Rough Love in SAVED–Review and Giveaway!!

Hi there! Today I”m sharing a review, excerpt and giveaway for a new M/M urban fantasy from AM Arthur. SAVED is the first book in the Breaking Free series, and features a world where only males exist. Three genders: alpha, beta and omega, and some rough sexual politics have led to bad relations between breeding pairs…where love isn’t necessarily a given. I’ve liked contemporary and new adult romances from this author (HERE FOR US, THE WORLD AS HE SEES IT, FINDING THEIR WAY) so I was eager to check out this new series.

Drop down to enter the giveaway for an eBook of SAVED and an ARC of book two in the series!

About the book:
He didn’t want an alpha to save him, but fate had other ideas…

Braun Etting was raised to know his place as an omega by his alpha father’s cruel words and fast fists, and he expects nothing but violence from the alpha who may one day mate him. His older brother Kell mated a cruel alpha who abuses him daily, and Braun is terrified of that seemingly inevitable future. When Braun’s father dies in a car crash, leaving Braun an orphan, he’s sent to a halfway house for omegas. But on his fourth night there, he witnesses a horrifying crime that sends him fleeing to the streets alone—and edging into his first heat.

Tarek Bloom is settled in his workaholic, single lifestyle, even if it is somewhat embarrassing to be a twenty-eight year-old unmated alpha. He enjoys his job as a constable, helping people and solving problems, so he isn’t prepared for his life to flip upside-down when he walks into his beta friend Dex’s apartment to help with “a problem.”

The problem turns out to be an unmated, nearly in-heat omega orphan who Dex and his husband rescued off the street last night. The even bigger problem is that Tarek feels the mating bond for this terrified omega immediately—and he’s pretty sure the omega feels it, too. But Braun hates alphas as a general rule, and no way is he giving in to the bond. All mating leads to is violence and suffering, so no thank you. But Tarek’s gentle kindness slips under Braun’s emotional shields, and Braun begins to want. To dream. All Braun has ever known is violent alphas, but Tarek is determined to make Braun trust him—and to trust in the idea of their happily ever after.

NOTE: This is a non-shifter Omegaverse story with alpha/omega/beta dynamics, heats, knotting, and mpreg. In this world, omegas are second-class citizens with few civil rights and almost no protections under the law. Trigger warnings for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

How about a little taste?

“Would you be able to describe exactly what you saw that night in detail?” Tarek pulled a notepad and pen out of his front pocket.

Braun’s entire body went rigid. “Why? Who are you really?”

“I really am Tarek Bloom.” For a moment, he actually seemed contrite. “What I didn’t tell you is that I’m also a constable.”

“Shit.” Braun bolted out of his chair and toward the front door, fork still in his hand.

In a flurry of movement, Tarek was in front of him, blocking his path to the door, and Braun lashed out with the fork. Dex grabbed his wrist and plucked the fork out of his hand, but that didn’t stop Braun from swinging. He punched Tarek in the chest. Twice. Panic settled in, overriding his common sense, and he tried to push past the brick wall of a man.

“Let me go! I won’t go back, I won’t!”

Arms wrapped around his torso from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. Serge’s comforting scent settled his racing mind a bit, but it was Tarek’s hand on the back of his neck that settled Braun completely.

“Calm down, firecracker,” Tarek said. His deep voice soothed Braun’s frazzled nerves, and his touch sent his pulse racing with delight. “You’re still safe, I promise. No one here wants to hurt you.”

“Why do you care?” Braun snarled. “I’m just some useless omega you’ve known for twenty minutes.”

“You’re far from useless, little one.”

Tarek’s other hand rose, nearing Braun’s face. Braun snapped at his fingers. “I’m only a womb to you.”

“Far from it, my firecracker.” The hand on his neck squeezed. “Far from it.”

The grounding touch made Braun want to roll over and show his belly, but he was done being passed around. Done letting other people control his life. He didn’t want to feel this mating bond to Tarek, but he also couldn’t turn it off. Even with the heat block, Tarek was under his skin, doing funny things to his insides.

Angry and confused, Braun dared look an alpha in the eye.

My Review:
This world is one where no females exist, and a small percentage of males, the omegas, have the ability to become pregnant. Omegas go into heat, an overwhelming physiologic experience, every three months. It is during that 48 hour window that an alpha could impregnate the omega. And, the offspring can be any of the three genders: alpha, beta or omega. In this world. alphas have the best opportunities, best job prospects and best lives. They get their pick of the matable omegas. Betas are second-class citizens who are essentially infertile as they are never allowed to mate an omega. They do form pair bonds, and some adopt discarded beta offspring. Betas have virtually unrestricted lives, though they are considered to be inferior in intellect by alphas.

Omegas are, maybe, fifth-class citizens. They are kept under strict supervision, they have no rights to freedom or autonomy. Their education usually ends int he mid teens and the omeags are sequestered until their first heat–which comes anytime from 15-21, to “protect” them from having an unsupervised heat where they could be raped by any alpha who catches wind of their pheromones. Once mated, it’s up to the omega’s alpha to decide if there will be further education, a job, or the ability to drive one’s self. An Alpha can physically harm or intimidate his omega without repercussion, using the excuse of “discipline”.

Braun Ettings is a nearly 21 year old unmated omega who just survived the car wreck that claimed the life of his abusive father. Unable to be left on his own, he’s sent to a half-way house for unmated omegas. Braun’s not sad his tormentor died, but he’s scared in his new surroundings, and wishes he could go live with his pregnant, elder brother, Kell. Unfortunately, Kell’s abusive husband is a big problem. Braun notices what looks like a kidnapping of one of the residents of his half-way house and decides to flee–which is brave but perilous. He’s accosted and nearly raped, only saved at the last moment by a beta nurse who recognized him from the recent hospital treatment and his alpha husband. Their friend, Tarek Bloom, is an alpha and a constable, and he’s really intrigued by both Braun and his tale of woe in the half-way house. Braun feels the pull to mate with Tarek nearly immediately, but he’s determined not to fall into the same deadly trap that Kell is caught in.

As Tarek investigates the situation, and some other crimes, he arranges to become Braun’s legal protector, and works out a fostering arrangement for his friends who’d saved Braun. These four form a tight unit of friendship, with a deep attraction brewing between Tarek and Braun. Braun’s confused and pleased that Tarek isn’t simply claiming him outright. He can’t trust that it won’t happen, though. Conversations with Kell help to guide him into accepting what appears to be love, but there are lots of complications–the abusive situation Kell is in, the recovery of kidnapped beta youths, the rescue of Braun’s fellow omegas from the half-way house–to name a few. Plus, Braun’s first heat is imminent. Tarek swears he’ll defend Braun and not claim him, but Braun is unsure that Tarek will keep his word. It was good to see Tarek be such a stand-up guy, especially in the face of the deep prejudices and derision he faces by having such an independent omega. They do fall for one another and sexytimes do happen, but not before the friendship and emotional bonding have been built.

This is, to me, a police romance with an urban fantasy laid over it. Getting used to the lack of females and acclimating to the omegaverse constraints took me a little time. I loved the sexual politics, and how stark the divide was between the alphas and omegas, in terms of power, prestige and autonomy. Braun’s a spitfire of an omega, and he’s often caught at the center of controversy, but Tarek loves him steadfastly, and it’s clear they are going to become stronger as a mated pair as the books go forward. The situation between Kell and his husband isn’t fully resolved at the end of this book, so expect that to drive the story line in the sequel. On a different note, it’s pretty shattering to read about the abuse Braun, Kell and others survive, so take that trigger warning seriously. I’m looking forward to reading on!

Interested? You can find SAVED on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an eBook of SAVED and an ARC of book two in the series!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, and SMP Swerve.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Catch up with Ms. Arthur on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Life After the Apocalypse–STRAIN, A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for STRAIN, the first book in the Strain series by Amelia C. Gormley. This is a fantastic sci-fi, dystopian M/M romance, though the romance is slow to build.

Strain (Strain, #1)About the book:

In a world with little hope and no rules, the only thing they have to lose is themselves.

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. Cut off from the world since childhood, he’s finally exposed to the lethal virus that wiped out most of the human race. Now his only hope for survival is infection by another strain that might confer immunity. But it’s sexually transmitted, and the degradation he feels at submitting to the entire squad of soldiers that rescued him eclipses any potential for pleasure—except with Darius, the squadron’s respected, capable leader.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little humanity. He’s spent a decade putting plague victims out of their misery and escorting survivors to a safe haven he can never enjoy. He’d rather help Rhys live than put him down, so when Rhys can’t reconcile himself to doing what’s necessary to survive, Darius is forced to save Rhys in spite of himself.

But with each passing day, it looks less and less likely that Rhys can be saved. Which means that soon Darius might have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

My Review:
The story is set on Earth, more than a century from now. After more than 100years of constant aggression to settle interests in the world, the US military struggled to recruit new soldiers. So, it’s scientists created a virus with which to infect its soldiers to generate supersoldiers, and a poison pill to its enemies at the same time. The effect was devastating, leaving an airborne virus that caused Rot, degeneration of the skin and brain and yielding revenants: hungry, carnivorous uncontrollable humans who are for all intents and purposes zombies.

Rhys has lived in a sheltered community, an abandoned monastery in rural Oregon, for the past 7 years– since age 12. His mother died two years ago and the only remaining adults were Father Maurice and his son, Jacob. They despised Rhys–having suspected him of being a homosexual from his youth–and routinely beat and starved him. Jacob was given Rhys’s younger sister as a bride, in accordance with Father Maurice’s demands, and the book opens with Rhys positioned as bait for marauding revenants while the good Father, Jacob, Rhys’s sister and nephew all escape. Only, it doesn’t go down like that. Rhys fights back–still trying to distract the “revs” and is nearly overcome when the cavalry arrives. And, by cavalry, I mean the original infected supersoldiers.

The soldiers of Project Juggernaut are super in every way: strength, stamina, accuracy. They take down the revs, but not before Rhys’ sister, nephew and the Father are killed. Jacob, that miserable abusive gobshite survived because he ran, leaving his “wife,” toddler son, and father to be attacked.

The “Jugs” aren’t sure what to do with Rhys and Jacob. The are clearly at risk for Rot, but the medic officer argues that transmission of the original virus–via copious sexual intercourse with the Jugs–could help Rhys and Jacob develop immunity to the mutated strain causing Rot before they develop symptoms. It’s a super longshot, and the platoon commander, Darius, is reluctant. Previous Jug leaders had created mini-empires by capturing civilians and raping them into submission–creating new Jugs in the process, and Darius is loathe to taste that power. Rhys even volunteers to die, knowing that he’s likely infected, and this changes something for Darius. He’s intrigued by Rhys, who is so small and scrawny and fierce at the same time.

All of this happens in the first 50 pages, or so. It is fascinating! All those years of being punished (beaten and starved) by Father Maurice and Jacob for his “unnatural perversion,” and yet, given the choice of Rot or Jug life, Rhys remains hesitant while Jacob is only to happy to drop trow. Rhys’ scared out of his mind of developing Rot, and sure that Jacob will find some way to torment him if he shows any inclination of enjoyment of sex. As the platoon makes it’s way back to camp, Rhys and Jacob submit to the “treatment” and I don’t mean this in any porny way, at all. It is rough and brutal, and some non-consent is part of the bargain. It affects Darius, who becomes inordinately possessive of Rhys–against his own better judgement.

I absolutely loved this story. It was an intriguing look at ethics and morality in a post-apocalyptic world. And, I dug that the author flipped the script on man-on-man action–making it vital to Rhys and Jacob’s survival. Growing up in the HIV/AIDS era as I have, and being disgusted by the dismissal of it as a “gay plague” that too many smugly thought well-deserved, I could appreciate the irony and also the necessity of this device. I so wanted Rhys to come to terms with his issues–but it is truly all he can do to keep up with the fast-paced Jug patrol and also keep out of Jacob’s line of fire. Rhys doesn’t mind having a sexual partner–Darius, actually–but the treatment is to “inoculate” him with as many variants of the strain as possible, which means multiple partners daily.

The story is simply brilliant in its treatment of bullying, the balance of power, life after bioholocaust, and the need to live a good life, as good as possible, in extreme situations. I was captivated from the beginning. There are a few tender moments, and many that aren’t so tender. That said, this is a romance, and you can expect an HEA for Rhys–but only after he is pulled so far through the plot-wringer that he’s *almost* superhuman.

Many thanks to the publisher, Riptide Books, who supplied a review copy.STRAIN has two companion novels coming in the next two months, JUGGERNAUT and BANE. I have read both of these, and they are incredible.

Interested? You can find STRAIN on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout the Author:

Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.

Her self-published novel-in-three-parts, Impulse (Inertia, Book One; Acceleration, Book Two; and Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major ebook retailers, and be sure to check http://RiptidePublishing.com for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the The Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), and her upcoming post-apocalyptic romance, Strain.

You can contact Amelia on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

 

 

Sporty Romance Double Feature? Game On!

Since opening my blog I’ve had the best time interacting with authors and other bloggers and publishing folks or many stripes. For an aspiring author it’s been such a kick to learn all the stuff that happens AFTER you finish a book. Building these connections is a wondrous benefit to doing something I love–reading.

In this way, I feel blessed to find authors who reach out and embrace bloggers and what we do/how we support and nurture their work in a very real sense. Karen Erickson aka Miss Monica Murphy is one such author–and when she was offering up her newest release for review? I was all:


GAME FOR TROUBLE is the second in her Game For It series–and I seriously loved it. It drops TODAY–so here’s a sneak peek!

But, before I chat about it, perhaps we should set the scene with GAME FOR MARRIAGE–the one that started it all…

Game for Marriage (Game for It, #1)Jared Quinn is a Super Bowl winning quarterback and a rake. Yeah, he’s not just been around the block, he freaking owns the block, and could have limos drive him and his gals around and around. His team’s new owner isn’t happy with his bad boy image. Too much negative publicity and a nagging injury are threatening his contract. The PR department has a brilliant plan: get Jared married–toot-sweet…

Sheridan Harper is an artist with a funding problem. Though she has a beautiful studio, she can barely pay the expenses. It’s make-it-or-break-it-time and she’s not sure she has what it takes to make it. She meets Jared at a local festival and his admiration for her paintings lulls her into a drink, and another, and a wild night of well…hot monkey love.

Little could she have predicted Jared appearing at her studio the next morning with an (in)decent proposal.

One year of marriage + Non-disclosure = Money and publicity for her studio.

All she has to say is:  I do…

Well, she does. Before you all start yelling “Sell out!” and burning your PRETTY WOMAN VHS’s in protest, Sheridan negotiates a No Sex clause in the contract thinking this will protect her from actually becoming attached to Jared. See, she’s smitten. Jared’s a bona fide studmuffinsexgodextraordinaire, and Sheridan’s horrified that she’ll fall totally heart over heels only to have Jared walk away after 365 days of fake wedded bliss.

Only, she has no idea he’s smitten too.

Oh! It’s a fun, fun, FUN read. The usual complications ensue with a push-pull of sexual tension and eventual crash-and-burn. But yeah, it’s handled well and the HEA is de-lish.

Interested? Pick it up here:  GOODREADS  AMAZON  Barnes & Noble

For part deux, GAME FOR TROUBLE, Jared’s teammate and BFF Nick Hamilton has it bad for Willow Game for Trouble (Game for It, #2)Cavanaugh–the BFF of Sheridan Quinn.

Willow’s the stereotypical poor little rich girl. Her daddy’s a powerful entertainment lawyer and her mommy’s long gone to Europe. Willow’s desperate to make it on her own–and is finally finding success as a specialty caterer. All she needs is a great property to kick her business plans into fast-forward. Right now, it’s all about her career, and not at all about her love life, which pretty much sucks since she was royally dissed by Nick Hamilton six years ago.

Reunited by their mutual friends, Nick Hamilton is finally in finally in position to reclaim the girl he let go–at her father’s strong request [read:  blackmail]. He may have moved on in body, but never in spirit and Fate seems to have aligned their stars. He owns the VERY property Willow wants to lease. And he’s willing to rent it at a discount, if she’ll agree to 10 dates–with him.

The negotiations are fierce, and in the end they settle on 8 dates, but the die is cast. These two are gas and blowtorch. When they aren’t fighting, they’re naked. Okay, slight exaggeration. But seriously, there’s plenty of naked times…

Still, Willow can’t fully trust Nick, he’s surely going to abandon her–again–just like everybody else has. As steadfast as Nick tries to be, he’s put-off by her constant reticence. The break-up-to-make-up isn’t long and the HEA is as believable as any other.

Interested? This book comes out TODAY–Pick it up here:  GOODREADS  AMAZON  Barnes & Noble

As these two stories follow the love-lives of two football players, it’s clear that our next Game For It novel will feature another teammate. What do I say to that?

HIKE!

So, if you read either of these books remember to let me know what you thought of them in the comments.

And, as always, keep reading, my friends! 🙂

Who Doesn’t Love SEXY BERKELEY?

Sexy BerkeleyI had the pleasure to pick this Dani Lovell title up recently and I’m glad I did.

It’s THE HOLIDAY, without the cheating bastards…

So, yahoo!

Here’s what happens: Londoner Bea takes a spontaneous vacation with her friend Tilly to LA to visit Tilly’s sister. Bea suffers panic attacks in flight—particularly surrounding take-offs and landings. While she’s gripping the headrest in fear, a strong hand clasps hers and a connection is made.

Thankfully, that strong hand belongs to Daniel Berkeley, who is sexy, as the title proclaims.

Daniel invites Bea to the lounge for a drink and chat while the trans-Atlantic flight hustles on. And the chat ends with a more-than-pleasant ‘pash’ (That’s a ‘make-out’ for the Yanks). Skittish of holiday romantic entanglements, Bea turns down Daniel’s request for a date. Never fear—fate steps in to reunite these lovely folks two days later. Sparks fly, not just for Bea and Daniel, but for Tilly and Daniel’s BFF Luke Summers.

Bea is overwrought knowing that she’s developing serious feelings for a man that she can never truly have; she’s unwilling to move to the States, and Daniel’s a big wig at his father’s corporation. So, despite two passion-filled days and nights—she breaks off more visitations.

NO! How could she refuse to see Sexy Berkeley? you say.

Well, she does manage to drunk-text him the Friday before she leaves for London…

And the fire is even hotter.

In fact, the magma-like chemistry between Bea and Daniel eventually melts her objection to ‘trying’ a long-distance thing. Bea won’t concede to being long-distance lovers, but she agrees to chatting and texting every now and then, at least, until they work each other out of their systems…

But, Daniel doesn’t want Bea out of his system. And that’s probably the sexiest part of him.

Loved this. Hated that Bea would never relent to Daniel’s desire to simply be hopeful for a future, no matter how realistic her fears. See, I wanted her to throw caution to the birds and let them devour the scraps, but she just WOULDN’T! And yet, her stubbornness was decidedly what gave this story its satisfying ending. Also: Can I thank you, Dani Lovell, for creating a male lead who is attractive and uber-wealthy and yet not a kinked-out Dom? It’s nice to read a vanilla with sprinkles of heat for a change. (Not every book has to Out-Fifty, FIFTY, folks!)

SEXY BERKELEY is free at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s a perfect summer read.

Also, Tilly and Luke’s big fling sets up the next book in the SEXY series—SEXY SUMMERS. I have a feeling we’re going to find a new arrival to the States in that tale, in more ways than one.

Looking forward to it!

Gems in the bargain bin–ALPHA BAD BOYS

So, I’m a frugal gal. I get ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) whenever I can. I download Amazon Freebies. I pick up $.99 specials. I buy secondhand books.

Before you condemn me, let me explain: I have to! Sadly, I spend more cash at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com than I do on shoes…

This isn’t only how I buy books. I buy clearance everything. Yes, I’m that lady in the grocery trying to discern if the  dented can with no label marked 25 cent is corn (YEA!) … or sauerkraut (Eep!).

Naturally, being the clearance queen, the Alpha Bad Boys box set piqued my interest. It’s out for $.99 now…and I scooped it up.

Well folks, it wasn’t corn.

It was BETTER.

If they put hot fudge sundaes in cans, that’s what I would have tasted when I broke the seal on my bargain purchase!

To be clear, there are 7 books in this pack. SEVEN!! for a $1. Granted there are 5 novellas and 2 novels, but still!

Absolutely the best deal.

Why? Because Olivia Cunning. There are TWO novellas from her Sole Regret series–and they are SMOKING! Oh! Who doesn’t love tatted rockstars finding love? NO ONE!!  TRY ME is delicious. I could snack on Gabe…if I was guaranteed I wouldn’t burn my lips on his hotness. And TEMPT ME has turned me into a fangirl. Purchased separately they are $2.99 apiece. [Did I mention this boxset deal is fantastic?]

I also loved ONE NIGHT FOREVER and ASK FOR IT–both contemporary romance, and both full-length novels with strong female leads and dreamy Alpha love interests.

An erotic romance collection can’t be complete without some BDSM–and it’s front and center in TUCKER’S FALL. Not my fave, but a decent tale.

The bookends:  THEIR VIRGIN CAPTIVE and EDUCATING ANSLEY are menage novellas with virgin leads and moderate-to-heavy Dom Alphas. Personally, I feel like crafting a menage tale is 10X harder than an ordinary erotic romance. Like the act itself, describing a menage relationship is a delicate balance requiring finesse. I’ll just say (in this genre) I’ve been spoiled by the mastery that is Nicole Edwards.  I wasn’t blown away by these, but hey, they weren’t sauerkraut.

So, in total, loved this collection. And, it’s cheap. You like all variety of erotic romance?

Embrace your inner dented-can-chooser….Pick it up.