Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Duende by E.E. Ottoman

Title: Duende
Author: E.E. Ottoman
Purchase at Less Than Three Press
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Aisha Akeju
Genre: fantasy
Length: 15k words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf

Famed opera singer Aim矇 has a lot in common with Badri, the Royal Ballet Company's most popular male lead. They have both dedicated their entire lives to their art, and struggle to be taken seriously among the Empire's elite. And both harbor a secret admiration and desire for the other.

This year for his birthday Aim矇 treats himself to a night at the ballet seeing Badri perform, and after the show decides to meet Badri and confess his admiration for Badri's skill. But when that first awkward meeting turns to more, they are left wondering if there is room in their lives for both career and romance...


Remember three-act structure? You won’t find it here. Here’s a beginning, which has some interesting elements. And an end. Foomp. No middle.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Coming this week

It has been a problematic week here at the Bookshelf. My tech consultant has dissolved in tears after attempting to redirect the site to a custom domain, and the picture above is an amazingly accurate rendering of the reinforcements she called in. (Sorry, Andy. We owe you many, many gallons of good beer.)  Steve Wozniak advised us to never trust a computer we couldn't throw out a window, and the domain registrar should be very very glad their servers are far from my windows.

So,many things did not happen, although we did have a surprise scene from EM Lynley's Spaghetti Western, which is now at the top of my TBR list in a font size I can read. PDFs don't play nice on Kindle. That's coming up for the next week, along with a post and excerpt from Eden Winters' rock star/opera singer book, A Matter of When. Great read, 5 marbles! 

The review I expected to post on Keira Andrew's A Forbidden Rumspringa will be up next week, because I promised Marlene at Reading Reality the chance to post it first.

We'll also see Duende from E.E. Ottoman, and as ever, hot guys doing something that needs explaining. P.D. Singer has a ficlet about an earlier picture, so stick with us!

Keep reading.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A picture is worth...

Hey cowboy, how hot is that branding iron? If anyone has a suggestion about what this handsome fella's doing, or who he's looking at, tell us. 100-1000 words, hmm?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Picnic: an exclusive scene and a giveaway from Spaghetti Western, from EM Lynley

EM Lynley's come by with some goodies from her new book, Spaghetti Western. Something mouthwatering to read, and a giveaway at the end, like a bit of chocolate for a dessert. Mmm, take it away, EM!


Sometimes there just isn’t a way to include all the scenes I have in my head when I’m writing. The idea for this sexy picnic was on my list, but the timing of it didn’t work very well to include it. So I’m sharing it now as a special treat for Cryselle’s readers and I hope you enjoy it. If you haven’t read the book, there aren’t any spoilers, but it will give you some idea how much fun Colby and Riley are together.



Riley had his back to the door when Colby entered the kitchen.

Katrina, Chuck and Willa were nowhere to be seen. It was awfully quiet in the kitchen, even for the lull between breakfast and lunch.

“Did your elves run away or something?” Colby asked.

Riley’s shoulders rose and he swung around. “Hey, I didn’t hear you come in.”

“At least I’ve got your all to myself for a few minutes.” Colby covered the ten feet between them in a second and had Riley wrapped in his arms. Riley relaxed into the embrace and let Colby back him against the counter and kiss him until Colby either had to get their clothes off or back away.

He reluctantly chose the latter. He smoothed the bulge in his jeans and thought how unfair it was Riley wore an apron that hid his arousal.

“I’ve got a surprise for you, Colby.” Riley hopped up onto the counter and hooked a finger in Colby’s shirt collar to pull him back in, then trapped him by wrapping his legs around Colby’s waist.

“I like how it starts.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Policy change

Because the publishing landscape has changed, my reviewing policies have also changed. I’m getting more requests from all quarters, and my available time is shrinking. I still want to be very supportive of authors, but that support may not come in the form of a review. All authors are welcome to play Thousand Word Thursday. We've had readers so inspired by a pic they've become writers. I post those too.

Before, if an author asked for a review and I couldn’t in good conscience give it a three or better, I’d consult before posting, unless it’s a self-pubbed author who’s acting as publisher, because the rules for publisher-requested reviews were different. There are more and more self-pubbed authors, with different degrees of professionalism, and there aren’t any more hours in my day, there’s less. Who publishes is not now and has never been a criterion for what I read, only for choices on posting.

That’s too complicated. Time for new, simpler rules.

Triage on low reviews is mine.

Every novel I read and review is 5 or so hours, sometimes more. Those hours can’t be replaced. A review is actually a pretty big commitment. If I spend the time to read to the end and write down my opinions, that’s a piece of my life.

So I may DNF. If a book quietly disappears from the coming soon carousel, that’s why. If it’s something I’m truly not interested in, it won’t make it to the carousel. I’m not good at DNFing, if I start, I usually finish, it bothers me to leave something in the middle. I may or may not write a DNF review, that depends on the specific book. If I write down a review, I’ll post it. You’ll get feedback and exposure, but no puff. If I love it, you’ll know why, and if I don’t, you’ll also know why.

The occasional blog tour comes through here, in which case a low review, should it happen, will be delayed as a courtesy. Blog tour book reviews still need 5 hours.

Here’s the part that hasn’t changed—

A story that pleases me will have a couple of well developed characters, a relationship, and something plotwise outside the relationship. I like plot, that's the point of a book. I like sex, too, but sex has to drive the plot. The daily drivel of the characters' lives in between sex scenes is not plot -- plot has conflict and resolution, and it needs to make sense. Logic fail will get noticed out loud and if I can't find the plot beyond "hawt guys fuck" you can call me Cryssy Crankypants.

Things that stop me in my tracks:
• Rape, unless it's a past trauma and offstage. Especially no "rape him til he likes it."
• Incest, especially twincest. A survivor is fine, but current relationship -- NO
• Non-con -- don't kid yourself, the right name is rape.
• All the squicky stuff that epublishers put in their 'don't submit to us' list
• Most BDSM. Personal preference, no apologies. Please don't offer it. Absolutely no pain play, blood play, flogging, bondage, humiliation, gagging, CBT. If it requires implements, I don't want to read it.
• Het.

Iffy stuff:

• Dub-con. We might not agree about where the line is. I'm likely to be more restrictive in my definition than you are.

• Soul mates -- this one hits the gag reflex, no matter what the writing looks like, 99 times out of a hundred, and the hundredth one is probably involving a non-human. A deep bonding after personalities get explored is fine, just no "only one personnnnnn in the universssssse for meeeeeeeee!"
• BDSM of the non-implement variety. Psychological aspects might be okay, but know you're taking a risk.

There have been exceptions, but I choose them.
This may end up looking like grade inflation, I don’t know. I’ll take another look in six months. What it looks like to me right now is the buffet rules I worked with at Jessewave's or Dark Divas: I touch it, I take it, I review it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Coming this week

OMG, my Thursday picture didn't post. That poor guy's been sitting there on the server, with his heart going... well, you tell us how's it going, and why. It might be his fault. Or not. 100 to 1000 words to explain please!

So, for last week, besides our missing prompt pic (sigh) we had reviews for Icebound by Corinna Rogers, a new to me author, and for A Matter of When by Eden Winters, who's one of my favorites. I seem to be reading a lot of rock stars lately, and they're all different.

This coming week, I'm reviewing A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews, and Spaghetti Western from EM Lynley. And P.D. Singer has a little something to go with a picture I posted a couple weeks back, so keep an eye out for that!

And I promise, Thursday eyecandy with a story.

Keep reading.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Matter of When by Eden Winters

Title: A Matter of When
Author: Eden Winters
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Reece Dante
Genre: contemporary
Length: 236 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

Wealth. Fame. Gold record. Hookers and Cocaine front man Henri Lafontaine has it all… including a control freak manager, band members who smile as they sharpen blades for his back, and last but damn well not least, a fan out to steal his heart. Literally. Trying to write hit songs and plan a comeback in the midst of the hi-fi white noise of LA feels more like watching his world implode, until he’s offered a month in the Colorado Rockies for vocal coaching.

Sebastian Unger’s rich, classically trained tenor inspires wicked thoughts. More than a pretty choir boy, he cracks the whip without hesitation to drive tattooed bad-boy Henri to give his all to his music. Working, fighting, and finally establishing a fragile peace, they find inspiration and perhaps more in each other. But the clock is ticking. Time will pull Henri back to the grit and gold of LA’s mean streets and fame machine, while Sebastian must return to the opera circuit, where a mysterious man known as “the patron” holds far too much sway. Only the trust they've built on a handful of notes bridges their two worlds... and shields them from malice.


Rock and opera aren’t musical forms that obviously go together in anyone’s hands but Eden Winters. Henri and Sebastian have a lot of the same obstacles to overcome, in their own separate ways. Not only that, but Seb can teach Henri how to sustain a note longer than 3 seconds without passing out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Icebound by Corinna Rogers

Title: Icebound
Author: Corinna Rogers
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
     Preorder until September 25, 2014
Cover Artist: Unknown
Genre: fantasy
Length: 45k words (est), 156 pages
Formats: epub, mobi

It's been ten years since Shane Conell sold his soul to the Ice King in order to save the life of the man he loves. Correction, loved. After ten years, it's growing difficult to remember love, and hate, and laughter until a chance appears to get back the only thing his frozen heart still wants...

Drake Young is doing fine. Really. He's got a good job, nice benefits, and the soulless husk of his old lover only comes by to torment him every so often. However, it only takes the appearance of a creature from the Etherworld wreaking havoc on the decidedly nonmagical city streets to drag him out of retirement, forcing him to team up with the one person he can't bear even to look at!

Now, Drake and Shane must race against the clock to keep their city from being destroyed, even if it means working together. And no matter how difficult it is to catch the creature, it's a hell of a lot more difficult to resist the urges that ten years haven't managed to kill.


There is a romance arc in here, layered in the rough language, the rough interactions, and desperate situations. The level of violence makes the book unsuitable for Dreamspinner or Loose Id, though the story flows.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What happens in Bali stays in books with Z. Allora

Thank you, Cryselle, for having me to your blog. I thought I’d do a little picture show since With Wings takes place mostly on the Indonesian island of Bali. I wanted to share some of my pictures.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Coming this week

That look on our reader's face means "Where the hell is that excerpt about the hot rockers from Z. Allora?" Monday! I promise, it will be up Monday! Go back to reading your book for 24 hours, okay?

I did have the promised reviews on Just Playing from Ingela Bohm and the baseball anthology Playing Ball from Shae Connor, Marguerite Labbe, Kerry Freeman, and Kate McMurray. Please don't bean the blogger!

Coming up, besides that Monday post about Bali and hot men, will be reviews on Icebound from Corinna Rogers and A Matter of When by Eden Winters.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Playing Ball Anthology

Title: Playing Ball
Authors: Shae Connor, Kate McMurray, Kerry Freeman, Marguerite Labbe
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Genre: anthology, sports
Length: 270 pages, 92k words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

Baseball—America's favorite pastime—provides a field wide open for romance. A Home Field Advantage may not help when Toby must choose between the team he’s loved all his life and the man he could love for the rest of it. In 1927, Skip hides his sexuality to protect his career until he meets One Man to Remember. Ruben and Alan fell victim to a Wild Pitch, leaving them struggling with heartache and guilt, and now they've met again. And on One Last Road Trip, Jake retires and leaves baseball behind, hoping to reconnect with Mikko and get a second chance at love.

All apologies to the authors and readers who love the game, but baseball is team golf. What happens around the game, now that’s interesting. Fortunately, we have four stories where play by play is sparse and story is abundant. Presenting the stories in the order they appear in the book, we have:

One Man to Remember by Kate McMurray

This story takes us back to the Roaring 20s, when Babe Ruth in all his magnificent excess ruled baseball and homosexuality was something to hide. The tone reminded me a lot of Damon Runyon, to the point where I had to check my perceptions in his short stories, which was a lot of fun.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A picture is worth...

This picture reminided me of Spokes by P.D. Singer, which I recently read (again), reviewed (finally), and enjoyed greatly. What does it make you think of?

Tell us in 100 to 1000 words (drabbles are fine, really) and send your news along too. See How Thousand Word Thursday Works for details. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Playing Around by Ingela Bohm

Title: Just Playing
Author: Ingela Bohm
Purchase at Amazon  
Purchase at Barnes and Noble
Cover Artist:  unknown
Genre:  recent historical
Length: 98k, approximately 315 pages
Formats:  epub, mobi

Michael and Jamie seem fated to make music together. But the thrill of playing soon turns into something more, something neither of the young men can handle. Unable to just stay friends, their only option may be to avoid each other completely. But when things start moving for Jamie's band, a decision has to be made: either this is goodbye, or they risk everything and let Michael join.


I both enjoyed this book and was irritated by it. Michael and Jamie come together as teens and explore their sexuality together while simultaneously trying to deny the hell out of it. It’s 1975, and gay as an idea hasn’t ever been part of their world until they find themselves touching and running, and touching again.

First off, the language is beautiful. It's textured and poetic, sometimes surprising.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Coming this week

We had a great week last week! We reviewed Z Allora's With Wings and Parts 1 & 2 of Carolyne Chand's historical serial, The Knife of Narcissus. That made for an eclectic week, but launched me on a theme.

I sure didn't plan it, but I have another rock and roll mm book coming at you, this time Ingela Bohm's Just Playing. And because playing can be so many things, I also have an anthology of baseball stories, Playing Ball, with some familiar names: Shae Connor, Margaret Labbe, Kate McMurray, and Kerry Freeman.  And that's why I'm sending Mr. Tightypants out as the face of this post. We'll see what else I find for Thursday's picture worth a thousand words. ;)

And as an extra treat, we're getting a guest post from Z. Allora, who has some insights on the antics Dare and Angel got up to while they were in Bali. Fascinating! Plus an excerpt -- hot!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

With Wings (Dark Angels Book 1) by Z. Allora

Title: With Wings (The Dark Angels Book 1)
Author: Z. Allora
Purchase at Amazon
Cover Artist: P.L. Nunn
Genre: contemporary, rock and roll
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf

The lights go down and the stage lights up. The Dark Angels have arrived. With his come-hither voice and body made for sin, lead singer Angel Luv draws lovers like a magnet. And when he caresses and taunts shy guitarist Darius Stone on stage, well…it’s an act, right? But every touch lights a fire, and every flirtatious glance chips away at Dare’s certainty that he’s straight. No one else has so captured his imagination.

Temptation beckons. It’s hard not to notice the want in Dare’s eyes, the way he stares when he thinks Angel’s not watching. One wrong move might scare him away, but a work trip to exotic Bali might be the perfect place to let Dare explore his sexuality, with none to be the wiser. But their “friends with benefits” pact has an expiration date, that just might sour their friendship.


This is the second edition of The Dark Angels: With Wings. No idea what the first edition looked like or if this is substantially different, but let me say this: Second Edition Rocks!

Here we have a yaoi-flavored out-for-you story, where Dare isn’t sure at first just what the draw is to this crazy guy who keeps showing up at his little tribute band’s gigs. Angel thinks Dare’s the best guitarist for the Dark Angels, and finds him pretty hot as well. Dare’s slow to warm up to the notion: he has a fair share of the attractive and limber female fans who throw keys, panties, and themselves at the band.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A picture is worth...

This pic made me think of a book I recently read, reviewed and enjoyed. Double Up by Vanessa North. What does he make you think of?

If you have 100 to 1000 words for this or any other of my Thursday pics, send it along and I'll post it, and send your news along too. See How Thousand Word Thursday Works for details.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Knife of Narcissus by Carolyne Chand

Title: A Knife for Narcissus Parts I and II
Author: Carolyne Chand
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: unknown
Genre: Historical, ancient Rome
Length: 41k
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf

Lucius Sentius, along with most people in the city of Rome, assumes that the chaotic days of Nero are behind them. Lucius may be only the son of a merchant, but his newly arranged marriage to an older widow will bring powerful connections and a settled life--if he keepshimself on a respectable path. His heart lies somewhere not at all respectable: his lifelong friend Trio, the reserved and serious son of one of the most reserved and pious families in the city. And his new wife, Velleia, has plans and secrets of her own. As Lucius is pushed along the course of duty to family, to his promised spouse, and to Rome itself, he begins to see under the surface of his city, into a net of intrigues, manipulation, and corruption that can carry him upward in status and bring him what he wants...or destroy both him and the people he loves.

Warnings: explicit sexual scenes and language, m/m, m/m/m, some f/m, reference to dubious consent in an historical context, themes of sexual abuse recovery, themes of infertility, non-exclusivity and (consenting and mutual) marital infidelity. And after all that, two HFNs.

Parts 1 and 2
Lucius Sentius assumes the debauched days of Nero are over. Marriage will bring powerful connections if he keeps to a respectable path. That seems impossible when he discovers that his heart lies somewhere not at all respectable. As he is pushed along the course of duty, he begins to see under the surface of his city, to intrigues and corruption that can carry him upward in power...or destroy him. (A serial novel in 7 parts.)


Here are the first two parts of a much larger work—I appreciate that the serial nature of the work was disclosed up front. I’m intrigued now and want to read the rest. Parts 1 and 2 are packaged together, the rest are individually sold and eventually there will be a compilation. I may not want to wait that long.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Coming this week

The holiday weekend got me--but here's what you can expect coming thsi week.

Last week we had the review of P.D. Singer's spectacular cycling novel, Spokes, and a hottie covered in suds for a prompt pic.

Coming this week, in addition to our Thursday prompt pic, we'll have reviews of the historical serial, The Knife of Narcissus, parts 1 and 2, from Carolyne Chand, and a hot rocker novel from Z. Allora, called With Wings (Dark Angels Book 1). I'm a happy girl.

Keep reading.