Fantasy

New Release: The Highlander by Kasia Bacon

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The Highlander, mm fantasy romance about Elves by Kasia Bacon comes out tomorrow. Read on to learn more about the book and its author, together with a short excerpt. Enjoy!




Blurb

I, Lochan of the famed Féyes clan, know all about fighting.

As a half-breed Elf, I have struggled against prejudice and feelings of inadequacy.

A recluse by nature, I have battled my aversion to touch and interaction with others.

To become an assassin of The Order, I have learnt to overcome the limitations of my mind and body. 

But denying the power Ervyn Morryés holds over me might be the one fight I lose. The truth is—damn it all—the relentless Highlander brings me to my knees.


Note: This novelette is the second in the Order Series, and not a stand-alone installment. Reading THE MUTT is crucial for its full enjoyment.

Preorder link: Amazon



Author Bio and Links

A linguist and an avid reader with a particular fondness for fantasy and paranormal genres, KASIA BACON lives in London with her husband. When not tearing her hair out over a translating project, she writes stories about the shenanigans of emotionally constipated assassins and sexy Elves. Otherwise, she can be found shaking her loins at a Zumba class, binging on anime or admiring throwing knives on Pinterest. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction. A lover of MMA and Muay Thai, she also enjoys nature and the great outdoors. She dreams of becoming independently wealthy, leaving the city and moving into her wooden mini-manor—located in the heart of stunning forests resembling those of the Elven Country depicted in her tales.



Excerpt

Ervyn’s hand immediately rose to brush my cheek and jaw line. “I missed you,” he murmured.      
My pulse jumped a notch.      
He tended to say things like that, nonchalant, as if betraying one’s thoughts cost nothing. His impulsivity meant he rarely bothered to conceal his wants and intentions. Such a barefaced approach shocked the hell out of me, although I partly admired, partly envied his readiness to show emotion.     
My eyes slid closed at the warm, rough feel of his thickened fingertips: the draw hand of the archer. Somehow this heightened my pleasure. The smell of pine needles, leather and horses hit my nostrils.
His thumb skimmed my bottom lip.
I moaned, already so aroused I could kill with my hard-on. Which, in fairness, would be a handy skill to have for an assassin.
Touch me. More. I need you.      
But then he stalled and drew back a little.
Bastard.
I knew precisely what he was after. What he thrived on: my pleas and desperation.
I offered him both, having no shame left at that point.
“Please,” I whispered, clinging to him. I ran my tongue over my lip, extending it so it would swirl around the pad of his thumb, too. “Don’t stop.”      
He gave a satisfied grunt in response, and hearing him express approval almost made me spill myself inside my leathers. The realisation that I held the power to please him never failed to fill me with a thrill of lustful pride. The reason behind why I wanted—no, needed—to do so in the first place remained a disturbing mystery. But right then, wondering about it, or fighting it for that matter, didn’t feature high on my agenda. I was close to exploding even though we’d barely done anything yet.
“It’s going to be quick,” he warned, as if reading my scrambled thoughts. His breaths, stuttering right in my ear, cranked my want even higher. His body, taut and ready, trembled against mine.
Thank fuck I wasn’t the only one frantic.
I stifled a laugh. “You don’t say.”      
Gods, he had no idea.
Ervyn murmured something, latching his mouth onto mine again. I could tell by his sweet and spicy taste that he’d chewed on a root of darhê, which—as did most Dark Elves—he had a fondness for. My brain already associated this flavour with pleasure.
He ended the deep, slow kiss all too soon with a little nip to my bottom lip.
I groaned in protest, but knew better than to chase after his mouth.


Dystopia

Review: Deacon by Kit Rocha

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Title: Deacon (Gideon's Riders #2)
Author: Kit Rocha
Genre/Themes: Dystopia, Romance
Release Date: 29 Aug 2017

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb

Ana has trained most of her life to achieve one goal: to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Now she’s Sector One’s first female Rider, and being the best is the only way to ensure she won’t be its last. Distractions aren’t allowed--especially not her painful attraction to the reserved but demanding leader whose stern, grumpy demeanor has already gotten into her head.

Deacon has spent the last twenty years trying to atone for his past, but the blood he spilled as a mercenary and assassin will never wash away entirely. If his Riders knew the extent of his sins, he’d lose their trust and respect. It’s easier to keep them all at arm’s length, especially Ana. But his newest recruit’s stubbornness is starting to crack his defenses.

And their sparring matches are driving him wild.

The passion sparking between them can’t be denied, but neither can the vengeance barreling toward Deacon. When his old squad comes back to punish him for his betrayal, Ana and the Riders are squarely in the line of fire. The only way to save his people may be to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

But first, he has to convince Ana not to follow him straight into hell.

Review

This is the second book in the spinoff of the Beyond series which I haven't read but I did read Ashwin (Gideon's Riders #1) and quite enjoyed it.

Deacon continues where Ashwin left off timewise and gives the reader more details about the life and people in Sector. This is the story of two Riders, Ana and Deacon, coming together and it's passionate, intense, with strong action/suspense elements which made for an exciting and quick read.

While I overall enjoyed it, the story brought into focus some things that I had missed in the first book but which I had hard time with here. 

I admit I loved Ana and thought she is a great heroine - strong, dedicated, a great soldier, committed to the Riders and their mission. Being the only female in the team she is working twice as hard as the the men to prove herself but also putting herself under enormous stress to be perfect, to live as an example for the young girls looking up to her. Following her journey in the story we see her coming to realize that's not possible, she is only human, with human flaws and desires.

Deacon was harder for me to like. He was ready to sacrifice himself for the Riders and the Rios family and he did read as hell-bend on dying at times. I was uncomfortable with this whole living saint/martyr vibe going on through the his arc. I did like the realization that having everyone looking up to you is a double-edged sword and you need room to make mistakes, to be weak, to need comfort and support. 

The story delves deep in the life of the Riders and learn a lot about everyone of them and of their life as team. I liked the sense of camaraderie among all the Riders, their interactions were brilliant, both fun and serious giving the story a rich background and setting up the scene for future books.

What I found troubling was the sense of religious cult/community I got from Sector 1. It's a place where they worship love (and the Rios family) above all and we see multi-partner relationships between people of all genders as the norm. It appears to be all about peace and love and happiness but giving Gideon and his family a God-like status and treating the Riders as martyrs for the safety of their community didn't sit well with me. We do see Gideon trying to bring change and make it all less cult-like, but the blind loyalty to one person/family was still at the core of Sector 1 and it bothered me.

Overall, it's a fast-paced, enjoyable read and I believe fans of the Beyond series will like it, probably more than I did.

Purchase links: Amazon / Apple / Kobo / Barnes & Noble

Queer romance

Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

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Title: Illegal Contact (The Barrons #1)
Author: Santino Hassell
Genre: MM romance, Football
Date of publication: 15 Aug 2017

Author links:
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My rating: 3.5 Stars



Blurb

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 
New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

Review

I admit I was a bit disappointed with Santino Hassell's latest books but was eagerly awaiting this one because I generally enjoy sports romance and was curious what he will do in this subgenre.

Overall, I liked this book. It's a nice, somewhat slower and sweeter romance than his previous books.
While there were a lot of things in it that worked well for, I also had some issues - mainly with some aspects of the writing and some plot points.

Starting with what I think are the best elements of the book. It's an enemies-to-lovers story with a grumpy, seemingly alpha football player and the assistant he is forced to hire for the 6 months of his house arrest. I found the characters rather interesting, flawed, not what they appear on the surface. They started off with some rather snappy, smartass interactions only to move on the somewhat unexpected tenderness once they got together.

At the beginning Gavin fully lived up to his image in the media of a broody, closed off and angry brute. Noah was snappy and feisty in their initial exchanges full of animosity but they gradually brought the best of each other and as they came together we see hidden sides of their characters - they are caring and loving, capable of showing deep affection. I loved seeing Gavn in a new light - he acts like a smitten high schooler and it was very endearing. Noah is a complex character on his own - difficult financial/family situation and some bad experience of mixing business with pleasure made him wary and cautious.

The first part of the story is rather slow moving but I found it useful for introducing the characters, both main and supporting ones and the slow build up reflected realistically to me, the complexity of their situation and all the obstacles before them being together.

And here comes one of my issues with the romance. I'm not generally a fan of office romance, especially between a boss and an employee. It had already happened to Noah and was a painful experience which added to making this a crucial obstacle before them. The forced proximity was ok but Gavin was paying Noah a significant sum to be his assistant and that put them in unequal footing from the start. They do discuss it in detail, but still, I didn't feel quite comfortable with it.

The other thing that I didn't particularly enjoy was the repetitive use of the same jargon Santino Hassell employs in all his books. Despite Noah and Gavin standing on their own as characters, seeing the same phrases used in their speech as his characters from other books made them lose some of their individuality in my mind.

I have to say that for a sports romance we don't see much sport elements and I missed it - the team vibe, the adrenaline of the game (we get that but it's second-hand through watching games, talking about football and the like), the actual interaction with the fans.

Still, I did enjoy the story, the snark and the smartass banter, together with great side characters is more than enough to keep me interested in reading the next in the series.

Purchase links: Penguin | Amazon | BN | kobo | iBooks | Goodreads | Google Play

Author Spotlight

New and Debut: Roe Horvat

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It's New and Debut author spotlight time and I'm excited for you to meet an amazing new author, Roe Horvat who writes queer romance. I came across their debut mm novella, The Layover, following a recommendation by a friend on Twitter. I read it one sitting and I can honestly say it's one of the best books of the year for me so far. Read on to learn more about the author, their future projects. There is also an excerpt from their book at the end which you don't want to miss :)



MEET ROE

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?
There was no decision involved, I swear. I’m very structured and organized as a person, but as a writer, I go where it takes me. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. The first story was about time travel. I’ve been fascinated with adventure and western, sci-fi, you name it. Then one day, I fell in love with one character, and wanted to make him happy. It became intensely emotional and, of course, romantic. And I realized that I enjoyed myself immensely while writing it.

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?
I’m eclectic. Jane Austen, always. Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett. I love Czech authors, because it used to be home, and I’m nostalgic: Too Loud a Solitude from Bohumil Hrabal, anything from Karel Capek, or Milan Kundera. They’re brilliant, read them! When it comes to LGBT+ fiction and romance, I hugely respect Brandon Witt, he’s wonderful. Amy Lane, Heidi Cullinan, Jay Northcote… There are so many great books out there, and life is so damn short!

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?
I listen to people. There isn’t more to it. Listen to their stories, try to understand their motivations, and listen to the voices in my head. There is no greater misfortune for a writer than when the voices in your head grow quiet.

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?
Contemporary romantic fiction. I like it when a story could happen—however unlikely. And I like saving my characters. So, in my world, the good guy always wins.

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.
The Layover has been around for almost a month now. It’s a contemporary MM novella—not the first thing I wrote, but the first that I finished (still a Woot! moment for me). Even though it is a romance, it has certain heavy moments that made it a tough one to write. So, after that, I gave myself a break with a much fluffier story. In September, my second romantic novella is due. Dirty Mind is a lighthearted, and hopefully, a funny story. It’s my take on erotic MM romance. Alex is a university lecturer by day, very proper and decent, and by night he writes gay smut. He becomes attracted to a much younger student, and yeah… he goes through a lot, poor guy (muah ha ha!)


Title: The Layover

Author: Roe Hrovat
Genre: M/M romance, set in Europes, TW: suiside (off page)
Released 19 July 2017, Dreamspinner Press
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Blurb

Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life. The demons proved impossible to outrun, though, and now, desperate for somewhere to belong, Ondro is returning to start over. During a layover in Basel, Switzerland, he meets Jamie, an American living in Scotland who is as brilliant as he is beautiful.
Jaded Ondro never would have guessed he could fall in love during a brief layover—until now. When he is put in a position to offer Jamie comfort without hope of recompense, Ondro doesn’t hesitate. Soon, he catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings would only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either.

Buy links: Amazon / Dreamspinner PressKobo / 


Author Bio and Links


Queer author, storyteller & graphic designer
Roe was born in former Czechoslovakia and endured a miserable adolescence in the post-communist wasteland. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, they left for Germany and later, Spain.
Finally, they settled in Sweden, where the weather is nasty but the freedom great. Roe works as a motion graphics artist, loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams and everything in between, preferably by the fireplace with a strawberry daiquiri in hand. Roe writes contemporary romantic fiction – it conveniently balances out their real-life pragmatism.
When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

Facebook / Website / Twitter (Sorry, I’m almost never there!) 


Excerpt

He looked half-dead. I sat up as well and kissed his neck. Leaning back, he rested his head on my shoulder.

Shit.

It was going to hurt. I could feel it coming. Like a stirring in those depths of my brain that haven’t been touched in years. Why the fuck now? Just because it was impossible? Weirdly, a part of me was trying to sabotage the rest. Conflicted was not a correct enough word to describe it. I felt utterly overthrown. My life had decided to demote me. I was a helpless observer while everything I was supposed to have under control just rushed ahead into the unknown chaos dragging my banged up body behind. I held Jamie closer.

“How can I be this hungover when I wasn’t even properly drunk? That’s unfair,” he complained, his eyes closed, and his nose was skimming my jaw.

I didn’t answer. My throat closed up, and I couldn’t speak. He didn’t treat me like a hookup. He behaved and moved as if he trusted me, as if he knew me. Our bodies interacted as if we’d been lovers for years. I couldn’t make myself draw the line either. I kissed his forehead instead.

I could pretend that we were just going to pack our things, take a taxi to the airport together, and get on a plane somewhere, whine about the food and airplane coffee together. We would come home tired, into a small, cluttered apartment that had blurry contours in my imagination. An actual home. We would heat some frozen pizza and cuddle on a sofa watching old episodes of Red Dwarf until he would fall asleep in my arms again.

He scrambled to the edge of the bed and stood, swaying a little. I reached out to steady him.

“Fuck, it’s cold in here,” he complained.

He had goose bumps on his arms. I couldn’t watch him get dressed without feeling embarrassingly desolate. So I turned away, fumbling with my boxer briefs and shirt.

I dressed and packed the few random items I didn’t put in the bag yesterday. I caught my reflection in the narrow mirror on the other side of the door and started. I watched the stranger in the mirror, still bent over my suitcase. He was looking back at me with fearful eyes and parted lips. He looked like someone I used to know. I frowned at the thought and immediately recognized myself again. There, that frown, that was me.

I double-checked my tickets and the location of my passport routinely and went to join Jamie in the bathroom.

The door was open, and Jamie stood there, looking very poorly. He held on to the sink, his head bent like he was going to be sick.

“Hey, are you okay?”

“I don’t know. I probably only need caffeine.”

I stroked his shoulders and arms up and down. He turned and leaned into me, and I hugged him tight. We stood like that for a minute until he took a step back, and I dropped my arms.

“I’ll meet you downstairs in fifteen, okay?” he said, not looking at me.

“Yes.”

He nodded, staring at his feet, and with a deep sigh he turned away. I had to close my eyes. I was so close to crying it was ridiculous. How the hell did I get here?

The door to the small room closed with a soft click.

I peed, shaved, brushed my teeth, and splashed a lot of cold water on my face. When that didn’t help, I took a cold shower.

I looked at the man in the mirror again, the man I used to know. I’ll be fine. I always am.



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