Legacy of Luck by Christy Nicholas


Legacy of Luck by Christy Nicholas
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (295 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Rose

Irish Traveler Éamonn loves gambling, women, and drinking, not necessarily in that order. But he’s entangled in a true mess when he falls for fiery redhead, Katie. When she’s married to a Scottish Traveler, Éamonn travels to Scotland to find her, with the help of Katie’s sister and cousin, and the magical brooch gifted by his father. Their quest takes them across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Skye, encountering war, betrayal, death. In the end, Éamonn must make his own luck.

This is listed as the third book in the series, but can easily be read as a standalone. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for all things Irish and this book does not disappoint in that area.

The story centers around Éamonn and Katie—Irish Travelers who meet each other at a horse trading fair and fall in love. The story is very plot-driven and I could see it very well as a movie. In fact, reading the book was a lot like watching a movie. There was a bit of separation between this reader and the book itself. It was a good story, but I didn’t feel drawn into the book in a way that I felt part of the story itself.

It has romantic elements, but does not classify as a romance because the story is not about the relationship between Éamonn and Katie, but instead around the quest of Éamonn to find and rescue her after her father marries her off to another man.

The story is part of the Druid’s Brooch series, but the brooch itself is given only a passing mention—however, the gift that Éamonn is given by the fae does help in, but also almost gets him killed, so like any fae-given gift, should be handled lightly. I would have liked to have delved a little more deeply into this aspect of the story.

This was a light, easy read and I enjoyed it enough that I’ll be looking for the other two books in the series. There was a lot of information about the Irish and Scottish Travelers that I didn’t know before and really appreciated the research the author did into this period of Irish history.

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Crushes by Jessica Lauryn – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jessica Lauryn whose second book in her Rabourn Theater series, An Amorous Dance was released last month. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of the first book in the series A Passionate Play.

Always a romantic at heart, I experienced a number of crushes as I was growing up, beginning in grade school and continuing on into my adult years. Each and every time that I fell for someone new I believed that, this time, I was really, truly in love. My heart would flutter when that handsome guy I was secretly pining for would come by, smile in my direction, talk to me, flirt with me, make me feel as though I was the only woman in his world. When I began to explore the world of romance novels, I realized I was not unlike the heroine who falls for the man in her life—sometimes right for her, sometimes wrong—but always in close proximity, a most important part of her world. Living such experiences made them authentic for me and reading about them made me see just how powerful that feelings can become when characters know one another for a long time, their whole lives perhaps, harboring feelings that hold the ability to forever change the course of their relationship, for worse, for better, for happily ever after.

None of my own crushes ever became the real thing. But I spent so much time wondering if they could that the creative side of my imagination often took the liberty of creating scenarios—stories in which such possibilities took an idealistic turn, after a great amount of effort and strife, of course. Years later, I wrote stories like as An Amorous Dance, (a second-chance romance) with this very idea in mind, the idea that feelings deepen over time, that love is strong between two people who’ve known and cared about one another for as long as they can remember. Sometimes characters don’t even realize they’re in love. But we the reader can see what they cannot and when the moment comes when feelings can no longer be denied, we are right there, crying, and cheering right along with them!

I’ve read, and written, a number of stories in which a hero and heroine are meeting for the first time, in which there’s love that comes at first sight, in which there is an instant connection. But there’s something very special about couples who share a past. The past connects us and it makes us who we are. And when characters grow together, they grow together in love, and that is a love that never dies!

When Hannah Rabourn, daughter of Rabourn Theater’s late owner, is attacked, a surge of flashes prompts her to consider that her father may have been murdered. Hannah’s antagonistic stage director insists her subconscious is merely seeking closure. But as she and Evan become close once again, Hannah’s suspicions about the past deepen, and she wonders whether the man she’s falling in love with for the second time knows more than he’s letting on.

Evan Masters’s dreams were shattered when theater-owner Baron Rabourn destroyed his budding acting career. Having forged an alliance with Rabourn’s former partner, Evan assumed a mission to transform Rabourn Theater into what it always should have been. Fellow conspirators believe Rabourn’s daughter is the key to power, and Evan is the means by which to achieve their ends.

But Evan’s feelings for Hannah are stronger than he believed. And when he realizes Hannah’s life is in danger, he must decide between his passion and his heart.

About the Author:Jessica Lauryn is the author of the bestselling romantic suspense series, The Pinnacles of Power. The Romance Reviews says that her debut release, Dangerous Ally, has, “All the twists that a good suspense should have with just the right amount of passion and romance!” Jessica is a proud member of Romance Writers of America as well as her local chapter, New Jersey Romance Writers, for which she has served on the executive board in several capacities. She has a talent for remembering her dreams, many of which are explored in detail in her stories. Though she resides in central New Jersey, her heart will forever belong to the picturesque White Mountains of northern New Hampshire.

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Buy the book at Bookstrand.

Cross My Heart by Catt Ford – Spotlight and Giveaway


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Catt Ford, who is celebrating the recent release of her newest book Cross My Heart.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Roland Reynolds—or Lana Renault, as she’s now known—knows that life is no fairy tale. Fortunately she has her trusted friends, nicknamed the “the dwarfs,” to keep her company. She lives her life to the fullest while keeping what’s beneath her skirt to herself.

American painter Daniel Hunter is no stranger to adversity either, and it’s left him with not only strength but secrets. Unlike Lana, he remains aloof, content to observe life and beauty from the sidelines… until the first time their eyes meet on a crowded Paris street.

Cupid’s arrow finds its mark in Daniel, but while Lana longs for romance, she knows there’s no prince in her happy ever after. If their story is to have a fairy-tale ending, Daniel will have to convince Lana to let down her walls—and, in the process, reveal what he fears sharing the most.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Daniel took great pleasure in watching people, even though hope was dying for finding the one to inspire him to paint again.

Until he saw her.

The first time, her confident stride caught his eye. Attracted by her long legs and perfect derriere, he followed along in a desultory way until he lost sight of her in the crowd.

She must live or work somewhere near his arrondissement, because he kept spotting her. Daniel hadn’t seen her face yet, but he admired her figure and the way she dressed. Like most Parisian women, she had that street-chic thing down. While her clothes were simple, they fit exceptionally well.

She probably wasn’t avoiding him purposely; it was simply one of those frustrating quirks of fate that she always seemed to vanish before he caught up. She couldn’t possibly know how much he wanted to see her face.

The colorful scarf she usually wore helped draw Daniel’s attention to her. Her hair wasn’t tortured to stick straightness. Instead, dark waves danced in the temperamental spring breeze as she moved, her stride long and energetic. Maybe the sun dazzled his eyes, but he thought he caught a glint of purple highlights. If only he could get close enough to check without alarming her.

Some might call him a stalker or obsessive, but ever since… it… happened, Daniel preferred not to get too close to his fellow beings. Watching them from afar was sufficient.

Even Daniel wasn’t sure exactly what he was searching for, but he hoped he’d know it when he saw it. Purely physical beauty did not satisfy him. He wanted something more, a quirk of personality or a hint of the inner spirit. Even a crooked smile might do the trick.

Ironically, now that Daniel had enough money to be able to paint anything he wanted, his muse had deserted him. If only he could catch up with this girl and she sparked his fancy, Daniel was sure he would be able to paint again. If he could convince her to sit for him.

Today she carried a large, flat portfolio, and the breeze lifted it like a sail, pulling her quickly along the pavement. Daniel tried to work his way through the throng of people without stepping on toes or elbowing ribs to get close enough for a good look. She laughed to herself as she turned to wrestle the errant portfolio back under control. For one breathless moment, the world stood still and their eyes met.

She was lovelier than he’d hoped, but not only for her cheekbones and eyes. In that one quick flash, he felt as if her essence had been laid bare to him, all the imperfections and fears, but more importantly the indomitable spirit of her being. Everything about her, the way she moved and the curve of her lips, said that if he was lucky enough to know her, life would be full of pleasant and interesting surprises.

In that split second of awareness, Daniel saw her and he knew she saw him. Then the wind caught her hair and tossed it playfully into her face. She reached up to smooth a strand behind her ear and turned away as if their souls had not just touched. Apparently unmoved by the moment they’d shared, she crossed the street with the rest of the pedestrians.

She was the one. He had to paint her. If only he could do justice to her. Shaken by the glance they exchanged, he doubted his own ability to capture what he’d seen, but he had to try.

Standing immobile on the pavement, buffeted by the hurrying crowd, Daniel let her slip away and disappear.

Damn. So that’s what it feels like.

About the Author: Catt Ford lives in front of the computer monitor, in another world where her imaginary gay friends obey her every command. Catt likes cats, chocolate, swing dancing, sleeping, Monty Python, Aussie friends, being silly, spinning other realities with words, and sea glass. She dislikes caterpillars, cigarette smoke, and rude people who think the F-word (as in faggot, or bundle of sticks) is acceptable. A frustrated perfectionist, she comforts herself with the legend about the weavers of Persian rugs always including one mistake so as not to anger the gods, although she has no need to include a mistake on purpose. One always slips through. Writing fiction has filled a need for clever conversations, only possible when one is in control of both sides, and erotic romances, where everything for the most part turns out happily ever after.

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Where Do Characters and Plots Come From by Karen Stivali – Guest Blog


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Karen Stivali as she celebrates the upcoming release of Moment of Fate, the fifth book in her Moments in Time series.

Where do Characters and Plots Come From?

Readers often ask where authors find their motivation for characters and plots. Is it purely imagination? Are things based on your real life experiences? Do the characters share your personality traits?

The answer to all of those questions is yes. And no. For me, as well as most of my author friends, the stories are completely fictional, the characters are not based on people we know in our real lives. But, and it is a significant but, small things may be pieces of us. A location we used to live. A restaurant we used to go to all the time. A particularly funny or poignant memory. And perhaps a facet or two of our own personality.

In MOMENT OF FATE I don’t have a ton in common with the main characters. Bryan is the lead singer in an up and coming rock band (I can’t sing a note and even if I could I don’t have the personality to be the front man—I was in the drama club in HS and was perfectly content working on the stage crew), he’s a sexy, gorgeous, charismatic gay dude (I’m none of those thing), and he’s got a sister he’s extremely close to (I’m an only child). But…he attends NYU as a photography student (I graduated NYU’s film school) and he’s got a secret he doesn’t share with anyone, which is the fact that he has chronic Lyme disease and pretty serious anxiety issues as one of the many symptoms. He doesn’t tell anyone because he stubbornly refuses to accept the limitations of a chronic illness and he doesn’t want anyone—himself or anyone else—to define him by his ailments. I’d like to say that’s not a trait I loaned him, but confession: I have chronic Lyme disease and yes it made my lifelong anxiety issues many times magnified. Like Bryan, I don’t talk about it because I refuse to be controlled by an illness any more than I have to be. But the lesson he learns in the book is one I definitely had to learn myself while figuring out how to cope with a disease that simply won’t go away.

Likewise with Oliver. He’s a teacher who spent several years engaged to his female BFF in a marriage of convenience because he wanted a family and wasn’t ready to accept his sexuality and come out. I’ve never gone through being closeted, but I am familiar with needing to make the best of things and making sacrifices for a friend. He’s also a writer, as am I. So again, I loaned him aspects of myself but he’s completely his own person. And I think his character arc of needing to learn to live your own truth is something universally relatable.

So, as I said in the beginning, when people ask authors if the characters are completely fictional or not, the answer is pretty much always yes. And no. No matter what the ratio is, the one thing that’s always true is that the characters very much become their own people in our minds. That’s why this series has gone from its original status as one short novella to one with seven books (and counting). The Moments In Time characters a part of my life. Thank you for making them a part of yours as well.

Bryan Dane’s been living the dream—photography student by day, up-and-coming rocker by night. His summer goals are to earn his last few credits, graduate from NYU, spend as much time in the recording studio as possible, and survive the next few months without sex so he can complete his yearlong goal of self-imposed celibacy. Everything is on track until he meets Oliver Newcastle.

For years Oliver planned a marriage of convenience with his high school BFF, but now that she’s fallen in love for real with someone else, it’s no longer convenient. So Oliver came out to his family, quit his job, and left small-town New England for NYC, an intensive summer study program, and a chance to find his own happiness.

From the moment they meet, the sexual tension between Bryan and Oliver sizzles. But Bryan wants no part of a relationship, and Oliver wants to sow his wild oats—he just isn’t sure how. Oliver seeks Bryan’s help navigating the NYC gay scene, which throws them together in increasingly more sexual situations until they can no longer deny they’re hot for each other. Bryan is desperate to keep things simple, but fate may have other plans.

This is a standalone novel set in the Moments In Time world. You do not need to have read any of the previous titles to enjoy this book.

About the Author:Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. She writes novels about love…like real life, only hotter.

Karen’s lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, it’s guaranteed that Karen’s novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sex—all the best things in life.

When Karen isn’t writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so don’t hesitate to contact/follow/like her.

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Other books in the Moments In Time series:
MOMENT OF IMPACT (Book 1)
MOMENT OF TRUTH (Book 2)
MOMENT OF CLARITY (Book 3)
MOMENTS IN TIME (a compilation of Books 1-3)
MOMENT OF DOUBT (Book 3.5)
MOMENT OF SILENCE (Book 4)
MOMENT OF FATE (Book 5)

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Dreamspinner Press, Google Play, or iBooks.

Tapped by Liz Crowe – Q&A and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Liz Crowe will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

You’re a mother, a realtor, a brewery expert… how exactly do you find time to write??

Well, my mom days are less fraught, as my kids are 24, 22 and 18 which helps. I could not even begin to imagine writing when they were all underfoot!

I like to tell people that “writing” is my passion, my hobby, the thing I do for fun. I’ve yet to find the lucky moment wherein an agent or big publisher discovers me (but I am working towards that, believe me!) and so selling real estate is my day job. Luckily, I enjoy it so it’s not a hardship for me to walk away from the hobby and engage with all sorts of people buying and selling houses.

As for the craft beer side of things, that life truly did envelop me for several years but has since become less so, for various reasons. I stay involved and helped found a “women in craft beverages” group here in Michigan and am their communications director. I provide marketing and social media consulting for start up breweries. And I am working toward my full Cicerone certification (that’s like a “sommelier” only for beer instead of wine). Again, it’s a hobby and one I really enjoy!

So…to your question, I find time write around things. Real estate can be a job with serious built-in down time—like when I’m at my office waiting for the phone to ring, or at a dud open house. It’s also the sort of job that does not require 9-5 commitment so after a long weekend spent showing, selling, touring, I will many times stick close to my computer on a Monday and bang out a few words.

Tapped is the first book in a new series; how many books are planned for this series?

Right now, I have 3 planned for it but as I tend to write stories with plenty of juicy, novel-worthy secondary characters I think there could be room for at least 2 more. LightStruck, book 2 of the series is with the publisher now and I’m noodling away on Conditioned, book 3.

What’s your favorite type of sex scene to write?

One that does not involved the actual mechanics of sex. I know this sounds weird to some but as a reader, I get more turned on by the right turn of an erotic phrase, the brush of skin in anticipation, the build-up, than the “insert rod A into slot B” and frankly, am tired of all the boring sex in books lately. That is not to say there is not plenty of sex in TAPPED. There is. But I try harder with every book I write to find that perfect balance between sexy and sex.

How does your family feel about your work?

My family supports me 100% even if they get a little frustrated when I’m in Total Forward Writing Mode and forget things, like groceries. And laundry!

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Write books sooner in your life so you have more time to perfect your craft.

When wealthy brewery owner Austin Fitzgerald meets sexy saleswoman Evelyn Benedict, angry sparks fly. They seem destined to clash, until a hot hookup in a cold beer cooler changes everything.

For Austin, it’s a life-altering moment that sets him on a path away from his birthright, while Evelyn must face her fears about committing to a man considered the playboy of the micro-brewing world.

The power of preconceived notions nearly tears them apart—until they meet up with brew master Ross, who opens their eyes to a deeper, even more erotic connection. But three strong personalities don’t always make for the best emotional mix and when a simple misunderstanding causes chaos, it’s up to Ross to repair the tattered shreds of their relationship.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Sensing the heat of Evelyn’s fury as he finalized another large order, he excused himself and made his way toward the restroom. The tuning-fork sensation had morphed into a dull ache centered in his gut, which steadily made its way down to his balls.

When he emerged—after splashing water on his face enough times to calm the hardening in his jeans—he almost plowed straight into her. He gripped her arms to keep her from falling and the impulses that had bounced around in his brain since the morning nearly brought him to his knees. He dropped his hands and looked away, swallowing back the urge to say something, anything, to convince her he wasn’t such a bad guy.

“Sorry.”

Her voice was flat. He took a step back, stopped only when his butt hit the wall. The space between them filled with near-visible silence, but he didn’t move.

“I don’t know how I’m doing it, but the longer we work together, the more sales I make, and the more you hate me. Clue me in here, Benedict. I thought sales were the goal of the day.” He crossed his arms, holding them close to his chest so she couldn’t gauge how shaky his hands had gotten.

She swallowed, and he watched the exquisite warm peach hue of her skin redden. Admiring the line of her neck, her jaw, the plump fullness of her lower lip as she bit it, a nervous tic he’d love to come to love, if she’d let him, Austin sensed himself falling deeper into a very scary hole. Her ongoing silence took on a life of its own.

“Well? I left my secret-sales-goal decoder ring at home. You obviously have a different agenda for today. I get it. ‘Prove to the rich boy he doesn’t have what it takes’ is fine, but we could have saved some time if you’d just told me first.”

She opened her lips, then pressed them together and shouldered past him. He watched, fascinated, as his hand reached out of its own accord and snagged her arm. She stopped, stared at it, then up at him. When he realized the blue of her eyes was brighter because of tears, he hesitated. Female tears always unnerved him, but his chest tightened in a thoroughly alarming way at the thought of having caused her unhappiness.

He let go. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

In a split second, her beautiful face was within inches of his. “Don’t flatter yourself. I’m just pissed off. You’ve had that effect on me since I first laid eyes on you, so yeah, I guess I set you up. But apparently, all your country-club, private-school time has been worth it. Bullshitting comes naturally to you. And that’s all this job is. A whole barrel of bullshit.”

She stomped away before he could speak or, even better, grab her and kiss her. The space she vacated quivered with anger. But her crisp perfume stayed in his nose and he had to clench his hands into fists to keep from shoving her up against the wall and kissing her until she saw it his way.

About the Author: Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.

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Buy the book at the publisher or Amazon.

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Rushing Love by Meg Bawden – Spotlight and Giveaway


Long and Short Reviews welcomes Meg Bawden who is visiting with us today to celebrate the upcoming release of Rushing Love. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win an autographed paperback.

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Hi there! My name is Meg Bawden, and Long and Short Reviews has graciously accepted me on their blog today for the release of my new story, Rushing Love.

Rushing Love is a M/M romance story set in South Dakota, USA. I wrote it for the States of Love line from Dreamspinner Press and I can’t wait for its release. I had so much fun writing it and I can’t wait to share it with you. Please allow me to share the blurb with you:

After a devastating break-up with the man he thought he’d spend his life with, Flynn Webb takes a holiday to a South Dakota dude ranch. It’s something completely different from anything he’s done before, and it helps that it’s as far away from his ex as possible. Trapped in his own depressive thoughts, Flynn is surprised to meet Grayson Harland. Not only is Grayson a sexy cowboy—one fifteen years younger—but he’s the most charming man Flynn has ever met.

Flynn doesn’t have much experience with being seduced, and he has even less with guys like Grayson taking an interest in him—and Grayson is definitely interested. What begins as a fling while visiting iconic South Dakota sights soon develops the potential for much more. But Flynn is afraid that falling in love again so soon—and with a man so much younger—will lead only to another catastrophic heartbreak. Luckily for them both, Grayson isn’t giving up without a fight.

If you’re interested you can find the story here: Dreamspinner Press or Amazon.

To celebrate the upcoming release, I’d like to share an excerpt with you.

*****
“Tell me about yourself. If we’re on a date, I should get to know you, right?”

Grayson glanced at him briefly and smiled. “All right. But I expect the same from you. I’m Grayson, born on September 13, 1995. I was a big baby, and Mom loves to remind me of the pain I put her through.”

Flynn laughed.

“I don’t watch TV, don’t have time. But if I did, I’d watch something with hot guys in it.”

“Queer as Folk.”

“What’s that?” Grayson pulled onto another road. It looked like it led to the monument, because farther down, there was a ticket booth where people were collecting money.

“You haven’t heard of it?” Flynn went to get his wallet, but Grayson grabbed his hand and entwined their fingers. The touch sent a thrill through Flynn’s body. Grayson’s hand was warm and rough, and his fingers were much longer and wider than Flynn’s.

“Nope, should I have?”

“It’s a gay TV show. Full of hot gay guys that fuck. Brian…. Oh God, I’d bend over for Brian.”

Grayson’s eyebrows furrowed. There was a line in front of them, so they weren’t getting anywhere fast. He looked more than happy to drive with one hand and hold Flynn’s with the other. “Reality TV show?”

Flynn laughed. “Nope. Made up. But Brian is still hot.”

“Should I be jealous?”

“Are you jealous?” As soon as it escaped Flynn’s mouth, he pursed his lips. Goddammit. He had to remind himself that he’d only known Grayson for two days. Two damn days! He had no reason to be jealous.

“Yeah, I am.” Grayson stared at him. “I like to think I can make you mine.”

Words escaped Flynn. His chest felt tight, constricting until he could barely breathe, and his stomach was doing these silly little backflips. He liked those words, a lot, and he didn’t understand it. Couldn’t.

“Was that the wrong thing to say?”

“No….” Flynn cleared his throat. “No, it wasn’t.” He leaned in for a kiss, but before he could make it, the car behind them beeped their horn.

“Later,” Grayson promised. “So what about you? You haven’t really told me much about you yet.”

Flynn shrugged. “There’s nothing much to tell. I grew up in a religious home. My mom was a single mother after my dad left her for one of his groupies. He was a musician.”

“You’re joking.”

“Nope. And you know how they were in the seventies, even the late seventies. They liked their music and pot and sex. So Dad ran off and Mom raised me on her own. We were looked down on by the church, no matter how much Mom tried. She was never good enough for them.”

“Not all churches are that bad.”

He shook his head. “No, not all. But a lot are. Are you religious?”

“I suppose I believe in something being out there, but I don’t go to church. Mom used to, but she gave it up when some of the townsfolk started talking bad about me and Thomas for being gay.”

Flynn sighed. “Yeah, that’s how bad it got for Mom, even worse when some of the women from church saw me kissing a boy when I was fourteen. There are so many bigots now, but imagine in the early nineties. We were ridiculed. We had to pack up our stuff and move. Eventually, though, Mom sort of just gave up. She fell into depression and committed suicide when I was seventeen.”

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”

“Yeah….” Flynn shook his head, pushing the memories out of his head. “It doesn’t matter. It happened and I’m over it. Well, not over it, but I’ve moved on.”

“I’m sorry, Flynn.”

He smiled and squeezed Grayson’s hand. “It’s fine. I’m fine. How about we focus on more positive things. Like how gorgeous I am.”

Grayson laughed and released Flynn’s hand as he drove up to the ticket booth. He handed the attendant the money and started to drive again. The road from the booth led straight to the parking lot, and it was a little hard to find a parking space, but they finally did.

They both exited the cab, and when Grayson reached him, he slipped his hand into Flynn’s again. Flynn knew he should have been worried about other people’s reactions. He knew from experience that not everyone was okay with seeing gay affection, but at that moment, as he stared up into Grayson’s eyes, he didn’t give a damn.

About the Author: MEG BAWDEN was born and raised in North Queensland, Australia. She’s loved stories since before she can remember and has always enjoyed creating characters of her own, even if it did begin with drawing faces on toilet rolls and giving them names. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she’s loved the M/M genre since 2004, the first book she read being Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez.

Writing M/M since 2007, Meg has never had the confidence to attempt publishing her own stories, but in 2015, she decided that it was all about to change thanks to the amazing friends she’s made in the M/M genre and their support and encouragement. So watch out world, Meg Bawden is coming out to have some fun!

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Food Memories with Matthew Lang – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Matthew Lang who is celebrating the release of Better With Bacon on February 22. Leave a comment with your favorite food memory and, on the release date, the author will choose the winner to receive a copy of The Way You Are.

Better with Bacon – Food Memories with Matthew Lang

These are actually the red bean buns I’ve made. I don’t have pictures of the chocolate ones. They get eaten too fast. One day.

One of my earliest recollections is being perched on a chair, in the white kitchen of a giant house in Wellington, New Zealand, staring into a wall oven. I know it was a giant house because it had three lawns. My dad had to take a day off work to mow them. Or at least, that’s what I’m told. I don’t actually remember my dad mowing the lawns, or taking time off work. I’m pretty sure I understood that work was something he left home to do most days, but not every day. Maybe it was like kindergarten for grown ups? Anyway, my sister is old enough to remember this and she says it happened, so chances are good that it’s true. Unlike the story about how my parents met, but that’s a long tale of misdirection and betrayal of your children’s trust.

Anyway, the oven. It was covered with a brownish glass front and there were lines across the glass, a bit like looking out of the rear window of a car with the heater lines across it. Inside the oven were Chinese buns, or bao, steaming on racks and I can only assume a pan of boiling water underneath them all. Most had some sort of vegetables inside them but some precious few held chocolate. Little squares of milk chocolate that would melt and ooze once you tore through the sweet, white bread exterior. It was a rare indulgence in a house where junk food wasn’t stocked in the pantry and soft drinks were things you had…never. Still, I wasn’t interested in the bao. I’d never eaten one at that point. That came later. I was watching my snowman.

He was dying.

The thing about bread dough, is that cooking changes it. Yeah, I know, deep, huh? But it changes from its semi-liquid, viscous form into the texture solidness that is bread. Try explaining that to a three year old. Maybe you know three year olds who were smarter than me if they get that before seeing it. Anyway, in the heat of the steaming oven, the twig-like arms I’d painstakingly rolled with my little hands melted into the snowman’s dough body, and the facial features were being swallowed up by the expanding face as it cooked. I don’t know how it turned out. I can’t remember that. I just remember staring through the brown lined, brownish glass door into the oven deflating as my bread snowman inflated in the oven.

Nearly three decades later, I found myself with a surplus of those tiny Easter eggs. I’ve grown up as someone who’s not big on snack or junk food, and I needed a way to get rid of them that wasn’t just giving them away to people when Easter was nowhere in sight in either direction on the calendar. So I found a recipe for man tou, or the Chinese steamed white bread, and started making bao. With Easter eggs inside. The M&M ones were the best, I think. I don’t have a sweet tooth, really, but getting other people to eat steamed chocolate buns is about as easy as explaining what they are. Admittedly, in Melbourne the BBQ pork bun is a ubiquitous enough favourite that I don’t have any issues there.

In my new story, Better with BaconK/I>, Patrick uses the white steamed bread as the basis for sliders, which is possible, but will probably never happen at my place while people keep giving me chocolate. Sometimes I wonder if they’re hoping I’ll make more bao and ask people to eat them.

In any case, here’s the recipe. I stole it from a blog somewhere on the internet, but I can’t find the site now, otherwise I’d share the link.

Steamed Chocolate Bao
1.5 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup bao flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
3 tsp melted butter

In a small bowl combine the yeast, two tablespoons of water + 1 teaspoon sugar + 1 teaspoon bao flour. Let this stand somewhere warm for about 15 minutes or until frothy.

Cut 12 squares of baking paper. I get about three from the width of a standard width roll. You’ll need these for steaming later.

Sift all your flour together into a mixing bowl, and add the rest of the sugar. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour in all your liquid ingredients.

Combine and knead for approximately 10 minutes until the dough comes together.

Cover with a damp cloth and place the bowl somewhere warm. Allow the dough to rise for approximately 1 hour.

Divide the dough into twelve portions, and roll each portion out into a flat circle. Place a small Easter egg or square of chocolate inside and then bring the edges of the circle together and pinch shut. Place each bun onto a square of baking paper and place in a steamer basket.

Steam the buns for approximately 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Notes:

Bao flour is special, highly bleached flour you can purchase at an Asian grocery. You don’t have to use it, but if you just use plain and self raising flours you may find your bao has a slightly yellowish tinge when cooked. They’ll still be delicious though.

This recipe makes big bao. You can make 24 mini bao by dividing your dough more, but it’ll take longer. I recommend keeping any dough you aren’t working with covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out while you work.

You can use whatever you want as a filling. So far I’ve tried a mix of spinach, mushrooms and water chestnut, sweetened red bean paste, and custard (add corn flour or it’ll split when you cook them). But still, chocolate still has a special place in my heart, and quite possibly always will.

When Patrick’s long-term girlfriend Li Ling dumps him just as he’s working up the nerve to propose, he ends up drunk on David’s couch—and later in David’s bed. Although initially reluctant to pursue anything beyond a one-time drunken tryst, David throws caution to the wind during an intimate dinner, where the two men also discuss Patrick’s dream of entering the food industry. Just as the friends-turned-lovers are settling into their new romance, Li Ling calls Patrick—she’s pregnant.

Convinced the announcement spells the end of their love affair and a return to their platonic friendship, David flees to Sydney to escape his heartbreak. But upon his return to Melbourne, David discovers the situation hasn’t gone the way he’d expected. There might still be a chance for David and Patrick’s dreams to come true if they can forgive each other’s mistakes and move forward.

About the Author: Matthew Lang writes behind a desk, in the park, on the tram, and sometimes backstage at amateur theater productions. He has been known to sing and dance in public and analyze the plots of movies and TV shows, and is a confessed Masterchef addict. He has dabbled in film, machinema, event management, and even insurance, but his first love has always been the written word. He is suspected of frequenting libraries and hanging around in bookstores, and his therapists believe he may be plotting some form of literature.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press.

Promises in the Dark by Karen Wiesner


Promises in the Dark by Karen Wiesner
Angelfire II Quartet, Book 4
Publisher: Writers Exchange E-Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (191 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Heaven’s promise, desire’s flame…

Return to Karen Wiesner’s award-winning Angelfire Trilogy. There are no scars like those inflicted in childhood, and no love like your first. Timeless couples Diane Hoffmann and Mikey Lund, Roxanne Hart and Jamie Dubois, Cherish Stephenson and Ty Foxx, and Sapphire Stephenson and William Decker seek out the unconditional love and healing of an angel and the scorching heat of unending passion.

William Decker has lived his life on the principle of ‘Better to not love what you never had to begin with’ and ‘You can’t be hurt by anything you haven’t invested yourself in’…and he can’t deny his life mottos have done little beyond keep him lonely.

Sapphire Stephenson married, had a child—and divorced—before she was out of her teens. Her entire life is wrapped up in being a good role model for her daughter and not trusting any man, living or dead. Decker seems to be the one exception. But is even he capable of more than promises in the dark?

William Decker, an orphan who grew up without warmth or companionship from those around him, has been a loner all his life, preferring solitude, loneliness and dark corners to friends, anything resembling a spotlight, and even love. When he met Roxanne Hart his first and only year of college, he’d found a center he’d unconsciously looked for all his life. Though Rox loved him deeply as a friend, she was in love with another man and he’d never really had a shot there, despite his relentless, decades-long loyalty. When she announces her wedding, William knows it’s past time for him to stop wishing for the moon, but, more than that, he realizes for the first time that he’d set his heart on an unavailable woman purposely. He’s lived his life on the principle of ‘Better to not love and lose what you never had to begin with’ and ‘You can’t be hurt by anything you haven’t invested yourself in.’ He can’t deny his life mottos have done little beyond keep him lonely…

Sapphire Stephenson married, had a child—and divorced—before she was out of her teens. But starting out life with a newborn and a mother who refused to understand why she couldn’t forgive her cheating, abusive husband, she’d taken the only jobs she’d been able to get, ending up as a bartender in a rough biker joint on Staten Island. Sapphire is certain of two things: That being a good role model for her daughter is the most important thing in her life…and that there isn’t a man alive worth any loyalty. The dudes who come through the bar have no respect for–let alone interest in– anything that isn’t transitory with the women around them. William Decker, long-time patron of the bar, close friend of its owner and now head of security, is the one exception to the rule she’s observed. He intrigues her the way no other man ever has. But is even he capable of more than promises in the dark that he’ll break without regret by the morning light?

“You’re a hypocrite” rattles around in Sapphire Stephenson’s head. Guilt plagues her.

Did Yasmine know about William “Deck” Decker, the bouncer at bar, the man who’d saved her from being raped and now takes her breath away with the steamy sex they enjoy in the bar’s office after her bartending duties and his bouncer duties are over for the night?

Being a good example for Yasmine, her sixteen-year-old daughter, had been Sapphire’s mission in life. She hadn’t brought a man home in ten years.

On the run for most of Yasmine’s life, with only each other to cling to, they’d been more than just mother and daughter; they’d been best friends until recently.

Beautiful, responsible, industrious, intelligent Yasmine, seemingly overnight, had become a rebellious teenager with a boyfriend too old for her. When Sapphire set rules, the angry “You’re a hypocrite” spewed out of Yasmine’s mouth.

Deck, tough, handsome, mysterious, and long-time customer, had stopped his heavy drinking and turned bouncer after Sapphire’s near rape. He’d know her for years and used her for a shrink as he sat at the bar drinking himself to numbness night after night. Rejection, he couldn’t come to terms with, had shredded his self esteem—for some reason he’d been deemed unworthy to be loved by his own mother and the women he’d protected and loved–still loves.

Deck’s “Whatever you want, honey,” sounds like a promise. But are promises made in the dark meant to be kept?

Once burned, twice shy, Sapphire questions her own actions, but being with Deck feels so right.

They all have emotional miles to go before they can find their happy-ever-after—making captivating reading.

Karen Wiesner does a super job of making a book that is in a series very readable as a standalone story. Her characters, with all their flaws, come alive and reach right in and touch the reader’s heart. As she weaves their back stories in, one’s heart grieves for the hurts they’ve suffered.

She makes Promises in the Dark a memorable vicarious experience for the reader.

Horror in Jordan’s Bank by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley and Wayne J. Keeley


Horror in Jordan’s Bank by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley and Wayne J. Keeley
Deadraiser Series Part 1
Publisher: Someday Productions LLC.
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (177 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Necromancy is an ancient black magic used for the purposes of communing with the dead. It is believed that practitioners of the dark art may harness the ultimate power of life and death and raise the departed for their own nefarious, malevolent purposes. It also is alleged that a true necromancer may realize the ultimate gift of mortality.

DEADRAISER is the tale of a present-day practitioner who achieves what others have been unable to do for centuries — to raise the dead. The problem is that he must sacrifice innocent victims in order to maintain his power.

Enter Fanchon (Frankie) Manning, daughter of the late movie star Erika Manning. She is the ideal sacrificial lamb for the Necromancer’s perverse desires. The only thing that stands between the Necromancer and the girl is Christopher McGuire, a lost soul who long ago has ceased believing in anything. In order to save the child, he must somehow rediscover his faith and summon the courage to take on the darkest, most sinister being imaginable.

Every small town has its secrets and Jordan’s Bank may have more than most.

For generations, horror has plagued Jordan’s Bank from the shadows. Now, with the homecoming of Frankie Manning, the daughter of the late movie star Erika Fanning, that is about to change. This is a story of real evil in our time and those that must confront it directly.

The authors do a fantastic job at taking stories that we have head in passing and bringing them together in a real story. The town of Jordan’s Bank sits almost in a bubble, separated from the passage of time. Life move slowly here, and this is just what the authors built on. Moving from the fast paced life, Frankie and family friend Christopher McGuire, adjust to the change in pace. Yet, the authors build around the dark horrors that the residents of Jordan’s Banks have seen, and often willingly committed.

This is the first novel in the series, and one that most readers will find very difficult to put down. The deep backgrounds, the flashbacks and the strong plotline tie the story together to keep the reader wondering what will happen next. The authors do a great job making the small town isolation feel “real” even in today’s modern age. This is definitely a horror story that has a modern feel but still transports the reader back in time with the fear of isolation.

The interactions between characters are very intense. The small town “us versus them” and distance to outsiders is very present, making the reader constantly guess who is behind what, or why information is not shared. This is a great study in small town life and fears of change, not only with the horror aspect, but with the ongoing fear of outsiders that the authors make so clear. In the end, the reader begins to wonder who, if anyone, in the small town can be trusted!

This is one modern horror story that you do not want to miss!

Hot For Heather by Caitlyn Lynch


Hot For Heather by Caitlyn Lynch
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (27 pages)
Other: M/F, Anal Play
Rating: 2 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Heather is a quiet classical pianist lacking in a social (or sex) life. One day, she’s utterly shocked to find out that the hot delivery guy she accidentally flashed in the hallway is actually her brand new neighbour, Mike, a soldier recently back from deployment. And Mike’s very interested in getting to know the gorgeous girl next door who makes such beautiful music. He’s especially interested in getting know her on top of that piano. And on the piano stool. And anywhere else in her apartment she’s willing to let him…

Holy piano benches, Batman!

This story sizzled. I won’t lie. There were parts of this short story that had me squirming in my seat. The piano… I’ll never look at a baby grand ever again the same way.

There wasn’t much meat to this short story. The author got right to the point right away. I had to keep reading because I had to know how it would end. Of course it didn’t take long, but still. I had to know.

The premise of the story was hot. Sexy military man and the geeky pianist. Good combination. But there were a few quibbles. While this was erotica, some of the terminology ripped me right out of the story. I wanted to buy in, but I couldn’t… not throughout the book. I had a hard time picturing the hero and heroine together because of the nearly foot difference in their height. I had to reread to figure out some of the choreography. One example: the pianist considers herself short, but not small and wonders how the hero can pick her up, yet he tosses her around. I had a hard time picturing what was going on. The other big quibble was how fast the two characters got together. Some readers might not have a problem with the briskness with which they climbed onto the piano. Others might.

That said, the short story has lots of promise. With a little more editing for content and maybe lengthening the story out a bit more, it could really shine.

If you want an erotic short story that will singe your screen, then this might be the book for you.