What I’ve Been Reading, Summer 2018

I haven’t done a post on books I’ve read and loved in a while. Last one was… wow. Almost a year ago!

So let’s dive in, shall we?

Romantic Suspense

I’ve read a lot of romantic suspense lately. I completely blame Layla Reyne for hooking me on that subgenre!

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I really enjoyed the Bad Behavior series by Cari Z and LA Witt. The third book GUTTED ME in places, but the fourth book was a lovely epilogue to everything. The way these two come together and their personal lives become entwined… and how they support each other was just wonderful. Both have a lot weighing on them, even outside the romantic suspense plot of dirty cops and not knowing who to trust.

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I also really enjoyed Mary Calmes’s Marshals series, starting with All Kinds of Tied Down. It’s really over the top at times and  meanders once and a while, but man…man. It’s such a fun fast ride! And features one of the creepiest, best villains ever. Poor poor Miro Jones. He goes through the wringer.

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And then there’s the Seven of Spades series by Cordelia Kingsbridge. This one isn’t finished yet, and if you follow me on twitter, you’ve seen me raving about this. It’s just SO GOOD. Gritty, sexy, raw. UGH. I could go on for DAYS about it.

It features Levi Abrams, a gay Jewish detective who’s deadly, controlled, and pretty much always angry at the world and Dominic Russo, a huge Italian bounty hunter who’s easy going and well loved…except he has his own demons, too.

And it also features a serial killer who takes a very personal interested in Levi. And man, I have my theories as to who it is…as does everyone.

Three of the five books are out. If you want to join me in the agonizing wait between books, please do.

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And because I can’t stop with the romantic suspense, I also recently read Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward on my flight home from Spain. It’s the story of a super spy, Jack Readon, and a super assassin, Ethan Blade, who end up teaming up in unlikely circumstances in the Australian outback. You’re never quite sure if Ethan is on Jack’s side or playing his own angle. The book is told from alternating chapters of Past and Now and it’s SO WELL DONE I ache all over thinking about it. And Ethan… Ethan is charming and deadly and I want to know more. There’s a coda out as well, and a novella.

Authors of Color

Because romance is often so VERY VERY white, I’ve been working on reading and promoting more authors of color. So here’s who I’ve read since August of last year. I need to read more. Lots more. But this was a start.

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His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington. Now, I know Robin. I edited Robin’s first book way back when in a previous life. I  adore her writing. And, in retrospect, I really did enjoy this book quite a bit. I was conflicted at the time, mostly because the publisher screwed up and put out a blurb that didn’t describe the book correctly. And I felt quite a bit of a letdown from that. Which isn’t Robin’s fault. So go read this one. It’s a fun m/m take on the Marriage of Convenience trope between a black football player and a Russian dancer.

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A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra. Oh, this was a beautiful and lushly written new adult book about two young men finding each other and their place in the world. It deals with mental illness and doesn’t shy away from the reality. But there’s so much hope written into Reid and Joaquim‘s story. Very recommend.

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Goddess Tricked by Skylar Blue. A little out of my normal reading habits, yes. I picked this book up because the cover was captivating. Now, this is very much an erotic paranormal romance, with emphasis on the erotic and on voyeurism. It’s also m/f. It’s pretty much the story of Carly, a Spark or magic user, trying to make it through the night of a Blood Moon (a full moon in conjunction with a solar eclipse) without being mated to anyone. It was a fun read and the world building was interesting.

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Love’s Changes by LaQuette. This was SO GOOD, guys. M/M contemporary romance. Took a little to get into, but so very worth it! And I want the sequel. Ugh. This is one of those books that looks at an established relationship on the rocks and how these men go about reconnecting and staying committed to each other. Bryan and Justice have been married for some time, but the stress of a near fatal shooting (Bryan in an NYPD cop) and the fact that Bryan is still hiding his relationship bring things to a head with Justice. Bryan has to face his own fears to keep Justice in his life. He gets a little help from Justice’s family, too.

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The Preacher’s Promise by Piper Huguley. This is another book that’s outside my normal reading zone, given that it’s m/f and an inspirational. But way back when, I met Piper at a convention and LOVED that cover. I mean LOOK AT IT. So I picked the book up.

It’s so well done. And covers a period of history my white ass knows nothing about. The MCs shine through this marriage of convenience book, as does what slavery did to (and continues to do) to black people. Also how well-meaning white folk are still racist, despite their well-meaning-ness. The love that Amanda, an Oberlin College-trained woman, and Virgil, a blacksmith who becomes a town’s mayor develop for each other shines through, as does their faith in God.

I highly recommend picking this one up. Seriously. Well-written and if you’re like me and so very white and northern, it’ll open your eyes.

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Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jakie Lau. This was such a fun fun fun book about a fake dating situation between Will, a SFF author who is grumpy but also sweet and kind, and his best friend’s little sister, Naomi, who is bubbly, sexy, and outgoing. Naomi needs a date during a holiday couples getaway, since her ex and his new girlfriend will also be there. Will reluctantly says yes. Both Will and Naomi discover that changing for someone else isn’t necessarily the best plan, and sometimes you can fall for someone very different from yourself.

Kris Ripper

Kris will probably be somewhat taken aback by me giving zir an entire section, but… really, the last category of reads is books by Kris Ripper. I waxed on about the Scientific Method Universe books in last year’s update, and all of that holds.

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This year, at the head of the year, I read all four (so far) of Ripper’s New Years series books, which are spin-offs to the main SMU books. They take place at the beach house Hugh and Truman bought, so we get to see Hugh, Tru, and Will, but each book is told from the POV of another character that we’ve seen in SMU. They’re all standalone, but I do think it helps to have read the SMU books.

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Also, we catch glimpses of Hugh, Tru, and Will, which culminate in Ripper’s most recent release, Untrue. This is book 9 in the SMU series. And Oh MY GOD. It was the hardest, best book of them all. Truman does the unfathomable and cheats on Hugh. The result rips into all three men and uncovers their flaws and strengths and gives them a space to either break apart…or grow into something stronger and better than what they had before. This book caused me not to be able to breathe for about half of it. I also had to read it in one sitting. But in the end, oh, the end, everything was fine. Just like Hugh predicted. The jerkface.

(I love Hugh. So much. So so so much.)

Anyway, that’s a look at some of what I’ve read in the past year. Reading fills the well, and it’s been very full recently.

CTRL Me Reissued

I mentioned a bit ago that I received back the rights for my short story CTRL Me from Riptide publishing. It had been in the anthology Rules to Live By.

I gave the book a quick edit and updated a few things (like the Consol Energy center is not called that anymore…), added some more explicit consent, and took out some gender binary language, and released it on Amazon.

It also has a lovely cover by Garrett Leigh, which I think captures the spirit of the story well.

Tom likes rope. He really really likes rope.

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If you own Rules to Live By, it’s basically the same story, so there’s no need to rebuy if you don’t wish to. This one’s also in KU, since it’s kind of a nice sample of my kinkier contemporary writing. I do want to write more with Gabe and Tom… I just haven’t found quite the right story yet. But yes, I foresee more with them.

They might also meet some of the other kinky folk who live in Pittsburgh….

In the meantime, I’m starting work on Twisted Wishes #3, Reverb, which is Mish’s book! Look for that in 2019!

Counterpoint Cover and Blurb

Do you want to see the cover for Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2)? Yes? Well here it is!

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What do you think? I really love it!

What’s Counterpoint about? Here’s the blurb!

Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.

When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.

Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.

Preorder: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Google Play

Goodreads (My review has some content warnings behind a spoiler tag)

There’s D/s elements in this one and bondage, but nothing else. Also part of the story deals with anxiety.

Rep: Dom is gay, while Adrian is pansexual.

Technically, Dom should have a few more tattoos than depicted on the cover, but getting the exact cover model from stock is hard and the one there is significant to the story, so I’m really pleased!

Release Day for Syncopation!

Syncopation, book one of Twisted Wishes, is out in the wild!

  • M/M rockstar romance
  • Angsty stressed singer/songwriter
  • Classically trained drummer
  • Enemies to friends to lovers
  • BDSM
  • Tour bus sex

Ray is gay. Zavier is pansexual, aromantic, and kinky.

Buy links: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Google Play / Kobo / Carina Press

This one was so much fun to write, and I hope you like the initial tour with Ray and Zavier, and Mish and Dom.

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For those that loved Dom in Syncopation, in September, the series continues with Dom’s book, Counterpoint. I do have plans for a book with Mish, too and the proposal is in with Carina. Keep your fingers crossed for that one!

Update on My Relationship with Riptide

So, if you didn’t know, there was an upheaval at Riptide Publishing due to their former editor in chief making sexual statements and racist statements to authors.

Their statement about the resignation is here: http://riptidepublishing.com/SL-statement

As a result, Riptide allowed authors to authors to ask for their rights back.

Their pledge going forward is here: https://www.riptidepublishing.com/reform

What does this mean for me? Well, my agent and I canceled the contracts I’d signed to write in a new multi-author series with Riptide. I may take one of the characters (a non-binary high-tech worker) and write another book with them, since I was really looking forward to developing a character close to who I am.

I’ve received the rights back to my story CTRL Me, which had been in the anthology Rules to Live By. I plan to add on to that story and republish it later this year.

I’ve left my book Outside the Lines at Riptide, since it’s part of a house series I can’t republish it, so if I were to pull it, it would go out of print. It’s only been in print a couple of months.

It’s a book I feel strongly about, and fought to have published as a polyam romance between a married m/f couple and a gay man (rather than as an m/m/m romance, which is what I was asked to change the book to at one point). I wanted to show that HEAs are possible for everyone, even people in non-standard relationships, and that you can have a committed relationship with someone without sexual attraction, too. These types of relationships are the reality for a bunch of folks.

So it’s staying at Riptide for the time being. This was a hard decision for me, but I think it’s the right one for this book.

Cover for Syncopation!

This past Saturday, the lovely people over at From Top To Bottom Reviews were kind enough to host the reveal of the cover for Syncopation. But in case you missed it, here it is, in all its hot glory!

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And here’s the blurb!

There’s no resisting the thrum of temptation in this male/male rock-star romance from genre-favorite author Anna Zabo!

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

Wanna Preorder? Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Google Play