Tag Archives: Crime Fiction

4.5 and 4 Stars for Shadows Fall by J.K. Hogan (AUTHOR INTERVIEW) #MM #Romance @JK_Hogan

ShadowsFall_FinalCoverRGB

Title: Shadows Fall
Author Name: J.K. Hogan
Publication Date: June 10, 2015

Synopsis

For him, the whole world is a graveyard…

A gift—or curse—gives Titus McGinty the unwanted ability to talk to ghosts. When he starts seeing the same few apparitions repeatedly, appearing with similar gruesome injuries, he begins to wonder what they want from him.

Detective Charlie Hale has a serial killer on his hands. On the loose for weeks, the Queen City Slayer has left the police nothing to go on, no forensic evidence other than what he wants found. The city is running out of time.

The crisis brings Titus and Charlie together—Titus stumbles upon a body and finds himself a suspect. Their budding romance is tested as they are sucked into a web of underground laboratories, restive spirits, and religious fanaticism. They’ll have to work together to find the identity of the killer before he takes his next victim…Titus.

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Review

FourandHalfStars

I really enjoyed this story. It was a pleasant surprise, because I find that I typically shy away from reading supernatural stories.  However, I loved this one.

Titus is such a gentle soul. His character is the caretaker of his friends, the fierce protector of his business and the one who helps those who cannot speak, be heard.  I also really loved his grandma.  I thought she added to the depth of Titus in a way that had she not been in the story – we would have lost a lot of his background.

I also really liked Charlie.  Superhero from the very beginning, his fierce protectiveness, loyalty and love/compassion that he shows Titus is something to be admired throughout the story.

The mystery part was awesome.  Despite the fact that I figured out the ending before it’s actual reveal, I was still happy when it finally came to light.  I love a good story with mystery and a “who did it” concept and this story did not disappoint.

I would definitely read more of Hogan in the future.

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FourStars

I really enjoyed this police procedural with a supernatural twist. The seemingly innocuous owner of a coffee shop, Titus’ gypsy heritage has given him the ability to see dead people. As Titus starts to fall for Charlie, a handsome cop and regular patron, he is able to use his supernatural abilities to aid Charlie’s hunt for a serial killer.

This story has all the quirky Southern charm of the early Charlaine Harris stories, and Titus has a good deal in common with Harris’ Harper Connolly. Hogan’s take on Southern Gothic is modern, but her characters are colourful and her murders are grizzly.

Both Titus and Charlie’s angst about being gay didn’t feel as modern as the rest of the story. I did like the way Hogan’s characters reacted as Charlie outed himself, and I enjoyed the way Titus’ grandmother developed over the course of the book. The relationship between Titus and Charlie was sweet – and pretty hot at times!

Hogan has set up a new series beautifully – I think Charlie and Titus will make a great team as they investigate more murders and I’d love to see more books in the series.

Sarah

Excerpt

I always hated walking home alone at night on the deserted city streets. But I couldn’t ask my employees to do something I was scared to do myself, so I’d taken the late shift. In the dark, the wandering dead became nothing but sliding shadows and hissing whispers. The phrase ‘jumping at shadows’ is apt, because there were things in the shadows.

Those things slithered around me, feeling much more insidious in the murky stillness of the nighttime city. Hands in my pockets, I gripped my four inch pocket knife that I always carried. Fat lot of good it would do me against mule, but there was a killer on the loose after all.

It was ill-advised, but I still blasted my music inside my headphones. I didn’t want to hear what the spirits had to say in gloam. I mostly kept my eyes glued to the sidewalk in front of me—don’t stand out, don’t make eye contact, make yourself invisible—but I cast glances all around my periphery to keep aware of my surroundings.

A tall, skinny man approached, heading toward me on the opposite side of the sidewalk. He wore dark jeans and a black hoodie with the hood pulled up, casting his face in shadow. I found that odd, as it was one of those warm, humid nights the Southern springtime was famous for. His dark eyes glittered at me from the empty void where his face should be, obviously a trick of the poor lighting.

As he passed me, he clipped my shoulder, throwing me off balance. I wanted to turn around and yell, but self-preservation intervened. I could probably take him in hand-to-hand, but he could be packing for all I knew. I put my head down and kept walking.

I yelped when a spirit appeared in front of me—unlike what movies and television showed, they didn’t usually just pop up. He was a young man, probably about my age, with pale skin, black hair, and eyes so blue they seemed otherworldly… and he was gorgeous. I blinked, hoping he’d disappear. No such luck.

He turned his head towards the building beside us that was being renovated, the entrance to which was blocked off with caution tape. Stretching out his left arm, he pointed to it, and I could see bone-deep gouges in his wrist and forearm. He glanced at me again. Look.

“Not tonight, okay?” I mumbled, trying to step around him. In the blink of an eye, he disappeared and rematerialized right in front of me. See!

“No,” I said, getting angry. I walked straight through him. Usually when I passed through a spirit, I just felt a slick, oily cold sliding through my body—but this burned like a vat of acid had been dumped over me. I screamed and fell to my knees.

He appeared in front of me again. As I looked up at him, still reeling from the pain, it occurred to me how new he must be. When a mulo first left its body, it still maintained some measure of its humanity. It was able to take and maintain a corporeal form more easily than the older spirits, and the ability faded with each day since its passing.

He pointed again and this time, his eyes took on a pleading quality. I could practically feel his anguish.

Struggling to my feet, I brushed myself off and sighed. “Fine, I’ll look. But then you need to leave me the hell alone. I ducked under the caution tape strung across the doorless entry of the run-down building. It was almost pitch black inside, but I got a vague sense of sawhorses and scaffolds. Tip-toeing for some inconceivable reason, I made my way into some kind of vestibule or foyer. I didn’t notice anything that this mulo would be so desperate for me to see, but I couldn’t really see much at all.

My foot hit something solid and I was afraid to go any further into the dark. Who knew what kind of hazards were strewn about the construction site. I dug out my iPhone and swiped it to turn on the flashlight app. A bright light shone out of the camera flash and illuminated the dusty room in front of me—and the man lying all too still on the floor.

I screamed for the second time in five minutes, stumbled back against a plastic-draped scaffolding and dropped my phone. I assumed it landed screen up, because the room was suddenly plunged back into darkness. With my skin crawling, I felt around on the floor for the hard case. Instead, I grabbed a cold leg.

“Holy God!” I shouted, scrambling backwards and sideways until my back hit a wall. My pulse pounded and my head was spinning with the urge to pass the fuck out, either from fright or hyperventilation. My muscles were on lockdown, frozen into that gray area between fight-or-flight, but I knew I had to find my phone so I could get the hell out of there.

And the body… I’d have to call someone. I poked around with the toe of my shoe, carefully avoiding the area of blackness where I thought the body was. Finally I felt the phone. I dragged it across the floor with my foot until I was able to pick it up. Everything was illuminated once again. “Oh thank God,” I said.

But once there was light, I could see him again. His head was turned to face away from me, but I knew that it was the guy from outside. Obviously he’d wanted me to find his body. It was laid out like a sacrifice, arms stretched out to reveal the deep cuts on his arms. I shivered. My brain was finally catching up to the situation, and I realized it was entirely possible that the killer could still be here.

I quickly got to my feet and lurched toward the dim light pooling at the doorway. As soon as I was out of there, I pressed my back up against the cool façade of the building and panted to catch my breath. I see the dead all the time, but I’d never actually seen a dead body before. I wasn’t sure what to do; the only thing I could think was call Charlie.

With shaking hands, I pulled up his number on my phone—I may have entered it from the business card he gave me after chasing Jay out of the shop. I pressed send and he picked up on the first ring.

“Hale.”

“Ch-Charlie?”

“Who’s this?”

“Titus.” My voice was shaking and I was embarrassingly close to tears. “I need help.”

“Tell me where you are and I’ll be right there.”

I rattled off my general location, already soothed by the sound of his voice, the confidence in it. “Please hurry,” I said.

“Stay put, I’m on my way.”

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5 and 4 Stars for Would I Lie to You? by Brad Vance #MM #BDSM @BradVanceAuthor

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Title: Would I Lie To You?
Author Name: Brad Vance?
Publication Date & Length: April 24, 2015 – 289 pgs

Synopsis

Software billionaire Marc Julian’s orderly life is shattered one night by a cyber-intrusion into his company’s servers. He’s always surrounded himself with the best people, but finding the culprit behind this might require a real expert…and sometimes it takes a thief to catch a thief.

Jesse Winchester and his team of “grey hat” hackers are suddenly available to Marc. Marc doesn’t know if he should trust Jesse with the keys to his company’s kingdom. After all, Jesse’s a convicted felon, sent to prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. A felon sentenced to thirty-five years in prison, who mysteriously served only three years before being released…

Marc’s first company, his whole life, was shattered because he trusted the wrong person. This time there’s even more at stake, but few other options. Especially when his evil enemies, the billionaire industrialist Krom brothers, are revealed to be the source of the intrusion.

Is Jesse there to help Marc, or does he have his own history with the Kroms, his own score to settle? As Jesse and Marc spend more time together, their growing intimacy is at war with their need to win their respective battles. Soon the game they start to play with each other, against each other, becomes more exciting, more exquisitely frustrating…and more dangerous.

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Review
FiveStars

I loved this story.  It was intricate, exciting, sexy and definitely made the reader tease out the puzzle.
My heart broke for Marcus.  I loved how innocent his character was at the beginning.  He held so much hope for his future, humanity – and despite his naivete, I still was so happy when he was able to salvage what he could of his life.  I absolutely loved his character – from the beginning.  Vance wrote such a complex character that sometimes, I had to go back and re-think about parts of the story.  But, I think that made it all that much more intriguing.  I loved his brilliance and his softer side. I also liked that Vance did not write the “typical” sub – he wrote a strong character – a sub who demanded that his Dom be strong enough to bend him.
Then you have Jesse.  He was an island unto himself.  Despite his less than conventional upbringing, his story was awesome.  I loved how he skirted the rules, loved how he learned to survive and really loved how he protected those he loved most.  The brilliance that he showed throughout the story just made me like him that much more.  And, when he and Marcus met – whew! You could feel the tension, the heat.  His thirst for revenge was so strong, it almost demanded release.  It took a very strong man to balance those feelings with teaching Jesse to savor.  I loved that aspect – that he wanted to savor his life, no matter how small the task.
This was an amazing story and even though I think it might have helped to know when the story switched from present to past, it did not take long to figure those chapters out.
I am hopeful that their story will continue, as I loved reading this one and would definitely read the next one and any others that came out by Brad Vance.  He wrote a thought provoking story with sex, love, betrayal and ultimately finding your true self.
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fourstars
Would I Lie To You by Brad Vance was a fantastic story revolving around the computer world.  Brad Vance did a great job of giving you the whole back story you needed to make this book complete.  I didn’t expect all the twists and turns that happened.

The characters were developed well.  Marc didn’t trust anyone, but I loved how Jesse found his way into his heart. It was great to see Ryan and Marc actually become friends. I liked the references to the computer team and all the magic they made happen with their keyboards.

This was a great read with a fantastic plot that draws you in.

Sherry

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4.5 stars for A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders #2) by Liv Olteano #MM #shifter #Paranormal

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Title: A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders: Case Two)
Author Name: Liv Olteano
Publication Date & Length: May 8, 2015 – 230pgs

Synopsis

Sequel to A Tooth for a Fang
Leader Murders: Case Two

Five dead leaders, their bodies arranged in a pentagram. Treason, lies, and backstabbing. A make-believe affair that turns into a real mating.

Timothy Sands is a PBI counselor, half-fey, half-elf, with a secret crush on Herman Weiss, PBI director. As a new chapter is added to the Leader Murders, it is Weiss’s responsibility to investigate what seems an impossible-to-solve case. The other problem? Weiss is suffering from rages, and his only salvation lies in Tim’s emotional-grid-balancing skills. They only have to pretend to be a couple for Tim to use his talents, and he owes Weiss a big favor. Piece of cake, right?

The fey might be involved in the Leader Murders. Someone on the Council might be their ally, and another prominent PBI figure looks more and more suspicious as they investigate. The stakes are upped when Timothy’s father, the Fey King, threatens to leave the Council destitute if they don’t hand Timothy over to him. Weiss’s brilliant solution? Mating Timothy and forcing the Council into protecting him.

There’s only one small hitch in that plan: instead of protecting one, the Council might decide to get rid of two.

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Review

FourandHalfStars

**Before I review, I do want to point out that this book (the first one, too, and I assume any further sequels will) deals with themes of intimate partner violence. That’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and some of it could be triggering or upsetting.**

This is the second book in the Leader Murders series. I loved the first one, so I was excited to read the next installment. It didn’t disappoint. It’s full of the same elements I loved the last time: suspense, mystery, action, and sizzling sex.

The world in which this is set is complex with a lot of rules for the interactions of various shifters and the people/groups under their influence. Most of this is explained more clearly in the first book, so I think without that some readers might be a bit lost in the first half or so of the second novel. The characters’ motivations don’t make as much sense without that back story.
At the start of the story, it’s hard to get a feel for exactly what sort of relationship Tim and Weiss have, professionally speaking. Tim’s in hard crush mode, but Weiss is such a jerk that it’s difficult to see why. That does become much more clear as the story progresses.

I appreciate how Ms. Olteano explores the fine line between the wolf pack dynamics and abuse. I usually have a mile-wide radar for anything non-consensual, but I liked how this played out. It’s clear that Tim is struggling with wanting a partner (specifically Weiss) who is dominating while also wanting his autonomy, and he fears both losing that and the strength of his own desires. I appreciate that the story takes some common shifter tropes (like forced mating and mind/emotional control) and bends them. The payoff at the end of the story is well worth the journey.

Overall, I like Ms. Olteano’s writing and I love her characters. I was thrilled to see many of my favorites back from the first book. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes and how the relationships develop.
~Amy

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Excerpt

He looked up, those gorgeous eyes focused on me like lasers. “Until we sort this out, Sands, you’re my new partner.”

No freaking way. “What?”

“You heard me,” he grumbled. “In case I get a rage, you have to be there to prevent me from lashing out. We both know you can, as fey.”

Of course he had to use the right word now that he was angling for something.

“And we both know I’m not allowed to,” I added, shaking my head. “The Fey Act prevents us from exercising our… special abilities on Council territory. Going against that would make me a criminal before the Council. I might like you alive, but I like me alive even more.”

Weiss stood to his full, impressive height and stepped close to me. I expected some sort of intimidation act. He was Weiss after all—that came to him naturally. His hulking shape loomed over me, his breathing becoming the only thing I could hear. I swallowed and fought the urge to run the hell out of there.

“Look up, Edelweiss,” he almost purred.

The tone was so incongruous with everything Weiss was that I did look up, wide-eyed. All the better, since him standing and me sitting gave me an almost cruel close-up with his crotch.

“There’s an exception from the Fey Act,” he said, grinning crookedly.

“What?” I screeched, shaking my head.

“Think about it, it would fit. You’d watch over my temper, make sure I won’t do anything I’d regret later. Buy me enough time to find out what’s going on,” he added, his gaze turning sad. This was just too much. “Is this a prank?” I asked incredulously. “You can’t be asking me to hook up.”

He grabbed my arms and pulled me to my feet. “Listen, Edel. If you report me, they’ll put me down. You know they will—it’s the law. The Council can’t afford to do me—of all people—any favors, not after Amanda. They won’t invest the time to look into it. What they will do is write it off as terminal rages and cap me. I’m not asking you to hook up. Just pretend that we’re together for a while… until we figure out what’s going on with me. If we can’t find anything that can be solved in a couple of weeks, I’ll go to the Council and turn myself in. Please,” he whispered.

“Do it for Alf at least, if not as a favor to me.”

I gulped. “That’s low, Weiss, bringing your seven-year-old into it.”

His gaze darkened. “If I get a rage when he’s around….” He trailed off and shook his head. “I’m asking you to prevent me from killing innocents. Begging isn’t my thing. But I am begging you to help me now. I’m that desperate.”

“Must be. Nobody ever comes through the door unless under dire circumstances,” I said flatly. “There are other fey around. You could hook up with one of them—for real. They’d level your emotional grid on instinct. Why do you need me?”

“Because I trust you,” he stated simply. “And so does the Council. Trusting someone new would be… difficult right now, for everyone.”

“I understand that, but if you got a fey to fall for you for real, then—”

“Then I’d make the same mistake I did with Amanda,” he said, looking down. “I may have been an idiot then, but I’d like to think I’ve learned some lessons from the whole fucking ordeal. You’re my only option, Sands.”

Weiss leaned in closer, too close. His scent invaded my lungs, the warmth of his body bringing sweat to my temples again. Blood pounded through my veins, the illusion I could somehow, by some miracle, get to touch his lips getting me high. I focused on my thoughts, ignoring my body. This was when it really mattered that I didn’t give myself away. This was when I had to stand my ground, not let my private desires get in the way of my ethics. Ethics were important for a therapist… but Weiss wrapped his arms around me slowly, as if giving me time to bolt. I didn’t try, I didn’t move… I didn’t even dare breathe, waiting to feel his arms close around me. I hated myself instantly for it, but after years of dreaming, and hoping, and stealing glances… the man of my hot, sweaty dreams was going to hold me.

“If I have to actually seduce you, then I will, Edel,” he whispered with a grin in his voice.

I flattened my lips. “Oh, because I’m that easy, you think?”

He chuckled in a self-deprecating way. “Because I’m that desperate.”

My heart broke a little. Of course he’d think seducing me was such a terrible task that he’d only resort to it out of sheer desperation. I tried to hide my hurt feelings, brush them under the carpet. I looked down, hoping my gaze wouldn’t give me away. “You’re not my type,” I stated coldly.

“You were Travis’s boyfriend for a while there, so I know you like the leader type.”

Shit, this was just what I needed. His mentioning Travis didn’t help at all with my conviction to not do this. I’d broken up with Travis because I’d realized I was actually pining away after Weiss the whole time Travis and I were together. Either Weiss knew, or his killer alpha instincts were pushing him in the right direction. If I balanced his emotions without us being a couple officially, the Council would find out. They had fey consultants to keep an eye out for anyone fiddling with emotional grids. They’d take me in, PBI counselor or not. And Weiss did have a point on the trust thing. He’d have to trust some stranger with a secret that would get him killed, were it to get out.

When alphas got terminal rages, it wasn’t treatable. Their hormones turned them into wild, senseless monsters—they had to be put down, for everyone’s sake. A raving mad Weiss would be even more dangerous than anyone. His family was known for their incredible genes and strength. The thought alone gave me the chills. If the Council got wind of this, they’d put him down—no doubt about it. I couldn’t, in good conscience, turn down his plan, not under these circumstances. Not when a seven-year-old kid—whose mom was going to be executed this week—depended on him.

Weiss was all Alf would have. I couldn’t allow the poor kid to become an orphan. Nobody would ever take in a Weiss alpha-to-be, and we all knew Alf had the alpha hormones. Weiss had gotten him tested. Only a matter of time before the kid reached adulthood and the hormones started flooding his system. I couldn’t just leave Weiss to his fate, not when he’d saved my life five years ago. Not when the thought of a world without him strangled me.

I looked up. “Don’t try to pull that crap with me. I’ll help you because, despite this bastard move of yours, you’re a good guy. I’ll help because you have a seven-year-old son who’s about to lose his mother, and you’re all he’s got.

I’ll do this because it’s scientifically interesting to explore the case. But don’t think you can sucker me into it with a grope or a fuck. I can help you right now because I’m half fey. That also means I know when you’re pretending…. I know what you feel as you’re feeling it. You can’t bullshit me, Weiss. And stop calling me Edel.”

He chuckled darkly and took two steps back, assessing me with more interest than he’d ever shown. “Well, go figure. Little Edel has some teeth of his own, and he knows how to bite.”

“I don’t think that pissing me off is what you should go for right now.”

“Maybe not. But it’s fun.”

“Get out of here, Weiss. Go home, think on this until tomorrow morning. If you’re set on going ahead with it, we’ll start this show then.”

He stuck his hands in his pockets and cocked his head to the side. “Oh, no. You’re coming home with me. Don’t look so stricken, we’ll just pretend to be a couple. But we won’t pretend the being together part. We are going to be together, all the time, from now until we figure this shit out. I can’t take the chance of a rage happening when I’m at home.”

I shivered. “You mean you want us to be nose to nose 24-7? Are you insane?”

He snorted. “I don’t think therapists are allowed to use the word. Not nose to nose literally, unless your magic trick requires it?”

“We don’t have to be too close, but in the same house for sure. I’m not strong enough to pull it off over long distances,” I begrudgingly admitted.

It wasn’t something to be proud of. The whole couple dispensation had been given in the Fey Act because being involved with someone made fey balance their lover’s emotional grid on reflex. We couldn’t really help doing it for our lovers—those we actually loved, to be precise. It didn’t matter where they were. But for a long-term singleton fey like me, it was a rusty skill to balance emotional grids. My balancing muscles were dusty and flappy from lack of use. The fact I had a crush on him did help, though I hoped he didn’t know about it. But it would still be hard work for me.

“There you go,” he said. “You’re coming home with me until we solve this shitty situation.”

“You mean you want us to actually live together while we’re pretending?”

He nodded.

“Starting tonight?” I asked in a faint voice.

He nodded again.

“It won’t look good. You’re still officially with Amanda, even if her execution is just around the corner.”

“You think anyone will be outraged because I’m betraying her? If anything, it will show my pack that I still have some sort of balls. They might start doubting that fact after what Amanda did. Besides, a mating is just like a human marriage. Putting an end to it officially is more of a technicality when it’s clear everything is over. It doesn’t keep some from moving on. It wouldn’t keep a werewolf alpha from moving on. It won’t.”

“You’re going to use a fling with me as proof of balls? Seriously?”

“Actually, I’ll be using it as my chance to keep breathing. But if my pack thinks I’m over Amanda, I certainly won’t mind it. Nobody will. And it won’t look like a fling at all.”

“Sweet flapping wings, what have I gotten myself into?” I muttered, shaking my head and looking at him.

“You’re saving my life, Sands. Shitting around aside, I’ll owe you big time. I’m sure it’ll come in handy to have the PBI director at your mercy,” he added.

I breathed out slowly. “Yeah… I can just picture you being at my mercy, totally in character for you.”

He laughed—loud, full, and rich. The sound made my heart jump in my throat, and I found myself shaking my head and smiling. I allowed warmth to spread through my heart for a moment. Looking on the bright side, I’d get to spend a lot of time with my crush. He was probably annoying, had smelly morning breath, and farted while he slept. After a week or two of that, I’d finally get over him. And I would earn a lot of favors from him in the long run, provided he didn’t end up dead during this experiment—and didn’t get me killed either. I knew just the thing his support would work wonders on. He wouldn’t like it, I was sure, but that was the funny part about favors: once you owed them, you had to deliver.

All I had to do was spend all of my time with a man I’d been fantasizing about for years, balance his emotional grid, and not give away my stupid crush. How hard could that be?

AuthorBio

Liv Olteano is a voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional.

She believes stories are the best kind of magic there is. And life would be horrible without magic. Her hobbies include losing herself in the minds and souls of characters, giving up countless nights of sleep to get to know said characters, and trying to introduce them to the world. Sometimes they appreciate her efforts. The process would probably go quicker if they’d bring her a cup of coffee now and then when stopping by. Characters—what can you do, right?

Liv has a penchant for quirky stories and is a reverent lover of diversity. She can be found loitering around the Internet at odd hours and being generally awkward and goofy at all times.

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Third Eye by Rick R. Reed – #MM Romance #Thriller #Mystery #Horror @rickrreed

Third_Eye_Final_Flat

Title: Third Eye
Author Name: Rick R. Reed
Publication Date & Length: November 11, 2014 – 264pgs

Synopsis

Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and his lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn’t sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl.

When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls’ parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the “third eye.”

Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between the two. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.

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Excerpt

Cayce was just about to put the paper aside when another article—and a familiar name in the byline—caught his eye. “Teenager Reported Missing,” by Dave Newton. It wasn’t so much the headline that got his attention but the picture of the young girl beneath it. Pretty. Long blonde hair. And disturbingly familiar.

Even though Fawcettville was a small town, the girl’s name, Lucy Plant, didn’t ring any bells. Perhaps Cayce had waited on her at the Elite, the diner where he worked. But still, no specific recollection came back. Cayce couldn’t visualize the girl sitting at the counter, nor at one of the booths.

And yet she looked so familiar, as if she were someone Cayce was friends with, or even a relative.

Cayce scanned the story. The girl had been reported missing by her mother yesterday afternoon, just before the storm that had caused such a turn in Cayce’s own life.

There were no clues. The girl, at least according to her mother, could not possibly have been a runaway. “Lucy’s a good girl,” Amy Plant had told Fawcettville police detective JT Simmons. “She wouldn’t even go down the block to visit a friend without telling us first.”

The last time anyone had seen Lucy Plant was when her mother looked outside the living room window. Lucy had been playing with her Barbie dolls on the front lawn.

Cayce closed his eyes. He remembered, suddenly, the storm coming, and not knowing where Luke was. He sympathized with the girl’s mother and the panic she must have felt when she couldn’t locate her daughter.

A ceiling fan. Beneath his closed lids, Cayce saw a ceiling fan. He didn’t know why. He didn’t own one himself, and the one in his parents’ living room was an entirely different model from this one, which was white, with a plain globe. His parents’ fan had four frosted-glass light fixtures and faux wood blades.

Cayce kept his eyes closed, watching the ceiling fan whirl, its blades blurring and becoming singular. There was something wrong with the fan. It didn’t work quite right.

Cayce felt nauseated and opened his eyes. His face was glazed with sweat. His stomach churned, and he was afraid he would vomit. Why was seeing a ceiling fan so disturbing? Or was this some sort of aftershock, an effect of his accident?

Cayce didn’t think so.

He glanced down at the face of Lucy Plant and sucked in some air. “Oh my God,” he whispered, “she’s dead.”

AuthorBio

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Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction.  Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

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4.5 Stars for Bad Things by Varian Krylov – #M/M Romance #BDSM

Bad Things

Title: Bad Things
Author Name: Varian Krylov
Publication Date & Length: September 15, 2014 – 410 pgs

Synopsis

Xavier makes a lot of people nervous. The rest, he flat-out scares. More than his hulking, tattooed body, it’s his predator’s gaze that makes people feel vulnerable, as if he had the power to read their thoughts and see their soul. For his lovers, it’s Xavier’s ravenous appetite for all things carnal—for the taste of flesh under his tongue and the feel of a trembling body under his control, for whispered pleas and muffled cries—that makes him dangerous.

But recently, driven by a festering rage against the men who attacked his sister a decade ago, Xavier has developed a taste for a different kind of hunt and conquest: stalking men who do truly bad things and punishing the predators he sniffs out. The problem with vigilante justice, though, is sometimes the man in your trap is innocent.

Carson suspects he’s playing a risky game with dangerous men. But the lies are convincing, especially when they’re slipped to him among hundred dollar bills. He never guessed how big and dark the secret hidden under all the lies and money could be. And he has no idea he’s not the predator, but the prey, until it’s too late.

And you can’t beg for mercy when there’s a gag in your mouth.

But when Carson escapes from Xavier’s trap, he’s forced to accept that Xavier is far from his most dangerous enemy. Xavier may even hold the key to overcoming the painful past that has kept Carson prisoner for almost two decades.

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AuthorInterview

First off, I’d like to say Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions so me and my readers can get to know a little bit more about you!

 

Thank you for inviting me!

 

Now for the hard part:

  • What motivated you to start writing?

I’ve been playing with words since my earliest memories—scribbling adventure stories that my mom would type up for me when I was five or six, filling dozens of notebooks with angsty poetry through my adolescence and early twenties.

Even so, I was shocked when I wrote my first novel, Abduction, and this massive story emerged from my imagination, because I’d never written anything longer than a few pages, and had always thought I was too fickle to stick with one narrative long enough to write a four hundred page novel. But the nucleus of Abduction was a fantasy I’d had for years, so it was already elaborately developed, and once I started putting it on the page, it just flowed out of me. And it was incredibly satisfying, making those characters and their encounters concrete with written words—it almost felt like enchanted alchemy, making the phantoms in my head ‘real.’

  • Who or what is your biggest inspiration for writing?

This is an agonizing issue. When I was in my early twenties, I actually stopped writing poetry because I thought my writing was terrible compared to the poets I admired. These days, I work pretty hard to be inspired by beautiful writing, without eroding my confidence by comparing myself too much to my favorite authors. That said, I was directly influenced by Roberto Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives, which is narrated by a series of first-person accounts, which inspired me to try writing something in first person. The result was Dangerously Happy. Dostoyevksy, Gogol and Bulkakov are all longstanding favorites, but these days I’m diving into a lot of Latin American literature. In addition to Bolaño, I love Julio Cortazar, Mario Vargas Llosa and Ricardo Piglia. I love novels that address serious societal issues via a fascinating story, rather than clubbing you over the head with a message. I’d love to get my writing to the point where I could manage to create a less literal story. Something a bit surreal.

  • What is your writing environment? (Where do you write, what do you do to prepare right before you start writing)

Where I write depends on my mood. Sometimes I thrive on a little bit of chaos, so I’ll take my laptop to a cafe so I can be out and around people. Other times, though, I need quiet to focus, so I’ll work at home. I don’t have a designated space for writing—sometimes I’ll work at the dining table, sometimes I curl up on the couch. I need a little variety—if I set up an office, I’d be sick of it after a week.

I don’t do much outlining or other formal preparation. Usually I sit or lie around with my eyes closed, and daydream the scene I’m about to write, playing with lines of dialog, choregraphy, and the feelings that will come out during the scene, etc. It’s a very intuitive process—when I feel threads from other parts of the story coming together, or get the rush of fear or arousal as I pit the characters against each other in my mind, I rush back to my laptop and try to get that intensity from my imagination down in words.

  • What is the hardest part of a book for you? Any particular scene(s)?

Writing the ending is always the most challenging. I struggle to get the balance between bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion, where the issues the characters have been struggling with are meaningfully resolved, and where they reach a place of safety within their lives and their relationships. But once the real conflicts in the story have been overcome, things lose steam quickly so I try not to dally forever, either, for fear of boring myself and everyone who’s reading.

  • If you only could write in one genre, what would it be? And if you couldn’t write in that genre what genre would you pick next?

I’m going to be rebellious, here, and say that I don’t think much about genre. I write the stories that I feel compelled to write, and then wedge them into a category for marketing purposes.

  • If you could spend a day with one author, who would it be and why?

Roberto Bolano, if we could resurrect him, because he was innovative and exciting in his approach to form and technique, but even more because his ideas about society and violence fascinate me, and because I get the feeling he was a delightfully odd and mischievous person.

  • What do you like to see in book reviews? What makes a review better than other ones to you?

I prefer reviews that offer a bit of analysis, as opposed to reviews that are mostly a synopsis of the story, Usually there’s already a blurb out there and we don’t need another plot re-hash, but it’s fascinating to see how differently the same story affects different people, and the unique interpretations different readers make.

  • If you could give one tip to new writers, what would it be?

Write what excites you, not what you think is going to be popular.

  • How do you make hard decisions with your books? Like the title of the book or some of the characters actions?

These creative choices are all down to intuition and gut instinct. I usually start ‘auditioning’ titles from the moment I begin the first draft, until I land on one that feels apt and hopefully a little provocative. Until I have the right one, the test titles always just rub me the wrong way when I see them, so I know I have to keep searching.

Character actions usually happen organically once the story is in progress—with every dialogue, every action, every internal monologue, I get to know the characters better, and their conflicts, reconciliations, and affinities develop almost outside of my control. At least it feels that way, when the writing is going well.

  • If you could only use 4 words to describe yourself, what would they be?
    1. Lost in my imagination.

 

Thank you for your time! I wish you much success as an author!!!

Thank you for welcoming me!

Review

FourandHalfStars

4.5 Stars

I was given this book for an honest review from Inked Rainbow Reads.
I felt that the blurb about this book is slightly misleading. I thought this book was about revenge and hate. This book is so much more than that. I feel that this story should come with a warning that there is some questionable consent given during some of the sex scenes.
The story begins on a path of revenge and then morphs in to a story about self discovery and love. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the characters that Krylov creates. Despite a few issues with the development of the characters and the fact that I was somewhat confused as to the relationship among all of them, I really liked each of the “good” characters and really hated the “bad” ones. Each character had their own quirks that added to the story. Even the danger that the bad characters portray in their personalities is very clear to the reader in how the author describes their actions and exressions.  I would have liked to see more background about Aidan and Dario’s relationship to Xavier, but overall, they definitely added to the story.
I felt that Krylov really was able to pull the emotional heart strings in this story. I was able to feel all of the emotions that each character was wading through. The author was able to truly capture past pain, current pain and eventually envelope the reader and characters in hope.
This book turned in to a wonderful read, if even at the beginning, it started out like a completely different story, with a completely different feel. The transition between the two “sections” – beginning and middle/end was a little choppy in terms of what I imagine the author was trying to convey versus what I thought was being portrayed in terms of what the story was supposed to be about and the overall tone, but in the end, even with the change in type of story I was reading, I really enjoyed it.
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SmashWords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/467815

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AuthorBio

Since her girlhood in a sunny coastal town in California, Varian Krylov has nurtured a love of words and a curiosity about the deep, dark forces at work in human nature, especially sexuality, and how they often paradoxically twine with our tenderest impulses. Her stories tend to explore the sometimes fine line between what arouses, and what frightens, what we’re driven to, and what we’re ashamed of.

As witty and seductive as I am sarcastic and self-deprecating, I spend as much time as possible thinking and writing about sex. No, not dense, inscrutable post-feminist texts on media representations of gender and the body–that was grad school. I write stories–short stories, novels, and starting a few weeks ago, screenplays–most of which poke and prod and the dark little corners of human sexuality. In a sense, nothing’s taboo, anymore. There’s no act, no fetish that hasn’t been made utterly banal in the proliferation of porn. What intrigues and excites me is the exploration of the conflicting impulses, the twisted psychology and turbulent emotions of people who find themselves unable to resist desires that lie beyond their own moral boundaries.

SocialLinks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/varian.krylov
Author’s Website: http://variansfiction.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VarianKrylov

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