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


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.

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.

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.

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.

Summer Heat by Jay Northcote: Release Day Review

A summer fling is an ideal cure for a broken heart. But when it’s with your best friend, things get complicated.

When Adam is dumped by his boyfriend, a week away at a beach resort seems like a great opportunity to get over his ex. Sun, sea, and no-strings sex will be just the boost he needs to move on with his life.

Adam’s best friend, Finn, agrees to accompany him at short notice. Finn’s had a crush on Adam for years, but is determined to put his feelings aside and be the perfect wingman in Adam’s time of crisis.

A spontaneous threesome with another guy forces Adam and Finn to confront their attraction to each other. Having a holiday fling together wasn’t part of the plan, and as their trip heats up, they soon realise that one night of fun won’t be enough for either of them.

The passion might be scorching, but their hearts and friendship are on the line. If their romance is going to survive the flight home, they have to be honest about what they want.

Length: 47,000 words approx

Amazon

 

This is a fun and sexy beach read!

Almost the entire book takes place while Adam and Finn are on a week long vacation. So while the book wasn’t necessarily short, the time frame of it was. But in that time fame, he brought us a friends to lovers story that was sweet and super sexy and just left you with a smile.

Even though Adam was getting over an unexpected break up, he didn’t wallow. Of course there was the immediate get drunk thing- but who hasn’t done that? And while Adam and Finn could have changed their relationship that night over a bottle of Jack, it takes vacation and an unexpected matchmaker to bring them together.

I really loved the way Finn went from silently pining for his best friend Adam to being a super toppy in control guy in bed. And there is a lot of that. Some of it felt like filler sex- but it wasn’t the same thing over and over again so that was a big plus.

Watching them stumble over their feelings that they were both trying to hide was adorable. I both wanted to yell at them to admit their feelings, but also enjoyed the bit of awkwardness of “where do we go from here”.

No spoiler in that it is a happily ever after- and I thoroughly enjoyed one of the last scenes with Adam and his ex.

4 pieces of eye candy

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

Empathy for a Killer by Sarah Masters: Pre-Release Day Review

Finding a killer isn’t easy, but someone’s got to do it…

Detective Burgess Varley is called out to view a dead body. It isn’t one of the best things about his job—but putting killers away for the rest of their lives? Now that’s one of the best. Problem is, the victim has something in her mouth that has always scared Burgess—something that links him to the killer without him even knowing it. And that link is more than Burgess might be able to handle.

Detective Shaw Carter, Burgess’ partner for several years, loves Burgess in ways he perhaps shouldn’t. Or ways that Burgess won’t accept, anyway. But Shaw isn’t one to back down from a challenge, and as well as being by Burgess’ side on the hunt for a killer, he has his own mission to accomplish—getting Burgess to admit they’re meant for each other. It won’t be easy, but by God, he’s going to give it a try.

With Burgess and the killer learning things about themselves, their lives, and each other that they previously hadn’t known, life—and death—is about to become serious. Murder plagues both of their pasts, committed during their childhoods when they’d been innocent little boys who’d had no idea they would feature so heavily in each other’s later years. When they hadn’t known that their very existence is because of one man—the man they both mourn.

Amazon

Pride Publishing

Kobo Books

 

First, I have to say that I think the publisher mislabeled this book. In addition to “crime and mystery”, “thrillers and suspense” and “gay”, they also have it marked erotic romance, and loaded into Amazon’s Gay Romance category. There is only one sex scene in it (and not really graphic at all) so erotic romance seems out, and although there are romantic elements, and confessions of love in this book, that is not the main theme of this book. However, all that being said, that has nothing to do with the writing of this book.

I don’t normally read books like this, crime, suspense, thrillers, all of those are on my do not read list, but something about this called to me when I saw the blurb, and the cover that made me pause. I wasn’t sure where this book was going to take me, but I know that as usual I was hoping for a happy romance. Well Ms. Masters threw me for a loop!

Burgess and Shaw definitely find love. They honestly have been in love for a long time, it just took a little impetus to get Burgess to admit that he needed Shaw as much as Shaw needed him. You could see their relationship, as detective partners, romantic partners and friends through the small interactions throughout the book. They loved, supported and trusted each other without fail, without question.

The title of the book, Empathy for a Killer, made you believe that you might want to have empathy for this killer, but as a good upstanding citizen, there was no chance that would happen, right? Wrong! You do feel empathy for this killer, as you see his pain and tortured life through his eyes. From his childhood of abuse to how he deals with the voices that begin talking in his head after 16 long years. This reader cried a little for him, and really wanted, almost would have begged, for the ending that I got. It was a perfect way to bring it full circle, and find some peace for a tortured man.

Burgess had such a difficult path to face through this investigation (I will not spoiler this!). He faced choices, hard decisions, and even more challenging was finding that someone you loved was not the person you thought they were. That pedestal can be pretty high, and when someone falls from it, hearts break, pain ensues, and nothing will ever be the same.

Although this type of book would not normally be my first choice of what to read, I really (enjoyed may not be the right word here 🙂 ) was enthralled in the story, and as it became more complex I had a hard time putting it down so I could attempt to do real life things. Well done, Ms. Masters.

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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

Mature Content by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, Excerpt and Review

 

My life plan is to be brutally honest all the way to the bank. Don’t believe me? I run a popular YouTube channel called TrashyZane, and my claim to fame is oversharing about every aspect of my personal life. Sometimes while tipsy. Not everyone loves my style, but I have a long history of icing out people who can’t handle me. I have no time for judgmental foolishness.

Except, apparently, when it comes to Beau Starr. His channel is the polar opposite of mine, and so is he. Wholesome, inspirational, and clean-cut. Everything about him should turn me off, but when we hook up following a confrontation at a convention, my world flips upside down. Not only does Beau Starr turn me on, he uses the exact combination of dirty talk and roughness needed to turn me out.

But we still hate each other. I think.

Mature Content

By Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Cyberlove Series

Book 4

Amazon  | BN | kobo | iBooks | Indigo | Angus & Robertson Book World | Mandadori Store

“You want to talk now that Ian is gone?” Jesse asked knowingly.

I flicked the seam of my pillow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re being weird, and I’m not sure if it’s because of Zane or something else.”

“It’s not because of Zane. Well, some of it is, I guess.”

“Ah.” He grinned. “Does that mean there is a thing with Zane?”

I stood up and ran my hands through my hair, which had a life of its own due to the amount of grease in it. “Fine, yes. Okay? We fucked at NerdCon. It was amazing, but we still hate each other, so it’s not happening again.”

Jesse’s eyes were huge. “I’m…not sure what to say right now?”

I wasn’t either. All our lives, I’d been the bossy one, the leader, and Jesse had been the follower. I was the ambitious one, the person with answers and advice. And now the shoe was on the other foot. Jesse had a career and a happy life, and I was a goddamn mess. But maybe I’d always been a mess. I was just excellent at covering it up with a smile.

A lot of people ask us about our co-writing process in terms of big picture stuff–plotting, who writes which characters, how do we decide who writes which scene. So, when Two Chicks Obsessed asked us to write about our process, we decided to take it down to the nitty gritty. A day in the life of Megtino. As well as a glimpse at the future of the series.

Megan: I usually wake up every day to a message on gchat from Santino that says “Blah.”

Santino: No, sometimes I say “I hate today” or “Why do I have to have a job?”

Megan: Okay, you’re right you mix it up sometimes, haha. But that’s how our co-writing day starts! That’s our morning greeting. Gchat is our main method of communication because it’s easy and the app works. Usually Santino writes at night, and I write during the day. So every morning is a little bit like Christmas, because I get to wake up and see what magic he did while I was sleeping. I then send him messages like, “THAT WAS SO GOOD. HOW DARE YOU.”

Santino: And then I secretly read her scenes at work and send more messages like “Why do I have to work?”. LOL

Megan: We do plot ahead of time, but we talk through every scene just to make sure we’re both on track with the emotions of our characters. We have changed the plot of…all four books I think. As in, the plot we started out with changed as we drafted because our characters weren’t following that path. So we check in with each other before just about every scene. So before I dig in that day, we’ll take each other’s pulse. I’m usually feeling inspired and excited based on his last scene, so I’m ready to go. 🙂

Santino: I think my favorite part of our process is after it all comes together and I can reread it in its entirety, because day-to-day I get excited for every scene, but then by the middle or end it’s all fragmented in my brain so I’m like “is this coherent and fun for anyone else?? Because clearly we think it’s great!”. We both have those moments, and it’s nice to be able to kind of vent our worries and angst to each other. And then reassure each other.

Megan: It’s definitely hard when I have to write a book on my own. Like, where’s my partner? I need to brainstorm with someone! What’s kind of funny about this series is that it’s rather meta. It’s all about MCs who meet online, and we write the whole series in Google Docs while conversing on Gchat.

Santino: Exactly. I think that’s why the books resonate with so many people, though. Most people in romancelandia have met like-minded online via various different forms of social media, and those relationships have transitioned to long-lasting friendships, partnerships, and more. It’s also why we decided to keep the series going. We almost stopped at book 3, and then we had several conversations about whether we should wrap it up with book 4 since this kind of closes out the story arc that began with Kai and Garrett.

Megan: Right, and then because we can’t help ourselves, we brainstormed an idea for book five, so we guess there’ll be more Cyberlove along the way. 😀

TCO: OH YEAH!!!! Now that is awesome news!!! Thanks for stopping by Megtino.

Holy smokin hot! Like oh mah gawd. Anyway…

I kind of love opposites attract when they have something big in common. Here it was youtube. Other than that, and that they were both openly gay- Zane and Beau could not be more different. And it was awesome. While it was a bone of contention to begin with- squeeky clean Beau versus TrashyZane, they started to realize that maybe they had more in common than they thought. See first sentence of review.

I have to say, this series made me really glad I have a teen at home so I knew all of the lingo already. Otherwise, you could easily spend some time looking things up. Big plus for me and it all fit with the story, but I honestly don’t know if that would be a turn off for others.

Above and beyond the steamy hotness, there was a good story. That is essential to me. Keeping careers alive and moving forward, branding, cattiness in the business, etc. It was really interesting to read all that goes on behind the scenes of having a successful youtube channel.

Both Zane and Beau were likeable even though you want to smack each of them at different points in the story.

There were several different conflicts in the story, and honestly I couldn’t really figure out how he was going to get through it. So they way it did wrap up was done really well.

Being that this was a co-written book, one of the biggest markers for me is if you can tell that one author wrote one character and the other author wrote the second. But honestly, I could not tell at all. The story telling was seamless.

There are quite a few appearances by characters of previous books, and although it can be read as a stand alone, I really would start at the beginning. They are all worth a read.

4.5 pieces of eye candy

ABOUT SANTINO HASSELL:

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

www.santinohassell.com

Santino@santinohassell.com

Twitter: @santinohassell

https://www.facebook.com/santinohassellbooks

https://www.goodreads.com/santino_hassell

Amazon Author Page

 

ABOUT MEGAN ERICKSON

Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she likes writing her own endings better.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.
For more, visit meganerickson.org

Website: www.meganerickson.org

Amazon Author Page

Twitter @MeganErickson_

IG: https://www.instagram.com/meggiejoknows/
FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1440306062901719/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/authormeganerickson/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mrsmeggiejo/

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

Sunset at Pencarrow by Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell: Release Day Review and Giveaway

Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Title: Sunset at Pencarrow
Authors: Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell
Release Date: June 7, 2017
Category: Contemporary, World of Love
Pages: TBC (Novella)

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

I couldn’t wait to read this one. I love New Zealand. Having been there, and enjoyed the beauty of the country, and the lovely, diverse people, I was excited to get another glimpse of it. And I really did enjoy all the little pieces of the culture, the landscape, and the beautiful landmarks of the country. It was a spectacular reminder that I can’t wait to get back for a second visit.

Now, I will say that Nate…I didn’t like him a whole lot most of the time. He was grumpy, moody, and mercurial. He certainly had reasons with an ex who was fairly abusive, at least verbally. However, it is hard to like a character when he is trying to be kind, and maybe start a relationship, yet can’t get out of his own issues.

Rusty, on the other hand, was a sweetheart that you had to love the second the reader met him. He was sweet, and easy-going, willing to find adventure in a land he didn’t think he would be coming back to. He was kind and strong, and willing to stick up for those who couldn’t do it themselves, but only if they actually needed him.

Once these two men began to show each other their feelings, I felt better about Nate, and saw his growth as a person. However, I was glad that the authors kept them apart for some time, so that Nate could continue to grow away from Rusty, and become a person who he could be on his own.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

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

On Point by Annabeth Albert: Release Day Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

TitleON POINT

Series: Out of Uniform, Book 3, but each book is a stand-alone HEA w/ a new couple in each book

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date: June 5, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 78,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary romance, military romance, SEALS

Add to Goodreads

Never fall for your best friend…

Pushing thirty, with his reenlistment looming, decorated navy sniper Maddox Horvat is taking a long look at what he really wants in life. And what he wants is Ben Tovey. It isn’t smart, falling for his best friend and fellow SEAL, but ten years with Ben has forged a bond so intimate Maddox can’t ignore it. He needs Ben by his side forever—heart and soul.

Ben admits he likes what he’s seen—his friend’s full lower lip and the perfect muscles of his ass have proved distracting more than once. But Ben’s still reeling from a relationship gone to hell, and he’s not about to screw up his friendship with Maddox, too.

Until their next mission throws Ben and Maddox closer together than ever before, with only each other to depend on.

Now, in the lonely, desperate hours awaiting rescue, the real challenge—confronting themselves, their future and their desires—begins. Man to man, friend to friend, lover to lover.

The rain pelted down as he made his way up the ridge, thick sheets that obscured his vision and made the terrain slippery and treacherous. Overhead, a large black bird with a colorful beak swooped in, almost sending Ben skidding into a ravine.

He whistled low, a deliberate pattern, one of the team’s signals. He repeated the sound as he approached where Maddox was supposed to be. An answering signal came from a dense thicket of green vegetation.

“It’s me. Hold your fire,” Ben called as he slipped into the mass of trees and roots. The plants here were nothing like the ones back home—giant heart-shaped leaves and bright rubbery flowers that almost looked bird- or insect-like. The trees had massive, visible roots covered with moss, and were connected by thick vines that could easily be mistaken for a deadly snake.

Below him, he could see the encampment, SEALs scurrying around. The injured hostage and Issacson, their wounded radio man, were carried out, which had to mean the chopper was close. Time to haul ass. “Maddox?”

“Here.” Maddox slid out of the shadows, rifle at the ready, just as Ben had expected. “Com’s down for you guys too?”

“Yup. Chopper’s coming in. LT sent me to bring you in. No time to waste. Issacson took a bullet, but he’s stable, and one of the hostages is in bad shape. Possible hostiles escaped, but Rogers and company are hunting them down.”

“Got it. Lead the way.” Maddox let Ben take point as they made their way down the ridge. They had to skirt the edge of a steep drop, every muddy step cautious even as they needed to make haste.

Crack.

Whoosh.

Two things happened at the same instant—gunfire broke out above them and a chopper approached, engine noise making it hard to track the source of the shots. But Maddox was already on it, crouching low, rifle ready. Another shot whistled over their heads and Maddox returned fire. They both left the trail and headed into the brush, intent on finding the hostiles.

The chopper circled low, then went back up. Fuck. The chopper was struggling to land in the encampment clearing, which meant the next pass was critical. Still staying low and gun ready, he inched forward. No more gunfire had followed Maddox’s, but that didn’t mean he could let his guard down for a second.

The chopper circled again, but the terrain had shifted and Ben could no longer see the encampment beneath them.

Fuck.” Maddox never cursed, so Ben whipped his head around just in time to see Maddox slipping off the poor excuse for a trail.

Ben scrambled on his stomach, stretching out an arm, trying to catch Maddox. “Grab on.”

“No. Don’t—” Maddox didn’t get the sentence out before they were both tumbling down the muddy incline, heading straight for the ravine that lay between them and the encampment. Ben tried to slow their descent but his attempt to grab at some vines only resulted in the foliage following them down.

Maddox screamed, a legitimate yell that chilled Ben to his boots because Maddox never lost composure. Ever. Ben had once watched Wizard put sutures in Maddox’s scalp while Maddox hummed, never dropping his tune.

Ben grabbed for him again and— Pop. Ben’s arm pulled at an unnatural angle, caught up in a tree root and not Maddox’s strong grip as he’d intended. He wrenched loose but the damage was already done, and still he slid, mud carrying him faster, rocks and vegetation raining down after them.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” Ben’s arm and shoulder were on fire and he was still moving, sliding, nothing working—

Boom. The bottom of the ravine arrived without warning, a muddy bog that sucked him down, but it was hardly a soft landing, rocks and plants poking at him. His arm had him cursing, eyes watering. He’d seen Rogers dislocate a shoulder last year in the grinder obstacle course, and at the time he’d rolled his eyes at how Rogers had carried on. He had a sick feeling that he’d done the same or worse to his shoulder, and he got the urge to cry and howl.

“Oh fuck.” His stomach heaved and he barely made it to his side before he threw up from the pain. He turned his head and almost lost his guts again. Maddox lay a few feet from him, leg at an unnatural angle, blood dripping from his head, helmet nowhere to be seen. Not talking or cursing.

Clawing at the rocks with his good arm, Ben pulled himself closer, looking for the telltale rise and fall of Maddox’s chest—and not seeing it.

“You are not fucking with me,” Ben growled. “Mad? Come on, man.”

Still nothing, not even a ghost of movement across Maddox’s pale lips. Terror, nothing Ben had ever known before, froze his veins, made him lightheaded from more than just the fall. He refused, utterly refused to live in a world where Maddox wasn’t okay.

“Maddox. Horvat.” He shook his shoulder, cursing under his breath. No, no, no.

Whoosh. A chopper—the chopper—flew overhead, much too far to spot them down this ravine, and heading away from them.

Sputter. Maddox let out a mighty cough. It might have been the most beautiful sound Ben had ever heard, because it meant Maddox was here, that he was fighting, and Ben started to laugh with relief until Maddox spoke. “Heck. They’re leaving us.”

Sigh… Maddox and Ben…
I knew I would love them… I mean, the falling for your best friend thing? It’s confusing and heartbreaking and stressful, especially when you’re living together like these two were.
Ben, after a terrible breakup and the effect that his mother leaving him when he was a child, had one him; wasn’t in a place where he thought he’d ever settle down. He had his career, his best friend and any pick of a willing guy. He was set right? But, a few threesome type-not quite threesomes with his best friend had things weird between them and it was rough….Cut to something terrible happening in the field, leaving them both near death… it put things into perspective for both of them.
For Maddox, he was tired of living to make everyone else happy. His family didn’t accept him, and man were they terrible. My heart truly broke for him, it seemed like nobody stuck around for him… Nobody but Ben… With Ben, he was faced with almost losing Maddox and he just couldn’t have that… thus, an experiment ensues.
I hated that Maddox felt like all the time that the other shoe was going to drop….and I hate that for the same, but different reasons, Ben did too and he used that to push Maddox away. I just wanted Maddox to have someone there and love him for how great he was. Watching him get hurt over and over again was excruciating and I just wanted him to find his happy and I knew it was going to be with Ben… I was just waiting for Ben to pull his head out…
Of course, if you’ve read any book in this series… of course, he does and we get the most beautiful ending. I almost cried there at the end, with Ben… He wasn’t always good with words or emotions, but he hit the nail on the head at the end. All the angst and back and forth is well worth it in the end.
I loved Ben’s family… well, his dad and step-mom that is. I loved their friends and getting to catch up with Apollo and Zach… I love how this series portrays the military branches being so accepting of its LGBT members and I just love seeing someone like Maddox finally get his happy.
It was truly another amazing addition to an already amazing series. I loved it so much and I can’t wait for more… I really hope there’s more!
5 pieces of eye candy from me!

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Annabeth’s Angels Facebook Group

Sign Up for Annabeth’s Newsletter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Save

Save

Save

 

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

Breaking Bonds by Ari McKay: Release Day Review and Giveaway

From the frying pan into the fire.

After a critic’s review attacks both Chef Liam Walker’s culinary skills and his personal life, Liam can no longer take the heat of the cutthroat New York City restaurant scene. He needs to get out of the kitchen—at least long enough to cool down and regroup.

At the Overlook Resort in North Carolina, Liam meets owner Carter Galloway. Carter has a passion for the hospitality business to rival Liam’s own, and it’s not hard to see where their shared interests—and attraction—could lead. But Carter has no interest in a fling, and Liam has no intention of walking away from the career he fought so hard for. If they want a taste of happiness together, they’ll have to find the courage to break the bonds threatening to pull them apart.

Title: Breaking Bonds
Series: The Walker Boys: Book Two
Author: Ari McKay
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 190

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

Every time I read one of the Dreamspun Desires books, I just end up happy. They just bring me back to a happy place where I began reading for what I wanted to read, and now continue to do.

I really enjoyed this one in the series. Carter was a sweetheart that had awful parents, and yet stuck to his guns, and his priorities. He wanted to make his resort a success, and he wasn’t willing to sacrifice his goals for a simple fling, despite how much he wanted Liam.

Liam, meanwhile, had his own goals, and knew he needed to pay back the mentor who had been there for him, when he was nothing. What Liam needed to realize is that sometimes goals change, as our life, and our “Outlook” changes. As he became more involved in the resort, in Carter’s life, and even becoming a mentor to his own junior chef, he found that he had competing goals, and it pulled at him. For his part, he never pushed Carter farther than he wanted. He was respectful, even as they fell in love.

The ending was satisfying, especially as the reader finds out how much Liam’s goals change based on his return to New York. The perpetual HEA that is inevitable in this series will make the reader smile. And I loved catching up with the men later, as their lives were on track, moving forward, and making their own goal’s successes happen.

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.