The Dark Farewell by Josh Lanyon.

Don’t talk to strangers, young man—especially the dead ones.
It’s the Roaring Twenties. Skirts are short, crime is rampant and booze is in short supply. Prohibition has hit Little Egypt, where newspaperman David Flynn has come to do a follow-up story on the Herren Massacre. The massacre isn’t the only news in town though. Spiritualist medium Julian Devereux claims to speak to the dead—and he charges a pretty penny for it.
Synopsis via ARe.

The 20’s is such a wonderful era, I do happen to have a bit of a penchant for books set in this time. Add in some paranormal elements and sublime characterization and I am not sure how you could go wrong!

Flynn is really put together and his own man. He knows who he is, but there was an underlying sadness about him that drew you in. I liked the opening few chapters and that slow unfolding of his character, without launching into his romance with Julian straight off the bat. Julian is svelte and lithe and gorgeously engaging. He was such a great foil for Flynn’s more brusque nature and I just loved him. I guess in some ways you feel almost protective of him due to his upbring, but he’s not helpless. Just not afraid to need someone. I liked that and he wore a dressing gown for goodness sake!

They mystery was cool and, as all Josh Lanyon’s books do, it had me ferreting off online to check out historical facts and interesting stuff. The balance of erotica and story telling was nicely done and I was left, as always, just wanting a little more. Not sure this is such a bad thing though!

Awesome read and well worth picking up. Check it out here at ARe and Samhain Publishing.

Bound and Determined by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow

When Sterling Baker discovers the wonderful world of BDSM, he’s ready to literally throw himself at the feet of the spectacular Owen Sawyer, but Owen is unwilling to take on someone so new to the scene—or so he says. Determined to get what he wants, Sterling sets out to convince the doubting Owen that he can be the best sub in the world, the fastest learning, the most obedient…
Synopsis from Loose Id.

Beautifully written, Bound and Determined is a book that does not disappoint. I’ve got books by both authors and their styles compliment each other hugely and make for very cool reading.

Sterling is such a brat and I loved his spark and innate cheekiness. It is such a perfect foil for Owen’s more reserved nature and theirs is a relationship that doesn’t always go smoothly as a result. The conflict was well written with the focus centered on the characters internal struggles. It was easy to read and didn’t devolve into any silly BDSM tropes and Nancy Drew and the gang did not make an appearance I was pleased to note. heh.

The relationship between Sterling and Owen is what carries this book. The slow development of trust between both men and the exploration of their boundaries, desires, and the chemistry that has drawn them together, was what made this a cut above other BDSM novels I’ve read recently. Nothing was rushed and the authors seemed to allow Sterling and Owen to stick to their own timetable. The slow building of sexual tension as a result was off the charts and appealed to me immensely. The sex is incredibly good and they nailed that sense of trust implicit within a D/s relationship. Rawr. It was totally hot and made for magic reading.

A lush, intense and engaging read I got totally wrapped up in. If you’ve not read, then I highly recommend you get your backside over to Loose Id and buy it. One of my favourite reads this year. 🙂

Interview – Rowan McBride

os_frontpage2After reading several books by this very cool author and following Rowan’s blog and twitter rather slavishly, I thought it would be interesting to ask a few questions about writing, reading and Pocky!

Would you care to share a few things about yourself? Favorite place, shoes, music, t-shirt..?

Favorite place: Any room with good friends, good drinks, and good anime.

fave shirtFavorite music: It varies according to mood. When I lived in Hawaii, I really liked the Ka’au Crater Boys, but someone recently told me they broke up. Also liked Bright Red Boots (sadly, no longer together), ClosetHuman (on hiatus). For a while I was thinking my tastes were cursed. Nowadays I listen to Death Cab For Cutie, Vince Gill, Ludo, Ella Fitzgerald, Seether, artists like that. But my favorite band is probably still the Electric Mayhem. 🙂

fave shoesI’ve attached pictures of my favorite shoes and shirt. The shoes *used* to be blue suede, but I’ve had them so long and they’ve seen so much of the Texas sun that they’ve faded into a color I can’t even name at this point. I’m not actually sure where I picked up the aloha shirt (the safe bet’s Hawaii, but you never know with me), but I wear it all the time. I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen apart yet.

When did you start writing?

Second grade, I think. In third I had to read a story I wrote (about an elf who grew to be eight feet tall, heh) to the entire grade, and the experience scarred me so badly that afterward I kept everything I wrote (except for an independent study I didn’t know anyone had paid attention to until the year after) secret until well into high school.

lone_coverWhat types of characters and situations are you drawn to write about?

I like to write about characters who find themselves, who discover their own worth. I’m also a big fan of MGS (Muscle Growth Stories), because I like to play with ideas of strength and power. That, and the shallow side of me just adores a muscular form. 😀

I really liked one of your blog posts back in May about writing as therapy. How much of yourself do you see in your books?

Wow, yeah. Writing that post was a good day for me. I’d just learned my mother was cancer-free after five years, and it was quite a milestone. That sense of relief led to some introspection on my part.

While I’m writing, I don’t see myself in my stories at all. The characters always seem like shiny new strangers, the situations entirely unique. It’s often months, or even years, later when I look at those books and go “Ohhh. That was *my* trust issue.” or “That was *me* trying to patch himself together after being broken.” I suppose that’s a good thing– putting yourself into your stories. Even when you don’t realize you’re doing it, if you’re willing to put yourself out there from the beginning it adds an element of honesty.

oghsmallWhat’s your writing process like? Outline or seat of your pants?

I start with a spark of an idea. It could be one line of dialogue that makes me curious about why it was said, or a character whose story I want to know more about, or a bizarre event that I can’t resist dropping unsuspecting characters into. From there it’s usually seat of my pants until I discover I have too many scenes jumbled together in my head. Then I crack open a pack of index cards and storyboard the rest to make sure it makes sense.

How important are your beta readers and what part do they play in your writing process?

Good, honest beta readers are worth their weight in gold. I’m the writer, so naturally I think each of my stories is a jewel. Sometimes I don’t see plot holes, continuity issues, characters taking leaps they really shouldn’t take. Some beta readers are great at telling me whether the overall concept works, and whether the characters resonate with them. Others will tear apart my grammar until I dream about misused semicolons. Having different perspectives is important because if a story is fresh in my mind, I tend to fill in blanks without realizing it.

Is there a piece of work you feel especially proud of?

“Want Me.” I got to go crazy with several themes I enjoy. Love it when my stories come full circle, and in that one each turn of the spiral allowed me to explore that concept again and again. I also like playing with the idea of true power– where it really comes from, what a person does when they believe their strength has been stripped from them, etc. And Joel, starting in a life he was content with and painfully moving to one that holds more depth… that was my favorite part.

And the muscle growth. Always love that.

paulsdreamthumbYou not only write, but draw, what is your favorite piece?

I have a long way to go, but it’s been hella fun learning how to draw in a manga/anime style. Eventually I’d like to get to a place where I don’t always need a reference picture, and I’ve been starting to inch toward that direction lately.

The only picture of mine I ever framed and hung on my wall is “Lelouch 1“. He’s one of my favorite characters of all time, and this was the first image that came out exactly the way I wanted– from hair to eyes to the little smirk on his mouth. It must have taken me over a week to draw.

Another favorite of mine is “Colors“. I think I’d colored it at three in the morning, and I was impressed he came out looking how I felt at the time.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read? Any particular reads you’d recommend?

Reading for fun? What is this concept? 😉

I enjoy quirky science fiction like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I also like to read books about writing, and Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a favorite of mine. Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me” is excellent– It was recommended to me by someone via twitter, and I don’t remember the last time I laughed out loud with a book. I enjoy poetry, especially anything by Langston Hughes. I’ve learned it’s hard to go wrong with anything by Jet Mykles or Katrina Strauss.

I’m getting ready to dive into a lot of new books, so hoping to find more autobuy authors.

pocky 1Please explain Pocky? O-o

lol! Pocky is this glorious cracker cookie stick thing usually dipped in chocolate (but also comes in strawberry and a variety of other flavors). It’s imported from Japan and is the food of the gods. 🙂

My favorite flavor actually comes from its Korean counterpart– Pepero. It’s called Nude because (I think) the cookie is on the outside and the chocolate is on the inside.

So, now that I have drooled all over your shelves of books, what are your favourite manga?

One of my favorites out of the mainstream manga pool would be “Saiyuki,” by Kazuya Minekura. It’s loosely based on the Chinese novel “Journey to the West” and features a half-demon, a demon who used to be human, an amnesiac monkey king, and a monk who drinks and smokes and carries a Smith and Wesson revolver. The dynamic between the four men is funny and intense, and the art contains some of the most gorgeous fight scenes I’ve ever seen.

pocky 2

With yaoi, my favorite to date is “Totally Captivated,” by Yoo Ha-jin. It’s actually a manhwa (the Korean counterpart to manga), but I don’t know what the Korean word for yaoi would be. I tried to ask my mother, but that entailed explaining exactly what yaoi was and, well, she’s still processing that information. “Totally Captivated” features violence, angst, some pretty intense sex. It also has an unexpected humor to it, as well as moments of tenderness. I don’t know how the creator managed to balance all that, but they did, and it was fab.

Oh! And “Tokyo Babylon” by CLAMP. One of the best of ALL TIME.

{ahem} Pardon my fanboi moment there…

wmsmallFinally (I promise there are no more questions!) what have you got coming out soon?

At the moment I don’t have anything planned. Been writing almost non-stop for three years, and it’s time to take a break. Once I’ve recharged I think I’d like to complete “Broken Thread,” this bizarre royal alien rock star yaoi thing I’ve been working on for a while now. I’d also like to get a few sequels finished and maybe complete a serial or two.

Should be a lot of fun once my muse starts talking to me again.

This has been such a cool interview to do and I’ve really enjoyed the emailing back and forth and having a chance to yak. Thanks Rowan!
I had a lot of fun too! It was great chatting with you, and I’m glad that the time difference + my insomnia worked out so well. 😉

Rowan has kindly consented to put up an ebook to be won. Just leave a comment below and go into the draw for one ebook of your choice from Rowan’s back catalog. 🙂

Check out Rowan’s website, twitter, art and most important  – books!

Interview – NL Gassert.

One of my favorite new authors NL Gassert is a writer that I recommend you pick up. She writes about luscious red heads in exotic locals; with a few spies and guys with guns thrown in. Magic! After reading The Protector a little while ago, I contacted her and she has kindly agreed to answer a few questions and share a little about her writing.

Would you care to share a few things about yourself favorite place, time, t-shirt… ?

Sure thing. I have no problem sharing. My favorite place in the world in a shady beach. I love the ocean. Right now I’m very landlocked and I don’t like that at all. It’s a very claustrophobic feeling to live in the middle of a continent and not be near an ocean.

My favorite time of the day is after dark, when the house is quiet and still, after everyone has gone to bed. I’m a night owl. I’m extremely introverted, so being around people and their energies actually drains mine. I like the quiet energy of the night, when it’s just me (and the many, many characters in my head).

My favorite color is blue.

But that’s pretty much where my favorites end. I have trouble narrowing things down to just one favorite. I like to keep my options open. I drink coffee and tea, Coke and Pepsi, enjoy men in boxers and briefs and can’t possibly name one all-time favorite book or author. I like too many of them.

NL Gassert The Protector  original coverWhat made you start writing?

The driving force behind my writing is my need to read. I am a voracious reader, but I can’t always find the kind of stories I’m in the mood to read. So I sit down and write them myself. Of course, that was easier when I was in my early teens and the stuff I wrote was pretty short. But the basic idea still holds. I write what I’d really like to read.

What put the pencil in my hand, though, so to speak, was an after-school tutor in early Middle School. I think I was failing spelling and punctuation, because they made me write a lot. Essay after essay. I hated it, but I did get the idea pretty quickly that I could make up stuff and that was that.

What sets your writing apart?

Hmm. I’m not big on descriptive passages or flowery prose. I think I’m very straight-forward and to the point. I’m not verbose at all. I like playing with stereotypes and clichés. My mantra, in life as in writing, is to do something different, to not do what everyone else is doing, which goes back to playing on clichés.

Is there a piece of work you feel especially proud of?

I think right now that’s definitely The Protector. My first (English-language) novel and it got nominated for a Lambda Literary award. That was big. Plus, it seems a hit with readers and there’s really nothing more an author can ask for. I’m immensely proud of that book.

Ask me again, though, when I’m done with the next book in The Protector series, tentatively titled The Stalker. I have all the dreaded sophomore symptoms, I think: sudden lack of confidence, feeling completely overwhelmed by the idea of writing an entire book that’s meant to be bigger and better … Just getting that one done will be a huge accomplishment. I know I’ll be very proud of it just for that.

What sort of characters and settings are you drawn to writing about?

I definitely have a thing for flawed characters. (And redheads.) I like characters who struggle. Their challenges don’t always have to be negative, like an abusive past or drug use. I’m developing a character for a novella right now and he’s a gay, deaf, left-handed shapeshifter whose animal form is a weasel. Talk about challenges in life!

I’m not as particular when it comes to setting, but I simply love the warmer places. I totally fell in love with Guam when I wrote The Protector, and I’d like to make an island-setting a bit of a trademark, but sometimes the suburbs of Alaska will work just fine, too.

Soren grew quite a bit emotionally in The Protector. What have you go in store for him next?

Soren is the most difficult to write, because he’s my most irresponsible character (I created him to be unlike any of my other characters, thinking he’d be a refreshing departure, which he is, but keeping him that way throughout a series is going to require more effort on my part than I’d anticipated—in short, I totally I love him). He’s going to continue to struggle with the fallout from his alcohol and drug abuse. He might fall off the wagon a few times, but he’s always ready to hop right back on. He sees himself surrounded by the example of great men and he’d like to be more like them, not understanding that in many ways he already is. Yeah, he can be a pain in the butt, but he has great potential. And let’s face it, I love redheads.

I’m a huge fan of the paranormal genre! What has it been like writing a shapeshifter short story?

I love the paranormal genre. Writing Riley and Nic/Ever, his vampire lover, was a lot of fun. And I’m not done with their story yet. It’s turning more into a novella than a short story. Riley was definitely a character I created because I couldn’t really find one like him to read.

protector_cover2.inddYou’ve said you’re a rather avid reader, what have you read recently that has left an impression?

I spent the summer reading my way through JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I loved it. I’d like to write my men like that. Tough, dangerous, masculine. On the gay side, I discovered Jordan Castillo Price’s Channeling Morpheus series, which is absolutely delicious (oh my god, that cover for Manikin has me drooling just thinking about it). Louisa Prieto’s Cooking With Ergot was delightful and had me hooked from the beginning, because it featured a familiar. And I loved MJ Pearson’s Helpless, which isn’t even published yet (I believe it’s going to come out in September or October). I had the chance to read an early review copy and although I’m not into historical fiction I absolutely adore her book.

What’s in store for NL Gasser fangirls like me for the rest of the year?

Hmm. Not much, I’m afraid. I’m orchestrating a few e-book give-aways. Also, I’m working on the sequel to The Protector as we speak. I’m a slow writer, though, so it won’t make its publishing debut until early to mid 2010. It will be a print book. I’m not sure if we’re doing the e-book version right away. If you don’t mind, I’ll be back when the time comes to tell you more about The Stalker who’s determined to make Mason and Soren’s first Christmas together a miserable experience.

Thanks, Sarah, for inviting me to interview. I had a great time.

Thanks so much for taking the time answer my myriad questions NL, it has been very cool, super interesting and I think you’re a sweetie! Not to mention a talented author who writes simply magic books.

If you’d like to check out NL’s site go here and her blog is here. To purchase The Protector go to Seventh Window Publications. AND if you’d like to win an ebook of The Protector, do leave a comment or flick me an email at rainonroof @ 🙂

Don’t Look Back by Josh Lanyon.

Museum curator Peter Killian wakes in the hospital, accused of ripping off his own museum. He doesn’t remember stealing an artifact or tough, sexy police Lt. Mike Griffin. But Mike remembers him and is determined to see Peter behind bars.
From Loose Id.

don't look back josh lanyonPeter was defnitely a character I grew to like. His initial amnesia seemed more of a defensive mechanism, a shield if you like, to keep a barrier between himself and having to deal with the painful reality that his life has become. Mike is very still waters run deep kind of guy and doesn’t let a lot go initially. He’s a cop, stoic but with warmth and a protective streak that runs a mile wide.

The mystery was nicely written and segued in well with Peters dawning realization that not everyone is as they seem. I enjoyed the secondary characters a great deal and they really made parts of the book.

While my focus was mainly on the romance of the story, I often find myself noting stylistic features. Although far from being an expert on the subject I know what I like. I enjoy Josh Lanyons writing because there is a certain sensibility about it. Sparse, well paced , with a leanness that makes you feel like no word is wasted. An absolute breath of fresh air.

Don’t Look Back was a pleasure to read, another wonderful story from one of my favorite authors. Get the book and it’s boobalicious cover here at Loose Id.

Grey’s Awakening by Cameron Dane

Greyson Cole needs to get out of Raleigh. Everywhere he turns, he sees people falling in love, getting married and starting families. It’s enough to make a grown man want to rip out his own hair. And for a cynic like Grey, one more employee getting engaged signals the need for a long overdue vacation. Grey owns a cabin in the mountains he has never even used, and he figures that’s just the ticket out of this nightmare of happily paired-up couples.

Grey doesn’t expect to be greeted by a belligerent, half-naked man the minute he opens his cabin door…

From Liquid Silver Publishing.

greys awakeningAny book that starts with two characters off in the bush somewhere, alone with only each other to interact with is a winner. Loads of navel gazing and personal growth and maybe a few stormy nights to smooch. Lovely stuff.

I’m really enjoying Cameron Dane’s writing. This is the 2nd book I’ve read of hers from Liquid Silver Publishing and they just seem to get better. Tight pacing, with a great hook and wonderful character development.

The story is also incredibly sensual with surrender and control forming a large part of the narrative. Rather steamy stuff, although the short time period and amount of ass pounding goodness there was was, seemed rather abundant shall we say. O-o Not that I am complaining, it was hawt.

This was a great read and am hoping there is more from one of the secondary characters who was rather intriguing. Get the goodness here at Liquid Silver Books. Check out Cameron Dane’s website here.

Hell Cop 2 by Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling and Ginn Hale.

The Hell Cops of Parmas City serve and protect humans, sorcerers, and demons alike. But when corpses start turning up in their wake, they have to do more than fight for their lives. They have to fight for their loves.

hellcop 2The first Hell Cop was incredibly enjoyable and something just that little bit different. In this 2nd book they’re building on already established relationships and reading it was like visiting with old friends. God. I am such a sap. But it was just so good!

Trust Me, by Astrid Amara, has Jay and Brian a year down the track. Jay still delights in being able to touch someone and Brian is growing into his own skin after the revelations’ in the previous book. The growth of the characters relationship was beautifully done and the hook of Brian’s lack of control was an engaging one. He begins to realize that his ability to touch Jay does not exclude him from being left and his need to learn to control his power, or risk loosing his lover, becomes paramount. A sexy, perceptively written story that does not just look at the surface of a relationship, but delves deeply into its workings.

In Dark Waters, by Nicole Kimberling, the world building is tight and I like her attention to little things that make for vivid reading. The balance of power in a relationship, knowing when to listen and when to argue, brought a warmness to the story. Michael is such a professor and I like how out of his comfort zone he is with Argent at times, when he cannot use his mind reading powers. Parts were also surprisingly funny and had me laughing out loud. I think Bert’s – a bunch of drunken goat-legged midgets and that poor, maligned turtle were rather amusing. hehe. 🙂

Hell CopFinally, in Such Heights by Ginn Hale, dark and broody Moran returns on another case with his blond and gorgeous journalist lover  James. Moran is still determined to resist till the last and I think there is nothing more satisfying than reading about this cop being brought to his knees. So to speak. O-o The floating palace was a very cool world with tentacle like spells and enslaved demons, which made for a cool backdrop for the characters.

Freeloading, hippie mermaids, large bovine like creatures, pocket demons and castles that travel about in the air. These 3 authors write books that I want to read. Get it here from Loose Id. Also, check out Hell Cop 1 here.

PS. I would seriously like some fan art. Commissions I wonder??

Chasing Smoke by K. A. Mitchell.

ka mitchell chasing smokeAn old mystery brought them together. Solving it could tear them apart.

In the best of times, Daniel Gardner hates visiting his family. With his boyfriend pressuring him for a mortgage-serious commitment, Christmas in Easton, PA sounds, for once, like a welcome escape. His old house holds more than memories of a miserable adolescence, though. It has Trey Eriksson.

At seventeen, Trey was taken in by the wealthy Gardner family after his father was jailed for his mother’s murder. Until he left for the Army, he fought a double-edged battle—for proof of his father’s innocence and against his attraction to Daniel.

Fifteen years later, things haven’t changed. Trey is still looking for the real killer. And Daniel has never forgotten how Trey used to sneak into his room at night.

Now new clues to the murder are resurfacing—and so is Trey and Daniel’s sexual chemistry. Except this time, Trey has come to terms with his orientation.

But their connection may not be enough to overcome the mistakes of the past. Not while a murderer still walks free…
Samhain Publishing.

It is no secret I am a bit of a fan girl for K.A. Mitchell and this new book was a gem.

The novel had a great hook with a return home, first love and a tightly scripted mystery that in no way detracted from the central theme of two men falling in love again. The novel has a slow, sexy burn to it and the tension between Daniel and Trey made my toes curl. The flashes back to when they’re younger feels a little illicit as you read about their burgeoning love, but it’s sensual and beautifully written and makes their interactions as adults that much more bittersweet and sexy. And hot, holy shit. O-o

I think what I enjoy most about K.A. Mitchells writing is that she understands the rhythm of a good book. Her pacing is excellent and there are no lulls where I feel inclined to ferret off to check my twitter account, or other assorted internet wankyness. I’m reading till some ridiculous hour and am still desperate to know what happens next, despite my tiredness. This is what a good book should be all about. That and making me laugh out loud at lines like …Ghosts of Erections Past… Imagery? hehe. 🙂 Loved it!

Get it here at All Romance eBooks or Samhain Publishing.

Dark Horse and The White Knight by Josh Lanyon.

jl_thedarkhorse_coverlgIt’s a Hollywood cliché: the hot and handsome bodyguard. But in the case of LAPD Detective Daniel Moran, it’s all true. Dan is everything Sean ever wanted in a leading man, but Dan’s kind of an old-fashioned guy. It’s his job to keep Sean safe and in one piece — happy is someone else’s problem.

As tension mounts, Sean can’t help turning to Dan, while Dan is finding it harder and harder to say no. Their only chance of a happy ending is if Dan can keep Sean alive — but what happens when he uncovers the secrets Sean is trying hard to conceal?
From Loose Id.

It has been a while since I have read anything by Josh Lanyon. I read the 1st book in this series, Dark Horse, early last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The characters are incredibly compelling. Sean is so broken and I love the authors ability to portray the damaged hero so strongly without him becoming too much of a whiney pain in the ass. Sean tries hard to fix himself with varying degrees of success and this is what appealed to me so much in the 1st book. He has some fairly ingrained issues with control and even though there is a sense of completion in the 1st book, it is the 2nd book where you see more of Sean slowly letting go and trying to move on, it’s just so very human. He knows Dan loves him and is only trying to help, but it is only through ultimately trusting someone else that he can move on and these two strong willed people can learn to live and be together. Love it. The titles are astute too.

jola_thewhiteknight_coverlgWhat also appeals is the humor within the book. Those sardonic moments that sneak up on you, like Dan being a black belt? heh. They catch you by surprise and make you snigger quietly to yourself. It’s clever humor and I like that kind of internal dialog from a character.

I am used to hot, but not gratuitous sex in Lanyon’s books. They often have a lean, pared down feel that is always intense, but some of the scenes in White Knight took me a bit by surprise. (No more sticky pen for you!) They were intense and loving, with much hot tub goodness. Noice.

Compelling and beautifully written, it’s books like these that stay with you. More please.

The Dark Horse at Loose Id or All Romance eBooks.
The White Knight at Loose Id.
 Josh Lanyon’s Website.

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