Friday, 27 April 2018

RELEASE DAY Alpha (Tamed & Trained #2)

Title: Alpha (Tamed & Trained #2): Sequel to Puppy (
Authors: R. Phoenix & M.A. Innes
Length: Approximately 39k words
Buy Link:(only $2.99 for a limited time; also available on KU):
Release Date: April 27, 2018


Zain was just a dog walker. It was an unconventional job for a werewolf, even a brand new one, but he liked dogs and they liked him. It only seemed to make sense… right up until the point a vampire called him in to take care of his human pup. When his life collided with Liam and Caleb’s, none of them were prepared for the directions it could take.

Especially Zain.

But between the sexy pup and the vampire’s creativity, the power struggles pitting dominance against submission — and acceptance — the two might be too intriguing to just walk away from… 

When M.A. Innes, bestselling author of sweet taboo romance, and R. Phoenix, author of playful dark erotica, paranormal romance, and horror team up, you should leave your expectations at the door. The duo responsible for Almost Strangers, a sweet contemporary romance with more than a few taboo themes, has collaborated again to bring you something from the other side of the force.

That said, here are a few notes from Raissa:

This is not an alpha / omega / beta tale, at least not in the usual sense (designation at birth, slick, heats, mpreg, primary focus on the werewolf part, etc.). Alas, “Alpha” in this universe is completely different and refers more to status. I hope you’ll give it a shot anyway, but please don’t expect A/B/O dynamics! (Though there are plenty of Big Os in here. Just saying.) 

To M.A. Innes’s Readers:
I’ve temporarily corrupted your favorite author. Don’t worry; it isn’t permanent. Seriously, though, please do not go into this book thinking it is a typical M.A. Innes book. It isn’t. Innes is writing in my world — and my world is a much darker place. The warnings are there for a reason, darlings!

To R. Phoenix’s Readers:
Hello, my loves! It’s great to (finally!) get back to Caleb and Liam. Thanks so much for being patient. I know it’s been a while, but I hope you’ll agree this was worth the wait. You know the drill — this is playful dark erotica, emphasis on the dark. If you’ve read Puppy, you’re (probably) ready for Alpha. ;-) Give a warm welcome to Zain!

Other Notes:
*This is the sequel to Puppy by R. Phoenix, which should be read first. Sorry, loves, it’s definitely not a standalone.
*(Warnings/Potential Spoilers) Prepare for M/M/M, puppy play, body modification, humiliation, dehumanization, and other stuff I’m forgetting about right now. Not every dynamic or element is 100% consensual.

Social Media Info:


M.A. Innes

M.A. Innes is the pseudonym for best-selling author Shaw Montgomery. While Shaw writes femdom and m/m erotic romance. M.A. Innes is the side of Shaw that wants to write about topics that are more taboo. If you liked the book, please leave a short review. It is greatly appreciated.

Do you want to join the newsletter? Help with character names and get free sneak peeks at what’s coming up? Just click on the link.

You can also get information on upcoming books and ideas on Shaw’s website:

R. Phoenix

R. Phoenix (code name: Raissa) has an unhealthy fascination with contrasts: light and dark, humor and pain, heroes and villains, order and chaos. She believes love can corrupt, power can redeem and that the best of intentions can cast shadows while the worst can create light. She agrees with those who say that the truth is best told through fiction — even though fiction has to make sense while reality can be utterly baffling.

She loves chatting with readers, though she often awkwardly rambles. No matter how much she tries to keep her bad and often perverted sense of humor in check, it seems to escape at the most inconvenient moments. (Thanks, universe.) Feel free to friend Raissa on Facebook and chat or send her an email!

Facebook Profile:

Facebook Page:

Twitter: @RaissaPhoenix

Email: raissa(dot)phoenix(at)gmail(dot)com

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Wednesday Briefs. The Faery of Beacon Lake Part 11

Its been something of a strange week, between one thing and another. I've been busy and it's been a challenge to fit everything in. fortunately, one thing I managed to fit in was my flash and here it is. Bran, as usual, totally encompases the meaning of the word.

Owen drew himself up as tall as he could. The shadow of his grandmother stood at his shoulder telling him what a fool he was, but he ignored her because she was just a shadow and Bran was a blinding light.

“What do I have to do?”

The queen regarded him intently and he was surprised to find there seemed to be a great deal of sadness in her expression.

“I believe you will do your best by our son,” she said, with the clear implication that his best could never be good enough. “Are you sure?” She turned to Bran, who nodded.

“You know it can be no other way,” he whispered, and Owen was shocked to realize that Bran was as nervous and out of his depth as he was. “I fought it as long as I could. I waited, as you asked. Don’t make me wait any longer.”

The queen nodded once, then turned her attention back to Owen. “Then I ask again, do you promise to care for our son, Bran, Prince of the Mountain Lakes and Guardian of the Gateway? Do you promise to honour him and never to raise a hand against him in violence?”

Owen glanced at Bran, then out at the lake. Something about the stillness of the water and moonlit path across its surface calmed and soothed him. He nodded. “Yes. I promise.”

“As for the bargain, Prince Bran will bring with him as dowry—” she reeled of a list of things Owen barely listened to because he’d caught and been captured by Bran’s eyes which glowed so brightly they diminished the light of the moon.

“Human boy?”


The queen sighed and stamped her foot. “Do agree the dowry?”

“Er…yeah. I don’t need a dowry.”

The queen’s lips pursed. She was clearly frustrated, and afraid she might think he wasn’t taking things seriously, Owen squared his shoulders and met her gaze directly. “Yes, I agree. I’m fine with it.”

“Very well. For your part of the bargain you will promise to care for Bran, to provide him with food, clothing and shelter, to lead him through the pathways of your world and never to be far from his side. You will promise to treat him with kindness and to never raise your hand against him in anger. Should you do so three times, the bargain will be broken, and Bran will return to the lake, taking whatever might remain from the dowry with him. Is this clearly understood?”

“Yes, I understand, and I promise. I’ll take care of him, give him everything he needs, and I will never, ever raise a hand in anger. Why would I? I’m not that kind of person.”

The queen waved a dismissive hand. She drew Bran forward and took his hand. Raising it, she held it out toward Owen. For a moment, he was confused, then he took a few quick step forwards and placed his hand over hers. As he gazed into Bran’s dazzling smile, the queen slipped away, and when he next looked up they were alone on the banks of the lake.

“Where did they go?”

Owen glanced back at Bran to find a naked boy whose only glow came from the moonlight striking 
off a single silver earring in the shape of a seashell. Owen decided he liked him better this way.

“So…we’re married now?”

“That is the closest human equivalent, I believe.”

“So…what do we do?”

“Whatever you wish, but I would like for it to be somewhere warm. I have never been cold before, and I don’t like it.”

“You’ve never been cold? But you live— You’ve always been naked.”

Bran ducked his head. “I felt no chill within the spell and as for my nakedness, well….” He glanced up again and smiled. “That was for you.”

Shock hit Owen like a bucket of icy water. “You what?”

“Do you really think you could catch a fey if they do not wish to be caught? Do you think you could see one if they do not want to be seen?”

“It was a trick? You lured me in.”

“No trick, human boy. A lure? Perhaps. I have been watching you.”

“Watching me? For how long?” Owen began to feel uncomfortable. Bran’s glance seemed more sly than coy now.

“Since you were a child, sitting on the bank, just over there, making stones jump over the water. I saw your first kiss and watched your heart broke when you were going away.”

Owen gasped. Anger, hurt and confusion punched into him like a fist in his chest. “You spied on me.”

“I watched you. I wanted you. I did nothing to force you. I….” Bran bit his lip and dropped his eyes 
again. “I felt for you.”

“Felt for me? Felt what?”

Bran shrugged. “Perhaps I am in love with you?”

“You don’t know?”

“I don’t know what love is.” He raised his eyes again, more curious than anything else now. “Do you?”

“I…. Sure, I know.”

“Tell me.” Bran stepped into his space, his eyes burning, eager. Owen took a step back. Bran froze. 

“Do you not love me? Do you not wish to hold me? To kiss me? You did before.”

“Look, this is all moving way too fast. I’m married to someone I hardly know, someone who’s admitted to spying on me for years and luring me into this… situation. At the moment I have no idea what to think. If I’m being completely honest, I feel… trapped.”

Bran winced but nodded. “Then take me home. You can think while we walk.”


“Please, Owen. I am very cold.”

Owen blinked and for the first time realized that the blue tinge to Bran’s skin no longer came from the faery light, but from sheer cold.

And the other flashers this week are 


Monday, 23 April 2018


Nephy's News launched in April and has been going for almost a year (WOW) Watch out for an extra special birthday edition in April. In the meantime for your chance to win the Giveaway in February 2019 edition then comment below, or simply leave an email address where I can reach you if you win!

If you haven't signed up and have missed this month's giveaway, do not fear, there will be another next month. Don't miss it. Sign up now!

(You can sign up here or on my website)

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Blog Tour - Gaming and IRL Boss Fights by Alina Popescu

Title: Gaming and IRL Boss Fights

Series: Famous on the Internet, Book Three

Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary Romance

Length: Novella (38,000+ words)


An internet famous geek. A sexy landlord who hates him. An unlikely duo with slim chances of beating the romance game.

Simon Cromfield’s life seems perfect from the outside. His gaming channels made him an internet celebrity, he has great friends, and he’s just moved into a luxurious apartment. Yet his gorgeous landlord did a one-eighty turn and decided he hates Simon, his family thinks he’s a total failure, and some of his fans act like they own him.

Branden Dahlman has enough on his plate. He doesn’t need that pest, Simon, who became the bane of Branden’s existence on top of a large estate he never wanted and a family that drives him insane. As he unleashes his resentment on Simon, the sexy bastard insists on proving Branden wrong about everything.

In an unlikely turn of events, when Simon hits his lowest, Branden is there to support him. But will this new-found thing between them last when the pressures of Simon’s world come crashing in?

Gaming and IRL Boss Fights is the third book in the contemporary gay romance series Famous on the Internet. If you like geeks, binge-watching online content, and enemies-to-lovers tropes, then you will love Alina Popescu’s online celebrity protagonists.


Okay, I have to start by saying that I’m reviewing an ARC as part of a blog tour. If you don’t know me, you won’t know that I have absolutely zero qualms calling things as I see them, whether I buy the book or I’m reviewing for a blog tour.

Neither knowing the author nor being part of a blog tour has had any effect whatsoever on the fact that I absolutely loved this book. No, that was the way the author brought to life the trials and tribulations of the professional, gaming, You Tuber. It’s strange to think there are whole generations out there who have no idea of what a professional You Tuber is, and I suppose I should be one of them. I probably would have been if not for the fact that I’ve been an mmorpg gamer since the whole thing started in the stone age, and my son is also a massive fan, as well as a fan of You Tubers.

I particularly like You Tubers because their videos and stream are short, and I can fit them in between working, during snack or procrastination time. I have my favourites who I follow closely, both gamers and more general (yes, I do love Dan and Phil).

This book brings the world to life on the other side of the camera and shows both the sheer amount of work that goes into it and the massive rewards, only part of which are financial.

History is full of mothers who think their children do not have “proper jobs”. Actors and actresses, artists, musicians…the list goes on. You Tubers are the new generation of deadbeats who live in the shadow of the “proper job brigade”. Thankfully, they’re not taking any more notice than their predecessors.

The characterisation is wonderful. I loved Simon to bits. He was such a hot mess. And I want a friend like Salma. Hell, I’d love to be a friend like Salma. Branden, I have more reservations about. Don’t get me wrong, he’s well written but he’s a complete dick and I didn’t warm to him until the end. Considering the way the alpha male (not in the shifter sense) he was by far the brattier. That being said, it all worked out in the end.

I have to admit that being a gamer myself coloured my opinion of the book as I found it totally relatable. The con, in particular, brought back some good memories. However, I don’t think that a background or any knowledge about gaming is required to fall in love with this book and everyone in it.

Gaming and IRL Boss Fights is part of a series “Famous on the Internet” but it can totally be read as a standalone.

Buy your copy of Gaming and IRL Boss Fights today to join the game.

Buy Links

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon DE:

Amazon AU:

The Famous on the Internet Series

Book One – Br0th3rly

Tristan’s love life has one simple rule: his brother, Trevor, is off limits.

To fight his relentless love for Trevor, Tristan left for college at sixteen. A new city, building a new life for himself, and making new friends were not enough to give up what he considers sick, twisted feelings. Tristan even started an anonymous blog to cope with his love for his older brother. It made him famous on the Internet, but it wasn’t enough to get over his obsession.

Every time he goes home, a quick glance at Trevor brings it all flooding back.

When commitment-phobe Trevor introduces his serious boyfriend on one of Tristan’s rare visits home, things get a whole lot more complicated for the adoring kid brother. How far can Tristan run this time before he runs out of places to hide from his feelings?

Disclaimer: the main characters in the story are not blood relatives, the two boys were only raised as siblings.

Buy links

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon DE:

Amazon AU:

Book Two – Travel and Spice

Famous travel blogger returns home to have his life thrown off balance by his high school crush.

Dante Sandford is at the top of his game. He’s paid to travel the world and share his spicy stories on his blog. He’s still young, gorgeous, and confident. When Dante’s high school reunion knocks on his door, he’s reminded of everything he’s lacking. More so when his old crush, Tommy Clancy, makes a pass at him. Or when the hot romance blows in Dante’s face because of his lifestyle.

Tommy has always been the hottest man in Riverbrook. Possibly the world. He’s stunning, smart, and the kindest soul Dante has ever known. He’s also read Dante’s blog along with all his steamy encounters. No wonder Tommy doesn’t trust Dante for anything more than a casual hookup.

Dante returns to hometown Riverbrook to face his past of bullying and feeling like a misfit. He instead ends up dealing with the reality of being a travel blogger: relationships are close to impossible. That won’t stop Dante from trying to convince Tommy his short-lived flings are not by design.

Buy links

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon DE:

Amazon AU:

About the Author

Alina Popescu is an author, traveler, and coffee addict. She has published several paranormal, science fiction, urban fantasy, and contemporary series, many of them having reached the Amazon bestseller lists for their genres. Her stories often fall under the LGBTQ fiction and romance subgenres.

Born and raised in Romania, Alina has been writing for most of her life. She’s an avid consumer of stories in all their forms. She’s fascinated by myths, folk tales, and other creators’ visions of the future. She finds her inspiration in books of all genres, movies, and the occasional TV shows or anime binges.

Alina is a proud geek and needs her fast internet connection and assortment of gadgets more than she needs air.

For a free taste of her writing, visit her website at, subscribe to her newsletter and get a free copy of her military gay romance, Mission: Protect the Ex.

Connect with Alina on social media:






Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Faery of Beacon Lake Part 10

Life has been a struggle lately, but the very bright side of the coin is that my long, long writing draught seems to be over and I'm writing again, albeit more slowly than usual. Hopefully, this will continue to grow and expand and I can finally get back to working on all the WIP's that are hanging around waiting for attention. In the meantime, enjoy the next instalment of "Beacon Lake"

“You are the human who presumes to claim my son.” The king’s voice was like waves crashing against rocks in a storm. Although white-haired, he didn’t look old, neither did the queen, certainly not old enough to have a son Bran’s age. A brief flutter of unease had him wondering how old Bran was. They fey lived long lives.
“I… um….” He stuttered when he realized he was expected to speak.
“Speak up, boy.” The king turned to Bran. “Are you sure? This one seems defective.”
“Hush dear.” The queen’s voice was more like a bubbling spring brook and she smiled gently at Owen. “You’re frightening him. I told you all this” – she waved her hand to encompass the warriors and maidens – “was too much.”
“Nonsense. I will not give my son to a wishy washy human boy. I will have a warrior. I will have a leader among men.”
“You will have no one, dear. This is about Bran, not you.”
“But I am his father and I have the right—”
“You have the right to many things, but as we agreed, you do not have the right to your son’s happiness. Bran has chosen, not you.”
The king growled and glared at Owen who had the impression this wasn’t the first time the conversation had taken place in much the same form. It was, however, the first time the king had Owen to pass the buck to.
“How do I know you will care for my son? How do I know you have honour?”
Owen opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He swallowed.
“You see?” the king thundered. “He has no answer. He—”
“He’s still a frightened child, and you’re not helping.” She turned to Owen. “How did you know about the bread, dear? Do have a connection with the fey? A forest spirit, perhaps? You have the feel of the deep woods about you.”
“I…no. It was my grandmother who told me about the bread. I think…I think she knew because of…of stories.” He finished lamely because, to be honest, he had no idea where his grandmother got her information.
“Ah, stories. Stories are powerful things. Not many humans are still aware of this. Your grandmother is wise.”
Turning to Bran, the queen held out her hand. Bran stared at it for a moment, an expression of shock on his face, then took it and stepped forward. A shudder ran through him when he set foot on the shore, and his outline seemed to ripple for a moment as if he’d walked through a heat haze.
“Do you wish to give yourself to this human?”
“I do, Mother.”
“Do you understand that for as long as the bargain holds you must remain on land and the moment the bargain is broken you must return to the water and never set foot on land again?”
“I do, Mother.”
With two fingers under his chin, she tilted his face upward. “Do you love him?” she murmured.
“I do, Mother.”
“But….” Owen paused. It somehow felt wrong to interrupt what seemed like a very private moment, but he seemed to be heading very quickly into something he wasn’t sure he wanted and had no idea how to get out of. “What bargain?” He hated how pathetic he sounded, but he was lost and out of control.
“I’m coming to that, dear.”
“I do not think this human boy is worthy. He has no courage, and no commitment. He seeks to wriggle out of the bargain before it is made.”
“I know what you, think, my love. You have told me many times. The bargain.” Her voice changed on the last two words as she drew herself up and snapped her fingers. One of the handmaidens, while careful to keep her toes in the water, handed the queen a scroll, bound with a silver thread. The queen carefully unrolled it and raised her eyes to Owen.
“Human boy, do you promise to care for our son, Bran, Prince of the Mountain Lakes and Guardian of the Gateway? Do you promise to honour him and never to raise a hand against him in violence?”
“See? He cannot even promise this.”
“Be quiet, dear. Give the boy some time. Our ways are not his ways.”
“The thing is…. The thing is, I didn’t expect…. I didn’t expect to marry him.”
The queen’s smile didn’t slip an iota. “I understand that things are different in your world, but you must understand what you are asking of our son? If he comes to you he will be alone in a world that is not kind to us. For as long as the bargain holds he will never be able to return home and the only person he will have is you. I cannot allow my son to take such an enormous step unless I am sure you will take care of him and treat him well.”
“Of course I would. I’d never hurt him.”
The queen smiled sadly. “Such things always begin with good intentions. The bargain is clear. The choice is yours. Seek within your heart. Will you take my son’s life into your keeping, or will you hand it back to me and never see him again?”
Owen’s heart stuttered. He was torn. Part of him was angry that he was being forced into making a life changing decision when he wasn’t ready. Then he glanced at Bran.
Bran was standing quietly, with his hands at his sides and an impassive expression on his face. His head was slightly bowed, but his eyes never left Owen and when Owen caught his gaze he gave a faint, hesitant smile. That’s what undid him. If Bran had been his usual brash self he might have thought longer, might even have walked away. But that smile was so small and hopeful, and Bran’s eyes so bright Owen could no more imagine walking away from him than tearing his heart from his chest and throwing it at his feet. Although, perhaps that’s exactly what he was about to do.

And now go check out the rest of the flashers this week. There are some amazing stories going on

Saturday, 14 April 2018

RELEASE DAY Hidden Embers by Jane Burrelli

Title: Hidden Embers (Book 1 Bride of Fire)

Author: Jane Burrelli

Release Date: 14/04/2018


What happens when the forbidden is fated?

Can an exiled princess rise from the ashes?

Would the flames destroy me or forge me stronger than ever...

After all, fire and ice don’t mix. Or do they?

Sales Blurb

When the gods breathed life into us, they blessed us with an element. It's a pity they didn’t care to bless anything else.

The Empress of the Throne of Flames is assassinated. Acting as a decoy to protect the next Empress, the undervalued Princess Nymira flees to the north. She must now carry the sacred sword, the symbol of her people and rejoin the Empress.

It is a mission Mira cannot fail but first, she must traverse the Western wastelands. The journey is perilous and the once sheltered princess finds herself rescued by the Ice Lord, Zorren. The leader of the Iceari, the natural enemy to Firelanders.

Zorren is reputed to be a ruthless leader and Mira fights the attraction that blazes between them. Resulting in a clash of not only their wills but also their elements. After all, fire and ice don’t mix. Or do they?

This is book one of the new Bride of Fire series. Join the journey to a mystical world and the adventure and romance that awaits.

Publisher’s Note: This fantasy romance is intended for adults only and contains elements of danger, suspense, mystery, adventure, and sensual scenes set in an apocalyptic world.


Blue eyes twinkling, the Icer set the kindling on the ground and offered me his free hand as he straightened. I took it, grimacing as my side protested at the stretch. Worry furrowed his brow. “Are you hurt?” “No.” I tried to snatch my hand back, but he held on, turning me slightly. His heavy hand connected with my rump and I yelped as he dusted the snow off my backside with a little more vigor than strictly required. “Hey!” He grinned unrepentantly, and with a final, and in my opinion, wholly unnecessary swat that had me leaping forward he released me. “That is a taster if you ever feel the need to leave camp again on your own without telling anyone.” Stooping, he gathered the kindling while I stood there vigorously rubbing the injured spot and gaping like a fish. It felt like his handprint had been branded onto my buttock. “Y… you’re… you’re not serious?” I spluttered. That blond eyebrow rose a bit more. 
“Very. Is this how the slaver’s caught you unawares before?” My face heated and I found something fascinating on the ground wishing it would swallow me whole. “I thought so.”

Purchase Links

Amazon Author Page UK:

Author Bio

When I realised that the world was not hiring for a ‘sarcastic but benign Supreme Ruler of the Universe’ I’ve decided to focus on my passion. By day I work in a UK company’s finance department and by night I become my alter ego Scribble Girl or as my good friends have affectionately dubbed me the 'sex author'. Always armed with a notepad and pen in the black hole I call a handbag, I have been writing never-ending stories since the age of 11 and this all stemmed from my love of reading. 

I love reading. Period! 

I’m part of the Harry Potter generation and while waiting between books would literally devour any book I could get my hands on. Let’s put it this way J.K Rowling has a lot to answer for. I adore that there is no end in sight to where your own imagination can take you and that between the pages of a book you are transported to another world. 

Happy Reading! 

Stay Connected

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Reviews of my Favourites

I am terrible at writing reviews. I hold up my hands and admit it. I've been writing reviews for Sinfully for a while but apart from that my reviews are rarer than hen's teeth. Added to that, I would like more contact on my blog and I have decided to post some reviews of my favourite books past and present.

I'll start with one of my favourite series of all the mm stories I have read. The main character might have been written just for me (and I'm pretty sure I know who he's based on - the same person who was the inspiration for my book The Runaway)

The series is the "Haven Investigation" series by Lissa Kasey

Model Citizen

I don’t know if the idea of a genderfluid, androgynous model pairing up with a scarred veteran is wholly unique, but I haven’t come across it anywhere else. I loved the premise and I absolutely adored the book.

Ollie is no wilting flower, and whilst he does have a penchant for getting into trouble and needing rescuing, he’s definitely no damsel in distress. I love his sassy, independent attitude which covers a lot of broken bits. I also loved Kade, former marine invalided out after a serious injury, who was best friends with Ollie’s deceased brother, Nathan. 

Through Nathan, Kade watched Ollie grow and blossom, and fell in love with him a long time ago, through Nathan’s letters and photographs. He hasn’t approached because Nathan didn’t feel he was good enough for Ollie, but when Nathan finally gave the green light, just before he died, Kade is ready to sweep Ollie off his high-heels.

Neither character is low maintenance. Ollie's high heels and short shorts are only part of a character that is extremely complex and extremely damaged. He is neurotic, anorexic and highly defensive but, oh my Gods, he's amazing. I wish I had a friend just like him to take care of. Kade does his best but, at least in book one he doesn't know what he's let himself in for.

Trying to stop Ollie falling out of trees, Kade babies him too much and holds him to close. that doesn't go down well and there are sparks. The book ended with a cliffhanger that had me grinding my teeth. Clearly, this has to stand as a warning to some who don't like cliffhangers, but all four books are available that they are so worthwhile. If you enjoy the first book the series just gets better and better from there.

Model Bodyguard

I came into this book with a lot of expectations, and overall, I wasn’t disappointed. However, there were some flaws, which I will expand on later, once I’ve told you why you should definitely read this book, and this series. Most are minor and some would probably only be noticed by a grammar purist (with no clue as to punctuation) like me – the incorrect use of awhile is one of my bugbears.

The core stories are fairly generic. First is the rock star being stalked and needing a bodyguard who investigates and solves the mystery, and second the new boyfriend dealing with the ex being back on the scene bearing dark secrets from the past. However, the way these core stories are interwoven with each other and other story arcs that raise their tantalizing heads is anything but generic and are handled beautifully. I found the book, and the series so far, fresh and exciting in the way they re-seed old ground. Many characters skate close to stereotypes but all have definite twists toward the extraordinary.

There are elements of BDSM that weren’t there in the first book, but they’re very subtle and, for the most part, in the background. There’s a nice comparison between fairly hardcore BDSM done badly (and very much in the background) and elements brought thoughtfully and creatively in, to spice up a fairly vanilla relationship.

This leads nicely on to the sex scenes. I’m not one for reading sex very much and I often skim over it. However, I have to say that the sex in this book was integral to story, bringing out subtleties that make the overall experience richer, and I skimmed very little, if at all. There are only so many ways you can describe sex which is why I value all the little details around the act itself that gives it texture and flavour.

The book is not perfect, none are, because it’s impossible to please all the people all the time and reading is so subjective there will always be something someone doesn’t like. For me, the flaws are relatively small and did not detract from the pleasure of reading the story. They do, however, need to be mentioned.

The first book ended on a slight cliff-hanger, and this one on a bigger one. I don’t have problems with that per se, especially as it’s a series but – and this is not going to be an issue for those who read this as a standalone – I was slightly peeved that as far as the first cliff-hanger is concerned we’re a whole book on and still dangling in exactly the same position. In fact, the situation was barely mentioned. I would have liked just a little more discussion about that particular issue as it felt odd and wrong that it had just been completely ignored, especially as it made such an impact on everyone involved.

Another thing that irked me slightly was that the author seemed intent on bringing in as many different LGBT+ characters as she could – trans, bi, asexual, aromantic, genderqueer, genderfluid, gay – and it got to a point when it seemed forced.

This book is in no way froth. It is an easy read, but it deals sensitively with some weighty issues, such as mental health problems, suicide, eating disorders, trauma and PTSD. Some things I initially thought might be flaws later made perfect sense. For example, I thought initially that there was a little too much focus on Ollie being so beautiful. It was mentioned all the time and I didn’t think it was needed – until I came to realise what was going on inside. Then, it made perfect sense. There was one very touching scene

He didn’t see what I saw. I knew that. Both his therapist and his nutritionist reminded me of that often. Always when I complimented his beauty, I was to talk about things in a more abstract or general view than anything solid. A focussed comment like loving the way his ass was so round and firm could send him into a compulsion over the body part. Even small bits like his lashes or lips would have him searching out the nearest mirror, looking for flaws that were all in his head.

There were some places in the plot where I thought things were blown out of proportion and others where they were a little too underplayed. That being said, this is the case with most books because they are generally matters of personal taste.

On the whole, I couldn’t find much to complain about in a book that was fresh and complex but not to the point of confusion. I was able to keep the cast and plot clear in my mind from the start and there were enough surprises to keep me on the edge of my seat. Others might see the ending coming, but to me it was a big shock and very well done.

I heartily recommend this book, and this series to anyone who likes quirky characters, a lot of emotional depth and an intriguing story with only a smattering of extremely well written sex.

Model Investigator

This is the third instalment in the series and I would say it’s the best so far. I’m a bit skewed because I’ve read and enjoyed all the books, but I still think it might be readable as a standalone. The characters are clear enough to carry themselves, and although some past history is helpful, I don’t think it’s essential to keep everything straight and enjoy the book.

I’m so glad Jacob, the nutty pop star has stayed around. He has some things in common with a bad smell, but he’s very entertaining. I think the book would have lost some of its richness without him.
If there’s one thing this author can do, it’s to write unusual characters. Just about everyone is flawed in one way or another, some more than others. There have been more than one certifiably insane one, and this book has a doozy. No spoilers but, oh man that was some kind of crazy.

The plot in this book is easily as complex and twisting (twisted too) as the others, if not more so and I was at the edge of my seat more than once. There were one or two real nail-biting moments and the tension was high for more of the time than in the last two books, which I particularly enjoyed. Ollie took more control in this book and it added a lot to his appeal. He’s a great character and I love the way he’s developed. I particularly enjoy, in this book, that his motivations are being clarified, although it’s often a case of “just when I think I know where he’s coming from the direction shifts”.

Kade is, as always, a massive stabilizing influence, although he was almost too good, too calm, given all that was happening to him and those around him. I would have been a complete mess in his place and although I can understand his background is very different to mine, he comes over as a bit too resilient. He gets one blow after another – and they’re big blows – but doesn’t seem to have much trouble picking himself up. I would have liked to see him struggle a bit more (but that might be me because I like to see people suffer in books).

Each book has introduced new characters, but in a way that has enabled them to grow and develop naturally, and they’ve stuck around – like Jacob. I hope the new characters introduced in this one – even the ones that are not necessarily on the right side – stick around because I loved them on sight, so to speak. I would dearly like to get to know Kade’s screwed up family more.

If this book was going to be the last in the series I would have bitched about the ending. It’s not a cliffhanger by any means, but questions have been raised (and re raised) and not answered. As there is going to be one more book, that’s okay.

As with the others, I can highly recommend this book. It’s a fairly easy read and packed full of quirky characters, intricate mysteries, surprises and humour.

Model Exposure

I have loved every book in this series, and this one is no exception. With each of the others, I’ve assessed they might be read as standalones, although my judgement has become more skewed after each because of the background I’ve amassed, consciously and subconsciously, by reading them. This time, I’m not sure if it could be read as a standalone, and in any event why would you want to read it at a standalone when there are three amazing books to read before it? The author has done such a great job of building these characters through the books that I don’t think anyone stepping in at this point would have a chance of really understanding them and where they’re coming from.

Characterization is definitely one of this author’s greatest strengths. I love the way that all the characters, including peripherals (even villains), are built up layer by layer and always multi-faceted. One of my favourite “walk ons” in this book is Gabriel, and I know absolutely nothing about him, except that he’s a nurse. Even so, there’s a richness to the character – his words and actions, that round him out well enough to make him come alive for me.

In my last review, I mentioned that I was a little disappointed by how well Kade stood up to all the knocks. HAH! Be careful what you wish for with this author, her deliciously twisted mind will deliver and then some. Dammit, the man was tortured masterfully without anyone laying a finger on him. I have watched characters descend into madness before, but this was done so well I didn’t realize what was going on until it exploded in my face. For this alone the book gets .5*

As Kade went down, my delicious, darling Ollie rose up. Even though he had his own enormous knock-downs he continued to grow and although he ended up more battered and broken than ever he was even more perfect, despite the scars. I have to confess that I have been in love with Ollie since the first book. Back then, he was a neurotic, playful, funny, crazy, frustrating kitten. Over the course of four books he’s changed quite a lot. He’s still playful and funny. He still has a lot of issues. However, he’s far more stable than he has been before. In fact, in this book I would say he goes so far as to become the stabilizing factor for Kade. Ollie pulls a lot of wisdom and guidance from that pretty head of his and boy does Kade need it.

I’m happy to say, the rest of the gang, including Jacob, are still around, although by the end of this book some of the will be seen in a very different light. Be prepared for some super-shocks.

I have to admit, there were some niggles in this one. There were one or two occasions, mainly at the beginning when we were given the same information over and over and it became frustrating. It was valid, in so far as it came out of Kade’s head and was in line with his thought processes but I think from a reader’s viewpoint it got strained and I had one or two o.f.f.s moments.

Another niggle was that there were a couple of points where a character’s voice dipped into preacher mode (I forgive Sophie because hers was supposed to).  [spoiler alert: The big one for me was at the wedding, when Kade had already said he hadn’t even thought about preparing vows then says “Even should my heart ever stop beating, my soul will continue to yearn for you.” I really don’t think that’s something a hardened vet. would think let alone say.]

Finally, I feel there were still a few loose ends left dangling. Nothing that can’t be overlooked but I’m still puzzling over one or two things. Other than those niggles, the book was as good as ever, with a superb story, lots of twists and turns and surprises. There were some fantastic moments – good and bad – little snapshots or assides that absolutely blew me away. I LOVED the Alice in Wonderland party. Whether deliberate or not (and I suspect it was) there is definitely a strong “Wonderland” theme going on throughout the book.

I’m sad that the series has ended, but boy did it go out in style. Apart from the niggle I mentioned above about the characters slipping out of character, the last scene is utterly breath-taking, and I closed the book with a happy, if melancholic, sigh. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Interview with The Von

You've heard a lot of waffly by us about the boys (and Daisy) in the band but we thought it might be entertaining if you heard right from the horses' mouths. For better or worse. we decided to interview The Von

I know you probably get asked this a lot, but how did you guys get together?

Erik  It was all kinda karma ya know, Billy's been a drummer forever, so we kinda hung out and did the duet thing, then Joey showed me up on guitar, and it just all kinda fell into place

Billy: I've always been drawn to music, and my best friend being a singer, it seemed totally right. We hung out and like he said did the duet thing; and Joey and Daisy totally rock on their strings.

Joey: I met these two a couple years ago in the freshman talent contest. We'd hang out and kinda mess around, but didn't get serious until pretty recently. Daisy just joined.

Daisy: What can I say? We uprooted from a small town in the UK to this crazy place and I was kind of lost. Then I met Joey and my world lit up. (She drapes her arm around Joey’s neck and they bump foreheads)  He introduced me to the sweetest guy in the world and his kind-of-dumb, but rocking best friend and the rest is history. I love to play and to get to play with my best friends is like a dream come true.

So, why grunge?

Erik: Oh man, that's been my thing from the second I heard it. Kurt Cobain, dude. He was the bomb! I'd watch that video like a million times and got it all down by heart. Such a wreck.

Billy: Totally, I watched with you sometimes. The drummer was awesome.

Erik: Man, the vocals hit me bang on. So yeah, I've loved it from second one.

Billy: which got me into it, and here we are...grunge band reboot

Joey: I’m along for the ride. I’m not a particular fan of grunge, I love all kinds. (Shrugs) It’s all cool.

Daisy: I’m playing the long game. I’m going to get Erik singing pop before we end. (cracks up laughing at the expression on Erik’s face) Psyche!

Erik: Ha! Damn....Zeppelin? That would've been sweeet. Dude. Metallica? Any of those older classic rocks bands. I'm not sure about opening...

Billy: Dude, you are so a throwback. (rolls his eyes) no way. Alternative, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, hell I love Zeppelin too, if I could be like Bonham

Erik: I'd absolutely do anything with Nirvana

Billy: Natch. Me, I'm open. Hell, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert.

Joey: I'm down with that. Just lemme play guitar like Jimmy Page and we're alll good.

Daisy: Ah man, I’d kill to perform with Flyleaf, but I’ll take Katy Perry or Gaga. Maybe one day I’ll get to perform with Lily Allen but I’m not taking any of these scruffy dogs with me.

Erik: Hey!

(Daisy laughs and sticks her tongue out at him.  Erik punches her lightly on the shoulder)

Joey: Hey, hands off the lady, dude

(Daisy hugs him and kisses his nose.)

Daisy: Down boy. I love that I’ve got my very own guard dog
Joey: (Kissing Daisy on the lips) Woof Woof.

Who’s your celebrity crush?

Erik: Aw man… I’d say Brad Pitt. That Thor dude, too, Chris Hemsworth

Daisy: I have to agree on Chris Hemsworth. He’s smokin’ hot, but he’s funny too. A nice guy, not just pretty.

Erik: Gotta love that Nicole Kidman too. Her style rocks. I wouldn’t say no to a bit of that.

Daisy: (slaps his arm) Keep it clean, meathead. Besides, you're seeing my brother so I'm keeping my eye on you.

Erik: (rubs arm) Aw… okay, okay, whatever.

Billy: Sweet. For me I like redheads like me, so Dohmnall Gleeson, Ewen MacGregor

Joey: My Daisy is the only girl I see.

Daisy: (kissing Joey) Aw you’re so sweet. I’m so sorry, honey, but if Andy Biersack turns up and starts singing to me you won’t see my arse for dust. I know, I know, Black Veil Brides are Asher’s taste not mine, but wow that voice. I’m sure I could get him to sing just about anything I want. (She winks at Joey who mock pouts then grins)

What’s your dream?

Erik: Huge crowds of raving fans and filled stadiums!

Billy: Shocker! I'm good with huge crowds of fans too, the drummer is usually hidden, so I'm up for a little recognition. (gets elbowed in the arm) ok

Joey: Aw man, I'd love signing autographs, big cheesy smiles for photos, living the dream life with my buds and my babe, a lot of recognition. (smiles)

Daisy: For now I’ll just take being settled and happy. It’s been a tough couple of years and I just want to take a breath and play. Although…if things happen I’ll be just as happy to unsettle again, as long as it’s for the bright lights and big time.

Well, thank you everyone for answering so…er…honestly. It’s been very nice to meet The Von. Congratulations on your launch, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of you very soon.