Saturday, 15 April 2017

New Release: Love of the Game by Phetra H. Novak

Title: Love of the Game
Author: Phetra H. Novak
Language: English
Published: 15th April, 2017
Length:100,000 words (320 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978 1 78645 123 1
eBook: 978 1 78645 124 8
ASIN: B06XB72PVZ
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, BDSM, Adult
URL: beatentrackpublishing.com/loveofthegame

Blurb:
Johannes is starting his new life as a rookie in the best hockey league in the world, the NHL. His new home for the next four years is Montreal, Canada, and he's excited to get to his destination when a storm arrives, stranding him in Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France.

In the airport lounge, he tries to amuse himself the best he can. He's nursing a lukewarm beer, and about to head back to join his parents at their table, when the most gorgeous man he's ever seen, with piercing green eyes, buys him a drink. He swears he has never been so instantly turned on as he is in that moment. The man flirts openly with him, making no secret of what he wants from Johannes as he invites him to meet in private. Not being out only makes Johannes hesitate for a moment before accepting the beautiful stranger's come-on.

Charlie, a cocky and opinionated, ex-submissive and reporter is leaving Paris after being on vacation when the studly jock just happens to appear out of nowhere - served on a silver platter. Charlie sees no reason to deny himself a last rendezvous before he gets on his plane back to Canada.

What he doesn't expect is this stranger to see the real him. Charlie's normal plan of attack is to take charge. But when it backfires, and the studly stranger not only takes control but makes him want more, Charlie does the only thing he feel comfortable doing. He runs!

Editor's Review:
Love of the Game is a romance with strong D/s elements, although there is little in the way of what I've found in other D/s romances I've read. I haven't read many, I'll be honest, because pain is so not my thing, and whilst D/s relationships do not necessarily involve physical pain, it is almost always a feature of those relationships when portrayed in fiction. So, fair warning: there's a chapter that involves spanking (which I found surprisingly funny/sexy), and there's reference to a previous Master/slave relationship that was abusive (some readers may find this a tough one to deal with), but the romance plot itself is NOT D/s. Rather, it is about establishing trust and mutual respect. And love, of course.

Johannes is a Swedish ice hockey player who's secured a place on a top Canadian team; Charlie is a Canadian journalist with a sensational past. When the two of them hook up in Charles de Gaulle airport, it's passionate and feisty, because Charlie is...well, he's a pain in the ass, at first. This hookup is the opening to the book, and there are a couple of explicit scenes later on, but the book isn't heavy on the sex side. Mostly, this is the story of how Johannes and Charlie negotiate a relationship around Johannes' status as a sports star and Charlie's aggressive rejection of even the possibility of love.

The author is a huge fan of ice hockey and really knows her stuff, although there's only one game that takes place on page, juxtaposed against action elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed the switching between Johannes and Charlie in this part of the story, as it also gives insight into Charlie's relationship with his best friends - Marc and Luc - who are in a long-term D/s relationship and they're open about it. Marc - the Dom - constantly comes across as a caring and compassionate man; Luc, meanwhile, is passionate and dramatic, and his love for Charlie shines through.

My favourite chapter takes place in the locker room, with Johannes and his lineup. There is some sexist banter in this scene, which is authentic to context and should not be read as the author's views. That's not why I like it, I hasten to add. I just love the sense of camaraderie, plus some of the other characters are very colourful and certainly deserving of their own story (this is book one of a series, so...). I particularly love Andrew and Sergei (although they seem unlikely 'couple' material).

This contemporary M/M romance ticks the enemies-to-lovers, hurt/comfort and HEA boxes, but it's distinct in its Swedish cultural heritage, the strength of the secondary characters and thoughtful exploration of an embryonic D/s relationship.

Friday, 14 April 2017

New Release: Last Dance of The Sugar Plum by Claire Davis and Al Stewart



Author: Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Language: English
Published: 14th April, 2017
Length: 45,000 words (170 pages) approx.
Publisher: Beaten Track
eBook ISBN: eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 131 6
eBook ASIN: B06Y1TK4ZV
Category: Fiction
Genre: Crime, Thrillers and Mystery, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships
URL: http://www. beatentrackpublishing.com/sugarplum

Blurb:
Available on Kindle Unlimited

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Jonathan is a spy.

Anton is Jonathan's 'keeper'.

Jonathan is a spy with a code implanted deep in his subconscious, so deeply he can't remember - anything at all.

Anton is an interrogator intent on retrieving the code, whatever the cost.

But sometimes they dream of dark tunnels and locked-up rooms, and then they both scream.

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Along comes Harry, who seems to have all the answers...but who is he, and which side is he on?

TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK

Bang!

For many months, Jonathan and Anton live apart from the world in a hazy, dreamlike state, only interrupted by interrogations and a healthy fear of HQ. One day, they watch a dance performance, and memories begin to unwind... A ticking clock... Betrayal... Missions... Always the scent of oranges. But with clarity, comes a return of powerful emotions...

Last Dance of The Sugar Plum is an exciting spy thriller with as many twists and turns as a maze.

Editor's Review:
Last Dance of The Sugar Plum is the longest and cleverest (so far) of Claire Davis and Al Stewart's stories. It's about...well. Here's what I've noticed in the advance reviews: no one is quite sure what it's about. Yes, there's a love story element, and if you're a romance reader, you'll find there's enough of a happy ending to satisfy your mushy side. But it's not a romance. Given how love develops in the story, it's not exactly conducive to a light-hearted romp between the sheets. But there's certainly love and a few spicy moments.

There's also intrigue, and this is where the cleverness resides. I'd contend Sugar Plum is literary fiction, because it's underpinned by strong themes and draws on many literary devices. It can also be read and understood on many different levels. For instance, I can see an overarching metaphor related to lack of control/being controlled by outside forces. There's the more obvious stripping of identity that comes from being assigned a number, and so many other potential ways to read this story that I could go on forever, but I don't want to shape other readers' perceptions.

Lastly, there's a good deal of humour - some of it blatant and 'in your face', much of it subtle. It's the kind of dark humour viewers of British alternative comedy will definitely appreciate (think Little Britain or League of Gentlemen).

It's an almost-impossible-to-review story, and all I can suggest is reading it for yourself. You'll see what I mean. Or will you?

Buy 'Last Dance of The Sugar Plum':
Amazon [Kindle edition]

Thursday, 6 April 2017

New Releases: Last Winter's Snow by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Last Winter's Snow
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 6th April, 2017
Length: 69,000 words (232 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 9781786451217
eBook ISBN: 9781786451224
ASIN: B06XMQJMD3
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, History, Romance and Relationships, Political

Blurb:
This is the story of Nilas and how he navigates life, trying to reconcile being gay as well as being Sami. Set over several decades, we follow Nilas and his Swedish husband Casper, as they build a life amid the shallows of bigotry, discrimination, and the onset of the AIDS crisis.

Last Winter's Snow portrays recent LGBT history from a Swedish perspective, from the days when being gay was considered a 'mental disorder' to today's modern anti-discrimination legislation and the move toward equality. It's also the story of one couple and the ups and downs of everyday life in the face of changing rules and attitudes toward them and their relationship.

Last, not least, it's a book that celebrates the rich history and culture of the Sami and their land, Sápmi, as well as their ongoing struggle to achieve recognition and win back the right to self-determination over lands they've lived on for thousands of years.

Last Winter's Snow is Hans M Hirschi's first novel set almost entirely in Sweden, but it is the second time (after Fallen Angels of Karnataka) he takes his readers on a journey into the mountainous regions of Scandinavia in one of his acclaimed novels.

Editor's Review:
Last Winter's Snow is (for me) Hans M Hirschi's best novel to date, not because it is a wonderful love story (which it is), or because the characters are believable (they are), but because it's socially, culturally and politically important.

It's also the one I've enjoyed most, and I've spent quite some time trying to figure out why. I've read a lot of light fantasy as a means of escape, and I still like those kinds of books (and movies), where there is a clear disconnection from reality. It's pure escapism, and it has its place. There's no emotional impact, although that's also true of a lot of contemporary fiction.

Last Winter's Snow is no ordinary contemporary fiction. It's grounded in real cultural history - a history we are in danger of forgetting, and we MUST not forget.

I love the internet. I really do. I love having a camera on my phone, the ability to send letters to people without having to remember to take them to the post box, being able to communicate with my family and friends on a regular (though remote) basis. It's changed our lives for the better in so many ways, but it's not without its limitations and pitfalls. Social network newsfeeds move so fast we lose sight of what happened only moments ago, and we expect everything now-now-now. We choose who to follow, and we choose people like us, skewing our world view. Our photos, once lovingly stuck into hardcover albums and passed on as heirlooms, now exist in virtual folders in 'the cloud'.

Moreover, we lose sight of what happened in the very recent past. In democratic societies, laws are constantly made and remade. The rights we've fought hard to secure are, in fact, never secure. The rapid pace of modern life obscures how hard we fought, and what it was like before - what it could be like again if we don't keep fighting and remain ever vigilant.

This is why books like Last Winter's Snow are so vital. Whilst Nilas and Casper are the product of the author's imagination, their story is a reality that is lived by many. It is a love story - of two men, and of Sápmi - but it is so much more. It is a document of historical significance, a permanent record to survive these transient times.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

New Releases: Once in the Underworld and Just Words by Ofelia Gränd



Title: Once in the Underworld
Author: Ofelia Gränd
Language: English
Published: 14th March, 2017
Length: 31,500 words (135 pages) approx.
Publisher: Beaten Track
ISBN: 978 1 78645 119 4
ASIN: B01MUGNF8O
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, Adult

Blurb:
Chris Hart owns the only grocery shop in Nortown, but he isn't exactly overrun by customers. Some days he wonders why he bothers to open the doors at all. Spending his days smiling at the few people that do trickle in and his nights alone in bed isn't the most interesting life a man could lead. But when Chris suddenly gets the excitement he's been craving, it may just be more than he bargained for.

Gabriel Miller loves his life. He's close to his sister, has a job he adores and is the proud owner of one and a half cats. But all of it is taken away when he witnesses a murder and, to keep him safe, the police place him in Nortown, of all possible locations.

Chris can't believe they're letting someone live in his gran's old cabin in the middle of the winter; it's too cold. When the poor man shows up in his shop looking to buy clothes, Chris's heart melts, despite the freezing temperature. Gabriel notices the way the shopkeeper looks at him, but it can't be right. No one looks at a heavyset man with heat in their eyes. Do they?

When the danger follows Gabe to Nortown, it's more than their chance at happiness that is threatened, and Chris and Gabe find themselves fighting just to stay alive.


Editor's Review:
Once in the Underworld is Book Four in Ofelia's Nortown series, and with each new instalment, she cranks it up a notch. For, whilst the series is intentionally an exploration of some of the main tropes in MM Romance, there is far more to it than that. In fact, aside from the overarching trope (on this occasion Fish out of Water, Beautiful all along - according to the author), there is a great deal of depth to the world and the characters which Ofelia has created.

The series is set in the remote (fictional) town of Nortown, which is in a forest and appears to have fairly inclement weather (on the chilly side). Needless to say, in a town like this, lumberjacking is the main form of employment, and most of our chaps are self-employed lumberjacks, plus their non-lumberjack love interests.

This time, we have two non-lumberjacks making a go of things, but I have to wonder...who will chop the wood? :o

First, there's Chris, who runs the local (and only) shop in town. He's a bi guy with a big heart. I actually love his exclamation of 'My God!' He just feels like an all-round good guy, and he's fiercely protective, but in a different way to Tristan (Once in a Snowstorm), Tom (Once in a Forest) and Zachary (Once in May). If the Nortown LGBT men were wolves, Chris would be the beta. But that's another trope for another story (and we've yet to meet the L and T folks of Nortown, not that I'm trying to put ideas in the author's head at all).

Then there's Gabriel. Gosh, he's so lovely! Well, he's an animal lover, so I may be a tiny bit biased, but he's just altogether humble, introvert and a bit lacking in confidence, not least because he's very conscious of his size. He's not a Nortown native, but ends up in 'a safe house' there after he witnesses a murder. Of course. Where else would he end up?

So, what's in your checked-cloth-covered package in this instalment?

- a good ole romance with sexy times
- a bit of crime thriller
- a sprinkling of the usual humour (Aiden's seat belt moment, Gabriel's observation - 'So there was a gay couple in Nortown.')
- excellent writing
- an amazing setting
- an all-round great read
- a happily ever after


* * * * *

Title: Just Words
Author: Ofelia Gränd
Language: English
Published: 14th March, 2017
Length: 6,400 words (32 pages) approx.
Publisher: Beaten Track
ISBN: ISBN: 978 1 78645 120 0
ASIN: B01N7Y6D46
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, Short Stories, Adult

Blurb:
Aiden leaves the security of his massage studio behind to rush into the woods when he hears Tristan has gone after some gun-carrying idiots from the city. He can't believe Tristan is willing to risk his life for some stranger.

What will Aiden do if Tristan is killed? He must stop him before it's too late. He can't lose Tristan. And neither gun-waving lunatics nor the frost-covered roads surrounding Nortown will keep him from getting his boyfriend to safety.


Editor's Review:
Just Words is another mini-instalment of the saga that is Tristan and Aiden's relationship. It starts where Once in the Underworld leaves off, so it's best read after that story because of spoilers.

Readers of the Nortown series will know by now that the Tristan/Aiden shorts are pure filth. Each one has Tristan wielding his axe and Aiden yelling 'cleave me' (or something), but Just Words...it's something else.

I suppose it's still a trope, in the sense that this is our 'established couple', but the best thing about that is getting to see the couple get to know each other, learn how to communicate and work through their hangups.

What that means is there's some incredibly intense dialogue in Just Words and a few loose ends resulting from it that I know Ofelia will return to, but I like that not all the answers are known.

Aiden is my second to least favourite character in the Nortown series (Jason holds the crown), and I really enjoyed watching another layer of his defensiveness peel back under Tristan's big, rough lumberjack hands.


* * * * *

Monday, 13 February 2017

Love Unlocked Book Birthday!

Our LGBTQIA anthology, Love Unlocked, is one year old today!

To celebrate, we've got a few giveaways for you, which you can find on these authors' blogs:

* * *

Love Unlocked is a collection of seven short stories and novellas - unique LGBTQ romances inspired by the Love Lock Bridge.

THE STORIES:
The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Writer's Lock by Victoria Milne
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister
The Weekend by J P Walker
The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter
He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd
Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan


Available as a paperback and ebook. Stories can also be purchased individually.

* * *

THE TRAP by CLAIRE DAVIS AND AL STEWART

New job - sexy boss - fate - Art...

When Sal attends an open exam for an apprentice artist to work alongside the infamous Matthew Picard, the last thing he expects is to be the winner. But then his role is revealed and nothing is ever the same again. As he toils day and night on the unique sculpture, strange sensations begin to affect both him and the watching master artist.

Matthew Picard thought he was through with men and love. What he wanted was for Sal to help him create one final monstrous masterpiece - The Trap.

But as he observes his young apprentice, his focus shifts, and so do the very walls of the gallery.

Is it the beauty of art, or something more magical at work?

As the sculpture is created, a power is unlocked.

Can love save them, or will they be trapped forever?

* * *

WRITER'S LOCK by VICTORIA MILNE

Spending a month in Paris to write his romance novel had seemed like the perfect plan, but one week in, Phil Pearson is suffering from a severe case of writer's block. With barely a word written, he's fed up and ready to cut his trip short.

When Laurent Marceau sees Phil in his café, it sends him hurtling into the past, opening old wounds and reminding him of the love he lost. But, after watching the aspiring writer struggle for inspiration, he surprises himself by offering to show him Paris through the eyes of a true Parisian.

Finally bursting with ideas, Phil is delighted to put pen to paper, albeit badly at first. As the writer finds himself falling in love for the first time, Laurent knows he needs to decide quickly if he's strong enough to return his affections, or whether it would be better for them both if he walked away. He knows he may not have a choice, once Phil finds out the truth.


* * *

LOCKED IN THE MOMENT by DAWN SISTER

Due to a misunderstanding, the troll that lives underneath one of the most romantic bridges in Paris inadvertently unlocks every single padlock lovers have left there over the years. L'Authoritié de Fée Folklorique are up in arms. He has no idea what all the fuss is about. The noise was driving him mad. He just wanted a bit of peace and quiet.

A spell is cast, leaving the troll in a bit of a predicament. He is charged with the seemingly impossible task of fixing the locks before the spell can be reversed and he is allowed to return to his home. There are other complications, the least of which is the insistence and persistence of a fairy who is determined to help him against the wishes of his own people.

Now the troll has a dilemma. What is more important to him? The only home he has known for two thousand years, or a fairy he has just met?


* * *

THE WEEKEND by J P WALKER

Nat's been through a rough breakup and trust does not come easily. When she accompanies a group of friends to Paris for a hen weekend, she finds a connection she wasn't looking for, in the form of beautiful, passionate Morgan. They quickly fall into a wonderful weekend fling and even engrave their initials into a lock and attach it to the most romantic bridge in the world, Love Lock Bridge.

But was that weekend fling all there was, or will news of the bridge being taken down lead to something more?

* * *

THE SCARLET LOCK by CARAWAY CARTER

Brandon Marshall, in Paris for his twin sister's wedding, has a fling before the big day. At the end of a whirlwind week of discovering each other, Brandon and his lover place a scarlet lock on the Love Lock Bridge.

Follow Brandon through six years of letters - to the citizens of Paris, on everything from how to make love, to eating passionate fruit - and to the lover, who is now his brother-in-law.

The locks are being removed, the bridge refitted... What will be the fate of The Scarlet Lock?

* * *

HE MELTED US by OFELIA GRÄND

All Delron wants is to live his life with Phillipe, but when their love lock is stolen from Pont des Art, their relationship is in jeopardy. Without the lock holding them together, Delron is convinced they'll crash and burn. The only way he can save their relationship is to find the stolen lock, and that is just what he plans to do, no matter what.

Phillipe loves Delron, he really does, but it's driving him insane that Delron can't see that a padlock is simply a piece of metal. The lock has nothing to do with them, not really. Up until the night the lock was stolen, their life was great, but Del's crazy behaviour has Phillipe wondering if he has ever really known his boyfriend.

Delron's search leads him through art-filled Paris, but will a symbol of love ever be enough to soothe the mistrust his quest has planted in Phillipe? Phillipe always thought he'd spend the rest of his life with Del, but who can live with anyone willing to break the law just to find a padlock when they can buy a new one in just about any shop?


* * *

CHAIN OF SECRETS by DEBBIE MCGOWAN

Josh and George have always shared the special bond of friendship. From days in primary school, to holidays spent riding their bikes along the canal, theirs is a promise to remain best friends forever.

But can that promise withstand the trials of adolescence, and the changes in their feelings towards each other?

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Release: Glitter Gabe by Alex C. Clarke

Title: Glitter Gabe (English Edition) (Glitter Series Book One)
Author: Alex C. Clarke
Language: English
Published: 19th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 9781786450869
eBook ISBN: 9781786450876
ASIN: B01MU1JRG6
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Adult

BLURB:
Two lonely souls who grew apart are trying to make their lost love shine again.

Gabriel and Xabi first met when they were teenagers. Gabe was already openly gay whereas Xabi doubted he'd ever come out. Life isn't always simple at such a troubled age, especially when you have a strong personality.

Ten years after their first encounter, life offers them a second chance. Will Xabi manage to make his Glitter Gabe shine again? Will Gabriel give Xabi the opportunity to prove he's changed?

Discover their love story through the landscapes of the Basque countryside and Paris.

REVIEW:
Alex C. Clarke is an incredibly talented author. Not only did she write this book in its original French (her native language), but she also wrote the translation, and her English is excellent. It has a distinct French accent and not because of the characters and settings. There are descriptions and phrases that, when translated into English, create a wholly different feeling to the same words in the order native English speakers expect.

As editor, I endeavoured to keep those linguistic nuances. Well, if I'm honest, Gabriel gave me no choice. He's a strong character and his voice is distinct. I also enjoyed learning a little about Basque culture, of which I knew nothing at all.

It's difficult to say much more without spoiling the story (I try not to go beyond what the author offers in their blurb), but what I can say is Gabriel and Xabi won me over, even if, at times, I wanted to shake some sense into them both. That kind of characterisation, where I feel real emotions (even the negative ones), is for me the mark of an excellent story. Better still, there is a translation of book two, Fabulous Fabiola, already in progress.

Buy 'Glitter Gabe (English Edition) (Glitter Series Book One)': 

2016 Release: Take A Chance Anthology

Title: Take A Chance Anthology: A Collection of Gay Romance for New Adults
Author: Chase Potter, J.A. Rock, Jamie Deacon, Kelley York, Dee Aditya, Lynn Michaels, Eric Gober, Elinor Gray, Debbie McGowan, Kari Jo Spear, Melissa E Costa, Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78645-111-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78645-112-5
ASIN: B01MRT5FHZ
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction, New Adult

BLURB:
A single moment can change everything.

A university student preparing to confront the adolescent crush who betrayed him. A demon embroiled in a battle against his very nature. A soldier, mentally scarred after fighting in The Great War, torn between propriety and his heart. Though separated by time and distance, culture and reality, these young men all have one thing in common: they each stand at a crossroads in their life and face a choice that will alter the course of their future.

The twelve tales in this collection of gay romantic fiction range from sweet to erotic, contemporary to historical, paranormal to grittily realistic. Whether centred around the fear associated with coming out, the thorny issue of trust, or the struggle for survival, each story explores in its own way the courage needed to overcome personal obstacles and take a chance on love.

STORIES:
Reflections by Chase Potter
Stranger Than Stars by J.A. Rock
Another Story by Jamie Deacon
Howl by Kelley York
A Boy Named Khwahish by Dee Aditya
Want you Bad by Lynn Michaels
Far From Texas by Eric Gober
The Right Words by Elinor Gray
Class-A by Debbie McGowan
Lockdown by Kari Jo Spear
Dream Infected by Melissa E Costa
Cheese and Pickle by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

REVIEW:
The best thing about working on Take A Chance was that I didn't edit it! Hurrah! Don't misunderstand; I love my work, but the reason I'm a publisher is my love of books and reading. By the time I got to these stories, they were already well-polished, making for an experience akin to reading for pleasure.

Thus, I must congratulate Jamie Deacon, Sherri Jordan Asble and all of the authors for the excellent work they put in to writing and editing these stories. The result is twelve short reads that - whilst themed around 'taking a chance' - are all very different from one another. They are all wonderful!

Buy 'Take A Chance Anthology: A Collection of Gay Romance for New Adults':