Thursday, August 23, 2018

A picture is worth...


Triple Dare by David Batalon. There has to be a story here. Want to tell us about it in 100-1000 words? Directions here. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A picture is worth...


Where are these two and what would they like to do tonight? Want to tell us about it in 100-1000 words? Directions here. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Drive Shaft by Geoffrey Knight, Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway



DRIVE SHAFT
GEOFFREY KNIGHT
M/M ROMANCE
RELEASE DATE: 06.11.18



BLURB
Jensen Rivers wasn’t looking for trouble. As the new kid on the block at Clyde’s Body Shop, all Jensen wanted was a job, a place where he could put his head down and ass up.

But Dean ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson plans on getting more than just Jensen’s hands dirty. Reckless and arrogant, drenched in sweat and dripping with a masculinity that cannot be tamed, Hutch is determined to claim victory over his new work colleague – both physically and sexually.

Will Jensen risk everything to find the love trapped behind Hutch’s fearless fa├žade? Will Hutch bury the secret tragedy of his past before he throws away his last chance at a future? Will the dangers that confront them both be enough to tear them apart… or bring them together forever?

** This novel combines two sequential novellas previously published separately, titled Drive Shaft and Drive Shaft: Between a Rock and a Hard Place.



Cryselle's Review


What a fun, over-the-top romp! Two guys who have some baggage, mechanical skills, and hot rides get together, and the sparks do fly. 

Definitely keep the over-the-top part in mind. Everything here is bigger than life and twice as randy. The two novellas dovetail nicely, one to get Jensen and Hutch together, the second to see them working as a team and partners. A lot of fun, if you're prepared to not take some things too seriously (the sex scene in the first story, oh my! The guys at Goodyear will never know why I'm going to have to giggle at oil changes for the rest of my life.). Just go with it: accept that you're going to yell at the Kindle in the best way, because you're invested in these guys.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Monday, July 9, 2018

Bad Moon Arising by CL Mustafic blitz with giveaway


Title: Bad Moon Arising
Series: Outcasts, Book One
Author: CL Mustafic
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: July 9, 2018
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 51100
Genre: Paranormal, shifters, werewolves, mates, humor, enemies to lovers

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40650754-bad-moon-arising



Bad Moon Arising


In a sleepy trailer park in the backwoods of Minnesota lake country, there lies a secret—threatened by a Grindr hookup gone bad.

Clay Anderson gets more than he bargained for when, in a moment of passion, he bites his Grindr hookup hard enough to draw blood. The man’s reaction isn’t as reassuring as Clay hoped, but of all the consequences Clay considered, lycanthropy wasn’t among them.

Damian Maccon leads a simple life as part of the Outcast pack. Not realizing at first that Clay swallowed his blood during their wild romp, he feels responsible when it’s evident that Clay has become infected. Worse, he now has a new werewolf on his hands until Clay learns the rules, and he has to oversee Clay’s decision to choose a mate within the pack.

Damian thinks his biggest problem is that Clay hates him, but when Clay chooses Damian’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Blaine, he goes on full alert. Can he save Clay from the same fate that befell him at Blaine’s hands?

Excerpt


Chapter One

CLAY

Sitting in the back booth of the Blue Moon Bar and Grill—the only openly gay-friendly spot in the small city I worked in—I ran my finger over the screen of my phone, trying to gather up enough courage to tap the picture I’d been staring at for the past ten minutes. Touching the pic brought up his profile, which I’d already memorized. The green light told me he was online and only a few miles away from my current location. I liked his pic. It wasn’t very often Grindr users in my rural area posted pictures of their faces. Previous experience had taught me most of the app’s users were closeted and/or straight guys who liked to suck the occasional cock and worried their dude bros would download the app as a joke and see them there. But this guy had no such issue, and boy, was I glad.

Of course, on the heels of that thought came another: it probably wasn’t a real pic of the guy. As I stared into the mismatched eyes—one a light green, the other a pale blue—I had a feeling he was catfishing, but there was only one way to find out for sure. Tapping the picture of the shaggy, sandy-blond-haired, scruffy-faced man brought up the chat, but I hesitated a moment. His user name was MoonGazer, which made me think of a nerdy guy with a telescope. Suddenly I had a vision of the guy sitting in his room spying on the hot guy next door, which gave me the boost of confidence I needed to send a message.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Play It By Ear by K.M. Neuhold blog tour and review

Play it by Ear Cover

PLAY IT BY EAR
REPLAY SERIES, BOOK 2
K.M. NEUHOLD
M/M ROMANCE
RELEASE DATE: 07.02.18

Lando
My muse is gone, and I haven’t written a word of music in over a year. Every time I close my eyes, all I can see is Dawson. Nine years ago, just before Downward Spiral’s first major tour, I met my soulmate and then I walked away. Now that I’ve finally tracked him down again, things have changed. I’ll have to make him fall for me all over again. But is it possible I put our single weekend together on a pedestal or could Dawson really be The One?

Dawson
A traumatic brain injury nine years ago left me deaf and with spotty memory of the first twenty years of my life. When one of the biggest rock stars in the world shows up and seems to know me, I’m not sure what to believe. Is it possible he’s telling the truth when he says he’s been in love with me for nine years, even if I can’t remember ever meeting him?

***Play it by Ear is the second book in the Replay series. Each book in the series will focus on a different band member getting a second chance at love. Each book can be read as a stand-alone.

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Cryselle's review:

My goodness, Downward Spiral has some life complications. I reviewed the first book, which was Linc's story, where Lando and the others were secondary characters, and only glimmers of their lives shone through. Now we've got Lando, and his road hasn't been an easy one. 

One magic weekend with Dawson, nine years ago won Lando's heart, and then... nothing. Dawson dropped off the map, leaving Lando wondering and yearning, writing songs that Dawson surely ought to hear, pouring out of every radio. Dawson's own trauma seems to put him beyond a musician's reach, and his patchy memories only leave him obsessed with a band he can't hear, and a bass player he can't quite remember.

The entire book is an exploration of "who am I? And who am I to you?" Dawson has no real memories to work with, and memories of a man who changed profoundly are all Lando has. The author teases out things that are past, hope for the future, and understanding of the present in a way that made this a read with depth.

A nickname issue that marred the first book resurfaces here, not quite as badly but still, no, please, stop that. I was hoping for more on page with Lando's songwriting, as lyrics are what Dawson can experience most fully. Lando did find another way to pull Dawson into the the music, and that will bring a smile.

This is shaping up into a complex, angsty rock star series with something a little extra. We got more glimpses of the other bandmates and Archer, their manager and miracle worker, and I expect their stories will be just as riveting. 




PibE teaser 1A

EXCERPT
The blank pages taunt me cruelly. No matter how many times I put the tip of my pencil to the paper, it remains blank. Have you ever felt like your entire life depended on your ability to do something that you suddenly couldn’t do? Not that I’m going to die if I can’t write. But if I can’t do this, the band will be dead, and I might as well die along with it.

“Just write,” I command myself, putting the tip of the pencil to the paper once more. “It can’t be that difficult. You’ve written three dozen songs, if not more. Just put one word in front of the other until you have enough words to fill three minutes or so.”

I drill the tip of the pencil into the paper, but still no words come.

“Goddammit,” I roar, snapping the pencil in my fist and throwing the pieces to the ground. “Dammit, dammit, dammit.”

A familiar resentment simmers in my chest. If Lincoln wasn’t such a mess, I wouldn’t be in this position. When we signed our first contract with Epic Records a decade ago, Lincoln and I agreed we’d share the responsibility of writing music. How many songs has Lincoln written? Two. Two fucking songs in ten years while I sit here with an ulcer over needing to get a whole album written in the next few weeks.

“Fuck you, Lincoln, and fuck me, too,” I mutter, heaving myself off the couch and heading to my kitchen to grab another beer.

How’s this for the wild Friday night in a rock star’s life? Drinking beer and berating myself in my deathly quiet penthouse.

I wander over to the window that takes up the entire east wall. City lights twinkle like stars all around, but when I tilt my head to see the actual stars, there’s nothing but hazy light polluting the sky.

I lift the bottle of beer to my lips and gulp down half of it in one go. None of this was how it was supposed to be. When we started this band, we were nothing more than best friends sharing a love of music. When we were signed by Epic, we were all so sure this was going to change our lives. We weren’t wrong. A decade later we have seven albums, three of which went platinum, we’re a household name, our songs—my songs—are on every radio station. We’re living the dream. So why does it feel so empty?

I rest my palm against the frigid glass of the window and wonder for the millionth time what the point of all this is.

The shrill sound of my phone ringing makes me jump. I reach into my pocket and see Archer’s name on the screen. There’s only one reason our band manager would be calling me after midnight on a random Friday.

“Is he okay?” I ask as soon as I answer. My voice sounds flat to my own ears, and I wonder if Archer notices it. I feel wrung out physically and emotionally. I’m a battery with only ten percent life left and no charger in sight.

“He’s in the hospital,” Archer replies, sounding just as exhausted as I am.

“How bad is it?”

“Not sure yet. They’re pumping his stomach. It looks like he drank a liter of whiskey. I found him asleep on his balcony, damn near frozen.”

“On his balcony?” I put my hand back on the freezing glass and shiver. “It’s like twelve degrees outside.”

“Yeah,” Archer agrees.

“What do you need me to do?”

“Nothing tonight. I just wanted to let you know, and I was hoping I could swing by to talk after he’s out of the hospital. Maybe tomorrow evening?”

“Yeah, any time,” I agree. “Do you want me to call Benji and Jude?”

“It’s okay; I need something to do to distract myself while I wait. Thanks though.”

“No problem. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I hang up and gulp down the rest of my beer. Sometimes it feels like these aren’t the lives we were meant to live. We all got off track somewhere. I can pinpoint exactly where my life split into a before and after. I’ve written a dozen songs about him. I’ve stayed up nights thinking about him. I’ve gotten drunk and cried over him. I hardly know him, but in nine years, I haven’t been able to shake him. What I wouldn’t give to go back and do something differently. Maybe I’d never leave him. Maybe I’d beg him to come with me. I don’t know what I’d do, but it wouldn’t be this.

I toss the empty bottle in the recycling and amble to my bedroom, stripping out of my clothes as I go. Maybe I’ll dream some damn lyrics and save my own ass. More likely I’ll dream of him.

I'm an author of m/m and new adult romance. I have a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Men of the Cross by Charlene Newcomb

Title: Men of the Cross
Author: Charlene Newcomb
Buy at Amazon
Genre: Historical with romance elements
Series: Battle Scars #1
Length: 355 pages

Two young knights’ journey to war at Richard the Lionheart’s side sweeps them from England to the Holy Land in this historical adventure set against the backdrop of the Third Crusade.

Henry de Grey leaves Southampton in high spirits, strong in his faith and passionate about the mission to take Jerusalem back from Saladin’s army. Stephan l’Aigle’s prowess on the battlefield is well known, as are his exploits in the arms of other men. He prizes duty, honour and loyalty to his king above all else. But God and the Church? Stephan has little use for either.

Henry’s convictions are challenged by loss and the harsh realities of bloody battles, unforgiving marches, and the politics of the day. Man against man. Man against the elements. Man against his own heart. Survival will depend on more than a strong sword arm.

**

What a big, sweeping historical drama! Make no mistake, the Crusades and politics are primary in this book. The timing of the campaign drives the pacing of the story.

The reality of the Crusades must have hit the Crusaders very much like this book hits the reader: This is not what I signed up for, where is God in this endeavor, and why am I shooting at people who aren’t Saracens? It’s the ugly side of an idealistic war.

Against this gritty campaign, we have Henry de Grey, who has God in his heart and believes in the sanctity of what they’re doing, and Stephan l’Aigle, more focused on the practical and political. Becoming lovers works at Henry’s mind, he worries about betraying the greater cause, and Stephen’s more cavalier attitude bothers him. Yet they become partners in bed and on the field.

Richard the Lionheart and his traveling queen Berengaria are here, as are the future Robin Hood and a couple of not-quite-so-merry-and not-yet men. What I loved is that they’re secondary characters in someone else’s story. They add depth and familiarity, not steal the show.

If I wanted total accuracy in all historical details, I’d read non-fiction. Not being a scholar of this period, I’m willing to accept what the author tells me because it’s consistent and it feels right. Maybe that’s truthy rather than truth, but the storytelling carries it. Even if ex-urchins become confidantes of a queen. It’s set up in a way that works, and it kept me reading.

The greater story arc has two more books to carry through, so I was prepared for both the relationship and the war not to resolve by the end of the book, but that’s fine. I’m ready to be transported back to the twelfth century again. 4 marbles

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Catch Me by Beth Bolden, review and excerpt



Catch Me RDB Banner

CATCH ME
KITCHEN GODS, BOOK 2
BETH BOLDEN
M/M ROMANCE
RELEASE DATE: 06.10.18
Catch Me Cover
COVER DESIGN: AngstyG
BLURB
Chef Wyatt Blake is finally ready to move on from his thankless job. He gets no wiggle room, zero praise, plenty of abuse, and on a good day, he might only spend twelve hours in the Terroir kitchens. A friend of his recommends a private chef position, but despite the boost in pay, Wyatt doesn’t want to babysit some spoiled, rich LA family.

Imagine his shock when the family isn't a Kardashian clone, but Ryan Flores, the only professional baseball player to ever come out of the closet.

Ryan is also at a career crossroads. His team’s management wants to see his more responsible side, which means no more late night hookups and no more adrenaline-charged stunts. When his agent suggests he find a fake boyfriend to give him an air of domesticity, he’s only reluctantly interested.
Until Ryan goes to a local bar and spies the cute private chef he’s supposed to be interviewing the next day. Maybe a quieter life wouldn’t be so bad, as long as Wyatt is part of it?

Wyatt believes Ryan could be more than just a crappy boss, but he isn't sure about leaving the kitchen for the life of a professional boyfriend. Especially when he wants the reality so much more than the fantasy.

Cryselle's Review:

What a wild emotional ride!  Here are two guys who have a professional relationship and a personal one, but just can't get on the same page. Ryan's struggling with the whole "act like a settled, mature man who just happens to be gay so that the decision makers will like you" plan that his agent cooks up. Maybe it's a good move for his career. His heart has issues with it, in every single way.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Ready to punch somebody

Don't you dare, don't any of you dare, to offer me friendship or following or whatever with piracy. I've had  four of those this week alone.

If you show me a pirate site and say hubba hubba come steal the author's work, all I can say to you is FUCK YOURSELF WITH A TABASCO SOAKED CACTUS! IN WHATEVER HOLE IS TIGHTEST!

Authors work hard to tell a story and entertain us. If all you can think of is how to steal that, you are nobody I want to know.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Every picture tells a story...



Who are these two and what's the story here?

100-1000 words, and I tell everyone about one of your books to boot. Directions here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Face the Music by K.M. Neuhold

FtM coming live banner

FACE THE MUSIC
K.M. NEUHOLD
M/M ROMANCE
RELEASE DATE: 05.20.18
FTM cover

Lincoln

I thought there was only one thing I needed to make me happy. I was so sure becoming a rock star would heal the dark corners inside me. But every time I walk onto the stage, with a roaring crowd screaming my name, all I can think about is the boy I left behind. All I want to do is rewind and make a different choice.

Jace
I thought I hated Lincoln when he ghosted me ten years ago and destroyed my heart. I thought I hated him when he wrote a chart-topping hit about our idyllic young love. But I’ve never hated him as much as I do right now, standing in front of me like he has every right to be in my world again. He’s not the rock god I thought he was...he’s still that same lost boy I used to love. Can I ever trust him with my heart again?

***
Face the Music is the first book in the Replay series. Each book in the series will focus on a different band member getting a second chance at love. Each book can be read as a stand-alone. This book contains descriptions of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and sexy times.

FtM teaser 7

Excerpt:

The icy wind bites at my skin, but another swig of whiskey helps to chase the chill away. The air smells like snow. I do a mental calculation and realize it’s only two weeks until Christmas.

When I was a kid, I loved Christmas. This time of year felt so magical and joyful. The smell of cookies baking in the oven, the twinkling lights of the tree, making a wish list of presents you hope Santa will bring.

Another gulp from the bottle clenched in my numb fist. It stopped burning on the way down about a half hour ago, right around the time the far-off city lights started to blur.

There’s no magic now. My kitchen is empty of anyone baking any sort of treats. I can’t remember the last time I bothered to get a tree. They’re not much fun to decorate all on your own. Plus, what’s the point if no one else will be there to enjoy it with you? As for a wish list...there’s only one thing I’d put on that list and it’s something—someone—I had and tossed away too many years ago.

My legs are unsteady under me as I walk to the edge of my balcony to look down at the street below.

Certainly the fall would kill me. But who would care?

I can see the headline now…Rock star Jumps to Death from New York City Apartment.

But would they really care?

My bandmates might’ve cared a few years ago, before everything started falling apart, before we were at each other’s throats constantly.

If only I’d known the name of our band—Downward Spiral— would be so apt when we chose it. Maybe it was a bad omen, or a jinx. Maybe we were just cocky little pricks who were on top of the world and didn’t think anything could ever knock us off.

I wobble as I lean farther over the railing, testing the sturdiness.

I won’t really jump. That’s what I tell myself. That’s what I always tell myself when I get into these dark moods.

I try to lift the bottle to my lips again, but it slips through my fingers. I watch as it plummets downward and then shatters on the sidewalk below.

I teeter again against the railing before taking a step back and reaching into my pocket for a cigarette. I don’t even normally smoke, just when I’m drunk and sad.

I can only imagine what Jace would say if he could see me now.

KM Neuhold Logo
I'm an author of m/m and new adult romance. I have a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well.
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GIVEAWAY


*******************************

Cryselle's Review

If you love angst, you’ve come to the right place. Lincoln and Jace have ten years of hurting and broken trust to work through. Thanks to a chance meeting, they have the opportunity to ask questions and address pain that’s festered since the day Lincoln disappeared ten years ago.

The story follows two timelines, the here and now, which is downright painful in places, and the unfolding of their youthful relationship. We get to watch them fall in love, learn about themselves, each other, and help one another. Lincoln’s dreadful parents have a lot to answer for: Jace is his stability in their early days. The current storyline makes a harsh contrast, where Linc is the living embodiment of his band’s name: Downward Spiral.

Pay attention to the warnings in the blurb: Linc ends up in some real bad headspaces, and it’s a lot to ask of Jace that he be so responsible for someone else’s wellbeing when he hadn’t the slightest clue of what’s going on. If you want 100% light and fluffy, this is the wrong book. Linc’s very real problems aren’t unrelenting though, the sweetness of the past alternates with the difficulties of the present, keeping the seriousness from being overwhelming.

This is mostly Linc’s journey, he’s more complicated than Jace, whose big question is Why? There is no external plot to speak of here, it’s all the two main characters sorting out their messes, with some cameos from other members of the band, plus a manager who can wrangle unstable musicians and produce miracles from his back pocket. We’re promised more stories for them, which should be angsty too, these guys have issues.

Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster for this second chance Rockstar romance.



Thursday, May 17, 2018

Every picture tells a story...


Is he running to something, or away? Who? Why? Where?

 100-1000 words, and I tell everyone about one of your books to boot. Directions here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Small rant


I read a fair number of ARC copies. Some are from big publishers that I don't talk about here, some from authors and small publishers who put different amounts of effort into the ARC.

With some books I wonder if I've been handed a formatted first draft. Usually I can determine where in the publishing cycle the book is, and if I know it's going to get more love later, I don't mind the rough edges. Other times, the book is just perfect and ready to sell.

And then I get what I think is the final product with a disclaimer that all is not quite finished. Complete with missing punctuation and weird formatting, but it says ARC, so I'm not suppose to take official notice of that. Then I feel like I've been played for a fool,  because I don't talk about the mess and the mess gets offered for sale, and then my standards look low. They're not.

Cryssy Crankypants  here has dropped entire publishers for making me look at such messes and tricking me into pretending they aren't messes. I have turned down review requests from indies because I've looked at the files before deciding. I've also fallen down the rabbit hole of having to read the whole book RIGHT NOW because it's pretty to look at and the story is just that good, and then I've told the author, um, sure, I'll review. It would be nice if that one happened more often.

Yes, an ARC means I get to read a book that I don't have to pay for. But I really do, because not only does that book get hours of my attention, it need some thought and effort for writing a review. That makes a free book more expensive than if I paid top dollar for it.

Remember how you get one chance to make a first impression? That's what an ARC does. The big pub ARCs I get are ready to go except for the pretty cover. Because they understand that first impression thing. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A picture is worth a thousand words....


Remember Thousand Word Thursday? I give you a pic and whoever feels the urge can send me a ficlet or an except to post. 100-1000 words, and I tell everyone about one of your books to boot. Directions here.

Do these guys have a story?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Aunt Belle's Time Travel and Collectibles by Marshall Thorton

Title: Aunt Belle’s Time Travel and Collectibles
Author: Marshall Thornton
Genre: humor, time travel
Cover artist: Marshall Thornton
Length: 126 pages

Where would you go if you could travel to any part of your past? That’s the question Terrance faces on his 45th birthday—and right away, he knows. He wants to go back to 1992 and not meet Mr. Wrong. But what begins as a journey to change the past becomes a trip to find the future. From the writer of Femme comes a story of best friends, time travel and falling in love.

**

This is a sweet and humorous tale of second chances. Because of the rules governing time travel here, Terrence has a chance to go back in time and do things differently. Except—somehow it doesn’t work out the way he expected.

Because how can things stay changed if not everyone remembers they got changed to start with? And why is Sean mad at him this time?

The baked in rules generate a comedy of errors tinged with sadness: Terrence has a lot of chances to explore exactly how things got fouled up to start with, and it’s only when everyone’s playing in the same timeline can things work out. Smiles for happy ending!

One thing I really enjoyed was that the characters aren’t young and trying everything for the first time (at least part of the time.) Terrence has some miles and mistakes on him, and strives to be a better man. His mistakes mostly come from well-meaning gone awry, and you have to love him for trying again and again until he gets it right.




Saturday, May 5, 2018

Balls by Chris Edwards

Title: Balls: It Takes Some to Get Some
Author: Chris Edwards
Cover artist: Deutsch
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Length: 265 pages

Changing your gender from female to male takes balls. And if you’re going to do it in front of five hundred coworkers at the largest ad agency in Boston, you’d better have a pretty big set!

At a time when the term transgender didn’t exist, and with support from family, friends, and a great therapist, Chris Edwards endured 28 surgeries to become the person he always knew he was meant to be. He used the principles of marketing along with his ever-present sense of humor to rebrand himself and orchestrate what was quite possibly the most widely accepted and embraced gender transition of its kind. He’s a pioneer who changed the perception of an entire community, and his memoir, BALLS, will touch readers’ hearts and change quite a few minds.

Edwards is funny, brazen, and endearing, and BALLS is a hilarious and inspiring story about family, friends, and the courage to be your true self. It boldly and fearlessly goes where other trans memoirs don’t. If you’ve ever felt uncomfortable in your own skin–for whatever reason–you will be inspired and empowered by this book.

A portion of the proceeds of BALLS will be donated to Camp Aranu’tiq (camparanutiq.org), a nonprofit program serving transgender youth and their families.

**
I don’t usually review nonfiction, but this memoir touched me deeply. There is a T in LGBT, and I don’t always read it. I’m glad I did though.

Chris Edwards has a fabulous writing voice, and a light touch with what had to have been anything but funny at the time. From describing himself as a boy while still in preschool, to enduring all the medical procedures to make his exterior match, this is a detailed look at a transition.

Chris had a kind and supportive family and friends for the most part, and for that, I am extremely glad. None of this journey could be easy, but he’s very clear how supported he was. Every *trans person deserves this, and maybe a few people will read this book and be there better for their person in transition. This is how love does, world.

The story never flinches away from the medical parts, even some of the gruesome misadventures. Try not to be eating during some of it, even though it’s described humorously. Chris spent decades in marketing, and knows how to sell even the difficult aspects as “just what you need to do to be you.”

This is a journey of an amazing person. I think it should be required reading for family of transgender people, because the memoir is extremely relatable and may be helpful for when the person in transition doesn’t have the words. 5 marbles


Thursday, May 3, 2018

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Remember Thousand Word Thursday? I give you a pic and whoever feels the urge can send me a ficlet or an except to post. 100-1000 words, and I tell everyone about one of your books to boot. Directions here.

And in the meantime, let's look at guys washing horses. Who are they?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Lawrence Brown Affair by Cat Sebastian

Title: The Lawrence Browne Affair
Author: Cat Sebastian
Cover artist: N/A
Buy at Amazon
Genre: Historical
Length: 335 pages

An earl hiding from his future . . .

Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.

A swindler haunted by his past . . .

Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?

Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.

***

Oh, two such opposite men attracting! And both, in their way, fish out of water. And it works, it absolutely works.

Lawrence, who is most frequently addressed as Radnor (I have to believe this is correct), suffers from a terrible family history: he wasn’t the son raised to be an earl, most of his immediate family were either crazy or just horrible people, and he suffers from what seems to be debilitating anxiety. Mental health knowledge of the time being of the “chain them to the wall and squirt cold water at them” level, Lawrence treats himself as best he can by minimizing contact with the outside world. He’s enjoying the relative quiet of very few servants left, and if the family seat is crumbling around him, the quiet is worth it. He's constantly afraid that he'll tip over the edge and be lost to sanity forever. If ever someone needed a Xanax, it's Lawrence.

He’s a brilliant man though, and kind in a rough way, to the point where he does have friends who care enough about him to keep the grasping relatives away. Being known as completely mad and in control of great wealth brings the vultures, and the trick is to get Lawrence to agree to things that are in his best interest.

A completely honest secretary would be a good start. Which isn’t Georgie. He’s a con man on the run, and the great house of Penkellis with its mad scientist in residence looks like a great way to evade the crime boss he’s running from. Full of goodies, that house is, all ready for him to pad his pockets with, and he didn’t count on growing fond of the lord of the manor.

A conscience is a terrible thing to have in this case, and watching Georgie twist in the wind while debating what to do to save his own skin and still not damage the man who’s captured his heart is sweet reading. Some of his decisions look quite weird – did he really think [that] was going to work? But his heart is in the right place, meaning lost to Lawrence, and he does want to do the right thing, if he could figure out what it is in this dangerous muddle.

These two pick at each other, prod at each other, and gradually fall in love. Neither one has had an outside voice of reason in far too long, and Georgie is able to wield some influence over Lawrence in the matter of a small son, an accidental house party where we get to meet more characters that will star in future books (loved them too!) and finally in becoming a little more involved in the world. Both men see the themselves and each other in the lenses of their own experiences, and readers get to watch them unfold to new ways of thinking, and to puzzle out mysteries large and small. (Okay, I was cheering "Work it, Lawrence!" in one place.)

The history feels really right, and the author doesn’t wish away the realities of the time. People did get hung for sodomy, and that is treated as a real danger, not mentioned and ignored. Even with the restrictions of the times (Regency, Napoleon gets mentioned) they manage to turn the conventions in their favor by the end, and a few of the unconventional things as well.

I enjoyed this book so much that when I went to write a review, I ended up rereading the entire story again. 5 marbles.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Puritan Pirate by Jules Radcliffe

Title: The Puritan Pirate
Author: Jules Radcliffe
Cover artist: Valerie Tibbs
Genre: Historical, pirate
Length: 239 pages
Buy at Amazon, through May 7, 2018, and hopefully again in the future


The Caribbean, 1664

An uptight naval lieutenant. A free-living buccaneer. Enemies from the first.

It all changes the night Quinn reluctantly rescues Lieutenant Peregrine from the consequences of his folly. Their tentative truce leads to a wild tryst and the thrilling discovery that their unconventional desires are perfectly matched.

Perry is the most delightfully submissive lover Quinn has ever had, and he wants Perry by his side for good. But such an affair would not only end Perry’s career, he may never be able to return to England and his family. Fearful of discovering Perry’s desire for respectability is stronger than his love, Quinn leaves him behind in Port Royal.

But in his darkest hour, Quinn discovers that Perry will risk his life for them to be together.

*****

Part of a series regarding a swashbuckling crew of openly gay buccaneers, The Puritan Pirate is my favorite so far. Set during the heyday of raiding the Spanish Main, and while England and Spain were duking it out for naval supremacy in the Caribbean, this story has a lot going on.

Poor Perry! It isn’t enough to be assigned to a pirate ship as punishment by his horrible captain, he has to be hugely attracted to one of the pirates. This was another case of me getting some surprise BDSM, because duh, bought the book because PIRATES and didn’t read the blurb at all. Going to admit to some skimming on these parts, because it’s not my jam, but that Perry wanted to submit made a lot of sense given the rest of his characterization, and he and Quinn were really good together.

I was reading for the adventures, and I wasn’t disappointed. One thing led to another, and then to terrible danger and life or death stakes. I think this was based on a real incident or a couple of incidents mashed together, and it was written to be spine tingling and dancing on the edge of disaster.

There was also a spectacular Fuck you to someone who really needed to be told off. Loved it.

A lot was made of Perry’s religious attitudes, very straightlaced and proper, and how much that was at odds with his sexual self. It made for a very conflicted character. But not a character who would have and use a rosary, that’s Popish. It was a jarring note, in an otherwise wonderful story.

Note, because of Loose Id’s closing soon, this book will only be available until May 7, until the author makes other arrangements for the whole series. I sincerely hope Jules has plans to keep this book and its companions in print, it’s a good read.
4.5 marbles

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A picture is worth...


Remember Thousand Word Thursday? I give you a pic and whoever feels the urge can send me a ficlet or an except to post. 100-1000 words, and I tell everyone about one of your books to boot.

Tell us about this beautiful reader, in  a drabble or a ficlet, 100 to 1000 words. Details here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Blind Man's Wolf by Amelia Faulkner

Title: Blind Man’s Wolf
Author: Amelia Faulkner
Cover artist: Scarlet Cox
Genre: paranormal
Buy at Amazon
Length: 70k est, 239 pages
Formats available: Mobi
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A night-blind vampire. A werewolf with lousy self-confidence. And a whole hell of a lot of danger…

Tooth & Claw, Book 1.

Ellis O’Neill is an art dealer with too many problems: his eyesight has deteriorated to the point of night-blindness; he’s estranged from his family, to whom he owes a considerable sum of money; and his guide dog went right off him the night Ellis died. Without his dog, Ellis is trapped in a life bouncing between home and work, dependent on his personal assistant.

Werewolf Randall Carter has problems of his own. He loves his pack, he really does, but as their Omega he’s always the one to bear the brunt of their rage. It’s a role he can’t avoid, and Randall isn't sure he can take it for much longer, so he buries himself in his day job. Randall’s the best dog trainer in the city, and when he’s offered a client who needs him to work evenings he’d be a fool to turn it down.

Soon Randall is falling for someone he should despise. Everything about the undead is anathema to his kind, but Ellis is exactly the kind of guy Randall would want to ask out on a date – if he were still breathing. Worse, they may not have too long to figure their feelings out. Someone or something is gunning for Ellis and anyone else who gets in the way; they won’t rest until the vampire is destroyed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I loved this take on the vampire and werewolf pairing, because both characters had the weaknesses of their kind, and were having a hard time getting to their strengths. In Amelia Faulkner’s hands, this means storytelling with terrific character arcs, and since it’s book one of a series, I expect it’s going to take a while to get to the kick ass and take names stage. Which is fine: good stuff to read!

Between blindness and being a vampire, Ellis has a lot to contend with. He manages fine with his guide dog, but when the dog becomes erratic, he needs to fix that right away. And Randall has the perfect qualifications for being a good trainer: gentleness, firmness, and being a wolf.

Poor Randall’s stuck in a pack that has some really awful ideas about how to be a pack. Seems they don’t understand being werewolves any more than Ellis understands being a vampire. It made me want someone to take them in hand and teach them manners.

Between figuring out what each the other is, and how to work together while identifying and dealing with the danger to Ellis, these guys have a lot on their plates. I loved how they learned to work with each other’s abilities, and if you ever wondered how a werewolf would do as a guide dog with all that intelligence, here’s how.

Sensory issues are front and center: Ellis isn’t completely blind, but very low vision when conditions are completely right, which isn’t often. He depends on all his other senses, which are well developed and portrayed. The reader isn’t bonked over the head with blindblindblind, but is invited to live in Ellis’s world and depend on other senses. Randall is a creature of scent on four feet.

Dealing with Ellis’s malevolent stalker leaves more problems behind, so I’m off to read more! The author has very thoughtfully priced this book at 99 cents, and it’ll be the best buck you spend all day. 5 marbles

Friday, April 20, 2018

Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters by Angel Martinez

Title: Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters (Book 1 of Offbeat Crimes)
Author: Angel Martinez
Cover artist: Posh Gosh
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Paranormal
Buy at Amazon
Formats available: Mobi, epub
Length: 40k est.


Kyle Monroe, his irritating new partner and their fellow freaks at the 77th Precinct must learn to work together to stop a vicious murderer that might not even be human.

Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange, gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to a precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.

Just as he’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, Kyle’s new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways. If they can learn to work together, they might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I just put the next five books of this series into my “to buy” queue because Kyle and Vikash are just that good together. The next books follow the other members of the 77th Precinct, in charge of paranormal crime, and we get to meet the whole gang in this first story. And what a gang they are! A vampire who needs skim blood, a teleporter who can only hurl fruit, a wolf cursed to be a human sortof, whose partner has a tail and a temper, and more. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A picture is worth...


Remember Thousand Word Thursday? I give you a pic and whoever feels the urge can send me a ficlet or an except to post. 100-1000 words, and I tell everyone about one of your books to boot.

So what's cooking for dinner? Tell us  in  a drabble or a ficlet, 100 to 1000 words. Directions here. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Family Man by Devyn Morgan

Title: Family Man
Author: Devyn Morgan
Cover artist: not mentioned
Genre: contemporary
Buy or borrow (KU) at Amazon
Formats: Mobi, print, audio
Length: 38k est  146 pages


Back in the heartland town he escaped years ago, Van Farley finds the occasional beer and eye candy at the one and only local gay bar, catering to the Stetson set. Everyone’s got eyes for the new man, but Van must keep his head down and not risk his job as a teacher. That’s fine, until hot-and-doesn’t-know-it Jacob Strickland walks in.

Jacob grew up fast, settling down to give his pregnant, teenaged sister some stability. He doesn’t date, dedicating himself to being a suitable father figure for both his sister and his nephew, now old enough to start school.

When Jacob gets dragged out to a local club, a sex-on-legs stranger gives him a night to remember.

One night only. No repeats. They’ll never see each other again.

Until the first day of school.

Family Man is a standalone novella with hot guys, a cute kid, and an HEA.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Devyn Morgan gets it right, he gets it really, really right. Like here.

Part of the fun of Family Man is readers know something the characters don’t know, and we get lots of opportunities to groan and smile and groan again for the near misses and could have beens. Mistaken identity on one side and a whole lot of assumptions on the other make for a couple that can hop in bed once and then have a lot to figure out before they can do it again.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Why all the high ratings?

I don't throw high ratings around like rice at a wedding. I'm actually not doing it here either.  Even if you're seeing a lot of 4 and 4.5 and 5 ratings.

Since I haven't posted about anything in a long time, there's a backlog of good books to talk about. With that much good stuff, not a lot of need to talk about the books I didn't like. If I can't recall what they were about at this point, why bother writing a review?

Once I catch up, back to business as usual. I haven't really lost my marbles, I'm giving them to good books.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Blacksmith Prince from Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus

Title: The Blacksmith Prince
Authors: Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus
Cover artist: Anna Tiferet Sikorska
Genre: Fantasy romance
Buy at Amazon
Length: 260 pages
Formats available: mobi, print, epub

17th century Perigord is a county of sun-drenched villages and dark forests, languid rivers and moonlit lakes. It is a corner of France teeming with spirits, dryads and nymphs, and like everywhere else, witches are burned at the stake.

Born with the second sight, young fisherman Jehan wants nothing but to keep his head down, work hard, and stay out of trouble. Which works well enough until a suspicious string of bad luck befalls the village smith and his wife. Their adoptive son Giraud is everybody’s dashing darling, who behind his sooty smile and swashbuckling manners has buried a painful connection to the supernatural himself. Fearing that some evil is afoot, Giraud turns to the only other man in town who knows about the hidden world around them - Jehan.

Before long, they are embroiled in a quest involving brigands, witches and noble fey, while their friendship and attraction gradually shifts into something deeper. If they manage to survive ancient feuds and everyday prejudice, they might even have a chance to forge a Happily Ever After all of their own...


Lauded with a 2017 Rainbow Book Award for Best Gay Fantasy Romance, ‘The Blacksmith Prince’ is an old-fashioned, swoon-worthy historical fantasy romance about tender love in a time when history and fairy-tales were one and the same.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I expect great characterizations and superb storytelling from the this writing pair, and the Blacksmith Prince was exactly that. Once a book wins a Rainbow Award I don’t know what else I can tell you besides I loved this book. And why.

Sense of place: the story sucks you right back in time. It’s vivid and immersive: but thankfully without the true slog of preindustrial life (with the occasional anachronism). The language makes you believe in the small magics and the large ones: Fey belong here.

“Like the afterimage of a lightning bolt, Jehan now saw antlers over his head in ghostly shapes, leaves on his shoulders and storm in his hair.” 

Sense of character: Jehan has magic and no desire to take on the duties his wisewoman grandmother is about to leave behind. We get to watch his understanding of how he is needed grow, and how he rises to the need. Even in the face of angry foes, he manages to parlay his small but growing skills into triumph, and the occasional punch in the nose.

Giraud too grows in his power and acceptance of power. He's willing to bust heads and take names doing it, even when it wars with his sense of fitting in. 

Sense of story: what started as a small quest becomes a large one, even as the characters grow into themselves.

What started as a lark and a way to enlist Jehan’s help, becomes much more than that for Giraud: you can feel the bond growing between the two young men. They aren’t taking much time for romance: they have grave matters to unravel, and they meet magical creatures along the way, whose help they must have in their quest, or that they must somehow defeat.

The history here is woven into the fantasy, just as boldness is woven into healthy caution, and magic into the everyday. It’s a lovely tale, with the sweetness of love to leaven the adventure.

If you're looking for sexytimes, this is the wrong place to look: it's all adventure and love, and I promise, you won't feel anything is missing. Because nothing is.  5 marbles

Friday, April 13, 2018

A picture is worth...

Remember Thousand Word Thursday? I give you a pic and whoever feels the urge can send me a ficlet or an except to post. 100-1000 words, and I tell everyone about one of your books to boot.

This rebel might have a cause. I'd go for a ride to find out. Directions here.   Yummy!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Syncopation by Anna Zabo

Title: Syncopation
Author: Anna Zabo
Cover Artist: uncredited
Publisher: Carina
Buy at Amazon
Genre: contemporary, rock star
Length: 102k
Formats available: mobi, epub

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What drew me to this rock band story was the history Ray and Zavier had, and wanting to know why things went so badly wrong the first time around and if they could navigate around it.

Well, probably not. Their history wasn’t entirely sexual but musical, and in a way to create a huge gap. And that gap still looms, and might be the biggest reason Zavier wouldn’t stick around. Self-taught and struggling vs classically trained and Juilliard-bound don’t make an easy pairing then, and even if Zavier wants to go slumming in rock and roll for a while, there’d need to be a reason to stay, and for him, love isn’t it.

This book was a fascinating look into a relationship with unexpected dynamics. Aromanticism is an unobvious choice for a book that was, in the end, romantic, but in a way that made perfect sense to Zavier, who was up front about not understanding hearts and flowers and declarations of love. And there’s none of that, but there is putting someone else’s wellbeing essential to one’s own, and isn’t that what love is in the end?

The BDSM part made me think I hadn’t checked the blurb thoroughly enough, because it’s not something I usually read. Even to a non-BDSM aficionado, what went on between Zavier and Ray was caring, and Ray’s surrendering of power and control to gain peace was beautifully done. Take this as highest praise, because most BDSM is automatic back button stuff for me, and if I hadn’t already been so invested in the story and the characters, I would have closed the book.

I’m glad I didn’t though, because Ray and Zavier became stronger together, enough to overcome the outside pressure.

The source of that pressure though—talk about working against one’s own best interests. I will say that Carl’s ultimate motives needed three readings and I still don’t buy it. But he’s a darned good source of day to day stress and antagonism, and the kind of pressure topnotch performers put on themselves only got a hundred times worse with his help. Young, inexperienced, and hungry for success Ray was easy meat for him, to the point of me shouting advice at my Kindle for Ray. (Which he took, but later, and I wanted to hug one of the characters for it.)

This was an excellent reading of what could be a lot of tropes, from second chances to antagonists to lovers, and rock band pressures, with the unusual aspect of aromanticism, and it all worked out. This book deserves to go gold.    4.75 marbles