Friday, 19 May 2017

The Truth About Goodbye by Russell Ricard


This review was first published on the WROTE Podcast LGBT website. 

The Truth About Goodbye is the self-assured debut novel from Russell Ricard, handling a tough subject with humour and grace. How does one move on from the grief of losing one’s husband? Of course, everyone is different, but it is Sebastian’s story which is told here. On the face of it, an ageing chorus boy, is dealing with two significant life events. The one year anniversary of the death of his husband, and turning 40 in the midst of an unforgiving and cruel environment; the New York show scene.


Sebastian’s well-meaning friend, Chloe, tries to make him feel better by setting him up with a date, failing miserably as Sebastian is still trying to accept and move on from his husband’s death. (Not surprisingly. A year is not that long when it comes to the loss of a true love.) Sebastian has tried a variety of distractions, including throwing himself into his choreographing work, with limited success. In the end, he has to face his grief alone, with all the requisite elements it throws at him. Anger, both at himself and his husband for leaving him, guilt at what was said or not said on the night he died, and fright at the thought of losing what they had forever, and erasing it with someone new. Through techniques taught by his lifestyle guru and grief counsellor, Sebastian gradually learns to accept his aloneness, and not be afraid of it. It is this journey of acceptance and dealing with loss, on which the novel is founded.
A very self-assured book, yet not an over-confident one.
Sebastian has lost a lot, as we discover through the book. Abandoned at birth, then losing his eccentric but much-loved adoptive parents, followed by the death of his husband, it seems inevitable that Sebastian expects to lose everything he loves. As he gradually learns to accept that loss, and realises that life is for living, not waiting to die, we see him blossom from a fragile, vulnerable man to one who regains his confidence and vitality. The emotional way he finally looks back on the night his husband dies, and eventually accepts it, is accomplished. Like I said at the beginning, this is a very self-assured book, yet not an over-confident one.
I didn’t get the strong feeling this was a “New York” novel, or even one set in the show business arena. There are elements of dance, as Sebastian is shown tutoring a group who are already stealing his thunder as younger, fitter versions of himself, but the main story is about how he deals with a painful event in a life that has been defined by loss. The author has a talent for letting the reader into the lives of his characters from the beginning. Sebastian is flawed but you feel his pain, as he doubts his own sanity and viability as a man alone. Middle-aged wild child, Chloe, is frustrating but ultimately endearing. Greg, Sabastian’s nemesis and rival, could easily be a caricature but somehow manages not to be. And Reid, Sebastian’s potential love interest, is cute as a button and kind with it, but is it too soon for Sebastian to find love?
Due to the central premise of the book, there is a fair amount of navel-gazing, but Sebastian’s friends provide light relief, notably ex-Rockette Chloe. The dialogue between them felt real and convincing. Sebastian comes across as fragile, needy, a little bit tetchy, but ultimately I liked him and wished him well. You get to know about his family, why he is the way he is. It’s a balanced story that pulls you with it, like a seemingly calm river hiding rip currents beneath the surface. I found it to be that rare thing, a fairly light read that leaves an echo long after it has been completed.

BLURB


Sebastian Hart has dealt with a lifetime of goodbyes. And now, a year after his husband Frank’s death, the forty-year-old Broadway chorus boy still blames himself. After all, Sebastian started the argument that night over one of Frank’s former date items, someone younger than Sebastian who still wanted Frank.

Challenged by his best friend, the quirky ex-Rockettes dancer Chloe, Sebastian struggles toward his dream of becoming a choreographer and grapples with romantic feelings for Reid, a new student in his tap class.

Ultimately, Sebastian begins to wonder whether it’s his imagination, or not, that Frank’s ghost is here, warning him that he daren’t move on with another love. He questions the truth: Is death really the final goodbye?

Sugar & Spice by Garett Groves


Hello! Review time again. This review first appeared on the WROTE Podcast LGBT writers website.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although part of a series (Spice of Life), it was a standalone, straightforward read, with zingy dialogue and two engaging main characters.
When I first started reading, I thought Max, the young, hot, clueless wannabe model, was a bit of a knob, to be honest (US readers, that isn’t a good thing.) He certainly didn’t endear himself to me when we were first introduced. Yes, he has the body, but he also has a self-destructive streak that I wanted to slap out of him. It was hardly surprising that Lucas, the older man who had been around the block a few times, was wary when Max made play for him in a gay bar. Encounters like that seem rarely destined to last.

But Lucas was a sweetie. I had the feeling that the author was trying for David Gandy, but I read Lucas as Henry from Cucumber. The image was thankfully shaken off when he and Max first hook up for their first pearl-clutching sexual encounter, after which, Lucas has the presence of mind to leave, rather than fall headlong into an improbable “mind-blowing sex all night” scenario.

And it is this restraint which makes the book work. Max does all the running. Lucas is the one holding back. At 45, he has doubts about his viability both as a lover and and photographer, so when Max has eyes for no-one else, he is understandably wary.

Max is also learning a sharp lesson in humility, after being fired from his job and dumped as favoured model for his photographer ex-boyfriend, but he is also wary of Lucas’s motives for wanting to hire him for his own photography purposes.

When they begin to work together, the awkwardness is almost painful, and Lucas’s attempts to make things right between Max and his former crush are excruciating, but in a good, “read it behind my fingers” way. You’re never really sure whether these two will make a successful couple. The odds seem stacked against them, for all Lucas’s wealth and Max’s worldliness, but the pay-off is worth the slow burn. (No spoilers – the author guarantees an HEA on Amazon. Also, no cheating or cliffhangers – good to know for people who hate both, like me.)

The author has paced this book very skilfully, creating an enjoyable, fun read with depth, and characters that feel real and well-rounded. And Lance, Max’s frenemy, is hilarious. I spent most of the book not trusting him, expecting him to stab Max in the back. Will he? Won’t he? Read it and find out.

BLURB

After getting rejected by the only guy that he’s ever allowed himself to feel something more than lust for, Max Williams has convinced himself that the bachelor’s life is the only way for him to live. At 28, Max has everything he needs for it: a smoking body, just enough money to keep the drinks coming, and an endless supply of guys that are more than happy to keep his bed warm at night. Still, he can’t shake the feeling that something is missing.

When he loses his day job thanks to his partying and the modeling career he’d been trying to build collapses, Max isn’t sure of so sure of himself anymore, but there’s one thing he knows without a doubt: something’s got to give.


Lucas White has a reputation of his own–and he’s tired of it. The security provided by his cushy job as editor-in-chief of a legendary local photography magazine has kept him stagnant for too long both professionally and personally. He never dreamed he’d be able to retire by the age of 45 and start his own passion project, but that’s exactly where he’s found himself and it hasn’t been an easy transition.

While celebrating his last day at the office, Lucas and Max get up close and personal at a new bar and Lucas’s entire world turns into a photo negative. Max is the perfect model that he’s been looking for to bring fresh eyes to his new venture, but he looks so much like someone who once broke his heart–and Lucas isn’t sure that he can look at Max’s beautiful body every day for work without continuing to touch it.

Against his better judgment, Lucas hires Max. As they start working together, the line between employer and employee quickly blurs, and not even the pact they made to remain strictly professional seems to keep things in focus. Though they know better, neither man can resist their desire for something more–but Max is afraid of commitment, and Lucas can’t stomach the idea of being taken advantage of by another pretty face. 

Will their differences bring them down, or will they come together like sugar and spice?

Saturday, 15 April 2017

I'm Now On Instagram!

Yes, folks, I've discovered another way of reaching out to you, after being reliably informed that all the wise authors use Instagram instead of Facebook, where they are too easily distracted by cat videos and heated discussions.

They obviously hadn't heard of Cats Of Instagram, or followed Bianca del Rio. 

Anyhoo, I'm now on Instagram, so if you want to stalk me, I post lovely pictures of the Chilterns countryside, my cat, clouds, and teasers/excerpts from my books, and my name on there is.......





Hope to see you there!

Friday, 14 April 2017

An Asian Minor: The True Story of Ganymede (Audiobook) by Felice Picano


This book was originally written in 1981 by Felice Picano, and details the early life and career of Ganymede, as told by the alluring boy in his own words. It is extremely well-written, a colourful, ribald account of his escapades as he fights off the attentions of men of all rank and age. His beauty also captures the attention of various Immortals, who will go to great lengths to seduce him. It probably should be noted to those unfamiliar with Ancient history that Ganymede is 12 at the beginning of the book, so 21st century sensibilities do not apply.

The book hasn’t been in print for a long while, but now it has been republished as an audiobook, narrated in a salacious drawl by Jason Frazier. This is the first audiobook I have listened to all the way through. The delivery is everything, especially with a book that could be dismissed as being either too highbrow by some or too lightweight by others. This would be a shame. In fact, it is a witty, sexy, sometimes humorous account of Ganymede’s life. The reader gets a peephole view into the lusty world of Troy and its inhabitants, where beauty is highly prized and judged at every turn. Ganymede is the most beautiful of all boys, gaining sexual experience with a variety of Immortal lovers, before being disgraced and shunned for rejecting the top man, Zeus; probably not his greatest career move.

Jason Frazier’s voice should have an R rating. He could read a telephone directory and make it ooze with sexual promise. The book itself is not explicit, but the theme of lust runs through it in a pulsing thread. Ganymede learns humility, but still retains an arrogance that only truly beautiful people can get away with. He isn’t particularly likeable, but that doesn’t matter. His story is told in such rich and gorgeous detail, one cannot help but be captivated. This is a book to be savoured at home, rather than driving, or in a public place, as it would be a crime to miss a single word.

I was given a copy of this Audiobook in return for an honest review.

His Competent Woman by Ellen Whyte


This is the first in a new genre for Ellen Whyte, who is better known as dark romance/suspense author AJ Adams.

I was expecting great things of this book, which is a fairly quick read at 100 pages, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a hugely enjoyable addition to the popular BBW-Billionaire genre, with an engaging character in the form of Emma, struggling to make ends meet with her young son, who has just been diagnosed as dyslexic. In order to pay for the equipment and tutoring he will need in the future, she has to find a job, and fast, but her interview with billionaire Curtis West does not go well. When his PA suddenly quits, Emma in the right place at the right time and she blags her way into the job. Curtis has his own secret, which Emma is well-qualified to help him with. 

Straight away, it was obvious this didn’t fit into the normal tropes of quick-read romances. For a start, Emma has a son with educational needs, and Curtis quickly becomes less of a tiger and more of a pussycat under Emma’s no-nonsense approach. The company that Curtis heads up isn’t there for window-dressing. He actually knows what he’s talking about. The author has done her research well and it feels effortless. Yes, it’s a romance, but it’s heart is based in reality, which makes both characters likeable from the start and gives the story a lot of depth for a relatively short book. 

The story is written in the first person, first from Emma’s point of view and then Curtis’s. Normally, I’m not keen on this, but because each chapter is marked with the name of the person talking, it actually works. After a few pages, I just didn’t think about it. It’s always worth mentioning though.

Finally, I loved the way Emma shared her most private thoughts with the reader, and some of them were very sexy. There is one hot scene which I won’t spoil but it is more romantic than balls-out sexy, and it totally fitted with the tone of the book.

So a quality read from Ms. Whyte, and a worth-while, intelligent addition to an increasingly crowded genre. If you only ever read one BBW-Billionaire romance, make it this one!

Monday, 10 April 2017

I identify as someone who listens, and takes heed when necessary

The original title of this post was "The Only Time In History When 'A Woman Should Know Her Place" really does apply." A couple of people have informed me that they found this title degrading, so I've changed it, and apologise for the offence caused.


Just putting this here to save me the effort of explaining yet again. These six ill-advised words will haunt Kindle Alexander’s writing career for a good long while after the recent debacle, and plenty more words have been said about the whole thing, which was presumably said in a flippant manner without any idea of the disapprobation about to rain down on her cisgender, female author head. I don't suppose we will ever know why she said it, because she hasn't thought to quantify her statement, only saying that she's an Ally (capital letter A) and that the haters should stop hating. There has since been an apology but I'm not going to go there with this post. It's just .... no. 

But isn't this interesting? Suddenly, as a result of Ms. Alexander's monumental FUBAR post, the whole MM Romance genre has a rather tainted, smells-like-rancid-cod air about it, with several high profile authors questioning whether they actually belong in the genre at all. A community that is used to being marginalised has been shoved out yet again, by women readers who don't want to know the nasty bits about being gay. The problem is, there is a LOT of them, outnumbering the people they are actually reading about. 

Come on, sisters, we should know better than this! We know what it is like not to have the vote, to be denied proper education, to be forced into marriage, to be overlooked for the top job, to be objectified and blamed for mens' weaknesses. We've fought tooth and nail and made huge sacrifices to claw back some equality to men, so why are we doing this to the gay community? I don't understand it. Those people saying, it's just a bit of fun, just don't get the bigger picture. It might be fun to be fabulous, but not if you can't walk safely home afterwards. We KNOW this, so what is the problem with acknowledging it in our fiction?

Unfortunately, I think with all these posts, there is an element of preaching to the choir, but you know, posting does help to sort your thoughts out into some kind or order, so maybe next time someone says something really dumb on the net, you might be able to save them from themselves. 

Or not....

Now an observation. A lot of male gay authors have written their own, eloquent and rightly infuriated, posts, but as yet, when I’ve looked for posts from cisgender female authors on the same subject, I hear nothing but crickets. This seems strange, as the MM Romance genre is bulging with female romance writers publishing MM fiction, so where are their voices? No-one seems to be saying a goddamned thing. If I’m subsequently proven wrong, then I will gladly withdraw this statement but nothing has come up on my newsfeed so far, which I think is odd.

If you can find anything, post the link and I'll share it!

The next thing, the the main reason for the post, is that we can all learn something from this. When I first saw KA's post, I thought immediately, “maybe she’s trans, and she’s just come out, so good for her!” But something felt a bit …. off, especially when I saw the comments, with lots of LOL’s and “me too!” and hearts, etc. It just didn’t feel… right. But I didn’t say anything, mainly because I couldn't quantify WHY it didn't feel right.

But the more I thought about it, the more stupid that post sounded. And THAT was the moment when I should have messaged her and said ‘y’know, that post may well piss a few people off (understatement) so if I were you, I’d reconsider it.” But I didn’t, because by then, someone else had noticed and said, “wait…. WHAT?” I do wish I had tried to say something to her. I'm not sure it would have made any difference, but I should have tried, as a fellow cisgender female author, because a lot of people DID feel hurt by this, and some trans people feel invalidated because a flippant comment makes light of their very real struggle. 

So this comes to M/M Romance, the tarnished genre which has actually brought about an honest discussion about what being part of it actually means. First off, TALENT IS NOT GOVERNED BY GENDER. This is not a poke at all women writers, but if MM Romance means the stereotypical, pornographic books with cardboard cutout MM protagonists, written for a female audience, then I’m not interested, thanks very much. For a while, I’ve felt uncomfortable with the whole, slightly giddy, MM Romance thing, the objectification of men, and the blinkered readers who resent it when gay men point out that they’ve been marginalised by their own genre. I’d really like my books to be read by the audience I intended them for; LGBTQIA, etc.THEY ARE NOT EXCLUSIVELY FOR WOMEN. I was very fortunate to “meet” an author who is very special to me. SA Collins, please step forward.) He said that the main thing I must remember was to respect the people I was writing about. So I do. Well …. I treat them with the same healthy disrespect that I treat all my characters with, regardless of gender, race, class, etc., but I got what he meant. I will never know what it is like to walk in the shoes of a gay person, to keep watching over my shoulder, to be called ‘faggot.' There ARE certain similarities with women’s rights and struggles, but they are not the same and never will be. They are equally as valid, but equally as different.

I for one try to remember my place. As a woman I still have more rights than many gay people. It would be wise for us never to forget that, and to be an ally (no capital letter necessary.)

















Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Beauty And The Beast (2017 - PG)

**** stars

I've just been to watch Beauty And The Beast, something I was looking forward to as I loved the original, and there is nothing like knowing the story so you can settle down and just enjoy the movie, rather than be awed, terrified, disturbed, etc., etc. Sometimes, just watching and enjoying is enough. 

And it didn't disappoint, staying very close to the original and throwing in some in-jokes that will go way over the kids' heads. The sets are lavish, and the musical numbers as accomplished as you would want them to be. Emma Watson is not a natural singer but she has good back up with an impressive cast of tuneful villagers, and she does well, with a light, clear voice that suits her role. One quibble would be that she isn't very animated, especially during the Be My Guest number, when you would expect her to show delight, maybe bounce in her seat a little. Instead, she was curiously passive, with her usual calm smile. I couldn't help thinking I was watching Hermione Granger, albeit with a better wardrobe. Talented as she is, she seems to be the same in every movie she stars in, even down to her hairstyle.

The film is long, over 2 hours, and bearing in mind the target audience, it could have been shaved by about 1/2 hour. There were a couple of extra songs, and an odd sequence involving a trip to Paris that could have been dispensed with, neatening the whole thing. I could see why they did it, to develop the relationship between the two main characters so they weren't just falling in love over a snowball fight, and to help Beauty understand what had happened to her mother, but it felt out of place and was ultimately unnecessary. The new songs were good, but ultimately forgettable and I'm sure smaller viewers would be wriggling at this point, wanting to get on with the story. This is a tale that doesn't need to be messed with too much, and it was the finer details that were far more fun; Le Fou's camp sidekick, the three tough guys turned into queens, Gaston's utter odiousness, the tender relationship between Lumiere and his feather duster lover, and the frankly eye-popping special affects that ran through the whole film. It was a gorgeous, colourul Regency extravaganza, so rich in detail, ones' eyes were in danger of suffering from indigestion. Those prone to migraines or with an aversion to sweet things take note. Toothache and gripes might ensue in natural-borne cynics, but I loved it. If I watch it again at home, though, I'll probably make a cup of tea during the prolonged pub scene. There is only so much Gaston self-love I can take. 





Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Angels Fall by N.S. Beranek

This book is like walking through a Mardi Gras festival; colourful, confusing and fantastical, laced with horror and throbbing with erotic promise.

It is worth noting that the book is written in the present tense, which puts the reader right in the heart of Beranek’s world from the get go.

The blurb assumes a lot when it says “when a member of the created family he’s focused on instead comes under threat from a mysterious illness, Ehrichto strikes a deal with his own sire, to return to the sire’s bed in exchange for his help.” I get that this is vampire-speak, but I was left thinking “huh?”

If it puts some people off, that would be a shame, because although the book isn’t that long, it is packed so full of beautiful details and lavish descriptions, it feels like an all-round sensory experience. The smell of blood and sun-tan oil, fresh bodies and sexual promise, all drip from the page. The author has built this incredible, colourful, savage world, filled with family drama, vampire politics, and sexual undertones. There isn’t a lot of actual sex, but despite that, it is a very erotically-charged book. Very clever and not easily accomplished.

An all-round sensory experience

There are a lot of characters, and a lot of different dynamics at play, so much so it seemed confusing at times. I’m still not sure what the relevance of Dorjan’s character is. I feel I have to read the book again to fully grasp all the delicate nuances. Again, this would delight some readers, but I wasn’t wholly gripped enough to do so. As a book reviewer, I don’t have time to read the same book twice. This is a shame, but it’s the author’s job to explain it through the story, not my job to rummage through the book until I finally get it.

Having said that, I believe there is scope for a series. There are some great personalities here, all of which are colourfully described and given their own distinctive voice. I loved Michael’s family, and the way the author dealt with his coming out, the confusion of his parents, his horrendous social-climbing mother. The setting of scenes is first class, and consistent throughout the book. I really wish I loved it more than I did, but the chaotic story-line was a little too distracting for my taste.

No doubt about it though. This is a clever and literary addition to the vampire genre.

Monday, 20 March 2017

FOOLED Y'ALL!



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Book Review: A Woman's Worth by Chicki Brown


I loved this story. On the surface, it is a very easy read. Gianne is a strong woman, a cancer survivor is just picking up her life after her illness, and the departure of a dickless boyfriend who was scared off by the serious nature of her diagnosis. 


Then she meets Marc, part of the charismatic Stafford clan, and before you can say "raw vegan food evangelist" she is travelling across the country to Las Vegas, for three months of fitness training, diet, and will they/won't they dynamics. Cynics will roll their eyes at this point but if so, this book is not for you. Saved from TV movie sentimentality by the author's writing and ability to draw her characters, this is a warm-hearted cuddle of a book, but one with an edge. Maybe some will object to the raw foods message. I know a few found it heavy-handed, but I didn't. It was interesting, but didn't make me feel guilty about my burger and fries. 

Marc has his own family issues (don't we all?) and they were dealt with very entertainingly. The guy is hot, hot, hot! Perhaps a little good to be true? Whatever, he was a real sweetheart, and I loved him and Gianne together. Gianne didn't take any crap, either. Yes, she decided to go to Las Vegas, but she was pragmatic, knowing she had to return, scared of commitment yet not averse to a little fun. I loved her. I want her and her friends as my friends. She was a girl to root for.

Equally, Marc's family were complicated, competitive, aspirational, each with their own resentments but held together by their mother, who was awesome. The book really came alive when the family were together. I know this is the first in the Stafford Family series, so it will be interesting to watch these stories develop!

Finally, cancer is a tough subject that can be excruciating if clumsily dealt with, but the writer has done a brilliant job. Gianne lives her life six months at a time, from all-clear to all-clear. All through the book, I was never sure which way it was going to go, and I needed to know. Now I do, the last thing I'm going to do is tell you. Read it yourself. 



Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Three great reviews, and why they matter

So grateful for these great reviews for Closer Than Blood. They all came in this week, which was incredible! Reviews are there for the reader, but all authors are (or should be) grateful for the feedback they receive, whatever it is. And on Amazon, the more reviews you have, regardless of the stars, the more likely you are to be noticed by Amazon, and therefore get more exposure. It's a win/win. Just don't take the criticism personally. You can't please everyone all the time, but so far, people seem to like Closer Than Blood. Why not try it for yourself and see what people are raving about?


Review and Excerpt: Last Shot at Justice by Kristi Cramer




Last Shot at Justice by Kristi Cramer is out NOW!
Enter to Win a Signed Copy: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ef1f1d8320

Detective Mitzi Reardon just became the prime suspect in a murder she didn’t commit. On the run from enemies and coworkers alike, Mitzi must put her trust in Blue Thomas, an old-school cowboy from Kansas. Against all odds, they must bring the real killer to justice.


As a trap closes around them, Mitzi devises a bold escape strategy that may just get both of them killed.

Reviews

"Kristi Cramer knows how to keep the suspense pumping in this never-a-dull-moment thriller." Calvin Dean, author of Curses, A Door Unlocked, and The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff.

"Stunning dialogue between the characters. Humorous and action-packed. Blue feels like a real person." N.D. Taylor, author of The Spellbound Consortium series of Urban Fantasy.

Last Shot at Justice is A Thomas Family Novel, a series of suspenseful standalone novels featuring characters connected to the Thomas Family of Syracuse, Kansas. (Series was formerly titled The Boys of Syracuse, Kansas.)


My Review

Exceptionally good romantic suspense story. Really well written, with sparky dialogue and great character development. I immediately warmed to Mitzi, the tough cop on the run, and Blue, her mild-mannered cowboy accomplice. A real page turner, full of excitement and goodwill. Not much in the way of sex. This is a romance, not erotica, and the way the characters fall for each other over the duration of the book is sweet without being turgid or sickly. I'll definitely be checking out more of this author's writing.








Excerpt from Last Shot at Justice


Mitzi looked to see the cowboy holding his coat open, inviting her to step under it. “I’m all right,” she demurred.
   “You’re wet enough,” he said. “Walk with me under here and you won’t get worse.”
   She almost protested, then realized she might be less conspicuous outside if she accepted his offer. She stepped under his proffered arm and stretched one arm across his waist to latch onto his belt, the other pulled his coat close around her. He was so much taller than her that she fit right under his arm, and his coat formed a tent above her. Most important to her at the moment was the fact that he was warm, and big enough to offer real protection against the danger she was in—though it went against all her training to involve him.
   In the moment before they moved, she studied his face again. Lightly tanned skin, high cheekbones, strong chin, straight nose. Fair-colored brows slightly furrowed above curious brown eyes that softened his otherwise angular face. His mild, vaguely bemused expression suggested she had nothing to worry about. From him.
   Stepping out the door into the pouring rain, he guided her to the right. There was no one on the street outside the 8-Ball Tavern, and she breathed a sigh of relief before urging the man along. He looked down at her from beneath his cowboy hat and walked faster.
   Lord, he’s a monster, she thought. He seemed pretty clueless about what was going on though. She figured he must be one of those more-brawn-than-brains football lineman types, which was just as well. He wouldn’t ask questions, and she could go on her way in the morning without worrying that he would get in trouble on her account.
   A man in a gray raincoat rounded the corner, looking the other way, and bumped into them. Mitzi thought he looked like the man she hadn’t recognized at the murder scene.
   “Pardon us, mister,” the cowboy whom the bartender had called Blue said, turning her aside to pass him. She tried not to physically shrink away.
   The man grabbed her escort’s arm, and Blue turned.
   Mitzi peered out from inside the coat as the man sized Blue up, then glanced at her.
   “She all right?”
   She tightened her arm around his waist, and Blue nodded slowly, spoke even slower. “My sister’s just a little drunk. I gotta take her home to Daddy or he’ll skin me alive.”
   The man gave her another glance, then nodded. “Better take care of her, then.” His tone dripped with sarcasm that the cowboy didn’t even acknowledge.
   “You can be sure, mister.”
   The two of them walked around the corner and Mitzi suddenly found it hard to stand on her own two feet, much less walk. When she stumbled, Blue scooped her up as easily as she might pick up a bag of Mr. Tuggles’ cat food and carried her to a beat-up brown Dodge pickup.
   Without setting her down, Blue pulled the passenger door open and set her inside. He peered at her briefly from under the brim of his hat, a small worried frown turning thin lips down. Then he withdrew and closed the door, shutting her inside while the rain poured down like bullets on the metal of the truck.
   Shivering, she reached over to unlock his door only to discover it wasn’t locked.
   He opened the driver’s door and slid onto the seat, glancing at her as he closed the door. Without a word, he turned the engine over and started driving away. She slumped down in the seat so she couldn’t be seen from outside and looked up to see him adjusting the heater setting.
   “Is that your real name? Blue?”
   He nodded without taking his eyes from the road. The wipers flashed across the windshield to sweep away the heavy rain.
   “Where’re you from, Blue?”
   “Kansas, ma’am. Close by Syracuse.”
   “Well, thank you for doing this for me.” The truck had picked up speed after making a few turns, and she figured they were far enough away that she could sit up. It was nearly impossible to tell where they were, though judging by the increasing hills they were heading west, away from Mile High Stadium. “How well do you know Denver?”
   “Not very. I’ve only been here a couple weeks.” He squinted out the window, searching for street signs.
   “Do you know where we are?”
   “Well now, I think I missed my turn a ways back.”
   Headlights appeared in the darkness behind them, and Mitzi turned to look out the back window. The car was coming fast, and she let out a creative oath.
   “Faster, Blue.”
   “I need to turn around,” he said.
   “Do it later.”
   “But....”
   “I’ll find our way to your place. Right now, I want you to lose the car that’s behind us.” She put as much authority in her voice as she could and hoped he would do as she instructed.
   Before he could say anything, the car behind them turned on police lights and flashed headlights to signal him to pull over.
   “It’s the police,” he said in surprise, starting to pull over.
   She jerked the wheel back, sending the truck lurching away from the curb. “Don’t stop. Lose them.”
   “Listen, I don’t have license plates; they’re after me.”
   “No, Blue! If you pull over, I’m dead. You understand?” She tried to push her foot down on the accelerator.
   “Come on. They don’t shoot hookers on sight. Just let me....”
   The unmarked police car behind them bumped them lightly, and Blue gently but inexorably pushed her away from the driver’s side of the truck and pulled over under a street light. “Just sit tight,” he told her. “Nothing’s going to happen to you.”
   “Blue!” she struggled against his restraining hand, but she could only move away from him—she couldn’t make him drive away.
   Behind them, the passenger side of the police car opened up, and a man in a raincoat stepped out. She struggled harder as she recognized the man they’d bumped into. Instead of heading to Blue’s door, he headed for her side of the truck.
   “Please,” she said, turning frantically to Blue. “He’s going to kill me!”

Grab it here! https://www.amazon.com/Last-Justice-Thomas-Family-Novel-ebook/dp/B01MU68DV9/






Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Monday, 6 March 2017

My Interview with AJ Adams, author of The Zeta Cartel series

Read my interview with the incomparable AJ Adams, plus pick up tips on how to create teasers for your own books. Thanks to AJ Adams for this interview. It was a huge amount of fun!


AJ Adams - Romance & Crime : AJ Adams Interview with Jayne Lockwood: Closer than Blood Jayne Lockwood Jayne started writing Black Lace books with Virgin Books as Savannah Smythe. Today she writes under h...

Wonderful World of Books: Blog Tour - Closer Than Blood by Jayne Lockwood!

Wonderful World of Books: Blog Tour - Closer Than Blood by Jayne Lockwood!: Title: Closer Than Blood  Series: Closer Than Blood  Author: Jayne Lockwood Genre: Romantic Suspense Release Date: March ...

Nadine's Obsessed with Books: Closer than Blood by Jayne Lockwood (Blog Tour)

Nadine's Obsessed with Books: Closer than Blood by Jayne Lockwood (Blog Tour): Blog Tour Closer Than Blood Jayne Lockwood Forbidden passion, blackmail and murderous intent in the cold, glitte...

Sapphyria's Book Reviews: Blog Tour ~ Closer Than Blood by Jayne Lockwood

Sapphyria's Book Reviews: Blog Tour ~ Closer Than Blood by Jayne Lockwood: Welcome to the Blog Tour for Closer Than Blood Jayne Lockwood About the Book: Forbidden passion, blackmail and mu...

Monday, 27 February 2017

Closer Than Blood Blog Tour Day 1






Author blog Bounded In A Nutshell calls Closer Than Blood a "dark romp through forbidden territory." Phew!






Closer Than Blood Blog Tour Day 1


On Day 1 of the Closer Than Blood Blog Tour, you can find me loitering on the A J Adams (Sinfully Hot Reads) blog. 

Below is an excerpt from the book. I've chosen Pagan's first conversation with Richard Mason, and he isn't quite what she is expecting...


Pagan was put on hold. Gershwin played again, then the phone clicked. The woman on the other end introduced herself as Eleanor Horne and Pagan went through her spiel again. There was a tiny sound, as if the other woman had sharply drawn in her breath.
‘One moment please.’
Pagan realised she was shaking. God, she was nervous.
‘I’m sorry for the intrusion, Ms. Freemantle, but may I ask you your birth name, birth date and that of your brother?’
Pagan was stunned. She had not been expecting an interrogation.
‘Is this the right number for Richard Freemantle? I really need to speak to him urgently.’
‘I do need you to answer the question, Ms. Freemantle.’ The woman’s voice was firm. Pagan sighed. She had no choice but to play along.
‘Fine! I was born Susan Mary and my birthday is on 25th February 1976. My brother, Anthony James, is the 14th October 1978. Our parents died on 31st October 2007. Their add...’
‘Thank you, Ms. Freemantle, please hold for a moment.’ Eleanor Horne’s unflustered voice cut through Pagan’s increasingly frustrated one. Then, almost immediately, a different voice, curt and male.
‘Mason. Who the hell are you?’
Pagan’s hand tightened on the receiver. He was going to make her go through it yet again, but she was damned before she would.
‘Is that Richard Freemantle?’
‘Was.’ He sounded impatient. ‘What do you want?’
‘Are you always this rude?’
‘It’s the money, isn’t it? That’s why you’re calling? If so, you’ve wasted your time.’
She was momentarily lost for words. He sounded dry and sarcastic, his English accent completely buried under a North American drawl, hardened by urban Manhattan. Whoever she had been expecting, this man was her worst case scenario. Doubled. She took a deep breath.
‘It isn’t about money, but there is something we need to discuss and I don’t want to do it over the phone.’
Silence, then, ‘How did you find me?’
‘I’d … rather not say.’
He sighed loudly. ‘Did you fuck someone for it? Offer to suck his dick?’
She almost dropped the phone. ‘What gives you the right to ask questions like that?’
‘My life consists of three things: work, money and sex. Those are the boundaries in which I think. Besides, I’m family. Answer the question.’
‘No,’ she said faintly. ‘I used my initiative, that’s all. Does that satisfy your curiosity?’
‘Not quite. I want to know if you’re a conniving little bitch like Celia was.’
‘I’m nothing like her!’ She looked around quickly to see if anyone was listening. They all seemed very intent on their work, as she should have been at that moment. ‘We never even lived on the same planet! Why is it so important to you?’
‘She caused my mother a lot of pain. I take offence to that.’
‘It sounds to me as if she did your mother a favour. Celia wasn’t the last of his flings. She was just the one who could organize the best dinner parties! If you have issues with her, that’s fine, but don’t take it out on me.’
‘Why did you change your name?’
‘I ...’ No-one had bothered to ask her before. ‘I didn’t like Susan. It didn’t suit me.’
‘And being an uneducated heathen does?’
‘Fuck you! I don’t have to explain myself to anyone!’
There was an explosion of laughter on the other end of the line. She could not believe he had provoked such a knee-jerk reaction from her. It was time for some damage limitation.
‘Please, let me buy you a drink tonight. I need to talk to you but I can’t do it over the phone.’
Another laugh. ‘This is getting interesting, heathen. I hope you’re not looking for religious enlightenment. God gave up on me a long time ago.’
She took a deep breath, disliking his mocking tone. ‘No, I just need ... to talk to you. Something has happened and you need to be aware of it. That’s all.’
His silence was unnerving before he said, ‘Not tonight, tomorrow. Be at Phil’s Diner at 8.30. It’s on 54th Street. And be on time. I’ve got a plane to catch.’
She quickly jotted the information down. ‘That’s great. I’m …’
The phone crashed down. She was still staring at the receiver when Moira hoisted her considerable buttocks on her desk.
‘Well?’
‘That had to be the most surreal phone call I’ll have this week.’
‘What was he like?’
‘Obnoxious. Thought he could say anything he damned well wanted. We’re meeting tomorrow night but not for long. He has a plane to catch.’ She imbued the sentence with heavy importance. ‘One thing was weird. It was almost like he already knew me. He didn’t even ask what I looked like.’
Moira shrugged. ‘That’s guys for you. Why all this interest in family reunions, all of a sudden?’
‘Can’t say at the moment. Only that Tony has really gone and screwed up this time.'
Moira frowned into her pale, anxious face. ‘You okay, girly?’
Pagan raised a smile. ‘I won’t be if I lose my job. The boss is coming.’ She nodded towards a thin man with a fat beard, weaving his way through the open plan office.

‘Later, girl.’ Moira departed, leaving Pagan to concentrate on her computer screen.



Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Closer Than Blood Blog Tour Feb 27 - Mar 4

Closer Than Blood


Available world-wide as ebook and paperback.
From £2.99
Approx 470 pages

Forbidden passion, blackmail and murderous intent in the cold, glittering heart of Manhattan.

Against his better judgement, slick hitman Frank Mancini falls for the sultry sister of his latest client. He is also hiding a dark secret, but can he get her into bed before his past is revealed? 

Tony Freemantle is dying and desperate. His last wish is to seek vengeance on the half-brother he blames for his misfortunes. He’s never met him. He doesn’t even know what he looks like. All he knows is that he wants him dead. 

Pagan Freemantle is the innocent woman unwillingly caught up in her sibling's deadly plan. When she discovers she has to pay for the hit, her attempts to make a deal throws her headlong into a dangerous attraction with a man who is patently bad news. 

And can she trust Richard Mason, the elusive millionaire half-brother who is just a seductive voice at the end of a telephone? When a road trip to California ends with shocking revelations, it seems Pagan can trust no-one but herself.









Friday, 10 February 2017

Closer Than Blood Blog Tour Sign Up




Closer Than Blood

Blog Tour Sign Up with

DRC Promotions

February 27 - March 3

If you would like to feature this book on your blog

follow this link!









Thursday, 12 January 2017

Teasers For Closer Than Blood

I've been playing around with teasers on PicMonkey. The free download is adequate for most things but because I like to play and get a bit creative, I've moved on to the Royale, which is about $5.00 a month. It's easy to use and I love the results. The only thing is, it wastes so much writing time!

Closer Than Blood is available worldwide, both as ebook and paperback.