Blog Tour & Giveaway: Addict by Matt Doyle

Title:  Addict

Series: The Cassie Tam Files, book 1

Author: Matt Doyle

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 8, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 56000

Genre: science fiction, Sci-fi, futuristic, addiction, friends to lovers, private detective, lesbian

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Synopsis

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

Excerpt

Addict
Matt Doyle © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I always did like Venetian blinds. There’s something quaint about them in a retro-tacky kinda way. Plus, they’re pretty useful for sneaking a peek out the front of the building if I feel the need. That’s something that you just can’t do with the solid, immovable metal slats that come as a standard in buildings these days. That said, a thick sheet of steel is gonna offer you a damn sight more security than thin, bendable vinyl, so I keep mine installed. Just in case.

Another round of knocking rattles the front door, louder this time than the one that woke me.

The clock says 23:47, and the unfamiliar low-end car out front screams “Don’t notice me, I’m not worth your time,” which makes for the perfect combo to stir up the paranoia that the evening’s beer and horror-film session left behind. This is my own fault. My adverts are pretty descriptive in terms of telling what I do: lost pets, cheating partners, theft, protection, retrieval of people and items, other odds and sods that the city’s finest won’t touch…I’ve got ways to deal with it all. That’s right, I’m a real odd-job gal. The one thing that I don’t put in there are business hours. The way I see it, even the missing pet cases usually leave me wandering the streets at half-past reasonable, so what’s the point in asking people to call between certain hours?

More knocking, followed this time by the squeak of my letter box and a voice. “Hello? Cassandra Tam?”

It’s funny, really. For all the tech advances that the world has made, no one has been able to improve upon the simple open-and-shut letter box. I stumble my way through the dark and wave dismissively at the frosted glass. The light switch and the keypad for the door lock are conveniently placed right next to each other on the wall to the right of the door, so welcoming my apparent guest is a nice, easy affair. The lock clicks a moment after the lights flood the room, and I pull the door open.

“Cassie,” I say, turning and skulking my way back into the room. “Or Caz. Drop the Tam.”

I hear a sniff behind me, and the lady from the letter box asks, “Are you drunk?”

“If I pass out in the next five minutes, then yes,” I reply, turning the kettle on. I’d left it full, ready for the morning, but I guess this is close enough. “Take a seat at the table. Would you prefer tea or coffee? I’d offer beer, but since I reek of it, I guess I must’ve finished it.”

Footsteps creep unapologetically across the room, and a chair squeaks on the floor. Good. If you can’t deal with a snarky response to something, don’t say it all, and if you can deal with it, then as far as I’m concerned you don’t need to apologise.

“Coffee,” the lady says. “So, do you always see potential clients in your underwear, or is it just my lucky day?” Her voice has a slightly playful edge to it, but with a sarcastic kick to round it off.

The business portion of my apartment comprises entirely of a small open-plan room separating my kitchen from my living room. And by open plan, I mean an allotted space that encroaches on both territories but is conveniently large enough to house what I need. Or, in other words, a table, four chairs, and nothing else. Since filing went near entirely digital, filing cabinets have pretty much become obsolete, so the two that I found dumped outside the building when I bought the place currently live in my bedroom, and contain a mix of quick access work stuff and personal files I’d rather not have floating on the net. Most things, though, I store electronically, the same as everything else.

I rarely use the business table to eat, read, or any of that junk, so until this evening it’s been entirely empty for a good few weeks. The lady sitting there now is studying me, I can see, and probably wondering if this was a mistake. Whatever she may have expected, a Chinese-Canadian gal of average height in a cami top and a loose pair of sleep shorts most likely wasn’t it. For what it’s worth, though, I’m studying her just the same. She’s a lithe-looking thing, dressed in a casual pair of jeans and a plain black fitted top under a leather jacket. If the metal plugs running down her shaven head like a shiny, rubber-tipped Mohawk weren’t a giveaway for what she is, the light scarring punctuating the outer edges of her pale blue eyes certainly would be. She’s a Tech Shifter, and like most of her ilk, she looks like a punk rocker gone cyborg.

Interview with author

 

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

The first one that I remember writing was a story called ‘Malfunction’, and that was way back when I was about ten or eleven. It was actually a school piece. My teacher had given us creative writing as homework and basically told us all to write a short story. There weren’t really any boundaries as to what we could or couldn’t do, as she said that we could write about whatever we wanted. The story was about a circus comprised entirely of robot clowns, and the title came about because the robots malfunctioned and started wreaking havoc in a small town. I’m not really sure what the inspiration for it was exactly. I was already reading Point Horror novels and I always loved shows like Are You Afraid Of The Dark?, Goosebumps, and the Tales From The Crypt Keeper cartoon, so at a push I’d say that my early love of horror was probably to blame. Given that the rest of the class wrote stories about superheroes and princesses, I’m surprised that my parents didn’t get a call.

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

I’m kinda mixed when it comes to schedules. For the most part, it’s when I can find the time. A lot of the time though, that equates to early evening, as that’s the time that I’m most likely to be free. If I get the chance during the day, or if inspiration hits, then I can usually find some time, but not always.

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 should really outline more than I do, but I can get a little impatient with myself at times, and have the habit of just throwing myself into the story. The problem then becomes that I realise part way through that I’m going to struggle without an outline and end up having to pull one together. That inevitably results in me having to go back and make some early changes to the manuscript too, as I know full well that I’ll forget to do it later and probably lose my notes somewhere down the line. It does depend on the project though. I had a full outline in place before I began Addict because I knew that I was going to need it to keep things on track in terms of revealing different snippets of information. On the other hand, when I started The Spark Form Chronicles, I stubbornly refused to outline for most of the first book. Not outlining worked for me there because that whole world is a little chaotic at times, so writing on the fly kinda fit with the feel of it. I do find that music helps though, and have a number of albums and live performances ready to load up.

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

It would be so easy to say that, being openly bi/pan (depending on your definition), it was natural for me to just slip into writing stories about LGBTQIA+ characters, but that simply isn’t true. I do think that having non-heterosexual characters out there is important. I know myself that having more positive role models in the world of fiction would have assisted me when I was still unsure of myself, and it’s always good to see characters that are relatable to people and their lives. It’s not necessarily something that I set out to do in most cases though. My main goal has always been to write stories that people will enjoy, and it’s just happened organically that most of my work features at least one LGBTQIA+ character. Addict was actually the first novel that I’ve written where I planned to have a non-heterosexual lead from the onset.

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?

It really depends on the subject matter, especially for world building. As an example, The Spark Form Chronicles is set during a futuristic card tournament. The card battles themselves form an important part of the story, so I had to do a lot of research into different CCGs, not only to get my head around common gaming mechanics outside those that I already played, but to ensure that I wouldn’t be doing anything too similar to something else when I set out the rules of the game in the books. The game itself went through about five different incarnations before I had one that I was happy with. When I wrote my Teller Tales MG horror series, far less research was required because, outside some Egyptian mythology, I was better acquainted with the subject matter. With Addict, my research covered a few more subjects, so that was more varied. Reading up on the Chinese-Canadian population in Vancouver, whether Cantonese or Mandarin was more widely used at different times, Cantonese slang, the common traits of hardboiled detectives, how crime noir fit with the cyberpunk genre … there was a lot to cover there. It did give me a good excuse to chill-out with The Maltese Falcon, Blade Runner and L.A. Confidential on the TV though.

As to ensuring that characters have authentic voices, other than trying to ensure that any cultural points are adhered to, I try not to think about things too deeply in my first drafts. I have an awful habit of second guessing myself and getting far too self-critical, so I find that my best option is usually to just write and write and write, then pick myself up if something feels off during editing. Honestly though, just having an understanding of how your characters are likely to think can be enough to get you on track like that.

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

Oh, I’m awful at all of the above. The amount of times that I’ve gone through manuscripts and realised that most of my characters have got similar names or initials is ridiculous. And book titles? I have this odd obsession with having single word titles, so I don’t really make it easy for myself to find something suitable that sums up the book. Cover designs have been fine when I have professionals to help me, but when I’ve had to venture into doing the legwork myself, I just end up either over-simplifying or over-complicating things.

How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”

“Words. And sometimes numbers. Mostly though, just … weird things.” It’s a simple answer, but it sums it up nicely. Whether it’s a novel or a story, I tend to avoid sticking to one genre and end up in the ‘hybrid genre’ category instead, so quantifying a general feel is difficult. I don’t think that anyone has ever accused me of writing something ‘normal’ either, so to claim otherwise would be very disingenuous of me.

What does your family think of your writing?

They’re very supportive. I’ve spent most of my life telling stories, whether that be through writing, in the wrestling ring, or in some other way, so they all see it as part of me. Everyone has been really proud of me getting stuff out there, and they usually enjoy my work too, so I’m pretty lucky in that respect.

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

There are so many! I take on far too many projects at once, so I’m never short of stuff to work on. Currently though, and excluding my blog stuff … I’ve just finished the first draft of the untitled sequel to Addict. That’ll see Cassie Tam take on a new case that spirals out of control pretty quickly, and adds a fair bit of world building to New Hopeland. I’m editing the second, third and fourth books in my MG horror series, Teller Tales. Books two and three are titled Ouela and Stoth respectively and almost ready to go, while the final book, Anubis, needs some work. I’m outlining a number of books too: The fourth Spark Form Chronicles book is a novella that focusses on Fahrn Starchaser, an ex-mercenary and out lesbian who is about to find herself in a whole lot of trouble. There’s a YA horror novella that I’m planning to write in an ergodic style, and a children’s sci-fi novel about a dystopian world full of anthropomorphic animals in the works, as well as a children’s book that features some education about wolves. I also recently found a load of old short stories that I wrote years ago, so I want to start tidying them up and moving them away from being HP Lovecraft pastiches.

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

Keep going! If you really want to write, then do it. Don’t be afraid to get criticism, and don’t expect everyone to like everything that you do, but know that if you like your own stories then someone else is going to too. Just keep learning, keep improving, and be proud of what you accomplish.

 

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Matt Doyle lives in the South East of England and shares his home with a wide variety of people and animals, as well as a fine selection of teas. He has spent his life chasing dreams, a habit which has seen him gain success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.

These days, Matt can be found working on far too many novels at once, blogging about anime, comics, and games, and plotting and planning what other things he’ll be doing to take up what little free time he has.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail

Tour Schedule

5/8 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/8 – Queer Sci Fi

5/9 – Oh My Shelves

5/10 – Booklover Sue

5/11 – The Novel Approach

5/12 – love bytes reviews

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All in Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

allinfear-finalAll In Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales: by Steve Berman, K.J. Charles, Avon Gale, Roan Parrish, Kris Ripper, J.A. Rock
Release Date: December 1st, 2016
Pages: 245 • Format: eARC
Published By: Open Ink Press
Purchase Links:
Open Ink PressAReKoboAmazon

All in Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales

Horror wears many faces, and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear.

Company by Roan Parrish
Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous . . . and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.

Love Me True by Kris Ripper
Palmer’s life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.

When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the world—to other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.

How could he have possibly been so stupid?

The Price of Meat by KJ Charles
Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?

His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman
Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?

Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale
STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:

REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]

ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.

Beauties by J.A. Rock
When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.

Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door.

Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside.

three-half-stars

I’m not going to lie, this was a bit of a let-down for me. With all these brilliant writers I expected to be scared shitless afterwards. The 2nd, 4th, & 5th was the best of the bunch. That’s pushing it for me, because the first wasn’t scary but I enjoyed the theme and what it involved. Story 2 & 3 weren’t bad, but I was really waiting for them to be over. They weren’t something that I would pick up at tall. I’ve never read anything by Steve Berman & Kris Ripper before. I truly liked Kris Ripper story once everything came together! It was obvious but I definitely like the characters realistic reaction during the story. I guess my reaction is that I wasn’t scared at all. Yeah, certain areas were a tad frightening, but with the cover and blurb I expected it to be WOW’d, and I’m left bereft wanting the fear that I was promised. I guess, I’ll try to sum up each story without giving away the plots.

Company by Roan Parrish

Hmm, this was weird, and I kinda liked it. I loved the idea about being a loner like Nick and having a dream come true for it to diminish in the way that it did. Michael is someone Nick was absolutely in love with. I remember feeling like Nick could be delusional. I’m not sure if he was ever there, but being petty, jealous and mean towards the new guy was crazy. I’m stumbling here because it took me a total of 14 days to read this entire book. I’m trying to write this review without going back to re-read certain things. Love Roan’s writing, I’m not surprised there. She’s a really dope writer, and I’d always appreciate that from her. I didn’t really care for the story overall. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was entertaining. I wasn’t scared though.

Love Me True by Kris Ripper

Now this I was confused about the most, but liked the outcome. It wasn’t scary or horror for me, but I think being in Palmer’s shoes is probably the worst thing that I would want to go through. It was certain catchy things that his partner was doing that had me suspicious, but pretty obvious towards the ending. I mean these two lived pretty normal lives in my opinion. I’ve never read anything by this author, and I’m slapping myself internally on why haven’t I? I mean this is a story that people can relate to. The normalcy of everyday lives and then your world getting turned upside down. The one thing I really like is Palmer didn’t second guess himself. He wasn’t those clueless blondes on t.v. or movies who see the signs once evidence is stacked against a loved one, and constantly denies it could be them. I ended up enjoying it once I got more involved with the plot! I enjoyed the story enough to want to read more from this author!

The Price of Meat by K.J. Charles

Loved the setting of this story, but I wasn’t really intrigued with the plot. I guess being more disgusted is what the author was going for. It definitely had Charles niche all over it. You can definitely tell its one of her works. I like Jo’s gumption. She was a fighter, and never game up. True Story, I’ve never watched Sweeney Todd or read the book, but I did know the overall basis of the story. I would have preferred the Asylum as the background to the story personally, but I did enjoy the mini world she built surrounding the town. So much happened that we didn’t necessarily get to see Jo & Arabella’s relationship blossom. It wasn’t present and didn’t give me the romantic notion I wanted from it.

His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman

My first read by this author. Oh my goodness, I loved the mystery behind the flask. I’m not sold on any of the characters. Steve to me, was a super flake. I liked him at times, and at other times he disappointed me. I don’t know what I would have done if I was in Steve’s shoes. That flask is definitely dangerous, but the story didn’t move me at all. It wasn’t an ounce of horror in it. I kinda wanted to group it in with the buddy fraternity movies.

Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale

Leave it to Avon Gale to write my favorite story out of all of them. This was super scary. I had to put it down in the evening because I was scared something weird was going to happen. Jason is staffed at this unknown facility to watch and not engage with this entity. It seems easy, all he has to do is make daily recordings of what he sees. Well that all goes to shit when he decides to engage. From here on out, it’s bananas. The entity known as “Cain” is an I don’t know what he really is. He’s scary I can tell you that. Jason is slowing losing his mind. He reaches out to different forums and people on helping him figure it out. He thinks he’s taking part of a psychological research with the U.S. Government. I wouldn’t put it pass them to do something like this. From the very beginning I was intrigued with this story. It was good and that ending had me holding my breath. Really good horror story.

Beauties by J.A. Rock

I expect nothing less from J.A. Rock. This was my second favorite. I was not disappointed. #TeamIra for the win!!!! This amazing writer wrote a world where Artificial Beings existed. If I can sum it up in 4 words it’ll be My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Shout out to Kanye, love this album). That is literally what I kept thinking over and over. It was one of those stories that on the outside it seems perfect, but underneath it was brimming with treachery, and chaos. Lester!!! Poor Lester, tried to do something nice. This story confirms on why in the future SHE won’t be participating in ROBOTS of any kind. No ma’am, I’m not going to let something MAN created get the one up on me. I really enjoyed this story alot. I could definitely read more of this.

 

 

About Avon Gale

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

About J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including BY HIS RULES, TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, and, with Lisa Henry, THE GOOD BOY and WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

About K.J. Charles

KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.

Find her on Twitter @kj_charles or on Facebook, join her Facebook group, or email her at kjcharleswriter {at] gmail {dot} com. She is represented by Deidre Knight at The Knight Agency, and published by Samhain and Loveswept.

About Kris Ripper

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a little kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before tha

About Roan Parrish

ROAN PARRISH is currently wandering between Philadelphia and New Orleans. When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

About Steve Berman

Steve Berman loves to tell stories that are both queer and weird. He was a Zeta Psi back in his college days at and remembers being hazed. He survived and graduated and even earned a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. He has written and sold over a hundred articles, essays, and short stories. His YA novel, Vintage, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award.

Virtual Tour – Sideshow by Amy Stilgenbauer

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OMS welcomes author Amy Stilgenbauer to the blog to answer a few questions for us and to celebrate her latest release, Sideshow – Available from Interlude Press, August 25, 2016 – to share an excerpt and offer a giveaway.

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OMS:  Hi Amy, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

AS: Thanks for having me! I’m a writer and giant history geek from Michigan who grew up in a small festival-obsessed town. That might be why I’m so fascinated by them. Sideshow is my second novel. It tells the story of Abby Amaro, a first generation Sicilian-American young woman in the late 1950s who is struggling with her place in this world, and ends up finding it, and love at a traveling carnival.

OMS:  Tell us something about your character’s friends.

AS:  The great, and also awful, thing about traveling around the country with your coworkers is that you become a family, the kind that has your back and at the same time can get incredibly annoying. The people Abby travels with in the carnival are exactly that. Ruth takes her under her wing and helps her navigate being the new girl. Vinnie does his best to bring her out of her shell. Even Della, antagonistic and bitter as she is, has Abby’s back when it counts.

OMS:  What is your character’s favorite meal? Favorite dessert? Favorite snack food? Banner300x250

AS: Food actually plays a far more prominent role in Sideshow than I had initially realized. It’s probably because so much of my own memories have specific meals at the center of them. Abby, as we learn, has a fondness for foods that might be a little off palate for most, such as chicken livers and anchovy pizza for dinner and marzipan for dessert. My personal favorite food fact about her is that though she never explicitly said so, her favorite snack food is kettle corn for a very sappy reason.

OMS:  What activity does your character absolutely hate?

AS: While it may seem strange for an aspiring opera singer and carnival talker to say, Abby has an almost debilitating case of stage fright. When she gets in front of people, though she wants to push through and be a good performer, it’s not always that simple. She works on this struggle throughout the novel. She and Suprema are very much alike in this way. Suprema is fine on stage; it’s opening up in real life that she struggles with.

OMS:  What other author’s book do you think your character would be good in?

AS: I could see Abby slipping rather seamlessly into the world of Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event. Not just because it is set in the 1950s and Abby would have heard about the events that take place, but also because the general theme of community struggles and the first blush of independence are things that Abby also deals with. Also, I would really like to see Boleslaw, one of the carnival’s lot managers, in charge of things in Like Water for Elephants. He’s got the sort of calm demeanor that circus sorely needed.

OMS:  What’s your favorite decade and why?

AS: That’s a tough one, being the archivist and life long history nerd that I am. I find that every decade has some really high points, but then there are also so many things to not love, including the one we’re currently living, so it’s really hard to pick. I choose to set Sideshow in the 1950s, because I find that particular decade fascinating to study. The aesthetic is iconic, and I am enthralled by the anxieties, struggles, and changes that were bubbling under the surface of society. Those are exactly the kind of themes that I love to explore.

* * * * * *

RC~EXCERPT~

 

Abby couldn’t remember falling asleep. She only remembered the dark night and how, outside the window of Della’s trailer, the rolling slopes of Eastern Ohio slowly flattened into the farmland of the western side of the state and faded into darkness. She didn’t say much during the trip, but her mind was spinning, unable to process what she had done.

Once, when she had been a little girl, barely older than Annette was now, her mother had taken her and Natale to visit their aunt in Chicago for a week. It had been a nice visit. They had embarked on the train with a great deal of ceremony, and Za Teresa had spoiled the pair rotten, loading them up with peach-shaped marzipan and pizzelle until they were both sick. She hadn’t left Cleveland for any extended period of time since. Oh, sure, she’d talked and dreamt about it. Nonna often wistfully mentioned taking a trip back to her girlhood home one more time now that the war was over and taking Abby along to look after her, and then, if her opera career took off as she had once hoped, she would be visiting all the great cities. In her scrapbook, clippings of Palais Garnier, La Scala, and The Met were decorated with carefully drawn hearts and hopeful stars and the scrawled word: someday. Still, she had never imagined


Sideshow 900px FRONT (Tumblr)Sideshow by Amy Stilgenbauer
Release Date: August 25, 2016
Pages: 224 • Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Published By: Interlude Press
Purchase Links:
InterludeAmazonARe • B&NSmashwords • IndieboundGoogle 

Abby Amaro wants to sing at La Scala Opera House, but she’s a good girl, and in 1957 good girls get married. Still, when she receives her first marriage proposal, she freezes, knowing the way her suitor makes her feel bodes trouble. When he won’t take no for an answer, she flees, joining up with a traveling carnival.

Thanks to a burlesque trapeze artist and the world’s saddest clown, Abby bides her time and fits in until she can rejoin the world she knows. She doesn’t expect a sideshow strongwoman named Suprema, who captures her imagination. As the carnival makes its way across the Midwest, Abby learns much more than she had ever imagined—about herself, about her identity, and, most importantly, about love.


Follow the Tour!

25-Aug: The Novel Approach, Unquietly Me, Velvet Panic, Bayou Book Junkie

Badge26-Aug: Oh My Shelves, Book Lovers 4Ever, Book Reviews and More by Kathy, A.M. Leibowitz

29-Aug: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Love Bytes

30-Aug: Butterfly-O-Meter, Kirsty Loves Books, MM Good Book Reviews

31-Aug: My Fiction Nook, BFD Book Blog

1-Sep: Prism Book Alliance, Open Skye Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter

2-Sep: Foxylutely Book Reviews, Bonkers About Books

5-Sep: Divine Magazine, Havan Fellows

6-Sep: Alpha Book Club, Molly Lolly

7-Sep: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Charley Descoteaux

 

Final

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About Amy Stilgenbauer

Amy Stilgenbauer is a writer and aspiring archivist currently based in southeast Michigan. She is the author of the novelette series, Season of the Witch, as well as the Young Adult novel, The Legend of League Park. Her short story, The Fire-Eater’s Daughter, was included in Summer Love, an LGBTQ Young Adult collection published by Duet, an imprint of Interlude Press. When she isn’t writing, Amy enjoys all things bergamot and tries to keep her cats away from her knitting.

Virtual Tour – Burning Tracks by Lilah Suzanne

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Oh My Shelves welcomes Lilah Suzanne,  author of Burning Tracks to the blog for a short interview and she shares an excerpt with us. Check out the giveaway at the end of the post!  

* * * * * *

 

OMS: Tell us something about your character’s friends.

LS: Gwen has historically had a tough time with friends. She’s a lot to take sometimes, with all the raunchy jokes and chronic foot-in-mouth disease. She’s been pretty career and relationship focused, which doesn’t help. So she keeps in touch with a few college friends and even fewer high school friends, and is pretty friendly with some of her styling clients, but her closest friend is Nico. What Nico has discovered along the way is that once you look past the dirty jokes and constant blurting (and that braying laugh, sheesh) is that Gwen is fiercely loyal and incredibly loving and he couldn’t ask for a better friend. And her laugh is pretty amazing once you get used to it.

OMS:  What is your character’s favorite meal? Favorite dessert? Favorite snack food?RC

LS:  Gwen’s wife Flora is one of those people who shows love through cooking meals, so anything Flora makes is at the top of the list. Gwen also loves big salads and lots of produce, she doesn’t just choke it down because it’s good for her like Nico, or to maintain a rockin’ six-pack like Grady (or Clementine.)

OMS: What activity does your character absolutely hate?

LS: Phone calls with her mother. Gwen tries to not take it personally, but when every other sentence sound like criticism, it’s hard to take. Flora says it’s how Gwen’s mother shows love, but it’s difficult to remember that.

OMS: What other author’s book do you think your character would be good in?

LS: I’d put her in one of those absurd 1950s lesbian pulp novels. I think that would amuse her. But with a happy ending, of course.

OMS:  What’s your favorite decade and why?

LS: I’m fascinated by the period of time when the end of prohibition and the Great Depression overlap, late twenties to early thirties or so, but only in a romantic sense. I certainly wouldn’t want to have lived then instead!

* * * * * *

~Excerpt~

“There’s a reason you two aren’t allowed to hang out alone.” Arms crossed, one impeccable eyebrow raised, lips twisted, hair artfully tousled, and dressed to the nines: Alexander Wang black-on-black tropical-printed board shorts, a slim fit black-and-white chino and matching black lapel jacket, black boots, and a black and white scarf to tie it all together. “Nico,” Gwen says.

“Nico?” Grady is up in a flash. “You came?”

Nico’s face softens into his Grady look. “Of course I came. Did you really think you were getting rid of me that easily?” Grady comes closer, and Nico brushes a spiraled lock of hair from his face. “I’m sorry it took me so long. There were storms over Dallas, and I got stuck on the tarmac with a dead phone. I barely made my connection, and the clusterfuck of morons known as the United gate at JFK could not get its shit together, and I may be banned outright from Charlotte-Douglas International, can you believe they flag you as a security risk and hold you in a room with no phone signal or Wi-Fi just for threatening one person with shoving that goddam intercom up their—”  He opens his arms for Grady; his look of annoyance slips away the moment they touch. “Anyway, I’m here.”

Grady sighs, crowds into Nico’s space, and tucks himself into Nico’s body. Much better, a perfect fit. “God, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Nico sinks one hand into his hair, strokes the nape of his neck with other, breathes him in, and closes his eyes. “I’m so sorry. About the apartment and taking off and not being here yesterday, I tried to so hard to make it because I know how difficult it is for you. You shouldn’t have been alone.”

BannerTemplateGrady sniffs and holds him tighter. “It’s okay. We’re okay. I’m sorry, too.”

Still ensnared in the sheets and duvet and barely awake, Gwen presses her hands to her cheeks and awws. “You guys,” she coos.

Grady lifts his head from Nico’s neck to smile at Gwen. “I wasn’t alone, though.”

“Mmm” Nico says. “And how much trouble did she get you into?”

None,” Gwen says, defensive. Here she kept Grady safe and sound, searched all over Nashville and Las Vegas while he was off burying himself in work and what thanks does she get? None.

But then Grady smirks and says, “Kind of a lot.”

“Grady.” Gwen throws a pillow at him. “You’re such a tattletale, gosh.”

He bends to whisper something in Nico’s ear, and Gwen doesn’t miss the way his lips drag and linger on the shell of it, or the way Nico’s breath catches and his eyes roll back. When Nico lifts Grady’s shirt and traces around the tattoos with reverent fingers, Gwen takes that as her cue to extricate herself from the bed, put on some pants and a bra, and go fetch her luggage.

“‘Kay you guys have fun and make sure to change the sheets when you’re finished.”

“Wait.” Nico tugs Grady’s shirt down. Then he goes to the case he always has nearby. “You have trouble of your own, Gwen. Thought you might want to know about this.”

Gwen catches the magazine and folded-up papers he tosses her way: screen grabs from a few entertainment websites printed out in black and white.

Is This Clementine Campbell’s Girlfriend? Our source says, “It wouldn’t surprise me.”

Clementine and Gal Pal Definitely More Than Pals Sunning On Vegas Pool Deck.

Our exclusive source and close confidant of both says: Clementine’s married girlfriend “would cheat for sure. She was always touching her. There’s been an energy between them from the very beginning.”

 There are pictures: her rubbing sunscreen on Clementine’s bare back, which looks far steamier in a fuzzy long-range picture than it actually was; a picture of them from the back at the store in the Venetian with their hands clasped and Clementine curled in close and her lips on Gwen’s cheek; and most damning of all, grinding together at the VIP club at the Bellagio just last night.

“I don’t—” Frantic and confused, she flaps the magazine and printouts in the air. “What is this? This isn’t— Nico, I didn’t, I swear.

Nico holds both hands up. “Hey, I am well aware of the slander of tabloids. I get it.” He gives her a sympathetic look. “I’m just not sure Flora is going to.”

 


Burning Tracks 900px FRONT (Tumblr)Burning Tracks by Lilah Suzanne
Series: Spotlight, Book Two
Release Date: August 11, 2016
Pages: 224 • Cover Artist: Victoria S.
Published By: Interlude Press
Purchase Links:
InterludeAmazonARe • B&N  • Book Depository  • Smashwords • iBooksGoogle 

In the sequel to Broken Records, Gwen Pasternak has it all: a job she loves as a celebrity stylist and a beautiful wife, Flora. But as her excitement in working with country music superstar Clementine Campbell grows, Gwen second-guesses her quiet domestic bliss. Meanwhile, her business partner, Nico Takahashi and his partner, reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson, face uncertainties of their own.


Follow the Tour!

11-Aug: Havan Fellows, Jessie G. Books, Divine Magazine, 3 Chicks After Dark

12-Aug: BFD Book Blog, Unquietly Me, The Novel Approach

15-Aug: Molly Lolly, Inked Rainbow Reads, Oh My Shelves

16-Aug: Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Alpha Book Club, Bayou Book Junkie

17-Aug: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Velvet Panic, Prism Book Alliance

18-Aug: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Kirsty Loves Books, Bonkers About Books

19-Aug: V’s Reads, My Fiction Nook, Happily Ever Chapter

22-Aug: Love Bytes, Foxylutely Book Reviews

23-Aug: Nephy Hart, MM Good Book Reviews

24-Aug: A.M. Leibowitz, Open Skye Book Reviews, Book Lovers 4Ever

 

Final

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About Lilah Suzanne

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she has also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the fan fiction community. She is also the author of the Interlude Press books Spice, Pivot and Slip, and Broken Records, which was named a Top Pick by RT Book Reviews Magazine.

Book Blitz – Love and Magic by RE Andeen

Love and Magic 1000x400

Title: Love and Magic

Author: RE Andeen

Publisher: Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date: 7-27-2016

Heat Level: 2

Pairing: F/F

Length:: 10,000 words

Genre: Lesbian Romance, Multi-Cultural, Fantasy

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Love and Magic Cover

Synopsis

Kiv never expected to see a battle, let alone fight in one. She came to the island kingdom of Escot to use her magic to help people, not to kill them, but a petty, pointless civil war has made her job as Court Wizard difficult and then impossible. When the hostilities come to a head, Kiv finds herself on the battlefield, supporting one army against another.

On the other side, there is Tallas, a wizard more dangerous than three thousand swords and a woman more intriguing that than any Kiv has ever met. The battle will end in blood and death, as battles do, but for Tallas and Kiv, the end is only the beginning.

.

Excerpt

Kiv woke with a start, wondering if she was dead. She cast about with her senses, both physical and magical, and decided she was alive after all. She was lying in a bed of golden wood on soft white cotton sheets under a green wool blanket. Overhead, she saw the silky blue canopy of a large tent, with the curtains on all four sides tied back to let in the morning sun, set in an open field without another structure in sight. The rain had finally stopped, though the sky was still gray.

She climbed out of bed, noticing that she was in nothing but her underthings, and looked for something to wear. Her clothes – long wool skirt, wide leather belt, white cotton blouse, and heavy wool cloak – were folded neatly on a table beside the bed, all the grime and gore of battle washed away, with her purple silk Court Wizard hood and her gnarled manzanita wand sitting next to the pile. She dressed and went looking for the kind soul who had taken care of her. Tallas – of course it was Tallas – was just outside the tent, her back to Kiv, cooking a skillet of something over a low fire that smelled amazing.

“Oh, good. You’re awake,” Tallas said, without turning around. “I trust you’re feeling alright. I checked you over myself last night, and I could find no injury or ailment beside exhaustion.”

Kiv walked over and sat on a rock next to the fire. “I’m fine,” she said. “I suppose I should thank you…”

“It was nothing,” Tallas said. “You’re a Wizard of the Guild, and we take care of our own.”

“I know,” Kiv replied, “but I’ve never had anything like yesterday happen to me before.”

“Haven’t you?” Tallas asked, looking up from the fire, and Kiv suddenly felt that those jet black eyes were boring a hole right through her. “I suppose you haven’t…”

Purchase

Torquere Press

Love and Magic Square
Meet the Author

RE Andeen is a writer, software developer, Klingonist, and general nerd. After a lifetime of immersion in science and technology, he discovered writing, quite by accident, in 2014. He lives in downtown Seattle.

Facebook: Eric Andeen (https://www.facebook.com/eric.andeen)
Facebook Author Page: RE Andeen (https://www.facebook.com/reandeen/)
Twitter: @REAndeen
Other: Personal webpage/blog (http://reandeen.com/)
Amazon: Author page (http://amazon.com/author/reandeen)

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of Love and Magic.

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Book Blitz – The Olive Conspiracy by Shira Glassman

Olive Conspiracy 1000x400

Title: The Olive Conspiracy

Author: Shira Glassman

Series Title and Number: Mangoverse 4

Publisher: Prizm Books

Cover Artist: BS Clay

Release Date: 7/20/16

Heat Level: 2

Pairing : Female/Female, with significant Female/Male supporting characters

Length: 61K

Genre: Fantasy, Lesbian Romance, Multi-Cultural, Espionage, Political, Chick Lit

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The Olive Conspiracy Cover

Synopsis

When Ezra tries to blackmail Chef Yael about her being trans, she throws him out of her restaurant and immediately reports him to the queen. When police find Ezra stabbed to death, Queen Shulamit realizes he may have also tried to extort someone more dangerous than a feisty old lady.

The royal investigation leads straight to an international terrorist plot to destroy her country’s economy—and worse, her first love, Crown Princess Carolina of Imbrio, may be involved. Since she’s got a dragon-shifting wizard at her disposal, contacts with friendly foreign witches, and the support of her partner Aviva, Shulamit has hope. What she doesn’t have is time.

A love story between women, between queen and country, and between farmers and their crops.

Due out July 2016 electronically and fall 2016 in paperback. eBook purchases directly from the publisher, and paperbacks from anywhere, will include a free copy of Tales from Perach, five bonus short stories.

Excerpt

“What’s that one? It looks like a map.”

Shulamit shifted papers around. “Mmm,” she agreed, turning the paper slightly and studying it more closely. “It’s a map of Perach. But I don’t know what all this mess is.” She squinted and shook her head. “I don’t know; it looks familiar, somehow.”

“Well, you do run the country.”

“This line… these patterns…”

With one arm folded across her midsection and the other arm upright so that her fist rested against her nose, Shulamit raked her memories. Those swirly bits. That pair of streaks. Why did they look so familiar? Why did she feel like she’d seen it before, what seemed like ages ago before the emotional upheaval of visiting Imbrio again and seeing Carolina?

“Oh, my God!” Heat flared in Shulamit’s cheeks. “Rivka, this makes no sense, but—Guard! Who’s out there?”

One of the guards appeared at the doorway. “Majesty?”

Shulamit held out one pointing finger. “Can you please bring me my latest notes on our agricultural pests?”

“Absolutely, Majesty.” He disappeared into the sunlight.

Rivka squinted at her. “I don’t get it.”

“You think I do?” Shulamit skin tingled as she waited for the papers to show up and either prove her wrong or show that she was absolutely right, thus opening up nothing but a cartload of further questions. Both hands fidgeted with the ends of her filmy yellow scarf.

Shulamit felt like every second was bloated and lazy until the guard reappeared. Where was he? Finally, the requested papers arrived, and she tore into them with such ferocity that several fell onto the floor and had to be retrieved.

“There!” she finally exclaimed triumphantly.

“What?” Rivka leaned over her shoulder eagerly, and Shulamit heard a soft thud as Isaac leapt off Riv’s shoulder onto the back of her throne to get a better view.

“The olive blight,” said Shulamit, her lips barely moving as she tried to make sense of the completely unexpected connection. “Ezra drew a map of the olive blight, and put it in the middle of his blackmail notes.”

“Is there anything else on the paper?” said Isaac in his normal voice.

Shulamit turned it over. “Oh, I’m so nervous, I’m not thinking straight. This is the map I already had.”

She flipped over the correct parchment. In Ezra’s lazy scrawl, it said,

Imbrian man (Name: Rui?) *possibly leader

Imbrian man with missing tooth. Drinks like a fish.

Perachi woman (from Lovely Valley?) Money-minded.

Unknown man (Light skinned. Imbrian?)

Unknown woman (Perachi?)

Who is “André?”

“There is no way this means anything good.” Thoughts whirled through Shulamit’s mind, thoughts that she was afraid to put to words. What did Imbrio have to do with agricultural pests? What about—what about Carolina?

Malkeleh,” said Isaac, interrupting her mental maelstrom. “Let me see Ezra’s map again.”

Shulamit flipped the paper back over.

“Look,” said Isaac. “His map—the infestation goes down the river straight into the Lovely Valley.”

Shulamit shook her head slowly and groped around for Rivka’s hand. She clung to her friend’s arm with both hands like it was a bellpull, then hugged it tightly to her chest. “Whatever this is, we have to stop it. We have to stop them.

Purchase

Torquere Press

Olive Conspiracy SquareMeet the Author

Shira Glassman is a bisexual Jewish violinist living in North Central Florida. She is best known for her Mangoverse books, four fluffy queer fantasy novels (and accompanying short stories) set in a tropical Jewish fairytale kingdom ruled over by a young lesbian and her “family of choice”, including a dragon. These books have reached the finals list of multiple years of the Bi Book Awards and Golden Crown Literary Society Awards. She writes other short contemporary and fantasy fiction as well, including two contemporary romance novelettes about professional musicians. Shira’s greatest inspirations are French and German opera and Agatha Christie novels, as well as her own family life and closest friends.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7234426.Shira_Glassman
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShiraGlassman
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/shiraglassman
Blog: http://shiraglassman.wordpress.com

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of The Olive Conspiracy.

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But First Must Come the Storm by Brooke Radley

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

51Kxhez0mHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_But First Must Come the Storm by Brooke Radley
Release Date: March 14, 2016
Pages: 271 • Format: eARC
Published By: NineStar Press
Purchase Links:
NineStarAmazon ARe

On the blustery first day of her fall semester, twenty-year-old Millie Carrera is determined to start her junior year on the right foot. She has a great GPA, a nice apartment, and if she plays her cards right, she might even graduate a semester early. It’s everything she ever wanted. That is, until she runs into Summer Evans.

Literally.

Summer is older, gorgeous, and because of Millie, has coffee seeping through the front of her blouse. She also happens to be Millie’s new Science Writing professor. Millie worries their embarrassing encounter may haunt her for the entire semester, and Summer’s lingering glances don’t make her feel any less self-conscious. Millie makes every effort to get back into Summer’s good graces, and soon she can’t tell if she’s drawn more by guilt or attraction.

Summer’s passion for her subject strikes a chord with Millie, who wants desperately to get to know her better. Astoundingly, Summer seems to want the same thing.

As the two get to know each other, their friendship grows into something more—something forbidden. Acting upon their feelings would jeopardize Millie’s education and Summer’s job, but when they’re together, it’s hard to care. Will they be able to keep their hands off each other long enough to get through finals, or will the semester end in heartbreak?

three-half-stars

What do you do when you are rushing to class and spill hot coffee all over a gorgeous woman and that gorgeous woman ends up being your Science Writing Professor? Well that is what we are going to find out as one Mille Carrera meets Dr. Summer Evans in the most awkward meet cute… ugh.

I love the idea of a student teacher relationship, it always works for me but with two women this was new territory.

Summer has been teaching for three years and is offered an associate professor title which can put her on the track for tenure. Working at a community college, I know that tenure is what most instructors are looking for as it aids to the stability of their career so when tenure came up early in the story, I was intrigued how it would be handled when the women attempt a relationship.

This is a very slow burn romance. The two women actively play the roles of student and teacher with very little engagement into a relationship for at least half of the book which for me, was far too long. I get that they both have school and careers to consider yet aside from a few thoughts from Millie on a hike or when she sees Summer at random school events or the cheek caress to wake Millie from Summer… we don’t get much in the way of chemistry or attraction. I love a good slow burn but the heat was turned down so low it was almost non-existent.

The wait for it all to happen was just that, a wait and while I do like that they took their time, the small bits of intimacy we get weren’t enough for me to really engage with the romance. Once they do dance around the idea though, the story began to pick up a smidge but it didn’t hold steady for me.

“I can’t stop thinking about our kiss. And the more I think about it, the less I care about the repercussions. It’s getting harder to stay away.”

“You could stop.”

“Stop what?”

“Stop fighting it.”

To have a chance at any sort of relationship, Summer and Millie have to set boundaries and ground rules for not only how they the budding relationship hidden but who they will trust with it as well. Unfortunately there is no one they can trust and they decide to only be with one another off campus. I can tell you how much I worried for them when they decided this. When I was young I dated my boss and though we kept our relationship out of work and even went to other towns for movies etc. it was unavoidable that simply being around one another, looking at each other for three seconds too long was enough to cause folks to begin talking about us… as a couple.

The issues the women face were believable as you can’t begin to care for someone and simply shut those feelings off. It was a tough situation for Summer and Millie to be in and they handled it the best way they could though feelings did get hurt along the way.

But First Must Come the Storm was a nice slow burn romance between a teacher and her student and what lines you’ll cross to be with the one you love.

 

About Brooke Radley

rooke Radley wrote her first story, a fantastical adventure including dragons and castles overrun with ghosts, when she was five years old. She has a degree in English from Virginia Tech. Her first published novel, Nightshade, was released in November 2015. She lives in Chesapeake with her two dogs.

The Better To Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

402c0a97-59a2-4493-acd8-5b57d1ed7f29The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood
Release Date: 
April 21, 2016
Pages: 182 • Format: 
eARC
Published By: 
Interlude Press
Purchase Links:
Interlude AmazonARe  • B&N • Smashwords • iBooks • Book Depository  Indiebound 

Deanna, the moderator for Wolf’s Run, an online werewolf role-playing game, wanders the local forest with her dog Arthur and daydreams about Jaime, the attractive, enigmatic woman who lives upstairs. When threats from an antagonistic player escalate, Deanna wonders if her job could be riskier than she’d ever imagined—and if her new girlfriend knows more about this community than she had realized.

four-stars

Well this was even better than I expected!

We meet Deanna our narrator as she is chasing after her dog Arthur and meets the stunning upstairs neighbor Jaime. From the minute Deanna sees Jaime I fell in love with her voice. Deanna is snarky, she is witty, smart and the girl has lust in her heart. Ha. Lust and the all too familiar disease of open mouth, insert foot when it comes to beautiful women.

So anyway, Deanna meets Jaime and they have instant chemistry. Deanna works for an online for a game called Wolf’s Run as a moderator of the games chats if you will and this game is full of wolf shifters who run in packs. Uh huh… you know the title of this book? Take it to heart. But Deanna being the “den mother” of the chats runs into a few players or jerks who like to mess with her and one in particular has her spooked and for good reason.

I am not sure how much to say about the plot of the story as though it’s hinted at it’s not mentioned in the blurb so I will leave off. I will just say it went where I hoped it would, I liked the take on it and it proved functional and fundamental to the story arc as well as the romance. Deanna’s reaction was classic when first revealed and really as honest as she could be.

Deanna and Jaime have a great start to their relationship and the sex they have was hot as heck. Goodness. I am all for individuals who can tune into their partners needs in bed and these girls do over and over again.

For me, what sticks out the most with the book is how sex-positive it truly was and that is refreshing. I love it when an author can write a woman, or in this case two, and make them want sex with no hint of shame or self-loathing. Deanna has to many sexy thoughts about Jaime before the share a single intimate touch that made me chuckle because one minute she would full on wanting to lick the freckles off Jaime to reminding herself that life, truly is not a porn movie.

The Better To Kiss You With was a fun and sexy introduction to a new me to author. I loved the author’s voice throughout the book with the small jabs at social injustice and how she blended them in well with the characters. Deanna and Jaime are a beautiful couple and the end gave me a great look at how their relationship is evolving with Jaime’s family.

 

About Michelle Osgood

Michelle Osgood lives in Vancouver, BC, with her partner Elizabeth and their two cats. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English, and has been reading, writing, and blogging in fandom communities for five years. She likes to read romance novels, speculative fiction, and feminist pop culture critique.

The Turning Point by Amy Paine

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

516zox256PL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Turning Point by Amy Paine
Series: Traveling Companions
Release Date: March 7, 2016
Pages: 44 • Format: eARC
Published By: NineStar Press
Purchase Links:
NineStar Amazon • ARe

1920s aristocratic feminist, Benita, dreams of heading her own magazine in a male dominated world but needs her lover Terence to help her reach her goals. Millie, a rich socialite and heiress to the Hemsby fortune, is about to be married to James, thus fulfilling her family’s dream of assuring their line.

A chance encounter on a train journey to London throws both women together, and a sensual trap is spun by their mutual desires. By the time they alight on the platform at Waterloo, both are changed and neither wants to say goodbye.

Is Benita strong enough to risk jeopardising her dreams and goals for a woman who captivates her? Can Millie break with tradition to follow her heart? When confronted by opposition and heartbreak Benita and Millie must find a way to be together, yet the world seems set to oppose them.

four-stars

Um… so, what happens on the railway to Waterloo, stays on the railway to Waterloo???

This was so much fun, so fresh and so damn sexy. Not only is this a historical f/f novella featuring a  feminist woman who is a reporter for a travel magazine but said strong woman is also a POC. I can’t stay how thrilled I was to get that bit of information right away as Benita tells us about her parents; her mother being Jamaican and the scandal of her marrying a lord.

…do you make a habit of seducing women on trains?

I loved getting in Benita’s head as Millie boards the railway carriage and has to squish in next to her and I love the boldness in everything Millie does.

This was a lovely exploration of women and sexuality in the 1920’s. It was interesting to get both women’s perspectives on their “relationship” with men; Benita’s boyfriend being one of convenience and Millie’s fiancé being that of familial duty and how they stand as feminist.

This is relatively short story and does not give much exploration to the characters other than what we are told about them. What it does give is a sexy romp in a railway carriage between two women of different social status, age and race and how all of that doesn’t matter when the one next to you, turns you on like never before.

“You’re one of us, aren’t you?”

“One of whom?”

“One who so adores the female sex. But in your case, you don’t dare enough.”

Romance for me can be the small things people do for one another but it is also those explosive beginnings where you know without a doubt, if you don’t get your hands on the person that is turning you inside out, you will lose it. Thank goodness Millie has great ideas on how to rationalize Benita out of her skirt.  Mmm hmm.

While this was sexy and intriguing it left me with a want for more. I would have loved to be in Millie’s head when she first saw Benita and was attracted to her. I would have loved to be in her head when she makes this trip the trip where she will make Benita finally see her and go for what she’s been wanting to do. The end was a bit quick and I hope, as the title of “Traveling Companions” suggests, there will be more in the story as I would love to see how the women navigate this new relationship among their rellality. Also, I would love to see the toys Millie has as I have seen a few pictures from the decade and before of women with the like.

I truly hope the series continues with these characters as they were intriguing and I would love to see how this all works out.

The Turning Point is a wonderful short story of self-exploration of your mind while investigation the sexuality you are told you shouldn’t want. It’s about choosing which part of you shall be free, which part you’ll show to the world to fit and get by and the line you won’t cross to lose one to the other.

 

About Amy Paine

Amy Paine is the LGBT name for a well-known author of contemporary romance. She loves writing about strong women with tantalizing stories to tell, and always likes a happy ending. She writes across a broad spectrum of genres, enjoying penning both historical and contemporary stories.
Right now, she is busy at work on the rest of the Travelling Companions series that sees her two heroines negotiating many twists and turns with their 1920s romance. She also has plenty of other ideas in the pipeline.
When she’s not writing, Amy loves to cook, walk, paint and spend time with friends. She is probably to be found at least one day a week in her favourite café enjoying her preferred tipple—a frothy cappuccino—or indulging in plenty of cakes at afternoon tea.