Monday, September 18, 2017

Betrayer by Leslie D. Soule (VNBtM, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post by author Leslie D. Soule, who shares her answer to my question...

ELF: Which author(s) has/have been the most influential to you and how or why?

LDS: Well there are a lot of authors whose works I like, but I’d say that the one who has been the most influential to my work has been Orson Scott Card, because I often reference his book, How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy. This book has added a lot of depth to the Fallenwood series, and shows up in things like the Curse that each character has, as the price for doing magic. Orson Scott Card says that you should have a price for magic, like this, in order to avoid having your characters be uber-powerful. There have to be limitations to magic.
This book also really helped me when I wrote my first sci-fi novel, Hybrid Space. Orson Scott Card reminded me that I had to think about things like how fast the ship could go, whether it would be a “generation ship” where multiple generations have lived, and what the overall environment of the ship would be. For this sci-fi novel, I also wanted to get a basic understanding of how space itself worked. For that, I read Stephen Hawking’s novels The Universe In A Nutshell and A Brief History of Time. I’ve always believed that the mark of genius is when a person can explain a very complex idea in terms that anyone can understand, and this is what Hawking does, brilliantly. I’d suggest to anyone writing sci-fi, to start out reading Stephen Hawking’s novels. After I gained the basic ideas of ship environment and how I wanted space to work, I filled in the character details from a story I’d worked on previously, in high school, and the novel took form. Orson Scott Card gives practical advice that keeps you from making mistakes with your sci-fi work, too, such as “never refer to ‘warp speed’ in your fiction. It’s not only bad science, it also pegs you instantly as a writer who knows science fiction only through Star Trek.”
Orson Scott Card’s book also gives practical advice for inventing languages – that’s something I haven’t tried yet in my novels. Perhaps it’ll show up at some point in the future. At any rate, he also has a ton of information on the actual business of writing, and this has been extremely helpful as well.
And then finally, I got a chance to meet Seth Grahame-Smith, the author who wrote Pride& Prejudice & Zombies and AbrahamLincoln: Vampire Hunter. I asked him what the best way would be, to try and get my novels made into movies. He suggested that I write a screenplay, following the guidelines set out in the Screenplay book by Syd Field. So I did, and we’ll see if anything comes of that, but writing a screenplay was an interesting, new experience for me and I feel like that was helpful as well. At any rate, thanks to your readers, for joining me on this blog tour!


by Leslie D. Soule


GENRE:   Fantasy



With five crystals to destroy, in order to rob the dark lord Malegaunt of his power, Ash Kensington's path is set. She begins a quest with the talking cat, Greymalkin, and her wyvern, Slick. But when she meets up with the handsome dragon slayer, Draeon, her senses overwhelm her, and she becomes distracted. Will she be able to destroy the crystals in time to challenge Malegaunt?



“What can I do for ya?”

She looked at the bartender and said sorrowfully, “Give me a spell to make me forget.” I’ve wasted so much time, she thought to herself, and now I don’t know if I can get back on track. Malegaunt is out there, and none of the crystals have been destroyed. It drove her mad.

He shook his head and pushed a pint of dark beer across the bar. “This is the best magic I know. That’s why I’m a bartender.” He pointed down the bar a ways to a man who looked to be in his forties, if not older. He was clothed in a black coat, and his stubbled face was hunched over a glass of what looked like whiskey on the rocks. “Now, that guy over there, on the other hand, he might be able to help ya. People call him the Oracle of the Oasis,” he informed her.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Leslie D. Soule is a fantasy/sci-fi author from Sacramento, CA. She has an M.A. in English from National University, and is currently working on the final book of her fantasy series, The Fallenwood Chronicles.


Links to the previous books in the series:




a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Catch My Fall by Jessica Scott (spotlight, excerpt, and review) New Adult tilte

part of the Falling series
by Jessica Scott
New Adult contemporary romance/military romance


Former Army Sergeant Deacon Hunter is trapped

Trapped in the friend zone. The woman who captured his heart when they were deployed in Iraq has never looked back at the time they stole.

Former Army Sergeant Kelsey Ryder has scars, the kind of scars that no one ever sees, no one ever knows about unless she tells them. Working around the guys at the Pint, she’s reminded of everything she lost when she left the Army behind.

But some scars refuse to stay hidden.

One fateful night changes everything and neither of them know if their relationship will ever be the same.

All Deacon knows is that he’ll be there to catch her when she finally falls.


"Are you okay?"
"Mostly." I should present to be a rational adult and have a reasonable conversation. Anything is better than the status quo, right? “I guess…sometimes things get to me that shouldn’t.”
"Yeah. I get that." I look up at her words, the frustration in her voice echoing the tension clawing at my heart, locking the words I need in my chest. “It’s hard, though. To say when something hurts.”
I say nothing for a long moment. Letting her words sink in. Letting their possibility wrap around me.
Then I move. Silent and slow, I back her up against the wall. "You don’t have to be strong all the time," I tell her softly. Her mouth is there, just there. She is soft against me, soft in all the ways I remember.
Soft in a thousand ways that will torture me for the rest of a lifetime.
"Neither do you." She’s goading me tonight. Crossing boundaries I know she’s set in place. I can’t figure out what’s changed. If it’s the fatigue I see in her eyes or the mixture of that with too much to drink. I don’t know.
And part of me doesn’t care. Part of me only cares that she’s here. That her body is pressed to mine. That I’ve penetrated the space around her and she has not pushed me away.
God, this woman is fierce and amazing. She doesn't back down, doesn't break against the threat anyone else would read in my body.
"I will never forget what happened between us in Iraq. Or when we came home." I reach for her then, cupping her face. Sliding my thumb along her full bottom lip. Wanting so badly to taste her. To end this unnecessary distance between us. “But we don’t have to keep suffering alone. Apart. It doesn’t need to be like this.”
And goddamn her, she presses her lips to my thumb. A gentle kiss. A thousand sensual memories slash through me, ripping away any shred of my composure.
It takes everything I have not to lift her, to urge her legs around my hips and grind against her. I'm hard as a fucking stone. I know she can feel me, solid and hard against her.
She's my addiction. The one woman I dream about when I'm with someone else.
And she knows it. She has to know it.
Her barriers hurt us both.
"We spent four weeks together when we got home and I don't remember any of them. Except the nightmares." She cups my face, brushing her lips against mine. "I can't do that again. I can't get lost in the alcohol and the sex. Because it doesn't help me forget. It only makes it worse."
I lower my forehead to hers, her quiet admission gutting me, ripping through me. That’s why she’s kept us apart. That’s why she’s walked away and pretended there was nothing between us.
Her words hurt; they slice at me, reminding me of how fucking self-centered I was when I first got home, wanting to do nothing more than drink and fuck, then drink some more.
I had no idea how much she was hurting. Because I didn’t bother to look.
"I didn’t know." It’s a pitiful confession. So insufficient. I step back then, releasing her from the wall.
Letting her go when it's the last thing I want. She disappears up the stairs, quiet as a ghost.
I lower my forehead to the wooden shelf holding parts of Eli's extensive and very expensive whiskey collection. We're a long fucking way from that bloodstained container where Kelsey used to live.
But we might as well never have left.
A piece of my soul stayed back there, mixed in with the sand and the bullets and the blood.
Forever entwined with hers.


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My review:

Note from ELF: Full review to follow

4.25 out of 5 stars

"Catch My Fall" by Jessica Scott is an excellent addition to a compelling series that centers around a small college town where military veterans are dealing with reintegrating into civilian life and pursuing higher education degrees. As always, the author paints a vivid portrait of the challenges and frustrations of coping with the indelible changes war has imprinted on their bodies and psyches.

This couple (Deacon and Kelsey) gives a glimpse of the horrendous Catch-22 veterans are caught in while dealing with an overburdened VA and struggling to cope with their respective issues. It was delightful to get glimpses of some of the other characters from the series even as one's emotions are caught up in the struggle as we share in the frustrations, sympathize with the low points, and cheer at the little victories. The realism is sobering and reminds us of the sweeping changes that are needed to help those who have sacrificed so much to keep the rest of us safe. I always enjoy the stories penned by this talented author and this was no exception, and I am anxious to read the next story, especially after devouring the teaser at the end of the book.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review

Other titles in the series:


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Contests, giveaways, and whatnot! (updated 9/18/17)

Whew!  It's been a hectic couple of weeks and I have to wonder whether I am coming or going, lol, since I have spent WAY too much on the freeways. I can't complain as much because I am blessed to not be in an area affected by the horrendous weather issues (and I send good thoughts to all of those affected) but wow, am I behind on everything! are a few of the contests and giveaways that I know are going on right now...

Night Owl Reviews (NOR) has a couple of events going on, but hurry, they end soon.

     The NOR Paranormal Romance Binge is offering readers free books and a chance at a gift card!

     The NOR Cupcakes & Books Scavenger Hunt has tons of prizes! This is always a great hunt because it introduces you to SO many great authors and their books.

Romance Books 4 Us has a Falling Leaves September Contest.

Marie Lavender is celebrating her 400th Anniversary Post and Early Autumn with a Mega Book Giveaway (which, btw, includes my wonderful author JJ Montgomery's fantastic story, Gun for Hire!)

There are plenty of other contests, feel free to share those you have found!

And, come join us at the meetings on Fridays at 6 pm (west coast US). There are often prizes but best of all, you can chat about books with authors and other avid readers!

 Starting 9/18/17:

Chloe Neil is releasing The Hunt, the third book in her Devil's Isle series, and there's a fantastic blog tour and a major giveaway at this link.

Bella and the Beast by Izzy Szyn (spotlight, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) ADULT title

Scandalous Fairy Tales, Book 2
ADULT title

By Izzy Szyn
You only thought you knew the story of Beauty and the Beast.

When Bella's father runs into the woman known as the Beast, she agrees to take his place as a prisoner for the next six months. Plenty of time to get out of her pending marriage to the son of the village's wealthiest family.

When Bella is sent a list of demands and rules, one rule stood out: DON'T FALL IN LOVE.

That seemed simple enough, for who could fall in love with a Beast?


Ms. Anna turned her face up and started to kiss her, her knees holding Bella’s arms in place. “No touching unless I say,” Ms. Anna told her, kissing Bella once more, grinding harder against her. 

Bella started to feel something trickle down her lower lips, unsure whether it was from Ms. Anna or herself. Ms. Anna kept kissing her, her tongue pushing down Bella’s throat. Her body rubbing against Bella’s, the scars on Ms. Anna’s inner thighs strangely erotic. Bella started to sink into the mattress , letting Ms. Anna take what she wanted. Kissing Ms . Anna in return, gliding her tongue across Ms. Anna’s. Was her tongue getting longer? Holy hell, Bella whimpered as the tongue slid down her throat. Bella struggled against the unfamiliar sensation. “You agreed to let me do what I wanted,” Ms. Anna reminded her. “This is going to be your life from now until I release you. If I ever do.” Ms. Anna once more kissing Bella , sliding her tongue inside Bella’s throat once more.


 About the Author: New York Times Bestselling Author Izzy Szyn was born in May of 2014 when a friend dared her to write. Born and raised in Detroit, Mi. Izzy now lives in Oklahoma City with her furchild Misty, the friendliest Chihuahua/Terrier you will ever meet. Currently works in a call center, where she writes in between phone calls. Izzy loves to keep in touch with her readers.  

Email her.
Find her on Facebook :)
Google Plus link



Izzy will be giving away an ebook of Wendi and Tink, the first book in the Scandalous Fairy Tales series, to one lucky person on each stop during the tour. 

All you have to do for your chance to win is leave a comment for Izzy to let her know what Fairy Tale you would like to see re-told Izzy Szyn Style. To increase your chances of winning be sure to visit the other tour stops. You may find those locations here

Friday, September 15, 2017

Exposure by Aly Hayen (Spotlight, excerpt, review, an GIVEAWAY) GBP


I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with author Aly Hayden, who was gracious enough to answer a few questions...


Tell us about yourself and your writing?

Aly Hayden has loved writing ever since she learned to pick up a pencil. As a child, she used to write short stories, then progressed to novels of various genres, none of which were ever published – for good reason. She started writing fanfiction in 2011, publishing on Archive of Our Own. After finding M/M romance in 2012, she fell in love and made it her mission to write one of her own one day. When Aly isn’t writing, she can be found playing with her lovable Yorkie and watching old reruns of House Hunters.
Tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?

~ The book is called Exposure, and it’s a romance between the manager of a coffee and tea shop and a photographer. The manager, Sam, has been lying to his parents and telling them he has a boyfriend. When his parents demand he bring the boyfriend to the upcoming family reunion, his friends step in and convince Ben, a photographer and regular at the cafe, to pose as his boyfriend. Of course, what they don’t realize is that their feelings for each other aren’t as unrequited as they think.

I’ve always loved the fake boyfriend trope and wanted to give it a shot. I’d also just finished binge watching Gilmore Girls, so I was in the mindset of a small town in Connecticut and I just kind of ran with it.

How did you come up with the title?

~Since Ben is a photographer, and the series is based around art, I the title to have something to do with photography. And since there’s a huge risk that Ben and Sam’s fake relationship is going to be exposed, I thought Exposure was a pretty appropriate title. Plus it’s short, snappy, and to the point.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

~Writing the last third. Around that time, I start worrying that everything I’ve written so far is crap and no one’s going to enjoy it and why am I even writing in the first place? I have to take a step back, turn to the people who know me best, and have them talk some sense into me.

Are there any characters that you write, that are based on you, or people you know?

~In some ways, all of my characters have bits of me, but Ben and Sam are definitely, 100% based on people I know in real life. Loosely, for sure. The real-life Sam doesn’t have a rich family or a vacation home in the Hamptons, but I had someone in mind while I was writing him.

Do characters and stories just pop into your head, or do you take your time thinking about them?

~It depends on the story. The characters for Exposure just came to me, and the plot followed soon after. The sequel I’m finding a bit more difficult to tackle.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

~Definitely a plotter. I do chapter outlines of each book, and then I have story ideas in their own separate notebook. I would be lost without them.

Do you write often? Is it on a schedule, or whenever you feel like it?
~I do my best to write every single day, at least a couple of thousand words. Any less than that and I feel like I’m slacking. I have an everyday job that eats into my writing time, but for the most part, I’m able to write or plot every single day.
When is your next book coming out, and what’s it about?

~Right now I’m working on the second book in the series. It follows a reclusive artist who’s mentioned in Exposure and a down on his luck journalist who moves back to town. I’m hoping to have it out sometime next month!

If you could go anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go, who would you take with you, if anyone, and why?

~I would go to a little rowhouse in Surbiton, England with my friend and former housemate. I lived there for two years, and it was the best two years of my life. I miss the people like crazy, and would do just about anything to go back.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?  Can you tell us about your pets?

~ Both. I adore cats and dogs. Growing up, I couldn’t have cats, because my mom was allergic and our outside cats would disappear (we blame the coyotes) so I had dogs all growing up, and I still have one now - a Yorkie named Kendall. If I had to pick, I would say dogs, but I really do love both.


Aly Hayden

Publisher: Self-published
Cover Artist: Aria from Resplendent Media
Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: 61,000 words/150 pages approx.

The first book in the Drawn Together series.

Each book follows a different couple, so there's a HEA and no cliffhanger.



Sam Hayward's parents think he has a boyfriend. And he does... in his dreams. But when they insist Sam bring his partner to the annual Labor Day family reunion, his options are to either admit it was all a lie or find a stand-in in a hurry. The trouble is that his lies have all been based on one very real man. Ben Matheny has been hurt before. When he's bribed into playing a part by his friends, he fleshes out Sam's dreams, but it's like flying too close to the sun. He's always had a crush on Sam, and now they're going to the Hamptons to spend a week pretending they're lovers, everything is getting harder. When Ben uncovers another lie Sam has told - that Ben is every bit as rich as Sam is - things begin to unravel. If Sam isn't happy with who Ben is, Ben can't stick around to get burned again. With their hearts on the line, the two must fight for their dreams as the pressure mounts. It would be so easy to admit that it was all a sham, but some dreams are worth the risk.


Exclusive Excerpt

The whole situation was a bit surreal to Sam. He couldn’t quite believe that Ben was sitting on the love seat beside him playing Read My Lips with the family. When he was younger, it had been one of his favorite games to play. He had never imagined playing it with a boyfriend, though, and he had certainly never imagined playing it with Ben.

It was amazing just how well Ben fit in with his family. He knew how to handle Aunt Harper’s strange, drunken interactions, he got along well with the cousins, he knew when to brush off his parents’ remarks about their ‘little life’ in Wilmingson, and he had even gotten friendly with Matías. The reunion was going better than he had planned, and they still had another day and a half left.
They only had another day and a half left. Then it would be back to life as always. Ben would go back to his job at the Wechsler, he would go back to his job at the Press Room, and whatever had happened between them during the reunion would be gone.

Maybe not everything. After all, Ben had said they were friends. When this was all over, maybe he would head to the gallery and see some of Ben’s stuff. Now that he had established what their relationship was, Ben wouldn’t see it as crossing a line if he went to an opening reception or something. Sam knew he was good. Ben brought in some of his photographs every now and again.

“Hey.” Sam jumped as Ben nudged his shoulder. “You’re up.”

Right. The game.

He grabbed a card and looked over the phrases. Easy. Easy. Not too hard. Could be tricky. Easy. And then there was the last one. He couldn’t look away. That could not be the phrase Ben was going to have to guess. Ben talked about the universe and signs and stuff, well the universe was a piece of shit for handing this to him.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe he would land on Loose Lips, and everyone would get a chance to guess what he was trying to say. Or maybe he wouldn’t land on orange at all. Then he wouldn’t have to mouth the phrase and make Ben say it. He took a deep breath and spun.

My Team, My Lips. Three spaces. Right onto the orange lips. Fuck. There was nothing for it. Sam looked up at Ben, wet his lips with his tongue, and mouthed I love you.

He knew immediately that Ben knew what he had said. Ben’s eyes grew wide, and he shook his head almost imperceptibly. Sam’s heart sank. He knew that it wasn’t very likely that Ben felt that way, not that Sam was sure he loved Ben. But he had been forced to think about it more and more the past few days and he knew that, given the chance, he would absolutely fall in love with Ben. It would be as easy as breathing. As easy as making him his daily matcha ginger root beer.

It didn’t matter how easy falling in love with Ben would be, though, because Ben didn’t love him back; wouldn’t love him back. Sam wasn’t angry. That was just the reality of the situation. He couldn’t change the way Ben felt.

“Are you going to guess, Ben?” Ambra asked impatiently.

“Yeah. Um…” Ben squared his shoulders. “I love you.”

 Buy Links Amazon US Amazon UK

Goodreads Link  

Meet the Author Aly Hayden has loved writing ever since she learned to pick up a pencil. As a child, she used to write short stories, then progressed to novels of various genres, none of which were ever published – for good reason. She started writing fanfiction in 2011, publishing on Archive of Our Own. After finding M/M romance in 2012, she fell in love and made it her mission to write one of her own one day. When Aly isn’t writing, she can be found playing with her lovable Yorkie and watching old reruns of House Hunters.  

Social Media Links

Facebook Author Page



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 Release Blitz Schedule

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Books Laid Bare Boys
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Diverse Reader  
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Top 2 Bottom Reviews and More 
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Making it Happen  
My Fiction Nook  
Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author  
Megan's Media Melange 
  A Book Lover's Dream Book Blog 

 Drops of Ink



My review:

4 out of 5 stars

Exposure by Aly Hayden is a m/m contemporary romance featuring photographer Ben Metheny and coffee café manager Sam Hayward. The two men have been dancing around their mutual attraction for months, but the unlikely arrangement that catalyzes the start of a romantic relationship is based on a lie…and Ben hates lies after his experience with his ex. Sam strives to find a way to restore Ben’s faith, but some things may be impossible to forgive.

I enjoyed the slow burn between these two shy guys who have struggled to be accepted for who they are. Despite coming from very different backgrounds, they search for middle ground while trying to overcome the scars inflicted by those they had trusted. The author did a great job of creating personable characters and a believable conflict, and although there was a sense of the inevitable crash and burn looming, I still was invested in the story. I wasn’t quite sure I saw all of the issues with Sam’s parents and I would have liked to see Ben’s family, but I was happy to have read this story and would definitely look for other works by this author.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Promise of Hope Shelter by Sarah Hadley Brook (VBB, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Sarah Hadley Brook


GENRE: M/M Romance



Jacob Baumgardner is struggling to get his nonprofit shelter for gay teens up and running. The old building needs a lot of help in order for it to pass inspection. Raised by his grandparents for part of his life, the shelter is his chance to honor them. Unfortunately, someone is making his dream difficult. An anonymous extortionist is determined to ruin his late grandfather’s good name which could mean the end of the shelter.

Luka Smith is fairly new in town and willing to work hard at any job available. He is struggling to find his place in the world after a traumatic event in his teen years pushed him to run. When Jacob hires him to help with repairs at the shelter, Luka falls hard and fast. He wants nothing more than to be part of his world and help him with his dream, if Jacob will let him.

As they work together to ensure The Promise of Hope Shelter gets off the ground, their feelings only grow. But will a calculating blackmailer close the shelter before they even have a chance?



“Look at me, Jacob,” Luka whispered, his hand tilting up Jacob’s chin. When they stared into each other’s eyes, Jacob smoothed some flyaway hairs from Luka’s forehead. “I’ve tried to keep my distance from you, but I can’t anymore.”

Jacob’s eyes widened. “Really? I thought you didn’t want to talk to me.”

“Let me take you out,” Luka murmured, nuzzling Jacob’s hair. It was more of a statement than a question, really.

Jacob wasn’t sure if he should say “yes,” but the pull toward Luka was too intense. He knew almost nothing about the man, yet he wanted to know everything. “Yes.”


Jacob thought about it. Garrett’s shift was tomorrow evening and he would be staying until morning, so Jacob could definitely go out. Not that he needed all night. “That works. I’ll need to stay until Garrett Martinson arrives for his shift around seven.”

“Perfect. I’ll pick you up at seven-fifteen. Does that work?”

Jacob nodded, suddenly feeling shy.

Book Buy Link: 


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the non-profit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have co-starred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity to live. She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.

Author of:

Coming Soon:

Eggplant Highlights and Mustard Yellow Jeans

Author's links:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here