Texting, Autocorrect and a Prius by M.A. Church: Release Day Review, Exclusive Guest Post, and Giveaway

Clay McDonald finds the perfect car on Craigslist and is quick to send the seller a text:

Is your penis still for sale?

AutoCorrect strikes again. Damn—he should’ve proofread. How embarrassing.

Luckily Darrell Anderson, a mechanic and the owner of the Prius, is more amused than offended, and the two men agree to meet. When they do, the attraction is instant, and a date is arranged. But a series of mishaps, misunderstandings, and misplaced assumptions sorely test the new relationship.

In a contemporary romantic comedy about the perils of technology and dating in the modern world, a text that went so wrong might just lead to something so right—but only if Clay can refrain from jumping to conclusions and give love the benefit of the doubt.

Title: Texting, AutoCorrect, and a Prius
Author: M.A. Church
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Humor
Pages: TBD (Novella)

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Some Fun Facts About Cell Phones

  1. First mobile phone was Motorola Dyan TAC 8000X and was invented in 1983 by Martin Copper. It could only store thirty contacts and weighed 1.1kg. You could only talk for thirty minutes and cost close to four thousand dollars. And ya’ll thought cell phone were high dollar now, lol.

 

  1. The first smart phone was made by IBM and was launched August 16, 1994. It was the first commercially available touchtone screen and came pre-installed with functions like a calendar, calculator, address book, and Note Pad. Oh sooo many options! (And I remember this too lol.)

 

  1. Apple sold million iPhones in 2012 in fourteen weeks—or 262 phones per minute. I can’t even wrap my head around that.

 

  1. And speaking of iPhones, there was an iPhone5 fully coated with 26 carat black diamonds. For a measly $15.3 million you can own one too. Who’s with me???

 

  1. The highest mobile phone bill was $201,000. 00. Someone’s gonna be grounded for a looooong time. Well, they would be after I picked myself off the floor after passing smooth out. Then they better run.

 

Cell phones, lol. Gotta love them. And most of us can’t live without them… me included!

He got out, locked his truck, and walked over to the ’Vette. The car was a thing of beauty, there was no doubt about that. Regrettably he didn’t get close enough last night to tell a whole lot about it, but it certainly looked like the one he’d seen before.

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

Clay jerked his head up. Holy shit. There in the garage, standing next to the Prius, was a man. A man who looked like the guy he saw the night before at Milo’s and earlier in the day in town.

“Oh my God,” Clay said again. He seemed to be stuck on repeat. “It’s you.”

The guy smirked. “Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing. You’re the guy who was eye-fucking my car last night.”

Clay’s ears began to burn. He was pretty sure he was turning red in the face. “Hey, it’s a nice-looking car.” So was the owner. “I’m Clay McDonald.”

The guy who owned the Prius walked from the garage, hand held out. “Nice to meet you, Clay. My name is Darrell Anderson. You’re interested in driving a Prius, right?”

Well, if Clay wasn’t red before, he sure was now. That damn message was going to haunt him forever.

I haven’t read this author before Texting, Autocorrect, and a Prius but just the title intrigued me, mostly because autocorrect gets me every time, and it can be a super hilarious mistake. It is also something that comes back to haunt me sometimes, which I expected for poor Clay. It does, but only one time, which I won’t lie, disappointed me slightly, cause, well, penis is a great autocorrect! 🙂

These two had quite a few misunderstandings to deal with, but they seemed to clear all those up fairly efficiently. I was definitely looking for some of those issues to linger, but they didn’t. It was an issue, then once they fixed it, they moved on (which is good for a relationship of course, but not as much for building tension).

I just felt that there were things that could have been expanded upon, or otherwise left out because there wasn’t really a need for it. E.g. Clay’s sister wanting to set him up on a blind date with, as it turned out, Darrell. It was brought up, then later it was revealed, and there was a very quick conversation on it, but it was as if the drama came much more from what caused the initial conversation (Darrell’s friend) than anything else.

In the end, I needed more. More laughs behind the jokes, more tension behind their issues, just a bit more of what I thought was a fantastic story idea. I enjoyed it, but wanted more.

3.5 pieces of eye candy


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M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.

She is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

 

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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.

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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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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)

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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

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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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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.

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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

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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)

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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

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Hijacked Love by Ethan Stone: Quick Review

It’s the winter of 1971 and FBI Agent Zack Pomeroy is hoping to make a name for himself when he’s assigned the case of the century—the hijacking of an airplane by D.B. Cooper. Zack’s used to hiding his sexuality but working with Duke Magruder is even more of a challenge. Not only do they do have vastly different personalities but also contrasting opinions on how to work the case. Nonetheless, Zack is able to earn Duke’s begrudging respect.

Until Duke learns Zack’s secret.

When Zack finds a lead on the case Duke not only refuses to listen, he also refuses to work with Zack any longer. Zack’s career and his assignment are at jeopardy but that doesn’t mean he’s about to give up on finding Cooper, no matter how many years it takes.

Hijacked Love is a blend of mystery and historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in.

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The story of D.B. Cooper and his complete disappearance has always been one of those mysteries that has fascinated me. To have someone hijack a plan, and a ton of money, and just disappear with little more than a trace has always been just so interesting, so when I got the chance to read this, I grabbed it.

This isn’t really a romance, although there is a romantic element in it. And the author kept true to the real-life story, and the mystery is not solved. However, I still enjoyed it. I haven’t ever read much on the story, other than how they think he escaped, so I don’t know how many of the “facts of the case” are true to the real-life story, but it seemed real to me! The author did a great job of bringing all the information to the table in an enthralling manner. I read it beginning to end in one sitting, because I was so fascinated.

I did like that Zack had a man he’d been with for many years, and yet they still needed to come to terms with the changes in their relationship. It added an extra piece to the story, knowing that Zack had someone to come home to, and someone he didn’t want to disappoint.

A good quick read.

4 pieces of eye candy

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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

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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


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Return of the Chauffeur’s Son by Tara Lain: Release Day Review, Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Luca McGrath may be returning to Napa Valley, California as a promising chef with dreams of starting his own restaurant and winery, but his heart still lives with bad-boy billionaire’s son, James Armstrong. Luca spent his childhood playing games with the golden boy of California society, so blinded by James he barely noticed the dark, quiet lure of his conservative older brother, Dylan Armstrong.

But now, Luca’s home and his own powers of attraction are enough to make James question his dedicated heterosexuality and his promised marriage to a wealthy and powerful businesswoman. The obvious attraction between Luca and James spurs Dylan into action—but he’s fighting a huge secret. While Luca dreamed of James, Dylan dreamed of Luca. When Luca gets caught in the struggle between the brothers and gets accused of culinary espionage he’s ready to chuck the fairy tale—unable to even imagine Dylan’s power to make his dreams come true.

Title: Return of the Chauffeur’s Son
Author: Tara Lain
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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There’s Nothing Like Napa

Hi. I’m Tara Lain. Settle down, have a glass of champagne and join me in celebrating my new novel, Return of the Chauffeur’s Son. While this book pays homage to the wonderful romantic movie, Sabrina, it doesn’t take place on the east coast. In fact, it’s set in Napa Valley, CA. I hope when people read the book, they end up wanting to visit this magical place. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Napa a few times so here are a few impressions.

Unlike the other great California wine area, Sonoma, where wineries are tucked along winding roads and hidden cul de sacs, Napa is truly a valley with wineries and restaurants organized around two long parallel roads connected by smaller lanes. All a visitor has to do is start at the end of one long road and hop from winery to winery. You’ll never make it to all of them in one day. In fact, your head will be delightfully muzzy in only a few stops of wine tasting, so be sure to appoint a designated driver, or better yet, hire a car or limo to take you on the tour.

Each winery has its own tasting room. Some are very informal affairs, but most are large rooms offering the traveler snacks and souvenirs to go with their wine.  Usually, you pay a fee to taste a flight of wines – starting with the lightest white and progressing through the heaviest reds. Names like viongnier, pinot grigio, cabernet franc and meritage trip off the tongue – literally. Some of the wineries look like old castles and others are as modern as can be imagined. A few will take you on a tour of their wine making process – a treat for any wine fancier.

In Return of the Chauffeur’s Son, I manage to get my hero on a wine tour bus (they ran out of rental cars) and so the reader goes on a little drive through Napa Valley. I hope you enjoy my new book and that you get to visit Napa sometime soon.

James grabbed her, picked her up, and swung her in a circle before setting her down and starting a very accomplished foxtrot.

Luca watched them dance off, his gut twisting. He liked Nila so much. Why the hell did she have to love James?

A big warm hand clamped his shoulder. His breath sucked in. Slowly, Dylan turned him, and when they were face-to-face, Dylan wrapped Luca in his arms and began to dance.

If Sasquatch had just asked him to waltz, he wouldn’t have been more amazed. “Uh, will your guests be okay with same-sex dancing?”

Dylan whispered close to his ear, rumbly and low, “Ask me if I care.”

Luca smiled. “Dylan, do you care?”

“Not one tiny fuck.”

Every hair on Luca’s body stood on end. The hairs made a matched set with his cock, which leaped to attention and saluted. Whoa. Keep your distance or he’ll know. The old song said something about needing someone all the way, and his penis nodded in agreement. I could run! Get in my new car and drive. Uh, that would be the new car Dylan practically bought for me. He swallowed. “Thank you for helping with my car. I could never have bought it without your, uh, family discount.” He laughed tightly.

“You and Francis have always been a part of the family.” The deep vibration of Dylan’s voice tickled through Luca’s chest and dove lower. “I remember when you and James used to play like brothers.”

Not a subtle reminder of fraternity. “Yeah, how many times did we turn the great room into a gigantic fort?”

“I seem to recall being turned into the enemy and attacked once or twice.”

“We did love to follow you around.”

His voice got closer and breath warmed Luca’s ear. “I should have realized you were a little too interested in the fact that all my dates were guys.”

Two could play this game. He slipped his lips closer to Dylan’s ear. “You were my role model. I used to peek out the window and watch you kiss boys under the big tree by the pool.”

Dylan laughed deep and throaty. “I finally figured out you were watching.”

“Once I saw a guy go down on you. Your head was back against the tree trunk, and I could hear you moaning.” He whispered softly, “It was the first time I ever came that wasn’t a nocturnal emission.”

The sound from Dylan’s throat sounded half snort and half moan. “I didn’t know about that time, or I might have come inside and paddled your butt.”

“I might have liked it.” He laughed. “Right after that I realized I never felt that way when I saw girls.”

I do enjoy Tara Lain’s books, quite a bit. There are always characters with rich personalities, and quirks that change from book to book. This book is no exception. The side characters have their own personalities and little differences, as well.

Dylan kept his demeanor cool and aloof for most of the book. In many instances, it was difficult to tell what he felt (or didn’t feel) for Luca. Meanwhile, Luca had a difficult time coming around to Dylan, almost too much trouble. It did feel a little forced to have him go straight from one love to another, with a little bit of dating in between.

The espionage story was a great side story. It provided some additional depth to Luca, finding out how much he really wanted to be home, and what he was willing to put up with from the locals. In the end, he won, with the help of Dylan, and was cleared of all wrongdoing. I did like that no one that really “knew” Luca believed he was willing to go to such lengths to win a contest.

As with all of Tara’s books, it had the ever present HEA, and with some great stuff to look forward to with the happy couple(s). I loved that we got to experience a little of that HEA, as well.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 37. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

Website:              http://www.taralain.com

Blog:                      http://www.taralain.com/blog

Goodreads:        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/taralain

FB Page:               http://www.facebook.com/taralain

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Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by L.A. Merrill: Release Day Review, Exclusive Guest Post and Giveaway

David Marks is looking for the perfect place to film his new web series and recover from his latest failed relationship. When reclusive writer Michael Sharp opens his Montana ranch to paying guests, David knows he’s found the right place—but he doesn’t expect to find Mr. Right too.

Forty years ago Michael Sharp’s father was murdered in front of him. No one believed a six-year-old boy’s testimony against the powerful Carver brothers. For years Michael has lived in self-imposed exile, the only living witness who can bring down the Carver criminal empire. But now the money is running out, and he’s forced to play host to a troupe of temperamental web actors and their energetically attractive director in order to stay alive.

The Carvers aren’t about to stand for rebellion. Michael has outlived his usefulness. Now Michael and David have to find a way to end this fight once and for all, finding justice for Michael’s father and meeting David’s funding deadline—all before one or both of them ends up dead.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Title: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
Author: L.A. Merrill
Release Date: May 31, 2017
Category: Mystery/Suspense, States of Love
Pages: 74

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MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH RELEASE DAY GIVEAWAY!

It’s Monday, May 29th, which means it must be… Memorial Day! (In America, at least.) And also… release day for my new novella! Take a time out from your pool-side, burger-flipping, summer kickoff parties (and whatever else y’all are up to on this last Monday in May) to read about unexpected romance in Montana and enter for a chance to win a free e-book!

         

Shakespeare and Bronte and Poe, Oh My: Literary Web Series and New Storytelling

My love affair with literary web series started with one little three-minute episode. After dinner one night, my sister dragged me upstairs to her room, sat me down in front of her laptop and said, “You have to watch this.”

This was Episode One of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Ashely Clements, Mary Kate Wiles, and Hank Green and Bernie Su’s hilarious script hooked me in under a minute. My sister and I devoured the series together every Saturday night in tiny, laughter-filled binges. After we’d seen every episode and spin-off available, we branched out into adaptations of Emma and Jane Eyre, discovering a whole online and IRL culture of web-based filmmakers and production companies, professional actors and groups of college friends staging Shakespeare in their dorm rooms.

Sean and Sinead Persaud spoofing Edgar Allen Poe and Lenore the Lady Ghost. Yulin Kuang’s lyrical I Didn’t Write This series. The campy fun of Carmilla and the blisteringly recognizable humor and despair in Whatever this is. YouTube’s “Watch Next Video” button was my answer to Netflix’s “Are you still watching?” check-in, and I was always ready to press “Yes!”

I always loved watching any “Behind the Scenes” videos, too, eager to see how the stories were made. When I started writing Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, those were the videos I returned to, seeing how tiny teams of actors and crew members banded together on a ridiculously short shooting schedule to create highly detailed serial stories. In my novella, David Marks and his best friend Ronni Oberfeldt run Mark of Cain Productions, a company using its last chance at funding to film a classic Western version of Lorna Doone. When I was younger I was almost ready to drop everything and run away to Vancouver or California to join a web series production company as a writer. I never did end up going, but I channeled my passion for retellings of classic stories into Meanwhile—and if you read closely, you can find more than one allusion to R. D. Blackmore’s story hidden inside mine!

(I did end up writing a sketch script for one episode of The Blank Scene, Maxwell Glick’s acting-exercise-comedy series. It’s called “Have You Seen My Car” if you want to look it up!)

Now for the giveaway! I’m always on the lookout for new things to watch, so leave a comment with your favorite web series and an email you feel comfortable leaving in public, and one person will be randomly selected to receive a FREE copy of my Hanukkah-centric romantic short story Don’t Let the Light Go Out. Leave a comment by June 1st, and we will contact the winner by the end of June! Happy reading, y’all!

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch is available now! Follow the link to buy it today—and be sure to check out L.A. Merrill’s other stories and the rest of the States of Love novella series! 

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novella. I hadn’t read anything by L.A. Merrill before, and with it being in the States of Love line, you could find all kinds of options as to what it was. I enjoyed this one a lot! The  synopsis led me to believe it might be serious, with some guys with guns charging after a guy who’d been hiding out for years. That wasn’t what I got at all. 🙂

One thing I wasn’t expecting in it was to laugh out loud. There were lots of moments of just pure laugh out loud funny. Here are just a few that I marked:

“I had to sign a release form via email before I even got to reserve or rooms. I’m pretty sure I signed away our right to sue over wolverine-related incidents.”

“Which one of these is to the gun cabinet?” I asked aiming for nonchalant. (Pro tip: there’s no way you can ask that question nonchalantly.)”

And this conversation is my favorite!

“What about costumes?” Jen asked momentarily distracted.

“That’s me,” Enzo said, raising a hand.

“Makeup?”

“Also me.”

“Running sound–“

“You know what, I’m just going to leave my hand up.”

There were actually more that I highlighted, but you’ll need to buy and read yourself. 😉

David and Michael were cute together. Getting together at night and working on the script that David was terrible at writing, and Michael could write so easily. They worked together, along with the band of misfits that showed up as the first guests at the new hotel.

One of the things I enjoyed about this novella was that the people were not perfect. I won’t give away what I mean like that completely, other than to say that sometimes what we believe to be real turns out to be completely different than reality.

David’s creativity with the dog that hated him at the end was pretty darn good!

For a short novella, it had action, it had romance, lots of humor and a storyline that you wanted to see come to a happy ending. All of that, and still a couple surprises you didn’t see coming.

Completely my idea of a fun time!

4 pieces of eye candy


        L.A. Merrill is a tiny blonde woman who loves a good story. She has worked as a tour guide and an assistant stage director, and spent one memorable summer as a camp counselor. After five years in vocal performance, production work, and arts education, she now writes full-time. Her work has appeared in Kansas City Voices magazine, on the YouTube series The Blank Scene, and online. Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch is L.A.’s fourth story with Dreamspinner Press, and her first published novella. (There’s an unpublished novella, about murderous husbands and Scottish ghosts, written when she was thirteen, that is sitting in a file at home. It will likely never see the light of day.)

An avid knitter, she has yet to follow a pattern and has made some interestingly shaped hats as a result. L.A. makes handknit and crocheted blankets and hats for local charities, as well as leading a LGBT+ writers group in her hometown. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she can usually be found reading, writing, and making things up as she goes along. Follow her on Twitter for feminism and fangirling at @la_mer92

 

Next Stops On The Blog Tour!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words (May 30)

Tammy’s Two Cents (May 31)

The Novel Approach (June 1)

Love Bytes (June 2)

Divine Magazine (June 5)

On Top Down Under (June 6)

Dreamspinner Press (June 8)

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