Review: Where Love Grows by Jay Northcote

When two broken men look to each other for help, an unexpected romance blooms.

Stephen’s home, deep in the heart of the Welsh valleys, suits his reclusive nature. However, as he recovers from illness, he’s struggling to manage alone. As nature reclaims the land he’s poured his heart into cultivating, he becomes increasingly unhappy. His only outlet is his blog, where he documents the decline of the garden that had been his pride and joy.

Luke is more used to a concrete jungle. He was a high-flyer, living and working in London, until addiction sent him into free fall. Now on the road to recovery, he still wants to make some changes, but he’s unsure where to find the purpose and fulfilment he craves.

A mutual acquaintance suggests Luke visits Stephen to help him out for a while, and a seed of hope is planted. From prickly beginnings, shoots of friendship emerge, blossoming into a deeper connection when they act on their mutual attraction.

This was only ever supposed to be a temporary arrangement, and soon Stephen will be able to manage on his own again. But both men need each other in ways they’re afraid to admit. If their love is going to last for more than one season, they’ll need to find the courage to be honest.

This book is a standalone read with a satisfying happy ending.

Sweet with a bit of angst, though a bit too slow at times.

Stephen and Luke struggle with two very different things, but both men look to the Welsh countryside for healing.

Stephen is trying to get his life back from the debilitating onset of Guillain-Baré syndrome, while Luke is a recovering alcoholic who’s hit rock bottom.

A mutual friend puts the two men in touch - Luke can help Stephen to rejuvenate his ruined garden, and the garden can give Luke the peace and focus he needs.

Their initial meeting isn’t promising at all. Luke relies heavily on drink to feel at ease, and Stephen gives a less-than-happy welcome.

But over the days that follow, slowly, very slowly, Stephen and Luke develop a friendship. Shared meals, days working in the garden, and quiet nights with the cats become a routine.

Though I thought the story dragged at times, particularly with the gardening, I really enjoyed the muted tone and Luke and Stephen’s sweet dynamic in the Welsh countryside.


And beneath it all there’s an underlying attraction that becomes more and more difficult to ignore.

The romance here isn’t easy. Both men have been burned, and they’re hesitant to take things to the next step.

Stephen especially becomes the roadblock. He repeatedly pushes Luke away, even before anything romantic happens. I really could have done with less of Stephen’s prickliness. It just wasn’t a good look!

But once Stephen gets his head out of his ass and lets Luke love him and lets himself love Luke the way they deserve, the happy ending was all kinds of sweet.

If you’re looking for a quiet romance between two men in need of healing, give ‘Where Love Grows’ a try!

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: Wrestling With Hope by D.H. Starr

Join author D.H. Starr and Vibrant Promotions on the Wrestling With Hope blog tour! Learn more about the contemporary wrestling romance today!

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Wrestling with Hope
DH Starr
MM Romance Contemporary & Erotic
Release Date: 10.07.19

Forced to move from place to place, never setting down roots, robbed Scott Thayer of any thread of stability during his childhood. No matter how hard he tried, he could never please his distant and judgmental father. If his own father couldn’t love him, who could?
Two years after last setting eyes on the man whose approval he’d never win, he’s found a good life, attending college, become a star on the wrestling team, built a home with his lover Derek, and surrounded himself with people who love him.
An unexpected note from his father, saying, “I want to see you,” turns Scott’s world upside down. Why, after all this time, does the man want back into his life, just when Scott’s wounds have begun to heal? Should he risk his happiness and peace of mind to accept the invitation from someone who’d left him so damaged?
Or will he finally find closure and slam the door on his pain and never look back?



The scent of coffee wafted up the stairs to Scott’s room. Ah. Christmas morning. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, slipped out of bed, and meandered toward the kitchen, stopping at the bathroom along the way.

His mother sat at the table reading a newspaper, gripping the sides so they crinkled. “Morning.” She put the paper aside, crossed the room, and placed an awkward kiss on his cheek. “Want some coffee?”

What’s got her twisted in knots? “Merry Christmas, Mom. I can get it myself.” Scott trudged to the cupboard, procured a mug, poured himself some coffee, and heaped two large spoonsfuls of sugar into the steaming black liquid. Heaven. The heat going down his throat. The bitter scent filtering into his nose. The caffeine which seemed to instantly filter into his system. They all melded together into one perfect waking up experience. He propped himself against the counter and closed his eyes. Coffee drinking, a bad habit he didn’t intend to quit. Plus, he needed to mentally prepare for whatever his mother stressed about.

After a few sips, he opened his eyes to find his mother ogling him, her hands folded tightly. The newspaper lay forgotten on the table. “Scott, there’s something I think you should see.” She motioned toward the kitchen table where a white envelope took the place where his breakfast should be.

No “Merry Christmas” or “how’d you sleep?” Scott gripped the edge of the counter, preparing himself for the worst.

His mother continued without any buildup or preliminary warnings. She picked up the card. “This came for you the other day. I wasn’t sure when to give it to you, and it’s Christmas so I’m probably an idiot to give it to you today, but it’s not right for me to hold onto it”.

She’s rambling. His mother handed the card to Scott, then scurried to the sink and rinsed out her mug for much longer than probably necessary.

Scott’s heart skipped a beat, then pounded. He recognized the handwriting. Dad.

“What’s this?” A stupid question, but at least asking gave him a minute to process what he held in his hand. Why would his father, after two decades of never giving him a card or any other kindness, reach out to him now?

“I think you should open it and find out for yourself.” His mother kept her back to him and, upon closer inspection, he noticed her shoulders pulled up close to her ears, her posture as rigid as a board.

What could be so earth-changing his negligent father would take the time to write him? For the past two years the man had dropped off the face of the planet. No phone calls. No nothing.

Scott peeled back the corner of the seal and slid his finger along the top of the envelope. Each act seemed independent from the other. Opening the envelope, retrieving the card, reading the front. Steps to prolong actually seeing what dear old Dad had to say.

No sense in delaying things any further. Scott flipped the card open.


Odd way to begin since his father never called him son before. Sometimes Scott wondered if his dad remembered his name. Their interaction usually consisted of barked orders.

I know it’s been a while and I’m sorry. Mom says you’re doing well. I’d like to see you.


Scott read the words three more times before placing the card on the table facedown. His heart, which had thrashed feverishly moments earlier, slowed to a steady, even beat, eerily slow and calm. Dad asked about me? Apologized? Wants to meet?

The room began to spin. Scott sat where his mom had been sitting. Just when his life seemed to be leveling out, this had to happen? “What’s going on, Mom?”

His mother turned from the sink and scrutinized Scott without saying anything. By the soulful expression on her face and the shimmering in her eyes, no words were needed to let Scott know something big was up. “You’ll have to make a decision about whether you want to call your father. When I spoke to him, I told him I’d let you choose what to do without getting involved.”

“Mom!” Now wasn’t the time for bullshit.

“All right. Okay.” She wrung her hands together, the whites of her knuckles showing. “He doesn’t simply want to reach out. He needs to talk to you about something.”

His heart sped up again. “What!”

Nervous chuckles filled the space between them. “Was that a question or a statement?” Her tightly clenched hands revealed nervousness, but she made eye contact. “It’s not for me to share, but I think you should meet with him.”

Panic clasped Scott’s throat with a vice grip. “Where is he? I haven’t heard from him in two years. Has he been living in Massachusetts all this time?” Scott wasn’t sure what he wanted the answer to be. Part of him hoped he’d moved across the country. At least that might explain why he’d simply disappeared from their lives so completely.

“He’s been living out of state. He came back because…” She closed her eyes, her lips thinning into narrow lines. “It’s for him to share with you, honey. He’s staying at the Marriot in Boston.”

Dad, in Boston, a ten-minute subway ride away. Why reveal all of this on Christmas morning? “When does he want to see me?”

“You’ll have to call him and set something up.” She crossed the room and caressed Scott’s cheek. Despite the fact she’d squished all the blood out of her hands, her palms were warm. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but at least give him a call.”

Apparently, Hell finally froze over. He’d have believed icicles formed on brimstone far easier than believing his father had a sudden change of heart and wanted to get to know the son he’d ignored and used as a personal slave for the entire duration of their relationship. “He didn’t leave a number.”

“I’ve got the number right here.” Mom reached into her jeans pocket and withdrew a tightly folded sheet of paper. “I told him I’d give it to you but made it clear you would be the one to decide to use it.”

“Does he want me to call him today?” Scott looked at his mother’s hand but made no move to retrieve the slip of paper.

Her expression softened to one of silent understanding. “I’ll leave it here on the fridge.” She secured the number facedown to the steel surface with a I Heart My Gay Son magnet.

Scott stared at the tiny slip of paper, silence growing like a storm cloud between them. No words. No thoughts. Just the thrumming of his heart and a lead weight hanging from his shoulders. He left the kitchen, tramped to the bathroom, stripped, and turned on the shower. As he waited for steam to fill the room, he inspected himself in the mirror. Other than his mussed-up hair and a slight flush to his cheeks, this morning seemed like any other. Better. A second holiday in a row surrounded by love and warmth.

Funny how a few words written on a card and ten measly digits sticking to the refrigerator could change everything.

Scott thought he knew his stance on his dad. The guy was an asshole. A cruel, unloving, abandoning butt-muncher who Scott learned to push almost entirely from his mind.

His reflection slowly disappeared from view, erased by a thin layer of fog on the glass. He stepped into the shower. Whatever decisions he needed to make, they could wait until later.

He tried thinking of Derek. Not even his cheerful smile and adoring eyes filled with love could delete the last ten minutes or the image of the slip of paper on the fridge. What in the hell did his father want? Why would he reach out now… just when Scott had finally put his past behind him and begun to view the future as bright with possibility?

“Damn him to hell.” He hadn’t meant to speak out loud, and he certainly hadn’t meant to curse his father to eternal fire. Forgiveness was the best cure… so said all the self-help books espousing the bullshit line. But were the strangers who wrote those thinking of his dad when they sold their psycho-crap?

Clean, shaven, and just as confused as he’d been before he entered the bathroom, Scott made quick work of dressing. Whatever he decided about calling his father, Christmas at Derek’s and a day sure to be filled with holly-jolly-joy awaited him.

DH Starr logo

D.H. Starr is an educator by day and an author at heart.
Writing erotic romance in any genre and young adult stories as well, he likes to explore the emotions of discovering oneself while also allowing someone else into your heart as well. His style has been called angsty at times, and he takes pride in torturing his poor protagonists, making them work for their happily ever after.


Release Blitz + Giveaway: Nightside: An Erie Vampire Tale by V.L. Locey

V.L. Locey and Signal Boost Promotions celebrate the release of Nightside: An Erie Vampire Tale! Learn more about the paranormal triad romance and enter in the Erie Collection eBook giveaway!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

Length: 50,236 words

Erie Series

An Erie Collection - Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link


Being a new member of the undead sect has its ups and downs, something that newly embraced Akio Lee is finding out first hand. Being able to spend eternity with his beloved Vincente, the man who introduced him to life in the nightside, is a definite up. Having to feed on strangers? That’s one of the downsides, and something that Akio is finding difficult to swallow. But what other option is there for a recently wed vampire couple who need blood to survive?

Finding a new donor perhaps? One who comes into the lifestyle willingly, as Akio had done, and is open to the unique and sensual relationship that develops when three men have a blood bond. A man who can exist in both the nightside and the dayside worlds. A man like Ian O’Keeffe, the handsome caretaker of the manse Akio and Vincente now call home? Ian seems to tick every box Akio and Vincente have—he’s comfortable around vampires, he’s obviously into men, he’s drop-dead gorgeous, he’s more than a little mischievous, and he’s human. Mostly.

But will the outgoing handyman be willing to offer two vampires his vein, his body, and his heart?

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Something Wild by Anna Martin

Check out Anna Martin and Signal Boost Promotions release blitz for Something Wild from Dreamspinner Press! Discover more about the contemporary romance and enter in the back list eBook giveaway from the author!

Length: 67,000 words

Cover Design: Alexandria Corza

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press


The South Pacific Archipelago is home to a tiny island community of around three hundred scientists… and twenty thousand dinosaurs. As a paleogeneticist, Kit Sterling leads a team studying the dinosaurs to unlock the unanswered questions of evolution.

But there is something more dangerous than dinosaurs on the islands.

Head ranger Logan Beck discovers evidence of poachers, while rumors of a black market for dinosaur leather swirl around the community. Kit and Logan haven’t always gotten along professionally, though that has nothing to do with their attraction to each other. So when they’re thrown together to save an injured infant dinosaur, their professional disdain turns into a clandestine romance.

With not just the injured dinosaur at risk, but all of the precious dinosaurs on the islands too, Kit and Logan have to figure out how to balance their budding romance without letting their careers go extinct.

Author Bio

Anna Martin is from a picturesque seaside village in the southwest of England and now lives in the Bristol, a city that embraces her love for the arts. After spending most of her childhood making up stories, she studied English literature at university before attempting to turn her hand as a professional writer.

Apart from being physically dependent on her laptop, Anna is enthusiastic about writing and producing local grassroots theater (especially at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she can be found every summer), going to visit friends in other countries, and reading anything thatís put under her nose.

Anna claims her entire career is due to the love, support, prereading, and creative ass kicking provided by her best friend Jennifer. Jennifer refuses to accept responsibility for anything Anna has written.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: 33 Degrees of Separation (Legacy Book #3) by Rain Carrington

Celebrate the release of 33 Degrees of Separation (Legacy Book #3) with author Rain Carrington & Signal Boost Promotions. Find out more about this contemporary romance, read an excerpt & enter in the giveaway for a $35 Amazon gift card! Good luck!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link - Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Legacy Series

Book #1 - Remember The Alamo - Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Book #2 - The Principle - Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link


I’m Ian, and this is my story. Like the others, I have a legacy. I was raised with the best of everything, one of the riches kids I knew. That isn’t the legacy, however. That is to be a part of something I didn’t want, and never asked for it’s tearing me apart, but I can fight it. With some help, I can fight it.

Meeting Pat Castaldo, the hot, muscled FBI agent was the beginning of a life I thought was ending. I am terrified I’ll get him killed, and others, if I can’t stand up to my father and the other men that make up the terrible secret society. My family has been members for hundreds of years, and it was supposed to be passed to me. I don’t want it, but I took it, and I took it to end them once and for all.

In the middle of all this, I am falling in love. That was a surprise, and one that possibly terrifies me more than the Gilded Grail. This could hurt, and I could get this beautiful man killed, along with a lot of others if I fail. My money may be able to solve some of my troubles, but there is much more that it can’t.

I’ve never had to be brave or fight for anything. This is my fight, though, and I will win. I’ll win it for my friends, for humanity and, maybe most of all, I’ll win it for Pat. 


Raised in wealth most could only dream of, Ian Andrews III didn’t know another way of life existed until he went to college and learned about the world. There he met friends and came down from his palace to try to be like everyone else, but he had too much money to achieve that.

When he was set to finish graduate school, his father took him on a trip to learn the destiny that had been chosen for him. He would become a member of the Gilded Grail, a secret society that had members whose families had been a part of it for hundreds of years.

He was a legacy, and there was no choice for him. He would become a member, or he’d die.

Learning about this secret society, hearing their ways and goals, then going through the initiation, he was terrified and ran off to hide away from them and everyone.

His best friend worried when he’d been gone for days, his phone left in his room, not a word from him. Calling in help, it came in the form of an FBI agent in town on business. He was doing a favor, checking up on the missing college student, and right away smelled trouble. When he saw Ian’s computer history and the name Gilded Grail, he knew he had to find Ian.

Once he did, he learned the secrets that no one outside the order knew. Together, they decided to try to stop them from a horrible goal they’d set, one that threatened every man, woman and child in the world.

Falling in love with one another was easy but keeping that attraction at bay to try to save everyone a horrible fate, Ian and Pat struggled. Pat called for more help, and Javier Duran came, an old lover of Pat’s, and one of the world best mercenaries.

Sparks fly and jealousies ignite. Saving the world and falling in love at the same time wasn’t easy on any man. It could tear them apart or make them more determined to have the other in their lives forever. That was considering if they could stop the Grail and there was a forever…

About Rain

I love writing, it's been my dream for many years, and in October of 2013, when my first book went live on Amazon, that dream came true.

Writing love stories that are centered on flawed but lovable characters is my passion. Finding love between people isn't easy, nor should it be. Even in a book, there have to be obstacles for the story to feel real.

I am a mother of three amazing people, and three adorable fur babies. I live in Colorado, but love many other places besides my home. One state in particular is New Mexico, the state where I was born has always held a place in my heart.

People and places make my stories what they are. Each character I've written is a part of me in some way. Each place I write is as well. Adventures come in many ways, and each of my stories has taken me on an adventure that I treasure.

Come with me on my adventures and fall in love with my characters, as I have. I promise you will love the ride.

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Blog Tour: Second Song (Sugarhouse Blues #1) by Edie Danford

Author Edie Danford and Vibrant Promotions visit on the Second Song (Sugarhouse Blues #1) blog tour! Learn more about the first in the new romance today!

Second Song
Sugarhouse Blues Series
Edie Danford
M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 10.07.19
A wounded singer’s second act. A bodyguard’s redemption. Two grieving souls find healing in love’s sweetest song.
Four years ago, a brutal attack shot down my soaring music career. My bodyguard, a man I loved like a brother, was killed, and serious injuries left my voice permanently damaged.
Songs silenced, I retreated to my Vermont home, unsure I’d ever perform again.
Now I’m ready to go public with my new act. But, yeah, I’m a little nervous. So to handle security for a trial-run tour, I’m hiring a guy I trust absolutely—Antonio Callan, my former bodyguard’s brother.
But when Antonio shows up, all super-chill fierceness and warm, understanding eyes, I’m up against an unexpected risk—losing my heart.
Touring backwoods bars with a reclusive singer is the wrong gig at the wrong time. But how can I refuse the wounded kid my brother thought of as family?
After a week in Vermont, I’m feeling more helpless than heroic.
Sage has grown up, and I’m crazy-attracted to him. His broken-but-beautiful voice knocks me out, and his quiet courage sings to my soul. The more time we spend in close quarters, the harder it becomes to resist our attraction.
Soon, Sage’s second act is rocketing to the top of the charts, and being his hero takes on a whole new meaning. It’s up to me to take his cue and find the courage to reach for a star.
Second Song is the first in the two-book Sugarhouse Blues series and can be read as a stand-alone. Contains angsty-hot pining (and Vermont pines), first-time lovin’, sappy songs (and Vermont maples), and the healing power of loooooove.
Cover Designer: Natasha Snow

Second Song promo teaser 1 (1)Second Song promo teaser 2

“This Chicago weather might send you back to Cali real quick.” I gesture toward the windows and the sleet-rain coming down.

Sage smiles slowly as he glances from the window to me. That addictive guitar lick plays in my head again. “This amount of snow and ice does not impress. But you—all hot-bodyguard official in a suit…” He gives me a greedy-hungry look, like maybe I’m one of those maple creamees he loves to slurp. “I’m very impressed.”

“Likewise.” I smile back, my gaze traveling over his features. He’s the sunny beach come to visit. Skin tanned gold, eyes ocean blue, and damn, that smile heats me all the way through.

He looks down at his tea, then he takes a breath and meets my eyes. “So I came to Chicago to take you on a date. That is, if you say yes when I ask you.”

I gently ease against the chair’s back. And then I loosen my tie because breathing has become a genuine hardship. “Sage. Damn.”

“Just…let that sit for a while. I’m too chicken to actually ask you at the moment.”

I make a sound that’s half-laugh, half-curse, and I wonder what I’ll say when I can speak.

I am beyond flattered he’s come all this way to ask me out. I’d be the biggest dick in the world if I refused. I don’t want to refuse. Excluding life-and-death and world-peace scenarios, I want Sage more than I’ve ever wanted anything, ever. But what would happen if I said yes?

Lots of shit has happened in the last couple months, but I don’t think our personal circumstances or our feelings have changed. I’d still be incapable of a casual hookup with Sage Hazen, still incapable of following him where Second Song takes him.

And as for him…

Well, he is not looking casual. Two sunset-colored spots mark the center of his cheeks. His hands are shaking. He stands, walks to the fireplace, and picks up the guitar. His left hand fumbles the tuning pegs. His right hand makes sweaty-squeaky sounds on the shiny wood.

He goes to one of the windows, turning his back to me as he tries to tune and strum. He’s skinnier than he was two months ago; his stupidly sexy skinny jeans don’t cling as tightly as they’re supposed to. Closing my eyes, I pinch the bridge of my nose and try to take steady breaths.

“Working on something new,” he says.

“Yeah?” I look up at him.

He turns to face me. “It’s sexy,” he says, waggling his eyebrows, making an effort and succeeding.

I laugh. “Everything you do is sexy.”

“Uh, no. It’s not.”

“It is. And you have about forty million fans who’d agree with me.”

“Forty million fans don’t know me, Antonio.” His expression turns serious.

“No,” I agree. “They don’t.”

I’m lucky enough to know him, though. And that’s really the point of this meeting, isn’t it?

Edie Danford logo

Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she’s found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.

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Giveaway + Blog Tour: Dancing With the Lion: Rise by Jeanne Reames

Join author Jeanne Reames & Riptide Publishing in celebrating the release of Dancing With the Lion: Rise. Find out more about this historical series & enter in the giveaway for a $10 Riptide gift card. Good luck!


A persistent, annoying, misogynistic delusion says Romance readers (female or male), or women generally, can’t handle things like hard science fiction, political intrigue, and, especially, military matters. Our pretty little heads are incapable of understanding that “serious stuff.” All we care about are love affairs and fashion.
Hoo-boy, don’t get me started or I might skewer somebody. (At left, the author holding a Macedonian sarissa, or pike.)
Funny story about SF author Catherine Asaro: she’s known for her hard-SF Romances, but what a lot of readers don’t know is she’s also Dr. Catherine Asaro, with a PhD in chemical physics from no less a school than Harvard. Some years back, on a now-defunct bulletin board, a male reader proceeded to try to mansplain how Asaro’s physics of space travel just wouldn’t work, and poor lady authors who want romance shouldn’t write in a SERIOUS genre such as hard SF. Well, Dr. Asaro dropped into the convo, citing several of her own published articles in peer-reviewed journals, then proceeded to demolish fan-boy’s ignorant objections to her theories. It was a beautiful thing to behold.
Women do math and science, dammit—as demonstrated by my Kleopatra in the novels.
I don’t believe for one minute that some Romance readers might not like to know a little about the military matters I describe in Dancing with the Lion, not just the hair and clothes (as I do detail in another blog).
When modern readers imagine ancient Mediterranean armies, it’s usually the Roman legion that comes to mind. The Greek phalanx is similar…but not. A phalanx is a big rectangular block of infantry, usually 8-deep, that presented a “locked shields” front. Larger armies were made up of several phalanges (phalanxes) in a row. Armies were chiefly infantry as horses don’t do well in the rocky Greek south. So their armies had a lot of light troops, such as slingers, but little horse.C:\Users\mathe\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.MSO\9C444599.tmp
Yet Greek infantry was legendary. These “Men of Bronze” were sought-after mercenaries in Ancient Near Eastern armies, and would famously rout the Persians at the Battle of Marathon despite being outnumbered. Southern Greek cities also had excellent navies, although Macedonia didn’t, so I won’t address navies here.
The infantryman, or “hoplite,” was armed with a big-ass round, convex shield covering him from chin to knee; a bronze helmet; and—depending on how much money his family had—a bronze breastplate or a cuirass of fused, tough, glued linen with girdle plates; and maybe bronze greaves covering his shins. From the front, this presented a pretty solid defense. But if, in video-games, Greek soldiers all look alike, in truth, Greek armor varied a lot. Helmet styles differed vastly by region (Corinthian top left, and Phrygian bottom), and how much armor a soldier could afford also differed. Shield devices were personal (as in the image above). Put simply: THERE WAS NO ANCIENT GREEK UNIFORM. Individuality mattered. (Top left: hoplites with shields, and top right: for size, a grad student, 4’10”, holding one during a demonstration at UNO in 2016. Bottom, hoplite in a cuirass, which shows the inside of the shield and how it was carried.)
A group of people standing in a grassy yard

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Image result for hoplite cuirass pottery
Why the differences among real soldiers? They armed themselves; city-states didn’t provide equipment. So what they brought to the field was whatever they could afford. Also, the primary weapon of the Greek infantryman was the SPEAR, not a sword. Swords were secondary, used only after your spear broke. While Greek armies did have archers along with slingers and peltasts (javelin-men), Greek infantry viewed the bow as a coward’s weapon. 
When Philip took over as king of Macedon, the army got a serious overhaul. First, Macedonia—unlike the south—had horses. In fact, prior Macedonian armies had been CAVALRY armies, with limited infantry. Philip reformed the infantry by lightening their armor and giving them the ultimate “pig-poker”: a 15-foot sarissa, or pike. It was about twice as long as a normal Greek spear, requiring one to wield it two-handed.
Image result for macedonian phalanx
Then he shaped up the cavalry, arming them more heavily and deploying them in triangular “spear point” formations, which allowed them to shift direction quickly at a gallop. They carried the xyston, which wasn’t as long as a sarissa, but still formidable. Incidentally, ancient cavalry used neither saddles nor stirrups, only a saddlecloth.
This Macedonian sarissa phalanx became the ANVIL, while his heavy cavalry became the HAMMER. The Macedonian phalanx would engage the enemy, holding them in place on the battlefield, then Philip would send in his much more mobile cavalry to smash into the enemy flank or rear, tearing them to shreds. It worked. Over and over, it worked. Alexander took that formation strategy to Asia. It worked there too.Image result for macedonian cavalryman
So when I describe military matters in Dancing with the Lion, now readers have a better visual image. And don’t let anybody tell you female readers can’t enjoy reading battle scenes, or that female novelists can’t write them.
The hell we can!
After all, the ancient Greeks paired the goddess of love, Aphrodite, with the god of war, Ares. And in the Ancient Near East? Innana/Ishtar was goddess of both, together.

About Dancing with the Lion: Rise

The story of Alexander before he became “the Great.”
Finished with schooling, Alexandros is appointed regent of Makedon while his father is away on campaign. He thrives with his new authority—this is the role he was born for—yet it creates conflict with his mother and Hephaistion. And when his soldiers, whom he leads with unexpected skill, start to call him “The Little King,” his father is less than delighted.
Tensions escalate between Alexandros and his father, and between Makedon and the city-states of southern Greece. As the drums of war sound, king and crown prince quarrel during their march to meet the Greeks in combat. Among other things, his father wants to know he can produce heirs, and thinks he should take a mistress, an idea Alexandros resists.
After the south is pacified, friction remains between Alexandros and the king. Hostilities explode at festivities for his father’s latest wedding, forcing Alexandros to flee in the middle of the night with his mother and Hephaistion. The rigors of exile strain his relationships, but the path to the throne will be his biggest challenge yet: a face-off for power between the talented young cub and the seasoned old lion.

About the Series
Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.
About Jeanne Reames
Jeanne Reames has been scribbling fiction since 6th grade, when her “write a sentence with this vocabulary word” turned into paragraphs, then into stories…and her teacher let her get away with it—even encouraged her! But she wears a few other hats, too, including history professor, graduate program chair, and director of the Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program at her university. She’s written academic articles about Alexander and ancient Macedonia, and does her best to interest undergrads in Greek history by teaching them (et al.) to swear in ancient Greek.

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