Count the Shells by Charlie Cochrane: Quick Review

A standalone Porthkennack historical novel

Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.

When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.

Word count: 66,000; page count: 246

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This book is part of a series that take place in the English seaside town of Porthkennack. Other authors in the series include Joanna Chambers and Alex Beecroft. This book wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t my favorite, in the series or otherwise.

Michael is a WWI veteran who’s returned to the summer home his family has stayed at since he was a child. While he has returned mostly unscathed physically, he’s haunted by both his experiences during the war as well as the fact that many of his former lovers and friends were left behind on the battlefields of Europe. He is especially broken over the wartime death of his first lover, Thomas, who died before the two could make amends after a falling out 10 years before. Understandably Michael is filled with regret over the unfinished business between them.

Enter Thomas’ younger brother Harry, whom Michael hasn’t seen in many years and who he remembers as the pesky kid that followed him and Thomas around every summer. But Harry is now older, wiser and considerably more attractive and the two embark on a friendship that quickly turns to more. Secrets involving both families are revealed leaving Michael reeling as he learns that perhaps his relationship with Thomas wasn’t mutually meaningful.

Most of the angst in this story is internal to Michael, as he tries to reconcile what he thought he knew about Thomas and what he’s learned about Thomas from Harry. Michael is also afraid that he may experience the same heartbreak with Harry.

I love that the setting is post-WWI; there aren’t enough gay romances during that time period. I also love that the books in this series take place in the same town at different points in time. The supporting characters are okay; the heroes don’t change much from begin to end. It was a sweet story, but I tend to prefer more external angst and action than the hero having to work things out in his own head before giving me an HEA (which this one does.)

2.5 pieces of eye candy

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From Upstairs to Downstairs by J.P. Bowie: Quick Review

When everything is taken from you, including the memory of who you are, what possible chance is there for happiness?

Edward Lazenby has it all – a rich grandfather, a beautiful home, days spent riding his favorite horse in Hyde Park. What he doesn’t have, and feels he never will, is handsome Thomas Marsden, a man who, at first, seems repulsed by Edward’s forwardness when they meet. Dalliances with members of the same sex in Victorian England can lead to scandal or even imprisonment, so Edward and a few close friends have formed their own Club where they can meet without fear of persecution.

When Edward’s grandfather dies, Edward is heir to his estate but before he can lay claim to it, he is brutally assaulted, his injuries resulting in complete memory loss. Months later, Thomas Marsden finds him working as a stable boy on a country estate. Thomas takes him back to London, hoping to find a way to have Edward’s memory restored to him, and remind him that just before he disappeared, they had declared their affection for each other.

Can the two men build a life together or will Edward’s disability be too much of a hurdle to happiness?

General Release Date: 24th October 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78651-610-7

Imprint: Pride Publishing

Pairing: MM Book

Length: Novel

Genre: Erotic Romance, Gay, Historical

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This is a historical romance about Edward, his wealthy grandfather’s heir, and Thomas, a new friend that Edward is wildly attracted to but is unsure if their preferences are aligned since Thomas is engaged to be married. Fear not, the two do in fact have a mutual attraction and just when things begin to look promising for the pair, Edward is brutally attacked by thieves and left for dead. We later find him on a country estate with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Edward’s friends are left grieving after his disappearance as evidence of the crime point to Edward having been killed, and Thomas just can’t get over him. Eventually Edward is found and brought back to his home. It’s a long, slow recovery as he attempts, with the help of Thomas, to remember his former life, and solve the mystery of who tried to have him killed and why.

This book is pretty smooth sailing as far as the romance goes. These two like each other, aren’t afraid to tell each other so, they find each other again and while Edward doesn’t exactly remember Thomas, they start on sexy times right away. Which may or may not squick you out, but I was fine with that. There is some mystery as to the reason for the attack but everything is solved rather speedily. A perfectly easy, quick read that has some nice love scenes and won’t cause too much angst for the reader.

3 pieces of eye candy

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Count the Shells by Charlie Cochrane: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, and Giveaway

Michael Gray returned from World War One injured, but at least he returned. Others were not so fortunate, including his first and greatest love, Thomas Carter-Clemence, with whom Michael had parted bitterly before the conflict began.

Broch, the Carter-Clemence home in Porthkennack, was an integral part of pre-war holidays for the Grays, the two families drawn together in the wake of their sons’ friendship. Returning to the once-beloved Cornish coast for a break with his sister and her family, Michael has to find the courage to face old memories . . . and dare new relationships.

When Thomas’s brother Harry makes an unexpected appearance, Michael is surprised to find himself deeply attracted to Harry for his own sake. But as their relationship heats up, it unearths startling revelations and bitter truths. Michael must decide whether Harry is the answer to his prayers or the last straw to break an old soldier’s back.​

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Count the Shells is the story which completely astounded its author in the telling. I had no idea when I sat down to write it that the straightforward historical romance I’d envisaged would turn out to have a plot twist which transformed the story into possibly the best tale I’ve ever crafted.

 

The Great War – where do I start to research it?

If you were to say to me, “Charlie, old thing, I’m interested in finding out more about World War One. Where should I begin?” I’d respond, “Whatever you do, don’t start with a history text book!” Not unless you’re really interested in what battle took place where and which regiments were involved or which governments did what and when. That may be precisely your cup of tea, but I can’t say it’s mine. For me, the bigger picture is just the setting for the characters, and those details are only relevant when they impact on part of an individual’s life story. It’s the people who interest me: what they did, the experiences they lived through, and the effect these things had on them.

When it comes to finding those things out, there are a wealth of resources and some of the very best get as close to the source material as possible. All history is clearly seen at one or more removes, and as it reaches us it’ll have gone through one or more filters, as people relate the things they want us to hear and which support whichever view they’re taking. You have to remember this with whatever material you look at or listen to, but the fewer steps between you and the “eye witness”, the better.

So, here are some of my top resources:

  • War poetry. All of it from the jingoistic to the deeply cynical, and other poems written by notable poets of the era. (When we studied Wilfred Owen at school, nobody mentioned his homoerotic works, some of which are stunning and which put a new context on his more famous war poetry.)
  • The “Voices from…” series of books which uses testimonies from men and woman who lived/fought/sailed/flew in the era. The detais this provides is staggering.
  • Biographies, but not just of the big political or military names of the era. There are some great books about army chaplains, ordinary soldiers, even real war horses!
  • Diaries, letters, artwork from the era. One of the most moving books I’ve read is “Scrimgeour’s Scribbling Diary” which are the wartime writings (made strictly against protocol) of a midshipman. The abrupt end of entries is the most poignant reminder of the terrible loss of young lives.

 

About Porthkennack

Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.

Check out Porthkennack! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack

 

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:

To celebrate the release of Count the Shells, one lucky winner will receive a goodie bag from Charlie Cochrane, including postcards (new and vintage), a recipe book, bookmark, pencils, a fridge magnet and various other doodahs! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 21, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

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Yuletide Truce by Sandra Schwab: Blog Tour, Exclusive Excerpt, New Release Review and Giveaway

London, 1845

It’s December, Alan “Aigee” Garmond’s favorite time of the year, when the window display of the small bookshop where he works fills up with crimson Christmas books and sprays of holly. Everything could be perfect — if it weren’t for handsome Christopher Foreman, the brilliant writer for the fashionable magazine About Town, who has taken an inexplicable and public dislike to Aigee’s book reviews.

But why would a man such as Foreman choose to target reviews published in a small bookshop’s magazine? Aigee is determined to find out. And not, he tells himself, just because he finds Foreman so intriguing.

Aigee’s quest leads him from smoke-filled ale-houses into the dark, dingy alleys of one of London’s most notorious rookeries. And then, finally, to Foreman. Will Aigee be able to wrangle a Yuletide truce from his nemesis?

Title: Yuletide Truce

Publisher: Sandra Schwab

Release Date (Print & Ebook): 22 September 2017

Length (Print & Ebook): 18,000 words

Subgenre: historical romance, Victorian romance, mm romance, holiday romance

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Cute quick little Holiday read. Aigee works in a bookshop where he writes book reviews for the shop’s magazine. Aigee’s thoughtful reviews reflect his deep love of not just the stories themselves but the artwork accompanying them. Handsome Christopher Foreman is a rival magzine’s book reviewer who seems to have it out not just for Aigee, but his magazine and book reviews as well.

There’s no hope for these two getting along until one night when Aigee saves Foreman from a beating and robbery by two street urchins. From there, things progress quickly where the two begin to want to know each other better and move on from past reciprocal hurts.

Like I said, super fast read, it’s really kind of a quick study of two people over a span of a week or so. In other words, there’s not going to be much character development here, but for the length, there were still a couple of nice love scenes.

3 pieces of eye candy

This was such a sweet solid story. Definitely showed the type of research this author did on everything from clothing to locations, even to vocations in England in 1845.

The author did a great job of character development of Aigee-the story is told from his point of view-in such a short amount of words. We learn about his childhood, his mother’s illness, even how he came to work in a bookstore. I also liked that he recognized that he was gay, and didn’t try to hide away how he felt from himself.

As he and Kit recognized their attraction for each other, and the story came to a close, they acknowledged that they would work to be friends, and perhaps more. It wasn’t a “I love only you, forever and ever”, which was perfect for the confident Aigee, and the fact that they had only really known each other a short time. It was a good way to continue their relationship, allowing it to grow.

I’d love to see how these two continue to build on that relationship, with an update at some point. This was well-written, with fantastic descriptions of locations. Recommended for those looking for a quick holiday read.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Even at this late hour, the streets were full of people, carts, and carriages, and the never-ending din of iron wheels and hooves made conversation impossible on the main thoroughfares. But they could walk side by side, and because the pavements were so crowded, nobody took any notice of two men walking close enough for their shoulders to brush. Indeed, close enough that they could occasionally link their little fingers or brush a thumb over the back of the other’s hand, each touch lasting no longer than a heartbeat. And yet it was enough to stoke Aigee’s desire until he felt he was burning up with it.

The walk to his lodgings had never seemed that long.

They didn’t meet anybody on the stairs, and then, finally, they were in Aigee’s room, and he could close the door behind them. He slid the bolt home and turned. “So—”

The next moment, he found himself pressed back against the wood, with Kit’s mouth on his in hot demand, Kit’s hands on his jaw, cupping his face.

Aigee made a sound of surprise, but then opened his lips quite willingly for Kit’s onslaught. With his hands on Kit’s slim hips, he drew the man further against himself until they touched chest to thigh.

“Hmm…”

One of his hands went to Kit’s arse, encouraging his hips to cant up against him, while Kit deepened their kiss. Greedily, Aigee swallowed his moans. He inserted a thigh between Kit’s, pressing upward, and was rewarded with more muffled moans and groans.

“You!” With a breathless laugh, Kit tore his mouth away and drew back a little. “You.” He trailed a hand that wasn’t quite steady down the side of Aigee’s face. “Calling me a wicked man and then proceeding to drive me insane with all those little touches on the way here.” He gave Aigee a short, hard kiss. “It would have served you right if I had started to rip off your clothes in the middle of the street.”

Aigee grinned, feeling ridiculously pleased with himself. “That would have caused a bit of a scandal,” he said mildly.

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now, she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances (some of which she now uses to shamelessly fangirl over Punch, her favorite Victorian magazine).

She holds a PhD in English literature, and in autumn 2015, she appeared on the BBC documentary Great Continental Railway Journeys to talk about another favorite topic of hers, the Grimms’ fairy tales (while walking through a rather muddy stretch of the Black Forest) (there were a lot of slugs, too).

She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.

Connect with Sandra:

Website: http://www.sandraschwab.com

Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/k4j3w6

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScribblingSandy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SandraSchwab.Author/

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SandraSchwab


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Changing Tides by Alex Standish: Release Day Review and Giveaway

While most pirates sail in search of riches, Captain Devon Hall, the infamous Phantom of the Caribbean, is driven by vengeance. Devon has sworn to put an end to the corrupt governor of Jamaica and break the ruthless man’s stranglehold in the Caribbean.

When Devon is wounded and stranded on land, an unlikely rescuer comes to his aid. Brett Campbell is nothing like his uncle, the governor, and his goals are not so different from Devon’s. Brett longs for freedom, but his obligations to protect those under his uncle’s control keep him from fleeing. Throwing in with Devon might increase both their chances of success—and survival.

When the governor’s attempts to destroy Devon escalate and place Brett in danger and in the hands of the ruthless and depraved pirate Captain Blackburn, Devon must risk everything to save the man he loves and repay his enemies.

All Devon’s ever wanted is his ship, his freedom, friends who stand by his side through thick and thin, and someone to love. But facing dangers at sea and on land, Devon wonders if they will live to enjoy it all.

Title: Changing Tides
Author: Alex Standish
Release Date: August 16, 2017
Category: Historical: Americas
Pages: TBD (Novella)

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Changing Tides tells the tale of Devon, a notorious pirate known as the Phantom of the Caribbean who’s the captain of The Flying Horse. He and his crew do what pirates do, that is sail around looking for ships to commandeer and plunder. In between pirating, he’s got it in for the governor of Jamaica, Rupert Campbell, who Devon responsible for his father’s death, and is always looking for opportunity to take the guy down. The book opens with Devon wounded but stumbling his way to the Governor’s mansion where he is found by Brett, the Governor’s nephew. Brett nurses Devon back to health and during his recovery, he and Brett grow fond of each other. Naturally these two are going to have a bit of a hard time getting this thing off the ground, and before they can do much, the governor returns and Devon must flee. What follows is a pirating adventure that sort of reminded me of the classic Treasure Island: hidden treasure, an old map, adventure, ship battles, kidnappings, revenge, the high seas.

There were so many elements that would make me like this book: Pirates, romance, fights, rescue, bad guys getting their comeuppance…but I did not love this. The writing is a bit stilted and the details are kind of bland. I didn’t really feel anything for the characters or the romance. There’s a lot of tell, not show, here and conversations just don’t feel quite natural. There are a few love scenes, but at one point, Brett is half dead and it feels kind of icky for them to be attempting sexy times. This feels like an early writing attempt as far as dialogue and writing style go, but the plot wasn’t horrible. In fact, thinking back to Treasure Island, the style of writing is similar in that there’s lots of action and plot, and it’s much less character driven — not my favorite thing. Still, the good parts were okay and the less good parts really weren’t the worst I’ve read. I’d give the author another try in the future.

2.75 pieces of eye candy


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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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Swift for the Sun by Karen Bovenmyer: Exclusive Excerpt, Review and Giveaway

swift for the sunsynopsisBenjamin Lector imagines himself a smuggler, a gun runner, and an all-around scoundrel. A preacher’s son turned criminal, first and foremost, he is a survivor.

When Benjamin is shipwrecked on Dread Island, fortune sends an unlikely savior—a blond savage who is everything Benjamin didn’t know he needed. Falling in love with Sun is easy. But pirates have come looking for the remains of Benjamin’s cargo, and they find their former slave, Sun, instead.

Held captive by the pirates, Benjamin learns the depths of Sun’s past and the horrors he endured and was forced to perpetrate. Together, they must not only escape, but prevent a shipment of weapons from making its way to rebellious colonists. Benjamin is determined to save the man he loves and ensure that a peaceful future together is never threatened again. To succeed might require the unthinkable—an altruistic sacrifice.

Title: Swift for the Sun
Author: Karen Bovenmyer
Release Date: March 27, 2017
Category: Historical: Americas
Pages: 230

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excerpt

SWIFT FOR THE SUN Exclusive Excerpt from Chapter 12: Sacrifice

Hours later I woke in the dark alone, and a terrible feeling of foreboding made breathing hard. I felt my way over to the corner. Sun’s spear was still there. I felt better for a moment, until I thought things through, and the realization made my skin prickle. He was gone. And he’d left his weapon behind.

Oh no. Oh God no.

I don’t remember the trip from the tree house to the beach. I only remember the bottom dropping out of my world as I stood holding his spear, then the utter blackness of the night jungle, and then crouching where the tree line ended at the band of sand surrounding our island like a shackle.

The Portuguese had a fire going again.

The smell of roast pig filled the night. I felt nauseous when I realized the source must be Ernest.

The big man, Martio, loomed by the fire. He stood looking into the night while everyone else ate and drank. I almost yelled a warning when I saw what Martio was staring at.

Sun stepped out of the forest shadows, his lean body bathed in the flickering light of the fire. He looked naked in his loincloth compared to the pirates, and the fire lit up his golden skin and braids like the Greek’s Helios or Rome’s Sol Invictus. His hands were empty, arms at his sides with palms facing out to show he had no weapons.

Two sentries at the edge of the light pointed their guns at him, but Martio held up his hand.

“Come,” the big man said in his native tongue, and Sun walked with fluid grace into the camp. There was no trace of the trembling fear I’d seen in him when we’d hidden in the bushes together. It was as though making up his mind to come to the fireside of his former masters had also banished his terror.

The other pirates gathered around, the more drunk glaring through squinted eyes, as if working hard to figure out who the newcomer was.

“Sóli,” Martio said. I watched open surprise and recognition mingle on his face. It was quickly replaced by a narrowing that spoke of both greed and desire. Clearly Sun was someone, something, he valued.

Martio sunk into a fighter’s crouch as Sun approached, and Sun mirrored him. The big man was more than twice Sun’s bulk, but he moved with a grace that looked just as deadly. I held my breath and imagined them fighting, Sun would be quicker, but I had the feeling Martio would be tireless as well as stronger.

“You remember well.” Martio stopped circling, straightened, and laughed, the sound booming across the beach. Sun straightened too, but he didn’t laugh. He watched Martio like a snake watches a boot, ready to strike if a man steps too close. This didn’t escape Martio’s notice. In fact, he seemed to expect it, like it, a smile curving his full, cruel lips. He stepped away from the roast hog with a chuckle, leaving a wide space.

“Join us.” He sat and indicated a place by the fire next to him—I didn’t like how long his reach was. Sun’s eyes flicked to the sentries, who still stared, mouths gaping. Martio waved their muskets down. The men obeyed without argument, but I noticed they didn’t sling their weapons. Everyone in the camp watched Sun as he crossed the short distance and crouched by the fire.

Martio gave him a generous piece of hog off the spit, and Sun took the steaming meat from him and tore into it with his straight, white teeth. For reasons unknown to me, Martio found this gladsome and laughed again. He touched one of the braids tailing down Sun’s back and ran it through his fingers. It reminded me of someone inspecting a horse for soundness. There was a look in Martio’s eyes I didn’t like, and for a moment I fantasized skewering him with Sun’s spear.

Sun casually took his braid back and rotated on the balls of his feet so he faced Martio directly. I couldn’t see the expression on his face from where I was, but Martio stopped laughing and instead watched him eat for long moments.

“Why are you here?” Martio’s voice was low but rumbled through the clearing.

“I want you to leave.” Sun’s voice was steady, easy to hear. His Portuguese was perfect, his accent very slight.

“Why would we do that?” Martio grinned at him like Sun was a child asking for an indulgence.

Sun chewed and didn’t answer him.

“We’re looking for a man,” Martio said as he held up the charred wing from the Sea Swift’s prow. “Have you seen him?”

. I have seen him.” Again, Sun’s voice was clear. I tensed. Had I been wrong to trust him? Had he only been waiting for the right moment to turn me in? No, I would not believe that.

To a man, the pirates looked out into the night past the circle of light. I felt eyes raking the darkness where I lay.

“Where is he?”

“If I take you to him, will you leave my island?”

Martio’s eyes narrowed as he searched Sun’s face. What he looked for, I couldn’t say.

“This is not your island.” Martio’s voice deepened with the ring of command.

Sun shrugged and tore another piece off the meat. Martio no longer thought this was so amusing.

“He belongs to us. He owes us.”

Sun shrugged again.

“Show us this man.” Martio stood.

“It’s dark.” Sun stood too and reached down to pull a piece of flaming wood from the fire. He turned it slowly in his hands, considering it.

“Torches,” Martio ordered.

I kept as low as I could in the undergrowth. All the men on the beach gathered into a scouting party. The atmosphere turned festive, and the bottles of liquor were brought as well. The men seemed to regard the outing as a hunt. There was no other choice—when they passed, Sun leading them into the forest, I followed.

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denise review

Wow! I’m really not sure where to start with this review. I will qualify it by saying I love historicals as a general rule. It is what I started reading back as a teenager. The true “bodice-rippers” that I got from who knows where, and sometimes would read over and over. I’ve read a few since I’ve started reading exclusively m/m, and they have always been good. This one knocked it out of the park for me, though.

First, I must touch on the research. Now I didn’t follow up to make sure all of Karen Bovenmyer’s historical accuracy was there, but enough of it was what I knew to be true to the history of the time, that I imagine most of the rest of it was. Either the author has a history degree, which it appears from her bio that she does not, or she spent an incredible amount of time researching the locations, the cultures, the people and the time. I was astonished at the level of detail she gave, and yet I didn’t feel overwhelmed with words. I could visualize exactly what I was reading, and with such a beautiful locale to read about, it was a great vacation of the senses. In addition there was quite a cast of characters in this book, all very different, both physically (well except for two 😉 ) and personality-wisse, yet I could almost see each character as a separate person.

I’ll admit there were a few times, I considered taking a break from the book. Not because it wasn’t well-written, but for the exact opposite reason! She wrote situations so real for the time, and with such precision that some of it was tough to read. I knew there was a happy ending at the end of Swift for the Sun, but these characters went through so much to get there that I wondered if I could make it without crying. (Final Answer: No.)

The heartbreak of watching all that Sun went through before he found Benjamin made me wonder how he had any humanity intact by that point. A lesser man would have been the savage that Benjamin thought he was, and later learned he was on the edge of. Yet Benjamin saw the beauty inside Sun, and never let his light be diminished.

This book isn’t an easy book to read in some ways. And in so many others ways, I can’t imagine a love story that would shine brighter than the gemstone this book turned out to be.

5 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

 

Bovenmyer_Karen credit Chris Gannon ARCHAuthor Short Bio:

Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writers Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her poems, short stories and novellas appear in more than 40 publications and her first novel, SWIFT FOR THE SUN, an LGBT romantic adventure in 1820s Caribbean, will be available from Dreamspinner Press on March 27, 2017. http://karenbovenmyer.com/

Social Media Links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenbovenmyer

https://www.facebook.com/karen.bovenmyer

https://twitter.com/karenbovenmyer

 

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The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian: Blog Tour, and Giveaway

Two men only meant for each other.

 

Releasing Sept 20th, 2016
Avon Impulse

 

synopsis

A scoundrel who lives in the shadows.

 Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London’s slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.

A soldier untarnished by vice.

After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a
gentleman’s life-one that doesn’t include sparring with a ne’er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack’s pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they’re
together.

Two men only meant for each other

 
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meet the author

Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.

 

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Re-Inventing Love by Storm Grant: Promo Stop

Author: Storm Grant
Genre: Historical M/M Romance
Publisher: MLR Press
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synopsis
Engineer and assistant inventor Maximilian Grün is in love with his employer, but he daren’t reveal the truth. It’s 1910 and if Canadian authorities learned of his homosexuality, they’d deport him back to Germany where the country of his birth would become the country of his death.
When promising young inventor and mathematician Dr. Jasper Hamilton expresses his own feelings for Max, the young German regretfully declines. He cannot risk their partnership, their reputations—their very lives!
Then a rival inventor sabotages their inventions. Jasper is caught between the physical and the metaphysical, reduced to atoms, and transported to the spirit plane! Max is devastated, deeply regretting his lost chances.
But Jasper manages to communicate across the aether, telling Max he must reverse the machine’s polarity. But without Jasper’s talent for mathematics, the calculations defeat him.
Can the would-be lovers bridge the gap between life and death to finally be together?
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excerpt
He steeled himself against his desire to grab the man and kiss him soundly. Instead, he settled for leaning even further into Max.

Max made no attempt to draw away.

They sat side-by-side. Was Max’s breathing quickening? But Jasper’s own thudding heartbeat and shaky breaths masked all other sounds. He cleared his throat again and pointed to the rough sketch on his desk.

“If we were to reroute the electrical current through an asbestos filter prior to it connecting with the element, we may be able to regulate heat without having to monitor it quite so vigilantly.” Jasper tapped the page.

Max leant forward, his shoulder sliding along Jasper’s own. “Ja. Yes. It could work. Not with the insulated wires you haff drawn here, but with…” He snatched up a pencil, scrawling quick, firm marks on the page.

Jasper relaxed. Tuning out the engineer’s words, he rode the cadence of the accented voice like a wave. He fought his smile, but lost. It was so good to have a partner on whom he could rely.

If only there was a way for them to be more than working partners.
meet the author

STORM GRANT pens long and short tales. Her work spans genders and genres, offering good guys and bad puns. Her alter ego, Gina X. Grant, writes funny urban fantasy.

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Sweet William by Dianne Hartsock: Blog Tour, Guest Post and Giveaway

 

Sweet William_600x956synopsis

William Wilkerson leads the life of the privileged rich. Head of his father’s shipping business, he indulges to his heart’s content in the pleasures of the flesh with Boston’s finest young men.

That is, until he reunites with Fredrick: his former tutor and the one man who captured his heart.

But William’s father has declared Fredrick off limits. And Fredrick, himself, believes he’s beneath the attention of the Wilkerson heir.

After having lost his current pupil to graduation, and with no prospects of a replacement, Frederick is homeless, hungry, and easy pickings for the men on the docks.

When Frederick is shanghaied into service on William’s own merchant ship, will William discover his plight in time to rescue him?

Title: Sweet William

Author: Dianne Hartsock

Genre: Gay Romance, Historical Romance

Length: Novella

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

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WIP

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Guest Post

Thank you, Two Chicks, for hosting me today. In my story, SWEET WILLIAM, William is the pampered eldest son of a shipping merchant and has come to Boston to check over the cargo arriving on one of their ships. This is how he might spend a typical Sunday morning.

 

William stifles a yawn and leans back on the church bench to catch the ray of sunlight filtering through the stained glass. The minister’s voice becomes a pleasant murmur in his ear, unintelligible, lulling him toward sleep and a dream of brown eyes in a serious face.

His head bobs, startling him awake, and he catches Tiggy’s amused glance from across the aisle and sits up. Good heavens! Had he been drooling? His dream had become heated rather quickly.

His neighbors on the bench don’t seem to see anything amiss with him, and his heartbeat evens out as the minister brings his sermon to a resounding close. Organ music fills the church and William files out behind the others to make small talk in the yard with the various families connected with his own, mostly friends of his father.

Finally he makes his escape and Tiggy catches up with him on the path running behind the church along the riverbank. The air has grown warm and he loosens his cravat, wishing he could remove his coat as well.

“The minister had an interesting sermon today,” Tiggy offers, voice full of laughter, and William flashes him a rueful grin.

“If someone hadn’t kept me up late at cards—”

Tiggy throws up his hands. “Don’t blame me for falling asleep! And by the look of bliss on your face, it wasn’t me you were dreaming of.”

William snorts, but couldn’t deny his words. They walk a moment in silence, William enjoying the flash of sunlight through the trees, sparkling on the swift moving water. The air smells of roses and dry grass. He wonders if Fredrick would enjoy a picnic in the park this afternoon.

It hardly registers when Tiggy takes his arm, but then he suddenly pulls William between two trees, into the graveyard attached to the church. They’re in an older section of the yard and large headstones surround them. Tiggy pushes him up against one and William willingly parts his lips when Tiggy’s familiar tongue seeks entrance. They pass a pleasant few minutes this way, then Tiggy pulls back with obvious reluctance.

He traces William’s lips with his thumb. “You’re thinking of him again.”

“I’m sorry, dear. I don’t mean to ignore you.”

“Never mind. I’m happy for you, in a way. I’ve never seen you this taken with anyone before.”

They part after one last lingering kiss, and William watches him depart with mixed feelings. They’ve been friends for years, intimate for most of them. He’ll miss Tiggy’s sweet flirtations. A robin flies passed him, chased into the trees by another. William’s lips curl into a smile. Maybe he’ll walk downtown and see if Freddie is free for lunch.

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meet the author

DIANNE HARTSOCK is the author of m/m erotic romance, both contemporary and fantasy, the psychological thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. Oh, and a floral designer. If she can’t be writing, at least she has the chance to create through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Currently, Dianne lives in the Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play.

Social links

Website: https://diannehartsock.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/diannehartsock

Twitter: https://twitter.com/diannehartsock

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

 

 

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