September 7th, 2016

andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards: Key Maneuvered by James Brock (337-08-28-2016)

Key Maneuvered by James Brock
Gay Erotic Romance
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Beau to Beau Books (December 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1618453750
ISBN-13: 978-1618453754
Amazon: Key Maneuvered
Amazon Kinlde: Key Maneuvered

J.D. didn't miss what he didn't have, including family. He barely remembered his mother and had never known his father. Following the death of his grandfather, he becomes the neighborhood pass-around-kid, raised by a group of caring church members. When travelling evangelists Brother Bob and Sister Tina hear him play the piano, they quickly take him into their fold, where his talent and tragic story tear at the hearts of churchgoers across the Bible belt. A hit on the revival circuit, J.D.'s talent and Bob and Tina's showmanship soon turn their straw of a show into pure gold. Brother Bob and Sister Tina are becoming more than financially secure, but they need J.D.'s talent and story to keep their ministry going and their money growing. When a clash between the old time religion that J.D. was raised with and his sexual orientation becomes a crisis, he runs to the military to hide, where he finds love with Ethan. But sweet, sexy Ethan, has a dark secret of his own, a secret that involves someone near and dear to J.D., which may keep the two men apart forever.

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Beloved Unmasked by Brita Addams (029-03-06-2016)

1) I thought the author captured the time period wonderfully. The characters and setting feel very real, and I got sucked into the story very quickly.

2) Well researched; interesting time frame, great characters; well written; you enter this world and find you want to know what becomes of the characters.

3) This book seemed to have it all, well-written characters with a rich storyline. I loved how this book took me through a rollercoaster of emotions. I felt very connected with David throughout the entire story. Also, the author did a wonderful job of putting me in that WWI-ish time period.

4) The historical setting so very well done, in fact one of the best I've read. Initially the characters were interesting and consistent until the end when the got morose and it slowed the pacing.

5) Excellent historical details and strong storytelling, with a hero who survives much childhood abuse.

Beloved Unmasked (Cherished One #1) by Brita Addams
Gay Historical Romance
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (October 16, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634765176
ISBN-13: 978-1634765176
Amazon: Beloved Unmasked (Cherished One #1)
Amazon Kindle: Beloved Unmasked (Cherished One #1)

Cherished One: Book One

A Tarnished novel

Born to a spiteful prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district in New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, meaning “of little value,” or, as his mother reminds him, “nothing.” In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a life-changing meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.

As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. While he pursues a law degree, letters from Spence connect David to his hopes for the future. After staggering news at war’s end, David must find a way to move forward. Under the tutelage of his benefactor, David’s career prospers, but specters from Storyville threaten all he’s worked so hard to achieve.

The past holds both pain and love. Will facing it head-on destroy David or give him everything he’s ever dared dream?

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Waking Jamal by Amberly Smith (112-05-27-2016)

Very believable world building set in the near future. I loved the idea of the Hamask pairs, and the way the reality of them didn't mesh with people's expectations and the propaganda behind them. Interesting main characters with their own flaws to work through, and loved the side characters too especially Lisa.

Waking Jamal by Amberly Smith
Gay Sci-fi / Futuristic
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (March 25, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1634771338
ISBN-13: 978-1634771337
Amazon: Waking Jamal
Amazon Kindle: Waking Jamal

Their physical and mental survival depends on them bonding.

Jamal Zumati joins the military, determined to repay the country that fed and housed him. But during his Hamask activation, his senses go offline and he enters a berserker rage. The United States Hamrammr Program, or USHP, has only one option: put him into hibernation.

Despite his extraordinary ability to read and manipulate situations, Vargr Lt. Rum Walker has stepped on one too many brass toes, and the USHP demoted him back to teaching new candidates. Rum is one paranoid thought away from self-destruction when he is recruited for a covert mission: pull Jamal from hibernation.

The problem is, no one has ever survived a berserker fury at least not officially. If Rum is to challenge the military stereotypes, he ll not only need to wake Jamal he ll need to get him to agree to be bonded as a Hamra Pair, the ultimate supersoldier team.

When Jamal and Rum team up with an FBI Hamra Pair to stop the terrorist group Dios Provee, Rum thinks he ll show Jamal their true potential lies in an equal partnership, but Jamal is convinced Rum should take the lead. Will Rum stop Jamal from going berserk again and destroying both of their futures?"

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Red Envelope & Herc and Pyotr by Atom Yang (133-06-05-2016)

1) This author was new to me, and I was very pleasantly surprised by these two novellas, particularly Storming Love: Meteor Strikes ~ Herc & Pyoter. I am an avid science fiction reader and particularly love the works of Connie Willis, whose shorter fiction often combines hapless but sincere protagonists, screwball comedy and speculative storylines to great effect. I do not think this author's novella is in any way derivative of Willis' work, but I find that I love it in the same way I love Willis' stories - for it's sense of humor, it's down-to-earth protagonists and it's abiding sense of humanity - not to mention great pop culture references and apocalyptic meteorites. Red Envelope was also a strong slice-of-life story. I am, myself, a first generation Korean American and read with great amusement and sympathy the depictions of Clint's Chinese family. With spare prose - which I admire, especially in a first person narrative - the author clearly conveyed Clint's inexperience and hurt over his interactions with Weaver. The red envelopes and the holiday provided a nice framework for the events during the story. I often find myself dissatisfied with novellas and short stories as seeming incomplete, but both Storming Love and Red Envelope did a nice job in presenting three dimensional characters who experience growth and find resolution in this shorter format. I look forward to reading more by Atom Yang.

2) Red Envelope is a sublime short story written with gorgeous prose and infinite care. I was so impressed with this story because a good novella is difficult to write. Even the best ones can leave you wanting more. This one was perfect. There was enough detail to give realistic glimpses into the characters lives to make them appealing and sympathetic. I appreciated the cultural and historical references as well. The author balanced the nuances of a simple love story with perfect precision and a beautiful use of language. I was extraordinarily impressed with Mr. Yang's work. Herc and Pyotr was a very good short story by a gifted storyteller. I enjoyed this but I didn't love it. Unlike Red Envelope, it left me wanting more details about the apocalyptic nature of Earth and the supporting characters. I don't love fantasy, but I was willing to go along for the ride. I just would have like to have known more about the year and the setting. On the other hand, the writing was impeccable. Atom Yang has a beautiful way with words. I look forward to reading more of his work.

3) I adore Atom Yang's character's. They're so personable and easy to connect with. I cared about them from the first page forward, quickly becoming invested in the story.

Red Envelope & Herc and Pyotr by Atom Yang
Gay Contemporary Romance

Red Envelope
Publisher: MLR Press (December 4, 2015)
Amazon Kindle: Red Envelope

The Chinese New Year is a time for saying goodbye to the past and hello to the future, but Clint doesn't want to bid farewell to his cousin's handsome American friend, Weaver, after they share an unexpected passionate encounter.

The Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday in the Chinese calendar, a time for family reunions, and for saying goodbye to the past and hello to the future. Clint, however, doesn't want to bid farewell to what happened after last year's celebration, when he and his Cousin Maggie's handsome Caucasian friend, Weaver, shared an unexpected but long-desired passionate encounter. East is East and West is West, and Weaver seems to want to keep it that way, but maybe Clint can bridge that great divide this coming New Year, and show Weaver what it means to be loved and accepted.

Herc and Pyotr (Storming Love Series: Meteor Strikes #5)
Publisher: MLR Press, LLC (March 24, 2016)
Amazon Kindle: Herc and Pyotr (Storming Love Series: Meteor Strikes #5)

Herc thought he had the perfect life: a great partner and a meaningful career as a psychotherapist--until his partner left him a week ago and Herc became too depressed to see his clients. When a random meteorite punched a tidy hole in his car's engine, it seemed like the world had it in for him, but bumping into Pyotr, the handsome older man who's moved in a couple of doors down and happens to study things like falling stars, things might be looking up for Herc--and more may be falling than the skies in this light-hearted, apocalyptic romance.

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards: The Art House by Scarlett Knight (159-06-24-2016)

1) My goodness, what a delightful surprise this turned out to be. The concept of the Art House itself was absolutely sublime, and the way Knight plays with her characters, drawing out their innermost pain by indulging their deepest pleasures, was wonderful. As much as I enjoy bisexual erotica, it rarely works on a romantic level - but here is most certainly did. It's one of those books where all the elements mesh so perfectly that you'd rather have to worry at the seams to find the tiniest of flaws.

2) It's good to see a book with a bisexual main character who has interesting and sensual relationships with both a man and a woman, and who chooses not which gender to love but which individual.

The Art House by Scarlett Knight
Bisexual Erotic Romance
Publisher: Dark Hollows Press, LLC (April 13, 2016)
Amazon Kindle: The Art House

Granted the opportunity to model for world-famous yet reclusive artist Edgar, journalist Janelle Ryan thinks she's finally landed the story of her career. What she doesn't realize is that by staying at Edgar's famous "Art House," her focus shifts from the news story to experiencing an unexpected personal awakening of her mind, body, and soul.

As a consequence, painful emotions she's been repressing for years begin to reemerge. Facing her demons head on, she realizes what is most important to her - how to forgive, and most importantly, how to love again.

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

2016 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Ravenhearth by Lotus Oakes (217-07-26-2016)

1) I enjoyed this fantasy novel a lot. The world was original and well described, likewise the characters. I felt as if I were in the castle, feeling the drafts down the long corridors and shivering at the dark stairway to the tower. I could see the plot twist coming, but it was none the worse for that - the revelation that the love interest was the master all along was satisfying. The only things that weren't quite perfect were the brief sections away from the castle, which felt like diversions and just in there to ramp up the angst prior to the happy ending. A good introduction to a new author for me, though.

2) This is a four star story. I like the character of Ash. The book had a spec fic / fantasy feel. The blurb provided: In a world covered by a deadly miasma, humans survive by way of the protection of powerful mages known as Keepers. In the town of Ravenhearth, the Keeper requests a companion every ten years. What happens to them after those ten years, no one knows, for none has ever returned. I did feel that there could have been more world building and more explanation about the system of Keepers and some backstory on the miasma. The dialogue was on point, and the story moved quickly. It was a good read and would recommend for anyone looking for an MM romance with a spec fic/fantasy story line.

3) This is the type of story that keeps you guessing 'til the end. Who is the real mage, Ravenhearth or Giles? Well, Without giving away the answer and spoiling the story, let's just say that it was quite the surprise to me. It had me fooled until near the end when the mystery unraveled itself. It was quite entertaining, although, sometimes I wanted to grab Ash, one of the main MCs, by the shoulders and shake the stupidity out of him. :D Well done, Lotus Oakes. This was my first book from this author. Might read more from them.

Ravenhearth by Lotus Oakes
Gay Fantasy Romance
Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (January 11, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620047179
ISBN-13: 978-1620047170
Amazon: Ravenhearth
Amazon Kindle: Ravenhearth

In a world covered by a deadly miasma, humans survive by way of the protection of powerful mages known as Keepers. In the town of Ravenhearth, the Keeper requests a companion from Ash's village every ten years. What happens to them after those ten years, no one knows, for none has ever returned. Ash is a young orphan who dreams of learning magic. When the newest request for a companion is posted, he volunteers. Upon his arrival, he finds the Keeper's home is nothing like the fearful whispers shared around the village. Instead, he slowly grows to be a part of the close-knit family of the Keeper's castle—and falls for Giles, the butler of Ravenhearth, rather than the man he's been sent there to attend.

Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

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andrew potter

GRL Featured Blog: M.A. Church

Werecats, aliens, and country boys… Oh my!

Recently a fan pointed out that my books revolve around three major things: shifters, aliens, and country boys. At first I laughed, then I got to thinking… and then I got to checking. *grin* And what you know? She was right.

I won’t lie—my first love is paranormal. Or is it science fiction? Okay, okay! It’s both of them, lol. So what drew me to them? There are no easy answers. There’s something about taking a character and making him into something more that appeals to me. Always has. Aliens can have any color skin, eyes, hair, extra body parts—whatever my imagination comes up with. It’s a thrill I can’t explain.

So, my fascination with werecats…. What possessed me to write about normal, everyday house cats? Well, normal is nothing more than an illusion, and my werecats are very grateful for it too! While I love the big and sexy shifters like werewolves, I wanted to do something that revolved around the felines. I’d done a story about a cougar shifter, so I wanted something a little different this time.

I based the series on my cat, Kitty-Kitty, and my love of cats. Thus my version of werecats—but they’re much larger than the normal house housecats. My werecats aren’t as big as werecougars, but they are the size of Savannahs, which are pretty big hybrids. Unlike Savannahs, my werecats don’t have the same coloration.

Did someone say aliens? In my sci-fi books, I’ve created aliens who had tentacles. I wanted these aliens to be a little scary but sexy too. So how do you make tentacles sexy? It wasn’t easy, but trust me, it can be done. ;) I’ve also created aliens with snakelike qualities like slitted pupils and forked tongues.

Other characters ended up being nonshifting, snakelike paranormals who looks human until something happens to bring forth the Vetala side of their nature. The Vetala are also often compared to vampires. I’ve dabbled in fantasy with characters with the ability to breathe underwater who were not mermen, but I’ve also written mermen, lol.

And finally, the oddball of the bunch—my country boys—who tend to show up even in my paranormal and sci-fi books. I don’t write a lot of contemporary, but I’m working on changing that. An upcoming contemporary book has one the main characters as a country boy. Of course. That won’t be out until November, though.

It Takes Two to Tango will be released by Dreamspinner on September 26th. This is Remi’s book, and the third book in the Fur, Fangs, and Felines series.

Blurb:
Can two very different men find the love they need to survive?

Remi Ginn’s an easygoing werecat with a love of snarky T-shirts who would be perfectly happy with a human mate. Is that what the goddess Bast gives him? Of course not. Instead she gifts him with Marshell, a Vetala: a snakelike nonshifter who drinks blood to survive. A man who’s just as toppy as Remi—and even more powerful than the West Falls Clowder’s Alpha and heir apparent.

While Remi decides whether he can handle the fates’ choice, hunters attack Marshell. In an explosion of passion, Remi and Marshell mate and Remi declares Marshell his. Now they have to figure out how to make their relationship work as they dance around each other.

The clowder is in turmoil, and Remi’s acceptance of Marshell rocks the very foundation of the insular group. The consequences will be far-reaching. And if that isn’t problem enough, the situation with the hunters is far from resolved… as the appearance of an Alpha werewolf proves.

Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/it-takes-two-to-tango-by-ma-church-7563-b

Exclusive Excerpt:

Remi
I loved my job as a beta. I loved my clowder. I didn’t want to leave if Dolf couldn’t accept Marshell, but I also didn’t what to lose my mate. Mates were a gift from our goddess Bast, and we didn’t turn our backs on such a gift.
“Remi, I think you and Marshell need to talk.” Aidric pushed his food around on his plate too. “Marshell may be powerful. He may even be more powerful than you. But Dolf, has anyone asked him if he’s even interested in leading a group? He can’t challenge you for position since he’s not a werecat. Am I right about that?”
“You’re right,” Alpha Armonty said. “He can’t. But what if he let his power leak around the clowder members? That could erode Dolf’s position as Alpha. Or what if they refused to accept Marshell because of it? Dolf is well liked. Our members could be threatened by Marshell’s power.”
“What if we called a meeting and told the clowder? The Vetala don’t live in groups like us or werewolves, do they?” Brier asked.
“No,” I said. “They don’t. At the most you’ll have a hunting pair. They hunt in twos as a precaution. Other than that they stay to themselves. Janelle and Marshell hunt together, and they lived together after they moved here. Well, until Janelle met Sam and Heller met Lawson. They still hunt together, though.”
“‘Hunt.’ Earlier you called the humans they fed from ‘prey.’ Am I the only one who finds that kind of freaky?” Brier asked.
“We shift. For all we know, they find our shifting kind of freaky,” I spat. Oh yeah, I was beginning to see why Dolf reacted as he did when he told us about Kirk.
“I didn’t mean it as an insult.” Brier held up his hand. “But come on, Remi. You telling me it doesn’t freak you out some? I’m guessing your mate would want to feed from you. I mean, he would, wouldn’t he? Even though you’re not human?”
Shit. He would hit on the one thing I couldn’t answer.
“Okay, I’m going to throw this out there, so don’t yell at me,” Aidric said before I could formulate a response to Brier’s question. “Our clowder is already uneasy since we’ve added two humans—”
Dolf sighed. “This again? Dammit, they are not—”
“Yes, yes, they’re no longer human since they mated two of ours,” Aidric hurriedly added. “But they weren’t born werecats. They grew up with different values and beliefs. Now we’re talking about accepting another paranormal—which we’ve never done in our clowder until Janelle—who’s stronger than our Alpha.”
“It’s a problem,” Brier agreed.
“Look, the man’s my mate,” I snapped, my anger rising. “While I don’t want to leave you guys or my clowder… he’s my mate. Do you get that? I’ve watched how Kirk fought to be accepted. Hell, he still fights. Lawson probably will too. I’ve already heard rumblings about Janelle from some of the older clowder members and—”
“Wait a minute. Rumblings? What are you talking about?” Aidric demanded. “Dolf?”
“After her and Sam’s joining ceremony, the betas and Alpha met at Sam’s house for the welcoming party we always have,” Dolf said, rubbing at his eyes. “A few of the elders’ wives dropped off food—again, as they always do—then left. Janelle had a few words to say about there not being any other women there but her.”
“She referred to us as a ‘good ol’ boys club’ and pointed out there are no women as betas either,” Heller said. “That there are very few women business owners. She asked Lawson if our clowder was stuck in the nineteen twenties.”
Dolf massaged his temples.
“How do you know she said that to Lawson?” Alpha Armonty asked. “Lawson wasn’t at the party after the joining ceremony. It was just those of us with rank.”
“She said that to Lawson after the joining ceremony,” Heller said.
“We’ve never had a woman try for a beta position,” Alpha Armonty added. “That’s why we don’t have one.”
“Do they even know they can?” Heller took a deep breath. “I feel I should add that Lawson considers Janelle and Marshell family. If Mrshell isn’t accepted, Lawson has let me know it’s going to be a problem for him.”
“Now what does that mean?” Dolf demanded.
“He’ll leave the clowder,” Heller said. “He says if the man he considers a brother isn’t good enough for us, then neither is he. If he leaves, then I go with him.”
“So I might end up losing two of my betas?” Dolf slammed his hand on the table. “No, dammit. I won’t. All of you matter too much to me.”
“Janelle is right about the small-minded attitudes, Dolf. That might make some mad, but it’s true. You don’t want to lose us? Then this clowder needs to come out of the nineteen hundreds and join the twenty-first century. I won’t walk away from Marshell.” I sat back in my chair.
Well, looks like I made up my mind what to do about my very powerful, very deadly mate.



Author Bio:
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!
When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.
She was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, runner up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards, and is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Author Links:
Blog * Twitter * Facebook * The Harvest FB fan page * Goodreads * Amazon * E-mail *




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