Review: Touch Up by J.A. Rock and Katey Hawthorne

 

Touch Up

 

Last year, twenty-three-year-old actress Dina Gilbert snagged the lead in the summer’s biggest blockbuster. It wasn’t easy: she’s black, openly queer, and has actual curves she refuses to let people Photoshop. Now, overwhelmed by sudden fame and homesick for Georgia, she’s becoming someone she doesn’t recognize. Maybe that’s why she’s out partying her face off most nights.

Enter Colleen Thomas, an ex-model turned photo editor whose issues with her own body are only surpassed by her issues with other peoples’. Colleen knows the rules but Photoshops Dina’s magazine cover anyway, incurring the wrath of Dina and her fans. And, okay, maybe that cover image was unbelievably sexy even before Colleen’s alterations. So what? Dina’s not fooling anyone with that girl-next-door, I-eat-Snickers-in-my-Golden-Globes-dress BS. Colleen knows a train wreck when she sees one.

Tensions rise even more when Colleen and Dina have to work together at the Rose Social Club’s annual charity gala. When they realize they have something in common, no one is more surprised than they are. The sexual chemistry doesn’t hurt either. Their differences could either be a source of strength—a life raft in the heaving waters of Hollywood—or the makings of a titanic crash.

 

REVIEW

 

Fame isn’t as glamorous as it seems for Dina Gilbert whose difficulty to cope with it brings her to a dangerous path in this charming and captivating romance.

Dina Gilbert is a rising star becoming overwhelmed by the fame that is making her act in a way she doesn’t recognize anymore. Colleen Thomas is a photo editor who had the task to do Dina’s magazine cover, with a well-known rule of not Photoshopping that she decided to ignore. Now she has to face the wrath of the actress, while they are forced to work together at the Rose Social Club’s annual charity gala. But the attraction they feel for each other starts to outweigh the constant disputes they get themselves into.

This was an amazing book. I wasn’t expecting to like it that much, but there was something in the blurb that just got my attention very quickly. The book keeps a nice, steady pace. It is very well written and it’s so enthralling that I just couldn’t put it down. Dina and Colleen are both really charming characters. I loved how much contrast there was between them. Dina so self-assured and trying to be a positive role model to her fans, being a black queer and curvy women and Collen having so much issues with her body that didn’t allow her to accept herself. Both fighting with their own demons in their own way. They make such a lovely couple. I loved the moments they share when they weren’t fighting, it was so fun and sweet that it was easy to care for them as a couple.

Overall, it was a very charming and romantic book. I had a wonderful time reading it. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a lighthearted and fun romance. It is F/F pairing, which is not exactly my favorite, but the book is so well written and so entertaining and the characters so beautifully made, that I simply loved it. It was a fantastic book.

The Romance Review

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Release Blitz and Review: Thrall by Thrall by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish

Thrall by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish

 Publisher: Philtre Press

 Release Date (Print & Ebook): September 27th, 2018

 Subgenre: Mystery

 Order here:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NNhs8v

All other vendors: https://www.books2read.com/u/bazLN6

 

Synopsis:

 

Dating Sucks & Love Bites

Happy couple Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra have begun to garner national attention for their quirky New Orleans true-crime podcast, Shadowcast. When Lucy’s brother Harker disappears while researching the popular new dating app Thrall, they’re thrown into a real-life mystery. Aided by their social media expert, Arthur, and Harker’s professor, Van Helsing, they follow the trail, hoping to find Harker before it’s too late.

When their investigation crosses the path of a possible serial killer, the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur. And as they race against the app’s countdown clock, so does the line between friendship and love. What starts as a flirtatious rivalry between computer-savvy Arthur and techno-averse Van Helsing becomes much more, and Mina and Lucy’s relationship is tested in the fires of social media.

As they get down to the wire, the group discovers that nothing on their screens is as it seems—including their enemy.

A modern retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

 

Excerpt:

 Van Helsing

I…no. You know you’re young enough to be one of my graduate students? Though much better dressed. But if your flirting is sincere, then I welcome it. I can’t deny that I felt something between us this morning.

 

Arthur Quincey

I, uh, definitely felt something

Ugh, sorry, that was a terrible joke—you should be impressed, I never get this nervous. but seriously, so did I. It’s definitely sincere.

 Van Helsing

I am also nervous. I…I suppose I don’t quite know what to say next. I’ve never attempted to flirt on a—what is this, chat?

 

Arthur Quincey

OMG, Gus. (I’m…look, that name reminds me of the musical Cats, which I loathe so can I call you Van?)

It’s kind of hot you just said you were nervous btw (and yeah, it’s chat)

 Van Helsing

I got the feeling you were calling me Professor on purpose, no? Yes, I suppose I can suffer through Van, if you must.

Ah, well, I’m very gratified you think so.

 

Arthur Quincey

Yeah, because I like it. The professor thing is totally a turn-on. And I like the idea of making you like that name, Van. Just because no one else has.

 

 

REVIEW

 

There were a lot of ups and down in this book and I’m still trying to figure out my overall feeling about the book.

 

The things that I liked about it were a lot. First, the retelling of a beloved book. It was an interesting concept and I loved seeing the characters in a total different way than I imagine them. I also liked the flirtatious tone of some of the interactions, it was really sweet. What I liked the most about it was the mystery. The moments when the story center in trying to solve the mystery were the ones that capture my attention the most.

 

The things that I didn’t liked about it were, maybe, as much as the ones that I did liked. I found interesting the way the story was told. It was unusual and I was glad to see the authors giving it a try to something new. Sadly, it didn’t worked that well for me. I found it distracting. I’m not a big fan of social media and I felt a bit lost at times. Another thing that was a bit distracting is that, somehow, I felt fool. I thought this was a F/F romance, and even though there was a F/F established couple, it wasn’t quite what I expect, maybe this one is on me because it’s not that clear in the blurb, and that’s what I interpreted on it. I still was glad to see some M/M romance there but, for a book that features a dating app, I think it wasn’t too romantic.

 

Overall it was ok. I didn’t particularly loved it, but there was a lot of the book that I really enjoyed.

 

 

 

 

About the Authors:

 

Avon Gale

Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon, JRPGs and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

 

Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary Agency.

 

Connect with Avon: Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

 

Roan Parrish

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

 

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

 

Connect with Roan: Parrish or Perish FB Group | Twitter | Instagram | BookBub | Newsletter

 

 

Enter the giveaway: win 1 of 3 e-copies of any back catalog book by Avon Gale or Roan Parrish!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Cover Reveal and Sneak Peek: Thrall by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish @ANovelTakePR

 

 

 

Thrall by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish

 Publisher: Philtre Press

 Release Date (Print & Ebook): September 27th, 2018

 Subgenre: Mystery

 

Order here:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NNhs8v

All other vendors: https://www.books2read.com/u/bazLN6

 

Synopsis:

 

Dating Sucks & Love Bites

Happy couple Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra have begun to garner national attention for their quirky New Orleans true-crime podcast, Shadowcast. When Lucy’s brother Harker disappears while researching the popular new dating app Thrall, they’re thrown into a real-life mystery. Aided by their social media expert, Arthur, and Harker’s professor, Van Helsing, they follow the trail, hoping to find Harker before it’s too late.

When their investigation crosses the path of a possible serial killer, the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur. And as they race against the app’s countdown clock, so does the line between friendship and love. What starts as a flirtatious rivalry between computer-savvy Arthur and techno-averse Van Helsing becomes much more, and Mina and Lucy’s relationship is tested in the fires of social media.

As they get down to the wire, the group discovers that nothing on their screens is as it seems—including their enemy.

A modern retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

 

Sneak Peek of Thrall:

 

  1. Van Helsing

I…no. You know you’re young enough to be one of my graduate students? Though much better dressed. But if your flirting is sincere, then I welcome it. I can’t deny that I felt something between us this morning.

 

Arthur Quincey

I, uh, definitely felt something

Ugh, sorry, that was a terrible joke—you should be impressed, I never get this nervous. but seriously, so did I. It’s definitely sincere.

 

  1. Van Helsing

I am also nervous. I…I suppose I don’t quite know what to say next. I’ve never attempted to flirt on a—what is this, chat?

 

Arthur Quincey

OMG, Gus. (I’m…look, that name reminds me of the musical Cats, which I loathe so can I call you Van?)

It’s kind of hot you just said you were nervous btw (and yeah, it’s chat)

 

  1. Van Helsing

I got the feeling you were calling me Professor on purpose, no? Yes, I suppose I can suffer through Van, if you must.

Ah, well, I’m very gratified you think so.

 

Arthur Quincey

Yeah, because I like it. The professor thing is totally a turn-on. And I like the idea of making you like that name, Van. Just because no one else has.

 

 

About the Authors:

 

Avon Gale

Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon, JRPGs and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

 

Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary Agency.

 

Connect with Avon: Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

 

Roan Parrish

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

 

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

 

Connect with Roan: Parrish or Perish FB Group | Twitter | Instagram | BookBub | Newsletter

Review: Battle Scars by Helen Blacksmith

Battle Scars

 

After Army medic Andrea King loses her girlfriend and son in a car accident she is deployed for a 15 month tour in Afghanistan. Already not in a good frame of mind, she sees things there that will haunt her. When she returns home she becomes both depressed and suicidal as she seeks helps from her local VA. When she is unable to connect with anyone, she begins drinking and engaging in reckless behavior. One night at a bar she meets Michelle Adams, an escort, and decides to accept her offer for 3500 for the night. After spending a passionate but silent night together, Andy makes an appointment for the next week and then the next and the next and soon they are meeting every Wednesday never speaking. But when Michelle witnesses one of Andy’s violent nightmares she realizes the trauma she has endured and how much they really have in common.

 

REVIEW

 

A beautiful and emotional story of love in the middle of chaos.

Army medic Andrea King has lost her family and her desire to live. Struggling with depression and addiction she decides to go to a bar where she meets Michelle, who’s also fighting to keep herself alive in the middle of what her life has become. Their meetings, once a week, are proving to be more powerful than anything they have to face, to conquer the demons each of them are struggling with.

It was a hard story to read. It deals with a lot of pain but there’s also so much hope in the end. It had a steady pace most of the time, but I did feel like the ending was a little rushed. The plot was really good but I would prefer a longer length because I feel like there were scenes that needed more time to get the reader into it. It has romance but it felt like sometimes it took more time describing the physical part instead of the emotional, which I prefer.

Overall, it was really good story. Beautiful message of rising above the adversities presented in life. I would recommend it to any reader who enjoy F/F pairing, especially the ones who enjoy hurt/comfort. Beware of scenes of sexual and physical violence, although none of them are really explicit.

 

The Romance Review

Release Blitz: Ardulum: Third Don by J.S. Fields (Excerpt and Giveaway)

Title:  Ardulum: Third Don

Series: Ardulum, Book Three

Author: J.S. Fields

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 4, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 106100

Genre: Science Fiction, action, aliens, bonded, captivity, coming of age, criminals, futuristic, pilot, religion, science, slow burn, smugglers, space, space opera, spaceships, telekinesis, telepathy

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

The planet wakes.

Atalant is torn between two worlds. In uncharted space, head of a sentient planet, the new eld of Ardulum now leads the religion she once rejected. Emn is by her side but the Mmnnuggl war brewing in the Charted Systems, threatening her homeworld of Neek, cannot be ignored. Atalant must return to the planet that exiled her in order to lead the resistance. She must return home a god, a hypocrite, a liar in gold robes, and decide whether to thrust her unwilling people into the truth of Ardulum, or play the role she has been handed and never see her family, or her world, again.

Excerpt

Ardulum: Third Don
J.S. Fields © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
January 12th, 2061 CE

“I’ve just lost my last engine! We’re making repairs, but if we can’t dodge another hit—” The audio cut off. A small, blue light on Ekimet’s console went dark.

Inside the Neek’s main temple to Ardulum, Ekimet laid zir head in zir hands and, not for the first time, tried to will the light to come back on. It didn’t work. It never worked. All the power of Ardulum, and Ekimet couldn’t save even one Ardulan life.

The andal bench upon which zie sat lacked cushioning, and the wood was warm through Ekimet’s gold robes. Zir tailbone hurt from sitting and waiting—and zir heart hurt from watching and trying to coordinate a battle zie had no skills for. No one in the room did. The Eld had ensured that.

Ekimet brought zir head back up. Next to zir, Miketh tapped on the andal table, a thin sheet of bioplastic just beyond her reach. Her black hair had lost its red highlights. Ekimet hadn’t noticed until now, and zie didn’t have time to consider what it meant aside from neither of them having gone outside in a month.

The High Priest of Neek was on the other side of the wooden table. He was supposed to be helping, inasmuch as he could as a subspecies Neek amongst Ardulans. Right now, however, he sat, eyes unfocused, wringing his robes as he whispered, “Seven. Seven Ardulan cutters and fourteen skiffs lost.”

“Central, copy? Copy, please!” The Neek accent was clear over the transmission and startled Ekimet. It was a settee pilot, one of the Heaven Guard.

“We hear you, guard,” Miketh answered. Her hand shook as she reached for the bioplastic sheet. It was just far enough on the other side of the table that the high priest had to push it towards her. “Report?”

“The Mmnnuggl pods in orbit, both big and small, are now guarded by at least four of the oval ships the Ardulans can’t seem to hit. There are Risalian cutters out here too, and a bunch of ships I don’t recognize. No matter how much interference we run for the Ardulans, it isn’t making any difference. Nothing is making a difference. The Mmnnuggls are picking off the cutters one by one.”

“Is your squadron still intact?” Miketh asked. “No Neek casualties?”

The voice came back confused. “No, no casualties to report on our side. The Mmnnuggls only seem interested in…” On the computer console in front of Ekimet, another pale blue light went dark.

“We lost another skiff,” Ekimet reported in a monotone. “Only four remain, along with two cutters.”

“One cutter,” the guard reported hesitantly. A red light went out on Ekimet’s console. “A group of four pods just disintegrated the largest one.”

Ekimet squeezed zir eyes shut. There were over forty Ardulans on each cutter and two per skiff. It had been less than an hour since the Mmnnuggls had engaged the Ardulan fleet. What was happening? That the Ardulans and Neek would lose had never been in question, but they weren’t meant to lose like this.

Ekimet leaned towards Miketh and the speaker. “Tell the remaining cutter to—”

One of the skiff pilots cut into the feed. “We just lost our last cutter!” The last red light on Ekimet’s dash went out. “Ekimet, we have to land. We haven’t got a chance with the—” The line went dead. The final three blue lights died in quick succession.

There was silence for a long moment, followed by the uncomfortable shuffling of feet. The Ardulans were dead. Every ship the Eld had sent, every Ardulan onboard, was now scattered in fragments across Neek space. Ekimet and Miketh were…they were stranded. Again. They, and the Neek planet, had no protection.

“My lords?” The settee pilot was back. “The Mmnnuggl forces are leaving the engagement zone. Their allies are following. The Heaven Guard are still in orbit. Would you like us to follow instead of simply watching and reporting?”

“No!” Miketh said quickly before Ekimet could answer. “You have no weapons. Don’t make a threat you can’t carry through. Just…just come back.” She looked at Ekimet, moisture beading in her eyes. She hastily wiped at it with the back of her hand. “Just come home, okay?”

Relief flooded the pilot’s voice. “As you say. I’ll tell the rest of the Heaven Guard.”

The transmission ended. Miketh sniffed, and Ekimet did the same, although zie was far too well trained to let tears form.

“Is it over?” The high priest pushed his chair back from the dark andal table, his eyes on Ekimet’s chin, never higher. “Will they leave? What do they want?”

We are about to find out. Miketh pointed at the yellow line streaking across the dash. Call for you, Eki. We both know how this ends.

Indeed. They’d been sent here to die, the same as the fleet. Sent to appease the Mmnnuggls. Sent to keep Ardulum safe. Ekimet slid zir finger across the yellow line, and an audio feed beeped. Zie could have turned on the Neek’s archaic hologram projector, but…zie couldn’t look at a Mmnnuggl. Not right now. Not with so many dead bodies floating above zir.

“You have lost,” a monotone voice said over the comm.

“We understand that. Only two Ardulans remain, and we are prepared to surrender. We…we thank you for not harming the Neek forces.”

A low trill resounded before it changed to words. “Only Ardulans harm unarmed civilians. Only Ardulans would use a seeded planet of primitive sentients as a sacrifice.” The Mmnnuggl screeched. “Do you think we do not see a ruse when we see one? We have no hands and no feet, so therefore we have no minds?”

Ekimet tried to cut in. “We never meant—”

“You are of no concern to us. Two Ardulans mean nothing.” There was a whirring in the background, and then a new voice came on.

It didn’t have the usual clicking undertones of a Mmnnuggl accent. This voice, although deep and throaty, carried Common with ease. “Call your planet,” it said. “Call your planet and tell them to send the Eld of Ardulum and the flare named Emn. You have one week to comply.”

“One week!” Miketh said, her voice unusually high. “The Neek operate on stable wormhole technology. The time frame is unmanageable. Beyond that, if you aren’t bargaining with Neek lives, what is your collateral? The Neek planet is self-sustaining. They don’t care to travel. If you think Ekimet and I will get frustrated enough to call the Eld here so you can slaughter them, you’re as dumb as we thought!”

Laughter, biped laughter, came from the other end. “Underestimating the Nugels is a really, really stupid thing to do. One week, Ardulans. I suggest you start moving the Neek people to the cities. In one week, if we don’t have the Eld and the flare in-system, then we are coming down to the planet. Well, the smaller pods are, anyway. They’ll come down in the middle of the night when all the little Neek children are tucked snugly in bed, and they will set your forests on fire.”

“You will destroy the Systems if you destroy the andal of Neek!” Miketh exclaimed. “Their entire cellulose infrastructure is rooted in this planet. What happened to not harming the defenseless?”

Chittering rose up from the feed before the male voice drowned it out. “The whole of the Charted Systems is behind this decision. They understand the threat Ardulum poses. Physically, the Risalians are here, along with Minorans, the Oori, and more than a dozen other species from the Systems and the Alliance. A week is plenty of time to move the forest-dwelling Neek out of harm’s way. The Nugels are going to have their vengeance, Ardulans, and we will find the altered Ardulan woman. You just have to decide how much of your planet you want burned.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. She enjoys roller derby, woodturning, making chain mail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, but prefers female pronouns. Always up for a Twitter chat.

Website | Twitter

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Review: Dream in Color by Crystal Lacy

 

Dream in Color

 

Undergrad art student Ruth desires Dr. Mie Kamigawa from the moment they meet. But in addition to being a professor, Dr. Kamigawa—the sexy English professor with a beautiful body and silver-streaked hair which she doesn’t bother to dye—is married. Will Ruth be able to hide her attraction to the older woman when she takes her class for a semester?

A steamy 3,700 words long short story.

 

REVIEW

 

It was a lovely story. I liked the characters and the way the story was told but I think it was way too short. I guess it was the length what didn’t allow me to love it that much because it made hard to get in touch with the emotions and to really believe in them as a coupe. It feel a little bit too rushed and it felt more like lust than love at this point. I would love to see them fall in love in slower and sweeter way, both characters were really nice and I also would love to see what the future might bring to them. Overall it was a very enjoyable read. I think the issues I had with it are more related with my expectations on romance and not exactly with the story itself, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a FF story with age gap.
 

BOOK LINKS

Amazon | Goodreads

AUTHOR

Amazon | Website | Goodreads

Review: Moving by J P Walker

 

Moving by [Walker, J P]

 

How would you react if your first great love died? Would you get lost in the past? Or would you embrace your present and future?

When Maggie Fairway finds out Jane—her first great love—has passed away, she quickly becomes caught up in memories of their short yet passionate time together and loses sight of the present—the wonderful life she shares with her wife Jo and their children.

Can Maggie let go of the past before it irrevocably damages their relationship?

(Part of Never Too Late – a collection of nine stories featuring LGBTQIA characters over the age of fifty)

 

 

REVIEW

 

This was a new to me author. I really enjoy the story a lot. It is a little short, but it was meant to be that way because, even though I read it alone, is part of the Never Too Late anthology that features characters of 50 years old or older. I loved the concept and it has given me the opportunity of getting to know new authors like I did on this story.

 

I loved the way the story was told, alternating the past and the present. I liked the struggles Maggie had about her feeling and how much love, regret and doubt there was in her. Even though I liked her and I liked Jane too, I found them so frustrating at times, considering the love it was obvious was there and how little would it take to make things work, both of them were willing to sacrifice so little to make things better. I was mad at them for that.

 

Jo was a nice character, but I guess she was too nice, too perfect, everything I dislike. I guess she was good and I don’t doubt everyone will love her, but I just prefer more imperfect characters, maybe a little more like Maggie, even with the moments she made me angry. Overall it was a bittersweet and beautiful story.

 

BOOK LINKS

Amazon | Never Too Late | Goodreads

AUTHOR

Amazon | Goodreads