Monday, 13 February 2017

Love Unlocked Book Birthday!

Our LGBTQIA anthology, Love Unlocked, is one year old today!

To celebrate, we've got a few giveaways for you, which you can find on these authors' blogs:

* * *

Love Unlocked is a collection of seven short stories and novellas - unique LGBTQ romances inspired by the Love Lock Bridge.

THE STORIES:
The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Writer's Lock by Victoria Milne
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister
The Weekend by J P Walker
The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter
He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd
Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan


Available as a paperback and ebook. Stories can also be purchased individually.

* * *

THE TRAP by CLAIRE DAVIS AND AL STEWART

New job - sexy boss - fate - Art...

When Sal attends an open exam for an apprentice artist to work alongside the infamous Matthew Picard, the last thing he expects is to be the winner. But then his role is revealed and nothing is ever the same again. As he toils day and night on the unique sculpture, strange sensations begin to affect both him and the watching master artist.

Matthew Picard thought he was through with men and love. What he wanted was for Sal to help him create one final monstrous masterpiece - The Trap.

But as he observes his young apprentice, his focus shifts, and so do the very walls of the gallery.

Is it the beauty of art, or something more magical at work?

As the sculpture is created, a power is unlocked.

Can love save them, or will they be trapped forever?

* * *

WRITER'S LOCK by VICTORIA MILNE

Spending a month in Paris to write his romance novel had seemed like the perfect plan, but one week in, Phil Pearson is suffering from a severe case of writer's block. With barely a word written, he's fed up and ready to cut his trip short.

When Laurent Marceau sees Phil in his café, it sends him hurtling into the past, opening old wounds and reminding him of the love he lost. But, after watching the aspiring writer struggle for inspiration, he surprises himself by offering to show him Paris through the eyes of a true Parisian.

Finally bursting with ideas, Phil is delighted to put pen to paper, albeit badly at first. As the writer finds himself falling in love for the first time, Laurent knows he needs to decide quickly if he's strong enough to return his affections, or whether it would be better for them both if he walked away. He knows he may not have a choice, once Phil finds out the truth.


* * *

LOCKED IN THE MOMENT by DAWN SISTER

Due to a misunderstanding, the troll that lives underneath one of the most romantic bridges in Paris inadvertently unlocks every single padlock lovers have left there over the years. L'Authoritié de Fée Folklorique are up in arms. He has no idea what all the fuss is about. The noise was driving him mad. He just wanted a bit of peace and quiet.

A spell is cast, leaving the troll in a bit of a predicament. He is charged with the seemingly impossible task of fixing the locks before the spell can be reversed and he is allowed to return to his home. There are other complications, the least of which is the insistence and persistence of a fairy who is determined to help him against the wishes of his own people.

Now the troll has a dilemma. What is more important to him? The only home he has known for two thousand years, or a fairy he has just met?


* * *

THE WEEKEND by J P WALKER

Nat's been through a rough breakup and trust does not come easily. When she accompanies a group of friends to Paris for a hen weekend, she finds a connection she wasn't looking for, in the form of beautiful, passionate Morgan. They quickly fall into a wonderful weekend fling and even engrave their initials into a lock and attach it to the most romantic bridge in the world, Love Lock Bridge.

But was that weekend fling all there was, or will news of the bridge being taken down lead to something more?

* * *

THE SCARLET LOCK by CARAWAY CARTER

Brandon Marshall, in Paris for his twin sister's wedding, has a fling before the big day. At the end of a whirlwind week of discovering each other, Brandon and his lover place a scarlet lock on the Love Lock Bridge.

Follow Brandon through six years of letters - to the citizens of Paris, on everything from how to make love, to eating passionate fruit - and to the lover, who is now his brother-in-law.

The locks are being removed, the bridge refitted... What will be the fate of The Scarlet Lock?

* * *

HE MELTED US by OFELIA GRÄND

All Delron wants is to live his life with Phillipe, but when their love lock is stolen from Pont des Art, their relationship is in jeopardy. Without the lock holding them together, Delron is convinced they'll crash and burn. The only way he can save their relationship is to find the stolen lock, and that is just what he plans to do, no matter what.

Phillipe loves Delron, he really does, but it's driving him insane that Delron can't see that a padlock is simply a piece of metal. The lock has nothing to do with them, not really. Up until the night the lock was stolen, their life was great, but Del's crazy behaviour has Phillipe wondering if he has ever really known his boyfriend.

Delron's search leads him through art-filled Paris, but will a symbol of love ever be enough to soothe the mistrust his quest has planted in Phillipe? Phillipe always thought he'd spend the rest of his life with Del, but who can live with anyone willing to break the law just to find a padlock when they can buy a new one in just about any shop?


* * *

CHAIN OF SECRETS by DEBBIE MCGOWAN

Josh and George have always shared the special bond of friendship. From days in primary school, to holidays spent riding their bikes along the canal, theirs is a promise to remain best friends forever.

But can that promise withstand the trials of adolescence, and the changes in their feelings towards each other?

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Release: Glitter Gabe by Alex C. Clarke

Title: Glitter Gabe (English Edition) (Glitter Series Book One)
Author: Alex C. Clarke
Language: English
Published: 19th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 9781786450869
eBook ISBN: 9781786450876
ASIN: B01MU1JRG6
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Adult

BLURB:
Two lonely souls who grew apart are trying to make their lost love shine again.

Gabriel and Xabi first met when they were teenagers. Gabe was already openly gay whereas Xabi doubted he'd ever come out. Life isn't always simple at such a troubled age, especially when you have a strong personality.

Ten years after their first encounter, life offers them a second chance. Will Xabi manage to make his Glitter Gabe shine again? Will Gabriel give Xabi the opportunity to prove he's changed?

Discover their love story through the landscapes of the Basque countryside and Paris.

REVIEW:
Alex C. Clarke is an incredibly talented author. Not only did she write this book in its original French (her native language), but she also wrote the translation, and her English is excellent. It has a distinct French accent and not because of the characters and settings. There are descriptions and phrases that, when translated into English, create a wholly different feeling to the same words in the order native English speakers expect.

As editor, I endeavoured to keep those linguistic nuances. Well, if I'm honest, Gabriel gave me no choice. He's a strong character and his voice is distinct. I also enjoyed learning a little about Basque culture, of which I knew nothing at all.

It's difficult to say much more without spoiling the story (I try not to go beyond what the author offers in their blurb), but what I can say is Gabriel and Xabi won me over, even if, at times, I wanted to shake some sense into them both. That kind of characterisation, where I feel real emotions (even the negative ones), is for me the mark of an excellent story. Better still, there is a translation of book two, Fabulous Fabiola, already in progress.

Buy 'Glitter Gabe (English Edition) (Glitter Series Book One)': 

2016 Release: Take A Chance Anthology

Title: Take A Chance Anthology: A Collection of Gay Romance for New Adults
Author: Chase Potter, J.A. Rock, Jamie Deacon, Kelley York, Dee Aditya, Lynn Michaels, Eric Gober, Elinor Gray, Debbie McGowan, Kari Jo Spear, Melissa E Costa, Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78645-111-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78645-112-5
ASIN: B01MRT5FHZ
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction, New Adult

BLURB:
A single moment can change everything.

A university student preparing to confront the adolescent crush who betrayed him. A demon embroiled in a battle against his very nature. A soldier, mentally scarred after fighting in The Great War, torn between propriety and his heart. Though separated by time and distance, culture and reality, these young men all have one thing in common: they each stand at a crossroads in their life and face a choice that will alter the course of their future.

The twelve tales in this collection of gay romantic fiction range from sweet to erotic, contemporary to historical, paranormal to grittily realistic. Whether centred around the fear associated with coming out, the thorny issue of trust, or the struggle for survival, each story explores in its own way the courage needed to overcome personal obstacles and take a chance on love.

STORIES:
Reflections by Chase Potter
Stranger Than Stars by J.A. Rock
Another Story by Jamie Deacon
Howl by Kelley York
A Boy Named Khwahish by Dee Aditya
Want you Bad by Lynn Michaels
Far From Texas by Eric Gober
The Right Words by Elinor Gray
Class-A by Debbie McGowan
Lockdown by Kari Jo Spear
Dream Infected by Melissa E Costa
Cheese and Pickle by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

REVIEW:
The best thing about working on Take A Chance was that I didn't edit it! Hurrah! Don't misunderstand; I love my work, but the reason I'm a publisher is my love of books and reading. By the time I got to these stories, they were already well-polished, making for an experience akin to reading for pleasure.

Thus, I must congratulate Jamie Deacon, Sherri Jordan Asble and all of the authors for the excellent work they put in to writing and editing these stories. The result is twelve short reads that - whilst themed around 'taking a chance' - are all very different from one another. They are all wonderful!

Buy 'Take A Chance Anthology: A Collection of Gay Romance for New Adults': 

2016 Release: Common Sense by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Common Sense - In Business & Life
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-061-6
eBook: 978-1-78645-062-3
Category: Non-Fiction
Genre: Business

BLURB:
Common sense is like great music, mesmerizing art or funny jokes: difficult to pinpoint but we all recognize it when we see it. In this book, Hans M Hirschi explores the concept of common sense, through philosophy, reflection, and practice.

Using his thorough experience from business and management from all corners of the world, Hans demonstrates that 'common sense' is not as common as you might think. What is regarded as common sense in Sweden isn't necessarily true in China, Tunisia or Brazil. He uses clear examples to provide insight into cultural differences that affect the world of business as well as everyday life.

This second edition, completely re-edited and with a new chapter on Talent Management, will help you use your common sense all over the world - in business and in life.

REVIEW:
I can't really add to what it says in the blurb, because this book does exactly as it says. I enjoyed it more than I expected (I read fiction for fun, non-fiction for academic work), particularly as the few business books I've glanced over in the past have been full of buzz-BS about blue skies and flag poles and forward planning and so on, ad nauseam.

Common Sense - In Business & Life is nothing like that, with its relatively informal style, down-to-earth examples and research-based analysis. The academic part of me twitched a little at the author's decision to not include reference to his sources, but he does extend an open invitation to readers to engage him in discussion.

All in all, whilst this is not a book I would choose to read, I'm pleased I had the opportunity to do so and imagine middle managers in particular will find familiar scenarios and positive ideas for their own work situation.

Buy 'Common Sense - In Business & Life': 

2016 Release: Of The Bauble by Debbie McGowan

Title: Of The Bauble
Author: Debbie McGowan
Language: English
Published: 15th December, 2016
ISBN: eBook: 978 1 78645 106 4
Paperback: 978 1 78645 110 1
ASIN: B01N3KJIVH
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Holidays and Celebrations

BLURB:
When nineteen-year-old Kieran O'Sullivan takes a trip to the attic for the Christmas decorations, it proves to be an illuminating experience.

Box includes:
- a hapless but not altogether helpless student
- a pedantic supernatural being (or two, or...well, quite a few)
- a funky older sister
- the coolest mum in the world
- a naughty rescue bunny and her easily led feline sidekick
- an insightful ex-girlfriend
- twinkle lights
- tinsel
- baubles

* Warning - may contain traces of magic and a smidgeon of social commentary (hey, it's a book by Debbie McGowan - did you expect anything else?) *

Of the Bauble is a young adult, biromantic/non-binary fantasy romance.

REVIEW:
(proofreader's review)
So I've just finished reading the book for the second time (one of the perks of being a proofreader), yet I'm still wishing there was more, because it's that good!
If nothing else is going to need my immediate intention, I'll happily read it a third time...

Yes, there's magic, and romance, and Christmassy things, yet there's so much more as well!
It's very clever for a start; I kept thinking 'how is Deb going to pull this one off?', knowing that she would do it brilliantly, but not quite seeing how she could.
It's that suspense that's one of the things that make the story stand out from the usual Christmas fare. Another aspect is the loveable and very real characters, including some non-human ones. It may also have made me shed a few tears along the way, but I'm not admitting that publicly...

And about the non-binary aspect: much as I love Alpha male/Alpha male stories, in this case having a GQ character only adds to the mystery aspect of the story.

So what else can I say? It's really hard to do the story justice without spoilers; words are poor... ;-)

Buy 'Of The Bauble': 

2016 Release: Hammer's Thief by Alexis Woods

Title: Hammer's Thief
Author: Alexis Woods
Language: English
Published: 1st December, 2016
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-100-2
eBook: 978-1-78645-101-9
ASIN: B01MPZYC2E
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Fantasy, Holidays and Celebrations

BLURB:
Eight nights to fall in love.

Running away from his foster home at eighteen, Locke struggles to survive the brutal winter streets in Atlantic City. Trust is a fickle thing, and Locke hasn't had much of it. He's worked hard for everything he has. When a helpful security guard takes him in during a Code Blue, Locke discovers that some things are more than they seem. His fantasy becomes reality, but sometimes reality is too good to be true.

Graced by God, Judah Maccabee has dwelt in Yahweh's kingdom for nigh on two thousand years, rising through His ranks to become a leader among the warrior angels. A blessing bestowed, Yahweh has found the one for him. Now Judah has only the eight nights of Chanukah to fall in love with the one who will complete him. The only catch - his other half must love him in return if he is to stay earthbound. But expecting Locke to fall just as hard and fast as he does rebounds in a devastating way.

When egos rule and demons lurk, can these two men pull together, trust in family and faith, and earn love? And can they do it in a single week?

REVIEW:
This is the second story that is part of Chosen Angels, the first being Lion's Hero, which is part of Boughs of Evergreen anthology. The stories are fully stand-alone, but of the same canon, and the characters from Lion's Hero appear in Hammer's Thief, so it would be worth reading Lion's Hero as well (and possibly before Hammer's Thief).

This is perhaps a little more 'typical MM romance' than I would normally read, but it is beautifully written, and the fantasy adventure than runs alongside the romance is great. I really liked Locke, and Judah to a lesser extent, but my favourite 'character' is Yahweh - portrayed as a truly loving father with a sense of humour.

Alexis Woods has a very smooth writing style and a great way with words, and having read pretty much every story she's written, to my mind, she excels at fantasy/romance.

Buy 'Hammer's Thief': 

2016 Release: Albion Calling by Stuart Ayris

Title: Albion Calling
Author: Stuart Ayris
Language: English
Published: 5th December, 2016
Publisher: Beaten Track/Stuart Ayris
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-102-6
Category: Fiction
Genre: Experimental / Surreal, Literary, Humour

BLURB:
Henry John Bateman is a hospital porter. He drinks too much alcohol, does too much cocaine and has been married too many times.

Yet somehow, he discovers, beneath the staples of an old map, a small piece of land owned by no man, no lord, no council and no government, and he sets out for that land so that he may rest his weary head.

But it was never going to be that easy. Not for Henry John Bateman. Not once he meets Oh Emmylou. Not with that bakery girl he's left behind who might be alive or she might be dead. And certainly not when Albion comes calling...

REVIEW:
Stu Ayris is a truly unique author. I know of absolutely no other author who writes the way he does. His novels live on the genius/lunatic line, and at first glance, Albion Calling appears to have taken up camp in the land of lunacy.

But actually, the clue that this isn't all some mad rambling nonsense is in the chapter titles. You may well recognise what they are, because they all take this form: I I I I IV IV I I V IV I I. If you don't, no problem. It's explained in the book...eventually. ;)

The other point I would make here is that to get the best out of any Stuart Ayris story - and particularly this one - you should read them aloud. The language is lyrical and rhythmic - I dare say hypnotic - and the story follows stream of thought (Henry John Bateman's), not necessarily chronologically.

A bottle of wine might be an idea, too.

Buy 'Albion Calling':