should I order, instead.”

“Are you asking me what pairs nicely with showing your flighty, dimwitted boyfriend your werewolf form?”

Exasperated, Grant said, “I’m bringing this one home for good, Lee.”

Relenting with a sigh, Lee flounced around the bedroom, windmilling his arms in dramatic fashion as though getting ready to run a marathon. Was he stretching? Yes, yes he was. Lee hadn’t surrendered: he was ramping up to continue the fight. Grant should have learned to not underestimate his best friend when it came to matters of the heart, which he saw as his expertise as a vampire. The undead, according to him, had their fingers on the pulse of life. Werewolves, well, they had their noses in its crotch. The long-term rivalry between their species was great. Truly.

Ever since Grant brought David home, Lee had gone on about how it was a poor fit. Things heated up between them when David farted and blamed Lee. Fangs out, Lee had said, “Vampires can’t even pass gas. He’s messing with the wrong Edward. I will glitter bomb his ass to hell. My sunlight sparkle will burn out his eyes.” From there, matters got worse.

“You’re being petty,” Grant said, dabbing a bit of cologne on his neck. “Get over the whole fart thing. He was nervous. That’s all.”

“This is more than passing gas, dear heart. Although your little beau does disturb the oxygen balance of the room.”

“You’re a brat.”

Lee said, “I know, dear heart. That doesn’t change anything. David is… David is yuck. I’d eat him but it’s an affront to my sensitive palate. Blah.”

“Say ‘blah’ again but do it in a Transylvanian accent.”

“If I do, you have to listen to my rant. You can’t block me out, not even for a second.”

Grant’s inner survivalist debated the merits of the proposal. On one hand, the Transylvanian accent version of blah never failed to put a smile on his face, and he could use a bit of humor to settle his nerves before his big date. On the other, Lee’s rants lasted as long as an immortal desired, which was a very long time indeed. Grant couldn’t gnaw his foot off to get out of the trap should he decide to walk into it.

“Decisions, decisions,” Lee said as a taunt without bite.

“You make it so hard.”

“That’s what all the guys say.”

Grant stifled a laugh. “Go ahead with the rant. I couldn’t stop you if I tried, so I may as well get something out of it.”

“Okay, dear heart, I will keep it short. David is not your mate. He’s a loser obsessed with the occult. You’re…well, you’re a trophy to him, something to talk about over tea with his friends. You think he’s sugar, but he’s NutraSweet. You don’t know what he’s made of, but it’ll probably give you cancer. Stop putting him in your body and find the real thing.”

“Feel better?” Grant asked, trying to keep his tone light. Although Lee’s tongue was plenty sharp, he’d blunted it for Grant’s sake. Plus, sniping at his friend never got Grant anywhere other than thoroughly tongue-lashed. Still, he’d be a lousy future mate if he didn’t come to his sweetheart’s defense. “I know you two don’t get along, but he loves me.”

“You don’t need more heartbreak.”

“I’m a great big werewolf. I’ll be fine.”

“You’re mostly fluff.”

“Tell that to my previous boyfriends.”

Lee clucked his tongue. “It’s not your fault they don’t know the difference between a monster and someone who can do monstrous things. They were ninnies.”

Grant’s facial muscles clenched. He didn’t want to talk about his last two boyfriends, both of whom knew he was a werewolf in advance and said they were fine with it, even excited. People had known of the existence of werewolves for years, after all. None of that mattered. As soon as he’d shown them his wolf form, their minds changed and he became a monster in their eyes. The pain of it, still fresh, seared away the confidence he’d built over the last few minutes.

Things weren’t much better for Lee. He and his boyfriend broke up after Lee refused to have his fangs pulled in order to spend a mortal life together. Too bad Lee had a rule against dating friends; otherwise, Grant might have suggested they give each other a chance—two monster peas in a pod. The wistful thought, still painful after six years, roiled around in his heart.

“This is going to be different,” Grant said, trying to work up his courage and take his mind off his conflicting thoughts. “David is different.”

“No, he’s heartache and trouble. And, truthfully, he’s not worth either of those things. Also, blah, I vant to suck your blood. Blah. There, I did it. You’re welcome.”

Normally, Grant thanked the heavens his father hooked up with a vamp and that meeting had introduced him to Lee. Truthfully, Grant couldn’t have picked a better brother, which is how he had to think of his eccentric vampire friend. Right now, however, he’d trade the meddlesome motormouth for a stack of beans—magic optional.

My Review:
Grant is a cop and a werewolf. He lives with his best friend, Lee, who is a vampire. They get along great. And, when Grant decides he’s ready to reveal his big-bad wolfy self to his most recent paramour David, Lee warns him this is a really bad idea. But Grant REALLY wants to have a loving partnership. He’s sure that he loves David, and that David is ready to love him whole-heartedly. So, the big wolf-out turns out to be a classic disaster. Poor Grant! Lee offers to help Grant get over his heartbreak…by scheduling a trip to a vampire sex-orgy fete week at a private hotel in the mountains. Grant doesn’t want to, but he does want to hang out with Lee. Grant has always found Lee attractive, and his newly-single state has heightened his attraction. So, he agrees.

They arrive to the sold-out hotel and Grant is very surprised to learn that he and Lee are sharing a room. Yep, it’s going to be a challenge to get over David, not get under Lee, and maybe find a vampire partner who doesn’t find mating a werewolf to be a come down. Lee is thrown for a curve when he learns his own ex, Brian, is in residence in the hotel, as well. Brian had wanted Lee to snap off his fangs, become mortal to live and die with Brian. Lee had really liked Brian, but he liked his immortality more. He was a bit heartbroken, and now he’s not happy that Brian is flaunting a silly-cherub-looking vampire right up in his face. So, Lee’s down, Grant’s flustered and no one is having any sexytimes.

Grant is trying to get in touch with his wolfyness, and this means he goes hunting. He finds a rabbit to snack on, but Lee is totally against this option. He quickly adopts the rabbit, names him “Lucky” and forbids Grant from eating the rabbit. It becomes a long-running tension between them–to add to the growing sexual tension. Grant keeps getting approached by a persistent tattooed vamp called Marcus, and Marcus becomes more important when it begins to dawn on Grant that the incidents that seem to dog his steps with Lee are really attempts on Lee’s…un-life. And, Lee’s so mad at Grant’s suspicions of himself that their friendship is on the rocks…so it’s cool if they decide to make the magic happen in their hotel room.

This is a friends-to-lovers adult paranormal romance. There’s plenty of self-deprecating humor, and actual humor, mostly at Grant’s expense. Grant and Lee both have longstanding feelings for each other, but they’ve been afraid to jeopardize their friendship. But, they seem to be sniping at one another more than ever in their long friendship. At a tentative detente, Grant is eager to have Lee any way he can. The back-channel mystery of who’s trying to harm Lee unites Grant and Marcus in investigation. It takes a long time for Grant and Lee to really connect as lovers, however, and there’s lots of angst and struggle to get these two besties to be honest with one another. The climax comes swift on the heels of Grant and Lee deciding they would be better off as lovers than on their own. I liked how they overcame the big bad guy who sought to end Lee, but I think this was all too convenient and a little garbled in the plot. The takes on supernatural creatures was a little different than the usual canon, and this provided a bit of freshness to the story.

If you like friends-to-lovers stories or paranormal romances, this could be a story you like.

Interested? You can find COME ON, GET LUCKY on Goodreads, NineStar Press and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 GC to NineStar Press. Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jacqueline Rohrbach is a 36-year-old creative writer living in windy central Washington. When she isn’t writing strange books about bloodsucking magical werewolves, she’s baking sweets, or walking her two dogs, Nibbler and Mulder. She also loves cheesy ghost shows, especially when the hosts call out the ghost out like he wants to brawl with it in a bar. You know, “Come out here, you coward! You like to haunt little kids. Haunt me!” Jackee laughs at this EVERY time.

She’s also a hopeless World of Warcraft addict. In her heyday, she was a top parsing disc priest. She became a paladin to fight Deathwing, she went back to a priest to cuddle pandas, and then she went to a shaman because I guess she thought it would be fun to spend an entire expansion underpowered and frustrated. Boomchicken for Legion!

Catch up with Jackee on her website and twitter.