Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review Tour: Poke Check by RJ Scott & VL Locey

Title: Poke Check
Authors: RJ Scott & VL Locey
Series: Harrisburg Railers #4
Genre: M/M Sports Romance
Release Date: February 14, 2018
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.

Stanislav “Stan” Lyamin is happy playing for the Railers. The towering goalie is well-loved, respected, and making a home for himself even though that home only contains him, his cat, and his growing Pokemon trading card collection. Stan prefers it that way.

He’d given his heart to a man in a secret affair, and that man walked away, leaving Stan shattered. Now Erik is back in his life, and he has the same tumultuous effect he had on Stan’s heart as before. This time it’s not just a kissable mouth and sweet blond curls that Erik has brought to Harrisburg, there’s a soon-to-be ex-wife and a precious baby.

Despite the vow Stan made to hate Erik forever, he’s now finding it harder and harder to turn away.

Erik Gunnarsson’s dream had always been to play in the NHL, he just never imagined he’d land a contract with the Railers. Who would have thought that fate would put him on the same team as Stanislav Lyamin; the man whose heart he’d callously broken?

Secrets and lies had defined their summer relationship, and the choice that Erik made to end it all haunts him still. In the middle of a messy divorce and with a baby in tow, Erik finds himself back in Stan’s life. Now all he has to do is be the best dad he can be, prove to the team that he deserves the chance to stay on the roster and try his hardest to get Stan to forgive him.

Is it possible to persuade a man who hates you to give love a second chance?

Stanislav Lyamin is loving his time as the Railers' goalie. He has his team, his cat, and his Pokeman cards and that is enough.  Having given his heart to another and then having it ripped out was enough for him, he's content.  Erik Gunnarsson is trying to make a life for him and his infant son, so when he's signed to play for the Railers not only does it give him the chance to fullfil his dream of playing for the NHL but also the chance at stability for his little boy.  Knowing the team's goalie is the man he left brokenhearted is a double edged sword.  Can Stan and Erik work together to bring victory to the team and will they be able to heal their hearts or is too late?

Followers of my reviews probably recall from the first three entries in the Harrisburg Railers series that I am not a hockey fan.  Again, I don't hate the sport(I actually watched quite a bit of it during the Olympics this month😉) but if all the hockey arenas were to disappear from the world tomorrow I wouldn't miss it.  I'm not trying to insult hockey fans or be disparaging of the sport I just think its worth mentioning because I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this series so not being a hockey fan I think it says it better than anything how amazing the authors are in telling these stories.

As for Poke Check, well when I heard that Stan was getting his own story I was beyond stoked.  Stan is the man!  Yes, I went there😉  When it comes to Erik, well I wanted to hate him for breaking Stan's heart but he is just so lovable.  Personally, I don't think there is anything sexier than a man who is taking care of a child, especially when Erik is so loving towards little Noah, so determined to give him a good life and has sacrificed so much to do so.  The pairs' reconnecting is just the right pace to make Poke Check a close second in the series for me.  I don't think any pairing will top Tennant and Jared from Changing Lines but Stan and Erik give them a darn good race.  One more thing about Stan: I've read many an accents in books and I hardly ever "hear" the accents in my head but with Stan, it was like he was sitting right next to me and reading me the book.  Every word, every nuance, every mistaken pronunciation or phrase, that's how I read it in my head so I just want to say kudos to whichever author was in charge of bringing Stan to life.

One more thing: if you are like me and not a hockey fan, don't worry because Scott & Locey add just the right amount of detail to the action of the game so non-fans can follow along and yet not feel like parts of it are from Hockey for DummiesPoke Check is a wondrous blend of romance, drama, lust, family, friendship, and love.  If asked should the series be read in order? I am going to say yes.  Each entry is technically a standalone as each is a different pairing but I just find the friendships grow with each one so I definitely recommend in order but it doesn't have to be, you won't be lost if read out of sequence.


There are many people I would have rather seen standing on the ice of my practice arena than Erik. For example my beloved sister, Galina, my sainted mother, Arina, my cat, Lucy, or my new gay American heartthrob, Zachary Quinto.

Zachary would be wearing only a smile even though it’s cold on the ice.

But no, none of them were standing in front of me wearing a Railers sweater and curls. Those damn golden curls. They’d always tempted me beyond sense. As had his mouth. And the way he would tilt his head when he was trying to understand me out of bed. In bed? There was no language barrier. Our bodies had always been tuned to each other like radio waves to a satellite dish.

Even now, I felt the low hum of his presence in my veins. I had feared this moment would come. From the first time I’d heard his name mentioned as being a new member of the Rush, our AHL feeder team, I’d known he would eventually stand in front of me, tipping his head, with his curls, his eyes and his mouth.

Connor was looking at me as if he expected something from me. Ah yes, words. He wanted me to say something. How did “go fuck a donkey” translate into English?

“We are known to each other.”

I skated to my net, mask perched on my head, and tried to focus. The humming in my blood was unsettling. Closing my eyes, I let the blue ice under my skates talk to me. Opening myself up to the sounds of hockey, the stress of seeing Erik again lessened. I whispered to the pipes as I tapped them. Asked them in Russian if they were going to be my friends during this practice.

“Uh, hey, I know this is a strict breach of protocol and all…but is there a problem between you and Gunner?”

I glanced to the left. Tennant stood there, geared up, his stick casually resting across his shoulders. So Erik now had his American hockey nickname. Why didn’t I have a new American hockey nickname? Pah. I was being petty. It tasted bad on my tongue.

“Gunner is okay person from time back in space.” Was that right? English was hard to speak. It made no sense. How could there be three ways to spell one word? Russian was simple. Strong. Pure. A language of passion and spirit. American was whiney and tied my brain into knots. No, that was not true. American was a wonderful language. It was me who was whiney and unhappy. “Time back. In the back of time. Is bad time to talk. Go away.”

RJ Scott
RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

VL Locey
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, two dogs, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and three Jersey steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

RJ Scott

VL Locey

Poke Check #4

Changing Lines #1

First Season #2

Deep Edge #3

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Feb 16 - Hearts On Fire ReviewsThe Geekery Book ReviewBooklove
Feb 21 - We Three QueensSarandipityScattered Thoughts & Rogue WordsMaking It HappenBooks After FiftyMM Good Book ReviewsJessie G Books
Feb 23 - My Book Filled Life
Feb 26 - Book Lovers 4EverWicked Faerie's Tales & ReviewsWicked Reads
Feb 28 - Valerie UllmerJim's Reading RoomPadme's Library
March 2 - MirrigoldBayou Book Junkie

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Book Blitz: The History of Hilary Hambrushina by Marnie Lamb

Title: The History of Hilary Hambrushina
Author: Marnie Lamb
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Release Date: May 31, 2017
Hilary has one goal for her first year in junior high: to become popular. But her plans are turned upside down when her best friend leaves for the summer and a quirky girl named Kallie moves in next door. Kallie paints constellations on her ceiling, sleeps in a hammock, and enacts fantastical plays in front of cute boys on the beach. Yet despite Kallie’s lack of interest in being -cool, – Hilary and Kallie find themselves becoming friends. That summer friendship, however, is put to the test when school begins, reigniting Hilary’s obsession with climbing the social ladder. As Hilary discovers the dark side to popularity, she must decide who she wants to be before she loses everything.

I put on a sweatband and sneakers and brought down a water bottle. My plan was to pedal non-stop for an hour. I figured I could do it, since I was used to riding my own bike, and how different could this bike be? I should lose at least one pound that way, I told myself. So if I use the bike every day, in fifteen days I’ll have lost the weight I want to lose.

I stepped over boxes and piles of books to reach the bike, which sat in a dark corner. This corner had a musty smell, like an old church that hadn’t been dusted since Queen Victoria was my age. A fake raccoon-fur hat someone had given my dad as a joke hung on the wall nearby.

The bike seat was too high for me, but I couldn’t move it because it was screwed in place. Gripping the handlebars for support, I tried to heave my leg over the seat several times without success. I was becoming angry and sweaty, so I started breathing deeply, like I was having a baby, to calm myself down. “Hoo hoo hoo.”

“Hilary!” shouted my mom. “Why are you making monkey noises?”

I froze. I knew that if I said, “It’s nothing,” she’d come down, and I didn’t want her to think I needed help getting on a stationary bicycle. So I called, “I’m just playing a game.”

I managed to lift myself on to the bike. I had to stretch to reach the pedals, but I finally did and started pumping. It was O.K. at first, but soon, my muscles felt like some psycho was using them as rubber bands. And some people actually do this for fun! What’s wrong with them, I thought. I reached for the water bottle and tried to squirt some water in my mouth. Nothing but air came out. I’d forgotten to fill the bottle! I threw it away and continued to pump furiously. Objects on the wall began rattling, and I was making so many strange noises my mother must have thought a whole pack of monkeys was performing a conga line in the basement. I began to have visions of monkeys in spangly pink bikinis kicking up their heels (did monkeys have heels, I wondered) on stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Suddenly my sweatband fell over my eyes. I didn’t stop to fix it, though. You’re going to pump for the full hour, not for fifty-nine minutes, I ordered myself. Instead, I tried nodding vigorously to get the sweatband to fall under my chin. It fell over my nose and I couldn’t breathe. Then something dark and furry leapt on my head, covering my eyes and tickling my face like a bunch of feathers. I screamed, batting at the thing with one hand and pumping frantically, as if I could escape that way. I soon realized it was only my dad’s hat, but I still couldn’t get it off. Finally I stumbled off the bike and yanked the hat’s tail away from my eyes.

I had no energy left to remove the hat, so I left it on and trudged upstairs. I passed my mom, who took one look at me and started to snicker. Ignoring her, I went into the kitchen to check the clock. I’d been on the bike five minutes.

So that was the end of my experiment with exercising.

  • “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield
  • “Bourgeois Shangri-La” by Miss Li
  • “Video” by India Arie
  • “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  • “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor
  • “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To” by Lesley Gore
  • “Stupid Girls” by Pink
  • “O-o-h, Child” by The Five Stairsteps
  • “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
  •  “City of Stars” by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul

Significant Moments in My Life with My Mother
One of the major themes in my young adult novel, The History of Hilary Hambrushina, is mother-daughter relationships. Like several of the other young characters, Hilary has a turbulent relationship with her mother. The book’s publication has caused me to reflect on my own relationship with my mother and its evolution.

With the exception of one year when I was fifteen (a year in which my mother struggled with working at a job she disliked and I struggled with being fifteen), my mother and I have always been close. For me, the biggest change in our relationship has been my finding a way to maintain that closeness while forging my own path, sometimes in a different direction or using different building materials to what my mother had envisioned for me. Although I had a few moments of open rebellion as a child and teen, I never had the type of combative relationship that Hilary has with her mom. Quite the opposite: I wanted to please my mother and felt anxious at the thought of her disapproval. So I didn’t engage in the typical tween and teenage misdeeds: drinking, smoking, shoplifting, or cutting classes. The fact that my introverted, cautious, and independent personality—bearing no small resemblance to that of my mother—left me with little to no interest in sampling these activities facilitated my choice.

Rather, my revolution took the form of advocacy for following the path that I believed to be right for me. The first battle came when I was twenty and was offered the chance to travel to the homeland of a friend from the Middle East. My mom made her concern and displeasure known. I calmly explained that this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that I was an adult, and that I had made the decision to go. Once my mom knew that I was serious and that I had thought carefully about this choice, she became reconciled to it. The second battle occurred several years later, when I decided to move away to pursue a second graduate degree. This meant leaving a contract government job that had the possibility of becoming permanent. My mom could not understand why I would choose to leave a potentially steady and lucrative job to study for a second master’s degree in the same subject area. But I knew that leaving was the right path for me, and again, I ignored the objections and pursued the goal of applying to various master’s programs. By the time I was accepted with a scholarship to the University of Windsor, my mom was fully on board with my plan. I believe that the form of my revolution allowed me to maintain my close relationship with my mother. I wasn’t rebelling for the sake of testing boundaries, but rather out of a deep conviction about what was best for me. When my mother realized this, she respected my choices, and we were able to move past our differences and on to a more adult relationship.

For me, the most striking part of this reflection is the realization that, just as my mother has seen me as an adult for many years, I now see her as one. By that, I mean that I see her as a unique individual whom I don’t fully know, as someone who is capable of surprising me by revealing hitherto-unknown aspects of herself. Two occasions stand out. The first happened eleven years ago, when my parents were on holiday in the Dominican Republic. At the resort in which she and my father were staying, my mother recognized several women whom she’d previously seen only in pictures: the editors of a popular Canadian women’s magazine to which my mother had been a subscriber for years. Knowing that I was unhappy in my current job and that I was looking for a new editing position, my mother marched up to the editor-in-chief, complimented her on the magazine, and presented my credentials to her as a potential job candidate. The editor expressed interest in hearing from me and then asked how old my mother was. When she responded, the editor explained that she was looking for women of varying ages to model swimwear for a spread showcasing bathing suits for “real women.” To my great surprise when my mother called me a week later with the news, she became a senior citizen swimsuit model. In an era when people of different colours, shapes, sizes, and ages are finally being celebrated, my mother, in her quiet way, helped blaze a path that broke away from the well-trod road of ageism.

My second surprise occurred a few years later, when my mom told me that she and my father had attended a lecture given by Irshad Manji, the prominent Canadian Muslim feminist. I paused, then pointed out that Manji is of a different faith and sexual orientation than my mother. How could my conservative and traditional mother be interested in spending an evening listening to such a radically different perspective, I wondered. Yet the perspective was perhaps not so different. “She’s so wise and such a good speaker,” enthused my mother. “Someone in the audience said that there are no Christians today who are challenging narrow-minded interpretations of their faith, and she responded, ‘Oh, but there are. There are people with whom we’re working towards peace.’” I was moved at the notion of a broader collaboration between two faith groups portrayed in the media as almost always at loggerheads with one another. But I was even more moved at the thought of my mother, again in her quiet way, showing openness, compassion, and a rebellion of her own against the status quo that would box her into a stereotypical way of thinking or acting. In both these moments, I was as proud of my mother as I hope she was of me for forging my own path.

Author Bio:
A Journey Prize nominee, Marnie Lamb earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in various Canadian literary journals. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, is forthcoming from Iguana Books. When she is not writing fiction or running her freelance editing business, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out colourful fashions at the One of a Kind Show.


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Release Blitz: Winter Cowboy by RJ Scott

Title: Winter Cowboy
Author: RJ Scott
Series: Whisper Ridge, Wyoming #1
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: February 25, 2018
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Micah Lennox left Whisper Ridge after promising the man he loved that he would never return. But the only way he knows to keep his pregnant sister and nephew safe is to go home. Spending winter in Wyoming opens too many old wounds, but he's on the run from justice which can't be far behind, and this is his last chance at redemption.

After a hostage situation leaves Doctor Daniel Sheridan struggling with PTSD, he returns to Whisper Ridge. Joining his dad in family practice is a balm to soothe his exhausted soul, and somehow, he finds a peace he can live with. That is until he meets Micah in a frozen graveyard, and the years of anger and feelings of betrayal boiling inside him, erupt.

Two broken men fight and scratch for their lives and that of their families, and somehow, in the middle of it all, they find each other.

Is it possible that love can be rekindled and become a forever to believe in?

Chapter 1
2009, Daniel
A figure stood beside Isaac’s grave and I knew immediately who it was.

There was no marker yet for the boy who had died two weeks ago and who would forever be nineteen. Flowers marked his resting place, but snow had long since covered them and softened the raised earth so it wasn’t as obvious against the gravestones around the figure. A car accident had taken Isaac, killed him on impact, and his family grieved for a future that would never be realized.

I’d just left my brother, Chris, in the hospital, broken beyond repair in the same accident. At least we had the possibility of a future with him, even though the road to recovery would be hard. He was still in a medically induced coma, not yet awake to know he’d lost his leg, or that fire had marked his face. But he would wake up. They told us he’d live.

No one had asked me where I was going when I’d left Chris’ room, each of us lost in various stages of shock and grief, and we all dealt with what had happened in our own way. I’d needed to connect with Isaac. Needed the peace to balance the loss and guilt that ate away inside me.

Isaac dead on impact, Chris’ future destroyed, and in front of me, hunched over Isaac’s last resting place, was the man responsible for it all.

The man who left my bed in the dead of night to become a murderer.


He was huddled into his coat, the January ice bitter by the buried, hands forced into his pockets, and his hood pulled around his face. Micah must have heard me, because he glanced my way, startled, grief written on his face. And then his expression changed.

He stepped toward me, his expression full of something like hope.

“Daniel?” he said. “Is Chris okay? No one will let me see him.”

He stopped walking when I didn’t reach out for him and looked at me uncertainly.

“His leg is gone, down from his knee,” I explained dispassionately, and then touched my face, “and his burns are bad, the left side of his face from his temple to his chin.”

“Shit. Shit.” Micah bent at the waist, as if he couldn’t breathe, and he was crying.

“How is it you don’t have a mark on you?” I asked, still eerily calm, and utterly focused.

He took his hand from his pocket, and pulled up his sleeve, exposing bandages. “I was burned,” he began. He dropped his hand when I didn’t comment, forced it back into his pocket, wincing as he did so.

I imagined the burn hurt a little, maybe even a lot, but he was there, as whole and real as when he’d left my bed on that terrible day.

In my mind I saw Chris in the hospital, the covers raised over the cage which protected his surgical site, then dipping lower where his ankle should have been. I saw a clear image of Isaac the day before he died, knocking for Chris and grinning at me as if he had the greatest secret to tell his best friend.

And here was Micah, telling me he had slight burns on his arm? The same man who’d told me in one breath that he loved me and then had stolen my car, driving it into a bridge and killing one boy, leaving another maimed and in a coma.

My fist flew, clenched aggression targeting Micah’s face, his cheekbone, and I heard a satisfying crunch. He staggered back a step, but he didn’t go down, and he didn’t take his hands from his pockets. I was too fast. I hit him again, blood flecking his face, dissipating into the icy air. He moved again, the force of my blows shoving him back.

Still, his hands remained in his pockets, and he was unnervingly quiet, taking my hits as if they were nothing at all. Another punch connected with his lip and split the skin, and this time he grunted in pain. He staggered backward toward the next grave and bent back over the stone marker with the force of that final blow. I stepped closer. I hit him again, connecting with his jaw, but the hit wasn’t hard. There was nothing to it; he didn’t move away.

“You took my car,” I yelled, right in his face.

“You said I could borrow it,” he pleaded.

I raised my hand to hit him again, but he winced, and closed his eyes, and I wanted him to look at me. “Open your damn eyes!”

He did, and he wouldn’t avert his gaze, naked grief in his expression.

“Daniel, please listen.”

“You’ve destroyed Chris’ life.”

“I know.”

“You need to leave Whisper Ridge, and never come back. I don’t want to see your face, I don’t want Chris to ever see you again. You understand?”

“I understand,” his tone low and broken.

“You will never come back here.” I shook him. He was smaller than me, thinner, lighter, and I shook him so hard his head snapped back. “Promise me!”

“I pr—promise,” he said through tears.

I was disgusted by him, hated him, wanted to kill him right there on Isaac’s grave.

“I hope they lock you up and throw away the fucking key!” I was still shouting, and he didn’t move, just stared at me with those pale eyes, red and wet from crying. He wouldn’t stop crying. “Don’t fucking stare at me!”

I shoved him one last time, and then before I could work out what the hell I was still doing there shouting at him, I pivoted and turned my back on him, and on Isaac’s grave, and the entire carnage.

Author Bio:
RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


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