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Piper’s Reading Roundup: June – August

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again. With traveling and being ill, I missed posting my reading roundup the last few months. I’m now going to rectify that, just in case anyone actually follows these posts. 😛

These are the books I read and enjoyed throughout June, July, and August. 🙂

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Dragon Slayer by Isabella Carter – This book had everything I love. Great characters, UST (unresolved sexual tension), dragons, solid, engaging writing, and a believable arranged/forced marriage romance. Good stuff. (And don’t just take my word for it! It was a 2014 Lambda Literary Award finalist, so that should tell you something too.) I can’t wait for book 2, which I know the author is working on now.

Seducing Stephen by Bonnie Dee & Summer Devon – As I’ve said before, Dee and Devon are one of my favorite author match-ups. I’m never disappointed in their stories. I always love the characters and root for them and this was certainly no exception. Recommended for the historical fans out there, if you haven’t read it yet.

Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell – I loved this book, and well, I’ve already said it all in my Goodreads review, so check that out if you want to know my reasons. Suffice it to say, if you like your contemporary romance with some grit and lots of sexual intensity, you will enjoy this book.

Tail Slide by PD Singer – This was a fun little read about an otter shifter who likes to snowboard and the guy he meets while shredding powder on his favorite mountain. Very cute.

Yours, Johnny by Hollis Shiloh – I’m a big fan of Hollis Shiloh. Generally, her stories don’t have a high heat content, so if that’s what you seek, Shiloh might not be the author for you. However, if you don’t mind non-explicit or low-sex stories, Shiloh might be right up your alley. She has a great style, and this one was touching and bittersweet. I enjoyed it immensely.

Where There’s Smoke by Nico Jaye – Sweet, cute, smufftastic! There’s a firefighter and a kitty. What more could you ask for?

Claiming His Mate by Lissa Ford – This is book #1 in Ford’s Rogue Alpha series, and fair warning, it’s not a complete story. You have to read all 3 books to get their entire arc. If you don’t mind that and you like shifters, enemies to lovers, military/special ops elements, and locked-in-a-cabin-together scenarios, you’ll probably enjoy this.

FREEBIES

All of the stories below are part of the M/M Romance Groups’s “Love is an Open Road” event, which means you can download them all for free

The Frat Brat by Nico Jaye – More smuff (smutty fluff)! This was short and sexy with very light D/s elements. Frat boys, car washes, wet T-shirts, and a multicultural couple… is it getting hot in here?

Salvaging Toby’s Heart by Lexi Ander – Tentacles, people. TENTACLES. And a great hero in the form of Sol. Lexi rocks, and I love the world she created here (and I say we need more stories in this world!).

The Downs by Kim Fielding – Well, it’s Kim, and make no bones about it, she’s one of my favorite authors in this genre. This story lives up to everything I’ve come to expect from Kim — vivid characters, excellent world-building, and the sort of writing I can’t find any fault with. Highly recommended!

Bare-Knuckle Love by KA Merikan – This story. I’ve read a couple of Merikan shorties before this, so I’m familiar with their darker style, and frankly, I loved that they didn’t pull any punches with this story (pun intended). I mean, we’re talking about a motorcycle gang member — leader, actually — and an MMA style fighter. No one should be expecting tenderness or whirlwind romance. This story is gritty, dirty, violent, and intense. It’s also hot as hell. I loved it.

Above All Else by Dayton Idoni – More dragons! Enemies to lovers in a fantasy setting. This was sweet, very unique, and it’s non-explicit for those who prefer that. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think the cover reflects the story well.

Wolf’s Honor by Laylah Hunter – This was very short and I was left wanting more — in a good way. I could have easily read a full length novel about these characters. We had a character with a traumatic past, some hurt/comfort, an alpha worthy of running a pack, and well, the rutting and knotting certainly didn’t hurt. 😉 I think I need to go reread it…

Moondrop by Katey Hawthorne – I loved this story! It was sweet and sexy. I loved the world, the tone, the characters, and the writing. It’s urban fantasy/paranormal and definitely not a hot and smutty fast-paced affair, but I was swept away by it and I’d love to read another story in this universe.

MFM

Reawakening (Forever Dead) by Charlotte Stein – Now, I realize most readers who follow this blog might strictly read M/M but I couldn’t leave this book out of this post because it was just that awesome. In the wake of a zombie apocalypse, June finds herself saved by two very different men and falls in love with them both. This had horror, humor, and everything I’d expect from a zombie romance, along with a couple of damaged heroes and some seriously steamy sex. I mean… I was blown away and I desperately wish we could see more of their story, though the author has no plans to write another story for these three characters. This went on my “to reread” pile the moment I finished it.

And that’s all, she wrote! What have you read and loved recently? I’m always looking for recs!

Lexi Ander talks About: Taming Tristan, Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

 

 Taming Tristan

 

I would like to thank Piper for hosting me today. I’m taking you for a fun behind the scenes look at the making of Twin Flames.

With the re-release of Twin Flames we went through a new round of edits. It gave me a chance to fix some things that had been nagging me. My writing had improved over the last two years and the flaws were glaring (at least to me).

The other thing I loved was having another editor look it over. With her help, we tamed Tristan, toning down his overly dramatic moments.

Twin Flames Fact: My husband helped me to edit Twin Flames and Songs of the Earth. I’m pretty sure he did it out of pity. ^_^

If you read this past Saturday’s blog post, you already know I admitted that I was at an angsty moment when I first penned Clean Break. Now a couple of years later, I cringed when reading certain parts but I wasn’t sure if I should change them. If I did I wasn’t sure how much.

Thankfully my editor took the bull by the horns and we worked to tone down Tristan’s drama queen moments, giving him a more adult reaction to the situation. It works so much better now and I no longer sit and wonder—”OMG, what was I thinking?”—anymore.

I did have to listen to my husband repeat, “I told you so,” a time or twelve. While we edited, he had a few choice words over Tristan’s antics. Don’t tell my husband I revealed this… but he likes Diego from Ruby Red Booty Shorts & A Louisville Slugger. Like really likes. *raises eyebrow* He thinks Diego is bad@ss and has on more than one occasion held up Diego to Tristan just to show how much he thinks Tristan is lacking. You have no idea how many time he suggests I write all my main characters like Diego. I had to tell him to go write his own book. ^_^

Tristan isn’t anything like Diego. He’s a hothead, at times clueless, unsophisticated, says what’s on his mind—even though he shouldn’t, loyal to his marrow, loves with all his being, and when he decides to do something he gives it his all. He’s an individual and he’s allowed to be different. The tweaking of Tristan didn’t change these things about him, only enhanced who he was. I think the changes made his sorrow and pain more gripping, more poignant to read.

Thank you for stopping by today! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway and identify today’s Twin Flames fun fact. Enjoy the excerpt and I’ll see you tomorrow!

 

Blurb:

A Lycan descendant of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Tristan is not as extraordinary as his ancestors. He is an average warrior, unremarkable throughout. But this fact does not trouble him because he has found his Twin Flame, the one person destined to be his, who will love him unconditionally, life after life.

Then his Flame betrays him, leaving him shattered and dying. Brokenhearted, Tristan dissolves the sacred bond and leaves. His best friend, Ushna, accompanies him, vowing to guard and protect him, and Tristan slowly comes to realize that love does not require a sacred bond.

But if he hopes to keep the love he chooses, they will first have to survive ancient secrets, lies, mythical creatures, and the return of absent gods…
Available in both paperback and ebook.

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble (paperback only until 10/1): 

Add Twin Flames to your GoodReads TBR

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Twin Flames (Sumeria's Sons, #1)

Excerpt:

My elbow was grasped in a hard grip, and Ushna whispered harshly into my ear, “It’s time to go home.”

This was new. I raised my hand to wave bye to Randy and the guys as Ushna jerked me out the door. The drive home was tense and quiet, but I waited to see where this would go. The closer we got to the house with nothing said, well, let me just say I was cussing up a storm in my head.As I got out of the truck, Ushna grabbed me by the arm, again. “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

He was angry, angrier than I ever remembered seeing him. His lips were pressed into a thin line, his eyes sparked with fire, and the tension came off his body in waves. Only a fool would miss the signs.

“What do you think I’m doing, Ushna?”

“The hell if I know anymore, Tristan. You’re walking around here practically naked, shaking your ass at anyone who will look. Getting groped all over the dance floor by those women―was there a woman who didn’t put her number in your pocket? I’ve never known you to act like a slut before.” Ushna said the last with so much disgust it stung.

And I thought I didn’t have any pride.

I stepped closer to him and looked up into the green eyes that I loved. “I wasn’t shaking my ass just for anyone, Ushna. I was shaking it for you, you fool.”

With both hands, I grabbed his hair, pulled his face down, and kissed him like I’d wanted to kiss him all this past week. I kissed him as if it was the only kiss I’d ever get from him, because I knew now, he didn’t want me, not like I wanted him, so this was the only kiss I was going to get. I made it good. I savored his lips, tasted him, and tried to memorize him.

When I pulled away, I glanced at his round, shocked eyes. I gave him my best crooked smile and a friendly pat on the shoulder, attempting to convey without words that I was sorry and everything would be all right. I didn’t think I could’ve spoken at that moment, so I turned around and sprinted up the steps into the house.

I didn’t go to my bedroom, because I didn’t want to be in the house, so I strode straight out the back door, shedding my clothes as I went. The screen slammed shut right before I submitted to the wolf.

Disappointment and sorrow overwhelmed me, and I needed to run off the emotion as much as I could before returning back to the ranch. I’d known there was a possibility Ushna didn’t see me as anything more than a friend. I’d hoped for more, I’d gambled on it and lost. As I chased stringy jack rabbits, I attempted to convince myself it was okay. I didn’t have to have Ushna in my bed to love him. I’d love him any way he’d let me. So I hunted rabbits and chased a coyote out of my territory. I rolled in the dirt, snagging a burr or two in my fur that took forever to scratch out before I headed home.

Ushna waited for me on the porch. He was leaning against the frame of the back door, his face in shadow, arms crossed over his chest. It was a good thing I’d brought a peace offering; I dropped the rabbit at his feet.

Padding to the door, I hoped he’d open it for me because I really didn’t want to talk to him right now. As far as I was concerned, breakfast was early enough for the discussion. But he didn’t move, making it plain that if I wanted to go in, then I’d have to change back.

Transforming into my human form, I opened my eyes, crouched naked on the porch. I’d never wanted to cover up my body more than I did in that moment. Feeling vulnerable and exposed, Ushna stared as I stood and went to the door. I was determined to get to the relative safety of my room.

“Tristan, I didn’t know… ”

I interrupted him. I really, really didn’t want to have this discussion now, when the pain of his rejection was still so close to the surface. “It’s fine. We’re fine, it’s okay.” I reached for the door knob and Ushna grabbed my hand.

“Damn it, would you stop for a minute,” he growled.

All right then, we would have a chat now. I pulled in a breath and looked up at Ushna. “Okay.”

“I didn’t know you were trying to get my attention. You’ve always shied away from touching me, so I didn’t think you’d ever be interested, I thought there was something about me… ”

“No, Ushna, it wasn’t you. Any touch hurt. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. You have to know I’d do anything for you.” My chest hurt, but I refused to reach up and rub it.

“Is that what this is, you doing something for me?” His voice was low, guttural, his eyes searching my face.

“Goddess, no,” I breathed, taking a step closer to him, my hand still in his as the other reached for his waist. “This is me wanting to love you.”

This time he kissed me. No, he didn’t simply kiss me. He devoured me, and Goddess help me, I let him.

 

Author Bio:
Lexi has always been an avid
reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances
(the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who
would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote
her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their
reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with
her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Lexi Ander – “Mixing Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Is It Still Sci-Fi?”

A big thank you to Piper for having me on the blog today! I wanted to talk a bit about blending genres. I see it all time when I’m looking at publisher calls for submissions. The more an author blends genres into the story the better. I love it. To write a vampire BDSM dystopia would be awesome but there are some who would rather read a single genre. Adding BDSM to a shifter story may not be their cup of tea because they feel it takes some of the realism out of the BDSM. I totally get it because I don’t like mixing shifters with sports themes. Sometimes, adding one genre overshadows the other genre.

If you’ve read Alpha Trine, you know that I blend Sci-fi with mythology elements. What I had used of mythology didn’t fall into fantasy, but when I was writing Striker I agonized over adding the Mar’Sani triplets. Over the years, I’ve heard some science fiction enthusiast insinuate that adding fantasy elements to a sci-fi story removes it from the science fiction genre. They believe the addition of fantasy elements cheapens a sci-fi story because both cannot co-exist. One is factual and the other is not.

So I’m sitting there staring at the screen wondering if I could write the scene without bringing the triplets into play, the GyrFalconi navigator, Axis, was throwing a fit that I was even considering leaving the triplets. His hissy fit was distracting, to the point that I couldn’t think. I traded emails with a friend. Tossed the idea about some more. I took a walk with my husband and spilled all of my worries. Would readers still consider the story science fiction if I added the fantasy elements that I wanted. Would it make the story less or add to it as I had planned? It was such a small element for a tiny part of the story.

The answer from both of them—after listening to me go on and on forever—was, “It’s your story. Do whatever the hell you want.” It’s sort of awesome that my husband and my friends don’t beat around the bush. (On a side note, if I was angst-ing over such a small issue, can you image the bigger ones?? ^_^ )

I did add the Mar’Sani triplets, the feared and revered Chimera assassins. No they don’t play a huge part in Striker, but they have the potential to be bigger characters in a future volume. Plus Axis is really happy about it. I’m considering writing a free short for just him, IF I find the time.

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I hope you enjoyed this peek into the Valespia-verse and found it to be informative, insightful, and fun. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

Striker

 

BLURB: The peaceful respite for which Zeus and his intended, Dargon and Alpha, had been hoping is shattered when Zeus is unexpectedly drawn to the Waters of Poseidon and told that the safety they’ve been promised is a trap. But the Fal’Amoric aren’t the only important cargo on the Oethra 7, and countless others are depending on the success of their mission. If Zeus hopes to break the silent siege on Valespia and protect those most precious to him, he will need not just powerful allies but the fortitude to survive overwhelming odds.

 

EXCERPT:

 

The view of the night sky alleviated his momentary doubt and confirmed where he was drifting. A blanket of midnight blue covered the heavens, bedecked with the brilliant points of stars shining like precious jewels. The primary moon sat fat and heavy with a red sliver of the secondary moon peeking out the side, reminding people that two moons hung in the Atlaintician sky. The pale white glow of the primary caused the waters to appear slick and black. Zeus awakened floating on the warm Waters of Poseidon. He did not know how he came to be there but instinct, or possibly his deep need for home, identified where he was; the waters surrounding him soothed his longing.

He searched for his sister, Shaneva. Only she brought him to the Waters of Poseidon. As one who was born with the Longing, the waters became her home when she turned fifteen summers. Strangely, the waters appeared empty of people. Both times he had been called here other souls floated nearby, not close enough to disturb them but silhouettes drifting in the distance nonetheless.

“Shaneva sleeps this night.”

Treading water, he turned toward the masculine voice. Not an arm’s length away swam a male unlike any Mar’Sani Zeus had ever seen. Zeus had never met a being as visually intriguing. Something nagged at him. He had never seen the male before, but the voice stirred old memories he wished to forget, haunting his darkest dreams. Since none had met with harm while dreaming of Poseidon’s waters, Zeus momentarily put aside his anxiety and studied the being before him.

The Mar’Sani’s body was covered in a combination of yellow, leathery skin and prominent green scales rimmed with a vibrant blue-green. The scale’s pattern resembled sharp tipped stripes flowing down his neck, arms, and what Zeus could see of his back. Stunning large green reptilian eyes stared at Zeus from between long thick eyelashes. Zeus decided the face of the being appeared much like his own, with a small nose and wide full mouth. When the male smiled, his teeth were sharp but did not resemble the needle-like ones of Zeus’s family. A thick ridge above the brow supported a spiked crest which rose a couple of centimeters tall in the front, increasing in size to as much as six centimeters at the back of his crown. A deep red membrane made an arching bridge between each spike, giving the strange impression of a royal coronet.

“Why am I here? Shaneva only brings me here when I’m injured.” Zeus’s frowned in thought. “There is nothing wrong with me.”

The male grinned. “As I am well aware. You found your life partners and soon will be a father. Congratulations, brother.”

Warm affection blossomed in his chest at the thought of Dargon and Alpha. Zeus’s fingertips skirted the edge of the dark green dot on his forehead that proclaimed him a part of an Alpha Trine and allowed him to communicate with Alpha, Dargon’s symbiote.

“You called me brother.” He searched the face before him, looking for but not seeing anything familiar. The voice though; the sound niggled at his memory and yet he could not place the countenance.

“All in good time.” The male flashed his sharp teeth, humor lighting his green eyes. “I did bring you here for a reason. You need to warn our brothers they are heading into a trap. The space over Valespia is no longer safe.”

“What do you mean? What waits there?” Zeus asked in alarm. How did he know where they were heading? Zeus should be suspicious of anyone other than the crew of The Gorgon or the Oethra 7 knowing their destination. And yet, the sense of familiarity, the knowing that came from his gut caused him to want to trust his male because—brother—did he dare to hope?

The male continued, unaware of Zeus’s inner turmoil. “What indeed. V’Saar are slipping through the defense grid near the Milky Way and they have partnered with one of the four Terren companies.”

The V’Saar, commonly called bugs, voraciously consumed all in their path, and should be trapped behind a grid built by the Ancients because the. A long ago treaty reinforced an uneasy truce between the Ancients and the V’Saar queen, Isolt. The Valespian Pact brought together the peoples of the galaxies on this side of the grid, requiring a triad of galactic emperors to power the grid keeping the V’Saar from overrunning the galaxies and destroying more innocent lives. But the galactic royals were old, causing the grid to weaken in places as their power waned. The control of the grid should have passed to the crown princes, allowing the next generation’s youth and vitality to renew the shields, but the third crown prince, the Bespoken, had disappeared.

Zeus moved to float on his back as he turned the information over, the sky lightening with the colors of the coming dawn. For some reason he trusted the male next to him, who seemed more than simply a strange Mar’Sani. If what he said was true then the V’Saar had gained allies and Valespia lay under siege.

The male rested in the water next to him. “The V’Saar destroy or enslave all races they encounter. Why then have they not overrun the human’s solar system? You and our brothers will need to puzzle out the answer. What I do know is you need to seek the Feteine’s help. If you decline to do so … no, you must. With their assistance, you can survive what will occur when you reach Valespian space.”

Zeus turned to the male and stared hard, his heart squeezed with sudden recognition. He now recalled where he had heard the voice before. Many years ago, when he had been thirteen summers, Shaneva brought him for the first time to the Waters of Poseidon in an attempted to save him as he suffered at the hands of Chtichlians. After being attacked and seriously injured, his father had insisted on repairing his blindness. But the Chtichlians used the procedure to steal something far more precious to him than his sight. Shaneva had not been alone. A male had accompanied her. Certain of his identification, Zeus slid his fingers through Canry’s slightly webbed ones, careful of the wickedly sharp claws.

Zeus’s hesitancy to trust the information given to him slipped away. “Is there anything else I should do?”

Canry drew in a shuddering breath. “You believe me?”

“Of course, you are our brother.” Zeus shook with barely controlled elation. He could not wait to tell his brothers and parents.

The sun kissed the edge of the ocean, washing the sky with brilliant shades of red and orange. “A storm is coming.” Zeus glanced at Canry who echoed his words.

“You are more sensitive than you know, Zeus. If you must fight on land, find a pool of water. It can be as small as the size of my palm. Submerge your fingers and call my name. I will come to your aid. Promise me you will.” It was less a question than a demand.

He moved to tread water once again. “What do you see?” Zeus suspected Canry was touched by Poseidon. He may have more information that would help Zeus on this quest to seek out the Feteine, or provide assistance on how to navigate Valespian space safely.

 

~*~

Attached is the blog tour schedule. Striker’s release date is Wednesday, June 4th at Less Than Three Press (http://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_bookx_info&cPath=95&products_id=616)

The giveaway ends at midnight, June 7th. Enter at Rafflecopter for a chance at a Kindle Fire HD or a paperback copy of Striker!

 

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June 1st – Hearts On Fire Reviews (http://heartsonfirereviews.com/) Striker: The next leg of the journey, Atlainticia, the Ancients, and Alpha

June 2nd – Ethan Stone (http://www.ethanjstone.com/) The Makings of a Warrior

June 3rd – Prism Book Alliance (http://www.prismbookalliance.com/) Antiheroes

June 4th – GGR Reviews (http://www.ggr-review.com/) You Sunk My Battle Ship!

June 5th – Piper Vaughn (https://pipervaughn.wordpress.com/) Mixing Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Is It Still Sci-Fi?

June 6th – Read The Rainbow (http://readtherainbow.weebly.com/) Building Valespia-Verse, What Readers Don’t See

June 7th – Allison Cassatta (http://allisoncassatta.blogspot.com/) Fal’Amorics, The Galaxies Best Kept Secret.

 

~*~

 

Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

 

Web site: http://www.lexiander.com/index.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexi.ander.9

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LexiAnder1

Blog: http://lexiander.blogspot.com/

E-mail: lexi.ander.author@gmail.com

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6521302.Lexi_Ander

Booklikes: http://lexiander9.booklikes.com/

Tumblr: http://lexiander.tumblr.com/

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