Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz – Pre-Release Review



432 pages
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: April 1
Buy Links: Mira | Amazon | Amazon UK

The blurb

She has nothing to live for in the present, but finds there's something worth dying for in the past…

From Tiffany Reisz, the international bestselling storyteller behind The Bourbon Thief and The Original Sinners series, comes an enthralling new novel about a woman swept away by the tides who awakens to find herself in 1921, reunited with the husband she's been mourning for four years. Fans of Kate Morton and Diana Gabaldon will fall in love with the mystery, romance and beauty of an isolated South Carolina lighthouse, where a power greater than love works its magic. 


My thoughts

“The night mark is the pattern the light flashed. Some lighthouses had a steady beam. Some lights flashed. That’s how navigators told lighthouses apart.”

Surely I don’t need to tell you that Tiffany Reisz tells amazing stories. Her imagination is a thing of wonder and her characters are always, not so much larger than life, but painted with such clarity they come to life.

The Night Mark is a very emotional story. When it starts and we meet Faye she is only surviving. Four years after her soul mate, Will, died, she’s still buried so deep in her grief that it felt almost as if it was the only thing that kept her going. Grief is Faye and Faye is grief and while she’s making an attempt to kick start her life again, it seems as if that life will have to fit around that grief, accommodate it, because when Faye lost Will, she lost her reason for being.

“Whoever first said it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all had neither loved nor ever lost.” – Faye

Then Faye almost drowns and when she comes to she thinks she’s been reunited with her Will, or at the very least that she’s experiencing the most lucid dream she has ever experienced. Except that the man isn’t Will, and she isn’t dreaming. Instead she finds herself almost a century in the past, and in the company Carrick, who closely resembles, but isn’t Will.

I’m not going to say a whole lot more about the story itself. Twists and turns kept me turning the pages as secrets were revealed, and surprises kept me guessing. This is a love story in its purest form. A ‘love-overcomes-all’ sorta story. The wording is both lyrical and at times introspective, but never too much of either. And both the main and the secondary characters we’re fascinating and so well portrayed I felt I knew them on a personal level.

I loved how this story played with time. It is not impossible that time-travel purists will have one or two questions relating to whether or not history should or could change, by the time the story ends. I just lost myself in the romance of it all and decided that I would stick to Carrick’s theory.

“To think I spent my whole life believing time only went in one direction, (…). Thought it was a river. Turns out it’s an ocean. Waves come in. Waves go out. Sometimes those waves take us with them.” – Carrick

While Tiffany is an all-round fabulous author, there is one thing she does better than anyone else I’ve ever read; she writes the best priests ever. Pat Cahill in this book proves that once again.

“My job entailed turning wine into God’s blood, so I don’t think I can judge you too harshly.” – Pat Cahill.

I received an ARC of this title through Netgalley and while it pains me to do so I have to say that I hope this wasn’t the final version. I came across issues both with  both formatting and editing. Nothing so major or shocking it took me out of the story, never mind put me off reading it or even made me mark the story down, but enough of them to make me sit up and mention them here.


To summarize: The Night Mark only confirmed what The Original Sinners books had already told me; this author possesses a rare and wonderful form of genius. And while the Original Sinners will, in all likelihood, always be my favourite stories and characters by this author, I now know, without a shadow of doubt, that she can write just about anything she puts her mind (and fingers) to. And I will continue to greedily devour those words of hers.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Shifting Silver by Brandon Witt



Pages: 49
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Amazon UK

The blurb

The year is 1618, and Allakau is different from the other members of the Alaskan Yupik tribe. His people survive by hunting, but Allakau is unable to kill or eat flesh. As another season reaches its end and winter approaches, Allakau encounters a narwhal with silver eyes similar to his own. He saves the creature’s life but incurs his father’s wrath, and Allakau is given one last chance to prove himself a productive part of the tribe or be left behind to die. As he spends time alone in the woods, clues about his past and destiny begin to fall into place with the aid of another silver-eyed creature. His hunt might finally lead him to the truth about what sets him apart and where he belongs—if he can survive it.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2016 Daily Dose package "A Walk on the Wild Side."

My thoughts

Sometimes you stumble across something special, a little gem of a story that fills your heart, feeds your soul, and leaves you fulfilled. Shifting Silver is such a story for me. I can’t think of a single thing in this story I don’t adore. Allakau is a wonderful protagonist and even better narrator. His struggle between remaining true to himself and doing what his family expects of him was real without ever becoming over dramatic. I’m so grateful that there were no truly horrid characters in this story. Allakau’s father’s decision may seem harsh, but even with him the reader knows he does what he believes is best for his son and their tribe, and he had no way of knowing differently.

The ending to this story was perfect and left me with a huge smile on my face. All too often when I read a short story like this one I’m left somewhat unsatisfied. Not this time. The whole story is here, nothing is missing. While I wouldn’t have minded spending more time with Allakau & co, I’m not sure more story would have improved this fabulous tale.


This is a magical story set in a mythical past. It talks about enduring love and soul mates and shared the most wonderful message: Being ‘other’ does not mean being less. The descriptions of nature and creatures are breathtakingly beautiful and vivid. I could almost feel the cold, see the snow, and touch the animals.  I’m so happy I read Shifting Silver; it was a wonderful reading experience.

Embrace the Fire (Through Hell and Back #3) by Felice Stevens - Release Blitz






Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Cover Design: Reece Dante  


Length: 90,000 words 

Through Hell & Back Series 

A Walk Through Fire (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK  
After The Fire (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb


Brandon Gilbert has spent years in hiding, but he’s finally accomplished his dream of working as a public school teacher. When offered the chance to help bullied children, there was no way he could say no. Not to mention that meeting Dr. Tash Weber, the psychiatrist who helps them, a sad yet sexy older man, ignited a spark inside Brandon he’d never had before.


Though five years have passed since the death of his lover, Dr. Sebastian "Tash" Weber has no interest in relationships or love. But young, enigmatic Brandon awakens his heart and his desire. Despite Tash’s best efforts to push him away, Brandon unlocks the passion for life Tash thought he’d lost forever.


Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan for either Brandon or Tash, but neither family disapproval nor self-doubts can stop them from embracing the fire that burns between them. And when Brandon returns home to fight for a future he never imagined possible, he and Tash discover that the one thing worth fighting for has been with them all along.


NB This is a re-release and has been extensively re-edited and revised with almost 10k words of additional content added.


About Felice

I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, My characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love, but getting there is oh so fun and oh so sexy.

I live in New York City with my husband and two children. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass (or two of red wine). I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there are bound to be a few bumps along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.



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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

By the Numbers (Sanctuary #10) by RJ Scott - Cover Reveal




Release Date: April 25


Cover Design: Meredith Russell


Blurb


Sometimes the only way to stay alive is to shoot first.

Brandon Hoselton was running scared. With his family threatened he felt he had nowhere left to go and even considered ending his life to keep them safe. Until Sanctuary, in the shape of the enigmatic Daniel Karnes, gives him a reason to stay alive and offers the possibility of a future free from fear.

Daniel is new to Sanctuary, tasked with watching Brandon, a brilliant geek with a wicked sense of humor. Falling in love with the man is way too easy, now he just has to make sure they can stay together.

The only way of taking down Varga is to cut off his money, and the two men become part of an intricate take-down involving millions of dollars in uncut diamonds.

But Brandon knows too much, Daniel has secrets he can never share, and their new love is at stake. When the villain has murder in mind, sometimes, the only way to stay alive is to be the first to shoot.


Sanctuary Series

Guarding Morgan (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Only Easy Day (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Face Value (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Still Waters (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Full Circle (Book #5) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Journal of Sanctuary One (Book #6) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Worlds Collide (Book #7) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Accidental Hero (Book #8) Amazon US | Amazon UK 
Ghost (Book #9) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Author Bio


RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk





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Monday, 20 March 2017

From Top To Bottom by Kevin Klehr - Release Day Review



SERIES: N/A
PUBLISHER: NineStar Press
COVER ARTIST: Natasha Snow
GENRE: MMM Erotica Comedy
E-BOOK: Yes
PAPERBACK: No
LENGTH:  56 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 20 2017
PRICE:  $1,99 -e-book

Blurb

Can a dedicated top really learn to bottom? Tony wants to find out but he’s scared another die-hard top will just plow through him, instead of taking it nice and slow on a newbie.

Enter Butch, a bear who’ll try anything, and Ford, a guy whose curiosity is tempting him to cheat on his boyfriend. Like Tony, both are dedicated tops wanting to try something new, and on this journey of physical self discovery, all will find that being open means more than taking it doggie-style.

My thoughts

And now for something completely different….

Well, not really, but it is true that this story is NOT a romance. Don’t read this book if you’re looking for a happily ever after (or even a happy for now) ending. Or if you have an issue with cheating for that matter, although that is not what this story is about.

From Top to Bottom is a comical, graphic, and very erotic tale about three men expanding their sexual horizons (among other things). When Tony first meets Butch and Ford, he is single while Butch is in an open relationship and Ford admits to not having told his partner where he is. All three are curious about bottoming and all three waste no time before they explore each other and the new experience on offer.

While Tony develops a crush for Ford, it is Butch who he spends most time with and who takes him to a few orgies. And one of those sexy gatherings was rather special considering the naked guests were being looked after by a butler in full uniform. And I have to admit I had a soft spot of Butch; I mean who wouldn’t fall at least a little bit for a man who insists on baking cakes to be eaten after the sexy times are over.

There were times when this story tried a bit too hard for me; once or twice both the humour and the sexual descriptions felt a bit forced. Of course I’m more than happy to concede that it is far from impossible that this was a result of my (lack of) sense of humour and personal taste. And it’s true that for every humorous remark that didn’t work for me there were at least five others that had me smiling broadly, if not giggling away to myself.

As for the sex scenes, they were graphic and detailed and at times almost poetic. The resulting combination of crude and lyrical descriptions didn’t always work for me but did fascinate me.

I absolutely adored the conversations between Tony and his father. Supportive parents are of course the salt of the earth, but having a parent take a (literally) active interest in your specific version of sex has to be disconcerting to say the least. Mind you, those talks may have been uncomfortable for Tony, for me as a reader they were nothing short of fabulous.

To summarise, From Top to Bottom was a fascinating, easy, fun and fast read. The story contains a lot of sex, but underneath there’s a beautiful message about taking chances, friendship, personal growth and being open to new experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour it took me to read this book and can see myself picking up something else by Kevin Klehr in the not too distant future; my curiosity has been piqued.

The Author


Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn't pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his social circumstances changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, snuck the notebook out to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his novel. It wasn't long before Kevin's active imagination was let loose again. 

Kevin has had a few books out, but sadly his publisher closed their doors. All of his work, both old and new, will be re-branded by NineStar Press in 2017. To find out what’s in store, click here.



Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Case of the Guilty Ghost by Amber Kell & RJ Scott - Release Blitz





Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Length: 111 pages



Series

End Street Vol 1 - Amazon US | Amazon UK

End Street Vol 2 - Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Case of the Purple Pearl - Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his life, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt-ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam.

Magic tears Sam from the vampire castle and he has to face new adversaries alone, when all he wants is Bob at his side.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony for his soul to be torn from his body. Aset Ka has other plans, and Ettore finds himself reunited with a lost love and fighting alongside his brother.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore, and with the curse tied to Ettore broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a battle between gods, and long forgotten love leaves no time for Sam and Bob to take a breath. Is it too late to save the supernatural world? 



Excerpt

Sam took the stairs two at a time, all one hundred and sixty of them, to the top of the tower, leaving him gasping for oxygen. He’d seen Bob heading that way, or dreamed it, or half woke and imagined it. He didn’t know what exactly, only that somehow, he knew he would find Bob at the top of the black tower. He ducked the low lintel, slid to an ungainly halt on the stone floor, unbalanced and grabbed at the wall to hold himself upright.

“Bob?” he called into the dark corners of the tower, but there was no reply. His vampire lover didn’t step from the shadows with a smile or words of love. The place was empty, and the only presence Sam sensed was spiders. Knowing his luck, they were man-eating spiders.

“Sam!”

Sam winced at the shout up the stairs, and then heard huffing and cursing as the owner of the deep voice appeared in the doorway. Jin, who had never quite gone home, citing that he was responsible for Sam, was way past pissed. At least Jin, being a dragon shifter, could light up the room. Then Sam recalled he could light up the room just by thinking about it.

“I want there to be light,” he murmured, and then held up his hand to block his eyes as a pure white light exploded in the center of the room, filling every corner before receding back to a steady glowing orb.

He blinked, the light burning his retina. He closed his eyes tight, willing the spotted vision to go.

“What are you doing up here?” Jin asked. He sounded wary, like everyone else tiptoeing around Sam these past two weeks.

“Bob,” Sam said. When he opened his eyes again, he could see the entire room. An elaborate altar took up the far side of the circular chamber, built into the wall and covered in years of dusty cobwebs, likely from the imagined killer spiders. He stepped toward it, a low humming drawing his attention. Jin moved to block his way.

“Leave it, Sam,” Jin said. His hard tone left no room for discussion.

The noise of more footsteps stomping up the stairs, then Lambert, Sam’s vampire liaison, appeared at the top. Lambert, a tall stretched-skinny vampire with eerily cloudy eyes, had a propensity to follow Sam everywhere, spouting fear at everything and anything.

“Sire, you can’t be in here,” Lambert said, waving his hands ineffectively.

Sam spun back around to face the altar. “Stop calling me sire,” he muttered under his breath. He was getting pretty sick of how people treated him in the damn castle. Half the vampires lauded him as a ruler of supernaturals, the other half wanted him either locked up or gone. The first group assigned Lambert to him. They felt Sam needed an escort in the vampire kingdom because he was, in their words, special. Lambert was the kind of paranormal stuck firmly in the past. The historian kept talking about the old days like they were better times.

Sam wasn’t sure why Lambert had been so accepting of him given he was A, human, and B, with Bob.

Jin held up a hand, glowing with the remnants of dragon fire magic and placed it flat on Sam’s chest. It didn’t burn, only fizzled, and popped sending a small shock through his body.

“Sam, talk to me,” Jin demanded.

The humming from the altar intensified, and a voice in Sam’s head was saying the same things over and over, Sam, I am here, and I need your help.

“I can hear Bob in my head, he called me up here,” Sam repeated.

“No, you can’t have heard him,” Lambert corrected. “The mate link is blocked in times of mourning. You are hearing something else, dark magic maybe. You need to come back down to your chamber where you are safe.”

A mixture of exasperation and fear crossed Lambert’s face when Sam stepped back toward the altar.

“I want to see him.” He’d been too long without Bob. Their separation was causing cracks in his sanity.

“It’s not much longer until he’s done,” Jin reassured.

“Please come away, Sam,” Lambert pleaded. That was new. Lambert never called him Sam.

“Just take my hand,” Jin said, holding out his hand.

Sam stepped backward, more toward the altar, and he heard Lambert let out a small curse.

“Take my hand, Sam,” Jin said. “This is stupid and dangerous.”

Sam turned on Jin, sparks flying from his fingers. Jin stepped back from him, narrowly avoiding the biting magic. “Stay away from me.”

He shook his fingers, electricity passing up his arm. Usually when that happened, Bob was there to hold his hands, settle him and take away the pinpricks of pain.

“Come away, Sam,” Jin said.

“Listen to the dragon,” Lambert added, his voice thick with fear.

“You and Jin do what I say,” Sam snapped, not knowing where the superiority in his voice was coming from.

Sam fought his loss of control. So much for me being a higher supernatural. Every day without Bob felt like torture, and Sam was lost without his vampire lover next to him. The headaches, the sparks of energy from his fingers, and the pain in his chest grew more intense with each hour that passed. He knew Bob was in mourning. Hell, Sam respected the traditions, but right then, all he wanted was his lover by his side.

Hurry up, the voice in his head said. I need your help.

He shook off the words and concentrated on Lambert. “Take me to the Sanctum, let me see Bob, convince me he isn’t calling for my help, and I will come with you.” He wasn’t being unreasonable, they were.

“This is an ancient rite.” Lambert seemed stunned that Sam was asking this. “No humans.”

“Something is wrong.” With me? With him? Something is terribly wrong, but no one is listening.

“What is wrong? Is it your head?” Jin asked, his voice low, and his expression concerned.

Yes. No. Hell, I don’t know. I know Bob loves me, and I love him. I just need to kiss him.

Instead, he said, “I have to help Bob with his grieving. We can’t be apart like this.”

Sam didn’t know what made him say it that way; he wasn’t needy, it wasn’t a normal need for lovers to be together. His instincts had been screaming at him that he and Bob shouldn’t be apart.

Ever!
Lambert gasped as he did every time Sam suggested he should be part of any ancient vampire rite. “A non-pureblood cannot help with the rituals of grieving.”

Sam knew Lambert was winding himself up to that whole vampire purity speech and he sighed. Jin must have sensed his irritability because he rounded on Lambert and roared, fire sparking around him. Lambert stumbled back in shock.

“Wait for us outside,” Jin ordered.

Lambert looked torn between staying to keep an eye on Sam, his job, or evading the dragon fire that Jin was breathing all around the room.

Lambert’s eyes narrowed. His calculating gaze flashed from Jin to Sam and back again a few times before he sketched a small bow and left the chamber. “I will go down exactly the seven steps of Aset Ka,” he announced over his shoulder. He was kind of stuck on numbers and more than a little obsessive about the freaking vampire god.

The same god who had made a bargain with Bob’s brother Ettore before returning Bob to Sam, and taking Ettore to some kind of hell, or heaven, or whatever.

“Bob needs me,” Sam said, firmly. “I was asleep and heard him calling me. He must be out of mourning.”

“Sam, you have to stop, he isn’t up here.”

“He must be, he called me.” Maybe if Sam said it enough times one of them would listen.

Jin shook his head. “You heard that through your mate link? In your mind. You can’t have because the link is muted when Bob is mourning.”

Sam shook his head, confused. “No, it was like an image of the stairs, and this room, and there was an altar, only it wasn’t this old. It had gold all over it, a chalice in the center, and Bob was examining it, and he called me over, and there was magic….” Sam pressed his hands against his temples, attempting to ease the tension building from that incessant humming. “He needs me.”

“Sam, it was just a dream. You’re tired. Let’s go get some sleep, and we’ll re-examine this in the morning.” Jin took his arm, encouraged him back to the doorway, but Sam wrenched away and shoved Jin to the side, and with a flick of his hand there was a thick wall of ice between them. Sam stood on the side of the altar, and Jin beat on the ice trying to get through.

Bob needed him, and nothing or no one was stopping him. He’d felt Bob’s grief, through their bond, for four long days and then without warning; the bond was severed. He’d been told that had to happen as part of the rituals of mourning.

Sam was lost. Not even his daughter Mal arriving had helped. At that moment, it didn’t matter that she was the light of his life, he wasn’t whole without Bob. There was no family without Bob.

“Watch Mal,” Sam spoke clearly through the ice, which wasn’t giving way, and Jin snarled at him. “Please.”

“Don’t do anything stupid, Sam! We’ll go down and find Bob.”

But Sam wasn’t doing anything stupid. He was doing what he should have been doing all along, finding Bob and making sure he was okay. Something had happened, someone had come into the castle, stolen Bob from his mourning and only Sam could help. He turned his back on Jin to face the altar. Something there was calling him. Help me, help me.

Bob’s voice? Or was it softer the closer that Sam got to the altar? A whisper of a voice?

He stepped closer, the hum louder, and then another step, and as he neared the low resonating noise stopped, and for a moment he was motionless.

He reached a hand toward the altar, expecting a barrier, or magic, or some booby-trap that would whisk him to killer spider land or some other awful, horrible place.

A crash behind him had him looking back. Jin was nearly through the barrier, melting the ice as fast as he could with his dragon fire; in seconds he would be through. Sam flicked his hand to create another level of ice, but nothing happened.

“Just when I need magic, it isn’t there,” he murmured.

Something inside him began to hurt, an insistent tug at the base of his neck that ran down his spine then back again. The sensation was weird, moving his feet, guiding him, and he had no control over his own body. He was a marionette, and someone else was pulling the strings.

Fear began to spread in the pit of his stomach, Jin screamed his name and the heat of dragon fire warmed his back, but none of it mattered.

Because his hand touched the altar.

And everything went to hell.




Author Bios


Amber Kell has made a career out of daydreaming. It has been a lifelong habit she practices diligently as shown by her complete lack of focus on anything not related to her fantasy world building.

When she told her husband what she wanted to do with her life, he told her to go have fun.
During those seconds she isn't writing, she remembers she has children who humor her with games of 'what if' and let her drag them to foreign lands to gather inspiration. Her youngest confided in her that he wants to write because he longs for a website and an author name—two things apparently necessary to be a proper writer.

Despite her husband's insistence she doesn't drink enough to be a true literary genius, she continues to spin stories of people falling happily in love and staying that way.

She is thwarted during the day by a traffic jam of cats on the stairway and a puppy who insists on walks, but she bravely perseveres.


E-mail: amberkellwrites@gmail.com




RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk



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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Dinner at the Blue Moon Cafe by Rick R. Reed - Release Blitz







Publisher: Dreamspinner Press


Length: 67,000 words


Cover: Aaron Anderson


Blurb


A monster moves through the night, hidden by the darkness, taking men, one by one, from Seattle’s gay gathering areas.

Amid an atmosphere of crippling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love working in an Italian restaurant called the Blue Moon Café. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and… he can cook!

As their romance heats up, the questions pile up. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And more importantly, why do Sam's unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

The strength of Thad and Sam’s love will face the ultimate test when horrific revelations come to light beneath the full moon.


Excerpt

From the moment Thad stepped through the front door of the Blue Moon Café, the décor cleared up any mystery about what kind of food they served. The little café, with its mahogany bar along one wall, its grouping of maybe a dozen tables, and its faux-tin ceiling, could have been straight out of central casting for “Italian joint.” Thad saw the requisite checkered tablecloths, the oil paintings of Italian landmarks like the canals of Venice, the Coliseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and St. Peter’s Square. And yes, each table sported a candle plugged into the opening of an empty green-glass Chianti bottle. A TV sat above the bar, thankfully turned off.

“Buona Sera” by Louis Prima played from the overhead speaker system. Thad was certain the rest of the evening would be peppered with the likes of Dean Martin, Jerry Vale, Rosemary Clooney, and of course, Sinatra. Underneath the music was the usual restaurant orchestra: conversation, laughter, the clink of glassware and the tinkle of silverware.

The scents of garlic, oregano, basil, and tomatoes perfumed the air. Over a counter at the rear of the restaurant, Thad could see into the kitchen: a wood-burning oven, chefs busy at their stations, the occasional upsurge of flame as one of them poured alcohol into a pan and ignited it by tipping the pan. Thad’s mouth began to water.

He already liked this place.

And he liked it even more when he saw the bartender, who was busy drying wineglasses and reaching up to hang them upside down on a rack above the bar. He was a compact little guy, olive skin and shaved head. His muscles tested the endurance of the black T-shirt he wore, and even from his vantage near the hostess stand, Thad could make out the thick black five o’clock shadow that covered his jaw. He was just the kind of guy Thad fantasized about. One who would take him roughly and be in charge.

Stop it, now! I’m in Green Lake, not Capitol Hill. This guy probably has a wife and two kids at home and would not appreciate how I’m imagining how he would look should the seams of that tight T-shirt burst and reveal a defined and hairy chest. He wouldn’t cotton at all to my thoughts of wondering how his asshole would taste, for cryin’ out loud.

Or maybe he would….


Thad grinned and bounced up and down a couple of times on his heels, feeling strangely energized and definitely a little smitten.

Shut up, horndog. Behave yourself.


My thoughts

WOW. Talk about a prologue setting the tone and pulling you straight into the story. The start to this book is dark, and then some. There’s a full moon and a monster is hunting, choosing his prey and striking, thus setting the scene for what’s to come.

Except that the tone of the story appears to change as soon as the prologue is over. The next few chapters, during which Thad and Sam first meet, are anything but horrific. The two men are instantly drawn to each other and their coming together is sweet and sexy. Thad and Sam’s coming together appears to be destined, as if these two men are made for each other. In fact I’d almost forgotten about the monster lurking in the background until it struck again, once more during a full moon.

I don’t want to say too much about the monster, except that his attacks continue and appear to be aimed at Seattle’s gay community. Who the monster is and exactly why it is killing, is a mystery each reader should get to ‘enjoy’ for themselves. I thought I had the mystery solved early on, only for one or two red herrings to throw me off again. This is just the way I like my mysteries, and it was very well done in this book.

My heart ached for Thad and Sam. After their near perfect coming together the odds appear to be stacked against them. They have so much to overcome, the obstacles they have to overcome are so huge it at times feels like theirs is a hopeless case and for a while I feared this book might turn out not to be a romance after all.

It is very hard to write this review without giving too much away, so I’m keeping this one short. I do want to say that I completely lost myself in this story. Rick R. Reed pulled me into a world that closely resembles mine but isn’t quite the same. He created a wonderful and imaginative combination between horror and romance that worked like a charm even for me who doesn’t really do ‘horrific’ stories.

I do have one admission to make. While I adored both Sam and Thad, I think my favourite character in this book was Jared. As secondary characters go he was perfect and I do hope he gets (or maybe has already gotten, I must check) his own story. He’s such a wonderful friend to Thad, and I can so see something fascinating and thrilling happening to him and TJ.


Overall this was a story that forced me to step outside my comfort zone and totally engrossed me in the process. The balance between romance, angst, mystery, and horror was just about perfect and has left me thinking I may have to take a closer look at other darker stories. Rick R. Reed is fast turning into favourite, must-read, author for me.

Author Bio 

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, "a writer that doesn't disappoint."

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever "at work on another novel."

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