The Rose Road FORTITUDE SMASHED–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new alternate reality M/M romance from Taylor Brooke. FORTITUDE SMASHED is an odd-couple police romance that addresses attraction and pairing, in a fated-mates kinda world.

Drop down to read an author interview and get in on the $25 GC giveaway, too!

About the book:
After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.
But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.

How about a little taste?

Shannon’s first instinct was to call for backup. It’s what he should’ve done.

Instead, he slid his hand around the door and pulled it open; his other hand rested on his holstered gun.

The scent of oil paint and clay wafted strong in the stillness. The room was too open, a wide space with nowhere to hide. Shannon took a step, another, and glanced at the desk, where abstract patterns swirled on the screen of a hibernating computer next to a dimmed, decorative lamp.

Movement. Footsteps, heel to toe, slow and quiet, behind him.

Shannon swung around. Someone—the thief—gasped. He grabbed the fabric of a shirt and shoved whoever was wearing it against the wall.

“You’re under arrest,” he growled. The body, a man, squirmed and cursed. The one time he didn’t play it safe and call for backup was the time he might need it. Shannon forced the thief’s hands against the wall. “Spread your fingers.”

The thief complied. “Of fucking course.” Shannon heard him rolling his eyes.

“Breaking and entering is a crime, you understand that? So is taking things that aren’t yours.”

“I didn’t take anything. I didn’t get the chance to.” Whoever he was, he was unapologetically bored with the situation. Shannon spotted a bold tattoo on his side where his shirt was bunched up from their abrupt collision. The man sighed. “Can I have my hands back now?”

“No, you can’t, because—”

Shannon’s entire being screeched to a stop. His spine straightened; his knees locked. He couldn’t breathe. Beneath his glove, warmth spread from his right thumb into his wrist. The Camellia Clock vibrated, gentle but convincing, a purr that alerted him to the 00:00 that now read in glowing numbers under his thumbnail. Saliva pooled in his mouth. Heat coursed through him. Blood rushed—high speed traffic in his veins. His heartbeat, steady and then not, pounded in his ears.

He stared at the hand spread out on the wall. On the thief’s right thumbnail, the same numbers glowed 00:00. Shannon squeezed the man’s wrist a little tighter.

A shaky breath quivered from the chest in front of him. Apparently, Shannon wasn’t the only one surprised.

He swallowed, and his grip tightened again before he let go and ripped his hands away. Eyeing Shannon carefully, the burglar spun. He had a straight nose and a sharp jaw; he was all angles and edges and pale skin. His skittishness reminded Shannon of a deer—maybe not a deer. The stranger’s lips twitched into a straight-toothed grin under hooded dark eyes. Yeah, maybe not a deer. Maybe a wolf.

A breathless chuckle trickled past a clever smile. The thief gave a slow shake of his head, disbelief and curiosity stitching a genuine expression across his face that Shannon hated. “Aiden Maar,” he said, too confidently to be taken lightly.

Shannon’s jaw was set so tight it ached to open his mouth. “Detective Wurther.”

“Pleasure’s all mine, Detective.” The rasp in his voice made Shannon’s stomach jump.

Before Shannon could yell, or grab, or get another word in, the thief—Aiden—was gone, darting past him and out the door. His head swam. Still reeling, he couldn’t have caught Aiden if his life depended on it. But he was going to have to, because, according to the Camellia Clock, Aiden Maar was his future.

According to Shannon Wurther, the Camellia Clock was wrong.

And, author Taylor Brooke has put together a playlist and rationale to share…

I always listen to certain music when I’m writing. I make playlists, put songs on repeat, take breaks and listen to the lyrics of certain songs that inspired specific scenes to see if I can pinpoint why. Lots of different things come into play when I’m putting a story together, but music tends to be the most important. It helps set the mood and direct the pacing. When I was writing Fortitude Smashed I listened to a lot of The 1975, but this is the official playlist:

Arctic Monkeys – I Wanna Be Yours
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – Closer
Coasts – Oceans
Taken By Trees – Sweet Child O’ Mine
Armin Van Burren ft. Olaf Blackwood – I Need You
30 Seconds to Mars – Stay
St Lucia – All Eyes On You
The Ready Set x Michael Brun – Good Enough
The 1975 – Settle Down
Axwell ft. Kid Ink – I Love You
Troye Sivan – Wild
Andy Grammer – Fresh Eyes (Grey Remix)
The 1975 – The Sound
A Day to Remember – Have Faith in Me
Blackbear – Girls Like You (Tarro Remix)
Blink 182 – What’s My Age Again?
Anna of the North – Us (Acoustic)
Joshua Radin – Winter
Troye Sivan – Youth (Griffin Remix)
30 Seconds to Mars – Alibi

Sometimes music is about the melody and sometimes it’s about the lyrics. Most of the music I chose for the Fortitude Smashed playlist is a mix of both. But which lyrics would fit best to the main characters?

I like to think Shannon listens to all sorts of different music, but if he were to be attached to any of the songs on the playlist, it would be “Have Faith in Me” by A Day To Remember.

I’m going crazy
‘Cause there are things in the streets I don’t believe
So we’ll pretend it’s alright and stay in for the night
What a world
I’ll keep you safe here with me

I said I’d never let you go, and I never did
I said I’d never let you fall and I always meant it
If you didn’t have this chance then I never did
You’ll always find me right there, again

Shannon is constantly struggling with accepting himself and rationalizing his feelings. Since this song is about acceptance, about not letting go and holding on, it sits true with who he is as a character.

Aiden listens to everything, too. He’ll never admit it, but he does. If there was a song that really described him, one that brought his truth to the surface, it would be “Alibi” by 30 Seconds to Mars.

No warning sign, no alibi

We’re fading faster than the speed of light.

Took our change, crashed and burned.

No we’ll never ever learn.

So here we are, the witching hour,
The quickest time to divide and devour.
Divide and devour.

If I could end the quest for fire,
For truth, for love, and my desire
For my desire

And I fell apart, but got back up again.

Aiden’s struggle is with himself. He deals with mental illness, grief, self-worth and loneliness. These lyrics are about giving in and getting up after, the daily, weekly, monthly cycle that someone goes through when they’re trying to find the light again. The most substantial line being “I fell apart, but got back up again,” could be a perfect descriptor for Fortitude Smashed.

My Review:
This is an alternate reality view of our world, where people are chipped at birth with a count-down clock that times out when you meet your true mate, the so-called Rose Road. People tend to fall, and fall hard, in love with whomever they simultaneously time-out with, male female or group.

Aiden Maar is twenty-two and dealing with the grief of his parents’ death six years before. He was an adopted child, and he’s emotionally unstable but loved dearly by his older adoptive brother, Marcus. Despite the unconditional love he’s experienced, Aiden doesn’t dare hope that he’ll meet his Rose Road, or that it will work out they way he’s seen for others, into a consuming love. Aiden has lashed out for years, most recently as a high-level art and jewelry thief. He moves up and down the West Coast, but the police have been coordinating and his days of freedom might soon come to an end…at the hands of Detective Shannon Wurther. Shame that’s the exact moment his Camellia Clock times out.

Shannon is the youngest person to make detective in California in history. At 25, he’s hard at work, but he’s also curious about the status of his Rose Road. Will he find a business professional? A teacher? How does the Camellia Clock just know they will be suited? What if they aren’t? Worse, what if they are and then his Rose Road goes and dies, like what happened to his partner, and then he’s a shattered mess for the rest of his life. Though he’s been watching his clock tick down for years, he’s not prepared in the slightest when his clock times out just as he’s about to arrest a notorious art thief, Aiden Marr.

The rest of the book is the slow, but steady, recognition of attraction, lust and love that flows between Aiden and Shannon. It’s a seven-month dance between frustration, awareness and whole-hearted acceptance. They wonder if they can just walk away from one another, but they continue to be drawn to each other, and each time the gravity between them becomes heavier until it’s a presence they can’t deny. It’s slow and intimate, though it’s not too steamy. There’s a lot of thought and consideration, and polling of friends and family. There are complications, because a cop and a criminal aren’t supposed to fall in love, and Shannon has to accept Aiden as he is, if he’s going to trust in the Camellia Clock system. And, he doesn’t want to. Doesn’t it feel like a mistake? What sort of cosmic joke is he experiencing? But the more time he spends with Aiden, the more he peels away Aiden’s defenses. And, the mroe he recognizes that fate isn’t a quirk, or a mistake.

It’s the same for Aiden, who feels as if Shannon’s keen insight truly penetrates his grief, and his depressive dysthmia. He may not like Aiden’s past, or illegal actions, but he accepts Aiden is “it” for him, and his brand of attention is both flattering and romantic. Shannon is a man that Aiden can trust, with his heart and life, and a man Aiden is willing to be vulnerable for. I loved how this realization took time and consideration. Their lives blend in unexpected ways, and I kept waiting for a big crisis, but that doesn’t come. It seems that once they’ve fallen, they get to keep building on their love. It was sweet and tender. No cliffhangers or big conflicts to be found, once you get past their initial forays into connecting. I liked that, too.

Interested? You can find FORTITIUDE SMASHED on Goodreads, Interlude Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Book Depository, and Indiebound.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a $25 GC to Interlude Press or one of five copies of FORTITUDE SMASHED.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup professional, Taylor turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of tea, planning her next adventure, and fawning over baby animals. Fortitude Smashed was published by Interlude Press on September 21.

Connect with Taylor on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Their Experience Was STAGED–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m really excited to share a review for a new alternate universe M/M romance from Kim Fielding. You already know I enjoyed A SECOND HARVEST and LOVE CAN’T CONQUER, but STAGED is something altogether different. It’s a new episode in the Belonging ‘Verse series offered by Riptide Publishing, and it’s a really unique story setting. All the stories take place in a world very much like ours, except slavery was never outlawed…

Staged (Belonging, #3)About the book:
Once the second-prize winner on My Slave’s Got Talent, Sky Blue has spent the past few years singing at a failing New York nightclub. While Sky has never had control over his fate, his life seems to take a turn for the worse when he’s torn from the familiar comfort of performing and sold to a rich and enigmatic man.

Morgan Wallace takes his newly purchased slave to San Francisco, his intentions unclear. On the one hand, he treats Sky with more kindness than Sky has ever known—treats him like a real person. On the other hand, he shares Sky at parties hosted by his sadistic new friends.

A confused slave is an endangered slave, and Sky isn’t even sure of his master’s real name. Is he Morgan Wallace, wealthy and cruel, or Mackenzie Webster, caring and compassionate? Caught between hope, fear, and an undeniably growing attachment, Sky struggles to untangle which parts are real and which are merely a performance. His future, his heart, and even his life may depend on it.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: dubious consent, explicit violence and non-consent.

My Review:
This book is the third set in the “Belonging ‘Verse” series that explores an alternate world where slavery was never abolished, and is set in current times. It is a stand alone read.

The book has these warnings: dubious consent, explicit violence, and non-consent. You need to understand that this is a fictional slave society. Slaves are not allowed to refuse any task or action desired by any master, even ones not their own. This book contains rapes and horrific beatings of slaves, including the MC, Sky Blue.

Sky Blue is a slave, born from a slave in a whorehouse, though his father was a well-known freeman singer. He was sold at age 8 to a music producer. He later took second in a slave singing competition, and toured the world with the all-slave band 2Nyte. These days he sings in a rundown club, and he knows his days are numbered there. He’s not surprised when he’s sold to a slave trader, and he’s fretful, awaiting purchase in a filthy warehouse where he’s caged all day and night. Then he’s bought.

Morgan Wallace seems wealthy and kind, at first, but he’s never handled a slave before. Sky is anxious for direction, and has no idea what to do with himself. He travels from NYC to San Francisco and there he learns the worst of his new experience. He and Morgan make the rounds at all-male, private, BDSM parties. Which are horrifying. Truly. Not only are the slaves there mistreated, they are disfigured and raped for the dubious enjoyment of their masters. These are freemen who take great pleasure in breaking the toys of their fellows.

Morgan seems genuinely apologetic and torn regarding his employment of Sky at these parties. He seemingly takes no pleasure in it, and spends days tending Sky’s wounds in the aftermath. He buys Sky all sorts of gifts, and it’s utterly confusing to Sky. Why? Why torture? Why make amends? Can none of these people see him as human? The answer to that is: NO. Sky challenges Morgan’s beliefs regarding the intellect of slaves, but Morgan’s in a position where he can’t stop his association with the horrible cretins, and manumission (freeing of a slave) is not allowable–unlawful–in any case. That said, he has a genuine affection for Sky. Sky’s also perversely attracted to Morgan–and often takes the upper hand in their private, intimate activities. Sky’s never had a home, only a place to stay where he was communally housed with other slaves. The apartment that he and Morgan share is the first place that feels uniquely home to him.

I don’t want to give away the big twist, but I will acknowledge that I expected it. Morgan’s activity is too shady, and his remorse too sincere. He’s clearly playing a dangerous game with Sky and his new BDSM associates, and he’s unable to pull out, even if it means hurting Sky more and more. Still, Morgan recognizes that Sky is as much a man as he is, and just as intelligent, debunking the indoctrinated fiction that slaves are somehow lesser beings, and unable to feel any sense of their position. This makes Morgan realize that his actions are all the more heinous.

I loved how Sky was so in touch with his humanity, and the limitations and injustice of his station. While there is absolutely a thriller/horrifying aspect to the book, the ending is truly tender and spectacular. Sky never imagined what his fate might be, but he made actual decisions–generally forbidden–that directed the course of his new life and happiness. When he had the opportunities to escape, he demonstrated, without any shadow of doubt, his humanity and commitment to Morgan. It was really so sweet, and I was happily rewarded by bearing witness to Sky’s HEA.

Writing a book from a slave’s perspective is never easy, I imagine. This whole alternate universe is a statement about control, and the lack of it. It allows deep investigation of the darker side of humanity, perspectives that linger malevolently on the side of our current experience, but have never really faded: entitlement, prejudice, absolute power, exploitation, and the like. It’s not a pretty picture–and surely exists on the fringe of society today. By internalizing these stories, readers are able to gain a new empathy for those who don’t have any real power over their destiny or livelihood. I enjoyed the previous two books in this series for that same reason. That said, none of the books are upbeat or happy, though they do end with an HEA, as well. There are no actual repercussions for owners who abuse their slaves, while there are many torments to which a slave can be subject, not the least of which is being sold off to work in dangerous mines. There is a small movement to abolish slavery, but it is still in its infancy.

You are warned in the blurbs–non-consent, violence and dark themes within. Let the reader be wary.

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

About the Author:
venicebigKim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Catch up to Kim on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Friends-to-Lovers: CATCH A TIGER BY THE TAIL–A Review

Hi there! As you may remember, I’m a big fan of Charlie Cohect’s THIRDS series. Shifters, M/M romance, contemporary alternate world, police romance, interspecies dating…those are all hooks to catch me, I swear. For people who haven’t jumped in a read the whole series, CATCH A TIGER BY THE TAIL is a book you can still enjoy, mostly on its own. Want more info on the previous books?  Click THIRDS, RACK & RUIN, RISE AND FALL, and AGAINST THE GRAIN.

Catch a Tiger by the Tail (THIRDS, #6)About the book:
Calvin Summers and Ethan Hobbs have been best friends since childhood, but somewhere along the line, their friendship evolved into something more. With the Therian Youth Center bombing, Calvin realizes just how short life can be and no longer keeps his feelings for his best friend a secret. Unfortunately, change is difficult for Ethan; most days he does well to deal with his Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety. Calvin’s confession adds a new struggle for Ethan, one he fears might cost him the friendship that’s been his whole world for as long as he can remember.

As partners and Defense Agents at the THIRDS, being on Destructive Delta is tough at the best of times, but between call-outs and life-threatening situations, Calvin and Ethan not only face traversing the challenges of their job, but also working toward a future as more than friends.

My Review:
This book is set in the THIRDS world which is contemporary America with a twist; fifty years ago there was a virus that caused some of the population to evolve into animal shifters. These people are called Therians, and after much civil unrest there is some level of peace between Humans and Therians. THIRDS is the Human/Therian defense organization that keeps the peace and apprehends rogue Therians, as they are very strong, and THIRDS squadrons are made up of equal numbers of humans and Therians.

Calvin and Hobbs are two twenty-fiveish best friends who are also in love with one another. Ethan Hobbs is a large tiger Therian who has Selective Mutism and crippling social anxiety. He is the youngest of three sons, and his father suffers a Therian-virus-related pain disorder. Watching his father suffer seemed to trigger Ethan’s mutism. Some of his own family haven’t heard his voice aloud in twenty years…

Calvin is human, and one of the only people that Ethan is able to regularly speak with, and even then only in close company, and still–only sometimes. They are partners in THIRDS and live together. Calvin has always loved Ethan, as a best friend, and later as a lover, but never told Ethan until recently–when Ethan was critically injured on a mission. It’s been several months, and Ethan’s not sure what to do. He returns Calvin’s feelings, but he struggles to convey his love, being hampered by both his mutism and his anxiety. It was so poignant to be in Ethan’s head, feeling his exasperation with himself, and wishing he could be a better (loving) partner to Cal. His eyes are opened in a new way while they sort things out–Ethan gets the full scope of the suffering Cal has endured by remaining his steadfast friend–some of which was intense bullying by humans at their low-income, low-quality high school.

Cal is a great guy, and partner, to Ethan, and makes his needs and wants, as normal and small as they may seem, known. It is Ethan who commits himself to bridging the gap. Working tirelessly, Ethan begins to expand his group of people with whom he can speak. It was so rewarding for him, and the reader, to observe these progressions. I think this book will certainly appeal to readers who have special needs persons in their lives, as the communication issues Ethan has mirror, to a degree, those present in many kids and adults on the autism spectrum. I loved having such a window into Ethan’s condition.

The setting of working with THIRDS is interesting always on account of the police aspect. There danger is ever-present, and there is bloodshed in this book. People very close to both Ethan and Hobbs get injured and bad guys must be found. Also, loving must (and does!!) happen. While a new reader to the series may not know the full backstory on every character, there is certainly enough in this book to portray Calving and Ethan’s love story and to pique interest for further reading. I’m looking forward to the next one!

Interested? You can find CATCH A TIGER BY THE TAIL on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press (eBook or paperback), All Romance eBooks, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

BDPB About the Author

Charlie_Cochet_by_madison_parker150Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Charlie’s Newsletter

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

THE SHINING ONES–Excerpt and Giveaway!

SO-BannerTemplateHi there! I’m spreading the word about an alt-historical, fantasy M/M romance novella from Dusk Peterson. I’ve not read any of the books in this series, but it sounds intriguing.

Check out the excerpt below and get in on the giveaway!

shiningones6x9About the book:

“He was skilled by now at making innocuous remarks in the presence of the Shining Ones. Nobody had even guessed that he knew what they were.”

The Eternal Dungeon is filled with prisoners who shine like the sun.

No one knows this except Barrett Boyd, a guard notorious for having survived a disciplinary punishment that should have killed him. He is also notorious for his rebellion against the authorities of the royal prison. At a pivotal time in the Eternal Dungeon’s history, when abusive practices of the past may finally be abolished, Barrett finds himself drawn to the mystery of a younger guard, Clifford Crofford, who claims that he and Barrett are love-mates.

Barrett has no memory of this. He has no memory of anything before his punishment. What does the past matter, compared to Barrett’s determination to protect the prisoners? But Barrett cannot ignore his bond with Clifford, and the closer that Barrett comes to Clifford, the more the danger arises that Clifford will question Barrett’s sanity. . . .

This novelette (miniature novel) of disability and love can be read on its own or as a side story in The Eternal Dungeon, an award-winning speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

The Eternal Dungeon series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Dark Light, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael’s House, and The Eternal Dungeon) about disreputable men on the margins of society, and the men and women who care for them. Set between the 1880s and the 1910s, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. One of the series in the cycle, Waterman, combines elements of the 1910s with retrofuturistic imagery from the 1960s.

A little taste…

“I don’t want you to mistake why you’re here.”

Clifford quickly shook his head. “No, sir. I know you’re not inviting me into your bed. But we can be work partners, can’t we? To be able to work with you again – to help you fight to protect the prisoners against abuse . . .” He took a deep breath and said more steadily, “I want that more than anything else in my life.”

It would have been easier if he could have told Clifford the truth. If he could have said, “Everyone believes that my brain was changed, and it’s true. Ever since this dungeon’s High Seeker nearly beat me to death for shielding a prisoner against his cruelty, I’ve seen the prisoners here in a way that no one else sees them. I’ve seen the light that shines within them, as bright as a sun. I’ve seen how wondrous they are, and how fragile at the same time. I’ve dedicated my life to serving them in the only way I know how. . . . And I am dedicated to you as well. You are the only one, besides the prisoners, who shines with that deep, bold light. I am your servant, now and forever. I’ll give you anything that I can – anything that will please you. Anything but the love of a love-mate, for if I touched you for more than a few seconds, I would die of the exquisite pain.'”

He had always possessed enough sense not to say that to Clifford or anyone else. Always, from the first few weeks of his awakening.

Interested? You can find THE SHINING ONES on Goodreads, Amazon, and the Author’s store.

****GIVEAWAY****

Clink on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an e-copy of THE SHINING ONES.

Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:

Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical speculative fiction: alternate history, historical fantasy, and retrofuture science fiction, including lgbtq novels, original slash, and other types of diverse fiction. Suspense plays an important role in many of the tales; the conflict in those tales is both external and internal. Peterson’s stories are often placed in dark settings, such as prisons or wartime locations. The mood of the stories, however, is not one of unrelieved gloominess; romance, friendship, family affection, and faithful service are recurring themes. Visit duskpeterson.com for e-books and free fiction.

You can find Dusk online on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads and Tumblr.

pride

 

Building A Love: The CLOCKWORK HEART–A Review & Giveaway!

HI there! Sharing a review for THE CLOCKWORK HEART by Heidi Cullinan. This book is a large departure from the contemporary fiction Ms. Cullinan writes–NOWHERE RANCH, CARRY THE OCEAN or even SLEIGH RIDE, and yet I haven’t picked up a book of hers I didn’t want to recommend. And that’s still true.

CLOCKWORK HEART is an alternate reality, steampunk, M/M romance that creates a world where Napoleon didn’t meet his Waterloo, where the Empire of France consumed most of continental Europe and the leaders there are further bent on conquest. Also, clockworks–steam and aether-powered machines that do all and sundry, even replace bits of humans damaged or wished to be “upgraded.” It was a fascinating piece, not only for the romance! Adventure, betrayal and ingenuity are the call words of the day, here.

Clockwork Heart (Clockwork Love, #1)About the book:
Love, adventure and a steaming good time.

As the French army leader’s bastard son, Cornelius Stevens enjoys a great deal of latitude. But when he saves an enemy soldier using clockwork parts, he’s well aware he risks hanging for treason. That doesn’t worry him half as much, however, as the realization he’s falling for his patient.

Johann Berger never expected to survive his regiment’s suicide attack on Calais, much less wake up with mechanical parts. To avoid discovery, he’s forced to hide in plain sight as Cornelius’s lover—a role Johann finds himself taking to surprisingly well.

When a threat is made on Cornelius’s life, Johann learns the secret of the device implanted in his chest—a mythical weapon both warring countries would kill to obtain. Caught up in a political frenzy, in league with pirates, dodging rogue spies, mobsters and princesses with deadly parasols, Cornelius and Johann have no time to contemplate how they ended up in this mess. All they know is, the only way out is together—or not at all.

Warning: Contains tinkers, excessive clockwork appendages, and a cloud-sweeping tour of Europe. A little absinthe, a little theft, a little exhibitionism. Men who love men, women who love women, and some who aren’t particular.

My Review:
Holy steaming smokes, folks!

Delirious with stars for this fast-paced, espionage-packed, odd-couple, steampunk, alt-history, scorching hot, M/M romance.

I do love me some steampunk, and this book brings alt-historical steampunk on strong–along with the romance, the yearning, the lovin’ and the sexin’, too. The world is a glorious alt-historical 1910’s era Europe with France having conquered vast swatches of the continent, and in continual battle with Austria. The main fuel source is aether, a gaseous mix that’s mined in Austria and coveted by the French. It powers mighty dirigibles that are used to make war and trade.

Cornelius is the notorious gay exhibitionist bastard son of the Archduke of France. Conny’s father who aims to “unite” all of Europe by force. Peace through subjugation, it seems. As a master tinker’s apprentice, Cornelius is well versed in designing and implanting clockwork parts into people. He happens upon a barge stack high with dead Austrian soldiers, he’s overcome with grief over his father’s eternal war and the huge loss of life that is its toll. Then one of the men moves, and Cornelius’ soft heart compels him to rescue this man, even though he is an enemy. Any that he can save is a knock against his father, to Conny.

His Austrian soldier is a big man with many, many terrible injuries. He requires an entire leg graft, a partial leg graft, a new arm and all of this is not a trouble to Cornelius. What is, however, a problem is the shrapnel in the man’s chest. The only way to fix this stranger is to give him a clockwork heart. And, Conny’s tinker-master, Felix, had created just this fearsome thing many years before. It is both priceless and dangerous, and Conny steals it to heal his soldier.

As Johann heals, he finds himself a monster–what he had feared becoming if he fell into French hands. Initially, all the clockworks freak him out, and he’s sure that he’s now one of the automaton soldiers the French are rumored to be building. Despite the language barrier, Conny is able to convince Johann of his kind intentions. Conny’s flamboyant friends, notably Valentin, are not happy that Conny is not out socializing in their local bawdy cafe, and this brings Conny to disguise Johann as an air pirate, and masquerade him as his lover. Johann has no experience in loving…anyone. He’s just 18, a soldier since a young age, and a deserter, truth be told. Conny has no idea how prescient his “pirate” disguise was.

This is a rather tense adventure with several escapes, lots of daring rescues, and a whole lot of falling in love. Conny and Johann strike up a tentative, tender romance, and the sexytimes could melt a glacier. I will confess that their bond involves role play, clockwork “toys,” fantasy, and even a bit of menage. These are very different, very liberal times, with the use of cocaine-laced absinthe to spark a whole lot of amorous exchanges. Expect orgy scenes–which was fine by me.

I was captivated by the lush descriptions and deep plotline. I never felt the plot bog, not once, and could not stop turning the pages. The book is the first in a series, and I expect the next Clockwork Love book will center on a different lovestory, though I’m anxious to have more of Johann and Conny.

Inerested? You can find THE CLOCKWORK HEART on Goodreads, Samhain Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a signed copy and a cute clockwork keychain!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

Heidi CullinanAbout the Author:
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Wrapped Up In A COLLAR AND TIE–Reviews and Adieus…

Hi there! It’s my great pleasure to share reviews for the final book (and companion!) in the Ganymede Quartet, A COLLAR AND TIE. I have shared reviews for this alternate historical M/M series: A MOST PERSONAL PROPERTY, A PROPER LOVER, and A WILLFUL ROMANTIC, each having a free companion novella as a bonus.

In truth, I adore these boys, and their travails have become mine.

A Collar and Tie (Ganymede Quartet #4)My Review:
This is the FINAL book (sighs from the loss!) of the Ganymede Quartet, and the books need to be read in order.

I have faithfully followed this series, loving every second of Henry’s angst and Martin’s solicitousness. The books are set in an alternate historical period, NYC circa 1901, but in this world slaves are still present, and Companion slaves are purchased by wealthy families for the personal use of their teenaged children. Martin is a Companion from the House of Ganymede who was purchased for Henry Blackwell, scion of the industrialist Hiram Blackwell, seven months ago. Henry’s darkest secret is that he loves Martin, even though it is unnatural and unacceptable gentlemanly behavior.

Henry is a romantic fool, wishing that he could change the world so that his love for Martin could be shared with any, and every, one. He has no desire to marry a woman, even though he knows this is expected. He fears his father will take Martin away if he learns of Henry’s proclivities, and yet he cannot contain his ardor. *swoon*

Henry is a desirable partner for the ladies, because he is wealthy and handsome, and his lack of interest is almost catnip for some of the girls of his acquaintance. Still, Henry’s impulsiveness is bound to get him into more trouble–when he steals private moments at the Metropolitan Ball with Martin. His indiscretion leads to a falling out with his best friend, Louis, and a hasty retreat into the bowels of NYC’s seedy gay society.

I was so enamored of this part–of Henry finding common folk with whom to share his joy over being with Martin. Being that he’s still only 16, Henry’s compass doesn’t necessarily point in the proper direction. Martin’s attempt to steer him rightly is unwelcome, and leads to further discord. Oy vey, Henry! It is meant to be, child, just not the way YOU want it to be…

I had my heart broken along with Henry, though I knew he was being petulant and rotten to Martin. I awaited reconciliation and, like Martin, was rewarded for my patience. As a romance, this book (and series) hits all the marks. It is sexy and sweet and sad and joyous. I have angsted alongside these boys for the better part of a year–and I could go ten more years hearing their wondrous tales.

All the main issues are accounted for: Henry and his parents have a better relationship. Henry learns to deal with his love for Martin in private. People want to be around Henry, despite his “invert” issues. Martin is fantastic and lovely and wonderful and Henry will be a better man for loving him.

This book ends with a satisfying resolution, but I’m still not satisfied. I’m a little bitter that this is the end, in truth. I need more Henry and Martin in my life. I want to know how their lives change. I want to tag along to college, and to see Henry attempt to court a lady. I want he and Martin to live long happy lives together, filled with adventure and love.

I know I won’t see them again like this, and I am melancholy over it.

Sign of a fantastic series….

Interested? You can find A COLLAR AND TIE on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

As is Ms. Glass’ custom, she releases a companion novella from the POV of Henry’s Companion, Martin. This is a freebie, but won’t make much sense for people who don’t read Henry’s book, first.

26093726I adored A FREE CHOICE, which is to be expected, really, as I have adored the series in its entirety.

The book is a wrap on the series, and mostly follows the final three days of A COLLAR AND TIE, from Martin’s perspective. It is lovely and wonderful, and I want more!

Martin has recently reconciled with his master and lover, Henry Blackwell. Henry’s family is an odd mix, and not quite what Martin had hoped for when he was being sold as a Companion last September, but Martin has found love and devotion in his master and he could not have wished for better circumstances.

Martin does wrap up his thoughts on the 14th Street debacle and his misery over Henry’s bad temper quite well. I was so glad to see his playfulness and thoughtfulness come out so strongly. I think Martin is finally comfortable enough to be a partner to Henry, and not solely his slave. I do so want to see them try Chinese food, and go out adventuring with Mr. Ross and Simon! To see them play with Mr. Wilton and Russ.

I think I might not go gracefully into this goodnight, Ms. Glass!

I am not ready for this series to end. And I am eager for further stories to bring them back to me.
*crosses fingers*
*contemplates pact with the devil*

You can find A FREE CHOICE on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
Darrah Glass is a writer and generally inquisitive person who likes her fantasies to be as historically accurate as possible. She loves research, sex scenes, and researching sex scenes. She’s married and happily childless, does yoga, never cleans her house, likes shoes and toenail polish, and is vain about her hair. As far as her priorities are concerned, she’d rather write than do just about anything else, and she drives a 15-year-old car but carries really nice purses.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends! 🙂

He Becomes A WILLFUL ROMANTIC–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for the third book in the Ganymede Quartet from Darrah Glass. As you may remember from my reviews of A MOST PERSONAL PROPERTY and A PROPER LOVER the Ganymede world is an alternate history universe where slavery still exists and Companion slaves, like Martin, are bred to be sold to the wealthy. They are meant to be sexual outlets for wealthy unwed teens, and to later become personal advisers in business and household affairs. It is the year 1901 and Henry is the son of NYC’s most wealthy man. He’s also in love with his Companion, Martin. Henry has always known he was a “fairy” but with Martin he not only embraces his unnatural urges, he’s scheming to celebrate them…

This is an adult read with explicit gay sex between two teens.

A Willful Romantic (Ganymede Quartet #3)My review:
Disclaimer: I am a super fangirl of this alt historical M/M romance series and stalk the author, unashamedly, so I can get my next Henry and Martin fix.

This is the third novel in the Ganymede Quartet series. It is best to read them in order.

Okay. Where we start in this book is New Years’ Day with Henry bursting with love for Martin. He so desperately wants to share his joy–it is a wonder to him how intelligent, beautiful Martin can truly care for him–about having a companion who is so caring. It troubles Henry that Martin may only love him because it is his job, and often questions Martin about how he might feel if he were a freeman.

Martin thinks this is all nonsense. He isn’t free, and has no desire to be free. He feels exceptional gratitude to have a master who values him as a person, and shows genuine affection.

The two of them are absolutely besotted. Still, this is all behind closed doors. True gentlemen make make use of their slaves, but they are not to kiss them, or ensure their mutual pleasure, or –Heaven forfend–confess to loving them.

But Henry is a willful romantic, and a Valentine has been procured. He is still nervous about Martin’s close friendship with a fellow slave, Tom, and he desires to know more about Martin’s history of training at Ganymede, but the edge of jealousy is wearing off. (Yay!) I really enjoyed Henry’s attempts at closeness with Martin. He laments the difference in their station only because slaves are free to be gay, and free men can be (secretly) gay, but a master/slave gay relationship is doubly tricky. His attempts at public claiming/closeness grow ever more dangerous.

Both Henry and Martin get a bit more voyeuristic in this book, but Henry continues to claim Martin all for himself–never sharing him. There is talk and fantasies about including a third, but Henry’s possessive stance soon garners him a bit of recognition, in a good way for a change. Slave relations are definitely in the forefront of this book, and we end with the knowledge that these boys are in for big changes.

Cannot wait for the next book!

Interested? You can find A WILLFUL ROMANTIC on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

A Vital Chemistry (Ganymede Quartet #3.5)If you want to know more of Martin’s story, each Ganymede book comes with a “companion” novella. A VITAL CHEMISTRY is told in Martin’s POV and recounts not just his current situation with Henry, but also a bit about Martin’s first, love, Richard–a fellow companion-n-training who dies during his 15th year at Ganymede. This is such a lovely book, very sweet, with a 14 y/o, tentative Martin having his first crush!

There is a lot of tenderness in the flashback sections, illustrating how all these boys came to depend upon each other emotionally, as well as physically. I really enjoyed getting more of Martin’s history.

I also really enjoyed Martin’s perspective on his current relationship with Henry. He is very pragmatic, and understands the social risks of Henry’s ardor. He must keep Henry in check–for Henry’s own good–even if it means denying his own desires. Still, he very much loves Henry and I so swoon for books with swoony love stories.

I’m not sure who adores Martin more:  Henry? Or me?

Interested? You can find A VITAL CHEMISTRY on Goodreads, Amazon and CURRENTLY FREE on Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
Darrah Glass is a writer and generally inquisitive person who likes her fantasies to be as historically accurate as possible. She loves research, sex scenes, and researching sex scenes. She’s married and happily childless, does yoga, never cleans her house, likes shoes and toenail polish, and is vain about her hair. As far as her priorities are concerned, she’d rather write than do just about anything else, and she drives a 15-year-old car but carries really nice purses.

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

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends! 🙂