Blog Tour – Strong Medicine by J.K. Hogan

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    Oh My Shelves welcomes author J.K. Hogan to the blog to celebrate the release of her latest book, Strong Medicine, and to answer a few random questions. 

    OMS: Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?

    J.K.H.: Definitely Justice from I Survived Seattle, my first m/m book and fourth in my backlist. I modelled Justice’s multitude of issues including generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and panic disorder after my own struggles with the same illnesses. He’s pretty much me, except for the cute gay guy part.

    I also identify with Jonah from Strong Medicine to an extent, because I could easily imagine what it would be life if my neuroses passed over into the realm of insanity.

     OMS:  If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?

    J.K.H.: I’ve worked in a lot of different industries so I’ve satisfied my curiosity in a lot of different areas. In addition to being an author, I’m also a freelance graphic designer and a graphic artist (I’m currently designing covers) so I’d probably put more energy into that side of things. Or, in an alternate reality, if I didn’t have kids and bad knees, I’d be an extreme skiier. 

    OMS: Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?

    J.K.H.: Not really, because I’m obsessive about researching things, so I knew exactly what I was getting into. There’s nothing I’ve learned along the way that would keep me from wanting to do this. I’d still be writing rather I published or not, but it’s more fun this way.

     OMS: Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?

    J.K.H.: Not a thing. Strong Medicine is pretty much how I envisioned it. I know some readers might not think there is enough on-page romance, but there really is about as much as in my other books, but it’s just clustered into the last third of the book. The reason is that I wanted their situation to be realistic as possible, and if they’d started their physical relationship while still in the hospital, in real life, that could’ve led to trauma, litigation, or incarceration. Hopefully my readers will appreciate my commitment to a believable story, and still enjoy both the dark part and the romantic part of the story. Thanks for reading!


    StrongMedicineCoverStrong Medicine by J.K. Hogan
    Release Date: May 11, 2016
    Pages: • Format: eARC
    Published By: Wilde City Press
    Purchase Links:
    Wilde CityAmazon 

    Two men who meet in a psychiatric institution couldn’t possibly find happiness together—could they?

    The world seemed to be telling disgraced former child star and singer Cameron Fox that he would never be happy again. A drunken car accident gets him sentenced to a work-release at Riverbend Behavioral Health Facility.

    Reclusive, traumatized writer Jonah Radley has an entire graveyard of skeletons in his closet. Jonah regularly hospitalizes himself for psychotic episodes caused by a horrific childhood trauma, his biggest secret—one he refuses to speak about in therapy.

    Jonah and Cameron form a bond inside the hospital, forged in mutual pain and hope for a better life. Once they leave the hospital, they must decide if they are brave enough to explore the intricacies of living with mental illness—and find a new normal together.


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    ~Excerpt~

    Jonah was feeling particularly lucid that day. He hadn’t seen any dead relatives, nothing had burned, and he actually felt like he was inside his own body, for once. He knew it wouldn’t last. It was a constant feeling of dancing on the edge of the cliff, just waiting for the one misstep that would send him plummeting into the void again.

    He sat in the rocking chair, the one that had become known as ‘Jonah’s chair,’ and watched Harry the groundskeeper shovel snow off the patio next to the picture window. The scoliotic old man bent to sprinkle handfuls of rock salt over the pavers before moving on farther into the courtyard.

    As usual, Jonah lost himself in the warmth of the blanket of sunlight, so much so that he was startled when he sensed a presence behind him. It was just a change in the air, a shift of the molecules, and then a new scent—sharp and heady, a mixture of cedar smoke and Old Spice. Jonah had smelled it before, yesterday. He didn’t need to see to know that the sparkly new probie was standing behind him.

    And just like that, just picturing the man in his mind with his weird, shaggy blond hair, dark blue eyes, and boyish features, Jonah remembered. He’d been much younger then, the boy on the TV that his mother had sat him in front of when she couldn’t deal with his damning silence anymore. That boy, his sweet face, and even sweeter voice, had saved Jonah more times than he could count, just kept him hanging on for one more day.

    Staring unblinking out the window, Jonah breathed deep of that fragrance and addressed the spectral memory of Kyle Chase. “I know you,” he whispered.

    The air stilled as the movement behind him ceased, as if the other man had turned to stone.

    “I loved you once.”

    Footsteps. Soft, padding, staccato beats of leather against linoleum, until Jonah was face to face with his boyhood crush. Well, more like face to chest, since Jonah was seated and Kyle was looming over him. He wasn’t Kyle, of course, not really. Though Jonah strained, digging through layers of memory, he couldn’t extract the boy—man’s real name.

    “Excuse me?” Not-Kyle asked, bushy eyebrows raised toward his hairline.

    Jonah tried for a rueful smile, and he could practically hear his skin cracking with the effort. “Sorry, probie. It’s well known around here that I don’t make any sense. What I meant was ‘I used to watch your show.’”

    “Oh. I, uh… really?”

    Jonah half coughed, half grunted, because it was as close as he ever got to a laugh. “That surprises you?”

    “Yes—No! I just sometimes forget that the people who used to watch my show are all grown-up now. Most of the time, I still feel like a kid, so it kind of catches me off guard.” He ran a hand through that mop of messy hair—bleached blond like he was still playing a Cali surfer boy on TV—then squatted down so that he was on Jonah’s level.

    “I think you’d be the first one to call me a grown-up. I’ve been called a lot of things, but never that. Besides, I’m not as old as I look.”

    “Yeah? How old?”

    “Twenty-three.”

    “Oh. Wow.”

    “Yeah, I know. That’s what hard living and insanity will do to you,” Jonah explained without a hint of malice.

    “Oh, no. I’m sorry, that came out wrong… You don’t look bad. It’s the opposite, really. You look… yeah, anyway, you’re right, you do just look older than twenty-three. Not in a bad way.”

    “Easy there. It’s really okay. I’m pretty hard to insult. Most of the things you could think of to say about me would be true anyway.” Jonah wiped his sweaty palms on his sweatpants and reached on out to him. “Jonah Radley.”

    “Cameron Fox.” Cameron took his hand, shook it, lingered just a second longer than was proper.

    “I have to admit, I was wrangling for an introduction because I couldn’t remember your real name. I figure you probably wouldn’t want me calling you Kyle.”

    Cameron’s laugh was soft, cozy, like a splash of honey in some warm Earl Grey. “No, I guess not. It’s nice to meet you, Jonah Radley. Radley, that’s an unusual name.”

    “Indeed it is. Not as unusual as you’d think, but yes… I did have to deal with the well-read students in school calling me ‘Boo’ all the time. But this is rural Appalachia, so it wasn’t always a problem if you get my drift.”

    Jonah could see it took Cameron a moment to get the reference, but when he did, he chuckled again. “So what made you decide to join the wonderful world of psychiatric care?” Jonah asked.

    Something flashed in Cameron’s eyes, a cloud, a moment of indecision, before he answered. “I got arrested.”

    “Ah, you’re one of Rohan’s boys.” Jonah kept his voice neutral, careful not to seem like he was judging, because people in glass houses and all that… “A probie in every sense of the word.”

    Cameron lowered his head, studied the ugly, weathered linoleum. “Unfortunately.”

    “Hey, we all have pasts. At least you have a future.”

    That blond head snapped up, and Cameron gaped at him. “So do you, Jonah.”

    Jonah shook his head sadly, then caught sight of a pair of dark, yawning eye sockets peering through the window. One of the dead girls, of course, just when he was starting to feel human again.

    He didn’t make eye contact when he spoke to Cameron. “You should go now,” he whispered.

    “Jonah…”

    “Go!” Jonah shouted it, his voice tinged with desperation. He never cared before, but he didn’t want this man to see him disappear, to see him float. His eyes welled up, something that hadn’t ever happened at Riverbend before, and he felt ashamed. “Please.”

    “Probie!” Rohan’s rich tenor rang out across the buzzing air, slicing the tension between them. Cameron tensed, and his feet seemed to obey Rohan before the rest of him caught up. He cast one more sad, sidelong look at Jonah before he was led away.

    Once he was alone, Jonah began to shake. Shivering violently though he was burning up inside, Jonah felt tears sear flaming rivulets down his cheeks. He dug the heels of his hands into his eye sockets until they ached, and eventually the tears stopped. Then there was nothing left but smoke.

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    Meet the Author

    6427555J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

    J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and two sons, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit www.jkhogan.com.

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The Dark Light of Day by T.M. Frazier

The Dark Light of Day by T.M. FrazierSeries: Dark Light of Day #1Dark Light of Day
on September 15th 2013
Pages: 258
AmazonB&NNarrator: Christian Fox, Lucy Rivers
five-stars

Wow. I really enjoyed this audiobook. Christian Fox and Lucy River’s narration of this story left me breathless with anticipation. It was so gripping that I had to just sit down and really feel everything as I was listening to it. Their voices blended so well with the story that I felt that they were sitting with me and just talking to me. I literally had goosebumps in certain parts of this story.

The story was really well written, though it was dark and gritty. But I was completely engrossed in the story the whole time. This series was so much better than the King series. The characters and plot was fleshed out more thoroughly here.

Abby Ford was such a strong heroine. She had survived her heroin addicted mother and all the men running through her house. She was going to school and living her grandmother until a tragic accident left the 17 year old alone. With only a few month before she was an adult, Abby decided to dodge child protective services by sleeping in various abandoned places until she could escape the CPS worker who was trying to place her with a foster family.

When Jake Dunn returned to town to settle his deadbeat dad’s affairs, he found Abby squatting in his father’s abandoned building. Taking pity on her and wanting to help, Jake offers her a job as well as protection by telling the CPS work that he was her cousin.

Their complication relationship began with both respecting each others baggage and not pressing for more information that the other was willing to give. Jake also had a terrible childhood thanks to his drunkard father so Abby recognized a kindred spirit.

“We were just us, broken and bruised, f**ked up and messy. And together, we were everything we never thought we could be.”

Slowly they built trust and a love that was tested when Jake was called away for a job. When he returned a rumor drove a wedge between them and Jake left Abby. 4 years later, when Jake’s father died, he returned for the funeral to find Abby still standing and still holding his heart. Now Jake had to find the courage to reach out and mend the rift. But would Abby be willing to trust him again?

There isn’t much that can be said without ruining this powerful and emotional story. It was real, it was touching and it was inspiring. Though some bad people didn’t change, some did and that made all the difference. There was pain, growth, heartbreak and later forgiveness. While some wounds would never heal, overall, that special thing Jake and Abby found was powerful.

I wish the author went super bold and left one detail unchanged. I thought the message would have been even more awesome if little Georgia really was Owen’s and Jake loved her regardless.

At the end I just felt like the sun finally shined after terrible storm. Now it was time to just bask and singing or something.
happy photo: happy Girl_happy_main.jpg
I am definitely keeping my eyes on TM Frazier because she floored me with this one.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review

Backlash, (Don’t… #4) by Jack L. Pyke

27418455Backlash, (Don’t… #4) by Jack Pyke
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Pages: 357 • Published by: Fantastic Fiction Publishing  • Format: eBook
Purchase Links:  Fantastic FictionAmazon ARe 

In the aftermath of Jack Harrison’s release from the psychiatric unit, Gray Raoul’s first instinct is to take brutal revenge on the one responsible for financing Jack’s and Jan’s torturous psychological reconditioning. However, that person plays the game dangerously well, and knows exactly how to manipulate everyone in Gray’s life. To help negotiate this delicate situation, Gray contacts ex-Diadem Doms Trace and Gabriel Hunter. But the more Gray seems to regain control, the clearer it becomes that there’s something not quite right about Jan Richards. Jan quickly unravels, taking Jack and Gray with him, and bringing out one particularly deadly player. Gray is left with one last defense: break Jack down in order to partner up with his alter ego, Martin. But once freed, Martin has plans of his own, and he wants to make it personal with Gray. Complete trust between Master and sub, between Gray and Jack, will be tested to the absolute limit.

 

five-stars

How am I supposed to review this book when I can’t get my thoughts straight? When I can’t stop crying?

I thought I wanted Gray’s POV and I did, but oh it hurt me so much and you know what? It’s the best kind of hurt.

First, this book CAN NOT be read as a stand alone, it must be read with the series and in order.

That being said, this takes us into Gray’s head and all that this man is. All that he loves. All who he  holds close and all that he keeps inside. OMG! Gray just about killed me with his need to take care of those he loves and take care of those who hurt the ones he loves, but good lord, mukka… who will take care of you?

This series, it is gorgeous and brutal but I love being hurt by it. The triad of Jack, Gray and Jan is so beautiful and I love how their strengths are coming forward and presenting themselves as strongholds to this relationship. The respect these men have for one another, it’s exquisite.

Jan, he has taken on so much and we know he loves the bones off Jack and Gray but he has internalized so much from the rape and torture he and Jack endured. He’s not handling it well and the way he is handling it, shocked me. There were a few things that shocked me about Jan with this but none of it was bad. Just a shock and awe of the vanilla man with soft brown eyes and a sacred love for two kinky men.

Jack, he is trying so hard to deal – leaving the MC, handling Ed, wanting to be handled by Jack and being close again to his soft lad… you kill me, stunner over and over again. I don’t think… I can’t… I mean… Jack leaves me speechless. He really does and while he never got in his head with Backlash, we get so much of him and the lengths he will go to, the boundaries he will push for his loves. I know you don’t do casual Jack, but dammit, I need a hug.

Gray, yeah I still love the bastard and being inside his head was so overwhelmingly emotional. I cried so much through this book and I’m still crying as I attempt to write this. Gray, he does so much and he is so much to everyone but he needs help and that help, comes from across the pond with Trace, Gabe and Dare.

I admit to not reading Ms. Kelling’s series and properly meeting these three men, but I can assure you, that will soon be rectified. I adored Trace and the way he takes care of Gray even via text message. He is there for Gray and will drop everything to help him and then there is Gabe and Dare. OMG! Those two! I need their story STAT (trust that I broke my no book buying mandate and just bought Deliver Us) because, because… they are beautiful.

These books, this series and its mystery are so well done. Pyke knows how to tear you down, tear her characters down and build everyone back together. There is so much hurt and pain revealed in this, so many new WTAF? moments and there are still secrets that need to be told, but Jack, Gray and Jan, they just work together to make it. Just to make it and to be together.

I am an emotional reader and this book tore my heart out. It’s heavy, that’s a given with the series but there are some lighter moments that made me smile but the heart of this series, it really is the love and respect between Jack, Gray and Jan. Oh and holy hell are there some moments that sat me on my ass and made me sob at my desk while I read this. The endearments alone slowly gut me and my entrails are strewn across the room as I think about them as proof.

I have so many highlights that I could share in this review but after looking them over, they are mine right now and I am not ready to share them. I can’t. Sorry.

Now, the blurb does include Martin and I’m kinda digging him now. I mean, see him through Gray’s eyes and you get him, to a point. But all that happens with Martin, all that happens for Gray to nail the bastards that touched what’s his… it’s a roller coaster of intrigue and emotions that was amazing. Truly amazing and that end?

Sweet Saint Brigid!

I am scared to go on but that fear, it will be culled because I can’t leave my boys. I can’t.

I’ll be there. I promise.

 

About Jack L. Pyke

Jack blames her dark writing influences on living close to one of England’s finest forests. Having grown up hearing a history of kidnappings, murders, strange sightings, and sexual exploits her neck of the woods is renowned for, Jack takes that into her writing, having also learned that human coping strategies for intense situations can sometimes make the best of people have disastrously bad moments. Redeeming those flaws is Jack’s drive, and if that drive just happens to lead to sexual tension between two or more guys in a D/s relationship, Jack’s the first to let nature take its course.

Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

Home the Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfieldon July 27, 2014
Pages: 230 pages
Amazon
Dare Buckley has come home—or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide.

Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer.

In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets—his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.
two-stars

I decided to try this book because the cover was compelling and I really like the St. Nacho’s series written by the author. Unfortunately, I can’t point to anything in this book that I enjoyed.

It started out really well and about half way, it descended into this baffling sex, lies and murder mystery. I found the character of Finn Fowler to be a head scratcher. Finn Fowler was the “left behind” character as his friend Dare Buckley left Palladin Washington in search of greener pastures. Finn was the son of the town whore and everyone picked on him. He was called “Foullest”, a play on his last name Fowler. Dare Buckley, the beloved town son, always stood up for Finn until the suicide of his detective father rocked his foundation. Dare and his family quickly left town, and Finn was stuck fending for himself again.

Over a decade later, Dare returns to town after a disgraceful error in judgment cost him his job. And he seems while some things are still the same, others have changed drastically. For instance, Finn isn’t as helpless as he used to be, and now Dare was the one who needed help putting his life back together.

This book was dark and never really got better. I never felt settled reading this book, not even at the end. I never quite understood Finn. I get that he had to create an environment he could control since almost everything around him was out of his control, but I didn’t understand what he truly desired. Bill Fraser and Dare Buckley, made sense but Finn, I can’t wrap my head around. The BDSM aspect to this story did NOT work for me and I found it disturbing. It was almost like Finn was broken inside just as much as Dare and Bill. I thought the author would somehow try to fix all three of them together. All three and the whole town seemed to be pretty messed up with their secrets and lies.