Spun! by JL Merrow: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.

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Riptide Books

Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Spun!, the fourth of my contemporary MM romantic comedies in the Shamwell Tales series.

Bringing the Funny

I never set out to write humour. Whether or not I’ve nevertheless achieved it is up to the individual reader’s judgement, but all I wanted to do at the outset was have fun with my writing. It wasn’t until I started to see a common thread in reviews (“Merrow’s trademark humour”; “JL Merrow brings the funny” etc) that I realised that hey, other people were having fun with it too. Which, obviously, leads to fun squared, and a very happy author. 🙂

I grew up reading all sorts of funny books. The late, great, Sir Terry Pratchett is, of course, my idol—there is nothing he didn’t know about comic timing*—and another early influence was Douglas Adams.

“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” ― Douglas AdamsThe Restaurant at the End of the Universe

I discovered The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the library at an early age and proceeded to annoy my poor mother mightily by reading out choice lines whenever she was trying to get on with something else. Who could forget the classic, “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way as bricks don’t”, a line that on one level, tells you nothing at all, but on another, is a fantastically evocative bit of description?

It’s probably not surprising that both Pratchett and Adams were British, as of course was another great influence of mine, PG Wodehouse. Not that I don’t appreciate the humour of other countries, but there’s just something about the dry, erudite and/or absurd wit of my fellow islanders that speaks to my dyed-in-the-wool British soul.

Wodehouse is best known these days for the Jeeves and Wooster books, which spawned the delightful TV series starring an exquisitely young Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (okay, I may possibly be showing my age here). He also wrote an immense number of other books, many of them romances featuring plucky young ladies, empty-headed sons of the aristocracy, irascible older relatives, and pigs. (Although the latter generally didn’t feature in the romance bit). All of them sparkled with his gentle, literary humour:

“Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy’s Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day’s work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city’s reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty.” ― P.G. Wodehouse, The Best of Wodehouse: An Anthology

For me, letting an idea run away with me, or playing with words a bit, is half the fun of writing. Both Wodehouse and Pratchett were masters at taking an idea and running with it all the way to absurdity and back.

“If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards!” Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic

I also loved Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books, starting with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾. Adrian is an adorably unreliable narrator. Much of the comedy comes from his confident (and hilariously mistaken) pronouncements about everything from politics to his parents’ tangled love lives.

“I have never seen a dead body or a female nipple. This is what comes from living in a cul de sac.” – Sue Townsend, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole.

Terry Pratchett has said that writing is the most fun anyone can have by themselves. I’d tend to agree, but I’d add that probably the best thing about writing is connecting with readers. Laughter (this is the science bit) is a social mechanism that reinforces bonding within a group, so there’s something very special about sharing a joke with a reader.

I hope you’ll enjoy the humour in Spun!—and if you do, I’d love to hear from you! And if you’ve got an all-time favourite funny book, why not share it/a quote in the comments?

*or, indeed, most other aspects of comedy. Sir Perry, I kiss your rod**.

**This is by no means as rude as it sounds.

Okay, I will say this quickly to get it out of the way…I have never read a JL Merrow book before (I know, right?) and I am feeling like such a (as the author may put it) “silly git” for it. How have I never read anything by this author?

I decided to do this one on a whim. Merely because I was interested in seeing what the fuss was in this series being re-released and additional work added, as well. I still haven’t read Books 1-3, although I will endeavour to correct that as soon as possible. But wow, this was a lot of fun!

The reader, if not from the UK, needs to be willing to enjoy all the local dialect, and just hope you can get it all in context. There is a ton of that dialect, but it isn’t difficult to suss out most of the meanings, and if you have your UK dictionary downloaded into your kindle, you are golden!

There was so many fun aspects of this book. It was lighthearted, not angsty in the least, although I have to say I was anxious for these two men to get themselves together as a couple! A very slow burn this was, but with small children in the picture, and tons of exes hanging around, it was bound to happen.

David was such a doll! He had such a sweet temperament, and throwing out all his French endearments, as well as seeing his devotion to Gregory made him a character I wanted to know, in person. I wanted to meet David, and hang out with him, whether it was watching “the telly” or trying to cook dinner with him. His love of spending time with Rory’s children was wonderful to read. He truly adored those kids, before he even realized he was in love with their father.

Meanwhile Rory, what a gentle man. He really just wanted everyone to be happy, himself last. He never wanted to make waves, never to fight too hard. Yet he loved, it was so obvious how much he loved those around him, David included. He loved his time with his children, and cherished that time, and those kids as precious, even if he had to cancel time with someone else for them. He was meant to be a father, and a caregiver.

David and Rory together seemed to hit the perfect team. David, being more “worldly”, could easily have looked down on his new postman landlord, for his time with his bigoted mate, or his manner of speech, yet he never did. He always respected Rory. Rory was no different, always showing tremendous respect for David. They worked together on everything, and it showed their joy in spending time together, and with the kids.

What I enjoyed the most though was the enjoyment they found in each other. Cracking little flirting jokes, spending time learning to cook (and burn things) together, finding their way into a comfortable loving place.

I enjoyed JL Merrow’s writing, the subtle English humor, and venturing into learning what family can look like for two men who didn’t realize they were looking for a family in each other.  Looking at JL Merrow’s backlist, I believe I could be spending a lot of time catching up with everything happening across the aisle. And I’ll enjoy every minute of it.

4 pieces of eye candy

 

About the Shamwell Tales

Welcome to Shamwell! A sleepy rural village in Hertfordshire, England, it’s the perfect place to move to for a little peace and quiet—or at least, you’d think so. But as a succession of newcomers to the village find, there’s more going on in these idyllic surroundings than cricket matches on the common and pints of ale in the local pubs.

As a place where everyone’s connected to everyone else, Shamwell’s rife with mishaps, mayhem, and misunderstandings—and the path of true love is no smoother than the ancient stone walls of the parish church.

Each contemporary romantic comedy in this series stands alone, but all feature a cast of characters drawn from Shamwell and its surroundings.

Check out the Shamwell Tales, available from Riptide Publishing!

 

 

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again.

She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Connect with JL:

Goodreads: goodreads.com/.J_L_Merrow

To celebrate the release of Spun!, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 8, 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.

Something’s Brewing at Joe’s by SJD Peterson: Exclusive Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

The promise of a dream job lures Murphy to Tampa, but he arrives to the rude awakening that the offer is on hold. Now he’s got two choices: slink back to Michigan with his tail between his legs or stay and look for work. Things perk up when he goes into a coffee shop and learns the owner is looking for someone to renovate the apartment above it. He happily takes the job, only later realizing he’s met Joe Sterling, Kaffeinate’s proprietor, before… when they hooked up at a club Murphy’s first night in Tampa.

Murphy and Joe are both proud, passionate, and outspoken. Neither is looking for a relationship, though they can’t deny they go together as well as coffee and doughnuts, in spite of their tempers. But that’s before Joe learns Murphy will be working for the corporation he believes is harming local businesses and the environment—and if Murphy will be supporting it, Joe will want nothing to do with him, dooming any possibility of an unexpected happy ending.

Title: Something’s Brewing at Joe’s
Author: SJD Peterson
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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Undeniable and Uncontrollable

I’m often asked how I can have so many books in just six years. The answer, lots and lots of hours at the computer and a magnitude of voices in my head. The Second question I’m asked a lot is what do I think makes a good romance. That’s difficult to answer , because I truly believe it depends on the story and the audience. Everyone has their own definition of romantic. However, if I have to narrow it down to one thing, I’d have to say, the chemistry between the characters must be undeniable and uncontrollable. For this to happen, the attraction must be both physical and emotional. So how is realistic attraction between love interests created?

Each person has to lack a quality that the other can fulfill. It’s important to have two people (or more) who have characteristics which balance the other. Notice I said balance not fit together like two connecting puzzle pieces. Personally, when I read a story where the couple is annoyingly perfect, I get irritated and more importantly, bored. Great Chemistry is created by having a character with an emotional hole and another character to fill that hole. (Get your mind out of the gutter)

That being said, good character interaction, in general, depends not only on what a character lacks and makes up for in the other but also their differences, strengths, and how they come together to resolve the conflict.

In Something’s Brewing at Joe’s, there is an instant physical attraction between Murphy and Joe. However, their emotional connection makes their love undeniable and uncontrollable.

Okay, first thing…I have to giggle that Joe owns a coffee shop, and Murphy is almost dead without his coffee, because if you follow SJD Peterson on twitter like we do, you would know how much Jo LOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEESSSSSS her coffee. Recent tweets included the hashtag #coffeeaddict and that she was making a fresh pot at 9pm to get writing. So, of course, it makes complete sense that she would write a story centered around the local coffee house, where the owner is beloved by most everyone in Tampa. 🙂

Anyway, onto the book. Poor Murphy. He just couldn’t catch a break when he first got to Florida. He thought he had a great job ahead of him having just finished school, and ready to begin his career in heating (well likely not a lot of that in Florida) and air conditioning (TONS of that in Florida), and getting himself on his feet after his ex left him with next to nothing. He finds a friend in one of the employees at Joe’s, and finds a job, as well.

Meanwhile, he meets up with Joe again, only realizing later that he would be working for him. And to say these men were passionate is putting it mildly. They are passionate about their beliefs, and they tear up the sheets! (Jo can write some great sex scenes, and this book is no different).

What I enjoyed about these two was that despite some of their huge differences in beliefs, they stuck to their guns, and did not back down from the other merely because they didn’t agree. They could compromise, or they could just not talk about it…which these two men did very, very well…not talking. But in the end, they were strong in their beliefs, yet were willing to work with each other to find common ground.

The biggest conflict for them was the fact that would not talk, which in reality is how many men can be. These two jumped into bed together, or in the office, or on a mattress on the floor for that matter, before they would talk to each other about how they felt, despite all the times they said they were going to talk. If sex was on the table (not literally…) then they would do that long before they focused on building a relationship that each of them believed they didn’t want when they started.

I loved how they worked together at the end to get the bad guy, although it did seem a bit unrealistic initially. However, the way they got around the legalities of it was creative, as well as very relative to current events.

Another book of Jo’s that will go on my “to read again” list. Oh…and did I say there were hot sex scenes? Cause, there are…of course! Whew!

4 pieces of eye candy

 

SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

AUTHORS AMAZON PAGE

Jo is giving away an ebook of any of her backlist items. Let her know what you think about her upcoming release!

 

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

Regret by Christina Lee: Release Day Blitz, Excerpt and Review

Regret RDB Banner

REGRET

CHRISTINA LEE

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 06.26.17

COVER DESIGN: KANAXA

 

Regret Cover

When Brian “Brin” Schubert’s condo floods, he takes his co-worker up on the offer to stay on his crappy futon for a while. The last thing he expects is for his friend’s roommate to be the one guy he despises the most. The same guy who stomped on his heart senior year of high school. And by the looks of the girl on his arm, the same man who’s still deep inside the closet.

Nicholas Dell never predicted that eleven years later, one of his greatest regrets would show up on his doorstep down on his luck. Nick has made some terrible mistakes—story of his life—and he’s been paying for them ever since. And if the guilt and shame aren’t enough, his first crush had to turn into one of the sexiest men he’s ever laid eyes on.

Nick and Brin have weeks to steer clear of each other. Weeks to avoid strangling each other. But when stubbornness leads to skyrocketing sexual tension, hate-sex doesn’t seem like such an awful way to work through their frustration. Except hate is a powerful emotion, especially when it’s turned inward. And in Nick’s case he’s been drowning in a sea of self-loathing for so long, he can’t see his way out.

As Brin reconnects with Nick, his perception of what really happened in their past begins to change. He’s finally ready to forgive him and take a second chance on the one guy who stirs him like no other. But Nick’s demons are complicated, heart-wrenching…demanding. So devastating, he might never allow himself true happiness—even with the one man who’s always owned his heart.

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2rjELhF

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Regret Teaser 1

3 Regret Teaser

Tally pawed at the pillow for a few seconds before finally sinking down, apparently resigned to her position. I straightened to back out of the room, only then allowing my gaze to slide over Brin’s sleeping form. My pulse spiked when I noticed his eyes on me.

“Not sure Tally will want to sleep without you,” he rasped out. The words were like a thunderbolt to my chest. As if he was referring to more than the dog finding her way to my bed.

“Not sure I’ll want to sleep without her,” I replied in a hoarse voice, attempting to get my emotions under control.

Without you. Because you’ve taken up residence inside my heart once again. But maybe you’ve always been there, winding inside my rib cage, coiling around my lungs. Making it impossible to breathe, to think, to stop wanting.

As I turned to leave, his warm fingers curled around my wrist, searing into my skin. My breath caught in my throat. It was the first time he made the first move and my heart bloomed into an impossibly large bouquet of hope and aching desire inside my chest.

Our gazes snagged and held as his other hand slowly reached for the edge of the blanket and pulled it aside.

Regret (Under My Skin, Book #1) Christina Lee

This is a second chance kind of story between Nick and Brin, who went to high school together and crushed pretty hard on one another. Brin was the smart one and Nick a jock, which in high school, as we all know, doesn’t go so well…Also, Nick was closeted, but not because of typical reason’s… just trust me, it all makes sense.

My heart broke for Nick; for all he’d been through in his life. I couldn’t imagine such tragedy and to be honest, the few times I got frustrated with him, it was impossible not to understand where he was coming from, because… you could see the hurt in him, every second. He carried such guilt with him, it was impossible for him to see passed anything else. He knew he hurt Brin, he’d thought about him often over the years, but never seen him again, until his roommate Elijah offered their guest room to his friend from work…Who just happened to be Brin.

It’s rough at first, because like I said…Brin was hurt and angry at Nick and Nick, had such a low self-worth and he was hurting too. Brin didn’t make it easy on him, which hurt to read because you could see how remorseful Nick was. Brin didn’t know the facts though, he didn’t know what Nick was living with, then and now. Had he given him a chance to explain all those years ago, he might’ve but I feel like, it wasn’t their time then. I feel like Brin came back into Nick’s life at a time he really needed him and I was so happy when he finally confided in Brin.

This story was hard…I definitely shed a few tears during their journey, which isn’t really saying much because I’m a crier…but, it was so heartfelt and raw and heartbreaking and hopeful that you can’t help but to feel for both of these guys and their families. Similar in a way.

 

I loved seeing Brin’s family being so accepting, even though I saw the reservations his dad had, I was so glad that got worked out by the end. I loved Nick’s mom, being a mom myself, I couldn’t imagine seeing my kid in so much pain all the time, I felt like Nick needed her to set him free from everything he was carrying…And while she done what she could, Brin done the rest.

I don’t want to spoil too much of it and it’s so hard, especially when all I want to do is gush about it.

If you like second-chance romances with heartbreaking storylines and happy endings… you’ll love this one, as did I. I can’t wait to see what happens next for these guys and I’m really hoping for more about Elijah, and him getting away from his controlling boyfriend. Overall, it’s a great start to a really good series, I can’t wait to read more.

4 pieces of eye candy from me!

CL Pic

Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son–her two favorite guys. She’s addicted to lip balm, coffee, and kissing. Because everything is better with kissing.

She writes MM Contemporary as well as Adult and New Adult Romance. She believes in happily-ever-afters for all, so reading and writing romance for everybody under the rainbow helps quench her soul.

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FB FAN GROUP: THE SWOON ROOM

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

The Play of His Life by Amy Aslin: Exclusive Excerpt and Review

Former best friends turned lovers Christian and Riley haven’t seen or spoken to each other in six years…is there a better time than the holiday season to reconnect with your favorite person?

The last person Christian wants to run into on a visit home to spend time with his mom over the holidays is his former best friend-turned-lover-turned-ex. But there Riley is, in all his tall, chiseled, blondness. The same guy who walked out on him six years ago, breaking his heart in the process. Who knew he’s still in love with the jerk? (Oh yeah, he did. What? Who says denial isn’t healthy?)

Two years ago, Riley was injured out of the NHL, but he’s got his own bakery now and a quiet life selling quiches and cupcakes to his customers. Then Christian unexpectedly walks back into his life, forcing Riley to question his choices. Especially that one choice he made six years ago that walked him out of Christian’s life. Now if only he had the courage to tell a boy how he really feels about him…

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Riley woke up in Christian’s bed on Christmas morning.

Alone.

For a brief moment, he thought Christian was getting his revenge by abandoning him after an awesome night. A sex-free night, but an awesome one just the same. But that idea didn’t hold because, one: This was Christian’s house. And two: Christian might be a grumpy motherfucker, but he wasn’t an asshole. Not to Riley. Even when he’d broken up with Riley, Christian had been the nicest guy ever. Unstoppable tears dripping down his face, apologetic. Constantly reassuring Riley that this wasn’t his fault, that it was him, Christian, who couldn’t handle the separation.

Content to laze around in bed for a little while longer, he rolled onto his stomach and wished Christian was there so they could snuggle. The bedsheets smelled like him, a sort of woodsy scent Riley would forever associate with Christian.

Riley felt freer this morning. Like their talk last night had cleared the air between them and he could finally breathe without it feeling like he was trying to do so with a noose tied around his neck.

But seriously, where was Christian? Why wasn’t he snuggled up to Riley so they could rub one off on each other before they had to start their days?

“’Morning.”

Riley raised his head. His eyes were blurry with sleep but he could make Christian out, sitting in a wingback chair next to the closet, feet on a matching ottoman, laptop on his thighs. Wearing nothing but his boxer briefs and a scowl. Riley knuckled the sleep out of his eyes.

“Time’s it?” he asked, admiring the way the dark hair on Christian’s thighs and arms made them look so muscly. The size of those shoulders he could see over the laptop. His pouty mouth pursed in a frown. The disheveled dark hair that was, sadly, out of its pompadour style and hanging half in Christian’s face and half straight up in the air. He looked like the character with the crazy hair from Dragon Ball Z. Riley’s morning wood tried to convince him to make his way over there and straddle Christian’s lap. But mostly he was happy to lay here and admire him. He went all mushy inside when he realized that, at some point, Christian had put on his T necklace.

“Seven thirty.”

Oh, hell no. They’d spent hours talking after Christian’s mom interrupted what would’ve been a stupendous fucking blowjob, finally falling asleep at, like, three in the morning. Seven thirty was way too early. Riley let his head drop onto the pillow and closed his eyes.

“Come back to bed,” he said.

Christian grunted. “In a bit.”

Riley’s chest rumbled with annoyance. “What’re you doing?”

Come cuddle with me!

“Fixing your website.”

“Huh?” Riley popped an eye open. “What? Why?”

“Because it’s a piece of crap,” came the honest reply. Maybe Riley ought to rethink the whole not-an-asshole thing.

“Hey! I paid good money for that.”

Christian just looked at him.

“Fine,” Riley grumbled. “I did it myself.”

The tap-tap-tap of the keyboard reached his ears. It should’ve been annoying, but he found it oddly soothing. Maybe because he knew it meant Christian was right there, within reach. And he could finally relax and stop dwelling on the past.

“How’d you get my login info, anyway?”

“Please. You’ve had the same username and password since high school.”

And Christian remembered it. All these years later. Awww. Riley’s heart swam with affection.

Christian and Riley are exes, broken up 5-6 years ago, because they didn’t talk to each other.
This whole story was a big… WILL YOU JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER! lol, it was frustrating.
But also cute, because as best friends turned boyfriends’, I love the friendship and banter between the two, where they’re friends first and everything else second. The way they talk to each other and pick on each other is adorable…. especially about Christians fear of ghosts. Totally relatable, by the way.

Life happens when you’re young and trying to figure things out and it just didn’t work out for them the first time around, luckily, Christian is back in town and with some scheming from his Mom, who is hilarious, by the way…. he runs into Riley…. the love of his life and best friend.
These guys tripped me up because little things kept popping up to remind them of how much they’d loved each other and never stopped. The necklaces, the nicknames, the tattoo, the scrapbook and ticket stubs. I just wanted to cry for them and all their wasted time apart when they so obviously belonged together.

It wasn’t angsty, though I about threw my kindle towards the end when I thought one things that turned about to be another….. but it got worked out quickly. It was cute, and sweet and entertaining and this is the first read for me by this author and although it seemed a little too young adulty for me, for late 20s year olds, it was still well worth the read.
And a very happy ever after. I wouldn’t mind reading more about these two as they finally start their lives together as adults!

4 pieces of eye candy from me

Amy Aislin started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in Oakville, Ontario, she’s a marketer at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including traveling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. Amy loves live theatre (especially musicals), CW’s DC comic shows, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, Scotland (yes, the country), and her hometown of Oakville.

Connect with Amy:

Website: www.amyaislin.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AmyAislinAuthor

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

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/amyaislin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amyaislin/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16693566.Amy_Aislin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amy_aislin

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)

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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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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

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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

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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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Goodreads Link

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.