Sylvan by Jan Irving

From Dreamspinner:

“Return to small-town Sylvan in Jan Irving’s bestselling series—reimagined and re-edited with an all-new bonus novella. The small Western town of Sylvan is a place for new beginnings for those who won’t settle for anything less than true love. These sweet tales of slow-simmering romance and the old-fashioned values of commitment and pulling together when times get tough prove that sometimes the best matches are also the most unexpected. With the help of a storm, a washed-up Olympic swimmer and a carpenter cracking under the strain of caring for his Alzheimer’s-affected father learn that opposites sometimes really do attract. A likable cowboy called Happy Nate is determined to help a mute boy speak again—and to help his father move beyond the repression of the Mennonite community to find the love he deserves. When a hard-partying cowboy is suddenly saddled with a surprise baby, he’s at his wit’s end. Luckily the local doctor is available to help, and if the two men can find the courage to accept themselves and step into a new life, they might just make a real family. They’ll need to lend each other strength when an unspeakable tragedy strikes—and when it’s time to pick up the pieces.”

Reviewed by A. T. Weaver

The author has combined four novellas in this book about life in the small town of Sylvan. Although the four are tied together by location and some interaction of characters, they are ‘stand-alone’ stories.

I found them to be well-written, and intriguing. Not too erotic. On a scale of one-five, probably three at the most. Each couple has drama and trials before finding their ‘happy ever after’ ending.

If I had one complaint with the series, it would be that the town is not described. All action takes place at outlying places with nothing actually in the town until the last scene of the fourth story.

All in all, a pleasant read.

Rating: 4

 

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Fall In Love with the Boy Next Door (Guest Post by Allison Cassatta)

ThreeLittleWords-COVERHave you ever been there, in that single eye-opening childhood moment when you realize you have a crush on your friend? Or maybe it was the boy who lived down the street? You probably even discovered your sexuality in that moment.

Friends to lovers is a very common trope in romance. Those stories are easy to write. The chemistry is just there. The characters know each other, probably even have each other’s quirks memorized. They never fight because they’re best friends and love just works, puppies and kittens, rainbows and unicorns, and happily ever after. But that’s so unrealistic to me. What’s a meaty romance without some drama?

In Three Little Words, Luke–Matt’s best friend since youth–has never been seen dating or flirting with anyone, ever. His sexuality was always a subject of curiosity, but Matt would never ask. It seemed rude. So Matt kept his little crush on the boy next door a giant secret, and like most childhood crushes, Matt and Luke’s fairy tale ended there. No exploration of feelings. No exploration of bodies. Matt continued into adulthood and fell in love, keeping his best friend by his side through those years. It’s not until Matt gets his heart totally obliterated that he finds out his feelings for his best friend weren’t one-sided. Unfortunately, Luke’s timing is pretty terrible.

I’ll leave you with this fun little scene…

EXCERPT:

Two weeks and more than twenty phone calls later—one telling Brandon he could have the car Matt had bought him—and Matt was no closer to closure than he had been when he’d read that letter from the dresser. The pain remained. The disappointment in himself, in Brandon, in the both of them together, held strong. The anger continued to rage. And Matt began to believe it would never end.

He sat on the kitchen counter with a cold beer in his hand, absently picking at the edge of the label as he stared at a stack of boxes by the bay window of the breakfast nook they’d once loved so much. Zeus curled beneath his feet.

Everything Matt and Brandon had picked out for their house was packed in those boxes, every memory—good or bad—every gift Brandon had given him over the years, carefully cradled in bubble-wrap. Those sad brown boxes were a testament to how horribly off track his life had gone. And to think, he’d planned to ask Brandon to marry him. Who knew things could go so wrong?

“I think I got it all,” Luke said as he leaned against the arched opening leading into the kitchen. He swiped the last dishtowel from the counter beside him and scrubbed his dirty hands

Matt looked up at his best friend of over twenty years and gave him a sad smile. “Thanks, bro.”

“Hey, you did it for me when I moved away to become a fireman. It’s the least I could do.”

That had been about seven years ago, way before Matt met Brandon, back when Matt still wanted to be madly in love with his best friend. Matt never confessed and never would. Hell, he didn’t even know if Luke was gay or straight. Luke never seemed too interested in dating—not a guy or a girl. He’d always focused on sports and working out. He had dreams he chased, and none of them ever included dating. Sexuality was easy not to talk about. Sexuality was nonexistent in their world. Or that’s what Matt always told himself.

Sometimes, on that rare occasion when he thought about growing up with Luke, Matt wondered if Luke ever knew how he felt, if it ever came out in a look or in something he’d said. Luke never asked, and Matt would never dare to talk about it. Not even now, after finding himself unexpectedly available. He’d worked hard to push those feelings aside when it seemed like the two of them would never be anything more than friends. Some subjects didn’t need discussion. Ever.

The sunlight pouring in through the bare bay windows made the tan skin of Luke’s naked muscled chest look almost bronze. It made his blond hair look a rich shade of gold. His blue eyes even seemed to sparkle as he stared right at Matt’s face.

“Dude, you gotta snap out of this. You’re killin’ me,” Luke said.

“Sorry, man. I’m trying. I just—” Matt shook his head as he hopped down from the counter, careful not to step on Zeus. “—can’t believe he did this to me. I mean, fuck, I gave him everything he ever wanted.”

“Yeah, and he’s a damn fool to let someone like you go.”

“Maybe.” Matt shrugged.

“Do you need anything else from me?”

“Nah. Mom hired movers to come pick this shit up and take it to storage. She’s keeping Zeus for me too.”

“I thought your mom didn’t have a yard or anything.”

“Not at the condo she doesn’t, but what else am I going to do with him?”

“Let me take him home. I have a huge yard. Plenty of running space.”

Zeus popped up from the floor as if he knew they were talking about him. Tail wagging like crazy, he brushed his head against Matt’s leg. Matt leaned down and began scratching the spot behind his ear. “You’d do that for me?” Matt asked, still looking down at his furry best friend.

“Hell yeah!”

“Man, I appreciate it. Zeus would be a hell of a lot happier with you. He knows you better than Mom, and you can play with him. She can’t. She’s just too old and not in any shape to be chasing around a puppy.”

“You coming back for him?”

“Probably. When I get settled in… somewhere. I’ll be on Mark’s boat for a little while. We’re taking off out of New England next week. I don’t know what I’m gonna do after that. Might stay up there for a few months, see what happens.”

“A few months with your brother? How are you gonna survive?”

“Who knows?” Matt said with a hint of laughter.

The conversation came to a dead halt. With a sigh, Matt stood, but Zeus didn’t leave his side. He tried not to stare as Luke crossed the length of the galley kitchen. He tried like hell not to watch the flex of his best friend’s muscles as Luke reached in the fridge and grabbed a bottle of beer.

“Hand me one too,” Matt said.

And when Luke rose up from the fridge, he was face-to-face with Matt, and goddammit if Matt didn’t want to pull him into a kiss. No, he wasn’t over Brandon already, but he’d had this thing for Luke for half a lifetime and right now, he just wanted… someone, someone who wouldn’t run out on him and leave him heartbroken. Luke would never do that. Even if he didn’t have the same feelings, he’d never do anything to hurt Matt.

Luke pressed the cold, brown bottle to Matt’s hand. Their eyes locked, and no matter how badly Matt wanted to, he couldn’t force himself to look away. He took a breath and swallowed so hard he could hear the loud sound of his throat muscles tightening.

“You okay?” Luke asked.

“No. I’m not. I’m not okay at all.”

The air surrounding them suddenly became thick and hard to breathe. Something in Luke’s stare changed, though Matt couldn’t really describe it. His eyes softened, darkened even, like maybe he had something he needed to get off his chest too, but maybe he was too afraid. Matt tensed his jaw and narrowed his eyes.

“What?” he asked in a bitter rush, because he couldn’t stand the way Luke stared at him.

“I don’t like seeing you this way, man. It’s freaking me out.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re not this guy, Matt. You’re… fun. You’re lighthearted and always smiling. This shit ain’t you, man.”

“I’m trying. I gotta get out of this place. Everywhere I look, I see him. I don’t want to see him anymore.”

“I know,” Luke said softly as he laid his hand on Matt’s shoulder. The warmth of his palm felt like heaven on Matt’s sweaty skin, even with the heat radiating from his pores. It was the kind of sincere, caring touch Matt needed.

He let out the breath he’d been holding and looked down, catching a glimpse of Luke’s toned chest as he averted his eyes. If he kept looking at Luke, Matt would end up throwing caution to the wind and plant his lips against his best friend’s mouth. He couldn’t do that. He’d already lost one person he cared about. He couldn’t lose another.

A strong, moist hand wrapped around his chin and lifted his head, forcing him to look at Luke again. That dark, weighty feeling returned to Luke’s beautiful blue eyes. His stare made Matt’s heart beat faster, then slower. And before Matt even had a chance to blink, Luke’s lips landed on his.

BLURB:

Is it better to keep some secrets locked away?

Matt thought his life was perfect, but he learns there’s no such thing when the man he planned to marry breaks his heart and leaves him holding the pieces. Needing to escape and lick his wounds, Matt heads to New England to spend time on his brother’s lobster boat. A one-night-stand proves to him that empty sex does nothing to mend old hurt, and neither does running away.

So when Matt’s best friend, Luke, a firefighter, is seriously injured, Matt steps up, even if it means facing bigotry and ignorance. Luke has been hiding his feelings from Matt all their lives, and revealing them after so many years won’t make life easier for either of them. But nothing worth having ever comes easily….

LINKS TO THE BOOK:

AMAZON – http://amzn.to/2azgDfH

DREAMSPINNER – https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/three-little-words-by-allison-cassatta-7378-b

BARNES & NOBLE – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/three-little-words-allison-cassatta/1115091878?ean=2940157063047

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-threelittlewords-2085030-149.html

LINKS TO ME:

WEBSITE – http://www.allisoncassatta.com/

FACEBOOK – http://www.facebook.com/pages/author-allison-cassatta/158938557051

TWITTER – http://twitter.com/#!/allisoncassatta

PINTREST – http://pinterest.com/allisoncassatta GOOGLE+ – http://pinterest.com/allisoncassatta TUMBLR – http://allisoncassatta.tumblr.com/ BLOG – http://allisoncassatta.blogspot.com/

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Some books you need when your life falls apart—Sylvan is that one for me (Guest post by Jan Irving)

Sylvan4I always loved a series I did early in my writing set in Sylvan. Writing about this series was like going back to my small town roots. And I always found myself wishing I could go back, visit with those characters over again. I wished I hadn’t written them so fast because just the writing was like stopping by.

When I’d feel down, there are certain go-to books I return to. And it turns out, it’s the same as a writer, so after many years gap, I returned to Sylvan.

I took this western town series and I added new content, more than 2000 words to each novella. They include Sylvan, the title story, about Mal, a washed out Olympic swimmer and Leif, a carpenter. Mal is the king of hook ups and the fast life, but turns out he’s lost himself on the way. When he returns to Sylvan after crashing and burning, he ends up working for Leif, a man who is weighed down with his father’s memory loss and his role as a caregiver. Can the party boy get real? Can he commit to someone with old fashioned values and a fragile heart?

The second story is Luke, my story of a cowboy who wakes up on wrinkled sheets with a hell of a hangover…and a baby on the bed beside him. Turns out she’s the result of one of Luke’s one-nighters. Now what? He’s has no idea how to take care of a kid. Fortunately he meets Sylvan’s town doctor, caring Morgan Gallagher, who offers Luke a home and a refuge to figure out this father-business. And maybe, if Luke is brave enough, a new love.

In Nate a young cowboy nicknamed Happy helps a mute boy and his father pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, helping them find hope and family.

The all new-story I wrote for the anthology is the gut-wrenching novella called Luke’s Baby, which picks up a few years after Luke.

I did all this writing very rapidly over a period of days. In fact, I remember when I resubmitted it, that Elizabeth at DSP commented she was surprised I did it so fast. Luke’s Baby, I wrote in one day. Almost ten thousand words! But it just poured out of me. And I was in tears for most of that writing. It was just so powerful.

So I hope that if you haven’t read the series before you let yourself in for a treat. If you have, these stories are…well, frankly, better. These are very healing stories. Trust me, I was dealing with my mother’s recent diagnosis of dementia and I was as close to down as ever in my life. I wrote the entire series to help myself find a kind of hope. Luke’s Baby I think I wrote as almost a prelude to a major thing that was to happen in my real life, as my mom passed away shortly after writing it. In fact, I had to change one of the afterwords to reflect she’d passed.

You know that sometimes you just have to go home. You need to do that. Whether it’s a real home, whatever that represents for you, or it’s an imaginary one. When Mom passed, I revisited

many books that gave me solace. And I also worked on the edits of this series, getting to live again somewhere where things work out and love is the ultimate truth.

It’s a good place.

Also, they are a great deal. Four novellas for the price of two! And DSP gave me back the cover that I so loved for Luke. I’m very grateful that readers can now buy them in a beautiful collector’s addition.

Here’s an excerpt from Luke’s Baby:

“Dr. Harris left these for you,” the nurse indicated the green scrubs on the trolley table for Luke and Morgan. Morgan realized then that he was still wearing his surgical scrubs with his daughter’s blood on them and Luke had her blood and her horse’s on his clothes. He’d come straight from the sheriff’s office. “Luke, I’ll stay with her. Go shower quick.” “No.” Luke shook his head, not looking away from Jessie. “Luke…” And Morgan couldn’t believe what he said, but it just fell out, “When she wakes up she can’t see us covered with blood. She’s going to be scared. She won’t be able to move—“ Luke jerked to his feet, stumbled, and grabbed the offered clothes. He walked out like a zombie. Morgan reached out and took Jessie’s hand. “You know he’s not coming back from this, Jessie. You have to stay with us.” Morgan could feel her, as he’d felt other patients, not quite in her body, not quite gone. He knew she’d want to go; her body was broken. Pain waited for her here. But so did two men who would never be the same if she left them.

Here’s the blurb:

Sylvan Collection

Return to small-town Sylvan in Jan Irving’s bestselling series—reimagined and re-edited with an all-new bonus novella.

The small Western town of Sylvan is a place for new beginnings for those who won’t settle for anything less than true love. These sweet tales of slow-simmering romance and the old-fashioned values of commitment and pulling together when times get tough prove that sometimes the best matches are also the most unexpected.

With the help of a storm, a washed-up Olympic swimmer and a carpenter cracking under the strain of caring for his Alzheimer’s-affected father learn that opposites sometimes really do attract.

A likable cowboy called Happy Nate is determined to help a mute boy speak again—and to help his father move beyond the repression of the Mennonite community to find the love he deserves.

When a hard-partying cowboy is suddenly saddled with a surprise baby, he’s at his wit’s end. Luckily the local doctor is available to help, and if the two men can find the courage to accept themselves and step into a new life, they might just make a real family. They’ll need to lend each other strength when an unspeakable tragedy strikes—and when it’s time to pick up the pieces. Find Sylvan here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/sylvan-by-jan-irving-7373-b

Jan Irving has written more than 40 books and novellas, all of them about people finding themselves and love along the way. She recently won an award for best multicultural book. You can find Jan at http://www.janirvingwrites.com and on facebook under Janice Irving.

 

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Call of the Alpha (Blue Moon #3) A.E. Via

 

 

Reviewed by Kiwi

TITLE: Call of the Alpha

SERIES: Blue Moon # 3

PUBLISHER: Via Star Wings

RELEASE DATE: July 30, 2016

EXCERPT: Call didn’t need to phone and announce their arrival. Hawk already knew they were coming. Last time he’d seen his old comrade was at Shot and Fox’s wedding a year ago. They still emailed and called occasionally but they were both immensely enjoying the less complicated life with their partners. It went without saying that if one of them was in need, then they could always count on one another. If they were going to go up against a league of rebel assassins, then he’d need Hawk’s advanced visual capabilities, Pierce’s analytical skills and of course, he needed Viper, a man who’d yet to meet a system that he couldn’t hack.
They had to abandon their car two miles away from Hawk and Pierce’s secured residence since there was no road leading to their elevated home nestled comfortably in the dense woods of Frederick County. The rough terrain was hard enough to trek by foot, only an ATV or bike could make it. As soon as the trees opened up into a large clearing, Call looked up and saw Hawk watching them from his balcony. Even from the distance, Call could see the vibrant hue of colors swirling in Hawk’s eyes. Visions no doubt flashing before him as they approached. Call hoped that Hawk saw them all coming out of this alive.
“That’s him, huh?” Lion said, just loud enough for them to hear. It was an observation, Lion wasn’t expecting an answer. They were still a good hundred yards away. “From everything I heard, I expected more. Bigger.”
“He can read your lips.” Call smirked.
When they were in earshot, Hawk leaned on the rail watching them. A large hawk called out in the sky and swooped over their heads before gliding up into the air gracefully and landing right next to Hawk. He watched his good friend stroke the muscular raptor’s breast before turning and going back inside. By the time they reached the front door, Hawk was there. His dirty-blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail. He wore an oversized pair of sweats and a white t-shirt. Call stood in front of Hawk and embraced him.
“What took you so long?” Hawk asked, a sly smile on his ruggedly handsome face. His buddy didn’t look a day older, despite the few strands of gray in his beard. He still looked like a badass, experienced soldier.
“When did you see us?” Call asked curiously.
“Two months ago.” Hawk turned and went inside. His visions didn’t have a time stamp. Call had learned that from the many years of fighting side-by-side with the man. After all this time, Hawk still blew his mind. Two months ago. He and Alpha had been living peacefully, completely oblivious until a few days ago. But Hawk had this vision of the four of them coming to his doorstep weeks ago. Unbelievable.
Call was almost completely through the vast foyer before he noticed that Alpha, Omega, and Lion were still standing at Hawk’s doorstep. Hawk stopped and turned to face them. “Seriously? Are you assassins or vampires? If your face didn’t meet the reinforced steel of my front door, then the invite in is implied. Get your asses in here.”
Call snorted. Oh how he missed his guys.
Alpha entered first, followed closely by Lion, and then Omega finally entered. Everything they did was done with formality, even the removal of their footwear. It was no shock that Alpha was in front and Omega last. The A and the Z. The beginning and the end.
“Hawk. It just hasn’t been long enough. How have you been?” Omega grinned. “And that petite beauty of yours. Is he doing well these days?”
Hawk spun and faced Omega. The golden flecks in his eyes shimmered so brightly it looked like flames ignited and burned behind his irises.
“Shit. That’s new. When did that start?” Call asked, the awe clear in his voice as he stared intently into Hawk’s eyes while his friend kept his anger directed at Omega.
“Two months ago. When he first saw you coming.” Everyone turned and looked up at the top level of the three-story home. Pierce answered Call’s question while leaning on the solid oak banister. Call had to admit that Pierce and Hawk wore domestic bliss well. Pierce’s skin was smooth and radiant. His eyes, bluer than the Carolina sky, shone adoringly as he watched Hawk on his descent.

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SUMMARY: THIS IS THE THIRD INSTALLMENT IN THIS SERIES BUT CAN BE READ AS A STAND ALONE.  The Story of ALPHA, CALL, OMEGA & LION ALONG WITH A COUPLE OTHER FAVORITES

It’s been a couple years since Commander John Marion – the US Navy’s most decorated SEAL – hung up his dog tags, choosing his cherished Alpha over war.

Call and Alpha have settled comfortably into their carefree lives nestled in the mountains of South Carolina. No more combat for the Commander and no more ordered killings for the deadliest assassin in the world.

However, nothing stays peaceful forever.

When Alpha’s brother Omega comes to their secluded home with a distressing message from their Order, Alpha has to answer the call. But what neither of them expect is for the Order to send them a new assassin, one just as deadly as both of them, to seek their counsel and bring them back Persia.

Lion’s commanding presence was not at all what any of them anticipated. Especially Omega. Lion realizes what Omega is to him right away, but the stubborn man fights his every advance. Lion knows he and Omega have to connect if they’re going to be victorious. He was sent to bring back an army but if he can’t get his cherished to yield to him, they are sure to fail.

Call refuses to let Alpha fight a gang of rebel assassins without him. Omega will fight by his brother’s side, no matter what… and Hawk saw them coming for his help before anyone else. Together they’ll fight the toughest opponents they’ve ever faced. As always… these badass warriors are up for the challenge.
This book ends in an HEA and does not end in a Cliffhanger.
This book contains graphic violence.
REVIEW: This book, just like with all of her other works is simply amazing. I must admit that I didn’t expect to like this book as much as her other works because assassins, cloak and dagger super secret military cat and mouse isn’t really my thing but this author definitely made it appealing.

To start, let me comment on the cover. The colors is what drew my attention to the book initially. The cover art is absolutely lovely, those gorgeous shades of blue along with the font is elegantly masculine. I love how the covers to all of the books in the series are similar. This gives it a cohesive look and sort of notifies the reader that the story will pick up seamlessly where the last own left off. Speaking of which, this book, although part of a series can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend you read the books all the books in sequential order to have a better understanding as to who the characters are. I read this book first and although I admit to being a tad bit lost, it wasn’t overly so. The author did a great job to sort of refresh (introduce in my case) the reader to who/what/when/where from the previous books.

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The characters are strong, tough, resilient, stubborn, dangerous, beautiful yet almost vulnerable in their love for each other. Meaning, Call and Alpha’s love for each other is strong but tender. These men are each other’s Kryptonite.

I absolutely loved how the author was able to have so much and so many different things going on with each character and around them. She had so much going on with them all yet still maintain the plot and storyline while also maintaining focus on the main characters. I was able to keep track of what was going on.

I absolutely love how this author writes her male characters. She doesn’t use flowery lilac colored pretty words to describe these men nor do does she use it in the dialogue. These are soldiers and assassins. These men fight and love hard.

When this author puts those fingers on her keyboard, she knows what in the hell she’s doing, let me tell you. I’ve never been disappointed when reading her work. She is an artist, a master of her craft.

RATING: 🌟🌟AMAZING🌟🌟

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/153531902X/ref=x_gr_mw_bb_sin_a?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_mw_bb_sin_a-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=153531902X&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

AllRomance

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/mobile/details.html?pid=2081538&cat=153

Barnes&Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/blue-moon-iii-call-of-the-alpha-ae-via/1124216899;jsessionid=0A24A1CFE6CCB3FA64117F514CC93235.prodny_store01-atgap08?ean=9781535319027&st=AFF&2sid=Goodreads,%20Inc_2227948_NA&sourceId=AFFGoodreads,%20IncM000004

AUTHOR BIO

A.E. Via is an author in the beautiful gay romance genre and also founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books. Her writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.
When she’s not clicking away at her laptop, she devotes herself to her family—a husband and four children. Adrienne Via has tons of more stories to tell, but she really would like to hear yours. Via Star Wings Books is currently accepting submissions for established and aspiring LGBTQ authors.
Visit my site to learn more! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak on upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.

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Author Official Website: http://authoraevia.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31130999-blue-moon-iii

A.E. Blog: http://authoraevia.com/blogfann.html

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/aeviaauthor

Facebook (Friend me): https://www.facebook.com/authoraevia

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorAEVia

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/A.-E.-Via/e/B00GMNMS4U/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
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Running With the Pack by A.M. Burns and Caitlin Ricci

 

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From Harmony Ink:

When Finn Ryan’s family moves from Austin, Texas, to quiet Woodland Park, Colorado, the summer before his senior year, Finn struggles to adjust. Even the altitude is hard to get used to. But when he meets Ivan Dubovasky at a farmers’ market, all that changes. Finn begins volunteering at Ivan’s family business, High Mountain Wolf and Wild Dog Center, where he forms a bond with both Ivan and the wolves they protect.

Soon Ivan’s best friend, Adrian, who’s asexual, joins their small pack, and the three of them become inseparable, even after Ivan and Finn begin dating—until a bully’s torment of Adrian goes too far. When Adrian disappears, Ivan and Finn will do anything they can to rescue their boyfriend, including relying on a special wolf to bring Adrian home.

Reviewed by A. T. Weaver

I read an article online after finishing this book about how you sometimes don’t finish a novel for various reasons. Had I not been reviewing this book, it would have been one that I put aside after a chapter or two. However, I’m glad I didn’t give up on it.

It starts rather slowly, but then gets better. Drama builds when Adrian disappears and the families of the three boys learn of the bond they have with each other. The families’ acceptance of the bond is to be commended.

Two things bother me about the plot. The rapid turnaround of Channing, and the fact we are to accept that three seventeen-year-olds will spend the rest of their lives together. Of course that may be cynicism on my part as a senior citizen who has seen too many such dreams be dispelled.4

 

Kaje Harper Tracefinder: Changes Guest Post with Excerpt

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Kaje Harper Writes Too Many Series… or maybe not enough.

Someone once asked me, “What’s the most interesting criticism you’ve had, as a published author?” I told her probably the one in the title. It was in a lovely, rambling discussion of my work. The critic praised my writing, bemoaned the wait for follow-up series books, then asked for sequels to half my stand-alone novels and novellas. I think the actual, flattering translation was “Kaje Harper should give up her day job, and maybe sleeping and eating, to write.” It was a wonderful affirmation from someone tangled up in all the lives of the guys I create.

I do sympathize. When I started publishing five years ago, I put out quite a few different M/M novels, in a range of subgenres. Some were always meant to be series books, some were supposed to stand alone… except the guys would not shut up in my head. So I ended up with Mac and Tony in the Life Lessons mystery series getting three shorts, and four novels instead of two, John and Ryan from The Rebuilding Year getting an unplanned sequel three years later, a little coda for Into Deep Waters, because someone said there was nothing left for Daniel and Jacob to do but die of old age. (I growled at that, and immediately wrote the two pages of Can’t Hurt to Believe, because life isn’t over until you’re actually dead… or maybe not even then, if you’re Xan in Nor Iron Bars a Cage…)

Eventually, I found myself juggling those series with Finding Family contemporaries, Hidden Wolves werewolf stories, and now Tracefinder paranormal thrillers. As a result, some sequels have been a longer time coming. (Sorry!)

I do try to write solid Happy-For-Now endings in my books. The idea is that, although there are still dangling threads, and relationship stuff yet to work through, a reader can walk away from one of my series installments with a contented sigh. The two (or three) guys are together, at least for now. No one is in peril. The main thread of the plot has some resolution. The next book is hopefully anticipated, but not urgently needed.

In my most recent series, I may have underestimated what that contented HFN would require for some readers. Tracefinder: Contact begins with Nick as an undercover cop, and Brian as both brother-in-law and useful, reluctant employee of the drug lord who is Nick’s target. They are effectively enemies. Brian also has issues of dyslexia, and trying to hide who he is, which work against them getting together. The romance is a slow, slow burn, as a backdrop to the action story. The book does end with them in a far more positive place, if you look back at where they began. But it clearly wasn’t as solid as some people wanted, for that “sigh” moment as they set it down.

In my series-juggling at the time, I had the next Hidden Wolves book underway, plus Travis, Rick, and brother Sam, waiting to find out how they’ll move on from the events I put them through in The Family We Make. But Nick and Brian, and the readers intrigued by them, began urgently tugging on my mental sleeve. So after finishing the draft of Unsafe Exposure; Hidden Wolves Book 4, I turned back to my Tracefinder series.

I think Tracefinder: Changes will satisfy most readers with the progress Brian and Nick make through the book. Brian addresses the issues that make him a controversial romantic main character, and Nick deals with the fallout from starting a relationship on the wrong side of the law. It was great fun to write their adventures, especially when big brother Damon popped up to wreak havoc halfway through. So for once, I got a second series book out in just six months. I love the fact that readers are already looking for the third (and yes, there will be a Book 3.)

I hope that Tracefinder: Changes will now leave readers with that happy sigh moment, and a breathing space while I write a couple other stories. The Wolves will release in a month. Travis, Rick, and Sam and their Family are calling. But I will be back with more Nick and Brian, probably in early 2017.

…“Kaje Harper writes way too many series. But Full Circle really needs a sequel. And so does Nor Iron Bars…”

I can’t imagine any nicer back-handed compliment.

~~~~ Unknown

For those who have read book 1 – Tracefinder: Contact – or who are just intrigued by the sound of the series, here’s a small, fairly spoiler-free, excerpt from Tracefinder: Changes, Book 2.

Brian urgently wants to use his psychic Finding talent to do good, even though his almost-boyfriend Nick is scared of the risk. When suburban mom Emily Stewart is reported missing by her loving husband and three kids, Brian is willing to expose his ability to the cops, to help Find her. But although Officer Quentin fetches a possession of Emily’s for Brian to track psychically, he is not convinced…

Quentin pulled out a white terrycloth headband from his pocket and held it up. “This is hers. She went running every day. But if we’re going to do this, it’s going to be under my control.”

“You can drive my car,” Nick suggested.

“No.”

“I’ll do it in the cop car,” Brian said.

Nick tugged on Brian to pull him aside. “You don’t have to. He’s hooked on the idea. Say no a few times, and he’ll change his mind. That squad car’s got a dash cam, sound recording. You don’t want to do this.”

“Come on.” Quentin dangled the sweatband. “Let’s either start, or I’ll head back to the real search.”

Nick winced, and sure enough, Brian said, “All right.”

Nick fell in next to Quentin. Under his breath he muttered, “You’re a paranoid fucker, and if anything bad happens because you couldn’t handle one psychic without your toys, I’m coming after you.”

“What? Can’t pull off the fake in a squad car?”

“He’s no fake.”

Brian was waiting impatiently. “Nick, you get in back. I’ll sit up front.”

Quentin popped the locks, walked around, and got in the driver’s seat. Brian scrambled in beside him, and Nick reluctantly got into the back. The safety divider between them meant Brian was out of reach, isolated up there with Quentin. Nick tried not to let that shake him. He leaned forward, close to the bars. “No recording devices, Quentin. Got it?”

“Nothing’s on.”

“Better not be or—” Right, don’t threaten the cop inside the squad car. “Ready, Brian?”

“Give me her band.” Brian held out his hand to Quentin.

Quentin dropped the sweatband onto his palm. “There.” He made his voice all quavery. “Now tell me you see… trees, and… grass, right?”

“He doesn’t do vague images,” Nick said, watching Brian’s face. There’s that inward look, the way his eyes unfocus.

Brian turned the band over in his hands, stretching it, and running his fingers inside it. He suddenly squeezed it in a fist. “This is hers? You’re sure?”

“Yeah.”

Nick leaned closer to the partition. “Quentin, if you’re playing games—”

“I’m not. Don’t have the time for that.”

Brian closed his eyes and pressed the fabric to his forehead. Nick winced, because if you didn’t know how rarely he screwed his face up like that, you might take it for fake-medium behavior. “It’s faint. Maybe she didn’t use this a lot yet.” But his hand eventually rose. “Yeah. That way.”

Quentin turned to Nick. “That way what?”

“Go where he points. Think of it like a compass, or a string with her at the end of it.”

“Really?” Quentin shifted out of park and started driving. For a few minutes, he turned corners, glancing over as Brian’s index finger swung back and forth, always settling to the southwest. After another series of turns, he said, “That’s the direction we found her car.”

“So? It makes sense, right?” Nick braced himself against the sway. The hard back seat was slippery, and echoes of some of his worst teen moments came back to him, sitting here behind the protective screen.

“Easy to fake,” Quentin muttered.

Brian’s eyes stayed closed in concentration, and his raised hand trembled. He whispered, “She’s that way. The mom.”

“Okay.” Quentin hit a faster road.

Suddenly, Brian shrieked, “No!” His voice was ear-splittingly shrill, and the car swerved as Quentin reacted. “No, no, no!” Brian collapsed forward, huddled over, head buried in his arms.

Quentin pulled to the shoulder and stopped. “What the fuck! Don’t do that while I’m driving!”

“She’s dead.” Brian dropped the headband to the floor at his feet and rocked, hands locked in his hair. “It’s gone. She died. She’s dead.”

“Ooh, yeah. Very convincing.” Quentin’s acid tone was more confident than his expression. “Nice save, psychic boy. It’s a decent bet she’s gone by now, and when they find her, eventually, you can be all, like, ‘I knew it. I couldn’t find her because she was dead. I’m so psychic.’ Should I clap now?”

“Shut up!” Nick pressed his hand against the divider. Brian was sobbing, harsh deep cries that gained volume and pitch. Nick turned to get out, but of course he was locked in. “Let me out of here.

He’s not faking it.”

“Sure he’s not.” But Quentin put the car into park and opened Nick’s door.

Nick yanked open the front door and put a hand on Brian’s bowed back. His muscles were rock hard under Nick’s touch, and his whole body shook. Nick patted him awkwardly. “It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not!” The last word rose into panic territory.

Nick met Quentin’s gaze over Brian’s doubled-up form. Quentin’s mouth twisted. “Well, isn’t this exciting? But not helpful.”

“Fuck you.” Nick wanted to punch that smug sneer off his face, except he felt Brian jolt at the harshness of his tone. Brian hated violence. “Money where your mouth is, asshole. I’ll bet you five hundred bucks they find that she died, right about now, right along a line from here to…” He pointed, more or less the direction Brian had. “Out there, somewhere. On this line.”

Quentin glanced that way. “Since that points to her car, sure. Sucker bet.”

“Time of death—” He glanced at the dashboard clock. “—four twenty-three. Money. Mouth.”

Brian sobbed harshly. “Can we just go? I want to go home. My head hurts. Can we please go?”

It wasn’t Bry’s thick, slow voice, but there was a hint around the edges of the way Brian would retreat into Bry under stress. “Sure,” Nick told him. “Quentin will drive us back to the car right now, so we can go home.” He tried to drill his gaze out the back of Quentin’s head. No more harassing Brian.

“Might as well,” Quentin muttered. “Not like this is helping.”

Nick held back his anger. Brian was clearly on the edge of losing it— well, losing it worse— so he kept his tone soft and even. “He can’t Find the dead, just the living. I’m sorry we were too late.” Even that made Brian cry harder. Nick patted his shoulder. “You want to get in the back with me?” Brian shook his head, so Nick closed the door and slid into the back seat. “Turn it around, Quentin.”

The drive back to the café was like nails on a blackboard, each minute raking over Nick’s taut nerves. Brian was clearly holding back as much as he could, but he stayed hunched over and shaking. The occasional wracking sob got past his resistance. Every time, Quentin huffed a breath like he couldn’t wait to dump Brian out on the street. Each delay for a stop sign or traffic light made Nick want to hit something. He clenched his fists until his hands hurt…

~~~~

Unknown tracefinderThe Tracefinder series books are available at

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=tracefinder

All Romance eBooks – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=series&qString=Tracefinder Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/s/url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tracefinder&sprefix=tracefinder%2Caps%2C454

Author bio:

Kaje Harper grew up in Montreal, and spent her teen years writing, filling binders with stories. But as life got busy, the stories began to just live in her head. The characters grew, met, endured, and loved, in any quiet moment, but the stories rarely made it to paper. Her time was taken up by work in psychology, teaching, and a biomedical career, and the fun of raising children.

Eventually the kids became more independent and her husband gave her a computer she didn’t have to share. She started putting words down in print again, just for fun. Hours of fun. Lots of hours of fun. The stories began piling up, and her husband suggested if she was going to spend that much time on the keyboard she ought to try to publish one. MLR Press accepted her first submission, the M/M mystery Life Lessons, which came out in May 2011. Kaje now has many novels and short stories published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year, and a selection of free short stories and novels in a variety of gay romance genres, available at most ebook retailers. She currently lives in Minnesota with a creative teenager, a crazy omnivorous little white dog, and a remarkably patient spouse.

Website: http://kajeharper.wordpress.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KajeHarper Goodreads Author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4769304.Kaje_Harper

Or you can find me moderating my Young Adult LGBT Books group on Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/49526-ya-lgbt-books

Starting Now by S.C. Wynne

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From Riptide:Life hasn’t been good to Francis Murphy. He’s survived twenty-one years of homelessness by hooking and taking handouts where he can find them. When the local shelter is vandalized, he’s forced to seek food at the Grace and Light Church, where he runs into the pastor’s son, Randy.

Life hasn’t been good to Francis Murphy. He’s survived twenty-one years of homelessness by hooking and taking handouts where he can find them. When the local shelter is vandalized, he’s forced to seek food at the Grace and Light Church, where he runs into the pastor’s son, Randy.

Life hasn’t been good to Francis Murphy. He’s survived twenty-one years of homelessness by hooking and taking handouts where he can find them. When the local shelter is vandalized, he’s forced to seek food at the Grace and Light Church, where he runs into the pastor’s son, Randy.

Life hasn’t been good to Francis Murphy. He’s survived twenty-one years of homelessness by hooking and taking handouts where he can find them. When the local shelter is vandalized, he’s forced to seek food at the Grace and Light Church, where he runs into the pastor’s son, Randy.

Randy Wright believes the best in others. He’s immediately drawn to Francis, even though Francis is hardened and wary. When Francis is attacked by one of his johns, Randy and his family take him in and offer him temporary work. Randy always thought he was straight, but something about Francis has him yearning for more than just friendship, and realizing he might be bisexual.

Francis is attracted to Randy too, and Randy and his parents say they’ve always believed in gay rights. But talk is cheap. What are the odds that these Christian parents will remain open-minded when it’s their own son in a relationship with another man?

 

Kimi’s thoughts:

Every now and again a book comes along that speaks to the heart. this is one such book- a bittersweet tale about a young man who is homeless and is selling his body to survive. He gets food where he can, including showing up at places that offer food to customers and event attendees. This leads him to try to mingle at an event run by Grace and Light Church where he doesn’t manage to blend in as well as he hopes. This leads to him becoming a sort of project for the pastor’s family, though they are genuinely fond of him personally.

Just how their deep-seated prejudices they don’t know they have actually run is revealed though when their son Randy, tipped to be his father’s pastoral successor, realizes that he’s bi-sexual and is in fact in love with Francis. The prejudicial attitudes explored here run true, from certain church members’ attitudes towards the homeless in general  to the way sex workers are viewed, as well as the old chestnut about a gay person being able to ‘confuse’ a straight person and make them do things they shouldn’t.  It’s also a story about courage and personal growth, not just Randy’s and Francis’, but that of others who are involved in situations that arise. While gritty, it isn’t a tear you apart read, but one that manages to uplift and shed a light on the darker corners of modern society.

 

Rating: 4.5

kimisig

 

Mountain Murder Mystery by Benjamin Dahlbeck

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From DSP:

The Severn family—Jeff and his wife Phyllis, Lynette and her new fiancé, and single Andy—has gathered at the mountain home of their grandmother, Mary Agnes Severn, to celebrate Thanksgiving and hear an announcement regarding their late grandfather’s will. With news of an escaped convict in the hills, everyone is barely settled in before a huge snowstorm strands them in the large old house with only gas lamps and lanterns to keep the darkness away. Local sheriff Roger Dickerson arrives to check on the family and seek shelter from the storm. Sparks fly between him and Andy as long-held passions bubble just under the surface, but before they can address them, Mary Agnes’s three servants are murdered one by one. Who is the murderer? Is it the escaped convict? Is it someone in the house? Everyone has a motive, and everyone has the means. What’s going on between Andy and Marcus the handyman? What’s going on between Phyllis and Marcus? Is there something going on between Roger and Marcus? It’s (snow)bound to be a wild week of murder, mystery, and mayhem!

 

Kimi’s thoughts:

My first impression was one where I wondered what the heck was going on with the cover. I love covers, and this one annoyed me with the way the faces were covered up in a similar manner to ill-placed price stickers in shops do it. I got over it quickly though as what matters most is the meat of the story, which turned out to be another bit of an odd duck.

It’s very old school, really working the “all gathered together and there’s a killer” trope and is firmly tongue in cheek. Luckily it does it quite well. Fans of Wodehouse may enjoy the double reveal at the end. Now, what didn’t work for me: it was too heavy with dialogue, so much so that this read more like a screenplay. The descriptions also got caught up in minutia. These things should have been pruned back. So, not a serious mystery and not literature for the ages, but for days when you need a light rainy day read, this is a good bet.

 

Rating: 3

Why Cover Art Matters by Bronwyn Heeley

 Hello everyone I’m Bronwyn and I am here today to tell you a little about myself, my art and a promo deal (giveaway) I’m doing through to the end of September

 

I got into cover art because, well, I needed a cover and I had no money. For me, at the time, it was more to have something to have on book I was putting out for free but quickly turned into something I enjoyed and found I was good at.

 

Now, I am of the mind that any cover works, but that isn’t really true. The facts are books are bought by three qualities:

 

  1. Author name
  1. Cover art
  1. Blurb

 

Now most of us aren’t lucky enough to have the first one apply to use. Yes, fingers crossed we’ll get to a point where we can sell a book just on name alone, but until then we have to work double hard at making sure people see us and in order for that to happen we must put out something to catch the eye. And this is when cover art comes into view, because, and I’m not joking, or playing, but when you stumble across a new author the first thing you see is the art. The art gets you to click on the link where you will find out more about the book. But even if there’s a bit of a hesitation you are more likely to buy the book that holds eye appeal over the one that doesn’t.

 

And yes I did say that we judge a book by its cover. It’s true, there isn’t anything we can do about it but make sure what we are presenting our book as is covered in a very pretty wrapping. And you don’t have to take my word for it, just go to Amazon and check out their top listing there are so very pretty cover art littering that list.

HEE0024-Farm Boys

One of the things you need to make sure of, either when buying cover art from someone else, or making it yourself is that you need to make sure you/they get the stock photos from a reputable stock image site, this means that they have the licence to sell the art to you as well as you being able to sell it to others. There are multiple sites out there from expensive to cheaper ones, though each site has the rights to take back their image. Now, you as a customer have the rights to ask your artist where they got their stock art from and if they are legally allowed to own it (they do not have to show you this information, however if you are hesitant enough to ask, then maybe you should think about that before spending your money). They should show you a receipt if the question is asked as you are just as liable for using the art as they are for them selling it to you.

 

I use stock sites because they are generally cheaper then buying art from exclusive photographers. The only down side to not getting it through a photographer is that you aren’t the only ones who can use that image, and they are allowed to use it just as you have. Which means there are a lot of covers out there with the same face on it. It’s just something you have to deal with (and I say this after a few authors or artist bitch about the image being used the same way, though not really).

 

Exclusive photographer or exclusive site are generally more expensive, but it comes with perks that you will be the only one that uses said photo. They aren’t stock photos. They are copyright for you to use only on your art, and come with the same type of terms and conditions as stock sites, mainly that you can’t then sell that photo to make money. Wait, that didn’t come out clearly. I mean to say you can’t take the negative or original art and sell it for more money, you can however make the art, and sell that or sell the book.  But you will be the only one that holds that cover art. That image.

 

At the end of the day though art sells your books, it’s not really a hard thing to understand, the better looking it is the faster your book will sell (okay, not that simple, but it does help). And I hope you’ll look to my art for your next book.

 

I do cover art under BonyDee Design, which is attached to my self-published press. At the moment I am putting up a promo where if you buy any one of my packages you will go in the running to win a free package from me. The comp is running from now to the end of September. Please feel free to browse, to contact me via facebook or email, I will be happy to chat about what you are looking for and if it’s something I have or could in the future.

BronwynHeeley

Website: http://beeheeley.wix.com/bonydeemarketing

Email, please add “Design” in the subject line: beeheeley[@]gmail.com / bonydeemdp[@]gmail.com

Premade cover art/fb*: https://www.facebook.com/groups/985324891583504/

 

Thank you for your time. I do hope to hear from you

 

Bronwyn Heeley

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Unknown*Please note the facebook group is run by two artists, only mine (under the butterfly) are a part of the deal

Branded by Clare London

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From DSP:

Maen is a Gold Warrior, an elite defender of Aza City, respected by his fellow soldiers and favored by his imperious Mistress for services both in and out of the bedchamber. His loyalty and commitment are unwavering until he recruits Dax, a captivating and challenging Bronzeman who, despite his youth and inexperience, seduces Maen with his fierce hero worship. When they’re captured by enemies of the City, Maen risks everything to save Dax: his position, his faith, and even his life. But he loses his lover to the rebels and upon his return to the City is stripped of his rank. In Aza, where a soldier’s only lawful devotion is to the City and his Mistress’s pleasure, the disgraced Maen is placed under the watchful guard of the arrogant Gold Warrior Zander and relegated to preparing a Royal History for the new Queen. But his discoveries cast a new and shocking light on the past and threaten to stir revolution in both citizens and rebels. With the help of the lively and inquisitive scribe Kiel, Maen initiates a chain of events that will change their world forever—and offer him the chance to regain both his honor and his heart’s desire.

 

Kimi’s thoughts:

First off, let me state that while there is a romantic element, this is NOT a romance. It’s essentially a re-release of two of her previous works- The Gold Warrior and Twisted Brand as a single work. It takes place on a colony world, one that was settled by humans so long ago and remained cut off long enough that they have evolved a matriarchal society that is very old world in scope. So while it is sci fi, it is also very much a fantasy. There’s intrigue aplenty as factions chafe under the current regime and struggle for freedom. It should be noted that there are a lot of m/f sex scenes due to the nature of the Mistress and slave societal order, but the romance itself is m/m. Please note it is is not dub-con as Maen enjoys the sex he has with his female mistress and looks forward to it; there’s no bisexual erasure going on here. I quite enjoyed reading as the richly detailed world came to life and Maen discovered the truth of their historical past and how the freedom of the people came to be subverted.

An excellent story and one I’ll no doubt return to read again and again.

 

Rating: 4.5

kimisig