Friday, March 31, 2017

We Marched Right Into Some Great Books This Month!

Cheers, everyone, and welcome to our Top Reads in the month of March! It’s hard to believe we’ve come to the end of another month—it seems like we were just here sharing our February picks—yet here we are with not only some great titles but a chance to win two e-books, so check out the Rafflecopter widget below for entry details.

And now, here they are, the Best of March!


JulesStrays by Garrett Leigh – “When I heard Leigh was writing a follow up to Misfits, I was beyond excited. Aside from loving the characters, I completely loved everything about the whole Urban Soul universe; so, I was looking forward to reading about the latest ventures the guys were going to be undertaking. My interest was piqued even further when I realized who one of the main characters would be. Nero was certainly intriguing as a secondary character, but I have to be honest—I had nooo idea how in love with him I was going to fall.”

BenThe Bisti Business by Don Travis – “One of my favorite aspects of this book was the plot. It was tight and pretty evenly paced. On the other side of that, there wasn’t a ton of character development or exploration into the side relationships established in book one. Despite being a minor character in this book, I wanted to see more of Del Dahlman, a hilarious fancy pants playboy who has sort of a unique friendship/business relationship with BJ. I would have also liked to see more of BJ’s boyfriend, Paul. Paul’s pretty simple and adorable, but I love how he brings out the softer—and sometimes harder!—sides to BJ. Maybe next time.”

LindseyPieces of Me by Melanie Hansen – “This is the start to what I hope will lead eventually to an epic HEA. Because after what I just read? I am cheering like a loon for Scott and Rylan. Even so, I readily admit this book will definitely not be for everyone. It’s tragic, heartbreaking and runs through a gamut of emotions I can barely even find appropriate superlatives to describe. There are happy moments, but for the most part both these young men are struggling, first as teenagers stuck in pretty abysmal situations, then as adults struggling to better themselves while carrying some pretty hefty baggage, which has molded them into a certain type of mentality and behaviors.”

MaryannThe Mystery of the Curiosities by C.S. Poe – “While Sebastian and Calvin are slowly but surely progressing with their relationship, they are also each dealing with their vulnerabilities—you can feel the fear that Sebastian has about losing Calvin. I really liked book one in this series, The Mystery of Nevermore, because I was familiar with Edgar Allan Poe, but with this sequel, the series gets even better. Max Ridley, Sebastian’s assistant, gets wrapped up in this mystery too, which I thought was fun because his character brings a lot of humor to the story. I was also intrigued because I knew of P.T. Barnum—the first thought when you hear the name is always the circus, but he brought us the “curiosities” too, which were bizarre, and it was interesting to see how C.S. Poe constructed a fantastic plot around them.”

CarrieThe Puritan Pirate by Jules Radcliffe – “I love a good pirate story and this one didn’t disappoint. The historical aspects are spot-on (at least, they seem that way), and learning about the politics of the time, as well as life aboard a privateer, was interesting. Radcliffe does an excellent job blending these “facts” with her romance between these men. The political intrigue only enhances her story, it doesn’t detract—actually, it makes her romance seem rooted in real life and we get transported to 1600s Tortuga. Radcliffe did her homework on this one. You can tell, and I appreciate that.”

SadonnaMoment of Fate by Karen Stivali – “Wow! I was really blown away by this story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first three books in this series, and I’ve yet to read book four even though I bought right when it was released. This story is so well written; although, if you’re not a fan of angst, you might have a tough go of it. Bryan has a lot going on and some of the crap that he has to deal with is pretty intense. He’s proud and a bit damaged.

Oliver is such a lovely guy, truly a good man who is so right for Bryan in pretty much every way. Together they have to overcome Bryan’s fear and tendency to protect himself at all costs.

This is truly a beautifully written love story between two pretty dissimilar guys who overcome the odds. Highly recommended, particularly for lovers of underdogs who grow and triumph.”

KimUntil You by TJ Klune – “Until You is the latest installment in this fun and wacky series, and I loved how it didn’t disappoint when it came to good old fashion belly laughs. Paul is perfect with all his doubts and insecurities, and I love his character because of it. The fact that he doesn’t have a perfect build just makes him all the more human to me. When he starts to wonder that Vince may have doubts about marrying him, it takes a visit to a supply closet to convince Paul beyond a doubt that Vince loves and wants to marry him (I won’t give details, but it was a scene that made me smile big and giggle a few times).”

SammyAdulting 101 by Lisa Henry – “Honestly, I loved this story—the walking magical disaster that is Nick was just so wonderful to get to know. He was honest to a fault (think word vomit with no filter), kindhearted, easily excited and undaunted despite his own penchant for lying to his parents to avoid really confronting them about his lack of enthusiasm for college and the life they want for him. The awkward and sometimes poignant distance between he and his Dad is cleverly concealed with humor, yet Lisa Henry allows small cracks and fissures to bleed through, making Nick so damn lovable and vulnerable. We watch him become a man in this story—well, we watch him begin to become a man, and not in the way you might think. He learns to give honesty a chance; he is wary to say the least, but in the end, it becomes his lifeline and enables him to step into a world that previously was unattainable to the panic-stricken youth he had been to this point. Honestly, he is just adorable and funny and really delightful to get to know.”

LisaParasite by Soren Summers – “One of the things that Soren Summers does with a consistent beauty is translate his narrative into gorgeous imagery. Even in its horrific and morbid portrayal, each zombie encounter is stunning in its terror and violence and the uncertainty of who will and won’t come out on the other side alive. It’s his ability to draw the reader in by the senses that makes these books so engrossing, and it’s not an exaggeration at all to say that I see the story as much as I read it. Jonathan Hargrove appearing on page is enough to send a chill down my spine—better the devil you know? In his case, the answer to that is a definitive not. He is a conundrum of deadly proportions and composed in creepy perfection, as is this book and this series.”


And that does it for this month. For full reviews of these books and more, visit us at The Novel Approach. Until next time, happy reading!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Day Makes: cover things, mob things, and love

So...I have a new book out, A Day Makes, on the 19th of April about a mob enforcer and it was pointed out to me that this is the second one I've written. First, in Acrobat, there was Dreo Fiore who was also in the mob. Here's the difference; Dreo was muscle, meaning he stood around, looking big and scary and keeping his boss safe. In the end, he wasn't so great at it, since his boss was killed in a hail of gunfire. Ceaton Mercer, the main character in A Day Makes, is a mob enforcer. Not muscle. Enforcer. Dreo never shot anyone while he was guarding his boss and only drew his weapon to scare people off. Normally, just having the gun in the holster, under his topcoat, was enough to keep people away. Ceaton, not so much. Ceaton  kills people.

I will confess that I find mob guys terribly romantic. It's ridiculous but I can't help it. And I know in real life, they're not but my views on organized crime members are grounded in the ideal of what they are and not who they are. The nightly news has no bearing on my fantasy. Dreo, in Acrobat, is the classic gorgeous Italian man. Ceaton is more a regular guy. He was a Marine, he's had to make choices that were not great and he's doing the best he can to be ethical in a situation where one would normally not find even a drop of such. He's a killer where Dreo was a guardian. I think there can be lots of debate about what we do vs. who we are. In a small way, it's the same question with Ian in my marshal series. The things that Ian has to do when he's in the field as a Green Beret, yes they weigh on his soul, but do they make him good or bad? I think arguments can be made on both sides. What I loved about writing Ceaton is that he goes out, tries to do the best for everyone, even his boss' enemies, and works to be fair and sometimes, if the situation calls for it, he has to kill people. And of course bad people, predators, get extra special attention.

For the cover, I didn't want another book with a guy and a gun and a city backdrop. I've had those. I also didn't want a drawn one because, in my opinion, the mold was broken with Warrior's Cross. It doesn't get any better than that so why try? I wanted the cover to focus on Ceaton's humanity, his beauty, and not as much on what he does for a living. The cover is basically in his love interest's POV so we see what Brinley sees in the man he loves. When Reese Dante sent me the art, I just loved it so much. You get the beautiful man at rest but once you read the book, you know he can gut you like a fish too.

I was really excited to write a one day scenario. Where you wake up in the morning feeling one way, thinking one way, and by the end of it, you are forever changed. That's what happens to Ceaton. And there is a lot of his past that needs to be in there, the why and how that make him who he is, but it's also in the love that finds him. It was funny but when I sent in my forms that you fill out after you get a contract, one of the questions is about the feel of the book, the tone. I said, bloody and fluffy. I would argue that these things are not always mutually exclusive.