“These authors made magic with this story.” Review of Vespertine by Leta Blake & Indra Vaughn

“This book had me reeling basically from the beginning. I couldn’t put it down. The tension and true love between these men left me hurting and yearning for them. There pain and hurt but also peace and hope and love. I just loved this book so much. Like I said these authors made magic with this story. It’s an absolute must read!”

Source: Goodreads | Love Bytes Reviews (Oak Harbor, WA)’s review of Vespertine

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“[Ms. Blake] gets love, and gets it both deeply and movingly. Which leaves The River Leith not just a good book, but a beautiful one.” #gay #mmromance

“The River Leith” is a perfectly lovely book. The title is a play on the Greek myth of the River Lethe, the “river of forgetfulness”, the river that takes away the memories of their lifetimes from the dead as they move on. And it’s an appropriate name. Leith was a promising young boxer, on his way to the New York State Boxing Championship, until an illegal blow from his opponent sent him, instead, to the ICU with brain damage. His critical faculties remained intact, but his memory not so much. He has completely lost the last three years of his life. It’s called Retrograde Amnesia and robbed him of the knowledge of his father’s death, his friends, his career aspirations, and the man he loved more than life. In fact, when asked during his intake exam, he informed his doctors that he’s 100% heterosexual.

A questionable decision by his doctors and friends comes back to haunt both Leith and his lover, Zach. The wisdom of the day was that, since Leith has lost all memory of Zach, they would wait to tell him that the two were a committed couple until he might be able to handle it better. When he finally does “meet” Zach (Zach had been by his side during the worst of it, but not in the early stages of recovery), he doesn’t remember him at all. For Leith, he’s meeting someone for the first time. He can’t quite understand why he constantly wants to touch Zach, why he checks out his butt every time he bends over, why Zach’s presence brings him the first and only peace and joy he’s known since his brain was damaged.

Ms. Blake spends a lot of the book walking the reader through the recovery process. Perhaps “recovery” is not a good word, as he will never regain his memory. However, he needs to learn how to deal with other people, how to deal with the great gaps in his history and knowledge, and how to control the violence that rears its ugly head as Leith deals with the frustration of “knowing he should know” things and people he cannot remember. Most important, Zach and Leith have to fall in love again – from scratch.

Zach is, of course, devastated that his lover doesn’t even recognize him. Yet there is something growing between the two men – as though the brain has forgotten Leith’s lover, but not his love. All he knows is that Zach and only Zach can put a smile on his face, bring joy to his heart, and he misses him terribly when he’s not around. He’s about to leave the hospital and he’ll have to deal with the real world, the people, places and events he’s forgotten, and plot out a new future for himself – or better, one for himself and Zach.

Ms. Blake does a wonderful job plumbing the psychology of victims of brain damage, thinking about the big picture, the known and unknowable universe, and the very nature of love. It’s wonderful to read, to experience vicariously, and her writing is more than up to the task. She has Leith’s hospital psychiatrist wax philosophical and metaphorical, which gives Ms. Blake the opportunity to show how beautifully creative her thinking and writing are. In offering Zach a different way of looking as his missing years:

“Not lost, but found. In wonder.”

These words are one of the best descriptions of love I’ve read in a very long time:

“…the crazy feeling that overwhelmed him – the thing that was like happiness and comfort and want and need and God-so-good all in one – made them both feel whole again.

I originally intended to give “The River Leith” only four stars. Yes, I loved it, but it didn’t initially strike me as a very important or exceptional addition to the M/M genre, just a good book. When I went back to the two lines I quoted above, I changed my rating to five stars for the engaging characters, the realistic and charming dialogue, the unique concept, the depth of Ms. Blake’s understanding of the brain, but most of all, for the sheer beauty of her writing. She “gets” love, and “gets” it both deeply and movingly. Which leaves “The River Leith” not just a good book, but a beautiful one.

My highest recommendation.

via Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The River Leith.

The River Leith is available now at:

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And now at KOBO.

Memory is everything.  After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.  For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach's choices may come back to haunt him.  Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.
Memory is everything.
After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.
For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach’s choices may come back to haunt him.
Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.

” I am just amazed by this book.” DiverseReader’s review of Smoky Mountain Dreams #gay #romance #amreading

“Brilliant! The love I have for this story is gigantic. Right from the start I was pulled in. Christopher broke my heart. Tore it to shreds, then dipped it into lemon juice. Then he met broken Jesse. They pulled through all the darkness because they had each other. They experienced loss and they are true fighters. I loved how Leta Blake took all these avenues and placed them perfectly so when they met it was a smooth road in the end. There are always battles, whether it be not only falling in love with someone but falling in love with their kids, or realizing the road to forever is paved in shards of glass only true love can heal. I am just amazed by this book.”

via Amazon.com: DiverseReader’s review of Smoky Mountain Dreams.

Sometimes holding on means letting go Christopher Ryder and Jesse Birch are two men hanging on to the past. While Christopher has let go of his failure as a country singer in Nashville, he's still trying to please his narrow-minded, non-accepting family. His beloved Gran loves him the way he is, but Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. He’s happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee, but even when Christopher is center stage he aches for someone to see the real him. There's more than meets the eye when it comes to bisexual Jesse. He's raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother. There's no room in his life for dating, his kids are his priority, and he doesn't want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn't want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
Sometimes holding on means letting go
Christopher Ryder and Jesse Birch are two men hanging on to the past. While Christopher has let go of his failure as a country singer in Nashville, he’s still trying to please his narrow-minded, non-accepting family. His beloved Gran loves him the way he is, but Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. He’s happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee, but even when Christopher is center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to bisexual Jesse. He’s raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother. There’s no room in his life for dating, his kids are his priority, and he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.

Smoky Mountain Dreams is available now at:

AMAZON
B&N
SMASHWORDS
iTUNES
SCRIBD
OYSTER

And now at KOBO.

“I loved every bit of this book and found myself longing for more!” 5 stars – Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake #mmromance #bestseller

Wendy at Hearts On Fire Revews says:

This book is set in the fall of the year leading up to Christmas. It’s my favorite season leading to my favorite holiday. I love the scenery that Mother Nature puts on display – the vivid hues of reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves on the trees and bushes. Not everything is beautiful because there are also the darker browns and almost colorless debris that can be found as well. It all seemed kind of symbolic of the depth and complexity, the bright spots and struggles that can be found in this story. And just like my favorite season, I loved every bit of this book while it lasted and found myself longing for more in the end.

The reds, oranges and yellows:

• Christopher – humble and good to the core. He’s a man who adores his Gran and hears her advice in his head when he needs a little reality check. He has reconciled himself to always being second best (in life and in love). He puts others first even if it means heartache for himself. He secretly longs to belong in a family and to have someone really “see” him and actually make him their first choice. I would so totally make him mine if I could (or hug the stuffing out of him trying).
• Jesse – devoted and loyal. He’s open and honest and sincere about trying to do the right things whether it’s caring for and advocating for his wife, guiding his children or speaking openly with Christopher (I loved how Chris and Jesse could actually communicate and share their true thoughts with one another). He may have been bi-sexual, but it really seemed to be a one-off with his wife. He was a man’s man in all other respects.
• Strong women – Christopher’s Gran and Jesse’s sister Amanda were both awesome in their ability to give the best advice and guide their respective men with a swift kick in the ass when needed!
• The passion and the sex – reds, oranges and yellows definitely represent how hot and colorful these guys were when getting down to business. From the exceptional love of rimming (so very intimate), to down and dirty talk, to the creative use of, um, pearls, to their own special post anal sex soothing ritual, I loved being privy to their private moments and very glad they were quite plentiful!

READ MORE OF HER REVIEW AT HEARTS ON FIRE!

Smoky Mountain Dreams is available now at:

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iTUNES
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OYSTER

And now at KOBO.

SMOKY MOUNTAIN DREAMS IS A TREASURE! | Bike Book Reviews #gay #1Click

“This is a book you shouldn’t miss, the characters will crawl into your heart and take up permanent residence! Love is just what these two men needed, together they will find the family they didn’t even know they were looking for! I love Leta Blake’s style, and how she can grab and hold your attention with even the littlest details of the story! Thanks Leta, for a lovely book it will be fun to revisit!    *5 Stars*”

via SMOKY MOUNTAIN DREAMS IS A TREASURE! | Bike Book Reviews.

Sometimes holding on means letting go Christopher Ryder and Jesse Birch are two men hanging on to the past. While Christopher has let go of his failure as a country singer in Nashville, he's still trying to please his narrow-minded, non-accepting family. His beloved Gran loves him the way he is, but Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. He’s happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee, but even when Christopher is center stage he aches for someone to see the real him. There's more than meets the eye when it comes to bisexual Jesse. He's raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother. There's no room in his life for dating, his kids are his priority, and he doesn't want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn't want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
Sometimes holding on means letting go
Christopher Ryder and Jesse Birch are two men hanging on to the past. While Christopher has let go of his failure as a country singer in Nashville, he’s still trying to please his narrow-minded, non-accepting family. His beloved Gran loves him the way he is, but Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. He’s happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee, but even when Christopher is center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to bisexual Jesse. He’s raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother. There’s no room in his life for dating, his kids are his priority, and he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.

Smoky Mountain Dreams is available now at:

AMAZON
B&N
SMASHWORDS
iTUNES
SCRIBD
OYSTER

And now at KOBO.

“Another GREAT Leta Blake read!” 5 stars – Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake #gayromance #amreading

“Absolutely fantastic. I don’t really have words but I felt all the feels. The characters are extremely likable and even when they make mistakes, they are big boys about it and apologized. The book went a different direction that I thought it would and when I saw the conflict taking shape, I was really impressed.So, so so well done. Leta Blake is one of my fave romance authors. THE RIVER LEITH is still one of my top 2014 reads and this is right up there with that.”

via Amazon.com: Megan’s review of Smoky Mountain Dreams.

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Smoky Mountain Dreams is available now at:

AMAZON
B&N
SMASHWORDS
iTUNES
SCRIBD
OYSTER

And now at KOBO.

“This was my second book by Leta Blake and it was just as good as the first!!” 5 stars!| Review of The River Leith #mmromance #gay

“I have no words for all the emotions I feel after reading this book! Simple and to the point it was heartbreaking yet beautiful! This was my second book by Leta Blake and it was just as good as the first!!”

via Goodreads | Amanda Barnes’s review of The River Leith.

 

Memory is everything. After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain. For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach's choices may come back to haunt him. Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.
Memory is everything.
After an injury in the ring, amateur boxer Leith Wenz wakes to discover his most recent memories are three years out of date. Unmoored and struggling to face his new reality, Leith must cope anew with painful revelations about his family. His brother is there to support him, but it’s the unfamiliar face of Zach, a man introduced as his best friend, that provides the calm he craves. Until Zach’s presence begins to stir up feelings Leith can’t explain.
For Zach, being forgotten by his lover is excruciating. He carefully hides the truth from Leith to protect them both from additional pain. His bottled-up turmoil finds release through vlogging, where he confesses his fears and grief to the faceless Internet. But after Leith begins to open up to him, Zach’s choices may come back to haunt him.
Ultimately, Leith must ask his heart the questions memory can no longer answer.

#Free Recipe, Books, Gift Cards, and More! – Indra Vaughn: The House On Hancock Hill #ebook #mmromance

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Pastry chef and bakery owner Jason Wood bakes a mean chocolate soufflé, yet his love life keeps falling flat. He’d blame his past if he wasn’t trying so hard to avoid it.

When his family’s farmhouse burns to the ground, he’s summoned to identify a body found in the ashes. Jason returns to Hancock, Michigan, and reunites with a childhood friend, small town vet Henry McCavanaugh. After fifteen years apart, their rekindled friendship soon develops into much more. But Jason’s baggage threatens their blossoming romance, and he leaves town unannounced to escape his feelings—and Henry’s feelings for him. He has learned the hard way if something seems too good to be true, it’s best to run for the hills. Jason stress-bakes more confections than he knows what to do with before wondering if he’s running in the wrong direction.

Available now at AmazonARe and Dreamspinner!

HouseonHancockHill[cover]
Available now at Amazon, ARe and Dreamspinner!
Today, Indra Vaughn is here on my blog to share a recipe from her upcoming book, The House on Hancock Hill. She’s also running a giveaway and has provided a wonderful excerpt from the book! Let’s welcome Indra! And check out her book!

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On the morning after Jason ends up staying at Henry’s house (completely platonically… for now), he makes some amazing French toast. Now, this recipe isn’t entirely the same, but let’s just say in the meantime Jason has discovered Henry’s love for all things Nutella 🙂

Nutella & Banana French Toast

What you will need:

• Tablespoon of oil or cooking spray
• 4 big bananas, the riper the better
• 8 slices of bread, whichever you prefer making French toast with
• Nutella
• 1/2 cup milk (you can use heavy cream if you don’t care about the calories)
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• cinnamon to taste (I always think less is more when it comes to cinnamon, but I know some people like lots of it!)
• Optional: Powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat the cooking spray or oil in an oven proof skillet over medium heat.
3. Pair up your slices of bread, spread Nutella on all of them, and banana mash on half of the slices. Then make closed sandwiches out of them.
4. Whisk the milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl.
5. Dip the bread in the bowl until it’s nice and soaked. (If the bread is very absorbent, you might have to make a little more of the mix.)
6. Cook the bread in the skillet for 2 minutes on either side, then place all the slices in the oven on an ungreased baking sheet for 8 minutes, keeping an eye out so there is no burning.
7. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top of the toast to make it look pretty if you like, then serve up and enjoy!

Note: If you don’t like bananas or for variety’s sake, you can skip those, just add the Nutella, and decorate with strawberries or a fruit you do like at the end!

Time for the Giveaway!

The prizes:
1. A signed copy of The House on Hancock Hill + a choice of my backlist + a $25 Amazon GC + a selection of Swag!
2. A signed copy of The House on Hancock Hill + a $10 Amazon GC + a selection of Swag!
3. An e-copy in the format of your choice of The House on Hancock Hill + a $5 Amazon GC

Follow the link to participate –> a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you would like to get in touch with me in the meantime, you can find me on:
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Now go forth and indulge in something yummy.

Excerpt:

Since the bakery had closed two hours ago, I considered not going inside the shop to check who it was, but the knock came again. I couldn’t remember any other time anyone had tried to get in at this hour, so I stuck my head through the kitchen door. A man was pressing a hand to the window and peering in. I didn’t need to turn on the light to see who it was. That build—those strong shoulders and narrow waist, sharp cheekbones and a well-defined jaw. An exquisitely tailored three-piece suit.

It was Tom.

If he hadn’t spotted me then, I’d have hidden in the kitchen and waited for him to leave. Swallowing hard, I wiped my hands on a clean towel, snatched off my chef’s hat, and quickly looked down. There was chocolate on my apron, a smear of marzipan on my sleeve. I had butter under my nails.

Well, he’d arrived unannounced, he’d have to take it or leave it. I unlocked the door and stepped back, pulling it open. On the threshold, Tom smiled at me in a way that used to make my heart swell.

“My God, Jason.” Tom said nothing else, and I couldn’t help it: it thrilled me to see him look at me like that.

“Tom.” I faltered. What could I say? Good to see you? I wasn’t sure it was. He grinned at me, and it was so familiar, it ached somewhere inside me even after all these years.

“I sent you an email a couple of days ago to say I was in town, but I gather from the look on your face you didn’t get it.”

“It’s been really busy.” With an apologetic little wave, I indicated the yellow and green Easter decorations, the chocolate ducklings arranged in a row according to size, the huge halved chocolate eggs filled with smaller sugar eggs.

“Well that’s great,” he said, smiling a warm, white-toothed smile. “I’m pleased. Is this a really bad time? I’d love to take a look around your bakery.”

“I—yeah, sure.” I stepped aside and let him in, locking the door again so no one else could wander in. At the back of the shop, I flicked the lights on and then watched Tom look around.

To see him here was surreal. He was part of a life that had been over for so long, I didn’t know if I was comfortable with him in my bakery.

Who was I kidding? Of course I wasn’t comfortable. Tom looked like he’d walked off the front cover of Forbes magazine, and I probably had flour in my hair. To be fair, he peered around with real interest. When he spotted the marzipan animals in every color imaginable, I thought he was going to press his face to the display window like a kid. Tom didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I remember marzipan being his Achilles’ heel.

“Those look amazing,” he said on cue, and I laughed. “Did you make all this yourself?”

“I do the confections and Alice does the bread.” Tom beamed at me, and I rolled my eyes. “Yes, you can try one.” I stepped behind the counter and plucked a little pink piglet off the tray, handing it over with a smirk.

“Thanks, Jason. I’ll pay you.”

“No need. Go on, try it.”

Tom bit off the nose. For some reason I knew he’d do that. “Mmmm,” he went, closing his eyes and making a dramatic blissful face. “Oh my God.” He ate the rest of the piglet and licked his fingers. “That article wasn’t lying.”

I frowned at him and took off my stained apron, draping it over the cash register. “What article?”

With a dismissive wave of his hand, Tom explored the rest of the display. “Just something I read awhile back. I can’t remember where, but it’s how I found out you owned your own bakery. Oh.” He straightened. “It was about opening a second one in Detroit and how it was quickly becoming a household name or something.” I hadn’t read the article, but I couldn’t say it didn’t please me to hear it. “Who was it that opened the other one? Denny Sherwood or something?”

“Sheridan. Denny Sheridan. Sherwood is the name of the bakery.”

“Right, of course.” He looked at me out of the corner of his eye. “Got to be tough to have a long distance thing going.”

Laughing at the badly hidden snooping, I said, “He’s married with two kids.”

Tom headed back my way and grinned at me with an open affection I wasn’t used to from him. “It’s so good to see you. I didn’t give you a hug. Can I hug you, or are you still allergic to affection?”

A sudden lump rammed its way into my throat when I thought about how I’d kissed Henry in front of his clinic, visible to all and sundry. I shoved the image away. “I guess not.” It was still awkward to hug him. Maybe because it’d been so long since I’d seen Tom, and he’d just appeared out of nowhere. Or maybe I was forever going to be unable to adjust to holding someone shorter.

“You look good,” Tom said, and I let him go.

“You too.”

After a silence that had me look away first, Tom said, “Is there anywhere we can get dinner at this hour, or does everything close at eight?” He laughed, but for some reason his attitude grated on me. Traverse City wasn’t that small.

“I’m actually in the middle of making a chocolate Easter bunny. I can’t leave it overnight.”

“Can I watch?”

That was the last thing I wanted, but I didn’t know how to say it without being rude, and I doubted very much the request would’ve bothered me if it had come from Henry. “Okay. Yeah, sure.”

The Easter bunny broke in two when I took it out of the mold. Tom was perched on the clean worktable behind me, and he laughed. It took me a good minute before I could turn around without showing moisture in my eyes. Tom slid off the counter and put his hands on my arms, rubbing them up and down, so I probably hadn’t hidden my dismay very well.

“Come on,” he said. “Let me take you to dinner.”

“I’ll go grab my coat.” I went into the small office. It had a little mirror behind the door, and I quickly checked my hair. It did have flour in it. Ah well, at least the scar on my chin was slowly beginning to fade.

Available now at Amazon, ARe and Dreamspinner!

HouseonHancockHill[cover]
Click to buy at Amazon!