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': 

2016 Release: Common Sense by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Common Sense - In Business & Life
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-061-6
eBook: 978-1-78645-062-3
Category: Non-Fiction
Genre: Business

BLURB:
Common sense is like great music, mesmerizing art or funny jokes: difficult to pinpoint but we all recognize it when we see it. In this book, Hans M Hirschi explores the concept of common sense, through philosophy, reflection, and practice.

Using his thorough experience from business and management from all corners of the world, Hans demonstrates that 'common sense' is not as common as you might think. What is regarded as common sense in Sweden isn't necessarily true in China, Tunisia or Brazil. He uses clear examples to provide insight into cultural differences that affect the world of business as well as everyday life.

This second edition, completely re-edited and with a new chapter on Talent Management, will help you use your common sense all over the world - in business and in life.

REVIEW:
I can't really add to what it says in the blurb, because this book does exactly as it says. I enjoyed it more than I expected (I read fiction for fun, non-fiction for academic work), particularly as the few business books I've glanced over in the past have been full of buzz-BS about blue skies and flag poles and forward planning and so on, ad nauseam.

Common Sense - In Business & Life is nothing like that, with its relatively informal style, down-to-earth examples and research-based analysis. The academic part of me twitched a little at the author's decision to not include reference to his sources, but he does extend an open invitation to readers to engage him in discussion.

All in all, whilst this is not a book I would choose to read, I'm pleased I had the opportunity to do so and imagine middle managers in particular will find familiar scenarios and positive ideas for their own work situation.

Buy 'Common Sense - In Business & Life': 

2016 Release: Of The Bauble by Debbie McGowan

Title: Of The Bauble
Author: Debbie McGowan
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: eBook: 978 1 78645 106 4
Paperback: 978 1 78645 110 1
ASIN: B01N3KJIVH
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Holidays and Celebrations

BLURB:
When nineteen-year-old Kieran O'Sullivan takes a trip to the attic for the Christmas decorations, it proves to be an illuminating experience.

Box includes:
- a hapless but not altogether helpless student
- a pedantic supernatural being (or two, or...well, quite a few)
- a funky older sister
- the coolest mum in the world
- a naughty rescue bunny and her easily led feline sidekick
- an insightful ex-girlfriend
- twinkle lights
- tinsel
- baubles

* Warning - may contain traces of magic and a smidgeon of social commentary (hey, it's a book by Debbie McGowan - did you expect anything else?) *

Of the Bauble is a young adult, biromantic/non-binary fantasy romance.

REVIEW:
(proofreader's review)
So I've just finished reading the book for the second time (one of the perks of being a proofreader), yet I'm still wishing there was more, because it's that good!
If nothing else is going to need my immediate intention, I'll happily read it a third time...

Yes, there's magic, and romance, and Christmassy things, yet there's so much more as well!
It's very clever for a start; I kept thinking 'how is Deb going to pull this one off?', knowing that she would do it brilliantly, but not quite seeing how she could.
It's that suspense that's one of the things that make the story stand out from the usual Christmas fare. Another aspect is the loveable and very real characters, including some non-human ones. It may also have made me shed a few tears along the way, but I'm not admitting that publicly...

And about the non-binary aspect: much as I love Alpha male/Alpha male stories, in this case having a GQ character only adds to the mystery aspect of the story.

So what else can I say? It's really hard to do the story justice without spoilers; words are poor... ;-)

Buy 'Of The Bauble': 

2016 Release: Hammer's Thief by Alexis Woods

Title: Hammer's Thief
Author: Alexis Woods
Language: English
Published: 1st December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-100-2
eBook: 978-1-78645-101-9
ASIN: B01MPZYC2E
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Holidays and Celebrations

BLURB:
Eight nights to fall in love.

Running away from his foster home at eighteen, Locke struggles to survive the brutal winter streets in Atlantic City. Trust is a fickle thing, and Locke hasn't had much of it. He's worked hard for everything he has. When a helpful security guard takes him in during a Code Blue, Locke discovers that some things are more than they seem. His fantasy becomes reality, but sometimes reality is too good to be true.

Graced by God, Judah Maccabee has dwelt in Yahweh's kingdom for nigh on two thousand years, rising through His ranks to become a leader among the warrior angels. A blessing bestowed, Yahweh has found the one for him. Now Judah has only the eight nights of Chanukah to fall in love with the one who will complete him. The only catch - his other half must love him in return if he is to stay earthbound. But expecting Locke to fall just as hard and fast as he does rebounds in a devastating way.

When egos rule and demons lurk, can these two men pull together, trust in family and faith, and earn love? And can they do it in a single week?

REVIEW:
This is the second story that is part of Chosen Angels, the first being Lion's Hero, which is part of Boughs of Evergreen anthology. The stories are fully stand-alone, but of the same canon, and the characters from Lion's Hero appear in Hammer's Thief, so it would be worth reading Lion's Hero as well (and possibly before Hammer's Thief).

This is perhaps a little more 'typical MM romance' than I would normally read, but it is beautifully written, and the fantasy adventure than runs alongside the romance is great. I really liked Locke, and Judah to a lesser extent, but my favourite 'character' is Yahweh - portrayed as a truly loving father with a sense of humour.

Alexis Woods has a very smooth writing style and a great way with words, and having read pretty much every story she's written, to my mind, she excels at fantasy/romance.

Buy 'Hammer's Thief':