Maroon: Donal agus Jimmy by PD Singer

Title: Maroon: Donal agus Jimmy
Author: PD Singer
Publisher: Torquere Press
Pages: 73
Characters: Donal Gallagher, Jimmy Healy
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Historical Romance
Kisses: 5


The best jobs in 1911 Belfast are in the shipyards, but Donal Gallagher’s pay packet at Harland and Wolff doesn’t stretch far enough. He needs to find someone to share his rented room; fellow ship-builder Jimmy Healy’s bright smile and need for lodgings inspire Donal to offer. But how will he sleep, lying scant feet away from Jimmy? It seems Jimmy’s a restless sleeper, too, lying so near to Donal…

In a volatile political climate, building marine boilers and armed insurrection are strangely connected. Jimmy faces an uneasy choice: flee to America or risk turning gunrunner for Home Rule activists. He thinks he’s found the perfect answer to keep himself and his Donal safe, but shoveling coal on a luxury liner is an invitation to fate.


I’ve loved everything I’ve read by PD Singer, but I’ve got to say that she has outdone herself with Maroon: Donal agus Jimmy, the story of two Northern Irishmen who helped craft the great ships that once sailed the oceans, connecting continents and carrying men, women, and children to America in pursuit of the dream.

This story is set against the backdrop of a country divided between the Protestants and the Catholics, between those whose desire it was to become independent of British rule and those who remained loyal to the crown. It is the story of two men who meet and fall in love, though that love was one that would always remain private, between only the two of them— To be discovered would be their ruin, but to be together, to dream of a future with each other, is worth the risk. When those dreams of the future include the possibility of journeying to America, Jimmy sets sail upon the unsinkable Titanic, where, on one ill-fated night, more than 1500 souls learned the whims of fortune care nothing for the dreams of mere mortals.

Maroon: Donal agus Jimmy is a story that draws you in quietly, setting the tone for a lovely romance between two charming men who seem destined to have met, who seem fated to be together. As it progresses, however, once PD Singer has lulled the reader into a sense of false security, she turns the tide and grabs you by the heartstrings, then propels you to the end in pitch perfect timing.

This is a story that packs a lot of emotion into its seventy-three pages, pages that melted away, word by word, as I fell for Donal and Jimmy.

Reviewed By: Lisa


It’s Not An Interview With The Vampire. But It Is An Interview With Damian Serbu.

Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today, Damian. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Thank you for inviting me to participate! I read this website regularly for the reviews, commentaries, and discussions, so it’s fun to participate in this way. As for my background, I have a doctorate in history and teach college level courses. Writing my horror novels is my second career/passion. I started writing fiction as an outlet, because I had all of this creative energy and all of these ideas that wanted to escape. I live in the Chicago area with my partner of 19 years and two dogs. The dogs are actually in charge. They secretly help with writing my novels, too.

When did you discover your passion for writing? Was there someone in particular who encouraged and inspired your love of storytelling?

I think that I always had a passion for writing. My mother loves to tell the story that I made up stories in preschool and had the teachers write them down for me, so that I could come home to share them with everyone. I doubt they had anything to do with gay horror or romance! But I’m sure they were brilliant.  But through high school and graduate school, I focused on history and thus true stories. It was toward the end of graduate school that I began dabbling in the fiction side of things and putting those stories and dreams to paper. I think that I was inspired by Anne Rice more than anyone. Her ability to tell a story with vampires and witches but that seemed so real and heartfelt really spoke to me.

Your upcoming release, The Vampire’s Quest, is the long awaited, much anticipated follow up to The Vampire’s Angel. Would you set up the premise of the series, then maybe give your readers a small taste of what they might expect from your vampires, Xavier and Thomas?

The series follows the lives of a group of primarily gay vampires, particularly Xavier and Thomas, who came together during the French Revolution. I don’t want to steal the thunder from my first novel, The Vampire’s Angel, if you haven’t read it! But they went through a long and difficult courtship before ending up together.

The sequel takes up a few decades after that, with Xavier called by an archangel to go on a quest; this quest, however, mandates that Xavier break the laws of vampires without immunity from the Vampire Council, who will sanction him if they catch him. This includes the possibility of a death sentence. This quest forces Xavier to hide from Thomas, because Thomas would never allow him to go such a dangerous mission. Thomas searches the globe for Xavier and gets their best friend, Anthony, to help him, but it’s complicated because Anthony is on the Vampire Council. Xavier has to get his aging sister (not a vampire) to go with him to help.

How did you come up with the idea for this series?

I have always loved vampires, and how you can mix horror and romance within their lives. They allow you to play with eternal life, and it makes it easy to give them a lot of wealth, so money doesn’t complicate things! When I wrote The Vampire’s Angel, I set it during the French Revolution because that’s one of my favorite periods to study. I had no idea that it would become a series, until after I published it and the second story came to me. I wanted to see how Xavier would react if he ever came into contact with slavery in America before the Civil War. Now, I am almost done with the first draft of the third book in the series. It’s taken on a life of its own, which is really exciting to me.

Is there a message you hope readers will take away from the books?

I want them to find their own message, you know? It’s always dangerous to me for an author to throw out their idea or hope for the novel, and then readers only look for it. A beautiful thing about literature is the inspiration for creativity and imagination that it inspires in each and every reader’s unique sense of the world, the story itself, and for each character. That being said, all of my novels focus on relationships, love, and family. That is certainly central to The Vampire’s Angel. The Vampire’s Quest still has the relationship element but infuses a heavy dose about true friendship.

Outside of the fact that these men are vampires, do you feel they resemble you or people you know, in any way?

Ha! “All characters are completely fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental.” I have to make that disclaimer or my brother always thinks the characters are about him. Seriously, I avoid making any one character a complete representation of someone that I know – but they are often conglomerates of people. For example: Catherine, Xavier’s sister, is a combination of three or four people in my life. Xavier and Thomas are actually different sides of me, with other unique characteristics mixed it. Anthony has a lot of my spouse, Paul, in him.

Were you able to draw at all upon any of your own life experiences when writing the books?

Of course! Thus far, the series is set in the past, thus relying on my academic training. And I always have personal experiences, feelings, and emotions that play into what I write. I think it’s the best way to impassion your writing and make it feel real. Especially with ghosts and vampires, you need that connection to reality so it doesn’t get too far out there. My second novel, Secrets in the Attic, very much relied upon my coming of age and coming out experiences, because the main character, Jaret, is going through that.

Do you typically outline your plots before you begin the writing process, or do you write in a more freestyle fashion?

I’m too anal retentive not to have an outline. 🙂 The “freestyling” happens once I establish the outline and get lost in the story. For example, there’s a new vampire in the second book, Harriet. In the outline, she was in one scene briefly and then disappears. But she came to life and demanded a spot, to the point that she became an important figure. She’ll even be in future novels now!

What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received with respect to the art of writing? How did it change the way you approach your craft?

Two things that I can think of were crucial for me to learn. One: carve out consistent time to write. You just have to keep at it. Even when you’re really busy and working a “real” job or jobs, you need time every week to stay with your story or stories. Two, you have to share it with people along the way, and then – most importantly – accept their suggestions and criticisms. Nothing is perfect the first time around. Yeah, it’s your baby and you should be proud of it. But you’re not Moses and these aren’t the ten commandments from a burning bush! Edit. Make it stronger. Listen to others.

What is the question you’re most frequently asked by your fans?

Actually, the one that you asked above. They always want to know if the characters are based on actual people or if I just make them up.

What is your most memorable fan experience?

I did a book promotion in Denver last summer at a bar during Drag Queen Bingo. I’m pretty shy, so it was a whole thing just for my sister, who had arranged for my participation in it, to get me to go on stage and be there in front of everyone! But the guy who won the copy of The Vampire’s Angel was so excited that he had won, and nervous to come over and get it from me while I personalized it. It broke my heart in a way. I’m thinking, I’m just Damian, a gay writer. It was very touching and sweet.

When you have the chance to sit down and enjoy some quiet reading time, what sorts of books are you most likely to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?

My fun reading is mostly horror, and specifically gay horror at that. Because my job is to read and study history, my fun reading is to get away from history completely. Anne Rice is my hero. Then I like Rick R. Reed, Greg Herren, Michael Schiefelbein, and Gregory Maguire. Bart Yates has written wonderful novels, too. Plus, I have been totally captivated by Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series. I swoon through the whole book every time!!

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies?

Hobbies: hanging with my dogs, jogging, spending quality time with friends, reading, and watching professional sports. Paul has turned me into a wine snob, too, so we enjoy a very good wine from time to time.

If time travel were possible, what time period(s) would you most like to visit? Why?

Probably the late 1700s because there were so many amazing and brilliant people around. But, and this is a big but, I’d need something to keep my nose constantly plugged because I’m overly sensitive to bad smells.

If you had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with one famous person, either past or present, who would you choose and why?

Cher! My favorite singer. I know, how gay is that? But that would be fabulous. Or Mika. He’s my new favorite singer. If it was a dead person, it would have to be Eleanor Roosevelt. I very much admire her life and dedication to making the world better. Even with her flaws and mistakes, she stands out as someone who tried to do the right thing and put personal triumph or prejudices aside for the betterment of humankind.

How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

I LOVE laughing. Almost everything makes me laugh. I tend to be sarcastic. Making fun of right-wing nuts is always good for a chuckle. The hallmark of a good friendship for me is that I sit with the people I love and we just laugh a lot. I am drawn to people like that. Life is serious enough and will bring its ups and downs, so along the way enjoy it – laugh!!

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Bad breath. Whew. And selfish people in general, who get so lost in their own little world, they can’t see how they affect others with what they say or do.

Do you have a favorite personal mantra, quote, or saying that describes your outlook on life and the way you approach each day?

My best friend, Dave, always quotes his mother: “This ain’t a dress rehearsal.” That pretty much sums it up. Have fun. Live life to the fullest. I also learned that from my uncle, who died of lung cancer a year after he retired. All through his life, he took time to do the things he loved. It made a difference for him and all of us as he was dying. Don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly depressing and deeply sad. But there was a sense of peace that he hadn’t waited to the end to do all these things he wanted to do. He had tried to do them as he went along. Embrace the people, challenges, and realities around you each and every day. Strive for a sense of calm, and do the things that you want to do. Make them happen.

Do you speak more than one language? If so, which one(s)?

Oh my, no. I am terrible with languages. I desperately wish that I could speak another language. It’d have to be French. I have reading knowledge of German because I had to learn it in graduate school. But that’s it.

Of all the modern conveniences, which one would you most likely say you couldn’t live without?

What’s modern? I’m a historian, remember. So central heat and air conditioning. 🙂 More modern – the computer. I love getting my news from it and how much it enhances the writing process.

What’s next? Do you have any other works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?

Oh yeah! My publisher just picked up my fourth novel, Dark Sorcerer Threatening, which is tentatively scheduled for publication this November. It’s a romance/thriller/horror novel, set in the distant past within a secret kingdom of men who love men. And I am getting ready to submit to Regal Crest the third in the Vampire’s Angel Series in a month or so – The Vampire’s Witch. Finally, I just started a book that has pirates in it. Arr, matey.

Thanks again for spending some time with us, Damian. It’s been great having you with us. Will you tell us where we can find you on the Internet?

My Website

And we’d love if you’d consider sharing a favorite excerpt from one of your books with us.

Sure! How about a passage from The Vampire’s Quest. I find this scene moving and painful in its articulation of friendship. Xavier’s dear friend, Anne, is dying after being tricked by a demon. She was trying to save her grandson, who had been captured into slavery but got tricked instead:

Xavier believed every word that Anne told him. She never lied or made things up. If Anne told him she had this interaction with a demon, then it happened. It sent shivers down his spine.

“Oh, my friend, was I stupid. I should have known that a desperate person gets tricked by the demon. Happens every time. I just so needed to save Duncan. I said yes, too quickly, I said yes. The minute I uttered the word, the spirits that I had saved from the black realm soared away, crying in agony as the demon took possession of them. I screamed at him to uphold his part of the bargain. He stalked back to me, black as night except for those burning eyes, and smirked. ‘Slavery. They took him to slavery. He’s safe and sound now in the South.’

“And he disappeared. I screamed again at him. I desperately sought to get him back. But we had made a bargain, and I had foolishly accepted it. All these years, I refused the black magic. All the care I ever took not to get involved. In one stupid moment of desperation I let it all get away from me. Gone were the spirits I protected, and I glanced down at that moment to see this emaciated body. He had kept his promise to tell me what happened, but it did me no good. It meant nothing.” Anne stopped talking as she labored to breath, sweating now from the painful memories.

“So you called for me.” Xavier sat beside his friend, who nodded her head slightly.

“I’m so sorry,” Anne whispered. “You know how I feel about such things. I don’t expect you to do it. I don’t need repayment for anything I ever did for you, it’s not about that. It’s just-” Anne drifted off, crying.

“It’s just that you were desperate.” Anne nodded her agreement. “And friends never abandon each other. Ever. I’ll find him.”

As if finally hearing what she needed, Anne’s hand went limp in Xavier’s. Her open eyes stared into the vacant night, and the fire went out completely. A chilled breeze blew under the bridge, carrying with it the unsavory smell of death.

Peek-a-Boo (Josh of the Damned, #2) by Andrea Speed

Title: Peek-a-Boo (Josh of the Damned, #2)
Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 12
Characters: Josh Caplan, Sasquatch, Colin
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Urban Fantasy
Kisses: 5


As night-shift clerk at the go-to Quik-Mart for monsters with the munchies, Josh Caplan believes he’s seen it all. Battling lizard men, werewolves chasing cars in the parking lot . . . nothing fazes Josh anymore.
Or so he thinks, at least, until a yeti with poor communication skills drops a dead skunk on the checkout counter. Josh can’t figure what a living, breathing shag carpet wants with him, or why it won’t leave him alone no matter how hard he ignores it. But hey, at least it seems harmless . . . if perhaps a little slow on the draw.
But Sasquatch is plenty fast when two of Josh’s human customers try to out-monster the monsters. Times are strange when creatures from the hell portal save the day, but in the protective hands of a lovesick yeti and a sexy vampire boyfriend, Josh realizes that maybe his new normal isn’t so bad after all.


Oh, Andrea Speed, you make me laugh. And you kinda make me want to cry too. Twelve pages? Seriously? This was like a drive by shot to the funny bone. I barely had time to realize I’d been hit before Josh and Colin and the skunky, ‘shroomy rug monster said TTFN. This world is too fabulous to take in small doses, but, oh well, I’ll take it however you want to serve it up.

Flash fiction is far out when it’s populated by some of the most awesome monsters ever. In this installment it’s the human creatures Josh has to watch out for, though. Being courted by a yeti and having a gorgeous vampire boyfriend are nothing compared to being held at gunpoint and getting pistol whipped. Josh should get hazard pay.

These tasty little word-bites are like the scent of the popcorn at a movie theater: a yummy temptation that’s virtually impossible to resist, so why try?

Reviewed By: Lisa


A Quik-Mart Employee’s Handy Guide to Monsters – Andrea Speed Style – And There’s A Giveaway Too!!

So you’re working the night shift. Congratulations! As you may know, some Quik-Marts have their own special challenges, so we put together this handy reference guide to help you give the best in customer service, no matter who – or what – your customer is. Remembers – monsters are customers too, and you should treat them accordingly.

Apemen – A rarely seen creature, you may see them around Halloween. Generally quiet and well mannered despite looking like lowland gorillas, they generally buy flea collars and Laffy Taffy. Make no sudden moves around them! You may need to remind them of our “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy in a calm, quiet voice.

Fairies – Rumored to exist, none have actually been seen by former and current staff members. Supposedly small, humanoid, and winged. Some are said to be grumpy. Buying preferences unknown.

Giant Hamsters – These are probably not actual hamsters, but they appear to be a relative. They can be anywhere from sixteen feet high to forty feet or so, with droppings large enough to crush a Humvee. Terribly cute, they have a tendency to smell like feet and will eat everything in their path, from cars to buildings to trees and people. If one does show up, your best bet is to scare them away is fire and/or cats. They also seem to be scared of Bjork’s music.

Lizard Men (a/k/a Reptilians) – Not known to speak any language we recognize, they are generally the most polite of creatures, and have a tendency to leave change, so we assume they don’t have pockets in their wardrobes. (Management would appreciate it if you put the change in the “take a penny, leave a penny” tray.) They like salty snacks. Please don’t ask what gender they are – it is considered rude. (This is also true for the apemen.)

“Squids” – Another rumored species, this one is supposedly vaguely humanoid creatures with tentacles and squid-like heads. Very dangerous! If ever seen, shutting down the store is advisable. To date, none have made a verified appearance.

Vampires – Generally human in appearance, you usually can’t tell them apart from normal humans unless they want you to, although it has been said they’re generally super-magnetic and extremely charming. Their buying habits are unknown.

Werewolves – For some reason, this species prefers hanging out in the parking lot and chasing cars. It’s unknown if they come into the store in human form. It’s said they’re people that smell like wet dogs, but this is unconfirmed. They are carnivores, but in non-human form they also have a penchant for going through garbage, so lock the Dumpster if possible. Them only coming out during full moons is a myth, so keep the Dumpsters locked every night. You might want to keep Febreeze on hand for the pervasive scent of pee. Dislike silver.

Zombies – Dead humans that have been re-animated by unknown means, they have never been known to be violent towards regular people on Quik-Mart property. They can be in some state of decay, and pieces of a zombie have been known to fall off, ranging in size from skin clumps to entire limbs. If this should happen in the store, it’s best if you wait until the zombie leaves before cleaning up, as there is no reason to embarrass a customer. In the winter, if it’s especially cold, pieces might break off, and they may seem slower than usual. This is normal. Zombies generally only buy frozen burritos, so have lots on hand. Since their vocal cords are as decayed as the rest of them, they can’t talk, and you shouldn’t engage them in conversation.

Yeti/Sasquatch – It’s unknown if these are a separate species or the same species with different colored fur. They are rather large and hairy, and their “conversation” is limited to grunts and what might be considered burps. They seem to hang around the parking lot and rarely venture in, leading some to speculate they eat werewolves. Little is known about these large, strong creatures, and they are best avoided if at all possible.

If you encounter any creatures not listed here, please send their description (include photo if possible) to the head office, along with any notable details (smell, buying preferences, anything fellow clerks should know). Thank you for working at Quik-Mart Industries, your work away from home.

Note: Quik-Mart Industries only exists in the world of Josh of the Damned. If you encounter any of these creatures in real life, you may need to adjust your medication and/or get some medication.

Here’s the blurb from Pretty Monsters:

Josh knew the night shift at the Quik-Mart would be full of freaks and geeks—and that was before the hell portal opened in the parking lot. Still, he likes to think he can roll with things. Sure, the zombies make a mess sometimes, but at least they never reach for anything more threatening than frozen burritos.

Besides, it’s not all lizard-monsters and the walking dead. There’s also the mysterious hottie with the sly red lips and a taste for sweets.

Josh has had the hots for Hot Guy since the moment he laid eyes on him, and it seems Hot Guy might be sweet on Josh too. Now if only Josh could figure out whether that’s a good thing, a bad thing, or something in between. After all, with a hell vortex just a stone’s throw away, Josh has learned to take nothing at face value—even if it’s a very, very pretty face.

This title is #1 of the Josh of the Damned series. Read an excerpt and purchase Pretty Monsters.

Here’s the Blurb from Peek-A-Boo:

As night-shift clerk at the go-to Quik-Mart for monsters with the munchies, Josh Caplan believes he’s seen it all. Battling lizard men, werewolves chasing cars in the parking lot . . . nothing fazes Josh anymore.

Or so he thinks, at least, until a yeti with poor communication skills drops a dead skunk on the checkout counter. Josh can’t figure what a living, breathing shag carpet wants with him, or why it won’t leave him alone no matter how hard he ignores it. But hey, at least it seems harmless . . . if perhaps a little slow on the draw.

But Sasquatch is plenty fast when two of Josh’s human customers try to out-monster the monsters. Times are strange when creatures from the hell portal save the day, but in the protective hands of a lovesick yeti and a sexy vampire boyfriend, Josh realizes that maybe his new normal isn’t so bad after all.

Peek-A-Boo is the second in the Josh of the Damned series. Read an excerpt and purchase Peek-A-Boo.

Redemption Reef

Ready for the contest info?! Just send an email with your answer and Top2Bottom Reviews in the subject line to:

QUESTION: What two things does the yeti try to give Josh?

Simple, but you’ll have to have read the story first.

And if you get the answer right, you’ll be entered for the chance to win Andrea’s “Infected” ebook collection!

Andrea will hold the drawing at the end of the Blog Tour and the winner will be notified via email.

Good Luck!

Flamingo by Sarah Black

Title: Flamingo
Author: Sarah Black
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 42
Characters: William, Tommy
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary/May-December Romance
Kisses: 4


Gentle and shy, William has lived life on the sidelines. Solitude and his tiny bookshop have been a safe haven, and he’s watched New York evolve from Stonewall to the gay marriage bill. At 61, he falls in love with Tommy, a young veteran going to school on the GI Bill. William doesn’t believe Tommy could possibly care for him, and he begins to fear that Tommy and his troubled roommate Marley are setting him up for a heartbreaking fall. When Tommy disappears, William has to risk leaving his safe haven and walking into danger, maybe into betrayal, to save the boy he loves.


Sixty-one year old William has spent a good portion of his life as a near recluse, taking sanctuary in the bookshop he opened in 1971, a mere couple of years after the Stonewall uprising that brought the gay rights movement out of the closet and into the social consciousness.

Having been passed over in the Vietnam draft because of his homosexuality, William’s father strongly urges him to leave their small Ohio town for New York City, where William might find others who are like him. It was the painful denial of father to son that helps to shape William’s isolation and reinforce his fears, but he made the move and eventually found his passion amongst the bricks and mortar and pages of his shop, where he carves out a small living space in the back.

Tommy is the young man who disrupts the quietude of William’s life. Going to school on the GI Bill that barely keeps him financially afloat, Tommy fosters a friendship with the much older William, connecting through the beauty of poetry and the love of the written word. Tommy and William forge an unlikely bond with each other, a friendship and a respect for each other that transcends their differences but for William also underlines them. How could a man forty years his junior—beautiful, intelligent, vibrant—possibly want to be with him? It is a culmination of all his doubts and repression that he has cultivated over the years that keep William from seeing the truth—that love cannot be defined or neatly compartmentalized into right or wrong.

Feeling as obsolete as the ink and paper books he surrounds himself with, William believes his love for Tommy could never be reciprocated; he believes that he is nothing more than a warm and comfortable place for Tommy to land when the young man needs the security and comfort William can offer. But, through the magic of words, Tommy opens up and attempts to show William how he truly feels, though sometimes words are not enough, and it’s the actions that must speak to the heart.

Flamingo is a beautifully understated story, intimate in its feelings rather than in actions. This is one of those stories that embraced me emotionally in a subtle way. Its quiet and simple message—that love is a risk, and that the real danger in life may come from never taking that risk—was shown through two characters I loved spending some time with.

Reviewed By: Lisa


Inheritance by Lissa Kasey

Title: Inheritance (Dominion One)
Author: Lissa Kasey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 169
Characters: Serian, Gabe, and Jamie
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Paranormal
Kisses: 5


As the only male studying magic in a female-dominant society, Seiran Rou’s life is already on a precarious perch. Then he finds a dead co-worker on his doorstep, and Sei realizes someone is trying to set him up for the fall. It could be anyone—including his own mother, a powerful witch and leader of the Dominion, the ruling body of elemental magic.

Sei’s only saving graces are his on-again, off-again vampire boyfriend, Gabe, and the mysterious Jamie, who wants to help him for reasons Sei doesn’t understand. They may be all that stand between Sei and the Dominion’s demands to control his magic. One man’s devotion could be the key to save Sei’s life and pull him back from the brink of losing his humanity to the magic he possesses.


I have to say that I’ve read many shifter books this past year and all of them have their own upsides and such making them different but the same, now in saying that I must say that this particular story reaches above most simply because of the characters. A writer’s characters can make or break a story and in this particular one, the writer created three characters so true to life that I almost wish I could meet them and share a cup of coffee with them and take Seiran into my arms and protect him, even from himself. That’s how good of a job Lissa did here.

The story told in two main books, really needed another one prior to this one to fully explain what in the world was going on in Sei’s world. We learn here he’s a male witch and the only witch attending a college meant for witches and the like, but the catch here is that this particular school is very much a woman’s college. Sei is one of very few male witches enrolled in the school therefore he’s the target of some pretty awful pranks by the female witches on campus. They take bullying to a new level let me tell you.

The character Sei is absolutely adorable. I have fallen totally in love with him, no matter how messed up on the inside he says he is, and he is, of that I have no doubt. It has a lot to do with how his mother treated him all his life because he was born a he and not a she, and I’m thinking this is a female controlled underworld of some sort. This poor boy was abused by his mother who is the head of the Dominion or something like that and no one goes against her, not even the law officials. She has done some wicked things to him, he cowers before her and tries so hard to win her love and affection but no matter what he does, he manages to disappoint her at each turn.

In college he’s picked on so badly that he eventually moves off campus into his own place and when the job he took manages to break him, in a sense that he is harassed so badly doesn’t work out he goes to his Vampire lover, Gabe, who owns a club for a job. Gabe hires him and things work out very well for him there but he still is unable to escape his mothers wrath, even with Gabe there to protect him. Sei seems to think he’s not worthy of love in any form, but sex is a whole different thing for him, and he uses that with Gabe, not realizing how much Gabe loves him truly.

So much happens within the pages of this story that you can’t stop turning the pages looking for more, yet not wanting to know more. I was so torn for the characters in this book. The plot set up is done wonderfully, the characters so well fleshed out that I loved or hated them, the description perfect. I don’t have a complaint about this story and book two is as good as this. There are also a few free reads with this story to help us understand Sei and Gabe’s relationship and I recommend reading them in order to fully grasp this story and these characters for they allow them to shine as they should. You will not be disappointed.

Reviewed By: Michele


Texas Winter by RJ Scott

Title: Texas Winter (Texas #2)
Author: RJ Scott
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Pages: 213
Characters: Riley Campbell-Hayes, Jack Campbell, Hayes
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance/Drama
Kisses: 4


Riley’s past comes back to haunt him both professionally and personally.

His dead brother left more than just bitter memories for Riley to deal with. The FBI get involved and suddenly it is more than his good name that is on the line. Jack is always there for him but how much more can Riley’s husband reasonably be able to understand?

Especially when Riley finds out on his delayed honeymoon that he has an eight year old daughter he never knew existed…


RJ Scott has a knack for blending just the right amount of sweet with just the right amount of conflict in her books, and she does it again with Texas Winter, the continuing saga of Jack and Riley Campbell-Hayes.

On their delayed honeymoon, Riley gets a phone call that will forever alter the course of the Campbell-Hayes household, as a past that included a lot of mostly forgettable women imposes itself upon Riley in the very tangible form of a little lady who needs him now more than ever.

Finding out you’re a father eight years after the fact is a lot to digest, especially when the reason you’re finding out you have a child is because that child’s mother has recently died and left specific instructions that her little girl be placed with her unsuspecting father. Jack and Riley suddenly become parents and must work through the logistics of that, all while Riley also deals with the ramifications of his dead brother’s misdeeds that have come back to complicate his life even further, as well as an attempt at extortion from his daughter’s uncle.

Drama, humor, and a precocious child make for a heartwarming story of what it means to be a family, to trust and to protect those you love, even when you might not go about it in just the right way. Sometimes even the best of intentions can lead to mistakes, which Riley isn’t immune to, but it’s never in question that his family, his husband and daughter, are his number one priority.

For fans of The Heart of Texas, Texas Winter won’t disappoint.

Reviewed By: Lisa


Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Syd McGinley

Title: Ain’t Misbehavin’
Author: Syd McGinley
Publisher: Torquere Press
Pages: 23
Characters: Pol, Rinnie, and Tommy
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: BDSM
Kisses: 4


In this Felliverse story, Rinnie and Tommy are living with Dr. Fell’s mentor, Dr. Pol Rønne. When Tommy takes too long getting ready to go home after a drag show, he and Rinnie have to put on a show of their own for Pol using Tommy’s mardi gras beads in a most unusual way.

Originally published in Toy Box: Beads and The Complete Dr. Fell: The Boys of Fell.


Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Syd brings us into the home of Dr. Fell’s friend and mentor, Pol Ronne where he has Tommy and Rinnie living with him. The story starts with Rinnie and Tommy at a drag show, and Tommy is all dolled up and his usual spunky self, chatting up a storm and not paying attention to the time. They were given a curfew by Dr. Pol and no matter how much Ronnie bugs Tommy to hurry up and pack up so they can get home, Tommy keeps on doing what he does best.

Dr. Pol surprises them at the club where they performed that evening and yes, you can bet they ended up in trouble. He takes the boys home, and teaches them a well earned lesson…well, Tommy more so than Ronnie. It’s a cute fast story that offers us more insight to these characters in the Dr. Fell’s series.

Reviewed By: Michele


Let There Be Light by R. Cooper

Title: Let There Be Light
Author: R. Cooper
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 102
Characters: Robert Hartley-Battridge, Karol ZieliDski
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Steampunk/Sci-Fi
Kisses: 4


In war-torn Europe of 1872, Karol and Hart devoted themselves to protecting England and the peace England maintained. Hart was a spy and bodyguard for Karol, a brilliant but hotheaded scientist. Their partnership was almost unstoppable… until Hart could no longer bear to see Karol in danger—or with other men—and seeing Hart repeatedly put his life on the line came to terrify Karol. Then a horrible accident separated them for what they believed would be forever.

Now the enemy’s plan to kidnap Karol has Hart volunteering to guard him once again. Alone together with their fear and pain from the past might destroy them… or it might give them hope for a brighter future.


There was an amazing chemistry between the two characters in this book that was fairly visceral, knowing there was a history there that brought them together and, at the same time, tore them apart. It was deliciously aggravating because they were trying so hard to push each other away, yet the evidence was clear that they wanted nothing more than to draw closer. It was a clear and present danger for Hart and Karol to dredge up the past, and even more dangerous to consider the consequences of the circumstances that brought them together again after a three year separation.

Devotion to Queen and country is Hart’s prime directive. Karol is a brilliant scientist and inventor who has become the equivalent of England’s most valuable resource. Dedication to the safety and security of England is what brought the men together, and ultimately, part of what separated them. Now that Karol and the defenses of England herself have been threatened, Hart is once again sworn to do everything in his power to protect Karol. Or die trying.

Fighting or forging a connection—Hart and Karol did a bit of both before this story was done. And then it simply…ended…and I was the one who was frustrated, then, because there seems to be more story there and I want it all. Whether R. Cooper has a sequel planned for this one, though, I don’t know. What I do know is that these men, the machines, and the world they live in seem far larger and more extraordinary than what I got to see in these 102 pages.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this story. Just don’t expect a neatly tied up ending.

Reviewed By: Lisa


Angelia Sparrow Wants To Make You Feel Hot And Cold And Shivery

Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today, Angelia. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I’m a truck driver on a dedicated route, meaning I go the same places every time. I’m lucky enough to be home every night, so I get to spend time with my kids. I have four, but the oldest is on her own these days, and the second is preparing to launch. I met my husband in college. He’s a high school science teacher. My own degree is in English.

When did you discover your passion for writing? Was there someone in particular who encouraged and inspired your love of storytelling?

My grandmothers read to me from the time I was an infant. I read widely during my childhood and adolescence; science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, it didn’t matter. I wrote some fanfiction in high school and started original stories then, nearly failing algebra because I would rather write than learn to factor a quadratic equation. (fortunately, I had a great Algebra II teacher who got me past that) In college, I got in with the gamers and the SCA, both of which encouraged oral storytelling. When the kids came, I made up stories for them. It’s been a lifelong process.

How long does it typically take you to write a book, and then see it through the publishing process?

I can write a short story in a couple days to a week. I can get a novel drafted in a month. The rewrites take longer. The average novel takes about 4 months from inception to submission. The publishing process varies widely, from about 3 months of intensive edits to a year and a half of mostly waiting. It depends on the publisher.

Do the titles of your books generally come to you as you’re writing, or do you know what they’ll be called before the writing process begins?

Depends on the book. I knew I was going to call a book “Glad hands” as soon as I heard the term in truck-driving school. Alive on the Inside came early in the process. Heart of a Forest underwent half a dozen title changes, and I still like the original, All in the Merry Greenwood, better than any of them. Power in the Blood was originally called The Undying and the Undead, until the catchier title appeared. Some books just get called “the non-con short” or “that faerie thing” until they’re written and we have to come up with something for the publisher to call it.

Asking this question might be a bit like asking you to choose one child over another, but of all the characters you’ve created, do you have one who stands out among the others as a favorite? If so, who and why?

I have several favorites, but David Inman is the one I catch myself giving too much time to. He’s a secondary character in the Nikolai series, from Dark Roast Press, and if I don’t sit on him, he takes over every scene he’s in and demands more influence than he’s supposed to have. I have to be careful not to let him get away with it, but he is the best mind of the twenty-first century (born 2032) and does finds ways around me now and then. I love him for his brilliance, for his utter bitchiness–and David defines bitchy queen—and for his deep emotions that seldom make it to the surface in true displays of feeling.

When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope s/he takes away from the experience?

I want them to come away feeling hot and cold and shivery, saying of the science fiction or horror, “I can see exactly where it’s going wrong and I can’t stop it!” or simply sighing in deep satisfaction and feeling better for having read it.

How much creative input do you have in the cover design of your books?

This depends on the publisher. Most let me put in suggestions, some let me comment after the cover is at least drafted. I have a couple of publishers who habitually misspell my first name, so I am glad of the chance to make sure I’m properly billed.

Is there a particular sub-genre in which you enjoy writing more than others? (i.e. paranormal vs. historical vs. contemporary)

I love love love writing steampunk. I’ve never managed a full length novel, but the short stories are my favorite. Horror and paranormal are favorites too. The difference between horror and paranormal is a subtle one. The basic question becomes “What are you to the monster?” If you’re his main squeeze, it’s paranormal. If you’re lunch, it’s horror.

Do you prefer writing in the 1st or the 3rd person? What advantages do you see in writing in one vs. the other?

I usually write in third person. I see advantages to each of them, depending on the story I’m trying to tell. I doubt I could sustain first person for a full novel. I like first person when I need to be inside someone’s head for most of a story, and keep the tale strictly from that point of view. Third person lets me get different points of view, different parts of the story. For example, in Power in the Blood, we mostly get Oren, the hero’s, point of view. But he can’t be everywhere, so other scenes take us into the heads of a vampire preacher, an immortal Puritan witch, and a baby boomer vampire who is permanently twenty-two.

Do you write full time? If not, how many hours per day do you attempt to dedicate to your writing?

I work a fifty hour week on the truck. Then there’s second-shift work at home, errands and all the stuff that makes up a life. I try to get about ten solid writing hours in every week, minimum. I don’t always succeed, sometimes I get more.

Do you typically outline your plots before you begin the writing process, or do you write in a more freestyle fashion?

I usually start freestyle, seeing who the characters are and where they want to take me. After it becomes apparent where I’m going, I lay out the road markers to make sure I get where I’m supposed to and hit all the points I need to along the way.

How much do your characters resemble you and/or the people you know?

Some characters, especially very minor, nonspeaking walk-ons, are me without any disguise. Others are combinations of people, collections of traits and attitudes that eventually form a new personality.

How much do you draw upon your own life experiences in your writing?

I draw on it a great deal. I’ve been almost everywhere described in Glad Hands, seeing most of it from the windshield of a semi. I’ve lived in a lot of the places and held a lot of the jobs I write about.

Are you surprised by the ever growing female fan-base of Male/Male fiction?

Not at all. I come to this out of slash fandom which was invented forty years ago by women, written by women for women readers. Even beyond fandom, there were Mary Renault and Anne Rice.

When did you begin writing in the Male/Male genre? What about it interests you the most?

I began writing it around 1998, in Buffy Fandom. Something about Xander’s interaction with Angelus during the latter half of season 2 grabbed me, and I started in. From there, I read widely and explored a lot of source material. What interests me most, right now, is a bit meta: it’s seeing how the writers change from fandom to original fiction, and how readers and writers who are not coming to this from fandom are changing the genre.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received with respect to the art of writing? How did it change the way you approach your craft?

Write. Write some every day. If you can’t write a whole story, commit to writing 5 words a day. This comes from Vic Milan. It told me I was not a failure for failing to live up to Ray Bradbury’s advice of writing a whole story every day. With my schedule, 5 words is more doable.

Will you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?

1) What doesn’t work for one publisher will sell like gangbusters at another.
2) Send the story and forget it. Start the next one.
3) Don’t over-commit. I have a tendency to promise stories half a dozen places and then hit really bad crunch time trying to meet them all.

If you were to offer a word of advice to a new author just starting out, what would it be?

Write. Writers write. Others just talk about writing, about what they want to write, what they’re going to write, how they don’t have time to write. Write. Harlan Ellison says, “If anything can discourage you from writing, it should.” I agree. The only time in my life when I was not writing in some way was the six-month period when I was sleeping 20 hours out of 24 because of medication. Neither college nor children nor 50-hour work weeks can stop my need for writing. Can anything stop yours?

Write what you know, and you know a lot more than you think you do. As one of my engineering profs said, “When you’re faced with a problem you don’t quite understand and don’t know what to do, do what you know and the rest will present itself.”

Wisdom abounds and gurus are found everywhere from cartoons to the classroom. Listen for it.

What is the question you’re most frequently asked by your fans?

“When is the next Nikolai book coming out?” I have to tell them I’m still writing it, because it’s low on the priority list.

What is your most memorable fan experience?

I was at DragonCon—a convention with about 40,000 people– and sat in on the m/m romance panel. Afterward, I went up and introduced myself to Kiernan Kelly. She squeed and hugged me. When Kayelle Allen and Ally Blue asked what was going on, she introduced me and there was my first “Oh my God, you’re Angelia Sparrow!” moment.

Digital media—the e-reader/tablet computer/Android apps—is changing the way people access and enjoy books. What pros and/or cons do you see surrounding the business of e-publishing? How do you see digital media evolving in the years to come?

Got a week or so? Books are becoming impulse items once again, something people always have along and can read in public. There are no lurid covers visible to bring down the concernipation of concerned bystanders. E-publishing allows easier entry into the world of publishing, bypassing a lot of the traditional gatekeepers dedicated to publishing the same clones of everything that was successful last season. It’s easier for new writers to get in, but also, the pace of the industry demands a high volume of manuscripts, including some that really aren’t ready for prime-time. The price of readers and computers also excludes segments of the population from the digital revolution.

On the future of digital, I don’t think paper books will go away. The format has been around for millennia because it is durable. One can still read materials written on papyrus in ancient Egypt. I think digital will become the popular choice for ephemera: popular fiction and textbooks. Collectors will get print-on-demand paper. I think there will end up being a standardized format. Beyond that, I pack up my cloudy crystal ball, because everything is changing very fast.

When you have the chance to sit down and enjoy some quiet reading time, what sorts of books are you most likely to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?

I’m most likely to pick up a horror novel, probably one by a friend or acquaintance of mine. My all time favorites are Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Julian May, Harlan Ellison, and Barbara Hambly. In the smaller names, Bryan Smith, Sara Harvey, B.G Thomas and Elizabeth Donald.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

A professional crafter, probably a crochet artist.

Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies?

I read. First and foremost, I read. I try to read 50 books a year. I don’t always make it, but it helps. My writing improves with my reading. I crochet. I garden. I cook. I watch movies. I used to sew. I’m learning to knit. I would like to get back to cross-stitching in the next year.

If time travel were possible, what time period(s) would you most like to visit? Why?

Assuming instant translators, there are a lot of places I’d like to visit. There are very few where I’d like to live. A whirlwind tour of Egypt under Ramses II, a visit to Athens in the Golden Age, late Imperial Rome for some recreational decadence, then off for a visit to Viking-era Ireland and Norway, and maybe a stop in the Age of Sail. Most of this would be research, but part of it would be confirmation of my research.

If you had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with one famous person, either past or present, who would you choose and why?

My table manners are terrible and I hate eating with people. I despise lingering over food, preferring to eat while working and be done with that chore. So this question is unanswerable.

If we were to look around the desk where you sit to write, what would we find there?

You’d find my desk covered with a variety of stuff, including a large glass stein lettered with “Donations for the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center” which currently holds a bunch of crochet hooks (all size N), a pair of very stale cigars, a Dr McCoy 2.0 action figure, a half-finished crochet lace choker, a random selection of coughdrops, paperclips and pennies, a few lengths of cloth topped with a coil of florist wire and a hot glue gun (they’re gonna be fairy wings soon!), a row of pill bottles that looks pretty scary.

And this is why I work on my laptop from a recliner in the front room, balancing a board across my knees and typing to the background chatter of Nickelodeon.

How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

My sense of humor is fairly broad. It took me a long time to find it. I spent my adolescence laboring under the burden of my own genius, and a sense of humor was beneath an alpha like myself. I grew out of that, thank goodness. My kids often make me laugh. I enjoy a variety of comedies, from A Clockwork Orange (which is a very dark, bleak comedy) and American Psycho (Pride &Prejudice, with yuppies and chainsaws) to the Marx Brothers and even some Stooges routines. Fibber Magee and Molly always make me laugh. I catch them on the radio in the wee hours.

Do you have an all time favorite fictional character?

Han Solo, flat-out. Just the way Brian Daly wrote him for the three books and the radio series. Not a fan of what later EU writers did.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Noise. I have hearing loss from bad ears, so I’m quite protective of what I have left. Loud music, high background noise, dairy cases that sound like jet engines, even too much racket from my kids all set my teeth on edge.

Do you have a favorite personal mantra, quote, or saying that describes your outlook on life and the way you approach each day?

Any day my job does not involve castrating sheep with my teeth is a GOOD day.

Do you speak more than one language? If so, which one(s)?

I have three years’ classroom experience of Spanish and German, each. Which, at this late date (20 years after graduating college) means I can read children’s books, maybe.

Of all the modern conveniences, which one would you most likely say you couldn’t live without?

Running water. I’ve done primitive camping, and I do NOT want to live like that. I know how, though, which makes me valuable in a zombie apocalypse.

Do you have any new projects/works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?

My newest release is Power in the Blood, a family drama set against a vampire apocalypse in Memphis. Oren and his six kids are Breathers, meaning if they die violently, they will become immortal. The very rare immortal Undying are vampire hunters. And Memphis is ground zero for a vampire explosion, caused by a church that thinks it can bring about the Second Coming if everyone is a vampire. The release date is January 27th, 2012.

Thanks again for spending some time with us, Angelia! It’s been great having you with us. Will you tell us where we can find you on the Internet?

I’m everywhere! My website is My twitter is @asparrow16. I’m also Author Angelia Sparrow on Facebook and valarltd at Live Journal and Dreamwidth. I sometimes remember my blogger: