Guest Post: “Writing the First Sentence” by Shami Stovall author of Vice City

Writing the First Sentence

What’s in a first line?

While it is a difficult task to plot a novel, write a novel, and edit a novel, it cannot be understated that the first line is its own extra special problem (one that will most likely require a few rounds of edits all its lonesome).

It’s the first thing the reader will see when embarking on the adventure you’ve woven. It sets the mood. It sets the tone. It hooks the reader and tells them “this is going to be worth your time.”

If you haven’t given your first line much thought, or if you think the first line isn’t that important, let me give you some examples to change your mind. Once you see how intriguing a single sentence can be, I bet you’ll never look at your first sentence the same ever again. Continue reading Guest Post: “Writing the First Sentence” by Shami Stovall author of Vice City

Surrender the Dark

Author: Tibby Armstrong

Publisher: Random House

Rating: 3.5 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  As a provocative series of paranormal temptation begins, a vampire king seduces the supernaturally gifted man hunting him. But when the stakes are literally life or death, their struggle for control is no game.

Benjamin Fuller is a hunter, born and bred. Blinded as a child by the vampire who slaughtered his family, he’s blessed with a second sight that allows him to catch and kill his quarry. What his gift can’t help him see coming is his fierce, almost carnal attraction to the mystery man who claims to be a fellow hunter and whose touch triggers both lust and revulsion. When he gains the upper hand, Benjamin vows to bring his enemy to his knees.

After many years spent in exile, the only one who can help restore Tzadkiel Dragoumanos to his rightful place as War King is a blind hunter with golden curls, a lithe dancer’s physique, and distinctive facial scars—scars Tzadkiel gave him two decades ago. The mere scent of Benjamin Fuller provokes an unwelcome rush of insatiable desire. Yet to win an all-out supernatural war, Tzadkiel must resist the ravenous hunger to possess his prey—for now. Continue reading Surrender the Dark

Retro Review Tour & Giveaway: Enlightenment Series by Joanna Chambers

 

Covers by Natasha Snow


Provoked (Enlightenment #1) 

 
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK  (FREE till June 17)
 

David Lauriston is struggling to build his reputation in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. His humble origins are enough of a hurdle, never mind his recent decision to defend a group of weavers accused of treason, prompting speculation that he may harbour radical sympathies. The last thing he should be doing is agreeing to help the brother of one of the convicted weavers find the government agent who caused his brother’s downfall.



David’s personal life is no more successful. Tormented by his forbidden desires for other men, and the painful memories of the childhood friend he once loved, David tries his hardest to live a celibate existence, castigating himself whenever his resolve slips. 


But then—into David’s repressed and orderly world—bursts Lord Murdo Balfour.


Cynical, hedonistic and utterly unapologetic, Murdo could not be less like David. Whilst David refuses to entertain the prospect of entering into a loveless marriage for propriety’s sake, Murdo is determined to wed one day—and has no intention of giving up the company of other men when he does so. But as appalled as David is by Murdo’s unrepentant self-interest, he cannot resist the man’s sway.


Murdo tempts and provokes David in equal measure, distracting him from his promise to find the agent provocateur responsible for the weavers’ fate, and forcing him to acknowledge his physical desires.


But is Murdo more than a mere distraction? 


Is it possible he could be the very man David is looking for?
 


Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 

Two years after his last encounter with cynical nobleman Lord Murdo Balfour, David Lauriston accidentally meets him again in the heart of Edinburgh.


King George IV is about to make his first visit to Edinburgh and Murdo has been sent North by his politician father to represent his aristocratic family at the celebrations.


David and Murdo’s last parting was painful—and on Murdo’s part, bitter—but Murdo’s feelings seem to have mellowed in the intervening years. So much so, that he suggests to David that they enjoy each other’s company during Murdo’s stay in the capital.
Despite his initial reservations, David cannot put Murdo’s proposal from his mind, and soon find himself at Murdo’s door—and in his arms.


But other figures from David’s past are converging on the city, and as the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit unfolds around them, David is drawn into a chain of events that will threaten everything: his career, his wellbeing, and the fragile bond that, despite David’s best intentions, is growing between him and Murdo.

 


Enlightened (Enlightenment #3) 



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

David Lauriston has been recuperating at Lord Murdo Balfour’s Laverock estate for the last five months. At Laverock, he has regained his health and confidence and has found—with Murdo—more happiness and contentment than he has never known before.


David is all too aware that some day soon he will have to leave Laverock—and Murdo—and return to his legal practice in Edinburgh, just as Murdo will have to return to his life in London. But when David’s mentor, Patrick Chalmers, asks David to return to Edinburgh to visit him on his deathbed, it seems that day has come sooner than either David or Murdo would have wished.


Chalmers begs David to undertake one last piece of business for him: to secure the future of Chalmers’s daughter Elizabeth. But to carry out his old mentor’s wishes, David must travel to London, with Murdo.


No sooner have the two men arrived in the capital than they encounter Murdo’s ruthlessly manipulative father, who reveals a shocking secret that rocks David to his foundations. What’s more, when David discovers Elizabeth is facing far greater danger than even her father feared, he is determined to help her, no matter the cost to his own safety.


As the stakes rise, it is Murdo who must choose what he is prepared to sacrifice to keep David at his side, and ask whether there is any possibility of lasting happiness for men like them.

June 13 – Bike Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews
June 15 – Keysmash, The Librarian’s Corner
June 17 – Dog-Eared Daydreams, Padme’s Library
June 19 – Jessie G Books
June 21 – It’s About The Book, Sarandipity, Bayou Book Junkie, My Time Out Book Blog, Gay Book Reviews, Ellie Reads All The Books, My Fiction Nook, Urban Smoothie Read, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, From Top To Bottom Reviews, Boy Meets Boy Reviews

Review:  As someone who counts historical fiction as their favorite subgenre, this series is definitely an all-time favorite of mine. Joanna Chambers combines settings and actual events in Scotland and England with provocative, authentic characters, resulting in a stunning portrayal of humanity and love. David and Murdo’s journey revolves around plenty of intrigue, power struggles and introspection. It ventures deep into the heart and soul of each man and the countries they call home. The titles of the books are so clever, the solitary yet powerful words hint of the relationship progression: Provoked, Beguiled, Enlightened. I’ve reread this series a few *cough* times and am ecstatic to discover audio versions are in the works. Last but not least… the new covers by the talented Natasha Snow!? Exquisite, and in my opinion, are perfect depictions of David and Murdo.

Provoked (Enlightenment #1)

Historical MM? Yes please! This is a subgenre in which new books always ping my radar and have me clicking “buy” immediately. Provoked went beyond my wildest dreams with its depth. This book’s richness of plot, protagonists and purview are stunning. In a nutshell, this is gorgeous writing with characters that feel as though they could walk right off the page.

David has risen from humble beginnings where it was made clear to him that desire for other men was sinful. Well, it’s also against the law. His conflict between “doing the right thing” in both his private life and his professional life as a solicitor always weigh on him. David has worked hard to achieve what status he has, and he is thankful for it. It’s oh so plausible then, when he crosses paths with Murdo – who is as powerful in physical presence as he is in social standing – that any attraction David feels for the overwhelming man is tamped down, and even met with self-loathing.

Murdo is to-the-manor-born. He expects people to jump for him, yet he doesn’t come across as haughty or unkind. A bit pushy sure, but he’s accustomed to getting what he wants and also being above common law. When he sets his sights on David, the mutual attraction is evident. The vast difference with which each man deals with said attraction is acutely plausible, given their personalities and backgrounds. Murdo appeared to have a grand life, but things aren’t always what they appear from the outside – in either man’s situation.

The disparity in the men’s social standing, as well as David’s personal struggles and causes, dovetailed perfectly with what was going on in the political climate of the times. I liked both men at once; getting to know them and seeing them learn from each other while dealing with burgeoning political intrigue made for a highly satisfying read. Provoked? Why yes, yes I was. Next book now, please!

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Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)

Such a fantastic historical romance series. After adoring the fabulous Provoked, I’d been very much looking forward to this next installment in the story of David and Murdo, and the author delivered in a deliciously satisfying way. I love how both Murdo and David are very strong in character; the evolution of their interpersonal dynamic is a delight to witness. Murdo has more “life experience” and is higher class than David, but never acts superior, snide or dismissive. He does treat David with the care and respect he deserves, while gently, yet insistently, guiding him to accept his feelings regarding his sexuality, and their relationship. I have so much adoration and respect for this depiction. Such a breath of fresh air these characterizations are. (I read a lot of historicals, and so many feature one haughty main character and one that is presented as painfully naive.) The sex and intimate scenes between David and Murdo are the perfect blend of passion and tenderness – hot, romantic and also very much important in depicting character development. The plot is interwoven with wonderful secondary characters and threads which are very exciting, and is set among authentic historic events and vivid descriptions of Edinburgh. I could not put this book down – I just had to know what was going to happen next. Highly anticipating the final book in the series.

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Enlightened (Enlightenment #3)

This is such a superb historic romance series, featuring two rewardingly strong main characters in David and Murdo. I absolutely ate this latest installment up. As I mentioned in my review of Beguiled, I love the depiction of the interpersonal dynamic between the aristocratic Murdo, and David, who while a solicitor, is still viewed by society as being dirt on Murdo’s boot. Murdo never allows the class disparity to be an issue between them. Unfortunately, this proves more difficult for David to cast aside…

The sheer believability of the actions of David and Murdo, and their romance, is largely what sets this book, this series, apart. Well, that and amazing dialogue, stunning settings, and some great “I’m holding my breath over what’s going to happen next” moments. The author’s writing is breathtakingly sublime. I think I may have highlighted half the book!

Enlightened begins six months after the distressing and daring events at the end of Beguiled. David has been residing at Laverock House, Murdo’s country estate while recuperating from a severely broken leg. It’s fairly evident by his caring behavior that Murdo desires for, and believes David will decide to stay on indefinitely. David, while not invulnerable to the growing closeness between himself and Murdo, still cannot see that as a viable option. Partly due to their different stations in life, and partly due to deep personal hurt from his past.

“The protective barriers he’d spent a lifetime building up felt like they were crumbling away in the face of emotions he was helpless to deny. There would be no protection left to him when this ended. And the end was coming.”

I kept muttering aloud, Oh David, don’t give up please! Murdo adores you, he’d do anything for you. Trust that the two of you can find a way! The conflict of David’s emotional turmoil, coupled with what Murdo was feeling and whether or not they could give voice to their true feelings, was realistically dealt with and did not come across as contrived at all. It took them a while to find their way, considering the time in which they lived, their pride, and their stubbornness. All of these elements combined with complicated extenuating circumstances, and the fact both were not men given to spouting hearts and flowers made for an engrossing read. One of the sparkling aspects of this book is while conflicted and often angry with each other, David and Murdo were still able to communicate, to talk and not flail around or storm off over cross words or failure to be completely truthful. They stuck it out, they worked it through. All brought forth in glorious, on-page dialogue.

Time and again, David would hear the echo of his dear friend and mentor’s words:

“Be happy. Don’t let love go. Don’t deny it.”

Elizabeth’s situation puts a strong and sobering light on women’s complete lack of rights and equality in 19th century England and Scotland, dovetailing with the scandalous and criminal issue of homosexuality. Her story continued to be closely interwoven with David and Murdo’s, and indeed is key in the brilliant resolution to the men finding lasting happiness together. Being such a huge fan of historical fiction, I always look forward to how authors will resolve issues satisfactorily, leaving the main characters free to pursue a life together.

With Enlightened, Joanna Chambers deftly delivers stunningly clever plotting into a very satisfying resolution of all major issues including: Murdo finally detaching himself from his cruel and overbearing father, Murdo’s future as a political player vs. a recluse bachelor, Elizabeth’s fate as a battered wife on the run, and David’s courage in the face of decisions regarding his personal and professional future. It was such a rise to witness the very social mores and customs of Murdo’s social circle become the key to unlocking freedom for David and himself. Brilliant.

Murdo to David: “I thought you were naïve, till you made me see that the life I’d always wanted – the two lives I’d wanted – didn’t amount to anything at all. I wasn’t going to have it all. I was going to have nothing.”

The Enlightenment Series as a whole depicts David’s process of maturing, his coming to realize what he truly desires, and indeed can actually achieve in his life. His enlightenment. Murdo in turn grows to realize what is of utmost importance in his life. He realizes his true enlightenment as well. Enlightened together ♥.

I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

Author Bio



Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

 

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Mature Content (Cyberlove #4)

Author: Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

Publisher: Megtino Press

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  My life plan is to be brutally honest all the way to the bank. Don’t believe me? I run a popular YouTube channel called TrashyZane, and my claim to fame is oversharing about every aspect of my personal life. Sometimes while tipsy. Not everyone loves my style, but I have a long history of icing out people who can’t handle me. I have no time for judgmental foolishness.

Except, apparently, when it comes to Beau Starr. His channel is the polar opposite of mine, and so is he. Wholesome, inspirational, and clean-cut. Everything about him should turn me off, but when we hook up following a confrontation at a convention, my world flips upside down. Not only does Beau Starr turn me on, he uses the exact combination of dirty talk and roughness needed to turn me out.

But we still hate each other. I think. Continue reading Mature Content (Cyberlove #4)

Guest Post & Giveaway: Aqua Follies by Liv Rancourt

Aqua Follies

By Liv Rancourt

Release Date: June 15, 2017

Contact: Liv Rancourt (livrancourt@yahoo.com)

ISBN: 0-9985822-2-0

 

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | More Stores

Thanks so much for having me back on It’s About the Book! I’m excited to be talking about my newest release, Aqua Follies.

One thing that sets Aqua Follies apart is the time period in which the story takes place. I picked 1955, not only because the real Aqua Follies were a regular summer event in 1950s Seattle, but also because the ‘50s were such a tough time to be a gay man. Continue reading Guest Post & Giveaway: Aqua Follies by Liv Rancourt

Shadow Fray

Author: Bradley Lloyd

Publisher: DSP Publications

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: DSPP & Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Publisher

 

Blurb:  Family is worth fighting for—and family doesn’t always mean blood.

No one knows what calamity poisoned the earth and decimated the human population, but living close to the toxic ground means illness and death. Justin is determined to keep his twin sister and younger brother from that fate—no matter what he has to do. To earn enough to keep his family safe in a high-rise, Justin enlists in a deadly sport called Shadow Fray. He quickly finds himself in over his head, especially when he is scheduled to face the most dangerous player.

Hale—who competes as Black Jim—knows he won’t be on top forever, despite his skills. He fights for a better life for his daughter, but his time is running out as Shadow Fray becomes increasingly lethal. Something about the newest fighter intrigues him, but does he dare defy his masters to investigate? Justin and Hale will clash in the ring, while beyond it the powerful elite and the crumbling world seem determined to keep them apart. If they can find common ground, they might have a chance to fight for their futures. Continue reading Shadow Fray

Windward (Mirror #2)

Author: Kirby Crow

Publisher: Bonecamp

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb: Grant’s new-found happiness with his submissive Matty is shaken when he learns that Jaeger Koning, fugitive assassin and Matty’s ex-Dominant, has returned to America. Over Grant’s objections, Matty accepts the FBI’s request to assist in the capture, but Jaeger is always one step ahead of them, and Grant discovers too late that Jaeger’s true goal is to reclaim Matty.

*This gay contemporary HEA romance is approximately 73,000 words, contains graphic sex, and is intended for mature readers. Book 2 of the series. TAGS: Bondage themes, romance, true love, HEA, story concludes. Continue reading Windward (Mirror #2)

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Takedown by Katey Hawthorne

Author: Katey Hawthorne

Title: The Takedown

Series: Superpowered Love #8

Publisher: Loose Id

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Buy Links: Katey Hawthorne  & Amazon

 

Blurb:  Jody Aguirre’s family was kidnapped and tortured by witch hunters, and after a few days of captivity, he’s all that’s left. Using his frosty awakened superpowers, Jody manages to escape—and is rescued from the side of the road by Bren Faulkner’s stretch Town Car. Bren, a hot-thermal awakened with government connections, promises to help find the witch hunters who destroyed Jody’s life.

While navigating his trauma and pain, Jody comes to rely on Bren for more than just food, his house, and his superpowered connections. Brendan is all that reminds Jody what’s left to live for, and a strong advocate for justice vs. vengeance, like the proverbial knight in shining armor he is. As their affection for one another deepens and their attraction becomes impossible to deny, Bren wonders if acting on their feelings would be taking advantage. Jody, meanwhile, struggles to claw his way back to something like normality, knowing that Bren’s part of the solution, not the problem.

But none of it matters if they don’t take down those witch hunters. Continue reading Guest Post & Giveaway: The Takedown by Katey Hawthorne

Fangs of Scavo (Stoker & Bash#1)

Author: Selina Kray

Publisher: self

Rating: 3.5 stars

Buy Links:Amazon

Type: Novel

Provided by Author

 

Blurb: At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.

When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?

And just who is Hieronymus Bash? Continue reading Fangs of Scavo (Stoker & Bash#1)

(and some other stuff)