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Guest Review: This Is Not A Love Story by Suki Fleet

Today we have a guest review provided by Renae Kaye, author of Loving Jay and the soon to be released, The Blinding Light.

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The blurb…

When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.

Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.

This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy)

So what did I think?

Well, Suki Fleet certainly knows how to tear someone’s heart out.

This Is Not A Love Story is certainly not a love story – it is a story of survival, with the two main characters so in love with each other, that they will fight with all they have to stay together. Two boys (I’d like to call them men, but they are not really), homeless and hopeless on the streets where being alone means you don’t survive long. The author has certainly explored the range of emotions a young boy feels when his survival depends on what happens to him hour to hour, and we, the reader, are along for the painful ride.

Told from Romeo’s (Remee) POV, the author is unapologetically honest about what goes on when you live on the street – prostitution, drug use, violence, police, hunger, it all. The story is dark and gut-wrenching, nothing hidden or glossed over. In fact, when I had to leave these two boys on the cold street at about 55% last night so that I could get to sleep, I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to leave them out there in the cold.

We follow Remee’s story and his struggle to stay alive, as well as stay with Julian. Julian, the older of the two, takes the bigger burden of them trying to find their way and make it through the night, selling himself and struggling with the pain afterwards. We meet a range of characters on the street too – those who are barely surviving, those who are about to succumb to its dank depths, and those who seem to enjoy the violence. Romeo and Julian find kindness along the way, but not enough to crawl out from where they are.

This is a story I enjoyed reading. I’m not saying I laughed or even smiled, but I couldn’t put the book down. I was taken on a rollercoaster of despair that was so vivid, I couldn’t find my way out.

I do however have a reserve about how it ended – and be assured there are no OMG moments at the end. This IS a love story, no matter what the title says, but (view spoiler)

But it is a story I recommend to you. I give this author 5 stars and applaud her for writing this novel. It is not a usual romance, and that is a good thing.

Renae

❅❅❅❅❅

About the Guest Reviewer

To find out more about Renae Kaye and her books, visit her website.

Renae’s latest book, The Blinding Light is available from Dreamspinner Press and will be released on 14th July.

Buy The Blinding Light

About the Author

To find out more about Suki Fleet and her books, visit her website.

Buy This Is Not A Love Story

Dreamspinner Press

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COVER REVEAL and Guest Post! The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds by Charley Descoteaux

 

Today we are pleased to  welcome Charley Descoteaux, to share with us about her new book, The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds.

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post plus Charley is donating money to a good cause for every book pre-ordered so make sure to hit those Buy Links.

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The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds

by Charley Descoteaux

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: D.W. Skinner (photographer), Paul Richmond (designer)

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First I’d like to thank Pride Promotions for arranging this tour, Because Two Men are Better Than One for inviting me to visit their lovely space, and D.W. Skinner and Paul Richmond for my gorgeous cover!

I’ve been writing for a long time, but The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds is the first full-length novel I get to share with the world. During all the years I spent writing, and dreaming of the day when I could say I am a novelist, I also made plans.

I don’t set out to write political or message novels, but after growing up in the Bay Area in the 70s and spending my share of time in the trenches, it’s hard to separate the activist from the author. Like many other writers, I have trunk novels that will probably never see the light of day (you’re welcome ;)). Each of those trunk novels included a plan for giving a portion of any earnings to a relevant charity.

The two main characters in The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds, Phil and Lee, have both been touched by depression and suicide—and since The Trevor Project is one of my favorite national charities, it seemed like a good fit.

I’ll donate $1 for every pre-order of The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds to The Trevor Foundation, in support of their efforts to provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.

Visit my blog for a running tally of pre-orders. I’ll update the tally every few days, and post the final total on August 11.

Thank you all for helping me raise awareness, and a little cash, for this very worthwhile cause!

 

The Blurb…

All he ever wanted was to be a normal guy….

Phil Brask spends his days in the basement of his mentor’s Victorian home, converting legal documents into electronic format. When the pipe feeding the water heater bursts, Lee Redding arrives in the plumber’s truck and draws Phil away from the narrow focus of his computer and camera lens. Lee gives Phil hope for a life beyond the walls he’s constructed using the nesting habits of migratory birds and dense legal files, a guided tour through a world filled with romance and music…maybe even family. But there’s a reason Phil retreated behind those walls, why he panics at a simple touch.

Lee has a good life—working with his uncle and on his mother’s farm, playing bass in a horrible metal band, and hooking up when he pleases—but he’s always suspected something was missing. When he meets the hot photographer with the icy-blue eyes, he knows exactly what that something is. Phil isn’t like other guys, but neither is Lee beneath his carefree exterior. Maybe Lee’s the perfect guy to show Phil that everything doesn’t have to be done the hard way and “home” isn’t a four-letter word.

 

Cover The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds

 Excerpt

“Your pictures, they’re amazing.” Lee said, his voice calm and steady and filled with sincere awe. “What’s this in her beak?”

Lee carefully scrolled forward, and Phil realized Lee had thumbed through all the pictures from that morning and some from last evening as well. He’d been out of it longer than he thought.

“It’s a spiderweb. Hummingbirds use them to build their nests.”

Two sentences. Phil couldn’t remember when he’d last gotten two sentences out just the way he’d intended. He smiled and raised his eyes to Lee’s. They seemed to mirror what he was feeling. Relief; happiness; desire. The next thing he knew, Lee’s lips brushed his lightly. Phil trembled but didn’t pull away.  Pride in his perfect speech along with the giddy feeling inspired by Lee’s smile allowed Phil to give in to desire, just for a moment, to take a chance it would end well. Lee leaned toward him, but not so their shoulders touched, and kissed him just a few seconds longer. He kept his mouth almost completely closed, but Phil tasted a hint of hot chocolate. Or maybe the heat came from Lee.

“Whoa,” Lee sighed as much as said.

 Giveaway!

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Click here or on the image to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! 

Rafflecopter Prize: E-Copy of the book when it comes out

 

Tour Dates:  July 11th

 

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Tour Stops:

Parker Williams, Hearts on Fire, Emotion in Motion, Love Bytes, My Fiction Nook, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Jade Crystal, Smoocher’s Voice, Full Moon Dreaming, Lee Brazil, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Iyana Jenna, Amanda C. Stone, Tara Lain, Redz World, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Fallen Angel Reviews, Romance the Night, Velvet Panic, Kimi-Chan, The Hat Party, MM Good Book Reviews, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Lee Brazil, Decadent Delights, Havan Fellows, Kimber Vale, EE Montgomery, Michael Mandrake, Cate Ashwood, Dawn’s Reading Nook

 

 

 About the author

 

Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough.  In exchange, they let her sleep once in a while. Home is Portland, Oregon, where the weather is like your favorite hard-case writing buddy who won’t let you get away with taking too many days off, and in some places you can be as weird as you are without fear.  As an out and proud bisexual and life-long weird-o, she thinks that last part is pretty cool.

Rattle my cages, I’d love to hear from you!

 Blog:  http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/blog/

 Facebook Author Page:  http://www.facebook.com/CharleyDescoteauxAuthor

 Dreamspinner Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=879

 Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CharleyDescote

 Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/aqe7g7r

 Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/charleydescote/

 e-mail: c.descoteauxwrites@gmail.com

Buy Links

 

Pre-order from Dreamspinner Press here.

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Paperback

Dreamspinner Press

 

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★★★★ Pre-release review: In Your Eyes by Cardeno C ★★★★

In Your Eyes

The blurb…

Raised to become Alpha of the Yafenack pack, Samuel Goodwin dedicates his life to studying shifter laws, strengthening his body, and learning from his father. Taking control comes easily to Samuel, but relating to people, including those he’s supposed to lead, is a constant challenge.

When Samuel meets Korban Keller, the son of a neighboring pack’s Alpha, he reacts with emotion instead of intellect for the first time in his life. Resenting the other shifter for putting him off-balance, Samuel first tries to intimidate Korban and then tries to avoid him. What he can’t do is forget Korban’s warm eyes, easy smile, and happy personality.

When a battle between their fathers results in tragedy, Samuel and Korban are thrown together. With his world crashing down around him, Samuel must save his pack and show them he can lead. But first, Korban needs to save Samuel by inspiring him to feel. Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past the rules they’ve been taught to realize they are destined to fit together.(

So what did I think?

Are you excited?

‘Cause I’m excited.

New Cardeno C., people! I love the Mates series and would possibly consider sacrificing a finger just to read more of them. So it’s a forgone conclusion I would enjoy this book.

One of the many things that make this particular Cardeno book enjoyable is main character Samuel Goodwin. Samuel is the son of his pack’s alpha and takes his role of presumptive alpha extremely seriously. He’s in love with facts and knows exactly how an alpha should act at all times. But empathetic he is not. Yes, he understands how he should behave, that part of being a good alpha is sympathy and compassion – unfortunately anything involving an emotion is lost on him. He doesn’t understand other people’s feelings and doesn’t recognize his own. Samuel doesn’t even know how to hug people; where does he put his hands? How long does a hug have to last? 2 seconds? 3? Some readers may find him a bit robotic, but to me his lack of emotional intelligence makes him vulnerable and even more loveable for it. He’s like a shifter Mr. Darcy. A shifter Mr. Darcy who hates Korban Keller.

The first thing I hated about him was his smile. Nobody smiles that much genuinely. It’s fake.

Samuel and Korban first meet when they’re eight and eleven respectively. Like Samuel, Korban is the presumptive alpha of his pack but in every other way he’s Samuel’s opposite. He’s friendly, smiles and laughs easily and is completely uninterested in the rules and regulations of shifter lore. But he’s extremely interested in Samuel. Samuel, aka Mr. No Emotions, finds such interest highly suspicious. Samuel may have trouble keeping his eyes off Korban, but he mistakes this for distrust. Korban confuses him and rather than deal with it, he assumes his discomfort stems from hatred, which is much more understandable than anything else he may imagine.

And therein lies the problem; it never occurs to Samuel that he may be feeling a more pleasant emotion. Samuel knows only facts and it’s a fact that males only mate with females. It’s simple shifter lore: men are more in touch with their shifter side and so must “tie” (sexy times) with a female shifter, who are more connected to their human side. It’s how shifters retain both their humanity and their shifterity (that’s right, I just made that up). He’s never seen any proof that two males may tie together and therefore the possibility doesn’t exist for him. Which makes it even sweeter when, after a series of dramatic events, Samuel finally realizes that what he’s feeling is love. That Korban is in fact his mate.

The feelings were already there—locked away, hidden, but there….[Korban’s] kiss led them out from the darkness where they were buried and showed them the light of day….For the first time in my life, I was where I was meant to be, who I was meant to be. I was whole.

If that doesn’t make you go aww… as you melt into a puddle of syrup I don’t know what will.

What I like most about this whole series is the way Cardeno deals with the ever popular shifter mates theme. As I stated above according to the shifter lore found in this series there is only one correct combination that makes up a mating; males and females. But Cardeno shows that not only can two men love each other, two men, even two species within the series, can complete each other. Wake Me Up Inside features a shifter and a human, Until Forever Comes features a shifter and a vampire and in this book we have two alpha shifters. Cardeno uses the Mates series to show that there’s more than one way to be “correct.” As Zev from the first books says (he makes a brief appearance):

Tying isn’t about males and females. It’s about connecting with someone who can better you, someone who can give you what you’re lacking, someone who can fulfill you and make you whole….We tie with our mates on all levels—physical and emotional—so we can become the best versions of ourselves. That’s what makes us complete, and then we’re stable enough to bind both our forms—wolf and human.

We may not live in the Mates world, but this is still a lesson the world needs to learn and a lesson we should take to heart in our own lives.

The only problem I have with this book is that I want more Samuel and Korban together. They have a few interactions early in the book, but they only start really communicating about halfway through. It’s even further on that we finally get to the smex. Once they do it’s wonderful but I need MORE time with my boys. Especially Korban. He’s a great character, absolutely loveable, but I never get to know him as well as Samuel.

Other than that tiny complaint, this book was the fluffy, romantic & sexy good time you can expect from a Cardeno C. book. Now I can’t wait for the next one. This time I may be willing to give up 2 fingers for it.

4 stars

Reviewed by Rosa

The Book Trailer

About the Author and the series

  • Wake Me Up Inside (book #1)
  • Until Forever Comes (book #2)
  • In Your Eyes (book #3) – in this review

To find out more about Cardeno C visit the website.

Buy Links

Available for pre-order now. To be released on 14th July 2014.

Dreamspinner Press

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GUEST POST with Excerpt & Giveaway! Winter’s Risk by Penny Hudson

Today we are lucky to be joined by Penny Hudson to talk about conflict. Don’t you just love some conflict in your romance?

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Thank you for hosting me, Nic! I am thrilled to have a chance to visit and talk about one of my favorite parts of any book, the conflict. Conflict does it for me, all the way around. There’s nothing like a pair of passionate guys snarling at each other because they want different things and still need each other to achieve them. Conflict isn’t always a flight to the death, like in this picture I took last weekend–three steps from the front door–of a black widow spider brawling with a red hornet.

 

See? Conflict! When I set out to write Winter’s Risk, I knew one character would be a park ranger called Alex. I wanted to use the wilderness setting–huddling for warmth inside the city limits just seemed lame–and the dangerous bear because it would be really interesting, but it took forever to make the second character work as a person and not just an injured man in distress. (Should it be D.i.D, Dude in Distress?)
In the first, extremely rough, outline, Martin was a random camper attacked by the bear…and it just wasn’t working. At all. Dead on arrival. *Cricket noises*
There was no conflict between Martin and Alex. He’d just been badly injured, any park ranger would be a welcome sight. Especially a handsome, flirty ranger! All my attempts to spark some passion between them came off as clunky and contrived. They were getting along and it was horrible.
The happy fluffy bunnies were drowning my draft!
I went back to the drawing board and drew in some conflict between them. They needed a history. Thanks to Alex, Martin got an arrest record. But in return Martin killed a project near and dear to Alex’s heart. When they meet again for the events in Winter’s Risk, their mutual disdain and loathing for one another leaped off the page. The snarky sentences and bitter banter practically wrote itself. The story hit the ground running and didn’t stop.

Conflict. I love it. Would you like to see some? Yes, yes you would.

The excerpt is the scene when Alex is diverted from tracking a murderous bear by his nemesis, Martin the hippy environmentalist, his least favorite person. Ever.

The Blurb…

Veteran park ranger Alexander Doyle is tracking a nuisance bear when he runs across obnoxious environmentalist Martin Ramirez. He and Martin have clashed before, when Martin and the protestors under his leadership ended a plan to expand the network of paved trails and improve accessibility. Given a choice, Alex would rather face the bear.

When the dangerous grizzly attacks them and Martin is gravely wounded, his only chance of survival is Alex’s determination to keep him alive through the night. But they’re stranded miles from any hope of rescue with the year’s first snowstorm coming in fast.

Excerpt

Alex’s lip lifted in a sneer. Fancy finding him all the way out here. For a moment he forgot he was trailing a bear that had already killed two people. He called out to the other man.
“It’s a little out of the way for a protest, don’t you think?”
He was gratified to see Martin jolt and drop his expensive camera. Pity he had a strap around his neck, and it didn’t plunge all the way to the bottom.
“What the hell?” Martin spun around and snapped right back, recognizing him immediately. “Doyle, it’s a free country. I can hike and take pictures if I want to.” He sounded rather petulant for a man pushing fifty, but he still acted like it was the 60s. Go flower power and all that crap.
Alex rubbed his shoulders against the tree, idly scratching his back.
“I’m not after you, you big twat. Have you seen a grizzly? Two yellow tags?” He didn’t expect Martin to do something as civilized as help him, and he wasn’t disappointed.
Martin paused, considered his answer, and then jutted his chin out and glared. Alex had two decades of experience dealing with tourists, summertime volunteers, cheating boyfriends, and random idiots. Like the idiot standing in front of him. He knew he was about to hear a lie even before Martin answered like sugar wouldn’t melt in his mouth.
“No sir, Mr. Ranger, sir,” he said sweetly. “I haven’t seen anything bigger than a bird all day. Can I assist you further, Mr. Ranger, sir?”
“Don’t fuck with me,” Alex snarled, and walked to meet him on the edge. He could still see the girl’s mangled body if he closed his eyes. He jabbed a finger toward Martin’s chest, disgusted that he had ever bothered to ogle him from the treeline. It just wasn’t fair that someone so useless could have such a nice ass. Martin looked down at his finger and raised one perfect eyebrow.
“What?”
“I don’t have time for your bleeding heart—”
The sharp crack of a stick breaking in the forest interrupted him.
“Shut up,” Alex growled, even though Martin wasn’t talking at that moment. He wheeled around to face the woods, rifle ready. “Just shut up. It’s here.”

Giveaway

I’m giving away a copy of Winter’s Risk to a randomly selected commenter once the tour ends. To enter, just comment on this post. The giveaway is open until July 21st and a complete listing of stops on the tour is posted at my blog.

Buy Links

Winter’s Risk is available from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon India, Kobo, and All Romance Ebooks, which has a much longer excerpt posted.

Dreamspinner Press

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Author Links

You can always find me hanging out on my blog and as @AnyPennyH, where I talk about beer and hiking just as often as books and movies.