Guest Review: Bronze Star (Veteran Affairs #3) by A.E. Wasp

Chris Dobbs is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants now is his boss.
Everything about the dangerously handsome enigmatic older man drives him to his knees in more ways than one, ways Chris is realizing he’s always craved.

Giving Jay-Cee his body is as simple as breathing, but when Chris smashes through all of Jay-Cee’s hard earned control, he learns Jay-Cee demands more than just his obedience. He wants things Chris can’t give him - his heart, his soul, and his trust.

Jay-Cee offered his brilliant young protégé everything. In return, Chris took only the pieces he wanted and rejected the rest, leaving Jay-Cee reeling.

But the deep connection between them isn’t easily severed, and it promises to heal them both of the scars of their pasts. If they are to build a sanctuary from the rubble of their broken hearts, they’re going to have to risk everything.


Reviewer: Shee Reader

Jay-Cee is an artist, sculptor and safe place for young, messed up fellow veterans to get into their art and rehabilitate somewhat. One of his ‘boys’ is Chris. A very talented artist to whom Jay-Cee is constantly fighting his attraction. He’s too old for Chris. Too jaded and far to stuck inside his own head. Chris on the other-hand knows none of these limits, and is determined to make Jay-Cee notice him.

Their first kiss sets the stage for some angst ridden sexual encounters of the Dom-sub kind. Chris is just what Jay-Cee has always wanted, but he’s not sure if he can ever let it happen for real. Just the one night then. (The reader muffles a sarcastic giggle at that.) These guys are no more a one night stand than they are sweet veterans who have no scars of war.

There follows a tumultuous affair of emotional highs and devastating lows, both men have to admit their mistakes and let the other in. It was an emotional and absorbing tale that had me almost breathless at the passion and pain in both characters. As an aside, I loved that both men were charmingly well read, and often quoted books or poetry to each other.

The story draws to a close with Jay-Cee making a cross country flight to his sick father’s bedside at just the wrong moment for him and Chris. When Chris follows and they discover very similar upbringings in very close proximity the exchanges are fascinating.

I particularly enjoyed the input from our guy’s friends, and my absolute favourite character, Jay-Cee’s aunt. She’s completely fabulous!

A E Wasp isn’t a new author to me, but this is the first Veterans Affair novel I’ve read, and I will almost certainly go looking for Paper Hearts and Paper Roses to get a better look at Benny and Mikey’s story.

Highly recommended!

I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34510220-bronze-star?ac=1&from_search=true

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Solid Ground by Jeff McKown



Join Jeff McKown and IndiGo Marketing on the Solid Ground blog tour! Learn more about the author and his book! Don't miss the NineStar Press eBook giveaway!


Title:  Solid Ground
Author: Jeff McKown
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: April 24
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: No Romance
Length: 114200
Genre: Literary Fiction, drug/alcohol abuse, family drama, gay, homophobia, humor, infidelity, literary, religion, writer

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Synopsis

As Conor McLeish’s fortieth birthday approaches, the life he’s always dreamed of has finally taken shape. He has a steady day job, a debut novel, and Will, his Buddhist boyfriend of nearly a decade. He should be happy. The trouble is, Conor wouldn’t know happy if it smiled, winked, and offered to buy him a drink. With a hard-earned penchant for self-sabotage and an unfortunate Jameson habit, Conor frequently finds a way to disappoint himself and those he loves.

Solid Ground is a story of personal evolution—how we are each sculpted by the past, carved out of childhood, shaped and molded by what we’ve done and by what’s been done to us. For better or worse, who we are is the unavoidable sum of it all. But how we are, how we choose to love, and whether we stand alone in the end, that—at least in part—is up to us.

Excerpt

Solid Ground
Jeff McKown © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I was never worth much. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly clever or funny or handsome. I didn’t sing like an angel or say the darnedest things, and I was never the adorable kid in the tiny plaid vest and bow tie. I played Little League for a while, but I was mostly tucked away in right field, which in retrospect didn’t matter much since no one was there to watch me. My mother was too busy drying out my father to have time for shit like that.

Don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t a bad kid. I didn’t light fires or torture cats. I just wasn’t a kid anyone fought for. If it weren’t for my grandmother, I might never have known there was anything decent in me. June was my one true believer, the only one who waved my flag, tattered piece of shit that it was. She was busy with her own life—sipping whiskey at blackjack tables and flirting with strangers—but she found time to pay attention to me, which in the end is all a kid really wants.

Some people learn from their childhood bullshit. They overcome nearly insurmountable obstacles and get invited to appear on Oprah, where they shine like beacons for the rest of the less fortunate. Others just grow up and make one awful mistake after another. I’ve always been somewhere in the middle, half fuck-up and half hidden-heart-of-gold, the kind of guy you love in spite of the horrible shit he’s done.

*****

I heard Will through the screech of grinding metal parts and the clatter of a thousand porcelain dinner plates crashing to the floor. “You have to let it go, Conor.”

“I can’t.” I glanced down at my phone.

“You can, but you won’t.”

“Who even taught her to text?” I took one hand off the wheel and mashed my reply into the small, flat keyboard.

“Pay attention to the road.”

“I’m being careful.”

“Jerking the steering wheel back after you swerve out of your lane isn’t being careful.”

“I’m using the little bumps in the road the way you’re supposed to—to make corrections.”

He shook his head and sighed. “If you have to keep texting, let me drive.”

“Calm down. It’s bumfuck I-10 on a Saturday morning.” I checked the rearview mirror and turned my attention to an incoming text.

“Bitch,” I whispered as I pounded another reply into the phone.

“Nice. She did give birth to you.”

“It’s not my mom. It’s Aunt Doris.” The phone beeped again and my eyes darted back to the screen.

He rested his hand on my thigh. “Try not to get so worked up. It’s not good for your heart.” I was barely middle-aged, but Will was ten years younger than me. It was a difference he liked to play up.

I smiled and rubbed the top of his hand. “You make me feel lucky.”

“Show your gratitude by keeping me alive all the way to your mom’s house.” His voice was soft and earnest, as though by not sending him to his death in a fiery crash I was doing him a solid.

“Is it too late to turn around?”

“Just keep going.”

Driving across Florida isn’t all palm trees and pink flamingos. There’s plenty of that shit down south, but up north there’s plenty of rural nothing. My dad calls this lonely stretch of the Florida panhandle the “Eglin Desert.” Other than the desert’s namesake air force base, there’s just mile after mile of pine tree-lined interstate, and a light sprinkling of highway exits, each of which leads nowhere and offers little more than a depressing, albeit useful, combination Exxon-Burger King-convenience store.

Beep.

I looked at Will, seeking his permission to check the phone. Two raised eyebrows implored me to stay focused on the road.

I checked the rearview mirror again, turned up the radio, adjusted the air conditioning vents, and then finally snatched at the cell phone in the console, knocking it to the floorboard in the process.

“Fuck.” I fished around blindly on the floor mat.

“Let it go.”

“Not a strength for me.” I hunched low in the driver’s seat, keeping one hand on the wheel as my other hand traced methodical rows across the faux carpet beneath me.

“Jesus Christ!” He thrust his hands onto the dashboard as we veered center and a twenty-ton Peterbilt rocketed toward us. I jammed the brakes and jerked the wheel, steering us out of the overgrown median and back into our lane. A rush of blood raced to my temples, blurring the outside world.

I took a long slow breath and eased the car to the shoulder. “Fine. You drive.”

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Author Interview

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

I was a poet in my early years, and I don’t think I wrote any fiction until I was in my twenties. The first story I remember writing was a supernatural tale about a boy who gets inexplicably lost as he bicycles around his own neighborhood trying to find his way home. I named the story “Jeremiah Blues,” a title I took from a Sting song of the same name. In the song lyrics, Sting references the Shakespeare line, “...when something wicked this way comes.” I decided if Sting could borrow from literature for music, I'd borrow something back from music for literature.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

I don’t get much work done without structure and scheduling (I sound like a load of fun at parties, eh?). When I wrote the first draft of Solid Ground, I worked in the afternoons for 4-6 hours each day. Oddly enough, when I reached the editing stage, I shifted my writing time to early mornings. If I'm serious about a project now, I still enjoy writing before the sun comes up.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I’m a hardcore outliner. That’s not to say I don’t seek out inspiration (especially from the music I listen to as I write), but at the start of the project, I plot things out as best as I can. I write a one or two page story synopsis and a basic biography of each important character. Then, I break the story arc into acts and outline key moments and scenes within each act. Having said that, once I start writing I’m open to following whatever rabbit trails I come across. With Solid Ground, I veered off course several times and those side trips yielded some of the best elements of the story.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love Scrivener writing software. I’m like a TV evangelist for this software, only I’m not asking for donations.

Where did the desire to write LGBTQIA+ stories come from?

I like to write about character flaws and individual struggles, how the seemingly tiny moments in life can ultimately define us. For me, the details of the experiences and challenges LGBTQIA+ characters face may differ from those of their CIS hetero brothers and sisters, but in the end, our stories are all just human stories.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

My stories are set in everyday places among everyday people, so I’m not a big researcher. To make sure my characters sound real and compelling, I draw from my own experiences and from a lifetime of paying attention to books, movies, music, and pop culture. I’ve also been lucky enough to have some excellent beta readers and writing group buddies who have been willing to spray paint the awful parts of my manuscripts when I’ve been off the mark.

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

Hands down, naming the characters is the most difficult! Actually, naming them is...a cakewalk. Renaming them once you realize a few names need to be tweaked is…a challenge. BUT, getting used to their new names and calling them by those names as you edit and discuss the story...that's torture! First, it’s just mentally challenging to make the switch. Second, and more important, it feels like you’re being unfair and maybe even unfaithful to the characters. But hey, Conor is a more compelling name than Rob. So, there you have it.

How do you answer the question “Oh, you're an author...what do you write?"

Fiction. I write intimate stories about people who try and don’t always succeed.

What does your family think of your writing?

I think they’re proud, and as surprised as I am that I finally finished a damn book.

Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.

My current work-in-progress is my second novel, Selfish. Like Solid Ground, Selfish is a first person narration that revolves around the small wonder and giant burden of family. The setting is a fictional town in Michigan, and the main character, Max Becker (or so he’s named for now), is forced to make a harrowing and deeply personal decision that will mean life or death, though not necessarily his own. Unlike Solid Ground, most of the characters in Selfish are not LGBTQIA+. I’m about half way through the first draft of the book and I’m excited to see if the storyline actually ends up where I originally told it to go.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

It’s cliché, but write every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. Some days, you’ll put in your fifteen minutes, bitch and moan a little, then shut your laptop and get back to the business of life. Other days, a quarter hour magically becomes three or four hours, and you’ll have to drag yourself away from the keyboard. Both kinds of days are okay.

If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?

I’d go back to my twenties to tell myself to write fifteen minutes every day.

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right? If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter (does not need to be sexual) between two characters, not your own, who would they be?

Hmmm. I suppose I’d like to peak in on Louis and Lestat, Anne Rice’s characters from the Vampire Chronicles. I loved their love, especially in the first hundred or so years when it was fresh and new.

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

Milk (for my Apple Jacks), grapes (to drop in my brandy), and cheese (the most versatile of all the dairy products).

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

To sleep through the night without waking up to pee.

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

I’d trade with Conor, my main character, so I could make better decisions than he does and spare him a shitload of grief.

If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go and what would the environment be like?

A small cabin in the redwood forest around Arcata, CA. There would be no television, telephone, or Internet, and I’d use a wood stove for heat. On the cozy front porch, I’d have the most comfortable writing chair known to mankind – an Eames lounge chair and ottoman (if you have $5,000 to spend on one, you’ll thank me). I know that’s how my fantasy sequester week would be because I was in that cabin in Arcata for a month in 2012. I’d go back tomorrow if I could.

What's the one thing, you can't live without?

Ice cream, Maker’s Mark, and tennis. Okay, that’s three things, but if I can’t have ‘em all it’s not worth it.

What internet site do you surf to the most?

I have a serious Twitter problem. Add me if you’d like to help keep me awake nights. (https://twitter.com/waythingsturn)

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three author guests be and why?

Christopher Moore (Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, etc.) – because he’s not only a terrific novelist, he’s also hilarious and kind.

Dave Eggers (Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, etc.) – because he’s brilliant and I’d probably be a better person by the end of the interview.

JK Rowling (Harry Potter, as if I needed to say that) – because she’s an unbelievable creator of compelling stories and characters and her British accent would make me giddy.

When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

I don’t recall my exact reaction, but it was in the ballpark of, “Seriously?” followed by some overzealous fist pumping and jumping about. I told both my partner, Paul, and our roommate (and live-in editor), Kyle as soon as I read the letter. Kyle got weepy and Paul said something akin to, “Holy shit!”


Meet the Author

Jeff McKown writes fiction. In his work, he is especially fond of exploring tragic flaws, unfortunate circumstances, and the small moments that matter. In life, he obsesses over tennis, politics, and whiskey, not necessarily in that order. He endeavors to be a better Buddhist — which hasn’t always worked out that well. He lives near Monterey, CA with his partner Paul and their best friend, Kyle. Solid Ground is his first novel.

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Review: Summer Stock by Vanessa North

Tabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder?

Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around.

As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.


Facing scandal and the possible end of his Hollywood career, Ryan Hertzog’s exiled to his cousin’s seaside theatre in North Carolina for the summer. Though he isn’t too happy about it at first, he soon realizes that getting back to his roots may be just what he needs.

Ryan’s lonely, even more so now that his best friend, Ali, is on the other side of the country. Having to keep his bisexuality under wraps makes it difficult to have lasting relationships.

Trey Donovan, a summer stock set builder, has been slowly putting himself back in the dating scene. His experiences with an abusive husband have left him wary. But he finds himself unable to resist Ryan’s laughter and sunshine.

The two don’t start off on the best foot. They have a drunken hookup, but Ryan remembers little of it and then escapes in a hurry the next morning, leaving Trey a bit offended.

But they patch things up quickly, once Trey realizes that it was a fear of his massive dog that made Ryan skedaddle the way he did.

They both know that getting involved with a co-worker probably isn’t the best idea, but the attraction between them won’t quit.


The romance between Trey and Ryan is gradual and sweet. There’s very little drama. Though the both have their pasts, and Trey is still recovering from his abusive relationship, this isn’t a particularly angsty book.

The two spend a lot of time talking, sharing bits of themselves with one another. This is one of those books where you really see the MCs fall for each other.

And the sex is scorching. Ryan and Trey have some great chemistry!

Four secondary characters play important parts in the book - Ali, West, Cora, and Mason. All were well-rounded and complex characters, but I did feel that they took up too much of the spotlight at times.

As the summer comes to an end, the two have to figure out what to do next. I thought the bumps in their relationship were entirely realistic. Obstacles and compromises are a big part of making relationships work.

The happy ever after was perfectly done. Trey and Ryan find a solution that gives them everything. Perhaps it was a bit too perfect, but I loved it.


If you’re looking for a laid-back, sweet, and sexy read, I’d definitely recommend giving ‘Summer Stock’ a try!


An ARC was provided by NetGalley.

Guest Review: Good as Gold: A Villainous Love Story by T.J. Land

Being the most powerful superhero in the world can get lonely.

Ask the Golden Ranger. He’s still struggling to make friends after landing on Earth two years ago, even now that he’s become a member of the Remarkables. Humans are just so complicated, with their odd aversion to public nudity, their obsession with sex, and their temperamental genitals.

Thank goodness for his villains. Sure, they’re crooks and it’s his job to thwart them, but at least they offer him a chance for social interaction. And they’re all pretty cool, as villains go. Henry X has a gun that can fire anything from exploding bullets to robot bees, and he's also got these incredible biceps and warm brown eyes – not that the Golden Ranger cares about stuff like that. Light Brigade can create holograms, plus he’s handsome and snarky and covered in tattoos – again, not that the Golden Ranger cares. The Sash can use his clothing as a weapon, which isn’t really fair seeing as how his slinky body would be an effective weapon all by itself. Which isn’t something the Golden Ranger cares about. At all.

It’s possible that the other Remarkables are right when they accuse the Golden Ranger of being a little too intrigued by his rogues gallery. But he thinks they’re just jealous. Even so, when they tell him that Henry X, Light Brigade and the Sash are working for someone who might be a threat to the whole city, the Golden Ranger knows he needs to learn the truth. And what better way to do that than by adopting a civilian disguise and getting to know his villains personally? It’s a brilliant plan. Nothing can go wrong.

65K, M/M/M/M, standalone.


Reviewer: R *A Reader Obsessed*


Well that was certainly different!

Imagine a world where superheroes on a daily basis, go against their set group of villains, trying to thwart whatever current scheme they’re hatching. It’s basically a gentlemen’s agreement - fighting crime/doing crime - a delicate balance of not too much and not too little, keeping the cycle going in order to live to fight another day.

First, you have Golden Ranger, who’s not from these parts. He’s actually an alien who left his planet in search of a purpose, and thus picked Earth to use his indestructible self to do good. This is a guy who’s a little naive, a little innocent, one who doesn’t fully grasp the nuances of human nature but is so eager to learn and acclimate. As a member of the superhero team, the Remarkables, Ranger has been tasked to keep in line three villains, who each have extraordinary, mysterious weapons to aid their escapades. In order to learn more about them, he dons a civilian disguise to covertly do recon.

Funnily enough, Ranger is not fooling anybody, let alone his three villains. These guys are simply ordinary men wanting more out of life, whether that be notoriety, a sense of purpose, or simply to belong. They too, have vulnerabilities and flaws, revealing personal facets that definitely blur the line that sharply delineates “good” from “evil”. As these four dance and interact, all of them come to know each other better, not only through their masked identities, but their true selves outside their disguises. Understandably, feelings change, loyalty develops, and their dynamic slowly evolves beyond their initial fractious beginning, as each is lonely and yearning for more.

So to make a long story even longer, there’s definitely a certain kind of interplay taking place between all the superheroes and their nemeses, creating a somewhat orchestrated environment of peace. However, there’s unseen forces and players manipulating the situation and purposefully influencing these 4 men and how they do their “jobs”. What results is a very complicated relationship that can often be antagonistic, intense, and definitely proprietary, as they ultimately band together to fight a common foe.

I’m finding it difficult to quantify or explain this story, except that it was interesting and unique, with some fun and funny, lending a comic book vibe or oddly enough, akin to the cartoon movie The Incredibles. I was consistently entertained despite no overt smexiness and the need of a good edit. In return though, there is some sweet romance and carnal, emotional scenes that involve all 4 players in various different groupings, and ultimately encompassing the full M/M/M/M aspect. It was well done and totally plausible. Well... plausible in a world of superheroes and villains. Overall, if you want something different and like this particular genre, I don’t think you could go wrong.

Thanks to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33554200-good-as-gold

Review: An Invitation by Jay Northcote

“I should put you over my knee and spank you for teasing me…”

Jake’s new boss, Cal Mackenzie, is hotter than hell. Fortified by a little liquid bravery on a work night out, Jake makes his move and finds out that Cal is interested too. To Jake’s dismay, Cal makes it clear that nothing is going to happen as long as they work together. Fortunately for both of them, this is just a temp job and there’s only a week left in the contract.

Cal admonishes Jake to behave while he waits, but as the week drags on, Jake can’t resist flirting and teasing. When Friday finally arrives, Cal shows Jake what happens to people who can’t follow his rules. Jake learns a surprisingly enjoyable lesson over Cal’s knee—one that he won’t forget in a hurry.

Length: 5870 words
This short story was originally published in the Juicy Bits anthology from Dreamspinner Press. It has been re-edited but no major changes have been made.


That was pretty damn sexy! Spanking at work and sex over the desk?!?! Hell YES!

This story is super short, so I didn’t expect, or want, a ridiculous HEA or a major emotional connection between the main characters. What I did want was some hot sex, humour if I was lucky enough and characters that feel realistic and that's what I got here.

Jake is working as a temp for Cal's company for a few short weeks and has quite the crush on his older and more distinguished boss.

There were a few disappointing moments such as Cal was waaaay to responsible and didn’t have sex with Josh until he’d officially stopped working for him, I mean, where's the fun in that! I want some taboo boss sex. Also Jake’s crush on Cal was very sudden, but given the length of the story it's fairly understandable.

Worth the read if you want something quick, light and a tiny bit kinky to pass a bit of time.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34489157-an-invitation

Blog Tour: Fishy Riot by Lindsey Black


Lindsey Black is making her clubhouse debut on the Release Day of her first novel!

Big Unicorn welcome and Happy Release Day!


There are a lot of lists out there along the lines of ‘hottest occupations’. We’ve all contributed at some point; a man in uniform, the military, police and firemen. Perhaps it was the intellectual—the teacher, the professor, the scientist, perhaps the occasional astronaut. Or sometimes it’s the trade, we like a plumber, an electrician or the odd builder. And then of course there is the sportsmen, because who doesn’t like a good footy or hockey player, right? There’s something about a man who works. I can’t say I’ve strayed far from the traditional in that sense with Fishy Riot; a policeman and a classical musician is an odd combination but both would be considered ‘attractive’ in the traditional sense. Though honestly, in Australia no one is really lining up to date a classical musician unless they’re in an AC/DC cover band.
Regardless, I thought it would be fun to briefly explore the attractive men of the Northern Territory, where I live, and what would be considered ‘stereotypically’ attractive. And by that I mean a completely separate species of man that is wholly un-attractive. I confess I enlisted the assistance of several companions in the creation of our list, but I hope it gives you a good chuckle. Here’s our wanted ad, for that special someone…
Wanted: True-Blue Territory (Bogan) Bloke
Requirements:
1. Must be unemployed, with nothing better to do than spend every waking hour administering to my needs. None of this 70 hour work week business. Not owning your own home is a bonus, you can move in immediately. Preferably on the dole, so you can help pay the rent. Basics card preferred, so you can’t go on any benders without my assistance.
2. No fancy bottles of wine for dinner, this lovely gent knows to turn up with a goon bag and knows how to hang it on the line. BYO plastic cups to avoid meningococcal, thanks. Doesn’t try to drink his partner’s goon and instead brings a carton of XXXX for himself.
3. Preferred footwear is thongs. Design matters; red white and blue colouring is obviously best but green and gold is tolerable. Singlets are clearly the shirt of choice, bonus points for both nipples out. Shorts, the shorter the better, stubbies clearly…no underwear, let it hang. We don’t like to restrict ourselves in this kind of heat.
4. Some scientific knowledge preferable, to run garage hydroponics, background in economics useful, or at least able to count notes. If unable, must own vehicle (unregistered is fine, no expectation that you actually have a license due to understandable charges) so you can pick up from dealer down the road. Short trip, fuel money provided since no Uber in NT.
5. No need for walks on the beach, have the app to put it on the TV, just need to walk to the couch together for Netflix and chill. No oysters, I’m allergic to seafood, just bring shark and taties from the corner store when you go for darbs.
6. Don’t expect to spend all your time with me; must have close knit circle of friends who are welcome at the house anytime, but must sleep outside. The bitza-dog you provide from the pound will be adequate protection from itinerants who somehow meander innocently into the kitchen through the dead-bolted door in their search for hydration and find only beer in the fridge.
7. Must enjoy piggin’ with the boys to provide for family. Bulk spotties on the Ute; must be a Ute so we can chuck the barbie in the back to cook ‘em up on the spot.
8. Tinny ownership preferred. You can always ‘borrow’ the neighbours though, he’s totes cashed up. 
9. Yuppie Barista types need not apply, but if you can shake Nescafe into a mug and stir it with anything but your finger, you’re already in front of the tea baggers. If you know what Chai is, don’t bother applying, ‘cos you'll be drinking that shit on your own.
Of course, it’s unlikely you’ll get many responses to this ad if you don’t live local to the NT, but perhaps you’ve discovered something special you can add to your own dating apps. Should you respond to an advertisement like that above and actually attend a party, do not be in any way surprised if you are expected to participate in a round of Goon of Fortune.
Goon of Fortune is a real game. The hills hoist clothesline was invented in Australia, as was the goon bag, so it should come as no surprise that someone invented a way to use both of these inventions in tandem. Basically, everyone stands around in a circle around the clothesline, and you hang a goon bag from one of the lines. The line is spun and whoever it lands above must tip their head back and take a drink. On and on and on… No wonder the world thinks Australians are alcoholics. We turned hanging out the washing into a drinking game! You’re welcome.
I hope you enjoy Fishy Riot and that it gives you a reason to laugh.
Release date for Fishy Riot: April 24th
Blurb:
Most people think riot squad officer Taylor Jameson is an asshole. Little do they know his apparent indifference stems from having a meddlesome family always butting into his business. And little does Taylor know he’s about to stumble into a situation that’ll make indifference impossible.
When everything goes horribly wrong at a political rally on a harbour ferry, Taylor encounters Sietta Salisbury. The son of a wealthy politician, Sietta is a revered—but presumed dead—musician, and an enigma who is so strange, Taylor is compelled to look into his background. What he discovers draws him into a bizarre mess of prisoners, politics, and attempted murder that makes him realise what he’s been missing.
Falling in love isn’t hard. Trying to convince someone else you’re worth loving despite your crazy family and the people trying to kill you? That’s a whole other can of worms.

About Lindsey Black:
Lindsey Black lives in Darwin, Australia, where the weather report permanently reads ‘humidity at 100%, only going to get worse’ for ten months of the year and ‘monsoon at 4:00 p.m. for exactly fifteen minutes’ for the remaining two. Between teaching and studying full-time, she escapes this oppressive environment to bushwalk for weeks on end wherever the mobile phone reception has zero bars for as long as possible and the weather report reads something along the lines of ‘blizzard likely.’ She enjoys martial arts, music, and mayhem, which explains the untidy state of her home where she attempts to write while splitting her minimal amounts of spare time between her incredulous husband, lazy Chinchilla cat, and crazed Siberian husky. If you expect her to sit and have a chat, it’s best to have a matcha green tea latte with almond milk on hand and your hiking boots within reach. Oh, and be sure to bring a guitar for impromptu jam sessions.
You can find Lindsey on facebook / twitter / www

Review: The Star of Versailles by Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham

As the Reign of Terror tears Paris apart, a dandy and a spy are thrown together on a desperate race through France.

In the darkest days of the Reign of Terror, rumors grow of the Star of Versailles, the most exquisite treasure ever owned by the doomed Marie Antoinette. For Vincent Tessier, the notorious Butcher of Orléans, this potent symbol of the ancien régime has become an obsession and he’ll stop at nothing to possess it.

When Alexandre Gaudet arrives in France to find his missing sister and nephew, the last thing he expects is to fall into Tessier’s hands. Tortured and left for dead, salvation stumbles accidentally, if rather decorously, into his path.

For Viscount William Knowles, life as a spy isn’t the escape he had hoped for. Yet a long-held secret won’t let him rest, and the fires of revolution seem like the easiest way to hide from a past that torments him at every turn.

Adrift in a world where love, family and honor are currencies to be traded, the world-weary Viscount Knowles and the scandalous Monsieur Gaudet have no choice but to try and get along if they want to survive. With Tessier in pursuit, they search for the clues that will lead them to the greatest treasure in revolutionary France—the Star of Versailles.




This was yet another slam dunk request, because French historical. The Star of Versailles is set during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror.




It is largely a fictional book but it does fold in some historically accurate information and if you know not of the French Revolution, it was a bloody affair. The authors did not pull any punches when it came to depicting the torture either. Beware the first 15% or so is predominantly Gaudet being tortured by Tessier. 

Then it mostly settles into a slow burn, opposites attract romance between William and Gaudet. 

William Knowles is an English spy who has adopted the persona of Yves Morel to infiltrate Tessier's inner circle. He's an introverted loner and a man of few words who has made every effort to submerge himself in work. He has his reasons for his escapist ways which are eventually revealed. He's also been straight up until he meets the fiery and irresistible Alexandre Gaudet.

Gaudet is his polar opposite in most ways. He's flamboyant, has close ties to the French royal family, has never met a stranger, is a chatterbox and a clotheshorse and has a penchant for wearing powder, rouge and the occasional dress. I was really looking forward to that dress but it never appeared. *pouty face* He's also outspoken, passionate, is utterly and completely devoted to his girl, "Mademoiselle Papillon", a poodle and reads very French. Despite what his outward appearance might lead one to believe, he's very perceptive and intelligent. I was a smitten kitten. 

This narrative is an ensemble cast with lots of head hopping. It's split between the burgeoning romance between William and Gaudet and the quest to find the Star of Versailles, a ginormous diamond of Marie Antoinette's. It's an obsession of Tessier's and it's likely in the possession of Claudine Gaudet, Gaudet's sister who was a former lady-in-waiting of the court.



The Star of Versailles is full of adventure and a toe curling romance saturated with UST. The authors did a great job of building tension and once they are together there is no contrived conflict. They just want to be together as much as the time period will permit and safe. They do get the HEA but they have to find Gaudet's sister and get out of France first. Both of these objectives push the plot forward. I would've liked an epilogue, though.

I don't ordinarily have a problem with head hopping but the head hopping has to have a purpose, has to drive the plot and there were too many times when I felt it was superfluous. I would've liked for the story to be tighter with less meaningless minutiae that could've been edited out altogether. 

Also, it says this book is 270 pgs on Goodreads. Ummm are those scroll pages?



Because they most assuredly are not kindle pages.

In the end I did enjoy this story, though I wish it had been more focused on the romance between Gaudet and William even though I did like the majority of the cast and thought they were all well drawn secondary characters whether they were "good" or "bad". There are strong female characters, adorable kids that read age appropriate, intelligent and sometimes monstrous men and one charming as all get out staring poodle. I should warn that there are on page mf interactions for those that find that problematic in their mm reads.

Recommend to historical fans, particularly French history.



A review copy was provided.





Audiobook Review: Rough Edges by Cardeno C.

Kyle has an unwelcome crush on his nemesis Brent. Brent has a welcome crush on his friend Kyle. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn't have to be a line at all.

Born on the wrong side of the tracks to the wrong family, Kyle Potter has spent his life clawing his way toward a better future. When he gets the perfect job at the perfect firm in perfect Los Angeles, Kyle is sure there are only blue skies ahead. And then he meets perfect Brent Haralson.

Born with a silver spoon to a well-established family, Brent Haralson has never been interested in leveraging his connections. Friends, success, and dates come easily to Brent and rejection isn't something he has to deal with in life. And then he meets perfect Kyle Potter.

Kyle despises his unwelcome crush on his lazy, arrogant nemesis. Brent welcomes his feelings for his stubborn, brilliant friend. As it turns out, the line between a friend and an enemy doesn't have to be a line at all.

Listening Length: 1 hour and 52 minutes
Narrator: Kevin Chandler


Another Cardeno C winner for me! Short and contemporary from this author seems to work for me.

I love a lot of tropes, but enemies to lovers is near and dear. In Rough Edges, the enemies are within a group of friends.



Can we say awkward especially when they all hangout?

Thirty-something year old Kyle is determined. He's come a long way from that trailer park in Alabama. He fought and studied hard to be a professional at a prestigious firm in LA. He's got the right clothes, the perfect job, and soon to be the perfect condo. And others think he's a pretentious snob, so what? He's earned it. What he can't stand are people who are "lazy" and live off their trust funds without working and making something of themselves.

Unfortunately, the guy he started to crush on when he first moved to LA, Brent, falls under that category. And Kyle's been prejudiced ever since. Two years has passed from that initial magic meeting. The vitriol that Kyle spews is still iron strong. He digs at the happy go lucky Brent any chance he gets.

One day Kyle loses it all. (Cardeno is good at that, giving a character maximum crap day dealings by the boatload) And you know who helps the pissy guy out? You guessed it, Brent. They become roommates.

In this book the enmity read more one sided but Brent had the mouth and backbone to give as good as he got. But damn is Kyle a prick to Brent. I get Kyle's mindset: when you come from nothing and have to fight for any semblance normal you can get, you could resent others who have it easier aka born with a silver spoon in their mouths.

But Brent's not that guy. He's so likeable. He gets under Kyle's skin. And best part is he gets why Kyle is the way he is toward him.

Kyle is angry and pretentious and that stick in his ass is rooted deep. (The thing is I expected Kyle to be appreciative and humble. But he's not that guy.)



Thankfully, the chemistry is there. And we got dual POV because if it was one sided, I might not have bought it.

I both read and listened to new to me narrator, Kevin Chandler. I think he did a pretty good job. And I would listen to him again. Chandler didn't make all the voices distinct.  But I loved what he does for Kyle's voice. I knew exactly where he was from (the South). And when Kyle gets upset, the Southern intensifies. That was the best part of the audiobook, his take on Kyle.

The roommates learn about each other. That years long lust that was shelved for Kyle's ridiculousness? It comes off the shelf...

"When you want more, I'll give you my dick and then we can see which of us is begging to finish first."

Yes!

The sex is hot, nothing extreme. But the author sets up the characters to share just enough of themselves for the moment to feel intimate. Having Chandler narrate those bits didn't hurt.

Someone's monogamous and definitely a relationship guy. (Cardeno C staple!) Once bedroom action happens, he wants his man. The relationship is not one sided. And the guys seemed to be a great fit, in and out of the bedroom.

Kyle's the type of character who needs to learn as a person to grow. I think he's still a work in progress. He shares his inner demons with Brent. And Brent brings out the best in him.

Overall, a pretty great story with good narration. I'd recommend either version: ebook or audio.





https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34207821-rough-edges