Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Recent Release: Finding Amelia by Graham West

Title: Finding Amelia
Author: Graham West
Language: English
Published: 3rd September, 2017
Length: Length: 111,790 words (406 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-098-2
eBook: 978-1-78645-099-9
ASIN: B074W12R7S
Category: Fiction
Genre: Paranormal

Following the horrific death of his wife and child, Robert Adams struggles to rebuild a life with his seventeen-year-old daughter, Jenny. Their relationship is tested further when she expresses a desire to contact her mother through a spiritualist and he watches helplessly as they slowly drift apart.

But everything changes when Jenny begins to dream - dreams which take her into another world - a world inhabited by a young girl, imprisoned in a dark attic. A girl Jenny believes is an ancestor whose spirit is reaching out across the generations.

But who is she? What does she want? As Jenny's behaviour becomes increasingly dangerous and unpredictable, Robert finds himself confiding in Sebastian Tint - an old professor who claims to possess a sixth sense. Together, they employ retired genealogist Jack Staple to trace the family tree - but it is a journey that takes Robert down a road of discovery that threatens to tear their world apart.


Publisher's Review:
Finding Amelia is a compelling read, from start to finish. It is narrated by Robert Adams - the main character - in first person, and he is a seriously flawed narrator. There were times when I wondered if his indiscretions might do more than merely catch up with him, but there's something about him that keeps him redeemable in the reader's eyes.

The story unfolds following the death of Rob's wife and youngest child, and it's a trip to hell for both Rob and Jenny - his seventeen-year-old daughter. Rob's grief is tangible; he has some great support around him, yet he is alone and lonely, as is the way of grieving, the author's portrayal of which is gritty and real.

The supernatural mystery is 'fun' to follow - inverted commas because the events surrounding Amelia's persistence are not fun at all. We readers find out what is happening as Rob does, albeit with the benefit of emotional distance, always with the question hanging over Jenny's sanity, and, by extension, Rob's.

I really loved some of the secondary characters - Sebastian is my favourite character, even above Rob. Josie is lovely but a typical know-it-all psychologist type, and at times, I wished she'd keep her opinions to herself. Of course, my irritation wouldn't be possible if the characterisation wasn't excellent throughout.

Even better, the sequel is now in editing! Finding Amelia has a firm conclusion and ties all the major loose ends, but I can't wait to find out where Rob and Jenny's journey takes them next.



About the Author:
Graham West studied art at Hugh Baird college in Bootle, Merseyside, before joining the display team at Blacklers Store in Liverpool city centre where he spent seven years in the art department before moving on in 1981 to become a sign writer. He lives in Maghull with his wife, Ann, and has a daughter, Lindsay, and two grandchildren, Sonny and Kasper. Graham also plays guitar at weddings, functions and restaurants. He took up writing in 2000 and has had a couple of factual articles published in magazines. Finding Amelia is his first novel.

Friday, 1 September 2017

New Release: Dirty Mind by Roe Horvat

Title: Dirty Mind
Author: Roe Horvat
Language: English
Published: 1st September, 2017
Length: 47,990 words (164 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-163-7
eBook: 978-1-78645-164-4
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Adult, Pure Romance - M/M, Pure Romance - Contemporary

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Alexander Popescu is a university lecturer in a quiet German town. He's a respectable man in his thirties who stays fit, has a decent career and travels alone - his only vice is an occasional greasy meal. And beer. And violent computer games. Nobody has to know about the other Alex - the acclaimed porn writer. His ingenious erotic fantasies earn him good money and keep his capricious mind harmlessly entertained.

When his young friend and protégé Christian transfers to Freiburg for medical school, Alex is overjoyed...and terrified that Christian will find out about Alex's indecent alter ego. The time they spend together, as lovely as it is, could overturn Alex's carefully balanced life. Suddenly, the writing is not good enough, his hair seems to be thinning, his careful hookups leave him unfulfilled, and his dreams are haunted by the innocent young man he's vowed to protect.

However, Christian is not a boy any more. He's a grown man of twenty-one, clever and deadly attractive. And he's hiding some secrets of his own.


Editor's Review:
This review is going to be more of the 'I have the best job in the world' because the thing about being an editor/publisher is that I get to read so many stories that are utterly brilliant in their own unique way.

Dirty Mind is M/M Romance - great M/M romance, with age-gap, friends to lovers, some angst, some sexy time and a happy ending. It's got all the stuff that M/M romance readers appreciate (think 'pink bubble gum for the eyes').


Dirty Mind also has so many layers - themes that are almost literary, grim humour, existentialism, and a critique of the very thing it is.

I feel how Alex feels. Often - not just about writing erotic scenes. About all of my writing. About growing older, the powerlessness of trying to help friends deal with complex health challenges. Alex is real, and complicated, and he struggles with anxiety. This can be frustrating to read and easy to dismiss as 'oh god, more melodrama' but in everyday life, this is how anxiety operates. If you don't know that, you should count yourself very lucky indeed.

Christian is...well, the grown-up. Too grown up for his own good, really. Thank all that is Dieter for being the not-so-straightman heterosexual friend to our Christian. The pair of them are like some kind of just-post-pubescent student bots who eventually break their programming and develop sentience. I love that Roe Horvat showed us this - they weren't fully fledged adults when they arrived at university, because students aren't, and we see them mature, learn to fit into their skin. It's a great contrast to Alex and his somewhat fuddy-duddy set ways.

I absolutely love Dieter. So much.

And the worms! OMG, I cried with laughter whilst trying to deal with the excess saliva, because...been there, done that.

So, this is a scrappy review, isn't it? As I said at the start, I have the best job in the world, and my editing awaits! But I had to pop over and tell you all about Dirty Mind by Roe Horvat, which you can still buy for 99c today (release day - September 1st), $4.99 thereafter.



About the Author: Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. They love Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, and daiquiri, with equal passion. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.


Friday, 18 August 2017

New Release: Hunting a Predator by J.E. Locke

Title: Hunting a Predator
Author: J.E. Locke
Language: English
Published: 18th August, 2017
Length: 60,000 words (240 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-910635-83-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-910635-84-1
ASIN: B074PWFHJDCategory: Fiction
Genre: Crime, Thrillers and Mystery, Contemporary Fiction

A police procedural inspired by CSI.

Meet Superintendent Brian Tyson, based at Scotland Yard. Aided by a group of forensic experts and the police of three different counties, he is charged with catching a serial rapist.

Having already attacked once in South London, the target is travelling north, and Brian is in hot pursuit. With a second attack in the Midlands - this time on a young Afro-Caribbean teenager - the hunt intensifies, with Brian getting ever closer to his prey.

Can he catch the rapist before he strikes again?


Editor's Review:
Whilst 'police procedural' is not my literary genre of choice, I'm quite partial to TV series about crack teams of profilers and highfaluting police officers embarking on caffeine-fuelled hunts for dangerous criminals.

Hunting a Predator has some definite hints of shows such as CSI, Criminal Minds and Cracker, but it is distinct in several ways. It's similar in the way it's told - through a series of scenes at distinct times and locations, linear progression of the case and the procedure itself - and, of course, there's the investigative team, led by Superintendent Brian Tyson - a former officer in the Special Services.

Other personnel include Anthony Terrence and Will Fordham - forensic psychologists who play together quite nicely, considering their profession and that they're based at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford respectively. Then there's Tom Donald - a senior forensic scientist - workaholic with a heart of gold and my favourite member of the team. Brian's personal assistant Olivia needs a shout-out, too, because it's clear Brian wouldn't be anywhere near as efficient without her at his side.

As the investigation escalates, the team draws in a few others, the most prominent of those being fifteen-year-old Alonso Davis - Ace to his friends. I won't say more about what he does, but he steals the show, and in some respects, this story is as much about Ace's growth as it is about solving the crime(s). He proves himself to be a great ally - the kind of young man who could rightfully wear the badge of 'feminist'.

Aside from the refreshing mix of ethnicity, age and gender among the main characters (the bias is still white males in their 30s-40s and realistic in context), a major strength of Hunting a Predator is that whilst the focus is on the investigation, it also explores the impact of the crimes on the victims, families, communities and those involved in caring for the victims / tracking down the rapist.

This, to me, is what makes this story distinct. I stopped watching CSI and Criminal Minds because once you've seen/read one criminal investigation you've pretty much seen/read them all. The crimes change, the victims have different names, but the procedure is the same old same old. Hunting a Predator digs deeper and without falling foul of romantic sub-plots, marriages sacrificed to the job, drug/alcohol/gambling addictions, and so on.

Content warning: includes reference to the nature of the attacks (rape, constraint, mutilation) on both animals and young women. In both cases, the details are scant and not graphically or gratuitously depicted, but may cause distress to some readers.

Buy 'Hunting a Predator':

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

New Release: In His Eyes by Larry Benjamin

Title: In His Eyes
Author: Larry Benjamin
Language: English
Published: 1st August, 2017
Length: 61,500 words (266 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978 1 78645 138 5
eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 139 2
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Literary, New Adult, Adult

"When you boys fall in love, fall in love with his smile - because his smile will never age or change - and his eyes because in his eyes, you will always see the truth." That advice launches two young men on the journey to adulthood.

Told in 139 "vignettes," each dedicated to a single event, this is the story of four young men who meet in college, and follows them for more than two decades as they navigate the landscape of modern gay life.

Often playful and imaginative, but firmly grounded in the reality of gay men living in a perplexing, often hostile world, In His Eyes takes us on a journey with these men as they mature and fall in love, and struggle to maintain relationships among petty disappointments and broken dreams, while navigating the rough terrain of acceptance both internal and external.

As they break apart and come together, wound and heal, we are left to ask ourselves: does love ever really die, or is it just reborn in another time and place?


Editor's Review:
What can I tell you about the new novel from Larry Benjamin? When I think of how readily I can waffle up a storm in any other circumstances, it's hard to believe I can't find words to do justice to In His Eyes (or, indeed, any of Larry's previous works). I could repeat the blurb, but that's pointless...

Larry will tell you that In His Eyes is very different from his previous novels, and I agree with him up to a point. Whilst he possesses a unique literary voice that shapes all of his stories, this one is told through vignettes and from four different points of view, where What Binds Us and Unbroken are both written in continuous prose and from one point of view only.

It also looks nothing like I expected it to when Larry first told me about it. I envisaged there would be a certain amount of separation between the four narrative strands, with the spotlight falling on one character and leaving the others in the downstage darkness until that character had taken their turn.

What we get instead is a braiding together, and in the same way as each strand of a braid at some point rises to the surface, briefly elevated by the other strands, it remains an inseparable part of the whole, lifting the other strands to the fore when it is their turn. I'm a bit in awe, to be honest, because when I reached the end, it dawned on me that I had travelled decades with these guys, yet not once did I feel there were times unaccounted for.

I realise this review doesn't at all capture the emotional journey of these characters, the ups and downs, the relationships they encounter, or the deep friendship that holds them together. I'm not even going to attempt to do that. You need to read In His Eyes and see for yourself.

Buy 'In His Eyes':

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Larry Benjamin - In His Eyes - cover reveal, preorder links, excerpt #LGBTQIA

* Available for Preorder *

I'm excited to announce that preordering is live for In His Eyes
– Larry Benjamin's 'first novel-length work since 2013 Lammy finalist Unbroken'.
(I'm quoting him. OK, paraphrasing a little.)

* * * * *

Preorder In His Eyes:

* * * * *

Expected: 1st August, 2017
Length: 61,500 words (266 pages) approx.

"When you boys fall in love, fall in love with his smile - because his smile will never age or change - and his eyes because in his eyes, you will always see the truth." That advice launches two young men on the journey to adulthood.

Told in 139 "vignettes," each dedicated to a single event, this is the story of four young men who meet in college, and follows them for more than two decades as they navigate the landscape of modern gay life.

Often playful and imaginative, but firmly grounded in the reality of gay men living in a perplexing, often hostile world, In His Eyes takes us on a journey with these men as they mature and fall in love, and struggle to maintain relationships among petty disappointments and broken dreams, while navigating the rough terrain of acceptance both internal and external.

As they break apart and come together, wound and heal, we are left to ask ourselves: does love ever really die, or is it just reborn in another time and place?

* * * * *

Many thanks to the wonderful Bec at Bike Book Reviews for hosting a cover reveal today. 💖  Head on over to read an exclusive excerpt.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale - up to 50% off Beaten Track Titles

In July, you can get up to 50% off Beaten Track Titles in the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale:

  • 25% off 2017 titles
  • 50% off all other titles
  • (does not include titles normally priced at 99c)

Here are the discount codes (they will also show up on each listing page):

  • SW100 Free
  • SSW75 75% off
  • SSW50 50% off
  • SSW27 25% off

To browse the Smaswords Sale:

To browse Beaten Track titles on Smashwords:

New Release: The Making Of Us by Debbie McGowan

Title: The Making Of Us
Author: Debbie McGowan
Language: English
Published: 20th June, 2017
Length: 97,000 words (366 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78645-042-5
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78645-043-2
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction, New Adult

When English Lit. student Jesse Thomas meets Leigh Hunter, he has to reconsider a few assumptions he's made about himself.

Two years ago, Jesse joined Pride - the uni's LGBT+ society - to support best friend Noah, and Noah's boyfriend, Matty. As a straight, cismale ally, Jesse keeps a low profile - not difficult for someone as shy and body-conscious as he is.

Leigh Hunter is Noah and Matty's new housemate. Born with a life-threatening congenital condition, Leigh is intersex and identifies as queer - none of which alters Jesse's conviction that they are the most beautiful person in the world.

While Jesse and Leigh get to know each other, a new academic year begins in earnest, bringing with it the usual challenge of balancing work and play. Add in a week's holiday in Cornwall that Jesse and Leigh half-wish they hadn't agreed to, Jesse's unplanned involvement in the election of Pride's new officers, and some big decisions for Noah and Matty, it's going to be an interesting semester all round.

NOTE: this is a stand-alone novel, but you might wish to read the Checking Him Out series in order.


Editor's Review:
I count myself devastatingly lucky that I get to sneak-peek these books before most people, and this is simply amazing.

It features battles that all of us fight at some point in our lives, whether we're young slips of things like Jesse and Leigh, the main characters, or whether we're much older than that and still dealing with the fallout. There are struggles with weight, for acceptance, with self-image, and ultimately learning not only to stand up for others, but for ourselves too. This book hits home hard, but it also leaves you with a smile on your face and a warm fuzzy feeling in your belly.

Because this is proper friendship, romance and love at its best.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

New Release: Option Four by Jon Eliot Keane

Title: Option Four
Author: Jon Eliot Keane
Language: English
Published: 25th May, 2017
Length: 57,500 words (198 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 978 1 78645 126 2
eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 127 9
Category: Fiction
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Drama, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction

It's 1997, and seventeen-year-old Donn Carhart wants to come out. There are four ways it could go: reject, tolerate, accept, or they'll say 'me too!'

But his parents don't like gay people, and he doesn't know any other gay kids.

After meeting Alex, an openly gay transfer student, and learning a little bit about gay history in the United States, Donn starts the Acceptance Project club at school. The club is about addressing discrimination, and it draws a lot of student members, including Thad - the most popular guy in his class, who just so happens to be Donn's crush.

After Donn comes out, a group of parents try to shut it down as a 'gay club' - a danger to their children and the community. With his family, community, and classmates pushing back on his decisions, will Donn push forward or will he opt out?


Editor's Review:
As a preamble, I'm going to explain the difficulty of getting a book like Option Four to the right audience.

1. It's contemporary fiction.
Except it's not quite contemporary, because it's set in 1997. Now, whilst that's not so long ago, in the fight for LGBT+ rights and equality, an awful lot has happened during the past twenty years, which is why stories like Option Four1. are so important. However, the BIC book categories2. currently list 'modern and contemporary fiction' as 'post-1945', so contemporary fiction it is.

2. It's LGBT+.
BIC has NO LGBT categories at all. It does, however, have a 'qualifier': 'of specific Gay and Lesbian interest'.
BISAC3. does have several LGBT categories (fiction/romance - general/gay/lesbian; young adult fiction/romance).
Amazon4. has the categories: fiction - gay or lesbian; romance - gay or lesbian; juvenile fiction - LGBT.
Smashwords5. has the categories: young adult or ten - gay & lesbian; gay & lesbian fiction - gay/lesbian.

On this occasion, the main character does identify as gay, but these categories are next to useless when it comes to listing LGBTQIA books that are NOT gay or lesbian (i.e. bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc.)

3. It's young adult (YA).
As the points above indicate, there is variation in how YA LGBT+ fiction is listed. Does Amazon's 'juvenile fiction' extend to 'young adult'?

3. It's fiction with romance.
This is the trickiest issue of all, because, on the one hand, there are those readers/authors who see 'romance' in the narrow sense defined by the RWA6., and they're disappointed when they buy a book categorised as romance only to find it's not what they were expecting. On the other, Option Four does have a significant romance story arc, but it's not the central story arc. Thus, fans of romance will likely enjoy the novel immensely, but it isn't categorised as a romance.


So, to my review.

What readers might notice first is how incredibly well crafted this novel is. Indeed, several of those who read Option Four during the publishing process asked the same question:

Is this really Jon Eliot Keane's first novel?

This isn't necessarily to assume that all first novels are bad, or even not that great, but they often have a rawness, a feeling of newness, and a slight sense of uncertainty that wears off as the author's confidence grows.

Jon Eliot Keane writes with confidence, giving the feel of a seasoned author with a few previous works under his belt, perhaps, in part, because he did what all authors should do: sought feedback from other authors and let the story mature a little before casting it out into the publishing pond.

That confidence transfers to us readers and confers trust in the author to guide us through the story, which is crucial to a story like Option Four.

Told from a first-person perspective, the story is written in continuous prose (i.e. it's written like a novel, in titled chapters) but it takes the form of the journal entries of the main character:
My name is Donner Charles Carhart.
Sometimes, in my more cynical moments, I wonder what possessed my parents to name me that. I mean, Donner's a great name, sure - for a reindeer.
These 'asides' provide sometimes humorous, always poignant insights into the events that unfold in the story, which centres on Donn's 'coming out / coming of age':

Ready for a shock?
Brace yourself. Okay. I'm going to write it down now. First time in my life I'll have ever written this down.
Writing it down makes it real.
That may be why I haven't written it down yet. I've been sitting here with the pen hovering over the paper for five minutes, gearing up for it.
Okay. Here goes.
I think I'm gay.
Well, actually, I'm pretty sure I'm gay.
There's some margin for maybe in there. I had a girlfriend once, but she came out as a lesbian about three months after we broke up, so I'm not sure that that counts. I mean, if she was a lesbian when we were dating, then were we really dating?
I suppose it doesn't matter.
Through his journal entries, Donn shares with us readers his thoughts and feelings about significant moments, his crush, his boyfriend, his friends, his parents, school tests, and so on. But what drives this story is Donn's search for acceptance - from his peers, his parents, the school and the community as a whole. He's pragmatic and confident; he sees a problem and comes up with a solution.

Donn's decision to set up 'The Acceptance Project' - an in-school club for tackling all forms of discrimination - is driven by this pragmatism, which is awesome, but it's also at the heart of many of the interpersonal challenges he faces. He's a flawed narrator, a young guy just starting to deal with the 'big stuff' of life and not always getting it right.

Option Four is a young-adult novel, written with young-adult readers as the intended audience, but it's a novel that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, LGBT+ or otherwise. Adolescence is an experience we all share, and there are many moments in this story that will strike a familiar chord for most of us, but there are also the unique insights into what it was like to be seventeen and gay in 1997.


1. Beaten Track has a number of current and upcoming titles that are 'contemporary/historical', all crucial to ensuring that the struggle towards LGBT+ equality - how far we've come - isn't forgotten:
2. As a UK-based publisher, the BIC system is used to categorise Beaten Track's printed books.
3. BISAC is used by GooglePlay.
4. Amazon categories are used for Kindle ebooks. However, once the books are listed on the various Amazon websites, they also take into account the BISAC and BIC categories (depending on location).
5. Smashwords categories are used for our wider ebook distribution to iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, Scribd etc.
6. According to the Romance Writers of America (RWA), "Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."

Saturday, 15 April 2017

New Release: Love of the Game by Phetra H. Novak

Title: Love of the Game
Author: Phetra H. Novak
Language: English
Published: 15th April, 2017
Length:100,000 words (320 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978 1 78645 123 1
eBook: 978 1 78645 124 8
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, BDSM, Adult

Johannes is starting his new life as a rookie in the best hockey league in the world, the NHL. His new home for the next four years is Montreal, Canada, and he's excited to get to his destination when a storm arrives, stranding him in Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France.

In the airport lounge, he tries to amuse himself the best he can. He's nursing a lukewarm beer, and about to head back to join his parents at their table, when the most gorgeous man he's ever seen, with piercing green eyes, buys him a drink. He swears he has never been so instantly turned on as he is in that moment. The man flirts openly with him, making no secret of what he wants from Johannes as he invites him to meet in private. Not being out only makes Johannes hesitate for a moment before accepting the beautiful stranger's come-on.

Charlie, a cocky and opinionated, ex-submissive and reporter is leaving Paris after being on vacation when the studly jock just happens to appear out of nowhere - served on a silver platter. Charlie sees no reason to deny himself a last rendezvous before he gets on his plane back to Canada.

What he doesn't expect is this stranger to see the real him. Charlie's normal plan of attack is to take charge. But when it backfires, and the studly stranger not only takes control but makes him want more, Charlie does the only thing he feel comfortable doing. He runs!

Editor's Review:
Love of the Game is a romance with strong D/s elements, although there is little in the way of what I've found in other D/s romances I've read. I haven't read many, I'll be honest, because pain is so not my thing, and whilst D/s relationships do not necessarily involve physical pain, it is almost always a feature of those relationships when portrayed in fiction. So, fair warning: there's a chapter that involves spanking (which I found surprisingly funny/sexy), and there's reference to a previous Master/slave relationship that was abusive (some readers may find this a tough one to deal with), but the romance plot itself is NOT D/s. Rather, it is about establishing trust and mutual respect. And love, of course.

Johannes is a Swedish ice hockey player who's secured a place on a top Canadian team; Charlie is a Canadian journalist with a sensational past. When the two of them hook up in Charles de Gaulle airport, it's passionate and feisty, because Charlie is...well, he's a pain in the ass, at first. This hookup is the opening to the book, and there are a couple of explicit scenes later on, but the book isn't heavy on the sex side. Mostly, this is the story of how Johannes and Charlie negotiate a relationship around Johannes' status as a sports star and Charlie's aggressive rejection of even the possibility of love.

The author is a huge fan of ice hockey and really knows her stuff, although there's only one game that takes place on page, juxtaposed against action elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed the switching between Johannes and Charlie in this part of the story, as it also gives insight into Charlie's relationship with his best friends - Marc and Luc - who are in a long-term D/s relationship and they're open about it. Marc - the Dom - constantly comes across as a caring and compassionate man; Luc, meanwhile, is passionate and dramatic, and his love for Charlie shines through.

My favourite chapter takes place in the locker room, with Johannes and his lineup. There is some sexist banter in this scene, which is authentic to context and should not be read as the author's views. That's not why I like it, I hasten to add. I just love the sense of camaraderie, plus some of the other characters are very colourful and certainly deserving of their own story (this is book one of a series, so...). I particularly love Andrew and Sergei (although they seem unlikely 'couple' material).

This contemporary M/M romance ticks the enemies-to-lovers, hurt/comfort and HEA boxes, but it's distinct in its Swedish cultural heritage, the strength of the secondary characters and thoughtful exploration of an embryonic D/s relationship.

Friday, 14 April 2017

New Release: Last Dance of The Sugar Plum by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Author: Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Language: English
Published: 14th April, 2017
Length: 45,000 words (170 pages) approx.
Publisher: Beaten Track
eBook ISBN: eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 131 6
eBook ASIN: B06Y1TK4ZV
Category: Fiction
Genre: Crime, Thrillers and Mystery, LGBT, Humour, Romance and Relationships
URL: http://www.

Available on Kindle Unlimited


Jonathan is a spy.

Anton is Jonathan's 'keeper'.

Jonathan is a spy with a code implanted deep in his subconscious, so deeply he can't remember - anything at all.

Anton is an interrogator intent on retrieving the code, whatever the cost.

But sometimes they dream of dark tunnels and locked-up rooms, and then they both scream.


Along comes Harry, who seems to have all the answers...but who is he, and which side is he on?



For many months, Jonathan and Anton live apart from the world in a hazy, dreamlike state, only interrupted by interrogations and a healthy fear of HQ. One day, they watch a dance performance, and memories begin to unwind... A ticking clock... Betrayal... Missions... Always the scent of oranges. But with clarity, comes a return of powerful emotions...

Last Dance of The Sugar Plum is an exciting spy thriller with as many twists and turns as a maze.

Editor's Review:
Last Dance of The Sugar Plum is the longest and cleverest (so far) of Claire Davis and Al Stewart's stories. It's about...well. Here's what I've noticed in the advance reviews: no one is quite sure what it's about. Yes, there's a love story element, and if you're a romance reader, you'll find there's enough of a happy ending to satisfy your mushy side. But it's not a romance. Given how love develops in the story, it's not exactly conducive to a light-hearted romp between the sheets. But there's certainly love and a few spicy moments.

There's also intrigue, and this is where the cleverness resides. I'd contend Sugar Plum is literary fiction, because it's underpinned by strong themes and draws on many literary devices. It can also be read and understood on many different levels. For instance, I can see an overarching metaphor related to lack of control/being controlled by outside forces. There's the more obvious stripping of identity that comes from being assigned a number, and so many other potential ways to read this story that I could go on forever, but I don't want to shape other readers' perceptions.

Lastly, there's a good deal of humour - some of it blatant and 'in your face', much of it subtle. It's the kind of dark humour viewers of British alternative comedy will definitely appreciate (think Little Britain or League of Gentlemen).

It's an almost-impossible-to-review story, and all I can suggest is reading it for yourself. You'll see what I mean. Or will you?

Buy 'Last Dance of The Sugar Plum':
Amazon [Kindle edition]

Thursday, 6 April 2017

New Releases: Last Winter's Snow by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Last Winter's Snow
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 6th April, 2017
Length: 69,000 words (232 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback ISBN: 9781786451217
eBook ISBN: 9781786451224
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, History, Romance and Relationships, Political

This is the story of Nilas and how he navigates life, trying to reconcile being gay as well as being Sami. Set over several decades, we follow Nilas and his Swedish husband Casper, as they build a life amid the shallows of bigotry, discrimination, and the onset of the AIDS crisis.

Last Winter's Snow portrays recent LGBT history from a Swedish perspective, from the days when being gay was considered a 'mental disorder' to today's modern anti-discrimination legislation and the move toward equality. It's also the story of one couple and the ups and downs of everyday life in the face of changing rules and attitudes toward them and their relationship.

Last, not least, it's a book that celebrates the rich history and culture of the Sami and their land, Sápmi, as well as their ongoing struggle to achieve recognition and win back the right to self-determination over lands they've lived on for thousands of years.

Last Winter's Snow is Hans M Hirschi's first novel set almost entirely in Sweden, but it is the second time (after Fallen Angels of Karnataka) he takes his readers on a journey into the mountainous regions of Scandinavia in one of his acclaimed novels.

Editor's Review:
Last Winter's Snow is (for me) Hans M Hirschi's best novel to date, not because it is a wonderful love story (which it is), or because the characters are believable (they are), but because it's socially, culturally and politically important.

It's also the one I've enjoyed most, and I've spent quite some time trying to figure out why. I've read a lot of light fantasy as a means of escape, and I still like those kinds of books (and movies), where there is a clear disconnection from reality. It's pure escapism, and it has its place. There's no emotional impact, although that's also true of a lot of contemporary fiction.

Last Winter's Snow is no ordinary contemporary fiction. It's grounded in real cultural history - a history we are in danger of forgetting, and we MUST not forget.

I love the internet. I really do. I love having a camera on my phone, the ability to send letters to people without having to remember to take them to the post box, being able to communicate with my family and friends on a regular (though remote) basis. It's changed our lives for the better in so many ways, but it's not without its limitations and pitfalls. Social network newsfeeds move so fast we lose sight of what happened only moments ago, and we expect everything now-now-now. We choose who to follow, and we choose people like us, skewing our world view. Our photos, once lovingly stuck into hardcover albums and passed on as heirlooms, now exist in virtual folders in 'the cloud'.

Moreover, we lose sight of what happened in the very recent past. In democratic societies, laws are constantly made and remade. The rights we've fought hard to secure are, in fact, never secure. The rapid pace of modern life obscures how hard we fought, and what it was like before - what it could be like again if we don't keep fighting and remain ever vigilant.

This is why books like Last Winter's Snow are so vital. Whilst Nilas and Casper are the product of the author's imagination, their story is a reality that is lived by many. It is a love story - of two men, and of Sápmi - but it is so much more. It is a document of historical significance, a permanent record to survive these transient times.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

New Releases: Once in the Underworld and Just Words by Ofelia Gränd

Title: Once in the Underworld
Author: Ofelia Gränd
Language: English
Published: 14th March, 2017
Length: 31,500 words (135 pages) approx.
Publisher: Beaten Track
ISBN: 978 1 78645 119 4
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, Adult

Chris Hart owns the only grocery shop in Nortown, but he isn't exactly overrun by customers. Some days he wonders why he bothers to open the doors at all. Spending his days smiling at the few people that do trickle in and his nights alone in bed isn't the most interesting life a man could lead. But when Chris suddenly gets the excitement he's been craving, it may just be more than he bargained for.

Gabriel Miller loves his life. He's close to his sister, has a job he adores and is the proud owner of one and a half cats. But all of it is taken away when he witnesses a murder and, to keep him safe, the police place him in Nortown, of all possible locations.

Chris can't believe they're letting someone live in his gran's old cabin in the middle of the winter; it's too cold. When the poor man shows up in his shop looking to buy clothes, Chris's heart melts, despite the freezing temperature. Gabriel notices the way the shopkeeper looks at him, but it can't be right. No one looks at a heavyset man with heat in their eyes. Do they?

When the danger follows Gabe to Nortown, it's more than their chance at happiness that is threatened, and Chris and Gabe find themselves fighting just to stay alive.

Editor's Review:
Once in the Underworld is Book Four in Ofelia's Nortown series, and with each new instalment, she cranks it up a notch. For, whilst the series is intentionally an exploration of some of the main tropes in MM Romance, there is far more to it than that. In fact, aside from the overarching trope (on this occasion Fish out of Water, Beautiful all along - according to the author), there is a great deal of depth to the world and the characters which Ofelia has created.

The series is set in the remote (fictional) town of Nortown, which is in a forest and appears to have fairly inclement weather (on the chilly side). Needless to say, in a town like this, lumberjacking is the main form of employment, and most of our chaps are self-employed lumberjacks, plus their non-lumberjack love interests.

This time, we have two non-lumberjacks making a go of things, but I have to wonder...who will chop the wood? :o

First, there's Chris, who runs the local (and only) shop in town. He's a bi guy with a big heart. I actually love his exclamation of 'My God!' He just feels like an all-round good guy, and he's fiercely protective, but in a different way to Tristan (Once in a Snowstorm), Tom (Once in a Forest) and Zachary (Once in May). If the Nortown LGBT men were wolves, Chris would be the beta. But that's another trope for another story (and we've yet to meet the L and T folks of Nortown, not that I'm trying to put ideas in the author's head at all).

Then there's Gabriel. Gosh, he's so lovely! Well, he's an animal lover, so I may be a tiny bit biased, but he's just altogether humble, introvert and a bit lacking in confidence, not least because he's very conscious of his size. He's not a Nortown native, but ends up in 'a safe house' there after he witnesses a murder. Of course. Where else would he end up?

So, what's in your checked-cloth-covered package in this instalment?

- a good ole romance with sexy times
- a bit of crime thriller
- a sprinkling of the usual humour (Aiden's seat belt moment, Gabriel's observation - 'So there was a gay couple in Nortown.')
- excellent writing
- an amazing setting
- an all-round great read
- a happily ever after

* * * * *

Title: Just Words
Author: Ofelia Gränd
Language: English
Published: 14th March, 2017
Length: 6,400 words (32 pages) approx.
Publisher: Beaten Track
ISBN: ISBN: 978 1 78645 120 0
ASIN: B01N7Y6D46
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Erotic, Short Stories, Adult

Aiden leaves the security of his massage studio behind to rush into the woods when he hears Tristan has gone after some gun-carrying idiots from the city. He can't believe Tristan is willing to risk his life for some stranger.

What will Aiden do if Tristan is killed? He must stop him before it's too late. He can't lose Tristan. And neither gun-waving lunatics nor the frost-covered roads surrounding Nortown will keep him from getting his boyfriend to safety.

Editor's Review:
Just Words is another mini-instalment of the saga that is Tristan and Aiden's relationship. It starts where Once in the Underworld leaves off, so it's best read after that story because of spoilers.

Readers of the Nortown series will know by now that the Tristan/Aiden shorts are pure filth. Each one has Tristan wielding his axe and Aiden yelling 'cleave me' (or something), but Just's something else.

I suppose it's still a trope, in the sense that this is our 'established couple', but the best thing about that is getting to see the couple get to know each other, learn how to communicate and work through their hangups.

What that means is there's some incredibly intense dialogue in Just Words and a few loose ends resulting from it that I know Ofelia will return to, but I like that not all the answers are known.

Aiden is my second to least favourite character in the Nortown series (Jason holds the crown), and I really enjoyed watching another layer of his defensiveness peel back under Tristan's big, rough lumberjack hands.

* * * * *

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 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.

* * *


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?

* * *


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.

* * *


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?

* * *


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?

* * *


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?

* * *


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?

* * *


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?