Happily Mated To a BLIND WARRIOR–Review 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. BLIND WARRIOR is the third 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 and WILD WARRIOR to catch up on the series developments.

Scroll down to catch an excerpt and enter the $10 Amazon GC giveaway below!
About the book:
Grey Ackles
The Soul Weaver feels useless.
A burden endangering his brothers.
The last battle with the pestilents cost Grey his sight and powers.
Now he’s dependent on his vision rehabilitation therapist Cort to learn how to function on a daily basis.

But as he grows closer to Cort, Grey is left wanting his powers back for a new reason—how will he ever know if the man he’s falling for is actually his soul mate?

Cort Newton
There is some really weird stuff going on at that house.

Spell books, guns, and a giraffe in the backyard?

But no matter how strange it gets, Cort is not going to leave the grumpy writer.

Adjusting to sudden blindness is hard for everyone, but Grey clearly has deeper reason for needing his vision back at any cost. Cort just wished Grey would confide in him.

Even with Grey’s secrets, Cort has never been drawn to a man like he is with Grey and he will do anything to keep this man safe.

Blind Warrior is the third book in the Weavers Circle series. It includes fast-paced action, running through Savannah, secrets, shapeshifting, brainwashed assassins, a gorilla, sexy times, fun with water, insecurity, three crazy old ladies, and magic!

How about a little taste?

Grey reluctantly got out of the vehicle and felt his way to the warm hood. “Gotta be a lot of glass bottles in there for me to knock over,” he warned as Lucien placed a hand on his biceps.

“We’ll steer you in the right direction.” Lucien pressed on his arm as they started walking. “You need the exercise.”

“Makes more sense for me to wait in the—” he broke off when a horrid smell hit his nose. It was like rotting meat left out on a hot summer day. “Shit, pestilents,” he hissed. Fear gripped his heart, his lungs freezing in his chest. How the hell was he supposed to protect himself?

Pestilents were these…humanoid creatures…from another realm who were trying to kill him and his brother Weavers. Their world was dying, and they wanted to leech energy off this one to save their own. Grey and the other Weavers had been tasked to stop them, using magic they’d gained from three goddesses. Insane. All of it sounded absolutely insane, but it was now his life.

One positive was that they were easy to spot, thanks to their awful stink. They rotted slowly in this world because they didn’t belong.

“I just smelled them, too,” Lucien grumbled under his breath.

“Can you see them?” Grey asked.

“They have to be in the store. Do pestilents drink alcohol?” Baer’s voice was moving away from Grey, possibly toward the Jeep.

“How the hell would we know?” Lucien led Grey back, too. Doors opened around him and he reached out with his left hand, coming into contact with the familiar durable fabric covering the rear bench seat in Baer’s Jeep.

“That’s it? We’re going to run?” Grey slid inside the vehicle, inwardly fuming. They were running to protect him.

“You expect us to just attack them in broad daylight in a wine shop?” Baer’s voice came from the driver’s side this time. “I can’t believe they’re rallying forces this fast. We had a three-month break last time.”

“There is obviously more than one set out there, or they wouldn’t have been chasing us over the United States.” Grey grabbed the front seats and pulled himself forward to lean between them as Lucien got into the passenger side. “I don’t think we should just leave them.”

Lucien cleared his throat. “I see only one at the counter now.”

“Doesn’t mean there aren’t more in the back,” Baer countered.

“Why don’t you go in there and lure him out?” Lucien suggested. “See that field behind those trees? We could fight it there.”

Grey saw nothing, but he didn’t bother to point that out. All he knew was, he felt wrong running and leaving any pestilents free to attack them later. Or even an innocent human who just happened to get in their way. If there were only a few, Baer and Lucien would be able to easily take care of them on their own. “I think that’s a good idea. But you should both go inside, just in case there are more than one.”

“And leave you help-er…alone out here?” Baer snapped. He cursed softly. “Sorry, Grey.”

But he was fucking helpless, and he knew it. Before losing his sight, his powers hadn’t done a lot when it came to fighting, but he’d been able to shoot a gun, use a knife. He wasn’t bad in a fight. And he’d been able to serve as a lookout, offer cover for his brothers. Now, he didn’t even have that.

Of course, his powers were tied to his sight, so he couldn’t use those. All he got were the occasional broken thoughts and emotions from others. His ability to see auras had been nipped in the bud. As was his ability to see into people’s souls, to read their past, motives, desires, and thoughts. He didn’t know if he could still manipulate people, hadn’t even tried.

“I’m going in,” Baer announced. “I’ll lure him into the field and shift into something fierce. We’ll dispatch this asshole, grab our booze, and go home.”

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

Grey Ackles is a part of the Weavers, a group of men who have special powers to fend off the invading pestilents–humanoids from another realm who have been siphoning off the energy of Earth from centuries to keep their own planet alive. He’s the Soul Weaver, which means he can see into a person’s soul and read their mind. In previous stories we me the Earth Weaver and the Animal Weaver, and Grey isn’t really proud of his gifts. He can’t shapeshift into a ferocious beast, nor can he compel earthquakes or trees to impale pestilents with their branches–so he feels a little “less” than his brothers in this conflict.

And, now Grey is blind. It’s a new development, following an attack on a cadre of pestilents. Grey was severely injured and though his brother’s mate used Healing powers to recover him, Grey is still blind and suffering terrible headaches. As part of Grey’s recovery he meets with a vision rehabilitation therapist, Cort, who is meant to help Grey adjust to his newly-blind life and surroundings. Grey is despondent, felling that he has let down his team of Weavers, but they only want to see Grey heal.

Cort has no idea what he’s getting into with Grey and the rest of the maniacs that live on the Weaver compound. Cort knows that he’s attracted to Grey, and he can’t help offering a bit of human comfort, as Grey needs it. Cort is drawn into the zaniness of the Weaver life, helping to recover the Water Weaver and seeing pestilents literally swallowed by sand dunes ore witness giraffes on parade, courtesy of the Earth and Animal Weavers, respectively. One thing is clear, Cort is unwilling to let Grey come to harm, either by his own foolishness or the recklessness of his “family”. And, Cort is more than a little intrigued by the open and loving gay partnerships he sees with these Weavers. It’s not long before Grey admits that he’s got sexy feelings for his vision therapist, oh, and it’s too dangerous for Cort to be out on his own because there is a pestilent warlock who’s busy turning all sorts of humans into mindless killer in an attempt to murder any one of five Weavers before the sixth can arrive and complete the Circle. This means that Cort needs to stay on their Weaver compound and let the feels increase while they keep close quarters.

As this is a continuing saga, this was a great installment to allow Grey to build a rapport with his soul mate before seeing him and recognizing the soul bond that links them. Grey had that ability while sighted, but he falls head first for Cort even knowing that he could be making a big mistake. There’s tons of intrigue and some battles extraordinaire, but in the end it’s a love story for Cort and Grey, who do indeed form a soul bond. It’s sweet and tender, because Grey needs so much TLC, and Cort is just the man to dole it out with compassion and discipline.

I’m totally hooked on this series and cannot wait to meet the sixth Weaver and watch the Fire and Water Weavers find their soul mates–and the Circle defeat the pestilents once and for all.

Interested? You can find BLIND 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.

Double Agents Test THE ENVOY’S HONOR-Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M fantasy romance from Antonia Aquilante. THE ENVOY’S HONOR is the eighth story in her Chronicles of Tournai series. I really enjoyed THE PRINCE’S CONSORT, THE ARTIST’S MASQUERADE, THE SCHOLAR’S HEART and THE SORCERER’S GUARDIAN which are all wet in that fantasy world of magic and courtly manners. This book features intrigue and shapeshifting magic as well as love for two lonely men.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Second son of an earl and cousin to the Crown Prince, Griffen has worked hard to forge a career in diplomacy for the principality of Tournai, but he never expected his diplomatic skills would be necessary for a problem so personal to him and his family.

A delegation from the mysterious kingdom of Ivria has come to Tournai to make sure the secret of their people—the magical Talent allowing them to change into dragons—and therefore their kingdom itself remain safe. The delegation is concerned for Corentin, an Ivrian, and the man Griffen’s older brother is soon to marry.

The Ivrians seem to want to drag Corentin back to Ivria for the offense of revealing their secret, but Griffen refuses to let it happen. His determination puts him into contact—and conflict—with Kirill, a negotiator for the king of Ivria who possesses the dragon Talent himself. The two clash and connect, getting closer and pulling away as they try to negotiate the needs of their people and an unwanted attraction between themselves. However, just as trust might be growing between them, a plot is uncovered and a member of the Ivrian delegation murdered. Griffen and Kirill must discover who is behind both for the safety of their countries and the people they love…and for a chance to be together.

How about a yummy taste?

Griffen’s day had been utterly normal—boring, even—until the dragons arrived.

The only mildly interesting thing that had happened was Bastien for once being convinced to attend a family dinner at the palace. Griffen didn’t delude himself into thinking his persuasion and prodding had anything to do with his older brother’s decision. No, Philip’s order had gotten Bastien and Corentin, the man he would soon marry, here. The prince rarely ordered his family about—and never in this type of situation, so Philip’s edict had probably been at least half joking—but Bastien was too dutiful to ignore it, despite his preference to be something of a hermit.

Bastien wasn’t truly unsociable—he just preferred to spend his time quietly on their family’s estate of Ardesia and not at court or even in the capital. Since Corentin taught at the university here in the city, Bastien could no longer spend all his time at Ardesia, unless he wanted to be separated from Corentin, which he obviously did not. And since they were cousins to the prince—Philip’s mother had been their aunt—though they were not royalty themselves, they were expected to be seen at court perhaps even more than others. Griffen had no problem with the expectation, but his and Bastien’s similarities ended with their appearances. They looked almost identical but couldn’t have been more different in personality.

What Griffen had never understood was why it was so difficult to get Bastien to casual family gatherings. Tonight’s dinner was not a court function. They gathered in Philip and Amory’s private sitting room—the royal couple having created a homey place for themselves in the grandeur of the palace—sipping drinks and chatting before dinner. Philip and Amory’s son was with them; Philip held the sleepy toddler now, rocking Julien slightly as he spoke with his cousin Cathal and Lord Marcus. Marcus did some sort of mysterious work for Philip, but he was with them tonight because he was going to marry Alexander, another of Philip’s cousins. The match was an interesting one—the older, serious, self-contained Marcus and the mischievous, outgoing Alexander. Faelen, Alexander’s twin, was chatting with Amory, and Flavian, Cathal’s husband, with Maxen, the man Faelen would marry later in the year, bringing them more wine.

No, it most definitely wasn’t a court event or formal in any way.

This family had grown so much in the last few years—and grown closer too. Griffen loved it, was honored to be a part of it. He was tied to Philip by blood, but blood wasn’t what made a family. If only there wasn’t a hint of sadness dragging at him. So many of his family had paired off—more, had found love matches, something rare among royalty and the nobility who were more likely to marry for power or position.

And Griffen…wanted that for himself.

He’d had his share of affairs with various people over the years and parted amicably after each, everyone enjoying themselves and not looking for more. None of those liaisons had ever been serious or had a possibility of becoming so, which had been fine. Then. Somewhere along the way, it had stopped being fine to him.

“Everything all right?”

Griffen jumped a little before facing Tristan who’d come to his side. “Fine.”

Tristan frowned, an expression that always seemed vaguely wrong on his face. A bright smile seemed to go with his shining gold hair and sparkling blue eyes. Griffen had enjoyed his smiles, and other things, during the handful of nights they’d spent together. What they’d shared hadn’t even been something so formal as an affair, and it had been over long before Tristan married Etan, another of Philip’s cousins. Etan was here, too, talking in a corner with Bastien and Corentin—about something related to one of their studies if the faintly perplexed look in Bastien’s eyes was anything to go by.

“You seemed far away for a moment,” Tristan said, capturing Griffen’s attention again.

“Just thinking. I guess I’m easily distracted tonight.”

“I hope by something good.” Alexander winked as he appeared in front of them, decanter in hand, ready to pour more wine for them. His eyes narrowed as he studied Griffen. “Uh oh. Not good?”

Tristan’s gaze sharpened. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Griffen smiled, warmed by their concern. When neither man looked reassured, he added, “Really.”

And there wasn’t—though they still didn’t look as if they believed him. He was just…thoughtful.

A sharp rap on the door saved him from having to convince Tristan and Alexander. Before anyone could move to answer the door, it flew open, and Ligeia tumbled into the room.

Surprise froze Griffen for an instant. His sister had elected to stay home that evening—though Philip and Amory would’ve been happy to have her join them if she wanted—with Patia and Idalia, two of the cousins who’d become Bastien’s wards several months ago. She shouldn’t have been at the palace, certainly not looking wild-eyed and near panic with her light-brown hair escaping its pins and her dress one she never left the house in.

He broke his paralysis and spoke at the same time Bastien did. “Ligeia?”

“What happened?” Bastien continued. “Are you all right?”

She halted a few steps inside, after pushing the door closed behind her—it was amazing the guards had even let her through looking the way she did. “Fine, I’m fine,” she said, breathless. Had she run through the palace to get here? “But…”

“What is it, Ligeia?” Philip asked as her gaze darted around the room. He didn’t exactly use the tone of voice that Griffen identified as more prince than family, but the way he said the words commanded attention, nonetheless. From all of them.

Ligeia focused on Philip immediately and took a breath. “Some people came to the house, looking for Corentin. From, um, his home.”

Marcus and Maxen looked confused, but everyone else froze. They knew exactly what that meant.

The dragons.

My Review:
This is the eighth book in a fantasy series, and likely best enjoyed when read in sequence, though it can be read as a standalone. I have read books 1-4 in this series and still felt there was enough background to fill in the gaps I had from not reading books 5-7. This review may contain some spoilers for previous books.

Griffen is the second son of his family, his elder brother Bastien is the Duke of their familial estate in Ardesia. They are both cousins to Philip, crowned prince of Tounai, and Griffen works in the palace at Jumelle, the capital city as a diplomat. Bastien is engaged to Corentin, a scholar from a hidden realm called Ivria where the people have a magical secret they endeavor to keep from society-at=large: many of their number can shift into a dragon form. Bastien had been attacked and kidnapped in a previous story and Corentin’s magic both saved Bastien and revealed the secret of Ivria, at least to Prince Philip and his consort Prince Amory and certain other trusted members of Philip’s family and retinue. Griffen doesn’t think dragon magic is odd, and he’s happy for his brother’s happiness.

Griffen, Bastien and several other members of the prince’s family are dining in the palace for a private celebration over impending nuptials when a delegation from Ivria arrives unannounced and with little decorum. Kirill is among this number, but he’s startled and frustrated when the unofficial delegation leader makes unreasonable demands–to hand over Corentin to be returned to Ivria for questioning. The delegation was only sent to determine if the revelations Corentin had let slip posed any danger to Ivria or its interests–but Kirill is soon convinced that the unreasonable and crude demands his fellow envoy are making stem from a deeper plot, one that would reveal the dragon’s magic in an attempt to ignite a conflagration.

Kirill and Griffen are both working to help Corentin and smooth over this situation, and they are both caught in an unwanted attraction for each other. Kirill’s fellow delegates are encouraging this–either because they want to see him happy or they hope he can exploit the relationship. The delegates have been invited to stay in the palace, temporarily, so that Philip’s guards can keep an eye on them, and make sure they do not attempt to kidnap Corentin. Kirill knows this, and he doesn’t trust the people of the palace, or Griffen, for these reasons. Still, their communications become less intrigue-laden and more friendly–until one of the Ivrians is murdered in the palace gardens. Now Kirill’s missing is to find the murderer while extricting their group from Tournai with haste. Even if it means leaving Griffen behind. Maybe…temporarily.

This is an intrigue-heavy mystery that develops alongside the romance. Griffen is a good man and he’s willing to trust Kirill more than Kirill trusts him–and that’s find for a while. His excellent behavior and attention to details help Kirill to navigate the two walks he’s taking in the negotiations about Corentin and his growing regard for Griffen. We had met Griffen briefly in earlier stories, but he was never a central character before now. Kirill and his Ivrian compatriots are interesting and I liked learning a bit about their culture. Not all of them can shift into dragons, but Kirill can–and he shows a lot of trust to shift in front of Griffen once Griffen finds an isolated area for Kirill to stretch his wings. The romance develops slowly ans is adversarial at first, due to the nature of being from different nations and wanting different objectives–namely, Kirill is angry that Griffen has knowledge about his magic, and he’s afraid that knowledge will be used for harm. It takes time for Kirill–and his fellow delegates–to see the few people from Tournai who know their secret go to great pains to not let it be revealed to any new persons, thus protecting the Ivrians from the exposure they want to contain.

Griffen and Kirill develop a plan for further connection, once they agree that they want more than something casual. Kirill feels so seen and cherished by Griffen, who loves him in human or dragon form. Griffen really feels connected to Kirill, and their lives seem aligned both emotionally and diplomatically. Bastien and Corentin also share their happy ending with the greater group of friends and family that make up these books, with glimpses of folks who might become MCs of their own right in later stories. I’m a fan of this series and the magical world they encompass. Can’t wait for another story to hit the press!

Interested? You can find THE ENVOY’S HONOR 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.

Dangerous Love DINNER AT THE BLUE MOON CAFE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review and giveaway for a newly re-released M/M paranormal romance from mega-writer Rick R. Reed. DINNER AT THE BLUE MOON CAFE has some heat and some horror as a man in his mid 20s falls hard for an older mysterious man, a new immigrant Sicily who may–or may not–be a murderous werewolf. If you liked THE PERILS OF INTIMACY, LEGALLY WED, or THE SECRETS WE KEEP you’ll likely enjoy this one, too.

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
A monster moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from Seattle’s gay gathering areas.

In an atmosphere of spine-tingling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love cooking in an Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and…he can cook!

As the pair’s love heats up, so do the questions. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And, more important, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

When the secrets are finally revealed, is Thad and Sam’s love for one another strong enough to weather the horrific revelations revealed by the light of the full moon?

How about a little taste?

Music from his clock radio woke Thad Matthews at 6:00 a.m. The song, “Smokestack Lightning,” yanked him from a heavy, dream-laden sleep. Its energy forced his eyes open wider, caused synapses, eight hours dormant, to tingle, and made him want to move. Nonetheless, he slapped at the snooze button, silencing the bluesy wail, rolled over, and then pulled the comforter over his head. He was glad he had tuned his clock radio to KPLU, Seattle’s only all-blues all-the-time station, but he desperately wanted to recapture just a few more minutes of his dream, in which he’d found himself on the moors of England. All he could recall was that the moors themselves were appropriately fog shrouded and lit with a silvery luminance from above. Someone waited for him in the shadows and fog. And he couldn’t, for the life of him, know for certain if that someone meant to do him harm or meant to just do him.

He’d been having a lot of sexual dreams lately.

As much as he wanted to unravel the mystery of the dream—and to perhaps savor the vague sexual vibrations he was getting from it—sleep eluded him. He found thoughts of the day crowding in, preventing even the most remote possibility of a recurrence of slumber.

Thad sat up in the four-poster, rubbing his eyes like a little boy, and wondered why he bothered setting an alarm. He had no job to go to, no pressing engagements, no muse to answer to—hell, he didn’t even have an appointment for an oil change.

This day, like all his others, stretched out before him completely unmarred with obligations other than the requirements life imposed upon him, such as eating and going to the bathroom, which the erection poking up under his sheets compelled him to take care of. He called this morning wood a pee-on, because once he had put that particular need to rest, it most often subsided.

After stumbling to the adjoining bathroom and letting go with a flow that caused a mighty sigh of relief to issue forth from him, he thought once again that maybe today should be the day he looked harder into getting himself some employment—anything to put him into contact with other people and to fill his waking hours. Lord knew he filled out enough applications and answered enough Help Wanted ads on Craigslist to keep the officials down at unemployment sending him checks. But all his efforts, dishearteningly, were ignored.

It had been nearly four months since he had been laid off at Perk, the national chain of coffee shops headquartered in suburban Shoreline. Thad had been there for six years, in the marketing department, spending his days writing clever sayings for paper coffee cups and point-of-purchase signs for the stores. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. And writing phrases like “Plan on Being Spontaneous” paid the bills, even if it didn’t provide much creative or intellectual challenge. It helped sell coffee, and Thad never kidded himself: that’s why he was employed there.

Except now they didn’t need him anymore. Who would write the signs for their special Iced Coffee blend?

He gazed down at the bubbling golden froth in the toilet and flushed it away, along with his thoughts about his former job. He turned and rinsed his hands under the sink, then splashed cold water on his face. Standing up straight, he stared at his reflection in the medicine cabinet mirror.

“You’re too young for a life of leisure,” he said to his reflection, rubbing his hands through his short, coarse red hair, which stuck up in a multitude of directions. People paid good money for products that would make their hair look as fetchingly disheveled as Thad’s did right now. He peered closer at himself, taking inventory of his pale skin, his gray eyes, and the constellation of freckles that spanned his nose and the tops of his cheeks. He flexed, thinking he was looking a little flabby around the middle.

“Workout day. I’ll head over to the gym today. I need it.” He sucked in his gut and let it out again, thinking it was empty and needed refilling. A Pagliacci delivery pizza only went so far. His slumber and active dream life, he supposed, had all but digested the pie.

Thad moved to the bedroom and began tossing pillows on the floor to make up his bed. He wasn’t sure why he bothered with this either, since it was unlikely anyone would see the military-neat bed except for him, when he would approach it once more this evening just to mess it all up again. But it was important to Thad to have a routine. Otherwise his days would blend into one meaningless chunk of time, formless, without definition or purpose.

It was becoming increasingly hard enough to distinguish Tuesday from Thursday—or Sunday, for that matter.

Back when he was putting in forty-plus hours a week, he envied the increasing number of friends and acquaintances who had gotten laid off during the economic downturn. The money they made on unemployment seemed like enough—at least for him and his modest lifestyle in his Green Lake studio apartment—and the freedom they had seemed worth the cut in pay.

But now he wasn’t so sure. The uncertainty of what would happen if he still wasn’t working when the unemployment checks dwindled down to zero hung over him like a vague threat. And the freedom wasn’t really so great, when that same threat prevented him from spending much money, lest he should need it down the road for luxuries like food and a roof over his head.

Worst of all was what the job loss had done to his self-esteem. Thad needed some meaning in his life, a purpose. That much had been instilled in him since he was a little boy, back in Chicago growing up in the working class neighborhood of Bridgeport, where his father was a cop and his mother waited tables at a Lithuanian restaurant.

He pulled on a T-shirt and a pair of sweatpants, padded out to the office area of his apartment, and plopped down in front of his laptop. He planned to check out the classifieds on Craigslist, then Monster, then CareerBuilder. When he was first laid off, he looked only at writing and editing jobs but had lately broadened his search to include, well, just about everything. Thad realized he would work retail, man a customer service phone line, groom dogs, or wait tables, as long as he had a job.

Yet the rest of the world hadn’t gotten wind of his eagerness to accept any kind of employment. Or if they had, they weren’t saying.

Before he went through the often-depressing ritual of cyber pavement pounding, he would check out what had happened in the world since he had stumbled in last night from an evening of self-consolation and vodka on Capitol Hill. He hit the little orange-and-blue Firefox icon on the dock at the bottom of his screen to bring up the day’s online news…

And was jolted right out of whatever sluggishness he was feeling. He stared at the lead article for that day’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A chill coursed through him, and he slowly shook his head as he read the details of that morning’s top story, titled “Brutal Slaying in Capitol Hill.” The article described how an as-yet-unidentified young man had been killed in an alley in the Seattle neighborhood known for its heavy concentration of gay bars and clubs. Thad had to stop reading for a moment to close his eyes because the gruesome details were simply too much to bear. His stomach churned. The man had not just been killed but had been literally ripped apart. Very little blood was found at the scene. And forensics had already determined that there was no trace of metal found on the victim’s flesh, which meant that the deed had to have been done with something other than a knife. The worst detail of all was the fact that the remains bore definite signs that much of the man’s flesh had been eaten. Authorities are keeping details to themselves regarding who—or what—the perpetrator could have been. The story closed with the usual cautions about what to do—don’t travel alone, avoid strangers and unlit places—when something so unsettling and violent occurs.

Thad exited Firefox sooner than he had planned and stared out the window. His heart thumped in his chest. Bile splashed at the back of his throat and a cold sweat broke out on his forehead. He had been in Capitol Hill the night before, having a dirty martini or three at Neighbours, one of the gay ghetto’s most popular hangouts. He wondered if, as he had made his way back to the bus stop, he had passed the killer or killers. If perhaps the killer or killers had eyed him, wondering if he would suffice for their demented purposes. He could see himself through their eyes, being watched from the shadows of a vestibule or an alley as he made his way back to the bus stop on Broadway. He wondered if he looked appetizing. He had been told on more than one occasion that he was “tasty” and “delicious,” but those doing the describing were not thinking of him as dinner—at least not in the conventional sense. He wondered if perhaps the only thing that had saved him was the coincidental passing of a boisterous group from the University of Washington, coming up alongside him just as the fiend in the dark was ready to pounce. He shivered. For once, rejection was a comforting thought.

Rejection, under these circumstances, was the new “getting lucky.”

Still, some poor soul had not been as lucky as he had, and today forensics was probably busy trying to figure out just who this unfortunate soul was. From what Thad had read, it didn’t sound like they had much to go on. Dental records, maybe? What kind of animal would not only kill a fellow human being but also eat his flesh and drink his blood? Was this a human being at all? Thad had heard of bears occasionally making their misguided ways down from the mountains and into Seattle, but they usually got no farther than suburban parks and backyards. And the “bears” that routinely cruised the Capitol Hill neighborhood were of a much more cuddly variety.

Surely, though, an animal couldn’t have been roaming around busy Capitol Hill on Friday night. The neighborhood, on weekend nights, was a blur of barhoppers and partiers, its hilly streets filled with people and cars jockeying for position. Loud and well lit, it was the kind of neighborhood that would scare the shit out of an animal, at least an animal with normal fears and inclinations. This had to be the work of a person, or people, right? And whoever was behind such a thing had to be majorly warped. Thad had a quick vision of pale-gray eyes and enormous canine teeth until he banished the imagery to the back of his brain, grateful for another kind of canine distraction.

That distraction had just sidled up beside Thad, her arrival signaled by a clicking of toenails on hardwood. Thad glanced down at his gray-and-white Chihuahua, Edith, staring up at him with her dark eyes. Her tongue stuck out one side of her mouth, giving her a both comical and wizened appearance. The dog was about a hundred years old, and Thad thought, for better or worse, she was his very best friend in the world. Edith got up on her hind legs to paw at Thad’s lap, indicating to him that he was not the only creature in the house that had to pee first thing in the morning.

Thad got up and, with Edith following impatiently behind, slid into flip-flops and grabbed her leash. “C’mon, sweetheart, let’s take a little walk down to the lake, and then we’ll see about getting us both some breakfast.”

My Review:
Thad Matthews is a man in his mid 20s who’s recently been laid off ans is enjoying a bit of R & R in his Seattle apartment while he job hunts and lives of unemployment. He tries to stay fit and has recently signed up to volunteer at a local food bank that serves gay shut-ins. He’s a super daddy to his chihuahua Edith, and he would really like a guy to settle down with, but no one has seemed right in the longest time.

He checks out a brand new cafe one night and meets the owner, a secy Sicilian bear named Sam Lupino. Sam and Thad have an instant connection and their night only begins with Sam feeding Thad all the best of his cafe’s kitchen. It unexpected, but delightfully, ends with Sam absolutely blowing Thad’s mind in bed. And, best news of all, Sam wants a repeat and a real relationship.

Meanwhile, Sam’s life is “complicated” and he can’t really commit on account of family issues. Thad thinks Sam must be closeted and playing him like a side-piece, but it’s more that Sam’s adult son, Domenic, is extremely homophobic. Sam is afraid to upset his family dynamic and Thad is heartbroken. Through his volunteer efforts Thad meets Jared, who really wants to date Thad–but his heart is still bruised by Sam. And, there’s some back and forth where Sam and Thad do connect in ways that might lead to more.

However, there is a murderer on the streets of Seattle. Twice in the past two months–always on the full moon–men in the gay community have been brutally slaughtered in areas known to be cruising zones. Jared is nearly attacked, and he leans on Thad heavily as he recovers from the shock. Thad’s dreams are plagued by nightmares of werewolves, and he’s starting to piece together the nights he sought out Sam and couldn’t find him were always on the full moon. Is Sam a brutal killer? Is Thad losing his mind?

This is a really cool take on the werewolf horror trope and harkens back to Silver Bullet, a fave movie from my youth. The werewolf is definitely under control–but Thad and Jared are also in its sights. Sam’s mysterious behavior provides a great counterpoint to the building tension, and while I had picked the killer out in the first part of the story, there were enough turns to keep me 100% engaged and turning those pages. There’s a significant amount of suspense, and while the ending is technically happy, there is certainly a lot of loss and gore until we arrive there. It’s a perfect Halloween read.

Interested? You can find DINNER AT THE BLUE MOON CAFE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Catch up with Rick on his website, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

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.

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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!