Review: Stasis (Ennek Trilogy #1) by Kim Fielding

Praesidium is the most prosperous city-state in the world, due not only to its location at the mouth of a great bay but also to its strict laws, stringently enforced. Ordinary criminals become bond-slaves, but the worst punishment—to be suspended in a dreamless frozen state known as Stasis—is doled out by the wizard and reserved for only the most serious of traitors.

Ennek is the youngest son of Praesidium’s strict Chief. Though now a successful portmaster, Ennek grew up without much of a purpose, unable to fulfill his true desires and always skating on the edge of the law. But he is also haunted by the plight of one man, Miner, a prisoner for whom Stasis appears to be a truly horrible fate. If Ennek is to save Miner, he must explore Praesidium’s deepest secrets as well as his own.

Kim Fielding really knows how to construct an alternate universe. Bits of darkness are throughout the character's backstories that ratchet up the poignancy and make it impossible to not root for them. She's exceedingly talented at creating these worlds and handling the dynamics therein and she does it again here with Praesidium giving us yet another of her trademark damaged couples that will pull on the heartstrings in Ennek and Miner.

Ennek tells the story of Stasis. A story that starts off with him as a boy sneaking into Under with his precocious friend Gory and progresses until he's nearly thirty and in his first relationship. I'm sure he wouldn't understand why his story is so heart wrenching simply because it's his norm which is precisely what makes it so. He's the second son of the Chief and a deviant. Being gay in Praesidium is tantamount to a death sentence, if you're lucky. Otherwise you get put into stasis or become a bond-slave for who knows how long and that's just one of their draconian laws. 

Ennek's accepted his lonely fate and believes he will likely never amount to anything. He enjoys his simple pleasures-hiking, being on the water, horseback riding. He drinks too much. He thinks himself a coward yet he saves the life of the man who's haunted his dreams since he first laid eyes on him in that manmade spider's web when he was twelve yrs old.
He reminded Ennek of ocean waves, white foam over sea green. But Miner was also warm and soft, with a shy little smile and a slight blush on his cheeks. Ennek wanted to drown in him.
The relationship between these two men is gradual. Miner is confined to Ennek's rooms since no one can know he's no longer in stasis thereby making him his slave. There's not a lot of angst but there is a lot of awkwardness over how to handle their relationship so they become friends. Gradually over the course of nearly a year Miner begins the painstaking process of living again in a situation and a time that are completely foreign. They begin to trust each other and have the most exquisite quiet moments. Those moments of vulnerability and devastating honesty that made me feel like a voyeur. But there seems to be this ever present sense of something lacking, something just beyond their reach that neither knows how to overcome.

Unfortunately the only person that could bring Miner out of stasis is Praesidium's wizard, Thelius. Thelius blackmails Ennek into becoming his intern in wizardry in exchange for his silence. He's a classically evil character who has a wealth of secrets about the polis and Ennek. Those secrets are what pushed the plot forward and held my interest. Most are answered, some weren't.

The tension between Ennek and Miner is still in its infancy and there is no on page sex. I'm hopeful in the next book things progress between them but I don't expect it to turn into a Jake Jaxson film either. Undoubtedly they've got a lot of travails to suffer through before getting to their HEA.

There certainly is a 'to be continued...' ending but I wouldn't characterize it as a cliffhanger. The next is already on my kindle and would recommend Stasis to fans of Kim Fielding, AU and/or slow burn romances.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Find out more on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Publications!

Blog Tour + Giveaway: It Takes Two To Tango by M.A. Church

Author Name: M.A. Church 
Book Name: It Takes Two to Tango
Series:  Fur, Fangs, and Felines
Book: Book Three
Release Date: September 26, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Pages or Words: 230 pages
Genres:  Erotic Romance / Vampires / Werewolves/Shapeshifters


Can two very different men find the love they need to survive?

Remi Ginn’s an easygoing werecat with a love of snarky T-shirts who would be perfectly happy with a human mate. Is that what the goddess Bast gives him? Of course not. Instead she gifts him with Marshell, a Vetala: a snakelike nonshifter who drinks blood to survive. A man who’s just as toppy as Remi—and even more powerful than the West Falls Clowder’s Alpha and heir apparent.

While Remi decides whether he can handle the fates’ choice, hunters attack Marshell. In an explosion of passion, Remi and Marshell mate and Remi declares Marshell his. Now they have to figure out how to make their relationship work as they dance around each other.

The clowder is in turmoil, and Remi’s acceptance of Marshell rocks the very foundation of the insular group. The consequences will be far-reaching. And if that isn’t problem enough, the situation with the hunters is far from resolved… as the appearance of an Alpha werewolf proves.




How long have you been writing? What inspired you to start writing?

Actually, not very long. Hmmm, maybe a couple of years? I got my start back in 2010. I was surfing the net and was looking for free short stories to read. I ran across this site called Literotica and stumbled across the Gay Male section. I was hooked, lol. 

Somehow I’d missed all this. And boy, did I scrounge around there, reading every single story! There were some very good ones, and some very, very bad ones, lol. After reading there for half a year, I decided to try my hand at writing a story.

I was surfing the net and was looking for free short stories to read. I ran across this site called Literotica and stumbled across the Gay Male section. I was hooked, lol. Somehow I’d missed all this. And boy, did I scrounge around there, reading every single story! There were some very good ones, and some very, very bad ones, lol. After reading there for half a year, I decided to try my hand at writing a story.

What finally pushed me into pubbing was winning a winter-themed contest on Literotica several years ago. I’d been writing The Harvest series there. So I wrote a Christmas story having to do with the characters from Harvest and entered it. *laugh* It won first place. What’s significant about that was this was *not* a M/M contest. Most of the entries were M/F actually. That helped make my mind up. 

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

It’s like approaching a good-looking person at a bar. You make eye contact—there’s a spark. You check each other for a little while then… you meet. Talk. Flirt. Cop a feel or two and see if that spark turns into a blazing fire, lol. A time or two I’ve had to walk away and find another title to eye.  

I’ve been lucky. Titles have never been um, hard, for me to ah, come, up with. *laugh* Okay, I’ll stop now.

Describe your writing space.

Well, lol, it depends on where I end up. Some days the laptop and I are on the couch in the den. There are a *lot* of windows in there, and I can see the pond from the couch. It’s bright and sunny. Usually Kitty curls up on a pillow next to me while I write.

Other times I’m in the bedroom. The hubby works nights two weeks out of four. Normally, he falls asleep in the bedroom because it’s dark in there. But there are times the Outdoor Channel grabs him and he falls asleep on the couch. Those days I end up in the bedroom. I sit on the bed with Kitty curled up at the end of the bed, lol.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I’ve never truly struggled with writer’s block, except for one time. For a good six to eight months after the stroke I had in 2012, I struggled. So… I don’t know if you would really call that writers block. Regardless of whatever you’d call it I struggled getting my thoughts on the page. 

I know now part of the problem had to do with the medications I was on. Once that was straightened out, things got better. Even though the stroke wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I still needed time to recuperate. 

What comes first for you, the plot or characters?

For me, the plot comes first. I have to have some working idea of what I’m writing, lol. Before I ever put pen to paper, so to speak, I have a beginning, middle, and end. *laugh* I guess it’s the teacher in me. I can’t help it, lol. Now, that’s not to say there isn’t room for change. Hell, there’s even been a time or two I threw the plot out the window and started completely over. Talk about stressing me out, though, so that doesn’t happen often.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

The first thing would be to research the publisher you’re looking at. Google them. Go look at their website. What kind of covers do they have? Do you like them? Go on places like ARe and check out the bestseller list. What publishers are there? Ask around. Talk to others. Listen to what’s being talked about on social media and blogs. I hate to say it, but if there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

The other thing I’d say is don’t give up, and please, don’t take rejection to heart. This is a business. Publishers want to make money. If they don’t think something will work for them, they’ll give it a pass. That doesn’t mean they think the story sucks. So, okay then, it’s been rejected. Send that story off to another publisher.   


Chapter One—Remi

Fuck my life.
I’d have to check, but I was pretty sure I had a shirt that said that somewhere in my closet. If I didn’t, it was next on the list of things to get. Because it fit—my life was fucked.
Sighing, I turned the radio up in an effort to drown out my thoughts. I rattled down the road in my old beat-up work truck—which was another thing I needed to take care of. I’d owned a sweet ’69 Ford Mustang. Had being the key word. It went up in flames not long ago… with the mate of Dolf, our heir apparent and head beta, inside.
Kirk made it out alive. My baby wasn’t so lucky, and I hadn’t replaced her yet. Yes, I was mourning a car. I loved her. Ugh. So much for drowning out my thoughts. I turned on my blinker and made the turn onto Alpha Armonty’s street for an emergency meeting he’d called.
Bad enough this was Monday, but it was what humans called Cyber Monday, goddess help us. I turned the heat up a little more. December had arrived with what the South considered abnormally cold temperatures. Frankly I liked the cold—liked the snow, as long as we weren’t buried under a mountain of the stuff.
As I pulled up in front of his house, I saw Dolf’s truck was already there. Dolf, our head beta, was the Alpha’s son and heir apparent. The other three betas—Heller, Aidric, and Brier—had arrived too. That left me. I was also a beta for the West Falls Clowder.
I parked behind Heller and sat in my truck, staring sightlessly at the house. One of the reasons we were meeting was because I met my mate, Marshell Foles, a few days ago. Good news, right? Cue the canned audience applause.
Now the bad news. My mate was possibly stronger than my Alpha and the heir apparent together. Okay, now cue the canned boos and hisses. Maybe I should’ve said life was fucked with a capital F.
I flashed back to the night I found out he was mine and the heavy petting session we had on his couch. Now my cock was hard. Wonderful. Just what I needed—an erection right before I met with my Alpha.
I pushed at the bulge, frowning. “Down, boy. I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
In order for a shifter to mate, we had to share come and blood during sex—which involved bottoming. For my mate I could bottom. The thing was, I didn’t see myself doing it on a regular basis. I was a top—which was not that big of a deal, except so was Marshell.
Somehow I didn’t see Marshell bottoming any more than I wanted to. The man screamed Alpha male. That was another can of worms, and not the only one by any means. And sitting here analyzing this was useless. I got out and walked toward the front door before one of them noticed me sitting out here in my truck like a dummy.
Just as I got to the door, Dolf opened it, read my shirt, and promptly burst out laughing. “You have got to tell me where you get those.”
Smirking, I shook my head. “It’s a well-guarded secret.”
Today I wore a black shirt with white writing: Be careful when you follow the masses…. Sometimes the M is silent. “Masses” was in light blue, as was the letter M, to draw attention to the play on words. I’d been known to follow an ass or two in my day. Those days were over now.
Dolf nodded at my truck. “I was wondering if I was going to have to come out there.”
“I had a feeling you’d be tapping on the driver’s window if I didn’t get out soon,” I said as Dolf moved out of the way so I could enter the Alpha’s home.
“I was counting down. Dad and the rest are already in his office.”
“That’s where the food is, right? I just got off work, so I haven’t eaten.”
Dolf clapped me on the shoulder as he shut the front door. “Of course. Come on back before they eat it all—damn bunch of vultures.”
I followed Dolf. The smells coming from Alpha Armonty’s office made my mouth water. “Something smells good.”
“Mom got hot wings. There are fries, coleslaw, and potato salad to go with it. And rolls too.”
“Your mom rocks.”
We entered the office. Everyone was still standing around helping themselves. Good. That meant there was still food, and I made a beeline for it.
“Hey! Look what the cat finally dragged in.” Aidric shoulder-bumped me.
“Oh, such sharp wit. It cuts like a dull knife.” I rolled my eyes. “And don’t think I didn’t notice you bumping me away from the table, you hog.”
“Hot wings, man.” Aidric winked at me. “Food of the gods and hungry werecat shifters.”
“You’re always hungry,” I griped, shoving Aidric out of my way. “Stop blocking the table, dude.”
“Hey, Remi,” Brier greeted me.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
“Good, good. Just got through helping my sister, Breanna, move into her new apartment here in town. I swear, how does one person accumulate that much stuff?” Brier complained.
“Oh that’s right. I forgot she was back,” I said. “Where was she living before?”
“Philadelphia. She moved up there for her job, but she couldn’t stand the cold weather and endless snow. All she did was gripe, gripe, gripe. I finally got tired of hearing it and told her if she was that unhappy, then she should move back home. I was kidding, but I don’t think she got that. Next thing I know I’m getting a phone call and a due date for her to move.” Brier scowled at a chip on his plate. “Should’ve kept my mouth shut.”
“What did you tell me she did?” I asked.
“She’s an accountant. Now that she’s settled into her new place, she’s started job hunting. She’s got some savings, but that won’t last forever.”
“Is she still unmated?” I asked.
“Yep. She had a boyfriend, but they weren’t mates. And speaking of mates, I heard you found yours. Man, sorry I couldn’t attend the dinner. Congrats.” Brier sat down at the round table we always used for meetings.
“Yeah, you should’ve seen his face.” Aidric chuckled.
“Thanks,” I said, unsure if I should say more. Did Brier know the situation? Aidric did. He was there that night.
“Welcome, Remi.” Alpha Armonty pointed at the side table where the drinks were set. “There’s several different sodas to pick from, and tea. Get yourself a plate and grab a seat.”
“Yes, Alpha.” I filled a plate and got a drink. After we were settled, Alpha Armonty cleared his throat. All talking ceased.
“We’re meeting for several reasons. First let me congratulate Remi. As I understand it, Remi met his mate during Heller’s Thanksgiving dinner, which I wish now the wife and I had attended.”
“Yeah, you never know what kind of trouble Heller’s going to stir up,” Aidric joked.
“Again, let me remind everyone Lawson’s to blame for the whole Thanksgiving deal. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.” Heller nodded as though that was the end of the subject.
“You chickenshit.” Aidric poked Heller in the ribs. “Look at you trying to throw it off on your mate, and the guy isn’t even here to defend himself.”
“I’ll tell him,” I volunteered, flashing Heller an evil grin. “Knowing Lawson, he’ll hide Heller’s hair-styling stuff as revenge. Hmm, I might even have to suggest that. Just in case, you know.”
“He’d need a storage unit for all of it,” Brier added and then took a drink of his soda.
“And a forklift to get it to the storage unit.” Dolf snickered, licking the sauce from the hot wings off his fingers.
“Just a damn minute here.” Heller threw his napkin at me. “How’d this discussion get off onto me anyhow? And Remi? You might want to remember Lawson’s like a brother to your mate. Maybe I’ll tell Lawson to tell Marshell how you picked on me… and I’ll have you in the doghouse, man.”
Doghouse? Really?” Dolf hooted.
“Sounds better than cathouse.” Heller shrugged and then bit into a wing.



Life Bucket List - 10 things I want to do or try

1. Go whale watching
2. Swim with dolphins
3. Visit the Empire State building
4. Visit an honest-to-goodness castle
5. Take an overnight train
6. See my favorite football team play. Go #Steelers!
7. Go to a Super Bowl
8. Experience zero gravity
9. See the northern lights
10. Take an Alaskan cruise 


$5.00 gift card from Amazon

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M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!
When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.
She was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, runner up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards, and is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Books all things Paranormal and Romance and Assassins 13
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Audiobook Review: Tasting Notes by Cate Ashwood

There's nothing that can't be solved over a glass of excellent wine.

Joseph "West" Weston has paid for his wealth and success with long hours at the office and no personal life to speak of. Meetings, conference calls, and paperwork dominate his waking hours and have kept him from honoring the promise he made to his late grandfather years before.

 After leaving the Marines, Robert "Rush" Coeman returns to his hometown and settles in as a Christmas tree farmer. His life is quiet and simple, and he likes it that way. When West arrives in town and buys Rush's parents' vineyard on a whim, that simple life is turned upside down. The animosity between them is palpable, but Rush shelves his preconceived notions in order to protect his parents' legacy. He agrees to help West learn how to run the vineyard, and Rush soon realizes that love doesn't necessarily come in the package he expected.

Listening Length: 6 hours and 12 minutes
Narrator: Michael Pauley

I loved the setup for Tasting Notes, the blurb is delicious and it’s been on my TBR since it came out. I was all grabby hands when the audio version came up in the clubhouse and I’m so glad I got to finally get the story of West and Rush.

This is the first time I’ve heard this narrator and I liked his voice very much. He has a cadence however that didn’t match well once the actual romance got started. His sentences are clipped short and it sounds very Joe Friday from Dragnet. The voice and tone ended up working well for Rush, it kind of fit his personality, but not so much for the tender moments and the rest of the characters. There were two distinct parts that really stuck with me. They had both characters opening up and those brief exchanges were exactly what I wanted for the rest of the book. The narrator let go of ‘narrating’, his voice softened considerably and he emoted perfectly. I wanted so much more of that. The fact that I noticed those parts so distinctly tells me how much it was missing the rest of the time.

For the first part of the book, Rush is a real dick. I honestly did not like the man at all and his animosity towards West was borderline assaultive. I have a hard time overcoming that in a story, enemies to lovers is not a theme I’m overly find of as it can be hard to let that go unless there is a distinct and believable reason for the hate. We don’t find out until well into the story where Rush is coming from, and while I got it, I still didn’t forgive him completely. It was just a little too much hate in the beginning and if it had been dialed back I would have been more on board with the transition to the “something more”.

Once the two got together though, the story was so much better for me. Rush is lucky that West is so forgiving and mature in his views on relationships and people in general otherwise he probably would have been shit out of luck with a future with West. I liked West a lot and probably was feeling overly protective of him because he is a likable guy and I wanted better for him than the attitude that Rush threw his way.

But, like I said, the story greatly improved and I liked how the author had Rush evolve from a secluded selfish bastard into a loving and giving partner. He had help and a swift kick in the ass from his mother which was good since he is kind of clueless in the relationship department. Once he pulled it together though it was very sweet. Subtle, but still sweet. It was at this point the narrator gave me those two moments and I was a happy listener.

This is a relatively low angst listen and I’d give the narrator another go to see if he might be a better match with a different story. The story itself is engaging and it’s worth the frustration in the beginning to get to the HEA for Rush and West.

For more information on Tasting Notes, visit Dreamspinner Press.

**A copy of this audiobook was provided for an honest review**

Giveaway + Book Blitz: Guns n' Boys by K.A. Merikan

The lovely Merikans and their guns and their boys are here once more with an
 AMAZEBALLS giveaway!

Series Recap Tour & Giveaway

Guns n' Boys Series 

K.A. Merikan 

Author: KA Merikan

Series Links

Guns n' Boys: He is Poison (Book #1) Amazon US  Amazon UK
Guns n' Boys: He is Mine (Book #2) Amazon US  Amazon UK
Guns n' Boys: Paris (Book #2.1) Amazon US  Amazon UK 
Guns n' Boys: Homicidal Instinct (Book #3) Amazon US  Amazon UK 
Guns n' Boys: Swamp Blood (Book #4) Amazon US  Amazon UK 
Guns n' Boys: Chokehold (Book #5) Amazon US Amazon UK 


‘Guns n’ Boys’ is a twisted, dark erotic romance mixed with a crime thriller. It’s a long, turbulent journey of one couple deeply entrenched in the dealings of their mafia family. Behind the morbid humor and extreme violence hides the intense love affair of Domenico Acerbi, the mafia’s best hitman, and Seth Villani, the Don’s son.

Together, they have to deal with their blooming affection for each other, their family’s homophobia, their own prejudice, lust, jealousy, and violence. In true anti-hero fashion, they do so in most morally ambiguous ways. 

Author Bio

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.





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Review: Counterbalance by Aidan Wayne

John loves his job as head rigger for Cirque Brilliance. The heavy scarring over half his face makes it a little hard to meet new people, but John's got a good crew and a nice found family, and he’s content with his lot in life.

When Cirque hires talent for a new show, John meets Bao, a bright, ever-cheerful acrobat. Bao seems drawn to John and becomes a constant presence at his side—talking to him during downtime, spending time with him at lunch, and generally seeking out his company.

John doesn't know what to make of this. Sure, he likes Bao—maybe a little too much, honestly—but he’s had enough experience to know that Bao couldn’t possibly like him back. Or so he thinks, anyway. Fortunately, Bao seems determined to prove him wrong.

This is so sweet!

Aidan Wayne really knows how to write feel-good books. Reading a story of these is a promise of a smile threatening to split my face in two.

They are kind of theatre plays.

Basically they are about two characters with flaws, but this kind of flaws that are not really defects, but an aspect of their lives that prevents them from really looking for happiness because of the fear of how they will be viewed and judged by society. The problem is, this view and judgment they are scared of focuses only on the superficial aspects rather than the real person beneath. The characters grow thanks to the other one, they get free of their chains and embrace and cherish what’s truly important of themselves. Or at least, they find the way to go there.

John’s surname in the Cirque is Phantom. It’s no wonder why that is, as half his face is scarred, like part of his body. People try not to get close to him if they can help it.

Until Bao.

Bao is the new Chinese acrobat. He is cheerful and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He loves talking to everybody. And, apparently, he seems to like to be close to John more than to anybody else.

John doesn’t know what to make of it. At first, he has no clue why someone like Bao would want to do anything with something like him. At first, he tells himself Bao is nice to everybody, and for once, he doesn’t make an exception with him. At first, he tells himself Bao just want him as a friend.

However, John begins to wish for something more, things that he gave up ages ago: a connection with someone. Love. He tries to lower his expectations, to extinguish hope before it ever has the chance to sparkle. He can be described as deliberately obtuse, but you also understand his reasons to be so blind, even when reality is so painfully obvious.

Because he knows it’s not possible. For someone to love him. For Bao to love him.

Is it?

Bao is adorbs. John is too cute for words. Their interactions made me hop on my seat. The action goes smoothly and their closeness happens naturally, without forcing the situation, which, by the length of the book, is impressive.

Bao can be considered too bright, too perfect, too selfless. But hey, John is the epitome of a generous heart, too. This may feel more like a fairy tale than the real world. But in the Cirque magic happens, right?

All in all, I can see this relationship being developed beyond that open ending, resulting in a great novel. In fact, I’m curious enough to know how this author is when writing a full story.

Add to your shelf on Goodreads or Booklikes!

Don't forget to visit the Counterbalance blog tour here and enter the giveaway!

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Counterbalance by Aidan Wayne

Aidan Wayne is here to promote their latest release, Counterbalance (which we reviewed here) Leave a comment below for a chance to win a $20 Riptide Publishing credit.

 About Aidan Wayne

Aidan Wayne is a big believer in character-driven stories with happy endings. This is not to say that stories can’t contain a little (or a lot) of grief, just that at the end of it all expect there to be bandages and hugs. They particularly like to write about minority characters because damn it, they deserve happy endings too.

When not writing, Aidan enjoys practicing aerial, martial arts, and ASL, and watching reality cooking shows. They are probably in the middle of twelve projects as you read this.

About Counterbalance

John loves his job as head rigger for Cirque Brilliance. The heavy scarring over half his face makes it a little hard to meet new people, but John's got a good crew and a nice found family, and he’s content with his lot in life.

When Cirque hires talent for a new show, John meets Bao, a bright, ever-cheerful acrobat. Bao seems drawn to John and becomes a constant presence at his side—talking to him during downtime, spending time with him at lunch, and generally seeking out his company.

John doesn't know what to make of this. Sure, he likes Bao—maybe a little too much, honestly—but he’s had enough experience to know that Bao couldn’t possibly like him back. Or so he thinks, anyway. Fortunately, Bao seems determined to prove him wrong.

To celebrate the release of Counterbalance, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 17, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Review: Vespers (Hours of the Night #1) by Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt

Thaddeus Dupont has had over eighty years to forget… 

The vampire spends his nights chanting the Liturgy of the Hours and ruthlessly disciplines those unnatural urges he's vowed never again to indulge. He is at the command of the White Monks, who summon him at will to destroy demons. In return, the monks provide for his sustenance and promise the return of his immortal soul. 

Sarasija Mishra's most compelling job qualification might be his type O blood… 

The 22-year-old college grad just moved across the country to work for some recluse he can't even find on the internet. Sounds sketchy, but the salary is awesome and he can't afford to be picky. On arrival he discovers a few details his contract neglected to mention, like the alligator-infested swamp, the demon attacks, and the nature of his employer's "special diet". A smart guy would leave, but after one look into Dupont's mesmerizing eyes, Sarasija can't seem to walk away. Too bad his boss expected "Sara" to be a girl.

Falling in love is hard at any age… 

The vampire can't fight his hungers forever, especially since Sara's brought him light, laughter and a very masculine heat. After yielding to temptation, Thaddeus must make a choice. Killing demons may save his soul, but keeping the faith will cost him his heart.

Gothic romance Big Easy style, cher
There was even a gator!

"I would resign myself to an eternity in hell if it meant a single lifetime with him."

Vespers left an impression with its resplendent atmosphere. These authors blended romance and action in a Gothic setting, historical references and religious overtones thrown in for flavor and Voila! Tantalizing cocktail! That I cannot wait to order another of.

I'm not a religious person but I am fascinated by religion especially Catholicism mainly because it appeals to the history buff in me and the repression. Not gonna lie. All that repression and denial... when it overflows... magical fireworks. BUT this book isn't overwhelmingly religious. Thaddeus was training to be a monk when he was turned into a vampire and remains under contract to the White Monks to fight against the forces of evil and he takes his faith as seriously as his job of devout, vampire, monk, ninja fighting the demon hordes on his own in a futile effort to "save" his soul. 

If you know anything about monks the word ascetic should come to mind. Thaddeus believes himself to be an abomination not solely because he requires blood to sustain himself but also because of his sexuality. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, these two needs are linked which is why he only hires female assistants until an honest mistake by his daylight agent, Nohea, brings Sara into his life.

"He was only a man who wanted a man- not the vampire or the monk, but the man at the heart of them both."

Sara is a force. Thaddeus is immediately attracted to him with Sara being slower to recognize what's happening between them. They have a connection and I don't just mean they click. In fact, more often than not they clash. Sara is twentysomething and Thaddeus is over 100. Sara is modern tech kid to Thaddeus' old world charm with actual books-the ones with covers. Sara is non-practicing Hindu to Thaddeus' devout Catholic. Sara is out and proud to Thaddeus's self-flagellating penance and daily prayers for his salvation. Yet despite all their differences love bubbles up and becomes preeminent. However, there is something otherworldly between them that defies logic. Is it kismet? Or something... more?

I'll tell you what else is otherworldly is the sudden influx of demons who seem hellbent on garnering Thaddeus's attention. Why the sudden interest is the mystery to be solved in this installment but there is no cliffhanger. There is minimal violence with an uptempo pace. There were times I thought the story dragged with one too many internet searches and arguments between Thaddeus and Sara over his restriction to the house but my quibbles were evanescent. 

The level of sophistication in the construction of these characters, their voices and this story was truly superb. I never once questioned whose head I was in because they are that clearly defined. With dual perspectives I cannot overstate how much I respect distinctiveness. Sara's actions, thoughts and language are reflective of his age as are Thaddeus'.

Their relationship progression is subtle. It's skillfully developed throughout the story. They are never typical employer/employee and there is a definite power differential in more ways than one. While Thaddeus is extremely possessive and protective and maybe a little demanding, bossy and overbearing (a tiny bit. Really, it's nothing.) he doesn't discount Sara and there are playful moments interspersed throughout. The tension between them was the sweetest torture. I love all of these things because this is stuff of the aforementioned magical fireworks. Oh the dividends... passion, maybe a little desperate need and a bit of cosseting. I do so love a good cosset.

"Their shared pulse pounded through him. His body erupted in starbursts and lightning. And his soul found... communion."


Definitely recommend and can't wait for the next one. I need more adventures and I'm curious how things will evolve after that final scene with Patrick and Micheal. Interesting stuff sure to make the road ahead... unpredictable. 

*presses nose to glass in anticipation*

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

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