Release day blitz: SYNCOPATION by Anna Zabo!

 

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Today we’re celebrating the story behind the gorgeous cover above; happy book birthday to the first in the Twisted Wishes series, Anna Zabo’s SYNCOPATION!

Synopsis:

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

About The Author:

Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.

Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks.They can be easily plied with coffee.

To purchase:

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Carina Press

Google Play

iBooks

Kobo

Amazon

We here at SFS can’t wait to read and review this kinky rock star story with aromantic and pansexual rep!

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EXPOSED anthology blitz + giveaway!

Today we’re celebrating the release of a fun queer bookish-themed anthology, EXPOSED, curated and published by author Karen Stivali.

new exposed cover

About:

Hot. Naked. Guys. Reading.
When the sexiest Top 30 Under 30 men agree to pose naked for the “Expose Yourself To A Good Book” charity calendar, their hot bodies aren’t the only thing that gets EXPOSED. Nine brand new romances with M/F, M/M, F/F and menage pairings from bestselling and award winning authors, there’s something for everyone in this limited release anthology.

Contributions:

Annabeth Albert
LEVEL UP

When Landon, a genius physicist, is picked for a charity calendar, he must deal with an inconvenient attraction to Bailey, his rising-star photographer. Can he slay enough demons from his past to ensure a future together with him?

Karen Booth
WISHING

Jobless and painfully single, Samantha agrees to drive musician Duncan to a photo shoot. He’s in town for only five days, so sexy, and she’s eager for a no-strings fling. But Duncan shoots straight for the heart, making her unsure how she’ll ever survive his goodbye.

Amy Jo Cousins
KATE LIKES GIRLS

Garden center manager Kate Rhee is on a mission. No more hook ups with women or second-guessing her recent break up with an unavailable man. Too bad the foxy, pink-haired bar owner she meets at a naked calendar photo shoot has sworn off girlfriends. Because Kate isn’t doing casual. She can totally resist that temptation. Totally.

Robin Covington
GHOST

Oliver Burns publicly bragged he’d sign the reclusive artist “G”- creator of the First Nations graphic novel, Ghost Warriors – to his comic publishing company. But that gets tough when “G” is Gareth Rain – the man he pulled a post-one-night-stand runner on years ago and the man he’s never forgotten.

Vanessa North
RIGGED

For Kaitlyn, seeing her best friend Gordon naked is no big deal—until watching Sean tie him up changes everything.

Tamsen Parker
THROWN OFF TRACK

Teague has been License to Game’s bassist for over a decade, during which time he’s slept with almost everyone in his path. But it’s always felt like going through the motions. Until he sees his bandmate Christian naked at a charity photoshoot and suddenly, he knows what it is to want.

Roan Parrish
NATURAL ENEMIES

When buttoned-up botanist Stefan Albemarle meets freewheeling urban gardener Milo Rios, it’s hatred at first sight. But hatred quickly turns to lust as Milo shows him how exquisite it can feel to lose control. When opposites attract, love blooms in unexpected places.

Tiffany Reisz
THE WATERMARK

Jason “Still” Waters’ life looks perfect from the outside—money, fame, and the words “World Champion Bull-Rider” after his name. But Jason has a secret, one he never planned on telling anybody…until he meets Simone. She’s the kinky girl of his dreams…and his conservative family’s worst nightmare.

Karen Stivali
LEGAL BRIEFS

When organizing a naked charity calendar puts Rose’s tenure bid in jeopardy, the last person she wants help from is Michael, the gorgeous, arrogant lawyer she butted heads with during his shoot. He’ll defend her for free, but if their secrets come out they could both pay with their hearts.

Purchase:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

And, of course, you can *e n t e r  t o  w i n* one of 3 backlist eBooks by any of the EXPOSED AUTHORS simply by clicking…

HERE!

Annnddd we’re back…with CURVED HORIZON!

*taps mic*

Hey friends! Did you know it’s pretty hard to maintain even a tiny blog when your laptop dies AND your internet is too spotty to consistently work from your iPad? Blessedly, both issues are finally resolved, and we’re gasping back to life here at SFS with one of our most hotly-anticipated sequels of 2018…

curved horizons

That’s right, it’s Taylor Brooke‘s CURVED HORIZON, the sequel to FORTITUDE SMASHED, and it’s available right now from our favorite small publisher, Interlude Press!

Curved Horizon picks up a few weeks after the conclusion of Fortitude Smashed with Daisy Yuen and Chelsea Cavanaugh, whose Camellia Clocks are drawing close to timing out. Navigating the ins-and-outs of love is hard enough as strangers destined to be soul mates and proves even more complicated when Daisy shares dark, ugly secrets that linger in her and Aiden’s pasts.

Meanwhile, Shannon and Aiden continue to explore their own, new relationship. Fall brings them an unforgettable one-year anniversary, but when Shannon suffers a life-threatening accident on the job, Chelsea, Daisy, and Aiden must find a way to let go of the past to make room for their future.

***

About The Author

Headshot 2018

After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup artist, Taylor Brooke turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she’s traveling, hiking or reading. She writes Queer books for teens and adults. She is the author of Fortitude Smashed (Interlude Press ’17) and is represented by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch Literary Services.

***

You can pick up the CURVED HORIZON eBook today at most online book retailers, and/or click the ugly-but-functional link below to enter a giveaway which includes physical copies and an Interlude gift card!

->>> HERE BE RAFFLECOPTER

 

A visit from F.T. Lukens (w/ giveaway)!

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Today we’re so pleased to be featuring the newest adorable YA novel from Interlude Press. It’s called The Rules and Regulations of Mediating Myths and Magic, and we here at SFS thought it was awesome! We’ll post a proper review soon, but in the meantime, here’s what the author has to say about what inspires her…

***

Hi everyone! This is F.T. Lukens, author of The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic, and today I would like to talk about my upcoming release and some of the books that have inspired me over the years.

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic is a young adult urban fantasy novel that features Bridger, a bisexual protagonist who is struggling with changes in his life that come with being a senior in high school. Bridger answers a job ad and finds himself immersed in a new world of cryptids and myths. Bridger’s journey borders on the absurd and he finds himself fleeing a rampaging unicorn and dodging acidic troll spit.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I read it when I was a pre-teen and it has stuck with me since. I think it was the first time that I found true comedy and humor in a novel. I’ve always admired Douglas Adams’ ability to flip plot points and situations on their head and not only find the hilarity, but also keep the plot seamless, moving, and relatable. I also love his other works like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Which has now been made into a tv show that is spectacular and weird. It also stars Elijah Wood, so I highly recommend.

Another book that has stuck with me in terms of comedy and absurdity is Lamb by Christopher Moore. It’s the gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal, and it chronicles the missing years between Christ’s birth and his ministry. The story is irreverent and humorous but also heartfelt. The synopsis says it best: Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more – except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala – and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is Terry Pratchett’s and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. Aziraphale and Crowley are just brilliant characters. And the plot and the story telling is amazing. It takes ridiculousness to a whole other level but it is relatable. Who hasn’t made a mistake? Of course, it wasn’t as bad as accidentally switching the antichrist with another child. And who doesn’t hate traffic? Thanks, Crowley.

But anyway, Bridger’s story, though containing lake mermaids and sasquatch, is set amid a high school back drop and features challenges that all teens go through. I hope readers find the joy of a mix of comedy and urban fantasy in The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic like I found in the above stories.

****

Be sure to check out RULES & REGS on Goodreads and at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and don’t forget to enter F.T.’s tour-wide giveaway HERE!

Release day spotlight: PERMANENT INK

Happy book birthday to this kinky opener in what is sure to be a fun and solidly written series, Art & Soul!

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About:

At twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.

Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.

Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.

Quick ‘n’ dirty review:

It’s a “yes” for us here at SFS, with a definite interest in the books to follow. This one was hot and well-paced, with a good portrayal of friendships and just enough tension to keep things interesting. We would perhaps have enjoyed a little bit more depth to the scenes where the guys weren’t at work and weren’t having sex, but PERMANENT INK still comes in easily at 4.25 of 5 stars.

Where to buy:

Riptide Publishing

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Happy book birthday, HEART OF THE STEAL!

Today we’re celebrating the release of a fun new contemporary queer romance from Avon Gale & Roan Parrish, a dynamic writing duo if ever there was one.

We’ll be posting a proper review of the book later this week, but for now, enjoy the sexy little teaser below, and click the link(s) for more information!

heart of the steal spotlight

Excerpt:

“So, Will, what brings you here?”

“My sister’s the event planner. Charlotte Fox.” I spread my arms out and smiled. “So I’m just here for the good whiskey, the free food, and moral support. You?”

“The asparagus quiche was delicious. Please convey my compliments to your sister. And I suppose you could say I am an investor, of a sort. I’m the head of my family’s philanthropic foundation, and that means I attend quite a few parties. Most of them are exceptionally dull.” He moved closer, and my heart rate kicked up another notch. “I’m finding this one unexpectedly enjoyable, however.”

“That because of the art collection?” I asked. Warmth curled in my stomach and spread through me, like the sunset from the Staunton had slipped directly into my veins. He smelled good, Vaughn. I caught eucalyptus and amber, along with something woodsy and natural, like pine. It made my mouth water.

“The Staunton is lovely, but I’ve seen better.” He reached out slowly, eyes still on mine, and drew a single long finger down the lapel of my suit jacket. It was one of the hottest things any man had ever done to me, dressed or undressed; in bed or out. I shivered, and my breath caught in a sharp inhalation. I could see how much he liked my reaction. There was something sly and challenging in his expression before he leaned down and kissed me.

His mouth was hot and his hands were suddenly on my shoulders, giving me a little push until my shoulders hit the wall. I slid a hand around the back of Vaughn’s head, fingers caressing the strands of braided hair. I slid my other hand down his chest as we kissed, feeling lean muscle, strong but sinewy. I rested my hand on his stomach as we kissed, as if I could measure the space between us, and I made a sound as we broke apart to breathe.

I did not make out with strangers at parties. I couldn’t even really blame the whiskey either. Vaughn was overwhelming, as bold as that goddamn Staunton, and so attractive that the second his mouth met mine I knew I wasn’t going to push him away. Vaughn dropped one of his hands and began to boldly rub me through my pants while his mouth did wicked things to my neck.

“You—” I didn’t know what to say, so I just pulled him back in and kissed him again. He nipped at my bottom lip with sharp teeth, and I widened my legs as his hands began to work at my belt. There was a momentary pause that I took as him asking for permission, and I gave it with a rough jerk of my head and a choked groan.

*

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Goodreads

Blog tour: GRRRLS ON THE SIDE by Carrie Pack

Grrrls FB

Today we are pleased to welcome Interlude Press author Carrie Pack to speak about how realizing her sexuality at a slightly later age inspired her new 90s punk rock F/F book, Grrrls On The Side. Be sure to check out the tour-wide giveaway at the end of the post!

Coming out at 35

 

I came out as bisexual just after writing my last book, In the Present Tense, so it was important to me to write about another bisexual character. But this time I knew it had to be a girl. In fact, Grrrls on the Side features several bisexual girls because when I was growing up, a book like that didn’t exist and it should have.

A lack of representation not only kept me in the closet, but it prevented me from even realizing that I’m bisexual.

Looking back, I always knew I wasn’t straight. But I also knew I wasn’t a lesbian, so where did that leave me? All of the movies, television and books I saw confirmed that gay or straight were my only options. Unless I just “don’t like labels.” And maybe that last one would have resonated if 12-year-old me had any clue what that phrase meant. Bottom line: I didn’t know bisexuality was an option. What I needed was an example. A girl who gushed over the cute boy in her class but also got butterflies when that girl with the awesome hair smiled.

When I finally did learn about bisexuality, I still didn’t know it wasn’t an equal attraction to all genders. It’s much more fluid than a lot of people realize, and that’s probably because we haven’t seen it in media. Just like seeing gay couples on TV made it easier for people to accept same-sex marriage, seeing bisexual characters could make it easier for people to understand bisexuality. I know because it happened to me. It happened to a lot of women my age.

Did it take us that long to realize we were attracted to more than one gender? In most cases, no. It’s simply the label that eluded us, and with it, the ability to claim our queer identity. How can you recognize your bisexuality when no one you know is bi? When no one will even say the word? When TV characters “don’t like labels”?

So I wrote the book I needed. One character has a near-equal attraction between genders. Another prefers male-presenting and non-binary partners. Another dates a femme girl and then a butch girl; her attraction to guys is secondary and almost non-existent. These are all valid forms of bisexuality. They’re all still bi. They’re all still queer.

In Grrrls, characters don’t have to “prove” their queerness. They just are. I wrote it that way to reflect reality. It’s important because I’ve always been queer. It just took me 35 years to figure it out and I’d like others to have the chance to figure it out sooner.

Summary + excerpt:

The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up.

At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a place to belong. But just as Tabitha is settling in with her new friends and beginning to think she understands herself, eighteen-year-old Jackie Hardwick walks into a meeting and changes her world forever. The out-and-proud Jackie is unlike anyone Tabitha has ever known. As her feelings for Jackie grow, Tabitha begins to learn more about herself and the racial injustices of the punk scene, but to be with Jackie, she must also come to grips with her own privilege and stand up for what’s right.

***

Just because we’re girls doesn’t mean we can’t change things.

*

Cherie does her usual spiel calling the girls down to the front, and the crush of bodies closes in on us. It’s hot and sweaty, but I don’t care. Jackie squeezes my hand, and we share a smile just as Shut Up rips into their first song.
My friends are cool. They’re in a band and they are legitimately, undeniably cool. And not in an abstract, I-like-this-music kind of way. But in an own-the-stage, make-you-want-to-start-your-own-band kind of way.
Dancing comes easier this time. I raise my hands over my head and thrash with the crowd, not caring what I look like or who’s watching. This is my territory… and theirs. In this moment, girls own this place and that’s powerful. For the first time in my life, I’m part of something bigger than myself. It may not solve world hunger, but it matters. Just like Kate’s obsessive need to protest, and Marty’s passion for Riot Grrrl, and Cherie’s unapologetic femininity, everything has its place. Even “Flabby Tabby” dancing at a concert is part of it.
I look around to take it all in. Jackie and I are once again front and center, but this time we are surrounded by dozens of girls who came to see Shut Up play. I recognize a few of them, but most are just here because they heard about a punk girl band and want to be a part of the moment. I can’t believe it. I’m part of something, and it’s not dorky or cheesy. It’s real. I’m real.
*

The club is dirty and small, and I have to stand on my tiptoes to see the stage, but I don’t care because these are my people: the hardscrabble freaks and losers who are angry at the world for their lot in life. Dramatic? Sure. But no one here looks at me like I’m some sort of zoo animal. An elephant with too much hair. A rhinoceros missing her horn. Here I am just a girl with cool boots, who maybe looks like she could kick your ass.
Mike seems in his element, too, and taller somehow, protective almost. When a guy with a safety pin through his left eyebrow bumps into me during the opening act, Mike shoves him back. At first I think we’ve won, but Eyebrow Piercing continues to thrash. I step to the side and let him go crazy. Who cares? This band is shit anyway. Mike lifts his brow as if to say, “Want me to kick his ass?” But I shake my head. No point in getting kicked out before the good bands start. We make our way to the other side of the venue where I can see the stage a little better.
We stand there for a while, taking in the scene. The opening band continues to suck. I’m not even sure the bass player’s amp is on. Their sound is top-heavy, like a car stereo with the speakers blown out. Mike nods in the direction of the merch tables. Looks like all the bands are selling CDs and a couple of girls are handing out flyers. We sidestep the thrashing masses to get a better look. I pass up the CDs; I don’t get my allowance until Monday, and I already blew my savings on the boots. A girl about my age catches my eye and smiles. Her brown hair is barely past shoulder length and much shinier than mine. Bright pink barrettes frame her pale face near her forehead. It should make her look childish, but instead she looks cool. I smile back.
“Hey, you interested in doing some shit?” she asks. Her pale green eyes sparkle with determination.
“Like what?”
“About all the bullshit in the world that girls have to put up with.”
Thinking she’s joking, I laugh. “That’s ambitious.”
“Just because we’re girls doesn’t mean we can’t change things. Here.” She hands me the flyer I’d noticed her passing out. “We meet on Tuesdays.”

*

Kate props herself on her elbow and looks at me. “Are you questioning your sexuality, Tabitha?” It sounds very after-school special to me, but Kate is dead serious.
“I uh… Well…”
“It’s okay,” she says. Her smile has turned into a smirk. “I have an idea. You don’t have to answer. Just close your eyes.”
My heart is about to beat right out of my chest, but I comply. I don’t have a choice. My body is acting on its own. I no longer have free will. I’m only doing what I’m told. I can feel Kate coming closer, but I don’t move, not a muscle, not an eyelash. I am frozen in time, waiting. For what I’m not sure.
Then her lips brush mine. Softly at first and then more firmly. My whole body is feverish as she cups my face in her hand. I don’t know what else to do so I try to kiss back, but she’s gone. When I open my eyes, she’s still hovering over me; her hand covers her mouth. She’s blushing, too.
Neither of us says anything, and Kate stands up and takes the tape out of the stereo. “I should probably get this back to Cherie.” She looks at me lying on the floor. “I gotta pee. I’ll meet you outside.”
She climbs the stairs, and I lie there like a dumbstruck statue. I bring my hand to my lips, but they feel unchanged. And yet something is completely, irrevocably, unavoidably different. Something so life-changing, I don’t know what to do with the information.
Plain and simple: I have a crush on Kate.

Purchase links:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound, Kobo, Target

Click HERE for the giveaway!

Advance review: ALL THINGS NEW

allthingsnew

Title: All Things New

Author: Lauren Miller

Artist: Stewart A. Williams

Publisher: Three Saints Press

Release date: 8/01/2017

Rating: 3.5 stars

Warnings: Vivid description of car accident & resulting injuries, hallucinations, prescription drug abuse, untreated panic disorder, casual usage of fascist language (once)

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and noticeable scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but things go from bad to worse when she realizes she’s seeing bruises and scars on the people around her that no one else can see. She blames it on the accident, but as her body heals and the hallucinations continue, Jessa wonders if what she’s seeing could somehow have a deeper meaning. In her quest for answers, she falls for Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book just fine until about the ¾ mark, when it went so spectacularly off the rails that I actually sat back and stared at it for a minute in awe/begrudging respect. I mean…if you’re going to spin your relatively good narrative on its heels and march it right into “oh no honey, what is u doing” territory (complete with irresponsible portrayal of teenage mental illness) at the last second, you might as well be quick about it, yes?

There’s really not much else I can say about this title without spoilers, and though I didn’t enjoy what happened to the plot, I’m not going to ruin it for potential readers who might want to find out for themselves. Marshall is one of the cutest love interests I can remember reading in YA m/f, so there is that as a positive point. If you’re a fan of the quirky boy + severely damaged girl trope, and you don’t mind late-in-the-story whiplash…*shrugs*…you could give this one a shot.

Purchase:

Amazon (US)

Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and truthful review.

Review: AND IT CAME TO PASS

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Title: And It Came To Pass

Author: Laura Stone

Artist: CB Messer

Publisher: Interlude Press

Release date: 5/18/17

Rating: 4.5 stars

Warnings: Assault, institutionalized homophobia

Blurb:

Adam Young is a devout Mormon whose life is all planned out, by both his strict father and his church. He follows the path they’ve established for him, goes off to his mission in Barcelona, Spain, and realizes that his life may not follow the trajectory already chosen for him.

His mission companion, Brandon Christensen, is a handsome, enthusiastic practitioner on the surface. But as their mission progresses, they both realize they have major questions about their faith… and substantial feelings for one another.

Thoughts:

Oh my heck. If this book wasn’t fiction, and you looked up “repressed” in the dictionary, you’d absolutely find a picture of Adam Young. Two pictures, even, because in one, his stoic expression reflects the seriousness with which he regards Heavenly Father, and in the second, he’s double-guessed himself and tried for a smile, because he’s full of the airy joyousness of God’s love and…stuff. Isn’t he?

Reader, he is not. Adam arrives in Barcelona for his two-year mission weighted with what can only be described as dread. He’s spent his entire life being told by literally everyone he knows that being called (as is the term) to field work is an exciting and important part of his religious journey, one that will give him purpose and satisfaction almost instantly, if he does it right. And there’s no doubt that Adam can follow every rule in every book down to the tiniest detail, so why does Spain feel like a different planet? His supervisors and the fellow missionaries who become his peers are essentially the same ~type of folks he’s grown up with, guided by the same boring (slash comforting) routine as always, but they may as well be literal aliens to Adam, for all he can relate to them. The isolation he experiences is staggering.

Except…

Except there’s Brandon. Brandon, Adam’s new companion, who is cheerful and charming and by far the most successful member of their mission group. Brandon, tall and handsome, with a family that loves not only him, but each other too; Adam can’t even imagine his parents sharing a hug. He gets caught up in Brandon’s effusiveness – as probably anyone would, when starved of affection for almost 20 years – and everything is going along rather swimmingly until Chapter 4, when Brandon dares to voice a single question about a direction they’ve been given for approaching potential converts.

It’s a mild query, the nature of which has run through Adam’s own mind more than once (more than ten times, to be honest), but he is stunned to hear it fall out of Brandon’s mouth. To give breath to such doubt is a sin! To do so as the de-facto class president is probably two sins! Why, Adam would be working himself into a proper fury if he weren’t so distracted by how much he agrees with Brandon and wants him to keep talking.

And therein lies the rub. The more Brandon asks out loud, the more unable Adam grows to just…not answer him, and pretty soon they’re using what little free time they have to independently, critically explore the texts, testaments and procedures they’ve been taught since birth. Brandon’s parents are able to fill in most gaps as they pop up, and though Adam remains kind of anxious and scandalized, he comes into himself as a thinking adult with a swiftness and surety that almost made me cry with its sweetness. The growth of his character and the accompanying (absolutely lovely) dynamic between Adam and Brandon are only two of the many reasons to pick up And It Came To Pass – just the third novel from the talented Laura Stone – as soon as you get the chance.

Purchase:

Amazon (US)

Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for a fair & honest review.

Review: SUMMER STOCK

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Title: Summer Stock

Author: Vanessa North

Artist: L.C. Chase

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Release date: 5/15/2017

Rating: 4.25 stars

Warnings: Description of domestic abuse (past), recreational drug use (past), brief mention of biphobia

Blurb:

Tabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder? Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around. As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.

Thoughts:

This was my first time reading an author’s work *after* becoming acquainted with them on social media, and I’m pleased to say it was a good experience. Ms. North infuses a relatively simple plot with an appealing mix of diverse characters who no doubt have some issues – but they’re working through them together.

Although the blurb focuses more on Ryan, it was the understated strength of Trey, a Carolina transplant, that drew me into the early stages of the book. At first, he seems like a personification of the phrase “speak softly and carry a big stick,” (where the stick is a freaking gigantic dog); later, as he begins to flourish from a combination of professional success and Ryan’s attention, Trey is established as a smart, hard-working guy who is loyal to his friends and trying to recover himself in the wake of a disastrous divorce.

In direct contrast to Trey’s gentility, Ryan – known to Hollywood as the slutty party boy Bryan Hart – comes home to Bankers’ Shoals a bit like a firework with a faulty fuse; it’s pretty, and the novelty is interesting for a second, but the trick just doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. Ryan struggles to adjust to the change of pace his temporary relocation brings about. He doesn’t understand the dynamics of his summer peers at the theater or the weird aggression he gets from his erstwhile boss, Mason. With his best friend in rehab back in California and therefore unreachable, Ryan quickly realizes how isolated he now is in the town where he grew up.

Enter Trey (duh). He’s dazzled by Ryan’s laugh and energy, and Ryan soaks up Trey’s wit and steadfastness with a neediness that reads as charming, not icky. They become friends-who-occasionally-kiss and it’s just…great. Honestly, I really liked their relationship. The way it progressed and the way those around them reacted to its various developments seemed natural and real. Trey and Ryan both make mistakes, of course, but Ms. North’s competent and responsible writing style results in a satisfying overall story that I am happy to recommend to any/everyone.

Purchase:

Amazon (US)

Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and truthful review.