Get a Grip by L.A. Witt: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post and Giveaway

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Get a Grip, the latest Bluewater Bay story!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Get a Grip) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 29th, and winners will be announced on July 30th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

 

If a tree falls in Bluewater Bay . . . could it be fate?

A year after his divorce, Shane Andrews isn’t interested in dating—not that he has time, between three kids and a demanding job as a grip. When a windstorm knocks a tree onto one of the Wolf’s Landing soundstages, Shane’s there to help with the mess . . . and so is firefighter Aaron Tucker.

A former smoke jumper, Aaron’s an adrenaline junkie and way too restless and reckless to be relationship material. As far as he’s concerned, monogamy is for penguins, and he’d rather be alone than tied down. Signing up to be a stepparent? No, thank you.

But after a scorching-hot night together, they’re hooked. Aaron is a taste of the excitement Shane’s been lacking, and Shane’s pushing buttons Aaron didn’t know he had. The more they’re together, the less Aaron craves wild nights with other men . . . but the more Shane wants to play the field like he never got to in his twenties.

This could be the love neither man knew he needed, but only if Shane gets his feet back on the ground before Aaron walks away.

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

Writing in an Established Series

Writing in an established universe definitely has some challenges. When that universe is shared, there are even more. But it’s a ton of fun, too, which is why I’ve done it twice (first with Tucker Springs, now with Bluewater Bay), and will probably do it again in the future.

An equal parts pro and con is that you don’t have complete control over your universe. If it’s a shared world, you have other people working on it, which means keeping track of the town’s layout, if that restaurant on First Street is still in business or if one of the other authors burned it down two books ago, etc.  With so many people involved in Bluewater Bay, we kept a couple of detailed “bibles” on Google Docs, which we could all access to make sure we had our stories straight.

That can make things challenging, of course, but it can also make things easier. When I want my characters to go on a romantic date, it’s entirely possible another author has already created a restaurant that fits the bill. So I just send my characters to that place and don’t have to worry about naming it, establishing the atmosphere, etc. So it’s a bit of a shortcut!

Similarly, you can have characters introduced by other authors. In Get a Grip, Shane meets a couple of swingers, Simon and Lydia. They’ll be front and center in Anna Zabo’s book, Outside the Lines. And in turn, Anna introduces Jesse, the assistant manager at the Simon and Lydia’s comic book shop, and Jesse will be one of the main characters of my next book in the series, New Hand.

Basically what it boils down to is that you have to make sure you’re consistent with other authors, and you have to keep track of details from one book to the next, but you’ve also got people establishing cast and setting along the way, which can make things really fun. So yes, shared and established universes certainly have their challenges, but they’re really a lot of fun. I don’t know when or where my next shared universe will pop up, but there will definitely be more of them.

About Bluewater Bay

Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.

Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by eleven award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield,  Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, G.B. Gordon, Jaime Samms and Ally Blue. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.

Check out Bluewater Bay! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/bluewater-bay

 

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

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

To celebrate the release of Get a Grip, one lucky winner will receive their choice of two ebooks off L.A.’s backlist and a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 29, 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.

All Wheel Drive by ZA Maxfield: Blog Tour, Exclusive Author Interview and Giveaway

Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.

Diego is recovering too—from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss. And that’s just how he likes it.

Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matters.

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

Kobo Books

Hi Z.A. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

 

Hi, and thanks so much for allowing me to be part of your blog with my latest novel, All Wheel Drive. I’m Z.A. Maxfield, and I’ve been writing m/m romance since about 2007, when my kids dared me to make my dream of being a writer come true.

We had a long talk that day about the difference between being a person who follows their bliss, and being a person who looks at their bliss from a long way away hoping their bliss will follow them and I’ve been following mine ever since.

All Wheel Drive is a companion book to Hell On Wheels. The main characters are twins, something I know a little bit about because I’m the mother of twin boys. Most of the twins in my books are identical, like mine, and differ because one is right-handed and one left-handed. Apparently that’s my thing! I’ve written this character combo more than once.

  • Do you pay attention to literary criticism? If so, how do you handle it?

I like to think that I’m levelheaded, but like most writers, I take criticism poorly and personally and PRIVATELY–I enjoy a little whine with friends.

That said, reviews don’t reflect the books themselves, but rather the reader’s experience with the book, and therefore I truly consider it none of my business unless a reader wants to make it my business by bringing it to my attention.

These two ideas are like X and Y coordinates, and at any one point in time, depending on a thousand different variables my functionality can be plotted somewhere on that grid…

  • How do you come up with your titles?

Titles sometimes come to me all snappy and premade. All Wheel Drive made perfect sense, because it’s a follow up to Hell On Wheels, and one of the main characters is a driven man in a wheelchair. Crossing Borders was about the bookstore. I’m oblivious too! I thought Drawn Together was brilliant until I realized it was a television show…

  • What new authors have grasped your interest?

They’re not new authors, but recently, I’ve discovered Annabeth Albert and Tibby Armstrong, both of whom I got to meet and chat with at RT Booklover’s Convention. So fun!

  • What is the hardest part about writing in an established series such as Bluewater Bay? One that has tons of characters, and locations people have read before.

For me it was a little daunting to include characters other writers created. In this book, I used Heather’s men from Burnt Toast B&B. You want to be super-true to someone else’s vision and honor their creations as much as possible (while still using their characters like puppets for your own megalomaniacal ends.)

  • And now the fun one. Name the four things you would bring with you to a deserted island.

IF I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be marooned on the island by myself forever, and IF it was sort of a magical place where I didn’t need to fend off wild boars, I would bring sunscreen, a kindle stocked with every single book I’ve ever purchased (including all the books I bought in print before ebooks), as much water as I need to survive, and a never ending bowl of individual handfuls of Trader Joe’s assorted trail mixes.

Thanks for stopping by! I love that answer, practical and still fun. 🙂

I didn’t read the first book, Hell on Wheels, yet, although after reading the story of Diego and Healey,  I am most curious about Healey’s twin brother, Nash and Spencer’s story. Nash was a big part of Healey’s book, and getting to know him was fun.

There must have been an incredible amount of research that went into this by the author. This was not a story where Diego “miraculously” got feeling back in his lower body. This included the challenges that someone with a spinal cord injury faces day to day life. They can have a sex life, just not the way someone who doesn’t have a SCI does. Yet, Healey, having a sister with her own SCI didn’t care about any of that. He wanted to find out what Diego wanted, what felt good to Diego, and the author did not mince words on what it would take for someone with Diego’s injuries to face all those challenges. It was good to have a realistic outlook on someone who lives every day with an injury like that.

Healey, meanwhile, was a mess of his own, and I honestly didn’t know what to think when I “met” him. He really was someone who wanted to care for those he loved, even to his own detriment. He respected Diego, and his independence, but always wanted to care for those around him in whatever way was necessary, as we learn later when the full import of his “accident” comes to light.

I didn’t always know where this story was going. It seemed to hit on areas I wasn’t expecting or didn’t find to be necessary to the story. However, I did find that although these two had a lot in common, their differences complimented each other as well.

I did enjoy meeting both their families, as they were all characters in their own way, bringing an additional dimension to the story, and creating more depth into Healey and Diego’s lives.

4 pieces of eye candy

About Bluewater Bay

Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.

Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by eleven award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield,  Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, G.B. Gordon, Jaime Samms and Ally Blue. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.

Check it out at Riptide Publishing! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/bluewater-bay

Z.A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back.  Pathologically disorganized and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends.  If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four manages to find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

Her published books include Crossing Borders, Epic Award finalist St. Nacho’s, Drawn Together, ePistols at Dawn, Notturno, Stirring Up Trouble, and Vigil.

Readers can visit her website at http://www.zamaxfield.com, and contact her at zamaxfield@zamaxfield.com.

To celebrate the release of All Wheel Drive, one lucky winner will receive an ecopy of Hell on Wheels and a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 15, 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.

Love and Other Hot Beverages by Laurie Loft: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post and Giveaway

After a rough breakup, Todd Addison wants time alone to grieve. While still dreaming of winning back his ex’s love, he moves across the country and finds work with a construction company. The last thing he needs is the cute office boy developing a crush on him, especially since he’s back in the closet.

Sebastián Nye can’t help feeling sorry for the obviously brokenhearted Todd. Though rebuffed repeatedly, Sebby chisels away at Todd’s resistance, determined to help him forget—a task potentially beyond anyone’s capabilities. He never meant to fall for the poor guy, but he does. Hard.

Desperate to hold on to Todd, Sebby hatches a sneaky plot guaranteed to end Todd’s heartbreak—if Todd doesn’t bail and ruin everything. Just when things can’t get more complicated, Todd’s ex wants him back. And Sebby’s abusive ex is just waiting to catch Sebby alone. Todd and Sebby must decide what’s worth fighting for, what’s worth sacrifice, and what’s worth compromise, or their relationship will begin and end with a broken heart.

Amazon

Riptide Books

I’m Laurie Loft, author of Love and Other Hot Beverages. Welcome to my blog tour, and thanks for being here! I’m excited to give out super cool prizes to two people who make thoughtful comments to any of my blog posts: one French press (an item which features prominently in my novel), and a $15.00 Starbucks gift card. Either way, you’ll enjoy plenty of hot beverages!

There’ll be seven posts in which I’ll discuss my book as well as unrelated items. Comment, and we can get to know each other a little better.

THE COVER FOR LOVE AND OTHER HOT BEVERAGES

Have you ever bought a book with a stupid cover? I have! So, yeah, we judge books by their covers, but sometimes we look past them.

Have you ever bought a book based solely on the cover? I have! And been disappointed? Mainly if the cover is misleading.

My cover is spot-on. Sweet, romantic, unsure. Notice the hands aren’t grasping each other. The fingers aren’t knitted together. It’s as if one hand has just reached to touch the other, and the other hasn’t yet responded. Or isn’t going to!

Coffee is a recurring motif in my book, and my cover shows a barista-crafted heart. But the heart is subtly…broken. Hm. What could that mean?

My characters’ path is not only rocky, it’s ankle-twisting. Two very different people with different philosophies of life—how do they mesh? What do they compromise? Whatever they do, at least there’s lots of coffee!

Here are five things that surprised me about my cover:

​1. They asked for my ideas.

​I was always told that authors have no say regarding their covers–that publishers create covers based on their greater experience with the market, and the author is presented with the cover as a ​fait accomplit.

But Riptide Publishing not only asked what I had in mind, they sent me a ​4-page questionnaire​ asking for details regarding the mood and tone, preferred color scheme, characters’ physical descriptions and personality traits, and more.

2. I was given a choice of cover artists.

Riptide gave me the chance to review the work of six artists and to list them in the order of my preference. They could not ​promise ​that my first choice would end up doing the work, but, in my case, my wish came true.

​3. The artist used my ideas.

When I was presented with drafts for my book cover, I was stunned to see how close they came to what I had imagined! I mean, wow, they not only asked, they ​listened. ​The talented artist took my suggestions and ran with them.

​4. They presented me with three beautiful cover drafts.

The artist, L.C. Chase, actually asked me which one I liked! Not only that, the artist asked if there were any changes I’d like to see, or if I wanted something totally different. I certainly was not expecting that level of involvement in my cover treatment.

Two of the drafts had the same picture but different fonts. ​They even asked which font treatment I liked better.

​I replied with my preferences and some suggestions for tweaks, and, would you believe, my suggestions were promptly put into play? Sheesh, me with NO publishing experience kind of directing a ​highly ​experienced and talented artist? Whoah.

5. There is a thing called a “cover reveal.”

Mine occurred on the ​Heroes and Heartbreakers ​website. I was asked not to share my cover, other than with family and a few close friends, until this reveal went live. Was that hard to keep a lid on!

Would I change anything about my cover? The skin tones. Both the hands are too light. Todd works all day in the sun, so he’s got a pretty good tan. And Sebby is half Hispanic, so there’s that.

So that’s LAOHB’s cover. It doesn’t feature a hot, bare-chested, hip-bone-baring stud. I wonder if that will lose me a few sales. But I love my cover. ​It’s what was in my heart.

And it ​pops.

What’s your opinion? Does it catch your eye? Make you curious? Turn you on, or put you off?

Laurie Loft lives in Iowa, endeavoring to write stories to give you that rush. Her husband, cat, and dogs kindly tolerate this odd activity. Her first M/M novel came about because of a minor character in a straight romance who just took over and demanded his own book. Laurie enjoys NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and other forms of writerly torture. She finds inspiration in her NaNo friends and her fellow Riptide authors. When not writing or working at her mysterious day job, she can often be found screaming at tangled cross stitch threads.

Connect with Laurie:

To celebrate the release of Love and Other Hot Beverages, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Starbucks gift card and a French press from Laurie! 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.

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.

Amazon

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.

Oversight by Santino Hassell: Spotlight with Giveaway

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

 

About The Community Series

What lies beneath the surface of the world you thought you knew?

Secrets and lies have twisted an underground community founded by psychics escaping persecution. Blackmail, sex, and social climbing in the name of power has created an irreparable rift.

In the eyes of the founders, there are two sides: loyalists and everyone else. Surely no one would emerge from their tightly woven webs. And they certainly wouldn’t sow the seeds of rebellion within the heart of the Community’s only queer night club.

Now an outcast, a scion, and a runaway are leading a revolution to save not only the men they love, but the entire Community.

Check out The Community series! https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/series/community

Book 1: Insight

Book 2: Oversight

 

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Connect with Santino:

 

To celebrate the release of Oversight, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 1, 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.

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

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

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

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

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Kobo Books

 

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

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

Chief’s Mess Exclusive Excerpt

I could not sit still.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You too.”

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

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

What the hell?

“You okay?”

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

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

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

I eyed him dubiously.

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

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

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

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

“Lead the way.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Eh, can’t blame you.”

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

“Oh yeah? Why’s that?”

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

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

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

“I believe it.”

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

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

He eyed me. “Come again?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.5 pieces of eye candy

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer: Blog Tour Stop and Giveaway


Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.

Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.

They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

Hello, and welcome to the blog tour for Heels Over Head, my new sports romance where Olympic diving hopefuls battle it out on the platform… while discovering friendship, family, and love along the way. I hope you enjoy reading Jeremy and Brandon’s romance as much as I enjoyed writing it!

I’ll be stopping on several blogs throughout the week, so I hope you’ll follow along and join in the discussion. Plus, don’t forget to leave a comment at the end of the post… you’ll be entered to win an Amazon gift card!

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Riptide Books

 

Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, El spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.

She’s always happy to chat with other readers, and you can find her online at:

To celebrate the release of Heels Over Head, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 3, 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.

Concourse by Santino Hassell: Spotlight Tour and Giveaway

Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka.

Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.

When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.

Amazon

Riptide Books

 

About the Five Boroughs Universe

New York City—home of soaring skyscrapers, concrete boulevards, and the hopes and dreams of millions. A city where opposites attract and romance is found in unlikely places. From the glittering penthouses of Manhattan to the blue collar neighborhoods of Queens, values get tested, cultures clash, and connections made. Men of diverse backgrounds examine their lives, test their sexual boundaries, and seek success in an unforgiving urban landscape that moves fast and stops for no one. Despite the odds, there’s love to be found in the five boroughs as long as they’re willing to work for it.

Check out the Five Boroughs Universe. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/five-boroughs

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twentysomething, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of LGBT fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Connect with Santino:

To celebrate the release of Concourse, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 6, 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.

Insight by Santino Hassell: Blog Tour, Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

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synopsis

Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

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tco-author interview

  1. Insight is the beginning of a new series for you, The Community. Where do you see this series going? What is upcoming with it?

The Community is going to be very different from my contemporary romance series, Five Boroughs, in that it’s planned to wrap up as a trilogy. There will still be side characters who get their own points of view and romantic arc in the two sequels, but the over arcing plot and conflicts will resolve in book 3. I like to think of it as a three-act play—the first book is when the main character discovers the existence of this psychic community, the second book is when characters who’ve long since been in it confront the shady elements of it, and the third book is when everyone comes together to do something about it.

  1. One of the main character’s, Nate, is described as an outcast in a psychic family. Where did the idea for his story come from?

I really wanted to write about a clan of psychics who were eerily powerful, and the more I thought about the potential the more I realized how dysfunctional that would be. These people grew up together, afraid of the outside world and anyone who would find out about their gifts, while always being inside each other’s heads? Not to mention the various coping mechanisms they’d use to deal with all the power and dysfunction. In short, I decided to make my powerful psychic clan a mess in a small town where that reputation would attach to Nate. So, he tried to disassociate from them because of their reputation but also because he wanted to be far away from how twisted they all could be.

  1. According to the synopsis, Trent thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. How easy, or difficult, is it to develop a character who is exudes a sarcastic nature? How do you integrate that skepticism into the character’s personality?

Trent is an engineer, so he’s skeptical by nature. You can’t just tell him “psychics exist” or “I think my brother was murdered” without him picking apart your claim and trying to figure out how all the parts come together. He wants proof. He wants to figure out a way to make it real. And once he gets what he needs to believe it, he’ll put together an action plan to deal with it. That’s why he and Nate work so well together. Nate is very emotionally invested in the mystery, the existence of a psychic community, whereas Trent is a step back and can look at it all objectively. His sarcasm is just a part of who he is, and also a way for him to make light of how ludicrous he thinks it is even after he accepts the truth. So, you can expect a lot of X-Men jokes.

  1. What is one ritual you have to perform before, during or after writing that might surprise your readers?

This isn’t very interesting, but I tend to reread my draft a lot while I’m writing it. Sometimes I have to reassure myself that the pacing is good or that it’s compelling because once I’m knee deep in a draft, it all looks like junk to me. I also have an alpha reader who gives me feedback on that type of thing if I just can’t see it clearly.

  1. Always have to have a fun question to finish. 🙂 You and Megan Erickson are on opposite sides of a jail door. Who is behind lock and key, and why?

LOL I’m definitely behind the lock and key, and she’s smuggling me pizza and Nilla Wafers as I serve my time.

Insight_TourBanner

denise review

Having read quite a few of Santino‘s books, I was looking forward to this one, and seeing his writing from a different perspective. This was not going to be his normal snarky contemporary romance with dark tones and a gritty New York scene. Except, it kind of was.

Insight involves paranormal, which got me hooked in right away. Why would someone who had some sort of powers want to hide them, not use them, and even more, be in a dark hole in his life? How does that happen to someone who can see things, have an insight into others’ lives?

We do get some answers in Insight, but not the full picture yet, which I quite liked. I enjoyed knowing that there was more coming, layers that we will be uncovering in the next two books.

Poor Nate had just a crap life, and no prospects of it looking up when his twin brother dies, and after seeing it from his brother’s point of view, decides to go to NYC to investigate. Trent, meanwhile, an engineer at heart that needs to see proof of something before he will believe it, was the perfect snarky foil to down, but not out, Nate.

What made the story so compelling, in addition to all the intrigue and suspense, was the team that Nate and Trent made. Even with Nate’s concerns that he was using his empath abilities to have his feelings mirrored by Trent, they had each other’s backs, and knew that even with all the half-truths, questions and intensity, they could count on the other person to be there. How that was slowly built over the course of their drive across the country is one of Santino’s greatest gifts as a storyteller, his ability to build his characters into living, breathing people with varying interests, flaws, and personalities, yet be the puzzle piece the other character needs to complete the picture.

I’m looking forward to seeing how book 2, Oversight, brings the arc around to Holden, and somehow makes us want an HEA for him. 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

 

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twentysomething, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of LGBT fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Connect with Santino:

giveaway

To celebrate the release of Insight, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 18, 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.

Dating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk: Blog Tour, Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

TCO is super excited to have J.E. Birk here today. We asked her very last minute to throw us a bone (see what I did there? 🙂 ) and do a last minute Friday Five-ish Questions, because I found the book so timely. She was so generous and did it right away. So, thank you. Read up on Dating Ryan Alback, then run out and grab it! 

dating ryansynopsisRyan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend—but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.

Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.

When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past.

buy now

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Guest Post

Greetings! I’m J.E. Birk, and right now I’m traversing the internets to discuss my new romantic comedy, DATING RYAN ALBACK. Follow along to learn more about an insecure movie star, a klutzy teacher, and the neurotic dog who loves them. Leave comments for a chance to win a $10 Riptide giftcard and copy of any book from my backlist!

tco-friday 5ish

Five-ish Good Questions for Dating Ryan Alback author J.E. Birk. A sometimes feature on Two Chicks Obsessed.

Thank you to the author who agreed to do this interview very last minute. But I felt like these questions needed to be asked! 🙂

  1. The first question, and what could be the telling question as to your psychic abilities…how long ago was Dating Ryan Alback written? It was published on February 20, but I would imagine it’s been written for some time.

LOL! Great question. One of the main subplots of this book has Jason, the MC, starting a nonprofit to support families who’ve been split apart by deportation. Sadly, in the 2017 political climate, this subplot feels incredibly relevant. But you’re right—I first started drafting this book years ago, back in 2014. At the time we weren’t having the same national conversation about deportation that we are right now. But I was living and working in a community with a huge population of immigrants, and it was an enormous part of our local conversation.

  1. To say that there is a subplot in this story that is timely for current political events would be understating it. There is a portion of that subplot that I literally saw on the news a day after I read it in the book. How much of current events, or even your guess of what might happen in the political climate play into your book?

Ironically, there were points when I was revising this book and selling it when I wondered if I’d have to change Jason’s subplot—because the conversation around immigration was becoming more humane, and more people were starting to see what mass deportation does to families. But then the election cycle leading to the 2016 presidential race began, and that subplot began to feel highly, highly relevant again. Now I’m very glad I never changed it, because I think we need more books that look at how families—especially children—are affected by deportation.

  1. Without giving too much away, what was your inspiration for writing this subplot? Was it something you’ve seen before, or something that you saw coming?

Like Jason, I’m a teacher. And like Jason, I’ve had the horrible experience of watching my students’ families destroyed because of deportation. It’s so easy for people to make blanket statements like “Well, if someone came here illegally, they’ve gotta go.” Logically that’s an understandable statement. Law is law, right? But I suspect most people who say that have never hugged a twelve-year-old whose parents have just been taken away from them to another country. A country that they may have never even seen before. It’s all a very complicated issue, and I wish more nonprofits like Jason’s existed.

  1. How much research did you do for this book? Was it on anything in particular?

The interesting thing about this book is that it’s a romantic comedy. I wrote it as a romcom and I suspect the majority of readers who’ve enjoyed it are people who love romcoms. I’m been talking a lot about how it’s a book I wrote when I needed more comedy in my life…and it is largely very light and fluffy. Except for this one subplot.

So while I was writing this book I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about my favorite romantic comedies. Considering how the best ones stay true to their comedic roots while still allowing for more serious topics to play within the plot.  I hope Dating Ryan Alback is, at the end of the day, a book which gives people a sense of joy and escapism without shying away from real-world issues and topics.

  1. Always, number 5 is the fun one. You receive a genie in a bottle, and are given 1 wish. You can’t wish for more wishes, or world peace, or crap like that. J What would you wish for?

Awww, I wanted a million wishes! Right now I’d probably wish that everyone in the world would show more kindness and empathy. There’s a lot of fear and anger spreading right now. I suspect we’d be in a much better place if we all just spent more time putting ourselves in the shoes of others.

denise review

There is so much I want to say about this book. There were so many elements to it, that made it a surprise for me.

I had not read anything by J.E. Birk before Dating Ryan Alback, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. It looked like a sweet, romantic book (and c’mon, look at that cover, doesn’t that say “sweet and cute” all over it?), with fluffy bunnies, kittens and puppies falling all over the place. And it was (minus the bunnies and kittens, and with the dog being somewhat neurotic). This book made me laugh out loud at points. Case in point, this dialogue between Jason and Natalia (Jason’s best friend):

“Dramatic? Did you call me dramatic? My last date took me to a gyro place. Gryos, Jason!”

“I like gyros,” Jason answered mildly.

“Yes, yes, we all like gyros…”

I had several laugh out loud moments highlighted. Ones that I highlighted that later became a bigger part of the storyline. In the end, though, this was a fun, romantic comedy.

Until I realized that there was a sub-plot that made it so relevant to current day politics that I was shocked at the idea that this must have been written well before the U.S. presidency had even been decided. The author nailed the issue so hard, I was in awe at how accurate a portrayal of something that I hadn’t even realized was truly happening (and literally has increased exponentially in the last month). The author’s portrayal of this situation made it hit home even more. And as you read her interview, you’ll see this was deeply personal for her.

All in all this book was such a hit with me, and as I processed it over the next couple days, it felt even more like heaps of fun, with a side of reality thrown in, which I am hoping is how all the readers feel about it.

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

J.E. Birk has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them since she was introduced to the alphabet. She hails from Colorado, where you can usually find her skiing, training for a 5K she won’t end up running, or watching people run into each other on football fields and in hockey rinks. You can follow her ramblings on Twitter by looking for @jebirkwrites. She’s also been known to ramble on Facebook as J Elisabeth Birk.

Connect with J.E. Birk:

giveaway

To celebrate the release of Dating Ryan Alback, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide Publishing credit and their choice of ebook from J.E.’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 25, 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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