Slim Chance by Jeff Erno: Exclusive Guest Post, Pre-Release Review and Giveaway


Can a man improve his appearance without losing everything good inside him?

Oliver has always been obese and suffered from a negative body image. He’s tried diets before, failing time after time, but he vows this time will be different. As he begins an exercise program, his confidence increases—and so does his interest in his friend and coworker Benjy. Though they bonded long ago over a love of online gaming, it takes a lot of courage for Oliver to share his new body and be intimate with another man.

A passionate romance blooms, but as Oliver nears his goal, it seems he doesn’t need Benjy—with his chronic anxiety and troubled past—now that he’s made attractive new friends at the gym. But not all relationships are equal, and Oliver realizes that Benjy, who loved and supported him when no one else did, is more than a reminder of his old life.

A pleasing appearance means nothing when it hides a lonely, empty heart, and if Oliver cannot decide what’s truly important, he’ll lose what he cherishes most.

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

 

Thanks so much, TCO, for hosting me on your blog. I’m thrilled to be at it again, promoting another new release, and this time I’m especially excited to share something a little different than any of my other stories. As I’ve hopped around the blogosphere launching this release, I’ve tried to offer unique topics on each of my posts (which isn’t exactly easy when you have ten or more different blogs to write, all about the same book).

So I want to talk about something that relates to my new release, Slim Chance, but that can be applied much more holistically to a lot of my books. I want to discuss two things, actually—empathy and perspective.

In a perfect world where there are only perfect stories with perfect characters, there’s no need for empathy. In such an imaginary place, authors wouldn’t have to hope that readers would view their characters sympathetically. Characters wouldn’t think negative thoughts or do selfish things. They wouldn’t say anything offensive. They wouldn’t belittle themselves or lose their temper with their loved ones. They’d be perfect.

My world isn’t perfect, and neither are my characters, so I do rely upon the empathy of the reader. I hope they are capable of putting themselves into the shoes of this less-than-perfect character. I hope they can get beyond disliking him and set aside their judgment long enough to feel what he’s likely feeling.

If I were to ask what the biggest difference between reading a story in a book and seeing that same story in a movie, what would you think it would be? I think the biggest difference is that in a book we not only see outside the character, but also inside his head and heart. Granted, there is some debate about exactly how much a storyteller should “tell” the reader. If the author belabors the thought process of the characters, it sounds like he/she’s doing way too much explaining and not enough showing. Stories are supposed to be shown more than told, so when a particular event or conversation occurs in the story, ideally you want to show the reader by actions and words how that character is likely feeling.

That’s what they do in movies. Very seldom does a movie have a narrator cutting in to explain how devastated, angry, or upset a character is. You can see it, and as a viewer you’re smart enough to understand. But in literature, there is kind of a fine line. Because unlike movies, a written story is told from a specific point of view. That point of view might be first person, third-person limited, or third person alternating, but in all cases it is told from one perspective at a time. So a lot of the visual cues a viewer might see in a movie—things like body language, blushing, scowling, etc.—are not described in a novel. The author sometimes has to do some “telling.”

And believe me, if an author doesn’t do enough telling, he’ll hear about it from his content editor. “Don’t you think this would have hurt the character’s feelings?” “Perhaps you should discuss how this made him feel.” And when I get those kinds of editorial notes, my knee-jerk reaction is to scream back at my computer monitor and say, “Of course, it hurt his feelings! Of course, he was angry and scared! But the reader can already see this! The reader does not need to be told every single feeling, especially if you want me to SHOW this damn story rather than tell it!”

And a lot of times I literally do shout similar things at my computer monitor. But when I calm down, I go back and do exactly what that content editor has suggested to me.

Usually.

In this book, Slim Chance, I rejected a lot of advice offered to me by my content editors (intentionally plural). They didn’t think Oliver was likable enough. They didn’t think he showed enough empathy. I respectfully disagreed with them, and I’ll go on record as saying that from an m/m romance point of view, they’re probably right. Many readers are not going to fall in love with Oliver.

I did not write Oliver to be a sympathetic character. I wrote him to be real. He’s been abused, ridiculed, mocked, and more or less tortured his entire life. Of course he is cynical. Of course he doesn’t trust people who are nice to him. A million times previously he’s had people say very sweet things to his face and then make fun of him for being a blimp behind his back. Of course he looks in the mirror and feels disgusted by his reflection. He’s a gay man living within a culture where beauty is worshiped.

If you the reader were to immediately fall head over heels in love with Oliver Paxton, I’d say I pretty much failed at portraying an accurate story. Oliver made me uncomfortable, and I wrote him. I wanted to feel that way, though. I wanted to walk a mile in the man’s shoes. But Oliver arcs, and I hope by the end of the story, the reader walks away really liking him, if not loving him like I do.

And that’s why I mentioned perspective. I hope readers will try to understand my perspective…and Oliver’s. And with Oliver, I think I did spend a lot of time in his head. In fact, I actually had to cut out some of the exposition pieces of the story. But what you won’t get is anything from Benjy’s point of view. Benjy is Oliver’s boyfriend. I do plan to talk a little more in my blog posts about Benjy and who he is—why he put up with Oliver as long as he did. I’d have loved to have talked about it more in the book, but this was Oliver’s story and told 100% from Oliver’s point of view.

Of all the stories I’ve written, this has been one of the most meaningful to me personally. I’m thrilled with Dreamspinner Press for giving me the chance to share it, and I’m incredibly thankful to the readers who take a chance on reading it.

Hopefully, you read Jeff’s blog post carefully, because then you will understand what I am about to say about this book.

I did NOT like Oliver…not for a very long time. (I am guessing Jeff will be happy about that!) Let’s face it, he was a jerk. He was a jerk when he was fat, he was a jerk as he was losing weight, and he was a jerk when he got skinny. Although, I will give him a pass on the part where he got skinny, because the man had a complete overhaul in his world and anybody in that situation would not have any clue what is right or wrong in lots of those situations.

But he was just a jerk to Benjy, a man who was faithful, supportive, loving and a fantastic friend, despite all the reasons why he could have told Ollie to take a flying leap. He was positive, helpful and so supportive of what Ollie wanted to do, not necessarily what Benjy wanted. It gave a bit of an impression that Benjy was a pushover, and would let Ollie do whatever he wanted, and hurt Benjy without consequences. Ollie finds out that Benjy isn’t a pushover, but someone who truly just wants to do what he can to be there.

These two men both had huge issues to overcome, and Ollie’s weight was just one of them. His self-esteem was awful (this cover is freaking perfect for what this book touches on), and even as he lost weight, he couldn’t see how he would ever be lovable. Meanwhile, Benjy had such horrible anxiety it was a wonder that he was able to go to work on a daily basis. Neither of these things can be overcome with an HEA, and I love that Jeff did not make that their salvation. Their road to their success was lead by themselves.

This was a very personal book to me. I actually had a hard time reading some of it. I have been overweight most of my life (like Ollie, although not nearly that size), and being female the criticism tends to be much more harsh than it is for me (which Jeff even touches on in the book). Knowing the pain that comes with living in a society that values the size of your waist more than the size of your love, it was hard to see how he would react to hateful things that happened to him. However, it was heartening to read that it doesn’t have to be that way, and it isn’t necessarily because you lose the weight, but that you learn to love yourself.

Thank you Jeff for stepping outside so many comfort zones and creating characters that are flawed inside, because they are seen as flawed outside.

I have to give this book two ratings.

As a reader: 4 pieces of eye candy

As a human being: 5+ pieces of eye candy

Social Media:
website: http://www.jefferno.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jefferno
twitter: https://twitter.com/JeffErno
Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2946208.Jeff_Erno


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This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Chief’s Mess by L.A. Witt: Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt, Review and Giveaway

Anthony Talbot is in Anchor Point to visit family, but after two days of strife, he needs a break. A local gay bar is calling his name.

When Chief Noah Jackson sees that red head stroll into the club, he immediately wants him. They’re perfectly matched, and before long, they’re burning up the sheets. Noah can’t get enough. Anthony can’t stay in Oregon for long, but as soon as he leaves, he’s counting down the days until he can fly back for more. And between his increasingly frequent visits, there’s always phone sex, sexting, webcams . . . anything they can get.

But Noah’s got a carefully crafted façade, and Anthony can’t help noticing the slowly forming cracks. The scent of alcohol in the middle of the day. The extra drinks at dinner. The hint of red in his eyes. Anthony knows what it means. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he’s seen this before, and there’s no denying it. If Noah doesn’t get his downward spiral under control, he’s going to lose both his career and the first man he’s ever really loved.

Amazon

Riptide

Kobo Books

 

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Chief’s Mess, the third book in the Anchor Point series!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Chief’s Mess) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 24th, and winners will be announced on June 25th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

Chief’s Mess Exclusive Excerpt

I could not sit still.

I’d been in baggage claim for a good half an hour already, and Noah’s plane hadn’t even touched down yet. I’d paced and squirmed all over the house forever before I’d left. After all, there could be traffic. Or it might take me a while to find a place to park. Or his flight could come in early.

Yeah, right. There was no traffic. I found a parking space in seconds. And his flight was delayed ten minutes because the world was a giant bag of dicks.

Now we were in that ten-minute window. When, in a parallel universe, Noah was already wheels down and on his way to me. But no, I had to wait a few more minutes. Fuck.

I was so excited I couldn’t see straight. Screwing off on my phone couldn’t hold my attention. There was no one around who looked like they wanted a stranger to strike up a conversation. Nothing to do but wait. Wait. Wait. I didn’t wait well. The more I was looking forward to something—or someone—the less patient I was. The more I needed to do something to occupy my hands, brain, feet. Hell, I’d even checked the restrooms near baggage claim in case one might be suitable to . . . get reacquainted. After all, a lot of the restrooms in this airport doubled as tornado shelters. Seemed like they were sturdy enough to handle a Noah-Anthony reunion.

The thought made me chuckle. I was so tired I was almost slap happy. Not that I’d been awake half the night or anything. Or practically ping-ponging off the walls until I’d finally decided to leave early in case I couldn’t find a place to park. My roommate had laughed at my impatience and all my rationalizing about leaving early. At least he’d probably be gone by the time I came home. Jay was smart like that—if I was this excited about a man I was going to bang, things were going to be loud.

Rocking on my feet to expend some nervous energy, I stared at the screen. It refreshed, and when Delayed turned to Arrived, I almost spontaneously combusted.

Of course the plane still had to taxi, attach to the gate, and wait for God knew what to happen in that interim before someone finally opened the fucking door. And because no one had invented teleportation, Noah had to hoof it off the plane and through the terminal, and the Denver Airport was fucking massive, so it took forever to make that walk.

Six hours later—or maybe like ten minutes; I’d kind of lost track—he appeared, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and looking as fuckable as ever. I couldn’t help grinning like an idiot.

“Hey,” he said when he was in earshot, and held his arms out.

“Hey, you.” I hugged him tight, wishing like hell we could do more than that in public. “So good to see you.”

“You too.”

I took a breath to say something else, but caught the faintly pungent scent of alcohol. I figured he must’ve just had a drink, and ignored it.

At least, until we started toward short-term parking, and his gait wobbled slightly.

What the hell?

“You okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah.” He laughed, adjusting the bag’s strap again, though it seemed pretty well seated on his shoulder.

The scent of alcohol still lingered in my nose. “You’re not . . . drunk, are you?”

“No!” He chuckled. “I had a few on the plane, but I’m good.”

I eyed him dubiously.

“I’m a nervous flyer,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a couple of drinks to calm my nerves.”

“Oh. I guess I can understand that.” I paused. “You should’ve told me. I’m fine with flying, so I could’ve come to Anchor—”

“It’s fine. Like you said, my neighbors don’t get to hog the noise complaints.” He glanced at me and winked.

I hesitated but then chuckled. “Fair enough. To the car?”

“Lead the way.”

Aside from that slight wobble, his gait was perfectly steady. So maybe I’d imagined the whole thing, or my brain was exaggerating it. I didn’t like flying either—I could totally see why someone would drink to bring down the anxiety. Thanks to Clint, though, I automatically assumed any drinking was a red flag, especially once someone showed signs of actual intoxication.

Get a grip. He was nervous about flying. You’re projecting, plain and simple.

So, I put it out of my mind, and we continued toward short-term parking.

Noah hadn’t brought much with him, so he didn’t bother putting it in the trunk, and set it at his feet as he dropped into the passenger seat and exhaled. “God, I am so glad to be off that plane.”

“Rough flight?” I buckled my seat belt. “Or just not a fan?”

“Little of both. We hit some turbulence, and that was about the time I started begging for a drink.”

“Eh, can’t blame you.”

He fussed with some papers for a second—his boarding passes, I thought—and stuffed them into his bag. As he leaned back, he said, “Also doesn’t help that one time when I flew into a base on a cargo jet, I swear our pilot was a fighter pilot before.”

“Oh yeah? Why’s that?”

“Fucker was banking like he was in a Super Hornet.” He made a gesture like his hand was a plane taking a sharp curve, the imaginary wings almost vertical. “Dude was crazy.”

“Wow.” I laughed. “I don’t think I’d enjoy that.”

“I sure as hell didn’t.” He shuddered. “When you’re already kind of nervous about being in the air, that shit is obnoxious.”

“I believe it.”

He looked out at the scenery. Not that there was much, considering the Denver Airport was surrounded by basically nothing. “They really built this place in the middle of nowhere, didn’t they?”

“Well yeah,” I deadpanned. “You don’t build the headquarters for the New World Order in downtown Los Angeles.”

He eyed me. “Come again?”

“Oh come on. You’ve never heard the conspiracy theories about the Denver Airport?”

“I have, but do people actually buy in to that shit?”

I nodded. “They do. My ex-wife’s brother totally thought they—”

Noah did a double take. “Wait, you were married before?”

I glanced at him and smirked. “Yes. The Illuminati built an airport in the middle of nowhere because God knows the center of the New World Order needs to have a Quiznos and a Hudson News, and I was married before.” I sighed dramatically, patting his thigh. “You’ve had quite a few big shocks today, Noah. If you need to take a breather, let me—”

“Shut up.” He laughed and squeezed my hand. Sobering a bit, he said, “But . . . seriously? You were married?

I’ve been a fan of the Anchor Point series since book one. Okay, so if I’m being honest, I love just about anything LA Witt writes, and I love her ability to tell military stories. I’ll fully admit, I went into Chief’s Mess with high expectations. Unfortunately, this one fell a bit short.

From the very first chapter, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Anthony. Yes, I understand why he wasn’t his ex-brother-in-law’s BFF, but he was just a bit too much of a prick for my liking. He did redeem himself a bit, but never quite enough for my liking. He has issues with Noah’s drinking because of what he watched his sister go through in her marriage, but it felt forced. While later in the book there were incidents that’d be red flags to anyone, there were also times when he was creating an issue where there wouldn’t have been on. As an example, at one point, they’re on Skype and Noah has a drink in his hand. ONE drink. After work. In the evening. That, to most people, wouldn’t be a red flag. And if he had an issue with alcohol in any circumstances, his reaction would’ve been warranted, but he didn’t. He only seems to have issues with people he’s dating drinking.

Noah could’ve been an amazing, broken character. Sadly, other than his drinking, there was very little character development. We never learned why he lost himself in the bottle, never had a reason to cheer for him to get better, other than to hold onto some hot sex.

The story wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing, either. It was a lot of sex, which for once didn’t annoy me because that fit the story, but not a lot of plot. I’m not sure what they built their relationship on beyond the chemistry in bed.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Also check out Just Drive and Afraid to Fly, the first two titles in the Anchor Point series!

 

 

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

LA.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).

To celebrate the release of Chief’s Mess, one lucky winner will receive their choice of two eBooks off L. A. Witt’s backlist (excluding Chief’s Mess) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 24, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

The Alpha King by Victoria Sue-Narrated by Joel Leslie: Audiobook Review with Giveaway

The Kingdom of Askara has been torn apart by conflict for centuries, where humans exist as subservient beings to their werewolf masters. Legend says it will only be able to heal itself when an Alpha King and a pure omega are mated and crowned together, but a pure omega hasn’t been born in over a thousand years. Luca is an Alpha-heir eagerly awaiting the choosing ceremony on his 25th birthday and the gifts granted by whichever omega he mates. His small pack is destitute due to the decisions of its ruling council, but being only an Alpha-heir, he has no authority to challenge them. Not until now – this moment he has waited a long time for. Kit grew up as a street-rat, an unlicensed human who would never be more than a slave for whichever master owns him. Then one day he came across a young Alpha-heir, attacked and dying of poison, and found out their fates were suddenly entwined. Luca needs to take over his pack and save his people. He cannot afford to be distracted. But when he meets Kit, he develops abilities indicating he is not just a pack Alpha, but the King his world has needed for a thousand years. Is Kit really the cause of Luca’s newfound power, the true mate he needs? How is it possible when the young man isn’t even a werewolf, and as merely a human, a mating is not only forbidden, but for Kit, a sentence of death?

Amazon

Audible

 

This is a great Alpha/Omega book. The characters and the landscape are described in such detail that you can picture it unfolding right before your eyes.

Kit, a human slave has seen it written in the stars that his mate is a powerful Alpha, however unlikely that may be. Luca, the alpha in question is ready for his choosing ceremony so he can take a mate when he finds the young man who saved his life all those years ago.

Realizing that Kit is his mate and a human leaves Luca reeling. Luca must scramble to understand what is going on and keep Kit safe at all cost. Their world is in turmoil and it is up to the new Alpha King and his human Omega mate to make it a better place for all of them.

The story was amazing. The narration was stellar. Joel Leslie made me feel every emotion the characters were feeling. Every time Luca did something stupid I wanted to punch something. When Kit was devastated, I wanted to cry for him. I haven’t come across too many audiobooks that have made me feel this much.

If you enjoy Alpha/Omega or MPREG stories you can’t go wrong with this one.

5 pieces of eye candy

Victoria Sue is giving away an Audible copy of The Alpha King (US or UK). Just tell us whether you have read mpreg before and what intrigues you about it.

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Unsettled by Zach Jenkins: Quick Review

He’s a cop who looks like a cowboy and I just have to see his gun.

I’ve refused second dates for years because I’m too much of a mess to hope for any relationship to work out. After one wild, impulsive, and let’s face it, pleasantly filling night with James, I’m ready to throw all of that out the window.

Men are for drinking buddies and dirty jokes… and now, so much more.

Evan is the first man I’ve ever slept with. If I get my way, he’ll be the one I’m with forever. I’m not sure how I’ll tell the other guys at the police station, but I’ve got bigger problems to worry about.

Someone is attacking people on The Strip in August, GA, and they are working way too close to the club where Evan is a DJ. I’ve got to catch whoever is responsible so that I can protect Evan, the man who taught me everything about love.

Unsettled is a steamy, standalone, first time with a man, romantic thriller novel with no cliffhangers.

Amazon – Kindle Unlimited

The prequel to the book is out on insta-freebie, if you want to grab it.

Where to start….

Okay, first, the epilogue really confused me… I kinda got it, after a little bit, but I was wondering why and when it would come into relevance. James is a cop, a beat cop, actually… just figuring out that he’s not so straight when he goes to a gay club and see’s Trey…. you’re probably not gonna like him, I didn’t from the very beginning, even though Evan seemed to.

Evan is a DJ at the club who has a not so great run-in with James at first, but knows who he is, because he’s his neighbor. That opens the door for something to happen between them, which seeed to happen at warp speed. Like, one night together, Evan was set on it being a one nighter and then BAM… relationship without even talking about it.

Now, people are dying left and right, people from around the club, meaning gay people, but some how, even being on the force… James seemed really out of the loop about… Seems like he would’ve been better informed, especially being that it’s somewhere he hung out with his boyfriend and they all knew and then at work, they all knew… especially his best friend O’Brien.. who I was mad that I liked in the beginning because from the first time he “chased two perps down the alley” …. that he wasn’t to be trusted either. It all seemed a bit predictable and I hated that it too so long for it to be known… Though I still don’t know what the motives were and I’m aggravated that nothing happened to Trey… nobody even busted him in his mouth for being so mouthy.. we couldn’t at least get that kind of karmic justice? He just kinda disappeared…. I didn’t like that.

Other than that, I really liked Evan and James together. It was cute and corny and I liked the way they were together. I liked the mechanic friends, I wish we would’ve seen more of them… I liked that James’ family was so supportive, though I hated that Evans wasn’t. I’m not sure if I’d ready anymore in this series…. I have a thing about bad guys getting away with being terrible and although one gets caught in this one, nothing is explained and I didn’t get any closure…. sigh….
I also found myself liking Rick, kind of… which also aggravated me lol I hope, if he’s mentioned in other books he gets himself together for his son.
Alls well that ends well for Evan and James though… I was happy about that. Good for them 🙂

Overall, 3 pieces of eye candy from me!

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Patron by C.B. Lewis: Release Day Review with Giveaway

Theodore Wentworth, who possesses little more than a sharp and well-educated mind, is trying to solicit a sponsor for his studies of Greek antiquity by performing recitations at gatherings of collectors. Desperate for luck and better skills in oratory, in jest, he places a coin at the feet of a statue of Hermes. It seems like coincidence when his fortune turns and a gentleman calling himself Alexander becomes his benefactor. Despite his friend John teasing him about it, Theodore continues to offer tokens to Hermes and sinks himself into his study of the classics.

Alexander encourages Theodore’s interest, prompting Theodore to face desires he tried to put aside years before. As Theodore embraces the knowledge, he must also resist his attraction to Alexander—knowing his feelings are a serious crime in Victorian England.

But the secret Alexander keeps will change everything in a love story for the ages, steeped in taboo, temptation, history, and myth.

Title: Patron
Author: C.B. Lewis
Release Date: June 21, 2017
Category: Historical: World, Fantasy: Mythology
Pages: TBD (Novella)

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

 

The second I saw this cover (TCO was fortunate enough to do the cover reveal of this amazing cover) and the blurb, I knew I had to read it. It combined a few of my favorite things. I love Greek and Roman mythology and I also love books based in Victorian England. And it is so clear that C.B. Lewis loves, and researched these things very well, in order to write this novella.

Whether you believe in mythology or not, there is no denying that both of those times still have an impact even in today’s society. Just the other day, I used the word “herculean” to describe something. The world is full of words and phrases from that time period. Especially in the medical field. Achilles tendon anyone? 🙂

This was a very well done blend of old (the mythology) and “new” (the MC’s meet in Victorian England) with some mystery tacked on for additional interest. The stress that Theodore endures personally from realizing he is gay in a period of time that could have resulted in his death was very real. He moves through many stages, until he reaches the stage where he accepts it, and accepts that Alexander wants to be with him. All of this while trying to find a way to continue his education in Greek mythology.

I won’t give away the ending, although you can definitely see it coming. I don’t think it was meant to be a surprise ending, merely one that everyone could be happy with. I liked how it wrapped around Theodore, and his love of antiquities. It made it that much stronger a story.

This one has a good mix of all the things that I love: mythology, Victorian England, romance, and an HEA.

4 pieces of eye candy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

The Palisade by Rosalind Abel: Release Day Review

Confident businessman Joel Rhodes sees the small California town of Lavender Shores as nothing more than a business transaction and a final stepping-stone to the position he’s been working towards his entire life. It was supposed to be nothing more than one night in town to close the deal, and sleeping with one of the local men, no matter how gorgeous, meant nothing more than a few hours of fun. Andrew Kelly is perfectly content with the life he has in his hometown. So much so, that the only thing missing is someone to share it with. Going to bed with a tourist was never meant to be the answer to his dreams, just a beautiful distraction. He could get back to looking for Mr. Right the next day. Both Andrew and Joel’s worlds are turned upside down when a few hours of pleasure gets extended to a couple of days. Even that shouldn’t be a big deal. You can’t fall in love in such a short time, that isn’t how it works. However, if destinies collide, a few short days may be all it takes to find your soul mate. Even so, when secrets and motivations get tangled, destiny may do nothing more than leave two hearts in pieces.

Amazon – Kindle Unlimited

 

I was not prepared for this story… I think it came at a time when I needed the romance of it, the sweetness. It was so incredibly sweet.

Joel needed to go to Lavender Shores to secure some property for his father’s business that he’s trying to get ahead in. When you think of a pompous, egomaniacal, selfish, jerk… that’s Joel’s father. I hated it for him so bad because he seemed like a genuine person. Not in the beginning, he was your typical fly-by-night, workohoic, player type. Nothing was important but his career and getting ahead. That ended when at the bar of the B&B he was staying at, he made eyes with Andrew

Andrew is one of the descendants of the founding families in Lavender Shores. Content with the life he has, he was always hopeful of someone moving to town and giving him his happily ever after, but… it just wasn’t likely to happen. That is, until he makes eyes with Joel. Everything happens in warp speed with them and although, I don’t mind an insta-love story… this one was so much more than that. This was like destiny or fate shoved them together and it’s just the way things were supposed to be. Nothing felt forced or too fast, it all felt amazingly right and romantic. Isn’t that ridiculous? (in the best way)

Of course, I knew what Joel was hiding from Andrew and every time he was forced to change the subject or omit the truth, my heart broke for the inevitable. Because I wanted Andrew to have all that he wished for and I knew how much he loved Joel, even in such a short time; this author’s way of making you believe it, was unreal. I cried for him and hoped for him and it killed when things didn’t work out the way he wanted.

I also felt so sorry for Joel. I couldn’t even imagine and I hated his dad. I wish we’d have gotten to see him put his dad in his place, though we did get the cliffnotes, so it was almost as good.

I loved Andrew’s family, especially his dad. His brothers and best friend though, were also amazing. I can’t say this was low angst, because it was a little bit, only because I was constantly waiting for that other shoe to drop. But, we get our happy ending, and more importantly, so does Andrew and Joel and it’s perfect. Sickeningly sweet and perfect and I loved every second of it. I cannot wait for Gilbert’s story, I just know it’s going to be just as heartbreaking.

5 definitely deserved pieces of eye candy from me on this one.

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Love Wanted by John Inman: Release Day Review with Giveaway

When it rains, it pours. Not only has Larry Walls been evicted from his apartment, but his hours have also been cut at the department store where he works, leaving him facing homelessness.

Meanwhile, Bo Lansing, a total stranger to Larry, toils at a dead-end job as a fry cook while attending night classes to become a certified chef. When the school closes its doors without warning, leaving Bo in the lurch for thousands of dollars in tuition, his dream of becoming a chef is shattered and his financial troubles spiral.

Desperate for a new beginning, each man answers an ad for live-in help posted by a wealthy recluse, and wonder of wonders, they are both hired! Just as their lives begin to improve, a young Kumeyaay Indian named Jimmy Blackstone joins the workforce at the Stanhope mansion.

When Mr. Stanhope’s true reason for hiring the young men is discovered by one of the three, a fourth entity makes its presence known.

Greed.

With all these players vying for position in a game of intrigue orchestrated by one lonely old man and a mischievous ghost, can a simple thing like love ever hope to survive the fray?

Title: Love Wanted
Author: John Inman
Release Date: June 19, 2017
Category: Paranormal: Ghosts/Spirits
Pages: 270

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My goodness…there is so much I want to say about this book, and I can’t, because…SPOILERS!!!!

First things first, I have always loved John Inman’s work (well except for horror, I just can’t read those stories, I’d scare myself 🙂 ), and this one is no exception. No matter the subject matter, he manages to infuse humor into his books. Some are so hilarious I have laughed until I cried. This one had quiet humor, the little things, which went along so well with the theme of this book. A lonely old man who wanted to find a couple who he could have fall in love under his roof, and then…well spoilers, so nope.

The theme also matched one of the MC’s, Larry, so very well. He was a quiet, shy man, prone to blushing and falling for the wrong guy. And he adored the senior occupants of the house, both Roger Stanhope, the owner and (for lack of a better term) puppetmaster and Mrs. Price, Roger and Jeremy’s cook, et. al. His respect for both of them, and the situation that he had been granted was so strong, and carried through in everything he did.

There are secrets in the house, and just when you think you know all the secrets, Mr. Inman decides to flip the script and give you a completely different secret for the house to deal with. Nobody does that better than John Inman. His writing brings out all the joy of life, and the insecurities and challenges that come with being in a house with people who you hadn’t met before. He manages to make you wonder how this will turn out right for everyone, and have the happy ending that he never fails to provide.

One thing I have always enjoyed about Mr. Inman’s books is the diversity of the characters. In this book, you have a redhead, a man with black hair, a Native American, Roger, a 93 year old man, Jeremy, Roger’s lover of 70 years, (you’ll understand when you read it), and a senior woman of retired age. Not your typical cast of characters, and yet, they have the qualities you would expect from the such people.

Lastly, I must say, Mr. Inman may have ruined me. I will never think of Wesson Oil and Rice Krispies the same again. (Again, you have to read it to understand, so no excuses!). The visuals you will get are worth every single penny.

4.5 pieces of eye candy for me


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Aftercare by Tanya Chris: Quick 5* Review

Aayan Denir knows Garrett Hillier was once a high-powered defense attorney, and—thanks to a leaked photograph—he knows Garrett is sexually submissive, which makes him ideally qualified to defend Aayan’s brother from the charge of murdering his sub. Aayan would do anything to protect Syed, even if he doesn’t understand how Syed could hurt someone he loves. He could never hurt Garrett. He only wants to take care of him—love him, serve him, cherish him. And maybe torture him. Just a little.

Garrett probably shouldn’t be dating his client’s brother. Right? And what’s the use in a confirmed sub dating a guy who doesn’t want to be a Dom anyway? The important thing is to get Syed cleared of the discriminatory murder charge he’s facing. Aayan is a distraction. But for the first time in the three lonely years since Garrett’s husband died, he’s feeling hope, ambition, and desire. Can he give up the pain he craves to find the love he needs?

As Syed’s trial date looms, Aayan and Garrett explore what a BDSM relationship means for them, and what they mean to each other.

Amazon – Kindle Unlimited

First, I have to say… I’m not a big fan of D/s… Nothing wrong with it, of course, it’s just not my thing. In saying that, I really, really enjoyed this story!
Aayan’s brother Syed is being accused of murdering his long-time partner, Jamie. Nobody is listening to his plea’s of innocence because he’s also a Dom and Jamie was his sub. To the police and the prosecutor, they only see that Syed hurt his lover, nothing else… I can see where people would see that, but… people form their own opinions that they nothing about… I do it too, so… I could see the reality of it. Meanwhile, Aayan is fighting the attraction he and Garret have to one another, because Garret is also a submissive and Aayan has a problem with that due to his religion and personal morals, I guess. I could also see where he was coming from… Wanting something but not believing it was okay to have.

I loved how Aayan loved Garret and how he wanted to take care of him, even from the beginning. He wanted to be everything to him, because he’d fallen in love with Garret, before he’d even met him. It makes sense….just read it and you’ll see. I’ve seen some reviews call it, creepy. I thought it was romantic LOL maybe I’m creepy, too!

So, in this story, we have Syed maintaining his innocence, because he loved his partner.
Aayan trying to be what Garret needs him to be.
Garret trying to be okay with moving on from the husband he lost from cancer a few years prior and getting back into dating and then being thrust into this intense, lust-filled relationship with Aayan… sigh… there’s a lot going on, but I promise it’s worth it! Once I picked it up, I honestly couldn’t put it down. Really, REALLY good read!

And the ending… for those HEA seekers, like myself… I loved that ending. I’d love to read more about these two, or even a couple of the side characters… Like Syed or the other attorney Dashiell… maybe even together 😛

5 pieces of eye candy from me… 5 well deserved pieces!

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Who We Truly Are by Victoria Sue: EXCLUSIVE Cover Reveal, Excerpt and 2 Giveaways

**We are so excited to bring you the Exclusive Cover Reveal of Who We Truly Are by the amazing Victoria Sue!!!! When you get to read the book next month (release date is 7/14), you will see how much this cover reflects the story. Check out the extended excerpt, and TWO giveaways. Thank you to Victoria Sue for stopping by for some fun with us!

 

Talon’s deadly abilities are spiraling out of control. Desperate to keep Finn safe, Talon struggles to protect the man he loves with all his heart, and not become the greatest risk to Finn’s life.

Finn has no choice but to offer himself as bait for the evil forces kidnapping enhanced children, facing danger he is untrained and unprepared for, and he is having to do it alone.

Does Talon have one last fight in him? Will he slay everyone who wants to destroy Finn and the team, or will he finally discover that to defeat their enemy and the ultimate threat, the biggest battle he has to face is one with himself?

Dreamspinner Press

 

Release Date: July 14, 2017

And until Who We Truly Are comes out, Five Minutes Longer is only $2.99 (begins 6/13)!!!!! So grab it here, now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

An extended excerpt from Who We Truly Are:

“Absolutely no fucking way.” Talon nearly overturned the desk he sat behind in his hurry to get to his feet.

Here we go…. Finn ignored Gael’s and Vance’s smirks at Talon’s reaction to the news Gregory had just delivered, and tried to concentrate, since he’d been too distracted by the real possibility he would starve to death.

“Talon—” Gregory started.

“He’s been here two fucking months—and half of that time, in the damn hospital. He’s just successfully demonstrated the perp would have to be fucking standing still for him to get a shot off—”

Finn closed his eyes and slid down his chair, desperately willing the heat he could feel climbing up his neck not to reach his cheeks. The hospital had been a complete exaggeration. Two weeks in total, tops. Well, okay, twice he’d been in for concussions. And there had been the black eye when Vance got a little enthusiastic on the mats, and then there was the broken nose last week when the perp had swung at him and Finn hadn’t gotten out of the way in time, but he hadn’t been admitted for either of those.

This morning was the first time he’d had to try for a moving target. He practiced at the outside shooting facility they called “the Farm” most days, and he thought he was getting quite good. Then they’d set the fake hostage situation up, expecting Finn to do better, and it had gone worse than the target practice.

Fucking enhanced. They thought they were so damned perfect.

“He’s perfect,” Gregory yelled back at Talon, and Finn started, shocked his boss agreed with him. He wasn’t about to miss any compliments. “He can absolutely pass for seventeen,” Gregory added, and Finn gaped in horror.

Seventeen? What had he missed?

“I-I’m twenty-four,” he stuttered out, wondering how he’d managed to lose the entire thread of the conversation.

“And you’re still the only one on the team who can go undercover in one of the new group homes.”

Finn’s jaw dropped as he stared at his boss. He was going undercover? Like real, honest to God… undercover? Finn’s gaze dropped to the floor, and he breathed out slowly. He didn’t think he would earn any respect by jumping to his feet, fist pumping and shouting his excitement, which he desperately wanted to do. This was his chance to be an active member of the team and earn some respect. He glanced cautiously at Talon, who was still arguing with Gregory.

“You obviously won’t be going to Glynco tomorrow, but I will rearrange that when this op is done,” Gregory continued, ignoring the outburst from Talon.

His team leader—his boyfriend—wasn’t exactly showing a lot of faith in his abilities, and as the only regular human on the team, he had a lot to prove. Finn half smiled at his own words. Regular. An ordinary human being, unlike the rest of his teammates, who were all enhanced. Humans who had changed suddenly around adolescence and got kickass abilities, such as speaking every known language without ever having to learn them like Gael, or setting things on fire just because he thought about it like Eli.

“And there is one obvious problem,” Sawyer piped up.

Oh good, Finn thought. Only one?

“He doesn’t have a mark?” Gregory guessed correctly, and Sawyer shrugged.

Finn stared at Gregory and gave Sawyer grudging points for stating the obvious. The US had originally panicked when the first kids were born with superabilities because, while some of the abilities were quite cool, like the Superman strength Vance had, a lot of them were downright deadly, like Talon’s. The public had calmed down mainly because the enhanced were so easily identifiable. They all had the mark Gregory mentioned, and despite various attempts, none of them could get rid of it.

“We know that marks cannot be covered successfully for more than a matter of minutes, but we can very easily add one.”

“Add one?” Finn blurted out. “I didn’t know that.” He ignored the dark look Talon sent him.

“It’s only something that’s just occurred to us that might be useful,” Gregory admitted.

“Yeah,” drawled Eli, “because who the fuck would want one of these?”

Finn didn’t know what to be more shocked at: that he was getting the chance to contribute, or that the normally silent Eli had spoken.

“We have a makeup artist who has been working with us,” Gregory said, “and Finn is the only one on the team who can do this.”

Finn nodded eagerly. He was desperate for the chance to actually do some work. “What would I be doing?”

“Not a damn thing,” Talon snapped.

“Sit down, Talon, and let me explain,” Gregory huffed out. Talon glowered at Finn as if daring him to reply, and Finn pointedly focused on Agent Gregory. “Let me go back a little. There are still no genetic markers that tell us if kids are likely to transform.”

Finn knew this. If ever an older sibling transformed and the families agreed, the younger ones would be subject to a barrage of tests until after adolescence. There had been a few cases where a younger brother had transformed, but so far there was still no scientific reason for it.

“We actually know very few definites,” Gregory said. “All enhanced children ever born are male, and the incidents are restricted to the US.”

“And there’s never going to be any baby Gaels running around,” Gael interrupted, his scarred face twisting as the skin pulled awkwardly in humor.

“So there are benefits, then.” Vance chuckled as Gael flipped him off, though he smiled at the teasing.

All enhanced were sterile, something the papers had made a meal of about fifteen years ago when the news headlined. Many people thought the knowledge that the enhanced couldn’t reproduce made the rest of the population breathe a little easier because they weren’t suddenly going to be outnumbered.

Gregory had made them go talk at a couple of high schools since they’d become celebrities after Gael saved a judge from being shot. Of all of them, Gael had been the most enthusiastic about going to the schools. It had to hurt that he would never have kids of his own.

Gael had been all over the news because he’d put his life on the line to protect a guy who was vocal in his dislike of the enhanced and thought they were a threat. The papers had loved it and eaten it up. Finn hadn’t been to either school visits, since the first time he had been in the emergency room when Vance nearly flattened him, and the second had been because of his nose.

He winced. Maybe Talon had a point. His timing sucked anyway.

“What about Drew?” Talon asked.

Finn gaped. Drew? Talon thought Drew would do a better job than him? The knowledge settled heavily in his gut.

“Drew would never pass for seventeen,” Gregory argued.

“That’s true, boss,” Vance agreed. Talon glowered. “How many other recruits get sent undercover after being given eight weeks training?”

Gregory sighed. “Do you remember one of the foster kids who disappeared last year—Dale Smith?”

Sawyer frowned. “Yes. We’ve never been able to find any trace. He has an older brother who turned eighteen in December and aged out of the system, but he hasn’t had any contact either.”

Gregory opened a file on his desk and passed around some photographs. Finn paled when he saw what they were. Tattered clothes lay in shreds on top of a skeleton. “The remains of what has been identified as Dale Smith’s body were found last month buried in a shallow grave on the Westside Trail on the Atlanta BeltLine when they were clearing old tracks. We have been unable to identify a cause of death as of yet. This has been brought to our attention finally because yesterday police were called to a boarded-up house in old Port Tampa. The house was empty and showed no sign of being lived in, with the exception of the storeroom. That’s where they found the body of another enhanced.”

“Did we know him?” Talon asked.

Gregory shook his head. “We haven’t been able to identify him. ME says a young adult and showed signs of physical abuse. He was emaciated, and the ME says he was basically starved to death. None of the previously registered occupants of the house are alive.” He paused. “The cops have found signs of access, but the whole place is derelict. This is where we come in and how it may be related to Dale Smith.” Gregory passed another photograph around.

Finn stared at the picture. It was Dale Smith, taken before he developed the mark, likely a school photograph.

“If you remember, Dale Smith was being attacked and beaten by his stepfather when the cops were called. His mom was a crack addict, and the so-called stepfather her pimp. Dale was removed for his own safety, but the car the cops were driving crashed. Both cops were knocked unconscious and Dale ran off. The cops had no memory of anything after leaving the house. No one has been able to locate Dale Smith.”

“And apart from their enhanced status, how are they related?” Gael asked.

“Because the photograph of Dale was found in the storeroom with the other dead male.”

Everyone was silent.

“Our focus right now is on the foster home and the missing kids. The past murders are being investigated separately. I want you to make sure no other kids vanish. You have complete access to any and all information on both victims, and you will be kept up-to-date with any new information.” Finn risked a look at Talon, who had stopped objecting when Gregory passed the photographs around.

“You should know that the powers that be, who wanted the enhanced children taken away from their parents for the parents’ safety, are now talking about removing the kids for their own safety.”

“Very clever,” Gael said sardonically.

“And as of this morning, we have another problem,” Gregory said. “Two more kids have disappeared.”

The room was silent again.

“Where from?” Talon ground out.

Gregory looked pointedly at Finn, and suddenly Finn didn’t need telling. The home. They had disappeared from the foster home. Finn swallowed. It was shit, complete shit. One of the things they were all hoping for was that kids with the mark didn’t get treated like baggage. They were only removed from the parents if the parents couldn’t cope. And that was why they were all here. It wasn’t as simple as just a specialized crime-fighting team. It was all about perception. The school visits were all about hope. Hope that the enhanced kids would be accepted and that they had a future.

Finn remembered Vance telling him about the day he’d woken up with the mark. “And just like that, my life was over.”

Except it wasn’t, and for all the kids, it was up to their team to make sure of that.

 

And now for the Cover Reveal….

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Leave a comment; congratulate Victoria Sue on her cover reveal, let her know what you think about the excerpt, or just say hi and you could win a copy of any of Victoria’s backlist. 🙂

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P.S. I Spook You by S.E. Harmon: Release Day Review with Giveaway

SSA Rain Christiansen used to be the agency’s golden boy. It just takes one moment of weakness, one slight, tiny, itty-bitty paranormal sighting, and all of a sudden he’s the agency’s embarrassment. His boss gives him one last chance to redeem himself—go down to Brickell Bay, play nice with the local police, and leave the ghost sightings behind. Rain is determined to do exactly that, even if it kills him.

Cold-case detective Daniel McKenna’s latest investigation is going nowhere fast. Five years earlier, high school student Amy Greene went missing after leaving her part-time job and was never seen again. Daniel is glad to finally have the FBI help that his department requested, even if it does come in the form of his ex.

It doesn’t help that Rain is pretty sure he’s falling in love with Danny all over again—if he ever stopped. Add to that the frustration of seeing ghosts at every turn while he works a case that’s stalled in its tracks, and Rain is starting to wonder if second chances and happy endings are just for fairy tales.

Title: P.S. I Spook You
Author: S.E. Harmon
Release Date: June 12, 2017
Category: Mystery/Suspense, Paranormal: Ghosts/Spirit
Pages: 256

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

 

I seriously LOVE, LOVE, LOVE S.E. Harmon’s writing. I read Stay With Me the day it published, and just loved Mac’s snarky sense of humor (probably because I “might” have a very similar sense of humor). So, when I saw P.S. I Spook You was coming out, I jumped all over it, and had to force myself to wait a couple weeks to read it. And yes, I loved it.

Poor Rain (his “real” first name is awesome, btw!) is having a tough time, with his seeing ghosts and all, and being sent back home to work on a cold case with his ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile Danny doesn’t exactly welcome Rain back into his bed with open arms, seeing as Rain walked away without a backward glance.

These two men have some serious communication issues. When they don’t want to talk about something, they just use a safeword, and move on. And whatever they were about to talk about ends up in no-mans land, possibly never to be spoken of again. Finding a real trust between them takes a lot of hard work, and some proof that they both wanted to make themselves vulnerable for the other again.

The mystery is well done, and weaves its way through the book, ending in a climax that you didn’t quite see coming, but was likely how many of those types of situations end. Through it all, into the aftermath, Rain keeps his snarky sense of humor (even if it has to be kept inside sometimes).

There were a few pieces that weren’t resolved-including one involving Danny that I would have liked to see how it was dealt with. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story, but I would have liked to see the secondary storyline firmed up.

There were also a couple scenes I would have enjoyed seeing expanded, or even addressed a little further. Rain’s mother making another appearance would have been fantastic. She was amazing.

But the best part is that this book ends with the possibility of either more of Rain and Danny, as a series, or possibly as secondary characters to future stories. I’d love to see that, and seeing more of these two men, and how their relationship develops would be fantastic!

I highlighted so many snarky little comments, that picking just one was nearly impossible. However, when I looked many were in context to the story, and therefore small spoilers. So, here are two of my highlights…they are not related.

“That’s what God made heated seats for, after all. That and keeping takeout warm on the way home.”

“Anything from my mother’s wellness store was guaranteed to be suspicious, and thus, subject to search and seizure.”

4.5 pieces of eye candy


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